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By Marc Frank HAVANA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Cuba paid the second … seen as a step toward Cuba rejoining the international financial community … sanctions on development assistance to Cuba. European diplomats have said they … with knowledge of the negotiations. Cuba does not publish up-to-date information … Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 12 October 2017 — Russia is again aiding Cuba and, as with the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, the aid comes in the form of oil. Moscow is trying to compensate for the collapse of Venezuelan shipments, but part of the bill comes from Caracas, says Jorge Piñón, director of … Continue reading "Venezuela Finances Russian Oil Coming To Cuba" Continue reading
… ravished island. More than 750 Cuban physicians have been dispatched to … will maintain daily communication with Havana in order to stay informed … Medical Cooperation. She noted that Cuba has sent medical brigades to … . Pardo emphasised that in Barbuda, Cuba’s 43 physicians weathered the … Continue reading
CUBA STANDARD — Scraping along most of Cuba’s northern coastline during 72 hours, Hurricane Irma claimed at least 10 lives and caused major damage to much of the island, knocking out the entire national power grid and devastating the tourism infrastructure in the northern keys. Loss of life is an unusual occurrence in Cuba, which prides itself of world-class hurricane preparation and response. However, this Category-5 storm […] Continue reading
Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Resurgent. Let’s be honest here. The Republicans in Congress were always going to find some deal with the Democrats. They were always going to find a way to surrender ultimately. What … Continue reading
… pure classic Donald Trump," Cuban said. "I thought it … months for the debt ceiling. Cuban, often critical of Trump, has … Public Policy Polling found that Cuban, presumed in the poll to … ;These are always entertaining," Cuban told Business Insider in an … Continue reading
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban applauded President Trump for making … thought it was really smart,” Cuban told the FOX Business Network … playing partisan politics,” he said. Cuban also weighed in on President … Continue reading
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 6 August 2017 – Only half a year before the announced general-president Raúl Castro’s departure from his duties as President of Cuba, it is still not known with certainty who his successor will be. It is undeniable is that whoever the Power choses to give continuity to the failed socio-political and economic … Continue reading "The Enigmas of Successions" Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 4 August 2017 – “It doesn’t matter when, all we get are feathers,” complains the father of a family, disgusted on finding no kind of meat other than chicken in the Hard Currency Collection Stores (TRD), the state chain that sells only in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). Since the beginning of … Continue reading "Cuba Has No Plan B To Make Up For The Loss Of Venezuela" Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 4 August 2017 – Each ruler leaves his imprint. More than a decade ago Fidel Castro relinquished power and his brother promised continuity; but he dismantled the boarding high schools in the countryside, the army of social workers and the open anti-imperialist rallies. This coming February, Miguel Diaz-Canel could assume the presidency … Continue reading "Miguel Diaz-Canel, A Future Lenin Moreno?" Continue reading
… Venezuelan debt, as well as Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Diving currency … Continue reading
… Venezuelan debt, as well as Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. The uncertainty … Continue reading
… Venezuelan debt, as well as Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Diving currency … Continue reading
Attorney Advertising PLANTATION, FL, UNITED STATES, July 25, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Ackerman, Link & Sartory, P.A. and David A. Weintraub, P.A. are investigating investors’ potential claims against UBS Financial, Merrill Lynch and other … Continue reading
14ymedio Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 18 July 2017 — “Everything smells like rotten mango,” says Pascual Rojas, who lives on the outskirts of Manuel Tames, a Guantanamo municipality where part of the mango harvest has been lost, leaving a total of 2,600 metric tons of rotten fruit in recent weeks. “The rains of May and June … Continue reading "The Year Of The Lost Mangos" 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
14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Panama City, 2 July 2017 – They managed to escape Cuba to leave behind traces of corruption and negligence that, according to Yudenny Sao Labrado and her husband Yoendry Batista, reflect the prevailing system on the island. From a neighborhood on the outskirts of Panama City, the couple relates the story … Continue reading "Cuban Couple Prefers to Face the Jungle Rather Than the Law in Cuba" Continue reading
… with the EU, including Slovakia, Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez … :Slovakia inks agreement on settling Cuban debt Relations are “cordial” Slovak-Cuban … reforms recently taking place in Cuba, including pardons for political prisoners … Continue reading
20 June 2017 17:23 (UTC+04:00) Access to paid information is limited News on the website Trend.az marked as , is available ONLY to subscribers of TREND International News Agency. If you are a subscriber of TREND News Agency, enter your login and password: … Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 6 June 2017 — The leader speaks for hours on the platform, his index finger pointing to an invisible enemy. A human tide applauds when the intonation of a phrase demands it and stares enraptured at the bearded speaker. For decades these public acts were repeated in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, shaping the … Continue reading "Populism Cuban Style: Conquests, Threats and Leadership" Continue reading
Geingob calls for removal of U.S. trade embargo on Cuba
June 6, 2017
Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob says there is much ground to cover to
ensure the complete lifting of the United States of America's long
running economic and trade blockade against Cuba.

Geingob made the remarks yesterday during the commencement of the 5th
Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba, where about 174
delegates, including several Cuban nationals, were gathered.

He said Africa would continue to support the people of Cuba until the
world sees the total elimination of existing economic and commercial
barriers, noting that some progress had been made, particularly
following the release of the Cuban Five (who were held in the U.S. on
dubious espionage charges), but said it was necessary that the U.S. lift
its economic and trade embargo of Cuba.

"We applaud the positive developments in this respect and commend the
governments of Cuba and the U.S. for their efforts… We salute the people
of Cuba for the fortitude that they have maintained throughout the
years, never compromising on their principles while facing economic
injustice," he stated.

The conference aims to strengthen bonds of friendship between the people
of Cuba and progressive peoples of the world by recognising the
important work done by them in solidarity and support of Cuba.

The three-day conference further aims to galvanise international
solidarity organisations to demand the lifting of the economic,
financial and trade blockade against Cuba, and the restoration of the
territory illegally occupied by the U.S. as a naval base at Guantanamo
Bay where the infamous Guantanamo Prison is based, as two of the main
obstacles to the island's development.

Andima Toivo Ya Toivo, patron of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship
Association, said he looked forward to discussions on how the two
countries can jointly help bring an end to the economic blockade and the
return of Guantanamo Bay to the people of Cuba.

The conference also aims to strategise collectively and to strengthen
solidarity movements with Cuba, as well as Cuban solidarity with Africa,
in light of the importance of utilising social and alternative media to
spread news of the reality of Cuban social, political and economic life.

It also aims to highlight and promote the legacy of late Commandant
Fidel Castro, who from Havana spearheaded the Cuban forces in the famous
and decisive Battle of Cuito Cuanevale in Angola in the late 1980s – the
largest battle on African soil since the Seoncd World War – which led to
the military defeat of the South African regime, opening up the
prospects for Namibian independence and the end of apartheid rule in
South Africa.

Geingob said the continent of Africa and Cuba continue to enjoy
fraternal relations. This, he added, needs to translate into strong
meaningful commercial and trade relations.

Further, he said Africans still face major challenges related to
economic development, external debt, the global economic downturn,
rampant poverty, as well as the HIV/Aids pandemic.

"We all agree that our aim should be to achieve sufficient levels of
sustainable economic development in order to eradicate poverty in our
societies. We must take bold and concrete actions aimed at promoting
South-South cooperation at all levels in areas, such as investment,
trade, technology exchange for agricultural production and
manufacturing, as well as human resources development," he argued.

In this way, he said, Africans would improve their productive capacities
for economic growth and competiveness in the global market.

Fernando Gonzalez, the president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship
with the Peoples (ICAP) and one of the Cuban Five, highlighted the
friendship between the two countries that dates back to the days when
Cuba assisted Namibia during its liberation struggle.

Gonzalez condemned acts of terror being committed against African and
Middle East nations and thanked Namibian leaders, particularly President
Geingob and the two former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye
Pohamba, for their sympathy and support following Castro's death on
November 29, 2016.

A moment of silence was observed by the conference attendants in honour
of the late Cuban leader.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
said Africa is not foreign to Cubans, noting that many Cubans are today
providing essential services in various countries in Africa, including
Namibia.

Source: Geingob calls for removal of U.S. trade embargo on Cuba | New
Era Newspaper Namibia -
https://www.newera.com.na/2017/06/06/geingob-calls-for-removal-of-u-s-trade-embargo-on-cuba/ Continue reading
San Juan, May 12 (RHC)-- Striking students of the University of Puerto Rico have decided to continue their protest action indefinitely.  At a general meeting on campus, students voted to maintain their strike to protest proposed education budget cuts … Continue reading
Santiago de Chile, May 10 (RHC)-- Tens of thousands of Chilean students marched through the streets of Santiago de Chile and other cities to demand free and quality public education and an end to crippling student debts.  Under the banner "End the … Continue reading
San Juan, May 9 (RHC)-- Students from the University of Puerto Rico have held a national demonstration to protest widespread austerity measures and an increase in police violence against those who oppose such measures.  Student organizers describe the … Continue reading
14ymedio, 8 May 2017 – According to a report on foreign debt by Spain’s Secretary of State for the Economy and Business Support released to the newspaper El Economista, Greece and Cuba account for 60% of all foreign debt owed to Spain. According to the report, Cuba owes the Spanish State 2.07 billion euros, (about 2.27 billion dollars). The … Continue reading "Greece and Cuba Account for 60% of the Debt Owed to Spain" Continue reading
Cuba: Another perspective

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall wants to sell Kansas wheat to Cuba
("Congressman reflects on a recent Cuba trip," High Plains Journal,
April 10), and has filled a bill that "allows" American banks and to
finance the Cuban government's purchase. Really? Cuba has one of the
worst credit records in the world. Americans shouldn't be dragooned into
the role of guarantors of credit extended to Cuba.

The real issue isn't selling to Cuba. It's getting Cuba to pay for what
it buys. The Heritage Foundation's 2017 Index of Economic Freedom puts
Cuba's credit rating right in the bottom—178th out of 180 countries,
followed by Venezuela and North Korea.

The problem : The average Cuban's salary is about $25 dollars a
month—there's no great purchasing power there. Havana has defaulted on
loans worth billions.

It's not a new issue. Despite raking in massive Soviet Union subsidies
and boasting Moscow was a better commercial partner than the United
States, Fidel Castro stopped payment in 1986 on the island's $16 billion
debt to the Paris Club, a consortium of foreign banks facilitating trade
with Cuba. By 2015, those banks had "forgiven" $4 billion of Cuba's
debt. Last year, Japan forgave $1.08 billion dollars (120 billion Yen)
owed by Cuba. The Castros dynasty seems to assume it never has to pay
off its loans. Uncle Sam must not become Cuba's next sucker.

American companies have been making sales for years to Cuba on a "cash
and carry" basis. In the year before Barack Obama became president,
American companies exported $711.5 million in foodstuffs to Cuba. By
2010, trade had dropped to $362.8 million and by 2015 to $180.2 million.
The decline was deliberate and intended to put pressure on U.S.
companies to lobby Congress and the U.S. administration to extend credit.

"Much has changed and in a very positive way," Marshall says now. In the
United States, many changes. In Cuba, not much change other than a
dramatic increase in repression. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights
documented 1,005 political arrests in 2008 and 9,940 in 2016.

The "greater mutual security" that the Congressman wants can't be
attained without considering the presence of Russian spy ships in
Havana's harbor and such hostile acts as Gen. Raul Castro's 2013 attempt
to smuggle war planes, hidden under tons of sugar, in a ship to North
Korea—a clear violation of United Nations' trade sanctions. That came as
President Obama prepared to re-establish diplomatic relations by making
numerous concessions to Cuba.

One of those concessions was removing Cuba from the U.S. list of
supporters of terrorism. Yet, Cuba today harbors numerous U.S.
criminals. On the FBI's "Most Wanted List" is a domestic terrorist
convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in cold blood. She was
sentenced to life in prison but escaped and fled to Cuba, where she
enjoys the regime's hospitality. The good people of Kansas may want to
ask President Donald Trump to demand her return and, if Cuba refuses, to
put the island nation back on the infamous list.

Before the Castro Revolution, Cuban teenagers used to sell expired
lottery tickets to naïve American tourists. Now Congressmen take guided
tours to Cuba. As Mark Twain observed: "It is easier to deceive folks,
rather than to convince them, they have been deceived." Extending credit
to "do business with Cuba" would be a deceit—and a very bad deal for
American taxpayers.

—Frank Calzon is executive director of the Washington-based Center for a
Free Cuba.

Source: Cuba: Another perspective | Opinion | hpj.com -
http://www.hpj.com/opinion/cuba-another-perspective/article_2a56e050-31c0-11e7-be16-eb0b120a6fed.html Continue reading
San Juan, May 2 (RHC)-- Thousands of Puerto Rican workers, students and other demonstrators took to the streets in a national strike during the early hours of International Workers’ Day on Monday to protest against the harsh austerity measures pummeling … Continue reading
Is Raul Castro in Hibernation Mode? / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 11 April 2017 — Right now the most closely guarded secret
in Cuba is the protocols for succession of the nation's president, army
general Raul Castro, after his retirement in February 2018.

I will tell you what is rumored among some officials close to the
tight-lipped team of advisers and influential relatives in the Council
of State.

A well-informed source claims, "The man is desperate to retire. He wants
to spend more time with his children and grandchildren and travel around
the world. He's really going to retire. And it seems to me that he will
probably pass his job on to the first party secretary. He has always
preferred to be in the background."

A technocrat with connections to powerful elites states, "The succession
is not happening at the best time but Raul is serious when he says he is
leaving. I have it on good authority that Miguel Diaz-Canel and his wife
Lis Cuesta, around whom the media has been creating a presidential image
in recent months, are studying English in depth and preparing to lead
the country."

A former personal security officials says, "Resources have been put at
Diaz-Canel's disposal, the kind of communication technology and
logistical support that a president would have."

Meanwhile, as the official media has been inundating us with reports of
economic successes and the alleged loyalty of the population to Raul
Castro and his deceased brother, the countdown to the succession continues.

There is only a little more than ten months until D-Day. At midnight on
February 24 the republic will presumably be governed by a civilian
president without the last name Castro.

One of the sources consulted for this article believes that "after his
own retirement, Raul will force the retirement of several longtime
revolutionary officials such as Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Ramiro
Valdes.* His son Alejandro, who is a colonel in the Ministry of the
Interior, will retain a certain degree of power while his daughter
Mariela will continue promoting an image of tolerance towards
homosexuality but will no longer hold any really significant positions.

"The power behind the throne will be the military. Everything has been
arranged. There will be major economic changes. If the purchasing power
of the population does not increase, consumer spending will be
encouraged while the monetary and intellectual capital of the exile
community will be tapped.

"If not, Cuba will never get out of the swamp. Political exhaustion and
systemic failures have created conditions conducive to the emergence of
an acute social crisis whose outcome no one can predict. That is why
there will be changes."

In Cuba, where the state press's greatest strengths are saying nothing
and masking daily reality, rumors within the halls of power carry more
credibility than the official news.

Raul Castro is a perpetual schemer. Let the analyst or journalist who
foresaw the secret negotiations with the United States and the
reestablishment of diplomatic relations on December 17, 2014 raise his hand.

Prognosticating in such a secretive country can be disastrous but there
have been some signals. During the the monotone National Assembly's 2015
legislative session a gradual rollback of Raul's reforms began. And
Marino Murillo, the czar of these reforms, disappeared from official photos.

In response to the Venezuelan crisis, which led to cuts of 40% in fuel
imports, the economic initiatives promoted by Raul Castro came to an
abrupt halt.

Barack Obama's visit to Cuba in March 2016 was the final straw. The
regime's most conservative factions began changing the rules of the game.

While lacking the charisma or stature of his brother, Castro II has
proved to be more effective at putting together negotiating teams and
has had greater successes in foreign policy. They include reestablishing
diplomatic relations with the United States without having to make many
concessions in return, acting as mediator in the meeting in Havana
between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, facilitating the peace
agreement in Colombia and securing the cancellation of a considerable
portion of the nation's financial debt.

His agricultural reforms have failed. People are still waiting for that
glass of milk he promised them in a speech given in Camaguey on July 26,
2007. On that day Raul Castro said, "We have to erase from our minds
this limit of seven years (the age at which Cuban children are no longer
entitled to receive a certain ration of milk). We are taking it from
seven to fifty. We have to produce enough so that everyone who wants it
can have a glass of milk."

The Foreign Investment Law has not been able to attract the roughly 2.5
billion dollars expected annually. The sugar harvest and food production
have not gotten off the ground, requiring the regime to import more than
two billion dollars worth of food every year.

Except for tourism, the profitable foreign medical assistance program
and other international missions, and remittances from overseas, all
other exports and economic initiatives have decreased or not shown
sufficient growth.

Vital industrial sectors are not profitable and its equipment is
obsolete. Problems in housing, transportation and public service
shortages are overwhelming. The price of home internet service is
outrageous. Official silence has surrounded recent restrictions on the
sale of gasoline** while public speculation about a return to the
"Special Period" has not been discussed by the executive branch.

Raul Castro barely appears in the public anymore. Aside from attending
Fidel's funeral in November 2016, presiding over parliament last
December and sporadic appearances at the Summits of the Caribbean and
the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, his presence is
almost imperceptible.

He is governing in hibernation mode, on automatic pilot. There is no
word on currency reform. The vaunted Economic Guidelines, only 21% of
which have been carried out, seem to be dead in the water.

According to a former journalist who now lives in Miami and who dealt
closely with Raul in the late 1980s, his seemingly erratic behavior
could be interpreted in several ways.

"Raul is not doctrinaire like his brother. Nor does he leave tasks half
done like Fidel used to do. I supposed he has his hands full preparing
Diaz-Canal so he can finish the job and implement good, effective
reforms. I think Diaz-Canal will play an important role in Cub's future.
Reporters should start lining up their canons now," says the former
journalist.

The sense on the street is that the island is going to hell. The outlook
does not look good. The future is a question mark. The pathways to
emigration are closing. And the average person's salary remains a bad joke.

The optimists, who are in the minority, are praying the general has an
emergency plan in his desk drawer. The pessimists, who are in the
majority, believe that life in Cuba will go on as it has, whether under
Raul, Diaz-Canal or any other members of the Communist praetorian guard.

*Translator's note: Vice-president of the Council of State and
governmental vice-president respectively.

** Though no public announcement has been made, as of April 1 sales of
so-called "special gasoline" have been restricted to tourists with
rental cars.

Source: Is Raul Castro in Hibernation Mode? / Iván García – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/is-raul-castro-in-hibernation-mode-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 11 April 2017 — Right now the most closely guarded secret in Cuba is the protocols for succession of the nation’s president, army general Raul Castro, after his retirement in February 2018. I will tell you what is rumored among some officials close to the tight-lipped team of advisers and influential relatives in the … Continue reading "Is Raul Castro in Hibernation Mode? / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 16 April 2017 — The term secretismo (secretiveness), to refer to the absence or delay of certain information of public interest in the Cuban official media, began to be used first among critics of the system, until it came to appear in the speeches of the highest officials of the government. The … Continue reading "The Secrets of Secretismo" Continue reading
Bolivia's Representative to the UN Sacha Llorenti United Nations, April 13 (RHC)-- Bolivia's representative to the United Nations says that the international community owes Haiti a debt and should do whatever it takes to guarantee the Caribbean … Continue reading
Former FARC Guerrillas to Train as Doctors and Journalists in Cuba /
Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 17 March 2017 — From the very moment it gained power,
the Cuban regime has devoted precious resources to exporting its
ideology and cultivating followers. Overseas military conflicts as
distant as those in Africa in the late 1970s and the guerrilla wars in
Central America in the 1970s and 1980s relied on Cuban logistics and
personnel. And just as it expressed solidarity by sending professionals
from multiple disciplines to so-called Third World countries, so too has
it brought professionals to the island for training throughout the
years, generating a wellspring of sympathizers who feel a huge debt of
gratitude.

As part of this successful experiment, there is now a new Cuban
"solidarity" contribution to the peace process in Colombia. It was no
coincidence that the island's capital was the setting for the signing of
the peace accord.

The Castro regime has instructed its ambassador in Bogota to announce
that it is awarding up to one thousand scholarships to the demobilized
members of the FARC guerrilla group and the victims of its armed
conflict to study medicine in Cuba.

The communiqué notes that the 200 scholarships to be awarded annually
over a five-year period — 100 for FARC soldiers and 100 for its
executive council — will be Cuba's contribution to the implementation of
the peace accords reached in Havana and to a lasting peace in Columbia.
Students may access their scholarships beginning in the 2017-2018 school
year. The Cuban embassy will submit a document to the Columbian
government and the FARC outlining the details which, even at the last
minute, was still being finalized by Cuban authorities.

This "goodwill gesture" on Cuba's part — a followup to the final
resolution of the conflict — seems more about publicity than
plausibility. The war went on for so many years that any attempt to
avoid death and violence is noteworthy. Cuba wants not only to promote
itself as a champion of peace in the region but also to profit from the
naivety of some democratic voices who applaud any action that might help
end the long conflict. But above all — and this is very important — it
wants to influence the underdogs, the FARC, with aid and support in
order to achieve a fundamental objective: to mask their image as crude
terrorists by treating them as a legitimate political organization.

Let's not forget that a significant portion of the two billion dollars
that the FARC made from kidnapping and drug trafficking in its own
country is now safely stashed away. Having been well laundered, it is
used to buy sophisticated, modern equipment for humanitarian purposes at
CIMEQ and the Cira Garcia Clinic.* Or it has been invested as Cuba's
contribution to joint venture projects that the government has with
business consortiums and large hotel chains operating both inside and
outside the country.

Cuban ambassador José Luis Ponce publicly announced the program
alongside members of the CSIVI, the commission which oversees the
implementation and verification of the peace accord. He addressed his
remarks to FARC secretariat member Iván Márquez, who used his Twitter
account to stress that "this contribution by Cuba to the implementation
of the Havana Agreement and to the postwar period in Colombia is a pure
humanitarian gesture."

Curiously, Piedad Córdoba — a Columbian attorney, politician and leader
of the Citizen Power XXI Century movement — used her own Twitter account
minutes later to state, "In spite of being under embargo, Cuba not only
has the best medicine in the world, it is also among the most supportive."

Such Twitter coincidences are not exactly a fitting prelude to support
for the end of the conflict. Why don't any of the parties involved
mention that, in addition to the one-thousand scholarships to study
medicine, the Cuban government is offering as many as five-hundred
scholarships to study journalism on the island?

Cuba is well-known for the high-quality training it provides to its
health care professionals as well as for the benefits it receives from
its program of exporting doctors.

This lab coat diplomacy, which includes training foreigners on the
island to be physicians, currently generates more income than tourism,
family remittances, nickel or sugar.

Besides operating a well-oiled financial machine, the Cuban government's
main goal is to create an army of grateful people, spread across the
globe, who are influential in the social circles. They remain committed
and invisible, ever ready to take immediate action in support of
medicine and the Cuban revolution.

Let us take this to the exercise of journalism, taking into account the
fluidity, or freedom of information that exists today in the world,
where even some democratic governments are becoming more and more
controlling. A host of indoctrinated journalists is a weapon of
significant influence and an effective tool for spreading ideas and
ideologies.

*Translator's note: The hospital and clinic mentioned here were
established to treat foreigners and foreign dignitaries as well as
members of the Cuban government, the military and their families. Their
facilities, equipment and provisions are known for being of a much
higher quality than those for ordinary Cubans.

Source: Former FARC Guerrillas to Train as Doctors and Journalists in
Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/former-farc-guerrillas-to-train-as-doctors-and-journalists-in-cuba-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 17 March 2017 — From the very moment it gained power, the Cuban regime has devoted precious resources to exporting its ideology and cultivating followers. Overseas military conflicts as distant as those in Africa in the late 1970s and the guerrilla wars in Central America in the 1970s and 1980s relied on Cuban … Continue reading "Former FARC Guerrillas to Train as Doctors and Journalists in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Lack of cash clouds Cuba's green energy outlook
By Sarah Marsh | CIRO REDONDO, CUBA

Cuba, battling a chronic energy deficit, has all the sunshine, wind and
sugar to fuel what should be a booming renewables sector - if only it
could find the money.

The country's first utility-scale renewable energy project, a biomass
plant in Ciro Redondo, is finally under construction thanks to an
injection of funds from China, a socialist ally and in recent years, the
communist-led island's merchant bank of last resort.

Turning Cuba's renewables potential into reality has become a state
priority over the past year since crisis-stricken ally Venezuela slashed
subsidized oil shipments to Cuba that were supposed to help power its
traditional plants.

Some foreign players in green energy, such as Spain's Gamesa and
Germany's Siemens, have shown early interest in the country. But the
overall paucity of foreign financing means that this project, being
carried out by Cuban-British joint venture Biopower, is still the
exception rather than the rule.

The financing puzzle is a crucial one to solve if cash-strapped Cuba is
to hit its target of renewables filling 24 percent of its energy needs
by 2030, up from 4 percent today, a strategy that would require billions
of dollars in investment.

The government announced last July it was rationing energy, raising
fears of a return to the crippling blackouts of the "Special Period"
after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The energy shortage comes at a
time when growing tourism and private business creation are generating
greater demand.

"The most challenging thing we have had to deal with in the last six
years of developing this project has been the financing," said Biopower
President Andrew Macdonald, while touring the site of the Ciro Redondo
plant.

The Scotsman, who has been doing business with Cuba for more than a
decade, said the U.S. blockade had "strangled" funding from Europe "and
other obvious sources", with banks afraid of sanctions.

His start-up Havana Energy joined forces with a subsidiary of domestic
sugar monopoly Azcuba to create Biopower in 2012, with a contract to
build five plants attached to sugar mills.

The plants are projected to use sugar cane byproduct bagasse and
fast-growing woody weed marabu as biofuels, costing around $800 million
to add some 300 MW to the grid.

Biopower was finally able this year to start building the first one,
thanks to a decision by China's Shanghai Electric Group Ltd to buy an
equity stake in Havana Energy. The JV is now looking for external
financing for the next four plants.

"We have to check whether the funders are open for the Cuban market or
not," said Zhengyue Chen, former investment manager at Shanghai Electric
and current Biopower chief financial officer.

RISKY INVESTMENT

Some international companies have shown an interest in gaining a
foothold in the slowly opening Cuban market, encouraged by a three-year
old investment law that allows full foreign ownership of renewables
projects.

Cuba last year signed a deal with Spain's Gamesa for the construction of
seven wind-powered plants and with Siemens for the upgrade of the
creaking power grid.

These are just preliminary agreements, however, which may not become
concrete contracts, Western diplomats based in Havana say, given
difficulty agreeing on a financing framework and actually securing the
funds.

On top of the U.S. trade embargo, which frightens banks from offering
Cuba loans, Cuba's payment capacity is questionable. While it has
improved its debt servicing record under President Raul Castro, it is
falling behind on paying foreign providers.

And it has little to offer as payment guarantees in hard currency. Its
state electricity utility generates revenue in Cuban pesos, which are
not traded internationally, only into convertible Cuban pesos at a
state-fixed rate. The government has promised to unify those two
currencies, but it is unclear how.

"If no currency indexation is provided from the government, significant
devaluation poses a great threat to investors' revenue," said World Bank
renewable energy expert Yao Zhao.

Moreover Cuba does not belong to multilateral institutions like the
Inter-American Development Bank that could provide external guarantees.

CHINESE FUNDING

That is likely to force further reliance on China, already Cuba's top
creditor in recent years, having offered loans as a way to hike trade
with the island. Shanghai Electric is importing and building the Ciro
Redondo plant, as well as helping finance it.

Project Manager Li Hui, already directing excavators shifting earth on
site, said he will stay on after the factory is built as the head of the
company's first branch in Cuba.

"We will hand them over a fully-functioning power plant," he said,
adding that Shanghai Electric had to bring over new building equipment
because the Cuban ones were antiquated and lacked spare parts.

But even Chinese largesse may have its limits. Chen said Biopower was
now in discussions with overseas funders, mainly from Europe, and hoped
to secure commercial funds for the second plant by the end of this year.

Macdonald said he hoped his project would be part of the launch of many
foreign participations in the energy sector.

"But today, we are still pioneers," he said.

(Editing by Christian Plumb and Edward Tobin)

Source: Lack of cash clouds Cuba's green energy outlook | Reuters -
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-energy-idUSKBN1720EB Continue reading
… of college and student debt. Cuban’s question seemed apropos of … move forward with these proposals. Cuban’s tweet doesn’t directly … . And during the presidential campaign, Cuban argued that a proposal from … students to more lucrative fields. Cuban also told an audience at … Continue reading
… problem of student debt ?— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) March 29, 2017 Trump … the $1.3-trillion student-debt crisis? Cuban’s tweet doesn’t directly … . And during the presidential campaign, Cuban argued that a proposal from … students to more lucrative fields. Cuban also told an audience at … Continue reading
14ymedio, Carmelo Mesa Lago, Miami, 5 March 2017 — In his speech to Congress last Tuesday, Donald Trump was magically transformed into a statesman and looked “presidential” for the first time. He offered something for every member of society: new infrastructure, one million jobs, paid maternity leave, cutbacks in the high cost of medicines, special education … Continue reading "After Trump, the Deluge / 14ymedio, Carmelo Mesa Lago" Continue reading
… for the ski hotels. In Cuba, Meliá results continue to improve … Cuba and Havana. The desired start of the normalization of relations between Cuba … to Havana and new non-stop connections to Varadero, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin … Continue reading
… out of the economy," Cuban blogged. "[This] is exactly … have seen so far." Cuban compared the current college debt … Continue reading
Athens, February 16 (RHC)-- A new report says Greece's economy has contracted in the fourth quarter of 2016 as the debt-laden country faces stalemate in negotiations with its creditors.  According to the report by the national statistical service of … Continue reading
Cuba: It Might Seem Stupid but…
February 9, 2017
By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban economy would be on the increase if half of the
Revolution's guardian angels – those who dedicate themselves to
monitoring what is written on every blog – spent their time chasing
corrupt and incompetent officials who steal and destroy the wealth that
other Cuban people generate.

This isn't my idea but that of one of Cartas desde Cuba's readers and it
stems from the fact that the Comptroller General of Cuba reported that
there were "losses" worth around 90 million pesos and 50 million USD, in
some companies that had been inspected in Havana.

During the debate that then kicked off on the blog, many people asked
why names of corrupt and incompetent officials weren't made public or
why we weren't informed of the dismissal of company leaders or those
sectors affected, just like the blog La Joven Cuba was "reported" in the
press, for example.

Cuba can't get rid of the blockade because that depends on the US
Congress. However, a lot could be done to counteract State company
"losses" in the millions, without which we will never reach the
productivity needed in order to raise wages.

The country's national economic situation is no joking matter. In 2016,
over 5 billion USD were paid on the country's foreign debt and, I
imagine, that this year this expenditure will be similar. If the
payments aren't made there are few credits available and those which
come, are loaded with huge interest rates.

As if that wasn't enough, Venezuela has cut oil exports to Cuba, which
the government pays for with medical services. Last year, only 55,000
barrels were delivered per day, around half of the amount that Cuba used
to receive when things were going well, when they were able to use,
refine and resell oil.

The situation needs to be changed urgently. In 2016, Cuba couldn't pay
some medium and short-term debts because they didn't have liquid funds.
The national economy needs to grow and in order for that to happen,
foreign investment is vital; about 2.5 billion USD per year, according
to Cuban economists.

However, these investments don't come or, rather, they do appear but
they get stuck in the marshy labyrinth of Cuban bureaucracy. And this is
how foreign businessmen spend their days in Cuba, losing hope while
they're told perhaps, perhaps perhaps…

Last year was very hard and this year looks like it will be too.
However, it could be a lot less difficult if things were handled more
decisively against incompetent and corrupt officials that squander
Cuba's scant resources and possibilities for development, as Vietnamese
economic advisers suggested to government officials.

Or maybe these officials are being dealt with and what Cuban citizens
are missing is transparency to explain why provincial leaders are being
arrested for having kept money from grants meant for home building or
those who sell official passports.

Lisandro Otero said that capitalism is so uncertain that the population
never knows what will happen, while in socialism, they never find out
what happened. Maybe if we were told a little more about some of these
cases, people would think twice before putting their hands in the State
treasury.

There are some people who oppose the idea that there should be greater
transparency because that way it would be public which leader "messed
up" and why. With such information we could save ourselves at least from
letting some known corrupt official, from a new government post, give us
lessons on revolutionary honor.

"When they steal from the State they are stealing from you."
To nobody's surprise, there are a group of "super-revolutionaries" who
dedicate their lives to blocking this information from ever reaching the
general population. They fight against blogs, websites and within the
national media against all of those who try to practice better journalism.

Their enemies aren't those who – from a ministry – take part in people
trafficking scams, or those who put a halt to foreign investment.
Likewise, they don't report those who rob social security funds or State
company managers who lose millions of dollars.

According to them, the greatest danger that the country faces today are…
bloggers. That's why they dedicate article after article to attack any
non-governmental statement in the blogosphere. They seek to convince the
Cuban people that wiping the bloggers out of cyberspace is a matter of
life and death for the Revolution.

With the very real problems that the economy is suffering, with the most
powerful country in the world's blockade still present, with hundreds of
thieves diverting resources and with incompetent bureaucracy hindering
the reforms process, looking for imaginary enemies might seem stupid and
it really is.

Source: Cuba: It Might Seem Stupid but… - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=123572 Continue reading
Mark Cuban encourages people not to finance … card debt  Self-made billionaire Mark Cuban is known for giving guidance … if you can," said Cuban. "Interest rates look to … Continue reading
Cuba experiencing an economic crisis
By Nora Gamez Torres
El Nuevo Herald Published Feb 7, 2017 at 12:02AM

MIAMI — The Cuban government reportedly paid $5.2 billion in 2016 to
meet its commitments after an extensive restructuring of its foreign
debt in the midst of an ongoing economic crisis not likely to improve
this year.

Despite growth in tourism — with a 15 percent increase in revenues for
the first half of 2016 that amounted to some $1.2 billion — the Cuban
economy will remain in the red this year, dragged down by foreign debt
obligations and the economic crisis in Venezuela, which provides
significant oil subsidies to the island nation.

While the Cuban government and the Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean, which uses the same official figures, predicted that
the gross domestic product will grow by 2 percent this year, economist
Pavel Vidal predicts a decrease of between 0.3 and 1.4 percent,
according to the latest report by the Cuba Standard Economic Trend Index.

The economic reforms undertaken by Cuban leader Raul Castro "had
promised a GDP growth of 5.1 percent, which was then adjusted to 4.4
percent. But the true average growth from 2008 to 2016 was barely 2.3
percent," the report states. "The ending couldn't have been any more
discouraging, with a recession in 2016 (-0.9 percent), and very
uncertain projections for 2017 in terms of a rapid reemergence from the
crisis and of what could happen with the Trump administration."

Vidal, a professor at the Javeriana University in Colombia and a former
official at the Cuban Central Bank, is the creator of the CSETI, an
index to measure the Cuban economy — published quarterly by Cuba
Standard — that correctly predicted the economic contraction in 2016.

Vidal estimates the Cuban government missed a payment of nearly 800
million dollars to providers and short-term debt contracts last year.
However, the government did pay the annual amount agreed after the
restructuring of its external debt with several members of the Paris
Club, according to former Cuban Minister of Economy, Jose Luis Rodriguez.

"To attract important volumes of foreign investment and new credits in
more favorable conditions, it was planned to pay around 5,299 million of
dollars ($5.2 billion) last year, a figure that according to the
information provided in the ANPP (National Assembly of People's Power)
was fulfilled, although a share of the short-term trade credits could
not be paid," Rodriguez said in an article posted on the Cuban website
Cubadebate.

Castro assured the Assembly at the end of last year that there would be
a "strict fulfillment of the obligations incurred as a result of the
rearrangement of the Cuban external debt," without providing figures. He
added that it was not possible to "overcome the temporary situation that
we are going through in the delay of payments to providers."

The reported foreign debt payment would have far exceeded revenue from
tourism last year, which Cuban economist Carmelo Mesa Lago estimates at
nearly $3 billion, as the official numbers have not yet been released.
The government provides no official figures of remittances from Cubans
abroad to relatives on the island, another important source of revenue
that could amount to another $3 billion, according to the Havana
Consulting Group.

But oil supply from Venezuela significantly decreased to 55,000 barrels
per day in 2016, as reported by Rodriguez — from 120,000 during the best
of times. Cuba has also lost around $1.3 billion in revenue from exports
of medical and other services to Venezuela, according to projections
made by island-based economist Omar Everleny Perez.

Source: Cuba experiencing an economic crisis; -
http://www.bendbulletin.com/business/5048402-153/cuba-experiencing-an-economic-crisis Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, Feb 7 (ACN) Cuban Vice-President and Minister of Economy … government and its ambassador to Havana for having signed the debt … between the European Union and Cuba. Both parties assessed the growing … Slovak companies to invest in Cuba, motivated by the facilities offered … Continue reading
Sherritt's nickel-price boost capped by debt, 'confusing' U.S. signals
on Cuba
Sunny Freeman | February 6, 2017 4:41 PM ET

David Pathe knows what it's like to be banned from the United States.

The chief executive of Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp.
received a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security three
years ago saying he was no longer welcome in the U.S. because of the
miner's business dealings in Cuba.

"There's frankly a certain random element to it," said Pathe, who has
been with the company for 10 years and CEO for five.

"I tell people that and they're flabbergasted — a lot of Americans I
tell this to can't believe it."

Sherritt is a joint owner, along with the Cuban government, of the Moa
nickel and cobalt mining, processing and refining operations, and also
produces about two-thirds of Cuban oil. The company has been operating
under the status quo — including crippling U.S. economic embargo.


Pathe, who heads up the largest foreign company in Cuba, isn't holding
his breath for a change in policy toward the isolated communist island
under the new U.S. president any time soon. Nor is he planning any
visits with old friends in New York City.

The Trump administration announced Friday a "full review" of U.S. policy
toward Cuba, leaving many scratching their heads about potential
sanctions or renewed travel bans.

Like the anxious Cuban people, Pathe dreams of a more normalized state
of affairs between Cuba and the U.S — which could see the company be
able to export oil and metal to the U.S. and also realize cost-savings
from importing American made machinery into Cuba, as it does to its
Ambatovy mine in Madagascar.

"Cuba getting reintegrated into the international financial markets
would be positive for us and enable us to access the U.S. capital
markets in ways we can't today," Pathe said.

So far those signals have been "confusing and conflicting," he added.

Trump has been reportedly interested in opening hotels in Cuba but also
said during his campaign that he planned to get tough on Cuba, including
a potential shuttering of the newly reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Under President Obama, relations with Cuba thawed, with more U.S.
travellers visiting the country. Pathe also noticed last year more
American companies present to "kick the tires" in the hopes of improved
trade flows between the two countries.

Pathe maintains his wait-and-see approach, given that he doesn't believe
Trump is ideological about relations with Cuba the way Republican
nominee rivals Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz might be, Pathe said in an
interview with the Financial Post.

" I don't think he's spent a great deal of time thinking about Cuba," he
said. "I frankly don't think Cuba is going to be very high on his agenda
for the next few years."

Meanwhile, the Sherritt CEO has other challenges to face, including a
depressed share price, a massive debt load related to development of
its 40 per cent owned, US$5.3 billion Ambatovy mine and a weak market
for nickel, its primary product. However, as a result of an agreement
with bondholders, the company holds and effective 12 per cent interest
in the mine. It has stopped funding its cash contributions to the mine
as a result.

Pathe said the company is seeing a slight rebound in nickel prices,
used to make stainless steel and other manufactured goods as the
underlying fundamentals improve and little new supply is slated to come
on the market.

Nickel has rallied of late amid a crackdown on mine production and
licences in the Phillipines, the world's top nickel producer. Sherritt's
share price has also surged 89 per cent in the past 12 months, but has
declined 79.3 per cent over five years. The stock rose 0.7 per cent on
the Toronto Stock Exchange to $1.36 on Monday.

The company forecasts an increase in nickel production in 2017 to
between 81,000 and 86,000 tonnes, up from 75,033 tonnes in 2016.
However, it expects lower oil production from its Cuban reserves in 2017
— about 11,000 to 12,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from
15,452 in 2016 as the operation winds down.

Sherritt reports fourth-quarter and full year 2016 earnings on February 16.

sfreeman@postmedia.com
Twitter: @SunnyFreeman

Source: Sherritt's nickel-price boost capped by debt, 'confusing' U.S.
signals on Cuba | Financial Post -
http://business.financialpost.com/news/mining/sherritts-nickel-price-boost-capped-by-confusing-and-conflicting-u-s-signals-on-cuba Continue reading