Raúl Castro y el presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, llegaron este domingo a Caracas para participar en la XIV Cumbre de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de América (ALBA) y en los actos conmemorativos por el cuarto aniversario de la muerte de Hugo Chávez, reporta EFE.Continue reading
La actriz cubana Miriel Cejas, popular en la Isla por su participación en películas como Boleto al paraíso, Lisanka, Conducta y La cosa humana, se está dando a conocer al público español con su personaje en La Princesa Paca, una tv movie que cuenta la relación del poeta Rubén Darío con la española Francisca "Paca" Sánchez del Pozo, hija de un jardinero, informa Vistar Magazine.Continue reading
El presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, solicitó al Congreso que investigue las supuestas escuchas a sus conversaciones antes de las elecciones de 2016 y determine si el Ejecutivo de su antecesor, Barack Obama, abusó de sus poderes, informó este domingo el portavoz de la Casa Blanca, Sean Spicer, reporta EFE.Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 3 March 2017 – With the opportunity to
study at the university by passing the University entrance exams with
the "minimum score," the Ministry of Higher Education (MES) is offering
an incentive for young women who want to enlist in Military Service,
which is an obligation for men.
The announcement was made by the MES authorities during a press
conference this Thursday, where they stressed that the requirements for
regular entry to higher education for candidates who are not military
women remain the same: "Pass exams in Math, Spanish and History with a
minimum of 60 points" and compete in the provincial roster for a
"They will be offered first-rate careers and the Ministry will do
everything possible to offer them the majors they request," said a
journalist at the meeting.
"An important element is that they will be given the possibility of
enrolling in the regular day course," he added.
The enrollment for the subjects that are studied in regular daytime
courses will be 36,705 places for the next course.
In the case of women who choose to wear the green uniform of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces, they will skip the requirement that they
compete with other candidates in their provinces and may enroll in the
universities simply by passing the entrance tests.
Recruits to compulsory military service in Cuba have the opportunity to
study a university career through Order 18. That law privileges the
recruits' access to the university the second year after joining the
FAR. In the case of women, they can start at the university the same
year they enlist.
After the arrival of Raúl Castro in 2006, university enrollment declined
sharply, a trend that contrasted with the increase in the previous 20
years, when enrollment in the social and human sciences increased by 4,000%.
The entrance exams for higher education also underwent changes, becoming
Starting with Raul Castro's reforms, enrollment in the humanities
decreased by 83% while enrollment in the national sciences great by 13%.
In 2014, university enrollment decreased by 30%. In the 2014-2015
academic year there were 18,112 fewer university graduates than in the
previous academic period.
According to statistics provided by the Cuban Government, 356,600 women
worked in the country's defense, public administration and social
security in 2015, fewer than the 451,400 women that made up these
organizations in 2014.
The Army continues to be one of the main institutions in the life of the
Cuban nation. Its presence extends to the Government and controls the
Business Administration Group that manages the main tourist companies of
In 2016, Global Firepower placed Cuba in 79th position among the world's
major powers and one of the 10 most powerful military forces in Latin
Source: Cuba Seeks To Encourage Women To Enter Military Service /
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-seeks-to-encourage-women-to-enter-military-service-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
Cardet / 14ymedio
14ymedio, Havana, 3 March 2017 — This Friday, the trial against Eduardo
Cardet, a doctor and the national coordinator of the Christian
Liberation Movement (MCL), was concluded. The prosecution has maintained
its original request for three years of deprivation of liberty for the
opponent, who has been detained since November 30 and charged with
"attack on authority." The trial was held in the Municipal Court of
Gibara (Holguin) and the sentence will be handed down on March 20.
The arrest occurred in a violent manner outside the activist's home in
the municipality of Velasco, where he lives and works in the Family
Clinic office. He is charged with an alleged attack on a State Security
officer at the time of arrest.
Cardet's wife, Yaimaris Vecino, was able to enter the courtroom this
morning, but other MCL activists had to wait outside the
building. Marlenys Leyva, Cardet's mother-in-law, told 14ymedio that
only nine family members were allowed in.
A neighbor told 14ymedio that "Cardet was very calm and explained very
well what happened, without contradictions." He asserts that the
opponent has the truth in his hand and that the same could not be said
of the accusation. "They stumbled from beginning to end trying to impose
their lies," he explains.
According to Marlenys Leyva, the access road to the Tribunal was closed
from the early hours and there was a considerable number of members of
the Rapid Response Brigades around the outside of the building.
Cardet, 48, was denied bail on three occasions to await trial at his home
"The people of State Security are here, like Major Juan Carlos
Espinosa." He stated that not only was there a police presence outside
the building but there was also "a large group of officers inside."
Cardet, 48, was denied bail on three occasions to await trial at his
home. Set to begin on February 20, the process was postponed to Friday
without explaining the reasons to either the family or the accused.
According to Vecino, the defense lawyer, Eliécer La Rosa, called four
witnesses during the trial. The lawyer indicated that those presented by
the prosecution are members of the Rapid Response Brigades. For their
part, MCL activists have denounced Cardet's case as being "fabricated"
by the Cuban government to get him to stop his activism.
The extension of the preventive confinement of the opponent has
generated pronouncements of international organizations such as Amnesty
International, which declared him a prisoner of conscience. Similarly,
the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation
demanded his immediate release.
Source: The Prosecution Asks For Three Years In Prison For The Opponent
Eduardo Cardet / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-prosecution-asks-for-three-years-in-prison-for-the-opponent-eduardo-cardet-14ymedio/ Continue reading
/ 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 3 March 2017 — The role of
information technology as a "weapon for the defense of the Revolution"
has grabbed the attention of the latest meeting of the Council of
Ministers, held several weeks late this Tuesday in the Palace of the
Revolution and headed by President Raul Castro.
During the meeting, policies were approved for the improvement of the
system of standardization, measurement, quality and accreditation, as
well as fishing and food safety. But the leading role was taken by
Information and Communication Technologies, whose shortcomings were
expressed by General Leonardo Andollo Valdés, who is in charge of the
Commission for the Implementation and Development of Improvement of the
Economic and Social Model.
The military man stressed that "different actions have been undertaken
for the regulation of computerization in the country, however, a
comprehensive policy is required." He called for the creation of content
aimed at "strengthening the identity and preserving the values of
At a time when new technologies are gaining a presence among the
population, the Government is still cautious about defining protocols
for computerizing activities of daily life. Doing legal paperwork on the
internet, or reserving a ticket, or taking money out of an ATM, are all
tasks that continue to be surrounded by complexities.
Andollo said that conditions will be created to facilitate both
communication between government institutions and procedures for the
population. Citizens have insisted on the need for these improvements,
since it is not comprehensible that in such a centralized state, many
procedures must be pursued separately with each entity.
On the other hand, while official reluctance remains, alternative
distribution networks have a wide assortment of devices, content and
"tricks" – such as NanoStations, Bullets, Rockets or Routers – to take
advantage of global developments in technology. On the streets of Cuba,
the most sophisticated smartphones coexist with the stories of those who
still haven't been able to afford their first cellphone.
The ministers met the day before the announcement of the prices of Nauta
Home, a service that provides Internet browsing from homes. After a
pilot test that included 2,000 homes in Havana's historic center, the
Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) announced the fees for the service,
which range from 15 to 115 Convertible Cuban pesos (CUC) for 30 hours of
connection. The available speeds start at 128 kilobytes and range up to
Source: Cuban Government Sees IT As "A Weapon For The Defense Of The
Revolution" / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-government-sees-it-as-a-weapon-for-the-defense-of-the-revolution-14ymedio-marcelo-hernandez/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Marta Requeiro, Miami, 26 February 2017 – I don't know how my
mother managed always to know a little more about my friends and their
customs, and even those of the neighbors, because her limited time did
not allow her to gossip; but she continually warned me that things are
not always as they appear.
That is how I ended up having a lover who was to her liking. I confess
that he was attractive, but we had frequent differences when we talked
about topics of daily life that ended up opening a breach in the
Contrary to what the Island's Government always suggested, without being
apparent except to the most rebellious or those with the "clinical eye,"
the beginning of the abysmal separation that today exists between the
two known population groups, the governing elite with all of its
coterie, and the people, was immediately conceived.
I realized soon after beginning the relationship with him that there
were people who projected an image of humility but, behind closed doors,
had covered all the basic necessities that for common mortals – like me
– were impossible. And more so, they came to be luxuries.
I later learned, thanks to that relationship, that there was a segment
of the population that accessed a life unknown to the majority of
Cubans. Ordinary Cubans who served once a month on the guard duty for
the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), more than
anything in order not to be robbed in the night by their own neighbors
and despoiled of what they had achieved with their own effort. Ordinary
Cubans who marched to the Plaza Jose Marti on dates commemorating some
important revolutionary event in order to sing hymns and feed their
faith in the process of change (a change that still has not arrived),
and who subsisted on what they would acquire through the ration booklet
and who always carried the empty bag that was indispensable when leaving
the house so as not to be surprised and unprepared for the arrival at
the warehouse of some product among those that were distributed only
sporadically and that, hopefully, would be something good.
Many families had only the ration book to count on to provide them with
petty rations, which, even if they were well managed and "cultivated,"
did not even allow them, at least once a day, to bring to the table a
serving of decent food.
Even so, the markets and warehouses of that time were not as poorly
supplied as now, and that little ration booklet meant something.
Already by the '80's the economic impoverishment, forecast only to get
worse, was obvious, today inhuman for the ordinary Cuban, who is always
the most affected.
As young as one was, one could tell. In most cases what was missing was
enough courage to publicly say it and in a form of protest, as happens
today with the internal dissidence that, in spite of the vexations that
those who dare to raise a voice are subjected to, there are more who
join them in order to protest their discontent.
It happened one day that a friend invited my lover to a house in Vedado
that belonged to one of his cousins who would turn fifteen. My mother,
knowing that I would go with him – after already having investigated his
background and knowing that he was from a good family – and making him
promise that we would be back early – granted me permission.
I had time to prepare my best clothes to go in accord with the occasion
since he advised me several days ahead that I had to go elegant.
The day and time came and we climbed into the car of his friend who,
accompanied by his girlfriend, would carry us to the party that would
take place in Vedado.
We went up 23rd Street and, now well into the trip, the driver took a
turn I could not say where; but there was a time when I did not exactly
know our location. I was not at all familiar with that place where the
The neighborhood that emerged before my eyes was at a glance far from my
neighborhood and what was familiar to me until then. It was composed of
beautiful houses with immense gardens that extended from the sidewalk to
the entrances, some with tall bars of black balusters. The car kept
going until it came to an immense wooden gate in a fortified wall that
extended for almost the whole block.
We got out, and the uninhibited driver went forward to press the
doorbell, which turned out to be an intercom. It was strange for me to
look around and see majestic houses, well-cared for, painted, to hear
silence and await a response from that artifact attached to the
concrete; in my neighborhood it sufficed to yell from the sidewalk the
name of the person sought for him to come out, and in the air you could
always hear the mixed sound of different rhythms and someone or other
calling vociferously highlighted by dogs barking in the distance.
Finally we heard a voice come from the apparatus asking "who is it" and
with a simple "I," said by the driver, the handle of the solid wooden
door was magically activated so we would enter invading the immense
barricade that impeded access and visibility from the streets to the
Passing the threshold, I marveled at the beauty of the immediate area.
If they spoke to me then I swear I do not remember it. I felt like and
must have had the same expression as Alice in Wonderland.
Some hundred guests had already arrived, all dressed elegantly. My
boyfriend, while we were there, asked me several times if I was alright.
Surely my unusual quietness was making my surprise evident.
I saw for the first time live – and in full color – a domestic service
team. Until then I had only seen it in foreign films. It was composed of
about half a dozen women dressed in green guayabera dresses and white
lace-up tennis shoes.
I saw there for the first time Pringles Potato Chips, and beer acquired
without the well-known scavenging for the five boxes on the ration book
only allocated if you were getting married or turning fifteen, and in
cans. I tasted – with a grimace – the Spanish brandy Terry Malla Dorada.
I felt strange before this conglomeration displaying the bourgeois
behavior criticized by the Government.
The two smorgasbord tables in the middle of the immense room with a
marble floor never emptied. Trays with all kinds of snacks and
sandwiches were brought by the waitresses.
Outside, next to the entryway, was the bar attended by two young men
with white guayaberas who asked what we wanted to drink or what we
desired, including glasses for the beer.
Later the rueda de cubana dance was unleashed to the furor of the music
of the Van Van hits and it reminded me how beaten up Cuba was.
I felt like leaving, I had nothing in common with the others there,
nothing was familiar and known to me except my companion and the music;
then I suggested that he invent an excuse and that we leave. That
opulence and excess were inconceivable for what was proclaimed from the
other side of the wall, although the reason was a fifteen-year-old's party.
I asked the friend to get us out of there and take us to the nearest bus
stop. He agreed after trying to persuade us, without success, and
wanting to know the reason for our sudden departure.
Outside I felt relief, and I breathed comfortably. I commented on it
with my fiancé, and he told me what little he knew of the mysterious
family of his friend, whom he believed was from State Security or a
bodyguard for someone important.
How was that way of life kept in silence, how was it not criticized on
television, and where did it come from and how was that luxury and
excess that was not just a festive event paid for? How was there a
capitalist form of existence inside Cuban territory, supposedly
socialist and egalitarian?
Back then it was undercover; today we know how it is and that the
behavior of the ruling leadership far from surprising us proves the
existence of two social classes or poles that they themselves do not
want to recognize as so disparate: The experts in training and
subjugating so that the Cuban people do what they say and not what they
do, and the people themselves.
We have learned about the excess expenses for recreation and tourism of
one of Fidel's sons and the carryings-on of Raul's grandson/bodyguard.
The international press and Cuban dissidence have unveiled those two
faces of those who for almost six decades have had control and power on
the largest of the Antilles.
It is true, looks deceive!
I met some people who lived in secret opulence supporting Castro-ism,
which stayed in power with a public image as protector of the underdogs.
It's not that I don't like the good life but that condition is given in
Cuba only to those who speak of equality without practicing it.
Opulence and abundance should belong to those who earn it, inherit it or
work for it, not to those who steal it. Submission is not dignified,
even less for so long a time. Let's hope that once and for all the Cuban
people open their eyes and reclaim the rights that have been denied them.
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
Source: Luxury and Excess in Socialist Cuba / 14ymedio, Marta Requeiro –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/luxury-and-excess-in-socialist-cuba-14ymedio-marta-requeiro/ Continue reading
El XXV Congreso de la Internacional Socialista (IS) "exigió" al presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, liberar a los presos políticos al tiempo que rechazó la violación "sistemática" de los derechos humanos en ese país, reporta EFE.
Así lo expresó la IS en una declaración en la ciudad colombiana de Cartagena de Indias, en donde este sábado finalizó el Congreso que durante tres días reunió a unos 350 delegados de numerosos países.Continue reading
Father reports: 'They are making inquiries as if we were criminals'
Published: 16 hours ago
Even as President Trump prepares to undo some of Barack Obama's
executive orders to normalize America's relations with Cuba, the
communist island nation remains far short of international human-rights
For example, government officials arrested and put on trial a mother and
a father for homeschooling their children.
Prosecution of homeschooling parents has been carried out in other
countries in recent years, including Germany, Ireland, Sweden and even
the United States. But the Home School Legal Defense Association, the
world's premiere homeschool advocates, says that doesn't make Cuba's
recent jailing of Ramon and Adya Rigal any the less a violation of their
The organization said the couple, arrested on Feb. 21, had decided to
homeschool because they wanted the best for their children.
"We wanted the freedom to give our children the education that we, the
parents, have chosen," Ramón explained. "As Article 26.3 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, every parent has the right
to give his children the education that he chooses."
The dispute erupted when authorities noticed their children were not in
the government's education program.
See what American education has become, in "Crimes of the Educators: How
Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children."
The parents were visited by a team of police officials, a lawyer and
"They wanted to impose their position upon us and gave us a warning
notice and told us they would take us before the courts because of our
position on homeschooling," Ramón said in a statement released through
"I visited authorities several times to find a peaceable solution to my
problem," he added. "I brought up the possibility of homeschooling under
their supervision. I was told that if I did, my wife and I would be
imprisoned and our children sent away."
It was the Municipal Office of Education in Guantanamo that explained
"in our system, homeschooling is not considered an educational
institution, as this term is basically used in countries with capitalist
There are penalties, the government said, for allowing a minor to be
absent from school.
The officials then moved through the neighborhood to undermine the
pastor and his wife.
"They are making inquiries among our neighbors as if we were criminals
and creating a bad image of me as they go about homes making inquiries
about us," Ramón said.
The government was equally unconcerned about a letter from Michael
Donnelly, HSLDA's chief of global outreach. Officials simply didn't respond.
Donnelly had pointed out that "as a matter of international human rights
law, the right of parents to choose the kind of education their children
shall receive is recognized as a 'prior' right by the United Nations
Declaration on Human Rights in article 26(3)."
"When parents choose to home educate their children they are exercising
their own right as well as taking on the responsibility to provide an
education for their children," he said. … There is no human rights
framework or treaty that recognizes that an education must be provided
by government controlled schools."
He provided copies of the Berlin Declaration and the Rio Principles to
help officials understand.
See the parents awaiting processing by police:
The parents now been ordered to check in with police every week.
The HSLDA report from Donnelly explained: "Ramón wants to be able to
stay in Cuba to pastor his congregation. But it is no wonder that Ramón
and his family, after being treated like this simply because they
homeschool, have expressed a desire to seek refuge in a country that
would respect their rights to educate their children."
He noted that before 2014, when Obama and Raul Castro cut a deal to
restore ties with Cuba, there had been no official contact for decades.
See what American education has become, in "Crimes of the Educators: How
Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children."
U.S. law still required the U.S. to oppose Cuba's human rights violations.
The White House said only last year that should Cuba want to become part
of the global community of nations, it needs to treat its citizens with
"certain minimum norms."
HSLDA said Cuba needs to acknowledge the rights of parents to homeschool
their children, and an online petition allows people to send that very
message to Cuba.
"We hope that members of Congress and the Trump administration will take
an interest in this case and take action to defend the Rigals and others
like them. Your support, through membership and the Homeschool Freedom
Fund, provides the resources which enable us to fight these important
battles for families who are being oppressed and mistreated for their
choice to homeschool," Donnelly's report said.
The threat of jail for homeschool parents is more common that probably
most people know.
Just this year an Ohio mom mother faced the possibility of conviction
for homeschooling. HSLDA said Valerie Bradley was convicted of being
"criminally reckless" over homeschooling.
In Germany, the Wunderlich family has been in the bull's-eye of a
long-running government campaign against homeschooling, repeatedly being
threatened with jail terms.
In 2013, they famously faced down police officials armed with a
battering ram at the home.
The SWAT team, authorized by a judge to use force if necessary, took the
children and told the Wunderlichs they wouldn't see them again soon
because they were violating federal law by homeschooling.
Although there was no claim the children were being mistreated, a team
of 20 social workers, police and special agents stormed the family's
home. The HSLDA said at the time that Judge Koenig of the Darmstadt
family court signed the order authorizing the immediate seizure of the
children by force.
Previously in Ireland, a homeschooling mother went to prison for 10 days.
In Germany, officials have left untouched the anti-homeschooling laws
from the Adolf Hitler era.
In 1937 Hitler said: "The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow.
For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our
youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early
age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore
unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the
future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no
one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and
its own upbringing."
In 2006, a German education official said the government was working to
avoid future conflicts over homeschooling with one particular family by
looking "for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the
family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."
HSLDA has documented that the German government considers homeschooling
to be child abuse, even though it is recognized as a right by the
Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the European Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the United Nations
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In fact, a 16-year-old in Germany once was taken into custody and
detained in a mental facility because she was being homeschooled.
In nearby Sweden, WND also reported a case in which authorities snatched
a 7-year-old child from an airplane as the parents were moving to India
so they could homeschool.
Swedish courts have ordered Dominic Johansson to be permanently
separated from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson. Christer later
was imprisoned in the fight.
The U.S. Department of Justice at the time, under Obama, said in court
it agrees with the philosophy of the German government that bureaucrats
can punish homeschooling parents.
In one case in Mississippi, HSLDA fought a decision from Judge Joe Dale
Walker of the state's 13th Chancery district court that included the
judge's threats to school officials.
"He threatened us," said a school official who later was served with an
order the judge wrote and signed for himself.
Walker about that time was ordered by the state Supreme Court to explain
Source: Human rights? Cuba arrests, orders trial for homeschooling
http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/human-rights-cuba-arrests-orders-trial-for-homeschooling-parents/ Continue reading
March 5, 2017 12:33 AM
By Brian O'Neill / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HAVANA, Cuba — Pennsylvania legislators flew to Havana last month with a
simple idea for getting around the 55-year-old embargo against Cuba:
Trade our agricultural products for rum.
Two days in, the plan got even simpler: just buy a boatload of rum for
state liquor stores and forget the embargo. Republican state senate
leaders say the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition 30 years before
the embargo began, gives each state absolute control over alcoholic
"You can't just suspend the federal constitution," said Sen. Chuck
McIlhinney, R-Bucks County and chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.
A Pennsylvania play for Cuban rum would be an extraordinary move at a
time when eased Cuban-American relations under President Barack Obama
have given way to mostly guesses about President Donald Trump's stance.
In the mid-1990s, Mr. Trump put out feelers for an investment in Cuba
once the restrictions were eased, but while the Pennsylvanians were away
on the island, Mr. Trump announced that he and Sen. Marco Rubio,
R-Florida, "have very similar views on Cuba.''
Mr. Rubio has been a vocal critic of Mr. Obama's Cuba policy. Toss in
conservative Keystone Republicans venturing into one of the last
outposts of socialism — and finding bureaucrats who have their own spin
on the art of the deal — and the plot is as thick as Cuban molasses.
If Mr. McIlhinney is right, and Pennsylvania has a winning
constitutional argument to bypass the embargo, it's one that might have
worked years ago. The Liquor Control Board is consulting its lawyers and
planning a strategy that could end with Pennsylvania being the only
place to buy Cuban rums — though likely not before a court battle.
Federal impoundment of cases of Cuban rum at the Philadelphia docks
until the case is decided in court wouldn't be the worst publicity; that
surely would make national news and increase the appetite for the
long-taboo spirits. But it's doubtful any ship owner would take that
risk. Ships docking at Cuban ports aren't allowed to dock at U.S. ports
for six months.
It seems more likely Pennsylvania would seek a declaratory judgment. A
federal judge could issue a legally binding decision before any rum
The irony of the state Liquor Control Board being the vehicle for reform
is lost on no one. Senate President Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said with
a smile that this transaction would be "from one controlled state to
another." But such a deal "will do more to help capitalism, and
capitalism breeds democracy," than the embargo ever did, Mr. McIlhinney
"The Russians are gone,'' he said after five days and four nights in
Cuba. "I didn't see any."
If this deal moves on fast-forward, the multi-day talks Pennsylvania
state officials had with a tag team of Cuban government operatives in
around Havana may come to be seen as one uncommonly quiet revolution.
Three of the four minority and majority chairs of the Pennsylvania
legislative committees overseeing liquor, and two of the three LCB board
members, made the stops with other legislators, and they ran into
surprises from the get-go.
Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, AZ Cuba (Cuban Sugar Group)
Rafael Suarez Rivacoba, director of international relations for the
sugar group, asked through an interpreter why all these visitors were
there. When he heard "rum," Mr. Rivacoba shared a story familiar to
every Western Pennsylvanian: the sudden collapse of a single-product
Before the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Mr. Rivacoba said, Cuba
produced seven to eight million tons of sugar a year. The implosion of
the Soviet bloc meant the disappearance of Cuba's principal sugar
market. One hundred sugar mills shut down.
The 1990s were known as Cuba's "Special Period." When the Russians left,
so did their oil, and that left Cuba reeling. By 2004, the country was
producing only 1 million tons of sugar per year, Mr. Rivacoba said. Now
it's about twice that but there's capacity to double production again —
if there's a market.
Meantime, his colleague Rodrigo Diaz Sandoval, director of the group's
division of logistics and exports, said, "We think we have the rum that
an American citizen deserves to drink."
When LCB board member Mike Negra said the Pennsylvanians came seeking to
buy, Mr. Rivacoba then broke in with a question that might as well have
been translated as "so what's taking you?" He had a meeting that
afternoon with the rum group, and it would be a technical detail to
create 750-milliliter bottles for the U.S. market.
Later Tuesday morning, Cuba Chamber of Commerce
Cuba's promoters offered a power-point presentation, touting the
country's central location in the Caribbean in the same way
Pennsylvania's promoters do when promoting the commonwealth's proximity
to U.S. population centers. The visual message: You could do well here.
Cuba trades with more than 75 countries and trade has tripled in the
past 10 years, the island's boosters said. By the time they showed
slides of the Mariel Special Development Zone, "the most modern
container port in the Americas," they were sounding more like students
of Alexander Hamilton than of Karl Marx.
Cuba seeks foreign investment, they said. It doesn't have enough
domestic savings to provide enough capital. They called it "updating of
the Cuban economic model."
So when the Pennsylvanians raised the idea of bartering agricultural
products in exchange for rum, they were told that in bygone days Cuba
sent tons of sugar, rum and citrus fruits to socialist countries in
exchange for oil, equipment and food. They're past that now. They like
to be paid in cash.
Each time the Pennsylvanians tried to talk up a creative international
deal, the Cubans steered attention to the tax breaks for joint ventures
with the Cubans in Mariel, a port made famous by the 1980 boat lift.
"We want to end that blockade," Orlando Hernandez Guillen, president of
the chamber, said.
Afterward, Mike Diven, the former state legislator from Brookline who
organized this trip as a combined amateur boxing exhibition/trade
mission, betrayed no discouragement.
"I didn't hear a solid no," Mr. Diven said. "I hear it's complicated."
Tuesday afternoon, Food Industry Ministry
Juan B. Gonzalez Escalona, president of CubaRon, could match a football
coach at halftime with his enthusiasm for his product. He told
Pennsylvanians that he's sure Americans sometimes smell Cuban rum
wafting across the Straits of Florida. He'd like to end our frustration
"for humanitarian reasons.
Constellation Brands, the Fortune 500 company based in western New York
that imports beers, wines and liquors, has visited a couple of times, he
said, and was expected back in a few days. (A spokesperson for
Constellation Brands said in an email Wednesday, "We don't comment on
rumor or speculation.")
Cuba's message was clear. The island may have problems, but their rum
has international appeal. Cuba, in a joint venture with Pernod Ricard of
France since 1994, sells rum in more than 100 countries.
Pennsylvanians touted their uncommon buying power with $2.4 billion in
LCB sales last year (including taxes, which they didn't mention). Nearly
$147 million of that was in rum.
Betsy Diaz Velasquez, the deputy minister of the food industries, seemed
unimpressed. She replied that Pennsylvania is only seventh among the 50
states in rum consumption. Still, she said, she'd like Cuban products to
be on Pennsylvania's list of more than 100 rum labels.
When Mr. Gonzalez said the rum is aged in American oak barrels, Rep.
Mark Mustio, R-North Fayette, asked where they got them.
American barrels "come every year to Cuba and we don't know how," Mr.
Gonzalez said slyly.
Mr. Scarnati, whose sprawling district in the state's northwestern tier
has a battered timber industry, said he'd love to have a new trading
partner for Pennsylvania oak.
"We'll all go home and be ambassadors for Cuba and encourage our
government to end this unjust embargo," Rep. Adam Harris, R-Juniata
County and chair of the House Liquor Committee, said.
After samples of rum were offered and swallowed,Ms. Velazquez predicted
that Cubans would defeat the visiting Americans in the next afternoon's
boxing tournament in Pinar del Rio. "Our boxers will have rum in their
blood," she said and, sure enough, the Cubans took six of the nine bouts.
Thursday morning, Feb. 23, Matanzas Province Government Building, Matanzas
"Our eyes continue to be opened," Mr. McIlhinney told provincial
leaders. "We wonder out loud why we are continuing with this boycott
when the threat to the U.S. ended a long time ago."
Mr. Scarnati said Tuesday it's pretty clear the embargo has devastated
Cuba but has done nothing to help the U.S. He'll have to gauge whether
there's an appetite in Harrisburg for a legislative resolution to ask
Congress to end the embargo proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in
John Nichols, a Penn State professor emeritus of communications who has
been making trips to Cuba for 40 years, said before anyone even got on
the plane, "Things work slowly in Cuba. Progress has to be built over a
number of years through a lot of personal relationships."
If Pennsylvania does get Cuban rum into the state stores, it will be
from a scouting mission that used no taxpayer money. All seven
legislators, four Republicans and three Democrats, used either personal
or campaign money to pay for their trips, they said in individual
interviews. Two LCB board members, Mike Negra and Michael Newsome, each
used $4,600 from the State Stores Fund to cover expenses. That comes
from liquor sales and is commonly used for buying trips.
Neither the rum nor any domestic monopoly on its sales would last long
if Pennsylvania gets Cuban rum first. Seventeen states control wholesale
spirits. If Pennsylvania's constitutional argument prevails, Mr.
McIlhinney expects the entire embargo to be broken.
"I'm not trying actually to be bootlegger," he said. "I would like the
question raised and settled.''
Brian O'Neill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1947 or on Twitter
Source: Pennsylvanians make a rum run to Cuba | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2017/03/05/Pennsylvanians-make-a-rum-run-to-Cuba/stories/201703050065 Continue reading
(EFE).- Cien días después de su muerte y aunque Cuba ha limitado por ley el uso de su nombre e imagen, la figura de Fidel Castro está más presente que nunca en la Isla, donde el fervor hacia el exmandatario comienza a cobrar proporciones mesiánicas que llegan incluso hasta la comparación con Jesucristo.
Desde el fallecimiento del líder de la Revolución cubana el pasado 25 de noviembre a los 90 años, no hay actividad, congreso o celebración en Cuba que no incluya un homenaje a Castro en su programa, mientras los medios de comunicación estatales también le dedican buena parte de su espacio.
Un buen ejemplo de esta situación fue la reciente Feria del Libro de La Habana, el evento cultural más importante del año en la Isla.
La cita estaba dedicada a Canadá y sus autores, pero los actos y presentaciones de numerosos títulos en torno a la figura de Castro eclipsaron al país invitado.
El panorama contrasta con la última voluntad del exgobernante, tornada en ley en diciembre pasado por el Parlamento cubano: nada de monumentos ni edificios públicos o calles con su nombre, además de una rigurosa normativa que blindó el uso comercial de su figura.
En vida, el polémico comandante también se oponía al culto a la personalidad, aunque paradójicamente fuera su personal estilo de ejercer la autoridad lo que le valió ser considerado líder para unos y tirano para otros.[[QUOTE:En vida, el polémico comandante también se oponía al culto a la personalidad, aunque paradójicamente fuera su personal estilo de ejercer la autoridad lo que le valió ser considerado líder para unos y tirano para otros]]"La figura carismática y mesiánica de Fidel Castro fue indudablemente uno de los elementos más populares de la Revolución Cubana desde sus inicios en la década de 1950 hasta por lo menos la primera década del siglo XXI", señaló a Efe el director del Instituto de Investigaciones Cubanas de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida, Jorge Duany.
La clave está en si la Revolución cubana puede pervivir sin la presencia física del hombre que tan pasionalmente la encarnó.
Según Duany, "el culto y la lealtad al comandante en jefe se convirtieron en uno de los principales sostenes ideológicos de la Revolución, aunque su personalidad avasalladora también provocó un intenso disgusto y resentimiento entre sus adversarios políticos".
Los medios estatales, hasta ahora, han eludido la palabra muerte y la han sustituido por "desaparición física", un giro que recuerda a la forma en que Fidel Castro empleaba la expresión "inevitabilidad biológica".
El diario Juventud Rebelde, órgano oficial de la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas, fue más allá el 25 de diciembre, día de Navidad en que también se cumplía un mes del fallecimiento del líder cubano: "El tiempo no devora redentores", rezaba su portada, en un velado paralelismo con la figura de Jesucristo.
"Hombre, aprendimos a saberte eterno. Así como Olofi y Jesucristo, no hay un solo altar sin una luz por ti", reza a su vez el estribillo de la canción compuesta por Raúl Torres tras la muerte de Fidel Castro, una tonada que resonó sin cesar durante los nueve días de luto nacional decretados en Cuba.
Otra nueva constante es la asimilación del expresidente con el prócer independentista José Martí, padre de la patria y junto a cuya tumba en Santiago fue enterrado Castro.
Para el opositor moderado Manuel Cuesta Morúa, lo que ocurre "parece ser algo contra el testamento del Fidel Castro".[[QUOTE:Los medios estatales, hasta ahora, han eludido la palabra muerte y la han sustituido por "desaparición física", un giro que recuerda a la forma en que Fidel Castro empleaba la expresión "inevitabilidad biológica"]]"Parece que en sus últimas voluntades no hablaba de los medios de comunicación, donde su presencia es constante. Es una brecha que han utilizado (las autoridades de la Isla), pero creo que eso responde a la capacidad de olvido de la sociedad cubana", reflexiona el portavoz de la iniciativa democrática "Otro 18", que aboga por elecciones libres el próximo año.
La cúpula del país busca, a su juicio, perpetuar el mensaje de "no se olviden de la huella de Fidel Castro" en una sociedad que "ha venido dando una respuesta clara y clave en esa dirección, muy intuitiva, de decir que un país no debe tener un apellido".
Transmitir ese mensaje a las nuevas generaciones supone un reto especialmente complicado; para una inmensa mayoría de los jóvenes cubanos, el barbudo comandante es más una figura lejana que un referente ideológico.
En un estudio reciente sobre adolescentes cubanos publicado por Juventud Rebelde, ningún encuestado mencionó a Castro entre sus personas más admiradas.
"La encuesta parece confirmar un desgaste de la figura de Fidel entre las generaciones más jóvenes de cubanos nacidos y criados después de la Revolución" a pesar de "los esfuerzos gubernamentales por mantener su memoria como héroe indiscutible de la Cuba postrevolucionaria", concluye Duany.
El abastecimiento irregular, incluso el total desabastecimiento de algunos productos durante temporadas largas es común en las tiendas que venden en CUC. Sin embargo, el que sufren los mercados habaneros en estos primeros meses de 2017 alarma a la población como si fuera algo nuevo.
"Es que nunca antes habían faltado tantos productos juntos y por tanto tiempo", explica Milagros, una trabajadora de oficina que en su horario de almuerzo acostumbra recorrer tiendas en el Vedado.Continue reading
Los extranjeros que buscan empleos temporales en firmas de tecnología estadounidenses tendrán que someterse a un procedimiento más prolongado para recibir sus visados, después de que el Gobierno del presidente Donald Trump anunciara la suspensión provisional de la vía rápida para los permisos H-1B, informa Reuters.
Los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos (USCIS, por sus siglas en inglés) dijeron el viernes que a partir del 3 de abril suspenderán "el procedimiento premium" por hasta seis meses.Continue reading