Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Tag: Cuba

Cuba’s Money Woes

You can’t escape economic realities. I’d laugh at them, but we’re dangerously close behind.

It wasn´t supposed to be this way. In early August, the Cuban government reopened trading houses closed for nearly two years to citizens and tourists, at a favorable rate on par with the thriving black market, a move it said would help stabilize the peso.


“The state must reestablish control of the exchange rate,” Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said at the time of the announcement. “We will defend our … rate at 120 pesos to the dollar.”


The black market, however, has not been swayed.


On Thursday, the peso weakened to 155 to the dollar, El Toque reported, its lowest point since the so-called “Special Period” in Cuba, the deep economic depression that followed the 1991 collapse of former benefactor the Soviet Union.


“The price of a dollar is the price at which you find it, not the one the government wants to impose,” said Ricardo Torres a U.S.-based Cuban economist. “The reality is, the government hasn´t resolved the underlying problems.”


Torres says a record-breaking emigration of Cubans – upwards of 180,000 have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past year – is one extraordinary factor driving the peso´s dramatic plunge.


If each of those migrants needed a conservative $8,000 to make that voyage, that´s upwards of $1.4 billion in demand for dollars, at least some of which was likely bought on the black market in Cuba, Torres said.

Also note that that’s probably about $1.4 billion that flowed into the hands of cartels. Biden’s Bloody Border is destabilizing the whole region.

Cubans Flee Island

Well… I guess our country still isn’t as bad as Cuba.

More than 140,000 Cubans have fled the island from October to May, a tenfold increase from the fiscal year 2020, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The recent wave is greater than the Mariel exodus of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans fled the island.


“The scale of the numbers is really historic,” Michael Bustamante, the Emilio Bacardí Moreau Chair in Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami and an associate professor of history, told ABC News.




He said the main factor behind the flight is economics, as Cuba is facing its worse crisis in 30 years. The pandemic and the lack of tourism, which is a source of income for many businesses, have taken their toll, according to Bustamente.


“Things are tough. Inflation is high…There are shortages of all kinds,” he said.

Biden Voices Support for Cuban Protestors

Finally. This is the correct response from an American president when people rise up against Communism and other forms of totalitarianism.

In a statement earlier Monday, Biden said, “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.”


“The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves,” he said.


Communists Likely Attacked American Diplomats with Microwaves

These are intentional, repeated attacks. They have to be stopped.

(CNN)They’ve been described as “sonic attacks” — bizarre, unexplained head injuries that spurred the United States to bring home diplomatic staff from China and Cuba. Now scientists are saying the ailments could have been caused by microwave weapons.

Though a March report based on the examinations of 21 diplomats who served in Cuba didn’t link the attacks to microwaves, the study’s lead author, Douglas Smith, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair, told The New York Times that the diplomats likely suffered brain injuries and that microwaves are considered the culprit.
“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” he told the newspaper, “and everyone now agrees there’s something there.”
In a Sunday interview with CNN, Smith said microwaves are “a main suspect” in causing the diplomats’ injuries, but ultrasound and infrasound were being studied as potential causes as well.
In a statement, the US State Department on Sunday neither confirmed nor denied the possibility that microwaves were behind the diplomatic injuries.
“The health and well-being of our personnel remains our top priority,” the statement said. “The investigation into the origin of these symptoms continues. The inter-agency community is working diligently to determine the cause of the symptoms, as well as to develop mitigation strategies.”

The Revolution Continues in Cuba

Totalitarianism continues.

Miguel Díaz-Canel has been sworn in as Cuba’s new president, replacing Raúl Castro who took over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2006.

It is the first time since the revolution in 1959 that a Castro is not at the helm of the government.

Mr Díaz-Canel had been serving as first vice-president for the past five years.

Even though Mr Díaz-Canel was born after the revolution, he is a staunch ally of Raúl Castro and is not expected to make any radical changes.

There was “no room in Cuba for those who strive for the restoration of capitalism” he said in his inaugural address.

AP Obtains Recording of Embassy Audio Attack

Wow. It seems clear that it was a deliberate attack.

Washington (CNN)A new audio recording said to capture what was heard by some US embassy workers amid a series of attacks on American diplomats in Cuba is adding another layer of intrigue around the mysterious incidents that sickened at least 22 US diplomats and family members.

The recording — obtained by The Associated Press and released on Thursday — is the first publicly reported audio sample said to be related to attacks that, according to a US official, may have involved the use of an acoustic device.
The device was so sophisticated, it was outside the range of audible sound, the official said. And it was so damaging, the source said, that one US diplomat now needs to use a hearing aid.
But what remains unknown is what kind of device may have been used, where exactly it was placed, and who put it there.

US Pulls Staff from Cuba

My guess is that Cuba was testing some new form of surveillance equipment that had unintended consequences.

The US is withdrawing more than half of its staff at its embassy in Cuba in response to mysterious attacks which left its diplomats unwell.

Washington is also warning Americans not to visit the country because some attacks occurred in hotels.

At least 21 staff reported health problems ranging from mild brain trauma and deafness to dizziness and nausea.

Earlier reports suggested that sonic attacks were to blame. Cuba denies any involvement in them.

At least two Canadians were also affected.

Americans Attacked in Cuba

There are casualties from Cuba’s attacks.

(CNN)The State Department announced Friday that incidents of acoustic attacks on US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, which have led to a variety of serious medical symptoms, continued until as recently as last month.

“As we’ve said previously, an investigation into the incidents is ongoing, and we revise our assessments as we receive new information,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “We can confirm another incident which occurred last month and is now part of the investigation.”
“Based on continued assessments of personnel, there are now 19 confirmed U.S. government personnel who have been affected,” she added, updating her previous count of “at least 16 US government employees.”
Last week, Nauert said the incidents, which began in late 2016, appeared to have ceased.

Botched Espionage May Be to Blame for Injured American Diplomats

Hmmmm… it is possible that the Cubans may be 1950’s technology.

An outbreak of hearing loss and other health problems affecting at least 16 employees at the US embassy in Havana could have been caused by an electronic surveillance operation that went wrong, former intelligence officials said on Friday.

The state department said it was investigating the outbreak, and that some of the worst affected diplomats had been evacuated to Miami for examination and treatment.

“This is something that we have not experienced in the past,” Heather Nauert, the department’s spokeswoman, said. “We are working very hard to try to take care of our folks who are there on official duty – and trying to provide them all the care and the treatment and the support that they would need.”

Earlier this months, US officials had said the symptoms appeared to have resulted from a covert sonic device. But Nauert said on Thursday no device nor any perpetrator had yet been found and that Cuba was cooperating with the US investigation.

The US asked two Cuban diplomats to leave in May, after American embassy officials were forced to leave Cuba because of serious symptoms. But the Cuban diplomats were not banned from returning, as normally happens in expulsions linked to espionage, and the US has so far not explicitly blamed the Castro government.

Cuban Government Cracks Down on Opponents

But I thought that normalizing relations with Cuba was going to usher in a new era of freedom and prosperity for the Cuban people? Did I get that wrong?

Havana (AFP) – Cuban dissidents planning to run in the communist country’s local elections in November have been arrested, threatened and otherwise harassed by the authorities, one of their leaders said Tuesday.

At least five would-be candidates have been charged with crimes such as robbery, had their property seized, or been threatened with losing their jobs, said Manuel Cuesta Morua, spokesman for the opposition Unity Roundtable for Democratic Action (MUAD).

“They (the authorities) are taking preventive measures so that no independent citizen who doesn’t fit their agenda can run,” he told AFP.

The local elections in November kick off an electoral cycle that will ultimately decide the successor to President Raul Castro.

Obama Forces Return Of Refugees Fleeing Tyranny

I thought we were supposed to welcome refugees with open arms? No borders and whatnot… never mind.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy is effective immediately, according the official. The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S.


The official said the Cubans gave no assurances about treatment of those sent back to the country, but said political asylum remains an option for those concerned about persecution if they return.

Yet another handout to a tyrannical regime in return for nothing. A lot of Cubans yearning to breathe free will pay the price for Obama’s love of this Communist regime.

Obama Sends Representatives to Honor Tyrant

Of course he does.

President Obama is sending two senior officials to represent the United States at a service on Tuesday for the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. But don’t call it an official delegation, the White House insisted.

“I can tell you that the president has decided not to send a presidential delegation to attend the memorial service today,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “I can tell you, however, that Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes will attend the service, as will the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Jeff DeLaurentis.”

Rhodes was one of the key architects of the secret diplomacy with Cuba that led to the stunning December 2014 announcement that the two Cold War adversaries would renew diplomatic relations and pursue deeper economic ties. Obama nominated DeLaurentis, the top U.S. official at the embassy in Havana, to be ambassador, but Republicans have blocked the nomination.

Protesters Oppressed for Obama Visit to Cuba

We wouldn’t want those unseemly people yearning for freedom to spoil Obama’s support of a tyrannical regime.

President Barack Obama is flying to Cuba for a historic visit to the island and talks with its communist leader.

The two-day visit will be the first by a sitting US president since Calvin Coolidge went 88 years ago.

Mr Obama will meet President Raul Castro – but not retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro – and the pair will discuss trade and political reform.

Protesters were arrested in the capital Havana just hours before Mr Obama was due to arrive.

Police took away dozens of demonstrators from the Ladies in White group, formed by wives of political prisoners, from outside a church where they attempt to hold weekly protests.

Castro Dies

The older one.

Havana, Cuba (CNN)Ramon Castro, older brother to Fidel and Raul Castro, has died, Cuban state media reported Tuesday. He was 91.

A farmer all his life, Castro supported his brother’s revolution but did not take an active role in the armed struggle that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959.

American Missile Turns up in Cuba

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the Chinese and Russians have all of our technology. Whether or not they can mass-manufacture it is another story, but that’s small comfort.

Washington (AFP) – A US Hellfire missile has turned up in Cuba after going missing in a fiasco that has left American officials worried the technology may be shared with China, Russia or North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Though the missile was not carrying a warhead, the alarming diversion while it was in transit from Europe has spurred US investigators to probe whether its arrival on the communist island was the result of criminal activity or merely a series of mistakes, according to the newspaper.

And despite a historic thaw in ties with Cuba over the past year, Washington has been unsuccessful in its push to get the missile back, the WSJ said, citing unnamed sources.

It reported that American officials were not concerned that Cuba would take apart the Hellfire — an air-to-ground missile often carried by helicopters — but were worried that Havana would share the technology with US rivals China and Russia, as well as North Korea.

Obama to Bypass Congress Again

Once again, our Imperial President is going to ignore the law. Irrespective of what you think about the Cuban embargo, it remains the law as it has for decades and 9 previous presidents followed it.

The Obama administration plans to unilaterally ease the travel restrictions to Cuba, sources told ABC News.

The new measures would bypass limits on travel imposed by Congress by changing regulations at the executive level.

Talks are already underway between the Federal Aviation Administration and Cuban aviation authorities to resume regularly scheduled non-charter or commercial flights between the two countries.

And ABC News has learned that the Treasury Department is now considering new regulations that would allow all Americans to travel to Cuba as individuals and not in tour groups or with other third-party arrangers.

These two changes are being developed separately by the two U.S. government agencies but, when complete, would allow Americans to book tickets to the island nation without going by charter. Those are now the only flights from the United States to Cuba because of restrictions by the embargo.

Castro Says U.S. Owes Cuba for Embargo

This is how tyrants behave. You offer them a handshake and they try to tear your arm off.

Castro wrote: “Cuba is owed compensation equivalent to damages, which total many millions of dollars, as our country has stated with irrefutable arguments and data in all of its speeches at the United Nations.”

He did not go into detail about precisely how much money he reckons Washington owes Havana. The Americans are also claiming compensation for US-owned property, such as real estate, that was confiscated when Castro took power.

I would argue that, if anything, Castro owes the U.S billions for the private American property he confiscated when he came to power.

U.S. Removes Cuba From Terror List

And there it is. On the bright side, America got major concessions from Cuba on… wait… nevermind.

The United States has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The move eliminates a major obstacle toward restoring diplomatic ties.

The change allows Cuba to conduct banking in the United States, among other activities.

President Barack Obama announced a historic thaw with Cuba in December, but the US trade embargo against the country remains, and may only be ended by Congress.

The removal has been one of Cuba’s key demands, as leaders from both countries have repeatedly met to negotiate the details of restoring diplomatic relations, including the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana.

Obama Removes Cuba From Terrorism Sponsor List

Of course he did.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the White House announced Tuesday, a key step in his bid to normalize relations between the two countries.

The terror designation has been a stain on Cuba’s pride and a major stumbling block for efforts to mend ties between Washington and Havana.

In a message to Congress, Obama said the government of Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism” over the last six months. He also told lawmakers that Cuba “has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”

Ohhhh… I get it. They’ve kept their noses clean, as far as we know, for 6 months after half a century of supporting international terrorism AND they promise to be good. OK, I’m cool with it now. 

Cuban Surprise

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

Cuban surprise 

Who cares about oppression when you can get a great cigar?

‘Tis the season of giving and President Barack Obama is not one to be left out of the festivities. Before heading off to his annual holiday in Hawaii with his family, he delivered a generous gift to the communists in Cuba — normalization of relations along with a promise to push Congress to lift the sanctions which have been in place for more than 50 years.

In a surprise move, Obama bypassed the State Department to negotiate directly with Cuba. The result culminated in the announcement that Cuba would release two imprisoned Americans, America would release three imprisoned Cubans, America would normalize relations for the first time with Cuba, Obama will lift many of the trade restrictions against Cuba that are within the purview of the executive branch and Obama will pressure Congress to completely lift the sanctions against Cuba.

Obama’s announcement marks a seismic shift in America’s foreign policy that is fraught with hazard.

The prisoner exchange sets a dangerous precedent. The mutual return of prisoners has been done for ages, but it is usually done with some parity of exchange. In this case, the Cubans gave up two prisoners in exchange for three of their own and a massive thaw in relations. This action will lead other totalitarian regimes to believe that they can also soften America’s stance with the capture of a few Americans. This endangers Americans around the world.

But the prisoner exchange appears to have been merely a fig leaf of cover for Obama to do something that his ideology dictates. In a worldview where America is merely one of many nations with different philosophies and not an exceptional nation, the isolation of Cuba has long been a thorn. Couple that with the American far left’s, from which Obama hails, affinity for communists, and it is clear that Obama was just waiting for an excuse and a time when he was free from domestic political responsibilities to make his move.

There have been two dominant, and competing, foreign policy philosophies of the past few decades in regards to how to deal with totalitarian regimes. The realpolitik philosophy is one that espouses engagement with totalitarian regimes as a way to influence world events and for the benefit of America. This is the philosophical foundation behind working with the numerous autocratic countries in the Middle East to keep the peace and keeps the oil flowing.

The second foreign philosophy is that promoted by the Neocons which believes that democratic institutions are a prerequisite for sustained peaceful relations and, thus, foreign policy should be directed toward regime change in totalitarian nations.

Both philosophies may support engagement with dictators. Adherents to realpolitik support engagement, if it is a way to advance our nation’s interests while the neocons support engagement, if it is a way to advance regime change along with our nation’s interests.

Obama does not seem to adhere to either philosophy. Obama is advocating engagement with Cuba for the purpose of engagement itself. The only benefits of engagement that he has espoused have been potential benefits for the Cuban people through American trade.

Usually, whether realpolitik or neocon, the opening of relations of a totalitarian regime after decades of isolation would be done for some purpose — some advancement of America’s national interests. At the very least, Obama should have only given Cuba normal relations and possibly billions of dollars from the benefit of open trade in exchange for reversing some of the multitude of systemic human rights violations by the Castro brothers. But no. Cuba has done nothing in exchange for Obama’s gift.

The result is sadly predictable. At a time when the communist government of Cuba is struggling to stay afloat after its primary benefactors — the Soviet Union and then Venezuela — are no longer able to support them, Obama has offered the communists a lifeline that will pump billions of dollars into their coffers that can be used to continue to persecute the Cuban people.

But presidents Obama and Bill Clinton will be able to share a Cuban cigar, so I suppose it is worth a few oppressed Cubans.

(Owen Robinson’s column runs Tuesdays in the Daily News.)



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