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Daily Archives: March 25, 2015

  DISIDENCIA CUBANA

MIAMI.- El exprisionero Arturo Suárez Ramos,  gestor de un grupo civilista pro amnistía para presos políticos, asegura que desde su celda ideó los estatutos y el programa del movimiento inicial



Leer todo   -   Cuba Continue reading
At LabMiami, a technology business incubator located in Miami's trendy Wynwood neighborhood, Ric Herrero wages a national campaign using traditional and social media that has played a significant role Continue reading
A man waved a small American flag and then performed a backflip on the sands of South Beach to celebrate becoming a U.S. citizen. "It was a long process, but I made it," said Felix Galera, who was born Continue reading
[ANGOP] Menongue -At least thirty-one thousand anti-personnel landmines were destroyed from 2002 up to the present year, in the south-eastern Cuando Cubango Province, by the British firm The Halo Trust, Continue reading
Company will pay $7.7M for sending money transfers to accounts linked to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, Iran and Cuba PayPal has reached a $7.7 million settlement with the U.S. Treasury for Continue reading
The European Union has its eyes on normalizing relations with Cuba as both sides said they hope to sign an agreement by the end of this year. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was in Havana Continue reading
… and Montenegro and de-listing 59 Cuban fishing, shipping and tourism companies … . embargo against Cuba. ” He also “worked for the Cuban Export-Import Corporation (CIMEX) and administered one of Cuba’s … Continue reading
CANADA, March 11th. A two hour tour for Afro-Cuban folkloric music, from its origins through different popular genres, to its contemporary forms, was offered last Friday night by the Cuban artist based Continue reading
'CubaSí' accuses '14ymedio' of "contaminating" the new platform of Cuban
blogs / 14ymedio
Posted on March 24, 2015

"Mercenaries in service to the US blog on Cuban platform"

14ymedio, Havana, 23 March 2015 — The government information portal
"CubaSí" regrets, this Monday, the presence of "mercenaries in the
service of the United States" on the new blogging platform
"Reflections"launched last week by the Cuban government. The author of
the article, M.H. Lagarde, angrily cites the blog opened on this
platform by 14ymedio, which has found a way to reach Cuban readers on
the Island's servers with the contents of the independent digital
newspaper since its creation in May of 2014.

In his article, Lagarde accuses 14ymedio of having "contaminated" the
platform with "counterrevolutionary propaganda," although, at the time
of its release, the government portal explained that it had no
"restrictions with regards to themes addressed in the blogs and users
interested in the service."

"The fact undoubtedly ranks as the first provocation realized by Cuban
mercenaries in the face of the Summit of the Americas to be held in
April in Panama, where by the express desire of the Government of the
United States there will be active participation of the reduced Cuban
'civil society' that responds to its interests," Lagarde writes.

"According to the imperial perspective, [Yoani Sánchez] and her team of
'journalists' of 14ymedio play an important role in the so-called war of
the fourth generation based on the use of new technologies. The function
of these groups has been, so far, to serve as media mourners who
encourage and justify sanctions and invasions against the countries that
are not liked by the United States," he adds.

Lagarde provides as "proof of the faith the current American
administration has in its puppet Yoani Sanchez," the visit of Secretary
of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson to the digital
newspaper's headquarters during her first trip to Havana this last January.

While most of the readers' comments in CubaSí support Lagarde's
diatribes, several dare to disagree. Oscar Sanchez, for example, is
blunt: "As a Cuban citizen, Yoani has the right to an opinion. No one
has the only right nor the absolute truth." And Heru added, "I believe
in respect for diversity and, if they open a blog on Reflections, they
are completely within their rights, I don't see why so much fuss and
crowing."

For his part, Rafa opens the door to dialog, in his way, "We are not
afraid, they confront our ideas with those of the adversary, traitor and
puppet of the empire." And Yosbel Marin, more combative and
intransigent, expressed his suspicions toward his co-religionist: "M.H.
Lagarde, with this article, will just publicize 14ymedio. Why? Naivety
or intentional?"

Source: 'CubaSí' accuses '14ymedio' of "contaminating" the new platform
of Cuban blogs / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubasi-accuses-14ymedio/ Continue reading
. As a result of the improvement of cooperation relations between Cuba and New Zealand, from the 9th to the 11th of March, an Expert´s Seminar on economic issues was successfully carried out in Havana, Continue reading
. Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, received Director of Cuban Supreme People´s Procuracy Office, Dario Delgado Cura, in the framework of a working visit to Vietnam. Truong Tan Sang called for more Continue reading
. The Cuban badminton champion, Oslenis Guerrero Velazco, who displaced all his opponents and won the gold medal at the Pan American Games held last  October 2014, visited Indonesia and has finished for Continue reading
Holguin repairs a street after a hundred residents threaten not to vote
in the elections
FERNANDO DONATE, Holguín | Marzo 23, 2015

The Holguin municipal government decided to hurriedly solve the problem
of sewage running down 8 th Street between 29 th and 35 th, in the La
Quinta neighborhood, after having received a letter signed by more than
100 people who threatened not to vote in the elections for delegates to
the Municipal Assembles of People's Power on 19 April, if their demand
for a solution was not met.

A commission composed of government functionaries went to visit the
residents, according to Lino Rubisel Almira García, one of the
signatories. "They visited us two days after they received the letter,
at the end of last October. The committee wanted to make us desist from
the decision, but when they failed to achieve their objective they
agreed to approve an investment as soon as possible.

The speed with which the work was begun surprised even those who didn't
trust in the efficacy of a letter with political content adverse to the
government to resolve a historic demand, raised since the early eighties
in every "Renditions of Accounts Assembly" of the delegates with their
constituents.

During all this time, the fetid sewage that ran along the street
endangered the health of the inhabitants of more than 60 homes,
according to the complaint of Leopoldo Peña Jiménez, another of the
signatories, resident of the place since 1979.

The fear of the critical epidemiological situation of the city since
2014 – with the increase in illness like dengue fever, cholera, and
hepatitis – resulted in a death that "forced us to use politics when we
didn't get results through established mechanisms," added Peña.

During the "Process of Renditions of Accounts" of last October, the
delegate reported that the work was not in the investment plans and that
a long-term solution was projected due to the difficult economic
situation threatening the country.

However, Peña remembers that, "When, in the eighties, the government had
available resources, the requests to representatives and officials of
the People's Power was characterized, year after year, by false promises
that, after they weren't met, were excused with absurd justifications."

Given the indolence of the authorities, the residents began to resolve
the problem with their own efforts in 2010, placing 8 plastic tubes,
each 3 yards long. The solution was insufficient, but the government
never provided the necessary resources.

The current work began mid-month last November, and the work, paralyzed
as of a month ago, is still incomplete. Those affected point out that
there is a section where the putrid waters still flow, and lament that
there are still seven open manholes in the sewer, which in addition to
blocking free flow, constitute a danger for the risk of falls,
especially at night in streets lacking good lighting.

The neighbors continue to wait for the completion of the works, and
according to Lino Rubisel, are "willing to write another letter, if
necessary."

Source: Holguin repairs a street after a hundred residents threaten not
to vote in the elections -
http://www.14ymedio.com/englishedition/holguin-repairs-street-after-hundreed-residents-threaten-not-to-vote-in-elections_0_1748225180.html Continue reading
A Mutilated Civil Society
REGINA COYULA, La Habana | Marzo 23, 2015

Just try it. On the street, randomly ask: What is civil society? You'll
be lucky if you find any satisfactory answer and will have better luck
if, unlike for me, more than one person even deigns to answer you. To
speak of civil society in Cuba is like teaching new material in school.

First the concepts, then, explain which is considered more successful
according to the teacher's vision. A meticulous educator looks for good
examples. It is essential to mention the thesis of Alexis de Tocqueville
of civil society as an intermediary between the individual and the
State. Also interesting is Habermas's approximation about individual
rights that guarantee and foster free association.

Like almost all social science concepts, we find different and even
opposing views on the subject. Where the philosophers agree, regardless
of their political affiliation or their religious creed, is that civil
society exists and functions independently of the State, and in many
cases as its counterpart.

Only then, after talking about the subject enough so that the citizenry
feels informed, can we speak of the role of civil society.

It has still been less than a decade that the term civil society, along
with its close relatives, human rights and non-governmental
organizations, was either nonexistent or cursed in the Cuban press. But
with the growth of alternative civil society, which is attacked and
simplified, accused of following an agenda dictated by the enemy, has
the issue seeped into the discourse of the official press. To public
opinion, contaminated with the unhealthy idea, now trying to present as
civil society organizations that, for the most part, are created and
financed by the government itself.

The upcoming Summit of the Americas will put to the test the ability of
both – the civil society recognized by the government and the
alternative one, unrecognized and derided – to show the continental
community their projects and results. Since the constitution itself
observes the difficulty of the alternation given that, according to
Article 53, freedom of expression is only recognized in relation to the
aims of socialist society. This article makes clear that the mass media
are state or social property, and limits their use exclusively to
working people and the interests of society.

The government tries to know and represent the interests of Cuban
society but, given the deterioration of social conditions, the
boundaries become blurred between popular support for the authorities
and the desire of citizens to try another formula. Only within a
totalitarian context is it possible to control the discontent, deaf to
discordant voices and to make practically impossible the legalization of
an independent project. This lock is constitutionally established in
Article 62, that doesn't recognize the freedoms when they don't fit with
the aims of the socialist state and the decision of the Cuban people to
build communism.

I read Friday, in the newspaper Granma, the article "Our civil
society." I agree with some of the points of view of the journalist
Sergio Alejandro Gomez. In effect, domination is not always applied by
force or coercion and the powerful like to appropriate words and their
meanings. However, I disagree with the manner in which the journalist
resolves the current problem with civil society. The Cuban State
represents the interests of the great majority (while it demonstrates
the contrary), but this government has rejected the free associations
established by Cuban citizens.

It is clear that the heterogeneity of the Cuban Civil Society Forum is
circumscribed to differences in matters of religion, gender equality,
racial equality or sexual diversity. Immediately observable is the
absence of a political opposition, It's very fair that the above rights
are recognized, because bad memory can't omit the fact that minorities
were also discriminated against in Cuba. But as long as political
opinion and initiative outside the State are not present, civil society
will be incomplete, and any democratic observer immediately perceives
this anomaly.

As pointed out by the Granma journalist, the society is not
homogeneous. Homogeneity is not the personality of brothers brought up
under the same roof. However, the Cuban state wants to achieve with
these organizations of its civil society a symphony that supposedly
affirms to the writer that this is a civil society unlike any other.

Source: A Mutilated Civil Society -
http://www.14ymedio.com/englishedition/Mutilated-civil-society-cuba_0_1748225181.html Continue reading
WASHINGTON -- PayPal has agreed to pay $7.7 million in a settlement with U.S. regulators, who say the payments company allowed violations of U.S. sanctions against countries including Iran. The Office Continue reading
Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses for a photograph near the statue of José Martí in Havana's Revolution Plaza. She was arrested in December for planning a political performance there. Eyder Peralta/NPR Continue reading
The Caribbean region is returning to sustained growth, with all countries expecting tourist arrivals to increase in 2015 and 2016. However, growth is expected to remain below pre-2007 levels , with regional Continue reading
HAITÍ, 25 de marzo de 2015.- Florance Diperval Guillaume, ministra de Salud Pública y Población de Haití se reunió con los embajadores Ricardo García Nápoles y José Luiz Machado et Costa de Cuba y Brasil Continue reading
Continue reading
Frequent visits to the region by high-ranking Russian officials - culminating this week with a four-nation trip by Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov - and rumors of the sale of military aircraft to countries Continue reading
El informe del IPK llama también la atención sobre "un aumento explosivo de casos de malaria en Venezuela" y afirma que en las primeras nueve semanas del año se reportaron 21.609 casos de malaria en ese país. Continue reading
It's been roughly three months since President Obama repealed the American embargo on all things Cuba , which made travel to and from the island nation easier than it's been in more than 50 years. Americans Continue reading
How to Get Rich in Cuba
By Jeff Siegel
Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

I love this headline...
"Tourists Flocking to See Cuba Before the Americans Come"
Boy, if that doesn't make you feel all warm and fluffy inside.
Of course, by Americans, they're talking about U.S. companies — not
loud, fanny pack-wearing retirees from New Jersey who will be disgusted
by the lack of air conditioning and English-speaking bellmen at their
hotels.
You see, purists and romantics want to see the real Cuba. They want to
see the tobacco plantations of Pinar del Río, the lush tropical forests
of Baracoa, and the warm white sands of Santa Lucia.
They want to drive through the streets of Havana in a 1957 Chevy Bel Air
convertible. They want to smoke authentic Cuban cigars, dance in the
streets with beautiful Cuban women, and retrace the steps of a drunken
Ernest Hemingway while reciting lines from "The Old Man and the Sea."
And they want to do all of this before there's a McDonald's on every
corner and an obnoxious cruise ship in every port.
It's hard not to disagree. After all, I'm planning a trip to Cuba now,
and I'm looking forward to wandering through the "land stuck in time."
I'm looking forward to hour-long philosophical conversations with locals
while sipping real Cuban coffee. I'm looking forward to touring the
urban organic farms that kept the Cuban people well fed after a food
crisis gripped the island nation in the 1990s.
That being said, with the thawing of relations with Cuba will come an
influx of U.S. dollars, U.S. influence, and a wave of opportunities for
those who are eager to invest.

Tourism is Booming!
Once all restrictions are removed, it's estimated that 1.5 million U.S.
travelers will visit Cuba every year. Right now, it's about 600,000.
This would actually put the U.S. ahead of Canada as Cuba's top source of
tourism and result in about $2 billion a year for the Cuban economy.
New hotels, condo developments, and modern supermarkets will likely be
built quickly. New ports will also be constructed to accommodate a wave
of new cruise ship destinations, and in an effort to meet the demands of
a booming tourism industry, a lot of Cubans will find good, steady work.

Big Ag's Coming...
Agriculture giants such as Cargill, Monsanto, and DuPont have been very
aggressive in their quest to have the embargo lifted. After all, Cuba
represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity for them in both import
and export opportunities.
Sadly, this could ultimately undermine the vibrant organic agricultural
system in place right now. And it is likely that Cuba could become the
next big dumping ground for Big Ag's toxic cocktails of pesticides and
herbicides — including glyphosate, which the World Health Organization
just recently declared a probable source of cancer in humans.
But my concerns about this are irrelevant. The fact is, the Big Ag
machine has already conquered Cuba on paper. It's just a matter of time
before those plans are put into action.
And of course, there's enormous opportunity for energy investment.
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Predictions" by our resident expert Jeff Siegel.

The Sun Shines in Cuba
U.S. oil producers, now sitting on a wealth of cheap oil and natural
gas, are eager to sell it to Cuba at a significant discount. And I
suspect Cuba is just as eager to buy it.
Cuba has also set a goal of producing 24% of its own electricity with
renewable energy by 2030. This will be a combination of biomass, hydro,
solar, and wind.
Cuba actually has very strong solar and wind resources available.
Companies like GE (NYSE: GE), SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE), SunPower (NASDAQ:
SPWR), and First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) are likely to benefit. I also
wouldn't be surprised to see a well-capitalized installer/financier like
SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) getting in on the action.

Cafe Cubano
If you're a regular reader of these pages, you also know that I see huge
opportunity in coffee.
Due to extreme weather events and geopolitical drama, African producers
of coffee are struggling to keep pace with demand. Continued drought
conditions, uncommon fluctuations in weather, and the consistent threats
and realities of war are irreparably harming centuries-old coffee
operations.
Meanwhile, the demand for coffee continues to rise.
Now, due to its climate and elevation, Cuba actually has the ability to
produce particularly good coffees. With strong demand from U.S.
consumers, Cuban coffee growers could revitalize the island's coffee trade.
Other commodities Cuba can capitalize on include cacao, coconuts,
pineapples, mangoes, papayas, plantains, and ginger. With its close
proximity to the U.S., there's a huge opportunity here for distributors
to improve margins. And what a great opportunity for job creation in Cuba.
All in all, I'm quite bullish on Cuba going forward.
I knew this ridiculous embargo would eventually be lifted and
free-market principles would ultimately facilitate a peaceful
relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. We're now at the earliest stages
of this relationship, and the opportunities for friendship and
prosperity are enormous.
I will definitely be taking part in both.
To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth...

Jeff Siegel

@JeffSiegel on Twitter
Jeff is the managing editor of Energy and Capital and contributing
analyst for the Energy Investor, an independent investment research
service focusing primarily on stocks in the oil & gas, modern energy and
infrastructure markets.

Source: Investing in Cuba -
http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/investing-in-cuba/4787 Continue reading
Submissiveness in Cuba
March 25, 2015
Kabir Vega Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — Submissiveness is something that I've been aware of in
Cuba ever since elementary school, my first social milieu. There was a
teacher who was treating us abusively, and while he was out of the room
all of us agreed to speak our minds to him. Nevertheless, when the time
came, I was the only one who was willing to act.

In middle and high school, it was exactly the same. We all spoke
terribly about the teachers; we complained, planned to rebel, but in the
end the only thing that everybody turned out to be in full agreement
with was to give up.

Several friends have recently been telling appalling stories about their
experiences in military service: the oppressive atmosphere, the hunger,
the degrading treatment and the general discontent of the young men who
are drafted against their will.

Those that can't stand it opt for extreme solutions like fleeing, which
is also useless, self-harm or even suicide.

Comparing the testimonies of those who are now undergoing this
experience with that of friends who went through it years ago, it's
evident that there have been some minimal changes, although we don't
know if it's because of these same cases or due to complaints that
reached a higher or further ear.

Nonetheless, as far as organized protests are concerned, I don't know of
anybody who has heard of such a thing. One acquaintance told me how the
level of discontent in his unit was such that it seemed impossible to
contain. They talked about rebelling, and even came up with some
strategies, but at the crucial moment, they melted into cowardice. The
most that happened was to see the energy deflected into jokes.

Perhaps one of the strangest examples is that of the state salaries.
Everybody – no exceptions – complains and suffers day by day because
they aren't enough to live on even for a week, not to mention a month.
But the same people continue on at the same jobs, waiting for a
retirement in which the only thing guaranteed them is every kind of
neediness in their old age.

Maybe this is just one more detail about how the human mind works in
this world, or perhaps it's a tendency specific to this society where
one of the first things you learn is to accept everything that doesn't
work and with which you really don't agree.

Nevertheless, I still can't understand how those affected by a situation
could decide to do absolutely nothing to try and change it.

Source: Submissiveness in Cuba - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110216 Continue reading
Havana or Bust: How U.S.-Cuba Relations Will Impact Tourism
Mar 23, 2015

When Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1959, dozens of flights
connected the airports of Miami and Havana on a daily basis, and the
luxury hotels and glittery nightclubs of the Cuban capital were as
common a destination for middle-class Americans as the casinos of Las
Vegas are today. The U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba, imposed in 1960,
put an abrupt end to all that, creating an anomaly that has long defied
geography, technology and globalization: Even as American travelers have
grown increasingly familiar with distant locations in Europe, China,
India and elsewhere, they have been legally banned from visiting the
largest island in the Caribbean, a mere 90 miles from Key West, Florida.

That is about to change. In December, the Obama administration relaxed
those travel restrictions, signaling the beginning of the end of the
travel ban — and, quite possibly, the re-emergence of a major market for
American air carriers, hotel chains, rental car firms and the like. What
impact will these changes in U.S. regulations have on short- and
longer-term U.S. travel to Cuba? And what further changes will have to
be made before Cuba re-emerges as the largest U.S. travel destination in
the Caribbean?

The good news for U.S. travelers is that the new regulations allow
Americans to visit the island for any of a dozen specific reasons,
including family visits, education and religion, without first obtaining
a special license from the U.S. government, as was previously required.
Travelers may now import up to $400 worth of goods per person from Cuba
on their return to the United States, including $100 worth of cigars and
rum. U.S. citizens can now use U.S. credit and debit cards, and U.S.
financial firms can now open accounts at Cuban banks and enroll
merchants there. As of March 1, MasterCard begin to do so in Cuba.

The bad news is that it is still illegal for a U.S. citizen to visit
Cuba with no other goal in mind but to enjoy a week of sun and surf.

A Unique Combination

To fully relax the U.S. travel ban will require the repeal by Congress
of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which extended the territorial
application of the initial embargo to apply to foreign companies trading
with Cuba, and penalized foreign companies that allegedly "trafficked"
in property formerly owned by American citizens but confiscated by Cuba.

Assuming that Congress does eventually repeal Helms-Burton, does Cuba
really have the potential to re-assert itself as a major tourist
destination for Americans?

"It is not easy to do business in a country that is in transition."–Hugo
Cancio

Stephen Kobrin, a Wharton emeritus management professor, notes that Cuba
benefits from a unique combination of advantages: It is both
geographically close to the U.S., yet exotic because of the history of
its relationship with the United States. While it's only a one-hour
flight from Miami International Airport, Cuba is considered "fascinating
… forbidden fruit" because of its long isolation from the currents of
globalization, which has left many of its landscapes suspended in time.
Over the past several decades, Cuba has developed a significant appeal
for budget-minded European and Canadian travelers attracted by this
spirit of "adventure tourism." Such travelers are willing to accept
relatively spartan facilities well below the standards demanded by
middle-tier and upscale American travelers.

"If and when Cuba opens up [completely to the United States]," Kobrin
asks, "will they have the infrastructure to handle" the coming surge of
travelers who demand more luxurious amenities Twitter ?

Tomas Bilbao, executive director of the nonprofit Cuba Study Group,
which manages such initiatives as the Cuba Study Group Microfinance
Fund, the Cuban Enterprise Fund, and the Cuba IT and Social Media
Initiative, argues that Cuban tourism should benefit not just from its
proximity to the United States, but "its cultural affinity" to the U.S.
Hispanic community, and from nostalgia about the good old days when
flying off to Cuba for a brief vacation was commonplace.

Apart from Havana, with its penchant for 1950s-era American cars, Cuba
is an island of natural beauty, endowed with "some nice beaches" and a
significant natural diversity, says Bilbao, whose organization is based
in Washington, D.C. Moreover, Cuba is "one of the safest places for an
American tourist to visit," in stark contrast to such Latin American
destinations as Brazil, Venezuela and some Caribbean islands.

Eddie Lubbers, who runs the Cuban Travel Network, an online travel
portal, agrees with that assessment. Hosted in the Netherlands, his
company's website enables travelers from the U.S. to book land-tour
reservations in Cuba, but not to buy air tickets to that country.
Although "tourism" by Americans is still illegal, if they fit into one
of the 12 authorized categories, American travelers to Cuba are not
officially considered "tourists" by the Treasury Department's Office of
Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which oversees such travel.

The process of qualifying for such an OFAC-authorized category is
"self-censoring," says Lubbers, making it more unlikely than in the past
that anyone will be found to have been violating U.S. law. Not only has
supervision of the rules become more lax, but it's also become easier
for Americans to mix the pleasures of being a tourist in Cuba with the
business of building "people-to-people" ties. Many U.S. visitors who
travel to Cuba ostensibly for cultural, business, humanitarian and other
theoretically non-touristic goals engage in a wide range of leisure
activities. Such diversions include catamaran tours on the turquoise
waters of the Caribbean Sea; walking and driving tours of Havana seated
in vintage 1950s American vehicles, and excursions to such remote
tobacco-growing locales as the Viñales Valley, a unique landscape dotted
with gigantic "mogotes" — karst formations — "surrounding a lovely
valley with rich red earth and majestic palm trees," according to the
Cuba Travel Network site. Travel agents say that those U.S. travelers
(not to be confused with "tourists") who spend at least some of their
time on the island pursuing cultural, business or humanitarian goals are
free to enjoy dinner at a restaurant in a historic Havana fortress,
listen to salsa performers or attend a "phenomenal show at the Cabaret
Parisien" — all without violating the spirit of the waning U.S. embargo.

"It will take time for Cuba to be fully ready to take advantage of these
new conditions, but they are working on it…."–Hugo Cancio

Potholes and Incomplete Highways

Although Lubbers lauds the availability of compact European-made rental
cars, Bilbao notes that getting around Cuba can be a challenge. "The
[road] signs are nonexistent, there are large potholes and the central
highway remains incomplete." Not only do the amenities in most Cuban
hotels lag behind those in other Caribbean locations, the phones don't
work, says Bilbao. The Obama administration's recent move to allow U.S.
phone companies to do business in Cuba should help in this regard, along
with the arrival of U.S. credit card companies to provide services on
the island.

"It is not easy to do business in a country that is in transition," says
Cuba-born Hugo Cancio, chief executive of Miami-based Fuego Enterprises,
which represents U.S. companies that want to do business in Cuba. "Cuba
has built a very solid infrastructure in European tourism markets,"
Cancio notes. "While there are several 'five-star' hotels," — mostly
operated by the Sol Meliá group of Spain, which has 26 hotels in Cuba —
"there are not enough five-star hotels to accommodate an explosion of
American tourists." A lot of private homes are also being turned into
hotels — properties that Cancio described as "wonderful" because of
their unique, local charm. Giant chains such as Hilton International and
Marriott have issued statements indicating that they look forward to
opening hotels in Cuba, presumably after the embargo is lifted.

"It will take time for Cuba to be fully ready to take advantage of these
new conditions," Cancio concludes, "But they are working on it. No one
was expecting the announcements of the relaxation of controls…. There
will be gradual change. When the embargo is officially lifted, the
Cubans will be ready."

A 30% Uptick

How vast is the potential for Cuba tourism in the longer term? Lubbers
says that after President Obama relaxed controls on American travel in
Cuba in December, "our business went up 30% in January." Virtually
overnight, "the United States has become our No. 1 market," he adds,
followed by Canada, Great Britain and Germany, and other European
countries that had been his main sources of business. According to
Lubbers, even before January's announcement by President Obama, American
travelers were always among his agency's top five sources of business.
Many were flying to Cuba via stopovers through international cities that
offer scheduled flights to Havana, especially Panama City, Panama;
Cancun, Mexico, and Nassau, Bahamas. In all, some 124,000 American
travelers were authorized to travel to Cuba last year, a drop in the
bucket compared with the 20 million or so Americans who traveled to
Mexico in 2013.

Within weeks, Lubbers expects his Cuba Travel Network will be able to
offer Americans the option of purchasing tickets online for the
chartered U.S.-Cuba flights that are already licensed. Soon thereafter,
anticipates Lubbers, U.S. carriers such as Jet Blue, American Airlines
and Delta will start offering scheduled flights to Havana from U.S.
airports, especially Miami. Those airlines have already announced their
desire to provide such service. "That is now only a matter of bilateral
discussions" between U.S. and Cuban officials, he notes. For that to
happen, however, the embargo first has to be ended officially by Congress.

"Cubans are unlikely to make the instant transition to capitalism. The
Eastern Europeans were revolting against external domination, but in
Cuba, [the adoption of Communism] was an internal process."–Stephen Kobrin

How long will that take? Naturally, no one knows for sure. Cancio says
that he is "optimistic that before the end of [the Obama]
administration, the embargo will be lifted." Some observers believe that
the embargo will more likely be lifted quickly if the next president is
a Democrat, but the Congress is controlled by Republicans, Cancio notes.

Even if the next president turns out to be a Republican, Cancio is
confident that U.S.-Cuba economic ties — in the tourism sector and
elsewhere — will continue to deepen because of growing support among a
broad cross-section of the exile community in the United States. "The
majority of Cubans in Miami want to lift the embargo," he says, noting
that 90% of the businesses that are flourishing in Cuba today are
"Miami-owned by Americans." Anybody who visits the island and chats with
Cubans who live there knows that investments have been made by Cubans
who live abroad, Cancio says. "The small and medium-size private
businesses that are developing [in Cuba] are mostly doing so thanks to
capital that is being invested by those who live outside the country.
Some experts have estimated the rate of remittances to Cuba at $2
billion annually, and close to 50% of that is being invested, or planned
for investment, in small businesses."

Faquiry Diaz Cala, a Miami-based venture capitalist and private-equity
investor, says that "tourism is a great way to get dollars into the
Cuban economy. It will spur a significant number of small tour
operators" and promote further development, as well as more conversions
of small homes into European-style bed-and-breakfast establishments and
small restaurants — known as "paladares" — for travelers "looking for
history" and an authentic experience, rather than for familiar high-end
luxuries.

Kobrin wonders how quickly the Cuban government will commit itself to
opening up to foreign investment so that it can attract the large-scale
capital influx that Cuba will need in order to develop a modern
infrastructure, which in turn would attract a higher volume of
travelers, including upscale travelers.

Unlike the peoples of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the
Berlin Wall, "the Cubans are unlikely to make the instant transition to
capitalism," Kobrin suggests. "The Eastern Europeans were revolting
against external domination" — that is to say, against the communism
imposed on them by the Soviet Union shortly after World War II. "But in
Cuba, it was an internal process." Moreover, despite the hardships
suffered by the Cuban people over the decades, the Cuban state has not
entirely lost the support of its population, and "they are not likely to
ditch the state-controlled system" in its entirety. In addition, the
normalization of Cuba's economic relationship with the U.S. will require
the two countries to settle all claims for properties expropriated by
the Cuban regime in defiance of international law. More positively,
despite their pride in going it alone for decades, the Cuban people have
"very mixed feelings about the United States," including affection for
such emblematic symbols of American culture as baseball and classic cars.

Cancio advises the travel industry in other Caribbean countries not to
be afraid of the coming wave of tourism to Cuba. For Puerto Rico and the
smaller islands of the Caribbean, the key to survival, he advises, will
be to promote Cuba as one of several multiple destinations in the travel
packages of the future. One example might be to market trips that
comprise two or three nights in San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by a few
nights in Havana and then another few nights at a third nearby
destination. Rather than struggle against the tide of Cuba's resurgence,
he says, the other islands of the Caribbean would do better to embrace
Cuba as a partner in their joint efforts to expand the appeal of the
entire region.

Source: What the Changes in U.S.-Cuba Relations Mean for Tourism -
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/what-the-changes-in-us-cuba-relations-mean-for-caribbean-tourism/ Continue reading

El periódico Granma publica hoy miércoles un amplio reportaje sobre la producción de leche en la provincia de Camagüey. El escenario descrito es desalentador y confirma la tendencia a la baja en cuanto a entregas del preciado alimento. Camagüey presenta desde el año 2012 un decrecimiento sostenido en la producción lechera y en su venta a la industria, tanto en el sector cooperativo como privado.

Aunque en los últimos cinco párrafos se esbozan con moderado optimismo las potencialidades del programa de recuperación del sector, la lectura del texto, firmado por el periodista Miguel Febles, revela un problema que se extiende a muchos sectores de la economía y que podría resumirse en la afirmación de que la burocracia sigue siendo el más pesado lastre que arrastra la producción de alimentos en Cuba.

La síntesis del problema planteado es que los ganaderos deben entregar la leche que producen a un centro de acopio determinado. Allí se toman muestras para evaluar la calidad de cada entrega, lo que se relaciona con el precio del producto. Sin embargo, en lugar de pagar a cada uno según el tipo de alimento que llevó al centro, lo que se hace es medir la calidad promedio del conjunto que se vertió en el termo y se paga a cada campesino el precio que se deriva del promedio. El resultado es la desmotivación por elevar la calidad.

[[QUOTE:La producción lechera en Cuba solo cubre el 50% de la demanda nacional, por lo que el país necesita importar la mitad de la leche que consume]]Uno de los entrevistados, Alexis Gil Pérez, director general de la Empresa Provincial de Productos Lácteos, explica que no se mantienen contractuales con los campesinos individuales sino con "la base productiva". Gil Pérez sostiene que no se está violando ningún procedimiento. "Si hay criterios o insatisfacciones, habrá que entrar a revisar los documentos rectores de la actividad, decisión que solo compete a las instancias nacionales", agrega. "Mientras, hay que ajustarse a lo establecido. No está dentro de mis facultades variar los rangos de compra de la leche".

En un acto celebrado en Camagüey el 26 de julio de 2007, el general Raúl Castro expresó que cada cubano tendría que tener la posibilidad de tomarse un vaso de leche. Transcurridos casi ocho años de aquel fallido deseo, el propósito inmediato ni siquiera es perfeccionar la distribución de lo que se colecta, sino detener el decrecimiento de la producción lechera que se observa en esa provincia desde 2012.

La producción lechera en Cuba solo cubre el 50% de la demanda nacional, por lo que el país necesita importar la mitad de la leche que consume. Su distribución está controlada por el Gobierno y no se permite su comercialización ni la de productos lácteos de manera privada ni en los mercados agropecuarios.

Continue reading
How a Miami business incubator, and a hashtag, helped thaw U.S.-Cuba
relations
By Francisco AlvaradoPublished March 25, 2015 Fox News Latino

At LabMiami, a technology business incubator located in Miami's trendy
Wynwood neighborhood, Ric Herrero wages a national campaign using
traditional and social media that has played a significant role in
thawing frosty relations between the United States and Cuba. As
executive director of #CubaNow, Herrero is the public face of an
organization backed by prominent Cuban-American businessmen in Miami who
want to end the embargo.

"Several individuals, myself included, thought it was time to make an
aggressive move to change the U.S. policy toward Cuba during Obama's
second term," Herrero said. "We launched last April to send a clear
message to the White House."

That message was first delivered via posters on Washington, D.C., subway
cars showing Obama and blaring the headline, "Stop Waiting."

#CubaNow followed up by sending the president a letter on May 15, 2014,
urging him to use his executive powers to lift travel restrictions,
allow American businesses to support independent Cuban entrepreneurs and
expand the country's telecommunications infrastructure, among a slew of
other reforms.

Signed by 78 individuals from the Republican and the Democratic parties,
the letter included several heavyweight Cuban-American players such as
former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola, former U.S. Ambassador Paul
Cejas, sugar barons Alfonso and Andres Fanjul and healthcare executive
and longtime Bush family ally Mike Fernandez.

The goal, Herrero said, was to drive home a new narrative that a
majority of Cuban-Americans oppose the last 51 years of isolationism.
"Change will only come from within Cuba," Herrero said. "By expanding
the flow of commerce between U.S. businesses and the Cuban people, they
can be in a better position to demand greater changes from the Cuban
government."

The letter helped convince the Obama administration that Cuban-Americans
were onboard with his plan to start discussions with Cuban President
Raúl Castro, said Ralph Patino, a lawyer based in Coral Gables who is
one of #CubaNow's founding members.

"This notion that the president didn't consult with Cuban-Americans in
Miami is not true," Patino said. "The administration had boots on the
ground, talking to individuals like myself and getting feedback from us."

During his first trip to the island in early 2014, Patino recalled, he
realized it was time to end the exile hardliner approach.

"Living in Miami, you are conditioned into thinking you are going to
find extreme oppression and extreme misery in Cuba," Patino said. "To
the contrary, I found people to be optimistic about a future
relationship with the U.S. To make change possible, we have to open up
our trade borders and allow for the free exchange of ideas."

Over the summer, #CubaNow gained momentum. Herrero met twice with
officials from the Obama administration in Washington, D.C., and Miami.

During both encounters, Herrero said, he discussed three objectives:
Empowering the Cuban people, applying pressure on the Cuban government
to embrace greater democratic reforms and advancing the interests of the
U.S.

However, Herrero said, he was not privy to the negotiations between
Obama and Castro that led to the historic agreement in December to swap
political prisoners and begin the process of reestablishing diplomatic
relations.

"We knew as far back as September that something was in the works,"
Herrero said. "But we had no idea of the breadth and scope of what Obama
laid out in December. We were surprised by how bold the president's move
was."

As U.S. state department officials have continued talks with the Cuban
government, Patino said he wants to see #CubaNow stay on the offensive.
"We need to keep pushing back the old dogmatic thought process that we
should maintain the embargo," he said. "I'd like to see #CubaNow become
the go-to organization for congressional delegations that want to visit
Cuba."

To that end, #CubaNow is establishing relationships with members of
Congress who want to end the embargo, Herrero said.

"Most of the resistance is from the Cuban-American members of the south
Florida caucus who have never really been challenged about their
opposition," he said. "However, we are looking forward to working with
other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who want to change
U.S. policy toward Cuba."


Francisco Alvarado is a freelance journalist in South Florida.

Source: How a Miami business incubator, and a hashtag, helped thaw
U.S.-Cuba relations | Fox News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2015/03/25/how-miami-business-incubator-and-hashtag-helped-thaw-us-cuba-relations/ Continue reading
Cuba specialists optimistic US trade embargo will end
Alan M. Field, Contributing Editor | Mar 25, 2015 10:50AM EDT

Phil Peters, president of Cuba Research Center, a nonprofit organization
in Alexandria, Virginia, says the U.S. and Cuba have been making
progress in normalizing their diplomatic and trade ties, and overcoming
political opposition within the United States to the Obama
administration's clear desire to end the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba. "I
choose to be optimistic," Peters said. After all, we are talking about a
relationship with 50 years of some pretty heavy baggage on both sides.
The first step is taking a while, but that doesn't particularly
discourage me."

Peters, a Cuba specialist who spent most of February on the island, told
a March 23 webinar on the U.S.-Cuba relationships, sponsored by the
Inter-American Dialogue, that the Cuban government is now managing
expectations about what comes next, following the sweeping, surprising
announcements made by the Obama administration last December. The Cuban
government is now "taking great pains to explain exactly what was done
and what was not done," including the "reach of the change in the travel
regulations and the change in the trade regulations" in order "to
enumerate all the parts of the embargo that are still in place."

"I think the Cuban people are delighted with what has happened" over the
past few months," Peters said.

The Cuban people appreciate the fact that President Obama in his speech
last December made it clear the U.S. wants "prosperity" for the Cuban
people; that the U.S. doesn't want Cuba to be a "failed state," Peters
said. Obama invited the U.S. Congress to end the embargo. Although his
executive actions are limited by his executive authority, "he made it
clear that he disagrees with the animating idea about the embargo, which
is to weaken the Cuban economy and force political change," rather than
make Cuba wealthy enough to become a full-fledged member of the global
trading community. "So it is quite a departure."

Peters added, "The regulations President Obama issued a month ago are, I
think, very well done. They're clearly written by a president who would
like to see the embargo go. He took his authority as far as it could go
to make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba; and to make it easier
for American businesses to involve themselves in the travel business.
And in every instance to do so without having to write the Treasury
Department and wait for them to mail you a license back. It is all by
what Treasury calls a 'general license' — and in trade relations to
[enable] the exports that are permitted [to be] done under what the
Commerce Department calls 'license exceptions,' which allow exporters to
self-execute.

"The first step is going to wind up being two steps, I believe. We are
going to get full diplomatic relations, and the Obama administration
will have completed its process of notifying congress that Cuba is no
longer on the list of state sponsors of terrorism — another long overdue
thing. Like any opportunity, this is what we make of it. For those of us
who'd like to see the relationship with Cuba prosper — for many reasons,
including that Cuba is approaching a period of great change and
generational leadership — the opportunity is in front of us, and we have
an opportunity to engage" with Cuba. "I hope we'll seize the opportunity."

Devry Boughner Vorwerk, vice president, corporate affairs at Cargill,
the global agribusiness giant, said Cargill has "always been against
unilateral sanctions in agricultural trade." In 2000, Cargill and other
firms worked hard to "make sure that there was an opening for
humanitarian food trade to Cuba, and we shipped one of the first [such]
vessels to the port of Havana. Since then, Cuba has been a customer of
Cargill."

Nevertheless, "I have realized that it is very challenging in Cuba,
given some of the credit restrictions that we have placed on U.S.
farmers and U.S. exporters. We hit a peak in 2008 with about $700
million in U.S. exports that year. This year, we're down to $300
million." Vorwerk said she thinks the Cuban market has the potential to
be "about a $2 billion market."

However, because of the self-imposed U.S. trade embargo, Vorwerk said,
"We've seen that countries like Brazil, and countries from the European
Union and even Vietnam have been taking that market share away from U.S.
farmers. We think that it is quite a shame that U.S. farmers have their
hands tied behind their backs." The U.S. is trading barely any meat —
and there's no rice — into Cuba. "But we have great hopes that at some
point we'll be able to do what we do best: to ship U.S. commodities and
high-value food products to Cuba."

Vorwerk added, "We recognized that there is a great need for initial
investment. The Cubans see that "it is in their best interests to
diversify the FDI that is coming in. And charting their own course." On
Jan. 8, 2015, Cargill helped launch the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for
Cuba. "People said that we launched it because of the president's
announcement, but that was not true. It was planned long in advance [in
May 2014]. We started it with about 20 organizations as members, but
since the president's announcement, we are up to well over 80
organizations."

Vorwerk said the president's announcement has made the U.S. farm and
agricultural community aware that Cuba could return to being a
significant market for U.S. agriculture exports. Companies are saying,
"We want to do the right thing; we want to end the embargo."

Although it was very clear since last May that forming this coalition
was aimed at ending the embargo, the members had no idea that the
president was going to "make such an expansive announcement. We made the
decision that we weren't just going to go for fixing the credit issue,
or for one-way trade with Cuba." There is great potential for two-way
trade, she said. "It doesn't make any sense to ship [American] food to
people who can't afford it. We'd like to see development take place" in
Cuba, so that people can increase their choices "as opposed to being
stuck in the situation they are in.

"We believe that even on the Hill [in Congress], there is broad
bipartisan support for what we are trying to achieve," Vorwerk said.
"There are some important people who believe the opposite of us. We know
that not everyone agrees with us, but for the most part, if you look at
opinion polls across the United States, the majority of Americans agree
with what we are trying to achieve, which is to end the embargo."

John Epstein, a partner at the law firm Holland and Knight, said that
"the flood gates have opened." Although "the actual changes in
regulations are not that big" yet, his firm has been contacted by a wide
range of firms – including in such sectors as aviation, hotels, and
cruise lines – who are newly interested in preparing the way to invest
in and/or trade with Cuba. Epstein, who has assisted both U.S. and
non-U.S. clients with compliance issues related to the embargo with Cuba
since the late 1990s, said that "the Obama administration has been very
good at using the gradual relaxation of sanctions as a foreign policy
tool" — not just with respect to Cuba, but with countries such as Iran
and Burma (Myanmar).

Contact Alan M. Field at alanfield0@gmail.com.

Source: Cuba specialists optimistic US trade embargo will end | JOC.com
-
http://www.joc.com/international-trade-news/cuba-specialists-optimistic-us-trade-embargo-will-end_20150325.html Continue reading
… and Montenegro and de-listing 59 Cuban fishing, shipping and tourism companies … . embargo against Cuba. ” He also “worked for the Cuban Export-Import Corporation (CIMEX) and administered one of Cuba’s … Continue reading
Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega said that the new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations will be "very beneficial" for the Catholic Church on the island, adding that the dialogue between the Church and the government Continue reading
A man waved a small American flag and then performed a backflip on the sands of South Beach to celebrate becoming a U.S. citizen. "It was a long process, but I made it," said Felix Galera, who was born Continue reading

(EFE).- El cardenal cubano Jaime Ortega afirmó que el nuevo capítulo de relaciones que viven Cuba y Estados Unidos será "muy beneficioso" para la Iglesia Católica de la Isla y aseguró que el diálogo de ésta con el Gobierno de Raúl Castro no tiene "ruptura" y "continúa".

La máxima autoridad católica de Cuba se refiere a esos temas en una extensa entrevista publicada en el último número de la revista católica cubana Palabra Nueva, a propósito del papel mediador que jugó la Iglesia, y en particular el papa Francisco, en el proceso de negociación entre La Habana y Washington.

"Lo que ocurrió el 17 de diciembre fue un acontecimiento histórico, uno de los más grandes en la historia de Cuba, como lo fue la visita del Papa Juan Pablo II, como lo fue la revolución cubana", opinó Ortega, quien cree que "el pueblo (cubano) en general se alegra ante esta nueva situación".

Consideró que "para la Iglesia será muy beneficiosa" la mejoría en las relaciones bilaterales, en concreto para su "misión caritativa", pues facilitará la recepción de ayuda exterior cuyos trámites se dificultan por el embargo económico de EE UU a Cuba.

El también arzobispo de La Habana dijo que conversó sobre esas restricciones con la secretaria de Estado adjunta de EE UU para América Latina, Roberta Jacobson, quien encabeza la delegación estadounidense en el diálogo con Cuba, y agregó que "participantes" de ambos lados creen que el papel de la Iglesia en este proceso "debe continuar".

Por otro lado, Ortega lamentó que en muchos cubanos exista un "escepticismo" de tipo "economicista" que limita las expectativas del acercamiento bilateral a qué repercusión tengan en su bolsillo, y advirtió de que "tal pensamiento los hace víctimas de un individualismo que se ha creado en Cuba, quizás como reacción exagerada al colectivismo".

[[QUOTE:Ortega lamentó que en muchos cubanos exista un "escepticismo" de tipo "economicista" que limita las expectativas del acercamiento bilateral a qué repercusión tengan en su bolsillo]]"Hace falta altruismo, capacidad patriótica, de pensamiento elevado que lleve a pensar en la nación, en el futuro, de una manera muy amplia (...) quizás todo esto sucede porque los cubanos se han acostumbrado a no participar, sino a ser espectadores de los acontecimientos, pero la acción queda para la historia, el papel de ambos presidentes, del Papa, de la Iglesia", sostuvo.

Al ser preguntado sobre otro marco de diálogo, el abierto en 2010 por la Iglesia y el Gobierno cubano que permitió la excarcelación de decenas de presos políticos en la isla, manifestó que "se ha establecido un proceso de gran fluidez que debe continuar".

"Se sigue dialogando, no hay una ruptura de diálogo. Esperamos que pueda producirse un acuerdo a nivel de la Santa Sede con el Estado cubano sobre la Iglesia en Cuba, en el que se recoja todo lo alcanzado, se precise que eso se mantendrá para siempre y quede, además, un marco abierto para seguir adelante", subrayó.

Recordó que como fruto de ese intercambio, tuvo lugar la devolución de templos a la iglesia, una medida que "continúa de manera progresiva", y otros hechos "sucedieron en silencio" como la autorización de entrada al país de religiosos a los que las autoridades cubanas no lo permitían.

Ortega, que el año pasado celebró sus 50 años de sacerdocio, recalcó que la Iglesia en Cuba "ha dado siempre pasos pequeños, sostenidos, progresivos, hacia adelante" y apuntó que "lo que se obtiene una vez, queda perennemente".

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AFP WASHINGTON--The United States on Tuesday removed sanctions on nearly five dozen shipping companies, trading firms and individuals that had been blacklisted for links to Cuba. The sweeping delisting Continue reading
Cuba noticias, Arroyo Naranjo, La Habana, (PD) El pastor Manuel Alberto Morejón Soler, supervisor general de la Alianza Cristiana, entró en la primera semana del ayuno de alimentos sólidos que inició el pasado 17 de marzo en demanda de la promulgación de una Ley de Cultos y la liberación del pastor Jesús Noel Carballeda. En carta abierta al general Raúl Castro, presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, […] Continue reading
… District January 27, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Construction materials are extremly limited … opening help the Cuban people? My belief is that Cubans will benefit … will Obama’s actions benefit Cubans? Allowing increased remittances will have … impact on the lives of Cubans. Cubans have always been resourceful when … Continue reading
Cuba noticias, La Lisa, La Habana, (PD) Haber confundido al nieto del general Raúl Castro con un vendedor callejero le costó ser degradado a un oficial de la Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR). La confusión del oficial ocurrió el pasado 13 de marzo, alrededor de las 10:00 am, en la esquina de 3ra y 70, en Miramar, durante un operativo contra los vendedores que no tienen licencia. El oficial le pidió […] Continue reading
Cuba noticias, El Cerro, La Habana, (PD) El lunes 2 de marzo, se desplomó parte del balcón de la segunda planta de una edificación que llevaba algún tiempo apuntalada, ubicada en la esquina de la Calzada 10 de Octubre y la calle Serafines, en el municipio capitalino Diez de Octubre. A pesar de las numerosas personas y vehículos que transitan por el lugar, no hubo lesionados. Para Cuba noticias: elhidalgo2013@gmail.com […] Continue reading