Category Archive 'Cuba'
02 Jul 2018

Castro’s Croc

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Fidel Castro was an admirer of the native Cuban predatory reptile, but his conservation efforts, like most of hos grandiose schemes, were mired in contradictions.

Hakai magazine:

Conserving the Cuban croc was one of Fidel Castro’s first priorities after he steamed into power in 1959. Just months into his rule, he ordered the creation of the Criadero de cocodrilos, Ciénaga de Zapata—or Zapata Swamp Captive Breeding Facility—a cluster of ponds, rows of concrete-block pens, and a couple of narrow one-story buildings split into modest offices and workspaces for staff two and a half hours south of Havana. Castro always had a predilection for wild spaces and things, says environmental historian Reinaldo Funes-Monzote of the University of Havana. Whether he cherished endemic species because they fit with his hypernationalistic sensibilities, or he related to their untamed energy, or he was just enlightened to the inherent value of wildlife is a guess, though crocodiles must have become a point of pride for him at some stage—he eventually developed a habit of gifting them, either living or embalmed, to foreign allies. He also launched initiatives to raise manatees, deer, and Cuban gar in the swamp.

The island of Cuba, some say, is shaped like a crocodile, though you need a highly developed imagination to see it. The hatchery, located on one of its webbed feet—whether front or back depends on which way you tilt your head—has been solely dedicated to the conservation of the Cuban crocodile since 1974. The mission is straightforward in theory: secure the Cuban crocodile for the future and learn about the natural history of the little-understood species along the way. Yet as geneticist Yoamel Milián-García of the University of Havana and others peer into the crocodile’s cellular secrets, they’re revealing that there’s a lot more that needs to be considered when it comes to conserving Castro’s croc.

In the wild, the Cuban—one of the world’s rarest crocodiles—is found almost exclusively within the 300-square-kilometer freshwater interior of the Zapata Swamp. The saltier stretches along the coast are the domain of Cuba’s other native crocodile—the widely distributed American (Crocodylus acutus), also found in coastal areas across Cuba and other Caribbean islands, and on the mainland from Mexico and southern Florida down to northern Peru and Venezuela. The Cuban is bolder and hunts during the day. It has a stubby snout, a reputation for jumping, and a tendency to walk with its belly high off the ground. The American is bigger, more apt to hide, searches for prey at night, sports dark bands on its back and sides, and has a long, pointed snout and extra webbing on its hind toes. The differences are as distinct as red from blue. Yet when Milián-García analyzed their genetics a few years ago, he confirmed what zookeepers and scientists had already suspected: the two species are skinny-dipping in the same gene pool. …

By the time Castro had taken power, Zapata Swamp had already been altered by human ambition. Land reclamation projects here date back to the 19th century. And as researcher Claudia Martínez Herrera from Cuba’s national archive explains in a report, in the 1940s, the sugar industry arrived in the swamp—trees were cleared to make way for crops and mills and to power production. Loggers also cut swaths of royal ebony, mahogany, and white oak for export and for coal production. The sediment released from logging changed the area’s hydrology, causing four distinct areas to merge together into one giant swamp. Inhabitants drove artificial channels deep into the interior to access remaining trees. When Fulgencio Batista was in power, he had even taken steps to slash a canal all the way from the swamp’s south coast to Havana, bisecting the country, as a shortcut for ships traveling between the United States and the Panama Canal, though it never materialized.

Castro embraced the notion of bringing economic development to the sparsely inhabited and impoverished region. In The Real Fidel Castro, the late former British ambassador to Cuba Leycester Coltman says that from the beginning, the leader—who has been heralded as an environmentalist—“showed a fatal attraction to gigantic schemes to conquer nature and change the landscape, the sort of projects that appealed to other modern pharaohs such as Mussolini and Stalin.” Castro wanted to drain the swamp, a “virtually unpopulated region, infested with mosquitoes and crocodiles,” and convert it into “a rich area for rice-growing and tourism,” Coltman writes. Under his watch, Funes-Monzote confirms, more water was siphoned away and more artificial channels were driven deep into the swamp, into Cuban crocodile habitat.

Aspiring to save endemic species while simultaneously degrading their habitat is clearly contradictory, though awareness about the importance of saving ecosystems rather than focusing on specific species had not yet become part of the zeitgeist, and land reclamation was still generally viewed as a good idea, says Funes-Monzote. Plus, Castro was perfectly comfortable with contradictions. …

[A]lthough they look and behave differently, Cuban crocodiles and American crocodiles in Cuba are almost genetically the same to begin with. Only a 0.9 percent genetic difference exists between them—which makes American crocodiles here much more closely related to Cuban crocodiles than to members of their own species elsewhere in their range. Perhaps considering them two species was a taxonomic miscalculation and they should be treated as one. Or, maybe the American crocodile in Cuba needs to be designated a second crocodile species entirely unique to Cuba. In that case, could allowing two separate but wholly Cuban species to hybridize prove more palatable from a social perspective?

RTWT

The Cuban croc is probably really only a sometimes-isolated local subspecies, at best.

28 Nov 2016

57 Stolen Years

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castrodead

Joel D. Hirst mourns the 57 years stolen from the lives of millions of Cubans by the bandidito tyrant.

I said I would write no more about the death of a tyrant. I lied. Well, perhaps only changed my mind. Because I read something yesterday – something that nobody in Cuba would be able to read. “The greatest evil of the tyranny” it said “was the theft of six generations of life.”
children-in-cuba

Of life

Forget the gulags and the concentration camps and the firing squads. Those are the stories that made the papers at least – stories that were told. No – the most important part of this tragedy is not what happened, but what didn’t happen. The novels that were not written, stories of beach and mountain and freedom and loss; the beautiful paintings that did not come to be, which in turn did not inspire abounding love – the love of storybooks. The cuisine that was not refined; the businesses that did not provide for families; inventions that do not help humanity; diseases that were not cured.

The life that was not lived.

This – for me – is the greatest tragedy of all. We have this life at our fingertips, those of us from America. To a greater measure than others; but even those from Panama, or Chile, or Paraguay can see that which they wish to attain. They can uncork the $1000 bottle of wine and dream of the day they will sit in front of the sheer white tablecloth and drink deeply. They can read the novel, and imagine how they would make the stories unfold, improving them. They can look at the girl across their own malecon and imagine how they will win their fortune and then come for her.

None of these things have been imagined – for six generations – in Cuba.

For those of us who are writers, the unwritten story of Cuba is the saddest of all.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

26 Nov 2016

A Better Man Died in 1959

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corneliorojas
Colonel Cornelio Rojas, Chief of Police, Santa Clara, Cuba, executed without trial 7 January 1959 by order of Che Guevara.

23 Mar 2016

Doing It The Right Way

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TRVisitingCuba

22 Mar 2016

Obama Poses in Front of Che

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ObamaChe1

Yesterday, Barack Hussein Obama could have had his photograph taken with the memorial to the liberal Cuban Revolutionary hero José Marti in the background, but ever true to his communist family and childhood mentor Frank Marshall Davis, Obama kept the red flag flying high and posed deliberately in front of a massive image of murdering sadist Che Guevara.

Obama’s visit to Cuba is almost entirely gestural. He would need Congressional approval to lift completely the trade embargo, so he is just exploiting every little legal loophole he can, and applying the prestige of the US presidency and the symbolism of a fawning presidential visit to buff up the Cuban revolutionary cause.

Obama’s photo represents a humiliating day for Americans, as this US president, one more time, demonstrates his personal admiration for, and agreement with, America’s prime enemies. And it constituted a real slap in the face to Americans of Cuban, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Czech, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, and every other Captive Nations background.

Barack Obama in eight years was only able to nationalize one sixth of the US economy, but he was unfortunately able to disgrace the country one hundred per cent yesterday.

19 Dec 2014

Let’s Go For the Silver Lining

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CastroWithGuns
Sell them all to the Yanquis!

OK, the leftist in the White House is disgracing the United States by relaxing the embargo on trade and talking about restoring diplomatic relations with the communist despotism in Cuba.

If the libs get to vacation in the Workers’ Paradise sipping Mojitos, we Republicans ought to get our share of the deal by new trade policies permitting American importers to bring in Russian and Czech guns from Cuba. More Mosin Nagants and SKS-s, along with Czech Mausers and VZ52-s.

Some discussion at Gunboards.

07 Jun 2009

Cuban State Department Spy Was “Radicalized” By Bush

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The Washington Post‘s story makes it clear that Walter Kendall Myers is going to plead insanity and beat the rap for spying for the Communist Cuban regime on the basis on Bush Derangement Syndrome, a disorder afflicting numerous Ivy League graduates, and one particularly epidemic within the State Department.

You can picture the scene now.

Walt (or it is “Ken?”) flings down his London Review of Books indignantly, livid with rage after reading the latest Monbiot editorial describing the misery of oppressed Americans who were denied entry to Mercersburg and Brown. Gwendolyn sympathetically brings him a glass of Chardonnay, and sighs, “Oh dear, if only there were something we could do!”

“There must be.” returns Walt (or Ken) with determination.

He was a courtly State Department intelligence analyst from a prominent family who loved to sail and peruse the London Review of Books. Occasionally, he would voice frustration with U.S. policies, but to his liberal neighbors in Northwest D.C. it was nothing out of the ordinary. “We were all appalled by the Bush years,” one said.

What Walter Kendall Myers kept hidden, according to documents unsealed in court Friday, was a deep and long-standing anger toward his country, an anger that allegedly made him willing to spy for Cuba for three decades.

“I have become so bitter these past few months. Watching the evening news is a radicalizing experience,” he wrote in his diary in 1978, referring to what he described as greedy U.S. oil companies, inadequate health care and “the utter complacency of the oppressed” in America. On a trip to Cuba, federal law enforcement officials said in legal filings, Myers found a new inspiration: the communist revolution.

Read the whole thing.

14 Mar 2009

Russian General: Russian Strategic Bombers Offered Bases in Venezuela & Cuba

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So much for that “reset relations” button that Hillary delivered to the leaders of the Kremlin.

The Russians have an almost 50 year old tradition of testing democrat wimp presidents. John F. Kennedy conspicuously failed that test in 1962 when he abandoned the Monroe Doctrine, and traded US missiles in Turkey and a promise to leave Castro in place for Russian removal of missiles from Cuba and an ersatz public victory.

Now it very well may be Barack Obama’s turn.

Reuters:

A Russian general said on Saturday Venezuela has offered the use of its La Orchila island airfield for Russian strategic bombers on long-range flights.

Russia has been keen to build relations with a rival to the United States in the Western hemisphere in an effort to counter U.S. influence in formerly Communist countries in eastern Europe and central Asia.

“If certain political decisions are taken, it is possible (for Russian bombers to use the base),” Interfax news agency quoted the head of Russian strategic aviation general-major Anatoly Zhikharev as saying.

Zhikharev also said Russian bombers would be prepared to use four or five airfields on Cuba if the political leadership of the two countries allowed the use of Cuban bases.

Two Russian long-range bombers flew to Venezuela last year in a visit designed to show off Moscow’s military strength and build ties with a foe of the United States.

06 Jan 2009

Allegedly Seen From Key West on New Year’s Eve

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Photo and video described as having been shot at Key West at Sunset, New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2008. It certainly looks like a missile. via Coast to Coast.

No official comments or MSM reports so far.

7:09 video

24 Jul 2006

Cuba Drills For Oil 60 miles From Florida Coast

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American oil companies are not permitted to hunt for oil on the continental shelf adjacent to the Florida coast, but Canadian companies are already pumping 19,000 barrels a day 90 miles from Key West, and Communist Cuba is now exploring for oil even closer, aided by Canada, Spain, and China.

Washington Times

03 Jun 2006

The Lost City, Revisited

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The Lost City (2006)

My wife finally had a chance to see Andy Garcia’s new film The Lost City, and Karen complained to me today that she could not understand why so excellent, and unusual, a film (one that actually tells the truth about Communism) is not receiving greater attention and support from the right side of the media and the Blogosphere.

I reviewed it with discretion myself, not wanting to give away all the details of the plot, since I expected many readers would not yet have seen the film. I have, however, promised Karen that I would supply some links providing more commentary and appreciation.

Humberto Fontova, Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia’s ‘The Lost City’

Ninoska Pérez Castellón, The Havana of my dreams was a city of lights.

Kathry Jean Lopes, Don’t Let This Movie Get Lost.

And, last but not least: Marc Masferrer, “Son-of-a-bitch, fucking communists.” (I normally avoid certain kinds of language here, but in this case, these are technical terms.)

Earlier posting here.

Trailer

30 May 2006

The Lost City

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The Lost City (2006)

Andy Garcia’s independent film The Lost City officially opened April 28th, but is only gradually beginning to show up on the screens of suburban art theatres.

Made with a budget of only ten million dollars, TLC was a personal labor of love begun by Garcia more than twenty years ago, in 1983, which arose from an idea of portraying pre-Castro Havana as a kind of Casablanca.

The protagonist (played by Garcia himself), “Fico” Fellove, is a member of the younger generation of an upper-class Cuban family. His father, Don Federico Fellove, is a humanist professor at Havana University. His uncle, Donoso Fellove, manages the family tobacco plantation and produces cigars. Fico is an apolitical man-about-town, content to preside amiably over his popular nightclub, El Tropico, passionate only about the music and dance of his native Cuba.

Fico admires Aurora (played by Spanish supermodel Inés Sastre), the beautiful wife of Luis, his liberal idealist brother (who is actively engaged in a conspiracy of patriots to topple the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista), and serves as her friend and confidante. But family is the most important thing to Fico, and he is devoted to both his brothers, even to Ricardo, the self-righteous and fanatical radical leftist.

The Fellove family’s pleasant way of life is soon, of course, destroyed by Revolution. TLC combines the story of the family’s unhappy fate with a lyrical portrait of a Lost City, a lost country, a lost way of life. Garcia delivers both a remarkable performance and a very moving film.

——————

History of the project.

18 May 2006

Columbia Honors Cuban Dissident

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Oswaldo Payá

Columbia University, at its 2006 Commencement held yesterday, awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, organiser of the Varela Project, a Christian non-violent movement seeking the liberation of Cuba.

Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger mentioned Castro’s refusal to allow Osvaldo Payá to travel to New York to receive the award, and read the citation:

I am supposed to have the duty of presenting Oswaldo Payá, to whom the Trustees have awarded an honorary doctor of laws. Unfortunately, his chair here is empty. Mr. Payá could not join us on this occasion because the Government of Cuba has not granted him an exit visa to be here. We were prepared to confer the degree, but Mr. Payá has written us to ask that Columbia’s leadership allow him to receive the degree in person when he is free to travel. We all look forward to that day. For the present, this is what we would have read to you about him:

Engineer, journalist, activist, tireless campaigner for human rights and advocate for the people of Cuba, you represent the aspirations of millions around the world yearning for freedom and democracy. Based on the Cuban constitution itself, your Varela Project—a peaceful civic initiative to gather signatures across Cuba for the establishment of a free and democratic citizenry — is a model of civic activism. At great personal sacrifice and despite nearly constant surveillance and harassment, you have remained committed to nonviolent dissidence and political change. You embody a life of principle in practice and we are proud to celebrate your extraordinary dedication to peaceful, democratic values by conferring on you the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa.

09 May 2006

Like Calling To Like

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Iranian mullahs in the city of Qum have invited Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to convert to Islam.

Why not? His Communism was only ever an opportunistic justification for him to operate as a brigand. And he’s already got the beard.

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