El Gobierno ha aumentado "las prohibiciones, topes de precios, confiscaciones de mercancías y equipos, regulaciones" contra los transportistas privados o boteros de La Habana, los bicitaxistas y los vendedores ambulantes de productos agrícolas ("carretilleros"), denunció en un informe Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 7 March 2017 — The days of the anachronistic "process
of rendering accounts" are approaching. This is period known as the
genuine exercise of socialist democracy because they are neighborhood
meetings in which the people and the leadership (at the base) exchange
opinions about the main problems that afflict each community, and it is
odd that today, although the circus rounds have not yet begun, Cuban
leaders, as if they were master seers, already have on the table an
eight page document issued by the department charged with compiling
popular opinion, which for more than a month have included the
approaches that the voters will take in each one of the assemblies.
An irony that, with a capital "I", escapes any expression of the logic
and respect of the citizenry. Since the end of January the Cuban
government knows that for the coming months — April and May — the voters
will express their dissatisfaction with the water supply, the sewers in
the streets, the failures in communications and public transport, social
security, the retirement age, the indiscipline on the roads, the
occupation and powers of their elected delgate, the need to separate
some functions that today belong to the state, the irregularity of trash
collection and repair of the roads and principle arterials.
We will have to wait. Certainly, no one will talk about individual
rights nor civil liberties. It seems that to govern is to assume
contrdictions. It is a vulgar script for a discordant dramaturgy where
fiction predominated. It is ridiculous to accept that, for example, in
terms of health, in each locality, throughout the island, the assembled
citizens will feel the "spontaneous" need to express opinions only on
how to reduce teen pregnancy, and to strengthen control over pregnant
women who go into maternity homes.
The most striking feature of this document is the prediction it makes
about a group of citizens who, voluntarily, will express concern about
the issue of domestic violence and, in particular, the phenomenon that
doesn't appear in the current penal code as a criminal figure and that
begins to gain space as antisocial conduct. Cases of Cuban fathers who
don't conform to the role of the divorced, and kidnap their kids to hurt
their former wives.
It is not divination, it is simple state inefficiency very eary to
predict because yesterday's problems were never solved and are the same
ones that will be there tomorrow.
Almost all of the deputies to the Peoples Power Assembly session, be
they national, provincial or municipal, are fed up and exceedingly
apathetic, along with the compulsion, attend to kill time and eat the
snacks; listen to the pre-prepared program, vote in favor of everything
and reaffirm their commitment with something that they neither
understand no care about.
Cubans who want to debate and express opinions, suggestions and demands;
but they know well that in Cuba, the Peoples Power is the power of an
Source: The Useless Exercise of Rendering Accounts in Cuba / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-useless-exercise-of-rendering-accounts-in-cuba-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Regina Coyula, 17 February 2017 — The long laissez faire of the
government with the "if you behave well, I look the other way" has given
birth to a generation (just one?) of the cheerfully shameless, known
generically as "fighters." The nice denomination that began by being
applied a few, no longer has color, sex or occupation. The common
denominator is a very short wage for very long prices. Yes, those same
people who cried in front of a photo with flowers* not yet three months ago.
Poles as distant as commerce and culture converge on this news that can
only be half-confirmed because the official press never covers it
without prior permission, and the friends, family, or co-workers of the
enthroned acquired long ago the Pavlovian reflex of "not getting
involved in things."
The first of the cases, is in the Puentes Grandes Shopping Center, not
yet three years from its opening and it already seems like a place in
decline. There is an internet navigation room equipped on its opening
with five computers and air conditioning. Something happened there that
we have already become accustomed to. The PCs didn't always work, the
air conditioning didn't either. In the room itself there was a counter
with electronic devices such as USB memories, keyboards, headphones and
the like, which was a point of sale for ETECSA, the Cuban
Telecommunications Company that runs the place and maintains the
monopoly of communications and as such keeps its users in a state
between dissatisfaction and disgust.
And I speak about this in the past because no one can tell me if it will
ever operate again; just very hastily in the parking lot an employee
with a corporate image in a uniform one size smaller than necessary,
acrylic nails, keratin-strengthened hair, and black-lace leggings,
without raising her eyebrows or her voice, told me there had been a
"tremendous explosion." An informal taxi-driver on the hunt for a home
refrigerator, was the one who told me that she was very pleased to be
selling articles privately, much more cheaply than in the store.
It's not just the stores. I remember, many remember, some fifteen or
twenty years ago, the scandal in the International Relations Department
of the Ministry of Culture, where artistic delegations were assembled
without artists for the modest price of 500 CUC. Now it was the turn of
the Council of Scenic Arts, and the information came from Colombia,
Mexico or Central America with all the migratory connections, where some
of the vigorous claimants of rights overseas, both university professors
and lowlifes, learned to act although they never made it on stage. They
demanded a red passport, that is an official one, authorized by the
aforementioned Council that is supposed to authorize the travel of
actors and theater groups.
Before, the same or similar matters had been in Heritage and Cultural
Welfare and because of something missing in the works of art and some
surplus in the construction works, appears to have been the reason for
the exit through the back door of the previous Minister of Culture.
Even an octogenarian revolutionary fighter had amassed a modest fortune
for the future, the future that was supposed to belong entirely to
socialism. Barely two months after an anodyne article in the '90s by
Fidel Castro in the already anodyne newspaper Granma.
Nothing astonished Cubans, and from time to time we notice that
corruption accompanies us wherever we go. The employee with the
corporate image and the cultural officials as I already said, share the
salary as a symbol. In the other case, I don't know about you, but to me
to the affair of the octogenarian fighter (for the uninformed his name
is Héctor Rodríguez Llompart), tells me something about how things go
among "the historicals" — as the original leaders and fighters of the
Revolution call themselves.
*Translator's note: A reference to Fidel Castro's death
Translated by Jim
Source: Embezzlement Today / Regina Coyula – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/embezzlement-today-regina-coyula/ Continue reading
Fernando Damaso, 9 March 2017 — The Electric Union (UNE), the Cuban
State Electric Company, plans blackouts for repairs, maintenance and
tree pruning that affect its aerial networks. Generally, the extend from
8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon, directly affecting
citizens in their homes, and the production of state and private services.
The extended times planned, generally don't correspond to the work done;
it's common to see some workers working and the rest wasting time,
sitting around in the streets and sidewalks, paying homage to
unproductivity or, as a foreign friend ingeniously told me one day,
"Those who don't work, are most of them, and they honor those who do
work, which are the few."
Sometimes the repairs, due to their poor quality, have to be repeated.
On my block, one entire day, they spent time replacing the wires and, a
month later, came back and did it all again. I questioned the brigade
chief about it, and answered that the previous ones weren't adequate. A
similar situation is frequently repeated. It seems that UNE legalizes
the unproductivity and the irresponsibility.
If they had to compensate those affected for all the affects generated
by these "planned blackouts," I'm convinced that they would be much more
careful and productive.
Perhaps they should take account of the experience of the former and
antiquated Cuban Electricity Company which, with much less sophisticated
resources, undertook all these works without affecting the consumers and
with little impact.
The difference is that the previous company was an efficient capitalist
monopoly and UNE is an inefficient socialist monopoly.
Source: Very Little Unites Us / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/very-little-unites-us-fernando-dmaso/ Continue reading
Fuerzas del régimen robaron este pasado 8 de marzo a la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) más de mil libras de alimentos: 200 libras de arroz, 150 libras de granos, 100 de azúcar, 20 de leche en polvo, 28 de sal, 40 de vegetales, 230 de carne de cerdo, 60 de pollo, 5 de pescado y 25 de harina blanca. Además de 20 litros de aceite y 20 de yogurt, junto a 30 paquetes de fideos.Continue reading
El personal de la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) este viernes ingresó a la cárcel del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) para dialogar con los cubanos en huelga de hambre.
Los cubanos, que han formado el Grupo Camagüey, se declararon en huelga de hambre y acordaron suturarse los labios.Continue reading
As icy U.S.-Cuba relations begin to thaw, Cuba's knowledge economy is
waking up. But it's a delicate process
Like many Cubans, Ubaldo Huerta left his homeland during a time of deep
economic crisis following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989,
which decimated Cuba's economy and sent tens of thousands of Cubans
looking for better opportunities abroad. The 47-year-old electrical
engineer quickly found his way to Silicon Valley, where he worked as a
software developer for numerous startups and gained his U.S.
citizenship. Later he relocated to Barcelona, founded a Craigslist-like
online classified website and sold his venture to eBay in 2005.
But despite these accomplishments, Huerta never lost sight of his
homeland. He began splitting his time between Spain and Cuba and three
years ago co-founded Fonoma.com, a small startup that enables people
outside of Cuba to make payments to prepaid cell phone and WiFi accounts
used by friends and family in Cuba. The business employs 15 people,
including seven in Havana.
"I want to be in Cuba," Huerta told Salon. "I cannot find better
developers than the ones that I've found here. I used to work in Silicon
Valley so I don't really need the money. I'm doing this because it makes
economic sense, and it's fun."
Cuba is in a better economic position today than it was when Huerta left
25 years ago. Huerta said that he amount of cell phone and WiFi account
deposits Fonoma processes grew by 40 percent last year amid Cuba's
nascent WiFi revolution. Today, the startup handles hundreds of
thousands of dollars' worth of transactions, half of them from the
United States — an online venture that would have been unheard of a
Huerta isn't alone. Last year, computer engineer Bernardo Romero
González came up with an idea to develop an online ordering system that
allows people outside of Cuba to pay for gifts purchased from local
Cuban businesses to be delivered to friends and relatives on the island.
"This platform helps other entrepreneurs in Cuba to grow their
market," Romero told Salon. "Businesses in Cuba are limited to their
town or city because they don't have access to e-commerce. This creates
the financial platform that allows them to put their products on the
Expected to go live before the end of the year, Cubazon will process
credit-card payments outside of Cuba and then wire money through the
same network used by Cubans abroad to send money to relatives back home
to pay the local Cuban business, such as a flower shop or bakery, to
make and deliver the gift. This system legally circumvents current U.S.
Treasury Department restrictions on payment processing in Cuba. Romero
expects 80 percent of his business to come from consumers in the United
Romero was one of 10 winners of last year's 10x10kCuba, a contest
sponsored by U.S. groups promoting Cuban tech innovation that includes
the University of Stanford's School of Engineering. The 33-year-old
programmer recently completed an intense two-week program at Colorado's
Boom Town Accelerator, a Boulder-based tech innovation incubator
participating in the program.
Planting seeds for success
Since Cuba and the United States began the process of thawing their icy
Cold War-era relations, highly educated Cubans like Huerta and Romero
have become two of a small number of tech-industry pioneers cautiously
planting their stakes on their country's future relations with the
United States. Former U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to promote
private-sector engagement, along with a series of reforms in Cuba that
allows small businesses to operate, has made it easier for Cuba's
tech-startup economy, though many challenges still remain.
Proponents of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba argue that
promoting the tech industry in Cuba would unlock a lot of unused
potential, and help prevent Cuba's young tech talent from leaving the
island. Cuba needs these innovators at home to help figure out a way to
support its increasingly aging population.
Tres Mares Group, a Miami-based private equity investment firm that
follows business activity in Cuba, estimates that about 3,000 Cubans
currently work as freelancers in the local knowledge economy — many of
them doing work for companies in Canada and Spain — and as many as
50,000 qualified university-trained computer science engineers are
sitting on the bench, unable to fully utilize their skills. Most of
these computer science degree holders are graduates of the University
Campus José Antonio Echeverría (CUJAE by its Spanish acronym) or the
Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas, which is often compared to MIT.
On the U.S. side, companies are also starting to pay more attention to
the potential pool of Cuban talent.
"There are at least a half dozen firms [in the U.S.] who are working
with Cuban coders and programmers already," James Williams, president of
Engage Cuba, a Washington D.C. nonprofit coalition of private companies
working to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations, told Salon. "The challenge is
that since we're in this new period, they're not promoting these
activities yet and keeping them quiet until this becomes more normalized
and routine. But it's something that's already happening."
Indeed, there is still a lot to be done, and a lot that can be undone,
which is why many stakeholders on both sides of the Florida Straits are
being cautious about promoting their activities.
On the Cuban side, many hardliners in Cuba's Communist government are
suspicious of U.S. efforts to promote greater Internet access,
suspicions that were confirmed in 2014 when reports emerged that the
U.S. Agency for International Development was secretly funding a project
that used social media to try to foment an Arab Spring-like revolution
in Cuba. Though the failed project ended in 2012, whispers among people
who declined to speak to Salon on the record because of the sensitivity
of the issue claim similar efforts persist through other web-based front
organizations backed by the U.S. government.
On the U.S. side is an 800-pound gorilla in the White House known as
President Donald Trump. On the campaign trail Trump criticized Obama's
Cuba policy and promised to terminate his predecessor's efforts to
normalize relations with Cuba. The president also installed Mauricio
Claver-Carone, an active supporter of the 56-year-old U.S. embargo
against Cuba, to his transition team. Congress, too, is still reticent
to remove the embargo that would be perceived to empower Cuba's
authoritarian regime with a history of human rights violations — despite
the glaring fact that Congress accepts trade and diplomatic ties with
other authoritarian governments like China and Saudi Arabia. Another
concern among proponents of closer U.S.-Cuba trade ties is the fact the
China and Cuba trade ties are growing.
Many, including Huerta and Romero, are watching to see the direction the
president will take, and they're hoping that his business-focused
disposition will encourage him to avoid disrupting efforts to promote
Romero said he hopes that at worst Trump doesn't upend efforts begun by
Obama three years ago to help him and other Cubans grow a local tech
industry. At best he said he would like to see better access to U.S.
banking services and to be able to market his apps on sites like the
"After December 2014, when closer relations began between both
countries, I had the opportunity to come to the United States to make
connections and find people to help me to develop my ideas," he said. "I
think that the United States is naturally the country that should do
this work with Cuba."
Source: Cuba's nascent tech industry is growing fast - Salon.com -
http://www.salon.com/2017/03/11/cubas-nascent-tech-industry-is-growing-fast/ Continue reading