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    US sent Latin youth undercover in anti-Cuba ploy

    Posted on Monday, 08.04.14 US sent Latin youth undercover in anti-Cuba ploy BY DESMOND BUTLER AND JACK GILLUM AND ALBERTO ARCE AND ANDREA RODRIGUEZ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — An Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation […] Continue reading

    Jackson – Crist’s Cuba visit would send a message

    Jackson: Crist’s Cuba visit would send a message THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 1, 2014 It’s traveling season once more for restless Americans, especially those sick to death of “staycations” and one-tank getaways. With a little more jingle in our pockets and wanderlust in our eyes, AAA says we’re ready to hit the road in […] Continue reading

    Cuba Focusing on Transparency

    Cuba-United States: Focusing on Transparency / Ivan Garcia Posted on May 7, 2014 There are not always good arguments for trampling on the jurisdiction of a foreign nation. The Cold War mentality is still latent in the behavior of certain U.S. institutions. If a government believes in democracy and political freedom, it shouldn’t go around […] Continue reading

    Cuba Forecasts $8.2 Billion From Doctors Abroad This Year

    Cuba Forecasts $8.2 Billion From Doctors Abroad This Year By Eric Sabo Mar 21, 2014 6:59 PM GMT+0100 3 Comments Email Print Cuba’s government forecasts it will receive $8.2 billion from sending doctors and nurses abroad this year as it announced plans to raise salaries for medical personnel on the Caribbean island. The revenue from […] Continue reading

    Cuba is Venezuela’s biggest loser

    Cuba is Venezuela’s biggest loser Published: Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 | 11:16 AM ET By: Silvana Ordonez | News Associate Opposition activists protest near the Cuban Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 16, 2014. In the midst of chaos in Venezuela, a dependent Cuba and its economic future is walking on a tight rope. As […] Continue reading

    How Cuba is exporting repression to Venezuela

    How Cuba is exporting repression to Venezuela By Marco RubioFebruary 28, 2014 | 11:29pm Excerpted from the Florida senator’s Feb. 24 remarks on the Senate floor, following a speech by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The senator from Iowa bragged about a number of things that he learned on his trip to Cuba that I’d like […] Continue reading

    Reforms in Cuba: The Last Utopia?

    Reforms in Cuba: The Last Utopia? September 2, 2013 Emilio Morales* (Cafe Fuerte) HAVANA TIMES – When Raul Castro initiated reforms aimed at transforming the Cuban economic model, Cuban and foreign experts hoped that they were finally glimpsing a change on the horizon following more than five decades of mistaken policies. However, despite having further […] Continue reading

    As US-Cuba relations appear to thaw, diplomats find more freedom to move within each country

    As US-Cuba relations appear to thaw, diplomats find more freedom to move within each country By Associated Press, Published: July 15 MIAMI — For decades, Cuban and U.S. diplomats have faced strict limits on their travel within the Cold War enemy countries. Cuban diplomats at the United Nations in New York cannot go 25 miles […] Continue reading

    Why can’t we vacation in Cuba? Because it’s a terror state

    Why can’t we vacation in Cuba? Because it’s a terror state By: Al Cardenas 4/30/2013 02:28 PM As an attendee at this weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner, it struck me that I agree with the president. At least on one issue. Rapper Jay-Z’s recent decision to visit Cuba is a problem. Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé […] Continue reading

    Venezuela petro-allies nervous over Chavez’s death

    Posted on Wednesday, 03.06.13

    Venezuela petro-allies nervous over Chavez's death
    By PETER ORSI
    Associated Press

    HAVANA -- Cubans remember the so-called Special Period of the 1990s,
    when the Soviet Union's sudden collapse plunged the island into years of
    economic depression, with cars and buses disappearing from the streets
    for lack of fuel and rolling blackouts leaving the capital in darkness.

    Now Cubans fear a return of hard times following the death of Venezuelan
    President Hugo Chavez, whose billions of dollars of oil largesse helps
    the island's economy function. Some Havana residents were even talking
    about hoarding candles on Wednesday.

    Francis Gomez, a 22-year-old tourism student from the city of Pinar del
    Rio, said she was "scared and worried."

    "Ever since Chavez became ill, my parents have been saying, 'Please,
    God, don't let there be another Special Period," she said.

    While Chavez's party remains in power in Venezuela, and his political
    allies have said they won't change the program, at least not in the
    short term, a victory by the opposition in a presidential election
    expected in the coming weeks could change the game entirely. Opposition
    leader Henrique Capriles has said he would reevaluate the program if
    elected.

    Cubans are not alone in having worries following Tuesday's death of
    Chavez, who used Venezuela's oil wealth to aid allies through a
    part-ideological, part-humanitarian program that gives out petroleum at
    preferential terms.

    More than a dozen other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,
    many of them economic minnows, have benefited to the tune of billions of
    dollars from the Petrocaribe pact that was created in 2005 with the goal
    of unifying the regional oil industry under Venezuelan leadership and
    countering U.S. influence.

    Cuba alone receives about 92,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil a day to meet
    half its consumption needs, worth around $3.2 billion a year, according
    to an estimate by University of Texas energy analyst Jorge Pinon.

    Havana pays about half the bill through a barter exchange in which tens
    of thousands of doctors, teachers and other advisers provide services in
    Venezuela. The rest goes into 25-year credits with 1 percent interest.

    "There's no cash exchange. They don't have to write a check. That's the
    importance of this agreement," Pinon said. "It represents $3.2 billion
    of free cash flow to the Cuban economy."

    "If a new Venezuelan government turns that into a true commercial
    agreement where in 30 days you pay 100 percent in cash for what you owe,
    it would be a substantial economic impact to both Cuba and to
    Petrocaribe countries, no question about that," Pinon said.

    Nicaragua, perhaps the second-most dependent on Venezuelan oil after
    Cuba, gets nearly all its 12 million barrels a year from Caracas, worth
    about $1.2 billion, said Nestor Avendano, an economist and president of
    the consulting firm Consultores Para el Desarrollo.

    President Daniel Ortega, a staunch Chavez ally, pays about half up-front
    and finances the rest over 23 years at 2 percent annual interest.

    La Prensa, Nicaragua's leading newspaper, noted in an editorial that
    Ortega has been trying to shore up economic reserves in recent months
    and raised taxes in January, apparently in anticipation of a reduction
    in Venezuelan aid.

    The Dominican Republic gets just over 40 percent of its oil through
    Petrocaribe, and saves roughly $400 million a year from the arrangement.
    Struggling Jamaica, where debt is a whopping 140 percent of gross
    domestic product, gets roughly two-thirds of its crude through Petrocaribe.

    Across the Caribbean, it's the same story one island nation after another.

    "Petrocaribe saved several Caribbean economies from certain collapse,"
    said Anthony Bryan, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and
    International Studies in Washington and an expert on U.S.-Caribbean
    relations.

    Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's handpicked successor and a firm ideological
    ally of Cuba, is seen by analysts as more likely to win the election to
    replace Chavez. But in the absence of Chavez, who kept his political
    base in line through pure politics of personality, Maduro might come
    under pressure as he tries to control factions that don't always agree.

    "I think that there's going to be a potential drop in Venezuelan
    willingness to sell oil (at preferential terms) because Maduro is going
    to be facing his own internal schisms," said Gregory Weeks, a political
    scientist specializing in Latin America at the University of North
    Carolina at Charlotte. "I think he's going to have to be paying more
    attention to directing resources to his own constituencies at home,
    rather than abroad."

    Weeks added that Maduro would likely try to maintain the Cuba subsidy as
    much as possible for symbolic reasons, and many analysts say the island
    is less dependent on Venezuela than it was on the Soviets.

    But Venezuela's economy has problems that Chavez's successor will have
    to deal with. Inflation is 22 percent, dollars for imports are scarce
    amid currency control and residents complain about sporadic shortages of
    basic goods.

    "Once Venezuela's budget deficit really begins to bite in a way that can
    no longer be ignored, then the government will have to make some tough
    decisions in term of spending," said Eric Farnsworth, an energy
    specialist with the Council of the Americas. "And one of the quickest
    ways to cut in any country is foreign aid."

    For some Petrocaribe beneficiaries that might simply mean tightening
    belts. For others it could mean rising discontent or even potential
    unrest as popular social programs wither.

    Nicaragua's Ortega, for example, has used the extra cash to put roofs on
    homes and finance health care and education in a country where 80
    percent of the people live on less than $2 a day. Economist Rene
    Vallecillo said the country could see a 1 percentage-point drop in GDP
    growth if Venezuelan aid disappeared.

    Haiti has used millions in Venezuelan aid to pay for fuel, renovate
    power stations and build low-income housing in the earthquake-torn nation.

    Jamaica has used the 22,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil it got every day
    in 2011 to produce 95 percent of its electricity.

    "If it's 95 percent of your power generation, that has broader
    implications in terms of your social well-being," Farnsworth said.
    "They're really going to hurt. ... This has been a lifeline."

    ---

    Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana; Luis Andres Henao
    in Santiago, Chile; David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica; Luis Manuel
    Galeano in Managua, Nicaragua; Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, the
    Dominican Republic; and Trenton Daniel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
    contributed to this report.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/06/v-fullstory/3270790/venezuela-petro-allies-nervous.html Continue reading

    Cuba: The Time to Fill the Jails Came Again

    Cuba: The Time to Fill the Jails Came Again / Ivan Garcia #Cuba Ivan Garcia, Translator: mlk Trying to analyze the strategy of the Castro brothers is an exercise in pure abstraction. Their way of moving tokens on the political board tends to go aga... Continue reading