CUBA BRIEF: UM Suspends Pro-Castro lecture. Boston Globe’s Columnist focuses on Che

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine lecture by Dr. Roberto Villafranca [University of Medical Sciences, Cuba] was advertised to be held tomorrow, October 18th. According to the UM announcement, Dr. Villafranca was to speak on “[t]he Cuban National Health System [which] is highly structured, prevention-oriented, and gives special attention to continuing medical education.” The UM announcement said that the lecture would focus “on how the [Cuban] system has produced impressive results including one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, improved life expectancies, and reduced infant mortality rates.” The lecture was canceled, hopefully because UM realizes that there is a difference between Cuban government claims and the reality of medical care in Cuba. As Sherri L. Porcelain, who has taughtGlobal Public Health in world affairs at the University of Miami for more than 30 years has pointed out “Cuba’s lack of transparency in health outbreak reporting is in question.” She says that “Cuban health professionals are directed to euphemistically use the vague terms of febrile illnesses in place of dengue and gastrointestinal upset for cholera in contradiction to promoting public health transparency.”

There is a need for a debate, discussion, a dialogue on Cuba’s medical care, where the facts could be ascertained. But, the lecture just cancelled was a propaganda exercise on Cuba’s health system. UM faculty and students would be better served if someone representing the regime were to be a part of a panel discussion or debate where another speaker could point out facts hidden by the regime. 

For example, there is a relationship between the government’s claims of low infant mortality rates and the very high rate of abortion on the island.  Sick babies are not allowed to be born and their deaths do not count toward infant mortality statistics.

The release of a commemorative stamp honoring Che Guevara by Ireland was the subject of a column by the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby. In “A stamp for ‘Stalin II’” Mr. Jacoby said that the Argentinean warrior was “a fanatical zealotwho celebrated the power of “unbending hatred” to turn a human being into “an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.”  The article follows.


The Boston Globe Newsletter: Arguable with Jeff Jacoby, October 16, 2017
A stamp for ‘Stalin II’ 

By Jeff Jacoby

Ireland’s postal service last week issued a commemorative stamp honoring Che Guevara on the 50th anniversary of his death. The 1-euro stamp features the famous portrait by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, an image that has been emblazoned for decades on t-shirts, posters, hats, and jackets. A 2-euro postal card issued the same day also contains a quote from Guevara’s father, who was of Irish descent: “In my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels.”
Actually, in Che Guevara’s veins flowed the blood of a mass murderer and a sadistic terrorist. He was a fanatical zealot who celebrated the power of “unbending hatred” to turn a human being into “an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.” He was Fidel Castro’s vicious henchman , a monster who helped usher in Cuban communism on a tidal wave of slaughter, a KGB-trained totalitarian who on occasion signed his letters “Stalin II.”
Like his idol, Che Guevara attached no value to innocent human lives. As chief prosecutor of the new Castro regime, he set about exterminating opponents and dissidents with fervor, to the shock of conscientious attorneys who had believed the revolutionary leaders’ rhetoric about justice and democracy. In a chilling, infuriating 2007 book, the Cuban-born journalist Humberto Fontova describes how idealistic members of the Castro government’s new legal team were ruthlessly told the facts of life:

“What’s the holdup, here?” Che Guevara barked at a commissioner, José Vilasuso, as he stormed into his office in La Cabana. Vilasuso, an honorable man, answered forthrightly that he was gathering and assembling evidence and attempting to determine guilt. Che set him straight. “Quit the dallying! Your job is a very simple one. Judicial evidence is an archaic and secondary bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! We execute from revolutionary conviction.” José Vilasuso quickly fled. 

Under the new order, Che emphasized, there was no room for human rights and due process of law. “To execute a man we don’t need proof of his guilt,” he declared. “We only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him.”

Of course Che was motivated by more than mere bloodlust. There was psychopathic cruelty as well.

One mother, Rosa Hernandez, recalls how she begged for a meeting with Che in order to try to save her 17-year-old son, who was condemned without trial to the firing squad. Guevara graciously complied. “Come right in, señora,” said Che as he opened the door to his office. “Have a seat.” Silently he listened to her sobs and pleas, then picked up the phone right in front of her. “Execute the Hernandez boy tonight,” Che barked. 

But why should any of this matter to Ireland’s postal authorities? Che Guevara had Irish blood. That’s apparently enough to get him honored on an Irish postage stamp. Who, I wonder, will Dublin honor next? Lee Harvey Oswald? Timothy McVeigh? James “Whitey” Bulger? They had Irish blood too.
This isn’t the first time an Irish government has been keen to honor Castro’s evil sidekick. In 2012, city councilors in Galway proposed to erect a statue in Che Guevara’s honor. Eventually the plan was blocked, perhaps in part because of an impassioned plea by Carlos Eire, a distinguished professor of literature at Yale. He attempted to explain the truth about Che in terms any Irish patriot ought to understand, likening the depraved butcher to a figure from Irish history.
“To praise Che, one must overlook mountains of evidence concerning his crimes,” wrote Eire, who had fled Cuba as a child.

Everyone in Galway and Ireland should know this: Che has a lot in common with Oliver Cromwell.
Like Cromwell, Che proclaimed himself a liberator and felt justified in committing thousands of atrocities in a land other than his own, all in the name of a higher cause. Like Cromwell, Che stole everyone’s property too, for a sacred purpose.
As for reputation: Cromwell received plenty of good press and adulation from those on his side, just like Che.
To Cromwell’s admirers ­— and he had plenty who would eagerly build him monuments — the Irish people were inconsequential obstacles to a higher goal, or worse, despicable papist wretches who deserved no mercy.

At least one Irish politician is appalled by the new stamp. Neale Richmond, a Fine Gael senator, condemned the “terrible” decision to honor Che, “given his role as a barbaric interrogator, jailer, and executioner.” But the controversy has, if anything, boosted the stamp’s sales: The first run of 122,000 stamps sold out within days. Ireland’s postal service is gearing up to print more, as the blood of Che’s victims cries out from the ground.


The Washington Examiner, October 12, 2017

Who is responsible for the sonic attacks on US diplomats in Cuba?

by Tom Rogan

I don’t know who is responsible for the so-called “sonic attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, but I have some ideas.

First off, it’s worth noting what White House chief of staff, John Kelly, added to the story, Thursday, when he stated, “We believe the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats.”

The attacks, an audio representation of which the AP released on Thursday, have affected around two dozen U.S. diplomats and a number of Canadians, leading to symptoms including extreme headaches, speech difficulties, and hearing loss.

I think Kelly’s comment is notable for two reasons.

Most obviously, as chief of staff, Kelly is entitled to the highest-level intelligence in the U.S. government. Kelly thus knows everything that the U.S. intelligence community knows about the sonic incidents in Cuba. But Kelly’s comment wasn’t just interesting in its content, but also in its delivery. After all, Kelly paused to consider his words before answering. While it might seem like I’m stretching here, when a politician pauses before speaking about sensitive national security issues, it’s often because they want to avoid leaking any U.S. intelligence indicators.

In turn, by associating the attacks with the Cuban government, Kelly suggests the U.S. confidently believes that Cuba knows who is responsible for the attacks. While it’s notable that Kelly didn’t say “Cuba must stop its attacks on our diplomats,” his words suggests belief that the Cuban dictatorship has some culpability.

What might that culpability entail?

It’s very hard to say, but to me, three possibilities stand out.

One is that a group of rogue Cuban intelligence officers is attempting to drive the U.S. out of Cuba. As John Schindler has detailed, Cuba’s intelligence service, the DI, is both aggressive and highly-skilled. Home to many of true believers of Castro’s revolution, maybe some officers have taken it onto themselves to purge what they see as excessive U.S. influence in their island nation?

Second, it’s possible that someone within the DI is employing cutout agents to attack U.S. diplomats. Cutouts, or deniable intermediaries, are a favored means of conducting intelligence operations wherein detection would bring about significant negative consequences. Correspondingly, Cuban hardliners in the government might believe cutouts would enable them to drive a wedge against U.S. rapprochement while mitigating their vulnerability to retaliation.

The third potential culprit is a foreign intelligence service in Havana. Here, the Russians would be the most likely suspects. That’s because Russia would have both the twofold intent of pushing the U.S. out of Cuba, and attacking U.S. diplomats (something Russia does aggressively and globally), and the means of action. Russia retains a significant intelligence footprint in Havana and its officers have the professional skill to pull off this kind of operation. The later attacks on Canadian officials also reeks of a Russian effort to throw investigators off the scent.

Still, what unites these all three possibilities to Kelly’s comments is the fact that Cuban counter-intelligence officers closely monitor their own citizens and foreigners alike. Because of the number of attacks and their timeline, it is credible to assume that Cuban intelligence has knowledge of who was in proximity to the U.S. diplomats when they were attacked.

Ultimately, for the U.S., the challenge of figuring out these sonic attacks is their nature. Whether targeting diplomats in a hotel or a diplomatic residence, whoever was responsible could simply direct a sonic device at a window and then leave it on for whatever time was required to achieve a physical effect. The attacker/s could then leave without a trace.

Regardless, we must assume whoever is responsible has some connection to an intelligence outfit: the attacks are too sophisticated to be the work of thugs or terrorists.