LA Times: Castro's Back; What Reforms?

Castrotalking Nine months after falling victim to an illness that many U.S. analysts assumed would prove fatal, Fidel Castro appears to have come back from death's door to resume some leadership responsibilities and rein in Cuba's would-be reformers.

Cuba Hands Over U.S. Fugitive

   MIAMI -- (AP) -- A man who fled to Cuba after he was convicted of mail fraud more than 40 years ago was expelled from the island Wednesday and sent to Miami where U.S. Marshals arrested him. Joseph Adjmi, 70, was sentenced in 1963 to 10 years in prison but disappeared before serving his sentence, according to a statement released by the U.S. State Department.

Rebel Rappers in Cuba

From CNN:

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Working on an old computer with a burned-out monitor, Cuban rapper Aldo Rodriguez painstakingly lays the tracks for his next song.

Sitting shirtless on the edge of his bed, tattoos up and down both arms, the 23-year-old says he's not afraid to speak his mind in the communist country run by Fidel Castro for decades. His lyrics are punchy and edgy, tackling issues that the state would prefer not to be aired.

"I've pointed out the things that seem wrong to me, and the people like it," he says. "They like to hear it because they identify with what they hear in the songs.

"It's not anything bad. It's just the truth, and the people aren't used to hearing it." (Watch a Cuban rapper speak his mind Video)

Alarcon: Castro May Come Back

  Ricardoalarcon HAVANA -- (AP) -- Fidel Castro will be in "perfect shape'' to run for re-election to parliament next spring, the first step toward securing yet another term as Cuba's president, National Assembly head Ricardo Alarcon said Thursday.

   "I would nominate him," said Alarcon, the highest-ranking member of parliament. "I'm sure he will be in perfect shape to continue handling his responsibilities."

   Mobbed by foreign reporters following a parliamentary session to discuss Cuba's upcoming elections, Alarcon said Castro "is doing fine and continuing to focus on recovery and rehabilitation."

   A lengthy process of nominating candidates for municipal elections will begin this summer, leading to several rounds of voting. Then, by March 2008, Cuba should be ready to hold parliamentary elections that are expected to include Castro, Alarcon said.

Cuba Sentences Three Dissidents

Five Cuban dissidents arrested 19 months ago and held without trial ever since finally got their day in court -- and two-year prison sentences.

Emilio Leyva Pérez, Manuel Pérez Soria, Lázaro Alonso Román and René Montes de Oca Martija were sentenced to two years in prison. Independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, a correspondent of the Miami-based Payo Libre and Nueva Prensa Cubana news agencies, was sentenced to 22 months.

Their sentences were announced Monday.

They were arrested July 13, 2005, after attending a protest to commemorate the 1994 deaths of 41 people who drowned when the Cuban Coast Guard rammed the tugboat in which they were trying to flee the island.

Castro Speaks with Chavez

Castrochavez_1 Cuban leader Fidel Castro called into Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's radio talk show, saying he felt "more energetic" and was enjoying his convalescence in his first live comments since falling ill seven months ago.

Cuban Government Expels Chicago Tribune Reporter

By Phil Rosenthal
Tribune media columnist
Published February 22, 2007, 5:49 AM CST

Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Gary Marx, who has been based in Havana since 2002, was told Wednesday by Cuban officials his press credential will not be renewed and he can no longer report from there.

"They said I've been here long enough and they felt my work was negative," Marx said. "They did not cite any examples.''
The decision on Marx comes at a critical time for Cuba, with longtime leader Fidel Castro's age and health setting the stage for possible transition.

Marx was one of only among a handful of permanent correspondents for U.S.-based news organizations in Havana. CNN and the Associated Press also have Cuba bureaus.,1,3223978.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Doing Business in Cuba a "Nightmare"

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Havana · Think of the nightmares possible in doing business overseas: Tight government regulations. Supply shortages. Sky-high utility bills. Unmotivated workers. Dismal customer service.

International companies in communist-run Cuba face all of those -- and more.

The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Cuba among the world's worst business environments -- No. 80 of 82 nations surveyed, with only Iran and Angola rated lower for the past five years.,0,661375.story

Tribune: Cuba's Young Radicals May Be Losing Luster

By Gary Marx
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published February 8, 2007

HAVANA -- Six months after ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power, young hard-liners linked to Castro have all but disappeared from public view as economic czar Carlos Lage -- a moderate reformer -- has seen his profile grow, diplomats and analysts say.

Notably absent from the spotlight since Castro handed authority last July to his younger brother, Raul, are Otto Rivero, Hassan Perez and other young radicals collectively known by diplomats and some Cubans here as "the Taliban.",1,2183317.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Glasnost in Cuba?

One by one, Cuban artists and intellectuals in Havana did something unprecedented this week: They stood before the government and criticized a particularly harsh era of censorship -- out loud and in the open.

Perhaps even more surprising than the conference held Tuesday to discuss a dark period of Cuban cultural oppression was what happened outside: a protest by those shut out of the invitation-only event. Also out loud and in the open.

''I don't know how important it can be, but what's true is that I have never seen anything like that in Cuba,'' Cuban writer Ena Lucía Portela told The Miami Herald in an e-mail. ``It was rudimentary, passionate, incoherent, but it was the closest thing to freedom of expression I have seen in this country in my entire life.''

In a move that Cuba experts say signals a significant shift in Cuban domestic policy, the government led by interim President Raúl Castro appears to be cracking open the door to debate. After Castro publicly asserted he was open to discussion, and later convened a committee to study flaws of socialism, experts say there has been a clear changing of the guard in Cuba, one that allows at least controlled discussion.

About | Terms of Use & Privacy Statement | Copyright | About the McClatchy Company