Monday, June 30, 2014

Second boatload of Cuban migrants in 48 hours ordered off Cayman Islands

Second boatload of Cuban migrants in 48 hours ordered off Cayman Islands
Monday, 30 June 2014 - 11:30am IST | Place: Cayman Islands | Agency: Reuters

An open wooden boat carrying 34 Cuban migrants sought refuge at a dock
in the Cayman Islands on Sunday but was turned away, the second Cuban
migrant vessel to be rejected in a week.

Local law enforcement allowed the migrants to take on drinking water,
but no food, before ordering the group to depart immediately or be taken
into custody and repatriated to Cuba. Just a couple of days earlier,
another boat carrying 30 Cubans was ordered to leave the British territory.

The Cubans said they were mostly from the cities of Bayamo and
Manzanillo in eastern Cuba, and were headed for the coast of Central
America. Boats smuggling Cubans seeking to flee the communist-run island
are frequently seen off the Cayman Islands, located in the Caribbean
less than 100 miles (160 km) south of Cuba.

They are usually headed for Honduras, from where migrants make the long
journey overland to reach the US border with Mexico. Under the US
so-called "wet foot, dry foot policy," Cuban migrants who make it onto
United States soil are allowed to remain while those intercepted at sea
are turned back.

The oldest passenger, a 54 year-old who identified himself only as
Ariel, said he was a former chauffeur and decided to make the risky
voyage because of a lack of job opportunities in Cuba's weak economy.

Some of the refugees were allowed brief use of bathroom facilities on a
public beach at East End dock on Grand Cayman before returning to their
bench seats on the open 20-foot-long (6-meter-long) boat with an engine
but no sail, a faded Cuban flag hoisted in the rear and large inner
tubes serving as makeshift outriggers.

Another group of 30 Cubans spent almost two weeks drifting off the coast
of Grand Cayman before being given an ultimatum on Wednesday to depart
or be taken into custody and repatriated. Five Cubans chose to come
ashore and were detained, according to local officials. The rest
departed early on Friday.

Under an existing agreement between Cuba and the Cayman Islands
government, migrants who come ashore are usually repatriated. Cayman and
Cuban officials are due to meet later this year for delayed migration
talks. The current agreement, signed in 1999, says Cuban migrant boats
are allowed to pass through Cayman waters as long as they do not seek
any assistance.

Source: Second boatload of Cuban migrants in 48 hours ordered off Cayman
Islands | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis -

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cuban opposition is worried about post-Castro era

Posted on Saturday, 06.28.14

Cuban opposition is worried about post-Castro era
'What actually robs us of our sleep is . . . the reconstruction of our
national homeland,' a Cuban activist said.

The opposition in Cuba has a young leadership that fights for human
rights and is already thinking about the reconstruction of the country
in the near future, according to Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, president
of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation in

"Our own [Vaclav] Havel and [Lech] Walesa are there in Cuban society,"
Sánchez said during an interview in Miami with el Nuevo Herald.

"Their names are irrelevant because leaders emerge," he said. "There are
young leaders who are very charismatic in the opposition. I see them and
it's very encouraging."

Although the Cuban internal opposition has been extremely persecuted and
its accomplishments have been limited, Sánchez said that it is "working
to dismantle the regime and is making gradual progress. What actually
robs us of our sleep is the post-Castro era, the reconstruction of our
national homeland."

"We have made progress reaching consensus," he said, and cited as an
example the meeting held by several opposition leaders Feb. 26 in
Madrid, where they demanded the unconditional release of all political
prisoners by the Cuban government, a halt to repression against
human-rights activists and compliance with the agreements of the
International Labor Organization on workforce and union rights. They
also demanded that all international agreements signed by Havana — such
as the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights — be respected.

Another new element cited by Sánchez is the plurality within the
opposition, though he indicated that the mainstream is liberal. "I will
always vote socialist, but that current is very discredited in Cuba," he

The Cuban government has always depicted the internal opposition in the
state media as "mercenary," accusing it of being funded by foreign
governments, and part of the population agrees with that. Sánchez said
it has been difficult for activists to defend themselves from such
"slander" since the government has a media monopoly.

Though the dissident acknowledged that the opposition received help from
"Europe, the United States and to a certain extent from South America,"
he said that this was normal and that the "Cuban government itself has
spent its whole life receiving foreign funds that it uses to make the
Cubans miserable."

Sánchez, who was a member of the former Popular Socialist Party and
identifies himself as a "leftist man," said that for years he has not
worked on "political issues" in order to focus on human rights issues.

Following the model of the civil movements that developed in the former
Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, the Cuban opposition has focused on
reclaiming human and civil rights "because it's a very important topic
now and in the transition that has already started," said Sánchez, who
also mentioned his efforts toward national reconciliation.

Sánchez also said that the arbitrary detentions that the Commission for
Human Rights and National Reconciliation, known by its Spanish-language
acronym CCDHRN, reports every month have increased because "the
repression has grown, together with people's discontent and
hopelessness. There is an iceberg of discontent whose visible part is
the growing movement of non-violent resistance."

According to Sánchez, "Thirty years ago the number of open, active
dissidents on the streets were barely 10; now we are thousands," but he
pointed out that those numbers are lower than potential migrants. "The
people are just thinking of leaving," he said.

The Commission also presents periodically a list of political prisoners,
which now contains 114 names, of which 80 are peaceful dissidents,
according to the report. Also on the list are former diplomats, state
security agents, and Alan Gross, an American sentenced for taking
technology to the Jewish community in Cuba to help it access the
Internet by satellite.

The list also contains eight inmates who attempted to bring weapons from
Florida to Cuba between 1991 and 2001. They received prison sentences of
25 to 30 years.

Sánchez said this was a controversial issue, since the Cuban government
considers them terrorists and some European governments question the use
of force. Yet "in the end, they are still political prisoners, armed
opposition activists. That's how Fidel Castro took power, and in Cuba,
using arms to topple governments is almost a tradition," he said.

In its report on human rights in Cuba for 2013, Amnesty International
corroborated the Commission's report on the practice of brief arrests
adopted by Cuban authorities to prevent opposition members from meeting
or attending a planned event. But only seven prisoners of conscience
were included that year on the organization's list.

Sánchez said he would continue to insist that Amnesty International
include more prisoners "who never used force or violence, especially
those who belong to the Patriotic Union of Cuba."

About the reform driven by Raúl Castro's government, Sánchez said the
changes are "limited, too late and too little." They are administrative
changes, not structural, merely designed to "buy time," he said.

"I don't believe there is a clear idea about a way out at the end of
Fidelism and Raulism," he concluded. "Castroism will not survive,
because when a caudillo [military-political leader] dies, the ideology
also dies."

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter @ngameztorres

Source: Cuban opposition is worried about post-Castro era - Miami-Dade - -

Google Chairman Visits Cuba

Google Chairman Visits Cuba / 14ymedio
Posted on June 28, 2014

The purpose of the visit is "to promote the virtues of a free and open

14ymedio, Havana, 28 June 2014 – For two days several representatives of
the giant Google, including its executive chairman, paid an official
visit to Cuba. With the objective "to promote the virtues of a free and
open Internet," four well-known faces of the American company held
meetings with the official sector and also with the alternative scene
dedicated to technology and the digital world.

Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter, Dan Keyserling and Eric Schmidt – the
latter Google's executive chairman – met with young people at the
polytechnic schools, and this Saturday they toured the University of
Information Sciences (UCI). On Friday night they also contacted the
editors and reporters of our digital daily 14ymedio.

The visit took months of preparation and was the first time a
representative of Google had come to Havana to talk about technology and
access to the Internet. In 2013, Eric Schmidt mentioned his desire to
visit the Island in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. At that
time he said he would like to visit the Island to promote the free flow
of thought via the Internet and noted that Cuba was "at the top of the
list" of his priorities.

During the official program, the visitors were able to see the desire of
young people for more open access to the web. They also felt encouraged
by the technological and computer science potential on the Island,
although it is very limited right now because of problems with Internet

In 2011, a fiber optic cable was installed between Cuba and Venezuela to
facilitate access to the Internet. Three years after the cable
installation was completed there is still no home access to the world
wide web and one hour's connection from a public place costs a third of
a month's salary.

The hope of many Cubans lies in the possibilities of connecting through
Google's balloon-based Project Loon, which will bring the Internet to
several areas of the planet. However, the installation of these balloons
must be approved and authorized by local authorities, a difficult hurdle
in the case of Cuba.

Source: Google Chairman Visits Cuba / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -

Google Comes to Havana!

Google Comes to Havana! / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
Posted on June 28, 2014

Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 28 June 2014 – Have you ever tried to explain
Google to someone who doesn't know what it is? This happened to me a few
days ago with a neighbor girl, barely 10, who asked me, "What's a search
engine?" I didn't want to get deep into technology so I didn't tell her
anything about the algorithm these services use to organize information,
nor did I talk about the "spiders" that travel the entire web to search
sites, and much less of the race for positions on their lists, which
obsesses so many. Instead, I explained it to her with a reference she
could understand: "Google is like the magic mirror in fairy tales. You
can ask it what you want and it will give you thousands of possible

Last night, Google knocked on our door. This isn't a metaphor, the
searcher came to find us. There were several representatives of the most
popular of the search engines, peering into our lives and work. Faced
with them, we couldn't resort to so-called text tags, "keywords" and
strict page ranks. These were human being, giving big hugs, laughing and
curiously exploring the home of our technological inventions and our
hairless dog. Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter and Dan Keyserling
cheerfully climbed to the fourteenth floor of our building and shared
with us our journalistic endeavor lacking in Internet, but with a strong
commitment to today's Cuban reality.

I asked if they had connected to the web from any public place. "Slow,
very slow"… they explained. Then we started talking about the future,
their commitment to Cuban internauts, and the relief of knowing they
were aware of the information difficulties we are facing on the island.
Before that we had talked with Eric Schmidt and understood that
something of the sharpness of his eyes and the certainty of his words
could already be guessed in the simple wisdom of Google's homepage.

It was a technological night without technology. No one took out their
cellphones to check the web – it's not possible in Cuba – and it didn't
occur to anyone to show us the latest doodle, nor to tell us in figures
the scale of the company in which they work. We had the immense good
fortune of standing in front of the magic mirror, but we didn't ask
questions nor did we want answers, we just described who we are and
where we are going.

Source: Google Comes to Havana! / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez | Translating
Cuba -

The Debate over the Cuba Embargo and Adjustment Act

The Debate over the Cuba Embargo and Adjustment Act
June 28, 2014
Miguel Fernandez Diaz (Café Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba Poll 2014, a survey conducted by the Florida
International University (FIU), has caused a great media stir and
different factions within the Cuban community are venting their passions
as they set out to ratify or challenge the results.

Some of the most significant upshots include the fact that, in
Miami-Dade county, 52% of Cuban-born residents are against the US
blockade and 86% in favor of maintaining the Cuban Adjustment Act.

These conflicts are of a psychological nature: from the legal
standpoint, lifting the blockade that has been in effect since 1962 and
maintaining the Cuban Adjustment Act (passed in 1966) is impossible. It
is rather curious that even experts and analysts pour forth opinions
without grabbing this particular bull by the horns.

There are two legal foundations that ought to be at the center of the
debate and which are all too often neglected when people speculate about
the Cuban dilemma:

According to the Helms-Burton Act (passed in 1996), the president of the
United States can take measures to suspend the embargo if he believes
that a "Cuban transition government" has come to power and notifies the
pertinent committees of this following consultation with Congress. To
lift the embargo, the Cuban government would have to give way to one
that is "democratically elected" (as Section 204 establishes).

According to the Legal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibilities Reform
Act (1996), the Cuban Adjustment Act would be revoked if and only if the
"democratically elected government" demanded by the Helms-Burton Act
comes to power in Cuba.

The contradictory aspect of the opinion poll is that those surveyed do
not appear to adhere to the political decision that establishes that the
Cuban Adjustment Act presupposes the embargo (and vice-versa), until the
White House determines that Castroism has disappeared in Cuba.

Catch 22

Another far more significant contradiction thus comes to the fore: if
the embargo were contributing to the disappearance of Castroism, the
Cuban Adjustment Act would be helping perpetuate it, driving a constant
exodus of Cubans that, after settling permanently in the United States
(some 384,344 Cubans did so between 2001 and 2012), enter into the
travel and remittances industry. The Havana Consulting Group estimates
that Cuba takes in US $ 2.8 billion in cash through remittances and US $
3.5 billion through in-kind remittances sent from the United States.

And, since a quarter of a million Cuban immigrants acquired US
citizenship between 2001 and 2013, the anti-Castro electorate is being
gradually eroded by voters who, in their overwhelming majority, are
moved, not by the historical mission of establishing a "democratically
elected government in Cuba," but by the personal desire to make their
lives in the United States more comfortable and helping their relatives
back home, even if they're aware that they are also helping the regime
this way.

How will these contradictions within the Cuban community ever be reconciled?

Source: The Debate over the Cuba Embargo and Adjustment Act - Havana -

Google executives visit Cuba for first time to promote open Internet

Google executives visit Cuba for first time to promote open Internet
MIAMI Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:13am EDT

(Reuters) - A team of top Google executives is visiting Cuba to promote
open Internet access, according to a dissident blogger who says she met
the group in Havana.

The team, led by Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, met with Cuban
officials as well as independent people in the technology and digital
field, according to a report on the independent news website, which was started last month by blogger Yoani Sanchez.

Google is on an official two-day visit "to promote the virtues of a free
and open Internet," the report said.

Schmidt appeared to confirm the report when he retweeted a message on
Twitter posted by Sanchez about the visit.

Neither Google nor the Cuban government made any official statement
about the executives' presence in Cuba.

Cuba does not allow open Internet access. Only 2.6 million out of a
population of 11.2 million have Internet access, almost entirely limited
to government-run centers, foreign companies and tourist hotels. Most of
those who do have access are only been able to explore a limited,
state-controlled basket of approved websites.

Schmidt, who was Google's chief executive from 2001 to 2011, is becoming
more visible on issues involving technology and world affairs. His
mandate as executive chairman involves government outreach, thought
leadership and building partnerships and business relationships,
according to the company.

Schmidt was accompanied by Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, as
well as two other staff, Sanchez said.

Google Ideas describes itself as a "a think/do tank that explores how
technology can enable people to confront threats in the face of
conflict, instability or repression," according to its website.

Schmidt and Cohen are the coauthors of The New Digital Age, published
last year, and have a track record of speaking with leaders of countries
that restrict free speech to advocate for a free and open Internet.

Schmidt was the first high-profile tech executive to visit Myanmar last
year in the wake of reforms that prompted Western nations to ease
sanctions following decades of military dictatorship.

The Google delegation in Havana met with students and was given a tour
of Havana's University of Information Sciences on Saturday, according to

Sanchez started 14ymedio, Cuba's first independent online newspaper in
May, although the site has been repeatedly blocked in Cuba.

The Cuban government sought to discredit Sanchez as a paid propagandist
doing the bidding of the U.S. government.

The site seeks to draw attention away from the
communist-ruled country's state-controlled media and challenge the
government's heavy media restrictions. Cuba has been tolerating more
criticism in recent years but not yet from such a professional-looking
website produced on the island.

Sanchez's blog on daily life and politics in Cuba, Generation Y, has
rattled the Cuban establishment, and she has won prestigious media
awards in the United States and Europe.

(Additional reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: Google executives visit Cuba for first time to promote open
Internet | Reuters -

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Most Important, Control

Most Important, Control / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on June 27, 2014

According to authorities from the Ministry of Communications, Cuba loses
more than ten million convertible pesos a year in income due to fraud in
services. And they have warned, there will be penalties.

After a little research, I learned that the real concern of these Cuban
officials is not the increase in cloned ETECSA (phone company) cards to
call abroad; the real issue is that the use of new technologies – such
as calling and receiving calls via the internet, from Cuba to overseas
and vice versa – is difficult to control and prevents tracking. This
reminds me of the opportune sign, which I saw so many times: A painted
eye. The stalker.

26 June 2014

Source: Most Important, Control / Juan Juan Almeida | Translating Cuba -

Leading Cuban newspaper lauds China's "unique development model"

Leading Cuban newspaper lauds China's "unique development model" | 2014-06-28 10:00:51 | Editor: Fu Peng

HAVANA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's leading newspaper on Friday praised
China's success in devising and following its own development model to
sustain its position as one of today's leading powers of trade.

In a lengthy feature article, headlined "China and the realization of a
dream," daily newspaper Granma praised the Asian nation for "choosing
its own path to development."

In the past 35 years, China has lifted millions out of poverty, built
modern cities, attracted the world's most important businesses and
become "one of the main trade partners for Europe, the United States,
Latin America, Asia and Africa," said the article.

The author, who attended a recent seminar in China on "Socialism in the
21st Century," noted that now China has succeeded in generating wealth,
it is looking to fairly distribute that wealth.

To do that, the article said, China "has chosen its own path to
development: socialism with Chinese particularities, in harmony with
nature, with its neighbors and with the world."

In the past, development in China was intensively driven by foreign
investment and exports, a situation with certain drawbacks, including
environmental pollution and uneven regional growth.

This new stage, in contrast, "is oriented towards a growth model... that
will grant a much greater role to science and technology in production,
and concerned with building a civilization that is ecologically
sustainable," said Granma.

China's development reform will "redirect its growth model towards
domestic consumption," taking advantage of being home to "the world's
largest market," added the newspaper, noting that it will also "limit
its dependence on the exterior."

The state plans to reduce its role in socioeconomic and business
activities, and to that end has created the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, a
testing ground for economic and social reforms, said the article.

"China has successfully adapted the laws of the marketplace to its
concrete conditions and needs, without abandoning its socialist
imperative to leave no one behind," Granma said.

Source: Leading Cuban newspaper lauds China's "unique development model"
- Xinhua | -

Red Bull settles with U.S. on Cuba sanctions violations - Treasury

Red Bull settles with U.S. on Cuba sanctions violations: Treasury
WASHINGTON Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:50pm EDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday that energy
drinks firm Red Bull North America settled a potential civil liability
suit for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Cuba.

The firm agreed to pay $89,775 for filming a documentary without
authorization from the Treasury, the department said in a statement.

Source: Red Bull settles with U.S. on Cuba sanctions violations:
Treasury | Reuters -

Friday, June 27, 2014

I Am Nothing Else But Cuban

I Am Nothing Else But Cuban / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Carlos Alberto
Posted on June 26, 2014

Interview with Carlos Alberto Montaner, writer, journalist and political

REINALDO ESCOBAR, Havana, 24 June 2014 — Carlos Alberto Montaner has
long been a kind of black beast in the official Cuban government
propaganda. Accused of being a terrorist, a CIA agent, an eminence gris
in the world counterrevolution, in real life he is an academic and
journalist who has been involved in politics without losing his vocation
as a writer. In his home in Miami, in front of a window where the
bipolar horizon is divided between Cuba and Florida, he responds to
14ymedio's questions.

Question: You've had four passions: teaching, journalism, politics and
literature. You've alternated between them, although at times some have
predominated over others. Will it continue this way?

Answer: For four years I was a professor at a university in Puerto Rico,
I enjoyed what I did. I've always enjoyed teaching, lecturing, giving
classes. But I continue to do journalism, I haven't renounced politics,
and more and more I want to write novels.

Question: Journalism has many dilemmas: fulfill a political assignment,
please the readers as if information were one more commodity, and make a
commitment to the truth. How do you decide?

Answer: This is greatly debated today. In the United States they want to
turn journalists into an objective machine, without a heart or
compassion, that can't make moral judgments, because that's supposedly
discredited. I think that's a mistake. In these different lives that one
has for the different occupations, there are many responsibilities: you
have to take care of your family, there is a professional
responsibility, and there is a civic responsibility to the wider society
in which you live, and this requires making decisions of a moral
character which are sometimes at odds with journalism's too narrow criteria.

Question: But in any event you have to please the readers?

Answer: The journalist is obliged to interpret what society wants. If
you don't become a person able to summarize and argue what society
suspects, then you aren't going to connect with society, with the
readers. One thing I've learned over the years is that most people who
read you are looking for corroboration of their opinions, the coherent
organization of their opinions.

When you've managed to bring people's emotions and beliefs to a
comprehensible language, then you've become a successful journalist.
Authoritarian elements lie when they say that journalists represent the
interests of the owners. That's not true. For the media to function it
has to represent the opinions and interests of its readers, to be a
spokesperson for a sector of society.

The massacres of Fidel Castro's early days were repugnant to me and gave
me the impression of a detestable person

Question: Were you born a liberal, have you always been a liberal, will
you die a liberal?

Answer: I've had my evolution. For a very short time I was a
revolutionary boy who believed in the Revolution, but almost immediately
the massacres of Fidel Castro's early days were repugnant to me and gave
me the impression of a detestable person. No one who talks so many hours
straight can be a reliable person at all. Later I felt like a social
democrat. That lasted longer. The first lecture I gave I was very young,
18 or 19, it was about the supposed falsity of this affirmation that
"the State was a bad administrator." I had a period until the seventies
when I thought the social democratic solution would be better.

When I moved to Spain the in 70s and lived the change intensely and
approached the Spanish liberal groups, I discovered something that no
one in Cuba knew, that was liberal thinking. It was the time when the
triumph of Keynesian ideas, social democracy and all that, were sold.

Question: Do you think that it's a false dilemma between social justice
and freedom?

Answer: There is always a time when we must make decisions confronting
this dilemma, but to begin, it's very difficult for me today to accept
that idea that there is an abstract thing that is social justice. I
don't know what that is, and I don't know because in reality no one
knows what that is. There are suppositions that a certain number of
benefits correspond to a certain number of people and that there are
some officials who arbitrarily are those who know what those benefits
are and to whom they're assigned, and on top of that these officials
make decisions in this direction and what they do are atrocities and
destroy the possibility of creating wealth.

So, that said, what's important is that everyone has equal opportunities
to compete, and that everyone has the opportunity to study and the best
possible health. You can't ask a malnourished child who comes from a
very poor home to compete when his possibilities are limited compared to
others. We have to create the conditions where people can achieve their
dreams and pursue their objectives, which also change with the evolution
of one's live. Everyone has his projects. There are those who want to be
a philosopher, and there are those who want to be an entrepreneur.
Nobody has the right to decide what is best for others.

That's one of the great atrocities of socialism: the existence of a
political elite who are the ones who know what happiness is, what should
be the price of things, what we should consume, what we should study,
what work we should do. Freedom consists precisely of this, the power to
make decisions. The more decisions you can make, the freer you are.

I'm interested in participating in whatever change process there is in
Cuba, but I believe that (this) process must be in the hands of the
young people inside Cuba

Question: All signs indicate that from now on you are going to dedicate
more time to literature than to politics. Is this true?

Answer: Literature, writing books of fiction, is an activity more
appropriate for seniors than is politics, which is an activity for much
younger people.

Question: Does that mean you've given up politics?

Answer: No, I never gave up politics in the same way that I never chose
it. The political vocation comes naturally. I have a political vocation
and I'm interested in participating in whatever change process there is
in Cuba, but I believe that any process of this kind must be in the
hands of the young people inside Cuba.

Question: You have a clear formulation of the kind of journalist and
politician you want to be. Have you defined your style as a novelist?

Answer: I think the language should be used to the benefit of the
reader. I don't believe in baroque literature nor in the value of the
phrase that isn't understood. Gongorism has never interested me. Lezama
Lima seems to me to be a very respectable figure, but his writing
doesn't interest me, and I mention this as a paradigm of the kind of
literature that takes its quality and academic and literary range as a
consequence of its difficulty. What's important to me is the ability to
say things in an elegant, creative but transparent way, with regards to

Then there are the technical aspects of the use of grammatical persons,
the use precise adjectives, in short, the management of the language. I
have published five novels, I have started a sixth. In the first. Perro
mundo (Dog World), I related something I experienced and that is
basically the story of people who are faced with a terrible choice:
either submit or die. There is a character who decides to die rather
than submit because his unique ability to act as a human being is to say
no, to refuse what they want to impose on him, because to accept it
would make him an animal.

From there what has interested me is to tell stories with fictional
characters placed in realistic scenarios. La trama (The Plot) plays with
the story of the bombing of the Maine, the battleship that exploded in
Havana Bay and prompted the intervention of the United States in the War
of Independence.

Julio Lobo, the Cuban sugar magnate who collected curious objects and
documents – among them the act of the independence of Chile and things
like that – had a sworn statement from a group of anarchists in the
early twentieth century where they claimed that they were the ones who
carried out the explosion. From this data I construct that story, how it
was that some anarchists blew up the Maine in April 1898. I use the
framework of how they anarchists worked in the U.S. and from there
developed the plot.

Years passed dedicated to political and business activities, I picked up
the novel again with La mujer del coronel (The Colonel's Wife), a true
story where there was an element of personal challenge. I wanted to
explore what is most difficult, which is erotic language, difficult
because when people take off their clothes they say things that aren't
very literary and that can be taken as obscene. You move between kitsch
and vulgarity. In this case there were two elements, I wanted to tell
the story of what seems to me the worst horror of the Cuban Revolution
is the affective control of individuals. To decide who you can love and
who you can't, and to punish you when you part from what they believe.

When the government decided in the early 60s that whose who stayed in
Cuba shouldn't have relations with family members who left the country,
this was a terrible crime. To give the order that you can't love your
mother, a brother, your friends, this is terrible. I had had that
experience in Puerto Rico when a delegation of Cuban athletes came under
the direction of José Llanusa, the director of the National Institute of
Sports, Physical Education and Recreation, who has been my friend and my
basketball coach.

The mother of this man, who became the Minister of Education in Cuba,
had been exiled to Puerto Rico and as she was gravely ill she wanted to
see her son before she died. But he decided he wouldn't go see her
because he preferred to behave as a revolutionary. This desire to
pretend to become the master of human emotions, against which I have
always rebelled, is what I wanted to relate in the story of this man, a
senior army officer whom they ordered to separate from his wife because
there was evidence that she had been unfaithful.

I'd love to have coffee with you at 14ymedio's offices (but) I think
I'll die without returning to Cuba

The fourth novel is Otra vez adíos (Goodbye Again), which is my
favorite. I read once that every ten years Freud arranged to have a
portrait done, and this is the story of Freud's portrait painter, who
was Jewish, who had to flee Germany and ended up in Cuba. He ends up
having to say goodbye again when the Cuban Revolution comes and he goes
to New York.

Tiempo de canallas, which owes a debt to Otra vez adiós, is out of
print. It has a chapter about the Cold War, which relates how an
anti-communist front was formed on the island with Salvador de Maradiaga
and Julian Gorqueno who, in Cuba, counted on Raul Roa. It was the era
when Havana celebrated the Congress for Cultural Freedom. I realized
that this story of the Battle of Ideas between the Soviet Union and the
United States was so extraordinary that it deserved to be addressed as a
separate subject in another book.

Tiempo de canallas, is a political thriller set in the time when the
Central Intelligence Agency was created. It narrates the nature of those
world peace congresses that rested on the propaganda concept with a
binary structure where there were good communists and evil capitalists…
but it doesn't tell more because it's a thriller.

Question. Would you like to go back to Cuba?

Answer. Yes, I would. I am nothing other than Cuban, although I have two
other nationalities, the Spanish and American. I left the island at 18
and now I'm 71. I would like to participate in the reconstruction of
Cuba, I'd love to have coffee with you at 14ymedio's offices, stroll
through the places of my childhood or the ruins of the places of my
childhood. I grew up on Tejadillo street in Old Havana, it was a nice
place where you could hear the bells of the Cathedral…

Question. Do you think that will be possible?

Answer. No. I think I will die without returning to Cuba.

Source: I Am Nothing Else But Cuban / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Carlos
Alberto Montaner | Translating Cuba -

New Reforms to Emigration Policy?

New Reforms to Emigration Policy? / Laritza Diversent
Posted on June 26, 2014

Although recent legislative changes to immigration laws in Cuba
represent a step forward, they still retain aspects that are political
and restrictive in nature and in violation of the right to free movement.

The changes to immigration regulations do improve the legal wording and
drop any reference to entry and/or exit permits and to the letter of
invitation, which had been a tacit acknowledgement of Cubans' inability
to travel from an economic point of view.

In practice the situation remains the same. The requirements of most of
foreign embassies located on the island and the high fees charged for
travel documents, which must be paid in hard currency, make the
possibility of traveling overseas an impossible dream for most Cubans.

However, new policies have been put into effect and new categories have
been created. In residential real estate, for example, guarantees are
now being offered to foreign residents and their families as well as to
owners and renters of real estate on the island.

The state is clearly focusing on sectors with economic potential:
foreigners and emigres. The latter are being given the opportunity to
reclaim a residence on the island and with it the right to take part in
elections, become self-employed, buy cars and homes, etc.

However, the possibility that the Ministry of the Interior might grant
this right to Cubans living overseas — to people not physically living
in the country — no doubt means that it will choose which emigres shall
and shall not regain their rights.

16 June 2014

Source: New Reforms to Emigration Policy? / Laritza Diversent |
Translating Cuba -

There’s No Room, Wait Outside

There's No Room, Wait Outside / Julio Cesar Alvarez
Posted on June 26, 2014

HAVANA, Cuba — Doctors working in the clinic located within the
gatehouse of Central Havana Children's Hospital refused medical
treatment to a three-month-old infant named Alexander because his
parents refused to comply with an internal policy of the hospital.

The policy allows only one parent to be present in an exam room.
According to the doctor and nurse on duty the lack of space in the rooms
is the reason for this policy.

According to Dr. Mario Lorenzo Medina, vice-director of health care at
Central Havana Children's Hospital, overcrowding in the consultation
rooms was the reason why only one of the parents could be present.

"My doctors don't have the room. They work in crowded conditions," the
director told the infant's father.

For the parents — 25-year-old Yanela Durán Noa and Augusto César San
Martín, an independent journalist — this policy violates the right of
both parents to be present during an examination of their son.

The director of the hospital politely acknowledged this right but said
that the policy would remain in effect until working conditions for his
doctors improved. If parents refuse to comply, they are denied access to
an exam room.

Dr. Giselle from the Coco and Rabí clinic in the 10th of October
district is of the opinion that the rights of the parents trump any
other consideration, especially a hypothetical lack of space.

"The patient is always right. There is no significantly compelling
reason to deny him care," says Giselle.

For the father, not only was the directive an embarrassment, but so too
was the treatment by the clinic's medical and nursing staffs.

"They didn't even ask why we brought the child in. The doctor and nurse
refused to treat him. And when I asked for their names in order to file
a complaint, they rudely told me that I was not the police," says
Augusto César San Martín.

Cuban doctors travel to inhospitable locations in order to provide
medical care in very difficult conditions.

While on these international "missions," they work in open-air exam
rooms under conditions of both sun and rain. They do this without
objection and without a word of complaint. Even snakes pose no barrier
to their work overseas.

The parents in this case consider denying them entry because of an
alleged lack of space to be absurd since the policy is followed even
when the rooms are empty.

Alejandro's parents filed a complaint with the Ministry of Public Health
almost two months ago. They have yet to receive a reply.

Cubanet, June 23, 2014, Julio Cesar Álvarez

Source: There's No Room, Wait Outside / Julio Cesar Alvarez |
Translating Cuba -

Drifting Cuban migrants ordered to leave Cayman waters

Drifting Cuban migrants ordered to leave Cayman waters

GEORGE TOWN Cayman Islands (Reuters) - A group of Cuban migrants
anchored in an open wooden boat off the Cayman Islands for nearly two
weeks have been told by the government to leave or face detention and

The makeshift vessel carrying about 30 people arrived on June 14 off the
south coast of the island of Grand Cayman, and is drifting about a
quarter of a mile offshore near South Sound, a fashionable strip of
wealthy oceanfront homes.

The Cubans were given an ultimatum on Wednesday to depart or be taken
into custody, according to Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith.

Some local residents have assisted the Cubans with food and water while
they shelter from rough seas before likely heading west to the coast of

Officials in the Caymans say more Cuban boats are being spotted in their
territorial waters, usually headed for Honduras, from where migrants
make the long journey overland to reach the U.S. border with Mexico.

Under an existing agreement between Cuba and the Cayman Islands
government, migrants who come ashore are usually repatriated. Cayman and
Cuban officials are due to meet later this year to negotiate new
migration terms.

The current agreement, signed in 1999, states that Cuban migrant boats
are allowed to pass through Cayman waters as long as they do not seek
any assistance.

The Caymans is a British territory located less than 100 miles (160 km)
south of Cuba.

Cruise ships have also been involved in several recent rescues. In March
24 Cubans were rescued from a wooden boat by a passing cruise liner
which took them to the Cayman Islands.

(Editing by David Adams and Sandra Maler)

Source: Drifting Cuban migrants ordered to leave Cayman waters -

“Looking for a Handout” Between Miami and Cuba

"Looking for a Handout" Between Miami and Cuba
June 26, 2014
Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES — Last week, a campaign calling for lower Internet rates
began on the island and Radio and TV Marti – US government stations that
broadcast propaganda to Cuba – announced they would use the web to send
their messages to the population.

People say extremes meet and complement one another. The news must have
made those looking for arguments to restrict Internet access in Cuba
very happy. Now, they can refuse to make the web more accessible
invoking the country's legitimate need to defend itself.

Radio and TV Marti claim that more than 3 million people watch their
programs in Cuba – proudly, they tell us that one out of every four
Cubans follow these. Their ratings bring to mind those of Vivir del
cuento ("Looking for a Handout"), Cuba's most popular sitcom.

I must be very unlucky, because I don't know a single person who watches
TV Marti. Even those who have confessed to me that they read materials
published by the anti-Castro émigré community assure me they have never
been able to tune in to the programs aired by these broadcasters.

Even dissident Amador Blanco, from Cuba's province of Las Villas, told
the New Herald in Miami that "we've never seen TV Marti. If anyone
claims they watch it, that's a lie. Radio Marti's audience is also minimal."

The True Hits in Cuba

What people in Cuba actually look forward to watching every week is the
new "package", a compilation of films, TV series, Internet pages and
documentaries put together with materials downloaded from the Internet
or recorded from satellite TV programming.

This package is an initiative of the island's self-employed. The
materials are downloaded illegally at places with a broad bandwidth and
recorded by those who copy US television shows to broadcast these locally.

They are sold to paqueteros ("package providers") who throw together a
combo that includes music videos by local artists and commercials for
the private establishments that are gradually emerging in Cuba. Then,
they sell these to hundreds of thousands of Cuban families for 1 or 2
dollars apiece.

The phenomenon is so widespread that the government is studying the
possibility of developing an "official" package, so as to exercise
greater control over its contents. All the while, the newspaper of
Cuba's internal dissident community, 14 & ½, tries to slip its news into
the "packages" to reach a wider audience.

However, one will be hard pressed to find a paquetero willing to include
materials from the opposition in their product, for everyone in Cuba
knows that mixing business with dissident activities is not profitable,
particularly when the financing for the latter is of dubious origin.

Cuba's Paradoxes

Politicians in both camps find it difficult to understand the success of
these "packages." One reason for its success could be that they are not
designed on the basis of ideological schemes but in response to the
tastes and needs of common people.

It is ironic that a single paquetero who has invested a few thousand
dollars has a wider audience than Radio and TV Marti, each with hundreds
of employees and receiving US $ 26.3 million from the US government
every year.

To justify such high spending, they need to disguise their tiny
audience, while desperately seeking any means of increasing their
impact, taking advantage of any development on the island, be it greater
access to mobile phones, the Internet or social networks.

In Cuba, a campaign against those who use the Internet for independent
work is already underway. There are even TV programs that show us how a
network of "dangerous" programmers (guilty of using the Internet for
their own purposes) was dismantled.

The radicalism of one camp prompts radicalism in the other. Caught in
the middle is Cuba, a nation that cannot progress at the pace it could.
As the editor of Cubadebate Rosa Miriam Elizalde explains, "we cannot
continue to use horse-drawn carts in a world that is moving so quickly."
(*) Visit the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.

Source: "Looking for a Handout" Between Miami and Cuba - Havana -

Cuban delegation in Europe to tout benefits of new investment law

Cuban delegation in Europe to tout benefits of new investment law
Published June 26, 2014 EFE

Cuba's deputy foreign trade minister explained here Thursday the
opportunities available to foreign companies under the Communist-ruled
island's new investment law.

Ileana Nuñez Mordoche, who is heading a high-level Cuban delegation,
arrived in Madrid as part of a tour of European capitals.

In Madrid, she spoke to dozens of business leaders at the headquarters
of the High Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of

Spain is one of Cuba's main trading partners and a key source country
for foreign direct investment, or FDI, Nuñez noted, pointing out that
her country is looking to attract foreign capital as part of efforts to
"update" its socialist economic model.

The goal of the new legislation, approved by Cuba's National Assembly in
March, is to reduce Cuban imports, promote exports and bolster industry
through infrastructure build-outs and technology inflows, the deputy
minister said.

"We must change the energy matrix, with more space for renewables and
biomass," Nuñez said.

Cuba's director general for foreign investment, Deborah Rivas, added
that there is a "favorable climate" for FDI in Cuba and recalled that
the island is a signatory to different trade-promotion and
investment-protection treaties under the World Trade Organization and
other entities.

The new law allows foreign companies to form joint ventures with Cuban
entities or create enterprises that are 100 percent foreign-owned.

It sharply reduces the profits tax for foreign investors from 35 percent
to 15 percent and exempts them from paying it for the first eight years
of business activity.

The president of the High Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and
Navigation of Spain, Manuel Teruel, recalled that Spanish small- and
medium-sized enterprises have a traditional presence in Cuba and said
now is the time to facilitate the entry of large multinational firms. EFE

Source: Cuban delegation in Europe to tout benefits of new investment
law | Fox News Latino -

On Being Gay, And Socialist, In Cuba Today

On Being Gay, And Socialist, In Cuba Today
June 26, 2014 3:46 PM ET

It was very late at night the last time Isbel Diaz Torres and his
boyfriend were stopped by Cuban police.

"They asked for our IDs, which is a rare procedure," Diaz recalls.

The policeman then dropped the men's IDs on the floor.

" 'That's very funny for you, a very funny thing to do,' " Diaz, an LGBT
activist, said to the policeman. " 'Because you want to humiliate me,
that's right?' "

He took the policeman's information down and went to the station to
report him.

"It wouldn't change anything, but it is my civic duty," the 38-year-old
Diaz says.

There is a long history of homophobia on the island. "Sons of the
bourgeois, they go around with their little pants that are too tight.
... They want to do their girlie scenes out in the open," is how former
Cuban President Fidel Castro attacked the young opposition in a 1963
speech at the steps of the University of Havana.

During that time, gay people, along with other
"counter-revolutionaries," were sent to forced labor camps.

Cuba's attitudes toward sexual orientation have changed a lot since
then: There's been a recognition of LGBT rights, promoted in no small
part by Castro's own niece, Mariela Castro. Fidel Castro himself has
recently criticized the machismo culture of Cuba and urged for the
acceptance of homosexuality.

Activists like Diaz acknowledge the importance of these changes, but say
it's hardly enough. Diaz says it's happening mainly in Havana, the
capital, where there are gay-friendly bars, for instance.

But Diaz says he wants to be more than just able to have a good time out
in the open.

"We can socialize. We can be together and have fun together," he says.
"But you cannot build political groups in those bars. You wouldn't be

Ultimately, Diaz wants concrete laws protecting the Cuban LGBT community.

"We recently have changes in the Communist Party where they included a
clause claiming respect for people with different sexual orientation,"
he says. "But that is not enough, because most of the people here in
Cuba are not part of the Communist Party. We need real laws."

The Young Cuban Who's Bringing Activism In Line With The Revolution
For example, if his boyfriend is in the hospital, Diaz wouldn't be able
to visit him.

"Entrance to the hospital is limited to the familia, the close
relatives," he says. "I wouldn't be allowed in ... even if we lived
together for 13 years."

Attitudes toward the Cuban regime have traditionally been very polarized
— split neatly between a right-leaning opposition and leftist
supporters. But a new generation is changing that. Diaz represents a
class of young socialists that is also highly critical of the government.

Diaz is a member of the group Observatorio Critico, or Critical
Observatory, a network of collectives seeking a place in the Cuban
political landscape. They have a blog, which they publish via email
since Internet access is limited in Cuba. The activists aren't really
able to see the final product, or the comments, but still like to have
an online voice.

Staking a claim in cyberspace is difficult for these groups. Finding an
actual physical meeting place is an even bigger challenge. Often, they
meet in the park.

In fact, that's where we meet with Diaz; he says he doesn't feel safe
bringing us to his house. But meeting in public to discuss discontent
has its drawbacks — namely, unwelcome guests from the government
listening in.

The Cuba Diaz envisions is one where everyone can be involved in the

"We also are fighting for a country where all the differences can be
shared," he says. "Racial differences or cultural differences or sexual
differences can be, can live together, can find a space for themselves

It sounds utopian, but Diaz is OK with aiming high.

"Maybe centuries ago it was funny to talk about the eradication of
slavery, and it happened," Diaz says. "I think utopia, that's what moves
a lot of people and thinkers and people of action during the history of
humankind. We don't have to be afraid of that."

You can follow Jasmine Garsd on Twitter @jasgarsd.

Source: On Being Gay, And Socialist, In Cuba Today : Parallels : NPR -

The Party and the Army - Civil-Military Relations in Cuba

The Party and the Army: Civil-Military Relations in Cuba
Posted: 06/26/2014 1:02 pm EDT Updated: 06/26/2014 2:59 pm EDT

When Raúl Castro became president of Cuba in his own right in 2008, he
replaced most of his brother Fidel's cabinet with ministers of his own
choosing. In March 2009, he announced a sweeping reorganization of the
government bureaucracy, replacing nine veteran ministers and firing
Fidel's proteges, Carlos Lage, the de facto prime minister, and Felipe
Pérez-Roque, the foreign minister. By 2012, across 26 ministries, only
three of Fidel's appointees were still in office. Raúl's new ministers
came from the ranks of experienced professionals, a number of them from
the armed forces.

Today, eight ministries are led by career military officers, three of
whom are still on active duty. Of the 10 vice-presidents of the Council
of Ministers, five are active-duty or former career military officers,
not counting Raúl himself. Of the 13 members of the Political Bureau of
the Cuban Communist Party, four are active-duty generals and another is
retired military, again not counting Raúl.

Both in Cuba and abroad, the prominence of so many senior officers in
civilian posts has prompted speculation about a military "takeover" of
the Cuban government. But to regard this circulation of elites as
breaching some clear divide between civilian and military roles is to
misunderstand the nature of civil-military relations in Cuba...

Source: The Party and the Army: Civil-Military Relations in
Cuba | William M. LeoGrande -

Thursday, June 26, 2014

14ymedio As Viewed by the International Press

14ymedio As Viewed by the International Press / 14ymedio
Posted on June 25, 2014

How the worldwide media reported on the birth of this newspaper and its
subsequent censorship on the island
14ymedio, June 21, 2014

Hours before 14ymedio was born, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo published
a column by Gina Montaner, "14ymedio' against '55ymedio" contrasting the
name of our yet unborn daily with the long years that the island lived
submerged not only in a lack of information, but also under
institutionalized disinformation. Montaner emphasized one of the
challenges to the Cuban press, so different from those faced by the
international media: "In Cuba everything is up for grabs and the real
revolution—the technological one accompanied by freedom of expression—is
one of the great challenges of the post-Castro period." The Cuban
journalist added: "If Cubans get access to '14ymedio', it will be a
breath of fresh air compared to the nauseating 'Battle of ldeas' of the
government media."

A few minutes after 8 a.m. Cuban time this past May 21st, 14ymedio was
visible in all the countries of the world. But on the island it could
only be seen for a little over an hour. Then, our website was diverted
to another address where they tried to discredit the director of 14ymedio.

The international press reported this blockage. The prestigious American
newspaper The Wall Street Journal ran a headline on the 22nd, " Cuban
Dissident Starts Website, Which Is Promptly Hacked." "Cuba's government
explicitly bars any printed material that it interprets as a threat, so
there are no independent newspapers," noted the newspaper. But despite
the lack of internet access in the island, said the writer, the new
website "poses a direct challenge to the Cuban regime's almost total
control of information."

A day after the 14ymedio blockade the Inter-American Press Association
(SIP) issued a statement denouncing the situation, which was reproduced
by several outlets, including El Nuevo Herald. "While the measure is not
surprising, the world expected more tolerance from the government of
Raul Castro, considering his efforts to show a more positive, more open
image in order to garner more respect from the international community,"
it said in a statement setting out the SIP's views on freedom of expression.

The blockade was lifted briefly on May 24, the day of the publication of
a long commentary in the newspaper Granma, which denounced the "project
of the counterrevolutionary blogger Yoani Sánchez to create a digital
media outlet." Several international media outlets reproduced 14ymedio's
tweet encouraging Cubans to "read us before the next blockage," which
indeed occurred a few days later. Since then Cubans have had to go back
to this newspaper by anonymous proxies that hide the IP of the computer,
to prevent the identification of the source of the connection.

On June 2nd the Nuevo Herald of Miami spotlighted the "battle against
censorship" in a series dedicated to 14ymedio. Further from our borders,
various European media announced the birth of 14ymedio: the British BBC;
El Pais in Spain (which published a report last May 22 titled "Birth of
the free press in Cuba" and on June 15 interviewed its director); and La
Repubblica in Italy, among others. The leading French newspaper, Le
Monde, also ran a note to explain the blockade suffered on the island.
The title it chose, "Cuba: le premier média numérique bloqué independant
dès are lancement" ("Cuba's first independent online newspaper blocked
at its release"), angered some of the independent publications that came
before, but from the outset 14ymedio has acknowledged the work of its

In Mexico, the daily La Razon devoted considerable space to 14ymedio,
reprinting an article most representative of the its writing as part of
a piece titled "They Have Resources for a Year and 11 Journalists." "The
editorial staff is composed of 11 persons including Yoani and her
husband, Reinaldo Escobar, a journalist with extensive experience, who
worked with the official press, but left 30 years ago. Other team
members are young Cubans, mostly under 30 years old," said the
newspaper, which also republished the first story run in 14ymedio, "Red
Dawn: Havana is Killing Out There."

Source: 14ymedio As Viewed by the International Press / 14ymedio |
Translating Cuba -

The Modest Growth of the Cuban Economy Falls Short of Expectations

The Modest Growth of the Cuban Economy Falls Short of Expectations /
Posted on June 25, 2014

14ymedio, Havana | June 23, 2014 — The Cuban economy is growing at a
rate slower than the official forecasts, according to data announced by
the Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez. He said
that during the first half of this year the GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
will increase by just 0.6%, but will improve during the following months
to an increase of 1.4% by the end of the year. However, independent
analysts question these expectations and believe they are not a
realistic reflection of the state of the economy.

The Cabinet last Saturday presented details about "the difficulties that
continue to damage the Cuban economy." Rodriguez blamed the failure of
the Plan's objectives on the "adverse weather conditions" and "the
complex international situation."

The Minister of Finance and Prices, Lina Pedraza Rodriguez, noted a
substantial drop in productivity in 124 companies, which had planned a
positive balance but ultimately had losses.

At the meeting, the ministers also addressed the issue of monetary
unification. The head of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and
Development, Marino Murillo Jorge, explained that this measure "will not
by itself solve all the problems of the economy," but requires the
implementation of other policies aimed at increasing the efficiency and
level of productivity of labor.

In addition, the officials said that, at the end of May, around 467,000
people were self-employed, but they have not provided any statistics on
the high number of the self-employed who have ceased their activities.

Source: The Modest Growth of the Cuban Economy Falls Short of
Expectations / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -

It Isn’t What It Seems

It Isn't What It Seems / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on June 25, 2014

On my planet the abnormal is normal. For example, when we go shopping —
whether it be in those dark, poorly ventilated stores, whose scant
merchandise is priced in CUP (Cuban pesos), or the well-illuminated,
air-conditioned hard currency stores, whose somewhat greater selection
is priced in CUC — we are met at every step with surprises.

A few weeks ago a friend who was visiting brought us some wonderful
bread sticks, which had been purchased at one of the Silvain stores.
They came wrapped in an enormous plastic envelope much larger than the
product it contained. When I looked more closely at the package, I
noticed it carried the Caribbean Queen label, an indication the
packaging would normally be used for shellfish.

Last week there was a knock on my door from a "dark bag" vendor I know,
who was selling lobster tails. They came wrapped in a plastic package
identical to the one containing the bread sticks.

None of this is surprising. They are simply examples of the "details" we
have been experiencing for many years now. We have become so accustomed
to them that they seem perfectly normal.

In the 1980s some doctors wrote prescriptions on the backs of paper
labels from cans of Soviet condensed milk. It was also quite common for
Fiesta shampoo (the only kind available in those days) to come in the
same amber-colored bottles used to package household cleaning solution.
It was also the era of conjoined products (the kind that were not easy
to move). In other words if you needed deodorant, you had to also buy a
machete and a can of shoe polish because the three were sold together,
or "conjoined." Fortunately, that phase had passed by the mid-1990s when
dollar possession was decriminalized and hard-currency stores were opened.

But we are still subject to inappropriate packaging of some products
sold in both currencies. What is one to do? We already know that
socialism is not perfect! In spite of comrade Murillo's insistence to
the contrary, what is quite clear is that this is not really the option
we Cubans would prefer. To dispel any doubts, he should just drive his
brand-new car past the embassies of any number of countries, slow down,
lower the tinted windows and take note of the long lines of citizens
crowded outside the consulates, applying for visas in an attempt to
"escape." Many of them are the same people who fill the plazas,
answering "the call of the Revolution." As one might conclude, not
everything is as it seems.

24 June 2014

Source: It Isn't What It Seems / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -

How Cuba’s State Security Welcomed Me on Returning to Havana

How Cuba's State Security Welcomed Me on Returning to Havana
June 25, 2014
Isbel Diaz

HAVANA TIMES – After participating in the congress of the Association of
Latin American Studies in Chicago, I returned home to Cuba this past
June 20th, following a one-month stay in the United States. I arrived at
terminal 2 of Havana's Jose Marti International Airport to be received
by Cuban State Security agents. Customs officers then proceeded to take
away my cell phone and other belongings.

I was detained at the airport for three hours and all of my personal
belongings were meticulously inspected. The officials were chiefly
interested in all of the documents I carried with me and all electronic
devices that could store information.

As such, in addition to my phone (which stored all of my personal
contacts and private notes), two external hard disks and their cables,
two cell phones I had brought my nephew and my boyfriend as gifts and an
SD memory with family videos were confiscated, even though the
authorities didn't know what their contents were and didn't even take
the trouble of asking.

All of these devices were classified as items for personal use by the
customs authorities themselves – the number of items didn't exceed the
limit established by Resolution 320 / 2011, which establishes what
imports are of a commercial nature, nor did their respective prices
surpass the limits established in the Value List published under
Resolution 312 / 2011.

It is therefore quite evident that these confiscations are the result of
the arbitrariness and excessive monitoring that all Cubans with
free-thinking postures that are critical of the country's
socio-political reality are subjected to.

The fact that Lt. Colonel Omar, a well-known State Security officer,
came in and out of the premises, reveals that the reasons behind this
incident are clearly political.

I was given absolutely no explanation as to why my belongings were being
confiscated. I was only referred to the customs resolution that empowers
these officials to retain what they see fit. The contents and scope of
the said resolution were not explained to me either.

What was explained to me were the reasons they confiscated several of
the documents I carried with me. According to the Confiscation and
Notification document, they "tarnish the country's morals and customs."
The documents in question were:

- Historian Frank Fernandez' classic El anarquismo en Cuba ("Anarchism
in Cuba"), a book the author had sent to the Cuban Anthropology
Institute (as the dedication he had handwritten attested to). Fernandez
had learned that a group was studying the issue at the institute and he
wanted to contribute to the work with his research on Cuba's workers'
and anarcho-syndicalist movements.

- The open letter dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua had addressed to the
Association of Latin American Studies, to which all Cubans who
participated in this year's LASA congress had access.

- A page from a New Herald newspaper with part of an article dealing
with the LGBTI community on the island and showing a photograph of the
Day Against Homophobia activities organized every year by Cuba's
National Sexual Education Center headed by Mariela Castro. By chance,
the page also showed a photo of dissident Yoani Sanchez. This
immediately piqued the interest of the customs official, who labeled the
document "anti-Cuban propaganda" without having read the article.

The only item that could in any way be construed as an affront on Cuban
morals and customs is the photo of the Day Against Homophobia
activities, which shows several people wearing colorful feathers singing
on a Cuban stage. This homophobic posture must be condemned by our
community on the island.

I publicly denounce this violation of my rights and abuse of power
before the international community, and know that I will demand the
immediate return of my cell phone and the rest of my belongings, all
acquired legally.

I am not the first person who suffers this type of violence and I will
probably not be the last, not while the Cuban political police continue
to enjoy the prerogatives and privileges they do now.

Source: How Cuba's State Security Welcomed Me on Returning to Havana -
Havana -

Telecome fraud costs Cuba over 10 mln USD annually

Telecome fraud costs Cuba over 10 mln USD annually
Jun 26,2014

HAVANA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Cuba lost over 10 million U.S. dollars in
revenue a year due to fraud in telecommunications services, the National
Information Agency (AIN) reported Wednesday.

Jorge Sacre, director of the anti-fraud department at the state-run
Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa), told AIN that a
considerable number of users sought to avoid legally established traffic
channels for international calls by using new technological development
that hinders their traceability.

The most common crimes include the theft of lines belonging to
legitimate users, subscription fraud and creation of international
systems that offer an adjacent service with lower fees than those
established by legal telecom service providers, said Sacre.

These crimes can be carried out through the installation of satellite
dishes, and the use of ordinary telephone and Internet access, he said.

For every minute of call made via these alternate routes, Cuba lost 0.60
dollars in revenue, and calls originating from these sites were then
distributed through the National Communications Network as a local or
long-distance call, causing more substantial losses, said Sacre.

Cuba has a large expatriate community living in the United States, the
epicenter of global telecommunications fraud, and Cuba's proximity makes
it more vulnerable, Sacre added.

The island ranks among the 17 countries most affected by such
violations, he stressed, adding that Etecsa is working to develop fraud
detection mechanisms and various measures to blacklist users who commit
such crimes.

Source: Telecome fraud costs Cuba over 10 mln USD annually | Shanghai
Daily -

Heavy use of Cuba mobile e-mail service strains cellular network

Heavy use of Cuba mobile e-mail service strains cellular network
Published June 25, 2014 EFE

More than 238,000 customers have signed on in just three months for a
new mobile e-mail service in Cuba despite its high cost, taking state
telecoms company Etecsa by surprise and causing network disruptions.

The number of people signing up for cellphone contracts on the island
soared between March and May, with a total of 173,098 new handsets on
the network, according to Etecsa, which said 238,687 wireless phone
users acquired a local e-mail address via the island's system.

"Growth was not expected to be so rapid," Etecsa's director of
institutional communication, Luis Manuel Diaz, said in an interview with
Communist Party daily Granma.

He acknowledged that "intensive use" of the new mobile e-mail service
has caused disruptions to wireless telephony, including an inability to
connect with other cellphones, dropped calls and text messages failing
to arrive at their destination or arriving only after a lengthy delay.

The new e-mail modality has resulted in 29 million e-mails being sent in
just three months, or an average of 400,000 e-mails delivered daily and
2 terabytes of data in total, the Etecsa director said.

The company said it hopes to solve the problems by installing 80 base
stations nationwide, 34 of which are already in place.

In early March, Etecsa announced the launch of this new service at a
price of 1 convertible peso ($1) per megabyte received or sent via
e-mail, a high rate for most of inhabitants of the island, where the
average salary is just $20 a month.

But demand has surpassed expectations despite the cost and the fact that
users can only send e-mails to - and receive them from - others with a account.

Mobile access to e-mail is a popular novelty in a country where the vast
majority of people lack a home Internet connection.

The Cuban government prioritizes Internet use in public places and
expanded that access in June 2013 by opening more than 200 new state-run
Internet cafes.

Etecsa was apparently surprised at how eagerly Cubans have taken to the
company's mobile e-mail service.

"A woman told me she checks her e-mail up to 80 times (a day) and that
(level of use) is more typical of a chat service. Normally people only
check their e-mail two or three times a day," Diaz told Granma. EFE

Source: Heavy use of Cuba mobile e-mail service strains cellular network
| Fox News Latino -

Cuba punishes 6 baseball players for exit attempts

Cuba punishes 6 baseball players for exit attempts
AP 3:06 p.m. EDT June 25, 2014

HAVANA (AP) — Six more baseball players have been ruled out of the
current national squad for trying to defect, Cuban authorities said

Government news website Cubadebate listed the players as Villa Clara
pitchers Diosdani Castillo and Yasmani Hernandez Romero; infielders
Gelkis Jimenez and Adriel Labrada; pitcher Carlos Manuel Portuondo of
Santiago, and Isle of Youth outfielder Alejandro Jaime Ortiz.

Cubadebate said they were implicated in "attempts to leave the country
illegally." It did not give details or say whether any were successful.

Cubadebate also named Yasmani Tomas, a hard-hitting outfielder formerly
with Havana ball club Industriales whose departure was acknowledged by
officials on Friday.

Cuban ballplayers who defect often have their sights set on Major League
Baseball, where many have signed multimillion-dollar contracts.

Last year Cuba began letting players compete in overseas leagues while
still in their prime for the first time in decades. Some have signed
lucrative deals in Japan.

The players named by Cubadebate will not figure in the squad selected to
face a U.S. collegian team in five games next month in Cuba.

Source: Cuba punishes 6 baseball players for exit attempts -

Lawyer - Alan Gross 'plans to end his life'

Posted on Wednesday, 06.25.14

Lawyer: Alan Gross 'plans to end his life'

HAVANA -- The wife and lawyer of a U.S. government subcontractor
imprisoned in Cuba say they fear for his life after his mother's death
from cancer last week.

Judy Gross is in Havana to visit her jailed husband, Alan Gross. She
says in a statement she worries he will "do something drastic now that
his mother is gone."

Alan Gross launched a hunger strike in April to urge Washington and
Havana to strike a deal for his release. He ended the protest at the
request of his mother, who died June 18 in Texas.

Scott Gilbert is the Grosses' lawyer. He said in Wednesday's statement
that "Alan plans to end his life in an effort to end this agony."

Gross has been behind bars since 2009. He is serving a 15-year sentence.

Source: HAVANA: Lawyer: Alan Gross 'plans to end his life' - Latest News
- -

Wife of US man jailed in Cuba says he's despondent

Posted on Wednesday, 06.25.14

Wife of US man jailed in Cuba says he's despondent

HAVANA -- The wife of Alan Gross, a U.S. government development
subcontractor serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba, said Wednesday
she fears for his life even more after he received the demoralizing news
of his mother's death from cancer.

Speaking in Havana a day after visiting her husband behind bars, Judy
Gross said he was very close to his mother, talking to her by phone
twice a day when he was in the United States and as often as he could
after his incarceration in Cuba.

"He's talking about doing something drastic, and I think that's his
depression and hopelessness talking," Judy Gross told The Associated
Press. "I'm afraid that he really means it. The passing of his mother
this week, I think, was sort of the last straw for him."

U.S. and Cuban officials did not have immediate comment. U.S. diplomats
in Havana make monthly consular visits to the facility where Gross is
being held, but generally refrain from speaking about his case, citing
privacy rules.

Gross was arrested in 2009 while working to set up Internet networks for
the island's Jewish community on a contract with the U.S. government's
Agency for International Development. Washington argues that his
activities were humanitarian, and he says he posed no threat to Cuba.

However, some aspects of his work violated Cuban law, and Gross'
documents show he tried to avoid detection. Havana considers such USAID
programs an affront to its sovereignty, and Gross was convicted under a
statute governing crimes against the state.

Gross staged a hunger strike in April to protest his confinement and
pressure Washington and Havana to resolve his case. He ended it after
nine days at the request of his mother, Evelyn Gross, who died June 18
in Texas at age 92.

Gross had asked for leave to visit her, but was denied. His wife said he
emailed her a short eulogy that was read at the funeral, which she was
unable to attend because her own brother died the same week.

Gross has lost more than 100 pounds, is losing vision in his right eye
and "both of his hips are failing," according to a statement issued
Wednesday by the family's representatives.

Judy Gross said he seemed markedly worse than on any of her five
previous trips to the island.

"It was a very difficult visit for me just because I was seeing him in
the worst condition that I've ever seen him in before. He's,
emotionally, he's in bad shape. ... You can't get him to laugh or barely
smile, and this is not the Alan that we all know," she said. "Even the
last time I saw him, he had some affect, you could cheer him up a little
bit. But this time he's just really, really hopeless."

Scott Gilbert, the Grosses' U.S. lawyer, accompanied her to Cuba and
also met with his client.

"I am extremely worried that Alan is becoming more despondent every
day," he said in the statement. "Both governments need to know that Alan
plans to end his life in an effort to end this agony."

Havana has made clear it wants to negotiate a solution involving Cuban
intelligence agents who are serving long prison sentences in the United
States on spy-related charges. Two of the "Cuban Five" agents have
already completed their sentences and returned to the island.

Judy Gross stopped short of calling for a swap outright, but noted the
recent exchange of five detainees at Guantanamo for Bowe Bergdahl, a
U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

She said she viewed recent reports that President Barack Obama asked the
president of Uruguay to get involved in her husband's case as positive.
But she said more must be done, and both sides must sit down to figure
out a solution.

"I'm calling for whatever it takes," she said.

"It was a tremendous feat that the United States was able to get Mr.
Bergdahl home," she added. "I'm sure it took enormous effort on many
parts, and my thought is on that, if the United States could do it then,
then I'm sure they can find a way to do it for Alan."

She said her husband's imprisonment has taken a great toll on the family.

But "I can't allow myself to really get down or to not do anything —
otherwise he won't come home. ... I have to stay strong," she said.


Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Peter Orsi on Twitter:

Source: HAVANA: Wife of US man jailed in Cuba says he's despondent -
Latest News - -

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Prats Sariol “To Write About the Cuban Reality is a Duty”

Prats Sariol: "To Write About the Cuban Reality is a Duty" / Luis Felipe
Posted on June 25, 2014

I hadn't seen José Prats Sariol since 1997, when he offered a lecture on
Phenomenology in the conference room of the School of Arts at the
University of Havana. Seventeen years later he came to Miami to talk
about the great poet Gaston Baquero, at the invitation of the Pen Club
of Cuban Writers in Exile, and Saturday afternoon, June 14, he spoke to
us of Gaston… and Cuba. The author of the novel Mariel (1997), the
studies contained in Criticizing the critic (1983), The Artizada Matter,
and others, presented the talk Gastón Baquero, poetic singularity.

"The fact that Gastón (an anti-communist, labeled with the epithets of
'Batista supporter' and 'Franco supporter') wrote a seminal text like
"With César Vallejo in Paris — when it rains" is a 'singular' event, if
we see that Vallejo was a community who was the direct opposite —
ideologically — of the Cuban who had to go into exile, after the
pressures put on him by the 'Cuban Revolution,'" said Prats Soriol.

"Both lived in the same street, in the same block, on the same sidewalk
in Madrid that harbored them, and only a sensitivity so high, this
singular detail, would make one find the other. The singularity is that
in this small deviation in which you say: this is different, it makes it
singular. It is one of the problems of poetry today, and it greatly
resembles that," he said.

The meeting featured the voices of the poets Orlando Rosardi and Angel
Cuadra reading a poem by Baquero. At the end of each piece Sariol talked
about the author of "Discourse of the Rose in Villalba," about how
Gastón came to Origins Magazine and how he later influenced the poets
who followed him. But for Cuba, the current professor at the University
of Arizona, offered an aside.

Cuba is a duty

Cuba is the passion of this Doctor of Philology who has crossed the
waters, the classrooms from Havana, Mexico to disembark with his lessons
and poetic approximations "in the Arizona desert." However, he admits
that he would like to bring the map of everything produced on the island.

"Sadly, many things escape me, books, authors. I could talk with a
certain authority about the generation of Origins, the generation of the
30s, but when I want to advance a little bit more, for example your
generation, I start to slip. And why? Because of ignorance, because I
don't have access to the books. I met Magaly Alabau here in the United
States, what ignorance, a critic of Cuban poetry who hadn't read Magaly
Alabau. I never had access to her, I didn't kow her, although later I
read her books, she became my friend.

"Prats, why haven't you written about Magaly Alabau?"

"Out of ignorance," I answered myself.

"As long as the dictatorship exists, it's a duty for me. Of course I
respect opinions, that other people aren't interested, but for me it's a
duty as a Cuban to write and offer my point of view about the situation
in Cuba, and I include all Cubans," he concluded.

16 June 2014

Source: Prats Sariol: "To Write About the Cuban Reality is a Duty" /
Luis Felipe Rojas | Translating Cuba -

About The Matter of Academic Fraud in Havana

About The Matter of Academic Fraud in Havana / Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Posted on June 24, 2014

It happened several years ago and it's now one of those open secrets
that even the kids know about: the bribery of teachers and professors at
all levels of teaching has ended up being, as a result of habituation,
something almost folkloric; and although it would be unfair to tar the
innocent and the guilty with the same brush, it was certainly worth
while having fired off warning shots about a matter which has reached
scandalous proportions, all the more so for having had the public
spotlight shone on it, in view of the terrible moral consequences, with
implications for all of us.

We are not always talking about bribery in the form of straightforward
cash. There is a whole range of resources available to the brown-nosers
and ostentatious people to achieve their objective and once the target
teacher has been singled out all you have to do is study his needs and
specific tastes in order to fire the shot, which could be delicious
snacks, made to measure clothes, expensive perfumes or exclusive
invitations, for example.

Without doubt, the lamentable economic hardship suffered by our
country´s educators influences all this, with a "salary" similar to that
earned up to now by our doctors, and which has kept both groups on the
edge of poverty for decades. But, it isn't for nothing that I write here
the word "influences" rather than "determines".

As a result of mysteries of human nature, at the same time and place as
some tend toward hypocrisy, others behave stoically. I know honourable
examples of teachers who never were shamelessly two-faced and who have
lived with decency while enduring poverty, and for that reason I cannot
accept that necessity is enough in itself to affect everyone equally,
however oppressive it may be.

It's clear that in this case as well, the people detained and prosecuted
— eight of them according to what was published by Granma — belong yet
again to the lower classes. Although transparency is always reasonable,
because it is the "raison d´etre" of all genuine journalism, and it is
worthwhile making an example, I ask myself if this official melodrama
would be equally able to denounce a sacred cow, a commander or
historical leader of the Revolution, in the event of it being shown that
they were implicated in some such difficulty.

Translated by GH

18 June 2014

Source: About The Matter of Academic Fraud in Havana / Jeovany Jimenez
Vega | Translating Cuba -

Setting the Record Straight

Setting the Record Straight* / Rafael Leon Rodriguez
Posted on June 24, 2014

In recent years, every time the issue of Cuba comes up, whether in
relation to the transition to democratic freedoms or to other topics of
a political nature, from any place in the world, our repressed national
island passions are unleashed. It doesn't matter whether it's about a
concert at the Civic Plaza** in Cuba, such as the one held in 2009 by
Juanes and other artists, or, as now, it's about a letter with proposals
to the President of the United States on Economic Issues.

The reactions for and against, beyond the extremes, show a plurality of
opinions from Cuba's emerging civil society. And this is logical, since
democracy is essential plural, as the peaceful opposition is plural, in
opposing the only thought embodied by the half century military
dictatorships that remains in power in Cuba.

The letter referenced, signed by forty Cuban and American personalities
based outside the island, invited President Barack Obama to east some of
the restrictions imposed by the American embargo on Cuba. This set of
long-standing laws, in our opinion and in the opinion of the majority of
the countries of the international community, have been
counterproductive for the Cuban people in every sense, justifying and
strengthening in different ways the human rights violations of the
Castro dictatorship, such that maintaining it is a difficult case to defend.

With regards to the text of the missive, focused primarily on aspects of
the market and not on human rights, at least places in the public arena
the agenda of the necessary and urgent changes in our archipelago.

The changes produced so far, determined by the new guidelines of the
Communist Party and the Revolution, clearly point to an economy of state
capitalism which guarantees the dynastic succession, under the processes
of the so-called 21st Century Socialism. Thus they flirt, supposedly
through the markets, with the merchants. But, as we already know from
experience, real socialism can only be patched up, and participative
democracy is the only form which is truly perfectible, and it is in that
direction, without a doubt, that we must turn our course.

In December 1996, the Cuban Democratic Project (Proyecto Demócrata
Cubano, or Prodecu) in an open letter to the U.S. government states: "It
is a fact that the political acts of the leaders of the United States of
America have influences and, at times, determined, the history of the
Cuban people over time. The last four decades have not escaped this

And it asked that, "the authorities of the government of United States
of American accept the proposals of the Cuban government to initiate
unconditional talks with the purpose of negotiating the Cuban-U.S. dispute."

It is this formula, of negotiating, that is the only one that can bring
us peacefully to democracy, justice, and the rule of law. The essential
elements are synthesized in the letter from the forty.

Translator's notes:

*The title "Singing the forty" is a play on words. In Spanish the
expression (from a card game) means "to read the riot act" or "to set
the record straight"; Rafael is also referring to the forty (in fact,
44) signers of the letter to Obama.

**"Civic Plaza" is the original name of what is now called the Plaza of
the Revolution.

10 June 2014

Source: Setting the Record Straight* / Rafael Leon Rodriguez |
Translating Cuba -