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Trade

On July 22 in Havana, Cuba, in the presence of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and Cuban president, Raul Castro, CNPC vice president, Wang Dongjin, and general director of Cupet, Juan Torres Naranjo, signed Continue reading
NAMPA / XINHUA Urgent:Bomb blast injured 7 in southwest Pakistan NAMPA / XINHUA China produces more cigarettes NAMPA / XINHUA FLASH: EXPLOSION ROCKED PETROL STATION IN NIGERIA'S KANO NAMPA / XINHUA Continue reading
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.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
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
stations.

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'Grady@wsj.com

Source: Mary O'Grady: Putin Restores a Cuban Beachhead - WSJ -
http://online.wsj.com/articles/mary-ogrady-putin-restores-a-cuban-beachhead-1406496813 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 -
http://translatingcuba.com/from-cyberspace-to-moringa-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/ 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 pravda.ru -
http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/25-07-2014/128166-russia_cuba_sandy-0/#.U9KJr_mSwx4 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
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
New Measures by Cuban Customs Service Coming in September / Ivan Garcia
Posted on July 23, 2014

On September 1, 2014 the Customs Service of the Republic of Cuba will
begin enforcing new regulations intended to combat illegal trafficking
of merchandise by relatives, friends and "mules"* through airports and
port facilities.

It's one more turn of the screw. Every year since 2011 new regulations
have been put in place designed to halt the illegal importation of goods
destined for families and private businesses on the island.
In Spring 2012 the customs service began charging ten dollars for every
kilo above the twenty-kilo limit for personal baggage. For parcel post
the charge was ten dollars per kilo above the five-kilo limit.

According to Onelia, a customs official, "The new measures are intended
to halt the trade in goods brought in by mules."

The military regime quite often resorts to demagogic rhetoric. It
eschews the military uniform and takes on the role of victim when
talking about the economic and financial embargo that the United States
has imposed on Cuba since 1962.

But the embargo does not justify establishing a string of regulations
that affect family well-being, private businesses and the quality of
life for a wide segment of the population.

Simply put, they are applying a set of prohibitions and laws in order
increase sales in the chain of hard-currency stores operated as military
businesses. It is a disgrace.
It is monopoly in its purest form. The government would now find itself
hard pressed to explain how these measures are benefitting its citizens.
Its aberrant customs rules, prohibitions on retail sales of imported
clothing and high taxes on the self-employed are anti-populist edicts.

I asked twenty-eight people — friends, neighbors, taxi drivers, public
and private sector workers — if they approved of these regulations.
Regardless of their political beliefs, the verdict was unanimous: all
twenty-eight were opposed to the current measures as well as to those
scheduled to take effect on September 1.

Some 80% of Cubans have a relative or friend in the United States or
Europe. Some benefit from regular shipments of clothes, food,
appliances, video games, computer tablets or smart phones. Others
receive occasional shipments.

But it is black market commerce, driven scarcity and a system of
economic production that does not satisfy demand, the most important
provider of the things people need.

HP laptops, plasma-screen TVs, instant soups and even major league
baseball hats arrive on the island from Miami, as do Russian car parts
and cloned satellite TV cards, which are banned by the Cuban government.
What businessmen, politicians and exiles living in the United States do
not mention when expressing support for relaxing or repealing the
embargo is the regime's obsession with controlling our private lives.

We must navigate an internet packed with filters, watch TV channels that
the government authorizes, read books over which the mullahs of
censorship pass judgment and pay extortionist prices for cell phone service.

We should be talking more often about the internal blockade the
government imposes on its citizens.

Is it legal for a nation to stifle illegal commerce? Yes, it is. But
before punishing people, it should provide by offering range of products
and prices for the domestic market, living wages and efficient services.

This is not the case in Cuba. State workers earn around twenty dollars a
month. The "basic basket" of goods that a ration book covers barely
lasts ten days. Putting two meals a day on the table is a luxury in many
homes.

The State has become an insatiable overseer. It owns industries that
provide us with overpriced mayonnaise, canned tuna and queso blanco.

At no meeting of the boring and monotonous National Assembly did I hear
any delegate demand that the state set fair prices. Food prices in Cuban
hard currency stores are higher than those in New York.

The price of flat-screen TV or a computer is two and a half times what
it is in Miami. Tiles and bathroom fixtures are five times as expensive.
And a Peugeot 508 sells for an exorbitant price, comparable to that of a
Ferrari.

Thanks to mules, relatives in Florida send us everything from powdered
milk to sanitary pads because the state cannot satisfy the monthly
demand of women or offer such products for sale at affordable prices.

This is what it's about. The new measures attempting to stop trafficking
by mules are intended to benefit state enterprises and businesses, and
to increase their sales, though what becomes of the profits is never
revealed.

They are only hampering the transfer of small ticket items, however, not
of dollars. Greenbacks are still welcome. The more, the merrier.

Before the Obama administration relaxes that relic of the Cold War
called the embargo, those speaking on behalf of the Cuban people should
ask Raul Castro for greater freedom and economic independence for his
citizens.

And don't get me started on the denial of political rights. That's
another story.

Photo: From Univision Colorado.

*Translator's note: Slang term for couriers of goods from overseas.

18 July 2014

Source: New Measures by Cuban Customs Service Coming in September / Ivan
Garcia | Translating Cuba - http://translatingcuba.com/new-measures/ Continue reading
China, Cuba sign bilateral agreements
Raúl Castro is working to attract foreign investment to jumpstart the
ailing Cuban economy
MAYE PRIMERA Miami 23 JUL 2014 - 16:14 CEST

Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived in Havana on Tuesday to sign 29 new
bilateral agreements in finance, biotechnology, agriculture,
infrastructure and renewable energy.

Beijing will finance a new terminal at the port of Santiago de Cuba,
according to the news website Cuba Debate. China and Cuba will also
cooperate on cyberspace issues.

On the economic front, Xi and Raúl Castro agreed on protocols to oversee
the quality of the tobacco and sugar that the island nation exports to
China.

Before the meeting at the Palacio de la Revolución, Xi visited historic
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, 87, and presented him with "the respect" of
the Chinese people.

"You are the founder of the causes of the revolution and the
construction of Cuba, and you are the founder of relations between China
and Cuba," said Xi.

Xi and Castro were also expected to discuss the new conditions of the
Foreign Investment Law approved by the Cuban government in March. This
legislation, part of a government drive to jumpstart the ailing economy,
will allow foreign investors to bring their own workforce over to the
island to work on construction projects.

The Chinese president hopes to get a sense of Cuba's progress on
economic reform, especially with regard to foreign investment, with a
view to reactivating old projects and launching new ones.

This is the fourth and last Latin American stop for Xi before returning
home. Before this, he was in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, where he
signed off on multi-million-euro loans and dozens of cooperation agreements.

The government of Raúl Castro hopes for similar treatment, but first
China needs to make sure that Cuba has done its homework.

Both Raúl and Fidel Castro have underscored the key role of Chinese
investment in regional development, especially when it comes to
exploiting the rich oil, mineral and freshwater reserves in Latin
America. "We face the challenge of working toward the industrialization
of our natural and agricultural resources, of increasing and
diversifying our exports, and achieving a more equal trade balance that
will reserve an important role for our ties with the People's Republic
of China," said Raúl Castro in Brazilia on June 17.

China has significant oil interests in Cuba, where it manages several
wells in the northern coast. In June 2011, then vice-president Xi
Jinping signed 13 energy and economic agreements with Havana, including
two projects to expand the Cienfuegos refinery and build a liquid gas
plant in partnership with Venezuela.

China is Cuba's second-most-important trade partner after Venezuela,
with a bilateral trade volume of 1.4 billion dollars in 2013.

In the last 17 years, Raúl Castro has traveled to Beijing three times to
learn about the "Chinese experiment" of economic reform.

Source: China, Cuba sign bilateral agreements | In English | EL PAÍS -
http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/07/23/inenglish/1406124841_312333.html Continue reading
China Grants Credit to Cuba to Build Port Terminal in Santiago
July 23, 2014

HAVANA TIMES — China granted Cuba several new loans on Tuesday,
including one for the construction of a port terminal in Santiago de
Cuba, according to the agreements signed during the visit to the island
by Chinese President Xi Jinping, reported dpa news.

The loans from Peking are interest-free, while there are also new trade
agreements and donations. The official Cuban media did not disclose the
amounts involved.

The new lines of credit for Cuba add to the loans and investment
agreements granted by China to Venezuela and Argentina during the
earlier legs of the trip of President Xi Jinping to the region. Havana
and Santiago de Cuba are his last stops before returning to China later
Wednesday.

The governments of Beijing and Havana signed a total of 29 agreements to
enhance cooperation and economic relations, according to information
released by the state television.

The first "concessional credit line" will be aimed at "building a
multipurpose terminal in the port of Santiago de Cuba," states the text
of the agreement.

Other loans are meant to postpone payment of the Cuban debt with Beijing
and make possible the installing of digital television on the island,
which is being carried out with Chinese technology.

Other contracts provide for cooperation in the sugar and oil industries
as well as Cuba's sale to China of nickel derivatives.

Xi took part in official talks in the afternoon on Tuesday with his
Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. In the morning he visited former
President Fidel Castro, active in recent days with foreign policy matters.

Xi gave Fidel Castro a bronze bust of 175 kilograms depicting the Cuban
revolutionary in his youth.

In his first visit to Cuba as head of state, Xi was granted the Jose
Marti order, the highest distinction awarded by the Cuban state.

The Chinese leader travels on Wednesday to Santiago de Cuba, from where
he will return to his country. Cuba's second largest city, located in
the east of the country, is still recovering from the devastating
hurricane "Sandy" in October 2012.

Before reaching Cuba, the Chinese leader was in Venezuela and Argentina.
Last week he also participated in the summit of the emerging group of
BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) held in
Fortaleza and Brasilia.

The BRICS group approved the creation of two alternative institutions to
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), focused on
their interests.

In Venezuela, Xi and President Maduro signed 38 agreements that include
the sharp increase in the South American country's oil sales to China.

Caracas will go from providing the current amount of 524,000 barrels per
day to nearly double. The increase will be covered by a new line of
Chinese credit of US $4 billion, which should ensure the supply of one
million barrels of oil per day through 2016.

Xi also announced in Buenos Aires investments of almost $7 billion for
the construction of two hydroelectric dams and the modernization of the
railway.

Source: China Grants Credit to Cuba to Build Port Terminal in Santiago -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=105054 Continue reading
China eyes investment boost in Cuba
Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:29AM GMT

China's President Xi Jinping has held talks with his Cuban counterpart
Raul Castro during a state visit to the Caribbean country in a bid to
discuss the expansion of Chinese investment in the country.

Castro greeted Xi with military honors on Tuesday at the Palace of the
Revolution, where the two leaders later held private talks.

The opening of the Cuban economy has created new opportunities to
tighten bilateral ties, said Xi, who arrived in Havana Monday night.

"Cuba is already fully promoting the updating of its economic model,
which means new and important development opportunities for
Chinese-Cuban ties," he added.

China is already the Caribbean island's second-largest trading partner
after Venezuela and its primary source of credit, filling the gap left
by the US embargo on Cuba and its long-time exclusion from institutions
such as the World Bank.

Nearly 50 Chinese entrepreneurs traveled to Havana along with Xi to
explore business opportunities, attracted by foreign investment
incentives and the planned Mariel free trade zone outside Havana.

Xi kicked off his tour last week in Brazil by pledging a new $20-billion
infrastructure fund for Latin America, highlighting the fast-growing
Asian giant's increasing interest in the resource-rich region.

The trip, Xi's second to Latin America since taking office last year,
has also taken the Chinese president to Argentina and Venezuela. He
offered cash-strapped Buenos Aires an $11-billion currency swap and
signed a raft of oil and mineral deals with Caracas.

Chinese trade with Latin America has grown rapidly in recent years,
reaching $261.6 billion in 2013. China is now the second-largest trading
partner of many countries, including Argentina, and has been Brazil's
largest since 2009.

MFB/HJL

Source: PressTV - China eyes investment boost in Cuba -
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/07/23/372453/china-eyes-cuba-investment-boost/ Continue reading
They said it When it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing, Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks Continue reading
Deals signed for port building, mineral trade Giving Fidel Castro a bronze bust of the Cuban leader as a young man, President Xi Jinping wished the revolutionary leader a happy birthday and said he felt Continue reading
On September 1, 2014 the Customs Service of the Republic of Cuba will begin enforcing new regulations intended to combat illegal trafficking of merchandise by relatives, friends and “mules”* through airports and port facilities. It’s one more turn of the … Continue reading Continue reading
??JavaScript JavaScript ???? BEIJING, July 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Cuba on the final leg of his four-nation visit to Latin America. China is Cuba's second-largest trade partner Continue reading
NAMPA / XINHUA U.S. says transfer of French warships to Russia "completely inappropriate" NAMPA / XINHUA Roundup: Eastern European leaders meet to strengthen strategic alliance NAMPA / XINHUA Major Continue reading
HAVANA: Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Cuba, officials said, the last stop on a Latin American tour that has stressed trade and aid more than ideology. "Inside Jose Marti International Continue reading
In this column, 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 ... Continue reading
2014-07-22 12:57 Havana - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Cuba late on Monday, officials said, the last stop on a Latin American tour that has stressed trade and aid more than ideology. "Inside Continue reading
Everything We Know About The Huge Spy Base In Cuba That Russia Is Reopening
COREY ADWAR AND MICHAEL B KELLEY
JUL. 21, 2014, 6:00 PM 6,857 24

Moscow and Havana have agreed to reopen a Cold War-era signals
intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba.
An agreement was reached during Putin's visit to Cuba last week to
reopen the base, Russia business daily Kommersant reported last week.
That was confirmed by a Russian security source who told Reuters: "A
framework agreement has been agreed."

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis had brought
the U.S. and Soviet Union close to confrontation over Moscow's proposal
to place nuclear weapons on Cuban soil.

Havana shut it down in 2001 because of financial issues and American
pressure.

Located south of Cuba's capital Havana and just 150 miles from the U.S.
coast, the base left many parts of the U.S. vulnerable to Soviet
communication intercepts, including exchanges between Florida space
centers and U.S. spacecraft.

Here's what a Congressional report from 2000 said about the facility:

• The Secretary of Defense formally expressed concerns to Congress
regarding the espionage complex at Lourdes, Cuba, and its use as a base
for intelligence directed against the United States.

• The Secretary of Defense, referring to a 1998 Defense Intelligence
Agency assessment, reported that the Russian Federation leased the
Lourdes facility for an estimated $100 million to $300 million a year.

• It has been reported that the Lourdes facility was the largest such
complex operated by the Russian Federation and its intelligence service
outside the region of the former Soviet Union.

• The Lourdes facility was reported to cover a 28 square-mile area with
over 1,500 Russian engineers, technicians, and military personnel
working at the base.

• Experts familiar with the Lourdes facility have reportedly confirmed
that the base had multiple groups of tracking dishes and its own
satellite system, with some groups used to intercept telephone calls,
faxes, and computer communications, in general, and with other groups
used to cover targeted telephones and devices.

• News sources have reported that the Lourdes facility obtained
sensitive information about United States military operations during
Operation Desert Storm.

• Academic studies cite official U.S. sources affirming that the Lourdes
facility was used to collect personal information about United States
citizens in the private and government sectors, and offered the means to
engage in cyberwarfare against the U.S.

• The operational significance of the Lourdes facility reportedly grew
dramatically after Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a 1996 order
demanding the Russian intelligence community increase its gathering of
U.S. and other Western economic and trade secrets.

• It has been reported that the Government of the Russian Federation is
estimated to have spent in excess of $3 billion in the operation and
modernization of the Lourdes facility.

• Former U.S. Government officials were quoted confirming reports about
the Russian Federation's expansion and upgrade of the Lourdes facility.

• It was reported in December 1999 that a high-ranking Russian military
delegation headed by Deputy Chief of the General Staff Colonel-General
Valentin Korabelnikov visited Cuba to discuss the continuing Russian
operation of the Lourdes facility.

Defense experts agree the base could significantly boost Russia's
ability to spy on America during a low-point in U.S.-Russia relations.

Ivan Konovalov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Trends
Studies, estimated that the Lourdes base was used to acquire at least
50% of the Soviet Union's radio-intercepted intelligence from the U.S.,
according to Reuters.

Reopening the Lourdes base could boost Russia's intelligence-gathering
capabilities "quite significantly" as U.S.-Russia relations remain
strained. "One needs to remember that Russia's technical intelligence
abilities are very weak. This will help," Konovalov told Reuters.

If reopened, the base will demonstrate Russia's interest in maintaining
its own alliances to counter those of the U.S.

"After what's happened in Ukraine, with all these alliances the United
States has developed, Russia is showing it's joining the game and that
it too can lean on allies and form alliances," Sergey Ermakov, head of
the Regional Security Section at the Russian Institute for Strategic
Studies, told Reuters.

Source: The Spy Base Russia May Reopen In Lourdes, Cuba - Business
Insider -
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-spy-base-russia-may-reopen-in-lourdes-cuba-2014-7 Continue reading
China and Venezuela agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership during President Xi Jinping's visit to Caracas, viewed as an effort to chart a new course for bilateral relations Continue reading
AFP CARACAS, Venezuela--Chinese President --i Jinping arrived Sunday in Venezuela, the third leg of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region and sealing energy deals. The Chinese Continue reading
21 de julio de 2014, 15:22 Havana, Jul 21 (Prensa Latina) Cuban and Chinese business people and officials expressed interest in strengthening bilateral economic and trade links. During a business Continue reading
AFP China's Xi in Venezuela seeking trade, oil deals Caracas (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to meet the head of Venezuela's National Assembly Monday and sign agreements that will tie his Continue reading
China and Venezuela agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership during President Xi Jinping 's visit to Caracas, viewed as an effort to chart a new course for bilateral Continue reading
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Church receives $7,000 to bring water filtration systems to Cuba
Monday, July 21, 2014

EXETER — A local church has received $7,000 to help provide water
filtration systems to Cubans.

The money, which has been given to Christ Church on Pine Street, comes
from The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire's Millennium Development
Goals Grant Fund.

Christ Church will partner with The Episcopal Diocese of Cuba.

"One of the greatest needs in Cuba after decades of economical isolation
and government mismanagement is clean drinking water," said Mark
Pendleton, rector at Christ Church. "The public water and sewage system
has broken down after decades of disrepair."

Pendleton led a pilgrimage to Cuba in January in which the Exeter group
saw several water filtration systems donated by other American churches.
The best water systems, said the church, were "ultraviolet water
systems." Those require less maintenance than other types.

"These systems serve as important outreach for the wider community and
gave the church a vehicle to reach out and begin a faith conversation,"
said Pendleton.

In addition to working on water systems, the Exeter group toured local
churches and the cathedral in Havana, and spent the week making
meaningful connections with Cuban Episcopalians.

Due to the U.S. trade embargo, all materials for the system have to be
transported in checked luggage by travelers. Items cannot be shipped.

A trip to Cuba is planned for March 2015 by the Episcopal Seacoast
Convocation and will be open to others throughout the diocese.

Pendleton said that journey is about more than water. The water systems
are a vehicle to begin a faith conversation, he said.

Source: Church receives $7,000 to bring water filtration systems to Cuba
- Fosters -
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AFP Xi seeks energy deals in Venezuela Caracas (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Sunday in Venezuela, the third leg of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region and Continue reading
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China's President Xi Jinping (L), accompanied by Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, arrives at Plaza San Martin square to pay homage to Argentine XIX century hero General Jose de San Martin in Continue reading
Posted on Saturday, 07.19.14

Russie-Cuba love affair on again
Trade, politics, culture and history are leading to warmer relations
between the Cold War allies.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

Like lovers who quarrel and then kiss and make up, Cuba and Russia are
falling into each other's embrace again, bringing back memories of their
more than 30 years as the warmest of Cold War allies.

The renewed love affair was in full display when Russian President
Vladimir Putin met with both Fidel and Raúl Castro and signed a dozen
agreements during a visit to Havana that launched his six-day swing
through Latin America.

"This is not surprising. Cuba and Russia were allies for many years and
remain the most natural of allies, much more so than China," said
Alcibiades Hidalgo, a Miami journalist who served as chief of staff for
Raúl Castro, Cuba's current ruler.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika marked the breaking point
in the Cold War alliance, when the communist empire collapsed and Moscow
cut subsidies to Havana estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion a year.
Cuba plunged into recession and an angry Fidel Castro denounced
Gorbachev as a traitor to socialism.

Putin, then in his first term as president of Russia, made things worse
in 2000 when he visited Havana to press Cuba to repay its $32 billion
Soviet-era debt and announce that he would close the Lourdes electronic
eavesdropping base near Havana. Fidel Castro refused to pay. Lourdes was
slowly shuttered in 2001 and 2002.

Bilateral relations began warming after Raúl Castro, described by
Hidalgo as an admirer of all things Russian, succeeded brother in 2006
and visited Russia in 2009 and again in 2012.

But the rekindled embrace blossomed during Putin's visit this month to
the lone communist-ruled nation in the Western Hemisphere, when he
signed a dozen agreements that fell neatly in line with Cuba's interest
in new credits, trade and investments.

Russia wrote off all but $3.2 billion of the debt and announced a $1.6
billion credit for construction of four power plants. The oil companies
Rosneft and Zarubezhneft promised to resume the exploration for crude in
the deep waters off Cuba's northwestern coast. There were even reports —
and denials — that Russia also had agreed to reopen the Lourdes base and
resume eavesdropping on U.S. communications.

"We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal
blockade," Putin declared in Havana, referring to the U.S. embargo. Raúl
Castro replied that the debt write-off showed "the palpable generosity
of the Russian people toward Cuba" and added that the Castro revolution
would not have survived without Soviet aid.

Beyond the economic and political factors, however, there are cultural
and historical affinities that the two nations nourished between 1960,
when they established diplomatic relations, and 1991, when the Soviet
Union collapsed.

Many if not most of Cuba's top generals and senior government officials
studied in the Soviet bloc. The island's armed forces and Communist
Party copied the Soviet model, and Cuban distilleries make vodka from
sugar cane.

Some Cubans carry Russian names like Yelena or Dmitri, some married
Russians and many remember a few of the Russian words and songs they
learned in school and the Russian cartoons they watched on TV as children.

Havana's Tavarich Restaurant, opened by two Russian brothers in 2013,
caters to Russians living in Cuba — 794, according to the 2012 census —
and "Cubans nostalgic for the Soviet era," its manager told a visiting
journalist last year.

Fidel Castro remained loyal to Moscow even as virtually every other
national leader condemned the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
And just last week he endorsed Moscow's claim that the Ukrainian
government shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

In contrast, Havana was never as close to Beijing, Hidalgo noted, even
though its combination of a relatively free economy and tight political
controls has been held up repeatedly as a model for the island nation.

Cuba took Moscow's side in the Sino-Soviet dispute that split the
communist world from 1960 to 1989. Chinese government trade credits to
Cuba have been moderate, and private investors have pulled out several
big-ticket investment projects in recent years.

"The Chinese never opened the taps [on subsidies] like the Soviet
Union," said Hidalgo.

On the Moscow side of the love affair there's a cultural component as
well, with many Russians wistfully remembering the days when Fidel
Castro was a youthful and exciting ally in the tropics and proof that
their own 1917 revolution remained attractive to others.

But trade between the two nations is moderate at best, reaching a mere
$272 million in 2012 and making Russia just Cuba's 10th largest
commercial partner. Cuba, mired in economic stagnation, cannot afford to
increase its imports without credits.

Militarily, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has repeatedly said he plans
refueling bases in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Yet most experts
believe that while Russian warships and long-range bombers can
occasionally "fly the flag" in the region, Moscow is too weak militarily
to project real power.

Politically, however, the warming Cuba-Russia alliance appears to be a
Putin signal of defiance in the face of opposition by the Obama
Administration, European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) to his seizure of Crimea and support for pro-Russian fighters in
eastern Ukraine.

Andy Gomez, a retired Cuba specialist at the University of Miami and now
senior policy adviser for the Washington law firm Poblete Tamargo said
Putin's is plainly thumbing his nose at Washington with his Cuba
rapprochement.

"Putin believes that U.S. foreign policy is now at probably its weakest
point in 10 to 15 years," Gomez said. "He has realized that he can get
away with anything, that he can tell the Americans 'We're back in the
region, and what are you going to do about it?' "

Carl Meacham, head of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, said Putin's visit to Cuba more broadly
signaled "that if the United States and NATO pushes in on Ukraine,
Russia can push in on Cuba."

Source: Russia-Cuba love affair on again - Cuba - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/19/4244706/russia-cuba-love-affair-on-again.html Continue reading
Trade, politics, culture and history are leading to warmer relations between the Cold War allies. Continue reading
Russia and Cuba are now back together. Vladimir Putin recently visited the country accompanied by his oil chief, Rosneft President Igor Sechin. Despite the United States' 52-year trade embargo on Cuba, Continue reading
An Inexplicable Explanation / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on July 17, 2014

Customs restricts imports even more

Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14ymedio | 14 July 2014 – On the occasion of
the latest customs regulations that further limit the products that
travelers can bring to the island, a group of officials from the General
Customs of the Republic of Cuba (AGR) held a press conference to respond
to some concerns of the population. Among the pearls exposed there, it's
worth nothing an argument put forward by Idalmis Rosales Milanes, deputy
chief of the AGR, where she tried to equate these actions with what
happens outside of Cuba. "All countries," she said, "regulate
non-commercial imports to their territory."

And it's true. What this official didn't say is that in all countries
there are other regulations for commercial imports to non-state
entities. If this weren't the case, I would have to believe two things:
that in the rest of the world all the stores are state-owned, or that
the goods for sale in them are produced entirely in the country in which
they are located. It gives the impression that this precision is for
idiots, because it's so irrational it's embarrassing to have to clarify it.

The absurdity is normal only if the entire environment is also absurd.
Whoever developed and approved these resolutions was personally
persuaded that commerce is a crime unless it is performed by the only
state monopoly that they themselves control.

Instead of developing a list detailing how many razors, pairs of shoes
or fake nails can be carried in your suitcase, it would be much more
useful to allow the importation and sale of whatever merchandise
(non-lethal) is produced in the world, and to promote its free trade by
private individuals who would be those who would assume the risk of
being left with them in their shops if they weren't able to sell them.

The law should allow the owner of a restaurant to import, in his
condition as a private businessperson, the wine, pasta and cheese
consumed by his customers. The seamstress should also have the right to
bring fabric and dyes from other countries with which she designs her
clothes, and the small trader must be able to count on the possibility
of bringing the instant glue, the sponges for cleaning, and the hair
dye, from other latitudes to the island. All this, backed and supported
by commercial permits and import licenses… in the hand of the non-state
sector.

That theses commercial imports are on a list of prohibited products,
that there is a limit of the number of admissible pieces, that a
diversified tax is imposed according to the article… all this would be
almost comprehensible and, especially, debatable. What I can't make
heads nor tails of is this "dog in the manger" conduct, which neither
eats nor allows others to eat, and in this case neither imports nor
allow to be imported; neither trades, nor allows others to trade.

Source: An Inexplicable Explanation / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar |
Translating Cuba -
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20 years ago Latin American people wondered whether Chinese men still wore pigtails; today China has become their second largest trade partner. [Special coverage] Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived Continue reading
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Customs restricts imports even more Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14ymedio | 14 July 2014 – On the occasion of the latest customs regulations that further limit the products that travelers can bring to the island, a group of officials from the General Customs … Continue reading Continue reading
None of our leaders spent their exile in Cuba so it is always odd to hear it praised by some mainstream politicians or, more usually, by our trade union leaders, and those chaps in red overalls. Before Continue reading
Often the resolutions of the United Nations’ Committees are worthy of laughter.  So it happens with the recent resolution by the Decolonization Committee, ratifying the right of Puerto Rico to self-determination. The initiative was presented by Cuba, with the sponsorship … Continue reading Continue reading
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By By Peter J. Marzalik Amid deteriorating relations with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to diversify a Russian economy that is tightly linked to European markets. Fittingly, Continue reading
Vladimir Putin recently signed many agreements with President Raul Castro, which furthered his commitment to sustain the current trade policies in Cuba. Last Friday Vladimir Putin, Russia's fourth president Continue reading