Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
If you were distracted by Governor Richardson’s bumbling, you may have missed the return of Lt. Col. Simmons, the ex-DIA operative who speaks about Cuban intelligence matters.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, he has pried loose the diplomatic note that the State Department presented to Cuba in 2003 to expel eight Cuban diplomats based in Washington. Our friend Mauricio has it here.
The note politely says that the diplomats’ activities were “deemed sufficiently detrimental to the security interests of the United States,” which the eight surely saved in their personnel file back home.
The release is accompanied by anonymously sourced charges (Herald, Diario de Cuba) that the diplomats were gathering intelligence on U.S. military operations to pass to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It would be interesting to know more about that, if it is true.
Bureau officials said there was no specific espionage event that touched off the action, adding credence to Cuba’s charge that the expulsions were part of a new political strategy.
“It was not our recommendation to take this action at this time,” said a senior F.B.I. official. The decision to expel Cubans was made “at the highest levels” in the State Department and the White House, and the policy makers then turned to the bureau for names of intelligence operatives, said the official, who asked not to be named.
Friday, September 23, 2011
- A great project: Jazz at Lincoln Center bassist Carlos Henriquez organized a wind instrument donation for Cuban music students and went to Havana with $250,000 worth of instruments. He was joined by four string instrument repairmen. (AP, Granma)
- Mauricio Vicent, the long-serving Havana correspondent for El Pais, is often accused (unfairly, I think) of bias in favor of the Cuban government. That government had a different idea (unfairly, I think) and yanked his press credential, allowing him to remain in Cuba but not to write (AP). El Pais slams the decision in an editorial, as does the Committee to Protect Journalists.
- AFP: There are more than 300 private gyms operating in Havana, officials told state media. I describe two here and here.
- This article in Granma points out the value of cooperatives, which have operated in Cuban agriculture for 50 years. A sub-headline singles out food service as a sector that could benefit most from from the application of the cooperative model. But before we start seeing neighborhood cafeterias and restaurants converted into cooperatives, there’s an obstacle. The article points out that Cuba’s constitution limits cooperatives to the farm sector.
- The Damas de Blanco, founded as a group of women protesting on behalf of jailed family members, will now become a political organization standing up for human rights and democratic change, leader Laura Pollan told Radio Marti. Meanwhile, AP’s Andrea Rodriguez assesses the “crossroads” at which the Damas and other dissidents stand, and their challenges in connecting with the public.
- Juventud Rebelde explains how smart phone payments can make cash, coin, and credit card obsolete.