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… history in Los Angeles, the Cuban bakery has earned a reputation … once-forbidden island nation. And now Cuban Americans – and even boxes of … independent mother who came to Cuba from Spain. Self sufficiency runs … preceded her. Before landing, a Cuban immigrant she met on the … Continue reading
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… , Garcia is the Cardinals’ latest Cuban import. In him, Diaz sees … Garcia in the tournament. During Cuba’s 2015-2016 Serie Nacional season … period, the Cardinals also signed Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado ($2.35 … outfielder is now the most-coveted Cuban who has left the country … Continue reading
… Coastal Fairfield County held a Havana Nights benefit at the Fairfield … full bar and mojito cocktails, Cuban cuisine, dancing, silent auction and … neighborhoods. Were you SEEN at Havana Nights? less Habitat for Humanity … Coastal Fairfield County held a Havana Nights benefit at the Fairfield … Continue reading


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Juan Juan Almeida, 24 February 2017 — They are dismembering the security apparatus at the bunker that for years served as a spiritual refuge for Fidel Castro: an apartment located on the third floor of 1007 11th Street in Havana’s Vedado district. Little by little they are removing pictures, gifts and belongings along with some trash. … Continue reading "Dismantling One of Fidel’s Houses and Saying Goodbye to His Bodyguards / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Miami, 23 February 2017 — The recent “diplomatic” action by the Cuban Government to try to prevent the presence of foreign personalities in a private event in Havana to receive a symbolic prize bearing the name of the late regime opponent Oswaldo Payá, denotes the weakness, fear and incapacity that characterize its … Continue reading "Weakness, Fear And Inability Erode The Cuban Government / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos" Continue reading
Undercover American Tourists in Cuba / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 23 January 2017 — Miami Airport is almost a city. And the
American Airlines' departures area is a labyrinth, with dozens of
corridors and passages. That's why Noahn, an American living in
Michigan, arrived five hours before his flight's scheduled departure
time to Varadero.

He was travelling with his wife, his eight-month-old son carried in an
arm-sling, and a dog with long floppy ears. In his luggage, professional
diving equipment and an electric skateboard. The couple speak in
carefully enunciated Spanish, with a hint of a Colombian accent. "It's
because I worked for an American company in Bogotá," explains Noahn.

To everyone who wants to listen to him, he describes his experiences as
a tourist in Cuba. He knows the Coco and Santa Maria Keys, located to
the north of Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara and Maria La Gorda, in the
western province of Pinar del Rio.

"But I was enchanted by Varadero. It's the third time in two years I've
been there since the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the
United States. Neither Miami Beach nor Malibu can compare with Varadero,
with its fine white sandy beach. The water is warm and there are hardly
any waves. Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Copacabana in Rio de
Janeiro and The Bahamas may have just as good or better natural
conditions," he adds, while his wife gives the child some milk in a bottle.

Despite the prohibitions on tourism in Cuba, Americans such as Noahn
travelled to the island by way of a third country. "Before December 17,
2014, I travelled to Cuba via Mexico. After that date it's been easier.
There are twelve quite flexible categories, which they call the twelve
lies. You declare whichever pretext, and travel in a group or
individually. "In theory you can't go as a tourist, but I bet that's
what half of the American travellers are doing."

Out of more than 200 passengers on the flight heading to Varadero, only
six were Cubans going back to their country permanently or to visit
relatives on the island.

Judith, a biologist living in Georgia, is going to Cuba for the second
time this year. Why? "Half for professional experience, half tourism."
I'm interested in gathering information on the varieties of Cuban
vegetation. Once I finish my research, I'm going to stay a week in a
hotel full-board in Camaguey or in Holguin."

Asked if she felt any harassment or if any federal institution has
opened a file on her for violating the country's regulations, she
replies: "Not at all. Seems to me the wisest thing to do would be to
openly permit tourism in Cuba, because that's what in reality people are
doing."

After the re-establishment of relations between two countries that were
living in a cold war climate, many more Americans are travelling to the
Greater Antilles. In January 11, 2016, Josefina Vidal, an official
working in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, and responsible for relations
with the United States, reported on Twitter that, in 2016, the island
received a total of 614,433 visitors from United States (Americans and
Cuban Americans), 34% more than in 2015.

Although on paper the Americans arriving are recorded as being part of a
religious or journalistic or a people-to-people exchange, it isn't
difficult to spot well-built blonds or redheads downing quantities of
mojitos in a bar in Old Havana or enjoying the warm autumn sun on a
Cuban beach.

When at 8:30 in the evening, the American Airlines plane landed at the
Juan Gualberto Gómez international airport in Varadero, after a quick
check, half a dozen air-conditioned buses were waiting for the
"undercover" tourists to take them to four and five star hotels along
the Hicacos Peninsula coast.

"Yes, the Americans are tourists." Many of them go to Havana, others
pass the time in Varadero. They prefer to stay in hotels. About 400 or
500 come every week. And many more are expected at New Year's," said an
official of the Gaviota chain, balancing on the stairway of a bus.

Private taxi drivers and those who lease vehicles from the state hang
around the terminal. "There are gringos who come as individual tourists.
I charge them the equivalent of $40 for the trip to Varadero, about 20
kilometers from the airport. Almost all give good tips. Unlike the
Spaniards and Mexicans, who are complete tightwads," says Joan, a
private taxi driver.

The majority of Cubans are convinced that Americans are rich. And have
more money than they know what to do with. They try to milk them as if
they were cows.

At the currency exchange outside the airport, they exchange dollars for
86 centavos, less than the official rate of 87. "The rate goes down at
weekends," he says.

An employee in the terminal, says "Here everyone is doing business. "The
lavatory cleaner charges, the café sells stuff on the side, and the
customs people get things off the passengers."

Tourism in Cuba is like a harvest. Everyone wants to squeeze the sugar
cane. And you can extract plenty of juice from the sneaky tourists

Translated by GH

Source: Undercover American Tourists in Cuba / Iván García – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/undercover-american-tourists-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Cuban Activist Juan Goberna Arrested / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 25 February 2017 — Human rights activist Juan Goberna
Hernández was arrested around 9 am this Saturday when he left home to
attend a meeting of the Inclusive Culture Network, a project to defend
the rights of people with disabilities.

On Friday night Goberna, who is blind, was visited by two State Security
agents to warn him that they would not allow him to attend the
meeting. Two other agents named Brayan and Nacho were posted in a car
from early Saturday to stop him if he persisted in his decision to go to
the meeting.

In Aguada de Pasajeros, Goberna was taken from a bus on which he panned
to travel to Havana to attend the meeting.

Minutes before his arrest Goberna told 14ymedio by phone that it was his
"duty" and his "right" to participate in the activity.

So far it has not been possible to determine where he was taken.

The Network of Inclusive Culture tries to promote a greater sensitivity
towards the treatment of people with disabilities, working to make
visible the difficulties that such individuals face on a daily basis.

In addition to conducting workshops and seminars, members of the Network
provide support and advice in cases of violations of rights to anyone in
situations of vulnerability.

Source: Cuban Activist Juan Goberna Arrested / 14ymedio – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-activist-juan-goberna-arrested-14ymedio/ Continue reading
Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban
exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans
after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers
to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to Manuel de la
Peña, Carlos Acosta, Armando Alejandre and Pablo Morales, at the
monument in Opa-locka that reminds them of the 21st anniversary of the
tragedy.

"Every year when we remember them, we feel immense pain," says Ana
Ciereszko, sister of Armando Alejandre, one of those murdered.

"When President Obama returned the spy responsible for the murder of our
relatives it was very hard because they gave their lives to save the
lives of others, Cuban rafters, many of whom have disappeared at sea,"
she added.

Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also recalled those
killed and lashed out at the Obama administration for the release of spy
Gerardo Hernandez, convicted of providing information to the Cuban
government that allowed the perpetration of the crime.

"Our nation must defend these murdered Americans and ensure that justice
prevails so that the families of these victims can have the final peace
they so deeply deserve," said the congresswoman.

Brothers to the Rescue emerged as an initiative of civilian aviators of
various nationalities and Cubans interested in assisting the rafters who
escaped from the island in fragile vessels during the migratory crisis
in the early 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the greatest
economic crisis in the country's history and thousands of migrants threw
themselves into the sea in the hope of reaching the United States.

The two Cessna 337 Skymaster aircraft, from Miami, were shot down with
air-to-air missiles by a MiG-29UB 900 fighter and a MiG-23 fighter. A
third plane escaped and called for help from the US authorities, who
never gave it to them.

The Cuban government accused the organization of having "terrorist
purposes" and defended the demolition of light aircraft on the grounds
that they were over Cuban waters. Brothers to the Rescue, however, says
that the shooting down took place in international waters.

"There has been no justice because there was no clarification of the
truth. The facts were carefully hidden under the presidencies of Clinton
and Castro," says Jose Basulto, 76, president of Brothers to the Rescue
and one of the survivors of the tragedy.

"It was a joint action, complicit, because they wanted to resume
relations between both countries," he says. He adds that on the Island
there practice runs for shooting down the planes and that it was
suggested to American officials what was going to happen. "We were
exposed to the enemy fire and nobody helped us," he adds.

According to Basulto, the days before each commemoration of the
demolition are filled with memories and are "very sad."

"Brothers to the Rescue was an example of human solidarity with the
people of Cuba and to teach the world the harshness of the suffering of
the people, capable of committing suicide at sea in order to escape from
that dictatorship," he recalls.

At Florida International University (FIU) a commemorative event was held
with relatives of the victims and a broad representation of the
exile. The meeting has become a tradition to remember the four
Cuban-American youth and, as every year, silence was held between 3:21
pm and 3:28 pm, the time at which the planes were shot down.

"My brother was my first baby. He was just a boy when he was killed,"
says Mirtha Costa, sister of Carlos Alberto Costa.

"He loved being together with everyone in the family. He was also a very
cheerful person and always looked for how to make jokes to others," he
recalls.

Both Costa and the other relatives are responsible for the CAMP
Foundation, named after the initials of each of the victims of the
shooting down.

The foundation supports diverse organizations that promote youth
education, such as Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.

The families of the victims will honor their memory with a Eucharist at
St. Agatha Church at 7:00 pm this Friday.

Video:
https://youtu.be/j8bD4F_J7W8

Source: Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts "Like The First Day"/
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/brothers-to-the-rescue-a-crime-that-hurts-like-the-first-day-14ymedio-mario-penton/ Continue reading
'Little Old Communists' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 25 February 2017 — Many of those who
experienced the first moments of the Revolution when they were between
the ages of 14 and 20, became literacy teachers, young rebels,
militiamen, cederistas (supporters of the Committees for the Defense of
the Revolution) and federadas ( 'federated', i.e. supporters and
activists of the Revolution). They overachieved every challenge and
climbing five peaks or walking 62 kilometers ended up being credentials
of high social value.

It was common to see them with a pistol at their belts bragging about
their exploits at the Bay of Pigs or cleaning up the Revolution's
opponents in the Escambray Mountains. It was the time of the Schools of
Revolutionary Instruction, of a Marxism manual tucked under one arm and
simplified atheism. In those prodigious years of the 1960s they embodied
the true fervor of youth and, consequently, an ideological prejudice
against the elderly took root.

A poet, then (and still) unknown, would write fiery verses under the
provocative title of If the old woman in front took power where he
described in the purest colloquial style the retrograde measures that
would be dictated by this hypothetical lady, probably bourgeois and
resentful, in a word: a gusana, a worm. In fact the term "old worm"
already seemed a redundancy in the mouth of those tropical Red Guards…
But time passed and many vultures flew over monument in the Plaza of the
Revolution.

A new generation, with very different goals, today launches its
prejudicial darts against anyone over 70. But they no longer use the
expletive "old worm," instead they choose its diametrical opposite:
"little old communist."

A diminutive, as any good linguist knows, can be loaded with tenderness
or contempt. It is not the same to say "granny" as it is to say "little
teacher." And this epithet of "little old man," or woman, wrapped in a
false commiseration falls with its full weight of impairment on the line
of retirees who get in line early in the morning to buy the
newspaper Granma, or on any gray-haired person always ready to utter
some admonition to the teenagers who saunter out of the high schools
with their shirts untucked.

Destiny has these intrinsic twists. For a boy who spends most of his day
thinking about how to leave the country, anyone who passed up a historic
opportunity to leave this shipwrecked island must be an accomplice, if
not the one personally responsibly for all his angst.

If there is a space for a smile after the macabre grimace of death,
those "old worms" must be amusing themselves in the face of the painful
spectacle offered by their former dentists, who no longer dread the
future, but rather ruminate on a defeat they do not want to recognize.

Source: 'Little Old Communists' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/little-old-communists-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
… with Cuba” workshop featuring keynote speaker Jorge Ignacio Fernandez, a Cuban-born American and CEO of Havana Ferry Partners. As … of the Republic of Cuba and the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade … dialogue between Chamber delegates and Cuban government representatives from various industry … Continue reading
Americans skipping out on Cuba
By The Washington Post By Justin Bachman

America, did you miss the travel industry's memo declaring Cuba the
hottest new destination?

Apparently. Service to the long-time U.S. foe began in September, but
after just five months the largest carrier to the island, American
Airlines Group Inc., cut daily flights by 25 percent and switched to
smaller jets on some routes. Meanwhile, Silver Airways Corp. reduced
weekly flights to six Cuban cities and JetBlue Airways Corp. downsized
its planes so as to match lower-than-expected demand.

"It's going to take a really, really long time for (Cuba) to become a
Caribbean destination that's as popular as some of the other ones,"
Andrew Levy, the chief financial officer for United Continental Holdings
Inc., told Bloomberg News in November.

While the rest of the Caribbean is hopping with the U.S. winter break
crowd, Cuba has some unique problems. The big one is that airlines, with
no real idea about demand, were overly ambitious when they jousted for
the limited routes allowed by U.S. regulators. With a mandate for only
110 daily U.S. flights-20 into Havana, the most popular destination-the
carriers tumbled over each other last year to get a piece of the pie,
leaving the island oversubscribed.

The air rush into Cuba "wasn't based on demand but speculation. They had
no history to look at," said Karen Esposito, general manager of Cuba
Travel Network, which specializes in tours to the island. Now they do.

Silver Airways described additional obstacles, pointing to the
complications accompanying U.S. travel arrangements to Cuba, along with
too much capacity from larger carriers. Still, spokeswoman Misty Pinson
said, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline "is optimistic about the
future growth potential in Cuba."

Former President Barack Obama announced an opening of relations with
Cuba in December 2014, calling previous U.S. policy, which sought to
isolate the communist government, a failure.

Despite Obama's efforts to spur U.S. engagement with the country,
including a state visit in March, the 54-year-old U.S. embargo remains
in place. The law prohibits tourism to the island by Americans and makes
financial transactions burdensome.

Today, most people traveling to Cuba individually classify themselves as
participants in "people-to-people" exchanges, one of the dozen
categories authorizing travel under U.S. Treasury regulations.

The policy thaw led to an immediate surge by "early adopters" who wanted
to see the tropical island, said Tom Popper, president of Insight Cuba,
a tour operator in New Rochelle, N.Y. "The number of passengers we were
sending tripled in very short order, and it lasted all of 2015 and most
of 2016," he said. "And much of that was just the extraordinary level of
awareness" of the Cuba policy changes.

But with liberalization has come a painful lesson in capitalism-for
tourists, anyway. The new interest in Cuba led to rapid price inflation
(as much as 400 percent) for state-run hotels, taxis, and other traveler
services-before any U.S. commercial flights had begun. Some rooms now
cost as much as $650 per night, serving as a major deterrent to
Americans hunting for novel warm-weather destinations.

Even the costs of classic car rides and dinners at popular paladares,
private restaurants run by families, have in some cases tripled, Insight
Cuba says. Prices have begun to moderate this year for the first time
since 2014, the company said this week. But beyond the high prices lie
additional difficulties for U.S. tourists.

"The airlines are also competing with limited hotel availability,"
Popper said. And "you cannot pay for a room with a U.S. credit card, so
you have to actually bring the cash. You're going to be carrying around
$2,500 to $3,000 in cash just to pay for the hotel room. And then you
need to carry more cash to pay for other things you want to do."

Cuba-curious Americans must also compete for winter lodging with
sun-seekers from Canada and the U.K., who face no bureaucratic hurdles
in booking their holiday.

The average round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Cuba did drop from $399
in September 2016 to $310 last month, according to data from Airlines
Reporting Corp. That compares with an average of $486 for Cancun, the
top Caribbean destination for U.S. travelers. But still, there are few
Yankees heading to Havana.

Some may be worried that a trip would fall under a murky area of the
U.S. law, unsure how much latitude is afforded by "people-to-people
exchanges," or cowed by the well-publicized aggressiveness of U.S.
customs employees of late. No one wants to worry about that sort of
thing while sipping an umbrella-adorned cocktail.

Barring a radical policy change by the new administration, such concerns
are probably unwarranted, Cuba travel experts said, adding that the
traveler counts this year are likely to top 2016. Said Popper: "There's
nobody from the federal government standing on the beach in Cuba."

That may not be reassuring enough for the airlines, though. They're not
pushing Cuba as a leisure destination because of the legal
uncertainties, said Michael Zuccato, general manager of Cuba Travel
Services, a Los Angeles-area company that offers visa assistance and
other traveler aid for customers of four carriers that serve Cuba. While
airlines bear no liability if customers fib about the real reason
they're visiting Cuba, in-house lawyers may not want to push their luck.

"Because of the U.S. restrictions," Zuccato said, "you really don't see
any advertising from the airlines promoting Cuba."

Source: Americans skipping out on Cuba -
http://www.swtimes.com/news/20170226/americans-skipping-out-on-cuba Continue reading
Family, Freedom and the Oswaldo Payá Prize
BORIS GONZÁLEZ ARENAS | La Habana | 26 de Febrero de 2017 - 12:04 CET.

The home of Oswaldo Payá, the Cuban political leader who was killed,
along with Harold Cepero, under murky circumstances in 2012, has a small
living room. It is a space consonant with a house of modest dimensions,
for a family whose social and political life, under normal conditions,
is lived through the appropriate institutions, with no other aspiration
than its domestic harmony and its children growing up healthy. It was
really not large enough to constitute an appropriate site for the
bestowal, on Wednesday 22 February, 2017, of the Oswaldo Payá Freedom
and Life Prize, awarded to Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS,
and Patricio Aylwin, the former Chilean president who was given it
posthumously.

Aylwin's honor was to be collected by his daughter Mariana. But the
Cuban government blocked both her and Almagro from entering the country,
in addition to Mexican president Felipe Calderón, who was nominated and
had accepted the invitation to attend the ceremony along with other
international guests.

The Government also foiled the arrival of an unverified number of people
from Cuba's civil society, either because they were stopped directly,
like Henry Constantín, or with the paramilitary cordon set up around the
house in the Havana municipality of Cerro, like Diario Las Americas
journalist Iván García.

The humble room still proved insufficient to accommodate the members of
civil society, diplomatic corps, and foreign media who were able to get
there. The chairs initially set up were stowed, and throughout the event
the attendees had to stand. It was a vivid example of how, thanks to
Castroism, private spaces have to assume the functions of public ones,
among other uses not corresponding to them.

The remarks by Rosa María Payá on the need for freedom for Cuba, a
reading by Saylí Navarro of a letter written for the occasion by Ofelia
Acevedo, Oswaldo's widow; the words of Ivan Hernández Carrillo, the only
nominee who made it to the event, and a taped speech sent by Felipe
Calderón to the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, dramatically
demonstrated the competence and political maturity of the organizers.

Rosa Maria's words, stating that the prizes would not be sent to their
recipients, but rather stored and given to them, in that same room, in a
free Cuba, expresses an aspiration instilling that small space with a
universal dimension.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro deserves praise for having accepted
the award and the invitation to travel to Cuba to receive it, in Cerro,
in a modest room, on an old and rickety chair.

The OAS was instrumental in distancing other Latin American governments
from Fidel Castro during the most lethal stage of his political
machinations, when he subjected the country to a succession of vicious
schemes. The estrangement occurred after the democratic government of
Rómulo Betancourt severed relations with Cuba and endorsed its
condemnation by the OAS due to the Communist nature of Fidel Castro's
government and its role in the subversion of the Venezuelan government.
It had taken a similar stance against Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, the
tyrant of the Dominican Republic, and shortly thereafter, the same
commitment to democratic standards led it to break off diplomatic
relations with the Haitian government, then headed by François Duvalier.

For Fidel Castro to be treated like just another Caribbean despot was an
affront that he was unwilling to tolerate, sparking hostility towards
the OAS that remains today.

The fact that the Payá family's home was the venue for an event of this
nature honors the Cuban family. If in recent years there has been a bit
of an economic upturn for families, it has been due to, precisely, the
conversion of domestic spaces into facilities for private business and
industry, though the Castro regime has offered nothing but obstacles and
impediments to this growth.

The success of the event organized by the Latin American Youth Network
for Democracy evidences that, together with its management capacities,
and economic initiative, it is in Cuban families that there endures,
with astonishing vitality, our people's yearning for and commitment to
its political freedom.

Source: Family, Freedom and the Oswaldo Payá Prize | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1488106982_29242.html Continue reading
The Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Carlos Sosa … and meningitis. Sosa, added that Cuban officials had already visited Kaduna … likened the ways of the Cuban people as similar to the … , therefore, reiterated the commitment of Cuba in promoting Nigeria’s culture … Continue reading
… Taipei, starting on March 6. Cuba will face Japan, Australia and … it 2-0 Cuba. South Korea was held in check by Cuban right-hander … Frank Morejon for a 3-1 Cuban lead. But South Korea put … ," Kim said of the Cuban starter. "We couldn… Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 23 January 2017 — Miami Airport is almost a city. And the American Airlines’ departures area is a labyrinth, with dozens of corridors and passages. That’s why Noahn, an American living in Michigan, arrived five hours before his flight’s scheduled departure time to Varadero. He was travelling with his wife, his eight-month-old son … Continue reading "Undercover American Tourists in Cuba / Iván García" Continue reading
Mayor de Blasio is attempting a Soviet-style takeover of 1,200 privately-owned co-op buildings in what critics charge is a blatant effort to artificially boost his affordable-housing numbers. The Stalinesque secrecy of the plot — developed over two years behind closed doors — has alarmed some lawmakers, who wrote to the city last week to put... Continue reading
… bank. What a stark contrast. Cuba has suffered an entire generation … about it. The difference between Cuba and Panama is like night … America.” Unlike neighboring Venezuela (or Cuba for that matter), Panama has … few opportunities for investment in Cuba right now. If the country … Continue reading
… work. Reversible, which opens the Cuban programme, shows why Ochoa is … observed on the streets of Havana. The opening scene sees the … and character. Danza Contemporánea de Cuba – 2017 tour trailer Clinkard’s … by Céspedes examines ideas of Cuban identity. With movements that begin … Continue reading
… ] The most recent example of Cuban’s questionable judgment started with … that didn’t quell Cuban’s anger: Mark Cuban’s second exchange … 25, 2017 Cuban deleted his tweets after Deadspin contacted Cuban to get his side of things, as well: Cuban told … Continue reading
… owner Mark Cuban has mad beef with that. MORE: Cuban asks NBA … caption "Dirk Forever," Cuban took his fierce complaints to … bar.  Cuban clearly felt the same way, and pounced. MORE: Cuban calls … Mavs? Goodbye ESPN media credentials. Cuban doesn't mess around … Continue reading
… owner Mark Cuban has mad beef with that. MORE: Cuban asks NBA … caption "Dirk Forever," Cuban took his fierce complaints to … on. Cuban clearly felt the same way, and pounced. MORE: Cuban calls … in itself was pretty impressive).  Cuban, along with the most unheralded … Continue reading
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… appear randomly on walls around Havana three years ago. The first … hardly a neighborhood in the Cuban capital where you can’t … interview with the Associated Press. Cuba has long had a thriving … in Havana. The works are often welcomed by people in Havana as … Continue reading
Washington, February 25 (RHC)-- The White House has blocked a number of major media outlets from a press briefing, showing President Donald Trump’s determination in fighting what he calls “fake news media.” CNN, The New York Times, Politico, the Los … Continue reading
Ramallah, February 25 (RHC)-- Israeli military forces have clashed with hundreds of Palestinian protesters on the anniversary of a 1994 massacre carried out by a far-right Jewish settler in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Violence broke out … Continue reading
Washington, February 25 (RHC)-- U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged a "massive” increase in military spending, saying he will implement “the greatest military build-up in American history.” In a wide-ranging speech on Friday at the Conservative … Continue reading
Mexico City, February 25 (RHC)-- Mexico says it does not need financial aid from the United States, after U.S. President Donald Trump requested a review of Washington’s assistance to Mexico City over the last five years.   A large part of the U.S. … Continue reading
… in signing cooperation accords with Cuba toward the preservation of natural … in Maisí and Baracoa, two Cuban municipalities that were hard hit … Continue reading
Moscow, February 25 (RHC-PL) --  Cuban Ambassador to Russia Emilio Lozada … two sides debated preparations for Cuba's participation with a … of Sochi. Lozada García reiterated Cuba's commitment to the … Continue reading
… caption, “Dirk Forever.” This set Cuban off, and he went straight … Networks, which owns Bleacher Report. Cuban tweeted at Bleacher Report with … . Despite the seemingly gracious response, Cuban was not satisfied and told … site deleted the offending tweet. Cuban then deleted his own tweet … Continue reading
Second-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem advanced to the semifinal of the ATP Rio Open for the second straight year on Friday with a convincing 6-2, 6-3 victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thiem won 11 of the first 13 … Continue reading
A driver plowed into a crowd of Endymion revelers Saturday, injuring several people. The crash happened at about 6:45 p.m. at the corner of Orleans and N. Carrollton  Avenue. More >> A driver plowed into a crowd of Endymion revelers Saturday, … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 25 February 2017 — Human rights activist Juan Goberna Hernández was arrested around 9 am this Saturday when he left home to attend a meeting of the Inclusive Culture Network, a project to defend the rights of people with disabilities. On Friday night Goberna, who is blind, was visited by two State Security … Continue reading "Cuban Activist Juan Goberna Arrested / 14ymedio" Continue reading
Americans can just go to Cuba now, thanks to President Obama … the locals. The Cubans I met in Old Havana are hungry, and … Havana!” Pedro said. “Now come try the best the food in Cuba … this cracked unit near Old Havana where ladies in high heels … Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 February 2017 – Members of the Cuban exile remembered the anniversary of the death of four Cuban Americans after the shooting down of two planes of the humanitarian NGO Brothers to the Rescue by the Cuban Air Force in 1996. The commemorative activities began with an act of homage to … Continue reading "Brothers To The Rescue: A Crime That Hurts “Like The First Day”/ 14ymedio, Mario Penton" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 25 February 2017 — Many of those who experienced the first moments of the Revolution when they were between the ages of 14 and 20, became literacy teachers, young rebels, militiamen, cederistas (supporters of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) and federadas ( ‘federated’, i.e. supporters and activists of … Continue reading "‘Little Old Communists’ / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar" Continue reading
… manager John Mozeliak believes the Cuban outfielder could contribute to the … MVP honors in Serie Nacional, Cuba's highest league, in … Avila, Garcia played for Team Cuba during the 2015 Pan Am … runs in the tournament gave Cuba a walkoff win over Puerto … Continue reading
… in 2015 until the recent Havana home Internet trial. I thought … ) technology — and now that the Havana trial is complete, I question … , the free home-connectivity trial in Havana used the DSL technology described … % of Cuban homes by 2020. (I've always hoped Cuba would … Continue reading
The Countdown Begins For Raul Castro's Departure From Power / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 24 February 2017 — On February 24 of next year Raul
Castro must leave the presidency of Cuba if he is to fulfill the
promise he has made several times. His announced departure from power is
looked on with suspicion by some and seen as an inescapable fact by
others, but hardly anyone argues that his departure will put an end to
six decades of the so-called historical generation.

For the first time, the political process begun in January 1959 will
have a leader who did not participate in the struggle against the
dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Nevertheless, Raul Castro can
maintain the control of the Communist Party until 2021, a position with
powers higher than the executive's and enshrined in the Constitution of
the Republic.

In the 365 days that remain in his position as president of the Councils
of State and of Ministers, the 85-year-old ruler is expected to push
several measures forward. Among them is the Electoral Law, which he
announced two years ago and that will determine the political landscape
he leaves behind after his retirement.

In the coming months the relations between Havana and Washington will be
defined in the context of the new presidency of Donald Trump and, in
internal terms, by the economy. Low wages, the dual currency system,
housing shortages and shortages of products are some of the most
pressing problems for which Cubans expects solutions.

Raul Castro formally assumed the presidency in February of 2008,
although in mid-2006 he took over Fidel Castro's responsibilities on a
provisional basis due to a health crisis affecting his older brother
that forced him from public life. And now, given the proximity of the
date he set for himself to leave the presidency, the leader is obliged
to accelerate the progress of his decisions and define the succession.

In 2013 Castro was confirmed as president for a second term. At that
time he limited the political positions to a maximum of ten years and
emphasized the need to give space to younger figures. One of those faces
was Miguel Díaz-Canel, a 56-year-old politician who climbed through the
party structure and now holds the vice presidency.

In the second tier of power in the Party is Jose Ramon Machado Ventura,
an octogenarian with a reputation as an orthodox who in recent months
has featured prominently in the national media. A division of power
between Díaz-Canel and Machado Ventura (one as president of the Councils
of State and of Ministers and the other as secretary general of the
Party) would be an unprecedented situation for millions of Cubans who
only know the authority being concentrated in a single man.

However, many suspect that behind the faces that hold public office, the
family clan will continue to manipulate through pulling the strings
of Alejandro Castro Espín. But the president's son, promoted to national
security adviser, is not yet a member of the Party Central Committee,
the Council of State or even a Member of Parliament.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the Center for Coexistence Studies,
Raúl Castro leaves without doing his work. "There were many promises,
many pauses and little haste," he summarizes. He said that many hoped
that the "much-announced reforms would move from the superficial to the
depth of the model, the only way to update the Cuban economy, politics
and society."

Raul Castro should "at least, push until the National Assembly passes an
Electoral Law" that allows "plural participation of citizens," says
Valdés. He also believes that he should give "legal status to private
companies" and "also give legal status to other organizations of civil
society."

The American academic Ted Henken does not believe that the current
president will leave his position at the head of the Party. For Henken,a
professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Baruch College in
New York, Castro's management has been successful in "maintaining the
power of historic [generation] of the Revolution under the authoritarian
and vertical model installed more than half a century ago" and "having
established a potentially more beneficial new relationship with the US
and embarking on some significant economic reforms. "

However, Henken sees as "a great irony that the government has been more
willing to sit down and talk with the supposed enemy than with its own
people" and points out "the lack of fundamental political rights and
basic civil liberties" as "a black stain on the legacy of the Castro
brothers."

Blogger Regina Coyula, who worked from 1972 to 1989 for the
Counterintelligence Directorate of the Interior Ministry, predicts that
Raul Castro will be remembered as someone "who could and did not
dare." At first she saw him as "a man more sensible than the brother and
much more pragmatic" but over time "by not doing what he had to do,
nothing turned out as it should have turned out."

Perhaps "he came with certain ideas and when it came to reality he
realized that introducing certain changes would inevitably bring a
transformation of the country's political system," says Coyula. That is
something he "is not willing to assume. He does not want to be the one
who goes down in history with that note in his biography."

Independent journalist Miriam Celaya recalls that "the glass of milk he
promised is still pending" and also "all the impetus he wanted to give
to the self-employment sector." She says that in the last year there has
been "a step back, a retreat, an excess of control" for the private sector.

With the death of Fidel Castro, his brother "has his hands untied to be
to total reformist that some believed he was going to be," Celaya
reflects. "In this last year he should release a little what the
Marxists call the productive forces," although she is "convinced… he
won't do it."

As for a successor, Celaya believes that the Cuban system is "very
cryptic and everything arrives in a sign language, we must be focusing
on every important public act to see who is who and who is not."

"The worst thing in the whole panorama is the uncertainty, the worst
legacy that Raul Castro leaves us is the magnification of the
uncertainty," she points out. "There is no direction, there is no
horizon, there is nothing." He will be remembered as "the man who lost
the opportunity to amend the course of the Revolution."

"He will not be seen as the man who knew, in the midst of turbulence,
how to redirect the nation," laments Manuel Cuesta Morua. Cuesta Morua,
a regime opponent, who belongs to the Democratic Action Roundtable
(MUAD) and to the citizen platform #Otro18 (Another 2018), reproaches
Raúl Castro for not having made the "political reforms that the country
needs to advance economically: he neither opens or closes [the country]
to capital and is unable to articulate another response to the autonomy
of society other than flight or repression."

Iliana Hernández, director of the independent Cuban Lens,
acknowledges that in recent years Raúl Castro has returned to Cubans
"some rights" such as "buying and selling houses, cars, increasing
private business and the right to travel." The activist believes that
this year the president should "call a free election, legalize
[multiple] parties and stop repressing the population."

As for the opposition, Hernandez believes that he is "doing things that
were not done before and were unthinkable to do."

Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello is very critical of Raul Castro's
management and says she did not even fulfill his promise of ending the
dual currency system. "He spoke of a new Constitution, a new economic
system, which aren't even mentioned in the Party Guidelines," he says.

"To try to make up for the bad they've done, in the first place he
should release all those who are imprisoned simply for thinking
differently under different types of sanctions," reflects Roque
Cabello. She also suggests that he sit down and talk to the opposition
so that it can tell him "how to run the country's economy, which is
distorted."

Although she sees differences between Fidel's and Raul Castro's styles
of government, "he is as dictator like his brother," she said. The
dissident, convicted during the Black Spring of 2003, does not consider
Diaz-Canel as the successor. "He is a person who has been used, I do not
think he's the relief," and points to Alejandro Castro Espín or Raul
Castro's former son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, as
possible substitutes.

This newspaper tried to contact people close to the ruling party to
obtain their opinion about Raúl Castro's legacy, his succession and the
challenges he faces for the future, but all refused to respond. Rafael
Hernández, director of the magazine Temas, told the Diario de las
Américas in an interview: "There must be a renewal that includes all
those who have spent time like that [10 years]." However, not all
members of the Council of State have been there 10 years, not even all
the ministers have been there 10 years."

This is the most that the supporters of the Government dare to say.

Source: The Countdown Begins For Raul Castro's Departure From Power /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
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Qatar Complains About Cuban Care Providers With HIV / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 February 2017 — Qatar authorities presented an
official complaint before Eumelio Caballero Rodríguez, Ambassador
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba, because
during the obligatory health exam of the Cuban health workers they
detected some cases of Cuban doctors infected with HIV.

This was expressed in an email from the Embassy of Cuba in the State of
Qatar, which landed like a tsunami in the office of the Minister of
Public Health of Cuba. Here are a few fragments:

"Beginning now, all [Cuban] care providers who leave for Qatar must
bring a certificate from the Provincial Center of Hygiene and
Epidemiology that shows the results of an HIV test."

"Urgent," says the message. "These 15 cases listed here arrived in Qatar
the past month of January without said document, and three of them
tested positive in the required check for entry to the country, and now
we are requesting an explanation for this."

"Gentlemen," continues the missive, "This must not happen again. It is
required that you take disciplinary measures against the provinces of
the implicated care providers."

It should be pointed out that Qatar is a State mediator and negotiator
in Middle Eastern conflicts, and its principal interest in Cuba is
concentrated in medical services, considered the backbone of relations
between both countries. This is why, in January of 2012, the Hospital of
Dukhan was created, which today has more than 400 Cuban professionals,
including doctors, nurses and technicians in the fields of
rehabilitation, odontology, medical laboratories, bio-medicine and
radiology.

Furthermore, the incident puts at risk the confidence of the Arab
Emirates, which, with the third largest world reserve of natural gas and
the largest income per capita on the planet, has shown interest, in
addition to health, in exploring other spheres of business, for example:
financing the extraction and commercialization of Cuban marble, the
construction of five-star hotels on the island and the implementation of
an airlines operation between Qatar Airways and Cubana de Aviación.

Of course, I'm convinced that we won't read anything about this
disagreeable incident, absolutely nothing, in the official Cuban press.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Qatar Complains About Cuban Care Providers With HIV / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba -
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The Cuban Regime Has Redoubled Its Assault On The Private Sector / Iván
García

Ivan Garcia, 24 February 2017 — Marino Murillo, the presumptive tsar of
economic reforms in Cuba, a prime minister with broad powers, passed up
a seat in the first row next to the senior staff of a long-lived
revolution governed by an exclusive club of elders who, as a group, have
lived almost 500 years, to take a seat in the third row, far from the
spotlight and the cameras.

In closed societies, where rumors are more truthful than the information
offered by the State press, you have to learn to read between the lines.
Lacking a government office that offers public information to its
citizens, academics, journalists and political scientists, you must look
with a magnifying glass at the most insignificant signs.

That morning in December 2015, when the autocrat Raúl Castro feigned
indignation before the more than 600 deputies of the monotone national
parliament about the abusive prices of agricultural products, was the
beginning of the end for Marino Murillo.

Castro II requested that measures be applied. And not very consistently,
alleging the law of supply and demand that governs the produce markets,
Murillo mumbled that he would try to implement different regulations to
try to curb the increase in prices.

Apparently this wasn't sufficient. The previous super-minister fell into
disgrace, and now not even his photo appears in the official media,
although theoretically he continues at the front of the agenda, charged
with implementing the economic guidelines, a kind of commandment that
moves at a snail's pace and with serious delays: In six years, only a
little more than 20 percent of the guidelines have been implemented.

With the fading-out of fatso Murillo, the dynamic of timid economic
reforms — together with openings in the obsessive defense of Fidel
Castro, who transformed Cubans into third-class citizens — the game
began to be directed by the most rancid and conservative of the military
leadership.

It was essential to open to the world and repeal the feudal exit permit
needed to travel outside the island, to permit Cubans to rent hotel
rooms and to buy or sell houses, among other normal regulations in any
country in the 21st century.

There is no doubt that this was a leap forward, with barriers, absurd
prices and spite for people who make money. Yes, in Cuba they sell cars,
but a Peugeot 508 is worth more than a Ferrari, and you must pay cash.

The Internet and cell phones are not exactly tools of science fiction,
but the price for service is insane for a country where the average
salary is 25 dollars a month.

The supposed reforms were always incomplete. They were left halfway.
Cubans cannot invest in large businesses; professionals don't have
authorization to work for themselves, and the State claims the right to
establish a ridiculous list of jobs that are or are not permitted.

Of the 201 authorized jobs, there are at least 10 or 15 enterprises
where, with creativity and effort, you can make large sums of money,
always taking into account the Cuban context, where anyone who earns
10,000 Cuban pesos a month (about $400) is considered "rich." This is a
country where for almost 60 years, the average citizen is sponsored by
the State.

Of course the regulations, excessive taxes, harassment by State
inspectors and a deadly clause in the Government's economic bible, which
prohibits persons or groups from accumulating large sums of capital,
hinder prosperity and the boom in private work.

In a nation where the Government has been in charge of clothing,
shoeing, rewarding or punishing its citizens, a margin of liberalism, as
small as it is, was an oasis for a half million entrepreneurs who now
live on the margins of the State.

The starting shot that would put the handbrake on the reforms began on
December 17, 2014, when President Barack Obama and General Raúl Castro,
of mutual accord, put an end to the incredible Cold War between Cuba and
the United States.

Once out of the trenches, Obama began to launch packets of measures with
the marked intention of favoring private workers. The Regime didn't like
that.

They wanted to do business with the gringos but with their own State
enterprises, not to empower the private ones. Then, progressively, the
Castro autocracy started to slow down the dynamic sector, probably the
only one that was growing on the Island, that paid salaries from three
to five times more than the State, and which gave employment to some 20
percent of the work force.

In autumn of 2015, a negative dynamic began. Presently only 30 percent
of the supply-and-demand produce markets are functioning. The State
harasses and penalizes the cart vendors who sell meat, fruit and
vegetables, and they have declined by 50 percent. The State closed the
largest produce market in Trigal, south of Havana, and the Taliban
juggernaut expects to increase with regulations and taxes on all the
buoyant businesses in gastronomy, transport and hotel services.

What's this new "revolutionary offensive" about? I don't think it has
the reach of the confiscations of french fry stands and shoeshine stalls
of 1968, or the counter-reforms for certain openings in the 1980s and '90s.

But it's undeniable that the Regime doesn't want the train to derail.
Presently there's a small segment of Cubans, between 60,000 and 100,000
persons, who have amassed small fortunes thanks to their taste and
talent for business.

We're talking about 100,000 dollars going forward, an insignificant
figure in any First World country, but extraordinary in a country
impoverished by the poor management of the Castro brothers.

In addition to pleasure and social status, money engenders power. While
Castroism functions in Cuba, private businesses will not be able to
prosper. This is the reason for the brakes put on the private owners.

A word of advice to the olive green Regime: Be careful with excesses. In
December 2010, an abusive fine on the owner of a food stand, Mohammed
Buazisi, who out of contempt immolated himself, put a final end to the
Tunisian dictatorship of Ben Ali and unchained the Arab Spring.

In its present offensive against the private taxi drivers, the Cuban
authorities shouldn't forget what happened in Tunisia a little more than
six years ago. In societies of order and control, the devil is always in
the details.



Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: The Cuban Regime Has Redoubled Its Assault On The Private Sector
/ Iván García – Translating Cuba -
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Potatoes Return to the Rationed Market / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 23 February 2017 – The unrationed
distribution of potatoes, a symbol of Raul Castro's government, has
suffered a big setback. During the quarter of February, March and April,
the distribution of potatoes was returned to the ration market
throughout the country, with a limit of 14 pounds per person and
requiring the presentation of a ration book, according to announcements
made by the authorities in local media.

The measure has been taken to "ensure the population greater access to
the purchase of potatoes," says the official statement.

The purchase will be "recorded in the ration book and maintains the
value of one peso"

The user will receive "14 pounds per capita (two in the first month and
six in each of the two remaining months) at ​​state agricultural markets
(MAE) and bodegas." The purchase will be "recorded in the ration book
and maintains the value of one peso."

The areas that do not receive potatoes this month will be able to
acquire the pounds corresponding to February along with the six pounds
for March.

The potato was distributed exclusively in the controlled way until 2009
at a price of 0.45 Cuban pesos per pound, less than 2 cents US. After
that, sales were uncontrolled at a price of 1 Cuban peso ($0.04 US), an
amount the state described as subsidized.

Between the years 2014 and 2015, the potato harvest experienced
important growth, going from a little more than 53,000 tonnes, to
123,000 tonnes. But domestic consumption also grew with the greater
number of tourists coming to the country and the expansion of the
private sector, especially those dedicated to food services.

The distribution of the nationally grown potato, with a lower yield than
the imported, started this year in the municipalities of Artemisa, San
Antonio, Guira de Melena and Alquizar, where the potatoes are grown. In
the coming days potatoes will also arrive in the capital, where
consumers are anxiously awaiting them.

"Something had to be done because when the potatoes came, the only ones
who could buy them were the resellers and the hoarders," complains
Samuel, a retired resident of nearby Estancia Street, outside the Youth
Labor Army on Tulipan Street.

For the man, "the measure favors the poorest people," although he still
thinks that "the price is very high" for those who are living on a
pension. "I only get 180 Cuba pesos a month (roughly $7.20 US) and it's
not enough," he says.

"That was a decision from above, and it surprised a lot of people here,"
an official told 14ymedio

However, María Victoria, a worker at a foreign exchange store, believes
that "this is a step back, because at this point the ration book doesn't
have them." The state employee is surprised by the return of the potato
to the ration market. "Instead of going forward, I think we're going
backwards," she said.

In the Ministry of Agriculture, all the workers who enter the imposing
building and the drivers who wait outside for some official are talking
about potatoes. "That was a decision from above, and it surprised a lot
of people here," one of them tells 14ymedio, preferring to remain anonymous.

Last April, the Communist Party Congress ratified the Guidelines for
Economic and Social Policy, among which it was agreed "to continue the
orderly and gradual elimination of products on the ration
book." However, the decision has not been implemented so far.

Source: Potatoes Return to the Rationed Market / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata
– Translating Cuba -
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