Aletho News


Trudeau government squeezes Cuba

By Yves Engler | June 3, 2019

Ottawa faces a dilemma. How far are Trudeau’s Liberals prepared to go in squeezing Cuba? Can Canadian corporations with interests on the island restrain the most pro-US, anti-socialist, elements of the ruling class?

Recently, the Canadian Embassy in Havana closed its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship section. Now most Cubans wanting to visit Canada or get work/study permits will have to travel to a Canadian embassy in another country to submit their documents. In some cases Cubans will have to travel to another country at least twice to submit information to enter Canada. The draconian measure has already undercut cultural exchange and family visits, as described in a Toronto Star op-ed titled “Canada closes a door on Cuban culture”.

It’s rare for an embassy to simply eliminate visa processing, but what’s prompted this measure is the stuff of science fiction. Canada’s embassy staff was cut in half in January after diplomats became ill following a mysterious ailment that felled US diplomats sent to Cuba after Donald Trump’s election. Four months after the first US diplomats (apparently) became ill US ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis met his Canadian, British and French counterparts to ask if any of their staff were sick. According to a recent New York Times Magazine story, “none knew of any similar experiences afflicting their officials in Cuba. But after the Canadian ambassador notified his staff, 27 officials and family members there asked to be tested. Twelve were found to be suffering from a variety of symptoms, similar to those experienced by the Americans.”

With theories ranging from “mass hysteria” to the sounds of “Indies short-tailed crickets” to an “outbreak of functional disorders”, the medical questions remain largely unresolved. The politics of the affair are far clearer. In response, the Trump Administration withdrew most of its embassy staff in Havana and expelled Cuban diplomats from Washington. They’ve rolled back measures the Obama Administration instituted to re-engage with Cuba and recently implemented an extreme measure even the George W. Bush administration shied away from.

Ottawa has followed along partly because it’s committed to overthrowing Venezuela’s government and an important talking point of the anti-Nicolás Maduro coalition is that Havana is propping him up. On May 3 Justin Trudeau called Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel to pressure him to join Ottawa’s effort to oust President Maduro. The release noted, “the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Lima Group [of countries hostile to Maduro], underscored the desire to see free and fair elections and the constitution upheld in Venezuela.” Four days later Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland added to the diplomatic pressure on Havana. She told reporters, “Cuba needs to not be part of the problem in Venezuela, but become part of the solution.” A week later Freeland visited Cuba to discuss Venezuela.

On Tuesday Freeland talked with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Venezuela and Cuba. Afterwards the State Department tweeted, “Secretary Pompeo spoke with Canada’s Foreign Minister Freeland to discuss ongoing efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela. The Secretary and Foreign Minister agreed to continue working together to press the Cuban regime to provide for a democratic and prosperous future for the people of Cuba.”

Ottawa supports putting pressure on Cuba in the hopes of further isolating/demonizing the Maduro government. But, the Trudeau government is simultaneously uncomfortable with how the US campaign against Cuba threatens the interests of some Canadian-owned businesses.

The other subject atop the agenda when Freeland traveled to Havana was Washington’s decision to allow lawsuits for property confiscated after the 1959 Cuban revolution. The Trump Administration recently activated a section of the Helms-Burton Act that permits Cubans and US citizens to sue foreign companies doing business in Cuba over property nationalized decades ago. The move could trigger billions of dollars in legal claims in US courts against Canadian and European businesses operating on the island.

Obviously, Canadian firms that extract Cuban minerals and deliver over a million vacationers to the Caribbean country each year don’t want to be sued in US courts. They want Ottawa’s backing, but the Trudeau government’s response to Washington’s move has been relatively muted. This speaks to Trudeau/Freeland’s commitment to overthrowing Venezuela’s government.

But, it also reflects the broader history of Canada-Cuba ties. Despite the hullabaloo around Ottawa’s seemingly cordial relations with Havana, the reality is more complicated than often presented. Similar to Venezuela today, Ottawa has previously aligned with US fear-mongering about the “Cuban menace” in Latin America and elsewhere. Even Prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who famously declared “viva Castro” during a trip to that country in 1976, denounced (highly altruistic) Cuban efforts to defend newly independent Angola from apartheid South Africa’s invasion. In response, Trudeau stated, “Canada disapproves with horror [of] participation of Cuban troops in Africa” and later terminated the Canadian International Development Agency’s small aid program in Cuba as a result.

After the 1959 Cuban revolution Ottawa never broke off diplomatic relations, even though most other countries in the hemisphere did. Three Nights in Havana explains part of why Ottawa maintained diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba: “Recently declassified State Department documents have revealed that, far from encouraging Canada to support the embargo, the United States secretly urged Diefenbaker to maintain normal relations because it was thought that Canada would be well positioned to gather intelligence on the island.” Washington was okay with Canada’s continued relations with the island. It simply wanted assurances, which were promptly given, that Canada wouldn’t take over the trade the US lost. For their part, Canadian business interests in the country, which were sizable, were generally less hostile to the revolution since they were mostly compensated when their operations were nationalized. Still, the more ideological elements of corporate Canada have always preferred the Cuban model didn’t exist.

If a Canadian company is sued in the US for operating in Cuba, Ottawa will face greater pressure to push back on Washington. If simultaneously the Venezuelan government remains, Ottawa’s ability to sustain its position against Cuba and Venezuela is likely to become even more difficult.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , | 10 Comments

US sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela breach human rights: UN expert

Press TV – May 7, 2019

A UN rights expert has slammed unilateral US sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, saying the use of economic measures for political purposes violates human rights and international law.

In a statement released on Monday, Idriss Jazairy, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, warned that the US bans against the trio might precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes.

“Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation has never been an accepted practice of international relations,” he said.

“Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof,” he added.

Jazairy also voiced worries about Washington’s termination of sanctions waivers for major Iranian crude buyers, saying the move harms not only the Iranian nation, but also their trade partners.

“The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law,” he said.

“I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them,” he noted, referring to the landmark 2015 agreement — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Recently, the US ended six months of waivers which allowed Tehran’s eight largest customers to continue importing limited volumes. It also threatened the buyers of Iranian oil with sanctions if they fail to stop their purchases.

The anti-Iran American sanctions had been lifted under the JCPOA, but they returned in place last year when the US abandoned the multilateral accord.

Elsewhere in his statement, the UN rights expert denounced the economic hardship caused by the US sanctions in Cuba and questioned Washington’s claim that its sanctions against Venezuela were aimed at “helping” its people.

He further called on the international community to “challenge” Washington’s restrictive measures against sovereign countries which amount to “a threat to world peace and security.”

“I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new ‘normal’,” Jazairy said.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia FM Blasts US Illegal ‘Methods of Blackmail’ Against Cuba

teleSUR | May 4, 2019

Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged the international community to unite in condemning the United States’ new anti-Cuban blockade measure, which came about after President Donald Trump lifted the waiver on Title III of the once-dormant Helms-Burton Act.

“We emphasize again that the methods of blackmail and pressure used by Washington are absolutely illegal. We call on all responsible forces to defend the U.N. Charter and international law in order to jointly put an end to the anti-Cuba blockade,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also pointed out that Washington is threatening more sanctions on Cuba in the vein of the “Monroe Doctrine” in an “overt encroachment” on the sovereignty of the Latin American nation.

The new sanctions were made known when United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Title II would come into effect on May 2, permitting U.S. nationals to sue Cuban entities or foreign entities operating on the island prior to the Cuban Revolution for damages.

Moscow said the measures are excessive since Cuba has repeatedly expressed readiness to resolve existing contradictions with the United States regarding bilateral issues.

The Helms-Burton Act is a bill passed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1996. However, this is the first time that any U.S. administration has authorized its implementation.

“Through the devaluation of democratic principles and rejection of international legal norms, the U.S. neglects the values it promotes, creating obstacles for all countries leading a separate policy and refusing to follow Washington’s directions,” the Foreign Ministry noted.

Canada, the European Union as well as other countries have rejected the activation of the Helms-Burton Act, explaining that it violates the norms of international law.

May 4, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump opens Cuba up to property confiscation lawsuits, angering allies & foes alike

RT | April 17, 2019

The Trump administration is set to permit lawsuits against Cuba over property confiscated in the revolution, in a bid to dismantle the ‘troika of tyranny’ resisting Washington’s total dominance in what it sees as its ‘backyard.’

Cubans who fled to the US under Fidel Castro’s government will be able to sue companies using their former property under a 1996 law that went unenforced until President Donald Trump seized on it earlier this year as a potential weapon to pressure Cuba into dropping its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, after the country refused to support US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido when he declared himself president in January.

The Trump administration is expected to announce the measure on Wednesday after last month’s soft rollout, which limited lawsuit targets to about 200 businesses and government agencies already under “enhanced” sanctions due to their links with Cuba’s government. No lawsuits have yet been filed under the new rules, though the State Department says there may be as many as 200,000 potential claims by plaintiffs including multinational corporations – who may be reluctant to file lawsuits that could effectively target their own overseas clients.

Previous presidents have avoided activating the provision because of the torrent of litigation it could unleash against joint ventures run by US allies in partnership with the Cuban government. While the US has maintained its embargo against the Cuban government for over half a century – aside from the short-lived attempt by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to relax the harsh economic sanctions – many of its allies do business with Cuba. While Trump appears to value punishing Cuba for its alliance with Maduro over making nice with America’s European allies, critics argue that Americans will be affected by the new law as well.

“This decision punishes the Cuban people and American companies – companies who were given permission by the US government to do business and are now having the rug pulled from underneath them,” James Williams, President of anti-embargo group Engage Cuba, told Bloomberg. Existing “carve-outs” in the Helms-Burton provision reportedly protect American companies in some areas, specifically the travel industry and telecoms, though it’s unclear whether those exceptions also cover companies belonging to US allies operating in those sectors.

The US move is a violation of international law, EU ambassador to Cuba Alberto Navarro told a press conference. Canada, France, Spain, the UK, and other countries with large Cuban investments have threatened to sue through the World Trade Organization if the US attempts to interfere in their dealings with a sovereign nation.

Cuba has volunteered to reimburse owners of confiscated properties – if the US first reimburses the Cuban government for the billions of dollars in damages resulting from its 60-year embargo.

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Cuba: Electric Sabotage Against Venezuela is Terrorism

teleSUR – March 11, 2019

The government of Cuba has described the attack on Venezuela’s electricity system which occurred last Thursday as a terrorist act.

In a statement, the government of the Cuban Revolution argues that the attack has been “aimed at damaging the defenseless population to use as a hostage in the unconventional war unleashed by the United States against the Venezuelan government.”

In this context, it argues that it is an escalation of violence that evokes the oil strike of 2002 and that arises after the interventionist failure of 23 February, when they tried to forcibly enter a supposed “humanitarian aid”.

The statement also denounces a campaign of lies coordinated by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton against Venezuela. One of those lies, says the statement, is that “Cuba has between 20 and 25 thousand military personnel in Venezuela who threaten the officers of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.”

“Cuba categorically rejects this lie, as it equally firmly rejects any suggestion that there is any degree of political subordination from Venezuela to Cuba or from Cuba to Venezuela,” the Cuban government asserts.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Lavrov: US Sanction Against Russian Company Violates Int’l Law

teleSUR | March 12, 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is criminalizing Russian companies for doing business with the Venezuelan state, saying they are violating U.S. imposed sanctions by making transactions with Venezuela’s sanctioned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

In a Monday press conference Pompeo said that the assets of Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a Russia-Venezuela states-owned financial organization would be frozen and U.S. citizens would be prohibited from doing business with the joint venture, according to Reuters.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Evrofinance was violating a Trump decree because it is a “foreign financial institution that materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of (PDVSA).”

Pompeo also accused the major Russian oil company, Rosneft, of defying U.S. sanctions by buying oil from PDVSA.

According to Sputnik News, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Pompeo’s “accusations … contradict international law.” ​​​​​​​

Lavrov said Pompeo’s “accusations that Russian oil company Rosneft bought Venezuelan oil in violation of Washington sanctions contradicts international law.” ​​​​​​​

Talking to reporters the secretary of state included not only accused Russia but Cuba of trying to undermine democracy in Venezuela.

“This story is not complete without acknowledging the central role Cuba and Russia have played and continue to play in undermining the democratic dreams of the Venezuelan people and their welfare,” Pompeo said.

“Moscow, like Havana, continues to provide political cover to the Maduro regime,” added the U.S. official.

Meanwhile, Trump’s right hand in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, says he is persuading and urging India to stop buying oil from Venezuela, from who it purchases approximately 366,000 oil barrels per day.

The current U.S. government began a soft coup against Maduro shortly after entering office by placing a slew of sanctions against the Venezuelan government and individuals.

As the list grew and intensified, the U.S. administration sent in Guaido in late January to take over the democratically elected Venezuelan government under Maduro. Most recently, last weekend the White House supported, if not masterminded, the cyber attack on the South American country that caused a nationwide blackout in an effort to create chaos and influence the overthrow of Maduro.

According to the Venezuelan government as of February of this year the country has lost US$38 billion in direct losses from U.S. financial sanctions alone.

For his part, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton announced over Twitter that Venezuela’s National Assembly, still in operation despite being in contempt of the country’s Supreme Court, “decreed the suspension of oil exports to Cuba.” Bolton added, “insurance companies and flag bearers who facilitate these deliveries to Cuba are now on notice,” signaling potential sanctions for those doing business with either country.

The Cuban government quickly responded to Bolton’s proclamation saying he has “long-time credentials … (as) a liar.”

Cuba’s foreign ministry office said in a statement: “The honest and informed people know the bilateral relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is based on mutual respect, true solidarity, fidelism and chavism—independent and sovereign.”​​​​​​​

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The United States Is at It Again: Compiling an Enemies List

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.01.2019

Many American still long for the good old days when men were still manly and President George W. Bush was able to announce that there was a “new sheriff in town” pledged to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth. “You’re either with us or against us,” he growled and he backed up his warning of lethal retribution with an enemies list that he called the “axis of evil.”

The axis of evil identified in those days in the 2002 State of the Union Address consisted of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Iraq, which had not yet been invaded and conquered by the American war machine, was number one on the list, with Saddam allegedly brandishing weapons of mass destruction deliverable by the feared transatlantic gliders that could easily strike the United States. Bush explained that “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections, then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.”

North Korea meanwhile was described as “A regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens” while Iran “aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.”

The phrase “axis of evil” proved so enticing that Undersecretary of State John Bolton used it two months later in a speech entitled “Beyond the Axis of Evil.” He included three more countries – Cuba, Libya and Syria because they were “state sponsors of terrorism that are pursuing or who have the potential to pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or have the capability to do so in violation of their treaty obligations.” The nice thing about an Axis of Evil List is that you can make up the criteria as you go along so you can always add more evildoers.

Iraq was removed from the playing field in March 2003 while Libya had to wait for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be dealt with, but North Korea, Cuba, Syria and Iran are still around. Nevertheless, the idea of an enemies list continues to intrigue policy makers since it would be impossible to maintain the crippling burden of the military industrial complex without a simple expression that would convey to the public that there were bad actors out there waiting to pounce but for the magnificent efforts being made by Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon to defend freedom.

The Administration of President Donald Trump, not to be outdone by its predecessors, has recently come up with two enemies lists. The first one was coined by the irrepressible John Bolton, who is now National Security Adviser. He has come up with the “troika of tyranny” to describe Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, where he sees “… the dangers of poisonous ideologies without control, and the dangers of domination and suppression… I am here to convey a clear message from the President of the United States about our policy towards these three regimes. Under this administration, we will no longer appease the dictators and despots near our coasts in this hemisphere. The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — has finally found its rival.”

Bolton also demonstrated that he has a light touch, adding “These tyrants fancy themselves strongmen and revolutionaries, icons and luminaries. In reality, they are clownish, pitiful figures more akin to Larry, Curly, and Moe. The three stooges of socialism are true believers, but they worship a false God.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has apparently also been looking at Venezuela and not liking what he is seeing. On his recent road trip to the Middle East he told reporters that “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government [in Caracas].” He declared that “The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country. We are very hopeful we can be a force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.” “Force for good” is another key soundbite used by Pompeo. In his Cairo speech on January 10th, he described the United States as a “force for good” in the entire Middle East.

Bolton might have thought “troika of tyranny” was a hands down winner, but he was actually upstaged by the dour Vice President Mike Pence who declared to a gathering of US Ambassadors that “Beyond our global competitors, the United States faces a ‘wolf pack of rogue states.’ No shared ideology or objective unites our competitors and adversaries except this one: They seek to overturn the international order that the United States has upheld for more than half a century.” The states Pence identified were North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Of the five, only North Korea can even plausibly be considered as a possible threat to the United States.

As wolves are actually very social animals the metaphor provided by Pence does not hold together very well. But Pence, Bolton and Pompeo are all talking about the same thing, which is the continued existence of some governments that are reluctant to fall in line with Washington’s demands. They have to be banished from polite discourse by declaring them “rogue” or “tyrannical” or “evil.” Other nations with far worse human rights records – to include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt – are given a pass as long as they stay aligned with the US on policy.

So useful “lists” are all about what Washington wants the world to believe about itself and its adversaries. Put competitors on a list and condemn them to eternal denigration whenever their names come up. And, as Pence observes, it is all done to prevent the overturning of the “international order.” However, his is a curious conceit as it is the United States and some of its allies, through their repeated and illegal interventions in foreign countries, that have established something like international disorder. Who is really doing what to whom is pretty much dependent on which side of the fence one is standing on.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cuba Denounces Attempt to Reactivate US Brain-Drain Program

teleSUR | January 12, 2019

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has condemned the call by two U.S. lawmakers of Cuban origin to reactivate the ‘brain-drain’ program established by George W. Bush and revoked during the administration of Barack Obama.

“They’re trying to impose a perverse strategy to stimulate brain drain. Another anti-Cuban campaign that shows the imperial impotence against the revolutionary conquests,” Diaz-Canel wrote on Twitter.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, respectively from the Republican and Democratic parties, filed a resolution at Congress on Thursday calling for the reactivation of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP), known as “brain drain” by Cubans.

“Cuba has been sending medical brigades around the world, including Central and South America as well as Africa, for over forty years – in return for payments directly to the government estimated to be as much as $8 billion per year,” it reads.

“This blatant exploitation by the Castro regime of their healthcare professionals is not at all surprising, as they have long used the suffering of the Cuban people for their own personal gain.”

The resolution can define the Senate’s position on the issue, but the ultimate decision to re-establish the CMPP rests with the State Department.

Installed in 2006, the program aimed to lure Cuban doctors and health professionals working on special missions abroad to abandon their duties and emigrate to the United States with special incentives.

The Cuban president accused the senators of being “unable to promote a civilized relationship” and being “blinded by arrogance.”

Obama repealed the program in 2017 after the improvement of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and recognized the work of health professionals.

According to government data, Cuba has sent more than 600,000 doctors to over 160 countries since the foundation of the ‘More Doctors’ initiative in 1973. Their labour has been recognized by the UN and the World Health Organization as good practice and an important step toward the 2030 sustainable development objectives.

Also, Cuban medicine schools have trained over 35,613 foreigners from 138 countries, completely free of charge.

However, the senators described the missions as “human trafficking.”

Cuban Foreign Ministry director for the United States Office, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, also rejected the initiative by Rubio and Menendez.

“Impotent resentment against Cuba has no limits. Unable to stop recognized human professional development, baseball quality and potential investment. Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio want to restore brain drain program against Cuban doctors,” said Fernandez de Cossio.

Both senators argued that Cuba was profiting from the work of its health professionals in Brazil, where Cuba ended its ‘More Doctors Program’ in November after comments by then President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro questioning the quality of Cuban doctors’ training.

The news was met with sadness by the Brazilian ‘Doctors for the People National Network‘ (RNMMP), who regretted the loss of about 8,500 health professionals working in historically marginalized areas.

“It was an example that favelas, backlands and the Amazon can have doctors. An example that the poor or black people can be a doctor. An example that the state must guarantee the right to health. An example of Latin American love,” the RNMMP press release declared.

The ‘More Doctors Program’ was approved by former President Dilma Rousseff in 2013 in order to increase access to public health for the Brazilian population.

One of those policies consisted of assuring budgetary resources for implementing family-based health strategies, increasing medical vacancies in universities and offering more courses in the field of medicine.

During the five years it lasted, about 20,000 Cuban physicians assisted thousands of Brazilians in primary health care.

Besides the CMPP resolution, Rubio is also attempting to veto an Obama-era ruling allowing Cuban athletes to join Major League Baseball without first having to defect to the United States.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Why Isn’t Radio Marti Shut Down During the Shutdown?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 7, 2019

I don’t get it. If President Trump’s “shutdown” of the federal government is supposed to shut down the “nonessential” functions of the federal government, then why is Radio Marti, the federal government’s Cold War-era propaganda radio station, still broadcasting? When it comes to nonessential federal programs, Radio Marti has to rank near the top of the list.

How do I know that Radio Marti continues to operate during the shutdown? Because I subscribe to Sirius-XM. As I pointed out in my September 2018 Future of Freedom article “U.S. Anti-Communist Propaganda at Sirius-XM,” Radio Marti uses Channel 153 on Sirius XM to broadcast its official anti-communist propaganda. During the past three weeks of Trump’s shutdown, Radio Marti has continued propagandizing listeners of Channel 153 on SiriusXM.

The larger question, of course, is why Radio Marti wasn’t shut down permanently a long time ago. Established during the conservative reign of President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the mission of Radio Marti has always been to meddle in the internal affairs of Cuba by targeting the Cuban people with pro-U.S., anti-communist propaganda. Even though the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to own and operate a propaganda radio station, U.S. officials felt that the Cold War they were waging against the communist world justified violating the Constitution.

Needless to say, Radio Marti’s propaganda has had the same effect on the Cuban communist regime as the decades-old U.S. economic embargo has had, which is none. One reason for that is that the communist government has always done its best to block Radio Marti’s broadcasts and also made it a criminal offense for Cubans to listen to it.

But one thing is certain: the Cold War ostensibly ended in 1989. Therefore, why wasn’t Radio Marti shut down 30 years ago?

Equally important, if not more so, why is Radio Marti broadcasting its propaganda on Sirius XM, a privately owned U.S. company whose customer base consists primarily of American citizens? I thought that the position of the United States has always been that it’s wrong for governments to propagandize their own citizens? Didn’t U.S. officials rail against the Nazi regime’s use of propaganda to mold the minds of the German people? Don’t they also rail against the Cuban communist regime’s use of propaganda to mold the minds of the Cuban people?

Then why in the world is the U.S. government using Radio Marti to propagandize the American listeners of SiriusXM? And why is SiriusXM permitting Radio Marti to use SiriusXM to broadcast its propaganda?

Here’s another problem, at least from the standpoint of the First Amendment. Every Sunday morning at 7 a.m., Radio Marti broadcasts a Catholic mass on SiriusXM. What business does the federal government have targeting people with religious propaganda, whether its target is Cuban citizens or American citizens? Why should American taxpayers, many whom aren’t even Catholic, be forced to underwrite that sort of religious propaganda? What business does a private company like SiriusXM have in participating in such a scheme?

Let’s also keep in mind that Radio Marti is a government-run and government-operated radio station. Why should the U.S. government be owning and operating a socialist radio station, especially given that its purpose is to oppose the socialist system in Cuba? Wouldn’t it be better to oppose socialism with freedom and private property rather than with socialism?

Finally, let’s keep in mind that the federal government continues to spend far more than it receives in taxes and that it has now accumulated more than $22 trillion in debt, which the American people, as taxpayers, are responsible for paying. If Trump and the members of Congress are unwilling to shut down an anachronistic socialist program like Radio Marti, then what hope is there for reining in the federal government’s out-of-control spending and debt before it sends the nation into bankruptcy.

The time has come to shut down Radio Marti, not just during Trump’s shutdown but forever.

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Imperial arrogance’: Fake FB accounts spewing US propaganda at Cubans fit the pattern

RT | August 30, 2018

While the US accuses Russia of using internet trolls to sow discord, Washington is funding its own propaganda body’s program of ‘non-branded Facebook accounts’ operating in Cuba.

Here is a fun fact: The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), an arm of America’s official foreign propaganda agency the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is setting up “non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information” in Cuba. The OCB believes that such pages are more likely to be appearing on newsfeeds of actual Cubans with access to the social network – apparently because Facebook changed its algorithms to give priority to living people over organizations in its crusade on the phantom menace of ‘Russian fake news’.

The quote does not come from some leaked report on American information warfare against the Cuban government. It comes from page 31 of the BBG’s request for fiscal year 2019 funding. Spending taxpayer money on fake online personas used to disseminate propaganda and meddle in another nation’s affairs is perfectly fine – so long as it’s America doing it.

Of course, the US public will probably not know this, because the national networks are more interested in explaining how bad Russians are plotting to kill Americans by convincing them not to vaccinate. A barrage of no less than 253 tweets was launched with that purpose, according to a recent study (over a period of three years, almost half pro-vaccination, cannot be actually confirmed to have come from Russia). But readers of The Miami New Times may learn about the Cuban story too, along with how the US wasted money for decades in “Wile E. Coyote-esque stunts” to reach the Cuban public.

US attempts to destabilize the Cuban government have been ongoing since 1959, although after the Cold War the focus shifted more to less-direct methods like funding anti-government groups in Cuba and trying to stir dissent through radio and TV broadcasts, points out William Robinson, author and professor of sociology at the University of California. The “non-branded accounts” are just another part of this effort.

“That’s the same thing that the United States is doing all around the world: in Russia, in Eastern Europe, in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” he told RT. Robinson added that many of Americans are simply not aware of such facts because major US media outlets would not report them.

“The corporate media and the political leaders in the United States present US interventions around the world… as the promotion of democracy and human rights,” he said. “And this propaganda in the United States has normalized this double standard, whereby the US can intervene all around the world – politically, at the level of propaganda, at the level of social media – but will not tolerate anyone else doing anything of the sort inside the United States.”

The attitude is far from being limited to information warfare, he said.

“The US has sent hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq; it’s intervening in Syria, intervening in Afghanistan, intervening in Yemen. And it’s perfectly acceptable and normalized in the US media and the political establishment. But when then it accuses Iran of intervening in Syria or in Yemen, this is supposed to be a grave violation of international law and justice and Iran is sanctioned tight now,” Robinson said. “This is a very consistent double standard and imperial arrogance that we have seen for much of the 20th and into the 21st century.”

The US-based social media giants like Facebook, Twitter or Google have been lately demonstrating their resolve in fighting “malign Russian influence” on their platforms by deleting “suspicious inauthentic accounts.” Robinson is sure nothing of the sort will happen with OCB’s fake accounts in Cuba.

The tech companies “are all linked to high-level national security establishment… Absolutely we will not see Facebook banning this type of US state intervention in the social media in Cuba, or anywhere else in the world.”

Read more:

Facebook restores Telesur page with vague explanation of controversial block

August 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

US Uses Facebook to Spread Fake News About Cuba

By Rosa Miriam Elizalde | Cuba News | August 22, 2018

While the United States is making a scandal about the supposed Russian intervention in social networks to influence the 2016 elections won by Donald Trump, today evidence has been uncovered that the U.S. government is using Facebook to spread fake news about Cuba and clandestinely foment dissidence on the island.

The Florida weekly Miami New Times revealed Wednesday that it has had access to documents from the government’s Office of Broadcasting to Cuba (OCB), run by Radio and TV Martí. It reveals that the Trump administration has been using Facebook accounts for two years that appear “native” (from real people on the island) to spread propaganda without informing Cuban Facebook users that it is government advertising.

According to the report obtained by the weekly, due to the failure of Radio and TV Martí,

the OCB’s strategy has focused on an offensive through social networks, based on metrics that place YouTube, Google and Facebook among the most visited sites in Cuba. With the use of AVRA (Audio and Video for Radio) technology, Radio Martí’s programs began to be broadcast through Facebook Live along with TV Marti’s programming. This provides OCB with additional efficient and cost-effective distribution output for both its radio (now visual radio) and TV content.

In fiscal year 2018, OCB has been establishing itself with digital island equipment (read “dissidents” paid for by the US) that creates native and “unbranded” Facebook accounts to disseminate information. Native” pages increase the chances of appearing in the news for Cuban Facebook users. The same strategy will be replicated in other preferred social networks.

Miami New Times says that the documents do not explain what federal agents mean by “unbranded” or “native” Facebook pages, but it is clear that they must resemble the pages of regular social network users to persuade Cubans to read propaganda from Radio and TV Martí.

According to the weekly, both government broadcasters have spent more than $800 million from the U.S. taxpayer over the years in their unsuccessful effort to influence Cuban public opinion.

This plan fits into a long history of attempting to use technology to fit propaganda against Cuba, says University of Pennsylvania professor John S. Nichols.

“There are certainly warning signs here,” says Nichols, co-author of Clandestine Radio Broadcasting: A Study of Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Electronic Communication (1987), about OCB’s efforts. “It is the latest plan in a long list of efforts by Radio and TV Martí and their predecessors to try to overcome the laws of physics…. Every time they fail to get their message to Cuba, they say there has to be some technological solution.

Instead, he adds, Congress “seems to fail to recognize that both stations are a colossal failure. It’s sad because they’re spending taxpayers’ money. But what’s really being wasted is our credibility as a great nation doing this kind of thing, dumb and stupid.

Prominent figures from both sides of the U.S. political spectrum, including Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have described these OCB programs as counter-productive and a waste of money. Democratic representative Betty McCollum liquidated the AeroMartí platform in 2015 (to transmit to from an airplane to Cuba the broadcasts of Radio and TV Martí) and said that the OCB was an “unnecessary” office.

“Radio and television Martí are old-fashioned Cold War artifacts,” McCollum said in a statement in 2015. “Our taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda broadcasts.”

But the programs continue to exist thanks to a handful of anti-Cuban lawmakers, including Miami representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a longtime promoter of Radio and TV Martí, says the Miami New Times.

Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio helped install Tomás Regalado, an old friend, as head of the Radio and TV Martí programs. Since then, Regalado has made great promises about how both stations have new plans to reach “5 million” Cuban citizens in the coming years. Regalado appeared last week on the Spanish-speaking MegaTV network to brag about the use of mysterious new technologies that the Cuban government supposedly cannot block. He said that 200 Cubans had received receivers that would help in this new attempt.

“It’s a technology that didn’t exist, and since the government doesn’t know about it, it will be almost impossible to block it,” Regalado told the cameras.

Nichols argued to the Florida weekly that this type of social media propaganda is damaging the U.S. position in the world.

“Third countries see what we are doing and say,’Here comes America again doing this nonsense,” and he adds,’It’s low, petty and not worthy of great power. Other countries will say,’If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our contractual obligations? And given what Radio Martí and TV Martí might be doing right now, we have a hard time complaining about what other countries might be doing against us.

The report that Miami New Times had access to is OCB’s budget request for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It does not reveal the identities of fake “native” and “unbranded” accounts created on the social network, but Facebook administrators do know what they are. By these extravagant quirks in life, this information coincides with the decision of the social network founded by Marc Zuckerberg to eliminate hundreds of alleged false accounts of Russians and Iranians allegedly involved in several disinformation campaigns.

Will Facebook also eliminate the false accounts created by the U.S. government for regime change in Cuba and will the U.S. Attorney’s Office appoint Robert Mueller or another of his ilk to investigate these abuses, as it has done to determine alleged Russian interference through Facebook in the 2016 elections?

Failed saga of Radio and TV Martí

1985: Radio Martí began broadcasting, and five years later, the television aggression began when a television transmitter was put into service on board a captive aerostat at an altitude of 3,000 meters in one of the keys in the south of the state of Florida.

2005: Hurricane Dennis disappeared the captive balloon located at 10,000 feet above sea level in Cudjoe Key, from where Television Martí was broadcast. The OCB replaced it with the AeroMartí platform.

2014: OCB created the unwanted text messaging service Pyramid, which failed. Then it tried to smuggle small satellite devices into the island, but the project was aborted because in addition to being expensive, the “dissidents” used the terminals to view pornography.

2015: Deactivation of “AeroMartí”.

2018: President Trump created the Internet Task Force for Cuba, which according to the State Department “will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding access to the Internet and independent media in Cuba. Clearly, this Task Force has encouraged OCB’s digital fantasy.

Several investigations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have acknowledged that there is strong evidence that Radio and Television Martí is not heard or seen in Cuba. According to the Miami New Times, this saga has cost the American taxpayer more than $800 million.

Rosa Miriam Elizalde, Cuban journalist, First Vice-President of UPEC and Vice-President of FELAP. She is a Doctor in Communication Sciences and author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me olvide”, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. She has been awarded the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Prize on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017.

On twitter: @elizalderosa

Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Cuba Denuclearized in 1962. Why Continue the Embargo?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | June 20, 2018

In a time in which President Trump is saying that the U.S. government will lift economic sanctions against North Korea if it “denuclearizes,” why not lift the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba? After all, Cuba “denuclearized” back in 1962. Why is the U.S. government still punishing the people of Cuba with its brutal economic embargo?

In fact, the continued existence of the Cuban embargo might well cause North Korea to ask: If we really do denuclearize, how can we be assured that U.S. officials will really lift their sanctions on North Korea given the continuation of their brutal embargo against Cuba after it denuclearized more than 50 years ago?

What is the point of continuing the embargo against Cuba? What is the point of continuing to target the Cuban people with economic misery and impoverishment, on top of the misery and impoverishment they already suffer from living in a socialist economic system?

The goal of the Cuba embargo has always been regime change. Ever since Cuban revolutionaries ousted the brutal and corrupt pro-U.S dictator Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959, the CIA and the Pentagon have been hell-bent on doing whatever was necessary to oust the communist regime in Cuba from power and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship.

That was the purpose of the CIA’s paramilitary invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. That was why the Pentagon was constantly exhorting President Kennedy to attack and invade Cuba. That was the goal of the terrorism and sabotage that the CIA inflicted inside Cuba. That was the aim of Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon’s false-flag operation that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended to Kennedy. And that has been the purpose of the brutal economic embargo on Cuba.

That was why Cuba invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear weapons in Cuba in 1962 — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from invading the island or, if an invasion did take place, to be able to defend themselves with nuclear missiles. That is the same reason that North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking and invading North Korea for the purpose of regime change.

Why not just leave Cuba alone? So what if it has a communist regime, just like North Korea does and just like China does? Why does that justify the continued infliction of economic harm on the Cuban people? What business does the U.S. government have in continuing to try to achieve regime change in Cuba? After all, U.S. officials don’t have an embargo against Vietnam, whose communist regime killed some 58,000 American men in the Vietnam War. Why is there an embargo against Cuba, whose regime has never attacked and invaded the United States or even threatened to do so?

Through the more than 50 years of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, many Americans have missed a critically important point: The embargo has been not only an attack on the economic well-being of the Cuban people but also on the freedom of the American people. Keep in mind, after all, that when Americans travel to Cuba and spend money there, they are prosecuted, fined, and incarcerated by their own government, not by thy Cuban government.

Thus, the perverse irony is that in the name of fighting communism with their economic embargo against Cuba, U.S. officials have been prosecuting, fining, and incarcerating Americans for exercising such fundamental, God-given rights as freedom of travel, economic liberty, private property, and freedom of trade. Why should Americans (and anyone else) be punished tor traveling to wherever they want and spending their own money anywhere and any way they want?

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | 4 Comments