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Cuba Weekend
Monday, May 23, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

Cuba Nostalgia and The Assembly

This past weekend could be looked back on as one of the most important in the history of Cuba.  The Assembly actually met, discussed a democratic form of government, voted on measures, and went home without much in the way of harassment from fidel.  We'll see if the lack of harassment holds.

Robert at The 26th Parallel has translated the highlights of the Assembly's Resolution. He translates the conclusion:

"The delegates of the General Meeting of the Assembly To Promote Civil Society, before the patriotic symbols that have presided over this event that our forefathers hoisted in the fight for the independence of our country, which have served as a guide and breath to all the Cuban people, we solemnly proclaim our firm disposition to continue without giving up our pacific fight for the democratization of our country, maintaining our indissoluble link of love and brotherhood to that part of the Cuban nation that is in exile. We recall with total validity and relevancy a quote from Jose Marti: 'For Cuba it is now the time.' (Ovacion and shouts of "For Cuba it is now the time".)"

Read the whole thing - it's quite remarkable.

The Assembly meeting also got a lot of press in Europe because fidel decided to throw a few European legislators out of the country and to arrest a few reporters. fidel's actions centered attention on the Cuban journalists rotting in his prison cells.

The International Federal of Journalists (IFJ) denounced the expulsion of the journalists and called for all journalists imprisoned in Cuba - an estimated 20 or more - to be freed. The journalists were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 27 years.

"These arrests and the continued imprisonment of more than 20 journalists and writers are shocking evidence of the intolerance that dictates media policy," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "The Cuban regime loses all credibility, and international support drains away because of its bullying and intimidation of media."

At the same time in Miami, the Cuba Nostalgia Convention was held, and Babalu live-blogged the convention, published fidel's email address, and offered attendees a chance to email the bearded bastard.  Scroll down Val's  site for stories from the convention - plus a photo of an unbelievable rumbera, and an even more unbelievable musician.

USA Today has finally noticed Venezuela, and features an article saying hugo wants to be the next fidel.

At the invitation of Venezuela's president, nearly 30,000 Cuban health care workers and sports instructors have spread out across Venezuela over the past two years offering free checkups, medicines and stretching classes.

In exchange, Hugo Chavez, leader of the world's fifth-largest oil supplier, is sending up to 90,000 barrels a day free to Fidel Castro's communist island.

The deal is the latest sign of where Chavez wants to take his country - and even the region. Castro once had hopes of carrying his socialist revolution across the Spanish-speaking world, but little money and even less support among the continent's right-wing leaders of the 1980s and '90s left him increasingly isolated.

But Chavez, 50, flush with oil money and buttressed by a handful of new left-of-center presidents who have swept into office over the past several years in South America, is positioned to wage Castro's crusade against capitalism and U.S. power more effectively than "El Jefe" - the chief - ever could. Chavez is mounting the first real challenge to U.S. influence in the region in decades.

I'm not so sure USA Today has the right take - I think that rather than being the next fidel, hugo is Emperor fidel's Anakin Skywalker.

The Christian Science Monitor has also taken notice - with a story on one of fidel's healthcare workers.

Llorente Munoz has a photograph of her sons tucked into the corner of her bathroom mirror. Arnaldo, 7, and Enrique, 13, are back in Cuba while she is at this small Caracas clinic taking care, as she puts it, "of my other children" - Venezuela's poor.

Ms. Munoz, a medic, is one of 20,650 Cuban healthcare workers and 8,600 "sports instructors" who have fanned out across Venezuela in the past two years, offering free checkups, medicines, and stretching classes. President Hugo Chavez, as leader of the world's fifth-largest oil supplier, is footing the bill, sending up to 90,000 barrels a day to Fidel Castro's communist island.

For critics, the relationship is a troubling sign of where Mr. Chavez wants to take his country - and even the region. Unlike Castro, who lacked the funds and support from Latin America's previous right-wing leaders to spread his socialist revolution across the Spanish-speaking world, Chavez is flush with oil money. He is also finding receptivity thanks to a wave of left-of-center presidents who have come to power in recent years. The combination gives the US its first real challenge in the region in decades.

I hope this means Condi and the Foggy Bottom Boys are paying attention.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren