Rihanna and Mick Jagger party as gold-rush mood grips Havana

[Big predators with deep pockets and smiling faces are crowding in……. — Frontlines ed.]

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press , October 18, 2015

Tourists sit in the popular O'Reilly 304 Bar in Old  Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13.  Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings.

Tourists sit in the popular O’Reilly 304 Bar in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13. Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings. The Associated Press

HAVANA — By midnight, the basement of one of Havana’s hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba’s biggest pop stars.

Squeezed among the usual crowd of sleek young Cubans and paunchy, prowling European tourists, the owner of one of New York’s hippest restaurants discusses his new Havana boutique hotel project. At the bar, a Swiss venture capitalist describes meeting with Communist Party officials about partnering on a marina complex. An Ohio woman who runs a bespoke guide service for wealthy Americans shows her clients iPhone photos of the private villa where they will have a waterfront paella dinner the next day.

The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.

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Remembering Robert Weil: Intellectual and Political Activist

Robert Emil Weil Obituary

Robert Weil, 1940-2014

by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism

Robert Weil, author of the powerful critique of Deng Xiaoping’s “reforms” entitled Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1996, republished in India by Cornerstone Publications, Kharagpur), quietly passed away in California on 12 March 2014.  Almost a year after, on 15 February 2015 a memorial meeting was held in Santa Cruz, California at the Resource Center for Nonviolence where his family, friends, teachers and long-time comrades from near and far came together to share their memories.  Robert meant a lot to them and for many others across the globe, a true friend, a dear comrade whose political integrity, a rare characteristic in the current milieu, they value immensely, a committed activist and intellectual whose life they considered worthy on all counts particularly while imagining a better world.  Starting off as a student-activist at Harvard University in the late 1950s, right till his last days Robert Weil remained involved in solidarity work with oppressed people around the world.  Even in the face of indifferent health, he did not think twice to join such efforts.  His democratic values in pursuing left politics will remain an example to many for years to come. Continue reading

Vietnamese authorities charge labor activists with “disrupting security”

Oct 18, 2010

Hanoi – Vietnamese authorities have brought charges against three labour activists for ‘disrupting security,’ an official said Monday.

The indictment said the three often contacted and received money from Tran Ngoc Thanh, chairman of the Warsaw-based Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers, to print and distribute anti-government leaflets and to foment labour strikes. It said ‘those offenders’ crimes are very serious, operated and organized with the intention to destroy the country’s security, and need punishing.’

The accused are Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, 29, Do Thi Minh Hanh and Doan Huy Chuong, both 25 years old, said Nguyen To Toan, deputy head of security department No 2 of the prosecutor’s office.

In November 2006, Chuong established the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam (UWFO) to advocate for labour rights. He was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison in December 2007 for ‘abusing democratic freedoms,’ but was released on May 13, 2008 due to poor health. Continue reading