Friday, November 16, 2007

Tito Kayak Strikes Again

Tito Kayak, known by his mother as Alberto De Jesus Mercado, once again made news this week, as the local hero of the Puerto Rican environmental movement and general social activist once again climbed the construction cranes at the Paseo Caribe project in San Juan, PR. This time, local law enforcement were ordered like goons of the mafia to take him down and arrest him.

In a daring escape watched live by many on television, Tito managed to rappel down from the crane and unto a red kayak in the water below while police officers were kept at bay by his supporters. Tito Kayak then rowed himself under a bridge whose clearance was too low for the police powerboats and somehow managed to switch out of the kayak, so when the kayak was apprehended it wasn't him on board. Instead he was swimming across to the other shore. When he was spotted by the police helicopters, other supporters jumped into the water confusing the police further and finally guaranteeing his getaway. This would have made a great scene in a movie, but until his life story makes its way to the theaters you can watch video of his escape here.

Update: Tito Kayak turned himself into the authorities yesterday

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dave Chappelle Stand Up In London

"My mother is half white, how 'bout that? I'm what you call the "new Americans" cause my dad is all Black and my mom is half white, which makes me the seventy-five percenter. That's right, that's the new Americans. And my wife is Philipino, and so my kids is Puerto Ricans somehow." -Dave Chappelle

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

184 Countries call for end of Cuban Embargo

184 Countries call for end of Cuban Embargo

For 15 years, every year, the United Nations General Assembly has voted on the issue of the Cuban Embargo imposed unilaterally by the United States. This year's vote was no different with 184 countries calling the embargo an illegal act that must come to an end.

Voting for the measure has become a tradition at the United Nations where Cuban and American dignitaries trade barbs like in a game of ping pong. This year was no different with the US calling for democracy in Cuba and Cuba calling out the hypocrisy of American policies around the world. The vote carried only one abstention and four votes against. Micronesia abstained, while the United States, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Israel voted against lifting the embargo.

The vote also reminds us of the innate inequalities present in the United nations as a democratic body. When 184 countries, which include Russia, China, and EU members, are unable change such an obvious act of imperialism as is the embargo, there is no more proof needed to say that the United nations must be changed. However that change must come from the bottom not from the top.

Calls for reform are now being fielded by the Secretary General, but only that one proposed by the United States is being given any attention or hopes for ratification.

The Non-Aligned Movement must step forward and reclaim its sovereignty, by first withdrawing from the UN as a form of protest until the General Assembly is given the right to veto the Security Council, as any congress or parliament gets to veto its executive. Only then will a palpable change come to the affairs of the world. And if the United States is truly interested in democracy it must allow this change to occur.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

U.S. Virgin Islands set to begin 5th Constitutional Convention: Puerto Rico should pay attention

U.S. Virgin Islands set to begin 5th Constitutional Convention: Puerto Rico should pay attention

[Analysis by Michael A. Deliz]

Today, Monday, October 29, 2007 at 10am the elected delegates to the US Virgin Islands Constitutional convention will begin meetings to draft the territory's constitution. The convention now in its fifth incarnation is required to conclude a completed draft by October 2008, which ultimately leads to a popular plebiscite to be approved by the people of the Virgin Islands. But first it must pass through the imperial filters.

The Constitutional Process

Once the delegates, which have already been selected by popular vote, draft a constitution the document is sent to the territory's governor. The governor then has ten days to deliver it to President Bush. The President will then add his own comments and suggestions (because we all know he is an expert on the needs of the people of the Virgin Islands), and then he forwards it to the US Congress (another bunch of experts!). Once Congress receives it, they have 60 days to review, modify, and approve the constitution which will then be sent back to the Virgin Islands for the constitutional plebiscite.

Essentially the people of the Virgin Islands are going to vote on whether or not to adopt the constitution the US Congress feels is best for them. This is what passes for Democracy in the colonized Caribbean.

Impact on Puerto Rico
For Puerto Rico, this is a process that should be carefully watched as the newly redrafted HR900, or "Proyecto 900" as it is known in the island, begins its process in the halls of Congress. Unlike previous status bills, this one calls for a similar process requiring a Constitutional Assembly to chart the island's future, or possibly find itself decades later still trying to come up with a constitution that pleases both the people and the US Congress like it has happened in the Virgin Islands since the 1960s.

Back in the 1980s, the last time the Virgin Islands went through this process, when the constitution came up for a vote, many voted it down due to differences in opinion regarding what a Virgin Islander is and is not as defined by the document, many simply boycotted the process and failed to vote altogether.

The "Proyecto 900" is different as it begins with a plebiscite to first decide whether the people want a change in status or not. The immediate consequence of that will be the sidelining of the island's Partido Popular Democratico which has traditionally called to maintain the status quo. The PPD, however as of late has been pushing for greater sovereignty as an Associated States, the same basic status as the Northern Mariana Islands. If the PPD sticks to this then that first plebiscite will result in the affirmative to change the island's status.

After that no one really knows what may happen. The statehood party is confident that under those circumstances the people will elect delegates that will opt for statehood. But the Partido Nuevo Progresista, seems to have forgotten one minor detail in their run for power. No one has asked the United States if they want Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the union.

That seemingly preliminary step is one the PNP hopes to deal with once they get a consensus, by whatever means, that Puerto Rico wants to be a state. The plan seems to be that if the people of Puerto Rico choose statehood they can then turn the issue into a Civil Rights fight against disenfranchisement of a minority group. Under those terms it might be easier to appeal to American sensibilities.

In the mean time the United States gets to proclaim that it is doing everything necessary to help the people of Puerto Rico in this process. In truth the US Congress is betting that the Constitutional Assembly will get bogged down into the political quagmire that is Puerto Rico, and leave the island's status as is, while being able to point to the incompetence of the Puerto Rican elite and masses at determining their own future, which is how they see the Virgin Islands.

In other words the Constitutional Assembly prescribed in HR 900 will be nothing more than a black hole of political wrangling. There are really only two alternatives to ending this impasse; either the United States unilaterally declares that it will give Puerto Rico its independence or begin the statehood process, or the island's governor unilaterally declares independence. Anything short of that will only result in a decades long fight that will be relived by every generation to come until either Puerto Rico sinks into the ocean, or the American empire crumbles. If anyone doubts that, go talk to a Virgin Islander.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New York Times: Dominicans in NYC

NY Times Profiles the Dominican Community in NYC.......

NY Times


October 28, 2007
Weekend in New York | Dominican Culture
Uptown in the Caribbean
NEW YORK doesn't look like the Caribbean, and this time of year it
doesn't feel much like it either. But decades of immigration have
brought an undeniable Caribbean undercurrent to the city. And no
country has sent more of its rhythm or soul here in recent decades
than the Dominican Republic. Dominicans number somewhere north of
600,000 in the five boroughs, and you can experience much more of
their culture in a weekend here than you would in a month in an all-
inclusive island resort.

There are streaks of Dominican culture everywhere: It's a Dominican
Thing, a Chelsea restaurant, won a glowing review from The Times in
2005. The Brooklyn Museum's current exhibition on the
Caribbean, "Infinite Island," features work by a half-dozen
Dominican artists. And Presidente beer, a Dominican import, has
moved from uptown bodegas to downtown bars.

But the heart of the community crowds the neighborhoods of Inwood
and Washington Heights in the narrowing northern tip of Manhattan.
Land right in the center of the action with a trip to 181st Street
on the No. 1 train, a ride that will seem even faster if you're
reading the Dominican-American author Junot Díaz's novel, "The Brief
Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which Michiko Kakutani, The Times's
chief book critic, recently described as "an extraordinarily vibrant
book that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose."

When you emerge from the train, you'll find some big changes from
wherever you got on: domino games dot the sidewalks; car stereos
demonstrate the Doppler effect with reggaetón and bachata music; the
price of plantains nose dives. And everything seems to be done a bit
louder (and with a little more laughter).

Before you even enter a restaurant, you could fill up on street
vendors' fried empanadas stuffed with meat or cheese, water coconuts
hacked open with a machete, or the ultra-Dominican sweet bean soup
known as habichuelas con dulce.

The people's choice for best habichuelas con dulce is sold on St.
Nicholas Avenue between 181st and 182nd, right near the train exit.
You'll probably find a woman nicknamed Pájaro Loco (Woody
Woodpecker) in her cart, intently ladling the thick soup, studded
with root vegetables, for a line of customers. Some bring their cars
right up to the drive-through window. (O.K., it's just the back of
the cart.)

Also good for snacking are treats found at the Dominican bakeries
dotting the area, from the unbeatable and unbeatably cheap $1 café
con leche at Kenny Bakery in Inwood to the grilled cheese at the
ever-expanding Doña Carmen's on Broadway to the baked goods at El
Panadero not far from Pájaro Loco's stand. (Ask the staff about the
rugalach — they've been known to claim it as a Dominican invention.)

For restaurants, the old-school standard bearer is El Malecón, known
for its irresistible rotisserie chickens spinning in the window 24
hours a day. They go through so many birds that if there is ever a
national egg shortage, we'll know who's to blame. For seafood and
atmosphere, there's the pricier Rancho Jubilee, whose dining room is
decked out in rural Dominican style, with squeaky chairs, rustic
tables, banana bunches and the like.

But the real excitement is at new spots that have caught on with a
diverse upscale crowd.

Mamajuana, probably the most popular new place, draws many from the
Dominican-American second generation. Similar to some other
newfangled uptown restaurants, the menu (and live guitar music at
brunch) is more Spanish than Dominican (paella, Serrano ham,
Manchego cheese), but for dessert, there's crème brûlée made with
majarete, a Dominican corn pudding. And at 809 Sangria Bar and
Grill, the swank spot named after the main area code of the
Dominican Republic, the menu includes mashed green plantains fried
into little cups and filled with seafood.

And of course, there is music. Old-school merengue halls of yore
(i.e., the late '90s) are largely gone, replaced by modern, hip
clubs where the music ranges from American hip-hop and Puerto Rican
reggaetón to more traditionally tropical merengue and bachata. One
nexus is on 10th Avenue in Inwood, isolated by day but booming after
midnight as Umbrella and Ambaroom go head to head across 202nd
Street. For a more intimate spot, try tiny Arka Lounge, the original
uptown lounge.

Beyond food and the club scene, if you're a Spanish speaker, stop by
Librería Caliope, the Dominican bookstore and neighborhood
intellectual hub. And check out what's going on at public colleges
like Lehman and Hostos in the Bronx (where you'll also find huge
Dominican communities). For example, this coming Saturday, the old-
time Dominican singers Victor Victor and Sonia Silvestre, both known
for their bachata, perform at Lehman. It's an introduction to
Dominican music for nonclubgoers.

And don't forget to get a souvenir: Brugal rum, the same stuff they
give you when you get off the plane in Santo Domingo. Take home a
bottle, often sold in a festive yellow fishnet sack, and enjoy it
with ice and a splash of Coke under your local palm tree. Or next to
your local radiator, as the case may be.



El Malecón, 4141 Broadway; (212) 927-3812.

Mamajuana, 247 Dyckman Street; (212) 304-0140.

809 Sangria Bar and Grill, 112 Dyckman Street; (212) 304-3800.

Rancho Jubilee, 1 Nagle Avenue; (212) 304-0100.


Kenny Bakery, 126 Dyckman Street; (212) 569-8414.

Doña Carmen, 4476 Broadway; (212) 942-4102.

El Panadero, 1380 St. Nicholas Avenue; (212) 923-6610.


Umbrella, 440 West 202nd Street; (212) 942-5921.

Ambaroom, 3795 10th Avenue; (212) 304-8611.

Arka Lounge, 4488 Broadway; (212) 567-9425.


Librería Caliope, 170 Dyckman Street; (212) 567-3511.


Lehman Center;

Hostos Community College;

Sunday, October 28, 2007

C-Walk hits Bulgaria....

Talk bout a global we got kids c-walkin in Bulgaria to Dipset. It's clear that Hip Hop is a globalized commodity, but what are the cultural implications of transporting gang culture/affiliation (one could argue that C-walkin is more hip hop now than anything else) to white kids in South East Europe? I wonder when Soulja Boy will hit Europe......

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Castro Responds to Bush....

So Bush has been making plans for the take over of Cuba once Fidel passes. He is making it clear that he will not allow the transfer of power from Fidel to his brother Raul. Fidel, on the other hand, is calling Bush on his BS and not letting Cuba be bullied by the U.S.. Fidel puts it best when he says "Sovereignty is non-negotiable"

Just as a sidenote, Fidel has already said that if anything goes down in Cuba (i.e. the U.S. trying to invade), EVERY Cuban citizen is guaranteed an automatic weapon. Needless to say, Fidel aint playin around.

A Message from Fidel to Bush

BUSH is obsessed with Cuba. Yesterday, the news was received that a White House spokesman announced the president would present new initiatives for the transition period now begun. Another spokesman from the State Department later confirmed the statement, reiterating Bush’s demanding and threatening tone.

As affirmed by Ricardo Alarcón, the president of our National Assembly, a comrade who is well-informed about Bush’s scheming and intentions, after that would come the firing squads of the Cuban-American mafia, with permission to kill everyone suspected of being a faithful member of the Party, the Youth or the mass organizations.

Mr. Bush: Your genocidal blockade, your support for terrorism, your murderous Cuban Adjustment Act, your wet-foot/dry-foot policy, your protection of the worst terrorists in this hemisphere, your unjust punishment of the five Cuban heroes who exposed the danger posed to U.S. citizens and those of other countries of dying in mid-flight, must all end.

Sovereignty is non-negotiable.

Likewise, the shameful torture being carried out in the occupied territory of Guantánamo must also end.

We were never intimidated by your threats of preemptive and surprise attacks on the 60 or more dark corners of the Earth. The outcome of that has now been seen in a single country: Iraq.

Do not attack others; do not threaten humanity with a nuclear war. The peoples will defend themselves, and all would perish in that inferno.

Thank you for your attention.

Fidel Castro Ruz

October 21, 2007

Time: 6:12 a.m
Original Spanish version-

HR900 & Puerto Rico's Future Status....

Here we go again....let's hope we can finally put an end to this colonial relationship & move towards Independence

Updates & Commentary to Come...

From the Serrano Report (his constituent newsletter) October 26, 2007

Serrano's Puerto Rico Bill Passes Out of Committee
Congressman Serrano’s bill to finally resolve Puerto Rico’s status, H.R. 900, was considered by the House Committee on Natural Resources this week—and won passage after several amendments.

Serrano was pleased with the markup and congratulated the members of the Committee on Natural Resources for taking this vital first step in resolving Puerto Rico’s status once and for all. The bill would have the U.S. government ask the people of Puerto Rico a simple question: Do you support the present status or would you like to change the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States? With the answer to this question, interested parties can begin meaningful negotiations about the future of the relationship between the U.S. and the island.

“There have been many criticisms of my bill from people who oppose change. I worked closely with Mr. Rahall and Mr. Fortuño to craft a compromise bill addressing the concerns of the other side. Unfortunately, their stance seemed to be that there was no concession big enough that would make my bill worthy of their support. I am saddened by this position, because I genuinely believe that we need dialogue and compromise between the two sides to eventually end this colonial relationship—a relationship that no one supports in its current form.

“The Puerto Rican people deserve leaders who will tell them the truth, and lead them into a better future. It is time that we all admit that the colonial relationship with the U.S. and the subjugation that it brings have divided us against one another.

“If we are to move toward a better, empowered future for Puerto Ricans, we must stop the infighting, and work together to solve our status problem. Until that is done, we will never move beyond it. Our heritage, our pride, and our history all call us to do what we need to do to move our people to a bright future.”

The next step for the bill would be a vote on the House floor, although this step has not been scheduled.

Convo wit Castro

Castro Spittin' Truth....

Conversations with Castro
Aged 81, the world's longest-serving leader is turning his thoughts to his legacy and the succession. In an exclusive extract from his autobiography, Fidel Castro talks to Ignacio Ramonet about vanity and cruelty - and reveals his salary and plans for retirement
Ignacio Ramonet
Saturday October 27, 2007

Those who criticise the revolution blame you entirely - they talk about "Castro's Cuba".
Those people tend to personalise, to make me the representative, as though the people didn't exist. The millions of people who have struggled, who have defended the revolution; the hundreds of thousands of doctors, of professional people; those who farm, produce, study - those people don't exist. All that exists is this evil guy named Castro.
The number of times I have to sign autographs - you can't imagine. When I meet Americans who come here and talk to me ... sometimes there are 50 people at a meeting, they give me a bouquet of flowers or something, and the number of books, cards, things I have to sign, the number of pictures I have to let them take and so many flashbulbs that you can hardly see, it's hardly to be believed. So I guess I'm some kind of strange, unreal figure ...
A star?
Yes, somebody you have to get quick, so you can say, "Look, I got a picture with so-and-so."
But I'm very self-critical. When I say too much or something comes out of my mouth that might sound a little vain, I'm hard on myself, really hard. You have to keep a watch on yourself.
Throughout the years, influence, power, rather than gradually making me conceited, vain and all that ... every day, I think, I'm less conceited, less pretentious, less self-satisfied. It's a struggle against your instincts, you know. I believe that it's education, or sincere and tenacious self-education, that turns a small animal into a man.

How do you think history will judge yo u?

That's something it's not worth worrying about. Napoleon talked about la gloire - he was constantly concerned with glory. Well, in lots of countries today, the name Napoleon is known more for the cognac than for all the things done by the real general and emperor. So I say, why worry?
Have you ever thought about retiring?
We know that time passes and that human energies fade. But I'm going to tell you what I told our compañeros in the national assembly in 2003, when they elected me president of the council of state. I told them: "Now I see that my fate was not to come into the world and rest at the end of my life." And I promised them to be with them, if they wished, as long as necessary - so long as I knew myself to be useful. Not a minute less, or a second more.
Every year, I devote more time to the revolution, I think; I give it more of my attention, because one has more experience, one has meditated more, thought more. Plato said in The Republic that the ideal age for occupying ruling positions is after 55. In my opinion, according to him, that ideal age should be 60. And I imagine that 60 in Plato's day would be somewhere around 80 today ...

How is your health?

Well, I'm fine. Generally speaking, I feel fine; above all, I feel full of energy, I have great enthusiasm for things. I feel quite, quite well both physically and mentally. I'm sure the habi t of e xercise has contributed to that; in my opinion, physical exercise helps not just the muscles, it also helps the mind, because exercise has an effect on blood circulation, on the delivery of oxygen to all the cells, including the brain cells.
In 2005 the CIA announced that you have Parkinson's disease. What comment do you have about that?
It must be a confession of what they haven't been able to do for so long: assassinate me. If I were a vain man, I might even be filled with pride by the fact that those morons now say they'll have to wait until I die. Every day they invite some new story - Castro's got this, Castro's got that. The latest thing they've come up with is that I have Parkinson's. Well, it just doesn 't mat ter if I get Parkinson's. Pope John Paul II had Parkinson's and he travelled all over the world for I don't know how many years.
If for some reason you should die, your brother Raul would be your undisputed successor?
If something happened to me tomorrow, the National Assembly would meet and elect him - there's not the slightest doubt. But he's catching up to me in years, so it's also a generational problem. We've been fortunate that we who made the revolution have brought up three generations. There have always been close ties with young people and students.
I have a great deal of hope, because I see clearly that these people I call the fourth generation are going to have three or four times the knowledge that we in the first generation had.

So you think the baton can be passed on without trouble?
Right now there wouldn't be any problem of any kind, and there won't be later, either. Because the revolution is not based on the cult of personality. It's inconceivable in modern society - people doing things just because they have blind faith in the leader. The revolution is based on principles. And the ideas that we defend have been, for quite some time, ideas shared by the entire nation.

You're a man who's admired, but others accuse you of being a cruel dictator ...
I don't understand why I 'm called a dictator. What is a dictator? It's someone who makes arbitrary, unilateral decisions, who acts over and above institutions, over and above the laws, who is under no restraint but his own desires and whims. And in that case, Pope John Paul II, who always opposed war, could be accused of being a dictator, and President Bush considered the most democratic of rulers. That's the way the industrialised countries in Europe treat him, without realising that Bush can make terrible decisions without consulting the Senate or the House of Representatives, or even his cabinet. Not even the Roman emperors had the power of the president of the United States!
I don't make unilateral decisions. This isn't even a presidential government. We have a council of state, and my functions as leader exist within a collective. I have authority, of course, I have influence, for historical reasons, but I don't give orders or rule by decree.

What about the charge of cruelty?
I really think that a man who has devoted his entire life to fighting injustice, oppression of every kind, to serving others, to fighting for others, to preaching and practising solidarity, I think all of that is totally incompatible with cruelty.
All that propaganda is based on hate and on lies. How can people say that even one man has been tortured in Cuba? Or that I've ordered a man tortured? Here, no one has ever been imprisoned for being a dissident or because they see things differently from the way the revolution does. Our courts sentence people to prison on the basis of laws, and they judge counter-revolutionary acts. Down through history, in all times, actions by people who put themselves at the service of a foreign power against their own nation have always been seen as extremely se rious.
The idea that in Cuba we send people to prison for having a belief that's different from the revolution's is ridiculous. Here, we punish acts, not ideas.

Do you agree that terrorism is the biggest threat to the world today?
Cuba condemned the crime committed on September 11 in no uncertain terms. And we have reiterated our condemnation of terrorism in all its shapes and forms. The US has cynically included Cuba among the countries sponsoring terrorism, but Cuba will never allow its territory to be used for terrorist actions against the people of the US or any other country.
I agree that terrorism is a serious threat to the world today, but I believe humanity is facing other threats of equal or greater se riousn ess: the accelerating destruction of the environment; the deepening of poverty; the lack of health care. To all of which one would have to add the hegemonic designs of the only superpower that aspires to become the ruler of the planet, and its arrogant policy of domination.
In 2005 you declared an "all-out war" on certain problems Cuba was facing - theft from the state, the misappropriation of funds.
That's right. We've invited the entire nation to take part in a great battle against any and all offences, whether petty theft or grand larceny. Because we have several tens of thousands of parasites that don't produce anything yet are getting rich. You should see how deep-rooted some of these vices are, how much pilfering was going on, how people were diverting resources, the w ay thi ngs were being stolen.

Don't you think Cuba's one-party structure is ill-adapted to an increasingly complex society?

In many countries, the classical, traditional electoral system with multiple parties becomes a popularity contest and not, really, a competency contest. People wind up electing the most likable person, the person who communicates best with the masses, even the person who has the most pleasant appearance, the best advertising on television, or in the press or on radio. Or, in the end, and this is practically a rule, the person who has the most money to spend on advertising.
Is there corruption among the Cuban leadership?
It's happened with some officials who were negotiating with powerful foreign businesses, and we've had to take measures. But it's not easy to fix.
As for me, I honestly don't own a thing. I have a few pesos, because after you've paid the amounts that have been in place since the first year of the revolution for each service, which are pretty reasonable, you may have some left over. I'm paid the same salary I always was, and out of that I have to pay the Party dues, so much per cent for housing, you pay that every month ... I lack for nothing, materially speaking. I have what I need. But I don't need much.
My salary, at the exchange rate of 25 pesos per dollar, is $30 a month. But I've been put on that list of the world's richest people twice now. I have no idea why they do it, what they're trying to achieve; it's ridiculous. I don't have a cent of my own. And I'll have the glory of dying without a penny of convertible currency. I've been offered millions to write memoirs and books, but I've never done it.

Castro on ...
It was my own father who gave me my first cigar; I must have been 14 or 15. And I remember that I smoked that first puro, and I didn't know how it was done. Fortunately, I didn't inhale the smoke. Although you always absorb a little of the nicotine, even if you don't inhale at all. I've smoked too much in my life. Until one day, over 20 years ago, I decided to stop. Nobody made me. I just decided to m ake my self stop smoking. I believed that giving up that habit was a necessary sacrifice, for the good of the country's and the people's health.
Listening to people talk so much about the necessity of a collective fight against obesity, the sedentary lifestyle, smoking, I became convinced that the ultimate sacrifice I should make on behalf of public health in Cuba was to quit smoking.
Teach by example. I gave up tobacco, and I've never missed it.

Tony Blair
I saw Blair one time, in Geneva at a meeting of the World Health Organisation.
He had a swagger, he was haughty, as though he were looking down his nose at people. We had a few words - brief but sharp. He had been talking about child labour and I said to h im, "L isten, I saw that you were talking about child labour throughout the world, but I understand that in England there are 2 million children who are working."
I said it very calmly. I think he thought it was a piece of insolence from a nobody, a nit, a third-world know-nothing.

Wearing uniform
More than anything, I wear it for practical reasons, because with the uniform I don't have to put on a tie every day ... It avoids the problem of what suit to wear, what shirt, what socks, so everything goes together. I only put on a suit for very special circumstances, some international conference, or when the Pope came, or a meeting with some head of state.
My usual uniform is very simple. I also have another, more formal uniform that I wear for some occasions, with a shirt and tie.

Carrying a gun
Since those people in the CIA are always thinking things up - assassination attempts and so on - you can imagine that I carry a weapon, and a weapon ready to be used. I have a 15-shot Browning. I've shot a lot in my life. I've always been a good shot - it was just luck - and I still am.

The Third Way
I read Anthony Giddens' book, which contains the theory out of which a rose t he so-called "Third Way". There's nothing of a third way in it - it's the "way" taken by every turncoat in this world. Oh, I could see that it was aimed against the social-security state achieved by the Europeans: fewer resources for the retired, less aid to the unemployed, because [aid] turns [the unemployed] into a bunch of lazy bums - according to this theory - who then won't work, you have to force them in some way. Well, I admit that you have to educate people, but you don't have to force them.

The assassination of JFK
It's all very strange. With the expertise I acquired in sharpshooting, I can't imagine that with a rifle with a telescopic sight such as Lee Harvey Oswald had, you can fire, load and fire ag ain in a matter of seconds. Because when you shoot with a telescopic sight, if the weapon moves a fraction of an inch you lose your target. Firing three times in a row, so accurately, for somebody who almost certainly didn't have much experience - that's very difficult. What the official version says is quite simply not possible - not just like that, bang bang bang.
The other thing that is just incomprehensible to me is that once Oswald was a prisoner, this charitable, noble soul, Jack Ruby, was so consumed with grief that right there in front of the police and the TV cameras he killed Oswald. I don't know if anything like that has ever happened anywhere else.

I'd like to have met Mao. That wasn't possible bec ause o f all those problems and differences that came up because of Sino-Soviet conflict. Among the great political strategists, great military leaders of any era, one would have to include Mao Zedong. I can't forget the posthumous letter from Mao asking China and the USSR to put their rivalries aside and join forces.
This is an edited extract from My Life by Fidel Castro with Ignacio Ramonet, published by Allen Lane on November 1 at £25.

© Ignacio Ramonet and Random House Mondadori, 2006, 2007. Translation © Andrew Hurley 2007. To order a copy for £23 with free UK p&p go to or call 0870 836 0875
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Ecuador wants military base in Miami

Ecuador wants military base in Miami
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:38:57 -0600

Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:38pm BST

By Phil Stewart

NAPLES (Reuters) - Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington
must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to
keep using an air base on Ecuador's Pacific coast.

Correa has refused to renew Washington's lease on the Manta air base, set to
expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics
surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

"We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami
-- an Ecuadorean base," Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy.

"If there's no problem having foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely
the y'll l et us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States."

The U.S. embassy to Ecuador says on its Web site that anti-narcotics flights
from Manta gathered information behind more than 60 percent of illegal drug
seizures on the high seas of the Eastern Pacific last year.

It offers a fact-sheet on the base at:

Correa, a popular leftist economist, had promised to cut off his arm before
extending the lease that ends in 2009 and has called U.S. President George
W. Bush a "dimwit".

But Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, told Reuters he
believed relations with the United States were "excellent" despite the base

He rejected the idea that the episode reflected on U.S. ties at all.

"This is the only North American military base in South America," he sa id.

"So, then the other South American countries don't have good relations with
the United States because they don't have military bases? That doesn't make
any sense."