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Raul Castro

Cuba's secret negotiator with US was president's son: cardinal
AFP March 24, 2017

Havana (AFP) - Cuban President Raul Castro's son, Alejandro, was the
communist island's envoy for secret negotiations with the United States
that led to the countries' historic rapprochement, a cardinal close to
the talks said.

Speculation had long swirled that Alejandro Castro Espin, the
president's 51-year-old son, headed up the secret talks.

But the confirmation from Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the former archbishop
of Havana, is the most official namedrop to date -- and further boosts
the profile of Castro Espin, who is touted as a possible future
president of Cuba.

Castro Espin was "at the head of the Cuban delegation," Ortega said in a
speech to a conference in the United States that was published in the
latest issue of Cuban Catholic magazine Secular Space (Espacio Laical).

Ortega, who recently stepped down as head of the Cuban Church,
represented the Vatican at the talks, which Pope Francis played a key
part in brokering.

The US delegation was led by Ricardo Zuniga, a top adviser to then US
president Barack Obama.

The negotiations led to the announcement of a rapprochement in December
2014 after more than half a century of Cold War hostility.

Castro Espin, an army colonel, is an international relations expert.

The president's only son, he kept a low profile for years. But he was
present when his father and Obama held their first-ever talks in Panama
in April 2015.

Many observers now tip him to be a major player in the power transition
due next February, when Castro is due to step down.

Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 56, is seen as Castro's heir apparent.
But Castro Espin is increasingly viewed as a president-in-waiting.

Ortega also unveiled another mystery of the US-Cuba talks, saying the
date of the rapprochement announcement -- December 17 -- was chosen
because it is Pope Francis's birthday.

Source: Cuba's secret negotiator with US was president's son: cardinal -
https://www.yahoo.com/news/cubas-secret-negotiator-us-presidents-son-cardinal-212705806.html Continue reading
Change is coming to Cuba, but how quickly and for whom?
By Neal Simpson
The Patriot Ledger

HAVANA - At a small beach town on the Bay of Pigs, 27-year-old Kenny
Bring Mendoza approached to see if we needed a taxi.

We didn't, but Kenny was happy to show off his proficiency in English
and even willing to answer a few of my questions about recent economic
policy changes in Cuba, things as basic as buying cars or renting out
rooms. But Kenny wanted me to know that one of the biggest changes was
that we were talking at all.


"A couple of years ago, I couldn't be sitting here, speaking with you,"
he told me.

The fact that citizens and tourists now mingle more or less freely in
Cuba, an ostensibly socialist country 90 miles off the U.S. coast, is
just one sign that this island nation is increasingly opening itself up
to the world and, in particular, to the U.S., its longtime archenemy.

U.S. airlines now fly direct from New York to Hanava, cruise ships tower
over the city's aging piers and Americans are increasingly easy to find
among the Canadian and European tourists who have been visiting the
island for decades. Travel agents on the South Shore say they're
fielding a growing number of calls from people who want to know how they
can get to Cuba before the rest of the tourists arrive.

"It's still the unknown for people," said Susan Peavey, whose agency has
offices in Marshfield and Harwich Port. "Everybody is really interested."

I was one of those tourists last month, exploring the island nation in
the tradition of a Ledger photojournalist and editor who had visited
every decade or so to try to understand life in a place that was largely
off-limits to Americans.

What I found was a Cuba that looked much the same as it would have in
decades past despite profound economic changes that are lifting the
fortunes of some Cubans while leaving many behind. Cuba's socialist
government, under pressure to spur growth in a stagnant economy still
recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 25 years ago,
has begun to tear down many of the barriers that have separated Cubans
from the outside world. Residents can now rent out rooms to tourists,
open a limited number of privately owned restaurants, access the
internet and stay at resorts that were previously reserved for
foreigners. From Havana to Playa Girón, there's ample evidence of
President Raul Castro's effort to grow the economy's private sector,
which largely takes the form of self employment, not companies.

But some Cubans I talked with told me that thawing U.S.-Cuba relations,
and the growing number of American tourists visiting the island in the
last two years, has meant more for their personal livelihood than the
loosening of laws on personal property. They told me they'd welcome more
Americans and seemed to harbor no resentment over the Cold War-era
embargo that the U.S. continues to enforce against its Caribbean
neighbor after more than half a century.


"For me," Junior Fuentes Garcia, a 42-year-old Cuban selling books and
watches in Habana Vieja's Plaza De Armas, told me in Spanish, "the
economy is more important."

Cuba opens its doors

Arriving in old Havana at night, the city can look to American eyes like
the set of a post-apocalyptic movie set on a Caribbean island some 50
years after catastrophe cut it off from the rest of civilization. The
streets of Habana Vieja are dimly lit, narrow and filled with people who
are quick to get out of the way whenever a big 1950s Chevy or Ford comes
around a corner. The architecture, hauntingly beautiful but often gutted
and abandoned, recalls a time when Havana was the playground of wealthy
American gangsters and known as the Paris of the Caribbean despite the
extreme poverty and illiteracy most Cubans lived with before the revolution.

Havana by day is a different place, and much more difficult to
understand. Tower cranes rise over government-funded construction
projects along the Paseo de MartÍ while in the adjacent borough of
Habana Centro men labor with 5-gallon buckets and rope to keep up
dilapidated buildings that pre-date the revolution. A fellow traveler
and I walked around a gleaming white hotel that had risen on the site of
a former school building, then toured the nearby Museum of the
Revolution, where the paint was peeling off the terra cotta tiles of
what was once a presidential palace.

And of course, there were the big, beautiful mid-century American cars
that have become inextricably associated with modern-day Cuba even
though they share the country's roads with at least as many newer
Volkswagens, Kias and a variety of makes I had never seen. They are
truly everywhere, though many have been pressed into service as taxis
for tourists.

It's easy to understand why Cubans fortunate enough to have a car would
be tempted to spend their days driving tourists around. Under the Cuban
government's confounding dual-currency system, tourists use one kind of
peso pegged to the American dollar while Cuban citizens mostly use
another kind of peso that's worth closer to 4 cents each. The system,
which is meant to give the government control over American dollars
coming into the country, means that taxi drivers can charge foreigners
rates not far below what they'd pay in the U.S. and make far more than
the average Cuban wage of less than $200 a month, according to a survey
conducted last year by Moscow-based firm Rose Marketing Limited.

I talked with one taxi driver who spoke gleefully about the flood of
Americans he had seen over the last two years and the many more he hoped
were on their way. His mother and sister had moved to the U.S. in recent
years, but he said life in Cuba was too good for him to follow.


Tourism 'brain drain'

Grant Burrier, an assistant professor at Curry College in Milton who has
been visiting Cuba regularly since 2005, told me that the money-making
potential in tourism is actually becoming a problem for the Cuban
government, which has announced but not followed through with plans to
consolidate its two currencies. Burrier said the lure of the tourist
economy has created an internal "brain drain" in Cuba, tempting
engineers and other high-skill workers to leave their government jobs to
seek work in the tourism sector.

In that sense, he said the tourist trade has fueled "severe inequality"
between Cubans who have access to the tourist currency and those who do not.

"Those kinds of issues will be really problematic for the long-term
future of the Cuban economy," he said.

The socialistic ideal of economic equality is clearly far from achieved
in Cuba, but there were no signs of extreme poverty during my brief time
there. Despite its stagnant economy, the Cuban government continues to
provide its citizens with free health care and education as well as
subsidies for food. The country's infant mortality rate is lower than
that of the U.S., and its literacy rate is 99.8 percent, according to
the CIA World Factbook.

But even with all that, it's not clear whether the Cuban government can
maintain the ideals of the revolution as a younger generation comes into
power and gains a better understanding – thanks in part to the internet
– of the lifestyles and consumer goods available outside the confines of
socialism. The median age in Cuba is now 41, according to the CIA World
Factbook, meaning most Cubans were born more than a decade after the
Cuban Revolution and the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion two years
later. The median-aged Cuban was a teenager when the Soviet Union
collapsed and Cuba was left in the lurch.

"That's going to be the key struggle for the revolution going on," said
Burrier, who visited Cuba with 17 Curry students earlier this year.
"Most people you talk to in Cuba, they just want opportunity. They want
economic opportunity, they want economic stability."


American business

Many people in the United States are betting on economic opportunity in
Cuba as well. Last month, a delegation that included U.S. Reps. Jim
McGovern and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts visited Cuba and met with
representatives from Northeastern University and the Massachusetts
Biotechnology Council to discuss opportunities in the agriculture and
health sectors. Former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat and
longtime advocate for a more open Cuba, is adamant that the island will
soon open its doors wide to American business.

"They obviously have tremendous needs and those need are going to be met
by American capitalism," said Delahunt, whose next trip to Cuba in May
will be aboard a cruise ship. "That's just what's going to happen."

But Delahunt and most Cuba watchers don't expect change to come quickly
to one of the world's last remaining Marxist-Leninist countries. The
country's leaders only need to look to their former ally, Russia, to see
what happens when a country pulls out of a communist economy too quickly.

"I wouldn't be surprised if every year we hear about one or two little
changes," said Javier Corrales, a son of Cuban exiles who teaches
political science at Amherst College, "but they're not interested in
going fast."

Neal Simpson may be reached at nesimpson@ledger.com or follow him on
Twitter @NSimpson_Ledger.

Source: Change is coming to Cuba, but how quickly and for whom? -
http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20170324/change-is-coming-to-cuba-but-how-quickly-and-for-whom Continue reading
From revolution to Raul: A brief history of Cuba
Friday
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at 2:58 PM
Updated Mar 24, 2017 at 9:54 PM

1959 – After years of fighting, Fidel Castro succeeds in overthrowing
the authoritarian government of Fulgencio Batista. Castro launches a
series of reforms, including the nationalization of private property and
business and improvements to health, education and infrastructure.
1960 – The U.S. imposes an embargo on all exports to Cuba except food
and medicine.
1961 - Around 12,000 Cuban exiles backed by the CIA land in the Bay of
Pigs in a bid to overthrow the Castro government. The invasion fails
almost immediately and Cuba eventually sends more than 1,100 captured
militants back to the U.S. in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine.
2008 – An ailing Fidel Castro announces his resignation as president.
His brother, Raul, takes over, promising in his inauguration speech to
lift some restrictions on freedom. The same year, Cubans are allowed to
use cellphones and send text messages for the first time.
2010 – Raul Castro announces the elimination of 500,000 government jobs
and promises to allow more private business licenses, signaling a shift
toward a more significant private economy.
2011 – Cuba legalizes private sale of homes and used cars for the first
time in half a century. President Barack Obama loosens restrictions on
travel to Cuba.
2013 - Cuba ends a longstanding policy requiring any citizen wishing to
travel abroad to obtain a government permit and letter of invitation.
Cuban passports are still expensive, though, leaving them out of reach
for many.
2014 - Cuba and the U.S. agree to exchange prisoners, re-establish
economic ties and begin easing some elements of the embargo. Cuba takes
steps to open the country for foreign investment.
2015 – Cuban and the U.S. reopen embassies in each other's countries.
2016 – Fidel Castro dies at the age of 90.
2017 – U.S. ends the "wet-foot-dry-foot" policy that had allowed Cuban
exiles who reached American soil to seek permanent residency.
2018 – Raul Castro is due to step down as president. His expected
successor, Miguel DÍaz-Cane, was born the year following the Cuban
Revolution.

Source: From revolution to Raul: A brief history of Cuba -
http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20170324/from-revolution-to-raul-brief-history-of-cuba Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 22 March 2017 — On March 17 of this year, a group of NGO (non-governmental organization) representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean celebrated in Havana Cuba’s political agenda in support of people with disabilities of every kind.  The next day, for the twentieth time, Cuban institutions honored the legacy of Terry Fox … Continue reading "Task for Alejandro Castro: Protecting Cuba’s Disabled / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Post-Fidel-Castro Cuba isn't that different from before
Deepa Fernandes, PRI's The World

For years, opponents of Cuba's socialist revolution pegged the system's
downfall to the inevitable death of its leader, Fidel Castro. Yet,
months after Castro's death, there have been no major protests on the
streets of Havana, no popular uprising against the ruling Communist Party.

As Gladys Esther Marta Luís can attest. She's a manicurist who is
currently unemployed. For her, things have continued on much like they
were before. Since the former president's death in November, she said,
"I don't see any changes," adding, "Life seems the same to me."

But change — especially overnight — was unlikely, anyway, said Cuban
novelist, Laidi Fernández de Juan. "Fidel had been out of power for
almost 10 years," she said.

In the last decade, Castro's public appearances became rarer and rarer.
However, Castro has not, by any means, been forgotten, Fernández said.
Cuban state media regularly touts the late leader's legacy. And
recently, a monument was dedicated to Castro in the city of Santiago de
Cuba — a simple stone tomb.

"Whether or not you mourn the death of Comandante Fidel Castro, well,
that depends on your perspective, your ideology," Fernández added.

Singer Hugo Osle is someone who mourns Castro's passing. Osle came of
age in the years after the Cuban revolution. "This is very close to home
for me," he said. "Fidel was a very special angel here on Earth."

So, as a musical director of a youth choir, Osle has found a way to
honor Castro: His young singers perform traditional revolutionary songs
in and around Havana. Their concert program is called "Fidel is Cuba."

"None of us inside Cuba nor anyone outside Cuba can forget him," said
one of the singers, 25-year-old Osmel Fernández. He said Castro left a
mark on his generation.

"Since we were young, the only leader we have known was Fidel, right?"
Fernández said. "We grew up in this system."

Not only that, but one reason that Cuban life has remained much the
same, says Cuban writer, Dimas Castellanos, is that, its "very
political" system runs deeper than just a single leader.

"The apparatus of the party, the apparatus of the state was formed by
Fidel Castro," he said. "And the people in that apparatus fundamentally
follow Fidel Castro's ideas. They think like him."

In fact, Castro made sure his socialist revolution would continue by
handing power over to the one person he knew would continue what he
started — his brother, Raul Castro, according to the Havana-based
freelance journalist Oscar Alba.

"In the US and in Europe, people think that Cubans will now oppose Raul
Castro's government, but this is impossible," Alba said. "You have to
understand how things here work. Raul Castro controls the country the
same way Fidel did."

Yet Raul Castro has made some significant changes, including opening up
the economy some, to allow people to run their own businesses. Even so,
Alba doesn't believe that bigger changes are on the way now that Fidel
Castro is dead. "For that, you'll have to wait … until Raul Castro
leaves office," Alba said.

But back to Gladys Esther Marta Luís, the out-of-work manicurist. In her
one-room apartment in Central Havana, recently, she was making dinner,
recently — a simple meal with extra beans and rice, since she can't
afford to buy much meat.

She says she was a fan of Castro's. "The most beautiful thing I can tell
you is that I never wanted Fidel to die because, well, I'm a Fidelista."

However, her love for Fidel Castro doesn't extend automatically to his
brother Raul Castro. No, for him, she has some pointed advice: "What we
need now is more jobs and a wage rise because our salaries are very low
compared to what things cost."

She's not so concerned about abandoning the political system, she'd just
like to be able to buy meat for dinner more often.

Source: Post-Fidel-Castro Cuba isn't that different from before -
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/post-fidel-castro-cuba-isnt-that-different-from-before/ar-BByFuxQ Continue reading
Raul Castro Squandered His Last Chance / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 March 2017 — A year
ago Cuba had a once in a lifetime opportunity. US President Barack Obama
came to the island willing to turn the page on political
confrontation. The gesture transcended the diplomatic situation, but
Raul Castro – fearful of losing control – responded by putting the
brakes on economic reforms and raising the levels of ideological
discourse and repression.

Nations are not presented with opportunities every year, nor even every
century. The decision to entrench itself and not to undertake political
flexibilizations has been the Plaza of the Revolution's most egotistical
measure of recent times. Failure to know how to take advantage of the
end of public belligerence with our neighbor to the north will bring
this country lasting and unpredictable consequences.

These effects will not be suffered by the so-called "historic
generation" – those at the forefront of the 1950s Revolution – now
diminished by the rigors of biology and desertions. Rather than the
generals in olive-green, the ones who will pay the price will be those
who are still sleeping in their cradles or spinning their tops in the
streets of the island. They don't know it, but in the last twelve months
a short-sighted octogenarian tricked them out of a share of their future.

The greatest waste has been not exploiting the international moment, the
excitement about foreign investments, and the expectations everywhere in
Cuba of taking the first steps towards democratic change without
violence or chaos. It was not the job of the White House to encourage or
provoke such transformations, but its good mood was a propitious setting
for them to be less traumatic.

Instead, the white rose Obama extended to Castro in his historic speech
in Havana's Gran Teatro has faded, beset by hesitations and fears. Now,
it is our job to explain to these Cubans of tomorrow why we were at a
turning point in our history and we threw it away.

Source: Raul Castro Squandered His Last Chance / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
– Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/raul-castro-squandered-his-last-chance-14ymedio-yoani-sanchez/ Continue reading
The Government Prohibits Berta Soler From Leaving Cuba / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 21 March 2017 – This Tuesday, the Cuban government
prevented Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White movement, from
traveling outside the country because of an unpaid fine for for an
alleged infraction "against public adornment." Meanwhile, the
authorities accuse her of having thrown "papers in the street," which
the regime opponent clarified to 14ymedio were "leaflets."

Soler took advantage of the action to denounce the disappearance, this
Tuesday, of her husband, the activist Angel Moya. "We consider that he
is 'disappeared' because when he left the house he was being followed,"
she detailed. "Today I am calling him and his phone is shut off or
outside the coverage area."

"This morning I was supposed to travel to the United States, first to
Miami and then to California," said Soler. However, after passing
through the immigration booth and security controls at Jose Marti
International Airport in Havana, she was intercepted by an immigration
official who asked her to accompany him to an office.

The official told Soler that they would not let her board the plane
because she had not paid a fine for "throwing papers into the street."
According to Decree 272, whoever "throws into the public street waste
such as papers, wrappings, food waste, packaging and the like," will
have a fine of 50 pesos and must "pick them up immediately."

"Here, the person who owes the Cuban people freedom is Raul Castro,"
Soler replied to the accusation. She claims that it was sheets with
political slogans. "The fine is from last September, after that I went
to Panama and the United States, so I don't understand this now," the
dissident complains.

Last year, when the Aguilera Police Station informed Soler about the
fine, she signed a document informing her of the contravention with an
ironic "Down you-know-who," and threw it in the agents' faces, telling
them: "I do not accept any inappropriate fines."

Subsequently, Soler was informed that the unpaid fine could be doubled,
and it was suggested that the police could exchange each Cuba peso
(approximately 4 cents US) of the fine for one day in jail or instead
not let her travel on Tuesday.

The activist was planning to meet in California with David Kaye, United
Nations rapporteur for freedom of expression. Instead of Soler, Lady in
White Leticia Ramos will attend the meeting.

"In the report we list all those fines that they assign to us
inappropriately," reflects Soler. "They are illegal and violate the
Republic's penal code," a situation that is complemented by "the
harassment, the threat and violence that is unleashed against our
families, against our children and our husbands to try to get us to stop
our activism."

This month marks a year since the Lady in White was prevented from
attending mass at Santa Rita parish, and also blocked from attending the
Sunday marches on 5th Avenue, a traditional route that goes back to the
origins of the movement after the repressive wave of 2003, known as the
Black Spring.

Source: The Government Prohibits Berta Soler From Leaving Cuba /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/the-government-prohibits-berta-soler-from-leaving-cuba-14ymedio/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 March 2017 — A year ago Cuba had a once in a lifetime opportunity. US President Barack Obama came to the island willing to turn the page on political confrontation. The gesture transcended the diplomatic situation, but Raul Castro – fearful of losing control – responded by putting the brakes … Continue reading "Raul Castro Squandered His Last Chance / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 21 March 2017 – This Tuesday, the Cuban government prevented Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White movement, from traveling outside the country because of an unpaid fine for for an alleged infraction “against public adornment.” Meanwhile, the authorities accuse her of having thrown “papers in the street,” which the regime opponent … Continue reading "The Government Prohibits Berta Soler From Leaving Cuba / 14ymedio" Continue reading
… taken from http://elcomercio.pe) Cuban President Raul Castro sent a … Continue reading
Tourists, private enterprise give Cuba much needed boost
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 11:30 am
By David Bordewyk

Running an Italian restaurant plus a small bed and breakfast keeps owner
Yucimy on her feet from sunrise to well past sunset. It's 7 a.m., and
she is already preparing omelets for her five B&B guests. Her cheerful
greeting helps everyone shake off a night's sleep.
Meanwhile, Yucimy's employees are busy moving tables and chairs to the
sidewalk outside the restaurant, which fronts the town's main avenue,
and are inviting passerbys to stop in for breakfast.
Late afternoon will have Yucimy and staff, some of whom are family, busy
pouring drinks and planning dinner menus for the B&B guests. At night's
end, Yucimy can be found with her feet up in the small living room just
off the restaurant's kitchen, catching a few minutes of TV.
All in a day's work for this privately owned business. Welcome to
Vinales, Cuba.
In Havana, Rosana Vargas welcomes visitors to her jewelry store, where
she shares her small business story. She started making fine silver
jewelry five years ago in her small apartment. Today she has more than
40 people employed in her stylish, privately owned shop along a busy
capital city street.
How much does she pay in taxes to the government for her small business
success, she is asked.
Too much," Rosana says, sounding ever like a well-seasoned capitalist.
Except this isn't Wall Street or Main Street. This is Cuba.
Along with 28 other Americans from the Midwest, I traveled to Cuba for
seven days last week on a people to people tour, a kind of
educational/tourism tour of the island nation that has the approval of
both countries. An employee of a tourism company run by the Cuban
government was our guide.
The trip gave a view of a country with compelling contrasts and
day-to-day economic struggles for many Cubans that dropped our jaws. It
also introduced us to some wonderful, inspiring Cuban people.
To be sure, Cuba remains very much a country ruled by leaders who belong
to the Communist Party. Repression of speech, assembly, and the press
remain very much in play in Cuba today. The government pulls and pushes
the levers that control much of Cuba's way of life. It's been that way
since soon after Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista regime in 1959.
Yet, doors are opening. Capitalism, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance
are no longer negatives in Cuba. They are happening today in Havana and
other parts of the country.
It will be difficult for the government to put the brakes on this
growing capitalistic wave. President Raul Castro or the next leader may
decide to encourage even more of this kind of growth. Who knows?
This is a country where the average official salary of a state
government worker is the equivalent of about $25 per month. By the way,
most Cubans work for the government or government-owned enterprises.
Teachers, lawyers, and other professionals can make more money tending
bar or waiting tables in a restaurant than they can in the jobs they
were trained and educated to do.
There is a saying in Cuba that "if you pretend to pay me, I will pretend
to work."
Pretending to work for pretend pay is nothing new in Cuba. That's been
going on for many years.
What's new is the rapidly burgeoning capitalism.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Cuban economy went into a
free fall. Within a few years, the Cubans realized that growing tourism
was necessary to help stave off collapse.
Tourism in Cuba has indeed accelerated the past 20 years. Canadians,
Germans, British, Chinese, among others, travel to Cuba. They come for
the rum, cigars, salsa music, and the sun. The number of foreign
tourists coming to Cuba has risen from about 750,000 in 1995 to 3.5
million two years ago.
And now the Americans are coming. The warming of relations between the
two countries put in motion by the Obama administration means more and
more American tourists are wanting to go to Cuba. We bumped into fellow
Americans most everywhere we went during our week-long trip.
Cubans on the street we met cheer what Obama did. They express anxiety
about President Trump.
Which takes us back to the small town of Vinales, in the heart of Cuba's
tobacco-growing region. The town has been a tourist destination for many
years with bed-and-breakfasts throughout. Today, you see construction in
much of the town. Residents are adding a room or two where they can to
their small homes to accommodate the growing tourist tide.
Will growth in tourism pull Cuba out of its many economic problems?
Probably not. Economic stability likely will take much more, given the
scope of challenges.
A personal observation that overrides the nuts and bolts of Cuba's
wobbly GDP is this: My travel experience was that Cubans are genuine,
friendly, and welcoming. They smile wide and extend a hand when you tell
them where you are from. They are willing to chat, even if language is a
barrier. (Although almost no one seemed to know where South Dakota was
located in America. The closest point of reference that rang a bell with
Cubans was the Minnesota Twins. Cubans love baseball.)
More than once I heard Cubans on the street tell me they are eager for
the day when the embargo imposed on their country by the United States
will end. They believe such a move would make lives better for average
Cubans.
In the meantime, they keep building B&Bs (casa particulares), opening
privately-owned restaurants (paladares), and welcoming more American
tourists.
David Bordewyk is executive director of the South Dakota Newspaper
Association, Brookings. He participated in a people to people tour of
Cuba along with journalists and others from the Midwest March 5-12.

Source: Tourists, private enterprise give Cuba much needed boost - Black
Hills Pioneer: Opinion -
http://www.bhpioneer.com/opinion/tourists-private-enterprise-give-cuba-much-needed-boost/article_ffbe4ce2-0d76-11e7-8f17-73c0b08841d7.html Continue reading
It Appears He Is Right / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 17 March 2017 — According to his brother [Raul Castro],
later endorsed by the docile National Assembly of People's Power, the
"historic leader" [Fidel Castro] ordered that there would be no public
establishment, street, avenue, park or building named after him, nor any
monuments erected to him.

At first glance it seems a gesture of humility and modesty at the end of
his life after a lifelong display of a overwhelming ego. However, there
was no order with regards to the media, perhaps betting he would stay
alive in them.

At least that is what emerges from the monumental and interminable media
campaign about his figure and thinking, initiated before his death and
continuing "in crescendo" to the present. Spectacles of all type,
conferences, festivals, dances, songs, documentaries, expositions, and
every kind of thing in that sphere, dedicated to him, offer reliable proof.

Should there be any doubt, the Book Fair, which is now touring the
provinces, has surpassed all signs of servility with a sick personality
cult; colloquia, conversations, workshops, expositions and much more,
all in his honor and, in addition, the presentation by different Cuban
publishers of 24 titles by him and about him, including three comic
books about his life. No world personality, including Cervantes and
Shakespeare, has had so many books on the stands of the fair, in
addition to the official presentations each and every one of which is
filled with the usual words of praise.

A close friend told me, "We are ruled by a dead man." It appears he is
right!

Source: It Appears He Is Right / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/it-appears-he-is-right-fernando-dmaso/ Continue reading
! Fernando Damaso, 17 March 2017 — According to his brother [Raul Castro], later endorsed by the docile National Assembly of People’s Power, the “historic leader” [Fidel Castro] ordered that there would be no public establishment, street, avenue, park or building named after him, nor any monuments erected to him. At first glance it seems … Continue reading "It Appears He Is Right / Fernando Dámaso" Continue reading
Los cubanos querrían ver al nieto de Raúl Castro entonando “La Maza” de Silvio, aunque él prefiere cantarle a la masa de puerco Continue reading
Nuevas políticas que incluyen restregar en las narices de los cubanos su propia miseria Continue reading
¿Genuina admiración o amuleto de los cuentapropistas para 'librarlos de todo mal'? Continue reading

La fórmula de Raúl Castro para desempeñarse como jefe de jefes de Cuba, desde que heredó los cargos de su hermano, y sin poseer la verborrea oratoria de aquel, se basó hasta ahora en el clásico equilibrio del palo y la zanahoria: combinar la represión con "reformas" bien recibidas por la población. Pero ese equilibrio ya no existe. Fue roto por el propio dictador, que ahora solo da palos, sin zanahorias.

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Informes del Ministerio de la Defensa de Caracas revelaron que autoridades cubanas, entre ellas el general Raúl Castro, viajan en aviones propiedad del Estado venezolano, según indica el periódico El Nacional.

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HAVANA —  Foreign ministers and other officials … 25 Caribbean countries met in Havana on Friday to discuss a … Caribbean States at the Havana Libre Hotel in Havana, Cuba, March 10, 2017 … and peace," Sooner added. Cuban President Raul Castro also attended … Continue reading
An Illegal Business Operating Under Protection of the Castro Name / Juan
Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 9 February 2017 — In Cuba being a member of the
Castro family is like having a modern-day license to commit piracy.
This inalienable right comes in handy for the dynasty's descendants,
especially those born with the compound surnames Castro Soto del Valle
and Castro Espín.* The most recent example of the prerogatives that come
from sharing a pedigree with the royal family of Cuba is a private
business in Havana's exclusive Miramar district run by Sandro Castro
Arteaga.

In addition to being a well-known DJ, the young man is the son of Alexis
Castro Soto del Valle and grandson of the late Cuban leader Fidel
Castro. In the midst of a campaign against drugs, prostitution and
fraud, the capital's municipal government "temporarily" suspended the
issuance of licenses for new privately owned restaurants on September
16, 2016. Yet in that same month it ignored directives from Isabel
Hamze, acting vice-president of the Provincial Administrative Council,
and issued a permit for a new bar and restaurant to be operated by Sandro.

Located at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 70th Street in Miramar,
the former Italian restaurant is now a fashionable discotheque, a place
where an elite young crowd enjoys Havana's nightlife with no concern for
the hour of day, the day of the month, or how much alcohol or other
substances are consumed. The establishment, which reserves the right to
admit whomever it chooses, has a maximum legal occupancy of ninety
people, far beyond the limit set by law for seats in private restaurants.

The restaurant sector grew out of a governmental self-employment
initiative known as cuentapropismo, which was an intended as a
palliative solution to families' economic problems. As a result, there
are now more than 1,700 private restaurants throughout the island. These
small businesses have benefitted from Raul Castro's modest reforms, the
noticeable boom in tourism and the rapprochement with the United States.

"If you like what's cool, what's exclusive, and you like rubbing elbows
with celebrities, Fantasy has what you're looking for. It offers
different environments, good music and a demanding clientele. The
interiors aren't anything great but it's the perfect place to organize
an event. Once inside, you are protected while at the same time you are
beyond the law. It's heaven for party-goers," says a young regular. "In
a country where everything is controlled, it's uncontrolled," he adds.

Another Cuban youth, who lives in Miami but was recently visiting the
island, says he has been to the discotheque a couple of times and claims
that the requirement for getting in is "looking like you have enough
dollars to pay. If not, you are not well received."

"You have to make a reservation beforehand but, if someone gets there
and offers them more money, you run the risk of losing your table.
Individual drinks cost an average three or four dollars and a bottle can
go for as much as eighty-five dollars," adds the young visitor from Miami.

Faced with such blatant chicanery, Havana started reissuing licenses for
new private restaurants on October 24, although it continues to warn
owners that they must comply with regulations on noise and closing times
(3:00 AM) as well as prohibitions against hiring artists, on the
consumption and sale of drugs, and on prostitution and pimping.

It also announced that there would be routine quarterly inspections of
new and established businesses in which "different factors" — a
euphemism for the regime's various agencies of repression — would
oversee compliance with regulations. It also set up groups in every
region to monitor this new form on non-governmental management.

But Fantasy manages to evade any oversight. It defies easy
categorization. By day it is a pizzeria and by night a nightclub. This
combination leads to a certain "ambiguity" in terms of its actual use
and purpose.

"Where the captain rules, the soldiers have no say. No one can go
against the son of Alexis Castro Soto del Valle. It's a scandal; it's
unbearable. They play music at full volume. Boys come and get into fist
fights. Trucks make deliveries at all hours of the day and night. The
police are here but they don't do anything. Miramar is a residential
area. We have sent a ton of letters complaining to authorities but they
don't dare take any action. Sandro is one of Fidel's grandsons and
that's all that matters," says a neighbor who, like others, prefers to
remain anonymous.

*Translator's note: A reference to the children of Fidel and Raul
Castro respectively.

Source: An Illegal Business Operating Under Protection of the Castro
Name / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/an-illegal-business-operating-under-protection-of-the-castro-name-juan-juan-almeida/ Continue reading
By Nelson Acosta HAVANA (Reuters) - Foreign ministers and … 25 Caribbean countries met in Havana on Friday to discuss a … by representatives from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and other countries in Central … and peace," Sooner said. Cuban President Raul Castro attended the … Continue reading
By Nelson Acosta HAVANA (Reuters) - Foreign ministers and … 25 Caribbean countries met in Havana on Friday to discuss a … by representatives from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and other countries in Central … and peace," Sooner added. Cuban President Raul Castro also attended … Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 9 February 2017  — In Cuba being a member of the Castro family is like having a modern-day license to commit  piracy. This inalienable right comes in handy for the dynasty’s descendants, especially those born with the compound surnames Castro Soto del Valle and Castro Espín.* The most recent example of the … Continue reading "An Illegal Business Operating Under Protection of the Castro Name / Juan Juan Almeida" Continue reading
Cuba: Renting Out Medical Specialists / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 4 March 2017 — Twenty years later, Nivaldo (names changed),
43, an orthopedist, still remembers the hot morning when his parents
said goodbye to him in the old train station in a small village in the
depths of Cuba.

The economy of his native village, with narrow streets of cracked
asphalt and the small of cane juice, revolved around the sugar mill and
the usual thing was that grandfathers, fathers and grandsons worked in
the sugar industry.

It was a sugar mill town like many others. Squat brick houses half
plastered, a handful of white wood houses, guarded by five or six grungy
prefabricated buildings, built after Fidel Castro's Revolution.

The present and future of the village was to drink alcohol distilled
from cane, playing baseball on scrub ground and taming some lost mare
around some stinking green creek.

But Nivaldo wasn't a cane cutter nor a worker at the mill. He graduated
as a doctor on a rainy night in 1997 and after completing his social
service in a mountainous area of Santiago de Cuba, specialized in
orthopedics.

When he stepped in Havana for the first time, like almost all the
country people, he took a photo at the base of the Capitol, and used a
finger to count the number of floors in the Habana Libre Hotel or the
Fosca Building.

"My dream was to be a doctor. Have a family and live according to my
professional status. I'm a specialist, I have a marvelous family, but in
order to maintain it I do things I'm not proud of."

"I have been on international missions in South Africa, Pakistan and
Venezuela. Not out of conviction but simply to earn money and repair and
furnish my house. In Cuba it's hard to find a doctor who hasn't violated
the Hippocratic oath, and accepted gifts or money to maintain his
family. In the countries where I have worked, I've seen patients under
the table who have paid me. In Cuba I have groups of patients who've
given me gifts, a box of beer that costs sixty Cuban convertible pesos,
according to the seriousness of their suffering."

On the Castro brother's island a lot of things don't work. You can wait
an hour and a half to get from one part of town to another because the
chaos that is public transport.

From the time you get up in the morning the problems accumulate.
There's no water in the tank. There's no money to buy a pair of shoes
for the kids. Or you have to eat whatever there is, not what you need or
desire.

Let's not even talk about other things, also important for human beings,
like freedom of expression, the right to join a party other than the
communist party, or to elect the president of the Republic.

But healthcare, universal coverage, was the pride of the autocrat Fidel
Castro. It worked well as long as the former USSR was sending checks
worth millions and connected a pipeline of petroleum coming from the
Caucasus.

Later with the fall of Soviet Communism the deficit came. Ruined
hospitals, nurses looking like police agents and missing medical
specialists. The Raul Castro regime tried to keep the the flagship of
the Revolution afloat, but it was taking on water everywhere.

The first ones who become fed up are the doctors. If not all of them, at
least a broad segment. The causes vary, but the keys are the low
salaries and the lack of recognition for their work.

Migdalia, a dermatologist points out that "for six years I earned 700
Cuban pesos — about 35 dollars — and the salary was barely enough for me
to buy fruits and vegetables at the market. Now I get 1,600 Cuban pesos
— almost 75 dollars — and it's not enough either. So I accept patients
who give me bread and ham, or a piece of clothing, or money in cash, and
I give them personalized attention."

Joel, an allergist, wonders why, if what the international media says is
true and the government gets between 7 and 8 billion dollars from the
sale of medical services, "they don't pay us salaries consistent with
the inflation in the country. I was in Venezuela two years. The
neighbors gave me food and gave me gifts of clothing and things. Rather
than a doctor, I looked like a merchant buying stuff to sell when I came
back. I got to Cuba, after three years on a mission, between business
and the money I saved I had some four thousand dollars, not even enough
to rebuild my house. Now I'm chasing a mission in Trinidad and Tobago or
Qatar, but to get it you have to pay some official at the Ministry of
Public Health (MINSAP) some 400 or 500 bucks for them to put you on the
list. For these reasons, among others, many doctors decide to emigrate."

If we credit the statistics, a little more than three thousand doctors
have deserted in the last seven years. Venezuela is a destination that
puts their lives at risk. The delirious criminality in the South
American country has provoked, according to a statistic from 2010, the
deaths of 67 Cuban health professionals.

The lack of high-quality specialists makes it difficult to care for
patients in Cuba. Daniel has been looking for an ear specialist for six
months to diagnose and treat a problem.

"They only treat you as am emergency in a hospital if you're dying.
Diseases and symptoms that require lab tests, exams with equipment such
as cat scans or x-rays. can only be obtained quickly by paying with
money or gifts. Preventive medicine on the island is in crisis," Daniel
affirms.

Twice a month, Marta pays 10 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) to the
dentist who sees her daughter. "It's the only way to get high quality
care. If you don't pay, and try to work through the system, they don't
fix your mouth or they do it badly."

Aida, who works for a bank, waited almost a year to get an appointment
with an allergist. "Her appointment at the polyclinic was once a month.
But she never went. With two little bites of ham, two soft drinks and 5
CUC I was able to get an allergist to see me. Then, if they see that you
have resources, then they stretch out the attention to get more money
out of you. Some doctors have become hucksters. It's painful."

When you go to appointments at hospitals, you see that the majority of
patients are bringing gifts for the doctor. But it can be a gift in
kind. Though many prefer cash.

Source: Cuba: Renting Out Medical Specialists / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-renting-out-medical-specialists-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 4 March 2017 — Twenty years later, Nivaldo (names changed), 43, an orthopedist, still remembers the hot morning when his parents said goodbye to him in the old train station in a small village in the depths of Cuba. The economy of his native village, with narrow streets of cracked asphalt and the … Continue reading "Cuba: Renting Out Medical Specialists / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 8 March 2017 – Lying in bed, with the light off, feeling each one of her vertebrae howling. After coming home from work she spent four hours in the kitchen, bathed her invalid mother, helped the children with their homework, went shopping and prepared an administrative report. On TV the … Continue reading "The Day of the Woman in Cuba, More Honored in the Breach / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez" Continue reading
Disappeared / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The two personalities
who represent the polar opposites of the so-called process of updating
the Cuban model have disappeared. We have seen neither hide nor hair of
the "captain" of economic reforms, Marino Murillo, since October of last
year, and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, considered the braking mechanism
for any measure that looks like a change, has not appeared in the
official media since 27 February.

Murillo did not appear in the images that filled the media during the
nine days of the funeral and mourning period of former President Fidel
Castro. He was not seen in the last session of the parliament fulfilling
his usual role of asking for accountability on the implementation of the
Party's Guidelines. He was not on the viewing platform saluting the
troops who marched in the military parade of 2 January, nor at any other
significant event of the ruling party during the current year.

On the other hand, rare is the day when the second secretary of the
Communist Party, Machado Ventura, does not appear visiting a chicken
farm, sausage factory or a sugar mill, moments that he uses to hammer
home his slogans of discipline andcontrol, demands that put him in the
headlines almost daily in the official press. He is the visible face
that exhorts the peasants to produce food and the workers to comply with
savings measures.

However, the most significant sign that unveils the wide range of
suspicions about the whereabouts of this hardliner has been that when
Raul Castro returned from his brief trip to Venezuela, the so-often
repeated scene of Machado Ventura receiving him at the bottom the
airplane stairs was missing. Perhaps this is the first time that images
of the general president's return to the country were not released and
that the press didn't mention who welcomed him.

The last meeting of the Council of Ministers, held on 28 February, was
the first of Raul Castro's presidential term that was not broadcast live
on television, nor were photos published in the Party newspaper Granma.
Both Murillo and Machado Ventura should have been visible as members of
the group of highest ranking decision makers in the country.

Instead, in the official information about the meeting there was a
reference to Leonardo Andolla Valdea, deputy chief of the Permanent
Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Party
Guidelines. He was in charge of saying, on this occasion, what would
have normally been said by Murillo, also known as the "czar of the
economic reforms."

It is not serious to spread rumors, much less to invent them. In
journalism only the facts must be counted, showing evidence and citing
sources. However, under the opaque veil of secrecy in which the most
important political and economic events unfold in Cuba, absences attract
attention as much as presences. What is not said can be as revealing as
what is stated.

Source: Disappeared / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/disappeared-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ Continue reading
Repression in Cuba Comes in Many Forms
March 7, 2017
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

HAVANA TIMES — Every Sunday, there is the "Los Chinos" agro-market fair
in the city of Holguin in eastern Cuba. Trucks loaded with produce come
from all over the country, mainly from its central provinces. As there
is competition and since the sellers can bulk buy on the farms, there
are lower prices than normal, which doesn't exactly mean that it's cheap.

Of course, the trucks have been rented out, the real owners of this
produce are the merchants known as "intermediaries". These trade
operators play an essential role in the development of agriculture
because they stimulate production by creating confidence in
commercialization. They logically make nice profits, maybe more than
what would be fair; but the problem here doesn't lie in their existence
as such, but in the many knots in the Cuban system which make balanced
regulation almost impossible.

In the 1980s, the government experimented with the so-called Farmers'
Free Markets (MLC) and then it was shut down by Fidel himself, who
couldn't stand the idea that some Cubans were "getting rich". In order
to cure his headache, he destroyed the emerging semi-free market.

In the '90s, a Party leader from Pinar del Rio spoke about reviving the
MLC in a televised Congress session (perhaps the IV Plenary session of
the Cuban Communist Party in 1991), where the idea alone unleashed
Fidel's rage on the spot and on live TV (I watched this) and then rumors
went round from Pinar that the person who dared share his opinion had
been dismissed of his responsibilities.

When hunger took its hold of Cuba, he sent brother Raul Castro to
announce "the same dog but with a different collar": the Agro-Market. I
remember that this was announced in an interview granted to Luis Baez
and was published in Granma and then repeated across the media. The
government journalist began his article by saying that he had been
looking for that interview with Raul for some time and that Raul had
finally taken some time out for him: it was pure theater! Both of them
knew what the objective was. Fidel never spoke about the subject.

Today, criminalizing the private sector because of its high prices
continues to be a subject of debate in Parliament, especially against
the famous Intermediaries; who are restricted or prohibited at times and
have their merchandise seized resulting in great losses. However, the
truth is that they don't dare to ban them because without them
completely because there wouldn't be commerce or stable farming production.

However, these are the larger merchants, who, even though they pay for
the same license as smaller ones, have completely different functions.
Small traders who sell at a higher price are the ones who mainly
purchase their products from the larger Intermediaries. Here in the
Holguin province, hundreds of small traders (push cart or bike sellers)
travel on Sundays to the capital city and they buy their produce from
the trucks at the Los Chinos market.

Every one of them with two or three sacks also provide work for horse
drawn cart drivers and bici-taxis operators who transport them to bus
and train stations paying for every sack. A lot of people benefit from
this trade, especially the government which charges them for the
license, taking 10% of gross sales, social security payments and fines
for any silly mistakes. All of this translates into the product's final
price, which reaches customers in urban neighborhoods where it often
costs double or triple the initial price.

However, the private sector in Cuba isn't only sentenced to having these
restrictions on growth which our laws impose on them; they are also
treated like a necessary evil, harassed by whimsical regulations. They
don't have a transparent and secure supply chain, nor do they have the
legal freedom to seek it out. They do this but they take risks.

On Sunday February 5th, at the Los Chinos market, dozens of
self-employed resellers had their sacks filled with produce bought from
equally legal intermediaries. A group of inspectors approached them and
they wanted to confiscate their purchases for having violated the
"anti-hoarding law". It seems outrageous but it's true. A great
discussion broke out and the police in charge of keeping order at the
market, intervened. In the face of the resistance that had been created
by those accused and others who were doubtful in helping the inspectors,
the police called for the Head of the Unit, a Major, who turned up on
the scene.

There were several people from my town of Mayari among the traders who
had their purchases taken away. One of them, Jose Ramon, usually sells
on my street and he told me the whole story. Then I confirmed what he
told me with another seller, not without first asking several others,
among the many who pass by here every day offering their garlic,
peppers, onions or bijol under the scorching sun.

The story goes that the Major arrived arrogantly and ordered those who
wouldn't stop protesting to shut up. He was met with: "You like getting
your hands on ham a lot. Ham is what the inspectors get, who make a
living by fining us for no reason; we work really hard to earn our
pesos," one of the boldest protestors said.

After a lot of wasted time (held for over three hours under the risk of
having their things confiscated and bad times), the police finally
guided the inspectors in their conversation with them to release the
purchases. Common sense won out, but this was just one more example of
government resistance to how the private sector runs in Cuba, even at
these incipient times.

Tradesmen didn't have so few rights even in medieval hamlets!" They had
unions and brotherhoods which united and protected them, Cuban
self-employed merchants don't.

There are many forms of repression, not just political repression. This
budding private sector, which has appeared with the self-employed, is
the seed to opening up our economy more, which is fundamental so that we
can reach economic and social progress. Repressing them and prohibiting
their development with laws and individual actions is just another way
to delay this essential path: it's another form of repression in Cuba.

Source: Repression in Cuba Comes in Many Forms - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=124021 Continue reading
Raúl Castro slams Trump – and I'm forced to agree with the dictator. How
sick is that?
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@miamiherald.com

Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to condemn any
democratically elected world leader.

Not when the most distinguishing trait of his and his late brother's
legacy is death, prison and exile for millions of his critics and
opponents. Not when, as if the Castros didn't already have enough blood
on their hands, there's another dissident who has died amid questionable
circumstances.

Hamell Santiago Mas Hernández, 45, walked into one of Cuba's most brutal
prisons as a healthy man after being arrested in June for a catch-all
offense dubbed desacato — disrespect — widely used as an excuse to pick
up dissidents. Eight months later, he died awaiting trial, supposedly of
a heart attack. He had developed a kidney infection and had lost 35
pounds in three weeks. His wife has denounced conditions at the
Combinado del Este prison, where not even the water is fit to drink. The
Castros have for decades refused to let independent monitors inspect
prisons where political prisoners are kept in inhumane conditions.

So I repeat: Cuban dictator Raúl Castro has no moral authority to
condemn any U.S. president.

But President Donald Trump is an easy target — and Castro is no fool.

He smells the weakness — and opportunity — handed to him on a silver
platter by Trump acting like the hemisphere's new bully on the block.

In a regional summit with leftist leaders in Caracas on Sunday, Castro
lashed out at Trump's immigration and trade policies, calling his plan
to build a wall along the Mexican border "irrational."

"The new agenda of the U.S. government threatens to unleash an extreme
and egotistical trade policy that will impact the competitiveness of our
foreign trade, violate environmental agreements to favor the profits of
transnational [companies], hunt down and deport migrants," Castro said.

And here I am, critic and exile, being forced to agree with the dictator
— a first.

How sick is that?

It's repulsive, but Trump rose to power on an agenda that puts this
country at odds with the rest of the Americas, including our allies. His
first 1 ½ months in office have been like nothing Americans have ever
seen, with Draconian executive orders being signed amid a growing
scandal about Russia's tampering with the U.S. election to benefit him,
and the lingering questions: How much did Trump know? Did he participate?

It's especially notable that Castro has chosen to break his silence on
Trump at a time when the Trump administration is in the middle of "a
full review" of President Obama's U.S.-Cuba policy — and before any
changes are announced. Castro's only comment after Trump took office was
cordial (and, as always, pompous) indicating Cuba's willingness to
"continue negotiating bilateral issues with the United States on a basis
of equality and respect of our country's sovereignty and independence."
Cuba's ambassador attended Trump's inauguration and tweeted from it. At
least two of Trump's White House advisors have been to Cuba and were
ecstatic about doing business there during the Obama years.

But Cuban Americans in Congress have been pressuring Trump to get tough
on Castro and return to the isolation polices of the late 1990s and
early 2000s. That didn't yield much change, and certainly no end to the
58-year-old dictatorship. But during Obama's tenure — and under
unrelenting internal pressure from dissidents, independent journalists,
and a population that simply can't stand the oppression anymore — Raúl
Castro began some reforms, even if the quashing of opponents seldom
relented.

It would be a regrettable turn of events if, at this critical juncture,
Trump's protective nationalist policies gave new combative fodder to
Castro — who has promised to finally leave his post in 2018 — or to
those waiting in the wings to take over Cuba.

I'll say it again: Raúl Castro — head of one of the longest-lasting
dictatorships in the world — is no one to talk.

Yet, here I am, to quote Blue Oyster Cult, giving the devil his due.

Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

Source: Cuban dictator Raul Castro slams Trump's immigration and trade
policy | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article137006518.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 7 March 2017 — The two personalities who represent the polar opposites of the so-called process of updating the Cuban model have disappeared. We have seen neither hide nor hair of the “captain” of economic reforms, Marino Murillo, since October of last year, and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, considered the braking mechanism … Continue reading "Disappeared / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar" Continue reading
… , Venezuela. Addressing the ALBA Summit, Cuban President Raul Castro criticized U … Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar 7 (ACN) Cuban President Raul Castro returned to Cuba Monday at … . As reported, Raul led the Cuban delegation to the regional meeting … reiterated the ever-lasting support of Cuba to the Bolivarian Revolution and … Continue reading
Atkins: Cuba fears prez could wipe out island's gains
Kimberly Atkins Tuesday, March 07, 2017

NO LONGER JUST HANGING ON: Cuba's begun to see a revival since former
President Barack Obama restored diplomatic ties with the island nation.

HAVANA — Raul Castro is not the only Cuban who is blasting President
Trump's foreign policy.

Many residents of the Caribbean nation, which is in the midst of a rapid
transformation as a direct result of former President Barack Obama
restoring diplomatic ties and easing travel restrictions between the
countries, criticized Trump and praised his predecessor for bringing
Americans to their shores.

Castro, the Cuban president, called Trump's foreign policy, including
his plans to build a Mexican border wall, "irrational" and "egotistical"
in a speech in Venezuela that was broadcast on Cuban state-run
television on Sunday night.

Those words could draw a sharp rebuke from Trump, an admitted
counterpuncher who's currently reviewing U.S.-Cuban policy, but who was
strongly critical of Obama's Cuban moves. Trump has aligned himself with
Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who wants to reverse Obama's
actions.

That's not a popular stance with Cubans, who are pleased with the
country's fast-moving progress. Though American tourism is still
technically prohibited, most travelers can fit into one of 12 categories
to qualify for a general purpose visa. New hotels dot the main
thoroughfares in Havana, and Airbnb rentals get a steady stream of
business in outlying beach communities like Boca Ciega.

Still, the country displays its hardships visibly. New restaurants are
often bookended by crumbling structures. And while the internet is newly
available, it's expensive and still relatively scarce. People can be
seen into the late hours huddled around Wi-Fi hot spots, their faces
illuminated by the their cellphones as they vie for relatively weak
bandwidth.

"One way to change (Cuba) is to get more Americans to visit," and to
lift the trade embargo, said U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Salem Democrat
who traveled to the country last month.

Carlos Arias, a taxi driver in Havana, agrees.

"In the last 18 months, I've seen business go up, maybe 80 percent," he
said. "What Obama did changed everything. Everybody loves it."

Asked if he feared that Trump would reverse U.S.-Cuban policies, Arias
said: "No. He wouldn't dare. He's a businessman."

While Rubio and other foes of Obama's Cuban policies say they won't
support a Castro communist regime that harms its citizens, other
lawmakers said isolating the nation only hurts them more. Plus, they
say, Cubans have had a taste of what normal relations with the U.S.
feels like, and it would be almost impossible to reverse that now.

"There's lots of opportunity, and I think engagement is always better
than isolationism," said U.S. Rep. James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat
who has co-sponsored a number of bills to ease Cuban relations,
including one to lift the remaining travel restrictions. "And so I don't
know what Trump is going to do. He has said some things that would have
you believe he will turn back the clock. But even if he does, I don't
think they can put the genie back into the bottle."

Source: Atkins: Cuba fears prez could wipe out island's gains | Boston
Herald -
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/kimberly_atkins/2017/03/atkins_cuba_fears_prez_could_wipe_out_island_s_gains Continue reading

They say that they fulfill their mission when they serve in countries that have signed agreements with the Cuban regime. "Mission." It is a term that supposes a zeal to spread the faith, and entails a set of diplomatic shenanigans. And, indeed, there is a lot of indoctrination and diplomacy involved in the work of Cuban medical personnel on "missions," as they do not only care for their patients, but often seek to influence, in accordance with the Government's interests, patients who are also voters.

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¿Qué mandatario le pedirá a Castro que no impida la entrada a la Isla de aquellos que critican o se oponen al régimen? Continue reading
HAVANA — Raul Castro is not the only Cuban who is blasting President … dot the main thoroughfares in Havana, and Airbnb rentals get a … bandwidth. “One way to change (Cuba) is to get more Americans … Arias, a taxi driver in Havana, agrees. “In the last 18 … Continue reading
Caracas, March 6 (RHC)-- Cuban President Raul Castro emphasized the … control the world economy. The Cuban Chief Executive recalled the brotherhood … the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and the … the standard of unity. The Cuban Head of State also noted … Continue reading
Todo está en alimentar la memoria de los pueblos con el 'glorioso' pasado de dictadores Continue reading
… in Caracas Thomson Reuters HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro harshly … and peace," Castro said. Cuban President Raúl Castro answers a … 's three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana on March 21. REUTERS … Rubio had similar views concerning Cuba. Obama, a Democrat, used executive … Continue reading
Cuban President Raul Castro has strongly … and not just Mexicans. The Cuban president said an “unfair international … longstanding US trade embargo on Cuba and ease some restrictions on … of Cuban immigrants who nevertheless strongly opposes normalizing relations with Cuba — that … Continue reading
… : Reuters | Havana | Published:March 6, 2017 9:51 am Cuba President Raul Castro. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins Cuban President … a fragile detente with Communist-run Cuba begun by his predecessor Barack … Rubio had similar views concerning Cuba. Obama, a Democrat, used executive … Continue reading
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro harshly criticized … a fragile detente with Communist-run Cuba begun by his predecessor Barack … . efforts using isolation to force Cuba to change, Obama agreed with … Rubio had similar views concerning Cuba. Obama, a Democrat, used executive … Continue reading

Raúl Castro dijo este domingo que en Venezuela, principal aliado económico y político de su Gobierno, se libra la batalla "decisiva" por la "soberanía" de América Latina, reporta EFE.

"En Venezuela se libra hoy la batalla decisiva por la soberanía, la emancipación, la integración, y el desarrollo de nuestra América", dijo el general durante su intervención en la XIV Cumbre del ALBA-TCP, en Caracas.

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Raúl Castro y el presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, llegaron este domingo a Caracas para participar en la XIV Cumbre de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de América (ALBA) y en los actos conmemorativos por el cuarto aniversario de la muerte de Hugo Chávez, reporta EFE.

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Cuba Seeks To Encourage Women To Enter Military Service / 14ymedio,
Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 3 March 2017 – With the opportunity to
study at the university by passing the University entrance exams with
the "minimum score," the Ministry of Higher Education (MES) is offering
an incentive for young women who want to enlist in Military Service,
which is an obligation for men.

The announcement was made by the MES authorities during a press
conference this Thursday, where they stressed that the requirements for
regular entry to higher education for candidates who are not military
women remain the same: "Pass exams in Math, Spanish and History with a
minimum of 60 points" and compete in the provincial roster for a
university seat.

"They will be offered first-rate careers and the Ministry will do
everything possible to offer them the majors they request," said a
journalist at the meeting.

"An important element is that they will be given the possibility of
enrolling in the regular day course," he added.

The enrollment for the subjects that are studied in regular daytime
courses will be 36,705 places for the next course.

In the case of women who choose to wear the green uniform of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces, they will skip the requirement that they
compete with other candidates in their provinces and may enroll in the
universities simply by passing the entrance tests.

Recruits to compulsory military service in Cuba have the opportunity to
study a university career through Order 18. That law privileges the
recruits' access to the university the second year after joining the
FAR. In the case of women, they can start at the university the same
year they enlist.

After the arrival of Raúl Castro in 2006, university enrollment declined
sharply, a trend that contrasted with the increase in the previous 20
years, when enrollment in the social and human sciences increased by 4,000%.

The entrance exams for higher education also underwent changes, becoming
more rigorous.

Starting with Raul Castro's reforms, enrollment in the humanities
decreased by 83% while enrollment in the national sciences great by 13%.

In 2014, university enrollment decreased by 30%. In the 2014-2015
academic year there were 18,112 fewer university graduates than in the
previous academic period.

According to statistics provided by the Cuban Government, 356,600 women
worked in the country's defense, public administration and social
security in 2015, fewer than the 451,400 women that made up these
organizations in 2014.

The Army continues to be one of the main institutions in the life of the
Cuban nation. Its presence extends to the Government and controls the
Business Administration Group that manages the main tourist companies of
the country.

In 2016, Global Firepower placed Cuba in 79th position among the world's
major powers and one of the 10 most powerful military forces in Latin
America.

Source: Cuba Seeks To Encourage Women To Enter Military Service /
14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -
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