Why the richest Cuban defector ever still longs for home
March 10 - Every day, Jose
Abreu talks with Daysi Correa. She is why he's here. When he was
thinking of defecting from Cuba – of leaving behind the only place he'd
ever known, the only people who mattered to him, for the glory and
riches of Major League Baseball – his mother offered her blessing. Go,
she said. Chase your dream.
"It's not my dream," Abreu says today. "It's my family's."
He's sitting in front of his locker inside the Chicago White Sox's
opulent facility at Camelback Ranch with coach and translator Lino Diaz,
still, in some ways, mystified that he's here. Life in Cuba does that to
ballplayers. Dreams exist like Snapchat photos. And dreamers? They're
naïve or silly or disrespectful. They're the sort of people who end up
in jail for trying to leave or end up in miserable situations after they
Confronting the treacherous waters between Cuba and the United States,
risking the sort of kidnapping ordeal Leonys Martin allegedly endured,
Abreu never let hope die, and here he is: 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, a
monolith of a man whose powerful right-handed stroke invited a six-year,
$68 million contract from the White Sox, the biggest ever for a Cuban
player. On the heels of Yoenis Cespedes' success and Yasiel Puig's
transcendent rookie season, Abreu came at the perfect time to seize upon
the many millions even the most fantastical dreamer couldn't dream.
The defection, he says, "went smooth. Nothing compared to what others
went through. I feel very, very lucky." The two-day showcase that all 30
teams flew to the Dominican Republic to witness, he says, "are memorable
moments I'll never forget." And landing with the White Sox, a team with
perhaps the richest history in baseball of welcoming Cuban players, "I
have to thank God for that."
There is a sense of humility in the 26-year-old Abreu that his teammates
appreciate. Veteran Adam Dunn will use a translator to look up Spanish
curse words, test them out on Abreu and relish at the chuckles. A friend
from Cuba now living in the United States has helped acclimate Abreu and
his wife, Yusmary, a doctor who defected with him, to the culture here,
to the idea that freedom isn't some wayward privilege for a select few.
In Abreu's fall workout for teams in the Dominican Republic, the White
Sox gleaned that he might be more grounded than other players who have
defected and whose adjustment period to major league life took longer
than most. It was little things. How long he stretched. How he moved
with a purpose. How he was willing to showcase his weaknesses – Abreu
took ground balls at third base, just in case a team wanted to see him
there, and asked for inside pitches during batting practice because they
were a perceived flaw – to show the fullest, most honest portrait of his
These are little things, yes, things that, in truth, matter not in a
see-ball, hit-ball game that judges based on production and little else.
And yet Abreu understood that baseball, right or not, values
professionalism, and he wanted to come off as the most professional sort
Another two people were killed today during protests in Venezuela
boosting the death toll to 20
See more photos of today's
March 7 - A Venezuelan
soldier and a motorcyclist died in a confused melee sparked by the
opposition's barricading of a Caracas street, officials said on
Thursday, boosting the death toll from nearly a month of violence to 20.
Demonstrators have for weeks staged rallies and set up barricades to
demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, leading to clashes
with security forces and government supporters.
Motorcycle drivers clearing a barricade in the middle-class neighborhood
of Los Ruices were attacked by residents from nearby buildings who threw
rocks and later shot at them, National Guard Gen. Manuel Quevedo told
The motorcyclist who was killed, Jose Cantillo, who was in his early
twenties, was shot in the neck, Quevedo said.
"Make no mistake, the National Guard and the armed forces are going to
continue patrolling the streets to restore order," he said in an
interview at the scene of the events.
A second motorcycle driver was wounded and is in critical condition,
President Maduro said in a televised broadcast.
Troops arrived in some 20 armored vehicles and used tear gas to disperse
several hundred demonstrators, Reuters witnesses said.
Residents continued throwing rocks from above, but angry passers-by
threw them back and attempted to force their way into buildings in an
apparent attempt to find the assailants.
The troops used riot shields to shelter other soldiers from the rain of
stones as they knocked down barricades and cleared debris including a
car that demonstrators had burned in the morning, the witnesses said.
Maduro on Wednesday called on pro-government organizations including
groups known as 'colectivos,' which opposition leaders describe as
paramilitary groups, to help keep order in the streets.
The demonstrations began as sporadic protests against chronic product
shortages and inflation that reached 56 percent in 2013, but expanded
into a nationwide movement after three people were killed after a
February 12 march, unleashing the country's worst unrest in a decade.
breaks diplomatic and commercial relations with Panama
March 5 - Venezuelan dictator
announced this evening that Venezuela was breaking diplomatic and
commercial relations with Panama, as a result of that government
petition for the OAS to hold a meeting over the protests against the
Maduro regime and the brutal repression by the Venezuelan National
Maduro also told OAS
Secretary General Miguel Insulza that he would not allow any OAS
observers to enter Venezuela.
Meanwhile, protests and
barricades continue all over the country on this first anniversary of
Hugo Chavez death.
The OAS is
AWOL on Venezuela
March 5 - The
Organization of American States (OAS) sits silent on Venezuela, even as
political unrest, government violence against student demonstrators, and
economic catastrophe threaten to tear that country apart. At long last,
the regional body that years ago was sequestered by Venezuela’s
petro-diplomacy has been bound and gagged.
The “permanent council,” comprised of the region’s ambassadors, was set
to meet last week to review events in Venezuela, at the request of
Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli. The meeting was abruptly
“postponed” after Dominican president Danilo Medina, whose ambassador is
the council’s chairman, followed Venezuela’s instructions to delay his
envoy’s return to OAS headquarters in Washington. The Dominican chairman
arrived only yesterday and will convene the council at the convenience
of the Venezuelan government.
The OAS’s member states made history on the fateful day of September 11,
2001, by adopting the Inter-American Democratic Charter and making the
promotion and defense of democracy one of the organization’s essential
missions. It remains to be seen if it has any relief to offer the people
of Venezuela at this perilous hour.
The OAS is where governments — not people — have their say. And, it
operates by consensus, rarely putting matters to a majority vote. Even
if a significant group of countries were determined to adopt a simple
resolution of concern, such an action would be unthinkable over the
objections of the Venezuelan representative. However, a meeting of the
council would require the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro
to explain its use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, and,
more important, it would give other countries an opportunity to weigh in
on worrisome events in a sister republic.
Ideally, the OAS would afford governments the opportunity to actually do
something about willful violations of the Democratic Charter or human
rights conventions. But, today, the OAS is less than the sum of its
parts. Since the late Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chávez and his acolytes
began to work as a unit in regional fora a decade ago, they have
succeeded in undermining a powerful inter-American consensus for
promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Their goal was
to dismantle regional organizations that have been built by decades of
Does the former coca grower who is Bolivia’s president have any use for
a commission that fights drug trafficking? Does a caudillo waging a
campaign against the independent media in Ecuador have any use for a
special rapporteur on freedom of expression? Does a man who is rigging
the rules in Nicaragua to hold on to power indefinitely have any use for
the separation of powers? Does the regime whose thugs are beating
protesters in Venezuela have any use for the American Declaration of
Human Rights or the Inter-American Democratic Charter? Of course not.
However, these are the men who have hijacked the OAS. Continue reading
InterAmerican Security Watch
arrives in Venezuela in the middle of huge anti-Maduro protests
March 5 -
10:30 AM Page with photos of the barricades in Caracas an other
Venezuelan cities today
9 AM - Even
the Cuban flag is ashamed: It falls to the ground when Raul Castro
arrived in Venezuela (See second 42 of this video).
Raul Castro arrived in Venezuela on Wednesday morning, while the
protests and barricades continue in Caracas and dozens of other cities.
The Cuban dictator, together
with Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and several
others allies of the Maduro regime, were invited for the commemoration
of the first anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez.
According to reports on
Twitter, most roads leading to the Venezuelan capital have been blocked,
to prevent buses with government workers to arrive in time for the
Raul Castro 'reforms': Political arrests top 1,000 in February
March 3 -
Politically motivated arrests in Cuba topped 1,000 for a third straight
month in February as the result of wider public demonstrations against
the one-party state, a leading human rights organization said on Monday.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said
arrests in the past three months have nearly doubled from the monthly
averages of the previous two years.
The commission reported 1,051 arrests in February that it considered
arbitrary and politically motivated, although all the people jailed were
released, usually within a few hours.
The February number was similar to the 1,052 reported in January and
down from 1,123 in December.
Reuters could not independently verify the numbers, which the
commission's president, Elizardo Sanchez, said were based on first-hand
reports from activists around the island. The commission excludes any
arrest report that it cannot verify, Sanchez said.
The Cuban government says the commission is illegal and
counterrevolutionary, and normally does not respond to its monthly
It generally considers dissident groups to be in the pay of the United
States as part of the 55 years of hostility between the two countries
since Fidel Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution.
A Reuters request for government comment was not immediately answered on
The commission said the December number was the highest on record since
March 2012, when Pope Benedict visited Cuba. It has been keeping records
since 2010, and says the arrests rise when there are international
events in Cuba, such as a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders
in late January.
The numbers have stayed high largely because a growing number of
citizens now publicly oppose the communist government, Sanchez said.
The report details each case by name, date and reason for the arrest,
with many detentions coming before, during or after organizing meetings
or public protests. Other dissenters were held on their way to or from
church, the report said.
"There are more demonstrations of the people's discontent," Sanchez said
in telephone interview from Spain, where he is meeting with human rights
activists from Cuba and other countries.
Human rights groups say Cuba in recent years has avoided jailing
dissidents for lengthy periods, instead choosing to detain them for
several hours or days.
As a result, estimates of the number of political prisoners are in the
single digits, compared with numbers in the thousands decades ago.
Amnesty International reported seven new prisoners of conscience in
2013, of whom three were released without charge.
to raise pay of the slave doctors working in Brazil
March 1 - From
Wall Street Journal
Cuba's government has agreed
to give its doctors working in Brazil a modest pay increase, which may
help ease some criticism over a controversial Brazilian government
program to expand health care.
Over the last year, Brazil has recruited thousands of foreign doctors
for its Mais Medicos program designed to send doctors into rural areas
or poorer parts of major cities where there is little or no medical
service. A vast majority of the doctors come from Cuba, under an
agreement coordinated by the Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO.
Brazil says it pays all the foreign doctors in the program a salary of
10,400 reais ($4,430) a month. In the case of the Cubans, the money is
paid through PAHO to the Cuban government, which then passes on a much
smaller amount to the doctors.
Under the new deal Cuban doctors will be paid $1,245 a month, up from
$1,000 previously, according to the Brazilian health ministry. Moreover,
the Cuban doctors will receive all of that amount in Brazil. Before, the
Cuban government deposited $600 into an account in Cuba, according to
the health ministry.
There are currently 6,650 doctors working under the Mais Medicos
program, and the Brazilian government aims to reach 13,000 by April,
which it says would help some 45 million people--nearly one quarter of
At least two Cuban doctors have defected from the controversial program
since it began last year. One of those, Ramona Matos Rodríguez, had
blamed the high cost of living in Brazil for her decision to seek a visa
to work in the U.S.
Unloads on Dem Senator for Praising Cuban Communism
Feb. 27 - Upon returning from
a trip to Cuba, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) appeared on the floor of the U.S.
Senate and delivered a speech praising the Cuban government for what he
called their advanced health care system and socialized education
system. Upon hearing this speech, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) responded with
a blistering attack on Cuba’s repressive government and his colleague’s
credulous acceptance that tyrannical government’s pronouncements.
Rubio began by noting that a variety of the statistics Cuba purports to
show that it is an advanced state when it comes to health services are
massaged. “I heard him also talk about these great doctors that they
have in Cuba,” Rubio said of his Iowa colleague. “I have no doubt
they’re very talented. I’ve met a bunch of them. You know where I met
them? In the United States, because they defected. Because in Cuba
doctors would rather drive a taxi cab or work in a hotel than be a
Rubio added that Harkin recalled how people in the streets in Cuba had
nothing negative to say about the United States. He noted that this
contradicts the logic for lifting the embargo, opponents of which say
that it is used by the Castros to foment anger against the U.S.
Rubio also noted that an American in a “hostage” in Cuba for handing out
satellite radios to Jewish Cubans, contradicting testimony of how well
that American was being treated by Harkin’s delegation.
“What they are really good at is repression,” Rubio continued “They have
exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”
Rubio went on to discuss the violence being carried out against
anti-government demonstrators in Venezuela and asserted that this
violence was being carried out by a government propped up by Cuba. “But
you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a
serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in
Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet?” the senator asked of
his Democratic colleagues. “On issue after issue, they are always on the
side of the tyrants.”
Russian Warship Docks in Cuba Without Warning
Feb. 27 - A Russian warship
docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Cuba or the Russian
Cuban state media was also silent on the mysterious arrival of the
Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring about 300 feet long and 47 feet
wide. According to French news agency Agence France-Presse, the ship
docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian
ship is packed with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry,
including AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles,
according to the Daily Mail.
Also often referred to as a Vishnya-class ship, the vessel boasts a crew
of around 200, and went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it
was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media
The warship’s arrival hearkens to a time when the former Soviet Union
was communist Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of the Cold
War. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin created distance between the
two countries for a time, but more recently the two countries have
renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.
Havana is a little more than
100 miles off the coast of Florida.
“We are aware that a Russian naval vessel has docked in Havana … We
recognize the rights of all sovereign nations to freely navigate in
international waters and to port in the countries they have agreements
with,” a Defense Department Official told TheBlaze.
When asked when the DoD knew the ship was in close range of the United
States, the official told TheBlaze, “For operational security reasons,
we will not discuss the specifics relating to our maritime domain
Lopez speaks to the people from top of José Martí's statue in Caracas
Feb. 18 - "I am not going
anywhere, I am staying in Venezuela!", said López, before allowing
National Guards to arrest him.
tsunami invades Caracas
Feb. 18 - All efforts by the
Venezuelan dictatorship to stop today's protest failed.
This is Caracas' Francisco de
Miranda Avenue at 11 AM this morning
the day: Venezuelan protesters stop armored vehicle with their bare
Feb. 18 -
Thousands of police and National Guards have circled a park in Caracas
where an opposition march was supposed to begin on Tuesday.
Soldiers backed by armored
vehicles are blocking citizens from joining the protest. In this photo,
several men are blocking an armored vehicle from reaching the area where
the protesters are assembling.
protest in Holguín
Jan. 21 - My translation of
an article from Cubanet.org:
"Approximately 1,000 persons
joined in a protest by self employed people who marched toward the
provincial government headquarters on Tuesday morning in the city of
Holguín in Eastern Cuba.
It all started when about 100
self employed persons known a "cuentapropistas" began protesting on
According to Zuleidy Pérez
Velázquez, an activist with Cuba Independiente y Democrática (CID), it
all started when about one hundred "cuentapropistas" began protesting
against recent government ordinances that prohibit selling their
products even though the government had previously issued them licenses.
The protesters were joined by
hundreds of citizens and that caused Cuba's repressive State Security
agents to intervene, many of whom were dressed as civilians adding to
The activist stressed that it
was not a protest organized by dissident groups, but by the people
themselves who spontaneously took to the streets with Cuban flags.
Around noon, the protest
seemed to calm down when government officials allowed several protesters
to come inside the provincial headquarters of the National Assembly to
meet with officials." Read the complete article at
police is now also arresting the children of the Ladies in White
Jan. 11 - Video taken in
Holguín on January 3, 2014:
Cuba: Activists delivering copies of the Web Paqs to friends and
Jan. 7 - These photos show
activists of the Instituto Cubano por la Libertad de Expresión (ICLEP),
giving copies of the Web Paqs for Cuba to their neighbors and friends,
together with printed copies of their publications Redecilla and
On January 1 in Santiago de
Cuba, Raúl Castro dedicated part of his speech to complain about a
campaign to allow youth in Cuba to have access to the Internet that is
blocked by his regime.
Now we know why Raúl is so
worried. It is very hard for him to block projects like Web Paqs for
Cuba, that provide offline access to more than 55 websites with news and
information about Cuba and the world.
You can learn more about Web
Paqs for Cuba visiting our page:
End Internet Blockade
that brainwashing doesn't work?
Dec. 7 - Elian González after
14 years of brainwashing: "Fidel Castro for me is like a father. I
don't profess to have any religion but if I did my god would be Fidel
Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path"
Ladies in White protest in Havana and stopped from marching in Holguín
Dec. 3 - Video of a protest
by the Ladies in White on Sunday December 1 at Parque Gandhi in Havana
and an attempt to march in Holguin, but were stopped by Castro's police
is brutally attacked by Castro's police for expressing her opinions
Nov. 4 - Anonymous Venezuela
has a warning: This is the future of Venezuela unless they get rid of
Maduro and the other puppets under the control of the Castro brothers.
Sáncez's presentation at Google Ideas Summit
October 26 - Yoani Sánchez
explains how Internet without Internet is used by Cubans inside the
Learn how you can help
promote Internet without Internet in Cuba:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter:
@WebPaqsforCuba On Facebook:
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Sanchez: Why Cuba needs a monument to the thumb drive
Oct. 21 - Most Cubans remain
cut off from the Internet but are still using creative ways to access
and spread information online, a dissident blogger told journalists from
around the Americas Sunday.
Yoani Sanchez gave a largely grim report of the state of the press in
Cuba at a meeting of the Inter American Press Association in Denver. She
said President Raul Castro's regime has been aggressive in arresting and
beating people who speak out against the government and has failed to
document those actions, as his brother Fidel did. However, she said
neither is better than the other.
"They play the good and the bad policeman but in the end they are two
policemen," she said to applause.
While over 200 Internet cafes opened on the island nation this year, she
said the cost of using the slow and censored service for just an hour is
about $5 -- about a third of the average Cuban's monthly salary.
Despite that, she said people are sharing information on thumb drives
and can use their cellphones to text and post messages to Twitter
blindly, which she compared to sending a message in a bottle since she
doesn't know who is reading what she wrote. She joked that when Cuba is
free, the country will have to build a monument to the thumb drive,
which she said has done more to help the country than many of the people
now honoured by statues there.
Sanchez said those and other methods of "extreme creativity" to deal
with limited Internet access aren't surprising in a nation where people
were forced to come up with a way to make the spicy ground beef dish
picadillo without meat.
"We do the same with information," she said.
Learn about a new
technology that allows Cubans in Cuba have access to websites banned by
the Castro regime and how you can help:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter:
@WebPaqsforCuba On Facebook:
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
another act of repudiation against members of UNPACU
Oct. 9 - This took place in
Cardenas on Sunday October 6, 2013
to see the video
Cuban authorities are worried about web paqs circulating inside Cuba
Sept. 13 - Tweet from Yoani
"Authorities worried because
of "packages" or "combos" with a collection of audiovisuals in the black
As I have said before,
projects like Web Paqs for Cuba are the best way to bypass the
blockade at the Internet, put in place by the Castro dictatorship to
prevent Cubans in the island from knowing what's happening inside Cuba
and in the rest of the world.
You can learn more about Web
Paqs for Cuba and how you can get involved in this project at
La Singularidad Cuba (Español)
The Real Cuba
(English) Twitter and
at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, Luyanó, Havana, Cuba
July 8 - Video taken in April
of this year at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, one of the hospitals for
Cubans who do not have hard currency to pay the Castro brothers.
Very different from the
hospital where they took Micahel Moore and the hospitals that are used
by foreigners who pay with dollars.
Click here to see the video
video shows Bahamian guards brutally abusing Cuban rafters
June 15 - June 15 - This
clandestine video taking inside a Bahamian jail, shows a guard kicking
and insulting Cuban rafters who were trying to reach the United States
and ended up in the Bahamas.
There should be a tourism boycott of the Bahamas, unless the Bahamian
government orders the arrest and prosecution of this brutal thug and
stops abusing Cuban rafters who are risking their lives in search for
Click here to see the video
Yoani Sánchez about the Web Paqs for Cuba project
about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Visit our page about
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
You can also visit us on
Facebook to find all information about the Internet Web Paqs for Cuba, a
project to help the Cuban people have access to the websites that are
blocked by the Cuban regime.
Make sure to click on 'Like"
as a sign of support
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
daily ABC has an article about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare
Foto de la
versión impresa del reportaje en ABC
March 17 - On Thursday of
last week, Carmen Muñoz a columnist for Spanish daily ABC, called me to
ask for permission to use the photos at therealcuba.com for an article
about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare.
I was able to send her many
of the photos on high resolution to use on the print edition of the
The article was published on
Sunday on ABC and is also on their web page at
Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Our new page:
Fidel Castro, the
World's oldest terrorist
My interview with
March 29 - I was interviewed by Ed Kasputis, of Baseball PhD, about
baseball in Cuba before Castro and about the two Cubas, the one for
foreigners and the one for regular Cubans.
Ed did a previous program with Mr. Sports Travel of San Diego, CA, about
the five top international baseball destinations and was surprised to
find out that the #1 destination was Cuba.
He received some nice pictures of Cuba and was ready to book a trip when
he saw therealcuba.com and changed his mind.
He interviewed me as part of a program about the new Marlins Stadium and
I was able to talk about baseball in Cuba before Castro and then we had
a long chat about what is the reality of life in Cuba under Castro.
The program lasts 53 minutes, if you are not a baseball fan and just
want to hear my interview about Cuba use your mouse to move the dial to
here to listen
Listen to Fidel Castro
For those who think that the Cuban people chose the system imposed by
the Castro brothers, here are some of the things that Fidel Castro said
and promised when he gained power
photos of Cuba's prisons, missile installations, military bases and
A look at
Havana before the Castro brothers destroyed it
We have new photos of
Havana taken in October of last year
Oct. 9 - A friend sent me around two dozen photos of Havana that he took
at the beginning of this month.
Some of them are very sad, because they show how Havana has been
completely destroyed by this gang of human termites.
Some others are hard to believe, including this one of goats having
"lunch" off the dumpsters on a Havana street.
to see them
Socio-Economic Conditions in Pre-Castro
Dec. 17 - Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct
fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political
structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business,
foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular
basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff at the University of Miami.
Click here to learn the truth about Cuba's Health, Education,
Personal Consumption and much more in pre-Castro Cuba.
More photos showing how the Castro brothers
have destroyed one of the world's most beautiful cities
Have visited this page