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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Cuba News
Jun
25
2009
0

Cuban rafters intercepted at El Malecon

balseros

This happened some weeks ago, seven people had launched a raft of wood and styrofoam to sea in a bid to reach the U.S. Without means of propulsion the vessel was caught by a current that ended up depositing them in front of the busy Malecón, the promenade that runs the length of the bay of Havana.

The coastguard and police showed up promptly, and after two hours of negotiations the raft was hauled away by the coastguard boat, forcing the failed defectors to swim to shore where the authorities were waiting. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the incident, and although the article is in Spanish only, there’s an interesting video showing the outcome of the incident, the worried migrants herded by uniformed men into police cars and driven away.
(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Human Rights,migration |
Jun
11
2009
2

Cuban slave labor

I haven’t had much time for posting while away, but the plan is to get going with actual pages next week, so keep an eye out for that. Meanwhile, on the subject of trafficking, I’d like to make people aware that the Cuban regime practices institutionalized trafficking of its citizens abroad, using their labor as a currency of sorts as if they were property of the state. (Which they are for all intents and purposes)
free_cubadoctors
The example I was familiar with was the “Barrio Adentro” program of sending Cuban doctors to Venezuela to assist in community clinics in the slums. A noble and laudable mission, right?

Around 20,000 medical professionals (not necessarily doctors) have been sent to Venezuela. They are housed in decrepit hotels or shared houses under close vigilance by their minders. They are bussed to work each morning, seven days a week and then straight back to their residence with a 6pm curfew. Contact with Venezuelans outside their work is prohibited. The conditions under which they work has become known as hundreds have managed to escape their keepers (often with the help of Venezuelans) and defect to either neighboring Colombia or going into hiding in Venezuela to reach the U.S. later.
(more…)

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Human Rights |
May
18
2009
1

Internet in Cuba

Less than 2% of the population in Cuba has access to the internet.

Reporters Without Borders online protest against Internet Censorship

Reporters Without Borders online protest against Internet Censorship

There are real obstacles presented by economic limitations of the potential users and the U.S.embargo (lack of access to fiber optic cables limiting bandwith, although telecommunications technology is not part of the embargo). However, the fact remains that the Cuban government extends its severe censorship to the world wide web, undobtedly fearing its inherent openness.

Go to any bookstore in Cuba and check out the selection: The life of Che, Che’s diaries, Memories of Che, Fidel’s best speeches, The Open Veins of Latin America by Galeano and some works by Chomsky. There are other titles, conspicuously apolitical, but that about sums it up. Now imagine applying that kind of filtering to the internet. It’s hard, but the regime has managed through a couple of ways. Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes recently called the internet “A wild Colt (horse) that can and must be controlled.”

(more…)

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Apr
29
2009
0

Che comix

As a follow up to yesterday’s longish post on Mr. Guevara, here’s a quick look at his recent appearance in comics.

che_spain1

cheattack

Underground comics artist Spain Rodriguez has been comissioned by a British publisher Verso Books to do a biography on Che. The result is unapolagetically adoring by Rodriguez’ own admission. I’m not a fan of his awkward figures nor of his politics, but I haven’t read the book so I won’t comment further.
Here’s a REVIEW from Latin Culture Mag REMEZCLA. This negative review aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if this book becomes canon for many readers. With their visual impact and power of images fused with words, comics can be terribly persuasive when carrying a message, as talked about in this post and in a future post on a little book called “The Cuban Revolution for Beginners”

Out also is “Che, A Graphic Biography” from Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, confusingly sporting the same title as Rodriguez’ book. Will there be a war of the Ches? The art looks good, but there’s not much info out on this book, except this publicity piece:

The creators have previously done a graphic version of the 9/11 report which sounds like great bedside reading.

So, is there room for a Graphic Novel with a less positive view of Saint Che and the Cuban Revolution? I think there’s not only room, it’s probably overdue.

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Apr
21
2009
0

Cuba-U.S relations. A new beginning or false promises?

Obama attempted to pre-empt Latin American criticism about the U.S. policies toward Cuba at the Summit of Western Hemisphere Democracies in Trinidad by first easing travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban-Americans, and then at the Summit declaring that the United States is seeking a “new beginning with Cuba.”

The new President presents a difficult target for the bellicose Chávez and his gang, (Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, and Eduardo Correa of Ecuador) always at the ready to defend the dictatorship in Cuba. The easily demonized Bush was a godsend to these agitators as they benefited from the sympathy that the “enemy of my enemy” lazily gathers, from the muslim world to leftists in Europe and the U.S. Faced with the popular Obama, who inspires much goodwill around the world, they will have to work harder than in recent years to rally people against the United States.

It is an outstretched hand that comes with a challenge; We’ll change if you will. Obama mentioned that freeing political prisoners would be a good place to start. That places the ball in Cuba’s side of the court, and actions, rather than words and posturing will be needed to show they are serious.

A preview of how this will unfold can be seen at the “alternative summit” that Chávez hosted in Venezuela for the aforementioned gang before the big meet.

Raul Castro drunkenly declared: “We have sent word to the U.S. government in private and in public that we are willing to discuss everything — human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything.” At least he’s clear about the charges. Sounds promising, and this line got a lot of play in newspapers worldwide. Then he went on to say that The United States is a one-party system with a limited and controlled press system, and that the “so-called dissidents” jailed in Cuba are really paid agents of The Empire. Chávez applauded the diatribe by saying “The voice of Cuba has spoken.”

So there it is, The dinosauric Castro brothers will try to define “human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners” in a relativist way that will lead them to ask for further concessions from the U.S while giving none. This is where talks will hit a familiar wall and things will go back to the status quo that appears won’t change until the “Voice of Cuba” draws its last breath.

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News |
Apr
08
2009
0

Obama to ease travel ban for Cuban family members

Ahead of the Summit of the Americas April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, President Obama appears ready to declare an end to the ban restricting Cubans in the U.S. from visiting their family members more than once a year, as well as the amount of money they can send there.

An administration offical said: “The intent is to try to test the waters and see if we can get Cuba to move in another direction. One way of getting the regime to open up may be to let people travel, increase exchanges and get money flowing to the island.”

Otto Reich was interviewed on NPR yesterday regarding this issue. Mr Reich, a former Cuban-American senior official of previous Republican administrations, is very much in the camp of the conservative view that frowns upon any easing of  restrictions that currently restricts the flow of dollars to the island, maintaining that obtaining foreign currency only strengthens the Castro Regime.

Responding to criticism from Cubans residing in the US who were against the restrictions placed on how many times they could visit their family, Mr Reich made an interesting point; That since Cubans have the privilege of receiving US residency after 1 year and 1 day after having arrived in the country, they must recognize that there are certain rules that come with those benefits. He questioned how someone could benefit from a political refugee status while clamoring for the right to go back as often as they’d like, to the totalitarian regime from which they fled.

This logic, however, does not answer the question on Cuba being the only country that American Citizens are expressly prohibited by their government from visiting. There are hints of a wider lifting on travel bans, it remains to be seen how far the Obama administration is willing to take this.

In terms of support and opposition for this measure in the Cuban-American community, the same NPR program highlighted what seems to be a generational shift, where the older generations who knew Cuba before Castro are more likely to take the hard line, while younger people who grew up in the US tend to be more inclined to see benefits in more normalized relations with Cuba.

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News |

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