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  • Archive for the 'Cuba' Category

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed From a Soviet Launch Facility

    Posted by David Foster on 19th October 2014 (All posts by )

    (rerun)

    This month marks the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.

    A couple of years ago,  I read  Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok, which I’m still hoping to get around to reviewing one of these days.

    Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.

    At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.

    Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a “somber, melancholy expression.”

    Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.

    Chertok, who at this point was apparently viewing the Cuban affair as a flash in the pan that would be resolved short of war, was concerned that moving the Mars rocket would cause them to miss their October 29 launch date, and suggested that the swap of the rockets be delayed for a few hours. Kirillov told him that this was impossible, and that he should go to the “Marshal’s cottage,” where some of his associates wanted to see him. Chertok’s response:

    Yes, sir! You’re in charge! But, Anatoliy Semyonovich! Just between you and me—do you have the courage to give the ‘Launch!’ command, knowing full well that this means not just the death of hundreds of thousands from that specific thermonuclear warhead, but perhaps the beginning of the end for everyone? You commanded a battery at the front, and when you shouted ‘Fire!’ that was quite another matter.

    Kirillov:

    There’s no need to torment me. I am a soldier now; I carry out an order just as I did at the front. A missile officer just like me, not a Kirillov, but some Jones or other, is standing at a periscope and waiting for the order to give the ‘Launch!’ command against Moscow or our firing range. Therefore, I advise you to hurry over to the cottage.

    At the cottage, four men were seated at a table playing cards while a fifth was trying to glean the latest news from a radio and Lena, the housekeeper, was in the kitchen drying wine glasses. It was suggested that since Chertok didn’t like playing cards, he should help Lena fix the drinks. This involved a watermelon and lots of cognac.

    I took the enormous watermelon and two bottles of cognac out of the fridge. When everything was ready, we heard a report that U.N. Secretary General U Thant had sent personal messages to Khrushchev and Kennedy. Once again, Voskresenskiy took the initiative and proposed the first toast: “To the health of U Thant, and may God grant that this not be our last drink!” This time we all drank down our toast in silence and very solemnly, realizing how close we now were to a situation in which this cognac and this watermelon could be our last.

    Still hoping to avoid the cancellation of the Mars mission, Chertok went to another cottage and, with considerable difficulty, made a forbidden call to S P Korolev, overall head of the Soviet rocket program, who was then in Moscow. Korolev told him that things were being taken care of and not to worry.

    It was already dark when I returned to the Marshal’s cottage. On the road, a Gazik came to an abrupt halt. Kirillov jumped out of it, saw me, swept me up in a hug, and practically screamed: “All clear!” We burst into the cottage and demanded that they pour “not our last drink,” but alas! The bottles were empty. While everyone excitedly discussed the historic significance of the “All clear” command, Lena brought out a bottle of “three star” cognac from some secret stash. Once again the Mars rockets were waiting for us at the launch site and in the MIK.

    Reflecting on the crisis many years later, Chertok wrote:

    Few had been aware of the actual threat of a potential nuclear missile war at that time. In any event, one did not see the usual lines for salt, matches, and kerosene that form during the threat of war. Life continued with its usual day-to-day joys, woes, and cares. When the world really was on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe, only a very small number of people in the USSR and the United States realized it. Khrushchev and Kennedy exercised restraint and did not give in to their emotions. Moreover, the military leaders of both sides did not display any independent initiative nor did they deviate at all from the orders of their respective heads of state. Very likely, Khrushchev wasn’t just guided by the pursuit of peace “at any cost.” He knew that the U.S. nuclear arsenal was many times greater than ours. The Cubans did not know this and viewed Moscow’s order to call off missile preparation and dismantle the launch sites as a betrayal of Cuba’s interests. President Kennedy had no doubt as to the United States’ nuclear supremacy. The possibility of a single nuclear warhead striking New York kept him from starting a nuclear war. Indeed, this could have been the warhead on the R-7A missile that they didn’t roll out of the MIK to the pad at Site No. 1.

    Posted in Book Notes, Cuba, History, Russia, Space, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    Is Venezuela Collapsing ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    UPDATE #2: The western bloc is growing while the Atlantic bloc stagnates.

    Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina are languishing in differing shades of turmoil, steadily losing ground to regional underdogs. The Pacific Alliance, an historic trade agreement between Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia (and coming soon: Costa Rica), has the potential to recolor Latin America’s economic map and introduce some new regional powerhouses to the world stage.

    More here.

    Four nations are developing an initiative that could add new dynamism to Latin America, redraw the economic map of the region, and boost its connections with the rest of the world—especially Asia. It could also offer neighboring countries a pragmatic alternative to the more political groupings dominated by Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela.

    UPDATE: More on the role Cuba is playing in Venezuela now.

    Belmont Club has a good post today on the collapse of Venezuela. The car manufacturers have announced they are closing their plants.

    Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

    The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

    The oil field workers left years ago when the Chavez government cut oil workers’ pay.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Cuba, International Affairs, Iran, Latin America | 20 Comments »

    Sink It

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A couple of Iranian navy ships are slowly making their way to the Americas. What’s going on? J. E. Dyer has a long and thoughtful post:

    That said, two things are worth reiterating. One, the U.S. does not have a constant-ready missile defense network that would protect the central and southeastern United States from an MRBM threat emanating from the south. We are unprotected on this axis. Shifting to a footing of 24/365 alert and anti-missile protection – e.g., by deploying Patriot systems in the continental U.S. or Navy Aegis ships offshore – would constitute a new, un-resourced requirement. We’d have to cut back defense operations elsewhere to meet it.
     
    Two, our ability to react against the “shooter” is limited by the forces we have ready today. We don’t have extra ships and aircraft to deploy for a deterrent presence in Central America. We could react after the fact with B-2 bombers, and possibly other conventional forms of attack, such as submarine-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. But we would have to attack to mount a response, in (most probably) Venezuela or Cuba, and that response would be inherently escalatory.
     
    It’s quite possible that our current administration would view that as a bridge too far. Realistically, I think the military would view the prospect with strong disfavor. Our ready forces would not have such a preponderance of power, or such advantages of geography, that we could do it easily and without inconvenience.
     
    Bottom line: MRBMs down south would constitute a material transformation of our security footing in the hemisphere. It’s a development we couldn’t live with.
     
    […]
     
    The “red flag” in this whole saga is the concentration of verbal threats from the Iranians, at a time when they are making an unprecedented naval deployment to the Americas; they are mounting an unusual outreach with Fatah; and they are close enough to nuclearization – even by the expected route, as opposed to the speculative North Korean option – that dashing to the finish line is the only step left.
     
    The quality of some of the Iranian threats is deeply silly. But this doesn’t have the feel of random nuttiness to it. The Iranians are up to something.

    I agree with Dyer, who implies in the post (and states explicitly in a comment) that the lowest-risk course of action for us would be to sink the ship of the two that has a hold big enough to transport ballistic missiles.

    Dyer’s argument is long and well supported. You will have to read the whole thing to get the full thrust of her reasoning.

    My take on Iran continues to be that if it gets nuclear weapons, as now seems certain, it will use them. It will not necessarily use them to attack Israel or otherwise blow some place up, at least not in the near future. It will use them to gain leverage, to extort valuable concessions from its adversaries, including us. Obama’s feckless appeasement of the mullahs has whetted their appetite for aggression and confirmed that they have at least three more years of clear sailing ahead. They will press this advantage. We are not going to be able to contain them, because they will continue to look for opportunities to place us in situations where our disinclination to fight will give them victories by default. The current situation, with the two ships, appears to be the opener. We have a lot to lose. If we want to stop Iran we are going to have to confront it militarily at some point. The sooner we do this the less costly it will be.

    Posted in Americas, Cuba, Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 61 Comments »

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed From a Soviet Launch Facility

    Posted by David Foster on 19th October 2013 (All posts by )

    (This is a rerun, with minor edits, of a post from 2012)

    This month marks the 51st anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.

    Last year I read  Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok, which I’m still hoping to get around to reviewing one of these days.

    Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.

    At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.

    Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a “somber, melancholy expression.”

    Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Cuba, History, Russia, Space, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed From a Soviet Launch Facility

    Posted by David Foster on 16th October 2012 (All posts by )

    This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.

    I’m currently reading Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok. A review of the whole thing will be forthcoming in the not too distant future.

    Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.

    At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.

    Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a "somber, melancholy expression."

    Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Cuba, History, Russia, Space, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Obama and amnesty

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    On Friday, as is often the case, Obama announced a new executive policy to impose a two year moratorium on deportation of young illegals if they can show they were brought here as children and have finished high school with no encounters with the law. They must be under 30 and were brought here before age 16. He promised that citizenship was not included and did not mention if family members were affected. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security announced that this was the new policy but there has been no confirmation of an executive order.

    I don’t have a real problem with this policy but it avoids Congress and legislation, a problem that even Obama acknowledged last year. It is a transparent ploy to appeal for Latino votes. Everyone knows that.

    It also will close an opening for compromise.

    Obama’s decision probably reduces the likelihood that the scenarios of greatest concern to me will come to pass, especially if Obama is re-elected. Irate Republicans are even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner. As Marco Rubio, who is planning to sponsor some sort of DREAM Act, said today, by imposing a new policy by executive order, Obama has made it harder in the long run to reach consensus on “comprehensive policy,” i.e., one that gives illegal immigrants additional benefits and a path to citizenship.

    The attraction of the action taken by Obama may have been that it would trump a possible Republican compromise on this topic. Now, suspicion has grown that amnesty and voting rights are the next step. The use of executive order for such a change in policy has been attacked as illegal.

    So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

    Even Obama said the same a few months ago in explaining his then inaction. “I wish I could wave my magic wand,” Mr. Obama said. “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again… At the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself. We’re going to have to get Congress to act. I know Nancy Pelosi’s ready to act. It’s time to stop playing politics.”

    Well, playing politics is the order of the day and the Republicans should focus on the illegality of doing it by executive order and not on the policy, itself. With proper safeguards, the policy is a good idea although there may be backlash from semi-skilled unemployed who just got a million new competitors. Certainly the unemployment figures should now be adjusted for all the new legal job seekers.

    The distraction of the Daily Caller reporter interrupting the president was an amusing sidelight. Had Obama demonstrated humor and a benign manner, it might have been a good moment for him. Instead, he showed anger and the incident will probably lead to more interruptions as it seems to be the only way to ask this president a question.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Cuba, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Politics, Speeches | 26 Comments »

    File Under the Heading W-T-F

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th February 2012 (All posts by )

    As I was working over a hot computer this afternoon, with the local classical music station on, I heard a reader for this little excursion. Oh, my – I wondered if Texas Public Radio just wants us to get a good look at what happens when a prosperous state undergoes a revolution of the proletariat, and have received a full ration of social justice, as well as management by the modern version of the philosopher kings … yep, get a good long hard look at the itinerary. It includes a stop at the Bay of Pigs Museum. Lots of lovely pre-revolution buildings – at least, that is what the TPR website page about the tour displays.
    Gee, I guess they couldn’t wrangle a tour to Syria – I gather that it’s lovely, this time of year. Or maybe to another civil-rights hellhole like Burma, or Iran; so many lovely historic buildings and pleasing vistas, for the delectation of the culturally-sensitive and well-heeled visitors. I am just gob-smacked by this – and the timing for this particular tour offering, as well as the community that it has been offered to. San Antonio is a fairly conservative town, full of former military – and many of whom are sponsors and contributors to public radio – or at least, we were, back in the day.
    I used to work at this place, as a part-time announcer; until they decided to let all the local part-timers go, and manage the station with a combination of full-time professionals and automation. I used to think that TPR was one of those intersections where a lot of different circles in San Antonio intersected. Now, my daughter is wondering – Did Sean Penn and Michael Moore go halfsies on corporate-sponsoring Texas Public Radio?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Cuba, Latin America, Leftism, Personal Narrative | 43 Comments »

    Humanitarian Intervention in the Mesozoic Era

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 3rd September 2011 (All posts by )

    Lukewarm:

    Whatever may be the traditional sympathy of our countrymen as individuals with a people who seem to be struggling for larger autonomy and greater freedom, deepened, as such sympathy naturally must be, in behalf of our neighbors, yet the plain duty of their Government is to observe in good faith the recognized obligations of international relationship. The performance of this duty should not be made more difficult by a disregard on the part of our citizens of the obligations growing out of their allegiance to their country, which should restrain them from violating as individuals the neutrality which the nation of which they are members is bound to observe in its relations to friendly sovereign states. Though neither the warmth of our people’s sympathy with the Cuban insurgents, nor our loss and material damage consequent upon the futile endeavors thus far made to restore peace and order, nor any shock our humane sensibilities may have received from the cruelties which appear to especially characterize this sanguinary and fiercely conducted war, have in the least shaken the determination of the Government to honestly fulfill every international obligation, yet it is to be earnestly hoped on every ground that the devastation of armed conflict may speedily be stayed and order and quiet restored to the distracted island, bringing in their train the activity and thrift of peaceful pursuits.

    Warm:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Cuba, History, Latin America, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | Comments Off

    Ignore The Canary

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th September 2010 (All posts by )

    I was talking to someone who grew up around Appalachian coal mines a few days ago.

    “My daddy would always make sure he was the guy who carried the cage with the little bird in it when he went down into the mines. That way he would always be the first to know if there was a problem. He would watch the bird, and would run for the top when it would drop. Everyone else would just watch him, and start running when he would pass them by.”

    It isn’t news that the Obama administration has increased employment in the public sector by an amazing degree, even when individual governments in Europe, and the European Union itself, have slashed budgets.

    When even the cultures which most enthusiastically embraced government intrusion in their economies start to admit that it was a bad idea, it is pretty much the point when the bird stops chirping and keels over. The Democrats in charge of our country should have paid attention some time ago.

    The latest news is that Cuba has announced plans to lay off one million government workers.

    “Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.”

    So the Communists are making noises that they are going to give up on a centrally controlled economy? They are gingerly adopting American business practices because it is the only way to survive? And, even though they are discarding the old ways as being self-destructive, the Liberals are enthusiastically embracing those same policies?

    For goodness’ sake, when Cuba passes you in the mine, it is past time to turn around and make a run for the fresh air!

    Posted in Big Government, Cuba, Economics & Finance, Leftism, Obama, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Obama and the Dictators

    Posted by David Foster on 30th April 2009 (All posts by )

    Daniel Henninger:

    In New York this week, I asked a former Eastern European dissident who spent time in prison under the Communists: “If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chávez, what would you think?”

    He said: “I would think that I was losing ground.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Cuba, Israel, Judaism, Latin America, Politics | 19 Comments »

    Havana’s Deco Ruins

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th May 2008 (All posts by )

    Cuba is such a tragedy – a prosperous and basically decent society, wrecked. The old buildings are like ancient ruins that provide hints of the accomplishment and promise that used to be.


    (via Babalu)

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Cuba, Latin America, Urban Issues, Video | 3 Comments »

    Awaiting the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th August 2007 (All posts by )

    My friend Robert has a thoughtful post about how the Miami Cuban-American community will greet news of Castro’s death.

    Posted in Americas, Cuba, Predictions | Comments Off

    Even Communists Pack It On

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th June 2007 (All posts by )

    In a previous post, I discussed how obesity levels might just be an indicator of increasing wealth.

    The headline of a recent news item reads “30 Percent of Cubans Are Overweight”. Since Cuba is hardly known as a garden spot so far as economic vigor is concerned, this is a pretty good sign that I might be wrong about how more wealth equals larger waistlines.

    The author of the news article states that Cubans average over 3,000 calories a day, 30% of which is subsidized rations provided by Castro’s government. Healthy food such as fresh vegetables are prohibitively expensive, and the diet tends towards fried starches and fatty meat.

    It could be that food production technology has just gotten so efficient that obesity is in the reach of just about everyone. Except, apparently, for the North Koreans.

    Posted in Cuba, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior | 2 Comments »

    This Conference Should Send a Clear Message

    Posted by Ginny on 9th June 2007 (All posts by )

    Update (Tuesday, June 12): I e-mailed the Gateway links to my Czechophile son-in-law who is spending the summer in Russia; this may just be an accident of where he is and what newspapers he is reading or it may be that our commentators are right – this just wasn’t news. Nonetheless, I tend to see a certain irony – it isn’t news here because Bush has “no credibility” and it isn’t news there, perhaps because Putin has far too much “credibility.”
    Gateway Pundit transcribes part of Havel’s speech from the Dissident Panel at the Democracy and Security Conference in Prague; the post includes only a paragraph of Havel’s talk but he quickly mentions topics we often return to on this blog: appeasement of those abusing human rights, the bureaucratic response of the EU to such offenses, and the sins of Cuban repression:

    Vaclav Havel (through translater): Let me introduce this now using a specific example- the Cuban example…

    First… they (the EU) decide to invite dissidents to national day celebrations at the embassies. Second… they say we welcome changes but we’d like to be cautious so we’ll exclude dissidents from all of this. And now… I fear that again they are trying an appeasement policy position and I think that this conference should send a clear message to the EU leaders and say that this is not the right way to go.

    Posted in Cuba | Comments Off

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th June 2007 (All posts by )

    In turn, very few Cubans left their country for good before 1959. Sure, there were some who emigrated to the United States, but compared to the masses [immigrating] from Europe it was a very small group per capita.
     
    If you’ve stuck with me thus far, what comes next should be obvious. Simply put, after castro and his bandits took over in 1959, the boats and airplanes changed directions. They began leaving instead of arriving in Cuba. Estimates place the Cuban-American emigration to the United States at over a million. From a population of 6 million in 1959, that’s staggering. This doesn’t count the many Cubans who emigrated elsewhere in Latin America, as well as to Europe and even Australia. A country of immigrants became a country better known for its human export. A country which boasted sugar among its exports now spits out its own flesh and blood.

    -Robert

    Posted in Cuba, History, Latin America, Leftism, Quotations, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Campaign Against Spanish Support of Cuba’s Tourism Apartheid

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th May 2007 (All posts by )


     

    Our friend Henry Gomez has started Bloggers United for Cuban Liberty (BUCL), a worthwhile campaign to pressure Spain to stop being one of Castro’s principal enablers.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Announcements, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Cuba, Europe | 2 Comments »

    American Criminals in Cuba

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Kesher Talk links to an IHT article about American fugitives who are sheltered by the Cuban regime.

    (via Tatyana)

    (Cross posted at 26th Parallel.)

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Cuba | 6 Comments »

    Trafficking in Stolen Goods

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st April 2007 (All posts by )

    Via Babalu.

    It would be nice if Americans who knowingly profited from the communists’ looting of Cuban households would be prosecuted.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Cuba | 4 Comments »

    The Allende Myth, by Vladimir Dorta

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th December 2006 (All posts by )

    My friend Val Dorta originally published this outstanding historical essay on his blog in 2003. With the death of Augusto Pinochet, much attention is again being given to the Allende period, the military coup and the dictatorship that followed. I wanted to link again to Val’s essay but, unfortunately, his blog is no longer online. However, Val has graciously allowed me to republish his essay here, and I am honored to do so. – Jonathan

    UPDATE: Google’s cached version of Val’s original post, with comments. (Thanks to the commenter who provided this link.)

    ——–

    The Allende Myth

    Vladimir Dorta

    07/21/2003

    The failed and tragic attempt by Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity at creating socialism in Chile in 1970-1973 has become a myth for the world left, presented as the possibility of a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism that was destroyed only because the almighty CIA acted as master puppeteer of the Chilean reaction. The myth reinforces itself; while the Cold War context is never mentioned, neither is the fact that the CIA’s workings are well documented whereas the Cuban and Soviet interventions are still mostly unknown. The Allende myth may be good for keeping the socialist faith alive, but it evidently contradicts the historical facts.

    While Augusto Pinochet’s brutal post-coup repression and terrorism cannot be justified, it is essential to explain what led him and the Chilean armed forces to the fateful coup d’état, outside of the fantasy that had him bursting onto the democratic Chilean political scene on September 11, 1973 with readymade CIA orders to stop a beautiful, pacific and liberating socialist dream. For I have no doubts that if the Chilean Marxist experiment had ended in civil war, as it appeared to most observers at the time, it would have been an even greater tragedy or, had it ended as the totalitarian society it pointed to, it would have lasted much longer and would have brought Chileans much more suffering than Pinochet’s ugly but temporary dictatorship.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Book Notes, Civil Society, Cuba, History, Latin America, Leftism | 11 Comments »

    “Fidel Castro Has Yet To Face Justice”

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th December 2006 (All posts by )

    My friend Robert reminds us, in his own words and the words of an American journalist whose father Castro murdered, about the enormous human costs of the Cuban dictatorship.

    Worth reading in full.

    Discuss this post at the Chicago Boyz Forum.

    Posted in Cuba | Comments Off

    Good Source of Info. on Cuban Events

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st August 2006 (All posts by )

    Word is that Castro is not long for this world or indeed has already departed. Babalu Blog has the latest reports and rumors.

    (I am wondering what the proper etiquette is here. Should we send a sympathy card to Oliver Stone?)

    Posted in Cuba | Comments Off

    Castro Answers Questions

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th July 2006 (All posts by )

    The great comandante shows his respect for human rights and free speech, after a journalist asks him about a Cuban dissident who has dared to express openly her wish to visit relatives outside of Cuba:

    Video

    It’s in Spanish but the relevant parts are pretty much self-explanatory.

    (Via TheRealCuba.com, via 26th Parallel.)

    Posted in Cuba | 2 Comments »

    Cuban Dissidents vs. Moral Cripples

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th May 2006 (All posts by )

    Check out some of the comments here.

    (Via 26th Parallel)

    Posted in Cuba | Comments Off

    Guillermo Farias

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th March 2006 (All posts by )

    Speaking of free speech, Cuban journalist Guillermo Farias is on a hunger strike. The proximate cause is denial of Internet access, but the real cause is the beastly repressiveness of the Cuban regime. Worldwide publicity about the plight of Mr. Farias — and there are many others like him — is the best response. Tyrants, like vampires, fear light.

    More: Here

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    The MSM Will Counter-Attack

    Posted by Lexington Green on 21st March 2005 (All posts by )

    I tried to respond to Mr. Hiteshew’s comment to Nito’s post, but our super-duper comment-spam blocker kept dinging me. So, I’m sticking it here.

    Michael, I don’t start from a false premise. As it happens, I agree with you about linking and fair use. So, three cheers for us. Rather, I am addressing a different but related issue, the one Nito raised in his post.

    I start not from a premise, but from a strategic perspective: I am trying to think of ways the MSM could counter-attack the blogosphere. Under that scenario, I think they could plausibly argue that linking is akin to republication. I think that is a facially plausible argument, which is all they really need. How about putting a disclaimer at the bottom of their webpages saying “any link to this site shall be deemed republication and requires the express, written permission of xxx” and require people to sign up and pay a fee. Then selectively enforce it against anyone who is troublesome by suing them. Would this work? I don’t know. Is it obvious? Yes. Are there any number of further ways that the MSM could strike back, that thoughtful lawyers who are paid to think about these things might come up with? You betcha.

    The point is not what I think the right answer is. What I think should happen in the world is irrelevant even to me at this point, since none of it is likely to happen. The interesting question is the objective one: “Can the MSM raise the cost of alternative, Internet-based media that are eroding their economic and ideological position?” A further question is, “Can the MSM make facially plausible legal claims, now or after taking steps to strengthen their position that could raise the cost of blogging above nearly zero, to reduce the scale of the opposition?” I think the answer to both of these is obviously yes. Even if you are totally right, those are arguments you would have to make in response to a lawsuit, and that is expensive, which is the point, from the perspective of the MSM. The further question is “Will there be fallout, trouble, bad publicity, unintended consequences, if the MSM makes this move?” The answer is yes. Weighing those risks and costs against potential gains is a business decision that the owners of the MSM will have to make. I think you can count on some of them at least trying some kinds of counter-attacks, to see how it goes. They have a lot at stake — everything, in fact: money, influence, their jobs.

    This leaves aside the possibility of the MSM seeking some advantage via legislation or regulatory action, which is a huge front that the MSM is much, much better equipped to operate in than is the dispersed, under-funded blogosphere composed of hobbyists whose livelihoods and careers do not depend on blogging. If I had to place a bet my head but not my heart would say “bet on the organized, well-funded, well-connected guys with big law firms and big lobbyists who are fighting for their lives.” In any case, the MSM is going to respond to the changing environment, since it has to, and some of that response is likely to be aggressive.

    Here is a sad fact, and I mean this without any sarcasm at all. The mere fact that you or anyone happens to be legally, intellectually and morally on the correct side of an issue is only somewhat related to whether you will be able to prevail, whether in litigation, in politics or in any other forum. More importantly, these factors are often inversely correlated with whether you can afford to engage in the combat at all. The guys who are decent and right and good frequently don’t have the money, the organization, the willpower, the time, the ruthlessness to win. As Nito put it, correctly, working for the Dark Side is a better way to get your fees paid in full, on time, on a monthly basis.

    This is not a counsel of despair. But any “blogospheric triumphalism” is not so much premature as just foolish. Let’s be alert. Things are going to get interesting.

    Update: The comments here and to Nito’s post point in the direction I have been trying to push this conversation all along. We should be thinking out loud, wargaming the possible MSM responses to the blogosphere and considering ripostes and even how to push things in a productive direction.

    While the MSM has huge assets, the blogosphere has one advantage the MSM cannot match, if it can be harnessed: Massively distributed intelligence. A good idea put into play by one person can be globally distributed costlessly and, in practical effect, instantly. They hold a lot of cards, we hold one big card.

    Bets, Ladies and Gentlemen?

    Posted in Cuba | 12 Comments »