Thursday, December 21, 2006

BOLIVIA, NYT: Evo Scares The Beejezus Out Of The Mennonites

Relics of by-gone societies square off against each other in the tropics.


MANITOBA, Bolivia, Dec. 19 — With its horse-drawn buggies, farmhouses with manicured lawns and fields planted to the horizon with soybeans and sorghum, this Mennonite settlement in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands feels like a tropical version of rural Ohio or Pennsylvania.



That placid impression lasts until farmers here start talking about their fears of President Evo Morales’s plans for land reform.

One year into an administration that intends to reverse centuries of subjugation of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, Mr. Morales has plans to redistribute as many as 48 million acres of land, considered idle or ill gotten through opaque purchase agreements, to hundreds of thousands of peasants.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ha Ha

Back after a refreshing little vacation. Well not quite, tend not to blog during election season -- politics overload.

Well finally, the bottom fell out of the Republicans. While South Florida Reps had their own meltdown, the national party imploded quite spectacularly.

Its not only the sheer incompetence and arrogance of the Bush White House's mess in Iraq, it was the downfall of the political machinery that had become quite greedy and corrupt.

Thank God.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Music: Los Abandoned Get Major Media Props

Los Abandoned (Es Muy Nice) By GUSTAVO ARELLANO
LA WEEKLY
****************************************************

Pop-punk is so L.A. BUZZ BANDS
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Friday, August 25, 2006

Light Blogging This Week

Been extremely busy and had guests....back nxt week

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Weekend At Boli's: 70's Power Rock

Whatever Happened to the 2,3, 4 minute catchy guitar-rock tune?  The one that sounds great played in a small club, huge arena, or on your car radio (or Ipod)?  Well some oldies but goodies... 

Buzzcocks - What Do I Get
  The buzzcocks!!!  dude they rock!!!
.. >
..>

The Clash - Clash City Rockers..Enough Said...... 
.. >..>

Cheap Trick 1970's TV....
Rockford Illinois favorite sons at the height of their powers on a rare live TV appearance doing "Ain't That A Shame"
.. >..>

Cheap Trick...  Want You To Want Me... This is a really good sounding, really old,  live clip, very close to the "Live In Budokan" version released as the single...
.. >

The Cars - Just What I Needed
From the Cars Debut Album..."Just What I Needed".The late Ben Orr singing lead instead of Mr. Porizkova.
.. >..>
..
Ramones-Pinhead GABBA GABBA HEY..The chant of circus freaks..... Classic Ramones.... Pinhead..
.. >..>
The Clash - Tommy Gun More Clash Damnit...One of my favorite clash songs of all times
.. >..>

The Police Classic Police.Early video.."I Can't Stand Losing You."
.. >..>


The Police - So Lonely (Beat Club 1978) The Police Live, from their first album..
..>..>


Van Halen live '79 Dance The Night Away Definitively "not Van Hagar!" 'David Lee and the boys crank out their hit  fromVH II
.. >..>

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

USA: RANT, Are We Becoming A Nation Of Idiots??



Check this item Current events dwarfed by pop culture... from Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Snow White's seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices, according to a poll on pop culture released on Monday.

According to the poll by Zogby International, commissioned by the makers of a new online game on pop culture called "Gold Rush," 57 percent of Americans could identify J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard as Harry Potter while only 50 percent could name the British prime minister,Tony Blair

The pollsters spoke to 1,213 people across the United States. The results had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

Just over 60 percent of respondents were able to name Bart as Homer's son on the television show "The Simpsons," while only 20.5 percent were able to name one of the ancient Greek poet Homer's epic poems, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."

Asked what planet Superman was from, 60 percent named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37 percent knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.

Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges -- Larry, Curly and Moe -- than the three branches of the U.S. government -- judicial, executive and legislative. Seventy-four percent identified the former, 42 percent the latter.
Twice as many people (23 percent) were able to identify the most recent winner of the television talent show "American Idol," Taylor Hicks, as were able to name the Supreme Court Justice confirmed in January 2006, Samuel Alito

MY TAKE:

I saw the scariest thing on CNN the other day, a biographer of Bin Laden talked about the terror leaders 1998 fatwa (a pronouncement) declaring it a duty of his followers to kill any American, - including civilians. In his evil mind since we freely elect our leaders, we the people of the United States are responsible for anything our government does abroad.

It doesn't matter what your politics are, most of us can agree that who we vote for can be a life and death issue. So then how the hell can we elect decent leaders if most of us don't even have a damn clue? Besides not knowing about what goes on in the world, we don't know how our government is run, who runs it, and our own countries history.

There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of stupidity. I have lived in country's where people are ignorant because they don't have enough to eat, and kids are forced to go to work instead of going to school. Here in the US of A we are so rich our poor people are overweight, and everyone finishes high school.

Americans get awfully political, and pretty informed as soon as there is a crisis, a national disaster, or something hits close to home. Then its time to get elected representatives to act quickly, while we moan and whine about how horrible and crooked politicians are. In the end its the people to blame are the voters and not the politicians. Basically we get what we deserve for being uninformed.

We need to learn this stuff people! The basics have to be taught in school. And even us adults can benefit from leafing through a high school civics or history textbook. To keep up with current events, all you need is to pick up a damn newspaper and spend five to ten minutes leafing through the news section, or at least watch real news like the BBC. And parents should make sure their kids read the papers and follow the news here. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, several generations of imbeciles are enough; no more Dopey's here.

US, Middle East: Triumph Of Unrealism, George Will Call Out Dubya

Starting in Lebanon
Will first of all is dismissive of anything the U.N. might do to enforce the peace in Lebanon after decades of silliness.

Regarding force now, the U.N. merely "expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements" of the U.N. force that for 28 years has been loitering without serious intent in south Lebanon.

Which Brings Us To The Rest Of The Region

The "new Middle East," the "birth pangs" of which we supposedly are witnessing, reflects the region's oldest tradition, the tribalism that preceded nations.The faux and disintegrating nation of Iraq, from which the middle class, the hope of stability, is fleeing, has experienced in these five weeks many more violent deaths than have occurred in Lebanon and Israel

OUCH!!!

Law Enforcement Vs. Invading 3rd Countries And Regime Change

The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.

George Gets Tough on George
While John Kerry brought this point up in the 04 campaign, Republican figures around the administration make a point of being dismissive. Will quotes one such figure who said "[Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work." Will then goes off on it:

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."

The official is correct that it is wrong "to think that somehow we are responsible -- that the actions of the jihadists are justified by U.S. policies." But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that. It is more dismaying that someone at the center of government considers it clever to talk like that. It is the language of foreign policy -- and domestic politics -- unrealism.

Foreign policy "realists" considered Middle East stability the goal. The realists' critics, who regard realism as reprehensibly unambitious, considered stability the problem. That problem has been solved.


Harsh, but pretty much on point.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

BOLIVIA, EVO WATCH: Evo Sings Happy Birthday To Castro, Wants Casro-Like Constitution For Bolivia.



Evo Sings While Bolivia Boils

While the bedridden Cuban tyrant, was subjected to the horrors coming from Hugo Chavez mouth,
El Herald reports that Evo Morales belted out his own rendition of Feliz Cumpleanos (Happy Birthday) dedicated to the octogenarian Communist dictator. Evo's backup chorus: about a thousand coca growers gathered at the inaguration of hospital.
Meanwhile just about everything else in the Evo-Government seems to be going to hell:
Fear Of An Aymara Planet?
A draft of the proposed Evo-Constitution has been leaked, the full text is here. The inspiration of Chavez and the ailing fossil he was babysitting in Havana are all over it. Arguably it even goes beyond Chavismo, its stupidity is simply astounding.

The preamble openly states the aim of establishing "communal and socialist" rights, and declares its opposition to "imperialism" and "colonialism." It eliminates the executive, legislative and executive, replacing it with five "popular" powers, vaguely including native peoples - who are already granted self-rule under municipal law. Further, in rather Orwellian terms the Evo Constitution, "recognizes" freedom of expression so long as it "conforms to the ends of a socialist and communitarian society." It seems to allow for expropriation of any real or personal property, under any circumstance the government sees fit - subject to "due indemnization."

While this neo-totalitarian project was being cooked up by whatever dinasours and idiots who drafted it, the Evo-Government was playing dirty trying to change rules. Under their proposed scheme any substantive item in the constituent assembly needed only a bare majority to be approved. That on top of the Evo government attempting to give the Constituent assembly all-encompassing powers, to the point where he was asked if he would give up the government.

This government lied, its campaign literature did not go so far. Fortunately their incompetence is catching up with them, and this project might not go too far.

CUBA, CASTRO CORPSE WATCH: Comeback Corpse poses with Chavez


It Lives....
Granma now published other pictures of Castro with Raul and Chavez, titling it "An Afternoon Among Brothers." according to AFP. The B.B.C. further quotes the Granma article, saying the meeting was termed "Three Hours of Emotional Exchange" the "photos show gifts being exchanged and the two leaders eating what Granma called a "frugal snack".

Simon Bolivar Slept Here
.
Included in the gifts that Chavez brought Fidel are valuable pieces belonging to Simon Bolivar. One wonders if this was done with full consent of the Venezuelan government. Think of Bush giving away one-of-a-kind articles once owned by George Washington.

Cuba's Fidel Castro turns 80 unseen, but still making waves

The New York Times story, reprinted in the Detroit News here, pretty much says that the system does not necesarilly hang on "one man." And it seems that Castro is gone from power:

Castro made no vows to return to office. Julia Sweig, an expert on Cuba at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan organization, predicted he would not. But rather than making an abrupt departure from power, she said, Castro has begun a drawn-out campaign aimed at keeping the country stable while aides quietly work out the details of the nation's first transition in recent history.


Raul Finally Appears
Also noteworthy according to AFP was Raul Castro finally making his appearance.

Original Appearance

Basically the messageas set out Sun-Sentinel
HAVANA--On his 80th birthday, Fidel Castro cautioned Cubans on Sunday that he faced a long recovery from surgery and advised them to prepare for ``adverse news,'' as the Communist Youth newspaper published the first photographs of the leader since his illness.
Text of Fidel Castro's message from the Newspaper Rebel Youth, as translated by The Miami Herald.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Vote For FOB ( Friend Of Boli) Marc Miller

Allright, one of my buddies, Marc Miller, an American who races in Canada's CASCAR series, is in the running to get onto a reality show, "Racin For A Livin." Contestants need to get voted on to make the show at the web site. and today the voting is up. So go ahead and vote for the guy.

As of now - Marc desperately needs your help to get into the top 5!! So please don't sit in neutral and wait until it is too late! Just click on the banner below and VOTE VOTE VOTE!

Vote Marc Miller
Racing For A Livin

Marc is good people, if you are at the Champ Car race in Montreal, stop by the CASCAR paddock and say hi to him, tell him Boli also says hi.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Miami: Vamos A Cuba, Goes International - More Shame On City As The Economist Weighs In

The Economist, that very English model of sober analysis and dry wit, has taken a look at the absurd drama with Vamos A Cuba here in Miami. Cuban-Americans, Let's ban a book on Cuba Gotta love the Brits for cutting to the chase and pretty much showing how stupid this whole thing is:


THE book looks as jolly and innocuous as any other children's travel guide, and its 32 pages offer no obvious horrors. “People in Cuba eat, work, and go to school like you do,” reads one. Cubans enjoy eating chicken with rice. Cuba's beaches “are good for swimming and boating.” The cover shows laughing children against a rich blue sky. Only a second look reveals that they are all wearing the neck-scarves of Fidel Castro's Young Pioneers.

And that is quite enough. In Miami, a city that this week celebrated the news of Mr Castro's frailty and temporary handover with fireworks and wild dancing, “Vamos a Cuba” (“A Visit to Cuba”) is poison to some. Not only does it paint too rosy a picture of Cuba—suggesting that chicken is a staple, rather than a luxury, and implying that Cuba's best beaches are for Cubans, rather than for dollar-bearing foreigners—but it also sows alarming seeds of tolerance in the minds of the young. Although it has sat on library shelves for several years, a cry has gone up to get rid of it.

OUCH!!

And Franky B. gets his nod:

Critics of the ban say it can be neatly linked to the upcoming election season, and a nasty fight that is brewing between two Republicans. One of the figures at the heart of the controversy is an aspiring Republican state legislator, Frank Bolaños, who is running against a fellow Cuban-American to represent Miami-Dade in Tallahassee. Mr Bolaños also sits on the school board. Three other board members who voted against the book are running for re-election to the board. “It was only when the politicians got involved that the books were removed,” says JoNel Newman, the ACLU's lawyer.


Our own, "alternative" weekly, the Miami New Times weighs in on the controversy Commie Book Ban, Vamos a Cuba has become an unlikely political lightning rod by Rob Jordan. Actually it is somewhat milder in tone, and a somewhat even-handed, -if not sympathetic-, portrait of some of the characters involved. The original father who raised the complaint, spent years in Castro's dungeons, some of the exiles involved in the campaign come across as far more complex characters than the intolerant loudmouth stereotype. But, there is enough intolerance hinted at, as when an unfortunate high school student finds himself the target of angry exiles for daring to question the decision to remove the book.

And the article, does cut down on just how silly this whole thing is, by pointing out some very basic facts everyone here seems to forget:


Their oppressor is a 32-page book from the Vamos series, which had been in Miami-Dade public school libraries for five years before anyone complained. During that time, no one had questioned why Vamos a Colombia fails to mention decades of kidnappings by leftist guerrillas or why Vamos a China omits any mention of the millions who starved during Mao's Great Leap Forward.

Ding, ding, we have a winner!!!! Normally sensible people in this city have been making some of the stupidest arguments to justify censoring what ends up being a silly book.

How is this for irony?

(On April 4, the day Amador filed his complaint, Miami's national book-reading campaign, the Big Read, opened; the book chosen for mass consumption was Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, the story of a future totalitarian state where books are banned and burned by the government.)

Of course, the perenially indignant will not get it, and find another excuse to ban the damn book.

Exile politics comes up real quick. Particularly nasty were the loudmouths on local talk radio, who trashed one Nicaraguan-born council woman for not getting in line:

Ana Rivas-Logan voted to allow a review process instead of an immediate ban, she found herself targeted by Radio Mambí, a popular station among hard-line exiles. Rivas-Logan, who was born in Nicaragua after her family fled Cuba in 1960, paraphrased one commentator's advice to listeners: "Let's not forget, when it comes to election time, that Ms. Rivas-Logan is Nicaraguan." Other board members who voted to review rather than ban the book were labeled Communist and anti-Cuban.

Talk about an authoritarian streak!!! These idiots should shut their yaps if they are going to talk about censorship in Cuba, because they are hardly paragons of libertarianism.

Frank Bolaños of course gets prominent mention. Our man Frank, is described as being somewhat "innocuous" looking at first site and is accorded the status of a political novice, but "not one to shy away from the limelight." Lurking closely behind Mr. B., according to the article, is political consultant Michael Caputo, an experienced operator with ample experience in big campaigns. Seems like some heavyweights are throwing Franky B. some major support, specially if they bring in an old pro like Caputo. Caputo of course, shamelessly pimps this loser issue, but as a political consultant he knows it is political gold. All that brinkmanship involved in making the whole process as public and confrontational as possible is probably Caputo strategy and Bolaños acting the shameless pandering part to a T.

So much for the dominant political part, that in of itself, should make this a moot issue. Hey people, you are being manipulated by politicians! But it cuts beyond that. As The Economist points out delicately, this whole thing is going on at the same time as Castro's succession becomes a real issue. Does no one in this damn town have a fucking clue how HYPOCRITICAL it is to CENSOR -and make all sorts of inane arguments in favor of - CENSORING a child's book, all in the name of fighting a regime that CENSORS???? You can not claim to be fighting for soomeone else's freedom when you would gladly restrict freedom here. Its that damn simple. QUIT BEING STUPID!!!

Lebanon, Israel, US Policy: Random Thoughts On A Middle Eastern Disaster


Random thoughts


Israel finally figured out they needed to go clear out the caves and bunkers... Great, nice try. An American Muslim panelist on a Fox Show said it perfectly: U.S. Marines didn't rely on bombing in Fallujah, they went in and took the damn town.

So the Israeli's took the high ground all the way to the Litani River. Hello? You are three weeks too late.

The Generals and politicians are yelling at each-other in Israel. Sounds like some Generals were giving spotty advice. Bombing does not work on well dug-in ground troops. See Okinawa, Cu-Chi, Iwo-Jima, and the Atlantic Wall.

However much Nasrallah talks, his people still got the hell knocked out of them for a month. They have two U.N. declarations calling for their disarmament hanging on them. Don't automatically chalk this one up in the "W" column, despite any political gains.

Israel operates on a military job timetable that ends: till they get the job done or till they kill enough civilians revolting the rest of the world, to the point where even the U.S. has to call em out. Kind of a sick equation if you think about it

In the end for the U.S. the equation should have been: was endangering Lebanese democracy and destroying its infraestructure worth giving Israel a month to try to destroy Hizbullah and weakening Iranian proxies on the border?

Talk about double standards! The Arab "street" suffers from massive denial and a kind of moral blindness when dealing with Israel and the U.S.. The same folks who embrace suicide bombers get all bent out of shape when Israeli rockets hits civilian homes. At this point, I am so cynical about it I call it the "Arab-Islamic standard of aggrievement" = take any real atrocity multiply it by hate-Israel-and-the-West factor of three, put it through an eggshell-thin sensitivity, multiply it by a factor of 10 for an excagerated sense of personal and communal honor, add in a high degree of insecurity, and voila Truth is, its not going to change anytime soon. No matter how silly or hypocritical this vision is, it is a reality - a fact any policymaker has to take into account.

How did the Lebanese government and its military have six years to disarm Hizbullah? Doing the math it seems that they were partly-occupied by the nasty Syrians for five of those years. Unsurprisingly militias the Syrians did not care for, got disarmed. Any time the Lebanese tried doing anything independent of the Syrians, Lebanese politicians would get blown up. In the past year the Lebanese finally managed to chase out the Syrians after a huge struggle, and tried consolidating their fragile democracy. Not much energy and time left to disarm the fanatics in the South.

The U.S. needs to see this vague cease-fire resolution as a canvas in which to craft long term solutions, using the carrot and stick approach. Israel doesn't want rockets pointed at them and an armed to the teeth Hizbullah on their borders. The trick is to first of all get them out of there without their weapons. Or simply get them out of the border area. Time to engage Syria and even the loony mullahs in Iran - but always with a stick in your hand ready to beat them back. When it all comes down to it, we have more nukes than they do.

Whats up with some idiots calling for Condi Rice's replacement? Why? Because she thought it might be wise to quit cutting Israel that much slack? Bush should call his dad, he knew how to handle the Israeli's. Actually most of her Republican predecessors understood the basic fact that the U.S. has strategic interests outside of that country.

And whats up with the Neo-Cons. Back when the US Right's was hostage to the Curtis Le May/Bircher school of knee-jerk anti-communism and the Democrats were stuck in post-Vietnam McGovernite defeatism, Neo-Cons were the only ones who made the strategic and moral case of why the Cold War had to be won. Now they seem just too eager to prove Pat Buchanan's nasty remarks during Gulf War v 1.0 were on target. Neo-Wilsonian schemes and uncritical support of Israel get you only so far.

How come the British Pakistani's bomb stuff and ours don't??? There are literally millions of Pakistani-Americans in the U.S. and they mostly go about their business (truth be told so do a majority of Pakistani-Brits). It probably has more to do with MTV and Suburbia than anything really deep.

Egyptian exchange students do not go to Montana for summer school and wander off elsewhere in the U.S. much to Fox News' chagrin. Had these been American students going to summer school in Helsinki, Finland, would you blame them if they went to Rome, Paris, or even Stockholm?

Friday, August 11, 2006

WEEKEND AT BOLI'S: Friday Drinking Songs!!!

3 GENRES, TWO LANGUAGES....SAME SPIRIT.....GETTIN BUZZED..actually because a woman made you miserable in the first two, and worried about the buzzed woman in the last one LOL......
This summers big hit...
Pasame la botella, voy a beber a nombre de ella...
MACH & DADDY, PASAME LA BOTELLA, (Pass Me The Bottle)



A True (Tequila-fueled) Anthem

ven y sacame de este bar....
MANA, CLAVADO EN UN BAR (Stuck In A Bar) Awesome Live Version Here

Getting A Little Country
I know what happens when she drinks Patron....
JOE NICHOLS, TEQUILA MAKES HER CLOTHES FALL OFF...(Tequila Hace Que Se Caiga Su Ropa)..

Weekend At Boli's: Some Old School Spanish Hip Hop

Vidz for u kidz,  remember who came first.  ...
              
Before Yankee and anyone else, you had El General...
El General, Juana
.. >..>


Clasico....Kid Frost, La Raza
..>..>

When you see the Nike commercial, remember where the song came from
Delinquent Habits, Return of the Tres
.. >..>


First Real Bi-Lingual Rap to hit big, Mellow Man Ace, Mentirosa -



Llegaron los meros, meros,
Cypress Hill, Insane in The Brain,
.. >..>

Hand on the Pump
.. >..>

A real legend, the much missed  Big Punisher .
...
Big Pun, Still Not a Player...
.. >..>




Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CUBA: Elian Writes Fidel Castro A Get Well Letter



Hahahahahahaahhahahaha.
Artwork By Sean Gleeson, Original Post Below, and in title.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

CUBA: Castro Death Watch Extends Into Wednsday

Splits within the Castro family as Reuters points out, the agency also says that Cubans adjust to life without Fidel in charge

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said Vice President Carlos Lage was meeting in Bogota with heads of state attending the inauguration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to update them on Castro's "positive recovery" from surgery for intestinal bleeding

The return to normal was not quite complete because the government kept police and security forces, including military reservists, on alert.

Along the coast, authorities urged residents to watch for an invasion force from Castro's arch enemy, the United States.


Situation in Santiago, according to the Miami Herald is more tense than in Havana

Many believe that Raúl Castro is more brutal than his brother, he said. Raúl, who ordered scores of executions in this region after Castro-led guerrillas toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, also has not appeared in public since last week.

''He should talk to the people,'' said a musician also named Raúl. But he added, ``He knows they will not accept him. The people do not want him. The politicians don't want him. He's Fidel's brother, but he's not Fidel.''


CBS News Reports: Producer Portia Siegelbaum On What It's Like Reporting From Inside Cuba:
The three major American networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, are here under a wink and a nod from island officials. I’m not allowed to hang a sign reading “CBS News” on the door to my office and there’s no desk for a permanent correspondent.

So Portia, where is Raul?
None of the officials—and I can count them on one hand—who have spoken to us on the ground have personally seen or spoken to the ailing president. And acting President Raul Castro has not been seen publicly since his older brother stepped aside. So it’s very hard to get a handle on just what the situation is.

But while there’s a hermetic silence in Castro’s inner circle, it’s relatively easy to interview ordinary Cubans. As a people they’re warm and friendly and easy to form friendships with. And while everyone is not willing to go on camera almost everyone will speak on background..

We’ve also have what to some might be considered surprising access to the anti-Castro dissidents. We have not been prevented from speaking to them either in person or by phone. However, as a rule, such interviews are hand-carried out of Cuba. Why? For the simple reason that the Cuban State totally controls all the technology normally used for transmitting information out of here.


The good life in Havana: Cuba's green revolution Cuba's Military is High On The Hog, according to the UK's Independent.,
Cuba's military men loyal to Raul Castro says the AP.<

Hugo Chavez Is Faithful to Fidel, says Alexandra Star in Salon

Maria Elena Salinas, Says that Citizens will be key to post-Castro Cuba

Israel, Lebanon: In The P.R. Wars Arabs Lose to Israel In The US

After watching hours of coverage from the Lebanon crisis on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CBS and ABC, I am hardly surprised that polls show the US public overwhelmingly supports Israel.

It is because the Israelis are a hell of a lot better at selling themselves to the U.S. public.

All I see are telegenic I.D.F. spokespeople hitting the right buzzwords, in perfect -even US accented- English. They put their own spin or potentially harmful items, like non-combatant deaths in Lebanon, using much of the same language that U.S. military briefers use. It goes without saying that the upper echelons of Israel's government and their top brass are pretty confortable parrying Anderson Cooper's or O'Reilly's softball questions on live television.

On the other side, just about every Lebanese, Syrian, or even the odd Hizbullah types come on with heavy accents and stiff manerisms. They might speak French well and seem suave to some Europeans, but Americans expect clever soundbites. And some of these guys come across almost as cartoon villians, particularly when they launch into textbook denunciations of Israel and the US. Does not help, that the few women who do appear, are usually wearing scarves, which makes a stunning contrast with Israeli female spokespeople who radiate authority and competence.

In today's highly globalized world where Americans receive their news in short bursts this kind of perception matters. What can you say when your best p.r. people are Pat Buchanan and Queen Noor? There is little excuse that countries like Lebanon or Syria, can not emulate the Gulf States, in having people who can make their case to the American public in today's media. One side is not stating its case to the public, and the complains about anti-Arabic or anti-Islamic attitudes. Countries like these should know better, they are not unsophisticated and have many US-educated professionals. Ultimately, if they complain so much about the American government's policies, they might have figured out they should go to the source of these policies, the Israeli's beat them a long time ago at it.

CUBA, CASTRO CORPSE WATCH: From Beyond The Grave Reinaldo Arenas "Elegy To Fidel Castro"

The Dead On The Not Yet Dead
Reinaldo Arenas, who died in New York in 1990 was the Cuban writer, poet and playwright who was imprisoned and exiled by the Castro regime. His book Before Night Falls, was made into the movie starring Javier Bardem - not the one where is paralyzed. Giles Tremlett in
The lost, last diatribe of Reinaldo Arenas
printed in The Guardian, reports that Spanish diary El Pais recovered a scathing and sarcastic "elegy" that Arenas wrote before he died, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Here is most of the text:

Fidel Castro has been criticised for refusing to accept any kind of change, or anything that smells of perestroika or democracy...

I, on the other hand, perhaps because of my contrary spirit, will not criticise the 'Maximum Leader' but will, instead, enumerate his virtues.



"Intelligent economist
. Thirty years of rationing has prevented inflation, given that there is hardly anything to buy anyway.

Famous farmer.
He managed to get a cow called White Udder to produce more than 100 litres of milk a day. The poor cow exploded. Milk remains rationed.

Expert sexologist. He has prepared a magnificent army of youths to work as tourist guides and translators while kindly attending to [the desires of] invitees, be they men or women.

Profound philosopher
. He has made his subjects understand that material existence is meaningless, to the point that, in Cuba, no material goods exist and the suicide rate is the highest in Latin America.

Hard-working pupil
. He has followed Stalin's example, getting rid of anyone who could overshadow his glory, such as Huber Matos, Carlos Franqui, Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto "Che" Guevara ... Fidel publicly backed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the (Soviet) invasion of Afghanistan and the massacre of students in Tiananmen Square.

Wise statesman. Castro knows full well that a dictator should never call a plebiscite, unless he wants to be thrown out. This explains his angry reaction against all those intellectuals, (including six Nobel prize winners) who have asked him, in a civilised fashion, to call elections."


MIAMI TV: Am I The Only One Who Likes "The First 48" On A & E

Killer Show - No Pun Intended
I am fascinated by that TV Show, The First 48 , where they follow a bunch of homicide detectives during the crucial first 48 hours of murder investigations. They start right from the crime scene as you can see from these pictures. While still in law school, I actually had the chance to work with homicide detectives, beat cops, and CSI people, there are some true characters there. Prominently featured in this show is Miami's homicide division, and there are some interesting characters.

VENEZUELA, CHAVEZ-WATCH: Venezuela To Remove Consuls?


Rumor appearing in El Venezolano, which normally has good sources, that the Venezuelan Foreign ministry has instructions from the very top, to remove all Venezuelan consuls and consulates, including those in New York and Miami - two cities which were previously seen as "untouchable", due to the many Venezuelan residents and commercial interests.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lebanon, Israel: Newsweek On New Hizbullah, Pictures of South Lebanon


Eye For An Eye Israel shadow-boxes with a surprisingly high-tech foe. Inside the new Hizbullah.Pretty good article, interviews with actual Hizbullah fighters, and reporting directly from the front. From sister publication, The Washington Post,Israeli Soldiers Find a Tenacious Foe in Hezbollah By Jonathan Finer, who says that the Hizbullah guerillas:
"What we face is an infantry division with state-of-the-art weaponry -- night-vision gear, advanced rifles, well-equipped -- deployed along our border," said Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, who until last month was director of analysis for Israeli military intelligence. "They have some of the most advanced antitank missiles in the world."

Michael J. Totten has a fascinating look inside Hizbullah-land, with pre-war pictures he took in South Beirut and the Lebanese side of the Lebanon-Israel border. via Instapundit.

Picture From: Don't Have A Clue

CUBA: Who's Who List Of Really Stupid People Sign Pro-Castro Letter

The Stupidest Of The Really, Really Stupid

The Kool-Aid Must Have Been Really Good

A veritable hit parade of the world's biggest idiots and fellow travellers assembled signed a statement, announced loudly by Castroite media outlet Prensa Latina.

The petition
claims that the Bush administration through recent statements threatens the "integrity of the nation", the "peace and security" of Latin America, and "demands that the government of the US respect Cuba's sovereignity. We must stop by all means a new agression."

Half of the ex-Sandinista dictatorship that mis-ruled Nicaragua in the 80's signed, including Tomas Borge the feared former Minister of the Interior directly responsible for repressing dissidents. Also included are other former cabinet members -and renegade priests- the former "Culture" Minister Ernesto Cardenal and former Foreign Minister Miguel D' Escoto, in addition to Daniel Ortega's wife, Rosario Murillo, and other Sandinista types like Daisy Zamora and Gioconda Belli.

Joining the aparatchiks of the repressive Sandinista government, are international morons include Communist propagandist Rigoberta Menchu, Manu Chao, and filmaker Walter Salles. Dumb clerics including the unfortunate Bishop Tutu, as well as Liberation Stupidology guru Leonardo Boff

Ugly American self-haters and totalitarian apologists, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark and Communist Angela Davis - who is at least consistent.
Angry Stupid Artists: Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Alice Walker, Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello,

These morons are not signing a petition calling for free elections or human rights for Cuba now that that country's 47 year dictatorship might be coming to an end. Instead they join with members of repressive regimes and ideologies calling for the protection of the Castroite dictatorship.

TALK ABOUT TWO MORONS!

Mel Gibson - made anti-semitic remarks, Danny Glover - supports totalitarian regime.
Lets see if Glover gets any flack for this from media and Hollywood types.

BOLIVIA, EVO WATCH: Evo Opens Constituent Assembly

From The B.B.C.
President Evo Morales of Bolivia has opened an assembly to begin writing a new constitution aimed at giving more power to the indigenous majority.

A wide range of groups are represented on the constituent assembly - including coca-growers, trade unions and miners.

Mr Morales became Bolivia's first indigenous president last year.

However his supporters lack the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution and will need the support of opposition groups.

CUBA, CASTRO CORPSE WATCH: Chavez Says It Lives, Bush Talks, Cardinal Prays, Castro Rots Away



Hugo Chavez in his TV program yesterday, reported by EFE
said "he had "good information" that Fidel had a "notable recovery" from his surgery, which as the Sunday Telegraph claims saved his life. According to this item Chavez said Castro was able to "talk" and could "get up." NBC News quoting unnamed sources also said that "Castro was well enough to be eating, moving around and talking excessively on the telephone."

Chavez referred to Castro as the father of us revolutionaries," while he was talking to Evo Morales the President of Bolivia, whom he compared to Tupac, the late Andean rebel leader not the late rapper. Meanwhile, the Cardinal of Cuba prayed for the Cuban strongman's health, momentarily stopping the demons who are preparing Fidel's new digs for eternity.

Bush meanwhile said the following in a Question and Answer session, about


QUESTION: Mr. President, I don't think we've heard from you since Fidel Castro has fallen ill. Can you give us what you know of his current condition, what your administration's contingency plans are for his death and how they address the desire of the Cuban exiles in this country to eventually go home and reclaim their property?

BUSH: First of all, Cuba is not a very transparent society, so the only thing I know is what has been speculated, and that is that, on the one hand, he's very ill and, on the other hand, he's going to be coming out of a hospital. I don't know. I really don't know.

And, secondly, that our desire is for the Cuban people to be able to choose their own form of government. And we would hope that -- and we'll make this very clear -- that as Cuba has the possibility of transforming itself from a tyrannical situation to a different type of society, the Cuban people ought to decide. The people on the island of Cuba ought to decide.

And once the people of Cuba decide to form a government, then Cuban-Americans can take an interest in that country and redress the issues of property confiscation.

But first things first, and that is the Cuban people need to decide the future of their country.


Andres Oppenheimer, thinks the U.S. Should Lay Low on Cuba, in its dealings with any new government, so as to block out hardliners.

TV Martí boosts broadcasts to Cuba People need news and alternative views. This is a good thing IMO.

The Military Again


The Miami Herald examines Cuba's Military Money Machine good background on the Cuban Armed Forces, and their large role in the economy.

Speaking of Armed Forces, as Oscar Corral in his blog points out that prominent elected Cuban-American officials sent a message in Washington; Congressional Reps to Cuban Military: Be Part of a Democratic Cuba Which seems to confirm that many people are looking to the military to be part of any solution.

A Look At The Cuban Economy
Cuban modernization confined to pockets from the Miami Herald's Business section, looking at the dual structure of Cuba's economy, where foreign investments have modernized some sectors of the economy, while others rot away.


EDIT
Very Cool Links, CUBAPOLIDATA Cuban Armed Forces Review (CAFR). A former Cuban intel officer, breaks down both the military and political aparatus.

VENEZUELA, CHAVEZ-WATCH: Hugo Is Nuts Part XXII

Going Off The Rails On The Crazy Train

Did He Leave Anything Out?

Lunatic did his TV show "Alo Presidente" yesterday for the first time since before the World Cup. He pretty much summarized his maniacal trip around the world, and let loose:

Justified his recalling Israel's ambassador due to Israel's fight against Hizbullah, which he called a "genocide" and a "new holocaust." this coming from a man who received an award from the Holocaust-denying President of Iran, who is trying to acquire nuclear weapons - and whose proxies in Lebanon started this whole mess.

Said he was going to install an air defense system that would be "the most modern in the world."

He got a live call-in from Evo. Chavez said that Castro is standing and doing allright.

This after
He bought a whole bunch of weapons in Russia, including 100,000 Kalashnikov's, which he probably could have bought much cheaper on the international arms market.
And he has already talked about getting some sort of ballistic missile systems.

When it really comes down to it, Chavez is buying stuff that is somewhat outdated. The U.S. simply has too much firepower available in the Caribbean, not to mention the entire anti-narcotics detection and interdiction capabilities. He is pretty much stuck in his borders by Brazil which has a very large military, and Colombia whose battle-tested army is a formidable foe. His saber-rattling is pretty hollow, but it does act to push military spending up in the area, since it gives neighboring military's excuses to request more toys. So it just acts as another waste of money.

Pic From Daniel, Venezuela News And Views

MEXICO: AMLO WATCH: Webolucion Mexicana, Woody & King Lu Sings To Lopez Obrador

Brilliant



King Lu From Madagascar Sings To Antonio Manuel Lopez Obrador In This Drop-Dead Funny Video

Woody From Toy Story

Funny, a parody of a spanish version of a Randy Newman song.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

CUBA: Alvaro Vargas Llosa On Cuba's Transition


Image: La Prensa/AFP
Fidel Done
According to Vargas Llosa the die is cast. "Whatever happens next, this will not be Fidel Castro's dictatorship." He does not think that there will be a Chinese model succession such as that of Mao to Deng, the Polish style succession of Jarulezci passing power to solidarity, or the gradual diminution by Gorbachev.

Option 1
This leaves two possible transitions. One would be "Fidelismo'' without Fidel. In other words, a military dictatorship under Raul Castro -- who at 75 is frail and suffers from cirrhosis due to alcoholism -- until he passes away or becomes incapacitated himself, at which time the real transition process would begin.


Option2
The other, more likely, scenario is a power struggle among various factions. Cuban General Jose Quevedo recently told a group of Cubans in Madrid that the degree of personal control by Fidel Castro has been such that no one with any kind of following has emerged these past few years in the armed forces or the Communist Party.

Music: Argentinian Band Miranda Profiled

Cuidado Con Miranda
El Nuevo Herald, had an article on Miranda the Argentinian Band, whose sound is described by its lead singer as "tecno-pop", influenced by the Pet Shop Boys. To that I would probably add Devo, because they have a quirky sense of humor that separates their music from merely derivative of band. The much-played video Don off their sophomore album, "Sin restricciones"


Second single, Yo Te Dire

CUBA, CASTRO CORPSE WATCH: Sunday Brooding Sunday, Factions And The Military

ALMOST THERE!


According to the Sunday Telegraph Castro almost became a corpse, but the Stalinist leaders personal physicians postponed his descent into the eternal fire.
Doctors at the exclusive Cimeq hospital in western Havana are accustomed to handling the delicate health problems of Cuba's communist elite.
It was here last weekend, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt, that they battled for several hours to save the life of the regime's most important patient, Fidel Castro. Unable to stem intestinal bleeding with drugs, the country's top surgeons performed an emergency operation on the veteran leader.

Hand over permanent?

Another Telegraph article
noted that some of the changes instituted might be permanent:
Yesterday the Communist Party newspaper Granma assured readers that Castro's younger brother Raul, the head of the army and the internal security apparatus, was coping at the helm.

In a sign that Fidel is unlikely to return to government even if he recovers, it endorsed a new power structure in which six senior ministers headed by Raul will manage the country.

They include Felipe Perez Roque, the 41-year-old foreign minister, and Carlos Lage, 54, the man credited with keeping the economy afloat in the Special Period that followed the ending of Soviet subsidies in the 1990s.


Brazilian sources say Lula was aparently told that Castro will not return to power. Also says that Fidel has a malignant stomach tumor, which was denied by Castro buddy, Vice-President Carlos Lage from Sucre, Bolivia where is attending President Evo's grand premiere of the Constituent Assembly. Aparatchik extraordinaire, Ricardo Alarcon, while repeating the line about Castro's health, did call on the Cuban people to be alert and take "measures to assure that we can confront any agression."

Speaking of Alarcon, Trouble In Paradise?
He seems to be shut out, and might not be in the inner circle of power nominated by Fidel. As pointed out here that as President of the National Assembly "the supreme source of power in the State," he is theoretically the third most powerful person in Cuba. Theory aside, it does mean he handles an assembly composed of many top aparatchiks , though not as cohesive as the more powerful Central Committee which is under Raul's thumb. But it still is a potential source of trouble for the ruling circle, and Alarcon conceivably would be able to draw upon the contacts he has made. And Alarcon seems to be launching a one-man campaign to build himself up, by granting numerous international media interviews.

Queen Fidel?
Norberto Fuentes, who was once close to Fidel, interviewed in ABC, also thinks that Fidel is no longer going to be running things entirely, and might become a ceremonial head of state, like "Queen Elizabeth" of England.

Fuentes also sees that within the "hard nucleus of a collective government" created by Fidel Castro, there is a sort of deliberate power split. Machado Ventura and Balaguer are Raul loyalists, but that the "money" people like Lage are Fidelistas.
He finds it curious that Fidel named Raul "commander in chief" of the armed forces, "without giving him command."

Dissidents Speak And Are Persecuted
Oswaldo Paya Wants Spain - a country with historical ties to Cuba - to step up and Show Some Audacity , something that seems unlikely given Zapatero's coddling of the dictator.

Dissidents are being threatened. At communist-party block committee meetings threats of "smashing heads" of anyone daring to "open their mouths, demonstrate against the government, or take any type of protest"

Speaking of the Cuban Military

The front page of Granma has a profile and interview with General Álvaro López Miera the equivalent of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and Vice-minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. That is interesting.

Dissident and independent journalist, Miriam Leiva, sees the military as the real source of power and source of direction for many of the main institutions. She asks if will be the one institution, to enable "a better future for all the Cuban people."

Ernesto Betancourt, in El Nuevo Herald, says the U.S. might want to talk to the Cuban Army. He says that the Cuban military is apparently willing to talk, and is actually banking on some sort of transition backed by the United States, where the military would keep its institutional character, instead of being dissolved. Betancourt notes that the military could guarantee order in any transition, and that many of its members are not as tainted as other parts of the Castroite aparat. They have also had extensive contact with the persestroika-era Eastern European military, and run some of the state businesses.

My Take:
Something tells me that the military, either with or with-out Raul's direction is floating trial balloons. Leiva would not be allowed to publish something that direct, without a wink from someone above. The other article also shows at least some in the military that want to ensure some sort of transition that might include a democratization, so long as they are preserved as an institution. Must remember the role of many younger officers in the Russian military in opposing the coup against Gorbachev in 1991, and how the militaries in Latin America returned to the barracks in the 90's, after decades of dictatorships.
Identifiable Factions seem to be forming. The top leadership is allegedly Raul + Lage, Francisco Soberon, Balaguer Cabrera, Machado Ventura, Perez Roque, and Lazo Hernandez, between them holding the reins of the military, the security apparatus, health, education and energy, and the purse strings. Conceivably there is a split between Raul loyalist and Fidel's men of confidence like the nasty Perez Roque. But then you have Lage, who while a Fidel loyalist was known to favor economic liberalization. Alarcon on the other hand, nominally in touch with many top members of the nomenklatura itself, though Raul is supposedly the party head and in control of the central committee and politburo. Alarcon is definitively keeping a high media profile, despite the demotion and it looks like he is jockeying for position.

Key questions, does Raul have the complete loyalty of the Military? Who are the genuine Fidelista hardliners that want to see a continuation of Communist one-party rule and Socialism? Who is the reform factions, both within the nomenklatura and the military that would like to see a genuine transition to democracy? Many younger reformers were purged in the 90's and just recently. In the USSR, in Russia, the Baltics, Armenia, Georgia, many of the reformers - as well as the most vicious counter-reformers- came from within the party. Bottom line many of the civilian bureaucrats don't want to lose their jobs, and might be willing to go along with a "Chinese" or "Pinochet" model of transition, where the party and military keep control, while moving to a market-oriented economy. The military, as opposed to the party, does have more flexibility. They win if the Chinese/Pinochet approach is taken because of their presence in key industries, but in a move to democratization and market reform, if they preserve their character they also win, as the Chilean and Russian military's did in the transition to civilian rule. This is going to get interesting.

Image Above from ,Dead Castro Dance

Saturday, August 05, 2006

BOLIVIA, EVO WATCH: Evo Threatens Congress, Appoints Constitutent Leader

Getting A Little Dictatorial?

According to EFE Evo lashed out at Congress, saying it should be "closed" if it does not deliver his desired agrarian reform. They have not delivered the agrarian reform law, which to Evo's frustration he wanted to "premiere" at that particular speech. Must be remembered, that Congress, presumably includes both his opponents, as well as members of his own party. Has Evo lost party discipline? Or is it just incompetence from his own side (see below)? Apparently some MAS legislators have some reservations about the project. Some were not necesarilly criticism from the left either, stay tuned.

We Need A Female, Indigenous, Cocalera

In other Evo news he appointed Silvia Lazarte, a fiery cocalera leader, as President of the Constituent Assembly in charge of drafting Bolivia's constitution. As she boasted to EFE, she does not have a high school diploma, "is not a professional", only has done "elementary school." Thats nice. The opposition was not amused, not necesarily by her credentials - or lack thereof - but by the fact that she was imposed on the assembly by Evo, who they accuse of making the Constituent "an appendage" of MAS. About those credentials, this is the same government that appointed a non-lawyer - though at least a high school graduate - as Minister of Justice, and some of whose Congressional representatives had "issues" with "basic literacy" according to one report. Trying to stay positive, well Robespierre and the worst Jacobins were pretty educated, didn't stop them from writing all sorts of silliness - maybe there is hope for Ms. Lazarte.


MAS First Narco-Scandal!

Congratulation to the MAS government, they just joined every ruling party the past 25 years of Bolivian history in links to drug dealing. Freddy Terceros, a functionary of the same Congress causing Evo heachaches, was busted in Spain with 3.3 Kilos of Coke, he was there at the bidding of the President of the Congress, as well as another MAS senator, Antonio Peredo, presumably to set up some sort of publishing house.

Lastly

Neither Lula, Kirchner or Chile's Bachelet are attending the Constituent Assembly's grand opening Sunday, despite Evo's invitation.

Cuba, Venezuela: Cuban Security Forces In Venezuela On Alert

According to Casto Ocando, the Venezuelan reporter for El Nuevo Herald. Cuban "security forces in Venezuela....went on alert after Monday's announcement of the passing of power in La Havana. The reason: they fear that there might be trouble with the 30,000 Cubans that work in Venezuela for the Chavez government."

Cuba Castro Death Watch: RANT, I HATE SELECTIVE LIBERTARIANS!

What Part of Tyrant Don't People Get?

I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Heffer, in the Telegraph who rightly asks, Why the tears for an oppressive Stalinist?
for that horrible tyrant Fidel Castro, whom some "apparently sane and intelligent people" somehow revere.

He is so popular because America hates him, and America is now the most hated country in the world. Americans have a choice about whether they stay in their country or not: Cubans don't. Sure, you can have a nice holiday there, just as you could have done in Germany in 1938. Castro is a tyrant, plain and simple, and those who revere him are either wicked or stupid. I wish him a short illness.

I get so ticked off at people who will bitch about this or another dictator, and then will make some excuse for Castro. Guy is a abomination, doesn't matter how good a health care system there is in Cuba. When the party controls every single aspect of people's lives and smashes dissent, that is tyranny. It is plain immoral to use his population as guinea pigs for the stupidest economic idea ever. And of course, he has killed and imprisoned thousands in the Island. The guy has done all this for 47 years, there is nothing defensible there, anyone doing so is an idiot.

Tip Of The Hat to

Babalu

Music, Rock En Espanol: Volumen Cero Videos

Cool Band, Cool Videos

One of my favorite bands, Miami's Volumen Cero. They play guitar-heavy, brit-pop influenced rock. They are a really tight band. First video is their latest "Diviso" second one is pretty fun, Hollywood, which stars porn-star Ron Jeremy and Beto Cuevas from La Ley.



Friday, August 04, 2006

Lebanon, Israel: Richard Cohen, How Simply To Ignore Hezbollah has attacked Israel...

Richard Cohen column, How simple to ignore that Hezbollah has attacked Israel, reprinted in the Miami Herald. Pretty on point, when talking about the fact that Israel's response started due to the Hizbullah kidnapping and missile attacks, and that it is sustained by the populations fear and anger to the continued rocket attacks. And that many in the world media seem to have forgotten that very quickly. Polls show that the Israeli public backs their government and want it to go even further in attacking Hizbullah. Bottom line: no short or long-term solution will ever be achieved, unless the fears and insecurity of the Israeli public are dealt with.

It is the nature of contemporary war that its causes are soon forgotten. Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and its cross-border missile attacks are now a distant memory. More pressing, more urgent -- more compelling by far -- are the horrible images of dead and wounded children. The urge is to change the channel, alter the programming: end the war. The kidnapped soldiers have no on-screen presence. Their plight cannot compare to what happened in the Lebanese village of Qana. It is also useless to point out that the 2,500 or so rockets fired into Israel have been directed mostly at civilian targets. Haifa, after all, is not a military base.


Click Below To Read Rest Of Article

CUBA, Castro Corpse Watch: Where's Raul? Fidel's Freaky Friday UPDATED

Fidel And Loathing In La Habana


UPDATE: Spain's El Mundo in this story quotes José Ramón Balaguer, the Cuban Health Minister, and part of the inner core of about 6 or 7 loyalists around Raul Castro, as saying that Fidel Castro is "recovering satisfactorily" from his operation, and should "recover soon." He happens to be in Guatemala, and did not give any further information.

Exile and former Castro friend Norberto Fuentes, says in his blog, that a good source in Havana told him that Fidel is recuperating. According to the same source he was operated in the Government Palace itself, where a modern operating room has been set up. Raul Castro has apparently made the rounds in the city in his motorcade.

ABC From Spain says Cuba Nervously Faces Third Day Without News of Castro Brothers

Granma's headlines screamed "Combat Forces Are Ready to Defend Us", and an entire inside page was an article on the modernization, increased combat effectiveness aned other improvements of the military. Dissidents are being pressured.

The article also says that the regime's vigilance has incresed, "very discreetly."
Cubans themselves, seem to be the only ones who can pick out civilian dressed security personnel. Larger weapons were also seen being taken inside a military building. Police who normally patrol in two's, are now in "groups of three". Ministry of Interior forces also patrolling the street.

There is still an official quiet about Fidel and Raul, but the piece points out that even in normal times the agenda of the leadership is rarely announced.

But still there is nervousness, within the "tone of some functionaries". In the words of one quoted: "Some groups wait for his dath for other reasons, but they also fear that there be revenge and disturbances." The unnamed analyst also says there are official Cuban government studies that showed that in a transition there might be some violence.

Dissident economist, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, says "there is a tense calm, in the streets you see less people, but it is true that it is vacation time, but people are ansxious because there is not enough information from the State."

Bush Talks
Bush calls for "Cubans to work for democracy on the island, saying the United States would support them in their efforts", according to this Miami Herald article,
I encourage all democratic nations to unite in support of the right of the Cuban people to define a democratic future for their country,'' Bush added. ``I urge the Cuban people to work for democratic change on the island.''Bush, reiterating statements made by the administration in the past, also said the United States will ``take note of those, in the current Cuban regime, who obstruct your desire for a free Cuba.'

Cuban Response To Bush. El Mundo Quotes Granma and titles its story, Cuban Government Says Transition is Not In Governments Vocabulary, Granma Says

"Flotillas are ready to go to Cuba," from the same article. Leaders of the Miami-based Democracy Movement, which "has led flotillas from Miami in an attempt to reach Cuba for more than a decade," announced said they would be ready to leave in as little as three days. Ramón Saúl Sanchez, said that "Cuban exiles have the right to return to the island. What's more, he says he'll return, with or without the permission of President Bush."

Intelligence Failure? U.S. is in the dark about what is going on in Havana. Castro's security measures keep out information from the regime. Part of that intelligence failure is because of the cutbacks after the end of the Cold War, Cuba fell of the priority map.

First-hand Accounts
from recent visitors to Cuba, say Fear and Tension Take Hold Of Cuba

The Rocky Road To Freedom: The Guardian Interviews Dissident Osvaldo Paya. Says there can not be violence.

This older, but relevant item from the Conservative Lexington Institute, about the transition, and the problems that the U.S. might face.

Weird Granma
While Castroite media blasted the exile's celebration in Miami - obviously the news filtered through by the many people have satellite dishes - officialist media also:
The Communist Party newspaper Granma published an odd item on its front page Thursday, a no-headline box with simply two paragraphs of previously reported quotes from a Raúl Castro speech during a military ceremony on July 1.
''The special trust that the people grant to the founding leader of a revolution is not transmitted, as though it were an inheritance, to those who in the future occupy the principal jobs in the direction of the country,'' he said.
''I repeat what I have affirmed on many occasions: the commander in chief of the Cuban revolution is one, and only the Communist Party . . . can be the proper inheritor of that trust,'' he added.


No Mojitos In El Malecon, Big Party Cancelled

La Havana's Big Carnaval is cancelled, an analyst quoted from the ABC article above says "it is probably because the government doesn't want situations it can not control." ABC continues to say that "in these parties, which the population awaits each year, thousands of Havana residents attend and rum and beer sold in national currency, flows" to the point where more than one [party-goer]loses control."


Ricardo Alarcon in this interview granted to the Guardian, says he thinks the U.S. will invade, in addition to his usual bla, bla, bla.

Raul, Again
A left-wing take on Raul, Richard Gott, says that the party line and the view of many serious Cuba watchers is that the " brother takes over, together with the team at the top that has been running the country for the past decade or so."

Some say that he was always closer to the Cuban Communist party than Fidel was, and he was certainly the man who watched over the Cuban-Soviet relationship when the two countries were in a tight military alliance. Fidel may have handled the grand strategy, but it was Raúl who looked after the nuts and bolts.

Raúl also has a good, though unofficial working relationship with various official US institutions, including the US coastguards and the drugs agency.


Finally,

Hear For Yourself the message from Castro's personal bit...I mean secretary.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bolivia, Cuba: Aymara Ceremony Performed For Castro Health

Now, This Will Really Kill Him

Unions and peasant organizations in Bolivia performed an Aymara religious ritual to pray for the recovery of Fidel Castro. The ceremony attended by the Cuban Ambassador was performed at over 12,000 feet. The invocation covered all basis, addressed "God and Pachamama" (earth goddess), asking that "the health of president Fidel Castro" so Brother Fidel will get better and that will be a slap to imperialism."

Evo while not present at this rite, says he hopes Castro will be broken from his "trance" to resume the "anti-imperialist" fight.
Meanwhile the demons who actually ended up being invoked through this pagan ceremony, declared that they already have a spot in hell for Fidel, so they decided to demur on taking any action, aside from talking through Evo as they always do.

CUBA, CASTRO CORPSE WATCH: Situation On The Ground, Leadership, Key Links


SOME LINKS FOR TODAY
We know Fidel is sick, according to the Miami Herald Many are asking: Where's Raúl Castro? He has not appeared in a couple of days. Does this possibly mean that Fidel still holds the reins and does not want Raul appearing just yet? Or is Fidel so far gone that the Communist Party leaders are paralyzed, not knowing what to announce just yet?

HOW SICK?


Ricardo Alarcon
says Fidel is alive and alert, Castro's exiled sister says he has left intensive care, and is doing better. On CNN this morning, she did say something to the effect that he was "very sick". The printed edition of the Miami Herald had Alarcon saying Castro's sickness was a "serious matter".

Fidel Said To Be Recovering
, But unfortunately Havana will not be rockin' 'to Fidel's Birthday Party which was cancelled says the Guardian.

In Havana, there is a consensus that "Castro is Terminally Ill", according to the Miami Herald.

The Castro Dead Pool Gamblers' odds don't favor Fidel in the Miami Herald says that on-line betting sites are taking wagers on Fidel's impending demise. First up, whether or not he makes a public appearance by a certain date.

Fidel Castro allegedly announces via a statement, that his Health is a State Secret. Internal analysts, expected Fidel to actually announce a permanent hand over of power in second press release.


Mauricio Vincent El Pais correspondent in Cuba, in an online chat, Name given to the theory, among skeptical Cubans, that Fidel is not deadly ill, and doing this as a dress rehearsal to see what the reaction is: Operation Empty Coffin

The Cuban equivalent of the draft board (and or the selective service), has called its registered youth, after news of the sickness broke out, according to Cubanet. If I read that correctly it means they are basically trying to get ahold of everyone registered of age, get their addresses, to put them on standby, the first phase of mobililzation.

Spanish-based exiles are cautious

Welcome To Miami.......Not!...
Best News in 47 Years, say some Cuban exiles in Miami, other exiles gather around the Versailles to await further news from Cuba in this ABC Article. Exiles' generation gap closes in Miami Younger Cuban and Cuban-Americans joined their elders in the spontaneous outpouring.

But, Herald columnist, Fred Grim says, Miami reaction to Castro news loud, premature, finds humor in it, On the streets of Miami, the reaction to an old despot's ''acute intestinal crisis'' bears a disconcerting resemblance to the aftermath of an NBA championship secured back on June 20. Go Heat. Goodbye Fidel.


GOOD LINKS
While the spontaneous explosion of joy in Miami is a great story, the real story of Castro's sickness and succession, is being played out within the silent workings of the Cuban Communist Party, and the wound-up population of the Island. On the surface, the mainstream U.S. and Miami media, have given us precious little information.

This is a must-read article by Jon Lee Anderson CASTRO’S LAST BATTLE Can the revolution outlive its leader? from the New Yorker. A view from someone who has been on the ground in Cuba, and has talked to many of the players involved.


What Happens After Castro, by Duncan Campbell, one of the Guardians Latin American correspondents

In The National Review, former DOD analyst, Mario Loyola Is Castro Dead? Mojitos all around! And brace for the hangover breaks down the main players and chances of success of all of them.

Reuters, Cuban Communism Looks Beyond Castro

Andress Oppenheimer speaks to Cuban dissidents in the Island, Hostile words play into Castro's hands, they are concerned about potential U.S. government and politicians statements. [M]any Cubans on the island, bombarded by the regime's propaganda machine, still believe they are potential victims of a U.S. threat. That's why hostile noises from Washington, or from Miami politicians seeking headlines ahead of the November elections, play into Castro's hands.

Nothing Will Be the Same, Dissidents in Cuba speak to Spanish paper ABC, say that even if Castro gets better, that the dynamics have changed permanently.

Living In The Island, Living With Him El Mundo from Spain, describes how Fidel dominates every corner of existence in the island.


Raul
Raul Castro, Fidel's Shadow, quotes Raul on his 2001 statement saying that normalizing relations with the US was possible. This Revolution Is Eternal Raul the Ruthless, who had opponents executed, and then well into the revolution personally oversaw the execution of former friends. Raul has little credibility within top leadership, lower cadres and abroad. Raul is destined to die in exile in Caracas, according to the author. Horacio Vazquez Rial. Today's Miami Herald also looks at divided opinions on Raul