CUBA BRIEF: Raul Castro’s Mission Impossible – Cuba travel bubble is popping – Southwest Voter Registration Education Project asked to help Cuban activists


The Associated  Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that Fidel’s “younger” brother has decided to carry out a “mission impossible”. Raul wants “to replace Soviet-era” propaganda with “high-definition broadcasting” using “young” journalists. But insists that media content must remain under Communist Party control.

Don’t get your hopes up yet. For Raulito, anyone under 70 is “young”, and a regime journalist resembles a real journalist as much as a fly resembles a jumbo jet airliner. Soviet propaganda will end in Cuba when freedom arrives.

Another mission impossible is that of Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). The Kansas Senator introduced a Cuba trade bill, according to the Abilene Kansas, Reflector Chronicle.Senator Moran says that The Cuba Trade Act of 2017 (S. 472), “would restore trade with Cuba and grant the private sector the freedom to export U.S. goods and services to Cuba.” Moran says that “Cuba is only 90 miles from our border, making it a natural market for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.”

Senator Moran should not get his hopes up yet.  Cuba’s average salary is less than $30 a month. Kansas entrepreneurs would be better off exploring business opportunities in non Communist economies throughout Latin America. Cuba remains hostile to the United States. Russian spy ships again visit Havana and according to the FBI the regime harbors American terrorists, some of whom appear in the FBI most wanted list.

While Senator Moran promotes business [not with Cuba] but with the Castro family and the Cuban military, the New York based Human Rights Foundation condemns the detention and arbitrary abuse of two democracy activists in Santiago de Cuba. The influential human rights organization denounced this week that pro-democracy activist Maria Mercedes Benítez was arrested on February 17, 2017 by state security agents who dragged her out of her house, beat her and arrested her without a judicial order. Ms. Benítez is a member of the Network of Electoral Facilitators, a Cuban organization that is repressed by the government. She organized a seminar in her home to train possible independent candidates for future municipal elections. Vismayka Amelo, a candidate who attends Ms. Benitez’s workshops was also arrested.

The Center for a Free Cuba has asked California’s Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, which is raffling two roundtrip tourist trips to the island, to urge General Raul Castro to set free without delay Maria Mercedes Benítez and Vismayka Amelo.


ABC News, March 14, 2017

Cuba tries to reboot its creaky state news apparatus

By Michael Weissenstein, associated press

HAVANA — Mar 14, 2017

 The Cuban government is trying to reboot its Soviet-era style news programming with a high-definition current affairs channel staffed by young journalists.

The Caribe channel is starting slowly, with 3? hours of offerings a night on a new channel available to a few hundred thousand viewers who have bought high-definition decoder boxes.

Producers say they hope to eventually expand to nearly round-the-clock programming. That’s a niche currently occupied only by Telesur, a regional news channel financed by leftist Latin American governments. [More]


The Miami Herald, March 14, 2017

The Cuba travel bubble is popping

By Fabiola Santiago

At the height of the Cuba travel frenzy, unleashed by the restoration of diplomatic relations and relaxed U.S. travel rules, not a day went by without an onslaught of photos on social media of americanos cruising Havana in antique convertibles and puffing on cigars. The island was pronounced awesome, unique — a must see. The U.S.-born could buy an instant visa at the airline counter and hop on a plane to Havana for the weekend as if it were the Bahamas.

The rush had airlines and cruise lines salivating at the business opportunity. American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, Frontier, and Silver Airways began flying commercial to the island from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. And on the seas, Miami-based Carnival Corp. launched the first cruise to sail to Cuba since 1961.

But the bubble is popping. [More]


The Washington Post, March 14, 2017

OAS head urges bloc suspend Venezuela over elections 

By Luis Alonso Lugo and Joshua Goodman | AP March 14 at 10:29 PM

WASHINGTON — The head of the Organization of American States wants regional governments to suspend Venezuela from the Washington-based group unless general elections are held soon to break a political impasse that he said Tuesday is destroying the country’s democracy. [More]