Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Behind the New Changes / Laritza Diversent

Behind the New Changes / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Regina Anavy

The new housing regulations in force struck down part of the laws that
prevented Cuban emigrants from disposing of their homes before leaving
the country permanently. But it left in force Law 989 of December 5,
1961, which requires permission to enter and exit, and the confiscation
of property for this reason.

Before the recent measures were approved, it was rumored that this law
would be removed from the Cuban legal system. However, only the rule
that supplemented it was repealed; its application was still permitted.

The National Housing Institute, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry
of the Interior, through Joint Resolution No. 1/2011, repealed the
resolution issued August 22, 1995, which made effective the
implementation of Law 989/1961, and which was intended to prevent
someone from avoiding confiscation and disposal of property before
leaving the country.

Why would they leave in effect a law that has lost all meaning? With the
new changes the State could confiscate a home if the owners have not
disposed of it before emigrating. Nor does it make sense to keep the
law, because it imposes on Cubans the need to get permission to enter
and exit. The current Immigration Act and its regulations impose and
regulate the manner of obtaining such permits.

Nevertheless, rumors continue to spread about the approval of a new
immigration law by the end of this year. If that happens, perhaps Law
989/1961 will be expressly repealed. It's rumored that they might extend
the length of stay abroad for two years. Right now Cuban residence is
lost after one is absent from the country for 11 months and a day.

The more enthusiastic say that where there's smoke there's fire, a
popular saying among the islanders. Personally I am not so optimistic.
It's hard for me to believe that the government would give up its
control over emigration so easily.

On one thing there is no doubt: Law 989/1961 will pass into disuse.
Perhaps it will be repealed tacitly. However, in the Cuban legal system,
a law that is not expressly repealed remains in effect. A law that
governs by tradition.

The problem is a possible backlash. In 1993, the State, with the coming
of the Special Period, allowed the rise of self-employment. In 1997 they
began restricting licenses for self-employment, which were eliminated in
October 2010 with the new regulations for this sector. Uncertainty
refuses to abandon us.

There is also no doubt that the changes that have occurred and those
that are rumored to come are good and hoped for by the Cubans. The
problem is that their adoption and permanence depend solely on the will
of the political class, which is entering into a period of general
elections in 2012.

Perhaps it's nothing more than that, a strategy to increase the level of
acceptance of the Communist Party of Cuba among the population. It's not
by chance that it's happening in the second half of the first term of
the head of state and government, and the First Secretary of the only
recognized political organization governing the country, Raul Castro
Ruz. Maybe it's a simple coincidence, but I don't think so.

Translated by Regina Anavy

November 29 2011

Cynicism Without Ambiguity / Luis Felipe Rojas

Cynicism Without Ambiguity / Luis Felipe Rojas
Luis Felipe Rojas, Translator: Raul G.

Just a few days ago, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations asked
the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, to join the
demands of protestors around the world who demand freedom for 5 Cuban
intelligence officials who all reside in US prisons. The diplomat
Rodolfo Reyes has pleaded this in the same exact spot where, just a few
years ago, Cuba denied the entrance of Manfred Novak, the international
torture inspector and whose position is similar to the one Mrs. Pillay
now holds, into the country. Both the denial of letting Novak into Cuba
and the petition issued to Pillay can be taken as acts of provocation.

Why did they deny Mr. Novak the right to enter Cuba's prisons of
Guantanamo province, where methods of torture known as "the rocking
chair" and "Shakira" are employed in order to break down both political
and common prisoners? Why does the Cuban government carry out what it
considers to be a just demand, pleading to Mrs. Pillay to tend to the
case of the well-known agents and not for others like Ana Belen Montes
who did testify about their acts of espionage and even worked with the
North American justice system?

A few days have passed since here in Holguin they celebrated the
so-called International Colloquium for the Five, a political event in
support of the Cuban intelligence officials who were caught in US
territory. Streamers, signs, marches, concerts and parties were how they
tried to entertain (us hyper-disconnected Cubans, natives of the Eastern
provinces) to protest for the freedom of the constantly promoted Cuban
agents. After all the planned festivities, the delegates who
participated stuffed themselves with hope and solidarity as they marched
off to their "indignant" worlds, leaving the rest of us here alone,
among the ashes of this poverty.

Translated by Raul G.

29 November 2011

Mariela and the Red Light District: Bad Girl’s Romance / Ernesto Morales Licea

Mariela and the Red Light District: Bad Girl's Romance / Ernesto Morales
Ernesto Morales Licea, Translator: Unstated

I wonder if Cuban television will air at least a small morsel of the
delicious interview Mariela Castro Espin offered to the cameras of Radio
Netherlands Worldwide during her recent visit to the Red Light District
in Amsterdam.

The material is priceless. It's a real gem, a supreme example of the
cynicism that this lady, guarantor of certain sexualities in her
country, is capable of.

Mariela visited the famous Red Light District of the Dutch capital,
surely the most well known area of sexual tolerance in the world, where
buying a marijuana joint is as legal as paying one of the desirable
girls who prostitute themselves from tinted glass windows. Her face,
during the report that showed her looking at those erotic windows, was a
love poem: Mariela had been smitten by the feeling of the Red Light

According to the report, Raul Castro's daughter attended an
international conference in the country of extreme freedoms and was
"gaining experiences" in the subject that she works in, as president of
the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). As she has demonstrated
on more than a few occasions: it is the only topic in her country that
she cares about.

I, like Mariela, respect and admire (the two terms she used during the
interview) the way in which the Netherlands administers the exercise of
the world's oldest profession, offering solutions instead of
connections, and allowing that prostitution that is exercised without
legal guarantees, hygiene or social respect, is undertaken with the most
natural transparency and State protection. Especially because in Holland
not only prostitutes, marijuana lovers or homosexuals have their rights
engraved in stone.

Others may not like it: but I, a firm defender of individual decisions,
am not bothered if someone who wants to earn money with their body — if
and only if it is a decision made by an adult — can do so legally.

Where the statements of the Dauphine Castro Espin leave me stunned, is
when she extrapolates the subject of prostitution to our tropical
Island, the same land that taught me — like millions of other Cubans —
that one of the terrible republican evils that the Savior-Revolution
eradicated in 1959 was commerce in the flesh.

Mariela not only affirmed that it is exercised on the iconic Havana
Malecon, but now and again she talks with the surrounding police, giving
them to understand that they should be more understanding, that it is
not bad to go hand-in-hand with the highest bidder — foreign nationals
as a general rule — and that they should only take measures against
those men and women who, according to her exact words, exercise
prostitution in a "bothersome" way.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to ask one of the thousands of Cuban
"jineteras" who have spent years in prison for selling their bodies in
exchange for food, clothes or a European passport, if they ever had a
notion about how to do it without seeming "bothersome," and in
consequence receiving the public or covert protection of the head of

But the icing on the cake appears this time as well. In a dialog with a,
perhaps, Dutch prostitute, Mariela laughs, showing off her carefully
tended teeth, looks at the camera wearing her chic beret, and comments
with the gesture of a mischievous child: "In Cuba I have known people
who say 'I need to repair the bathroom and I don't have any money,' and
then they give the bricklayer sexual services to finish the bathroom."
At the end of the anecdote, the Dutch host, the interpreter, and the
fairy godmother of transsexualism and modern Cuban genitals, are roaring
with laughter.

Yes, it is definitely a gem worth keeping. Few materials will serve as
well as this in the future to exemplify the unscrupulous levels of those
who carried certain trappings of power, who not only enjoyed privileges
forbidden to ordinary Cubans — travel halfway around the world, free
interviews with foreign media, first-world lifestyles — but who had the
strange faculty of taking tragic, grotesque, morbid events, like a woman
who pays for the services of a plumber with her sexual services because
of the precariousness of the economy, and making a nice joke about them
and having a good laugh in the far off Netherlands.

I want to think that Cuban women, at least those living on the Island,
will not find out what another woman like themselves says behind their
backs, but with the safe-conduct of two semi-divine last names from the
island's Mt. Olympus.

I believe that those who, effectively, not only have entertained an
unknown bricklayer in their bed, but a baker, repairer of fans, or a
prehistoric old Spaniard with a predilection for native girls, will not
feel the double humiliations of having their cases taken into Mariela
Castro Espin's aristocratic mouth in order to amuse Dutch prostitutes.
Let's be clear: Dutch prostitutes whose earnings are identical to those
of an upper middle class worker, who possess freedoms and constitutional
guarantees, who are not extorted either by pimps or by Revolutionary
police, and who never sell their attributes in exchange for fixing a
leak in the sink.

Worst of all is that maybe I'm wrong: there could be an upcoming episode
of the Roundtable TV show where the Princess Castro reveals her
experiences in Amsterdam, and where, perhaps, she may repeat point by
point the statement she offered to Radio Netherlands Worldwide. In Cuba
there are stomachs for everything.

It's worth remembering that years before Mariela's romance with the Red
Light District, her uncle openly admitted that yes, Cuba effectively has
prostitutes, but that they were, undoubtedly, the most educated
prostitutes in the world.*

(Originally published in Martí Noticias)

*Translator's note: Fidel Castro is claimed to have said that Cuba has
"the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world." Whether he
actually did say it is a matter of debate.

2 November 2011

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez ranked among top ‘Global Thinkers’

Posted on Tuesday, 11.29.11

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez ranked among top 'Global Thinkers'

After being honored by Foreign Policy magazine, Yoani Sánchez tweeted
that she's just "thinking of how to make the race last until the end of
the month."
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has been named by the Washington-based
Foreign Policy magazine as one of its "Top 100 Global Thinkers" for her
posts on life on the island, "from Raúl Castro's latest pronouncements
to the taste of mangoes."

With her usual sharp wit, Sánchez sent a tweet Tuesday saying,
"Beautiful paradoxes of life. My name on FP list of 100 thinkers, and
now I am 'thinking' of how to make the rice last until the end of the

In another tweet moments later, she noted that a government-sponsored
seminar on "Alternative Media and Social Networks" had just started in
Havana. "No alternative blogger has been invited. :-) ."

Sánchez ranked No. 81 on the list, described as "a unique portrait of
2011's global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them,"
published in the December issue of Foreign Policy, part of the
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC, in Washington.

Also on the list were 14 figures of the "Arab Spring," President Barack
Obama, Chinese artist Ai WeiWei and Bill and Melinda Gates. The only
other Latin Americans on the list were Brazil President Dilma Rousseff
and Venezuelan newspaper editor Teodoro Petkoff.

The 36-year-old philologist has won a string of mayor international
prizes since she launched her blog, Generación Y, in 2007.

"Sánchez's rise owes at least as much to her literary gifts as to the
power of Web 2.0.," Foreign Policy noted. "Approaching her country's
ills with both hopefulness and a gimlet eye, where most Cuba
commentators are didactic and ideologically entrenched, her posts — on
everything from Raúl Castro's latest pronouncements to the taste of
mangoes -- have over the years painted an unusually vivid portrait of a
society in limbo."

Her blog "stands as a rebuke to a government that still sharply limits
its citizens' access to the Internet," the report noted, adding a quote
from one of her posts in February: "We have taken back what belongs to
us … These virtual places are ours, and they will have to learn to live
with what they can no longer deny."

The Foreign Policy report gave its top 14 spots to pro-democracy
activists in the Arab world, from Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who
helped launch the revolt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to
Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman of Yemen.

Foreign Policy also named Sánchez as one of the "10 Most Influential
Latin American Intellectuals" of 2008, the same year that Time magazine
put her on its list of "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Pilgrimage to see pope in Cuba considered

Posted on Wednesday, 11.30.11

Pilgrimage to see pope in Cuba considered
By Daniel Shoer Roth

The Archdiocese of Miami is considering organizing a pilgrimage to Cuba
that would allow members of South Florida's Cuban-American community to
participate in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI scheduled for next spring.

"As the Cuban bishops have said, Cubans continue to be one single people
wherever they may be," Archbishop Thomas Wenski said. "If the Holy
Father is going to be welcomed in Cuba, the Cuban people on this side of
the Florida Straits will be participating in one way or another."

The Vatican announced three weeks ago that the pope planned to visit the
island to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image
of the Lady of Charity of El Cobre in the waters of Nipe Bay. The
Vatican is expected to confirm the date of the trip, which will include
Mexico, on Dec. 12, the Day of the Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of

The archdiocese will not decide on staging a pilgrimage until the pope's
visit is confirmed, said Wenski, who has promoted links between
Florida's Catholic Church and its Cuban counterpart.

Russia to help Cuba with production of rifle ammunition

Russia to help Cuba with production of rifle ammunition
06:34 30/11/2011
MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti)

Russia and Cuba are planning to sign a contract on building an assembly
line for production of ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles,
Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday.

According to a source in the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade,
cited by Kommersant, an assembly line for 7.62-mm rounds used in
Kalashnikov assault rifles and other Russian-made rifles will be built
at Cuba's Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara military plant.

The source said that Russia's arms exporter Rosoboronexport had already
prepared a contract, which includes the license and technology transfer.

The official did not specify the value of the contract but said Russia
was hoping to receive a contract in the future on a complete overhaul of
rifle ammunition production facilities in Cuba, which were built in
1970s-1980s with the help of Soviet specialists.

A Rosoboronexport source has confirmed the planned contract with Cuba
but refused to provide more details on the subject, Kommersant said.

Although the Cuban leadership has repeatedly said it has no intention of
resuming military cooperation with Russia after the surprise closure of
the Russian electronic listening post in Lourdes in 2001, bilateral
military ties seem to have been improving since 2008.

Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said during his
visit to Cuba in 2009 that modernization of the Soviet-made military
equipment and training of Cuban military personnel will be the focus of
Russian-Cuban military cooperation in the future.

Cleric hopes to meet with jailed US man in Cuba

Posted on Tuesday, 11.29.11

Cleric hopes to meet with jailed US man in Cuba
Associated Press

HAVANA -- A delegation of U.S. religious leaders visiting Cuba has asked
for access to an American man imprisoned for bringing restricted
communications equipment to the island, a leading clerical official said

The 15-member delegation is still awaiting word on whether they will be
allowed to visit Maryland man Alan Gross, said Michael Kinnamon, general
secretary of the New York-based National Council of Churches, an
umbrella group of U.S. Protestant and Orthodox Christian denominations.

"We're concerned about Mr. Gross and we hope to be able to meet with
him" before the group leaves Friday, Kinnamon said.

Saturday will mark two years since Gross, 62, was arrested in Cuba while
working as a subcontractor on a democracy-building project financed by
the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Earlier this year he was convicted of crimes against the state and
sentenced to 15 years in prison. The government of President Raul Castro
says such projects violate Cuba's national sovereignty and are attempts
at regime change.

Gross, who has said he was setting up Internet for Cuba's small Jewish
community, denies any intention to harm the country and called himself a
"trusting fool" who was "duped," according to court testimony released
by his lawyer.

On Monday his wife, Judy, said Gross had sought reassurance that what he
was doing was legal, but was told by his company not to ask Cuban officials.

Several visiting American dignitaries have been allowed to visit Gross
this year, including former President Jimmy Carter, a delegation of U.S.
women leaders and a Washington-area rabbi. Judy Gross also visited her
husband earlier this month for the third time since his arrest.

She said Gross has lost more than 100 pounds (45 kilos) in custody,
while arthritis now makes it difficult for him to walk.

Speculation that he might be freed on humanitarian grounds has not
turned into anything concrete, and talk of a possible swap for five
Cuban intelligence agents in the United States has so far been just that.

In September, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson visited Cuba and
told reporters he had been invited to negotiate Gross' release. But
Richardson's efforts collapsed into an exchange of recriminations, with
him calling Gross a "hostage" and Cuban officials accusing him of trying
to blackmail them.

Kinnamon said Tuesday that his group would be very welcoming of a
humanitarian release. As have other Cuban and U.S. officials, he
downplayed the likelihood of a prisoner exchange involving the so-called
Cuban Five, who were convicted of espionage but maintain they were only
monitoring virulently anti-Castro exile groups in Florida.

"We don't see these as situations that we want to link with one
another," Kinnamon said. "That is, the Cuban Five is a major issue in
itself. ... We also are very concerned about that."

The Council has called on the U.S. government to review the men's
lengthy prison sentences, he added.

Kinnamon's delegation also was waiting to hear whether it would be
granted time with President Castro. They did meet with parliament chief
Ricardo Alarcon, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and U.S. medical
students on the island.

About 120 Americans are on scholarship at Cuba's Latin American School
of Medical Sciences, which is currently educating some 11,000 low-income
students from 93 nations.

Kinnamon said his organization has opposed the U.S. economic embargo
against Cuba for many years and called for a thaw in relations between
the Cold War foes, which have been even icier after Gross' arrest.

"We want to call attention to the importance of normal relations between
our countries," Kinnamon said, "and we think high-level church leaders
will be one good way to do that."

Kinnamon, who gave a Thanksgiving Day sermon in Matanzas province last
week, recently announced that he would step down as general secretary of
the National Council of Churches but remains in the post during a
transition period.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wife Of US Man Imprisoned In Cuba Wants Obama's Help

Wife Of US Man Imprisoned In Cuba Wants Obama's Help
Published November 29, 2011
Fox News Latino

The wife of U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a lengthy
prison sentence in Cuba on subversion charges, asked Monday for
President Barack Obama's intercession in the case.

"I spoke with Alan two days ago. Never have I heard him more hopeless
and depressed," Judy Gross said during a protest outside the Cuban
Interests Section in Washington.

Accompanied by a score of supporters from the Jewish Community Relations
Council of Greater Washington, she called on Americans to write letters
to newspapers and politicians, including President Obama, urging action
on behalf of her husband.

Gross, now 62, was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of
satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute
among Cuba's Jewish community.

The Cuban government said he was illegally aiding dissidents and
inciting subversion on the Communist-ruled island. In August, Cuba's
highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross in March.

Judy Gross asked for increased pressure on Congress and Obama to obtain
the release of her husband on humanitarian grounds, on the eve of the
second anniversary of his arrest and imprisonment.

"Please join us in the effort to keep Alan's case top-of-mind with
policymakers," she said Monday. "Tell everyone you know about Alan."

A Washington-area rabbi who visited Alan Gross in Havana said earlier
this month that the Maryland native wants to be swapped for five Cuban
spies held in the United States.

Gross expressed "anger and frustration" about his situation, Rabbi David
Shneyer said in a message to his congregation in Bethesda, Maryland. He
said he spent nearly two hours with Gross.

"Having learned about the recent swap of (Israeli soldier) Gilad Shalit
for more than 1,000 imprisoned Palestinians, (Gross) felt that the U.S.
and Cuba could do the same for him and the 'Cuban Five,'" Shneyer said.

The five - Gerardo Hernández, René Gonázlez, Ramón Labañino, Antonio
Guerrero and Fernando González - were arrested in 1998 and convicted
three years later by a federal jury in Miami.

Though one of the group, Rene Gonzalez, completed his custodial sentence
in October and was released, he has not been permitted to go home, as
the federal courts say he must serve his three-year probation on U.S. soil.

Press accounts said Havana rejected a U.S. proposal to allow René
González to return to Cuba now in exchange for Gross' freedom,
countering with a demand for the release of the four spies who remain in

While acknowledging that the five are intelligence agents, Havana
insists they were spying on Miami's Cuban exile community, not the U.S.

Cuba said the men were sent to Florida in the wake of several terror
bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by anti-Castro militant Luis
Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative.

Saturday will mark two years since Alan Gross, 62, was arrested in
Cuba.Judy Gross said that in the past year she twice thought her husband
might be able to return to the United States, but both times she was

"The Cubans will say one thing one day and change their minds the next,"
said Gross, who had to sell the couple's home and now lives in Washington.

Gross has rarely talked about her husband's situation, giving interviews
only infrequently and waiting for her husband's case to work its way
through the Cuban legal process. She hired a prominent Washington
litigator who advised her against saying much because of the sensitivity
of the case and also because it was working through the Cuban courts.
But she acknowledged Monday that staying silent "didn't work."

Gross said in an interview that her husband asked the company he was
working for to contact the Cuban government to clear his work setting up
internet for the island's small Jewish community. But the company,
Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc., refused to contact Cuban
officials and refused to let him contact anyone either, she said. He was
told separately not to worry about the project by a co-worker, she said.

I spoke with Alan two days ago. Never have I heard him more
hopeless and depressed.

- Judy Gross

A spokesman for DAI, Steven O'Connor, said in a statement that Gross
"designed, proposed, and implemented this work" for the company, which
had a government contract for a democracy-building project on the
Communist island. Gross was a subcontractor for the company, which had a
contract financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The
company wants to correct some of the misconceptions surrounding his
work, O'Connor wrote, but "now is not the time."

Judy Gross said her husband believes he was duped by the company, a
characterization O'Connor disputed. Gross called himself a "trusting
fool" in Cuban court testimony released by his lawyer and said, "I was
duped. I was used."

In September, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson visited Cuba and
told reporters he had been invited to negotiate Gross' release. But
Richardson's efforts imploded after he called Gross a hostage in one
interview. Cuban officials accused him of trying to blackmail them, and
he returned empty handed.

Gross said she "had a lot of hopes dashed" when Richardson was
unsuccessful and that he had been very confident before going down.

"I don't fault anyone or anybody on that because I don't really know
what happened," she said.

U.S. officials also reportedly tried to negotiate Gross' release by
offering to let a convicted Cuban spy return home, but Cuba rebuffed the

Gross said both she and her husband are now less hopeful about his
release anytime soon. And she said she is worried that if President
Barack Obama isn't re-elected, a Republican president may be less
willing to work with Cuba to secure his release. She urged Obama to make
a statement about the case, which arose just as the Obama administration
was making tentative movements to ease decades of U.S. tensions with Cuba.

For now, Alan Gross is generally allowed to call his wife once a week,
on Fridays. Judy Gross said she last spoke to him days ago and he
sounded "more hopeless and more depressed" than before. He has lost more
than 100 pounds while in Havana's maximum-security Villa Marista prison
but is now gaining weight, she said, adding arthritis now makes it
difficult for him to walk.

She was allowed to visit him in Cuba earlier this month, her third visit
since his arrest. She said she brought chocolate chip cookies, pictures
of his family, and issues of his favorite magazine, The Economist.

Based on reporting by EFE and the Associated Press.

Avoiding noisey Cuban athletes is key to Games success

Avoiding noisey Cuban athletes is key to Games success
Matthew Beard, Olympics Editor Matthew Beard, Olympics Editor
29 Nov 2011

A secret plan to ensure harmony at the 205-nation Olympic village is
under way as Games chiefs allocate rooms.

Among the main concerns for nations will be avoiding being billeted next
to Cuba. Some of their noisy athletes have given them a bad reputation.

Enjoying home advantage, the 550 British athletes can expect to be
situated next to the Scandinavians who are known for being considerate
and have lived next to GB in previous games.

Team GB are likely to be in rooms opposite Australia because it is
thought this will hone competitive instincts.

But some rival nations are to be kept as far apart as possible. These
include Israel and Palestine and South Korea and North Korea.

Internet and TV access will likely be pulled for the North Korean team
as team bosses keep them away from Western "propaganda", and organisers
are braced for the unexpected. In 2006 North Korea arrived at the Torino
winter Olympics without skates, and had to be taken shopping for
essential kit on the eve of competition.

"The North Koreans are outsiders even in Olympic terms," said a source.
"They speak no English and they spend their time in their rooms smoking.
It's not much fun."

The communal ethos of village life means that all athletes are meant to
be treated the same and will be allocated a room, including the big stars.
But Swiss tennis great Roger Federer is expected to prefer the anonymity
of a five-star hotel to Stratford. The same goes for the
multi-millionaires of NBA American basketball who will prefer hotels
even though Games chiefs have given them extra-large beds.

"Roger will come in and have dinner in the village but he is unlikely to
stay overnight because the reality is he will be asked for many
autographs. A lot of the athletes idolise him. His first priority is to
remain focused on winning the Olympics," said a source.

Being Fashionable In Cuba

Being Fashionable In Cuba
November 28, 2011
Rosa Martinez

HAVANA TIMES, Nov 29 — Being adequately dressed in Cuba is as difficult
as maintaining a balanced diet, getting from one city to another or
having a comfortable house.

Dressing passably has become one of those everyday problems that workers
on a median salary can barely resolve, unless we have help from a family
member living outside the country, works on an international mission or
obtains hard currency at work, as in the tourist sector.

And I'm not talking about elegant clothing, which very few of us can
dream about having, or clothing in the latest styles. I refer
exclusively to the attire that we need to go to our places of work or
study. In this particular case I am referring to what a child needs to
attend the daycare center every day.

Previously the daycare centers offered uniforms for all the children,
especially important for those who, being very young, didn't yet make
their toileting needs known. This was a huge help for low income
parents who now have to make great sacrifices to make sure that their
ones go to daycare well dressed.

The clothing that the children use in their daycare centers has to be in
accordance with the season of the year, be it the short winter or the
eternal Cuban summer, and should be easy for young children to
manipulate, to make it easy for them to learn at an early age to toilet
and dress themselves.

Now, in addition to fulfilling all of those requirements, I have a new
one: the whims of my daughter who doesn't want to wear dresses any more.
I've tried to convince her in every possible way.

I've told her that girls look prettier and more feminine in dresses and
jumpers, and I've also told her that when she puts on her simple little
dresses she looks like a little princess. In addition, I explained that
for Mama it's easier to buy or make her dresses.

But I can't manage to convince her: she says that no one wears dresses,
that her friends say that she looks like an old woman, that she wants to
wear short shorts like the ones her friend Melisa uses.

So what can you do? Being in fashion is a challenge and my little girl
of three is already worried about it.

Gobierno cubano contratará a empresas privadas en el 2012

Gobierno cubano contratará a empresas privadas en el 2012

El sector privado podría ser contratado para los servicios de
alimentación, limpieza, construcción, transporte y otras áreas 29 de noviembre de 2011

El Gobierno cubano comenzará el próximo año 2012 la contratación de
algunos servicios al sector privado en areas que hasta el presente eran
de dominio del Estado, informa desde La Habana la agencia de prensa
Reuteres, citando fuentes locales.

El sector privado podría ser contratado para los servicios de
alimentación, limpieza, construcción, transporte y otras áreas, como
parte de las llamadas 300 reformas impulsadas por el gobierno de Raúl
Castro para reanimar la economía cubana.

A partir del venidero 20 de Diciembre, las pequeñas empresas privadas
podrán pedir préstamos a los bancos como hacen al momento los
agricultores, concluye REUTERS.

Chinese carmaker Geely sells 1,560 vehicles to Cuban government

Chinese carmaker Geely sells 1,560 vehicles to Cuban government
Publish date: Nov 29, 2011

Geely, one of China's largest privately owned carmakers, exported 1,560
cars to Cuba on October 22, 2011. The exports represented the Chinese
automaker's second procurement contract signed with the Cuban government
since 2009, according to a spokesperson for Geely. The Cuban government
inked an agreement with Geely for the purchase of 1,500 Geely cars in
March 2009.

The 1,560 cars included 1,310 Geely Free Cruisers, 150 Emgrand EC718s
and 100 Emgrand EC820s, all of which will be used by Cuban government
departments including tourism and defense. Geely Emgrand EC718 and EC820
are two of Geely's models that are widely available in China's domestic
market. The exports play a significant role in encouraging Chinese
carmakers to further tap the Cuban market and demonstrate that the
quality of made-in-China cars is increasingly recognized in the country.

Establishing a strong footprint in Latin America is an important
strategic change for Geely following the global financial crisis, when
Chinese carmakers faced a very tough market environment in Middle
Eastern and African markets. Geely sees Cuba and Chile as their key
springboards to the Latin American market.

Geely executive director Hong Shaolun said that Russia, Ukraine, Turkey,
Iraq and Chile are Geely's five main export destinations. The strong
exports to Latin America also have laid a solid foundation for Geely to
meet its ambitious export goal by 2015. Previously, Geely announced that
the company intends to reach a production capacity of 2 million units by
2015 and exports will account for 50 per cent of the total capacity.

Geely recorded car exports of more than 100,000 units between 2007 and
2010, making it one of the leading car exporters in China. The company
has established over 400 sales and service outlets in more than 50
countries and regions worldwide, including a dozen 4S dealerships.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cuba among the Most Aged Populations in the World by 2050

Cuba among the Most Aged Populations in the World by 2050
Monday, 28 November 2011 06:08

[Cuba among the Most Aged Populations in the World by 2050.] Havana,
Cuba, Nov 28.- The demographic prediction of the United Nations will
place Cuba among the most aged populations in the world by 2050, when
39.2 percent of its inhabitants will be 60 years old or more, according
to the latest estimates.

At that moment, the average age of Cubans will be 52, the fourth nation
on the planet with that indicator, surpassed in descending order by
Bosnia Herzegovina, Japan and Portugal, adds the report of the UN
Population Division.

The predictions of the UN, published under the title World Population
Prospects: the 2010 Revision, also place the Caribbean island eight on
the list of nations with more elderly people than people of working age
by 2050. .

These opinions coincide with those of Cuban demographers, who assert
that, by 2024, the island's population will be the oldest of Latin
America and the Caribbean, according to the report "Cuban Population
Estimates for 2011-2035," carried out by the Center of Studies for
Population and Development (CEPDE) of the National Office of Statistics
and Information (ONEI).

At present, it's estimated that there are two million Cubans that are 60
or over 60 years old, a figure that should increase to 3.6 millions by
2035. (acn).

Cellphone leaks vex Cuban government

Cellphone leaks vex Cuban government
Published: Nov. 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

MIAMI, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Anti-Castro activists say the release of top
Cubans' cellphone numbers on the Internet spotlights the growing
weakness of the Havana government.

A Miami Web site this fall has been posting scores of cellphone numbers
of what it calls "the darlings of the dictatorship," which Miami's El
Nuevo Herald said Sunday was an unprecedented development in a nation
with such a culture of security.

Followers of the Web site Cuba Uncovered were also impressed. One reader
contributed a post saying, "Technology is going to destroy them."

El Nuevo Herald said the newly released data included notables such as
Castro's daughter, Deborah, and Machado Ventura, Castro's
second-in-command at the ruling Council of State.

While it appeared unlikely anyone in the government was being plagued by
prank calls, the cell numbers enable activists to send text messages to
top officials whenever there is a crackdown on political dissent within

Argentina-Cuba air bridge to grow to eight weekly flights

Argentina-Cuba air bridge to grow to eight weekly flights

Responding to fast-rising Argentinean tourism in Cuba, Aerolineas
Argentinas and Cubana de Aviación are planning to grow Argentina-Cuba
routes to eight weekly flights this winter.

Visitors from Argentina set a record in the first half of 2011, with
61,000 arrivals.

Cuban officials visiting the Feria Internacional de Turismo de América
Latina (FIT 2011) in Buenos Aires offered Argentinean tour operators and
travel agents a "total guarantee" for the success of the air
connections, Prensa Latina reported.

The two airlines will connect Buenos Aires with various destinations in
Cuba, including Havana, Varadero, Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara and
Holguín, between January and April 2012.

In addition, other Latin American airlines, including Copa,
Avianca-TACA, Andes and LAN Perú offer Cuba connections from Buenos
Aires via other South American airports and Panama.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Housing Regulations Maintain Restrictions for Cubans / Laritza Diversent

Housing Regulations Maintain Restrictions for Cubans / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Unstated

The housing regulations, recently enacted by the government of Cuba, and
which take effect on November 10, leave intact regulations that impede
the full exercise of the right of ownership.

As part of the implementation of the Guidelines adopted at the Sixth
Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in April, the State Council
issued Decree-Law 288 amending the "General Housing Law".

The new law allows homeowners – Cubans and foreigners permanently
residing in the country – to freely dispose of their homes, through
exchanges, gifts, and sales.

The directive of the State Council eliminated the requirement that
owners who decide to exchange or donate their property to first obtain
authorization from the Municipal Housing Department. But it left intact
the relocation rules for the capital and areas under special
administrative management, which impede the full exercise of property
In the Cuban legal system, Decree 217 is still in effect, which
establishes the "Immigration Regulations for the City of Havana,"
limiting both freedom of movement within the island and the right to
choose one's place of residence in it.

This decree requires people who have acquired (by inheritance, bequest,
gift, or purchase) a home located in the capital, to apply on behalf of
their family for a permit of residence and movement, to the presidents
of the municipal governments.

The state institutions require citizens who are not domiciled in the
capital, in order to accomplish any change of address in the capital, to
obtain an opinion issued by the Municipal Housing Directorate, attesting
compliance with the provisions of this rule. The same steps must be
taken by those who lease or trade their property.

On the island there are also areas designated as special, or of high
significance for tourism, subject to special administrative oversight by
government mandate, in which a residence permit is required.

In 1995 The Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers declared as
"an area of ​​great importance for tourism" the municipality of Old
Havana in the capital, and in 1997 Varadero, in Matanzas. Residents, or
those seeking to settle in these areas, need permission to exchange,
lease or acquire ownership of a home, before applying to the Notary Public.

The freedom to manage personal assets represents a step forward for the
rights of Cubans, but they will never be complete while the government
continues to ignore others of equal value and importance, such as
freedom of movement within the national territory, and the right to
choose one's place of residence.

16 November 2011

Cyber commandos spill phone numbers of top Cuban officials

Posted on Saturday, 11.26.11


Cyber commandos spill phone numbers of top Cuban officials

Critics of the Castro regime have adopted a new, Internet-savvy tactic:
publishing the addresses and phone numbers of top Cuban officials.
By Juan O. Tamayo

Want to know the home address of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro's daughter? How
about the home phone number for his No. 2, José Ramon Machado Ventura?
Or the cell number for Minister of Communications Ramiro Valdés?

A Miami-based website is publishing those and myriad other details on
the private lives of top Cuban officials, saying it wants to warn "the
darlings of the dictatorship" that they will face a dark future if the
government collapses.

Also obtained from inside Cuba are digital lists of the cell phone
numbers for tens of thousands of security and intelligence officers, and
the street addresses of virtually every single military base on the
island, contributors to the site say.

The leak of such personal details, out of a communist-ruled country
where secrecy has long been paramount, reflects the Castro government's
growing inability to control the flow of information in the age of the

"Technology is going to destroy them," said one post on the website
CubaalDescubierto — Cuba Uncovered — where the details are being posted
by FUEGO, or "fire," a group that claims to be made up of Cubans in Cuba
and on the outside.

The site already has published what it says are the home addresses,
phone numbers and other personal information of more than 20 top Cubans
since it started posting those kinds of details about six weeks ago.

They include Machado Ventura, Castro's No. 2 in the ruling Council of
State and the Communist Party; former Defense Minister Julio Casas, who
died Sept. 3; and Valdés, a former Interior Minister, widely viewed as
one of Cuba's most powerful officials.

It also published the address and home phone of Castro's daughter
Deborah and her husband, Luis Alberto Rodriguez López Callejas, an army
colonel who runs military-owned businesses that account for an estimated
60 percent of the island's economy.

The addresses and phone numbers for Angela and Agustina Castro Ruz,
sisters to Raúl and Fidel Castro, and for Sonia and Jose Alejandro
Espin, sister and brother of Raúl Castro's late wife, Vilma Espin, also
appeared on the page.

El Nuevo Herald could not confirm all of the details published, but its
calls to eight of the phone numbers confirmed that five were correct.
One was confirmed by a female relative and two by housemaids. Three
others did not answer, including Valdes' purported cell.

Percy Alvarado, identified by the Cuban government in the late 1990s as
one of its intelligence operatives, told El Nuevo Herald that he
received a threatening call on his cellular phone earlier this month
from people who identified themselves as members of FUEGO.

He called the publication of the addresses and phone numbers a "flagrant
violation of the right to privacy and international laws."

Miami blogger Aldo Rosado Tuero, a member of FUEGO and publisher of the
blog Nuevo Acción, said publishing the details about the Cuban officials
and relatives was designed to "send some of them the message that they
are known, that we know where they live."

"We also want to try to push these people to ease the repression
[against dissidents] in Cuba, and we believe there should be some record
for the future, so that crimes do not go unpunished," Rosado added.
"We're talking about justice, not vengeance."

CubaalDescubierto's postings are the latest effort by some government
critics to shine a spotlight on Cubans who actively work for the
island's totalitarian government, in hopes of persuading them to temper
their activities.

The Web site and Twitter account CubaRepresorID publishes the names and
photos of people it describes as State Security agents, "snitches" who
collaborate with them and Cubans who repeatedly join
government-organized mobs that harass dissidents.

Part of the information posted on CubaRepresorID and CubaalDescubierto
has come from FUEGO, the Spanish acronym for the United Front of Exiles
and Organized Groups, which describes itself as being dedicated to
"damaging the tyranny and helping the internal opposition."

Other details have come from digital lists that have been making the
rounds among Cuba watchers this year — including one list of more than
60,000 unlisted phone numbers for sensitive sectors such as State
Security and senior government officials.

The blog Penultimos Dias — Penultimate Days — recently noted that if it
hears of a crackdown on dissent in eastern Santiago de Cuba, for
example, it can send text messages to every single State Security agent
in the province saying, "stop the repression."

Some Cubans say that list was accidentally posted on the website of the
island's telephone company, the Cuban Telecommunications Company SA, or
ETECSA, and was quickly taken down. Others say it was leaked on purpose
by a government opponent.

The Armed Forces Ministry recently banned the use of portable memories,
such as flash drives, CDs and DVDs, as well as personal computers for
ministry work, according to Penultimos Dias.

Another digital ETECSA list included a home phone for Juan Pablo Roque,
one of the Havana spies linked to Cuba's 1996 shootdown of two Brothers
to the Rescue airplanes in which four South Florida men were killed. The
listing was later removed.

Making public such details is the flip side of the "acts of repudiation"
staged by government supporters to harass and intimidate dissidents,
argued Luis Dominguez, part of a group within FUEGO that calls itself
the Cuban Cyber Commandos.

"No one can imagine the amount of information that reaches us from Cuba
through the CCCs," Dominguez told El Nuevo Herald. Government officials
"should start thinking that they can never again be anonymous."

Asked if publishing the private information for Cuban officials was not
a way of threatening them, Dominguez replied, "I don't threaten anyone.
Each person can decide what to do with this type of information."

Dominguez, 48, a Miami security company administrator, has been involved
in several previous digital jabs at the Cuban government, and sometimes
jokes about starting a website for leaks about Cuba called "WikiCuba."

In 2009, he passed himself off online as Claudia, a Colombian woman, and
maintained an eight-month exchange of salacious emails with Fidel
Castro's oldest son, Antonio Castro Soto del Valle.

Dominguez says FUEGO and CCC have plenty more details that will be
published slowly on Cuba al Descubierto.

On Wednesday, the website posted the Havana street address and two
telephone numbers for the recently created Special National Brigade of
the National Revolutionary Police — an elite unit trained in crowd
control and SWAT tactics.

A man who answered the phone confirmed it was the home of the Special
National Brigade, known in Cuba as "the little roosters" because their
shoulder patches feature a black fighting cock on a red, white and blue

"Today we already know where each one of Fidel Castro's bodyguards
lives, and each one of Fidel's neighbors," he told El Nuevo Herald.
Castro's house in western Havana has long been marked on some of Google
Earth's satellite photos.

"But that's not the worst for them," Dominguez added. "What is really
going to hurt them is when we publish precise information about [the
location of] ALL the units" of the armed forces and the Interior
Ministry, in charge of domestic security."

Cubans Seen by Foreigners

Cubans Seen by Foreigners
November 27, 2011
Regina Cano

"When Cubans try to get close to a foreigner, it's not to make friends.
It's always with the intention of getting something in return." These
were more or less the words of a Latin American who lived in Cuba for
several years. She was speaking with someone from the US.

I can assure you that I found this very painful to hear, because while
this might be the general opinion about us, it's unfair. It doesn't
reflect the feelings of everyone here.

It seemed to me that this person wasn't being completely honest with
herself, or that the depth of her analysis was shallower than I had
hoped. I'm sorry that this person's experience hasn't been happy here on
this island.

I must admit that, unfortunately, the occurrences in the past several
years led to a behavior of "everyone for themself" among some Cubans,
and the consequences of this can still be seen.

It's true that economic instability began to arise starting in the 90's,
which made us appear to the world as people in need, which in turn made
us look at the approach of a foreigner like a lifeline.

However, many Cubans also suffer manipulation by visitors, those who
find a country with a black-market economy offering low prices –
compared to the official prices. This allows them a bargain holiday with
everything at arm's reach: inexpensive food (including lobster and
shrimp), cigars, rum, and women.

Here, they found cheap prostitutes (very cheap ones), especially when
their ranks swelled after a wave of mange arose from the lack of food
and the shortage of hygienic supplies. Thanks to this, we've had
situations where prostitutes have been drugged so they could be abused.
They've filmed them having group sex, with animals and who knows what
else, possibly viewed over the Internet or in videos for sell, people
say. These are prostitutes by necessity, without rights or protection.

Novelists, actors, screenplay writers and musicians have seen their art
stolen when seeking to market their work. Others have been able to
migrate based on contracts that turned out to be pure fraud, though
others fared better.

I'm not here defending those people for whom the technology of the First
World, or whatever world, make them want to sell their soul to leave the
country. What I'm saying is that there are those here who don't want to
swap their lives for any of that, just as there are those who left the
country through good friends or who got married for the best reasons.

I don't deny or try to justify those Cubans who mimic the behavior of
visitors, or those who snatch a purse or a camera out of the hands of
their owners, or those who feign a pathetic "but I love you…"

There are also foreigners who come to Cuba to look at it as if going to
the zoo. They want to see a country that still claims to be socialist:
"What a rarity," they say. Or look – "people are starving," according to
how we exaggerate here, though these same people declare to the world
that they will resist, because that's the official version assumed in
one way or another.

It's true! We've really suffered a tremendous attack, but we haven't
gone starving. We didn't end up starving to death, though some people
were permanently affected (by neuropathies or impaired growth).

Cubans were doubly mistreated: by our own domestic problems and by what
was entailed in receiving visitors under such circumstances.

By not being able to "escape," as they say, we don't escape the various
forms of trafficking. We supply the market for human organs (in a few
instances) and the market for "slaves" (there was a huge business
involving Cubans who got married and were then stripped of their rights
while having to wait five years or more to become residents in the host
country). Thus, I assure you, that not everyone is tricked or cheated by us.

But there are also many people who come to the island looking for
kindness and warmth, as well as honest and frank communication; and
despite the reputation that precedes us, good friends have come out of
these encounters.

Among Cubans today, many still work hard to make a living. Many retain
enough of a sense of decency as to not to view a foreigner as an ace in
the deck, a horn of plenty or the El Dorado through which everything can
be solved.

There's no shame in a Cuban seeking or finding a foreigner who can offer
them work or the possibility of employing them in some pursuit through
which they can support themself honorably. This is what immigration
represents: allowing them to leave a situation that doesn't meet their

Perhaps I'm falling short in communicating the whole story. Maybe there
are others who can add to it with their own experiences or with those of
others. But make no mistake: Cubans are not always looking to get close
is to a foreigner to take advantage of them – okay!

Analysis: The loans are coming!

Analysis: The loans are coming!
By José Manuel Pallí

Since Cuba published the recent changes to its housing laws allowing
resident citizens to sell their homes, the talk in Miami — especially
among those who feel an urgent call to give a negative spin to any news
from Cuba — has turned around questions like, 'Where are the home
sellers going to live?'

So when I heard about Cuba's new lending system, while waiting in line
for the doors to one of our glorious bazars to open up this abbreviated
Thanksgiving Day, the first thought that came to my mind was we now had
yet another reason to worry: Where will those Cubans who lose their
homes to the bank go?

Of course, the geography around me helped dispel most of my own
concerns: Here we are, in Miami — a city which has a legitimate claim to
be the natural host for our next reality TV show, 'Foreclose America,'
in a state of Florida where our courts of law are hooked to a life
support system dependent on foreclosure filing fees, where jobs are ever
more scarce, and yet nobody is deprived of his/her constitutional right
to shop, maxed credit card or not. And obviously, they must have some
place to keep all this new stuff they are buying — with even some space
to spare for a bed or sleeping bag.

But it turns out we need not worry at all about the more recent
changes in Cuba's laws, since the lending now approved cannot lead to
the foreclosure of any Cuban's main living quarters.

Decreto Ley No. 289/2011 adopted by the Cuban Council of State (Consejo
de Estado) on Nov. 16, and which will be in effect on Dec. 20, deals
with "Loans to natural persons and other bank services" (De los créditos
a las personas naturales y otros servicios bancarios) and contains (in
its Article 3) a short list of those natural persons (meaning individual
borrowers, and banning corporations from borrowing under these rules)
now authorized to contract for loans with authorized Cuban banks. The
same threesome authorized for channeling real estate (or housing)
transactions are thus far authorized by the Cuban Central Bank to offer
these loans: Banco Popular de Ahorro, Banco de Crédito y Comercio, and
Banco Metropolitano S.A. — see Resolución No. 100 del Banco Central de
Cuba, Cuba's Central Bank.

Last, but not least, in the Article 3 list of approved borrowers (in
item e), there is an open category: Those who need to purchase articles
(for personal consumption, I assume, since the law reads "para su
propiedad personal — a code word for socialist property rights — o
satisfacer otras necesidades…"). The loans to this category of persons
will only be gradually implemented, to the extent the economic and
financial conditions on the island justify them (Article 3 (e) of DL
289/2011). I cannot wait to read about how this is not a meaningful change …

Other meaningful changes are found in Article 11, which allows for the
funding of credit cooperatives (cooperativas de créditos y servicios),
and in Article 12, in this case because it appears to hint a change of
attitude from the Cuban government, or so I hope. Article 12 opens the
door for the Cuban state itself to support the credit needs of the
incipient private sector: Those who need a loan to buy construction
material or hire construction workers to build or improve the premises
where their businesses operate — in many cases rented to them by the
Cuban state — will be able to use those state-owned premises to secure
their loan.

However, the Valium for those who lose sleep over the looming crisis of
Cuban homelessness the coming home-selling spree may cause is found in
section 2 of Article 13. This provision makes clear that no Cuban's home
is likely to end up in any creditor's hands. The only real estate assets
owned by Cuban individuals allowed as collateral for the loans they may
take are their one and only vacation homes, which not many Cubans own,
and vacant or unimproved lots (solares yermos), which, as I understand
it, even fewer Cuban individuals are likely to own.

This little anecdote may serve to further assuage our fears (a sip of
chamomile tea to go with the Valium). Over the years and due to the
nature of my business, I have followed closely the several processes
whereby the occupants (squatters) of mostly public land in the
underdeveloped world are given "formal" titles to it. Those who have
promoted these 'formalization' processes are often chastised because,
contrary to their expectations, the number of loans secured by these
newborn titles is almost imperceptible. Curious about what the reason
behind this trickle of loans to the inhabitants of shanty towns (favelas
in Brazil, villas miserias in Argentina, pueblos jóvenes in Peru), and
ready to blame the banks for not lending to them, I got the answer from
a bright lawyer then running the Commission for the Formalization of
Property (COFOPRI) in Lima, Peru. She explained that most of the new
title holders she dealt with, a majority of them humble Andean peasants
attracted by the big-city lights, were not eager to risk their titles —
which they often framed and hanged from a wall, alongside the images of
saints and crucifixes — for obtaining credit they often needed. When you
told them the price to pay for their inability to repay the loan was the
forfeiture of their home, they looked at her as if she was some kind of nut.

To be sure, this clash between the cleverness of our financial wizards,
so prone to risk taking – which, as it turned out, is often risk free —
and the wisdom of ancestral cultures, can be read in many ways. However,
I cannot help but think of so many among us who entered into
"sophisticated" loan agreements – balloon mortgages, ninja loans, and so
on — without properly gauging or even understanding their potential

This is not to say that they would have passed on those loans if they
had been prudent and diligent enough — or even if an independent
third-party lawyer, like a Civil Law Notary, had been at hand at closing
time to help them understand what they were getting into. The magnet
from our glorious bazars could have still been too much.

José Manuel Pallí is a Cuban-born member of the Florida Bar, originally
trained as a lawyer in Argentina. He is president of Miami-based World
Wide Title

Neither Fat, Nor Skinny, Nor Crazy / Rebeca Monzo

Neither Fat, Nor Skinny, Nor Crazy / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Unstated

A peasant friend of mine, whose name I withhold, somewhat confused and
amazed by an article published in Granma on October 21 of this year,
which points to the remarkable decline in the number of cattle in our
fields (22,980 head as of the end of August this year), due to theft and
illegal slaughter of, sends me the following partnerships:

Neither fat nor skinny nor crazy.

Look under your bed,

There is a lost cow.

It is neither thin nor fat,

Nor is it crazy.

Look for it in your yard,

or maybe in your kitchen.

In the belly of your children,

Or in that of your dear wife.

That is where it should be

What they have already taken from you.

You raise it and care for it,

And it belongs to the State!

Granma also states that the lack of control is the common factor. They
say that due to the shortage of personnel to check the cattle in the
different provinces, disorder takes over and already there are a number
of farmers who work freely.

Wouldn't it be better, as the peasant who sends me his collaboration
says, that the first priority be the need to put on the table of every
family this food, that until 1959 was our most common nourishment?
According to CENCOP (Livestock Control Center), they lack bureaucrats to
check the country's more than 26,000 landless livestock owners. Hence
the high number of animals along the road or grazing in improper areas
exposed to accidents, or provoking them, as well as inciting crime.

November 17 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cuba repatriates three shipwrecked US sailors

Cuba repatriates three shipwrecked US sailors

Cuba has repatriated three Americans picked up recently in Cuban
territorial waters after their sailboat ran aground, diplomatic sources
said Friday.

"We can confirm the handover and return of three people," a spokeswoman
for the US Interests Section in Havana said without providing more
details. Cuban authorities and the official press were silent on the matter.

The US-based website identified the three as Derek
Shaeffer, 39, Eric Foor, 21, and another unnamed, and said they flew to
Miami on Sunday.

The website said the three were sailing to Jamaica when they ran aground
on a coral reef and were spotted by the Cuban coast guard around
November 10.

The outlet noted that in September Cuban turned over to US authorities
two fugitives from US justice -- Denis Catania, 49, and Diana Camacho, 26.

Only a few US nationals are in Cuban prisons, and most of those are for
crimes related to drug or people trafficking.

An exception is US government contractor Allan Gross, who was arrested
in December 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for distributing
sophisticated communications gear to opponents of the government.

Despite US demands for Gross' immediate and unconditional release, Cuban
authorities have firmly refused and countered by demanding the release
of five Cubans who were imprisoned in the United States for espionage.

One of them was freed last month after serving his prison term, but he
must remain in the United States for three years under the terms of his

Will Cuba's Expanding Experiment in Capitalism Be Allowed to Continue?

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

Will Cuba's Expanding Experiment in Capitalism Be Allowed to Continue?
Posted: 11/26/11 02:21 PM ET

Between the ugly concrete buildings and the mansions with gardens, timid
spaces for entertainment are emerging. A neighborhood that for decades
was condemned to nocturnal boredom, a slice of the bedroom city, now
sees glowing signs and bars offering drinks springing up here and there.
Comfortable cafes, bars, gyms, and hairdressers flourish with the
rebirth of self-employment. Among today's entrepreneurs, few were a part
of the wave of tiny private businesses that appeared in the
mid-nineties. So they have no memory of the trauma of being shut down,
of governmental will strangling them with high taxes, absurd
restrictions, and excessive inspections.

Along with the timbiriches -- the tiny businesses with few resources --
places are also opening that compete in beauty and efficiency with the
best hotel on the island. Works of art on the walls, carved wood
furniture, lamps made to order by local artisans, are some of the
details this new class of impresarios use to decorate their premises.
Word spreads quickly: "They're opening a Mexican restaurant on that
corner"... "A Swedish chef has come to give classes to cooks planning to
open sites in Central Havana"... "On that balcony they serve the most
exquisite paella in the country." It would seem that such an influx of
creativity is unstoppable and that they will not be able -- as they did
in the past -- to cut off a sector whose quality exceeds the State

The neighborhood has become a destination for people after they leave
23rd Street or the Malecon in search of recreation. But a certain
uneasiness still keeps us from enjoying the impeccable tablecloths and
the waiters in ties; some questions wash over us with every spoonful we
taste: Will they survive? Will they let them exist, or will they return
to eliminate them?

Police detain dissidents headed for Havana forum on racism

Posted on Friday, 11.25.11

Police detain dissidents headed for Havana forum on racism

Dozens of Cuban dissidents were detained to break up 'Day of Resistance.'
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuban police detained more a dozen dissidents to force the cancellation
of Friday's session of a forum on racial discrimination on the island,
according to forum organizers.

Dissidents also reported several dozen detentions earlier this week to
avert street protests on Thursday, declared a nationwide "Day of
Resistance." Most of them had been freed by Thursday night.

Antonio Madrazo, national coordinator of the Citizens' Committee for
Racial Integration, said about 40 people attended Thursday's opening
session of the 2nd annual Forum on Race and Cubanness at his Havana

But police told him at 7 a.m. Friday that they would not allow any
further sessions. Stationed outside his apartment, they began turning
away people as they arrived, and arresting those who resisted, Madrazo

"Right now Rafael Campos is trying to get in. He's at the door," he told
El Nuevo Herald by phone. Minutes later, he added, "Rafael Campos has
been arrested. Police are taking him away."

Madrazo said that among those detained were dissidents Manuel Cuesta
Morua, Darsi Ferrer and Yusnaimi Jorge Soca, as well as Danilo
Maldonado, known as El Sexto, a graffiti artist whose work often include
political messages.

The only person allowed through the police lines Friday was Juan de Dios
Mosquera, a black activist visiting from Colombia, Madrazo added.

The Citizens' Committee was created in 2008 amid growing complaints that
although the Cuban government has outlawed discrimination against its
citizens of African descent, it has done little to eliminate actual racism.

The forum was first held last year "as a platform for communications to
highlight the debate on the race issue, and also the culture of human
rights," Madrazo declared.

Dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez, "Antunez," meanwhile, said that
police had detained so many dissidents to block the street protests
planned for Thursday that he "had not been able to get a complete tally."

Most of the dissidents, some detained as early as Monday, had been
released by Thursday night, added Antunez, head of the Orlando Zapata
Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience.

The Front has declared the 24th of each month as a "Day of Resistance,"
when dissidents across the island should try to stage whatever type of
protest they can organize.

Protests were reported Thursday in the cities of Havana, Palma Soriano,
Pinar del Río, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey,
Velasco and Cienfuegos, according to the Miami-based Cuban Democratic

In the capital, well-known government opponent Sara Martha Fonseca and
three other dissidents were arrested after they staged an
anti-government march that left from a city park named after Martin
Luther King, the Directorate reported.

García Pérez told El Nuevo Herald that police detained five men, and
punched one of them, as they tried Thursday to reach his house in the
central Cuba town of Placetas. They were later freed in a remote farm area.

Fifteen protesters marched down the streets of Pinar del Rio, the
Directorate added, and dissidents in Santa Clara read from a statement
demanding civil and human rights and chanted "down with the dictatorship."

Former political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer García reported that
several signs saying "Down with Raúl" and "Down with Hunger" had
appeared Thursday morning in the eastern town of Palma Soriano.

O'Hare begins weekly nonstop flight to Cuba

O'Hare begins weekly nonstop flight to Cuba

Officials say O'Hare International Airport has started to offer nonstop
charter service between Chicago and Havana, Cuba.

The Chicago Department of Aviation says C&T Charters will fly once from
O'Hare to Havana every Friday. O'Hare will have one weekly arrival from
Cuba as well.

Earlier this year, U.S. government officials gave O'Hare and seven other
airports permission for flights to Cuba as part of a larger effort to
reach out to the island nation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says in a statement that flights to Havana
further the city's mission to become more competitive globally.

Will They Survive? / Yoani Sánchez

Will They Survive? / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

la_rosa_negraBetween the ugly concrete buildings and the mansions with
gardens, timid spaces for entertainment are emerging. A neighborhood
that for decades was condemned to nocturnal boredom, a slice of the
bedroom city, now sees glowing signs and bars offering drinks springing
up here and there. Comfortable cafes, bars, gyms, and hairdressers
flourish with the rebirth of self-employment. Among today's
entrepreneurs, few were a part of the wave of tiny private businesses
that appeared in the mid-nineties. So they have no memory of the trauma
of being shut down, of governmental will strangling them with high
taxes, absurd restrictions, and excessive inspections.

Along with the timbiriches — the tiny businesses with few resources —
places are also opening that compete in beauty and efficiency with the
best hotel on the Island. Works of art on the walls, carved wood
furniture, lamps made to order by local artisans, are some of the
details this new class of impresarios use to decorate their premises.
Word spreads quickly: "They're opening a Mexican restaurant on that
corner"… "A Swedish chef has come to give classes to cooks planning to
open sites in Central Havana"… "On that balcony they serve the most
exquisite paella in the country." It would seem that such an influx of
creativity is unstoppable and that they will not be able — as they did
in the past — to cut off a sector whose quality exceeds the State

The neighborhood has become a destination for people after they leave
23rd Street or the Malecon in search of recreation. But a certain
uneasiness still keeps us from enjoying the impeccable tablecloths and
the waiters in ties; some questions wash over us with every spoonful we
taste: Will they survive? Will they let them exist, or will they return
to eliminate them?

24 Hours of News / Regina Coyula

24 Hours of News / Regina Coyula
Regina Coyula, Translator: Unstated

It's excellent news that we will soon have a 24-hour news channel.
Positive at first sight, but for me, so disenchanted with the
information policy of my country (as a consequence of the political
policy), the existence of of 24 hours of uninterrupted news transmission
is beyond my imagination.

We have the 2-hour morning news, one-hour midday news, the prime time of
30 minutes and a bulletin at midnight. Ah! And the Roundtable. That, not
to mention the paper press and the radio stations, one of which was
originally meant to be a 24 hour news station.

Despite so much supposed information, we are the most disinformed people
in the world. Most of the time the transmission of "information" covers
the achievements in urban agriculture, the anti-mosquito campaign, the
doctors in Haiti, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and the imminent
collapse of capitalism and the global campaign for the release of the
"five heroes."

Here in the blog I have said enough on the subject, because it's
exhausting to hear that we are the most educated people in the world,
and with respect to the news they treat is as if we were feeble-minded.
I watch "The Best of Telesur" which is aired here a day late and hell,
they offer news, on this program I find — with the delay, the point of
view — that there are a ton of things that happen in the world and they
don't exist in the numerous Cuban news outlets.

A work by Guillermo Rodríguez Rivera takes this on, originally published
in the Catholic magazine Lay Space and then reproduced in numerous media
about the theme of the press. Aside from the profession of faith that he
makes to say what he says, I would subscribe to his point of view. It
strikes me that although the country's leadership has called on the
press to play a more active role, the press hasn't moved a single
millimeter, including the directors of the organs that continue the same
as always. Is it that in the press they also confirm those responsible
for the mistake without renouncing or removing them?

November 18 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cuba eases grip on banking sector by allowing small loans

Cuba eases grip on banking sector by allowing small loans
November 26, 2011

HAVANA: Cuba will allow banks to lend money to small businesses, private
farmers and those who want to repair or build homes - a revolutionary
step for the communist government.

The measure, which comes into effect on December 20, is part of a
cautious overhaul of Cuba's Soviet-style economy that began when Raul
Castro took over from his older brother Fidel as president in 2006.

Farmers ''can ask for loans for the purchase and repair of equipment …
and other actions that contribute to rising agricultural production'',
the decree published in the Official Gazette on Thursday said.
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The loans will be available only in Cuban pesos, and the amount and
conditions will be agreed between the bank and the borrower, the decree

A convertible peso, known as CUC and pegged to the US dollar, is also
available, now valued at 24 pesos.

Cuba's economy has been controlled by the state since the 1959
revolution, and people have traditionally turned to family and friends
when they need a loan.

The few Cubans with bank accounts include musicians who go on foreign
tours and professionals, especially doctors, who work abroad.

While pay in Cuba is meagre, about $US20 a month, basic food items are
subsidised, and health services and education are free.

The new loan measures announced will help home builders and small
businesses such as ''paladares'', or private restaurants, that have
sprouted in Cuba, to service the island's growing tourist industry.

Cuba's single-party regime authorised the purchase and sale of cars
earlier this year.

Agence France-Presse

Cuba unveils loan program

Posted on Thursday, 11.24.11

Cuba unveils loan program
Associated Press

HAVANA -- Cuba announced a new credit system Thursday that will offer
loans to small-business owners, independent farmers, and other citizens
beginning next month, advancing promised reforms to the country's
state-planned economy.

Credit will also be available to people looking to purchase building
materials, pay for labor associated with home construction, "acquire
goods for their personal property or satisfy other needs," according to
the government's Official Gazette.

The lack of a lending system has been one of the chief complaints of the
expanding class of entrepreneurs running independent businesses as part
of President Raul Castro's economic overhaul, which aims to right Cuba's
foundering economy and has picked up steam since a landmark Communist
Party summit in April.

Economists have also said credit is necessary if private businesses are
to grow beyond subsistence levels.

"The new credit policy is another step toward the configuration of a
mixed economy integrating state and non-state sectors in a common
national market," said Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban-born economist at the
University of Denver. "This is a significant departure from the
partially reversed changes of the 1990s, when the archconservative 5th
Communist Party Congress conceived the non-state sector as walled off
from business activity."

The island government also established rules for paying private
contractors who do business with the state.

Offering loans for home construction could help address the island's
acute housing shortage and bolster Cuba's brand-new real estate market,
created earlier this month when property sales were legalized for the
first time since shortly after the 1959 revolution.

Human Rights Activists arrested in Santiago, Cuba for distributing pamphlets with UN Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights Activists arrested in Santiago, Cuba for distributing
pamphlets with UN Declaration of Human Rights
By Alberto de la Cruz, on November 24, 2011, at 8:51 am

On Hablalo Sin Miedo, former political prisoner and independent
journalist Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia reports from Cuba that several
human rights activists in Santiago de Cuba were attacked and arrested by
agents of the Castro political police for distributing pamphlets printed
with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In spite of all the magnanimous
"reforms" of dictator Raul Castro, it is still a crime in Cuba for its
citizens to speak or express support for universal human rights.

Unfortunately, this news will receive nary a mention by the
international media, and you certainly will not hear one "Cuba Expert"
even acknowledge that this incident, or any incident like this, ever
takes place on the island. The media has subordinated itself to the
Castro dictatorship, and the expertise of the "Cuba Experts" is strictly
limited to the promotion, advocacy, and defense of the criminal and
murderous Castro dictatorship.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Litte Bit Outraged / Fernando Dámaso

A Litte Bit Outraged / Fernando Dámaso
Fernando Dámaso, Translator: Unstated

Here in my country, the movement of the outraged is front page news. In
the three national official newspapers and on television photos, images
and praised are repeated, to no one's surprise, accustomed as we are to
the government's taking advantage of anyone who criticizes the empire
and its lackeys. More than politics, it is an unhealthy obsession. The
same thing doesn't happen when people protest in countries with friendly
governments. These protestors are considered to be sponsored and paid by
the empire and are totally ignored.

I admire and respect the movements that deposed their autocratic
governments in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as in Libya with outside help.
Also those who are trying to do it today in Yemen and Syria and other
places. In the aftermath of them, in some countries, those called "the
outraged" have come to the fore.

But who are these known as "the outraged"? They remind me of the hippies
of the sixties, but without their exoticism and charisma. The hippies
passed and, at least, they left behind songs, musicals, films and
novels. I don't know if the outraged will have the same luck.

Protest, in recent times, has become a universal sport in developed
countries, rather like football. What are the outraged protesting? Are
they proposing something concrete? Perhaps the failed socialism. A new
economic system? from the photos and images it seems the majority are
young, and I suppose with little or no work experience, and without
having yet created families. They haven't even had time to make mistakes.

It seems there are some oldsters who, with their obsolete language are
people out of step with their times, eternal losers, incapable of
opening the paths of their own lives. Occupy Wall Street is one of the
main slogans. For what? To destroy it? Are those who have never even run
a hot dog stand going to run the economy? What's more, what have they
contributed to their countries.Have they created something that is today
the patrimony of humanity?

Sometimes I am outraged by some of these outraged, but I am reassured to
understand that they over respond to juvenile hormones, that they need
where they demonstrate. Plazas and parks are good places, especially
where they are conveniently equipped with modern tents, as well as food,
music, interesting books and agreeable company. It's like going on a
picnic or camping, but in the center of the city. I completely agree
that a better world is possible, but this will not be achieved through
protesting but through working.

November 4 2011

Authority in Cuba Should Rely on Reason

Authority in Cuba Should Rely on Reason
November 24, 2011
Fernando Ravsberg

In Cuba it is impossible to legally buy wood.

HAVANA TIMES, Nov 24 — The official newspaper Granma issued a desperate
SOS to save Cuba's forests from woodland rustlers who are
indiscriminately felling the nation's tree supply. The paper called on
us to "prevent this natural, enormous and beautiful reserve from
completely disappearing."

The problem with some newspapers is that they sometimes tell us only
half the story with the hope that we'll swallow the whole pill. But this
doesn't always work. People aren't stupid, and Cubans are particularly
well educated.

Of course, everyone is against the indiscriminate felling of forests,
either in Cuba or the Amazon. The difference is that in Brazil, citizens
can legally go to any carpenter and acquire what wood they need.

But here in Cuba there's not a single store where one can buy a simple
board to fix the dinner table or replace a roof beam. This means that
the only alternative left to people is the black market.

To top it all off, though the authorities have just begun allowing
self-employment by carpenters, they don't sell them any wood.
Nonetheless — as if by magic — these workers continue to turn out
rocking chairs, children's toys and even full bedroom sets.

Handicraft production is not far behind. Those who visit the island will
see plenty of beautiful wood sculptures that are sold to tourists, yet
much of these works of art originate from the indiscriminate felling of

It's true that illegal loggers are committing a crime against the
ecosystem, but it's also true that others of us — forced by necessity —
are receptive to buying from them, thus making it possible to complete
the parallel commercial circuit.

Self employed workers use wood products that come from the black market.
Photo: Raquel Perez

No doubt a major factor in all this is the scarcity due to a lack of
resources, but there's an artificial shortage created by inefficiency,
negligence and corruption that creates the ideal conditions for
speculation in these materials.

Another important aspect of the problem is that the absurd prohibitions
in the past acted to establish an environment conducive to the
under-the-table selling of cellphone lines, computers, hotel
reservations, and building materials.

The truth is that fines or confiscations could do nothing as long as
bans on self-employed remained in place, forcing these activities
underground as well as those of the automotive and real estate markets
operating in the shadows.

Today the black market has lost ground in all these sectors; it has
substantially less power, and much of the money that it used to pocket
is now received by the government in the form of taxes. The lesson
should be obvious to everyone.

One of the most important aspects of the reforms is that they open up
legal alternatives to allow the public to address their everyday
problems. The solution is not repression but the organization of the
sale of wood at reasonable prices.

I'm sure most Cubans would then stop buying on the black market and the
lack of demand would force illegal logging to dry up. In addition, these
adjustments to the economic system would end up benefiting the ecosystem.

But instead of proposing to continue "adjusting" the model to life, the
only thing occurring to the newspaper is to refine the "actions and
measures" that go after illegal logging; they believe "otherwise people
will continue committing these crimes."

A great majority of the sculptures sold to tourists are made from wood
coming from trees illegally felled. Photo: Raquel Perez

Following this logic, they'll also have jail all those people who
receive Internet services illegally, those who buy letters of invitation
to emigrate and the sheet metal workers who continue to work without
anyone who can sell them oxygen and acetylene.

They can also throw behind bars all those drivers who come up with parts
for their cars, parents who buy leather shoes under the table, teachers
who give private lessons, and the flight attendants and pilots who
return loaded with goods for sale.

All of us who live in Cuba have been forced at some point to turn to the
black market to "resolver" certain needs. I wonder if those who work for
the Granma newspaper are so irreproachable that they can go around
throwing stones at the rest of us.

It would be more constructive if they were to re-read Antoine
Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, where the wise king explained that in
order to govern "it's necessary to require of each person what they can
individually give," adding "authority rests primarily on reason."

An authorized Havana Times translation of the Spanish original appearing
in BBC Mundo.

Cuba to launch bank loans for farmers, small-business owners, others in December

Cuba to launch bank loans for farmers, small-business owners, others in
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, November 24, 7:10 PM

HAVANA — Cuba announced a new credit system Thursday that will offer
loans to small-business owners, private farmers and other citizens
beginning next month, and established rules for paying independent
contractors who do business with the state.

Credit will also be available to people looking to purchase building
materials, pay for labor associated with home construction, "acquire
goods for their personal property or satisfy other needs," according to
the government's Official Gazette.

The lack of a system of lending has been one of the chief complaints of
the expanding class of entrepreneurs who are running independent
businesses as part of President Raul Castro's economic overhaul, which
aims to right Cuba's foundering economy.

Economists have also said credit is a necessary element if the private
businesses are to grow beyond subsistence levels.

Offering loans for home construction, meanwhile, could help address the
island's acute housing shortage and bolster Cuba's brand-new real estate
market, created earlier this month when property sales were legalized
for the first time since shortly after the 1959 revolution.

"This is very important for me. It's good for everyone," said Nidia
Corona, who makes a living selling bootleg CDs, one of the 181 legally
authorized private-sector activities. "My home is in bad shape, and now
I can ask for a loan to fix it up."

Applications will be evaluated using people's "legal personal income" as
the most common source of repayment, according to the law.

It also allows people to take out mortgages on second homes or vacant
lots, a novelty after five decades of prohibition against using homes as

Under the housing law that took effect Nov. 10, Cubans are limited to
ownership of two properties — one primary residence and a second
vacation house — to avoid accumulation of wealth.

The Official Gazette, a publication that disseminates new laws, said the
credit system will take effect Dec. 20 and be rolled out "progressively,
as the country's economic and financial conditions permit."

Financial institutions authorized by Cuba's Central Bank will offer the
loans in Cuban pesos, valued at 24 to the U.S. dollar, rather than the
stronger convertible currency, which is one to the dollar.

The Central Bank will also set minimum and maximum interest rates.

The lending system is the latest piece of Castro's economic reform
package, which the government touts as an update of its socialist model
despite an increasing embrace of free-market mechanisms such as
self-employment, a new tax code and liberalized rules on home and auto

"I think these changes will have an impact," said Magaly Dopico, who was
sitting in the doorway of the home she rents out as a locksmith's shop.
"We have struggled for a long time, but finally things are improving."

A separate measure published in the Official Gazette set the rules under
which the state will pay private contractors, including a wide range of
options covering everything from cash, debit card and bank transfers to
checks, vouchers and IOUs.

Last week, the government put in place a law authorizing farmers to sell
their products directly to state-run tourist hotel and restaurant
concerns, eliminating the need to go through a state middleman, and said
they could negotiate their own prices.