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Daily Archives: March 1, 2015

Berta Soler anunció su viaje durante una reunión con 70 integrantes del colectivo femenino que dirige después de encabezar una marcha y asistir a una misa dominical en la iglesia "Santa Rita" en La Habana. Continue reading
… ) — Minnie Miñoso, el eterno toletero cubano que debutó en Grandes Ligas … hermosa relación entre el toletero cubano y los Medias Blancas. Miñoso … . "Todo jugador joven en Cuba quería ser como Minnie Miñoso … primera de ocho campañas del cubano con al menos .300 de … Continue reading
“Aunque empresas como MasterCard, American Express, Netflix y Twitter han anunciado planes para expandir sus operaciones en Cuba, no pueden prosperar en la isla hasta que dos industrias esenciales estadounidenses consiguen establecerse: la banca y las telecomunicaciones”. Continue reading
En una nota enviada este domingo por la oficina de prensa de la Casa Blanca, Obama destaca que "para los aficionados de los Medias Blancas y de todo el país, incluido yo, Minnie Miñoso es y siempre será "Mister White Sox" (Señor Medias Blancas). Continue reading
… here in Cuba." Americans can travel to communist Cuba for academic … . In December Mr Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro agreed to … of talks between US and Cuban officials were held in Washington … , following a first round in Havana last month. Officials on both … Continue reading
… arrived to Cuba in the 1860s, and within decades Cuban leagues were … . And, unlike Major League Baseball, Cuban leagues permitted racial integration. According … to hold spring training in Havana in part because Jackie Robinson … regular spring training games in Havana—have generated a lot of … Continue reading
  CRISIS

LA HABANA.- No ha existido en la historia de la disidencia pacífica en Cuba otro movimiento con tanto alcance internacional como las Damas de Blanco. Tenían razones poderosas para marchar gladiolo en mano, reclamando la libertad de sus familiares



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Juan David Cabrera es un joven estudiante venezolano a quien la Policía Nacional Bolivariana (PNB) disparó en la columna vertebral en una protesta pacífica contra el Gobierno de Maduro. El impacto de dos balas de nueve milímetros lo dejó en una silla de ruedas durante siete meses y hoy sufre las secuelas con disfunciones en el nervio ciático.

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… Minnie Minoso, the seemingly ageless Cuban slugger who broke into the … black Latino star, was a Havana native who spent most of … years to get the "Cuban Comet" into baseball… . "Every young player in Cuba wanted to be like Minnie … Continue reading

El primer jugador hispano negro de Grandes Ligas en Chicago, el cubano Minnie Miñoso, ha fallecido. El forense del condado Cook confirmó la muerte este domingo. Miñoso jonroneó en su primer turno al bate con los Medias Blancas en 1951. Existen algunas dudas sobre su edad, pero el equipo dice que tenía 92 años, informa AP.

Miñoso jugó 12 de sus 17 campañas en las mayores en Chicago, bateando .304, con 135 jonrones y 808 empujadas para los Medias Blancas. El equipo retiró su número, 9, en 1983 y hay una estatua de Miñoso en el U.S. Cellular Field. 

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsIssX8X0iU&w=560&h=315] Fifty-plus years of US diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions have failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people because they were not designed to bring freedom to the Cuban people, but to penalize a regime that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty by violent and anti-democratic procedures (reestablishment of death penalty, radical hatred speech, citizen apartheid), by the illegalization of civil society and all forms of property (both private and public, including the press), and by tyrannizing every institutional power into a despotic State, plus the militarization of the nation to the point of demanding a nuclear attack against the United States from Cuban territory. The 50-plus years to come of US diplomatic relations and capitalist engagement with Cuba can neither guarantee the advance of fundamental freedoms in my country, nor our liberation from the successive Castro generations, because a market economy is not a redemptive formula and it has already been implemented by authoritarian systems as a tool for tyrannical control of all basic rights. And this is a wicked word that President Obama, Pope Francis and General Castro have secretly agreed to postpone: the rights of the Cuban people. As the pro-democracy leader Oswaldo Payá stated many times until he was extrajudicially executed in Cuba on July 22nd 2012: Why not the recognition of all our rights now? What is good for Americans since the 18th century is still not good enough for Cubans in the 21st century? Is this about US interference, as in the hegemonic past times when the capitol of DC was the capital of the continent? Or this is only about insulting the intellectual capacity of my people, wise enough to escape in a pedestrian’s plebiscite in search for a real “normalization” of their lives far from an abnormal socialism? Democracies seem guilty of their duty to foster democracy worldwide, but Castroism has been more than proud to Castrify democratic countries (Venezuela is the most tragic example today), as the recently liberated 5 Cuban spies in US have declared when ordered as National Heroes back on the Island: we are ready to commit our crimes again if we are ordered to do so. Sic semper tyrannis. Why not the effective solidarity and the pressure of the international community, so that the legal claims that have already mobilized tens of thousands of Cubans be respected by our non-elected authorities? Why not take advantage of these US-Cuba negotiations to seat in the same table the historical gerontocracy with the alternative civil leaders, after we have risked so much to conquer freedom of speech and to raise awareness on human rights violations and the anthropological damage in Cuba? In moral terms, the unpopularity of US policies given the popularity of the Cuban Revolution worldwide should be less important than the unpopularity of the retrograde regime within the Island, if a true transition is to take place in Cuba today. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western Hemisphere now means advancing American interests in Western Union. Did Cuba win? Cuba cannot win because perpetuation in power is always a failure and the best approach to endure a fossil past, despite the faith in the future expressed by Nancy Pelosi, as the US executive branch enforces resolution after resolution, involving exclusively those congressmen and NGOs and think-tanks and press magnates and corporations’ tycoons that hurry to shake Raul Castro’s hand without asking him a single uncomfortable question, thus legitimizing he who abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban Chamber of Commerce and Cuban think-tanks and Cuban NGOs, as well as the exercise of free press. By the way, convenient Cuban dissidents are also called into play, not for the rule of law, but for the rule of loyalty. The rationale seems to be that, as it is impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable, the appeasement of the dictatorship into a dictatorcracy is now the lesser evil, mentioning “Cuban civil society” only for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact excluding us from the new status quo. I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba” (as in Julia Sweig’s book) but I am certain of what nobody dares to know about Cuba. Milan Kundera, maybe the best of Cuban novelists who is a Czech who writes in French and lives in Switzerland (a perfect mixture for freedom), knew that “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. Therefore, even if this is a small step for democracy, it’s also a giant leap against independency. And decency. The Cuban policy of the US is the ironic victory of The End of History: from our War against Spain to the anti-Imperialist Revolution, the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations is what really counts. That’s why for the first time in the history of our hemiplegic hemisphere it’s paradoxically in a Communist country where the cry of “Yankees, come home” echoes. In fact, you are more than welcome to try to fool our terminal tyrant with US dollars. But having dwelt in the entrails of said terminal tyranny during never-ending decades, my only remaining resistance is a sour skepticism to soothe our soul. (Original in English) Continue reading
El régimen busca desarrollar el ‘gobierno electrónico’ en la Isla DDC | La Habana | 28 Feb 2015 – 12:59 pm. Aprueba medidas que faciliten la realización de trámites administrativos por parte de la población. El Consejo de Ministros aprobó el viernes medidas que faciliten la realización de trámites administrativos por parte de la población […] Continue reading
… the rural village of Gabriel, Cuba Cuba's rural communities, where … between the US and Cuban governments Like in Havana, posters or paintings … real Cuba', talks continue to take place between US and Cuban … match, during a tour of Havana, Cuba's capital If the … Continue reading
Why U.S. banks are keeping an eye on Cuba talks
by Nancy Marshall-Genzer
Friday, February 27, 2015 - 05:00

U.S. and Cuban negotiators will meet in Washington Friday. On the agenda: whether Cuba should be taken off the U.S.'s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba wants off that list, and American banks are watching the negotiations closely. So are U.S. travelers, who can’t use their credit or debit cards on the island.

Right now, Americans can pay for hotels and plane tickets to Cuba in advance.  But once you get there, "all of your expenses, you need cash for them,” says Philip Peters, president of the Cuba Research Center in Alexandria, Va., who was traveling in Havana when we spoke.

“You’re going to rent a car, you’re going to rent a cell phone, you’re going to feed yourself," he says. "You’re going need about $200 a day in cash.”

Peters says, if Cuba were taken off the terrorism list, U.S. banks would be more willing to do business there.

Geoff Thale, a Cuba analyst with the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America, says right now, banks are leery.

“What may seem like, to the bank, an innocent banking arrangement, could lead to substantial fines,” he says.

But Thale says, even if Cuba were taken off the list, U.S. banks would still be cautious.

Case in point: MasterCard is removing its block on U.S. card transactions in Cuba this Sunday. But, that doesn’t mean your bank will clear them. MasterCard says you should contact your bank before you go to ensure your card will be "supported on the island."

Source: Why U.S. banks are keeping an eye on Cuba talks | Marketplace.org - http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/why-us-banks-are-keeping-eye-cuba-talks Continue reading
El movimiento musical hip hop en Cuba ha nacido como una original herramienta de resistencia contra el régimen castrista y contra el racismo que permite "abrir horizontes" de crítica y libertad entre los jóvenes, así lo han manifestado cuatro panelistas en las jornadas de este sábado celebradas en la Universidad Internacional de Florida (FIU). Continue reading
… a beautiful relationship between the Cuban slugger and the White Sox … black Latino star, was a Havana native who spent most of … years to get the "Cuban Comet" into baseball… . "Every young player in Cuba wanted to be like Minnie … Continue reading
CHICAGO — Minnie Minoso, the seemingly ageless Cuban slugger who broke into the majors just two years after Jackie Robinson and turned into the game’s first black Latino star, has... Continue reading
… to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, law enforcement authorities and public … escaped and later resurfaced in Cuba where she was granted asylum … agency offered to swap five Cuban spies captured in Florida for … some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political … Continue reading

El papa Francisco exhortó este domingo a rechazar la violencia en Venezuela al recordar que "está viviendo nuevamente momentos de aguda tensión" y animó a reabrir un diálogo "sincero y constructivo", informa EFE.

"Deseo recordar Venezuela, que está viviendo momentos de aguda tensión. Rezo por las víctimas y en particular por el chico asesinado hace pocos días en San Cristóbal", dijo Francisco tras el rezo dominical del Ángelus. 

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… predicament that could become a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse. In … elements stand out in the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1) Relations between … the Russian missiles out of Cuba. Finally, we were poised to … outsiders. America showed in the Cuban Missile Crisis that we would … Continue reading
… , a condition put forward by Havana before embassies could be opened … separate processes,” Jacobson said. The Cuban government has insisted that diplomatic … ; said Josefina Vidal, director of Cuban Foreign Ministry's North … parties on January 22 in Havana, Cuba and are a key step … Continue reading
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – Cuba could be a spring training … “ongoing” discussions about playing in Cuba, which recently renewed diplomatic ties … said there were conversations about Cuba hosting games this spring, but … spring training game played in Cuba, but it’s hard to … Continue reading
El diario de los trabajadores cubanos publica las fotos de los dos celebridades, pero no hay mención a la asistencia a la cena de los hijos del exgobernante Fidel Castro. Continue reading
En la clausura del XVII Festival Internacional del Habano, estaban la famosa modelo Naomi Campbell, la hija de Raúl y otros miembros de la familia Castro Continue reading
En medio del anuncio el pasado diciembre por parte de Obama de restablecer relaciones con el régimen la asesina prófuga de la Justicia, Joanne Chesimard, vive tranquilamente en Cuba como Assata Shakur. Continue reading
Pero a través de instituciones oficiales como Ministerio de Cultura, el Instituto de Radio y Televisión, la UNEAC y la Asociación Hermanos Saiz Continue reading
La UE dice que ‘no hay una propuesta’ para pactar ‘acuerdo comercial preferente’ con La Habana AGENCIAS | Bruselas | 1 Mar 2015 – 12:08 pm. El foco de la próxima ronda de negociaciones, los días 4 y 5 de marzo, serán los temas económicos. La Unión Europea (UE) y Cuba celebrarán, los próximos días […] Continue reading
An Ethical Roadway for Civil Society / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya
Posted on March 1, 2015

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 25 February 2015 — This Wednesday,
February 25th, 2015, a new meeting of the members Espacio Abierto [Cuban
Civil Society Open Forum] of the independent civil society took place
with a broad representation of members of various pro-democracy projects
throughout the Island, as well as independent journalists. A total of 25
participants took part in the symposium, where, in addition, views on
issues of interest to the Cuban reality were exchanged.

On this occasion, among the most important points of the discussion
adopted by full consensus was the document "An ethical roadway for Cuban
civil society" which — as its name suggests — provides a guide for the
basic principles governing the conclave, and a Motion of Solidarity with
civil society and the Venezuelan opposition at a time when the
repression tends to flare up with a statement that emphasizes leaders
like Leopoldo López, who recently served a year in prison; Maria Corina
Machado, a former deputy who was attacked and removed from office by the
Chavista authoritarianism; and the Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma,
elected at the polls by popular will, violently arrested in recent days
by the repressive forces of the government of that nation.

Whereas the document adopted at the conclave should be made known to the
public, especially Cubans from all shores, its contents are reproduced
here in their entirety:

An Ethical Path for Cuban Civil Society

As part of the independent Cuban civil society, we believe that every
moral choice is a strictly non-transferable decision, absent from all
imposition. We also recognize that, because of its relational character,
citizens seek to socialize and get incorporated into communities that
have received an established humus solidified with values and virtues
known as community ethos, whether family, group, national or
international. By agreeing to an ethical path, we reject a dogmatic
moral, prohibitive in itself, of frivolity and debauchery. We opt for
dialogical ethics against an authoritarian moral, ethics that
intrinsically link freedom and responsibility. We propose to educate
ourselves to assume, in our principles and in our attitudes, the
following ethical path, rooted in the best of our Cuban heritage:
1. We acknowledge that a human being is the central character of his own
story. Thus, the person must be the beginning, the middle and the end of
any institution or historical process. Human beings are not the means,
nor can they be an object in the hands of others, therefore they should
not be manipulated for scientific, social, political or economic
experiments.We believe that all human beings are equal before the law
and diverse in their abilities and personal choices.
2. We must encourage consistency between what we believe, what we say
and what we do. Any personal, civic and political engagement must be
inextricably supported by ethical behavior without which all individual
or community action loses value and meaning.
3. Cuba, that is, the nation known as the community of all its citizens
on the Island and in the Diaspora, its wellbeing, its freedom, its
progress and common good, is the inspiration and the end of all civic
and political action, banishing spurious interests.We consider that the
meaning and purpose of our ethical commitment to Cuba is to build a
peaceful, fruitful and prosperous coexistence in our country, rather
than a simple coexistence with those who are different or adversarial.
4. We opt for peaceful methods and for seeking nonviolent solutions to
both national and international conflicts and our interpersonal
relationships. We opt for the absolute respect for human life and
declare ourselves against all violence and the death penalty.
5. The discrepancy of opinions and political debate should leave no room
for personal or group attacks, insults or denigrating exclusions, or
defamation.
6. We believe that property, knowledge, and power are to serve and that
without agile and honest institutions there is no possible governance.
We believe that without civil sovereignty there is no progress,
articulation, or primacy of the governance of civil society as a valid
participant. Corruption, lies and excessive material interest are the
main enemies of civility in the world today, so, as part of the
independent Cuban civil society, we reject these evils and opt for
transparency, favor truth and the primacy of spiritual values.
7. We seek a modicum of ethics agreed to through a consensus building
process. We differentiate the processes of dialogue and negotiation.
Therefore, we believe that an ethical minimum must surface from a
dialogue leading to consensus agreements, while specific covenants
should surface from negotiations, which must be observed and followed by
the parties.
8. A civic ethic of minimums agreed to by consensus is an achievement of
pluralist humanity. Its basis is the full and utmost dignity of the
human person, achieved through acknowledgment, education and defense of
all rights for everyone, proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights resolved by the U.N. in 1948, which we fully embrace as our
inspiration and ethics program.
9. We adhere to the three fundamental values summarized by the best
aspirations of humanity: freedom, equality, fraternity and their
corresponding rights. First generation rights extol the value of
freedom, they are civil and political rights. Second generation rights
commend the value of equality, they are economic, social and cultural
rights. Third generation rights endorse the value of universal
brotherhood as ecological rights for a healthy environmental balance and
the right to a peaceful world.
10 Consequently, we wish to opt for inclusion and democratic
participation; moral authority, not authoritarianism; proposals, not
prescriptions; what ideas are expressed, rather than who speaks them;
programs and not just leaders. Unity in diversity, not uniformity.
Rational convictions, not fanaticism. The decriminalization of
differences, not intolerance. Decentralization and subsidiarity should
replace centralism and totalitarianism. Ethics must take precedence over
technique and science. Commitment must win over indifference. We opt for
the ethics of politics and economics, of national coexistence and of
international relations.
11. This ethical commitment should translate into attitudes and
proactive actions to heal the anthropological damage and overcome civic
and political illiteracy with the systematic labor of citizen
empowerment. Since we reject any moral imposition, we believe that
education is the only valid way. So we direct our efforts towards an
education liberating of ourselves and of all alienation, in order to be
able to contribute to the ethical and civic education of all Cuban
people, inspired by Human Rights and their corresponding Civic Duties.
Civic and political activists or intellectuals should not be society's
moralizers. Being chosen to represent does not confer moral authority,
but political commitment, subject to scrutiny and public willpower. We
believe in representation as a service to society. This representation
must be the product of popular choice, limited by time and succession.
12. Civic ethics is forged by each person, and it is the community's
responsibility to establish, educate, promote and safeguard the humus of
the ethics of the nation open to the world, based on the great values of
truth and freedom, justice and love.

By adopting this ethical pathway, we want to identify its roots in the
ethics of our founding fathers. The teaching of the Apostle José Martí
reminds us that: "For love we see, with love we see, it is love that
sees." We believe in civic friendship and in the reconciliation where
that righteousness should flow, which Maestro José de la Luz y Caballero
called the "sun of the moral world." Finally, we share Father Félix
Varela's philosophy that taught us that "There is no Motherland without
virtue or virtue without piety".

162nd anniversary of the death of Father Félix Varela

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: An Ethical Roadway for Civil Society / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/an-ethical-roadway-for-civil-society-cubanet-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
Blindness Leads the Way / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on February 28, 2015

Rebeca Monzo, 8 February 2015 — After reading an article from the
January 31, 2015 issue of the newspaper Granma about Cuba and the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) entitled "Cooperation Leads
the Way," a ton of questions came to mind about the subject at hand.

It has been forty years since a UNDP office was established in our
country with the objective to collaborate with the island's government
on the promotion of social development and public well-being.

From my meager understanding, the only party to have benefited from
this has been the government itself, especially in terms of the
favorable publicity it has received. They make up a negligible partof
the population but the Cubans who work for this and other UN
organizations are paid in CUC (Cuban convertible peso), which surpass by
leaps and bounds the highest salaries of the most qualified
professionals in our society, who are paid in CUP (Cuban pesos).

According to the aforementioned article, Granma "chatted" with Mrs.
Jessica Faieta, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America
and the Caribbean as well as the Assistant Secretary-General of the UN,
who discussed the improvement of the quality of life of our citizens.
She recognized the efforts of the Cuban government in regards to food
security and the strengthening of the agricultural and non-agricultural
cooperatives, pointing out, in addition, that the Cuban healthcare
system has been strengthened.

With all due respect, it strikes me that this official had only a
limited view of the situation, as is the case with everyone who visits
us. Guests are taken only to those organizations that have been prepared
in advance by the government and which serve as "display windows" for
foreigners.

Perhaps if she had to depend on the ration book for a while or to seek
medical help at one of our clinics — those used by the average citizen
— it is quite possible she might think differently. I do not understand
how UNDP, based in our country for four decades, has not been given the
task of investigating on their own — in closer contact with the
population — to verify the "wonderful statistics" provided by the
government, which does not at all reflect our reality.

One need only take a stroll through Central Havana, Old Havana (provided
one ventures beyond the historic center), Cerro, Tenth of October Arroyo
Naranjo, San Miguel del Padron and even Vedadao and other neighborhhoods
to see the poor sanitation conditions and overcrowding in which the
Cuban people must live. and the lack of specialists in our health
centers, for being these missions abroad, being replaced mostly by
students, many of them foreigners. There is also the issue of a shortage
of specialists in our health system due to the large number of them
serving abroad in medical missions. They are being replaced mainly by
medical students, many of them foreigners.

In terms of our society's standard of living, it should be pointed out
that the disappearance of the middle class — the very mark of a
country's wealth — has led to the emergence of an impoverished class
(with equality for all) with salaries that do not cover even the most
basic necessities. The contrast is made even more striking by the
emergence of a leadership class with an affluent lifestyle which only
accentuates the differences.

However, Mrs. Faieta and I are in full agreement when it comes to the
positive steps taken towards normalization of diplomatic relations
between the governments of the United States of America and Cuba. Once
there is a successful outcome — one hopes sooner rather than later — it
will be to the benefit of all Cubans. I believe that it is time to end
once and for all the blindness that until now has led the way.

Source: Blindness Leads the Way / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/blindness-leads-the-way-rebeca-monzo/ Continue reading
Las fiestas de quince en Cuba: la hora de tirar la casa por la ventana LA HABANA.- A pesar de que muchas familias comen poco y viven mal en Cuba, el evento sigue siendo un suceso importante; cuando tienen parientes en Miami, ellos pagan los gastos: En torno a las fiestas de quince se ha […] Continue reading
Raúl Castro en Uruguay con su “ministro interino” de Comercio Exterior; silencio sobre Rodrigo Malmierca Posted on 1 marzo, 2015 Por Redacción CaféFuerte El gobernante Raúl Castro arribó este sábado a Uruguay para asistir a la toma de posesión presidencial de Tabaré Vázquez y en la delegación que lo acompaña viajó su flamante ministro interino […] Continue reading
Anciano fallece en voraz incendio en Santiago de Cuba Posted on 1 marzo, 2015 Por Daniel Benítez Un anciano de 85 años fue encontrado muerto entre los escombros de una vivienda prácticamente devorada por el fuego en la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba. La víctima fue identificada como Manuel Albear Miranda, único residente de la […] Continue reading
Lo próximo en relaciones EEUU-Cuba: telecomunicaciones y vuelos Josefina Vidal manifestó en una entrevista al sitio oficial Cubadebate la disposición de ambos gobiernos a avanzar en estos temas al margen de las reuniones diplomáticas. Martinoticias.com febrero 28, 2015 Las reuniones técnicas entre funcionarios de Cuba y Estados Unidos serán uno de los ejes de las […] Continue reading
Hito histórico: el doble juicio de los aviadores cubanos GUILLERMO A. ESTÉVEZ Y DE ARCOS 02/28/2015 2:00 PM 02/28/2015 7:00 PM Muy poco después de Fidel Castro llegar al poder, 43 miembros de la Fuerza Aérea Cubana (19 pilotos escogidos al azar más artilleros y mecánicos) fueron absueltos de toda culpa por un tribunal revolucionario […] Continue reading
Restaurarán viejas películas cubanas EFE 02/28/2015 5:08 PM 02/28/2015 5:08 PM LOS ANGELES El archivo fílmico de la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA), UCLA Film & Television Archive, anunció el sábado la formalización de un acuerdo con la Cinemateca de Cuba para realizar la restauración de películas del país caribeño anteriores a la […] Continue reading
Paramilitarizan ferrocarriles en Cuba en busca de disciplina y eficiencia AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE 02/28/2015 4:42 PM 02/28/2015 4:46 PM LA HABANA Cuba paramilitarizará sus sistema ferroviario civil, actualmente sometido a fuertes inversiones de modernización, en busca de disciplina y eficiencia, informó este sábado el Gobierno. Se hará “a partir de su concepción como un sistema […] Continue reading
Raperos discuten el hip-hop en Cuba como tema cultural ALFONSO CHARDY ACHARDY@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM 02/28/2015 9:47 PM 02/28/2015 10:05 PM Cuatro panelistas en una conferencia en la Universidad Internacional de la Florida (FIU) dijeron el sábado que el movimiento musical hip hop en Cuba ha emergido como una forma inovadora de resistencia contra el régimen y contra […] Continue reading
EEUU y Cuba hablarán de negocios, en La Habana EFE 02/28/2015 4:25 PM 02/28/2015 4:50 PM LA HABANA Funcionarios de los Departamentos de Estado, Comercio y Tesoro de EE.UU. viajarán a Cuba “próximamente” para reunirse con representantes de ministerios y bancos como parte de los intercambios que sostendrán ambos países en las siguientes semanas, informó […] Continue reading
NJ business look to Cuba for a market, find difficulties
SUNDAY, MARCH 1, 2015, 1:21 AM
BY HUGH R. MORLEY
STAFF WRITER | THE RECORD

* Telecom company, travel agency and tech-life science executives test
waters, but experts tamp down expectations

President Obama's actions late last year, beginning the process of
normalizing the United States' long-frozen relationship with Cuba, lit a
fire under some New Jersey business leaders eager to tap into a new market.

A Newark-based telecom company has already made a deal with Cuba's
telecom agency on long-distance phone service. A group of New Jersey
tech and life science executives, intrigued by the potential of Cuba's
educated population, will visit the island in April. And a North Jersey
travel agency with extensive experience planning trips to Cuba has seen
a dramatic increase in calls.

Yet experts say low income levels in Cuba, where the average worker
makes about $20 a month, the communist government's tight control of the
economy, and America's continuing, stringent trade embargo put the
island 90 miles from the U.S. coast a long way from becoming more than a
negligible part of the nation's or New Jersey's economy.

"This is just the first step," said Lawrence Diamond, a Newark attorney
who specializes in helping companies do business with Cuba. "This is not
something that's going to change in any great extent doing business with
Cuba. It's going to take time before American companies will be, on a
broad scale, able to do business in and with Cuba."

The possibility of closer business ties with Cuba is a sensitive issue
in New Jersey, home to the second-largest population of Cuban exiles —
after Florida — who have historically opposed better relations with Cuba
out of a belief that isolating the country would help spur the downfall
of former President Fidel Castro, and now his brother, President Raul
Castro.

That sentiment reaches the top political echelons — Sen. Bob Menendez is
a fierce critic of Obama's initiative. And it continues to divide the
Cuban community, said Carlos Medina, chairman of the Statewide Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, which met on Thursday night in
Lyndhurst to explore Cuban business possibilities.

"It's somewhat generational," said Medina, whose father and
mother-in-law are Cuban. "My mother-in-law is 82, and she still doesn't
want anybody to have any interaction with Cuba. And then you see more
folks in their 40s and 50s a little more open" and asking questions
about Obama's initiative, Medina said, adding, "Just the fact that they
are asking means they have some sort of desire. 'What can I do there? Is
it safe to invest?' "

Medina said he organized Thursday night's event after the chamber
received many member calls seeking information on what businesses could
and couldn't do in Cuba as a result of Obama's announcement.

Most of the changes are the result of executive orders announced by
Obama in December as the first step toward normalizing relations with
Cuba. Included were new regulations governing business and travel
between the U.S. and Cuba. Obama also said he would open an embassy in
Havana.

The overall effect was to limit, albeit in a modest way, the impact of
the 50-year-old embargo, which only Congress can remove.

Even with its limitations, Obama's action clearly allows more business
opportunities than in the past. Until the changes, U.S. laws allowed
American companies to do business in Cuba only in three areas that gave
humanitarian help to the country's population — pharmaceuticals,
agricultural products and health care devices, Diamond said.

According to the U.S. Treasury, the executive orders allow American
companies to create telecommunications links with Cuba, to travel and to
forge banking links with Cuban institutions, which will include allowing
the use of U.S.-issued credit cards in Cuba.

The orders also allow Americans to be involved in "certain
micro-financing projects and entrepreneurial and business training," and
the importing into the U.S. of "certain independent Cuban
entrepreneur-produced goods and services," the Treasury said.

IDT, the Newark-based telecom company, said it has reached an agreement
with Cuba's national telecom provider, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de
Cuba S.A., to exchange international long-distance voice traffic between
the United States and Cuba directly.

A statement by Bill Pereira, CEO of IDT Telecom, said the company had
been in contact with the Cuban agency for years, and then last year it
expressed a "desire to move forward on an agreement with us."

The agreement would allow IDT to route international long-distance calls
to Cuba directly into the Cuban provider's network, instead of a
third-party network, he said. The toughest part, he added, was
developing the relationship with the agency "to the point where they
were comfortable moving forward with us."

The deal fits IDT's business of providing prepaid and other call
services to first- and second-generation immigrants in the U.S., Pereira
said.

Perhaps the most lucrative area in the short term will be travel. Delta
Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have
expressed interest in starting regular flights to Cuba, which now
receives only charter flights from the U.S. Since Obama's announcement,
Marazul Charters & Travel Agency in North Bergen, which has arranged
trips to Cuba since 1979, has been deluged with calls, said Robert
Guild, a company vice president.

The executive orders have dramatically reduced the amount of red tape
involved in traveling to Cuba, which previously required trip organizers
to give a detailed report on their itinerary before and after the trip.
The rules lifted the requirement that travelers obtain a license from
Treasury to visit the country, and only requires travelers to read, and
ensure that they meet, the requirements of one of 12 categories of
travelers' licenses allowed to go to Cuba, Guild said.

In the past, he said, it could take four to six months to get a license.
Now, "any organization can sponsor a trip," and no licenses are needed,
he said. Although Americans are still not allowed to visit Cuba solely
for tourism, travel to professional meetings and conferences, and to
complete "certain authorized export transactions" are allowed, according
to the Treasury rules.

"We already have requests from organizations through 2017, for hotel
space in Cuba," he said. The increased demand for travel to Cuba means
that Marazul, which has a headquarters in Miami and a workforce of 100,
of whom 20 are in New Jersey, expects to add at least 15 new employees
companywide, Guild said.

The trip by the tech and life science executives will be led by the New
Jersey Technology Council and is aimed at assessing opportunities for
hiring Cuban workers, said James Barrood, president of the NJTC, a
support and advocacy group for the tech industry.

"Cuba is one of the most-educated countries in the Western Hemisphere,"
said Barrood. "And there are a lot of smart people, especially in the
tech areas."

While workers there may not have state-of-the-art IT skills, Barrood
said, Cuba has a strong health industry, the country is well-known for
producing a large number of doctors, and the country's free education
system produces workers strong in math and science basics, who could be
trained, he said.

"There is a tech talent shortage" in the U.S., said Barrood, who visited
Cuba last year with a student group from Fairleigh Dickinson University,
where he was head of the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship. "And
it's only going to get worse. We want to make sure that our companies
can partner, collaborate or employ this talent in the near or long term."

The trip is being organized with The Latino Institute, a Newark-based
non-profit group that advocates for education among Hispanics.

The scope of business opportunities in Cuba will depend in part on what
happens next in Cuba, where independent businesses are a relatively new
phenomenon.

A description of doing business in Cuba drawn up by the Embassy of
Canada, which does not have an embargo on doing business in the
Caribbean country, makes the difficulties clear.

"The Cuban market is challenging and complex, and not suitable for the
novice exporter," the embassy statement said. "However, for those with
experience exporting, in particular to developing and emerging markets,
the medium- to long-term prospects look promising."

Although "the Cuban government has been gently reforming and
liberalizing the economy over the past few years," the embassy said,
"all imports to the country remain controlled by Government of Cuba
import agencies."

Cuban importers can deal only with "established companies" with at least
five years' experience, and "individual entrepreneurs or newly created
companies will not generally be considered." Companies seeking to sell
goods in Cuba cannot open an office there until they have three years of
selling in the country, and $500,000 in sales there, the Canadian
Embassy said.

Herb Ouida, director of the Global Enterprise Network at Fairleigh
Dickinson University, which has put together an April conference for
local businesses on "Opening the Door to Cuba," said he expects Obama's
move to be followed by other initiatives that will expand the areas of
business open to U.S. companies.

"It's incremental, I agree, it's very incremental," Ouida said. "But
it's in the right direction in terms of opening the door. … You go now
to do your research, to determine what changes will be prospective as
well as what changes are in place today."

Email: morley@northjersey.com

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Kelly: Ex-FBI chief tells of cop-killer swap that Cuba rejected
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015, 11:11 PM
BY MIKE KELLY

Years before Joanne Chesimard was placed on the FBI's list of most
wanted terrorists and the bounty for her capture was increased to $2
million, federal authorities secretly reached out to their Cuban
counterparts with a plan to bring the convicted cop killer back to New
Jersey.

It was the fall of 1998. The FBI drew up a proposal to trade five
captured Cuban spies for Chesimard, who had been convicted two decades
earlier of killing a New Jersey state trooper in a turnpike gunfight but
had broken out of jail and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political
asylum.

The proposed 1998 trade, which has never been publicly acknowledged by
either the United States or Cuba, was described in detail in two recent
interviews with The Record by one of its originators, former FBI
Director Louis Freeh.

Why the plan failed may offer insight about the obstacles facing the
state police, the FBI and a host of political figures as they renew
efforts to bring back Chesimard. The story also illustrates the legacy
of suspicion that permeates U.S.-Cuban relations.

In New Jersey, however, the renewed discussion of Chesimard's fugitive
status has reopened old wounds that date to an unsettling time in
America — a time that was punctuated by a horrific confrontation on the
New Jersey Turnpike between state troopers and members of the Black
Liberation Army who were calling for an armed revolution.

Just before midnight on May 2, 1973, Chesimard, then 25, was traveling
south with two male compatriots when two troopers stopped their car.
Within minutes a wild gunbattle broke out, leaving Trooper Werner
Foerster dead and his partner wounded.

Chesimard, who also was wounded, was later caught, charged with murder
and sentenced to a life term. But in 1979, she escaped from the state
women's prison in Clinton and disappeared, only to turn up five years
later in Cuba.

Chesimard, 67, and reportedly living in the Havana area under the name
Assata Shakur, is regarded as a criminal by U.S. authorities. Cuba has
never shown any inclination to rescind her political asylum, which was
granted by Fidel Castro in the mid-1980s.

In the fall of 1998, however, Freeh thought he saw an opening for U.S.
authorities to get their hands on Chesimard.

As outlined by Freeh in two interviews with The Record, the FBI hoped to
start talks to extradite Chesimard and possibly other American
fugitives, including William Morales, a Puerto Rican nationalist who was
implicated in a series of U.S. terror bombings, including one at
Manhattan's Fraunces Tavern that killed a Fair Lawn resident.

Freeh, who grew up in North Bergen and was a student at Rutgers Law
School in Newark in the mid-1970s, said he had long harbored a special
interest in the Chesimard case. And with the September 1998 arrest of
the five Cuban spies in Florida, Freeh, who became FBI director five
years earlier, said he figured he might have enough leverage to persuade
the Cubans to return her.

"It always occurred to me that exchange would be a good one," he said,
recalling his enthusiasm.

But Freeh, who now runs a private security consulting firm, said the
Cubans wouldn't consider even the most ordinary of discussions.

"The response was no response," he said.

Today, that message from Cuba appears unchanged.

Days after President Obama announced plans on Dec. 17 to restore
diplomatic relations with the communist nation, Cuba's foreign ministry,
in response to questions from journalists in Havana, defended
Chesimard's status.

"Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political
asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted," said the
ministry's head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal.

"We've explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some
people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political
asylum," she said.

In a recent interview, Guillermo Suarez, a counselor at Cuba's U.N.
mission, said extradition of Chesimard was not part of the talks to
reestablish diplomatic ties with the U.S.

Suarez said Cuban officials were "quite surprised" to learn that the
announcement of Cuban-American détente was greeted with demands from law
enforcement officials and political figures in New Jersey and elsewhere
for Chesimard's return. He added that the $2 million bounty for her
capture made Cuban officials "very nervous" about whether an influx of
tourists would include bounty hunters.

By the fall of 1998, Cuban-American relations had grown very tense.

In February 1996, Cuban Air Force fighters shot down two civilian planes
and killed four members of the Miami-based anti-Castro group Brothers to
the Rescue, whose planes patrolled waters off Cuba to spot people trying
to escape to the United States. Although the Cubans maintained that the
planes had entered Cuban territory on the day they were shot down, an
investigation showed they were attacked in international airspace.

In June 1998, FBI agents flew to Havana at the invitation of Cuban
authorities to hear complaints about bombings in Cuba that had been
allegedly orchestrated by anti-Castro dissidents supported by Florida's
large exile community.

Three months later, when FBI agents in Miami arrested the five Cuban
spies who had reportedly infiltrated that exile community, Freeh saw an
opening.

The arrest of the spies, known as the Cuban Five or the Miami Five,
confirmed what the FBI and anti-Castro Cuban-Americans had long
suspected: Cuba's intelligence service had numerous operatives in the
United States. One of the alleged spies was later charged with passing
along information about Brothers to the Rescue flights.

Freeh sensed that the spies' capture might also offer an opportunity to
gain access to Chesimard. He approached U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno
with the idea of a trade.

Freeh said Reno approved the plan, which called for him to reach out to
his contacts in a nation with friendly ties to Cuba and the United
States. That nation, which Freeh declined to identify, agreed to
communicate the proposal to Cuba.

Because the plan was in its early stages, Freeh said neither he nor Reno
contacted the White House or the State Department.

"What I did is I contacted the chief of service in another country's
security service," Freeh said "We asked them to contact their
counterparts in Cuba to see if they were interested in a conversation
where we would exchange Chesimard for one or more of the Cuban Five. The
answer came back: 'No. Not interested.'Ÿ"

Freeh, who has never publicly discussed the rejected offer until now,
said he was doing so to raise awareness of the importance of extraditing
Chesimard. Reno could not be reached for comment.

Why the Cubans so hastily rejected Freeh's overture to trade for
Chesimard may have had something to do with how angry they were about
the timing of the spies' arrests — which came only months after the June
1998 meeting with the FBI in Havana to discuss concerns over violence by
anti-Castro dissidents.

"When these spies were arrested, from the Cuban point of view, they had
just been betrayed," said Stephen Kimber, a Canadian journalist who
wrote a book about them. "Why would they have been interested in a deal
at that point?"

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat and former chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has emerged as a vocal critic
of Obama's plan to restore ties with Cuba, said he was surprised the
Cubans had not agreed to exchange Chesimard for the spies.

"The Cuban government placed a high value on the spies," said Menendez,
the son of Cuban immigrants, noting that for years Cuba has campaigned
for their return. "If there had been a deal more than a decade ago that
they could have achieved the same thing, for them to say no just tells
you what Chesimard means to them."

Menendez called Chesimard "an enemy of the United States."

"We see her for what she is — a cold-blooded murderer, who had her day
in court and was convicted," Menendez said. "They see her in some
broader struggle for liberation. For them, she is a great propaganda claim."

Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the
National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institute in
Washington, D.C., said the Cubans viewed the granting of political
asylum to Chesimard as a matter of sacrosanct honor.

"I've discussed these cases, particularly Joanne Chesimard," said
Kornbluh, who returned from Cuba recently. "Their focus is that they
made the political commitment of political asylum to her. They made the
decision to give her political asylum and they are not going to revisit
the issue."

Lennox Hinds, Chesimard's attorney and a professor of criminal justice
at Rutgers University, said he had been assured by Castro that his
client would not be sent back to the United States under any circumstances.

"In my view, Assata would not be viewed as someone who they would trade
off," Hinds said, using the name Chesimard calls herself

Freeh, who left the FBI in 2001, months before the 9/11 attacks, has not
given up on bringing back Chesimard.

"The issue is, will there be a point where they are willing to consider
exchanging her?" he said. "They clearly did not want to do that when we
contacted them."

Source: Kelly: Ex-FBI chief tells of cop-killer swap that Cuba rejected
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Metas y miserias en Santiago DARIELA AQUIQUE LUNA | La Habana | 1 Mar 2015 – 10:11 am. Los santiagueros viven sin agua, pero las obras por el medio milenio de la ciudad no dejan de estar bien abastecidas. Metas, como sustantivo, tiene entre sus acepciones las de finalidades, intenciones, objetivos, propósitos. Miserias, por su […] Continue reading
U.S. demand for travel to Cuba rises amid thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations
BY HANNAH SAMPSON HSAMPSON@MIAMIHERALD.COM
02/28/2015 9:58 PM 02/28/2015 10:27 PM

Cuba is facing a tourism tsunami as Americans who can more easily visit
the island rush to experience a frozen-in-time culture before it disappears.

More than two months after President Barack Obama first announced that
travel restrictions to the communist island nation would be eased and
several weeks after the release of less-stringent regulations, tour
operators say inquiries and bookings have shot up while more travel
providers have waded into the mix.

"There's a sense of urgency from travelers," said Collin Laverty, owner
of Cuba Educational Travel in Washington, D.C. "People feel that it's on
the verge of opening, so they want to get there right away."

Tom Popper, president of New York tour operator InsightCuba, said he
returned from a trip to Cuba last week and was amazed by the number of
Americans he encountered. The fresh interest comes during high season in
Cuba, adding pressure to an already strained tourism infrastructure.

"There were more than I've ever seen before," said Popper, whose company
has organized travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens since 2000. Since
mid-December, his company has seen six times the web traffic and three
times the bookings as normal for the same time of year, and the demand
has shown no signs of waning.

"We had the President of the United States talk about people-to-people
travel and the fact that you can go and that we want to make it easier,"
Popper said. "After Dec. 17, tens of millions of people said, 'Oh yeah,
President Obama said I could go to Cuba.'"


Tourism is still prohibited, which means Americans have to wait for all
travel restrictions to be lifted before they can lounge at a beach
resort in Varadero or spend a weekend sampling mojitos and Cuban cigars.
But on Jan. 15, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that citizens who
fall under 12 categories of authorized travel — including educational
activities, public performances, athletic competitions, support for the
Cuban people and humanitarian projects — would not need to apply for a
specific license to go to Cuba.

Travel agents and airlines can operate without a specific license from
the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, a process that
previously took months and mountains of paperwork, as long as travelers
are going for authorized reasons.

"It's kind of like a new normal," said Popper.

This is what the new normal looks like for travel companies across the
country: hundreds more calls every week, fresh rounds of questions and
increased bookings from travelers eager to witness the island's classic
cars, historic architecture and cultural riches.

Normal, in today's travel landscape, includes a Canadian cruise line now
booking Americans for Cuban itineraries; hotel rooms in Havana popping
up on Kayak.com and one-stop shopping for plane tickets to Cuba via
Mexico on CheapAir.com.

And, in Cuba, it means fewer hotel rooms, tour guides and buses
available to shuttle eager visitors around, not to mention a scarcity of
airplane seats on the way there.

Joe Diaz, co-founder of travel media company AFAR Media, left for Havana
on on a flight Jan. 16, the day the new regulations kicked in. Traveling
through Panama City, he arrived the next day with nowhere to stay
because hotels were full in prime tourist season. Cuba says it has about
63,000 rooms among hotels, motels, hostels and serviced apartments.

Diaz stayed at a private home for $30 a night — "clean, quiet, basic"
with hot water and a comfortable bed — and got to know the family who
lived there.

But he said he quickly realized that American travelers who are
accustomed to Wi-Fi, working credit cards and functional infrastructure
are probably not ready for the experience.

"Cuba is not for that luxury type traveler," he said. "It's for the more
adventurous, experiential traveler."

Bob Guild, vice president of travel agency Marazul Charters, said his
groups have had to stay in private apartments recently instead of hotel
rooms because beds are in such demand.

"There is more space than ever, but it's all been taken up," Guild said.
"What are they going to do next season?"

Guild said Marazul, which has been providing travel to Cuba since 1979,
is getting an average of 75-80 requests a day for information. In the
two weeks after the regulations were released in January, 1,300 requests
came in compared to 30 requests during the same time period in 2014.

"Nothing has really died down," he said. "We are generally telling
people that nothing is possible until next season, beginning in October.
And there are people still trying to get in right now."

Cuba Educational Travel's Laverty said he is fielding last-minute
requests, many from small groups of four to 10 people.

"Just in the last two days, we've booked three or four additional groups
in the middle of March," he said last week.

According to statistics from the Cuban government, 92,348 Americans
visited in 2013, though that number does not include Cuban-Americans
visiting family. About 3 million total visitors came to the country in
2014, and a new survey released Thursday indicates interest in future
travel is high.

According to the travelhorizons survey released by marketing services
firm MMGY Global, 46 percent of travelers from the U.S. who are likely
to visit a Caribbean destination during the next two years would be
willing to change their vacation plans to go to Cuba instead. And 19
percent of U.S. adults said they would consider taking a vacation to
Cuba during the next two years. Questions about Cuba had never been
included in the survey before.

Kim Cavendish, president and CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science
in Fort Lauderdale, has been thinking about making the short trip for "a
long time," she said. And just within the past week, she finally made
arrangements for a people-to-people trip in April.

"I like to travel, I like to visit other cultures and see new places,"
she said. "Cuba is something that's what, 90 miles away? And yet we
haven't been allowed to go there for some time."

With a small group, she will visit cultural sites, museums, community
projects, a dolphin preserve and other locations to scout out the
possibility of including Cuba in the museum's adventure travel program
in the next year or so.

She said she's seen firsthand that the easing of restrictions doesn't
automatically translate to easy planning.

"I think this idea that we're all going to be able to pop off to Cuba is
still going to be in the future," she said.

In the meantime, more travel companies are jumping in to help.

A spokeswoman for the American Society of Travel Agents said there was
"immediate interest" from members who wanted more information about
selling travel to Cuba after the December and January announcements. The
organization has scheduled an online seminar for March 11.

When the United States Tour Operators Association hosted a webinar on
the subject in mid-February, more than 100 people listened in.

"I think everyone's very interested in how do we get a piece of the
action," said Terry Dale, the association's president and CEO.
"Absolutely the needle has moved."

With its partner ABC Charters, JetBlue is adding an additional weekly
charter flight from Tampa to Havana in June. Kayak.com is now listing
information on flights to Cuba and hotels, though it does not include
booking links. Cuba Cruise, a Canadian cruise operator that launched in
2013, now promotes its trips around Cuba to Americans and American
travel agents.

And the booking site CheapAir.com just added flights to Cuba to its
search engine on Thursday, packaging trips from the U.S. that go through
Mexico.

"Right after the announcements of the changes in regulation, we started
seeing a big uptick in searches for Cuba," from almost none to 50 or 60
searches a day, said CheapAir CEO Jeff Klee.

Still, travel agents say they expect demand to explode when travelers
can set their own agendas free of any restrictions. Michelle Weller,
director of operations for a Travel Leaders agency in Houston, wrote in
an email that most people asking about travel don't want a
people-to-people tour.

"When Cuba can offer an atmosphere where Americans can hang out at
all-inclusives or bar hop in old Havana, dancing to local Cuban music
and smoking Cuban cigars at Ernest Hemingway haunts like La Floridita,
you will see a massive wave of tourists flood the country," she wrote.

This report includes comments from the Public Insight Network, an online
community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with the
Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a source at MiamiHerald. com/insight.

BY THE NUMBERS
The number of Americans* visiting Cuba has increased significantly since
2009, though there was a dip in 2013, the most recent year that
statistics are available. Overall, the number of visitors has steadily
increased.

Year United States Total
2009 52,455 2,429,809
2010 63,046 2,531,745
2011 73,566 2,716,317
2012 98,050 2,838,607
2013 92,348 2,852,572
Source: Cuba's National Statistics Office

* The figures do not include Cuban-Americans traveling to visit family.

VISITING CUBA TODAY
Under rules released earlier this year, U.S.-born individuals who fall
under one of 12 categories can visit Cuba without getting specific
advance permission from the U.S. government. Groups comprised of people
in those categories — such as professional and educational groups — can
create their town people-to-people style trips without U.S. government
permission.

Airline space and hotels are surprisingly easy to arrange using
guidebooks — as those from Moon and Lonely Planet — and the internet.
(And yes, some sites will take your credit card.) What isn't so easy is
finding space in hotels, so you're best to secure that first, then book
your air.

Here's the process:

Lodging:

Cuba Travel Network, cubatravelnetwork.com, books official hotels online
and accepts credit cards. (All hotels are owned either fully or partly
by the government.)
Many casas particulares — B&B rooms in private homes — can be reserved
online and paid once you arrive. One good, responsive source is
casaincuba.com.
Airlines:

Go to the website of a Cuba airline broker (you'll find a list at
http://cubatrips.org/charter-flights-to-cuba.html). (CheapAir.com. also
is offering flights, but via Mexico.)
Fill out a request. (You can't just pick a flight online.)
The broker will be back in touch with the OFAC authorization form. You
will need to check the qualifying category, sign and return, before the
airline can book your flights.
About three weeks prior to flight time, the broker will supply tickets
and a tourist card that allows entry into Cuba.
On the ground:

Recent visitors advise grabbing a good guidebook and asking at your
lodging for guides and taxis. Most recommend against renting a car and
driving yourself.
JANE WOOLDRIDGE

Source: U.S. demand for travel to Cuba rises amid thaw in U.S.-Cuba
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El régimen autoriza a una empresa mexicana invertir en la zona especial del Mariel AGENCIAS | La Habana | 28 Feb 2015 – 11:38 pm. Es la primera compañía a nivel internacional en obtener la aprobación de un proyecto de inversión, según el Gobierno mexicano. El Gobierno cubano autorizó a una empresa mexicana invertir en […] Continue reading
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Zapatero y Moratinos fueron a Cuba como intermediarios comerciales de grandes empresas, según prensa española DDC | Madrid | 28 Feb 2015 – 8:35 pm. Afirman que el expresidente español y el excanciller actúan como asesores buscando oportunidades de negocio en diferentes países. Los motivos de la visita a Cuba del expresidente de España José […] Continue reading