Sunday, April 19, 2020

US Attacks on Cuba During Covid 19 Morally Bankrupt

Personal thoughts
I was in Cuba just before the self imposed lid came down.  The official St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration were canceled by the Cuban and Irish governments.  However I was lucky to enjoy on the day itself a program at the Provincial Library on the Plaza de Armas, the original US embassy.  An Irish Franciscan priest based in Havana taught children some basic dance steps.  He also talked about the shamrock as an illustration of the Trinity.  You can feel the spirit here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umtmbeR5AFU


There are lots of things to be angry about in the way the Trump Administration has handled the corona virus crisis.   Especially unconscionable is their position on international sanctions, and in particular their aggressiveness against Cuba and Venezuela.  The sophistry that US sanctions do not block medical supplies is itself not always true.  But more important at a time of profound world wide crisis, a common sense of humanity dictates that we should suspend embargoes and other forms of punishment that damage daily life for entire populations and undermine the ability of their governments to purchase supplies and equipment to enhance normal existence.   That does no geopolitical harm as foreign investors are not going to initiate large scale projects with the knowledge that sanctions are temporarily lifted for humanitarian reasons. 


For me the same moral logic applies to all countries sanctioned unilaterally by the US.  However, the most outrageous blows have been directed at Cuba and Venezuela.


Anonymous trolls in the  Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor @StateDRL   tweeted nasty and unwarranted attacks on Cuba's provision of medical teams to assist countries afflicted by Covid 19.
·

Mar 24
#Cuba offers its international medical missions to those afflicted with #COVID 19 only to make up the money it lost when countries stopped participating in the abusive program. Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID 19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses.

Mar 25
The government of #Cuba keeps most of the salary its doctors and nurses earn while serving in its international medical missions while exposing them to egregious labor conditions. Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID 19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses.
Cuban medical teams have been a long term target of Miami hard liners and their right wing allies in US politics.  Not only do the doctors and nurses earn good will politically for Havana but their work has been a major source of national income from countries that needed the aid and could afford to pay for it.  Cubans volunteer for assignments and in normal times receive economic and professional benefit over counterparts at home.  That the government which completely funded their medical education receives compensation seems reasonable and analogous to Americans who undertake lower paid military or public health service work in return for our government paying for their education.  There is no reason to believe that Cuban government initiatives and participation in anti-Covid work are any less motivated by compassionate feelings than U.S. government assistance to afflicted countries.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I have often wondered whether we or Cuban doctors received lower compensation.   I was particularly struck by the irony that while the U.S. government was criticizing Cuban assistance, Washington had abruptly forced all PCVs to return to the US and terminated their service with no regard for their host country role or personal committment.


For whatever it is worth, this was my tweet to Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro
 

@DRL_AS Your department is disgraced by the tweet against Cuba sending doctors to assist with corona virus at same time as Peace Corps withdrew and terminated all volunteers. US looks small. For us to look large help people by suspending all unilateral sanctions worldwide.

On a larger and more dangerous scale was US exploitation of the Covid-19 crisis as a justification for provocative military escalation in the Caribbean. Unexpectedly on April 1 the first part of the widely watched daily White House press conference on the virus was devoted to publicizing military patrols to combat sea borne drug smuggling.  It suspiciously followed by a few days a politically motivated dubious indictment of President Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders on drug smuggling charges.   It was hard not to fear a parallel to the use of drug related accusations against Manuel Noriega to justify the invasion of Panama during the Reagan Administration.

The Washington Office on Latin America did an excellent brief on the issue.
https://www.wola.org/analysis/us-counterdrug-caribbean-venezuela-factsheet/

My own thoughts are here https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2020/01/venezuela-update-14.html

Wiser heads than mine doubt that this was a wag the dog plot to create a military diversion from the Administration's Covid-19 debacle, but I am still worried.

Anthony DePalma has written a good Op Ed for the New York Times  "
Trump’s Pandemic Tactics Hurt Cubans, Too"  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/opinion/cuba-coronavirus-trump.html


In any case, here is a more uplifting approach to the life changing situation that afflicts every person on the planet.  https://vnpeacecomm.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-covid19-meditation.html

Stay safe and stay well,

John

*******************************

John McAuliff
Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Coordinator, Cuba-US People to People Partnership

Friday, April 3, 2020

Venezuela Update # 14

International calls for easing sanctions

U.N. Calls for Rolling Back Sanctions to Battle Pandemic
Secretary-General Guterres says it’s time for “solidarity not exclusion.”

BY COLUM LYNCH | MARCH 24, 2020, 2:02 PM


United Nations leadership called for rolling back international sanctions regimes around the world, saying they are heightening the health risks for millions of people and weakening the global effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The appeal reflects mounting concerns that sanctions regimes may be impeding efforts in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe to battle the coronavirus, and enhancing the prospects of the pathogen’s spread to other countries. It comes as China and Russia, which is subject to U.S. and European sanctions for its invasion of Crimea, have also stepped up calls for an easing of sanctions.


“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a letter to the G-20 economic powers. “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/un-coronavirus-cuba-iran-venezuela-north-korea-zimbabwe-sanctions-pandemic/



Pope Criticizes Sanctions

This is the first time the Pontiff has spoken out against the measures
On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke out against international sanctions during his Urbi et Orbi Easter address from Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“This is not a time for forgetfulness (…) for division (…) or for indifference,” he reminded Catholics worldwide.
“In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,” the Pontiff continued, adding that he wishes to see “concrete and immediate solutions to be reached that can permit international assistance to a [Venezuelan] population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation.”
 
https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14842



Creating a Climate for Greater Conflict

The April 1 press conference at the White House was disturbing. 

https://www.c-span.org/video/?470864-1/white-house-coronavirus-task-force-briefing

The first part of it focused on a military mobilization to stop cartels from using the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to send massive amounts of drugs to the US.

I wondered whether President Trump was attempting to use Covid-19 as cover for a Noriega style invasion of Venezuela.  Or whether the Administration believes that a war would divert attention from the frightful domestic death toll of the virus.

The announced military mobilization is an odd response to purported cartel escalation (as though they aren't equally preoccupied and weakened by illness).

Part of the build up is the questionable well publicized indictment on drug charges of President Maduro et al and the phony political compromise Pompeo announced a couple of days earlier.  It was advertised as an inducement for the military to finally turn against Maduro, but the proposed interim government would be a completely one-sided creation by the opposition.

It appears Pompeo and Abrams (and Claver-Carone?) are making the same mistake they have from the beginning, thinking that the Venezuelan military will accept a US sponsored regime.

If they pursue this course militarily, we will tragically discover that Venezuela is not Panama.

When I circulated a version of the above,  two friends who know Washington and the security apparatus better than I responded to my analysis in this way:

1)  "I think you’re right, except the idea of a boots-on-the-ground invasion.  With COVID, no one’s going to enter that country.  But some kind of stand-off military action is not beyond the pale for these people.  The Trump people have tried, and failed, to effect three coups so far.  Maybe number four will be the charm.  With SouthCom sending ships down there, interference in oil shipments may be in the cards.
The indictment was, as you say, a complete fake."


2)  "Just a repackaging of old one-sided ideas that are almost certain to fail as they have so far.  I see virtually no chance these days of a US military invasion.  I think it would backfire badly.  However, these people are capable of almost anything, and they are clearly grasping for a way to turn a failed policy into something positive."


  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

St Patrick's Day Parade in Havana



At 1:30 p.m. the parade will conclude at the Palacio Segundo Cabo on the Plaza de Armas.  Ambassador Barbara Jones will speak and present a full set of uilleann pipes donated by Mick Moloney on behalf John Murphy to Rosalia Acosta Corrales of Pinar del Rio.  This will be followed by a short concert of Irish traditional music and dance performed entirely by Cubans.

If there is sufficient interest, a program on the Irish and Irish American presence in Cuba will be offered from March 13 to 15 under the Support for the Cuban People license.  Contact director@ffrd.org     Background information   tinyurl.com/irish2cuba

Friday, February 21, 2020

Fiona Hill Testifies Russians Wanted to Trade Venezuela for Ukraine


PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE,
joint with the
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REF
and the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Monday, October
14,2019

it becomes clear that they were certainly up to no good. But that was what I was already hearing.
And I was also told by Amos and other colleagues that they had some linkages, so I also want to, you know, get you to step back at this period. This is, you know, March, April, into May, where we were having a standoff over Venezuela . And the Russians at this particular juncture were signaling very strongly that they wanted to somehow make some very strange swap arrangement between Venezuela and Ukraine.
In other words, if we were going to exert some semblance of the Monroe Doctrine of, you know, Russia keeping out of our backyard, because this is after the Russians had sent in these hundred operatives essentially to , you know , basically secure the Venezuelan Government and , you know , to preempt what they were obviously taking to be some kind of U.S. military action, they were basically signaling: You know, you have your Monroe doctrine. You want us out of your backyard . Well , you know , we have our own version of this.
You're in our backyard in Ukraine . And we were getting that sent to us , you know , kind of informally through channels .
It was in the Russian press , various commentators .
And I was asked to go out to Russia in this timeframe to basically tell the Russians to knock this off. I was given a special assignment by the National Security Council with the agreement with the State Department to get the Russians to back off.
So , in the course of my discussions with my colleagues, I also found out that there were Ukrainian energy interests that had been in the mix in Venezuelan energy sectors as well as the names again of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, and this gentleman Harry Sargeant came up. And my colleagues said these guys were notorious in Florida and that they were very bad news.
………………….
MR. ZELDIN: That's why I'm asking the question.
So specifically with regards to the first round of
questions, you stated something about Venezuela and Russia.
Do you recall talking about some type of

DR. HILL: Yes. I said that the Russians signaled,
including publicly through the press and through press
articles that's the way that they operate that they
were interested in they laid it out in articles, I mean a
lot of them in Russian but, you know, obviously, your
staff and Congressional Research Service can find them for
you positing that, as the U.S. was so concerned about the
Monroe Doctrine and its own backyard, perhaps the U.S. might
also be then concerned about developments in Russia's backyard as in Ukraine, making it very obvious that they were trying to set up some kind of let's just say: You stay out of Ukraine or you move out of Ukraine , you change your position on Ukraine, and, you know, we'll rethink where we are with Venezuela.
And I said that I went to Moscow. It wasn't a classified trip because I was going to meet with Russians.
And in the course of those discussions, it was also apparent , including with a Russian think tank and other members, that the Russian Government was interested in having a discussion about Venezuela and Ukraine.
MR. ZELDIN: And just for my own knowledge then, so that's something that it's all been publicly reported, everything's unclassified there?
DR. HILL: It's been reported and that the Russians, the Russians themselves made it very clear in unclassified public settings that they were interested at some point in -- and, in fact , it was even reported in the press that I had gone to Russia , by someone that asked a question of our State Department officials in doing a press briefing: Had I gone to Russia at the time to make a trade between Venezuela and Ukraine? It was asked as a question to Christopher Robinson during a press briefing at the State Department.
MR. ZELDIN : Did you state earlier that there was a nexus between Rudy Giuliani associates and Venezuela?
DR. HILL: I was told that by the directors working on the Western Hemisphere. I didn't have a chance to look into this in any way. I was told that the same individuals who had been indicted energy investments had been interested at different points in energy investments in Venezuela and that this was quite well-known.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Jazz & Son Festival, Varadero, August 20-23, 2020

Josone Park Jazz and Son Festival
Varadero, August 20 - 23, 2020


For the third year a four day festival will be held in Varadero in late August with some of Cuba's best jazz and son groups.  (Click here for the 2019 program.)  Below is information prepared for travel agents.

If we receive enough interest from agents or independent travelers, FRD will organize meetings with performers and festival organizers.  Prior to the festival we will visit the slavery museum in Matanzas, the history museum in Cardenas, the memorial to Cuba's largest slave rebellion and the museum at the sugar plantation home of the O'Farrill family.  In Cardenas we will also learn about the social, educational, agricultural and economic programs of the Christian Center for Reflection and Dialogue.

Americans who go to Cuba under the Support for the Cuban People license normally must stay in private bed and breakfasts, not in the State hotels listed below.  Even if we are not able to organize a program, festival attendees will have ample opportunity for spontaneous engagement with Cuban fans.

The full festival pass is 21 CUC.

For more information, contact jmcauliff@gmail .com or call 917-859-9025.

  --John McAuliff


CLIENTE:
AGENCIAS DE VIAJE;TTO
PAÍS:
Cuba
EVENTO:
3ra edición
JOSONE JAZZ & SON
FECHA:
20  al  23 de Agosto
                
1.    PRECIO PÚBLICO DE PAQUETE, POR PAX POR  4  NOCHES EN  USD.
Precios Comisionables  (available on request)

PRECIOS PÚBLICOS POR PAX EN USD.   (Todos los mercados excepto México)

Servicios incluidos:
·             Alojamiento para las 4 noches en hotel seleccionado en modalidad Todo Incluido con opción de suplemento para Noche Adicional.
·             Pase con acceso a todas las actividades en programa de evento Josone Jazz & Son
·             Asistencia especializada.

HOTEL  **Hoteles con condiciones para niños y Hoteles +para solo adultos.
CAT.

HAB.  SGL

HAB. DBL

Suplemento Noche Adicional
SGL                    DBL
Sun Beach**
2
265.00
172.00
57.00
34.00
Kawama **
3
326.00
234.00
72.00
49.00
Puntarena Playa Caleta **
3
375.00
271.00
85.00
58.00
Delfines **
3
382.00
320.00
86.00
71.00
Brisas del Caribe**
3
400.00
308.00
91.00
68.00
Starfish Las Palmas 16+* CP/TI -. Alojamiento en las Palmas y Todo Incluido en Cuatro Palmas
4
406.00
314.00
92.00
69.00
Starfish Cuatro Palmas 16+ (Hotel Sede)
4
437.00
345.00
100.00
77.00
Allegro Palma Real**
3
455.00
363.00
105.00
82.00
Starfish Varadero**
3
468.00
375.00
108.00
85.00
Iberostar Playa Alameda 18+
4
492.00
375.00
114.00
85.00
Solymar Arenas Blancas**
4
492.00
400.00
114.00
91.00
Iberostar Bella Costa**
4
400.00
314.00
91.00
69.00
Memories Varadero**
4
529.00
437.00
123.00
100.00
Iberostar Laguna Azul**
 5
535.00
406.00
125.00
92.00
Roc Barlovento 16+
4
542.00
345.00
126.00
77.00
Roc Arenas Doradas **
4
572.00
357.00
134.00
80.00
Iberostar Bella Vista**
4
597.00
437.00
140.00
100.00
Meliá Varadero**
5
714.00
499.00
169.00
115.00
Paradisus Varadero**
5
769.00
554.00
183.00
129.00
Paradisus Princesa del Mar 18+
5
Meliá Las Américas 18+
5
782.00
566.00
186.00
132.00
Meliá Internacional**
5
831.00
585.00
198.00
137.00
Royalton Hicacos 18+
5
898.00
652.00
215.00
154.00

PASADÍA. PRECIO NETO, POR PERSONA POR  1  DÍA EN   CUC.

HOTEL
PLAN
70.00
 Cuatro Palmas (Hotel Sede)
TI

           






SERVICIOS INCLUIDOS:

·      Disfrute de Pasadía en Hotel Cuatro Palmas. Hotel Todo Incluido  de  9 am – 6 pm.
·      Pase con acceso a todas las actividades en programa del día pagado.
·      Desayuno en Hotel Cuatro Palmas luego de terminado los conciertos a partir de las 6:00 am hasta 09:00 am
·      Asistencia especializada.
     

PRECIOS PÚBLICOS  POR PAX PARA LOS  CONCIERTOS  EN   CUC
                                                   
FULL PASS
21.00
Incluye entrada a los conciertos nocturnos desde el  20 al 23 de agosto.
PASE DIARIO
     6.00
Entrada a un concierto en la fecha seleccionada

OFERTA DE ÚLTIMA HORA, PRECIO  del  CONCIERTO  POR PAX  EN PUERTA: 10.00 CUC

        
OTROS SERVICIOS A SOLICITUD DEL CLIENTE

·         Transfer  Habana-Varadero- Habana en bus colectivo 16:00 CUC por persona.
·         Transfer  Hotel- Parque Josone – Hotel  10:00 CUC por persona.

TRASLADOS   Habana-Varadero-Habana:

Recogida: a partir de  las 1:00 pm

Puntos de Recogida:
1. 5ta y 112, La Cecilia
2. Sala Polivalente
3. Parque Nguyen Van troi. (Parque de la Normal).
4. Villa Panamericana.

Retorno: a partir de las 1:30 horas desde cada Hotel

Recogida para transfer en Varadero. A las 8 pm en el lobby del Hotel, retorno al terminar el concierto.


2.    PENALIZACIONES POR CANCELACIONES O NO PRESENTACIÓN.

·         Una vez compradas las entradas, el cliente podrá pedir devolución al menos 72 horas antes del concierto, después de esa fecha no tendrá derecho.
·         Los clientes que compren paquetes de alojamiento  
     
6  a 4  días
72 a 0  horas y no show
50 % de la 1ra noche  por persona
100 % de la 1ra noche  por persona






·  En el caso de salidas imprevistas del hotel, se facturará  estancia completa.
·  Una vez compradas las pasadías, overnight y entradas a conciertos, se podrán cancelar con 72 horas de antelación. Después de ese tiempo el cliente no tendrá derecho a reclamación.


3.    FORMA DE PAGO: PREPAGO


Para mayor información contactar a:
Esp. Lenay de la Barca Wilson
Especialista Comercial Eventos
Paradiso Turismo Cultural

Tel: (537)78365381  78383908