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Daily Archives: February 10, 2017

La alianza opositora venezolana Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) entregó a los mediadores del diálogo con el Gobierno una propuesta de acuerdo "para la superación de la crisis política y social" en respuesta al plan de los acompañantes para relanzar este proceso, informó hoy la coalición de oposición.

La MUD, en un comunicado, explica que el documento "está centrado en cuatro aspectos básicos" que "no son puntos de agenda para empezar a dialogar, sino las bases de cualquier acuerdo posible".

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… stance on any issues. But Cuban acknowledged that it was a … position to be in." Cuban, though, has been on Twitter … public company any more," Cuban said. "I can say … you think is right," Cuban said. "Be an American … Continue reading

El secretario general de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), Luis Almagro, reabrió el viernes el debate sobre la aplicación de la Carta Democrática a Venezuela al anunciar que actualizará su crítico informe sobre el país con "los retrocesos" ocurridos desde el pasado noviembre, reportó EFE.

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La escritora canadiense Margaret Atwood, premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras en 2008, visitó este viernes la vigésimo sexta Feria del Libro de La Habana, donde se presentan algunas de sus obras reeditadas, reportó EFE.

Atwood, acompañada de su marido, el autor canadiense Graeme Gibson, estuvo presente en la inauguración del pabellón dedicado a Canadá, que este año es el país invitado al evento cultural. 

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Sin carteles, pliego de demandas ni manifestaciones de protesta, así responden los taxistas privados de La Habana a los precios topados recién impuestos. Las autoridades han hecho una jugada audaz … Click to Continue » Continue reading

Marcelo Hernández

Sin carteles, pliego de demandas ni manifestaciones de protesta, así responden los taxistas privados de La Habana a los precios topados recién impuestos. Las autoridades han hecho una jugada audaz al regular los importes por tramos de estos trabajadores por cuenta propia, y el resultado ha sido un viernes de infierno para quienes intentaban desplazarse dentro de la ciudad.

Al borde de la acera, y sacudiendo desesperadamente los brazos, se veía durante la mañana a centenares de personas repartidas a lo largo de las rutas de almendrones. Pero los conductores rara vez paraban bajo el argumento de que solo hacen "viajes directos" entre la piquera inicial y el destino. Esta es la manera de evitar fragmentar los pagos y bajar el valor de los pasajes, tal y como ha sido regulado.

Carentes de un sindicato que represente sus demandas, los boteros intentan forzar el fin de la medida a base de congestionar la transportación urbana. Por su parte, el Gobierno sabe que una buena parte de los residentes en la urbe necesita de estos taxis colectivos para llegar a su centro de trabajo o de estudios. Sin ellos, el país se paralizaría.

En las calles se desarrolla desde ayer un pulso silencioso, donde de momento la peor parte se la están llevando los pasajeros.

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Oficiales niegan que se les esté alejando Continue reading

El multimillonario de origen cubano Jorge Pérez, conocido por sus negocios inmobiliarios en Estados Unidos, vaticinó dificultades para la Isla con Donald Trump en la Casa Blanca y alertó sobre un posible clima de confrontación entre América Latina y Estados Unidos.

"Cuba está entrando en un período difícil" porque "Venezuela ya no la puede ayudar" y puede agravarse con Trump si el presidente "escucha a los republicanos que están a favor del embargo", afirmó en una entrevista con EFE en México.

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… social media. From billionaire Mark Cuban to comedian and talk show … their support for Nordstrom. Mark Cuban Twee t Chelsea Handler Tweet Continue reading
Cabrera Infante cuenta su batalla personal contra los censores, incluido el que designó Franco para revisar Tres tristes tigres Continue reading

Sin estadísticas oficiales sobre su aporte real, el sector privado está participando como nunca en la industria del turismo, aprovechando las capacidades que no están en capacidad de asumir las instituciones estatales.

Según recoge un reportaje de Inter Press Service (Redacción IPS-Cuba) hasta la adoquinada Plaza de San Juan de Dios de la urbe de Camagüey, llegan cientos de visitantes internacionales cada día.

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… in meaningful, educational exchanges with Cuban people with the assistance of … choose a guided experience to Havana and Varadero spanning eight days … days and five nights in Havana. Each experience will allow travelers … . For example, a Cuba history scholar will provide Cuba's perspective … Continue reading
… demographic problem Cuba faces: Some  60,000 to 80,000 Cubans emigrate … , dry foot’ policy for Cubans] The Cubans who stay behind are going … pool of Cuban workers to keep the state-run economy afloat. Cuba… also reduce day-care costs for Cuban parents with multiple children, and … Continue reading
… ) Coast Guard officials say a Cuban national is suspected of attempting … . The Coast Guard says the Cuban national is a legal permanent … Continue reading
En el último mes en que ocupó su cargo, el ex presidente Barack Obama se adelantó a lo que podría haber sido una de las primeras medidas del presidente Donald … Click to Continue » Continue reading
14ymedio, 10 February 2017 – The fight for popularity between Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara continues even after the death of both leaders. According to an article in last Saturday’s official newspaper Granma, some 150,000 people – both Cubans and foreign tourists – have visited Fidel Castro’s tomb in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. The mausoleum … Continue reading "Fidel Castro’s Ashes and Che’s Bones Compete to Attract Visitors / 14ymedio" Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 10 (ACN) The colloquium ¨ … the 26th International Book fair, Havana 2017. On this morning, as … as the tribute to the Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro, the … culture plays in the Cuban Revolution, and Havana´s Historian Eusebio Leal … Continue reading

(EFE).- Cuba aprobó un nuevo conjunto de leyes para estimular la natalidad, un reto considerado "inaplazable" por la isla, que se enfrenta a una situación demográfica compleja con una población envejecida y sin garantizar aún un adecuado reemplazo generacional, informan este viernes medios oficiales cubanos.

En un número extraordinario, la Gaceta Oficial dio a conocer dos decretos y cuatro resoluciones que extienden los beneficios de la maternidad, incluyen la participación remunerada de otros familiares en el cuidado de los hijos y recortan impuestos mensuales a los trabajadoras del sector privado con dos o más hijos menores de 17 años.

Según las nuevas disposiciones, a partir de este viernes podrán recibir el 60% de su salario en calidad de prestación social los abuelos maternos o paternos que trabajen y decidan hacerse cargo del cuidado de los bebés, un beneficio que anteriormente solo se extendía al padre.

La ley precisa que estas prestaciones mensuales no pueden ser inferiores al salario mínimo vigente en el país (225 pesos cubanos, equivalentes a unos 9 dólares) y de serlo, serán elevadas a esa cifra.[[QUOTE:Es usual en Cuba que las madres trabajadoras no regresen a sus centros laborales hasta que su hijo cumpla un año]]En el caso de las madres que quieran regresar al trabajo tras las 18 semanas de licencia de maternidad con el 100% del salario, estas recibirán una prestación extra del 60% de su paga, a la que tienen derecho a partir de los tres meses y hasta un año después de dar a luz.

Es usual en Cuba que las madres trabajadoras no regresen a sus centros laborales hasta que su hijo cumpla un año.

Otra de las novedades radica en que en el caso de las madres con dos o más empleos, obtendrán la paga extra del 60% en cada caso, en proporción al tiempo real trabajado.

Las nuevas legislaciones también incluyen descuentos del 50% en las tarifas subvencionadas de las guarderías estatales para los padres con dos o más hijos.

Los padres quedarán exentos de pago a partir del tercer hijo, un privilegio que también recibirán las parejas con bebés nacidos en partos múltiples.

El Estado cubano también tuvo en cuenta al pujante sector privado en sus nuevas normativas, que benefician con una bonificación del 50% en las cuotas mensuales de impuestos a las "cuentapropistas" que tengan dos o más hijos menores de 17 años.[[QUOTE:De acuerdo a cifras oficiales, desde hace más de 30 años la tasa global de fecundidad en Cuba no supera los 2,1 hijos por mujer]]También se incluye el recorte del 50% de las cuotas mínimas a pagar por las licencias de "Asistente para el cuidado de niños" y "Cuidador de enfermos, personas con discapacidad y ancianos", implementadas desde 2012 como parte de las reformas económicas y sociales impulsadas por el Gobierno cubano.

Según el diario estatal Granma, estas nuevas leyes son consecuencia "del estudio y perfeccionamiento sistemático que sobre estos temas mantiene el Estado cubano con el propósito de atender los elevados niveles de envejecimiento (...) y estimular la fecundidad en una perspectiva mediata".

"El desafío de incrementar la natalidad en Cuba continúa inaplazable", concluye el órgano del gobernante Partido Comunista de la isla.

De acuerdo a cifras oficiales, desde hace más de 30 años la tasa global de fecundidad en Cuba no supera los 2,1 hijos por mujer, necesarios para alcanzar un adecuado reemplazo poblacional.

En 2015 este indicador decreció al 1,72.

Mientras, el 19,3% de los cubanos (unos 2,1 millones) tiene más de 60 años y la esperanza de vida al nacer alcanza ya los 78,45, lo que provocará que según los pronósticos Cuba será en 2050 el noveno país con la mayor población de ancianos del mundo.

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El Gobierno busca estimular ‘de forma inaplazable’ la natalidad ‘en medio de privaciones’ DDC | La Habana | 10 de Febrero de 2017 – 19:04 CET. El Gobierno aprobó dos Decretos-Leyes y cuatro resoluciones con el fin de estimular la fecundidad, la incorporación y reincorporación al trabajo de la mujer, así como la participación de […] Continue reading
Between 2 And 100 Cubans Expelled From Panama, According To Sources /
14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 9 February 2017 — A Cuban couple were
deported Wednesday by the National Migration Service in Panama. Both
were detained by the authorities in Guabalá, in Panama's Chiriquí province.

According to immigration sources, the couple entered the country
"irregularly." Both were returned to Uruguay, where they legally
reside. Their intention was to reach the US border.

The government office told 14ymedio that the deportations of migrants
passing through Panama to reach the United States increased in January.

Last month 81 people were expelled, which means 20 more deportations
than in January of 2016. Among the irregular migrants were 19
Colombians. Citizens of Ecuador, China and the Dominican Republic were
also counted, with 9 immigrants expelled from each of these
countries. According to statistics, only one Cuban was deported from
Panama last month.

However, complaints from Cuban migrants who attempted to enter through
the Darien jungle claim that there have been at least one hundred
deportations of Cuban migrants on the border with Colombia.

Panama's Director of Migration confirmed to this newspaper that access
will not be allowed to Cubans, not even through the Darien Gap, a route
where humanitarian posts were set up to help migrants after the border
was closed on 9 May 2016.

Several hundred Cubans were stranded in Panama following then President
Barack Obama's elimination of the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy on January
12th of this year.

About 200 migrants remain in the Caritas refuge center in Panama City,
waiting to continue their journey to the United States or to regularize
their situation in Panama.

According data from Panama Migration, in 2016 more than 27,000 irregular
migrants crossed the territory on their way to the United States.

Source: Between 2 And 100 Cubans Expelled From Panama, According To
Sources / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/between-2-and-100-cubans-expelled-from-panama-according-to-sources-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
New Price Caps For Cuba's Private Taxi Drivers / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 9 February 2017 — Private taxi drivers in Havana woke
up this Thursday with the news of the imposition of price caps on the
six most important routes served by their vehicles. The government has
taken the measure so as "not to allow an increase over the maximum set
prices," according to an official note.

In July of last year local authorities decreed maximum fares for the
so-called almendrones*, but the drivers responded by shortening the
sections and breaking the cost of the journey into multiple parts. This
week's announcement seeks to "protect the population" from that maneuver
that makes transportation expensive.

Taxi drivers who violate the stipulated fares risk being denounced by
customers or surprised during an inspection. The penalty is the
cancellation of the operating license under which they work and may
include "confiscation of means of transport" according to the text, that
is the seizure of their cars.

The measure is taken at a time when economic difficulties in Venezuela
have caused it to fail to fulfill its commitments to supply oil to the
island. This situation has forced the Government to reduce the volumes
of fuel allocated to state entities.

As a result of these cuts, the price of oil diverted from the state
sector has increased in price on the black market. From 8 Cuban pesos
(CUP) per liter it rose suddenly to 15, while in the state gas stations,
it is still being sold at 24 CUP a liter.

Reference prices of routes according to origin and destination, with
intermediate sections are as follows:

ROUTE 1: PARQUE EL CURITA TO LA PALMA. PRICE. 15.00 CUP

Departure or return from El Curita Park, up to La Calzada Diez de
Octubre and Via Blanca. PRICE. 5.00 CUP, to La Vibora, PRICE 10.00 CUP
and up to La Palma, PRICE 15.00 CUP.
Departure or return from La Calzada Diez de Octubre and Via Blanca to La
Viñora, PRICE 5.00 CUP and to La Palma, PRICE 10.00 CUP.

Departure or return from La Viñora to La Palma, PRICE 5.00 CUP
ROUTE 2: PARQUE EL CURITA TO LA VEREDA, LA LISA. PRICE. 20.00 CUP

Departure or return from El Curita Park, to Calzada Cerro and
Boyeros, PRICE 5.00 CUP, up to 100th and 51st, PRICE 10.00 CUP, to Plaza
Marianao, PRICE 15.00 CUP and up to La Vereda, La Lisa, PRICE 20.00 CUP.
Departure or return from la Calzada Cerro and Boyeros, up to 100th and
51st. PRICE 5.00 CUP, to Plaza de Marianao, PRICE 10.00 CUP and up to La
Vereda. PRICE 15.00 CUP.
Departure or return from 100th and 51st, up to Marianao Plaza, PRICE
5.00 CUP and up to La Vereda, PRICE 10.00 CUP.
Departure or return from Plaza Marianao, to La Vereda. PRICE 5.00 CUP.

ROUTE 3: PARQUE EL CURITA TO THE MILITARY HOSPITAL, PRICE 10.00 CUP

Departure or return from Parque El Curita, to 21st and L (Coppelia),
Vedado, PRICE 5.00 CUP, to Hospital Militar, PRICE 10.00.
Departure or return from 21st and L (Coppelia) Vedado, to Hospital
Militar, PRICE 5.00 CUP.
Departure or return from 41st and 42nd in Playa, to Military
Hospital, PRICE 5.00 CUP.

ROUTE 4: PARK THE CURITA TO SANTIAGO DE LAS VEGAS. PRICE. 20.00 CUP

Departure or return from Parque El Curita, to Calzada Cerro and Boyeros
or Ciudad Deportiva, PRICE 5.00 CUP, to Boyeros and Punte 100, PRICE
10.00 CUP, to Fontanar, PRICE 15.00 CUP and to Santiago de Las
Vegas, PRICE 20.00 CUP.
Departure or return from the Calzada Cerro and Boyeros or Ciudad
Deportiva, to Boyeros and Punte 100, PRICE 5.00 CUP, to
Fontanar, PRICE 10.00 CUP and to Santiago de Las Vegas, PRICE 15.00 CUP.
Departure or return from Boyeros and Punte 100, until
Fontanar, PRICE 5.00 CUP and to Santiago de Las Vegas, PRICE 10.00 CUP.
Departure or return from Fontanar, to Santiago de Las Vegas. PRICE. 5.00
CUP.

ROUTE 5: PARQUE EL CURITA TO PARADERO PLAYA. PRICE. 20.00 CUP

Departure or return from the Parque El Curita, to 21st and L (Coppelia)
Vedado, PRICE 5.00 CUP, to Line Tunnel,. PRICE. 10.00 CUP, until 3rd and
70 or 31st and 60th, PRICE 15.00 CUP and to Paradero Playa, PRICE 20.00 CUP.
Output or return from 21st and L (Coppelia), Vedado, to the Line
Tunnel, PRICE 5.00, until 3rd and 70th or 31st and 60th, PRICE 10.00 CUP
and to Paradero Playa, PRICE 15.00 CUP.
Output or return from Linea Tunnel, up to 3rd and 70th or 31st and 60th,
PRICE 5.00 CUP and to Paradero Playa, PRICE 10.00 CUP.
Departure or return from 3 and 70 or 31 and 60 in Playa, to Paradero
Playa, PRICE 5.00 CUP.

ROUTE 6: PARK THE CURITA TO GUANABACOA. PRICE. 20.00 CUP.

Departure or return from El Curita Park, to Miguel Enríquez Hospital,
PRICE 5.00 CUP, to the Virgen del Camino, PRICE 10.00 CUP, to Regla
Cemetery, PRICE 10.00 CUP, up to Via Blanca and Corral
Falso. PRICE 15.00 CUP and up to Guanabacoa, PRICE 20.00 CUP.
Departure or return from the Miguel Enríquez Hospital, to the Virgen del
Camino, PRICE 5.00 CUP, to Via Blanca and Corral Falso, PRICE 10.00 CUP
and to Guanabacoa, PRICE 15.00 CUP.
Departure or return from la Virgen del Camino, to Via Blanca and Corral
Falso, PRICE 5.00 CUP and to Guanabacoa, PRICE 10.00 CUP.
Departure or return from Via Blanca and Calzada Guanabacoa, to
Guanabacoa, PRICE 5.00 CUP.
*Translator's note: "Almendrón" is a term that refers to vehicles used
as private fixed-route shared taxis. The word means "almond" and is a
reference to the shape of the 1950s American cars that are commonly used
in this service.

Source: New Price Caps For Cuba's Private Taxi Drivers / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/new-price-caps-for-cubas-private-taxi-drivers-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Invasive Marabou Weed, An Enemy That Became An Ally / 14ymedio, Bertha
Guillen and Ricardo Fernandez

14ymedio, Bertha Guillen and Ricardo Fernandez, Artemisa/Pinar del Rio,
9 February 2017 – When he was a boy, Jorge Luis Ledesma Herrera played
around the charcoal ovens his father had built. Now, approaching 50,
this Pinar del Rio man dedicates his days to a shrub that is both hated
and appreciated: the invasive marabou weed, raw material for the first
product that Cuba has exported to the United States in more than five
decades.

Ledesma lives in El Gacho, a few miles from San Juan y Martinez, where
the best tobacco on the island is grown. Also growing in the area is the
spiny plant that has invaded the island since its arrival 150 years ago.
Now, its hard branches provide sustenance to thousands of families
across the island.

Cuba annually exports between 40,000 and 80,000 tonnes of
charcoal produced from marabou, which occupies roughly 2.5 million acres
of land that would otherwise be suitable for agriculture, or almost 17%
of the island's arable land.

Livestock areas have also been affected by this invasive weed that has
conquered 56% of the land used for animal husbandry. The plague of
threatening thorns spreads, thanks to the plant's strong nature, but
also due to the neglect and poor organization that affects the Cuban
countryside.

The state maintains a good deal of control over land despite the fact
that in recent years the cooperative sector has been expanded and land
has been leased in usufruct to private farmers.

The Basic Units of Cooperative Production manage 25% of the land, the
Agricultural Production Cooperatives 8% and the Credit and Services
Cooperatives 38%, while state farms manage 29%, according to figures
provided in 2015 during the XI Congress of the National Association of
Small Farmers (ANAP).

Popular jokes praise the marabou as if it were the royal palm. They
propose to replace that haughty national emblem on the Republic's coat
of arms and in its place enshrine the tangled anatomy of the invading
species.

A decade ago Raul Castro joked about the repudiation of the bush during
a speech in Camagüey, during the official commemoration of the assault
on the Moncada Barracks. "What was most beautiful, what stood out in my
eyes, was how beautiful the marabou was along the whole road," he said
after traveling from Havana to that central province.

After that harangue, the crusade against the marabou took on ideological
status and became a symbol of Raul's government, right alongside the
promises of eradicating the dual monetary system, curbing corruption and
lowering food prices. Shortly afterwards, enthusiasm for the battle was
lost and it disappeared from the government's list of critical projects.

In an irony of fate, the enemy plant has gradually become an ally. In
2007 the Spanish company Iberian and Solid Fuels (Ibecosol SL) began to
commercialize charcoal made from marabou in several European
countries. Its ability to burn slowly and the delicate flavor it adds to
food has earned it a good reputation.

Jorge Luis Ledesma Herrera knows these qualities well, because part of
the marabou he processes ends up in his own stove. Every morning he
spends hours cutting the logs that he then transports in an oxcart. His
life is not very different from his grandfather's, but he boasts of
being able to count on "legal electricity" in an environment where low
voltage "clotheslines" – as makeshift electrical wiring is called – abound.

He describes working with marabou as a real hell. The main limitation is
the tools he has to work with. The axes and machetes are of poor
quality, bought on the black market, and must be repaired all the
time. With ingenuity, some have recycled blades from sugar cane
harvesters to aid in cutting.

About two hundred yards from the farmer's house is the flat ground where
the oven is built. The earth is burned and looks fine, like black
powder. The marabou must be heated to temperatures between 750° and
1300° F, with the wood stacked in a cone, covered over with straw and earth.

"Two months ago I took out of the oven an amount I calculated as 20
sacks – about half a tonne – and it started to rain. Although the rain
only lasted a few minutes the hard coals cracked like broken glass," he
said. "I could only save five sacks.

In the nearby Artemisa Joaquín Díaz, 56, has been engaged in the
manufacture of charcoal since he was a child. He has been using marabou
for years to cook, but now, with the news of its export, he processes it
more delicately and takes greater care of the ovens. Like Ledesma, he
only has access to water through a well, takes care of his personal
needs in a latrine outside the house and his house has a light weight roof.

This charcoal producer in the village of Fierro, in the municipality of
San Cristóbal, bears up under the sting of the rebellious shrub; like
other farmers he uses gardening gloves to protect himself. Keeping his
eyes away from thorns is also part of the precautions. When he prepares
an oven he tries not to leave a gap between one stick and another,
because "it doesn't hold in the fire and then it goes out." Care is
essential. "As long as white smoke is coming out, the wood isn't
burned," and it will only ready to dismantle when the smoke turns blue,
which may take a week or more, Diaz explains.

In Pinar del Río, the companies that buy charcoal from the burners are
the state-owned Acopio and the Integral Forest Enterprise. Payment is
made through a temporary contract that allows them to be paid directly
and not through the cooperatives. The charcoal-burners thus avoid the
check cashing fee charged by those entities.

The state pays for charcoal at 1.20 Cuban pesos (CUP – roughly 5 cents
US) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) wholesale, or 30 CUP for a 25 kilogram
sack. For premium charcoal they pay 0.10 CUC (roughly ten cents US) per
kilogram. With luck, the producer will pocket the equivalent of 150
dollars for every tonne of best quality charcoal, which the state
enterprise will sell in the United States for 420 dollars, almost three
times what the charcoal-burner makes.

However, selling to the state comes with many problems of late payments.
In addition, "the rigging of the process of selection and the weighing
of the premium coal, makes it more reliable to sell it to private
individuals," says Ledesma. The private buyer pays 40 CUP per sack, "and
many owners of pizzerias and private restaurants in Pinar del Rio" come
to him to stock up.

Ledesma dreams of being able to sell his marabou charcoal directly,
without going through the state as an intermediary. "If that could be
done, I would buy myself a chain saw to increase production so I could
change the way I live." Of course if that were the case, he reflects,
"even doctors would come here set up charcoal ovens in El Gaucho."

Source: Invasive Marabou Weed, An Enemy That Became An Ally / 14ymedio,
Bertha Guillen and Ricardo Fernandez – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/invasive-marabou-weed-an-enemy-that-became-an-ally-14ymedio-bertha-guillen-and-ricardo-fernandez/ Continue reading
Cuban-American Sues for Compensation for Property Expropriated in 1959 /
EFE, 14ymedio

EFE, via 14ymedio, Miami, 7 February 2017 — The Cuban-American
neurosurgeon Javier García-Bengochea filed a lawsuit in US federal court
against a Chinese company for building on property that he says was
expropriated from his family by the Island's government in 1959.

The civil suit, for 6.5 million euros, was filed last Friday in a local
court in Jacksonville, North Florida, against the China Communications
Construction Company Ltd., based in Beijing, according to court
documents to which EFE had access.

The petitioner claims that he inherited the property in the port of
Santiago in eastern Cuba from his cousin in 1972, although it was seized
by the Cuban government in 1959.

The Government of Cuba has yet to resolve the 5,913 claims certified in
the US regarding properties confiscated on the island, for a total
amount of 1,780 million euros.

A first step in advancing these processes would be to activate Title III
of the 1996 Freedom Act (Helms-Burton), but since its adoption Title
III has been suspended, every six months, by order of Presidents Bill
Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

This clause allows Americans, even if they were not there at the time of
the expropriation, to file US claims in US courts and prohibits foreign
companies from "trafficking" these confiscated properties.

Garcia-Bengochea's suit demands economic compensation from the Chinese
company for "trafficking" his property in Cuba.

John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council,
which brings together US companies interested in increasing trade with
the island, told EFE that President Obama suspended the clause again for
another six months on 5 January, 15 days before the end of his term.

Source: Cuban-American Sues for Compensation for Property Expropriated
in 1959 / EFE, 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-american-sues-for-compensation-for-property-expropriated-in-1959-efe-14ymedio/ Continue reading
First Group of Cuban Doctors Arrives in Miami after the End of the
'Parole' / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Miami, 6 February 2017 – Two dozen health
professionals who abandoned their Cuban medical missions abroad arrived
this afternoon at the Miami International Airport from Colombia. This is
the first group to arrive in the United States after the end of the
Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP).

"This is a triumph for the whole Cuban American community, our
organization and the offices of the Cuban American congressmen who have
worked so that these guys can get the right deal, and their petitions
were satisfactorily answered," said Julio Cesar Alfonso, president of
the organization Solidarity Without Borders (SSF) which supports Cuban
doctors.

Yerenia Cedeno, a 28-year old Cuban doctor, characterized the situation
they experienced in Venezuela as "horrible." She escaped five months
after arriving at the mission, pushed by insecurity and the precarious
conditions where they worked.

"You would find out that they took the phone from this one or robbed
that one on the minibus. It's horrible," explains Cedeno.

The doctor adds that she could not go back to Cuba because there she
"would be marginalized and looked at badly."

"They put you in another place, not in your job because they look down
on you because you don't agree with what you experienced and for what
you were badly prepared," she adds.

The doctor felt exploited in Venezuela, where she shared her work with
her husband, also a doctor, who accompanied her on her trip to the
United States but did not want to make a statement to the press.

Their plan is to take their little three-year old daughter who lives in
Guantanamo out of Cuba and resume their studies in the United States.

"I want to work as a doctor or something similar. This is the start of a
new life," she says.

This past January 12, the then-president of the United States, Barack
Obama, eliminated the CMPP, a program established under the
administration of Republican George Bush that in a decade allowed the
flight of more than 8,000 Cuban health professionals.

According to the non-profit organization Solidarity Without Borders,
which helps integrate these doctors into the US health system, it helps
those fleeing from the biggest human trafficking system in the modern
history of the western hemisphere.

Arisdelqui Mora, a young Cuban who escaped the Island four years ago on
a raft, waited for her half-sister Arianna Reyes, a Cuban doctor who
escaped from the mission in Venezuela. The happiness of the reunion,
which included the grandmother of both, received wide media coverage.

"We have been separated but during the whole time we remained in
communication through the networks," explains Mora to 14ymedio.

"They have worked a lot," she adds.

Celia Santana, a dentist, only spent five months in Venezuela.

"Venezuela is much worse than my country. I never imagined that it would
be like that. That country is a disaster, and of course the Venezuelan
people are not to blame," explains the doctor.

She spent five months awaiting the parole in order to travel to the
United States.

"It's absurd to end the program. They should have taken other measures,"
she says.

"Cubans escape because of the economic situation and also because of the
politics because they want freedom of expression."

Mildre Ester Martinez, recently arrived in Miami, appreciates the help
received through the media and the service of Solidarity Without Borders.

"I did not feel right. I was disgusted, disappointed by all the work we
did there. I thank God to be here," she added.

Maikel Palacios, health professional and spokesman for the group of
Cubans, reminded that although Cuba has said publicly that they can
rejoin the public health system, "they don't let defectors enter the
country for eight years."

Palacios also questioned the supposed good will of the Island's
government when the official communication from the Minister of Public
Health did not mention the frozen bank accounts that the aid workers
lose once they abandon the mission.

"They don't talk about the money. There are people who have up to 7,000
dollars, and they lose it all the day they decide to escape," he said.

The Cuban government appropriates two-thirds of the salary earned by the
Cubans abroad. They are generally sent to the most remote places in
deplorable working conditions. In countries like Brazil they do not have
the right to receive their family while the aid program lasts, even
though the laws of that country permit it.

Solidarity Without Borders is in the middle of a campaign to
re-establish the Parole program for Cuban doctors. Currently they are
working with the offices of Cuban American congressmen in order to
present a proposal to President Donald Trump to reinstate the CMPP.

"We will keep working so that our colleagues may reach the land of
freedom and in the near future the Parole program will be re-established
for professionals who are in third countries," explained the president
of SSF, Julio Cesar Alfonso.

According to statistics from SSF more than 69 Cuban doctors have been
killed in Venezuela in the last 10 years. The Cuban government has
divulged that currently more than 50,000 professionals from the Island
are dispersed throughout more than 60 countries worldwide.

Working conditions and political pressure push thousands of
professionals to accept the missions proposed by the Cuban government.
Even though the salary was increased in 2014, the average salary of a
doctor in Cuba is about 60 dollars a month.

The massive exportation of health services has generated income for the
government on the order of 8.2 billion dollars a year in 2014 according
to official sources.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: First Group of Cuban Doctors Arrives in Miami after the End of
the 'Parole' / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/first-group-of-cuban-doctors-arrives-in-miami-after-the-end-of-the-parole-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
Police Search Home of Cuban 'YouTuber' / 14ymedio

14ymedio Havana, 8 February 2017 – Officers from Cuba's National
Revolutionary Police searched the home of 'YouTuber' and activist Alexei
Gamez, in Jagüey Grande in the province of Matanzas. According to
Eliecer Avila, leader of the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement, the agents
entered the house in the morning and have not allowed access to family
or friends.

"During the search they seized numerous appliances and the phones of all
the family members," explained Avila. Another source close to Gámez
detailed that the young man was taken from his home "in police custody"
and taken away in a patrol car. His mother tried to take a photo of the
moment, but as a result was also arrested.

Alexei Gámez is a member of Somos+ and a self-employed worker. "He has a
license that allows him to work as a motorcycle mechanic," Avila
explained. The activist is part of the Methodist community and in recent
days has created a channel on YouTube to teach Cubans how to "make
better use of the internet" on the island.

Under the name "Calle Mora," the channel broadcasts advice on wireless
networks and content sharing. To date it has published two videos with
"alternative solutions to connect and better understand technology,"
explains its creator.

Last November, Gámez was detained for seven days along with other
members of the movement, after being arrested when he tried to
participate in Academy 1010, a civic development initiative promoted by
Somos+.

The latest video could be the cause of the police response as it details
how to configure a NanoStation , a device for wireless communication
widely used in alternative networks and to connect to the
Telecommunications Company of Cuba's (ETECSA) wifi service, which is now
available in more than one hundred plazas and parks in the country.

NanoStations have never been marketed in state stores, but are offered
in the informal market at prices ranging from 180 to 250 Cuban
convertible pesos (roughly the same in dollars). Bringing them into the
country is regulated by the General Customs of the Republic, which
requires the traveler to show authorization for the device from the
Ministry of Communications.

Last November, Gámez was detained for seven days along with other
members of the movement, after being arrested when he tried to
participate in Academy 1010, a civic development initiative promoted by
Somos+.

According to a report released Monday by the Cuban Commission for Human
Rights and National Reconciliation, there have been 478 arbitrary
arrests against dissidents. The independent entity also denounces the
"seizures of their means of labor (laptops, cameras, mobile phones, etc.)."

Source: Police Search Home of Cuban 'YouTuber' / 14ymedio – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/police-search-home-of-cuban-youtuber-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Young Cuban Journalists Look at Their Profession / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 8 February 2017 – Now underway is
the second meeting of young journalists at the Jose Marti International
Journalism Institute in Havana. The main objective of the event,
organized by the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), is to discuss
"journalism and citizen participation, and communication in the context
of updating Cuba's social-economic model."

The news reports published in the official press, in addition to
reviewing the 24 proposals from the previous meeting, held in December
2015, reiterate "the urgency of a change in the routines of production
and a transformation of the management model."

It is likely that the young participants of this experience will leave
with the belief that national journalism is on the verge of change, and
that they will have a role in its transformation. This would be the
healthiest mistake of their professional career.

Imbued with this useful error, they will return to their newsrooms
convinced that the sacred verse of "changing everything that should be
changed" will be applied to the mass media so that the press will
finally fulfill its social role of keeping the population informed about
what is really happening in the country.

The vast majority of those in charge of deciding what can be published
and what must be silenced know perfectly well how diffuse are the limits
of their responsibility. They know, for example, that they can berate
the negligence of an administrator at a collection point where the
bananas are rotting on a truck, but they can never criticize the evil
effects of the excessive centralization of public administration.

When it comes time to choose, these leading cadres prefer to censor
rather than declassify, because, as they know, no director of a
newspaper or radio station ever been dismissed for silencing a criticism
or hiding complaints in a drawer.

When these impetuous kids return to their media with a new shot of
adrenaline, their more experienced colleagues will take the time to
explain to them that since the 3rd UPEC Congress, held more than 40
years ago, it seemed that everything would change if they fulfilled the
theme of that event: "For a critical, militant and creative journalism."

Since then, there as been a lot of talk from the podiums about the
culture of secrecy and the essential need to undertake rigorous analysis
of the problems that afflict the population.

A brief inventory of recent information lacunae could justify a certain
pessimism about the future of Cuba's official journalism. The most
notorious example is that no one has reported on the cause of death of
ex-president Fidel, despite the fact that his passing is the news that
has occupied the most space in the media since the end of last year.

No journalist has tried to explain in the official media why Marino
Murilla, in the last session of parliament, did not not offer his
traditional progress report with regards to the implementation of the
Party guidelines, nor what has been the fate of the new electoral law
that Raul Castro announced in February 2015 would be forthcoming, but
about which nothing more has been heard.

Silence reigns over such important topics as the date when the country's
dual currency system will end, or when the United Nations human rights
covenants will be ratified, or the depth of the dredging in Mariel Bay,
just to mention a few topical issues.

If we go back a decade, it comes to mind that there have been no
explanations about how the super-entity called the Battle of Ideas
ended, which was led by Mr. Otto Rivero, of whom nothing more has ever
been said. Nor is there any official report on the ouster of Carlos
Venciaga, a member of the Council of State, nor about that of the army
of social workers who had become omnipresent, but which are now nowhere
to be seen.

Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke with reporters Monday afternoon
and emphasized "the need to perfect" the work of the media. In passing,
he called attention to ways to confront "the platforms of ideological
political subversion," which target young people. Curiously, among these
platforms appear all of Cuba's independent journalism, which finds among
its principal niches all the information that is never talked about in
the official press.

Source: Young Cuban Journalists Look at Their Profession / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/young-cuban-journalists-look-at-their-profession-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
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How does Cuba manage to achieve first-world health statistics?
The island's medical system is envied throughout the region and is a
major foreign revenue earner
Havana 10 FEB 2017 - 16:08 CET

Cuba's healthcare system is a source of pride for its communist
government. The country has well-trained, capable doctors, the sector
has become an important export earner and gives Cuba valuable soft power
– yet the real picture is less rosy. A lot of health infrastructure is
deteriorating and there is a de facto two-tier system that favors those
with money.

Cuba's child mortality rate is on par with some of the world's richest
countries. With six deaths for every 1,000 births, according to World
Bank data from 2015, Cuba is level with New Zealand. In 2015, the global
average was 42.5 deaths for every 1,000 births. Despite more than half a
century of a US economic embargo, Cuba's average life expectancy matches
that in the US: 79.1 years, just a few months shorter than Americans
who, on average, live to 79.3 years, according to 2015 data from the
World Health Organization (WHO).

Much of Cuba's success in these areas is due to its primary healthcare
system, which is one of the most proactive in the world. Cuba's
population of 11.27 million has 452 out-patient clinics and the
government gives priority to disease prevention, universal coverage and
access to treatment.

Cuba has also produced innovations in medical research. In 1985 the
country pioneered the first and only vaccine against meningitis B. The
country's scientists developed new treatments for hepatitis B, diabetic
foot, vitiligo and psoriasis. They also developed a lung cancer vaccine
that is currently being tested in the United States. Cuba was also the
first country on earth to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis
from mother to child, a feat recognized by the WHO in 2015.

In 2015, Cuba spent 10.57% of its GDP on health, slightly higher than
the global average. According to the World Bank in 2014, the European
average spending GDP spending was 10%, compared to 17.1% in the United
States.

Two-tier system
A lesser-known characteristic of Cuba's healthcare system is the
existence of special clinics, reserved for tourists, politicians and
VIPs. The state reserves the best hospitals and doctors for the national
elite and foreigners, while ordinary Cubans sometimes must turn to the
black market or ask expatriate friends or family to send medicine.

"Cuba's health service is divided in two: one for Cubans and the other
for foreigners, who receive better quality care, while the national
population has to be satisfied with dilapidated facilities and a lack of
medicines and specialists, who are sent abroad to make money for Cuba,"
says Dr. Julio César Alfonzo, a Cuban exile in Miami and director of the
NGO Solidaridad Sin Fronteras.

In 1959, the country had only 6,000 doctors, half of whom emigrated
after the Cuban revolution. By 2014, Cuba had 67.2 doctors for every
10,000 inhabitants, with only Qatar and Monaco ahead of it.

However, despite these impressive statistics, the quality of primary
healthcare, which has been fundamental to Cuba's success, has been
declining in recent years. Between 2009 and 2014 there was a 62% fall in
the number of family doctors, from 34,261 to 12,842, according to Cuba's
National Statistics Office (ONEI).

An army of white coats
In the words of Fidel Castro, Cuba's "army of white coats" was formed in
1960, when a medical brigade was sent to Chile after an earthquake left
thousands dead. Since then, Cuba has sent more than 300,000 healthcare
workers to 158 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to
Cuba's state news agency. Today, around 50,000 Cuban medical workers are
present in 67 countries.

"Cuban doctors are rooted in solidarity and in the Hippocratic Oath. Our
job would be unthinkable without foreign missions," says Salvador Silva,
a doctor specializing in infectious diseases who has worked in Haiti and
Liberia.

"Yes, our salary is low and maybe that pushes us to go abroad, but it
also makes us proud when we see our work recognized throughout the
world, on top of just helping in our own country," he adds.

Doctors are arguably Cuba's most profitable resource and the country's
medical missions have proved to be a lucrative diplomatic tool. The
healthcare industry is also one of the country's main sources of income.
In 2014, Cuban authorities estimated overseas healthcare services would
bring in $8.2 billion, putting it ahead of tourism.

Cuba has a different deal with each country it works with. For example,
in exchange for sending 3,500 health care workers to work in and provide
training in Venezuela, a close Cuban ally, Venezuela sends oil.

With such a high demand for personnel, some suspect that the Cuban
government has been reducing educational requirements to hasten
students' entry into the work force.

"They are giving doctors licenses in record time to meet the need to
export them, and this has been detrimental to the quality of training
and medicine, which used to be the best. This has been happening since
they started the program in Venezuela, between 2003 and 2004," says Dr
Alfonzo.

Doctors are also eager to be sent abroad, not only to help the less
fortunate, but also for money. Salaries are higher – depending on the
location, with doctors abroad reportedly making up to $1,000 per month
(minus taxes), whereas those in Cuba make around $50. On the island, it
isn't rare to find taxi drivers, shopkeepers or construction workers
with medical degrees.

Juan drives a 1950s Chevrolet he bought with his brother and he uses it
as a taxi from 6pm to midnight. He's also a doctor in the clinic
Hermanos Ameijeiras.

"The wage is a pittance. We find ourselves obligated to make a living
doing other things. I have coworkers who sell prescriptions to
pharmacies, who work in unlicensed clinics or help their families in
shops. It's frustrating," he says. "It's like they're pushing us to
enlist in international missions, the business of Cuba."

The country's medical missions abroad have been an important escape
route for Cubans looking to defect. Before migratory reforms were passed
in January 2013 allowing Cubans with passports and visas to travel
abroad, the preferred way to abandon Cuba was via Venezuela. In 2013 and
2014, more than 3,000 doctors deserted the island to go to the United
States through a special visa program called Cuban Medical Professional
Parole, a program started by George W. Bush to help healthcare workers
who had escaped while working abroad.

Lucia Newman, a former CNN correspondent in Habana, said Cuban doctors
complain that travel restrictions prevent them from attending
conferences or keeping abreast of the latest medical advances. The US
trade embargo on Cuba includes some textbooks, but the major problem is
that Cuban doctors cannot buy medical equipment from the United States
or from any US subsidiaries.

For Odalys, a young patient waiting at the Hospital Salvador Allende,
"the situation is becoming unsustainable in this country and it's not
because of a lack of specialists, it's because we have to bring
everything ourselves. I just bought a light bulb for the hospital room.
I've called home so that they can bring me bedding, towels and even
toilet paper. There aren't even stretchers, I saw a family carrying
their sick son into a room. Free and universal health care, yes, but
it's a bit of a mess and very informal," she says.

English version: Alyssa McMurtry.

Source: Cuba's healthcare system: How does Cuba manage to achieve
first-world health statistics? | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/02/10/inenglish/1486729823_171276.html?prod=REG&o=COM&event_log=fa Continue reading