Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Solidarity Bureaucratized

Solidarity Bureaucratized / Reinaldo Escobar
Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated

Sandy's passing across the eastern provinces and the catastrophic
consequences have left me with the following questions:

Why must all solidarity by necessity pass through government channels?

Why don't the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) ask
their members to bring support to the offices of each Zone?

Why doesn't the Federation of Cuban Woman (FMC) ask the women affiliated
with it to bring something to the organization's Blocks?

Why don't the Pioneer organizations invite the children to donate some
school uniforms?

Why doesn't the Association of the Combatants of the Revolution ask its
members to offer to help the victims?

Are they waiting to receive orders from higher authorities or will their
own hearts dictate their supportive conduct?

29 October 2012

Cuba reschedules most municipal runoff elections postponed by Sandy for coming Sunday

Cuba reschedules most municipal runoff elections postponed by Sandy for
coming Sunday
By The Associated Press October 31, 2012 9:02 AM

HAVANA - Cuban authorities on Wednesday announced new dates for
municipal runoff elections that were postponed due to Hurricane Sandy,
and added new details about the impact of the storm's deadly landfall.

The balloting will take place Sunday across the country except in
Santiago and Holguin, two eastern provinces that were hardest-hit by
Sandy, according to a notice from the National Electoral Commission
published Wednesday in Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Holguin residents will vote Nov. 11, while Santiago municipalities will
hold their runoff elections on a date yet to be announced.

Sandy smacked into the island as a Category 2 hurricane on Oct. 25,
three days before the vote was originally scheduled.

Cuban officials have reported 11 deaths linked to the storm. State-run
media said Sandy damaged more than 200,000 homes, mostly in Santiago and
Holguin provinces, and caused major losses in agriculture.

State phone company Etecsa reported that some 1,400 telephone poles were
downed, knocking out service to 40,000 customers, according to Cuban
news agency Prensa Latina.

Phones and electricity were gradually being restored with the help of
workers brought in from other regions. In Holguin, 73 per cent of
customers had the lights back on.

Santiago re-established bus service and its international airport
reopened Tuesday. One of the first arrivals was a Venezuelan aid flight
carrying 14 tons of food.

Cuban Missile Crisis Secret Revealed – Four Soviet Submarines Came Within Moments Of Firing Nuclear-Armed Torpedoes At U.S. Fleet

Cuban Missile Crisis Secret Revealed – Four Soviet Submarines Came
Within Moments Of Firing Nuclear-Armed Torpedoes At U.S. Fleet

October 31, 2012. 12:35 am • Section: Defence Watch
By William Craig Reed
Defence Watch Guest Writer

Those of us who were alive fifty years ago recall President John F.
Kennedy's shocking address to the nation with chilling clarity. In
somber tones, he told us that there were nuclear missiles in Cuba. Few
experts disagree that the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us closer to
global annihilation than any other event in history. But virtually every
book, documentary, or discussion about the Crisis focuses on the
infamous "thirteen days in October" and the threat of attack from
land-based missiles. What no one knew until recently is that we were
actually closer to WWIII during the first week of November 1962, when
four Soviet submarines came within moments of firing nuclear torpedoes
at the U.S. Fleet.

This story begins in August 1962 when Commander Leonid Rybalko met with
Soviet Fleet Admiral Sergei Gorshkov to discuss plans for Operations
Anydr and Kama. Already underway, Operation Anydr was Nikita
Khrushchev's grand plan to place short and medium-range nuclear missiles
in Cuba. Unknown to many historians is Operation Kama—an even more
frightening plan to place seven ballistic missile submarines in Mariel,
Cuba. Under this plan, each sub could hide in the ocean off the U.S.
coast and launch nuclear warheads at almost any city in North America.
Khrushchev knew this would be a far greater threat to the U.S. than
land-based missiles. To ensure his plan would succeed, he authorized
Gorshkov to send four Foxtrot submarines in advance of the missiles subs
to secure the base at Mariel. He also authorized the use of nuclear
torpedoes, if and when required.

Foxtrot-class submarines have no nuclear reactors, and so need to
recharge batteries and refresh their air every day or so via noisy
"snorkeling" diesel engines. To detect snorkeling subs, the U.S. had
years earlier created the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS)—an array of
hydrophones in the Caribbean Ocean and nearby areas. They detected the
Foxtrots on their way across the Atlantic, but kept losing contact when
those subs stopped snorkeling and "went silent" on their batteries.
Fortunately, the navy had another top secret technology that could find
these subs when they transmitted via radio.

Gorshkov insisted that each Foxtrot transmit a status report once or
twice daily. When they did, special listening stations could triangulate
a location using a new system codenamed Boresight. My father, William J.
Reed, a navy Ensign working for the NSA, was in charge of deploying
these systems. But the technology was nascent and only three stations
were operational. Location accuracy was low, but when they did get a
"hit," U.S. anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ships and aircraft had at least
a rough idea of where to look for the Soviet subs. Secretary of Defense,
Robert McNamara, caught wind of Boresight and asked for details from
Admiral Anderson, who was in charge of U.S. Atlantic Fleet operations.

When President John F. Kennedy ordered the blockade, Anderson stationed
sixty warships in a "walnut line" arcing from Cuba to south of Florida.
During several meetings between Kennedy, McNamara, Anderson and the
advisory ExComm Group, the highest concern discussed involved locating
the Soviet Foxtrot submarines, now converging on Cuba. They did not know
that each sub carried a nuclear-tipped torpedo capable of vaporizing
everything within a ten mile radius, which might include up to a dozen
U.S. warships.

On the evening of October 22, 1962, Kennedy announced to the world the
discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Less than 1,000 miles off
the coast of that country, radio operators aboard the four Foxtrot's
intercepted the transmission. For my book, Red November, I interviewed
two captains and several crewmen who were aboard those subs. They
described horrendous conditions where temperatures inside the boats
swelled to nearly 100 degrees in tropical waters. Unable to surface due
to constant harassment from U.S. forces (directed to their locations by
Boresight listening stations), crews lost nearly 30% of their body mass
and developed terrible skin rashes. Every boat had a nuclear torpedo
loaded and ready in tube #2, but their orders from Moscow for using them
were sketchy at best. Each captain knew that if they did fire those
weapons, they would most likely not survive the explosion.

On October 23, Kennedy had the navy bring in the quarantine line from
800 to 500 miles from Cuba. He did so out of concern over Khrushchev's
aggressive posture and refusal to turn back the supply ships carrying
nuclear missile parts. Khrushchev was bolstered by the knowledge that
his four Foxtrot submarines could easily punch large holes in Kennedy's
blockade. SecDef McNamara ordered Admiral Anderson to make finding those
Soviet subs the navy's top priority. He also informed Kennedy about
Project Boresight, the new technology that might help the navy with that
task. Kennedy asked McNamara to have navy experts brief him and the
ExComm Group on the Boresight system.

My father's boss at Section A22 of the NSA, Commander Jack Kaye,
received a call from SecDef McNamara. A few hours later, Kaye and my
father were headed to the White House. There they met with Kennedy and
the ExComm Group, whereupon my dad gave a technical briefing outlining
the capabilities and shortcomings of the Boresight technology. At the
end of the meeting, Kennedy asked my dad if there was any way possible
to get a more accurate location on those four Foxtrot subs. Commander
Kaye started to say "no" when my father interrupted and said "yes."
Kennedy asked him to do so, and my dad spent the next few sleepless days
at the three operating stations working on improvements. By October 26,
the navy could finally obtain reasonably accurate locations on each
Foxtrot submarine whenever they transmitted. ASW forces converged on
those bearings and dropped active sonar buoys and warning depth charges
in an effort to force the subs to the surface.

On October 26, during an ExComm meeting, Kennedy said he didn't believe
the quarantine alone would force Khrushchev to remove the nuclear
weapons from Cuba. A CIA report indicated that the Soviets were not
halting missile site development. That evening, Kennedy sent a private
hand-written memo to Khrushchev. To this day, no one has verified the
contents, but expert contacts I interviewed speculate that the memo
contained just four lines: the coordinates to each Foxtrot submarine.

The next day, Khrushchev's demeanor changed dramatically. Where once he
had been strong and stubborn, he was suddenly soft spoken and
cooperative. What caused this overnight transformation? Authors have
proffered dozens of theories, but none explain how a lion turned into a
mouse in less than twenty-four hours. That is, all except one:
Khrushchev was emboldened by the knowledge that his four Foxtrot
submarines, carrying nuclear torpedoes, could decimate the blockade.
When Kennedy sent him that memo, accurately pinpointing the location of
each sub, Khrushchev knew he'd been trumped. He then had no choice but
to fold his hand. What he failed to do, however, was send a clear
message to those submarines that the conflict was over.

On October 28, Khrushchev announced over Radio Moscow that the Soviets
had agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. Not announced was the
agreement with Kennedy that the U.S. would not invade Cuba, or the tacit
arrangement that America would remove all nuclear missiles from Turkey.
At this point, most accounts on the Cuban Missile Crisis end. They state
that Americans could finally breathe easy again, emerge from their bomb
shelters and go about life as usual. Nothing could be further from the

Over the next week, the four Foxtrot submarines did not turn around and
go home as did the Soviet cargo ships. Instead, they skirted the 500
mile quarantine line around Cuba and continued to threaten U.S.
warships. Aided by Boresight fixes, U.S. ASW ships and planes forced
three of the four subs to the surface. What we did not know until
recently, is that captains or commanders aboard all four Foxtrot subs,
once backed into corners by U.S. forces, nearly fired their nuclear
torpedoes at the American fleet. The stories portrayed by the captains
and crew aboard these boats during those stressful days, when they were
certain that WWIII was eminent, is truly frightening.

Fifty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, experts still focus on the
thirteen days in October when the world shuddered at the thought of
ground-based nuclear missiles headed our way from Cuba. But the truth is
far more frightening. If just one of those Foxtrot submarines had sunk a
dozen U.S. warships by firing a nuclear torpedo, this act would
certainly have started WWIII. When I interviewed Captain Ketov,
commander of Foxtrot B-4, I heard something that chilled me to the core.
Ketov said, "If we captains had completed our mission, there might be
nuclear missile boats in Cuba today and we would have been honored as
heroes. Instead, because all four of us chose not to fire our torpedoes
and avoid starting a nuclear war, we were later persecuted by our
government as failures and traitors."

William Craig Reed is the author of Red November: Inside the Secret U.S.
– Soviet Submarine War (HarperCollins, May 2010), which reveals the
untold story about the Cuban Submarine Crisis and a dozen other top
secret underwater espionage operation.

Cuban Baptists rally to aid Sandy's victims

Cuban Baptists rally to aid Sandy's victims
Posted on Oct 30, 2012 | by Emily Pearson

SANTIAGO, Cuba (BP) -- Hurricane Sandy's torrential rains and 105 mph
winds slammed eastern Cuba Oct. 25, killing 11 people, among them a
couple from First Baptist Church in the hard-hit coastal city of Santiago.

The Baptist couple, whose names were not released, died when a wall
collapsed in their home during the storm.

Hurricane Sandy devastated their city of Santiago, affecting nearly 70
percent of the area, news reports said. The storm destroyed 15,000 homes
and damaged some 115,000 others.

Many of the 150 churches and 200 house churches affiliated with the
Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba were damaged; some were destroyed.
The convention's seminary and home for the elderly sustained damage.

Despite their losses, Cuban Baptists in Santiago are reaching out to the
community, according to International Mission Board representatives and
area pastors.

"The great thing is even in the midst of all the challenges and
difficulties that are being faced right now, a lot of the pastors we've
been able to speak to and the members of their churches just immediately
began to step up to the plate," said an IMB representative who travels
frequently to Cuba. "Even though they themselves had had a lot of loss
and a lot of damage, they've been coming together to try to help people
in the community."

The storm's intensity caught many people unprepared, reports said.
Debris, fallen trees and downed electrical poles now block most of the
area's roads, making it difficult to deliver aid supplies by vehicle.
The storm also caused a citywide power outage predicted to last several
more weeks.

To meet the pressing needs for food and water, local Baptist churches
have begun setting up the first of 35 planned soup kitchens throughout
Santiago and other locations ravaged by the storm.

"As a church, we have proposed to invest all our efforts and resources
to help the needy," one local pastor wrote in a letter to the president
of the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba. "Today we began to prepare
food. Early in the morning we only had a little bit of rice, but thanks
to God, with the contributions of various members, we were able to feed
60 people. Tomorrow we will cook for 100. We know this is insufficient,
but we have already begun. God will continue to provide."

Local Cuban Baptists also are gathering clothing and other supplies for
people in need. Fourth Baptist Church of Santiago has made their
generator available daily so locals can charge cell phones and batteries
and watch the television news.

As local Baptists met immediate needs, Cuban Baptists from the western
side of the island quickly stepped in to help.

"As soon as the hurricane had passed," said the IMB representative,
"[leaders from the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba] discovered what
some needs were, and they immediately loaded a truck with a lot of rice
that they had stored for a hurricane and sent it with other foodstuffs
and purified water and other things they felt would be needed."

In addition to meeting physical needs, Cuban Baptists are using the
opportunity to reach out to their neighbors spiritually, the IMB worker

"Our brothers and sisters [in Cuba] are recognizing that this terrible
situation is an amazing opportunity to share the love of Christ in very
real and tangible ways," he said. "They take the call to share the
Gospel very seriously at all times. But in the midst of their own
suffering, that actually draws the church together and it helps them to
focus on finding the real needs of their neighbors and demonstrating the
love of Christ."

The disaster has motivated Cuban Baptists to intensify efforts in
meeting their national goal of seeing 1 million new believers in Cuba by
the year 2020, known as the "20/20 Vision," the IMB representative said.

"Cuban Baptists from both the Eastern and Western Baptist conventions
are very strong, mission-minded, Great Commission Christians," he said.
"And I think, as tragic as this is, this is an opportunity to be a part
of seeing a million new believers by 2020. That's an amazing perspective
on things, just recognizing in the midst of this tragedy, God is going
to do something amazing for those who love Him."

In the wake of the disaster, Baptist Global Response released $5,000 in
emergency funds and anticipates soon providing more funds for relief
efforts, said a BGR official. In addition, the Florida Baptist
Convention has contributed $5,000 in aid and other state Baptist
conventions are planning assistance.

Emily Pearson is an International Mission Board writer living in the

Russia To Send Humanitarian Aid To Cuba

Russia To Send Humanitarian Aid To Cuba

MOSCOW, Oct 31 (BERNAMA-NNN-PRENSA LATINA) -- The Russian Ministry of
Emergency Situations plans to send humanitarian aid to Cuba hit by
Hurricane Sandy, a source from the ministry's information department
said Tuesday.

The ministry will also be sending a plane filled with construction
materials to help with the rebuilding of destroyed homes, the source
told TASS news agency.

The hardest hit areas of the island are the eastern parts. However, the
region is returning to normal.

The main transport arteries have already been restored and new power
lines have been put into service.

Sandy slammed into Cuba on Oct 25, destroying thousands of hectares of
crops, hundreds of thousands of buildings and killing 11 people.

Sherritt posts loss on lower nickel sales, price

Sherritt posts loss on lower nickel sales, price

(Reuters) - Canadian miner Sherritt International Corp posted a
third-quarter loss on Wednesday as lower nickel prices and sales
volumes, and lower exports of thermal coal weighed on revenue.

The miner's net loss was C$22.6 million, or 8 Canadian cents a share, in
the quarter ended Sept 30. That compared with a profit of C$45.5
million, or 16 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Adjusted to remove one-time items, earnings were 3 Canadian cents a
share, compared with average analyst expectations of 9 Canadian cents a
shares, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue dropped 9 percent to C$422.2 million as nickel sales volumes
fell 9 percent to 8.6 million pounds and thermal coal sales volumes fell
7 percent to 8.5 million tonnes.

Sherritt said the ramp-up at its Ambatovy nickel mine in Madagascar is
progressing, with full commercial production expected in early 2013. The
project, which is a joint venture with Sumitomo Corp <8053.T> and Korea
Resources Corp , is on track to remain within its $5.5 billion capital

Sherritt owns nickel operations in Canada, Cuba, Indonesia and
Madagascar, along with numerous coal mines in Canada and energy projects
in Cuba.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick);_ylt=A2KLOzIoW5FQt0gAe0DQtDMD

Why So Much of a Fuss?

Why So Much of a Fuss?
October 30, 2012
Kabir Vega Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — Since twenty days ago, I haven't been allowed to enter my
high school. I'm in good physical and mental condition, and I want to
attend my classes as well as finish the twelfth grade and develop

A friend of mine is also going through the same situation as me. The
first day of school, we waited outside the school along with the rest of
the students.

They told us to go on in to our classrooms and we walked through the
main entrance (the first gate), but when we tried to go through the
second entrance, the principal and the vice principal cut us off.

They said we couldn't go in until we got our hair cut.

We don't even know where our classrooms are, and they refused to give us
the books we need to study on our own. We asked why and they told us
that the new dress code requires students to be "properly groomed and

It doesn't matter if the reason for having long hair is one's religious
belief, or if it's the image you feel most comfortable with, or if it
gives you a feeling of security… though females can grow their hair as
long as they like.

My friend and I show up at school every day and every day were stopped
and turned away from the grounds. The explanation is always the same:
school has rules that must be complied with to the letter.

On Thursday, October 11, we left for school earlier than usual. Since it
was dark we couldn't see the sky and didn't notice that it was cloudy.
Along the way it started to drizzle, but as we got closer to the school
that drizzle turned into a torrent.

Notwithstanding, they still didn't let us come in. The principal yelled
at us when we left, and when we mentioned the rain she said she wasn't
to blame for us insisting on coming to school even though they would
never let us in.

I responded saying, "I come to school because it's my duty," to which
she answered back with, "Until you fulfill your other duties [getting a
haircut] you can't come in."

The walk back home wasn't easy. My Alamar neighborhood is poorly
designed, the sewer system is terrible, and the hilly areas tend to
accumulate water – so the streets were like swamps.

A clear violation of our consitution

As we know, the school's policy is in violation of the Cuban
Constitution, which states "no young person be left without the
opportunity to study." But that isn't what bothers me most.

What's angering me and pushing me to the point of despair is seeing how,
throughout my entire school life, they've always prioritized the most
trivial and unimportant things.

When I was in junior high school, I used to idealize senior high and I
was sure it would be a major change. But I was wrong. We have students
in my own classroom who lack knowledge they should have gotten in
elementary school.

Throughout this war over our "long hair," one junior high chemistry
teacher threatened to expel us from school if we didn't get haircuts,
though he wasn't restricted by any dress standard. However when my
science teacher — who's an alcoholic — hit two students in the face,
they only suspended him for a few months.

I think there are really important things here that are ignored. I'm
tired of so much hypocrisy; we're held down by certain regulations that
impose senseless notions with which most people disagree.

Hell, our revolution was won by combatants wearing full beards and long

I don't understand. Perhaps I'm not conscious of everything, but I know
how much I need to get through the twelfth grade, and I know that this
situation is affecting me a lot.

I've already accumulated 16 involuntary absences, and they've warned us
that 30 absences in a row can get us kicked out of school.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Leave and Return is a Right

To Leave and Return is a Right / Reinaldo Escobar
Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated

Although the fever to comment on the new travel and immigration
legislation has already passed, I don't want to let it pass me by. To
those who ask me in circumstances where there's little time to respond,
I tell them the following:

The Cuban government has eliminated the humiliating Permission to Leave
and established in its place the Permission to Possess a Passport, which
is somehow worse because it denies the citizen the right to possess
identification before the rest of the world.

If we have a little more time, then I say that I would have wished the
first article of the new law would say more or less the following:

All Cuban citizens, by the mere fact of having been born in this
archipelago, have the right to possess a passport and, once granted a
visa by another country, to leave Cuba with it for as long as he deems
appropriate and to return, as many times as his resources allow. This
right can only be violated by court judgement, where the citizen has all
procedural guarantees of defense and appeal.

The absence of the word "right" is the most important omission in the
new law.

22 October 2012

Upgrade of Cuban Migration Policy?

Upgrade of Cuban Migration Policy? / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Jeovany J. Vega, Translator: mlk

It is already a fact: the awaited "migration reforms", announced by Raul
Castro a month and a half ago, arrive with a lot of noise — much ado
about nothing. Published "casually" five days before the elections for
delegates to the Municipal Assemblies of Popular Power, the modification
to Law No. 1312 "Law of Migration" of September 20, 1976, was again the
plastic carrot hung in front of the herd. Some simpleton might believe
his opportunity in life has arrived, but the disillusionment — I really
wish I were wrong on this point — sooner or later will reveal the true
intention behind a decree where they repeat the verb "to authorize"too
much which has ruled the destinies of a people confined to their borders
for more than half a century.

According to my understanding of Decree-Law No. 302, issued by President
Raul Castro October 11, 2012, and published in the Official Gazette last
October 16, nothing changes for the professional Cubans — including
thosefrom the Public Health, needless to say — we continue dragging that
cross that the government became by havingdevoted ourselves to the
cultivation of knowledge. Once again it pays us so: leaving us at aclear
disadvantage, violating our right to travel, depriving us ofany
opportunity to meet the world. Articles 24 and 25, subsections f, make
it very clear when they exclude from leaving the country all those who
lack "the established authorization, pursuant to the strict rules of
preserving the qualified work force…" which with one blow leaves
millions of Cubans out of the game.

One does not have to be really smart to notice that articles 23, 24 and
25, added entirely to the former Law of September 1976, give fullpower
to the authorities to refuse passport, to refuseentry and equally to
refuse exit from the country, respectively and according to subjective
criteria, to any person inside or outside of Cuba, all of which serves
to leave bare the true, hypocritical and deceptive nature of this law.
Too much ambiguity leaves open Article 32, subparagraph h — and by
extension the same subparagraph of Article 25 — when they establish that
some clerk can refuse the award of the passport and/or exit from the
countryto anyone, "When for other reasons of public interest the
empowered authorities determine…", ambiguity which will serve to
continue detaining millions of Cubans under this blue sky every time the
Cuban Government feels like it. These articles and subparagraphs will be
hanging, like the sword of Damocles, over all Cubans.

The other invidious facet of the matter: Article 24, by means of its
subparagraphs c, d and e, establishes as ". . . inadmissible. . ." for
entry into the country — because they put them into the same category as
terrorists, human and arms traffickers, drug dealers and international
money launderers — those accused by the Cuban Government of
"…Organizing, encouraging, managing or participating in hostile actions
against the political, economic, and social fundamentals of the Cuban
State…", "…When reasons of Defense and National Security so suggest…"
and also — this is the little jewel in the crown — all those whom the
Cuban Government considers must "…Be prohibited from entering the
country for being declared undesirable or expelled." If one wants it
clearer, pour water on it: it is a given that those Cubans with
politicalstandards divergent from the Government lines will continue
being deprived of travel, and in case they do manage to leave the
country, they assume a high risk of not being permitted to return, and
this includes, of course, the millions of Cubans and their descendants
who live outside of their country.

Something remains clear: as long as one authority might prohibit those
of us living in Cuba from leaving freely, and also prohibitthat anyone
of the millions that live outside return unconditionally to the embrace
of their homeland, no one will be able to speak of realfreedom of
travel; this is an individual's exclusive decision and will never be a
clerk's because, right to the end, it is inalienable. As long as they
make us leave our families here as hostages as a prerequisite to travel
abroad, freedom of thought is abridged with an exit blackmail, if even
one Cuban is denied his right to freely come or go as his birthright,
nothing will have changed in Cuba. Time will have the last word, but for
now everything seems pure illusion; for the moment, on the balcony of
Havana, this little room is just the same.

Translated by mlk.

October 25 2012

Hurricane Sandy Decimates Cuban Coffee Crop

Hurricane Sandy Decimates Cuban Coffee Crop
Reuters | Posted: 10/29/2012 10:31 am EDT Updated: 10/29/2012 11:34

HAVANA, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Hurricane Sandy decimated the Cuban coffee
crop and delivered a major setback to renovation of old plantations when
it ripped through the eastern part of the country late last week,
according to scattered media reports.

The storm left between 20 percent and 30 percent of the crop on the
ground, damaged processing centers and roads and felled thousands of
trees upon plantations as it pummeled the Sierra Maestra Mountains,
where 92 percent of the crop is grown.

The coffee harvest runs from September through January, but peaks in
October and November.

Coffee production was already expected to weigh in at some 5,300 tonnes
of semiprocessed beans, compared with 7,100 tonnes in the previous
season and an initial plan of 8,500 tonnes.

Reuters now estimates output will be below 4,000 tonnes, the lowest in
more than a century.

The official Granma newspaper reported on Monday that Guantanamo
province, the country's second producer after Santiago de Cuba, "lost
174,475 cans of beans" and "47 processing centers were damaged".

Cuba often reports coffee output in cans, with 525 cans equal to a tonne.

Still-to-be-quantified losses were also reported in the eastern
provinces of Granma and Holguin, the country's third and fourth producers.

The devastation was far worse in Santiago, which took the brunt of the
storm and where losses were still being tallied.

"Songo-La Maya is an agricultural municipality ... The initial figures
for coffee, its main crop, indicate a loss of 84,000 cans, while 4,500
hectares of plantations and another 650 in development are damaged due
to the trees that fell on them," the province's newspaper, Sierra
Maestra, reported on Sunday.

There are eight coffee-producing municipalities in Santiago de Cuba.

The National Information Agency, reporting from the Cruce de los Banos
municipality on Saturday, said: "Initial estimates by municipal
authorities indicate more than 300 hectares of coffee plantations
damaged by falling trees and dozens of tonnes of mature beans felled and
washed away."

How much of the remaining and now quickly ripening coffee beans could be
picked and processed, given the destruction Sandy left behind, was unclear.

Communist-run Cuba's 35,000 growers, in exchange for low-interest
government credits and subsidized supplies, must sell all of their
coffee to the state.

The country's plantations, which at the time of the 1959 revolution
produced 60,000 tonnes of coffee, have steadily declined ever since.

Cuban President Raul Castro, as part of his efforts to improve food
production and cut imports, has pointed to coffee as a crop ripe for
increased attention and growth.

Cuba imported 18,000 tonnes of semi-processed beans from Vietnam in 2010
at a cost of $38 million, and slightly less in 2011, though no figures
for that year are available.

The state has leased abandoned plantations over the last few years to
hundreds of individuals to grow coffee and has nearly tripled the price
it pays farmers for their beans.

Millions of dollars have been poured into replanting most of the
country's 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) of plantations, which have
been neglected for decades, and improving processing facilities.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Cuba's second largest city without power, water after Sandy

Posted on Monday, 10.29.12

Cuba's second largest city without power, water after Sandy
Associated Press

HAVANA -- Residents of Cuba's second-largest city of Santiago remained
without power or running water Monday, four days after Hurricane Sandy
made landfall as the island's deadliest storm in seven years, ripping
rooftops from homes and toppling power lines.

Across the Caribbean, the storm's death toll rose to 69, including 52
people in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican
Republic, one in Jamaica and one in Puerto Rico.

Cuban authorities have not yet estimated the economic toll, but the
Communist Party newspaper Granma reported there was "severe damage to
housing, economic activity, fundamental public services and institutions
of education, health and culture."

Yolanda Tabio, a native of Santiago, said she had never seen anything
like it in all her 64 years: Broken hotel and shop windows, trees blown
over onto houses, people picking through piles of debris for a scrap of
anything to cover their homes. On Sunday, she sought solace in faith.

"The Mass was packed. Everyone crying," said Tabio, whose house had no
electricity, intermittent phone service and only murky water coming out
of the tap on Monday. "I think it will take five to ten years to
recover. ... But we're alive."

Sandy came onshore early Thursday just west of Santiago, a city of about
500,000 people in agricultural southeastern Cuba. It is the island's
deadliest storm since 2005's Hurricane Dennis, a category 5 monster that
killed 16 people and did $2.4 billion in damage. More than 130,000 homes
were damaged by Sandy, including 15,400 that were destroyed, Granma said.

"It really shocked me to see all that has been destroyed and to know
that for many people, it's the effort of a whole lifetime," said Maria
Caridad Lopez, a media relations officer at the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese in Santiago. "And it disappears in just three hours."

Lopez said several churches in the area collapsed and nearly all
suffered at least minor damage. That included the Santiago cathedral as
well as one of the holiest sites in Cuba, the Sanctuary of the Virgin
del Cobre. Sandy's winds blew out its stained glass windows and damaged
its massive doors.

"It's indescribable," said Berta Serguera, an 82-year-old retiree whose
home withstood the tempest but whose patio and garden did not. "The
trees have been shredded as if with a saw. My mango only has a few
branches left, and they look like they were shaved."

On Monday, sound trucks cruised the streets urging people to boil
drinking water to prevent infectious disease. Soldiers worked to remove
rubble and downed trees from the streets. Authorities set up radios and
TVs in public spaces to keep people up to date on relief efforts,
distributed chlorine to sterilize water and prioritized electrical
service to strategic uses such as hospitals and bakeries.

Enrique Berdion, a 45-year-old doctor who lives in central Santiago,
said his small apartment building did not suffer major damage but he had
been without electricity, water or gas for days.

"This was something I've never seen, something extremely intense, that
left Santiago destroyed. Most homes have no roofs. The winds razed the
parks, toppled all the trees," Berdion said by phone. "I think it will
take years to recover."

Raul Castro, who toured Cuba's hardest-hit regions on Sunday, warned of
a long road to recovery.

Granma said the president called on the country to urgently implement
"temporary solutions," and "undoubtedly the definitive solution will
take years of work."

Venezuela sent nearly 650 of tons of aid, including nonperishable food,
potable water and heavy machinery both to Cuba and to nearby Haiti,
which was not directly in the storm's path but suffered flash floods
across much of the country's south.

Across the Caribbean, work crews were repairing downed power lines and
cracked water pipes and making their way into rural communities marooned
by impassable roads. The images were similar from eastern Jamaica to the
northern Bahamas: Trees ripped from the ground, buildings swamped by
floodwaters and houses missing roofs.

Fixing soggy homes may be a much quicker task than repairing the
financial damage, and island governments were still assessing Sandy's
economic impact on farms, housing and infrastructure.

In tourism-dependent countries like Jamaica and the Bahamas, officials
said popular resorts sustained only superficial damage, mostly to

Haiti, where even minor storms can send water gushing down hills denuded
of trees, listed a death toll of 52 as of Monday and officials said it
could still rise. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has described the storm
as a "disaster of major proportions."

In Jamaica, where Sandy made landfall first on Wednesday as a Category 1
hurricane, people coped with lingering water and power outages with
mostly good humor.

"Well, we mostly made it out all right. I thought it was going to be
rougher, like it turned out for other places," laborer Reginald Miller
said as he waited for a minibus at a sunbaked Kingston intersection.

In parts of the Bahamas, the ocean surged into coastal buildings and
deposited up to six feet of seawater. Sandy was blamed for two deaths on
the archipelago off Florida's east coast, including a British bank
executive who fell off his roof while trying to fix a window shutter and
an elderly man found dead beneath overturned furniture in his flooded,
low-lying home.


Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana, David McFadden in
Kingston, Jamaica, and Jeff Todd in Nassau, Bahamas, contributed to this

Peter Orsi is on Twitter:

For many, Fidel Castro is already dead

Posted on Monday, 10.29.12

For many, Fidel Castro is already dead

For 53 years, the Cuban exile community in South Florida and other parts
of the world has been combating the Castro brothers and their
totalitarian system of government. We have been fighting what seems to
be, at times, an endless battle. A struggle we live each day over a café
Cubano or by reminiscing with our grandparents about the Cuba of the past.

In the past several weeks my colleagues and I at the Institute for Cuban
and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, have been
overwhelmed by the media asking for our reaction to the rumors that
Fidel Castro is dead. For many of us Fidel died a long time ago. He is
irrelevant, a symbol of the past.

The first generation of Cuban exiles that arrived in Miami in the 1960s
was the generation of my parents. They left everything behind in pursuit
of freedom. They had to start all over again. They struggled to make
ends meet in a new land with a different language and culture. But they
never forgot their homeland.

More than a half century has passed and the Cuban exile community along
with other exile groups that left their homelands for similar reasons
have built a world-class city called Miami. As a friend told me the
other day, "To understand the world, you must live in Miami first."

The many sacrifices my parents' generation made have given my generation
and that of my daughters the freedom that 11.2 million Cubans on the
island do not have. We are proud to be Cuban Americans living in the
greatest country in the world.

Very few of us will return to live in Cuba. Some of us might buy a
retirement home and live there for several months once Cuba is free.
Many of us will return to help our brothers and sisters rebuild a
country destroyed by political greed. However, for most of us, the
United States is home. The home of our children and our grandchildren.
The home where many of our parents are buried without seeing Cuba free.
We will do everything to protect the words in the U.S. Constitution and
Bill of Rights, which grant us so many freedoms. The same freedom so
many Cubans on the island thirst for.

In reality, we won! The Cuban Revolution failed. We do not need to
continue to react to Cuba's propaganda machine. We are not "Miami's
Mafia," as the Castro brothers often refer to us. We are a proud
Cuban-American community and citizens of the United States living in a
free and democratic society. We should concentrate our efforts on the
future of Cuba and its people.

When talking to Cubans on the island during my last trip seven months
ago for the pope's visit, I found that most of them no longer believe or
support Marxist ideology. They care very little about politics. The
revolution that promised them so much has failed to deliver and yet they
are asked each day by the government to make more sacrifices in the name
of socialism. As one young woman told me, "I want to leave, anywhere but
Cuba. I want a better future. I want to taste freedom".

As Cuban Americans we want Cuba to be free. However, the reality is that
a democratic system of government will not be built in one day and far
less the transformation of human values and attitudes to support a
vibrant civil society. It will take time.

So as we prepare to elect the next president of the United States, let's
not ever forget those on the island that fight each day for freedom. Let
us continue to fight for them. But let us also recognize that we won!
The Castro brothers lost!

Andy Gomez is a senior fellow at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cuban man still imprisoned, parents harassed - Amnesty International

Document - Cuban man still imprisoned, parents harassed

Further information on UA: 92/12 Index: AMR 25/025/2012 Cuba Date: 26
October 2012


cuban man still imprisoned, parents harassed

Prisoner of conscience Antonio Michel Lima Cruz was released from prison
in Cuba on 24 October. His brother Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz, also a
prisoner of conscience, still has a minimum 10 months to serve. Their
parents continue to be harassed.

On 24 October, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz was released from La Ladrillera
prison in the eastern province of Holguín, having completed his
sentence. He and brother Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz had been detained on
25 December 2010 at their home in Holguín. They had been playing songs
by a Cuban hip-hop group, whose lyrics criticize the lack of freedom of
expression in Cuba; they also danced in front of their house whilst
holding the Cuban flag. Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Máiquel Lima
Cruz were sentenced to two and three years in prison respectively for
"insulting symbols of the homeland" (ultraje a los símbolos de la
pátria) and "public disorder" (desórdenes públicos). It is believed that
their imprisonment was politically motivated, making them prisoners of

Their parents Marco Antonio Lima Dalmao and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo have
been subjected to constant harassment – including frequent short-term
arbitrary detention – in relation to their peaceful activities as
government critics. A group of approximately 10 police officers and 10
officials from the Department of State Security forced their way into
the parents' home on 11 August without a warrant. They were both
arrested and had materials confiscated, including laptops and mobile
phones. During the arrest, Marcos Antonio Lima Dalmao, who has a history
of cardiac problems, started to experience chest pains and was taken
briefly to hospital before being transferred to the Department of State
Security's provincial headquarters (known as Pedernales) in Holguín
Province. Both he and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo were held without charge
until 15 August.

Two unknown individuals attempted to violently mug Marco Antonio Lima
Dalmao on 28 September as he was heading to a meeting with other
government critics, before fleeing as bystanders intervened. His wrist
was fractured in two places. Immediately following the incident he
became aware that he was being filmed from across the street by an
unknown individual on a motorcycle. He believes that the authorities had
been trying to capture footage of his involvement in a violent clash in
order to use it against him.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Calling on the Cuban authorities to release Marcos Máiquel Lima
Cruz immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience,
detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of

Calling on them to immediately cease the harassment of Marco
Antonio Lima Dalmao and Adisnidia Cruz Segreo, and all other citizens
who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and


Head of State and Government

Raúl Castro Ruz

Presidente de la República de Cuba

La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 83 33 085 (via Foreign Ministry); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)

Email: (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Attorney General

Dr. Darío Delgado Cura

Fiscal General de la República,
Fiscalía General de la República, Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella,
Centro Habana,

La Habana, Cuba

Salutation: Dear Attorney General

And copies to:

Interior Minister

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra

Ministro del Interior y Prisiones

Ministerio del Interior,
Plaza de la Revolución,
La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)


Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the first update of UA 92/12. Further information:


cuban man still imprisoned, parents harassed
ADditional Information

Antonio Michel Lima Cruz was due to be released on 25 December, but was
given an early release due to a policy which grants prisoners a
two-month reduction in their sentence every year for "good conduct"
("buena conducta"), applicable after one year in prison. This means that
Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz may be released on 25 August 2013.

Antonio Michel Lima Cruz was incarcerated at La Ladrillera prison in
Holguín Province, where his brother Marcos Máiquel is still held.
Following his release, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz told Amnesty
International that he continues to suffer from prostate problems, which
began during the six months he and his brother were held in pre-trial
detention in Pedernales where he received no medical attention. During
his time at La Ladrillera, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz said that he did not
receive sufficient medical treatment and the medication he was provided
with was not effective, forcing him to depend on medication supplied by
family and supporters.

Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz are members of the
Cuban Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs (Consejo de Relatores de
Derechos Humanos de Cuba) – an island-wide umbrella group of
organizations – and the Republican Youth Impact Movement (Movimiento
Impacto Juvenil Republicano). Both organizations have been denied
official recognition, which is the case for all groups deemed to be
critical of the government. The brothers are both independent
journalists and were co-founders of the online newspaper Candonga, which
was closed by the Cuban authorities in 2009.

Marco Antonio Lima Dalmao is the Holguín Province coordinator of the
organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU),
an umbrella group of Cuban dissident organizations operating in and
around the province of Santiago de Cuba, which seeks democratic change
by non-violent means. Adisnidia Cruz Segreo is a member of the Ladies in
White, a movement that campaigns for the release of political prisoners
and for the lifting of restrictions on fundamental civil and political
freedoms in Cuba. Both are regularly arbitrarily detained for short
periods. Adisnidia Cruz Segreo was held without charge for several hours
on 21 October to prevent her from attending mass with other Ladies in
White. Marco Antonio Lima Dalmao was last detained on 13 October when he
was arrested on the street and held for five hours before being released
without charge.

Name: Antonio Michel Lima Cruz (m), Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz (m), Marco
Antonio Lima Dalmao (m), Adisnidia Cruz Segreo (f)

Gender m/f: both

Further information on UA: 92/12 Index: AMR 25/025/2012 Issue Date: 26
October 2012

Cuban Baseball: Open the Gate

Cuban Baseball: Open the Gate / Ivan Garcia
Ivan Garcia, Translator: JT

As a result of the next baseball season, the State press and fans have
unleashed a debate, looking to raise the level of ball played on the
island. There were more than 170 proposals to design a new competitive

In a meeting with the national press, the Cuban Federation let it be
known how the next tournament will be structured. The league will open
on 25 November in José Ramón Cepero Stadium with a matchup between the
present champions, Ciego de Ávila and the runner-up Industriales.
Sixteen sides will participate, one for each province plus the special
municipality Isla de la Juventud. The Metropolitanos team is eliminated,
with their 38 years of history in the local classic.

The schedule will consist of two stages. In the first, 45 games will be
played in a round-robin to find the best 8 teams. The sides that go on
to the next round will be able to draft up to five players from the
teams that didn't qualify. This phase will be of 42 games. In two
playoffs of the best of seven, the four winners will play for the
national championship.

It might be that the old structure of 4 divisions and two zones, East
and West, was already inadequate. In the last twelve years, the level of
baseball has declined a lot. The problem isn't about a team. Many
remain. The keys to elevating the quality of play happens to have a new
structure. But the worst evil isn't that of structure.

The design of the Cuban baseball system used to work. It was a pyramid
of skills that included little league, Pony leagues, Youths, and
provincial series, culminating in the national classic.

Sports schools perfected and trained the best talent nominated by
coaches. Afterwards the harvest was brought in. Until 2006, Cuba won
most of the International Baseball Federation's organized tournaments in
every one of its categories.

Now we barely win championships. And that worries fans and specialists.
In world tournaments of Pony or Youth Leagues, it's understandable. The
best talents of Asia and the United States take part. But at the highest
level, except for the Classics, those authentic discards with skills of
little caliber enroll for their respective countries.

In my opinion, there's a glaring error on the Federation's part. And it
is to implement changes thinking only about the national team. The
series on the island cannot be a satellite that circulates outside that
orbit. It must be independent. When the season has more quality, the
higher the level that will be achieved by the Cuban team.

What we're talking about is how to really raise the level of ball
played. The options are many. But all will happen by opening the gate
and allowing the best ball players to compete in foreign leagues. The
ideal would be to arrive at an agreement with the Major Leagues such
that Cuban players can sign contracts without having to abandon their

But current laws complicate the proceedings. As such, other destinations
would have to be chosen. Japan and South Korea, due to the high level of
their leagues, would be the best.

Another step that can't be overlooked is pay and material conditions for
the players. It's a failed subject. Local idols who were sometimes
Olympic champions got 300 convertible pesos — about 340 dollars — a
ridiculous amount for a first-rank sportsman; although in the difficult
economic conditions this country lives in, it's a 'fortune'.

An effort should be made so that players in the national series can earn
salaries greater than 3000 pesos ($130). The solution might be to raise
the price of tickets to stadiums from one peso to five, with part of the
proceeds distributed between players. Not equally. The regulars would
earn more. The extra class, much more. Local and foreign companies based
in Cuba, with its productions, could be sponsors.

It should not be possible that a national champion, as in the case of
the Industriales in 2010, should motivate its players through gifts of
cement shingles to repair the roofs of their houses, or microwave ovens,
defective on top of it.

The majority of Cuban ball players live in precarious conditions. Only a
handful of stars live in good houses or have cars. When they look at
their colleagues who've left the country, they know that playing in a
mediocre league they will earn enough to help their own and live decently.

Then they decide to leave. It's true that few reach the Big Leagues. But
they try to integrate themselves in whatever Caribbean, European, or
Asian league. Another big problem is the little attention paid by the
Federation to the farm systems that feed the national series.

Provincial tournaments of the big leagues are very short. Many games are
suspended for lack of balls, bats, and transportation. Ball players are
playing out of uniform and don't even have a snack. You have to love
baseball a lot to play in 92 (Fahrenheit) degree heat under these
conditions. To this, add that the official press barely covers them —
they're almost clandestine.

In the lower categories, the evil is worse. The fields are true potato
fields. The quality of the balls and equipment is terrible. In the
stands we'll find parents, loaded down with lunches and snacks for their
kids. When a boy decides to play baseball, his parents have to buy his
equipment in hard currency. Cash must also be paid for the making of

On a radio sports show called Sports Tribune, on the capital's COCO
station, every night official honest journalists such as Yasser Porto,
Daniel Demala or Ivan Alonso go at it bare-knuckled, attacking the evils
that afflict Cuban baseball. And they offer solutions.

It's obvious that their claims have fallen on deaf ears. The COCO
journalists weren't invited to the last meeting where the announcement
was made about the structure of the next season.

The Federation is walking a tightrope. It doesn't wish, want or cannot,
address the theme with all of its artists. The solution offered is pure
makeup. Cuban baseball's difficulties won't be resolved in this manner,
nor will the ceiling of competence be raised, because it's not only a
problem of structure. There are many others.

Photo: Taken from The Cuban History. René Arocha, first ball player to
desert, 18 July 1991. Since then, more than 150 baseball players have
left Cuba and with major or minor success have managed to compete (or
still compete) in professional leagues in the United States, Canada,
Mexico and Caribbean countries, Europe and Asia, such as Rey Ordóñez,
Liván Hernández, José Ariel Contreras, Rolando Arrojo, Orlando "El
Duque" Hernández, Kendry Morales, Aroldis Chapman, Osvaldo Fernández,
Ariel Prieto, Alex Sánchez, Vladimir Núñez, Danny Báez, Michael Tejera,
Yuniesky Betancourt and Yoenis Céspedes, among others.

Translated by: JT

October 7 2012

Idle Human Capital

Idle Human Capital / Fernando Damaso
Fernando Damaso, Translator: Eduardo Alemán

In Cuba there are a ton of professionals and technicians who have
graduated from universities and who are not directly linked to
profitable enterprises, but to political, administrative and
bureaucratic tasks. In addition, due to recent drastic cuts in state
employment, there are thousands of them who are not working in their
professions. Since professional private practice is prohibited, in order
to survive, they have taken jobs as artisans, taxi drivers, cooks,
peddlers, vegetable vendors, lighting repairmen, etcetera. The
government's low salaries and poor working conditions are a
disincentive. That is how many well-educated and experienced citizens
have been lost, falling through the cracks, as though they were expendable.

We can, without any doubt, assert that there is a large amount of human
capital that is being underutilized and that has no chance of
professional or self-realization in this country. Add to this the new
graduates who every year try to enter the labor force but cannot find a
job commensurate with their education, making the situation even more
tense and difficult.

For this reason, the travel restrictions in the new immigration law that
apply to this section of the population, and that according to the
government are necessary in order to combat brain drain, are not at all
understood. It would be as if a potato farmer, having had a good
harvest, did not consume his potatoes or let others buy them, leaving
them in the open to spoil.

Our authorities have a dog-in-the-manger attitude. Only in this case we
are not talking about potatoes or dogs, but people, whose lives are now
curtailed due to the enforcement of a feudal state mentality. Instead of
providing a solution to the emigration problem, the newly approved
measures add fuel to the fire through the accumulation of idle human
capital that will escape, one way or another, in an attempt to achieve

Since those who will have less of a hard time leaving or travelling are
retired people and the less educated – citizens who are the least
attractive to host countries – Cuban authorities will be able to say
that, while they issue thousands of passports, the ones who do not issue
visas are other countries, making it seem as if the they are not the
ones obstructing emigration, but others. Another manipulative twist, one
of many to which we have become accustomed. Give it time!

Translated by Eduardo Alemán

October 26 2012

Cuba defers military drills due to hurricane

Cuba defers military drills due to hurricane
IANSBy Indo Asian News Service | IANS – 8 hours ago

Havana, Oct 29 (IANS) Cuba has postponed a nationwide military drill
after the destructive Hurricane Sandy caused 11 deaths and millions of
dollars in damage in the island country, state-run daily Juventud
Rebelde said Sunday.

The Bastion 2012 Strategic Exercise, the largest national military drill
in the past three years, would be rescheduled from late November to
sometime in the first half of 2013, Cuban leader Raul Castro said at an
emergency session of the Council of Ministers.

Castro said what was needed now was to "make a detailed plan for the
recovery of the regions (affected by the hurricane) and make a
collection of all the resources they may need", reported Xinhua.

He called on his officials to "make every effort to restore the affected
areas to normalcy as quickly as possible".

This was not the first time that Cuba postponed military exercises after
being hit by hurricanes. It had postponed the last large-scale national
army drill from November 2008 to November 2009 due to three devastating

Officials said preliminary figures showed the late-season Sandy
hurricane has killed 11 people and caused more than $2 billion in losses
in Cuba, becoming the second most devastating cyclone to hit the island
country in the past 50 years after Dennis claimed 16 lives in July 2005.

Sandy has destroyed substantial rural tourism infrastructure along the
state's coast and mountainous regions, including hotels, mountaintop
campsites and cabins, authorities said Sunday.

Tourism, Cuba's second-biggest foreign currency earner, draws nearly 3
million international travellers annually.

On Sunday, Castro toured some hurricane-affected areas in Cuba,
including the central provinces of Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus,
local media said.

"We are going to do our utmost in every sense... we are going to
organize a collection of everything we can, of all types of resources,"
he said, referring to government aid to the worst-hit areas.

Sandy Damaged over 150,000 Homes in Cuba

Sandy Damaged over 150,000 Homes in Cuba
October 28, 2012

Repairs in Holguin from the devastating 2008 Hurricane Ike were still
continuing when Hurricane Sandy struck last Thursday.

HAVANA TIMES — While the magnitude of the damage from Hurricane Sandy is
still being compiled preliminary government reports show widespread
devastation in Santiago de Cuba and Holguin.

In Santiago, where Sandy entered Cuba from the south, the local
authorities reported on Saturday that 132,733 homes, apartments and
other buildings were damaged, of those 15,322 were considered totally
destroyed. Over 43,000 of the homes lost part or all of the roofs.

In Holguin, the province from where Sandy left Cuba in route to The
Bahamas and the USA, an estimated 17,000 homes were damaged, 1,800
totally destroyed and 3,000 without roofs.

There were also many homes damaged in Guantanamo province.

Electric service is still out in many parts of the affected region and
hundreds of electric workers from other parts of the country have joined
in the effort to restore energy as quickly as possible.

Over a thousand four hundred schools and nearly four hundred health
facilities were damaged by the storm's 105 mph winds, reported
government authorities.

What Do the Police Do?

What Do the Police Do?
October 28, 2012
Warhol P.

HAVANA TIMES — I was cutting through the main square in the Havana
suburb of Marianao, a place known because they sell food there, and I
stopped at one of the state-run businesses.

They were selling soda crackers in large plastic bags for 50 pesos
(about $2 USD). To me this seemed kind of expensive, especially seeing
as how almost all of the crackers were crushed, but since crackers are
my favorite snack, I still decided to get in line.

Shortly after things started to go crazy. At least two dozen shouting
women took over the scene some saying they had already marked a place in
line. there started shouting when it seemed that someone was trying to
cut in line. Two police officers then showed up and positioned
themselves next to the establishment.

Shortly afterwards, the clerks began pulling out the packages of
crackers from behind the counter. One woman left with ten bags, and
another with twenty. Some people protested but it was all in vain; the
supposed authority figures simple observed the disorder and laughed when
they saw everyone jostling each other around, desperate to get their
hands on the products.

Another woman, who I've seen reselling products there in the square, was
walking away loaded with bags. Among the shouting and shoving, I looked
at the police, who knew all too well what was going to soon happen to
those crackers.

I spent about 45 minutes in line, enduring the sun and of course trying
to reach the counter, but I obviously didn't. I managed to get close,
but not close enough, because during my attempt all of the crackers were
sold out.

It was all due to the process not being organized properly. So who's to

I guess that all of us are guilty to some degree.

Firstly, there were those people who were selling the product. If they
had limited the sales to one bag per person, many more people would have
been served.

In second place there were us buyers, who didn't realize how savagely we
were acting, and that for a handful of crackers we were capable of
offending and attacking each other (I don't want to imagine the
barbarism that would have been displayed had the product been beef).

Thirdly, there were the police, who acted only as decorative objects
given that they were supposed to have been on duty. Actually, right now
I don't know what the real purpose of the revolutionary police is, given
their attitudes, I can't trust them.

The whole thing was even more difficult to accept when after the sales
of the crackers you could find people in every corner of the square
reselling those same crackers (my favorite snack) at 100 pesos a package.

For me, 100 pesos was way too much, so I chose to go home and write this
article. At least this would help me to vent. This way I'm less likely
to end up with an ulcer or a cerebral ischemia.

I'm sure that the resellers in the square will continue pulling their
same old tricks, and that the police will continue to show up there,
killing time, helping those people hustle without much effort. In fact,
many of the products sold by state-run businesses end up being hoarded
and re-sold. This is how those people make their livings, at the expense
of working people.

I think we should do something about the issue of the Marianao square,
and also analyze what's happening with those who are supposed to ensure
that such situations don't occur?

Dirty Eggs for Ordinary Cubans

Dirty Eggs for Ordinary Cubans
October 26, 2012
Isbel Diaz Torres

HAVANA TIMES — The overwhelming majority of us Cubans, who are poor,
know that poor quality products are what are provided to us. This even
applies to chicken eggs – a major source of protein for the lower class
in this country. Most of the time they come to us still spotted with
droppings and feathers, in addition to being very small.

It's not that Cuban hens are particularly unclean; it's that the eggs
always end up in the same place as where the birds excrete their feces,
as is commonly known.

What adds to this, though, is that there seems to be a selection process
whereby the tiniest and dirtiest of these eggs are sent to the market
for purchase by the general population in national pesos (MN), while the
largest and cleanest go to the market that deals in hard-currency
convertible pesos (CUCs).

Recently, I made friends with a moderate-income Mexican woman who was
visiting the island for the first time so that she could see the
"revolutionary Cuba of Fidel," though she was on a bare bones budget for
her experience in "revolutionary" tourism. She told me that she was
surprised to find that Cuban chicken eggs were so small.

She had bought a carton of eggs, each of which was very dirty, in an
establishment in Centro Havana that sold its merchandise in national
pesos. To make matters worse, when we got to the place she was renting,
we discovered that they were full of worms, due to lack of refrigeration.

I explained to her that our chickens were no worse than those in the
rest of the world, and that to appreciate this fact all she needed to do
was go to a place that sold goods in CUCs, where the "upper classes" of
this country go to shop. There she would find eggs that were as large,
white and as clean as she wanted.

In any case, it's worth remembering all of the genetic manipulation
that's performed on chickens and/or their food to artificially increase
the body weight of these birds and the sizes of their parts.

Another friend, this time from Spain, commented to me that in his
country eggs are classified by size and whether or not they're organic,
which of course determines their final price. Cleanliness is something
that's taken for granted there.

Here, we also have various prices (with those bought through our ration
books being the lowest):
• Eggs bought through the ration book = 0.15 peso MN (each person can
buy five of these a month at a highly subsidized price)
• Additional eggs bought through the ration book = 0.90 peso MN (where
each person is also allowed to buy five per month)
• Eggs sold at unregulated markets = 1.50 peso MN
• Eggs sold at unregulated EJT markets* = 1.10 peso MN
• Eggs sold on the black market: 2.00 to 2.50 pesos MN
• Eggs sold in hard-currency markets = 0.15 CUC (equivalent to 3.60
pesos MN)

Nor can we forget the eggs received by members of the Revolutionary
Armed Forces (FAR) and the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). In
addition to these people's relatively high salaries, their regularly
received incentive payments, and their leisure and recreational perks,
these members of the Cuban military receive an additional allocation of
10 eggs for 0.15 peso MN each, and they can buy eggs for sale on the
unregulated market for .50 pesos MN each.

The funny thing is that none of the prices in MN are determined by
quality of the product (though I'm not sure about the quality of those
going to the military) or by supply/demand or by prices on the
international market. Instead, their cost is determined by an outdated
bureaucratic model that at some point in history attempted to subsidize
basic staples (or basic individuals… such as members of the military).

I still remember my childhood, when a carton of 10 eggs cost 1 peso MN.
Some kids would even buy them to throw at passersby from the roof of
their buildings (a practice that was perhaps learned by small children
and later used in the egg-throwing attacks on the traitorous "scum" that
abandoned the country in the 1970s).

I should take this opportunity to explain that right now the play
"Huevos" (Eggs) is being put on in the capital at the Adolfo Llaurado
Theater in Vedado. It's very well done; I even cried when a young man on
stage returned to hug his grandmother, who he hadn't been able to say
goodbye to twenty years earlier, when he left the island under a hail of
eggs and insults from his neighbors.

With all of this, in addition to the injuries of the soul, we poor are
left with these dirty eggs each month, which reminds us of the place we
occupy on the social scale today.

* EJT: "Ejercito Juvenil del Trabajo" (English: Youth Labor Army),
farmers markets supplied by companies that are run by the military and
that sell produce for lower prices than other establishments. These are
accessible to the general public but are located in relatively "upscale"
residential areas.

As Hurricane Sandy devastates Cuba, bloggers rise to the challenge

As Hurricane Sandy devastates Cuba, bloggers rise to the challenge
Posted by Max Fisher on October 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

Cuban bloggers are showing surprising initiative in responding to
Hurricane Sandy, which has killed 11 and caused significant damage since
making landfall there on Thursday. It's still not clear how costly the
storm will be for Cuba, but 2005′s Hurricane Dennis caused $2.4 billion
in damage, about 6 percent of GDP. This week's hurricane crisis is
allowing bloggers to assert their value in a country that does not
always welcome them.

It's not easy to be a blogger in Cuba. According the annual Freedom
House report on Internet freedom, released last month, Cuban Web freedom
is the second worst in the world, after Iran, out of the 47 nations
surveyed. Bloggers can face "extralegal detentions, intimidation, and
occasional beatings." The report adds, "An estimated 1,000 bloggers
recruited by the government have disseminated damaging rumors about the
personal lives of the island's influential independent bloggers." Only
about 5 percent of Cubans have intermittent access to the Internet, as
opposed to the state-run intranet.

Even the small community of Cuban bloggers has been at times divided by
infighting. In May, what was supposed to be a national meeting of
bloggers devolved into controversy over two admittedly difficult
questions: should the pro-government "within-system" bloggers invite
more critical "dissident" bloggers, and, as one blogger asked, "how can
one be critical in Cuba without being considered a dissident?"

The past week, though, has seen Cuba's bloggers spearheading coverage of
Hurricane Sandy's impact. Leading the charge has been Havana Times, an
independent blog that says it represents "the voice of Cuban youth." It
has expanded on official damage assessments and reported damage to
17,000 homes in a single northeastern province, where reconstruction
work from a 2008 hurricane is still "pending," meaning that homes were
especially susceptible. In an impassioned Sunday post, a Havana Times
blogger praised the volunteers and government workers poring over the
"trail of destruction," but bemoaned the blocked roads, still-down
electric and telephone services, and shortage of drinking water. "The
sight of women, elderly individuals and children sifting through debris
to salvage whatever was left of their belongings was simply
heartbreaking," he wrote. The post concluded by asking for help with
collecting and transporting donations.

Cuban diaspora blogger Marc Masferrer is aggregating social media from
within the eastern town of Santiago de Cuba, including tweets from the
ground and powerful photos of the devastation.

Havana-based blogger Yoani Sánchez (via Global Voices) used the storm to
call attention to the challenges already facing the economically
depressed regions of eastern Cuba. Emphasis is mine:

Thursday morning will never be forgotten by thousands of people in
Eastern Cuba. The wind, flying roofs, heavy rains and trees falling on
streets and houses, will remain as permanent memories of Hurricane
Sandy. Nor will they be able to get out of their heads that first night
after the disaster in which, from their battered beds or rickety sofas,
they found nothing separating their faces from the starry night sky.

Some people lost everything, which was not much. People from whom
the gale took the modest possessions they'd accumulated over their whole
lives. A human drama extended over this area already affected beforehand
by material shortages, constant migration westward, and the outbreaks of
diseases like dengue fever and cholera. For the victims it rains and it
pours, literally and metaphorically. Nature intensifies the economic
collapse and social problems of this region of the country.

She concluded by calling for action from the government and "solidarity"
from citizens to push for post-Sandy reforms that would help protect
from the next storm. Her proposals are strikingly free market-oriented,
including reduced custom duties for food imports, reduced taxes on small
businesses, and allowing privately run relief organizations to
supplement government efforts. It's hard to foresee Havana allowing any
of these, but maybe this is the point, as Sánchez's criticisms
implicitly highlight the central government's weaknesses and inability
to follow through on its revolutionary promises.

Still, even as the hurricane made landfall last week, bloggers seemed
more preoccupied with the country's loosening visa laws, which will
allow easier foreign travel, and with esoteric intra-activist squabbles.
It's easy to see why these would be topics of particular concern for the
young, Web-savvy, and often government-abused bloggers. But it's a
reminder of the degree to which activist-blogger communities — including
those in, say, Egypt — can end up talking mostly to one another rather
than to their countries' larger, less Web-focused majorities.

Cuba and Haiti struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy

Posted on Sunday, 10.28.12

Hurricane Sandy

Cuba and Haiti struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy

In the two hard-hit countries, where Hurricane Sandy caused 66 deaths,
residents are coping with life without electricity and water. In
Santiago de Cuba alone, some 137,000 homes were damaged.

Even before Hurricane Sandy tore through Santiago de Cuba last week, a
humble wood-frame church called San Pedrito was living on borrowed time
with beams ravaged by termites and an ancient tin roof that let in the rain.

But San Pedrito crumbled Thursday as Sandy's 115 mph winds ripped Cuba's
second largest city. "It is totally on the ground, but we were able to
recover the statue of Our Lady, the crucifix and the bell,'' said the
Rev. Luis del Castillo, a retired Uruguayan bishop who now works in Cuba.

There is scarcely any area of Santiago that was left unscathed. Photos
show neighborhoods that look like trash piles of construction materials
with wood beams tossed like toothpicks and tin roofs and tiles scattered
on the ground. Walls of some homes lean at crazy angles or tilt toward
streets still littered with huge trees.

As Sandy bore down on the U.S. East Coast on Sunday, the two hardest hit
Caribbean nations — Cuba and Haiti — concentrated on trying to put
together what Sandy tore apart.

In Cuba, where the death toll stood at 11, state-run media reported that
137,000 homes in Santiago were damaged, including 43,000 that lost their
roofs and at least 15,000 that collapsed. Government estimates pegged
losses at 2.1 billion pesos ($2.1 billion at the official rate Cuba uses
for imports and $87.5 million using the exchange rate for everyday
purchases in Cuba). But that figure is expected to rise when losses from
tourism, the sugar industry and other sectors are added in.

In Holguín province where Sandy exited Cuba, the Cuban News Agency said
that 17,000 homes suffered damage and there were significant losses to
crops and livestock. The municipalities of Mayari, Banes, Antilla,
Rafael Freyre, Baguano, Urbano Noris, Sagua de Tanamo and Cueto were
among the hardest hit.

But Sandy also brought driving rain, which caused severe flooding in the
central Cuba provinces of Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus. Cuban leader
Raúl Castro visited them Saturday and has said he intends to travel to
eastern Cuba as well.

"We can say that we have had a great hurricane in the east and a small
'Flora' (a destructive 1964 hurricane) in the center of the country,"
said Castro, according to the state-run National Information Agency.

Haitian President Michel Martelly also was on the streets of his
devastated country over the weekend, personally handing out aid kits.

Hundreds of residents from the Jalousie slum crowded a Petionville
street mid-afternoon Sunday for the arrival of Martelly and a truck
carrying the kits, which included candles, spaghetti and other foodstuffs.

In Haiti, 51 people were reported dead and 15 missing. More than 200,000
people were homeless and nearly 17,200 people had been placed in
shelters. The government was serving hot meals and handing out $25 cash
vouchers to shelter residents in the city of Les Cayes in southwest Haiti.

Damages were still being tallied Sunday and the death toll could rise.

Officials from Les Anglais, a small coastal village in southern Haiti,
told a local radio station they feared homes may have washed out to sea.
The road to the village remains impassable.

Another concern in Haiti is that cholera cases may increase. The
International Organization for Migration reported that 16 new cases had
already been recorded since Sandy's pass.

In Cuba, residents described how people were coping with the aftermath
of the hurricane that came ashore on a beach southwest of Santiago and
swept north across the eastern part of the island.

The Army has been clearing the streets and removing trees that have
toppled electrical poles and wires, but most of the city remains without
power, water or telephone service, said del Castillo, who was reached
via an Internet connection over the weekend.

State-run media said that electricity had been restored to about 80
percent of those who lost power in Holguín, but restoration was proving
more complicated in Santiago where 72 work brigades from around the
country were working on returning electricity.

"The churches in Santiago are in very bad shape — some are just rubble;
others have lost their roofs,'' said del Castillo. "We will celebrate
mass in the streets.''

For a country that was officially atheist until 1992, there was already
a shortage of churches and priests before Sandy hit. Now, del Castillo
said he expects the church's Casa del Misión (Mission House) program to
expand. Under the mission house concept, parish priests and nuns travel
a circuit to communities without priests and religious activities are
held in people's homes or makeshift facilities.

But he added, "The priority isn't the church buildings; it is the people.''

In a city known for its hospitality as well as for being the cradle of
the revolution, neighbors, even small children who are clearing
branches, have pitched in to help those with less, he said.

"People are just happy they're alive and they're concentrating on
rebuilding and how they can help each other,'' said del Castillo.

With windows smashed and without power, many stores are closed and food
supplies are difficult, he said. Those who have food are sharing with
neighbors and cooking on wood fires in the streets.

State-run media said the government was shipping in food, including
bread, from nearby provinces.

Some food, said del Castillo, also has begun to arrive via Caritas, the
Catholic relief organization in Cuba. Catholic Charities of the
Archdiocese of Miami is working with Caritas and Catholic Relief
Services to help those in the areas most affected by Sandy. It is
accepting monetary donations through its website ( but is
not calling for food donations at this point.

Schools have been closed since Thursday in Santiago and many that remain
intact are being used to house the homeless. Del Castillo said he has
two families that are staying at his church,

The first shipment of 12,000 roofs arrived in Santiago on Saturday via
train, according to the website of Sierra Maestra, a provincial newspaper.

The government said that was the first wave of shipments of some 84,000
roofs and 220,000 tons of cement expected to arrive in the province via
train and ship.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Blue Card

The Blue Card / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: BW, Translator: Unstated

There is not much that is new in the new immigration law. Nonetheless,
it has raised expectations among a wide swath of the population:
retirees, homemakers, students who have not gotten past the ninth grade,
the unemployed and the elderly, to cite a few.

In one paragraph, the much-publicized law mentions that medical
technicians are also subject to the burden of having to wait three years
from the date of a passport request or the extension of an existing
passport without regard for the time they have been out of the
workforce. This measure not only discourages the prospects for travel,
but—and to me this is the greater danger—it also discourages the desire
of people to continue with their studies. Once they have completed the
ninth grade, many abandon the classroom for good.

This has been going on for many years with respect to university
careers. Many quit before graduating, or simply never begin their
studies in the hope of being able to travel someday. The same thing is
happening is less specialized fields of study. This is leading and will
continue to lead to an even greater lowering of the country's
educational and technical standards, which have already been
significantly eroded.

Logically speaking, it remains to be seen whether or not those fortunate
enough to be granted a long-awaited passport will be approved for a visa
by the countries they hope to visit. In this way the Cuban government,
like Pontius Pilate, can wash its hands of the matter, placing the blame
on others as usual.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake. This new emigration law seems
more like a new, more-sophisticated Mariel, but one that is organized
and controlled by the state.

Translated by BW and Unstated

October 25 2012

Tempering News, Absorbing Shocks

Tempering News, Absorbing Shocks / Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado
Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado, Translator: Boston College CASA

The case of Angel Carromero Barrios rapidly lost relevance because of
the "atmospheric pressure" of the State. Like a tropical meteorological
event, its great intensity dissipated in the mediating and officializing
Cuban waters. Many know that in Cuba the State is the owner, the
editorialist, journalist, reporter, photographer, and censor of all
daily newspapers and journals that exist in the country, which pretty
much means that we only have one newspaper in the whole archipelago.

The news of the sentence against Carromero Barrios, whose judgement
became conclusive on October 5, was published on the night of October 15
in the news, and at dawn the next day (October 16th), the people were
surprised with the flexibilization of the law on immigration and travel.
For a dictatorship that had stepped on immigration, emigration and
travel rights–among other rights–of its citizenry, it was only logical
that the latter news trumped the first in the consciousness of the Cuban
people and the world.

Just like the date of the oral and public trial of Carromero–which was
programmed for a weekend (Friday), two days before the elections in
Venezuela–the master manipulators of this country's information, without
freedom of press, didn't wait even 24 hours to dictate a law-decree
which took about two years to come up with. Why didn't they wait a few
days? Let's remember that they similarly took advantage of the beginning
of the war with Iraq to begin the wave of arrests in March of 2003;
despite this, the world saw, repudiated and denounced this abominable
official strategy. Even if this results in speculation, there is a
chance that the new immigration/travel law was devised with this purpose
in mind–in the period understood between accident and sanction–but for
others, it was much more important to wait.

Anyway, they spend so many years in power repeating the same — or
similar — course of action, that most of the world guesses the move
before it is made. It is true that they are astute and have several
master's degree in the selection of time, place and the opportune moment
— it is a 50-year-old specialization — but they are not good poker
players. The feeble and recently debuted migratory modification does not
vindicate the Cuban diaspora as part of our people, their rights
violated for decades.

Nevertheless, once more they stimulate the rich foreign investors to
obtain real estate here, encourage investors generally and tourist
visitors from the United States particularly, to focus their binoculars
and bring part of their capital to our soil. It is very likely that the
fateful economic situation of Cuban totalitarianism, and the claims of
continuity on the dynastic throne will make them hurry and commit
errors. In their economic hardships and customary refusals to "call a
spade a spade" in order to really resolve the country's problems, they
expose the effort to show anew image of the Cuban government in the face
of the closeness of the elections in the United States, probably to
lobby for a possible redesign of the politics of that government towards
ours. With the pretext they are trying to break the blockade, they take
years blocking the legitimate exercise of the rights of their citizens,
which is the same as flogging us because others hit them and they also
punish us for the same reason.

The "political tricks" propaganda, of making anorexic changes to
draconian laws, will have no credit or real impact on most of the
population,as long as they do not restore the rights that they have
violated and postponed, respecting the fundamental liberties of all
Cubans — from within and without Cuba — and democratize this society.
Such dirty tricks are bluffs that trick no one, and give less light.
Until now the proposed reforms are condemned to failure because of the
abusive and prolonged rigor of their own laws. They will have no
success, because many think that it has to do with the classic maneuver
of stalling for time.

It seems that they have bet on the United States' economic serum to
resolve the national disasters in which they have sunk us, like the
obligatory transfusion in the veins of the ruling class and its
prosperous family and stalwarts; not in those of the whole nation. I do
not know if the highest Cuban authorities really want to reestablish
relations with the US.; rather it seems that they want to normalize the
efforts to protect their interests and above all to guarantee their
continuity. Once more "they uncorked" an oblique tactical move– a crab
move — to fool the people of their own backyard and "enchant" the hungry
fish of other latitudes. But they don't catch big fish with small hooks,
much less, with worthless and petty baits.

Translated by: Boston College Cuban-American Student Association (BC CASA)

October 18 2012