Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cuba Doubles Purchasing Price to Sugar Cane Growers Seeking Greater Outputs

Cuba Doubles Purchasing Price to Sugar Cane Growers Seeking Greater Outputs

HAVANA,Cuba, Jun 29 (acn) The Cuban government dobled the purchasing
price per ton of sugar cane aiming to attract farmers to develop this
crop to boost its production in the country, according to Sugar deputy
Minister Nelson Labrada.
Cuban News Agency

Sources of this Ministry said that they have received over 15,000 new
applications to lease idle lands to produce cane, following the passing
of the Decree-Law 259, which enable Cubans to acquire land to work on.

Deputy Minister Labrada pointed out at the Center of Studies of the
Cuban Economy that the first priority is to produce sugar cane to then
have the raw material to obtain sugar, alcohol and other by-products.

The goal is to reach a two-fold increase on the tonnage per hectare
within the next five years, and to achieve this it is mandatory to
increase yield, repair roads and to plant enough cane, as well as to
improve the crops irrigation.

"The world's demand for sugar will continue growing and it shows in the
markets" said Labrada.

Meanwhile, the raw sugar price rose to 29 cents per pound in the New
York market, and in London the metric ton of refined sugar skyrocketed
to 764.9 dollars.

Cuba sees 20% increase in US visitors

Cuba sees 20% increase in US visitors
By CB Online Staff

HAVANA — Cuba is getting more visitors, including a 20 percent uptick in
the number of Americans, but tourism income hasn't recovered from the
sharp downturn caused by the global financial crisis, new government
statistics say.

The big increase in the number of U.S. travelers to Cuba represents a
challenge for Puerto Rico, which draws the bulk of its tourists from the

Overall tourist arrivals rose 18 percent to 2.53 million last year from
about 2.15 million in 2007, Cuba's National Office of Statistics said in
a report posted this month on its website.

Despite the gains, visitors are making shorter trips and spending less.
Tourism revenue totaled $2.22 billion in 2010, slightly below the $2.24
billion of 2007.

The report did not explain the data, but Cuba's tourism sector, a key
source of income for the Caribbean island, has been hit hard by the
world economic downturn.

According to the statistics office, the leading source of tourists last
year was Canada, accounting for 945,000 visitors. Next came Britain at
174,000, Italy with 112,000 and Spain at 105,000.

The United States was the eighth-biggest source of travelers despite
Washington's decades-old ban on American tourism to the island. About
63,000 Americans visited last year, compared with 52,000 in 2009.

The figures include both U.S. citizens who came on trips approved by the
U.S. Treasury Department and those who sneaked in through third
countries, but exclude the hundreds of thousands of Cubans living in the
U.S. who come home to visit family annually.

President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on visits by Cuban-Americans
in 2009, and earlier this year his administration issued new rules for
non-Cuban Americans that are expected to cause a significant increase in
educational and cultural exchanges.

Bob Guild, vice president of Marazul Charters Inc., which operates
charter flights to Cuba, said the U.S. government issued some $1 million
in fines to about 1,000 Americans who traveled to Cuba illegally during
the early part of the last decade. But, he said, it stopped going after
individuals in the latter years of the George W. Bush administration,
according to Treasury Department records.

"That would in itself encourage people who might travel to Cuba without
a license," Guild said. "And under Obama, nobody would expect him to do
anything worse than Bush was doing."

The increase in American travelers roughly corresponds with a 30 percent
rise in licensed excursions, for research, long-term academic study and
religious trips, that Guild's company handled from 2009 to 2010. But he
cautioned that the numbers involved are still relatively small.

Still, the easing of U.S. travel to Cuba is already raising red flags in
Puerto Rico, which relies heavily on visitors from the mainland to fuel
its tourism industry, which represents nearly 7 percent of the island GDP.

Earlier this year, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials announced
that San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport has been given
federal permission to schedule charter flights to and from Cuba.

Cuban officials have said privately they expect as many as 500,000
visitors to begin arriving from the United States annually.

Cuba's statistics office also reported that the number of hotel rooms on
the island increased 17 percent over the last four years, rising to
65,000 last year from 56,000 in 2007.

Occupancy rates dropped slightly from 60 percent to 57 percent over the
period, it said.;ct_id=1&;ct_name=1

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#TWITTHELP / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

#TWITTHELP / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Translator: Claudia Diaz Alemany

The future is so distant. Such a lie that we are going to live it. Such
a panic. Such a coward. That. It's better to inhabit it a bit in writing
just now, when no one can see or hear us at the level of the Cuban dark
morning hours. Better the sense than the experience. Better the rethoric
than the repression. Both so real. So, such. Better to begin with a
random date. The First of July of 2011 for example. Friday, just like
every day you can think of in which I have dared to open my eyes and
pronounce the words: "I am here and now, I am true, I am a hundred,
death brothers us and betters us, never again will anything bad happen
to us (again), come."

There's a thing that kills Cuba. It doesn't kill the government or the
people or any of those concrete words that are gobs of spit in the
mouths of the demagogues by turn (or eternal). It kills Cuba, I said.
There's a thing that kills the Cuba that is the poetic expression of
what we could never put a name to. That thing is us, postponing our
biographies, refusing to protagonize, overdying to the alien time of
another unknown, atrocious generation.

The nation no longer produces a nation. Any of us plays a role for some
time, pretends to play the part of the prop. Then gets tired, with
reason. They collimate him, without a reason. Then he adapts or leaves.
Applause. It's called growing up. Maturing. Being others. It is the
Darwinian democracy of the self-preservation instinct. It is also the
death of the very idea of a revolution, be it internal or public.

From so much preserving, we no longer preserve anything. Except the
imported objects of our childhood, of that other exile that awaits us in
a short while, no longer. On Fridays all that material emerges like a
volcano of memories. Sad, cooled lava. A murmur in the uncivil heart.
The first day of a month precipitates killing each other. And July could
very well be the anonymous name of our last month. Who will talk about
us after we so intensely resist talking about ourselves?

Unknown. Bedroom citizens. Humiliated before the previous History.
Avoiding the siren of the political patrol or the touch of a security
officer's knuckles. Zigzagging. So handicapped, so precious, so
contemporary. I would have liked to know the Cubans of my generation.
But it was not possible. They do not exist. They did not hug me.
Crazies. They did not soak in my sweat. I did not captivate them with my
voice. They did not smell my smell, so repetitive. I did not see them
around, in any post-habanera corner such as, for example, that of 23 and
12, right in the center of Vedado, Cuba, America. In half a century or
half a millennium the only thing spontaneous has been the lack of

Today I found out that the waves of nonsense turn to burst against the
mental wall of our malecón. I hear a hashtag that one cannot pronounce
out loud, twitthab. I myself recycle it and spread it into the infinite
and diffuse it into the infinitesimal. Who spoke? Where does it come
from, that social rebelliousness of looking at each other face to face?
Who is responsible before the cameras and microphones of the press or
before the prejudicial interrogation? Which official will be the first
to exert physical or labor violence? It was nice. Now, enough. It's not
necessary to stretch tedium like chewing gum until two Fridays after.
Today is the last Friday. Time ran out. For a day we were free and lucid
and loquacious and playful. Today the dark forces will begin with their
effective work of disintegration; a Creole Chernobyl with as many
victims as it is necessary, in a prophylactic domino effect that in Cuba
we call "governance."

It was already the first of July, in our visionary imagination. It was
already Friday again, like today. We already saw each other with
t-shirts and printed avatars, redefining the fossil map of our society
without blue that flies. We already projected ourselves in public with
the candor of buccaneers and with pizzas in our national currency. We
already filmed our neorealism so expressive in a wave of tweets. We were
already accused of being puppets or puppeteers. There are already names
(that is, the harm is done). We were already unable to explain ourselves
(because being able to explain oneself is the only mistake). We already
kept our clothes on and did not dare to undress among perfect strangers,
wild animals that frolic like pups and then escape so as to not fail. We
didn't even stop traffic. Yet again we made fools of ourselves as a
world premiere.

I am sorry. I have the lead because of my absolute state of temper
(read, my inconsolable state of desperation). There will be no #twitthab
in Havana. The city doesn't deserve so much either. This epitaph is a
way of protecting a priori the victims of this marvelous maneuver that
condemns me to not lose all hope. It wasn't now. It isn't now. It won't
be now. It's ok; remain calm. We are so nervous. We are so close. So
there. But it is necessary to wait. A bit. One more bit. Pretend. We are
almost out of breath. Almost. Remain alert about me. Any of these
Fridays it will be I, myself, who will suddenly raise the alarm.

Translated by: Claudia Diaz Alemany

June 17 2011

White Meat Crumbs / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

White Meat Crumbs / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado
Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado, Translator: Unstated

I turned the corner located half a block from my house and I heard
somebody yelling to another neighbor, " Mercedes, they are giving out
chicken instead of fish." The piece of chicken that the Cuban State
sells us at subsidize price and by their orders we must consume it in
one month, is only a pound per person and anybody can eat it in a single
meal. When they send chicken (I prefer this) in substitution for fish,
the amount is eleven ounces per person for the same period of time.

Cuba is an archipelago and for this reason seafood shouldn't be scarce,
but because of the State's indifference and ineptitude, we are suffering
of shortages and rationing of these and other essential food items.
Moreover, is it (the Yellowtail, the one always offered) the only marine
species in the sea? And the lobsters, and the shrimp? And the high seas
fish like the louvar, the kingfish and the tuna, etc? And the fish
raised in the aquaculture dam lakes? And the freshwater ones?

It is like suffering from a prolonged and antagonistic irony of living
on a poultry farm and keeping to a fish diet. In addition we are
assigned half a pound of ground beef a month — it is more like a paste
mixed with soy — half of mortadella (if we put it on a piece of bread,
we can eat it as a snack) and 10 eggs per capita monthly. And the beef
and the pork? And the lamb and the goat? So much inefficiency and
manipulation didn't affect our memories, because we know that there are
a lot of species in the seas, and there are also varieties of poultry
and different types of edible quadruped mammals.

It's true that there is a parallel State market which retails some of
the released products in national currency. But the prices are abusive
and only a minority can acquire them. Also coexistent are the ones
selling in foreign hard currency — the workers get paid a salary between
500 and 600 cuban pesos — where there's a variety of meats, and a kilo
of chicken costs $2.75 and a kilo of beef $9.50, but these prices are
equally high, therefore out of reach for the average Cuban, who has to
acquire the hard currency at 25 pesos for one CUC (equivalent to a
dollar) in the currency exchanges. On top of this we have to add that
not all of the stores sell these type of products and moreover, they are
not always available.
The butchers, who in spite of their mediocre salaries almost all wear
heavy gold chains — they look more like last generation rappers or
reggae performers — and drive cars that cost around the same (sometimes
more) than the ramshackle and stinky State meat markets where they work,
pass days or maybe weeks waiting for the merchandise to arrive at their
empty and impoverished retail establishments.

When the store is replenished there's a private party, because from the
day's work "by error of the smart scales" and "other moves" with the
suppliers, they will have enough merchandise left to auction on the
overpriced black market. But they are only the result or part of the
problem, which is the responsibility or irresponsibility of the
authorities. The same way they imposed on us the "walking catfish,"
meant to reduce our carnivorous cravings and like a terrestrial reptile
it "walks" into backyards, sewers and paddocks and feeds on, among other
things, feces and rats. God forbid! I don't consume it, but I know a lot
of my compatriots who actually do.
Cubans, who with our "bread diet" look "healthily plump," already forgot
the taste of beef, because here the cows, like in India, look like they
are sacred, at least for the common citizen. They not prevented "the
mad-cow" disease and the population "is mad" to recover its right to eat
meat in the daily diet or with the frequency they can afford to pay for
it — as it was before 1959 — not when the Cuban State decides the
frequency and the amounts we can consume.

It looks like beef and other delights, are lacking because of "the bad
governments" preceding them; thus the leaders "screwed it up" so
concerned are they about our health that they got rid of it to insure
our quality of life. Therefore, it is an acquired reflex that we must
prioritize the color red only to digest politics and ideology. These
nutritional limitations awakened our voracity for this vital food,
because all these years they tried to implant in us, with neither Yin
nor Yang, a vegetarian diet or macrobiotic without the right to respond
or to choose it; but as with the problems with the seafood and the fact
that we are an agricultural country, we also have difficulties with
vegetables, grains and cereals, they couldn't completely tame our taste
and eating preferences.

For that reason a lot of nationals don't care if the chicken is
genetically modified, if the fish was floating "meekly" on a black scum
and they assumed it was a donation from the British Petroleum; if we
women start growing beards or our husbands start having high voices, as
Evo Morales, the homophobic Bolivian President, said. Maybe some fellow
citizens, who look like they have their stomach in the frontal lobe and
their intelligence in "the elbow", when it comes to food, stress that "
it doesn't matter if the chicken has scales or the fish feathers, the
fact is that it is meat".

Translated by Adrian Rodriguez

June 27 2011

Gay Pride Parade in Havana / Yoani Sánchez

Gay Pride Parade in Havana / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

Translator's note: This post is a longer version, written for the
Huffington Post, of the post that appeared in Yoani's blog today.
The Paseo del Prado displays its beautiful lion sculptures, cast from
the ammunition and weapons from our war of independence. When it opened
with its broad marble benches and bordering shade trees, it quickly
became a place for meetings and recreation. Part of its wide structure
was built exactly where the Wall of Havana once stood, dividing the
citadel within the walls from the city that grew up around it.

Today, this avenue runs between the historic town full of tourists and
the other part of the capital, a place of broken streets crowded with
people. The bronze felines, however, retain their nobility, the old
dream of grandeur that caressed the nation at the beginning of the
twentieth century.

The Prado, our Prado, also lived through times of outright neglect for
having been conceived and built during the Republic. When history was
re-written and the victors tinted the past in sepia not even the manes
and teeth of these statues were safe from the diatribe. Something so
central was forgotten, not by those walking by, who continued to visit
them, but from the official discourse. The wide roadway with its central
park was virtually never mentioned on any television program, nor were
recreational or political activities convened under the shade of its trees.

But lucky vendors, children living nearby, lovebirds looking for a dark
place for caresses, took advantage of the lack of institutional interest
and made the Prado their own. On one of its most central corners a "swap
site" sprang up, a kind of alternative market to trade houses in a
country where their buying and selling was still prohibited.

Then, much later, the City Historian noticed the long-ignored esplanade.
He undertook a brief restoration process, improving the tree cover and
restoring some lampposts. But the Paseo del Prado remained in the hands
of passersby and kids because, even today, every inch of it is evidence
of a magnificent past that upsets the powers-that-be. The Plaza of the
Revolution in contrast, with its mass gatherings and lengthy speeches,
has never been able to function as a place of spontaneous congregation.
It is the great difference between a place where people choose to be, to
play with their children, to rest for a few minutes before continuing on
their way, or to watch the sun set, and that other site where they are
taken as a mass, like a platoon.

It seems that with their defiant fangs, the lion sculptures make a
mockery of the decades-long institutional abandonment. Despite a desire
to downplay its importance, the Paseo del Prado remains the preferred
site of those who come from the provinces and want to bring back a photo
of their stay in Havana.

Perhaps it is precisely this history of splendor and neglect that has
made the Paseo del Prado the chosen site to celebrate Gay Pride Day in
Cuba. A community degraded, for decades trapped between a machismo
culture and the repressive politics of the State, wants to take to the
streets on June 28. The call has been launched by an alternative group
that protects the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
people. The pressures of the political police on the main organizers
have been felt from the moment of the announcement, but so far the idea

Meanwhile, Mariela Castro, daughter of the current president,
continues–from her Center for the Study of Sexuality (CENESEX)–to deny
the need for this type of public demonstration. Instead, the well-known
psychologist led events on May 17, a day to celebrate the World Health
Organization's ceasing to regard homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.

But from there to permitting the Cuban LGBT community to spontaneously
join together and take to the streets to celebrate its diversity is a
long stretch. Until now, the campaign to accept plurality in love has
been kept within the hands of official institutions, without letting
those whose interests are represented represent themselves. This, of
course, characterizes the inability of free association suffered by
Cuban society at all levels.

The choice of the Paseo del Prado as a site for the event, however,
benefits and protects those who manage to reach it. The tourists with
their restless cameras, curious children frolicking on all sides, the
unsuspecting lovebirds embracing on the benches, will act as a
protective shield without their knowing it.

And the lions, ah, the lions! They will have their moment of glory once
more, among brightly colored costumes, flags, streamers and songs, and
the handshakes of diversity. Today, claws and manes cast in the bronze
of a past war will seem less aggressive, with lower doses of
testosterone, and with a bit more of the sparkle of life.

28 June 2011"

Train crash injures 79 in Cuba

Train crash injures 79 in Cuba
28 June 2011 98 views No Comment BY: BNO News

HAVANA (BNO NEWS) -- At least 79 people were injured on Tuesday when two
trains collided in the eastern Cuban province of Guantanamo, local
newspaper Venceremos reported.

The driver of the small train said the brakes didn't work, causing the
small train to collide with the passenger train. Authorities, however,
are still investigating what caused the technical problem.

Most of the injured sustained only minor injuries. Rogelio Creach
Bandera, director of Guantanamo's Regional Hospital, said that two
people were in serious condition and may have to undergo surgery.

According to official figures, there were 106 train accidents in Cuba in
2010. At least 19 people were killed and 149 were injured.

U.S.: Some non-Mariel Cubans can be deported

Posted on Wednesday, 06.29.11

U.S.: Some non-Mariel Cubans can be deported

U.S. immigration officials said a list of deportable Cubans includes
some who didn't arrive in the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Cubans convicted of crimes in the United States who arrived before and
after the 1980 Mariel exodus have been deported to their homeland
because their names surprisingly appear in a 27-year-old repatriation
agreement list.

This week, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman
in Washington confirmed the 1984 list of names of Cubans who can be
returned to the island includes some who did not arrive during the 1980

"The 1984 accord contains the names of convicted Cuban criminals who
arrived in the U.S. pre- and post-Mariel," said Barbara Gonzalez, the
ICE press secretary in Washington.

The issue is important because for years Cuban exiles have been told
only Mariel-era convicts on the list would be deported to Cuba. All
others would not be returned, they were told by immigration attorneys
and activists, because the Cuban government would not accept non-Mariel

The original list named 2,746 deportables. Today, only 665 of those
remain in the U.S.

This marks the first time since the 1984 agreement was announced during
the Reagan administration that U.S. officials say the repatriation list
includes non-Mariel Cubans. The disclosure came as a result of a story
in El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald Monday that examined the cases
of at least three non-Mariel Cubans who had been deported to Cuba in the
last five years. "The community has always been led to believe that in
order to be on the list you had to have an order of exclusion prior to
the approval of the list in 1984," said Miami immigration attorney
Grisel Ybarra, who represents one of the man recently deported.

The repatriation list is the result of U.S. pressures on Cuba to take
back Mariel migrants on the ground that they were criminals or had
committed and been convicted of crimes.

In Miami-Dade, the disclosure came as a surprise to immigration
attorneys and to activists who have been deeply involved with Mariel
issues for decades.

Rafael Peñalver, a Miami attorney who led negotiations that ended the
1987 Atlanta and Oakdale Mariel prison uprisings, said that until now
everyone familiar with Mariel matters had assumed that the list was made
up exclusively of Mariel-era convicts. But he acknowledged that U.S.
officials never really explained in detail who was on the list — which
remains secret.

"I remember asking then- U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese if the
repatriation list included other Cubans who had not arrived during
Mariel and he told me that he couldn't reveal to me who was on the
list," Peñalver said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "We assumed that
only people who arrived during Mariel were on the list, but they never
said specifically."

Peñalver said that three successive attorneys general reassured him that
the deportation of non-Mariel Cubans was not a step being contemplated
by the federal government.

ICE officials would not say from what specific periods individuals
before and after Mariel are included in the list .

Non-Mariel Cubans deported in the last two years include a man who
arrived in 1979 and another who arrived in 1981.

Cubans stage 'independent' Gay Pride march

Posted on Tuesday, 06.28.11
Cuba gays

Cubans stage 'independent' Gay Pride march

Despite gains in recent years, an alternative gay rights group held a
small protest in Havana on Tuesday to "demand" respect for the rights of
By Juan O. Tamayo

A small group of "independent" Cuban gays and lesbians strolled down a
Havana boulevard Tuesday to celebrate Gay Pride Day — and mark their
distance from pro-government LGBT groups controlled by Raúl Castro's
daughter Mariela.

Waving rainbow colored flags, dozens of LGBT activists and supporters
joined what was described as Cuba's first gay street demonstration not
sponsored by the government in recent memory. The event drew a strong
police presence but went off without incident.

Leannes Imbert, whose Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
Observatory organized the event, had said that she was inviting
everyone, even Mariela Castro, to the stroll — not a protest or a march
because those might have required police permits.

But the event was clearly designed to highlight differences with the
"official" LGBT groups backed by the first daughter, who has argued that
Gay Pride parades are "protests" not needed in Cuba because the
country's laws protect gay rights.

The stroll also highlighted the growing activism of varied independent
groups — gays, blacks and farmers, among others — seeking a stronger
voice in the nation's affairs as the communist government tries to
overhaul a stumbling economy.

"People are a bit more daring each day. We're hearing critical
expressions that were unthinkable before," blogger Yoani Sánchez wrote
in a Tweet as she joined the 90-minute demonstration.

In turn, the independent groups are receiving growing attention abroad.
Imbert attended former President Jimmy Carter's meeting with civil
society leaders in Havana in March, and the U.S. State Department is
planning to spend $300,000 this year to help the LGBT community in Cuba.

Imbert told reporters after the event that Mariela Castro and her
National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) in Havana had organized
several events Tuesday to divert attention from the stroll. Security
officials also had warned gay rights activists in recent days to stay
away from the Observatory's event.

Several El Nuevo Herald calls to Imbert's cell phone Tuesday appeared to
have been blocked.

In an interview published earlier on the website Cuba Encuentro, she
declared that her group organized the stroll primarily to cast a
spotlight on the LGBT community in Cuba, "which has been in the shadow
for so long."

She acknowledged some improvements in gay rights in recent years but
argued that not all the credit should go to Mariela Castro, who has been
the face and the voice of the pro-government LGBT community on the
island for more than a decade.

"This is the time when we have to come out into the light and show
everyone the LGBT community in Cuba, which is not only CENESEX,'' Imbert
was quoted as saying.

The Observatory will "demand" respect for the rights of gay Cubans, she
added, "which up to now have been denied. There are many violations
still — although the form has changed somewhat if we compare it to past

Herb Sosa, head of the Unity Coalition, a Hispanic gay rights group
based in South Florida, remained skeptical of the Observatory, arguing
that if the Cuban government allowed the stroll it must be part of a
government propaganda effort.

"Almost every day I get reports of LGBT community people being beaten,
arrested, dragged off to jail because there's no freedom of expression
at all in Cuba," Sosa told El Nuevo Herald.

Imbert told Cuba Encuentro that police have broken up efforts to mark
Gay Pride Day in past years and pointed out the stroll was held on Paseo
del Prado — a pedestrian boulevard in central Havana where police cannot
accuse participants of disrupting traffic.

New York author Armando Lopez recalled in a column in May, shortly after
Mariela Castro had led a CENESEX-organized conga line down Havana
streets for her version of a Gay Pride march, that Fidel Castro had
harshly attacked gays in a 1963 speech.

"Homophobia became state policy" that year, Lopez wrote, quoting Castro
as saying that gays "use public spaces to organize their feminoid shows
… Socialist society cannot permit such degenerate actions."

Castro added, "I always noticed that the countryside never gave rise to
that subproduct." Two years later, he sent thousands of gays, priests
and others he did not want to draft into the military to the notorious
hard labor camps known as UMAP.

Cuban gays, Lopez added, "are victims of an absurd revolution. Just like
you and me, my dear reader."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Once Again, the "Brave" against Jacquelin and Ariel / Luis Felipe Rojas

Once Again, the "Brave" against Jacquelin and Ariel / Luis Felipe Rojas
Luis Felipe Rojas, Translator: Raul G.

Recently, I published a post in which Jacquelin details the physical
blows she received at the hands of combined forces from the political
police and the trained mobs who broke into her house to take Ariel
Arzuaga, her husband, to prison and leave her full of bruises and with a
fractured arm.

During the time I completed that post Ariel was imprisoned and was being
accused of unimaginable charges. After beating all those present in that
humble home, the police cynically accused the man of attempting to hurt
the soldiers. In addition, they accused him of a list of other absurd
things which, out of respect for the family, I will not even mention
because I don't think that repeating them will help in any way to remove
the 8 years of prison they are supposed to sentence him on this June 24
in Bayamo during what, in Cuba, they call "municipal tribunals".

At four in the afternoon I tried to reach them via telephone to find out
how the false "trial" went but I could not get in touch with anyone in
the family. After countless attempts I was finally able to get in touch
with Yoandri Montoya who told me, "Yes, today was the trial but we were
not able to get to the tribunal because the police surrounded the place
and anyone who tried to get through was detained. The trial is over and
we still do not know how much time Ariel was sentenced to because the
entire family was arrested. So you can imagine how far the injustice
went that the entire family carried out a protest and the repressive
forces were used on them as well".

Everyone in the family has been arrested.

"Well, at least his wife…," I told him.

"No, the wife has been detained since Monday in Santiago de Cuba. It
happened while she was on her way to show support and solidarity with
the family of Jorge Cervantes. She was captured together with other
women and up to now she has not yet been freed. They told me that it
seems that she was beaten so bad that they still have not released her
because they are waiting for the bruises and scars to go away".

When I am finally able to talk to Jacquelin I will let you all know
more, but I could not let another day pass without reporting that this
week the injustice and cowardliness of the dictatorship's soldiers has
been once again practiced in this region.

Translated by Raul G.

25 June 2011

Cuba: For Now, A Country of Contrasts

Cuba: For Now, A Country of Contrasts
Old world Cuba remains, but for how long?
By Irene Bell, Contributor
June 28, 2011 7:00 AM 2

It doesn't take long to be sharply aware we are in a Communist country.
The only advertising signs along the featureless road between Havana
airport and the city exhort the success of the 52-year-old revolution
and hail those who brought it about - Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Then
comes the abrupt contrast as, checking into Havana's five-star Nacional
de Cuba Hotel, the uneasy alliance between Communism and capitalism
becomes evident.

The elegant Colonial hotel, which has welcomed an impressive list of
celebrities from Winston Churchill to Frank Sinatra, has been preserved.
But in Old Havana, the city that captivated and inspired Ernest
Hemingway, it's a sad sight to see the once beautiful buildings
crumbling quietly to oblivion. Grand homes with ornate facades echo the
faded grandeur of Havana's heyday during the 1930s, when the city was
vibrant and prosperous, buzzing with a hedonistic nightlife fueled by an
excess of drink and drugs. Now the sculpted verandas are propped up with
wooden beams, themselves bowing beneath the crushing weight of several
stories above them. In these, families still live in precarious rooms
threatening collapse at any moment.

"The Cuban people are afraid of nothing," says our guide proudly.

He omits to say that the people have little choice but to live anywhere
they can find a roof still covering four walls. A renovation program was
started 17 years ago to save some of the ancient architecture which is
now embraced by a spider's web of scaffolding. In between, there are
gaps where salvation came too late, like a once grand old lady
ignominiously losing her teeth and unable to hide her shame.

Despite their poverty, the Cubans are good-humoured and welcoming, ready
with a smile and a salsa, for music is everywhere.

Driving south, you see oxen hauling plows across the fields of sugar
cane, mango, and citrus fruit. In wayside bars, ranchers in wide-brimmed
hats lean on rails, nonchalantly rolling thin cigarettes and sucking on
cans of beer while their horses stand like statues. It's scenery frozen
in time, untouched by progress. There is no sense of hurry here, just an
air of stillness that speaks of generations.

The government allows families to open their homes as restaurants, or
paladares, though the amount they earn is severely restricted -- no free
enterprise here. In the delightful southern town of Trinidad, our genial
hosts, Maria and Juan, offered a lobster dinner for a mere 10 CUCs (the
currency used by tourists), about £8 each.

When we returned to their home that evening, the buxom Maria had changed
into a floral print frock stretched tight across her broad beam, a white
frill of petticoat showing below the just-a-bit-too short hem. Two
langoustine tails as big as a man's hand were put in front of each of
us, with steaming bowls of rice and black beans, and a tomato salad.

As we struggled to finish the enormous meal, we were serenaded by the
family musicians who quickly produced the ubiquitous CD -- every group
has one -- and how could we resist? Maria hugged us farewell and we
promised to send friends to eat in their home.

If America normalises relations with Cuba, and the US-Cuban floodgates
open, it will change the face of this colourful and endearing island. It
will undoubtedly save it from slow disintegration and lift the people
out of poverty. But how long will it be before Starbucks arrives and
nudges out the street corner café serving coffee as black as treacle,
before burger and fries seem more appealing than black beans and rice?


A Visit to Cuba's Largest Prison

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

A Visit to Cuba's Largest Prison
Posted: 06/27/11 03:30 PM ET

Nine in the morning outside Combinado del Este, the largest prison in
Cuba. Dozens of families are gathered to listen to an stern guard
shouting out the names of the prisoners. Immediately, they order us down
a narrow stretch to the sentry box where they search our bags and run a
metal detector over our bodies. They also inspect the sacks of food the
families have been filling for weeks with crackers, sugar, powdered soft
drinks, cigarettes and powdered milk. They are the result of the
unselfish efforts of the families who deprive themselves of these foods
to bring them to the prisoners.

One woman cries because the guard won't let her bring in the ripe
mangoes she brought for her son. People hang along the fence around the
entrance without any protection, all those not allowed to enter. There
is a bag with a mobile phone, a young woman's wallet, some deodorant
that the official says could be made into moonshine within those walls.
Me, they search the magazines I carry, give a pull on the zipper of my
jacket, and run their fingers through my hair. Ahead of me there is
someone trying to bring in a cake for a birthday that surely happened
months ago. A young man grips his pants because they won't allow his
belt inside. It would appear we are plunging into hell and -- in some
ways -- it's true.

The place where we spend the visit smells of sweat, sweat and enclosure.
The two Italian prisoners in front of me desperately put words one after
the other. They have been arrested for the murder of a minor in Bayamo,
but assure me that they hadn't been on the Island on the days of the
crime. They've spent more than a year in prison without trial and I try
to reconstruct, journalistically, the course of the case. One of them,
Simone Pini, talks to me about police irregularities and and I agree to
investigate. "I can't do much," I tell him, "nor do I have access to the
investigation record, but I will find out." I haven't finished my
sentence when a guard shouts my name through the bars of the room. And
leads me to the other side of Combinado del Este. To the immaculate,
air-conditioned and wood-paneled office where the chief sits, located in
a different part of the same horror. Meanwhile, a lieutenant colonel
warns me that they will never ever let me enter this prison again. When
I try to leave, I note that the door has a lock with four combinations.
"So much fear..." I think to myself. They escort me to the exit and I
see a line of family members for the next visit that starts at noon.
They carry sacks scrawled with names, and someone groans because they
won't let him bring in a present. I discover in this moment that
something sad has established itself in me, like the weight of the bars
which, since then, I carry everywhere.

Southwest Florida International OK'd for flights to Cuba

Southwest Florida International OK'd for flights to Cuba
POSTED: June 28, 2011

On June 10, the Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border
Protection approved Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) as
meeting the criteria to provide flights between the United States and
Cuba. RSW was one of 12 airports in the United States to be added to the
authorized list that had previously included only three U.S. airports:
Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport and John
F. Kennedy International Airport.

"We appreciate the administration for designating Southwest Florida
International Airport as a gateway to Cuba," said Robert M. Ball,
A.A.E., executive director of the Lee County Port Authority. "This
authority will give the airport an opportunity to develop relationships
with approved aircraft operators and prepare for the future when flights
to Cuba are completely normalized."

The changes made by the Department of Homeland Security in January 2011,
modified the ban on travel to Cuba to allow for "purposeful" travel that
includes passengers with close relatives in Cuba, those involved in
medical and agriculture business or traveling for education and
religious activities. General U.S. travel restrictions for tourism and
trade with Cuba remain in place.

Southwest Florida International Airport served more than 7.5 million
passengers in 2010 and is one of the top 50 U.S. airports for passenger
traffic. No ad valorem (property) taxes are used for airport operation
or construction. For more information, log onto

Come get your MBA in…Cuba?

Come get your MBA in…Cuba?
June 28, 2011 6:11 pm by Ron Buchanan

Havana may not yet rival Harvard, but an MBA course is shortly to be
launched in the communist-ruled Cuban capital. Che Guevara might be
turning in his grave.

The invitation to the MBA course has been extended by the Archdiocese of
Havana, in conjunction with the San Antonio Catholic University of
Murcia in Spain. Only 40 places are available. The course will form
cadres for a still tiny private sector in Cuba that is expected to grow
rapidly under reforms announced recently by President Raúl Castro.

Raúl seems to have the backing of his brother and líder máximo of the
Revolution, Fidel. And at least some change is on the way.

Cuban property laws are more Pyongyang than Palm Beach, but new
legislation allows foreign investors to acquire 99-year leases on state
land. And at least some foreign real-estate agents are rubbing their
hands in glee at the prospect of a boom in golf courses linked to
condominium projects.

So why are the Castros willing to do this, after decades of swearing
their troth to Marxism? The word from the bongo drums in Havana is that
they have no alternative in order to save their regime. Vietnam-style,
or indeed Chinese, reforms are the only way out.

But these very same drums are telling another story too, one of a
Stalinist group within the power structure that is resistant to change.
Already there have been major delays in the reforms, especially the most
sensitive ones.

Raúl has announced massive lay-offs in a state sector whose payroll is
massively padded. So far the lay-offs have yet to happen.

Which is where the Catholic Church comes in as an ally of the proponents
of reform. The MBA course is the latest in a series of educational
initiatives by the Church in association with Catholic universities in
Spain and Mexico.

By now the Church has established an alternative to the state-controlled
educational system almost throughout the island. The courses, in what
loosely be regarded as social sciences, are tinged by Catholic ideology.

The Stalinist comrades might not like it but — so far, at least — they
are lumping it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still the Same Thing / Iván García

Still the Same Thing / Iván García
Iván García, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez

The fiery debate and emotions around the reforms of General Raul Castro
were circumscribed to the air-conditioned rooms of the Palace of
Conventions, where between April 16-19 the five commissions of the Sixth
Congress of the Cuban Communist Party were in session.

Cubans warily followed the central report and saw on the TV news the
abstracts of the linguistic, rather than political, debates of the
different commissions debating the future of Cuba. At the end, as a
common practice, the 986 delegates unanimously approved the economic
policies proposed by Castro II to straighten the bow of the already
cracked olive green ship, which with 52 years of sinuous navigation is
at great risk of sinking.

The communist delegates can feel the sublime over-enjoyment of the
spectrum of supposed controversies surrounding the economic plan to be
executed in the next five years.

A lot of delegates, probably, believe without any doubt in the project
designed by the economic tsar Marino Murillo and his troop of
technocrats who, during four days, traded the military uniforms for
elegant white guayabera shirts.

Some of them preferred to remain silent. Maybe they have a lot of doubts
and decided to wait to know the amount of truthfulness involved in the
Castro II proclaimed democracy in the Cuban Communist Party. In Cuba it
is always right to be cautious in political matters.

Not always when the bosses fire the starting gun so that the political
commissioners, official journalists and partisans will talk and
unreservedly criticize the status quo, is it a signal of a change in the
leaders mentality.

On the island naivety is a sin you can't commit. Because the mandarins
who today say that not everybody has to raise their hands at the same
time to support one of the revolution's projects, it is still the same
ones who are written on a black list of those who criticized their
decrees and those who, in their eagerness to be creative, contributed
with their own ideas.

The people on the street are not fools neither. The VI Congress touched
interesting points and the regime anticipated opening a little the iron
fist that monitors citizens' lives.

But everything here is still the same. Maybe worse. The money doesn't
want to land in the wallets. The food is more expensive every day. And
the salaries are still frozen in time, in spite of inflation and the

Out of the party's meeting, the common person got as a result the
imminent authorization allowing him to buy and sell cars and homes. The
homes part of the deal sounds weird: although on the island 90% of the
families own their homes, by official decree they couldn't transfer them
and if they left the country, the government took ownership of their

Amending the front page (it seems), now the common Cuban citizen waits
for more concessions. Like the permission to come and go from the
national territory, the decriminalization of political dissent or, at
last, access to the internet from home.

I doubt that Castro II will fulfill those wishes. He is not Aladdin. He
is only a politician who turns back, knowing that opening the fist too
much may trigger a cataclysm that may end the personal revolution made
by his brother Fidel.

This, socialism, has to be preserved by all means. Making controlled
changes heavily reined in, therefore the beast don't run away out of

Then, at the end of the day, people who for breakfast have coffee
without milk, who are the majority in Cuba, didn't see themselves
represented by the "polemic" delegates, who either keep on silent or
ignore the bunch of rights and civil liberties claimed, not only by the
dissidents, but by the Cuban citizens while waiting in the long lines at
the local grocery stores, or in the interior of the collective gypsy cabs.

The regime's propagandistic marketing wants to sell us the idea that the
Congress happened in a rush of constructive criticism, a kind of
tropical Perestroika and the new popular ideas that will nurture the
homeland's economic future.

I am afraid not. Certain things had changed. There's a glaze of
blackness and more skirts in the Central Committee. There will be fewer
revolutionary marches and empty political speeches. They will issue more
permits to open small variety stores or to sell bread and mayonnaise and
pirated compact discs without so much effort. And that's it.

Photo: Jutta Winkhaus. Playing dominoes at the side of the stairs
leading to La Guarida: the famous "paladar" (a private home restaurant
with a few seats) which is located in and old run down mansion in a poor
Havana neighborhood.

Translated by Adrian Rodriguez

April 27 2011

Cuban reforms reveal poor accounting

Cuban reforms reveal poor accounting
by Staff Writers
Havana (UPI) Jun 23, 2011

The Cuban government's initiatives to loosen communist controls and
encourage quasi-capitalist liberalization in the burgeoning state sector
have revealed major accounting flaws that may point to large-scale
misappropriation of funds.

Reports of "problematic" accounting practices at state-controlled
companies, many earmarked for restructuring and privatization, followed
opposition criticism that lack of accountability had bred corruption and
other malpractices in the operations of Cuba's biggest employer, the state.

Cuba is sensitive to any criticism of its communist ways of working but
in recent months has relented, if only to save runaway costs, and
allowed Cubans to become self-starting traders, own property and even
employ other Cubans in new business ventures.

The developing scenario is likened by critics to the early days of
capitalist experimentation in former Soviet republics in Europe and the
Caucasus where communist oligarchs became capital overlords overnight.

Results of President Raul Castro's experimentation with "socialist
capitalism" remain shrouded in mystery except where thousands of people
are threatened with job losses and tough options to go it alone as
entrepreneurs in a fledgling market economy.

Comptroller General Gladys Bejerano revealed the extent of questionable
accounting practices in her latest report which said the accounts were
either deficient or problematic -- both seen by critics as euphemisms
for financial irregularities.

Bejerano's report said 37 percent of state enterprises scrutinized by
auditors had problems with the way they handled state funds. She gave
scant details but called for an end to corruption and opportunism.

"Of the 750 state companies audited in April and May we found deficient
or problematic accounting practices in 37 percent of them," Bejerano
said in an interview with the state-run Trabajadores weekly newspaper,
also reported by the Granma newspaper.

Bejerano was tasked by Castro with a sweeping mission of eliminating
corruption and so far has enjoyed his support. She's vice president of
the ruling Council of State and therefore mindful of comments that could
be exploited by the opposition.

She tempered her report with comments that despite the high ratio of
accounting flaws the audit result showed an improvement over 2010, when
40 percent of the audited public entities were found to be wanting in
their accounts procedures.

Bejerano said those found to have unsatisfactory performance results
could expect to be asked to go through a "rectification process" which
in the past has included dismissals and demotions or transfers of
personnel from positions seen to be financially lucrative.

This month Cuba received material and political support from China for
its reforms. Ten new agreements will give China access to the
underfunded Cuban energy industry and other economic sectors targeted
for reforms.

The Chinese are teaching Cubans how to switch from communism to
capitalism and stay communist -- in a manner of speaking --
Chinese-style, published comments showed.

Castro met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and together they
declared the new accords "reflect the political will of both parties and
governments to continue deepening their ties."

China gave Cuba a new line of credit and agreed to restructure two
previous loans and also gave a donation. Neither side revealed the
figures for the loans or the economic agreements.

China will help Cuba modernize an oil refinery in the southeastern city
of Cienfuegos, build a new liquid gas plant and refurbish the city port
-- all part of its overall global strategy to secure sources of energy
and new trade opportunities.

Xi was the first Chinese leader to visit the island after the Cuban
Communist Party met in April and approved a package of more than 300
economic reforms.

The Cuban state media didn't say if China also offered advice on
fighting corruption and state inefficiencies, problems that Beijing is
confronting at the moment.

Despite Mariel agreement, U.S. deports man to Cuba after almost 30 years

Posted on Sunday, 06.26.11

Despite Mariel agreement, U.S. deports man to Cuba after almost 30 years

Technically, only Cubans who arrived during the Mariel boatlift can be
sent back to the island if they are criminals, but several cases of
non-Mariel deportations have emerged.

One day in March 2010 Abraham Gonzalez, a Cuban who arrived in the
United States in 1981, went to see an immigration officer about getting
a work permit.

Instead of getting the document, Gonzalez was detained, faced
deportation proceedings and, within months, was sent back to Cuba.

The deportation surprised not only the Gonzalez family but also South
Florida immigration attorneys who represent Cubans ordered deported
because of criminal convictions.

The reason: Only a limited number of Cubans who arrived during the 1980
Mariel boatlift — fewer than 3,000 — were supposed to be deported to the
island because of a Havana-Washington agreement reached in 1984.

All other Cubans with pending deportation orders — more than 30,000 —
have been released under supervision orders that require them to report
periodically to immigration authorities but spare them from immediate
removal. Gonzalez was ordered deported because of a 1982
drug-trafficking conviction.

By and large, non-Mariel Cubans with deportation orders have been told
for years they would not be sent back to Cuba because the Castro regime
does not take back those who are not on the 1984 list of 2,746 individuals.

But Gonzalez's deportation, outlined in detail last week by his attorney
and his Miami family, shows that there are exceptions to the rule.

"Immigration did a very unfair thing, and they don't want to admit they
made a mistake," said Zeida Moret, Gonzalez's wife.

In a telephone interview from Cuba last week, Gonzalez said he was
desperate to rejoin his family.

"This amounts to torture for me, to have been sent back to Cuba," said
Gonzalez. "They have removed me from my family, after having worked hard
for 27 years. And they did not take into account that I paid taxes for
all those years."

Besides missing his family, Gonzalez said he had trouble finding a job
and adjusting to life on the island he left 30 years ago.

"They have jobs, like cleaning the streets, that require that I work
under the sun for hours, but I can't work in the sun for hours because I
suffer from a pulmonary disease," said Gonzalez, 65. His wife said he
suffers from emphysema.

It is unclear how many non-Mariel Cubans have been deported over the
years. But at least three cases from the past five years, including
Gonzalez's, can be documented.

Juan Emilio Aboy, a Cuban accused of being a spy for Havana, was
deported in 2005, a move announced at the time by U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE).

René Alamo, a Cuban who arrived in 1979, was deported in 2009.

When the Alamo case surfaced last year, ICE officials said that only
Mariel-era Cuban convicts on the deportation agreement were being removed.

"The process for removing Cubans has not changed," an ICE spokeswoman in
Miami said at the time. "ICE is only removing Cuban nationals contained
in the repatriation agreement."

As for Gonzalez, an ICE spokesman, Iván Ortiz-Delgado, said Friday that
his agency "was looking into the matter."

Ybarra said the repatriation list is not set in concrete.

"As Mariel Cubans get convicted and become deportable they are
apparently added to this list, and in the Gonzalez case it is evident
that the 90 days that the Cubans are detained are being used by ICE to
submit their names to Castro to see if he will accept them back," Ybarra
said. "If Castro takes them back they are removed, as in case of Mr.

She does not deny that Gonzalez, as a convicted felon, was subject to
deportation. What Ybarra objects to is the manner in which Gonzalez was
"misled into thinking" that he would be released after the standard 90
days' detention.

Though Gonzalez was deported last year, the account provided by his
family and lawyer adds to the concerns of deportable Cubans that they
may no longer be safe from removal.

Those concerns grew after an influential congressman in Washington in
May filed a bill under which foreign nationals who cannot be deported
would be placed in detention until they can be removed.

Immigration experts have said that Cubans make up the largest contingent
of non-deportable foreign nationals. Ybarra said Cubans are the only
foreign Hispanics who, as a general rule, cannot be deported from the
United States.

Ybarra said the cases of non-Mariel Cubans sent back to the island set a
precedent to deport more of them.

"The essence of this case is that ICE is not saying exactly what's being
done," said Ybarra. "They submit a bunch of names to Cuba. Cuba says
yes, you're out of here. This is the precedent. What they're saying,
that they don't deport anybody unless they are a Mariel, is not true."

The Gonzalez saga began after the September 11, 2001, attacks, when
state and federal authorities toughened laws or requirements for foreign
nationals to qualify for driver's licenses.

Gonzalez, who had been able to renew his driver license without much
trouble prior to 9/11, was suddenly required to present immigration papers.

One day in March 2010, Gonzalez met with an immigration officer at the
Krome detention center to try to resolve the issue.

According to Ybarra, Gonzalez was advised by the officer that the best
course of action was to be detained, held for 90 days and then released
under a supervision order which he could use to secure a work permit.
Since he was Cuban, he was told, he would not be deported.

"Yes, that's what they told me," Gonzalez said in the telephone
interview from Cuba.

Ybarra said Gonzalez accepted the deal, was detained and placed in
deportation proceedings.

On March 30, 2010, Gonzalez appeared before an immigration judge at
Krome and requested an order of deportation in the belief that he would
be released after 90 days and then placed in supervised release.

But instead of being released, Gonzalez was put on a plane to Cuba on
June 17, 2010.

"They didn't warn me in advance that I was going to Cuba," Gonzalez
recalled in the telephone interview from Cuba. "They simply, one
morning, told me, 'Get ready.' I thought they were going to release me
so I could go home."

Gonzalez realized he was being deported when he was ordered to board a
plane at Miami International Airport along with several Mariel-era

Upon learning that Gonzalez was back in Cuba, the family contacted
Ybarra, who went to Krome to investigate.

In a summary of the case, Ybarra wrote that on June 23, 2010, she met
with an immigration officer who told her that Gonzalez had been deported
because "he was on the list" of Mariel Cubans approved for removal.

That afternoon, the officer's supervisor called Ybarra to say that he
had been on the plane that took Gonzalez to Cuba and that no mistake had
been made.

Ybarra told the officer, according to the summary, that Gonzalez had
been placed on the removal list "by mistake, since he did not arrive
during Mariel."

When he arrived in Cuba, Cuban authorities expressed surprise that he
had been on the plane, Gonzalez said in the telephone interview from the
home where he is now living in Havana. His daughter Judith Gonzalez in
Miami said he is staying at the home of her husband's grandmother.

She said that occasionally she or other relatives travel to Cuba to
visit with Gonzalez and see how he is doing.

After arriving back in Cuba, Gonzalez said he was detained for several
days at the Combinado del Este prison and then released.

Since then, Gonzalez said, he has tried to get a job but has only been
offered menial work that requires physical exercise that he cannot
perform because of his emphysema.

Meanwhile, his family here — wife Zeida Moret and his three daughters —
feel devastated by the removal.

"This event totally changed the life of our family," said Judith
Gonzalez. "Since last year when he entered Krome, we have had no life."

In Cuba, half a loaf is not enough

Posted on Monday, 06.27.11

In Cuba, half a loaf is not enough

In the second half of the 19th Century, during the inter-war period
between Cuba's Ten Years' War (1868) and its War of Independence (1895),
a reformist political movement emerged in Cuba under the rubric of
Autonomismo. Frustrated by the failure of the Ten Years' War, and
convinced that no other viable options were available, some Cuban
intellectuals and businessmen sought to obtain a greater degree of
political and economic autonomy from Spain while remaining under its
rule. They were encouraged by a measure of tolerance shown by the
then-Spanish Captain General of Cuba, Arsenio Martínez Campos.

Some Autonomistas believed that Cubans would be better off as Spanish
citizens, but with a greater degree of economic autonomy. Others held
that partial reformism was a better alternative to a prolonged struggle
for independence from Spain. In any case, they postulated that
Autonomismo was not incompatible with Spanish sovereignty and sought to
gain political "space" from the Crown.

Although the political stance and ideological elitism of the autonomists
disturbed José Marti, who championed Cuba's full independence,
autonomists were not traitors or anti-nationalists. Some had fought
bravely in the Ten Years' War for independence but were now convinced
that times had changed and a new strategy was needed to fight Spanish

Fast forward some 130 years and we find a similar divide in the Cuban
nation. The label autonomist no longer applies, but the contemporary
approaches to Cuba's future correspond with those of the 19th Century.

The "neo-autonomists" of today, both in and out of the island support
gradual change that does not alter the command and control structure of
Cuba's totalitarian system. They view the minimalist economic reforms
proposed by Gen. Raúl Castro with the same sense of encouragement that
the Autonomistas attached to the apparent forbearance of Spain's
military commander in Cuba at the time. Some seek to "actualize" the
communist system; others see the purported reforms as political space or
a strategic opportunity to undermine Cuba's totalitarianism over the
long term. Not unlike the frustrated ethos that permeated the Cuban
nation following the inconclusive Ten Years' War, "neo-autonomists" They
perceive gradual reformism as the only viable course after 52 years of
communist rule and many failed efforts to overthrow the dictatorship.

Not unlike the Autonomistas, they will also eventually realize that the
Castro government, like the Spanish Crown, has no intention of allowing
legitimate reforms that will undermine its totalitarian rule. One of the
lessons we have learned in the study of totalitarian systems throughout
the world is that such systems do not generate truthful or useful
knowledge regarding the causes of their own malfunction. Thus,
totalitarian systems are ontologically incapable of reforming
themselves. Simply put, Cuban communism is not able to reform. It must
be abolished.

The "neo-autonomists", as their predecessors, believe that economic
progress is an essential antecedent to civic empowerment and must come
first, if at all; popular sovereignty is not a priority. Central to
their argument is that change should originate with an enlightened
autocratic government and not with the will of the people. The
democratic counterargument is that civic empowerment is the foundation
of progress and its necessary precondition.

These divergent approaches may seem to differ only in the sequencing and
prioritizing of polices. However, the differences are philosophically
fundamental. The eradication of personal freedoms is incompatible with
human dignity and the pursuit of happiness.

The contemporary Autonomistas look to economic measures undertaken by
the Castros without democratic empowerment as useful to foster
prosperity. This belief embodies the elitist and despotic notion that
the "special knowledge" of the few should rule the activities of the
many. This conviction is particularly noxious to Cuba's future, because
democracy will fail everywhere when there is no appreciation for its
decisive role in good governance.

The citizenry empowerment camp values individual freedoms as essential
to living meaningful lives. They do not consider political rights and
civil liberties as superfluous luxuries to be perhaps appended following
a program of economic reforms. As Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen, an
economist from India, has noted, "People in economic need also need a
political voice."

In Cuba, that's the reality.

José Azel is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami and the author of the book,
Mañana in Cuba.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Good Fortune of Beggars / Miriam Celaya

The Good Fortune of Beggars / Miriam Celaya
Miriam Celaya, Translator: Unstated

One of the most common attacks from the official spaces against the
alternative bloggers revolved around our supposed malicious interest in
silencing the "achievements" of the Revolution. With regards to the
issue of health, the scoldings bring up a point. The altruism of the
so-called solidarity–referring primarily to the medical brigades serving
in other countries–has become, for several years, the surviving showcase
for marketing tropical socialism and is the object of more than a few
recognitions on the part of international organizations who comment on
the professionalism and spirit of sacrifice of our doctors, as well as
the political willingness of the leaders of the Revolution to support
health programs in less-favored countries.

Cuba, by virtue of this capricious principle, ranks among the "favored"
countries for an enviable public health system, taking into account that
is has the luxury of exporting doctors and equipment. Of course, they
never mention in said spaces that so much altruism is detrimental to the
Cuban people themselves, who have witnessed an accelerated deterioration
in all the health services.

It's not necessary to point out that the official press allows itself to
reflect daily on the efforts of our government to maintain "the high
standards" of medical attention, the "free" character of the services,
and the many sacrifices they have to make to ensure that the people
don't lack such privileges. Most commonly, the official praise is
accompanied by data. So, a patient who depends on dialysis, or who has
undergone complex transplant surgery of some organ, has to additionally
suffer the governmental pedantry reminding him of his eternal debt of
gratitude to the Revolution and the high cost of his care and treatment,
as if it weren't enough to suffer the illness and the impossibility of
access to other services offered by the country's battered hospitals.

On short, we bloggers are truly impertinent, as we spend our time
looking for spots on the sun. Because, after all, faced with such
greatness, what does it matter, for example, that a 74-year-old patient
has spent ten days in Salvador Allende Hospital (Covadonga), between the
end of May and the beginning of June, without undergoing an endoscopy
because there was no water? It's true that he was vomiting blood, but
still–without even finding an ambulance that could take him for the
prescribed examination at another hospital–the doctors on more than one
occasion tried to discharge him without diagnosis. Very professional and
ethical of them, as after all, at the end of the day they're not
plumbers and couldn't solve the water problem. Right? The patient
finally was able to enter, be diagnosed, and undergo surgery at the
Hermanos Aimeijeiras Hospital, thanks to the opportune intervention of
his nephew, a famous musician whose name I won't mention.

Another silly little thing the media don't divulge is the fact that the
Dentistry School at the University of Havana is not offering services
because there aren't any gloves. Believe me, it's true. After a
precarious period due to a scarcity of this basic supply, the
prestigious center had to discontinue patient care due to the small
reserve of gloves which had to be set aside for the use of those
students facing the upcoming state exams. Let's not go into the
frequency with which they lack anesthetics or simply the frequency with
which those they do possess have expired. I know this because I suffered
it with my own tooth.

But the glove crisis has turned into an epidemic. A few months ago my
friend Diana took her son to the Central Havana pediatric hospital for
the removal of a small subcutaneous cyst by outpatient surgery. My
friend watched how the doctor, after a brief operation, instead of
tossing the gloves in the trash, carefully laid them on the instrument
tray. She wanted to clear up this mystery and the doctor explained that
she had to return the used gloves to the nurse each day, who was in
charge of recycling them. This was required because there was such a
scarcity of gloves and at the end of the consultations they were
recorded as if they were basic equipment. Diana wonders where it would
be possible to sterilize worn latex gloves. I do not know the answer to

Recently an acquaintance of mine was undergoing a caesarean in the
Gonzalez Coro (formerly Sacred heart) maternity hospital, one of the
most prestigious of its type in the country. Just before the operation,
the anesthesiologist asked her husband for a 10 CUC card to recharge her
mobile phone. I wonder what family would refuse, under the
circumstances, to satisfy the specialist's request, but I don't know a
single one that would dare to denounce such extortion. And I know that
all the specialist are not extortionists, but I don't know of one who
doesn't accept gifts.

We know that their salaries (like those of any State-employed Cuban) are
not sufficient to meet their basic needs, but in this case setting aside
words such as "altruism" and "ethics" when it comes time to classify our
specialists would be less false, because, at the end of the day, they
are, in general, as needy and corrupt as anyone.

Marcia has just injected herself in the veins of a leg. The varicose
veins cause her great pain, not to mention the unesthetic aspect of
those fat blue and red veins running across her skin. What's clear is
that she had to find the injections "outside" because they don't have
them in the hospital, but in the end she was able to deal with her
circulatory problem. Now she needs the shots in the other leg… Only the
clinic where she is supposed to undergo the process was closed. The
attending physician doesn't know if it will reopen, nor where or where.
So, Marcia must begin her peregrination through hospitals and clinics to
find a solution, or simply resign herself to living with the atrophied
veins in her leg while waiting for treatment.

The hidden face of these false "free services" jumps out at us daily in
every clinic. Of course there is no lack of the bovine-minded who
rejoice in the mere fact that, in the best case, there is a medical
graduate behind a desk ready to prescribe some remedy, after a phone
consultation with the nearest pharmacy to verify whether or not they
have the medicine. Although the most common is that ordinary Cubans will
be attended to (if you can call it that) by some foreign student, almost
always a remote and enigmatic Latin American. It is the good fortune of
the beggars when they have no other option.

The anecdotes of Cubans who are forced to be seen at clinics, or even
worse, to be hospitalized and undergo surgery in our much-lauded "free"
service, would fill an infinite collection of pages. I dare say many
more pages than would be required for all the triumphalist articles
published by Granma in the last decade. This explains, perhaps, the
mania of the bloggers to expose the infinite spots on the Revolutionary
sun, whose artificial brilliance has produced a strange blindness in the
official journalists. Hopefully they won't have to be seen in a medical
clinic! Or, better yet, hopefully our clinics will have the same
conditions as theirs!

June 14 2011

Canadian golf resort projects in Cuba not without risks

Canadian golf resort projects in Cuba not without risks
By Steven Edwards, Postmedia News June 25, 2011

NEW YORK — Shunned by Fidel Castro for being too bourgeois, golf could
finally be on course to make a dramatic comeback in Cuba — in large part
thanks to Canadian investors.

But while Canadian developers feature prominently among groups pushing
to build golfing resorts with the island's cash-strapped communist
government, Cuban exiles and some experts are raising new alarm bells
that the ventures are headed for the rough.

At risk are billions of dollars to be spent on developing courses,
hotels and residential facilities targeting, for the most part,
well-heeled golfing enthusiasts.

The exiles say the land picked for the developments could yet be subject
to reclamation should the current regime, now led by Castro's younger
brother, Raul, give way to a democracy.

For their part, the Canadian companies say they're confident they are
not developing on land subject to claims by U.S. companies or Cuban
Americans, and tout their respective projects as offering a new high-end
golfing destination, complete with holiday homes for purchase.

But the exiles raise a host of other potential pitfalls, including
whether the Cuban government is prepared to offer clear title to the
homes, or mere "leases."

"If there is regime change in Cuba and you have invested millions of
dollars in land that has other owners, you are going to have to face
serious questions about the title," said Maria Werlau, a Cuban American
who runs the human rights Free Society Project from New Jersey and, as a
consultant, has written on foreign investment and tourism in Cuba.

"Any serious due diligence on these projects should turn out huge risks
for investors, which is why the multimillion dollar deals are generally
just smoke."

Experts say there is also the question of whether the Cuban government
is sufficiently business-friendly at heart to allow investors to make a
decent return on their cash injections.

After all, the development plans are possible only because of economic
reforms the communist regime has been obliged to consider as it seeks
foreign cash against the backdrop of Washington's continuing economic
embargo and the former Soviet Union's long-dried up subsidies.

On the golfing front, the Cuban government has stated it seeks investor
partners to build as many as 16 courses and resorts — a massive number
for a country where the elder Castro's ideology all but wiped out the
sport. That raises the question as to whether there really has been any
evolution in the regime's mindset.

"That is the old planning style," said Arch Ritter, a Carleton
University economics professor who has written extensively on Cuba.
"Instead of going at it bit by bit, they jump in whole hog and have
major over capacity."

Cuban exiles have long warned that the Cuban regime may pull the plug on
joint ventures should average Cubans threaten social upheaval by balking
at the prospect of luxury apartments being built for foreigners.

"I don't think (pulling the plug) is going to happen because they need
the money, and the old approaches are so discredited that they have
return to a market economy — with the appropriate kowtows to socialist
planning and state control," Ritter said.

"But they talked tough at the communist party congress in April, saying
they wanted to welcome foreign investment, but that they also wanted to
make sure Cuba got a good deal out of it."

Among a handful of declared golfing developers is Vancouver-based
Leisure Canada, which claims that a joint venture deal it's struck with
the Cuban government is the only one the country's Tourism Ministry has
so far approved.

Leisure Canada is planning on investing $1.2 billion to develop a 5.5
square kilometre oceanfront property at Jibacoa, 68 kilometres east of

The company's website describes the property as having "the potential to
host several luxury hotels and two championship golf courses."

In anticipation of the development, which is in addition to a combined
$550 million planned investment in hotel complexes elsewhere in Cuba,
Leisure Canada recently struck a licensing deal with the Professional
Golfers' Association of Britain and Ireland in a bid to provide a rules
structure for the sport in Cuba.

"With no rules and regulations in place in Cuba, we felt strongly that
the direction of the PGA UK would help the Cubans to build the
foundations for a better golf industry," Robin Conners, company
president and chief executive officer, said in an interview while on a
trip to Havana.

He indicated the development will have a "mixture of hotels and
different product" — which could include "cottages, casitas and condos."

But he admitted that the Cuban government has yet to establish the terms
of ownership for the properties that would be sold. This was despite the
fanfare emerging from Cuba surrounding the decision at the April party
congress — the first such meeting in 14 years — that the government
would allow Cubans to buy and sell their homes for the first time since
Fidel Castro seized power in 1959.

"We have not seen the new rules and regulations," he said. "We
understand that they are coming out shortly. It is sort of in progress."

The fact there is a time lag reflects testimony emerging last year from
a Council of the Americas panel discussion on the Cuban investment
climate. Some members said the Cuban government is torn between needing
the cash generated by foreign investment, and wanting to remain loyal to
socialist ideology.

Panel member Anna Szterenfeld, Latin America editor for The Economist
Intelligence Unit, predicted the Cuban government will not likely permit
much expansion of private enterprise — domestic or foreign — within the
next five years because it views foreign direct investment as a threat
to its sovereignty.

Still, Conners maintained that the Cubans are, in fact, considering
instituting for foreigners a "fee simple" arrangement, which would allow
a tourist to wholly own a property and the land it sits upon. Short of
that, developers have long pushed for long-term lease arrangements —
which are currently mainly applied to commercial property, and run for
50 years with an option to tack on another 25. Conners said he believes
the Cubans will at least grant leases.

"We have been led to understand that (50 plus 25 leases) will be
extended … to 99 years," Conners said. "It is the British-Hong Kong
structure where an instituted lease of 99 years is considered to be
whole ownership by a bank, and, of course, that makes financing much

Lease arrangements may be a tough sell in Canada, where consumers are
used to freehold ownership, but Conners insisted that foreign demand
would be strong whatever the terms for non-nationals.

"There are a lot of people who would be interested in doing either a
vacation club-type product or whole ownership, if it were possible," he

Conners stressed his company has done extensive "due diligence" in
verifying that none of the land it is to develop is claimed by U.S.
entities. If it were, his firm could face sanctions under the 1996
Helms-Burton Act, which seeks to penalize companies that transact in
property formerly owned by U.S. citizens, including Cuban exiles who
have adopted U.S. citizenship.

But he suggested it was a moot point anyway — expressing faith in the
future survival of the current regime, which would have to fall before
any returning Cuban exiles could lay land claims.

"We go to great lengths to make sure we don't (get) contested assets,"
Conners said.

"By the same token, the regime here is pretty stable. The government is
very popular with the people," he added.

There can be no accurate gauge of the supposed "popularity" of the Cuban
regime since it does not hold free elections. Human rights groups,
meanwhile, charge the regime has a poor human rights record.

A Canadian Aboriginal business consortium called Standing Feather
International rivals Leisure Canada in its ambition to re-adorn Cuba
with golf courses.

The Ottawa-based company has pushed to build an entire golf "community"
complete with 1,200 villas, bungalows, duplexes and apartments on 2.1
square kilometres bordering Cuba's northern coast in the eastern
province of Holguin. The residences of the so-called Loma Linda Golf
Estates will sell for an average of $600,000 per unit — representing
wealth that contrasts sharply with the average income of the local
population of just $20 a month.

"I think (the Cubans) recognized that just to put a stand-alone golf
course was maybe not the best direction to go," said Graham Cooke, a
Montreal-based globetrotting golf course architect engaged by Standing
Feather to design the $410 million project. "To support golf and to make
it feasible, a housing development or residential component (for) a
tourist destination is important."

But this project too has been years in the making, with final agreements
yet to be signed.

"You have to really work in Cuba," Cooke said. "You need full
cooperation with the government; you have to be partners with them, and
that takes time. And because this was a major change for them, they
wanted to make sure that everything was set with regard to the different
ways a private enterprise would be looked at, with ownership."

Operating profits are believed to be set for a 50-50 split following a
standard deal in which Cuba contributes "in kind" the land, while the
"developer develops the package," Cooke said.

On its website, Standing Feather says the Cuban government "has approved
in principle" the sale of real estate to foreign nationals.

"Standing Feather International is in the final stage of negotiation
with our Cuban partners, and the imminent formation of the … joint
venture will allow the earliest possible access to the opportunity of
real estate in Cuba," the website entry says.

Two British entities are among other proposed multi-million dollar
golfing developments on the island.

Cuba once had a dozen golf courses, but Castro closed almost all of them
after he came to power. Canadian architect Les Furber designed the only
current 18-hole course, which opened in 1999, and is built on the
grounds of the former Dupont family property in the resort town of
Varadero, 140 kilometres east of Havana.

Cuba's only other current golfing opportunity is at a nine hole course
in Havana used mostly by diplomats and foreign business officials. Soon
after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Fidel Castro and the
revolutionary Che Guevara played what has become a famous round there in
a supposed snub to the United States. By 1980, the Cuban government had
nationalized it.

Cuba's oil, our potential mess

Posted on Saturday, 06.25.11
Offshore drilling

Cuba's oil, our potential mess

As Cuba prepares to explore an undersea energy trove, the U.S. frets
about the possibility of a BP-like spill that this country might be
powerless to stanch.
By Cammy Clark

KEY WEST -- In about five months, Spanish oil giant Repsol is scheduled
to begin a risky offshore exploration in Cuba's North Basin, about 60 to
70 miles from Key West and even closer to ecologically fragile waters of
the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

From a $750 million semi-submersible rig arriving from Singapore,
Repsol will drill through 5,600 feet of seawater with strong currents
and another 14,000 or so feet of layered rock at high pressure.

It's just the start of Cuba's big push to find and produce what
geologists believe is an undiscovered energy treasure trove of oil and
natural gas reservoirs. The prospects are so promising that seven
international consortiums involving 10 countries have partnered with the
communist nation.

In the Florida Keys and up the East Coast, the prospect of potential oil
spills so close to precious coral reefs, fisheries and coastal
communities is frightening. Federal, state and local agencies have been
scrambling to update contingency response plans using the many lessons
learned from last year's economically and environmentally devastating BP
Deepwater Horizon blowout, which took 85 days to contain.

"Deepwater Horizon was 450 miles away and we saw the impact for the
Keys," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Pat DeQuattro, commander of Sector
Key West. "This is much, much closer and Cuba is a sovereign nation."

Cuba also is a nation that the United States has embargoed for nearly 50
years, with bitter relations dating to the Kennedy Administration.

As it stands now, a lot of U.S. containment equipment, technology,
chemical dispersants and personnel expertise would not be allowed to
respond to a spill where it likely would be needed most — "at the
faucet," said oil industry expert Jorge R. Pinon, a visiting research
fellow at the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.

Politics also would prevent relief wells in Cuban waters from being
built by U.S. companies or with U.S. resources.

"The clock is ticking for the U.S. to rethink its policy," said Dan
Whittle, Cuban program director for the nonprofit Environmental Defense
Fund. "Hoping [Cuban oil exploration] goes away is not good policy."

Even the final report issued in January from the National Commission on
the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling recommended
U.S. cooperation with Cuba's oil industry to protect "fisheries, coastal
tourism and other valuable U.S. natural resources" that could be put at
great risk.

The report said it is in our country's national interest to negotiate
with Cuba on common, rigorous safety standards and regulatory oversight.
The countries also should develop a protocol to cooperate on containment
and response strategies and preparedness in case of a spill.

But direct discussions have not happened, due primarily to a powerful
voting bloc of pro-embargo Cuban-Americans. Among them is U.S. Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who represents the Florida Keys and
Miami-Dade County and is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"You can't trust that evil, awful Castro regime," Ros-Lehtinen said in a
recent phone interview. "It would be dangerously naïve."

Ros-Lehtinen has spearheaded efforts to stop oil drilling in Cuban waters.

Last month, she introduced the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act, the
third version of legislation she also tried to get passed in previous
Congresses. It would impose penalties against companies that spend $1
million or more developing Cuba's offshore petroleum resources and deny
U.S. visas to their foreign principals.

"I know it will be hard to pass; I have no delusions of success," she
said. "But it's important to take a stand. … We cannot allow the Castro
regime to become the oil tycoons of the Caribbean."

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, also is pushing legislation that
would deny U.S. oil and gas permits to companies that do business with
Cuba. But of the 10 companies that have agreements with Cuba to drill
offshore, only private company Repsol also has leases in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson , the Florida Democrat, has been fighting to stop
Cuban oil exploration for years.

But all the American efforts to stop drilling in Cuban waters have been
unsuccessful. The best the United States has been able to do is push for
safety. Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met with Repsol
officials in Madrid. He reportedly used leases in U.S. waters as
leverage to obtain assurances the company would follow the same American
safety standards in Cuba. Repsol also has been in contact with the U.S.
Coast Guard regarding how it would deal with a potential spill.

Repsol and the other international companies involved have ample reason
to believe drilling in Cuban waters will be highly profitable. In 2004,
the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that underneath Cuba's North Basin
lie 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural
gas — roughly the same amount as Ecuador's and Colombia's reserves.


Cuban geologists also estimate there is another 10 to 15 billion barrels
of undiscovered oil in their deeper territorial waters in the middle of
the Gulf. However, the amount of recoverable oil and gas is always much
less than what's available.

On June 5, Cuban President Raul Castro watched as Cuba's national oil
company, Cupet, signed an expanded oil agreement in Havana with China's
state-owned oil company. Cupet also has agreements with state-owned
companies from Norway, Russia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Angola
and Venezuela.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. William D. Baumgartner, commander for the
southeastern United States, said much effort has gone into planning for
a possible spill. But he added: "The diplomatic situation will make our
job more difficult in planning and execution."

Some companies already have special licenses issued by the U.S. Treasury
Department and U.S. Commerce Department to send staffing and other
resources to Cuba in the event of an oil spill. "We've been talking with
them to see what their capabilities are," Baumgartner said.

And if those companies did respond to a spill, Baumgartner said the
Coast Guard would be "well aware of what they are doing inside Cuban
waters and complement what they are doing."

Clean Caribbean Cooperative of Fort Lauderdale was issued both special
licenses in 2003, the last time exploration wells were imminent in Cuban
waters. The 33-year-old nonprofit cooperative of 42 oil companies was a
major player in the Deepwater Horizon cleanup and has a stockpile of
about $10 million to $12 million worth of air mobile equipment, a cadre
of oil spill response supervisors and a network of contractors,
according to cooperative president Paul Schuler.

Pinon, a former oil company executive, said it is imperative that Cuba
be allowed to participate in the "MexUS" joint contingency plan
regarding oil spill response between the United States and Mexico. It
was put together following the Ixtoc spill in 1979 that lasted for
months and tarred Texas and Mexican coastlines.


"The U.S. has worked efficiently with Cuba on hurricane tracking,
narcotics and immigration issues," Whittle of the Environmental Defense
Fund said. "No one is talking about allowing Houston oil companies to
develop oil and gas in Cuba, although an argument could be made for
that. But it's not on anyone's mind at this moment."

Brian Petty, senior vice president of government affairs for the
U.S.-based International Association of Drilling Contractors, argues
that cooperation is crucial because: "It's just one Gulf. Everybody
should be on the same page."

The Bahamas Petroleum Company announced plans earlier this year to begin
exploratory drilling in 2012 in an area just north of the Cuban/Bahamas
maritime boundary.

It's also an area where a spill could threaten the Florida Keys and
other locations up the East Coast.

But the immediate threat comes from Cuba. After several delays, which
included fixing a major leak, the semi-submersible rig called SS
Scarabeo 9 is scheduled to leave Singapore for Cuba this month.

It will take between three and seven years before any commercial oil can
be produced.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration is in the process of
updating computer tracking models of a spill coming from Cuban waters
that were done in 2004 by another agency.

"Even with what the models tell you, you still want to be prepared for
any possibility," said Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary.

Several factors play a part in where oil could go, including the moving
Gulf Stream, two major eddies in the Keys, winds and storms — including

"We've had markers and mooring buoys break lose in Keys waters and they
have ended up as far north as Scotland and also in Alabama," Morton said.