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GUATEMALA, Aug 20 (NNN-Prensa Latina) -- Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called the economic, financial and trade blockade of Cuba, maintained by the United States for more than 50 years, as the worst Continue reading
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The Cuba Debate: Can Capitalist Rookies Thrive In A Communist Revolution?

When you've spent your entire life on a communist island where staples
like eggs and chicken are rationed, lunch in Miami can be overwhelming.

Ask Sandra Aldama, a Cuban mother and former special education teacher
who made her first visit to the United States this month. Settling into
a downtown Italian restaurant as waiters whizzed by with plates of
fettuccine alfredo and veal parmesan, Aldama was almost certainly
reminded of what the average Cuban can't get at home.

But these days Aldama is bothered by another Cuban shortage: sodium
hydroxide, a basic chemical for making soap.

Last year she started a business in Havana called D'Brujas that produces
scented natural soap. Her hypoallergenic product is a popular novelty
for most Cubans – but in the country's threadbare economy she has scant
access to necessary ingredients.

"It's hard to find the simplest supplies you need to run a business
there," she says. "And even if you do, you can't be sure they'll be
there tomorrow."

So while she was in South Florida, Sandra sought advice from
entrepreneurs like Ricardo Lastre.

Lastre, himself a Cuban-American, has his own Miami Beach soap-making
business called Lastre Botanicals. As he mixed some cocoa butter soap
bars recently, he talked about Aldama's visit and the chance to counsel
a novice Cuban entrepreneur like Aldama.

"She gave me one of her soaps," he said. "It was called café menta,
which is coffee mint. Beautiful, smells great, elegant, simple."

Sandra almost cried when she saw the shelves in Lastre's workshop: Row
after row of oils, herbs and emulsifiers that she can only dream of
using in Cuba. And lots of sodium hydroxide.

Lastre gave her tips on how to do more with what she does have, and how
to market it better.

"That knowledge exchange is invaluable," Aldama said. "Learning business
tools and techniques I didn't know I had."

The Miami-born Lastre, a son of Cuban exiles, condemns Cuba's communist
dictatorship. But Cuban leader Raúl Castro needs to rescue his country's
desperate finances – and he's decreed reforms that, while limited at
best, do allow a broader range of private enterprise. Cuba's Roman
Catholic Church even offers business classes.

So Lastre is considering efforts to get supplies to Aldama in Cuba. And
Cuban-Americans like him think the Obama Administration should relax the
U.S. trade embargo so investors can funnel more help to the island's
fledgling private sector.

"I think that we should be able to help people that are starting from
the beginning," says Lastre. "If people realize in Cuba that they can do
it on their own, I think things would change [there]."


That's a central issue, if not the central issue, in the Cuba policy
debate today.

Sandra and four other Cuban entrepreneurs were invited to Miami by the
Cuba Study Group. The Washington-based think tank, headed by more
moderate Cuban-American businessmen like Miami millionaire Carlos
Saladrigas, supports empowering Cuban capitalists. One aim is to help
them become as important as dissidents when it comes to undermining
communist authority.

"It's important for us to not just read theories and hypotheses [about]
what's happening in Cuba," says executive director Tomas Bilbao, "but to
actually meet the people who are on the ground working independently of
the government, gaining greater control of their lives and employing
other Cubans."

But more hardline Cuban-Americans who want to keep the embargo intact
say any investment sent to Cuba – even to independent entrepreneurs – is
all too likely to aid the Castro regime.

"What's going to end up happening is the regime will have its ability to
decide who gets that money," says Miami attorney Marcell Felipe, a
director of the Cuban Liberty Council.

Felipe insists that capital has to be channeled through bona fide
dissident organizations, because only they can vet which enterprises are
genuinely private and which are state-controlled ventures in disguise or
at to be co-opted by the government.

"If [Cuban entrepreneurs] have no commitment to that…tremendously
difficult fight of defying the government," Felipe argues, "they will
eventually be brought in as servants for the government, willingly or

Even pro-reform Cuban-Americans like Lastre say they're nervous about
how insidiously Castro and company can manipulate the country's new
burst of free enterprise.

Cuban cuentapropistas, or entrepreneurs, are understandably reluctant to
shake their fists at the regime. When I asked Aldama and the other
visiting cuentapropistas about Cuba's notoriously heavy small-business
taxes, they declined – surprisingly – to criticize them.

Still, Cuban-Americans are sending billions of dollars and tons of
capital goods directly to relatives in Cuba – about half a million of
whom are cuentapropistas or their employees.

Says Yasmine Vicente, who owns a Havana event-planning business, "This
has altered the potential of the individual and our perception of work."

And maybe Miami's perception of Cuban capitalism.

Tim Padgett is WLRN's Americas editor.

Source: The Cuba Debate: Can Capitalist Rookies Thrive In A Communist
Revolution? | WLRN - Continue reading
Aug 19, 2014 - 23:58 GMT 19 de agosto de 2014, 17:39Guatemala, Aug 19 (Prensa Latina) Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called the economic, financial and trade blockade of Cuba, maintained by the Continue reading
UKTI is delighted to invite you to this seminar that will bring together representatives from all the Cuban Ministries and institutions responsible for the development of the Renewable Energy Industry Continue reading
Investment in Cuba? What for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

ASCE XXIV / 2014 Annual Conference, Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel,
Florida, USA
Panel 12. Concerto Ballrom B – Friday, August 1st, 2:45-4:15pm


In Cuba during the 1970s, historian Manuel Moreno Fraginals challenged
poet Jose Lezama Lima with his trendy scientific notions about the laws
of objectivity and the transition to a colonial/pseudo
republic/revolution from the slave mills to the Slavic sugarcane
cutters; the now forgotten Soviet KTP. Exhaling an asthmatic
counterpoint through his cigar, Lezama Lima responded to Moreno
Fraginals without foregoing the Marxist irony of a convenient Catholic:
"Ah… But when will we have a history that is qualitative?"

Are we Cubans lacking the type of analysis that at the margins of
academic exactitude and author-centered erudition would also require
ethicality? Is a qualitative economy that can escape the comparisons of
percents and profits and the tendency to always side with the expounder
at all conceivable? Is a qualitative political system that rises above
the lowbrow politics practiced in our country unthinkable? How about a
qualitative sociology without ideological determinism and infallible
founders? When all is said and done, is the anthropology of a quality
Cuban one that is multidimensional, subjective, and liberated from the
consensus imposed upon on us with the rhythm of a conga drumbeat?

No wonder the Professor did not answer the Master's question. Today,
when it comes to Raul Castro's reforms that in an ever-changing and
capricious landscape that hides a clan's control while a new image of
legitimacy is created, would Moreno Fraginals rely on the laws of
objectivity in a transition from communism to capitalism? And would
Lezama Lima respond to him with an "Ah… And when we will Cuba have a
history of qualitative capitalism?" Poetry asks impossible questions
that history can answer, though it finds it inconvenient to do so.


Today, by either vocation or duty, Cubanologists discuss their theories
about the island. They have placed their bets for quantitative changes
on the seat of power, avoiding any consultation with the will of the
Cuban people. For many of them the Revolution is a victim, not the
victimizer, and as such is granted the right to not disappear. Because
of this, throughout all of American academia, an anti-Castro stance is
practically considered intellectual harassment.

Therefore, Cubans are supposed to have no other alternative than to
collaborate with the government in the construction of controllable
capitalism that is already irreversible while the country's socialistic
constitution remains "irrevocable." In this scam of a transition, borne
of short memories where horrors become simply errors, liberty becomes an
encumbrance threatening to make everything end in a debacle. And it is
this astute death threat that forces us to be loyal as a post-socialist
substitute for legality.

"A country is not run like a campsite," another poet once told to
another general. But those who once dressed in olive-green uniforms and
now as the new generation wear business suits, have turned the country
into a campsite so as not to fully contradict Jose Marti's words to
Maximo Gomez. Citizens are abundant, but soldiers are saviors: the
disinterest of the former is secondary to the discipline of the latter.
The year 2018 is being called the new 1958. After 60 years of solitary
power, biology finally brings us a calendar without the Castros. But
after waiting for so long, we Cubans can now wait a little more. We have
become accustomed to the family legacy that leaves us the choice between
a parliamentarian sexologist and a colonel –like Putin– from the
Ministry of the Interior. One is in charge of reproduction and the other
of repression; she is in charge of pleasure, he of power; academia and
military; diplomacy and impertinence; masquerade and malice.

The inverted logic behind investing in such a Cuba is that after the
profits, it would precipitate a multi-party political system: vouchers
that will promote voting; underdevelopment erased by cash flowing
through banks; from Che to checks. Like dissidents without God, layman
Lenier Gonzalez might call them "wolves in sheep's clothing," because
the nation teeters on collapse between a war of economic action from the
outside and peaceful resistance from the inside.

Perhaps to sidestep such suspicions, foreign investors avoid showing off
the profit gained from a captive and insular market. They seem to invest
with almost-humanitarian intentions, although their "good deed" will be
repaid by having their property seized and not a few of them will end up
deported, imprisoned, or dead from a heart attack during interrogations
performed by State Security. As for Cuban exiles, they are not even
given the right to live in their own country. And the illusion of
investing in the island — out of nostalgia or some kind of labor therapy
— is justified by the notion that money can make a dictatorship dynamic
much more effectively than dynamite. If we cannot live in a democracy,
at least we will be able to live in a dictocracy. One-party companies
and a tinsel opposition. Like a person who draws a North Korean doodle
and ends up with an exquisite Chinese calligram. Or like in those
childhood cartoons where a tyrant is defeated by a golden antelope that
drowns the villain by throwing gold coins at him and when he can no
longer take the weight screams "enough!"


When I hear the word "economy," I reach for my gun.

First-world paradoxes: The possible Democrat party candidate for the
White House mumbles something to President Obama in the latest of her
hard choices: "Lift the embargo on Cuba because it's holding back our
broader agenda across Latin America". And from the Chamber of Commerce,
its president travels to a country that is presided over by a general
that for decades has denigrated chambers of commerce, and tells him:
Yes, you can.

The economy is too important to be left in the hands of economists.

Executives from the goliath Google land in David's kingdom of ruins and
are received at the University of Computer Sciences, a bunker of digital
censorship, the cradle of Operation Truth, where there is daily smearing
of those Cubans convinced that it is still possible to live a life of
truth. How do you google a government that like the dog in the manger
will not allow us to connect to the internet or allow anyone else to
connect us?

Within the economy, everything.

The president of a hemispheric organization who since 2009 has been
begging Cuba to rejoin the international community goes to Havana and
does not dare to ask the reason behind Cuba's snub of the world. He is
accompanied by a Secretary General who gets a haircut there but does not
question why there were dozens of illegal detentions taking place during
his visit.

Outside the economy, nothing.

Former brigadier generals of the military and intelligence agencies,
ambassadors to NATO, the OAS, and the Interests Section in Havana (in
their heyday categorized by Castro propaganda as torturers, coup
instigators, agents of the anti-Cuban dirty war, and other extremists
etc.). Hawks now clothed in sheep feathers who advocate an ultimatum not
to their archenemy in the continent, but to the President who extended
his open hand and in return received a closed fist, including weapons
smuggling, the kidnapping of an American to trade as a hostage for Cuban
Talibans, agreements with enemies of democracy and the free market, and
the State-run attempts on our Sakharov Prize winners for Freedom of
Thought: Laura Pollan and Oswaldo Paya.

Economy or death; we will sell.

Contrary to the stampede of Cubans mentioned in Wendy Guerra's novel
Everyone Leaves, everyone is going to Cuba, everyone is investing in the
first opportunity that presents itself. No one wants to miss out on
their slice of the despotic pie that is on the brink of transition.


Investment is critical for the material development of the country, but
investment should not come regardless of the political price. It would
be a shame to fall into an economy that would leave us dependent on
foreigners and no less vulnerable to domestic impunity. Under those
conditions, sovereignty is nothing more than a joke.

Foreign capital has not brought democratization to the island, but
neither has denying investment been a fountain of political liberty.
Although they are opposite concepts, investments are just like the
commercial embargo the United States has against Cuba: they have had no
influence on the blockade imposed by the Castro regime on Cuban
citizens. Oswaldo Paya believed in a human personal redemption that
would transcend the State as well as the market. And that simple but
ethical vision proved to be qualitatively impracticable for a perpetual
seat of power that relies on complicity by the majority of the nation.
Because if a people elect a single leader and a single party, that
single leader and single party have a moral obligation to downplay that
quantitative blindness, not enthrone themselves upon it. Along with the
Anglicism of a "loyal opposition," Cubans deserve a government faithful
to the people that will step down according to logical legislation, even
if it goes against the popular will of the people.

For now, the private investment initiative in Cuba does nothing to
obtain or guarantee rights to association, property, participation,
expression, or the means of production. Self-employed Cubans exhibit
their implausibility even in Washington D.C., but in the Plaza of the
Revolution, they can only march en masse with their propaganda banners.
For that very reason they are not invited to invest in Cuba and their
self-employment licenses are nothing more than economic privileges. As
soon as they achieve some type of cash liquidity, they will escape
without much noise or fuss, as our population pyramid tends to do since
that is always preferable in a transient nation: post-totalitarianism is
the same as post-trampolinism. That plebiscite with one's feet is
unstoppable, with investments or sanctions, with lack of solidarity or
interference. After spending so much time exporting guerillas and wars,
we learned to make our living at the expense of someone else, allowing
ourselves to be exploited by taxes rather than enjoying state security
(or suffering it if the words are capitalized).

At the start of the Revolution, throughout the paternalistic lying
during the march to power, Fidel Castro strictly applied his repetitive
slogans: "Elections? What for?"; "Guns? What for?"; Amnesty? What for?"
These were among the other "What for?" slogans that emptied out all the
common sense that previously existed in our nationality. The Revolution
not only installed itself by decree as the source of all rights, it also
made itself the arbiter of reason. Everything else became an
afterthought: money, for example. We should then publicly confront that
same philanthropic octogenarian before senility turns him into ashes and
ask him: "Investment? What for?"

And maybe he will respond with that European fascist plagiarism of
himself in 1953: Invest in Cuba, it does not matter, history will
confiscate you.

Translated by Alberto de la Cruz from Babalu blog.
1 August 2014

Source: Investment in Cuba? What for? / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo |
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Investment in Cuba? What for? ASCE XXIV / 2014 Annual Conference, Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel, Florida, USA Panel 12. Concerto Ballrom B – Friday, August 1st, 2:45-4:15pm 1. In Cuba during the 1970s, historian Manuel Moreno Fraginals challenged poet Jose … Continue reading Continue reading
Four Cardinal Points / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on August 17, 2014

They are difficult to count, not to mention uncountable, the projects
carried out in order to find alternative solutions to Cuba's problems.
When I say "alternatives" I'm obviously referring to a broad set of
programs, documents, statements not coming from governmental
institutions, but from that disjointed amalgamation of opposition
parties and civil society entities, both within and outside the Island.

Many of these platforms have tried to encourage an essential unity, few
have managed to do so. One of the reasons for the failure of this unity
of purpose is the inclusion of one or another point that has led to
disagreements. Another reason is the effect of what could be called
"strongman rule in reverse," which consists in opposition leaders
refusing to support a specific program because of the presence among its
signatories of others with whom they have differences.

In an effort to find the minimum consensus, without any specific
organization trying to open the umbrella of leadership, four cardinal
points have arisen in which, so far, the majority seem to agree. Best of
all is that they don't aspire to be the four cardinal points, simply
four points, lacking the definite article. Their principal merit is not
that everyone agrees with them, but that no one appears to be against them.

If we made the incalculable error of saying that these were the only
important points and there were no others, we could be sure that there
would be more detractors than defenders, particularly given our infinite
capacity to add new elements to the list of what needs to be done, of
what must be demanded of the government, or of what motivates citizen

This is the reason why other just demands, which enjoy undisputed
sympathy but no broad consensus, do not appear on the list. One could
mention, for example, the prohibition of abortion, the acceptance of
marriage between same-sex couples, the elimination of military service,
the return of confiscated properties, the opening of judicial processes
against violators of human rights and the ensuing investigation of
crimes committed, the immediate celebration of free elections, the
dissolution of Parliament, the annulment of the Communist Party, or the
rebate of taxes.

There are thousands of demands which, like mushrooms after the rain,
will arise at the instant that political dissent in Cuba is
decriminalized and when, happily, Cuba will be a difficult country to govern

The absence of particulars does not take away from the effectiveness of
these four points which, far from attempting a neutrality to facilitate
their assimilation, constitute a clear commitment to democracy and human
rights, the proof of which is in the enthusiasm that has awakened in our
civil society, and the obvious aversion this is caused among those who rule.

Although they have already been divulged I reproduce them here:

The unconditional release of all political prisoners including those on
The end of political repression, often violent, against the peaceful
human rights and pro-democracy movement
Respect for the international commitments already signed by the Cuban
government, and ratification—without reservations—of the International
Covenants on Human Rights and compliance with the covenants of the
International Labor Organization on labor and trade union rights.
Recognition of the legitimacy of independent Cuban civil society.
14 August 2014

Source: Four Cardinal Points / Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Brochure Warns Travelers About New Customs Rules / 14ymedio
Posted on August 17, 2014

14YMedio, Havana, 16 August 2014 – As of this morning a brochure titled
"Customs Regulations Every Traveler Should Know" is on sale at all the
newsstands. This is the fourth edition which, at a price of 2 Cuban
pesos, includes the new customs regulations that will take effect
September first.

The General Customs of the Republic (AGR) issued Resolution 206/2014
which limits the quantities of the same item that can be imported, and
details the cost to bring it into the country. Among the most affected
products are food, jewelry, toiletries, clothing—including
underwear—plus appliances and computers.

In an interview with the official press, the deputy chief of the AGR,
Idalmis Rosales Milanes, justified the move based on "a study that
confirmed the high volumes imported by certain people are destined for
marketing and profit. Computers and communications tools will be
particularly affected.

The brochure available at the newsstands contains some of the
clarifications that Customs has been posting on its website. The text
answers general questions about what will change and what will not
change as of the first of September.

The measure has caused concern among Cubans who consider these imports a
way to alleviate shortages, high prices and the poor quality of the
products offered in the retail trade network. The self-employed are
demanding the implementation of commercial import rules that allow them
to bring into the country the raw materials and products to do their jobs.

Source: Brochure Warns Travelers About New Customs Rules / 14ymedio |
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Industry tour of Cuba set for early 2015
Posted on August 15th, 2014
Written by Reagan Haynes

Cuba is gaining attention as a potential trade partner for the marine
industry as some speculate whether the United States will lift its
half-century trade embargo with the country.

Marina consultant Richard Graves and Associates is planning a
U.S.-sanctioned industry tour of the country for Feb. 18-22, directly
after the Miami International Boat Show, to help interested parties save
on airfare.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association also has a small
delegation of select members touring the island now who are interested
in learning more about its industry potential, the NMMA confirmed to
Trade Only Today.

"I firmly believe the embargo will soon be lifted. It doesn't make sense
and solves nothing. In fact, most people don't even know how it started
over 50 years ago," Graves and Associates principal Richard Graves told
Trade Only Today. "In recent surveys the majority of Americans believe
the embargo should be lifted. It is also interesting to note that most
Cubans in the U.S. under 40 also believe the embargo should end."

Graves told Trade Only that he fears the United States will be left out
of potential growth and development if it doesn't lift the embargo
sooner rather than later.

"Spain is building the marinas, France is building the hotels, the
Chinese are investing, and even Putin is offering help in the
construction of their shipping port—and the U.S. is left out," Graves
said. "Raul Castro has even made an overture to the U.S. to renew

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and the 16th-largest island
in the world.

Anticipating the end of the travel ban, Cuban state enterprises
responsible for marine infrastructure have begun an unprecedented push
to prepare the island nation for yacht tourism and U.S. boaters.
Although there are only 15 marinas with 789 slips, there are plans to
add 23 more marinas with more than 5,000 slips, Graves said.

The expansion of Marina Gaviota at Varadero, 90 miles from the Florida
Keys, is intended to help augment facilities for large recreational vessels.

Accompanying the marina will be a five-star villa hotel development.
Plans show a marina complex akin to Atlantis at Nassau in the Bahamas or
St. Tropez in France, only larger.

After extensive renovations and a massive expansion, Marina Gaviota
Varadero will become Cuba's largest and most modern marina. When
complete, it will accommodate about 1,200 boats. An official opening is
planned for 2015, but vessels are using the marina now.

Last year, Cuban President Raul Castro announced the end of travel
restrictions, making it easier for millions of Cubans to leave the
communist country.

Parties interested in participating in the tour with Graves must submit
paperwork and be approved by Oct. 1.

"NMMA facilitated a [U.S.-sanctioned] research trip to Cuba on behalf of
its members with the objective to understand the market and make
meaningful contacts and connections that may benefit recreational
boating," NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins told Trade Only.

The NMMA does not have an official position on the current or future
status of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba and continues to abide by the
trade restrictions the United States has imposed, she added.

Source: Industry tour of Cuba set for early 2015 | Trade Only Today - Continue reading
Coming to the aid of Cuba
Melissa Villeneuve

The generosity of a local couple and their doctor was felt halfway
around the world, thanks to their donation of medical equipment and
supplies in Cuba. Now they hope the public will come aboard to assist in
their humanitarian effort.

Most people leave room in their suitcases to bring back souvenirs and
trinkets from the places they've seen, but for Wayne Hawthorne and his
wife Marilyn Cortez, it's the exact opposite. They travel to Cuba for
two to three months each year, and for the last couple trips they've
readily left some luggage contents behind.

"I've been to Cuba five times now, and I've found there are a lot of
things you can't buy in Cuba, or things they cannot afford," says
Hawthorne. "So we would go down with our luggage loaded up and come back
with it empty," he chuckles.

According to WestJet policy, the airline provides transport up to 50
pounds of goods and equipment for humanitarian use, at no extra charge,
beyond the ticket price. Hawthorne says they take 50 pounds each, on top
of their regular luggage allowance, of mostly clothing, colouring books,
pencils and crayons for kids – items that are either really expensive or
unavailable in Cuba. On one of their previous trips, they discovered
there was a need for updated medical equipment in the clinics in Cuba.

Hawthorne told his family doctor, Dr. Riyaz Mohamed, of the ancient
equipment used in Cuba and asked if he had any unused supplies or
equipment he could donate that they would then take over. Dr. Mohamed
discovered he could donate an autoclave, a machine used to sterilize
needles and equipment through high steam pressure.

"At one time, Dr. Mohamed required an autoclave but later, he found that
a surgical supply company could deliver sterile instruments right to his
office," said Hawthorne. "That service saved his staff the time that was
required to operate the autoclave, so he was happy to donate it." >

The couple delivered the autoclave to the polyclinic "Mario Munoz
Monroy," which is a health-care centre and teaching hospital in Guanabo,
Habana Este. Hawthorne says they were able to get it through customs
with a letter from the receiving doctor, Dr. Francisco Felipe Hern‡ndez
G‡rciga, a.k.a. Dr. Pancho.

Although Dr. Mohamed doesn't consider the autoclave a "major" donation,
those on the receiving end of this gift were overjoyed, as it will speed
up their sterilization times threefold. And, Hawthorne says, the old
machine that was replaced will in turn be passed down to another Cuban
health centre that doesn't have a very good one.

"Nothing ever goes to waste," he says.

While the health-care system is free in Cuba for everyone, including
tourists, doctors don't make much money and they're not well equipped in
terms of our standards.

"Our Dr. Poncho gets about $32 per month pay and in addition about $12
worth of food stamps, which every Cuban gets," said Hawthorne. Despite
low wages, Hawthorne says medical treatment is excellent in Cuba and
that they train doctors for all the Carribbean countries as a way of
having something to trade.

"Venezuela gives them a lot of petrol products, so they train doctors
for them," he says. "Some Cuban doctors actually go to those countries
to work and the deal is Venezuela pays them $13,000 per year for a
doctor but the doctor only gets to keep $4,000. The rest goes back to
Cuba to pay for his education."

Hawthorne hopes to encourage other Alberta travellers and physicians to
contribute to the cause, as in Canada, we are discarding medical
equipment that is easily used in Cuban medical clinics and hospitals. He
says patients can ask their physicians if they have any unused equipment.

"It's just a case of finding people who go down to Cuba," says
Hawthorne. "We've got a whole bunch of stuff ready to go this year as
well. Dr. Mohamed says he's going to give us one of those things that
tells you how much oxygen is in your blood, so we'll take that down."

For anyone interested in contributing, Hawthorne says Dr. Riyaz Mohamed
can be a point of contact at 403-732-5515.

Source: Coming to the aid of Cuba › The Lethbridge Herald – - Continue reading
14YMedio, Havana, 16 August 2014 – As of this morning a brochure titled “Customs Regulations Every Traveler Should Know” is on sale at all the newsstands. This is the fourth edition which, at a price of 2 Cuban pesos, includes … Continue reading Continue reading
They are difficult to count, not to mention uncountable, the projects carried out in order to find alternative solutions to Cuba’s problems. When I say “alternatives” I’m obviously referring to a broad set of programs, documents, statements not coming from governmental … Continue reading Continue reading
16 August 2014 Last updated at 23:03 GMT

Cuba: A country where toilet paper is rarer than partridge
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Havana

Years after the collapse of the USSR, Cuba remains a bastion of
communism, central planning... and shortages of basic goods. Anyone
returning from a trip abroad therefore takes as many of these as they
can carry - even if they are flying from Moscow.

The bright orange bottle of cleaning fluid was probably the oddest item
stuffed into my suitcase this time, wedged in beside the tennis shoes
for one friend and pile of baby clothes for another. It's a ritual I've
grown used to: every time you leave communist-run Cuba with its
centrally-planned economy and sparsely-stocked stores, you go shopping.

But as I packed my bags last week to head back to Havana, I did a
double-take. I was in Moscow, heading home from a work trip, and as
usual carrying as many presents and supplies as I could. And yet it
wasn't so long ago that I'd stock up in the same way for trips to Russia.

I was a student there in the early 1990s as the country emerged - very
painfully - from seven decades of communism. The shops then were
stomach-achingly bare.

My friends and I would head out each day with empty bags to scour the
shelves of gloomy, musty stores. We got used to buying whatever there
was, not what we wanted - pickled tomatoes, perhaps, or canned fish on a
good day.

But the new Moscow I visited last week is chock-full of shopping malls,
its streets lined with global brands and coffee chains. My closest
friend there, Natasha, now makes most of her purchases with a few taps
on her iPad.

When I told Natasha about my mad shopping dash for Cuba, we remembered
her own first trip abroad, to Britain, a year before the Soviet Union

My mother had taken her out one day for the weekly food shop. "I
remember there were all these different cheeses and 10 types of
everything." Natasha laughed, recalling her first encounter with a
Western supermarket. At first I was excited - then I started crying my
eyes out.

"We've forgotten what things used to be like here," she admitted, as we
stood chatting close to a branch of McDonald's and a mobile phone shop.
"We definitely take all this for granted."

In Natasha's childhood, it was Soviet subsidies that kept Cuba's economy
afloat: this tropical island was Moscow's ideological ally, right on
America's doorstep. But in the post-Soviet 1990s, after that subsidy
lifeline was severed, Cubans suffered badly.

A friend in Havana told me she wound up in hospital once. There was no
fuel for public transport and she was eating so little she collapsed
trying to pedal her bicycle to work.

In today's Cuba - if you have money - you won't go hungry. A series of
economic reforms that began as a post-Soviet survival mechanism have
slowly expanded. People are now free to run small businesses - creating
a growing number of private cafes and restaurants.

And as farmers no longer have to sell everything they produce to the
state, those restaurant owners can now get supplies straight from the
source - bypassing a state distribution network that's notorious for its

Yet, despite Cuba's proximity to the US, Washington's 50-year-old trade
embargo - which was designed to squeeze this island's communist
government from power - means there's no American investment here.
There's no Starbucks, no Coca-Cola plant.

Some might see that as a good thing. But they might not find shopping
for essentials quite so quaint. I once approached my big local
supermarket full of optimism. I now know I'm likely to find a mixture of
half-bare shelves and ones stacked with a single product: cheap ketchup,
say, or adult incontinence pads.

Basic items disappear whenever Cuba struggles to meet its import bills.
For weeks there was no toilet paper or cartons of milk. Now even the
delicious local coffee is "lost," as Cubans say - "esta perdido".

Mind you there's plenty of "partridge in brine," should anyone fancy
that. I've seen the same pile of cans on display for more than two years
at $25 apiece. Perhaps a central planner ticked the wrong order box.

But partridge aside, overseas travel can become one frantic
shopping-run. There's so much demand for everything here, that
travellers known as "mules" will carry all sorts of goods into Cuba for
sale - though the government has begun cracking-down on this illicit
shuttle trade.

On a smaller scale, having family and friends who can shop abroad has
become a vital resource for many.

When I told our cameraman I was off to Russia he laughingly suggested I
bring him back some spare parts for his ancient car, a Lada. Apart from
the battered, beautiful American classics of 1950s, the boxy Soviet-made
Lada is still the most common sight on Cuba's rutted roads.


Source: BBC News - Cuba: A country where toilet paper is rarer than
partridge - Continue reading
Even though the US embargo on Cuba has stifled trade for half a century, Cuba has been cautiously relaxing control of its state-run economy and hopes to boost its trading activities. (Source: Al Jazeera Continue reading
Chakravarthi Raghavan, renowned journalist and long-time observer of multilateral negotiations, analyses agreements to liberalise world trade since the Second World War up the recent Bali conference, Continue reading
Details Written by ACN Category: Cuba Published: 15 August 2014 Hits: 8 HAVANA, Cuba.- World Trade Organization´s general director Roberto Azevedo welcomed the process underway Continue reading
Havana, August 14 (RHC )-- The World Trade Organization´s (WTO) General Director Roberto Azevedo welcomed the process underway in Cuba to find its own ways and means towards its larger presence in world Continue reading
La Paz, August 14 (PL-RHC) -- The Association of Bolivian Physicians in Cuba have repudiated U.S subversive plans against the Caribbean nation, and demanded the end of the trade, financial and economic Continue reading
Why Russia and Cuba Are Partying Like It's 1962
By Lucy Westcott and Bill Powell / August 12, 2014 5:21 AM EDT

It seemed like old times: In Havana in early July, Castro, the
revolutionary leader of Cuba, embraced the current occupant of the
Kremlin—once upon a time the isolated Communist island's sugar
daddy—together gleefully sticking a finger in the eye of their Cold War
rival in Washington.

In this case, the Castro was Raúl—the younger brother of the ailing (or
still alive?) Fidel—who now runs Cuba, and Vladimir Putin, the Russian
president, who seems driven to not only reconstitute (to the extent he
can) the Soviet Union but also to put the old band of anti-American
developing-world countries back together again. This was the second
visit from Russia's leader since the Soviet Union fell apart and—much to
Havana's fury—Moscow effectively dumped it as an unaffordable client state.

But as Putin, since his annexation of Crimea in March and his backing of
Ukrainian separatists, has become increasingly hostile toward the West,
his Cuba visit raised an important question: In 2014, is a Moscow-Havana
alliance as potentially consequential for the United States and its
allies in the region as it once was? These, after all, were the players
that in 1962 brought the world to as close to nuclear Armageddon as it
has ever been.

Putin's motives for establishing closer ties with not only Havana but
other like-minded countries in Latin America—Venezuela and Nicaragua
specifically—seem straightforward. In the wake of his push into Ukraine,
Russia's relations with the West are deteriorating rapidly. So in the
East he signed a massive gas deal with China (the two powers have long
viewed each other warily at best), then looked south for a
back-to-the-future moment with Cuba.

During the visit, Putin agreed to write off $32 billion in Russian debt
to Cuba, leaving just over $3 billion left to pay over the next 10
years. This was a significant economic weight lifted from Havana, whose
gross domestic product shrank by up to a third with the loss of direct
aid and subsidies from Moscow after the Soviet Union fell. Putin and
Raúl Castro also agreed to new deals in energy, health and disaster
prevention and help with building a vast new seaport. Moscow is also now
exploring for oil and gas in Cuban waters, right in the U.S.'s backyard.

The deals were the most pronounced sign yet that the formerly estranged
couple were reconciling—a process that has been under way for more than
a year. Early in 2013, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited
and agreed to lease eight jets to Cuba. In June, as part of a "space
cooperation" agreement, Cuba said it will allow Moscow to base
navigation stations for its own global positioning system, called
Glonass, on the island.

"What Putin is doing is reestablishing the relationships that, when
Russia was turning west, planning to become part of wider Europe, and
giving up the legacy of the Soviet Union, were actually neglected," says
Nina Khrushcheva, an associate professor of international affairs at the
New School and granddaughter of former Russian premier Nikita
Khrushchev. "I think that stands at the core of his reengagement."

But Putin didn't show up in Havana simply to sign trade deals. The
former KGB man had more on his mind than a photo op before flying back
to Moscow. Important strategic moves were made. In exchange for
canceling the Cuban debt, Russian news outlet Kommersant reported,
Russia plans to reopen the so-called Lourdes spying post. Opened south
of Havana in 1967, Lourdes was the largest and most extensive Soviet
signals intelligence facility outside of the Soviet Union for much of
the Cold War, says Austin Long, an assistant professor of international
and public affairs at Columbia University.

Moscow closed Lourdes, which operated only 150 miles from the Florida
coast, in 2001. At its operating peak, more than 75 percent of Russia's
strategic intelligence on the U.S. came through Lourdes, including
monitoring NASA's space program at Cape Canaveral.

While there are doubts over just how quickly Russia can reopen the
28-square-mile compound—and, considering Putin has actually denied the
reports, whether it will even open—the news is still significant. "It
indicates a real effort by Putin to revitalize the worldwide rather than
just regional capabilities of Russia for intelligence collection, and
maybe eventually for the protection of military power," says Long.

Deeper than that is Russia's realization that it may be lagging far
behind in the murky realm of cybersecurity, particularly after Edward
Snowden's National Security Agency leaks, Long said. But there is
another way of looking at Russia's spying ambitions in the wake of the
Cold War. If, as has been widely speculated, Snowden, whom Putin has
just awarded a three-year visa to remain in Russia, was a Moscow spy
from the start, far from lagging in the cyber-spying race, Moscow may be
a nose ahead of the U.S.

"I think this is partly an attempt by them to reopen a facility that
gives them some access, at least in theory, into the West," Long said.
"The Russians are okay on low-level cyber stuff, but I don't think
they've kept up overall in terms of signals intelligence, certainly not
over what the U.S. and the U.K. have done over the past decade."

And while information-gathering technology may have changed beyond all
recognition since the late 1960s—with satellite technology rendering
ground-based operations largely useless—if Lourdes does reopen, Russia
can provide information to allies like Venezuela and Bolivia, says
Robert Jervis, a professor of international politics at Columbia University.

"I think there's real benefit [to reopening Lourdes]. After all, the
U.S. tries to vacuum up everything imaginable, so we shouldn't be
surprised that Russia would want to do likewise," he said.

Moscow's moves puts Cuba in play as an asset to annoy the U.S. at a time
when relations are worse with Washington than at any time since the end
of the Cold War. And they come amid evidence that Washington under the
Obama administration hasn't exactly been ignoring Cuba from an
intelligence standpoint either. The Associated Press recently revealed
that in 2009 the U.S. ran an operation, under the guise of the U.S.
Agency for International Development, sending young Latin Americans into
Cuba in "hopes of ginning up rebellion."

The Russian rapprochement goes way beyond the potential reopening of
Lourdes. Last year, Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov
visited key intelligence sites in Cuba. One year after Medvedev's visit
to Cuba in 2008, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that
Russia had engaged in talks to establish military bases in Cuba as well
as Venezuela and Nicaragua.

"Anything that annoys the U.S. probably makes Putin feel better," Jervis
said. "It's symbolic muscle-flexing."

How seriously should Washington take Russia's reengagement with Cuba?
Regional experts both in and out of government say, for the moment
anyway, not very. The reopening of Lourdes isn't going to threaten U.S.
national security when organized crime, drug trafficking and
uncontrolled migration are top priorities for the U.S. in Latin America,
says Joaquín Roy, a professor of European integration at the University
of Miami.

"Russia doesn't have the military or naval capability of converting this
into a beachhead of operations in Latin America," Roy said. "If someone
believes that, this is totally silly."

Still, Putin is a shrewd image-builder and will seek out and exploit
those countries disappointed in the United States, Khrushcheva says.
"It's the image-building for those who have been incredibly disappointed
by 20-plus years of U.S. lone leadership of the world," she said.

And in the spying game—as in real estate—location counts is paramount.
Ultimately, Cuba's proximity to the U.S. gives it value to a Russian
president who has decided he wants to make life as difficult for the
United States as he is able. And Obama's comments in March this year,
after Putin's Crimea invasion, that the U.S. is working to "isolate"
Russia from the international community, only gives Moscow more
incentive to re-engage Havana.

Putin's Cuba trip, says Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian
studies at Princeton University, "was a reply to Obama's notion that
Russia could be isolated, by saying, 'Hey, here we are back 90 miles off
your shore with a big greeting, and we're going back into economic
business here.'"

While the revival of the lapsed Russia-Cuba love affair might be an
irritant to a United States that has long hoped the demise of Fidel
Castro would finally bring an end of Cuba's isolation—and possibly a
reorientation toward Washington— the U.S. has much bigger problems with
Moscow these days. And Russia simply doesn't have the
wherewithal—despite its oil and gas wealth—to refight a cold war in all
the old venues.

"If you compare [the Russian threat today] to the Soviet Union 30 years
ago, that was a large scale, global challenge," says Columbia's Austin
Long. "I think Putin certainly has ambitions to restore global stature
to Russian power, but we're just not there, and I don't see any prospect
that we will be."

Putin may punch above his weight, but at some point, reality sets in.
"The gap in capabilities between the U.S. and Russia now," says Long,
"and the Soviet Union and the United States 30 or 40 years ago is just
much, much greater."

Source: Why Russia and Cuba Are Partying Like It's 1962 - Continue reading
Aug 13, 2014 - 23:38 GMT Escrito por Ileana Ferrer Fonte    13 de agosto de 2014, 10:23Havana, Aug 13 (Prensa Latina) The Director-General of the World Trade Continue reading
Even though a 1962 U.S. trade embargo restricts travel to Cuba, some Americans are allowed to travel there if they follow certain rules. Continue reading
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Even though a 1962 U.S. trade embargo restricts travel to Cuba, some Americans are allowed to travel there if they follow certain rules. Continue reading
Cuba promoted its 2014 International Trade Fair in Argentina and invited Argentinean companies to look at the opportunities offered by the new Cuban Investment Law. During a meeting at the Cuban embassy Continue reading
Buenos Aires, Aug 8 (Prensa Latina) Cuba presented in Argentina the Havana Trade Fair, FIHAV 2014, and urged Argentinian firms to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new Foreign Investment Continue reading
From this side of the Atlantic relations between Cuba and the United States would hardly be described as friendly. But, as Katherine Canfield, explains there is far more bridge building going on than Continue reading
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Vice-Director of the Investment and Promotion Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce Wang Jian led the Chinese Investment and Trade Promotion Mission to Cuba and Canada for a series of promotion activities Continue reading
Democracy , Development & Aid , Economy & Trade , Editors' Choice , Featured , Financial Crisis , Headlines , Human Rights , Latin America & the Caribbean , Migration & Refugees , Population , Poverty Continue reading
Posted on Monday, 08.04.14

Groups: US political effort in Cuba hurts aid work

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. program in Cuba that secretly used an
HIV-prevention workshop for political activism was assailed Monday by
international public health officials and members of Congress who
declared that such clandestine efforts put health programs at risk
around the world.

Beginning in late 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development
deployed nearly a dozen young people from Latin America to Cuba to
recruit political activists, an Associated Press investigation found.
The operation put the foreigners in danger not long after a U.S.
contractor was hauled away to a Cuban jail.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Monday it would be "worse than
irresponsible" if USAID "concocted" an HIV-prevention workshop to
promote a political agenda.

And InterAction, an alliance of global non-governmental aid groups,
said, "The use of an HIV workshop for intelligence purposes is
unacceptable. The U.S. government should never sacrifice delivering
basic health services or civic programs to advance an intelligence goal."

The Obama administration defended its use of the HIV-prevention workshop
for its Cuban democracy-promotion efforts but disputed that the project
was a front for political purposes. The program "enabled support for
Cuban civil society, while providing a secondary benefit of addressing
the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV
prevention," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Documents and interviews make clear that the program was aimed at
recruiting a younger generation of opponents to Cuba's Castro
government. It is illegal in Cuba to work with foreign
democracy-building programs. Documents prepared for the USAID-sponsored
program called the HIV workshop the "perfect excuse" to conduct
political activity.

Leahy, who is chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that
oversees USAID, said in response to the AP's findings: "It may have been
good business for USAID's contractor, but it tarnishes USAID's long
track record as a leader in global health."

The White House is still facing questions about a once-secret "Cuban
Twitter" project, known as ZunZuneo. That program, launched by USAID in
2009 and uncovered by the AP in April, established a primitive social
media network under the noses of Cuban officials. USAID's inspector
general is investigating it.

In April, Leahy called the ZunZuneo program "dumb, dumb, dumb."

But on Monday, not all lawmakers were critical.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said USAID's programs were important
for human rights in Cuba. "We must continue to pressure the Castro
regime and support the Cuban people, who are oppressed on a daily
basis," said Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban native and vocal supporter of
pro-democracy programs there.

As for health projects, the latest criticisms come months after a pledge
by the CIA to stop using vaccine programs — such as one in Pakistan that
targeted Osama bin Laden — to gather intelligence.

In the HIV workshop effort, the AP's investigation found the Latin
American travelers' efforts were fraught with incompetence and risk. The
young workers nearly blew their mission to "identify potential
social-change actors." One said he got a paltry, 30-minute seminar on
how to evade Cuban intelligence, and there appeared to be no safety net
for the inexperienced workers if they were caught.

In all, nearly a dozen Latin Americans served in the program in Cuba,
for pay as low as $5.41 an hour.

The AP found USAID and its contractor, Creative Associates
International, continued the program even as U.S. officials privately
told their government contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba
after the arrest of contractor Alan Gross, who remains imprisoned after
smuggling in sensitive technology. A lawyer for Gross said Monday that
his client cannot take life in prison much longer and has said his
goodbyes to his wife and a daughter.

"We value your safety," one senior USAID official said in an email
concerning the Latin American travelers. "The guidance applies to ALL
travelers to the island, not just American citizens," another official said.

Creative Associates declined to comment, referring questions to USAID.

"All governments need to make trade-offs, for example, between civil
liberties and public safety," said Les Roberts, a professor at Columbia
University's Mailman School of Public Health. In the case of Cuba, he
said, there is a trade-off between conducting neutral development
efforts and "the political goal of regime change in Cuba."

"Without the appearance of neutrality," he said, "few things USAID wants
to do internationally can be achieved."

Drawing on documents and interviews worldwide, the AP found the
travelers program went to extensive lengths to hide the workers'
activities. They were to communicate in code: "I have a headache" meant
they suspected they were being monitored by Cuban authorities; "Your
sister is ill" was an order to cut their trip short.

To evade Cuban authorities, travelers installed innocent-looking content
on their laptops to mask sensitive information. They used encrypted
memory sticks to hide their files and sent obviously encrypted emails
using a system that might have drawn suspicion.

"These programs are in desperate need of adult supervision," said Sen.
Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and longtime critic of USAID's Cuba
projects. "If you are using an AIDS workshop as a front for something
else, that's — I don't know what to say — it's just wrong."

Both the travelers program and ZunZuneo were part of a larger,
multimillion-dollar effort by USAID to effect change in politically
volatile countries, government data show. But the programs reviewed by
the AP didn't appear to achieve their goals and operated under an agency
known more for its international-aid work than stealthy operations.

The travelers' project was funded under the same pot of federal money
that paid for ZunZuneo. But USAID has yet to provide the AP with a
complete copy of the Cuban contracts despite a Freedom of Information
Act request filed more than three months ago.


Orsi reported from Havana, and Rodriguez from Santa Clara, Cuba.
Associated Press writers Hannah Dreier in Caracas, Venezuela; Peter Orsi
in Havana; Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru; Raphael Satter in Dublin; Alberto
Arce in San Jose, Costa Rica; and Monika Mathur in Washington
contributed to this report.


Contact the AP's Washington investigative team at On Twitter, follow Butler at; Gillum at; Orsi at;
and Rodriguez at



Documents about the program at

Link to the unabridged story:

Another in a series of stories detailing secret American political
activity in Cuba under the Obama administration, including the creation
of a secret U.S.-backed "Cuban Twitter" program.

Source: WASHINGTON: Groups: US political effort in Cuba hurts aid work -
Florida Wires - - Continue reading
Trade to dominate as Obama welcomes African leaders 8:49 PM Simpson Miller congratulates team to 20th Commonwealth Games 6:19 PM 'Madman' disarms cop, shoots 2 civilians 5:30 PM Bertha moving Continue reading
Cuba politics and economics converge at Miami Conference
August 2, 2014
Vincent Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — A close look at the island's economy, both from Cubans
residing in the country and those living abroad, marked the second day
of discussions at the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy
conference in Miami. An overriding conclusion was that the urgent need
for expanding the changes in motion requires political decisions still

Dariela Aquique Luna, a freelance reporter from Santiago de Cuba spoke
on the theme "Cuba, a new economic model or capitalize on the excitement
of Latin American integration?" She delves into the origins of the
so-called "Updating" process, seen as a political move attempting to
once again save the prevailing power in Cuba, taking advantage of the
progress of the political forces of the left in Latin America,
especially Venezuela and Brazil.

Aquique, who writes for both Havana Times and Diario de Cuba, leads us
to believe that the current Cuban government will continue the political
game started by the "updating" process but without further reforms. As
such, she thinks it will be unable to unleash the country's productive

Jorge Ignacio Guillen Martinez, a student at the University of Havana,
described a grim reality experienced today in Cuba, based on a survey
revealing an apparent deterioration process observed when evaluating the
relationship between the changes, their direction and what should be the
objective of any economic reform: improving the human condition.

Over 75% of those responding said the current process of changes has not
meant an improvement for them. The existence of a deep anthropological
damage in Cubans is the main conclusion of this young man from Pinar del
Rio. He sees a pressing need to release the forces of stagnation in the
economy, promoting private ownership and business development, if they
want to rescue the society from its current debacle.

Dariela Aquique and Vicente Morín at the ASCE conference.
Another panel discussed the crucial issue of labor rights within the
economic changes, and the need for the contribution of independent Cuban
unionism. Also analyzed was the Mariel Port mega project, considering
the variables of its limited success thus far in the context of
international trade.

The day's panel sessions then ended with a plenary and the presentation
by former Cuban diplomat Miriam Leyva, widow of the economist and human
rights activist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Miriam analyzed the transition
taking place in Cuba and relations with the United States. She opted for
a new political approach based on constructive steps that abandon old
dogmas, such as the Yes or No on the controversial issue of the embargo.

The fact is that changing Cuba requires a continued exchanging of ideas,
expanding the ability of Cubans to learn about experiences beyond the
island's borders, facilitating visits to the country by US citizens, as
well as training entrepreneurs. In summarizing, opening doors and
building bridges.

The XXIV Annual Conference of ASCE ends today with an emphasis on issues
related to foreign investment and the new legal framework as well as the
mass media and culture. Undoubtedly, the event is planting a seed for a
future harvest.

Source: Cuba politics and economics converge at Miami Conference -
Havana - Continue reading
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Cuba will soon celebrate the 61st anniversary of the start of the revolution that put Fidel Castro in power and provoked one of the United States' longest-running foreign policy failures - a trade embargo Continue reading
Putin Restores a Cuban Beachhead
The Kremlin and the Castros are chummy again, and Moscow is offering
military aid.
July 27, 2014 5:33 p.m. ET

Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes was the highest-ranking Pentagon intelligence
analyst ever to be busted for working for the Castros. What's also
notable, in light of Vladimir Putin's visit to Havana earlier this
month, is that she was nabbed in 2001, long after the Cold War ended.

Besides leaking classified material and blowing the cover of covert U.S.
intelligence agents, Montes seems to have been charged by her handlers
with convincing top brass in Washington that Fidel Castro —who had
wanted the Soviets to drop the bomb on this country during the 1962
missile crisis—no longer presents a threat to the U.S. Montes, who rose
to become the U.S. military's resident intelligence expert on Cuba,
partly accomplished that mission. The Pentagon's 1998 Cuba threat
assessment played down its military and intelligence capabilities.

The best Cuba watchers were less sanguine. The Castros remain as
paranoid, power-hungry and pathological as ever. They may be economic
fools, but they run a good business making the island available to
criminal governments, like Iran and North Korea.

Mr. Putin's Cuba trip reinforces the point. The old Cold War villains
are up to no good one more time.

Russia's president is trying to rebuild the Soviet empire. Eastern
Europe won't cooperate and in Asia the best he will ever be is China's
junior partner. But in Latin America Mr. Putin's KGB résumé and
willingness to stick his thumb in the eye of the U.S. gives him
traction. Colonizing Cuba again is an obvious move.

Enlarge Image

Cuban President Raúl Castro greets Vladimir Putin in Havana, July 11.
Kommersant via Getty Images
After the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and the gravy train to Havana was
cut off, Fidel was furious with the Kremlin. It hasn't been easy to get
back in his good graces. In 2008 the Moscow news outlet Kommersant
reported that Putin friend and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin got the
cold shoulder when he visited the island to work on "restoring
full-scale cooperation." Kommersant reported that the Castros were
"displeased" that Russia had been talking up a military deployment to
Cuba without Havana's approval.

But it seems that the world's most notorious moochers are willing to
forgive—for the right price. With sugar-daddy Venezuela running into
economic problems in recent years and Mr. Putin itching for a place in
the Caribbean sun, Cuba has decided to deal.

In February 2013 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev traveled to
Cuba, where he signed agreements to lease eight Russian jets worth $650
million to Havana and proposed some $30 billion in debt forgiveness. Two
months later, Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov visited key
military and intelligence sites on the island. In August a spokesman for
the Black Sea Fleet announced that the Russian guided-missile warship
Moskva, the fleet's flagship, had set off for Cuba and other ports in
Central and South America.

Fast forward to February of this year. Russian Defense Minister Sergei
Shoigu announced that Russia had engaged in talks to establish military
bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. The next day a Russian
intelligence-gathering ship docked in Havana.

In May, Russia's Security Council and Cuba's Commission for National
Security and Defense agreed in Moscow to form a joint working group.
"The situation in the world is changing fast and it is dynamic. That's
why we need the ability to react promptly," Nikolai Patrushev, secretary
of the Russian Security Council, told the press. Cuban Col. Alejandro
Castro Espin, son of Raúl Castro, led the Cuban delegation. In June
Russia signed a space cooperation agreement with Cuba to allow it to use
the island to base its Glonass (Russia's alternative to GPS) navigation

When he called in Havana this month Mr. Putin flaunted his intentions to
restore a Russian beachhead in Cuba. The shootdown of the Malaysian
Airlines flight on the same day that he ended his Latin American tour
raised the visibility of a trip that was made for both psychological and
strategic reasons. Mr. Putin wants to assure the Free World that he can
be a menace in the U.S. backyard—and he wants a local foothold to make
the threat real.

Mr. Putin officially wrote off $32 billion of bad Cuban debt on his
trip, leaving just $3.2 billion due over the next 10 years. Russia is
looking for oil in Cuban waters, and Mr. Putin signed new agreements in
energy, industry and trade with Castro. Days after the visit he denied
rumors that the Kremlin intends to reopen its old
electronic-eavesdropping facility on the island.

That's cold comfort, even if you believe him. Satellite technology has
made land-based listening posts obsolete in many ways. Far more
troubling is the emergence of Mr. Putin as a Latin American presence.
Tyrants all over the region, starting with the Castros, admire his
ruthlessness and skill in consolidating economic and political power.
They want to emulate him. It's a role model the region could do without.

Write to O'

Source: Mary O'Grady: Putin Restores a Cuban Beachhead - WSJ - Continue reading
From Cyberspace to Moringa / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on July 25, 2014

The signing of 29 documents between the government of Cuba and various
official and business interests from the People's Republic of China on
the occasion of Xi Jinping's visit to the island has awakened great
expectations among Cubans. One of the most striking things was the
television news broadcast of the signing ceremony for the documents,
which could be seen along with all of the boring protocol details. A
parade of ministers and businessmen passed in front of the table placed
in the hall the Council of State, and in the background an enormous
stained-glass titled The Sun of our America stood under the watchful
eyes of the presidents of both countries.

While the television-announcer-turned-master-of-ceremonies was revealing
the nature of the initialed documents and saying the names and titles of
the signatories, it was difficult to take in what was really happening.
What is the difference, many wondered, between a memorandum of
understanding, an exchange of letters, a framework accord, a cooperation
agreement, a commercial contract, and a funding agreement? How could one
discern the hierarchy that distinguishes an exchange agreement from an
executive program? What is the basic difference between a framework
agreement and a memorandum of cooperation?

What everyone did understand was that the Asian giant granted credits
and made donations and investments in very sensitive areas. Examples of
these are cyberspace, communications, digital television, improvements
in the port of Santiago de Cuba, the supply of raw materials for the
production of nickel, oil drilling, and the construction of a building
complex associated with a golf course.

The rest, not wanting to overstate their importance, is filled with
Chinese water meters, young Chinese learning Spanish in Cuba, packaging
lines, office supplies, and transportation.

With regard to what was missing, at least among the 29 documents,
nothing was heard about an increase in tourism, nor was there a single
word about the Port of Mariel megaproject, and there was nothing about
free-trade agreements such as those between China and other Latin
American countries.

By chance—or benevolence—the number 13, a number so significant to the
former Cuban president, appeared at the top of the Framework Agreement
on the Establishment of the Agricultural Demonstration Farm, signed by
the ministers of agriculture of both countries, which had among its
objectives "cooperation on the science and technology of moringa,
mulberry and silk worms." What it said, a mere detail, passed unnoticed.

Source: From Cyberspace to Moringa / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar |
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Russia to give Cuba $1m to restore damage from Hurricane Sandy
25.07.2014 | Source: Pravda.Ru

Officials with the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia would give
Cuba a million dollars for the restoration of damaged housing in the
province of Santiago de Cuba. The document was signed by the Russian
Ambassador in Cuba Mikhail Kamynin and coordinator of the UN system in
Havana Myrta Kaulard.

"Russia will allocate one million dollars for the reconstruction of
housing stock in the province of Santiago de Cuba, damaged in 2012 by
Hurricane Sandy. The Funds will be used to finance the project,
developed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) . In particular, it
stipulates for the repairs of hundreds of homes, which will give
primarily low-income families an opportunity to return to permanent
places of their residence. Construction materials will be purchased on
the local market, which will contribute to the development of small and
medium-sized Cuban business.

"This project will further strengthen friendly Russian-Cuban relations,
demonstrating the increasing role of Russia as a donor of international
development," a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Representatives of the Cuban Ministry for Foreign Trade and Foreign
Investment attended the signing ceremony, ITAR-TASS reports.

Source: Russia to give Cuba $1m to restore damage from Hurricane Sandy -
English - Continue reading
The signing of 29 documents between the government of Cuba and various official and business interests from the People’s Republic of China on the occasion of Xi Jinping’s visit to the island has awakened great expectations among Cubans. One of … Continue reading Continue reading
25 de julio de 2014, 09:20 Guayaquil, Ecuador, JUl 25 (Prensa Latina) Cuba awaits for the celebration of the anniversary of the assault to the Moncada Garrison occurred on July 26, 1953, while the trade Continue reading