Friday, October 21, 2016

Tom Malinowski Speaks with the Independent Cuban Press

Tom Malinowski Speaks with the Independent Cuban Press / 14ymedio,
Miriam Celaya

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 15 October 2016 — The second round of
talks on Human Rights took place this past Friday between the
governments of Cuba and the United States, as part of the ongoing
dialogue initiated when relations were restored.

In line with the importance of the issue and in relation with the
relevance that the US government has granted him, this Saturday, Thomas
Malinowski — Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and
Labor- who co-chaired the US delegation, together with Mrs. Mari Carmen
Aponte, Acting Assistant Secretary for Affairs of the Western Hemisphere
— met with independent journalists Ignacio González and Miriam Celaya,
to discuss topics that were debated on that occasion.

Unlike the previous meeting held in Washington on March 31, 2015, this
time both sides delved deeply into human rights issues, on which they
hold opposing positions.

"I don't expect to be able to persuade the Cuban government about how we
consider human rights should be applied in Cuba, but we consider human
rights as an important and permanent item on our agenda," said
Malinowski. While acknowledging the opposing stances of the two
governments, he considers that these meetings are of great value
because, on the one hand, they reflect the common agreement of both
governments on addressing that the issue of human rights in the
rapprochement process is legitimate; and on the other hand, it has been
established that the basis for these freedoms is upheld in international
standards that establish the universal character of human rights,
recognized and signed by our two countries.

"The result is positive. At least the Cuban government is not refusing
to discuss human rights, and does not deny that they are also applicable
to Cuba, though the legal interpretation of the principles is defined
differently in our countries".

Both sides discussed related laws and international treaties that
confirm the universality and protection of fundamental rights, such as
freedom of association, freedom to join unions, and electoral systems,
among others. About the last item, the US side fully explained the
characteristics of its electoral system and inquired about the Cuban
system, particularly the obstacles faced by opponents and critics of the
Cuban government to aspire to political office.

"For our part, we recognize that our system is not perfect. But in the
US human rights violations are made public, and there are ways and
mechanisms to force politicians to fulfill their commitments and

Cuban laws, however, are designed so that the Power can manipulate them
according to its interests, with no civic or legal mechanisms to force
the government to observe the principles enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948.

Malinowski asserted that the US government is committed to the debate on
human rights at every meeting with the Cuban authorities, but he insists
that it is not their place to interfere in Cuban politics, which is a
matter for the government and the people of Cuba. He believes that
dialogue is proceeding on the basis of mutual respect, despite
differences in respective viewpoints on the subject. However, he
believes that frank conversations about the realities of our nations
create a more positive and beneficial climate for all than does the
policy of confrontation that maintained a breach between the two countries.

There are pockets of the dissidence that remain critical or skeptical of
the White House's new policy of a thaw towards the Palace of the
Revolution. Some people assume that it only favors the Castro regime,
and complain that the demands of opponents are not represented on the

In that vein, Malinowski said: "We have maintained contact with all of
Cuban civil society. Not only with opponents, independent journalists
and other sectors of civil society, but also with representatives of the
emerging private sector and even the sectors that are in tune with the
Cuban government. We want to hear all opinions, aspirations and
proposals to form a more complete picture of the aspirations of the
Cuban people. We share and defend the defense of human rights and our
government will continue with this policy".

According to Malinowski, a climate of detente favors the desires to
strengthen the ties between our peoples, and to promote a mutual
approach after half a century of estrangement and hostility. In fact, in
the last two years, exchanges between the US and Cuba have increased and
diversified, as evidenced –for example — by the participation of young
Cubans in scholarship programs in US universities

When asked how the US government viewed Cuban authorities' insistence on
spreading through its media monopoly a distorted interpretation of the
topics discussed at the bilateral meetings, Malinowski stated that this
encounter with the independent press was exactly a way to get a more
complete view to Cubans about information on the issues discussed
between the two delegations.

At the end of the meeting, the Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor recognized the importance of the views and
suggestions received by the US delegation from many sectors of Cuban
society. "Without their remarks and views, without their participation,
our agenda for these meetings on human rights with the Cuban government
would not be possible. We appreciate the contributions of all Cubans. We
are open to continuing to listen to all proposals, whether they come
from those who support the dialogue process or from its detractors".

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Tom Malinowski Speaks with the Independent Cuban Press /
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba -

American bullish on Cuba despite demand uncertainty

American bullish on Cuba despite demand uncertainty
Bart Jansen and Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY 9:18 p.m. EDT October 20, 2016

When Cuba opened up to U.S. airlines earlier this year, nearly all
rushed in with requests to add new service to the island. Against that
enthusiasm, however, some industry executives openly wondered whether
demand would live up to the hype.

Without regular airline service to the island in five decades, there was
little data available to carriers in trying to assess potential demand
for flights to new destinations. And unlike other foreign markets, Cuba
remains a unique and highly regulated place for U.S. airlines to do

American Airlines officials seemed to acknowledge on a quarterly
earnings call Thursday that they're still feeling out the company's new
service to Cuba, where American opened five new destinations for regular
commercial service during the third quarter.

Those new destinations became possible after the Obama administration
allowed scheduled flights to resume after a 50-year hiatus, part of an
initiative to restore diplomatic relations with the Communist country 90
miles from Florida.

American won more flights than any other U.S. carrier from among the 110
total daily round-trip flights that were up for grabs to 10 cities in
Cuba. Havana was capped at 20 daily flights, of which American won five.
American's first flights to Havana begin later this year, despite
challenges selling tickets since flights to other cities began in August.

"I think everyone is struggling a little bit in terms of selling in
Cuba," Don Casey, American's senior vice president of revenue
management, said during the call. "There a lot of restrictions that are
still in place that has made it difficult to sell."

Casey said the greatest strength for forward booking has been in Havana,
where American has long had a charter operation.

"We're in it for the long haul," American CEO Doug Parker added. "This
is really a new market. We're excited to be the largest carrier there.
We're committed to Cuba and making it work."

Source: American bullish on Cuba despite demand uncertainty -

Chair of Senate Intelligence - We will not share intelligence with Cuba

Chair of Senate Intelligence: We will not share intelligence with Cuba
Little Havana on July 27, 2016. MATIAS J. OCNER
McClatchy Washington Bureau

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said it's dangerous
for the United States to considering sharing intelligence with a country
that is so closely tied with Russia and Iran.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C, criticized a White House directive that
instructs the U.S. director of national intelligence to cooperate with
Cuban intelligence counterparts. Burr said the United States would alert
any country of a possible imminent terrorist threat, but he said the
United States should not be providing intelligence to any country that
might share it with adversaries.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., criticized White House plans to pursue
sharing intelligence with Cuba. U.S. Senate Photographic Studio
"I don't think as long as I'm chairman of the committee, that the
intelligence community is going to be in an intelligence sharing
relationship with Cuba," Burr said.

The little-known directive has raised concerns among South Florida Cuban
Americans who are intimately aware of the Castro's government past
success spying on the United States government. But others feel that the
United States could and should share a limited amount of information
with the Cuban government much like it shares some terrorism related
information with adversaries like Russia.

The Obama administration says the directive is intended to combat
"mutual threats."

Franco Ordoñez: 202-383-6155, @francoordonez

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

Source: Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr: U.S. won't share
intelligence with Cuba | In Cuba Today -

New trade-regulation debate - Should the U.S. share intelligence with Cuba?

New trade-regulation debate: Should the U.S. share intelligence with Cuba?

President Barack Obama's new 12-page directive on trade and travel to
Cuba, widely heralded for its elimination of limits on Americans'
purchases of cigars and rum, contains a largely unnoticed provision that
has alarmed Cuban-Americans in South Florida.

It instructs the U.S. director of national intelligence to cooperate
with Cuban intelligence services.

The Obama administration says the one-sentence objective, which calls on
the Office of the Director of National Intelligence "to find
opportunities for engagement on areas of common interest" with Cuban
counterparts, is intended to combat "mutual threats."

But in South Florida the directive has angered a community that
remembers the roles Cuban spies and agents played in the downing of two
planes of the Brothers to the Rescue exile group and the theft of U.S.
military secrets by an agent planted in the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"Forget about the cigars, this is a huge deal," said Rep. Mario
Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican. "This is a huge threat to our national

Diaz-Balart, a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee,
said Cuba shares intelligence with Russia and Iran, among others.
Earlier this year, Gen. James Clapper, the director of national
intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Cuba was
among four countries that pose the greatest espionage threat to the
United States. The others were Russia, China and Iran.

"The threat from foreign intelligence entities, both state and
non-state, is persistent, complex and evolving," Clapper testified in a
February hearing on "Worldwide Threats." "Targeting collection of U.S.
political, military, economic and technical information by foreign
intelligence services continues unabated."

Over the course of five decades, Fidel Castro built one of the world's
most active intelligence services, whose missions included spying on
U.S. military facilities in South Florida and infiltrating leading Cuban
exile organizations in Miami.

But Joseph Wippl, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who spent
30 years in the agency's National Clandestine Service, said that was not
the case today. Cuba no longer poses a serious threat to the United
States, he said.

"I think probably the intelligence relationship we'd have with Cuba is
like the one we have with Russia," he said. "Will they continue to spy
against us? I would think so. Would we continue to spy against them? I
would think so."

Despite that adversarial relationship, U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have agreed to share
intelligence on Islamic State militants. Wippl, who teaches intelligence
studies at Boston University, sees a similar scenario in which the
United States shares information on a limited basis in specific areas,
such as counternarcotics.

Brian Latell, a former CIA official who wrote "Castro's Secrets: Cuban
Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy," said
the administration directive sounded exploratory and could be good if it
helped save immigrant lives or stopped drug planes on their way to the
United States. But he said he didn't expect much enthusiasm in U.S.
intelligence agencies for sharing anything sensitive with their Cuban
counterparts. He also noted Clapper's comments to the Senate Armed
Services Committee on the Cuban counterintelligence threat.

"Cuban intelligence activities in the United States are still very
intense and very wide-ranging, and they probably haven't been reduced at
all over the very high levels of previous years," said Latell, who is an
adjunct professor and senior research associate at the Gordon Institute
for Public Policy at Florida International University.

There already is some cooperation between high-ranking defense officials
from both countries. The commander of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo
has long held private meetings with Cuban military officials to discuss
fire protection in the arid land around the base. Earlier this year,
Cuban national security officials toured the Pentagon's counter-drug
center in Key West. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, the commander of the U.S.
Southern Command, described it as an effort to crack down on illegal
trafficking in the Caribbean.

But the idea of sharing sensitive "intelligence" with the country that
created an elaborate system to spy on the United States seems
incomprehensible to many. In the 1990s, Cuban intelligence created the
Wasp Network, which spied on U.S. military facilities in South Florida
and infiltrated the Brothers to the Rescue. Information the network
passed to Havana helped Cuba down two of the group's planes, killing
their four occupants.

Gerardo Hernández, who was condemned to two life sentences in federal
prison for leading the Wasp Network, was freed along with two other
Cuban spies in a 2014 prisoner swap that heralded the warming of
relations and included Alan Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency
for International Development. In one of the stranger aspects of the
newfound diplomacy, before Hernández's release, the U.S. government sent
his sperm to his wife in Cuba so she could get pregnant.

Some worry that Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes could be next to be released.
Sometimes referred to as the most important spy you've never heard of,
Montes spent nearly two decades spying for the Cuban government while
working for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. The Obama
administration has said it has no intention of releasing or swapping her.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was among a group of Cuban-American
lawmakers who raised concerns last year that the Castro government might
use its diplomats at the reopened Cuban embassy in Washington as
intelligence agents.

"It is unconscionable that D.C. is seeking engagement on the
intelligence front with an avowed enemy of the U.S. when we know of
Russia's military presence in Cuba, Castro's espionage apparatus and air
traffic security at risk, which all undermine our own national
security," she said.

Email:; Twitter: @francoordonez

Source: Obama's new Cuba trade rules call for sharing intelligence | In
Cuba Today -

Parched Eastern Cuba could get some relief with water purification plant

Parched Eastern Cuba could get some relief with water purification plant

Plans are underway to install a water purification plant in the remote
Cuban village of Corcovado in the eastern province of Granma.

H2OpenDoors, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that is part of Rotary
International's global network of humanitarian projects, installs water
purification plants in rural communities in developing countries, where
lack of water affects the living conditions of the population.

Jon Kaufman, H2OpenDoors project coordinator, is optimistic about the
warming relations between Cuba and the United States and said the
initiative of installing a water purification plant in Corcovado —
population 1,500 — has received a "warm reception" by local Cuban

According to Kaufman, there is much more that can be done in Cuba by the
international service organization.

"But the requirement is that there be a Rotary Club," he said. "We can
provide a lot of fundraising."

The first Rotary club in a non English-speaking country settled in
Havana in 1916. By 1957, there were about 60 clubs across the island.
Rotary International decided to withdraw the clubs in 1979 on the basis
that countries that restrict freedom of expression and assembly should
not have clubs, according to the organization.

H2OpenDoors has installed water purification systems in Guatemala,
Nepal, Haiti and the Philippines, among other places. After more than a
year of planning and representatives traveling back and forth to the
island to explore rural areas and meet with Cuban local officials,
H2OpenDoors received government approval to install a water system
capable of purifying up to 5,000 gallons of water per day in an aquifer
on private land in Corcovado.

During previous Cuba expeditions, the participants have met with Cuban
entrepreneurs in several separate occasions. Another trip is scheduled
for April, where H2OpenDoors will host a cocktail party with about 100
Cuban entrepreneurs interested in the potential to start a Rotary Club
on the island.

The H2OpenDoors "voluntourism" Cuba expedition operating under a
people-to-people/humanitarian license is a service and cultural exchange
trip curated by the non-profit Bay Area Cuba Community Alliance and
Travel Agency Marazul.

Water shortage
In rural Cuba, shortage of drinking water is a daily reality. But the
harsh drought affecting Eastern Cuba for several years has created a
critical situation for the communities of the region, especially in the
provinces of Granma, Las Tunas and Santiago de Cuba.

Although the Cuban government has installed some water purification
plants by Chinese manufactures in several eastern communities and the
United Nations Development Programme supports the government
institutions in the sustainable management of water resources, there are
many communities like Corcovado, located about 61 miles from province
capital Bayamo, where residents still rely on a rudimentary system to
get their water.

Corcovado dwellers have no access to safe drinking water and rely on
water delivered by oxcarts from a near "waterpoint" .

Waterpoints are sometimes located in areas where there is livestock.
"The water may be contaminated," Kaufman said.

H2OpenDoors' water systems can provide half a gallon of purified water
per day for as many as 10,000 people. ​​Kaufman said residents of
Corcovado can further benefit from the plant by "doing a water business
that the people can profit from and would benefit the entire community.

"Cubans are used to get everything from the government," he said. "This
is different, but that has to be seen."

Profiting from the sale of water from water purification plants is
something that the Cuban government already does. That is the case of
"Pocito Micro-9" in Santiago de Cuba where purified water is sold at 20
cents (local currency) a liter.

During their previous expeditions to the island, H2OpenDoors has made
donations to the residents of Corcovado, including school supplies,
children's clothing and baseball equipment, Kaufman said.

"The town had been home to one of the best community baseball teams in
Cuba, but they have been unable to play for over two years for lack of
equipment," Kaufman said. "They were so happy that they hosted us for a

A few days later, the government brought to Corcovado medical supplies
that the residents of the village had been asking for a long time.

"I think they were embarrassed," Kaufman said. "Cubans are optimistic
and there is this big promise with the U.S. and that's what gets them
hopeful. But maybe progress will be pushed by this embarrassment," he said.

Source: H2OpenDoors of Rotary Clubs plan to install a purified water
system in eastern Cuba | In Cuba Today -

What lies ahead?

What lies ahead?
HILDEBRANDO CHAVIANO MONTES | La Habana | 21 de Octubre de 2016 - 06:50

At the start of the "Anti-imperialist Patriotic Duty Day," celebrated in
the district of Belén, in the Havana municipality of Marianao, Cuba's
hero/spy René González stressed the importance of an awareness of Cuban
history, in particular the dispute between the island and the US, dating
back to the 19th century." According to the newspaper Granma, González
stated: "That is the man challenge facing the restoration of diplomatic
relations between the two countries. If we do not forget the past, we
will be able to successfully overcome what lies ahead."

To what worrisome future events did he refer when he warned about "what
lies ahead"? It is quite possible he was alluding to an exchange of
between Cuba and the US, through which the latter would benefit from
investments in industry, agriculture, tourism, construction and
communications on the Island, while Cuba would receive a percentage of
profits and acquire advanced technology, more and better jobs, increased
productivity and real GDP growth.

One asks: what would be wrong with all that? For some people, nothing.
For others, a lot: the alleged danger of the return of capitalist forms
of production, with the economic freedoms they entail and consequent
independence from a paternalistic State; the development of
entrepreneurship and a respect for the individual and his interests; the
free exchange of ideas, and the philosophical conclusion that the market
is a more efficient distributor of resources than government
bureaucracy, with its planning and centralization.

That bureaucracy sees American capitalists' arrival on the scene as a
threat to its hegemonic interests. But there will be not only economic
changes. Now more than ever before, Cuba is a ripe fruit that is bound
to fall in the geopolitical orbit of the US, with all the risks that
this entails.

Cuban society suffers from a chronic lack of leadership. The
perpetuation of a dictatorship based on a Stalinist model has eradicated
all forms of unofficial thought and unofficial action, and today Cubans,
most born after 1959, only know how to parrot revolutionary slogans
devoid of meaning, and resign themselves to surviving in a precarious
balance between misery and crime. Or they simply leave.

Given this social situation, in which amorality prevails, the piecemeal
sale of the country will become another element that conspires against
the existence of Cuba as an independent nation, and the worst part is
that, apparently, those in power know this; hence René González's
warning, perhaps the result of an inadvertent indiscretion.

While Cuba's rulers spout patriotic and misleading rhetoric, they
simultaneously harbor plans to get the embargo lifted and turn Cuba into
a kind of American protectorate, of which they will be the administrators.

We Cubans are stuck with a Government that prefers to surrender to
foreign capital rather than "change everything that must be changed;"
that is, the ban on Cubans attaining wealth legitimately, and
prohibitions against them choosing their leaders and freely gathering
and expressing themselves.

The lifting of the American economic and financial embargo against Cuba
will turn the country into something much worse than it was before 1959:
simply a holding of the US, managed by parties in cahoots with the
Island's top brass.

It is doubtful that the residents of Pogolotti or any other Cuban
neighborhood will be able to grapple with what is coming, because it is
a conspiracy that has long been brewing behind the people's backs, who
apparently prefer to stay out of the determination of their fates, and
to leave them in the hands of the PCC, allowing a group of opportunists,
old and young, to decide what the Cuba of tomorrow will be like.

Most Cubans are not even aware of what is coming, or even the fact that
it is, such that René González's words must have gone in one ear and out
the other.

Ignorance disguised as ideology is what sustains the Government. Cubans
in the Atarés quarter do not know much about politics or economics, the
political Left or Right, market socialism or State monopolistic
capitalism. Cubans are not trained to think in those terms, nor are they
interested in doing so, because they are too busy worrying about what
their children are going to eat for dinner, or whether they will have
shoes to start the school year. Cuban history has been so subverted that
it ceased to be a subject of interest to them a long time ago.

Source: What lies ahead? | Diario de Cuba -

The war on Cuba's 'paladares' - The regime's campaign against private initiative grows more sophisticated

The war on Cuba's 'paladares': The regime's campaign against private
initiative grows more sophisticated
ELÍAS AMOR | Valencia | 20 de Octubre de 2016 - 14:00 CEST.

Observers and analysts have been discussing the Castro regime's decision
to temporarily ban new licenses to open small restaurants (paladares) in
Havana, run by entrepreneurs. At the same time a warning has been issued
to those already operating that they will be subject to stricter
controls, with the initiation of a process of summons that will instruct
violators regarding regulation violations, including "evading taxes,
buying supplies on the black market or operating illegal clubs and bars. "

Limiting supply on any market is a public policy measure with very
negative effects on the population, with results that are just the
opposite of those it pursues, even in economies like Cuba's under Castro
in which the market delivers only a portion of goods and services, with
the State playing a major role in the their provisioning.

This absolutely unexpected decision by the regime flies in the face of
information indicating an increase in tourists and travellers,
constituting a market with a growing need for dining services. The
Castro regime's war against Cuba's paladares is nothing new. Whenever
any type of private economic activity flourishes on the Island,
reactionary Stalin-like measures are adopted to show who is in control
of the economy. What has happened with the paladares is just more of the

Its immediate effects will be:
1. Stifling one of the possible channels for economic emancipation,
supposedly opened up by the "Guidelines."
2. Limiting the supply of popular food offerings, which will increase
the prices of those that continue to operate on the market.
3. Directly benefitting suppliers (State and hotels) that were
struggling to compete with small restaurants.
4. Curtailing growth in the supply of agricultural products for
entrepreneurs, thereby raising consumer prices.
5. Reducing the entry of "mules" with intermediate goods for small
restaurants that were having trouble obtaining supplies on domestic markets.
6. Frustrating expectations and personal projects.
7. Bolstering administrative/political control over economic activity.
8. Cutting job creation at these establishments.
9. Hampering the sector's evolution towards specialization,
diversification and improved productivity.
10. Producing a decline in tax revenues.

The main difference between the current campaign against the paladares
and previous efforts is that the regime's initiative against private
enterprise in Cuba is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Thus, the
meetings to which owners of paladares are summoned are attended by
"Popular Power" representatives from Havana and various State
institutions, such as the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) and
the ubiquitous State Security. And, as stated by some of those called to
these meetings, they are told that the paladares are important to the
economy, and that the irregularities are not only found at private
businesses, but also State operations too. To date, however, the bulk of
the administrative pressure has fallen on the former.

Let us take a look at what these serious problems are, according to the
regime. For example, the use of public parking areas to accommodate
paladar customers (which could be resolved by renting them); the
purchasing of goods on the black market (an activity that is necessary
because there are constant shortages on the official ones); and other
more serious infractions, such as tax evasion, money laundering, and
even prostitution and drugs. There are also aspects that date all the
way back to the "Special Period," and that have become structural due to
the dynamics of the regime.

Castro's laws limit private restaurants to 50 seats or fewer, and they
are required to buy their supplies at State stores, despite the
permanent shortages at them and the high prices of their products.
Despite the obstacles these establishments face, Havana has seen a great
number of paladares appear and succeed recent years. These are
businesses that have competed with State restaurants and those located
in hotels thanks to their ability to offer customers good values.

Some analysts believe that the toughening of the regime's policy towards
the paladares is an example of how Raúl Castro is prioritizing certain
expenditures to the detriment of others. And, unlike during the "Special
Period," when blackouts and restrictions wrought widespread suffering
among the population, now the aims is for economic activity, private and
State, to pay for the adjustment to the very difficult scenario the
Castroist economy is suffering through today, as oil from Venezuela
wanes, loans are not paid back, and cash and liquidity are scarce.

And yet, impervious to discouragement, they are quick to announce the
fusion of currencies by 2017. Unbelievable.

Source: The war on Cuba's 'paladares': The regime's campaign against
private initiative grows more sophisticated | Diario de Cuba -