March 2010 Castro Death Watch Poll

What do you think was the biggest Cuba-related news story this past February?

  • The murder of hunger striker and political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo (50%, 25 Votes)
  • The continued imprisonment of humanitarian Alan P. Gross for handing out cellphones and laptops in Cuba (12%, 6 Votes)
  • Brazilian President Lula's visit to Cuba and moribund dictator Fidel Castro (10%, 5 Votes)
  • Raul Castro is the guest of "honor" at The Summit of Latin American and Caribbean Unity in Mexico (8%, 4 Votes)
  • Castro regime torturer Ramiro Valdes goes to Venezuela to "help" them with their electricity problems (8%, 4 Votes)
  • Seven Cuban doctors suing Cuba and Venezuela in the U.S. after they were forced to work to pay off Venezuela for supplying Cuba with cheap oil (6%, 3 Votes)
  • A group of Canadian tourists stranded at an airport in Cuba with little food and water (4%, 2 Votes)
  • A U.S. diplomatic delegation meets with Cuban dissidents, drawing criticism from the regime's apparatchiks (2%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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5 Things You Need To Know For A Wedding In Cuba

Inspired by this travel piece that was linked to by Babalu Blog, I’ve decided to post my own version of “5 Things You Need To Know For A Wedding In Cuba:”

  1. Selecting a church: Fidel and Raul Castro’s communist Cuba is atheist, so good luck there. But hey, maybe if you promise to change Fidel’s colostomy bag, Cardinal Bertone might be willing to preside over your wedding.
  2. Food: Ha! Hahahahaha! You REALLY expect to find food in Cuba? Maybe on Raul’s dinner plate. You’ll have to save your rations for months to have a decent wedding reception. Of course, that begs the question: what are you going to eat until the wedding? Well, at least you’ll be sure to fit into your wedding dress or tuxedo on your big day.
  3. Wedding wear: And that brings us to “thing” number three. Forget the designer duds–this is a communist country after all. Try one of those Che Guevara t-shirts the useful idiots in free countries wear. Or you can wear olive drab military fatigues like the “Coma-andante” used to wear.
  4. Wedding gifts: Don’t expect to receive much in the way of wedding gifts. Unless one of the invitees is a member of Cuba’s nomenclatura. Nobody in Cuba has much to give. The one exception to this rule is the family of political prisoners. With one or more members languishing in a Castro gulag, they’re likely to be able to have a few things to spare that they can give you and your beloved as gifts.
  5. The Honeymoon: Ah yes. Where to get away with your loved one after you exchange your vows? Well, now that Raul Castro has opened Cuba’s hotels to, um, Cubans, perhaps you can stay there. Oh, way too expensive for the average Cuban, you say? Then perhaps a cruise on Cuba’s first ever cruise liner! Or maybe you can go on your own, um “cruise” on a makeshift raft. Of course, if you get caught, you might end up with an all-expenses paid “honeymoon” in one of Castro’s prisons instead. What could be more romantic than your own dank, dark 5-by-5 cell with a hole in the ground for a toilet and vermin to keep you company?
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Cuba Nostalgia

I had a chance to visit Cuba Nostalgia today (Sunday, the last day of the three-day festival of Cubanness) for the first time ever. The weather was hot, dry, smoky, the sky tinged with an odd orange glow. But the food was great.

And Cuba Nostalgia itself was great. And right now I’m kicking myself for not taking my camera, but that’s an old, bad habit of mine. I could be on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or experience of some sort and I’d forget the camera. Oh well.

So many different things were going on and–oh, did I mention the food was great? I got a chance to meet Val and Gusano from Babalu Blog (BTW they’ve got TONS of pictures and videos from Cuba Nostalgia). We didn’t get a chance to chat much; they were busier than heck, getting folks to sign the petition for the release of Cuban political prisoners (please sign it yourself, just click here now).

All I can say for now is, the food was great. Er, I mean, I can’t wait till next year…

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Woohoo, my first hate mail!

With apologies to an individual who sent me, at best, a lukewarm, condescending e-mail a few months ago, today I received my first true hate mail. I won’t reprint it here–it was basically a self righteously indignant diatribe with the typical leftist “blame America first, Cuba has great education and medical systems,” etc., cliches. It was sent by someone who I will simply identify as “El Chileno” (don’t worry, I know he doesn’t speak for all Chileans).

For “El Chileno,” I have a little question. How many people from other countries come to the United States and want to live here, versus the number of people who go to Cuba wanting to live there? I’ll even be fair and note that the population of the United States is considerably larger than that of Cuba, so I’ll accept an answer in the form of percentage of the existing population.

You see, Mr. Chileno, there is a reason why more people want to come to the United States than anywhere else. People risk their lives–risk their lives–to come to the United States.

When was the last time somebody stowed away on an airplane in the wheel well to leave the United States and go to Cuba?

When was the last time an American got into a flimsy homemade raft and drifted 90 miles from Florida to reach Havana?

When was the last time someone from the United States converted a truck or automobile into a boat in a desperate attempt to leave the U.S. for Cuba?

How many Americans have died in the Straits of Florida trying to cross to Cuba?

Approximately 10 percent of Cuba’s population lives in the United States FREELY. What percentage of the U.S. population lives in Cuba?

And finally, I leave you with quote on America by a non-American:

Tony Blair
For all their faults and all nations have them, the US are a force for good; they have liberal and democratic traditions of which any nation can be proud. I sometimes think it is a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: are people trying to get into it or out of it? It’s not a bad guide to what sort of country it is.

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Awww, poor little baby, no time to read…

since your big brother took ill. Break my freakin’ heart:

I’ve got little time to read books. I’ll die with hundreds of books I’ve got waiting there for me to read some day … but for now, lots of (official) papers” to handle, Raul said on opening the International Book Fair in Havana.

Lots of other Cubans have too little time to read books, Raul. Because they spend every waking moment looking for basic necessities like food and clothing, thanks to your and your brother’s corrupt regime.

Here, I’ll play the world’s smallest violin for you:

world's smallest violin

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Castro’s Bizarro world

Only in Castro’s Cuba would this kind of BS pass for normal:

A Cuban student who appeared in a video last week grilling a top Cuban official is denying reports that he was arrested afterward, and maintains that his questions were aimed only at bettering socialism.

In the video CNN obtained and aired last week, Eliecer Avila was seen grilling Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly, about low wages and why Cubans are banned from tourist hotels and from traveling abroad.

The student’s questions came during a meeting between Alarcon and students at the University of Computer Science in Havana. Students who gave CNN the tape said they wished to remain anonymous.

In a new video, the Cuban government says it is responding to “manipulation” by the overseas press and “media terrorism.”

In the new tape, Avila says his questions were meant to improve socialism. When asked by an interviewer about reports that he was arrested over the weekend, Avila acknowledges that while his absence from the university might have seemed mysterious to some, “At no point was it an arrest. My family is completely calm. There is no problem.”

Frank Kafka would be proud. Or mortified.

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Batista items going up for auction

FWIW, a dumpster diver found a bunch of Fulgencio Batista’s–the guy in charge in Cuba before Castro took over–old stuff in a Palm Beach dumpster some years ago. The dumpster just so happened to be located near the family’s office there.

Batista left Cuba for Spain after Castro took over in 1959. Can’t say that I blame him: no doubt the Castroites would given him the old Ceaucescu treatment. As bad as Batista was I don’t think he would’ve deserved to be treated like Ceaucescu was. If anyone deserves it, it’s Castro.

Anyway, whether you like Batista or not, no doubt at least some of these items are of interest to Cuban history buffs. According to the Palm Beach Post:

There were love letters to his wife, Martha, X-rays of Batista’s skull and foot, canceled checks, Cuban Senate records and letters from historic figures.

Bob Calvert, the guy who found these items, plans to put them up for sale on E-Bay. I like his response when some parrot from Granma asked Calvert for some of the items:

“I told him his people already took away the man’s country,” Calvert said.

The Castro people took a country away from millions, Mr. Calvert, not just Batista.

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Watch “Shootdown”

I just came back from watching the documentary Shootdown, the one about the murder of four innocent men in slow propeller planes, by Castro’s MiG jet fighters, on February 24, 1996.

Wow, what a film.

One of my favorite lines: A Cuban-American gentleman was asked by a reporter shortly after the incident took place, what he would say to Fidel Castro if Castro were right there. The response: “Drop dead.” Priceless.

The documentary is only playing in a few theaters in a few cities, so if you can watch it now, watch it. You won’t regret it.

I’ve listed the cities and theaters below the fold (click the link “Read the rest of this entry”), but that info is also available online.

Continue reading “Watch “Shootdown””

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Brothers to the Rescue “Shoot Down” documentary premieres

Shoot Down, the documentary on the 1996 shootdown of two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue Cessnas by Castro’s supersonic MiG fighter jets (which we blogged about back in August), premieres today to a limited, invitation-only audience in Miami. I couldn’t make it–I aggravated an already bad leg injury which I’m currently nursing at home (not to mention that my invitation came via “unofficial” channels…).

The world premiere comes next week, January 25th. It will only run in select theaters, listed below the fold. One of the more remarkable things about the film is that the director, who debuts in that role, is the niece of one of the victims of the incident. Read more about it here.

Continue reading “Brothers to the Rescue “Shoot Down” documentary premieres”

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