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Trade

The Post called for the United States to maintain its trade embargo until the Cuban regime "grants genuine freedom to its people" [" Truth and freedom in Cuba ," editorial, Oct. 21]. But trade is not Continue reading
Cuba's black market thrives
AAP

From foreign DVDs to perfume, rum and coffee, Cuba's shelves are packed
with pirated and counterfeit goods, which are sold as authorities turn a
blind eye -- using the longstanding US embargo as justification.
The more than 50-year US trade freeze with communist-ruled Havana has
bred a healthy appetite for smuggled goods, including TV series, films,
music and software -- all available at a low cost.
"Here, everything costs one CUC," the Cuban convertible peso equivalent
to one US dollar, explains 28-year-old vendor Jorge, standing before
three bookcases packed with CDs and DVDs.
In southern Havana's October 10 neighbourhood, where Jorge peddles his
wares, pirated DVDs featuring current American blockbuster films,
children's movies and Latin music are all on sale to delighted crowds.
For Jorge, the cost of doing business is affordable. For 60 Cuban pesos
($A2.59) a month, he can buy a vendor's licence to sell his goods.
He is one of half a million Cubans who work in the 200 or so independent
jobs authorised under President Raul Castro's economic reforms.
Though buying and selling pirated goods is technically illegal in Cuba,
the trade is widely known and mostly tolerated, even by the Committee
for the Defence of the Revolution officers who rarely punish vendors.
"I pay for my licence on time and no one interferes with my work," said
Jorge, who declined to give his full name.
Like many other merchants, Jorge's stock extends far beyond
entertainment DVDs. He also sells "packages," which feature hundreds of
megabytes of data obtained weekly from overseas sources.
The bundles include television series, sports programs, films,
anti-virus software and up-to-date listings from the banned classified
sites "Revolico" and "Porlalivre".
The online classified listings, which are officially banned in Cuba,
offer interested buyers anything from air conditioners to black market
tyres, and even empty perfume bottles to be secretly refilled in
off-the-grid factories.
With the help of complicit employees, some of the black market
fragrances and other items even find their way to the shelves of
government-owned stores.
Every so often, the heavily-censored state-run media report on police
busting illegal rings producing fake perfume, rum, beer, coffee or
toiletries -- items rarely found in supermarket aisles -- but
authorities mostly ignore the contraband sales.
Authorities struggle to contain this Cuban "tradition," which emerged
during the dark days of severe shortages in the early 1990s following
the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of Cuba's staunchest Cold War-era
allies.
"The new situation in the 1990s was so sudden, so violent, so
unexpected... that people started, with the only means they had, to find
ways to fulfill their needs," said sociologist Mayra Espina in the
online newspaper Cuba Contemporanea.
"Certain activities, previously deemed unacceptable or socially
negative, started to become legitimate."
This time of shortages bred a social phenomenon called "la lucha," or
"the struggle," which has seen Cubans do whatever is necessary to tackle
the island nation's social and economic malaise, Espina said.
Pirated programs have also crept into the state's sphere, with public
media and government-owned cinemas running illegally-obtained shows and
films.
Some television networks lacking their own means to produce original
programming have "resorted for years to carrying shows from American
channels without paying for the rights," Cuban TV director Juan Pin
Vilar told AFP.
Indeed, this is one of the fringe benefits of the US embargo -- the
Cuban TV channels and cinemas could act with virtual impunity, as legal
repercussions were unlikely.
"There is a kind of tactical willingness (in the US) not to bother Cuba
because culture... is a very effective means of communication," said
Jorge de Armas, a member of a group of Cuban exiles calling for a
rapprochement with Washington.
But the flip side, according to Vilar, is that certain stations in Miami
-- home to most of the Cuban diaspora -- air Cuban programs to satisfy
their viewers, nostalgic for home.
On Miami's "Calle Ocho," or 8th Street, in the heart of Little Havana,
the Maraka shop sells pirated music, films and television programs
brought in from Cuba.
On the other side of the Florida Straits, the international Cuban
television network Cubavision offers its signal to satellite suppliers
around the world.
The idea, said one Cubavision executive, is "to spread our image".

Source: Cuba's black market thrives - Yahoo7 Finance Australia -
https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/cubas-black-market-thrives-030111009.html Continue reading
There's an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic considerations could influence Raúl Castro's policy decisions and Continue reading
The Cuban government will submit a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Oct 28 to end an economic, financial and trade embargo the US has imposed on it. The embargo is one of the most ... Continue reading
HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) -- The vice-president of Habanos SA international corporation, Jorge Luis Fernandez, said in Havana that if the US trade restrictions were lifted, Americans could make up the main market Continue reading
Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its people
By Editorial Board October 20 at 7:56 PM

THE OTHER day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba's state-run
newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He
lavished praise on an editorial in the New York Times that called for an
end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint:
The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the
still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo
Payá, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.

The assertion that Cuba's authoritarian government had yet to explain
the deaths was "slanderous and [a] cheap accusation," Mr. Castro sputtered.

So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still
lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long
past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what
happened on an isolated Cuban road on July 22, 2012. So far, there has
been only a crude attempt at cover-up and denial.

We know something about what happened, thanks to the eyewitness account
of Ángel Carromero, the young Spanish politician who was at the wheel of
the rental car that was carrying Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero to a meeting
with supporters. Mr. Carromero, who visited Washington last week, told
us the car was being shadowed by Cuban state security from the moment it
left Havana. He said his conversations with Mr. Payá as they traveled
were mostly about the Varela Project, Mr. Payá's courageous 2002
petition drive seeking to guarantee democracy in Cuba. Many of Mr.
Payá's supporters in the project were later arrested and imprisoned.

After the wreck, Mr. Carromero was pressured by the Cuban authorities to
describe it as an accident caused by his reckless speeding. But he
reiterated to us last week that what really happened is that the rental
car was rammed from behind by a vehicle bearing state license plates.
Mr. Carromero showed us photographs of the damaged car, damage that
seemed inconsistent with a wreck caused by speeding. But the precise
details of what happened are unknown and need to be cleared up by a
credible investigation. Mr. Payá's family has sought one for two years,
without success. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of
the Organization of American States sent a query to Cuba about the case,
they got no answer. Nothing.

The U.S. embargo has been substantially relaxed in recent years to allow
hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine exports, in
addition to consumer goods supplied to Cubans by relatives in this
country. The question is whether a further relaxation is merited. The
regime's persecution of dissidents is unceasing; it continues to
imprison American Alan Gross on false charges. While Cuba has toyed with
economic liberalization and lifted travel restrictions for some, we see
no sign that the Castro brothers are loosening their grip. Fully lifting
the embargo now would reward and ratify their intransigence.

A concession such as ending the trade embargo should not be exchanged
for nothing. It should be made when Cuba grants genuine freedom to its
people, the goal cherished by Mr. Payá.

Source: Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its people -
The Washington Post -
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cuba-should-not-be-rewarded-for-denying-freedom-to-its-people/2014/10/20/753b7bd8-588f-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html Continue reading
To stop invasive lionfish, divers are helping sharks acquire a taste for them
Darryl Fears, Washington Post | October 20, 2014 2:20 PM ET

In the war against invasive lionfish, Andres Jimenez took up one of the
oldest weapons used by humans: the spear.

Jimenez thought this was a novel approach to help rid the Caribbean
Ocean of a growing menace. He skewers the colorful fish into a kabob,
swims to coral in a marine sanctuary off the coast of Cuba and holds it
bleeding and squirming under the jaws of reef sharks.

The idea is to get sharks to develop a taste for a fish they are not
accustomed to eating. That's right, Jimenez, who co-manages a dive
operation in the Gardens of the Queen National Marine Park, is trying to
teach one of the Caribbean's biggest predators to eat a new type of fish.

The lionfish is an exotic glutton that eats everything it can stuff in
its mouth, and the fish are destroying life on the coral reef. Native to
the Pacific Ocean, the fish were widely traded for their looks and were
first spotted near Miami in the mid-1980s before proliferating in the
Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Caribbean near the turn of the century.

They have been called the Norway rats of the Atlantic and Caribbean
because they are voracious eaters that wolf down scores of reef animals
from Florida to Mexico and Venezuela but have no predator in those waters.

Spoon-feeding sharks, as Jimenez has done in recent weeks, is the latest
desperate attempt to restore the balance of an ecosystem that humans
threw out of whack.

Reef sharks are thought to be one of a few animals that can choke down a
lionfish. To avoid the toxic spikes on its back and tail fin, said
Antonio Busiello, they eat the fish starting at its mouth.

Busiello, a photography documentarian in Florence said he watched that
happen while diving in Honduras with park officials who speared lionfish
and fed them to reef sharks in 2010. His website is full of pictures
depicting the action.

But marine ecologist Serena Hackerott and her colleagues at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said feeding lionfish to
sharks is crazy. Sharks "are going to associate divers with food," she said.

In a test of 71 ocean sites — in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Cuba and the
Bahamas — UNC researchers found nothing to show that lionfish are shark
bait, according to a paper published last year in the journal PLOS One.

"I've been a diver for more than 10 years and have never felt threatened
by a shark," Hackerott wrote in a recent blog post. "I might not feel so
comfortable, though, if sharks began to expect snacks every time I enter
the water."

It's a justifiable fear that often plays out at the sanctuary, Jimenez
said. In an email from Cuba, he wrote that "sharks don't seem to be
hunting for lionfish naturally, but they are really mad for dead or
injured lionfish, and they get used to being fed lionfish by divers.
They learn fast and improve ways to get that lionfish once the diver
captures it."

When Jimenez dives with groups of divers and photographers, the
sight-seeing can become tense and dangerous.

For example, he wrote, "An injured lionfish escapes the sharks and then
the sharks get really mad. They start looking for the prey everywhere,
and in this quest they . . . sometimes hit divers with the nose, or can
even try to bite the spear, the rocks where the lionfish is hiding, or
the cameras. Then the situation sometimes gets out of control."

I might not feel so comfortable, though, if sharks began to expect
snacks every time I enter the water
Busiello could testify to this behavior. When he traveled to Roatan
Marine Park in Honduras four years ago to see thousands of grouper in a
mating ritual and "missed the moment," he wound up diving to watch
lionfish get fed to the park's 22 gray reef sharks.

The sharks came close — 15 inches from his camera. "I got bumped a
couple of times. They hit me on the side," Busiello said. "A big shark,
a six- to seven-foot shark hits you, you feel it."

Somehow the recommended approach to reducing lionfish was twisted
around, Hackerott said: They should be overfished for human consumption,
not reef sharks. The pretty fish is poisonous, but when a chef rips out
its spine and cooks it, lionfish are delicious.

There's no witness to an instance of someone releasing lionfish into the
waters in Florida, but that's the largely agreed upon working theory for
how they ended up there.

This sort of thing keeps happening in the United States, the second
largest market for the legal trade of wildlife. Florida in particular is
overrun with Burmese pythons, tegu lizards from South America and Cuban
tree frogs to name only a few invasive animals.

The Chesapeake Bay region is fighting the aggressive Asian northern
snakehead fish that eats native fish, and efforts to harvest it from
rivers have done little to stop it. Asian carp that spread from Arkansas
to the Great Lakes region and Louisiana have out-muscled native fish for
food, leaving many to starve.

The voracious appetite of lionfish is why divers and marine biologists
want to eliminate them, but feeding them to sharks is a scary task,
Jimenez said. "I am [spearing them] very seldom, as it gets dangerous,"
he said. "You can't do it in all spots, only in places with small shark
populations."

Teaching sharks to eat lionfish "is a double-edged sword," said Ian
Drysdale, the Honduras coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative.
"You don't want to relate human divers with shark feed. It can get out
of hand."

Source: To stop invasive lionfish, divers are helping sharks acquire a
taste for them | National Post -
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/20/to-stop-invasive-lion%ef%ac%81sh-divers-are-helping-sharks-acquire-a-taste-for-them/ Continue reading
Florida Aquarium leaders visit Cuba
By Paul Guzzo | Tribune Staff
Published: October 20, 2014

TAMPA — Leaders from Tampa's Florida Aquarium visited Cuba over the
weekend to discuss a possible partnership with the island nation's
National Aquarium in Havana.

No official agreement was signed but those representing The Florida
Aquarium on the trip believe that day is coming.

It would mark the first time such a deal is struck between Cuban and
U.S. aquariums since the U.S. travel and trade embargo was imposed over
five decades ago.

"The trips and the talks exceeded my expectations," said Margo McKnight,
vice president of biological resources at the Florida Aquarium. "We
spent a lot of time sharing information with their aquarium's officials
and agreed that working together makes sense. Now we need to talk it
over with the overall leadership at The Florida Aquarium and move from
there."

A return trip to Cuba has not been planned. Nor has bringing officials
from the National Aquarium of Cuba to Tampa.

While the two sides discussed a variety of ways they could collaborate,
McKnight said, the primary focus was on coral reef restoration research.

Scientists predict that by 2050, all the world's coral reefs will be
threatened by pollution and changes in water temperature. Florida's
coral reefs already are dying at an alarming rate, McKnight said.

Coral reefs protect coasts by reducing wave energy from storms and
hurricanes. And as home to more than 4,000 species of fish and countless
species of plants, some support up to 25 percent of all known marine life.

The Florida Aquarium, McKnight said, is actively searching for ways to
reverse the decline.

Cuba, she added, has the most pristine coral reef in the world — one yet
to feel the effects of the changing marine environment.

Called "Gardens of the Queen," the reef is in southern waters off the
provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila.

"Just 90 miles off Florida's coast is a look back into time at what a
reef should be like," McKnight said. "We want to study it to understand
why its ecosystem is so healthy and learn if we can extract any lessons
from it that we can apply."

Under the preliminary talks, the Florida Aquarium would get access to
the Gardens of the Queen. In return, the Florida Aquarium would keep the
National Aquarium of Cuba up-to-date in its research on restoring coral
reefs.

"This would be their way of proactively protecting their reefs,"
McKnight said. "They don't have a problem now but they want to be
prepared in case it is threatened in the future."

McKnight was unsure if this would be the first collaboration between a
U.S. and Cuban aquarium since the embargo was put in place. But last
week, Jeffrey Boutwell, board member with the Latin America Working
Group Education Fund in Washington, D.C., told the Tribune it would be.

Boutwell's organization carries on the work of author Ernest Hemingway
on a shared U.S.-Cuba approach to maritime resources. He recently met
with the National Aquarium of Cuba to discuss such collaboration with
the National Aquarium in Baltimore. He has no connection to The Florida
Aquarium or the delegation that traveled to Cuba.

Tampa has been part of a historic maritime alliance between the U.S. and
Cuba before.

In March, an international oil spill agreement was signed by five
nations with Caribbean shorelines — Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the
United States and Cuba. The agreement circumvents the U.S. travel and
trade embargo, which would have slowed the process of sharing resources
to clean up a spill in Cuban waters that could reach Florida shores.

Albert A. Fox Jr., founder of the Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible
Cuba Policy Foundation, introduced U.S. oil and environmental leaders
from the private sector to members of the Cuban government in 2010.
These people later successfully lobbied the U.S. government to work with
Cuba on the cleanup and containment protocol.

In a similar way, David Guggenheim, director of the Washington,
D.C.-based Cuba Conservatory, said he believes a partnership between the
two aquariums could help persuade the U.S. government to support
collaborative research on coral reefs between U.S. and Cuban scientists.

"If enough research partnerships are happening between private U.S.
organizations and the Cuban government, the U.S. government may take
notice and get involved sooner," Guggenheim said.

Guggenheim helped establish the Tri-National Workshops — meetings
between researchers from the U.S., Cuba and Mexico on issues affecting
turtles, sharks, dolphins, fisheries, coral reefs and protected marine
areas.

Sarasota-based Mote Marine Laboratory is among the private research
institutes that regularly attends the annual meetings, held since 2007.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has sent
representatives to observe the meetings, Guggenheim said, while Mexico
and Cuba send government representatives who actively participate.

Guggenheim said he is talking to members of the U.S. State Department
about increasing federal involvement.

He welcomed news of talks between the two aquariums.

"Collaborations like that one could kick what we are doing to a new level."

The future of the marine ecosystem shared by Cuba and Florida depends
upon college students from both nations studying the waters without
concern for politics, Guggenheim said.

"Marine life does not know borders," he said. "The students need to be
trained as leaders who work together. Ultimately, they will inherit this
issue."

The Florida Aquarium has an internship program, but it is too early to
discuss sending those students to Cuba, McKnight said.

If that day does arrive, it may be the only opportunity for students
from the University of South Florida to study Cuban waters.

Under Florida law, money that flows through a state university cannot be
used for travel to a nation on the U.S. list of state sponsors of
terrorism. Cuba is on that list.

"I realize nothing is ever easy to do between these two countries,"
McKnight said.

"But ultimately I think everyone will agree this is not about politics
but about doing what is best for the environment. Cuba offers us an
amazing opportunity for our research here."

pguzzo@tampatrib.com

Source: Florida Aquarium leaders visit Cuba | TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune
and The Tampa Times -
http://tbo.com/news/business/aquarium-leaders-visit-cuba-20141020/ Continue reading
Details Written by PL Category: Cuba Published: 20 October 2014 Hits: 38 Havana.- Cuban President Raul Castro closed the Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance - Trade Continue reading
20 de octubre de 2014, 14:30 Havana, Oct 20 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Raul Castro closed the Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance - Trade Treaty of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) Continue reading
20 de octubre de 2014, 14:23Havana, Oct 20 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz inaugurated here the Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and the Trade Continue reading
… . Pak signed the agreement with Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister … the Trade Ministry building in Havana. “The signing of these agreements … relations and friendship,” Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde said. Cuba and the DPRK … of a ship carrying obsolete Cuban weapons to North Korea in … Continue reading
… blockade of Cuba, which began on October 19, 1960. Havana has estimated … aimed to destroy the Cuban economy. Washington canceled Cuba’s sugar quota … through Cuba; the export of US goods to Cuba; trade between Cuban companies … companies in Cuba. Since then, Cuban Americans who have relatives in Cuba can … Continue reading
US-Cuba Relations and the Internal Blockade
October 18, 2014
The fundamental question that those of us interested in the wellbeing of
the Cuban people should ask ourselves is: how will such measures affect
Cuba's internal blockade.
Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES — A New York Times editorial published on October 12 urges
President Obama to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba –
something that is beyond the scope of the embargo provisions and which
falls within his presidential prerogatives – with a view to improving
international relations with Latin America and setting in motion new
forms of interaction with the island and its internal situation.

The US embargo (which some call a blockade) has thus become the center
of all debates about Cuba's problems once again, when many of us know
that the main blockade, the one we need to lift once and for all so that
the Cuban people and economy will be able to improve their lot, is the
internal blockade, the one imposed by the Party-State on its citizens
and which thwarts the development of their economic, political and
social initiatives.

The fundamental question that those of us interested in the wellbeing of
the Cuban people should ask ourselves is: how will such measures affect
this internal blockade which is ultimately what keeps Cuba in chains
(not the other, the external one, something which those who insist in
maintaining the trade embargo agree on)?

Raul Castro's reform process does not suffice to eliminate the internal
blockade we Cubans are subjected to. Its extension and progress, without
current obstacles, could however gradually lead to its dismantling and
ultimate elimination. Its stagnation and ultimate neutralization by
conservative forces within the Castro government would indeed be the
worst thing that could happen to Cuban society today.

US policy does not determine but does have an impact on the correlation
between the forces at play within the governing elite and, generally
speaking, within the Party-government and Cuban society as a whole, as
well as among those who support the deepening and broadening (to varying
degrees) of the so-called "updating of Cuba's economic and social model"
and those who merely aspire to maintain only the semblance of this
process to keep the old, hyper-centralized system in place.

Between the Two Castros

It is no secret that there exists a kind of "friendly" arm-wrestle – a
permanent conflict arising from disagreements between Cuba's historical
leader, Fidel, and his brother, the army general Raul – as to the form
and content Cuba's domestic and foreign policy and the structure of the
country's economy.

It is easy to demonstrate that the first speeches pronounced by Raul
Castro after he took office and the spirit of renewal of the "reform
process" have not been adequately embodied by the application and the
results of the policies implemented.

The most visible cause of this is Fidel Castro's gradual recovery and
his attempts at taking back the limelight.

The evidence for this are his "reflections", his continuous public and
media appearances, where he is seen receiving foreign personalities, and
in the systematic praise for his thoughts and figure in the
Party-controlled press – so frequent that they outnumber Raul's public
appearances and speeches, even after Fidel "retired and asked not to be
called 'Commander in Chief' any longer."

Are we expected to forget Raul Castro's "glass of milk" speech and the
suppression of his remarks by Granma, as well as everything that entailed?

Raul may have replaced the members of Fidel's administration, but the
traditional Fidelistas still remain within the Party leadership,
particularly in the Party Secretariat, headed by Machado Ventura, the
man in charge of all the Party's concrete activities, the appointment
and dismissal of cadres, propaganda and others.

This is the main Party structure responsible for keeping the positions
of the "historical leader" alive. The second-in-command within the
government, Diaz Canel, is not the second-in-command within the Party,
Machado is.

The authority of these Party structures, at the top of the ladder, next
to Fidel, but beneath Raul, was evident in the debates during the 6th
Party Congress, which were manipulated by Party bureaucrats against
calls for a free and democratic debate at the base level.

The general, Fidel's brother, who knows Fidel better than anyone and was
appointed by him, has had to govern in his shadow, with that particular
handicap, caught between advancing his "reforms" and avoiding a
confrontation with the leader – hence his increasing moderation and
fewer and fewer public appearances.

Raul has been clear in his intentions of a rapprochement with the United
States, while his brother, now recovering, does not miss an opportunity
to try and distance himself from them as much as possible.

This, which could also be interpreted as the "good cop, bad cop"
routine, could have served to achieve such a rapprochement if only it
had been adequately encouraged, if Washington had been more consistent
in its first appraisal of what Raul Castro's ascent to power meant.

It is therefore worthwhile to recall that, at the time, the United
States demonstrated much interest and willingness to work with him and
his military officers, and rumors were even leaked to the effect that
Washington was convinced the tough hand of the military and their
"reforms" would prevent future migratory avalanches, the main concern
weighing on US-Cuba relations.

However, the United States did not take any significant steps to help
the Raul Castro government in its reform plans, steps that could have
strengthened the General's position in the Cuban government's internal
correlation of forces.

More effective support and the lifting of other important sanctions
stemming from the blockade-embargo could have tilted the internal
balance of power in favor of Raul's reformers and allowed them to
develop their "updating process" better – and, eventually, other
democratic "reforms" that could have entailed deeper changes in the
mid-term.

It's possible the United States considered that the transfer of power
was merely nominal and that "only the television had been handed over,
without the remote control."

Today, we bear witness to how Cuba's critical economic situation, caused
by the limitations of the "reform process" and its inability to overcome
the stagnation produced by the near-absolutist model that was in place
for nearly fifty years, is prompting a mass exodus of Cubans towards the
United States through all imaginable routes.

The proposals now advanced by the New York Times may be coming a little
too late, but, as they say, "better late than never."

Should they yield results, they would have the immediate effect of
easing tensions between the two governments and, without a doubt, many
of those desperate to leave for the United States might consider that it
is more advisable to stay a little longer, to see the concrete results
of this rapprochement.

At the same time, it would suggest that the Obama administration is not
chiefly responsible for maintaining the blockade-embargo, but that
Congress is. It could clear the way towards the elimination of the
embargo, inasmuch as it would entail previously removing Cuba from the
list of countries that sponsor terrorism and make other positive
relations between the two countries possible.

Such developments could serve to appease those who blame all of our
misfortunes on imperialist aggression, which is one of the fundamental
pretexts with which the economic disasters of the State-command economy,
the repression of the opposition, the absence of democracy and the lack
of civil and political liberties and rights are justified.

Most importantly, it would imply a measure of US support for Raul
Castro's updating process. The "reformist" current could be thus
revitalized and the complicated balance of forces within the Cuban
government could be tilted in its favor. Raul, in turn, would be unable
to ignore such US gestures and would be forced to act accordingly. One
development would prompt others.

The issue can be approached from many other perspectives. As far as
Cuba's internal situation is concerned, these are the ones I consider
most important.
—–
pedrocampos313@yahoo.es

Source: US-Cuba Relations and the Internal Blockade - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106782 Continue reading
Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea inked two agreements on commercial exchange and payments, at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX) in Havana. Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister Continue reading
From Havana, a Prominent Voice for Change
The Cuban Journalist Miriam Leiva Writes About Relations With the U.S.
OCT. 17, 2014

To the Editor:

Re "The Moment to Restore Ties to Cuba" (editorial, Oct. 12) and "Still
Pondering U.S.-Cuba Relations, Fidel Castro Responds" (Editorial
Observer, by Ernesto Londoño, Oct. 15):

Latin America and the Caribbean require a closer involvement of the
United States, and Cuba has been an obstacle in recent years, when the
leaders of the region promote its inclusion in their organizations and
meetings, such as the Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama in 2015.

President Obama must be there to express the ideals of democracy and
human rights, contribute to solving the most urgent problems and
strengthen ties with neighbors. Russia, China and others are advancing
in Latin America, seeking to displace the United States.

Since the Obama administration started the people-to-people policy in
2009, encouraging exchanges between Americans and Cubans, a lot has
changed. Remittances from relatives and friends help thousands of Cubans
to survive and even open small businesses.

More important, Cubans are feeling empowered by exchanges of views with
Cuban-Americans coming to visit and Americans on cultural, academic,
scientific, religious, sport and trade trips. Cubans who travel to the
United States discover the opportunities offered by democracy and work.

Further steps by President Obama would help the Cuban people, civil
society and dissidents. It is not just a matter of discussing whether to
have an embargo, although the embargo must be lifted, but of making the
appropriate decisions at the right time. The moment is ripe.

Fidel Castro, in citing the New York Times editorial, is delighted to be
back in the headlines and wants the credit in case of a turn in
Cuban-American relations.

MIRIAM LEIVA
Havana, Oct. 16, 2014


The writer, an independent journalist, was a co-founder of Ladies in
White, an opposition group.

Source: The Cuban Journalist Miriam Leiva Writes About Relations With
the U.S. - NYTimes.com -
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/opinion/the-cuban-journalist-miriam-leiva-writes-about-relations-with-the-us.html?_r=0 Continue reading
Vietnam and Cuba signed the minutes of the 32nd meeting of their Inter-Governmental Committee for Economic, Commercial, Scientific and Technological Cooperation in Havana, Cuba, on October 17. The signatories Continue reading
HAVANA, Oct 18 (Bernama) -- Cuba and North Korea have signed … agency reports citing local media. Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment Minister … Korea's ambassador in Havana Pak Chang-yul signed the pacts … the diversification of Cuba's trade exchange. Cuba and North Korea … Continue reading
Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) signed agreements Friday designed to expand bilateral trade ties, state daily Granma reported. The two documents on commercial exchange and commercial Continue reading
Cuba, DPRK sign agreements to expand trade ties Contributed by NAMPA / Xinhua. HAVANA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) signed agreements Friday designed Continue reading
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Oct. 16, CMC - Bermudians are preparing for Hurricane Gonzalo, the strongest storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season in three years, as the system churns towards the island . ... Full Continue reading
Faced with US embargo, Cuba`s black market thrives
Last Updated: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 09:00

Havana: From foreign DVDs to perfume, rum and coffee, Cuba`s shelves are
packed with pirated and counterfeit goods, which are sold as authorities
turn a blind eye -- using the longstanding US embargo as justification.

The more than 50-year US trade freeze with communist-ruled Havana has
bred a healthy appetite for smuggled goods, including TV series, films,
music and software -- all available at a low cost.

"Here, everything costs one CUC," the Cuban convertible peso equivalent
to one dollar, explains 28-year-old vendor Jorge, standing before three
bookcases packed with CDs and DVDs.

In southern Havana`s October 10 neighbourhood, where Jorge peddles his
wares, pirated DVDs featuring current American blockbuster films,
children`s movies and Latin music are all on sale to delighted crowds.

For Jorge, the cost of doing business is affordable. For 60 Cuban pesos
(USD 2.50) a month, he can buy a vendor`s licence to sell his goods.

He is one of half a million Cubans who work in the 200 or so independent
jobs authorised under President Raul Castro`s economic reforms.

Though buying and selling pirated goods is technically illegal in Cuba,
the trade is widely known and mostly tolerated, even by the Committee
for the Defense of the Revolution officers who rarely punish vendors.

"I pay for my license on time and no one interferes with my work," said
Jorge, who declined to give his full name.

Like many other merchants, Jorge`s stock extends far beyond
entertainment DVDs. He also sells "packages," which feature hundreds of
megabytes of data obtained weekly from overseas sources.

The bundles include television series, sports programmes, films,
anti-virus software and up-to-date listings from the banned classified
sites "Revolico" and "Porlalivre". The online classified listings, which
are both officially banned in Cuba, offer interested buyers anything
from air conditioners to black market tires, and even empty perfume
bottles to be secretly refilled in off-the-grid factories.

With the help of complicit employees, some of the black market
fragrances and other items even find their way to the shelves of
government-owned stores.

Every so often, the heavily-censored state-run media report on police
busting illegal rings producing fake perfume, rum, beer, coffee or
toiletries -- items rarely found in supermarket aisles -- but
authorities mostly ignore the contraband sales.

Authorities struggle to contain this Cuban "tradition," which emerged
during the dark days of severe shortages in the early 1990s following
the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of Cuba`s staunchest Cold War-era
allies.

"The new situation in the 1990s was so sudden, so violent, so
unexpected... that people started, with the only means they had, to find
ways to fulfil their needs," said sociologist Mayra Espina in the online
newspaper Cuba Contemporanea.

"Certain activities, previously deemed unacceptable or socially
negative, started to become legitimate."

This time of shortages bred a social phenomenon called "la lucha," or
"the struggle," which has seen Cubans do whatever is necessary to tackle
the island nation`s social and economic malaise, Espina said. Pirated
programs have also crept into the state`s sphere, with public media and
government-owned cinemas running illegally-obtained shows and films.

Some television networks lacking their own means to produce original
programming have "resorted for years to carrying shows from American
channels without paying for the rights," Cuban TV director Juan Pin
Vilar told a news agency.

Indeed, this is one of the fringe benefits of the US embargo -- the
Cuban TV channels and cinemas could act with virtual impunity, as legal
repercussions were unlikely.

"There is a kind of tactical willingness (in the US) not to bother Cuba
because culture... is a very effective means of communication," said
Jorge de Armas, a member of a group of Cuban exiles calling for a
rapprochement with Washington.

But the flip side, according to Vilar, is that certain stations in Miami
-- home to most of the Cuban Diaspora -- air Cuban programs to satisfy
their viewers, nostalgic for home.

On Miami`s "Calle Ocho," or 8th Street, in the heart of Little Havana,
the Maraka shop sells pirated music, films and television programs
brought in from Cuba.

On the other side of the Florida Straits, the international Cuban
television network Cubavision offers its signal to satellite suppliers
around the world.

The idea, said one Cubavision executive, is "to spread our image."

AFP

Source: Faced with US embargo, Cuba`s black market thrives | Zee News -
http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/faced-with-us-embargo-cubas-black-market-thrives_1485936.html Continue reading
Media Bootlegging Businesses Booming in Cuba as the Nation Slowly Opens
12:11 17/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - In the four years since the easing of
trade regulations in Cuba, the island nation has seen a huge boom in the
amount of illegal goods and media flowing into the country and while the
government could take steps to crack down on the illegal products, so
far they have left this burgeoning grey market alone, thus allowing a
flood of western media to spread among its people.
Most Cubans regularly purchase what is called the weekly "package",
which includes a variety of current TV series, films and Internet
publications, as well as magazine articles in PDF format, the Gulf Times
report. The "package" is distributed via a chain network, and the
selective content can be home-delivered. "The hard-drive disk is taken
to the distributor, and the distributor then does his or her business,"
says Isbel Diaz, a computer expert in Cuba, who is involved in the
underground trade. It is as it were an "offline Internet" service, Diaz
adds, as quoted by the Gulf Times.
The Cuban black market also includes the illicit distribution of fake
perfume, rum, beer, coffee and hygiene products. The vendors of these
products have trouble with the law more often, however, this segment of
trade is becoming increasingly acceptable. "Certain activities,
previously deemed unacceptable or socially negative, started to become
legitimate", says sociologist Maria Espina as quoted by AsiaOne. This
is, in her opinion, a natural way for the people to satisfy their needs
in the absence of genuine consumer market mechanisms.
Most Cubans can't access the Internet, as private households are not
allowed to; also people can only listen to radio and watch TV approved
by the government. This informative isolation has rendered the
bootlegging of the US, Mexican and European TV programmes a profitable
business. A flash drive can be bought for less than a $1 in Cuba and the
device can be filled with TV shows, movies and recorded broadcasts of
the recent major sporting events for $2 in one of the many private homes
in Havana.
The authorities tolerate the underground trade of foreign video and
audio content is that they see it as a relief for the population,
starved for smuggled goods like TV series, movies, music and software,
AsiaOne reports. The government is much more sensitive about news media
content, foreign news is controlled and regulated heavily.
In Cuba, only state-affiliated institutions or foreign enterprises have
broadband internet access or satellite TV, therefore "it is very
suspicious that such a large amount of information contained in those
'packages' can be updated on a weekly basis", says Isbel Diaz. Given the
circumstances, it is fair to suggest that distribution of the Internet
content may be sanctioned by the government.
International producers of media content, sold in Cuba, naturally are
not protected under copyright law. Pirated content sometimes is even
shown on official TV, which is "carrying shows from American channels
without paying for the rights", says Cuban TV director Juan Pin Vilar,
as quoted by AFP. Nobody objects on the American side, because "there is
a kind of tactical willingness (in the US) not to bother Cuba because
culture... is a very effective means of communication," says Jorge de
Armas, an influential Cuban exile in Washington as quoted by AFP.

Source: Media Bootlegging Businesses Booming in Cuba as the Nation
Slowly Opens | Analysis & Opinion | RIA Novosti -
http://en.ria.ru/analysis/20141017/194196282/Media-Bootlegging-Businesses-Booming-in-Cuba-as-the-Nation.html Continue reading
. Cuba and Vietnam reiterated their joint willingness to enhance bilateral cooperation in several fields and to consider possible joint investment projects in the ceramic area. Cuban Foreign Trade and Continue reading
Interview with Diario de Cuba Editor Pablo Diaz
October 14, 2014
"You can't do good journalism if you're thinking in terms of Left or Right."
By Yusimi Rodríguez

HAVANA TIMES — Diario de Cuba (DDC) was born at a Starbucks in Madrid in
2009. Its creators, Pablo Diaz (editor in chief) and a group of Cuban
journalists, artists and intellectuals, wanted to develop a forum that
would contribute to public and democratic debates among Cubans, beyond
the issue of human rights.

Pablo Diaz: There were already a lot of projects dealing with the
violation of human rights in Cuba and we wanted to tackle politics,
sports, culture and general opinion. Our goal was to create what a
democratic society would consider a news media, in order to help
reconstruct Cuban society. Those were and continue to be our objectives.
We see the variety and scope of information in Cuba as deficient. The
Castro regime has controlled and manipulated information vigorously. New
technologies are a tool we can use to topple the two pillars that I
believe have sustained Castroism: the destruction of civil society and
the manipulation of information.

Pablo, 44, was born in Cuba and lived in the former German Democratic
Republic for several years, seeing the fall of socialism there. His
father, the Cuban novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker Jesus Diaz,
founded the magazine Encuentro con la Cultura Cubana. Pablo founded and
managed the news portal Cubaencuentro from 2000 to 2009. Interviewing
him has given me the opportunity to learn more about a site that Cuba's
limited Internet access prevents me from accessing regularly (even
though the page isn't blocked by the government), a site that some
describe as right-wing.

HT: Some people in Cuba consider DDC a right-wing site. What is your
opinion about this?

Pablo Diaz: First, I should clarify that I would see nothing wrong with
being right-wing. I believe the world's Left, in general, and the Cuban
Left in particular, has assumed a kind of moral superiority that's
baseless. It would benefit Cuban society to recover a balance between
Left and Right in the future, a cultured Right with proposals for the
nation as a whole. This should not be demonized. All Cubans with
right-wing positions who have suffered repression should be invited to
take part in a broad, public debate in Cuba.

Having said that, I believe that the Left-Right debate is quite an
archaic topic today. In Cuba, it has greater weight than in the rest of
the world because the political panorama there is fairly archaic.
Basically, we take a position on specific situations – sometimes, with
more progressive stances and sometimes with more conservative ones.
Given DDC's position on gay marriage and the rights of the gay and other
communities, its constant concern over racism, social equity and the way
in which Cuba is drifting towards State capitalism, one has to have
fairly misguided notions about what is left-wing and what is right-wing
to classify the site that way. In Castro's Cuba, people make such
classifications on the basis of one's position vis-à-vis the Castro
regime. If that regime is left-wing, then the members of DDC would be
proud right-wing activists.

HT: Would DDC concern itself with racism and the rights of the gay
community if the Cuban government hadn't failed at eliminating the
former and repressed homosexuals?

Pablo: The issue of racism predates the current Cuban government. It is
one of the central issues of the independence struggles, the Cuban
republic and revolution. The Castro government has discontinued social
debates surrounding the issue, it has manipulated it.

HT: Do you recognize no progress in this issue made by the government in
comparison to earlier governments?

Pablo: Must we continue judging the government on the basis of what it
did better or worse than previous regimes more than fifty years ago?
Isn't that enough to evaluate a political phenomenon? The question isn't
what the Castro regime did nor did not do in 1959, but what it is doing
today to eradicate racism in Cuba. If we don't approach the matter this
way, we run the risk of continuing to talk about what happened or didn't
happen in the past, when the old men who are mismanaging the country
today took power.

As for gay rights, this is an issue around the world. The Castro
government repressed homosexuals, but, in other countries where no
expressly repressive policies were in place, homosexuals were denied
many rights for a very long time also. These aren't exclusively
anti-Castro issues. We are concerned about them because they haven't
been solved in our society.

The debate surrounding the Left and Right in Cuba is also determined by
one's position towards the US embargo, towards political alliances in
general. Is Fidel Castro, someone who became an ally of Videla's, the
Argentine dictator, so as to secure his support at the UN, left-wing?
When you deal with a dictatorship like Cuba's, which has dismantled
civil society and weakened the country, making it dependent on foreign
powers, I think that debating about whether his government is left or
right wing is entirely puerile.

HT: Another argument against the claim that DDC is a right-wing page
would be that it publishes left-wing thinkers like Pedro Campos and
Armando Chaguaceda. Do you see a contradiction anywhere? Couldn't that
be a way of giving readers a semblance of plurality, of avoiding the
right-wing label?

Pablo Diaz: DDC has published at least fifty articles with perspectives
that can be classified as left-wing. We recently published an article by
Enrique Herrero, from Cubanow, calling for the lifting of the embargo.
It was completely left-wing. What are Cuba's left-wing publications?
Granma? Any official Cuban media you can think of? The editorials in DDC
are its voice. Could anyone call them right-wing?

HT: Would you publish articles in favor of the Cuban government?

Pablo Diaz: No. It's a totalitarian dictatorship that has separated and
murdered Cubans. It has denied them the right to express themselves, to
organize, to create independent press media. They have all the media and
platforms they could want. Why would we give them part of the limited
space we have as a publication by Cuban émigrés?

HT: You've said that one of the things that places you on the Left or
Right in Cuba is the issue of the blockade, which you call "embargo".
Why? What is DDC's position on this?

Pablo: The word "blockade" is one the many examples of semantic
manipulation perpetrated by the Castro government. A blockade on an
island is physical, an embargo is something else. Cuba can trade with
any country in the world, even with the United States today. DDC's
position is that the ones most interested in discussing the embargo are
those in the Cuban government, for it is a means of avoiding any
discussion about the essence of the Castro regime. Cuba's problem is,
first of all, a problem among Cubans. Castroism has done a good job of
selling people the idea that the main problem is between Cuba and the
United States.

I consider the Cuban government co-responsible for the embargo. It has
had fifty years to get it removed. When it seized US interests without
compensating US citizens, as international law requires, it opted for
confrontation. Have we forgotten the arrogance of our political leaders
about the embargo, when the communist bloc still existed? The Cuban
government has been unable to reach an agreement with all US
administrations that could have negotiated. It has manipulated political
situations in order to maintain the embargo. This was evident with the
Carter administration, the Peruvian Embassy crisis, and during the
Clinton administration. We saw it again with the downing of the Brothers
to the Rescue planes. We're seeing it now with Alan Gross. It's a
political game designed by the leadership to keep Cuban society from
demanding that it assume a quota of responsibility for this disaster.

HT: You saw the fall of East Germany. To what extent do you think we are
from seeing democratic change in Cuba?

Pablo: Quite far. It will require more than getting rid of the Castro
regime, it will take several generations. It requires a cultural,
educational and mental change, learning to respect contradictory
opinions and to debate in a civilized manner. After fifty years of
totalitarianism, Cuban society is ill. Arriving at a democracy worthy of
that name will be very difficult. Every day the Castros remain in power
makes the process more difficult and slower.

HT: Raul Castro promised to step down in 2018 and not to run for
president again.

Pablo: When the time comes, he could say something else. In a
totalitarian regime, where the entire press is under government control
and civil society is repressed, I don't have any reason to believe in
this sudden democratic gesture. He could step down and place one of his
straw-men in office and retain power this way. A change in president
does not mean democracy. Democracy also requires freedom of expression,
of association, of the press, it means that politicians must serve the
people.

HT: In a more democratic context, what would DDC's aims be?

Pablo Diaz: To contribute to consolidating democracy, governability and
social reconstruction. One of the tasks of the press is to promote civic
debate.

HT: In that context, would DDC hire journalists that have worked in
official Cuban newspapers?

Pablo Diaz: What's important is the quality of the journalistic work.
Journalists who've worked in official Cuban media have already
contributed to DDC. I would not feel comfortable with journalists who
have been political spokespeople in totalitarian media, but, as for
professionals who have believed in their work without intentionally
contributing to repression, why not? The other important thing is for
their journalistic instincts to be intact. In northern Africa, you see
official journalists unable to do any other kind of journalism, after
years of being gagged back home.

HT: Cuba's official media often question the financing of alternative
projects. Where does DDC get its funding?

Pablo Diaz: They should be ashamed to raise such questions, given the
fact that their economic management has been pathetic as a whole. The
notion that money is evil, promoted by Castroism, must be eliminated in
Cuba. DDC secures more and more money through publicity and uses it to
cover its investments on a monthly basis. We also receive funding from
private entrepreneurs, Cuban and not, and public funds from the United
States and Spain.

HT: You admit you receive funding from the United States?

Pablo Diaz: They're public funds made available through competitions
whose results are published on the web. There's nothing secret about it.

HT: ¿Those who finance DDC don't decide the publication's interests or
what people write?

Pablo Diaz: I've noticed what little people in Cuba, and you, know about
what financial support for a publication means, and what its editorial
staff does, but that's to be expected after fifty years of
totalitarianism. For those who offer a publication public or private
funds to have an influence on its content, according to the Cuban
government, all of those people and organizations would need to have the
same interests. It would be unheard-of. The day one of the many and
different sources of funding tries to impose conditions on us, we would
no longer accept their support. That is how things work in the
democratic world. The Cuban government receives support from Spanish, US
and other foundations, but it continues to instill its population with
totally aberrant notions.

The issue of interests within the media should also be tackled without
prejudices. We do have an interest. Our agenda consists in going at the
jugular of the Castro regime.

HT: Doesn't that get in the way of rigorous journalism?

Pablo Diaz: Castroism means the absence of democracy, of freedom of the
press, association and expression. Castroism is an obscenity.

HT: How do you explain the fact that the DDC website isn't blocked in
Cuba, while Cubaencuentro and Cubanet are?

Pablo Diaz: DDC was created after those two, one of which I founded and
edited. It was created at a time in which the ideological battle being
waged by the Castro government has eased up considerably. You mentioned
this morning that they have admitted Cuba's future will not be one of
equity. Another reason could be that the points of view expressed by DDC
on a daily basis are far more complex than those offered in other media.
They address the opposition, but they also address the different
currents within the Cuban leadership. At any rate, we would have to ask
the censors that question. It makes less sense to censor a webpage
today, because we have social networks.

HT: Diario de Cuba is the most widely-read site about Cuba today.
Currently, it also operates a radio station, DDC-Radio, which airs a
weekly program called Cubakustica FM. What do you attribute its success to?

Pablo Diaz: To the tireless efforts the staff and contributors have been
making for five years, and to our editorial policy.

HT: Would you like to add anything?

Pablo Diaz: I would clarify other things if this was a different kind of
project, but a press publication speaks for itself. I invite people to
read it and to think about labels. You can't do good journalism if
you're thinking in terms of Left or Right.

Source: Interview with Diario de Cuba Editor Pablo Diaz - Havana
Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106723 Continue reading
HAVANA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cuba and Vietnam on Wednesday signed an agreement to boost cooperation in various areas, local media reported. Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca Continue reading
Active Citizens , Civil Society , Conferences , Cooperatives , Democracy , Development & Aid , Economy & Trade , Headlines , Human Rights , Labour , Population , Poverty & MDGs , Religion Passengers Continue reading
Havana, October 15 (RHC) -- From a standpoint of satire and humor, Cuban cartoonists skewered the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba for over half a century. Continue reading
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, said in Moscow that representatives of the European Union (EU) violate the principles of free trade by trying to limit the links of Latin American countries Continue reading
Fidel: N.Y. Times call to end Cuba embargo reflects U.S. interests
Published October 14, 2014 EFE

Last weekend's editorial in The New York Times calling for an end to
Washington's economic embargo against Cuba was spurred by a quest for
"the greatest benefit" to U.S. policy in difficult times, Fidel Castro
said in an article published Tuesday.

The 88-year-old Cuban leader cited long excerpts of the Times editorial
in his piece, disseminated by official media.

"Scanning a map of the world must give President Obama a sinking feeling
as he contemplates the dismal state of troubled bilateral relationships
his administration has sought to turn around. He would be smart to take
a hard look at Cuba, where a major policy shift could yield a
significant foreign policy success," the U.S. daily's Editorial Board wrote.

"For the first time in more than 50 years, shifting politics in the
United States and changing policies in Cuba make it politically feasible
to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless
embargo," the Times said.

The editorial, according to Castro, pursues "the greatest benefit for
U.S. policy in the difficult situation, when political, economic,
financial and trade problems are growing."

Fidel, who handed over power to younger brother Raul Castro in 2006
after falling gravely ill, recalled Times reporter Herbert Matthews, who
traveled to Cuba's Sierra Maestra Mountains in the late 1950s to
interview Castro during the fight that would eventually topple dictator
Fulgencio Batista.

Castro was not entirely happy with the editorial, describing as
slanderous and "gratuitous" the Times' observation that Cuba's
"authoritarian government still harasses and detains dissidents."

He took heart, however, from the newspaper's characterization of Cuba as
"one of the most educated societies in the hemisphere."

"That is true acknowledgment," Castro said.

The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, not long
after the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power. Washington went
on to impose a comprehensive economic embargo in late 1962.

The two countries established interests sections in each other's
capitals in 1977.

EFE

Source: Fidel: N.Y. Times call to end Cuba embargo reflects U.S.
interests | Fox News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/10/14/fidel-ny-times-call-to-end-cuba-embargo-reflects-us-interests/ Continue reading
Cuba Gooding Jr. has little time … Continue reading
Welcome to an offseason edition of the Red Sox Inbox. These run on a weekly basis until Spring Training. There is certainly a lot to talk about this winter. Just wondering if -- it's a big if, mind Continue reading
No Legitimacy for Cuba's Dictators
Frank Calzon is the executive director of the Washington-based Center
for a Free Cuba.
OCTOBER 12, 2014

There is no useful purpose served by legitimizing the Castros' communist
dictatorship in Cuba and giving it an international propaganda victory
that would embolden the world's other dictators.

Opening relations would give the Castros an international propaganda
victory that would embolden the world's other dictators.
U.S. policy has changed dramatically since the 1960s when Havana
confiscated $1.8 billion in American properties. "Interests sections"
are open in both capitals. Cuba annually buys hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of American foodstuffs. The U.S. "embargo" requires they
pay cash, because Cuba owes billions to European governments that have
extended trade credits. Putting American taxpayers on the same hook is
what the current push to "normalize" diplomatic relations is all about.
But why do so? There are no "trickle-down" benefits to the Cuban people.
Foreign trade and investment in Cuba is solely with the Castro
government. There is no civil "rule of law" that settles disputes,
orders payments or protects investors from government seizures and
arbitrary arrests.

The 15-year prison sentence handed to an American aid contractor, Alan
Gross, for giving a satellite telephone and laptop to a Jewish group
should be a warning to anyone who thinks relations with Cuba can be
"normalized." Gross was held for more than a year before the Castro
government even concocted a charge. Now the Castros are trying to barter
his release in exchange for the release of spies sentenced in U.S.
prisons for spying on military bases in Florida (one of whom was allowed
to visit his ailing mother in Cuba, whereas the regime denied Gross's
request to visit his dying mother).

For good reason, the State Department keeps Cuba on its list of states
supporting international terrorism. Cuba has trained terrorists,
supplied troops to Marxist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa,
is an important member of the anti-Israel coalition at the U.N. and
elsewhere, and last year was caught smuggling two war planes and missile
parts to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions. Today, the Castros
are close allies of Syria and Iran. Cuba's terrorist designs are
undeniable and Havana is as repressive as ever.

Source: No Legitimacy for Cuba's Dictators - NYTimes.com -
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/10/12/should-the-us-normalize-relations-with-cuba/no-legitimacy-for-cubas-dictators Continue reading
The Castros Are Responsible for Cuba's Failures, Not the U.S.

Jorge Benitez is the director of NATOSource and a senior fellow at the
Atlantic Council. He is on Twitter.

UPDATED OCTOBER 12, 2014, 7:30 PM

Let's avoid all the rhetoric about Cuba and focus on the facts. The
first relevant fact is that Cuba trades with 99 percent of the world.
Thus, the poor health of the Cuban economy is due to the disastrous
policies of the Castro government and not because it is deprived of trade.

This is not the fault of the United States, because we have the right to
prefer to trade with other countries that do not oppress their people.
The poverty in Cuba is also not the fault of the Cuban people because
the Castro regime has robbed them of the power to make economic decisions.

The government keeps most of the foreign money and hands out only
pennies to the Cuban people. Lifting U.S. sanctions would only add our
dollars to this corrupt trade.
It is the Castro regime that is totally responsible for the misery in
Cuba. The most overlooked fact in this debate is that every euro, ruble,
peso or Canadian dollar invested in Cuba goes directly to Castro and his
cronies. Foreign businesses are not allowed to pay wages to their Cuban
employees. Instead, they are required to turn the money over to the
state. The Castro government keeps most of the foreign money and hands
out only pennies to the Cuban people. Lifting U.S. sanctions would only
add our dollars to this corrupt trade.

Another relevant fact is that since John F. Kennedy imposed sanctions on
the dictator in Havana in 1962, every U.S. president and every Congress,
as well as the majority of the American public have supported sanctions
against the Castro government. Therefore, critics of the sanctions need
to stop their racist campaign of blaming a small ethnic group for
controlling U.S. policy on this issue.

The time to end U.S. sanctions is after Cuba has a democratically
elected government that allows fair trade. Until then, changing U.S.
policy to subsidize the Castro regime's exploitation of 11 million
Cubans will remain unpopular with the American people and against our
national interests.

Source: The Castros Are Responsible for Cuba's Failures, Not the U.S. -
NYTimes.com -
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/10/12/should-the-us-normalize-relations-with-cuba/the-castros-are-responsible-for-cubas-failures-not-the-us Continue reading
Time to Restore the Rich Cultural Ties Between the U.S. and Cuba

Catherine Murphy is an adjunct professor at New York University's Center
for Global Affairs. Her documentary, "Maestra," is about the Cuban
literacy campaign.

OCTOBER 12, 2014

After 20 years working to promote academic and cultural exchanges with
Cuba, I would not have imagined that in 2014 the U.S. embargo would
still be so solidly in place.

Eliminating the embargo and expanding educational and cultural exchanges
would benefit both nations.
The granddaughter of an American raised on the island, I first traveled
to Cuba to conduct research in 1992. I was investigating my family's
history and soon discovered the long, shared connection between Cuba and
the United States. Our countries and people have influenced each other
since before we each became nations. By the 1920s, U.S. citizens and
companies owned the majority of land and property on the island. There
was extensive trade and travel, and mutual influence in many spheres,
including music, film, boxing, literature, architecture, theater and, of
course, baseball.

You could trace the beginnings of Latin Jazz to the moment Chano Pozo
began to play with Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s. Josephine Baker danced
in Cuba. Nat King Cole recorded "Cole Español" in Cuba in 1958 with the
great pianist Bebo Valdés. Cuban film has also caught the eye of great
American directors and actors. Stephen Spielberg, Spike Lee and Benicio
del Toro have been to the Havana Film Festival.

Expanding educational and cultural exchanges would benefit both nations.
We have much to learn from Cuba – after a massive literacy campaign in
1961, they retain one of the best literacy levels in the hemisphere.
They have also developed a highly successful hurricane response system
and boast one of the most well-preserved submarine coral reefs on the
planet, Jardines de la Reina, off the southern coast.

I've had the opportunity to take many American students to Cuba, and
it's always fascinating to see them rethink their initial notions. Cuba
defies their stereotypes. Cuban people speak to them everywhere, in the
classroom, the streets and on Havana's Malecón. They are often openly
critical of the government, to my students' surprise. My students come
from diverse backgrounds and political orientations, and they offer
their own criticisms of the system there, but they also see Cuba
opening. And they inevitably question our policy of punishment. Recently
one of them, a public policy major, said to me: "My generation wants to
move forward. Our current policy is an outdated, inhumane relic of the
cold war."

It's high time for President Obama to exercise his executive authority
to make changes toward normalization of relations with Cuba. Removing
all travel restrictions would be a good place to start. Our cultures
will be richer for it.

Source: Time to Restore the Rich Cultural Ties Between the U.S. and Cuba
- NYTimes.com -
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/10/12/should-the-us-normalize-relations-with-cuba/time-to-restore-the-rich-cultural-ties-between-the-us-and-cuba Continue reading
… Development Cooperation (NORAD), and the Cuban ministries of Foreign Trade and … program Norway holds meetings with Cuban authorities to share experiences on … several regions of the world. Cuban entrepreneurs as well as the … results are very positive. In Cuba there have been several significant … Continue reading
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Managua, Oct 9 (Prensa Latina) The struggle against the U.S. economic, trade, and financial blockade of Cuba continues today in all Latin America, said Orlando Nuñez, social affairs advisor to Continue reading
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Cuba and the U.S. need to cooperate on fisheries
BY JOHN HEMINGWAY AND PATRICK HEMINGWAY
October 8, 2014

Recently, we traveled to Cuba to help celebrate two important
anniversaries honoring the legacy of our grandfather, Ernest Hemingway.

For five days, with a group of Americans that included marine scientists
under the auspices of the Latin America Working Group of Washington,
D.C., we experienced the hospitality and warmth of the Cuban people as
we celebrated our grandfather and had discussions on promoting U.S.-Cuba
cooperation to protect the marlin, tuna and other game fish of the
Florida Straits that are such an important part of the image that
Hemingway's generations of readers have had and continue to have of the
man and of his work.

Of the two anniversaries, the first was a celebration of Ernest's
arrival in Cuba 80 years ago aboard his beloved fishing boat, the Pilar,
after a trip across the Gulf Stream from Key West to Havana. The other
anniversary is of our grandfather's 1954 Nobel Prize in literature.

He later donated the gold medal to the people of Cuba, saying, "This
award belongs to Cuba, because my works were created and conceived in
Cuba, in my village of Cojimar, of which I am a citizen."

On our first day, we traveled by boat to Cojimar harbor, cruising down
the coast in fishing boats similar to the Pilar from the Hemingway
Marina near Havana. More than 100 people greeted and embraced us that
morning in an outpouring of love and respect that made us realize just
how deeply Ernest felt about being a citizen of Cojimar. We talked with
fishermen in their 80s who had known Ernest when they were boys, and we
hugged and posed for photos with groups of school children.

We had lunch at his favorite restaurant, La Terraza, sitting at his
favorite table and looking at many photographs of him on the wall.

A few days later, we helped celebrate the 60th anniversary of our
grandfather's Nobel Prize in literature, given to him in large part for
his enduring tale of a Cuban fisherman's struggle to capture a giant
marlin with just bait and tackle and a tiny skiff, and of his eventual
defeat.

"The Old Man and the Sea" is a classic of American literature, and we
were afforded the rare honor and privilege of seeing and holding the
actual Nobel medal, which our Cuban hosts graciously brought to the
Finca Vigia from its usual repository at the sanctuary of La Virgen de
la Caridad del Cobre outside Santiago de Cuba. Touring our grandfather's
house and lingering over the photographs, books and other personal items
collected over a lifetime -- which included living in Cuba for more than
20 years -- we could easily see just how much he truly was a citizen of
this island.

In addition to being an avid sports fisherman, our grandfather was a
devoted naturalist who kept meticulous records of the marlin, tuna and
other varieties for which he fished in the Gulf. In the summer of 1934
he joined forces with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia to
learn more about these highly migratory species, and the specimens and
records he collected and kept now exist as the Hemingway Archive at the
museum in Philadelphia.

Our grandfather acquired this visceral need to explore and understand
nature from his father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, on fishing trips they
took into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the early 1900s. In turn,
this passion was passed down to our grandfather's sons and, finally,
from our father to his children. This love and respect for the natural
world and all its resources is a family legacy, one that we would like
to see manifested in U.S.-Cuba cooperation to protect the resources of
the Florida Straits, despite restrictions on trade, travel and
scientific cooperation against Cuba in place since 1961.

By protecting those ocean resources that are vitally important to the
tourism and sport fishing economies of both South Florida and Cuba, we
hope to honor our grandfather's passion for cataloguing and
understanding the natural world. We find it hard to believe that someday
the giant tuna and marlin that were the inspiration for so much of his
art and life might no longer be found in the Florida Straits, but we
know that this danger exists. The twin pressures of pollution and
over-fishing are real.

We hope that our journey to Cuba will begin to address these problems
and restore balance to an important and delicate ecosystem that is of
vital importance to both the American and Cuban people. We also hope
that the cooperative nature of our trip will help demonstrate that
better relations between the United States and Cuba are possible and
desirable.

It's time to move beyond more than 50 years of antagonism to normalized
relations.

John Hemingway and Patrick Hemingway wrote this under the auspices of
the Latin-American Working Group in Washington, D.C. This is reprinted
from the Miami Herald.

Source: Cuba and the U.S. need to cooperate on fisheries | Opinion
Columns | KeysNet -
http://www.keysnet.com/2014/10/08/499104/cuba-and-the-us-need-to-cooperate.html?sp=/99/116/ Continue reading
Miami congressional candidates differ on U.S.-Cuba policy
BY PATRICIA MAZZEIPMAZZEI@MIAMIHERALD.COM
10/08/2014 7:14 PM 10/08/2014 9:23 PM

Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia and Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo
disagree on whether more Americans should be allowed to travel to Cuba
and send more money to relatives on the island.

But that significant policy difference didn't get much attention until
this week, when a pro-Cuba-travel television advertisement began airing
in Miami.

The TV spot, launched Monday by the Miami-based liberal-leaning Cuba Now
nonprofit, sticks out because of what it isn't: a slick, highly produced
piece bashing Curbelo or Garcia – like most of the others funded by
well-heeled outside political groups in the close contest for Florida's
26th congressional district.

Instead, the ad has a throwback, low-budget feel. Unidentified people
speak directly into the camera in Spanish and urge voters to back
candidates who support more Cuba travel. Their words are subtitled in
English.

It's a straight so-called "issue" ad. Most ads funded by outside groups
technically fall under that category as well, but usually they make
clear which candidate they're supposed to benefit. This one makes no
mention of Garcia or Curbelo.

Yet after the two candidates debated in Marathon on Monday evening and
were asked about U.S.-Cuba policy, Cuba Now released a statement
criticizing Curbelo, who said at the forum that he could not "support
any unilateral concessions to an enemy of the United States — in this
case, the Cuban government." The congressional district stretches from
Westchester to Key West.

"It's time that Carlos Curbelo and other politicians who cling to a
hardline position begin to recognize the reality of both Cuban-Americans
and the Cuban people," Cuba Now Executive Director Ric Herrero said in a
statement. "No one should have to choose between visiting a sick parent
or going to their funeral because their own government denies them the
right to travel, but that's exactly what Mr. Curbelo's position would
lead to."

Herrero, the former executive director for the Miami-Dade Democratic
Party, accused Curbelo of wanting to tighten travel restrictions that
President Barack Obama loosened in 2009, allowing virtually all
family-reunification visits. Curbelo, a Miami-Dade school board member,
told the Miami Herald in an interview Wednesday that is not the case.

"I'm not advocating for any change in our existing travel policy with
regards to Cubans visiting their family members," he said, adding that
he does take issue with the Obama administration's granting visas to
members of the Cuban government or people close to them to visit the U.S.

Garcia, on the other hand, calls for greater U.S. travel to Cuba, saying
the more open policy — which he long advocated — has been a success. He
also favors lifting caps to remittances Americans can send relatives on
the island.

"Part of what we have to realize is that the civil society [in Cuba] is
nourished by this," Garcia said in an interview Wednesday. "I think that
a free person standing in Cuba — that does more damage than all the
noise that one can make here over the course of a year."

The district represents extreme views on U.S.-Cuba policy. The Florida
Keys, especially Key West, have a strong sentiment opposed to the U.S.
trade embargo against the island — which both candidates support — while
it remains popular among older, Cuban exile communities in West Miami-Dade.

A Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald poll in June found a majority of
respondents support unrestricted travel to Cuba, with particularly
strong support among younger, U.S.-born Cuban Americans. A Florida
International University survey later that month reported similar findings.

The two candidates also differ on the future of the 1966 Cuban
Adjustment Act, the federal law that gives Cuban arrivals a pathway to
U.S. citizenship after being in the country for one year and one day — a
special privilege awarded to no other foreign nationals.

Curbelo wants to toughen the legislation so it would apply only to
Cubans fleeing political persecution — a far narrower definition than
exists today, when any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil can have their
immigration status "adjusted" to be in the country legally.

Other Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Miami Reps.
Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all Curbelo supporters, have
endorsed revisions to discourage Cubans from coming to the U.S. to
obtain their residency, only to frequently return to the island.

"We have to reform the law to prevent abuse of this generous law,"
Curbelo said. "Otherwise, how do we explain this to Colombians,
Venezuelans, Haitians, Dominicans that would also like to come to the
United States because they feel the policy is inconsistent?"

But Garcia says the law, which he called "a tremendous advantage that
Cuban Americans have," should remain intact. Though he acknowledged some
people abuse the privilege, the congressman said he cannot endorse
changing the law after so many Cubans have already benefited.

"To hear some Cuban Americans make this argument — 'I got in, now lock
the door' — it's absurd," Garcia said.

Source: Miami congressional candidates differ on U.S.-Cuba policy | The
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article2627563.html Continue reading
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