Torture suspect arrested
Federal agents arrest
yet another Cuban torture suspect in Miami,
accusing him of having persecuted dissidents
opposed to Fidel Castro in the 1990s.
By Alfonso Chardy and Karl
Ross, firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on Sat,
Jul. 03, 2004.
Federal immigration agents raided a west
Miami-Dade apartment early Friday and arrested
a Cuban national that a judge ordered deported
on suspicion of having persecuted dissidents
in the early 1990s before leaving the island
for the United States.
His attorney categorically denied the allegation
and said Luis Enrique Daniel Rodríguez,
37, was a defector.
During immigration proceedings in Miami,
Daniel Rodríguez acknowledged he
was a Cuban government officer, people familiar
with the case said.
Barbara González, a spokeswoman
in Miami for U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, confirmed the arrest. Court
records showed the judge ordered him deported
''An immigration judge made a finding that
he was a persecutor or involved in human
rights violations based on his work for
the Ministry of the Interior in Cuba,''
she said. "Based on the findings, the
judge issued an order of removal.''
LAWYER: 'NO PROOF'
Leonardo Viota Sesin, Daniel Rodríguez's
attorney, denied his client is a human rights
''Hogwash,'' he said. "He is no persecutor.
He may have worked for the Ministry of the
Interior but many other defectors did as
well and they are living under the protection
of the United States. My client is a defector.
There is no proof he was ever a persecutor.
It's guilt by association of the worst kind.''
People familiar with the investigation
said that after Daniel Rodríguez
was arrested in the 8900 block of Southwest
25th Street, he was transported to the Krome
detention center in west Miami-Dade County
to await deportation.
Cuban nationals are rarely deported because
the Cuban government generally does not
take back exiles living in the United States.
In general, Cuban nationals detained by
immigration and ordered deported are released
But immigration law also allows federal
authorities to detain indefinitely a foreigner
who cannot be deported and is deemed a security
THIRD CUBAN HELD
Daniel Rodríguez is the third Cuban
arrested as a foreign torture suspect since
immigration authorities began arresting
such subjects under a so-called ''persecutor
program'' started in 2000.
Daniel Rodríguez, who crossed into
the United States from Mexico in 2000, lived
in a one-room studio at the rear of a ranch-style
house subdivided into apartments. The place
looked as if the tenant had left in a hurry.
A fan was still whirring.
In a letter found discarded outside, dated
Thursday, Daniel Rodríguez requested
five days off from his employer, a furniture
store, so he could meet his wife and child,
about to arrive from Cuba.
José Luis Gil was surprised when
told his neighbor had been arrested as a
suspected Cuban agent and torturer.
''He seemed normal,'' Gil said. "I
never noticed anything odd or unusual about
During immigration proceedings, Daniel
Rodríguez denied having violated
human rights. But the government trial lawyer
said he likely was the ''lieutenant Daniel''
mentioned in a 1991 Human Rights Watch report
titled "Cuba Behind a Sporting Facade,
Stepped Up Repression.''
According to the report, Lt. Daniel was
one of four Cuban military officers who
raided the home of human rights activists
in 1991 to confiscate documents, reports
and cassette tapes. It also said Lt. Daniel
was seen among a group of pro-Castro demonstrators
in a rally known as an ''act of repudiation''
outside the home of another dissident in
Viota Sesin said his client is not the
man in the report.
Torture suspect from Cuba has closed
Alfonso Chardy. Posted on
Sat, Jul. 03, 2004.
A hearing took place in immigration court
Thursday for Jorge de Cárdenas Agostini,
a Cuban recently arrested by federal immigration
agents as a torture suspect.
However, his lawyer, who has proclaimed
his innocence, succeeded in closing the
hearing and barring a Herald reporter from
Judge Kenneth Hurewitz and the immigration
service's trial attorney said they had no
objection to coverage. But Hurewitz granted
the motion by de Cárdenas' attorney,
Linda Osberg-Braun, to close the hearing.
''Under immigration law, the respondent
has a right to a private hearing,'' Hurewitz
Immigration law says a judge can close
a hearing "for the purpose of protecting
witnesses, parties or the public interest.''
Neither the court, nor the government would
say what happened at the hearing. Osberg-Braun
did not return calls to her office. But
a source familiar with immigration proceedings
said Thursday's session was de Cárdenas'
initial court appearance since his June
Democrats say Cuba travel restrictions
could help Kerry
Ken Thomas, Associated Press.
Posted on Thu, Jul. 01, 2004.
MIAMI - Democrats criticizing the Bush
administration's new travel restrictions
to Cuba suggested Thursday it could help
presidential candidate John Kerry peel away
some Cuban American voters traditionally
loyal to Republicans.
The new rules that began Wednesday are
part of the administration's attempt to
undercut Cuban President Fidel Castro. The
restrictions have generated criticism from
some Cuban-Americans, including a group
that was unable to catch an expected flight
Tuesday at Miami International Airport.
Kerry called it a "cynical, election-year
policy" that would "harm Cuban
Americans with families on the island while
doing nothing to hasten the end of the Castro
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., said it
represented a hard-right turn by the Bush
administration, arguing the Massachusetts
senator could offer an alternative to the
heavily Republican Cuban-American community.
"I think what the president has done
has motivated several individuals who gave
him the benefit of the doubt for carrying
out sound leadership. They're going to find
other people to vote for - that other person
is John Kerry," said Meek, Kerry's
state campaign chairman.
Cuban-Americans supported Bush in 2000
by about 4-to-1, a critical margin in a
state where Bush won by only 537 votes.
Recent polls show Bush and Kerry locked
in a neck-and-neck contest in Florida.
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. and
like Meek from Miami, rejected the Democrat
assertions, saying the support in the exile
community for Bush and his package of reforms
to democratize Cuba has been "unprecedented
- beyond overwhelming."
In addition to the travel restrictions,
the measures announced earlier this year
include funding for dissidents, democracy-building
activities and aid to end the jamming of
U.S. broadcasts to the island.
"An election is coming in November
- watch," Diaz-Balart said, predicting
Bush will add to his margin among Cuban-Americans
in 2000. He called reports of dissension
among Cuban-Americans "on another planet."
State GOP chairman Carole Jean Jordan said
the president "has done more toward
the realization of a free Cuba in three
years than John Kerry ever did in his 19
years in the Senate."
The new travel rules bar Cuban-Americans
from visiting family on the island nation
more than once every three years instead
of once a year. They also limit visits to
14 days and daily spending to $50 per person.
Before, there were no limits on visit length
and people could spend $167 a day.
Miami television newscasts showed images
on Tuesday of dozens of Cuban-Americans
chanting "We want to fly!" after
they were turned away from flights to visit
their families as the deadline approached.
The charter they had expected to fly on
went to Havana empty to pick up Cuban-Americans
returning to Miami.
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban
American National Foundation, said their
organization supported "99 percent"
of the tough new strategy on Cuba announced
this year but the president "received
bad counsel" on the travel restrictions.
"One little thing of this has divided
it and eclipsed a series of measures that
are fantastic," Garcia said. "We
love what the president did. We're friends
with the president of the United States,
many of the people here. But those people
who want to see a good policy certainly
don't want to see it mucked up by bad politics."
Whether it would provide Kerry an opening
to whittle away at Bush's Cuban-American
support remained uncertain. Some Democrats
have pointed to former President Clinton's
relative success with Cubans in 1996 as
a model - he earned nearly 40 percent.
Jorge Carbonell, a retired broadcaster,
said most members of the exile community
supported the restrictions and the critics
were limited to a small minority - many
who are recent arrivals and nonvoters.
"Most of the guys who were crying
at the airport - they're not citizens,"
Carbonell said, standing near the outdoor
counter at Versailles Restaurant in the
heart of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
Vicente Rodriguez, the editor of La Voz
de La Calle, a Hialeah-based weekly newspaper,
said it was possible Kerry could get some
additional support - but it would likely
"The problem is, in the Cuban community,
Bush is not the best," Rodriguez said.
"But he is better than Kerry."
Cuba sanctions hit home for families
By Elaine de Valle and Daniel
de Vise, email@example.com. Posted on Thu,
Jul. 01, 2004.
Dora Sánchez, 71, turned up Wednesday
at a Westchester shop called La Estrella
de Cuba with a bag of baby clothes, bottles,
diapers and booties for her brother's new
grandson, her grand-nephew, born June 8
She was a day late.
On Wednesday, people who live in the United
States lost the right to send clothing,
photographs and an array of other items
to loved ones living in Cuba.
The new rules, along with restrictions
on travel, were ordered by President Bush
and are tailored to hit Fidel Castro in
the pocketbook and hasten the demise of
But in the envios, or shipping houses,
of Hialeah and Little Havana on Wednesday,
there was a more immediate impact.
Dalia González, a Hialeah woman,
typically goes to Havana every August to
visit her daughters and her grandchildren,
ages 6 and 1. She stopped by Cuba Export
and Travel on Wednesday, but only to make
a few copies. She will not see the grandchildren
again until 2006.
''I understand: the new rules help. But
the new rules don't permit me to go to Cuba.
I don't like that,'' she said.
"I help the cause of liberty when
I go . . . and I tell all of my friends
about how it is in the United States, the
The new measures have left Cuban Miami
tense and divided. The early exiles, those
who left Cuba in the early 1960s, mostly
favor the sanctions. Those who have arrived
since 1990, with fresher ties to the island,
seem largely opposed.
Sánchez, the grandmother barred
from sending booties to her brother, couldn't
disagree with the measure.
''Some people like me will suffer,'' she
said, "but they had to do something
about the shameless Cubans who are getting
here and in 18 months they want to go back
to that hell to leave dollars there. My
brother will adjust.''
Across town, at a shipping agency called
Almacén El Español, Carlos
Royo begged to differ.
''It's not about Fidel. It's not about
Bush. It's about my family in Cuba that
is poor and hungry,'' Royo said. "Fidel
will go on over there. Bush will go on in
his White House. And my family will go on
At issue are new rules issued by the federal
Treasury and Commerce departments, part
of a broader strategy to speed the demise
of socialism in Cuba. They narrow the range
of acceptable actions -- already quite limited
-- by Americans who wish to travel to Cuba
or to send packages there.
Cuban Americans may now send packages only
to immediate family, not uncles, aunts,
cousins or friends. The parcels may only
include food, medicine and a few other vital
items. No longer allowed: jeans, shoes,
underwear, soap and other items that typically
can't be bought by Cubans on the island
and were de rigueur in most care packages
Travelers accustomed to visiting Cuba once
a year may now go only once every three
years. Baggage is restricted, and the daily
spending limit is trimmed from $167 to $50.
At La Estrella de Cuba in Westchester,
the phones rang ceaselessly Wednesday with
callers still confused about what they could
or could not send.
''Only food and medicine,'' employee Zumel
Michel told caller after caller. "No,
no clothing. No shoes, either.''
The agencies, licensed to ship parcels
to Cuba, had seen business double or triple
in the past few weeks and stayed open late
as the cutoff date neared. Many customers
''left here crying,'' Michel said, "because
they knew that was the last package they
On Wednesday, traffic at the envios dropped
to nearly nothing.
One Hialeah shopkeeper posted a hand-written
note and took the morning off. Another complained,
two hours after his business opened, that
he had yet to see a single customer.
''All of our businesses are affected. Where
are the customers?'' said the owner of Cuba
Export and Travel, who gave his name only
as Morales. "In three months, half
of these businesses will close. That's what
I think will happen.''
Most shipping agencies are raising their
prices to help compensate for the lighter
boxes: from $13 to $16 a pound at La Estrella,
for example, and by as much as 50 percent
Tom Cooper, president of Gulfstream Air
Charter, said he anticipates his company's
business to Havana will decrease by 60 or
70 percent, the Associated Press reported.
In Havana, where charter flights from the
United States usually arrive full, a 122-seat
plane arrived Wednesday with only 17 passengers,
the AP said.
The restrictions are the talk of Cuban
radio and Spanish-language television. About
two dozen Cuban Americans demonstrated Wednesday
outside the Doral district office of U.S.
Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, the Miami
Republican, in support of the measure.
A day earlier, Díaz-Balart had been
confronted at the airport by a group opposed
to the sanctions.
Díaz-Balart said his office took
235 calls favoring the restrictions, three
against. Spanish-language radio station
WWFE-AM (670) La Poderosa took 115 calls
on a recent day, 112 of them to support
the new rules, said owner Jorge Rodriguez.
''I have never seen the community more
united,'' Díaz-Balart said. "It's
absolutely overwhelming, the support for
President Bush and these measures.''
But Democrats smelled a backlash and, perhaps,
an opening for their nominee to make a dent
in a traditionally Republican-leaning voting
block by appealing to moderate Cuban Americans
and those with family still on the island.
John Kerry, in a statement Wednesday, denounced
Bush's policy as a ''cynical, election-year''
ploy and said the restrictions will "punish
the Cuban people and harm Cuban Americans
with families on the island while doing
nothing to hasten the end of the Castro
Herald staff writers Jonathan Abel and
Lesley Clark contributed to this report.
Repatriated exile: Government will let
him leave Cuba and return
Anita Snow, Associated Press.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 30, 2004.
HAVANA - Opposition member Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo,
a repatriated exile who refused to leave
the island for fear he wouldn't be allowed
to return, said Wednesday the government
gave him a passport allowing him to visit
Spain and come back.
Gutierrez-Menoyo said in a statement distributed
via e-mail to international media that he
was leaving Havana late Wednesday for Spain,
where he had been invited to attend a congress
of the Socialist Workers Party.
Although his immigration status in Cuba
remains unclear, Gutierrez-Menoyo said that
the passport letting him go and return to
the island was a positive sign. He previously
was living here without immigration documents
of any kind.
"I cannot deny the fact that this
represents flexibility by the government
toward someone in the island's independent
opposition," he wrote.
The Cuban government did not publicly comment
on Gutierrez-Menoyo's travel plans. It has
remained silent on his presence here since
he returned to the island 10 months with
the intention of staying indefinitely.
Gutierrez-Menoyo is a former rebel commander
who fought in the Cuban revolution before
falling out with Fidel Castro and spending
22 years in prison here.
Born in Spain, Gutierrez-Menoyo later became
a Cuban citizen. During his years in exile,
beginning in the 1980s, he retained his
Cuban citizenship although he also had U.S.
He returned to Cuba to stay in August during
a family vacation. His wife and three school-aged
sons returned to Miami, but have visited
him here since.
Gutierrez-Menoyo insists as a Cuban citizen
has the right to live on the island and
wants to open a Havana office of his Miami-based
pro-democracy group - Cambio Cubano - to
bring about change in Cuba. He left his
family behind in Miami.
Gutierrez-Menoyo has promoted dialogue
with Castro in recent years and even has
even met with him several times - but not
since returning to live here last year.
Many exiled Cubans leaders in Florida criticize
Cambio Cubano as being too "collaborative"
with Castro's government.
Guayabera's origin remains a puzzle
By Christine Armario, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 30, 2004.
The origins of the guayabera remain open
to debate -- even on Guayabera Day, this
It's as Cuban as the folk song Guantanamera
-- or so it is thought. The guayabera, that
long-sleeved, four-pocket shirt long the
garb of exiles and militants, has a somewhat
'Everybody says 'No, it's from my country,
no it's from mine,' '' said Ninoska Castillo,
a Nicaraguan waitress at Exquisito Restaurant
in Little Havana. "Everyone wants to
be the creator of the guayabera.''
Thursday is Guayabera Day. It began in
Cuba to mark the unofficial start of spring
and maybe to settle the long-running debate
of who made the first guayabera.
The first guayabera might have been made
by the wife of a Spaniard in Sancti Spíritus,
Cuba, sometime in the 18th century. Some
say it got its name from the guayaba fruit
farm hands used the pockets to carry, or
from the Yayabo River whose nearby residents
were known as Yayaberos.
Of course, neither might be true. A similar
shirt, the Barong Tagalog, was created in
the Philippines two centuries before. The
Barong Tagalog is considered an elegant
shirt with patriotic significance to the
Filipinos. It became popular around the
same time as the guayabera: 1898 -- the
year both countries became independent from
''It's not the same shirt, but the same
concept,'' said Rene La Villa, owner of
Guayabera Inc. in Miami. The difference
lies in the cuffs and the number of pockets,
he said. While the guayabera boasts four
pockets, the Barong Tagalog often has none.
Others claim it was the Yukatans -- descendants
of the Mayans -- who invented it. Even today
there are a plethora of factories in Merida,
Mexico that make their own guayaberas, known
as Mexican wedding shirts.
Francisco Angel, a musician with the Miami-based
Mariachi Mexico band, said he buys into
the theory that the shirt's origins trace
back to Mexico. ''Mexico was one of the
most influential countries'' of the Spanish
empire, he reasoned.
A biting spin on this tale, however, is
that it was wealthy Cubans traveling to
the Yucatán peninsula wearing their
guayaberas who brought the trend to Mexico.
Or even worse: the Mexicans stole the design
from the famous Cuban store El Encanto.
On Calle Ocho there are just as many interpretations
of the origins of the guayabera as there
are guayabera wearers.
''The Spaniards who dominated [Cuba] knew
how to dress very well so they probably
used the guayabera,'' said Wilfredo Cejas,
84, sporting a light brown and white checkered
Jessica Alonso, a clerk at Viva la Guayabera,
''It's definitely of Cuban origin. That
goes without saying,'' said Alonso, a Cuban
American. "It's like salsa. It's been
appropriated by other cultures, but the
origin is Cuban.''
The penchant to pin down an exact origin
is losing steam as a younger crowd stylizes
the guayabera. Now it has simply become
known as ''classic Latino wear.'' Given
the range of looks, that just might be the