Friday, August 31, 2012

"We are convinced Angel is innocent"

Borja Alcedo, a close friend and Partido Popular colleague of Angel Carromero, gave an interview to Onda Cero radio in Spain (audio here).  He said Carromero called him as soon as the accident occurred, but was only able to communicate that he was in an accident before the call broke up.  He said Carromero’s mission was personal and not connected to the PP.  Carromero has since phoned Alcedo from prison.  “We are convinced Angel is innocent,” he says in the interview.  “We think the accident was caused by the bad condition of the road and we hope the trial establishes that.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012


"If the dissident movement intends to turn itself into a political alternative it will need to travel a more independent and home-grown path that gathers the hopes and demands of part of the Cuban people and adds them together, converting itself into a force that has social weight.

"But this path doesn’t pass through Madrid or Stockholm, and no Nordic sorcerer’s apprentice will know as much about Cuba as Cubans themselves.  The advisers that the dissidents need are much closer than they imagine; they are their own compatriots."

   – BBC correspondent Fernando Ravsberg, in his weekly column

Odds and ends

·         A Colombian radio station published the purported text of the agreement reached between Colombia’s government and FARC guerrillas to start peace talks.  English here, with a link to the Spanish original at the bottom of the page.  More from EFE (English) and good historical background from the Wall Street Journal.

·         The spokesman for Oswaldo Paya’s Christian Liberation told Radio Marti that he and a colleague were told by Cayetana Muriel Aguado, a Spaniard resident in Sweden who is a member of that country’s Christian Democratic Party, that “political figures” in Sweden and Spain received text messages from the phones of Angel Carromero and Aron Modig “denouncing that they had been victims of an accident provoked by a car that was following them.”  The spokesman, Rene Iglesias, complained about the “hiding of the truth” that is occurring, he guesses, to spare Carromero some jail time, and he urged those who possess the text messages to release them.  He said the meeting with Aguado occurred the night of the July 22 crash.  The full string of earlier posts on this event is here

·         Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s Cuba convictions are now safely in cold storage.  But just for old times’ sake, Geoff Thale of the Washington Office on Latin America counts up the Cuba votes in Ryan’s record and finds 20 votes cast in favor of easing or ending the embargo out of 24 Cuba votes he cast between 2000 and 2007.

·         Yagruma, a crowdfunding site that offers the opportunity to support artistic projects in Cuba, had its PayPal account blocked because sending money to Cuba is an apparent embargo violation, and is working on setting up a payment mechanism that will not be affected by U.S. sanctions.

·         CafĂ© Fuerte:  Writer Raul Hernandez recounts, with some skepticism, a story told in Granma about a former Communist Party official who is now raising and selling pigs and making money hand over fist.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

State sponsor of peace talks

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said last night that “exploratory conversations” have been held with FARC guerrillas about peace negotiations, and he held the door open to participation by ELN guerrillas too.  The negotiations would aim to end the hemisphere’s longest-running guerrilla war.  See stories from Reuters and El Tiempo (Bogota).

The news broke yesterday when the Venezuelan network Telesur reported that an agreement had been signed in Havana to get peace talks started, following discussions in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC with participation by Cuban, Venezuelan, and Norwegian diplomats. 

Santos said he would soon provide more detailed information.  He said that peace talks would be guided by three principles: learning from past errors, gearing talks to end the conflict and not to prolong it, and maintaining military presence and operations in “every centimeter” of Colombian territory.

Havana has long hosted contacts between the Colombian government and guerrillas, and Cuban diplomacy now appears set to assist in actual negotiations.

The presence of Colombian guerrillas in Havana has long been cited in the U.S. reports that name Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”  The report issued last July says this: “Press reporting indicated that the Cuban government provided medical care and political assistance to the FARC.  There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.”

The Reuters report cited above cites Colombian officials saying that President Obama is informed about these possible negotiations and supports them.

E-book on Cuban economic policy

Espacio Laical, a magazine of the Havana archdiocese, has published on its website a book written by scholars of the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy.  Cuba: Toward a Development Strategy for the Beginning of the 21st Century features chapters written by the Center’s professors on agriculture, monetary policy, the knowledge-based economy, and other topics.  

This is one more example of Catholic media advancing the debate on Cuban economic reforms.

The book is in Spanish and it’s not a light read, but the chapters I have read give a good, clear analysis of the state of Cuba’s economy, the policy issues in play, and the work that needs to be done.