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The Mistakes of Raúl Castro

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 15 July 2017 – In his most recent
public speech before Parliament, General-President Raul Castro offered a
self-criticism about "political deviations" under which the private
sector and cooperatives are governed. "Mistakes are mistakes, and they
are mistakes… they are my mistakes in the first place, because I am a
part of this decision," he emphasized.

In the list of mistakes he didn't mention, he should have put in first
place the absence of a wholesale market to serve these forms of economic
management. It that option existed, honest entrepreneurs wouldn't have
to turn to the diversion of state resources to get raw materials and
equipment to allow them to produce goods and services in a profitable way.

The greatest advance in this direction has been opening shopping centers
were goods are sold "wholesale," meaning in large volume sacks or boxes,
but with the retail price per unit unchanged.

If, in addition, self-employed workers were allowed to legally import
and export commercially, with the required customs facilities, then
these forms of management would be on an equal footing with the state
companies, and be able to perform efficiently.

The underreporting of income to evade taxes is a problem that exists in
most countries where citizens must pay tribute to the state treasury. As
a rule, evasion of these payments is seen as a dishonest act where taxes
are fair, and as an act of self-defense where the state tries to suck
the blood out of entrepreneurs.

When governments have the vocation to grow the private sector, they
reduce taxes, whose only role is to redistribute wealth and increase the
financial capacity for social spending, but not to act as a drag to
reduce individuals' ability to grow and prosper.

Raúl Castro's most profound mistake, when he decided to expand
self-employment and the experiment of non-agricultural cooperatives, has
been to do so with the purpose of depriving the state of "non-strategic
activities, to generate jobs, deploy initiatives and contribute to the
efficiency of the national economy in the interest of the development of
our socialism."

This opportunistic vision, of using an element alien to the economic
model as the fuel to advance it, generates insurmountable
contradictions. An entrepreneur who starts a business is interested in
increasing his profits (according to Karl Marx) and growth. He does not
care that hiring workers will reduce unemployment and that their
particular efficiency will have repercussions on the country's
economy. Much less, that his good performance contributes to perfecting
a system that takes advantage of his success in a circumstantial way.

The entrepreneur dreams that in his country there are laws that protect
his freedom to do business, that his money is safe in the banks, and
that he has the right to import and export, to receive investments, to
open branches, to patent innovations without fear of unappealable
seizures or sudden changes in the rules of the game. Without fearing a
report will arrive on the president's desk detailing how many times he
has traveled abroad.

The entrepreneur would also like to be able to choose as a member of
parliament someone proposing such laws and defending the interests of
the private sector, which he does not see as a necessary evil, but as
the main engine to advance the country. Not understanding this is Raul
Castro's principal mistake.

Source: The Mistakes of Raúl Castro – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-mistakes-of-raul-castro/ Continue reading
Average Wages Rise but Nobody in Cuba Lives on Their Salary

14ymedio, Mario Penton and Luz Escobar, Miami and Havana, 14 July 2017 —
Ileana Sánchez is anxiously rummaging through her tattered wallet,
looking for some bills to buy a toy slate for her seven-year-old
granddaughter who dreams of becoming a teacher. She has had to save for
months to get the 20 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos, roughly $20 US) that
the gift costs, since her monthly salary as a state inspector is only
315 CUP (Cuban pesos), about 12 dollars.

At the end of June, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information
(ONEI) reported that the average salary at national level reached 740
CUP per month, slightly more than 29 CUC. However, the increase in the
average salary does not represent a real improvement in the living
conditions of the worker, who continues to be able to access many goods
and services only through remittances sent from family abroad, savings
and withdrawals.

"I do not know who makes that much money, nor what they base these
figures on, because not even with the wages my husband earns working in
food service for 240 CUP a month, along with my wages, do we get that
much," says Sanchez.

The ONEI explains that the average monthly salary is "the average amount
of direct wages earned by a worker in a month." The calculation excludes
earning in CUC. However, the average salary is inflated by the increases
in "strategic" sectors, such as has happened in healthcare, where the
pay has been more than doubled, while in other areas of the economy
wages have remained practically unchanged for over a decade.

"If you buy food you can not buy clothes, if you buy clothes you can not
eat, we live every day thinking about how to come up with ways survive,"
she says in anguish.

Most Cubans do not support themselves on what they earn in jobs working
for the state, which employs 80% of the country's workforce.

President Raúl Castro himself acknowledged that wages "do not satisfy
all the needs of the worker and his family" and, in one of his most
critical speeches about the national reality in 2013, he said that "a
part of society" had become accustomed to stealing from the state.

Sanchez, on the other hand, justifies the thefts and believes that the
"those who live better" are those who have access to dollars or those
who receive remittances. "Anyone who doesn't have a family member abroad
or is a leader, is out of luck," she says.

According to the economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago, when speaking of an
increase in the average wage, a distinction must be made between the
nominal wage, that is, the amount of money people receive, and the real
wage, adjusted for inflation.

A recent study published by the academic shows that although the nominal
wage has grown steadily in recent years, the real wage of a Cuban is 63%
lower than it was in 1989, when Cuba was subsidized by the Soviet Union
and the government had various social protection programs. At present,
the entire month's salary of a worker is only enough to buy 10.3 whole
chickens or 7.6 tanks of liquefied gas.

Among retirees and pensioners, the situation is worse. The elderly can
barely buy 16% of what a pension benefit would buy before the most
difficult years of the so-called Special Period – the years of economic
crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union – according to Mesa-Lago.

Or by another measure, spending an entire month's salary a worker can
only afford 19 hours of internet connection in the Wi-Fi zones enabled
by the state telecommunications monopoly, Etecsa, or 84.5 minutes of
local calls through cell phones.

To buy a two-room apartment in a building built in 1936 in the central
and coveted Havana neighborhood of Vedado a worker would need to save
their entire salary for 98 years, while a Soviet-made Lada car from the
time of Brezhnev would cost the equivalent of 52 years of work.

However, the island's real estate market has grown in recent years at
the hands of private sector workers who accumulate hard currency, or by
investments made by the Cuban diaspora. In remittances alone, more than
three billion dollars arrives in Cuba every year.

According to Ileana Sánchez, before this panorama many people look for
work in the areas related to state food services or administration where
they can steal from the state, or jobs that provide contact with
international tourists such as in the hotels.

Other coveted jobs in the private sphere are the paladares – private
restaurants – and renting rooms and homes to tourists where you can get
tips. The "search" (as the theft is called) has become a more powerful
incentive to accept a job than the salary itself.

Although, according to the document published by the ONEI, workers in
the tourism and defense sector earn 556 and 510 pesos on average, many
of them receive as a bonus a certain amount of CUC monthly that is not
reflected in the statistics, and they also have access to more expensive
food and electrical appliances than does the rest of the population.

Among the best paid jobs in CUP, in order of income, are those in the
sugar industry, with 1,246 CUP on a monthly basis, and in agriculture
with 1,218. Among the worst paid jobs according to the ONEI are those
working in education, with 533 CUP, and in culture with 511.

For Miguel Roque, 48, a native of Guantánamo, low wages in the eastern
part of the country are driving migration to other provinces. He has
lived for 12 years in the Nuclear City, just a few kilometers from
Juraguá, in the province of Cienfuegos, where the Soviet Union began to
build a nuclear plant that was never finished.

"The East is another world. If you work here, imagine yourself there. A
place stopped in time," he explains. Roque works as a bricklayer in
Cienfuegos although he aspires to emigrate to Havana in the coming
months, where "work abounds and more things can be achieved."

The provinces where average wages are highest, according to the ONEI,
are Ciego de Avila (816 CUP), Villa Clara (808 CUP) and Matanzas (806
CUP), while the lowest paid are Guantanamo (633 CUP) and Isla de la
Juventud (655 CUP).

"Salary increases in the east of the country are not enough to fill the
gaps with the eastern and central provinces," explains Cuban sociologist
Elaine Acosta, who believes that cuts in the social services budgets are
aggravating the inequalities that result from the wage differences.

"It is no coincidence that the eastern provinces have the lowest figures
on the Human Development Index," he asserts.

Source: Average Wages Rise but Nobody in Cuba Lives on Their Salary –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/average-wages-rise-but-nobody-in-cuba-lives-on-their-salary/ Continue reading
Un 'Google cubano' que responde a intereses del Gobierno
El buscador C.U.B.A. sigue sin ganar popularidad
Lunes, julio 17, 2017 | Eliseo Matos

LA HABANA, Cuba.- El buscador de contenidos C.U.B.A , una especie de
Google nacional para acceder a las publicaciones de la intranet en la
Isla, es manipulado por las autoridades cubanas de acuerdo a sus
intereses políticos.

C.U.B.A (Contenidos Unificados para Búsqueda Avanzada) surgió en julio
del 2015 con el objetivo de que quienes no tienen acceso a Internet
pudieran consultar las publicaciones y digitales bajo el dominio *.cu.

Sin embargo, pese a que los desarrolladores del sitio aseguran que "el
usuario puede tener una visión más amplia acerca de un mismo tema al
contar con varias fuentes de información y diferentes materiales de
consulta", la realidad muestra una versión parcializada de toda historia.

Al ingresar en el buscador, y poner términos como Fidel Castro,
socialismo, o revolución, todos los resultados llevan a enlaces de
páginas en las que se defiende ciegamente al régimen castrista.

En cambio, al colocar los términos Estados Unidos, cubanoamericanos y
otros semejantes, el buscador lleva al usuario a enlaces en los que se
habla peyorativamente de entidades norteamericanas y de opositores cubanos.

¿Está C.U.B.A a la altura de ser un Google cubano?

Según Lázaro Marimón, quien a menudo se conecta en un Joven Club de
Computación para navegar en Internet, "este buscador está muy limitado
pues siempre lleva a los mismos sitios nacionales, mientras que con
Google, Yahoo o Bing las posibilidades de encontrar mayor y mejor
información son más amplias".

La poca divulgación, aceptación o uso por parte de los usuarios de este
y otros proyectos se debe a que los mismos constituyen malas copias de
plataformas internacionales ya existentes.

Un ingeniero y profesor de la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas
(UCI), cuya identidad solicitó dejásemos en el anonimato, explicó a este
medio que "es sumamente difícil adaptar a las personas al uso de
plataformas como estas pues ya conocen otras más eficientes y atractivas
en la Internet".

Agrega que la ventaja de C.U.B.A está en el heho de que agrupa todos los
contenidos nacionales, pero que sigue siendo una copia bastante poco
atractiva. El informático de 28 años agrega que las copias forzadas no
perduran y que así como La Tendedera es una imitación de Facebook,
Reflejos es una copia de WordPress y La Mochila una semejanza del
paquete, este buscador nacional viene a ser un intento fracasado de
Google que pasará sin luces ni sombras".

Concluye argumentando que dichas imitaciones son un intento desesperado
del gobierno cubano por justificar la falta de acceso de Internet en la
Isla con "supuestas alternativas", así como para controlar más la
información a la que los usuarios acceden.

Source: Un 'Google cubano' que responde a intereses del Gobierno
CubanetCubanet -
https://www.cubanet.org/actualidad-destacados/un-google-cubano-que-responde-intereses-del-gobierno/ Continue reading
Discriminatory prices: how much do things cost?
FERNANDO DÁMASO | La Habana | 17 de Julio de 2017 - 12:05 CEST.

The establishment of Cuba's two different currencies (CUC and CUP), and
their different applications (1x24, 1x10, 1x2 and 1x1), according to the
Government's convenience, besides sowing economic chaos, also features
an immoral component for those affected by it.

Setting aside the unfair and all too well known problem of being paid
wages in CUP and having to make purchases in CUC, as well as the
exorbitant prices of products, there are other no less arbitrary
manifestations, such as the 12.5% ​​(10 in taxes and 2.5 for the
procedure) subtracted from every dollar when exchanged for CUC.

A Cuban citizen residing abroad must pay for his passport at a price
four to five times greater than that paid by a resident on the island,
which is 100 CUC, and must renew it every two years at the price of 20
CUC. That is, a passport, which is valid for only six years, actually
costs him 140 CUC.

The resident abroad, after adding up the initial price and the costs of
renewals, must pay much more. Moreover, those visiting the country must
pay for everything in CUC starting right at the airport – perhaps as a
subtle form of punishment for residing outside it, and as an indirect
recognition that those living abroad can afford it, as they enjoy better
economic conditions than in Cuba.

Visiting a museum has one price, in CUP, for Cubans, and the same
figure, but in CUC, for foreigners and Cubans living abroad. The Museum
of the Revolution, for example, costs Cubans 8 CUP, but 8 CUC (192 CUP)
for foreigners and Cubans living abroad; attending the 9:00 PM cannon
ceremony at the fortress of La Cabaña costs the same as the entrance to
the aforecited museum; entrance to the National Aquarium costs 10 CUP
and 10 CUC (240 CUP), in each case, while access to the Havana Zoo costs
2 CUP and 2 CUC (48 CUP), for the two respective groups.

These discriminatory prices also apply at many other cultural, musical,
and athletic facilities, and more. Foreigners are provided medical care
at clinics and hospitals that charge them in CUC. The most extreme
example of this occurs when, at a low-price, run-down, state-run
gastronomic establishment, the foreigner or Cuban resident living abroad
is asked to pay 2 CUC (48 CUP) for a simple glass of cola, which is sold
to a Cuban resident for 2 CUP.

Even at the Cementerio de Colón (Columbus Cemetery), access to which was
previously free for visitors, foreigners are now charged 5 CUC, even if
they do not form part of a group led by a tour guide. To ensure this
they are only allowed to enter through the main door on the Calle
Zapata, and they are barred access through any of the other three doors.

Foreigners, in addition to this monetary discrimination, face both
institutional and private tourist harassment, in the form of roaming
musicians, flower sellers, costumed characters; illegal vendors of
cigarettes, medicines and rum; managers of rooms, restaurants and
paladares; and even female and male prostitutes, who descend on them
like a swarm of flies.

There is certainly nothing wrong with charging for entrance to certain
sites of interest, in order to cover the costs of their maintenance, as
the gratuity policy, erroneously applied for years, proved a failure.
But equal prices must be applied, as is done in countries all over the
world, and not through this form of monetary apartheid.

This evil, like an epidemic, has spread to taxi drivers, whether state
or private, who charge everyone, for a trip to or from the airport (17
km), 25 CUCs during the day and 30 CUCs early in the morning, 15 o 20
CUC from Nuevo Vedado to Old Havana or vice versa, and the same if they
cross the 23rd Street bridge or any of the tunnels towards Municipio
Playa, or they travel to the eastern beaches (25 km). An individual taxi
trip to Varadero (140 km) costs 100 CUC and, if a group, 20 CUC per
person. In this last modality: Trinidad (335 km) costs 30 CUC, Viñales
(189 km) is 20 CUC and Cienfuegos (254) is 25 CUC.

This monetary chaos, established and encouraged by the authorities,
seems to be just one more of the many originalities of "prosperous and
efficient socialism", now also described as "sovereign, independent and
democratic", according to the latest official statements, despite the
discrimination between Cuban nationals living on the island, those
living off it, and foreign nationals.

This reality seriously calls into question the Cubans' proverbial
hospitality, much touted in the State's tourist propaganda.

Source: Discriminatory prices: how much do things cost? | Diario de Cuba
- http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1500285944_32613.html Continue reading
Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 June 2017 — Alejandro Marcel Mendivil, successful
entrepreneur, owner of El Litoral, a restaurant located at Malecon #161,
between L & K, and the restaurant Lungo Mare, located in 1ra Esquina C,
in the Vedado district, was arrested in Havana on June 8.

The reasons are not clear. Some claim that Marcel Mendivil is accused of
money laundering and ties to drug trafficking; and others claim that if
you are "noticed" in Cuba, it has a price.

"Alejandro is a young man hungry for challenges and pleasure. He has
money, social recognition, he helps all his neighbors, has ties to
diplomats as important as the ones in the American Embassy. He also has
dealings with high ranking Cuban military and maintains very important
access to the government elite. His ambitions go beyond those of common
entrepreneurs, and to that add that the fact that he has charisma. Isn't
that a lethal combination? Alejandro is no drug trafficker or money
launderer; he only tested power and ended up making it angry," says one
of the neighbors of his restaurant El Litoral, a retiree from the
Ministry of the Interior.

"It was early in the morning, says an employee, the sea was flat as a
plate when the operative began. Not even the Interior Ministry (MININT),
nor the state officials gave any explanations in order to close the
restaurant. They (the police) only told the employees that were present
that we had to leave the place and look for another job in another
restaurant because this closure was going to last. We were closed once,
when an issue with the alcohol, but Alejandro solved it".

"They got in and identified themselves as members of the State
Security's Technical Department of Investigations (DTI). They checked
the accounting, the kitchen, lifted some tiles from the floor and they
even took nails from the walls. An official with a mustache, who
wouldn't stop talking with someone on his BLU cellphone, was saying that
they would find evidence to justify the charge of drug trafficking."

"That looked like a theater, but with misleading script. It was not the
DTI. In fact, Alejandro was not jailed at 100 and Aldabo, but rather
held incommunicado in Villa Marista (a State Security prison). The whole
thing was a State Security operation to put a stop Alejandro, who was
earning money working and was becoming an attractive figure; in a
country such as this one, where leaders, all of them, are very weak."

The incident is timely to a discussion held during the extraordinary
session of the National Assembly of People's Power, which took place
last May 30, where the Cuban vice-president Marino Murillo asserted that
the new model of the socialist island "will not allow the concentration
of property or wealth even when we are promoting the existence of the
private sector."

According to sources consulted in the Prosecutor General of the Republic
of Cuba, there are plans for measures similar to those taken against
Marcel Mendivil for these wealthy and influential owners of a paladar
(private restaurant) located in Apartment 1, Malecon 157, between K&L,
Vedado. And also against another one in Egido 504 Alton, between Montes
& Dragones, Old Havana, in addition to two in Camaguey that were not
identified.

Translated by: LYD

Source: Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/prosperous-cuban-entrepreneur-arrested-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Cuba courted in diplomatic push on Venezuela crisis
Colombian president flies to Havana to seek support for regional
John Paul Rathbone in Miami

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's president, was set to fly to Cuba on
Sunday on a mission to convince Havana to support a regional diplomatic
push to staunch Venezuela's growing crisis, which has left 90 dead after
three months of protests.

The initiative, which Argentina and Mexico are understood to support, is
controversial but potentially effective as socialist Cuba is Venezuela's
strongest ally and its intelligence services are understood to work as
close advisers to Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's embattled president.

"Santos is one of the few people, perhaps the only one, who knows the
three key players well," said one person with an understanding of the
situation. "He knows Maduro and Venezuela, he knows Raúl Castro, and he
knows Donald Trump and the US state department."

The diplomatic initiative comes at a critical time for Venezuela, as Mr
Maduro moves to rewrite the Opec country's constitution to cement the
ruling Socialist party's control by installing Soviet-style communes. An
early gauge of the regional diplomacy's success will be if Mr Maduro
cancels the July 30 constitutional convention to create a legislative
superbody.

Venezuela's opposition on Sunday mounted a symbolic referendum against
the convention, which polls show three-quarters of Venezuelans oppose.
The convention is widely seen as a point of no return for Venezuela.

Early indications suggested the referendum was passing peacefully.
Opposition activists posted photographs on social media of long lines of
people outside impromptu polling stations, not only in Venezuela but in
towns and cities worldwide, from Australia to Malaysia to Saudi Arabia
and Italy, where Venezuelans living abroad were invited to vote.

Julio Borges, the head of the National Assembly, or parliament, told a
news conference in Caracas on Sunday he hoped the exercise would serve
as "a great earthquake, that shakes the conscience of those in power".

The government has played down the popular vote, which is non-binding.
It says the real election will come on July 30, although some analysts
have suggested there is still time for Mr Maduro to change his mind.

"To the extent that the [opposition referendum] prompts even
more . . . pushback . . .[it] could prompt [Maduro] to back down," Risa
Grais-Targow, analyst at Eurasia, the risk consultancy, wrote on Friday.
But "if Maduro does hold the vote on 30 July, it will represent a new
apex in the country's ongoing political crisis. It will also test the
loyalty of the security apparatus, as the opposition will likely
mobilise significant protests across the country".

Mr Santos has worked closely with Havana, Washington and Caracas over
the past six years as part of Colombia's peace process between the
government and the Farc guerrilla group. But his Cuba visit, part of a
long-schedule commercial mission to Havana, is also a sign of mounting
international exasperation over Venezuela.

At the recent G20 meeting in Hamburg, Mauricio Macri, the Argentine
president, backed by Mariano Rajoy, Spanish prime minister, implored
other heads of state to "take note of the situation in Venezuela, where
they do not support human rights".

The crisis in Venezuela has drained the country's foreign reserves with
figures released on Friday showing the central bank's coffers had
dropped below $10bn for the first time in 15 years.

The fall in reserves is likely to rekindle fears that Caracas might
default on its debt obligations this year. The state and its oil
company PDVSA are due to make capital and interest repayments of $3.7bn
in the fourth quarter.

Despite widespread concern over Venezeula's plight, there has been
little concrete action from other countries besides the US and Brazil.
Washington has placed targeted financial sanctions on some Venezuelan
officials while Brazil suspended sales of tear gas to the Venezuelan
government.

Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, last month said the US was
building a "robust list" of other individuals to sanction. A more
extreme US policy option that has also been discussed in Washington is
to ban sales of Venezuelan oil into the US market.

US refiners have lobbied the White House against including crude imports
in any broader potential sanctions package as Venezuela is the US's
second-biggest foreign supplier to the gulf coast. A ban could also have
an impact on domestic fuel prices.

Cuba would make an unusual ally in an internationally-mediated attempt
to broker peace in Venezuela as it receives subsidised oil from Caracas
in return for medical services. Relations with Washington have also
cooled after Mr Trump partially rolled back the US rapprochement in
June, courting support from conservative Cuban-American legislators in
Washington.

But Havana could usefully offer safe haven exile for Mr Maduro's senior
officials who, with a bolt hole to flee to, would no longer need to
fight to the last.

Additional reporting Gideon Long in Bogotá

Source: Cuba courted in diplomatic push on Venezuela crisis -
https://www.ft.com/content/0bcdff72-6a07-11e7-bfeb-33fe0c5b7eaa Continue reading
Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 14 June 2017 — What you lose last is hope. And those who
have plans to immigrate to the United States maintain bulletproof optimism.

Close to a small park in Calzada street, next to Rivero's funeral home,
dozens of restless people await their appointment for the consular
interview at the American Embassy located at the Havana's Vedado district.

Ronald, a mixed-race man of almost six feet, requested a tourist visa to
visit his mother in Miami. Before going to the embassy he bathed with
white flowers and sounded a maraca gourd before the altar of the Virgen
de la Caridad, Cuba's Patron Saint, wishing that they would approve his
trip.

Outside the diplomatic site, dozens of people await restlessly. Each one
of them has a story to tell. Many have had their visas denied up to five
times while some are there for the first time with the intent to get an
American visa; they rely on astrology or some other witchcraft.

Daniela is one of those people. "Guys, the astral letter says that Trump
instructed the embassy people to give the biggest possible number of
visas," she says to others also waiting.

Rumors grow along the line of those who read in social media — never in
the serious news — that Trump, in his next speech in Miami, will reverse
the reversal of the "wet foot-dry foot" policy.

In a park on Linea Street with Wi-Fi internet service, next to the
Camilo Cienfuegos clinic, two blocks from the United States Embassy,
Yaibel comments with a group of internet users that a friend who lives
in Florida told him that Trump was going to issue open visa to all Cubans.

The most ridiculous theories circulate around the city among those who
dream to migrate. The facts or promises made by Trump to close the
faucet of immigration mean nothing to them.

Guys like Josue holds on to anything that makes him think that his luck
will change. "That's the gossip going on. Crazy Trump will open all
doors to Cubans… Dude we are the only country in Latin America that
lives under a dictatorship. If they give us carte blanch three or four
million people will emigrate. The Mariel Boatlift will be small in
comparison. That's the best way to end this regime. These people — the
government — will be left alone here"… opines the young man.

In a perfect domino effect, some people echo the huge fantasy. "Someone
told me that they were going to offer five million working visas to
Cubans. The immigrants would be located in those states where they need
laborers. The people would need to come back in around a year, since the
Cuban Adjustment Act will be eliminated," says Daniela, who doesn't
remember where she heard such a delirious version.

Now, let's talk seriously. If something Donald Trump has showed, aside
from being superficial and erratic, it is being a president profoundly
anti-immigrant. But more than a few ordinary Cubans want to assert the
contrary.

The ones who wish to immigrate are the only segment that awaits with
optimism good news from Trump. The spectrum of opinion of the rest of
the Cubans ranges from indifference to concern.

In the local dissidence sector, the ones who believed that Trump was
going to open his wallet or go back to Obama's strategy towards dissent,
became more pessimistic after the White House announced a decrease of
$20 million dollars for civil society programs.

"Those groups that obtained money thanks to the Department of State are
pulling their hair out. But the ones that receive financing from the
Cuban exiles are not that unprotected," indicates a dissident who
prefers to remain anonymous.

The Palace of the Revolution in Havana is probably the place where
Trump's pronouncements are awaited with the greatest impatience. The
autocracy, dressed in olive green, has tried to be prudent with the
magnate from New York.

Contrary to Fidel Castro's strategy, which at the first sign of change
would prepare a national show and lengthy anti-imperialist speeches,
Raul's regime has toned that down as much as possible.

In certain moments they have criticized him. However, without
offensiveness and keeping the olive branch since the government is
betting on continuing the dialogue with the United Estates, to lift the
embargo, to receive millions of gringo tourists and to begin business
with American companies.

Official analysts are waiting for Trump to act from his entrepreneur
side. The autocracy is offering business on a silver plate, as long as
it is with state companies.

According to a source that works with Department of Foreign trade, "The
ideal would be to continue the roadmap laid out by Obama. With the
situation in Venezuela and the internal economic crisis, the official
wish is that relations with the United States deepen and millions in
investments begins. The government will give in, as long as it doesn't
feel pressured with talk about Human Rights.

"I hope that Trump is pragmatic. If he opens fire and returns to the
scenario of the past, those here will climb back into the trenches.
Confrontation didn't yield anything in 55 years. However, in only two
years of Obama's policy, aside from the panic of many internal leaders,
there was a large popular acceptance," declares the source.

In Havana's streets Trump is not appreciated. "That guy is insane. Dense
and a cretin and that's all. If he sets things back, to me it's all the
same. The majority of ordinary Cubans don't benefit from the agreements
made on December 17. Of course, I think it was the government's fault,"
says Rey Angel, worker.

And the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations and the extension of
Obama's policy to get closer to the the island's private workforce,
caused more notice in the press than concrete changes.

The people consulted do not believe that Trump will reduce the amount of
money sent in remittances by Cubans overseas, or the number of trips
home by Cubans living in the United States. "If he does, it will affect
many people who live off the little money and things that family living
in the North (United States) can send", says a lady waiting in line at
Western Union.

The rupture of the Obama strategy will decidedly affect the military
regime. And it looks like the White House will fire its rockets against
the flotation line. But anything can happen. Trump is just Trump.

Translated by: LYD

Source: Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals / Iván García – Translating Cuba
-
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-awaits-new-trump-proposals-ivan-garcia-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Familia de violinista que tocó para Trump niega acusación de Cuba de que
su padre mató a Frank País
LUIS DE LA PAZ
Especial/el Nuevo Herald

Durante la visita del presidente Donald Trump a Miami el 16 de junio, el
violinista cubano Luis Haza interpretó el himno de Estados Unidos en el
emblemático teatro Manuel Artime de La Pequeña Habana. Este hecho hizo
que el Presidente mencionara la masacre de la Loma de San Juan en
Santiago de Cuba, el 12 de enero de 1959, en la que fueron fusiladas 71
personas, apenas 12 días después del triunfo de la llamada revolución
cubana.

Entre los fusilados estuvo Bonifacio Haza Grasso, comandante de la
Policía Nacional en Santiago de Cuba en los días finales del gobierno de
Fulgencio Batista y padre del violinista invitado al encuentro con Trump.

Como respuesta, el gobierno cubano a través del sitio Cubadebate,
plataforma de propaganda, reaccionó airado minimizando el virtuosismo
del violinista y señalando que Trump no mencionó en su discurso que "el
padre de Luis, Bonifacio Haza Grasso, fue uno de los asesinos del joven
líder revolucionario Frank País". Este 30 de julio se cumplen 60 años de
la muerte de País, líder del Movimiento 26 de Julio –y su jefe de acción
y sabotaje en todo el país–, en las calles santiagueras, a los 22 años.

Cubadebate basa su afirmación en un texto aparecido en ese mismo portal
en agosto del 2014, firmado por el contralmirante retirado José Luis
Cuza Téllez, a quien mencionan como compañero de Frank País. En el
artículo se apunta claramente que el teniente coronel José María Salas
Cañizares, supervisor de la Policía Nacional, ejecutó personalmente a
Frank País y a su compañero, Raúl Pujol.

"Golpearon brutalmente a Pujol, que cayó inconsciente […] a adonde fue
Salas y le ametralló toda la espalda con una ráfaga larga. Se viró para
donde estaba Frank y le tiró los últimos proyectiles que le quedaban",
escribe el Contraalmirante. De manera que la acusación de Cubadebate
queda desmentida en sus propias palabras. Sólo se afirma en el trabajo
que Bonifacio Haza Grasso estaba en el lugar.


El líder del Movimiento 26 de Julio Frank País.
Sin embargo, otro de los hijos del comandante Haza Grasso, Bonifacio L.
Haza, afirma que su padre amaneció enfermo el día de la muerte de Pujol
y País. "Mi padre amaneció enfermo con un ataque a la vesícula […] lo sé
porque yo estaba allí, y mi madre nos decía que guardáramos silencio
para que mi padre pudiera dormir hasta que se le pasara el dolor […].
Ese día nos llegó la noticia que Frank País había sido muerto", dijo.

En el 2012, Bonifacio L. Haza, que reside en Vero Beach, en el centro de
la Florida, publicó el libro de memorias Escritos sobre la arena, donde
detalla muchos de los episodios en la vida de su padre, y en particular
sobre la ejecución en la Loma de San Juan. Allí, sentencia: "Algunos
fueron ejecutados por el solo hecho de haber pertenecido o colaborado
con el Ejército y la Policía Nacional".

Como líder del movimiento 26 de Julio, Frank País tenía la misión de
articular las acciones de sabotaje, por lo que usaba una pistola STAR
calibre 38 para sus acciones. Estos datos corresponden al artículo del
contralmirante Cuza Téllez, lo que hacía a País un hombre peligroso y
buscado por las autoridades.

En el libro se destaca que el comandante Haza Grasso estuvo al frente de
la Policía Nacional en Santiago de Cuba mientras el ejército combatía a
los guerrilleros en la Sierra Maestra. "Su trabajo era mantener el orden
público, no pelear contra los alzados", señala su hijo, quien describe a
su padre como un hombre que "no fue extremista y no estuvo de acuerdo
con el golpe del 10 de marzo de 1952". Luego añade que su padre ejerció
como intermediario para propiciar las conversaciones entre el Ejército
Nacional y el Ejército Rebelde. Algunas fotos de la época muestran a
Fidel y Raúl Castro, conversando con Haza Grasso, el 1ro. de enero de
1959 en El Caney "para ultimar la entrada de los rebeldes que habían
proclamado la victoria", tras la huida de Batista hacia República
Dominicana.

Para Bonifacio L. Haza, "la masacre de los 71 no fue un hecho fortuito.
La evidencia sugiere que esto fue un acto premeditado, planeado, y
preparado con anterioridad"; añadiendo: "la trinchera de unos 40 metros
de largo, donde caían los cuerpos de los ejecutados, fue cavada antes de
que fueran condenados a muerte". Así lo resalta en su libro.

El sacerdote Jorge Bez Chabebe que asistió en sus horas finales a
algunos de los fusilados en la Loma de San Juan, y autor del libro Dios
me hizo cura, le expresó al periodista Pedro Corzo, en una entrevista,
que al llegar al sitio de las ejecuciones se encontró que habían abierto
"un hueco largo y profundo", y que el capitán Fernando Vecino Alegret,
que luego ejerció como ministro de Educación Superior, estaba al frente
de las ejecuciones. En su testimonio menciona que intentó intervenir
para evitar la masacre, pero fue inútil. El propio Vecino le dijo que si
no los ejecutaba, lo iban a fusilar a él.

El periodista Luis González Lalondry apunta que Haza Grasso como jefe de
la policía de Santiago de Cuba "era muy blando con los rebeldes y no
seguía las órdenes que recibía de La Habana", por eso enviaron a
comandar la zona a Salas Cañizares. Lalondry añade: "Bonifacio era una
persona muy decente, una bella persona, pero eso lo hacía bastante débil".

Quién ametralló a Frank País
Lalondry afirma que ni Haza Grasso, ni Salas Cañizares ejecutaron a
Frank País. Señala directamente al sargento Manuel "El Gallego" Fabelo,
que era el ametrallador de Salas Cañizares. "Eso me lo confesó el propio
Fabelo aquí en Miami durante un encuentro en 1961", sentencia Lalondry,
para luego añadir: "Frank País y su gente ponían bombas, petardos,
mataban a policías y guardias rurales para quitarles las armas. Eran
gentes muy violentas, por eso cuando supieron dónde estaban escondidos
los cercaron. En medio de todo aquel operativo, Fabelo lo vio y le
disparó varias veces". Lalondry añade que durante el testimonio del
ametrallador de Salas Cañizares, éste le dijo que no supo a quién había
matado hasta que la noticia corrió. Fabelo murió hace algún tiempo en
Los Ángeles, California.

Lalondry describe a Frank País como "un asesino completo, un hombre que
era maestro, pero que Fidel Castro lo convirtió en un monstruo". Durante
la convulsa época previa al triunfo de la revolución castrista, el
periodista se desempeñaba como comentarista del programa de radio La
juventud con Batista, en Santiago de Cuba, por lo que personalmente
Frank dio la orden de eliminarlo.

"Frank País quería matarme porque, decía que yo le estaba haciendo mucho
daño y había que parar ese programa de radio", dijo Lalondry, detallando
varios intentos de asesinato. "En una ocasión me siguieron varias
cuadras. Yo apuré el paso y ellos hicieron lo mismo. Logré subir a una
guagua y vi a uno de ellos haciendo un gesto con la mano llevándosela al
cuello, indicándome que me matarían. Eso lo denuncié en mi programa de
radio".

El Movimiento 26 de Julio tanto en la Sierra Maestra, donde estaban los
rebeldes, como en el clandestinaje, que encabezaba País, motivaron actos
violentos, que al salir Batista de Cuba le abrió las puertas a Fidel
Castro para una serie de juicios sumarísimos y ejecuciones, en muchos
casos, arbitrarias.

Un fusilamiento injusto
Uno de las ejecuciones injustas parece ser la de Bonifacio Haza Grasso.
"Él fue Jefe de la Policía, pero al triunfar la revolución "se paseó por
las calles de Santiago con un brazalete del Movimiento 26 de Julio en su
brazo", apunta Lalondry. Aun así, hubo un giro inesperado y Haza Grasso
es uno de los fusilados en la Loma de San Juan. "Haza Grasso fue el
último que fusilaron, cerca de las 9 de la mañana", expresa Lalondry
citando al padre Chabebe, presente en las ejecuciones.

Bonifacio hijo confirma que su padre recibió el brazalete del 26 de
Julio. "Yo no recuerdo cuándo exactamente se lo dieron, pero sí lo tenía
atado al brazo", recuerda, para añadir que Raúl Castro "ascendió a mi
padre a Ayudante del Jefe del Ejército, cargo que desempeñó por 8 días,
vistiendo el uniforme azul de policía, pero con el brazalete del 26 de
Julio".

Entonces, qué motivó el giro para deshacerse de Haza Grasso, si de
alguna manera había asumido el lado de los triunfantes rebeldes. Su hijo
afirma: "Mi padre fue usado por Fidel y Raúl como puente para proyectar
una imagen inicial democrática. Cuando ya no lo necesitaron, decidieron
hacerle un número 8, acusarlo y fusilarlo. Sencillamente a mi padre lo
fusilaron porque no lo necesitaban más. Lo engañaron y él cayó en la
trampa".

Tanto Bonifacio L. Haza como el padre Chabebe y Lalondry, señalan
directamente a Raúl Castro como la persona que dio la orden de
fusilarlo. "Hubo un juicio donde el chofer de un carro fúnebre acusó a
Haza Grasso de la muerte de cuatro jóvenes rebeldes", manifiesta
Lalondry, algo que corrobora Haza. "Tras ese juicio, Raúl llama a Haza
Grasso al Moncada, donde lo humilla públicamente y le arranca el
brazalete del 26 de Julio del brazo", concluye Lalondry.

Bonifacio L. Haza está convencido que el Che, Fidel y Raúl tenían un
plan secreto para llevar a Cuba al comunismo, por lo que mientras les
convino, utilizaron a ciertas personas, entre ellas a su padre, para
mantener engañado al pueblo, mientras consolidaban su propósito.

Ante la pregunta de por qué desempolvar todo esto seis décadas después,
Haza piensa que como una respuesta desesperada a las palabras del
Presidente en Miami: "el discurso del presidente Trump, llamando la
atención sobre la masacre de los 71 en la Loma de San Juan, puso al
régimen en la disyuntiva de ignorar lo que dijo Trump, o arremeter
contra la memoria de nuestro padre por la presencia en el acto de mi
hermano Luis. Optó por la segunda, con todo tipo de calumnias, para
desviar la atención de los crímenes de Raúl Castro", concluye.

Source: Familia de violinista que tocó para Trump niega acusación de
Cuba de que su padre mató a Frank País | El Nuevo Herald -
http://www.elnuevoherald.com/opinion-es/trasfondo/article161558933.html Continue reading
Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump
- Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on
Trump's June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
- He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying
his country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue
The Associated Press

Cuban President Raul Castro denounced President Donald Trump's tougher
line on relations with Havana on Friday, calling it a setback but
promising to continue working to normalize ties between the former Cold
War rivals.

Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on Trump's
June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
achieved by then-President Barack Obama. They contained echoes of the
harsh rhetoric of the past.

"Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through
coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail," Cuba's
president told legislators.

He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying his
country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue.

Surrounded by Cuban-American exiles and Cuban dissidents in Miami, Trump
announced last month that the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S.
travelers to the island and ban any payments to the military-linked
conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry. He
said the U.S. would consider lifting those and other restrictions only
after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal
changes including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of
assembly and holding free elections.

Trump's policy retained elements of Obama's reforms but tightened
restrictions on travel and employed harsh rhetoric on human rights.

On Friday in Washington, the Trump administration said it was suspending
for another six months a provision of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The State Department said it told Congress that it will keep suspending
a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that deals with property seized from
Americans. The provision lets Americans use U.S. courts to sue
non-American companies that operate and deal with property confiscated
after Fidel Castro's revolution.

Speaking to the National Assembly, Castro called the Trump
administration's policies a "setback," though he reiterated his
government's position that it would work to normalize relations with
Washington.

Earlier in the legislative session, Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas
announced that Cuba's economy is growing again after a dip last year.

Cabrisas said the economy grew around 1 percent in the first half of
2017. That puts GDP growth on track to hit 2 percent for the year.

The government said the economy shrank last year by 1 percent amid
falling support from troubled Venezuela. That was the first decrease
reported in two decades. Cabrisas said that instability in the supply of
Venezuelan oil weighs on the country but tourism, construction,
transportation and communications were growing.

Foreign media did not have access to the National Assembly session.

Source: Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump -
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/15/cubas-raul-castro-dismisses-harsher-us-tone-under-trump.html Continue reading
Parliamentary Karaoke

14ymedio, Generation y, Yoani Sanchez, 14 July 2017 — Wednesday
night. The neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado is sliding into the
darkness. Catchy music resonates in the Hotel Tulipán where
parliamentarians are staying during the current regular session. They
dance, drink under the sparkling lights of the disco ball and sing
karaoke. They add their voices to a programmed score, the exercise they
know how to do best.

With only two sessions a year, the Cuban legislative body gathers to
stuff the population full of dates, figures, promises to keep, and
critiques of the mismanagement of bureaucrats and administrators. A
monotonous clamor, where every speaker tries to show themselves more
"revolutionary" than the last, launching proposals with an exhausting
generality or a frightening lack of vision.

Those assembled for this eighth legislature, like their colleagues
before them, have as little ability to make decisions as does any
ordinary Cuban waiting at the bus stop. They can raise their voice and
"talk until they're blue in the face," and enumerate the inefficiencies
that limit development in their respective districts, but from there to
concrete solutions is a long stretch.

On this occasion, the National Assembly has turned its back on pressures
that, from different sectors, demand new legislation regarding the
electoral system, audiovisual productions, management of the press, same
sex marriage and religious freedoms, among others. With so many urgent
issues, the deputies have only managed to draft the "Terrestrial Waters
Bill."

Does this mean that they need to meet more often to fix the country's
enormous problems? The question is not only one of the frequency or
intensity in the exercise of their functions, but also one of freedom
and power. A parliament is not a park bench where you go to find
catharsis, nor a showcase to demonstrate ideological fidelity. It should
represent the diversity of a society, propose solutions and turn them
into laws. Without this, it is just a boring social chinwag.

The parliamentarians will arrive on Friday, the final day of their
regular session, in front of the microphones in the Palace of
Conventions with the same meekness that they approached the karaoke
party to repeat previously scripted choruses. They are going to sing to
music chosen by others, move their lips to that voice of real power that
emerges from their throats.

Source: Parliamentary Karaoke – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/parliamentary-karaoke/ Continue reading
Trump administration again suspends a part of Cuba embargo
By JOSH LEDERMAN Published July 14, 2017 Markets Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is suspending for another six
months a provision of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The State Department says it has told Congress that it will keep
suspending a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that deals with property
seized from Americans. The provision lets Americans use U.S. courts to
sue non-American companies that operate and deal with property
confiscated after Fidel Castro's revolution.

It's the latest sign that President Donald Trump is not fully reversing
President Barack Obama's opening of relations with Cuba. Last month
Trump announced he was rolling back some changes, but he left others in
place.

The law has been in place since 1996. Recent U.S. presidents have
repeatedly suspended the lawsuit provision for six months at a time.

Source: Trump administration again suspends a part of Cuba embargo | Fox
Business -
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/14/trump-administration-again-suspends-part-cuba-embargo.html Continue reading
Cuba says GDP recovers, up about 1 percent so far in 2017
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HAVANA — Jul 14, 2017, 5:59 PM ET

The Cuban government said Friday that the economy is growing again
following a decline last year that was the first drop reported in two
decades.

Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas said at the opening session of the
National Assembly that Cuba's GDP grew just over 1 percent in the first
six months of 2017 and is on track to hit an estimated 2 percent for the
full year.

The rebound came despite the economic crisis in Venezuela, which
provides oil and other support to the island. The government said Cuba's
economy shrank last year by 1 percent amid falling help from Venezuela,
which is struggling with triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages
of food and other basic goods. The decrease was the first reported by
Cuba in years.

Cuban media quoted Cabrisas as telling the assembly that instability in
the supply of Venezuelan oil weighs on the country's economy but
tourism, construction, transportation and communications are all growing.

Foreign media were not allowed to attend the session, which was presided
over by President Raul Castro.

Some growth in tourism is due to the normalization of relations with the
U.S. that was started by President Barack Obama and is now threatened
under President Donald Trump.

Source: Cuba says GDP recovers, up about 1 percent so far in 2017 - ABC
News -
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/cuba-gdp-recovers-percent-2017-48647002 Continue reading
Higher Taxes / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 6 July 2017 — It is no secret among Cubans that their
government is inept and inefficient. Fifty-eight years of failure attest
to this.

With the emergence of self-employment, however, officials have found a
way to fill the state's coffers without having to devote resources or
effort to it. It's called taxes.

They have devised (and continue to devise) taxes of all kinds to drain
citizens who have decided to work for themselves rather than depend on
the state.

The recent tax increase on the sale of homes is one example and there is
talk of increases in other areas as well. A contract was recently
announced in which homeowners would provide rooms to Public Health
clients in order to care for those who are ill or need medical attention.

As logic would have it, it would be at the homeowner's expense even
though every medical tourist's insurance pays for it. Never in Cuban
history, even during the colonial era, has there been a government that
exploited its citizens more than this one.

No one disputes the need for taxes as a contribution to the maintenance
of the state and its social services. But the assumption is that the
state will create wealth and not use taxes as its main source of income.
There is also no entity or authority that exercises control on citizens'
behalf over the expenses of the state. The so-called Comptroller General
of the Republic exercises this role only over her own ministry, not over
the president or vice-presidents.

According to the legislation passed last month at a special session of
the National Assemby, "the accumulation of property and weath by
citizens is not and will not be permitted."

Fortunately for the citizens, the laws are made by men, and when they
disappear most of the time the laws disappear as well. Nothing is
eternal. To believe otherwise shows a lack of intelligence.

Source: Higher Taxes / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/higher-taxes-fernando-dmaso/ Continue reading
How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela / Iván García

Iván García, 11 July 2017 — After painting the facades of several
buildings along 10 de Octobre street, the workers of the brigade shelter
from the terrifying heat in doorways, eating lunch, having a smoke or
simply chatting.

These days, in Havana's La Vibora neighborhood, in the area between Red
Square and the old Bus Terminal, there is a hive of workers dedicated to
converting the one-time terminal into a cooperative taxi base.

The work includes asphalting the surrounding streets and a quick splash
of cheap paint on the buildings along the street.

"They say that Raul Castro or Miguel Diaz-Canel is going to come to
visit the Luis de La Puente Uceda Limited Access Surgical Hospital and
to inaugurate the taxi base," says a worker sweating buckets.

When they finish talking about the poor performance of the national
baseball team against an independent league in Canada, a group of
workers comment on the street protest that have been going on for more
than a month, led by the opposition in Venezuela, and how much the
economy and energy picture of Cuba could be affected.

Yander, in dark blue overalls, shrugs his shoulders and responds, "I
don't follow politics much. But I hear on the news is that place
(Venezuela) is on fire. According to what I understood, the Venezuela
right is burning everything in their path. They're as likely to burn a
market as they are some guy for being a chavista [supporter of Maduro's
government]. If Maduro falls off his horse, things are going to get ugly
in Cuba. The oil comes from there

Opinions among the workers, students, food workers consulted about
Venezuela, demonstrates a profound disinterest in political information
among a wide sector of the citizenry.

Younger people are active in social networks. But they pass on political
content. Like Susana, a high school student, who with her smartphone is
taking a selfie which eating chicken breasts in a recently opened
private care, to post later on Instagram. When asked about the Venezuela
challenge, she answers at length.

"You can't fight with a political grindstone. What are you going to
resolve with that. You're not going to change the world and you can make
problems for yourself. I heard about Venezuela on [the government TV
channel] Telesur, but I don't know why they started the protests. Nor do
I know why there have been so many deaths. The only thing I know is that
Cuba is strongly tied to Venezuela by oil. And if the government
changes, if those who come, if they are capitalists, they will stop
sending us oil. So I want Maduro to remain in power," explains Susana.

Not many on the island analyze the crisis in Venezuela in a wider
context. The South American nation is trapped between the worst
government management, a socialist model that doesn't work, and the
hijacking of democratic institutions.

Ordinary Cubans don't know to what point the Castro regime is involved
in the design of the the local and continentals strategies of Chavismo.
Opinion in Cuba is fueled by a myopic official press and Telesur, a
propagandistic television channel created with the petrodollars of Hugo
Chavez and Rafael Correa.

Except for specialists and people who look for information in other
sources, most of the Cuban population believes that the violence
originates with the opposition, classified as terrorists and fascists by
the official media.

They know nothing of the fracture within chavismo itself, as in the case
of Attorney General Luisa Ortega or the former Interior Minister Miguel
Torres. Nor that at least 23 of the 81 who have died in more than ninety
days of protests, was due the excessive use of violence by the
Bolivarian National Guard.

Alexis, a private taxi driver, believes that the state press sweeps
under the carpet any news that shows the brutality of the chavista
regime. His concern is that "if they're fucked, we're fucked too. Man,
then the blackouts will start, the factory closures, and eating twice a
day will be a luxury. There's no certainty about the origins of what is
happening in Venezuela. I suppose the Venezuelans would like to free
themselves from a system like ours. If they manage to do it then Cuba
isn't going to know what to do with itself."

A wide segment of Cubans think that if the street protests in Venezuela
end up deposing Maduro, given the domino effect, hard times will return
to the Cuban economy.

"These people (the regime) have never done things well. That is why they
are always passing the hat to survive or live off favors from others. We
have not been able to made the earth produce. Everything we have we
export. We are a leech. Thanks to the Venezuelan oil and the dollars
that come from relatives in Miami, the country has not sunk into
absolute misery," points our Geraldo, an elderly retiree.

Geraldo clarifies, "It's not out of selfishness, political blindness or
love of Maduro that many Cubans are betting on the continuity of
chavismo. It's pure survival instinct."

And the fact is that the economy has not yet hit bottom. Statistics and
predictions forecast new adjustments and an economic setback if there is
a change of government in Miraflores Palace.

Cuba is still not at the level of Haiti, the poorest country in Latin
American, but it is headed that way. As the former USSR was, Venezuela
is our lifeline.

Source: How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/how-cubans-see-the-crisis-in-venezuela-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
The Death of a Cuban Doctor in Ciudad Tiuna, Caracas / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 19 June 2017 — Teresa Sulien Castillo Sotto, a
27-year-old Cuban doctor born in Bayamo, died due to multiple fractures
and traumatic brain injury on the night of Tuesday 13 June, at 10:20 PM,
after jumping off the 8th floor of the C-05 building of Ciudad Tiuna in
Tiuna Fort.

"It's a delicate issue that they are treating with great tact and major
caution," comments a member of the National Coordinating Department
(COOR), which, along with the National Directorate of the Cuban Medical
Mission in Venezuela (MMCVEN), located in the Crillon Hotel. "We are
talking about the death of a cooperating doctor within a military
community where the only ones who enter are Cubans who are linked to
some military person, people with overwhelming confidence, cases that
call for control, or some of the collaborators who are related to Cuban
leaders."

Tiuna Fort is an enormous military installation, the most important in
Caracas, and also in Venezuela which, among other things, is the
headquarters of the Ministry of People's Power, the General Command of
the Army, the official residence of the vice president, and sports,
cultural and financial facilities. It was in this urban complex where,
in apartment 10-F, the young Cuban doctor lived.

Several officials from the Homicide Division of the Scientific, Penal
and Criminal Investigations Corps (CICPC) came to the scene of the
tragedy. The prevailing narrative is that Teresa made the tragic
decision to kill herself because she found, on the cellphone of her
husband, also a Cuban doctor, compromising text messages involving
another woman. However, on her personal profile on Facebook, the
deceased young woman appears as single.

That night, troops from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service
(SEBIN) and Cuban officials who have not been identified, put Teresa's
body in a van, took it to the morgue and did not allow members of the
CICPC to preserve the scene of the tragedy nor to collect expert evidence.

The next day, Wednesday, three Cuban citizens came to the morgue in cars
with official plates with the intention to accelerate the paperwork to
collect the cadaver of the Cuban doctor. They accomplished this the same
day and at four in the afternoon, after establishing contact with high
level officials of the Bolivarian government and the representatives
from the Cuban embassy.

"Normally what happens," my interlocutor continued to explain, "they
close the box in the morgue and send it to Maiquetia [the International
Airport]. There, they finish the paperwork, and with the first flight
they head to Cuban, accompanied by two officials dispatching the coffin
and then the family members. In extreme or strange situations, the
deceased is simply buried and they don't even allow them to hold a funeral."

"What they don't want to reveal," my informer breathes deeply and adds,
in a tone appropriate to the shocking confession, "is that Teresa
maintained a close relationship with a military man, an official with
the National Guard who was captured by SEBIN for being involved with the
right and the opposition marches against chavismo. They used the girl as
an informer, she couldn't refuse, because it would mean cancelling her
mission, expulsion, threats and a ton of other things. She felt cornered
with no alternative. She couldn't do anything other than betray her
friend and, in an act of honor, with a certain touch of ethics, she
committed suicide, or she was pushed to suicide."

The body is already in Cuba, having left on Thursday the 15th in an A320
airplane of Cuban Aviation on the Caracas-Havana route.

Source: The Death of a Cuban Doctor in Ciudad Tiuna, Caracas / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-death-of-a-cuban-doctor-in-ciudad-tiuna-caracas-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
TWO CUBAN PLAYERS DESERTING THE TEAM JUNIOR
magictr | July 14, 2017 | News
Stéphane Bouchard
Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

JONQUIÈRE | Two players from the cuban national team junior tour against
the teams of major League baseball junior élite du Québec, missing since
Tuesday.

These two players have left of their own accord, in the night of Monday
to Tuesday. On the morning of 11 July, the two players were no more in
their room.

According to what we have learned, does anyone know where are the
baseball players, who have been missing after a game against Buffalo,
Saint-Eustache. It is suspected that both players have left their team
to not return to live in Cuba.

"No detail "

The junior national team of Cuba was yesterday at the Stade
Richard-Desmeules, where she faced the Travelers from Jonquière, in the
ninth match of this series of 15.

Met on the premises, the secretary of the road for the tour of cuban and
communications director for the major League baseball junior élite du
Québec (LBJEQ), Antoine Desrosiers, did not want to comment on this
situation, claiming to have "no detail" on this story.

The president of the league, Rodger Brulotte, preferred him not to
comment on the departure of two cuban players. "Our role at the LBJEQ is
to promote the sport of baseball. We do not interfere in political
issues ",-he said. Mr. Brulotte was in the hands of the leader of the
team of Cuba to explain the desertion of the two players.

Security measures

Maxim Lamarche, director general of Baseball Quebec, has not returned
our calls yesterday evening.

The leaders of the team cuban, however, had already anticipated the
possibility that a player might want to go without leaving traces, by
putting in place special measures of surveillance and security.

For example, it was forbidden to go to the locker room alone. The
players were accompanied at all times and must abide by clear guidelines
as to their comings and goings.

Student residences

During their stay, the players were accommodated in the student
residences of the college Ahuntsic.

The tour of the cuban national team has the goal of promoting the sport
of baseball throughout the province, and to "continue to weave links
between Cuba and Canada," says Antoine Desrosiers. He didn't want to
dwell on the impact of these desertions on the links between the two
countries.

This tour is also a way to prepare for the junior team cuba at the world
championships.

Source: Two cuban players deserting the team junior | The Sherbrooke
Times -
https://sherbrooktimes.com/two-cuban-players-deserting-the-team-junior-2/12941 Continue reading
UM names interim director for the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American
Studies
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The University of Miami has appointed founder and former senior fellow
Andy Gómez as interim director of the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-
American Studies.

Gómez, who retired from UM in 2012 with a Presidential Medal, replaces
Jaime Suchlicki, who will leave ICCAS on Aug. 15, according to a UM
statement.

He said he was "honored" to be asked to return.

"First, we need to honor Jaime Suchlicki for his work and dedication to
the university," Gómez said. "My intention here is to preserve some of
the legacy that Suchlicki created ... part of the good work that has
been done ... and to begin to move forward in some of the programming
aspects of ICCAS, but more importantly to begin a search for a permanent
director. That is going to take some time."

Gómez was assistant provost of UM between 2005 and 2012, and dean of the
School of International Studies between 2001 and 2004. More recently, he
traveled to Cuba for Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the island. He and his
family also support two programs at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in
Havana.

Following UM's recent announcement of his departure, Suchlicki publicly
refuted insinuations that he was retiring stating that he was
"resigning" due to differences with President Julio Frenk on the
university's mission for Cuban studies. He further stated that he had
received notice that the ICCAS would close in August and that he had
plans to move the institute to another location.

An official at the University of Miami disputed Suchlicki's version of
what transpired. Jacqueline R. Menendez, UM's vice president for
communications, said there are no plans to close the center.

The controversy has raised some concern among members of the
Cuban-American community.

The National Association of Cuban Educators (NACAE) sent a letter to
Frenk requesting that ICCAS not be closed because it could be
interpreted as a "lack of support for the Cuban community." The Mother's
Against Repression group asked Frenk to hold off on a decision so that
members of the Cuban-American community, lawmakers and donors could
weigh in.

Gómez's appointment puts an end to speculation about an immediate
closure of the institute.

Founded in 1999, ICCAS for years received several million dollars from
the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to
finance the Cuba Transition Project. But the administration of former
President Barack Obama cut those funds significantly and ICCAS cut some
of its staff. Its digital site is has become outdated and several of its
databases are no longer available.

Gómez said his priorities include looking at ways to provide more
"meaningful information" on the website, raise funds for the institute
and attract a younger audience to events at Casa Bacardí.

ICCAS' academic rigor has been questioned some some in the field of
Cuban studies. Many other U.S. universities have already developed
institutional relationships with their Cuban counterparts and
established study abroad programs.

Events at Casa Bacardí, by contrast, often feature speakers from the
island's dissident movement and members of anti-Castro organizations in
exile.

"ICCAS has suffered a little bit by being, at times, too political to
one side," said Gómez. "I think institutes have to find a balance and
stay in the middle.

"I strongly believe in academic freedom," he said. "...ICCAS should be a
center for everybody to feel comfortable to come and share different
points of view. I know that is always a bit challenging in our community
but we have come a long way."

Follow Nora Gámez Torres en Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: UM names interim director at ICCAS | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article161288108.html Continue reading
Raul Castro Apparently Decided to Change His Personal Image / Juan Juan
Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 July 2017 — The President of the Councils of State
and of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba recently underwent cosmetic
surgery to improve his chin. The chief of Cuban communists wants to be
rejuvenated so that young people won't feel they are being governed by
an old man of 86.

The absurdity is that a process so normal and ordinary acquires, on the
island, the unusual dimension of a "State Secret." The problem that
arises from such a "mystery" is that as a recognized public figure he is
under the magnifying glass of the public observer who, from now on, will
compare his current appearance with old photographs of him.

Apparently, and this could not be confirmed, patient Raul Castro refused
general anesthesia for fear of bad intentions. The truth is that the
operation on the president was performed by a Cuban eminence of cosmetic
surgery, a celebrity of the guild, of whom I will only say that he is an
assistant professor and first class specialist in plastic surgery,
because I want to protect his identity from future attacks or implacable
witch hunts. Some time ago he had problems at CIMEQ hospital, and later
started to work in one of the most well-known teaching hospitals in Havana.

General Raul Castro is a man of particular appetites that grew over
time, the influence of alcohol and a real frivolity. It is normal with
this surgery to try to correct the traces of a person's excesses,
without exaggerating or abandoning his disagreeable natural aspects.
However, he is not the first president, nor will he be the last, who
tries to improve his image using surgical techniques.

Plastic surgery ("plastic" derives from the Green "plastikos" which
means to mold or give shape) is the medical specialty that deals with
the correction or restoration of the form and functions of the body
through medical and surgical techniques.

In 1994, while Libya was faced with an international embargo, a group of
Brazilian doctors traveled to Tripoli via Tunisia, to perform a hair
implant and neck surgery on the now deceased Muammar Ghaddafi.

In 2011, the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi underwent a
long cosmetic surgical procedure on his jaw which, according to reports
from his personal doctor, lasted more than four hours.

Argentina's former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also
succumbed to vanity and was remodeled with the help of the scalpel.

And although the Kremlin spokespeople insist on the contrary, one only
has to look at old photos and images of President Vladimir Putin and
compare them to recent ones. The change is obvious.

It is normal that the Cold War raised the conflict between ideologies
and the leaders of that time needed to focus on strategy and wisdom.
Then, with the coming of globalization, nationalist discourses lost
political strength. Now, in today's world, several leaders, some fierce,
some bullies, prostitute their political ends paying special attention
to self-promotion on the internet and on social networks.

Raul Castro cannot escape the desire to look like a modern old man and
subjects himself to discrete adjustments with the truculent intention of
showing himself to be less despicable.

Source: Raul Castro Apparently Decided to Change His Personal Image /
Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/raul-castro-apparently-decided-to-change-his-personal-image-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba / Iván García

Iván García, 28 June 2017 — On Havana there are illegal stores for all
tastes. Pirated jeans at 20 CUC, copies of Nike shoes at 40 CUC and
imitation Swiss watches at 50 CUC. People with higher purchasing power
mark the difference. By catalog, they buy fashions, smartphones, LED
lights, Scotch whiskey, Spanish wines.

And although the General Customs of the Republic of Cuba applies
retrograde and severe laws on the importing of merchandise, rampant
corruption always opens a gateway to singular private commerce. Although
there are no exact figures, it is calculated that it moves twice as much
money on the island as does foreign investment.

Let me present Rolando, the fictitious name of a guy who has been a
'mule' for three years. "My grandparents live in Miami and to supplement
their pension, they became 'mules'. They took the orders to customers'
homes, whether it was clothing, medicine, household goods or
dollars. When travel abroad became flexible in 2013, I obtained a
multiple-entry visa for the United States. Every year I travel seven or
eight times and I bring stuff either for family use or to resell. All
for a value of four to five thousand dollars."

The complicated Customs regulations only allow Cubans to import certain
goods once a year and to pay the customs fees in Cuban pesos — rather
than convertible pesos, each of which is worth 25 times as much — but by
means of bribes under the table the provisions of the law can be evaded.

Yolanda, an assumed name, is dedicated to bringing garments and hair
products. "In Cuba, the stake fucks anyone who follows the letter of the
law. This is the case for Cubans living in other countries when they
send things by mail: they can only send three kilograms and if the
package exceeds that weight, every additional kilogram is taxed at 20
Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). A real abuse.

"What do those of us who dedicate ourselves to this business do? We have
good contacts in Customs and so we can take all the stuff through. You
pay the people according to what you bring. If you bring in goods valued
at $10,000, for example, you have to give them $200 and a "present"
which can be a flat screen TV, a home appliance, or some clothing."

According to Yolanda, "Palmolive, Colgate, Gillette or Dove toiletries
sell like hot cakes in Cuba. If you buy in the free zone of Colon,
Panama, you earn a little more. In Miami, it depends on the place: in
small stores and wholesale markets you get more for you money. Gillette
deodorants purchased wholesale will come out at $1.50 and in Havana they
will be sold at 5 CUC (roughly $5 US).

"An appliance or television is not profitable if you buy it at Best Buy,
you have to buy it in Chinese stores or have a contact that sells it
wholesale. The problem of the electrical appliances is that they weigh a
lot, that's why they are shipped by boat.

"With the exception of certain items that my regular customers order
from me, the rest I buy to sell in quantity to the resellers. On a trip,
apart from recovering expenses, I can earn up to 800 CUC. And I am a new
'mule' in this market, the ones that spend more time, they earn three
times more, because they bring more expensive items such as car parts
and air conditioning equipment."

Several 'mules' consulted believe that the best places to buy
merchandise are Panama, Miami, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. "Moscow is
expensive for the cost of the plane ticket. But if you have the way to
bring into the country large quantities of parts and components for cars
and motorcycles, you earn a lot of money. Any trip leaves a percentage
of profits that ranges from 30 to 100 percent," says Rolando.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a report on the traffic of
automobile parts between Moscow and Havana: "They travel 13 hours, sleep
crowded in emigre apartments and ask for borrowed coats and boots to
rummage and bargain in a cold weather looking for used parts of the
Russian capital. But do the accounts: a Lada car of the Soviet era in
good conditions sells on the Island for 14 thousand dollars."

The current collection of Soviet-era vintage cars has made the supply of
parts and components for these cars into a highly profitable
business. "In Russia there are few Moskoviches, Ladas and Volgas
manufactured in last century still running. With the help of Cubans
residing in Moscow, full cars are bought for the equivalent of 300 or
500 dollars and scrapping them for pieces increases the values
tremendously. There are also small businesses where you can packaged new
parts," explains Osiel, dedicated to the selling of car parts bought in
Russia.

It may seem like an unimportant business, but a Soviet-era car, with an
American chassis and parts from up to ten different nations, costs
$10,000 to $20,000 in Cuba.

In the Island you find 'mules' specializing in the most diverse
branches. "I only buy smart phones, tablets, PCs and laptops. After
paying the respective bribe, in a single trip I bring in up to ten
phones, five or six tablets, two PCs and four laptops. The profits can
exceed 3,000 CUC. Smartphones are a gold mine. Companies buy them, then
through payment they activate to unlock them and there are those who
know how to 'crack' them. In Havana, the iPhone 7 or Samsung 8 is
cheaper than in Miami," says Sergio.

At the beginning, the 'mules' started as a business managed by Cubans
living in the United States and they moved any amount of money and
stuff. The parcels are delivered personally to people in their homes.

After the olive-green state did away with the so-called White Card — the
travel permit you use to have to have — that blocked Cubans from
traveling freely, thousands of compatriots on the island decided to
become 'mules' and started to traffic in goods.

According to Rolando, "It has many points in its favor: you do not work
for the government and do not depend their shitty wages. On each trip,
you earn a ticket that makes your life more comfortable, you disconnect,
meet people and travel to clean cities and well-stocked stores. And the
government has not opened fire on the 'mules' as much as they have on
the self-employed."

In addition, they don't pay taxes to the state for their underground
business.

Source: Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/trafficking-in-goods-a-strategy-to-survive-in-cuba-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Cuba: Cavities and Abscesses in the Oral Health System / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 23 June 2017 — Located in the stately building with
its exquisite art-deco style, at the Havana intersection of Salvador
Allende Avenue (formerly Carlos III) and G Street, is the Cuban symbol
of the oral health system. Officially known as the Raúl González
Sánchez Dental Medicine Faculty, it is also on the point of collapse.

"The budget is tighter than the screws on a submarine. Most of the time
the autoclaves used for sterilization don't work, nor is there aseptic
paper to wrap the dental instruments in; but the human material is
there. Prices fluctuate between 15 and 300 CUC, according to the
treatment or the urgency," says a person who travelled from Miami to be
treated in the "signature" Havana institution.

"There is no air conditioning in the treatment room, the windows are
open and they have to position the chairs to avoid facing the sun. So
you either bring a fan, or spend an extra 50 CUC to be treated in an
operating room where there is only hygienic equipment, green clothing
and adequate air conditioning. Being treated in Cuba, besides being
cheap is folkloric," my interlocutor continues, in tone so celebratory
it provokes indignation. The saliva extractors are broken and so you
have to bring a bottle of water and towel. And when the slime
accumulates the dentist says, "spit it out."

According to the constitution currently in force on the island, the
Cuban state guarantees free medical attention to the population as one
of the fundamental social paradigms; but the Healthcare system is
suffering the restrictive effects of lack of resources because of the
economic crisis, neglect, corruption and negligence, which among other
things is a consequence of political mistakes.

"The politics of the country stipulate that the attention of every
dental clinic should be free from payment; but then there is what we
experience," explains a professor of the fames institutions, who prefers
to remain incognito, because to survive he has, at home, an old dental
chair, a light and a pedal machine.

"Unless it's an emergency, getting a regular appointment is very
complicated and the receptionists charge for facilitating it. We have to
live," he breathes deeply and recites his price list. "For a mouth exam,
prophylaxis, a light filling and a clinic diagnosis — 15 CUC. We visit
many patients, the majority with chewing problems, gingivitis,
periodontal disease. These conditions require long treatments, and this
case they cost 2 to 10 CUC per visit. There are more expensive ones that
require complex operations that in some other country would cost around
$10,000 or more. Of course, the difficulties of the country force us to
tell patients that to avoid problems they should bring their own
anesthesia and the braces should they need orthodontic treatment."

"Our prices," concludes the professional, "vary depending on the
patient. If it's a Cuban living in Cuba, a Cuban living abroad, or a
foreigner."

Source: Cuba: Cavities and Abscesses in the Oral Health System / Juan
Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-cavities-and-abscesses-in-the-oral-health-system-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Bread In Cuba's Rationed Market Is An Unsolved Problem

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 9 July 2017 — With a sharp knife and the
skill of a surgeon, Luis Garmendia, 68, slices the bread from the
rationed market into six small slices. Like so many Cubans, this retiree
cannot afford to buy from the liberated (unsubsidized) bakeries and
considers that, every day, the quality of the basic product is "worse."

In the Havana neighborhood of Cerro, where Garmendia lives, the ration
bread 'starred' in the last assembly of accountability with the local
People's Power delegate. "Since I started going to those meetings, the
same problem arises, but it is not solved," he protests.

The capital has 367 establishments dedicated to producing "ration
bread." Most have serious technical difficulties, according to a recent
report on national television. In the last three years at least 150 of
them have been renovated but customer dissatisfaction continues to grow.

The taste, size and texture of the popular food are at the center of
customer criticisms. Hard, rubbery, and weighing less than the required
80 grams (2.8 ounces), are the characteristics most commonly used to
describe "ration bread." Its poor quality has become a staple in the
repertoire of comedians.

The product's bad reputation leads families that are more financially
comfortable to avoid consuming it. "Now we Cubans are divided between
those who can eat flavorful bread and those of us who have to make do
with this, subsidized and flavorless," says Garmendia while displaying a
bread roll this Friday.

According to María Victoria Rabelo, director general of the Cuban
Milling Company, "It is sad and frustrating to hear the opinions of the
population," regarding the rationed product. Her entity is in charge of
producing and commercializing the wheat flour used throughout the
country for the manufacture of bread, confectionery and its derivatives.

In the informal market flour is highly valued especially by private
business owners who make pizzas, sweets and breads. The diversion of
resources from state-owned establishments has become the main source of
supply to the retail sector and affects the quality of the regulated
product.

"I have to take care of each sack of flour as if it were gold," says the
manager of a bakery in Marianao's neighborhood, who preferred
anonymity. "They also steal other ingredients involved in the process,
such as the improver, fats and yeast," he details.

"I am the third administrator to have this establishment in five years,
the others exploited it to steal," says the state employee. For years
the business of state bakeries "has been robust, because there is a lack
of controls and demand has grown as there are more cafes and
restaurants," he says.

The profession of baker has been a gold mine. In spite of the low
salaries in the sector, which doesn't exceed 30 CUC a month, there is a
high demand to work in these establishments. "I know people have become
millionaires with the resale of ingredients or of the product," says the
administrator.

"There are places where employees at the counter pocketed at least 400
CUP per day just selling the bread that is destined for the basic basket
under the table." Inside, near the ovens, "workers can get away every
day with up to 800 Cuban pesos [Ed. note: more than the average monthly
wage]," he confirms.

Each ingredient has its own market. "The baked bread is much sought
after by paladares (private restaurants), coffee shops and people who
organize parties," he adds. While "the yeast and improver end up in the
business of selling pizza and the fats have a wider clientele."

The administrator of the bakery on Calle 19 and 30 in Playa, Reina
Angurica, believes that in order to avoid embezzlement, she must "talk
to the workers, communicate with them and not allow illegal
productions." In their place they meet weekly "to talk about the
short-term problems of the bakery and to eradicate them," she told the
national media.

The Cuban Milling Company imports 800,000 tons of wheat each year which
is processed in five mills throughout the country, three of which are in
Havana. "Strong wheat or corrector" is mixed with "weak" wheat to
produce the flour sold to the food industry.

The ration market bread is made with a "weak or medium strength flour"
ideal for achieving soft texture. However, the wheat blend has been
affected by import irregularities and the state bakers are only
receiving strong flour, more suitable for a sturdier bread.

With more than 7,500 workers in the capital and a daily consumption of
200 tons of flour, the Provincial Food Industry Company is directly
responsible for the ration bread. But the entity is floundering
everywhere because of the lack of control, hygiene problems and the poor
quality of its products.

In some 1,359 inspections carried out in the last months in the
facilities of this state company, there were 712 disciplinary measures
imposed for irregularities in the preparation of the product. The
problems detected ranged from indisciplines and diversion of resources
to lack of cleanliness.

For María Victoria Rabelo, from the Cuban Milling Company, the
technological difficulties or the problems with the raw material are not
the keys to understanding the current situation: one must "dignify the
profession and, without speaking with demagoguery, bring love to what we
do," she says with determination.

But in Cerro, where Garmendia is waiting every day for a miracle to
improve the rationed bread, the words of the official sound like
Utopia. "I do not want anything fancy, I just want it to be tasty and
softer, nothing more," says the retiree.

Source: Bread In Cuba's Rationed Market Is An Unsolved Problem –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/bread-in-the-rationed-market-is-an-unsolved-problem/ Continue reading
Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 3 July 2017 — The fan stopped turning around 3:30 in the
morning, when in the middle of a heat wave, a black out forced Ricardo,
his wife and their two children to sleep on a mat on the balcony of
their apartment in the Lawton neighborhood, a thirty minute drive from
central Havana.

Several areas were left dark and lit only by candles and lanterns,
dozens of neighbors complained with rude words and sharp criticisms of
of the poor performance of state electricity and water companies.

The blackout lasted for seven hours. "I couldn't iron my children's
school uniforms and they are in the midst of final exams. I sent them to
school in street clothes. Nor could my husband and I go to work. When I
the light came on, after ten in the morning, we lay in bed for a while.
The situation is already so bad no one can stand it. It's one problem
after another. The water crisis, which is still affecting us, public
transportation is the worst, food prices don't stop rising and now this
black out in the middle of this terrible heat," says Zoraida, Ricardo's
wife.

Almost a month after a break in one of the main pipes that brings
potable water to Havana, and then an intense information campaign on the
part of the office press, filled with justifications and an exaggerated
optimism, where radio, TV and newspapers report the hours there will be
water in each neighborhood, after the repairs, completed two weeks ago,
and with the promise that service would gradually return to normal in
the different zones of the capital, they are still suffering the affects
and the media doesn't offer any explanations.

"Some 200,000 people are still affected and are receiving water every
three days. By Thursday, June 22, it was expected to regularize the
service, but some problems have arisen," said an official of Aguas de La
Habana in the municipality Diez de Octubre, the most populated of the
capital's districts.

The affected Havanans don't stop complaining. "In my house, the tank
that we have on the roof does not have the capacity for the water to
last three days. Although we try to save it, in the bathroom, kitchen
and laundry, the water that we are able to collect is spent in two
days. The government comes up with one lie after another. First it was
reported that the break was a matter of a week, at most two. And we're
going on for a month now. Instead of responding with so much noise to
Trump's measures, they should focus on improving the living conditions
of Cubans," complains Mario, a resident of Luyanó, a working-class
neighborhood in the south of the city.

Rumors about the resurgence of the perennial economic crisis that Cubans
are experiencing, spread throughout the city. "I have it on good
authority, from a friend of my brother who is in the party, I know that
by summer the government is going to make new cuts in companies' fuel
consumption, and they will close unproductive factories and industries
until further notice. The scarcity is noticeable. The state farm
markets are empty and the shortages in the hard currency stores are
obvious. It is said that in the upcoming session of the National
Assembly of People's Power, on July 14, they are going to announce new
measures of cuts. Thing looks ugly," says Miriam, housewife, at the
entrance to a bodega in Cerro municipality.

Diario Las Américas could not verify those comments and rumors.

A banking official who prefers anonymity believes that the country's
financial situation is "quite delicate." He says, "There is not enough
currency liquidity. Even payments of the various debts contracted with
foreign companies are not being made. Tourism, which contributes about
$3 billion in revenue, devours almost 60 percent of that revenue in the
purchase of inputs. Remittances are the lifeline, but with shortages in
foreign exchange stores and high prices, many people are spending their
convertible pesos on the black market or in the parallel trade of the
'mules' that bring products from abroad. A large part of that money is
not being returned to the state coffers, as people involved in these
activities either save it or use it as an investment in their business."

To minimize reality, the olive-green autocracy uses anti-imperialist
discourse and condemnations of Donald Trump's new policy of restrictions
as a smokescreen.

"That narrative has always worked. But people on the street know that
this discourse is exhausted. They can't justify all the national
wreckage and the poor performance of the public services with the
economic blockade of the United States nor with the recent aggressive
policy of Trump. Cubans are at their limit with everything. It is not
advisable to think that Cubans will always be silent. Situations such as
blackouts and cuts in the water supply make people angry and their
reactions could be unpredictable," warns a sociologist.

With finances in the red, an economic recession that threatens to turn
into a crisis of incalculable consequences, and grandiose development
plans that sound like science fiction to ordinary Cubans, the
authorities are facing a dangerous precipice.

Six decades of selling illusions and with unfulfilled promises are
already coming to an end. And it could be less than happy.

Source: Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuban-government-fires-off-one-lie-after-another-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
If Trump Ends Our Remittances? / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 8 July 2017 — Without too much caution, the CUPET tanker
truck painted green and white begins to deposit fuel in the underground
basement of a gas station located at the intersection of Calle San
Miguel and Mayía Rodríguez, just in front of Villa Marista, headquarters
of State Security, in the quiet Sevillano neighborhood, south of Havana.

The gas station, with four pumps, belongs to the Ministry of the
Interior and all its workers, even civilians, are part of the military
staff. "To start working in a military center or company, be it FAR
(Revolutionary Armed Forces) or MININT (Ministry of the Interior),
besides investigating you in your neighborhood and demanding certain
qualities, you have to be a member of the Party or the UJC (Union of
Young Communists)," says one employee, who adds:

"But things have relaxed and not all those working in military companies
are 100 percent revolutionary. And like most jobs in Cuba, there are
those who make money stealing fuel, have family in the United States and
only support the government in appearances."

Let's call him Miguel. He is a heavy drinker of beer and a devotee of
Santeria.

"I worked at the gas station six years ago. It is true that they ask for
loyalty to the system and you have to participate in the May Day marches
so as not to stand out. But it is not as rigorous as three decades ago,
according to the older ones, when you could not have religious beliefs
or family in yuma (the USA). I do not care about politics, I'm a
vacilator. I have two sons in Miami, and although I look for my
shillings here, if Trump cuts off the remittances to those of us who
work in military companies, Shangó will tell me what to do," he says and
laughs.

If there is something that worries many Cubans it is the issue of family
remittances. When the Berlin Wall collapsed and the blank check of the
former USSR was canceled, Fidel Castro's Cuba entered a spiraling
economic crisis that 28 years later it still has not been able to overcome.

Inflation roughly hits the workers and retirees with a worthless and
devalued currency, barely enough to buy a few roots and fruits and to
pay the bills for the telephone, water and electricity.

Although the tropical autocracy does not reveal statistics on the amount
of remittances received in Cuba, experts say that the figures fluctuate
between 2.5 and 3 billion dollars annually. Probably more.

Foreign exchange transactions of relatives and friends living abroad,
particularly in the United States, are the fundamental support of
thousands of Cuban families. It is the second national industry and
there is a strong interest in managing that hard currency.

"Since the late 1970s, Fidel Castro understood the usefulness of
controlling the shipments of dollars from the so-called gusanos
('worms,' as those who left were called) to their families. When he
allowed the trips of the Cuban Community to the Island, the Ministry of
the Interior (MININT) had already mounted an entire industry to capture
those dollars.

"Look, you can not be naive. In Cuba, whenever foreign exchange comes
in, the companies that manage it are military, or the Council of State,
like Palco. That money is the oxygen of the regime. And they use it to
buy equipment, motorcycles and cars for the G-2 officials who repress
the opponents and to construct hotels, rather than to acquire medicines
for children with cancer. And since there is no transparency, they can
open a two or three million dollar account in a tax haven," says an
economist.

The dissection of the problem carried out by the openly anti-Castro
exile and different administrations of the White House is correct. The
problem is to find a formula for its application so that the stream of
dollars does not reach the coffers of the regime.

"The only way for the government not to collect dollars circulating in
Cuba, would be Trump completely prohibiting transfers of money. It's the
only way to fuck them. I do not think there is another. But using money
as a weapon of blackmail to make people demand their rights, I find
deplorable. I also have the rope around my neck. I want democratic
changes, better salaries, and I have no relatives in Miami. But I do not
have the balls to go out in the street and demand them," says an
engineer who works at a military construction company.

Twenty years ago, on June 27, 1997, the Internal Dissident Working Group
launched La Patria es de Todos (The Nation Belongs to Everyone), a
document that raised rumors within the opposition itself. Economist
Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, along with the late Félix Antonio Bonne
Carcassés, Vladimiro Roca Antúnez and lawyer René Gómez Manzano, tried
to get those Cubans who received dollars to commit to not participate in
government activities or vote in the elections, all of them voluntary.

It is true that the double standards of a large segment of Cubans upset
the human rights activists. With total indifference, in the morning they
can participate in an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White and
in the afternoon they connect to the internet so that a family member
expedites the paperwork for them to emigrant or recharges their mobile
phone account.

This hypocrisy is repulsive. But these people are not repressive. Like
millions of citizens on the island, they are victims of a
dictatorship. In totalitarian societies, even the family estate is
perverted.

In Stalin's USSR a 'young pioneer' was considered a here for denouncing
the counterrevolutionary attitude of his parents. There was a stage in
Cuba where a convinced Fidelista could not befriend a 'worm', or have
anything to do with a relative who had left the country or receive money
from abroad.

I understand journalists like Omar Montenegro, of Radio Martí, who in a
radio debate on the subject, said that measures such as these can at
least serve to raise awareness of people who have turned faking it into
a lifestyle. But beyond whether regulation could be effective in the
moral order, in practice it would be a chaos for any federal agency of
the United States.

And, as much frustration as those of us who aspire to a democratic Cuba
may have, we can not be like them. It has rained a lot since then. The
ideals of those who defend Fidel Castro's revolution have been
prostituted. Today, relatives of senior military and government
officials have left for the United States. And the elite of the olive
green bourgeoisie that lives on the island likes to play golf, drink
Jack Daniel's and wear name-brand clothes.

If Donald Trump applies the control of remittances to people working in
GAESA or other military enterprises, it would affect more than one
million workers engaged in these capitalist business of the regime,
people who are as much victims of the dictatorship as the rest of the
citizenship.

The colonels and generals who changed their hot uniforms for white
guayaberas and the ministers and high officials, do not need to receive
remittances. Without financial controls or public audits, they manage
the state coffers at will. One day we will know how much they have
stolen in the almost sixty years they have been governing.

Source: If Trump Ends Our Remittances? / Iván García – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/if-trump-ends-our-remittances-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
The National Council of the Performing Arts under Scrutiny / Juan Juan
Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 26 June 2017 — Another legal trial is threatening the
invulnerability of the Ministry of Culture. This time the prosecutorial
gaze is focused on officials at the National Council of the Performing
Arts (CNAE) while overlooking the culpability of Cuban leaders who, were
they to fall, would make too big a noise.

The Cuban government maintains a "zero tolerance" policy against any
form of human trafficking or related crimes. Its measures are intended
to enhance prevention, confront offenders and severely punish those
found guilty. But the business is lucrative, involving hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Very conservative estimates indicate that more
than 5,000 Cubans have emigrated legally using fraudulent documents
procured for them by CNAE officials.

"The investigation is snowballing. After interviewing each new witness,
investigators have to expand the probe," says a source close to the
Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba.

"According to our documents, there are several ongoing investigations.
On the one hand, those presumed guilty remain silent for fear of
reprisals. On the other hand, the victims being questioned — people
willing to assist in the investigation — allege they consented to
bribery by CNAE officials in order to emigrate safely. Everything points
to the government as the sole culprit because it has not been able to
provide them with the opportunity to have a decent life or a decent job."

"Passing judgement should not be a political issue and we aren't even at
that stage yet. The question is: Did the people who committed these
crimes do so in every case with the consent and for the benefit of those
affected? Does it make sense to continue exploring the causes of the
problem when we all know what the solution is? Whom does it harm? The
law will have to wait but I imagine that in the end the case will be
dismissed."

Founded on April 1, 1989, the National Council of the Performing Arts is
a legally recognized, financially independent cultural institution whose
mission is to promote the development of theater, dance, pantomime,
humor and the circus. All these categories were used as a ruse by
non-artists to escape the fiefdom. For the time being, CNEA's practice
of issuing exit visas is "on hold" and the documents are in the
possession of the state prosecutor after being seized as evidence.

Some members of the council have been temporarily suspended from their
jobs. All of them are under investigation, accused of issuing visas and
emigration documents to people with no formal connection to the
institution who paid 90 to 300 CUC to secure a safe and guaranteed escape.

A former employee of the Ministry of the Interior — someone fired for
political reasons who is now self-employed — notes with no small degree
of irony, "Investigators are doing everything possible to keep news like
this away from people like you because the consequences could be wide
ranging."

Source: The National Council of the Performing Arts under Scrutiny /
Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-national-council-of-the-performing-arts-under-scrutiny-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Work Accident Takes The Lives Of Two Cuban Builders In Caibarién

14ymedio, Havana, 11 July 2017 — The collapse of a wall during the
reconstruction of the Hotel Commercio in Caibarién, in the province
of Villa Clara, cost two workers their lives on Tuesday and left eight
others injured. The crew was working on rehabilitating the property, as
confirmed to 14ymedio by a resident who lives nearby.

The work accident occurred when a wall collapsed which caused a part of
the second floor of the build to collapse, the local press reported.

The deceased are Dorian Toledo Pascual, 40, and Felix Morales Dominguez,
28, both residents of Caibarién. According to statements by the
authorities, both were buried under the hotel debris. The builder
Richard López Pérez is in critical condition and Andrés Estévez Báez, is
in serious condition.

The less serious injured are at Caibarién Hospital, where all the
injured received first aid, 14ymedio confirmed by telephone.

After the accident, several fire rescue crews deployed to search through
the debris, where they found the workers trapped in the rubble, but two
of them were found dead.

For years, the Hotel Comercio has experienced a long process of
deterioration. The current rehabilitation work is intended to allow it
to to reopen its doors at the end of 2018.

Source: Work Accident Takes The Lives Of Two Cuban Builders In Caibarién
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/work-accident-takes-the-lives-of-two-cuban-builders-in-caibarien/ Continue reading
Taxi Driver Arrested In Havana After Being Accused Of Racism

14ymedio, Havana, 10 July 2017 – The driver of a private taxi was
arrested after being accused of racial discrimination by Yanay Aguirre
Calderín, according to a report Monday in the weekly paper Trabajadores
(Workers). The event has generated numerous articles in the official
press which is making an example of the case.

On 2 July, the same weekly published an article by Calderín, a law
student who is black, where she related how she engaged the taxi and was
treated aggressively by the drive due to the color of her skin.

According to prosecutor Rafael Ángel Soler López, head of the Office of
Attention to the Citizenry of the Attorney General's Office, "We cannot
yet anticipate what the end of the process will be," since they are now
"investigating to be able to prove the criminal act before the courts."

The Cuban Penal Code establishes a penalty of between six months and two
years of deprivation of liberty, or a fine of between 200 and 500 CUP,
to anyone who denies "on the grounds of sex, race, color or national
origin the exercise or enjoyment of the rights of equality established
in the Constitution."

Aguirre Calderín, who does not specify the exact date of the events,
took the private car on Avenida 41, in the Marianao municipality, but
when she wanted to change her destination, the driver reacted "very
upset" and "very violently." The young woman explains that at that
moment the driver shouted that "every time there is a black person in
his car it's the same" and that for that reason "he could not stand them."

Calderín then rebuked the driver, whom she accused of offending her, to
which the taxi driver responded by asking the passenger to get out of
the car before arriving at the place initially designated by her. At
that moment the complainant took a photograph of the car with her cell
phone and noted the number of the license plate, which facilitated the
arrest of the driver by the police.

Source: Taxi Driver Arrested In Havana After Being Accused Of Racism –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/taxi-driver-arrested-in-havana-after-being-accused-of-racism/ Continue reading
Venezuela oil exports to Cuba drop, energy shortages worsen
Marianna Parraga and Marc Frank

HOUSTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - Venezuela's crude and fuel deliveries to Cuba
have slid almost 13 percent in the first half this year, according to
documents from state-run oil company PDVSA viewed by Reuters,
threatening to worsen gasoline and power shortages in the communist-run
island.

Cuba's government since 2016 has reduced fuel allocations 28 percent to
most state-run companies, and has cut electricity consumption. Public
lighting was cut 50 percent, while residential electric use was spared.

Beginning in March, Cubans also have reported minor gasoline and diesel
shortages at service stations.

Cuba's economy depends heavily on Venezuelan crude shipments under a
series of bilateral agreements started in 2000 by the South American
country's late President Hugo Chavez. In return, the island nation has
provided Venezuela with Cuban doctors and other services.

Venezuela's shipments of crude for Cuba's refineries dropped 21 percent
to 42,310 bpd, the documents showed. Last year, Venezuela made up for a
shortfall in crude shipments by sending Cuba more fuels, but this year's
data showed refined products sent to Cuba remained almost unchanged at
around 30,040 bpd.

In total, PDVSA sent Cuba an average of 72,350 barrels per day (bpd) of
crude and refined products in the first half of 2017, down almost 13
percent from the same period of last year, according to the data from
internal PDVSA trade reports. (Link to Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2tf4Fk8)

The source who provided the documents to Reuters asked not to be named.

"Cuba needs at least 70,000 bpd from Venezuela to cover its energy
deficit and avoid deeper rationing. A larger or total loss of the
Venezuelan supply would have a high political and financial cost for
Cuba," which has been gearing up to welcome more tourists, said Jorge
Pinon, a Cuban energy expert at the University of Texas in Austin.

Cuba suffered severe energy rationing in the 1990s after the collapse of
the Soviet Union, an ally that had provided cheap fuel. In 2016, Cuba's
economy went into recession for the first time since those days,
declining almost 1 percent as shrinking export earnings left it short of
funds to import oil on the open market and replace declining Venezuelan
supplies.

With Venezuela's crude production sliding in 2017 for the sixth year in
a row, the OPEC nation has had less oil to send Cuba and other customers
in regions from Asia to North America and the Caribbean.

Cuba, which produces extremely heavy crude used by industry and power
plants, received 103,226 bpd of oil from Venezuela in the first half of
2015, according to the same data.

PDVSA, whose full name is Petroleos de Venezuela SA, did not reply to a
request for comment.

Venezuela's oil shipments to Cuba have been falling since 2008, when
they peaked at 115,000 bpd mainly due to a decline in crude exports. The
poor shape of Venezuelan refineries cut into fuel exports this year, and
Venezuela has also had to boost fuel imports to meet domestic demand.

Cuba, in addition to rationing fuel, is seeking oil cargoes from other
producers including Russia, something it had not done for more than a
decade.

In one of several recent shipments, the Ocean Quest tanker loaded with
fuel oil at Russia's Tuapse terminal, arrived in Havana on July 9 and is
waiting to discharge, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.
The Tuapse terminal is operated by state-run Rosneft.

Cuba's three aged refineries have been operating at reduced rates since
last year due to a shortage of light crude, which also affects
Venezuela's 1.3-million-bpd refining network.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Marc Frank in Havana.
Editing by Gary McWilliams and David Gregorio

Source: IEA says OPEC compliance with oil cuts at lowest in six months -
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iea-oil-idUSKBN19Y0Q0 Continue reading
Eight Things You Need to Know about President Trump's New Cuba Policy
07/13/2017 09:20 am ET
William M. LeoGrande
Professor of Government at American University

President Donald J. Trump signs the National Security Presidential
Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba,
Miami, June 16, 2017

On June 16, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his new Cuba policy
in a speech in Miami, declaring that he was "canceling" President Barack
Obama's opening to Havana. Here are eight things you need to know about
what Trump did—and didn't –do.

(1) National Security Presidential Memorandum on Cuba (NSPM)

During President Trump's appearance in Miami, he signed a new National
Security Presidential Memorandum on Cuba which formalized elements of
his new policy and replaced President Obama's Presidential Directive on
Cuba signed in October 2016. Obama's directive laid out the rationale
for a policy of engagement with Cuba and directed executive branch
agencies to work toward its implementation. Rescinding it has no
immediate practical effect, but signals that President Trump is no
longer interested in a policy of normalization—something that was also
clear from the confrontational tone of his Miami speech.

(2) Travel Opportunities

One of the main policy changes President Trump announced was tightening
restricts on travel to Cuba and stepping up enforcement to be sure that
travelers are going for a legally approved purpose. There are 12
categories of legal travel to Cuba, but the most popular one for
non-Cuban Americans is "people-to-people" educational travel, offered by
cruise ships and travel providers like National Geographic and Classic
Journeys. President Obama legalized individual people-to-people trips,
which meant travelers could go on their own and pursue a personalized
itinerary. President Trump canceled that. Now, to go on a
people-to-people trip, you'll have to go in an organized group led by a
licensed traveler provider, and follow a set itinerary. But you can
still bring back rum and cigars.

(3) Transactions Benefiting the Cuban Military

The other major policy change President Trump announced was a ban on any
direct transactions with entities that would benefit the Cuban military
disproportionately. The terms "direct" and "disproportionate" haven't
been defined yet. That will happen when the Treasury Department issues
the implementing regulations. This could get complicated, because a lot
of enterprises in the tourism sector, including hotels, restaurants,
tourist taxis, rental cars, and retail stores are controlled by the
Cuban armed forces ministry. The State Department will produce a list of
prohibited enterprises, which should clarify who you can do business
with in Cuba and who you can't. The good news: ports, airports, and
telecommunications are exempt from the new regulations, so cruise ships,
airlines, and Google are all safe. Existing contracts are exempt, too.

(4) Remittances

At first glance, Trump's National Security Presidential Memorandum
(NSPM) seems to say that remittances will be unaffected, but another
section of the NSPM expands the definition of "prohibited government
officials" of Cuba from a few dozen people to hundreds of thousands.
That's important because under existing regulations, Americans cannot
send remittances to any Cuban who is a prohibited person. We'll just
have to wait and see how the Treasury Department sorts that out when it
writes the regulations.

(5) Diplomatic Relations

Despite a very tough speech in Miami that denounced the Cuban
government, President Trump did not break diplomatic relations with
Havana. The United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations on July
20, 2015. President Obama nominated career foreign service officer
Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who was already serving in Havana as chief of the
U.S. embassy, as ambassador, but he was never confirmed by the Senate.
President Trump has not named an ambassador, but in his Miami speech, he
indicated that he intended to keep the embassy open. So if you're
traveling to Cuba or doing business there, the embassy will still
provide consular services as needed.

(6) Terrorism List

President Trump has not put Cuba back on the State Department's list of
countries that support international terrorism. Cuba was on that list
until 2015, when the U.S. intelligence community concluded that it met
the conditions for being removed and President Obama removed it. Since
then, U.S. and Cuban law enforcement officials have been cooperating on
counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and cyber crime. President Trump's
NSPM mentions law enforcement as an area where engagement with Cuba
serves U.S. national interest.

(7) Immigration Policy

President Trump is not restoring the wet foot/dry foot immigration
policy that gave Cubans arriving in the United States a fast track to
permanent residence and citizenship that no other immigrants enjoyed.
President Obama ended wet foot/dry foot just before leaving office and
President-elect Trump did not object at the time. Cuban immigrants are
now treated no differently than immigrants from other countries. In his
Miami speech, President Trump specifically said that he would not be
changing that policy.

(8) Bilateral Accords

Between December 17, 2014, When President Obama announced the
normalization of relations with Cuba, and the time he left office two
years later, Cuba and the United States signed almost two dozen
bilateral agreements on issues of mutual interest ranging from
environmental protection to commercial air service. global health, and
law enforcement. President Trump has not abrogated any of those
agreements, and his NSPM lists many of the fields in which agreements
have been signed as fields in which the United States will continue to
engage with Cuba because it is in the national interest.

Source: Eight Things You Need to Know about President Trump's New Cuba
Policy | HuffPost -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/eight-things-you-need-to-know-about-president-trumps_us_59677038e4b07b5e1d96ed8f Continue reading
Will Trump Open A Pandora's Box Of Litigation Over Cuban Property?
If the president fails to continue the suspension of Title III, business
relations will be disrupted far more severely and irreparably than they
would be by any regulatory change.
07/10/2017 02:34 pm ET

Long before the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce finish
writing the new regulations that President Trump ordered to restrict
trade and travel to Cuba, the president will face another decision on
relations with Havana that could be far more consequential for U.S.
businesses. By July 16, he will have to decide whether to continue
suspending certain provisions of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (also known as Helms-Burton, after its
sponsors).

If he allows Title III to go fully into effect, he will open the door to
as many as 200,0000 lawsuits by U.S. nationals whose property was taken
by the Cuban government after 1959.

U.S. courts would be swamped, the ability of U.S. companies to do
business on the island would be crippled, and allies abroad might
retaliate for U.S. suits brought against their companies in Cuba. The
tangle of resulting litigation would take years to unwind.

Title III allows U.S. nationals to file suit in U.S. courts against
anyone "trafficking" in their confiscated property in Cuba—that is,
anyone assuming an equity stake in it or profiting from it. The U.S.
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission has certified 5,913 claims of U.S.
nationals whose property was seized. These are the claims that Cuba and
the United States had begun to discuss during the Obama administration.

But Title III takes the unusual position of allowing naturalized Cuban
Americans who lost property to also file suit against alleged
traffickers. Normally, international law recognizes the sovereign right
of governments to dispose of the property of their own citizens.
According to the Department of State, by including Cuban Americans who
were not U.S. citizens when their property was taken, Title III creates
the potential for an estimated 75,000-200,000 claims worth "tens of
billions of dollars."

Back in 1996, angry opposition from U.S. allies Canada, Mexico, and
Western Europe, whose companies doing business in Cuba would be the
targets of Title III law suits, led President Bill Clinton to insist on
a presidential waiver provision in Title III when Congress was debating
the law. As a result, the president has the authority to suspend for six
months the right to file Title III law suits, and he can renew that
suspension indefinitely. Every six months since the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act was passed, successive presidents, Democrat
and Republican alike, have continued the suspension of Title III.

If President Trump does not renew the suspension by July 16, however,
claimants will be free to file Title III law suits by the tens of
thousands. Once the suits have been filed, there will be no way to undo
the resulting legal chaos.

When the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act was passed, U.S.
allies in the Americas and Europe denounced its extraterritorial reach.
Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom passed laws prohibiting
compliance with it. The European Union filed a complaint with the World
Trade Organization, which it dropped after President Clinton suspended
Title III. In fact, the principal justification both President Clinton
and President George W. Bush offered for continuing the suspension was
the need to maintain cooperation with European allies.

If President Trump does not renew the suspension, all these old wounds
with allies will be reopened as U.S. claimants try to haul foreign
companies into U.S. courts for doing business in Cuba. We already have
enough tough issues on our agenda with Mexico, Canada, and Europe
without adding another one.

U.S. businesses would not be exempt from potential liability. A Cuban
American family in Miami claims to have owned the land on which José
Martí International Airport was built, so any U.S. carrier using the air
field could be sued under Title III. Another family that owned the Port
of Santiago could file suit against U.S. cruise ships docking there.

Moreover, it would be almost impossible for a U.S. company to know in
advance whether a proposed business opportunity in Cuba might become the
subject of Title III litigation. "This will effectively end for decades
any attempt to restore trade between the U.S. and Cuba," attorney Robert
Muse told the Tampa Bay Times.

Explaining the new trade and travel regulations that President Trump
announced on June 16, senior administration officials said they were
designed "to not disrupt existing business" that U.S. companies were
doing in Cuba. If the president fails to continue the suspension of
Title III, business relations will be disrupted far more severely and
irreparably than they would be by any regulatory change.

Source: Will Trump Open A Pandora's Box Of Litigation Over Cuban
Property? | HuffPost -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/will-trump-open-a-pandoras-box-of-litigation-over_us_5963b584e4b09be68c005468 Continue reading
How President Trump can borrow from US Cuba policy to squeeze Beijing on
North Korea
Asia, Foreign and Defense Policy

The New York Times reports that "President Trump, frustrated by China's
unwillingness to lean on North Korea, has told the Chinese leader that
the United States is prepared to act on its own in pressuring the
nuclear-armed government in Pyongyang." Trump, the Times reports, wants
to take measures against China that "would spur Mr. Xi to reconsider his
reluctance to press the North."

Over at the Wall Street Journal, my old boss Bill McGurn has a great
idea on how Trump can do just that:

If the first Duke of Wellington were alive today, he might advise that
the battle for North Korea will be won or lost on Harvard Yard. Add
Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth, Chicago and other top-tier private American
universities so popular with China's "red nobility" i.e., the children
and grandchildren of Communist Chinese elites. For if the Trump
administration hopes to enlist an unwilling Beijing to check North
Korea's nuclear ambitions, visas for the children of China's ruling
class to attend these universities offer an excellent pressure point….
The advantage of starting with student visas is twofold: The unintended
harm done would be more limited than any military strike, and visas are
likely a more effective lever than sanctions.
Today 328,547 Chinese students attend American universities, according
to the Institute for International Education. The Chinese represent the
largest group of foreign students in America….
The Chinese taste for prestigious American universities goes right to
the top. Although President Xi Jinping rails against the corruption of
Western values, his daughter went to Harvard, which Mr. Xi managed to
swing on an official annual salary of roughly $20,000. A few years back,
the Washington Post noted that of the nine members of the standing
committee of China's Politburo, at least five had children or
grandchildren studying in the US. There are many, many more.
This is a brilliant idea, and there is legal precedent for it. In 1996,
Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act which tightened economic sanctions
on Cuba, including measures to bar the senior executives of European and
Canadian businesses that trafficked in stolen American property on the
island and their immediate families from entering the United States.
The bill declared these individuals "persona non grata" which meant no
family vacations in Disneyland, no shopping trips on 5th Avenue and
Rodeo Drive for their wives, and no American colleges and universities
for their children.

Of all the sanctions included in the Helms-Burton law — including
allowing Americans to sue the foreign investors for treble damages in US
courts — none stung like the visa restrictions. Just the threat of
preventing family members from entering the US deterred investment, for
one simple reason: The one thing CEOs fear more than angry shareholders
are angry wives and children. The Helms-Burton law turned the wives and
children of these executives into lobbyists for change in investment policy.

Visa restrictions relating to North Korea could have a similar effect
Chinese leaders. Congress should pass legislation authorizing the
president to declare any foreign person and their immediately family
members deemed to be complicit in enabling trade with North Korea to be
persona non-grata in the US.

Mr. Xi and his comrades may be reluctant to take serious action against
Pyongyang. But Madame Xi and her comrades may have other ideas.

Source: How President Trump can borrow from US Cuba policy to squeeze
Beijing on North Korea • AEI | Foreign and Defense Policy Blog » AEIdeas
-
https://www.aei.org/publication/how-president-trump-can-borrow-from-us-cuba-policy-to-squeeze-beijing-on-north-korea/ Continue reading
Convicted of Murder, and Now Swept Up in U.S.-Cuba Shift

Ishmael Muslim Ali now lives a quiet life in Cuba, where he remains
wanted by the F.B.I. for aircraft piracy. Credit Cave 7 Productions
For more than 30 years, Ishmael Muslim Ali has lived a relatively full
and unremarkable life in Cuba. He taught English in the nation's public
schools, worked as a translator and raised a family — a quiet coda for
an international fugitive.

Or at least, that was the case until last month, when President Trump
announced a partial halt to relations with Cuba unless certain
conditions were met. Handing over Mr. Ali, who resides on the F.B.I.'s
most-wanted list for hijacking an American Airlines flight and fleeing
to Cuba to escape multiple life sentences for the murder of eight
people, is one of those conditions.

Mr. Trump's demands contained the usual requirements for Cuba: free and
fair elections, allowing a political opposition and opening up its
economy. But they also included a call for the extradition of all
American convicts who had fled to the island for asylum. Among them are
Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted for
escaping from prison while serving a life sentence for the murder of a
New Jersey state trooper, and an estimated 70 others who have taken
refuge in the communist nation.

As to the threat of being sent home, Mr. Ali, 69, harbors no concern.
The Cuban government has already made it clear that the extradition of
those granted asylum is off the table — along with the other demands
laid out by the president.

"They want their sovereignty respected," Mr. Ali said in a telephone
interview from Cuba, among his first public comments in three decades.
"They are not going to let anybody bully them."

He said he felt reassured that the Cuban authorities would not let him
be sent back. After all, he said, Mr. Trump's stance is a return to the
old Cold War animosity that further hardened the Cuban government's
positions.

Beyond that, experts say that if the United States requests the
extradition of its wanted criminals, Cuba may do the same. That could
include a request for Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban with ties to the
C.I.A. who lives in the United States but is wanted in Cuba for, among
other things, his possible role in the bombing of a Cuban airliner that
killed 73 people.

Mr. Ali's case stretches back to a turbulent time in American history,
when political radicalism sometimes crossed into violence and hijackings
were carried out dozens of times by dissidents and those evading the
law. But his case continues to reverberate today, in the racially
charged debate over American justice and the churn of relations between
Cuba and America.

His case, along with that of his co-defendants, is the subject of a new
documentary, "The Skyjacker's Tale," that was publicly released in
recent days in New York.

The story began on Sept. 6, 1972, in St. Croix, in the United States
Virgin Islands, when five masked individuals killed eight people at the
Fountain Valley Golf Course. The murders rocked the small island and
summoned a wave of law enforcement authorities from the United States to
conduct the investigation.

The club, owned by the Rockefeller family, was frequented by the wealthy.

Soon after the murders, Mr. Ali, at the time known as Ronald Labeet, and
four others were arrested and charged with the crime. The trial drew
some of the most prominent liberal legal figures of the time, including
William Kunstler, who defended the activists known as the Chicago Seven,
as well as William Estridge, a lawyer for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.

The trial was over in less than a year, and eventually all of the men
were convicted and given eight consecutive life sentences, plus 90
years, for the crimes. They were shipped to prisons in the continental
United States, where three of them remain today. One of the men, Raphael
Joseph, died in 1998, after being pardoned.

Mr. Ali, who was considered the leader of the group, and the others
convicted maintained their innocence, arguing that their original trial
was unfair. The film raises allegations that the suspects were tortured
while in custody and that the judge presiding over the trial was biased
because he had represented members of the Rockefeller family in his
private practice.

After being convicted, Mr. Ali spit on the floor, and he and his
accomplices struck out at the marshals who took them into custody,
according to news accounts at the time.

"Even at the trial, we were freaked out on an emotional basis," he said.
"We felt anger and desperation that we had a judge who didn't care about
the law."

He added: "I would be different now. I would be with my defense in a
much different way than I was at the time. But you can't go back. Life
isn't that way. You have to go forward. The way we tried to get justice,
how we acted in our desperation to seek justice, it don't justify what
was done to us."

Mr. Ali's conviction was upheld on appeal. And despite his proclamations
of innocence, many feel his conviction, and the sentence, were justified.

"Proclaiming his innocence is ridiculous," said Jeffrey Resnick, the
chief prosecutor in St. Croix in 1972, who said there was overwhelming
forensic evidence — as well as witness identification and confessions —
of Mr. Ali's guilt. "There is no doubt that they did it."

Michael Joseph, the brother of Raphael Joseph, also believes Mr. Ali is
guilty and published a book on the massacre in 2015.

Mr. Joseph, a lawyer in St. Croix, says the events he details in the
book, which specify Mr. Ali's role in the murders as well as that of his
brother, are based on conversations he had with Raphael after he was
pardoned.

In a presentation he gave on the book in 2015, he described Mr. Ali as a
"wicked man" and claimed that he held a gun to his brother's head to
make him participate in the robbery-turned-massacre.

Following his conviction, Mr. Ali fought to be returned to St. Croix.
After more than a decade in prison, he was sent back to the island,
though only for proceedings in a civil suit he had filed, asserting that
his rights had been violated when he was placed in solitary confinement
for 90 days. He was awarded $12,000 in damages and placed aboard an
American Airlines passenger plane bound for New York on New Year's Eve
in 1984.

Mr. Ali went to the bathroom repeatedly during the flight, complaining
of stomach pains. On his final visit, he emerged with a handgun. (He did
not say how he got it.) He then commandeered the plane and forced it to
land in Havana. Upon landing, he was taken into custody.

The Cuban authorities convicted Mr. Ali of hijacking the plane, and
sentenced him to 10 years in jail. He served seven years and got an
early release for good behavior. Afterward, on the petition of Ms.
Shakur, Mr. Ali says he was granted asylum, the beginning of an entirely
new chapter for him.

"I have a quiet life. I've been married two times. I have kids and a
family here," he said. "I can't complain. I'm really thankful to the
Cuban government and the Cuban people for the way I have been treated."

In Cuba, he says he has found a peace he never experienced in the United
States, where race was an issue in every facet of life.

"The thing about race here is that it's not an issue," he said. "In the
U.S., you are always aware of the race difference. There was always
someone or something you had to be fighting against. Here in Cuba, that
has been wiped out by the revolution for ages now. I just feel like
another citizen here."

His reasoning for participating in the film, he said, was to raise
awareness about his co-defendants, arguing that they have spent their
lives in prison for a crime they did not commit. It is not quite guilt
that he feels for being the only one to escape, he says, but rather a
consciousness that he is the only one who was able to live a real life.

"It hurts me every day to think about them," he said. "When I think
about my co-defendants, what they have suffered bothers me."

A version of this article appears in print on July 9, 2017, on Page A4
of the New York edition with the headline: Convicted of Murder, and
Focus of U.S.-Cuba Shift. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/world/americas/cuba-trump-extradition-hijacker-assata-shakur.html Continue reading
Man Gets 30 Years in Prison for Cuban Sex Trafficking
A Florida man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for operating a
sex trafficking ring involving women he lured from Cuba.
July 8, 2017, at 10:38 a.m.

MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for
operating a sex trafficking ring involving women he lured from Cuba.

The sentence was imposed by a Miami federal judge Friday on 31-year-old
Silvio Clark Morales. Federal prosecutors said in a news release that
Morales pleaded guilty in April to six counts of sex trafficking and one
count of conspiracy.

Court documents show Morales promised six Cuban women work as dancers.
Instead, they were forced under threats of violence to work in strip
clubs and as prostitutes.

Authorities say Morales drove one victim to an isolated bridge near the
Everglades, beat her, and told her he would throw her into the swamp and
let alligators eat her. She survived after he put her in his car trunk.

Source: Man Gets 30 Years in Prison for Cuban Sex Trafficking | Florida
News | US News -
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/florida/articles/2017-07-08/man-gets-30-years-in-prison-for-cuban-sex-trafficking Continue reading
The "Undead" Market: Long-Dormant U.S.-Cuba Air Travel Market Still
Isn't Alive
Dan Reed , CONTRIBUTOR
I write about airlines, the travel biz, and related industries
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

When you shoot a zombie, does it count as murder, or at least attempted
murder?

That question actually is of some epistemological importance in the
context of President Donald Trump's decision last month to reverse most
– but not quite all – of his predecessor's actions opening up travel to
and trade with the Caribbean communist island of Cuba. That policy
change triggered accusations from some quarters that Trump is killing
the U.S.-Cuba travel market.

But can one kill that which was already dead?

U.S. airlines jumped in to the U.S.-Cuba market with great fanfare in
2016. The early projections from the Obama White House and economic team
were that soon there would be 1.8 million passengers a year flying
between this nation of 320 million people who are, by Cuban standards,
nearly all insanely wealthy, and the impoverished island 90 miles south
of Florida.

So, most U.S. carriers rushed to offer service to Cuba. Since no market
existed previously, and since the Cuban economy is so stunted it's
likely that they did not expect the kind of immediate profitability that
the Obama Administration had implied. So perhaps they rushed to launch
service to Cuba in an effort to stake an early claim in a market that
they might eventually actually be worthwhile to serve, to grab free
service rights that they might be able to sell later at a profit to a
stronger competitor, or to protect their market share positions in U.S.
markets like south Florida where large numbers of Cuban-Americans live
and conceivably might want to visit their familial homeland and
relatives from time to time.

But it never made any economic or marketing sense for U.S. carriers to
pour 10,000 seats a month into the U.S.-Cuba air market, as U.S. carrier
did initially. The per capita income in Cuba is around $5,500 a year, or
roughly one-seventh that of the state of Mississippi, which at just
under $37,000 ranked last in 2014 among the 50 states in per capita
income. But while Mississippi ranks just 31st in population among the
states with just under 3 million residents Cuba's population of 11.4
million would place it 8th, if it were a state, just behind Ohio and
just ahead of Georgia. That means Cuba has, in relative terms, an
inordinate number of extremely poor people. Developing profitable
traffic demand among such a population likely will take decades, even if
they eventually are allowed to travel at will, a right they still don't
have today.

Thus, nearly all of the passengers flying between the two nations were –
and continue to be – Americans. Indeed, restrictions still imposed by
the Castro regime block most Cubans from flying north, even if their
American family members pay for the tickets. And most of those Americans
flying to Cuba are, and likely will be for the foreseeable future, Cuban
Americans traveling to visit family and friends who still live on the
island. As leisure, rather than business travelers, they can be expected
to be very price sensitive, a factor that promises to make it even more
difficult for U.S. carriers to earn profits from their Cuban routes.

Meanwhile Americans who did fly to Cuba after the market opened last
year quickly discovered that there's not much to do there.

Source: The "Undead" Market: Long-Dormant U.S.-Cuba Air Travel Market
Still Isn't Alive -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2017/07/07/the-undead-market-long-dormant-u-s-cuba-air-travel-market-still-isnt-alive/#6b501dcd3f5f Continue reading
Tourism Boom Chokes Havana's Airport

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 4 July 2017 — The passengers leave the
plane and make their way around the buckets catching the leaks from the
roof. They still have a long wait in at baggage claim and have to suffer
under the air conditioning that hardly alleviates the heat. The José
Martí International Airport in Havana is stumbling through
the tourist boom that has brought a volume of passengers its services
and infrastructure find difficult to serve.

The main air terminal in the country received 3.3 million passengers in
the first half of this year, a figure that increased by 27.4% compared
to the same period of the previous year. However, travelers' experiences
are far from satisfactory.

There are few places to eat and the lack is supplies is a problem. "We
only have these two cafeterias up here," says one of the
employees. "Today we did not get any beer and there is no water, we are
only selling coffee in addition to bread with ham and cheese," she told
several customers on Monday.

There is an unfinished wing on the exterior that will be filled with
places to eat. "The financing of this infrastructure was linked to the
construction company Odebrecht and everything was paralyzed by the
corruption scandal in Brazil," says a source from the Ministry of
Construction who preferred to remain anonymous.

"We hope it will be open before the end of the year as an alternative
for travelers and their friends," the official said. "But the building
is one thing and the supply of food and beverages is another; the latter
is the responsibility Cuban Airports and Aeronautical Services Company
(ECASA)."

We can't do magic. If there is no beer in the country, where are we
going to get it from?" an ECASA employee asks rhetorically, speaking to
this newspaper by phone from the central office. "We have tried to meet
the demand with imported products, but the tourists want to drink a
Cuban beer at the airport," she says.

Hope arrived for the terminal employees when it was announced last
August that French companies Bouygues and Paris Airports had won a
concession to expand and manage the terminal.

"They haven't pounded a single nail here," protests the saleswoman at a
handicrafts stand on the middle floor. Industry sources say that no
feasibility studies have yet been done to start the works. "The French
planners have not even arrived to evaluate the terminal," says a senior
Transport Ministry official adding that the project is waiting for
support from the new French president.

One floor down crowd those waiting for the travelers who arrive in the
country. "This shows a lack of respect," says Manuel Delgado, 58, who
complains that "there is no place to sit, the heat is unbearable and the
cafeteria has no water" while waiting for the Air France flight
returning his daughter, who has been living in Paris.

The bathrooms earn the worst of the opinions of those who wait. "They
smell bad and although the service is free, the employees are asking for
money, in a somewhat disguised way, but they ask for it," says Yesenia,
who came from Matanzas to meet a brother returning from Mexico.

In the women's restroom a female worker holds the roll of paper for
drying hands. "It's not mandatory, but they look askance at you if you
do not give them something," says Yesenia. One of the female employees
asked the customers to exchange for 25 centavo coins in Cuban pesos
(CUP) "for a convertible peso." Finally, a European-looking tourist agrees.

A few meters from the bathroom, located on the third floor, a young man
tries to catch the wifi signal to surf the internet, a service only
offered in the area after immigration and security controls. For every
hour of navigation one must pay 1.50 in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC)
but there is nowhere in the airport "today where they are selling
recharge cards for the Nauta service," he says frustrated.

There are also no hotels nearby for passengers in transit to other
provinces. For two years the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) has planned to
build five-star accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the airport,
but the project has not yet materialized. The private sector, however,
has taken the lead from the state and more and more private houses are
renting to tourists in the vicinity of the area.

The problems of infrastructure and services do not end after approaching
the exit doors from the flights. "I was traveling in first class and
they gave me an invitation for the VIP area," says José Mario, a Cuban
who each month takes the Copa Airlines route to Panama working as a "mule."

Numerous trips allow you to accumulate points that you can take
advantage of, from time to time, to travel in more comfort. But the VIP
area has not met their expectations. "They told me I had to wait for
other customers to finish eating, because there were not enough dishes,"
he remembers with annoyance after his failed attempt serve himself some
nuts and cheese from the available buffet.

Jose Mario admits, at least, that the taxi service has improved. More
than a year ago a fixed rate was established from the airport to
different points of the city. "Before the driver decided the price, but
now I know that I must pay 25 CUC from here to my house, not a peso more."

The experience on arrival, on the other hand, does not get much
praise. It varies according to the schedule, the flight and the amount
of luggage. "Sometimes I have spent less than an hour waiting for my
bags, but other times I have spent up to four in front of the luggage
belt," complains the traveler.

Employees agree that the waiting time after the landing fluctuates. "At
night, when large flights arrive from Europe, such as Iberia, Air France
or Aeroflot everything slows down," says one of the doctors waiting for
the national passengers to fill out an epidemiological form.

The pilots themselves have had to explain to the passengers about
departure delays because of not having "enough vehicles to bring the
luggage to the plane".

Added to this is the strict customs control over luggage, whose
thoroughness is not only designed to prevent crime but to control the
bringing of technological devices into the country (such as DVDs,
NanoSations, hard disks or laptops) or large quantities of commonly used
products. The most "meticulously" checked flights are those from the US,
Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other regular
routes for the "mules."

In the area before passing through immigration, employees are wandering
around with posters bearing the names of some travelers. Some approach
families with children or newcomers who look like Cubans living
abroad. "For 40 dollars I can pass you without problems from customs,"
whispers a worker to a couple with two children.

For a certain fee employees can avoid passing through the search or
paying for excess imported luggage, a relief for many Cubans living
abroad and arriving loaded with gifts. For each kilo of luggage that
exceeds the limit of 50 kilos, there is a fee that must be paid in CUC,
and the fees also depend on the type of objects transported. For
residents on the island is also very advantageous, since they can only
pay in CUP for their first annual importing of goods.

Jose Mario often resorts to this illegal service. "What I am going to
do?" he justifies himself. "I pay to get myself out of this airport as
soon as possible, because it's unbearable between the heat and the bad
conditions."

Source: Tourism Boom Chokes Havana's Airport – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/tourism-boom-chokes-havanas-airport/ Continue reading
Cuba: More Implicated in the Interior Ministry's Stolen Documents Case /
Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 5 July 2017 — The case is notable for its strict
secrecy and a degree of coercion. The highly irregular trial and
mystifying plight of those already found guilty and sentenced make "the
top secret theft from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) of the
Republic of Cuba" perhaps the most surprising example of Cuban justice
in the last twenty years.

Though a verdict has been handed down, the legal process is not yet
over. The most recent defendant is Colonel Rafael, who coincidentally
was the principal interrogator during the initial investigation but is
now himself being investigated for leaking information about the
indictment and the locations of those involved.

These post-trial developments are at odds with normal legal procedures.
Though accused on May 9 of high treason, theft and sale of classified
material to foreign governments, encouraging desertion and disobedience
among senior officials, spreading malicious rumors intended to cause
discontent among senior military commanders, personal enrichment,
bribery and abuse of office, none of the defendants have been sent to
prison. They are being detained in three houses in Havana's Siboney
neighborhood, where family members have been allowed to visit some of them.

"Look, Colonel Carlos Emilio Monsanto was sentenced to thirty-seven
years in prison. Major Ernesto Villamontes was sentenced to thirty,
Jorge Emilio Pérez to thirty, Román to twenty-two and the rest got
similar sentences. Do you think they are going to serve those sentences
in houses that are now serving as prisons? People like that are
dangerous whether they are free or locked up. I don't think they are
going to serve those sentences under house arrest and I don't think they
are going to go to prison. Based on available information, it is logical
to believe they will suffer some accident or come down with a sudden
illness as happened to General Abrantes," says a relative of one of the
convicted men with resignation. This person requested anonymity, citing
a non-disclosure agreement that family members were forced to sign in
order to be able to visit their relatives.

"The one thing that is clear is that Ernesto (Villamontes) and the other
defendants were sending money out of country and that they had been
authorized to do so by the former directors of MININT and the country's
top leadership with the goal of investing in businesses and buying
property. The documents were not taken from the ministry's Building A in
order to sell them; they were to be used as protection. And that is
unforgivable."

What keeps them safe?

"Corporations like Financiera Ricamar, Financiera Eurolatina and
Financiera Bescanvi Occidental laundered money. Some of these
corporations belong to Panamanian businessmen, including former
president Martinelli. The Panamanian government is currently
investigating the matter. That's why they haven't been sent to prison
yet. On the contrary, the plan is to use them as scapegoats in a
possible prosecution against the former Panamanian president. For better
or worse, this could be significant in a political, media or
international context and would go a long way in covering the tracks of
the Cuban government, just as happened with Cause I and Cause II in 1989."*

*Translator's note: Cause I and Cause II refer to two famous trials of
multiple Cuban military officials. In the first, General of the Western
Army Arnaldo Ochoa was tried and executed by firing squad on charges
including drug trafficking and treason. In a second related trial,
former Minister of the Interior General José Abrantes, was sentenced to
twenty years in prison but died in custody, allegedly of a heart attack,
in 1991.

Source: Cuba: More Implicated in the Interior Ministry's Stolen
Documents Case / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-more-implicated-in-the-interior-ministrys-stolen-documents-case-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Whom Do They Serve? / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 28 June 2017 — Whether at the municipal or provincial
level, the people's administrative councils are supposed to be looking
out primarily for the interests of their constituents and, in
conjunction with them, carrying out the duties of local governance. But
due to the inaccessible and very undemocratic Cuban electoral system,
that is not the case.

Lacking any real power and without questioning what is meant by "the
people," these councils have for years simply carried out the orders
handed down to them by higher-ups in government without concern for the
needs of their constituents or responding to them in a compelling way.
In a country where every worker was once an employee of the government,
their inefficiency was just part of the broader inefficiency of the
entire system.

With the advent of self-employment, or private sector work, they have
continued to act in the same way, turning a deaf ear to the complaints
and grievances of the self-employed, imposing bureaucratic measures
under the guise that such taxes benefit the weak and needy. This
demagogic, paternalistic position, far removed from reality, is not
fooling anyone.

For evidence one need only look to the government's recent "collisions"
with private-sector taxi drivers, with homeowners in Viñales who rent
out rooms to tourists (the government tried, without success, to force
homeowners to permanently cover over swimming pools they had built on
their properties), with construction crews (whose prices officials have
tried unsuccessfully to regulate), with clothing and handicraft vendors
(who continue to sell these items), with truck drivers transporting
passengers in the backs of their vehicles (who were overwhelmed by
endless and repeated demands for documentation) and many other similar
examples.*

Even without established organizations to represent them, small groups
of people with shared interests began pushing back against arbitrary
demands by authorities, who were trying to exercise the same sort of
tight control they had always exercised over state-sector workers
without understanding that something had changed: a group or collective
spirit had arisen that was at odds with the authorities' interests. It
is all still very new and appears to be primarily driven by a need for
survival rather than by economic or political demands.

The original sin of the Cuban dissident movement has been that it has
never actually represented any specific segment of society. Instead, it
has been made up of independent agents who have assumed a critical and
combative stance towards the system, gathering around them a few
like-minded individuals. The exception has been the Ladies in White,
which respresents the interests of family members unjustly sentenced to
long prison terms for holding differing opinions.

At the moment, one cannot say that there is a real dissident movement,
one that demands respect and fights for its rights, that represents
specific segments of society, that is united by economic interests. This
is, in truth, what brings about change.

As long as there are no solutions, these segments will grow, develop and
gain strength. And every day the authorities will find it more difficult
to maintain a hegemonic position of force.

*Translator's note: In 2013 the government announced that independent
clothing vendors would no longer be allowed to sell items imported from
abroad, a major source of their inventory. More recently, private truck
owners have been converting their vehicles to accommodate passengers in
order to transport them from one city to another. In spite of the
dangers this presents, such as the absence of seat belts, the service is
more accessible than that of the state-owned bus company and much
cheaper than buses catering to the tourist market.

Source: Whom Do They Serve? / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/whom-do-they-serve-fernando-dmaso/ Continue reading
A Lot of Heat and No Fire / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 18 June 2017 — The policy toward Cuba, announced by
United States President Donald Trump, in an event in Miami that was more
buffoonish than serious, as well as the Declaration of the Revolutionary
Government responding to it, constitute "a lot of heat and no fire."

First of all, Trump's speech was full of rhetoric and repetition of set
phrases, with the objective of satisfying the small group of
Cuban-Americans and Cubans who still remain frozen in the years of the
Cold War, dreaming of a triumphal entry into Havana on the shoulders of
Uncle Sam, something that neither Trump nor any other American president
will provide them, rather than concrete measures against the Cuban
government.

If we look behind the curtain, aside from repealing the previous
presidential directive and signing the new one (nothing but a play on
words), the only elements are: eliminating the people-to-people
individual travel and blocking American companies from doing business
with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the
intelligence and security services. All the rest, established by Obama,
remains in place.

And in the Cuban case, as well, there is an abundance of revolutionary
rhetoric that has been repeated for over half a century and that,
carefully, "reiterates the will to continue respectful dialog and
cooperation on issued of mutual interest, as well as the unfinished
bilateral negotiations with the government of the United States." All
the rest of the long document can be forgotten about.

It seems as if both presidents have agreed to reassure their supporters,
while "silently" continuing the conversations and exchanges of the Obama
era. Trump is not as crazy as he seems, nor are there, in Cuba, new
conditions of "historic confrontations."

Let's let things take their course.

Source: A Lot of Heat and No Fire / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/a-lot-of-heat-and-no-fire-fernando-dmaso/ Continue reading
Perverse Uchronia* / Regina Coyula

Miguel Coyula: So after editing it in Miami [the novel Red Sea, Blue
Sea] I sent it out to Union Publishers and also ICAIC Publishers, but
this is already four years ago.

The universe of this novel, post-apocalyptic, with genetic manipulation,
strongly influenced by the science-fiction anime, later became Red
Cockroaches and right now Blue Heart.

…In Blue Heart, Fidel Castro has undertaken an experiment in genetic
engineering to construct the New Man and to save his life's work, his
project. These experiments result in failures: they result in
individuals with psychological disorders, but very intelligent, which,
once they are rejected by the regime that created them, they unite to
destroy it. In this alternative future the system is very similar to
that in China, which continues to say it is socialist, but behind the
facade is brutal capitalism.

[I have been filming Blue Heart for] five years. What I don't have in
money I put in in time: hours in front of the computer to virtually
build the universe that could never be built in physical reality, in
ordinary filming without permits and extras.

Every time I have approached institutions to ask for money they have
rejected me. The people who have become patrons of my films have
approached me on their own. This is important, because when it is you
who knocks on the doors, you have to be willing to accept compromises.

It is very difficult for me to sell a project because the script is
constantly changing. The script is no more than a map, a skeleton
without flesh, and this skeleton could change itself into an unknown
creatures because, being a long process, I end up using mutations of
everything that happens around me to integrate that into the narrative.
It's about filming with the same freedom as a writer have, having an
idea and writing.

…more and more I choose not to go out into the street: I record the
actors against a green screen

In the street, once you set up a tripod you have ten or fifteen minutes
of impunity before they come to interrogate you. You may have more time,
but you have to have studied the location and rehearsed the actors to be
able to film very quickly. It's the only want to have any certainty when
you are filming without permission. And if the location is very
complicated you have to resort to digitally unifying the different
scenes and actors. The film crew is just me and my partner, Lynn Cruz.
So because I don't have the money I have to put in the time.

*From Wikipedia: Uchronia refers to a hypothetical or fictional
time-period of our world, in contrast to altogether fictional lands or
worlds. A concept similar to alternate history but different in the
manner that uchronic times are not easily defined (mainly placed in some
distant or unspecified point before current times), sometimes
reminiscent of a constructed world.

Site Manager's note: Once all the fragments of this interview are
translated (by different volunteers) we will unite them in order, in a
single post.

Source: Perverse Uchronia* / Regina Coyula – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/perverse-uchronia-regina-coyula/ Continue reading
Cuba Wants to Help Its People Have Sex
State-run 'love motels' to return to Havana amid lack of privacy driven
by housing crisis
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2017 8:53 AM CDT

(NEWSER) – Cuba wants to help its citizens have sex … in private. As the
BBC reports, it's "common" to see couples knocking boots in Havana's
public areas, like parks and beaches, because they don't have the
privacy to do so at home. Thanks to a housing crisis, several families
are forced to live together in one apartment, reports Reuters, to the
point that divorced couples live under the same roof. While private
facilities do offer rooms for rent by the hour, at a fee of $5 for three
hours, that's not in the budget for many in a nation with an average
monthly salary that's less than $30. To make getting busy behind closed
doors more affordable, however, Cuba says it will bring back state-run
"posadas" or "love motels," which were common some three decades ago.

The BBC reports at least five posadas will be made available to the
public. The state will start by opening a 16-room motel in Havana, named
Hotel Vento, before converting another hotel, a rep for the Provincial
Housing Company of Havana tells trade union weekly Trabajadores. "To
think about how to diversify options for love is not farfetched," per
Trabajadores. "It is a reality that concerns everyone, and cannot become
a luxury." Some of the dozens of posadas in use in the city until the
1990s, when hurricanes necessitated that they be converted into housing
for the homeless, will also be restored. Havana's La Monumental will
reportedly be among them. "We want to revive this service that is in
high demand, has a big social impact and without a doubt is very
profitable," the housing rep says. Adds a hotel administrator, "The city
needs this."

Source: Cuba Wants to Help Its People Have Sex -
http://www.newser.com/story/245217/cuba-wants-to-help-its-people-have-sex.html Continue reading
Cuba's state-run love motels make a comeback
- Cuba reintroduces state-run 'love motels' in a bid to reduce public
indecency and "diversify the options for love".
- The first motel to open will be a 16-bed property in Havana.
- Love motels were commonplace in the capital until the 1990s, when
Havana suffered an economic downturn.
Karen Gilchrist | @_karengilchrist

Cuban authorities have made a move to reignite citizens' sex lives by
reintroducing a series of state-run pay-per-hour motels which they hope
will "diversify the options for love", the country's official trade
union weekly Trabajadores announced on Monday.

The "posadas", or "love motels", which offer couples rooms to rent by
the hour, were common in Cuba's capital, Havana, up until the 1990s,
when they were converted to homes for hurricane victims.

Though private inns opened in their place, the 5 CUC (Cuban convertible
peso) ($5) price tag for a three-hour hire – roughly a sixth of the
average Cuban's monthly salary – was unobtainable for many citizens,
leaving them to resort to "parks, dark stairs … Even the boardwalk," the
paper recalls.

By reintroducing an affordable alternative, the communist state aims to
end the practice of lovemaking in Havana's public spaces and give
privacy to couples battling against the island's housing shortage and
multi-generational living.

A young couple kiss on top of the fortifications of El Castillo del
Morro, an old Spanish fort that stands at the mouth of the Port of Havana
The first of the new motels to open will be a two-story building with 16
rooms and bathrooms managed by the Provincial Housing Company of Havana,
which is responsible for a network of 27 state-run properties across Havana.

The new property is situated moments from a once famous posada, Munoz Chang.

Alfonso Munoz Chang, director of the Provincial Housing Company of
Havana, hopes the initial project will allow him to set about restoring
other love motel premises around the city.

"We believe in the real possibility of taking it back and developing
it," Munoz Chang told Trabajadores.

"Our goal is to recover that demanded service of great social impact
and, undoubtedly, very profitable," a translation of the interview read.
"The main thing is to show that we can fulfil that purpose at the state
level, and although we have the certainty of winning, we do not want to
create false expectations," Munoz Chang noted.

Though a largely Roman Catholic country, Cuba's first love motel emerged
in Havana in the late nineteenth century. In the early 1970s, 60 such
state-run inns existed in the capital, though this number had halved by
the late 1980s. In the 1990's all remaining love motels were closed due
to "economic deficiencies," Trabajadores recalls.

Source: Cuba's state-run love motels make a comeback -
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/04/cubas-state-run-love-motels-make-a-comeback.html Continue reading
A Neighborhood Dressed in Blue / Rebeca Monzo

At the time of the "accident" in 1959, Nuevo Vedado was the latest
Havana neighborhood to be developed. Its residents included
professionals and famous artists from radio and television. It was an
elegant neighborhood, with any number of homes — primarily one or
two-story single-family residences — noted for their striking
architectural designs, many of which had garnered national and
international awards.

Its principal artery, 26th Avenue, was lined with red and yellow acacias
(now almost non-existent) and beds of pink and white oleanders, which
gave the neighborhood an indescribable beauty. The properties there, now
encircled by high fences and imposing ramparts, were demarcated only by
perimeter walls not much higher than a foot and a half or borders of
small shrubs.

These days the neighborhood is festooned in blue, the color of signs
advertising hard currency rental properties. The houses' current owners,
mostly university professors who cannot live on their poverty-level
wages and retirees, have resorted to renting out rooms in their homes
and apartments.

Nuevo Vedado is home to one of the tourist market's main transit hubs:
Viazul station, whose buses leave daily for Viñales, Varadero, Trinidad,
Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos. Due to limited parking available for
buses in the area, the station cannot meet the high demand, so it is
surrounded by private taxis, which offer the same ride for only 5.00 CUC
more than the buses with the added advantage that tourists can be picked
up at their respective lodgings.

Among the other big tourist attractions are the city's zoo, Metropolitan
Park (Bosque de la Havana), Civic Plaza (now Revolution Plaza), the
National Theater, the Colón Cemetery and the newly famous Art Factory
(formerly El Cocinero cooking oil factory), the "coolest" place in the
city, where famous figures from the worlds of art and culture can
regularly be seen.

In addition to all these attractions, we are surrounded by wonderful
restaurants, bars and cafes with various options and prices points for
every wallet. The result is a better quality of life for the area's
residents thanks to the increased and ongoing influx of tourists.

Rebeca Monzo, 31 March 2017

Source: A Neighborhood Dressed in Blue / Rebeca Monzo – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/a-neighborhood-dressed-in-blue-rebeca-monzo/ Continue reading
Defections to U.S. rob Cuba of superpower baseball status

Carlos Tabares, known as the Derek Jeter of Cuban baseball, is hanging
it up this year at 42 after 20 years competing in Serie Nacional, the
interprovince league that represents the best of baseball in a proud but
grimly challenged country that still reveres the game.

Representing Havana powerhouse Industriales, Tabares played for five
Serie Nacional champions — one more title than Jeter earned over 20
exemplary seasons with the Yankees. Industriales has retired Tabares'
No. 56, just as the Yankees did their captain's No. 2 last month in an
extravagant, only-in-New-York type of ceremony that amplified debate
over who replaces Jeter as the "face of baseball."

A local version of the same question drives the discussion among the
chatty crowd hanging out at "the Hot Corner," a section of Havana's
Central Park where old-timers gather for animated exchanges on all
things baseball, about a Jose Abreu home run removed from Cuba's Capitol
building.

Beyond his success in Serie Nacional, and in forays abroad for Olympic
and World Baseball Classic competition, Tabares became the face of Cuban
baseball because he stayed home, to play for his people and be with his
family.

Scouts who saw him roam center field with Jim Edmonds-like flair or
scorch line drives with Paul Molitor-like ferocity assured him there
would be millions in MLB money available should Tabares choose to
defect. Industriales teammates Rey Ordonez, Kendrys Morales and Yunel
Escobar heard the same message and fled to the U.S., their joy at
becoming big-leaguers tempered by the reality that loved ones would go
missing from their new lives forever, such was the Cuban government's
contempt for disloyalty.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez also fled, but only after government
officials scoffed at his national hero status and banned him from all
levels of Cuban baseball on the mere suspicion that he intended to
follow his half-brother and fellow pitcher Livan to big-league ball in
the U.S.

Tabares stayed, for a salary that is said to have topped out at $125 a
month, plus other perks such as a larger apartment and use of a car.

The White Sox recently signed Luis Robert, a 19-year-old Cuban prospect
long on tools but short on experience, for $25 million.

Like the one-and-done rule that has diluted the talent level of college
basketball in the U.S., defections to the U.S. have robbed Cuba of its
superpower status in baseball.

Team Castro reached the final of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in
2006 but hasn't been back to the title game in three subsequent
competitions. It has gone without a gold medal in Olympic baseball since
2004, though the sport was dropped from the Olympic program after the
2008 Games. Its gold-medal drought at the Pan American Games extends to
2007, after Cuba won 10 straight and 11 of 12 beginning in 1961, two
years after "the Triumph of the Revolution," as Castro's takeover is
officially referred to here.

The defection of such next-generation stars as Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes
and Yasiel Puig is one reason for the falloff. So is a conscious
decision by Cuban sports officials to keep some of the best young
players home from international competition to lessen the chances of
them leaving.

The stories seem to vary with each telling, but Puig and El Duque are
said to have survived life-threatening rides through shark-infested
waters on dilapidated boats to flee Cuba. Abreu's testimony that he ate
a fake Haitian passport while en route to the U.S. to join the White Sox
helped convict the Miami "facilitators" who helped get him out in
exchange for a nice chunk of the $68 million contract he would sign.

It's probably a little less harrowing to get out these days, as slightly
more than 1 percent of the players on opening-day MLB rosters were
Cuban-born.

Cuban baseball announced itself to the world at the 1992 Barcelona
Olympics. As the U.S. basketball Dream Team and the greatest track meet
ever staged were dominating coverage, it was easy to overlook Cuba's
nine straight wins and 95-16 run differential in a dominant gold-medal
performance.

Rafael Avila, Latin America scouting supervisor for the Dodgers, managed
the Dominican Republic Olympic team that was dispatched 8-0 in a
round-robin game. Avila listed left fielder Orestes Kindelan, third
baseman Omar Linares, second baseman Antonio Pacheco and pitcher Osvaldo
Fernandez as big-league-ready prospects, but it was high-voltage center
fielder Victor Mesa who embodied the Cubans' speed-and-power ethos and
distinctive flair in the way he played and talked.

Then 32, Mesa was probably too old to defect, but he never would
consider it, he told reporters, and neither would his teammates.

"We play for love of country and love of the game," he insisted, "not
for money."

They're playing a different brand of baseball in Cuba these days.

Dan McGrath is a special contributor to the Chicago Tribune.

Source: Defections to U.S. rob Cuba of superpower baseball status -
Chicago Tribune -
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-cuban-baseball-defections-mcgrath-spt-0704-20170703-story.html Continue reading
"American-Philia" Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 June 2017 — Ten days have passed
since Donald Trump announced his "new" political strategy toward Cuba,
and while the official Cuban press monopoly has wasted gallons of ink on
newspapers and on dozens of reports, interviews and TV programs to show
the world the indignation and rejection of the Cuban people at the gross
interference of US imperialism, which attempts to undermine the
portentous social and economic achievements reached in almost 60 years
of Castro rule, national life continues its boring course at ground
level, far from the rhetorical battles.

If the US president's speech has had any palpable effect in Cuba, it is
in the possibility of clearly confirming, on a daily basis, the enormous
gap that exists between the olive-green power elite, as an eternalized
political class, and common Cubans. Oblivious to the political and mass
organizations at the service of the gerontocracy, which these days have
shown discipline through the obligatory task of drafting their
declarations of repudiation of the Empire of Evil, the people remain as
alienated from the old "revolutionary" epic, and from its ideological
disputes as is possible. Particularly when the enemy they are fighting
is none other than the endearing monster in whose entrails so many
thousands and thousands of Cubans yearn to live.

A breach that has become all the more visible because the majority of
Cubans today increasingly identify less with the official discourse and
is more irreverent in relation to the State-Party-Government and with
everything it represents.

If anyone were to doubt this, all he would need to do is to walk the
streets of the Cuban capital and check the number of American flags that
proliferate every day, either as articles of clothing worn by numerous
passers-by, such as caps, sandals, head scarves, etc. or decorating the
interior of private transportation. It is like a contest in social
irreverence towards everything that stems from the government and its
colossal propagandistic and repressive apparatus, a phenomenon that was
unthinkable only a few years ago.

Thus, the more the official voice shouts itself hoarse calling for the
union of national sovereignty and the reaffirmation of socialism, not
only does American-philia expand among the population of the island –
with even greater strength, although not exclusively, among the younger
generation – but it also adopts multiple variants of expression. It is
not limited to the open display of the US flag, but also has well-known
trademarks originating in that country, signs of official US
institutions on textiles (including t-shirts labeled: USA, DEA, or FBI,
for example), as well as images and names of famous US cities.

It is like an effect of funny magic, by virtue of which everything
having to do with that country draws me near. Or, to put it another way,
to think intensely about a thing is a superstitious way (like "I hope it
becomes true" while crossing one's fingers) of preparing the ground for
the pleasure of enjoying it.

But if, in the daily routine of the city, the American symbols continue
to mark the pace, as if mocking that dreaded label of "ideological
diversion," presumably fallen into disuse, on the beaches the phenomenon
constitutes a quasi-apotheosis. This can easily be seen at the beaches
east of Havana, where coastline areas from El Megano to Guanabo in the
extensive sandy stretches where – despite Trump's bitter declarations
and the strong patriotic protests of the Cuban government – the stars
and stripes constantly parade in the shape of towels, men's shorts and
lightweight children's swimwear, caps, umbrellas and even inflatable
rafts or infant's lifejackets.

It must be torture for the Castro clan and its claque that no
regulations are in effect, (especially not now, when diplomatic
relations exist between the two countries), that prohibit the use of the
US flag in clothing or in any object created by the human imagination.
Would it be justifiable to quell those who wear a symbol that represents
a friendly people entirely, and not just their political powers?

But this is not about a new phenomenon either. It turns out that this
epidemic of a taste for everything American and its symbols had been
manifesting itself in a more or less contained but constant way for
several years, and was unleashed with marked emphasis at the time of the
reestablishment of relations between the governments of Cuba and the US,
especially during and after President Barack Obama's visit to a Havana,
until turning into an unstoppable cult to the chagrin of the hierarchy
of the geriatric elite and its ideologic commissaries, who try in vain
to tackle a hare that is like the mythological hydra, spouting seven
heads for each one they cut off.

And while all this intense American mania continues to be sharpened in
Cuba – the historical bastion of the continent's radical left – the
nationalist affectation of the regime recently chose to prohibit the use
of the Cuban national symbol in a similar way. In fact, Cuban laws
expressly prohibit it.

Consequently, not even the fiercest prospects of their pack of
repudiators or other similarly-minded halberdiers can counteract the
growing "Uncle Sam" effect on Cuban society, since they are barred from
wearing the Cuban national flag as a way to counteract those involuntary
"traitorous" ones, who, without hiding it, continue to publicly display
their admiration for the crème de la crème of evil capitalism, which, it
was taken for granted, had been banished definitively from Cuba since 1959.

Personally, and begging the pardon of the more ardent and sincere
patriots of fetishistic spirit, I am not tempted to worship symbols,
whether from my own country or from others. Even less would I think to
wear a flag, although those who do so – with the vocation of flagpoles –
does not affect me. It is their right. But, strictly speaking, the flag
is nothing more than a rag that many years ago someone designed and
chose to represent us all and that, ultimately, has been used with the
same zeal and passion for the best as for the worst causes, also
supposedly "of everyone." Ergo, I'm not excited about the flags, but nor
do I feel myself to be any less Cuban than anybody else.

Nevertheless, a flag, as a symbol of something, evidences the feelings
of the individuals who carry it towards that "something." That, in the
case of the American flag in Cuba, symbolizes exactly the paradigm of
life of the Cubans who exhibit it. An aspiration on a national scale.
So, for those who want to know what Cubans really think about the US, do
not look for the statements published in the official press or the
boring speeches at events: go to the beach. There, relaxing by the sea,
sheltered by a good umbrella and perhaps savoring a cold beer that
protects them from the strong tropical heat, they will see, parading
before their eyes, the mute response of the Cuban people to the Empire
that attacks them.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: "American-Philia" Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/american-philia-conquers-cuba-cubanet-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
Average Monthly Salary in Cuba is $29.60 US

EFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 30 June 2017 – The average monthly salary in
Cuba in 260 was 740 Cuban pesos (CUP), the equivalent of $29.60 in US
dollars, although the figure is higher in sectors such as the sugar
industry – where the best paid earn 1,246 CUP ($48.80 US), and falls in
public administration, defense and social security, with a figure a 510
(CUP) ($20.40 US).

The figures come from the publication "Figures for Average Salaries in
2016," released on Thursday by Cuba's National Office of Statistics and
Information, which includes average monthly salaries by province since
2007, and average monthly salary by economic activity type since 2014.

According to the report, the average salary in Cuban increased from 408
CUP ($16.30 US) in 2007 to 740 CUP in 2016.

By province, the highest salaries are earned in Ciego de Ávila (816 CUP
/ $32.60 US), Villa Clara (808 CUP / $32.30 US) and Matanzas (806 CUP /
$32.20 US), while the lowest wages are paid in Guantánamo (633 CUP /
$25.30 US), Isla de la Juventud (655 CUP / $26.20 US) and Santiago de
Cuba (657 CUP / $26.20 US).

The highest paid sectors on the island are the sugar industry (1,246 CUP
/ $49.80 US), mining and quarrying (1,218 CUP / $48.70 US), financial
services (1,032 CUP / $41.20 US), and agriculture, livestock, forestry
and fisheries (991 CUP / $39.60 US).

On the other hand, economic activities with lower wages are: "Other
communal services, associations and personal activities," (503 CUP /
$20.10 US); public administration, defense and social security (510 CUP
/ $20.40 US); Culture and sport (511 CUP / $20.40 US); and education
(533 CUP / $21.32 US).

The low wages paid to state employees in Cuba, compared to the high cost
of basic products—Cuba imports 80% of its food—are constantly subject to
criticism by international organizations and also by opposition movements.

Health and education are universal and free in Cuba, and citizens
receive some basic food from the state through the "ration book."

But the rationing system, which decades ago covered much of the
population's needs—including underwear, shoes and children's toys—has
been reducing the quantities and types of subsidized products.

The rationing system, which decades ago covered much of the population's
needs, has been reducing the quantities and type of subsidized products

Currently, an adult Cuban receives monthly from the ration stores about
7 pounds of rice, 4 pounds of sugar, one pint of soybean oil, one packet
of mixed coffee (that is coffee mixed with fillers such as dried peas),
one packet of pasta, five eggs and small quantities of chicken. Children
also get one quart of milk a day until they turn seven.

In 2011, Cuban President Raul Castro approved the authorization of new
categories of self-employment (the term used in Cuba means "own
account-ism") as one of the key measures to compensate for the
progressive reduction of 500,000 jobs in the state sector.

Another of the main distortions in the Cuban economy is the simultaneous
circulation of two currencies—the Cuban pesos or "national money" and
the Cuban convertible peso, or "hard currency"—that the Government
recognizes needs to be changed, but for the system remains in force and
there is no firm date to merge the currencies.

Source: Average Monthly Salary in Cuba is $29.60 US – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/average-monthly-salary-in-cuba-is-29-60-us/ Continue reading
Cuba expects tourism growth despite Trump's crackdown on U.S travel
World16 hours ago (Jun 28, 2017 08:20PM ET)

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba earned more than $3 billion from tourism in 2016
and expects to better that this year despite President Donald Trump's
tightening of restrictions on U.S. travel to the Caribbean island, a
government official said on Wednesday.
"In 2016, revenue reached more than $3 billion in all activity linked to
tourism in the country," Jose Alonso, the Tourism Ministry's business
director, told state-run media.
"We think that, given the growth the country is seeing at the moment, we
will beat that figure this year," Alonso said.
Tourism revenue totaled $2.6 billion in 2015.
The number of foreign visitors to Cuba was up 22 percent in the first
half of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to
Alonso, who said that put it on track to reach its target for a record
4.2 million visits this year.
Tourism has been one of the few bright spots recently in Cuba's economy,
as it struggles with a decline in exports and subsidized oil shipments
from its key ally Venezuela.
A surge in American visitors has helped boost the sector since the 2014
U.S.-Cuban detente under the Obama administration and its easing of U.S.
travel restrictions, even as a longtime ban on tourism remained in effect.
But Trump earlier this month ordered a renewed tightening of travel
restrictions, saying he was canceling former President Barack Obama's
"terrible and misguided deal" with Havana.
Many details of the policy change are still unknown. But independent
travel to Cuba from the United States, by solo travelers and families,
will likely be much more restricted.
Alonso said he was confident "an important number of Americans" would
still be able to visit the island. But an announcement by Southwest
Airlines Co (LUV.N) on Wednesday that it was reducing its number of
flights to Cuba cast shadow over his upbeat comments.
"There is not a clear path to sustainability serving these markets,
particularly with the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to
Cuba for American citizens," Southwest said in a statement.
Southwest joined other U.S. airlines that have cut flights to Cuba over
past months or pulled out of the market altogether.

Source: Cuba expects tourism growth despite Trump's crackdown on U.S
travel By Reuters -
https://www.investing.com/news/world-news/cuba-expects-tourism-growth-despite-trump%27s-crackdown-on-u.s-travel-500353 Continue reading