CUBA BRIEF: From the International Herald Tribune, Albuquerque Journal, Amnesty International and England’s The Telegraph

According to Cuba press reports Bolivian president Evo Morales underwent a successful throat surgery at a Havana hospital a couple of days ago. CubaBrief notes that Havana’s media also reported Hugo Chavez’s “successful” medical treatments on the island. Fidel who knew better managed to remain alive for years after foreign physicians were flown in to take care of him.

Yesterday, the Albuquerque Journal  alerted its readers about “the  hemisphere’s oldest nation facing a demographic challenge of epic proportions: How to care for a rapidly aging population while boosting a stagnant birth rate to revitalize economic activity.” The New Mexico daily was referring to the same Cuba where Fidel Castro led his Youth Revolution; the same Caribbean  island, known for its athletes,baseball players, its music and youth festivals. After 58 years of revolution the young want to flee somewhere, no matter where; and unlike what happened during the first year or two of the revolutionary experiment when birth rates skyrocketed, the island confronts a stagnant birth rate.  All of it very much related to an economy in recession, the inherent characteristics of a Marxist economy, the political repression,  and the failure of the Castros to fulfill  their most basic promises. The article, first published in The Miami Herald is reprinted here.

On my desk a press release promoting tourism to the island says “Americans’ appetite for Cuba grows,”  leaving out news about foreign airlines pulling out of the Cuban market, while others cut down on the number of flights. Be that as it may, Americans’  “appetite” remains a concern for millions of Cubans whose daily rations have been diminished by the tourist inflow, as The New York Timesreported on December 8, 2016 in “Cuba’s Surge in Tourism Keeps Food Off Residents’ Plates.”    

 Also  on my desk two encouraging news stories: Venezuela’s Supreme Court that had seized power from the opposition-led legislature last Thursday, confronted with worldwide criticism reversed its ruling after President Nicolas Maduro called on the court to do so.  Also on my desk, as yet unreported by the foreign media based in Cuba: three human rights activists were released from prison after they had been in a hunger strike since March 7, 2017.   Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva and their brother, Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva were charged with “improper conduct” after Fidel Castro’s death and they were sentenced to one year prison terms. Their mother, Maydolis Leyva, still under house arrest in Holguin thanked everyone around the world that “would not let them die.”   14yMedio, Diario de Cuba, Cubanet and Radio Marti reported the story.  Amnesty International campaigned for their release urging Raul Castro to set them free.  Despite claims by Maduro’s and Raul Castro’s apologists, the two regimes care about foreign public opinion, as their propaganda efforts demonstrate.  Both strongmen should be kept under the glare of the international press. 


Cuba’s double troubles

Our hemisphere’s oldest nation is facing a demographic challenge of epic proportions: How to care for a rapidly aging population while boosting a stagnant birth rate to revitalize economic activity.

Albuquerque Journal
2 Apr 2017

MIAMI HERALD/TNSTwo men watch tourists on Feb. 15, 2017, in Havana, Cuba.

HAVANA — At 67, struggling against the challenges that come with aging and a meager pension, Raquel, an engineer who in her own words was “formed by the Revolution,” survives by sifting through garbage every day in search of recyclable products.

Hands that at one time drew plans and measured distances now pick up cardboard, cans and other discarded containers.

“My life is a struggle from the moment I wake up,” Raquel said.

“My last name? For what? And I don’t want any photos. I have children, and I once had a life. I don’t want people talking about me,” she said after agreeing to tell her story. [More]


The Telegraph, April 2, 2017

Locked up for 16 months: how a British architect discovered Cuba’s dark side

By Harriet Alexander

The Cuban conundrum is that little is what it seems. The mojitos flow, the Buena Vista tribute acts play and the tropical sun shines magnanimously on the tourists: the pasty Canadians, Britons and now – thanks to Barack Obama – Americans.

My mother, on her first visit to the island a few years back, remarked: “It’s so strange, because when you think of Stalinist dictatorships you think of grey, North Korean-style misery, and Cuba doesn’t feel like that.” I’m going to buy her Stephen Purvis’s book.

In Close But No Cigar, Purvis, a 52-year-old London architect who moved to Cuba in 2000, reveals a rather different side to the Castros’ fiefdom.

His shocking memoir recounts being locked up for more than a year, initially for “spying”, then for “economic crime”, without ever being told the details of the allegations against him. “It’s Alice in Wonderland for sociopathic commies,” he writes. [More]



Early today the Center for a Free Cuba’s executive director, Frank Calzon sent out two tweets hoping that President Donald Trump will obtain the release of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo when POTUS meets with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping later this week. Barack Obama was President elect when Liu Xiaobo was arrested on December 8, 2008. The Chinese human rights leader is serving an 11 year prison sentence. The Center for a Free Cuba calls on the Congress and the human rights community world wide to urge Xi Jinping to set him free without delay.
 No one would deny that obtaining his release is a daunting task, that freeing Liu Xiaobo would start Chinese-American relations on a positive course and that for President Trump to succeed would bring him and America worldwide acclaim.

FrankCalzon @FrankCalzon2014 Obama couldn’t do it, will Trump obtain release of Liu Xiaobo? A hard task but not impossible for @POTUS. Universal acclaim would follow. 10:02 AM – 3 Apr 2017

FrankCalzon @FrankCalzon2014 President Trump about to meet dictator Xi Jinping. Pray that he will obtain release of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo