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Daily Archives: June 2, 2017

La marcha convocada por estudiantes universitarios se desarrolló este viernes sin contratiempos en Caracas y arribó a su destino en la sede del canal estatal VTV donde un grupo de manifestantes fue recibido por el ministro de Comunicación e Información, Ernesto Villegas, reporta EFE.

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La empresa Adidas eligió los diseños de 20 cubanos para crear sus zapatillas con un genuino street style cubano.

La multinacional alemana, según informa Vistar (publicación especializada en farándula), presentó el proyecto este jueves en la Fábrica de Arte Cubano en La Habana.

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… taking wedding engagement photos in Havana. Jose Mallea's campaign … having a great time in Cuba," the video begins. … other place in the country, Havana wedding engagement photos would probably … 116 leans Republican, and older Cuban exiles vote reliably in local … Continue reading
… year for cigar production in Cuba. That might not worry American … Cuban journalist who writes about the economy in Havana, worries that younger Cubans … with Cuban cigar company Habanos speaking at a cigar expo in Havana … the famous Cuban cigars. On the upper floor of a Havana cigar … Continue reading

Cocineros y sumilleres de España, Estados Unidos, México, Perú y República Dominicana inspirarán y actualizarán a sus pares cubanos sobre las últimas tendencias gastronómicas en un seminario, del 7 al 9 de junio en La Habana, que busca promover una Cuba "exótica y apetitosa".

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La Internacional Demócrata de Centro (IDC) reclamó al régimen cubano que termine la represión contra los activistas prodemocráticos en la Isla y que deje al pueblo ejercer el sufragio para que cuanto antes se realicen "elecciones libres, justas y plurales".

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… fans to notice the standout Cuban fighter. Barthelemy’s 25-0 record … unfair reputation Cuban boxers have of being dull fighters. Cuba’s biggest … pounds, could be the first Cuban to win titles in three … want to be the first Cuban to achieve that. I’ve … Continue reading
El bipartidismo luce como un modelo agotado en estos tiempos Continue reading
Cruise lines and airlines stand to lose $3.5 billion and more than 10,000 jobs over the course of President Donald Trump’s four-year term if the administration fully rolls back all … Click to Continue » Continue reading

(EFE).- Cocineros y sumilleres de España, Estados Unidos, México, Perú y República Dominicana inspirarán y actualizarán a sus pares cubanos sobre las últimas tendencias gastronómicas en un seminario, del 7 al 9 de junio en La Habana, que busca promover una Cuba "exótica y apetitosa".

Entre los más de 300 participantes en el evento, organizado por el grupo español Excelencias, destacan la mexicana Elena Reygadas, mejor chef femenina de Latinoamérica en 2014; la cocinera española Charo Val, el sumiller Javier Gila y el barista Alberto Pizarro.

Viajarán también esta capital Cristina Vallarino, la catadora de vinos más reconocida de Perú, quien dirigirá el primer maridaje del tradicional pisco peruano con puros habanos; y el prestigioso chef Hiroyuki Terada, que utilizará productos autóctonos de la Isla para crear una interesante fusión con el sushi.

También asistirá el secretario general de la Academia Iberoamericana de Gastronomía, Alfonso Marín.

"La idea es trasmitir las últimas tendencias de la gastronomía mundial al tiempo que se hablará muy en serio del rescate y el uso del rico patrimonio culinario que tenemos en Cuba", dijo hoy a la prensa Patricia Cáceres, editora de la revista "Excelencias Gourmet" y presidenta del Comité Organizador del seminario.[[QUOTE:"La idea es trasmitir las últimas tendencias de la gastronomía mundial al tiempo que se hablará muy en serio del rescate y el uso del rico patrimonio culinario que tenemos en Cuba"]]Según Cáceres, la intención de esta séptima edición del evento es ofrecer asistencia sobre cómo resolver errores comunes en la gestión de un restaurante y rentabilizar un negocio utilizando nuevas tecnologías.

Agregó que además de promover el diálogo, buscan dar a conocer la labor de cocineros y restauradores cubanos en establecimientos estatales, hoteles y restaurantes privados o "paladares", de los que se conocerán varias experiencias de primera mano.

En los últimos años, tras aprobarse en Cuba algunas formas de trabajo autónomo, se han multiplicado los "paladares", que hoy suman unos 2.000 en toda la isla.

El programa de la cita, que tendrá lugar en el Hotel Meliá Cohiba, incluye clases magistrales, espectáculos de cocina, catas y una celebración por los 20 años de presencia del grupo Excelencias en Cuba.

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La directora de la Academia 1010 del movimiento opositor Somos+, Joanna Columbié, "fue deportada" este viernes hacia su provincia de residencia, Camagüey, desde la prisión de Vivac en La Habana, donde estaba detenida desde el pasado 26 de mayo, según informaron a DIARIO DE CUBA fuentes de la disidencia interna.

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En la Isla, donde el Gobierno antaño desaprobó la música de The Beatles, se realizó el jueves un concierto al aire libre en un parque de La Habana para celebrar los 50 años del lanzamiento del emblemático álbum Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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‘Banca Movil’ está aún en fase de prueba
… Airlines operating from gleaming new Havana offices and tens of thousands … on U.S. airlines to Havana, reserving private lodging through Airbnb … on travel to Cuba. The American pro-detente group Engage Cuba released a … conglomerate with deep military ties. Cuban-Americans have been particularly offended by … Continue reading
Las autoridades reconocen el descontrol del vector epidemiológico Continue reading

El semanario alemán Der Spiegel volvió a elegir una imagen anti-Trump del cubano Edel Rodríguez para su portada de este sábado 3 de junio.

Según compartió el diseñador en su cuenta de Twitter, en esta ocasión la imagen refleja al presidente de EEUU, Donald Trump, jugando al golf con el planeta Tierra en llamas.

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Vivir en una zona rural y necesitar medicamentos ‘es una agonía’, se quejan campesinos ELIECER PALMA PUPO | San Germán | 2 de Junio de 2017 – 17:31 CEST. “Vivir en una zona rural y padecer tres enfermedades, de ellas dos crónicas, es una agonía”, dice Zenaida Martínez Gil, residente en el barrio La Cuba, […] Continue reading
Carmelo Mesa-Lago: "The Cuban Government Panicked After Obama's Visit"

14ymedio, Maité Rico, Madrid, 1 June 12017 — Carmelo Mesa-Lago (born
Havana, 1934) has spent a good part of his life trying to open a breach
of good sense in the wall of absurdities with which that the Castro
regime has ended up plunging into bankruptcy a country that was, in the
1950s, the third most developed in Latin America after Argentina and
Uruguay.

A Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, he
has just presented in Madrid the only study on the private sector in
Cuba (Voices Of Change In The Cuban Non-State Sector, published by
Iberoamericana-Vervuert), based on interviews with 80 self-employed
individuals.

Armed with the best statistical data, this economist views with
perplexity how the economic reforms announced by Raúl Castro in 2010 are
being diluted ("the Government takes one step forward and four steps
back"), and how the country is losing the opportunity that was offered
to it last year by the reestablishment of bilateral relations with the
United States.

It was precisely Barack Obama's outstretched hand that sowed panic in
the Government, which fears that economic openness will lead to
political change. Now there is a brake on the reforms, there are no
investments, and the crisis in Venezuela, which replaced the USSR as
Cuba's economic supporter, has plunged the country into disaster.

Rico: Is Cuba entering a new "Special Period" [a euphemism to describe
the period of hardship that followed the fall of the USSR and the end of
aid to Cuba]?

Mesa-Lago: The situation is similar, but not so dramatic, because the
dependence on the Soviet Union was much greater than that on
Venezuela. That said, the trade volume with Venezuela has dropped
significantly (from 42% to 27% in 2015) and the supply of oil has
declined from 105,000 barrels a day to 55,000.

Cuba sold a part of that oil in the world market, and it was an
important source of income that has also fallen by half. And another
income that has fallen is the most important one: the sale of
professional services (doctors, nurses, teachers) [to foreign
countries], which went from 11 billion dollars in 2013 to 7 billion. In
2015, GDP growth was 4.4%. In 2016, it was minus 0.9%. Everything points
to a very strong crisis, but I do not think it reaches the level of the
Special Period.

Rico. At least, within this parasitic economy, tourism remains.

Mesa-Lago. There is a boom, for the first time they exceeded four
million tourists and took in about 4 billion dollars. The problem is
that this gross income has to be subtracted from the value of imports of
goods and supplies for tourists. Cuba has to import everything. And that
data is no longer published. So it's not 4 billion. It's less, but we do
not know how much.

Rico. Despite the announcement of the investment plan and Obama's trip,
foreign investment has not materialized and the Special Development
Zone in the Port of Mariel, the big Brazilian bet, is quite inactive.

Mesa-Lago. It is inexplicable. Cuba needs [new investments of] at least
$2.5 billion a year. Until last month there were some 450 proposals for
foreign investment, some of them already established in Cuba. And they
have only approved some twenty of them. According to their figures,
since the opening of the Port of Mariel Special Development Zone the
cumulative figure has not reached 2 billion dollars. Why do they do
this? It does not make sense to me.

Rico. But what can Cuba offer, beyond cheap labor? The system of
production is destroyed.

Mesa-Lago. The infrastructure is a disaster. And the workforce, which is
qualified, works extremely slowly. For the construction of the Manzana
hotel, Kempinski brought workers from India because they were more
productive. The problem is that the Cuban worker earns very little and
is paid in Cuban pesos (CUP), and has to buy most things in convertible
currency (CUC), and they can't support themselves. There is no
incentive, and it is a vicious cycle. Between 1989, the year before the
crisis, and 2015, the purchasing power of Cubans fell by more than 70%.

Rico. And when are they going to solve the problem of the dual-currency
system?

Mesa-Lago. Raul has announced it many times and two years ago made a
very complicated resolution, full of equations. But nothing
happened. The problem is that inflation will be about 12% this year, it
is very high. And the unification of the currency, by itself, generates
inflation. So I find it difficult to see them doing it in the short
term. In addition, they must first do it in the state sector, and there
will be companies that will cease to be sustainable, and then comes the
population. It's going to be a longer process than in Vietnam and
probably in China.

Rico. How many workers has the state fired since the reforms began?

Mesa-Lago. They announced that between 2010 and 2015 they were going to
lay off 1.8 million unnecessary workers, but in the end it was half a
million. The private sector did not advance as rapidly as needed to
create all those jobs, and there would have been a social explosion.

Rico. But why does private activity grow so slowly?

Mesa-Lago. Because of all the obstacles. It is as if the right hand
doesn't know what the left hand is doing. There are many activities that
the Government has closed down or rescinded [the permission for, after
initially granting licenses]: clothing sales, 3D movie theaters … now
they have begun to regulate prices for private taxis and on the sale of
homes, and to interfere in the free agricultural market. Taxation is
brutal. There are something like seven taxes. The Government punishes
those who succeed and who could help the State solve its problems. It is
not logical.…

Rico. And how do you explain it?

Mesa-Lago. The only explanation I have is that in Cuba there is no
unified leadership with a single opinion, but there is a group that
resists. Obama's visit had a very positive impact on the population, but
the government panicked. From there came a a paralysis. The most
hardline group, the most orthodox, came out stronger than ever.

Rico. Are the Armed Forces putting obstacles in the way?

Mesa-Lago. Yes, and the Party, but the Army is more important because it
has economic power. And it has like a reverse Midas touch. Everything it
touches it turns to garbage … Restaurants, hotels … It is impressive.

Rico. The self-employed people interviewed agree on their problems:
scarcity and lack of inputs, regulatory overspending, taxes, difficult
access to the internet …

Mesa-Lago. Yes, and in spite of the continuous obstruction of the State,
80% of them are satisfied with what they do (although not with what they
earn). And 93% made profits, and most reinvested them into their
business. That is extraordinary.

Rico. Will the team in power be able to make the transition?

Mesa-Lago. If Raúl Castro, in ten years, has not pushed the reforms, I
doubt that his successor can be more successful. Political logic
prevails over economic logic. And they fear losing control.

_____

Editorial Note: This article was previously published in the Spanish
newspaper El País and we reproduce it with authorization of the author.

Source: Carmelo Mesa-Lago: "The Cuban Government Panicked After Obama's
Visit" – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/carmelo-mesa-lago-the-cuban-government-panicked-after-obamas-visit/ Continue reading

La misión permanente del Gobierno cubano ante la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra mintió en un documento que dirigió al Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos a propósito de un requerimiento del organismo internacional relacionado con el Centro de Capacitación Legal Cubalex.

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… providing a historical soundtrack of Cuba from the 1800s to modern … talented Cuban musicians playing Cuban music in Los Angeles," says Cuban-American promoter … culture, Mexican music and Cuban culture and Cuban music." That connection … Continue reading
Cuba: More Castroism but Without the Castros / Iván García

Iván García, 17 May 2017 — In front of an old mansion on 17th Street in
Vedado that now serves as the headquarters of the Union of Writers and
Artists, there is a poster showing hundreds of men dressed in battle
fatigues and lined up in military formation. A resounding verdict in two
rows of black letters reads, "Cuba Post-Castro."

The political propaganda machine is operating at full steam. On the
exterior walls of schools, factories, public buildings and produce
markets it is common to see "Fidel Castro's Concept of Revolution" and
the oft-repeated slogan "I am Fidel."

Nine months and three weeks before Raúl Castro will presumably cede
power, no one has any idea what protocols to follow for effecting a
transfer to a new leader.

As part of her official duties Mariela Castro Espín, the dictator's
daughter, has granted a couple of interviews to the international press,
reiterating that her father intends to resign from office. She claims
not to know who will succeed him and said he has no intention of being
further involved in politics.

Authoritarian governments control the flow of news so, to understand
them, you have to read between the lines. A reader must be an empirical
cryptographer, always on the lookout for a key piece data or a clue.

Although the tedious national press corps writes in Spanish, its
soporific articles are so saturated with official jargon and stale
rhetoric from the Cold War era that reading them is like deciphering a
Chinese riddle.

In spite of being surrounded by a dense smoke screen of secrets and
mysteries, it is still possible to surmise that — given the extent of
his travels throughout the island and the extensive press coverage they
have received — Miguel Díaz-Canel, one of the country's two
vice-presidents, is the man Raúl Castro has chosen to control the fate
of a Cuba facing a new, untested version of Castroism, one without a
Castro at the helm.

Tall and grey-haired, Díaz-Canel, has the look of a fading movie star.
Women like him for his resemblance to Richard Gere. Those who know him
say that he can be relaxed and witty. When he was the first secretary of
the communist party in Villa Clara during the Special Period, he could
be seen cycling through the streets of the city.

Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez was born on April 20, 1960, at his
family's farm in the village of Falcón, outside Placetas, in Villa Clara
province. Aida, his mother, was a school teacher, and his father Miguel
was a mechanical plant worker in Santa Clara. In 2012, the newspaper La
Nueva España reported with pride that Díaz-Canel was the great-grandson
of Ramón Díaz-Canel, a Spaniard from Asturias who emigrated to Cuba in
the mid-nineteenth century.

For many of his student years he was on scholarship, first at Campo
Primero de Mayo high school and later at Campo Jesus Menéndez college
preparatory school, both in Santa Clara. In 1982 he graduated with a
degree in electronic engineering from Central University of Las Villas.
He began his professional career as an officer in an air defense unit in
the Revolutionary Armed Forces, a post he retained until April 1985.
After leaving the military, he became a professor at his alma mater in
Las Villas. After serving in an internationalist mission to Nicaragua in
1989, he worked as a "professional staffer" in the Union of Young
Communists.

In 1994 he was elected first party secretary in Villa Clara. Nine years
later he was named party leader in Holguín, a more challenging province
than Villa Clara. According to local residents, his work in Holguín
cannot be described as significant. That did not prevent Raúl Castro
from promoting him to membership in the party politburo. At the
time, Raúl stated: "He has a strong collective work ethic and high
expectations of the subordinates. He leads by example through his desire
to better himself every day and has demonstrated a solid ideological
commitment."

Raúl Castro is something of mentor to Diaz-Canel. In May 2009 he
summoned him to Havana and appointed him Minister of Higher Education.
In March 2012, he quit that post and replaced José Ramón Fernández as
vice-president of the Council of Ministers in charge of education,
science, culture and sport. On February 24, 2013, he was elected first
vice-president of both the Council of State and the Council of
Ministers, replacing José Ramón Machado Ventura, a party stalwart who
gave up his position "in order to promote the new generation."

Perhaps because he comes from a small village – the population of Falcón
is only six thousand — those who know him describe him as educated and
unassuming, someone who knows how to listen, though some believe he does
not have enough charisma to be president of the republic. But at least
in photos and videos he looks different from that coterie of rancid
officials who never smile at public appearances. Unlike former
high-level officials of roughly the same age such as Carlos Lage,
Roberto Robaina and Felipe Pérez Roque, Díaz-Canal always stayed out of
the media spotlight, preferring more intricate and discreet pathways.
"He is not one of the newly rich or a makeshift candidate," said Raul
Castro in 2013.

He has two children from his previous marriage. His current wife is Lis
Cuesta, a college professor whom he met while living in Holguín. A
cultural affairs source in Santa Clara recalls, "He was the one who gave
permission to El Mejunje nightclub to present shows featuring
homosexuals and transvestites and to sponsor rock concerts He also
allowed the provincial radio station to broadcast programming that was
quite critical of state institutions." In spite of such cultural
support, he is a sports fan, one who is especially fond of basketball.

Díaz-Canel does not appear to be an eloquent statesman or a great
orator. His speaking style is flat, as though he were exhausted. He does
not engage in soaring rhetoric but neither is he given to
anti-imperialist diatribes. As one official journalist noted, "he does
not just regurgitate the party line like Machado Ventura.*" The
journalist describes a event sponsored by the Union of Journalists at
which Díaz-Canel was present. His statements gave some attendees cause
for hope because "he did not repeat the usual litany about the need to
improve the press. But after the applause died down, things went back to
normal. The impression I have is that he is content to remain in
crouching position, awaiting his turn. He is a cross between Cantinflas
and Forrest Gump."

As an official at the municipal headquarters of the communist party
observes, "three or four candidates will be chosen at the plenary
session of the National Assembly in December. Of those, one will be
elected president." According to this official, expectations are that
the new president will govern the nation for the next five years.

"It seems like a bad joke," notes a party member familiar with internal
party dynamics. "Everyone knows the list of candidates is dictated from
above and the ones who are chosen belong to Cuba's only political party."

Some dissidents and exiles believe that at the last minute Raul Castro
will find a pretext, either a matter of national security or the crisis
in Venezuela, to remain in office for another five years.

Tomás Regalado, the mayor of Miami, told the Spanish newspaper El País
that he had bet money with a friend that Castro II would remain in
power. A retired historian thinks otherwise: "That is not a conclusion
the general shares. Raul is at the end of his rope. He is tired of
power. And quite simply, if you want to undo the Gordian knot that is
the embargo, you cannot have anyone with the name Castro in a governing
role. I believe that Raúl will remain behind the scenes, calling the
shots. On June 3 he will be eighty-six-years old and anyone that age
could kick the bucket at any time."

Among Afro-Cubans, the passing of the presidential baton does not arouse
much interest. "The game plan will be the same. The communist party is
the only game in town. I don't think there will be any major changes. In
terms of the economy, perhaps they will do away with the double currency
and maybe there will be more cooperatives in the state service sector.
But the script will not change much," says the employee of a Havana
nightclub.

One political science graduate is optimistic and hopes the presidential
handover provides some surprises. "It's a different generation so, of
course, they are going to think differently. Don't forget what happened
under Gorbachev in the former USSR. Or under Balaguer, Trujillo's
vice-president, in the Dominican Republic. Both began the path towards
democracy. Just as in Cuba today, people didn't necessarily say what
they meant. The gap is less than one imagines and a reformer could emerge."

Arousing Cubans' interest in national politics will require creativity.
After almost sixty years of stasis, people move by force of inertia.
Most Cubans respond to the government's summons like automatons. And
although they do not express their true feelings publicly, in private
they confess to pessimism and frustration. They do not believe that a
new litter of leaders is capable of building an efficient and prosperous
political, economic and social system.

A large segment of the population is tired of everything and everyone.
They have no faith in Castro, Díaz-Canel or anyone else who might happen
to come along. Changing the current state of public opinion will require
daring strategies as well as new and convincing promises. Yet all the
government is offering is more Castroism. But without the Castros.

*José Ramón Machado Ventura, First Vice-President and Second Secretary
of the Culban Communist Party.

Source: Cuba: More Castroism but Without the Castros / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-more-castroism-but-without-the-castros-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Havana: Clandestine Business Deals, Poverty and Glamor / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 26 April 2017 — When night falls, it's not advisable to
walk through certain neighborhoods in Havana. Like the one from El
Curita Park, on Reina and Galiano, up to the corner of Monte and Cienfuegos.

In addition to the disagreeable odor from the sewer water running
through the streets, you'll see propped-up buildings, beggars and drunks
hanging out in the doorways, and poor cheap whores on the hunt for the
incautious.

More than 10,000 compatriots of the eastern provinces who flee poverty
reside illegally in Havana. In the case of Zenaida, a woman from
Santiago, who with a bag full of cones of peanuts and chickpeas for sale
ambles along toward a rickety room in a rooming house on O'Reilly
Street, which she rents.

There, under the light of an incandescent bulb, she loads several pails
of water and waits her turn to bathe in one of the three shared
bathrooms of the tenement. After reheating her meal, she turns on the
old Chinese television and hopes for the arrival of her 22-year-old son,
who makes a living by pedaling 12 hours in a bicitaxi.

"This is what it's like to live in poverty: eat badly and make a few
pesos to survive in the lion's den. Yes, because in this zone of Havana
you have to be a lynx if you want to make a little money," says Zenaida,
seated in an iron chair.

In spite of everything, she doesn't complain. "In Santiago de Cuba we
were worse off. The water supply on the outskirts of the city comes
every 40 days, and the money just goes. At least in the capital,
although we live like animals, you can make enough money to eat and send
detergent and clothing to relatives in Oriente. If I were younger, I
would be hooking like some women in the building. But now I can't do
that kind of thing," confesses Zenaida.

The old part of the city is a network of narrow alleyways with broken
asphalt and deteriorated buildings where Cubans live who know their way
around the streets.

Here illegalities are not hidden. Any neighbor knows who sells imported
marijuana, cocaine delivered from a boat on the coast or who rents half
an hour in a room in his house for convertible pesos, so that a client
can have a toss in the hay with a prostitute who charges in the national
money.

Just in front of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, formerly Manzana de
Gómez, which is close to being inaugurated, several blue buses with
large windows in Parque Central pick up more than 100 workers from India
who are putting the final touches on the first five-star plus hotel in Cuba.

Seated on a marble bench in front of the Kempinski Hotel, José Alberto
wonders, "Why are they paying an Indian, 500 dollars a month and Cuban
workers, adding up pesos and hard currency, don't even get 60 dollars?"
And he answers himself: "These people (the Regime) don't respect us.
Havana now is the same as during the epoch of Batista. Luxury hotels are
for the foreigners, surrounded by poverty, whores and guys who have to
clean to earn four pesos. The worst is that there's no end to this."

José Alberto is a perfect wildcard. He gets money from the illegal Cuban
lottery, parks cars for a home restaurant in the area and fills the
cistern with water for the "retired guys in the neighborhood."

Under the protection of night and avoiding the black-uniformed police
with their German Shepherds who patrol the streets at this time, José
Alberto asks for money from passing tourists. "The ones from the State
(United States) are the most generous, and the Japanese, if they like
you. Europeans are the most stingy."

Old Havana has two opposite faces, distinct levels of life and many ways
to earn money, outside the law or behind its back. In the areas restored
by the historian Eusebio Leal, with their cobbled streets, renovated
buildings, innumerable cafes, restaurants and hard currency shops, the
panorama is beautiful.

Two blocks up or down, the landscape is something else. At the entrance
to crowded quarters, shirtless men standing in the heat seem to be
waiting for a a miracle. Around them are screaming neighbors, Reggaeton
at full blast and kids playing soccer with torn tennis shoes and a
deflated balloon.

On calle Chacón, a few meters from the Museum of the Revolution, where a
garrison of young soldiers at the back of a patio guard the Granma yacht
and other relics and trophies of the delirious guerrilla saga of Fidel
Castro, there are three elegant bars where tourists calmly drink mojitos
and nibble on garlic shrimp.

Nearby, a group of boys, mainly black, sitting on the sidewalk pavement,
wait for the foreigners to leave the bars, restaurants or home
restaurants to ask them for money, chewing gum or pens.

The revolution of the humble, so promoted by the Castro brothers, today
is a slogan without meaning for the poor people of Havana.

Iván García

Note from Tania Quintero: The night photo of the Gran Hotel Manzana
Kempinski, the first with five-plus stars in Cuba, was taken by Iván
García. Up to this date, the hotel installations had not been officially
inaugurated, but after putting in shops and luxury boutiques on the
ground floor, with showcase windows on the street, every day hundreds of
people go to look at and even photograph the clothing and accessories
exhibited, with prices that are not within reach for the large majority
of the population. Already the first incident happened when they removed
the bust of the student leader, Julio Antonio Mella, which had been
installed in 1965, from the central patio with access to the public.

An installation artist held a silent protest with a sign that said
"Where is Mella?" Without using violence, the police took him away, put
him in a vehicle and drove him home. The hotel, constructed by
Kempinski, a Swiss company founded in 1897, occupies the space of the
old Manzana de Gómez, the first commercial center on the Island, located
on Neptuno, San Rafael, Zuleta and Monserrate streets, in the heart of
Havana.

Inaugurated in 1910, along its history the Manzana de Gómez housed law
offices, commercial businesses, restaurants and cafeterias, among other
facilities. The management of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski is
under Gaviota S.A., a Cuban tourist corporation administered by the
military.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Havana: Clandestine Business Deals, Poverty and Glamor / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/havana-clandestine-business-deals-poverty-and-glamor-ivn-garca/ Continue reading

14ymedio

La directora de la Academia 1010 y activista del Movimiento Somos+, Joanna Columbié, fue deportada este viernes desde el centro de detención Vivac en La Habana hacia la provincia de Camagüey, según informó a 14ymedio el dirigente de esta organización, Eliécer Ávila.

“Joanna llamó desde el Vivac para avisar que iba a ser conducida hacia Camagüey en un ómnibus, junto a otros detenidos”, agregó el opositor. “Alrededor de la guagua la policía ha montado un operativo que parece que está llevando a criminales peligrosos”, ironizó.

“Le han levantado un acta de advertencia por actividad subversiva y propaganda enemiga”, asegura agregó.

El delito de propaganda enemiga puede acarrear “una sanción de privación de libertad de uno a ocho años”, según el Código Penal. Se aplica a quienes confeccionen, distribuyan o posean “propaganda oral o escrita” que “incite contra el orden social, la solidaridad internacional o el Estado socialista”.[[QUOTE:El delito de propaganda enemiga puede acarrear “una sanción de privación de libertad de uno a ocho años”, según el Código Penal]]En el momento de su detención la opositora llevaba consigo varias discos compactos “con material sobre la Academia 1010”, detalla Ávila.

Columbié fue detenida hace una semana en el municipio Arroyo Naranjo por la Seguridad del Estado, justo dos días después de que se venciera su permiso de residencia transitoria en la capital.

La activista tiene su residencia permanente en el poblado de Céspedes, Camagüey, donde a inicios de este año fue víctima de un robo en su vivienda, sin que hasta el momento la policía haya capturado a los culpables.

El arresto y la deportación de Joanna Columbié se suman a una serie de acciones represivas contra Somos+ en los últimos meses. La expulsión de la Universidad de Las Villas de la estudiante de periodismo Karla Pérez (miembro del grupo independiente) y el allanamiento de la vivienda de Eliécer Ávila son algunas de las últimas acciones de la Seguridad del Estado contra este grupo opositor.


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Los Marlins de Miami crearon un fideicomiso para la madre y la pequeña hija del fallecido lanzador cubano José Fernández, reporta AP.

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Getting Dressed in Cuba / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 15 May 2017 — The plastic drawers holding garments for men
and women give off the usual scent of things that have have been in
storage for a long time. We are in a government-run store that sells
used clothing on the Calzada de Monte, a busy thoroughfare lined with
state-owned retail establishments, privately owned coffee shops and
people clandestinely selling cheap Chinese-made merchandise.

At the back of the store, three plastic drawers of second-hand clothing
lie scattered on the floor. A variety of pants and shirts hang from
racks flanked by two mirrors with blackened edges.

The place is stifling. Sweat runs down the faces of employees, who try
to relieve the heat by fanning themselves with covers of old magazines
and pieces of cardboard.

A shirt with a dirty collar and no label costs eighty pesos, almost four
dollars. It is to thrift shops and flee markets like these that people
with low-incomes — typically state workers paid in the local currency
and those who do not receive remittances from overseas — come to shop.

"All the used clothing here is imported. The Ministry of Domestic Trade
cleans them but then the customers dirty them. They're clothes that
people from other countries have sold or donated to thrift stores. This
lot came from Canada. There were better items for sale but they're
already gone. What's left over is the stuff nobody wants," says the manager.

Yamil, a thirty-four-year-old primary school custodian often buys
second-hand clothing. "My salary of 300 pesos (the equivalent of
thirteen dollars) doesn't go far. I would like to dress more fashionably
but my buying options are limited to used clothes. Occasionally, a
friend will give me pants or a shirt. And a relative living in the US
sends me cheap stuff, which I give to my kids," he says.

The biggest problem in Cuba today is putting food on the table. Not
everyone can afford breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maintaining a
high-quality diet consumes 80% of a typical family's income. Sometimes
more. Even if you have enough money, you cannot always find the foods
you want or need.

Dressing children is a huge headache. Old people, the biggest losers of
Raul Castro's timid economic reforms, also face struggles. Just ask
Eusebio, an octogenarian retiree who sells magazines on Calzada del Cerro.

"At least it's almost never cold here. Otherwise, we'd be a pile of
stiffs. Most of us wear clothes that are twenty or more years old. Those
with families overseas manage to do alright. So do people with children
who are snappy dressers or managers with foreign companies. But the rest
of us are out of luck. The worst is when shoes wear out. I use shoes
that my newspaper customers give me. If they didn't, I would be walking
around in flip-flops," says Eusebio.

A standard monthly salary of twenty-six dollars makes it impossible for
the average Cuban to buy clothes. Families with children who do not
receive overseas remittances have to hope for a miracle, especially if
they have more than one child.

"Buying clothes and shoes is a nightmare," says Daniel, a civil
engineer. "Society is divided into those who have options and those who
don't. Students whose parents are well-off wear brand label shoes to
school. Everyone else has to make-do with low-quality shoes. Other kids
ridicule them. They made fun of my son because of the tennis shoes I
bought him. I try to encourage him and tell him to study hard so that
he'll have a career after he graduates. But he says, 'Dad, professionals
here are worse off than someone who works at a produce market.' It's a
mess."

In Cuba, stores cater to different markets. Those whose merchandise is
priced in Cuban pesos (CUP) usually offer standard or poor quality
clothing. Most stores, however, sell items of higher quality, which are
priced in hard currency in the form of convertible pesos (CUC) and carry
import duties of 240%.

TRD Caribe — one of a chain of businesses owned by GAESA, a conglomerate
run by the Cuban military, which controls 80% of the Cuban economy —
offers clothing purchased in bulk from wholesale markets in Panama Canal
Zone or cheap garments acquired from China.

The prices are predatory. Jeans of mediocre quality go for between
twenty and thirty CUC. "The quality of shoes and clothing is really bad.
It's a bunch of junk that they treat as though it were of the highest
quality," says a woman looking through a box of rubber flip-flops at a
shop on Acosta Avenue in southern Havana's Tenth of October neighborhood.

At one of the Palco stores or the well-known boutiques located in hotels
or shopping malls, better quality goods can be found but at sky-high prices.

A pair of Converse sneakers at the boutique in the Hotel Saratoga, where
the king of Morocco recently stayed, costs the equivalent of ninety
dollars. A pair of Gap jeans goes for more than one-hundred twenty.

"Only musicians, hookers, owners of successful private businesses or
people who get a lot of money from overseas can afford to shop in those
boutiques. Everyone else is screwed," say Luisa, a bank employee.

At the Mango store in the shopping mall of the Comodoro hotel, which is
run by a daughter-in-law of the late dictator Fidel Castro, a pair of
denim shorts can cost as much as ninety dollars.

For Cubans trying to dress fashionably, the underground market provides
the best options. "Most people buy small items from individuals. They
have better prices and a wider selection than state-run stores. They
also let you pay in installments," says Sheila, a college-prep student.

The government has prohibited sales of clothing by privately owned
stores since late 2013. But almost all private businesses take advantage
of the revolving door that operates between what is legal and what is
not, a mechanism that operates with the precision of a Swiss watch.

Thousands of people on the island and abroad are engaged in the garment
trade. Merchandise is usually purchased in Panama, Peru or Russia. In
some cases it is acquired by catalogue. But whether shopping in
state-owned or private businesses, getting dressed in Cuba is an expense
that is five times the average Cuban's monthly salary.

If you ask a Cuban what he sort of present he wants, he will give you
one of three answers: a smart phone, a pair of comfortable shoes or a
ticket out of the country.

Source: Getting Dressed in Cuba / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/getting-dressed-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
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