Really? A poll about US-Cuba policy based on “1,024 randomly selected adults”?

There are polls, such as those based on likely or registered voters, and then there are those based on “1,024 randomly selected adults”.    The former is a serious effort to understand public opinion.  The latter is just a “cheap” effort to influence our foreign policy.

The New York Times is reporting on a new poll that goes like this:

““This survey shows that the majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle are ready for a policy shift,” Peter Schechter and Jason Marczak, the top two executives at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council, wrote in an introduction to the survey. “Most surprisingly, Floridians are even more supportive than an already supportive nation to incrementally or fully change course.”

While the survey showed that Americans have concerns about the Cuban government’s political repression, Mr. Schechter and Mr. Marczak said, they “recognize the need for alternatives in light of the failure of the current policy to achieve its objective.”

The survey found that 56 percent of respondents nationwide favor changing Cuba policy, a majority that jumps to 63 percent among Florida adults and 62 percent among Latinos nationwide. While support is strongest among Democrats and independents, the survey showed 52 percent of Republicans also favor normalization.”

The problem with this poll is that the media will broadcast the headline but fail to mention this:

“Conducted by telephone and cellphone in English and Spanish from Jan. 7 to Jan. 22, the survey was based on responses from 1,024 randomly selected adults, with oversamples of 617 Florida residents and 525 Latinos. The nationwide margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points; for Florida residents and for Latinos it was plus or minus 4 percentage points.”

This is not a serious poll.  This is an effort to influence policy with a poll based on a lousy sample!

By the way, wonder how many of these “randomly selected adults” know that the Cuban dictatorship  is holding a US citizen named Allan Wall on bogus charges?

or engaged in a massive repression campaign against dissidents?  

or that the Cuban people have never been “polled” by an independent organization on their  feelings about the dictatorship running the island for 55 years?

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


“El socialismo no sirve” but some keep trying and trying!

How many times does socialism have to fail before people come to their senses?

Some have figured it out.  Chile, for example, has a sound economy and no one lines up at the US Embassy looking for a “work visa”.   On the contrary, Chileans travel to the US to invest, buy our goods and services or do a little sightseeing.  They also have a sound currency and a thriving middle class.

Some are still in the dark, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba.   By the way, I mean literally in the dark, as we’ve heard of the lights going out in Venezuela recently.

It looks like socialism has a new disciple, i.e. the Democrat candidate for New York City mayor in the upcoming election.

Where is Rudy-G when we really need him?

Michael Goodwin explains that the Democrat in New York is running a campaign based on income inequality:

““Fighting inequality and fighting economic injustice,” as he put it, is what he’s all about.

Good luck with that, but before New Yorkers jump onto the Democrat’s bound-for-utopia bandwagon, some history is required. We could start with Karl Marx, but we’d just get lost trying to decode the incomprehensible differences among Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyites.

Instead, let’s look at Cuba, which, strictly by the numbers, reflects the paradise de Blasio describes. Fidel and Raul Castro had their way for 54 years and pulled off the socialist dream: The island nation had the least income inequality in the world, a survey found. North Korea also was off the charts.

Of course, there are some peculiar facts about Cuban exceptionalism.

Everybody is equally poor, with average monthly wages of $19, while children’s shoes can cost nearly as much.

And that much-ballyhooed health-care system? It’s a joke. Bring your own sheets, bedpans and food to the hospital, and pray you don’t die of infections or neglect. True, it is free, so your family won’t get stuck with a capitalist-size bill to bury you. What a relief that must be.

On my visit to Cuba, I was struck by the total breakdown of everything except the police state. Havana’s once-glorious architecture is crumbling, and there are chickens and pigs, but no running water, in large parts of the central city.

Half the cars are owned by the government, and the other half belong in antique shops. Smaller cities look as though they are stuck in the 19th century, with public transportation consisting of a man guiding a horse-drawn wagon. TV and Internet are scarce and tightly controlled. Complaining about any of this can land you behind bars.”

We Cubans know a thing or two about speeches calling for “income inequality”.     As my mom will tell you:  “Yo vi esa pelicula” or “I saw that movie”.

Of course, they will call us “right wing reactionaries”  for calling Mr De Blasio a socialist.  They will say that we see socialism in our soup and just can’t see straight.

What do you call it when the letters in your soup spell socialism?

What do you call a system that takes from those who produce and gives it to those who expect a handout?

We call it socialism. Worse than that, we call it a “‘fracaso” or failure.

Socialism has failed everywhere but there are still people looking for the right formula.   Mr De Blasio is the latest!

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here.


CANTO TALK goes Babalu this weekend

We had a great time this weekend talking to some of our Babalu friends.

On Friday, it was Fernando Hernandez, (“The Cubans“) Regina Anavy (“Out of Cuba“) and Jorge Ponce.  We discussed their books and Jorge’s article about Hispanic Heritage month and the Obama administration;

On Saturday, Jorge Ponce came back and we discussed his post today about the term “hispanic”:

Enjoy them over the weekend!

Is he or isn’t he pushing up daisies?

More rumors from the rumor mill…

The rumor mill surrounding the health of Fidel Castro churned anew on Friday, despite a letter from the aging Cuban revolutionary published by state media and denials by relatives at home and in the United States that he is on death’s door.

Social media sites and some news organizations have reported allegations by a Venezuelan doctor that Castro, 86, had suffered a massive stroke, was in a vegetative state, and had only weeks to live, though the same doctor, Jose Rafael Marquina, has made some claims before that have not panned out.

Marquina told Spain’s ABC newspaper that Castro had suffered a “massive embolism of the right cerebral artery” and while not on life support or breathing artificially, was “moribund” at a house in a gated former country club in western Havana.

Marquina also said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had traveled suddenly to Havana to be with his friend and ally, an account that could not be immediately verified.

Reached by The Associated Press, Marquina said his sources were in Venezuela, but he would not identify them or say how they were in a position to have information about Castro’s health. He also indicated he had received corroborating evidence from sources on Twitter, but would not say who. […]

The safety valve, redux

Of course, we can count on the Cuban government to keep its promises just as they’ve done for the last 53 plus years:

The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it will no longer require islanders to apply for an exit visa, eliminating a much-loathed bureaucratic procedure that has been a major impediment for many seeking to travel overseas.

A notice published in Communist Party newspaper Granma said Cubans will also no longer have to present a letter of invitation to travel abroad when the rule change takes effect Jan. 13, and beginning on that date islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the country they are traveling to.

“As part of the work under way to update the current migratory policy and adjust it to the conditions of the present and the foreseeable future, the Cuban government, in exercise of its sovereignty, has decided to eliminate the procedure of the exit visa for travel to the exterior,” the notice read. […]

About Cuba lifting the ban on Cuban-American artists

It’s official, there was no “lifting” of the ban.

Capitol Hill Cubans:

Castro Confirms Ban on Cuban-American Artists

at 9:12 AM Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The BBC was the first news outlet to erroneously report on a supposed “lifting” of the Castro regime’s ban on Cuban-American artists, even though not a single song by Willy Chirino, Celia Cruz or Gloria Estefan had been played on Cuban radio.

Moreover, there had been no official confirmation that the Castro regime’s ban had been lifted.

Regardless, the BBC ran with the story and other media outlets piggy-backed to further their narrative of Raul, the so-called “reformer.”

Yet, yesterday, the national director of music at Castro’s Institute of Cuban Radio and Television (ICRT) announced that artists, such as Celia Cruz, remain banned from Cuban radio for having been “allied with the enemy and attempted against our families.”

The BBC should retract its story, as Castro’s ban on Cuban-American artists is tragically alive and well.

More “reform” you can’t believe in

One of the lies Modig was forced to tell

 Capitol Hill Cubans:

Imagine Teddy Bears Over Havana

Does Sweden only support dissidents in Cuba?

Of course not.

Sweden is a leader in the promotion of human rights and democratic movements in repressed societies throughout the world — from Cuba to Burma.

However, when Swedish youth leader Aron Modig was asked this question at the press conference staged last week by Castro’s Ministry of the Interior, he stated affirmatively and even “apologized” for doing so.

That was another one of the lies that Modig, who survived the car crash that killed Cuban pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, was forced to tell during the Castro regime’s staged “mea culpa.”

Otherwise, he’d still be in an interrogation cell.

But we’re not sure what’s more fascinating — the fact that such Stalinist theater takes place in the 21st century, or that Castro’s foreign echo-chamber regurgitates it as fact.

Particularly when, on the very same week, the following events were transpiring in Europe’s last dictatorship, Belarus.

From Bloomberg:

Sweden’s ambassador to Belarus was expelled for “being too supportive of human rights,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his Twitter account.

“Outrageous,” Bildt wrote. “Shows nature of regime.”

The Nordic country has retaliated by ousting two Belorussian diplomats, Bildt said.

Sweden will inform the Belorussian embassy in Stockholm that the new ambassador to Sweden won’t be welcome and that two other representatives will have their credentials revoked, Bildt said Friday in a statement posted on the government’s website.

“The Lukashenko-regime’s expulsion of Sweden’s ambassador to Belarus is a big breach against the norms for relations between states,” Bildt said. “The accusations that the regime has directed at the ambassador are completely baseless. That Sweden is very much engaged to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus is no secret.”

Belorussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko last month fired the border-guard and air-force chiefs after Swedish pilots illegally flew a small airplane from Lithuania to Belarus.

A group of Swedish citizens illegally flew a small plane from Lithuania to Belarus on July 4, dropping teddy-bear toys with signs calling for free speech over the capital, Minsk, Lukashenko said last month, according to a statement on his office’s website. The pilots were able to return to a Lithuanian airport without being intercepted and posted video footage of their flight on the Internet.

Modig’s silence enables Cuban dictator

Excellent editorial from our friend Ernesto Hernandez Busco at Penúltimos Días.

Aron Modig: to play the Swede

Jens Aron Modig has managed to perfectly illustrate an expression of Cuban slang that means the ability, at one and the same time, to ignore an issue or obligation, feigning innocence or clumsiness, while pretending it has nothing to do with you.

We knew that the Swede “would play the Swede” when we learned of his ability to sink into the deepest slumber while the car he was riding in was speeding on unmaintained Cuban roads.

After making obviously dictated statements before the international press in Cuba and securing, in this way, his departure from the island, Modig called a press conference that should have been of equal concern to Cuban authorities and Spanish diplomats, who still believe they can save Carromero from his status as a political hostage.

Yesterday the press conference was called off. The justification from Modig and his spokespeople, was that he did not want to do harm to Carromero, a reasoning that in reality is a kind of ethical screen, allowing him to avoid responsibility. Because, on the face of it, the true ethical obligation of the only witness to the accident who has managed to leave Cuba, is to tell the truth, detail the circumstances of an accident in which two Cuban opposition figures died, and reveal whether his testimony was coerced (and if so, in what way). His moral commitment should be, above all, with the mourners, Payá’s own family, who although still grieving have the right to know the truth — and secondly, with the Cuban opposition, which has lost one of its essential figures.

Instead, Modig preferred the diplomatic strategy of using ethics as an alibi.

What is it that Modig has to say that could harm Carromero? Obviously something he didn’t say in Cuba, something that would disprove the official version, and thus the charges being pressed against the Spanish defendant. I don’t understand why, if the truth is what he said on the island, repeating it now in his own country can do harm to the one left behind. Or, as a Cuban humorist commented sarcastically a few days ago, “We cannot imagine how someone who slept through the accident can do harm to Carromero.”

In fact, Modig is not acting in a democratic or transparent way; instead of denouncing Cuban State Security and using the pressure of the press and the international community, he has preferred to negotiate in silence a diplomatic exit in hopes of a release or an indulgence that will never come. The politicians have prioritized the diplomatic strategy and arranged it backstage, disguised as prudence. And the subtext of this deal is that a Spanish citizen in danger of going to prison is worth more than the truth and the cause of the Cuban dissidence, which has cost the imprisonment — and the lives — of too many Cubans.

Thus, although Modig’s spokespeople speak again and again of his commitment to the “fight for democratic rights and for freedom,” and their application “beyond the borders of Sweden,” some Cubans prefer to believe that Modig has chosen an exit of dubious effectiveness, leaving the cause of Cuba in last place. That is, he has “played the Swede” twice over.

Ernesto Hernandez Busto

The axiom, that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, remains true. Modig should seize the moment and hold press conferences telling the world the truth about Oswaldo Paya’s death.

Time To Stop Punching Ovaries … Right or Left … And Get To The Meat

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not advocating pulling back on free speech, I do want to point out the abuses, and then the hypocritical aghast angst and outrage those that flaunt, and even abuse, their free speech feign.

Let’s be clear here. The terminology Rush Limbaugh used in reference to activist and democrat operative Georgetown University’s co-ed Sandra Fluke was not only wrong and vile, but stupid … and I never thought I would use the word “stupid” to describe Rush. Personal responsibility when practicing your rights. I have to ponder, however, if he might not have had a purpose to his nastiness. Whether he did or not, what he has done is bring to the front burner something we have been shouting about since the 2008 election cycle (at least). That would be the double standard misogyny and thoroughly disgusting insults thrown at (primarily) conservative women, and the left’s double standards.

A little side note. Two things here we need to get straight: Those claiming Mz. Fluke is a “private citizen” are wrong. She is no more, or no less, a private citizen than Carrie Prejean was. As Mz. Fluke’s agenda is unraveled we even discover some truths about her, one of which is her purposeful entering of the private Catholic university in order to force them to change their policy on the matter. She officially entered the public arena when she willingly entered the House chambers and gave her error-riddled speech insisting Catholic Georgetown University go against their religious and moral convictions by having the government force them to provide her and all co-eds free contraception (which is provided off campus). Bill O’Reilly points out, Mz. Fluke has handlers behind her, and some linking back to the White House. She is a pawn for the administration and the democrats.

Secondly, the next time one of the democrat talking-heads brushes off the attacks on Fluke vs Palin as “private citizen” vs “public figure”, will somebody please demand a follow-up explanation as to why it is somehow okay to make these disgusting personal sexist attacks on a woman deemed a public figure? We are all private citizens. Some choose to enter the public eye. However, attacking them on a personal, and sexist, level is never acceptable … no matter who it is or who is doing the attacking/insulting. And for the Obama sycophants to fluff-off people such as Bill Maher and Louis C.K. as “comedians” adds injury to the insult. What the hell manner of twisted-head-up-your-ass logic and reasoning is that? Hey, ever notice it’s the liberal/democrat-supporting celebrities that typically drag women back into the demeaning and derogatory catagories the liberal/democrat-supporting feminists have fought decades to get women out of? I doubt Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt are republican voters/contributors. For all the self-righteous snarking the left likes to do when conservatives slip-up on their values/morals they should look in the mirror and realize slip-sliding along in a civilized society is a two-way street and simply dismissing your own behavior as acceptable because you never espouse any values/morals is pure unintelligent bullshit. Remove the plank from your own eye before demanding every conservative/republican shove a pointy splinter into, say, Rush Limbaugh’s eye. Or just shut up about it all, huh? There’s a thought.

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Bibi rejects the New York Times

In the spirit of the season, a very Happy Hanukkah gift from Bibi Netanyahu.  It’s a thorough dressing down of the unethical rag–enjoy!


Bibi Rejects the New York Times
by Ron Dermer, Senior Advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister

Why Netanyahu refuses to publish an op-ed in the so-called “newspaper of record.”

 Ron Dermer is a senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The following letter was written to the editorial board of the New York Times.

I received your email requesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu submit an op-ed to the New York Times. Unfortunately, we must respectfully decline.

On matters relating to Israel, the op-ed page of the “paper of record” has failed to heed the late Senator Moynihan’s admonition that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that no one is entitled to their own facts.

A case in point was your decision last May to publish the following bit of historical revision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.

This paragraph effectively turns on its head an event within living memory in which the Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan accepted by the Jews and then joined five Arab states in launching a war to annihilate the embryonic Jewish state. It should not have made it past the most rudimentary fact-checking.

The Times consistently ignores the steps Israel has taken to advance peace.

The opinions of some of your regular columnists regarding Israel are well known. They consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace. They cavalierly defame our country by suggesting that marginal phenomena condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and virtually every Israeli official somehow reflects government policy or Israeli society as a whole. Worse, one columnist even stooped to suggesting that the strong expressions of support for Prime Minister Netanyahu during his speech this year to Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” rather than a reflection of the broad support for Israel among the American people.

Yet instead of trying to balance these views with a different opinion, it would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in the New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel.

Even so, the recent piece on “Pinkwashing,” in which Israel is vilified for having the temerity to champion its record on gay-rights, set a new bar that will be hard for you to lower in the future.

Not to be accused of cherry-picking to prove a point, I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, “positive” and “negative,” with “negative” meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were “negative.”

The only “positive” piece was penned by Richard Goldstone (of the infamous Goldstone Report), in which he defended Israel against the slanderous charge of Apartheid.

Yet your decision to publish that op-ed came a few months after your paper reportedly rejected Goldstone’s previous submission. In that earlier piece, which was ultimately published in the Washington Post, the man who was quoted the world over for alleging that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, fundamentally changed his position. According to the New York Times op-ed page, that was apparently news unfit to print.

Your refusal to publish “positive” pieces about Israel apparently does not stem from a shortage of supply. It was brought to my attention that the Majority Leader and Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives jointly submitted an op-ed to your paper in September opposing the Palestinian action at the United Nations and supporting the call of both Israel and the Obama administration for direct negotiations without preconditions. In an age of intense partisanship, one would have thought that strong bipartisan support for Israel on such a timely issue would have made your cut.

So with all due respect to your prestigious paper, you will forgive us for declining your offer. We wouldn’t want to be seen as “Bibiwashing” the op-ed page of the New York Times.


Cuban woman makes desperate plea for the world to save peaceful dissident husband

While the MSM continues to parrot Cuban state press run by a murderous outlaw dictator, they ignore the brutal violent acts of repression against Cuba’s peaceful dissidents. 

The life of Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez) is in danger.


I am pleading with the MSM and international human rights organizations to please speak out on behalf of this peaceful dissident. Look around our world; dissent and protest is universally celebrated, the Arab Spring, the OWS, the European demonstrations. Whether or not if you agree with their agendas, we should all agree that no one should be denied the right of free speech.

The above referenced acts of dissent have enjoyed wide coverage in the media. I ask, I plea and beg, why are the Cuban people excluded from international media? Are they not responsible for exposing the truth about violations of universally accepted rights? Are they no longer the so-called 5th estate? Why are peaceful Cuban dissenters, including women, and the elderly allowed to be subjected to the most agregious violations of their human rights; torture, beatings, intimidation, threats, imprisonment, and murder. Why is that when their stories are presented to international media and human rights organizations in multiple lanugages, the response is for the most part silence.

Please, please speak out in support of human rights for the Cuban people. You may save a life.

From tireless defender of rights and justice for the Cuban people Marc Masferrer at Uncommen Sense:

Antúnez on Nov. 8 was arrested, beaten and thrown into a jail cell at the police station in his hometown of Placetas. His wife, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, a leading activist in her own right, told that she has been told that Antúnez is in poor health, suffering from chest pains and headaches.

Meanwhile, officials have threatened to hold Antúnez, one of the most forceful activists on the island, in jail indefinitely.

Pedazos de la Isla has a personal appeal from Iris:

Attention! The activist and brother of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez just arrived to my home. He tells me that officials in the Placetas Police Unit informed him that his brother is in critical condition right now. They said that Antunez is suffering from very low blood pressure and very low sugar levels. I am calling on all those people of goodwill so that they raise their voices for my husband.

Finding Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Cuba: “I found in him a refusal to subscribe to the Oliver Stone/Michael Moore school of willful blindness…”


Frances Martel at Mediaite has written a lengthy article interviewing CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Havanna, Cuba. Dr. Gupta is in Cuba to investigate for himself the facts about Cuba’s healthcare system that everyone seems determined to hold up as a prime example of a successful government/state-run system. Democrats, Hollywood celebrities such as Michael Moore and Oliver Stone, and the American media have selectively shown only one elitist aspect of CastroCare, deliberately omitting the entire cold harsh facts about the average Cuban who must depend on the government for its every medical need. Here is just a bit of Martel’s report, but as I said it’s lengthy so read the full article at the link above or in the box-quote:


90 miles and decades removed from the United States, the island of Cuba persists as a stubbornly living relic of the Cold War, excommunicated from the Western world just enough to make everything from its music to policy to its health care system a mystery. It was to explore this latter element that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta found himself Havana last week, from where he told Mediaite his first impressions and expectations on the island, and worked on an upcoming documentary on swimmer Diana Nyad’s attempt to traverse the stretch of water from Havana to Florida.

Many have argued that the Cuban health care system is somewhat of a marvel compared to the rest of the island’s industries– not the least due to the fact that the government made a very public push to make doctors its greatest export. This has led to both strong criticism from those that perceive it as a distraction from the goings-on otherwise on the island, or see it as a ploy for the nation to ingratiate itself internationally with nation’s that simply cannot afford good medical education. On the other hand, those who praise it cite numbers (mostly from the Cuban government) that show the average life of a Cuban to be, at least on paper, more disease-free than many in the Western world. To this end, Dr. Gupta traveled to the island to take a look himself and try to speak to as many people on the ground there as he could.

Journalistic missions like these, even if explicitly avoiding the political situation on the island, nevertheless touch on an emotional, political wound that hasn’t stopped bleeding for more than half a century. The relationship between Cuba, the Cuban exile community, and the American mainstream media is a tenuous one, and as a member of the Cuban exile community, this topic is particular is personally difficult for me. I grew up with an acute understanding of the systematic physical and psychological destruction the regime is to blame for– it is plain to see every day in the faces of our loved ones, and the former prisoners of conscience in our communities who huddle in cafes to reminisce about the time they served in brutally inhumane conditions for having complimented America once, or written a defiant essay, or even worn their hair long or listened to “yanqui” music. The pain is inked in the headlines of our media that dare publish stories of families of political prisoners being beaten and scorned on the streets.

In this context– and in the context of the mainstream media’s history with the communist dictatorship (from Herbert Matthews to 1990s Lou Dobbs to Michael Moore to Oliver Stone)– justifying a look at the health care system at face value is about as acceptable as an in-depth report on Mussolini-era Italy’s efficient train system. Regime sympathizers have used it as a smokescreen to shield eyes from the atrocities of the regime, and thus the distrust in the community is very high when such analyses come to the fore. But in the post-USSR, post-internet world, in a world where the demand for Happy Meals and iPods has proven a far more powerful political motivator than the temptations of abstract fundamental human rights, opening governments requires shining spotlights and exchanging culture. Even apolitical reports like Dr. Gupta’s force the regime to exhibit a candor with which it is unfamiliar, and serve to remind the world of the inconvenient fact that Cuban people, so many decades later, still live under the yoke of the Revolution’s dilapidated, rabid haughtiness.

With this heavy in mind, I spoke to Dr. Gupta earlier this week from Havana–who, as you will read, came into the experience acutely aware of the nature of the government, no agenda and plenty of curiosity. I found in him a refusal to subscribe to the Oliver Stone/Michael Moore school of willful blindness, admitting there were breathtaking elements to the island while acknowledging the scattering of asterisks and conjectures surrounding the statistics of the health care system, and the inability of journalists to paint a full picture.


On YouTube you will find videos of Dr. Gupta’s heated interview on CNN with Michael Moore on the heels of his pro-CastroCare movie “Sicko” in 2007 as the U.S. political season geared-up for the 2008 POTUS campaigns and government-run healthcare was a primary focus of the democrats running.

Estela Bravo and the Castro gang

Here’s more on Estela Bravo, currently on a propaganda tour peddling the regimes version of Operation Pedro PanAgustin Blazquez takes a revealing look back at Ms. Bravo’s long association with the bloody Castro regime.

The 2005 article is about a pro-Castro documentary shown on PBS by filmmaker Estela Bravo, a known collaborator with the Castro regime.  It’s quite long, so most of it is posted below the fold.  Please read the whole truth-loaded article, as every word is a bull’s-eye.  Agustin takes on the despicable character assassination of the Cuban exile community, the Cuba lobby’s efforts to lift the embargo, PBS hypocrisy, and so-called Cuba “expert” Wayne Smith.  It’s a primer on los pandilleros de Castro.

From Misceláneas Culturales, ‘Miami – Havana’ A Misguided Trip:

Dedicated to Reed Irvine

by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

The New York Times, the creator of Castro’s myth (thanks to the famous Herbert Matthews series of articles that began in February 1957) and according to the tyrant himself, “I owe my job” to that newspaper, is one of the sponsors of this pro-Castro propaganda film festival that showed on April 18, 2005, the documentary “Miami-Havana.”

While talking to a Cuban defector, I mentioned that I had seen on the local PBS station in Washington, DC the 1992 documentary “Miami-Havana” during the 1993 season.  To my surprise she said, “Oh yeah, Estela Bravo.  She is a Castro collaborator.”

Being Cuban also, and knowing the different outlook and perspective firsthand experience inside a totalitarian communist society brings, I thought that this defector – who was involved in the performing arts in Cuba – might have a point.  At the same time, that statement worried me, since our perspective as non-pro-Castro has been so harshly criticized and misunderstood by the U.S. media and so many in the U.S.

So I decided to get some information from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the Washington, DC, distributor of Estela Bravo’s documentary.

What I received from Arwen Donahue, the documentary publicist at the IPS was revealing.  It was Estela Bravo’s curriculum and an article by Andres Viglucci published by The Miami Herald on September 24, 1993, about the showing of her documentary on PBS.

Almost everything in this curriculum, and details in the article, fits the profile of what the defector implied when calling her a “collaborator.”

It’s going to be difficult to explain what the defector meant, unless you come from the inside and are acquainted with the mechanisms of a communist society.  According to my experience in the U.S., it’s very difficult for Americans to comprehend or relate to the complex daily survival routine of people trapped inside a regime like the one Castro imposed upon Cuba.  As a friend of mine still in Cuba hinted in a letter, it’s “totally surrealist.”

In my attempt to understand where this documentary came from, I found that Estela Bravo – who is an American born in New York City in 1933, has, since 1963, been dividing her time between Havana and New York.

I must explain: in the early 1960s many so-called “true believers” of the Castro revolution began arriving in a sort of pilgrimage to Cuba.  Castro gave his true believers coveted jobs, expropriated houses and apartments in exclusive areas, access to foreigner-only stores and schools for their children and other privileges not allowed to ordinary Cuban citizens (the beginning of apartheid in Cuba).

Please continue reading below the fold.

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Paquito D’Rivera explains the twisted logic behind “Cultural Exchanges”

Thanks to the inimitable Paquito D’Rivera for shedding light on this phenomenon, because I’ve been unable to understand how it is beneficial for Americans to spend their hard-earned, and increasingly hard to acquire dollars on propaganda shows produced by tyrannical dictators who enslave their people and hate us. While it’s easy to understand why the dictator’s agents of influence would promote such events, I have a hard time understanding why respected institutions of culture agree to participate, or why someone who escaped the plantation is now willing to dance for the former master, or why a son of an exile would dishonor his  father.

Yes… Libya!

By Paquito D’Rivera

Years ago, Miami’s Willy Chirino had a hit song—a cute Cuban Guaracha— with a chorus that went: “If she wears a Bikini… punish her!, If she wears a mini-skirt… punish her!” The song was about a tycoon whose wife was kind of loose. Each time she slipped, her husband would “punish” her by buying her a mansion, the latest model sports car, or a vacation with her girlfriends in The Bahamas.

Apparently the US government has taken Chirino’s parody too seriously, or perhaps someone has convinced them to apply such a peculiar disciplinary concept to the most cruel and dangerous of dictatorships in this convoluted world of ours. In a friendly and conciliatory gesture, on February 2008, the Bush administration sent the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to a gala concert in North Korea. Naturally, the despotic Kin Jon-Il didn’t even bother to attend. His answer was to increase even more his threatening atomic arsenal. Two years later, among a myriad of atrocities taking place in Cuba, pacifist Afro-Cuban doctor Oscar Elias Biscet, a devoted follower of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideas, was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Orlando Zapata-Tamayo’s death in a hunger strike; the physical and mental abuse of his mother Reina Luisa Tamayo and to the self-sacrificing Ladies in White; the incarceration of hundreds of dissidents and even the arbitrary detention of American citizen Alan P. Gross.

It seems like to celebrate such horrors, the New York City Ballet, the Wynton Marsalis Orchestra, and also Chico O’Farrill’s orchestra, under his son Arturo’s direction, traveled to Cuba. The Ministry of Culture of the oldest (and most ridiculous) dictatorship in the hemisphere invited them. “Ours is not a political visit. It is strictly musical”, the travelers simply affirmed as if in a totalitarian country like Cuba, everything, absolutely everything, didn’t have markedly political intentions.

The examples of “friendly aggressions” of Americans against ill-governed nations by never ending tyrannies have been quite many. Of the shameful case of China business affairs we better not even talk about. But we must recognize that the massive repressive escalation of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship, finally gained the support of many more nations that united to condemn these five decades plus of abuse and arbitrariness. In the meantime, President Obama’s administration, following the Chirino song’s chorus, “punishes” the repressor by encouraging travel and cultural exchanges (unilateral of course) of American artists and their counterparts (in what is left) of the island in ruins. This basically translates into considerable new revenue of extra cash for the Castro government. Also the sponsorship of a huge Cuban festival in the city of the skyscrapers, facilitating the free use of US territory as an enormous exhibit warehouse, where they will showcase only what they decide people should see.

As we expected, in the expo named “¡Sí Cuba!”, or Yes Cuba!”, the valuable contributions of Celia Cruz, Cachao, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Zoé Valdés, Andy García, Gloria Estefan, Olga Guillot, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Bebo Valdés and so many other giants of our national culture will be absent. They have been systematically deleted from our suffering country’s history books because they oppose communism.

So, following the above mentioned examples, now that the Libyans, with the support of the civilized world, are liberating a crucial battle against Muhammar Gaddafi (or however the hell it’s spelled), I propose that –through the Libyan Embassy in Washington DC– we request that the Bedouin Coronel’s Ministry of Culture, organize the “Yes Libya!” festival. It’ll be pretty much like Fidel’s, but instead of mambos and rhumbas, they can play their own nawbah and takambas; musical styles danced by Libyans (at least by those who are still alive).

I suggest the festivities to begin with a great demonstration on camelbacks and dromedaries, loaned by the nation’s zoos that house those particular species. The camel riders, dressed as they do in the dessert, will be carrying curved swords, daggers, hand-grenades, anti-yankee placards, life size posters of the brother leader of the revolution and AKG rifles, fired occasionally by the cavalry men. (About the possible throwing of hand-grenades and other explosives against opposing demonstrators, we would submit this option to a democratic vote from the Libyan government’s organizing committee).

The cavalcade, preceded by the RPSBB (Retired Palestinian Suicide Bombers Band) and by women covered with veils and burkas, would march from Times Square to Ground Zero’s esplanade, where counting on the voluntary assistance of Casa de las Americas, Pastors for Peace, the Venceremos Brigade and the diplomatic representation of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, would put up the dictator’s (pardon me, the leader’s) legendary Bedouin tent. Once in the neighborhood, there will be a prayer on the site of the mosque that was to be built there and had caused so much controversy among the intolerant families of the twin towers’ victims; little incident that occurred so long ago. At the end of the prayers, there will be free shish kebab, couscous with chickpeas and barbecued goat testicles. Passages of the Koran will be read and there will be a give-away of the famous green book, autographed by the remarkable author, father of the revolution. A Libyan boy, wearing a Che Guevara T-Shirt, machine gun in hand, will unveil a beautiful statue of Benjamin Netanyahu hanging from an olive tree in the heart of the historical plaza, once home of the twin towers, a symbol of capitalism. At the end of the ceremony, Mayor Bloomberg will read a proclamation declaring the official day of Tripoli in New York. As evidence of Islamic tolerance, accompanied by the Retired Palestinian Suicidal Bombers Band, Louis Fahrakan will interpret the Arab version of Willy Chirino’s “Punish Her,” especially orchestrated by Robert Mugabe for this occasion. To close with a golden seal, 100 members of the Palestinian band, activating their explosive vests at the cry of “Yes Libyaaa!” would blow to pieces and in the name of the eternal brotherhood between our people, 40 American flags will be burned along with 49 Israeli flags and a Cohiba cigar. Allah-Akbar!

Paquito D’Rivera.
Bern, Switzerland,
April 27-2011

Poohing on Portia

Darn! What a bummer. The socialist paradise on the Caribbean is being sucked into a 52 year – wide black hole of its own creation and some self centered “reporter” by the name of Portia Siegelbaum, who must have graduated from the Anita Snow School of communist propaganda regurgitation, is so bummed she felt compelled to write about it for CBS News.

Poor Portia seems peeved that some of the Cubans who once had enough sense to pin their “hope” on [f]idel are now “pooh pooh-ing” the slow pace of the “second revolution” (?!?) because the “contemplated changes” are not going “far or fast enough.” The nerve of these pissant proletariats to expect their leaders to act after …I don’t know…a half century?!?!

The Cuban people just don’t get it, you see. They, unlike Portia, don’t understand that they are a burden to the state:

As the Communist Party convenes its 6th Congress this weekend its stated priority is revamping the economy to increase production and efficiency, while implementing austerity measures to ease the burden on this long-time paternalistic State.

The State is “paternalistic” not totalitarian, autocratic, militaristic or even authoritarian. PATERNALISTIC. The 52 year beating it’s been giving the Cuban people was for their own good and it hurt [f]idel more than it hurt its victims…and this of course is burdensome. Wow.

And those burdensome revolutionary fledglings that are about to kicked out of the collective nest, they are panicked:

The older generations who have been told to live a certain way for more than five decades cannot suddenly wrap their minds around a new approach to life that demands they fend for themselves.

To Portia, it’s not the unfeasibility and the illegitimacy of a system that has to force its citizens to participate in its absurdity that makes it not work and crumble under its own bloated weight. No, to her, it’s the lack of “idealism” and “sprit of unity” (oh boy…she forgot to mention lack of willingness to sacrifice-what an amateur…) of the “new man” and uncontrollable outside factors, (reality), that is perverting the ideals of [c]astro’s (forced) utopia. Gee, not falling for a tired line of crap and a bankrupt ideology is called intelligence, but to members of a cult, reason doesn’t exist. And don’t worry, Portia “papa” is still going to tell the Cuban people what to do.

Some of the outside factors are:

Cuban exiles who send money to their family in friends thus creating a new class in the classless society where only the ruling class and sycophantic foreign journalists have hard currency.

Then there’s technology…the internet…the wild colt that must be tamed… corralled… because of it those un-idealistic and materialistic young Cubans know that they’ve been forced to ingest a life long crap sandwich while the escaped friends abroad eat steak.

It must take a very special person to experience life in Cuba today, write about it, and not once mention repression, oppression, abuses, hunger, pain and suffering.

It must take an even more special person to blame the victims- the kind that feels good about herself by freely walking around a prison, going to the manicurist with a pocket full of hard cash and a belly full of fine food and resenting the inmates for wanting to change the system that makes her feel so good about herself.