Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taking a dive

The Cubans were wondering if the American guy was going to crack his head on a rock.
I didn't.
Or maybe I did.

Happy Father's Day to Pepe Milésima and the other Harlistas

Mildrem, left, brushes her dog, named Harley.
Mildrem's father is Sergio Morales, one of Cuba's top Harley mechanics and an apprentice of the late Pepe Milésima.

Today in Havana Harley Davidson riders pay tribute to Jose Lorenzo Cortez, better known as Pepe Milésima, a legendary motorcycle mechanic.
Milésima means "thousandth" in Spanish and it's a reference to the mechanic's penchant for precision.
Mechanics are gods in Cuba because they somehow manage to keep half-century-old cars and motorcycles running. Pepe died on Father's Day and today riders will climb onto their old American machines and rumble off to the Colón Cemetery to remember Pepe.

I'm taking a spin on my Harley today, too. I'll be thinking of Pepe Milésima, Sergio and the rest of the Harlistas across the Florida Straits.

U.S. policy toward Cuba: "a fossilized curiosity"

Cuba - For all Times

The Obama administration has done little to change U.S. policy toward Cuba, Raul Castro says, but Cuban officials are "ready to talk about everything" with the Americans "under equal conditions."

The Cuban president said in a June 17 speech that Cuba won't "negotiate our sovereignty nor our political and social system, and our right to self-determination and internal affairs."

As for the U.S. trade embargo, he said:
There is not political or moral pretext that justifies this policy. Cuba has not imposed any such sanction against the United States or its citizens.
Castro said the Obama administration's actions toward Cuba were "fine, positive but only achieve the minimum. The embargo remains intact."

U.S. Cuba policy is "a case of post-diplomatic stress disorder," according to Counterpunch, a political newsletter.

Robert Sandels and Nelson Valdés write that the solution to the Cuba problem should have been easy for the Obama administration: "Define the policy as a fossilized curiosity and drop it."
This could not be done, however, because the administration has not come to grips with the tectonic shifts in global power relations.
Valdés is a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico and director of the Cuba-L Project, a non-profit organization that distributes information about Cuba. Sandels writes for the project.

They say American officials have failed to realize that their hardline policies toward Cuba are out of step with most of the world - and the Obama administration has done little to change that.

The Obama administration's "willingness to resume the routine talks on immigration that Bush had unilaterally suspended" is not a groundbreaking move, they say.
Like his earlier reversal of Bush's restrictions on family travel to Cuba, Obama seemed to think the latest policy tweak was a policy change -- another U.S. volley keeping "the ball in Cuba's court."
Surely, for the U.S. to resume compliance with earlier understandings does not amount to a concession for which the other party now owes it something in return.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On the lam in Cuba: "I wouldn't give it up, man"

Charles Hill: "We were being persecuted."

American fugitive Charles Hill has lived more than half his life in Cuba, just beyond the reach of the FBI.
Hill, 59, is wanted in the murder of a New Mexico state police officer. He and two other members of a black separatist group called the Republic of New Afrika confronted the officer on Nov. 8, 1971, on a highway west of Albuquerque.
One of the three suspects shot officer Robert Rosenbloom in the neck with a .45-caliber handgun, killing him. The men hid out for nearly three weeks, then hijacked a plane and forced the pilot to fly to Cuba.
Nearly four decades later, Hill is the only surviving suspect, but if Rosenbloom's friends had their way, he'd get death penalty for his crimes.

Robert Rosenbloom, 28, was married and had two children

Rex Sagle, a New Mexico police academy instructor who knew Rosenbloom, said:
I would hope that Hill be sentenced to die if ever he returns to New Mexico to stand trial.

Robert was an outstanding man in all ways. I feel cheated that I only got to associate with him such a short time. It is certainly a time in my life I shall never forget.
Hill told me he'd would rather not talk about what happened that night in New Mexico. I interviewed him in Havana for an upcoming story.
He said many people forget what was going on in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Blacks were rising up against racial discrimination and hatred. It was a black rebellion, Hill said.
The Republic of New Afrika wanted to seize five states - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina - and form a separate black nation. Members formed a provisional government and called for all blacks to decide what should become of America's black citizenry.
Hill and the other two militants had weapons in the trunk of their 1972 Ford Galaxie when Rosenbloom stopped them.

At Havana's Parque Central

Police targeted blacks in those days, Hill said.
They went after us. If you had an Afro hairdo and got stopped by a cop, they went after you. We were being persecuted. There's no doubt about it.
Blacks were fighting a just cause back then, he added, yet today some people consider black separatists to be "domestic terrorists."
Back in those days, we were considered 'black revolutionaries.' Now we're considered 'black terrorists.' That's a whole misconception.
Hill arrived in Cuba speaking only high-school Spanish. Learning to live in the country was a difficult adjustment, he said.
But he learned the language, customs and culture. And now he has a Cuban wife, two children and a grandson.

On the steps of El Capitolio

Hill said he has built a life that would be difficult to give up even if he could return to the United States and be forgiven for his crimes.
Basically, if I had an opportunity to go back to the States and be free on the streets and I couldn't come back to Cuba, that would be a tough choice. Right off the top of my head, I don't think I would leave my son and my daughter and my grandson here and not be able to come back to Cuba.
Health care is free in Cuba, he points out.
No, no, I wouldn't give it up, man. You know, I'm too old now. I don't have any retirement plan back in the United States.
He concedes the socialist government isn't perfect.
It's not a perfect society. I'm not a perfect person. Nobody's perfect.
They've made some mistakes just like all governments have. But I've always felt they're constantly trying to work for the people.
See, this is the basic difference. I don't think the United States government works for the American people.
But the Cuban government "has always worked for the Cuban people."

Hill says he's a different man

Asked if he's changed since the hijacking, he said he's gained "patience, understanding and tranquility."

He concedes he has very little money, but says he's in good health, has low blood pressure and thinks "that's pretty good."

And while he still has strong opinions, he said he's not angry anymore.
I'm not an old, bitter revolutionary. I'm not angry at anyone. I just keep on living. That's basically it. I take it as it comes.
Note to the blogosphere: I'll post the full story on Charles Hill once I finish it. Feel free to send me your comments for possible inclusion in the story. I've left messages with Bob Rosenbloom's family in New Mexico and haven't gotten any calls back. I think the family wants to be left alone. I certainly respect that.
I have some leads on some of Hill's relatives in the U.S., but haven't been able to connect with anyone yet.
If you know anyone involved in the case - from Charles Hill to Bob Rosenbloom - and you'd like to make a comment or pass along any information, please let me know. Thanks.

Robert Rosenbloom memorial Web site
Wikipedia entry for Republic of New Afrika

Photo (s) of the Week - Beach Buns

Index to Photo (s) of the Week - August 2008 to June 2009
Two more beach buns

Friday, June 19, 2009

Accused spy's son: Dad's not some fanatic

A 1997 photo of the happy couple.
Source: The New York Times

The New York Times on Thursday quoted family members who are still reeling over the espionage accusations against Kendall Myers, 72, and his wife, Gwen, 71. Gwen Myers’ daughter, Jill Liebler, 52, said:
When the FBI came to the door and told me my mother had been arrested, I kept thinking they must have the wrong house.
Another daughter, Amanda Myers Klein, 40, told the New York Times of the Myers' love for one another.
I have yet to meet a couple who are more in love than the two of them. They are beautiful together.
Kendall Myers' son, Michael, rejected some news organizations' portrayal of his father as a fanatic.
The media has painted a picture of him as a loner, a zealot, a man with an agenda. That’s not who he is.
Also Thursday, authorities filed a court document asking Kendall Myers to promise never to reveal classified information that comes out during the trial unless the court or the government authorizes disclosure - fat chance of that.

The document reads, in part:
I agree that I shall never divulge, publish or reveal, either by word, conduct or any other means, such classified information and documents unless specifically authorized to do so in writing by an authorized representative of the United States government, or as required by the Classified Information Procedures Act, or as otherwise ordered by this Court.
I understand that this agreement and any other non-disclosure agreement will remain binding upon me after the conclusion of trial in United States v. Walter Kendall Myers, Criminal No. 09-150, and any subsequent related proceedings including the appellate process.
Link: Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page

Che Guevara's granddaughter pushes veggie revolt

Lydia Guevara: Do as I say - or I'll shoot you with a baby carrot
Photo credit: Associated Press

Che Guevara's 24-year-old granddaughter promotes vegetarianism in a PETA campaign that debuts in South America in October. PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the AP:
We say the best way to save animals is not to eat them.
In the print ad, Lydia Guevara wears a red beret, camoflage pants and bandoliers of baby carrots. McGraw said the photo:
...very much evokes the tag line of the ad, which is 'Join the vegetarian revolution.' It's an homage of sorts to her late grandfather.
I think the photo could be better, no fault of Guevara's. She looks OK, but she's holding her left arm at an odd angle, like she's about to lean on a wall - and missing. That fist should be raised, defiant, pointing skyward.

Oh, well. It's easy to criticize from afar. Maybe the campaign will include some more exciting shots.

PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, will launch the ad in Argentina where Che Guevara was born.

The AP describes the Guevara ad as "semi-nude." I don't know about that. All I see are baby carrots.

Below are photos from past PETA ad campaigns.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Six-month delay can only help Posada Carriles

A Havana billboard showing Luis Posada Carriles

The Luis Posada Carriles trial is now set to begin on Feb. 1. It had been scheduled to start on Aug. 10, but Posada Carriles' lawyers said that wouldn't give them enough time to prepare.

Defense lawyers cited four reasons why they need more time:
1. The complex nature of the underlying facts and circumstances of the charges;
2. There are reams of documents that the prosecution must provide to the defense, but the defense has only received part of the discovery information;
3. Defense lawyers need time to travel to such foreign destinations as Cuba to interview witnesses, inspect crime scenes and review original documents.
4. They also need time to review classified information and decide how much of it should be kept from public view.
In a document filed June 6, defense lawyers wrote of federal investigators:
...they have been investigating this case since at least the year 2000, have sent two teams of FBI investigators to Cuba (in 2001 and 2006) to inspect the crime scene and interview witnesses, and have had the benefit of a grand jury investigation with subpoena power since at least 2005.
So how, they asked, could they throw together a defense in just a few months?

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone agreed to delay the trial for nearly six months and announced a new schedule:
* Discovery Deadline: October 2, 2009
* Dispositive and Substantive Motions Deadline: October 30, 2009
* Status Conference and Motion Hearing: December 18, 2009, at 2:00 p.m.
* Jury Selection: February 1, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
* Trial: February 1, 2010, at 8:30 a.m.
Lawyers for Posada Carriles say they still have not received:
* tapes of American journalist Ann Louise Bardach's interview with Posada Carriles
* the transcripts of the Bardach tapes
* audible copies of the defendant's statements at an immigration hearing held to consider removing Posada Carriles from the country
* transcripts of the defendant's statements at the removal hearing
* forensic documents related to the underlying allegations
* expert witness summaries
* inspection of original documents
* assistance in obtaining permission to travel to Cuba
The complexity of the case and the possibility that some of the discovery material could embarrass the government favors the defense.

Prosecutors, no doubt, are mindful of what happened in the high-profile case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

In July 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Stevens on seven felony counts of failing to report gifts. But prosecutors withheld evidence that could have helped Stevens and a judge threw out the case in April. Attorney General Eric Holder said:
After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.
The Posada Carriles case is more complicated, more intricate. It's not just a case of accepting bribes or gifts. The suspect's alleged misdeeds stretch back decades. He is a former CIA operative. He's been up to his eyeballs in assassination plots. Discovery material is expected to include sensitive or classified government documents.

The more defense lawyers push for all the documents the government has on Posada Carriles, the more likely they'll come up with bits of ammunition that could blow holes in the prosecutors' case.

Prosecutors are in a difficult spot: If they reveal everything, they may help the defense make this a case about government tactics and methods, not Posada Carriles. But if they don't reveal all they have, they could lose the case for withholding evidence.

Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page

TV Marti: "A station no one watches"

Havana: We can't hear you

Phil Peters on Wednesday told a House subcommittee why it makes no sense to continue funding TV Marti, which has not developed an audience in Cuba despite at least $190 million in tax dollars spent over 19 years. Peters said:

TV Marti has been broadcast from balloons floating in the air over Florida, from satellites in outer space, and now from an airplane that flies figure eights in U.S. airspace south of the Florida Keys.

Nineteen years of effort have not overcome Cuba’s jamming. I don’t think it’s possible to find a broadcast engineer who will explain how a television signal that originates more than 50 miles from its audience, can ever overcome jammers that are located amid the target audience. We cannot repeal the laws of physics.

TV Marti "has proven utterly ineffective," Peters said.

He suggests not only reexamining TV Marti, but taking a broader look at the U.S. government's approach toward Cuba. Rather than pour millions of dollars into ineffective programs, he says, the American government ought to engage Cuba. And for starters, lawmakers ought to approve U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt's proposal to allow all Americans to travel freely to Cuba, he said.

The estimated $190 million spent on TV Marti "could have brought 7,600 Cuban students to America for one-year study programs costing $25,000 apiece."

Or, it could have paid for nearly a million low-cost laptops for Cuban children.

Havana: We can't see you

Peters recalled that Ronald Reagan promoted exchanges with the Soviet Union in 1984. Reagan said:
Civilized people everywhere have a stake in keeping contacts, communication, and creativity as broad, deep, and free as possible. The way governments can best promote contacts among people is by not standing in the way.
Peters' arguments are convincing. It'll be interesting to see whether the government continues funding TV Marti.

Keep in mind that the estimated $190 million is a conservative figure. Delahunt, who heads the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, puts it at $500 million and questions whether U.S. taxpayers have gotten anything for their money. He told VOA News:
TV Marti does not seem to have an audience. It's a station that no one watches. So why spend all the money on it?
Whatever the cost, TV Marti is symptom of a bloated government. Once you start a program, its managers immediately looks for ways to justify its existence. They protect it. They defend it. They build armor around it.

It becomes an institution. People stop questioning whether it even works. And, even more astonishing, cutting the program begins to have political costs. It's ridiculous. It's part of the reason why our federal government is a big, fat, self-perpetuating, money-gobbling machine.

There was a time when a half billion dollars meant something. Now it's pocket change as our national debt grows by nearly $4 billion per day.

Click here to see how much the national debt has grown since I wrote this post

TV Marti cartoon: CubaDebate


Radio and TV Marti - official Web site
The Cuban Triangle - Phil Peters' blog and a link to his testimony on TV Marti
Government Accountability Office - January 2009 report - Broadcasting to Cuba - Actions are Needed to Improve Strategy and Operations
Government Accountability Office - November 2006 report - U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management and Oversight

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Almost a hotel

A quiet spot to relax

A Chinese company was going to build a hotel on this plot of land near Prado and the Malecon. Workers tore down the vacant building that stood here. A billboard announcing the hotel went up. Then almost as quickly it came down.

Myers and wife want house arrest. Lawyers argue case today. New documents filed.

Source of photo: Bluegrass Pundit

Accused spies Kendall and Gwen Myers want to be released from jail pending trial. Their lawyers will argue their case today. They filed this motion to amend judge's detention order.

Also filed on Tuesday was this document, a government motion to protect classified information.

Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soroa, a tropical getaway

This beautiful waterfall, called El Salto, is more than 60 feet high

Soroa is a quiet ecological paradise just 54 miles west of Havana. It features:

* One of the world's largest orchid gardens
* A peculiar old castle built in 1867
* A gorgeous waterfall - and visitors are welcome to swim in the water below it

Soroa is also home to Cuba's national bird, el Tocororo.
Photo credit: Flickr

Tough road ahead for Cuban Five

The Cuban Five are prisoners in the United States, but heroes in Cuba

The Supreme Court's refusal on Monday to hear the Cuban Five's case is a blow to the socialist government, which has made the agents' plight a cornerstone of its political agenda.
No doubt, the Cuban government will continue to use the case to rally nationalist sentiment. The government has held hundreds of marches and rallies in support of the agents over the years. Signs and billboards scattered across the island proclaim, "They will return!"
And two of the agents are scheduled to return to Cuba eventually, although surely not soon enough for the inmates or their loved ones.
Rene Gonzalez, serving a 15-year sentence, is set to be freed on Oct. 7, 2011, according to the Federal Inmate Locator.
So he has two years, three months and 21 days to go, not counting Oct. 7.
Gonzalez was arrested along with the four other Cuban agents on Sept. 12, 1988. They were convicted on June 8, 2001.
The next to be released would be Ruben Campa, also known as Fernando Gonzalez. The Inmate Locator lists his release date as April 1, 2015 - five years, nine months and 16 days away.
His original sentence was 19 years.

Release dates, inmate ages, inmate numbers and prison locations are shown above 

The other three agents all received harsher sentences.
Luis Medina, also known as Ramon Labañino, got a sentence of life plus 18 years. And Antonio Guerrero received a sentence of life plus 10 years.
Inmate Locator doesn't list a release date for them - it just says "Life."

Adriana Perez, wife of Gerardo Hernandez

Gerardo Hernandez was slapped with a sentence of life plus 15 years. Next to his name is the abbreviation: GCT REL.
GCT is Good Conduct Time.
REL is Release.
But what does it mean? Is he eligible for release? Or is he just collecting good conduct time? I don't know and I haven't talked to anyone connected with the case lately.
Federal sentencing rules are complicated and looking for answers in an impersonal government database isn't the best way to find answers.
I thought a life sentence meant life in the federal prison system. According to Wikipedia:
Under the federal criminal code, however, with respect to offenses committed after December 1, 1987, parole has been abolished for all sentences handed down by the federal system, including life sentences, so a life sentence from a federal court will result in imprisonment for the life of the defendant, unless a pardon or reprieve is granted by the President.
At the same time, federal inmates serving life sentences can receive good conduct time, which can amount to as much as 54 days per year. According to the Code of Federal Regulations:
An inmate serving a life sentence may earn extra good time even though there is no mandatory release date from which to deduct the credit since the possibility exists that the sentence may be reduced or commuted to a definite term.
Does anyone have any additional information? Will the three agents serving life terms ever be freed? Do they have any legal options left? Or is a presidential pardon their only hope?

Proposed Good Time Bill to reduce federal prison overcrowding.
Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cuba: Supreme Court's refusal to hear Cuban Five's case a "monstrous injustice"

Ricardo Alarcon

Cuban officials today called the American legal system "corrupt and hypocritical" after the U.S. Supreme Court said it won't review the case of five Cuban agents jailed for nearly 11 years. Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power said the five agents are "unjustly imprisoned" for fighting against "anti-Cuban terrorism."

The Supreme Court justices did not explain their decision. A statement by Cuba's National Assembly presidency said, "The judges did what the Obama administration requested of it."

Cuban officials contend that the five agents did not get a fair trial in Miami. The National Assembly statement said the Supreme Court ignored universal support "expressed by an unprecedented number of 'friend of the Court' briefs, among them 10 Nobel prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities."

The statement said:
In spite of the solid arguments made by the defense attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial...the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice.

We see manifested once more the arbitrariness of a corrupt and hypocritical system and its brutal treatment of our Five brothers.

Our struggle to win their freedom will not diminish for one instant. Now is the time to step up our actions, and not leave even one space uncovered or door unopened.

We are certain that Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramón, and René will continue leading this battle, as they have during these almost 11 years.
Reacting to the court's decision, jailed Cuban agent Gerardo Hernández Nordelo said in a statement:
Based on the experience that we have had, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court's decision. I have no confidence at all in the justice system of the United States. There are no longer any doubts that our case has been, from the beginning, a political case, because not only did we have the necessary legal arguments for the Court to review it, we also have the growing international support as reflected in the Amicus briefs presented to the Court in our favor. I repeat what I said one year ago, June 4, 2008, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.
Ricardo Alarcon heads the National Assembly, which described the Supreme Court decision as a "monstrous injustice."

In 2007, State Department officials said they consider the Cuban Five's case to be a propaganda campaign.

Along the Malecon's Spy vs. spy page

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lonely Planet: "Trinidad lives up to all the tourist brochure hype"

This is Varadero.

And this is "Varadero in reverse."

Trinidad was founded in 1514. It is "quaint, compact and easy to get to know...," Lonely Planet says.

The city was declared a World Heritage site in 1988. Lonely Planet calls it "Cuba's oldest and most enchanting 'outdoor museum.' It says Trinidad: one of the few tourist sites on the island where locals and foreigners can mix in a way that is both relaxed and unguarded. And with more than 300 casas particulares and only three decent city-center hotels, cross-cultural interaction is positively encouraged, creating a kind of Varadero in reverse.
Not far away is Casilda Bay, a popular spot for snorkers and divers.

French Angelfish with a little pal

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tricking Fidel Castro's son was "sick" and "underhanded," one reader says. Was it illegal, too?

From the June 12 Miami Herald

A Miami man posing as a hot Colombian woman enticed Fidel Castro's son into an eight-month Internet relationship full of cyber-kisses, romance and messages of love. 

Some anti-Castro activists got a kick out of the stunt. But I wonder: Did the trickster break the law?

Remember Lori Drew? In November 2008, she was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized computer access. She helped a teen-age employee, Ashley Grills, create the fake MySpace profile of “Josh Evans.”

Josh was supposedly a cute 16-year old boy. Grills and Lori Drew’s daughter Sarah used Josh to lure 13-year old Megan Meier into an Internet relationship.
Megan took the bait. She fell for Josh. Then he told her the world would be better off without her.
Within an hour, Megan hanged herself.
Lori Drew is scheduled to be sentenced on July 2 in U.S. District Court in California. Her lawyers want probation. Prosecutors ask for a three-year jail term and a $5,000 fine.
In the Cuba case, Luis Domínguez said he created a fake profile to get close to Antonio Castro Soto del Valle.

Antonio Castro, in the white shirt, listens to his father, Fidel Castro.
Photo credit: Secretos de Cuba

Domínguez told the Miami Herald he wanted to ''shatter the myth of an impenetrable'' security system surrounding the Castro family. He also complained about the privileges of Cuba's political elites, citing Antonio Castro's "unlimted access" to the Internet:
While everyday Cubans were banned from using the Internet cafes in Havana hotels, this guy had a BlackBerry and unlimited access to the Web.
The June 12 Herald said Domínguez, 46, is a security company employee who operates a Web site "featuring reports on Cuba's armed forces and security services --"
Domínguez made up a character named Claudia Valencia, a 26- to 27-year-old brunette with blond highlights. The Herald described her as "a sports journalist who, like Antonio, follows soccer and technology."

Domínguez used Tagged, a social networking site, to make initial contact with Castro, then at some point the two began chatting via Yahoo! Messenger.

In creating the Claudia profile, did Domínguez violate the terms of service of either Yahoo! or Tagged?

Yahoo!'s terms state:
You also agree to: (a) provide true, accurate, current and complete information about yourself as prompted by the Yahoo! Service's registration form (the "Registration Data") and (b) maintain and promptly update the Registration Data to keep it true, accurate, current and complete. If you provide any information that is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, or Yahoo! has reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, Yahoo! has the right to suspend or terminate your account...
Tagged's terms of service state:
Members shall not misrepresent their identity or impersonate any person.
By impersonating Claudia, did Domínguez break the law? I doubt anyone would prosecute him, but I wonder if he violated any state or federal laws.

Drew's crime was unauthorized access to the MySpace servers - using fraud to access protected information. In a similar way, Domínguez evidently used stealth to access the servers of Tagged and Yahoo!

Antonio Castro, an orthopedic surgeon, is the doctor for Cuba's national baseball team. Source of photo: Secretos de Cuba
Fake profiles abound on the Internet. People create fictional characters all the time. But when does it - or should it - become a crime?

Last week, Texas lawmakers approved a bill that would make it a felony to impersonate someone online. The proposed law would ban the creation of phony social networking profiles aiming to "harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten" others. The Texas governor must sign the bill for it to become law.
In California, U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., has proposed the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which would make it easier to prosecute such cases.

Some critics say her proposal is too vague and could infringe on free speech. What's clear is that the courts are still grappling with out to handle legal issues surrounding social networking.

Antonio Castro holds up his fist after a 3-1 victory over the United States in the Pan American Games in July 2007. Source of Photo: Noticias 24

In May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Oregon woman could sue Yahoo! Inc. "for failing to make good on a promise to remove a fake, lewd profile" posted by her disgruntled ex-boyfriend.
Cecilia Barnes filed a lawsuit in March 2005 to try to force Yahoo! to take down a profile that "contained nude photographs of Barnes and her boyfriend, taken without her knowledge, and some kind of open solicitation... to engage in sexual intercourse."
After that, she was bombarded with calls and visits from men who expected sex.

Antonio Castro hasn't made any public comments Claudia, the fake Colombian Internet girlfriend. But some Herald readers were outraged, seeing Castro as a victim, a surprising development in anti-Castro Miami. Among their comments:
* This is pathetic! - Medcom
* The Herald should be embarrassed to print this crap on page one. - Georgemia
* This is not worthy to even be reported. It was a sick, immature and underhanded thing to do. It is a disgrace. Aren't there better things to do with your time? - marianola
* This is trash journalism and only helps the regime in Cuba show how corrupt the Miami exiles really are. - peteracosta
* Pathetic and sad examples of what has become of the once powerful and resonant voice of the exile community. - Pa55ion
Antonio Castro with an admirer. 
Source of photo: An Antonio Castro Facebook page

I have never met Antonio Castro and don't pretend to know what goes on among Cuba's political elites, but I'll recount a story I heard about him.

A Portugal diplomat told me that he went out with Antonio Castro and two of Fidel Castro's other sons one night. They went to the Habana Cafe nightclub at the Melia Cohiba Hotel to hear salsa star Issac Delgado.

But the doorman told them the club was full, and they turned to leave.

Suddenly, someone yelled, "Hey, it's the Portuguese ambassador!" and the doorman immediately let them in.

Incredibly, no one recognized the Castro sons. Nor did they try to use their father's name to get a table. I can't imagine that happening anywhere else in Latin America.

I'm sure Antonio Castro lives better than many Cubans. I'd expect that. But he shouldn't be punished for being the son of Fidel Castro.

Note: I added information about Tagged on June 14. The original post addressed only Yahoo!'s terms of service.