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[1] Orlando, 2nd from right, and his mother María, far right, with two friends. We started university. It was Havana 1991. One afternoon we went to sit in the stands at the university stadium. We had no desire to remain in the classroom. At times we knew biochemistry as science-fiction, in a Biology Department where there wasn’t even distilled water. Professors and students deserted en masse, when they could get any kind of little scholarship to study abroad. Those of us left behind, they expelled us as soon as we dared to voice an opinion. The climate was one of immeasurable cruelty. I was never sadder than when I was a Cuban student, poor and happy and with the permanent look of our indolence before so much pain. For me Castroism is this. A wasteland where healthcare and education are free, but human life is not given. That afternoon we passed through the Calixto Garcia Hospital. When we passed the emergency room a gentleman approached me. Not the group, but he came straight to me. He was wearing a suit and tie in the summer of that Cuba in the midst of the Special Period. He grabbed me by both arms and said, “How old are you?” My friends reacted somewhat violently. Including my girlfriend of the time. Girlfriends are always girlfriends of the time. They separated him from me. But I had seen something in that sudden scene. I went to where the group had pushed the gentleman. I grabbed him by his arms. “I’m 19,” and even gave him some more details, “I’ll be 20 in December.” The he hugged me. Strong, deep, feeling. He smelled too strong, deep, feeling. And broke into tears on my shoulder. On my collar, my neck, on my hair which had started to look long at the beginning of the decade and the end of the millennium. “I knew it, your same age,” he said with a voice cracked with tears. “And it almost killed me inside. I just left him dead on the same stretcher in which we brought him yesterday. Go and ask his forgiveness for me. I don’t want my son to know that his father had to see him like this.” And he released me as abruptly as he had come. And started walking toward the Philology Department, an oasis of Ficus or laurels or whatever they call those trees that preceded and will survive the Revolution. I can barely remember wow the exact works of that dialog. But this final phrase was syllable by syllable, this: I don’t want my son to know that his father had to see him like this. Nor do I. I don’t want Cuba to know that we had to see her like this. Horrible, hateful, hypocritical, hollow. I left. We left. That afternoon we didn’t go to the university stadium. That afternoon the friends and girlfriends of that time, in that band of barbaric biochemists, we each went to our own homes to never return to our country. For some if took us almost a quarter of a century, as in my case. Others didn’t even graduate from the university, to simplify the paperwork and the harsh bribes. Most ended up “betraying” the country as soon as the country “located” them in a high technology center of the Council of State, from where they could travel to a meeting in Europe or the USA. We disbanded as a group. As fellow travelers of our biographies and our hearts. I and my girlfriend (in that order) went to the nearest Route 23 bus stop, in a deserted park at 25th and N. I gave her a big kiss on the lips. I loved her so much. But it was, of course, a kiss of farewell. I decided to return to the hospital. I went for the dead son of the gentleman in suit and tie, who recognized me as his I-don’t-know-what in the midst of a tragedy as personal as it is collective. I always return for the death of my loved ones. In the emergency room, with the filth of the police and the beggars, with its students caught between ignorance and incivility, there was no longer any dead son on any stretcher. For other reasons, I never again saw my girlfriend of that time. Nor our Cuba of that time. Today the climate remains one of immeasurable cruelty. The sadness didn’t let us save ourselves from totalitarianism. We are, each one of us, the Castro regime itself. And especially now, when hope is a poor and happy whore, paid by the exiled dance of millions, those who erased death by death the memory of our indolence faced with so much pain. 12 February 2015 [1] https://orlandolunes.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/3e494-10917573_10204889997322364_1886480999_n.jpg Continue reading
… more than 1.5 million Cuban ex-pats and their descendants reside … to link the 11 million Cubans on the island with the … in areas where trade to Cuba has been well established, U … food sales, though it denies Cuba credit, forcing it to pay … Continue reading
… :40Havana, Mar 4 (Prensa Latina) Cuba and the European Union (EU … meeting being held at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX … year in Brussels, Belgium. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs says … European External Action Service, and Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno … Continue reading
… surprise to many Americans and Cubans. To John Coatsworth, the University … the island. Cuban scholars from the University of Havana regularly come here … Business Environment in Cuba,” and students spend time in Havana to see … implications of normalized relations with Cuba while humanities Professor Gustavo Pérez … Continue reading
… ) attended a meeting in Havana of Cuba scholars from all over the … variety of Cuban professionals for short-term visits. Although travel to Cuba is … are frequent charter flights between Havana and Miami. In January, the … ’t have an embassy in Havana. It does have a U … Continue reading
… sides could reopen embassies in Havana and Washington in time for … about how to punish the Cubans for this. Kennedy made some … medical equipment somewhere which had Cuban nickel in it, that had … the Cuban intellectual community—there is a dissident intellectual community in CubaContinue reading
[1] Hector Maseda after his release, with his wife Laura Pollán, founder of the Ladies in White, who later died under circumstances still being questioned. Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Border Guard Prison Unit, Havana, February 2015 — February 12th will be four years since the release of the last prisoners belonging to the group of 75 arrested in that fateful “Black Spring [2]” of 2003. History and Memory are two spaces that in time unite. I remembered Hector Maseda telling me about the pressures he received those final days to abandon the county. The way in which the political police have pressured me is similar to what Maseda told me about At times I feel I am in the same mold, they’ve only changed the people, to my honor. On more than one occasion Maseda came to see me in the Lawton jail. There, I had finally heard his voice and a powerful force entered me. He said words to me that out of humility I would be incapable of repeating, and coming from someone whom I admire and respect, I will keep them in my memory for the rest of my days; but right now I could restart my imprisonment. I feel such strength as at the beginning thanks the spirit of those who have sacrificed their lives, and those who are still willing and accompany me with their breath. As José Martí said, “honor is happiness and strength,” which like a blanket, my brothers in the struggle cover me with. [3] 3 March 2015 [1] https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/hector-maceda-laura-pollc3a1n.jpg [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Spring_%28Cuba%29 [3] https://blogloshijosquenadiequiso.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/firma-3.jpg Continue reading
Having a Boat in Cuba
Anddy Sierra Alvarez
Posted on March 4, 2015

Cubanet, Anddy Sierra Alvarez, Havana, 2 February 2015 — Any Cuban can
have a boat in Cuba. You just have to be authorized by the appropriate
authorities. Here is the detail Those who are interested in buying a
boat are investigated. If they are authorized, all that's missing is
pure bureaucracy to become owners.

Miguel E. Gil, 52, fisherman and owner of a boat, said he never faced
obstacles to buying it. "I just had to wait for the Cuban Vessel
Register to authorize me, the rest is like buying a car," he said.

But there are always some who are rejected, and this was the case for
Mendoza, 30, who comments, "My request was denied, I was surprised
because I've seen people with bad criminal records and I just I had a
traffic accident. Like my friends say, I have bad luck."

The price of a 12 horsepower boat (the most common) varies between five
and nine thousand dollars, according to its characteristics.

"A Chernera model, fiberglass with Japanese Yanmal 12 horsepower engine
costs $8,000, equivalent to 32 years of work by a Cuban with average
wage," said Ernesto Aguirre, 55, a fisherman.

Having a boat carries costs

An owner of a boat answers to the Ministry of Fisheries, Cuban Registry
of Ships, Captain of the Port, Coast Guard, Fish Inspection and Ministry
of Transportation.

Therefore, he will pay a tax of 75 pesos per year to the Registry, and a
tax of 150 pesos to the National Tax Office (ONAT), for having a 12
horsepower boat, the tax is increased if the boat has more horsepower.

"I pay 150 pesos to the ONAT because of the characteristics of my boat.
For having a fishing license I pay 60 pesos, 20 pesos per place (the
number of people who I can carry in the boat), the professional fishing
license costs 100 pesos. It allows you longline fishing. All that is
annually," said Michael E. Gil.

Navigation has its limits

By day, the authorities allow the boat to be up to 7 miles from shore,
at night 3 miles.

"Not only is it limited to seven miles in the day and 3 miles at night,
but you can't be less than 50 yards from the shore, for fear of hurting
a swimmer or to be planning an illegal exit from the country," he said
Alain Soto, 39, fisherman.

Although not controlled by GPS, if you are found more than seven miles
out they will impose a fine.

"Before they would sanction you to one to three months without sailing,
but now they impose a fine exceeding one thousand dollars," said
Gilberto Segura, 58, owner of a boat.

Maintenance, the safety of the ship and the fuel are borne by the owner

"Yes, everything comes out of our pockets, many of us have a contract
with the Acuabana company that buys the fish supplies us with fuel,
according to an agreement, which should be systematic," said Michael E. Gil.

Although boat owners fully engaged in fishing, getting a boat is not as
difficult as people imagine. There is a filter that will or won't
authorize you to be an owner, but from that moment you have to maintain
it yourself, even though you have a contract with Acuabana.

2 February 2015

Source: Having a Boat in Cuba / Anddy Sierra Alvarez / Anddy Sierra
Alvarez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/having-a-boat-in-cuba-anddy-sierra-alvarez-anddy-sierra-alvarez/ Continue reading
… Caturla" begins today in Cuba with the participation of two … , considered the father of the Cuban piano school, will offer concerts … Salas Musical Heritage, of the Havana Historian's Office. The … the 75th death anniversary of Cuban composer Alejandro Garcia Caturla and … Continue reading
Canadian travellers to Cuba will now be required to pay the country's airport departure tax up front, following a recent change enacted by the Cuban government. Transat spokesperson Pierre Tessier Continue reading
[1]Rebeca Monzo,11 February 2015 — After nearly three months of going to a clinic to set a date for a surgical intervention (outpatient and minimal), good news! Finally I got a date for a month later. I felt happy, because in all the hospitals here it’s normal to have little availability of operating rooms, for many reasons, such as contamination, leaks, damage to ceilings, walls, etc. And now with everything planned and in order for the moment, yesterday I went to an appointment with the anesthesiologist which was scheduled for 8:00 in the morning. I went to the information desk to find out where the appointment would be. They sent me to the fourth floor, Room G. Once there, I realized that the room was empty. I checked out the entire fourth floor, from one end to the other, asking every person in a white coat who crossed my path; no one knew where to send me. Some suggested I go down to the third floor and ask. It was all useless, I went up and down the stairs a couple of times, because there was a line at the only elevator of six that was working. Back on the fourth floor, I decided to wait for the surgeon who would operate in the morning, to explain what happened. When I saw him coming, I stepped forward to intercept him, as there were several patients waiting for him. It was then that he explained to me, not to keep looking for the  anesthesiologist, because he wouldn’t be operating due to an accident in the operating room, and to return to the clinic in 15 days to see what could be done. I left the hospital surprised and disappointed, because I had already been preparing physically and mentally for the moment. I even had to postpone an exposition abroad and delay the longed-for visit of my granddaughter to Cuba, two things very important to me. In addition, why when I filled out the form for the operation did they ask me for a telephone number where they could find me? On arriving at the hospital parking lot, where fortunately a car was waiting for me I learned from the parking attendant himself, who had worked there for a few years, that the operating room in question had caught fire a few days before and that’s why it was closed, and also there was only one anesthesiologist for the whole hospital because, normally, the person who come for pre-operative consultations sometimes don’t get done until 3:00 in the afternoon because he is the only one for the room and the consultations. I left the hospital thinking that, sadly, I myself had experienced a joke that I often used on my friends: if you get sick here, then get a ticket and go to Haiti or Venezuela because there you’ll find a good Cuban specialist to see you with all the necessary equipment, because public health in Cuba is “A candle in the street, darkness in the house.”* *Translator’s note: A common saying that means you “show off your good works” away from home, bt don’t help your own family. Rebeca is referring to Cuba’s healthcare “missions” abroad; the export of doctors is a major source of hard currency for the country. [1] https://porelojodelaaguja.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/a-la-luz-de-la-vela.jpg Continue reading
… sneak preview from his upcoming Cuba special showing the host goofing … locals, chatting with a "Cuban Andy" and getting caught … was filmed in and around Havana over a weekend in February … night host to travel to Cuba since "Tonight Show… Continue reading
How Google can make Cuba's web truly worldwide
WRITTEN BY Mark Walsh Journalist

Netflix made headlines earlier this month when it became the first major
streaming service to launch in Cuba following the diplomatic
rapprochement with the US. Apple drew similar attention shortly after,
when it was revealed that the company had removed Cuba from its list of
trade-restricted countries, opening the door to a new nation of iPhone
customers.
But even as these moves conjure images of smartphone-wielding Cubans
streaming House of Cards on their devices, the country's limited
internet infrastructure remains a stumbling block to any sort of
fast-speed access.
Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the Western
hemisphere, estimated at 26% by the International Telecommunications
Union, according to a human rights report compiled by the British
government. Even this figure, however, reflects access mainly restricted
to a national intranet of websites, email and pro-government bloggers.
Freedom House puts actual internet penetration at about 5%.
Most Cubans who access the worldwide web do so only through work or
school, and usually then using shared computers. A small number of
internet cafes opened by the Cuban government in 2013 ostensibly broaden
connectivity, but these charge exorbitant usage rates—$5 USD an hour,
and 70 cents per hour for the country's intranet—according to a 2013
report by Internet Monitor, a project of Harvard's Berkman Center for
Internet and Society.
The relaxed export rules under the new US-Cuba entente, therefore, would
allow American telecom and technology companies to help build out Cuba's
internet. One company that could end up playing a role in Cuba's
infrastructure upgrade is Apple's chief rival, Google.
No, this wouldn't be the same as battling Apple for smartphone hegemony
in China. But what better way to highlight Google's far-flung efforts to
widen internet access than by connecting a country that's become
synonymous with frozen-in-time technology? It could also put a
definitive period on the US trade embargo, which has deprived Cubans of
the Western hemisphere's largest trading power since 1960.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt himself called for lifting the embargo last
June, when he and other company executives visited the country to help
promote free and open internet access. In a Google+ post, Schmidt also
noted that much of Cuba's internet infrastructure to date is made out of
Chinese components. "The result of the 'blockade' is that Asian
infrastructure will become much harder to displace," he wrote.
Google declined to comment on any plans for helping to expand or update
Cuba's internet and wireless systems. But its actions speak for
themselves—it has already launched several high-profile initiatives in
the last couple of years for connecting more people to the internet
globally. These projects involve technologies ranging from
stratosphere-traveling balloons, to low-earth orbit satellites, to Wi-Fi
networks and Google Fiber broadband service in the US.
Much of the emphasis has been on finding lower-cost ways than
traditional fiber optics to deliver internet service to developing
countries and remote areas worldwide. The enlightened self-interest
angle is that Google is helping to accelerate the development of future
markets for its products and services, from old-fashioned search to
Android-powered phones.
That focus on providing cheaper access, coupled with Google executives'
Cuba visit last year, could give the company an edge over more
traditional ISPs when it comes to partnering with Cuba.
In the short-term, Google could provide Wi-Fi expertise and equipment to
bolster the informal mesh networks that have sprung up to close the
internet gap. Google powers Wi-Fi access at Starbucks stores in the US.
It could do the same at the 140 or so official internet cafes Cuba
opened last year, at reduced cost, or free in exchange for "powered by
Google" branding—though that might be a tough sell for communist officials.
Longer term, Google's experiments with beaming internet connections from
above could benefit Cuba by obviating the need to lay more fiber. In
January, Google and financial services giant Fidelity invested $1
billion in Elon Musk's SpaceX venture, with the aim of providing
internet service to underserved regions through a fleet of hundreds of
small satellites.
For now, however, this all falls in the realm of speculation. According
to Larry Press, a professor of information systems at California State
University, Dominguez Hills, who runs a blog tracking the internet in
Cuba, any partnership with Google or would require the blessing of
ETECSA, Cuba's monopoly internet-service provider.
But Press posits that the Cuban government may be more amenable to
working with Google because of its mission to spread the internet
globally. Havana has long cast itself as an advocate for the developing
world.
It all seems surprisingly plausible. Schmidt and other Google executives
reportedly met with Cuban officials during their visit last year. Given
the diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba since, Google executives could be
returning to the island nation sooner than expected.
You can follow Mark on Twitter at @markfwal. We welcome your comments at
ideas@qz.com.

Source: How Google can make Cuba's web truly worldwide - Quartz -
http://qz.com/354110/how-google-can-make-cubas-web-truly-worldwide/ Continue reading
Colombia arrests captain of arms-trafficking ship bound for Cuba
Authorities find 100 tonnes of gunpowder and 3,000 artillery shells amid
cargo
Documentation for Hong Kong-flagged ship made no mention of ammunition
Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá
Wednesday 4 March 2015 07.59 GMT

The captain of a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship has been arrested in the
Colombian port city of Cartagena, charged with arms trafficking for
transporting undocumented large-caliber munitions, reportedly bound for
Cuba.

The captain of the Da Dan Xia, a Chinese national identified as Wu Hong,
was captured after authorities found 100 tonnes of gunpowder and 3,000
artillery shells among other munitions, an official from the Attorney
General's office told reporters.

The vessel was stopped on Saturday after authorities discovered the
unregistered materials in eight shipping containers during inspection.

"Around 100 tonnes of gunpowder, 2.6m detonators, 99 projectiles and
around 3,000 cannon shells were found," the national director of the
attorney general's office, Luis González, said.

The documentation presented by the ship's crew made no mention of the
ammunition on board and instead listed the contents as chemicals and
spare parts. "The documentation that the captain had in regards to the
merchandise that was being transported in the China-flagged vessel did
not correspond to what we found," González said.

China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the ship had been
involved in "normal trade co-operation". Hua Chunying said the ship was
carrying ordinary military supplies to Cuba and was not in violation of
any international obligations.

After stopping in Cartagena the vessel was bound for another Colombia
port, Barranquilla, and then to Havana, Cuba.

Photos of the crates containing the gunpowder, published by the
Cartagena newspaper El Universal, showed they were destined for a
company called TecnoImport in Cuba, which according to several blogs is
a procurement branch of the Cuban armed forces.

The company officially lists itself as an importer of machinery and
industrial products. The supplier is listed on the crates as Norico, a
Chinese manufacturer of machinery and chemical products, as well
high-tech defense products.

Cuba is currently pushing the US to remove it from a list of state
sponsors of terrorism, amid talks between the two countries aimed at
normalising diplomatic relations.

The US first included Cuba on the list in 1982, accusing the communist
government of sheltering members of militants including members of the
Basque separatist group Eta and leftwing Colombian rebels.

For the past two years, Cuba has been the site of two-year-old peace
talks between the Colombian government and leftist Farc rebels. However,
there was no indication that the weapons were at all related to the
Colombian guerrilla forces.

Although some news reports said the Da Dan Xia had sailed from
Cartagena, the cargo-ship tracking website MarineTraffic.com located the
vessel still docked at the port on Tuesday.

The ship captain was to appear before a judge in Cartagena late Wednesday.

In July 2013, a North Korean ship was seized in Panama after leaving
Cuba with Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets hidden under sacks of sugar.

Source: Colombia arrests captain of arms-trafficking ship bound for Cuba
| World news | The Guardian -
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/03/colombia-arrests-ship-captain-ammunition-cuba Continue reading
Online travel sites jump on the U.S.-Cuba bandwagon, report rise in demand
By Elizabeth Llorente Published March 03, 2015Fox News Latino

With the island beckoning the likes of Conan and Paris and others famous
enough not to need last names, it was only a matter of time before a
U.S. online travel booking site offered trips to Havana.

CheapAir.com now makes it possible to book flights between various U.S.
cities and Havana.

It is just one of the latest stirrings of the recently awakened
"sleeping giant" of U.S.-Cuba relations – dormant for more than half a
century – after President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro
announced in December the restoration of diplomatic relations between
the long sworn enemies.

"Since the rule change, we have seen a surge in search volumes for
travel to Cuba," CheapAir.com CEO Jeff Klee said in a statement quoted
by USA Today. "Arranging flights to Cuba is a little complicated, but
it's the kind of thing we're good at and our technology platform is
flexible enough to make it possible."

"Our team did a great job building it out in just a few weeks' time."

Earlier this year, travel search site Kayak.com showed a variety of
choices for flights and hotels to Cuba, but its users cannot book trips
through it.

Cheapflights.com, another search site, noticed a spike in interest in
Cuba immediately after Obama announced an easing of travel and trade
restrictions.

For a few days after the announcement in December, Cuba was the fourth
most searched site for Caribbean travel on Cheapflights.com, the company
said in a press release.

It became a popular search item again in mid-January, after the
administration released details about new trade and travel regulations,
which included expanding to 12 the categories of Americans who could
visit the island. It jumped to number four in the most searched
Caribbean destinations, behind Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and
Jamaica.

It has remained near the top since then, Cheapflights.com said.

"There's an ongoing and growing interest in Cuba," said Emily Fisher,
the head of North American Communications for Cheapflights.com, to Fox
News Latino. "The people who are interested in going are interested in
getting a snapshot of Cuba before it changes."

"It's like friends of mine who went to East Berlin when the wall first
came down," Fisher said, "before it became integrated with the rest of
the world, when it was untouched, unwestern culture, with no chain
restaurants. To some extent, it was Communist tourism -- we went through
a Cold War, and tourists could see what it was like behind the Cold War.
There's a lot of that feeling with Cuba right now."

But while Americans are getting an appetite for traveling to the
long-forbidden fruit that Cuba has been for a whole generation in the
United States, the U.S. tourism industry is not quite ready to
facilitate trips there, experts say.

Many trips offered still have travelers going to third countries and
taking connect fights, and fares often are expensive – in the four digits.

Indeed, CheapAir.com notes on its website that many restrictions remain
to traveling to Cuba, even with the many dramatic changes that are
taking place.

"Travel to Cuba from the U.S.A. is only legally permitted for 12
approved reasons, and (unfortunately) hitting the beach isn't one of
them," CheapAir.com says on its site.

Travelers no longer need a special license from the U.S. Treasury
Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. But their objective for
traveling to Cuba must fall within one of the categories, which include
religious, cultural, educational and humanitarian.

People who have relatives in Cuba were allowed to travel there before
the change in U.S.-Cuba policy, and many take charter flights from the
United States.

Experts on Cuba travel generally expect that it will get easier, and
less expensive, to plan trips there as demand grows and the U.S. travel
industry accommodates it.

"We've been talking to our partners," Fisher said, "airlines and travel
agencies say it's going to be an opportunity for them. It's a momentous
change."


Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at
elizabeth.llorente@foxnewslatino.com. Follow her on
https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

Source: Online travel sites jump on the U.S.-Cuba bandwagon, report rise
in demand | Fox News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/03/03/online-travel-sites-jump-on-us-cuba-bandwagon-report-rise-in-demand/ Continue reading
Bill would boost marketing of agriculture exports to Cuba
BY BRIAN BAKST ASSOCIATED PRESS
03/03/2015 8:54 PM 03/03/2015 8:54 PM

ST. PAUL, MINN.
Seeking to fan agriculture exports to Cuba, a Minnesota House panel took
initial steps Tuesday to spend state money on promoting the shipment of
goods to the island nation amid improving relations with the United States.

The bipartisan bill that the House Agriculture Finance Committee kept in
the budget mix would designate $100,000 to promote marketing exports to
Cuba. Its sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jack Considine of Mankato, said he
envisions half of the appropriation being used to defray costs of
setting up a high-level trip to develop contacts on the ground.
Then-Gov. Jesse Ventura led a delegation there in 2002.

Considine said improving U.S. relations with Cuba make it an ideal time
for Minnesota producers to explore opportunities.

"I would like to see us get down there first and expand the markets,"
Considine said.

In December, U.S. officials announced steps to begin normalizing
relations with the communist island nation after decades of hostility.
It triggered high expectations that an eased trade embargo was not far
off. But diplomatic talks between the two governments have moved at a
measured pace.

There are humanitarian exemptions to the embargo for some agricultural
and medical products. Minnesota producers have shipped a modest amount
of goods to Cuba in recent years.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Cuba
ranked 170th on the state's list of export markets in 2014, with a mere
$166,700 shipment of medical goods there. Exports neared $52 million
because of the high value of corn exports in 2008 but have tapered off
more recently.

The agency helps scope out sites for potential trade missions, with the
destinations selected by the governor. Department spokeswoman Madeline
Koch said there were no plans for a trip to Cuba at this time.
Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Margaret Hart said nothing is in
the planning stages for her agency but a mission would be considered if
the bill passes.

Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said Cuba "will certainly be one of the
countries considered" for future trade trips the governor leads. He
heads to Mexico this summer.

The Cuba measure could wind up in an agricultural budget bill now taking
shape in the committee.

Ralph Kaehler, a cattle farmer from St. Charles who was on the Ventura
trade mission, testified about Minnesota's advantage of being able to
move farm goods down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.
His son, Cliff Kaehler, joined his father on that and other trips to
Cuba. He told committee members that Cuba remains a largely untapped market.

"It's not a question of if Cuba is going to be a big market," Cliff
Kaehler said, "but how are we going to capitalize?"

Source: Bill would boost marketing of agriculture exports to Cuba |
Miami Herald Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article12053990.html Continue reading
'Ship to Cuba' option shows up on Amazon.com amid diplomatic talks

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Less than three months after U.S. and Cuban
officials agreed to restore diplomatic ties, Amazon.com Inc appears to
be laying the groundwork to ship packages to Cuba.

Related Stories

U.S., Cuba say progress made in talks; no date for diplomatic ties Reuters
Cuba, US at odds on ending Havana's terror blacklist AFP
US, Cuba resume normalization talks in Washington AFP
U.S., Cuba say progress made in talks; no date for diplomatic ties Reuters
US could reopen embassy in Cuba within weeks AFP
A "ship to Cuba" button was seen on Monday on Amazon's website by
Reuters correspondents in Havana. But the option does not appear to work
and reporters got an error message when they tried to order an item and
ship it to Cuba.

"Due to export controls and economic sanctions laws and regulations, we
are unable to process transactions from your current location," Amazon
said in the message.

There was no such option available on Amazon's site in a U.S.-based
search from San Francisco.

It is unclear how quickly Amazon, the largest U.S. online retailer,
could start shipping items to Cuba. Amazon did not immediately respond
to requests for comment.

But logistics experts said the appearance of the option suggested the
company was working on it.

"It probably does mean they are testing," said Rob Howard, chief
executive officer of San Francisco-based logistics firm Grand Junction.
Amazon often launches new services without much fanfare, preferring to
first work out the kinks with a small pool of eligible users, he said.

U.S. and Cuban officials have held two rounds of talks following the
Dec. 17 announcement that they would work toward restoring diplomatic
ties severed more than 50 years ago. Cuba has also signaled its
readiness for faster progress.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has family ties to Cuba. His adoptive
father Miguel Bezos was born there and came to the United States at the
age of 15.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in San Francisco and Daniel Trotta in
Havana, Cuba; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: 'Ship to Cuba' option shows up on Amazon.com amid diplomatic
talks - Yahoo News -
http://news.yahoo.com/ship-cuba-option-shows-amazon-com-amid-diplomatic-223941189--finance.html;_ylt=AwrBEiGXhfVU4lAAjo3QtDMD Continue reading
[1] Eliecer Avila, 26 February 2015 — After having "conversations" like these, I always ask myself is it is worth the trouble to publish an account of them or not. I do not like even giving these people the impression that I have blabbed about everything. But I also believe not publishing such accounts only hurts me. They have cameras everywhere and have demonstrated they have no scruples. They can release a doctored video recordings and use the information to destroy someone’s life Upon entering the airport yesterday, I was approached by an immigration official. After taking my passport, he led me to a small office for "routine questioning." Since I am already familiar with these ploys, it did not surprise me to find Lieutenant Colonel "Yanes" and "Marquitos" there in the room. The latter goes by a different name when he is with other people. He was the young man who "looked after" us some time back. It was he who put me and Reinaldo into the patrol car on the day of Tania Bruguera’s performance. After my phone was taken away, the "chat" began. Though it was extensive, I am highlighting here only certain essential passages that provide some insight into the mindset of these people. Also included are some of my responses and other reflections on their points of view. State Security (SE): Get this straight: The Revolution is not going to fall apart because you or some other little dimwit want to see it happen. You are a nobody! I ask myself this: If I am so insignificant and pose no threat, why do they focus this attention on me? Wouldn’t it be better to use the gasoline they’re wasting, the time, the salaries, the clothing and all the other resources to fix the hospitals, build buildings or buy internet antennas? SE: You are quite mistaken if you believe that we are afraid of the internet. The thing is we provide it to doctors, professors and Revolutionaries. We are not going to provide it to people like you or Yoani Sanchez. And don’t get the crazy idea that the Americans are going to subvert us with the internet. We are going to have a secure internet like Russia or China. You know full well that we have thousands of technicians and cyber experts to deal with that. It seems surreal to me that someone, especially a young person, would tell me that the model for information access that he wants for Cubans, for his own people, is to be found in Russia or China. On the other hand, it comes as no surprise to me that, given this mentality, the Cuban economy is in such ruins. Here is one of thousands of young professionals in the prime of their working lives trying to put the brakes on the nation’s development. I would give anything to have this conversation in public! I would love to know what Calviño thinks about this. What intellectuals, humorists, workers, artists, students and even the police and military officials think. I invite them to discuss this subject publicly but their response is to change the subject. SE: So, tell me. How did your trip go? With whom did you meet? What did you do? It went very well. I will share the details with my family, with my friends. I don’t see why I should share them with you. SE: O.K. We see you favor diplomatic relations with the U.S., but fundamentally your position is the same as that of other Counter-Revolutionaries. You see this change as an opportunity to import that "perfect democracy" that you like so much, like what they have in the U.S. That’s the conclusion our analysts came to after watching your interview on CNN for example. I am tempted to say a lot of things but realize that doing so would be pointless, so I say nothing. SE: Look, Eliecer, since it is my duty to advise you, I suggest you don’t get involved in all these initiatives that are sprouting up, in the house of your friend Yoani, or in the the events for the summit. Remember the instructor (investigator) who took care of you in Regla on the 30th? Well, don’t be surprised if there is a knock on your door and you are arrested for breaking the law, what with all the things you peope have been up to. We have laws here, just like in the U.S., and you didn’t break any laws there. Right? Expressing oneself is not a crime in any normal country in the world. I will keep saying what I think in Cuba, in Greenland, on Mars. Wherever I am invited to engage in serious conversation, I will be there, whether it be Yoani’s house or the Council of State! When they finally let me go, they were waiting for me at Customs on the other side. They took me to another small room and conducted a thorough inspection of my luggage. They finally saw I was clean and had almost no luggage. Their focus was on analyzing a book which René Hernández Arencibia had dedicated to me: The Book of Cuba; 500 Years of History. After the young customs agents and their boss had a good long look through it, they arrived at an encouraging conclusion: "Wow, it looks like it covers everything." And then they let me go. Still fresh in my mind is the loss of thirty-six books which were confiscated for being "of inadequate literary value." Clearly, the literary training of Cuban customs officials must be a serious matter. I doubt the world’s great men of letters could arive at such a conclusion so readily. I finally left the airport and went home. Then begins the "yoga" to refresh and detoxify with the little left to us in Cuba to enjoy: family, friends... and faith in the future, which refuses to be broken. Eliecer Avila, Engineer Footnote: This post should have been published a day earlier but was a delayed due to communication difficulties arising in Cuba.   [1] https://homiscdocs.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_4465-225x300.jpg Continue reading
Cuba is a culturally rich island, … about your travel tips for Cuba. Where was the best place … ? Tell us all about your Cuban highlights. The best tips will … Continue reading
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There are many documented false flag attacks, where a government carries out a terror attack . and then falsely blames its enemy for political purposes. In the following 54 instances, officials in the Continue reading
[1] Although boat owners mostly fish, getting a boat is not as hard as people imagine. [2]Cubanet, Anddy Sierra Alvarez, Havana, 2 February 2015 -- Any Cuban can have a boat in Cuba. You just have to be authorized by the appropriate authorities. Here is the detail Those who are interested in buying a boat are investigated. If they are authorized, all that’s missing is pure bureaucracy to become owners. Miguel E. Gil, 52, fisherman and owner of a boat, said he never faced obstacles to buying it. "I just had to wait for the Cuban Vessel Register to authorize me, the rest is like buying a car," he said. But there are always some who are rejected, and this was the case for Mendoza, 30, who comments, "My request was denied, I was surprised because I’ve seen people with bad criminal records and I just I had a traffic accident. Like my friends say, I have bad luck." The price of a 12 horsepower boat (the most common) varies between five and nine thousand dollars, according to its characteristics. "A Chernera model, fiberglass with Japanese Yanmal 12 horsepower engine costs $8,000, equivalent to 32 years of work by a Cuban with average wage," said Ernesto Aguirre, 55, a fisherman. Having a boat carries costs An owner of a boat answers to the Ministry of Fisheries, Cuban Registry of Ships, Captain of the Port, Coast Guard, Fish Inspection and Ministry of Transportation. Therefore, he will pay a tax of 75 pesos per year to the Registry, and a tax of 150 pesos to the National Tax Office (ONAT), for having a 12 horsepower boat, the tax is increased if the boat has more horsepower. "I pay 150 pesos to the ONAT because of the characteristics of my boat. For having a fishing license I pay 60 pesos, 20 pesos per place (the number of people who I can carry in the boat), the professional fishing license costs 100 pesos. It allows you longline fishing. All that is annually," said Michael E. Gil. Navigation has its limits By day, the authorities allow the boat to be up to 7 miles from shore, at night 3 miles. "Not only is it limited to seven miles in the day and 3 miles at night, but you can’t be less than 50 yards from the shore, for fear of hurting a swimmer or to be planning an illegal exit from the country," he said Alain Soto, 39, fisherman. Although not controlled by GPS, if you are found more than seven miles out they will impose a fine. "Before they would sanction you to one to three months without sailing, but now they impose a fine exceeding one thousand dollars," said Gilberto Segura, 58, owner of a boat. Maintenance, the safety of the ship and the fuel are borne by the owner "Yes, everything comes out of our pockets, many of us have a contract with the Acuabana company that buys the fish supplies us with fuel, according to an agreement, which should be systematic," said Michael E. Gil. Although boat owners fully engaged in fishing, getting a boat is not as difficult as people imagine. There is a filter that will or won’t authorize you to be an owner, but from that moment you have to maintain it yourself, even though you have a contract with Acuabana. 2 February 2015 [1] https://cubanosconderechos.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/embarcacion-de-boca-de-jaruco-provincia-mayabeque.jpg [2] http://www.cubanet.org Continue reading
… cientos de miles de campesinos cubanos integrados en negocios gestionados por … Estados Unidos podrían ayudar a Cuba a mejorar niveles de producción … el mercado privado. La agricultura cubana está hoy a media transformación … dólares al mes. Los agricultores cubanos y estadounidenses compararon precios durante … Continue reading
… livestock, on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. By … MELENA, Cuba — The rust-red fields stretched for miles in the Cuban sun … the 247-member cooperative farm outside Havana. "It'll be … outside Havana. Imports and advice from the U.S. could help CubaContinue reading
… , Cuba (AP) - The rust-red fields stretched for miles in the Cuban … the 247-member cooperative farm outside Havana. "It'll be … outside Havana. Imports and advice from the U.S. could help Cuba … "Potatoes!" Detente has Cuban farmers dreaming of exporting pricey … Continue reading
… the 247-member cooperative farm outside Havana. "It'll be … to hundreds of thousands of Cuban farmers who belong to member-run … outside Havana. Imports and advice from the U.S. could help Cuba … source of dissatisfaction for many Cubans. A year after assuming power … Continue reading
… incentives for irregular migration from Cuba,” Ambassador Guanche said, “and they … the two countries, many Cubans fear the Cuban Adjustment Act may be … seven-day time frame for notifying Havana about refugee arrivals and identifying … , but then must wait for Havana to confirm the information. Finally … Continue reading
No late-night talk show host had filmed in Cuba since Jack Paar in 1959 — so when President Obama announced plans to thaw relations with the country last December, Conan... Continue reading
[1] CENSORSHIP WITHOUT CENSORING Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo 2003 was a deadly year for Cuba. In March, the government declared an open war on the citizens. In less than a few hours, the Police arrested over a hundred peaceful dissidents and independent journalists from all across the island. Although the international press nicknamed the most notable of the arrested men and women as the “Group of 75”, there were many others who had been repressed months before (and also after) the event that has come to be known as the “Black Spring”. Jorge Alberto Aguiar Diaz was 36 at that time and was selling books in the Centro Habana district. He had an honourable amount of books and as a post-Deleuzian idealist, he offered free literary workshops, which he called “labs”, or “clinics of writing”. He was known as JAAD (the acronym of his name) and had a large, enthusiastic fan club, to which I also belonged. We were his audience and we sometimes seemed to look at him as a kind of a generational guru. And he was one, in fact: it was as if he were a cross-breed of Charles Bukowski and Roberto Arlt, embodying the angry desires of the former with the neurotic touch of the latter. [2] I was his favourite pupil (or perhaps, the bad one). In fact, JAAD’s words gave us freedom within the increasingly prison-like, funereal atmosphere of Havana. JAAD wrote opinion columns for the dissident newspaper agency known as Decoro. That’s why his home was frequently visited by the State Security. There were always two of them, those secret little agents in plain clothes, coming on a single Suzuki motorcycle. One of such visitors was the brother of a poetess exiled in the USA, who has recently become an academician. JAAD recognized him but preferred not to say anything (and I prefer to do the same now, for the very same reason). At another battlefront, Iroel Sanchez, president of the Cuban Book Institute, was sitting on his Taliban throne. In 2001, JAAD won a short story award in the “Premio de Pinos Nuevos” literary contest with his book entitled “Adios a las almas” (Farewell to Souls). A part of the award was the publication of the book by the “Letras Cubanas” publishing house and indeed, the book came to be published in 2002. Apparently, the censorship in Cuba was gradually becoming skilled in the art of circumventing scandals, averting collateral damage and avoiding making more martyrs. Yet, JAAD began to be subject to hidden pressures and blackmailing, both from the Ministry of the Interior (Political Police sponsored by the Castro clan) and from the Ministry of Culture (literary sergeants paid by Abel Prieto and Miguel Barnet). After all, “Adios a las almas” was introduced at the International Book Fair of Havana and it seemed that it started circulating. The book immediately became a best-seller, which was both unexpected and suspicious, considering the fact that there had been no official promotion campaign. In just a few weeks, the thousand copies that had been published disappeared from the shelves of Havana book stores and nobody heard about the book’s sales volumes any more. Ahem... JAAD’s friends congratulated the author on his success, but he didn’t celebrate. He had an intuition, which later proved prophetic. The thing is, State Security always carries out its operations in the realm of the invisible. It never shows its face. That’s the sinister essence of any left-wing dictatorship. Also, JAAD couldn’t forget how much he was pressed to stop publishing his critical pieces as a member of the Decoro group on the CubaNet website. In 2004, after more than a few warnings and threats, he got a permission to travel to Spain on account of his being married to a Spanish woman. Before that he had been warned that he could be put to prison with the members of the Group of 75 on a charge of enemy propaganda. He had also been told that something unpleasant could happen to his closest family, including his daughter. The government wanted to get rid of his presence in Cuba and in the end, they succeeded. Several hours before he was to board the plane, he got an anonymous phone call: “Come immediately to this address. Bring money. It’s in your interest.” JAAD, book and adventure trafficker, couldn’t resist the temptation ant went there. I’m his witness. When he got to the address, he found a book distribution warehouse of a company belonging to the State book empire run by Iroel Sanchez. The man who was waiting for him was an old acquaintance of his from the Centro Havana district. He told JAAD: “You’d better sit down or you’ll fall back.” (Actually, that’s just my bad, self-censored transcription of what he really said, which was: “...you’ll shit yourself with shock.”) They entered the warehouse and in one of its large naves there were several metal containers, one of them padlocked. The boy took out a bunch of keys, chose one as if at random and opened the padlock. What JAAD saw inside was a kind of aleph – as if the whole, unique universe were condensed in a few square meters of the most populated neighbourhood of Havana. Actually, the belly of the padlocked container was filled with an intact edition of the book “Adios a las almas”. The books were not only intact, they hadn’t even been released to the public. In fact, the storybook was published only formally, to fool the public and it was withdrawn from circulation. That was the reason why the government spread rumours that “Adios a las almas” had become a best-seller and soon sold out. The boy had strict orders to sort the books out with “damaged books” and turn them to pulp for recycling. What a perverse kind of palimpsest, what a crooked demonstration of tropical despotism of an obsolete regime, which despises any form of free Cuban culture. The boy had been postponing his destructive task on the books for quite some time, but it was not for sympathy with the author. His hesitation had purely financial motives. I bet the boy had surely traded even with his soul, selling it to Death. Now, this boy, this employee of Iroel Sanchez, asked JAAD for a dollar for each copy of the book he wanted to save. A difficult dilemma for a writer, indeed. How many books of his own could he save and how many can he bear to see crushed, without being able to do anything? JAAD had saved a few euros for his journey – the currency was quite new in the island at that time, you wouldn’t see it very often. So he bought almost half a thousand copies and paid the boy about 300 euros in total. He put the books in a box and carried them away to his flat on the second floor at the corner of San Miguel and Escobar streets. He hardly managed to find a taxi and get to the airport on time. In Madrid airport, his recent wife was awaiting him (they aren’t married any more). JAAD had left half of the copies of his only book (it still is), the worst-seller entitled “Adios a las almas”, in Havana. It seems that JAAD has always been between two waters, as if he were a Christ of totalitarian scams. Caught between carnal passion and passion for literature. On the one hand there was the mendacious State ready to do something wicked, spending Cuban people’s money on a futile endeavour of printing and recycling “questionable” books, without even bothering to present them to readers. On the other hand there was the pleasure as a substitute of death and life in the truth: escaping from fossilized Fidel and pretending to be an intellectual, far away from the raw material he was made of – Havana. Almost nobody in the world knows how the Cuban State recycles published books without even releasing them. I’d like to warn all famous Cuban writers not to be so confident about the sales of their books in the island. Leonardo Padura and Pedro Juan Gutierrez, for instance, may also have been censored without censoring. A decadent decade later, JAAD is still living in Spain, displaced and abandoned by the State and by God, suffering 1959 misfortunes without complaining. The storybook “Adios a las almas” is a rare and valuable thing that almost nobody has had the luck to get hold of. Hopefully we, Cuban readers both inside and outside Cuba, will bear in mind to save this author before it is too late. One euro per book will do. 14 February 2015 [1] https://orlandolunes.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/d44ed-1799032_10201612447140715_567219375_o.jpg [2] http://cubalog.eu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OLPL-y-JAAD.jpg Continue reading
In the same month that celebrities the like of Conan O'Brien and Paris Hilton partied in Havana and American diplomats worked feverishly to seal a diplomatic deal with the Castro dictatorship, the Cuban secret police went into overdrive in its... Continue reading
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