JVLV: U.S. EMBASSY OPENS IN CUBA MIDST CASTRO’S
Leni Friedman Valenta and Jiri Valenta
August 14, 2015
The U.S. Owes Cubans “Many Millions of Dollars.” Fidel Castro’s arrogance is Brobdingnagian (remember Gulliver?) But that’s mainly because he’s dealing with political Lilliputians. He states the United States owes Cuba “millions" based on the 50-year U.S. trade embargo. In return for burnishing Barack’s legacy with the opening to Cuba, and while sacrificing virtually nothing, the bloody dictator now even expects to be paid!
The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, a U.S. government agency, has certified these claims, the largest ever made on us by any foreign government in the history of our republic! With interest they come to an estimated 7 billion dollars – not one cent of which he should get. For those who don’t know, like sympathetic Bernie Sanders, our trade embargo, initiated in 1960, was in fact a reaction to the dictator’s illegal expropriations of 1.8 billion dollars’ worth of U.S. properties.
None of this surprises Jiri, who recalls the arrogance of his late colleague, Dean Enrique Baloyra, at the University of Miami when he returned from his 1988 visit to Cuba with a delegation of leading scholars. Bayloyra, on the board of a Castro-funded journal, Arieto, was apoplectic a “right winger,” had been invited among all the left wing academicians to the Castro ball. He screamed at Jiri that one day Fidel would get back millions in reparations from the U.S.!
Castro’s preposterous claim is based on his hope that our Divider-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, our inept deal maker Kerry, and classified e-mail expert , Hillary, if elected, will sooner or later yield to the demands of Yankee tourists and business moguls, eager for investment, trade, and mulatto call girls, that Congress lift the embargo.
All of this is painful not just to many Cuban exiles in America, but to Jiri, who helped the cause of glasnost in Moscow and Prague, but failed in Havana. From 1989-93 Jiri and his Russian counterpart, Dr. Andrey Kortunov, helped to organize a program of Moscow Miami Dialogues, at Jiri’s former Institute of Soviet and East European Studies at the University of Miami. It was sponsored largely with the help of the late Jorge Mas Canosa, then chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Feliciano Foyo, a friend of Jeb Bush, and leaders of the Miami Jewish community like Abel Holtz and Sandy Ziff. Their mission was to educate Soviet, reform-minded Russians that Gorbachev’s glasnost was not happening in Cuba. Reporter Andres Oppenheimer wrote in his book, Castro’s Final Hour, how Jiri personally briefed an amazed Boris Yeltsin.
During these dialogues, Yeltsin and other Russian glasnost leaders, advisers and scholars like Georgi Arbatov and Andrey Kortunov, and numerous Russian opinion-makers met with key U.S. legislators and university students. Also upheld at these dialogues, besides glasnost, was the cause of Renaldo Ochua, the popular, glasnost-friendly Cuban general and Castro rival, who was executed for “treason” after a Stalinist-type show trial. The anti-Castro campaign that followed in the Soviet press, organized with the aid of Mas Canosa and Jiri, brought about dozens of glasnost articles read by the Russian people.
For the first time there was a frank, honest look at the brutal, totalitarian regime of macho-Leninist regime, and the six billion dollars in Soviet subsidies being paid to it yearly while Russian food stores, amidst a deep economic crisis, were virtually empty. In 1990, Jiri also led a CANF delegation to President Yeltsin at his Russian White House and their lobbying helped Yeltsin’s decision to cut Russian subsidies to Cuba. Even Vladimir Putin, who renewed some ties with Cuba, never reinstated those subsidies. In a Moscow-Prague Dialogue supported by the late Vaclav Havel, and late Czech foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier, (Jiri was his appointed advisor) the Czechs acted upon the recommendation of Mas and Jiri to cease Cuban representation in Washington.
The hope arose that eventually the Cuban regime would change as did its East European counterparts. It would open its system and release its dissidents through largely peaceful revolutionary change. But after so much hope and effort, It was not to be. Today’s opening of our embassy in Havana is confirmation of what Donald Trump would call Obama-Kerry’s pitiable deal-making. As in the case of the Iran nuke deal, the opening to Cuba has occurred accompanied with little in return.
Disgracefully, no dissidents were freed and invited to the opening of our embassy in Havana. No pledges were made to open the system and hold free elections. No discussion was held about any Castro claims for reparations. This is not only bad deal-making, but a betrayal of Jack Kennedy’s promise to the Bay of Pigs veterans that their flag, together with the U.S. flag would someday be raised in a free Havana. Castro, a man who pathologically hates America, and who has promoted other dictatorships in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Angola and Ethiopia, must be laughing up the sleeve of his biadero.
A genuine opening to Cuba on our terms, must now await the results of the 2016 presidential elections..
WHO IS PEDRO FUENTES-CID ? PERHAPS A FUTURE PRESIDENT OF CUBA
INTERVIEWED BY LENI FRIEDMAN VALENTA
JULY 21, 2014
In this riveting account, Pedro Fuentes-Cid, a former dissident and prisoner under Castro describes the experience of being arrested and nearly executed in a Castro prison.
I was arrested on 27 of March, 1961 at the age of 22. The prison was the Fortress of La Cabana, a former Spanish fortress, considered the largest in the Americas. It had been built after the English took Mora Castle, with its weak flank facing the harbor, and also took over Havana. The Cabanya Fortress was built less than a hundred years later. I was taken there to be shot before a firing squad.
Three other people were with me. Two of them were shot before my eyes. They had been accused of hiding arms and building bombs. I was accused of planning high level executions and terrorism and resisting arrest with violence. When the security forces stopped the four of us there was a shoot out, but we weren’t killed. We were indeed hiding weapons. They took photos of us with all the arms and ammunition. It was published on the first page of the official newspaper. Carlos Franqui has the photos in his book.
They shot Virgilio Campaneria and Alberto Dabia Ruano, members of another organization that had been sent in the same paddy wagon with us to state security headquarters. Alfredo Sanchez and I were left alive. Alfredo´s father was Aureliano Sanchez Arango. He was the ideologue for the Latin American Social Democratic Movement. Not only that, he had been secretary of Foreign Relations and Secretary of Education under the last constitutional president of Cuba, Carlos Prio. He started lobbying with President Don Pepe Figuerez in Costa Rica, Romolu in Betnancourt in Venezuela, Janio Qudadros in Brasil and Lopez Materos in Mexico. These four presidents began to lobby with leaders throughout the world on our behalf.
I was in the prison for one year waiting to hear my fate. At one point I smiled at a joke another prisoner told me. A guard saw me and didn't like it. He said, ,”Why are you smiling?” I told him. He said, “All right, stand over here,” and he put me in a death cell -- solitary confinement. It was about a meter and a half by a meter and a half with a little hole for a toilet. Water poured from another little hole twice a day. You could stand up, but barely. When they first brought me, there was a body in the cell that they had to remove. Left alone I saw writings scratched into the wall from prisoners had died. “I will die like a man” and other notes.
There was also another man in my cell, still alive. I said who are you? He told me his name was Alfred. I asked where are you from? He said Dominican Republic.
“ Why you here?” He said he was a communist, but had been accused of being a counter-revolutionary and was imprisoned. He declared himself on a hunger strike, so they had put him in our cell.
I started talking to him. I told him I had been trained in Dominican Republic and knew a lot of people. I had been in an artillery camp training camp for guerilla warfare aimed at Castro, called “Control 7, and the man who trained me was a Captain Perez.
I was very hungry and the first food they brought us in the death cell was much better than the food they served in the Galera, the normal prison barracks. It was the same as what they served to the military. -- Russian meat in cans.
I told my cell mate, “You´re on a hunger strike but I´m not. When they come with the food let me eat your Russian meat in front of the guard so they know you´re not eating it. So all the time I was there I was eating the good food in his tray plus mine. So I was happy. I had food and someone to talk to. We were the only two in the death cells at that moment,
I was there a week for the sin of having smiled at a joke. But I had my revenge. When I returned to my Galera, with its rooms for many prisoners, I had a bigger smile having eaten well for a week.
I spent a year there waiting to be shot and planned what I would do when they put me on the wagon on the way to my execution. My plan was to fight them and spit on them and to address the firing squad. I could hear all the other executions, and the prisoners shouting Viva Cubre Libre or Viva Cristo Rey. [Long live Christ the Lord).
In the Galera we were very cramped. It was designed for 80 prisoners but supported 160. In another room the capacity was for 60 people but there were 150 . It was a concave room 60 feet by about 25 in the Roman style. At least it was clean because we took turns cleaning both the room and the little bathroom that we had. But there were a lot of bedbugs and we were never given anything to kill them. One night I woke up and counted 16 bedbugs in my mattress. Also, the only entrance for air was from a triple barred window in the back and from the door. So it was either very hot, and in the winter, sometimes very cold. The only covering we had was our khaki uniform and one pair of underwear.
One day they brought all the priests from the Belem School and put them together with us. So I gave my bed to a very old priest and as a gift, he gave me a Bible that was a direct translation from Hebrew to Spanish, one of the few not from Hebrew to Latin and then Spanish. I treasured it until they took it from me in one of the regular searches the guards made.
Alfred and I started planning an escape. We planned to hide in one of the trash cans that they took out to be dumped. Prisoners took out the cans to be picked up by the trash truck. Unfortunately, from the moment we started our plans, they came with sharp pikes and slammed down on the trash to see if anyone was hiding there. So I assume someone had tipped them off.
In the year I waited for my death sentence, I knew of everything that was done by and to the others. One day I got a message from President Prio through a lady I knew. She said, “President Prio says not to worry. They are going to give you a prison sentence. You will not be shot. That made me very happy.
At the end of the year I began my thirty-year sentence, which included another thirty years without civil rights. I was sent to the Presidio Modelo in Isla de Pinos, (Isle of Pines) the island described by Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island. It had been visited frequently by pirates because of its location. That is another story.
Famous dissidents, The Ladies in White
JVLV: SAY NO TO OBAMA CLOSING GITMO!
No More Appeasement of Islamic Terrorists and Rogue Regimes
By Jiri and Leni Friedman Valenta
February 23, 2016
Today, February 23rd, we are issuing a warning as we did prior to the Russia invasion of the Crimea before it happened and the intervention in the Southeastern. Ukraine in 2014.
President Obama will be speaking at 10:30 about closing Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) in Cuba. This move is not just to keep a 2008 campaign promise, but part of a deliberate strategy of appeasing rogue regimes and weaking our struggle against Islamis terrorism.
Congress must prevent it! Closing is not in the interests of our vital national security. Obama’s strategy for the last eight years has been to open our country to our most mortal foes, the terrorist regimes in Shiite Iran, Castro’s dictatorship in Havana and he has even, as we just learned, hinted at making similar overtures to North Korea.
Obama’s has continually underestimated the threat of ISIS, and the last time he spoke in the Rose Garden, he released five ISIS terrorists for a traitor, Bowe Berghdahle, in a deal criticized by both our political parties.
The nuclear deal he forged with Iran and rammed through Congress is beneficial primarily to Iran, nor does it reverse the trend towards the nuclearization of this terrorist state.
When you listen to our president about closing GITMO, you have to see the linkage with our struggle against ISIS. Moving the prisoners to THE U.S. would be seen as a defeat because in GItMO various measures have been used to gain information vital to our security that are not permissible in the U.S. Moreover, once here the prisoners can obtain legal representation and perhaps their freedom.
But above all it will please Castro. Make no mistake, Obama is linking his strategy in closing GITMO to his forthcoming, March visit to Cuba and appeasement of the Cuban dictator. For several years he has been engaged in the gradual rescue of regime that is moribund due to its own disastrous economic policies and totalitarian nature. He is also pressuring Congress to end the embargo of Cuga.
Congress has thus far banned any money for closing GITMO and it must, in a bi-partisan way, do all in its power to prevent this act of appeasement so dangerous to our national security.
Protesters in Venezuela, many of whom are dying in the streets
JVLV: TO POTUS AND MARCO ON CUBA!
Dr. Jiri Valenta
June 17, 2017
While preparing changes in our Cuban policies, you must include changes in our policies vis-a-vis pro-Castro Caracas in Venezuela. The Maduro regime is supported by both Cuba and Iran. We must not allow Teheran's mullahs to continue getting uranium from Venezuela! And we must insist on free elections. Many democrats are dying in Venezuela -- a country in our strategic backyard. Support democratic regime change! It's in our vital national interest!
JVLV: POPE’S VISIT TO CUBA: TYRANNY OF COMMUNISM
VS TYRANNY OF THE MARKET
By Jiri Valenta and Leni Friedman Valenta
September 18, 2015
These writers admire His Holiness, Pope Francis. Like Jean Paul II, he has shown remarkable courage and compassion while supporting poor, suffering and disenfranchised throughout the world. Yet, on the eve of his visit to Cuba, and less experienced with communism than his Polish born predecessor, he describes the capitalism replacing communism in various countries as “a new tyranny,” But while capitalism is flawed system, communism is a disastrous one. Like fascism, it encompasses a totalitarian system that destroys the souls of human beings, stripping them of all political, civic and religious freedoms. Capitalism, on the other hand, is intricately associated with a rising middle class and its consequent restraints on executive power.
We do not take issue with the U.S. opening to Cuba. This event, partly possible because of Francis’s aid, was the right thing to do. Past U.S. policies have not worked. Economically suffering like its ally, radical Chavista Venezuela, and no longer able to rely on Venezuelan oil, the Cuban regime desperately needed economic assistance and foreign trade to survive.
With all this leverage, however, the opening presided over by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was not exactly the “art of the deal.” Despite all rhetoric, Kerry unfortunately shunned the Cuban dissidents. At the opening of the U.S. Embassy he shut them out of the building. No space for them. Some excuse!
The month of August saw hundreds of arrests of dissidents in Cuba, as well as the beatings and dispersions of the Ladies in White, married to political prisoners. It behooves His Holiness to fill in where Kerry failed. He must take the case of the dissidents to the source, insist on meeting with human rights activists at the Vatican Embassy in Havana, and demand that all political prisoners be freed. He should not be confused by the empty gesture of Castro brothers, used before the visits of the Pope’s two predecessors, Jean Paul II in 1998, and Pope Benedict, in 2012. In both cases the Castros released some prisoners before the papal visit, but those set free did not include prisoners convicted of “violations of state security,” i.e., political prisoners and human rights activists.
Pope Francis should follow the examples of the Czech dissidents turned leaders of the 1989 gentle revolution, the late Vaclav Havel , Minister of Foreign Affairs Jiri Dienstbier and his still living deputy, Martin Palous, all whom I brought to Miami with the help of CANF leaders Jorge Mas Canosa and Feliciano Foyo. They rendered selfless support in the cause of human rights and liberty for the still oppressed island of Cuba. Capitalism may be morally flawed, but Pope Francis hopefully will come to understand that the tyranny of communism is much worse than the tyranny of the market.
Dr. Jiri Valenta was the first academic from the U. of Miami asked to be part of a pioneering, U.S. government-t supported trip of leading American scholars visiting Havana, shortly before the 1988 elections. His paper presented at the conference was entitled “Comrades, You Need Glasnost Here!” It was reprinted in the Miami Herald in English and Spanish. He has written on Cuban communism, Cuban relations with the former USSR and other former communist nations, and on international terrorism. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Times, Washington Quarterly, Cuban Studies, Problems of Communism, and Studies in Comparative Communism, as well as Moscow News and other leading Russian and Czech periodicals.
In 2011-2014, together with the editor of jvlv.net, Leni Friedman Valenta, he has also contributed numerous articles on Cuban relations with Nicaragua and Venezuela and Iran to the Tico Times, San Jose, the best English Central American newspaper in 2011-2014. While in San Jose, the Valentas also conducted research on Cuban and Russians relations with Venezuela, Nicaragua and Iran.
Translated by Radio Marti
Visita del Papa a Cuba: tiranía del comunismo
vs tiranía del capitalismo
Jiri Valenta and Leni Friedman Valenta
do originalmente en el blog RIAC el 19 de Septiembre del 2015
(English translation below)
Él (Francisco) no debe ser confundido por el gesto vacío de los hermanos Castro, utilizado antes de que las visitas de los dos predecesores del Papa, Juan Pablo II en 1998, y el Papa Benedicto XVI, en 2012.
Los escritores admiran a Su Santidad, Francisco. Al igual que Juan Pablo II, ha demostrado una notable valentía, compasión y apoyo a los pobres, a los sufridos y privados de sus derechos en todo el mundo.
Sin embargo, en la víspera de su visita a Cuba, y con menos experiencia con el comunismo que su antecesor polaco, dice que el capitalismo ha sustituido el comunismo en varios países como "una nueva tiranía." Sí, el capitalismo es un sistema imperfecto, pero el comunismo es uno desastre.
Al igual que el fascismo, abarca un sistema totalitario que destruye las almas de los seres humanos, despojándolos de todas las libertades políticas, cívicas y religiosas. El capitalismo, por otro lado, está estrechamente asociado con un aumento de la clase media y sus consiguientes restricciones al poder ejecutivo.
No temamos problema con la apertura de Estados Unidos a Cuba. Este evento, en parte es posible gracias a la ayuda de Francisco, era lo correcto. Las políticas anteriores de Estados Unidos no funcionaron. Económicamente ya no pueden confiar en el petróleo venezolano, el régimen cubano necesita desesperadamente ayuda económica y comercio exterior para sobrevivir.
Con toda esta influencia, sin embargo, la apertura presidida por el secretario de Estado estadounidense, John Kerry, no era exactamente el "arte del trato." A pesar de toda la retórica, Kerry lamentablemente rechaza a los disidentes cubanos. En la apertura de la Embajada de EEUU se quedaron fuera del edificio. No había espacio para ellos. !Algunas excusas! Tampoco hemos oído que hubo referencias a los lazos de seguridad ruso-cubana, como la visita de un buque de la inteligencia rusa al puerto de La Habana un día antes de la invasión de Ucrania, o el interés de Rusia en la renovación de puestos de escucha en Lourdes.
Durante el mes de agosto se vieron cientos de arrestos de disidentes en Cuba, así como golpizas y acosos a las Damas de Blanco, esposas de presos políticos.
Corresponde a Su Santidad rellenar, donde Kerry falló. Debe ir a la fuente en el tema de los disidentes a la fuente, insistir en reunirse con activistas de derechos humanos en la embajada del Vaticano en La Habana, y demandar de que sean liberados todos los presos políticos.
Él no debe ser confundido por el gesto vacío de los hermanos Castro, utilizado antes de que las visitas de los dos predecesores del Papa, Juan Pablo II en 1998, y el Papa Benedicto XVI, en 2012. En ambos casos, los Castro liberaron a algunos prisioneros antes de la visita papal, pero los liberados no incluía a presos condenados por "violaciónes de la seguridad del Estado", es decir, los presos políticos y activistas de derechos humanos.
Francisco debe seguir el ejemplo de los disidentes checos que se volvieron líderes de la Revolución de Terciopelo en 1989, el fallecido Vaclav Havel, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores Jiri Dienstbier y su adjunto que aún viven, Martin Palous, todos los que fueron invitados a Miami con la ayuda de los líderes de la FNCA Jorge Mas Canosa y Feliciano Foyo. Ellos prestan apoyo desinteresado en la causa de los derechos humanos y la libertad de la isla todavía oprimidos de Cuba.
El capitalismo puede ser moralmente deficiente, pero Francisco con suerte llegará a comprender que la tiranía del comunismo es mucho peor que la tiranía del mercado.