CFR’s Julia Sweig Continues Role as Havana Spokeswoman 3

In her story on Wednesday’s wrap-up of the second Summit of the Latin America and Caribbean Economic Community (CELAC), Portia Siegelbaum of CBS News included these offerings from Julia Sweig::

“I can’t imagine a return to the old pattern of Washington dominating the Inter-American system. I’d like to imagine that the Obama administration has the imagination and creativity and confidence to adjust to the new Latin America of foreign policy independence and vastly less deference to Washington. The White House has a choice: throw up its hands and opt for a focus on its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region, or try to accommodate the region’s new multilateralism — one that emphatically includes Cuba.”

Siegelbaum also noted Sweig’s claim that during her latest two-week visit to Cuba, she “heard a clear and explicitly stated interest in cooperation with the United States.”

Editor’s Note: For an excellent summary of the role of Cuban Intelligence Officers in forming Julia Sweig’s opinion, see Humberto Fontova’s September 2010 article, Latin-America “Expert” – or Castro Agent?

With Second Cuban Spy Release, Is Alan Gross Freedom in Sight? 2

Fernando Gonzalez Is One of ‘Cuban Five’

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

A second Cuban spy of five whose release from prison is seen as critical to the freedom of Alan Gross will likely soon be in Cuba.

Fernando Gonzalez, one of the “Cuban Five” convicted of spying offenses in 2001, will be transferred to immigration lockup at the end of February to await deportation to Cuba, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday. Gonzalez was sentenced to 19 years, but appeals and good behavior reduced his sentence to 15 years.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

Cuban authorities have made clear that his release could come in an exchange for the Cuban Five, and Gross’ family has suggested that the U.S. government should use this leverage in obtaining his freedom.

One of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez, was released and is living in Cuba.

The other three are serving longer sentences, the Herald said. One is in for life because of his involvement in the Cuban Air Force’s fatal downing of four planes dropping pamphlets on the island. Four Americans were killed in the attack.

Minneapolis Hosts Repeat Appearance of Cuban Spy’s Artwork 2

The Twin Cities Daily Planet reports that the Minnesota Cuba Committee has partnered with a local art gallery for a month long exhibit of paintings by convicted spy Antonio Guerrero. The show’s overhyped title — “I will die the way I lived,” is reflective of a number of the propaganda themes used by the Castro brothers thus far in their 55-year reign. Last September, the same Cuba Committee joined with Obsidian Arts in south Minneapolis for a showing to mark the 15th year of incarceration for the Cuban spies.

Feb. Prison Release Date for 1 of ‘Cuban 5’ Spies 1

MIAMI (AP) — One of the so-called Cuban Five spy ring convicted in the U.S. is scheduled for release next month from a federal prison in Arizona.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons records show that 50-year-old Fernando Gonzalez — known in the U.S. as Ruben Campa — is set for release on Feb. 27. Gonzalez had his 19-year sentenced reduced on appeal and because of good behavior.

Free The Five spokeswoman Gloria La Riva said Tuesday that Gonzalez will wind up serving just over 15 years. She said he will likely be deported to Cuba.

The five were convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, Cuban exile groups and politicians opposed to Cuba’s communist government. They are considered heroes in Cuba.

Cuban Five member Rene Gonzalez was released in 2011.

Cuban Authorities Harass Dissidents Before Havana Summit 1

By Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

The Cuban government has unleashed “a large wave of political repression” against dissidents, detaining or threatening at least 60 to keep them from tarnishing a meeting of hemispheric leaders in Havana, a human rights group reported Monday.

The II Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on Tuesday and Wednesday will focus mostly on efforts at economic integration among the 33 member nations. CELAC excludes the United States and Canada.

Cuba also has proposed declaring the region as a “zone of peace” and other nations have proposed addressing issues such as poverty, climate change, the peace talks between Colombia and FARC rebels and the U.S. embargo against the Cuban government.

But attempts by the Cuban opposition to voice their complaints to the foreign visitors and grab part of their media spotlight by holding two small “parallel summits” have been met with tough measures by security officials on the island.

Police briefly detained at least 40 dissidents, threatened or harassed another 18 and ordered five more to stay home “until the end of the summit,” said a report Monday by the illegal Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

Those numbers are preliminary because of government controls on communications within the island, but they already amount to “a large wave of political repression against peaceful dissidents,” the report said, to “muzzle” them during the two-day summit.

Other dissidents have reported nearly 150 brief detentions and blocks on the cell phones of several pro-democracy activists.

Read more here: Cuban authorities harass dissidents before Havana summit

New York Times Using Discredited Cuba Sources Reply

Yesterday’s New York Times featured this highly disappointing article by foreign correspondent Damien Cave: Former Exit Port for a Wave of Cubans Hopes to Attract Global Shipping

One of the sources widely used by Cave and the New York Times was Arturo Lopez-Levy, who it erroneously cited as “a former Cuban official who studies Cuba’s economy and politics” and someone “who also works with a group of Cuban-Americans favoring engagement with Cuba.” No mention was made to how – in his own book – Lopez-Levy admitted to having been a spy with Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT). Likewise, the Times failed to note the PhD candidate’s close family ties to Raul Castro’s son-in-law, MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

The paper then compounded this sourcing error by citing Phil Peters, a senior member of the long discredited Lexington Institute. A self-professed “think tank,” this group was exposed as a fraud years ago for writing flattering news stories on its corporate sponsors in the defense sector. Coverage on their money-for-stories approach can be found here: Analyst’s switch stirs tanker talk, and in the Babalu Blog feature,
Sherritt, Cuba, and the Cubanologist.”

Famed Castro Apologist Hypes “Rise” of CELAC Reply

OAS head at Cuba Summit in Unusual Encounter

By Associated Press

HAVANA — The secretary-general of the Organization of American States arrived in Cuba on Monday to attend a regional summit, in an unusual encounter 52 years after Cuba was kicked out of the regional bloc.

Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean, was attending as an observer, so there was no official access to his arrival as was the case with visiting foreign ministers and heads of state. But Cuban officials confirmed his presence on the island to The Associated Press.

Hugo Zela, Insulza’s chief of staff, said the OAS, which was formed in 1948, has no record of a secretary-general visiting Cuba.

Tensions between Cuba and the OAS began shortly after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, when Washington put pressure on Fidel Castro’s nascent Communist government through the organization.

Cuba was suspended from the bloc in 1962 at the height of the Cold War and many other nations turned their backs on Havana, with Mexico a notable exception.

By the dawn of the 21st century and with the Cold War nearly two decades in the rear-view mirror, some countries — particularly Venezuela under the late President Hugo Chavez, who called Castro a friend and mentor — began pushing for Cuba’s reintegration into the hemispheric community.

In 2009 the OAS ended Cuba’s suspension with the consent of Washington, which had been hesitant at first. But Havana balked at rejoining the bloc it sees as obeying U.S. interests.

“Cuba’s position toward the OAS remains the same: We will not return,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at the summit. “It has negative historical baggage as an instrument of domination by the United States that cannot be resolved through any reform.”

Nonetheless, Rodriguez said inviting Insulza to the CELAC summit was done out of “courtesy.”

The CELAC was formed in 2011 and includes all the Western Hemisphere’s nations except Canada and the United States.

“It should replace within a short time the OAS, that institution that did so much harm to integration,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Roberto Patino said Monday.

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuba analyst and lecturer at the University of Denver, said the CELAC’s creation puts pressure on the OAS to remain relevant.

“The problems of the OAS are due to the fact that inter-American multilateralism has not been updated in respect to the changes in politics and balance of power that have taken place in (the region) and beyond as part of the rise of the global south,” Lopez-Levy said. “The second summit of the CELAC in Havana pours salt on that wound,” he added.

For decades the argument for excluding Cuba from the OAS was its closed, single-party system. Havana has little tolerance for internal opposition and routinely harasses dissidents whom it officially labels treasonous “mercenaries.”

Insulza has come under criticism particularly from the Cuban exile community for not scheduling meetings with island dissidents during the trip, in order to avoid making the summit hosts uncomfortable.

“It’s startling,” said Elizardo Sanchez, a nongovernmental human rights monitor in Cuba. “It’s a little surprising because the OAS usually recognizes the human rights NGOs.”

Cuban dissidents have complained about increased harassment and detentions in the days leading up to and during the summit. Some said they were prevented from holding an alternative forum, while others claimed to be under effective house arrest.

Editor’s Note: Lopez-Levy is a self-professed “former” Intelligence Officer in Havana’s dreaded Ministry of the Interior (MININT). He is also a relative of MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, Raul Castro’s son-in-law and head of GAESA, the regime’s business monopoly. Now living comfortably in Colorado, Lopez-Levy (aka Lopez-Callejas) is a long-term doctoral student in Denver.

Cuba to Freeze Foreign Funds Linked to al-Qaeda, Taliban 2

AFP, Havana

The Cuban government adopted legislation to immediately freeze funds from foreign banks linked to terror groups, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, officials said Friday.

The decree, signed by President Raul Castro, stresses that the sanctions are part of Cuba’s legal framework demonstrating its “commitment in the fight against money laundering, financing terrorism and the proliferation of weapons.”

“Funds or other derived or generated assets that belong to or are directly or indirectly controlled by persons or entities linked to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban will be frozen immediately and without notice,” it said.

The measure also targets “persons or entities” identified as “terrorists” by the United Nations or “at the request of cooperation by third countries.”

Sanctions may apply to foreign financial institutions that operate on the island under license from Cuba’s Central Bank and their representative offices, as well as to “individuals and legal persons.”

Eleven foreign banks operate in Cuba, where the banking system operates under tight control by authorities, a far cry from nearby offshore tax havens.

Cuba’s latest effort to align its banking sector with international norms comes as the communist island prepares to push through a new law on foreign investment in March meant to attract much-needed capital for the country’s sagging economic system.

The Anti-Latell Report Reply

By Arnaldo M. Fernandez, OpEdNews.com

Jim DiEugenio has coined the term Shenonism for a deceitful tactic used by former NYT investigative reporter Philip Shenon to tell his “secret history of the Kennedy assassination.” Shenon presents old things as new and conveys them to the reader as important issues that the Warren Commission (WC) should have known about.

That’s exactly what former CIA analyst Dr. Brian Latell had done in Castro’s Secrets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 2013) for involving Fidel Castro in the JFK death through a “conspiracy of silence[:] Fidel knew Oswald’s intentions to shoot President Kennedy and did nothing to deter the act” (page 247).

Thus, Dr. Latell supports the WC report of a lone gunman who shot a magic bullet with the oldest CIA backstop: Castro was somehow behind Oswald.

That’s exactly what Shenon did in A Cruel and Shocking Act (Henry Holt and Co., 2013). He dug up Mexican writer Elena Garro’s long-ago debunked story on Oswald at a “twist party” in Mexico City, and twisted that party into the occasion seized by Sylvia Duran, allegedly an agent of Castro’s General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI), for putting Oswald up to kill Kennedy (page 556).

The paperback edition of Castro’s Secrets (2013) changed the subtitle from The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine to Cuban Intelligence, the CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Dr. Latell’s purpose-built stage allowed for more JFK walking dead, like U.S. Ambassador Thomas Mann, who believed even “that the DGI used Oswald’s hotel [in Mexico City] foe intelligence purposes,” although no shred of evidence was ever found.

Latellism is the lightest version of “Castro did it” as “Castro knew it.” Such an uncommon nonsense thrives on claques of both people who cannot think logically for many reasons and people who will not think logically because they have a fanatical anti-Castro agenda. Beneath a scholarly veneer: the “indicators of Cuban regimen deception –and apparent DGI engagement with Oswald– have never been properly evaluated” (page xiii), Dr. Latell performs a media gag in six acts:

*The Oswald’s contacts with Los Angeles Cuban Consulate were overlooked by the FBI and the WC
*The CIA did not inform the WC of Luisa Calderon’s November 22,1963 phone conversation
*Cuban defector Vladimir Rodriguez-Lahera’s [AMMUG-1] knowledge that Castro had lied apparently was not shared with the WC
*Cuban consul Alfredo Mirabal-Daz’s incriminating error before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) went unnoticed
*In June 1964 FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover submitted a report that minimized and distorted the meaning of the Operation SOLO information acquired from Castro
*Cuban defector Florentino Aspillaga’s story was not publicly revealed until the initial publication of Dr. Latell’s book (2012)

The more “findings” Dr. Latell uses for tying Oswald to DGI, the lesser good reasons are left for explaining why he was missed as a security risk before the JFK assassination, unless the CIA were plotting with Castro. However, Dr. Latell’s itemized scheme is an intellectual breakthrough. It outlines how to disprove his intellectually destitute conspiracy theory:

*Oswald’s contacts with the Cuban Consulate in L.A. were irrelevant
*Calderón’s phone conversation is not a piece of evidence in any way

Article continues here: The Anti-Latell Report

CFR’s Julia Sweig, Friend of 6 Cuban Spies, Arranged Graham’s Cuba Visit 1

Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida was in Havana last week on a trip “arranged by Julia Sweig, a Cuba analyst and senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations” reported Juan Tamayo in yesterday’s Miami Herald. Graham, now in his late 70s, made his first trip to Cuba as part of Sweig’s “group of environmental and disaster experts.” Sweig has long and public connections with senior officials throughout Cuba’s intelligence and political arenas.

During the visit, Cuban officials told her group Havana was negotiating with foreign nations for oil exploration off the northern coast. Large deposits of crude exist in deep waters off the northern coast the visitors were assured and drilling will certainly resume at some point. Predictably, these same officials informed Graham and the others that easing the US embargo would aid in their efforts. A former Democratic governor of Florida and longtime supporter of Cuba sanctions, Havana was undoubtedly delighted when Graham suggested that a limited exemption for oil efforts was an option.

Editor’s Note: For an excellent summary of the role of Cuban Intelligence Officers in forming Julia Sweig’s opinion, see Humberto Fontova’s September 2010 article, Latin-America “Expert”– or Castro Agent?