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Daily Archives: April 19, 2015

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A resident casts her vote during municipal elections in Havana, Cuba, on April 19, 2015. Some eight million Cuban voters took part in Sunday-elections to elect delegates to the People's Power assemblies. Continue reading
Both dissident candidates in Cuba's first local elections since a historic thaw in U.S. relations have conceded defeat after preliminary results showed them losing. Hildebrando Chaviano and Yuniel Continue reading
… triumphantly entered a "free Havana." More than 52 years … war. Those average Cubans, embracing their cousins in Havana's Terminal … are going back to a Havana that is being revitalized little … promise of normalization floating over Cuba. A CubaNews translation by William Whitney … Continue reading

El presidente de la Cámara Baja de Estados Unidos, el republicano John Boehner, aseguró este domingo que confía en que el Congreso intente frenar algunas de las medidas que el presidente Barack Obama está tomando respecto a Cuba mediante un proceso de presupuesto que comenzará a finales de este mes, informa EFE.

En una entrevista con la cadena de televisión Fox News, Boehner lamentó la decisión de Obama de retirar a Cuba de la lista de Estados patrocinadores del terrorismo que elabora anualmente el Departamento de Estado, y que supone la imposición de sanciones. 

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… outside the Communist Party since Cuba's electoral law was … a loophole," Chaviano explained. Cuban citizens queue to vote at … station in Nautico neighbourhood in Havana, on April 19, 2015, during … and European governments. Washington and Havana in December announced plans to … Continue reading
In mid-March, a prisoner of war advocacy group issued a statement regarding Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's address before a joint session of U.S. Congress. The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Continue reading
In a passage about today’s elections, the Communist Party newspaper "Granma" says that “every citizen has the right to a single vote […] regardless of [his] political position.” DiariodeCuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes [1]*, Havana, 19 April 2015 -- The daily Granma, in its Wednesday, April 15 edition, brings a timid message of opening hidden in an article about the Cuban electoral system.  The mention that “in the process of electing delegates to the Municipal Assemblies the vote is characterized as being:  free, equal, secret, direct, nominal and preferential (Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez)” may not call the attention of many readers. However, the mentioned authors make a contribution to the Constitution of the Republic itself when they explain that “every citizen has the right to a single vote and of equal value, without regard to race, religious belief, skin color, political position.” The passage, although incomplete in my opinion, obviously is supported and inspired by Article 42 of the Cuban Constitution which says:  “Discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious belief, and any other offense against human dignity is proscribed and prohibited by law.” The substitution, however, of the phrase “any other offense against human dignity” by the more specific “political position” is noteworthy for being the first time that there appears in the official organ of the Communist Party an admission that different political positions exist in Cuba and above all, that they have equal value. The express recognition by the mentioned jurists that Cuban political thought is not a single one but is rich in its diversity, as in any other country on the globe, is the first public gesture that could lead to a lifting of the strict blockade on ideas imposed since 1959.  Some may think that the Government is manipulating a sensitive topic in order to ingratiate itself with old and new friends, but at this point speculating with pretty words does not seem smart. Moreover, and at the risk of being accused of being a dreamer, naïve and even a collaborationist, this could well be the antecedent of future changes announced in an obsolete Constitution whose roots date to 1917 and which stopped being justifiable many years ago, above all in Latin America, a natural environment in which Cuba seeks to insert itself but where the left is not entirely red but more pink, generally respecting the market economy and democratic institutions. “Chavista” Venezuela constitutes the exception to the political pragmatism of the Latin American left; taken by the hand of Castro I, it jumped into the abyss into which apparently Castro II does not wish to accompany it; he increasingly distances himself from his predecessor, undoing as he can the inherited absolutist framework. Triana Cordovi in Economics and Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez in Law, are for the moment isolated authorized voices whose academic discourse has nothing to do with the Real Socialism defended with shouts and blows in Panama a few days ago. All of Cuban society is obligated to force the necessary changes.  In the same way that according to those illustrious professors the votes of those who have a different political position are equally valid, so is the candidacy of anyone who does not profess the Communist faith. Discrimination on the basis of political ideas is as offensive to human dignity as racial discrimination; a change with respect to the official discourse tempered with the current times would go a long the way to replace the absurd ideological hatreds with tolerance and civilized dialog among all Cubans, for the good of all Cuba. *Translator's note: Hildebrando Chaviano Montes [1] is an opposition candidate for the local People's Power; the regime allowed his candidacy but his "biography" (the only campaigning allowed) identifies him as a "counterrevolutionary... funded by foreign groups." Translated by MLK [1] http://translatingcuba.com/many-voters-will-not-vote-for-me-cubanet-orlando-freire-santana/ [2] http://translatingcuba.com/many-voters-will-not-vote-for-me-cubanet-orlando-freire-santana/ Continue reading
[1] Juan Juan Almeida, 26 March 2015 — The online Brazilian portal Jornal Da Band denounced the social welfare program Más Médicos (More Doctors), which is aimed at the most needy sectors of the Brazilian population, and deploys Cuban doctors to places where the Brazilian physicians do not want to work, as having been conceived as a way to transfer resources to the Island’s regime, and as an economic boost. Thought-provoking, but it seems to me simplistic to view in this type of humanitarian invasion just a simple economic undercurrent. It is necessary to know that Cuban involvement in healthcare started in the Algeria of 1963, when a health crisis and trachoma epidemic were ferociously taking over the Algerian territory. The Cuban ambassador at the time, Commander Jorge “Papito” Serguera, proposed to the Algerian health minister, a certain Mr. Bumasa, to confront the situation with aid of Cuban doctors. The Algerians accepted this proposal, and Seguera took his idea to Havana and spoke with Manuel “Barbarroja” Piñeiro, who in turn presented it to Fidel Castro. The latter, with canine astuteness, smelled the opportunity to penetrate through other fronts into African territory. Algerian public health was strengthened, the pandemic was eliminated, and the work of Cuban medical personnel spread rapidly through Africa to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America and the Caribbean–acting as a force to promote multi-million-dollar contracts and take control of strategic countries such as Qatar, China, South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil. At this time, Cuban medical personnel are present in 66 countries of the world — 40 of which receive the service at no cost, and another 26 which pay for it and generate revenues above and beyond a staightforward social program. The most conservative figures reported by the official media show that the exportation of these volunteer workers — who include physicians, ophthalmologists, healthcare technicians and service personnel — brings in more than $5.5 billion annually, which makes it the principal line item in the Cuban economy. Even so, besides the clear economic and humanitarian factors, the Cuban health program has other objectives. If it is true that Cuban doctors, as overseas volunteer workers, tend to a population of scarce resources, it is also true that they offer very diligent services to certain members of families that are not so disadvantaged. Jornal Da Band will be surprised to know the extensive list of important political figures, influential personalities and world celebrities who have been patients in the Island. But, why mention them? I feel that, to quote Che’s sadly famous missive, “There is no point in scribbling pages.” And the crushing truth is that the Cuban volunteers, besides being professionals, also know how to be persons, how to develop friendships, and to break the almost inhuman distance that certain medical protocols create between doctor and patient. It is not necessary to explain that healthcare requires commitment. I myself do not belong to that group that is willing to dedicate their lives to the noble cause of the homeland, but I would gladly give it for who would save my child, a friend, or an ill relative. Therefore, politically speaking, even more than ideology and making money, the Cuban medical missions have as their primary objective creating an army of the grateful spread throughout the world, who occupy an important place in the social sphere, who remain motivated and invisible, but ever at the ready to take action and speak favorably about Cuban medicine, the Cuban Revolution, and its hysterical leaders. Oops, the spell-checker played a trick on me! I meant to say, “historical.” The Cuban medical programs have basic objectives: political, economic, humanitarian and caregiving. Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison [1] https://lavozdelmorroen.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/1427416388_medicos.jpg Continue reading

Rosa López

“Vengo a votar temprano, porque sino mi madre no me deja tranquila”, afirma con picardía una joven cuando la primera luz del amanecer entra en el consultorio médico de su barrio convertido hoy en colegio electoral. A pesar del énfasis puesto por la propaganda oficial en estas elecciones municipales del Poder Popular, una buena parte de los cubanos percibe que nada o muy poco cambiará con las boletas colocadas en las urnas.

Los padres de Leonor, que han nacido y crecido en el “proceso”, le aclararon desde hace semanas que si pretende tener una carrera universitaria no debe incluirse en la lista de quienes se abstienen de participar. “Sólo es venir y hacer una marca en un papel”, dice ella, al restarle importancia al asunto, minutos después de que han cantado el himno nacional y precintado la urna a la vista de los tres miembros de la mesa electoral de su zona.

Los días previos a las votaciones de este domingo han sido un frenesí propagandístico, con grandes despliegues en los medios nacionales. La fecha ha coincidido además con los sucesos de Playa Girón, por lo que el gobierno tramita los comicios como un gran campo de batalla, donde todos saben quién saldrá vencedor. Sin embargo, poco puede hacer el oficialismo para agregarle pasión a un mecanismo que los votantes perciben con más visos simbólicos que prácticos.

[[QUOTE:“Lo que se sabe no se pregunta”, dice en voz queda la joven cuando se indaga qué candidato saldrá elegido en su circunscripción]]

Para muchos se trata de una rutina sin sorpresas; para otros una novedad que ven como un juego en lugar de un ejercicio democrático. Es el caso de Leonor, quien con 16 años ya participó en tres procesos anteriores como una pionerita de uniforme y pañoleta que custodiaba la urna. Hoy, ejercerá por primera vez junto a otros 63.440 jóvenes cubanos, su derecho al voto y quiere terminar cuanto antes. Una vez que pase por el colegio electoral, le espera una intensa jornada con su padre que llega de la Florida después de dos años. Al igual que él, la muchacha aspira a votar pronto con los pies, marchándose del país.

“Lo que se sabe no se pregunta”, dice en voz queda la joven cuando se indaga qué candidato saldrá elegido en su circunscripción. El actual delegado lleva en el cargo todos los años que tiene Leonor en su memoria, y ella nunca ha conocido otro parlamento que esa Asamblea Nacional que aplaude y vota por unanimidad. Con tan corta edad, ya tiene la apática postura de un anciano que ha visto la vida pasar como un ciclo que se repite sin cambios.

Hay otros, no obstante, que aún guardan algo de entusiasmo. A pocos metros de la casa de la nueva votante, un señor que mastica tabaco y se viste con la ropa del extinto mercado racionado industrial, ha pasado todo el sábado repartiendo unos papelitos que explicaba no eran “citaciones”, sino una “información” para avisar la dirección del colegio electoral y el horario en que estaría abierto. El jubilado y miembro del Partido Comunista ha perdido la cuenta de en cuántas elecciones ha participado. “Yo era de los que sacaba a la gente de las casas para que votaran”, recuerda con orgullo. Aunque también confiesa que “este año, nos han orientado que no podemos presionar a nadie, que venga el que quiera”.

[[QUOTE:“Este año, nos han orientado que no podemos presionar a nadie, que venga el que quiera”, dice un miembro del Partido Comunista]]

El voto no es obligatorio según la Ley Electoral, aunque en el registro de votantes queda claro quiénes asistieron y quiénes prefirieron quedarse en casa. Este año los pioneros ya no irán de puerta en puerta para convocar a los morosos y es probable que la cifra de abstenciones crezca con relación a las elecciones anteriores, aunque los medios oficiales minimizarán ese detalle con una avalancha de números triunfalistas.

Todo funcionará sin incidentes ni alteraciones, con la tranquilidad que trae el desgano. Al mediodía, los responsables de cada colegio electoral elevarán un parte que irá escalando todos los niveles desde el municipio hasta la Comisión Nacional, donde una red de computadoras va acumulando y actualizando la información. Los medios de difusión tendrán programas especiales todo el día y los televidentes serán atiborrados de datos sobre el género, grupos de edad, raza, perfil ocupacional de candidatos y de electores cuidadosamente desglosados en cada territorio.

Ni una palabra, sin embargo, se dirá sobre las preferencias políticas o las tendencias ideológicas de cada postulado. No es necesario. La norma no escrita es que a este proceso electoral sólo lleguen los más confiables. Este año se han colado al menos dos candidatos opositores en la lista de posibles delegados, pero de eso no dirán ni una palabra los locutores que hablan sin parar en la pantalla chica.

[[QUOTE:Se han colado al menos dos candidatos opositores, pero de eso no dirán ni una palabra los locutores que hablan sin parar en la pantalla chica]]

¿Qué sentido tiene votar por una persona que no sabemos como va a representar a sus electores en una u otra decisión?, se preguntan los más críticos. “El tipo es buena gente”, dicen otros mientras miran la foto de un candidato. Esos mismos asegurarán que es una persona decente, incapaz de “meter la mano” ni de andar con favoritismo a la hora de repartir materiales para reparar las casas, pero nadie conoce su programa, si es que lo tiene. En caso de que tenga alguna propuesta propia, tampoco ha podido contarla, porque según la ley es un delito hacer campaña electoral.

Así que hoy, Leonor se sentirá casi adulta cuando el pionerito diga en voz alta “¡Votó!”, como gritaba ella llena de convicción hace unos pocos años. Pero la decisión que ha dejado escrita en su boleta no será tema de conversación esta noche con sus amigos y tampoco la compartirá con su padre, mientras abren las maletas y reparten los regalos que trajo desde el norte.

Los periódicos oficiales titularán el lunes el elevado porcentaje de participación, que será tenido como una victoria del socialismo. Habrá disciplina y puntualidad, como en cualquier ritual, pero no habrá encuestadores a pie de urna, apenas si un mínimo de natural curiosidad después de las seis de la tarde. Nadie verá piquetes de partidarios aclamando a los ganadores, ni declaraciones de los vencidos aceptando la derrota. En esta edición, como en las que han venido ocurriendo en los casi cuarenta años de este sistema electoral, la gran ausente será la pasión, herida de muerte por la rutina.


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… heading to Havana, as the first US governor to visit Cuba since … products. Businesses could invest in Cuba’s developing information technology infrastructure … the first sector of the Cuban economy to open up. “It … Republican whose mother is a Cuban exile, said any efforts to … Continue reading
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Díaz-Canel pide discutir con EEUU embargo, Guantánamo y “transmisiones ilegales de radio y televisión” También dice que se necesitan “mecanismos de compensación al pueblo cubano por los daños que desde el punto de vista humano y económico ha ocasionado el bloqueo”. Agencias abril 19, 2015 El primer vicepresidente de Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, reafirmó hoy en […] Continue reading
One More Insult / Fernando Damaso
Posted on April 18, 2015

Fernando Damaso, 15 April 2015 — The culture minister's presentation of
Cuban flags to twenty Cuban artists and intellectuals, members of the
"governmental Jurassic park," in recognition of their shameful behavior
during the Summit of the Americas civil society forum — actions
criticized and condemned the world over — is deplorable.

It is true that our national standard, debased through improper and
cheap use, has been losing over time, among many ordinary Cubans, the
respect it always deserved, especially during the most complex moments
of our history.

Since wearing the flag as apparel (not unusual in some countries) is
prohibited in Cuba, how ironic to be using it now as a mop cloth.

The unacceptable and swaggering behavior of these artists and
intellectuals deserves not recognition, but a reprimand, for how poorly
they have represented all Cubans.

True representatives of intolerance, dogmatism and the most caveman-like
authoritarianism, they have amply demonstrated that, if this is our only
civil society, we are better off without it.

As no one has before, they have demonstrated that "within the
Revolution, everything…." is possible.*

Translator's Notes:
*A reference to Fidel's so-called Speech to the Intellectuals in 1961,
in which he proclaimed, "Within the Revolution, everything. Outside the
Revolution, nothing."

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: One More Insult / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/one-more-insult-fernando-damaso/ Continue reading
Enough with the Charades, Cuba Deserves Free Elections / Cubanet,
Roberto Jesus Quinones
Posted on April 18, 2015

Cubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 17 April 2015 –
Coming up on April 19 there will be "elections." Many countrymen ask
about the changes that the Electoral Law will introduce.

The most democratic electoral law in the world?

In Cuba there are no elections, just votes. There are no elections
because in order to elect there must be different platforms, and here
only one is legal. Absolutely all the delegates and deputies respond to
this; that's why it does not matter for whom you vote.

Every time one of the People's Party (which is the "people's" in name
only) elections approaches, the official media overwhelm us citing the
supposed blessings of our electoral law, according to them the most
democratic in the world.

It is an illusion. The only supposedly democratic thing in our electoral
system is the election of candidates as district delegates. It's true
that the residents of each of the zones into which the district is
divided elect a candidate through a direct and public vote, but that is
the visible tip of the iceberg. The hidden part is comprised of the
multiple meetings of "the community revolutionary elements" – i.e.,
Party members, "combatants" (former soldiers), leaders of the Committees
for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the Cuban Women's Federation
(FMC), etc – where those attending are directed how to block any
candidacy unwanted by the regime and who to vote for.

The people that staff the polling stations are subordinate to the
government. They count the votes and give the results to the
stakeholders who are present at each polling station, but there exists
no access by the people to the vote count in the Municipal Electoral
Commission, which receives the results from each polling station in the
district and reports who was elected.

The delegate as well as his voters lack any real power to make decisions
and transform his neighborhood, and it is for that reason that the
former has turned into a mere complaint clerk.

Finally, 50% of the delegates to the Provincial Assemblies from the
People's Power and the same percentage of the deputies that make up the
National Assembly are not elected by the people but "handpicked" by the
official Candidates Commission. In these assemblies there will never be
a decent, hard-working and patriotic Cuban who disagrees with Communist
ideology. So what is the democracy of this law?

A Cuba "with all and for the good of all"

The Constitution of 1976 in its preamble declares that it is the will of
the government that the law of laws be presided over by the profoundly
Martí desire to make the first law of our Republic be the worship by
Cubans of the full dignity of man.

Article 1 states: "Cuba is a socialist state of workers, independent and
sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a united and
democratic republic for the enjoyment of political liberty, social
justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity."

The drafters of the socialist magna carta deemed that such desire was
fulfilled. But reality, more stubborn than any triumphalist sentence,
proves that the Cuban state is not organized "with all and for the good
of all," as José Martí dreamed, but for the "Revolutionaries." The other
citizens are excluded, jailed and discriminated against. Reality
demonstrates that a single political party supplanted the State and
controls everything, prohibiting the existence of any other organization
of that kind.

In such conditions there is neither democracy nor political liberty.
There is no social justice because in order to access certain jobs and
higher education, loyalty to the Communist Party and the Revolution is
demanded and because increasingly the State abandons the elderly, the
disabled and low income people.

There is no individual well-being because workers receive miserable
wages and have to buy basic products in a currency other than that in
which they are not paid and that is worth 25 times more. There is no
collective well-being because public services degrade further every day,
and health and education are in a precarious state. There is no human
solidarity because there is physical assault and intolerance in the face
of diversity, as was demonstrated once again at the recent Summit of the
Americas. Of what full dignity of man do the Communists speak?

What many Cubans do want

What many Cubans do want is to enjoy the same civil and political rights
that the citizens of 34 other countries in the continent have.

They want to decentralize the State's absolute power and to build
democracy from the neighborhood up because sovereignty lies with the
people, and they have to have the means to express it. For that reason
it is spurious for a leader who has not been elected by ordinary people
to make a decision or to believe that he expresses the interests of an
entire people without consulting the opinion of the citizens.

Cubans want to elect people who really represent them at the different
levels of government and are not merely uncritically consenting.

They want all the delegates to the provincial assemblies of the People's
Power and the deputies to the National Assembly of the People's Power to
be elected in their districts through direct and secret vote, publicly
verified, and that the same occur with those who lead those government
organs and other important offices like prosecutors, tribunals and
police units.

They want to choose the political program that most satisfies them and
to elect their president in multi-party elections supervised by
international agencies.

That is the desire of the majority of Cubans, and as long as it is not
fulfilled, the Communists should have the decency not to talk about
elections or democracy.

Source: Enough with the Charades, Cuba Deserves Free Elections /
Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/enough-with-the-charades-cuba-deserves-free-elections-cubanet-roberto-jesus-quinones/ Continue reading
The Forbidden Fruit for Cubans / Cubanet, Isis Marquez
Posted on April 18, 2015

Any farmer caught selling to the general population the strawberries
that he cultivates will be fined 1000 CUP* (national currency) and have
his land confiscated

Cubanet.org, Isis Marquez, Havana, 17 April 2015 – The strawberry is the
forbidden fruit for Cubans. Its limited national production is for
tourists and for the olive green hierarchy. The State limits the
production because it sells for 2.4 euros per kilogram on the
international market. Some say that it was introduced onto the island in
1965. Fifty years have passed and still the Cuban people cannot consume
this exquisite strawberry. Maybe the Cuban government pretends that its
people do not eat these fruits, which are anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen?
Caption:

Benefits of the strawberry

The strawberry is a short cycle fruit rich in vitamin C. Its compounds
have a high anti-oxidant power, as well as increased anti-cancer
activity, and it prevents aging of the brain.

In February Cubanet had the opportunity to speak with vendors Kolia
Morejon and Jorge Aspen, who said: "We are here because our client left
us loaded. We have to sell the product to passersby before they go bad.
We sell the small tin for 1 CUC*, the big one for 3 CUC.

Cubanet decided to investigate where the strawberry is cultivated for
the purpose of investigating how and why the people do not have access
to buying the "forbidden fruit" for their tables.

The odyssey of the strawberry

First you arrive at "Las Canas" community located on the border between
Alquizar and Artemisa. Then you have to travel along La Roncha highway.
From there on is where the communities called Maravilla, Calipso,
Neptuno and La Pluma begin. In these inaccessible places is where
strawberries are cultivated. These particular farms belong to the
"Rigoberto Corcho" Cooperative of Artemisa.

On the Calipso farm as soon as I spoke with the producer Nadir Jimenez,
he said: "I am sorry, we cannot give interviews to foreign journalists
who don't come certified with a letter from the Municipal Delegation of
the ANAP (National Association of Small Farmers) in Artemisa or with a
letter from the Ministry of Agriculture. Nor is it permitted to take
photos of the crops. I am very sorry, but I cannot help you."

Later, on the La Pluma farm, I was able to speak with a vendor
identified as Julio Cesar Frias: "The strawberry is an exclusive product
for the tables and the pastry shops of the 5-star hotels, and for some
special contracts established with private bars and restaurants."

And he assured: "We cannot market the strawberry to the population.
Inspectors impose a fine of 1000 pesos in national currency and
confiscate the farms. To go out to Havana to sell one can (5 kg) means
dodging the control points, the police, the inspectors and the devil
himself." Frias concludes: "When we manage to overcome the controls, in
Havana, we sell the frozen pints for 1 CUC and the big ones for 3 CUC."

On La Roncha highway I found a couple who preferred not to be
identified, and they had recently acquired a 3 CUC pot. They said: "The
strawberry that is produced is for the trusted people of the area. If
you have friends, good contacts with the "bigwigs" of business and the
municipal ANAP, you can have the luxury of coming and buying. We
recommend that no outsider approach anything here if he does not come
well 'endorsed.'"

Later a passerby identified as Norberto Joel Batista added: "The
strawberry is only for the rulers of this country, the tourists, the
military and the new bourgeoisie. For us there is no opportunity to buy
the strawberry. Strawberries definitely are the Cuban's 'forbidden fruit.'"

Fruit for the privileged

Later, back in the city, I entered the "Betty Boom" snack bar, with very
American style and design, which is on 3rd Avenue and 60th Street. There
I consumed a strawberry frappe that cost 2.8 CUC for the large cup. The
customers obviously were foreigners and privileged Cubans.

Translator's note: Cuba has two currencies, the "Cuban peso" or CUP,
also known as "national money," and the "Cuban Convertible Peso, or
CUC." The CUC is pegged to the US dollar but with exchange fees costs
roughly $1.10. The Cuban peso is worth about 4¢ U.S. Most wages are paid
in Cuban pesos, and the average wage is generally the equivalent of
about $20 U.S. monthly. Pensions are much lower.

Translated by MLK

Source: The Forbidden Fruit for Cubans / Cubanet, Isis Marquez |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-forbidden-fruit-for-cubans-cubanet-isis-marquez/ Continue reading
The seventh summit showed that we are not alone / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya
Posted on April 19, 2015

The Summit of the Americas legitimized our right to exist as civil
society and as an alternative to dictatorial power. It was a victory of
democracy over the empire of totalitarianism.

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Panama, 13 April 2015 – With smiles, handshakes
and the usual "family photo" of all the presidents, the Summit of the
Americas ended in Panama. This time the hemispheric event had the
distinction of hosting, after a half century of absence, the visit of
the prodigal son: the representative of the longest dictatorship of the
continent, as well as a varied delegation from the Island's civil society.

Apart from the numerous irregularities, related to the organization of
the event, and the almost obvious complicity of local authorities with
the obstacles that tried to sabotage the participation of alternative
civil society representatives in the various forums of the summit —
including power cuts, credential problems, and the well-known
repudiation rallies orchestrated by the delegates of the Castro regime's
"civil society" and its continental acolytes — one could conclude that
the balance of the conclave was positive for Cuban democrats.

Needless to say, the vociferous covens starring "revolutionary" wildlife
had the opposite effect to that intended: far from demonizing opponents
and members of independent civil society, they demonstrated to the rest
of the delegations the intolerant nature of the regime and the veracity
of the testimonies that have denounced the repression against every
different alternative on the island, as well as the disrespect of the
Cuban authorities towards the hosts and the other countries of the region.

Not only did the delegates from many social organizations openly express
their support for the exercise of the rights of expression of Cuban
democrats, but many representatives of the continental Left expressed
disgust with the intransigence and violent methods used by pro-Castro
attendees, a posture that in their opinion sullies the image of the Left
and contaminates its projects in the region.

However, with the morbid interest aroused by the spectacle of violence,
the tabloid press has given these repudiation rallies greater prominence
than they deserve, and has emphasized the imprint of their protagonists
on the Summit, as if that was the highlight of the agenda.

However, for independent civil society the true importance of the
Panamanian meeting consists in the fact that its voices have finally
been recognized at a major regional event, as well as the joint and
harmonious participation of Cubans living within and outside the island,
welcoming plural and diverse ideas and positions, capable of mutual
respect, and finding commonalities among all of them. In fact, those
voices – and not those of the "repudiators" of the Castro regime's
supporters – were the ones that ended up represented in official
documents of the Summit, with several opponents to the regime
participating in their drafting.

Equally important was the meeting between US President Barack Obama and
well-known Cuban dissidents, undoubtedly a gesture of support for the
struggle for human rights within Cuba and a clear message that that
government will continue to support pro-democracy activists, regardless
of the negotiations being conducted with the Cuban authorities at the
highest level.

Overall, the exchange between political leaders and leaders of social
networks around the hemisphere was of great importance, making
independent Cuban civil society visible at the regional level, attesting
to the existence of an alternative discourse to that allowed by the
regime, a discourse that claims spaces and demands rights, and that made
clear the variety of proposals that exist within Cuban society.

It was also an opportunity to participate in debates which included deep
analysis about the danger of the spread of totalitarian regimes in Latin
America, and the risk this poses to democracy and peace in the region;
debates where the continued and increasing violations of human rights
and encroachments on freedom of the press and expression in several of
our nations was denounced; debates that strongly questioned the role of
the Organization of American States (OAS) as a body that is obliged to
ensure democracy and enforce the Inter-American Charter, which are the
founding objectives of the organization and which have been set aside
with the permissibility, indifference and complicity, both of the
leadership of the OAS as well as the region's democratic leaders.

For those of us who had the privilege of participating in this Summit it
was an invaluable experience that showed how it is possible to discuss
in a civilized manner, beyond politics and ideology, and the certainty
that we are not alone in our struggle for the democratization of Cuba.

The Summit of the Americas, as I have argued in all spaces in which we
participated, was not a goal, but an important step in legitimizing our
right to exist as civil society and as an alternative to dictatorial
power. It was undoubtedly a victory for democracy over the empire of
totalitarianism: an unpublished chapter after the long history of
exclusions that we Cubans have experienced in our hemisphere. Hopefully
now that the doors, despite many adversities, have been opened, we are
at the beginning of a process of regional integration that promotes
democratic openings within Cuba.

Source: The seventh summit showed that we are not alone / Cubanet,
Miriam Celaya | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-seventh-summit-showed-that-we-are-not-alone-cubanet-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
New US Treasury Info on Traveling to Cuba and Doing Business
April 17, 2015

HAVANA TIMES — The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US
Treasury Dept. published a revised list of questions and answers for
United States citizens interested in travel to Cuba, travel services,
banking, sending remittances, or doing any type of business with the
island, reported Tracey Eaton on Thursday. Here is the complete list.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba
Updated April 16, 2015

This document is explanatory only, does not have the force of law, and
does not supplement or modify the Executive Orders, statutes, or
regulations relating to Cuba. Where specific questions arise about
applicability, scope, impact, or any other aspects of these sanctions,
it is the responsibility of individuals or entities seeking guidance to
review the relevant statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders, and, if
appropriate, consult with legal counsel.

I. Embargo

1. Where can I find the amendments to the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations (CACR)?

Please see the Federal Register.

2. When is the amendment to the CACR effective?

The amendment became effective when published in the Federal Register on
January 16, 2015.

3. Are sanctions on Cuba still in place following the President's
announcement on December 17, 2014?

Yes, the Cuba embargo remains in place. Most transactions between the
United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba
continue to be prohibited, and OFAC continues to enforce the
prohibitions of the CACR. These changes are targeted to further engage
and empower the Cuban people by facilitating authorized travel to Cuba
by U.S. persons, certain authorized commerce, and the flow of
information to, from, and within Cuba.

4. Is the Department of Commerce also amending its rules?

Yes. The Department of Commerce amended its rules which, among other
things, authorize the export of certain items to the Cuban private
sector and to improve the free flow of information to, from, and among
the Cuban people. For additional information, please see the Bureau of
Industry and Security website at: http://www.bis.doc.gov.

II. Travel

5. What are the travel changes to the Cuba program?

OFAC has issued general licenses within the 12 categories of authorized
travel for many travel-related transactions to, from, or within Cuba
that previously required a specific license (i.e., an application and a
case-by-case determination).

Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain
travel related to the following activities, subject to criteria and
conditions in each general license: family visits; official business of
the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental
organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and
professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities;
public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other
competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people;
humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or
educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of
information or information materials; and certain authorized export
transactions.

6. Do travelers who fall within the scope of a general license need to
submit a written request to OFAC for permission to travel or conduct
transactions?

No. No further permission from OFAC is required to engage in
transactions by a person who meets all criteria in a general license.
Individuals wishing to engage in activities that may fall within the
scope of a general license should review the relevant general licenses
contained in the CACR to determine whether their travel-related
transactions are covered by such general licenses. Persons subject to
U.S. jurisdiction who wish to engage in any travel within the 12
categories of activities specified in the CACR that does not meet the
requirements of a general license will need to apply for a specific
license from OFAC.

7. Is travel to Cuba for tourist activities permitted?

No. Consistent with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement
Act of 2000 (TSRA), travel-related transactions involving Cuba are only
permitted for the 12 categories of activities identified in the CACR.
Travel-related transactions for other purposes remain prohibited.

8. What constitutes "a close relative" for generally authorized family
travel?

OFAC regulations generally authorize U.S. persons and those sharing a
dwelling with them as a family to visit a close relative in Cuba,
including a close relative who is a Cuban national or ordinarily
resident there, who is a U.S. Government official on official government
business, or who is a student or faculty member engaging in authorized
educational activities in Cuba with a duration of over 60 days. A close
relative is defined as any individual related to a person "by blood,
marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from
that person or from a common ancestor with that person." For a complete
description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions
that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.339 and § 515.561.

9. Who is generally authorized to engage in travel and travel-related
transactions for "journalistic activity"?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to journalistic activities in Cuba. Among other
things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, full-time journalists, supporting broadcast or technical
personnel, and freelance journalists to travel to Cuba. The traveler's
schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in
excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. An entire group
does not qualify for the general license merely because some members of
the group qualify individually. For a complete description of what this
general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see
31 CFR § 515.563.

10. What constitutes generally authorized travel-related transactions
for "professional research" and "professional meetings" in Cuba?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to professional research in Cuba. Among other things,
this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
professional research in Cuba relating to a traveler's profession,
professional background, or area of expertise. The traveler's schedule
of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that
consistent with a full-time schedule. An entire group does not qualify
for the general license merely because some members of the group qualify
individually. For a complete description of what this general license
authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.564.

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to professional meetings in Cuba. Among other things,
this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
professional meetings or conferences in Cuba relating to a traveler's
profession, professional background, or area of expertise, provided that
the purpose of the meeting or conference is not the promotion of tourism
in Cuba. Travel in this category is generally licensed provided that the
traveler's schedule of activities does not include free time or
recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. An
entire group does not qualify for the general license merely because
some members of the group qualify individually. For a complete
description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions
that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.564.

11. What constitutes "educational activities" for generally authorized
travel?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to certain educational activities in Cuba. Among other
things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, faculty, staff, and students at U.S. academic institutions
and secondary schools to engage in certain educational activities in
Cuba, Cuban scholars to engage in certain educational activities in the
United States, certain activities to facilitate licensed educational
programs, and certain people-to-people travel. An entire group does not
qualify for the general license merely because some members of the group
qualify individually. For a complete description of what this general
license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §
515.565.

12. Are secondary schools and secondary school students permitted to
engage in travel-related transactions under the general license for
"educational activities"?

Yes. Educational exchanges sponsored by Cuban or U.S. secondary schools
involving secondary school students' participation in a formal course of
study or in a structured educational program offered by a secondary
school or other academic institution, and led by a teacher or other
secondary school official, are authorized under this general license.
For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and
the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565 (a)(6). This
provision allows for participation of a reasonable number of adult
chaperones to accompany the secondary school student(s) to Cuba.

13. What constitutes "people-to-people travel" for generally authorized
travel?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific
licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly
incident to people-to-people educational activities in Cuba. Among other
things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage in certain
educational exchanges in Cuba under the auspices of an organization that
is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to
promote people-to-people contact. Additionally, an employee, paid
consultant, or agent of the sponsoring organization must accompany each
group traveling to Cuba to ensure the full-time schedule of educational
exchange activities, and the predominant portion of the activities must
not be with individuals or entities acting for or on behalf of a
prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in 31 CFR §
515.337, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined
in 31 CFR § 515.338. For a complete description of what this general
license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §
515.565(b).

14. What is an "organization" in the people–to-people context?

In the people-to-people context, an organization is an entity subject to
U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors educational exchanges that do not
involve academic study pursuant to a degree program and that promote
people-to-people contact. For a complete description of what this
general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see
31 CFR § 515.565(b).

15. Who is generally authorized to engage in travel-related transactions
for "religious activities"?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to religious activities in Cuba. All persons subject
to U.S. jurisdiction, including religious organizations located in the
United States and members and staff of such organizations, are generally
authorized to engage in travel-related transactions that are directly
incident to engaging in religious activities in Cuba provided, among
other things, that the travel must be for the purpose of engaging in a
program of religious activities. The traveler's schedule of activities
must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent
with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what
this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please
see 31 CFR § 515.566.

16. What constitutes "public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic
and other competitions, and exhibitions" for generally authorized travel?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior
specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate
conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are
directly incident to participation in amateur and semi-professional
international sports federation competitions as well as other athletic
and other competitions and public performances, clinics, workshops, and
exhibitions in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general
license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §
515.567.

17. What constitutes "support for the Cuban people" for generally
authorized travel and other transactions?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific
licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
travel-related transactions and other transactions that are intended to
provide support for the Cuban people, which include activities of
recognized human rights organizations; independent organizations
designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; and
individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent
activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. The traveler's
schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in
excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a
complete description of what this general license authorizes and the
restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.574.

18. What constitutes "humanitarian projects" for generally authorized
travel and other transactions?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific
licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
travel-related transactions and other transactions that are related to
humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba. These authorized
humanitarian projects include medical and health-related projects;
construction projects intended to benefit legitimately independent civil
society groups; environmental projects; projects involving formal or
non-formal educational training, within Cuba or off-island, on the
following topics: entrepreneurship and business, civil education,
journalism, advocacy and organizing, adult literacy, or vocational
skills; community-based grassroots projects; projects suitable to the
development of small-scale private enterprise; projects that are related
to agricultural and rural development that promote independent activity;
microfinancing projects, except for loans, extensions of credit, or
other financing prohibited by 31 C.F.R. § 515.208; and projects to meet
basic human needs. The traveler's schedule of activities must not
include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a
full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this
general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see
31 CFR § 515.575.

19. What constitutes "activities of private foundations or research or
educational institutes" for generally authorized travel?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates previous specific
licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly
incident to activities by private foundations or research or educational
institutes with an established interest in international relations to
collect information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes, among
other things. The traveler's schedule of activities must not include
free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time
schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general
license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §
515.576.

20. What constitutes "exportation, importation or transmission of
information or informational materials" for generally authorized travel?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific
licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly
incident to the exportation, importation, or transmission of information
or informational materials in Cuba. The traveler's schedule of
activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that
consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description
of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply,
please see 31 CFR § 515.545. The definition of "information and
informational materials" may be found at 31 CFR § 515.332.

21. Can I purchase a ticket to Cuba directly from an airline based or
operating out of the United States?

Yes, provided that you are authorized to travel to Cuba pursuant to a
general or specific license. Airlines subject to U.S. jurisdiction are
authorized to provide air carrier services to authorized travelers, and
travelers may purchase tickets provided that their travel is authorized
pursuant to the CACR. Airlines and travelers are responsible for
maintaining records of their Cuba-related transactions for at least five
years.

22. May an individual authorized traveler use his or her private boat to
travel to Cuba?

A person subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in authorized travel
pursuant to an OFAC general or specific license may use a personal boat
for his or her travel, and the travel of the boat's crew, to Cuba
provided that he or she obtains a license from the Bureau of Industry
and Security (BIS) for the temporary sojourn of the vessel. Goods
exported to Cuba also require a license or must be eligible for a
license exception from BIS.

23. Are U.S. vessels, including private boats and commercial passenger
ferries, permitted to carry passengers to Cuba?

The new general license allowing the provision of carrier services
between the United States and Cuba is limited to the provision of such
services by aircraft; it does not authorize providing carrier services
by vessel. Providing carrier services by vessel would require a specific
license from OFAC. This would include an individual using his or her own
personal boat to transport passengers to Cuba. Vessels on temporary
sojourn to Cuba also require a license from the Bureau of Industry and
Security (BIS). Goods exported to Cuba also require a license or must be
eligible for a license exception from BIS.

24. Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in
Cuba?

The per diem rate previously imposed no longer applies, and there is no
specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may
engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba,
including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of
goods for personal consumption there; other expenditures, other than
those directly incident to the traveler's authorized activities in Cuba,
are not authorized. In addition, travelers are authorized to acquire in
Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the United States
merchandise with a value not to exceed $400 per person, provided that no
more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco
products and the merchandise is imported for personal use only.

25. Are there any restrictions on what foreign persons entering the
United States from travel that included Cuba may bring in their
accompanied baggage?
A non-U.S. person (i.e. not a U.S. citizen or resident) arriving in the
United States is authorized to import Cuban-origin merchandise, other
than tobacco and alcohol, as accompanied baggage provided the
merchandise is not in commercial quantities and not imported for resale.
See 31 CFR § 515.569. If the non-U.S. person is on a trip that included
travel to Cuba, the person also is authorized to import as accompanied
baggage alcohol or tobacco products purchased or otherwise acquired in
Cuba with a value not to exceed $100 for personal use only. See 31 CFR §
515.560(c)(3).

26. Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other
alcohol while traveling in Cuba?

Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco
products while in Cuba for personal consumption while there. Authorized
travelers may return to the United States with up to $100 worth of
alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba in accompanied baggage,
for personal use only.

27. Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other
Cuban-origin alcohol over the internet or while in a third country
(i.e., not Cuba)?

No. These transactions remain prohibited, and OFAC has not issued any
general license that would authorize them.

III. Travel Services

28. Do air carriers need to obtain specific licenses from OFAC to
provide services?

No. A new general license authorizes persons subject to U.S.
jurisdiction to provide air carrier services to, from, or within Cuba,
in connection with authorized travel, without the need for a specific
license from OFAC. However, while no additional license is required from
OFAC, air carriers wishing to provide service will still need to secure
regulatory approvals from other concerned U.S. Government agencies,
including the Department of Transportation (Office of the Secretary and
the Federal Aviation Administration) and the Department of Homeland
Security. For a complete description of what the OFAC general license
authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §
515.572(a)(2).

29. Do travel service providers (such as travel agents and tour group
operators) need to obtain specific licenses from OFAC to provide
services for travel to Cuba?

No. A new general license authorizes persons subject to U.S.
jurisdiction, including travel agents and tour group operators, to
provide travel services in connection with authorized travel without the
need for specific licenses from OFAC. For a complete description of what
this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please
see 31 CFR § 515.572(a)(1). The provision of services related to travel
for tourist or other unauthorized travel to Cuba remains prohibited.

30. Are airlines and travel service providers required to verify that an
individual traveler is authorized to travel to Cuba?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction providing authorized carrier or
travel services must retain for at least five years from the date of the
transaction a certification from each customer indicating the provision
of the CACR that authorizes the person to travel to Cuba. In the case of
a customer traveling under a specific license, a copy of the license
must be maintained on file. The names and addresses of individual
travelers must also be maintained on file for at least five years. See
31 CFR § 515.572(b).

IV. Remittances

31. What changes have been made with respect to authorized remittances
by U.S. persons to Cuba?

The limits on generally licensed periodic remittances that may be sent
to a Cuban national, other than a prohibited official of the Government
of Cuba or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, have been
raised from $500 per quarter to $2,000 per quarter. For a complete
description of what the OFAC general license authorizes and the
restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.570(b).

Certain remittances to Cuban nationals for humanitarian projects,
support for the Cuban people, or development of private business are now
generally authorized. For a complete description of what the OFAC
general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see
31 CFR § 515.570(g).

The amount of authorized remittances travelers to Cuba may carry has
been increased to $10,000 per authorized trip. For a complete
description of this authorization and the restrictions that apply,
please see 31 CFR § 515.560(c)(4).

32. Is a bank, credit union, or money service business (MSB) such as a
money remitter permitted to process my authorized remittances to Cuba?

Yes. Under the new general licenses, banking institutions, as defined in
31 CFR § 515.314, U.S.-registered brokers or dealers in securities, and
U.S.-registered money transmitters are permitted to process authorized
remittances to Cuba without having to obtain a specific license, subject
to the recordkeeping and reporting requirements set forth therein. For a
complete description of what the OFAC general license authorizes and the
restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.572(a)(3).

V. Banking

33. Are authorized travelers in Cuba permitted to use credit or debit
cards issued by a U.S. financial institution?

Yes. Travelers are advised to check with their financial institution
before traveling to Cuba to determine whether the institution has
established the necessary mechanisms for its credit or debit cards to be
used in Cuba. See 31 CFR § 515.560(c)(5) and 515.584(c).

34. Can my bank refuse to allow me to use my credit or debit card in Cuba?

OFAC regulations do not require financial institutions or credit card
companies to accept, maintain, or facilitate authorized financial
relationships or transactions.

35. Can U.S. financial institutions permit the use of credit and debit
cards they issue by, and process credit and debit card transactions for,
third-country nationals whose travel to, from, or within Cuba may not
fall within the 12 categories of authorized travel?

Yes. Section 515.584(c) of the CACR authorizes all transactions incident
to the processing and payment of credit and debit cards transactions for
third-country nationals traveling to, from, or within Cuba.

36. Are financial institutions other than banks permitted to open
correspondent accounts in Cuba?

Depository institutions, as defined in 31 CFR § 515.333, which include
certain financial institutions other than banks, are permitted to open
correspondent accounts at banks in Cuba. See 31 CFR § 515.584(a).

37. Are Cuban banks permitted to open correspondent accounts at U.S. banks?

No. U.S. depository institutions are permitted to open correspondent
accounts at Cuban banks located in Cuba and in third countries, and at
foreign banks located in Cuba, but Cuban banks are not generally
licensed to open such accounts at U.S. banks. See note to 31 CFR §
515.584(a).

38. May foreign branches of U.S. banks open and operate accounts for
newly unblocked Cuban nationals in third countries?

Yes, however all funds transfers to or from such an account involving
Cuba or a national of Cuba (other than an unblocked national) must be
authorized or exempt.

39. In what ways can Cuban nationals lawfully present in the United
States participate in the U.S. financial system?

Certain Cuban nationals who have taken up residence in the United States
on a permanent basis and who meet the requirements set forth in 31 CFR §
515.505 are licensed as unblocked nationals, and may participate fully
in the U.S. financial system. See 31 CFR § 515.505(a)(1); (d).

Pursuant to 31 CFR § 515.571, Cuban nationals who are present in the
United States in a non-immigrant status or pursuant to other
non-immigrant travel authorization issued by the U.S. government, such
as a non-immigrant visa, may open and maintain bank accounts for the
duration of their stay in the United States in such status. Accounts
that are not closed prior to the departure of Cuban nationals from the
United States must be blocked and reported as such. Section 515.571 also
authorizes such Cuban nationals to engage in normal banking transactions
involving foreign currency drafts, travelers' checks, or other
instruments negotiated incident to travel in the United States.

40. If a Cuban national resident in the United States has applied to
become a lawful permanent resident alien of the United States, does that
individual have to apply to OFAC to be treated as an unblocked national?

No. If a Cuban national has taken up residence in the United States and
has applied to become a lawful permanent resident alien of the U.S. and
has an adjustment of status application pending, then the Cuban national
is considered unblocked and does not need to apply to OFAC to be treated
as an unblocked national, provided that he or she is not a prohibited
official of the Government of Cuba or a prohibited member of the Cuban
Communist party. See 31 CFR § 515.505(a)(1).

41. Should financial institutions apply for a specific license to
release funds transfers or accounts previously blocked solely because of
the interest of an individual who has now become an unblocked national
under the recent amendment to the CACR?

The CACR include general licenses authorizing as unblocked nationals
certain Cuban nationals who have taken up permanent residence in the
United States or a third country. For a complete description of what
these general licenses authorize and the restrictions that apply, please
see 31 CFR § 515.505(a). The CACR also include a general license
authorizing banking institutions to unblock any account that had been
previously blocked solely because of the interest therein of one or more
persons now licensed as unblocked nationals. For a complete description
of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply,
please see 31 CFR § 515.505(b).

If your situation appears to meet the terms of these general licenses,
we suggest that you contact the U.S. financial institution blocking the
funds transfer or account to request that they review your situation
within the context of the terms of the appropriate general license. If
the terms of a general license apply, there is no need to seek specific
authorization from OFAC, and it is OFAC's policy not to grant specific
licenses authorizing transactions for which the provisions of an
outstanding general license are applicable. See 31 C.F.R. § 501.801(a).

42. Do banking institutions need to apply for a specific license to
release funds transfers or accounts previously blocked pursuant to the
CACR that are now authorized by general license?

If a transaction was previously blocked pursuant to the CACR at the time
of the transaction, and the CACR was later amended to allow similar
transactions, the earlier transaction is not unblocked unless the CACR
amendment includes a general license unblocking previously blocked
funds. Transactions must be authorized pursuant to the CACR at the time
they are processed. To the extent not authorized by a general license, a
specific license would be required to release funds transfers or unblock
accounts previously blocked.

43. What new transactions involving wire transfers to Cuba are authorized?

OFAC has issued a new general license that authorizes U.S. depository
institutions to reject funds transfers originating and terminating
outside the United States where neither the originator nor the
beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and provided that
certain prohibited individuals do not have an interest in the transfer.
U.S. depository institutions are authorized to process such funds
transfers where they would be authorized pursuant to the CACR if the
originator or beneficiary were a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and
the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.584(d).

VI. Trade/Business

44. Is Cuba open for U.S. business and investment?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from doing business
or investing in Cuba unless licensed by OFAC. An OFAC general license
authorizes the exportation from the United States, and the reexportation
of 100% U.S.-origin items from third-countries, to Cuba only in those
cases where the exportation or reexportation is licensed or otherwise
authorized by the Commerce Department. The Commerce Department currently
authorizes limited categories of items to be exported or reexported to Cuba.

45. Can U.S. trade delegations travel to Cuba?

Trade delegations are authorized to travel to Cuba only if each member
of the delegation meets the criteria of an applicable general license
authorizing travel to Cuba or has obtained a specific license from OFAC.
Authorized trade delegations generally fall under one of two general
licenses for travel authorization; either (1) 31 CFR § 515.533(d), which
authorizes travel-related and other transactions incident to the
exportation of certain authorized goods from the U.S. to Cuba,
specifically the conduct of "market research, commercial marketing,
sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of items
consistent with the export or report licensing policy of the Commerce
Department," or (2) 31 C.F.R. § 515.564(a), which authorizes
transactions related to professional research or professional meetings
in Cuba. For a complete description of what these general licenses
authorize and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR §§
515.533(d) and 515.564(a).

Neither of the aforementioned general licenses authorizes the
establishment of a permanent physical presence in Cuba.

46. Are insurers allowed to provide travel insurance for authorized
travel to Cuba?

Yes. See 31 CFR § 515.560.

47. May U.S. insurers issue policies and pay claims related to group
health, life, and travel insurance on behalf of third-country nationals
traveling to or within Cuba?

Yes, provided that the insurance policy is as global policy. Section
515.580 of the CACR authorizes persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to
issue or provide global health, life, or travel insurance policies for
individuals ordinarily resident in a country outside of Cuba who travel
to or within Cuba, regardless of whether the insurance policy is issued
only to that individual or to a group, such as to all employees of a
particular company. For instance, a U.S. insurer may pay medical claims
pursuant to a group health insurance policy to or on behalf of a covered
third-country national injured while traveling in Cuba. However, this
provision does not authorize a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction to
issue an insurance policy that is specific to travel to Cuba. A separate
provision of the CACR, 31 CFR § 515.560, authorizes the provision of
health, life, and travel insurance-related services for authorized U.S.
travelers.

48. Are insurance policies that are issued to a "group" (e.g., an
employer and its employees) authorized by the CACR?

Section 515.580 of the CACR authorizes global insurance policies
covering individuals ordinarily resident in a country outside of Cuba
traveling to Cuba. The policy may be issued to a group, such as all
employees of a company. The "global" requirement means it cannot be
specific to travel to Cuba. For example, it does not authorize an
individual travel policy issued to a traveler specifically to cover a
planned trip to Cuba. It also does not authorize issuing a policy to a
non-U.S. travel agent specifically to cover its traveler clients where
the travel agency is solely in the business of planning trips to Cuba.

49. What types of Cuban-origin goods are authorized for importation into
the United States?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction authorized to travel to Cuba may
import into the United States as accompanied baggage merchandise
acquired in Cuba with a value not to exceed $400 per person, including
no more than $100 in alcohol and tobacco products.

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are also authorized to import
certain goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs as determined
by the State Department, to be set forth in the State Department's
Section 515.582 list.

The importation into the United States from Cuba of information and
informational materials is exempt from the prohibitions of the Cuban
Assets Control Regulations. The definition of "information and
informational materials" may be found at 31 CFR § 515.332.

VII. Telecommunications

50. What types of telecommunications and internet-based services are
authorized under general license?

OFAC has issued an expanded general license which, subject to
appropriate conditions, generally authorizes transactions that establish
mechanisms to provide commercial telecommunications services in Cuba or
linking third countries and Cuba. OFAC has also updated the general
licenses authorizing telecommunications-related transactions, including
payment related to the provision of telecommunications involving Cuba or
provided to Cuban individuals. Pursuant to this provision, U.S. persons
may, for example, purchase calling cards for people to use in Cuba
and/or may pay the bills of such people directly to a telecommunications
operator located in Cuba, such as ETECSA. These steps to facilitate
improved access to telecommunications services for Cubans and increased
international connections are intended to increase the ability of the
Cuban people to communicate freely and to better provide for efficient
and adequate telecommunications services between the United States and
Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes
and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.542.

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may provide additional services
incident to internet-based communications and related to certain
authorized exportations and reexportations of communications items. The
range of such services has been expanded to coincide with changes to
Commerce Department regulations, and such services can now be provided
for a fee to certain end users. For example, transactions incident to
providing fee-based internet communications services such as e-mail or
other messaging platforms, social networking, VOIP, web-hosting, or
domain-name registration are now authorized in most circumstances.
Services related to many kinds of software (including applications) used
on personal computers, cell phones, and other personal communications
devices are also authorized, along with other services related to the
use of such devices. Finally, services such as cloud storage, software
design, business consulting, and the provision of IT management and
support related to use of hardware and software exported or reexported
to Cuba pursuant to the Commerce Department's Consumer Communications
Device authorization is permitted. For a complete description of what
this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please
see 31 CFR § 515.578.

VIII. Third-Country Effects

51. Are Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba still considered blocked?

Yes, but any individual Cuban national who can establish that he or she
has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba and otherwise meets the
requirements set forth in 31 CFR § 515.505 is generally licensed as an
unblocked national.

52. Can U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries engage in
trade/commerce with Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba?

U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries may provide goods
and services to a Cuban national who is an individual located outside of
Cuba, provided that the transaction does not involve a commercial
exportation, directly or indirectly, of goods or services to or from
Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes
and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.585.

53. Are U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries authorized
to provide financial services to Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba?

U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries may provide
financial services to a Cuban national who is an individual located
outside of Cuba, provided that the transaction does not involve a
commercial exportation, directly or indirectly, of goods or services to
or from Cuba.
For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and
the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.585.

IX. Miscellaneous

54. What change has been made to the regulatory interpretation of "cash
in advance"?

The regulatory interpretation of "cash in advance" has been changed from
"cash before shipment" to "cash before transfer of title and control" to
allow expanded financing options for authorized exports to Cuba. For the
full text, see 31 CFR § 515.533.

55. What types of projects would fall within the authorization in 31 CFR
§ 515.575 for microfinancing projects?

Among other things, the provision for microfinancing projects in Section
515.575 of the CACR authorizes the provision of certain financial
services to unemployed, underemployed, and low-income Cubans who have
little or no access to conventional banks or comparable resources, and
which may include a limited return on investment. In addition, Section
515.570(g)(1) of the CACR authorizes remittances to individuals and
independent non-governmental entities in Cuba to support authorized
microfinancing projects. These provisions would authorize, for example,
relatively limited contributions of funds to support individual
entrepreneurs in sectors that need access to working capital, investment
loans, insurance, or training in order to start or expand their
operations. Sections 515.575 and 515.570(g)(1) of the CACR do not
authorize loans, extensions of credit or other financing related to
transactions involving confiscated property the claim to which is owned
by a U.S. national, which are prohibited by 31 CFR § 515.208. For
additional guidance or fact-specific questions, we would encourage you
to contact OFAC.

56. If a person had applied for a specific license from OFAC before the
CACR was revised but now believes that the proposed activity is
authorized pursuant to a general license, does that person need to wait
for his or her specific license application to be adjudicated?

No. If persons meet the qualifications listed in the general license,
then they do not need to wait for an official determination from OFAC
regarding their specific license application. Persons who have
determined they may proceed under a general license may wish to contact
OFAC Licensing to withdraw existing applications.

57. What types of goods and services produced by independent Cuban
entrepreneurs are authorized for importation into the United States from
Cuba pursuant to 31 CFR § 515.582?

Pursuant to Section 515.582 of the CACR, certain goods and services
produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as set forth in a list
maintained by the State Department on its website, are authorized for
importation, and persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may engage in
associated transactions necessary to import these authorized goods and
services. The State Department list provides details of the goods and
services authorized for importation into the U.S. from Cuba pursuant to
this provision. This list references sections and chapters of the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States to indicate
categories of goods that are not eligible for importation into the
United States pursuant to 31 CFR § 515.582, even if such goods were
produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs; any other goods produced by
independent Cuban entrepreneurs and not covered by the listed sections
and chapters of the HTS may be imported, as provided in the State
Department's Section 515.582 List and subject to compliance with all
other relevant requirements under state and federal law and regulations.
Section 515.582 of the CACR authorizes the importation of all services
supplied by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, again, as provided in the
State Department's Section 515.582 List and subject to compliance with
other requirements in state and federal law and regulations.

Source: New US Treasury Info on Traveling to Cuba and Doing Business -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110685 Continue reading
Cuba: Where Bottle Caps Are Worth More Than a Medical Degree
April 17, 2015
Vicente Morin Aguado


HAVANA TIMES — "My son got his medical degree twenty years ago," Rogelio
tells me. "Today, he earns 1,460 Cuban pesos a month (70 usd). Actually,
they deduct 5 % for health services and 63 pesos for the Chinese fridge
Fidel sold us in exchange for the one we had for years. But we empty his
bank card after buying two or three steaks. We manage to make ends meet
thanks to the bottle caps."

The journalist interviewing the father and son cannot disguise his
surprise: "You make a living with bottle caps?"

"The good thing," the father says, "is that all caps are useful. They
have the same, standard measurements. The best ones, of course, are from
imported products: Heineken, Presidente, Bavaria, etc."

"You mean imported bottled beer?"

"Exactly. They are more resistant and grip the bottle top better after
you press them a second time, when you use them for a bottle full of
tomato purée or perhaps contraband beer."

It's hard to believe we're talking about an actual business. The son
with the medical degree answers some questions with a bit of information:

"Look, you can buy a pound of bottle caps in Havana for 10 Cuban pesos.
My dad takes them to Santa Clara, where they buy them for 30 cents the
piece."

The conclusion inevitably follows:

"There are approximately 200 bottle caps in the pound you buy in Havana.
People buy these per unit in the provinces, so 200 caps times 30 cents
per cap is 60 pesos, the math works for us. We make a 50 peso profit for
every pound. You of course have to deduct travel expenses, but we don't
make a trip with only a few pounds of caps."

The father and son look for people who sell the longed-for item at
restaurants, bars and supermarkets that sell products in hard currency,
for, even though the unit price doesn't change, the appeal of imported
products guarantees good business. Rogelio, the son, shoulders the
additional burden of doing health inspections around different
neighborhoods, in search of transmissible diseases that have suddenly
become common in Cuba: cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. As he puts it,
"sudden cases of suspicious diarrhea have become my specialty."

Rogelio continues: "When the old man heads off with the load (which is
never under 20 pounds), I go out to buy caps so as not to lose our
suppliers. I can only do this at night, when they're finishing up a day
of sales."

Buyers in Santa Clara and most other localities in the country's
interior are individual farmers, their families or cooperatives. They
prepare tomato, mango, guava and other preserves and store these in
glass bottles (as required by sanitary regulations). What's funny is
that the coveted bottle caps make their way back to the capital, because
its two-million anxious inhabitants constitute the country's largest
preserves market.

Like a seven-year-old, I have a whole battery of "whys" prepared. "Can't
you live off a doctor's salary?"

"I wish we could, but my son ends up with less than 1,300 pesos after
all deductions. That's about 50 dollars, which is the price of a good
pair of shoes. Can you imagine trying to keep the computer or telephone
running with that amount of money? Where would we end up, as the song says."

The 20 pounds of bottle caps they sell at 30 cents the piece during
every trip equal 1,200 pesos. If we calculate 200 pesos spent for
personal expenses, we are left with 1,000 pesos a week. A month of
selling bottle caps triples the salary earned by the medical doctor.

The unavoidable, naive questions keep coming: "But your son's education
was entirely free."

"Well, they didn't charge us a tuition or for the classes, but the
clothing, shoes, trips, going out with friends and girls, and books
(we're talking about a future doctor, a professional), the lap-top his
aunt sent him from Spain, who pays for all of that, considering prices
in Cuba, wages and the two currencies?"

Rogelito, the prodigal son, the pride of the family, concludes by
saying: "You can't fit bottle caps on jars of medicine, they are
forbidden by medical manufacturing regulations."

We finish the interview with a vigorous high-five: "May you continue to
prosper selling bottle caps!"

Source: Cuba: Where Bottle Caps Are Worth More Than a Medical Degree -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110698 Continue reading
A Million Fines for May Day?
April 18, 2015
Alejandro Rodriguez Rodriguez*

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba's Comprehensive Supervision Department (DIS) seems
to be repeating the refrain of an old song by Carlos Puebla: "If anyone
so much as sticks their heads out, cut 'em off!" It is almost as though
it has set out to apply the record-breaking figure of one million fines
before May 1st, the date in which Cubans gather at Havana's Revolution
Square to express their support and to condemn whatever they are told to
support and condemn.

Many DIS fines are applied by virtue of "Urban Planning" decrees.

Urban planning has nothing to do with the forced coupling of pretty men
and women or the sterilization of the ugly, the lame and the insane in
an effort to purify the race. Luckily, we haven't gone down that road.
Here, we limit eugenic efforts to keeping defective ideologies at bay,
by vilifying dissidents and treating non-enthusiasts as dissidents.

Hunting Down Offenders

Urban planning refers, rather, to the State institution responsible for
enforcing compliance with urban regulations. In other words, it is the
institution responsible for making life miserable for anyone who dares
place anything outside their home, be it a ladder, an awning or an
advertisement poster.

In the hunt for such offenders undertaken by the body of government
inspectors under the DIS, the self-employed are the ones who stand to
lose the most, for they are the most likely to operate without proper
authorization and to offer the juiciest bribes.

Small, private businesses in Cuba don't have many means of advertising
themselves. What they have, rather, are many obstacles in their way. The
legislation that applies to them appears to have been designed to hide
the explosion of this new economic actor from the public sight.

In the country's capital, people tend to take the risk of printing
flyers and posting them on walls and electrical posts, but, in cities in
Cuba's interior, locals fear that their ads will be taken for
counterrevolutionary propaganda.

There are also no walls or billboards that are rented out for the
purposes of advertising. All banners are already taken up by
announcements reminding people that saving is the country's main source
of income, and that the genocidal blockade prevents the import of
banners that could be used to condemn the genocidal blockade.

Putting Up An Advertising Sign

The process of setting up an advertising sign at the entrance to one's
business is extremely complicated. One is required to present seals,
property titles, a schematic drawing of the house in question, letters
of request, an approval signed by the owner of the house, the stamp of
approval from the Office of the Historian and any other bullshit
required by the bureaucrat on duty. Then, you have to renew your permit
every year, standing in line at the municipal Urban Planning Office, on
one of the two days of the week they renew licenses on.

Supposing the officials are actually there, that you don't show up when
they're fumigating the building, that you've arrived early enough and
that your documents are in order, you will be allowed to post a single
sign to the building's main facade. Perpendicular signs and any kind of
creativity are forbidden.

One goes away feeling that adopting a child is probably simpler.

The Yellow Page section of ETECSA's phone book offers a space for ads,
but, being an ETECSA offer, it has an ETECSA price. Those who don't have
the background should know that ETECSA, the sole telecommunications
operator in Cuba, charges the equivalent of US $ 4.50 for an hour of
Internet use (currently there is a 50 % discount) and sells mobile phone
lines at around US $ 40.00.

The National Information Agency (AIN) recently launched an ads service
for the self-employed, something which would be grandiose if it weren't
for the fact that the agency has very little impact on the public life
of the country.

In this context of physical difficulties, the digital is gaining more
and more ground and, today, in a Cuba deprived of Internet access, we
are seeing restaurants without signs that have their own web pages and
spots in the tolerated weekly film and TV series package many people buy.
—–
* Cuban journalist residing in Camaguey. Author of the blog Alejo3399

Source: A Million Fines for May Day? - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110700 Continue reading
Why Does Obama Want Diplomatic Relations With Cuba?
April 17, 2015
Omar Diaz de Arce* (Cafe Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES — Some days ago, I made some comments on a keen analysis
written by my friend Haroldo Dilla, dealing with the possible
re-establishment of relations between Washington and Havana. In my
remarks, I stated that, as I saw it, Dilla's formidable essay was
missing only one element: the answer as to why Obama is offering Raul
Castro the re-establishment of diplomatic relations at this moment.

The US president is a man of political vision and sensitivity and, much
like Carter and Clinton back in their day, realized that the United
States' isolation in the international arena, particularly in connection
with Latin America, could no longer be sustained by Washington. Not even
the formerly docile OAS could convene a hemispheric meeting without
including Havana in the gathering – and this year's was to be held in
Panama. This is to say nothing of the humiliating votes against the
embargo at the UN.

Of Spies and Allies

I was witness to how Cuban intelligence used a Colombian to infiltrate
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a practice that was very
much in vogue for more than 50 years within international organizations
and even the United States. A case in point is the much-talked-about
Pentagon super-spy Ana Belen Montes.

From the perspective of US interests, the move is perfectly logical, no
matter what Cuba's current situation is. This global intelligence and
diplomacy campaign served to pin Washington against the wall in the
international arena. It involved the way in which Fidel Castro was able
to approach and turn Hugo Chavez into an ally, giving him the podium at
the Grand Hall of the University of Havana, where the leader spoke of
revolution and his dreams of Bolivarian brotherhood as early as 1994.

Though Obama had barely paid any attention to Latin America, it didn't
take long for him to realize that something needed to be done to defuse
such a volatile situation, at a time when the Chinese offensive was
intensifying every day in the continent. That said, he had to maneuver
in secret, for the project's enemies were many and dangerous. Not even
the Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the now maligned
Senator Bob Menendez, found out about the negotiations, something which
served to deepen differences between the two.

Following several months of negotiations, we arrived at the 7th Summit
of the Americas in Panama (April 10-11), where a number of unprecedented
developments were seen. First, the public, face-to-face meeting between
Barack Obama and Raul Castro. The most striking incident was the attempt
of Havana agents to break up the so-called "civil society forum." Thanks
to TV news coverage, we were privy to the violent "reprisals" against
dissidents and members of the opposition that took place during the
summit. It was a decadent spectacle that alerted the world – not only
the Latin American delegations present – of the hypocritical double-talk
of the Cuban dictatorship: praise for Obama on the one hand, and an open
war against those who question the repressive, one-party system in place
in Havana, allegedly as a means of defending itself against the
"blockade," as the propaganda frames the long battle against the embargo.

Yes to Some Things, No to Others

The new Castro policy made clear in Panama could be summarized in a
single phrase: "we will budge in some areas, but not in others."

At any rate, in his speech, Raul Castro offered listeners a history
lesson that prompted an ironic remark by Obama (let us skip the rather
regrettable remarks made by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa), a
comment Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner didn't understand,
inviting Castro to devote a good part of his address to emphasizing his
interest in history and lecturing others on the usefulness of learning
its lessons.

Castro's Most Eloquent Historical Reference

"On April 6, 1960, a little over year after the triumph of the
revolution, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lester Malloroy drafted
a memorandum that is simply perverse – I cannot find a better word for
it. This memorandum was declassified many years later. I quote some
excerpts from it: "(…) The majority of Cubans support Castro (…) there
is no effective political opposition. (…)The only foreseeable means of
alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection
based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship (…)it follows that every
possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life
of Cuba (…) denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and
real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."

"When I arrived in Miami in 1991, the policy traced in this memorandum
written by Mallory was referred to as the "pressure cooker" strategy,
or, as Cubans say, "putting the jar under the flame until the bottom
drops out." Cuba, and diplomats at the UN, justifiably began to refer to
this as a genocidal policy."

A List of Grievances

As was to be expected, the general didn't care to mention all of the
brutal actions perpetrated by his brother, Fidel Castro, and by himself,
since the beginning of the 1960s, actions which included the execution
of military officers and opponents, numerous incursions by armed
guerrillas throughout the continent, involvement in African wars that
cost Cuba thousands of lives (and whose only aim was satisfying the ego
of the top leader, though the pretext was the giving aid to peoples of
other parts of the world), the introduction of Soviet nuclear weapons
into the country (which put the very existence of the nation and perhaps
humanity at risk), a revolutionary offensive that "nationalized" even
the smallest food kiosks, the 10-million-ton sugarcane harvest which
paralyzed the country from 1969 to 1970, innumerable plans dreamt up by
the Comandante which failed miserably, the splitting up of Cuban
families, the mass exodus of several generations of Cubans, generalized
oppression and elimination of civil and political rights, the total
censorship of the press and the suppression of freedom of expression,
alliances with the worst dictatorships on the planet (Gadhafi, North
Korea, Bashar al Assad, Ceaucescu, Stalinist Soviet leaders, etc.) and
others which would simply make this list of grievances endless.

Raul Castro justifies the whole of this disastrous political and
economic leadership as a legitimate means of defense against a policy
that sought to overthrow the revolutionary government. This last part is
true: the aim was to put an end to Cuban communism. But it's evident the
way to prevent this was not to raze the economy, infrastructure and
population's desire to live in Cuba to the ground before the Americans
did, as a recent survey conducted on the island sadly revealed. We
should also not forget that, on several occasions, Havana turned down
Washington offers to hold talks, something which would no doubt have
spared Cubans many misunderstandings and grievances.

This past Tuesday, President Obama took yet another step consistent with
his policy of rapprochement with the hostile neighbor and approved the
removal of Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
Incidentally, George W. Bush took a similar step when he removed
Gadhafi's Libya and North Korea from the list, but it seems no one wants
to remember that.

The decision also serves the purpose of depriving Raul Castro of reasons
to stick to the discourse of confrontation and untie the Gordian knot of
discord between Washington and Latin America. It is no doubt a clever
policy serving the strategic steps being taken by the United States in
the new stage of our globalized and interconnected world.
—–
* PhD in Historical Sciences and former professor of Latin American
Political Thought at the Faculty of History of the University of Havana.
Currently resides in Miami.

Source: Why Does Obama Want Diplomatic Relations With Cuba? - Havana
Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=110693 Continue reading
Pasaportes de primera y de segunda clase El cubano da acceso a 68 países sin visado, el estadounidense a 147 14YMEDIO, La Habana | Abril 18, 2015 En la bolsa internacional de valores, el pasaporte cubano cotiza muy por debajo de su homólogo estadounidense. El primero sólo permite el acceso a 68 países sin necesidad […] Continue reading
¿Cómo llegó Cuba a la lista de países que patrocinan el terrorismo? NORA GÁMEZ TORRES NGAMEZTORRES@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM 04/18/2015 12:00 PM 04/18/2015 11:57 PM Mientras una nueva batalla entre la Casa Blanca y el Congreso podría estar a la vista tras la recomendación del presidente Barack Obama de eliminar a Cuba de la lista de países que […] Continue reading
Cambiar o no cambiar regímenes, ésa es la cuestión CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER 04/18/2015 2:00 PM 04/18/2015 6:00 PM El presidente Barack Obama, tras asegurarle su amigo John Kerry que Cuba, últimamente, se comporta dulcemente, como el Vaticano, eliminó a la Isla de la lista de países que colaboran con el terrorismo. Era previsible. Obama había […] Continue reading
Reappearing by Phone / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on April 17, 2015

Reinaldo Escobar, 17 April 2015 — Fidel Castro made another public
appearance, this time speaking by phone Randy Perdomo Garcia, president
of the Federation of University Students (FEU) at the University of
Havana. The meeting took place in the meeting hall of the University of
Oriente in Santiago de Cuba and was witnessed by young Havanans that
make up the so-called Detachment of the 70th anniversary of Fidel's
admission to the University of Havana.

The group of students used their vacation week in April to take a tour
of different places, especially those related to Fidel Castro
personally. They visited his birthplace in Biran, the Moncada Barracks,
the balcony where he proclaimed the triumph of the Revolution, Pico
Turquino and other historic sites, as defined in the official chronicle
as, "Where the commander left a mark of gratitude to patriots who
preceded him."

With the slogan "Fidel In My Heart" on their sweatshirts, every time
they finished visiting a museum, monument or plaza, they ended it by
shouting "Viva Fidel!" over and over. The great surprise – perhaps as a
prize for their loyalty – was receiving a phone call from the historic
leader. From his end of the phone Randy Perdomo Garcia told him what
they had been doing, while the former president asked if they had eaten
well on the tour. National television used subtitles so that the
audience could understand what the old man was saying.

Source: Reappearing by Phone / Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/returning-by-phone-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
Apología de la hamburguesa RAÚL RIVERO 04/18/2015 2:00 PM 04/18/2015 10:31 PM Madrid – Hay un olvido perverso y un menosprecio dictado por la ignorancia o la miseria humana en esa entelequia sin fronteras conocida como “amigos de Cuba” que celebran hasta los amaneceres la eventual entrada masiva en la isla de inversores extranjeros como […] Continue reading
FMI monitorea negociaciones EEUU-Cuba POR LUIS ALONSO LUGO ASSOCIATED PRESS 04/18/2015 5:20 PM 04/18/2015 5:21 PM WASHINGTON El Fondo Monetario Internacional realiza un seguimiento a las negociaciones que Cuba y Estados Unidos adelantan desde diciembre para normalizar sus relaciones diplomáticas, informó el sábado la propia institución sin adelantar trabajo técnico alguno sobre la economía de […] Continue reading
Dos disidentes concurren a unos comicios en Cuba por primera vez Los candidatos, un jurista de 65 años y un informático de 26, son calificados de contrarrevolucionarios en las biografías oficiales AGENCIAS La Habana 18 ABR 2015 – 23:37 CEST ALEJANDRO ERNESTO (EFE) Dos disidentes cubanos concurren este domingo por primera vez a los comicios […] Continue reading
JOSÉ MANUEL ESTÉVEZ-SAÁ

El bloqueo de Cuba

EL DESCONOCIMIENTO de la realidad cubana hace que caigamos en la
tentación, o en el error, de interpretar la miseria y ruina que vive la
República caribeña como resultado de cinco décadas de bloqueo
norteamericano, y no como respuesta a una incautación monetaria y una
ineficiencia gestora escandalosas. Y no lo digo porque el famoso embargo
estadounidense no sea más que la respuesta a las expropiaciones y
usurpaciones contra Derecho realizadas por el Gobierno cubano a familias
y empresas de EEUU y del resto del mundo (sólo en Galicia se cuentan por
cientos –unas 3.000 en España– las familias a las que el régimen les
usurpó su dinero, sus locales, sus viviendas y sus terrenos).

Tampoco lo digo porque EEUU, pese al supuesto embargo, sigue siendo el
primer proveedor agroalimentario de Cuba, y un socio comercial
preferente, en competencia con la UE, Canadá, Brasil y Argentina. Ni
siquiera lo digo por el hecho de que, si realmente EEUU quisiera
bloquear a Cuba, no tendría más que dejar de comprarle y refinarle el
petróleo a Venezuela, principal suministradora de la Isla, para cargarse
a los dos países de un plumazo. Y créanme que lo podría hacer dadas sus
saturadas reservas de crudo y sus nuevas fórmulas de extracción.

Por eso creo que cuando alguien habla del "bloqueo de Cuba", más bien se
refiere al que ejerce la dictadura contra sus ciudadanos, a los que les
ha arrebatado la libertad de prensa y expresión (600 detenciones en las
últimas semanas), a los que les tiene bloqueado el acceso a las divisas
de valor internacional, a los que les ha sustraído los títulos de
propiedad, a los que les priva de los derechos jurídicos básicos, a los
que les dificulta el acceso a Internet, a los que somete a la disciplina
del Partido Comunista único, a los que margina frente al turista, y a
los que les impide viajar al extranjero (pese al simulacro de Reforma
Migratoria). También puede referirse a la injerencia frente al inversor
extranjero, al que no permite crear empresas privadas, al que somete a
la intervención estatal, al que le impone jerarquías de gestión, y al
que le impide la libre contratación laboral (véase el despropósito de la
Ley de Inversión Extranjera).

Así pues, antes de achacar a EEUU los males de Cuba, es bueno que
repasemos las fases del embargo, las escasas restricciones comerciales
que exige Washington, o los cuantiosos beneficios económicos que el mal
llamado "bloqueo" ha generado para la isla antillana procedentes de
Rusia (antes la URSS y el Comecon) y China (hasta hace poco, claro, de
ahí el interés en estrechar lazos con EEUU, que también saldría
beneficiado con el levantamiento del "embargo"). Incluso las
resoluciones de la ONU contrarias al bloqueo no son más que un gesto que
busca debilitar los vínculos entre los bloques bolivarianos y comunistas.


www.josemanuelestevezsaa.com

Source: El bloqueo de Cuba -
http://www.elcorreogallego.es/opinion/ecg/jose-manuel-estevez-saa-bloqueo-cuba/idEdicion-2015-04-19/idNoticia-927110/ Continue reading
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 14, 2015

CERTIFICATION OF RESCISSION OF CUBA'S DESIGNATION AS
A STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM

Pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the United States,
and consistent with section 6(j)(4)(B) of the Export
Administration Act of 1979, Public Law 96-72, as amended
(50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)), and as continued in effect by
Executive Order 13222 of August 17, 2001, I hereby certify,
with respect to the rescission of the determination of March 1,
1982, regarding Cuba that:
(i) the Government of Cuba has not provided any support
for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period;
and
(ii) the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that
it will not support acts of international terrorism in the
future.
This certification shall also satisfy the provisions of
section 620A(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961,
Public Law 87-195, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2371(c)), and
section 40(f)(1)(B) of the Arms Export Control Act, Public
Law 90-629, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2780(f)).

BARACK OBAMA
THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 14, 2015.

http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/cuba-es/article18868890.ece/BINARY/Certificaci%C3%B3n%20presidencial%20que%20elimina%20a%20Cuba%20de%20la%20lista%20de%20patrocinadores%20del%20terrorismo Continue reading
La prensa internacional ve ‘histórico’ que dos disidentes estén en las ‘elecciones’ AGENCIAS | La Habana | 19 Abr 2015 – 8:57 am. Medios del régimen lo usan como una demostración de sistema electoral ‘democrático’. Varios medios de prensa internacional destacan este domingo la presencia de dos disidentes como candidatos en las ‘elecciones’ municipales que […] Continue reading
La ‘apertura’ del ‘Granma’ HILDEBRANDO CHAVIANO MONTES | La Habana | 19 Abr 2015 – 7:39 am. En un texto sobre las ‘elecciones’ de hoy, se dice que ‘todo ciudadano tiene derecho a un solo voto […], sin tener en cuenta [su] posición política”. El diario Granma, en su edición del miércoles 15 de abril, […] Continue reading
Hildebrando Chaviano y Yuniel López, dos opositores en las listas de candidatos para las ‘elecciones’ municipales DDC | Madrid | 16 Abr 2015 – 5:32 pm. DDC presenta un Mapa-Reportaje que incluye la ubicación y límites de sus circunscripciones, así como los datos biográficos de ambos. Los electores de los municipios Plaza de la Revolución […] Continue reading
El Banco Mundial dice que el reingreso de Cuba requiere de ‘un proceso especial’ DDC | Washington | 18 Abr 2015 – 11:25 pm. El paso previo, afirma el presidente de la institución, es que la Isla se integre al FMI. El presidente del Banco Mundial, Jim Yong Kim, ha manifestado, en una entrevista con […] Continue reading
Cambiar o no cambiar regímenes CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER | Miami | 18 Abr 2015 – 7:06 pm. Obama tiene, al menos, dos graves problemas con su anulación de la voluntad norteamericana de cambiar y sostener regímenes. El presidente Barack Obama, tras asegurarle su amigo John Kerry que últimamente Cuba se comporta con dulzura, casi como […] Continue reading
Cuba: How it was added to the list of countries that sponsor terrorism
NORA GÁMEZ TORRES NGAMEZTORRES@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM
04/18/2015 8:17 PM 04/18/2015 8:55 PM

While a new battle line between the White House and Congress emerges
with President Barack Obama's request to remove Cuba from the list of
countries that sponsor terrorism, the issue raises the question: just
how did Cuba get blacklisted?

The story goes back to 1981, to the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the
Cold War. A few weeks after his inauguration in March of that year, the
National Security Council began debating over how to respond to the
civil war in El Salvador. Reagan was determined to stop the Soviet
influence in the area promoted by the Cubans.

Secretary of State at the time, Alexander Haig, advocated "going to the
source" and invade Cuba, which was giving aid and weapons to the
guerrillas in El Salvador, though the proposal was not supported,
according to a detailed account in the book Back Channel to Cuba, The
Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, authored
by Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande.

From declassified documents, interviews with former officials,
newspaper articles and memoirs, the authors document the political
conflicts and secret negotiations between the United States and Cuba for
five decades, including those that precipitated the inclusion of Cuba on
the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

Although direct invasion was ruled out at that time, Haig tried to
pressure Fidel Castro with the threat of military action to get Cuba to
desist from supporting the guerrillas in Central America.

Toward the end of 1981 and the deterioration of the armed conflict in El
Salvador, the U.S. tightened the embargo, the granting of visas to Cuban
officials and announced plans to create Radio Martí. The Pentagon also
developed a plan of progressive sanctions against Cuba, with the aim of
discouraging the Cuban government to intervene in the area.

Castro responded with "the war of the entire population."

"It was precisely in the midst of threats and growing danger when we
started to think, (...) we truly reached new and revolutionary concepts
of defense; that's how it went from the old conception of military
defense of the country — in the field of battle and all that secures and
supports the combat in any variant of aggression —...to a conception of
the defense of the country as a joint task of the Armed Forces and of
all the people and, therefore, all the people should be organized and
prepared for this fight," Castro said retrospectively in a speech in 1984.

However, despite the rhetoric of intransigence within the island, the
Cuban government sent private messages about their interest in
participating in a possible "peaceful solution" to the conflict and said
it had suspended the supply of arms to the guerrillas in El Salvador and
the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, but a series of secret diplomatic talks
proved equally futile.

With mediation from Mexican President José López Portillo, who had
already met privately with Castro in Cozumel, Mexican Vice President
Carlos Rafael Rodriguez had a secret meeting with Haig in November 1981
at the home of Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda in Mexico City.
Rodriguez announced Cuba's support for an agreement in El Salvador, if
it was endorsed by the guerrillas. Meanwhile, Haig requested a complete
cessation of support by Cuba for the guerrillas and its withdrawal from
Africa, points at which the Cubans were unwilling to budge. Nor did they
agree to end their "friendship" with the Soviet Union.

In January 1982, President Reagan declared in his State of the Union
address: "Toward those who would export terrorism and subversion in the
Caribbean and elsewhere, especially Cuba and Libya, we will act with
firmness."

Subsequently, in March of that year and after the call for another round
of negotiations to be conducted again by Mexican President Portillo —
who warned in a speech that direct U.S. military intervention would be a
"gigantic historic error" — President Reagan sent Special Ambassador
Vernon Walters on a secret mission to meet with Fidel and tell him the
U.S. wanted Cuba out of Central America or else they would have to face
the consequences. The "consequence" was Cuba's inclusion in the list of
state sponsors of terrorism, said Kornbluh, director of the
documentation project on Cuba at the National Security Archive.

"The discussions with Walters were very difficult," Rodriguez told Miami
Herald reporter, Alfonso Chardy, a year later at his office in Havana.
"The problem was not that they were tough; they were very interesting,
filled with anecdotes ... but Walters had not come to...negotiate but to
explore Cuban positions over various problems, test the atmosphere, see
Fidel personally."

According to the reporter, Rodriguez complained that Walters constantly
interrupted Fidel Castro.

Effective March 1, 1982, the State Department included Cuba on the list
of countries supporting terrorism, while Iraq was removed. Months later,
a CIA report concluded that "Cuba's repeated offers to negotiate in
Central America are an effort to gain time and obtain a propaganda
advantage."

"The addition of Cuba was not considered significant at the time since
the United States already had comprehensive economic sanctions on Cuba
dating back to the early 1960s; as a result, the economic sanctions
associated with being added to the terrorism list would have had no
practical significance," states an investigative report on the subject
submitted to Congress in 2005.

"By removing Cuba from the list, the Obama administration has not only
opened the door to normal diplomatic relations but has finally regained
some of the credibility of the list itself. Cuba never adjusted to the
definition of a state that supports international terrorism," Kornbluh
told el Nuevo Herald.

Critics of the move, such as presidential candidate Marco Rubio, have
harsh words for the White House.

"The decision made by the White House... is a terrible one, but not
surprising unfortunately," Rubio said in a statement. "Cuba is a state
sponsor of terrorism. They harbor fugitives of American justice,
including someone who killed a police officer in New Jersey over 30
years ago. It's also the country that's helping North Korea evade
weapons sanctions by the United Nations. They should have remained on
the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and I think it sends a chilling
message to our enemies abroad that this White House is no longer serious
about calling terrorism by its proper name."

North Korea was removed from the list in 2008, by President George W.
Bush. The three countries that remain in the list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter @ngameztorres

SUMMARY: CUBA AND THE LIST OF TERRORIST NATIONS

▪ The meeting between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro at the recent Summit
of the Americas should have sealed the deal to remove Cuba from the list
of countries that sponsor terrorism, a determination the president
recently made and reported to Congress.

▪ As of December 17, the day of the historic announcement of restoring
diplomatic ties, the State Department began an investigation to
determine whether Cuba 1). was providing support to international
terrorist organizations in the past six months and 2). could do so in
the future.

▪ A senior State Department official reported that Cuba had given
assurances, "a relatively wide range and high level" that it "will not
support acts of terrorism in the future." The Cubans, for its part,
agreed to negotiate with the United States the issue of fugitives
seeking refuge on the island, including Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata
Shakur) and William Morales.

▪ Josefina Vidal, Director General for the United States at Cuba's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "The government of Cuba recognizes the just
decision taken by the U.S. President to eliminate Cuba from a list in
which it should have never been included."

▪ Secretary of State John Kerry: "Circumstances have changed since 1982,
when Cuba was included for its efforts to promote armed revolution in
Latin America. Our hemisphere, and the world is very different from what
it was 33 years ago. "

▪ Congress now has 45 days to accept or pass a joint resolution to block
Obama's decision, for which requires a majority vote. The president can
veto the resolution and Congress, in turn, may appeal the veto.

Source: Cuba: How it was added to the list of countries that sponsor
terrorism | Miami Herald Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article18886467.html Continue reading
Cuba's Next Communists: Why Obama Needs Them To Make Engagement Work
By TIM PADGETT/PANAMA CITY

Cuban President Raúl Castro was the longest speaker at last weekend's
Summit of the Americas in Panama. At age 83, he was also the oldest.

And that matters as the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations after a half
century of cold war – a process that on Tuesday led President Obama to
remove Cuba from the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors.

It matters because President Obama says his new engagement policy isn't
meant to change Cuba overnight. It's meant to help the U.S. influence
democratic change once Castro's generation of hardline communists is gone.

But that begs the question: What about Cuba's next generation of communists?

The eventual success or failure of Obama's strategy may well depend on
how Gorbachev-like they turn out to be, on how they interpret the
leftist maxim that "every generation has to make their own revolution,"
as Cuban communist Sergio Gómez told me at the Panama summit.

At age 27, Gómez is a senior international editor for Granma, Cuba's
official communist newspaper. He's an intellectually bright, articulate
and well traveled Marxist, and he's part of the cohort that could play a
more pivotal role when Castro leaves power in 2018 as he's promised.

For that reason I sought out Gómez and a number of young oficialistas,
or Castro loyalists, who had a large presence at the summit – the first
Cuba had ever been invited to attend.

I didn't expect them to stray from the party line. Gómez, for example,
still bristles at the U.S.

"We have been enemies," he said. "We are still enemies."

Cuba's political system is changing over time – except its principles
and values. – Sergio Gomez
But I did listen for any hint that they might be more open to the kind
of reform U.S. eventually hopes to see in Cuba. This, after all, is a
group that is better educated and more knowledgeable about the U.S. than
Castro's cohort ever was.

"Since we are small [children] we learn about the United States," said
Gómez. "We almost know everything about the United States because it's
important in our own life."

That means they know about things like multi-party elections. Those are
still prohibited in Cuba – but in February the communist youth
newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, hosted an unusual online forum that allowed
Cubans to suggest electoral reforms.

So I asked the loyalists if they consider freer elections a possibility
in post-Castro Cuba.

While Gómez defended Cuba's autocratic government, he also made a
telling argument: Cuba's system, he said, is a necessary defense against
U.S. aggression.

"The political system in Cuba is not the result of a normal situation,
that's important to know," he said. "A half century of confrontation
between the United States and Cuba. We have been in a war the [past]
half century."

OK. But if I accept that premise, I said, doesn't the rapprochement
between Washington and Havana mean Cuba can chill now and loosen up?

Gómez at least left the door open:

"Our political system is changing with time," he said. "We can change
[it] – except [its] principles and values."

That last part, however – defining what the Cuban Revolution's
inviolable "principles and values" are – is a big stumbling block. Is
the one-party system one of them? Many of the oficialistas I spoke with
seemed to think so – and they're convinced Cuba already is a democracy.

CHE GUEVARA T-SHIRTS

"It's not recognized in any international treaty that democracy means
[a] multi-party system," said Patricia Flechilla, 26, who wore a dark
red T-shirt sporting the iconic image of revolutionary Che Guevara.

Flechilla is a member of the Federation of Cuban Women, a key communist
party satellite group. To her, multi-party elections were part of the
corrupt world the revolution overthrew in 1959.

"We had different parties [but] we didn't have education, we didn't have
[a] healthcare system," she said.

Flechilla also made it clear that the U.S. may not find Cuba's next
communists all that easy to deal with on another core issue: human
rights. For starters, the young comunistas don't even see a free speech
problem in Cuba:

"If you go to Cuba, you will see that we have many, many spaces to have
dialogues," Flechilla insisted.

Cuban dissidents often go to jail for publicly speaking against the
Castro regime. But many of them were allowed to attend the Panama
summit. Even so, the Castro loyalists tended to regard them all as
U.S.-sponsored traitors.

"When they speak openly against the government [inside Cuba]," said
Flechilla, "they do it trying to subvert the public order. And that is
against the law."

Still, younger communists like Dianet Martínez do reflect one ray of
human rights advancement: a new tolerance for religion. Martínez is a
Presbyterian communist (that's not a writer's error) and she belongs to
the Student Christian Movement of Cuba – a group whose government
endorsement once would have been unthinkable.

"If I'm here today, it's because of the right of expression I have in
Cuba," Martínez argued.

And the one area of reform the loyalists did find acceptable was the
moribund Cuban economy.

"Our economy hasn't worked exactly as we need," Granma's Gómez admitted.

That's a major understatement. But the acknowledgment is good news for
U.S. engagement policy, because making Cuba's economy work again means
promoting private businesses – and that sector's independence could
undermine communist authority.

Which means it could have a lot to say about how Cuba's next generation,
as the young communists told me, makes it own revolution.

Tim Padgett is WRLN's Americas editor.

Source: Cuba's Next Communists: Why Obama Needs Them To Make Engagement
Work | WLRN -
http://wlrn.org/post/cubas-next-communists-why-obama-needs-them-make-engagement-work Continue reading
Gov. Cuomo heads to Cuba on trade mission to help New York businesses,
but critics say he has different agenda
BY GLENN BLAIN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Saturday, April 18, 2015, 11:22 PM

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo heads to Cuba Monday on a trade mission that critics
charge is aimed more at generating headlines than creating economic
opportunities for New York.

Cuomo will leave Monday morning and will spend just over a day on the
island nation in what administration officials insist is an effort to
open pathways for New York businesses.

The taxpayer-funded trip is the first by a U.S. governor since President
Obama decided in December to normalize relations with Cuba.

"This trade mission, part of the broader Global NY initiative, will
guarantee that New York businesses are first in line to take advantage
of this new, emerging economic market," said Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa
DeRosa.

Cuomo's office has released sparse details on the mission — including
his precise itinerary — but he is expected to travel with a delegation
of about 20 business and government leaders, including Assembly Speaker
Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

Critics argued Cuba has little to offer New York businesses and
questioned Cuomo's motives.

"Let's be honest, there is not a lot of money to be made in an
impoverished place with little free enterprise," said E.J. McMahon of
the Empire Center for Public Policy.

"It's political and it's hypocritical," added state GOP Chairman Ed Cox.

Although the Obama administration has loosened travel and other
restrictions, Cuba is still subject to sanctions and a trade embargo
that can only be lifted by Congress. The President met with Cuban leader
Raul Castro last week in Panama and both pledged to work towards better
relations.

John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a
business group, said it would have been better to wait until the two
nations were further along in establishing relations.

"The potential outcomes would be better because the financial
impediments would have been removed," Kavulich said.

Administration officials say the state can reap long-term gains by
establishing ties now.

"New York is a leader in protecting and advancing human rights under
Gov. Cuomo, and while we cannot ignore our disagreements with the Cuban
government, as the President has said, we can do more to support the
Cuban people and promote our values through engagement and diplomacy,
rather than by continuing a policy of isolation which has failed for the
last 50 years," DeRosa said.

Source: Cuomo heads to Cuba on trade mission to help N.Y. businesses -
NY Daily News -
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-heads-cuba-trade-mission-n-y-businesses-article-1.2190476 Continue reading
Cuba is an enduring challenge to American foreign policy, politics
By Arthur Cyr, For the Deseret News
Published: Sunday, April 19 2015 12:00 a.m. MDT

Obama still has time to launch effective, sustained efforts at
bipartisan cooperation with Congress. The Republican majorities in both
houses make that essential for success in dealing with Cuba.
"You know, next time you're going to have to do better, Mr. President."

That was former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, talking with successor
John F. Kennedy about the devastating failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay
of Pigs in early 1961. JFK had reached out for political cover and also
insight regarding the military defeat and diplomatic disaster at the
start of his administration.

The current news about Cuba and President Barack Obama is considerably
more positive. On April 11, he met with Cuba's President Raul Castro.
Their conversation in Panama City, Panama, during the Summit of the
Americas, may prove of historic importance.

For the first time since the Castro dictatorship took power in early
1959, heads of the two governments engaged in a direct face-to-face
meeting. At the end of the historic meeting, the two men shook hands.

The summits have been held every three to four years since 1994, when
the first was held in Miami, Florida during the Clinton administration.
The Soviet Union had disintegrated, satellite regimes of Eastern Europe
had collapsed and China had announced capitalist reforms.

Cuba was excluded from previous summits. One byproduct of the meetings
was to underscore the isolation of the surviving but economically
struggling communist dictatorship. However, in recent years, Latin
American governments have pressed for inclusion.

The earlier Summit of the Americas, held in 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia,
initiated the opening to Cuba. All the participating heads of government
of Latin America and the Caribbean voted to invite Havana. Canada, as
well as the United States, voted against the proposal, but were
isolated. Obama's efforts at rapprochement reflect this evolving
political reality, which complements his own policy preferences.

President Raul Castro understandably generated considerable attention
from the media, as well as delegates. He ignored the request of
conference organizers that speakers keep to relatively brief remarks; he
spoke for nearly an hour. This recalled his predecessor and brother
Fidel Castro's propensity for exceptionally lengthy orations.

President Castro made news in February 2013 by announcing that he will
retire from his office in 2018. Brother Fidel stepped down from the same
post in 2008, after turning 85 years of age.

Likely successor Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is a loyal middle-aged
functionary with a reputation for bland bureaucratic effectiveness. If
iron control by the Brothers Castro does end, there may be opportunities
for greater reform. The growth of democracy throughout the Americas sets
the stage.

Fidel Castro greatly escalated Cold War tensions by alliance with the
Soviet Union soon after taking power. In 1960, he joined Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev in a raucous visit to the UN in New York, punctuated
by Khrushchev pounding a shoe on a desk. JFK made Cuba a presidential
campaign priority in the same year.

Cuba has been a hot button in American politics ever since. Republican
Sen. Marco Rubio, from Florida with a Cuban heritage, is a strong critic
of the Cuba initiative. On April 13, he formally declared as a
presidential candidate.

History remains instructive. JFK recovered from the Bay of Pigs through
successful management of the exceptionally dangerous Cuban missile
crisis. The resulting nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union won
Senate passage by a bipartisan 80-19.

Obama still has time to launch effective, sustained efforts at
bipartisan cooperation with Congress. The Republican majorities in both
houses make that essential for success.

Arthur I. Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College in
Wisconsin and author of "After the Cold War." He can be reached at
acyr@carthage.edu.

Source: Cuba is an enduring challenge to American foreign policy,
politics | Deseret News -
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865626767/Cuba-is-an-enduring-challenge-to-American-foreign-policy-politics.html Continue reading
Salud para algunos
FERNANDO DÁMASO | La Habana | 18 Abr 2015 - 11:47 am.

La Habana va a ser sede de una convención sobre la cobertura universal
de los servicios médicos. Las delegaciones extranjeras no conocerán el
estado de los hospitales cubanos.

Próximamente, del 20 al 24 de abril, se celebrará en La Habana la
Convención Internacional Cuba-Salud 2015, bajo el lema "Salud para
todos, cobertura universal".

Según sus organizadores, La Habana "será la capital de la salud pública
mundial". Entre las muchas temáticas a discutir se anuncian: "el estado
de salud de la población y sus determinantes sociales" y "la
organización de los sistemas sanitarios y servicios asistenciales, para
resolver esos problemas con soluciones costo eficaces, que permitan
brindar el más elevado nivel de atención médico social a la población de
manera sostenible, en un marco siempre de equidad y justicia social".

Como ya se asegura, el evento tendrá gran importancia y aportará muchos
valiosos resultados.

Casualmente en estos días, por problemas de salud de familiares y amigos
cercanos, he tenido que visitar algunos hospitales de la ciudad de La
Habana, concretamente el América Arias, conocido popularmente como
Maternidad de Línea; el Joaquín Albarrán, conocido como el Clínico
Quirúrgico de 26, y el Calixto García. Debo señalar que, por lo general,
el profesionalismo del personal médico y de enfermería es encomiable y
merece el mayor respeto. Sin embargo, las condiciones
higiénico-sanitarias y el estado constructivo de estos centros de salud,
dejan mucho que desear.

Todos están afectados por problemas similares: falta de mantenimientos y
de reparaciones durante años y, cuando al fin se hacen, como sucede en
algunas áreas del Calixto García, se realizan con baja calidad por
personal sin la calificación requerida, sin asegurarse posteriormente el
cuidado de lo reparado, lo que produce su rápido deterioro.

Pueden encontrarse entonces salas de cirugía sin condiciones de asepsia
o cerradas por largos períodos de tiempo; locales sucios y
antihigiénicos, donde los pacientes deben esperar para consultas o donde
son hospitalizados; falsos techos con roturas y moho; filtraciones en
pisos y paredes; elevadores clausurados y, el que funciona, sucio y
utilizado para todo (trasladar enfermos, visitantes, cadáveres, basura,
comidas, etcétera), como sucede en el Joaquín Albarrán; muebles
descascarados y faltos de pintura; locales clausurados o en peligro de
derrumbe y prestación de servicios en áreas limitadas, como sucede en el
América Arias; sanitarios sin herrajes y con salideros; sistemas
eléctricos colapsados; puertas y ventanas rotas, defectuosas o mal
instaladas, así como otros muchos males.

Quien tenga dudas sobre estas realidades, puede comprobarlas acudiendo a
los mismos como simple ciudadano. Estoy seguro que descubrirá muchas más.

Estos centros, como es de suponer, no forman parte del "circuito
turístico" por el que nuestras autoridades pasean a los visitantes
extranjeros, para mostrarles los "éxitos" del sistema de salud cubano.
De seguro, no serán tampoco visitados por los participantes en
Cuba-Salud 2015. Tampoco parecen interesar al titular de la salud,
dedicado principalmente a "exitoso empresario" para el alquiler de
médicos a otros países y a luchar contra la epidemia de ébola en África,
actividades que aportan más dividendos económicos y políticos, y con
poco tiempo para ocuparse de la salud en Cuba.

Esta situación no es única de estos centros y se encuentra bastante
generalizada, con excepción de aquéllas clínicas y hospitales para
dirigentes, sus allegados y funcionarios escogidos, y los que ofrecen el
denominado "turismo de salud" a extranjeros, en divisas contantes y
sonantes.

El desastroso estado de los centros de salud que atienden a los cubanos
de a pie, además de una vergüenza para quienes se autoproclaman (con el
beneplácito de la OMS) paladines de la salud mundial, es también una
falta de respeto al personal médico y de enfermería que tiene que
prestar sus servicios en ellos y a los enfermos que están obligados a
utilizarlos.

Aunque la propaganda del Ministerio de Salud Pública, e inclusive sus
recetas impresas, proclaman: "Los Servicios de Salud en Cuba son
Gratuitos pero CUESTAN"", la realidad no es así. Estos servicios de
salud ya han sido más que pagados por cada trabajador y trabajadora de
este país, inclusive por quienes nunca o muy pocas veces han hecho uso
de ellos, con lo que han dejado de recibir durante 56 años cobrando
salarios de miseria. Además, si le cuestan a alguien, es a los ciudadanos.

Antes, durante la República, cuando se quería halagar la limpieza y la
higiene, se decía: "Está tan limpio como un hospital". Decirlo hoy sería
una ironía y hasta una ofensa.

Source: Salud para algunos | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1429330615_14069.html Continue reading
China apuesta por invertir en el ámbito de la apicultura cubana
DDC | Sancti Spíritus | 18 Abr 2015 - 3:18 pm.

El embajador chino en la Isla elogia la calidad del procesado de miel en
la Isla.

El embajador de la República Popular China en Cuba, Zhang Tuo, manifestó
el viernes el interés del país asiático por diversificar sus inversiones
en la Isla y especialmente en la rama de la apicultura, informa la
prensa local.

El diplomático chino comentó que es un sector de gran interés para
China, puesto que el país está entre los principales exportadores del
surtido en el mundo, pero que su calidad de procesado no es tan buena
como en Cuba.

Tuo visitó la Planta de Procesamiento y Beneficio de Miel de Sancti
Spíritus, cuyo procesado es 100% natural, sin residuos químicos en su
composición, y se encuentra recientemente avalado por los indicadores de
control de la Unión Europea (UE), afirmó el diplomático.

El embajador elogió a los trabajadores de la fábrica, quienes asumen en
la actualidad el procesamiento de la miel en el territorio cubano.

Source: China apuesta por invertir en el ámbito de la apicultura cubana
| Diario de Cuba - http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1429366732_14075.html Continue reading
[caption id="attachment_39900" align="aligncenter" width="623"] [1] Among the many businesses that have flourished since the recent relaxations for self-employment, there are not many bakeries. (14ymedio)[/caption] [2]14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 17 April 2015 -- Eliot's Bakery dawned this Friday with the kneading blade broken and a line of people waiting to buy a baguette or a bagel. Eliot’s brother hurried over to fix the broken blade, because, “You can’t have a day with no sales, the loss is tremendous,” says the concerned baker. This self-employed worker has opened a unique business in Havana's Timba neighborhood, offering a great variety of baked goods. Every day that he manages to overcome the high prices of raw material and the infrastructure problems, he counts as an accomplishment. Among the many businesses that have flourished since the recent relaxations in self-employment, there are not many bakeries. Given that there are growing complaints about the poor quality of this product in the rationed market, it is surprising that daring Cuban entrepreneurs haven’t set out to knead and bake for every taste. Very close to Colon Street, in one of the buildings known as “pastorita” on Bellavista Street, a few weeks ago a poster appeared announcing wonderful breads in a huge freshly printed graphic. In a ground floor apartment a simple wooden shelf has been installed to display the products. The bakery's strong point is bread, but there are also panetelas, cakes and other fine desserts. A bag of 15 large rolls costs 20 Cuban pesos and they even have sesame seeds. The word has passed among the neighbors and now they ask for special order breads that live only in the memories of some of the oldest people. From the early hours of the morning there is an unmistakable aroma of loaves slowly baking in the oven. Every day that he manages to overcome the high prices of raw material and the infrastructure problems, he counts as an accomplishment. The place also offers products of a more standard size that cost a peso each, as well as hotdog buns and others shaped like croissants. Eliot doesn’t need to go out hawking his wares. Sitting on the balcony of his house, he serves all those who come looking for a taste or texture other than the insipid bread from the State bakeries. A few years ago he tried to open a barbershop in the apartment courtyard, but it didn’t go well. The thing ended up at the police station and they confiscated what little he had acquired to start his business. A pair of old barber chairs were loaded onto a truck and, in the end, he even spent a long time at the station, having lost his cool with the big guys dressed in blue. Luckily, life smiles on him now. The mothers of the area can count on getting snacks for their kids, and the owners of nearby cafes wake up at dawn to get a good supply that they later sell as snacks and sandwiches. Briseida, a retired woman who collected her pension this morning, waits for the broken blade to be returned. “Today I’m going to give myself the taste of some good bread,” she says. [1] http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Panaderia_CYMIMA20150417_0003_13.jpg [2] http://www.14ymedio.com/ Continue reading
… heading to Havana, the first American governor to visit Cuba since the … the first sector of the Cuban economy to open up and … Republican whose mother is a Cuban exile, said any efforts to … encourage trade and investment in Cuba. In particular, she identified information … Continue reading
HAVANA (AP) –  At least two dissidents … the three-decade-old Independent and Democratic Cuba Party. "I already feel … to their dissidents' candidacies, Cuban media and electoral officials have … a commentary Thursday night on Havana's local Radio Coco … Continue reading