Cuba Awards Medal to Danny Glover 1

Glover With Convicted Spy Gerardo Hernández

Glover With Convicted Spy Gerardo Hernández

Cuba Decorates Danny Glover, Estela and Ernesto Bravo

Havana (Prensa Latina) — The Cuban State Council granted the National Medal of Friendship Thursday to documentary filmmakers Estela and Ernesto Bravo and US actor Danny Glover for their solidary support to the Cuban government and people.

In an activity held Thursday morning at the host building of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples of the World (ICAP) Cuban antiterrorist fighter and member of the Cuban Five Gerardo Hernandez stated that it is an honor to watch such a moment to decorated three great friends of Cuba with such a medal.

The decorated friends of Cuba received the medal from the hands of Jose Ramon Balaguer, member of the Secretariat of the Cuban Communist Party, and director of its International Relations Department.

Ernesto Bravo said he felt moved, since as much himself, as Estela Bravo, have strong links with Cuba, where they decided to set their lives for more than 50 years.

Estela Bravo said that in Cuba, she received several surprises, as for instance, to know Fidel Castro, and that the main reason for which she has been doing her work, is for other people to see and live all the things she had the pleasure to live.

For his part, American actor Danny Glover referred to the struggle for the return of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, whom he recognized for their dedication to the Cuban government and people.

Also, he stressed the role of the new generations in the conduct of the future of the Cuban revolutionary project and recalled the meeting of nearly two hours held in yesterday afternoon with young Cuban at the host of the Asociación Hermanos Saíz.

‘We are here not only to support the Cuban Revolution, but also to support the values that this has taught us, he concluded.

In the event of decoration, there were different political and cultural personalities of the country as the Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto; the President of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Miguel Barnet; and the Director of the General Direction of the United States of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Josefina Vidal.

hr/tac/lma/vdf

Editor’s Note:  ICAP’s long-term collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) dates back over 30 years. That said, ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.

Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, expelled from the US in 2003, continues to serve under shallow cover as head of the North America portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). She is viewed as one of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs.

 

 

 

Cuba OKs US air marshals on commercial flights Reply

air-marshallby Tribune News Service

MIAMI—Cuba will allow US air marshals on regularly scheduled commercial flights between the two countries, island authorities announced on Friday.

Josefina Vidal, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s department for the United States, posted on her Twitter account that an “arrangement on the deployment of air marshals onboard airlines was amended to make it applicable to scheduled flights.”

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed the agreement in a statement on Friday.

“With regard to Federal Air Marshal Service [FAMS] coverage on flights to/from Cuba, TSA has an arrangement in place for charter and scheduled commercial flights,” the statement said. “As a general matter, to protect the operations and efficacy of our Federal Air Marshal program, TSA does not provide specific information about when or which flights are covered by our air marshals, as that could potentially compromise security.”

The twin announcements eliminate a confrontation between the Obama administration and members of Congress over the security of flights to and from Cuba.

The TSA admitted in mid-September that no federal air marshals were aboard the regularly scheduled commercial flights to Cuba that started in late August.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican-Florida, and other Congress members quickly accused the Obama administration of lying because TSA officials had declared earlier that a bilateral agreement for the air marshals would be in place by the time the flights started.

As the controversy continued, the House Committee on Homeland Security approved a measure to suspend the regular flights until the TSA certified that Cuban airports met all security requirements. The measure was submitted by Rep. John Katko, Republican-New York, chairman of the subcommittee on transportation security.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry also announced that representatives of the two countries had met in Washington on Wednesday to discuss “the security of the flow of people and goods between the two countries, and mutual concerns about cyber security.”

Officials from the Cuban Ministries of the Interior and Transportation, as well as the Customs Department took part in the meeting, along with US officials from the Departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security.

Representatives of both government also gathered in Washington Friday for the fourth round of meetings of the Bilateral Commission, to review progress on issues of “shared priority,” such as cooperation on commercial flights, public health and the fight against drug trafficking.

Editor’s Note:  Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina de la C. Vidal left the US in 2003 when 14 Cuban spy-diplomats were declared Persona Non Grata. Among the spies officially expelled was her husband, First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera. A First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section like her husband, Vidal “voluntarily” returned to Cuba.  Long known to US Intelligence as a spy, Vidal and another spy-wife left with their spouses, bringing the total to 16 Cuban spies removed from the United States. This is believed to be roughly half of the Cuban spy-diplomats then serving undercover in Washington and New York. For the last several years, she has served under shallow cover as head of the North America portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). She remains one of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs, but her expulsion will likely continue to limit her spy career until her retirement.

Expelled Spy Josefina Vidal To Wait Longer For Ambassadorship; Castro Makes Pragmatic Move And Appoints Incumbent Diplomat As US Ambassador 1

A man waves the US and Cuban flags as he walks in front of the new Cuban Embassy shortly before it's official ceremonial opening July 20, 2015, in Washington, DC. Getty Images/PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP

A man waves the US and Cuban flags as he walks in front of the new Cuban Embassy shortly before it’s official ceremonial opening July 20, 2015, in Washington, DC. Getty Images/PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP

Who Is Jose Ramon Cabanas? Veteran Diplomat Is Cuba’s First Ambassador To US In Over 50 Years

By Avaneesh Pandey, International Business Times

Jose Ramon Cabanas Rodriguez — a veteran diplomat who ran Cuba’s de facto embassy or “Interests Section” in Washington since 2012 — has become the first Cuban ambassador to the United States in over 50 years. The move came just two months after the two countries ended half a century of mutual hostility, and agreed to formally restore diplomatic ties.

Cabanas, who became the charge d’affaires when relations were formally restored on July 20, presented his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House Thursday, where the latter also received new diplomats from 15 other nations.

“The Cuban ambassador’s accreditation to the United States is a further step within the process to normalize relations between both countries,” the Cuban embassy reportedly said, in a statement released Thursday.

Washington is yet to name its ambassador to Cuba.

Cabanas, an alumnus of Havana’s Institute of International Relations Raul Roa García, has served as Cuba’s vice minister of foreign relations and the country’s envoy to Austria.

In 2013, during his stint as the chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, the career diplomat said — in an interview with the Chicago Policy Review — that as a result of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, American companies were losing opportunities to invest in the Latin American nation.

Feature continues here: Ambassador

Editor’s Note: Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, expelled from the US in 2003, continues to serve under shallow cover as head of the North America portfolio in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). One of Havana’s premier experts in US affairs, she was seen as the likely pick for Cuba’s first ambassador. Raul Castro made a pragmatic and safe move in going with the incumbent. That said, Cabanas is three years into his assignment, so Vidal may get another chance in two years (shortly after the US presidential elections).

 

 

 

The Face of Cuban Propaganda Under “Normalization” 2

Expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin led the Cuban delegation in yesterday’s normalization tallk in Havana. Photo: MINREX

Expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin were center stage as they headed the Cuban delegation in yesterday’s normalization tallks in Havana. Photo: MINREX

PPPFocus.com reports Havana is adamant that “normalization would not happen as long as the economic blockade against Cuba stays on, as long as the US maintains its naval base in Guantanamo and as long as Cuba is not compensated for the economic damage caused by decades of hostility.”

Reuters reports Cuba is aggressively pushing a claim for more than $300 billion in economic damages because it understands “President Barack Obama is attempting to advance normalization as much as possible before his second and final term ends in January 2017.”  

Meanwhile, the Cuban News Agency (ACN) continues its unfettered loathing of Cuban exiles in features like “Miami Anti-Cuban Mafia Rejects Reopening of Cuban Embassy in the U.S.”

“We are going to have diplomatic relations with the United States without having ceded one iota.” — Gerardo Hernandez, Cuban spy who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. federal court for the murder conspiracy of Americans, thereafter commuted and released by President Obama as part of his one-sided deal with Raul Castro [Courtesy: Capitol Hill Cubans]

Cuba Won’t Move ‘One Millimeter’ to Please Enemies in the U.S. 3

Josefina Vidal, Director General of the U.S. division at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, gestures as she speaks with the media at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. The United States and Cuba claimed progress Friday toward ending a half-century diplomatic freeze, suggesting they could clear some of the biggest obstacles to their new relationship within weeks. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Josefina Vidal, Director General of the U.S. division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, gestures as she speaks with the media at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. The United States and Cuba claimed progress Friday toward ending a half-century diplomatic freeze, suggesting they could clear some of the biggest obstacles to their new relationship within weeks. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Washington Times

Cuba’s lead negotiator in talks with Washington said Friday the island’s internal affairs would never be on the negotiating table and Havana would never move “one millimeter” to placate enemies in the United States.

“Decisions on internal matters are not negotiable and will never be put on the negotiating agenda in conversations with the United States,” Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.

Cuba will never do absolutely anything, not move one millimeter, to try to respond,” she added.

Ms. Vidal’s comment comes as the U.S. reinstated diplomatic ties with Cuba after 54 years of silence. The U.S. re-opened it’s embassy in Havana on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Havana that the U.S. Congress was unlikely to ever lift a punishing economic embargo on Cuba unless the Communist government improved its human rights record.

Editor’s Note: Career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal left the US in May 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of 16 Cuban spy-diplomats.

Expelled Spies Continue Leadership Role in U.S.-Cuba Normalization Talks 5

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

U.S. and Cuba Meet for Talks to Fully Restore Diplomatic Ties

By Randal C. Archibold, New York Times

MEXICO CITY — The United States and Cuba are closer than ever to reaching an agreement to fully restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies, officials in both countries said as negotiators met Thursday in Washington for another round of talks to iron out remaining details and discuss possible dates.

The move toward full diplomatic relations broken decades ago during the Cold War has been seen as a key step toward ending hostilities and normalizing ties with a historic opponent that once agreed to allow Soviet nuclear missiles on its soil and repelled an invasion by American-backed insurgents.

Yet progress toward full diplomatic relations has not gone as swiftly as initially hoped in December, when President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba first committed to restoring ties in a surprise announcement.

Now, with a number of obstacles out of the way or close to it, particularly for the Cubans, the talks have reached the most optimistic point after four rounds of conversations in Havana and Washington.

“I’m trying not to sound too Pollyannaish,” said a senior State Department official, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about closed-door diplomatic matters. “But I do think we’re closer than we have been in the past, and I think my counterparts are coming up here with a desire to get this done.

“But equally,” the official added, “we have certain requirements that we need met, so we just have to see whether we can get there in this round of talks. I certainly hope so.”

Gustavo Machin, a top Cuban diplomat who has been part of his country’s delegation at the talks, told reporters in Havana on Monday, “We don’t see obstacles but rather issues to resolve and discuss.”

The governments closed their embassies after President Dwight Eisenhower broke diplomatic relations on Jan. 3, 1961, in response to a demand by Cuba’s new leader, Fidel Castro, that the American Embassy staff be significantly reduced. Mr. Castro called the embassy a spy outpost, part of an American plot to topple the Communist government he installed after the 1959 revolution.

Feature continues here:  Spies Lead Talks

Editor’s Note:  Josefina Vidal and Gustavo Machin, both undercover members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), are suspected of being Department M – I (US Targets) officers. The elite staff of this Department handles penetrations of the US Intelligence Community, Congress, other Federal agencies, and academia.  

Expelled Spies Welcome Governor Andrew Cuomo & Business Executives to Cuba 3

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo toasts with a mojito during a meeting at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. Cuomo is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since the Dec. 17 declaration of detente. At right is Gustavo Machin, Cuba's deputy chief of North American affairs.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa,Pool) The Associated Press

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo toasts with a mojito during a meeting at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. Cuomo is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since the Dec. 17 declaration of detente. At right is Gustavo Machin, Cuba’s deputy chief of North American affairs.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa,Pool) The Associated Press

By Chris Simmons

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and executives from Jetblue, Chobani Greek Yogurt, Pfizer and other New York-based companies spent today meeting with Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers Josefina de la C. Vidal Ferreiro and Gustavo Machin Gomez. Both officers serve under the shallowest of covers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), since they were thrown out of the US for espionage in 2003 and 2002, respectively

Unknown to the governor and executives, they fall into a category of politically-important visitors known as “useful idiots.”

More narrowly, for Vidal, Machin, and the rest of their DI brethren, the New Yorkers are simply known as “targets.”  Ever the opportunists, the DI seized upon Cuomo’s outreach to conduct an Influence Operation. This type of intelligence mission subtly and skillfully uses agents, collaborators, sympathizers, and the media to promote a nation’s objectives in ways either un-attributable or marginally attributable to that power.

Thus, Vidal and Machin get to cultivate a relationship with Cuomo, the governor of the state that hosts the largest Cuban spy base in the United States:  the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. Concurrently, the executives will also be the focus of traditional espionage targeting as – according to US government records – Havana is second only to Beijing in the conduct of economic espionage against the United States.

It’s truly frightening how easy we make it for the Cubans to spy against us.

PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, walks with Cuba's Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. division at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, as he arrives to the Jose Marti airport in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. Cuomo is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since the Dec. 17 declaration of detente. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)The Associated Press

PHOTO:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, right, walks with Cuba’s Josefina Vidal, director general of the U.S. division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, as he arrives to the Jose Marti airport in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 20, 2015. Cuomo is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since the Dec. 17 declaration of detente. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)The Associated Press

Editor’s Note:  According to knowledgeable defectors and émigrés, the Hotel Nacional – where important foreign visitors stay  is wired for video and audio surveillance on the 7th floor and above.

Undercover Spy Josefina Vidal Scores Interview With ABC New’s “Fawning” Jim Avila 5

ABS News failed audiences yet again with its latest interview with expelled Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal. Avila began his deeply biased interview by complementing the apartheid Cuban regime for negotiating with the US, which for over 50 years “plotted to overthrow your government.” At no time did Avila note that most terrorist attacks in the US from the 1960s through the 1990s originated in Cuba. Nor did he question Vidal on her career intelligence service, although he did laughably ask her how the two nations were to build trust together. Also overlooked was Cuba’s role as an intelligence trafficker and its intentional compromise of every major US military operations since the 1983 Grenada invasion. Well done ABC – no need for a few inconvenient truths to get in the way of an interview.

“The Blockade Has Not Ended” Interview with Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s Top Negotiator & Foreign Ministry Head for U.S. Affairs 2

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

By danielacmke, Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations With Cuba

Cristina Escobar – Cuba and the United States are entering a new stage of diplomatic relations. How can these relations be constructed after so many years of confrontation, and what do the recent talks between the two countries mean? These were the questions posed to Josefina Vidal, Ministry of Foreign Relations (Minrex) Director General for the United States, in an exclusive interview with Cuban television.

Josefina, there are people on the street here in Cuba, and also in the international media saying, or asking, if the United States blockade of Cuba has ended. Is this true?

Josefina Vidal – No, no, the blockade has not ended; what has happened is that the President of the United States, making use of his executive prerogatives, which he has, announced a series of measures modifying the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. It was within this context that a series of regulations were issued – mandated by him and formulated by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce – to expand travel to Cuba, expand as well allowances for remittances, and permit some commercial transactions, still of a limited nature, in spheres such as telecommunications, for example.

Cristina Escobar – When can we say that the blockade has ended? What must happen before we can say it has ended?

Josefina Vidal – Since the blockade was first officially declared in February of 1962, until 1996 when the Helms-Burton law was approved, it was the prerogative of the President; that is, just as President Kennedy had declared the blockade in 1962, a later President could have declared an end to this policy.

In 1996 the Helms-Burton law was approved, which codified the blockade as law, which means it was established that, in the future, the President could not on his own terminate the blockade policy, but rather that it was the United States Congress which had the authority to declare an end to the policy.

Nevertheless, it is very important to point out that the Helms-Burton law itself, in an appendix following the codification of the blockade, clearly establishes that the law does not deny the President his executive prerogatives to authorize, through what is called a licensing procedure, the majority of things related to the blockade.

If this were not the case, President Clinton, in 1998 and 1999, would not have been able to modify some areas which allowed for the expansion of trips to Cuba by some categories of U.S. citizens. If this had not been the case, nor would President Clinton have been able to permit, for example, the limited sending of remittances to our country, nor would Obama, in 2009 and 2011, have been able to reestablish family visits to Cuba, restore permission to send remittances to our country, or allow a group of U.S. citizens, those within 12 categories, to visit our country. And what Obama has done now, that is, using his Presidential prerogatives he has broadened the transactions, the operations which can be done within the framework of a trip, a remittance, some commercial operations, and this means he can continue to use these [prerogatives.]”

Cristina Escobar – Has he used them all?

Josefina Vidal – He has not.

Interview continues here:  Josefina Vidal

 

North Korea, Cuba in ‘Same Trench’ Against US: Minister Reply

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez upon arriving at the Foreign Ministry in Havana, on March 16, 2015

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez upon arriving at the Foreign Ministry in Havana, on March 16, 2015

By AFP

North Korea and Cuba share the same struggle against US aggression, Pyongyang’s foreign minister said Monday as Washington and Havana held new talks on restoring diplomatic ties.

In a visit to Havana that coincided with the latest round of talks on normalizing US-Cuban relations, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong played up the two communist regimes’ history of enmity toward the United States.

North Korea and Cuba “share a history of fighting together in the same trench against American imperialism, which continues to exert economic pressure on our countries to this day,” Ri was quoted as saying by Cuba’s state-run news agency Prensa Latina.

Ri also “highlighted the excellent relations” between the two communist countries and gave his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez “a message from leader Kim Jong-Un expressing his wish to broaden and strengthen (relations) even more,” said the news agency.

Rodriguez reiterated Cuba’s commitment to peacefully reuniting North and South Korea “without foreign interference,” Prensa Latina said.

The visit came as US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson met her Cuban counterpart Josefina Vidal, Havana’s top diplomat for US affairs, for a third round of talks to advance a possible US-Cuban rapprochement announced on December 17.

The thaw threatens to leave North Korea as the last country still ostracized by the United States over Cold War-era grudges.

Ri’s visit, the first by a North Korean official since the US-Cuba talks, came amid heightened tensions with South Korea and the United States over their annual joint military drills, which Pyongyang condemns as rehearsals for invasion.

North Korea responded last week by firing surface-to-air missiles into the sea off its coast.