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Daily Archives: December 14, 2016

A partir de este jueves la aerolínea alemana Eurowings comenzará sus operaciones en La Habana, según dio a conocer la estatal ACN.

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Una cubana y su hija publicaron un video en Facebook en el que groseramente insultan a las personas del exilio que criticaron sus comentarios en apoyo al ex mandatario Fidel … Click to Continue » Continue reading
A dos semanas de su despido por un comentario irónico sobre la muerte del exgobernante Fidel Castro, Leamsy Requejo Lorite pide a través de Facebook que las autoridades del Museo … Click to Continue » Continue reading

El gladiador Mijaín López y la judoca Idalys Ortiz fueron seleccionados como los mejores atletas cubanos de 2016, según informa el estatal Juventud Rebelde.

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Un grupo de balseros que salieron de Cárdenas, en Matanzas, protagonizaron un emotivo desembarco en los Cayos de la Florida siete días después. El momento fue captado en un video … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Un grupo de nueve balseros cubanos llegaron el martes a los cayos de Florida. El emotivo momento quedó captado en cámara. … Click to Continue » Continue reading
Cubalex, Havana, 14 December 2016 – In Cuba there are no conditions under which economic, social and cultural rights can be exercised. “All Cubans have free healthcare and education,” is a claim that is easily refuted. We continue the debate with another question: Who decided we Cubans could not invest in a hotel or form … Continue reading "Cuban Apartheid / Cubalex" Continue reading
… the coastlines of Florida and Cuba makes potential tsunamis low-probability but … occur off the coast of Cuba. Using the mathematical models commonly … coast of Florida and northern Cuba. The video will load shortly … Continue reading
Sondeos: Exilio no apoya acercamiento con La Habana, estadounidenses sí Rosa Tania Valdés La encuestadora SurveyUsa entrevistó telefónicamente a 600 cubanoamericanos. Otro sondeo, conducido por el PEW Research Center, arrojó que los estadounidenses continúan apoyando el deshielo con Cuba. A casi dos años del anuncio del restablecimiento de las relaciones bilaterales entre Cuba y Estados […] Continue reading
Cuba tiene hoy al menos 16 mujeres condenadas por motivos políticos Última actualización: diciembre 14, 2016 Luis Felipe Rojas/ Martinoticias.com De una lista proporcionada por la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN) se desprende que fueron acusadas por desacato, atentado o desorden público. No hay razones que expliquen aún por qué Raúl […] Continue reading
Acuerdo con Google, mejora servicio pero empodera al Gobierno: experto diciembre 13, 2016 Martinoticias.com Un acuerdo firmado el lunes entre ETECSA y Google, según ambas partes, busca mejorar la experiencia online de los cubanos. Expertos, sin embargo, dijeron a Martí Noticias que el mecanismo servirá como “herramienta de control” a La Habana. El reciente acuerdo […] Continue reading
Acuerdo de Google con ETECSA no resuelve problema de internet en Cuba Última actualización: diciembre 12, 2016 Martinoticias.com El presidente de Google, Eric Schmidt, rubricó el acuerdo que busca mejorar la experiencia online para los cubanos que utilizan los productos del gigante de internet, pero no brinda un mayor acceso a la red. Google y […] Continue reading
Arcoíris turbio ALEJANDRO RÍOS El canal por cable HBO hizo coincidir el estreno del documental Patria o Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death, de la realizadora española Olatz López Garmendia, panorama devastador de la disfuncionalidad de la sociedad cubana sometida a casi sesenta años de dictadura, con Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba LGBT Revolution, suerte de retrato […] Continue reading

Habitantes de la ciudad de Guantánamo se quejan de un notable aumento del número perros callejeros, muchos de ellos enfermos, que deambulan por los alrededores de establecimientos de venta de comida.

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Damas de Blanco piden a Trump no empoderar la dictadura en Cuba como hizo Obama LA HABANA, 13 Dic. 16 / 05:06 pm (ACI).- La líder de las Damas de Blanco, Berta Soler, expresó su deseo de que el Presidente electo de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, condicione las conversaciones con Cuba al respeto a las […] Continue reading
… a Cuban-Canadian-U.S. co-production, requiring elaborate permissions from both Washington and HavanaCuban producer on “The Fate of the Furious,” puts it: “Cuba is … shooting sites are Old Havana and Centro Havana, districts where history and … deeper into Cuban reality, the ideological hostility that kept Cuba and the … Continue reading
Por la crisis de Venezuela, la alianza con Cuba se debilita rápidamente El envío de barriles de crudo desde Caracas hacia La Habana cayó a más de la mitad en los últimos tres años y la principal aerolínea cubana dejó de operar los vuelos regulares a la capital venezolana 14 de diciembre de 2016 “En […] Continue reading
La Unión Europea, Cuba y los derechos humanos Un acuerdo de diálogo político con ritmo caribeño GABRIEL C. SALVIA 14 DIC 2016 – 18:17 CET Las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Diálogo Político y Cooperación entre los Estados miembros de la Unión Europea (UE) y Cuba no contemplaron, en su inicio, el rechazo del Gobierno de […] Continue reading
Gobierno cubano declara “luto extendido” y prohíbe festejos navideños 14 de diciembre de 2016 – 08:12 Fuentes vinculadas a altas instancias ministeriales, han confirmado que durante el mes de diciembre estarán prohibidas toda actividad bailable o presentaciones de música popular en plazas y espacios abiertos LA HABANA.- El gobierno de Cuba ha declarado un “luto […] Continue reading
EEUU impide la entrada de cubanos por el puente de Matamoros Un grupo de migrantes se encuentra varado en México desde el domingo Miércoles, diciembre 14, 2016 | CubaNet MIAMI, Estados Unidos.- Las autoridades fronterizas en el Puente Nuevo Internacional de Matamoros, en Tamaulipas, impide desde el pasado domingo la entrada a Estados Unidos de […] Continue reading
Ben Rhodes: retroceso en acercamiento con Cuba alimentaría el ala dura del régimen El asesor de Obama dio una teleconferencia Martes, diciembre 13, 2016 | Agencias WASHINGTON, Estados Unidos – Un retroceso en el acercamiento entre Estados Unidos y Cuba daría argumentos al ala dura del gobierno cubano contrario a la apertura y reformas económicas, […] Continue reading
Vargas Llosa: Fidel Castro “deja un país en ruinas” Cuba es hoy “más pobre que la horrenda sociedad de la que huyó Batista” en 1958 Martes, diciembre 13, 2016 | CubaNet MIAMI, Estados Unidos.- El Nobel de literatura Mario Vargas Llosa ha declarado este lunes que Cuba “es un país más pobre que la horrenda […] Continue reading
What Castro's death and Trump's election mean for Cuba's economic awakening
Brian Gendreau, University of Florida Published 5:21 am, Wednesday,
December 14, 2016

Before his death on Nov. 25 at the age of 90, Fidel Castro had made no
secret about his reservations about the normalization of relations with
the United States and had insisted that the ideals of the Cuban
Revolution would never be abandoned.
So following his death it is natural to wonder if the economic reforms
initiated by his brother, Raúl Castro, will accelerate or what else
might happen.
Since his death, we haven't seen any instability. This is unlikely to
change: Raul has been in charge since 2008 and has no plans to step down
until his term as president is up in 2018. He has remained a supporter
of the reforms despite disagreements with his brother.
But it would be unrealistic to expect a swift transition to a more open
market economy, as I've learned from 25 years spent following Latin
America's economies and politics. Internal opposition to the reforms
persists in Cuba, which helps explain why implementation of the reforms
has been slow, and with the election of Donald Trump, the thaw in
relations with the United States that has encouraged those reforms is,
for the time being, in question.
Since Raúl Castro began a series of reforms after replacing his ailing
brother as president in 2008, market forces have begun to play a larger
role in the Cuban economy.
Cuban citizens are now allowed to operate small businesses such as
restaurants, barber shops and room rentals, and they can buy and sell
homes. Individuals and cooperatives are allowed to cultivate unused
plots of land. Managers have been given more autonomy to allocate resources.
These reforms have been accompanied by fewer restrictions on travel by
Cubans abroad and by the gradual spread of communication technology.
Cellphones are more common in Cuba than they were just a year ago, and
Wi-Fi spots have become popular in Havana, though so far not many exist.
The pace of reform, however, has been uneven and slow. Self-employment
is still limited to specific and usually unskilled activities.
Architects, for example, may drive taxis but still cannot go into
business in their own profession.
The government explicitly prohibits the accumulation of wealth – hardly
an incentive to entrepreneurship – though it is hard to imagine that
this is enforced effectively. And backtracking has occurred in some areas.
In January, for example, the state shut down some street vendors and
asserted control of part of the food distribution system, which had
earlier been opened to private participation.
And not everyone in Cuba is happy with the reforms. The Cuban government
laid off almost 600,000 government workers from 2010 to 2014 in an
effort to improve productivity and free up labor for the private sector.
While there have been no announcements recently of plans for further
layoffs, the three-quarters of Cuba's workers that are still on
government payrolls are apprehensive. Complaints that tourists and
rising incomes in the private sector are raising prices are common in
Havana.
As the government seeks to encourage a more vibrant economy in the face
of resistance to change, the outcome is likely to be a continuation of
the reforms, but at a controlled pace. Raul Castro indicated as much at
the Communist Party Congress in April, when he said Cuba's reforms would
proceed with "neither haste nor pause."
Cuba's economy, meanwhile, is in trouble after growing at a brisk 4.4
percent in 2015 as tourism- and construction-related investment boomed.
Growth is decelerating sharply this year as Cuba struggles to cope with
two external shocks.
First, prices for Cuba's traditional exports of nickel, refined oil and
sugar have fallen with global commodity prices since mid-2014 and remain
low. Second, with its own economy in shambles, Venezuela cut supplies of
oil to Cuba by as much as 40 percent.
Cuba has traditionally swapped medical services for oil with Venezuela
and sold the oil it refines from Venezuela to the rest of the world. As
a result of the cutbacks in oil imports, Cuba has had to ration energy
domestically and delay payments to foreign creditors, while its oil
export earnings plummet.
While rumors of a return to the hardships Cuba suffered in the early
1990s after the loss of subsidized trade with the Soviet Union are
exaggerated – earnings from tourism will help offset the lower oil
imports – Cuba will be lucky to eke out any growth at all in 2017.
Cuba may yet be hit with a third shock: a chilling of relations with the
United States.
Donald Trump has said he will reverse the deal President Barack Obama
reached in 2014 to reopen relations with Cuba and relax restrictions on
trade and travel unless the Castro regime agrees to free political
prisoners and restore political freedoms. Cuba released 53 political
prisoners a few weeks after the Obama administration's 2014 announcement
but has resisted calls to free more political prisoners since then.
The normalization of relations between the two countries has supported
Cuba's reforms by supplying a stream of new visitors to the island and
by increasing Cuba's connectivity with the rest of the world. Although
tourism is still banned under the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, in 2015
140,000 U.S. citizens took advantage of one of the 12 licenses
established in December 2014 under which the United States permits
travel to Cuba – a 54 percent increase over 2014.
U.S. airlines commenced regular air service to Cuba this year, and
several cruise lines now offer trips to the island. Several U.S. mobile
carriers have signed voice, text and data-roaming agreements with
Etecsa, the Cuban telecommunications provider. A Florida-based bank has
issued a credit card intended for use in Cuba, and U.S. credit cards are
accepted for currency transactions at state-owned foreign exchange
facilities in Havana, though they so far do not work elsewhere in Cuba.
Absent details on the president-elect's intentions on Cuba, it is
difficult to see how relations will unfold. Here's my read on the situation:
The new administration will initially take a hard line on Cuba – to do
otherwise would appear to be backing down from campaign promises.
History suggests, however, that Cuba will steadfastly resist demands on
human rights or democratic reforms, even if it means enduring
considerable hardships. This means that a standoff and worsening of
relations is possible, which could involve restrictions on travel and trade.
But there are long-term costs to isolating Cuba.
A chill in relations would mean U.S. businesses would lose out to
foreign competitors. Cuban-Americans could have their ability to see and
support relatives in Cuba hampered. Americans would not be able to enjoy
travel to the island or to buy Cuban cigars and rum.
In fact, a New York Times/CBS poll has found that nearly six in 10
Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba, and a 2016 Florida
International University poll found that a majority – 56 percent – of
Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County "strongly" or "mostly" favors a
reengagement with the island.
Cuba, meanwhile, has an obvious interest in avoiding isolation. Tourism
provides a good example. According to a 30-year development plan by
Cuba's Ministry of Tourism, capacity in Cuba's hotels is to grow from
63,000 rooms today to 85,000 in 2020 and 200,000 in 2030. It is hard to
see how those hotel rooms can be filled with a full U.S. trade and
travel embargo still in place.
The day after Fidel Castro's death, Trump called him a "brutal dictator"
and said "our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban
people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty."
The second phrase suggests that he is leaving the door open to a
rapprochement. Trump sees himself as the "negotiator in chief," so the
temptation to try to get a better deal from Cuba will be strong. Such
negotiations, however, are bound to be to be difficult: Human rights,
claims for expropriated property and Cuba's insistence on compensation
for damages from the embargo – issues on which little or no progress was
achieved in past talks – will all be on the table.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the
original article.

Source: What Castro's death and Trump's election mean for Cuba's
economic awakening - Houston Chronicle -
http://www.chron.com/news/article/What-Castro-s-death-and-Trump-s-election-mean-for-10795199.php Continue reading
Cuba No Es Fi(d)el: Impressions on the Duelo Nacional
14/12/2016 14:27
Stefano Piano
Strategy & Public Policy Consultant, Part-time Writer
Clarissa Parenti
Linguist, Media Planner, Part-time writer

The Duelo Nacional might imply that Cuba stopped for Fidel Castro's
death. Our conversations with Cubans suggest a rather different story.

Since the death of Fidel Castro was announced in the early hours of
Saturday, Cuba appears to be united in the mourning of their
revolutionary leader. During the nine days of Duelo Nacional, no
entertainment could be presented in bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants,
drinking was forbidden, governmental stores were partly closed, services
were limited, the football tournament was suspended, and the island's
musicians were hushed. Yet, this official mourning did not mirror most
Cubans' attitude towards their loss.

Habana Vieja and Centro's rhythm remained unchanged on Saturday and
Sunday. The sun-filled streets were hectic, all shops, restaurants and
bars were open until late. Rowdy Cubans continued selling peanuts,
churros and papas fritas, as well as overpriced illegal newspapers
twenty times more than their officially set price. Even the less
touristic areas of East and West Havana were as lively as usual. The
only clues of sadness witnessed came from an old man collecting rubbish
in his Fidel-branded kart and a pro-Revolution lady, Modesta, outside of
the Etecsa internet store, lamenting "the loss of one of the brightest
minds of the twentieth century". The sentiment of indifference was so
widespread, that with no access to TV, Internet or newspapers (at least
until 2 pm) it took us almost ten hours to learn that the Líder Máximo
had passed.

A similar atmosphere also characterised the public ceremony held in the
iconic Plaza de la Revolución on Monday and Tuesday. Among the crowd of
elderly supporters, old comrades, curious tourists and state employees,
only the older generations were truly distraught. Their incredulity and
petrified silence stood out from the chit-chatter of middle-aged Cubans
complaining about having interrupted their daily routines, accompanied
by the flashes of the generals' selfies. Upon entering the memorial
room, the detachment perceived became stronger. The empty space only
contained a pair of flower crowns and statue-like soldiers framing
probably the most well-known picture of Fidel.

Everything was aesthetically impeccable yet most Cubans did not seem to
be emotionally involved. Perhaps this is not surprising considering that
participation was not entirely voluntary. Several employees and students
were given a day off to attend, transported to the venue by governmental
buses. "Many people attended because they were scared of the practical
repercussions their absence could have had on their careers," confessed
Raúl, a young government employee who managed to sneak out.

In other provinces, the situation was not dramatically different. In
Trinidad, the elderly were all closely following Fidel's funeral
speeches, which echoed in the empty streets where the younger
generations were struggling to attract tourists in their restaurants and
bars. "During high season, 9 days of Duelo are too many,"said Rodrigo,
an engineer turned entrepreneur in the tourist sector. Such a feeling
was shared by many, and if you slowly moved away from the common tourist
routes and destinations, you would have had no problem finding someone
who would openly serve an exquisite cocoa liqueur or a Piña Colada.

In Santa Clara, buildings were covered in banners, flags and pictures of
Fidel. A lady working in a government store, María, revealed that "the
town was in true despair and collectively manifested their Duelo in the
streets during the passing of the ashes". However, you only had to dig a
little deeper to understand that Cubans privately felt differently about
the event. Miguel, a science graduate working in the tourist economy,
confessed his disappointment in the lack of music and club
opportunities: "My city is dead, yet neither I nor my friends care about
his death. Everything you see around you is product of the government
propaganda. A friend of mine was paid to distribute manifestos and
pictures of Fidel."

These experiences suggest that the Revolution in Cuba is suffering: most
Cubans no longer identify with the values and practices of the regime.
Youngsters lament the lack of economic, political and intellectual
freedom, which seems to be the product of the government's dogmatism
rather than that of careful policy-making. Middle-aged workers are
grateful for security, universal healthcare and education, but
re-evaluate this sentiment in their struggle to access basic commodities
- like clothes, soap, meat and vegetables - because the large influx of
tourists has increased prices and eroded their purchasing power. Only
the older generations, who still remember Batista's corrupt government,
feel truly bound to the political establishment.

What does this imply for the future? If the Revolution is no longer
alive - at least in the minds and hearts of most Cubans - might this
mean a political change is imminent? The straight answer is probably no.

As suggested by the contrived façade and quiet streets of Cuba, the
government is still effective in enforcing respect. The diffused fear of
personal and professional repercussions, as well as fines or license
retrievals, make resistance to the government initiatives costly.
Censorship and scarcity of Internet (only available in public spaces)
further contribute to rendering counter-revolutionary activity difficult.

And, most importantly, the majority of Cubans do not wish to risk their
settled lives to catalyse a political change. As Cuban sociologist
Manuel Moreno Fraginals, describing the life in the sugar mills that
once used to dominate the economy of the country, said in El Ingenio:
"The problem here is to survive." Such a statement largely resonates
with Cuba's population today, who would rather invest their time and
energy exploiting their (limited) newly acquired economic freedom. This
striving to survive, as well as the effectiveness of government control,
make political change unlikely. At least for now.

Source: Cuba No Es Fi(d)el: Impressions on the Duelo Nacional | The
Huffington Post -
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/stefano-piano/cuba-no-es-fidel-impressi_b_13601894.html Continue reading
Cuba and Venezuela's Ties of Solidarity Fray
The oil from Caracas that once paid for doctors from Havana is running
low, imperiling an ideological union
By ANATOLY KURMANAEV
Dec. 13, 2016 7:38 p.m. ET

CIENFUEGOS, Cuba—Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez proclaimed a decade ago
that they presided over a single country, combining Cuba's educated
workforce with Venezuela's oil wealth to challenge U.S. power across
Latin America.

Now Mr. Castro is gone, three years after Mr. Chávez's death, and the
union between their two countries, while still strong on paper, is
withering away fast.

Daily shipments of more than 100,000 barrels of subsidized Venezuelan
oil, the lifeblood of Cuba's economy, have dropped by more than half
since 2013, according to oil traders and Cuban refinery workers. In
November, Cuba had to buy oil on the open market for the first time in
12 years, because of Venezuela's plummeting output.

Meanwhile, thousands of Cuban doctors who toiled in Venezuelan
shantytowns to pay off the oil deliveries are quietly returning home,
scaling back an important vestige of the popular social programs Mr.
Chávez left to his now embattled successor, Nicolás Maduro. The air
bridge between the two Caribbean countries is also dissolving: Cuba's
flagship airline, Cubana de Aviación, stopped regular flights to Caracas
earlier this year. Charters from Caracas to Havana have scaled back too
as demand slumped.

On the surface, leaders in both countries swear to an ironclad coupling,
which detractors mockingly call Cubazuela.

After Mr. Castro died last month, Venezuela's government declared three
days of mourning; Mr. Maduro and a large delegation of high officials
then spent several days in Cuba to pay respects. He sat to the right of
Raúl Castro, Cuba's president and the elder Mr. Castro's successor, at
the memorial ceremony in Havana, fighting back tears before his turn
came to speak to the crowds.

"Raúl, count on Venezuela," said Mr. Maduro, who as a young man
underwent political training in Cuba. "We will carry on the path of
victory, the path of Fidel."

In the good times under Mr. Chávez, who cast himself as Fidel Castro's
spiritual son, Venezuela restarted and expanded the oil refinery here in
Cienfuegos, making it the city's largest employer. Venezuela built new
houses and brought in new city buses. The largess helped this city
partially recover from the collapse of the surrounding sugar mills and
become a symbol of the economic union between the two countries.

"Deep down, we are one single government, one single country," Mr.
Chávez said during a 2007 visit to a nearby town.

Reselling subsidized oil from Venezuela on the open market earned Cuba
billions of dollars, allowing the country to get back on its feet after
the demise of its Cold War-era benefactor, the Soviet Union.

But all that has changed now in this port city, with its wide colonial
boulevards and leafy coastal promenade. The posters and murals of Mr.
Chávez hugging Mr. Castro or picturing the pair walking together through
sunflower fields are now fading.

Residents say their future lies with American tourists and investors,
not with Mr. Maduro.

"We are very grateful to Chávez, but we have to fend for ourselves now,"
said Antonio Alborniz, a former refinery truck driver who recently
switched to driving a tourist taxi. "The oil is gone."

Now the refinery sits idle. The last Venezuelan oil tanker docked here
in August, according to oil traders. The shutdown has already sharply
raised the cost of living for many residents, who had relied on cheap
gasoline smuggled out of the refinery to alleviate hardship.

Overall, Venezuelan exports of crude oil and refined products to Cuba,
which generate most of the island's electricity, fell to about 55,000
barrels a day this year through October from the peak of 115,000 in
2008, according to data from Petro-Logistics SA, a consulting firm that
tracks tanker movements. Traders say deliveries have fallen further
since, though it is unclear by how much.

Venezuela's crude production has fallen so much that state oil company
Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA, had to resort to buying oil
abroad to meet its minimum obligations to Cuba for December and January,
according to oil traders involved in the deals. After that, the Cuban
government may have to source most of its crude itself.

Cuba's foreign ministry and PDVSA didn't reply to requests for comment.

Venezuelan officials say the Cuban government has gone through many
hardships since the fall of the Soviet Union, insisting it won't let
Venezuela's economic crisis affect the alliance.

"Fidel was very well aware of Venezuela's current problems," Ali
Rodríguez, Venezuela's ambassador to Havana and a former guerrilla
inspired by Mr. Castro, said in an interview. "The Cuban government
understands that Venezuela can no longer provide them all the things
that it used to."

As Venezuelan oil dwindles, Cuba is being forced to reduce its side of
the bargain, summoning home the medical personnel who helped make Mr.
Chávez popular. There were 38,300 Cuban doctors and nurses working in
Venezuela at the end of May, 4,000 fewer than three years ago, according
to John Kirk, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada,
who closely tracks Cuban medical missions.

At its peak, 65,000 Cuban medical staff worked in Venezuela, according
to Mr. Rodríguez, who declined to discuss the current levels.

Many of the returning doctors aren't being replaced, and Cuban medical
personnel are increasingly turning down Venezuelan postings because of
spiraling violence in that country, according to interviews with half a
dozen Cuban doctors who served in Venezuela. Hundreds posted in
Venezuela also defected, hoping to reach the U.S.

Cuba's exports of services, mostly medical missions, fell 15% to $470
million last year from 2013, according to government statistics.

The loss of money from reselling Venezuelan oil coupled with the
shrinking medical exports are putting pressure on Cuban foreign exchange
earnings at the time when some here worry that U.S. President-elect
Donald Trump will scale back remittances to the island from Cuban
Americans, the annual value of which is greater than what Cuba earns in
exports.

—Juan Forero in Havana and Mayela Armas in Caracas contributed to this
article.

Source: Cuba and Venezuela's Ties of Solidarity Fray - WSJ -
http://www.wsj.com/articles/cuba-and-venezuelas-ties-of-solidarity-fray-1481675881 Continue reading
El Partido Popular demanda la ‘inmediata libertad’ de Eduardo Cardet DDC | Holguín | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 – 19:57 CET. El secretario ejecutivo de Relaciones Internacionales del Partido Popular, José Ramón García-Hernández, exigió “la inmediata liberación de Eduardo Cardet, cuyo único fin es y siempre ha sido la lucha por una transición democrática […] Continue reading
Mayabeque: La siembra de papa, bajo vigilancia policial ROSA M. AVILÉS CARBALLO | La Habana | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 – 13:21 CET. Bajo vigilancia se realiza la actual temporada de siembra de papa en Quivicán, Mayabeque. Según agricultores y residentes en la zona, el objetivo es evitar el robo de las semillas. Un […] Continue reading
Cuba retorna a la normalidad Continue reading
El Tribunal Provincial de Artemisa enjuicia a 28 funcionarios por presunta corrupción DDC | Artemisa | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 – 15:39 CET. El Tribunal Provincial Popular de Artemisa enjuició a 28 funcionarios de los municipios San Antonio de los Baños y Güira de Melena bajo cargos de malversación, falsificación de documentos públicos, tráfico […] Continue reading
Autoridades de EEUU retrasan la entrada de cubanos por un puente fronterizo de Matamoros DDC | Ciudad de México | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 – 14:21 CET. Un grupo de cubanos que intenta cruzar desde México hacia Estados Unidos se encuentra varado desde el pasado domingo en el Puente Nuevo Internacional de Matamoros, en […] Continue reading

La representante de Política Exterior y Seguridad Común de la Unión Europea (UE), Federica Mogherini, recibió la carta enviada por los opositores y miembros de la sociedad civil cubana y responderá "a su debido momento", según informa EFE.

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The Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) and U. … improving the online experience of Cubans using products from the world … . Google's presence in Cuba dates back to 2014, when … Chrome Web Store so that Cuban users could personalize their experiences … Continue reading
El reconocido ex pelotero cubano de Grandes Ligas José Canseco le sugirió al presidente electo Donald Trump a través de un mensaje en su cuenta de Twitter que lo nombre … Click to Continue » Continue reading


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… ;s fatal shooting of a Cuban man on the compound of … and opened fire on the Cuban.    The 30-year-old victim was pronounced … community of Little Lane.    The Cuban and several compatriots were staying … Continue reading
Eduardo Cardet sigue recibiendo golpizas en prisión, denuncia el MCL DDC | Holguín | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 – 00:29 CET. El coordinador nacional del Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL), Eduardo Cardet, aún se encuentra en la prisión provisional de Holguín, donde continúa recibiendo malos tratos y el sábado pasado fue puesto en aislamiento, según […] Continue reading
EU-Cuba Agreement: Wishful Thinking?
ELENA LARRINAGA | Madrid | 14 de Diciembre de 2016 - 12:47 CET.

Yesterday European Union/Cuba Bilateral Agreement was signed, though it
still must be ratified by the European Union and the parliaments of its
member states. Personally, I cannot support signing it, due to both its
symbolism and its contents. A democratic institution supporting a
dictatorship makes no sense. What does this mean, then? It is, above
all, a symbol.

The Common Position did not prevent commercial transactions with Cuba,
nor constrain bilateral agreements between the Island and the countries
of the European Union. Its importance stemmed from its united stance in
favor of Cuban democrats, and its rejection of a single-party political
system that has been trampling the rights of the Cuban people for over
half a century. It meant a legitimation of the Cuban opposition, to the
detriment of the Government's positions. But this situation has,
supposedly, changed. Why?

The High Commissioner of the Union European has announced that Cuba has
changed. Does Ms. Mogherini really believe that Cuba has implemented the
structural changes essential for the country to merit the friendship and
assistance of international bodies? The rhetoric coming out of Havana
belies this.

The European Union and all its citizens desire to help the Cuban people
recover what they have every right to: their sovereignty and freedom.
The differences are procedural. But let us get the diagnosis right, to
keep from applying the wrong cure.

And let us hope that, once again, we are not guilty of wishful thinking,
lest we suffer a rude awakening by confusing what we would like to see
with reality.

Source: EU-Cuba Agreement: Wishful Thinking? | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1481716067_27413.html Continue reading
The Socioeconomic Legacy Of Fidel Castro / Miriam Leiva

ABC International, Miriam Leiva, 26 November 2016 — Fidel Castro left
Cuba in disastrous economic conditions after exerting absolute power for
more than 47 years. His brother received a country "on the precipice" on
31 July 2006.

Raul Castro has had to eliminate the "genial" initiatives of the
comandante en jefe, without repudiating them, presenting it as an update
of the economic model, always inspired by Fidel's ideas. In fact, his
speeches and aphorisms were so many that he could use them according to
his needs. However, most Cubans are convinced he squandered them in his
great failed works and caused the most comprehensive crisis in the
nation's history.

While arguing he was defending Cuba's sovereignty, Fidel Castro was
strengthened in power by economic dependence on the Soviet Union and
Venezuela; he depreciated the value of labor; he impoverished the
population; he destroyed moral and civic values; he extinguished hope
for a solution and increased the exodus abroad, mainly of young people,
with very serious implications for the future of the country.

At the time of the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, Cuba shared with
Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Costa Rica the most advanced economic and
social indicators in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although it did
face challenges, such as a slow rate of growth; excessive dependence on
the sugar industry; outsized economic ties with the United States,
particularly in investment and trade; high rates of unemployment and
underemployment; significant inequalities in living standards,
especially between urban and rural areas; unjust distribution of land,
with extensive estates, poorly cultivated; and a lack of industrial
development and infrastructure, among others.

Rupture

Fifty-five years later, reality indicates that the problems inherited
from the pre-revolutionary period were not solved. The breaking off of
economic and trade ties with the United States did not lead to the
achievement of independence in these areas.

The Soviet Union and its allies replaced the United States until 1989,
when the USSR disappeared and there began a period of great shortages
that Fidel Castro called "a special period in times of peace." GDP fell
by a third between 1990 and 1994. Castro authorized, though with strong
restrictions, farmers markets, tourism, a certain independence of state
enterprises and foreign investments. But he reestablished restraints
when Venezuela's strong petro-dollar contributions began.

Without sugar

One of Castro's most notable disasters was the destruction of the sugar
industry, which began with the failed plan for a "10 million harvest" in
1970. Several years of preparation leading up to the grand plan
annihilated the country's non-sugar agriculture production and damaged
livestock farming in favor of sowing sugar cane and huge investments in
mills, which were not ready in time.

In 2002 he decided to restructure the 156 remaining sugar centers,
dismantling 85 mills, 21 of them supposedly dedicated to producing honey
or tourism. This involved the demolition of cane fields, the destruction
of roads, the dispersion of experienced personnel and the decline of
villages.

Cuba had been the largest producer and exporter of sugar in the world,
with more than 6 million tons in 1959 and 8.2 million tons in the 1980s,
which fell to 1.1 million annually, without being able to recover
despite the reorganization. In 2013, 49 plants operated, producing about
1.6 million tons (similar to 1909). Cuban culture and nationality
developed with this industry, starting in the seventeenth century. In
those days it was said, "without sugar there is no country."

Land confiscated after 1959 was not used efficiently. The state-owned
estates created have been more unproductive than the previous ones.
Agriculture remained for many years with enormous tracts of land poorly
cultivated, empty or overrun by the invasive marabou weed.

Production levels in relative terms do not exceed what was achieved per
inhabitant before 1959, with about 80% of the food that makes up the
much-reduced basic food basket now imported, despite the leasing of land
to private farmers and cooperatives since 2008.

Cuba had more than 7 million head of cattle, but today the number does
not exceed 4 million, with a substantial decrease in the production of
meat and milk.

Manufacturing has a production volume equivalent to 43% of that obtained
in 1989. The average monthly salary and pension at the end of 2014 were
467 and 269 pesos respectively (the equivalent of 15 and 10 euros at the
official exchange rate).

In order to survive, Cubans depend on remittances from family abroad,
work in areas related to foreigners – where they can earn generous tips
– or the informal market, all of which has led to a growing loss of
ethical and moral values ​​due to deception, theft and illicit
activities. The elimination of accounting, contracts and other practices
in the 1960s prompted a great lack of control and administrative
corruption, which Raul Castro is attempting to eliminate through the new
Comptroller General of the Republic.

Without goods to export

In July 2007, Raul Castro acknowledged the need for structural and
conceptual changes, which are contained in the "updating of the economic
model, without haste but without pause." However, the changes have been
few, limited and late, and the economic levels of 1989 have not been
regained.

In the last 24 years, the investment rate has been very low, causing a
process of decapitalization. There are no savings or access to credits
due to the unreliability of repayment. The new Mariel Special
Development Zone is intended to bring in 2.5 billion dollars annual in
foreign investment, which has not been achieved. The Minister of Economy
and Planning acknowledged in July 2014 that "the economy grows in
relation to 2013, although it does not reach the expected levels, which
leads to a greater deceleration than expected."

With virtually no goods to export, Cuba has become a supplier of skilled
labor abroad, in particular health workers which are "leased" to other
countries, and which has become the country's main source of foreign
exchange earnings. Characterized as having an advanced population, today
the country exhibits a generalized technological backwardness, which
places it behind the nations of the region on crucial issues such as
internet access.

Progress at the beginning of the Revolution in public health and
education has deteriorated. These vital sectors are set back by the lack
of resources due to the crisis; at the same time graduates and
specialists, generally poorly utilized and underpaid, prefer work that
requires lesser qualifications but is better paid (for example, in the
tourist sector), or choose to leave the country.

Colossal catastrophe

The dreams awakened by Fidel Castro as the Maximum Leader of the process
begun on January 1, 1959 have ended in a great nightmare, a catastrophe
of colossal magnitude. He squandered the opportunity to leave a legacy
of progress and well-being for the Cuban people, prioritizing his
desires to satisfy immense longings for absolute power and an
uncontrollable delirium of grandeur.

Source: The Socioeconomic Legacy Of Fidel Castro / Miriam Leiva –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-socioeconomic-legacy-of-fidel-castro-miriam-leiva/ Continue reading
Why didn't they write to the General-President? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, 12 December 2016 — In a curious coincidence with
the fifth meeting, held last week in Havana, of the Bilateral Commission
in charge of the dialogue process between the United States and Cuba,
about one hundred Cuban "entrepreneurs" have just addressed a letter to
Donald Trump, the newly elected President of that country to the north,
whose term will begin on January 20, 2017, asking the controversial
magnate for continuity of the policy of rapprochement and dialogue with
Cuba, initiated two years ago by the outgoing president, Barack Obama,
as well as the lifting of the Embargo.

The note, promoted by the company Cuba Educational Travel and the group
Engage Cuba, is not relevant in itself. A group of Cuban small business
owners – united under the officially vilified term of "entrepreneurs" –
is appealing to the solidarity and understanding of a great "successful
entrepreneur" so that, in his new role of maximum political leader of
his country, he might favor the "economic commitment among nations" for
the mutual benefit of both sides, a disguised political plea, nothing
short of a sly complicit wink among "colleagues."

Of course, it is praiseworthy that such an incipient and fragile sector
has taken the (spontaneous and autonomous?) initiative to come out in
favor of the advances of the slimmest of conquered spaces. In fact, in
their letter, the Cuban entrepreneurs equally enthusiastically defend
the rights of US businessmen to trade with and invest in Cuba as if the
Americans, and not the Cubans, were the ones lacking in democratic
institutions and laws. Clearly, this is a short letter, but one that
makes us want to read it over numerous times.

The concerns of the Cuban embryonic private sector is understandable,
taking into account Trump's well-known statements about his intentions
to reverse the process of "rapprochement" if the Cuban side does not
show strides in political and religious freedoms, something that would
directly affect the influx of American tourists that has been taking
place since the re-establishment of relations between both governments,
which has clearly favored private lodging, restaurant and transportation
businesses.

However, the aforesaid letter is vague on essential matters, and it
stands out for its baffling omissions, details that deserve particular
attention. The first blunder is its origin, and lies in the improper
selection of the recipient on the part of the Cuban proto-entrepreneurs:
no less than a president of a foreign country that even today, despite
the current policy of détente, is still demonized by the Castro regime's
monopoly of the press as the cause of all the past and future national
evils.

This simple fact not only calls into question the much-vaunted national
sovereignty – by placing the solution of matters that are the
responsibility of the internal economic policy in the hands of a foreign
and intrinsically hostile government – but suppresses the Cuban regime's
responsibility for the constraints (if not the smothering) imposed on
the private sector, be it the high tax burden, the absence of a supply
wholesale market, the punishment for the "accumulation of wealth" or the
numerous absurd and unjustified bans that prevent greater prosperity and
the development of private businesses.

Likewise, measures which favored the private sector significantly,
dictated by President Barack Obama, were hindered by the Cuban
government itself from being effective.

None of the official restrictions that the "businessmen" ask to quell in
Cuba relate to the embargo, nor do they depend absolutely on the
political will of the American government.

In addition to this, the signers of the letter belong to a social sector
which tends to express an open rejection of political issues and, on the
other hand, voluntarily joined the only union in the world that embodies
the interests of the most powerful employer represented by the
Government-State-Party, described by them in this letter as the promoter
of the reform that allowed the existence of private businesses. To whom,
then, could they legitimately make demands other than to this despicable
monster, who is both benefactor and exploiting boss?

Therefore, the recipient of the entrepreneurs' letter should have been
the General-President, Raúl Castro, and not the President elected by
Americans last November.

Another noteworthy detail is the select club of signers to the letter,
mostly entrepreneurs who classify as "successful" within Cuban
standards. The problem is not one of phobia against economic success,
but quite the contrary. There is nothing we need more in this ruined
hacienda than a flood of successful entrepreneurs and autonomous sectors
willing to defend their own interests

But it doesn't seem very honest to claim particular measures on behalf
of the entire Cuban people and – even more unseemly – on behalf of the
American people, especially when the shocking absence of the more modest
signers is evident, who are, paradoxically the most numerous in that
economic sector, whom the letter writers estimate at half a million
individuals. Weren't there humble cart vendors, bicycle-taxi operators,
DVD vendors, scissors grinders or even retired master dishwashers ready
to subscribe to such a remarkable epistle? Were they even informed?

Obviously, the acute social differences of today's Cuba continue to set
the tone, denying the old egalitarian speech that continues to be
repeated from the power base. So it happens that, among the private
businesses of the idyllic socialist society, there are some that are
more equal than others. And, as is often the case, the least equal speak
on behalf of the whole.

In the end, in a quasi-foolish brushstroke, the signers make an evident
effort to be politically correct in the eyes of the Castro regime, thus
remaining halfway between the legitimate defense of their own interests
and the ideological commitment demanded by the olive green power
authority in return for the corseted ease they enjoy.

Too many doubts in this epistolary chapter suggest the existence of
certain powerful hidden hands that, of course, did not sign the letter,
including promoters abroad. When it comes to Cuban issues it's well
known that conspiracies are never lacking. But let's not be suspicious,
after all, if our most successful entrepreneurs choose Trump to
communicate with, it must be because they think that matters are better
handled by entrepreneurs.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Why didn't they write to the General-President? / Cubanet,
Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/why-didnt-they-write-to-the-general-president-cubanet-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
Cuban Authorities Block Travel Of Dissident Amel Carlos Oliva / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 14 December 2016 – Yesterday, Tuesday afternoon,
Carlos Amel Oliva checked in well in advance with his ticket to take Air
Europe Flight 052 that was leaving for Madrid just after 10:00 PM,
intending to connect from the Spanish capital to travel on to Poland.
However, the activist was not able to board because an immigration
official told him he was prohibited from leaving.

Oliva was invited to participate in the third edition of Warsaw
Democratic Dialogue as a representative of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(UNPACU).

Upon reaching the immigration controls he was separated from the line.
"They took me to an office where there was an official who was
apparently the shift manager, who explained that I appeared in their
computer system as a person prohibited from leaving," he explained to
14ymedio.

Carlos Amel asked for an explanation, which he felt he deserved, but the
control officials responded that they "didn't work on that part."

The dissident told this newspaper what had happened a few yards from the
check-in desk for his flight. "[The official] suggested that I direct
myself to the appropriate entities, such as the prosecutor, so that I
could find out the reasons and I replied that I already knew, because
surely the only possible reason was my status as a dissident, a peaceful
opponent."

"I do not have any unpaid fines, nor am I in the midst of a judicial or
police investigative process," Amel Oliva stated, rejecting that he was
subject to these established reasons for being denied the right to travel.

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, his father, also named
Carlos, was also unable to take his plane at Terminal 2 at José Martí
International Airport, heading to a meeting sponsored by Freedom House
and the Venezuelan Institute of Parliamentary Studies that was being
held in the United States. The UNPACU youth leader's father also did not
receive any satisfactory explanation.

"Obviously," Carlos Amel Oliva commented before leaving the terminal to
return to Santiago de Cuba, "this measure I have been the victim of is
not consistent with the signing of agreements between Cuba and the
European Union, which has set aside its so-called Common Position. The
European Union has done something that could be called a goodwill
gesture, having ceased to condition its relations with the Cuban
government on issues of human rights, but this is how the government
repays the gesture: preventing a peaceful dissident from attending an
event organized by civil society in a European country," he lamented.

The current Cuban immigration law, in force since January 2013,
established different reasons for denying a Cuban citizen the ability to
leave the country. Among them are motives of public interest or national
security, or being subject to a pending court case, as with the former
prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003 who refused to leave the country
as a condition of their release, and so remain in Cuba on parole. They,
however, were each granted the right to make one trip abroad earlier
this year.

A common method to prevent a civil society activist or regime opponent
from traveling abroad, is to detain them at a police station on the day
they are planning to travel and to release them after their flight has
already left.

Source: Cuban Authorities Block Travel Of Dissident Amel Carlos Oliva /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-authorities-block-travel-of-dissident-amel-carlos-oliva-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro's Family Treasure / Luis Felipe Rojas

Luis Felipe Rojas, 28 November 2016 — Who in Cuba has not been asked to
speak a little more softly? Who has not lowered his or her voice while
making a comment about Fidel Castro? This is the regime's family
treasure: a snitch on every corner.

When the triumphant son from the town of Birán — Fidel Castro's
birthplace — announced the creation of the Committees for the Defense of
the Revolution in 1961, he set in motion the well-oiled machinery of
denunciation, of the little men who direct the pipeline of information
between neighbors and the much-feared State Security (known as G2).

Every company, hospital, cultural institution, baseball stadium, fine
collection office and shoe shop is "served" by one or more agents, the
number based on the facility's national importance or the sensitivity of
the activities which take place inside.

Everyone knows them; many keep out of their way. These "officials" yield
power with few restraints. If they tag you as being "hostile to the
revolutionary process," you will spend years trying to get your name
removed from their list. They will then forget about you or look the
other way when they see you, should that ever happen.

Within the provincial offices of State Security is the Department of
Enemy Confrontation. This is the agency that deals with opponents,
dissidents, writers and independent journalists, as well as those
artists who once dared to use metaphor or irony in their work to portray
the power or person of Fidel Castro.

At the bottom of the hierarchy are the confrontation officers, who have
less visibility but more devious responsibilities. In the shantytowns,
so-called honorary officers — often frustrated men and women who saw
their Interior Ministry careers cut short — now find solace by keeping
watch over an opponent's house, snitching on a little old lady selling
coffee beans or reporting a rapper who has just written a protest song.

I was detained on one occasion for five days and had to sleep the floor
of a meeting room at a village police station. It was guarded in
rotating shifts by almost a dozen young honorary officials who worked
for G2.

Among them was "Pedrito," an educator and active member of the Union of
Young Communists. He had been accused of stealing televisions, then
trying to sell them through a national Social Workers' program. Pablo,
an agronomist and former classmate, was unable to answer any of my
questions about human rights in Cuba, explaining that conversing with
detainees was forbidden.

I met others a little more despicable and despised. One was Maikel
Rodríguez Alfajarrín, dubbed "Maikel the Spark." A former bartender,
student and civilian, he doled out punishments such evictions, fines and
criminal prosecutions as a member of the Housing Intervention Brigades
while also acting as an informant, or a chivato as Cubans in the 1930s
called people like him.

There are others, many others. I cannot be the only Cuban to have had an
experience with them.

The honorary officers carry an identification card displaying the State
Security insignia, with the infamous acronym G2 stamped one corner.

One day in the town of San Germán in Holguín province, my wife was
waiting in line to buy soap in store that only accepted payment in
dollars. It was May and Mother's Day was approaching. The line was very
long. Women were talking or arguing when a seguroso, a State Security
agent, arrived. The honorary official's name was Luis Perez, commonly
known as "Luis El Calvo" (Bald Luis). The store allowed only about
twenty people inside at a time. Everyone else had to wait outside in the
stifling heat. When the doorman looked up to let a few more people in,
El Calvo demanded to speak with the manager: "Tell him there is a
counterintelligence officer here who needs some nylon bags."

Mumbles, furrowed brows, pursed lips and eyes moving wildly in their
sockets were the reactions to the announcement by the honorary officer.

All honorary officers are affiliated with the Rapid Response Brigades —
designed to come running at the least sign of protest — and even
coordinate their surveillance, harassment and acts of repudiation. Many
people fear them, many hate them, but few dare to challenge these evil
Cubans who use their red pencils to turn you into a non-person.

Translated by GH

Source: Denunciation and Fear: Fidel Castro's Family Treasure / Luis
Felipe Rojas – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/denunciation-and-fear-fidel-castros-family-treasure-luis-felipe-rojas/ Continue reading
Google Will Accelerate But Not Expand Internet Access In Cuba 14ymedio,
Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 13 December 2016 – The news made the
headlines and generated a wave of enthusiasm. The agreement signed this
Monday between the US information giant Google and the
Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) will improve the experience
of Cuban websurfers, but will not, in the short term, affect the number
of people who can access the internet from the island.

Google has taken a historic step to overcome official suspicion in the
telecommunications sector. Google will install servers in Cuba that will
increase the speed and quality of web connections, an improvement which
will enable better access to services such as Gmail, YouTube and Google
Drive.

However, accelerating, in this case, does not mean expand. The agreement
signed by the chief executive of the Cuban state monopoly, Mayra
Arevich, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt will only benefit those who already
are connecting to the web from the island.

Cuba is at the forefront of the list of countries with the least
internet penetration in the Western hemisphere. An hour of navigation
from a state-provided wifi zone costs the equivalent of two days pay for
a professional, and is plagued by crashes, service faults, and hackers
who wirelessly steal the balance on your internet card, as well as being
subject to the physical theft of phones, laptops and tablets by thieves
who haunt the wifi zones for this purpose.

"This agreement allows ETECSA to use our technology to reduce latency to
locally deliver some of our most popular content and a higher bandwidth,
for example YouTube videos," Google said in a statement.

Once stored on servers within Cuba, that content will reach internet
users up to 10 times faster, according to expert predictions. But the
agreement does not affect the customers' bandwidth or allow access to
sites that the government of Raul Castro keeps under strict censorship.

Google has been exploring service on the island since 2014, when Schmidt
visited Cuba along with other executives and interviewed journalists
with 14ymedio, students at the University of Information Sciences in
Havana, and Cuban officials. Shortly after that trip, the company opened
its products to Cuban users on the island – who previously could not
access them – including products such as Google Chrome, Google Play and
Google Analytics.

The news of the agreement with the US company spread by word of mouth
among Cubans and was presented in the official media as an achievement
by the government "to improve the computerization of Cuban society," but
few spoke about the details.

"I hope that now the ability to surf the internet from cellphones is
closer," said Vosvel Camejo, a customer of the only telephone company
allowed in the country, and for whom Google is the only entity that can
save the country "from underdevelopment."

The signing of the agreement comes a few weeks from Republican Donald
Trump's inauguration as president of the United States, on 20 January
2017. President-elect Trump has been inconsistent in his position on the
process of normalization of relations with the island, moved forward by
his predecessor, Barack Obama. Google has rushed to sign the agreement,
given the uncertainty presented by the tycoon's arrival in the White House.

For the Government of Havana, the clock is ticking off certain
emergencies in telecommunications. In February 2011, a fiber optic cable
connecting the island to Venezuela reached land on Siboney Beach in
eastern Cuba. This cable carries the major flow of data entering and
leaving Cuba.

Access from home is only allowed for a very small group of officials,
professionals with links to officialdom, and foreign residents of the
island. "The ideal would be for this agreement to also bring internet to
Cuban homes, so that the country can develop all the talent of its
people," says Camejo.

For now, the company, based in California, has committed to improve the
browsing experience, a step that can be very important for the
development of the independent sector that produces audiovisuals, and
for the "YouTubers" who have begun to emerge in the country.

Independent organizations such as the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)
frequently use video services to publish reports, interviews and images
of repression in the east. With the new agreement, their presence and
effectiveness on the web can grow significantly.

Source: Google Will Accelerate But Not Expand Internet Access In Cuba
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/google-will-accelerate-but-not-expand-internet-access-in-cuba-14ymedio-zunilda-mata/ Continue reading
New Anthology of 'Fidelism' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 12 December 2016 – The first
impression one gets of the book "One Objective, One Thought" is that
throughout its three volumes the reader can assess the political
evolution of Fidel Castro, author of the quotes contained in the tome.
The initial assessment is owed to the portraits appearing on the covers
of each volume, which show the physical and psychological transformation
of the man.

The first cover shows the leader with a black beard, olive green beret
and defiant gaze. It is the image of the guerrilla in power during the
'60s and '70s. On the second volume he is seen in the dress uniform of
the Commander in Chief, notably graying and with the look of someone who
has an answer for everything, as he presented himself in the '80s and '90s.

The image on the third cover reflects a moment in Castro's life in this
millennium. The former president is on the brink of old age, with a
certain halo of wise experience, but maintaining his willful authority.
It is a snapshot from before 31 July 20016, when he announced his
retirement from public life due to the serious state of his health.

However, beyond the impression of transformation offered by these three
images, the book presented this Saturday at the Palace of the Captain
Generals in Havana, is simply a compilation of the ex-president's ideas
organized chronologically around 50 topics. A bundle of carefully chosen
quotations to show more the continuity of his thought than its evolution.

The edition was conceived to honor the leader's 90th birthday,
celebrated this last August, but its launch has taken place a few days
after his ashes were placed in a vault in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in
Santiago de Cuba. The work thought of as a summary of a life has become,
in reality, a condensed post mortem of Fidel's legacy.

The work, priced at 30 Cuban pesos (less than $1.50 US), has as an
antecedent the "Dictionary of the Thinking of Fidel Castro," prepared by
Salomon Susi Sarfati for Politica Publishers in 2008. Another
compilation of high value is "Thus Spake Fidel Castro," from Roberto
Bonachea Entrialgo, issued by the Spanish publisher Ediciones Idea, also
in 2008.

The text was presented by Eugenio Suarez, director of the Office of
Historical Affairs of the Council of State, along with the main editor
of the volume, Rosa Alfonso Mestre, as a guide for action and ideas for
future generations. The presentation took place in front of 50
participants, among them, notably, the faces of officials, admirers of
the deceased leader and members of the Communist Party.

The editors state that "for this compilation 4,000 bibliographic sources
were consulted, covering a period from October 1953 to April 2011 (…)
from which around 8,000 quotes were selected." Speeches, interviews,
Fidel's newspaper column "Reflections," have been the principal sources.

But the reader finds a highly filtered text, which avoids quoting
Castro's mistakes, rants and more intolerant positions. For example,
under the theme of terrorism, a speech he gave for the 15th anniversary
of the creation of the Ministry of the Interior is omitted.

On that day in 1976, at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, the leader
admitted: "If we dedicated ourselves to terrorism, it is certain we
would be effective. But the fact is that the Cuban Revolution has never
used terrorism. That does not mean we renounce it, let us warn you!"

In addressing drug trafficking, the anthology does not mention a single
word from Cause No. 1 of June 1989, when high officials from the armed
forces were tried and condemned to death for their supposed implication
in this crime.

On the subject of self-employment and private enterprise, the editors
avoided the speeches given during the 1968 Revolutionary Offensive,
where Castro emphasized, "We propose to eliminate all manifestations of
private commerce, in a clear and decisive manner." Three decades later,
he had to once again authorize the non-state sector, to ease the
profound economic crisis caused by the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the chapter dedicated to racial and gender discrimination, you cannot
find a single one of the multiple occasions on which he expressed his
well-known homophobia. Conspicuous by its absence are the remarks Castro
delivered in March of 1963: "Many of these bums, children of the
bourgeoisie, walking around with their too-tight pants; some of them
with a little guitar and an 'Elvis-Presley' attitude have taken their
debauchery to the extremes of wanting to go to some public gathering
places and organize their faggot-y shows for free."

Despite the extreme partisanship in the selection of the texts included
in these three volumes, the workflow the editors faced is clear.
Filtering hundreds of speeches, interminable public presentations and
long hours of soliloquy must have been a marathon and exhausting task.
But the most arduous work is that of the reader, peering into these
pages of such a chaotic, contradictory and disproportionate legacy, like
the man who created it.

Source: New Anthology of 'Fidelism' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar –
Translating Cuba -
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Cuban State Security Interrogates And Threatens Young LGBTI Leader /
Cubanet, Alejandro Tur Valladares

Cubanet, Alejandro Tur Valladares, Havana, 12 December 2016 – Dr.
Nelson Gandulla Diaz, a national delegate to the Cuban Foundation for
LGBTI Rights, headquartered in Cienfuegos, was interrogated by Cuban
State Security officials after being cited to appear at the offices of
Emigration and Aliens on 10 December.

Gandulla said that the interrogation began at 9:00 in the morning and
continued to 11:30 AM. He was questions by an official who called
herself Patricia, and Captains Ihosvani and Angel.

According to the activist, the agents wanted to investigate his numerous
work trips outside the country and whether some NGO financed his
activities and who he met with. Particular emphasis was given to asking
about his presumed ties to the Colombian organization Affirmative
Caribbean and the Czech organization People in Need.

The doctor said that one of those present told him that the
organizations that he works for, according to his interrogator, use
their discourse to attack the official National Center of Sex Education
and its director, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba's current ruler.

After confirming that Gandulla was not a "collaborator" with the
purposed of the political commissars who were questioning him, the
conversation changed in tone. "They threatened me, they told me that
continuing my activities on behalf of the Cuban LGBTI community was not
consistent with what could happen to me and to my family."

According to Gandulla, a leader of the Foundation, the threats included
prohibitions on holding activities in his home, under penalty of going
to prison.

Source: Cuban State Security Interrogates And Threatens Young LGBTI
Leader / Cubanet, Alejandro Tur Valladares – Translating Cuba -
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Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo

14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo, Quito, 10 December 2016 — On the 58th
anniversary of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, the seizure of power
by Fidel Castro and the disappearance of the national hope of a return
to the constitutional values ​​of 1940, the people of Cuba, their
emigration and the "historic exile" continue to ask the same rhetorical
question: When will we be free?

Before the Obama administration's rapprochement, the island's regime
raised the alarms of the possible perpetuation of the current state of
affairs. Opposition groups have concentrated their intellectual efforts
on delegitimizing the actions of the United States government and few
have concerned themselves with analyzing the new opportunities for
action that it presents. They demand that Washington return to the
politics of confrontation of the last 50 years, a return to a Cold War
based on ideological footholds or real threats to the stability of the
United States that no longer exist. Times have changed, the world is not
the same, this is a fact.

Although US President Barack Obama broke the taboo by stepping foot in
Havana and shaking General Raul Castro's hand, and despite the ongoing
conversations, the situation in Cuban continues more or less the same.
The defenders of the regime point to the deep popular roots of the
"Revolution"; the defenders of Obama's policies blame the opposition's
inability to articulate a plan to destabilize the regime or to win
popular support; the detractors of the US administration, coincidentally
the traditional opposition the Cuban regime, both on the same side but
for opposite reasons, argue that rapprochement is useless. For
officialdom it is a maneuver to hide mixed objectives, for the regime's
opponents it is a maneuver to strengthen the regime and betray
democratic aspirations, etc.

But what are the real reasons that social unrest does not happen in Cuba?

In the current Cuban conflict four elements are involved. We must assume
that there are four important figures, three national and one
external. The national figures are the government and its repressive
structures ("mass organization" in the official jargon), opposition
groups inside and outside the country and, most importantly, the
ordinary people (workers, students, housewives, technicians, doctors
etc.), mostly discontented but with high levels of political apathy. The
external element is the US government and its policies toward the island.

Where is the project?

The traditional, dispersed and divided opposition base their positions
on the flagrant violations of human rights. The main flag of dozens of
opposition groups is the establishment of democracy and free elections,
a cause undoubtedly just but one that does not offer a intelligible plan
to the Cuban masses who want a change in their pocketbooks and in their
kitchens. The objectives of the struggle seem futile to a needy majority
that depends on the ration book and the tiny wages, the lowest salaries
in the Western hemisphere. The opposition discourse forgets to speak out
about the pressing needs of the population. What does the ordinary Cuban
want to hear? Do they want to hear about democracy? Are the interests of
the opposition the same as those of the common people?

Leadership?

The opposition leadership is a burning issue. Some avoid talking about
it so that they are not accused of "pandering to the regime" and end up
being called "G2 agents," that is in the pocket of State Security. New
times need ethical leadership, a leadership immune to the caudillos, one
that can articulate the ideas and diverse projects in the current
collage of opposition factions.

We have a common rosary of ex-prisoners turned into patriotic opponents,
people who love to get checks and their phones recharged, opposition
caricatures who don't act if the interests of their fiefdom or their
personal opinions are not affected. A leadership that doesn't skimp on
launching insults to devalue their adversaries, in the seeking of
remittances from abroad. A kind of political flip-floppers that end up
smearing the work of ethically firm and committed opponents. One wonders
which they benefit more, the democratic cause, or the regime's
discourse. They should aspire to a prepared leadership, trained in
theory and practice. Leaders, not supervisors, are what the cause needs.

Civil disobedience?

The Gene Sharp Academy has become famous among opponents. It is common
to hear the term as if it were a hidden card, a weapon per se. Civil
disobedience is a process that starts from a common idea, a shared
desire by the majority who attempt to act together from the first moment
in the simple refusal to be a part of what they don't agree with

The mistake is to call the masses to participate in marches and strikes
when they have not first been called to abandon the repressive
structures of the regime. It is joining together in civil disobedience
when fear is lost and this is discovered when realizing there are many
who are willing to be punished.

A simple act of civil disobedience is putting a ribbon on the door or a
sticker in the window. It is not about a march like that of September
1st in Venezuela if people haven't already identified with the
opposition project.

"The suspicion syndrome"

The fear of being marked by the regime is one of the reasons for
political apathy. The vast majority of Cubans talk quietly at home,
criticizing the barbarity and arbitrariness of the government. People
avoid talking about it more at work saying: "You don't know who's
who." The fear of being put on the blacklist makes people prefer to
remain outside any political debate and simply repeat the regime's
propaganda or join its repressive organizations (mass organizations) "so
as not to stand out." Opportunism and amorality have become an instinct
for self-preservation.

End of the charismatic government

Fidel Castro met his end. The charismatic leader, bearer of all truth,
was a decrepit old man. Although some, glued to the criticism of his
image and legacy, still blame him for everything as if he still ruled,
the reality is that nature, the only effective opponent of the regime,
has removed Fidel Castro.

Fidel's hypnotic personality was the cornerstone of the Cuban
government. The interfamily transfer of power left a vacuum that we
ignore. Raul Castro, the elderly general, is a person with little
facility with words, jovial among his people but lacking charisma,
incoherent, a faint shadow of what was the sex-symbol image of the
Commander in Chief in his younger days.

Obama's visit unveiled a Raul Castro without arguments, disoriented, his
voice shrill and disagreeable, reflecting what was left of the "historic
leadership of the Revolution." The dictatorship has lost its charisma
and its essence becomes more evident.

Possibility of dialog

The Cuban opposition currently does not have the power or the popular
support to force a dialog with the government. Some passionate but
hardly pragmatic leaders refuse, as an exercise in bravado, to accept a
possible future dialog with the regime. Dialog is desirable, it can be a
way to negotiate agreements and to obtain a share of power when the
conditions for it are created. But, being realists, the opposition in
Cuba had done very little to obtain the elements of pressure.

Obama policy and "normalization"

"Normalization" took the opposition by surprise. Something cooking
behind the scenes until we all got a whiff of it. President Obama,
ending his term in office, launched an adventure toward an uncertain
future. Like it or not there are now fluid diplomatic relations between
both countries. The screws have been loosened on the restrictions of the
embargo-blockade, a policy that has been voted against for two decades
by the majority of the countries that make up the United Nations General
Assembly. Keeping it was illogical and trying this new path is the only
reasonable option.

The disappearance of tensions and the eventual end of the embargo will
put an end to the concept of the imperialist enemy and mark the end of
political ideological work. The regime is left without the excuse of
considering itself the hero of the "plaza under siege." The blame cannot
eternally fall on the United States: there are no reasons for the
scarcities, the corruption, the persecution of entrepreneurs, the
imposed lack of connection to the internet, the lack of freedom of
expression and the violations of human rights. Will the opposition adapt
to the new rules of the game and abandon its tantrums?

Keys

A social explosion will not occur in Cuba as long as a separation of
immediate interests between the population and the opposition
persists. People must lose their fear and become aware that most Cubans
want an immediate change in relations with the state. An ethical renewal
of the opposition is essential, as is the meeting at an intermediate
point that permits unifying the idea of change for Cuba on the basis of
a viable project to undermine the foundations of a regime that has lost
its charismatic leader. Articulating a project for a future Republic
that does not start from antiquated rhetoric about obsolete economic
projects and licenses to kill.

A social explosion will come only when the majority of the population
identifies the single culprit responsible for their ills, for which the
distractions and excuses must disappear. We must put an end to the idea
of the "imperialist enemy." It requires a committed opposition that
takes advantage of the new conditions and doesn't lend itself to the
improbable activities of those who have settled into a way of life
guaranteed by dissent.

The freedom of Cuba does not depend on the United States, it depends on
our own efforts. As long as we don't understand our own responsibility,
we will not achieve the changes we aspire to.

Source: Losing Fear To Get Freedom / 14ymedio, Rolando Gallardo –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/losing-fear-to-get-freedom-14ymedio-rolando-gallardo/ Continue reading