CUBA BRIEF: Castro’s Censorship in New York, Raul’s Legacy, Amnesty’s Prisoner of Conscience Sentenced

“The next year will determine Raúl Castro’s economic legacy,” according to an article in this morning’s The Miami Herald.  Just as Quixotic as the perennial “next year in Havana”. Now that Fidel Castro is dead and Raul’s promises are not implemented, unnamed “analysts” no longer claim Raul is waiting for his brother’s demise to carry out his “new thinking,” insisting that while “there’s no doubt [they mean they have no doubt] that General Castro has more political capital than any successor would to make tough economic decisions,” … “the timing may not be good for any drastic moves.” Going back to the old script they blame the uncertainties in U.S – Cuba relations for Raul’s inaction. The “Empire” is responsible for Raul’s failure to keep his promise when he inherited the presidency. After all those revolutionary years Cubans were finally would drink a glass of milk daily and Cubans would no longer be paid in worthless Cuban pesos that are not accepted in the government’s hard currency stores where cooking oil and scarce medicines is available for hard currency. Trump is now blamed, but Obama is not held accountable, for the Cuban economy shrinking by .9% in 2016. 


The Miami Herald, March 23, 2017

The next year will determine Raúl Castro’s economic legacy


The tourists are still jamming Havana’s Cathedral Square and jostling to get into the popular private restaurants. But not too much is going right with the rest of the economy, and in the last year of his presidency Raúl Castro faces a variety of economic challenges — that he may or may not take on.

Many state enterprises are barely limping along, there are jitters as the economy of Cuba’s Venezuelan benefactor spirals downward, the rules of the road are murky for private businesses, salaries are low, a messy dual currency system still needs to be unified and Cuba is in dire need of much more foreign investment. [More


Amnesty International, March 21, 2017

Cuba: Activist sentenced to three years in jail after criticising Fidel Castro

“There is no doubt that Dr Cardet is a prisoner of conscience, put behind bars for speaking his mind. He must not be made to spend a second longer in jail.”

A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said Amnesty International.

Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday 20 March, his wife told Amnesty International.

He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people.”  His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

“For decades, the Cuban authorities have harassed and intimidated members of the Christian Liberation Movement in a attempt to silence any dissenting ideas,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. [More


Sampsonia Way, March 22, 2017

Castro Censorship Contaminates Havana Film Festival New York

by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo  translated by Alex Higson  /  March 22, 2017

Claiming political neutrality, organizers of the Havana Film Festival New York cancel showings of Cuban filmmaker Carlos Lechuga’s Santa y Andrés. Their censorship harkens back to the 1960’s persecution of homosexuals under the Castro regime.

I feel sad to be writing these lines. I feel sad for this country that gave me refuge from the repression that I suffered in Castro’s Cuba. It is painful to witness the moral decline of the United States of America: A nation that for Cubans is no longer synonymous with democracy, nor an ally in the struggle for civil rights. Rather, it is quite the opposite: An enemy infected with ideological intolerance and, worse, complicity with many of the world’s dictatorships, especially the largest in this hemisphere—the so-called Cuban Revolution (a regime that, since January 1, 1959, has not been freely elected by any Cuban). [More

Sandwiched between former U.S. Ambassador Vicki Huddleston who is very much concerned about President Trump’s review of President Obama’s executive orders and Pedro Freyre who insists that foreign investors see Cuba as the last frontier to be opened in the Caribbean. Frank Calzon responded to the following question from the Inter-American Dialogue


Latin American Advisor, A Daily Publication of The Dialogue, March 23, 2017

Featured Q&A: Has the Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations Frozen Yet Again?

Q: U.S. airlines Frontier and Silver on March 13 announced they would be canceling service to Cuba, citing market saturation and lower-than-anticipated demand. Is the promise that Cuba showed when the United States and Cuba first announced a warming of relations materializing? What is the future for U.S. businesses hoping to expand in Cuba, and how eager is Cuba to accept the United States as a business partner? Will U.S. President Donald Trump help spur stronger business ties between the two countries, or will he roll back Obama administration efforts to renew relations?

A: Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba:

“Frontier and Silver cancellations and American and JetBlue cutbacks in air service result from the collision of Mr. Obama’s Cuban ‘narrative’ with the facts. The ‘promise’ by Cuba when the ‘warming’ of relations was announced ignored that the regime pays Cubans in worthless pesos, and many foodstuffs are only available in convertible currency at prices similar to those abroad. The dictator is not ‘eager’ to have the United States ‘as a business partner,’ unless he gets credits and the American taxpayer ends up picking up the tab for his unpaid bills. What ‘expansion’ of U.S. business could occur as long as Cubans get paid less than $30 a month? President Trump should spur stronger business ties with the island when Havana returns American terrorists on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and Cubans who are not part of the Castro family or the military could partner with American companies. Havana continues to deny Cubans the same business opportunities it provides foreigners. Mr. Obama’s decrees, negotiated in secret and ignoring Congress, if deemed not consistent with the law, need to be revoked. In the meantime, the Advisor’s readers should be aware of the risks of doing business in a place where there is no rule of law, as The Guardian has recently described in ‘From now on you have no name. You are prisoner 217: life in a Cuban jail.’ A brutal high-security prison was the last place Stephen Purvis expected to end up when he moved to Havana.”