Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Believe it - Fariñas entering his FIFTH month of Hunger Strike

Little has been said or heard about Guillermo Fariñas recently - the independent journalist who went on a hunger strike in order to gain access to the Internet. The very same Internet in which I post this and you are reading it. After he was interviewed by the foreign press about repression in Cuba, the government blocked his, and many other independent journalists' access to the Internet.

His hunger strike started January 31st and defying nature, is still going on. Caribbean Net News has the following story which reports Fariñas not only still in his hunger strike, but also appealing to the newly created Human Rights Council of the UN. ¡Ya No Más! has an audio report from Cubanacán's Press Niurvys Díaz Remón. Uncommon Sense has more.
Cuban dissident to complete fourth month on hunger strike Wednesday, May 31, 2006 by Isabel Sanchez

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP): Frail and fed through an intravenous tube, hunger-striking Cuban dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas finishes a fourth month Wednesday defying communist authorities and demanding Internet access even to his death, relatives and dissidents say.

The 42-year-old journalist and opponent of President Fidel Castro's rule is in hospital in the central province of Villa Clara where he is rejecting solids and liquids, sustained only by an IV solution, they said. Over four months his weight has plunged from 78 to almost 50 kilos (172 to 110 pounds), they added.

Fariñas has said he wants to use the Internet to report on the 300 or so political prisoners in Cuba, as well as government repression of dissidents. "We are going to have bad news at any time; he is in critical condition. This man could die. The government is being rigid, and it has his life in its hands," Elizardo Sanchez, president of the outlawed Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told AFP.

Relatives and dissident sources say Fariñas' digestive system has sustained serious damage and that he has had blood in his thorax and around his lungs. "He really started the hunger strike over his own case, but now he wants free access to the Internet for all Cubans, not just for him," said Sanchez. "It is a price too dear for this government which is not going to give in, because it sees the Web as a danger and a threat."

Economist Oscar Espinoza, one of the more than 70 dissidents rounded up in a 2004 crackdown, and later released due to his health problems, said the Internet was a "formidable enemy of the government. "I doubt it is going to give into (Fariñas') demand," Espinoza said. In the letter from Fariñas, released by dissidents on Thursday, Fariñas pleaded with the new United Nations human rights council to sanction Cuba for denying Cubans the right to communicate and seek information freely.

"I demand that the Castro government install Internet in my home to set a precedent, as all Cubans want to communicate freely with the civilized and democratic world," wrote Fariñas.

Dissident sources say this strike was his 20th protest hunger strike. The government maintains that limited Internet access is a result of the US economic embargo on the island that prohibits the use of underwater telecom cables just off the coast. It also cites the high cost of Internet service hookups. Havana describes Cuban dissidents as US-funded mercenaries.

Ahhh, the dissidents that don't exist; just US Funded mercenaries. I wonder what would happen in the US if tomorrow Bush started saying his opponents or detractors don't exist, that they are just foreign funded mercenaries.

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Repression and Censorship in Cuba

Repression is alive and well in Cuba, attacking everyone and anyone who opposes the regime. Yes, Cuba is not the only place where this happens, I'm aware - China, Egypt and countless other countries suffer from repression of those who stand against their government. However, Cuba is the one country people love to believe this sort of thing doesn't happen.

Yesterday, Juan Carlos Leiva - a blind Christian rights activist in Cuba - was threatened by security forces. He and his family have been threatened, almost attacked and living in a state of siege for a week now. His crime? Standing up against the government, literally.

But sometimes you don't have to stand up to feel the brunt of the government. Sometimes all you have to do is report the news like in the case of Armando Betancourt. Mr. Betancourt was covering the news story of families being evicted from their homes because they had taken possession of them illegally - how someone in a government that prides itself in housing and educating ALL its population can illegally take possession of a home is beyond me.

As could be expected said families starting protesting their eviction and Mr. Betancourt was there to cover the story. Unfortunately, so was the police who arrested him and have held him for about a week now.

Yet, the Bearded Stooge would have people believe there are no "dissidents" on his communist island, just "mercenaries" of the United States. And I ask, how can anyone, unless they are on drugs or seriously naive, believe a government has 100% support from its population - no opposing views, no critics, not even disagreements? Wake up people.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Back Home

Happy Memorial Day to all!

I'm glad to report I am back home and will return to my blogging duties tomorrow, since I'm nursing a BAD cold.

Sorry I couldn't blog from my travels, but the wireless was not free.  I'm a bit detached from the news to say the least, but I will get up to date soon enough.

Enjoy today, have a BBQ, down a cold one and hang out with your family and friends.  I'll be in bed, but glad to be back!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Immigration Bill

You may or may not agree, but here are Jim De Mint's (R-S.C.) Top Ten Reasons to not pass the immigration bill.

1. Rewards Illegal Behavior with Clear Path to Citizenship and Voting Rights – Amnesty
· As noted by former Attorney General Ed Meese in the New York Times on May 24, 2006: “Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties.”

2. Creates Temporary Worker Program That is Neither Temporary Nor Work-Based · The bill’s guest worker program would allow millions of illegal immigrants to qualify for permanent green cards within four years. Additionally, the Senate approved Senator Kennedy’s amendment that each year would allow up to 200,000 immigrants who cross the border illegally and work just 6 days a year (including self employment) to qualify for a permanent green card.

3. Unprecedented Wave of Immigrants - 66 Million Over 20 Years
· This bill is estimated to skyrocket the number of immigrants, from its current level of 19 million over the next 20 years, to an unprecedented number. Heritage Foundation: “...[O]ur estimate of the number of legal immigrants who would enter the country or would gain legal status under S. 2611 … [would be] 66 million over the next 20 years.”

4. Insufficient Border Security
· The Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Isakson that would have prohibited the implementation of any guest worker program that grants legal status to those who have entered the country illegally until the Secretary of Homeland Security has certified to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.
· While the Senate adopted Senator Sessions’ amendment to increase “real fencing” by 370 miles and add 500 miles of vehicle barriers, the House passed a bill requiring at least 700 miles of “real fencing”, a more likely needed amount to secure the 2,000 mile long border.

5. Terrorist Loophole Disarms Law Enforcement
· Heritage Foundation reported May 24, 2006: “The Senate’s immigration reform proposal … would restrict local police to arresting aliens for criminal violations of immigration law only, not civil violations. The results would be disastrous. All of the hijackers on (9-11) who committed immigration violations committed civil violations. Under the bill, police officers would have no power to arrest such terrorists.”

6. Social Security Benefits, Tax Credits for Illegal Work
· The Senate rejected Senator Ensign’s amendment that would have prevented Social Security benefits from being awarded to immigrants for time that they worked illegally in the United States. If the immigration compromise bill before the Senate were enacted into law, an estimated 12 million illegal workers would be able to use their past illegal work to qualify for Social Security benefits.
· Provisions in S. 2611 would require newly legalized immigrants to file tax returns for work they performed while in the U.S. illegally. And while some would be required to pay back taxes, many others could qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has a maximum payout of $4,400 per year.

7. Costs Over $50 Billion A Year to Federal Government; States Foot The Bill for Immigrant Health Care
· Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation described the bill as a “fiscal catastrophe,” and has said the measure would prove to be the largest expansion of government welfare in 35 years. According to Rector, the bill would increase long-term federal spending by at least $50 billion a year.
· The Senate bill does not reimburse state and local governments for health care and education costs related to the millions of undocumented immigrants. While the underlying bill creates a state impact assistance account for future temporary workers, it is an unfunded account.

8. Hurts Small Business
· The Senate approved an amendment by Senator Obama extending Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” provisions for guest workers, but not American citizens, in all occupations covered by Davis-Bacon (currently limited to federally paid work). Small businesses would be forced to pay inflated wages to guest workers above the pay American citizens receive for performing the same work.

9. Gives Some Immigrant Workers Greater Job Protection Than American Workers · As reported by Robert Novak of Chicago Sun Times on May 24, 2006: “The bill supposedly would protect American workers by ensuring that new immigrants would not take away jobs. However, the bill's definition of ‘United States worker’ includes temporary foreign guest workers, so the protection is meaningless… Foreign guest farm workers, admitted under the bill, cannot be ‘terminated from employment by any employer ... except for just cause.’ In contrast, American ag workers can be fired for any reason.”

10. Weak Assimilation/English Requirements
· The Senate approved Senator Inhofe’s amendment to make English the national language and require those seeking citizenship to demonstrate English proficiency and understanding of U.S. History. However, a far weaker amendment by Senator Salazar gutted the Inhofe amendment, leaving it in doubt, and also giving immigrants the right to demand the federal government communicate with them in any language they choose.

Certainly some issues to think about.

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San Antonio

I had forgotten how hot it gets in May in Texas; thank God for air conditioning. Then again I'm catching a cold, so air conditioning is a bitch. On a lighter note, if there is one thing I love about "the Republic" is Tex-Mex food and Margaritas - and they were the two things I had as soon as I got to the hotel.

I'm a bit out of touch with the news because I'm at a conference; all I know is the Senate is to take a vote this week on the immigration issue and I'm very dissapointed with some of the measures they have voted down. I guess we just have to wait and see what happens, I just get the feeling that they are completely favoring businesses and ignoring the American people in this issue. Then again the American people live in a state of apathy that is beyond me - they care more about an anti-war effort than a domestic issue such as immigration.

I'll be here for a couple more days, I get back home Sunday night.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Chicago O'Hare Airport

Blogging from the food court of Concourse K as I await my connecting flight to San Antonio. Should arrive there around 3pm this afternoon and will be there through Sunday. I've checked and the hotel does have wireless, so I will be able to post from there.

I recommend you all check the comments in The Lost City post, in particular one of the last ones by a KOb.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ten Things I learned at Cuba Nostalgia...

After an exhausting 11 days in Miami visiting Mami, I'm now temporarily back home. Blogging will be light next 5 days, as I will be away at a conference. If the hotel has free wireless I'll be posting so do check in. For now, here are 10 Things I learned at Cuba Nostalgia.

1. Attending with your elderly Cuban parent is an exercise in patience, specially if said parent likes to complain. However, once said parent sees the El Encanto replica or hears the live music, everything changes and for the very first time you see a different glow in their face, a different spark in their eyes. (if you show them the little baby-t that says "My Grandparent is Cuban" also works)

2. Don't drink the Bacardí Mojitos, they are a sorry excuse. Drink the Hatuey beer instead. I swear, I still dream of the Mojitos of Larios at the Beach of days past. I wonder if there is still a good place in Miami for Mojitos.

3. You can get great coffee at the Café Pilón stand - ONLY at the cafe Pilón stand. 4. There is so much memorabilia, artesanías, cute things to buy that you better take some cash; it's hard to resist buying replicas of buildings in Havana, Cuban sayings, guayaberas, music, food and more. My favorite was Tiki's "Lista de Vinos Cubanos" - I'm still laughing! There is also much to learn from the El Encanto employees and from the B2506 - the veterans of the Bay of Pigs.

5. That Val from Babalú is taller and thinner than I thought, Ziva is one classy lady, Robert is a sweetheart, Henry reminds me of Dennis the Menace, Amanda is like your best friend, George is well, the Pitbull, and two of the Three Guys from Miami are a riot.

6. That my spouse would've loved to have been at Cuba Nostalgia, and I'm already planning a trip for us for next year. I'm talking back a Married to a Cuban pulover as a souvenir!

7. There is simply nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like a Rumba, Son, Danzón, Guagancó or any other Cuban rhythm. NOTHING. So bring cool clothes, your dancing shoes and a lot of energy!

8. Contrary to popular belief it is not only old guayabera clad Cubans attending; there are a lot of young guayabera clad Cubans - both female and male - in attendance, with their spouses, their partners, some with their parents, some without. Evidence that all generations long for a Cuba long gone, and for a Free Cuba for the Cubans to build.

9. This is how I want to grow old - be still with my spouse, be still dancing to Cuban rhythms with the joy and soul of a young teenager. Así da gusto llegar a viejo!

10. I am damn proud to be the daughter of Cuban parents, proud to be blogging about Cuba and I wouldn't change my heritage for all the money in the world. Viva Cuba Libre!

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Secure our Borders Now

President Bush's first priority in his speech was border security; yet the Senate did not think it was a priority. Neither did they agree with the Ensign ammendment. This is getting to be a joke in which apparently businesses and not voters are the priority of the Senate, and in which the government of Mexico is threatening to take legal action against the U.S. if any troopsmen seize and/or capture illegas.

Excuse me? Since when does Mexico tell the U.S. what it can't or cannot do in its own territory with its own military when protecting their own border? Mexico's government would do better trying to stop the corruption in their country, and providing jobs and education so millions of them don't have to leave.

If you are a citizen or legal resident and believe that our borders should be secured and no amnesty should be granted I have a great resource for your: They have put up the billboard you see here in Dallas, Atlanta and now Miami and plan to expand to other states. You can help sponsor one of these billboards.

They also have a petition you can sign online. The two non-negotiable arguments of the petition are border security and no amnesty. In addition they have five other arguments you can choose to sign or not. The goal is 500,000 signatures to deliver to the Senate, so far they have around 360,000. If this is something you believe in, get to it!

A more aggressive campaign, if you have $15 to spare, is to fax your senators' offices (both in-state and D.C.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee up to 30 total faxes. For $50, you can additionally fax the entire senate . Of course if you own a fax and don't mind the long distance you can do this from home.

Whatever your stance is, remember that at the very least as a nation we have a right and a duty to secure all our borders as we see fit. No one can or should tell us who can or cannot seize illegals entering our country.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Lost City

Yesterday, as I waited for a friend to pick me up for dinner, I had the urge to write. I didn't know what, or what about, I just had that urge to write. So, since I had my laptop, I just let it flow and this is what came out. I hope you enjoy it.

I look around the crowded Starbucks. Coño como hay gente! I think to myself. Its six in the afternoon and the place has been hustling and bustling for the past three hours. Who would’ve thought Starbucks would be such a success in Miami? But then again, with so many Colombians, Venezuelans and yes the Cubans all loving coffee so much, how couldn’t it? Como ha cambiado Miami. I remember coming here as a child and hearing Cuban Spanish. Now as I sit here in the Starbucks and listen in on the conversations at the other tables I can assure you I’m the only Cuban-American here. I thought Miami was supposed to be full of rabid Cubans crying over what they lost 47 years ago. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

In the seven days I’ve been here I’ve found none. I’ve encountered many passionate Cubans, and contrary to common belief not all of them are elderly sixty somethings playing dominoes and wearing guayaberas. The waitor at the restaurant where I had lunch was about thirty, a recent exile, and exhibited as much hate for Fidel as Armando Perez Roura does on Radio Marti. What could he have possibly lost if he was younger than the revolution? He had lost his freedom, his right to freely speak, his right to oppose a government which knows no boundaries to repress and oppress.

I went to see The Lost City with mami a week ago, and the theater was half full. To my surprise, most of the people in the theater were thirty or forty somethings – not the typical guayabera clad Miami Cuban. Mami and maybe one more couple, were the only ones there that could’ve known a pre-Castro Cuba. Yet all of them were enjoying the film, its story and its truth. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be watching a movie in a theater where everybody is ad libbing as the film progresses – every instance, every situation, every twist and turn. And you no what? No one, no one, was denying what was happening on the screen. You could hear the disgust when Che appeared the first time; you could sense the hate in the theater. No one cheered; not even when the summary executions were presented, not even when a former policeman was shown beaten and bloody.

Gasps could be heard when properties were taken away, and when the brigades showed up claiming the saxophone to be a symbol of The Empire. Gasps, hurt, passion. Not laughter, or joy. Yet these were people who grew up in the revolution, who only learned of a pre-Castro cuba from Castro himself. But people brave enough to either overstay their visas, pay a smuggler or thread water to find FREEDOM. And not just freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, or freedom to own property. But also the freedom to learn the true history of their own country; to take back everything that was taken from them, denied by a madman.

Yet there are people who embrace Fidel believing the myth of a peasant led revolution that ousted the rich and gave right to an oppressed mass. They are the ones who need a history lesson, so they can learn that the rebel army led by Fidel was packed by white rich college educated kids, as well as middle class kids and everyone who wanted Batista out. They don’t want to learn, that people in Cuba wanted Batista out. That the Directorio Universitario – not associated with the rebel army of the bearded - led an armed attack onto palacio on their own, because they wanted him out and wanted DEMOCRACY reinstated in the island. The rebellion was of a political nature, it was to again bring elections and an elected president instead of a power hungry and rights abuser dictator. Ironically, so much was the hate for Batista and tan fuertes las ganas de sacarlo that Cubans were not able to see beyond their noses, and were duped into supporting a tyrant. Who once in power, recanted all his promises including holding elections because "el pueblo ya escogio".

I’d like to see all those people who call Bush a Nazi, a tyrant, a dictator or even dare compare him to Hitler say such sandeces to a Holocaust suvivor, to the families of the thousands of desaparecidos under dictatorships such as Videla’s, Pinochet’s, Franco’s. They seem to conveniently forget that if Bush were all those things Cindy Sheehan, for starters, would be long dead, the Code Pink women would at the very least be political prisoners, and there would be no discussion of an immigration reform. We’d simply be hunting them down. After all, they would be considered invaders. They seem to conveniently forget that, as bad as Bush can be, in two more years we get to elect a new leader. Franco was in power for 30 years, Videla had to be taken down and Pinochet was duped into believing he could win a referendum. By the time Hitler was done with his short reign, he was responsible for more deaths than possibly all US led invasions combined. And these are the same people who place Fidel on a pedestal, and Cuba as the model to follow? Did they have too much acid in the 60’s or are they smoking something they aren’t sharing?

Someday the truth about Cuba will come out; someday people will be able to see that those rabid angry guayabera clad Cubans who have been fighting for 47 years were right. One day the world will awaken, and like with the Holocaust, have to deal with the guilt and the shame of having looked the other way, of having preferred to play blind because not seeing means that you can avoid the responsibility of doing something. Problem is, like with the Holocaust, history catches up with people. And they will end up being in the wrong side.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush's Immigration Speech

Update: The Senate rejects border-security first. Have they completely lost their minds?

Bush spoke tonight on immigration, and pretty much stuck to what Malkin had already published - recognizing problems with current immigration system, the fact that US has not been able to secure its border allowing illegals in to work using fraudulent documents, put pressure in schools nad medical systems and bring crime; yet the vast majority arre good hard working people, beyond the reach and protection of American laws.

He believes people come here for "the dream of freedom". He is wrong, immigrants come here for the dream of money not freedom.He supports comprehensive immigration reform to achieve the following 5 objectives:

1. The US must secure its borders, this is and urgent requirement and the right of a sovereign nation. Congress to provide funding for manpower and improvement 6k+ by 2008; technological advanced border security - fences, barriers, motion sensors, infrared, unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings. Immediate steps: use the National Guard up to 6k members, with Border Patrol in lead. Guard used for surveillance, fences, training...will not be involved in direct enforcement - this is for a year to be reduced as border patrol and technology increases. "Mexico is our neighbor and our friend" What? are you kidding me? They may be our neighbor but they are NOT our friend. Ensure that illegals crossing border are sent home - no matter where home is. Catch and release is unacceptable and will be ended - expanding retention facilities, expedite illegal process, and forcing foreing governments to take them back. How will they do this?

2. Create a temporary worker program - many people south of the border who will do anything to come here and work. Walls and patrols cannot stop, so this aims to stop inflow of illegals. Working for a limited amount of time; pass background checks and must return home - how exactly will we accomplish this?

3. Hold employers accountable - enforce the law; businesses cannot enforce b/c of document fraud so we must include document and eligibility requirements for legal workers - who's to say the biometric card cannot be fraudulent? what about the ACLU won't they start screaming about this? By when will the technology be in place? What will be the penalties for businesses who knowingly hire illegals?

4. Face the reality that they are here already and should not be given automatic path to citizenship. Amnesty would invite further waves of immigration - I agree. He disagrees with mass deportation - not wise nor realistic - rational middle ground: differences according to length of time here and have roots here and want to stay. Pay penalty, taxes, learn English work for number of years can apply for citizenship and wait in line behind those who followed the rules. Again, how will this be accomplished? See below for my comments on a tiered immigration bill.

5. Honor great american tradition of melting pot - newcomers need to assimilate. Ability to read and write English, respect Old Glory, English path to success - I couldn't agree with this more.

I listen to this, and I can't help but think back to what Newt Gingrich said Sunday on Meet the Press - a tiered system will only create an industry of fraudulent documentation as illegals scatter to prove they've been breaking the law for a long enough period of time. And he is right folks. No matter which side you are on, provisions need to be taken for this not to happen.

The president says this is not amnesty because they will pay their debt to society. However, if they accomplish their goal, if they get a residency or even citizenship after breaking the law how is this not amnesty? They broke the law and they are still rewarded with being legalized. If that is not amnesty, I don't know what is.

I propose that all those who get caught with fraudulent documents are deported and never allowed back in. After all, if you marry someone to get legal status and the BCIS discovers you, you are forever denied the right to be legal in the USA. How is presenting fraudulent documents different? Fraud is fraud.

Lastly, they keep talking about the guest worker program - but no one realizes that once they are legal to work, they will want better pay (as they should) and will not stand for being exploited. I believe this program might actually backfire, if wages do indeed go up since there will be more legal residents and/or citizens wanting to work for fair pay.

On the political side of things, I think our government should clearly state to Mexico: Butt Out! This is our country, our laws and our borders. We will conduct ourselves as we see fit. We don't tell you how to deal with your immigrants or protect your borders so don't tell us how to manage ours.

My only concern is that all this talk is about the south border, did someone forget we have a huge north border that no one is paying attention to?

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Madre solo hay una. There is only one mother. How true. But some of us are lucky to have had two. I will explain.

I had two very influential women in my life as did mami. Her mother passed away when she was in her late teens, so I never met my biological grandmother. Orphaned, she and her brother were taken in by their aunt and her husband- the only grandparents we ever knew.

Abuela, was a very special lady who taught me what it meant to be Cuban; to be proud of my heritage; the good and the bad of the Cuban culture. She was the head of the Cuban enclave that was my household with words like saya, trusa, boniato, tintoreria, peluqueria, frutabomba, perchero, ajuar, etc.

Mami is a very special woman as well, different than abuela but special within her own right. She has had a tough life, orphaned in the teens, abandoned by her father, a failed marriage, and a problematic son. Throught it all, although not without mistakes, she tried to be the best mother she knew how.

Abuela passed away nine years ago in July, hard to believe. I still miss her, I still dream with her - though not often. But I still think about her almost every day. Our last Mother's Day was a year before her passing. Mami will turn 72 this year, so she is no Spring chicken and I am aware our Mother's Day together are contados, especially since I no longer reside in Miami (and well she is renuente to visit us because in her mind we "abandoned" her).

Enjoy Mother's Day today, because you never know when it will be the last Mother's Day you are able to celebrate with them.

So to all Mothers, Grandmothers and those I like to call madres en potencia - all women not yet mothers but wanting to be - Happy Mother's Day!

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend Reading

For a long time now I've advocated for securing the border first before any immigration reform. Even more so, I also called for using the National Guard to do so if we didn't have enough border agents. It seems someone has advised the President to do exactly that.

If you are more of a visual person then I recommend you see these pictures taken by a dissident photojournalist, which depict the real Cuba not the one that tourist books portray. Oscar took them clandestinely and smuggled them out of Cuba through more than one person.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Drill for Oil Now...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Death of a Patriot

I was looking around for information on Eusebio Penalver, who died today - certainly there would be a wealth of information out there about this brave man who fought for democracy in Cuba.

He was a member of the rebel army that fought against the dictator Fulgencio Batista, and after realizing that Fidel would not follow through on his promise of free elections, democracy, a return to the 1940 constitution, free press and human rights, he joined the peasant army of Escambray Mountains and fought against Fidel.

I didn't find much information, but did find the pertinent facts about this little known political prisoner who was was the longest held black political prisoner in history - that's world history.

People of color are a majority in Cuba, and there's no Afro-Cuban exemption from Fidel Castro's totalitarianism. Blacks can't establish a Cuban NAACP, their own newspapers or Web sites, or criticize the white autocrat who suffocates their identity. If they want to leave Master Castro's plantation, they need a pass.

Black Cuban Eusebio Peñalver was an officer in the rebel army against Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship. He soon opposed Castro's new tyranny, participating in the peasant-based Escambray resistance.

Captured in 1960, Peñalver remained in prison until October 1988. In addition to physical torture, Castro's thugs would tell him, "Nigger, we brought you down from the trees and cut your tail!" Peñalver remarks, "That is, they were saying that Negroes were monkeys, that we were on trees and the revolution brought us down and made us persons and therefore we were their slaves."

In "Twenty Years and Forty Days," former prisoner of conscience Jorge Valls similarly recounts how guards would say to his black peers, "You nigger, how could you revolt against a revolution that is finally making human beings out of you?" Valls adds, "They always got more than their share of the beatings and bayonets."

Peñalver notes Castro's place in the constellation of tyrants: "There is no difference between the Cuban dictator and Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, or any of the dictators who have terrorized the peoples of the world."

Jackson and Sharpton protested Nelson Mandela's imprisonment, but I don't recall their solidarity for Eusebio Peñalver then or now.
Rest in Piece Eusebio, you fought an honorable fight. We will prevail.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Feeling Cuban....

As I walk out of the gate, Spanish humming behind me, the smell of fresh brewed Cuban coffee slaps me in the face. God I missed that smell. I breathe deeply, taking the aroma to my lungs, to my blood. All of a sudden I have this urge, this craving to have a cafecito.

As I get into Mami's car, a familiar voice greets me - Armando Pérez Roura and Radio Mambí, discussing the whole Vamos a Cuba book controversy, and how the superintendent of the schools had said that the pioneros cubanos were like boy scouts. I almost had a heart attack. They also mentioned a documentary, premiering today called Plantados - filmed in secret with a small digital camara at La Cabaña and Isla de Pinos. Today at 7pm at Casa Bacardí. I cannot wait to hear the reviews.

Mami mentions she wants to go see The Lost City, if I'm not too tired. Not at all, I tell her, I've been dying to see it too. So we are going tonight, and I will comment on it tomorrow.

We arrive at Havana Miami where I promptly order the soup of the day potaje de colorados, with the traditional pechuga de pollo a la plancha con tostones. The potaje, was to die for. I cannot remember when was the last time I had it; the calabaza melted in your mouth and the trozos de chorizo y jamón were exquisite. But the tostones ...... oh man, those tostones done with rodillo, huge, well seasoned, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside tostones.

Lunch is over and now it is time. The moment I've been waiting for since I got off the plane, I ordered a cortadito. Nice, brothy and color cartucho.

"¿Tiene azúcar?," I asked. "La del café," answered el mesero. Wonderful! But after so many months of Dunkin Donuts coffee, would it taste as good as I remember? I take a buchito through the espumita. Nice, boiling hot Cuban coffee - bitter and sweet at the same time; with a nice kick. Que rico.

Welcome to Miami.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Suicide in Cuba

Cuba may flaunt their "free" healthcare, low infant mortality rate and most recently length of life expectancy as "triumphs" of the rob-olution. But what The Bearded Stooge cannot flaunt is this - Cuba stands first in suicide rate.
According to the Basic Health Indicators of a 2005 report by the OPS, Cuba had an18,1 rate of suicides in each 100.000 inhabitants during the 2000-2005 period, far from the second place occupied by Uruguay with 15,9 and very far from countries like Peru with 2,3 and Guatemala with 1.9.
But why are Cubans committing suicide? Surely, the apologists will say, Cuba has always had a high suicidal rate. Wrong.
“By the hopelessness, the social atmosphere without horizons, a sort of collective depression that impels to escape via the suicide route”, assured to the New Herald a sociologist Cuban investigator who works for the ministry of Public Health.

The suicide phenomenon as social problem does not have a historical precedence in Cuba; the suicides in the island has varied clearly from the first years of the Republic, but with very inferior indexes from the present ones that go from 2,2 in 1907, to a 13,1 in 1957.

The suicide statistics in Cuba seem to have ties to the social political process of the country. Thus an analysis of the statistics at the beginning of the decade of 1960 sample shows the suicide index was between 10 and 8 for every 100.000 inhabitants, concretely a 10,2 in 1963 according to the World-wide Health Organization (the WHO), and soon shot to alarming 23,2 in 1982, two years after the Mariel exodus.
If things are so great in Cuba, why is the 25 - 45 YOUNG population, and mostly the men, committing suicide at such an alarming rate?

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

President until 2031

"I would call a national referendum to have the people decide if I can continue here indefinitely or if I have to go after six years," he said.
Those are the words of Venezuela's own Hugo Chavez who wants to change the constitution not only so he can run for re-election for a third term (should he win the 2nd term), but so he could continue unchallenged until 2031 - that's 25 years.

Before anyone says well if people vote him in......there is a difference between having to be elected for each term and knowing you are undisputed for 25 years. Personally, I think he saw that The Bearded Stooge has a net worth of $900 million dollars, is the seventh richest ruler in the world and got jealous.

I hope there are still people left in Venezuela who are in their right minds, and who will mobilize all the opposition and the independents to vote against such a measure if it ever comes to ballot. And I would hope that Jimmy Carter is nowhere near this.

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ACLU - at it again!

This time, they are opposing efforts to enforce immigration laws. Last time I checked, ACLU stood for American Civil Liberties Union. More and more they are turning into Anti-America Civil Liberties Union.

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Pandora's Box - Jukebox that is

I love technology, and I try to keep as up to date as pursuing a Ph.D. allows.

Via Pajamas Media, I just learned yesterday about Pandora, a website in which you can create your own music stations. Yup, your own. You tell them an artist or song you like, and they will create a station for you with music similar to the one you initially entered.

Everytime a song comes up, you can give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. If you approve, it will keep looking for similar music. If you disapprove, it eliminates that song and tries to avoid similar songs. And so the process goes, building up your station - er your Jukebox.

So, if you are like me, and like to listen to music while on the PC, but find iTunes slows your computer down, don't have the time to be inputting all your music or hate fiddling with CD's while on the PC - give Pandora a try. It's free, and different to Internet radio such as Yahoo's it's customized for you, by you. You just can't beat that.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Immigration Study

John Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican that sponsored the controversial HR4437 has released a report on immigration that well, helps prove his point - strong enforcement and tough sanctions can reduce illegal immigration.

"The study reports that 'illegal immigration is a worldwide problem' and that Japan and Switzerland are the most effective of those countries studied in enforcing their immigration laws. With all of the blustery rhetoric coming from opponents about a 'harsh' and 'draconian' House bill and the pontificating coming from foreign officials about how the U.S. should structure and enforce its immigration policies, I note that five out of the six countries studied -- including Mexico -- make illegal entry and unlawful presence a criminal offense. In reality, the House bill would bring U.S. immigration law more into line with most countries", added Chairman Sensenbrenner.
The Houston Chronicle also has news about the report. And for those of you who don't like Sensenbrenner, you will like this.

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As I Post this...

Update:  Well as we say in Spanish salí por la puerta! I have no clue how it would translate in English but let's just say, I'm done with that class and need now to concentrate on the paper/presentation combo for Monday!  Thanks to all of you for your support!

I'm walking out the door to take a final exam. Wish me Luck! And please Check out the comment section on the What if? post below. It is something to see!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What if?

Update: Previous link was erroneous. Link to video has been updated.

What if the KKK organized a protest/rally/march for immigration rights and reform? Would the MSM stay silent about their involvement? No.

Stuart Browning believes the same thing and has produced a video of what you won't see in the MSM - the leftists groups behind the immigration protest at San Francisco.

Now, if they are peacefully protesting why do they need to cover their faces? What are they hiding?

(H/T Babalu and Instapundit)

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Cuban Rafter News

Update: More Cubans arrive in PR than Dominicans

Arrested and sent back to the Dominican Republic, Cubans that attempted to land at La Mona island in Puerto Rico are denouncing mistreatment.

This week 74 Cubans were repatriated after attempting, unsuccessfully, to reach Florida.

In the Cayman, Dr. Luarca took up a Hunger Strike to denounce mistreatment of Cuban refugess by Cayman authorities, in particular a boat ramming incident on April 27th.

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Ladies in White

Being a dissident in Cuba is not an easy job. It takes guts and balls. And if you are a woman, well it takes resolve. Such is the resolve the Ladies in White have - a group of women who are the wives of political prisoners.

Every Sunday they march wearing white t-shirts with the photograph of their husbands stenciled in. Every Sunday on their way to Mass and on their way back. Public dissent pays a price.

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Drama Queen

Today is the fourth day that Puerto Rico is shut down due to a financial crisis and a stalemate between the House and the Governor on what should be done. The Governor has said that he will approve nothing less than his proposed plan - a loan of $531 million dollars from the Government Bank and a sales tax of 7%. And he finds nothing better than to stage a drama West Wing style literally.

Legislators are accusing Governor Anibal Acevelo Vila of copying an episode of the NBC drama The West Wing, in his march yesterday from the Governor's Mansion to the Capitol. The episode showed Martin Sheen, as the President of the United States, dramatically marching towards the Capitol after a three day stoppage in the country. In the episode "the President" is facing an unpopular moment with a government in crisis and closed government offices. He even greets tourists much like the Governor did, and walks all the way up to the office of the Speaker of the house.

Legislators, already insulted by the continued blame on behalf of the Governor, have accused Anibal Acevelo Vila of treating the crisis (or should we say milking the crisis) as a spectacle in order to reverse public opinion and make the situation out to be about good guys and bad guys. He of course is the "good guy" and his plan the perfect solution.

Bear in mind in Puerto Rico there is no sales tax. There is an excise tax of 6.6% imposed on certain incoming products, but this is transparent for the consumer. The price you see on a product is the price you pay. Now the governor wants the people to pay 7% more on everything - as if things weren't already expensive enough in PR.

In addition Puerto Rico has extremely high state income tax - so people would be faced with literally less disposable income if this measured is approved; seven percent less to be exact. While you may be saying, "well that's how it is in the States", Puerto Ricans average income is much less than in the states while the cost of living is equal and in some cases rising. So a 7% reduction in your income is a BIG DEAL.

I don't have a solution for this deficit created in the past six years, where both PPD administrations have been in government, and where utilities have almost doubled in their charges to consumers. However, a loan is not the solution; that's only a patch. Major reform is needed so the island won't fall into a $740 million dollar deficit and $1billion dollar debt. Where agencies have to be closed down including the Public Education system. Why the governor is so insistent in a loan is beyond me; they need to look at long term solutions not at patches.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Moussaoui Sentenced

Via ABC News Moussaoui gets life without parole. Although I am against the death penalty, I was hoping the jury would send a message and sentence him to death.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Common Sense the Newt Gingrich Way

I don't have a solution for the illegal aliens situation our country is going through. Amnesty is not the answer, is not fair and won't solve any problems. But what to do with all the illegals already here, is it feasible to deport all 12 million of them?

Newt has a plan. We may all not agree with his plan, but I have to admit, this is so far the mot common sense I've seen anyone say. Here are the highlights, but I recommend you alos read his plan in detail.

1. Gain Complete Control of the Border and Coasts
2. Enforce the Law - and this includes withdrawing federal funds from cities and states who choose not to
3. Use Technology to Keep Track of Who Enters the Country
4. Establish a Worker Visa Program
5. Zero Tolerance for Amnesty - As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put it so eloquently in a Los Angeles Times op-ed on March 28, “We can embrace the immigrant without endorsing illegal immigration. Granting citizenship to people who are here illegally is not just amnesty ... it's anarchy. We are a country of immigrants, yes. But we are also a nation of laws. People who want to be citizens will want to do it the right way.”
5a. Amnesty Will Lead to Greater Illegal Immigration.
5b. Amnesty is an Injustice to Those Who Are Complying with U.S. Immigration Law
5c. Amnesty Undermines the Rule of Law
5d. Amnesty Discourages Political and Economic Reform in Migrant’s Home Countries
5e. Amnesty Hides The True Number of Individuals Offered the Opportunity For Permanent Legal Immigration Due to Increased Eligibility to Bring In Additional Family Members
5f. Amnesty Will Fail to Stop the Marginalization of Individuals in Society
6. Dramatically Increase H1B and H2B Visas
7. Deportation Law Reform - removal within 72-96 hours
8. Citizenship Reform
Specific assimilation reform measures should include:
Returning to English language ballots, to a focus on English language literacy as a prerequisite of citizenship, to an insistence that U.S. dual citizens vote only in the United States and give up voting in their birth nations; These were principles widely understood and accepted for most of American history and they enabled us to absorb millions of immigrants and assimilate them and their children into an American civilization;

Enforcing the Oath of Allegiance (and making its understanding and affirmation part of the citizenship test, including specific programs to study for the citizenship test emphasizing American heroes, including military heroes); Focusing federal funds on teaching American history and the principles of American civilization;

Rescinding Executive Order 13166 requiring multilingualism in federal documents; an
Maintaining English as the primary language of America. English is not and never has been the only language in America. We have a long tradition of people speaking many languages in their local community and with other immigrants. But English has been and should remain our primary language. There should be a National Program for English Instruction that is modeled after the highly successful “Ulpan Studies” program in Israel. This would provide highly intensive English and American history and civics training for new immigrants so that they can have the practical skills to participate in every day American life and become employed. To encourage participation, immigrants would be incentivized with a reasonable stipend. Other benefits could include a shortening of the naturalization period for successful completion of the course.

And before anyone says anything about illegals not depressing the wage and doing jobs Americans don't do let me tell you a story. My spouse works at a supermarket and today a trucker arrived complaining. When asked what he was complaining about he stated that as a trucker he gets paid by the mile, and now a lot of Mexican illegals had come in and the price of the mile was down to 25 cents. The trucker, is Puerto Rican - American citizen, doing a job he wants to do but in which the pay has been depressed by illegal workers.

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