Tag Archives: Cuba

Rethinking the Cuba perk

Legal Travel To Cuba

February 16, 2013

Cuban immigrant Ed Lacosta holds his baby Melody Grace, 6 months at a special Valentine's Day naturalization ceremony for married couples on February 14, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) held the Valentine's Day ceremony in Tampa for 28 married couples from 15 different countries. (John Moore/Getty Images / February 15, 2013)
Cuban immigrant Ed Lacosta holds his baby Melody Grace, 6 months at a special Valentine’s Day naturalization ceremony for married couples on February 14, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) held the Valentine’s Day ceremony in Tampa for 28 married couples from 15 different countries. (John Moore/Getty Images / February 15, 2013)

For Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, the hardest part is getting here.

Since 1966, they’ve essentially been granted automatic refugee status upon arrival. The Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted then to address the legal status of 300,000 Cubans who’d fled Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution.

Almost half a century later, the Cubans who come to America rarely claim to be victims of political persecution. They want a better economic future, or to join family members already here, or both — just like most of the people who want to immigrate from anywhere else.

Unlike most immigrants, though, Cubans don’t have to wait years for a visa, or sneak across the border illegally. Once they’re here, they’re fast-tracked to legal residency, with a clear path to citizenship.

It’s a sore subject as Congress considers what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants to whom the system has not been so generous.

Those immigrants — more than half of them from Mexico — live and work under the government’s radar, often for low wages, constantly in fear of being deported.

To come here legally, most Mexican laborers would have to wait decades for a visa. But Cubans who present themselves at our southern border — a common point of entry, thanks to the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot” policy — are allowed in once they show an ID.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify it to my colleagues,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio is one of eight senators working on a bipartisan immigration reform bill. “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to avoid, as part of any comprehensive approach to immigration, a conversation about the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said.

The special considerations are especially hard to defend now that Cubans can travel freely between the U.S. and their homeland, thanks to loosened restrictions at both ends.

In 2009, President Barack Obama lifted most of the limits that kept Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island to visit family. Last year, more than 400,000 of them did so, some dozens of times.

In January, the Cuban government began allowing citizens to leave without an exit permit. Passports are now granted more liberally, and those who leave can stay away up to two years without losing their residency. Most Cubans are able to come and go at will.

Together, the changes are likely to invite a new influx of Cubans to the U.S., where they are eligible for legal residency, while encouraging them to return frequently to visit family — and spend money — in Cuba.

We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and forth to Cuba. Congress ought to kill the travel ban entirely, so that all Americans can visit the island. Tourists from other countries have been flocking to “terrorist” Cuba for years.

Mixing it up with the outside world is an important exercise for Cubans as they ponder a future without the aging Castro brothers.

But it’s hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of political repression. One does not flee communism only to return repeatedly with a suitcase full of money and merchandise for the family.

Nor does it make sense to allow entry to the U.S. based not on a claim of persecution, but on whether the person dodged the Coast Guard boats long enough to tag American soil.

To be fair, those immigrants aren’t lying about their circumstances. They’re not required to demonstrate that they’re political refugees. They come because they can. But it isn’t fair. Cubans who want to come here for economic reasons should play by the same rules as economic immigrants from other countries.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Case of Alan Gross

(Originally posted by Cuba Central)

Dear Friends,

We report on a flurry of activity concerning the case of Alan Gross, just days before the third anniversary of his arrest in Cuba, an event marked at a press conference in Washington this morning by his wife Judy Gross, understandably disconsolate, with his lawyer, Jared Genser, by her side.

Together, they said the Obama administration had failed to pursue vigorous diplomacy sufficient to secure his release.  He feels “dumped and forgotten” by the U.S. government, Mrs. Gross said, like a soldier left to die.  The lawyer’s message to the U.S. government was also direct:  “You sent him there; you have an obligation to get him out.”

In fact, they laid blame at the feet of both governments for being obstacles to the settlement of his case.  They said the Cuban government, which publicly calls for direct negotiations to address his case and the captivity of the Cuban Five, was either unable or unwilling to talk.

But they also made a special point of noting that the Obama administration had actively sought and won the release of Americans imprisoned abroad, and said the administration should pick an envoy close to President Obama, with full White House support, to go to Cuba and negotiate Alan Gross’s release.

Significantly, they called his captivity an obstacle to improvements in U.S.-Cuba relations, and urged both parties to work for his release.  In saying so, they parted company with the most ardent embargo supporters, who warn the Obama administration not to negotiate for his release.

As Senator Bob Menendez said this week in an interview with the New York Times “I’m not into negotiating for someone who is clearly a hostage of the Cuban regime.” Judy Gross correctly diagnosed the hardliner’s position as a surefire recipe for continuing his captivity for years.  “He is a pawn of these very radical right-wing Cuba haters, for lack of a better word, who don’t want to see any changes happen, even to get Alan home.”

Mrs. Gross pled for her husband’s release on humanitarian grounds, and demanded access by doctors for an independent examination of a mass on his shoulder that the family believes could be cancerous.  For its part, the Cuban government released this week the results of a biopsy conducted October 24th, and an examination by a physician who is also ordained as a Rabbi, who concluded that the growth is not cancerous.

Two weeks ago, attorneys for the Gross family filed a law suit against the U.S. government and his employer, the USAID contractor DAI, seeking $60 million in damages.  In the complaint available here, they concede that his activities were “to promote (a) successful democratic transition” in Cuba and that when he was at risk of detection by Cuban authorities, USAID failed to comply with provisions of the “Counterintelligence Manual” to save him before his arrest.

Mr. Gross knew of the dangers associated with his activities in Cuba, writing in one of the trip reports filed with his employer under the USAID contract, “In no uncertain terms, this is very risky business.”

In light of these facts, it is hard to understand why his legal representatives still argue that all he was doing in Cuba was trying to improve Internet access for the Jewish community.  This benign explanation was long ago overtaken by the facts.

Even so, it is a position that remains front and center in the U.S. State Department’s talking points.  Victoria Nuland, the department’s Spokesperson, responded to a reporter who asked about the Gross case, by saying:

But again, just to remind that this is a guy who’s been incarcerated for no reason for three years and ought to come home. Alan Gross was given a 15-year prison term simply for the supposed crime of helping the Jewish community of Cuba communicate with the outside world.

Old tropes die hard, especially when the U.S. government decides we can’t handle the truth.  This failure to concede why Mr. Gross was arrested and convicted not only contributes to the lack of movement in his case, but is especially alarming now that we know the Obama administration is doubling down on the program that led to his arrest.

As Tracey Eaton reports in Along the Malecón, the U.S. government “The U.S. government has hired a former CIA agent,” named Daniel Gabriel, “to create and manage a team of at least 10 journalists in Cuba.”  Gabriel’s Linked In profile concludes with this heartfelt endorsement:

“Dan is one of those dream clients you get once in a blue moon: totally risk tolerant, possessed of a voracious appetite for learning, and the drive to turn pontification into action.”

We could not think of a clearer case for why these programs need to end.

Save the date; U.S. tour of VICENTE FELIU

Download English version Leaflet both in Color or in Black/White

Enjoy an Evening of Music with a Leading Voice of the Nueva Trova Movement from Cuba, VICENTE FELIU, in Concert with Latin Grammy Award Winner ALEJANDRO VALDEZ


Saturday, September 15th

Special Cultural Presentation by
VIicente & Alejandro in CONCERT


Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center
310 West 43 Street, Manhattan
(Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
Reception: 7:00 p.m.
Light Refreshments
Time: 8:00 p.m.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González, the Cuban 5, were arrested by the F.B.I. on “conspiracy” and other trumped-up charges. The real reason for their imprisonment was that they infiltrated and gathered information on right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba by these groups. The Cuban 5 have been imprisoned for more than 13 years – for defending the sovereignty of their homeland.

Suggested Donation $10.00 (No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds)

Organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in collaboration with World Organization for Right of the People to Health Care, Inc., IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Casa de las Americas, July 26 Coalition and the National Network on Cuba.

Mensaje de Manuel Zelaya Rosales

Mensaje de Manuel Zelaya Rosales en ocasión del VI Encuentro de Solidaridad con Cuba

Tegucigalpa, 21 de julio de 2012

Compañeros y compañeras asistentes a este acto de solidaridad con la hermana República de Cuba:

Razones fuera de mi control me impiden estar aquí hoy, pero no puedo dejar de expresarme en un acto tan importante de justicia histórica, en el que el pueblo de Honduras demuestra que los lazos que nos unen son indestructibles, ni aún con seis décadas de calumnias y embuste contra el heroico pueblo cubano.

Expresamos con orgullo nuestra admiración por la revolución cubana, verdadero faro guía para la toda nuestra América Latina; sabemos que de no estar sometidos a un bloqueo inhumanos, anacrónico y estéril, sus capacidades estarían derramado mucho más en favor de los desposeídos en todas partes del mundo. Condenados sin reserva alguna ese acto ilegal y absurdo que priva a millones de cubanos a la vida que se han ganado portando siempre el estandarte de la dignidad. Al mismo tiempo, exigimos que se termine el infame encarcelamiento de los 5 héroes antiterroristas injustamente condenados por un sistema judicial que se jacta de ser impecable.

Queremos agradecer en nombre de todo nuestro pueblo la inmensa solidaridad que recibimos desinteresadamente por muchos años de médicos y maestros cubano. Asimismo, nos congratulamos de que cientos de hondureños y hondureñas se formen hoy en Cuba bajo una nueva perspectiva de lo que significa servir al pueblo. Muy pronto, con el inicio de la administración de Xiomara Castro y el partido Libre, tomaremos las medidas necesarias para restablecer los lazos de hermandad cooperación que sólo la brutalidad reaccionaria pudieron interrumpir.

Nuestro saludo al pueblo cubano, al presidente Raúl Castro, y al comandante Fidel Castro Ruz.

Hasta la victoria siempre

José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Coordinador General
Partido Libertad y Refundacion, Libre
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular

www.losnecios.com
http://losnecius.blogspot.com/
www.resistenciahonduras.net