Tag Archives: Cuba

The Establishment proposes catching up in Cuba by ignoring its government

La Alborada – May 20

Tr-bigstick-cartoonA group of former diplomats –including some very interventionist ones–, former members of the US legislative and executive branches, retired military officers, current bankers and corporate officials, NGO heads, and some others, have sent an open letter to President Obama asking that he take action to facilitate the penetration of the Cuban economy through actions that are within his power to take.

Somehow, this is being dressed up as an effort to improve relations with Cuba. It is hardly that, however. It looks more like recommendations that might be advanced by Freedom House, USAID, DAI, NSA, CIA, NED, NGOs, and other members of Washington’s alphabet soup. The difference seems to be that these actions would be authorized openly to facilitate involvement in Cuba’s economy, in particular the developing small-business sector, by “US NGOs and other organizations.”

There is no mention whatever of doing any of it with the approval or cooperation of the Cuban government, except in one paragraph at the end of the list, which proposes that the US “engage in serious discussions with Cuban counterparts on mutual security and humanitarian concerns,” and that in so doing it “leverage these talks to press Cuban officials on matters such as the release of Alan Gross and on-going human rights concerns.”

The last part about Alan Gross is a nod to the current US posture that no improvement in relations is possible unless Gross is released unilaterally, but it does not matter: the proposals seek no improvement in relations, but only a new effort to get into Cuban business now. There is nothing urging the President to negotiate an exchange with the remaining three prisoners of the Cuban Five, nor to remove Cuba from the list of sponsors of terrorism. There is no suggestion of doing away with the blockade.

The underlying motivation is revealed in one phrase: “…the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy.” That is to say that, while the US government and the media argue that the new Cuban economy is not going anywhere, that the Mariel EDZ will draw no investors, and that Raul Castro is incapable of making the economy work, an important sector of the US establishment recognizes that if they don’t get on the bus now they may have to wait a long time before the next one comes by.

These are some of the signers:

– John Negroponte, former Deputy Secretary of State; former Director of National Intelligence, and –based then in Honduras– coordinator of US intelligence and activities in Central America during the wars of the 1980s.

– John Adams, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Retired); former Deputy U.S. Military Representative to NATO; former Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army.

– Admiral James Stavridis, Commander of U.S. Southern Command 2006–2009; Supreme Allied Commander NATO 2009–2013; Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

– Paul Cejas, former U.S. Ambassador; President and CEO, PLC Investments, Inc. (management of portfolio investments as well as investments in real estate and venture capital projects).

– Andres Fanjul, Fanjul Group (big sugar).

– Moises Naím, a minister under Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela and currently a right-wing alarmist and proponent of taking down the governments of all of the ALBA countries. (Cuba is, of course, a founder of ALBA.)

– Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

– Ambassador Charles Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, where he actively assisted coup plotters before, during, and after the coup of 2002; President, Institute of the Americas.

– George Weiksner, Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse – the same bank that yesterday agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties for helping wealthy US clients evade taxes in a scheme federal investigators said spanned decades.

What do they propose? Here are some examples (emphasis is ours):

– Allow unlimited remittances to non-family members for the purpose of supporting independent activity in Cuba and expand the types of goods that travelers may legally take to the Island to support micro-entrepreneurs.

– Establish new licenses for the provision of professional services to independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

– Allow U.S. NGOs and other organizations to lend directly to small farmers, cooperatives, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises in Cuba.

– Allow Cuban entrepreneurs to participate in internships in U.S. corporations and NGOs.

– Authorize the sale of telecommunications hardware in Cuba, including cell towers, satellite dishes, and handsets.

The signers may not be aware of the ZunZuneo debacle and of the way that NSA spies on other countries through back doors built into US hardware, but it seems that they just don’t care what the Cuban government thinks of these ideas. They want Obama to open the gates for intervention.

It’s hard to come to a different conclusion given the character of the proposals. They’re not a good approach to improving relations.



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

Raj Patel on the battle for the world food system

Jill Hickson did this interview with Raj Patel where he talks about everything from food sovereignty to patriarchy, to sustainable agriculture in Cuba and the empowerment that Cubans have as citizens, to the roots of slow food, but he doesn’t stop there.  He talks about the way forward.  24 minutes that fly by in an instant.

Washington’s Cuban cannery

“…a genuine national political movement cannot be manufactured in the capital of the enemy.  Parties and movements are not exportable commodities, because a political party cannot be bought and sold as though it were a can of spam… That this kind of foreign production might have any kind of legitimacy in Cuba is a myth that is only believed by those who do not know Cuba and do not live there.”

The War Against Cuba: New Budgets, Same Premise español

José Pertierra

Translation: Machetera

Presidents in Washington come and go, but the end goal of U.S. foreign policy remains the same: derail the governments who dare to defend their national sovereignty and destroy any revolution that ventures toward a different world than that which is programmed for them.  The weapons that the United States has used in its offensive against Cuba have evolved over the last fifty years, but the war remains the same.

Cubanologists in Washington and Miami want to build a supposed socio-political movement in Cuba as a tool of subversion.  But a genuine national political movement cannot be manufactured in the capital of the enemy. Parties and movements are not exportable commodities, because a political party cannot be bought and sold as though it were a can of spam. Continue reading

Petras takes off the gloves

Today Machetera presents a translation of a Uruguayan radio interview with the U.S. sociologist James Petras, which aired on June 9. Petras bitterly disagrees with Chávez’s recent statements about the FARC, and blames Cuba, which should come as no surprise to anyone who read his moving tribute to Manuel Marulanda, where he made some gratuitous swipes at Fidel Castro and indirectly, el Che, for having the bad taste to turn up on t-shirts worn by “middle-class college students.”

But Chávez’s recent remarks are no surprise either, for anyone who was paying attention to his April remarks at the meeting with the “In Defense of Humanity” network. Whether Chávez has always believed this, or has come to adopt the Cuban point of view seems to Machetera to be utterly irrelevant, and Petras’s remarks on the subject sound almost like red-baiting. Or Cuban-baiting maybe. Continue reading

Kellogg Brown and Root thanks you very very much

Photo from La Jornada with caption:

Yesterday Marine Commander James Terry Conway visited with soldiers wounded in combat with Colombian guerrillas at the naval hospital in Bogota.

* * *

Did you know there’s a good David Brooks? You must have known there’s a bad one – the one who’s paid buckets of money to unzip his mouth and unload not very unconventional wisdom for the likes of the New York Times, NPR and whatever that PBS news show is called nowadays. The good David Brooks is a real reporter, for La Jornada, and here he reports on last week’s presentations to the State Department’s Council of the Americas, by President Bush and his so-called team. Late into his second term, Bush has no better grasp of reality than he did at the beginning. Time to get back to the bunker.

Thanks to reader John B. for sending this piece in for translation.

At the End of his Term, Bush Analyzes and Justifies his Policies Toward Latin America

David Brooks, Correspondent – La Jornada

Translation: Machetera

  • Reforms in Cuba discounted and warnings issued against Venezuela’s dangerous relationships.
  • “We’ve witnessed a social revolution in our hemisphere.” – Condoleezza Rice

WASHINGTON, May 7: Approaching its last months in power, the government of George W. Bush is promoting its last two initiatives in Latin America – the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and the Mérida Initiative. It argues that the influence of the United States in the region is being tested in its relations with Colombia, discounts the changes in Cuba, warns against Venezuela’s dangerous relationships in the region and reiterates its commitment to “social justice.”

Continue reading

Memo to Europe from Mariela Castro


What Europe doesn’t realize is that in Cuba, change began in January, 1959.

Juan Vivanco translated this interview with Mariela Castro from Italian to Spanish for Rebelión. English translation by Machetera for Tlaxcala.

Socialism, but with Fewer Prohibitions

Interview with Mariela Castro, Raúl Castro’s daughter, sexologist and writer

Alessandra Coppola – Corriere della Sera

She’s Raúl’s daughter and says calmly: “The Cuban exit permit has to go; hotels shouldn’t be reserved only for tourists; free access to all kinds of electronic devices ought to be ensured…” Okay, they’d been “necessary prohibitions,” but as soon as conditions permit, they ought to go. “Differences with my father? I’ve had them ever since I was a little girl,” she laughs, “from how to set the table to political affairs.” But not over the essential questions. “He’s my main ally now.”

Continue reading