Monday, July 17, 2017

The Mistakes of Raúl Castro

The Mistakes of Raúl Castro

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 15 July 2017 – In his most recent
public speech before Parliament, General-President Raul Castro offered a
self-criticism about "political deviations" under which the private
sector and cooperatives are governed. "Mistakes are mistakes, and they
are mistakes… they are my mistakes in the first place, because I am a
part of this decision," he emphasized.

In the list of mistakes he didn't mention, he should have put in first
place the absence of a wholesale market to serve these forms of economic
management. It that option existed, honest entrepreneurs wouldn't have
to turn to the diversion of state resources to get raw materials and
equipment to allow them to produce goods and services in a profitable way.

The greatest advance in this direction has been opening shopping centers
were goods are sold "wholesale," meaning in large volume sacks or boxes,
but with the retail price per unit unchanged.

If, in addition, self-employed workers were allowed to legally import
and export commercially, with the required customs facilities, then
these forms of management would be on an equal footing with the state
companies, and be able to perform efficiently.

The underreporting of income to evade taxes is a problem that exists in
most countries where citizens must pay tribute to the state treasury. As
a rule, evasion of these payments is seen as a dishonest act where taxes
are fair, and as an act of self-defense where the state tries to suck
the blood out of entrepreneurs.

When governments have the vocation to grow the private sector, they
reduce taxes, whose only role is to redistribute wealth and increase the
financial capacity for social spending, but not to act as a drag to
reduce individuals' ability to grow and prosper.

Raúl Castro's most profound mistake, when he decided to expand
self-employment and the experiment of non-agricultural cooperatives, has
been to do so with the purpose of depriving the state of "non-strategic
activities, to generate jobs, deploy initiatives and contribute to the
efficiency of the national economy in the interest of the development of
our socialism."

This opportunistic vision, of using an element alien to the economic
model as the fuel to advance it, generates insurmountable
contradictions. An entrepreneur who starts a business is interested in
increasing his profits (according to Karl Marx) and growth. He does not
care that hiring workers will reduce unemployment and that their
particular efficiency will have repercussions on the country's
economy. Much less, that his good performance contributes to perfecting
a system that takes advantage of his success in a circumstantial way.

The entrepreneur dreams that in his country there are laws that protect
his freedom to do business, that his money is safe in the banks, and
that he has the right to import and export, to receive investments, to
open branches, to patent innovations without fear of unappealable
seizures or sudden changes in the rules of the game. Without fearing a
report will arrive on the president's desk detailing how many times he
has traveled abroad.

The entrepreneur would also like to be able to choose as a member of
parliament someone proposing such laws and defending the interests of
the private sector, which he does not see as a necessary evil, but as
the main engine to advance the country. Not understanding this is Raul
Castro's principal mistake.

Source: The Mistakes of Raúl Castro – Translating Cuba -

Average Wages Rise but Nobody in Cuba Lives on Their Salary

Average Wages Rise but Nobody in Cuba Lives on Their Salary

14ymedio, Mario Penton and Luz Escobar, Miami and Havana, 14 July 2017 —
Ileana Sánchez is anxiously rummaging through her tattered wallet,
looking for some bills to buy a toy slate for her seven-year-old
granddaughter who dreams of becoming a teacher. She has had to save for
months to get the 20 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos, roughly $20 US) that
the gift costs, since her monthly salary as a state inspector is only
315 CUP (Cuban pesos), about 12 dollars.

At the end of June, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information
(ONEI) reported that the average salary at national level reached 740
CUP per month, slightly more than 29 CUC. However, the increase in the
average salary does not represent a real improvement in the living
conditions of the worker, who continues to be able to access many goods
and services only through remittances sent from family abroad, savings
and withdrawals.

"I do not know who makes that much money, nor what they base these
figures on, because not even with the wages my husband earns working in
food service for 240 CUP a month, along with my wages, do we get that
much," says Sanchez.

The ONEI explains that the average monthly salary is "the average amount
of direct wages earned by a worker in a month." The calculation excludes
earning in CUC. However, the average salary is inflated by the increases
in "strategic" sectors, such as has happened in healthcare, where the
pay has been more than doubled, while in other areas of the economy
wages have remained practically unchanged for over a decade.

"If you buy food you can not buy clothes, if you buy clothes you can not
eat, we live every day thinking about how to come up with ways survive,"
she says in anguish.

Most Cubans do not support themselves on what they earn in jobs working
for the state, which employs 80% of the country's workforce.

President Raúl Castro himself acknowledged that wages "do not satisfy
all the needs of the worker and his family" and, in one of his most
critical speeches about the national reality in 2013, he said that "a
part of society" had become accustomed to stealing from the state.

Sanchez, on the other hand, justifies the thefts and believes that the
"those who live better" are those who have access to dollars or those
who receive remittances. "Anyone who doesn't have a family member abroad
or is a leader, is out of luck," she says.

According to the economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago, when speaking of an
increase in the average wage, a distinction must be made between the
nominal wage, that is, the amount of money people receive, and the real
wage, adjusted for inflation.

A recent study published by the academic shows that although the nominal
wage has grown steadily in recent years, the real wage of a Cuban is 63%
lower than it was in 1989, when Cuba was subsidized by the Soviet Union
and the government had various social protection programs. At present,
the entire month's salary of a worker is only enough to buy 10.3 whole
chickens or 7.6 tanks of liquefied gas.

Among retirees and pensioners, the situation is worse. The elderly can
barely buy 16% of what a pension benefit would buy before the most
difficult years of the so-called Special Period – the years of economic
crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union – according to Mesa-Lago.

Or by another measure, spending an entire month's salary a worker can
only afford 19 hours of internet connection in the Wi-Fi zones enabled
by the state telecommunications monopoly, Etecsa, or 84.5 minutes of
local calls through cell phones.

To buy a two-room apartment in a building built in 1936 in the central
and coveted Havana neighborhood of Vedado a worker would need to save
their entire salary for 98 years, while a Soviet-made Lada car from the
time of Brezhnev would cost the equivalent of 52 years of work.

However, the island's real estate market has grown in recent years at
the hands of private sector workers who accumulate hard currency, or by
investments made by the Cuban diaspora. In remittances alone, more than
three billion dollars arrives in Cuba every year.

According to Ileana Sánchez, before this panorama many people look for
work in the areas related to state food services or administration where
they can steal from the state, or jobs that provide contact with
international tourists such as in the hotels.

Other coveted jobs in the private sphere are the paladares – private
restaurants – and renting rooms and homes to tourists where you can get
tips. The "search" (as the theft is called) has become a more powerful
incentive to accept a job than the salary itself.

Although, according to the document published by the ONEI, workers in
the tourism and defense sector earn 556 and 510 pesos on average, many
of them receive as a bonus a certain amount of CUC monthly that is not
reflected in the statistics, and they also have access to more expensive
food and electrical appliances than does the rest of the population.

Among the best paid jobs in CUP, in order of income, are those in the
sugar industry, with 1,246 CUP on a monthly basis, and in agriculture
with 1,218. Among the worst paid jobs according to the ONEI are those
working in education, with 533 CUP, and in culture with 511.

For Miguel Roque, 48, a native of Guantánamo, low wages in the eastern
part of the country are driving migration to other provinces. He has
lived for 12 years in the Nuclear City, just a few kilometers from
Juraguá, in the province of Cienfuegos, where the Soviet Union began to
build a nuclear plant that was never finished.

"The East is another world. If you work here, imagine yourself there. A
place stopped in time," he explains. Roque works as a bricklayer in
Cienfuegos although he aspires to emigrate to Havana in the coming
months, where "work abounds and more things can be achieved."

The provinces where average wages are highest, according to the ONEI,
are Ciego de Avila (816 CUP), Villa Clara (808 CUP) and Matanzas (806
CUP), while the lowest paid are Guantanamo (633 CUP) and Isla de la
Juventud (655 CUP).

"Salary increases in the east of the country are not enough to fill the
gaps with the eastern and central provinces," explains Cuban sociologist
Elaine Acosta, who believes that cuts in the social services budgets are
aggravating the inequalities that result from the wage differences.

"It is no coincidence that the eastern provinces have the lowest figures
on the Human Development Index," he asserts.

Source: Average Wages Rise but Nobody in Cuba Lives on Their Salary –
Translating Cuba -

Un ‘Google cubano’ que responde a intereses del Gobierno

Un 'Google cubano' que responde a intereses del Gobierno
El buscador C.U.B.A. sigue sin ganar popularidad
Lunes, julio 17, 2017 | Eliseo Matos

LA HABANA, Cuba.- El buscador de contenidos C.U.B.A , una especie de
Google nacional para acceder a las publicaciones de la intranet en la
Isla, es manipulado por las autoridades cubanas de acuerdo a sus
intereses políticos.

C.U.B.A (Contenidos Unificados para Búsqueda Avanzada) surgió en julio
del 2015 con el objetivo de que quienes no tienen acceso a Internet
pudieran consultar las publicaciones y digitales bajo el dominio *.cu.

Sin embargo, pese a que los desarrolladores del sitio aseguran que "el
usuario puede tener una visión más amplia acerca de un mismo tema al
contar con varias fuentes de información y diferentes materiales de
consulta", la realidad muestra una versión parcializada de toda historia.

Al ingresar en el buscador, y poner términos como Fidel Castro,
socialismo, o revolución, todos los resultados llevan a enlaces de
páginas en las que se defiende ciegamente al régimen castrista.

En cambio, al colocar los términos Estados Unidos, cubanoamericanos y
otros semejantes, el buscador lleva al usuario a enlaces en los que se
habla peyorativamente de entidades norteamericanas y de opositores cubanos.

¿Está C.U.B.A a la altura de ser un Google cubano?

Según Lázaro Marimón, quien a menudo se conecta en un Joven Club de
Computación para navegar en Internet, "este buscador está muy limitado
pues siempre lleva a los mismos sitios nacionales, mientras que con
Google, Yahoo o Bing las posibilidades de encontrar mayor y mejor
información son más amplias".

La poca divulgación, aceptación o uso por parte de los usuarios de este
y otros proyectos se debe a que los mismos constituyen malas copias de
plataformas internacionales ya existentes.

Un ingeniero y profesor de la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas
(UCI), cuya identidad solicitó dejásemos en el anonimato, explicó a este
medio que "es sumamente difícil adaptar a las personas al uso de
plataformas como estas pues ya conocen otras más eficientes y atractivas
en la Internet".

Agrega que la ventaja de C.U.B.A está en el heho de que agrupa todos los
contenidos nacionales, pero que sigue siendo una copia bastante poco
atractiva. El informático de 28 años agrega que las copias forzadas no
perduran y que así como La Tendedera es una imitación de Facebook,
Reflejos es una copia de WordPress y La Mochila una semejanza del
paquete, este buscador nacional viene a ser un intento fracasado de
Google que pasará sin luces ni sombras".

Concluye argumentando que dichas imitaciones son un intento desesperado
del gobierno cubano por justificar la falta de acceso de Internet en la
Isla con "supuestas alternativas", así como para controlar más la
información a la que los usuarios acceden.

Source: Un 'Google cubano' que responde a intereses del Gobierno
CubanetCubanet -

Discriminatory prices: how much do things cost?

Discriminatory prices: how much do things cost?
FERNANDO DÁMASO | La Habana | 17 de Julio de 2017 - 12:05 CEST.

The establishment of Cuba's two different currencies (CUC and CUP), and
their different applications (1x24, 1x10, 1x2 and 1x1), according to the
Government's convenience, besides sowing economic chaos, also features
an immoral component for those affected by it.

Setting aside the unfair and all too well known problem of being paid
wages in CUP and having to make purchases in CUC, as well as the
exorbitant prices of products, there are other no less arbitrary
manifestations, such as the 12.5% ​​(10 in taxes and 2.5 for the
procedure) subtracted from every dollar when exchanged for CUC.

A Cuban citizen residing abroad must pay for his passport at a price
four to five times greater than that paid by a resident on the island,
which is 100 CUC, and must renew it every two years at the price of 20
CUC. That is, a passport, which is valid for only six years, actually
costs him 140 CUC.

The resident abroad, after adding up the initial price and the costs of
renewals, must pay much more. Moreover, those visiting the country must
pay for everything in CUC starting right at the airport – perhaps as a
subtle form of punishment for residing outside it, and as an indirect
recognition that those living abroad can afford it, as they enjoy better
economic conditions than in Cuba.

Visiting a museum has one price, in CUP, for Cubans, and the same
figure, but in CUC, for foreigners and Cubans living abroad. The Museum
of the Revolution, for example, costs Cubans 8 CUP, but 8 CUC (192 CUP)
for foreigners and Cubans living abroad; attending the 9:00 PM cannon
ceremony at the fortress of La Cabaña costs the same as the entrance to
the aforecited museum; entrance to the National Aquarium costs 10 CUP
and 10 CUC (240 CUP), in each case, while access to the Havana Zoo costs
2 CUP and 2 CUC (48 CUP), for the two respective groups.

These discriminatory prices also apply at many other cultural, musical,
and athletic facilities, and more. Foreigners are provided medical care
at clinics and hospitals that charge them in CUC. The most extreme
example of this occurs when, at a low-price, run-down, state-run
gastronomic establishment, the foreigner or Cuban resident living abroad
is asked to pay 2 CUC (48 CUP) for a simple glass of cola, which is sold
to a Cuban resident for 2 CUP.

Even at the Cementerio de Colón (Columbus Cemetery), access to which was
previously free for visitors, foreigners are now charged 5 CUC, even if
they do not form part of a group led by a tour guide. To ensure this
they are only allowed to enter through the main door on the Calle
Zapata, and they are barred access through any of the other three doors.

Foreigners, in addition to this monetary discrimination, face both
institutional and private tourist harassment, in the form of roaming
musicians, flower sellers, costumed characters; illegal vendors of
cigarettes, medicines and rum; managers of rooms, restaurants and
paladares; and even female and male prostitutes, who descend on them
like a swarm of flies.

There is certainly nothing wrong with charging for entrance to certain
sites of interest, in order to cover the costs of their maintenance, as
the gratuity policy, erroneously applied for years, proved a failure.
But equal prices must be applied, as is done in countries all over the
world, and not through this form of monetary apartheid.

This evil, like an epidemic, has spread to taxi drivers, whether state
or private, who charge everyone, for a trip to or from the airport (17
km), 25 CUCs during the day and 30 CUCs early in the morning, 15 o 20
CUC from Nuevo Vedado to Old Havana or vice versa, and the same if they
cross the 23rd Street bridge or any of the tunnels towards Municipio
Playa, or they travel to the eastern beaches (25 km). An individual taxi
trip to Varadero (140 km) costs 100 CUC and, if a group, 20 CUC per
person. In this last modality: Trinidad (335 km) costs 30 CUC, Viñales
(189 km) is 20 CUC and Cienfuegos (254) is 25 CUC.

This monetary chaos, established and encouraged by the authorities,
seems to be just one more of the many originalities of "prosperous and
efficient socialism", now also described as "sovereign, independent and
democratic", according to the latest official statements, despite the
discrimination between Cuban nationals living on the island, those
living off it, and foreign nationals.

This reality seriously calls into question the Cubans' proverbial
hospitality, much touted in the State's tourist propaganda.

Source: Discriminatory prices: how much do things cost? | Diario de Cuba

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested

Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 June 2017 — Alejandro Marcel Mendivil, successful
entrepreneur, owner of El Litoral, a restaurant located at Malecon #161,
between L & K, and the restaurant Lungo Mare, located in 1ra Esquina C,
in the Vedado district, was arrested in Havana on June 8.

The reasons are not clear. Some claim that Marcel Mendivil is accused of
money laundering and ties to drug trafficking; and others claim that if
you are "noticed" in Cuba, it has a price.

"Alejandro is a young man hungry for challenges and pleasure. He has
money, social recognition, he helps all his neighbors, has ties to
diplomats as important as the ones in the American Embassy. He also has
dealings with high ranking Cuban military and maintains very important
access to the government elite. His ambitions go beyond those of common
entrepreneurs, and to that add that the fact that he has charisma. Isn't
that a lethal combination? Alejandro is no drug trafficker or money
launderer; he only tested power and ended up making it angry," says one
of the neighbors of his restaurant El Litoral, a retiree from the
Ministry of the Interior.

"It was early in the morning, says an employee, the sea was flat as a
plate when the operative began. Not even the Interior Ministry (MININT),
nor the state officials gave any explanations in order to close the
restaurant. They (the police) only told the employees that were present
that we had to leave the place and look for another job in another
restaurant because this closure was going to last. We were closed once,
when an issue with the alcohol, but Alejandro solved it".

"They got in and identified themselves as members of the State
Security's Technical Department of Investigations (DTI). They checked
the accounting, the kitchen, lifted some tiles from the floor and they
even took nails from the walls. An official with a mustache, who
wouldn't stop talking with someone on his BLU cellphone, was saying that
they would find evidence to justify the charge of drug trafficking."

"That looked like a theater, but with misleading script. It was not the
DTI. In fact, Alejandro was not jailed at 100 and Aldabo, but rather
held incommunicado in Villa Marista (a State Security prison). The whole
thing was a State Security operation to put a stop Alejandro, who was
earning money working and was becoming an attractive figure; in a
country such as this one, where leaders, all of them, are very weak."

The incident is timely to a discussion held during the extraordinary
session of the National Assembly of People's Power, which took place
last May 30, where the Cuban vice-president Marino Murillo asserted that
the new model of the socialist island "will not allow the concentration
of property or wealth even when we are promoting the existence of the
private sector."

According to sources consulted in the Prosecutor General of the Republic
of Cuba, there are plans for measures similar to those taken against
Marcel Mendivil for these wealthy and influential owners of a paladar
(private restaurant) located in Apartment 1, Malecon 157, between K&L,
Vedado. And also against another one in Egido 504 Alton, between Montes
& Dragones, Old Havana, in addition to two in Camaguey that were not

Translated by: LYD

Source: Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida –
Translating Cuba -

Cuba courted in diplomatic push on Venezuela crisis

Cuba courted in diplomatic push on Venezuela crisis
Colombian president flies to Havana to seek support for regional
John Paul Rathbone in Miami

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's president, was set to fly to Cuba on
Sunday on a mission to convince Havana to support a regional diplomatic
push to staunch Venezuela's growing crisis, which has left 90 dead after
three months of protests.

The initiative, which Argentina and Mexico are understood to support, is
controversial but potentially effective as socialist Cuba is Venezuela's
strongest ally and its intelligence services are understood to work as
close advisers to Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's embattled president.

"Santos is one of the few people, perhaps the only one, who knows the
three key players well," said one person with an understanding of the
situation. "He knows Maduro and Venezuela, he knows Raúl Castro, and he
knows Donald Trump and the US state department."

The diplomatic initiative comes at a critical time for Venezuela, as Mr
Maduro moves to rewrite the Opec country's constitution to cement the
ruling Socialist party's control by installing Soviet-style communes. An
early gauge of the regional diplomacy's success will be if Mr Maduro
cancels the July 30 constitutional convention to create a legislative

Venezuela's opposition on Sunday mounted a symbolic referendum against
the convention, which polls show three-quarters of Venezuelans oppose.
The convention is widely seen as a point of no return for Venezuela.

Early indications suggested the referendum was passing peacefully.
Opposition activists posted photographs on social media of long lines of
people outside impromptu polling stations, not only in Venezuela but in
towns and cities worldwide, from Australia to Malaysia to Saudi Arabia
and Italy, where Venezuelans living abroad were invited to vote.

Julio Borges, the head of the National Assembly, or parliament, told a
news conference in Caracas on Sunday he hoped the exercise would serve
as "a great earthquake, that shakes the conscience of those in power".

The government has played down the popular vote, which is non-binding.
It says the real election will come on July 30, although some analysts
have suggested there is still time for Mr Maduro to change his mind.

"To the extent that the [opposition referendum] prompts even
more . . . pushback . . .[it] could prompt [Maduro] to back down," Risa
Grais-Targow, analyst at Eurasia, the risk consultancy, wrote on Friday.
But "if Maduro does hold the vote on 30 July, it will represent a new
apex in the country's ongoing political crisis. It will also test the
loyalty of the security apparatus, as the opposition will likely
mobilise significant protests across the country".

Mr Santos has worked closely with Havana, Washington and Caracas over
the past six years as part of Colombia's peace process between the
government and the Farc guerrilla group. But his Cuba visit, part of a
long-schedule commercial mission to Havana, is also a sign of mounting
international exasperation over Venezuela.

At the recent G20 meeting in Hamburg, Mauricio Macri, the Argentine
president, backed by Mariano Rajoy, Spanish prime minister, implored
other heads of state to "take note of the situation in Venezuela, where
they do not support human rights".

The crisis in Venezuela has drained the country's foreign reserves with
figures released on Friday showing the central bank's coffers had
dropped below $10bn for the first time in 15 years.

The fall in reserves is likely to rekindle fears that Caracas might
default on its debt obligations this year. The state and its oil
company PDVSA are due to make capital and interest repayments of $3.7bn
in the fourth quarter.

Despite widespread concern over Venezeula's plight, there has been
little concrete action from other countries besides the US and Brazil.
Washington has placed targeted financial sanctions on some Venezuelan
officials while Brazil suspended sales of tear gas to the Venezuelan

Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, last month said the US was
building a "robust list" of other individuals to sanction. A more
extreme US policy option that has also been discussed in Washington is
to ban sales of Venezuelan oil into the US market.

US refiners have lobbied the White House against including crude imports
in any broader potential sanctions package as Venezuela is the US's
second-biggest foreign supplier to the gulf coast. A ban could also have
an impact on domestic fuel prices.

Cuba would make an unusual ally in an internationally-mediated attempt
to broker peace in Venezuela as it receives subsidised oil from Caracas
in return for medical services. Relations with Washington have also
cooled after Mr Trump partially rolled back the US rapprochement in
June, courting support from conservative Cuban-American legislators in

But Havana could usefully offer safe haven exile for Mr Maduro's senior
officials who, with a bolt hole to flee to, would no longer need to
fight to the last.

Additional reporting Gideon Long in Bogotá

Source: Cuba courted in diplomatic push on Venezuela crisis -

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals

Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 14 June 2017 — What you lose last is hope. And those who
have plans to immigrate to the United States maintain bulletproof optimism.

Close to a small park in Calzada street, next to Rivero's funeral home,
dozens of restless people await their appointment for the consular
interview at the American Embassy located at the Havana's Vedado district.

Ronald, a mixed-race man of almost six feet, requested a tourist visa to
visit his mother in Miami. Before going to the embassy he bathed with
white flowers and sounded a maraca gourd before the altar of the Virgen
de la Caridad, Cuba's Patron Saint, wishing that they would approve his

Outside the diplomatic site, dozens of people await restlessly. Each one
of them has a story to tell. Many have had their visas denied up to five
times while some are there for the first time with the intent to get an
American visa; they rely on astrology or some other witchcraft.

Daniela is one of those people. "Guys, the astral letter says that Trump
instructed the embassy people to give the biggest possible number of
visas," she says to others also waiting.

Rumors grow along the line of those who read in social media — never in
the serious news — that Trump, in his next speech in Miami, will reverse
the reversal of the "wet foot-dry foot" policy.

In a park on Linea Street with Wi-Fi internet service, next to the
Camilo Cienfuegos clinic, two blocks from the United States Embassy,
Yaibel comments with a group of internet users that a friend who lives
in Florida told him that Trump was going to issue open visa to all Cubans.

The most ridiculous theories circulate around the city among those who
dream to migrate. The facts or promises made by Trump to close the
faucet of immigration mean nothing to them.

Guys like Josue holds on to anything that makes him think that his luck
will change. "That's the gossip going on. Crazy Trump will open all
doors to Cubans… Dude we are the only country in Latin America that
lives under a dictatorship. If they give us carte blanch three or four
million people will emigrate. The Mariel Boatlift will be small in
comparison. That's the best way to end this regime. These people — the
government — will be left alone here"… opines the young man.

In a perfect domino effect, some people echo the huge fantasy. "Someone
told me that they were going to offer five million working visas to
Cubans. The immigrants would be located in those states where they need
laborers. The people would need to come back in around a year, since the
Cuban Adjustment Act will be eliminated," says Daniela, who doesn't
remember where she heard such a delirious version.

Now, let's talk seriously. If something Donald Trump has showed, aside
from being superficial and erratic, it is being a president profoundly
anti-immigrant. But more than a few ordinary Cubans want to assert the

The ones who wish to immigrate are the only segment that awaits with
optimism good news from Trump. The spectrum of opinion of the rest of
the Cubans ranges from indifference to concern.

In the local dissidence sector, the ones who believed that Trump was
going to open his wallet or go back to Obama's strategy towards dissent,
became more pessimistic after the White House announced a decrease of
$20 million dollars for civil society programs.

"Those groups that obtained money thanks to the Department of State are
pulling their hair out. But the ones that receive financing from the
Cuban exiles are not that unprotected," indicates a dissident who
prefers to remain anonymous.

The Palace of the Revolution in Havana is probably the place where
Trump's pronouncements are awaited with the greatest impatience. The
autocracy, dressed in olive green, has tried to be prudent with the
magnate from New York.

Contrary to Fidel Castro's strategy, which at the first sign of change
would prepare a national show and lengthy anti-imperialist speeches,
Raul's regime has toned that down as much as possible.

In certain moments they have criticized him. However, without
offensiveness and keeping the olive branch since the government is
betting on continuing the dialogue with the United Estates, to lift the
embargo, to receive millions of gringo tourists and to begin business
with American companies.

Official analysts are waiting for Trump to act from his entrepreneur
side. The autocracy is offering business on a silver plate, as long as
it is with state companies.

According to a source that works with Department of Foreign trade, "The
ideal would be to continue the roadmap laid out by Obama. With the
situation in Venezuela and the internal economic crisis, the official
wish is that relations with the United States deepen and millions in
investments begins. The government will give in, as long as it doesn't
feel pressured with talk about Human Rights.

"I hope that Trump is pragmatic. If he opens fire and returns to the
scenario of the past, those here will climb back into the trenches.
Confrontation didn't yield anything in 55 years. However, in only two
years of Obama's policy, aside from the panic of many internal leaders,
there was a large popular acceptance," declares the source.

In Havana's streets Trump is not appreciated. "That guy is insane. Dense
and a cretin and that's all. If he sets things back, to me it's all the
same. The majority of ordinary Cubans don't benefit from the agreements
made on December 17. Of course, I think it was the government's fault,"
says Rey Angel, worker.

And the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations and the extension of
Obama's policy to get closer to the the island's private workforce,
caused more notice in the press than concrete changes.

The people consulted do not believe that Trump will reduce the amount of
money sent in remittances by Cubans overseas, or the number of trips
home by Cubans living in the United States. "If he does, it will affect
many people who live off the little money and things that family living
in the North (United States) can send", says a lady waiting in line at
Western Union.

The rupture of the Obama strategy will decidedly affect the military
regime. And it looks like the White House will fire its rockets against
the flotation line. But anything can happen. Trump is just Trump.

Translated by: LYD

Source: Cuba Awaits New Trump Proposals / Iván García – Translating Cuba

Parliamentary Karaoke

Parliamentary Karaoke

14ymedio, Generation y, Yoani Sanchez, 14 July 2017 — Wednesday
night. The neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado is sliding into the
darkness. Catchy music resonates in the Hotel Tulipán where
parliamentarians are staying during the current regular session. They
dance, drink under the sparkling lights of the disco ball and sing
karaoke. They add their voices to a programmed score, the exercise they
know how to do best.

With only two sessions a year, the Cuban legislative body gathers to
stuff the population full of dates, figures, promises to keep, and
critiques of the mismanagement of bureaucrats and administrators. A
monotonous clamor, where every speaker tries to show themselves more
"revolutionary" than the last, launching proposals with an exhausting
generality or a frightening lack of vision.

Those assembled for this eighth legislature, like their colleagues
before them, have as little ability to make decisions as does any
ordinary Cuban waiting at the bus stop. They can raise their voice and
"talk until they're blue in the face," and enumerate the inefficiencies
that limit development in their respective districts, but from there to
concrete solutions is a long stretch.

On this occasion, the National Assembly has turned its back on pressures
that, from different sectors, demand new legislation regarding the
electoral system, audiovisual productions, management of the press, same
sex marriage and religious freedoms, among others. With so many urgent
issues, the deputies have only managed to draft the "Terrestrial Waters

Does this mean that they need to meet more often to fix the country's
enormous problems? The question is not only one of the frequency or
intensity in the exercise of their functions, but also one of freedom
and power. A parliament is not a park bench where you go to find
catharsis, nor a showcase to demonstrate ideological fidelity. It should
represent the diversity of a society, propose solutions and turn them
into laws. Without this, it is just a boring social chinwag.

The parliamentarians will arrive on Friday, the final day of their
regular session, in front of the microphones in the Palace of
Conventions with the same meekness that they approached the karaoke
party to repeat previously scripted choruses. They are going to sing to
music chosen by others, move their lips to that voice of real power that
emerges from their throats.

Source: Parliamentary Karaoke – Translating Cuba -

Familia de violinista que tocó para Trump niega acusación de Cuba de que su padre mató a Frank País

Familia de violinista que tocó para Trump niega acusación de Cuba de que
su padre mató a Frank País
Especial/el Nuevo Herald

Durante la visita del presidente Donald Trump a Miami el 16 de junio, el
violinista cubano Luis Haza interpretó el himno de Estados Unidos en el
emblemático teatro Manuel Artime de La Pequeña Habana. Este hecho hizo
que el Presidente mencionara la masacre de la Loma de San Juan en
Santiago de Cuba, el 12 de enero de 1959, en la que fueron fusiladas 71
personas, apenas 12 días después del triunfo de la llamada revolución

Entre los fusilados estuvo Bonifacio Haza Grasso, comandante de la
Policía Nacional en Santiago de Cuba en los días finales del gobierno de
Fulgencio Batista y padre del violinista invitado al encuentro con Trump.

Como respuesta, el gobierno cubano a través del sitio Cubadebate,
plataforma de propaganda, reaccionó airado minimizando el virtuosismo
del violinista y señalando que Trump no mencionó en su discurso que "el
padre de Luis, Bonifacio Haza Grasso, fue uno de los asesinos del joven
líder revolucionario Frank País". Este 30 de julio se cumplen 60 años de
la muerte de País, líder del Movimiento 26 de Julio –y su jefe de acción
y sabotaje en todo el país–, en las calles santiagueras, a los 22 años.

Cubadebate basa su afirmación en un texto aparecido en ese mismo portal
en agosto del 2014, firmado por el contralmirante retirado José Luis
Cuza Téllez, a quien mencionan como compañero de Frank País. En el
artículo se apunta claramente que el teniente coronel José María Salas
Cañizares, supervisor de la Policía Nacional, ejecutó personalmente a
Frank País y a su compañero, Raúl Pujol.

"Golpearon brutalmente a Pujol, que cayó inconsciente […] a adonde fue
Salas y le ametralló toda la espalda con una ráfaga larga. Se viró para
donde estaba Frank y le tiró los últimos proyectiles que le quedaban",
escribe el Contraalmirante. De manera que la acusación de Cubadebate
queda desmentida en sus propias palabras. Sólo se afirma en el trabajo
que Bonifacio Haza Grasso estaba en el lugar.

El líder del Movimiento 26 de Julio Frank País.
Sin embargo, otro de los hijos del comandante Haza Grasso, Bonifacio L.
Haza, afirma que su padre amaneció enfermo el día de la muerte de Pujol
y País. "Mi padre amaneció enfermo con un ataque a la vesícula […] lo sé
porque yo estaba allí, y mi madre nos decía que guardáramos silencio
para que mi padre pudiera dormir hasta que se le pasara el dolor […].
Ese día nos llegó la noticia que Frank País había sido muerto", dijo.

En el 2012, Bonifacio L. Haza, que reside en Vero Beach, en el centro de
la Florida, publicó el libro de memorias Escritos sobre la arena, donde
detalla muchos de los episodios en la vida de su padre, y en particular
sobre la ejecución en la Loma de San Juan. Allí, sentencia: "Algunos
fueron ejecutados por el solo hecho de haber pertenecido o colaborado
con el Ejército y la Policía Nacional".

Como líder del movimiento 26 de Julio, Frank País tenía la misión de
articular las acciones de sabotaje, por lo que usaba una pistola STAR
calibre 38 para sus acciones. Estos datos corresponden al artículo del
contralmirante Cuza Téllez, lo que hacía a País un hombre peligroso y
buscado por las autoridades.

En el libro se destaca que el comandante Haza Grasso estuvo al frente de
la Policía Nacional en Santiago de Cuba mientras el ejército combatía a
los guerrilleros en la Sierra Maestra. "Su trabajo era mantener el orden
público, no pelear contra los alzados", señala su hijo, quien describe a
su padre como un hombre que "no fue extremista y no estuvo de acuerdo
con el golpe del 10 de marzo de 1952". Luego añade que su padre ejerció
como intermediario para propiciar las conversaciones entre el Ejército
Nacional y el Ejército Rebelde. Algunas fotos de la época muestran a
Fidel y Raúl Castro, conversando con Haza Grasso, el 1ro. de enero de
1959 en El Caney "para ultimar la entrada de los rebeldes que habían
proclamado la victoria", tras la huida de Batista hacia República

Para Bonifacio L. Haza, "la masacre de los 71 no fue un hecho fortuito.
La evidencia sugiere que esto fue un acto premeditado, planeado, y
preparado con anterioridad"; añadiendo: "la trinchera de unos 40 metros
de largo, donde caían los cuerpos de los ejecutados, fue cavada antes de
que fueran condenados a muerte". Así lo resalta en su libro.

El sacerdote Jorge Bez Chabebe que asistió en sus horas finales a
algunos de los fusilados en la Loma de San Juan, y autor del libro Dios
me hizo cura, le expresó al periodista Pedro Corzo, en una entrevista,
que al llegar al sitio de las ejecuciones se encontró que habían abierto
"un hueco largo y profundo", y que el capitán Fernando Vecino Alegret,
que luego ejerció como ministro de Educación Superior, estaba al frente
de las ejecuciones. En su testimonio menciona que intentó intervenir
para evitar la masacre, pero fue inútil. El propio Vecino le dijo que si
no los ejecutaba, lo iban a fusilar a él.

El periodista Luis González Lalondry apunta que Haza Grasso como jefe de
la policía de Santiago de Cuba "era muy blando con los rebeldes y no
seguía las órdenes que recibía de La Habana", por eso enviaron a
comandar la zona a Salas Cañizares. Lalondry añade: "Bonifacio era una
persona muy decente, una bella persona, pero eso lo hacía bastante débil".

Quién ametralló a Frank País
Lalondry afirma que ni Haza Grasso, ni Salas Cañizares ejecutaron a
Frank País. Señala directamente al sargento Manuel "El Gallego" Fabelo,
que era el ametrallador de Salas Cañizares. "Eso me lo confesó el propio
Fabelo aquí en Miami durante un encuentro en 1961", sentencia Lalondry,
para luego añadir: "Frank País y su gente ponían bombas, petardos,
mataban a policías y guardias rurales para quitarles las armas. Eran
gentes muy violentas, por eso cuando supieron dónde estaban escondidos
los cercaron. En medio de todo aquel operativo, Fabelo lo vio y le
disparó varias veces". Lalondry añade que durante el testimonio del
ametrallador de Salas Cañizares, éste le dijo que no supo a quién había
matado hasta que la noticia corrió. Fabelo murió hace algún tiempo en
Los Ángeles, California.

Lalondry describe a Frank País como "un asesino completo, un hombre que
era maestro, pero que Fidel Castro lo convirtió en un monstruo". Durante
la convulsa época previa al triunfo de la revolución castrista, el
periodista se desempeñaba como comentarista del programa de radio La
juventud con Batista, en Santiago de Cuba, por lo que personalmente
Frank dio la orden de eliminarlo.

"Frank País quería matarme porque, decía que yo le estaba haciendo mucho
daño y había que parar ese programa de radio", dijo Lalondry, detallando
varios intentos de asesinato. "En una ocasión me siguieron varias
cuadras. Yo apuré el paso y ellos hicieron lo mismo. Logré subir a una
guagua y vi a uno de ellos haciendo un gesto con la mano llevándosela al
cuello, indicándome que me matarían. Eso lo denuncié en mi programa de

El Movimiento 26 de Julio tanto en la Sierra Maestra, donde estaban los
rebeldes, como en el clandestinaje, que encabezaba País, motivaron actos
violentos, que al salir Batista de Cuba le abrió las puertas a Fidel
Castro para una serie de juicios sumarísimos y ejecuciones, en muchos
casos, arbitrarias.

Un fusilamiento injusto
Uno de las ejecuciones injustas parece ser la de Bonifacio Haza Grasso.
"Él fue Jefe de la Policía, pero al triunfar la revolución "se paseó por
las calles de Santiago con un brazalete del Movimiento 26 de Julio en su
brazo", apunta Lalondry. Aun así, hubo un giro inesperado y Haza Grasso
es uno de los fusilados en la Loma de San Juan. "Haza Grasso fue el
último que fusilaron, cerca de las 9 de la mañana", expresa Lalondry
citando al padre Chabebe, presente en las ejecuciones.

Bonifacio hijo confirma que su padre recibió el brazalete del 26 de
Julio. "Yo no recuerdo cuándo exactamente se lo dieron, pero sí lo tenía
atado al brazo", recuerda, para añadir que Raúl Castro "ascendió a mi
padre a Ayudante del Jefe del Ejército, cargo que desempeñó por 8 días,
vistiendo el uniforme azul de policía, pero con el brazalete del 26 de

Entonces, qué motivó el giro para deshacerse de Haza Grasso, si de
alguna manera había asumido el lado de los triunfantes rebeldes. Su hijo
afirma: "Mi padre fue usado por Fidel y Raúl como puente para proyectar
una imagen inicial democrática. Cuando ya no lo necesitaron, decidieron
hacerle un número 8, acusarlo y fusilarlo. Sencillamente a mi padre lo
fusilaron porque no lo necesitaban más. Lo engañaron y él cayó en la

Tanto Bonifacio L. Haza como el padre Chabebe y Lalondry, señalan
directamente a Raúl Castro como la persona que dio la orden de
fusilarlo. "Hubo un juicio donde el chofer de un carro fúnebre acusó a
Haza Grasso de la muerte de cuatro jóvenes rebeldes", manifiesta
Lalondry, algo que corrobora Haza. "Tras ese juicio, Raúl llama a Haza
Grasso al Moncada, donde lo humilla públicamente y le arranca el
brazalete del 26 de Julio del brazo", concluye Lalondry.

Bonifacio L. Haza está convencido que el Che, Fidel y Raúl tenían un
plan secreto para llevar a Cuba al comunismo, por lo que mientras les
convino, utilizaron a ciertas personas, entre ellas a su padre, para
mantener engañado al pueblo, mientras consolidaban su propósito.

Ante la pregunta de por qué desempolvar todo esto seis décadas después,
Haza piensa que como una respuesta desesperada a las palabras del
Presidente en Miami: "el discurso del presidente Trump, llamando la
atención sobre la masacre de los 71 en la Loma de San Juan, puso al
régimen en la disyuntiva de ignorar lo que dijo Trump, o arremeter
contra la memoria de nuestro padre por la presencia en el acto de mi
hermano Luis. Optó por la segunda, con todo tipo de calumnias, para
desviar la atención de los crímenes de Raúl Castro", concluye.

Source: Familia de violinista que tocó para Trump niega acusación de
Cuba de que su padre mató a Frank País | El Nuevo Herald -

Trump administration again suspends a part of Cuba embargo

Trump administration again suspends a part of Cuba embargo
By JOSH LEDERMAN Published July 14, 2017 Markets Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is suspending for another six
months a provision of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The State Department says it has told Congress that it will keep
suspending a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that deals with property
seized from Americans. The provision lets Americans use U.S. courts to
sue non-American companies that operate and deal with property
confiscated after Fidel Castro's revolution.

It's the latest sign that President Donald Trump is not fully reversing
President Barack Obama's opening of relations with Cuba. Last month
Trump announced he was rolling back some changes, but he left others in

The law has been in place since 1996. Recent U.S. presidents have
repeatedly suspended the lawsuit provision for six months at a time.

Source: Trump administration again suspends a part of Cuba embargo | Fox
Business -

Cuba’s Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump

Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump
- Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on
Trump's June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
- He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying
his country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue
The Associated Press

Cuban President Raul Castro denounced President Donald Trump's tougher
line on relations with Havana on Friday, calling it a setback but
promising to continue working to normalize ties between the former Cold
War rivals.

Castro's comments to Cuba's National Assembly were his first on Trump's
June announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-U.S. detente
achieved by then-President Barack Obama. They contained echoes of the
harsh rhetoric of the past.

"Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through
coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail," Cuba's
president told legislators.

He also rejected any "lessons" on human rights from the U.S., saying his
country "has a lot to be proud about" on the issue.

Surrounded by Cuban-American exiles and Cuban dissidents in Miami, Trump
announced last month that the U.S. would impose new limits on U.S.
travelers to the island and ban any payments to the military-linked
conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism industry. He
said the U.S. would consider lifting those and other restrictions only
after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal
changes including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of
assembly and holding free elections.

Trump's policy retained elements of Obama's reforms but tightened
restrictions on travel and employed harsh rhetoric on human rights.

On Friday in Washington, the Trump administration said it was suspending
for another six months a provision of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The State Department said it told Congress that it will keep suspending
a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that deals with property seized from
Americans. The provision lets Americans use U.S. courts to sue
non-American companies that operate and deal with property confiscated
after Fidel Castro's revolution.

Speaking to the National Assembly, Castro called the Trump
administration's policies a "setback," though he reiterated his
government's position that it would work to normalize relations with

Earlier in the legislative session, Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas
announced that Cuba's economy is growing again after a dip last year.

Cabrisas said the economy grew around 1 percent in the first half of
2017. That puts GDP growth on track to hit 2 percent for the year.

The government said the economy shrank last year by 1 percent amid
falling support from troubled Venezuela. That was the first decrease
reported in two decades. Cabrisas said that instability in the supply of
Venezuelan oil weighs on the country but tourism, construction,
transportation and communications were growing.

Foreign media did not have access to the National Assembly session.

Source: Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump -

Cuba says GDP recovers, up about 1 percent so far in 2017

Cuba says GDP recovers, up about 1 percent so far in 2017
HAVANA — Jul 14, 2017, 5:59 PM ET

The Cuban government said Friday that the economy is growing again
following a decline last year that was the first drop reported in two

Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas said at the opening session of the
National Assembly that Cuba's GDP grew just over 1 percent in the first
six months of 2017 and is on track to hit an estimated 2 percent for the
full year.

The rebound came despite the economic crisis in Venezuela, which
provides oil and other support to the island. The government said Cuba's
economy shrank last year by 1 percent amid falling help from Venezuela,
which is struggling with triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages
of food and other basic goods. The decrease was the first reported by
Cuba in years.

Cuban media quoted Cabrisas as telling the assembly that instability in
the supply of Venezuelan oil weighs on the country's economy but
tourism, construction, transportation and communications are all growing.

Foreign media were not allowed to attend the session, which was presided
over by President Raul Castro.

Some growth in tourism is due to the normalization of relations with the
U.S. that was started by President Barack Obama and is now threatened
under President Donald Trump.

Source: Cuba says GDP recovers, up about 1 percent so far in 2017 - ABC
News -

Friday, July 14, 2017

Higher Taxes

Higher Taxes / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 6 July 2017 — It is no secret among Cubans that their
government is inept and inefficient. Fifty-eight years of failure attest
to this.

With the emergence of self-employment, however, officials have found a
way to fill the state's coffers without having to devote resources or
effort to it. It's called taxes.

They have devised (and continue to devise) taxes of all kinds to drain
citizens who have decided to work for themselves rather than depend on
the state.

The recent tax increase on the sale of homes is one example and there is
talk of increases in other areas as well. A contract was recently
announced in which homeowners would provide rooms to Public Health
clients in order to care for those who are ill or need medical attention.

As logic would have it, it would be at the homeowner's expense even
though every medical tourist's insurance pays for it. Never in Cuban
history, even during the colonial era, has there been a government that
exploited its citizens more than this one.

No one disputes the need for taxes as a contribution to the maintenance
of the state and its social services. But the assumption is that the
state will create wealth and not use taxes as its main source of income.
There is also no entity or authority that exercises control on citizens'
behalf over the expenses of the state. The so-called Comptroller General
of the Republic exercises this role only over her own ministry, not over
the president or vice-presidents.

According to the legislation passed last month at a special session of
the National Assemby, "the accumulation of property and weath by
citizens is not and will not be permitted."

Fortunately for the citizens, the laws are made by men, and when they
disappear most of the time the laws disappear as well. Nothing is
eternal. To believe otherwise shows a lack of intelligence.

Source: Higher Taxes / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -

How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela

How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela / Iván García

Iván García, 11 July 2017 — After painting the facades of several
buildings along 10 de Octobre street, the workers of the brigade shelter
from the terrifying heat in doorways, eating lunch, having a smoke or
simply chatting.

These days, in Havana's La Vibora neighborhood, in the area between Red
Square and the old Bus Terminal, there is a hive of workers dedicated to
converting the one-time terminal into a cooperative taxi base.

The work includes asphalting the surrounding streets and a quick splash
of cheap paint on the buildings along the street.

"They say that Raul Castro or Miguel Diaz-Canel is going to come to
visit the Luis de La Puente Uceda Limited Access Surgical Hospital and
to inaugurate the taxi base," says a worker sweating buckets.

When they finish talking about the poor performance of the national
baseball team against an independent league in Canada, a group of
workers comment on the street protest that have been going on for more
than a month, led by the opposition in Venezuela, and how much the
economy and energy picture of Cuba could be affected.

Yander, in dark blue overalls, shrugs his shoulders and responds, "I
don't follow politics much. But I hear on the news is that place
(Venezuela) is on fire. According to what I understood, the Venezuela
right is burning everything in their path. They're as likely to burn a
market as they are some guy for being a chavista [supporter of Maduro's
government]. If Maduro falls off his horse, things are going to get ugly
in Cuba. The oil comes from there

Opinions among the workers, students, food workers consulted about
Venezuela, demonstrates a profound disinterest in political information
among a wide sector of the citizenry.

Younger people are active in social networks. But they pass on political
content. Like Susana, a high school student, who with her smartphone is
taking a selfie which eating chicken breasts in a recently opened
private care, to post later on Instagram. When asked about the Venezuela
challenge, she answers at length.

"You can't fight with a political grindstone. What are you going to
resolve with that. You're not going to change the world and you can make
problems for yourself. I heard about Venezuela on [the government TV
channel] Telesur, but I don't know why they started the protests. Nor do
I know why there have been so many deaths. The only thing I know is that
Cuba is strongly tied to Venezuela by oil. And if the government
changes, if those who come, if they are capitalists, they will stop
sending us oil. So I want Maduro to remain in power," explains Susana.

Not many on the island analyze the crisis in Venezuela in a wider
context. The South American nation is trapped between the worst
government management, a socialist model that doesn't work, and the
hijacking of democratic institutions.

Ordinary Cubans don't know to what point the Castro regime is involved
in the design of the the local and continentals strategies of Chavismo.
Opinion in Cuba is fueled by a myopic official press and Telesur, a
propagandistic television channel created with the petrodollars of Hugo
Chavez and Rafael Correa.

Except for specialists and people who look for information in other
sources, most of the Cuban population believes that the violence
originates with the opposition, classified as terrorists and fascists by
the official media.

They know nothing of the fracture within chavismo itself, as in the case
of Attorney General Luisa Ortega or the former Interior Minister Miguel
Torres. Nor that at least 23 of the 81 who have died in more than ninety
days of protests, was due the excessive use of violence by the
Bolivarian National Guard.

Alexis, a private taxi driver, believes that the state press sweeps
under the carpet any news that shows the brutality of the chavista
regime. His concern is that "if they're fucked, we're fucked too. Man,
then the blackouts will start, the factory closures, and eating twice a
day will be a luxury. There's no certainty about the origins of what is
happening in Venezuela. I suppose the Venezuelans would like to free
themselves from a system like ours. If they manage to do it then Cuba
isn't going to know what to do with itself."

A wide segment of Cubans think that if the street protests in Venezuela
end up deposing Maduro, given the domino effect, hard times will return
to the Cuban economy.

"These people (the regime) have never done things well. That is why they
are always passing the hat to survive or live off favors from others. We
have not been able to made the earth produce. Everything we have we
export. We are a leech. Thanks to the Venezuelan oil and the dollars
that come from relatives in Miami, the country has not sunk into
absolute misery," points our Geraldo, an elderly retiree.

Geraldo clarifies, "It's not out of selfishness, political blindness or
love of Maduro that many Cubans are betting on the continuity of
chavismo. It's pure survival instinct."

And the fact is that the economy has not yet hit bottom. Statistics and
predictions forecast new adjustments and an economic setback if there is
a change of government in Miraflores Palace.

Cuba is still not at the level of Haiti, the poorest country in Latin
American, but it is headed that way. As the former USSR was, Venezuela
is our lifeline.

Source: How Cubans See the Crisis in Venezuela / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -

The Death of a Cuban Doctor in Ciudad Tiuna, Caracas

The Death of a Cuban Doctor in Ciudad Tiuna, Caracas / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 19 June 2017 — Teresa Sulien Castillo Sotto, a
27-year-old Cuban doctor born in Bayamo, died due to multiple fractures
and traumatic brain injury on the night of Tuesday 13 June, at 10:20 PM,
after jumping off the 8th floor of the C-05 building of Ciudad Tiuna in
Tiuna Fort.

"It's a delicate issue that they are treating with great tact and major
caution," comments a member of the National Coordinating Department
(COOR), which, along with the National Directorate of the Cuban Medical
Mission in Venezuela (MMCVEN), located in the Crillon Hotel. "We are
talking about the death of a cooperating doctor within a military
community where the only ones who enter are Cubans who are linked to
some military person, people with overwhelming confidence, cases that
call for control, or some of the collaborators who are related to Cuban

Tiuna Fort is an enormous military installation, the most important in
Caracas, and also in Venezuela which, among other things, is the
headquarters of the Ministry of People's Power, the General Command of
the Army, the official residence of the vice president, and sports,
cultural and financial facilities. It was in this urban complex where,
in apartment 10-F, the young Cuban doctor lived.

Several officials from the Homicide Division of the Scientific, Penal
and Criminal Investigations Corps (CICPC) came to the scene of the
tragedy. The prevailing narrative is that Teresa made the tragic
decision to kill herself because she found, on the cellphone of her
husband, also a Cuban doctor, compromising text messages involving
another woman. However, on her personal profile on Facebook, the
deceased young woman appears as single.

That night, troops from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service
(SEBIN) and Cuban officials who have not been identified, put Teresa's
body in a van, took it to the morgue and did not allow members of the
CICPC to preserve the scene of the tragedy nor to collect expert evidence.

The next day, Wednesday, three Cuban citizens came to the morgue in cars
with official plates with the intention to accelerate the paperwork to
collect the cadaver of the Cuban doctor. They accomplished this the same
day and at four in the afternoon, after establishing contact with high
level officials of the Bolivarian government and the representatives
from the Cuban embassy.

"Normally what happens," my interlocutor continued to explain, "they
close the box in the morgue and send it to Maiquetia [the International
Airport]. There, they finish the paperwork, and with the first flight
they head to Cuban, accompanied by two officials dispatching the coffin
and then the family members. In extreme or strange situations, the
deceased is simply buried and they don't even allow them to hold a funeral."

"What they don't want to reveal," my informer breathes deeply and adds,
in a tone appropriate to the shocking confession, "is that Teresa
maintained a close relationship with a military man, an official with
the National Guard who was captured by SEBIN for being involved with the
right and the opposition marches against chavismo. They used the girl as
an informer, she couldn't refuse, because it would mean cancelling her
mission, expulsion, threats and a ton of other things. She felt cornered
with no alternative. She couldn't do anything other than betray her
friend and, in an act of honor, with a certain touch of ethics, she
committed suicide, or she was pushed to suicide."

The body is already in Cuba, having left on Thursday the 15th in an A320
airplane of Cuban Aviation on the Caracas-Havana route.

Source: The Death of a Cuban Doctor in Ciudad Tiuna, Caracas / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba -


magictr | July 14, 2017 | News
Stéphane Bouchard
Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

JONQUIÈRE | Two players from the cuban national team junior tour against
the teams of major League baseball junior élite du Québec, missing since

These two players have left of their own accord, in the night of Monday
to Tuesday. On the morning of 11 July, the two players were no more in
their room.

According to what we have learned, does anyone know where are the
baseball players, who have been missing after a game against Buffalo,
Saint-Eustache. It is suspected that both players have left their team
to not return to live in Cuba.

"No detail "

The junior national team of Cuba was yesterday at the Stade
Richard-Desmeules, where she faced the Travelers from Jonquière, in the
ninth match of this series of 15.

Met on the premises, the secretary of the road for the tour of cuban and
communications director for the major League baseball junior élite du
Québec (LBJEQ), Antoine Desrosiers, did not want to comment on this
situation, claiming to have "no detail" on this story.

The president of the league, Rodger Brulotte, preferred him not to
comment on the departure of two cuban players. "Our role at the LBJEQ is
to promote the sport of baseball. We do not interfere in political
issues ",-he said. Mr. Brulotte was in the hands of the leader of the
team of Cuba to explain the desertion of the two players.

Security measures

Maxim Lamarche, director general of Baseball Quebec, has not returned
our calls yesterday evening.

The leaders of the team cuban, however, had already anticipated the
possibility that a player might want to go without leaving traces, by
putting in place special measures of surveillance and security.

For example, it was forbidden to go to the locker room alone. The
players were accompanied at all times and must abide by clear guidelines
as to their comings and goings.

Student residences

During their stay, the players were accommodated in the student
residences of the college Ahuntsic.

The tour of the cuban national team has the goal of promoting the sport
of baseball throughout the province, and to "continue to weave links
between Cuba and Canada," says Antoine Desrosiers. He didn't want to
dwell on the impact of these desertions on the links between the two

This tour is also a way to prepare for the junior team cuba at the world

Source: Two cuban players deserting the team junior | The Sherbrooke
Times -

UM names interim director for the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies

UM names interim director for the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American

The University of Miami has appointed founder and former senior fellow
Andy Gómez as interim director of the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-
American Studies.

Gómez, who retired from UM in 2012 with a Presidential Medal, replaces
Jaime Suchlicki, who will leave ICCAS on Aug. 15, according to a UM

He said he was "honored" to be asked to return.

"First, we need to honor Jaime Suchlicki for his work and dedication to
the university," Gómez said. "My intention here is to preserve some of
the legacy that Suchlicki created ... part of the good work that has
been done ... and to begin to move forward in some of the programming
aspects of ICCAS, but more importantly to begin a search for a permanent
director. That is going to take some time."

Gómez was assistant provost of UM between 2005 and 2012, and dean of the
School of International Studies between 2001 and 2004. More recently, he
traveled to Cuba for Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the island. He and his
family also support two programs at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in

Following UM's recent announcement of his departure, Suchlicki publicly
refuted insinuations that he was retiring stating that he was
"resigning" due to differences with President Julio Frenk on the
university's mission for Cuban studies. He further stated that he had
received notice that the ICCAS would close in August and that he had
plans to move the institute to another location.

An official at the University of Miami disputed Suchlicki's version of
what transpired. Jacqueline R. Menendez, UM's vice president for
communications, said there are no plans to close the center.

The controversy has raised some concern among members of the
Cuban-American community.

The National Association of Cuban Educators (NACAE) sent a letter to
Frenk requesting that ICCAS not be closed because it could be
interpreted as a "lack of support for the Cuban community." The Mother's
Against Repression group asked Frenk to hold off on a decision so that
members of the Cuban-American community, lawmakers and donors could
weigh in.

Gómez's appointment puts an end to speculation about an immediate
closure of the institute.

Founded in 1999, ICCAS for years received several million dollars from
the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to
finance the Cuba Transition Project. But the administration of former
President Barack Obama cut those funds significantly and ICCAS cut some
of its staff. Its digital site is has become outdated and several of its
databases are no longer available.

Gómez said his priorities include looking at ways to provide more
"meaningful information" on the website, raise funds for the institute
and attract a younger audience to events at Casa Bacardí.

ICCAS' academic rigor has been questioned some some in the field of
Cuban studies. Many other U.S. universities have already developed
institutional relationships with their Cuban counterparts and
established study abroad programs.

Events at Casa Bacardí, by contrast, often feature speakers from the
island's dissident movement and members of anti-Castro organizations in

"ICCAS has suffered a little bit by being, at times, too political to
one side," said Gómez. "I think institutes have to find a balance and
stay in the middle.

"I strongly believe in academic freedom," he said. "...ICCAS should be a
center for everybody to feel comfortable to come and share different
points of view. I know that is always a bit challenging in our community
but we have come a long way."

Follow Nora Gámez Torres en Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: UM names interim director at ICCAS | Miami Herald -

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Raul Castro Apparently Decided to Change His Personal Image

Raul Castro Apparently Decided to Change His Personal Image / Juan Juan

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 July 2017 — The President of the Councils of State
and of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba recently underwent cosmetic
surgery to improve his chin. The chief of Cuban communists wants to be
rejuvenated so that young people won't feel they are being governed by
an old man of 86.

The absurdity is that a process so normal and ordinary acquires, on the
island, the unusual dimension of a "State Secret." The problem that
arises from such a "mystery" is that as a recognized public figure he is
under the magnifying glass of the public observer who, from now on, will
compare his current appearance with old photographs of him.

Apparently, and this could not be confirmed, patient Raul Castro refused
general anesthesia for fear of bad intentions. The truth is that the
operation on the president was performed by a Cuban eminence of cosmetic
surgery, a celebrity of the guild, of whom I will only say that he is an
assistant professor and first class specialist in plastic surgery,
because I want to protect his identity from future attacks or implacable
witch hunts. Some time ago he had problems at CIMEQ hospital, and later
started to work in one of the most well-known teaching hospitals in Havana.

General Raul Castro is a man of particular appetites that grew over
time, the influence of alcohol and a real frivolity. It is normal with
this surgery to try to correct the traces of a person's excesses,
without exaggerating or abandoning his disagreeable natural aspects.
However, he is not the first president, nor will he be the last, who
tries to improve his image using surgical techniques.

Plastic surgery ("plastic" derives from the Green "plastikos" which
means to mold or give shape) is the medical specialty that deals with
the correction or restoration of the form and functions of the body
through medical and surgical techniques.

In 1994, while Libya was faced with an international embargo, a group of
Brazilian doctors traveled to Tripoli via Tunisia, to perform a hair
implant and neck surgery on the now deceased Muammar Ghaddafi.

In 2011, the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi underwent a
long cosmetic surgical procedure on his jaw which, according to reports
from his personal doctor, lasted more than four hours.

Argentina's former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also
succumbed to vanity and was remodeled with the help of the scalpel.

And although the Kremlin spokespeople insist on the contrary, one only
has to look at old photos and images of President Vladimir Putin and
compare them to recent ones. The change is obvious.

It is normal that the Cold War raised the conflict between ideologies
and the leaders of that time needed to focus on strategy and wisdom.
Then, with the coming of globalization, nationalist discourses lost
political strength. Now, in today's world, several leaders, some fierce,
some bullies, prostitute their political ends paying special attention
to self-promotion on the internet and on social networks.

Raul Castro cannot escape the desire to look like a modern old man and
subjects himself to discrete adjustments with the truculent intention of
showing himself to be less despicable.

Source: Raul Castro Apparently Decided to Change His Personal Image /
Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -

Work Accident Takes The Lives Of Two Cuban Builders In Caibarién

Work Accident Takes The Lives Of Two Cuban Builders In Caibarién

14ymedio, Havana, 11 July 2017 — The collapse of a wall during the
reconstruction of the Hotel Commercio in Caibarién, in the province
of Villa Clara, cost two workers their lives on Tuesday and left eight
others injured. The crew was working on rehabilitating the property, as
confirmed to 14ymedio by a resident who lives nearby.

The work accident occurred when a wall collapsed which caused a part of
the second floor of the build to collapse, the local press reported.

The deceased are Dorian Toledo Pascual, 40, and Felix Morales Dominguez,
28, both residents of Caibarién. According to statements by the
authorities, both were buried under the hotel debris. The builder
Richard López Pérez is in critical condition and Andrés Estévez Báez, is
in serious condition.

The less serious injured are at Caibarién Hospital, where all the
injured received first aid, 14ymedio confirmed by telephone.

After the accident, several fire rescue crews deployed to search through
the debris, where they found the workers trapped in the rubble, but two
of them were found dead.

For years, the Hotel Comercio has experienced a long process of
deterioration. The current rehabilitation work is intended to allow it
to to reopen its doors at the end of 2018.

Source: Work Accident Takes The Lives Of Two Cuban Builders In Caibarién
– Translating Cuba -

Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba

Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba / Iván García

Iván García, 28 June 2017 — On Havana there are illegal stores for all
tastes. Pirated jeans at 20 CUC, copies of Nike shoes at 40 CUC and
imitation Swiss watches at 50 CUC. People with higher purchasing power
mark the difference. By catalog, they buy fashions, smartphones, LED
lights, Scotch whiskey, Spanish wines.

And although the General Customs of the Republic of Cuba applies
retrograde and severe laws on the importing of merchandise, rampant
corruption always opens a gateway to singular private commerce. Although
there are no exact figures, it is calculated that it moves twice as much
money on the island as does foreign investment.

Let me present Rolando, the fictitious name of a guy who has been a
'mule' for three years. "My grandparents live in Miami and to supplement
their pension, they became 'mules'. They took the orders to customers'
homes, whether it was clothing, medicine, household goods or
dollars. When travel abroad became flexible in 2013, I obtained a
multiple-entry visa for the United States. Every year I travel seven or
eight times and I bring stuff either for family use or to resell. All
for a value of four to five thousand dollars."

The complicated Customs regulations only allow Cubans to import certain
goods once a year and to pay the customs fees in Cuban pesos — rather
than convertible pesos, each of which is worth 25 times as much — but by
means of bribes under the table the provisions of the law can be evaded.

Yolanda, an assumed name, is dedicated to bringing garments and hair
products. "In Cuba, the stake fucks anyone who follows the letter of the
law. This is the case for Cubans living in other countries when they
send things by mail: they can only send three kilograms and if the
package exceeds that weight, every additional kilogram is taxed at 20
Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). A real abuse.

"What do those of us who dedicate ourselves to this business do? We have
good contacts in Customs and so we can take all the stuff through. You
pay the people according to what you bring. If you bring in goods valued
at $10,000, for example, you have to give them $200 and a "present"
which can be a flat screen TV, a home appliance, or some clothing."

According to Yolanda, "Palmolive, Colgate, Gillette or Dove toiletries
sell like hot cakes in Cuba. If you buy in the free zone of Colon,
Panama, you earn a little more. In Miami, it depends on the place: in
small stores and wholesale markets you get more for you money. Gillette
deodorants purchased wholesale will come out at $1.50 and in Havana they
will be sold at 5 CUC (roughly $5 US).

"An appliance or television is not profitable if you buy it at Best Buy,
you have to buy it in Chinese stores or have a contact that sells it
wholesale. The problem of the electrical appliances is that they weigh a
lot, that's why they are shipped by boat.

"With the exception of certain items that my regular customers order
from me, the rest I buy to sell in quantity to the resellers. On a trip,
apart from recovering expenses, I can earn up to 800 CUC. And I am a new
'mule' in this market, the ones that spend more time, they earn three
times more, because they bring more expensive items such as car parts
and air conditioning equipment."

Several 'mules' consulted believe that the best places to buy
merchandise are Panama, Miami, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. "Moscow is
expensive for the cost of the plane ticket. But if you have the way to
bring into the country large quantities of parts and components for cars
and motorcycles, you earn a lot of money. Any trip leaves a percentage
of profits that ranges from 30 to 100 percent," says Rolando.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a report on the traffic of
automobile parts between Moscow and Havana: "They travel 13 hours, sleep
crowded in emigre apartments and ask for borrowed coats and boots to
rummage and bargain in a cold weather looking for used parts of the
Russian capital. But do the accounts: a Lada car of the Soviet era in
good conditions sells on the Island for 14 thousand dollars."

The current collection of Soviet-era vintage cars has made the supply of
parts and components for these cars into a highly profitable
business. "In Russia there are few Moskoviches, Ladas and Volgas
manufactured in last century still running. With the help of Cubans
residing in Moscow, full cars are bought for the equivalent of 300 or
500 dollars and scrapping them for pieces increases the values
tremendously. There are also small businesses where you can packaged new
parts," explains Osiel, dedicated to the selling of car parts bought in

It may seem like an unimportant business, but a Soviet-era car, with an
American chassis and parts from up to ten different nations, costs
$10,000 to $20,000 in Cuba.

In the Island you find 'mules' specializing in the most diverse
branches. "I only buy smart phones, tablets, PCs and laptops. After
paying the respective bribe, in a single trip I bring in up to ten
phones, five or six tablets, two PCs and four laptops. The profits can
exceed 3,000 CUC. Smartphones are a gold mine. Companies buy them, then
through payment they activate to unlock them and there are those who
know how to 'crack' them. In Havana, the iPhone 7 or Samsung 8 is
cheaper than in Miami," says Sergio.

At the beginning, the 'mules' started as a business managed by Cubans
living in the United States and they moved any amount of money and
stuff. The parcels are delivered personally to people in their homes.

After the olive-green state did away with the so-called White Card — the
travel permit you use to have to have — that blocked Cubans from
traveling freely, thousands of compatriots on the island decided to
become 'mules' and started to traffic in goods.

According to Rolando, "It has many points in its favor: you do not work
for the government and do not depend their shitty wages. On each trip,
you earn a ticket that makes your life more comfortable, you disconnect,
meet people and travel to clean cities and well-stocked stores. And the
government has not opened fire on the 'mules' as much as they have on
the self-employed."

In addition, they don't pay taxes to the state for their underground

Source: Trafficking in Goods, a Strategy to Survive in Cuba / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -

Cavities and Abscesses in the Oral Health System

Cuba: Cavities and Abscesses in the Oral Health System / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 23 June 2017 — Located in the stately building with
its exquisite art-deco style, at the Havana intersection of Salvador
Allende Avenue (formerly Carlos III) and G Street, is the Cuban symbol
of the oral health system. Officially known as the Raúl González
Sánchez Dental Medicine Faculty, it is also on the point of collapse.

"The budget is tighter than the screws on a submarine. Most of the time
the autoclaves used for sterilization don't work, nor is there aseptic
paper to wrap the dental instruments in; but the human material is
there. Prices fluctuate between 15 and 300 CUC, according to the
treatment or the urgency," says a person who travelled from Miami to be
treated in the "signature" Havana institution.

"There is no air conditioning in the treatment room, the windows are
open and they have to position the chairs to avoid facing the sun. So
you either bring a fan, or spend an extra 50 CUC to be treated in an
operating room where there is only hygienic equipment, green clothing
and adequate air conditioning. Being treated in Cuba, besides being
cheap is folkloric," my interlocutor continues, in tone so celebratory
it provokes indignation. The saliva extractors are broken and so you
have to bring a bottle of water and towel. And when the slime
accumulates the dentist says, "spit it out."

According to the constitution currently in force on the island, the
Cuban state guarantees free medical attention to the population as one
of the fundamental social paradigms; but the Healthcare system is
suffering the restrictive effects of lack of resources because of the
economic crisis, neglect, corruption and negligence, which among other
things is a consequence of political mistakes.

"The politics of the country stipulate that the attention of every
dental clinic should be free from payment; but then there is what we
experience," explains a professor of the fames institutions, who prefers
to remain incognito, because to survive he has, at home, an old dental
chair, a light and a pedal machine.

"Unless it's an emergency, getting a regular appointment is very
complicated and the receptionists charge for facilitating it. We have to
live," he breathes deeply and recites his price list. "For a mouth exam,
prophylaxis, a light filling and a clinic diagnosis — 15 CUC. We visit
many patients, the majority with chewing problems, gingivitis,
periodontal disease. These conditions require long treatments, and this
case they cost 2 to 10 CUC per visit. There are more expensive ones that
require complex operations that in some other country would cost around
$10,000 or more. Of course, the difficulties of the country force us to
tell patients that to avoid problems they should bring their own
anesthesia and the braces should they need orthodontic treatment."

"Our prices," concludes the professional, "vary depending on the
patient. If it's a Cuban living in Cuba, a Cuban living abroad, or a

Source: Cuba: Cavities and Abscesses in the Oral Health System / Juan
Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -

Bread In Cuba’s Rationed Market Is An Unsolved Problem

Bread In Cuba's Rationed Market Is An Unsolved Problem

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 9 July 2017 — With a sharp knife and the
skill of a surgeon, Luis Garmendia, 68, slices the bread from the
rationed market into six small slices. Like so many Cubans, this retiree
cannot afford to buy from the liberated (unsubsidized) bakeries and
considers that, every day, the quality of the basic product is "worse."

In the Havana neighborhood of Cerro, where Garmendia lives, the ration
bread 'starred' in the last assembly of accountability with the local
People's Power delegate. "Since I started going to those meetings, the
same problem arises, but it is not solved," he protests.

The capital has 367 establishments dedicated to producing "ration
bread." Most have serious technical difficulties, according to a recent
report on national television. In the last three years at least 150 of
them have been renovated but customer dissatisfaction continues to grow.

The taste, size and texture of the popular food are at the center of
customer criticisms. Hard, rubbery, and weighing less than the required
80 grams (2.8 ounces), are the characteristics most commonly used to
describe "ration bread." Its poor quality has become a staple in the
repertoire of comedians.

The product's bad reputation leads families that are more financially
comfortable to avoid consuming it. "Now we Cubans are divided between
those who can eat flavorful bread and those of us who have to make do
with this, subsidized and flavorless," says Garmendia while displaying a
bread roll this Friday.

According to María Victoria Rabelo, director general of the Cuban
Milling Company, "It is sad and frustrating to hear the opinions of the
population," regarding the rationed product. Her entity is in charge of
producing and commercializing the wheat flour used throughout the
country for the manufacture of bread, confectionery and its derivatives.

In the informal market flour is highly valued especially by private
business owners who make pizzas, sweets and breads. The diversion of
resources from state-owned establishments has become the main source of
supply to the retail sector and affects the quality of the regulated

"I have to take care of each sack of flour as if it were gold," says the
manager of a bakery in Marianao's neighborhood, who preferred
anonymity. "They also steal other ingredients involved in the process,
such as the improver, fats and yeast," he details.

"I am the third administrator to have this establishment in five years,
the others exploited it to steal," says the state employee. For years
the business of state bakeries "has been robust, because there is a lack
of controls and demand has grown as there are more cafes and
restaurants," he says.

The profession of baker has been a gold mine. In spite of the low
salaries in the sector, which doesn't exceed 30 CUC a month, there is a
high demand to work in these establishments. "I know people have become
millionaires with the resale of ingredients or of the product," says the

"There are places where employees at the counter pocketed at least 400
CUP per day just selling the bread that is destined for the basic basket
under the table." Inside, near the ovens, "workers can get away every
day with up to 800 Cuban pesos [Ed. note: more than the average monthly
wage]," he confirms.

Each ingredient has its own market. "The baked bread is much sought
after by paladares (private restaurants), coffee shops and people who
organize parties," he adds. While "the yeast and improver end up in the
business of selling pizza and the fats have a wider clientele."

The administrator of the bakery on Calle 19 and 30 in Playa, Reina
Angurica, believes that in order to avoid embezzlement, she must "talk
to the workers, communicate with them and not allow illegal
productions." In their place they meet weekly "to talk about the
short-term problems of the bakery and to eradicate them," she told the
national media.

The Cuban Milling Company imports 800,000 tons of wheat each year which
is processed in five mills throughout the country, three of which are in
Havana. "Strong wheat or corrector" is mixed with "weak" wheat to
produce the flour sold to the food industry.

The ration market bread is made with a "weak or medium strength flour"
ideal for achieving soft texture. However, the wheat blend has been
affected by import irregularities and the state bakers are only
receiving strong flour, more suitable for a sturdier bread.

With more than 7,500 workers in the capital and a daily consumption of
200 tons of flour, the Provincial Food Industry Company is directly
responsible for the ration bread. But the entity is floundering
everywhere because of the lack of control, hygiene problems and the poor
quality of its products.

In some 1,359 inspections carried out in the last months in the
facilities of this state company, there were 712 disciplinary measures
imposed for irregularities in the preparation of the product. The
problems detected ranged from indisciplines and diversion of resources
to lack of cleanliness.

For María Victoria Rabelo, from the Cuban Milling Company, the
technological difficulties or the problems with the raw material are not
the keys to understanding the current situation: one must "dignify the
profession and, without speaking with demagoguery, bring love to what we
do," she says with determination.

But in Cerro, where Garmendia is waiting every day for a miracle to
improve the rationed bread, the words of the official sound like
Utopia. "I do not want anything fancy, I just want it to be tasty and
softer, nothing more," says the retiree.

Source: Bread In Cuba's Rationed Market Is An Unsolved Problem –
Translating Cuba -