Free Alan Gross http://alangrosscuba.impela.net Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:32:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 Látigo y fusta para el Primero de Mayo http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/latigo-y-fusta-para-el-primero-de-mayo/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/latigo-y-fusta-para-el-primero-de-mayo/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:32:49 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=177192 Látigo y fusta para el Primero de Mayo
¿Cómo funcionan los ‘sutiles’ mecanismos de coacción del Gobierno cubano?
Miércoles, abril 26, 2017 | Osniel Carmona y Alejandro Hernández

LA HABANA, Cuba.- Entidades estatales de distintos sectores han
comenzado a presionar a sus empleados para asegurar una asistencia
masiva al desfile anual por el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores,
según el reporte de obreros que fueron advertidos acerca de las
consecuencias de faltar a la convocatoria.

Si las amenazas se cumplen, entre otras represalias administrativas, los
empleados comunican que aquellos que no desfilen perderán los estímulos
monetarios que varias instituciones pagan en paralelo al salario básico.

Los desfiles del Primero de Mayo se celebran cada año en las principales
plazas públicas del país. La ocasión es utilizada por el gobierno
criollo como una plataforma mediática donde la masa obrera debe patentar
su conformidad con el sistema político.

Sin embargo, a raíz del creciente descontento social en las últimas
décadas, los organismos estatales fortalecen los mecanismos de coacción
para que, en el día de los “mártires de Chicago”, los trabajadores
mantengan el espaldarazo al sistema.

Pedagogos de la capital reportan que los consejos de dirección en los
centros escolares, por indicación previa de las instancias municipales,
señalaron la disposición de afectar los sueldos de los profesores
manipulando el método evaluativo que categoriza su desempeño.

Según dio a conocer un funcionario de la enseñanza preuniversitaria en
el municipio Cotorro, en reunión dedicada a los preparativos del
desfile, la directora municipal de Educación en ese territorio avisó que
a los maestros ausentados se les negará la posibilidad de obtener una
evaluación final satisfactoria.

A grosso modo, ilustra el funcionario desde el resguardo del anonimato,
el método evaluativo se rige por una escala de cuatro niveles (Mal,
Regular, Bien y Muy Bien) determinados por parámetros que analizan
asistencia, puntualidad, cumplimiento del horario laboral, porciento de
promoción de los educandos, superación profesional, participación en las
actividades políticas y sindicales, pago de las cuotas impuestas como
aporte a las Milicias de Tropas Territoriales (MTT) y sindicales entre
otras.

La evaluación, que se otorga a finales del curso escolar y prevalece
durante el siguiente, no regula el salario básico pero constituye un
mecanismo de estimulación que a lo largo del año supera los 800 pesos.
Además, incumplir con los aspectos establecidos sobre cuestiones
políticas-ideológicas puede acarrear más sanciones administrativas.

Héctor Luis Fleites, profesor de enseñanza primaria en el municipio
Guanabacoa, resalta que, dadas las circunstancias, el desfile será “un
fraude, como todos los años. Habrá que mostrar un compromiso de ‘sí o
sí’, pero la mayoría iremos en contra de la voluntad”.

Fleites, quien cursa su segundo año como docente, señala a los desfiles
del Primero de Mayo como un montaje político.

“Los trabajadores agitan las banderitas y gritan consignas solo cuando
pasan frente a las cámaras de televisión, el resto del tiempo rezongan
porque tienen hambre o porque lo que cobran es tan poco que les molesta
verse sirviendo de marioneta”, dijo.

Los agentes de las empresas de Seguridad y Protección, cuyos mayores
beneficios económicos salen de los mecanismos de estímulo, son otro de
los sectores notificados acerca de las implicaciones de no asistir a la
convocatoria.

“Se nos pidió que hiciéramos temblar la tierra, y estoy seguro que así
será, pero de impotencia por no poder protestar contra las desigualdades
que sufrimos los asalariados”, expresó Gustavo Leiná Solano, Agente de
la Empresa de Seguridad y Protección CORAZA.De acuerdo con Leiná,
durante la semana pasada la agencia que le emplea exigió la
participación de todos los agentes que descansarán del servicio en esa
fecha, que será asumida como otra jornada corriente de trabajo.

“Si no vas te declaran ‘no idóneo’ y vas de paticas para la calle, o
cuando menos te quitan el estímulo en divisa que significa más de la
mitad del cobro mensual”, refiere Leiná, quien además amplió que “nos
dijeron que un salario tan generoso no cae del cielo y como tengo dos
hijos no puedo arriesgarme a perderlo. Si quieren que vaya voy, y si
quieren que grite lo que les dé la gana, lo grito y ya”.

Al igual que la clase obrera, estudiantes de último año de las
enseñanzas preuniversitaria y universitaria fueron llamados a participar
de la actividad para poder optar por las mejores opciones de continuidad
de estudios y trabajo.

En la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas de la Universidad de La Habana, tres
estudiantes que prefieren omitir su identidad explican que a la docencia
se une la participación en actividades políticas como requisito para
recibir la prolongación de estudios en las diferentes especialidades.

Del mismo modo, amplían que es una de las principales condiciones que
deben cumplir quienes aspiran a comenzar la carrera como profesional de
la salud en el extranjero, en el marco de los convenios de exportación
de servicios.

“La facultad lleva días recordando que tenemos que ir. Estamos sobre
aviso porque estas actividades pesan mucho en las comisiones de
otorgamiento. Si faltas luego te sacan las tiras del pellejo, buscan y
buscan hasta encontrar de qué manera quitarte lo que ganaste
académicamente en cinco años”, acotaron.

Source: Látigo y fusta para el Primero de Mayo CubanetCubanet –
www.cubanet.org/actualidad-destacados/latigo-y-fusta-para-el-primero-de-mayo/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/latigo-y-fusta-para-el-primero-de-mayo/feed/ 0
The King, The President and The Dictator http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-king-the-president-and-the-dictator/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-king-the-president-and-the-dictator/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:20:29 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138514 The King, The President and The Dictator

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 April 2017 — In the palace of the
Captains General in Havana there is a throne awaiting its king. It was
prepared when Cuba was still a Spanish colony and a monarch has never
sat in its imposing structure. The visit of Spain’s King Felipe VI visit
may end such a long wait, but the Island needs more than gestures of
symbolism and protocol.

The king and the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, will arrive in the
country a few months before Raul Castro leaves power. The official
visit, long prepared for, has all the traces of a farewell. It will be
like the farewell of the Mother Country to one of its descendants across
the sea. Someone who began as leftist revolutionary and ended up being a
part of a rigid dynasty.

The visitors will arrive in the middle of “the cooling off of the thaw”
between Washington and Havana. The expectations that led to the
diplomatic normalization announced on 17 December 2014 have been diluted
with the passage of months in the absence of tangible results. More than
two years have tone by and the island is no more free nor has it
imagined to merge from its economic quagmire.

US airlines have begun to reduce the frequency of their flights to Cuba,
discouraged by low demand and the limitations that remain on Americans
traveling to Cuba as tourists. Castro has not withdrawn the ten percent
tax he keeps on the exchange of dollars, and connecting to the internet
from the island is still an obstacle course. All this and more
discourages travelers from the country to the north of us.

The photos of building collapses and old cars fill the Instagram
accounts of the Yumas (Americans) who tour the streets, but even the
most naïve get tired of this dilapidated theme park. Cuba has gone out
of style. All the attention it captured after the day Cubans refer to in
shorthand as “17-D,” has given way to boredom and apathy, because life
is not accompanied by a comfortable armchair to support this incredibly
long move where almost nothing happens.

Last year tourism reached a historic record of 4 million visitors but
the hotels have to engage in a juggling act to maintain a stable supply
of fruit, beer and even water. Between the shortages and the drought,
scenes of long lines of customers waiting for a Cristal beer, or
carrying buckets from the swimming pool to use in their bathrooms are
not uncommon.

Foreign investors also do not seem very enthusiastic about putting their
money into the economy of a country where it is still highly centralized
and nationalized. The port of Mariel, tainted with the scandals of the
Brazilian company Odebrecht, and with activity levels far below initial
projections, seems doomed to become the Castro regime’s last pharaonic
and useless project.

But Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House hasn’t meant an iron fist
against the Plaza of the Revolution as some had prophesied. The new US
president has simply avoided looking toward the island and right now
seems more focused on the distant and dangerous Kim Jong-un than the
anodyne and close at hand Raul Castro.

The Havana government lost its most important opportunity by not taking
advantage of the opening offered by Barack Obama, who hardly asked for
anything in return. Right now there hasn’t even been start on the
drafting of the new Electoral Law announced in February of 2015. Was
that news perhaps a maneuver so that the European Union would finally
decide to repeal the Common Position? Fake news that sought to convince
the unwary and fire up the headlines in the foreign press with talk of
openings?

To top it off, they have increased the level of repression against
opponents, and just a few days ago a journalism student was expelled
from the university for belonging to a dissident movement. A process
in the purest Stalinist style cut off her path to getting a degree in
this profession that, decades ago, officialdom condemned to serve as a
spokesperson for its achievements while remaining mute in the face of
its disasters.

Take care. The visit of King Felipe and Queen Letizia is inscribed in
times of fiascos. Failures that include the economic recession that
plagues a country with a Gross Domestic Product that closed out last
year in negative numbers, despite the usual make-up the government
applies to all such figures. And the Venezuelan ally unable to shake off
Nicolas Maduro, increasingly less presidential and more autocratic. The
convulsions in that South American country have left Cuba almost without
premium gas and with several fuel cuts in the state sector.

These are not the moments to proudly show off the house to visitors, but
rather a magnificent occasion for the highest Spanish authorities to
understand that totalitarianism never softens nor democratizes, it just
changes its skin.

The Spaniard will have to spin a very fine thread not to turn the visit
of the head of state into an accolade for the dying system. The royals
will be surrounded by the attentions of officials who are trying to
avoid, fundamentally, their stepping a single decorated millimeter
beyond the careful preparations that have been underway for months. As
was once attempted during the 1999 visit of Juan Carlos de Borbón to
participate in an Ibero-American Summit.

On that occasion, and during a stroll with Queen Sofia through the
streets of Old Havana, officialdom blocked access to the neighbors,
emptied the sidewalks of the curious and worked the magic of converting
one of the most densely inhabited areas of the city, with the most
residents per acre in all of Cuba, into a depopulated stage where the
royal couple walked.

Their successors, who will travel to the island “as soon as possible,”
could do worse than to study the ways in which Barack Obama managed to
shake off the suffocating embrace in March of 2016. The American
president handled himself gracefully, even when Raul Castro – with the
gesture of a conquering guerrilla, fists raised – tried to trap him in a
snapshot. But the White House tenant relaxed his hand and looked away. A
defeat for the Revolution’s visual epic.

Nor does Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy have an easy time. The official
press does not like him and surrounds him always with criticism and
negative news about his Party. He does not enjoy sympathies among the
circles of power in Havana despite having reduced the degrees of tension
that reached a peak during the term of Jose Maria Aznar. But on the
island there are more than 100,000 Cubans who are nationalized Spanish
citizens, also represented by that nation’s leader and who are, in the
end, his most important interlocutors.

Felipe VI and Rajoy have in their favor that they will no longer be
bound by the protocol to be photographed with Fidel Castro in his
convalescent retirement. The king declined his father’s participation in
death tributes for the former president last November in the Plaza of
the Revolution. Thus, the young monarch managed that his name and that
of the Commander in Chief do not appear together in the history books.

However, he still has to overcome the most difficult test. That moment
in which his visit can go from being a necessary approach to a country
very culturally familiar, to become a concession of legitimacy to a
decadent regime.

Meanwhile, in the Palace of the Captains General, a throne awaits its
king, and in the Plaza of the Revolution a chair awaits the departure of
its dictator.

Editorial Note: This article was published in the original Spanish
Saturday 22 April in the Spanish newspaper El País.

Source: The King, The President and The Dictator – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-king-the-president-and-the-dictator/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-king-the-president-and-the-dictator/feed/ 0
Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/theft-and-subsidies-not-exports/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/theft-and-subsidies-not-exports/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:36:47 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138503 Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 24 de Abril de 2017 – 17:00 CEST.

Once gain former Economy minister José Luis Rodríguez has attempted to
pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Apparently the Castro dictatorship
has called on him to do its dirty work and cook the books to present a
more favorable picture of the regime’s administration.

Rodríguez recently wrote, in Cubadebate, that the export of doctors,
nurses and other health professionals brought in revenue amounting to an
average of 11.543 billion dollars yearly between 2011 and 2015. False.
As a source he drew upon the 2016 Statistical Yearbook on Health – which
was so incomplete that it does not even mention how many health
professionals work outside Cuba, the most important factor of all. The
Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that there are about 50,000 in all.

I think it is appropriate to note that last February Rodríguez announced
that in 2016 Cuba paid its foreign creditors $5.299 billion, which is
also false. And, in 2006, as Minister of the Economy, he said, with a
straight face, that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cuba had grown
12.5%, the greatest growth in the world, even surpassing China.

This time the former Castroist higher-up – who today serves as an
advisor at Cuba’s International Economy Research Center (CIEM), and at
the aforementioned Yearbook of Public Health – is guilty of several more
“inaccuracies.”

To begin with, in order for the medical services that Cuba exports to 62
countries on four continents to have generated $11.543 billion, the
average salary of each contracted Cuban professional would have to have
been around $19,200 per month, which is impossible. His claim is even
more far-fetched when said yearbook indicates that 35 countries paid for
these services, and the other 27 paid nothing.

The key to all this is that the regime lies. It calculates Venezuelan
subsidies as a sale of medical services. Curiously, in his article
Rodríguez did not include the year 2016, in which Caracas slashed its
subsidies to the Island. Experts estimate that they have fallen by 40%,
and that oil deliveries were reduced from 110,000 to 55,000 barrels a
day, which would explain the current fuel crisis on the Island.

Cuba now depends and will depend more and more of the flow of foreign
currency coming from the “Empire” via remittances, packages and travel
to the island, which in 2016 came to more than 7 billion dollars. That
figure probably already equals or exceeds the subsidies from Venezuela,
and triples the gross revenue generated by tourism.

Moreover, even supposing that everything stated by the former minister
were true, it is immoral for the Castroist leadership to openly proclaim
that it steals salaries from doctors. That’s called trafficking. Those
$11.543 billion belong to the doctors, who earned them with their work,
and then saw them confiscated.

According to the pact between the previous government of Brazil and
Cuba, negotiated with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the
Brazilian government pays Cuba $4,080 per month for each Cuban doctor.
Of this amount, the physician receives less than 25%, that is, less than
$1,000, according to doctors who have left Brazil, and complaints from
the National Federation of Brazilian Doctors, which describes the
contracts as “slave work.” For every Cuban doctor in Brazil, Castro
pockets $3,000 a month.

The figures do not add up

There are now some 10,400 Cuban doctors and professionals in Brazil;
that is, 20% of those it has abroad. Venezuela, meanwhile, has more than
34,000 professionals, almost 70% of the total. That means that if the
average salary obtained, based on the figure cited by Rodriguez, comes
to $19,200 per month, and Brazil pays only $4,080 per doctor, then
Venezuela pays several times that monthly amount for each Cuban
professional, which is untrue.

Moreover, the $11.543 billion reported surely include the more than $720
million per year that Cuba was making by re-exporting gasoline from
Venezuela, or refined in Cienfuegos with crude given away by Caracas. Is
that not that a subsidy, like the one that was previously received from
the USSR, when the Island re-exported Soviet oil?

It is outrageous that the international community has not condemned the
export of Cuban doctors, essentially working as slaves in the 21st
century. Neither the International Labor Organization (ILO), nor any
government in the world has censured this abusive practice. The UN
Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Maria Grazia Gianmarinaro,
just visited Havana, but apparently apparently was satisfied with the
explanation provided by her hosts, masters of propaganda to protect the
dictatorship.

In Brazil, for example, Article 149 of the Penal Code states that “slave
labor” exists when one is subjected to “forced labor, excessive shifts,
and remuneration that is dramatically deficient relative to the work
performed, justified by debts owed one’s employer.”

But the governments of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff wanted to favor
the Castros, and signed those shameful agreements. And the current
government has done little to fight this abuse.

Why no self-employed doctors?

The truth is that more than a third of the 90,161 doctors of the Island,
according to the yearbook, do not work in Cuba, but rather abroad, which
affects medical services on the Island. The regime graduates them, en
masse, to export and exploit them, as they are sent abroad for the
selfish aim of confiscating their wages. They are reminiscent of the
“talking instruments,” as Marco Terencio Varrón called slaves in
classical Rome, 2,000 years ago.

If the Castro hierarchy allowed university professionals to enjoy
economic freedom, provide their services on their own, and doctors to
have private practices, they would render a valuable public service,
earn much more income, and not have to accept being exported as if they
were owned by the State, or the Castro family, to receive meager
remuneration, with which to make their lives and those of their families
on the Island more bearable.

Exported doctors have their freedom of movement restricted. They travel
alone, without their families. Their passports are held, and they are
enlisted in pro-Castro political campaigns with local populations, with
which they cannot interact privately. The whole system is like a modern
version of labor markets in the 18th and 19th centuries through which
masters rented out their slaves to third parties for given periods.

In short, the $11.543 billion cited by Rodríguez were not obtained just
through the “exported services.” Rather, they mainly came from
Venezuelan and Brazilian subsidies. And the money confiscated from
doctors constitutes an international crime, which does not prescribe,
and ought to be punished.

Source: Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1493046046_30603.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/theft-and-subsidies-not-exports/feed/ 0
Should U.S. Companies Hit ‘Pause’ on Doing Business in Cuba? http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/should-u-s-companies-hit-pause-on-doing-business-in-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/should-u-s-companies-hit-pause-on-doing-business-in-cuba/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 13:07:22 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138499 Should U.S. Companies Hit ‘Pause’ on Doing Business in Cuba?
Apr 20, 2017

President Trump’s government has yet to reveal its hand on the issue of
reconciliation with Cuba. There had been a lot of progress towards
greater ties following President’s Obama’s overtures in December 2014:
Some cooperation agreements were signed – particularly in aviation and
communications — and Google and Airbnb now have a presence on the island
nation. But only about two dozen U.S. companies have taken early steps,
and there has been limited progress on other fronts, such as the
reconciliation of Cuban-Americans with the Cuban people.

And while President Trump had supported more economic ties with Cuba in
the past, just before the presidential election he reversed course. That
makes it unclear what business should expect going forward.

The overarching issue is the ongoing U.S. economic embargo, noted
Cuban-American attorney Gustavo Arnavat at the recent 2017 Wharton Latin
American Conference. Arnavat, now a senior adviser at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, had a front-row seat on U.S.-Cuba
policy as an advisor to President Obama’s team on the issue. He also
represented the U.S. in 2009 at the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB), the largest provider of development finance in Latin America.

“It would be crazy for anyone right now to be trying to invest in Cuba,
even in those areas we can invest, because at any moment, the Trump
administration may come out and totally reverse what was done
previously,” he said. Adding further to the uncertainty, Cuban President
Raul Castro is scheduled to leave office in February 2018, with no clear
successor in the wings.

Arnavat took stock of the emerging state of U.S.-Cuban ties in a
discussion with Knowledge@Wharton at the recent Wharton Latin American
conference. An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.

Knowledge@Wharton: It was a historic time in the Winter of 2014 when the
U.S. government decided that a policy that had been in place for 50
years was no longer working, and that it was time to rethink how the
U.S. and Cuba were engaging with one another, and try to normalize
relationships at whatever level was possible. Could you describe why and
how you got involved in U.S.-Cuba relations before President Obama’s
policy shift on December 12, 2014?

Gustavo Arnavat: The greatest variable contributing to my interest in
Cuba has to do with the fact that I was born in Cuba. I grew up in a
very conservative, Republican household in Hialeah, Florida, and there
wasn’t a day that went by that a family member, or friend or visitor
didn’t criticize some element of the Cuban revolution or talked about
Cuba. So, it was impossible for me not to be interested in Cuba and
U.S.-Cuba relations as I grew up. Later, I came to understand that the
world was not black and white, and that realization and complexity made
me even more interested in the topic.

After law school, I was a lawyer focusing on sovereign finance and
corporate finance, and eventually went over to investment banking on
Wall Street. I worked on many deals, but Cuba was never part of that,
for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, there was always a part of me that
wanted to be involved, somehow. Eventually, I became involved in several
projects examining U.S policy toward Cuba, but all of that came to an
end when I joined the Obama Administration because I was at the IDB, and
Cuba wasn’t a member of the IDB, and I otherwise wasn’t involved in
setting Cuba policy while I worked in the Obama Administration.

Knowledge@Wharton: The major policy shift occurred in December 2014.
What do you think motivated President Obama to make such a major change?

Arnavat: The primary reason is that this was something that I think
President Obama wanted to do for a long time. When he was a senator in
Illinois, he spoke about the futility of the embargo. At the annual
luncheon of the Cuban-American National Foundation in Florida in May
2008, he said that if Cuba began to open up, starting with releasing all
political prisoners, he would begin a dialogue that could lead to
normalized relations. This was startling and unprecedented for a
presidential candidate of either political party. Anyone from Miami
knows that advocating “normalized” relations and a “dialogue” with the
Cuban government just 15 or 20 years ago was a very dangerous thing to do.

He also faced pressure from other Latin American countries, particularly
in the context of the Summit of the Americas. A number of the countries’
presidents told President Obama during the Summit in Cartagena, Colombia
in 2012, that for the next summit (in Panama City in 2015, if Cuba is
not invited, they were not going to participate. That also weighed on
the White House

Related to this, there was a growing consensus in the region – and U.S.
foreign policy –that the primary issues affecting Latin America were not
the same ones from 20, 30 or 40 years ago, which chiefly included
unstable and undemocratic governments, drug trafficking, corruption,
etc. Instead, the focus has been on trade and economic development
through integration. If you are the U.S., it’s difficult to make a case
for global economic integration and certainly regional economic
integration, when Cuba is prevented from being fully integrated from an
economic perspective. Finally, President Obama felt that since the
elections of 2014 were over, he had nothing to lose from a political
perspective, and the timing was right to do what he wanted to do all along.

But very little could be done while Alan Gross remained in Cuban
custody, and the Cubans knew this to be the case. [Editor’s note: Alan
Gross, a U.S. government contractor employed by the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID), was arrested in Cuba in 2009.]

Knowledge@Wharton: What was your reaction to the policy shift and what
steps did you take?

Arnavat: I was shocked. After I left the IDB, I became aware of a
growing number of Cuban Americans, particularly in Miami, who were
successful lawyers, businesspeople and bankers, who wanted to promote
engagement between the U.S. and Cuba in order to help the Cuban people
more directly. We thought, what can we do? How can we try to convince
the White House to go in a different direction? But we were extremely
pessimistic because we had witnessed very little interest on the part of
the White House, especially because of the situation with Gross.

With the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, we thought U.S.-Cuba
policy would once again be the victim of domestic political
considerations. That was despite the fact that Hillary Clinton in her
book (titled Hard Choices, published in 2014), criticized the embargo in
a very open way, and in a way that was unexpected. Some of us in
retrospect thought that was her signal to the White House to encourage
it to pursue engagement.

When the announcement was made, the thinking was, we were finally going
to be able to sit down with the Cubans, and talk to them about all the
issues that two normal countries should want to engage in, on areas of
mutual interest. Little did I know that in fact, they had been
negotiating for about 18 months, but this was an opportunity to test the
waters and see to what extent it made sense to engage diplomatically and
commercially in ways that would benefit both countries.

So a number of us provided the White House with our insights, though few
of us had very high expectations over the short-term effects of an
opening toward Cuba, especially with respect to political matters.

Knowledge@Wharton: How would you assess the progress since the winter of
2014? Has there been real progress, or as somebody once said, is it a
triumph of hope over experience?

Arnavat: I break it down into three buckets. Let’s call the first bucket
official U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations. The second bucket is commercial
relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The third is Cuban-American
reconciliation issues.

On the official bilateral bucket, a lot has been accomplished. After
more than 50 years of acrimony between the two countries, diplomatic
relations were reestablished. Embassies were reopened. As part of that
process, Cuba was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism,
based on an analysis conducted by the State Department with input from
our intelligence community. Regular mail service was established between
the two countries.

Migration talks were regularized, and they’ve become much more
substantive and more meaningful. Agreements were entered into with
respect to cooperation in law enforcement, environmental disasters and
other areas. I believe close to two dozen such agreements were reached.
A lot was accomplished given the relationship the two countries had.
However, I know that Obama Administration officials were frustrated that
more wasn’t accomplished on the human rights front, although the belief
is that civil society in general has benefited because of the new policy
approach.

On the other hand, the biggest issue is the embargo, which is still in
place. Another issue relates to property claims that U.S. citizens have
against Cuba for property that was expropriated in the first few years
of the revolution. Those have still not been resolved, and they’re far
from being resolved. Keep in mind, this was the primary reason why the
U.S. broke off diplomatic relations in the first place. So in that
sense, very little progress has been made.

As far as the commercial relationship is concerned, the assessment
depends on whom you talk to; the Cubans believe that a lot of progress
was made given that the embargo remains in place. On the bilateral
front, commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba were reestablished.
U.S. Airlines, as part of a process led by the Department of
Transportation, competed for those routes, and six or seven airlines won
those routes.

A number of mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon have entered into
roaming agreements with the Cuban government. You may not think that’s a
big deal, except that before, there were no such roaming agreements and
it made mobile phone communications very difficult. Airbnb is there,
which is very helpful for travelers who don’t want to pay for relatively
expensive hotels in Havana. Google has a presence now, and U.S. cruise
ships are sailing into Havana and bringing Americans.

However, a lot more could have been done. One of the missed
opportunities is in fact that not as many deals were done. That’s bad
for a number of different reasons. One, U.S. companies have missed out.
The Cuban people and the Cuban government have missed out on great U.S.
products and services. While the Trump administration is reviewing the
policy, instead of having a hundred companies advocating, you only have
25 or 30 or so going to their congressional representatives and saying,
look, we have this business now in Cuba.

When you ask the Cuban government, they will grant that a lot of
proposals were presented to the Cuban government. The pushback came for
a variety of reasons. In some cases, the companies were too small or
were startups. They want to be able to deal with the major players. The
problem with deals that were proposed by major global corporations was
that those proposals didn’t necessarily fall into one of the priority
areas in Cuba’s plan for economic development.

Then, even with the right kind of company, in a priority area, they
would site the embargo. They would say that even if we wanted to do
this, we couldn’t, because there’s no way that U.S. companies could pay
for a service or the other way around. They are right to an extent,
because of the continuing restrictions on financial transactions, but
more important, the way those restrictions and regulations have been
interpreted by legal counsel and compliance officers at major financial
institutions around the world, especially in the U.S. They’re very well
aware that if you run afoul of those regulations, you get hit with a
multi-billion-dollar fine, as has happened, even recently.

At the same time, investment conditions in Cuba are very challenging for
U.S. companies that are not accustomed to working with foreign
governments in transactions normally involving private sector companies
as counterparts. But the reality is that doing business in Cuba
necessarily means doing business with the government, and not all U.S.
companies are prepared to do that at this point.

So those are in the first two buckets. In the third bucket, on
reconciliation, Cuban-Americans are going to play some role, just as
they have played an important role in shaping U.S.-Cuba policy in the
past. I know that many Cuban government officials are not comfortable
with that involvement, but the sooner we can start to engage from that
perspective and have reconciliation, the better it is both for Cubans in
the U.S. as well as Cubans on the island. Very little has been done, or
has occurred, on that front because of the lack of mutual trust.

Knowledge@Wharton: You’ve just returned from Cuba. Looking at things
right now, what are the biggest opportunities in Cuba, and what are the
biggest challenges or the biggest risks?

Arnavat: Imagine you discovered a country that you didn’t know existed.
You realize that less than 100 miles away from the U.S. is a country
that, if it were a U.S. state, would be the eighth-largest in
population, right after Ohio, for example. It has 11 million people who
are very well educated, despite all of the challenges in Cuba, and lack
of resources. It has software engineers, for example, who graduate from
some of the best technology universities in Cuba, but they’re
underemployed. A lot of people code quite a bit in Cuba. So from a human
capital perspective, it’s a country that is enormously resourceful, and
this presents a huge opportunity for U.S. companies that will invest
when they are able to do so.

From a natural resource perspective, it’s a very large Caribbean
island, so it will be an important destination for tourism, or for
second homes for Americans, whenever that becomes a possibility. It’s
got a health care system that is, again, very poorly resourced, but
there is a high level of training on the part of medical staff there,
and access to knowledge and technology. Some presidents in Latin America
from the ALBA countries (the 11-member Bolivarian Alliance for the
Peoples of Our America), when they get seriously sick, they go to
Havana. Medical tourism would be of great interest as an area to invest
in if that were possible.

It is also a country that has tremendous needs from an infrastructure
perspective. The roads are quite better than a lot of places I’ve been
in the Caribbean, and certainly Central America. But it’s a country that
needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The question, of course, is
going to be how do you pay for it? That brings us to the challenges.
There is no access to capital. It has a legal system that was set up to
support a socialist economic model, which is anachronistic and foreign
to U.S. investors. They’re beginning to figure that out, and are
struggling with how to emerge and how to evolve from that. But even
those who recognize the need for change don’t want that change to be
forced on them from abroad. This is an essential point to keep in mind.

Cubans are increasingly getting comfortable referring to non-state
employees or entrepreneurs as the private sector, although officially
it’s called the non-state sector. I am certain that when things do open
up, and the right incentives are in place, the human capital there is
going to be such that Cuba is going to be well-placed as a market for
Americans to investment.

I’m not sure how independent the judiciary is to resolve disputes
between, let’s say a foreign company, a foreign investor and an entity
where the Cuban government may have an interest. So that’s obviously a
risk for any U.S. company to consider. It’s a risk in any country, but
especially in a country where the government plays such an important
role in the running of the society. There is also the political risk
associated with the fact that [President Raul] Castro is supposed to
leave office on February 24 of next year, and it’s always unclear as to
who’s going to take over and in what direction the country will go.

If you have to put a bet, Cuba is likely to continue on a socialist
trajectory for an indefinite period of time. You also have the immediate
risk of the Trump administration in trying to decide what to do. So it
would be crazy for anyone right now to be trying to invest in Cuba, even
in those areas we can invest, because at any moment, the Trump
administration may come out and totally reverse what was done previously.

Knowledge@Wharton: How do you think U.S. policy towards Cuba will evolve
under President Trump? You were very complimentary about President
Obama, very optimistic about reading Hillary Clinton’s book and what she
said about Cuba. What’s your assessment of what President Trump will do,
and what that will mean for Cuban-American relations?

Arnavat: I honestly have no idea. And I don’t think anyone has any idea.
People in Cuba have no idea. It could go in lots of directions. It seems
that President Trump is not going to come out any time soon and say
we’re going to continue to engage without the Cubans making any
quote-unquote “concessions.”

Trump has said very little about Cuba in his career. He appeared to
entertain launching a potential campaign in the 1990s, I believe it was
in Miami he talked about how he was such a strong supporter of the
embargo and he would never do business in Cuba while the Castro brothers
were in place, etc.

Two years later, as it turns out, he sent a consultant to Cuba — a paid
consultant, to figure out how to do business in Cuba. Beginning about
six years ago up until sometime last year, people in the Trump
organization had visited Cuba, exploring opportunities in golf and
hotels, hospitality, that sort of thing. So we know that from a
commercial perspective, he definitely has been interested in doing so.
And, it makes sense, given his investments in China and other countries
that don’t adhere to U.S. standards of human rights and democracy.

When President [Obama] announced the policy shift, on a few occasions,
[Trump] said that he supported the engagement. One time, I think he was
in a debate in Miami, a primary, and he said something along the lines
of, “Come on, folks, it’s been over 50 years. We’ve got to move on.
We’ve got to try something else.” But then about six weeks before the
election, he began to tailor his message much more to the conservatives
and the hardliners in the community. He said, “Unless the Cubans take
steps to,” and I think he said, “to provide for more political freedoms
and religious freedoms, then I’m going to reverse everything.” Mike
Pence said that as well shortly before and maybe after the election.

But having said that, [Trump’s policies regarding Cuba are] just not
clear. There are a number of individuals who worked on [Trump’s]
transition team, who are involved in the administration, who have been
very focused the last 15-20 years on enforcing the embargo, on
tightening the embargo, on making life as hard and difficult for the
Cuban government. Those people are certainly weighing in very heavily on
the policy. A policy review is ongoing, but it is unclear when they’ll
be done with that and what the outcome will be. I imagine an important
consideration will be the change in government that I mentioned previously.

Knowledge@Wharton: When you met people in Havana, what did you hear from
them about how they expect relations with the U.S. to shape up?

Arnavat: Shortly after the announcement of the policy shift, something
like 97% of the Cuban people expressed they were in favor of the
engagement, and of reestablishing diplomatic relations, etc. This makes
sense, because the more Americans that travel to Cuba and invest in
Cuba, the greater the economic benefits to the Cuban people in general.

Everyone is concerned that in fact, the policy will reverse, that there
will be fewer people visiting, fewer people making investments, as a
result of a decrease in remittances that are used as seed capital to
start new businesses on the island. Even if you stay at a state-owned
hotel, you hire private taxis, and you eat in private restaurants that
are allowed under Cuban law. So a lot of people who are private
individuals are in fact benefitting because of the increase in travel
between the U.S. and Cuba. And they’re very concerned about that not
occurring

Source: Should U.S. Companies Hit ‘Pause’ on Doing Business in Cuba? –
Knowledge@Wharton
knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-business-should-hit-pause-on-new-u-s-cuba-ties/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/should-u-s-companies-hit-pause-on-doing-business-in-cuba/feed/ 0
Retired military officials ask Trump to continue normalization process with Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/retired-military-officials-ask-trump-to-continue-normalization-process-with-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/retired-military-officials-ask-trump-to-continue-normalization-process-with-cuba/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:41:10 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138488 Retired military officials ask Trump to continue normalization process
with Cuba
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Sixteen retired senior military officers are asking the Trump
administration to continue the process of normalization with Cuba for
the sake of U.S. national security and stability in the region.

“The location of Cuba in the Caribbean and proximity to the US make it a
natural and strategically valuable partner on issues of immediate
concern, including terrorism, border control, drug interdiction,
environmental protections, and emergency preparedness,” the retired
officers stated in a letter that was for National Security Adviser Lt.
Gen. H.R. McMaster and made public on Thursday.

The retired officers indicated that ensuring economic stability on the
island was beneficial to the United States for security reasons.

“We acknowledge the current regime must do more to open its political
system and dialogue with the Cuban people. But, if we fail to engage
economically and politically, it is certain that China, Russia, and
other entities whose interests are contrary to the United States’ will
rush into the vacuum,” the letter said. “We have an opportunity now to
shape and fill a strategic void.”

Six of the 16 letter-signers traveled to Havana from March 14-17 at the
invitation of the Cuban government and met with officials from the
Foreign Ministry as well as representatives from the Energy,
Agriculture, Trade, and Foreign Investment ministries. The group also
visited the Port of Mariel and met with 12 Ministry of Interior
officials — a gathering not previously disclosed. The MININT is in
charge of domestic security but also of the Cuban intelligence services.

The Cuban officials provided “a significant hour and a half Power Point
brief on their security concerns and their thoughts on cooperation with
the United States,” Stephen A. Cheney, a retired brigadier general in
the U.S. Marine Corps, said. “A pretty interesting group of active
military folks.

“Some questioned why we did not meet with dissidents, but this was not
the purpose of this trip but to listen to government people, have an
idea of ??how it works and what their concerns are.”

The letter seeks to influence the administration while it is still
reviewing Cuba policy, an exercise spearheaded by the National Security
Council. The Trump administration “must take into account all national
security factors under consideration” and not look at the current policy
“simply as something that Obama did and because Obama did it, you hate
it,” Cheney said.

The main concern from the national-security standpoint, he added, is a
migration crisis if the island’s economy worsens, a possibility that “at
90 miles from our coasts, does not do us any favors.”

“If they feel desperate, they are going to reach out to those we would
rather not want,” added retired Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, in reference
to the growing role of China, Russia, and Iran in the region.

Cheney highlighted the level of cooperation with Cuba on issues like
anti-drug efforts but said that part of the “frustration” of the Cuban
government is that the routine meetings to continue these mechanisms of
cooperation have been canceled by the Trump administration, “not out of
a policy change but because the people are not there.”

Cheney also said the Trump administration could lift trade and financial
restrictions, such as in agriculture, to the benefit of U.S. companies.
“Clearly the embargo has not worked. We have to look for new actions if
we want to increase our security,” said retired Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw.

The trip and the missive were coordinated by the American Security
Project (ASP), a non-partisan organization of which several of the
retired officials who signed the letter are members of — Cheney is its
executive director. According to an ASP statement, the trip was
organized by Scott Gilbert, a member of its board and a lawyer of
contractor Alan Gross, who was jailed in Cuba for five years and
released on Dec. 17, 2014.

Among those who signed the letter are retired Gen. James T. Hill, who
headed the U.S. Southern Command from 2002-2004 and retired Admiral
Robert Inman, who held senior positions in the intelligence services
under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Several signers of the letter including, McGinnis; retired Major Gen.
Paul Eaton; retired Rear Admirals Jamie Barnett and Michael Smith; and
retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis publicly supported Hillary Clinton
during the presidential campaign.

Source: Retired military officials ask Trump to continue normalization
process with Cuba | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article145847939.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/retired-military-officials-ask-trump-to-continue-normalization-process-with-cuba/feed/ 0
Estrategias del gobierno cubano en el enfrentamiento al lavado de dinero, los capitales ilícitos, el terrorismo y la proliferación de armas http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/estrategias-del-gobierno-cubano-en-el-enfrentamiento-al-lavado-de-dinero-los-capitales-ilicitos-el-terrorismo-y-la-proliferacion-de-armas/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/estrategias-del-gobierno-cubano-en-el-enfrentamiento-al-lavado-de-dinero-los-capitales-ilicitos-el-terrorismo-y-la-proliferacion-de-armas/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:31:42 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=176926 Estrategias del gobierno cubano en el enfrentamiento al lavado de
dinero, los capitales ilícitos, el terrorismo y la proliferación de armas
18 Abril, 2017 9:25 pm por René López Benítez

La Lisa, La Habana, René López, (PD) El Consejo de Estado, mediante el
Decreto-Ley No. 317, dispuso la “Estrategia de Prevención y Detección de
Operaciones en el enfrentamiento al Lavado de Activos, al Financiamiento
del Terrorismo, a la Proliferación de Armas y al Movimiento de Capitales
Ilícitos”, con fecha 7 de diciembre de 2013.

El Consejo de Ministros estableció el Decreto No. 322, “De la Dirección
General de Investigación de Operaciones Financieras, sus Funciones y
Estructura”, del 30 de diciembre de 2013.

Los dos decretos, publicados en la Gaceta Oficial de la República de
Cuba, Edición Extraordinaria No. 8 de 23 de enero de 2014, no tienen
transcendencia para el ciudadano común.

El Estado y Gobierno cubanos reiteradamente se han manifestado contra la
Lista de Países que apoyan al Terrorismo, instrumento expedido por el
Departamento de Estado del Gobierno de Estados Unidos de América. El
fundamento que incrimina a la parte cubana está dado en el asilo y
protección brindado a personas prófugas de la justicia norteamericana
por graves delitos criminales y a miembros de movimientos armados como
Los Macheteros, ETA, IRA, narco-guerrilleros Colombianos y otros.

Desde los años 60, el gobierno cubano suministró financiamiento, armas y
logística a muchos de esos grupos armados, algunos de los cuales
desistieron de sus acciones violentas, se incorporaron a procesos
democráticos y en varios casos obtuvieron victorias electorales.

Otro tema que atenta contra Cuba es el apoyo político a gobiernos con
marcada proyección terrorista como Libia, Siria, Irán, Irak y Corea del
Norte.

Es de destacar que en los últimos años la parte cubana ha dado muestra
de haberse alejado de estas prácticas en Latinoamérica. Como garante del
proceso de dialogo concluido en La Habana, contribuyó a los acuerdos de
paz entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP.

El tema del lavado y desvío de dinero llama la atención en los últimos
años. Producto de algunos desfalcos a gerencias, programas y entidades
norteamericanas, el destino de significativas sumas después de transitar
por bancos internacionales, principalmente del área del Caribe, ha sido
entidades bancarias y financieras no bancarias de origen cubano, extremo
que ha sido probado en procesos penales seguidos en las cortes
estadounidenses contra criminales asociados a estas acciones, vinculados
a las estafas al Medicare, hipotecas inmobiliarias, seguros, etc.

También ha habido desvío de otras fuertes sumas de dinero de cubanos que
viajan a ese país y regresan a Cuba con un capital sustancial.

Toda esta vinculación ha sido rechazada por la parte cubana.

El Banco Central de Cuba dispuso mediante su Resolución No. 51-2013 de
15 de mayo del 2013, normas generales para la detección y prevención en
operaciones de enfrentamiento al lavado de activos, al financiamiento al
terrorismo y movimientos de capitales ilícitos, con el fundamento de
evitar el mal uso de las entidades bancarias y financieras no bancarias
cubanas.

El Consejo de Estado, con el interés de preservar la seguridad
ciudadana, así como los compromisos y convenios de la ONU, ha declarado
que la prevención es el elemento fundamental en el enfrentamiento a los
nocivos flagelos que hacen proliferar estas acciones criminales.

Con un importante fundamento de acción, el Consejo de Estado dispuso el
Decreto-Ley 316 del 7 de diciembre del 2013, que modificó la Ley No. 62,
Código Penal y la Ley No. 88, la Ley contra Actos de Terrorismo,
alegando atemperarse a compromisos internacionales asumidos por el
Estado y el Gobierno cubanos. No ha habido divulgación en los órganos de
prensa cubanos sobre este particular.

Funcionarios de Estados Unidos y Cuba se reunieron en La Habana para
revisar la implementación de los acuerdos bilaterales en materia
migratoria de 1994. En este encuentro se trató el intercambio
humanitario del ciudadano norteamericano Alan Gross y los cuatro
procesados y sancionados por espionaje en Estados Unidos. Este espacio
de diálogo pudiera tomarse para constituir un mecanismo permanente de
análisis y consulta bilateral en materia de fuentes criminales de desvío
de dinero y terrorismo. Ambas partes podrían quedar satisfechas de
lograr la pretensión y de hecho el monitoreo y colaboración jurídica. En
el caso que nos ocupa está prevista en la Metodología para la
tramitación de solicitudes de cooperación jurídica internacional y notas
verbales, adoptada mediante la Instrucción No. 214, del 27 de marzo de
2012, con independencia de los conductos del Ministerio de Relaciones
Exteriores y de instituciones policiales, contralorías, etc.

Esta propuesta será rechazada de plano por facciones que continúan la
apuesta por el rechazo a la estabilidad de las relaciones plenas.

Sería oportuno señalar que para lograr la pretensión y sustanciación de
conversaciones sobre este tema, las partes deben arribar despojadas de
agendas contentivas de demandas y reclamos históricos, resultado de
cincuenta y tantos años de confrontaciones. Solo lograrían apartarse de
la realidad y las necesidades.

Retomando el Decreto-Ley No. 317, este establece objetivos sobre el
fundamento de implementar compromisos internacionales, creación de
estructuras de gestión, control, investigación y análisis de la
información y establecer nuevas bases legales de prevención y ejecución
de los elementos previstos. Establece claramente los sujetos sometidos,
teniendo en cuenta la proliferación de entidades y personal vinculado a
estas de carácter estatal, gubernamental, ministerial o gerencial, estos
últimos en lo referente a la Ley de Inversiones Extranjeras, modificada
sustancialmente.

Se creó la Dirección General de Investigaciones de Operaciones
Financieras, siendo el Banco Central de Cuba quien actúa como autoridad
rectora, subordinada al Superintendente, sin afectar en lo más mínimo
las funciones de los Organismos de Control de la Contraloría General de
la República y las Direcciones Integrales del Ministerio del Interior.

Se requiere diligencia y responsabilidad en el pleno conocimiento de
clientes radicados y promotores de operaciones, derivándose del análisis
de Operaciones Sospechosas, Registro de Operaciones en Efectivo, Otros
Depósitos, así como el Régimen de Sanciones Financieras y la Prevención
y Enfrentamiento.

Para todo el funcionamiento procesal de estas regulaciones se dispone la
constitución del Comité Coordinador para la Prevención y Enfrentamiento,
presidido por presidente del Banco Central de Cuba, sustituido en su
ausencia por el superintendente. Integran el Comité, representantes de
la Fiscalía General de la República, el Ministerio del Interior, el
Ministerio de Justicia, el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, la
Oficina Nacional de la Administración Tributaria, así como otros
expertos de órganos y organismos de la Administración Central del Estado.

La Contraloría General de la República tiene facultades rectoras en la
ejecución del Decreto-Ley, que establece un término de sesenta (60) días
naturales para que los jefes de los organismos que integran el sistema
dispongan de normas procesales para su ejecución.

Un tema escabroso fue el referente al papel de suministrador de armas
por parte del gobierno cubano al de Corea del Norte, violando normas de
prohibición adoptadas por el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas.

La referida violación fue detectada materialmente al cruce de un buque
por la Zona del Canal de Panamá. El gobierno panameño dispuso mediante
su sistema jurídico la imposición de una multa de mil dólares a la
tripulación norcoreana y el correspondiente procedimiento criminal para
algunos.

Funcionarios y peritos del sistema de ONU procedieron a la investigación
del hecho en cuestión. Se conoció que el gobierno cubano aportó los
elementos reclamados por los investigadores, sin determinar los
responsables de la autorización y ejecución del suministro.

El gobierno de Panamá presentó serias reservas contra la ejecutoria
procesal del gobierno cubano. El asunto en cuestión se articuló como una
violación grave dentro del tema Terrorismo de Estado.

El Consejo de Ministros (Gobierno) dispuso mediante el Decreto No. 322,
la Reglamentación del Decreto-Ley No. 317, en lo referente a la
Dirección General de Investigaciones de Operaciones Financieras,
referente a sus funciones y estructura, con una marcada subordinación a
la legislación de ONU sobre el particular, entre ellas, las resoluciones
Nos. 126-99 y 1323-2001, del Consejo de Seguridad, información y
listados de identificaciones de sujetos, circulados a organismos
naciones e internacionales, en el marco de sus competencias.

Se impone el conocimiento y dominio control de las estructuras del Banco
Central de Cuba, (Decreto-Ley No. 172, modificado por el Decreto-Ley No.
294; Sobre bancos e instituciones financieras no bancarias (Decreto-Ley
No. 173); estructura y organización de la Banca Internacional Cubana
(Decreto-Ley No. 181); sobre el otorgamiento de licencias a bancos e
instituciones financieras no bancarias (Resolución No. 24-1999 del
presidente del Banco Central de Cuba); sobre el procedimiento de
otorgamiento de tarjetas como medios de pago (Resolución No. 64-1999,
del presidente del Banco Central de Cuba); Procedimiento sobre Licencia
de Interrelación Financiera en la Zona Especial de Mariel, (Resolución
No. 872-2013 del presidente del Banco Central de Cuba); Compendio de
Licencias Operaciones otorgadas al Banco de Crédito y Comercio (Bandec),
Banco Popular de Ahorro, Banco Nacional de Cuba, Banco Industrial de
Venezuela, Banco de Inversiones S.A., Banco Metropolitano S.A. Banco
Exterior de Cuba, Banco Financiero Internacional, Banco Internacional de
Comercio S.A. Estos bancos mantienen relaciones financieras no bancarias
con otras instituciones de origen cubano y extranjeras radicadas en Cuba
y en el exterior.

Se actualiza la política crediticia a sectores alternativos de la
economía cubana. El Banco Central de Cuba mantiene el control de las
negociaciones de la deuda externa y la deuda bilateral y multilateral.

Indiscutiblemente, la política y proyección del gobierno cubano en
relación con el terrorismo y el terrorismo de estado fue reestructurada
o rediseñada ajustándose a normas internacionales. La inclusión en la
Lista de Países Vinculados al Terrorismo es motivo bastante y suficiente
para tomar medidas que justifiquen salir del monitoreo que ejecuta el
Departamento de Estado.

La celebración de las cumbres de la CELAC ha sido utilizada por la parte
cubana para probar su proyección democrática, siendo ponente de la
Declaración de Región Libre de Enfrentamientos. Haber logrado un espacio
fuera de la OEA ha sido utilizado como elemento probatorio de cambio de
estrategia.
dr.renelopez@yahoo.es; René López
Tomado del blog Referencia Jurídica

Source: Estrategias del gobierno cubano en el enfrentamiento al lavado
de dinero, los capitales ilícitos, el terrorismo y la proliferación de
armas | Primavera Digital –
primaveradigital.org/cubaprimaveradigital/estrategias-del-gobierno-cubano-en-el-enfrentamiento-al-lavado-de-dinero-los-capitales-ilicitos-el-terrorismo-y-la-proliferacion-de-armas/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/estrategias-del-gobierno-cubano-en-el-enfrentamiento-al-lavado-de-dinero-los-capitales-ilicitos-el-terrorismo-y-la-proliferacion-de-armas/feed/ 0
The Secrets of Secretismo http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-secrets-of-secretismo/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-secrets-of-secretismo/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:37:07 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138468 The Secrets of Secretismo

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 16 April 2017 — The term secretismo
(secretiveness), to refer to the absence or delay of certain information
of public interest in the Cuban official media, began to be used first
among critics of the system, until it came to appear in the speeches of
the highest officials of the government.

The list of what the official media has never reported, or only reported
with an inexplicable delays, deserves a thorough study, which in
addition to filling thousands of pages, would serve to better understand
the country’s most recent history.

Among the headings to organize the list of the omitted would be: deaths,
destitutions, desertions, economic failures, military defeats,
diplomatic fiascos, serious damage to nature, consequences of mistakes
made, and even data on the rates of suicides, divorces or emigration,
along with references to the country’s debt or to the decrease in Gross
Domestic Product. All this and more has fallen into that black hole of
disinformation.

The temptation to offer some examples would lead us to mention, among
other pearls, the forced relocation of peasants from the Escambray in
the 1960s, the disastrous effects of the whim of trying to produce 10
million tons of sugar in 1970, the collapse of the military operation in
Granada in 1983, the consequences that the epidemic of polyneuritis
brought in the most difficult years of the Special Period, and more
recently the clinical causes of Fidel Castro’s death.

The response that has often been given to criticism of secretismo has
ranged from the most tenacious justification, based on being a country
threatened by the most powerful power in the world, to the pretense of
blaming the mid-level cadres.

It has been this way since the days when party ideologue Carlos Aldana
pontificated on the need to have “critical, militant and creative
journalism,” right up to our time when Raúl Castro himself advised
before the parliament: “It is necessary to put on the table all the
information and the arguments that underlie each decision and step, to
suppress the excess of secretismo to which we have habituated ourselves
during more than 50 years of enemy encirclement.”

These self-critical pretenses have had the peculiarity of appearing in
cycles, which has given the permanent impression of being on the eve of
an always timid and incomplete opening. The journalistic guild has been
perhaps the most victimized with these frequent promises, made in
Congresses of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) or in informal
meetings with the press.

When it seems that “now we are going to end the secretismo” the promise
of promulgating a new electoral law disappears, the head of the
commission in charge of implementing the Party’s guidelines disappears,
and the sale of premium gasoline is suspended without any media of the
official press daring to review or comment on what happened.

Even the euphemism of using the word “secretismo” to refer to what
strictly must be called censorship, only serves to cover up what is
supposed to be revealed. It is a crime of linguistic injury whose result
lies in keeping in obscurity what outwardly is illuminated.

Source: The Secrets of Secretismo – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-secrets-of-secretismo/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-secrets-of-secretismo/feed/ 0
Cuba and Venezuela: And God Created Them… http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cuba-and-venezuela-and-god-created-them/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cuba-and-venezuela-and-god-created-them/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:03:07 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138447 Cuba and Venezuela: And God Created Them… / Cubanet, René Gómez Manzano

Cubanet, René Gómez Manzano, Havana, 5 Abril 2017 — In recent days, the
absence of a true rule of law has become evident in the two countries of
“Socialism of the 21st Century,” an absence that reached the highest
levels of arbitrariness and injustice: Cuba and Venezuela. In the second
of these the iniquity took place at the highest level, the
Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

The brand new Chavista magistrates ruled: “As long as the contempt and
invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persist, this
Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly
by this Chamber or by the body that it designates.” In short, the court
replaced the parliament with itself.

And in passing, the High Court also withdrew immunity from the country’s
parliamentary deputies. It was a coup d’etat pure and simple; only not
one undertaken by the military or the congressional branch, but by the
judicial. Of course, it didn’t happen on the judges’ own initiatve, but
because Maduro ordered it, because it is already known that the supposed
independence of that power is now a fiction in the homeland of the
“Liberator,” Simon Bolivar.

The voices of protest did not hold back: in Venezuela, National Assembly
President Julio Borges called the shameful ruling “trash” and ripped it
up in front of the television cameras. The protests of students and
others who disagree began. At the international level, the Permanent
Council of the Organization of American States was convened, and Peru
withdrew its ambassador from Caracas. Even complacent the mediators
Torrijos, Fernandez and Rodríguez Zapatero rejected the gross maneuver.

But not only democracy supporters weighed in. A character as little
suspected of being anti-Chavez as the Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa
Ortega (yes, the same person labeled the “Eternal Commander” as “the
most humanist man that has ever existed on the planet” and totally
supported the unjust imprisonment of Leopoldo López) described what
happened in his country as a “rupture of the constitutional order.”

Urgently convened, the Venezuelan Defense Council called on the Supreme
Court to “review” the statements that left Parliament without
functions. The obedient magistrates, in a fulminating manner, applied
“what I meant to say was…”

In Cuba, on the other hand, recent illegality had a lower level, in both
directions of the word. Lady in White Lismerys Quintana Ávila, also
urgently, was subjected to a spurious trial and sentenced to six months
in prison — the maximum allowed penalty — by a docile Municipal Court.

As a precedent for this injustice, we must remember the new trick that
the political police use against these admirable women: At the outset,
they impose a fine for a misdemeanor that does not exist. After the
refusal to pay the illegally imposed penalty, the defendant (in this
case, Lismerys) is taken to a Municipal Court to be tried.

Now the offense charged is “breach of obligations arising from the
commission of misdemeanor,” and is provided for in article 170 of the
current Penal Code.Under this provision, “anyone who fails to comply
with the obligations arising from a resolution that has exhausted its
legal process, issued by a competent authority or official, relating to
contraventions” may be punished.

According to the final sentence of that rule, “if before the sentence is
pronounced, the accused meets the obligations derived from that
resolution, the proceedings will be archived.” The purpose of this,
obviously, was not to establish a mechanism to send one more person to
prison, but to dissuade her from not paying the imposed pecuniary penalty.

But it is already known that, in Cuba, “whoever made the law, set the
trap.” In the case of someone who disagrees and says so, any
misrepresentation of the correct sense of the rules is valid for the
Castro regime’s authorities. What real chance to pay the fine had
Lismerys or her loved ones if she were detained and the latter did not
know what her situation was?

We know that the repressor who “cared for her” (who calls himself
“Luisito”, but whose real name is known (unusual in itself) — Ariel
Arnau Grillette) was truthful in the text messages with which he
harassed this Cuban mother. We know what they said thanks to the
inventiveness of the brave fighter Angel Moya Acosta: “the desicion to
send you to prision is in my hands,” he wrote. A phrase in which we do
not know what to admire more: his creative spelling or the confidence
with which he says what everyone knows, but usually shuts up about …

However, what is decisive in this case is not what the murky State
Security intended, but the submission of a court to the design of that
repressive body. This is how the “organs of justice” of Cuba and
Venezuela, once again, have become brothers in ignominy.

Translated by Jim

Source: Cuba and Venezuela: And God Created Them… / Cubanet, René Gómez
Manzano – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/cuba-and-venezuela-and-god-created-them-hemosoido/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cuba-and-venezuela-and-god-created-them/feed/ 0
Depression, the “Silent Epidemic” Also Attacks in Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/depression-the-silent-epidemic-also-attacks-in-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/depression-the-silent-epidemic-also-attacks-in-cuba/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 12:26:54 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138380 Depression, the “Silent Epidemic” Also Attacks in Cuba
April 3, 2017
By Pilar Montes

HAVANA TIMES — A recent medical event in Havana and particular
indicators I picked up on in TV programs and social projects, stirred my
curiosity about the impact of depression in Cuba.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO),
depression affects 322 million people worldwide, 18% more than in the
last decade.

Delving into the distribution of this so-called “silent epidemic” in the
world, the WHO says that the relationship between this disease with
rapid changes, war and migration isn’t clear and that this illness is
more closely linked to addictions such as alcoholism and drug abuse.

In Latin America, Brazil is the country with the highest level of
depression, followed by Cuba, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay.

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that over 4%
of the global population suffers from depression and that women, young
people and the elderly are more prone to its crippling effects.

While it’s true that the most immediate causes of depression can be
found in alcohol and drugs, underlying root causes lie in war and
regional conflicts, violence including domestic violence and families
being separated because of migration or economic needs.

“Alcohol consumption is our number one problem,” explains Dr. Alejandro
Garcia, director of the Mental Health Community Center in Central
Havana, the most densely populated muncipality in Cuba, with over
160,000 inhabitants in a total area of 5.44km2.

“They aren’t alcoholics as such, but people who consume alcohol in an
irreponsible manner, which leads to family violence, accidents and
behavioural problems.”

Garcia explained that the response to this health problem is founded on
a three-way strategy which consists in promoting health awareness and
preventing diseases, medical care, as well as rehabilitation, the latter
being closely monitored.

Meanwhile, Conner Gorry, the author of an article published by MEDICC
magazine, which publishes articles by US and Cuban scientists, claims
that the statistics could hit us hard: in Cuba, suicide is one of the
ten leading causes of death and 25% of people who go to health centers
are diagnosed with depression.

In her article published in 2013, Gorry claims that this health
situation “isn’t any different to the global health trend, especially in
Europe, the United States and Canada.” However, Cuba is facing specific
challenges and since 1995 put its mental health system at the service of
the community with professionals available to provide a coordinated
national response to this problem.

Cuban experts agree that one of the greatest challenges the island is
experiencing right now is the rapid increase in its aging population,
Gorry points out. Life expectancy in Cuba is around 80 years, and the
gross birth rate is the lowest within the region and has a lower
fertility rate than what’s needed to replace the generations.

Based on government data, it’s estimated that by 2030, more than a third
of the population will be aged 60 years old and over, he said. Cuba is
on its way to becoming one of the planet’s eleven oldest countries.

The population sector to be most affected by depression and other health
problems that derive from this disease are precisely the elderly. A lot
of the time, the cause for this stems from families being separated, due
to migration and even due to domestic violence.

War, conflict and migration
This situation isn’t exclusive to Cuba, not in the least, it is also
evident in developed countries, where some don’t have universal health
care and the country’s wealth is becoming more and more concentrated in
fewer hands.

Ever since I was little, I was always struck by the fact that the
highest rates of suicide took place in the richest countries with the
highest levels of education.

The richest part of the planet make up 70-80% of the 800,000 annual
suicides that take place in high-earning countries, according to a
recent WHO report.

In spite of the increasing threat of this “silent epidemic” in the
world, national health systems continue to dedicate pitiful resources to
dealing with and treating this health problem.

And it’s obvious that when a human being suffers failure in their life
goals, being mentally and professionally capable of reaching these
goals, depression and despair take root.

In the biological, psychological and social make-up of every individual,
changes to any of these components can influence everything and this
disease appears as a result.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, there are 100 million
new cases of depression in the world every year. Primarily in adults,
depression is suffered by 15% of men and 24% of women. The greater
percentage is understood to be in the 18-45 year old age group, which is
when people are at the most productive stage of their lives.

People live and are driven by their interest to satisfy their needs,
ranging from the most basic or simple to the most complex on a spiritual
level, while also interacting with the rest of society, where questions
like how to live, what the meaning of life is and even if it’s worth
living or not come up.

One of the authors of the Pan American Health report, Dan Chisholm,
warned at the Geneva Assembly that the majority of people who suffer
from depression don’t have access to treatment.

“The number of people who access treatment in these countries is
extremely low, it’s less than 5%. Around 95% of those suffering from
depression don’t seek help and this is truly worrying,” the expert said.
——
Mental health in Cuba: some statistics

Psychiatric hospitals: 17
Admittanceto psychiatric hospitals per 100,000 inhabitants: 0.3
Psychiatric consultations: 899,075
Psychiatric consultations per 100,000 inhabitants: 79
Psychiatrists: 1051
Psychiatric interns: 167
Child psychiatrists: 297
Child psychiatrist interns: 72
Graduated Health psychiatrists (2010-2011): 26
Health psychiatrist interns: 49
Graduated psychiatrists in 2012: 491
Graduated psychiatrists since 19959: 28,745
*Mental Health Community Centers: 101

Sources: Annual Health Statistics, 2012. Public Health Ministry, Cuba;
*Dr. Carmen Borrego, director of the National Mental Health and Drug
Abuse Program, MINSAP

Source: Depression, the “Silent Epidemic” Also Attacks in Cuba – Havana
Times.org – www.havanatimes.org/?p=124535

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/depression-the-silent-epidemic-also-attacks-in-cuba/feed/ 0
Cuba’s elderly adrift on the streets http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cubas-elderly-adrift-on-the-streets/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cubas-elderly-adrift-on-the-streets/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 12:17:41 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138365 Cuba’s elderly adrift on the streets
By: Mario J. Penton and Luz Escobar
Posted: 04/2/2017 4:00 AM
Miami Herald/Tribune News Service

HAVANA — At 67, struggling against the challenges that come with aging
and a meagre pension, Raquel — an engineer who in her own words was
“formed by the Revolution” — survives by sifting through garbage every
day in search of recyclable products.

Hands that at one time drew plans and measured distances now pick up
cardboard, cans and other discarded containers.

“My life is a struggle from the moment I wake up,” Raquel said.

“My last name? For what? And I don’t want any photos. I have children,
and I once had a life. I don’t want people talking about me,” she said
after agreeing to tell her story.

Digging through garbage as a way to make a living was not part of
Raquel’s plan, but she is not alone. Many within the island’s growing
aging population are struggling with survival in their twilight years.

Cuba has become the oldest country in the Western Hemisphere, according
to official figures, amid an accelerated process that has even surprised
specialists who had not expected the phenomenon to become apparent until
2025.

Facing a pension system that is increasingly nonviable, a harsh economic
recession and an expected impact on social services as a result of the
aging population, the island is confronting one of the biggest
challenges of its history, experts say.

Almost 20 per cent of Cubans are older than 60 and the fertility rate
stands at 1.7 children per woman of child-bearing age.

To counter the aging population, the fertility rate would have to rise
to 2.4 children per woman of child-bearing age. Cuba’s economically
active population shrank for the first time in 2015, by 126,000 people.

“The population aging that is affecting the country leads to a
significant increase in public spending as well as a drop in the
population of the fertile age, which in turn leads to a decrease in the
fertility rate,” said Juan Valdes Paz, a Cuban sociologist who has
written several books on the issue.

Valdes said no government can be prepared for the kinds of demographic
problems Cuba has.

“If there’s no harmony between demographic progress and economic
development, the latter is impacted,” he said.

Government spending on public health per capita in 1999 was 21 per cent
lower than in 1989, economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago said. Official Cuban
figures show that category of spending dropped from 11.3 per cent of the
country’s gross domestic product in 2009 to eight per cent in 2012.

Although Raquel is retired, government pharmacies do not subsidize the
medicine she needs for her diabetes and hypertension. State social
service programs do not serve elderly Cubans who live with relatives or
other presumed caretakers.

“I get a pension of 240 pesos a month,” said Raquel, the equivalent of
less than US$10. “From that money, I have to pay 50 pesos for the Haier
refrigerator the government forced me to buy and 100 pesos to buy my
medicines.”

Cuba has about 300 daytime centres for the elderly and 144 nursing
homes, with a total capacity of about 20,000 clients. Officials have
acknowledged a significant portion are in terrible shape and many
elderly prefer to go into one of the 11 homes across the country run by
religious orders.

They operate thanks to foreign assistance, such as the Santovenia asylum
in the Cerro neighbourhood of Havana.

The state-run daycare centres charge 180 pesos per month and the nursing
homes charge about 400 pesos. Social security subsidizes the payments
when social service workers determine the clients cannot afford to pay
those fees.

Cuba once had one of the most generous and broadest social security
systems in Latin America. But that was largely possible because of the
massive subsidies from the Soviet Union, calculated by Mesa-Lago at
about US$65 billion over 30 years.

“Although the pensions were never high, there was an elaborate system
established by the state to facilitate access to food and other products
at subsidized prices,” the economist said.

“After the Soviet subsidies ended in the early ’90s, pensions remained
at about the same level, but their purchasing power collapsed. In 1993,
a retired Cuban could barely buy 16 per cent of what he could afford in
1989.

By the end of 2015, the purchasing power of retirees remained at barely
half of what it was when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba entered
into the so-called Special Period.”

Raquel is a product of that reality.

“It bothers me when I hear talk of the good services for the elderly,”
she said. “I don’t get any subsidies because I live with my son, his
wife and my two grandchildren. But they have their own expenses and
can’t afford to also pick up all of mine.

“I need new dentures,” she added, “and if you don’t give the dentist a
little gift, they take months or come out bad.”

Other elderly residents on the island echoed Raquel’s sentiments.

“We are two old people living alone, we have no one overseas, so we
receive no remittances,” said Andres, a former cartographer who lives
with his wife Silvia in the central city of Cienfuegos, and now sells
homemade vinegar and other products to make ends meet. “It’s very hard
to get old and live off a US$10 pension when four drumsticks of chicken
cost US$5.

“Last year, I was awarded with a lifetime achievement recognition at
work and then I was laid off,” he said. “I was already retired but
continued to work because we could not live on my pension.”

After Fidel Castro left power in 2006, following a health emergency, the
Raul Castro government began drastic cutbacks in social security
benefits under the rubric of “the elimination of gratuities.”

From the 582,060 Cubans who were receiving social assistance benefits
in 2006, such as disability or special diet funds, the number was
slashed to 175,106 by 2015.

Castro also removed several products from the highly subsidized ration
card, such as soap, toothpaste and matches, forcing everyone to pay far
more for those products when they bought them on the open market.

The government has launched some new programs for the elderly. The
Sistema de Atencion a la Familia (System to Help the Family), for
example, allows more than 76,000 low-income elderly to obtain food at
subsidized prices. That’s a tiny number compared to Cuba’s elderly
population, estimated at more than 2 million in a nation of about 11
million.

Some elderly Cubans also receive assistance from churches and
non-governmental organizations.

“People see me picking up cans, but they don’t know I was a
prize-winning engineer and that I even travelled to the Soviet Union in
1983,” Raquel said.

After retirement, she had to find other ways of making ends meet. She
cleaned the common areas of buildings where military officers lived near
the Plaza of the Revolution until she got too old to handle the work.

“They wanted me to wash the windows of a hallway on the ninth floor.
That was dangerous and I was afraid of falling. I preferred to leave,
even though they paid well,” she said.

Raquel was earning 125 pesos (about US$5) per week — more than half her
monthly pension of 240 pesos.

Raquel said she sells the empty recyclable containers she collects to
state enterprises but would love to be able to sell them to a private
company, instead, to avoid bureaucratic problems and delays.

In the patio of her home, she has created a homemade tool to crush the
empty cans she finds on the streets.

The work can be profitable but competition is stiff and physically
tougher for the elderly and disabled who have to wait in long lines to
sell their products at state enterprises or pay someone else to hold
their spot in line.

“In January, I made 3,900 pesos on beer bottles. But I paid 500 pesos to
hold my spot in line because I can’t just lay down on the floor while I
wait,” she said. “Aluminum also pays well. They pay 40 pesos for a sack
of cans. It’s eight pesos per kilogram.”

Cuba does not have official statistics on poverty.

A 1996 government study concluded 20.1 per cent of the two million
people in Havana were “at risk of not being able to afford a basic
necessity.”

A poll in 2000 found 78 per cent of the country’s elderly complained
their income was not enough to cover their expenses.

The majority of the elderly polled said their main sources of income
were their pension benefits, assistance from relatives on the island and
remittances sent by relatives and friends abroad.

Many elderly now walk the streets in Havana and other cities, selling
homemade candy or peanuts to make ends meet.

Others resell newspapers or pick through garbage for items to sell. The
number of beggars on the streets of Cuba’s main cities has visibly
increased.

For Raquel, the daily struggle is but another chapter of her life.

“I have always been a hard worker because the most important thing is my
family,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me to wear old clothes while I
collect the cans. The one who has to look good is my grandson, who just
started high school.

“The kids in school sometimes make fun of him, but my grandson is very
good and he’s not ashamed of me, at least not that he shows,” she said.
“He always defends me against the mockery.”

— Miami Herald

Source: Cuba’s elderly adrift on the streets – Winnipeg Free Press –
www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/cubas-elderly-adrift-on-the-streets-417886713.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/cubas-elderly-adrift-on-the-streets/feed/ 0
The Thousand Faces of “Journalism” http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-thousand-faces-of-journalism/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-thousand-faces-of-journalism/#respond Sat, 01 Apr 2017 15:06:44 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138360 The Thousand Faces of “Journalism” / Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 March 2017 – An opinion piece
published in recent days by El Nuevo Herald gives me a disturbing
feeling of déjà vu. It is not the subject – overflowing with a number of
articles by different authors – but its focal point, which presents as
adequate a number of superficial and highly subjective assessments to
validate conclusions that in no way reflect the reality it alleges to
illustrate.

With other hues and nuances, it has the same effect in me as the
experience of participating as a guest at a meeting of journalists,
politicians and academics – primarily Americans – held October, 2014 at
Columbia University, just two months before the announcement of the
restoration of relations between the governments of Cuba and the United
States, where the wish to support rapprochement and to substantiate the
need to eliminate the embargo was essentially based on colossal lies.

For example, I heard how the “Raúl changes” that were taking place in
Cuba favored the Cuban people and a process of openness, and I learned
of the incredible hardships that Cubans had to endure as a result of the
direct (and exclusive) responsibility of the embargo, of the fabulous
access to education and health services (which were, in addition to
being easily accessible, wonderful) enjoyed by Cubans, and even the zeal
of the authorities to protect the environment.

To illustrate this last point, an American academic presented the
extraordinary conservation state of the Jardines de la Reina
archipelago and its adjacent waters, including the coralline formations,
as an achievement of the Revolutionary Government. She just forgot to
point out that this natural paradise has never been within reach of the
common Cuban, but is a private preserve of the ruling caste and wealthy
tourists, a fact that explains its favorable degree of conservation.

The Cuba that many American speakers described on that occasion was so
foreign to a Cuban resident on the Island, as I was, that I wondered at
times if we were all really speaking about the same country.

In my view, the question was as contradictory as it was dangerous.
Contradictory, because there is certainly sufficient foundation, based
on realities, to consider the (conditional) suspension of the embargo or
to show partiality for dialogue between governments after half a century
of sterile confrontations, without the need to resort to such gross
falsehoods, especially – and I say this without xenophobic animosity or
without a smack of nationalism – when they are brandished by foreigners
who don’t even have a ludicrous idea of the reality the Cuban common
population lives under or what its aspirations are. Dangerous, because
the enormous power of the press to move public opinion for or against a
proposal is well known, and to misrepresent or distort a reality unknown
to that public, can have dire consequences.

But it seems that such an irresponsible attitude threatens to become a
common practice, at least in the case of Cuba. This is what happens when
overly enthusiastic professionals confuse two concepts as different as
“information” and “opinion” in the same theoretical body.

It is also the case of the article referred to above, that its essence
is the answer to a question that is asked and answered by the author,
using the faint topic of the first anniversary of Barack Obama’s
historic visit to Cuba and some conjectures about the continuity of the
relations between both governments with the new occupant of the White House.

“What repercussions have the normalization of relations between the
United States and Cuba had on the Cuban people?” the writer of the
article asks, and she immediately answers herself by assuming several
suppositions, not totally exempt from logic, but regrettably inaccurate.

“Greater openness to Cuba has undoubtedly meant greater interaction with
the Cuban people through the exchange of information from the thousands
of Americans who now visit the island”, she says. And this is partially
true, but this “exchange of information” about a society as complex and
mimetic, and as long closed off as Cuba’s, is full of mirages and
subjectivities, so it ends up being a biased and exotic vision of a
reality that no casual foreign visitor can manage to grasp.

A diffuse assertion of the article is one that reassures: “Tourism
represents the main economic source for the country, and at the same
time it leverages other sectors related to textiles, construction and
transportation.” Let’s see: It may be that tourism has gained an
economic preponderance for Cuba, but that it has boosted the textile,
construction and transportation sectors is, at the most, a mere
objective, fundamentally dependent on foreign capital investment, which
has just not materialized.

In fact, the notable increase in tourist accommodations and restaurants,
bars and cafes in the private sector is the result not of the tourist
boom itself but of the inadequacy of the hotel and gastronomic
infrastructure of the State. If the author of the article has had
privileged access to sources and information that support such
statements, she does not make it clear.

But if the colleague at El Nuevo Herald came away with a relevant
discovery during her trip to Havana –job related? for pleasure? – it is
that many young people “believe in the socialist model.” Which leads us
directly to the question, where did these young people learn what a
“socialist model” is? Because, in fact, the only thing that Cubans born
during the last decade of the last century have experienced in Cuba is
the consolidation of a State capitalism, led by the same regime with
kleptomaniacal tendencies that hijacked the power and the Nation almost
60 years ago.

About the young people she says that “many are self-employed and
generate enough resources to live well.” There are currently more than
500 thousand people In Cuba with their own businesses, about 5% of the
population, according to ECLAC” [U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin
America and the Caribbean]. This is another slip, almost childish. The
source that originally reports the figure of half a million
self-employed workers belongs to the very official National Office of
Statistics and Information (ONEI), a Cuban Government institution, and
not to ECLAC. This number has remained unchanged for at least the last
two years, as if the enormous migration abroad and the numerous returns
of licenses on the part of the entrepreneurs who fail in their efforts
or who are stifled by the system’s own circumstances, among other
factors, did not make a dent.

But even assuming as true the immutable number of “self-employed” that
the authorities refer to, on what does the writer base her assumptions
that the self-employed generate sufficient recourses to live well? Could
it be that she ignores that that half a million Cubans includes
individuals who fill cigarette lighters, sharpen scissors, recycle trash
(“the garbage divers”), are owners of shit-hole kiosks, repair household
appliances, are roving shaved-ice, peanut, trinket and other knickknack
vendors, and work at dozens of low-income occupations that barely
produce enough to support themselves and their families? Doesn’t the
journalist know about the additional losses most of them suffer from
harassment by inspectors and the police, the arbitrary tax burdens and
the legal defenselessness? What, in the end, are the standards of
prosperity and well-being that allow her to assert that these Cubans
“live well”?

I would not doubt the good intentions of the author of this unfortunate
article, except that empathy should not be confused with journalism. The
veracity of the sampling and the seriousness of the data used is an
essential feature of journalistic ethics, even for an opinion column, as
in this case. We were never told what data or samples were used as a
basis for the article, the number of interviewees, their occupations,
ages, social backgrounds and other details that would have lent at least
some value to her work.

And to top it off, the trite issue of Cuba’s supposedly high educational
levels could not be left out. She says: “While it is true that education
in Cuba is one of the best in the continent, the level of education is
not proportional to income, much less a good quality of life.”
Obviously, she couldn’t be bothered going into the subject of education
in Cuba in depth, and she is not aware of our strong pedagogical
tradition of the past, destroyed by decades of demagoguery and
indoctrination. She also does not seem to know the poor quality of
teaching, the corruption that prevails in the teaching centers and the
deterioration of pedagogy. We are not aware of what comparative patterns
allow her to repeat the mantra of the official discourse with its myth
about the superior education of Cubans, but her references might
presumably have been Haiti, the Amazonian forest communities or villages
in the Patagonian solitudes. If so, I’ll accept that Cubans have some
advantage, at least in terms of education levels.

There are still other controversial points in the text, but the most
relevant ones are sufficient to calculate the confusion the narration of
a reality that is clearly unknown can cause to an unaware reader. It is
obvious that the writer was not up to the task, or is simply not aware
of the responsibility that comes from a simplistic observation. And she
still pretends to have discovered not one, but two different Cubas.
Perhaps there are even many more Cubas, but, my dear colleague: you were
definitely never in any of them.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: The Thousand Faces of “Journalism” / Miriam Celaya – Translating
Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-thousand-faces-of-journalism-miriam-celaya/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/the-thousand-faces-of-journalism/feed/ 0
Qué cambios trajo a Cuba la reanudación de las relaciones con EEUU? http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/que-cambios-trajo-a-cuba-la-reanudacion-de-las-relaciones-con-eeuu/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/que-cambios-trajo-a-cuba-la-reanudacion-de-las-relaciones-con-eeuu/#respond Thu, 30 Mar 2017 18:11:05 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=176158 ¿Qué cambios trajo a Cuba la reanudación de las relaciones con EEUU?
Danilo Maldonado Machado “El Sexto” , artista y activista por los
derechos humanos en Cuba, expone cuál es la situación actual de los
derechos humanos en la isla, en el primer aniversario de la visita de Obama
POR: MARIA ORTIZ
29 MARZO 2017

El artista y activista por los derechos humanos en Cuba Danilo Maldonado
Machado “El Sexto”, está de visita en California, para promover sus
obras y su defensa de los derechos humanos en Cuba, precisamente después
de recuperar su libertad tras pasar 55 días encarcelado en Cuba sin que
se le acuse en un debido proceso legal, y cuando se cumple un año de la
visita de Obama a La Habana.

El grafitero a su vez tiene previsto asistir al Foro por las Libertades
de Oslo (Oslo Freedom Forum) en mayo próximo a denunciar las violaciones
de derechos humanos que se cometen en Cuba.

En diciembre de 2014, El Sexto fue arrestado cuando iba a montar un
performance llamado “Rebelión en la Granja”, con dos cerdos decorados
con los nombres de “Fidel” y “Raúl”. El artista permaneció encarcelado
por 10 meses, sin un juicio. Finalmente fue liberado el 20 de octubre de
2015, debido a la presión de organizaciones que defienden los derechos
humanos.

En 2015, Danilo Maldonado mereció el premio Vaclav Havel, otorgado por
la Fundación para los Derechos Humanos a personas “que participan en la
disidencia creativa, exhiben valor y creatividad para desafiar la
injusticia y vivir en la verdad”, pero solo pudo asistir a recibir el
reconocimiento en 2016.

Esa es una pregunta muy interesante, porque las personas creen que al
comienzo de una relación va a cambiar algo, lo que no tienen en cuenta
es que estamos hablando de las mismas personas que llegaron al poder
matando personas, quitando, usurpando y adueñándose de todo a su
alrededor. Cuando tú ves a un presidente que fue elegido
democráticamente acercarse a este tipo de persona, sencillamente lo que
le está dando es poder o legitimando esa delincuencia.

Pero más que eso, considero que lo más importante que hizo Obama durante
su visita a Cuba es que es el primer presidente de EEUU que visita Cuba
y se reúne con la disidencia, y eso le da un reconocimiento a ese
movimiento por un cambio en Cuba a nivel mundial que antes no tenía. Eso
fue interesante y fue bueno.

Por lo demás, valga la redundancia, no ha favorecido en nada a ninguna
persona, y en materia de derechos humanos, menos.

En enero de este año te liberaron tras 55 días de encarcelamiento en
condiciones brutales que hicieron temer por tu vida, ¿de qué delito te
acusaron para que te arrestaran nuevamente?

En mi caso, por ejemplo, hace apenas tres meses que salí de prisión, por
hacer una obra, por escribir un graffiti.

Son innumerables detenciones, registros, incautaciones, sin ninguna
causa legal, esta última a la que me refiero es precisamente un
encarcelamiento prolongado que ocurre después de la visita de Obama,
después de reanudarse las relaciones entre Cuba y EEUU, y porque me
niego a ser silenciado y dejar de usar mi arte para pedir la libertad
para el pueblo cubano.

Por ejemplo, en la Novena Cumbre Anual de Ginebra para los DDHH y la
Democracia realizada en febrero de 2017, yo hice una denuncia por las
detenciones arbitrarias y sin proceso legal que se realizan en Cuba, y
fue aceptada, ya podemos ver así cómo se puede avanzar en la exigencia
de que cese la impunidad del gobierno de Cuba por reprimir los derechos
humanos.

Maldonado explica que estas denuncias por violaciones de los derechos
humanos, se han realizado caso por caso, hasta el momento él no conoce
que se haya presentado una denuncia colectiva.

En su caso personal, su denuncia fue aceptada por la Corte de Derechos
Humanos en Ginebra, así como la denuncia de Rosa María Payá por el
homicidio no esclarecido de su padre, Oswaldo Payá, el líder opositor
creador del Proyecto Varela y el Proyecto Heredia, que intentaba
realizar un plebiscito para modificar la Constitución de Cuba, y que
estas denuncias permiten influir en las votaciones que sancionan a un
país por sus violaciones de los derechos humanos, porque hasta ahora,
los que representaban a Cuba en estos organismos internacionales eran
designados por el gobierno, eran funcionarios.

Este cambio ocurre en 2011, cuando el gobierno de Cuba elimina el
permiso de salida que era obligatorio para poder salir de Cuba, y esto
es lo que permite se pueda denunciar lo que sucede en Cuba. Hasta ese
momento, solo se conocía la “versión oficial”. Estamos hablando de un
régimen que tiene todo el poder y todo el tiempo para manipular los
hechos y prepararse a presentar un caso favorable de cómo ellos obedecen
todas las reglas sin que nadie los contradiga.

Para poder presentar un caso que desmienta esa versión oficial sostenida
durante años, para poder demostrar que no es cierto que se respeten los
derechos humanos, que se abusa del poder, se requiere preparación,
porque ellos han tenido tiempo y recursos para vender la imagen que
ellos desean.

Ahora ya es posible llegar a un tribunal y acusarlos, y que haya un voto
contra un gobierno, y que si ese tribunal internacional estima que ese
gobierno comete crímenes, también se les haga un proceso penal y que
sancionen a esas personas que ocupan el gobierno de un país por un golpe
de estado y cometen abusos de poder.

Ha sido la fuerza de las denuncias de la comunidad internacional, del
mismo gobierno de EEUU, como en el caso de Alan Gross, lo que ha
permitido que esto suceda. Porque el gobierno de Cuba nunca demostró que
Alan Gross era un espía, aunque lo acusaba de ello y exigió el rescate
de cinco espías cubanos a cambio de liberar a un ciudadano de EEUU
injustamente acusado, sancionado y encarcelado.

¿Por qué insistes que en Cuba hay que enseñar a perder el miedo?

Yo no esperaba la reacción, la reacción que ellos tuvieron fue la que me
demostró la fuerza que puede tener el graffiti, el arte en sí mismo,
para demostrar cómo se violan los derechos humanos en Cuba.

Cuando puse la frase “Se Fue” cuando se murió Fidel, el 26 de noviembre
de 2016, el delito que me acusan es de daños, que se castiga con una
multa, nunca ir a prisión. Y sin embargo, me encarcelan.

Cuando el performance de los cerdos en 2015, ellos me acusaban de
desacato, por faltarle el respeto a la autoridad, pero esto tampoco fue
un proceso legal, porque el performance no se realizó, ellos me detienen
antes de que lo haga, ellos no presentaron una acusación ante un
tribunal, no hubo un juicio, pero lo que sucedió fue una prueba que todo
el proceso fue una detención arbitraria con el objetivo de atemorizar a
un artista, de sancionar una forma de pensar.

Lo peor de todo lo que sucede en Cuba es que esta represión va dirigida
a la forma de pensar, es algo muy abstracto, no es ni siquiera contra la
forma de actuar de una persona, es contra la forma de pensar, algo que
es muy difícil de probar, estamos hablando de que ellos se sienten con
el derecho de pararte en la calle o invadir tu casa sin una orden de
registro y ocupar cuadros, bocetos, una agenda con direcciones y
teléfonos. Ellos se sienten con el derecho de encarcelarte sin poderte
acusar realmente de algo. En el caso del performance de los cerdos,
ellos me encarcelan por mi forma de pensar, porque el performance nunca
se realizó, ellos me detienen y me registran antes de que haga el
performance.

Estamos hablando de un sistema que no quiere que pienses algo diferente
de lo que ellos quieren que pienses, es muy complejo, muy difícil de
probar en un proceso judicial, ante un juez. Estas detenciones
arbitrarias son muy difíciles de verificar, porque nadie te acusa, no
hay un crimen, no te presentan a un juez, porque si hicieran esto,
podrías probar por qué te encerraron en la cárcel, nombrar a un defensor.

Es nefasto, es libre la creación artística, siempre y cuando no sea
contra la Revolución. Más que contra la libertad de expresión, es un
sistema que te castiga por ejercer el derecho a pensar libremente.

¿Cuál fue tu experiencia más positiva durante tu más reciente
encarcelamiento?

Que pude ver la Cuba que actualmente está en las prisiones, que pude
hablar con personas que están encarceladas sin que nadie las acuse, que
pude ser testigo de que en las prisiones de Cuba están detenidas
personas que en cualquier otro lugar del mundo estarían libres, y que
las personas que están en el gobierno pueden hacer esto impunemente, sin
que tengan que responder por eso.

Source: ¿Qué cambios trajo a Cuba la reanudación de las relaciones con
EEUU? | La Opinión –
laopinion.com/2017/03/29/cuales-son-los-cambios-que-trajo-a-cuba-la-reanudacion-de-relaciones-con-eeuu/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/que-cambios-trajo-a-cuba-la-reanudacion-de-las-relaciones-con-eeuu/feed/ 0
Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-more-reliant-on-the-us-than-ever/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-more-reliant-on-the-us-than-ever/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:00:40 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138316 Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 27 de Marzo de 2017 – 16:38 CEST.

The best way to appreciate how that Cuba’s economy today depends on the
US more than ever before in its history is to engage in a very simple
mental exercise: imagine that Washington banned travel, remittances and
packages to the island, except for medicines and special visits by
Cubans to see very sick relatives.

What would happen? Can anyone even make a coherent assessment of a
scenario like this? Many shudder at even the notion. This is not going
to happen, but the mere thought places many’s hair on end – especially
that of the Castroist political and military elite. Political science
also encompasses possible situations and potential scenarios.

For 60 years the regime’s propaganda has been vociferously claiming that
before 1959 Cuba was a pseudo-colony of the US. Of course, media and
academic centers on the island have been prohibited from researching or
publishing anything about how, in fact, “revolutionary” Cuba was much
more dependent on the USSR than “bourgeois” Cuba ever was on the US.
And, what’s worse, now it depends more than ever on American cash,
especially in the wake of the devastating economic crisis in Venezuela.

Hypocrisy in the regime’s realpolitik and its two-faced policies are
evident. On the one hand, it waves the flag and stirs up enmity against
the “Empire” and the “criminal blockade”, while simultaneously
supplicating, wheeling and dealing, and spreading its tentacles behind
the scenes, both in political circles on the left, and within the US
business community, to encourage travel and commercial flights to Cuba,
and for Congress to lift the embargo so that they can obtain access to
international loans and foreign investment.

The latter, getting loans, cash and investments, is vital to the
dictator and his military junta. The plans of the Government and elite
of the Communist Party (PCC) to pass power to a new generation of
leaders, military and civilians, starting in 2018, call for stabilizing
financial support that they currently lack.

More American money than ever

Between remittances, packages and trips to Cuba from the US, in 2016
Cuba brought in more than 7 billion dollars. According to experts that
figure has already surpassed the amount from Venezuelan subsidies. It is
triple the revenue from the Cuban tourist industry, almost double the
value of Cuban exports in 2016, which did not reach 4 billion, and 15
times the value of sugar exports. Incidentally, this last harvest in
2016 yielded only one third of the sugar produced back in 1925 (5.1
million tons).

From 1902 to 1958, although nearly 80% of Cuban sugar was exported to
the US (at rates higher than those on the world market) and the rest of
the Island’s trade was largely with its northern neighbor, there were
two big differences to the situation today:

There were not, as there are today, almost 2,000,000 Cubans in the US,
furnishing the country with more money than all of Cuba’s exports,
including sugar, nickel, tobacco, rum and pharmaceutical products,
combined. The funds obtained from goods exported from the island in 2016
came to half of total monies received from the US.
There were private enterprises in Cuba that generated the bulk of its
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for a per capita GDP higher than Spain’s
and almost equal to that of Italy.
Genetic parasitism

The problem is that, unlike a market economy, Cuba’s is parasitic, due
to the congenital defect of its Marxist-Leninist statism, which is
contrary to human nature, such that it can only work if it is subsidized
from abroad; first by Moscow, and then by Caracas. Now, with the crisis
in Venezuela, the Cuban economy is sustained by “counterrevolutionaries”
in Miami. The profound irony is that the cash that meets most of Cuba’s
needs today is “imperialist” in origin.

This had never happened before. According to official figures, in the
50s the US acquired 57% of Cuba’s total exports. That is, the Island
sold almost half of its exportable goods to the rest of the world,
including cattle, coffee, pineapple and other products that the country
was later unable to export when the Castros rose to power. In that
pre-Castro decade Cuba produced 60,000 tons of coffee annually. In 2016
it produced a grand total of 5,687 tons. Incredible, but true.

With regards to dependence on the USSR, renowned Cuban economist
Professor Carmelo Mesa-Lago offers some impressive figures. In 1989,
Cuba received from the Soviet Union (and, to a far lesser degree, other
allied countries) 98% of its oil, 80% of its machinery, 57% of its
chemicals, and 53% of its food. 78.6% of all imports also came from
those Communist nations.

According to the few official figures available in this regard, since
Cuba joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in 1972,
between 75 and 80% of its total trade (exports and imports) was with the
USSR and other Communist countries. The highpoint occurred between 1984
and 1991, during the zenith of Soviet subsidies, when Moscow paid Castro
45 cents for a pound of sugar – while the price on the world market was
at 4 or 5.

What few people know around the world is that Cuba got the lion’s share
of these supplies for free, as it never paid its huge trade deficits. In
fact, it racked up a debt of 35 billion dollars with Moscow. 90% was
pardoned in 2014 by Vladimir Putin, aware that they would never collect.
He did try to force Castro to pay at least 3.5 billion, however. But
he’s not going to get a penny.

I still have a yellowing paper teletype, an AFP report from back in
1995, indicating that between 1984 and 1991 Cuba had accumulated a trade
deficit of more than 16.08 billion dollars during those 8 years, an
average of over 2 billion per year, with a spike to 2.74 billion in
1989. And almost all that unbalanced trade was with the USSR.

Total subordination

Furthermore, the island received billions of dollars in weapons of every
type: planes, tanks, artillery, ships, rockets, vehicles, guns, and
equipment, allowing it to wield the largest and most powerful army in
Latin America after Brazil. Cuba even received 42 nuclear missiles (able
to reach Washington and New York), which put the world on the brink of
nuclear war in 1962.

But what takes the cake is that in the 80s (until 1986), then Economy
Minister Humberto Perez told me, off the record, that Moscow was selling
to capitalist countries almost three million tons of crude oil that Cuba
did not use, from its annual quota allocated by the CMEA, and then
sending the money to Havana, these funds exceeding the amount generated
by all its sugar mills.

We can clearly see that Cuba was not a pseudocolony of the USSR, but an
outright one, as we can add that the largest apparatus for intelligence
and repression in Latin America, the Castros’, was organized and trained
by the KGB, with the help of East Germany’s neo-Nazi Stasi. All for free.

Despite its trade dependence on the US before 1959, Cuba was never as
subordinate to its northern neighbor as it was later on the USSR, 19,000
km away, beyond the Mediterranean.

Given the parasitism endemic to Castroist socialism, Cuba today depends
on the US so profoundly that if the scenario described at the outset of
this article were to come to pass, the nation would come to an utter
standstill. It would be another Cambodia, with people eating out of
communal pots. Without “Yankee” money, Castroism would be unsustainable.

*In an earlier version of this text the caption stated that the image
was from Havana. The picture was, in fact, taken in Washington, DC.

Source: Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1490629128_29947.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-more-reliant-on-the-us-than-ever/feed/ 0
Cardenal Ortega confirma que hijo de Raúl Castro encabezó negociación con EEUU http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cardenal-ortega-confirma-que-hijo-de-raul-castro-encabezo-negociacion-con-eeuu/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cardenal-ortega-confirma-que-hijo-de-raul-castro-encabezo-negociacion-con-eeuu/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:23:46 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175959 Cardenal Ortega confirma que hijo de Raúl Castro encabezó negociación
con EEUU

El purpurado cubano fue emisario en 2014 del triángulo de negociaciones
secretas Cuba-EE.UU-Vaticano, pero ahora publica parte de sus memorias
donde confirma que fue el delfín Alejandro Castro quien representó a
Cuba en esas conversaciones.
Mientras continúa la cuenta regresiva para que Raúl Castro se retire del
poder en Cuba el próximo año, el cardenal cubano Jaime Ortega, emisario
que involucró al Papa Francisco en el deshielo Cuba-Estados Unidos, ha
confirmado que el hijo de Castro fue el representante enviado por su
padre a las negociaciones secretas con el gobierno de Barack Obama.

Un despacho al respecto de la Agencia France Press señala que el coronel
Alejandro Castro Espín, de 51 años, “es un poderoso funcionario que pasa
prácticamente por desconocido en Cuba, pero la revelación de su papel en
el acercamiento refuerza su imagen de cara al relevo de Raúl Castro en
la presidencia en febrero de 2018”.

La confirmación la hizo Ortega el 16 de septiembre pasado en Nueva York,
pero en un marco más discreto, mientras que ahora la revista católica
cubana Espacio Laical dice que Ortega prepara un libro donde describe
detalladamente aquel proceso y el papel por él desempeñado, y que ha
compartido con la publicación las primicias de esa información, a partir
de la conferencia que dictó en aquella fecha y lugar, en un evento
organizado por la ONG Concordia.

El cardenal cubano admite que el Papa se involucró en el proceso por la
petición que le hiciera a él el senador demócrata antiembargo Patrick
Leahy en marzo del 2014, en vísperas de una visita de Obama a El
Vaticano y cuando las conversaciones secretas todavía se centraban en la
liberación en Cuba del subcontratista estadounidense Alan Gross y de
tres espías cubanos de la Red Avispa condenados en 2001 en EE.UU.
También asegura que La Habana pidió la intervención del mitrado.

El cardenal se regocija en el texto de haber transmitido a tiempo al
Papa la carta que le enviara Leahy solicitando que intercediera con el
Pontífice para que este mediara en el caso de los presos, y luego una
carta de Francisco a cada uno de los presidentes, así como “también de
conocer y transmitir a cada uno de ellos el mensaje que el otro le enviaba”.

Ortega dice que a su regreso a Cuba visitó “al presidente Raúl Castro
para hacerle presente el mensaje del presidente Obama y su esperanza en
la mejoría de relaciones entre los dos países antes del término de su
mandato”.

“Después hubo silencio total y las conversaciones continuaron en Canadá
con el Sr. Ricardo Zúñiga (asesor de Obama para América Latina) al
frente de la delegación americana y el coronel Alejandro Castro Espín al
frente de la delegación cubana, hasta que el acuerdo se firmara en el
Vaticano por representantes de los dos gobiernos ante el Secretario de
Estado de la Santa Sede. En esa ocasión acordaron que se haría público y
efectivo el día 17 de diciembre de 2014, fiesta de cumpleaños del papa
Francisco”.

Ya en abril de 2016 el Diario Las Américas había publicado una nota
donde se afirmaba el rol principal que jugó Alejandro Castro en esta
negociación.

Entonces el periodista Rui Ferreira, citando a dos fuentes en el
gobierno y una en la prensa oficial, aseguraba que el primogénito de
Castro fue el único interlocutor por Cuba.

Aunque su cargo formal es de “asesor”, Castro Espín controla la poderosa
Comisión de Defensa y Seguridad Nacional, una entidad supervisora de
los organismos centrales que responde al Presidente del Consejo de Estado.

Castro Espín ha aparecido junto a su padre en todos los encuentros de
éste con Obama desde la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá, en abril de
2015; estuvo en la reunión que sostuvieron en Nueva York al margen de la
Asamblea General de la ONU en septiembre de 2015, y acompañó al General
en la bienvenida a Obama en el Palacio de la Revolución de La Habana en
marzo de 2016.

La idea de involucrar al Papa

Los autores del libro Diplomacia encubierta con Cuba, William Leogrande
y Peter Kornbluh, han explicado, en un artículo publicado por Mother
Jones, que la idea de involucrar al Papa fue del senador demócrata por
Illinois Dick Durbin, uno de los miembros del Congreso interesados en
dar a Obama el capital político para avanzar hacia el deshielo con Cuba.

Precisan que el razonamiento se basaba en que como primer pontífice de
América Latina, Francisco conocía bien a Cuba. Además, después de
acompañar al Papa Juan Pablo II en su visita a la isla en 1998,
Francisco, entonces arzobispo asistente de Buenos Aires, había escrito
un pequeño libro sobre el viaje, “Diálogos entre Juan Pablo II y Fidel
Castro”. Y el Vaticano tenía credibilidad con La Habana debido a su
constante oposición al embargo.

[Con información de AFP]

Source: Cardenal Ortega confirma que hijo de Raúl Castro encabezó
negociación con EEUU –
www.martinoticias.com/a/efe-cardenal-refuerza-imagen-de-alejandro-castro-de-cara-a-relevo-de-raul/141724.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cardenal-ortega-confirma-que-hijo-de-raul-castro-encabezo-negociacion-con-eeuu/feed/ 0
Doubtful Meat From Brazil Continues To Be Sold In Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/doubtful-meat-from-brazil-continues-to-be-sold-in-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/doubtful-meat-from-brazil-continues-to-be-sold-in-cuba/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:05:35 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138265 Doubtful Meat From Brazil Continues To Be Sold In Cuba / 14ymedio,
Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 21 March 2017 — Cubans know a lot about
adulterations. For decades they have grappled with the “diversion of
resources” [i.e. stealing] from state stores and the practice of state
employees acquiring products elsewhere at low prices, bringing them into
the stores and selling them at high prices and keeping the profit for
themselves. Hence the scandal of the altered meat that involves two
Brazilian companies has hardly surprised anyone on the Island.

This Monday Brazilian meat products continued to be sold in Cuba’s
retail network, where the frozen chicken of the brands Frangosul and
Perdix, from the companies JBS and BRF respectively, continue to be on
sale. According to an investigation by the Federal Police of Brazil,
both these companies adulterated these products.

In the case of chicken, the authorities have warned that it is more of
an economic fraud, consisting of adding water to the product to increase
the weight, without any risks to health.

The results of what was called “Carne Fraca” (“weak meat” in
Portuguese), confirmed the suspicions of those who warned that something
“doesn’t smell right” in the world’s largest exporter of these products.
Each year Brazil exports beef worth roughly 5.5 billion dollars and
chicken worth roughly 6.5 billion. This business represents 7.2% of
Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product.

So far, no Cuban store or market has withdrawn the Brazilian frozen food
products. On the digital sites that offer a wide range of foods that
emigrants abroad can order for their families on the island, Brazilian
beef and chicken remain on sale.

The official media spread the news of the scandal, focusing on the
possible repercussions for President Michel Temer’s government. The
Ministry of Public Health did not discuss the issue when asked by 14ymedio.

Cuba imports more than 80% of the food it consumes. For 2017, the bill
for these purchases is expected to exceed $1.75 billion, $82 million
more than the estimate for the previous year.

Each year, more than 120,000 tonnes of chicken meat are bought in the
international market, most of it hindquarters, also called “dark
parts.” Alberto Ramírez, president of the Cuban Society of Poultry
Producers (SOCPA), recently confirmed to the official press that
“[domestic] meat production is practically zero.”

In 2014, several representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture visited
Brazil to inspect the facilities of the dairy and beef plant managed by
JBS in Mato Grosso do Sul, with a view to importing its products to the
Island. Another 25 facilities approved for trade with Cuba are located
in the states of Tocantins, Rondonia, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul,
Goiás, Mato Grosso and Sao Paulo

The United States and Brazil are the countries supplying the greatest
amount of frozen products to the Cuban market. Faced with the lack of
supply and the lack of variety, chicken has become one of the most
common foods at the table of Cubans. Only the wealthy can afford beef.

“I came to buy a piece of top round steak,” said a retired woman at the
butcher’s in Plaza de Carlos III on Monday. She said, “it is a luxury
that I can only allow myself from time to time.” The meat on offer in
that market comes from Brazil, according to an employee who preferred
anonymity, but who, so far, had received “no order to stop selling it.”

On display in the meat case are several packages with prime ground beef,
stew meat, top round and tip steak. No merchandise specifies where it
comes from, but local workers confirm that it has been bought from
Brazil. The customers look longingly at the display; meat remains a
forbidden delicacy for many, even if it is wrapped up in
investigations and fraud.

“Here we work with Brazilian meat,” explains one of the waiters at the
restaurant next to the Riviera cinema, formerly El Carmelo, on 23rd
Street. In their menu they offer sirloin, fillet mignon, fried beef
tender and ropa vieja (shredded beef in sauce), this last a very
traditional dish that is in high demand among tourists.

The select El Palco market, whose main customers are diplomats and
foreigners living in Havana, is also “especially stocked with Brazilian
meat,” points out one of the local cashiers.

Some 27 people have been arrested in Brazil, and Federal Police
Commissioner Mauricio Moscardi warned of a corruption network inside the
government that allowed adulterated meat to be legalized. That chain of
infractions involved officials of the Brazilian Democratic Movement
Party, to which President Temer belongs.

The main Brazilian meat producers added chemicals to meats that were
“rotten” or unfit for human consumption. An extensive network of bribe
payments purchased approval from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“They used acids and other chemicals, in some cases carcinogenic, to
disguise the physical characteristics of the rotten product and its
smell,” Moscardi explained. They treated the meat with vitamin C to give
it a more “appetizing” color, along with levels of preservatives well
above those allowed by health authorities.

Representatives of both companies have denied allegations by police
authorities, but the alarm has spread in the international market and
the companies’ stock prices have tumbled sharply.

“BFR ensures the high quality and safety of its products and guarantees
that there is no risk for its consumers,” said one of the largest food
companies in the world with more than 30 brands in its portfolio, Sadia,
Perdigão, Qualy, Paty, Dánica, Bocatti or Confidence.

The Chilean Ministry of Agriculture announced, a few hours ago, that it
would accept no more imports from the Brazilian beef market. Minister
Carlos Furche explained that the measure is temporary “until the
Brazilian authorities know exactly what facilities are being
investigated, and of those facilities which have exported to the world
and Chile,” he said.

The Chinese authorities have responded unceremoniously. The Government
banned all such imports and prevented meat already shipped from being
unloaded in its ports. Last year the Asian country imported 1.6 billion
dollars from Brazilian meatpackers.

Europe has slowed shipments from JBS and BRF. This week the European
Commissioner for Health Affairs, Vytenis Andriukaitis, will travel to
Brasilia and the agenda revolves around the food scandal.

Cuban customers who are learning about the news coming from Brazil are
beginning to connect the dots. “The chicken no longer came with the
quality of before and had a lot of ice,” complains Luisa Cordoves, a
housewife in Central Havana who says that “right now it’s better to buy
the chicken boxes that come from United States, because the product
tastes better. ”

She believes that the scandal will not dissuade domestic consumers from
acquiring these products. “People have many needs and there is no
choice: you take it or leave it.”

Source: Doubtful Meat From Brazil Continues To Be Sold In Cuba /
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/doubtful-meat-from-brazil-continues-to-be-sold-in-cuba-14ymedio-zunilda-mata/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/doubtful-meat-from-brazil-continues-to-be-sold-in-cuba/feed/ 0
La carne brasileña continúa vendiéndose en la Isla después del escándalo de adulteración http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-brasilena-continua-vendiendose-en-la-isla-despues-del-escandalo-de-adulteracion/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-brasilena-continua-vendiendose-en-la-isla-despues-del-escandalo-de-adulteracion/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:40:33 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175795 La carne brasileña continúa vendiéndose en la Isla después del escándalo
de adulteración
DDC | La Habana | 21 de Marzo de 2017 – 15:35 CET.

Este lunes productos cárnicos de Brasil continuaban a la venta en la
Isla, entre ellos el pollo congelado de las marcas Frangosul y Perdix,
de las compañías JBS y BRF respectivamente, las mismas que están
implicadas en el escándalo por adulterar sus productos, según dio a
conocer la web 14ymedio.

En la Plaza de Carlos III o en el selecto mercado Palco (donde compran
mayoritariamente diplomáticos y extranjeros), continuaba la venta de
carne brasileña, así como el consumo en restaurantes como el antiguo El
Carmelo, a un costado del cine Riviera.

La llamada Operación Carne Débil, de la Policía Federal brasileña, dada
a conocer el pasado viernes, destapó que varias empresas, entre las que
se encuentran JBS y BRF, adulteraban la carne que vendían en el mercado
interno y externo.

De acuerdo con la BBC, las adulteraciones de la carne incluían cambiar
la fecha de vencimiento, “maquillar” su aspecto, inyectar agua para
aumentar su peso o usar químicos para disimular su mal olor.

“Usaban ácidos y otros productos químicos, en algunos casos
cancerígenos, para disimular las características físicas del producto
podrido y su olor”, dijo Mauricio Moscardi, jefe de la Policía Federal
de Brasil, en conferencia de prensa.

La investigación en el país sudamericano echó luz sobre una trama en la
que inspectores sanitarios supuestamente recibían sobornos de los
frigoríficos para autorizar la venta de alimentos no aptos para ser
consumidos.

Más de 30 personas fueron detenidas y los 21 frigoríficos investigados
fueron clausurados temporalmente, según reportó AFP.

De acuerdo con 14ymedio, a pesar de tenerse conocimiento del caso y de
que los medios oficiales de la Isla se han hecho eco de lo sucedido,
ninguna tienda o mercado cubanos ha retirado los congelados brasileños.

Tampoco las autoridades sanitarias de la Isla han emitido comunicado
alguno o alerta.

China, Chile, la Unión Europea (UE) y Corea del Sur, por su parte,
cerraron este lunes total o parcialmente sus mercados a las carnes
brasileñas, tras lo sucedido, según informó AFP.

Cuba importa más del 80% de los alimentos que consume.

En 2014, Alberto Ramírez, presidente de la Sociedad Cubana de
Productores Avícolas (SOCPA), afirmó que la producción nacional de carne
era “prácticamente nula” y que la carne de pollo se importaba “de
mercados más estables como los de EEUU, Brasil y Argentina”, alcanzando
las 120.000 toneladas.

Autoridades del Ministerio de Agricultura cubano visitaron Brasil en
2014 para inspeccionar las instalaciones de la planta de productos
lácteos y carne de vacuno gestionada por JBS, en Mato Grosso do Sul, con
vistas a importar esos productos a la Isla, así como instalaciones
en los estados de Tocantins, Rondonia, Río de Janeiro, Rio Grande do
Sul, Goiás, Mato Grosso y Sao Paulo.

Source: La carne brasileña continúa vendiéndose en la Isla después del
escándalo de adulteración | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1490106907_29805.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-brasilena-continua-vendiendose-en-la-isla-despues-del-escandalo-de-adulteracion/feed/ 0
La carne dudosa de Brasil se sigue vendiendo en Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-dudosa-de-brasil-se-sigue-vendiendo-en-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-dudosa-de-brasil-se-sigue-vendiendo-en-cuba/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:41:48 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175782 La carne dudosa de Brasil se sigue vendiendo en Cuba
El pollo congelado de dos de las compañías que adulteraban productos
está disponible aún en la red minorista
ZUNILDA MATA, La Habana | Marzo 21, 2017

Los cubanos saben mucho de adulteraciones. Durante décadas han lidiado
con el desvío de recursos en las tiendas estatales y la sustitución de
productos que los empleados realizan para obtener ganancias. De ahí que
el escándalo de la carne alterada que envuelve a dos empresas brasileñas
apenas haya sorprendido en la Isla.

Este lunes los productos cárnicos del gigante sudamericano continuaban a
la venta en la red minorista, donde tiene una gran presencia el pollo
congelado de las marcas Frangosul y Perdix, de las compañías JBS y BRF
respectivamente, las dos que maquillaron y adulteraron sus productos
según una investigación de la Policía Federal de Brasil.

En el caso del pollo, las autoridades han advertido que se trata más de
un fraude económico, consistente en agregar agua al producto para
aumentar el peso, sin riesgo para la salud.

Los resultados de la Operación “Carne Débil” (Carne Fraca, en portugués)
confirmaron las sospechas de quienes señalaban que algo “no olía bien”
en el principal exportador de estos productos en el mundo. Cada año
Brasil exporta carne de res por unos 5.500 millones de dólares y pollo
por 6.500 millones. El negocio representa el 7,2% de su Producto Interno
Bruto (PIB).

Hasta el momento ninguna tienda o mercado cubanos ha retirado los
congelados provenientes de ese país. En los sitios digitales que ofrecen
una amplia gama de alimentos para que los emigrados abastezcan a sus
familiares en la Isla, se mantienen en oferta la carne de res y los
pollos brasileños.

Los medios oficiales difundieron la noticia del escándalo, centrándose
en las posibles repercusiones sobre el Gobierno de Michel Temer. El
Ministerio de Salud Pública no ha emitido ninguna advertencia y
empleados del Ministerio de Comercio Interior evitaron pronunciarse
sobre el tema al ser preguntados por 14ymedio.

Cuba importa más del 80% de los alimentos que consume. Para 2017 se
prevé que la factura de esas compras supere los 1.750 millones de
dólares, 82 millones más que el estimado para el pasado año.

Cada año se compran en el mercado internacional más de 120.000 toneladas
de carne de pollo, la mayoría cuartos traseros, también llamados “partes
oscuras”. Alberto Ramírez, presidente de la Sociedad Cubana de
Productores Avícolas (SOCPA), confirmó recientemente a la prensa oficial
que “la producción [nacional] de carne es prácticamente nula”.

En 2014 varios representantes del Ministerio de Agricultura visitaron
Brasil para inspeccionar las instalaciones de la planta de productos
lácteos y carne de vacuno gestionada por JBS, en Mato Grosso do Sul, con
vistas a importar esos productos a la Isla. Otras 25 instalaciones
aprobadas para comerciar con Cuba se ubican en los estados de Tocantins,
Rondonia, Río de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Goiás, Mato Grosso y Sao Paulo

Estados Unidos y Brasil son los países con más presencia de productos
congelados en el mercado cubano. Ante el desabastecimiento y la falta de
variedad en la oferta, el pollo se ha convertido en uno de los alimentos
más comunes en la mesa de los cubanos. Solo los más acomodados pueden
permitirse la carne de res.

“Vine a comprar un pedazo de cañada”, aseguraba una jubilada en la
carnicería de la céntrica Plaza de Carlos III este lunes que opina que
“es un lujo que solo uno puede darse de vez en cuando”. La carne en
oferta en ese mercado proviene de Brasil, según aclaró un empleado que
prefirió el anonimato, pero hasta el momento no habían recibido “ninguna
orden de parar la venta”.

En la vidriera se ven varios paquetes con picadillo de primera, trozos
de carne, bistec y bola de res en exhibición. Ninguna mercancía
especifica el lugar de donde proviene, pero los trabajadores del local
confirman que ha sido comprada al gigante sudamericano. Los clientes que
pasan miran con deseo las ofertas, la carne sigue siendo un manjar
prohibido para muchos, aunque esté envuelta en cuestionamientos y fraudes.

“Aquí trabajamos con carne brasileña”, aclara uno de los camareros de la
cafetería a un costado del cine Riviera, antiguo El Carmelo, en la
céntrica calle 23. En su carta se ofertan solomillo, filete miñón, vaca
frita y ropa vieja, este último un plato muy tradicional que tiene una
alta demanda entre los turistas.

El selecto mercado El Palco, donde compran mayoritariamente diplomáticos
y extranjeros residentes en La Habana, también “está surtido
especialmente con carne brasileña”, puntualiza una de las cajeras del lugar.

En Brasil han sido arrestadas unas 27 personas y el comisario de la
Policía Federal Mauricio Moscardi advirtió de la existencia de una red
de corrupción dentro del Gobierno que permitía legalizar la carne
adulterada. En esa cadena de infracciones estarían implicados
funcionarios del Partido del Movimiento Democrático Brasileño, al que
pertenece el presidente Temer.

Las principales productoras cárnicas brasileñas agregaron productos
químicos a carnes que estaban “podridas” o no eran aptas para el consumo
humano. Un extenso entramado de pagos de sobornos compraba la aprobación
por parte del Ministerio de Agricultura.

“Usaban ácidos y otros productos químicos, en algunos casos
cancerígenos, para disimular las características físicas del producto
podrido y su olor”, explicó Moscardi. Colocaban desde vitamina C para
dar un color más “apetitoso” hasta niveles de conservantes muy por
encima de los permitidos por las autoridades sanitarias.

Representantes de ambas empresas han negado las acusaciones de las
autoridades policiales, pero la alarma se ha extendido en el mercado
internacional y sus cotizaciones en bolsa se han desplomado
estrepitosamente.

“BFR asegura su alta calidad y la seguridad de sus productos y garantiza
que no hay ningún riesgo para sus consumidores”, advertía una de las
compañías de alimentos más grandes del mundo y que cuenta con más de 30
marcas en su cartera, entre ellas, Sadia, Perdigão, Qualy, Paty, Dánica,
Bocatti o Confidence.

El Ministerio de Agricultura de Chile anunció hace unas horas la
interrupción de las importaciones del mercado brasileño de carne bovina.
El titular de la cartera, Carlos Furche, explicó que la medida tiene un
carácter temporal “hasta no saber con exactitud por las autoridades
brasileñas sobre cuáles son las plantas que están siendo investigadas, y
de esas plantas cuáles son las que han exportado al mundo y a Chile”,
comentó.

Las autoridades chinas han respondido sin miramientos. El Gobierno
prohibió todas las importaciones de ese tipo e impidió que carnes ya
embarcadas sean descargadas en sus puertos. El año pasado el país
asiático importó 1.600 millones de dólares desde los frigoríficos
brasileños.

Europa ha frenado los despachos procedentes de JBS y BRF. Esta semana
viajará a Brasilia el Comisario de Asuntos de Salud de Europa, Vytenis
Andriukaitis, y la agenda gira en torno al escándalo de los alimentos.

Los clientes cubanos que van enterándose de las noticias provenientes de
Brasil empiezan a atar cabos. “El pollo ya no venía con la calidad de
antes y tenía mucho hielo”, se queja Luisa Cordovés, ama de casa del
municipio Centro Habana y quien asegura que “de un tiempo a esta parte
es mejor comprar las cajas de pollo que vienen de Estados Unidos, porque
el producto tiene mejor sabor”.

Cree que el escándalo no va a disuadir a los consumidores nacionales de
adquirir estos productos. “La gente tiene muchas necesidades y no hay
opción: lo tomas o lo dejas”.

Source: La carne dudosa de Brasil se sigue vendiendo en Cuba –
www.14ymedio.com/nacional/dudosa-Brasil-sigue-vendiendo-Cuba_0_2184981485.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/la-carne-dudosa-de-brasil-se-sigue-vendiendo-en-cuba/feed/ 0
‘A partir de ahora no tienes nombre’ – ser prisionero en Villa Marista http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/a-partir-de-ahora-no-tienes-nombre-ser-prisionero-en-villa-marista/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/a-partir-de-ahora-no-tienes-nombre-ser-prisionero-en-villa-marista/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:24:49 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175754 ‘A partir de ahora no tienes nombre’: ser prisionero en Villa Marista
Este jueves será lanzado a la venta el testimonio del inglés Stephen Purvis
Lunes, marzo 20, 2017 | CubaNet

MIAMI, Estados Unidos.- El testimonio del arquitecto inglés Stephen
Purvis que será lanzado a la venta el próximo 23 de marzo cuenta cómo
este hombre que llegó a Cuba como empleado de una compañía extranjera
terminó en el lugar más temido por los cubanos: los calabozos de Villa
Marista.

El periódico The Guardian publicó un resumen de lo que será este libro,
a la venta ya en la web.

A le habían ofrecido un trabajo como director de desarrollo con Coral
Capital, una empresa de inversión y comercio, y decidió mudarse a la
isla con su esposa.

Su tarea era buscar oportunidades de joint venture con el Gobierno
cubano. Los proyectos incluyeron el primer campo de golf que se
construyó en la isla desde la revolución de 1959, y la remodelación del
hotel Saratoga.

“La última vez que vi a Purvis en La Habana fue en 2011, pocas semanas
antes de su arresto, en una fiesta de Año Nuevo (yo había sido el
corresponsal de la BBC en Cuba entre 2002 y 2007), pues la llegada del
Año Nuevo es una gran cosa en Cuba, en parte porque coincide con el
aniversario de la revolución castrista y allí estaban nada menos que dos
de las hijas del general Raúl Castro“, señala el periodista Stephen
Gibbs para The Guardian.

Era el mismo período en que proliferaban los arrestos a empresarios
extranjeros en Cuba, entre ellos los canadienses Sarkis Yacoubian y Cy
Tokmakjian. Raúl Castro había desatado una “ola anticorrupción”.

“La sensación de un destino inminente estaba creciendo día a día”, dice
Purvis, que admitiría haber sido “un idiota” por no dejar la isla cuando
todavía podía. No lo decidió así porque estaba convencido de que no
había hecho nada malo.

Sin embargo, el 8 de marzo de 2012 lo detuvieron. Una flota de Ladas sin
matrícula se detuvo estrepitosamente frente a su casa al amanecer. Se lo
llevaron esposado, la cabeza entre rodillas, a una casa anónima de
estilo art decó cerca del aeropuerto. Allí, fue acusado de actuar un
“enemigo del Estado”.

Purvis fue aconsejado de no contratar a un abogado y cooperar
inmediatamente. Luego fue llevado a Villa Marista, uno de los cuarteles
de la Seguridad el Estado cubana.

Uno de los oficiales de allí, cuando le informó de las reglas del lugar,
le dijo: “A partir de ahora no tienes nombre” y le asignó el número 217.

En un fragmento del libro sobre la entrada a Villa Marista se lee:

“Este lugar fue originalmente destinado a ser un seminario, pero ahora
no hay ningún signo de ninguna inspiración celestial. Dios ha abandonado
el lugar y está en las manos del lado oscuro. Aquí es donde se encierra
a los presuntos agentes de la CIA, donde los funcionarios purgados se
arrepienten y donde todos los cubanos temen pisar. Aquí es donde el
contratista estadounidense Alan Gross fue interrogado durante meses y
meses para tratar de probar que era un espía y no un activista judío.
Esta es su Lubyanka, su cuartel general de la Gestapo. Estos toscos y
verdes bloques están diseñados para extraer confesiones, reales o
fantásticas, para paralizar mentalmente a los enemigos del Estado. Tiene
una temible reputación de tortura psicológica”.

“Salimos a un amplio corredor… Me empujan a una habitación de lado y me
ordenan poner todas mis cosas encima de un colchón repugnante, sucio,
manchado de mierda. Una almohada manchada con sangre es tirada en la
parte superior. Miro fijamente la sangre con incredulidad, una ola de
desesperación dentro de mí…”

“Me arrastro, ahora casi catatónico. El guardia tiene una cadena larga
que lo rodea y un enorme bastón de goma bamboleante que golpea contra la
pared mientras marcha. Todo está en silencio excepto por el goteo del
agua, el chirrido de las botas de los guardias y el sollozo de un hombre
en una celda…”

Source: ‘A partir de ahora no tienes nombre’: ser prisionero en Villa
Marista CubanetCubanet –
www.cubanet.org/actualidad-destacados/partir-de-ahora-no-tienes-nombre-ser-prisionero-en-villa-marista/

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/a-partir-de-ahora-no-tienes-nombre-ser-prisionero-en-villa-marista/feed/ 0
Stephen Purvis o la vida de un extranjero en Cuba… hasta que la Seguridad toca a la puerta http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/stephen-purvis-o-la-vida-de-un-extranjero-en-cuba-hasta-que-la-seguridad-toca-a-la-puerta/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/stephen-purvis-o-la-vida-de-un-extranjero-en-cuba-hasta-que-la-seguridad-toca-a-la-puerta/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:30:43 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175740 Stephen Purvis o la vida de un extranjero en Cuba… hasta que la
Seguridad toca a la puerta
marzo 19, 2017

El hogar de Purvis era una villa hermosa de los años 50, pronto llena
con sus cuatro niños. Los sábados los pasaba en la piscina de un club en
la playa. Pero el poderoso título de sus memorias, Close but No Cigar,
es su propia admisión de lo mal que la vida puede terminar bajo un
régimen comunista.
Muchos recuerdan a inicios del nuevo milenio a Stephen Purvis en las
recepciones de la embajada británica en La Habana con sus más de seis
pies, cabello gris recortado, vaso de ron en la mano, una amplia sonrisa
y buenas historias que contar, escribe Stephen Gibbs en The Guardian en
un extenso artículo que narra la odisea del arquitecto inglés en La Habana.

A Purvis le encantó Cuba, donde escapaba de la ordenada y aburrida vida
capitalista en Wimbledon. Le habían ofrecido un trabajo como director de
desarrollo con Coral Capital, una empresa de inversión y comercio, y
decidió mudarse a la isla con su esposa, dice Gibbs en el artículo
titulado ‘From now on you have no name’: life in a Cuban jail (A partir
de ahora no tienes nombre: la vida en una cárcel cubana) .

Coral Capital era una de varias pequeñas firmas extranjeras -casi todas
encabezadas por individuos extravagantes y aventureros- que se
instalaban en Cuba cuando el país buscaba socios internacionales después
del colapso de la Unión Soviética.

El trabajo de Purvis era buscar oportunidades de joint venture con el
Gobierno comunista cubano. Los proyectos planificados incluyeron el
primer campo de golf que se construyó en la isla desde la revolución de
1959, y la remodelación de un hotel antes glamoroso, el Saratoga.

Cuenta Gibbs que los Purvis se instalaron en una villa hermosa de los
años 50 de la capital, pronto llena con sus cuatro niños. Los sábados
los pasaba en la piscina de un club en la playa. Purvis también se metió
en el teatro, produciendo en La Habana el espectáculo de danza cubana
Havana Rakatan, que se exhibió con éxito por varios años en Londres.

Nadie, por supuesto, imaginó que esos días de gloria terminarían tan
abruptamente, con Purvis encarcelado en lo que él describe como un
“zoológico” montado para meter a los enemigos del Estado. Pero así
resultó. El poderoso título de sus memorias, Close but No Cigar, que
saldrá a la venta este 23 de marzo, es su propia admisión de lo mal que
la vida puede terminar bajo un régimen comunista.

“La última vez que vi a Purvis en La Habana fue en 2011, pocas semanas
antes de su arresto, en una fiesta de Año Nuevo (yo había sido el
corresponsal de la BBC en Cuba entre 2002 y 2007), pues la llegada del
Año Nuevo es una gran cosa en Cuba, en parte porque coincide con el
aniversario de la revolución castrista y allí estaban nada menos que dos
de las hijas del general Raúl Castro”, señala Gibbs en su artículo.

Para entonces, el terror cundía entre los extranjeros haciendo negocios
en la isla. Muchos estaban susurrando que este probablemente sería su
último fin de año en Cuba. Todos conocían a alguien que había estado
atrapado en una misteriosa pero cada vez más amplia serie de arrestos.
Dos destacados canadienses, Sarkis Yacoubian y Cy Tokmakjian, habían
sido detenidos desde el verano. Un conocido empresario chileno, que
antes se jactaba de ser amigo de Fidel Castro, había sido condenado en
rebeldía a 20 años de cárcel. Y el jefe de Purvis, Amado Fakhre, el CEO
británico-libanés de Coral Capital, había sido encarcelado en octubre.

“La sensación de un destino inminente estaba creciendo día a día”,
recuerda Purvis. Asegura que sería el primero en admitir que fue “un
idiota” por no dejar el país cuando todavía podía. Pero estaba
convencido de que no había hecho nada malo.

Ninguno de los extranjeros encarcelados había sido formalmente acusado
de nada, pero se suponía que estaban atrapados en la promesa del general
Castro de presuntamente “erradicar la corrupción”.

En el 2010, cientos de cubanos, incluyendo ministros y altos ejecutivos,
habían sido detenidos o despedidos. La red se estaba ampliando a los
extranjeros, que también estaban infringiendo la ley al pagar a sus
empleados cualquier bonificación por la izquierda, o incluso comprarles
el almuerzo.

Purvis, que admite pagar una pequeña pensión a un ex empleado, está
convencido de que los arrestos masivos no eran en realidad sobre la
corrupción, sino la torpe purga de la vieja guardia de Fidel Castro, que
estaba siendo reemplazada por una nueva camarilla (compuesta sobre todo
de ex militares) aliada de su hermano Raúl.

El 8 de marzo de 2012 vinieron por él. Poco después del amanecer, una
flota de Ladas sin chapa se detuvo estrepitosamente frente a su casa.
Purvis fue llevado esposado, su cabeza forzada entre sus rodillas, a una
casa anónima de estilo art deco cerca del aeropuerto. Allí, fue acusado
provisionalmente de ser un “enemigo del Estado”. Se le aconsejó no
contratar a un abogado y cooperar inmediatamente. De acuerdo con eso,
fue llevado a la tristemente conocida cárcel de la Seguridad cubana
conocida como Villa Marista, en lo que se describió, eufemísticamente,
como “instrucción adicional”, describe Gibbs.

“Villa”, como es conocida por los disidentes cubanos, es un antiguo
seminario católico en las afueras de La Habana convertido por los
castristas en centro de interrogatorio en 1963, donde utilizan técnicas
perfeccionadas por la KGB. Eventualmente, dicen, todo el mundo “canta”
en Villa. Purvis cree que él y su jefe son los únicos ingleses que han
sido llevados allí. Durante meses, se convirtió en “Prisionero 217”. Su
vida fue totalmente controlada por un hombre conocido como “el
instructor”. Pasaba casi cada hora del día en una celda del tamaño de un
colchón, con otros tres internos (uno de los cuales creía que era un
informante del gobierno). Los cuatro compartían una letrina abierta.

Las terribles condiciones sólo fueron atenuadas por los “juegos
psicológicos” de los interrogatorios que tuvieron lugar día y noche.
Purvis dice que fue interrogado durante horas, a menudo sobre los
detalles de las vidas de otros extranjeros en la isla. La intención era
hacer que informara sobre cualquiera que pudiera haber hecho algo
ilegal, por poco que fuera. Purvis dice que se negó a hacerlo,
probablemente ahorrando a otros expatriados (algunos de los cuales aún
viven y trabajan en Cuba) un destino similar al suyo propio. No niega
que “la tentación estaba allí”, señala Gibbs.

Después de meses en Villa Marista, dice que se sentía “a la deriva”,
dormía poco y estaba perdiendo su visión. Aproximadamente una vez al mes
escuchaba de un intento de suicidio cerca. La tensión en su familia era
enorme. Su esposa sufrió un colapso y tuvo que ser hospitalizada. La
anciana madre de Purvis vino a Cuba para cuidar a los niños antes de que
finalmente se tomara la decisión de que la familia se fuera del país.

En su libro, Purvis es mordaz sobre la falta de ayuda recibida de la
embajada del Reino Unido en La Habana. Ninguna escolta consular fue
ofrecida a la esposa y los hijos de Purvis el día que salieron de Cuba.

Purvis fue trasladado a La Condesa, una prisión de máxima seguridad para
extranjeros. Describe a sus compañeros allí como “un grupo mixto” de
inocentes, asesinos, violadores y narcotraficantes.

En junio de 2013 se organizó una fachada de juicio, en un proceso que
finalmente conduciría a la libertad de Purvis, al tiempo que le
convencía del carácter burlesco de la justicia cubana. Como el juicio
era secreto, no se le mostró ninguna evidencia, por lo que nunca tuvo
oportunidad de saber de qué se le acusaba o de preparar una defensa.
Purvis fue declarado culpable de transacciones ilegales en moneda
extranjera. Su condena fue de dos años y medio de duración sin custodia.
Fue puesto en libertad.

Todos sus bienes en Cuba se han perdido. El proyecto del campo de golf
en el que trabajó ha sido asumido por una empresa china. El Saratoga es
ahora considerado el mejor hotel de Cuba. Madonna celebró su 58
cumpleaños allí el año pasado. Los inversionistas de Coral Capital
todavía están tratando de recuperar su desembolso.

Después de regresar a Londres, dice que se volvió “agresivo y volátil”.
Los hábitos penitenciarios eran difíciles de sacudir. Con frecuencia
llamaba a la cárcel de La Condesa para hablar con sus amigos allí.

Purvis dice que se está “recuperando ahora”, y el proceso de escribir
este impactante libro de memorias, que ha sido nominado para un premio
Gold Dagger, ha ayudado a ese proceso.

En un fragmento del libro sobre la entrada a Villa Marista se lee:

“Este lugar fue originalmente destinado a ser un seminario, pero ahora
no hay ningún signo de ninguna inspiración celestial. Dios ha abandonado
el lugar y está en las manos del lado oscuro. Aquí es donde se encierra
a los presuntos agentes de la CIA, donde los funcionarios purgados se
arrepienten y donde todos los cubanos temen pisar. Aquí es donde el
contratista estadounidense Alan Gross fue interrogado durante meses y
meses para tratar de probar que era un espía y no un activista judío.
Esta es su Lubyanka, su cuartel general de la Gestapo. Estos toscos y
verdes bloques están diseñados para extraer confesiones, reales o
fantásticas, para paralizar mentalmente a los enemigos del Estado. Tiene
una temible reputación de tortura psicológica.

Salimos a un amplio corredor… Me empujan a una habitación de lado y me
ordenan poner todas mis cosas encima de un colchón repugnante, sucio,
manchado de mierda. Una almohada manchada con sangre es tirada en la
parte superior. Miro fijamente la sangre con incredulidad, una ola de
desesperación dentro de mí…

Me arrastro, ahora casi catatónico. El guardia tiene una cadena larga
que lo rodea y un enorme bastón de goma bamboleante que golpea contra la
pared mientras marcha. Todo está en silencio excepto por el goteo del
agua, el chirrido de las botas de los guardias y el sollozo de un hombre
en una celda”…

(Basado en el artículo ‘From now on you have no name’: life in a Cuban
jail, publicado por Stephen Gibbs en The Guardian)

Source: Stephen Purvis o la vida de un extranjero en Cuba… hasta que
la Seguridad toca a la puerta –
www.martinoticias.com/a/cuba-britanico-stephen-purvis-prision-libro/141336.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/stephen-purvis-o-la-vida-de-un-extranjero-en-cuba-hasta-que-la-seguridad-toca-a-la-puerta/feed/ 0
Tras las rejas en Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/tras-las-rejas-en-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/tras-las-rejas-en-cuba/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 14:47:23 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175737 Tras las rejas en Cuba
Por Rafa -19 Marzo, 2017

Las desgracias de un ‘capitalista’ aprovechador que quiso hacer negocios
en la isla de los Castro y le salió el tiro por la culata.

El hogar de Purvis era una villa hermosa de los años 50, pronto llena
con sus cuatro niños. Los sábados los pasaba en la piscina de un club en
la playa. Pero el poderoso título de sus memorias, Close but No Cigar,
es su propia admisión de lo mal que la vida puede terminar bajo un
régimen comunista.

Muchos recuerdan a inicios del nuevo milenio a Stephen Purvis en las
recepciones de la embajada británica en La Habana con sus más de seis
pies, cabello gris recortado, vaso de ron en la mano, una amplia sonrisa
y buenas historias que contar, escribe Stephen Gibbs en The Guardian en
un extenso artículo que narra la odisea del arquitecto inglés en La Habana.

A Purvis le encantó Cuba, donde escapaba de la ordenada y aburrida vida
capitalista en Wimbledon. Le habían ofrecido un trabajo como director de
desarrollo con Coral Capital, una empresa de inversión y comercio, y
decidió mudarse a la isla con su esposa, dice Gibbs en el artículo
titulado ‘From now on you have no name’: life in a Cuban jail (A partir
de ahora no tienes nombre: la vida en una cárcel cubana) .

Coral Capital era una de varias pequeñas firmas extranjeras -casi todas
encabezadas por individuos extravagantes y aventureros- que se
instalaban en Cuba cuando el país buscaba socios internacionales después
del colapso de la Unión Soviética.

El trabajo de Purvis era buscar oportunidades de joint venture con el
Gobierno comunista cubano. Los proyectos planificados incluyeron el
primer campo de golf que se construyó en la isla desde la revolución de
1959, y la remodelación de un hotel antes glamoroso, el Saratoga.

Cuenta Gibbs que los Purvis se instalaron en una villa hermosa de los
años 50 de la capital, pronto llena con sus cuatro niños. Los sábados
los pasaba en la piscina de un club en la playa. Purvis también se metió
en el teatro, produciendo en La Habana el espectáculo de danza cubana
Havana Rakatan, que se exhibió con éxito por varios años en Londres.

Close but no Cigar, las memorias del arquitecto británico Stephen
Purvis, arrestado en Cuba en 2012.
Close but no Cigar, las memorias del arquitecto británico Stephen
Purvis, arrestado en Cuba en 2012.

Nadie, por supuesto, imaginó que esos días de gloria terminarían tan
abruptamente, con Purvis encarcelado en lo que él describe como un
“zoológico” montado para meter a los enemigos del Estado. Pero así
resultó. El poderoso título de sus memorias, Close but No Cigar, que
saldrá a la venta este 23 de marzo, es su propia admisión de lo mal que
la vida puede terminar bajo un régimen comunista.

“La última vez que vi a Purvis en La Habana fue en 2011, pocas semanas
antes de su arresto, en una fiesta de Año Nuevo (yo había sido el
corresponsal de la BBC en Cuba entre 2002 y 2007), pues la llegada del
Año Nuevo es una gran cosa en Cuba, en parte porque coincide con el
aniversario de la revolución castrista y allí estaban nada menos que dos
de las hijas del general Raúl Castro“, señala Gibbs en su artículo.

Para entonces, el terror cundía entre los extranjeros haciendo negocios
en la isla. Muchos estaban susurrando que este probablemente sería su
último fin de año en Cuba. Todos conocían a alguien que había estado
atrapado en una misteriosa pero cada vez más amplia serie de arrestos.
Dos destacados canadienses, Sarkis Yacoubian y Cy Tokmakjian, habían
sido detenidos desde el verano. Un conocido empresario chileno, que
antes se jactaba de ser amigo de Fidel Castro, había sido condenado en
rebeldía a 20 años de cárcel. Y el jefe de Purvis, Amado Fakhre, el CEO
británico-libanés de Coral Capital, había sido encarcelado en octubre.

“La sensación de un destino inminente estaba creciendo día a día”,
recuerda Purvis. Asegura que sería el primero en admitir que fue “un
idiota” por no dejar el país cuando todavía podía. Pero estaba
convencido de que no había hecho nada malo.

Ninguno de los extranjeros encarcelados había sido formalmente acusado
de nada, pero se suponía que estaban atrapados en la promesa del general
Castro de presuntamente “erradicar la corrupción”.

En el 2010, cientos de cubanos, incluyendo ministros y altos ejecutivos,
habían sido detenidos o despedidos. La red se estaba ampliando a los
extranjeros, que también estaban infringiendo la ley al pagar a sus
empleados cualquier bonificación por la izquierda, o incluso comprarles
el almuerzo.

Purvis, que admite pagar una pequeña pensión a un ex empleado, está
convencido de que los arrestos masivos no eran en realidad sobre la
corrupción, sino la torpe purga de la vieja guardia de Fidel Castro, que
estaba siendo reemplazada por una nueva camarilla (compuesta sobre todo
de ex militares) aliada de su hermano Raúl.

El 8 de marzo de 2012 vinieron por él. Poco después del amanecer, una
flota de Ladas sin chapa se detuvo estrepitosamente frente a su casa.
Purvis fue llevado esposado, su cabeza forzada entre sus rodillas, a una
casa anónima de estilo art deco cerca del aeropuerto. Allí, fue acusado
provisionalmente de ser un “enemigo del Estado”. Se le aconsejó no
contratar a un abogado y cooperar inmediatamente. De acuerdo con eso,
fue llevado a la tristemente conocida cárcel de la Seguridad cubana
conocida como Villa Marista, en lo que se describió, eufemísticamente,
como “instrucción adicional”, describe Gibbs.

“Villa”, como es conocida por los disidentes cubanos, es un antiguo
seminario católico en las afueras de La Habana convertido por los
castristas en centro de interrogatorio en 1963, donde utilizan técnicas
perfeccionadas por la KGB. Eventualmente, dicen, todo el mundo “canta”
en Villa. Purvis cree que él y su jefe son los únicos ingleses que han
sido llevados allí. Durante meses, se convirtió en “Prisionero 217”. Su
vida fue totalmente controlada por un hombre conocido como “el
instructor”. Pasaba casi cada hora del día en una celda del tamaño de un
colchón, con otros tres internos (uno de los cuales creía que era un
informante del gobierno). Los cuatro compartían una letrina abierta.

Las terribles condiciones sólo fueron atenuadas por los “juegos
psicológicos” de los interrogatorios que tuvieron lugar día y noche.
Purvis dice que fue interrogado durante horas, a menudo sobre los
detalles de las vidas de otros extranjeros en la isla. La intención era
hacer que informara sobre cualquiera que pudiera haber hecho algo
ilegal, por poco que fuera. Purvis dice que se negó a hacerlo,
probablemente ahorrando a otros expatriados (algunos de los cuales aún
viven y trabajan en Cuba) un destino similar al suyo propio. No niega
que “la tentación estaba allí”, señala Gibbs.

Después de meses en Villa Marista, dice que se sentía “a la deriva”,
dormía poco y estaba perdiendo su visión. Aproximadamente una vez al mes
escuchaba de un intento de suicidio cerca. La tensión en su familia era
enorme. Su esposa sufrió un colapso y tuvo que ser hospitalizada. La
anciana madre de Purvis vino a Cuba para cuidar a los niños antes de que
finalmente se tomara la decisión de que la familia se fuera del país.

En su libro, Purvis es mordaz sobre la falta de ayuda recibida de la
embajada del Reino Unido en La Habana. Ninguna escolta consular fue
ofrecida a la esposa y los hijos de Purvis el día que salieron de Cuba.

Purvis fue trasladado a La Condesa, una prisión de máxima seguridad para
extranjeros. Describe a sus compañeros allí como “un grupo mixto” de
inocentes, asesinos, violadores y narcotraficantes.

En junio de 2013 se organizó una fachada de juicio, en un proceso que
finalmente conduciría a la libertad de Purvis, al tiempo que le
convencía del carácter burlesco de la justicia cubana. Como el juicio
era secreto, no se le mostró ninguna evidencia, por lo que nunca tuvo
oportunidad de saber de qué se le acusaba o de preparar una defensa.
Purvis fue declarado culpable de transacciones ilegales en moneda
extranjera. Su condena fue de dos años y medio de duración sin custodia.
Fue puesto en libertad.

Todos sus bienes en Cuba se han perdido. El proyecto del campo de golf
en el que trabajó ha sido asumido por una empresa china. El Saratoga es
ahora considerado el mejor hotel de Cuba. Madonna celebró su 58
cumpleaños allí el año pasado. Los inversionistas de Coral Capital
todavía están tratando de recuperar su desembolso.

Después de regresar a Londres, dice que se volvió “agresivo y volátil”.
Los hábitos penitenciarios eran difíciles de sacudir. Con frecuencia
llamaba a la cárcel de La Condesa para hablar con sus amigos allí.

Purvis dice que se está “recuperando ahora”, y el proceso de escribir
este impactante libro de memorias, que ha sido nominado para un premio
Gold Dagger, ha ayudado a ese proceso.

En un fragmento del libro sobre la entrada a Villa Marista se lee:

“Este lugar fue originalmente destinado a ser un seminario, pero ahora
no hay ningún signo de ninguna inspiración celestial. Dios ha abandonado
el lugar y está en las manos del lado oscuro. Aquí es donde se encierra
a los presuntos agentes de la CIA, donde los funcionarios purgados se
arrepienten y donde todos los cubanos temen pisar. Aquí es donde el
contratista estadounidense Alan Gross fue interrogado durante meses y
meses para tratar de probar que era un espía y no un activista judío.
Esta es su Lubyanka, su cuartel general de la Gestapo. Estos toscos y
verdes bloques están diseñados para extraer confesiones, reales o
fantásticas, para paralizar mentalmente a los enemigos del Estado. Tiene
una temible reputación de tortura psicológica.

Salimos a un amplio corredor… Me empujan a una habitación de lado y me
ordenan poner todas mis cosas encima de un colchón repugnante, sucio,
manchado de mierda. Una almohada manchada con sangre es tirada en la
parte superior. Miro fijamente la sangre con incredulidad, una ola de
desesperación dentro de mí…

Me arrastro, ahora casi catatónico. El guardia tiene una cadena larga
que lo rodea y un enorme bastón de goma bamboleante que golpea contra la
pared mientras marcha. Todo está en silencio excepto por el goteo del
agua, el chirrido de las botas de los guardias y el sollozo de un hombre
en una celda”…

(Basado en el artículo ‘From now on you have no name’: life in a Cuban
jail, publicado por Stephen Gibbs en The Guardian)

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/tras-las-rejas-en-cuba/feed/ 0
‘From now on you have no name. You are prisoner 217’: life in a Cuban jail http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/from-now-on-you-have-no-name-you-are-prisoner-217-life-in-a-cuban-jail/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/from-now-on-you-have-no-name-you-are-prisoner-217-life-in-a-cuban-jail/#respond Sun, 19 Mar 2017 14:06:13 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138235 ‘From now on you have no name. You are prisoner 217’: life in a Cuban jail
A brutal high-security prison was the last place Stephen Purvis expected
to end up when he moved to Havana. Stephen Gibbs tells his story
Stephen Gibbs
Sunday 19 March 2017 09.00 GMT

If you happened to go to a British embassy reception in Havana in the
early 2000s, you would likely have met Stephen Purvis. You could not
miss him. Six foot four, cropped grey hair, rum in hand, a broad smile
and no shortage of good stories.

Purvis loved Cuba. Escaping what he saw as the risk of a “pre-ordained
suburban middle-class life” in Wimbledon, the architect and his wife
seized the opportunity to move to the island 17 years ago. He had been
offered a job as development director with Coral Capital, an investment
and trading company. It was one of several small foreign firms – almost
all led by maverick, adventurous individuals – that were setting up in
Cuba as the country sought international partners following the collapse
of the Soviet Union. Purvis’s job was to look for joint venture
opportunities with the Cuban government. The planned projects included
the first golf course to be constructed there since the 1959 revolution,
and the revamp of a formerly glamorous hotel, the Saratoga.

Speaking to me from Myanmar (more about that later) Purvis recalls his
early Havana years. “It felt like another era,” he says. “No internet.
No TV. No shopping.” The family adapted well to their new life. Home was
a handsome 1950s villa, soon full with their four children. Saturdays
would be spent by the pool at the beach club. The son of a theatrical
designer, Purvis also dabbled in theatre himself, producing the Cuban
dance show Havana Rakatan, which performed successfully for several
years in London. No one, of course, imagined that those halcyon days
would end so abruptly, with Purvis imprisoned in what he describes as a
“zoo” for enemies of the state. But that is how it turned out. The title
of his powerful memoir, Close but No Cigar, is his own admission of just
how badly life can go wrong.

I last saw Purvis in Havana in 2011, a few weeks before his arrest, at a
New Year’s Eve party (I had been the BBC’s correspondent in Cuba between
2002 and 2007). The arrival of the New Year is a big deal in Cuba,
partly because it coincides with the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s
revolution. Two of President Raúl Castro’s daughters were at the event.

By then, the mood among the expats doing business on the island had
notably soured. Many were whispering that this would likely be their
last fin de año in Cuba. All knew someone who had been caught up in a
mysterious but ever-widening series of arrests. Two prominent Canadians,
Sarkis Yacoubian and Cy Tokmakjian, had been detained since the summer.
A well-known Chilean entrepreneur, who used to boast he was a friend of
Fidel Castro, had been convicted in absentia to 20 years in jail. And
Purvis’s boss, Amado Fakhre, the British-Lebanese CEO of Coral Capital,
had been imprisoned in October.

“The sense of an impending doom was growing day by day,” recalls Purvis.
He says he’d be the first to admit he was “an idiot” not to leave the
country when he still could. But he was convinced he had done nothing wrong.

None of the imprisoned foreigners had at that stage been formally
charged with anything, but the assumption was they were caught up in
Raúl Castro’s pledge to root out corruption. The younger Castro had
formally taken over from the ailing Fidel in 2008. In 2009, he
established a comptroller’s office, tasked with investigating evidence
of misdeeds among communist party officials, managers and state company
employees. It was turning out to be a never-ending task. Cuban state
salaries are all around $20 a month. To varying degrees, everyone does
something technically illegal to survive. By 2010, hundreds of Cubans,
including ministers and senior executives, had been detained or
dismissed. The net was widening to the foreigners, who were also
breaking the law by paying their employees any bonus on the side, or
even buying them lunch.

Purvis, who admits paying a small pension to one ex-employee, is
convinced that the mass arrests were not in fact about corruption, but
instead the clumsy purge of Fidel Castro’s old guard, which was being
replaced with a new (mainly ex-military) clique, allied to Raúl.

On 8 March 2012 they came for him. Shortly after dawn, a fleet of
unmarked Ladas drew up outside his home. The Purvis children were
hastily packed off to school, told by their mother that the commotion
was because “Dad needs to answer some questions about work.”

Purvis was taken away, handcuffed, his head forced between his knees, to
an anonymous art deco house close to the airport. There, he was
provisionally charged with being an “enemy of the state”. He was advised
not to hire a lawyer and to co-operate immediately. Agreeing to that, he
was then taken to the notorious Cuban state security prison known as
Villa Marista, for what was described, euphemistically, as “further
instruction”.

“The villa”, as it is known by Cuban dissidents, is a former Catholic
seminary on the outskirts of Havana. Since 1963 it has been an
interrogation centre, using techniques perfected by the KGB. Eventually,
they say, everyone “sings” at the villa. Purvis believes he and his boss
(who had been transferred to a military hospital by the time his
co-director arrived) are the only Englishmen ever to have been held
there. For months, he became “Prisoner 217”. His life was entirely
controlled by a man known as “the instructor”. He spent almost every
hour of the day in a cell the size of a double mattress, with three
other inmates (one of whom he believes was a government informant). The
four shared an open latrine.

The appalling conditions were only alleviated by the “psychological
games” of interrogation that took place day and night. Purvis says he
was questioned for hours, often about the details of the lives of other
foreigners on the island. The intent was to get him to inform on anyone
who might have done something illegal, however minor. Purvis says he
refused to do so, probably sparing other expats (some of whom still live
and work in Cuba) a similar fate to his own. He does not deny the
temptation was there. “You can see why in the end people just go, ‘Oh
give a dog a bone. Throw them some names just to get out of there,’” he
says.

After months in Villa Marista, he says he felt himself “drifting away”.
Sleeping only fitfully, he had constant tinnitus and was losing his
vision. About once a month he says he would hear a suicide attempt
nearby. The strain on his family, allowed to see him for less than half
an hour every week, was enormous. His wife had a breakdown and had to be
hospitalised. Purvis’s elderly mother came to Cuba to look after the
children before finally the decision was taken that the family should leave.

In his book, Purvis is scathing about the lack of help the UK foreign
office offered him and his family for much of the ordeal. While one
British ambassador, Dianna Melrose, comes across as exceptionally kind
in the early weeks of his imprisonment, the new embassy team appears to
have shown scant interest in the case. No consular escort was offered to
Purvis’s wife and children the day they left Cuba.

You have this warm, fuzzy feeling that HM Government will look after
your back. And then you find it doesn’t
“As a British passport holder,” he tells me, “you have this sort of
warm, fuzzy feeling that HM Government will look after your back. And
then you find it doesn’t.” He suspects that someone within the FCO had
made a decision not to “rock the boat” with the Cuban authorities,
focusing instead on what was seen as the bigger prize of a potential
rapprochement between all EU governments and Raúl Castro.

Finally, after the authorities gave up trying to tease information from
him, the enemy of the state charges were dropped and Purvis was moved to
La Condesa, a maximum security prison for foreigners. He describes his
fellow inmates there as a “mixed bunch” of the innocent, as well as
murderers, rapists, drug smugglers and hit men. He overlapped with
multimillionaire Canadian businessman Cy Tokmakjian, who was earning
respect for his obstreperous approach towards his jailers.

La Condesa may have been less psychologically traumatic than the villa,
but it was brutal. The depravity Purvis vividly describes was in part
aided by a network of corrupt prison guards, bullying prisoners while
profiting from a prostitute ring, supplied from the local village.
Purvis eventually formed his own gang, one made up of “complete losers”,
with the sole intent of “preventing unpleasantness”.

In June 2013 a trial date was arranged, a process which would ultimately
lead to Purvis’s freedom, while convincing him of the farcical nature of
Cuban justice. As the trial was secret he was not shown any evidence
ahead of it, so never had any chance to know what he was being accused
of, or prepare a defence. Instead, in the hours before his closed court
appearance, he was asked by the prosecutor to run through what he might
say to the judge, as a form of dress rehearsal. Purvis was found guilty
of illegal foreign currency transactions. He says all were entirely
routine and had been authorised by the country’s central bank. His
sentence was a two-and-a-half-year non-custodial term. He was set free.

The experience, he says, has had a “catastrophic spin-off” to every
aspect of his life. All his assets in Cuba have been lost. The golf
course project he worked on has been taken over by a Chinese company;
construction has not begun. The Saratoga is now considered the best
hotel in Cuba. Madonna celebrated her 58th birthday there last year.
Coral Capital investors are still trying to recover their outlay on the
property. Purvis has no desire to see it again.

After he returned to London he says he became “aggressive and volatile”.
Prison habits were hard to shake. He would often ring the Condesa jail
to speak to his friends there. “I needed to wean myself off the
brutality,” he says. That, and the lack of alternative options, is one
reason he has chosen to work abroad once more, away from his family but
visiting them in London regularly. A friend helped arrange a new job for
him in Myanmar, where he is overseeing a city redevelopment project.

Purvis says he is “recovered now”, and the process of writing this
powerful book, which has been nominated for a Gold Dagger award, has
helped that process. Gone, however, is much of his cheerful optimism. He
is certain the Cuban authorities realise they made a mistake by
imprisoning him. But he expects no apology. And the damage is done.

An extract from Close but No Cigar by Stephen Purvis

I am now in a dimly lit room. The ceiling is made of tiles with a great
section missing, collapsed and never replaced. There are some random
fluorescent strip lights. The capacitor of one is on the blink, so it
clicks on and off. The walls are covered in a dark timber-effect
panelling that is coming off in places. A few derelict brown vinyl sofas
are pushed against one wall and a timber bench screwed to the other. The
air seems to be full of plaster or cement dust. It looks like a
ransacked government building in post-invasion Baghdad. I am sitting on
the bench and the guards slouch on the sofas.

There is a high desk, also in dark timber. Behind it is a big dirty
glass window into some kind of control room. Banks of CCTV screens
flicker in the gloom. A fat old uniform with a row of decorations
waddles out from the back, chewing a cigar. He looks at me briefly and
waves me over. Then he sticks his one hand out in the direction of the
guys that brought me here. No love lost between them, they heave
themselves upright and slap the transfer documents into his hand. He
signs various papers, gives them a receipt and they unlock me. They
leave saying nothing. Fatty coughs, picks his nose and then asks me to
empty my pockets and hand over my watch and shoelaces. I sign a chit for
them but he keeps both copies so maybe it’s the last I’ll see of my watch.

Then two very young guards in olive fatigues take me off to a side room.
Another boy, earnest yet nervous, is waiting at a desk. Stumbling over
the words he explains that I have to fill in a form. I can feel his fear
of me. They must tell them we are dangerous monsters. Another man enters
and what little confidence the boy has now evaporates.

About my age, he is a handsome man who introduces himself in perfect
American English. He is a major. He asks me about my family. “How do you
think they are coping with the situation?” Is this a genuine question or
some kind of threat? His face gives nothing away. Then he explains the
rules. They are pretty simple. “From now on you have no name. You are
prisoner 217.”

My lucky number.

“When you are out of the cell you walk on the left-hand side with your
head facing down and hands behind your back. You never look at anyone.
At each door or staircase you face the wall until told to proceed. You
will obey the officials. If you do not, you will be punished. If you are
ill, then call for the nurse. You will be fed in your cell three times a
day. Any questions?”

“Can I call my wife?”

“No, we will arrange for her to visit.”

“When will the embassy visit?”

“These things take time.”

I feel a lump forming in my throat. I concentrate hard not to tear up.
“Can I have something to read?”

‘That depends on your instructor. Your instructor decides on your
conditions and safety. This depends on your conduct.”

“Do I have a lawyer?”

He laughs. “This also takes a long time. Take my advice, don’t wait.”

I am then led off to a succession of dingy rooms where I am
fingerprinted, photographed and have blood taken to test for hepatitis,
Aids and TB. Then I am pushed into a musty laundry and told to strip
while they issue me with a second-hand uniform. It’s a washed-out
slate-blue number in scratchy nylon. Very me. I get shorts, long
trousers and two shirts with a stinky towel thrown in, plus two sheets
and a pillow case. In a bit of a daze, all sounds scrambled and muffled,
I am prodded along a tiny corridor that feels subterranean.

This place was originally meant to have been a seminary but there is no
sign of any heavenly inspiration now. God has deserted the place and it
is in the hands of the dark side.

This is where captured suspected CIA guys are brought, where purged
officials repent and where all Cubans fear to tread. This is where
American pensioner Alan Gross was interrogated for months on end to try
to prove that he was a spy and not some deluded Jewish activist. This is
their Lubyanka, their Gestapo headquarters. These crude, hulking green
blocks are designed to extract confessions, real or fantasy, and then
mentally cripple the enemies of state. It has a fearsome reputation for
psychological torture.

We pop out into a broad corridor. It’s the cell block. No time to look
as the rules now kick in, so head down I shuffle along as instructed. I
am pushed into a side room and told to put all my things on top of a
disgustingly filthy, shit-stained, one-inch foam mattress. A pillow
mottled with bloodstains is chucked on the top. I stare at the blood in
disbelief, a wave of despair building inside me. They cannot be serious.
I am told to pick up the entire load and walk down through the gates.

I shuffle along, now almost catatonic. The guard in front has a long
chain looping around him and a huge wobbly rubber baton that bangs
against the wall as he marches. All is silent except for the dripping of
water, the squeaking of the guards’ boots and a man sobbing in a cell.
I count 32 doors. I am told to stop
and face the wall while Mr Rubber Baton fumbles with his key chain.

My nose is six inches from the
wall. I read the guards’ obscene graffiti, scrawled in childish pencil.
And then the true significance of what has happened hits me. It isn’t
going to go away and it isn’t going to get better for a long time. The
gate and then the door clang open with a foul rush of stale air,
revealing a tiny cave with three pale faces blinking like moles in the
light. I step into my new life. My dungeon.

Close but No Cigar by Stephen Purvis is out on 23 March, priced £18.99.
To order a copy for £16.14, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

Source: ‘From now on you have no name’: life in a Cuban jail | Global |
The Guardian –
www.theguardian.com/global/2017/mar/19/life-in-a-cuban-jail-for-a-british-man

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/from-now-on-you-have-no-name-you-are-prisoner-217-life-in-a-cuban-jail/feed/ 0
Repression in Cuba Comes in Many Forms http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/repression-in-cuba-comes-in-many-forms/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/repression-in-cuba-comes-in-many-forms/#respond Wed, 08 Mar 2017 15:32:07 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138164 Repression in Cuba Comes in Many Forms
March 7, 2017
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Repression in Cuba Comes in Many Forms – Havana Times.org –
www.havanatimes.org/?p=124021

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/repression-in-cuba-comes-in-many-forms/feed/ 0
She’s aging in the hemisphere’s oldest nation and survives by digging through Cuba’s trash http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/shes-aging-in-the-hemispheres-oldest-nation-and-survives-by-digging-through-cubas-trash/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/shes-aging-in-the-hemispheres-oldest-nation-and-survives-by-digging-through-cubas-trash/#respond Wed, 08 Mar 2017 15:22:20 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138161 She’s aging in the hemisphere’s oldest nation and survives by digging
through Cuba’s trash
BY MARIO J. PENTÓN Y LUZ ESCOBAR
mpenton@elnuevoherald.com

HAVANA
At 67, struggling against the challenges that come with aging and a
meager pension, Raquel, an engineer who in her own words was “formed by
the Revolution,” survives by sifting through garbage every day in search
of recyclable products.

Hands that at one time drew plans and measured distances now pick up
cardboard, cans and other discarded containers.

“My life is a struggle from the moment I wake up,” Raquel said.

“My last name? For what? And I don’t want any photos. I have children,
and I once had a life. I don’t want people talking about me,” she said
after agreeing to tell her story.

Digging through garbage as a way to make a living was not part of
Raquel’s plan but she is not alone. Many within the island’s growing
aging population are struggling with survival in the twilight years.

Cuba has become the oldest country in the Western Hemisphere, according
to official figures, amid an accelerated process that has even surprised
specialists who had not expected the phenomenon to become apparent until
2025.

Facing a pension system that is increasingly nonviable, a harsh economic
recession and an expected impact on social services as a result of the
aging population, the island is confronting one of the biggest
challenges of its history, experts say.

Almost 20 percent of Cubans are now over the age of 60, and the
fertility rate stands at 1.7 children per woman of child-bearing age. To
counter the aging population, the fertility rate would have to rise to
2.4 children per woman of child-bearing age. Cuba’s economically active
population shrank for the first time in 2015, by 126,000 people.

“The population aging that is affecting the country leads to a
significant increase in public spending as well as a drop in the
population of the fertile age, which in turn leads to a decrease in the
fertility rate,” said Juan Valdés Paz, a Cuban sociologist who has
written several books on the issue.

Valdés said no government can be prepared for the kinds of demographic
problems that Cuba now has.

“If there’s no harmony between demographic progress and economic
development, the latter is impacted,” he said.

Declining subsidies
Government spending on public health per capita in 1999 was 21 percent
lower than in 1989, according to economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago. Official
Cuban figures show that category of spending dropped from 11.3 percent
of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 to eight percent
in 2012.

Although Raquel is retired, government pharmacies do not subsidize the
medicines she needs for her diabetes and hypertension. State social
service programs do not serve elderly Cubans who live with relatives or
other presumed caretakers.

“I get a pension of 240 pesos a month,” said Raquel, the equivalent of
less than $10. “From that money, I have to pay 50 pesos for the Haier
refrigerator the government forced me to buy and 100 pesos to buy my
medicines.”

Cuba has about 300 day-time centers for the elderly and 144 nursing
homes, with a total capacity of about 20,000 clients. Officials have
acknowledged that a significant portion are in terrible shape, and many
elderly prefer to go into one of the 11 homes across the country run by
religious orders. They operate thanks to foreign assistance, like the
Santovenia asylum in the Cerro neighborhood of Havana.

The state-run daycare centers charge 180 pesos per month and the nursing
homes charge about 400 pesos. Social Security subsidizes the payments
when social service workers determine that the clients cannot afford to
pay those fees.

Cuba once had one of the most generous and broadest social security
systems in Latin America. But that was largely possible because of the
massive subsidies from the Soviet Union, calculated by Mesa-Lago at
about $65 billion over 30 years.

“Although the pensions were never high, there was an elaborate system
established by the state to facilitate access to food and other products
at subsidized prices,” said the economist.

After the Soviet subsidies ended in the early 90s, pensions remained at
about the same level but their purchasing power collapsed. In 1993, a
retired Cuban could barely buy 16 percent of what he could afford in
1989. By the end of 2015, the purchasing power of retirees remained at
barely half of what it was when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba
entered into the so-called “Special Period.”

Raquel is a product of that reality.

“It bothers me when I hear talk of the good services for the elderly,”
said Raquel. “I don’t get any subsidies because I live with my son, his
wife and my two grandchildren. But they have their own expenses, and
can’t afford to also pick up all of mine.

“I need new dentures,” she added, “and if you don’t give the dentist a
little gift, they take months or come out bad.”

Other elderly residents on the island echoed Raquel’s sentiments.

“We are two old people living alone, we have no one overseas, so we
receive no remittances,” said Andrés, a former cartographer who lives
with his wife Silvia in the central city of Cienfuegos and now sells
homemade vinegar and other products to make ends meet. “It’s very hard
to get old and live off a $10 pension when four drumsticks of chicken
cost $5.

“Last year I was awarded with a lifetime achievement recognition at work
and then I was laid off,” he said. “I was already retired but continued
to work because we could not live on my pension.”

Drastic cutbacks
After Fidel Castro left power in 2006, following a health emergency, the
Raúl Castro government began drastic cutbacks in social security
benefits under the rubric of “the elimination of gratuities.” Of the
582,060 Cubans who were receiving social assistance benefits in 2006,
such as disability or special diet funds, the number was slashed to
175,106 by 2015.

Castro also removed several products from the highly subsidized ration
card, such as soap, toothpaste and matches, forcing everyone to pay far
more for those products when they bought them on the open market.

The government has launched some new programs for the elderly. The
Sistema de Atención a la Familia (System to Help the Family), for
example, allows more then 76,000 low-income elderly to obtain food at
subsidized prices. That’s a tiny number compared to Cuba’s elderly
population, estimated at more than 2 million in a nation of about 11
million.

Some elderly Cubans also receive assistance from churches and
non-government organizations.

“People see me picking up cans, but they don’t know I was a
prize-winning engineer and that I even traveled to the Soviet Union in
1983,” Raquel said.

After retirement, she had to find other ways of making ends meet. She
cleaned the common areas of buildings where military officers lived near
the Plaza of the Revolution until she got too old to handle the work.

“They wanted me to wash the windows of a hallway on the 9th floor. That
was dangerous, and I was afraid of falling. I preferred to leave, even
though they paid well,” she said.

Raquel was earning 125 pesos (about $5) per week — more than half her
monthly pension of 240 pesos.

Raquel said she sells the empty recyclable containers she collects to
state enterprises but would love to be able to sell them to a private
company, instead, to avoid bureaucratic problems and delays. In the
patio of her home, she has created a home-made tool to crush the empty
cans she finds on the streets.

The work can be profitable but competition is stiff and physically
tougher for the elderly and disabled who have to wait in long lines to
sell their products at state enterprises or pay someone else to hold
their spot in line.

“In January I made 3,900 pesos on beer bottles. But I paid 500 pesos to
hold my spot in line because I can’t just lay down on the floor while I
wait,” she said. “Aluminum also pays well. They pay 40 pesos for a sack
of cans. It’s eight pesos per kilogram.”

Cuba does not have official statistics on poverty.

A 1996 government study concluded that 20.1 percent of the 2 million
people in Havana were “at risk of not being able to afford a basic
necessity.” A poll in 2000 found that 78 percent of the country’s
elderly complained their income was not enough to cover their expenses.

The majority of the elderly polled said their main sources of income
were their pension benefits, assistance from relatives on the island and
remittances sent by relatives and friends abroad.

Many elderly now walk the streets in Havana and other cities, selling
home-made candy or peanuts to make ends meet. Others resell newspapers
or pick through garbage for items to sell. The number of beggars on the
streets of Cuba’s main cities has visibly increased.

For Raquel, the daily struggle is but another chapter of her life.

“I have always been a hard worker because the most important thing is my
family,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me to wear old clothes while I
collect the cans. The one who has to look good is my grandson, who just
started high school.

“The kids in school sometimes make fun of him but my grandson is very
good and he’s not ashamed of me, at least not that he shows,” she said.
“He always defends me against the mockery.”

THIS ARTICLE WAS DONE IN COLLABORATION WITH 14YMEDIO AS PART OF AN
AGREEMENT WITH EL NUEVO HERALD.

FOLLOW MARIO J. PENTÓN ON TWITTER: @MARIOJOSE_CUBA

Source: Growing old in Cuba is tough and getting harder | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article136984308.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/shes-aging-in-the-hemispheres-oldest-nation-and-survives-by-digging-through-cubas-trash/feed/ 0
Cuba Kills Another Dissident http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-kills-another-dissident/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-kills-another-dissident/#respond Mon, 06 Mar 2017 18:05:17 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138152 Cuba Kills Another Dissident
After Obama’s detente: More tourists on the island and more repression.
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
March 5, 2017 5:08 p.m. ET

Score another kill for the Cuban military dictatorship: Last month it
eliminated Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández, an inmate
of one of its most notoriously brutal prisons.

The remarkable thing was not the death of a critic. That’s routine in a
police state that holds all the guns, bayonets, money and food. What’s
noteworthy is that the world hardly blinked, which is to say that two
years after President Obama’s detente with Raúl Castro, the regime still
dispatches adversaries with impunity. It also routinely blocks visitors
to the island, even of the leftist stripe—more on this in a moment—in
order to keep the population isolated. “Normalization” to the contrary,
Cuba is the same totalitarian hellhole that it has been for the past 58
years.
Cuba’s now-President Raul Castro at Revolution Square in Havana during a
2006 military parade.
Cuba’s now-President Raul Castro at Revolution Square in Havana during a
2006 military parade. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Forty-five-year-old Más Hernández was a member of the Patriotic Union of
Cuba, a group working for a peaceful transition to democracy. He was
healthy when he was arrested in June and sentenced to four years in
prison for “disrespect for authority”—a k a failure to bow to the
masters of the slave plantation. His real crime was advocating for a
free Cuba while black. There are few more lethal combinations.

The black Cuban is supposed to show gratitude to the revolution to
sustain the myth that he has been elevated by communism. The grim
reality is the opposite, but heaven help those who dare to say so.

In November, Más Hernández was transferred to Combinado del Este prison,
a dungeon not fit for animals. There he developed a kidney infection.
His wife told the independent media in Cuba that he lost almost 35
pounds. According to his overlords he died on Feb. 24 of a “heart
attack.” Funny, that epidemic of heart disease among those who cross Castro.

His death ought to prick the conscience of the free world. But while the
island is crawling with foreign news bureaus, the story has not appeared
in the English-language press. President Obama may have opened Cuba to
more tourists, but the regime takes pains to keep its 11 million captive
souls and their misery invisible.

The Castro family is a crime syndicate and many American businesses want
a piece of the action. Sheraton Four Points now runs a hotel owned by
the military regime. The luggage company Tumi spent the winter promoting
Cuba travel on its website. (Note to self: Buy that new suitcase from
someone who isn’t blind to tyranny.) The upshot is that more U.S.
dollars flow to Cuba’s military coffers than ever before.

Mr. Obama argued that more contact with outsiders would empower Cubans.
The regime agrees. It has been open to foreign tourism and investment
since the end of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s, and millions of
Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians have flooded the country. But its
secret police keep a tight leash on visitors.

British real-estate developer Stephen Purvis, Canadian businessmen Cy
Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian and U.S. Agency for International
Development contractor Alan Gross all did time in Cuban jails for being
too independent of the mob boss.

Last month Castro took the audacious step of refusing visas to three
prominent Latin American politicians who could hardly be regarded as
enemies of Cuba.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro was
invited to Cuba by Rosa María Payá. She is the daughter of the late
Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a suspicious car
accident in the summer of 2012. Mr. Almagro was slated to receive an
award named for Ms. Payá’s father from the Latin America Youth Network
for Democracy. But Mr. Almagro, who is a Uruguayan leftist, was denied
entry to the island.

The regime also blocked Mariana Aylwin, the daughter of Patricio Aylwin,
the first elected Chilean president post-Pinochet. Ms. Aylwin is a
Christian Democrat and a former education minister and was to accept a
posthumous award for her late father. She remains an important voice in
the Chilean Christian Democrat Party, which is a member, with the
Communist Party among others, of the governing coalition.

Ms. Payá also invited former Mexican President Felipe Calderón to the
event. Mr. Calderón is a member of Mexico’s center-right PAN, but as
head of state he was friendly toward Cuba. One memorable moment was when
he welcomed Raúl at the Rio Group summit on the Mayan Riviera in 2010 at
a time when Orlando Zapata, another black Cuban dissident, lay dying in
a military prison. Mr. Calderón was also denied a visa.

Cuba is not reforming. As always, dissidents are sent to prison death
traps, and now Castro insults highly placed onetime friends by refusing
them access to the island. Tourists are welcome, but only to drink state
propaganda and leave behind hard currency. Any suggestion that Cubans
have a right to self-determination remains a crime against the state.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.

Source: Cuba Kills Another Dissident – WSJ –
www.wsj.com/articles/cuba-kills-another-dissident-1488751707

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/cuba-kills-another-dissident/feed/ 0
Raúl Castro intensifica la ‘diplomacia de rehenes’ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/raul-castro-intensifica-la-diplomacia-de-rehenes/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/raul-castro-intensifica-la-diplomacia-de-rehenes/#respond Sat, 04 Mar 2017 18:43:48 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=175206 Raúl Castro intensifica la ‘diplomacia de rehenes’
SOREN TRIFF | Boston | 4 de Marzo de 2017 – 09:17 CET.

La ejecución extrajudicial del activista Hamell Santiago Maz Hernández
es la señal escandalosa y brutal de que Raúl Castro activa la
“diplomacia de rehenes” que pone la vida de un sector de la población en
la mesa de negociación para que Occidente se olvide de la liberación de
Cuba. Maz Hernández murió mientras se encontraba bajo custodia penal en
la cárcel Combinado de Este, en La Habana, en medio de detenciones y
encarcelamientos arbitrarios de activistas por todo el país solo un mes
después de entrar en vigor el Acuerdo Político y de Cooperación con la
Unión Europea (UE).

Hay varias razones para que Castro vea la captura, encarcelamiento y
expulsión de individuos como la opción “diplomática” más lógica.
Primero, Castro lo ha hecho muchas veces y sigue un patrón de conducta
que funciona bien. Castro detiene a unos activistas, los encierra con o
sin juicio y envía un mensaje a sus interlocutores internacionales con
sus “demandas” o como respuesta a las exigencias de apertura
democrática. Cuando desea subir la parada mata a un activista. Por
ejemplo, en 2002 el expresidente Jimmy Carter dio un discurso en La
Habana en el que elogió el Proyecto Varela mientras la UE invitaba a
Fidel Castro a integrarse al grupo de África, Caribe y Pacífico. En
respuesta Castro acorraló, enjuició y encarceló a 75 activistas, y
fusiló a tres jóvenes en 2003.

Segundo, como la comunidad internacional critica la pena de muerte, Raúl
Castro sencillamente ha incrementado las ejecuciones extrajudiciales
como herramienta “diplomática”. Una de las más brutales fue la ejecución
de Orlando Zapata Tamayo mientras se encontraba en prisión bajo una
huelga de hambre en 2010. La respuesta a los reclamos internacionales
fue “regalarle” a España los mismos prisioneros políticos mantenidos
como rehenes en 2003. Bajo Raúl Castro se extendieron las muertes a
líderes de la oposición con el asesinato de Laura Pollán en 2011 y de
Oswaldo Payá al año siguiente.

Castro realiza un exitoso intercambio de un estadounidense por cinco
espías cubanos presos en EEUU. En 2009 Castro arbitrariamente capturó,
despojó, enjuició y encarceló al excontratista estadounidense Alan
Gross. El excontratista declaró que supo que era un rehén de Castro
desde principios de 2010. Gross le dijo a la periodista Karen Caballero:
“Sentí que quería intercambiarme [por los espías]”. Y agregó: “En ese
momento me dije: ‘Bien, mi detención arbitraria es como un secuestro. Me
secuestran para obtener un rescate’. Y Los Cinco [espías] fueron el
rescate”.

En 2013 Raúl Castro anunció que se retiraría en cinco años y desde
entonces ha recibido el apoyo de la comunidad internacional, incluido
EEUU, la neutralidad de un importante sector del exilio y parte de una
simbólica sociedad civil. Cuba es un Estado cliente de la UE y firmó en
diciembre de 2016 un favorable acuerdo con su patrón que entró en efecto
hace un mes. Sin embargo, mientras lo finalizaba, Castro preparaba un
nuevo “portafolio” de víctimas de violaciones de los derechos humanos y
presos políticos. Castro arreció los ataques contra las Damas de Blanco,
encarceló a mujeres con hijos menores, estigmatizó a trabajadores
privados y redobló su persecución.

La ejecución de Maz Hernández sería una señal de que el líder eleva la
parada, con exorbitantes exigencias imprevistas, para que sus
interlocutores internacionales acepten resignados el statu quo, el abuso
de poder y los presos políticos como rehenes, en vez liberar a los cubanos.

Todos desean cambios democráticos “desde arriba”. Todos esperan que
Castro deje el poder el año que viene en manos de alguien en el que se
pueda confiar. Pero los asaltos contra sectores de la sociedad indican
que Castro no piensa irse y que sus herederos no son mejores que él.

Estas acciones recientes le dan la razón a Gross. Cuando le preguntaron
qué piensa de Cuba, dijo: “Es un sistema fascista, muy corrompido… Si
uno examina la Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre el Genocidio, hay
ciertos criterios para distinguir el genocidio. Muy cercano a esos
criterios [están] los que Naciones Unidas llama crímenes lesa humanidad.
Y al retardar el desarrollo de la población como este Gobierno cubano
hace, ellos son culpables de crímenes lesa humanidad”.

Los países “acompañantes” de Castro tienen que dejar claro que no puede
usar la violencia contra sectores de la población con los que entra en
conflicto, ya sea económico, social o político. Eso es un crimen de lesa
humanidad. Castro tiene que crear zonas seguras para que la población
resuelva sus conflictos pacíficamente dentro de las fronteras, y con los
recursos del país.

Source: Raúl Castro intensifica la ‘diplomacia de rehenes’ | Diario de
Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1488582706_29396.html

]]>
http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/03/raul-castro-intensifica-la-diplomacia-de-rehenes/feed/ 0