Friday

US government funding another anti-Castro social network in Cuba


ZunZuneo, the so-called 'Cuban Twitter,' was reported in April but actually closed in 2012. Now meet Piramideo, a mobile network aimed at young people.


The US government is using a sophisticated cell phone program in a failed effort to spark anti-Castro demonstrations on the island, according to Cuban officials and a US expert.

The US Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) sponsors a cell phone service called "Piramideo" (roughly translated as Pyramid), which spreads propaganda through text messages, according to Nestor Garcia, a former Cuban diplomat who now teaches at the Institute for International Relations in Havana.

"My students started getting text messages on their cell phones with news reports about demonstrations that never happened," Garcia said. "The US is trying to create a climate to protest against the Cuban government."

Piramideo, which has received little media coverage, is just one skirmish in an internet war between the American and Cuban governments, included ZunZuneo, a Twitter-like program secretly backed by USAID from 2010-12. USAID contractors developing ZunZuneo discussed plans to spark anti-government demonstrations.  

Read the rest 
Source:  GlobalPost 

Wednesday

Raúl receives directors of the WHO and PAHO


Monday, July 14: Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, met with Dr. Margaret Chan,  director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), during their visit to Cuba to attend the inauguration of the new Centre of State Control of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Devices; and National Coordinating Centre of Clinical Trails, headquarters.

During the fraternal meeting, they discussed aspects relating to the WHO 67th World Health Assembly, held May 2014, in Geneva and presided by Cuba; The Millennium Development Goals; the post 2015 development agenda, as well as, global health coverage. They also talked about the collaboration Cuba offers to other countries, human resource training and the global health situation, in particular in the Americas.

U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting pays foreign journalists to defame Cuba

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U.S. journalist Tracey Eaton has documented the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) payments of almost $700,000, over eight years,  to journalists and other opinion molders in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America in return for their dissemination of anti-Cuban propaganda. The object, he suggests, has been an "attempt to shape international opinion." Eaton's report garnered considerable attention in Cuba.

Taking data from the Federal Procurement Data System, Eaton reports that the taxpayer-funded OCB project paid out $122,435 in 2008, nothing over the next two years, $41,890 in 2011, $198,477 in 2012, $189,055 in 2013, and $112,985 so far in 2014. He notes that, "Average payments [to individuals] jumped from $866.71 in 2012 to $1,643.96 in 2013. They have continued to rise in 2014, averaging $2,054.27 so far this year."

Earlier Eaton had shown that the OCB paid "$6,781,861.30 to writers, artists, journalists, analysts and others from Jan. 15, 2001, to Nov. 21, 2012." That money was funneled to Cuba through "venders" mostly in Southern Florida. "I suspect," he added, "that only a tiny fraction of this money reaches journalists and others in Cuba."

That OCB provides the names of recipients is an approach, Eaton says, that differs from that of the Agency for International Development which does not identify anti-Cuban agents in its employ. He indicates that "the OCB is an important and growing force" among U.S. agencies carrying out anti-Cuban activities.

Tracey Eaton
The OCB has paid Florida based journalists to disseminate anti-Cuban material in that state, thus "violating the law against domestic dissemination of U.S. propaganda," according to one critic. OCB-funded prejudicial newspaper reports and television presentations flooded the Miami-area media market during the trial of the Cuban Five anti-terrorist agents that ended in 2001. That became the central issue in the late stages of appeals on behalf of those political prisoners.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), based in Miami, operates Radio and Television Marti, charged with broadcasting U.S. propaganda messaging to Cuba. Cuba successfully blocks such transmissions, although they reach southeastern United States and many parts of Latin America. The OCB budget for 2014 was $27 million.

In February Eaton, using data from FedsDataCenter.com, noted that, "the Office of Cuba Broadcasting has lavished big salaries on its employees in Miami. Its 119 employees earned an average of $99,275 in 2012. Their salaries totaled $11,813,725, which was 42 percent of the OCB's $27.9 million budget." He adds: "Salaries for the advisory board alone totaled $728,505. Appointments are for three years and members may serve multiple terms."

The list of OCB employees appearing on Eaton's report includes Feliciano M. Foyo who received $145,701 in 2012. Foyo, an accountant, was one of five employees with a "Job Category" calling for "Miscellaneous Administration and Program." Luis Posada-Carriles, implicated in deadly terror attacks against Cuba, "has said Foyo was one of his financial backers," according to Eaton.

As their names signify, almost all OCB employees are of Hispanic heritage. That they work in Miami, epicenter of Cuban resettlement in the United States, suggest Cuban national origins. Asked for his reaction to what looks like U.S funding for an exclusively Cuban-American counter-revolutionary project, Steve Burke of the Maine Cuba solidarity group Let Cuba Live suggested looking for answers in Washington. "Taxpayer money is being used to malign and to undermine a sovereign state. Cuba incurred the wrath of the U.S. government by maintaining a steadfast commitment to the health and well being of the Cuban people."

U.S. says Cuba still a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”

According to the State Department, "U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by Apr. 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation." Beginning in 1982 the list has included Cuba as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism." Others this year are Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

The 2013 "Country Reports on Terrorism" specifies that "a wide range of sanctions" be applied to targeted countries. (report) They include prohibition of U.S. arms exports and economic assistance, "controls" over exports and services with potential military or terrorist use, and "[i]mposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions." The last category serves to authorize U.S. government harassment of Cuba through economic blockade, travel restrictions, and restrictions placed upon Cuba-related transactions by international banks and lending agencies.

The Report charges that, "Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)." And, it adds, "The Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States."

Activist Assata Shakur, who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1979 and arrived in Cuba in 1984, is the most well-known fugitive. On May 2, 2013 the FBI placed her on "its list of most wanted terrorists" and increased the reward for information leading to her capture to the current $2 million.

The Report's Cuba section continues with mitigating considerations. "Throughout 2013, the Government of Cuba supported and hosted negotiations between the FARC and the Government of Colombia aimed at brokering a peace agreement between the two." And, "Cuba's ties to ETA have become more distant," and that about eight of the two dozen ETA members in Cuba "were relocated with the cooperation of the Spanish government." Furthermore, "There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups."
Read the NZ Cuban Embassy media release 
“Cuba says its territory will never be used by terrorists”

Cuba's Foreign Ministry responded by denouncing "manipulation of an issue as sensitive as international terrorism, in order to advance a policy against Cuba." Additionally, "Cuba reaffirms that our national territory has never been utilized, nor will it be utilized, to shelter terrorists of any nationality... Moreover, our government rejects and unequivocally condemns all acts of terrorism."

And: "Cuba is one of the countries which, for defending its independence and dignity, has suffered over decades the consequences of terrorist acts, organized, financed and executed from U.S. territory, acts which have caused 3,478 deaths and 2,099 debilitating injuries." The Foreign Ministry condemned U.S. hypocrisy evident in "long, unjust prison sentences" imposed on Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. They had "struggled against terrorism."

The Ministry pointed out that no U.S. fugitive was accused of terrorism."[O]thers who committed crimes in the United States, were duly tried and sentenced, and chose to reside in Cuba after the completion of their sentences."

Other critics of the Report accuse the United States itself of carrying out terrorism in the form of drone attacks, torture, illegal wars, and violence used in overthrowing foreign governments.


One tiny example from Colombia provides clear insight into contradictions posed by the U.S. approach to terrorism. The Report, which exonerates Colombia as a terrorist nation, seems to pass off Colombian paramilitaries as members of the terrorist "United Self Defense Forces of Colombia" (AUC). Lauding Colombian government initiatives, the Report notes that "the group's activities decreased ...The AUC did not carry out any terrorist attacks in 2013. It has been demobilized for seven years."

In truth, Colombian paramilitaries are now officially known as "Bacrims." That's the Spanish-language abbreviation of "criminal bands." Meanwhile paramilitaries, or Bacrims, remain true to their decades - long record of having murdered or "disappeared" tens of thousands of Colombians. The Colombian military, benefitting from U.S. funding and assistance, superintends their murderous work which began in 1964. A visiting U.S. military advisory team that year recommended paramilitary capabilities being developed as a tool for ridding Colombia of the newly-formed FARC communist insurgency.

The recent 318-page State Department Report applies to all nations in the world and contains more than 159,000 words. The section on Canada, no terrorist nation, consumed 2233 words. Yet the rationale for Cuba being an offender nation - no small matter - required only 176 words. And many are friendly words. Why then is Cuba regarded as a terrorist-sponsoring nation? Maybe it's just because the U.S. government says so. Or else it's because of Assata Shakur.


















Friday

Havana: MayDay 2014



























Thursday

Cuban artists and writers are confident in the Revolution’s cultural policy


The 8th Congress of the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) opened Friday, April 11, at Havana’s Convention Center, with the participation of José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Party Central Committee and a vice president of the Councils of Ministers and State; Miguel Díaz–Canel Bermúdez, member of the Party Central Committee Political Bureau and Vice President of the Council of Ministers and State; Julián González Toledo, minister of Culture; Abel Prieto, advisor to the President of the Councils of State and Ministers; Miguel Barnet, president of the Congress organizing committee; and more than 300 delegates from around the country, representatives of national associations and provincial UNEAC committees. 

Making the inaugural comments during the first plenary session, Barnet began by saying that Cuba’s artists and writers had arrived at the 8th Congress "with confidence in our principles and the Revolution’s cultural policy." 

Read the rest 

Friday

Still think Mr Cross is innocent?

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USAID exposed (again) as agent of disruption 

The Associated Press broke news this morning that the U.S. Agency for International Development created a Twitter-like text messaging service in order to collect the phone numbers of Cuban citizens, without informing them of the intent of the service, and then send out messages meant to undermine Cuba's government and stir unrest on the island.

The service call - ZunZuneo -- slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet - collects the  phone numbers from unknowing Cubans, without informing them of the subversive intentions of this covert service. 

The Center for Democracy in the Americas has set up a petition telling  President Obama that it's time to end the detrimental regime change policy and to engage proactively with Cuba.





Coverage from the Guardian