Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cuban race relations as examined through music

Cubanocast brings us Nelson Guirado's analysis and reflections on pre-Castro Cuba's race relations. At the very least, this is an interesting and enjoyable compilation of some great Cuban classics.

Check it out here.

Saturday Song: Vivo en Dictadura by Carli C4

Cubans have their doubts about Fidel

From The Miami Herald:

Fidel Castro's reemergence stirs little emotion among Cubans

As Cuba-watchers from South Florida to Washington speculate about the state of Fidel Castro's health, those on the island worry more about the future, not the past.

On Friday, many children spent the day marching the streets in preparation for a celebration honoring the birth of Cuban patriot José Martí. Their parents did what they always do: tried to scratch out a living.

New photos of Fidel Castro released Friday along with gloomy remarks from him hinting that he will not be around forever did little to change any of that -- especially because most did not see the images, which were kept out of the Cuban news media.

Many Cubans said they had assumed he was already dead and were relieved to see him among the living -- if only because they fear changes that could take place under the leadership of his less trusted brother Raúl.

(Key quote: "Anyone can write letters,'' said Yamila, a hair stylist. "I think today's note might have been written by his brother. People here have wondered for a while how much of those columns comes from him and how much is from people around him.'')

Click here for the whole story.

A dictator's mystery stroll

From the International Herald Tribune:

Chavez says Fidel Castro walks in Havana streets

Friday, February 27, 2009

By Frank Jack Daniel

Cuba's ailing former leader Fidel Castro, not seen in public for almost three years, walked the streets of Havana in a "miracle" that made people cry, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday.

(Key quote: "Of course he planned it so there would be no record of it. But there are some photos I have seen. I consider myself privileged," Chavez said. Chavez did not say when the walk took place.)

Click here for the whole story.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Miami Herald: Lift tavel restrictions

From The Miami Herald:

Lift restrictions on travel to Cuba

OUR OPINION: President should avoid gimmicks, honor pledge to grant visits

Lawmakers in Washington are showing once again how difficult it is to change U.S. policy toward Cuba in meaningful ways. The latest legislative proposal moving through Congress would kill enforcement of regulations that restrict travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans. This is an objective we have long championed, but Congress has picked the worst way to go about it -- making it impossible to enforce existing regulations without tackling the regulations themselves.

Click here for the whole editorial.

Oppression and Christianity in Cuba

From Mission Network News:

Cuban government remains unfriendly toward Christians

Cuba (MNN) ― Persecution remains high in Cuba, though unconventionally.

"In Cuba, it is different than in some other areas," says Ken Leggatt of World Serve Ministries. "Pastors aren't arrested typically, or beaten, or persecuted in that type of manner. It's more the situation where the government enforces laws that are on the books for everybody, but with the tendency towards punishing or using them to annoy or create hardships to Christians."

An examples of this is a law where everyone was told they had to buy a new refrigerator. Citizens were allowed to take out loans to buy the refrigerators, but church planters and Christians were prohibited from getting loans. Many similar cases have made life difficult for believers in the communist country.

Click here for the whole article.

FLAMUR leads currency protests

From Uncommon Sense:

Cuban activists arrested after restaurant sit-ins

One of the major fronts in the opposition to the Castro dictatorship is an ongoing campaign to have the Cuban peso, a practically worthless currency used to pay most workers,have the same value as the convervetible currency (CUC), which has a more exclusive circulation but is all that is accepted at the better stores and restaurants. Lead by the Federation of Latin American Rural Women (FLAMUR), the "With The Same Currency" campaign is a grassroots effort to break the economic apartheid of the Cuban people.


As a result of these actions, three activists were detained by State Security police in Havana: Alejandro Jose Botello Valdes, Georgina Noa Montes, and Manual Jose Linares Bermudez. In Matanzas, four individuals were detained, they are: Daraisi Garcia Mendez, Armando Delgado Valdez, Yaima Gomez Tara, Roberto Lazo Gonzalez. As of this time, there whereabout are unknown. In Santiago de Cuba and Pinar del Rio, the sit-ins were successful as the management of the establishments accepted pay in Cuban pesos.

Click here for the whole story.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NYC rally for democracy March 1

(Note: This is not a Raíces de Esperanza event.)


Pro-democracy rally for Cuba
March 1, 2009
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
315 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
(Outside the Cuban mission to the UN)

Click here for a blog with more information about the rally.

Facebook users, click here to RSVP for the rally.

Here are fliers for the rally


Congress takes first step in making illegal travel easier

From The Miami Herald:

House passes bill easing Cuba travel restrictions

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a huge spending bill Wednesday that tweaked U.S-Cuba policy, making it easier for Cuban-Americans to get away with illegally traveling to the communist country.

The bill -- which faces a rocky path in the Senate -- discontinues funding for enforcement of violations of the rules that limit how often Cubans living here can visit home.

Click here for the whole story.

Novel set in the "special period"

From The Miami Herald:

Testing the watery dividing line between Cuba, U.S.

Among the many insights Achy Obejas garnered while writing Ruins, the meaning of the ocean might be one of the most intriguing. Her novel is set in Cuba in 1994, shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, and it follows Usnavy Martín Leyva, a 54-year-old bodega worker and devout believer in the revolution.

Click here for the ret of the story and an interview novelist Achy Obejas.
Click here for Achy Obejas' official site.

Regime owes Canadian energy company

From The Miami Herald:

Cuba to pay $162M debt to Sherritt over 5 years

Associated Press

Cuba will pay off the $162 million it owes Sherritt International over the next five years, the Canadian energy concern said Wednesday, and the company projected its Cuban oil production will fall by a quarter because the communist government bought out a production sharing agreement.

Click here for the whole story.

Brookings' Cuba project co-directors on the embargo

From The Miami Herald:

Use 'smart power' to help Cubans

Contrary to popular myth and public misunderstanding, if President Barack Obama wishes to change the U.S. policy toward Cuba, he has ample authority to do so. If he takes charge of Cuba policy, he can turn the embargo into an effective instrument of ''smart power'' to achieve the United States' policy objectives in Cuba.

Click here for the whole op-ed.

Guillermo Rigondeaux defected, in Miami

From The Miami Herald:

Wife: Cuban Olympic boxing champ defected to US

Associated Press Writer

Former Olympic boxing champion Guillermo Rigondeaux defected to the United States, 18 months after he was kicked off the Cuba team as punishment for a previous defection attempt.

Click here for the rest of the story.

House legislation would change rules on travel and trade

From The Miami Herald:

Bill would make Cuba travel easier


The 1,128-page budget bill that will begin to work its way through Congress this week contains key paragraphs that alter the shape of U.S.-Cuba policy, and ease Cuba family travel restrictions by not funding enforcement.

Click here for the full article

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Author and protagonist of "Fighting Castro: A Love Story" visit USF CASA

The University of South Florida's Cuban American Student Association (CASA) — a Raíces de Esperanza Affiliate Organization — hosted author Kay Abella, author of "Fighting Castro: A Love Story" and the book's real-life protagonist Lino Fernández.

A couple of anecdotes from USF CASA President Frank Hernández:
The event truly was an amazing experience. I can go on and on about all the amazing things that occurred over a two-day period, but I will just share two stories.

One was an email I received before the event. A gentlemen who lives in Tampa sent me a short synopsis of his experience in jail (in Cuba) with Lino Fernández. What stood out was his grateful nature in thanking USF CASA for bringing Lino to Tampa. He said that he was going to take the opportunity to see Lino again after so many years to thank him personally for helping him survive jail. In his own words: "If it wasn't for Lino, I wouldn't be alive today".

The second story: A family member of one of our panelists thanked us for having the event, so that his story could be shared and, most importantly, so that these great men (ex-political prisoners) could be acknowledged for the sacrifice they made for their country. The family member of the ex-political prisoner told me that our event was the first time in 40 years that her father was recognized publicly for his heroism and courage.
USF CASA members take a moment out for a photo with panelists. Kay Abella (back row, center) spoke about her book, "Fighting Castro: A Love Story," which was inspired by real-life protagonist and Cuban political prisoner Lino Fernández (standing to Abella's left). Other former political prisoners on the panel were (from left): Felipe Villamil (22 years), José M. Rodríguez (17 years), Robert Pizano (18 years), and Fr. Miguel A. Loredo (10 years).

For information on how to get involved at USF CASA or other Raíces Student Network Affiliate Organizations, send an e-mail to

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conference call with a Cuban dissident

Earlier this month, Raíces de Esperanza, together with the Cuban Democratic Directorate, held a conference call with Cuban dissident Abel López Pérez.

Click here for one call participants thoughts about the call, as well as a brief transcript of his questions for López Pérez and the answers he got (en español).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

University of Miami to host sixth annual Raíces conference

April 2-5, 2009
University of Miami, Coral Gable, Florida
Apply online at