Will St Pete Become Havana’s Newest Spy Base? 6

 The Cuban consular general and his second in command were in town Saturday to tour St. Petersburg, shown here from just south of downtown with Fourth Street running north.


The Cuban consular general and his second in command were in town Saturday to tour St. Petersburg, shown here from just south of downtown with Fourth Street running north.

Cuban Officials Touring St. Petersburg This Weekend as They Eye Consulate Location

By Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer

Tampa has the historic and cultural link to Cuba, but it might be St. Petersburg that lands the first Cuban Consulate in the United States in more than five decades.

Alejandro Padrón, Cuba’s consular general from its embassy in Washington, D.C., and his second in command, Armando Bencomo, were in St. Petersburg on Saturday and took a tour of its real estate assets that was led by Dave Goodwin, the city’s director of planning and economic development.

Such a tour did not take place in Tampa.

“They have some interest in our city and they want to get to know more about it,” said Joni James, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, which along with the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability sponsored the delegation’s trip.

“We are happy to help them learn what a great place it would be to have a consulate.”

Kanika Tomalin, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, described the tour as “pretty comprehensive” but did not provide specifics on where they visited.

“They will understand what the city can offer their goals,” she said.

There is competition between Tampa and St. Petersburg to host the Cuban Consulate.

The Tampa City Council, Hills- borough County Commission and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce have voted in favor of bringing the consulate to their community.

The chamber also sent a delegation to Cuba in May 2015.

Each has heavily promoted that Tampa and Cuba share a connection dating to the founding of Ybor City in the late 1800s by immigrants from the island nation.

Later, Tampa was a staging ground for Cuba’s War of Independence against colonialist Spain. And with Cuban tobacco, Tampa would go on to become Cigar City.

But the St. Petersburg City Council voted for a consulate to open in that city as well.

The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership also sent two delegations to Cuba in the past year and welcomed one from the island nation to its city in December.

Feature continues here:  Will St Pete Become Havana’s Newest Spy Base?

Editor’s Note:  When the United States ended diplomatic relations with Cuba in the early 1960s, the Castro regime had been conducting its espionage operations from a network of over two dozen consulates and Prensa Latina (news agency) sites from coast to coast. Since the theft of US economic, political and military secrets provides one of the largest revenue streams flowing the regime, Havana dearly wants its “diplomatic” spy network back to further increase its espionage effectiveness and drive down costs.  

 

 

Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors: Havana Earns Almost $8 Billion a Year Off the Backs of the Health Workers it Sends to Poor Countries 1

Mary Anastasia O’Grady

Mary Anastasia O’Grady

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal

Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health Organization. The money is supposed to go to Cuban workers’ salaries. But neither the WHO nor any host country pays Cuban workers directly. Instead the funds are credited to the account of the dictatorship, which by all accounts keeps the lion’s share of the payment and gives the worker a stipend to live on with a promise of a bit more upon return to Cuba.

It’s the perfect crime: By shipping its subjects abroad to help poor people, the regime earns the image of a selfless contributor to the global community even while it exploits workers and gets rich off their backs. According to DW, Germany’s international broadcaster, Havana earns some $7.6 billion annually from its export of health-care workers.

This is big business, which if it weren’t being carried out by gangster Marxists would surely offend journalists. Instead they lap it up. In an Oct. 24 interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour lighted up when she talked about Cuba’s health-care workers in Africa. “Cuba clearly has something to teach the world in its rapid response, doesn’t it,” Ms. Amanpour gushed. Mr. Kim agreed, calling it “a wonderful gesture.”

What the Cuban workers in the line of the Ebola fire are being paid remains a state secret. But human trafficking is not new for Havana nor is it limited to the medical profession. In October 2008 a federal judge in Miami ruled in favor of three Cuban workers who claimed they, along with some 100 others, had been sent by the regime to Curaçao to work off Cuban debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. The plaintiffs described horrific working conditions for which they were paid three cents an hour.

Feature continues here: Medical Slave Trade