August 29, 2008
Punk Rocker Faces Prison in Cuba
I haven't blogged for a while because I've been focusing on other issues. But this one can't be ignored. Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila -- imagine The Clash transplanted in Havana circa 2008 -- is going on trial Friday in Havana for "pre-crime dangerousness." Echoing what Frances Robles wrote in this article, it's a critical test on tolerance for Raul Castro's rule. Will Cuba's new president continue the island's decades-long practice of imprisoning artists that challenge the government, or is a new era of civil liberties dawning on the island?
Convicting Aguila might sweep an unwanted nuisance under the rug for the Cuban government, but it might also unleash an underground cause for his freedom and identify a martyr for Cuba's youth. With the power of the internet, Aguila is no longer an obscure garage-band rebel. He is becoming an international icon that may resonate with people as far away as Eastern Europe, whose own underground rock movement helped usher in glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s.
Aguila, who is non-political, would essentially be convicted for singing "No comas tanta p-----a, Comandante," which translates into, well...use your imagination or ask a Spanish speaking buddy. Here's Porno Para Ricardo's YouTube video. WARNING: Not for the overly sensitive or faint of heart:
January 14, 2008
Presidential Campaign Comes to Florida
Republican presidential candidates are expected to descend on Florida at the end of the month, focusing their efforts on the competitive Sunshine State after the South Carolina GOP primary Jan. 20.
August 06, 2007
CNN Reports on TV Marti Tonight at 7
Wolf Blitzer is going to feature TV Marti in his show, The Situation Room, this evening (Monday, Aug. 6).
"Twenty millions dollars a year of your money on a TV station that few people can see. So why does the government keep pouring money into it? Monday, 7 ET."
July 30, 2007
AP: Few People Watch TV Marti
MIAMI -- (AP) -- Ten months ago, the U.S. government launched a new effort to beam TV broadcasts into Cuba via a Gulf Stream jet, an end-run around the communist government's close grip on the island's media.
A U.S. State Department draft report circulated last month called the jet "a best practice'' to beat the Cubans' jamming efforts and said the $10 million (euro7.3 million) startup cost was "a big investment but appears to be paying off," with viewership on the rise. Watching American TV broadcasts is
illegal in Cuba.
But more than two dozen Cuban immigrants who recently arrived in Florida paint a very different picture. In interviews with The Associated Press, they said while the U.S. government's Radio Marti is heard throughout the island, TV Marti can rarely be seen. The TV operation costs U.S. taxpayers more than $20 million (euro14.6 million) a year.
June 13, 2007
Editorial: Miami Housing Director Should Go
For the public official whose portfolio includes fighting poverty, there are many opportunities for innovative approaches to giving people a leg up. But using one's position to help finance an ex-spouse's hiring and salary with federal-tax dollars is not among them. Yet this was the approach taken by Miami Community Development Director Barbara Gomez, according to a Miami Herald investigative report. If Ms. Gomez hasn't resigned already, then she should be suspended and considered for termination.
Miami Housing Director Steers Funds Toward Ex
Still busy with investigative reporting on the city of Miami's housing agency. Here's the latest report:
The director of Miami's housing agency helped steer more than $1 million in city contracts to two companies that employed one of her ex-husbands, starting weeks after his 2004 release from federal prison, where he served time for smuggling liquid cocaine, The Miami Herald has found.
Miami Community Development Director Barbara Gomez's department provided money to a troubled for-profit caterer and a tiny nonprofit social services agency that both employed ex-husband Ruben A. Santana.
June 04, 2007
Investigation into Miami Housing
For the last three months or so, I took a bit of a break from Cuba-related issues to investigate problems in the city of Miami's housing agency. The result of our investigation was published Sunday. If you live here and pay federal taxes, it's a must-read.
The package is accompanied by multimedia of all sorts: photos, video, audio, slideshows.
New Times Bestows Honor -- of Some Sort -- on Me
From this year's New Times, Best of Miami:
Best Commie Agent
That damn Oscar Corral. First he writes a story informing Miami residents that ten South Florida journalists are on the payrolls of U.S. propaganda vehicles Radio and TV Martí. Then he has the nerve to tell us that none of the $55.5 million in taxpayer money intended to fund Cuban dissidents has reached the island in cash. Instead the bulk was spent in Miami and Washington, or on exorbitant bills to ship goods to the island. And then he reports that most of that local spending was done without oversight or competitive bidding, and that the goods purchased for anti-Castro activists to foster democracy included Nintendo Game Boys, a chainsaw, Sony Playstations, cashmere sweaters, a mountain bike, Godiva chocolates, and crabmeat. He may have been leaking fecal matter and stuffed with tubes, but there was only one man behind this, and he wears an Adidas track jacket and has a beard. Thank God for the freelance columnist at El Nuevo Herald, Nicolas Perez Diaz-Arguelles, who finally put two and two together and took the leap of faith to insinuate what was on all of our minds: Oscar Corral is a Cuban spy. The writer's editor may have cried "blood libel," but when it comes down to it, newspapers are irrelevant to a democracy. Eating truffles while playing Grand Theft Auto That's a slap in Castro's face.
May 29, 2007
Cubans Watch Immigration Debate from Sidelines
Their casual jaunt at Flagler boutiques Thursday framed the best and worst that Cubans have to face under U.S. immigration policy. Their unique immigration status, defined by the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act but punctuated by family separation and yet an easy path to citizenship, can give Cuban Americans a different perspective on the issue.
Cuba: No More Bad Guys (or Gals) Allowed
In a rare gesture of cooperation, Cuba now says that it won't accept any more fugitives from U.S. Justice. Is it evidence of a thaw with Fidel Castro ailing, or just a random act of diplomacy with no greater theme behind it?
The US accuses Cuba of harboring fugitives like accused cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (photo at left), and Cuba accuses the US of harboring accused terrorists like Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles.
May 24, 2007
So Three Surgeries Sidelined Him
Castro finally acknowledges his bad health, saying for the first time that he doesn't want to waste time on "primping" for cameras and interviews. As usual, he raises more questions about his condition and his leadership status than he answers.
May 23, 2007
Garcia vs. Calzon, Tonight at 8 on Mega TV
Joe Garcia and Frank Calzon face off tonight (Wednesday) on Maria Elvira's show, Polos Opuestos on Mega TV Channel 22. Word is things get hot.
May 21, 2007
Oppenheimer: Iraq War Shock Waves Could Warm U.S.-Cuba Relations
DETANTE WITH CUBA?
Andres Oppenheimer believes the meltdown over the Iraq war could spell a friendlier, less antagonistic relationship between Cuba and the United States. Why? Because a United States with a badly damaged international reputation may rethink its policy of regime change in Cuba in order to maintain stability there.
Any change in course would come after the next presidential election, of course.
Joe Garcia: In His Own Words
The well-known website, cubaencuentro.com interviews Joe Garcia in Spanish: "Garcia represents for some the great white hope of a civilized Cuban left, uncompromised and increasingly realist in that the ghosts of the past don't hover over his head. A left without a past to shy away from."
Garcia will also appear on Polos Opuestos with Maria Elvira Salazar sometime this week (Mega TV Channel 22) in a debate with Frank Calzon, head of the Center for a Free Cuba. Stay tuned for an update.
May 17, 2007
Miami Mafia? What Miami Mafia?
Fred Thompson Finds His Inner Exile Soul
Fred Thompson, the former actor and Senator running for president, scolded Michael Moore for taking 9/11 workers to Cuba for treatment as part of his upcoming documentary, Sicko.
Writes Thompson: "While this p.r. stunt has obviously been successful — here I am talking about it — Moore’s a piker compared to Fidel Castro and his regime. Moore just parrots the story they created — one of the most successful public-relations coups in history. This is the story of free, high quality Cuban health care."
The punchline is Moore's response: "In light of your comments regarding Cuba and Castro, do you think the “box upon box of cigars – Montecristos from Havana” that you have in your office have contributed to Castro's reported wealth?
Gentlemen, welcome to the minefield of exile politics.
Celia Documentary in the Works
The same filmmakers who brought us the premier of White Elephant last week, the documentary about the entangled existence of Miami Stadium (aka Bobby Maduro Stadium), are working on a Celia Cruz documentary called Celia the Queen, expected in theaters sometime early next year. Kids in Exile Films featured a trailer before the premier of White Elephant Saturday night.
May 16, 2007
U.S.-Cuba Policy May Not Change Under Dems
Cuba's Population Drop
Cuba's population dropped last year for the first time since the Mariel boatlift, a demographic trend attributed to low birth rates and an aging population.
Chaos After Fidel?
Havana Journal states 14 reasons why there might be chaos after Fidel:
1. Fidel’s people will fight for what they have worked for.
2. Many Cuban people respect Fidel and won’t want Raul or anyone else in as President.
3. If Raul opens up the economy too quickly it may spin out of control.
4. Raul may have to lock down the country for a prolonged period time.
4a. Raul leaves Cuba “Batista style” on short notice and the “rebels” aka dissidents could take over.
5. Fidel’s funeral will draw MILLIONS of people to Havana...