Sunday, October 30, 2005


press realease from Freedom House.....

NEW YORK, October 27, 2005 -- The European Parliament's decision to award Cuban activists its annual Sakharov Prize is a highly deserved honor, but the European Union must do more to hold the Cuban government accountable for its ongoing human rights abuses, Freedom House said today.

The award, named for renowned Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was given Wednesday to "Cuba's Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco), a group of women who regularly demonstrate peacefully in Cuba on behalf of relatives jailed over two years ago during a widespread crackdown on Cuban dissidents and independent journalists. Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim, and the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders also received the award.

"The Ladies in White are the wives, sisters, and daughters of Cuban political prisoners, and through their dignified and courageous acts of defiance they have awakened the world's conscience to the brutal nature of the Castro regime," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "These women are the standard-bearers of Cuba's growing democracy movement."

Of the 75 Cuban citizens rounded up in March 2003, 61 remain confined to squalid prison conditions, serving sentences averaging 20 years.

Freedom House congratulates the award winners and praises the European Union's efforts to champion human rights defenders, especially those operating within closed and repressive societies.

The European Parliament's decision comes at a significant moment in EU-Cuba relations, as European pressure on the Cuban regime to uphold basic principles of human rights and democratic reforms has wavered over the past year.

"The EU's decision to honor and support the work of Cuba's Ladies in White, while commendable, must be followed by a renewed commitment by European leaders to support the peaceful work of Cuba's democracy advocates and to hold the Cuban government accountable for its continued violations of individual freedoms and the rule of law," said Ms. Windsor.
Every Sunday afternoon since April 2003, the Ladies in White, dressed in all white clothing, have been marching through the streets of Havana and other provincial Cuban cities. The women have often been compared to Argentina's Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, known around the world for their heroic demonstrations against the disappearance of Argentina's missing sons and daughters from the Dirty Wars of the 1970's and 80's.

The European Parliament's Sakharov Prize has now been awarded twice in the past three years to members of Cuba's democracy movement. In December 2002, Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá was awarded the prize in recognition of the Varela Project, a grassroots initiative that to-date has collected over 30,000 signatures in support of a nationwide referendum on Cuba's socialist constitution. More than 40 Varela activists were among the 75 detained in March 2003.
Freedom House has consistently rated Cuba "Not Free" in its annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World, and in Freedom of the Press, its annual survey of global media freedom.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bush to visit Miami

President Bush will be visiting Miami, FL today with various members of the South Florida Congressional delegation. He lands at Miami International Airport at around 12:30 PM and will be having a meeting with key officials later in the day at the Hurricane Center at FIU.

Monday, October 24, 2005

God Help Us!

For all those dealing with yet another hurricane... May the Lord look after you and your family.... estoy resando para todo!!......

Thankfully my family is safe, with the exception of a few dozen missing shingles, all things are good... and Dad, stop video tapping the storm in the middle of the street!! Get in the house already!!! Por Dios!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Stupido Pinkos!

The "Kumbaya"* team is back, this time its with CODEPINK.... these people have organized "friendship visits" to hug and love castro and party in Havana for New Years. Then a month later they will go and celebrate with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela..... (thank you Babalu Blog for bring this to our attention) ....

CODEPINK says they want to go to Cuba because it is their constitutional right to travel. I wish they would understand that those inalienable rights, granted by our fore fathers that they are seeking to express, is a foreign concept to the Cuban citizens.

The simple idea of “life, liberty and property for the pursuit of happiness” does not exists on the island. A Cubans life is not their own; it belongs to the government. Cubans have no liberty; they can not express themselves. They can not speak their minds (without going to jail that is) or even travel within their own country. Cubans can't own land; in fact, they can't even own a cell phone. The pursuit of happiness? What happiness? Though Cubans are a joyful people, they have learned to put up with a lot, for many of them, their happiest moments occur when they can escape the island and reach freedom.... The so-called itinary for Codepink states they will go “visit with farmers at their co-ops” (owned by castro, where many children are forced to work endless hours away from their families.); “[visit] doctors at their family clinics” (which don’t have resources to attend to their patients – but I bet that week there will be plenty of medicine to show off to the Americans); “ [to visit] dancers at the National Folklore Group, and young people at the ballpark.” (I wonder who will be chosen by the government to talk to these self professed freedom lovers”)….. We must all wonder, who exactly will Codepink meet with? A group of handpicked Cubans by the castro government? We all wonder if their trip will be constantly monitored by Cuban officials.

I want to ask Codepink, who are fighting so hard in this country for "progressive thought", Why do you not want to bring such progressive thought into the entire world. Why do you want to express your freedom to party at the expense of those that suffer each day at the hands of a murdering dictator? You state on your web page that "Codepink is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities."...

So, CodePink will: Why don't you help create social justice in Cuba? Will you meet with opposition leaders? Will you ask for the immediate release of political prisoners? Will you ask for the immediate release of journalist from the gulags? Will you ask for an immediate end to the apartheid system that exists between Cubans and tourist? Will you protest the child prostitution rings in Cuba? Will you ask that government allow the operation of libraries, and not imprison librarians? Will you ask for an end to the child labor camps? Will you force the government of Cuba to give their citizens life-affirming activities, and allow them to live in freedom and not in constant panic, hunger and suffering? .....

I bet not!!!!….. Your only mission in Cuba is your personal satisfaction and intoxication in the beautiful beaches my family was kicked out of. As you said yourselves “Don’t miss this historic chance to dance salsa, drink mojitos, and visit beautiful beaches”… I love how you have your priorities in order – there is no part to help the suffering of the Cuban people. If you want to do all that so badly, just go to Miami! In fact, I can make a pretty good mojito. Come to my house, I’ll make you a mojito and tell you the real Cuban story!!

Codepink's only mission to Cuba is a selfish excuse to go against a Bush policy, that will cause no positive impact in the world, but only lead to more human suffering by providing additional revenue to the Cuban dictatorship. Shame on you Codepink, for you do not stand for freedom, you only care about yourselves and not the suffering of thousands of people. This is just a lame attempt to "rebel" against the President because of your general distaste for him. Stop acting like a puberty stricken teenager and realize the consequences of your actions. As you fight to travel to the island, millions more die to leave. Congratulations on having a complete lack of consciousness.

For more information on these so called “friendship visits” go to babalu blog. As usual he has a wonderful insightful and informative commentary and hacks away at all these Pinko groups….

* Kumbaya team – I call them Kumbaya team, or Kumbaya-ers those people that want the world to hold hands and sign together in happiness and peace, who live in some idealistic reality that everyone loves each other and can get along. Who doesn’t understand there is real evil in this world. Those who do not see the evil that does exist because of their idealistic principles and their inability to see reality.

No Miers And Castro are NOT alike!!!

I understand not every Conservative, and defiantly not every American, is super excited about the nomination of Harriet Miers as the next Supreme Court justice, YET comparing her to Fidel Castro is just a little out there!!! Miers may not be the perfect nominee, but comparing her to the devil himself goes way over the parameters of reason….

Today on Reason Magazine’s online blog, they had a post titled, " How Are Miers And Castro Alike? How Are They Different? " . In it, they list the few (and CLEARLY there are few) reasons the ruthless communist dictator can even be compared with this freedom loving, law abiding American. The magazine uses the issue of abortion as a means for the comparison… but come on people… How can anyone compare Miers trying to stay ambiguous on abortion (in a failed attempt to become a more viable option for both political parties) to dictator castro. His latest attempt to say abortion is bad and that he wants to stop sexual tourism is full of crap!!!

The socialist island lives off of tourism, and especially sexual tourism - providing over $2 billion a year to Cuba. The police don’t even imprison jineteras - prostitutes any more. It's part of the “cultural landscape.” Abortion has for a long time been a disgustingly abused way of birth control on the island. A practice allowed by Castro. Your going to tell me that this immoral, murderous dictator suddenly had some change of heart, and cares about the unborn and wants to stop one of the most popular means of revenue to the island! Yeah right! Money is money and Fidel Castro doesn't care where it comes from, as long as it's in his pockets. This is just another publicity stunt trying to show Castro as a nice guy, "Santo Fidel"…. Thankfully there are many of us that are not blinded by the smoke he is pumping out…

On another note, though Harriet Miers isn’t my ideal pick either -I would have much preferred a Hispanic on the court - I don’t think she is the monster that everyone is trying to portray her to be. Is she the most qualified for the court? No. Is she the worst decision ever? I don’t think so. She does have an impressive resume and has fought alot of opposition in her life. This won't be the first time she has had an uphill battle … I think that this view of this nomination, like most things in America these days (unfortunately) is based on perception. The White House blew the roll out of this nomination, probably because of all the scandals, but we will just have to wait and see how this possible Supreme Court Justice will do come November.

To read the post go to Reason -

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ok so now you have your stinkin’ picture!!

Today Texan Representative Tom DeLay turned himself in to the Harris Country Sheriff's office. The deposed House majority leader was booked on conspiracy and money laundering charges and was finger printed and his mug shot was taken.

Ronnie Earle, the Travis Country District Attorney who has been attacking delay for years and got the indictment, must have cringed when the picture came out. Delay's mug shot looks better then his House of Representatives photo!!! Delay is all smiles, with a nice suit and his Member of Congress pin. ... Who ever got him ready for this picture is a GENIUS!

I know that Earle, and his democratic cronies, where hoping for a nasty horrible mug shot, a la' Pee Wee Herman. Oohh so sad. tear, tear for you!! What a shocker when the Congressman's mug shot made him look like the "Employee of the Month" and not the sketchy-creepy politico that Earl had dreamed up.

I wonder if he will have nightmares of Delay's smiley faces? ... We know that Earl and the Democrats were hoping of a picture/mug shot they could plaster in the mass media. Dreams of sugar plum fairies passing around pamphlets, flyers and national commercials highlighting a mug shot of guilt ridden Delay, forcing the image down the throats of Americans with a slogan- This Man Is A Criminal and so are ALL Republicans!.... umm ok, try to use that message with this picture... Delay looks great!... As my co-workers would say "this picture is brilliant!"

Delay is scheduled for his initial court appearance tomorrow. His bail is set for $10,000. His lawyer will ask the scheduled lawyer to step down. The judge is a active democrat.

Just for comparison sake, let's take a look at mug shots more in the likeness of the vision Earl had for Delay's picture (Nick Nolte, Paul Reubens - akaMr. Pee Wee Herman and Robert Downey Jr.)..... sorry Earl, no crazy hair, no nasty facial hair, not drug induced look...

For more information about Delay or stupid mug shots go to The Smoking Gun.

Why NOT me!!

urrrrr.... didn't win the power ball lottery of a total of $340 million... oh the dreams I had.... Some person in Oregon won!!.... Oregon, how about a struggling young professional in D.C.!... Oh well it was only $5, maybe next time... Even a Senator from NH won $850,000....

on another note, the lottery does say a lot about the RIDICULOUS nature of our taxes... The jackpot of $340 million is a payout of about $130... ummm what happened to like half the money? Taxes! Yes there are way too many taxes in this country!

Ice Cream and Commies both give me headaches!

Great Op-Ed from the Wall Street Journal. Long live Capitalism!!!

Ice Cream Hangover

October 20, 2005; Page A15

STOWE, Vt. -- I've always prided myself on conscientiously avoiding funding anti-free-market liberal causes in America, so you won't ever catch me pouring Newman's Own oil-and-vinegar dressing on my salad. But I confess to an addiction to Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey and the greatest flavor ever invented in ice-creamdom, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. I draw the line, however, at the now-retired Rainforest Crunch. The name itself is nauseating. Eating a rain forest?

So this weekend, while in Vermont to speak at the Freedom Fest sponsored by the Ethan Allen Institute, a conservative state think tank (150 people showed up -- more freedom-lovers than I would have thought resided in the blue state that gave us Howard Dean and Congress's only avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders), I paid a visit to the world-famous Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory.

To be in Vermont and not visit this landmark would be as unforgivable as visiting Rome and not going to the Colosseum. So I slapped down three bucks and waited in the gift shop where a pint of ice cream costs $3.99 -- which to me borders on price-gouging. (One of the supreme ironies of this socially conscious firm is that it is one of the best capitalists you'll ever come across.)

The tour itself is a 30-minute propaganda campaign explaining why the company's founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their unwavering commitment to the environment and economic justice.

Meanwhile, their factory is a monument to the efficiencies of capitalism and technological progress: Several dozen giant computer-operated machines churn out hundreds of thousands of cartons a day. I half expect the massive energy-gulping freezers to be solar-paneled or powered by green-friendly windmills, but no, they use lots and lots of conventional electricity. It turns out that if you want really good ice cream, you just have to tolerate a little more global warming. That's a trade-off that I personally am willing to make.

Most of my fellow tourists are a bit on the chubby side, and a few start wheezing as we climb the half-flight of stairs to the observation area. These folks need another scoop of Cherry Garcia like a hole in the head. Although this company touts its "wholesome and natural ingredients mixed with euphoric concoctions," the truth is that Ben & Jerry's ice cream mostly contains two hazardous ingredients: fatty cream and sugar.

Herein lies a second irony: This product is probably about as good for your health as a pack of Camel cigarettes -- and at least cigarettes carry the Surgeon General's warning labels. At Ben & Jerry's, the saying goes "if you can't eat a whole pint … in one sitting, you aren't really trying." But if you do, you might as well be injecting your arteries with Elmer's glue. And they have no qualms about marketing this dangerous product to children. If you want to know the definition of a liberal's dilemma, just wait till the trial lawyers slap Ben & Jerry's with a billion-dollar lawsuit.

Our guide is almost apologetic when he tells us that back in 2000 our lovable heroes got filthy rich by selling out to corporate food giant Unilever. But never fear: In the tour video, the new, aptly named CEO, Walt Freese, assures us that "our commitment to social and economic justice and the environment is as important to us as profitability. It's our heritage." I nearly have to wipe away tears streaming down my cheeks.

It is fortuitous that I am here the very week Ben & Jerry's announced that, for the first time in 10 years, it will get back to "leading with its values" by spending $5 million on a social awareness TV ad campaign. More than one analyst has wondered aloud whether this is just a slick Madison Avenue advertising gimmick to hike profits. After all, corporate responsibility has become the chic new marketing theme for Fortune 500 companies like British Petroleum, Starbucks and even GE. But Mr. Freese assures us that "this isn't a short-term strategy to drive up sales. These are issues that are important for our society to address."

And just what are those issues? Here our earnest tour guide raises his chin a bit and proudly declares that the first ads are dedicated to saving the family farm. When I burst out laughing, 22 sets of angry eyes glared at me. For the past 100 years, as the productivity of the American farmer has surged to unprecedented heights, the number of Americans working in agriculture to feed the world has fallen from 35 workers per 100 to two.

This is called progress. What is Ben & Jerry's proposed solution, anyway? To turn back the clock and abolish the tractor? Many Americans seem to be under the illusion that the small family farmer has lived a carefree idyllic lifestyle. In truth, this livelihood has traditionally involved backbreaking toil, work-days that last from sun-up to sundown, and monotony -- which is why sons and daughters have been fleeing the farm for five generations. The only people who actually want to save small farms are people who've never worked on a farm.

The Ben & Jerry's ads moan that the corporatization of farming is a horrid trend. I couldn't help asking our tour guide during the Q-&-A why, if corporatization of farming is such a bad thing, that isn't also true of the corporatization of ice cream. Those same 22 pairs of eyes glare back at me.

It's hard to feel sorry for the allegedly aggrieved farmers who have "lost their land" to corporate greed. In Northern Virginia, where I live (and in many other areas), the farmers have sold their acreage for about 20 times what they paid and now they own million-dollar bungalows in Palm Beach, while the rest of us get to shop at glorious-though-crowded strip malls. It's a win-win.

At the end of the tour -- which I highly recommend for the free scoops along the way -- it's a relief to know that of all the dimwitted, touchy-feely, left-wing social causes Ben & Jerry's could waste $5 million on, this one will probably do society and our beloved capitalistic system the least damage. So as a lover of freedom, I can, in good conscience, shell out $4 a pint for Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, eat it out of the carton in one sitting -- my arteries be damned -- and still feel good about myself in the morning.

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

First Hispanic Member of Congress Honored with Portrait in the U.S. Capitol

Today the U.S. House of Representatives honored Representative Rumualdo Pacheco (R-CA), the first voting Hispanic member of Congress, with an official Congressional portrait in the U.S. Capitol.

Representative Pacheco, a Republican, was born in California of Mexican parents. He served with distinction for three terms, first winning election in 1876. His portrait was revealed today by Representative Jerry Weller (R-Ill), who asked the portrait to be commissioned, Members of the Congressional Hispanic Conference (the Republican Hispanics), including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (the Democratic Hispanics) in a ceremony in the House Administration Committee Hearing Room in the Longworth building on Capitol Hill.

Congressman Rumualdo Pacheco was born in Santa Barbara, California on October 31, 1831 and lived a remarkable life. During his life time he served as a senior Civil War Military officer, was a successful landowner and rancher, elected to the California State Senate, became was the first and only Hispanic Governor of California, was a Member of Congress, First Hispanic as a Chairman of a Congressional committee, and was appointed to the U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Central American States. For more information about Pacheco

Monday, October 17, 2005

Why Latinos can't be terrorists (especially cubans

Funny email I got from a friend...


1. 8:45 am is too early for us to be up.

2. We are always late, we would have missed all 4 flights.

3. Pretty people on the plane distract us.

4. We would talk loudly and bring attention to ourselves.

5. With food and drinks on the plane, we would forget why we're there.

6. We talk with our hands, therefore we would have to put our weapons down.

7. We would ALL want to fly the plane.

8. We would argue and start a fight in the plane.

9. We can't keep a secret, we would have told everyone a week before doing it. I'm a terrorist.. (Oye Pepe, tu sabes lo que esta haciendo Juan!!!)

10.We would have put our country's flag on the windshield.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Sun shines some light on Cuba money launeering scandel

How I do love Megan Clyne at the New York Sun... she is like a little Cuban American Patriota on the paper. She just moved her offices to Washington DC instead of NY and continues to kick commy ass and show the world the crap that Cuba is producing!! Go Megan!!

The New York Sun

October 10, 2005


By MEGHAN CLYNE, Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON, D.C. -The world's largest "wealth management" firm, UBS, will be investigated by Congress for possibly laundering money for two state sponsors of terrorism, Cuba and Iran, lawmakers here told The New York Sun.

The Swiss bank, which operates a large financial services business in America, will be pressed about $3.9 billion deposited in UBS accounts by the Castro regime, according to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican of Florida, who first announced the impending investigation on Friday. Possible improper financial dealings with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq will also be subject to scrutiny, she said.

In 2003, American soldiers liberating Iraq discovered $762 million in American currency stashed in hideouts belonging to Saddam. According to Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, a Federal Reserve Bank probe traced the cash to UBS and other international financial firms. While investigating the Swiss bank's possible business relationship with Saddam's dictatorship, it was discovered that the firm - as part of a program with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in which UBS allowed clients to retire old banknotes and replace them with fresh currency - had also conducted transactions with Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Yugoslavia.

The business relationships were a violation of the agreement with the Federal Reserve, which had stipulated as a condition of the program that UBS neither accept cash from nor transfer it to countries against which America maintains sanctions.

Cuba, Iran, and Libya are on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, and, according to UBS, employees of the bank had filed false accounting reports with the Federal Reserve to conceal the transactions with the prohibited clients. As a result, the Federal Reserve Board and the Swiss Federal Banking Commission sanctioned UBS, which settled the matter by paying a $100 million fine to the Federal Reserve.

To Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, however, the matter is anything but settled. The congresswoman, who is a Cuban-American and a member of the House International Relations Committee, said yesterday that the decision to go forward with the investigation resulted from nearly a year of unfruitful meetings with the UBS officials, including the bank's vice chairman, Phil Gramm, a former Republican senator from Texas.

For several months, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said, she has pressed representatives of the Swiss bank for details surrounding the $3.9 billion, which, according to press accounts, was deposited by the Castro regime into one official Cuban government account with UBS. The deposits took place over the course of 1,900 transactions between 1996 and 2003.

While officials of the Castro regime have maintained that the deposits involve legitimate revenue derived from Cuba's tourism industry and remittances sent by Cuban-American exiles to their families on the island, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen told The New York Sun yesterday that the amount of the deposits far exceeds Mr. Castro's potential legal revenue in American dollars.

One of the Cuban-American congressional leaders involved in the discussions with UBS, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican of Florida, said yesterday in a phone interview with the Sun that money laundering is "one of Castro's main businesses." In addition to funneling cash for drug traffickers, Mr. Diaz-Balart said, Havana's strongman abets Latin-American narco-terrorist organizations, such as the FARC and ELN in Colombia. Corrupt Latin American leaders, too, are clients of Mr. Castro's money-laundering operations, he said.

The mysterious $3.9 billion, Mr. Diaz-Balart added, is "just one tip of the iceberg." He expressed frustration that America's intelligence services had neglected to probe the dictator's money laundering services for terrorists, leaving the UBS investigation to Congress.

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said that, since UBS's possible money laundering for state sponsors of terrorism posed a threat to American security, it was essential that the bank's alleged connections to Cuba, Iran, and Hussein's Iraq not be left unexplored, quieted by a $100 million fine.

In particular, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen told the Sun, she has consistently pressed UBS for more information about how the potentially illegal business relationships were entered into; whether the bank made any inquiries of the Cuban, Iranian, and Iraqi clients to ensure that the money deposited was obtained legally; and whether the Swiss bank has closed all of its accounts with Cuba and Iran.

On the last question in particular, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said she has met with reticence from UBS, which, she said, is "really not forthcoming with information."

To get answers, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said she and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican of California, will hold joint hearings on the transactions. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen is chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, which will probe the possible UBS connections to Iran and Iraq. Mr. Rohrabacher is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which will investigate the ties to the Castro regime, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said. Both are part of the House International Relations Committee, and the congresswoman said she hopes to begin the inquiries before the second week of December, when Congress's session ends.

Rep. Sue Kelly, a Republican of New York, also will participate in the investigation, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said. Ms. Kelly, the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has conducted previous UBS inquiries.

Ms. Ros-Lehtinen added that she is also inquiring about the status of a criminal investigation into the UBS matter she believes is being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney, Robert Morgenthau. Calls to Mr. Morgenthau's office and home last night were not returned.

The purpose of the House investigation, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said, is to "discourage international banks, or any financial institution, from having these kinds of clients - Castro, Saddam Hussein, and their ilk." Moreover, "it will make it harder for the likes of Fidel Castro to funnel money to legitimate institutions" if the international financial-services industry understands that such business relationships will be investigated and that illegal activities will carry consequences, the congresswoman said.

A spokeswoman for UBS, Christine Walton, said yesterday that the bank had not been informed officially of the investigation, and declined to comment on whether UBS had begun any internal probe into the $3.9 billion from Cuba and the possible connections to Iran.

As for the violations of the agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Ms. Walton said: "We've already paid a fine for it. If there's a separate line of inquiry from any other government institution, we're unaware of it." Since the bank had not been informed of any investigation, Ms. Walton declined to "speculate," but said it is UBS policy to cooperate with government inquiries.

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on July 21, 2004, Mr. Morgenthau said, "The banks need to do a better job. Some oversight failures at the banks may be due to ignorance or simple negligence. But it is difficult to discount the influence of the considerable fees that banks can earn through the international money transmittal business." In an editorial that ran shortly thereafter, the Wall Street Journal urged regulators and prosecutors to get tough on money laundering, which the newspaper said "has been aided and abetted by U.S. banks for years."

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Other Gitmo: Where's the Outrage?

great article

The Other Gitmo: Where's the Outrage?
October 7, 2005; Page A17

Conditions at the prison at Guantánamo are inhumane. Inmates are deprived their right to religious worship, receive scant nutrition and suffer constant verbal and physical abuse from guards. It's a humanitarian outrage.

I refer, of course, to Castro's Guantánamo Provincial Prison in Cuba proper, the prison across the fence from the U.S. naval base compound holding the terrorists. Fidel's lock-up makes the U.S. prison look like a five-star tropical resort.

Torture, deprivation and isolation of political prisoners at the "other" Guantánamo -- or at any of Fidel's gulags across the island -- are no secret. They've been loudly denounced by prisoners' families and reeported by Cuba's independent journalists. But foreign journalists have paid little attention. It seems they're too busy shredding their hankies over whether enemy combatants at the naval base have enough honey glaze on their chicken.

International apathy toward the plight of the political prisoners is just what Fidel Castro counts on. As the dissident movement has expanded in the past decade, El Maximo Lider has found it necessary to strike at it with excessive force from time to time. But when his repression becomes too public, he has to back off.

A hunger strike at the Guantánamo prison, which ended earlier this week, makes the point. Political prisoners Victor Arroyo and Felix Navarro stopped eating on Sept. 10 and 13 respectively, to protest the extreme cruelty administered by Guantánamo prison director Lt. Col. Jorge Chediak Pérez and "rehabilitation" expert Juan Armesto.

As the strike headed toward a fourth week, dozens of Cuban human rights advocates from all over the island were on their way to the prison in a show of solidarity. On Sept. 29, the EU called on the government to "improve the conditions of detention of these individuals and other political prisoners who are being held in circumstances that fall below the U.N. Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners."

On Monday, as the strikers showed no sign of relenting, Fidel blinked. The two men were removed from Guantánamo. Mr. Arroyo was taken away in an ambulance because he was so feeble, while Mr. Navarro traveled by car. Sources on the island say that Mr. Arroyo is now at the prison hospital in Holguin and Mr. Navarro is at the prison hospital in Bayamo.

In an honest world, the cases of Mr. Arroyo and Mr. Navarro would have raised an international outcry a long time ago. The men were arrested along with more than 70 others in the regime's March 2003 crackdown on journalists, opposition leaders, librarians and writers. All were taken into custody, given summary trials and handed extreme sentences.

A review of the 53-year-old Mr. Arroyo's arrest record shows the regime's pathetic paranoia. One example: In 2000 he was jailed for possessing some toys that he planned to distribute to poor children. The charge? "Hoarding public goods." His real crimes are for things like being director of the Union of Independent Cuban Journalists and Writers and managing one of the most important independent libraries in the country. In March 2003, Mr. Arroyo was working as a journalist in Pinar del Río, when he was detained. On April 7, 2003, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for "acts against state security."

Mr. Navarro, who is 52-years-old, has an equally "dangerous" profile. An educator for some 20 years, in 1999 he founded the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Movement, which led to numerous arrests. His April 2003 conviction for "acts against state security" won him a 25 year sentence.

Mr. Navarro's identification with the heroic Boitel explains a lot about the prisoners and about Fidel's decision to yield to their strike. Boitel was a close prison friend of Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years in Cuban gulags. In his memoir, "Against All Hope," Mr. Valladares wrote of Boitel that he was "the most rebellious of Cuban political prisoners." In 1972, he had gone on a hunger strike to protest prison conditions. After 47 days of no food Boitel was gravely ill. But it was Castro's decision to deny him water that sealed his fate. He died on day 53.

Later, according to Mr. Valladares, the prisoners learned that Castro had given the order to "get rid of Boitel so he wouldn't make anymore [expletive] trouble." In a telephone conversation from Miami this week, Mr. Valladares reminded me that through it all "the international community kept silent."

Like Mr. Valladares and Boitel before them, Messrs. Arroyo and Navarro protested Guantánamo's filth, beatings, bad food, lack of water and use of common criminals to terrorize political prisoners. And like their predecessors, their complaints were met with violence.

In December 2003, Mr. Arroyo's opinions earned him a savage beating by three jailers, who also slammed a door on his leg to cripple him. In September 2004, when he was told his cell would be searched, he asked to be present to ensure that nothing would be planted. For that request, the food that had been brought by his family was confiscated and his few belongings trashed. He was then placed in a "punishment cell," which is a solitary confinement cell too small to lie down in, with no windows and a steel door. He was kept there for 15 days. Mr. Navarro was also thrown in the punishment cells for objecting to inhumane conditions.

The men wrote letters to the government to draw attention to ruthlessness of Armesto and jailer Chediak Perez, but to no avail. That's when they took up the mantle of Boitel.

Castro didn't respond until it looked like the strikers might embarrass him by dying. On Tuesday, Mr. Arroyo's sister reported that Cuban officials in Holguin promised him "a just treatment." But the fact that it had to go so far before Castro would agree to basic humanitarian principles reveals much about the dictator that so many Americans admire.