Jose Fuentes is on his way to Tallahassee to become the media relations director for the incoming speaker of the House, Marco Rubio. Fuentes, like Rubio, is a Cuban-American from Miami. He brings almost a decade of Washington experience to the job, having worked three years in the White House planning events for Vice President Dick Cheney, and later working as a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development. After a brief stint in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s administration, where he led the intergovernmental team, Fuentes decided to take the gig with Rubio, who he sees as a rising star in Florida politics. Fuentes, 31, is a graduate of Christopher Columbus High School.
Andres Gomez, who writes from Miami for Cuba's communist government publications, writes that the “extreme right” in the Cuban exile community promotes measures to tighten the embargo that are anti-family. Gomez, who was bestowed with official accolades by the Cuban government in Havana this year, writes freely in favor of the Cuban government from his home in Miami and has been doing so for decades. Yet the Cuban exile community in Miami is often criticized for intolerance. What do you think?
"The extreme right of the Cuban exile community has convinced the Bush administration to persist in imposing grave restrictions on travel to Cuba, violating rights that are considered constitutional. The cruelest of the these affect Cuban migrants living in the United States, who, since 2004, have only been allowed to visit their family on the island once every three years. Also, against natural rights, the government has arbitrarily decided who is considered family and who isn’t, and who can be visited. According to the restrictions, only immediate family can be visited. For the extreme right in the Cuban American community and the Bush administration the rest of our loved ones in Cuba, the people who raised us or we were raised with, are not considered family, and as such, we have no right to visit them…"
"…In reality, it’s irrationality and sadism from the extreme right in the Cuban American community and their allies in the federal government focusing on regulations to prohibit Cuba travel - a result of the impossibility of destroying the liberties and the independence of the Cuban people - that make these measures exist."
Several European Ambassadors gathered in Washington Wednesday with U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart to push for democracy in Cuba. Among those present were ambassadors for Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia. The dignitaries spent more than an hour on the phone with Cuban dissidents Martha Beatriz Roque and Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina. The ambassadors talked of the positive impact democracy has had on their countries, says a news release from the office of Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
The group came up with a six-point agenda:
1. Demand freedom for all Cuban political prisoners.
2. Condemn the government-sponsored acts of repudiation aimed at dissidents.
3. Increase contacts between the ambassadors in Washington and Havana to advance these ends.
4. Provide internet access to Cubans at those embassies in Havana.
5. Establish more contacts between university students here and in Cuba.
6. Increase contacts between non-governmental organizations in Cuba and the U.S.
I won't be posting again until next week. Please behave.
You get the feeling that a beast of beat was placed by the hand of Chango or Yemaya or Jesucristo on this earth in this club and before the worshipping eyes of humans sipping Pinot Grigio and mojitos to make them understand that music and art and age and the beat of city rhythms transcend the clouds of politics and problems and distinguishes the artist from the disarray in the lives of mere humans. Cachao sitting onstage 87 years young and bumping his hand and rod on the acoustic bass cannot be of this world.
That Kool Aid everyone else drank was rejected by his convictions for music, bass, audience, crew, loose change, delight. He stoops over on his stool, conversing with his bass, coy and glancing over at Federico Brito as his violin cries to life. The two duel onstage and carry on their joke and rivalry on for the audience that whistles and wows and gawks as the tiny laser of eely silver slices from the stage and Cachao looks over. That violin punctures the delicate night, and eyes water. noooooo! It’s too sad, too quiet, too down for Miami, for this place. Cachao won’t have it. His fingers gong and pound power into the throat of bass, a bombing throttle, and the joy leaks from their serious showdown and Federico and Cachao smile at each other and everything is settled in the Arturo Sandoval Club. Cachao, 87, 8 –7 three years shy of four score and seven, sits in old age on stage and there is nothing on earth, not the atom or gun or document that can ever obliterate the notes he spills into the atmosphere.
Cachao, blessed by a holy pulse, you bang your digits on metal strings and people wail, Cachao, in your old age you’ve got the world’s attention and you flash a smile for the goons out here wondering in awe what water you drink from, what place you seek sanctuary, what women you keep with, old Cachao, man you are no saint of art, no monk of modern ways. No sir, mischief winks in your cosmos. You drift hypnotized as bass consumes your mood, and the audience gasps. Your heads slumps softly over your wooden first love, the glow of stage lights snows over your shoulders. It’s almost like your band mates think maybe this is it, maybe your mind has drifted too far this time, maybe your age is taking you too far from their rhythmic lassos and you are too distant beyond their range, too far gone to bring you back. But suddenly as though with an afterthought, your thumb bumps a string and your fingers tumble into place and suddenly you pluck the perfect note, you find it loitering on your instrument, the ideal tune that Mozart or Beethoven would have written on paper, suddenly Cachao, you smile all teeth and your guayabera frames your forearm as you get the crowd high on bass notes, the drug you deal in beats.
Cachao is back on earth, and he’s in charge on stage, taking control of the band, which everyone thinks is falling apart but is actually wandering in melodic indifference until the master gets back to the planet and si, Mami! Si Papi! He’s back and the music thunders to life with cymbals spilling incredible rhythmic gossip into Miami people lucky enough to get soaked in it, lucky enough to towel-dry brows before Cachao.
He cradles the bass and fondles and slaps it, his belly so stiff and settled that it makes him look like his instrument. He scowls and frowns and grimaces at his bass, this sculptured, polished beauty that drives him insane, gives him a reason to look forward to another night, that he scolds and slaps around when its rebelling, yes a man with his fist clenched only for love and trying to study it all in her flowing strings. When it's all over bandmates come to him and lock arms to help him offstage, his footing shaky in his twilight, and he arrives back in Miami, banished back to mankind before the next show blasts him back to rapture.
A key witness in a major weapons case against one of Fidel Castro's sworn enemies was stopped by the Coast Guard 40 miles from Key West in 1999 as he attempted to return to Cuba. With him were a crock pot, a VCR and photographs of a Cuban exile paramilitary training camp in Miami-Dade County.
Was Gilberto Abascal spying for Cuba?
At the time, U.S. officials determined that Abascal and a married couple with him who brought along their 3-year-old, U.S.-born daughter on the ''small pleasure craft'' were simply homesick, disillusioned expatriates, according to federal court records filed Friday. The FBI decided there was no nefarious reason for the group to have photos of Alpha 66's Miami-Dade operations.
Juventud Rebelde, a Cuban government-controlled daily on the island, came out with a two-part series recently on Cuba's plumetting fertility rates. I translated parts of it from Spanish and published excerpts below.
The stories represent a rare instance when the government-controlled media in Cuba has urged the government to implement policy changes of any sort. It spells out what seems like a demographic nightmare spreading on the island with dire consequences in the future if it is not immediately addressed.
“If in 10 years, we have not reached a coherent policy on reproduction, we’ll be seeing each other more often at funerals than at children’s birthday parties,” the JR article said.
In 1970, 237,079 babies were born in Cuba. In 2004, the number plummeted to 127,077. And there doesn’t appear to be a turnaround in sight.
“This means that by 2015, retirement-age Cubans will outnumber those who are active in the labor force, inverting the so-called dependency factor and the economy will be less healthy,” JR reported.
For Maria del Carmen Franco, specialist at the National Office of Statistics, which coordinates regional studies of reproductive health, Cuba has little time left – less than 10 years – to take measures, and “the only way is to increase the amount of births,” according to JR.
According to statistics, the population of young people in the country plunged by 800,000 people in the last 10 years.
But that worry has yet to be felt by the traditional families, experts say, because couples plan their children in terms of the possibilities of raising them, having a home, and their personal goals and not according to demographic criteria.
Cuba’s current measures to stimulate fertility are not enough, experts say. In other countries the problem is addressed by offering financial aid to couples, but in Cuba, the problem is “more complicated,” according to Franco.
“For us, the guarantee is not more money, but an entire infrastructure that supports the quality of life that we want for our children, and that includes more pediatricians, teachers, classrooms, nurseries, recreational spaces, better prices for food and baby products,” she said.
Those “are measures that the state should identify to organize its strategy for population growth,” she said.
In a national youth poll, the aspiration of young people to have children fell from third place to seventh in terms of priorities.
According to studies and polls, the current rejection of maternity and more children has several causes: the economic crisis that started in 1990, the lack of housing, internal and external migration, and widespread expectations among youth that things will improve, among other reasons.
Numerous interviews done by JR confirm that alarming reality: neither young men nor young women are interested in having children.
Paul Crespo, conservative commentator on WQBA, is spearheading the fundraising.