Playing for keeps

The Sporting News today published an interesting story about two friends who grew up together playing baseball in Cuba–and wanting to come to America, to play for the Atlanta Braves.

One of the friends, Brayan Pena, snuck away from the Castro goon watching him at a baseball competition in Venezuela, by asking for some privacy in the restroom. The other friend, Yunel Escobar, came to America and freedom the hard way:

Escobar joined 35 people aboard a tiny vessel that drifted away from Cuba with no guarantees of ever making it to the U.S. All they thought about was being free.

“Everybody on the boat was scared,” he said. “We were between death and life.”

After two days at sea, the Cubans were picked up by the Coast Guard and brought to Miami. Escobar stopped by his old friend’s house, but Pena had already left to play in the Dominican winter league. The catcher got a call from his mother telling him that Escobar was now in the U.S.

“I was very surprised,” Pena said. “When I got back from the Dominican Republic, one of the first things I did was look for him. I was very happy and very emotional.”

For my money, the best passage of the story is the one that says it all:

“America is America, with all due respect,” Pena said. “When you’re free, man, you feel like you can do whatever you want. What can be better than that?”

Indeed, what can be better?


“Repression in Cuba increases”

Despite all the noise that Raul isn’t like his brother Fidel, a Castro is still a repressive tyrant. Check out this AP story on Yahoo! News:

Repression is increasing in Cuba under the control of Raul Castro, and the domination of the government by his brother, Fidel, is nearing an end, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

“In Cuba, this year will mark the end of the long domination of that country by
Fidel Castro,” Mike McConnell, the nation’s new spy chief, told Congress.

McConnell, who did not explain his remark, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that significant positive change immediately after Fidel Castro’s death was unlikely. He said Raul Castro has had the opportunity to solidify his control in the seven months since his brother’s incapacitating illness last July.

Separately, the Bush administration official who oversees a White House effort to promote transition to democracy in Cuba said he has seen no indication that the government is getting ready to make any changes.

“What has increased is repression,” Caleb Charles McCarry said at a seminar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Security forces have stepped up harassment of dissidents and have kept closer track of reporters since Fidel Castro transferred control of Cuba’s government to his brother after undergoing intestinal surgery, the U.S. official said.

McCarry said the White House Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba does “what it can to hasten the day when they can enjoy freedom again.”

He spoke primarily of broadcasts to Cuba and expressions of support for human rights, and said only peaceful means are used by the United States.

On the job since July 2005, McCarry dismissed any suggestion of U.S. dialogue with Cuba to prepare for transition to democracy. “The dialogue that needs to take place is between Cuban authorities and the Cuban people,” he said.

Pretty sad that Yahoo! posts the “Fidel Castro feels fine” article on their home page, then buries this story.


Fidel Castro feels fine, Cuba doesn’t

The ratfink Castro has stuck his nose out of his rathole today just enough to remind the world he continues to pollute it with his presence. Here’s a funny quote from an AP article today about the bearded dictator:

“…his country is running smoothly without him at the helm.”

Does that mean AP is admitting it runs roughly with Castro in charge? Because 11 million Cubans know that to be true.

Another funny quote:

“I feel good and I’m happy,” Castro said in a phone call to Chavez’s weekday radio program.

Now we know for sure he’s still on this earth. Because if Castro were dead, he’d feel hot. VERY hot. 👿

One final quote:

“Fatherland or death. We will prevail!,” the two leaders repeated after each other.

If they truly cared about their respective fatherlands, they’d choose death. For themselves, I mean.


Cuban spies get max sentence, woohoo!

It looks as though the judge “threw the book at ’em” after all:

A college professor who pleaded guilty in a federal case involving allegations that he and his wife spied for Cuba’s communist government and betrayed their fellow Cuban-American exiles by passing along information about community figures was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.

Carlos Alvarez, 61, and his 56-year-old wife Elsa were sentenced by District Judge K. Michael Moore on reduced charges they received in a federal plea deal. Carlos Alvarez also received three years probation.

Elsa Alvarez was sentenced to three years in prison and one year of probation. That was the maximum sentence both could get under sentencing guidelines.

As a bonus, here’s what the judge said:

“As we know, a good motive is never an excuse for criminal conduct,” (the ironically named K. Michael ) Moore said before sentencing. “Their behavior undermined U.S. foreign policy.”

Can we clone this judge? Can we find more judges like this guy? Read the rest of the story here.


Cuban Freedom 23, Castro 0

Score one for Cuban freedom. Or make that, 23:

23 Cuban migrants arrived in a makeshift boat early Tuesday morning at Higgs Beach in Key West. The group, which included two children, all appeared to be in good health. The boat used to make the trip appeared to be the hull of a sailboat, without the mast. They were taken to the U.S. Border Patrol station in Pembroke Pines for processing.

Interestingly, 6 of the 23 were no strangers to the Keys. They had been among a group of 15 who landed on an abandoned bridge near Marathon in January of 2006. All 15 were held offshore by the U.S. Coast Guard for five days while officials in Miami and Washington decided what to do.

The rest of the story is on Miami’s Channel 4’s website, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the guys at Babalu Blog for being the first place I discovered this story.


Throw the book at ’em!

That’s what these commie spies deserve. Heck, if the shoe were on the other foot and our spies had been caught in Cuba, they’d’ve been summarily executed without even the benefit of a sham trial:

A college professor who pleaded guilty in a federal case involving allegations that he and his wife spied for Cuba should receive the maximum five years in prison because he did “classic intelligence work” for Fidel Castro’s communist government, prosecutors said Monday.

Carlos Alvarez, 61, and his 56-year-old wife Elsa were set to be sentenced Tuesday. Both pleaded guilty Dec. 19 to reduced federal charges in the case involving accusations of exchanging coded messages with Cuban intelligence services about Cuban-American exile groups and prominent figures in Miami.

Read more here.


Mario Chanes de Armas, RIP

A true Cuban hero and patriot is no longer with us. Here is an excerpt of his obit from the Miami Herald:

Mario Chanes de Armas, the Cuban political prisoner who served the longest sentence in modern times and symbolized the struggle for civic freedom in 20th century Cuba, will be remembered today with a funeral service in Miami.

Chanes, 80, who suffered a fatal heart attack Saturday, spent his life in prison and in exile, but no adversity convinced him to halt his quest for a democratic future for his homeland.

Certainly not during the 30 years he spent in prison for opposing the regime of Fidel Castro, his comrade-in-arms during the failed raid on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953.

Rest in peace.


Castro exports his doctors–unintentionally

Wow, I’m pleasantly surprised. The San Francisco Chronicle actually published an article today with the title Cuban doctors defect from Venezuela posts. I’m shocked they’d admit that.

Of course, the piece doesn’t come without the typical Castro apologia about “free healthcare,” but they also mentioned this:

Cuban doctors are not permitted to talk to foreign journalists or diplomats. They must seek permission to travel outside of their assigned municipalities, and doctors who have defected say Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence operatives kept close tabs on their whereabouts.

So yeah, I’m suprised. But glad that the people on the left coast will get a chance, albeit a small one, to see what Castro is all about.


Castro, Al Gore and Reuters

Okay, Reuters published an article today about Castro’s Cuba giving Al Gore’s flick An Inconvenient Truth a ringing endorsement. This one has so many angles to address I feel like a geometry teacher. Here’s an excerpt, my comments in parentheses and bold italics:

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore doesn’t know if his climate change documentary will win an Oscar on Sunday night (not for lack of help from the MSM) — but he has Cuba’s vote (talk about damning with faint praise).

Sunday’s Union of Young Communist’s newspaper reported acting Cuban President Raul Castro “recognized the effort of the former vice president to denounce” global warming during a two-hour meeting with youth leaders on Friday.

Cuba’s official and only (“official and only” tells you everything you need to know; normally they air hot air from Fidel, now it’s hot air from Gore) television media showed Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” on prime time this month and an update by Gore, giving the one-time presidential contender more positive publicity (What, no scare quotes around “positive publicity” from Cuba, Reuters? Oh, that’s right, you people are so clueless you actually think this is a GOOD thing.) than any other U.S. leader in decades.

Here are a few “Inconvenient Truths” you won’t see on TV in Cuba:

  • – Nearly 300 political prisoners, including peaceful dissidents and journalists
  • – Thousands murdered, including the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown and the sinking of the tugboat “13 de marzo”
  • – No freedom of speech in Cuba, no free use of the Internet, and constant crackdowns on the few meager independent libraries that exist
  • – People so desperate to flee tyranny they hop on rickety “craft” to sail away

I wonder if this is just a form of “thank you” from the Castro brothers for Elian Gonzalez?