Friday, April 30, 2010

Cuban journalist: Posada Carriles has wide support

Cuban expats pack the Versailles restaurant on Calle Ocho.

I'm just back from a quick trip to Miami. I couldn't resist sampling the lechon asado - or roast pig - at the landmark Versailles restaurant on Calle Ocho. The lunch crowd included everyone from Cuban exiles to Asian tourists.
Versailles customers told me that Luis Posada Carriles sometimes shows up at the restaurant and sells his paintings.

 Posada Carriles, the artist. Photo credit: Cuaderno de Cuba

Posada Carriles is the former CIA operative linked to the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed 73 people. He is now awaiting trial on perjury and other federal charges. His trial has dragged on for many months and he is, no doubt, piling up a lot of legal fees.
I asked Cuban journalist Nelson Rubio who in the exile community helps Posada Carriles and he said, "Everyone."
Rubio had invited me to join him on his radio program on April 29. He broadcasts from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Radio Actualidad, 1020 AM. We didn't talk about Posada Carriles on the show, but I was curious to hear Rubio's thoughts.
Once I got back home, I surfed the 'Net to learn more about Posada Carriles' support. I found, for instance, that Cuban filmmaker Agustin Blazquez called him harmless in 2007 and accused U.S. authorities of violating Posada Carriles' rights.
Cuban officials say they'd like to see U.S. authorities take stronger action against Posada Carriles.
A Cuban official told me in an e-mail that he believes the U.S. government is protecting the defendant. "That's what I think should be denounced. This killer walks the streets freely," he said.

Below, a 2006 display about a Posada Carriles art exhibit in the Spanish-language newspaper Libre.

Links: sells reprints of Posada Carriles' paintings for $39 to $75.
Along the Malecon's Anti-Castro militants page

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Posada Carriles' case delayed again

An "unavoidable scheduling conflict" has forced prosecutors to ask that the May 20 status conference in Luis Posada Carriles' case be rescheduled for June 2.
The judge granted the request, which Posada Carriles' defense lawyers did not oppose.
The motion does not explain the scheduling conflict. That's no surprise. Prosecutors, the defense and the judge have carried out - and dragged out - this case under a veil of secrecy, some of it taxpayer-financed.
I wonder what unavoidable conflict led to the need for the scheduling change. Doesn't the Department of Justice have anyone who can keep track of these things?
For fiscal 2010, DOJ budgeted for 111,993 positions, which is more than the population of Allentown, Pa. For 2011, DOJ is asking for another 2,880 positions. Seems like DOJ ought to be able to spare someone to handle scheduling.
OK, that's an unfair comparison, I know. Let's stick to the U.S. Attorneys' resources. Fiscal 2010:
Request for 2011:
  • $2.041 billion, an increase of $107 million
  • 10,731 positions, including 5,519 attorneys, an increase of 102 positions, including 68 attorneys.
Looks like Acting U.S. Attorney Michael J. Mullaney has plenty of warm bodies. And these folks aren't cheap. His legions of attorneys earn from $62,467 to $155,500 per year, according to the DOJ.

Let's just hope one of them will be able to read or locate a calendar so this Posada Carriles case can go to trial before the 82-year-old defendant reaches his 90th birthday.

Here's the text of prosecutors' motion in Posada Carriles' case:
The United States of America, by and through Michael J. Mullaney, Acting U.S. Attorney, T. J. Reardon III, Jerome J. Teresinski, and Paul Ahern, Trial Attorneys, respectfully moves the Court to amend its Order Setting Status Conference (Doc. 419) of February 18, 2010, which presently sets the Status Conference in this case for May 20, 2010 at 9:00 AM. The United States requests that the Status Conference be rescheduled for June 2, 2010.
Counsel for the defendant LUIS POSADA CARRILES has been consulted in this regard and has graciously permitted us to represent that the defendant has no objection to this proposed rescheduling.
Regrettably, counsel for the United States did not realize at the time the May 20, 2010, Status Conference was set, that there then existed an unavoidable, scheduling conflict. We are pleased to learn that granting this Unopposed Motion to Reschedule and setting June 2, 2010, for the Status Conference will not cause substantial administrative inconvenience to the Court and are grateful to the Court for its courtesy.
WHEREFORE, the United States respectfully moves the Court to amend its Order Resetting Status Conference from its currently scheduled date of May 20, 2010 to June 2, 2010.

Along the Malecon's Anti-Castro militants page

Video of Havana Auto Rally

A 1956 MG led the start of the Fifth "A Lo Cubano" Castrol Cuba. I posted video of the event here.
Organizers said 65 automobiles - and 15 motorcycles - were entered in the rally. Drivers were required to complete the 40.8-mile course in 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Their automobiles were built between 1929 and 1975. About 65 percent of the cars were mostly original with "their bodies, engines, gearboxes and differentials" still intact, according to the event's website.
The winning driver was: MÁXIMO RAFAEL FRANCO.
Their car: A 1955 CHEVROLET BEL AIR.

Tour of Fidel Castro's birthplace

Historian Lazaro Castro

Below are links to video I shot at the family plantation where Fidel and Raul Castro grew up near Biran, Cuba.
Nearly 40,000 people visited the site in 2008. The main house and other structures contain all kinds of family photos and other mementos - more than 1,000 objects in all, ranging from an old Westinghouse refrigerator to a rifle that Raul Castro gave to his mother.

A few of the images that stood out:
  • The safe that Juanita Castro supposedly broke into before leaving the country in 1964
  • The fire extinguishers, evidently added after the main building burned in 1954.
  • The first family car, shown above.
  • The pool table, where Raul Castro was evidently superior to his older brother, Fidel. 
  • Lumpy beds.
  • The Castro family cock-fighting ring.

    Fidel Castro's bedroom

    These images are from the plantation where Fidel and Raul Castro grew up. Above, Fidel Castro's bedroom and closet, showing his baseball jersey.

    Fidel Castro in the school cafeteria.

    On the volleyball team.

    In science class. Looks like Castro's second from left.

    Fidel Castro and others had appeared on this page in Bohemia magazine and was listed as one of four aces of war. Castro's mother, Lina Ruz, didn't like Fidel Castro appearing on the page next to Manuel Urrutia. She regarded him as a traitor to the revolution, Cuban historian Lazaro Castro said. So, as the story goes, she got a photo of Raul Castro and pasted it over Urrutia's picture.

    Fidel Castro's maternal grandmother, Doña Dominga.

    Castro's high school diploma.

    NY Times contributions, Oct. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009

    Below are microblog posts I sent to the New York Times' Cuba Page from Oct. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009. I am taking part in a Times experiment that enlists outside experts to help keep readers up to date with events in Cuba. Click here for 2010 contributions.

    Cubans who can afford it often eat roast pig to celebrate the New Year.

    Dec. 31, 2009 2:39 PM EST: New Year's Day is the 51st anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban revolution. Castro loyalists in Havana will mark the occasion with music, dance and 21 blasts from a cannon.

    Dec. 28, 2009 4:23 PM EST: Cuba has a rich variety of potholes, thanks in part to heat and torrential rain. The country would need 19 million tons of asphalt to fill the holes and repair its battered roads, but produces only a million tons of the sticky black stuff every year.

    Parrandas de Remedios. Photo credit: Getty Images

    DEC. 22, 2009 1:39 PM EST: In the 1820s, a young priest in a sleepy Cuban town ordered children to use whistles, horns and other noise-makers to wake lazy parishioners for Christmas Eve mass. The practice blossomed into one of the country's most colorful and unusual celebrations, las Parrandas de Remedios.

    Las Parrandas de Remedios. Photo credit: Getty Images

    DEC. 21, 2009 12:59 PM EST: A Colorado scientist accused of spreading dengue fever in Cuba as part of a biological warfare attack in the 1970s denied the accusation in his first in-depth account of the episode.

    DEC. 4, 2009 1:05 AM EST: and some other travel Web sites don't book private B&Bs in Cuba to avoid breaking U.S. law. That steers foreign tourists to state-owned hotels, exactly the opposite of what American economic sanctions intend.

    NOV. 25, 2009: An unusual sea slug that gives off light when bothered has been found in Cuba, touted as a "hotspot for marine diversity."

    NOV. 23, 2009: Cuba's socialist government approved free sex-change operations in June 2008. Now comes another perk of universal health care: Free penis implants.

    Photo credit: Zoriah

    NOV. 18, 2009: A famed photojournalist finds condoms scattered across the streets of Havana and wonders: "Is sex is the national sport of Cuba?"

    A Cuban baseball fan roots for her favorite team

    NOV. 12, 2009: A Web site asked readers to submit names of baseball players who have deserted Cuban teams. The number quickly hit 200 and continues to climb.

    Photo credit: YouTube

    NOV. 3, 2009: Pro-democracy activists, including the son of a revolutionary hero, are in Week 4 of a sit-in. A sign at their improvised Havana headquarters reads, "House of Freedom." Government supporters stop by regularly to yell insults.

    OCT. 30, 2009: Children dubbed "The Little Bilinguals" will celebrate Halloween in Havana. But most Cubans won't. Pumpkins are scarce and cost more than $2 each - three days' wages for most workers.

    Juanita Castro. Photo credit: UPI

    OCT. 26, 2009: Retired Miami pharmacist Juanita Castro, 76, told a Spanish-language TV station on Sunday that she worked with the CIA in the 1960s even as the agency plotted to assassinate her brother, Fidel. Her new book hits the stands today.

    OCT. 20, 2009: Fame-seeking Florida snake collector made dubious claims about mysterious 1959 disappearance of Cuban revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos, historian now says.

    OCT. 20, 2009: Old-school boxing gym in Havana has "mystical appeal" and "almost ancient equipment." Trainer calls it "Mecca of Cuban boxing."

    Yoani Sanchez hitches a ride

    OCT. 14, 2009: Havana blogger Yoani Sanchez said Cuban authorities this week denied her permission to travel to New York. Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism plans to honor her today for pursuing her craft with “an enormous amount of guts.”

    Orlando Luis Pardo. Photo credit: Boring Home Utopics

    OCT. 13, 2009: Havana photographer Orlando Luis Pardo is suddenly popular in Miami. Cuban exiles ask him to take pictures of sights they miss: the old family home, a street corner, a landmark. Pardo does it for free and posts the photos on his blog.

    OCT. 6, 2009: An accused CIA operative built bombs for anti-Castro exiles - and volunteered to spy on them, too, newly declassified documents say. Luis Posada Carriles was not your typical "boom and bang" individual.

    Man with "bazooka" fumigates home in Tarara, east of Havana

    OCT. 5, 2009: A New Yorker living in Havana curses slow-flying mosquitoes and the strangers who enter her home with the dreaded "bazooka," aimed at killing the skeeters with a noxious cloud.

    Fidel Castro marches past the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

    OCT. 1, 2009: Fidel Castro's primary home is thought to be located near the 14th hole of the former Havana Biltmore golf course.

    From Tracey Eaton, freelance journalist

    Background on NY Times microblogs

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Cubans dance at show for tourists

    Cuba plans to use carrier pigeons in Sunday's elections

    El Túnel

    Municipal elections are set for Sunday. Electoral officials plan to use more than 500 carrier pigeons to relay results from mountainous areas where there are no phones.
    The Miami Herald reports:
    More than 8.4 million Cubans aged 16 or older will be able to vote in 29,856 polling places for more than 15,000 candidates for seats on the island's 169 municipal councils.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Country living in Cuba

    Scenes from a small family farm: A man, his wife, two children and some livestock, including pigs and ducks.