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Daily Archives: June 9, 2017

Siete congresistas republicanos enviaron una carta al presidente de EEUU, Donald Trump, en la que le piden que mantenga las relaciones con La Habana por una "cuestión de seguridad nacional de EEUU", informa ABC News.

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… its footprint in Cuba as well. China is now Cuba's … business ties to Cuba helped improve the lives of Cubans and expand … some definitive action by the Cubans," the senators wrote, without … that have already benefited everyday Cubans and provided direct benefits to … Continue reading
… it will please the hardline Cuban exiles whose support Trump considered … the Cuba policy event. Several local venues have symbolism for Cuban Americans, including the Bay of Pigs Museum in Little Havana … , including restricting business with the Cuban military and U.S. travel … Continue reading
Orquestas de EEUU amenizan agenda musical de Cuba Diferentes orquestas estadounidenses tienen previsto celebrar conciertos en La Habana y las ciudades de Matanzas, Santa Clara, Camaguey y Santiago de Cuba, durante el presente mes de junio. La embajada de Estados Unidos en La Habana, informó en su página de Facebook que la orquesta sinfónica Minnesota […] Continue reading
Cuba: fin de semana sin Wifi ni acceso a nauta Una nota de prensa de la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. ETECSA, informa de lo que consideran “afectación temporal en los servicios nauta y conmutados de enet” por trabajos que realizarán el fin de semana. Desde las 10 de la mañana del del sábado […] Continue reading
El “invento” como llave del éxito para los dueños de paladares Varios dueños de restaurantes privados, llamados “paladares” en Cuba, atribuyen al “ingenio”, las “ganas” y la “capacidad de adaptarse y reinventarse” el éxito de un sector, surgido de reformas económicas impulsadas en la isla y el creciente arribo de turistas al país caribeño. “Lo […] Continue reading
Veteranos de África reclaman al Gobierno cubano que sean “un poco más humanos” Rosa Tania Valdés Una modesta producción de video promovida en redes sociales muestra cómo sobreviven en Cuba, en medio de las carencias materiales, varios combatientes internacionalistas. “La Misión”, la serie de reportajes que busca visibilizar las malas condiciones en que sobreviven en […] Continue reading

El prominente abogado cubanoamericano Ervin A. Gónzalez fue encontrado muerto en la noche de este jueves en su casa en Miami.

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President Donald Trump will travel to Miami next Friday to announce his administration’s changes to U.S.-Cuba policy, a source with knowledge of the president’s plans told the Miami Herald. The … Click to Continue » Continue reading

El monopolio estatal de las comunicaciones ETECSA anunció este viernes que suspenderá temporalmente sus servicios de correo electrónico (Nauta) y de conexión a internet (Enet), dejando al país desconectado por más de medio día.

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… , industrial or commercial opportunities in Cuba. "For instance, Russia is already strengthening its ties with Cuba, supporting infrastructure investment and resuming … its footprint in Cuba as well. China is now Cuba's … ; "Reversing course would incentivize Cuba to once again become dependent … Continue reading

El músico venezolano Wuilly Arteaga tocó este viernes en la Décima Ceremonia Anual de Colocación de Coronas de la Fundación Memorial Víctimas del Comunismo.

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Global Skid Steer Loader Market Information Report by Application (Infrastructure Sector, Residential Sector) and By Region - Global Forecast To 2022 PUNE, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, June 10, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Skid-steer loaders are used in the … Continue reading

Un grupo de 16 cubanos protestaron este jueves ante la sede del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) en Paramaribo, Surinam, informa Martí Noticias.

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The fat’s in the fire in the race for a Brooklyn City Council seat. Referring to a Democratic candidate for the Bay Ridge seat, Republican state Sen. Marty Golden described him as “fat boy” when he couldn’t recall his name during a media event with his chief of staff, John Quaglione. Quiglione is running for... Continue reading

Lorena Feijóo quisiera volver a Cuba siendo una bailarina en activo. En 20 años no ha regresado y dice haberlo intentado.

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PUNE, INDIA, June 9, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- WiseGuyReports.Com Publish a New Market Research Report On - “Office Buildings Market 2017 : Manufacturers Analysis,Applications,Demand by Regions & Forecasts to 2022”. The ' … Continue reading

La Federación Cubana de Béisbol dio a conocer este jueves el equipo que participará en Holanda entre el 1 y el 9 de julio en el Torneo de béisbol de Rotterdam, informa la publicación deportiva oficial Jit.

El equipo de la Isla tendrá que enfrentarse en este evento a los de Japón, Curazao, Holanda y Corea del Sur.

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PUNE, INDIA, June 9, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- WiseGuyReports.Com Publish a New Market Research Report On - “Military Laser Systems Market to 2022 – Global Analysis and Forecasts by Types, Technologies, Applications and End-User Verticals”. … Continue reading
… river Quibú, west of the Cuban capital. It is where one … the intention of living in Havana have created this group of … Architecture and Engineering Projects of Havana, which is managing the construction … project. The company City Design Havana (CDH) was in charge of … Continue reading

Las autoridades de Panamá deportaron o expulsaron del país a unos 87 cubanos entre enero y mayo pasados por haber incurrido en "faltas migratorias", reporta EFE.

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La coalición opositora venezolana Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) introdujo este viernes una "denuncia penal" en la Fiscalía contra el presidente Nicolás Maduro, los magistrados de la Sala Constitucional del Supremo y las rectoras del Poder Electoral por intentar cambiar "violentamente" la Constitución, reporta EFE.

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HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 9 (ACN) The Institute … Continue reading
Yoe Suárez: «Cuando ser honesto cuesta tanto» Entrevista al joven periodista y escritor Yoe Suárez Milho Montenegro, La Habana | 09/06/2017 5:15 pm Yoe Suárez (La Habana, 1990) es uno de los jóvenes periodistas más destacados de nuestro país. Ha recibido importantísimos reconocimientos por su trabajo, los cuales acreditan la profundidad de su perspectiva creadora […] Continue reading
The Cuban Government, Complicit in Corruption and Peddling Favours /
Iván García

Iván García, 26 MAY 2017 — Ideology is no longer the most important
consideration if you want to get an administrative position in Cuba's
chaotic business and commercial network. They only ask you to do two
things: fake support for the autocracy and show loyalty to government
business.

If you have both these qualities, they will remove any common offences
from your work record. Nor is it a problem if you frequently beat your
wife or drink more rum than you should.

Human qualities are no longer a priority if you want to have a job in a
company management team or join the ranks of the Communist Party.

Let's call him Armando. He has always worked in internal trade. "It's
all been run down. Starting with the beginning of the Revolution. In the
food and internal trade sector, the biggest wastes of space have
occupied key positions. The employment culture is asphyxiating, like
being in a prison. Money, extortion, nepotism and witchcraft are more
important that professional qualifications and personal qualities".

After letting his life go down the drain, what with getting into
trouble, involving knives, robberies, public disorder, Armando decided
to get himself back on track when his son was born. "I spent most of my
youth and adolescence in the clink. With a family to support, I have to
look at things differently. I have no family in the States who could get
me out of here. I had to learn how to play the system. With the help of
a friend, after paying him 300 chavitos (CUC), I got a bodega [ration
store] for my wife and managed to include myself in the staff as an
assistant to the storekeeper".

After a year and a half, his wife started the process of joining the
party. "She knows nothing about politics, but in Cuba having a red card
opens doors for you. My next goal is to 'buy' a bodega just for me."

According to Armando, for 400 CUC you can get a bodega with lots of
customers. "The more people buy things in your store, the more options
you have to make money. In six months or a year, depending on your
contacts with truck drivers and people running warehouses, you can
recoup your investment".

Although the neighbourhood bodegas have seen a reduction in the
distribution of goods being issued through the ration books, various
storekeepers have said that, in spite of that, they are still making money.

"It's not like thirty years ago, when we had 25 different products
delivered to the bodegas. You don't get rich, but you can support your
family. You can do two things: cheat on weighing, and buy foreign made
things and sell them on to owners of private businesses or direct to
customers", admits a storekeeper with forty years' experience.

If there is a robbery in a state-owned food centre or bodega, the boss
or storekeeper has to meet the loss. "A little while ago, they stole
several boxes of cigars and bags of coffee. I didn't even report it. I
paid about 4 thousand pesos for the loss and coughed up nearly another
200 CUC have new bars fitted and improvements to the security of the
premises", said a storekeeper

An official dealing with these things emphasises that, "When a robbery
occurs, the first suspect is the storekeeper. It's an unwritten law of
business. If you get robbed, you should pay up and shut up, because
police investigations usually uncover more serious problems".

Naturally, in high-turnover food stores and markets you pay weekly
bribes to the municipal managers. The manager of a state pizzeria
explains: "The amounts vary with sales level. The more you sell, the
more you have to send upstairs. At weekends I send an envelope with
1,500 Cuban pesos and 40 CUC to the municipal director, as I sell in
both currencies".

This hidden support network, of mafia-like construction, at the same
time as it offers excellent profit on the back of State merchandise,
also generates a de facto commitment to the government.

"It's what happens in any important government activity. Whether it's
tourism, commerce, or import-export. The money comes from embezzlement,
irregular financial dealings and corrupt practices. One way or another,
the present system feeds us. It all comes together, as a kind of
marriage of convenience. I let you do your thing, as long as you let me
do mine", is a sociologist's opinion.

Raúl Castro has tried to sort things out, and designated Gladys Bejerano
as Controller General of the Republic. "Successes have been partial.
They get rid of one focus of corruption but leave others or change the
way they work. If you were to arrange a thorough clean up of the network
of government-run businesses, the system would break down. Because, like
the bloodsuckers, they feed off other peoples' blood", explains an
ex-director of food services.

Essentially, what is left of socialism in Cuba is a pact. In its attempt
to survive, Castroism violates Marxist principles and, in place of
loyalty, accepts that Catholics, Santeria priests and masons can enter
the Communist Party.

In the business sector there is a different idea. Embezzlement in return
for applause. In that way, not much is being stolen – kind of.

Translated by GH

Source: The Cuban Government, Complicit in Corruption and Peddling
Favours / Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-government-complicit-in-corruption-and-peddling-favours-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Reinaldo Escobar: The Unqualified Cuban Truth / Somos+

Somos+, Leyla Belo, 23 MACH 2017 — Those who ever speak with Reinaldo
cannot deny his innate genius, his sense of humor and gentleness of
expression. A matter of decorum, isn't it? That quality which is so
scarce among many people nowadays. He does what he considers to be his
duty: to disassemble our Island from within, dreaming that some of us,
or all of us together, will fix it. Each one of his writings brims with
endless sensibility, while leaving to others the use of easy adjectives
and trivial cruelties. A committed journal¡ist; of the kind of those no
longer living, because his commitment is not centered around one man but
around his Cuba, his suffering Cuba.

You had nearly two decades of work in official media under your belt.
When did you decide to take another path and why?

When I was supposed to graduate from the School of Journalism in 1971,
there was a "purge" at the University of Havana which meant the
expulsion and punishment of several students. My "punishment," caused by
my "ideological issues," consisted of working for a year for a tabloid
by the name of El Bayardo, which was part of Columna Juvenil el
Centenario, a youth brigade (a forerunner of the Youth Working Army), in
Camagûey province. I stayed there until mid-1973.

After serving out my sentence I was placed with Revista Cuba
Internacional where, according to my colleague Norberto Fuentes, we were
involved in "sugarcoating." I worked there until mid-1987, when I
transferred to the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, inspired by the Soviet
glasnost, and thought that we would be able to engage in a different
type of journalism in Cuba. I tried to do so with the best of
intentions, and the result was that I was expelled from the newspaper in
1988 and disqualified from exercising the profession on the Island.
Thus, some 18 years elapsed between mid-1971 and 1988 when I was engaged
in official journalism.

I began working as an independent journalist in January, 1989, which was
referred to at that time as "freelance" journalism, and contributed to
several European publications by writing about Cuban subjects.

You are the founder of 14ymedio and are its Editor in Chief. How
difficult is it to engage in serious journalism in an underground media?

The 14ymedio newspaper is not an underground newspaper. If I were to
label it at all, I would rather call it an independent or unofficial
newspaper. The best definition is that we are a digital, non-subsidized,
non-printed newspaper.

That definition is essential to explain its difficulties. The problem
other media have in securing ink and paper is experienced by us in
achieving Internet connectivity. The largest volume of information flow
is with our correspondents in the provinces and with other associates
through the Nauta webmail network, which is slow and government-controlled.

The other difficulty is the scarcity of journalists who meet the
appropriate requirements, as the first characteristic is for them to
have the professional sensibility to sense everything which is really
newsworthy. The second characteristic is to be able to truthfully and
appealingly write in any journalistic genre, while checking with
reliable sources. The third element is for them to dare to face the
risks stemming from the threats by the political police.

At times those threats materialize into specific events which physically
render it difficult to perform our job.

Current independent journalism (most of it) does not stem from a
"passion" when dealing with the news.

One of the distinctive features of the current, independent journalism
is the short distance that exists between many of its reporters and
political activism. Arbitrary detentions, beatings, searches, evictions
and everything that contributes to a true picture of a typical
dictatorship seems to be the only thing of interest to that type of
journalism. This can be explained because such news is absent from
official media, and to counteract the official media monopoly on
information is one of the raisons d'être of independent media. The
passion is inherent to the nature of this reporting, hence the (always
unnecessary) profusion of adjectives.

Independent journalism should also focus on other matters, such as the
growing presence of entrepreneurs, and it should look at those
–apparently insignificant– signs of defiance by our plastic artists,
filmmakers, writers, humorists and musicians.

Authorized press in Cuba is subsidized by the Cuban Communist Party
(PCC). In your opinion, what would be the ideal management paradigm for
the media?

I do not think there is an ideal management paradigm for the media.

The issue of media ownership is a complex matter. When it is
privately-owned, under a market system, information becomes one more
item of merchandise and "what sells" gains visibility over "what needs
to be reported." When management is in state hands and does not depend
on advertisers, the media often becomes boring and doctrinaire. In
addition, there is public management, which is somewhat different from
state management in that it is governed by the readership.

Even though it is not noticed at first glance, the official broadcasting
media in Cuba are privately-owned and are the monopoly of the Communist
Party. If we understand that the concept of ownership specifically
refers to the decision-making capacity and add to the aspect of material
responsibility for what is owned, there is no question that the official
media owner is the PCC, which designates the management staff,
establishes the editorial line, manages material resources and pays the
salaries.

Earnings are not measured in terms of money as under a market system,
but in terms of the achieved control over the population, which only
finds out about what those media report if they are privileged enough to
connect to other media. It is acceptable for a political party to own
its own publication, but it not acceptable for that party, having
exclusive access to power in the name of the law, to use State funds to
pay the cost of its media and, in addition, to take upon itself the
right of prohibiting the existence of its competitors.

Eventually, we will have private newspapers and magazines in Cuba,
perhaps full of advertisements, police-blotter journalism and trivial
news about the world of show business; civil society institutions will
manage their own media and perhaps there will be a public TV channel
where people will learn about the debates in Parliament.

You interviewed the Law student expelled from Cienfuegos University. How
do you define his action?

This young man only exercised his sacrosanct right to free expression
when answering the test questions. If a student is asked on a test what
his opinion is regarding a specific subject, whoever grades the test has
to refrain from his or her political prejudices, otherwise they should
pose the questions with more honesty, such as, "What do you think I
would be pleased to hear regarding such subject?"

You were detained a few months ago while a Spanish journalist
was interviewing you. Was that another violation of the freedom of
expression?

During the days of mourning following the death of former president
Fidel Castro, I was interviewed by journalist Vicent Sanclemente, from
Televisión Española. I do not think I was being followed at that
particular time, but "they" were just highly-strung. Maybe the informant
who was keeping an eye by the Malecón sea wall thought my answers to be
inappropriate. When this young man reported to his superiors that there
was a Cuban guy saying strange things to a foreign journalist, the
person who got the report was compelled to fulfill his duty. Something
"natural" in our environment.

Violating the freedom of expression is expressed in the most acute way
when, for instance, our 14ymedio.com newspaper becomes inaccessible to
the domestic servers providing Internet browsing service.

The official discourse boasts of freedom of expression in Cuba. Yet the
reality is different.

Once, I do not remember the exact date, Mr. Carlos Lage maintained that
there was total freedom of thought in Cuba… and it is true. What happens
is, as Friedrich Engels used to say, "the word is the material wrapping
of thought," so that it is totally worthless for someone to come up with
a political formula if he or she cannot in absolute calmness expound
upon it to all of his or her followers.

Freedom of expression, exercised in its public environment, is the best
guarantee that all rights to which people are entitled are fulfilled,
including, naturally, the right to education, public health and social
security.

Translated by: Anonymous

Source: Reinaldo Escobar: The Unqualified Cuban Truth / Somos+ –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/reinaldo-escobar-the-unqualified-cuban-truth-somos/ Continue reading
Between the Official Utopia and Generational Realism / Cubanet, Miriam
Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 1 June 2017. – A characteristic feature
of ineffective and outdated political regimes is the constant appeal to
the historical past as a mechanism for legitimizing the present, and as
a resource for survival. In the case of Cuba, this principle has been
the rector of official discourse and its means of diffusion, and it has
been applied with particular force in the teaching of History.

As a consequence, several generations of Cubans born shortly before or
after 1959 have grown up indoctrinated in the assumption that all events
from the "discovery" of the Island by Christopher Columbus through
Spanish colonization, the Taking of Havana by the British, the Wars of
Independence, and the brief Republic were nothing more than the
flagstones that paved the long road that would lead to this (even
longer) path -with airs of eternity- known as the "Cuban Revolution",
our nation's only and final destination.

The preaching took almost religious tones. Just as Noah saved all of
Earth's living species, the boat "Granma", with its young crew, was the
Cuban people's "salvation". Thus, judging from history textbooks at all
levels of "revolutionary" teaching, the founding fathers, the
illustrious pro-independence, the brightest Cuban-born intellectuals,
and all decent Cubans for the last 525 years had their hopes set, though
they didn't know it, in today's "socialist" Cuba and, above all, in the
pre-eminent guidance of an undisputed leader of world stature who would
continue to lead the ship even beyond material life: Fidel Castro.

With enthusiasm worthy of better causes, most Cuban professors,
including those who teach other subjects and not just History, have
reinforced the systematic misrepresentation of the past. An illustrative
example might be that of a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters
of the University of Havana, who would tell her students that "José
Martí would have been a perfect Cuban, except for one limitation: he was
not a Marxist. However, had he been born in this era, he would most
certainly have been a Marxist. No comments."

However, despite the official efforts, the flat rejection of history is
embodied in the obstinate student response. Year after year, pedagogical
technocrats, faithful servants of the regime, therefore, accomplices of
that apocryphal, mechanical and boring Cuban History, insist in the
useless need for improving teaching programs, "updating" the contents
and adapting them to the present in order to make them "more attractive"
for students. The problem is a fundamental one, since the objective and
basic principle of the subject is still to blur the values of the past,
to praise a failed sociopolitical system -a fact that most students can
verify in the reality that surrounds them- and to glorify the leadership
that today's young people find distant, alien and unwanted.

So perverse has the indoctrination been, and so reinforced the idea that
in Cuba everything has been done and decided since January 1st, 1959,
that it has resulted in the opposite effect than what the Power
attempted to achieve. Not only do the new generations show disinterest
in Cuba's history, but many young people feel alienated from the system,
from the country where they were born, and from that future as promising
as it is unattainable, in search of which their parents and grandparents
became uselessly worn out. The Revolution has lost its heroic quality
for the new generations, who perceive it as a sort of fatal outcome
which they would rather take no notice of. Now the heroes and villains
of video games are infinitely more exciting than that gang of hungry and
stinking guerrillas who roamed an inhospitable mountain range.

It is not by chance, then, that the worst university entrance exams
results, especially in recent years, are precisely in the subject of
Cuban History, according to Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, Minister of
Education, within the framework of the National Council of Federation of
Secondary Education Students (FEEM), adjourned in Havana this last
Saturday, May 27th.

The same Minister also expressed concern about the decrease in the
number of students taking the entrance exams, a phenomenon that is
becoming stronger every year, which shows the growing lack of interest
of the new generations in higher education studies in a country where
professionals often make less than many skilled workers or employees in
restaurants and the service industries.

In fact, unlike the generations of students of the 70's and 80's, the
current tendency is a decrease in university enrollment, which does not
necessarily entirely correspond to a State policy, as some claim, but to
a scenario that is distancing itself from the official utopia and
speeches as it approaches an increasingly crumbling reality.

Successive attempts to attract students for teaching careers have not
had the expected results either. Not only are their enrollments still
insufficient, but these centers are essentially sustained by those
students whose depressed academic averages prevent them from pursuing
other, more attractive majors. For decades, teaching careers -along with
agricultural specialties– have not been in very high demand, which is
why they have been the last and sometimes, the only option for
low-achieving young people aspiring to higher education. This factor, in
turn, has weakened the teaching levels, particularly in primary, middle,
and pre-university education.

In turn, the relative success of some private sectors (the
self-employed), related to restaurant services, tourism and other
activities independent of the State seem to be influencing the
decision-making of young people when it comes to choosing between
continuing university studies or opting for expeditious and practical
training that allows them to enter a much more attractive and better
paying labor market.

The crude reality that today's generations exhibit far surpasses their
parents' naive romanticism, whose paradigm of success, prestige and
salary advantages were first achieved by getting a university degree, a
mirage that faded rapidly in the face of the deep economic crisis -never
surpassed- which produced in Cuba the collapse of the so-called real
Eastern Europe socialism and pushed thousands of qualified professionals
into survival mode, translated into occupational reorientation in the
presence of the devaluation of the currency, some of them being
contracted out, into conditions of semi-slavery (as in the paradigmatic
case of doctors) or, markedly accented, in emigration as the best
alternative.

Today's young people -in many cases unaware- are in the presence of the
end of the utopia that marked the lives of several generations of
Cubans. At last, capital has come to be imposed, so they prefer to
dedicate themselves to what provides them with income and prosperity in
the shortest possible term.

It is a pragmatic vision without doubt, more in tune with a
post-egalitarian society, where contrasts proliferate between some
absurd "Guidelines" commanded by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) and the
glamour of capitalism appearing in the stained glass windows of the new
luxury hotels in Havana and other areas of the country. "If the power
elite and their descendants can enjoy the good things in life, why not
us?" reason young people.

It's true that there are still some areas of interest for young Cubans
in higher education, as in careers related to computer science,
industrial engineering, and art and design, among others. However,
suffice it to consult the enrollment figures today and contrast them
with those in previous years to envision a future that is still being
sketched with lines unequivocally opposed to the utopia.

All indicates that the old myth of the levels of education of Cubans has
begun to crumble, and with it, that sentence that "the future in Cuba
will be that of men of science". Another gross error of the
Unmentionable, because the Cuban future will belong to those enlightened
ones that have learned better to conduct themselves under the empire of
capitalism.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Between the Official Utopia and Generational Realism / Cubanet,
Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/between-the-official-utopia-and-the-generational-realism-cubanet-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading

La cantante cubanoamericana Camila Cabello se unió a la fiebre mundial del mega éxito de Luis Fonsi y Daddy Yankee: "Despacito".

En el programa radial de Roman Kemp en British Capital FM, uno de los conductores la invitó a cantar el famoso tema y Cabello asumió el reto.

"Despacito" ya cuenta con 1.800 millones reproducciones en YouTube y ocupa el puesto número uno en varios países.

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Céspedes, el “pueblo cárcel” de Joanna Columbié LUZ ESCOBAR, La Habana | Junio 08, 2017 El único ingenio azucarero que molió durante la pasada zafra está ahora reducido al silencio, apenas roto por el pequeño tumulto de los internautas en las tres zonas wifi recién abiertas en el municipio camagüeyano de Céspedes. Así es el […] Continue reading
En ‘paradero desconocido’ un periodista independiente detenido la semana pasada DDC | Matanzas | 9 de Junio de 2017 – 18:17 CEST. El periodista independiente Oscar Sánchez Madam, detenido el miércoles de la semana pasada frente la sede de las Damas de Blanco en Lawton, La Habana, no ha dado señales desde entonces y fuentes […] Continue reading
Opositores cubanos en Surinam protestan ante la ACNUR Luis Felipe Rojas Un grupo de 16 cubanos residentes en Surinam han iniciado un acto de protesta frente a la sede del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) en Paramaribo, con el objetivo de llamar la atención sobre la difícil situación que viven […] Continue reading
Found in Moscow's Flea Markets: Car Parts, Jeans and Bargain-Hunting Cubans

They fly 13 hours seeking items to sell in a Communist island still
starved of consumer goods

MOSCOW—Sometimes the wheels of history turn slowly. The hottest shopping
destination for Cubans is not across the water in Miami. It's Moscow,
6,000 miles away.

Tougher U.S. border control and rising remittance income from relatives
abroad have led to a recent surge of Cuban travel to Russia, the only
major country that stilldoesn't ask islanders for a visa. Cuban shoppers
don't take the daily 13-hour Aeroflot flight, a legacy of the Soviet-era
alliance, to see the Kremlin or the Red Square. They bring back bags of
jeans, haberdashery and car parts to a Communist island starved of
consumer goods.

"The Cubans are flooding in without speaking a word of Russian just to
stock up," said Ricardo Trieto, a Russian-educated Cuban engineer who
now translates for compatriot shoppers in Moscow's flea markets. "It's
very profitable: Whatever you buy here you can sell it for more at home."

The U.S. trade embargo with Cuba remains in place despite the fact that
President Barack Obama loosened restrictions for Americans to travel to
Cuba last year and opened a U.S. Embassy in Havana in 2015 after more
than half a century of severed ties. President Donald Trump has said he
would roll back Mr. Obama's Cuban initiatives. All of this has helped
revive a very Cold War-sounding trading relationship between Russia and
Cuba.

Consider the need for car parts in Cuba. Given the U.S. trade embargo,
most cars in Cuba are either American-made cars from the 1950s or
Soviet-era jalopies. The square-shaped models of Ladas and Nivas all but
disappeared from Moscow's streets years ago.

In Cuba, they are still going strong. Well, when they don't break down
and need new parts, the shortage of which can produce some spectacular
profits.

In Moscow, a 1980 Moskvich—another boxy offering from the Soviet era—
might fetch around $500. In embargoed Cuba, it can go for as much as
$14,000, Cuban taxi drivers say, fueling a booming cottage industry
specializing in cannibalized car parts for the Caribbean island.

At the sprawling Yuznii Port used-car market in southern Moscow, traders
say up to 40% of the business comes from Cuban shoppers. "We would've
gone broke without them," said trader Timur Muradian.

On a gray winter morning, a dozen Cubans dressed in ill-fitting beanie
hats and gray puffer jackets walked around the market's metal containers
filled with rusty car parts. Several extra layers of clothing and skin
darker than most locals easily gave them away to traders, who wooed them
with shouts of "hola, amigo."

"I can buy anything I want here; it's unbelievable," said Alejandro, who
flew from Havana for the first time to buy tractor parts.

Waving hands and typing into calculators with frozen fingers, the Cubans
haggled over prices in the thousands of dollars for heaps of what most
locals would consider useless scrap. "They buy up everything for Russian
cars and tractors by weight, without even looking at what parts and
models they are for," said Mr. Muradian. "Whatever it is, they'll be
able to sell it at a profit at home."

A typical group of Cubans spends $3,000 to $7,000 in the market, stall
owners say. These are astronomical sums for residents of an island where
the average wage is $25 a month.

Back in Cuba, whole villages chip in to send an envoy on shopping trips
to Moscow, often using remittances from relatives in Miami or Madrid.
Residents of the Rodas village in Cuba's central sugar belt said their
cane would rot in the fields without an annual trip to Moscow to buy
parts for their 1970s Soviet tractors.

Some of the workers in this cottage trading industry are part of the
tens of thousands of Cubans who went to the former Soviet Union as
students. They studied engineering, medicine and science and returned to
develop their Communist homeland. But when the Soviet Union and its
subsidies collapsed in 1991, they often found themselves working as
waiters and security guards for minimum wage.

Soviet-educated Cuban engineer Raul Curo came back to live in Russia
several years ago. He bought a taxi and became part of Moscow's booming
Cuban expatriate community, servicing shoppers from the island. Mr. Curo
meets Cubans in the airport and drives them around the city's flea
markets, helping to translate and haggle.

"Everyone loves Cubans here. It's been like this since Khrushchev," Mr.
Curo said, referring to the Soviet leader who risked nuclear Armageddon
by striking an alliance with Cuba in the 1960s and deploying missiles there.

During the low season, translator Mr. Trieto makes money giving Spanish
lessons to Azerbaijani and Armenian stall owners in the city's flea
markets. Others make ends meet giving salsa lessons in Moscow night
spots such as Old Havana.

Most Cuban shoppers come to Moscow for about a week and spend whole days
trawling the city's flea markets to collect the 260 pounds worth of
goods they are allowed on the plane for a fee.

They borrow boots and parkas from friends and family and sleep on
double-bunks in crammed Soviet-era apartments owned by Cuban
expatriates. "I've never been this cold in my life, but I'm getting used
to it," said shopper Abelito. He said his first purchase was the warmest
jacket he could find on the entire 150 acres of the Sadovod flea market.

At the entrance of Lyublino's budget Moskva shopping center is a Cuban
canteen adorned with pictures of the island's lush rolling hills and a
photo of President Vladimir Putin with the late Cuban leader Fidel
Castro. The Cuban cook serves up cheap homemade dishes of rice, beans
and shredded pork.

The shopping center offers a translation service and Cuban immigrants
work in the center's cheap jewelry stalls. An Azerbaijani stall owner
haggled in broken Spanish with a group of Cubans over a stack of jeans
on a recent visit.

"They basically live in the bazaar," said taxi driver Mr. Curo of his
compatriot shoppers. "They came, they bought up, and they left. In a
couple of months, they are back."

—Dmitry Filonov contributed to this article.

Write to Anatoly Kurmanaev at Anatoly.kurmanaev@wsj.com

Source: Found in Moscow's Flea Markets: Car Parts, Jeans and
Bargain-Hunting Cubans - WSJ -
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