Havana to Jewish Community: “Pressure the US to Take the Deal” Reply

          Rabbi Elie Abadi recently met with senior Cuban diplomats in Washington and New York City to urge the release of imprisoned Jewish contractor Alan Gross.  JointMedia News Service (a wire service focusing on Israel and the Middle East), then interviewed Abadi — a leading figure in the Sephardic Jewish community.  Most intriguing is the following quote from its story, NY Rabbi Meets Cuban Diplomats to Urge Release of Alan Gross:

          “Clinton has suggested that the Jewish community must secure Gross’s release. The Cuban government, according to a source who spoke with JointMedia News Service on condition of anonymity, has also “requested that the Jewish community act as liaison to arrange negotiation for Gross’s release and coordinate release of the Cuban Five—to be commenced without preconditions.”  [emphasis added]

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Declassified FBI Documents Identify Another Cuban “Scholar-Spy” 2

          The declassified FBI interrogation of convicted spy Carlos Alvarez identified Miriam Rodriguez as a Cuban scholar tied to Cuban Intelligence.  Prior to his conviction, Alvarez was a professor at Florida International University (FIU).  He and his wife, Elsa, were convicted in 2007.

          Miriam Rodríguez Martínez is with the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of International Migration, a sub-element of the Center for the Study of Alternative Policies (CEAP).   In 2010, she lectured at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference in Toronto, Canada. 

Note:  See yesterday’s story, “Washington Post Clueless Again: Wants Spy Admitted to US” for amplifying information on the CEAP’s intelligence connection.

Castro Regime Continues Alan Gross Propaganda Campaign 1

          Havana’s sustained effort to trade its imprisoned spies for Alan Gross revealed a softer side recently when it allowed Dr. Mayra Levy, president of Havana’s Sephardic synagogue, the largest of Cuba’s three Jewish congregations, to travel to Washington.  Previously, the regime’s “prisoner swap” campaign was largely built around “Free the Five” organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX).  However, as awareness continues to increase about Cuban Intelligence ties to these organizations, the value of their role plummets.

          Of late, Cuba has shifted tactics, reaching out to the Jewish community and media in the state of Maryland, where the Gross family resides.  Havana benefited from Levy’s travel in two distinct ways.  First, her discussions with Jewish community leaders were well received, generating favorable publicity.   Secondly, she condemned Cuban-Americas, a priority target of Cuban Intelligence.   According to The Times of Israel, Levy stated “Cuban Jews feel “ignored” by those who managed to flee the communist nation and now live predominantly in South Florida.”  Continuing, she opined  “We receive a lot of attention from groups like the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and B’nai Brith, but are disappointed that those who share our heritage and to whom we can relate the most are not involved.”  Well done Dr. Levy – I’m sure you’ve made expelled spy and MINREX spokeswoman Josefina Vidal very proud.

 

The Times of Israel:  “Cuban Jews – We Need Help”        http://www.timesofisrael.com/cuban-jews-we-exist-and-need-help/

 

Washington Post Clueless Again: Wants Spy Admitted to US 4

          On Monday, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece titled “Cuba’s 11 Refusniks.”  This OPED condemned the State Department for preventing 11 Cuban officials from attending the 30th Conference of the Latin American Studies Association, to be held this week in San Francisco.  Sixty representatives of the Castro regime have already been approved and another six are pending. 

          The Post bemoaned the 11 denied officials, claiming “the rejections are mysterious and mystifying. Of the 11, many are well known and internationally respected academics with long-standing ties to top American scholars.”  Continuing, the commentary asked “Does the United States feel threatened by Milagros Martinez, vice rector of the University of Havana, who has relentlessly pushed scholarly exchanges with American universities?” 

          Well, since they asked, yes — we do feel threatened.  The declassified June 2005 FBI interrogation of convicted Cuban spy, Carlos Alvarez  cited Milagros Martinez as his counterpart at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of Alternative Policies (CEAP).  Alvarez worked with her extensively and told the FBI she worked for Cuban Intelligence.  He also told the FBI his spy handler once brought Rafael de la Guardia to one of their meetings. De la Guardia is the husband of Milagros Martinez.  According to Alvarez, she knew of her husband’s intelligence ties and told Alvarez “talk to them,” meaning her husband and his colleagues.

          Amplifying information is found in the book, In the Land of Mirrors: Cuban Exile Politics in the United States, where author Maria de la Angeles Torres, stated:  “In 1989 the center at the University of Havana that studied U.S.-Cuban relations spawned another office called the Centro de Estudios de Alternativas Politicos (CEAP, Center for the Study of Alternative Policies, and Arce became its head.”  [emphasis added]

          “Arce” refers to Mercedes Arce, a staff psychologist assigned to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations.  Alvarez was told that Arce could arrange a visit to the University of Havana for him. He subsequently met with Arce repeatedly in New York.  During his interrogation, the FBI confirmed for Alvarez that Arce was a Cuban agent. 

          The final piece of this puzzle comes together with the revelation that the parent organization mentioned above by Angeles Torres is The Center for North American Studies (CEA).  Library of Congress Scholar Rex Hudson long ago identified the CEA as a front organization for the intelligence wing of the Cuban Communist Party.  Hudson’s research found that this intelligence services used this “front” to conceal and facilitate its activities in the academic and diplomatic fields.  [For additional details, see Rex A. Hudson, Castro’s America Department: Coordinating Cuba’s Support for Marxist-Leninist Violence in the Americas].  

          A link to the syndicated copy of the Washington Post feature follows: 

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120522/OPINION/205220305

“Free Alan Gross” Media Blitz Continues 2

When a public relations firm has the same goal and target audiences as the Cuban dictatorship, it becomes difficult to tell where the PR ends and the propaganda begins.  Cuba Confidential first highlighted this de facto collaboration last month (See Public Relations Firm Echoes Cuban Propaganda Theme of “Trade the 5!” (April 30, 2012).  The Gross family recently hired the PR firm of Burson-Marsteller to raise awareness and pressure to get Alan Gross back.  Now this firm and Havana find themselves pursuing the identical core audiences:  the global Jewish community and residents of Gross’ home state of Maryland. These actions reflect the fundamental rule of marketing; focus on core constituencies first to build visibility and momentum.  If events of the past two days are any indication (i.e., five media stories on Alan Gross),  things are about to get become very interesting.

The Jerusalem Post:  Gross supporters press US to consider Cuban demands

http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishFeatures/Article.aspx?id=270964

 

The Jewist Daily FORWARD:  Gross Advocates Wary About Cuba Spy Deal

http://forward.com/articles/156636/gross-advocates-wary-about-cuba-spy-deal/

 

Jewish Telegraphic Agency:  Gross advocates press for consideration of some Cuban Five demands

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/05/21/3096071/gross-advocates-press-for-consideration-of-some-cuban-five-demands

 

The Baltimore Sun:  From Cuban cell, Gross thanks Jewish community for support *** [also carried by Washington Post]

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-md-alan-gross-jewish-20120521,0,241504.story

The Yankee Comandante: A story of love, revolution, and betrayal 1

The Yankee Comandante: A story of love, revolution, and betrayal.

An interesting story on William Morgan, the American who fought for Fidel Castro and became a leader of the Revolution.  Castro later accused the popular foreigner of treason and ordered him executed.  Was he working for U.S. Intelligence or did the naive idealist turn on Castro for betraying the revolution?  How and when did Morgan fall under suspicion?  It will likely be years before we know the whole truth, but writer David Grann does a nice job weaving together the enigma that is William Morgan. An entertaining and informative read.

More…

Ambassador “Burned” As Cuban Spy 2

Carlos Rafael Zamora Rodriguez, Havana’s Ambassador to Brazil, is a career officer in the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), according to a highly reliable former DI officer.   Prior to his appoint to Brazil, Zamora led the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) office responsible for Cuban officials and citizens living abroad.  Historically, this position is often led by a DI officer.

Zamora was posted as Havana’s Ambassador to Panama in 2000.  Four years later, a diplomatic crisis erupted when outgoing Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso pardoned Luis Posada Carilles and three colleagues and allowed them to leave Panama.  The four had been imprisoned for involvement in an assassination attempt against Fidel Castro in November 2000.  Cuba responded by breaking relations, after which Panama declared Ambassador Zamora Persona Non Grata.

Prior to this first ambassadorial posting, Zamora reportedly served under deep cover as Director of MINREX’s Latin American Department.

New Hints at Looser Rules on Travel Stir Hope in Cuba Reply

The New York Times and Castro apologist Arturo López-Levy, who continues to remain coy about his familial ties and government service before emigrating to the U.S., make some really illogical observations on possible developments in Cuba.  The Times article states:  “If it does become easier for Cubans to legally leave the island, the reform could spur economic migration and deepen ties between the island and the two million members of the diaspora, …”   So in the considered opinion of the Times, if Havana makes it easier for Cubans to emigrate, this would trigger an economic exodus which would deepen ties between Cuban exiles worldwide and those that stayed behind.  What???   To make the Times claim more laughable, doctoral student Arturo López-Levy calls a significant change to the migratory law “a watershed”  that could unleash “the whole reform program.”

House of Representatives Approves Defense Department State-Sponsors Amendment Reply

House Approves Amendment to Prohibit Dept of Defense from Contracting with Businesses That Do Business with State Sponsors of Terrorism

Companies that do business with terrorist nations dealt major blow

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives approved an amendment presented by Congressman David Rivera (FL-25) to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 by a voice vote on Thursday night.

In a major blow to companies that do business with terrorist nations, the Rivera amendment prohibits the Department of Defense from contracting goods or services from any person or business that does business with a U.S.-designated State Sponsor of Terrorism. The amendment stops the flow of taxpayer dollars to business entities that do business with terrorist states and closes the loophole that allows foreign companies like Repsol to partner with State Sponsors of Terrorism while simultaneously profiting from American taxpayers through their subsidiaries.

Repsol has over $300 million in contracts with the Department of Defense while also partnering with the Cuban dictatorship in oil exploration efforts.

Currently, the Department of State designates Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as State Sponsors of Terrorism.

“Many Americans would be outraged to know that there are foreign businesses conducting business with terrorist nations, while at the same time engaging in contract and procurement activity with the Department of Defense. I believe most Americans would agree this is not only a threat to American security, but also a threat to American jobs because these foreign businesses are taking job opportunities from American businesses that could be contracting with the Pentagon,” Congressman Rivera stated.

“This amendment would prohibit businesses that engage in business activity with terrorist nations — those nations that have been officially designated as sponsor of terrorism by our own government — from contracting and procurement opportunities with the Department of Defense.  “This is an issue of protecting not only American security, but protecting American jobs,” Congressman Rivera concluded.

Passage of this amendment further confirms and reiterates congressional intent concerning the prohibition of public tax dollars going to business entities that do business with terrorist states.

From Capitol Hill Cubans. Posted: 18 May 2012 10:33 AM PDT

Testimonies From Hearing on “Cuba’s Global Network of Terrorism, Intelligence, and Warfare” Reply

Extract from Simmons’ testimony: 

“Through its intelligence trafficking or own terrorist acts, Cuba has willfully and intentionally murdered Americans in the past and it will kill again. Furthermore, I believe Havana will covertly facilitate attacks on U.S. personnel, installations or interests using proxies to create situations in which it cannot be implicated as a sponsor. I also suspect Cuba will continue its efforts to cripple and degrade U.S. Counterterrorism operations. The Castro regime sees U.S. inability to respond to its aggression as a sign of weakness….”

Testimony of Chairman Connie Mack

Testimony of Chris Simmons

Testimony of Michelle Van Cleave