STATEMENT: Anti-Cuban provocation plot foiled on eve of elections

An attempt has been made to orchestrate a new act of anti-Cuban provocation from abroad, through the awarding of a “prize” with the aim of interfering in the internal affairs of Cuba, generating instability, affecting the country’s image and Cuba’s diplomatic relations with other States.

The operation was carried out with financing and support from counter-revolutionary groups based abroad and other international organizations such as the so-called Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA); Pan American Democracy Foundation; the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; and using a small, illegal anti-Cuban group as instrument.

As is customary in any reactionary initiative in our region, the involvement of the OAS Secretary General was not lacking.

It should also be remembered that a similar operation was attempted last year in which, as well as the aforementioned groups, the Democracy and Community Center; the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL); and Interamerican Institute for Democracy, run by terrorist and CIA agent Carlos Alberto Montaner, all of which have been actively working against Cuba and whose links with the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which receives funding from the U.S. government to carry out subversive programs against Cuba, are well known.

These organizations have extensive credentials as agents of intervention and subversion against progressive governments of Our America, with the aim of destroying them, and toward which they have dedicated significant efforts and resources. Interestingly, they maintain complicit silence regarding the threats of the use of force and recent U.S. incitement of a military coup against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; they fail to speak out against coups on the continent, to denounce poverty and hunger, or the racial and religious discrimination present in our region.

Nor can our peoples count on these organizations and their leaders to fight for greater social justice and equality, or to support the families of progressive and trade union leaders and journalists murdered for their political ideals, or to other victims of paramilitarism and organized crime.

This time they attempted to put on a show that would affect the normal development of general elections in Cuba. The actions combined a communications strategy, through the use of international media outlets and social media, with measures aimed at evading our country’s laws, and undermining the legitimacy of the just and legal action of our authorities.

Although they were well aware and warned that they would not be welcome in Cuba for such purposes, Andrés Pastrana Arango and Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez, former presidents of Colombia and Bolivia, respectively, and Chilean Deputy representing the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), Jaime Bellolio Avaria, volunteered to participate in this act of provocation in Cuban territory, which is why, based on our laws and international norms, they were not permitted to enter our country.

Said action is part of the imperialist offensive against the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, in which the United States government has declared the relevance and validity of the “Monroe Doctrine,” and has provoked a setback in bilateral relations with Cuba.

The protagonists of this ploy are not at all interested in Cuba or the Cuban people, who they offend on attempting to violate the constitutional order that we have freely chosen. This is why they have had to resort to foreign resources and figures to achieve their goals.

Every time they do so, be it this or any other way, they will receive the firm response of the Cuban people, who remain united and loyal to the principles of the Revolution, as we will show this coming Sunday, March 11, when we vote en masse for the people’s candidates.

Havana, March 8, 2018

“Year 60 of the Revolution”

Kathy Castor urges Rex Tillerson to restore U.S. diplomats to Cuba

Fresh off a Cuban visit last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to return consular officials and diplomatic personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Havana as soon as possible.

Tillerson withdrew 60 percent of diplomats from the embassy in Havana last fall after unexplained attacks harmed at least 22 American government workers and family members. Investigators explored the possibility of a “sonic attack” injuring diplomats through sound waves; they discovered no device nor a culprit.

“While I appreciate your overriding concern with the health and safety of our diplomats following the unexplained health incidents, it is time to increase staffing and re-establish an American presence to serve our interests and our citizens,” the Tampa Democrat wrote in the letter to Tillerson sent Wednesday.

The State Department is scheduled to decide the status of the embassy by next week.

Shortly after Tillerson ordered the removal of U.S. diplomats from Cuba, the State Department then opted to suspend all visa processing in Havana, moving that function to Bogota, Columbia.

Castor, representing a district that is home to one of the largest Cuban-American populations in the country, said it’s “unreasonable and unaffordable” for Cubans who want to travel to Tampa or Miami to go to another country to do so.

The U.S. had provided 1,100 visas a month to Cuban immigrants last year before the diplomatic imbroglio; that number has since trickled down to just 350 per month.

In 2013, Castor became the first member of Congress from Florida to call for removing the Cuban economic embargo, a decision that can only happen via a congressional vote. She has consistently championed the liberalization of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba since the early part of this decade.

But the diplomatic breakthrough started by President Barack Obama in late 2014 came to a screeching halt when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Among the policy changes his administration rolled back from the Obama White House was travel.

Last summer, Trump announced that Americans would no longer be able to plan their own private trips to Cuba, and those who did had to go through authorized educational tours, subject to strict new rules and audits to ensure that they are not going just as tourists.

Castor calls that plan “overreaching.”

“This is counterproductive and complicates America’s ability to support everyday Cubans and promote the exchange of ideas,” The Tampa Democrat complains.

Castor visited Cuba earlier this month with fellow Democratic Reps. James McGovern from Massachusetts and Susan Davis from California, as well as Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Gary Peters from Michigan and Ron Wyden from Oregon.

The entire delegation, except for Castor, chose to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro during the visit. Castro will step down in April.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba helps put out fire at U.S. Guantanamo naval base: authority

Units from the Cuban army helped put out a fire which broke out last week on the perimeter of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in the southeast of the island, local media reported Wednesday.

The official daily Granma quoted officials as saying that Cuba provided personnel, vehicles and a helicopter that dropped water from the air to extinguish the flames.

The situation, which saw the evacuation of a part of the American personnel, was brought under control on Feb. 22, despite the "logistical and practical complications" due to the "illegal" U.S. occupation of Cuban territory.

"In recent years, a level of communication has been maintained between Cuban and American authorities for emergency situations on the Naval Base," wrote Granma.

This facility was opened in 1903 and constitutes the oldest U.S. military base on foreign soil.

Cuba has repeatedly demanded the return of this territory, considering it an illegal occupation, where Washington has maintained a prison since 2002.

Despite pressure to close it, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 30 to maintain the prison open.

  • Published in Cuba

Internet: Who Benefits from the U.S. Plans for Cuba?

A "task force" is a U.S. military term and defines a temporary unit settled to work in an operation or specific mission.

Following the guidelines outlined by president Donald Trump in his Presidential Memo of last June 16th, the U.S. government announced in late January the creation of a new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert the internal order in Cuba.

According to the official statement issued by the Department of State, that Operative Group is made of government and non-government officials, with the objective of "promoting the free flow of information" in the neighboring Island.

Why aren’t we surprised? It’s because we Cubans will never forget our history. How to do so before machinery designed to manufacture subversive projects aimed at a “change of régime” and the permanent destruction of the Cuban Revolution?

For decades, along the United States –Cuba feud, sentences like to "work for the freedom of speech" and "expand the access to Internet in Cuba" has been used by Washington to mask destabilizing plans with the use of new technologies.


Certainly, these subversive plans are not new; they are from many years ago. Apparently, they present projects that might seem attractive, but in their core there is a meddling character, a cheating and subtle attempt of breaking the political system established in Cuba for more than half a century.

We Cubans know well that several North American agencies use the social networks as facades for the propaganda, the deceit, the massive messaging and the construction of fake stories. We already saw it in other countries of the world: in the first stage supposedly "regular" messages are sent like sport news, music and culture; and later they begin to introduce others with marked political content that encourage civil turmoil.

As for the files on the entities in charge of promoting the Internet Task Force against Cuba are scandalously shameful.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Certainly, it’s revolting that according to the official presentation, this group created by Washington has the task of analyzing "the technological challenges and the opportunities of widening Internet access in Cuba to help the Cuban people to enjoy a free and not regulated flow of information".

If the concern were true huge, why don't they explain that while a brutal and permanent media campaign tries to accuse the Cuban State of not increasing Internet service and other communication services; the United States blockade against Cuba prevents a greater and better access to Internet?

With many technological limitations, there’s a sovereign policy passed by the Cuban government that establishes the increasing computerization of society. There is still a long road ahead in the use of new technologies; but let nobody in Washington think that Cubans are a naïve people.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Cuba has repeatedly denounce that aggressions like these and other ways of unconventional war will never be able to stop the Cuban government's efforts to use new technologies seeking the common well-being, the economic, cultural and social development of its nation.

The new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert Cuba’s domestic order is nothing but another chapter in the violent and shameful politics of the United States against the Cuban nation.

Washington put together this task force in a moment that firm steps are taken toward the computerization of society, with a vision that gives priority to the social access and protects Cuba’s sovereignty, despite the economic limitations.

As a sovereign decision, without conditions, or impositions, the Cuban government has reiterated that it will continue moving forward its strategy of computerization of society and the gradual increase of Internet access for the citizens.

Carnival Cruise Line To Offer New Cruises To Cuba From Miami In 2019

Carnival Cruise Line will offer 17 new sailings to Cuba aboard Carnival Sensation in 2019.  The five-day Cuba voyages will be the line's first to operate round-trip from Miami and feature a day-long call in Havana as well as stops at popular Caribbean and Bahamian ports,  including Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Nassau, and the private destinations of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.

The voyages complement a series of voyages to Cuba departing from Tampa aboard Carnival Paradise taking place in 2018-19.

"Our inaugural cruises to Cuba aboard Carnival Paradise from Tampa were met with exceptional guest response and we're thrilled to expand upon the program with our first Cuba cruises from Miami featuring Havana and some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean and The Bahamas," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Cuba is a sought-after destination and we're delighted to provide our guests with even more opportunities to experience and explore this fascinating island," she added. 

Carnival Sensation's Cuba schedule includes:

  • four five-day sailings to Havana and Grand Turk departing May 20, Sept. 9, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16, 2019
  • five five-day voyages featuring Havana, Nassau and Half Moon Cay departing June 17, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 23, and Nov. 4, 2019
  • a five-day cruise to Havana, Nassau and Princess Cays departing April 22, 2019
  • seven five-day cruises to Havana and Grand Cayman departing May 6, June 3, July 1 and 29, Aug. 26, Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, 2019

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock last year that added a variety of popular food and beverage concepts, including Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic tacos and burritos, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and the Cherry on Top sweets shop.

These complement the ship's diverse array of onboard features, including a WaterWorks aqua park, a Serenity adults-only retreat, 24-hour pizzeria, fun supervised programs for kids in three age groups, and the Seuss at Sea program operated exclusively with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Guests sailing on Carnival's Cuba cruises can select from nearly 20 different shore excursion experiences that showcase the island's vibrant culture, majestic beauty and centuries-old architectural landmarks.  A variety of Cuban-themed activities and entertainment, including the sizzling A mor Cubano:  A Caribbean Dance Romance Playlist Productions show, Havana-inspired deck parties, trivia contests and salsa lessons, are also offered.  There's also a lecturer on board who discusses the country's rich history and culture.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

  • Published in Cuba

Athletes passing on visiting the White House is nothing new

Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most socially conscious teams in the NFL.

Yes, their theme song comes from a jailed rapper.

And, yes, at least three high-profile members of the team — Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith and Chris Long — have said they wouldn’t attend the annual gathering of football champions at the White House.

But the Eagles, after winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, will still get invited to meet the president, right?


Remember Stephen Curry, who was disinvited (even before a formal invitation was extended) to the White House by President Donald Trump after saying he wouldn’t make the trip anyway? That disinvitation, which Trump tweeted before the Golden State Warriors had met to decide whether to attend if invited, led the 2017 NBA champions to announce they’d “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion” in lieu of a White House visit.

Whether the Eagles will suffer that same fate remains to be seen even though the last 14 Super Bowl champions before the Eagles have been received at the White House under the past three administrations (George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump).

While the history of teams visiting the White House dates to 1865 (when two amateur baseball teams visited President Andrew Johnson), the history of NFL teams visiting the White House goes back to 1980. President Jimmy Carter was presented a terrible towel by a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who made a joint appearance at the White House with the 1979 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

NFL teams visiting the White House became an annual occurrence in the late 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.

The 1985 Chicago Bears were invited to the White House by Reagan after winning Super Bowl XX on Jan. 26, 1986. But the space shuttle Challenger exploded just two days after the game, and as the nation mourned the Bears’ visit was pre-empted (and never rescheduled until 2011, when Obama invited the team to Washington).

When the New York Giants visited the White House in 1987 — with Harry Carson dumping a bucket of popcorn on Reagan, mimicking the linebacker’s penchant for dumping Gatorade on coach Bill Parcells — presidential photo ops with Super Bowl champions became an annual event with four exceptions.

The Giants didn’t visit Washington after winning Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Florida, in 1991 — just 10 days after the United States entered the first Gulf War (that game is perhaps best known for Whitney Houston’s iconic version of the national anthem).

The Denver Broncos were never invited to the White House after winning Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999. And the team never got a reason. But that slight might have something to do with President Bill Clinton getting impeached (on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice after denying an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky) the month before Denver’s victory.

The next year, the St. Louis Rams were invited after winning Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome in 2000, but that offer was rescinded as Clinton got caught up attempting to broker a peace agreement in the Middle East.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are credited with being the last Super Bowl championship team to not be received by the White House and Bush after winning the 2003 Super Bowl. Like 1991, war was the reason, as the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.

If the Eagles do visit the White House, Jenkins, Long and Smith will join a lengthy list of professional athletes who have previously passed up the invitation:

  • Tom Brady, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long and Martellus Bennett: These were among the higher-profile members of the New England Patriots who didn’t show up to meet Trump at the White House last year. For Brady, it was the second time he missed a White House ceremony with the Patriots (he also skipped the 2015 visit with Obama). Brady cited family reasons for both absences. Like Long, Blount is now a member of the champion Eagles.
  • Matt Birk: The Ravens center skipped his team’s 2013 visit after hearing remarks Obama made during a speech at a Planned Parenthood event. “I am Catholic. I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that,” Birk said.
  • James Harrison: While he was with the Steelers, Harrison skipped two visits to the White House (one visit with Bush in 2006 and another with Obama in 2009). “I don’t feel the need to go, actually,” Harrison said about skipping the visit in 2009. “I don’t feel like it’s that big a deal to me.”
  • Manny Ramirez: The Boston Red Sox slugger was absent when the team visited the White House after its 2007 World Series victory. “I guess his grandmother died again,” Bush joked. “Just kidding. Tell Manny I didn’t mean it.” Bush had been told after the team won the World Series in 2004 that Ramirez had skipped that visit because his grandmother was sick.
  • Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Cedric Maxwell: All three skipped the Boston Celtics’ visit to the White House to meet Reagan after winning the 1984 title. Maxwell claimed he was getting ready for his wedding. Bird relayed this message to the White House: “If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me.”
  • Manny Fernandez, Bob Kuechenberg and Jim Langer: All were members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only NFL team to finish a season undefeated. There was no White House ceremony for NFL teams after the Dolphins won the Super Bowl in 1973, leading Obama to honor that team on the 40th anniversary in 2013. All three declined to join their teammates because they disliked the president. “I just don’t believe in this administration at all,” Kuechenberg said. “So I don’t belong. “

The Undefeated made efforts to find out from the White House whether there are official guidelines on what teams receive invitations to the White House, but those attempts went unanswered.

Last month, the World Series champion Houston Astros accepted an invitation to visit the White House. The Patriots, Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and college football national champion Clemson Tigers are among the teams that have visited the White House during the Trump administration.

  • Published in Sports

Cuban Sailboat to Go into History in Saint Petersburg-Havana Regatta

With the Cuban boat ''Micara'' as a novelty, the Saint-Petersburg-Havana regatta will start today, when 22 sailboats will set sail from this city at 10:00 hours, local time.

According to a communiqué from the International Nautical Club of Cuba, 'the boats and their crews, made up of 126 yachtsmen, will arrive in the Hemingway Marina on February 27 and 28, and the slowest ones will be arriving on March 1.'

It will be the first time in 58 years that a Cuban crew on a boat with a flag from the same nationality, representing the Hemingway International Nautical Club, will participate in a regatta between the United States and Cuba, the press release added.

The program of the Saint Petersburg-Havana regatta consists of several events, including a nautical stop on Saturday, March 3, at about 11:00 hours, local time, by the statue of the Christ, inside the Bay of Havana.

An hour later, all boats will gather in front of the Morro Castle in the Cuban capital.

At 12 noon, the Torreon de la Chorrera regatta will start along Havana's coastline, covering a circuit that will include the Morro Castle, the Anti-imperialist Tribune and Torreon de la Chorrera.

These kinds of regattas and other nautical competitions were resumed recently after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

  • Published in Sports

UMass delegation returns from dual-purpose trip to Cuba

Three University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty members recently returned from a journey to the Congreso Universidad Cuban International Education Conference, known as the “Congreso,” to plan future academic partnerships.

The faculty members included Dean Marjorie Aelion of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Stacy Lutsch and Cristina Sosa, both of the International Programs Office. Their trip spanned from Feb. 11 to 17.

One reason for this travel was to attend the Congreso, which was frequented by not only other American universities such as Rutgers, the University of California San Diego and the University of Richmond, but also, according to Sosa, “a lot of Latin American universities, European, African, the Caribbean.” Sosa added, “[It] was great talking to colleagues from all over, and they’re… not just people from the education abroad office but… rectors at a very high level.”

The other and more pertinent reason for the UMass delegation’s journey was to finalize a scheduled semester-long study abroad opportunity in Cuba for public health majors. According to Lutsch, “Through the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and the International Programs Office [the study abroad program in Cuba] has been developing for quite some time now. I’d say first initial conversations were in 2015, to give you an idea of how long it takes to get a program off the ground.”

However, Lutsch added, “It was indeed actually scheduled to run this fall semester, so Fall 2017, but between Hurricane Irma and Maria hitting the island we decided to cancel and postpone it to Spring 2019 when hopefully we’re out of hurricane season.” She mentioned that of the cohort of 14 students set to have traveled, “six ended up studying abroad on another program.”

To some it may seem unlikely to think of Cuba as a destination for the study of public health, but according Dean Aelion, “Cuba has really been at the forefront of community based health and health promotion which is what we do as professionals in the field of public health; versus the medical side where it’s treatment of the individual. So I think it’s a great opportunity for our students to see how another country has approached the field of public health in delivering services to prevent illness and disease to keep people healthy.”

Aelion admitted she even had the opportunity to see this firsthand when a young man injured himself. “I hated to say it was wonderful to see that in action to have somebody sprain their ankle and be hurt playing soccer, but it also was very reassuring to me, to actually get a good sense of both again the people taking care of the students [and] the homestays, which are with Cuban families,” she said.

Regarding the trip as a whole, Lutsch felt “like we couldn’t have been more welcomed, and like [Sosa] said the flexibility with which high quality universities, very, very good research universities, teaching universities; the flexibility with which they’re willing and open to pursuing any kind of academic relationship with U.S. universities and institutions is impressive.”

“Now more than ever it’s important in regards to education continuing that, because they’re all very scared about the current administration and if it’s going to curtail any of the education initiatives down there,” Sosa said. “Everyone asked, so you know what about Trump?” to which Lutsch supported, “[Cubans] actually do call it the ‘efecto Trump,’ that’s the Spanish term for it, the Trump effect.”

Each of the three faculty members had something to add about the politics involved. Sosa said, “We did have a meeting at the U.S. embassy. [The U.S. doesn’t] have an ambassador anymore, but while we were there we got to meet the new chargé d’affaires, somebody that probably won’t stay in the position very long, and they really were kind of walking lightly about the relations, what they see in the foreseeable future between the U.S. and Cuba.”

Despite this shakiness in the politics, the trio were not inhibited from obtaining visas. Lutsch said, “Fortunately what we’ve seen is that the kind of travel we’re doing and the kind of travel our students would be doing, that purely educational travel…again touch wood, has yet to be impacted by recent Trump restrictions and administrative restrictions. We keep a very close eye on it though.”

Aelion also commented on the accessibility of travel to the island nation, stating, “It’s funny because some people in the group we were with had been to Cuba two years ago and that was the only time they had been there, so for that group, they saw that it was more difficult now. For me, having been there in 2011, it was easier this time. There are U.S. carriers now that fly to Cuba. So we took JetBlue, other people took Delta, direct flights from Atlanta. So, in the bigger picture we’ve definitely been taking steps in the right direction in terms of increasing exchanges.”

Sosa is a Cuban-American herself and was born on the island. She left at the age of eight in 1961, and her family members (along with many others) were labeled “gusanos” (the Spanish word for “worms”) by the Castro regime for leaving. However, she still holds out hope for her home country despite this.

Sosa mentioned that while in Cuba, “Interestingly, this woman who I was speaking with…she said to me, you know, ‘I am a communist, my family, they’re all communists.’ but she said, ‘Castro’s government made many mistakes in the beginning especially calling all of you, you know, like worms.’ You know they’re feeling more comfortable in speaking out against the government, which before that wasn’t the case.”

Sosa further explained this increasing liberalization and hospitality of modern day Cuba by stating, “this is the third time back [for me] so every time I just find it a little more welcoming and more things happening in regards to private enterprise and the universities themselves at this congress, they were so willing to like have any type of program” and, “Definitely more things are happening with the youth, you see a lot of the young people on the streets with their smartphones, trying to get Wifi.”

Nevertheless, Sosa’s approach remained grounded. She said, “Those are things that are still very controlled by the state and Wifi is sketchy,” and “markets are very bare and they get things sporadically and when they do [arrive] you want to be there to get something.”

The trio concluded that their experience was a success amongst the delegations of global universities in attendance at the Congreso.

In a parting statement by Lutsch, she summarized the matter succinctly.

“Everyone was pursuing sort of the project that made most sense for their institution. So I think my takeaway is that there’s no one-size-fits-all to approaching Cuba, especially in terms of education and educational programming, but there is the flexibility and the willingness to accommodate a lot of those different approaches,” she said.

  • Published in Cuba
Subscribe to this RSS feed