Category Archives: Cuba

Fidel Castro: Cuba’s Former Leader and Revolutionary Dead Aged 90

Michael Weissenstein and Peter Orsi report for The Independent:

fidel-castro-salute.jpgFormer President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 US presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90.

With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10.29pm on Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Towards victory, always!”

Mr Castro’s reign over the island-nation 90 miles from Florida was marked by the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling US trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died eight years after ill health forced him to formally hand power over to Raul.

He overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, as the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa.

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Obama in Cuba: Pro-Torture Pundits Suddenly Concerned With Human Rights

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

US President Barack Obama landed in Havana [last] Sunday to great fanfare, both in Cuba and stateside. His visit marks a significant shift of the United States’ approach towards the socialist state, and the possibility of cooperation after decades of hostility. US media generally struck a hopeful tone, with a surprisingly nuanced mix of positive and critical stories about Cuba.

Some Cold War hold-outs in the media just weren’t having it, though, taking the occasion to feign outrage that Obama could visit a country with such a terrible human rights record. While American human-rights hypocrisy is nothing new, a string of Bush-era, pro-torture, pro-Guantánamo pundits expressing indignation at Cuba’s human rights failings was still remarkable.

[…] Human rights are important. Human Rights™, as arbitrary tools of Western propaganda, are dangerous. Not only because they serve to bully unfriendly nations with cheap sloganeering, but they also, in the long run, undermine the otherwise noble and well-intentioned enterprise of establishing international norms.

“The problem with living outside the law,” Truman Capote once quipped, “is that you no longer have its protection.” The same is true for every Bush-era pundit who served as ideological shock troops in one of the more shameful episodes of American history. These talking heads can criticize Cuba’s controlled economy, they can criticize its leadership, they can criticize its immigration policy—but they have no grounding, intellectually or morally, to criticize its human rights record.

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Noam Chomsky on Power and Ideology

This past Saturday, Noam Chomsky spoke in front of a sold-out audience of close to 1,000 people at The New School’s John L. Tishman Auditorium in New York City. In a speech titled “On Power and Ideology,” Chomsky discussed George Orwell, the suppression of ideas, the persistence of U.S. exceptionalism, Republican efforts to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal, and the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. (Democracy Now!)

Cuba first to ​eliminate mother-to-baby HIV transmission

Lisa O’Carroll reports for The Guardian:

Cuba has become the first country to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby, the World Health Organisation has announced.

The WHO’s director general, Margaret Chan, said it was “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” and an important step towards an Aids-free generation.

Over the past five years, Caribbean countries have had increased access to antiretroviral drugs as part of a regional initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission.

HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding have also contributed to the breaking of the infection chain, said the WHO.’

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Cuba’s media: Revolution, resistance and transition

‘Cuba is a notoriously difficult place to get accreditation – let alone talk to journalists. Most of the media on the island are state run. It has been that way ever since the revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed Batista government with a socialist one that is still in place. Many dismiss the media in Cuba as mere relics of its Cold War past – Soviet-style propaganda machines designed to control the masses. But now there is a diplomatic transition underway – a rapprochement with the US aimed at ending decades of animosity between the two countries. As the relationship with Washington changes, Cuban media outlets like Granma, Huventud Rebelde, Radio Havana – will undoubtedly change too. There has already been some reform – an opening up – of Cuban media: accreditation and access are easier to get, officials are more open to talking, although there are still plenty of red lines journalists there know better than to cross. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro reports from Havana on the media landscape, the changes taking place and what is all means for journalism in Cuba.’ (Al Jazeera)

10 Most Censored Countries

Committee to Protect Journalists published a preview of their annual Attacks on the Press report, which released on Monday, 27 April:

Eritrea and North Korea are the first and second most censored countries worldwide, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the 10 countries where the press is most restricted. The list is based on research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.

In Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki has succeeded in his campaign to crush independent journalism, creating a media climate so oppressive that even reporters for state-run news outlets live in constant fear of arrest. The threat of imprisonment has led many journalists to choose exile rather than risk arrest. Eritrea is Africa’s worst jailer of journalists, with at least 23 behind bars-none of whom has been tried in court or even charged with a crime.

Fearing the spread of Arab Spring uprisings, Eritrea scrapped plans in 2011 to provide mobile Internet for its citizens, limiting the possibility of access to independent information. Although Internet is available, it is through slow dial-up connections, and fewer than 1 percent of the population goes online, according to U.N. International Telecommunication Union figures. Eritrea also has the lowest figure globally of cell phone users, with just 5.6 percent of the population owning one.

In North Korea, 9.7 percent of the population has cell phones, a number that excludes access to phones smuggled in from China. In place of the global Internet, to which only a select few powerful individuals have access, some schools and other institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet. And despite the arrival of an Associated Press bureau in Pyongyang in 2012, the state has such a tight grip on the news agenda that newsreel was re-edited to remove Kim Jong Un’s disgraced uncle from the archives after his execution.

The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries. To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.’

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America’s Not-So-Ultimate Weapon: Economic Warfare

Paul Pillar writes for The National Interest:

‘The roots and manifestations of American exceptionalist thinking go way back. One of those manifestations is the use of economic measures as a weapon intended to coerce or deny. The specific thinking involved is that such measures employed by the United States, and even the United States alone, should be enough to induce or force change in other countries. The thinking is solipsistic insofar as it centers narrowly on the idea of American will and the exercise of American power and, as too often has been the case, pays insufficient attention either to the other nation’s motivations or to what damage or denial the United States is inflicting on itself.

More than two centuries ago the young American republic made one of its first big attempts at such economic warfare. The Embargo Act of 1807 shut down U.S. overseas trade in an attempt to get the warring European powers Britain and France to respect U.S. neutrality. President Thomas Jefferson’s intentions were honorable in that he genuinely sought neutrality in the European war—unlike so many today who, if they see an armed conflict going on somewhere in the world, believe it necessary for the United States to take sides even if there are bad guys on more than one side. Jefferson also saw the embargo as an alternative to war rather than a prelude to it—unlike many today, who are both sanctions hawks and military hawks.’

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Cuba, Be Careful What You Wish For: Interview with Larry Wilkerson

Editor’s Note: Larry Wilkerson is a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

USAID Will Continue Its ‘Democracy’ Program in Cuba: Interview with Sujatha Fernandes and James Early

John Perkins on Embracing Cuba, TPP Kiss of Death & Restoring the Life Economy

Abby Martin interviews Author and Activist, John Perkins, discussing the economic impact of the US’ new policy towards Cuba as well as the damage that international free trade agreements do to third world economies.’ (Breaking the Set)

Congressional Hawks Vow to Block Normalization of Cuba Ties

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘President Obama’s announcement of his intentions to end 53 years of acrimony toward Cuba, and move toward normalization of relations, including reopening the Embassy in Havana, came as a shock to many.

Polls show that the American public has been supportive of the idea for awhile now, however, and that anti-Cuba sentiment is something a lot of people got over literally decades ago.

Being the obvious thing to do, and a popular thing to do, doesn’t mean it’s going to get done, however, and Congressional hawks are promising to stop normalization, as well as to block any nomination of an ambassador to Cuba.’

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U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Diplomatic Relations

Peter Baker reports for The New York Times:

The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast.’

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In Bungled Covert Operation, USAID Contractor Recruited Hip-Hop Artists to Help Topple Cuban Government

Kevin Gosztola reports for The Dissenter:

‘From the United States government contractor, which brought you “Cuban Twitter” and a band of untrained young Latin Americans sent to infiltrate Cuban society through the organization of an HIV workshop, comes another bungled covert operation against Raul Castro’s government: an operation to recruit notorious Cuban rappers and co-opt the country’s hip-hop music scene in order to spark an uprising.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) contracted Creative Associates International, which conducted all three of these blundering operations simultaneously as part of a “four-year contract” with USAID. The contract reportedly ended in 2012.

All three of the operations have been revealed in reports published by the Associated Press this year. Each time the AP has revealed the existence of these contracted projects, USAID has maintained they are not engaged in covert operations.’

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Che Guevara’s Daughter: The West Has No Idea What A Dictatorship Is

RT recently interviewed the daughter of Che Guevara, Aledia. During the interview she was asked what she thought about the West viewing Cuba as a dictatorship:

RT: The West sees Cuba as a dictatorship. What would you say to that?

AG: They have no idea what a dictatorship is. No dictator would educate his people, because the more educated the people, the freer they are.

No dictator would introduce free education for everyone. All this time our government has been working on raising cultural standards. Such initiatives are at odds with the features of a dictatorship. The more people think about the world they are living in, the freer they become. They have more choice and they can understand exactly what they want. So we’re talking about an approach that is totally uncharacteristic of a dictatorship. What kind of a dictator wants his people to be healthy and have free education? What kind of a dictator would take steps to teach his people solidarity with other nations? What kind of a dictator would send sports coaches to help out in other countries? You can’t even mention those things in the same breath. But this is what’s happening in Cuba. Solidarity, respect, love for other peoples and self-sacrifice for the good of others are the principles which are Cubans taught. How can you associate that with a dictatorship? I think it’s impossible, and I can’t understand that.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW…

Here’s another RT interview with Che’s daughter:

Obama’s Sanctimonious Human Rights Argument Against Cuba

Matt Peppe writes for CounterPunch:

‘Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, said that he wants to start relations with the U.S., but first the U.S. must provide health insurance to all 46 million people who lack it; stop extrajudicial assassinations in sovereign countries through drone attacks; make higher education affordable for all; reform the prison system which has by far the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, with a drastically disproportionate amount of prisoners being minorities; grant Puerto Rico its sovereignty as required by the U.N. Charter, U.N. Declaration on Decolonization, and the popular referendum in Puerto Rico in 2012; halt the economic blockade, which has been ruled illegal for 22 straight years in the U.N.; close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and return the land to Cuba; turn over terrorists living freely in Miami who have bombed Cuban civilian airplanes, hotels and fishing boats; and free the three political prisoners who were investigating these groups to prevent further attacks.

Actually, he said: “We don’t demand that the U.S. change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours. If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we’ll have to learn to respect our differences, if not, we’re ready to take another 55 years in the same situation.”

President Barack Obama has said Cuba: ”Has not yet observed basic human rights … I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.” But he added: “We haven’t gotten there yet.”’

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Kissinger Drew Up Plans to Attack Cuba, Records Show

Frances Robles reports for The New York Times:

‘Nearly 40 years ago, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger mapped out secret contingency plans to launch airstrikes against Havana and “smash Cuba,” newly disclosed government documents show.

Mr. Kissinger was so irked by Cuba’s military incursion into Angola that in 1976 he convened a top-secret group of senior officials to work out possible retaliatory measures in case Cuba deployed forces to other African nations, according to documents declassified by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the request of the National Security Archive, a research group.

The officials outlined plans to strike ports and military installations in Cuba and to send Marine battalions to the United States Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to “clobber” the Cubans, as Mr. Kissinger put it, according to the records. Mr. Kissinger, the documents show, worried that the United States would look weak if it did not stand up to a country of just eight million people.’

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Cuba estimates total damage of U.S. embargo at $116.8 billion

Daniel Trotta reports for Reuters:

‘U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba have cost the island nation $3.9 billion in foreign trade over the past year, helping to raise the overall estimate of economic damage to $116.8 billion over the past 55 years, Cuba said on Tuesday.

The figures were published in a report that Cuba prepares for the United Nations each year in requesting a resolution urging an end to the comprehensive U.S. economic embargo and other sanctions against Cuba’s Communist government.

The United Nations has passed the resolution for 22 straight years with overwhelming support. Last year the vote was 188 to 2, with only the United States and Israel voting against the resolution.’

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The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba

Sheldom Richman writes for The Future Freedom Foundation:

‘When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.” But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.

Did Obama, Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s, when the Kennedy and Johnson administrations tried repeatedly to overthrow Cuban ruler Fidel Castro and even to assassinate him? The AP investigation disclosed that the USAID agents had “little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world’s most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.” Nevertheless, the AP continued, “their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.” The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama’s inauguration.’

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USAID exploited fake HIV workshop to incite rebellion in Cuba

‘The US Agency for International Development is under fire after an Associated Press report released Monday revealed the agency used young Latin Americans to infiltrate Cuban society and potentially stir dissent under the guise of a fake HIV-prevention organization. Created to serve as a cover for the would-be CIA agents’ espionage activities, the HIV workshop enabled among other activities the creation of a database of Cubans likely to cause trouble for the Castro regime.’ (RT America)

Cuba’s Raul Castro urges defence of ally President Maduro in Venezuela

From AFP:

‘Cuban President Raul Castro warned allies on Saturday that Havana’s closest ally Venezuela needed support amid fallout from deadly anti-government protests. “Venezuela today needs our staunchest support,” Castro, 83, said in a rare international speech at a Group of 77 and China meeting in Bolivia.  “The oligarchs who could not get rid of President Hugo Chavez think the time has come to topple the Bolivarian revolution and President (Nicolas) Maduro,” Castro argued, calling the elected socialist government in Caracas “the front line of independence, freedom and dignity”.

Maduro is the closest regional ally of Cuba, the region’s only one-party communist state. Venezuelan economic support is critical to keeping the Cuban government and economy afloat. Cash-strapped Havana still has a centrally planned economy and cannot get access to international loans, and Venezuela supplies it with cut-rate oil. But inflation near 60 percent, widespread shortages of basic goods and soaring crime have plunged Venezuela — an oil-rich OPEC member — into political and economic crisis.’

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Fidel Castro lived like a king, former bodyguard claims in book

Editor’s Note: It’s certainly worth taking these claims with a pinch of salt, but I suspect the truth may lie somewhere in the middle. 

Kim Willsher reports for The Guardian:

News correspondent Barbara Walters being driven around Cuba on a sightseeing tour by Castro in 1977. Other journalists to have met him say he seemed to live a simple, austere lifeFidel Castro lived like a king with his own private yacht, a luxury Caribbean island getaway complete with dolphins and a turtle farm, and travelled with two personal blood donors, a new book claims.

In La Vie Cachée de Fidel Castro (Fidel Castro’s Hidden Life), former bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, a member of Castro’s elite inner circle, says the Cuban leader ran the country as his personal fiefdom like a cross between a medieval overlord and Louis XV.

Sánchez, who was part of Castro’s praetorian guard for 17 years, describes a charismatic and intelligent but manipulative, cold-blooded, egocentric Castro prone to foot-stamping temper tantrums. He claims the vast majority of Cubans were unaware their leader enjoyed a lifestyle beyond the dreams of many Cubans and at odds with the sacrifices he demanded of them.’

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From Havana to Kiev: The US State Department as a Covert Operative

Howard Friel writes for Common Dreams:

Photo: Andrew Kravchenko/AP

‘I begin with three examples of State Department covert operations. The first examples start with Cuba (for context) and end with Venezuela, the target of the first two covert operations described below. The third example begins and ends with Cuba. These examples function as case studies that can be applied paradigmatically to Ukraine around the events of February 2014, when Ukraine’s elected president was overthrown in a coup supported by the United States. I conclude with commentary about the State Department’s likely evolution into a covert operations wing of the executive branch, and why such operations are illegal and threaten to ignite war in Europe among nations with nuclear weapons.’

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US secretly built Twitter-like services in other countries too

Ron Nixon reports for The New York Times:

Andreas Eldh (CC BY 2.0)‘The United States built Twitter-like social media programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, like one in Cuba, that were aimed at encouraging open political discussion, Obama administration officials said Friday. But like the program in Cuba, which was widely ridiculed when it became public this month, the services in Pakistan and Afghanistan shut down after they ran out of money because the administration could not make them self-sustaining.

In all three cases, American officials appeared to lack a long-term strategy for the programs beyond providing money to start them.

Administration officials also said Friday that there had been similar programs in dozens of other countries, including a Yes Youth Can project in Kenya that was still active. Officials also said they had plans to start projects in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Some programs operate openly with the knowledge of foreign governments, but others have not been publicly disclosed.’

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‘Cuban Twitter’ and Other Times USAID Pretended To Be an Intelligence Agency

Catherine Traywick writes for Foreign Policy:

Foreign governments have long accused the U.S. Agency for International Development of being a front for the CIA or other groups dedicated to their collapse. In the case of Cuba, they appear to have been right. In an eye-opening display of incompetence, the United States covertly launched a social media platform in Cuba in 2010, hoping to create a Twitter-like service that would spark a “Cuban Spring” and potentially help bring about the collapse of the island’s Communist government.

[…] Though better known for administering humanitarian aid around the world, USAID has a long history of engaging in intelligence work and meddling in the domestic politics of aid recipients. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the agency often partnered with the CIA’s now-shuttered Office of Public Safety, a department beset by allegations that it trained foreign police in “terror and torture techniques” and encouraged official brutality, according to a 1976 Government Accountability Office report. USAID officials have always denied these accusations but in 1973, Congress directed USAID to phase out its public safety program — which worked with the CIA to train foreign police forces — in large part because the accusations were hurting America’s public image. “It matters little whether the charges can be substantiated,” said a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. “They inevitably stigmatize the total United States foreign aid effort.” By the time the program was closed, USAID had helped train thousands of military personnel and police officers in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries now notorious for their treatment of political dissidents.

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Is USAID the New CIA? Agency Secretly Built Cuban Twitter Program To Fuel Anti-Castro Protests

‘”U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest.” That is the name of an explosive new article by the Associated Press detailing how the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), created a fake Twitter program to undermine the Cuban government. The communications network was called “ZunZuneo” — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. It was reportedly built with secret shell companies financed through foreign banks. According to AP, the United States planned to use the platform to spread political content that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.” We speak to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He recently wrote an article in Foreign Policy called, “Our Man in Havana: Was USAID planning to overthrow Castro?“‘ (Democracy Now!)

U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest

From the Associated Press:

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the U.S. government.

McSpedon didn’t work for the CIA. This was a program paid for and run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid.

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Cuba plans big tax breaks to lure foreign investors

Marc Frank reports for Reuters:

Cuba’s communist government has drawn up a new foreign investment law that will cut the profits tax in half and exempt investors from paying it for eight years in an attempt to attract desperately needed capital into the economy.

The National Assembly will meet on Saturday to approve the legislation that Cuba promises will offer investment security to foreigners and help further integrate the Caribbean island in the global economy.

But the proposed law appears to withhold many of the tax benefits from companies that are 100 percent foreign-owned, instead reserving those incentives for joint ventures with the Cuban state and between foreign and Cuban companies.

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U.S. policy change on Cuba stalled – by Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about technology in the classroom during a visit to Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueFrom Reuters:

U.S. relations with Cuba are at their best in almost two decades, but President Barack Obama seems unwilling or unable to confront a well-organized anti-Cuba lobby and push for further progress. Obama suggested change was coming at a Miami fundraiser in November, saying “we have to be creative, and we have to be thoughtful, and we have to continue to update our policies” on Cuba, and yet he has withheld using his executive power since last easing Cuban travel restrictions in January 2011.

Many Cuba experts and policy analysts say a fundamental revision of Cuba policy is overdue and that greater U.S. involvement could promote the market-oriented reforms under way on the communist-ruled island since Cuban President Raul Castro took over for his ailing brother Fidel in 2008. The Obama administration says Cuba must first improve human rights and release imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years for attempting to establish an illegal communications network on the island.

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Tours Changing American Views of Cuba, US Policy

From AP:

When President Barack Obama reinstated “people-to-people” travel to Cuba in 2011, the idea was that visiting Americans would act as cultural ambassadors for a U.S. constantly demonized in the island’s official media.

Two and a half years later, a survey shared exclusively with The Associated Press suggests the trips are not only improving Cubans’ views of Americans. They are also changing U.S. travelers’ opinions of the Caribbean nation for the better, and dimming their view of Washington policies that have long sought to pressure Cuba’s Communist leaders.

“I think U.S.-Cuban relations should be open. People should be talking to each other. People should be sharing,” said Ellen Landsberger, a 62-year-old New York obstetrician who recently visited on a people-to-people tour. “We have this tiny little island that is no threat to the U.S. that we’re isolating from the world,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

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Cuba’s Raul Castro Calls For Regional Cooperation Independent Of U.S.

From AP:

Cuban President Raul Castro called on Latin American and Caribbean leaders Tuesday to work together on pressing regional problems at a gathering of all Western Hemisphere nations except the U.S. and Canada.

In his keynote speech as host for the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC for its initials in Spanish, Castro argued that the bloc should aspire to unity despite diversity, describing it as “the legitimate representative of the interests of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“We should establish a new regional and international cooperation paradigm,” Castro said. “In the context of CELAC, we have the possibility to create a model of our own making, adapted to our realities, based on the principles of mutual benefit.”

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