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… (RHC/Prensa Latina)-- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez continues … the meeting, Bruno Rodriguez said Cuban ties with Rome have a … cultural grounds, adding that in Cuba there is 'great affection … process of improving relations between Cuba and the European Union.  He … Continue reading
Rome, June 12 (RHC)-- A two-day environmental summit of the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations plus the European Union and four invited countries kicked off in the Italian city of Bologna on Sunday.  The agenda set by host and G-7 president Italy … Continue reading
Havana, June 12 (RHC)-- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez met Monday in Havana with his … European Union (EU) and Cuba.  The top Cuban diplomat commended also the … Continue reading
Human Rights Violations: How to Report them? / Somos+

Somos+, 20 March 2017 — During the last session of Academia 10/10, we
were joined by renowned Prof. Moisés Rodríguez Valdés, a physicist by
profession but one with ample knowledge of human rights and civil liberties.

He is the chief spokesperson in Cuba for Corriente Martiana. Attendees
enjoyed this very valuable conference during which, among other
important topics, he explained how to formally report human rights
violations to the United Nations. The following are some of the major
points he shared with us.

Report violations of human rights you have experienced to the United
Nations.

Not doing so encourages the perpetrators' sense of impunity, even if
this is not your intention.

The process is easy and does not take much time, but the effect can be
significant if everyone follows established procedures.

We hear reports on a daily basis, through Radio Martí and other
broadcasters, as well as through digital and print media, of human
rights violations against civil society activists not formally
recognized, who are vilified and repressed and, occasionally, are
subject to unjustified physical violence.

Using the media to raise public awareness is NECESSARY, BUT IS NOT
ENOUGH. That is because UN resolution 1503 precludes the organization
from considering complaints based on press reports (see annex, UN Res.
1503).

Some complaints are forwarded to international human rights
organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,
among others. There is nothing wrong with it, but this is also NOT
ENOUGH. UN Res. 1503 establishes that the complaint must be filed by the
victims, their representatives or organizations located in the places
where the actions were known to have occurred.

Furthermore, it is well-known that complaints by the European Union and
even the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), while
noteworthy, have proved to be inadequate in stopping systemic and
institutionalized violations depicting a persistent situation, which is
what triggers UN mechanisms.

Failure to communicate individual facts to this international
institution means to forego the one institution that can compel the
Cuban government to halt violations committed by state officials and
institutions, which essentially means State Security agents.

It is not a question of resolving individual cases but rather that out
of all the complaints made it will be possible to put members of the
Cuban government on the stand, as was done until prior to 2006, when the
Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the current UN Human Rights
Council (UNHRC).

The fact that the Cuban government has served on Council three times, or
that it is currently a member, does not preclude us from seeking redress
from that government through other channels provided we report each
violation we have personally experienced, or that others we know have
experienced, whether they are civil society activists or the population
at large.

For information on how to go about filing a complaint, we are attaching
the text of Res. 1503, which you should review prior to initiating such
communication, as well as the sample form to report violations to the
so-called special procedures.

We suggest that you begin the process by emailing your written testimony
to Corriente Martiana:

corrientemartiana2004@gmail.com

It will be reviewed and forwarded to the UN by people who have years of
experience in dealing with these matters. They will also send you
suggestions on how to format any future correspondence.

Do not fail to do so, for only in this manner will we contribute to
increase the political cost to the Cuban government for its systemic,
institutionalized violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
which keep the country in a continuous state of crisis, cause the steady
exodus of fellow countrymen and keep the citizenry mired in an effort to
survive amidst generalized fear and misery, which prevents them from
acting as legitimate citizens but rather as accomplices due to their
dependence upon the totalitarian regime imposed on our country.

Looking forward that you will carefully assess this suggestion, I remain,

Sincerely,

Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez Valdés

Human Rights Advocate

This document was prepared and distributed by Corriente Martiana, an
institution currently focused on the promotion of human rights through
face-to-face teaching, distribution of information and teaching
material, and implementing pressure strategies on decision-making
individuals.

Address: Ave. 45 # 2410 e/ 24 y 26. Cabañas, municipio Mariel, provincia
Artemisa. Cuba

Emails: corrientemartianacuba2004@gmail.com moises47@nauta.cu

Web page:
www,corrientemartianacuba.org
@cubamartiana

Mobile phone: +53 5 3351152

Annex 1

Procedure contemplated in Res. 1503, reviewed (summary of the main
points for purposes of this suggestion).

The fact that a communication is forwarded to the applicable government
and an acknowledgment of receipt is forwarded to the author thereof does
not mean any opinion as to the admissibility or merits of the
communication. When the Working Group finds that there is reasonable
evidence to the existence of a persistent sitatuon of manifest human
rights violations, the matter will be referred to the Working Group on
Situations for review. The Working Group on Situations will consist, as
before, of five members designated by regional groups, and due attention
shall be given to the rotation of its members.

The Group shall meet one month, at the latest, prior to the Commission's
meeting, in order to review particular situations referred to it by the
Working Group on Communications, and it shall subsequently decide
whether or not to refer some of those situations to the Commission.

Then, the Commission shall adopt a decision on each particular situation
brought to its attention in this manner. Confidentiality.

All initial steps of the process are confidential until a situation is
referred to the Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC). However, since
1978, the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights has disclosed the
names of those countries subject to review. Thus, if a situation of
abuses occurring in a given country are not resolved during the initial
stages of the process, it can be brought to the attention of the
international community through the ECOSOC, which is one of the main UN
bodies.

What are the admissibility criteria for a communication to be reviewed?

– No communication shall be admitted which is contrary to the principles
of the UN Charter or which displays political motivations.

– Only one communication shall be admitted if, after having reviewed it,
it is determined that there are reasonable grounds to believe –also
having taken into account all replies sent by the interested country–
that there is a persistent situation of manifest, conclusively proven
violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

– Communications may originate from individuals or groups claiming to be
victims of human rights violations or from those having first-hand,
reliable knowledge of those violations. Anonymous communications shall
be inadmissible, as well as those based on media reports.

– Each communication shall describe the events and indicate the purpose
of the petition, as well as the rights which were violated. As a general
rule, communications containing offensive terms or insulting comments
regarding the State against which a claim is made shall not be reviewed.

– In order for a communication to be reviewed all internal remedies must
have been exhausted, unless it can be convincingly proven that national
solutions would be ineffective or would take longer than reasonable
expected to be achieved.

Annex 2

THIS IS THE MOST COMMON COMMUNICATION MODEL USED, WHICH YOU MAY USE:

Communication to UN Special Procedures from CUBA.

(Read the instructions at the end prior to beginning your communication.)

i. Identification of individuals(s) victim(s):

1. Surnames:

2. Given Names:

3. Sex: M____ F____

4. Date of birth or age (at the time of being subject to the violation):

5. Citizenship(s):

6. a) Type of ID (ID from your country, passport or similar).

ID Card

b) Number:

7. Profession and/or activity (if there are grounds to believe that the
violation of rights and/or freedoms bears any relation to it(them):

8. Current address:

City: Province:

II. Identification of violation's perpetrators.

1. Date when violation occurred:

2. Place where violation occurred (please provide as many details as
possible):

3. Alleged perpetrators of violation:

4. Are perpetrators members of any official institution? Which one?

III. Please provide a detailed description of events and circumstances
under which the violation subject to the communication occurred (be
brief and concise).

IV. Indicate which rights were allegedly violated during incident
subject to the communication.

V. Identification of individual(s) or organization(s) filing the
communication:

1. Name and surnames of individual(s) or name of the organization and
representative's name:

2. a) Address of the individual or the organization's headquarters:

City: Province:

b) Email:

c) Telephone No. (landline):

d) Cell phone:

Instructions.

1. If you submit a handwritten communication, please use black or blue
ink and write legibly, preferably in block letters.

2. Your communication shall not be reviewed if you use insulting
language or political content.

3. Please limit yourself to describing the events in connection with the
incident and clearly and concisely provide only the essential details.
It is not a questions of evaluating or giving an opinion, only of
describing the facts.

4. No anonymous communications shall be accepted.

To clarify any questions, you can contact Moisés Leonardo Rodriguez at:

Avenida 45 número 2410 entre 24 y 26, Cabañas, municipio Mariel,
provincia Artemisa. CP 34100. Cuba.

Email: corrientemartiana2004@gmail.com

Let's do it! That way we will achieve a more favorable environment for
the defense of Human Rights!

P.A. Mosés Leonardo Rodríguez

Original Corriente Martiana founder.

Translated by: Anonymous

Source: Human Rights Violations: How to Report them? / Somos+ –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/human-rights-violations-how-to-report-them-somos/ Continue reading
Somos+, 20 March 2017 — During the last session of Academia 10/10, we were joined by renowned Prof. Moisés Rodríguez Valdés, a physicist by profession but one with ample knowledge of human rights and civil liberties. He is the chief spokesperson in Cuba for Corriente Martiana. Attendees enjoyed this very valuable conference during which, among other important … Continue reading "Human Rights Violations: How to Report them? / Somos+" Continue reading
Havana, June 6 (RHC)-- Foreign … Waszczykowski held talks Monday in Havana with Cuban Minister for Planning and … Cuban economy minister, the Polish diplomacy chief held talks with his Cuban … and Cooperation Agreement signed between Cuba and the European Union in … Continue reading
Iván García, 1 June 2017– The majority of the openly anti-Castro opponents I know do not live in lavish mansions nor do they possess items fashioned with the latest technology. Neither do they boast bank accounts in financial paradises and they do not own yachts or beach houses.  I don’t believe any of them know how … Continue reading "Autonomy of Cuban Dissidents Will Always Be Beneficial / Iván García" Continue reading
London, May 16 (RHC)-- A number of major banks operating in London are planning to move some 9,000 jobs out of the UK as the country prepares to leave the European Union, a new report has revealed.  A tally of job warnings since July last year, when 52 … Continue reading
… Relations between Cuba and Europe was inaugurated Monday in Havana. The European Union's Ambassador in Cuba, Herman … today's Cuban society. At the ceremony, Havana City Historian Eusebio … cooperation project run by the Havana Historian's Office. Edited … Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 9 May 2017 — Cubans have not seen the images of that lady who, armed only with her determination, stopped an armored police tank in the streets of Caracas. The official press also conceals the tears of those who have lost their children because of the repression of the those in uniform and the … Continue reading "Manipulation And Silence, Cuba’s Information Policy On Venezuela" Continue reading
Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of TodosMarchamos

14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested
this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa
Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March)
campaign for the release of Cuba's political prisoners.

The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with three
other activists outside the group's headquarters in Havana's Lawton
neighborhood. The women carried posters denouncing the harassment
against their movement, dissident Deisy Artiles told 14ymedio.

Soler was leaving the headquarters along with to Yamilet Garro, Aliuska
Gómez and Sodrelis Turruella when they were intercepted and arrested by
the police. Inside the house were Artiles, along with Ladies in White
Zenaida Hidalgo and Cecilia Guerra.

The police also detained, in the vicinity of the headquarters, the
former political prisoner Angel Moya Acosta and the activist Jose Oscar
Sánchez.

"The operation started on Friday morning," Artiles said, adding that "an
act of repudiation was carried out [against Berta Soler] at the time of
her arrest."

Dissident Ada Lopez was also arrested outside her home when she tried to
reach the headquarters of the movement. Her husband reported the arrest
and managed to photograph the moment she was taken to a police car.

In Matanzas, at least a dozen of the movement's women managed to reach
the church to attend Sunday Mass, while 19 were arrested on the way to
the parish.

"We have had an operation since Saturday in front of the houses of the
Ladies in White," said Matanzas activist Leticia Ramos Herrería.

The police "have been embroiled in trying to end our movement," says the
opponent. "The threats they are making against the activists and their
families are serious. Many are being fined for simply evading the police
cordon in front of their homes."

In the town of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba, a dozen members of
the group were arrested, while in Ciego de Avila the police violently
arrested the dissidents Lucía López Rondón and Mayden Maidique Cruz.

On Thursday, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) issued a
report in which it stated there were 1,809 arbitrary detentions in the
island during the first four months of 2017.

Throughout the month of April the organization documented 467 arbitrary
arrests, of which 335 were women and 132 were men. 147 of those arrested
were black and ten of them were "beaten brutally," according to the text.

The OCDH emphasizes that a climate of repression prevails "at a time
when the Cuban Government has achieved important international support
such as that from the European Union and the Government of Spain," and
warns that "in the coming months the political climate may be aggravated
because of the government's nervousness over the difficult economic and
social situation that Cuba is facing."

Source: Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of
#TodosMarchamos – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/dozens-of-ladies-in-white-arrested-on-the-100th-day-of-todosmarchamos/ 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
14ymedio, Havana, 8 May 2017 – At least 38 Ladies in White were arrested this Sunday in Havana, Matanzas, Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara, during the 100th day of the #TodosMarchamos (We All March) campaign for the release of Cuba’s political prisoners. The leader of the group, Berta Soler, was arrested along with … Continue reading "Dozens Of Ladies In White Arrested On The 100th Day Of #TodosMarchamos" Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Miami/Havana, 4 May 2017 — The team at the Cubalex Legal Information Center and its director, attorney Laritza Diversent, have obtained political refuge in the United States following the intensification of repression against the nonprofit organization dedicated to legally advising Cubans. Diversent, told 14ymedio, from a stop at Miami International Airport this … Continue reading "Laritza Diversent and Cubalex Begin Their Life In Exile" Continue reading
Brussels, April 29 (RHC-Agencies) -- The 27 European Union (EU) countries' leaders adopted unanimously the guidelines on Brexit negotiations with Britain, European Council President Donald Tusk said Saturday. After the bloc's first summit since … Continue reading
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 April 2017 — In the palace of the Captains General in Havana there is a throne awaiting its king. It was prepared when Cuba was still a Spanish colony and a monarch has never sat in its imposing structure. The visit of Spain’s King Felipe VI visit may end such a long wait, … Continue reading "The King, The President and The Dictator" Continue reading
Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, … country. After that meeting, the Cuban diplomatic head will be received … political dialogue and cooperation between Cuba and the European Union. Fernando … representatives of the Cuban government. Garcia Casas analyzed in Havana the state … Continue reading
Madrid, April 17 (RHC)-- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez has … on dialogue and cooperation between Cuba and the European Union.   In … , traveled to Havana and met with representatives of the Cuban government.  García Casas met with Cuban Foreign Minister … Continue reading
CUBA'S PREMIUM GAS SHORTAGE LEAVES DIPLOMATS STUCK
BY REUTERS ON 4/9/17 AT 6:40 AM

When they are not tending to international affairs, diplomats based in
Havana can be found these days stewing in interminable lines at gas
stations and concocting ways to increase the octane in fuel as Cuba's
premium gasoline shortage takes its toll.

Cuba sent around an internal memo last week advising that it would
restrict sales of high-octane, so-called "special fuel," in April. That
is not an issue for most Cuban drivers, whose vintage American cars and
Soviet-era Ladas use regular fuel.

But it is for the embassies that use modern cars whose engines could be
damaged by the fuel at most Havana gas stations. So the diplomats are
taking a leaf out of the book of Cubans, used to such shortages, and
becoming resourceful.

Given the U.S. trade embargo, Cubans have for decades had to invent new
ways to keep their cars on the road, replacing original engines with
Russian ones and using homemade parts.

"I bought octane booster, and the embassy has bought lubricants, meant
to help the motor deal with rubbish gasoline," said one north European
diplomat, who got a relative to bring the booster in his luggage given
it is unavailable in Cuba.

"At the moment we are using the car that runs on diesel, so we can
'survive'," said an Eastern European diplomat.

Cuba has not announced the measure officially yet. According to the
memo, "the special fuel remaining in stock at gas stations from April
will only be sold in cash and to tourists until the inventory is depleted."

"It's very serious. I have already suspended a trip to Santiago de Cuba
for fear of lack of gas," said one Latin American diplomat, adding that
it seemed like the problem would last. "Diplomats are very worried."

Some embassies in Havana have people scouting out which stations still
have some higher-octane fuel and are sending around regular updates to
staff. One gas station worker said they were getting small deliveries of
fuel each day still.

The embassies are also advising people to carpool or use the diplomatic
shuttle.

Meanwhile the European Union has requested from the ministry of foreign
affairs that one or more service centers be set aside for diplomats with
special gas, according to a European diplomat.

Cuba has become increasingly reliant on its socialist ally Venezuela for
refined oil products but the latter has faced its own fuel shortage in
recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the Communist-ruled island cannot easily replace subsidized
Venezuelan supplies as it is strapped for cash.

Although the memo referred to April, it is not clear how long the
shortage will last. Cubans joke that once something disappears in Cuba,
it is never to return, referring to products that have disappeared from
their ration book like cigarettes, beef and condensed milk.

The Peugeot dealership in Havana has sent its clients lists of technical
tips on how to protect their motors while using lower-grade gasoline,
including more frequent maintenance and ensuring vehicles at running at
optimum temperature before driving.

The shortage is also impacting others using modern cars such as taxi
drivers, tourists and workers at joint ventures.

Source: Cuba's Premium Gas Shortage Leaves Diplomats Stuck -
http://www.newsweek.com/cuba-premium-gas-shortage-diplomats-stuck-581066 Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 31 March 2017 — A delegation from the European Union in Cuba visited the Coexistence Study Center (CEC) in the city of Pinar del Río on Thursday. The group was headed by EU political attaché in Havana, Carlos Perez Padilla, and also included representatives from the embassies of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece … Continue reading "European Diplomats Visit The Center For Coexistence Studies In Pinar Del Río" Continue reading
14ymedio, 27 March 2017 – The Spanish airline Plus Ultra will operate regular flights between Havana and Barcelona from July 1, according to reports in Spanish media. The flights will operate once a week and will be the first to directly link both cities. As a launch promotion, round-trip tickets will cost 449 euros. Sources … Continue reading "New Airline Will Link Havana And Barcelona" Continue reading
Editorial: Holding the Repressors Accountable
DDC | Madrid | 31 de Marzo de 2017 - 04:08 CEST.

Both off and on the Island, in recent weeks several successful actions
have been taken against State-perpetrated violence.

Composed of lawyers, professors, human rights activists and political
and student leaders of several Latin American countries, a new
organization was announced: the International Commission for the
Investigation of Crimes against Humanity by the Castro Regime. Dedicated
in its first stage to documenting and investigating violations, it will
organize public hearings in various capitals and advocate for the
creation of an international tribunal to investigate these crimes.

In Havana, a delegation of the Ladies in White submitted to the Attorney
General of the Republic a detailed analysis of the repression suffered
by the women's movement from 2016 to 2017. The report was also presented
to the delegation of the European Union (EU) and the Apostolic
Nunciature, and in the next few days will be sent to the Military
Prosecutor's Office, the State Council and various embassies.

In Washington the Citizens for Racial Integration Committee provided the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a report covering the 187
cases of human rights violations of Afro-Cuban citizens. This report
will serve as the basis for efforts by various activists in their
dealings with Cuban authorities.

Also in the US, at the University of California Irvine (UCI) School of
Law, a group of independent journalists and activists from the Island
offered the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression first-hand
information on violations of this right. The group met with teachers and
students, and advised the Special Rapporteur to insist on his request
for an authorization to visit Cuba.

Meanwhile, at its last meeting the UN Committee against Enforced
Disappearances raised objections to the official Cuban report, called
for the Island's authorities to ratify the Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, and to recognize the International Criminal Court. It
also pointed out the fact that the Government does not currently
recognize the legitimacy of any human rights organizations in Cuba.

All this activity comes in addition to the sustained work, on and off
the Island, by organizations such as the Cuban Commission for Human
Rights and National Reconciliation, Archivo Cuba, the Foundation for
Human Rights in Cuba, the Cuban Human Rights Observatory, and Cubalex.

It is not just a question of documenting and publicizing each of the
violations and crimes, but holding the regime's representatives and
institutions accountable for their repressive and criminal record. The
joint work by international and Cuban organizations, although not
officially recognized, serves to pressure the repressors and serve
notice that their crimes are being methodically recorded and will not go
unpunished.

In recent months State-sponsored violence against opposition activists
and independent journalists has increased, but also growing and
strengthening are means and instruments to peacefully resist such
violence, and to keep the truth about our most recent history alive.

Source: Editorial: Holding the Repressors Accountable | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1490926100_30042.html Continue reading
Ladies in White Report the Repression They Suffer to Attorney General

14ymedio, Havana, 2017 — The Ladies of White Yamile Garro Alfonso,
Lázara Barbara Sendilla and Maria Cristina Labrada delivered on Monday,
as representatives of the whole movement, a summary report to the
Attorney General's Office on the repression they have suffered over the
last fifteen months.

The leader of the women's group, Berta Soler, explained to 14ymedio that
the report is the same as the one presented on 23 March by Leticia Ramos
to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression,
David Kayes, on "Arbitrary detention and harassment against the family
of Ladies in White," but that it had been "updated to yesterday."

Soler detailed that the new version of the report explains how "the
Cuban regime" threatens them "all the time" with fines to keep them from
leaving the country and with imprisonment.

The leader of the movement denounced that activist Lismerys Quintana
Ávila was sent to prison on Monday in what she defined as "a rigged trial."

"They are really inventing some crimes to be able to fine us and to kill
the Ladies in White," explains Soler

"We delivered it to the Attorney General's Office, the European Union
Delegation, the mailbox of the Apostolic Nunciature and the Embassy of
the United States," said Soler. She also said that they will also "hand
it over to the Archbishop of Havana." According to the Lady in White,
the movement wants the Catholic Church to understand what is happening
to them.

"They are really inventing some crimes to be able to fine us and to kill
the Ladies in White," explains Soler, who considers the actions of the
authorities arbitrary and also denounces "what they are doing to the
families, to the children and spouses," of the activists.

He added that they plan to deliver a copy of the text, about twelve
pages, to the Military Prosecutor's Office and the State Council, as
well as to send it to the embassies of Spain and the Czech Republic by
e-mail.

She also denounced that the Ladies in White headquarters in the Lawton
neighborhood of Havana is surrounded by "an operation" that "has been
around the clock since Thursday, March 23."

Source: Ladies in White Report the Repression They Suffer to Attorney
General – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/ladies-in-white-report-the-repression-they-suffer-to-attorney-general/ Continue reading
Dead Sea, March 30 (RHC-Xinhua) -- The United Nations, European Union and leaders of Arab states said Wednesday that there was no alternative to the two-state solution in ending the decade-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Addressing the … Continue reading
London, March 29 (RHC-Xinhua) -- Britain has officially begun the historic process to leave the European Union (EU) as the letter signed by Prime Minister Theresa May was sent to leaders of the 28-member bloc. "There is no turning back," May … Continue reading
Havana, March 27 (RHC-ACN)-- European Union ambassador to Cuba Hernan Portocarrero … weekend at the University of Havana, marking the 60th anniversary of … efficient and sustainable economy,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez during … the University of Havana, the EU ambassador to Cuba said that “despite … Continue reading
Brussels, March 21 (RHC-Xinhua) -- European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday announced that he will convene a summit on April 29 to approve the European Union(EU)'s guidelines on Brexit. This followed the British government's announcement … Continue reading
State of the Cruise Industry: Trump Effect, Cuba and More
by Susan Young | Mar 15, 2017 9:32am


"Demand for cruising in the last 10 years has increased 62
percent," Cindy D'Aoust, president and CEO, Cruise Lines International
Association (CLIA), told thousands attending the Seatrade Cruise Global
conference's "State of the Industry" general session at Port Everglades,
FL, on Tuesday.

Some 25.3 million ocean passengers will sail on CLIA lines in 2016, she
said, noting that more than $50 billion in new cruise ship orders are on
the books right now. That's twice as many new ship orders than what the
industry had a decade ago, emphasized D'Aoust.

What's Driving Business?

The four major cruise company executives then sat for a "State of the
Industry" discussion with reporter Susan Li of MSNBC, the session's
moderator. "What's driving business?" she asked.

"All of us have great experiences onboard our very differentiated
brands," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival
Corporation. "People love cruising, they see it as a great value and
they can't stop talking about it to all their friends and relatives and
we all do a reasonably good job of now promoting [the experience]."

"Customers are happy, the economy is doing well and we've had the Trump
effect," said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line
Holdings,who said the stock market is at an all time high.

Dio Rio continued: "We haven't had any external shocks to the system, so
all systems are go and I think all of us are seeing that in bookings and
pricing. It's going to be a good year."

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises, focused on the
ability of cruising to give people the freedom to travel -- to go to
places in the world they might not go to on land.

Vago said the cruise industry's focus on safety and security makes them
feel cocooned and confident to travel: "Customers think, 'I can visit
that part of the world and I can do it in a safe mode. I can explore,
and I can 'touch' places."

From the perspective of Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean
Cruises Ltd.: "For a long time, we've really been expecting this – [a
strong surge in demand for cruise vacations] -- and in the last few
years, we've had a lot of things that retarded this, but all of a
sudden, I think the understanding of what a cruise offers, seems to have
taken hold."

He said it's almost as though someone released it from a bag. "We're
seeing it in the United States, which is a tremendous market because of
consumer confidence and the economy doing well," said Fain, but added
"actually we're [also] seeing it in Europe and Asia is just exploding."
Donald added that part of the burgeoning demand is because "we've
invested a lot to create demand." He said there's "no big correlation
between economic growth and demand. One factor? The industry is all over
the world, so it has the ability to weather any recession that hits one
region or economy.

The Trump Effect

What about the Trump effect? Li asked. "What about policies that U.S.
President Donald J. Trump's administration may take that could have an
effect on corporations, such as border taxes, corporate taxes that may
be cut?"

"It's too early to tell," said Donald. "We just have to wait to see what
the taxes are." He said his company pays taxes everywhere in the world
and operates in lots of political environments…so the industry
just has to wait for specifics of any policy changes.

Donald noted that the cruise industry pays lots of taxes that other
industries don't pay, and in some cases, there are taxes the industry
doesn't pay.
Vago emphasized that it wasn't Washington as much as Brussels [the
European Union] that was impacting the cruise industry. "From the
regulatory side, Brussels sometimes is certainly more the driver for our
industry," Vago stressed.

"One of the things that is very heartening to me…is that people do
understand the economic benefit that we all contribute to the local
society," Fain said, pointing to CLIA's release of annual numbers and a
thorough economic analysis that show the local economic impact in jobs
and other factors.
For example, Fain noted that CLIA's recent numbers show the cruise
industry is responsible for 350,000 jobs, just in the United States, and
there are many more across the globe.

"When you have that kind of economic impact, governments tend to want to
help [the industry involved]," Fain said. "While nobody can predict the
future, we have some really good reasons to believe that maybe we're not
as vulnerable than some."

Del Rio said "most businesses today recognize that the Trump
administration is a pro-business government and we're all going to
benefit from a basket of initiatives, whether it's infrastructure,
whether it's less regulations, tax reform that could put more money in
consumers' pockets, and that's good for all businesses."

Today, the industry carries 25 million people across all social/economic
levels, Deo Rio noted: "So everyone is going to benefit if it's true
that these kind of initiatives come to fruition."

"I agree we have to wait and see," he added, "but at least we're talking
about the right things and that puts a bounce in everybody's step, and
has triggered the Trump Effect."

He said the stock market is up nearly 13 percent since the beginning of
the year "and that's...great for business."

But What About Cuba?

Del Rio, a Cuban American who emigrated to the U.S. when he was seven,
is now head of a company that sails to Cuba and has publicly expressed
his delight at that development. All three of his line's brands are
sailing there this year.

So Li asked Del Rio about President Trump's potential "revisiting" of
the Cuba situation – with the potential for Trump to roll back existing
policies put in place by former President Obama allowing the cruise
industry to begin service.

"Let's hope he revisits it in a positive way," said Del Rio. "I'm all
for lifting the embargo. It's been a failed policy for 57 [or so]
years." He said that after that time frame, "you'd think someone wants
to try something new."

Del Rio continued: I salute President Obama for starting that process.
All of us are going to Cuba or have already gone. It's a major market
that could develop over time."

He noted that "Cuba has infrastructure limitations today but certainly
Cuba can be a major force in the cruise business for years to come, and
I hope the administration sees that potential. They are business oriented."

As for discussing the issue, "I think it's in the best interest always
to just bring people together," said Donald. "Who knows what the
administration is going to come up with. I have no particular insight on
that."

Donald said that as long as the Cuba policy that impacts cruise travel
isn't rolled back, "we'll continue to forge forward." He agreed with Del
Rio that the embargo being lifted would be the best policy for Americans
and for the Cuban people.

"But the powers that be will discuss that," Donald stressed. "We're just
privileged and honored to be able to sail there."

He said Cuba is a beautiful country with beautiful people and "so many
Americans want to go there."

Fain found it interesting that the cruise industry is so much in the
center of the discussion about Cuba, and says it demonstrates the
industry's advantage: "Nobody's talking about, 'oh, this is great for
the hotel industry.' Nobody is talking about, 'oh, this is great for the
airline industry.'"

Cruising offers an opportunity to visit ports of call or places that
would be a little more difficult to visit, said Fain. Even though Cuba
is a fairly insignificant part of any cruise line's business right now,
"I think it says something about one of the great attributes of
cruising, which is that we bring that infrastructure with us."

China Potential

Li asked if the administration would opt to label China a currency
manipulator, what effect that would have? Doesn't that hurt businesses
that do business in China?

"China one day – it's inevitable -- will be the largest cruise market in
the world," said Donald. Probably, larger than the entire cruise
industry is today and it's just sheer numbers of people."

He added that the China market will take a long time to develop, the
industry has to build ships to serve it, and there isn't enough shipyard
capacity to make it happen in a short time frame.

"But for us again, we're in the business of travel and we can connect
people," said Donald, adding that currency manipulation as a topic for
cruise leaders to weigh in on, "is kind of beyond us."

Vago emphasized that "our assets are movable," referring to the ability
of ships to be moved to markets, based on global conditions. "The world
is the oyster," he said, pointing to the industry's three percent market
penetration, which reveals great potential.

Whether executives are talking about China or Cuba, Vago said it's
important to remember that the cruise industry's assets can move as
needed. Still, he's excited about the potential for those markets and
others across the globe.

Source: State of the Cruise Industry: Trump Effect, Cuba and More |
Travel Agent Central -
http://www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/state-cruise-industry-trump-effect-cuba-and-more Continue reading
Havana, February 28 (RHC)-- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez met Monday in Havana with the … his meeting with the top Cuban diplomat, the Spanish foreign affairs … state of bilateral relations between Cuba and the European Union (EU … Continue reading
Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio, EFE

14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The presentation of the Oswaldo
Payá "Freedom and Life" Prize has led to a diplomatic conflict, after
the Cuban government vetoed the entry into the country of three of the
guests: OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Former Mexican President
Felipe Calderón, and Mariana Aylwin.

Almagro, Calderón and Chilean delegate Mariana Aylwin were unable to
travel to the Caribbean country on Tuesday to participate in the event
called by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy, chaired by
Rosa Maria Payá, daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá,
which the Cuban government Cuban has labeled a "provocation."

Around Payá's house, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, a police
operation deployed in the early hours of the day prevented activists
from reaching the home. From Manila Park, near the house, State Security
agents dressed in civilian clothes demanded documentation from any
dissident or independent journalists who approached.

Payá told this newspaper that her phone had been "out of service" in the
afternoon although "in the morning it worked." The ceremony was attended
by seven activists who had spent the night in the house "plus another 20
people who where able to reach it," said the dissident. Among them was
the head of the political-economic section of the US Embassy in Cuba,
Dana Brown, as well as diplomatic representatives from Sweden and the
Czech Republic.

Payá said that the award ceremony had been surrounded by a lot of
repression on the part of the regime, Cuban State Security and the
Foreign Ministry." She condemned the reprisals "suffered by civil
society members who wanted to participate in the ceremony, resulting in
many of them being arrested and others prevented from leaving their homes."

All of the leaders of the opposition groups on the island "were
invited," Payá told this newspaper. "There are some with whom we have
lost communication over the last few days because of everything that is
happening, and others who are not in the country and others who couldn't
get here."

"We hope that this aggression, this rudeness, will find a response and a
reaction in all the governments belonging to the Organization of
American States (OAS), in all the governments of our region and also in
the European Union," said Rosa María Payá.

Luis Almargo tweeted: Our interest: To facilitate #Cuba's approach to
Interamerican values/principles and to expand the country's achievements
in science, health and education.

The Chilean and Mexican Chancelleries regretted the decision of
Cuba, and Chile announced that it will call its ambassador on the island
for consultations.

Meanwhile, the only official response from Cuba has come from the
Cuban embassy in Chile, which issued a communication referring to the
matter as "a grave international provocation against the Cuban
government," with the aim of "generating internal instability" and
affecting Cuba's diplomatic relations with other countries.

According to this note, the act was created "by an illegal anti-Cuban
group that acts against constitutional order and that arouses the
repudiation of the people, with the collusion and financing of
politicians and foreign institutions."

The ceremony finally took place without the presence of the
international guests. "The chairs will remain empty" until the awardees
"can land in Havana" to pick them up in person, assured Rosa María
Payá. Other Cuban guests were prevented from leaving their homes or
arrested on the road.

Independent journalists Henry Constantin Ferreiro and Sol García Basulto
were detained in the airport of Camagüey at the moment that they tried
to board a flight towards the capital.

Constantín Ferreiro is vice-president of the Inter-American Press
Association for Cuba and remains in custody without his parents being
able to see him or provide him with personal hygiene supplies, according
to his father.

Havana's decision not to authorize the arrival of the head of the OAS
was known after a night of uncertainty in which it was not clear whether
Almagro had traveled to the Cuban capital, where he initially planned to
fly from Paris, where he had participated in institutional activities
yesterday. Rosa María Paya today called on the OAS to support the right
of the Cuban people to decide on their destiny.

"To the point that Cuba is democratizing, all democracies in Latin
America will also gain stability," said the opposition leader, who hoped
that "today is the beginning of an OAS commitment to the cause of rights
and freedom in Cuba."

She pointed out that they do not expect the OAS to "speak out against
anyone," but instead to put itself "on the side of all Cuban citizens in
their right to begin a transition process."

Source: Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio,
EFE – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/oswaldo-paya-award-ceremony-is-absent-the-winners-14ymedio-efe/ Continue reading
14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 22 February 2017 — The presentation of the Oswaldo Payá “Freedom and Life” Prize has led to a diplomatic conflict, after the Cuban government vetoed the entry into the country of three of the guests: OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Mariana Aylwin. Almagro, Calderón and Chilean delegate Mariana … Continue reading "Oswaldo Payá Award Ceremony Is Absent The Winners / 14ymedio, EFE" Continue reading
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini Brussels, February 16 (RHC)-- European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has warned that the current polarization and division in the US may result in destabilizing the rest of the world.  … Continue reading
Video not subtitled: Rocio Monasterio talks about her dreams for Cuba in Miami 14ymedio, Mario J. Penton, Miami, 11 February 2017 – Rocio Monasterio, a Cuban living in Spain who became popular after starring in a televised debate at the end of November in which she confronted Castro supporters about the legacy of former Cuban … Continue reading "“Those Who Do Not Help the Victims of Castro-ism Are Complicit in the Oppression,” says Rocio Monasterio / 14ymedio, Mario Penton" 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
14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Madrid, 29 January 2017  —  Europe is terrified by Donald Trump’s triumph. it fears the vision of the American friend, the primus inter pares. That fact has just been revealed by a macrosurvey by the French pollster Ipsos, which conducted it in 24 nations through interviews with 18,000 people. Ipsos is the … Continue reading "Europe Is Terrified / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner" Continue reading
Ag to Trump: Help trade with Cuba
January 28, 2017 8:00 am • By Agriculture Coalition(0) Comments

On behalf of the undersigned U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce related
businesses and associations, we urge you to continue to show your
support for American agriculture by advancing the relationship between
the U.S. and Cuba and building on the progress that has already been made.

Net farm income is down 46 percent from just three years ago,
constituting the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great
Depression. This strain on the farm economy is felt across all sectors
of the industry and the thousands of small communities that make up
rural America.

The importance of trade to America's farmers and ranchers cannot be
overstated. The share of U.S. agricultural production exported overseas
is 20 percent by volume, with some sectors being much higher. For
example, exports account for over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree
nuts and cotton, over 60 percent of soybeans and over 50 percent of rice
and wheat. Positive farm income throughout America would not be possible
without increasing access to foreign markets, like Cuba.

Mr. President-elect, as an international business icon, you understand
how difficult it is to be competitive without the ability to extend
credit to your customers. We need the administration's support for
legislation that would remove these arbitrary and archaic restrictions
on extending credit for the purchase of agricultural commodities and
equipment.

Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for
exporting agricultural products and equipment to our island neighbor
could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million
jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with
high-quality American-grown food.

Cuba imports nearly 80 percent of its food to feed a population of 11
million people and upwards of 3 million tourists annually. Cuba's $2
billion agriculture import market could provide tremendous benefits for
farmers across the country and help American agribusiness offset recent
losses.

In addition to the size of the Cuban market, its proximity to U.S. ports
allows for considerably lower shipping costs and shorter delivery times
than our foreign competitors. The logistical advantages alone should
make Cuba a common-sense partner for two-way commerce.

Instead, the federal government overreach has put American farmers at a
global disadvantage. U.S. agriculture continues to lose out to our
foreign competitors and our net sales have been steadily declining since
2009.

As a result of trade restrictions, the U.S. has fallen from its position
as the No. 1 supplier of agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now
the No. 5 supplier after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina and
Vietnam. The U.S. needs to be No. 1 again. Especially given many of
Cuba's imports, including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat and corn,
make up more than 70 percent of what they import and they're all grown
right here in the U.S. by hardworking American farmers.

As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps
to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also
solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand
trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries.
It's time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with
agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington.

We look forward to working closely with you and your team, and please
let us know if we can provide any assistance moving forward.

These comments are from a letter sent to President-elect Donald Trump by
a coalition of more than 100 U.S. organizations representing farmers and
agribusinesses. Full text of the letter is at http://bit.ly/2jFK3OL.

Source: Ag to Trump: Help trade with Cuba -
http://www.illinoisfarmertoday.com/news/opinion/ag-to-trump-help-trade-with-cuba/article_08c3d7b4-e3e5-11e6-a2b1-c7176da100df.html Continue reading
United Nations, January 25 (RHC)-- The United Nations has strongly denounced Israel’s approval of the construction of 2,500 new settler units in the West Bank, stressing that such "unilateral actions" are hindering peace. On Tuesday, UN … Continue reading
Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of
wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30
PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí
International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the
final redoubts of communism in the world.

While a Secret Service agent opened Obama's umbrella at the foot of the
airplane stairs as he greeted Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez,
two hours earlier in Miramar, west of Havana, State security agents had
fiercely repressed a group of forty women and two dozen men who were
demanding democracy and freedom for political prisoners.

The dissident movement Ladies in White was instrumental in the
olive-green autocracy's calculated political reforms before the
international gallery.

Raúl Castro, hand-picked for the presidency in the summer of 2006 by his
brother Fidel, took the brunt of the escalating violence, and in three
way negotiations with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos
and the National Catholic Church in 2010, he freed 75 dissidents and
sent the majority into exile.

Castro II changed the rules of the game. The repressive modus operandi
of the regime began using brief detentions and returned, in a worrisome
way, to beatings, death threats, and verbal attacks on its opposition.

The afternoon that The Beast rolled into Old Havana, where Obama ate
dinner with his family in a private restaurant, the regime sent a
message back to Washington: the reforms — if they can be called reforms
— would be made at the convenience of the Palace of the Revolution, not
the White House.

On December 17, 2014, Raúl Castro and Barack Obama decided to
reestablish diplomatic relations and to turn around the anachronistic
policies of the Cold War.

The strategy of Obama proved indecipherable to the Taliban of Castroism.
He did not threaten to deploy gunboats nor subvert the state of affairs.

In his memorable speech at the Grand Theater of Havana on the 22nd of
March, he simply offered things that the majority of Cubans desire, and
of course did not renounce the doctrines that sustain American
democracy, of supporting private businesses and political rights.

Obama said what he thought looking into the eyes of Raúl Castro,
squatted in an armchair on the second balcony of the theater and
surrounded by the military junta that has administered Cuba for almost
60 years.

The 48 hours of his visit shook Havana. Neither the strong security
measures nor the Communist Party's strategy for minimizing the impact of
Obama's speech prevented the spontaneous reception of the people of
Havana that greeted the president wherever Cadillac One passed.

But official reactions to the visit were not long in coming. Fidel
Castro, retired from power, sick and waiting for death in his
residential complex of Punto Cero, opined that Obama's outstretched hand
was poisoned candy.

The propaganda machinery of the regime began to corrode, and some signs
of economic backlash against intermediaries and private sellers of
agriculture products, which began in early January, were reinforced in
the following months.

Obama's visit entrenched the hard-core of the island's totalitarianism.
The gang closed ranks, they returned to the spent Soviet language, and
began to render to Castro I a cult of personality modeled on a North
Korean manual.

It was assumed that the arrival of the president to Havana would be the
event of 2016 in Cuba, but at 10 PM on the night of November 25th,
according to the government, Fidel Castro died.

His death was no surprise. With 90 years and various ailments, the death
of the ex-guerilla was imminent. For better or for worse, he placed Cuba
on the world political map, confronting it with strategies of subversion
against the United States.

His revolution was more political than economic. He could never erect a
robust economy, and the architecture and textile factories during his
extensive rule, only produced things of shoddy and bad taste. Any
reasonable person should analyze the benefits and prejudices of the
regime of Fidel Castro. Sovereignty powered by cheap nationalism.
Division of families. Polarization of society. Relentless with its
enemies and local opposition.

Agriculture declined, he buried the sugar industry and it is difficult
to find any economic, sports or social sector that has not gone
downhill. There was no political honesty in recognizing his failures. On
the contrary, the regime entrenched itself in what it knows best: odes,
panegyrics and trying to enshrine its absurdities in gothic lettering.

And then, 2016 was the year of Raul Castro's diplomatic apparatus, the
most outstanding in his decade as president of the republic. In the last
five years he has reaped success. The secret negotiations for the
reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba. The
intermediation of peace in Colombia, with the Roman Catholic Church and
the Russian Orthodox Church. The cancellation of financial debts and
negotiation of a new deal with the Paris Club. And he even managed to
blow up the Common Position of the European Union. Unobjectionable
triumphs of Castro's advisers in international relations.

But those same advisers misjudged their strategy against the United
States. Like the American media and pollsters, they failed to discern
the Donald Trump phenomenon. They may now regret that they have not made
enough progress during Obama's term.

Trump is unpredictable. He repeals the agreements reached with the
United States saying he will make a better one. But something is clear
to the regime. To negotiate benefits you have to make concessions. No
more gifts.

In 2016 there was much more. Mick Jagger unfolded his unusual physical
energy in a mega-concert, scenes of the movie Fast and Furious were
filmed in Cuba, and almost every day a celebrity landed in Havana.

In May, Chanel offered a haute couture show in the Paseo del Prado in a
country where the majority of inhabitants earn $25 a month and not
everyone can see Chanel models in fashion magazines.

Cruises began arriving from Miami as did regular flights from the United
States. There were more than 1,200 cultural and academic exchanges, and
the visits by weighty figures of both governments have been numerous.

The meetings and negotiations have been constant; as constant as the
repression. According to the National Commission of Human Rights and
Reconciliation, in the month of November there were 359 arbitrary
detentions of dissidents, activists, and independent journalists.

The détente is not about to land on the Cuban table. Markets continue to
be out of stock, two meals a day is still a luxury, and one hour of
surfing the internet is equivalent to the wages of a day and a half of
work by a professional.

The year 2017 will be a key year. Barack Obama, the conciliator, will
not be in the White House, and in Cuba the old leader Fidel Castro will
not be there either.

Source: Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro /
Iván García – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-2016-the-visit-of-barack-obama-and-death-of-fidel-castro-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 2 January 2017 — A spring rainstorm with light gusts of wind fell over metropolitan Havana on Sunday, March 20th, when at 4:30 PM Air Force One landed at the first terminal of the José Martí International Airport carrying President Barack Obama to one of the final redoubts of communism in the world. … Continue reading "Cuba 2016: The Visit of Barack Obama and Death of Fidel Castro / Iván García" Continue reading
USA Rice Federation, more than 100 others push for ag trade with Cuba
Monday
Posted Jan 16, 2017 at 3:38 PM

"With less than one week until the Trump administration takes the reins,
it's important that the agricultural community voices its support for
policies that will allow us to sell our crops and products in a free and
open market," Ben Mosely, vice president of government affairs for USA
Rice, said. "Trade with Cuba is not just a priority for U.S. rice but
the dozens of other organizations and businesses that represent nearly
every sector of our vital industry that signed-on in support of reduced
trade and financing barriers for agricultural commodities."

By Peter Bachmann / USA Rice Federation

USA Rice, along with more than 100 state and national
agriculture-related organizations and agribusinesses sent a letter to
President-elect Trump and his team asking his administration to
prioritize the removal of private financing and trade barriers for
agricultural commodities and equipment.

"With less than one week until the Trump administration takes the reins,
it's important that the agricultural community voices its support for
policies that will allow us to sell our crops and products in a free and
open market," Ben Mosely, vice president of government affairs for USA
Rice, said. "Trade with Cuba is not just a priority for U.S. rice but
the dozens of other organizations and businesses that represent nearly
every sector of our vital industry that signed-on in support of reduced
trade and financing barriers for agricultural commodities."

While the needed fixes fall under the jurisdiction of Congress, the
letter asks the administration to consider "progress made in normalizing
relations with Cuba, and also solicit the administration's support for
the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help
American farmers and our associated industries.

The groups highlighted the fall of the U.S. as Cuba's go-to for food,
"The U.S. has fallen from its position as the number one supplier of
agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now the number five supplier
after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina and Vietnam. The U.S. needs
to be number one again. Especially given many of Cuba's imports,
including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat and corn make up more than 70
percent of what they import and they're all grown right here in the U.S.
by hardworking American farmers," Mosely explained.

The letter was organized in part by USA Rice and the dozens of state
agriculture organizations and businesses that make up Engage Cuba's
state councils for Cuba.

Source: USA Rice Federation, more than 100 others push for ag trade with
Cuba -
http://www.stuttgartdailyleader.com/news/20170116/usa-rice-federation-more-than-100-others-push-for-ag-trade-with-cuba Continue reading
Arbitrary Arrests Rose And Repression Spread To Civil Society In 2016 /
14ymedio

14ymedio, Madrid, 4 January 2016 – Last year closed with a balance of
almost 1,000 more arbitrary arrests than in 2015, according to data from
the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights, based in Madrid, which on
Wednesday issued its annual report on the situation on the island.

In 2016, there was a total of 9,351 arbitrary arrests, 5,383 against
women and 3,968 against men. A year earlier, there were 8,314 acts of
this type.

Most of these arrests were "made by the political police to prevent the
exercise of the rights of association, assembly and peaceful
demonstration," the entity says.

Organizations most affected have been UNPACU (with 138 detainees, 70
raided homes and 48 members currently in prison) and the Ladies in
White, who have suffered harassment by the authorities every Sunday
since they started street demonstrations almost two years ago.

The Observatory also cites the cases of two activists whose legal
situation at the moment is delicate. One of them is Eduardo Cardet,
national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL),
arrested on November 30 and for whom the prosecutor is requesting up
to 3 years in prison for the alleged crime of "undermining the
authority." Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), has been in
prison since late November for a graffiti farewell to Fidel Castro – Se
fue (He's gone) – and his family knows very little about the details of
his situation.

In addition to the opposition organizations or prominent members of the
anti-Castro activism, the Observatory notes that there has been an
extension of the repression of civil society, as, for example, against
the Convivencia (Coexistence) project in Pinar del Rio, led by Dagoberto
Valdes.

The current Law of Associations regulates the make up of these entities,
the report says, but independent organizations claim that in practice
they are not allowed to exercise their rights and there is no
recognition of their legal status by the State. "In addition to these
legal impediments, the political police 'monitors,' that is they talk,
spy, threaten, repress and try to infiltrate every group," it added.

The report describes the general situation of Cuba's civil rights,
noting that there has been no positive change despite the normalization
of relations with Washington, initiated more than two years ago, and the
rapprochement – "voluntary and with the acquiescence of the government"
– with the European Union, which signed a new bilateral agreement with
Cuba on December 12.

"We cannot assess the Cuban situation and the effectiveness of
international changes related to Cuba, from a perspective that does not
take into account the exercise of rights and freedoms," reflects the
organization.

The Observatory notes that there are still no elections nor political
pluralism and that the year has ended without a new Electoral Law,
repeatedly promised by the powers-that-be.

The economic conditions on the island continue to be negative the
organization stresses, and although official propaganda calls for
support for the self-employed sector, there have been withdrawals of
licenses from several private workers "for making use of the citizen's
right to publicly disagree with the Cuban regime."

The report adds that workers' rights are permanently violated because
workers cannot freely choose their employment or be remunerated
according to their social contribution, which pushes them to the illegal
market. Discrimination against Cuban workers is also addressed,
recalling the case of the workers from India who worked on the Manzana
de Gomez Hotel in Havana, at salaries of 1,400 to 1,600 dollars, while
Cuban workers were receiving less than 100 dollars.

"In the last six years, the Cuban government […] has announced more
repressive and disciplinary measures in the workplace under a model that
aims to maintain the essence of the system: collectivism, state
ownership of the means of production, planning, centralization of
decisions and the prohibition of individual accumulation of wealth," it
adds. In addition, in early 2011 the Government launched a plan to lay
off 1,300,000 state employees.

The text also refers to discrimination against organizations of
vulnerable groups such as LGTBI or racial diversity, since they cannot
defend the rights of their members, being outside of officialdom.

"The only solution to the problem of all Cubans is a comprehensive
reform, that is, constitutional and legal changes that cover all spheres
of social life [and are accompanied by] public policies that respond to
the huge problems […] of the poorest and most destitute, which are the
immense majority of citizens," the report close

Source: Arbitrary Arrests Rose And Repression Spread To Civil Society In
2016 / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
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14ymedio, Madrid, 4 January 2016 – Last year closed with a balance of almost 1,000 more arbitrary arrests than in 2015, according to data from the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights, based in Madrid, which on Wednesday issued its annual report on the situation on the island. In 2016, there was a total of 9,351 arbitrary … Continue reading "Arbitrary Arrests Rose And Repression Spread To Civil Society In 2016 / 14ymedio" Continue reading
End of Year Declaration / Rafael León Rodríguez

Rafael Leon Rodriguez, 30 December 2016 — One more year of the young
third millennium is about to conclude and give way to the next, 2017,
the fifty-eighth of the totalitarian and one-party regime that, under
the omnipotent power of the Castros, has controlled the Cuban
archipelago since the middle of the last century.

This year, which is now over, has witnessed important and hopeful
political events on the islands, framed fundamentally in the real
opportunity of an opening towards a new, prosperous and plural state of law.

The visit to Havana of the President of the United States of America,
Barack Obama, last March, certified the political will of the head of
the US executive branch of government to accompany us in this essential
and urgent task.

The European Union, for its part, recently concluded an agreement with
Cuba to try to leave behind the so-called Common Position and to make
viable other political openings.

The refusal of the Cuban authorities to take positive steps in terms of
civil and political rights of citizens — that promote their plural
participation in the political and economic development of society — has
stopped the start of this process of democratic opportunities.

The other significant event of the year that will soon end was the
physical disappearance of Fidel Castro. The fall of the founder of the
dictatorial regime began, actually, ten years ago, in July of 2006 when,
due to health problems, he was forced to hand over power to his brother
Raúl. This transit towards the end, announced in some way, concluded
last November.

But in our opinion, all this recent history must be analyzed and
projected in the future, which obviously does not imply erasing
historical memory. Cuba and the Cubans deserve a better present and a
hopeful future.

However, so far, the authorities are reluctant to take steps in the
direction of respect for civil liberties and the human rights of
society. Worse still, they have increased repression and harassment of
peaceful opponents and open dissent. This reality, coupled with the
uncertainty caused by statements by the US President-elect Mr. Donald
Trump on migratory issues, which may have some effect on certain
modifications to the Cuban Adjustment Act, have once again triggered a
citizen exodus in all directions.

The country's economic scenario also remains stressed, a victim of lack
of productivity and government contradictions. Right now, President Raúl
Castro informed the National Assembly that we are in an "economic
recession." The nation's GDP decreased 0.9% in 2016.

The historical dependence of specific countries, as for example in
recent times to Venezuela, paralyzes us when they suffer adverse
situations. In these December declarations to Parliament, the president
also assured us that Cuba would not return to the
capitalism. Nevertheless, he called for work to boost foreign investment.

That is: the investment of foreign capitalists in Cuba. Then: capitalism
in Cuba, but not of Cubans. Is not this a contradiction and an
absurdity? In essence we continue to live under the effects of a
systemic crisis that, of course, will only be resolved when the
prevailing system changes. A system that has already provided evidence
that proves that it has not been successful in those Western countries
where they have implemented it. And we belong to that part of the world:
the Western Hemisphere.

In recent years, Cuban institutions dealing with statistical issues have
been warning of the accelerated aging of the population. And even, they
warn about the decrease of the population, saying that we will never
reach 12 million people. False. We are already more than that, scattered
all over the world. Therefore, we must begin by recovering them through
a necessary new law.

One Constitution that we contemplate recognizes all of us, through dual
citizenship, with rights and duties as equals, without privileges of
individuals, groups or classes. Beginning a process of democratization
involving all the children of the Cuban nation and based on the United
Nations Human Rights Covenants, which have been signed by the Cuban
authorities and now are only awaiting ratification and implementation.

Then and only then, we will leave behind the crises and will begin a new
era of progress towards modernity, prosperity and the common good, with
all, for all and in Peace.

Source: End of Year Declaration / Rafael León Rodríguez – Translating
Cuba -
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Rafael Leon Rodriguez, 30 December 2016 — One more year of the young third millennium is about to conclude and give way to the next, 2017, the fifty-eighth of the totalitarian and one-party regime that, under the omnipotent power of the Castros, has controlled the Cuban archipelago since the middle of the last century. This year, … Continue reading "End of Year Declaration / Rafael León Rodríguez" Continue reading
14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 25 December 2016 — Exactly one quarter of a century ago, the Soviet Union disappeared. The hecatomb occurred on Dec. 25, 1991, the direct consequence of the prior (and failed) coup in August of that year. Vladimir Putin believes that it was the worst disaster that has happened to his … Continue reading "The Second Cold War / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner" Continue reading