Free Alan Gross http://alangrosscuba.impela.net Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:52:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Alan Gross dijo que, de permitírsele, “volvería enseguida” a Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/alan-gross-dijo-que-de-permitirsele-volveria-enseguida-a-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/alan-gross-dijo-que-de-permitirsele-volveria-enseguida-a-cuba/#respond Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:52:54 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=179455 Alan Gross dijo que, de permitírsele, “volvería enseguida” a Cuba
Redacción de CiberCuba | hace 18 horas | 23 Martí Noticias

Alan Gross, quien trabajaba en Cuba como subcontratista de la Agencia de
los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional, USAID, y fue
apresado en el aeropuerto de La Habana en 2009, dijo en declaraciones a
la agencia JTA que, si tuviera la oportunidad, “volvería enseguida” a la
isla.

Gross dijo además que ha escrito dos veces a la Embajada cubana pidiendo
que lo reciban, pero hasta el momento no ha recibido respuesta alguna.

Desde mayo, Gross y su esposa Judy viven en Israel. Estuvo cinco años
preso en La Habana y agradece a Barack Obama y a varios miembros del
Congreso su excarcelación como parte del restablecimiento de relaciones
entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. No obstante, considera importante el rol
que jugaron las organizaciones judías: “La realidad es que fue el
esfuerzo de base en la comunidad judía lo que inclinó (a mi favor) el
esfuerzo”. También añadió que “había decenas de miles de correos
electrónicos, literalmente decenas de miles, eso fue lo que inclinó la
balanza. Mi redención de Cuba es una historia de activismo”.

En la entrevista a la agencia judía, Gross habla de su vicio hacia
el tabaco, que adquirió en Cuba: “Cada vez que un dignatario me visitaba
el gobierno cubano me daba una caja de habanos caros”, dice. “Cada caja
costaba el salario de un mes de un cubano. Me tenían enviciado, los
H.P”. Y agrega: “Tienen más habanos que alimentos”.

El ex subcontratista judeo-estadounidense dijo además que tiene ganas de
ver a los familiares de sus compañeros de celda, que le llevaban comida.
“Ellos me ayudaron a sostenerme durante cinco años; son también mi familia”.

Alan Gross se dedicaba a facilitar acceso a Internet a la pequeña
comunidad hebrea cubana (miembros de la comunidad le visitaron en varias
ocasiones en el Hospital Militar de La Habana, donde pasó la mayor parte
de su cautiverio en la Sala de Penados), y fue tildado por el gobierno
cubano de espía, lo cual le ha cambiado el curso de su vida profesional.

“En los países donde podría trabajar, imagino a la gente mirándome
desconfiada (…) eso elimina la capacidad de recuperar la confianza del
cliente”, expresó.

con información de Martí Noticias.

Source: Alan Gross dijo que, de permitírsele, “volvería enseguida” a
Cuba – CiberCuba –
www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2017-07-13-u1-e186450-alan-gross-dijo-permitirsele-volveria-enseguida-cuba

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Alan Gross se va a vivir a Israel, pero quiere volver a Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/alan-gross-se-va-a-vivir-a-israel-pero-quiere-volver-a-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/alan-gross-se-va-a-vivir-a-israel-pero-quiere-volver-a-cuba/#respond Thu, 13 Jul 2017 20:58:33 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=179423 Alan Gross se va a vivir a Israel, pero quiere volver a Cuba
julio 13, 2017

En mayo pasado el subcontratista judeo-estadounidense que fue preso
político en Cuba se estableció con su esposa Judy en la Tierra
Prometida. En la isla perdió cinco años de vida, cinco dientes y su
carrera de trabajador para el desarrollo, pero dice que allí dejó familia.
El ex subcontratista estadounidense Alan Gross, que pasó cinco años
preso en Cuba por presuntos delitos contra la Seguridad del Estado,
reveló a la agencia JTA que el pasado 3 de mayo él y su esposa Judy
culminaron sus planes de hacer Aliá, el reasentamiento en la Tierra
Prometida como inmigrantes de los judíos de la diáspora, bajo la Ley de
Retorno que les otorga el derecho a “subir a Jerusalén”(vivir en Israel)
y hacerse ciudadanos israelíes.

Entrevistado por esa agencia de noticias judía, Gross evocó sus años
como trabajador para el desarrollo en Israel y en las zonas palestinas,
después de que se iniciaran las conversaciones de paz de Oslo en 1993.
“Estuve en Israel probablemente 60 veces antes de hacer Aliá”, dijo.

Descartó que su experiencia cubana tuviera que ver con esta decisión:
“No puedo decir que Cuba haya tenido que ver. No creo que mis
antecedentes judíos tuvieran nada que ver con el trato que recibí“.

Cuando fue arrestado en el aeropuerto de La Habana en diciembre de 2009,
Gross, quien entonces residía en Potomac, Maryland, trabajaba en la isla
como subcontratista de la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el
Desarrollo Internacional, USAID. Se dedicaba a facilitar acceso a
Internet a la pequeña comunidad hebrea cubana (miembros de la comunidad
le visitaron en varias ocasiones en el Hospital Militar de La Habana,
donde pasó la mayor parte de su cautiverio en la Sala de Penados).

Catorce meses después de su detención fue enjuiciado por “actos contra
la independencia o la integridad territorial” del país, y recibió una
sentencia de 15 años de prisión. Cinco años después de su arresto, en
diciembre de 2014, Gross formó parte de un canje en el que él y tres
espías cubanos condenados en EE.UU. fueron liberados simultáneamente, el
mismo día en que el presidente Barack Obama y el gobernante cubano Raúl
Castro anunciaron que los dos gobiernos reanudarían sus relaciones.

Gross agradece por su liberación a Obama y a varios miembros del
Congreso, pero no pierde de vista el papel de las organizaciones judías:
“La realidad es que fue el esfuerzo de base en la comunidad judía lo que
inclinó (a mi favor) el esfuerzo”, dijo. “Había decenas de miles de
correos electrónicos, literalmente decenas de miles, eso fue lo que
inclinó la balanza. Mi redención de Cuba es una historia de activismo”.

Los Gross se han establecido en Tel Aviv. Tienen una hija que vive en
Jerusalén con su esposo e hija, la nieta de Alan y Judy.

Preguntado acerca de cómo está su hebreo, dice que “no muy bien, y no
mejor que mi español”, idioma que perfeccionó mientras extinguía su
larga sentencia.

En Tel Aviv, la ciudad sobre el Mediterráneo por la que suele andar a
pie, Alan Gross dice que frecuenta una cigarrería donde se reúne con
otros fumadores de puros a echar humo, commer hummus, y hablar de
política. El vicio del tabaco lo adquirió en Cuba, donde sus captores le
regalaban habanos en ocasiones especiales.

“Cada vez que un dignatario me visitaba el gobierno cubano me daba una
caja de habanos caros”, recuerda. “Cada caja costaba el salario de un
mes de un cubano. Me tenían enviciado, los H.P”, recuerda. “Tienen más
habanos que alimentos”, agrega. “El 50 % de las tierras cultivables de
Cuba están sin cultivar”.

El prisionero americano perdió cinco piezas dentales debido a la
malnutrición durante su tiempo tras las rejas. Pero Cuba le hizo a Alan
Gross un daño peor que quitarle cinco dientes y cinco años de su vida.

A pesar de que no era un espía y las autoridades cubanas no lo
condenaron por espionaje, buena parte de la información publicada sobre
su caso lo caracterizaba como un espía, y eso significa que no podrá
volver a dedicarse al trabajo que ama, el desarrollo de las economías
emergentes, apunta la agencia JTA.

“En los países donde podría trabajar, imagino a la gente mirándome
desconfiada (…) eso elimina la capacidad de recuperar la confianza del
cliente”.

Preguntado sobre si volvería a la isla de tener una oportunidad dijo que
“volvería enseguida”. De hecho, ha escrito dos veces a la Embajada de
Cuba en Tel Aviv, solicitando que lo reciban, pero no ha habido respuesta.

Afirma que tiene ganas de ver a los familiares de sus compañeros de
celda, que le llevaban comida. “Ellos me ayudaron a sostenerme durante
cinco años; son también mi familia”, concluye diciendo.

[Redactado por Rolando Cartaya basado en entrevista de JTA]

Source: Alan Gross se va a vivir a Israel, pero quiere volver a Cuba –
www.martinoticias.com/a/alan-gross-se-va-a-vivir-a-israel-pero-quiere-regresar-a-cuba/148939.html

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Los derechos humanos como hoja de parra http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/los-derechos-humanos-como-hoja-de-parra/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/los-derechos-humanos-como-hoja-de-parra/#respond Thu, 13 Jul 2017 17:28:40 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=179377 Los derechos humanos como hoja de parra
La primera máxima de una política ética, y toda promoción de derechos
humanos tiene que necesariamente serlo, es no hacer daño
Arturo López-Levy, Denver | 13/07/2017 1:49 pm

El discurso de Donald Trump en rechazo al acercamiento hacia Cuba ha
expuesto no solo su desinformación sobre la Isla sino también las fallas
de algunos argumentos usados en la prensa liberal para defender la
política de Barack Obama. Al aceptar los términos de debate, desde la
descalificación total de la revolución cubana por la derecha
anti-normalización, la posición liberal rinde de entrada tres de sus más
poderosas razones contra el embargo/bloqueo: la moral, la legal y la
histórica.
Los artículos de opinión de Christopher Sabatini “Trump’s imminent Cuba
problem” y “U.S.-Cuba policy change advocates: this is your ally” y el
editorial “A Cynical Reversal on Cuba” por el consejo editorial de The
New York Times son típicos ejemplos. Rechazan un recrudecimiento del
embargo, pero atribuyen a la política estadounidense hacia Cuba y los
defensores de las sanciones una autoridad moral por su oposición al
Gobierno cubano que no es justificada ni por la historia del conflicto,
ni por su postura hacia los derechos humanos como normas legales
internacionales.
Un tercer camino que no es tal
Sabatini dice que “el argumento de que la dureza del embargo equivale a
la defensa de los derechos humanos y el cambio político, es fallido
seria y moralmente en muchos niveles, lógicos e históricos”. Sin
embargo, el “camino medio” que propone y sus argumentos son
instrumentales para promover los mismos fines del embargo; la imposición
ahora por medios pacíficos, de una visión sobre Cuba hecha en Washington
o Miami que niega cualquier legitimidad a la revolución cubana,
considerada por Marco Rubio “un accidente de la historia”.
En esa lógica, la apertura del 17 de diciembre de 2014 hacia Cuba es
útil porque socava al Gobierno cubano, permite negociar acuerdos de
seguridad y contra el crimen internacional, y abre oportunidades de
negocios a los estadounidenses mientras se promueve a los sectores
privados emergentes de la economía cubana y los grupos opositores afines
a un cambio de régimen. Sabatini nos dice que “de cualquier manera los
ciudadanos cubanos pierden” porque Raúl Castro dará prioridad al
presupuesto del gas lacrimógeno, las balas de goma, los bastones
eléctricos y otros instrumentos de represión. Así acepta como válida la
ficción central usada contra la política de Obama: La cooperación
estadounidense con el Gobierno cubano debe ser mínima pues existe una
drástica separación del gobierno como usurpador de la soberanía, y el
pueblo cubano representado por los opositores, escogidos del gobierno
norteamericano de turno. El rol de Estados Unidos —en esa ficción— es
aupar a los cubanos para la libertad. Sabatini separa la política del
presidente Obama en una dimensión “brillante”, que ejemplifica con su
discurso en La Habana, y otra “vergonzosa”, representada en la
declaración de la Casa Blanca a propósito de la muerte de Fidel Castro.
Obama apenas definió a Fidel Castro como una figura compleja cuyo papel
en la historia de Cuba y el mundo, el futuro definiría. Sabatini no
explica su “camino medio” pero hubiese sido una torpeza diplomática
condenar al líder de la Revolución Cubana pues enconaría conflictos
entre cubanos y entre Cuba y EEUU. Las luces y sombras de la Revolución
son específicas a las políticas implementadas en cada área y corresponde
a los cubanos de cada época evaluarlas sin totalitarismos.
Sería lamentable que todo lo que se avanzó en la última administración
demócrata en la comprensión del peso del nacionalismo en la política
cubana, y la necesidad de respetar la soberanía cubana tal y como la
concibe el derecho internacional se pierda ahora en una acomodación
fáustica con los defensores del embargo. Uno de los retos políticos más
inmediatos en el tema de la ideología que recibirá el liderazgo cubano a
estrenarse en 2018 es la celebración del 60 aniversario del triunfo
revolucionario de 1959, y que celebrar: ¿El fin de la dictadura
batistiana? ¿La reivindicación de la soberanía frente a la intromisión
indebida estadounidense en los asuntos internos? Seguro. ¿La instalación
de un modelo de economía estatizada y unipartidismo? Mucho más polémico.
Habla bien de Barack Obama su preferencia por dejar a los cubanos
resolver esos dilemas del pasado mientras avanzaba el deshielo en su
último mes de mandato.
La defensa de la distensión a hurtadillas evita reivindicar dos momentos
gloriosos de la nueva visión sobre Cuba, como oportunidad y país en
transición, no como una amenaza a los EEUU. En Sudáfrica, Obama se
comportó con la dignidad de una superpotencia democrática. Saludó a Raúl
Castro, sin concesión alguna a Cuba sino a la realidad histórica del
papel de la Isla en la lucha contra el apartheid. Una lucha de derechos
humanos en la que los partidarios del embargo encabezados por Jesse
Helms y la Fundación Nacional Cubano-Americana estuvieron del lado
equivocado.
La declaración de Obama a la muerte de Fidel Castro respetó la realidad
de una personalidad compleja. El mismo Gobierno castrista que organizó
la campaña de alfabetización y otras medidas sociales que han abierto la
participación política a millones, sistematizó la exclusión y reclusión
sin juicio justo e imparcial de supuestos inadaptados sociales por
motivos ideológicos, y en cierto momento, hasta de orientación sexual.
Es un legado complejo en derechos humanos en que lo mejor que Estados
Unidos hace es dejar a los cubanos juzgar por sí mismos, fomentando la
empatía y una visión de futuro. Ingratos hubiesen sido los líderes de
Sudáfrica, Namibia, Angola, Argelia y otros países si no hubiesen ido al
funeral de Fidel Castro a agradecer en su persona los sacrificios del
pueblo cubano.
El otro gran momento en derechos humanos entre Cuba y EEUU bajo Obama
fue la colaboración en el África Occidental contra la epidemia de ébola.
Obama hizo lo que era ético, no solo lo que era instrumental al interés
nacional de los EEUU. Frente a partidarios del embargo que abogaban por
una posición criminal contra una cooperación que salvó miles de vidas,
la embajadora Samantha Power habló con orgullo de avanzar intereses y
valores comunes. No se trata de un tema de derecha o izquierda, sino de
lo que es correcto.
Cuba y EEUU pueden cooperar sin que sea necesario comulgar con las malas
prácticas en derechos humanos de los respectivos gobiernos. El derecho
internacional incita a criticar las violaciones de derechos humanos,
pero desde las normas y el multilateralismo, no con sanciones
unilaterales. El sistema internacional de derechos humanos solo tiene
sentido en marcos de respeto por la ley internacional. Se rinde
pleitesía a la manipulación partidista de los derechos humanos cuando se
ignora la forma en que el derecho internacional establece su promoción.
Estados Unidos tiene que aceptar la ley internacional como el marco
apropiado para su relación con Cuba. De la misma forma que Cuba debe
aceptar los convenios internacionales de derechos humanos como el marco
legal para la relación entre el gobierno y sus ciudadanos.
Todo menos derechos humanos: el embargo/bloqueo contra Cuba
El bloqueo/embargo nunca ha sido una política de derechos humanos sino
su negación. Su codificación en ley fue la obra magna de Jesse Helms,
defensor del racismo sureño contra afroamericanos y latinos, enemigo de
los derechos civiles en su propio estado. Cuando Trump proclama el
retorno a esa “ley” injusta restringe los derechos de los
estadounidenses. Eliminar esa política no es solo cuestión de
empresarios, militares y cabilderos, sino de los clérigos en las
iglesias, los medioambientalistas, los médicos y profesores, de la
mayoría moral del pueblo norteamericano en general.
Los legisladores pro-embargo del sur de la Florida abogan ante Trump por
restricciones para la mayoría de los estadounidenses en los viajes a
Cuba que ya no encuentran moral para persuadir a sus propios electores
cubano-americanos. Ese privilegio indebido otorgado a un grupo de
estadounidenses sobre otros es inmoral.
Los partidarios del embargo denuncian que no todos los norteamericanos
que viajan a Cuba se dedican a denunciar el deteriorado sistema de salud
y los arrestos a disidentes. En busca de balance, Sabatini critica a los
turistas norteamericanos en Cuba por pasearse en los carros de los años
50, indolentes a los problemas del pueblo cubano. ¿Cuál es la
inmoralidad? Ninguna. Es óptimo que cada viajero a Cuba o a cualquier
parte del mundo exhiba sensibilidad por la cultura, historia y política
del país anfitrión, pero tal comportamiento se cultiva con la
persuasión, no con restricciones. La política correcta para EEUU no se
alcanza tirando una diagonal de paralelogramo entre las líneas de los
defensores del embargo y sus oponentes. Hay posturas que son
irreconciliables. Si el embargo es una violación de los derechos humanos
de cubanos y norteamericanos como tal debe ser denunciada.
Sabatini explica cómo los cubanos vamos a ser más libres del comunismo
al recibir más viajeros de EEUU. Coincido con su visión, pero admito que
quizás no suceda así. Lo que sí queda fuera de duda es que el día que se
acabe el embargo, los norteamericanos vamos a ser más libres y
coherentes para practicar las libertades que predicamos. Ese ejemplo es
la mejor contribución que la democracia norteamericana puede hacer a la
democratización de Cuba.
La primera máxima de una política ética —y toda promoción de derechos
humanos tiene que necesariamente serlo— es no hacer daño. El uso de
sanciones se considera una herramienta legítima para condenar
violaciones de derechos humanos, pero solo bajo especificas
regulaciones. Las sanciones contra Cuba incumplen todos esos parámetros
del derecho internacional. Son unilaterales, condenadas por todos los
organismos multilaterales globales y hemisféricos, y violatorias de la
soberanía de Cuba y terceros países. Incluyen medicinas y alimentos,
agravan la situación de la población en general y no tienen ninguna
cláusula de terminación que fuerce una revaloración periódica de su
vigencia e impacto como estableció el consejo de seguridad de la ONU
para Iraq tras la invasión de Kuwait y el descubrimiento de violaciones
masivas del régimen internacional contra la proliferación de armas de
destrucción masiva.
La discusión sobre sanciones dirigidas a violadores específicos de
derechos humanos, códigos de responsabilidad social corporativa, o
ayudas con condicionalidad democrática carece de relevancia si el punto
de partida son castigos generales al pueblo cubano y la capacidad del
gobierno de implementar la realización progresiva de varios derechos
como el de salud, alimentación, educación y otros. Todo lo que se pueda
hacer en cooperación con el Gobierno cubano, particularmente con su
sector modernizador, debe procurarse. Obama puso fin a la incoherencia
de enviar a Alan Gross a proveer secreto acceso a Internet mientras en
EEUU. se prohibía al Gobierno cubano comprar equipamiento para ese mismo
propósito. Por primera vez desde 1959, la posición oficial
estadounidense pareció ser no contra el Gobierno o el pueblo cubano,
sino por la observancia de estándares internacionales.
Coincido con Sabatini en que el Gobierno cubano ha generado
resentimientos en la comunidad cubana en el exterior y en el pueblo
cubano por injusticias que ha cometido y comete. Esos traumas no
ocurrieron en un vacío. No hay que justificar ninguna de esas
violaciones para entender que la revolución cubana operó en un contexto
hostil a su soberanía. Existen legítimas reclamaciones contra Cuba, como
Cuba tiene legítimas reclamaciones contra EEUU. Cuba dio refugio a
fugitivos de la justicia estadounidense después de que EEUU irrespetó el
tratado de extradición de 1904 entre los dos países dando refugio a los
criminales de la dictadura de Fulgencio Batista, a la que apoyó hasta
apenas unos meses de su derrocamiento.
Nada positivo puede venir de una versión de buenos y malos en el
conflicto entre Estados Unidos como gran potencia y Cuba, el
archipiélago vecino en el Caribe, donde es urgente tener un ambiente de
cooperación, y que no es el patio trasero de nadie. La política exterior
no es el espacio ideal para terapia de catarsis. Como gran potencia, es
realista que Estados Unidos procure que Cuba acomode sus comportamientos
a un orden internacional bajo su hegemonía. Pero tal objetivo no se
alcanzará escogiendo cubanos favoritos ni castigando instituciones como
las fuerzas armadas cubanas.
De cara a la transición generacional en el liderazgo cubano en 2018,
Estados Unidos debe procurar una relación amistosa con todos los
sectores de Cuba, incluidas las Fuerzas Armadas y las fuerzas de
seguridad. Promover la democracia y los derechos humanos es ayudar
procesos y requerir garantías, no escoger preferidos en la política
interna de un Estado soberano.
Los activistas pro-embargo no son activistas de derechos humanos
En la medida en que el respeto estadounidense por la soberanía cubana lo
permita, con la normalidad exterior debe venir la normalidad interior. A
un país bajo asedio externo no se le puede pedir una democracia de paz.
De la misma forma, un país en condiciones normales no tiene pretextos de
emergencia para no respetar los derechos humanos de sus ciudadanos tal y
como están concebidos en los tratados internacionales. Si ese fuese el
caso, allí empezarían los intereses del Partido Comunista y terminarían
los de Cuba.
Como en política, es importante la secuencia, se prioriza lo que
entiende más urgente. El fin del embargo, fortalezca o no al Gobierno
cubano, de seguro destrabaría importantes dinámicas en Cuba de
liberalización y reforma que hoy, mientras exista esa política
norteamericana contra el nacionalismo cubano, están atadas. Los
inmorales no son los viajeros nostálgicos de los 50 ni aquellos que
prefieren priorizar la derrota del embargo. Esos ni ejecutan ni
promueven violación de derecho humano alguno.
Si a alguien le falta claridad es a los que llaman a defensores del
embargo “activistas pro-derechos humanos”. No se pueden llamar tales
quienes invocan la democracia solo los domingos para criticar al
Gobierno cubano por impedir desfilar a las damas de blanco mientras
pisotean tantos derechos humanos de cubanos, norteamericanos y
ciudadanos de terceros países todos los días de la semana.
Este trabajo apareció publicado en OnCuba.

Source: Los derechos humanos como hoja de parra – Artículos – Opinión –
Cuba Encuentro –
www.cubaencuentro.com/opinion/articulos/los-derechos-humanos-como-hoja-de-parra-329994

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“American-Philia” Conquers Cuba http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/american-philia-conquers-cuba/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/07/american-philia-conquers-cuba/#respond Sun, 02 Jul 2017 15:22:30 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138961 “American-Philia” Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 June 2017 — Ten days have passed
since Donald Trump announced his “new” political strategy toward Cuba,
and while the official Cuban press monopoly has wasted gallons of ink on
newspapers and on dozens of reports, interviews and TV programs to show
the world the indignation and rejection of the Cuban people at the gross
interference of US imperialism, which attempts to undermine the
portentous social and economic achievements reached in almost 60 years
of Castro rule, national life continues its boring course at ground
level, far from the rhetorical battles.

If the US president’s speech has had any palpable effect in Cuba, it is
in the possibility of clearly confirming, on a daily basis, the enormous
gap that exists between the olive-green power elite, as an eternalized
political class, and common Cubans. Oblivious to the political and mass
organizations at the service of the gerontocracy, which these days have
shown discipline through the obligatory task of drafting their
declarations of repudiation of the Empire of Evil, the people remain as
alienated from the old “revolutionary” epic, and from its ideological
disputes as is possible. Particularly when the enemy they are fighting
is none other than the endearing monster in whose entrails so many
thousands and thousands of Cubans yearn to live.

A breach that has become all the more visible because the majority of
Cubans today increasingly identify less with the official discourse and
is more irreverent in relation to the State-Party-Government and with
everything it represents.

If anyone were to doubt this, all he would need to do is to walk the
streets of the Cuban capital and check the number of American flags that
proliferate every day, either as articles of clothing worn by numerous
passers-by, such as caps, sandals, head scarves, etc. or decorating the
interior of private transportation. It is like a contest in social
irreverence towards everything that stems from the government and its
colossal propagandistic and repressive apparatus, a phenomenon that was
unthinkable only a few years ago.

Thus, the more the official voice shouts itself hoarse calling for the
union of national sovereignty and the reaffirmation of socialism, not
only does American-philia expand among the population of the island –
with even greater strength, although not exclusively, among the younger
generation – but it also adopts multiple variants of expression. It is
not limited to the open display of the US flag, but also has well-known
trademarks originating in that country, signs of official US
institutions on textiles (including t-shirts labeled: USA, DEA, or FBI,
for example), as well as images and names of famous US cities.

It is like an effect of funny magic, by virtue of which everything
having to do with that country draws me near. Or, to put it another way,
to think intensely about a thing is a superstitious way (like “I hope it
becomes true” while crossing one’s fingers) of preparing the ground for
the pleasure of enjoying it.

But if, in the daily routine of the city, the American symbols continue
to mark the pace, as if mocking that dreaded label of “ideological
diversion,” presumably fallen into disuse, on the beaches the phenomenon
constitutes a quasi-apotheosis. This can easily be seen at the beaches
east of Havana, where coastline areas from El Megano to Guanabo in the
extensive sandy stretches where – despite Trump’s bitter declarations
and the strong patriotic protests of the Cuban government – the stars
and stripes constantly parade in the shape of towels, men’s shorts and
lightweight children’s swimwear, caps, umbrellas and even inflatable
rafts or infant’s lifejackets.

It must be torture for the Castro clan and its claque that no
regulations are in effect, (especially not now, when diplomatic
relations exist between the two countries), that prohibit the use of the
US flag in clothing or in any object created by the human imagination.
Would it be justifiable to quell those who wear a symbol that represents
a friendly people entirely, and not just their political powers?

But this is not about a new phenomenon either. It turns out that this
epidemic of a taste for everything American and its symbols had been
manifesting itself in a more or less contained but constant way for
several years, and was unleashed with marked emphasis at the time of the
reestablishment of relations between the governments of Cuba and the US,
especially during and after President Barack Obama’s visit to a Havana,
until turning into an unstoppable cult to the chagrin of the hierarchy
of the geriatric elite and its ideologic commissaries, who try in vain
to tackle a hare that is like the mythological hydra, spouting seven
heads for each one they cut off.

And while all this intense American mania continues to be sharpened in
Cuba – the historical bastion of the continent’s radical left – the
nationalist affectation of the regime recently chose to prohibit the use
of the Cuban national symbol in a similar way. In fact, Cuban laws
expressly prohibit it.

Consequently, not even the fiercest prospects of their pack of
repudiators or other similarly-minded halberdiers can counteract the
growing “Uncle Sam” effect on Cuban society, since they are barred from
wearing the Cuban national flag as a way to counteract those involuntary
“traitorous” ones, who, without hiding it, continue to publicly display
their admiration for the crème de la crème of evil capitalism, which, it
was taken for granted, had been banished definitively from Cuba since 1959.

Personally, and begging the pardon of the more ardent and sincere
patriots of fetishistic spirit, I am not tempted to worship symbols,
whether from my own country or from others. Even less would I think to
wear a flag, although those who do so – with the vocation of flagpoles –
does not affect me. It is their right. But, strictly speaking, the flag
is nothing more than a rag that many years ago someone designed and
chose to represent us all and that, ultimately, has been used with the
same zeal and passion for the best as for the worst causes, also
supposedly “of everyone.” Ergo, I’m not excited about the flags, but nor
do I feel myself to be any less Cuban than anybody else.

Nevertheless, a flag, as a symbol of something, evidences the feelings
of the individuals who carry it towards that “something.” That, in the
case of the American flag in Cuba, symbolizes exactly the paradigm of
life of the Cubans who exhibit it. An aspiration on a national scale.
So, for those who want to know what Cubans really think about the US, do
not look for the statements published in the official press or the
boring speeches at events: go to the beach. There, relaxing by the sea,
sheltered by a good umbrella and perhaps savoring a cold beer that
protects them from the strong tropical heat, they will see, parading
before their eyes, the mute response of the Cuban people to the Empire
that attacks them.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: “American-Philia” Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/american-philia-conquers-cuba-cubanet-miriam-celaya/

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‘Revolutionary’ Unemployment: A Crime http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/revolutionary-unemployment-a-crime/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/revolutionary-unemployment-a-crime/#respond Fri, 30 Jun 2017 15:09:14 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138952 ‘Revolutionary’ Unemployment: A Crime
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 30 de Junio de 2017 – 10:04 CEST.

The Cuban Government always lies in its economic and social statistics,
and with total impunity, as no figures can actually be verified. It
began to lie at the beginning of 1960, when the president of the
National Bank of Cuba, Che Guevara, fumed upon finding out that the
growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1959 had not reached 1%,
so he forced his economists to look for other methods to calculate it in
order too boost it and burnish the Revolution’s image.

Of all the statistical data offered today by the regime’s National
Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), perhaps the most
outrageously false is the unemployment rate, which it claims was 2,4% in
2016.

However, when Cuba was selected as a member of the Governing Body of the
International Labour Organization (ILO) for the 2017-2020 period, the
ONEI was obliged to inform the ILO that of the seven million people of
working age in Cuba, 4,9 million have work, and the other 2,1 million
are jobless.

This gives us an actual unemployment rate of 30%, one of the highest in
the world, and the second highest in the Americas, behind only Haiti.
But the regime does not admit this to Cubans, lest it admit it to
itself. Castro’s propaganda spreads the myth that there is no
unemployment in Cuba because it is a Marxist-Leninist country, and the
scourge of unemployment is a trait of the “decadent” capitalist system.

Of course, the numbers don’t lie. There are more than two million people
of working age who are unemployed and must scramble just to survive. The
worst thing is that the vast majority of them are young people. They
comprise Castroism/Guevarism’s “new man.” There is no greater waste in
the Americas than the most valuable capital a nation possesses.

A squandering of its most valuable asset

It is a universally recognized axiom that the main economic and social
resource a country has is its human capital, the creative capacity of
its people. This has been the case since the emergence of homo sapiens –
except in the Communist regimes of the 20th century, and into the 21st,
under which private property to produce goods and services constitutes a
heresy punished by the law.

Such is the case in Cuba. The Castroist state was able to maintain more
or less acceptable levels of employment, as long as it had substantial
subsidies from Moscow. But it was all a deck of cards. Workplaces were
inevitably and dramatically overstaffed. There was always room for one
more worker, even if he was not necessary, if he was a friend of someone
employed there.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Venezuelan subsidies proved
insufficient to maintain these levels of unproductiveness, with more
than 1,5 million state employees doing little or no work at all. Thus,
the “Updating of the Socialist Economic Model” became necessary, which,
although it remains a thoroughly Statist and Stalinist plan, the whole
world calls “Raúl Castro’s reforms.”

As if he were on the Moon, and not with his feet on the ground, one of
the first measures announced by the dictator himself, as part of this
“updating” was the gradual laying off of those 1,5 million surplus
workers from state payrolls, but without freeing up the productive
forces of the nation so that a burgeoning private sector could absorb
that enormous number of unemployed Cubans.

In the Middle Ages

That is, the dictatorship behaved as if it were in the Middle Ages,
granting licenses, on a personal basis, to provide only precarious,
medieval-like services. It even excluded university professionals, who,
with their know-how, could have contributed much to the country on their
own. Logically, within a few months the announced mass dismissal was
reversed, as it promised to unleash chaos and, probably, destabilize the
regime.

Despite the fact that there was no private sector capable of
assimilating them, tens of thousands of state workers lost their jobs
anyway due to lack of raw materials in their factories, the closing of
some, and the reduction of industrial and commercial activity due to the
recession resulting from the crisis in Venezuela. Many others continue
to abandon their workplaces on an almost daily basis, because the
average salary of about 23 dollars is not enough for them to survive and
support their families, so they prefer to turn to the black market.

The results are starkly evident. Today the island’s parks and streets
are teeming with men and women of working age. They talk, tell stories
or play with their dogs.

Only 155.605 young people are self-employed, which represents 31% of the
island’s incipient private sector. A bit more than a million young
people work in the state sector, but not for the measly Cuban salary,
but because they can obtain from the State products that they later sell
on the black market to survive.

Oddly enough, stealing from the Cuban state is not a crime, but an act
of self-defense. Thanks to “missing” goods in state inventories, and the
“diversion of resources”, there exists a genuine national market: the
underground one, which keeps Cuban families alive and kicking.

The current 30% unemployment on the island is a reflection of Cuba’s
appallingly unique situation: it is the only country in the hemisphere
that is today less economically and socially advanced than it was in the
middle of the 20th century. Though Haiti has a higher unemploymen rate
than Cuba, its average salary of 59 dollars is double. The
“Revolutionary” island has not even reached square one when it comes to
socio-economic progress, and will need to take its first steps before it
can advance and build a new future.

Undoubtedly, the reconstruction of the devastated country will fall to
those young people who today have no jobs, and hang their university
degrees on the wall, and pedal bicycle taxis, or make a living as human
statues to get tips from tourists.

Cubans who are now barred from being successful private entrepreneurs,
technicians or well-paid employees will be the ones who, with financial
assistance from international and Cuban banks, and foreign and
Cuban-American investors, will rebuild the Cuban economy, which before
the Castroist nightmare was one of the most prosperous in the Americas.
They will construct the modern, democratic country for which we all yearn.

Source: ‘Revolutionary’ Unemployment: A Crime | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498809898_32228.html

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Discurso y medidas de Trump sobre Cuba generan intenso debate http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/discurso-y-medidas-de-trump-sobre-cuba-generan-intenso-debate/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/discurso-y-medidas-de-trump-sobre-cuba-generan-intenso-debate/#respond Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:00:54 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=178950 Discurso y medidas de Trump sobre Cuba generan intenso debate
NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Y allá vamos otra vez. Como casi siempre sucede con el tema cubano, el
anuncio de un cambio de política de Estados Unidos, realizado por el
presidente Donald Trump en Miami la semana pasada, ha generado una
intensa controversia.

Rodeado de exiliados y disidentes cubanos, y entre gritos de “U.S.A”,
Trump anunció la “cancelación” del acuerdo alcanzado por el presidente
Barack Obama con el gobierno de Raúl Castro. Asimismo, firmó un
memorando que prohíbe las transacciones directas con las empresas
controladas por los militares cubanos, entre ellas las que pertenecen al
Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA), y elimina los viajes
individuales de estadounidenses bajo la categoría autorizada de
“contactos pueblo a pueblo”. El memorando también ordena al Departamento
del Tesoro la realización de auditorías a los viajeros estadounidenses
que vayan a Cuba.

La verdadera extensión de las medidas sólo podrá conocerse cuando las
distintas agencias federales implementen las nuevas normas. No obstante,
queda claro que el gobierno de Trump no dio marcha atrás completamente
al deshielo.

Entusiastas, escépticos, expertos y críticos se han volcado a alabar,
analizar, cuestionar o rechazar la nueva política. Estas son algunas de
las reacciones al discurso y las medidas tomadas por Trump.

Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”, opositor: “El haber mencionado los
fusilamientos, la cárcel, la situación de los derechos humanos en Cuba,
eso habla por sí solo… La presencia de un conglomerado bastante
numeroso de organizaciones del exilio y de miembros de la resistencia
interna allí [en el teatro Manuel Artime] de diferentes generaciones y
épocas, eso tiene una carga más allá o más importante que las propias
medidas que se van implementar. Ya eso constituye de por sí una gran
victoria”.

Marcell Felipe, presidente de Inspire America: “Lo más significativo que
sucedió el viernes es que se derogó la directiva presidencial de Obama
de octubre de 2016 donde [sic] el presidente publicó que la democracia
en Cuba ya no era un objetivo de la política americana…[Otro aspecto
es la] Parte simbólica, el presidente dejó bien claro y reafirmó que no
había negociación ninguna con la dictadura castrista hasta que se
cumplan los requisitos de la Ley Helms-Burton. Eso es un cambio de
política dramático…

CubaOne Foundation “La administración de Trump ha dicho que su objetivo
es apoyar al sector privado cubano. Nosotros apoyamos fuertemente este
objetivo pero nos preocupa que la complejidad de la regulaciones, las
amenazas de realizar auditorías y el lenguaje incendiario pueda hacer
más daño que beneficio. Un cambio en el tono y mayor claridad serían
bienvenidos.

Algunos argumentan que las nuevas regulaciones dañarán al sector privado
y nosotros no vamos a emitir juicio sobre este aspecto de la política
hasta que las nuevas regulaciones hayan sido redactadas y publicadas. No
obstante, continuaremos alentando a quienes diseñan las políticas a
crear medidas que apoyen la actividad del sector privado y faciliten el
acercamiento entre el pueblo americano y el cubano”.

Cuba Study Group “El anuncio del presidente Trump indica hoy hasta qué
punto se ha movido el debate sobre la política hacia Cuba, a pesar de la
intensa presión de los escasos partidarios de la línea dura en el
Congreso. Muchos de los logros de la normalización permanecen intactos.
En el mejor de los casos, esta es una victoria parcial para aquellos que
esperaban revertir el aumento de los lazos bilaterales. Sin embargo, el
Cuba Study Group reitera su opinión de que el flujo completamente libre
de personas, ideas, información y bienes ayuda —en lugar de
obstaculizar— el logro una reforma significativa en la isla. Por lo
tanto, exhortamos al presidente Trump a rechazar las medidas parciales
que ha propuesto hoy y seguir una política de plena normalización con la
isla”.

Alan Gross, ex contratista que estuvo preso en Cuba 5 años y fue
liberado el 17 de diciembre del 2014 “Debo expresar mi preocupación por
la falta de claridad en lo que el presidente de Estados Unidos realmente
desea que genere el Departamento del Tesoro a partir de los próximos 30
días [las regulaciones]. Además de eso, casi todo lo que discutió el
presidente, sin entrar en detalles, dañará al emergente sector privado
de la economía. Por ejemplo, al restringir los viajes individuales a
Cuba para favorecer los viajes en grupos, el negocio de Airbnb
probablemente se afectará porque no puede acomodar grupos. Del mismo
modo sucederá con los pequeños restaurantes privados, las aerolíneas
estadounidenses, los taxis privados, etcétera… Y eso sólo es el
inicio. [Las medidas de Trump] no causarán la renuncia del gobierno cubano.

Myriam Celaya, periodista independiente “Lo cierto es que hasta el
momento el gran ganador de las propuestas de Trump es precisamente el
castrismo, toda vez que la retórica de la confrontación es el campo
natural de su discurso ideológico al interior y al exterior de la
isla… Mientras tanto, el “pueblo cubano” —sin voz ni voto en toda esta
saga— sigue siendo el perdedor, apenas un rehén de políticas e intereses
muy ajenos cuya representación se disputan a porfía tanto la dictadura
como el gobierno estadounidense y una buena parte de la oposición.

Habrá que dar al señor Trump las gracias por nada. Una vez más se
enmascara la verdadera causa de la crisis cubana —esto es, la naturaleza
dictatorial y represiva de su gobierno— y vuelve a colocarse la
“solución” de los males de Cuba en las decisiones del gobierno
estadounidense”. (Cubanet)?

Michael J. Bustamente, profesor de la Universidad de la Florida “Los
mayores perdedores en todo esto son los cubanos de a pie, no los
estadounidenses… La Casa Blanca afirma que las nuevas medidas están
destinadas a “canalizar fondos hacia el pueblo cubano” y no hacia el
gobierno cubano, específicamente los militares. (No importa que la
administración parezca estar perfectamente dispuesta a comerciar con
fuerzas armadas represivas en otros lugares.) En realidad, el
efecto—especialmente el de las nuevas restricciones de viajes—será
exactamente lo contrario. Al eliminar los viajes individuales [en la
categoría de contacto] de persona a persona, es muy probable que muchos
menos ciudadanos estadounidenses visiten la isla y se alojen en casas
privadas, [y visiten], restaurantes y otras pequeñas empresas de los
cubanos. En cambio, la nueva política obligará a los viajeros a
[participar de] un mercado más limitado de viajes en grupo para los
contactos pueblo pueblo, que se seguirán permitiendo, pero son
administrados por organizaciones estadounidenses en colaboración con
agencias de turismo patrocinadas por el gobierno cubano.” (Foreign Affairs)

John Kavulich, presidente del U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council ¿El
presidente Donald Trump canceló inmediatamente “el acuerdo completamente
unilateral de la última administración con Cuba”? No, no lo hizo.
¿Recibió el gobierno de Cuba más de lo que ofreció al gobierno de Obama?
Desde una perspectiva comercial y financiera, absolutamente cierto…

La respuesta del gobierno de Cuba a las iniciativas del gobierno de
Trump no tendrá la elasticidad de años anteriores debido a las presiones
cada vez más negativas sobre la economía… de los precios de las
importaciones y exportaciones, la falta de recursos financieros y la
disminución de relaciones beneficiosas como las que tiene con Venezuela
(…) Si Cuba mantiene las políticas comerciales, económicas y políticas
que retrasan las oportunidades para sus ciudadanos, como Estados Unidos
define esas oportunidades y por lo tanto impone límites a la prosperidad
y el éxito, Cuba será rehén de los intereses de los Estados Unidos.

Es deshonesto absolver… al gobierno de Cuba por contribuir al entorno
en el que las iniciativas del gobierno de Trump tratarán de aterrizar
(…) Tanto la acción como la falta de acción tienen consecuencias.

Blogueros oficialistas (entre ellos el cantautor Silvio Rodríguez) Los
blogueros cubanos que suscribimos esta declaración, así como en su
momento, seguimos y animamos el acercamiento entre las dos naciones, a
pesar de sus diferencias, rechazamos la vuelta al discurso ofensivo y la
política de las cavernas, tantas veces derrotada; reprobamos toda
intención de fuerza contra la isla, al tiempo que descalificamos a
terroristas y políticos tramposos como interlocutores válidos para los
cubanos.

El presidente Trump ha de saber que su mandato no se extiende a Cuba y
sus ofensas en el show de la “era del hielo” sólo sirven para reforzar
el sentimiento antiimperialista, como una razón más de unidad (Cubadebate).

Bruno Rodríguez, ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba. “Sin dudas,
la política del presidente Trump marca un retroceso en las relaciones
bilaterales… Anticipo que dichas medidas afectarán las relaciones del
gobierno de Estados Unidos con la América Latina y el Caribe y dañarán
gravemente la credibilidad de su política exterior (…)

Traerán daños económicos no sólo a las empresas estatales en Cuba, sino
también a las cooperativas y dañarán especialmente a los trabajadores
por cuenta propia o privados. Harán daño también y aumentarán la
discriminación contra la emigración cubana asentada en Estados Unidos.

Parece infantil la predicción de que con esta política podrían separar
al pueblo del gobierno o a los ciudadanos de nuestras gloriosas Fuerzas
Armadas Revolucionarias y el Ministerio del Interior, que son el pueblo
uniformado. Al contrario, estas medidas refuerzan nuestro
patriotismo…” (Granma)

Siga a Nora Gámez Torres en Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Política de Trump hacia Cuba genera controversia | El Nuevo
Herald –
www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/cuba-es/article158141654.html

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Between the Official Utopia and Generational Realism http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/between-the-official-utopia-and-generational-realism/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/between-the-official-utopia-and-generational-realism/#respond Fri, 09 Jun 2017 16:45:13 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138821 Between the Official Utopia and Generational Realism / Cubanet, Miriam
Celaya

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 1 June 2017. – A characteristic feature
of ineffective and outdated political regimes is the constant appeal to
the historical past as a mechanism for legitimizing the present, and as
a resource for survival. In the case of Cuba, this principle has been
the rector of official discourse and its means of diffusion, and it has
been applied with particular force in the teaching of History.

As a consequence, several generations of Cubans born shortly before or
after 1959 have grown up indoctrinated in the assumption that all events
from the “discovery” of the Island by Christopher Columbus through
Spanish colonization, the Taking of Havana by the British, the Wars of
Independence, and the brief Republic were nothing more than the
flagstones that paved the long road that would lead to this (even
longer) path -with airs of eternity- known as the “Cuban Revolution”,
our nation’s only and final destination.

The preaching took almost religious tones. Just as Noah saved all of
Earth’s living species, the boat “Granma”, with its young crew, was the
Cuban people’s “salvation”. Thus, judging from history textbooks at all
levels of “revolutionary” teaching, the founding fathers, the
illustrious pro-independence, the brightest Cuban-born intellectuals,
and all decent Cubans for the last 525 years had their hopes set, though
they didn’t know it, in today’s “socialist” Cuba and, above all, in the
pre-eminent guidance of an undisputed leader of world stature who would
continue to lead the ship even beyond material life: Fidel Castro.

With enthusiasm worthy of better causes, most Cuban professors,
including those who teach other subjects and not just History, have
reinforced the systematic misrepresentation of the past. An illustrative
example might be that of a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters
of the University of Havana, who would tell her students that “José
Martí would have been a perfect Cuban, except for one limitation: he was
not a Marxist. However, had he been born in this era, he would most
certainly have been a Marxist. No comments.”

However, despite the official efforts, the flat rejection of history is
embodied in the obstinate student response. Year after year, pedagogical
technocrats, faithful servants of the regime, therefore, accomplices of
that apocryphal, mechanical and boring Cuban History, insist in the
useless need for improving teaching programs, “updating” the contents
and adapting them to the present in order to make them “more attractive”
for students. The problem is a fundamental one, since the objective and
basic principle of the subject is still to blur the values of the past,
to praise a failed sociopolitical system -a fact that most students can
verify in the reality that surrounds them- and to glorify the leadership
that today’s young people find distant, alien and unwanted.

So perverse has the indoctrination been, and so reinforced the idea that
in Cuba everything has been done and decided since January 1st, 1959,
that it has resulted in the opposite effect than what the Power
attempted to achieve. Not only do the new generations show disinterest
in Cuba’s history, but many young people feel alienated from the system,
from the country where they were born, and from that future as promising
as it is unattainable, in search of which their parents and grandparents
became uselessly worn out. The Revolution has lost its heroic quality
for the new generations, who perceive it as a sort of fatal outcome
which they would rather take no notice of. Now the heroes and villains
of video games are infinitely more exciting than that gang of hungry and
stinking guerrillas who roamed an inhospitable mountain range.

It is not by chance, then, that the worst university entrance exams
results, especially in recent years, are precisely in the subject of
Cuban History, according to Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, Minister of
Education, within the framework of the National Council of Federation of
Secondary Education Students (FEEM), adjourned in Havana this last
Saturday, May 27th.

The same Minister also expressed concern about the decrease in the
number of students taking the entrance exams, a phenomenon that is
becoming stronger every year, which shows the growing lack of interest
of the new generations in higher education studies in a country where
professionals often make less than many skilled workers or employees in
restaurants and the service industries.

In fact, unlike the generations of students of the 70’s and 80’s, the
current tendency is a decrease in university enrollment, which does not
necessarily entirely correspond to a State policy, as some claim, but to
a scenario that is distancing itself from the official utopia and
speeches as it approaches an increasingly crumbling reality.

Successive attempts to attract students for teaching careers have not
had the expected results either. Not only are their enrollments still
insufficient, but these centers are essentially sustained by those
students whose depressed academic averages prevent them from pursuing
other, more attractive majors. For decades, teaching careers -along with
agricultural specialties– have not been in very high demand, which is
why they have been the last and sometimes, the only option for
low-achieving young people aspiring to higher education. This factor, in
turn, has weakened the teaching levels, particularly in primary, middle,
and pre-university education.

In turn, the relative success of some private sectors (the
self-employed), related to restaurant services, tourism and other
activities independent of the State seem to be influencing the
decision-making of young people when it comes to choosing between
continuing university studies or opting for expeditious and practical
training that allows them to enter a much more attractive and better
paying labor market.

The crude reality that today’s generations exhibit far surpasses their
parents’ naive romanticism, whose paradigm of success, prestige and
salary advantages were first achieved by getting a university degree, a
mirage that faded rapidly in the face of the deep economic crisis -never
surpassed- which produced in Cuba the collapse of the so-called real
Eastern Europe socialism and pushed thousands of qualified professionals
into survival mode, translated into occupational reorientation in the
presence of the devaluation of the currency, some of them being
contracted out, into conditions of semi-slavery (as in the paradigmatic
case of doctors) or, markedly accented, in emigration as the best
alternative.

Today’s young people -in many cases unaware- are in the presence of the
end of the utopia that marked the lives of several generations of
Cubans. At last, capital has come to be imposed, so they prefer to
dedicate themselves to what provides them with income and prosperity in
the shortest possible term.

It is a pragmatic vision without doubt, more in tune with a
post-egalitarian society, where contrasts proliferate between some
absurd “Guidelines” commanded by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) and the
glamour of capitalism appearing in the stained glass windows of the new
luxury hotels in Havana and other areas of the country. “If the power
elite and their descendants can enjoy the good things in life, why not
us?” reason young people.

It’s true that there are still some areas of interest for young Cubans
in higher education, as in careers related to computer science,
industrial engineering, and art and design, among others. However,
suffice it to consult the enrollment figures today and contrast them
with those in previous years to envision a future that is still being
sketched with lines unequivocally opposed to the utopia.

All indicates that the old myth of the levels of education of Cubans has
begun to crumble, and with it, that sentence that “the future in Cuba
will be that of men of science”. Another gross error of the
Unmentionable, because the Cuban future will belong to those enlightened
ones that have learned better to conduct themselves under the empire of
capitalism.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Between the Official Utopia and Generational Realism / Cubanet,
Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/between-the-official-utopia-and-the-generational-realism-cubanet-miriam-celaya/

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Eliécer Ávila desea “un diálogo” con el régimen http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/eliecer-avila-desea-un-dialogo-con-el-regimen/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/eliecer-avila-desea-un-dialogo-con-el-regimen/#respond Fri, 09 Jun 2017 15:27:24 +0000 http://dhcuba.impela.net/?p=178424 Eliécer Ávila desea “un diálogo” con el régimen
“Si usted quiere ser un revolucionario, tome las armas y haga lo que
hacen los revolucionarios”
Viernes, junio 9, 2017 | María Matienzo Puerto

LA HABANA, Cuba.- Cuando a un cubano cualquiera se le pregunta quién es
Eliécer Ávila enseguida salta el suceso de la UCI (Universidad de
Ciencias Informáticas) que se convirtió en viral en una Cuba sin Internet.

Los más desconectados se asombran de que Eliécer aún permanezca en la
Isla, pero los que, de una manera u otra, se mantienen al tanto de lo
que acontece en la Cuba opositora y saben que el aquel adolescente es
disidente hoy muestran simpatía, aunque no sepan a ciencia cierta qué
está haciendo o simplemente le exigen al que una vez puso en ridículo a
Ricardo Alarcón un mayor protagonismo en el cambio que todos quieren.

Sin embargo, Eliécer Ávila cree que él sí ha dado un “salto cualitativo”
con la fundación de Somos+ hace ya casi cuatro años y su vinculación a
la plataforma #Otro18: “Nosotros, que veníamos con la convicción de que
no podíamos estar promoviendo la fundación de barrios de Miami con el
nombre de Somos+, en el sentido de que no nos convirtiéramos en una
plataforma o un puente para la emigración o en una ONG de asistencia
social de ayuda para esto, ayuda para lo otro, y como sabíamos además
que no íbamos a aspirar a los mismos fondos para trabajar, nos dimos
cuenta que la práctica tenía que ser distinta”.

“Quiero dejar claro que esto no constituye una crítica a lo que se venía
haciendo, sino el reconocimiento al valor de una serie de gente que las
admiramos y reconocemos; pero a nosotros ya nos tocaba dar un salto
cualitativo y tener iniciativas distintas”, acota.

La aclaración es válida en tanto Eliécer Ávila podría ser en el ambiente
de la Cuba opositora una de las voces más controversiales, y las
consecuencias son ventiladas en medios de prensa y redes sociales. La
controversia y la represión van de la mano cuando se trata de Somos+ y
Eliécer Ávila

Continúa explicando qué es Somos+ para analizar luego el porqué de la
represión sobre sus miembros: “No queríamos centrarnos en el pasado, ni
quedarnos girando en torno al presente sino sobre todo tratar de
construir una idea de futuro, una idea que sirviera de guía al resto de
los cubanos. Por eso se unieron al movimiento principalmente personas
preparadas, gente en su gran mayoría universitarios. Tenemos pastores
evangélicos, médicos, enfermeros, ingenieros, estudiantes de varias
universidades”.

“Creo que los órganos represivos se acostumbraron a lidiar con cierto
tipo de activismo que tiene que ver con las protestas en la calle, y que
es válido, pero los órganos de represión bajaban siete u ocho hombres
fuertes de la Brigada de Respuesta Rápida, te montaban en una patrulla y
quedaba invalidada esa acción”, dice Eliécer, y agrega: “Lo que ellos
lograron hacer con éxito durante décadas fue aislar a la oposición de
las corrientes de pensamiento, de diálogo interno, de debate que se
daban dentro de las instituciones, dígase el arte, el cine, en las
universidades, los sindicatos y otros espacios”.

Esta perspectiva de la organización hizo que la plataforma #Otro18, con
su propuesta de reforma electoral y la postulación de candidatos
independientes, fuera una alianza perfecta, pero también un motivo de
represión.

“Evidentemente Somos+ ha venido cultivando ese buen criterio de mucha
gente, tenemos un capital humano bastante adecuado para postularse
políticamente”, asegura su líder. “Estamos hablando de personas
intachables, que tiene un sólido conocimiento de lo que son y lo que
quieren, personas con un respaldo en sus comunidades, por lo que tenemos
una serie de candidatos ganadores en un posible proceso que dependa del
apoyo de sus vecinos”.

Y la elección de algunos de los miembros de Somos+ o del mismo Eliécer
Ávila significaría el acceso al poder, el diálogo con el Estado, lo que
es, además de sus respuestas impulsivas, una de sus aristas como
político que más polémica han suscitado.

“Hemos detectado que las críticas hacia mi persona y Somos+ en realidad
son bastante locales”, hablando en plural para referirse a la dirección
de comunicaciones de la organización. “Son bastante localizadas en tres
o cuatro personas, que con sus criterios válidos, sus preocupaciones
entendibles, tal vez por la historia que han pasado, los extremos que
han vivido. Y nosotros tratamos de comprenderlos y de explicarnos, pero
eso forma parte de la política. No podemos confrontarlos como si fueran
enemigos porque tenemos un sueño en común pero tenemos ideas distintas
de cómo llegar a él”.

Ávila analiza los porqués y los por cuantos: “Es muy polémica la
posición del movimiento, sobre todo porque es nueva. Todo lo que es
nuevo, todo lo que se sale del cánon acostumbrado en un país y en una
familia es polémico. Lo que es nuevo es que nosotros estamos sentando un
centro político donde creemos, además, que está la mayoría del pueblo
cubano”

A lo que agrega: “La mayoría no está ubicada, por un lado, en el extremo
que quiere exterminar de una manera de la faz de la tierra 57 años de
historia como quiera que sea, que para mí son imposibles de borrar; ni
del otro extremo que quiere mantenerse viviendo de la historia”.

Entonces define la posición de Somos+: “Nosotros ni una cosa ni la otra.
Lo que hace falta es poner en primer plano el desarrollo. Esa es una
prioridad en un discurso de oposición que creo que es novedoso y estamos
conscientes de que a muchas personas de ambos lados, acomodadas en sus
discursos, sin pensar en algo más allá que eso, les causa un
cortocircuito. Si analizan a fondo nuestro criterio, nos leen, nos
escuchan creo que vamos a tener una compresión bastante amplia”.

Polémica, disgustos y “el enemigo”

Pero su carrera política ha tenido de todo menos comprensión. Baste
mencionar dos de las polémicas más recientes: La supuesta acusación a
Antonio Rodiles de corrupción que quedó aclarada en medios y redes
sociales, según Eliécer Ávila; y sus criterios sobre el cubano que
corrió con la bandera cubana el Primero de Mayo.

Para él, ambos hechos no fueron tal cual se leyeron.

Sobre el primero afirma: “Yo nunca he dicho que Rodiles es un corrupto”,
y cuenta, grosso modo —porque la historia es bien conocida—, que “en el
marco de una conferencia donde estaban participando unas cuantas
personas, había dos que estaban llamándome a mí, a Cuesta Morúa y a
Yoani Sánchez agentes de la Seguridad del Estado, cobardes, prestados, y
no me dejaban hablar, y a esas personas que se fueron de Cuba y se
robaron dinero aquí de sus organizaciones, les dije, mirándole a los
ojos: ‘yo no marcho con corruptos’”.

El hecho, según el mismo Eliécer, se divulgó mutilado: “Fue un incidente
lamentable para nosotros, aunque no lo propiciamos. Nunca nos
planificamos para hacerlo, fue una reacción, me salió el guajiro”. Y
termina achacándole la diferencia de criterios entre Antonio Rodiles y
otros opositores a “la posición nuestra sobre las relaciones con los
Estados Unidos”.

Sobre “el corredor”, como él y otros le llaman al cubano del 1o de mayo,
dijo: “No digo que el hombre no es un opositor, eso lo dice él”, y se
refiere a las entrevistas que dio a la prensa cuando protagonizó su
protesta a la entrada en el puerto del crucero con turistas
estadounidenses. “Y a mí me parece sano, porque en primer lugar para que
un ciudadano se pronuncie no tiene que ser necesariamente un opositor o
militar en un partido. Creo que el derecho ciudadano es tan legítimo que
no hace falta vestirlo de nada”. Cree además que esta fue una “excelente
oportunidad desperdiciada” para hacer reclamos más concretos y cuestiona
que algunos medios “simbólicamente hagan esa superposición entre bandera
americana y oposición”.

“A muchos, sobre todo los que viven fuera, les puede parecer
interesantísimo. A mí como opositor, que vivo en Cuba, que tengo un
proyecto acusado de servir al imperialismo, honestamente me parece que
políticamente no es lo más deseable”, aunque confiesa que se rio
muchísimo de cómo se les “jodió el desfile a esta gente, porque también
soy un defensor de la libertad de expresión, y porque lo que quiero es
expresarme libremente, me hubiera gustado que no fuera la bandera
americana”.

“Siento que los opinadores en Facebook a veces son extremistas”,
hablando sobre el espacio donde más se le ha cuestionado porque es a su
vez donde él como político ha socializado su postura. Como otros, sabe
que la red social es un centro poderoso de reunión.

“El cubano necesita leer más y no sólo reaccionar. A veces en Facebook
se refleja el pensamiento siempre más extremo”, anota, en tanto se llama
a sí mismo “moderado” e incluye a otros que solo dan un like ante
polémicas entre “comentaristas extremistas”, y conmina a cambiar las
reacciones porque “no podemos seguir permitiendo que los extremistas se
apoderen del mundo. Y eso está pasando en la política, está pasando en
las elecciones, está pasando en los programas de partidos. Las personas
balanceadas, moderadas, estables psicológicamente, capaces de discernir
los objetivos, tenemos que participar más”.

“¿Quién es el enemigo? Sí, lo tengo bien claro, lo que no estoy seguro
que esté en un solo lugar”, y no abunda más en el tema.

El diálogo con el Gobierno “sería deseable”

Ahora que Eliécer Ávila se enfrenta a cargos de “enriquecimiento
ilícito”, y que su caso ha sido maniatado por la Seguridad del Estado,
uno de los argumentos que esgrimen sus detractores cobra vigencia:
¿Creerá que aún el diálogo con el Gobierno es posible?

“Un diálogo con el Gobierno sería deseable porque aun cuando tiene todas
las características que mencionas, el problema es que son ellos quienes
imprimen los pasaportes, administran la policía, los bomberos, quienes
ponen y quitan el agua, quienes hacen o deshacen las carreteras, son
quienes gobiernan”, y esgrime lo que considera, más que un argumento,
una enseñanza que no se debe desechar: “Este Gobierno intentó borrar la
República y no lo logró. Recorres hoy La Habana y lo único que se puede
disfrutar es lo que heredamos. No podemos llegar como los
revolucionarios del siglo XXI y borrar 57 años de ese proceso tan
defectuoso que se llama revolución. Lo que se puede es superar, para eso
tiene que haber evidentemente una confrontación de argumentos y el
Estado es el empleador del 90 % de la fuerza laboral. Por tanto, cuando
hablamos de un diálogo con el Gobierno, es un diálogo con la gente
también, y si nosotros queremos ganar ese pueblo a que ayude a que se
promueva un cambio, no podemos mostrarnos u ofrecernos como la goma de
borrar la historia”.

Remata, en un tono más personal: “Todo lo que he conseguido en mi vida
ha sido explicando mis ideas y a eso se le llama política”, y arguye que
“si usted quiere ser un revolucionario, tome las armas y haga lo que
hacen los revolucionarios; pero si usted quiere participar en política,
lo primero que tiene que entender es que la política es el mecanismo
mediante el cual la gente dialogando resuelven sus problemas. Así que
negar el diálogo es negar la esencia misma de nuestra aspiración”.

Source: Eliécer Ávila desea “un diálogo” con el régimen CubanetCubanet –
www.cubanet.org/facebook/eliecer-avila-estamos-sentando-un-centro-politico/

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Carmelo Mesa-Lago: “The Cuban Government Panicked After Obama’s Visit” http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/carmelo-mesa-lago-the-cuban-government-panicked-after-obamas-visit/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/carmelo-mesa-lago-the-cuban-government-panicked-after-obamas-visit/#respond Fri, 02 Jun 2017 17:25:23 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138753 Carmelo Mesa-Lago: “The Cuban Government Panicked After Obama’s Visit”

14ymedio, Maité Rico, Madrid, 1 June 12017 — Carmelo Mesa-Lago (born
Havana, 1934) has spent a good part of his life trying to open a breach
of good sense in the wall of absurdities with which that the Castro
regime has ended up plunging into bankruptcy a country that was, in the
1950s, the third most developed in Latin America after Argentina and
Uruguay.

A Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, he
has just presented in Madrid the only study on the private sector in
Cuba (Voices Of Change In The Cuban Non-State Sector, published by
Iberoamericana-Vervuert), based on interviews with 80 self-employed
individuals.

Armed with the best statistical data, this economist views with
perplexity how the economic reforms announced by Raúl Castro in 2010 are
being diluted (“the Government takes one step forward and four steps
back”), and how the country is losing the opportunity that was offered
to it last year by the reestablishment of bilateral relations with the
United States.

It was precisely Barack Obama’s outstretched hand that sowed panic in
the Government, which fears that economic openness will lead to
political change. Now there is a brake on the reforms, there are no
investments, and the crisis in Venezuela, which replaced the USSR as
Cuba’s economic supporter, has plunged the country into disaster.

Rico: Is Cuba entering a new “Special Period” [a euphemism to describe
the period of hardship that followed the fall of the USSR and the end of
aid to Cuba]?

Mesa-Lago: The situation is similar, but not so dramatic, because the
dependence on the Soviet Union was much greater than that on
Venezuela. That said, the trade volume with Venezuela has dropped
significantly (from 42% to 27% in 2015) and the supply of oil has
declined from 105,000 barrels a day to 55,000.

Cuba sold a part of that oil in the world market, and it was an
important source of income that has also fallen by half. And another
income that has fallen is the most important one: the sale of
professional services (doctors, nurses, teachers) [to foreign
countries], which went from 11 billion dollars in 2013 to 7 billion. In
2015, GDP growth was 4.4%. In 2016, it was minus 0.9%. Everything points
to a very strong crisis, but I do not think it reaches the level of the
Special Period.

Rico. At least, within this parasitic economy, tourism remains.

Mesa-Lago. There is a boom, for the first time they exceeded four
million tourists and took in about 4 billion dollars. The problem is
that this gross income has to be subtracted from the value of imports of
goods and supplies for tourists. Cuba has to import everything. And that
data is no longer published. So it’s not 4 billion. It’s less, but we do
not know how much.

Rico. Despite the announcement of the investment plan and Obama’s trip,
foreign investment has not materialized and the Special Development
Zone in the Port of Mariel, the big Brazilian bet, is quite inactive.

Mesa-Lago. It is inexplicable. Cuba needs [new investments of] at least
$2.5 billion a year. Until last month there were some 450 proposals for
foreign investment, some of them already established in Cuba. And they
have only approved some twenty of them. According to their figures,
since the opening of the Port of Mariel Special Development Zone the
cumulative figure has not reached 2 billion dollars. Why do they do
this? It does not make sense to me.

Rico. But what can Cuba offer, beyond cheap labor? The system of
production is destroyed.

Mesa-Lago. The infrastructure is a disaster. And the workforce, which is
qualified, works extremely slowly. For the construction of the Manzana
hotel, Kempinski brought workers from India because they were more
productive. The problem is that the Cuban worker earns very little and
is paid in Cuban pesos (CUP), and has to buy most things in convertible
currency (CUC), and they can’t support themselves. There is no
incentive, and it is a vicious cycle. Between 1989, the year before the
crisis, and 2015, the purchasing power of Cubans fell by more than 70%.

Rico. And when are they going to solve the problem of the dual-currency
system?

Mesa-Lago. Raul has announced it many times and two years ago made a
very complicated resolution, full of equations. But nothing
happened. The problem is that inflation will be about 12% this year, it
is very high. And the unification of the currency, by itself, generates
inflation. So I find it difficult to see them doing it in the short
term. In addition, they must first do it in the state sector, and there
will be companies that will cease to be sustainable, and then comes the
population. It’s going to be a longer process than in Vietnam and
probably in China.

Rico. How many workers has the state fired since the reforms began?

Mesa-Lago. They announced that between 2010 and 2015 they were going to
lay off 1.8 million unnecessary workers, but in the end it was half a
million. The private sector did not advance as rapidly as needed to
create all those jobs, and there would have been a social explosion.

Rico. But why does private activity grow so slowly?

Mesa-Lago. Because of all the obstacles. It is as if the right hand
doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. There are many activities that
the Government has closed down or rescinded [the permission for, after
initially granting licenses]: clothing sales, 3D movie theaters … now
they have begun to regulate prices for private taxis and on the sale of
homes, and to interfere in the free agricultural market. Taxation is
brutal. There are something like seven taxes. The Government punishes
those who succeed and who could help the State solve its problems. It is
not logical.…

Rico. And how do you explain it?

Mesa-Lago. The only explanation I have is that in Cuba there is no
unified leadership with a single opinion, but there is a group that
resists. Obama’s visit had a very positive impact on the population, but
the government panicked. From there came a a paralysis. The most
hardline group, the most orthodox, came out stronger than ever.

Rico. Are the Armed Forces putting obstacles in the way?

Mesa-Lago. Yes, and the Party, but the Army is more important because it
has economic power. And it has like a reverse Midas touch. Everything it
touches it turns to garbage … Restaurants, hotels … It is impressive.

Rico. The self-employed people interviewed agree on their problems:
scarcity and lack of inputs, regulatory overspending, taxes, difficult
access to the internet …

Mesa-Lago. Yes, and in spite of the continuous obstruction of the State,
80% of them are satisfied with what they do (although not with what they
earn). And 93% made profits, and most reinvested them into their
business. That is extraordinary.

Rico. Will the team in power be able to make the transition?

Mesa-Lago. If Raúl Castro, in ten years, has not pushed the reforms, I
doubt that his successor can be more successful. Political logic
prevails over economic logic. And they fear losing control.

_____

Editorial Note: This article was previously published in the Spanish
newspaper El País and we reproduce it with authorization of the author.

Source: Carmelo Mesa-Lago: “The Cuban Government Panicked After Obama’s
Visit” – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/carmelo-mesa-lago-the-cuban-government-panicked-after-obamas-visit/

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Danger, Men At Work http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/danger-men-at-work/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/danger-men-at-work/#respond Fri, 02 Jun 2017 17:20:06 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138748 Danger, Men At Work

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 29 May 2017 — They call him “Manolo 440”
because a few years ago he had an electrocution accident in a building
under construction. He managed to survive and has since been given the
nickname of the voltage that almost killed him. He was lucky, unlike the
89 people who died in Cuba last year in one of the 11 work accidents
that occur every day on the Island.

Shortly before April 28, World Occupational Safety and Health Day, a
worker painting the façade of the Hotel Plaza in Havana stumbled and
fell two floors onto the street. He had no protective gear but was lucky
and was taken to the hospital.

The United Nations counts 6,300 people who die every day in the world
due to accidents or work-related illnesses. There are more than 317
million work accidents annually. But that data is only a part of it.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has called for eradicating
the practice of “massaging” the numbers and this year is leading an
intensive campaign in which it insists that it is essential for
countries to improve “their ability to collect and use reliable data on
safety and health in Work (SST).”

In Cuba, information on this scourge is rarely addressed in the press,
although in recent years the National Bureau of Statistics and
Information (ONEI) has published some figures. According to this state
agency, in 2016 occupational accidents totaled 3,576 (144 more than in
the previous year). Havana leads the list of provinces with 27 deaths.

The head of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health at the
Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS), Angel San Martín Duporté,
said a few weeks ago that “66% of accidents are caused by the poor
conduct of men and women. ”

However, workers say the principal causes of work accidents are poor
organization, the chaotic supply of protective gear and measures, and
the incompetence of unions in demanding compliance with safety protocols
as the main causes of workplace accidents.

“These boots were brought to me by a relative from Ecuador,” says a
sugarcane cutter at the Majibacoa sugar mill in Las Tunas. The man, who
preferred to be called Ricardo to avoid reprisals, said agricultural
workers in the area are subject to frequent “cuts on their hands and
feet.” He says, “the type of footwear matters a lot, because if it is
strong and high the chances of getting cut are smaller.”

All those who work alongside Ricardo are dressed in old military
uniforms that were gifts or that they bought in the informal
market. “They do not give us adequate clothes and when it does come the
sizes are too small or too large,” the cane cutter complains. “We have
had colleagues who don’t even have a hat and have gotten sun stroke,
with dizziness, headaches and even vomiting,” he emphasizes.

Clothing and footwear are among the personal protective equipment which
according to the new Labor Code must be supplied free of charge by the
employer. Although an official of the Ministry of Labor and Social
Security clarifies via telephone to this newspaper that “each company
has autonomy to modify those issues.”

Damaris, head of a construction brigade located in Central Havana, says
that the workers under her command are “very upset” because now they
have to pay for their work clothes and shoes. Previously, both garments
were “supplied free” but now are “deducted from wages” and in response
the workers are refusing to pay the union dues.

The Government allocates between 20% and 30% of the gross monthly salary
of a construction worker linked to the tourist sector to pay for life
insurance. “When someone is injured, that money is supposed to cover
them, but the truth is that it serves for very little.”

An injured worker has the right to receive benefits in services such as
orthopedic appliances and prosthetics, according to Law 105/8 of Social
Security. As far as economic compensation is concerned, they get a total
or partial disability pension which can reach up to 90% of
their salary. In the case of death, the amount goes to the nearest
relatives such as husbands or minor children.

For a person in delicate health, that money barely lasts for a couple of
weeks. “I lost three fingers while working on the railroads,” says
Yasiel Ruíz, a transportation technician who now sells churros near a
school in Marianao.

The former state employee would have received a disability payment of
less than the equivalent of 5 Cuban convertible pesos per month (about
$5 US), so he decided to start his own business. “I gave up the
financial compensation because it was more paperwork than benefits. My
family helps me and I have become accustomed to not having those
fingers, but at the beginning it was difficult,” he confesses. He claims
that the accident in which he suffered the amputation was caused by “a
failure to close a cattle transfer cage,” but he never brought his case
to a labor court.

Decisions like his are repeated over and over again. Vicente A.
Entrialgo León, a lawyer specializing in labor law, recently confirmed
to the official press that in Cuba “there are not a great number of
claims around this issue.”

But the danger is not only in the complicated work of construction, the
hard work of the countryside, or the roughness of working on the railroad.

Nuria is afraid of contracting a disease at the polyclinic in Plaza of
the Revolution municipality where she works as a dentist. “I get three
pairs of gloves a day and many times they break while I’m taking care of
a patient, but I cannot change them,” she complains. She says that there
is little distribution of “equipment and hygiene items” to keep the
place clean and “to protect patients and staff.”

The National Labor Inspection Office (ONIT) must ensure that these
situations do not happen and demand “administrative responsibility” in
case of accidents. But Nuria has never seen a representative of that
entity visiting the health center clinics where she works. “This is like
Russian roulette, any day I could get an infection.”

Source: Danger, Men At Work – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/danger-men-at-work/

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The crisis in Venezuela, according to Cuba’s official press http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/the-crisis-in-venezuela-according-to-cubas-official-press/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/06/the-crisis-in-venezuela-according-to-cubas-official-press/#respond Fri, 02 Jun 2017 13:21:44 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138713 The crisis in Venezuela, according to Cuba’s official press
BORIS GONZÁLEZ ARENAS | La Habana | 2 de Junio de 2017 – 11:20 CEST.

On Tuesday, May 23 journalist Irma Shelton Tase, of Cuban Television’s
daily news broadcast, spotlighted statements made by Carlos Aquino, a
member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Venezuela.
Commenting on the spread of social protests in his country, the official
stated that “the solution to this escalation … does not involve
conciliation between the classes. Then he added: “As one of our slogans
says, ‘Peace is achieved by defeating the fascists, not reconciling with
them.'”

In the remainder of her report, Irma Shelton had no qualms about calling
imprisoned Venezuelan dissidents “terrorists,” Hugo Chavez the “eternal
commander,” and demonstrations, “fascist.” The linguistic overlap
between the Venezuelan Communist official and the Cuban journalist
should surprise no one.

In his book LTI: The Language of the Third Reich the German philologist
Victor Klemperer argues that the language of Nazism is characterized by
its poverty, and that Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was the
work underpinning it. Klemperer, a Jew who survived the Holocaust by
being married to an “Aryan” German, points out that it was with the rise
to power of National Socialism that the group’s language became that of
the entire people; “That is to say, it took over every public and
private sphere: politics, jurisprudence, economics, art, science,
schools, sports, family, kindergartens and children’s rooms.”

A “common language” also calls for a gross transformation of reality.
Those of us who are following with interest what is happening in
Venezuela recently saw how on May 8 journalist Juana Carrasco, in an
article published in Juventud Rebelde, confused an armored military
vehicle with a police car, and misreported: “Violent protesters burn
police car in Caracas.”

But the journalistic “highlight” of these “Venezuelan days” came from
journalist Alina Perera Robbio. For her efficacy, she was sent as a
special envoy to that country, and her reports appear in both Granma and
Rebel Youth.

With headlines like Bolivar’s Prophecy Fulfilled and Venezuela Deals the
Terrorists a Hard Blow, Perera Robbio both glorifies the chavista
political class while criminalizing its opponents. These are key
elements of a jargon that, as described by Klemperer, not only pervades
every public and private sphere of a nation, but also manages to
transcend national borders and unite similar political regimes.

In this environment impossible alliances are decreed and foreign
elements are assimilated. In an interview a few days ago by Alina Perera
Robbio of Roberto López Hernández, Cuba’s Vice Minister of Foreign
Trade, when addressing bilateral relations with Venezuela, the official
described the links between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez like those
between a “father and son, of profound love.” In this way he responded
to questions in which the “special envoy” inquired about Hugo Chávez’s
personality with hard-hitting questions like: “He was a poet,
philosopher, very sensitive. Did you have the chance to appreciate those
facets of his?” And “Did you ever see him sad?”

Thanks to the tight and extensive control enforced by Cuba’s official
news editors, the name of Luisa Ortega, the chavista prosecutor who
actually condemned Nicolas Maduro’s rupture of the constitutional order,
will remain unknown. As will the nature of this constitutional
violation, through with which the Venezuelan president seeks to impose a
constitution amenable to his authoritarian tendencies. Our official
journalists fail to mention that the current situation was preceded and
spawned by elections in which 64% of the South American country’s people
voted in favor of the Mesa de Unidad Democrática, in December of 2015,
ushering into the legislative branch a surprising majority of members of
this political group.

But this “common language” is nothing without persistent omissions. To
be assimilated in the simple way it aspires to be, the “common language”
requires the omission of all elements that might prompt reflection,
critical judgment or intelligence. “Reality” needs to appear before its
consumers in the clearest and simplest way possible.

Source: The crisis in Venezuela, according to Cuba’s official press |
Diario de Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496395224_31589.html

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Cuba to close 2017 cigar harvest with nearly 30,000 tons of tobacco leaves http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/cuba-to-close-2017-cigar-harvest-with-nearly-30000-tons-of-tobacco-leaves/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/cuba-to-close-2017-cigar-harvest-with-nearly-30000-tons-of-tobacco-leaves/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 17:20:17 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138699 Cuba to close 2017 cigar harvest with nearly 30,000 tons of tobacco leaves
Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-30 11:27:02

HAVANA, May 29 (Xinhua) — Cuba will conclude its current tobacco
harvest with almost 30,000 tons of leaves, which is expected to increase
incomes of one of the island’s main exports and have a positive impact
on its economy.
The state-owned Tabacuba business group on Monday reported a “favorable”
harvest as all cigar companies in the country fulfilled the plantation
process. However, not all of them will complete the scheduled productions.
Gonzalo Rodriguez, agricultural director of Tabacuba, said to local
media that the western province of Pinar del Rio, where the best leaves
are planted, contributed about 70 percent of the national production and
will try to reach 19,000 tons.
“We’ll advance on a project to promote tobacco plantations in the
eastern and central areas of the island in order to supply the Holguin
cigar factory which has a demand of more than 8,000 tons of leaves,” he
said.
Rodriguez highlighted the “significant” increase in “covered tobacco,”
which is a method to grow the crop inside a cloth covered house that
filters sunlight and retains the heat allowing bigger and thinner leaves.
“These thin leaves collected at these plantations are used to cover the
outside layer of premium cigars to give them the finest taste of all,”
he said.
In addition, he said the island hopes to complete the harvest in
mid-July and then start planting seeds for the next tobacco campaign.
Last year, Cuba reached 24,000 tons of leaves during its tobacco
harvest, according to official data provided by Tabacuba.
Tabacuba runs 96 cigar factories in the nation, 46 of which are
dedicated exclusively to producing cigars for exports and are entirely
rolled by hand.
This industry employs about 200,000 workers in the island, and the
figure rises to 250,000 at the peak of the harvest.
Cigar exports are the fourth source of revenues to Cuba’s gross domestic
product, which reached 445 million U.S. dollars in 2016.
Currently, the main clients of Cuban cigars are customers in Spain,
France, China and Germany.

Source: Cuba to close 2017 cigar harvest with nearly 30,000 tons of
tobacco leaves – Xinhua | English.news.cn –
news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/30/c_136325561.htm

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No USAID funds for Cuba in Trump budget proposal http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/no-usaid-funds-for-cuba-in-trump-budget-proposal/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/no-usaid-funds-for-cuba-in-trump-budget-proposal/#respond Tue, 30 May 2017 18:48:26 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138691 No USAID funds for Cuba in Trump budget proposal
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@miamiherald.com

USAID programs in Cuba, which have been highly controversial in recent
years, aren’t funded under the Trump administration’s proposed State
Department budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

“As we work to streamline efforts to ensure efficiency and effectiveness
of U.S. taxpayer dollars, we acknowledge that we have to prioritize and
make some tough choices,” said a USAID spokesperson. “Focusing our
efforts will allow us to advance our most important policy goals of
protecting America and creating American jobs.”

There are no economic support funds for Cuba in the State Department’s
2018 budget proposal, which was released Tuesday. Such funding, which is
appropriated by Congress and provided to USAID by the State Department,
reached $20 million in fiscal year 2016 under the Obama administration.

Aid to Venezuela and Ecuador also has been cut completely and funding
for Nicaragua was whittled from $10 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to
$200,000 in the proposed budget. All are leftist governments.

The Trump administration proposed slashing the overall State Department
and USAID budget by around 30 percent to $37.6 billion. In his letter to
Congress justifying the 400-page budget proposal, Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson said the budget addresses “the importance of defending our
national security interests” but also acknowledges that “U.S. diplomacy
engagement and aid programs must be more efficient and more effective.”

The proposed budget cuts are expected to face a tough slog through Congress.

“The White House is obligated to provide Congress its budget request but
Congress ultimately has the power of the purse,” said South Florida
Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “This budget is very troubling when
it comes to democracy funding for countries in Latin America. It is
imperative for the United States to continue to support civil society
and human rights activists in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she would work with her “colleagues in Congress in a
bipartisan manner to ensure that we rectify this problem.”

Assistance to Cuba is governed by the 1996 Helms-Burton Act and the 1992
Cuban Democracy Act, which among other things, authorizes donations of
food to non-governmental organizations or individuals as well as other
assistance to individuals and organizations to promote nonviolent,
democratic change in Cuba.

Cuba has always said the USAID programs aren’t welcomed.

Cuba programs that USAID advertised last year included $6 million in
grants offered over a three-year period to organizations to “provide
humanitarian assistance to political prisoners and their families, and
politically marginalized individuals and groups in Cuba,” and a $754,000
program to bring Cuban young people to the United States for internships.

Among USAID programs for Cuba that have caught flak in recent years were
a failed effort to co-opt the Cuban hip-hop scene to spark a youth
movement that would speak out against the government, a program to
create a secret Twitter-like network called ZunZuneo and an event billed
as an HIV prevention workshop that brought young Latin Americans posing
as tourists to Cuba with a mission of scouting for “potential
social-change actors.”

The Associated Press, which first disclosed these projects in 2014, said
the goal of ZunZuneo was first to create a program for Cubans to speak
freely among themselves and then funnel political content that could
create political unrest.

USAID said ZunZuneo’s goal was to connect Cubans so eventually they
could engage on topics of their choice and that only tech news, sports
scores and trivia were sent out on ZunZuneo. But a report by the Office
of Inspector General found some early messages, which mocked Cuban
leaders, contained political satire.

ZunZuneo was starting up just as USAID subcontractor Alan Gross was
arrested in Havana in December 2009 for distributing satellite equipment
in Cuba to link with the internet. Gross was sentenced to 15 years by a
Cuban court that ruled his intent was to undermine the government, but
he was released after serving five years Dec. 17, 2014. It was the day
the United States and Cuba announced a rapprochement after more than a
half century of hostilities.

There are few direct references to Cuba in the fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

But under Migration and Refugee Assistance programs in the Western
Hemisphere, which are budgeted for $51.3 million, is this reference: “In
Cuba, resources enable the State Department to support the Migrant
Operations Center at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay. Under 306 Executive
Order 13276, the State Department is responsible for the care of
migrants interdicted at sea, determined to be in need of protection,
while they await third country resettlement.”

Amid all the cutting, the budget proposes a $40,00 increase to $2.41
million for the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC). This
quasi-judicial agency within the Department of Justice adjudicates
claims of U.S. nationals against foreign governments. The proposal says
the agency’s budget would go for the continued evaluation of claims, to
maintain the decisions and records of past claims programs and to
modernize such records by creating and updating databases.

While the FCSC deals with outstanding claims around the world, it is the
repository of 5,913 certified claims against Cuba valued at more than
$1.9 billion. In today’s dollars with interest added, those claims for
sugar mills, ranches, utilities, corporate holdings and personal
property would be worth around $8 billion.

However, Cuba claims the United States owes it billions in reparations
for economic damages caused by the U.S. embargo and for human damages
for the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bombing of a Cubana airliner and other
deadly U.S.-supported incursions on Cuban soil.

The two sides met to discuss the claims during the Obama administration
but at this point they have said little more than they hope their claims
can be resolved in a “mutually satisfactory manner.”

FOLLOW MIMI WHITEFIELD ON TWITTER: @HERALDMIMI

Source: No USAID funds for Cuba in Trump’s FY 2018 budget | Miami Herald

www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article152299727.html

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Castro Regime Rushes Unfinished Business Before Raul Leaves the Presidency http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/castro-regime-rushes-unfinished-business-before-raul-leaves-the-presidency/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/castro-regime-rushes-unfinished-business-before-raul-leaves-the-presidency/#respond Sun, 21 May 2017 17:23:31 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138675 Castro Regime Rushes Unfinished Business Before Raul Leaves the Presidency

14ymedio, Havana, 19 May 2017 — The government rushed on Friday to
accomplish some pending tasks before Raul Castro leaves the
presidency. The Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party ratified two programmatic documents at a meeting where
Marino Murillo reappeared, vice-president of the Council of Ministers
removed from the family photo of power as of November of last year.

Just 40 days before the promised deadline, the Conceptualization of the
Cuban Social and Economic Development Model and the bases of the
National Economic and Social Development Plan were approved until 2030.
The package also included compliance with the new modifications to The
Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the
Revolution.

A note read on the noon edition of the television news reported that
President Raul Castro considers these documents as “the most studied,
discussed and rediscussed in the history of the Revolution.” The
approval of the texts occurs after a long process in which, it is said,
more than 1.5 million Cubans participated.

The Plenum agreed to submit to the consideration of the National
Assembly the Conceptualization of the Model and the Guidelines, but with
regards to the Plan it only proposed to inform the parliamentarians
about its approval.

The ratification of these programs comes at a difficult time for the
country. Last year, the island experienced a 0.9% decrease in its Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time since 1995. Stopping this drop
and obtaining an increase in GDP is the government’s main economic
objective for this year.

The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has caused an abrupt drop
in oil imports to the island. Of the 100,000 barrels a day received by
Cuba at a subsidized price during the best years of closer ties with
Venezulea, analysts estimate that now only less than half as many
barrels are arriving.

A Russian oil company has taken on providing an emergency supply and
plans to send in the next few months about 250,000 tonnes of oil and
diesel to the island where, since last year, the consumption of
electricity in state entities has been rationed and cuts have been
applied to the fuel supply.

The current scenario directly raised questions about what was
established in the Plan for 2030.

The Conceptualization does not reference that the ultimate goal of Cuban
socialism is to build the communist society; nor does it mention as a
goal the suppression of the exploitation of man by man.

Missing in the document are topics of great interest to the population
such as the elimination of rationing system, the permitting of
professionals to exercise self-employment in their specialties, or human
rights.

Source: Castro Regime Rushes Unfinished Business Before Raul Leaves the
Presidency – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/castro-regime-rushes-unfinished-business-before-raul-leaves-the-presidency/

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Cuba: Forbidden Fruit http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/cuba-forbidden-fruit/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/cuba-forbidden-fruit/#respond Sat, 20 May 2017 17:58:23 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138672 Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García

Iván García, 11 May 2017 — Scarcely a block away from the majestic Grand
Hotel Manzana Kempinski, whose inauguration is expected next June 2nd,
next to the Payret cinema, a state-owned cafeteria sells an acidic and
insipid hamburger with bread for the equivalent of 50 centavos. Workers
in the neighbourhood and beggars who survive on asking foreigners for
change, form a small queue to buy the inedible hamburger.

The hotel, built by Kempinski, a company started in Berlin in 1897,
stands in the place of the old Manzana de Gómez, the first shopping mall
on the island, at Neptuno, San Rafael, Zulueta and Monserrate streets,
in the heart of Havana. Opened in 1910, throughout its history, the
Manzana de Gómez housed everything from offices, lawyers’ chambers and
commercial consultants to businesses, cafes and restaurants and other
enterprises.

Very near to Manzana Kempinski, the first five star hotel there, will be
the Cuban parliament, still a work in progress, which will have as its
headquarters the old National Capitol, a smaller scale replica of the
Congress in Washington.

The splendid hotel, owned by Gaviota, a Cuban military corporation, and
managed by the Kepinski organisation, can boast of having the old Centro
Asturiano, now the home of the Fine Arts Museum’s private collections,
the Havana Gran Teatro and the Inglaterra, Telégrafo, Plaza and Parque
Central hotels as neighbours.

Apart from the recently-built Parque Central Hotel, the other three
hotels are situated in 19th century or Republican era buildings, and are
among the most beautiful in the city. In the centre of these
architectural jewels we find Havana Park, presided over by the statue of
the national hero, José Martí.

In those four hotels, you will find shops selling exclusively in
convertible pesos (CUC), a strong currency created by Fidel Castro for
the purpose of buying high quality capitalist goods.

Incidentally, they pay their employees in the Cuban Pesos (CUP), or
national currency. In the tourism, telecoms and civil aviation sectors,
their employees only earn 10-35 CUC as commission.

The chavito, as the Cubans term the CUC, is a revolving door which
controls the territory between the socialist botch-ups, shortages and
third rate services and the good or excellent products invoiced by the
“class enemies”, as the Marxist theory has it, which supports the olive
green bunch which has been governing the island since 1959.

21st century Cuba is an absurd puzzle. Those in charge talk about
defending the poor, go on about social justice and prosperous
sustainable socialism, but the working class and retired people are
worse off.

The regime is incapable of starting up stocked markets, putting up good
quality apartment blocks, reasonably priced hotels where a workman could
stay or even maintaining houses, streets and sidewalks in and around the
neighborhoods of the capital. But it invests a good part of the gross
domestic product in attracting foreign currency.

José, a private taxi driver, thinks that it’s good to have millions of
tourists pouring millions of dollars into the state’s cash register.
“But, the cash should then be reinvested in improving the country. From
the ’80’s on, the government has bet on tourism. And how much money has
come over all those years? And in which productive sectors has it been
invested?” asks the driver of a clapped-out Soviet-era Moskovitch.

Government officials should tell us. But they don’t. In Cuba, supposedly
public money is managed in the utmost secrecy. Nobody knows where the
foreign currency earned by the state actually ends up and the officials
look uncomfortable when you ask them to explain about offshore
Panamanian or Swiss bank accounts.

In this social experiment, which brings together the worst of socialism
imported from the USSR with the most repugnant aspects of African style
capitalist monopoly, in the ruined streets of Havana, they allow Rapid
and Furious to be filmed, they tidy up the Paseo del Prado for a Chanel
parade or open a Qatar style hotel like the Manzana Kampinski, in an
area surrounded by filth, where there is no water and families have only
one meal a day to eat.

In a car dealer in Primelles on the corner of Via Blanca, in El Cerro,
they sell cars at insulting prices. The hoods of the cars are covered in
dust and a used car costs between $15-40,000. A Peugeot 508, at $300k,
is dearer than a Lamborghini.

For the authorities, the excessive prices are a “revolutionary tax”, and
with this money they have said they will defray the cost of buying city
buses. It’s a joke: they have hardly sold more than about forty
second-hand cars in three years and public transport goes from bad to worse.

For Danay, a secondary school teacher, it isn’t the government opening
hotels and luxury shops that annoys her, “What pisses me off is that
everything is unreal. How can they sell stuff that no-one could afford
even if they worked for 500 years? Is it some kind of macabre joke, and
an insult to all Cuban workers?” Danay asks herself, while she hangs
around the shopping centre in the Hotel Kempinski.

In the wide reinforced concrete passageways, what you normally see there
is amazing. With his girl friend embracing him, Ronald, a university
student, smiles sarcastically as he looks in a jewelry shop window at
some emeralds going for more than 24k convertible pesos. “In another
shop, a Canon camera costs 7,500 CUC. It’s mad.” And he adds:

“In other countries they sell expensive items, but they also have items
for more affordable prices. Who the hell could buy that in Cuba, my
friend? Apart from those people (in the government), the Cuban major
league baseball players who get paid millions of dollars, and the people
who have emigrated and earn lots of money in the United States. I don’t
think tourists are going to buy things they can get more cheaply in
their own countries. If at any time I had any doubts about the essential
truth about this government, I can see it here: we are living in a
divided society. Capitalism for the people up there, and socialism and
poverty for us lot down here”.

Security guards dressed in grey uniforms, with earphones in their ears
and surly-looking faces, have a go at anyone taking photos or connecting
to the internet via wifi. People complain “If they don’t let you take
photos or connect to the internet, then they are not letting Cubans come
in”, says an irritated woman.

In the middle of the ground floor of what is now the Hotel Kempinski,
which used to be the Manzana de Gómez mall, in 1965 a bronze effigy of
Julio Antonio Mella, the student leaders and founder of the first
Communist party in 1925, was unveiled. The sculpture has disappeared
from there.

“In the middle of all this luxurious capitalism, there is no place for
Mella’s statue”, comments a man looking at the window displays with his
granddaughter. Or probably the government felt embarrassed by it.

Iván García

Note: About the Mella bust, in an article entitled Not forgotten or
dead, published 6th May in the Juventud Rebelde magazine, the journalist
Ciro Bianchi Ross wrote: “I have often asked myself what was the point
of the Mella bust which they put in the middle of the Manzana de Gómez
mall and then removed seven years ago, before the old building started
to be transformed into a luxury hotel, and which seems to bother people
now. Mella had nothing in common with that building. The Manzana de
Gómez had no connection with his life or his political journey. Apart
from the fact that from an artistic point of view it didn’t look like
anything”.

Translated by GH

Source: Cuba: Forbidden Fruit / Iván García – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/cuba-forbidden-fruit-ivn-garca/

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Why Cuba’s Brain Drain Looks Different http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 15:26:13 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138643 Why Cuba’s Brain Drain Looks Different
MAY 15, 2017 BY MONIKA DONIMIRSKA

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cuba is
experiencing a brain drain, though it’s not the kind that forecasters
were predicting when the long-closed country began opening its borders.
It’s internal brain drain, says Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of
the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business Office of
Global Initiatives and Center for International Business Education and
Research.

The small island nation’s doctors and other highly skilled workers
aren’t emigrating for more lucrative jobs in Miami and elsewhere. In
fact, they aren’t emigrating at all. They’re staying in Cuba, but moving
toward the burgeoning hospitality sector.

And it’s posing a major new threat to Cuba, Bellinger says. „Cubans are
deciding that they’ll have a higher quality of life if they enter the
travel and service industry.”

To be sure, some highly skilled Cubans – doctors, lawyers, professors
and others – are leaving the country in search of opportunity. But many
more who are staying in Cuba are opting to leave their jobs because of
low state salaries or are taking on second jobs, becoming taxi drivers,
waiters and bellhops – jobs involving regular interaction with foreign
visitors and their hard currency. The government is experiencing a sort
of „drain” as well, as state workers flee their jobs for the more
lucrative private sector.

„These are people who are leaving the jobs for which they have been
trained,” Bellinger says. „Last year, we met an English teacher who left
his rural school position to become a tour guide, both to use the
language he had learned and to gain access to hard currency.”

Cuba’s universities have long been regarded as the best in Latin
America, but in recent years, gross enrollment has been plummeting,
sparking additional worries.

The country maintains two forms of legal tender: the Cuban peso (CUP)
and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S.
dollar, and is many times more valuable than the CUP. Neither trades on
the global forex market. Most Cubans are paid in the weaker peso (CUP),
limiting their buying power. Visitors to the country use the CUC and
leave tips, and that’s helping to fuel Cuba’s internal brain drain.

Bellinger has been traveling to Cuba since 2010, studying what’s
happening there as she forges experiential learning opportunities for
students and collaborative partnerships with the University of Havana
and its associated research centers. As part of her work with NAFSA, the
Association of International Educators, she has worked with the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, a Treasury Department unit that manages
sanctions, to educate the higher education community in the U.S. on
regulations that govern legal travel to Cuba. She also leads the CIBER
Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Program to Cuba for
faculty from across the U.S.

She has seen an uneven upturn in travel, steep in Havana, but shallow
everywhere else.

„Last year, we were told by a hotel manager that Havana has 100 percent
capacity in hotels all year long,” she says. The capital city is so full
of foreign travelers today that it’s scarcely recognizable from even a
year ago.

Travel to Cuba’s secondary cities, meanwhile, has been generally missing
the boom. That’s in large part because U.S. travelers have faced highly
restrictive travel conditions in the past and may not be aware of what
the island has to offer outside of Havana.

To be approved for travel to Cuba, Americans must have an itinerary that
aligns with one of 12 approved purposes, which include religious
activities, journalism, humanitarian projects and people-to-people
outreach. „And tourism is not one of them. This is not a destination
that U.S. citizens can just explore for sun and sand,” Bellinger says.
That has kept most U.S. travelers in Havana for now, but gradually that
will change, Bellinger says, as U.S. relations with Cuba continue to evolve.

As Cuba looks to its future, Bellinger says, it must focus on these
eight things.

Support economic reforms: This has already begun, Bellinger notes, but
much work remains. The economic reforms announced in 2010 have
encouraged development and job creation in the non-state sector, which
has eased the financial burden on the state. Over 500,000 Cubans are now
self-employed in their own microenterprises and private cooperatives,
but the regulations that govern these businesses are still constraining.
For example, private restaurants are able to have only 50 seats, and
private companies are not permitted to import any goods or foodstuff to
support their business.

Address the dual currency issue: Rebuild the country around a single
currency, to level the playing field for Cubans and increase consumer
confidence.

Address salary issue: Traditionally esteemed, high-skilled work should
be appropriately compensated, to counter brain drain tendencies in the
country.

Invest in innovative capacity: „Because of Cuba’s history,” Bellinger
says, „it does not lack the ability to innovate. Just think about the
old jalopies.” Closed off from much global trade, Cubans have long found
ways to maintain and retrofit 50-year-old automobiles. „That type of
innovation exists,” she says, „but so do impressive global innovations
in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

Ease access to information: Access to the internet has increased in
Cuba, with about 2,000 homes in Havana authorized to receive the
internet directly and with the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing
virtually every day. „It is fantastic,” Bellinger says, „that the
government is no longer afraid of giving people access to information.”
The country should encourage the democratization of the internet,
allowing greater accessibility at a fair and level price, she adds. In
most countries, internet prices are determined based on the amount of
data used. In Cuba, users are charged based on the types of websites
visited, with domestic websites costing less than foreign ones. Some
foreign websites are still blocked in Cuba.

Educate a generation of business leaders: For a half-century beginning
around 1960, the economy was generally controlled by the Cuban
government. Now, the country faces a crisis in business education: Who
will educate the next generation of business leaders, job creators and
entrepreneurs? The reforms that have allowed for the creation of private
business have not been supported with education, meaning that the
individuals starting and running small businesses do not have access to
the formal training they need to be successful. The Catholic Church has
begun a program that’s similar to a masters of business program, and a
Miami-based nonprofit is doing some startup business training on what
Bellinger describes as „a very small scale.” But education remains an
area where Cuba prohibits joint ventures with foreign entities, so
prospects for business education remain murky.

Improve transportation and infrastructure: Cuba has infrastructure
problems, „first and foremost,” Bellinger says, making travel cumbersome
between Havana and the country’s secondary cities. Addressing those
problem would spread economic development across the island.

Choose democracy: Elections are planned for 2018, when Cuban President
Raul Castro plans to step down. „But if there’s going to be an election,
is it going to be fair? Who will be the key players? We don’t know,”
Bellinger says. „It’s as important as ever that Cuba listen to its
citizens.”

Central to her suggestions is the notion of investing in human capital.
„At the end of the day,” Bellinger says, „if you don’t invest in human
capital – if you don’t invest in your workforce – nothing is going to
change in Cuba.”

Visit Smith Brain Trust for related content
at www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust and
follow on Twitter @SmithBrainTrust.

About the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized
leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and
schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School
offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online
MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as
outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its
degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North
America and Asia.

Contact: Greg Muraski at 301-892-0973 or gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu

Source: Why Cuba’s Brain Drain Looks Different | satPRnews –
www.satprnews.com/2017/05/15/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/

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The Dangers of Hatred http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/the-dangers-of-hatred/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/the-dangers-of-hatred/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 19:36:33 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138554 The Dangers of Hatred / Miriam Celaya

Cubanet, Norma Whiting, West Palm Beach, U.S., 29 April 2017 – The news,
later refuted, of a supposed Cuban flag burning in recent days by
Venezuelan demonstrators who oppose the government of Nicolás Maduro
provoked diverse reactions on social networks and some Cuban websites.
Many Cubans, mostly residing overseas, immediately expressed their
indignation against Venezuelans at what they interpret as an affront to
a national symbol they consider sacred, which does not represent in the
least the dictatorial power that has ruled Cuba for almost sixty years,
ultimately co-responsible for the deep political, social and economic
crisis that Venezuela is currently experiencing.

The misconception, however, was not completely unfounded, considering
that a few years ago Cuban flags burned in connection with student
protests in Venezuela.

However, leaving aside anything smacking of nationalism, justified or
not, the Venezuelans’ apocryphal pyromantic message against the Cuban
flag in several important cities of their country would have made clear
the rejection of the gross Cuban interference in Venezuela by Havana’s
Palace of the Revolution, since it is not just the perverse tabernacle
where the devastation of their nation has been cooked for years, but, to
date, it’s the arena from where the strings of the Chávez-Maduro regime
are manipulated, now decadent but, because of this, more dangerous.

Thus, in any case, it should have been that evil power and not the Cuban
national emblem that Venezuelans burned in their riots of recent days.
In fact, the images from 2014 that caused the confusion leave no room
for doubt when we see that several of the flags burned then carry Fidel
Castro’s image on a bundle of dollars displayed under his face, and
other pictures where the signs “Out with the Castros” and “Out of
Venezuela” can be seen. At that time, they also set on fire mannequins
that mimicked the now deceased creator of the longest dictatorship that
has existed in this region.

But it is also true that one of the dangers now is that, in the midst of
the violence applied by the repressive bodies and the gangs incited by
the central government against the demonstrators, their response will
turn more violent. The Venezuelan crisis offers a much more convulsive
and highly volatile and unstable scenario as a result of widespread
hunger, the shortages and the needs of the population, social
frustration, and the regime’s misrule, so that any situation can lead to
uncontrollable chaos for any of the parties.

In this context, popular indignation would not be able to discriminate
between Cuba and Cubans on the one hand, and the Castro regime on the
other, bypassing the irrefutable fact that the misfortune of living
under autocratic regimes is something that nationals of both countries
share.

In this sense, and not wishing to be apocalyptic, it cannot be denied
that the thousands of Cuban civilians who currently collaborate in the
populist programs (called “missions”) of the Castro-Chávez alliance are
very fragile links in the midst of the Venezuelan confusion, not only
because they could easily become victims of the hatred, accumulated over
many years, against a political project led by a gang of thieves and
crooks which turned out to be a swindle, but because the perverse nature
of the alliance between the hierarchs of Havana and Caracas would not
hesitate for a second to sacrifice them motu proprio, and to attribute
to the opposition the loss of life and the violence against Cuban civilians.

The Cuban gerontocracy knows that the loss of Cuban lives would allow
them to unleash a whole Witches’ Sabbath through their monopoly of the
press, and would be a golden opportunity to stir the patriotic spirits
of the masses in the hacienda in ruins, especially now, when the defunct
revolution doesn’t have any credibility among Cubans, and when the final
fall of ” twenty-first century socialism” also heralds (more) difficult
times for the Cuban population.

The fact that it would involve Cuban professionals, mostly in the health
industry, who carry out a humanitarian mission of medical care to very
poor populations, would add a dramatic touch that is extremely conducive
to the propaganda effects of the Palace of the Revolution. Who could
resist the tragedy of perhaps dozens of Cuban families?

For now, the official Cuban press is keeping a suspicious, almost
sepulchral, silence about what is taking place in Venezuela. Or it has
lied cynically, as is evident in the printed version of the main
official newspaper, Granma, which contained a brief note this past
Monday, April 24, stating that “normalcy reigns” in Venezuela, despite
the opposition to Maduro calling for demonstrations, the massive
mobilizations that have flooded the streets of many cities in Venezuela
since the beginning of April, and the dozens of deaths, mainly
protesters’, that have taken place at the hands of the delinquents
grouped in the sinister “collectives”, that variety of motorized
terrorists at the service of the government who assassinate their
compatriots with impunity, just for exercising their right to protest.

Let us hope that the best children of Venezuela do not allow the just
aspirations of freedom, justice and democracy of her people to be
contaminated with criminal acts against Cuban civilian collaborators.
They need to not give in to the hatred sown by officials in power. But,
in any case, the evils that might take place in Venezuela will be the
direct responsibility of the Cuban leadership and its puppets at the
head of the Venezuelan government.

(Miriam Celaya, a Havana resident, is currently visiting the U.S.)

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: The Dangers of Hatred / Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-dangers-of-hatred-miriam-celaya/

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What would happen in Cuba if Maduro fell? http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/what-would-happen-in-cuba-if-maduro-fell/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/05/what-would-happen-in-cuba-if-maduro-fell/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 16:12:11 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138553 What would happen in Cuba if Maduro fell?
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 1 de Mayo de 2017 – 09:38 CEST.

There are probably not many Cubans who are aware of the economic and
social tsunami that the fall of the military regime in Venezuela could
unleash upon them. They can’t be. Reading Granma, Juventud Rebelde, and
Trabajadores, and watching the nightly news and listening to Radio
Rebelde, Radio Reloj and the rest of the radio stations in the country,
it is impossible.

Of course, thanks to the new “counterrevolutionary” technologies, and to
independent journalists, some Cubans are better informed, and can
already spot a new “Special Period” looming on the horizon.

State media asserts that Nicolás Maduro is being harassed by terrorists
and fascists organized by “the right” as part of a plot devised by
Washington to crush the “Bolivarian Revolution.” Those who are
anesthetized by this propaganda will be the most shocked when chavismo
ultimately collapses.

It is no longer feasible to sacrifice Maduro and replace him with Tareck
el Aissami, Diosdado Cabello, Jorge Rodríguez or any other chavista
higher-up. The time to do so ran out when they began massacring
demonstrators in the streets. There have been almost 70 murders
committed by the government, in public, since 2014. These are crimes
whose perpetrators must be tried. They do not prescribe.

After Maduro, in Miraflores there can be no other chavista, however
“moderate” and “pragmatic” they attempt to portray him. There will be a
democratic government, provisional or definitive, and without colonial
ties to Cuba. A legitimately Venezuelan regime.

More cash than in the previous 206 years

Chavismo had the opportunity to diversify the economy and develop the
country. Between 1999 and 2015 it received $960.589 billion for its
petroleum, an average of 56.5 million per year, according to the
consultancy Ecoanalítica. That amount is far superior to all the money
generated by Venezuela in its 206 years of history, since its
declaration of independence from Spain.

This not sufficing, Chávez, to get his hands on even more, and to
continue squandering mass quantities of capital, ordered the issuance of
54.327 billion dollars in bonds by the Republic and the PDVSA, the
State’s petrol entity. Now broke, the country has to pay those
Venezuelan bondholders (creditors) 110 billion until 2027, for interest
and principal. It also owes Russia and China. The debt to Beijing
reached 60 billion dollars. The country is bankrupt.

Under el chavismo the total number of public employees shot up, from
900.000 to 2,4 million. And the PDVSA went from 40.000 employees to the
over 145,000 it staffs today. Chávez used his fat wallet to buy
political allegiances in Latin America and votes in the OAS And the UN,
finance leftist electoral campaigns, and consolidate Latin American
socialism. And also to prop up the unproductive Cuban economy, and
launch social programs without investing anything in the country’s
socio-economic development.

The worst part is that part of this fortune was stolen and deposited in
foreign banks by members of the chavista leadership. Meanwhile,
Venezuelans are suffering the worst existential crisis in their history,
beleaguered by a government of malandros, as they call criminals, drug
dealers, thieves and murderers there.

Many of them will end up in jail (even in the US). They know this, and
are clenching the reins of power. They will never hand it over in an
electoral process that they cannot control. In the elections of 2013 the
winner was Henrique Capriles. Maduro governs thanks to a fraud cooked up
in Havana. The official election result was 50,66% for Maduro and 49,07%
for Capriles, but everyone in Venezuela knows that Henrique received
more votes than Nicolás.

New elections in Venezuela would make sense if the National Assembly
were allowed to exercise its functions, the members of the National
Electoral Council and the Supreme Court of Justice were dismissed,
people who are respectful of the Constitution were appointed, all
political prisoners were released, and adequate international oversight
were accepted, including the OAS and EU.

That is what the Venezuelan people are demanding. They know that only
pressure from the street can change things. That is why they are out
there today. They knows that only pressure on the street can cause a
rupture in the Chávez leadership leading to real elections, or an
intervention by military forces not linked to drug trafficking and the
embezzlement of public funds.

Consequences for Cuba

For Castro Maduro’s fall would mean the end of “21st-Century Socialism”
and even the Sao Paulo Forum, the Communist/Castro international created
in 1990 by Fidel Castro and Lula da Silva with a view to socializing all
of Latin America. The chavistas’ fall would leave the Cuban dictatorship
politically and ideologically helpless, more isolated than ever, because
the “socialist camp” would no longer exist.

As for the economy, according to calculations by Professor Carmelo
Mesa-Lago, Cuba’s dependence on Venezuela is equivalent to 21% of the
Island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This includes almost half of the
deficit in the trade balance and 42% of Cuba’s total foreign trade.

Caracas’ subsidies to Havana amounted to, until recently, about 10
billion dollars a year. They have fallen to about 7 billion, according
to a range of sources. This torrent of foreign currency, although
diminished, constitutes one of the two great pillars of the Cuban economy.

The other is money received from the “empire” via remittances, packages
and travel, in 2016 amounting to some 7 billion dollars. The Cuban
economy depends on foreigners because the state’s productive apparatus
generates very little and only exports four products (sugar, tobacco,
nickel and pharmaceuticals), worth less than 4 billion dollars. Tourism,
in net terms, generates less than 1 billion.

The collapse of el chavismo would knock out one of the two columns
underpinning the Castro economy. Until recently Cuba received 36 million
barrels of oil per year from Venezuela, 61% of the nation’s consumption
(59 million barrels). Now it receives 19,3 million barrels (32,7%). The
Island also re-exported gasoline sent from Venezuela or refined in
Cienfuegos, for more than 720 million dollars annually.

In short, with $7 billion less in cash, and without receiving 61% of the
oil consumed by the country, it is time to ask Raúl Castro out of what
hat he is going to pull the 3,7 billion that would be necessary just to
buy the oil not sent by Venezuela, and import food.

Foreign currency from the United States would not be sufficient to
maintain even the precarious standard of living of Cubans, whose average
salary of $24 is not even half that in Haiti ($59). In response to the
reassuring arguments of the regime’s economists that a suspension of
ties with Venezuela could be weathered without trauma, I can think of
three questions: How? Are they counting on subsidies from China, Russia,
Iran or Algeria? Is the European Union, Japan, Canada, Singapore or
Australia going to give them money?

These questions lead to another: what can the regime do to prepare for
such a socioeconomic tsunami? Everyday Cubans have the answer: General
Castro and his military junta must stop trampling on the economic
liberties embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as
private property, and having businesses of their own that can grow
without state obstacles. And they must be able to export and import, and
invest capital in their own country. Foreign investment must be
facilitated. And farmers must be able to own their land, and sell their
crops freely.

That is, the regime must liberate the Island’s productive forces and
foster a thriving private sector. Otherwise, there will be another
“Special Period,” and Cuba might end up resembling China during Mao’s
“Great Leap Forward,” which almost destroyed the country

Source: What would happen in Cuba if Maduro fell? | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1493624304_30770.html

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Happiness http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/happiness/ http://alangrosscuba.impela.net/2017/04/happiness/#respond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 18:22:11 +0000 http://humanrightsincuba.impela.net/?p=138542 Happiness / Somos+

Somos+, Roberto Camba, 21 March 2017 — The United Nations has just
launched the 2017 World Happiness Report, coinciding with the World
Happiness Day on March 20th. From its first publication in 2012, the
world has come to understand more and more that happiness has to be used
as the correct measure with regards to social progress and the objective
of public policies.

The report is based on statistics collected from the happiness index or
subjective well-being, Gross Domestic Product, social support, life
expectancy from birth, freedom to make decisions, generosity, perception
of corruption (within the government or in businesses), positive or
negative feelings, confidence in the national government and in society,
the level of democracy and the level of income per household.

Much of the data is taken from the average of the results of Gallup’s
global survey. For example, the “life’s staircase” question: “imagine a
staircase, with steps numbered from 0 (at the base) to 10 (at the top).
The top of the stairs represents the best life possible for you and the
base the worst life possible. Which step do you feel like you are
currently at right now?”

“Social support” means having someone that you can rely on during times
of difficulty. Generosity equates to having donated money to a
charitable organisation over the past month. Whereas, positive or
negative feeling relates to questions about whether for the most part of
the previous day the individual experienced happiness, laughter or
pleasure; or rather did they experience negative feelings such as worry,
sadness or anger. The report references its sources and explains the
other indexes which negatively influence the perception of happiness
such as: unemployment or social inequality.

The 2017 Happiness Report places Norway at the top of its list, followed
by: Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New
Zealand, Australia, and Sweden as the top ten.

The US was listed at number 14 and Spain at 34. The best placed Latin
American nations were Chile (20), Brazil (22), Argentina (24), Mexico
(25), Uruguay (28), Guatemala (29) and Panama (30). The list included
155 countries. Those that have improved the most with regards to their
position between 2005-2007 are Nicaragua, Lithuania and Sierra Leone,
whilst Venezuela is the country that has slipped down the rankings the most.

And Cuba? It does not appear on the list. The Network of Solutions for
Sustainable Development that prepared the report only possesses data on
Cuba from 2006. During that time, the average response to the “staircase
of life” was 5.4 (which placed it at 69th out of 156 nations), just
behind Kosovo. Possibly today many Cubans would answer “where is the
staircase to even begin to climb it?”

According to the 2006 data, Cuba appeared to be high in its ranking of
social support and life expectancy from birth, but it was the third
worst in freedom to make decisions. It was ranked as low for level of
democracy, despite the fact that its per capita GDP surpassed China,
Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to name some of the prosperous economies
in the world*. In the net index of feelings (the average of positive
feelings subtracted by the average of negative feelings) Cuba occupied
the 112th place, making it the lowest ranked country in Latin America,
with only Haiti having worse figures.

This index is the most direct measurement of fulfillment or of personal
frustration that influences values and behaviour.

Of course beyond scientific rigour, no statistic or survey is 100%
reliable. Subjective happiness or individual perception of happiness is
very variable. Replying to these questions implies making a mental
comparison. We compare ourselves to our neighbour, to those abroad, to
our past or to our previous situation.

who receive manipulated information will not be able to effectively
compare themselves. Furthermore, people think as they live: having
access to running water could be the ultimate happiness for someone
living in Sub-Saharan Africa, but a European or North American considers
that they must have that and would take offense if they did not have it.

Cubans do not need a global report to know that there is a low happiness
index among the people. The problems seem insoluble, the shortages are
growing, personal ambitions have had to be postponed for decades,
emigration becomes the only hope. The government quashes individual
initiatives and working towards the happiness of its people — or
allowing others to do it — does not seem to be in its projections.
At Somos Más (We Are More) we believe that a responsible government must
have this as its main objective and we will continue to fight to achieve it.

Translator’s note: If the GDP used for this analysis was that provided
by the Cuban government, it would likely have been inaccurate.

Source: Happiness / Somos+ – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/happiness-somos/

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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/

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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/

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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

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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/

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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

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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/

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