Category Archives: Latin America / Caribbean

Cuba’s Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States and the Micro-Republic of Miami

tumblr_ls54y12Nd81qa0pmyo1_500Cuba’s Updated Migration Policy Totally Confounds the United States and the Micro-Republic of Miami - español aquí

Edmundo García

Translation: Machetera

On Monday, January 14, Cuba’s updated migration policy went into force and one of the listeners of my radio program, La Tarde se Mueve (Afternoon Moves) called in to say that it was as though the floor had been yanked right out from under the Miami critics of the Cuban revolution. They can’t figure out where to stand; they’re completely adrift in the comments they’re making on the radio, TV, and other regular press outlets.

At the end of the program, around 6 pm., I heard Willy Allen, the Cuban American immigration attorney tell Ramon Saul Sanchez on his program for La Poderosa (The Powerful One), “I believe that these measures are barely going to change the situation there (in Cuba),” while Sanchez responded, “But the dissident Guillermo Fariñas says that he’s been told he can go wherever he wants and then return.” Willy answered, “Oh, I didn’t know that, but look, there are hardly any exiles left. For the last 20 years the huge majority of those who come to Miami are immigrants.”

That’s exactly what we’ve been saying every day at La Tarde se Mueve; that this is one of the reasons for Cuba’s updating of its migration policy: the composition of Cuban emigration has changed, particularly in regard to the United States, where it occurs more for economic than political reasons, and this is a reality that must be taken into account. So it turns out that Willy Allen, the braintrust behind the Miami project known as “Repression ID,” dedicated to pursuing Cuban emigrants who’ve supposedly participated in crimes against human rights in Cuba, agrees with us.

The Cuban measures are so disconcerting that Miami’s Cuban American rightwing has been completely disoriented by them. So disoriented in fact that you can see it in Alfonso Chardy’s recent report at El Nuevo Herald about a meeting on U.S. immigration reform that took place in the offices of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Doral. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also attended the meeting. The Cubans were not the main objective but the subject of Cuba’s updated migration policy came up and after both threatened to change or eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act, Diaz-Balart played stupid, saying that these were proposals made by other congressional representatives, other colleagues; while Ileana later swore up and down that she had no plans or intentions regarding eliminating or changing the Cuban Adjustment Act. That’s how confused they are; they can’t even get their story straight.

From Miami and other parts of the world, some tried to deny that the measures are anything new. Since among the skeptics there are some honest people who have nothing to do with the usual reactionaries, I want to say to them that in a way, it’s understandable that some don’t see a huge change in the Cuban migration situation, because for quite some time, these changes have been underway, gradually but convincingly. As was said from the beginning, this is an “updating” and not an overturning, apology or repentant revision of Cuban migration policy.

In a press conference offered on October 24, 2012, the Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, reported that according to official data, between the year 2000 and August 31 of 2012, 99.4% of the exit permits solicited by Cubans were granted. Only 0.6% were denied, for substantiated reasons. In that same period of time, some 941,953 persons traveled abroad for particular reasons, of which 120,975 did not return, a total of 12.8%. Of the total who traveled, 156,068 were university graduates and of those, 10.9% did not return.

According to Acosta, “these statistics confirm that the great majority of Cubans who travel abroad return to Cuba.” Which is to say that an abrupt change in Cuban migration policy does not exist, nor is there any need for one, since the image of Cuba as a tropical gulag or prison from which one cannot leave or enter – as the manipulative major media at the service of foreign interests have historically portrayed it – is simply untrue.

As the data show, Cubans who have really wanted to travel have been doing so regularly without many more limits than those that might exist in any other country. This was confirmed on Monday, January 14, when the new migration measures announced in Cuba’s Official Gazette last October went into force.

At none of the 195 official passport offices was there any kind of unusual crowd or fuss, as the disinformative blogger Yoani Sánchez tried to make it seem. This so-called reporter for the Spanish El País newspaper spent the morning at an immigration office in her neighborhood in Havana and was able to complete the paperwork to travel normally. As she herself acknowledged, she will only have to wait 15 days to collect her new passport; after all, it’s not Yoani’s first trip abroad.

What was definitely a lie was Yoani’s claim that at that hour of the morning there was a line of more than 70 people, with children clinging to their parents, all desperately seeking papers in order to leave Cuba. The Cuban journalist Manuel Lagarde posted photos of the place at his blog, Cambios en Cuba, along with photos of travel agencies and tour operators functioning normally in Havana, something that other media like BBC Mundo also reported- the offices were not mobbed by Cubans trying to leave the country.

The updating of the Cuban migration policy is not something left to chance; it’s a well-considered policy that comes at a very specific moment, following indications from Cuba’s president Raúl Castro in his speeches to the National Assembly, the Sixth Party Congress in 2011 and the National Party Conference in 2012. As Secretary Acosta also said, with these measures “Cuba is not seeking a stamp of approval” from anyone.

A report was drafted based on criteria supplied by a wide-ranging committee of specialists and leaders directed by General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, that was later studied by the Cuban government, where the confluence of a series of factors supported an updating of the policy, among them, the existence of a change in the nature of Cuban emigration. As Colonel Lamberto Fraga, Second Chief at Cuba’s Immigration Directorate said, all policies and procedures were ready to be applied as the measures went into force last Monday.

But that Cuba should make it easier to leave and enter does not mean that it is leaving its national territory at the mercy of its enemies. There are two principles that should never be forgotten: The right of the revolution to defend itself and the right to safeguard the human capital that the revolution created.

How will this work in terms of travel permission for professionals in sensitive sectors like health and sports? It is a question that many have asked and will surely be answered in practice. For the moment, Cuban immigration authorities have made it clear that the people who may not travel, for reasons that are standard at the international level, are those with pending judicial processes, persons who must complete existing criminal sentences, persons who must perform military service (Military Service Law 75) and others who have something to do with questions of specific interest. A number of not entirely well-intentioned persons have asked if the so-called dissidents and opposition will be able to travel. The answer has been given. If they have no pending judicial problems, if they are not at the age of military service, etc., then they may travel, otherwise, no. That’s the law and there’s no reason for exceptions or particularities, so the staged media shows and campaigns are pointless, because Cuba will not be pressured.

As soon as the migration reform was announced in October of 2012, both Victoria Nuland and William Ostick, spokespersons for the U.S. State Department, tried to react with apparent indifference in order to avoid recognizing that the Cuban government had seized the initiative. Suddenly, having posed as champions of freedom to travel, they suggested pressuring third countries not to grant visas to Cubans, under the pretext that they might be used as “trampolines” in order to illegally enter the United States and take advantage of the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act.

Today it is truly indisputable that the United States is more restrictive about entrances to and exits from its territory, than Cuba.  As a result, the press puppets in Miami have been unable to do anything other than repeat the arguments emanating from Washington. Unlike Nuland however, who recently stated that although the United States is not going to change its policy, the Cuban immigration reform seems positive and consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the principle of family unity, Miami’s extreme right-wing, led by Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, has dedicated itself to threatening in the local media to rescind the Cuban Adjustment Act as a way of punishing the Cubans.

The news has made Cuba watchers like Jaime Suchlicki appear to have totally lost it; he is claiming there will be a “slow-motion Mariel” exodus rather than a Camarioca of millions. Janisset Rivero of the so-called Democratic Directorate predicted lines several kilometers long at embassies in Havana. And Ninoska Pérez Castellón, having nothing much to say at all, preferred to ask her listeners, some of whom drove her crazy with their celebration of the Cuban migratory changes.

As my friend, the Cuban journalist Iroel Sánchez said, Cuba was ready for the immigration updates. Those who weren’t ready were that part of Miami that although it has yet to win, seems still not to have learned how to lose.

Edmundo García is the host of La Tarde se Mueve in Miami.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

The Cubans are coming! The Cubans are coming!

Panic in Washington: The Cubans are coming! 

Jean-Guy Allard

English translation: Machetera - (español)

Now they don’t even bother to hide their worry: the same politicians who slandered Cuba for decades, saying Cubans “can’t travel,” and even going so far as to draft laws meant to push disaffected Cubans to hurl themselves into the sea, are now rushing to figure out how to stop Cubans from arriving in the United States and, in case they manage to arrive, how to stop them from returning to Cuba.

Victims of the traps they themselves set at the height of the Cold War, when the Cuban Revolution, criminally isolated by the blockade, was forced to protect itself by any means, including restrictive migration laws, the Cuban American members of Congress and their clan have suddenly realized that they’ve shot themselves in the foot.  The political structure manufactured to serve U.S. annexationist plans toward Cuba is on red alert and desperately seeking a solution to what it has announced is a dangerous and unexpected invasion by those it has pretended to be defending. Continue reading

The Marketing of Yoani Sánchez: Translation as invention

Machetera and Manuel Talens - español

“There are no accidents.” – Sigmund Freud

As one might have expected, Bloomberg and Reuters dutifully shaded their reports on the recent visit to Cuba of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff with mentions of the Yoani Sánchez Twitter campaign to pressure Rousseff to intercede on Sánchez’s behalf and persuade the Cuban government to grant her an exit visa to attend a propaganda event in Brazil.

That’s not so surprising.  Sánchez is an egomaniac, for sure, insisting that anyone should care in the first place, when her compatriots Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez O’Connor have been denied entry visas by the United States for more than a decade to visit their husbands (Rene González Sehwerert and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, two of the Cuban Five) unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.  - but if all she has to do is tweet and the press come running, judging the tweet as equal in value to Rousseff’s criticisms of the U.S. gulag at Guantánamo, well, that’s not really her fault – it’s just part of a marketing plan that counts on press complicity. Continue reading

CANF, Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas, and the totally compromised testimony used to bury Gerardo Hernández Nordelo alive

When the U.N.’s Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigated the siting of the February 24, 1996 shootdown off the coast of Cuba of two light aircraft registered to the Miami group “Brothers to the Rescue,” suddenly all the evidence supporting U.S. claims about it occurring over international waters became very difficult to find.  And this despite the fact that the U.S. government expected an incident to occur and had warned all its radar installations, and presumably, satellite eyes, to be especially alert that day.  But with the objective evidence suddenly missing, the ICAO investigators came up with a weird, subjective “triangulation” to support U.S. claims about the location.  Naturally, the ICAO Council refused to endorse such a bizarre report.

One of the points of that triangulation came from Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Bjørn Johansen, first officer on the ship Majesty of the Seas, who thanks to Brazilian researcher Fernando Morais, we now learn “based his testimony about the site of the shoot-down on a visual observation of the site where his own ship was – which he wrote down on a piece of paper – and not the electronic register that marked the ship’s location in the Florida Strait.”  Now you tell us.  Jean Guy Allard has more:

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) behind the main testimony against Gerardo Hernández Nordeloespañol

By Jean-Guy Allard
Translation: Machetera

The main witness for the federal prosecution against the Cuban Gerardo Hernández Nordelo was the first officer on a U.S. cruise line whose owners contributed at least $25,000 to help create the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), and whose paramilitary wing organized, financed and promoted terrorist actions against Cuba. Continue reading

The Cuban Five Must be Unconditionally Freed

The Cuban Five Must be Unconditionally Freed

Speech given by Ricardo Alarcón at the central event held at the Astral theatre in Havana during a day of solidarity for the Cuban Five, September 12, 2011.

Translation: Machetera

I will be brief in order for the artists present to raise their voices in solidarity with Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

Today marks the completion of thirteen years of an injustice that has gone on far too long for the Cuban Five.  They have received the worst sentences and most cruel treatment, which among other things, has impeded their families from visiting them, and reached inhumane extremes with the prohibition against Adriana and Olga reuniting with Gerardo and René.  They have also been punished by the total silence imposed by a media tyranny which aims to extinguish the solidarity that they deserve and hide the larger truth: the Cuban Five are in prison for opposing the terrorists who are enemies of Cuba and its people. Continue reading

Yoani Sánchez’s faked Obama interview

Annals of Shame: How to fake an interview with the President of the United States of America and be sure nobody will notice

“The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” – Joseph Goebbels

Some years ago I accompanied a Cuban friend who needed to sign a document in front of a U.S. consular official at the U.S. Interests Section (USIS) in Havana.  Once past the waiting room where TV Martí plays to its small captive audience – the only one it can legitimately claim on the island – and back toward the section where such transactions take place, I noticed a couple of idle computer terminals.  I asked if I might go ahead and check my email while we waited.  The consular official narrowed his eyes at me.  “No,” he snapped.

That’s the nature of things when you’re a lowly U.S. citizen inside Fortress USA on Havana’s Malecon.  Continue reading

From Latin America to the Arab World

From Latin America to the Arab World – What’s going on in Libya?

Santiago Alba Rico and Alma Allende – español

Translation: Machetera

We have the impression that a great worldwide liberation process may be aborted by the unappeasable ferocity of Gaddafi, U.S. interventionism, and a lack of foresight in Latin America.

We might describe the situation like this: in a part of the world linked once again to strong internal solidarities and from which only lethargy or fanaticism was expected, a wave of popular uprisings have arisen which have threatened to topple the allies of Western powers in the region, one after the other.  Independent of local differences, these uprisings have something in common that radically distinguishes them from the orange and rose colored “revolutions” promoted by capitalism in the former Soviet bloc: they demand democracy, certainly, but far from being fascinated by Europe and the United States, they are the holders of a long, entrenched, radical anti-imperialist tradition forged around Palestine and Iraq.  There’s not even a hint of socialism in the popular Arab uprisings, but neither is there one of Islamism, nor – most importantly – of Euro-centric seduction: it is simultaneously a matter of economic upheaval and democratic, nationalistic and anti-colonial revolution, something that, forty years after their defeat, suddenly opens an unexpected opportunity for the region’s socialist and pan-Arabist left. Continue reading

Al Giordano’s unrequited love for Eva Golinger

Does Al have a crush on Eva?  Don’t ask me.  I haven’t a clue about his preferences, although one might argue that preferences and fixations are totally separate things.  It’s peculiar, is all I’m saying.  Interwoven in a rambling piece that makes many reasonable points about Venezuelan bureaucracy and Libyan wildman Muammar Gaddafi,    there are some extended, might we even say, screeching attacks on Golinger, coupled with some new but predictable complaints about Belarus and Telesur (guess Venezuela’s Information Ministry won’t bother with Narco News‘s j-school this year) and the usual infomercial about how nobody but Narco News knows how to do anything at all.  And then, this little embarrassing bit:

“…what could NATO possibly do to the Libyan people that Gaddafi isn’t already doing?”

Oh, quite a lot, I imagine.

Still and all, it’s a piece that will please Al’s ICNC sponsors.  See you in Madrid!

South of the Border: Oliver Stone y su monstruo del pantano

Traducción del inglés: Atenea Acevedo


Vivo en un desierto cinematográfico. Antes había por aquí un cinito tenebroso, pero lo echaron abajo y nos abandonaron a la suerte de Netflix. El piso del viejo cine era pegajoso como el engrudo gracias a los litros de refresco de cola derramados que nadie limpiaba. Según mi papá, no era un mal sitio para ver una peli si llevabas un huacal para subir los pies y una pinza para taparte la nariz.

En todo caso, el perfil demográfico de mi ciudad no es lo máximo. Tampoco sé nada del negocio de la distribución de películas, pero no me sorprende que la gente a cargo de distribuir South of the Border de Oliver Stone se haya saltado mi rincón en el mundo cuando definía la programación del documental el verano pasado. La única opción era organizar una proyección por mi cuenta, pero paso, gracias. Continue reading

South of the Border: Oliver Stone and his swamp thing


I live in a cinema wasteland.  We used to have one tiny scary movie theatre here before it was torn down and we were ultimately abandoned to the fate of Netflix.  The floor was positively glue-like, from all the spilled cola that was never cleaned away.  My dad used to say “Not a bad place to watch a movie if you bring a soapbox to put your feet on and a clothespin to hold your nose.”

So the local demographics aren’t great.  And I don’t know anything about the movie distribution business but I’m not totally surprised that the people responsible for distributing Oliver Stone’s South of the Border took a pass on this place back when they were scheduling openings for the documentary last summer.  Unless I was going to organize a screening myself.  Which, thanks, but no. Continue reading