La Tienda de Cubanet


January 30

Ongoing repressive campaign in eastern Cuba

A repressive campaign unleashed by police in the mining community of Moa, in eastern Cuba, seems directed against the self-employed in the area.

Soap and detergent in short supply in dollar markets in eastern Cuba

A perceived shortage of soap and detergent in the dollar markets in the mining community of Moa, in eastern Cuba's Holguín province, caused a run on what supplies there were, as consumers bought out the stocks.

The Miami Herald
• Castro accuses Bush of plotting with Cuban American exiles to kill him
• Activist: Cuba refuses to let him travel to human rights ceremony
• Priest remembered for his humanitarian work
• Klayman says Castro has biochemical weapons in Cuba

Yahoo! News
• Castro accuses Bush of plotting to assassinate him
• Candidates on the Issues: Cuba
• Their Man in Havana

Cuban urges unity against Castro
he head of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, Ricardo Bofill, on Thursday called on the international community to show solidarity with those suffering "severe repression" at the hands of Fidel Castro's regime
South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

ALA Updates Online Information on Intellectual Freedom in Cuba
In an effort to provide access to the range of ALA and IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) documents related to this issue, the ALA's International Relations Office has created a Web page with links to reports, statements and press releases.
Managing Information .

Redford's love affair with Castro
Some time ago, Hollywood luminary Robert Redford was asked about the Cuban regime and he said something to the effect that he didn't care about Castro's politics. To the victims, that's like saying that you don't care about the crimes of Hitler or Stalin.
Agustin Blazquez / Jaums Sutton,

Redford: Tyranny's useful idiot
I have a few choice words for Redford and other Hollywood elites, such as Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone and Harry Belafonte, who have taken similar trips to pay homage to Castro.
Joseph Farah, .

In Cuba, players look for a way out
Two days later -- under the cover of darkness and some 36 hours before the island nation of Cuba would mark the 45th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution -- Morales and Canizares were apprehended by national security police for attempting to flee the country in a boat targeted for the Bahamas.
Joe Connor,

External links

Castro 'prepared for US invasion'
"With a gun in my hand, I don't care how I die, but I'm confident that if they invade us, I will go down fighting," Mr Castro said to tumultuous applause from the audience, which included Andean Indians, landless Brazilians, and Canadian postal workers.

U.S. clamping down on Americans' visits to Havana
The Bush administration is making it very hard for American tourists to lie on the white sand beaches of Cuba's Varadero or enjoy a daiquiri at Old Havana's El Floridita without facing a stiff fine when they get home.
The Washington Times.

Tampa company selected as Cuba's import agent
Alimport, Cuba's official agency responsible for imports into Cuba from the United States, has selected Tampa-based A.R. Savage & Son, Inc. as its shipping agents for all legal export transactions from Tampa Bay into Cuban ports.
Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Cuba might be opening its doors
With Cuba having recently marked the 45th anniversary of its revolution, contributor Joe Connor visited this Caribbean baseball hotbed for more than three weeks. He visited their academies, sports institutes and ballparks across the country's 14 provinces. Today, the fifth and final part of a weeklong series, taking baseball fans inside "The Forbidden Isle.

Cuba photography on display in Napa Valley College library
A display on Cuba is currently featured at the Napa Valley College library. It includes information and visuals on Cuban history, politics, leaders, art, dance, crafts, photography and culture brought back by students who recently returned from Cuba.
NapaNet Daily News, CA.

CUBA: 'Drugs Have No Borders,' Warns Former Addict
He was in hell, and still feels the impacts of a journey from which many others never return. "Sometimes I talk too much, or I walk too fast, and I don't realise what I'm doing," says Yosmany, 36, a former drug addict.
IPS News.

Off to Cuba
The USC baseball team competes in Cuba for three exhibition games, giving players a cultural experience and many memories.
Daily Trojan Online, CA.

A Cuban vacation? Not from U.S.
The Bush administration has eliminated cultural exchange licenses that allowed just about any American to travel to Cuba, which has been subject to a U.S. trade embargo for more than four decades since Fidel Castro seized power.

January 29

Spoiled yogurt sold to sick Cuban children

In several distribution centers in central Havana spoiled yogurt has been sold for children who cannot tolerate fresh milk, causing them severe stomach distress.

Violations in retail establishments plentiful, inspections reveal in Cuba

Among the violations found: overpricing, prices not posted as required, underweight products, products not up to standards in weight or quality, and price gouging involving merchandise in short supply.

Prostitutes arrested in Havana and Pinar del Rio

According to residents of the area, the women came from the interior and did not even have the necessary residents' permits to allow them to live in the capital.

Varela Project activist and his mother harrassed

The mother of Varela Project activist José Enrique González Robira-Pelegrín says two men posing as supporters tried to distort the aims of the project in a visit to the home she shares with her son.

Oscar Elías Biscet accused of insulting Fidel Castro

The wife of dissident Oscar Elías Biscet González says her husband, currently serving a 25-year prison sentence, has been accused of insulting Fidel Castro.

Cuban independent journalist and her 16-year-old daughter attacked

Independent journalist María López says she and her 16-year-old daughter, Idaima Paz, were attacked Friday night when they left a movie house in Old Havana.
New report dismisses 'feeble pretexts' for political detentions
Harassment, intimidation and bans on freedom of expression against dissidents must end in Cuba, said Amnesty International in a new report today, detailing the cases of four new prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International.

The Miami Herald
• 4 more Cubans are 'prisoners of conscience'
• Values of Cuban exiles, islanders seen to differ
• Beloved Cuban exile priest dies at age 62
• Candidates eye Cuban vote
• Eight Cuban migrants land at Key West

Yahoo! News
• Cuba postpones tightened controls on Internet use
• Cuba Sees Drop in Number of U.S. Visitors
• Robert Redford shows Che film in Cuba
• Cuba's Entrepreneurs Come Creeping Back

Cuba: The cruel anachronism
Cuba's regime is a twenty-first century anachronism, but its detractors and supporters continue to make the reactionary revolution a constant controversy.
ProCubaLibre .

Taking a page out of Cuba's book hardly wise
Lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez explained it very clearly at the recent Monterrey summit: He and his nation are profoundly grateful to Fidel Castro's government for the help it provides in the field of education.
Carlos Alberto Montaner, The Miami Herald.

External links

Cuba's baseball legends live on
With Cuba having recently marked the 45th anniversary of its revolution, contributor Joe Connor visited this Caribbean baseball hotbed for more than three weeks. He visited their academies, sports institutes and ballparks across the country's 14 provinces. .

A rough start for college trip to Cuba
A Napa Valley College photography class was bound to get some negatives from its trip to Cuba this month, but the students didn't know that the start of the journey would be one of them.
Napa Valley Register, CA .

January 26

Police arrests teenagers who attacked gays in Havana

Fourteen youths between the ages of 13 and 18 were arrested by police for attacking gays in the Habana del Este district, according to residents in the area

Trial of three Cuban dissidents suspended

The trial of dissidents Raúl Arencibia Fajardo, Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Virgilio Morante Guelmes was suspended this year as it was about to begin.

Cuban language teacher fired after applying for U.S. visa lottery

José Luis Rodríguez, who holds a degree in foreign languages, says he's now working as a carpenter, all because he submitted his name for the lottery for emigration to the United States in 1997.

Cuban dissident union member grilled for three hours by political police

Félix Rivero Cordovi, delegate to the dissident National Independent Workers Confederation of Cuba in Bayamo, Granma province, says he was questioned for three hours by political police January 11 and warned not to continue his union activities.
Yahoo! News
• National Council of Churches to send delegation to Cuba
• Orthodox patriarch dines with Castro
• Castro Consecrating Gov't-Built Church
• Orthodox Christian Leader Visits Cuba

Information Bridge Cuba Miami
• Action Campaign requested on behalf of prisoner of conscience
• Mother of political prisoner in fast, also shaves her head

Seeing no evil in Cuba
The remarks of Raúl Taleb, Argentina's ambassador in Havana, are an insult to Cubans who suffer human-rights abuse first hand. ''Human rights are not violated in Cuba, at least not more or less than in other countries,'' the ambassador said last week to La Nación, a Buenos Aires daily.
Susana Barciela, The Miami Herald.

Free Cuba's unjustly convicted activists
Below are comments made this week by U.S. State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli about Cuban dissidents.
The Miami Herald.

Boy's view of life in Cuba reads like Huck Finn in Havana
Carlos Eire's award-winning memoir beautifully captures the story of children caught up in political cataclysm.
Elizabeth Hanly, The Miami Herald.

Cuban-born artist Abelardo Merell uses old-fashioned camera obscura to show the world in ways that often leave you speechless
Every year, when Morell turns off the light in a classroom where windows are draped in black, so that only a slim beam of light shines through a small hole, his students become uncharacteristically still. A few jaws are sure to drop.
Elisa Turner, The Miami Herald.

External links

Prisoners in Cuba tell of misery
Imprisoned last spring for opposing Cuba's one-party state, Oscar Biscet has spent the first nine months of his 25-year sentence in solitary confinement or with hardened criminals, enduring insufficient food and unsanitary conditions, according to his wife and letters smuggled out of prison. Many of the 74 other dissidents imprisoned with Biscet for challenging President Fidel Castro's government face similar hardships, according to their wives, human-rights workers and other sources .
Chicago Tribune .

Politics complicate Orthodox patriarch's visit
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I's schedule was thrown into disarray on Friday amid disorganization and rival political forces tugging at the visit here by the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Politics tinges Orthodox clergy's visit to Cuba
Patriarch Bartholomew and his flowing beard are in Havana today to celebrate the opening of a new church, the first built in communist Cuba in 45 years. And even though he's the spiritual leader of tens of millions of Orthodox Christians, he's a mystery in Cuba.
The Dallas Morning News.

2 go-fast boats, 8 suspects, drugs seized after wild chase off Cuba
Federal authorities on Friday said they seized two go-fast boats and arrested eight smuggling suspects caught transporting 5,600 pounds of marijuana and 100 pounds of hashish between Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas and Cuba.
Sun Sentinel, FL.

Havana and Miami, united by distrust
The Castro government fine-tuned the tradition with Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), local watchdog groups that specialize in neighbors informing on neighbors. Typically, the offenses involve petty infractions, such as black market trading, and the accusations are often motivated by envy
The Washington Post.

Seeking her past in Decaying Cuba
The least interesting thing about Ana Menendez's first novel, following the estimable success of her short-story collection, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, is the titular romance.
Sun Sentinel, FL.

Exhibit will highlight how freedom is oppressed in Cuba
Most people don't understand the nature of that regime, but those that live there will tell you it is hell," said Carro, now president of the Coalition of Cuban-American Women in Miami. "There's one TV (station), one newspaper - they control the media. You have to go to your job and do what they want. After living in a free world, it's insanity.".
Marietta Times, OH.

Cuba : More Than Cigars, Fidel And Great Cars
Chatham resident Julia Marsh, a junior at Colorado College, spent the past four months studying at the University of Havana. A former Chronicle intern, she filed this report based on her experiences.
Guardian, UK .
Believe it or not, college baseball has begun, and the road to Omaha goes through . . . Cuba?
USC is in the midst of a historic, five-day trip to Cuba in which the Trojans will be the first college team to play a series against a team from the Cuban Baseball Federation.
San Diego Union Tribune, CA .

January 21

Cuban government redoubles efforts to jam Radio Martí

At the same time the Cuban government protested the U. S. government's decision not to continue migratory talks, it was redoubling its efforts to jam U. S. broadcasts through Radio Martí short-wave frequencies into the island nation.

Price of fruit juices up; quality down

The price of fruit juices sold in the Isle of Youth has gone up by government order, and consumers, who say the quality of the product is worse than ever, are unhappy.

Yahoo! News
• Contreras Says Family Can't Leave Cuba
• Scouts to look at Cuban

The Miami Herald
• Castro assassination plot trial postponed
• Chávez's brother gets post in Cuba
• Cuba enters wireless world
• Phones in Cuba

Reporters Without Borders demonstrates in Paris against imprisonment of journalists in Cuba
Demonstrators made their protest at the Great Arch of La Défense on 20 January as the Cuban minister and the Cuban ambassador to Paris visited the rooftop opening of a major exhibition of contemporary Cuban art.
Reporters Without Borders.

Anti-democratic actions have boomerang effect
While some believe that 2003 was a negative year for Cuba, for the internal opposition and the country's democratic fate, the opposite is more accurate.
Jorge Luis Ramon Castillo, The Miami Herald.
Locked up indefinitely on a technicality
Immigrants who can't be deported should be released
The Miami Herald.

External links

Cuba Calls U.S. Charges Against Envoy A 'Gross Lie'
The Cuban foreign minister has strongly denied allegations by U.S. officials that a Cuban envoy in Washington associated with criminal elements and was involved in narcotics trafficking. The foreign ministry in Havana called the allegations against Roberto Socorro Garcia, who was expelled by the United States, a "gross lie" and a "manipulation of reality."
The Washington Post.

US-Cuba relations strained as Castro era winds down
His argument is that any US move toward normalization of relations with Cuba must be preceded by movement toward democracy and recognition of human rights by the Castro regime. No signs of such moderation are evident in Havana. To the contrary, there is a tightening of censorship.
The Christian Science Monitor.

Travellers to Cuba get fleeced of $20,000
Christmas trip did not go ahead Refund cheques to group bounced.
Toronto Star, Canada.

Cuban dissidents report bleak life in prison
Imprisoned last spring for opposing Cuba's one-party state, Oscar Biscet has spent the first nine months of his 25-year sentence in solitary confinement or with hardened criminals, enduring insufficient food and unsanitary conditions, according to his wife and letters smuggled out of prison.
Kansas City Star (sub), MO.

Evidence that in Castro's Cuba, at least the music is irrepressible
Underneath the ebullient surface of Gary Keys's uplifting documentary "Cuba: Island of Music" is a plea for an end to the United States embargo on trade with Cuba. Or as Mr. Keys wonders: why is what's good for China not good for Cuba?
The New York Times.

January 19

Imprisioned journalist Vázquez Portal hospitalized

The ailing independent journalist and poet, serving an 18-year jail sentence for crimes against state security, has been transferred to the Ambrosio Grillo Hospital.

Fine levied in Cuba against owner of home-made satellite dish

Police seized a home-made satellite television dish this week and fined the owner 1,000 pesos, more than the equivalent of four months' salary.

House burns to the ground as no one answers fire station phone in Havana

A wooden house burned to the ground this week in the Cerro district of Havana when no one answered the telephone at the fire station.

Cuban police agent fatally shoots car occupant

The occupant of a car whose passengers were involved in a discussion with two police agents in another car was shot and killed this week after being removed from the vehicle.
Cuban rafters feel harassed by authorities

Five returned rafters were arrested Friday and held for several hours, accused of stealing a motorcycle that later turned up without incident.
Limitations on Internet access for Cubans to become more stringent

Cubans not authorized by the government to use the Internet who log on through their phones now run the risk of losing their phone service, under new measures taken by the government.

Phones buzz with rumors of Castro's demise
Uncorroborated rumors that Cuban President Fidel Castro had died or suffered a stroke buzzed around Miami-Dade County on Friday, with anxious callers inundating police departments, media outlets and exile groups.
The Miami Herald.

The Miami Herald
• New travel rules make life easier for Cuban Americans
• Planning on Cuba urgently needed, U.S. told
• Officials warn of need to plan for social chaos in a post-Castro Cuba
• Real Ché Guevara is still an enigma
• Patriarch to dedicate cathedral in Cuba
• Jailed Cubans will be heard

Life after prison means facing fear daily
It's a habit Bernardo Arévalo Padrón picked up in his last year behind bars. To mark time, he crossed off each remaining day in his six-year sentence on a calendar that hung in the cell he shared with 28 other prisoners
Sun-Sentinel, Florida.

Librarians' deep concern over Cuba's move to restrict Internet access
"While the World Summit of the Information Society was debating how best to improve access to information using information technology, the Cuban government was preparing a law that will further restrict Internet access for its citizens", says the Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee Mr Paul Sturges.

January 15

Imprisoned Cuban journalist placed in solitary confinement for threatening a hunger strike

The sister of independent journalist Fabio Prieto Llorente says her brother remains in solitary confinement as a result of threatening a hunger strike to protest being kept with dangerous common criminals.

Families of Cuban prisoners told to bring cleaning supplies

An official addressed family members in the visiting room on January 8, according to María de los Angeles Borrego, wife of political prisoner Jesús Adolfo Reyes Sánchez .

Thieves dressed as policemen carry out robberies in Cuba

A group of thieves dressed as policemen has been carrying out home robberies in the municipality of Antilla in Holguín province.

Cuban pacifist dissident threatened with job loss

Isidoro Batista Pupo, activist in the Christian Liberation Movement, was recently threatened with the loss of his government job on the grounds he was a counter-revolutionary and wasn't paying union dues.
State security's penetration of Cuban society all-pervasive, says ex-agent

Groups practicing religions of African origin are given priority, said the ex-agent, adding that these groups are infiltrated to a greater extent than even dissident groups, because typically dissidents operate openly, whereas African religious groups tend to operate as secret societies.
Violence among youths on the rise in Cuban province

At a recent meeting of the Provincial Assembly of the Popular Power in Camagüey province, officials aired a growing concern over the increase in violence and criminality among the young, as well as related developments involving youths who are neither working nor in school and who engage in prostitution.

Cuba owes $891 million to Venezuela
Data show that the island nation made no payment in 2003. Five oil shipments had not been registered on Pdvsa's books by December.
El Universal, Caracas.

Call to conscience: Library group is shamefully silent on Cuba
The American Library Association, officially pledged to promote freedom of information and expression, begins its midwinter meeting today in San Diego shamefully silent on just that issue.
Union-Tribune, CA.

Librarians group opposes crackdown in Cuba
The organization has been debating what stance to take on a spring 2003 crackdown by the Cuban government that included the jailing of independent librarians. Librarians, newspaper columnists and others have criticized the American association for failing to speak out on behalf of the jailed librarians.
Union-Tribune, CA.
Venezuelan President Travels to See Castro
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flew to Cuba Wednesday after the Americas Summit in Mexico to meet with friend and political ally Fidel Castro, state television reported Wednesday night. The short report offered no details about the encounter and it was unclear how long Chavez planned to stay on the island. .

The Miami Herald
• Forgotten photos recall Havana friendship

Yahoo! News
• Bogota Mayor: Castro's Health Declining

External links

14 migrants found on rafts near Dry Tortugas sent back to Cuba
The Coast Guard on Thursday transported 14 Cuban migrants back to their homeland while another was sent to Guantanamo Bay for further questioning by federal immigration officials.
Sun-Sentinel, FL.

Students buzzing about BVU course in Cuba
Whether internships, travel or special on-campus classes, the January Interim period at Buena Vista University offers students time for special opportunities during the period between the first and second semesters.
Sioux City Journal, IA .

January 14

Theft affects electric service in Santiago de Cuba

The continued theft of supplies has had serious repercussions in the level of service rendered by the electric and telephone companies in Santiago de Cuba province.

Poor mail service irks Isle of Youth residents in Cuba

Residents of La Demajagua, a small town in the Isle of Youth, complain that mail service has reached new lows in quality of service and dependability.

Cubans will not need visas to travel to the island, says official

A high Cuban immigration department official announced that shortly Cubans residing abroad will in most cases, not need visas to travel to the island.

Prison guards brutally beat jailed Cuban journalist
Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned an assault against a journalist who was brutally beaten by prison guards in the provincial Guantánamo prison, eastern Cuba, and urged the authorities to punish his assailants and to protect prisoners from further harm.
Reporters Without Borders.

Yahoo! News
• Cuba tightens controls on Internet use

Cuba: Further bans on freedom of expression
Amnesty International today expressed concern at the impact on freedom of expression and information of Cuba's new law restricting internet access.
Amnesty International .

Country Gets Cuba Dons
Cuba has offered five professors to teach technical programmes at the 2-year old Kyambogo University over the next two years, reports Geresom Musamali

External links

Kansas signs deal with largest food importer in Cuba
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a nonbinding deal with Cuba's largest food importer, which has agreed to spend $10 million on Kansas agricultural products. In return, the state will try to promote business opportunities in the Cuban market and encourage normalization of trade relations between the two nations.
Dodge City Daily Globe.

Castro in Venezuela: what’s the score this time?
Revolutions don’t bend to organized fascist, elitist and coup-mongering opposition groups, revolutions don’t recourse to electoral challenges, and revolutions don’t participate in the democratic game. How can then be interpreted the recent visit -surrounded by utmost secrecy- of Cuban dictator to his Venezuelan protégé?
V Crisis, Venezuela.

Make it strictly business with Cuba
Had our state officials held their noses while trying to persuade the regime of Fidel Castro to buy agricultural goods from South Carolina, they wouldn't have clinched the $10 million deal announced in Havana on Thursday. But they shouldn't forget that they are dealing with a ruthless dictatorship.
Charleston Post Courier (subscription), SC.

Castro’s Venezuelan Piracy
The flights from Havana go to ramp number 4 at Maiquetia Airport 25 miles from downtown Caracas, a ramp re-designated for military use by Venezuela’s Marxist President Hugo Chavez and exempt from the usual customs controls or inspections..

Remarks by President Bush at Inauguration Ceremony of the Special Summit of the Americas
And through our democratic example, we must continue to stand with the brave people of Cuba, who for nearly half a century have endured the tyrannies and repression. Dictatorship has no place in the Americas. We must all work for a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. Together we will succeed, because the spirit of liberty still thrives, even in the darkest corners of Castro's prisons.
The White House.

Cuban ports off-limits for Cape students
Between 1999 and 2002, college students on Sea Education Association cruises stopped eight times at Cuban ports, as allowed by licenses obtained from the U.S. Treasury Department every year.
Cape Cod Times, MA.

Survey of Cuban music hits high note
In 1996, American guitarist Ry Cooder went to Havana and gathered several prominent local musicians for a recording session that produced the highly successful album "Buena Vista Social Club."
AZ, United States.

January 12

Government clamps down on the self-employed

By strictly applying every statute and regulation in the books, a number of government agencies found more than 9,643 instances of illegal activity in the latest two months, according to a report by the National Taxation Office.

Open letter to U. S. farmers from independent Cuban farmers' leader

The president of the National Alliance of Independent Cuban Farmers, Antonio Alonso, wrote this letter to U. S. farmers, explaining the situation faced by Cuban farmers, whom the government prevents from freely planting and selling their produce.

Two men exchange gunfire with police in Havana

Early Wednesday morning residents in the neighborhood of 23 Street between D and E Streets, in the upscale Vedado district of Havana, woke up to the sound of gunfire.

Cuba tightens its control over internet
Cuba's communist government already heavily controls access to the Internet. Cubans must have government permission to use the Web legally and most don't, although many can access international e-mail and a more limited government-controlled intranet at government jobs and schools
Yahoo! News .

The Miami Herald
• Claims of drug ties in envoy's expulsion rejected
• Trip to Cuba turns into movie

Yahoo! News
• US scolds Venezuela's Chavez on Cuba, recall
• Cuba Defends Diplomat Expelled From U.S.
• Jimmy Rankin in Cuba to shoot music videos

Cuban volleyball player stays behind in Puerto Rico
Cuban volleyball player Yosleider Cala didn't board a plane with his teammates to return to Cuba after an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico, an official said.
Puerto Rico Wow.

Cuba's Castro censors cameraphones
A British couple on a Caribbean cruise tried to take their cameraphone ashore when their liner docked at Havana in Cuba. However, once the customs officials spotted that they were carrying a cameraphone, they were strongly advised to take the device back to their cabin and swap it for an ordinary (digital) camera.
The Inquirer.

Florida resident serving prison term in Cuba sends letter
On July 2, 1999, I was intercepted in the East Coast of Havana by members of the Cuban political police, while attempting to pick up my family and bring them with me to the United States. My family never arrived at the rendezvous point and later I learned that the Cuban political police had my family arrested 4 hours before I reached the Cuban shore.
Information Bridge Cuba Miami.

Visitors to Cuba should take care to be discreet
Two Cubans were waiting for us in a 1952 Dodge at the appointed time. The driver opened the trunk, and his partner hopped in. The driver then shut the trunk. This seemed odd. The six of us piled in the car with the driver, and away we went, finally stopping on a dirt road outside a house that looked very unlike a restaurant.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO.
Up close with Castro
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who found Castro to be "disarming and sincere," was accompanied on the visit by Commissioner of Agriculture Charles R. Sharpe, state Rep. Chip Limehouse and executives of Maybank Shipping.
Charleston Post Courier, SC.
Finding Cuban refugees at sea barely rocks the boat
The bellyflop contest had ended and the jackpot snowball bingo game had yet to begin when someone spotted a gray speck, off to starboard, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. "Maybe it's a dolphin,'' said a woman in a rhinestone-studded T-shirt.
San Francisco Chronicle, CA.

External links

Cuba cracks down on internet use
A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans. Only those authorized to use the internet from home like civil servants, party officials and doctors will be able to do so on a regular phone line. The bill says the state telephone company Etecsa will use technical means to detect and impede access. Cuba's licensed internet terminals are meant only for tourists.

Sebelius signs trade pact with Cuba
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has signed a joint communique with Cuba's largest food importer, hoping to increase trade between Kansas companies and the island country. Under the deal, the Empresa Comercializadora de Alimentos, also known as Alimport, will spend $10 million on Kansas agricultural products.
Lawrence Journal World, K.

Duvall and Spielberg clash over Cuba visit
Spielberg issued his response yesterday. A spokesman said in a statement that the trip to Cuba was authorised by the US government as part of a cultural exchange programme. His trip to Cuba in 2002 was cultural, not political," said the statement.
Guardian, UK.

Texas firms jump into Cuba business
As 2003 drew to a close, Texas began to grab some agricultural trade with Cuba just as the Bush administration clamped down on travel there. In the two years since Congress has allowed American farmers to export to the socialist nation, $328 million in U.S. beans, rice, chicken and other goods have sold to Alimport, Havana's food-buying agency.
San Antonio Express, TX.

An aching daughter of the Cuban revolution
The pain and loneliness of exile -- surely a cornerstone of Cuban American fiction -- permeates this poetic, fragmentary first novel by Ana Menéndez, a former journalist born in Los Angeles to Cuban emigres and the author of a well-received book of short stories ("In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd,'' 2001).
San Francisco Chronicle, CA.

Cuban surfboard crisis: Surfing is no easy bag in socialist Cuba. But then few good things are.
Like everybody else in this country of 11 million who have learned to live with food and gas rations, Cuban surfers have learned to make do and do without.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, CA.

January 8

Four baseball players banned for life, probably because they were caught trying to flee

The National Baseball Commission announced on Television Sunday the sanctions against Kendry Morales, a 20-year-old switch hitter who was batting .350, catcher Barbaro Cañizares, right-hand pitcher José Ibar and Juan Miguel Abat, whose position was not given.

Two political prisoners accused of trying to foment a riot

Two residents of South Florida currently serving 30-year prison sentences have been accused of trying to foment a riot in the Aguica prison in Matanzas province.

Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello has serous health problems
Reports from the Carlos J. Finlay military hospital say that dissident Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, serving a 20-year prison sentence, is facing serious health problems.

The Miami Herald
• Migration talks canceled
• Why talks were canceled
• South Carolina trade delegation in Cuba

Yahoo! News
• Cuba and US at loggerheads over immigration talks

External links

U.S. Halts Cuban Immigration Talks; Worsening of Ties Seen
Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said the United States had repeatedly sought in recent years to address issues related to exit visas, monitoring of dissidents and other matters, only to be rebuffed by Cuban officials.
The New York Times.

Actor slates Spielberg Cuba trip
Duvall said he would never work for Spielberg's film studio again Actor Robert Duvall has criticised director Steven Spielberg on US TV for visiting Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Open Up Travel to Cuba
Fred Burks could have lied, like the more than 20,000 Americans who annually engage in unauthorized travel to Cuba. He didn't, and his trouble hasn't stopped.
Los Angeles Times (subscription), CA.

Argentina and US row over Cuba
Diplomatic relations between Argentina and the US deteriorated into mudslinging yesterday after Washington said the country's left-leaning government was too soft on communist-run Cuba.
Guardian, UK.

Mankato lawyer visits Cuba to promote economic exchange
Experts say in the future American business dealings with Cuba will grow substantially. And if the American Bar Association has its way, there'll be plenty of lawyers around to make sure it all goes well.
Mankato Free Press, MN.

Castro has hairy question for producer Brian Grazer
He managed an audience with the dictator himself, Fidel Castro. After a three-hour session with Fidel - with Castro doing the majority of the talking via a translator - Grazer was honored with one burning question from the leader: "How do you get your hair to do that?

January 7

Cuban government trucking concern takes measures to prevent theft

The government trucking company in the central Cuban province of Villa Clara has been training its drivers to spot attempts at pilferage and other illegal diversions of their loads.

Handicapped seat ordered out of Havana buses

The closest anyone can come is a widely-circulated rumor that a high ministry official, some say the minister himself, learned of a conductor who would use the seat whenever there were no handicapped users on board, and ordered the man fired and the seats removed from the fleet.

Authorities in Cuba take measures to increase horse stocks

Local authorities in Batabanó, a coastal town south of Havana, have forbidden the use of mares for pulling carts in order the foster an increase in depleted horse stocks. The mares are henceforth reserved for breeding.

Bus stops don't have up-to-date signs in Cuba

At least 1,564 bus stops in Havana either don't have the appropriate signs or the signs that are there are not up to date, says a report from the office of traffic regulation.

Yahoo! News
• US says Cuba to blame for cancellation of immigration talks
• Cuba Says U.S. Suspends Migration Talks
• Argentina enraged by US comments on Cuba policy

The Miami Herald
Eight Cubans repatriated to Cuba after being rescued by a cruise ship

State Department Briefing about Cuba
We have told Cuba that we're ready to go to talks when they're ready to discuss the serious issues that need to be discussed. Unfortunately, the Cubans have continued to refuse to discuss the issues that we've identified..

In Cuba's Gulag
Cuban dissident Oscar Elías Biscet's offense was to openly advocate for human rights in Cuba. For that he is serving a 25-year prison term in sub-human conditions. The real crime here is how Cuba's dictatorship is torturing Dr. Biscet for his nonviolent opposition to its barbaric regime.
The Miami Herald

Communist Memorial Museum: A Monument to Murder
When you leave Washington, D.C.'s Holocaust Museum, you leave sick, heartbroken and burdened with the atrocities of Nazism. It's time we had a building that evoked similar feelings from communism.
Radley Balko,

External links

Duvall's directing fire at Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is E.T. - extra-testy - at actor Robert Duvall for claiming he has grown too cozy with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Duvall has said the director was "very presumptuous" to visit Cuba in 2002.
Daily News, NY.

Reflecting Cuban life
Not a word is spoken by the main characters in Fernando Perez's stunning new film "Suite Habana." But the movie, which won top prize in the fiction category at the 25th annual Havana film festival in December and played to large crowds, speaks volumes about the gritty and arduous life of this city's 2.2 million residents.
Chicago Tribune.

GlobalNet Announces Exclusive Telephony Contract for Cuba
GlobalNet Corporation (OTCBB:GLBT) announced today that it has been awarded an exclusive contract for worldwide termination of voice and data mobile satellite telecommunications traffic originating in Cuba. The announcement comes on the heels of one made on Monday disclosing that it had received a coveted contract to service Iraq and another announcement just two weeks earlier confirming that GlobalNet had received the rights to service Libya..
Tampa Bay Online.

Just get the message to Garcia
In preparation for a U.S. invasion of Cuba, a young lawyer named Garcia had organized an army of Cuban patriots that would support the U.S. troops. President William McKinley needed to get a hand-carried message to the young leader and receive his assurance that the invasion could begin. The message was crucial message because despite all the prewar planning, success rested not on the plan but on the execution of the plan.
Star Tribune Online, MN.

January 6

Steep fines levied in Cuba on private produce vendors

Inspectors of the National Taxation Office levied steep fines, which some called prohibitive, on more than 30 self-employed produce vendors at the Camagüey agricultural markets.

Havana for sale

In the next to last day of 2003, thousands of Havana denizens poured into the streets as if answering the call of a bell. Most were selling something, in spite of police hostility. Main thoroughfares, such as Galiano, Monte, and Neptuno, seemed to have been taken by storm.

The Miami Herald
• U.S. cites angst over Venezuela-Cuba ties
• Cruise ship rescues Cubans

Yahoo! News
• U.S. Official: Castro 'Playing With Fire'
• U.S. Wary of Cuba's Support for Leftists
• Tampa Bay signs Cuba's Baez

2003, a black year
In Latin America, press freedom violations remained relatively stable in contrast with 2002, with the notorious exception of Cuba where the leading figures of the independent press have been imprisoned.
Reporters Without Borders.

Europe and the world's Left at last alienate Castro
First of all, the obligatory medical update. As far as we know, Fidel Castro is a walking catalog of geriatric ailments, meticulously detailed by castropathologists who are always on stand-by for his ''biological inevitability''.
Carlos Alberto Montaner, The Miami Herald

External links

Time to end dangerous Cuba naivete
But agreeing to trade with Cuba comes with acquiescing to things that most Canadians would never accept for themselves. For example, agencies of the Cuban government provide almost all the workers for joint ventures in the country. The state then keeps roughly 95% of what the joint venture companies pay those workers, and the Cuban government pays employees less than $30 per month and keeps the rest.
National Post, Canada.

No 6: Heady atmosphere of cars and cigars in Cuba
The throb of big-finned American cars hangs in the air and mingles with the smoke from my cigar. It is dusk. The street is loaded with warmth, dust and stickiness. A narrow street of Spanish colonial buildings with peeling paint and intricate balustrades relaxes as night time creeps in.
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand.

January 5

State Department Expels Cuban Diplomat
The expulsion of Roberto Socorro Garcia, a third secretary at the Cuban mission in Washington, was carried out last month without announcement. Officials at the Cuban mission did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Yahoo! News

The Miami Herald
• Cuba unafraid of U.S. beef, official writes
• Is Cuban singer Lucrecia the next Celia?

A socialist system turned to anguish
Below are quotes from Cubans in exile and on the island from the Jan. 1 El Nuevo Herald article, The tally on 45 years of the Cuban Revolution, by El Nuevo Herald staff writer Wilfredo Cancio Isla.
The Miami Herald.

In danger life of incarcerated Cuban physician Dr. Oscar E. Biscet
Cuban prisoner of conscience, Dr. Oscar E. Biscet Gonzalez, who is serving a 25 year prison sentence, continues confined with a common criminal in a cell with no windows or light which he described as a "dungeon", for refusing to stand up to acknowledge the presence of prison guards and officials.
Coalition of Cuban-American Women.

External links

President's Interpreter in Fight on Cuba Ban
Two months ago, Fred Burks sat at the side of George W. Bush, serving as the president's trusted interpreter during a whirlwind visit to the Indonesian island of Bali. Today, he's locked in a testy fight with the Bush administration over a trip he took four years ago to Cuba.
Los Angeles Times (subscription), CA.

Gulfport, Pascagoula ports call Cuba trip a success
Officials from the ports of Gulfport and Pascagoula felt they got what they expected out of their recent trip to Cuba.
Biloxi Sun Herald, MS.

Help for twins' parents remains stalled in Cuba
Beatriz Alvarez gave birth to twins on New Year's Day, and the new mom was hoping her own mother would come to New Brunswick from Cuba to help care for the babies for a few months. But despite letters from Alvarez's doctor and her congressman, as well as a bit of intervention from Greek and Swiss officials, the grandmother must stay home. Alvarez's mother, a physical therapist in Cuba, has been denied a visa to visit the United States.
New Brunswick Home News Tribune, NJ.

A Visit With Castro
What, one wonders, is keeping it all alive? Is it the patriotic love of Cubans, conformist or dissident, for their country, or is it the stuck-in-cement manic hatred of US politicians, whose embargo quite simply gives Castro an insurance policy against needed change, injecting the energy of rightful defiance into the people?
Arthur Miller / The Nation Magazine .

Fidel Castro Ate Here, but Now It's a Piece of Bronx History
Jimmy's Bronx Cafe, which drew everyone from Yankee stars to Bronx politicos to Fidel Castro, closed its doors for good on New Year's Eve after a decade of salsa-inflected evenings..
The New York Times.

January 2

Cuba's Castro Marking 45 Years in Power
While Castro's communist government celebrates its survival and exhorts its people to unity, a potent dissident movement still bubbles beneath the surface - even after the roundup that jailed 75 independent journalists, opposition party leaders and other activists in March.
Yahoo! News

Castro's tale one of survival and struggle in 2003
Castro's tale one of survival and struggle in 2003 Castro loyalists kept the economy growing despite fierce U.S. opposition. But many Cubans say they are tired of their government.
Tracey Eaton, The Dallas Morning News

External links

A New Year's wish for Cuba
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A living example of this is Fidel Castro, who on New Year's Day completed 45 years as absolute dictator of Cuba.
Charleston Post Courier (subscription), SC.

Cuban base has American flavor
The 76-year-old Butler is one of five Cubans still working at Guantanamo Bay more than four decades after Washington severed diplomatic relations with the government of Fidel Castro.
The Morning Call.

Castro reloaded
The counter-revolution may not be kicking in Cuba, but it is alive. In a rather embarrassing moment for the regime lorded... sorry, 'comraded'… over by President-for-Life Fidel Castro, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, Granma, ran a front-page photograph of the president sporting what appears to be an Adolf Hitler moustache.

Cuban leader sees invasion risk as 'real'
Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, dismissing U.S. charges that Cuba is developing weapons of mass destruction as the words of a "liar," says Bush administration policies have made the risk of U.S. invasion "a real, present danger for us.".
The Washington Times.

Cuban Master Mines Local Talent
You can start to take the virtuosity of Cuban musicians for granted sometimes, especially when they're playing material that binds itself in technique. One example is Chucho Valdes, the pianist who is the dean of Latin jazz..
The New York Times.

'Sexual tourism' linked to health risk
If Cuba's beaches are a magnet for men seeking the four Ss, they are especially attractive to aging Quebec women looking for eligible men. Some return in subsequent years - and arrange in advance for gigolo services.
'Montreal Gazette, Canada.

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