Reports from Cuba: Intense Rains Give Evidence of the “Wonder” of Havana

By Ivan García in Translating Cuba:

Intense Rains Give Evidence of the “Wonder” of Havana


Beneath the rain, Havana received the title of Wonder City of the Modern World. Photo by Elio Delgado Valdés, taken from Havana Times.

Iván García, 9 June 2016 — Ask Luis Carlos Rodríguez, retired, his opinion about the designation of “Wonder City” based on an Internet survey conducted in the winter of 2014 by the Swiss foundation, “New 7 Wonders,” and you will hear a long list of complaints, sprinkled with insults, about the olive-green government that has governed the destiny of Cuba since January 1959.

The old man lives in a quarter where the wastewater runs through the cracked central corridor, a little more than half a kilometer from the area of colonial Havana, which wears makeup for the photos of dazzled tourists.

The rainy season has become a calvary for the residents of Havana who live in the low zones, where the housing is in poor shape, or in any of the 80 unhealthy neighborhoods that proliferate in the capital.

In a hot, windowless room with a half-dozen plastic buckets and junk, Luis Carlos tries to trap the drops of water that filter through the corrugated roof.

“On days of pouring rain, I pray to the Lord that the room doesn’t fall down on me. I’ve already sealed the roof twice, but it continues to leak,” he says, and with the help of a nephew, he tries to patch a hole.

When the rain pours down in Havana, the people who live in dilapidated housing or on streets that are close to the coast, become sailors, bailing out water inside their homes or escaping to safe places in precarious boats.

On Tuesday, June 7, at 7:30 in the evening, while Richard Weber, the President of the New7Wonders Foundation was unveiling the Wonder City plaque on the Esplanada de La Punta, a stone’s throw from the Malecón, Reinaldo Savón’s family was loading its furniture and electrical appliances into a horse-drawn cart, with water skirting the middle of San Ramón, a neighborhood that suffers like no other from the rainy periods, for lack of an adequate infrastructure of drainage.

“I don’t know which wonder city those bastards awarded. I invite them to come live in San Ramón on days like these. After they see how peoples’ houses are flooded and how they lose their things, they will change their opinion. No one thinks about this part of Havana. It’s been more than 20 years since the Government promised us a solution, but everything stays the same, only promises,” Reinaldo says.

The Office of the City Historian, directed by Eusebio Leal, a regime official, who managed to save various valuable buildings in Old Havana from disaster, prepared a free cultural program. From June 7-11, you could enjoy, among other things, performances of the Teatro Lírico, the Ballet Folklórico, the Tropicana Cabaret, the Ballet Lizt Alfonso, a parade of singers, musicians and dancers on the Paseo del Prado, and a concert by the Orquesta Aragón on the corner of Prado and Neptuno.

But Havanans like Lourdes Pérez, a resident of a marginal neighborhood adjacent to the José Antonio Echevarría Technological University, in the Marianao municipality, isn’t much for parties.

Four years ago, Lourdes came to the capital from Santiago de Cuba with her three children and her husband in search of better luck. He sells corn tamales and clothing from Ecuador, and she takes care of elderly sick people.

Legally, Lourdes and her family are clandestine in Havana. They don’t have a ration book, and their hut, with a dirt floor and an aluminum roof, doesn’t have a bathroom or drinking water. They live poorly, eat little and drink cheap alcohol.

“We don’t have anything more. When we get a few pesos, they go for food and rum. The money isn’t enough to build a decent house. We barely survive with what we earn,” says Lourdes’ husband, who spends time gathering raw materials in the dump on Calle 100, west of the city.

Since December 17, 2014, after the truce with the United States, the old Cold-War enemy, Cuba, and especially Havana, has received a stream of famous visitors, investment projects, a runway of Chanel fashions, Hollywood filmings and even a mega-concert by the Rolling Stones.

Press passes are everywhere, but the benefits are invisible to the average citizen. The shortages sting like a whip; the infrastructure of the city is Fourth World; garbage is piling up in the neighborhoods; thousands of buildings threaten to collapse; public transport is chaotic, and finding something to eat continues to be the main preoccupation, not only for people in Havana but for all Cubans.

Orestes Ruiz, an engineer, can’t believe that Havana is a wonder city. “Too many shortages. Anyone who has traveled abroad will see that even the cities of Third World nations, to which they should compare us, have more hygiene, better Internet connection and more efficient public services.”

Nadine López, a university student, considers that it has to do with the excess of news in the international media, or it’s an operation of marketing or simply a joke in poor taste.

“You have to have a lot of imagination to reward Havana as a wonder city. I don’t know why there’s so much celebration. For those of us who live here it’s more of an offense than a recompense,” she says, while the rain dies down in a doorway on the Calzada Diez de Octubre.

Although the leaders promise a “prosperous and sustainable socialism,” and the media focus continues extolling Havana, a large segment of those who live in José Martí’s small fatherland wait for more palpable changes that will improve the quality of their lives.

For now, all that remains is soft music in the background. And press credentials.

Hispanopost, June 9, 2016

Translated by Regina Anavy

Castro Regime’s “Openness” to the World Includes Censuring Non-Communist Ideas

Welcome to Cuba, no subversion allowed. So remove those rose colored glasses and shake off Obama´s Cuba policy fairy dust of magic Americans spreading democracy in Cuba through people to people contacts. It ain’t happening folks.

Sabrina Martín in PanAm Post:

Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de "literatura contrarrevolucionaria"
Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de “literatura contrarrevolucionaria”

Castro Regime’s “Openness” to the World Includes Censuring Non-Communist Ideas

Customs authorities have reportedly doubled efforts to fight drug trafficking and the smuggling of “counterrevolutionary” literature to the island.

Through May, customs agents captured six kilograms of cocaine, seven kilograms of marijuana and stopped a total of 41 attempts to smuggle narcotics. Thirty-one of these were for personal use and 10 looked to be for traffic.

The border agency also said it neutralized over 800 infractions in security lines, mentioning among the infractions the entry to the country of “literature with subversive content directed to counterrevolution”.

According to Cuban press, the deputy Director of the Republic’s General Customs (AGRC), Moraima Rodríguez, pointed out the attempts were neutralized, thanks to the skill of personel in the terminals and high tech equipment, like x rays and the advance information for risk detection technique.

Infractions included attempts to introduce devices, satellite equipment, weapons, brass knuckles, bow with arrows, rifles and handguns to the country, among other things.

“After a raise in the flow of international travelers, freight and the rise of containers in international transit, customs has created the necessary conditions for direct communication of information exchange and operational cooperation in real time with other countries,” officials said.

Sources: Cibercuba

Aduana de Cuba redobla fuerzas contra el narcotráfico y la introducción de "literatura contrarrevolucionaria
CiberCuba Noticias

Who will sell Cuban coffee to Nestle?

Obama’s policy of empowering the Cuban entrepreneur smacks into Castro’s wall of control, or we told you so number 9,680 . . . there is no legal private sector in Cuba.

Pedro Campos in Diario de Cuba:

Cuban farmers can’t sell coffee to the US, but the Government can

Castro coffee beans
Castro coffee beans

There’s nothing new under the Cuban sky. It was recently announced that Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) had rejected, “on behalf of Cuban coffee farmers” the possibility of selling their coffee directly to the US, in response to the Americans’ announcement of their willingness to include coffee in purchases to be made from Cuba, provided that they came directly from producers, without State intervention.

Now we have learned that Nestle will export coffee produced in Cuba, which will be available for Nespresso machines, in coffee capsules dubbed “Cuban Nespresso” or “Cafecito de Cuba” starting next September/October.

So, who will sell the Cuban coffee to Nestlé? The news story does not mention it, but could there be any doubt? The only party that can authorize itself to: the Cuban government.

The Government-Party State never fails to remind us, every day, of its totalitarian, monopolistic and semi-feudal character. It turns out that it grants itself the right to sell to the US, through Nestle, the coffee that it buys from farmers, via its monopoly, but farmers are not permitted to do so, as this would be supporting “imperialist policy.”

If the consequences were not so tragic for the coffee farmers, and the Cuban people, the lack of scruples, hypocrisy and double standards the Government demonstrates in its trade relations with the US would be laughable, as would be how it exploits Cubans’ work as an intermediary – whether they are doctors, tourism workers, sugar producers, tobacco farmers, or coffee farmers – and sells it to the highest bidder, ignoring Che’s maxim, which they like to cite, but not to apply to themselves: “don´t give imperialism a thing.”

If US money is to buy coffee directly from producers … it’s ‘dirty money;’ but if it’s to line government coffers … it’s clean. If it’s to help the opposition … it’s laden with foul intentions; if it’s for the Government … it’s appreciated. How long will this double-talk and these double standards, criticized in others, prevail?

But it must be noted that this monopoly also applies to the domestic economy, where the State controls virtually all industrial production (what remains of it), the vast majority of services, and also seeks to control all agricultural production, functioning as the sole intermediary between producers and consumers, with imposed procurement costs, and without taking into account the interests of direct producers and sale prices, decided in CUC for the State’s benefit.

This is nothing new in Cuban history, either. The Spanish Crown, the feudal and colonial government that conquered Cuba, wiped out almost all its natives and brought over thousands of Africans to exploit them as slaves, did the same thing, and not only with official tobacco shops, or estancos de tabaco – a system barring Cubans from selling their tobacco to anyone but the Spanish government – but with all foreign trade.

These were and are feudal policies. Hence, many have not hesitated to identify so-called “State socialism” as a new form of feudalism, precisely because of the absolute role assigned to the State, and its rulers’ unlimited authority and lifetime terms in power.

Thus, in that dark era, the Government went after Cubans who sold their spirits and cattle to “buccaneers” – merchants in the Caribbean region who smuggled Cuban products, in high demand, to the US and other countries.

It was precisely this monopolistic policy that sparked a revolt by vegueros (farmers) in the early 18th century, Cuba’s first independent mass military action against the Spanish Crown.

Today Cuba’s Government-Party-State (Cuban because it´s in Cuba, not because it defends the interests of the Cuban people), not only boasts a monopoly on tobacco, coffee, sugar and sugar cane byproducts, but over the whole economy. This is precisely one of the root causes of the disaster wrought in Cuba: an eternally authoritarian and populist Government that functions like a set of feudal lords, invoking a kind of socialism that has ever even existed.

The model of the centralized state once again reveals that it has nothing to do with socialism, freedom, or democracy, and that its sole objective is to preserve the power of its elites.

Sen. Marco Rubio lashes out at Obama over repression in Cuba

“I call on President Obama to demand that the Cuban tyrant he sat next to at a baseball game looking like they were having the time of their lives, immediately release the Cuban democracy activist who sat next to me in my office discussing a way forward in Cuba out of its ongoing misery.”

Sarah Rumpf in The Capitolist:

Cuban activist jailed by Castro regime a week after visiting Rubio


Sen. Marco Rubio had harsh words for the Obama administration after Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, a Cuban activist, was jailed by the Castro regime a week after he visited the Senator in Washington, D.C.

According to a report by Diario de Cuba, Oliva returned to Cuba on June 30 and was arrested by the regime’s secret police as he traveled from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where he was to attend a youth conference. Hundreds of other activists were also arrested so far this weekend for protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.
In the statement Rubio released on Sunday, he condemned President Barack Obama for being willing to sit next to Cuban President Raul Castro at a baseball game while failing to act on behalf of Oliva, who had sat next to him in his Senate office just a week ago:

Carlos Amel is a young Cuban democracy activist who sat right next to me during a visit to my Washington office last week, but now he sits in a Cuban jail as a prisoner of conscience. Over a year and a half into President Obama’s Cuba policy and billions of dollars worth of concessions later, human rights and political freedom have gotten worse, not better. President Obama had no problem sitting next to Raul Castro at a baseball game or serving as his personal lobbyist to bring American businesses to Cuba. I call on President Obama to demand that the Cuban tyrant he sat next to at a baseball game looking like they were having the time of their lives, immediately release the Cuban democracy activist who sat next to me in my office discussing a way forward in Cuba out of its ongoing misery.
Oliva’s whereabouts remain unknown, according to Capitol Hill Cubans, who also reported on the arrest of dissidents protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.

Continue reading HERE.

Over 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Over 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Demanding Release of Youth Leader

Over 100 Cuban dissidents were arrested yesterday as they protested in the eastern provinces for the release of youth leader, Carlos Amel Oliva.

Amel Oliva, of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), arrived in Havana on Thursday, June 30th, from a visit to Washington, D.C.

The car he was traveling in was intercepted by Castro’s secret police, as it made its way from Havana to Santiago de Cuba.

His whereabouts remain unknown.


Cuban activist released under Obama-Castro deal is back in jail after overseas trip

Marc Masferrer in Uncommon Sense:

Cuban activist released under Obama-Castro deal is back in jail after overseas trip


Cuban human rights activist Rolando Reyes Rabanal, who was one of 53 political prisoners released after the U.S. and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations in December 2014, was arrested Saturday after returning from a visit to Colombia.

Reyes was one of three activists with Foro por Derechos y Libertades (ForoDyL) who attended a human rights event in Bogota, and he was the only one detained upon his return to Havana, according to (Another five activists had been blocked from attending the conference.)

Reyes was detained by immigration officials at the Havana airport, before he was turned over to State Security.

“It looks like he has been accused of ‘public disorder,’ but we don’t have confirmation because they haven’t explained where he is being held or why,” said Antonio Rodiles, who heads ForoDyL.


Me informan que Rolando Reyes Rabanal fue detenido en el aeropuerto de La Habana por ‘desorden público’. Es redículo. Yo había pasado unos dias junto con él en un curso de DD.HH en Bogotá y pocas veces en mi vida he conocido una persona tan pacífico y tan difícil de provocar. ¡Que le dejen en libertan ya! ?#?FreeRRR?

Since his release after President Barack Obama and dictator Raul Castro struck their deal, Reyes has been arrested numerous times because of his participation in the #TodosMarchamos campaign, which has been spearheaded by Foro DyL and the Damas De Blanco (“Ladies In White”).

Rodiles said the dictatorship has recently increased its repression against members of the Foro DyL and other activists in the #TodosMarchamos campaign.

A legacy of truth – The Professor Juan M. Clark Foundation


The lies of Castro, brilliantly manipulated into myth through a complacent enamored media and international glitterati, became the de facto truth of, and propaganda cover for the Castro revolution, now the longest surviving dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

The late great Juan M. Clark, PhD, Bay of Pigs veteran, former political prisoner, and eternal fighter for the restitution of democracy in his homeland, Cuba, dedicated his life to exposing those lies and dismantling the myths of the revolution. The result of his work is the 1990 publication of Cuba, mito y realidad: Testimonios de un pueblo, wherein he chronicled the myths and realities of life in Cuba through the personal stories of Cuban experts and eye-witnesses to the history, the Cuban people. Cuba: Mito y Realidad was the product of some 20 years of work compiling and analyzing data. Even before its publication in 1990 Professor Juan Clark was aware of the importance of producing an English version that could reach the average reader in the United States and beyond. He worked incessantly (another 20 years) and under immense constraints toward producing the English version. His passing took place in the midst of that endeavor.

Professor Clark’s friend, Germán Miret, was able to publish the books, and as editor he noted, “Dr. Clark is no longer with us—he died on February 27, 2013—but he left us this treasure of information as his legacy to the Cuban people and the world”. He very graciously sent me the books, and provided information for this post. Thank you Germán.


Professor Juan Clark’s “Castro’s Revolution, Myth and Reality” is an updated and augmented version in English of his work in Spanish “Cuba: Mito y Realidad”. This publication, fills a vacuum on the literature on Cuba.

Clark’s work is the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of how the Cuban tragedy came to be, the terrible cost it wrought on Cuba, and the lessons it holds for future generations in Cuba and elsewhere. Incredibly, even after 57 years of a one-family tyrannical rule, the Cuban experiment still fascinates population segments in the United States and other countries. Juan Clark’s masterpiece is a strong foundation to challenge the myths on which support for the Castros is based.

While Cuba: Mito y Realidad was a one volume book of some 700 pages, Clark’s work in English is being published in two volumes with over 1,300 pages in total. Available HERE, and HERE respectively.

The price for each volume is $23.00 and there will be a charge to cover the cost of mailing. Createspace is the printing house and distributor for Amazon and the best way to obtain them.

A foundation, the Professor Juan M. Clark Foundation, Inc. was established to distribute these books free of charge – with the proceeds from the sale of the book – to universities, libraries, other institutions of learning; members of Congress, policymakers and opinion builders.

Cubans say that nobody will understand what living in Cuba today entails unless “you experience it”. These books will give you, the reader, a clearer idea of what living in Cuba was during the first year of Castro’s revolution and then through the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the beginning of the XXI century.

It will also give you a rare insight into Fidel Castro’s personality and behavior; this, through numerous interviews with people who know him well and shared with the author stories never before published. It will be an eye opener that will let you know who the real Fidel Castro is.

The foundation ensures Dr. Juan Clark’s work will continue as his legacy. Please consider a direct donation to The Juan M. Clark Foundation, P.O. Box 5666914, Miami, Fl. 33256-6691. Thank you.

H/T: With thanks to my dear friend Fernando Marquet.

What is Cuba’s Public Health Minister doing on Capitol Hill?

Considering the inferior healthcare provided to Cuban citizens, with poorly trained doctors, and lack of medicine and equipment what besides anti-embarbo propaganda can this Cuban official offer?

Jason Poblete via Washington Examiner:

Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Cuba’s top health official holds Capitol Hill briefing

Members of the House Diabetes Caucus were invited to talk about the condition with top Cuban health and biotechnology officials Wednesday morning, which is raising questions about why the meeting was being held, and whether the meeting is really aimed at preparing the ground for lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Cuban Public Health Minister Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda met with lawmakers and staff 10 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol. The invitation came from Engage Cuba, whose director James Williams takes credit for leading an “under-the-radar” $3 million national campaign to convince the Obama administration to reform U.S.-Cuba relations, according to his bio on

Williams has not registered to lobby on Cuba matters and has not returned several inquiries from the Washington Examiner questioning his rationale for avoiding lobbying transparency laws.

Late last month, the White House hosted a private meeting to promote commerce with Cuba that was organized by Engage Cuba and was kept off of public schedules.

The invitation for Wednesday’s meeting, which was sent to members of the Diabetes Caucus, says the “diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba has opened opportunities for our countries to begin cooperating on public health and scientific advances that can help millions in the United States, including 29.3 million Americans who suffer from diabetes.”

But Jason Poblete, a Cuban-American attorney who represents several clients with property claims in Cuba, said the over-arching goal of Engage Cuba is to lift Congress’ trade embargo on the island nation. Poblete said Wednesday’s forum with Cuba’s top health official is aimed at that larger purpose.

“I suspect this is part of that larger lobbying effort to further erode support for U.S. economic sanctions [on] the regime,” he wrote on his Facebook page in a letter addressed to colleagues who follow the U.S.-Cuba relationship.

He also said Ojeda is likely “complicit” in human rights abuses in Cuba and will be “pushing the miracles of Cuban biotech, a sector that not too long ago came under (credible) suspicion of engaging in unlawful biotechnology work including bio-terror weapons research with other enemies of the U.S.”

Poblete urged briefing attendees to ask six questions:

1. Does Cuba collaborate with Iranian or North Korean scientists?

2. Are Cuban biotech labs sitting on properties that were stolen from Americans?

3. Are Cuban labs/procedures up to the safety standards required under U.S. laws and regulations required for allowing imports of foreign medicines?

4. Have Cuban biotech products ever been tested on political prisoners? (Poblete says they have.)

5. Why are Cuban healthcare professionals leaving Cuba in record numbers?

6. Why is the Cuban military involved in this work if it is, as [Poblete suspects] they will say, a purely civilian project?

Continue Reading HERE.

Cuba is still BYOTP (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper)

Dear Cuban zoo spectators (tourists), enjoy this perk while visiting the latest designated seven wonder cities of the world. Be thankful you won’t have to stand in lines, or live and suffer as everyday Cuban people do.

Via The Real Cuba:

Flights To Cuba Now Departing (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper)



Cuba Is Still BYOTP

Marketplace Radio takes a look at the challenge of filming movies and television shows in Cuba, focusing specifically on Showtime’s “House of Lies” starring Don Cheadle. The episode is titled “No es facil” – “It’s not easy.” The title appears to be a description of doing business in Cuba, and also of filming a show about doing business in Cuba. As Marketplace’s Adrienne Hill and show creator Matthew Carnahan explain:

Camera equipment was shipped from Germany because it couldn’t be sent directly from the U.S. Even basic supplies – “there’s not hammers and toilet paper, and things that people need.

Reports from Cuba: Bribes In Exchange For Electricity

The absurdity of wanting a socialist economy. Imagine this scenario as a model for every single aspect of your life, where everything breaks down from inefficiency, corruption and out-dated deteriorated infrastructure that never gets replaced or properly repaired. This is what happens when government, which never produces but only re-distributes runs everything.

Ricardo Fernandez in Translating Cuba:


Bribes in Exchange For Electricity

14ymedio – Passing by my parents’ farm south of Camagüey, I have experienced the local storms that cause the heat of the day. Although these rains are beneficial to the crops, many times they are accompanied by thunderstorms that cause overloads in the miles of “clotheslines” (the illegal connections made with all kinds of wires) that bring the current – with deficient voltage and poor strength – to the farmers’ houses. Last Wednesday afternoon’s storm left us in the dark all night, but also permanently damaged the old transformer that powered thirty farms.

A couple of days later the electric company’s linemen came out because, as they said, “the line failed.” We neighbors helped them to navigate the swampy roads on horseback to find the problem. When we realized the transformer needed to be replaced our blood ran cold. The last time it happened it took a week to find a replacement, since the 4,000 volt line is obsolete and the transformers are no longer manufactured. We neighbors quickly agreed among ourselves and, with great tact, offered a juicy gift to “expedite” the work. The amount collected between us seemed small, faced with the prospect of having to milk the cows in the dark and withstand the intense heat of the nights.

After many efforts, the linemen found the parts in a warehouse in Camagüey and returned to make the repair. We all got together to help, eyes as bright as kids seeing so many tools for which our minds had already conceived alternate uses. When we took the transformer down, the equipment had a hole in the grounding terminal. With little shame, we asked them to let us take a little bit of the oil coming out of the hole, because it is most effective for waterproofing harnesses and saddles, as well as for making them shine.

After the excitement of the reestablishment of the flow of electricity it’s time to reflect, and some questions come to mind. Why isn’t the Electric Company responsible for expediting repairs in rural areas? Why isn’t safe and secure electricity provided to farmers to improve their living conditions and the performance of their land? Why aren’t farmworkers paid a salary commensurate with the risk and complexity of their work? How long will we have to offer bribes to receive what it ours by right?

Speaking with the linemen we know that in Latin American countries their work pays approximately 60 dollars an hour. If they earned a living wage here in Cuba there would be no need for bribes-gifts to expedite their efforts. If the government propaganda that says they want people to return to the countryside is true, they should, at least, electrify the farms to be able to use irrigation systems instead of primitive dry land planting, as well as to improve living conditions in the countryside. We know that this implies huge investments, but it would also produce huge gains for the electric company because the farmers pay for electricity at a rate of 5 pesos per kilowatt consumed over the first 5,000.

To put it more simply, a house with an electric stove, a refrigerator and a fan, can expect to pay 400 Cuban pesos a month; but a farmer who uses electricity to irrigate his land will pay 13,459 Cuban pesos for 5,000 kilowatts. These high rates would bring in millions of pesos, which nullifies any excuse with respect to the claim of lack of budget.

From the people’s Havana: There is no water

Ah the benefits of socialism. Prison, exile, death, family separation, food rationing, crumbling infrastructure, and no water. No problem for the elite and tourists though, somehow they have water. Vamos Bien!

Via Cubanet, Se vende agua potable a precio de oro / Water is selling at the price of gold
(loosely translated)

“Water every four days, during three months. But we are well, there are places where it is every thirty days”


The sign reads: There Is No Water

Havana, Cuba-“water every four days, for three months. And if it is not raining at that time, it will be eight. But we are well, in the East there are places where it is every thirty days”, that is the announcement about the water supply to the population from the authorities of the Government, are sending to Havana neighborhoods through the Committee for the defense of the revolution (CDR).

Electrical distribution, in La Güinera, El Calvario, among other settlements of Arroyo Naranjo and other nearby municipalities, such as Cotorro and Boyeros, which are supplied by the southern basin, are currently affected by cuts in the distribution of drinking water due to the critical levels of the reserves of the West and by the drought affecting the country.

Despite the heavy rains of the past few days, the Institute of hydraulic resources has maintained the drought alert and continues reporting that its reservoirs and groundwater sources are below the historical average and that no recovery is expected immediately, so the supply situation could worsen in the coming months.

Areas of the municipalities most centrally located in the capital, as well as the Habana del Este, for months are also in a situation of emergency and even pumping has been suspended so that water distribution is currently done through trucks, in frequencies ranging between one and seven days, and often many more due to the lack of control of the supply, and the growth of what could be called a real “black water market”.

The value of the contents of a truck tanker which, prior to the current crisis, could oscillate between 20 and 30 dollars, currently exceeds in some parts of the capital, the price of 100 dollars, this in a country where the average monthly wage of a professional worker does not exceeds $25.

Similarly, the sale of plastic containers of different sizes, extracted illegally from State warehouses, has skyrocketed at same rate, which already reaches between 40 and 60 dollars for a second hand vessel with capacity for a scanty 55 gallons.

Meanwhile, the water supply to the hotel sector, as reported by officials and workers of the main facilities of Havana, has remained stable throughout this high season which, due to the current tourism boom of Cuba, will be extended beyond June 15 during the months of summer, even until December, when it is expected an intensification of the drought and a worsening in the supply of the liquid.

Continue reading in Spanish HERE.

As predicted, Obama’s Cuba Policy Has Gutted the Democratic Charter

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Obama’s Cuba Policy Has Gutted the Democratic Charter

We’ve seen numerous counter-productive consequences of Obama’s Cuba policy on the island: a dramatic rise in repression; a new refugee crisis; tenfold rise in religious persecution; plummeting U.S. agricultural sales; and the strengthening of Castro’s military monopolies.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve also seen how Venezuela’s regime is making a mockery of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and — despite the best efforts of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro — the region’s tragic ambivalence to defending democracy.

Yet another consequence of Obama’s short-sighted Cuba policy, which we predicted (below) from Day One.

By Mauricio Claver-Carone in The Huffington Post (on January 11th, 2015):

Obama Gives Cuba a Hemispheric Coup

The recent political witch-hunt against famed Venezuelan opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado reinforces growing concerns that democratic institutions are under concerted attack in the Western Hemisphere.

“Justice is on its knees in Venezuela with sentences being dictated from Miraflores or Havana,” Machado says, summing up the political alliance between Cuba and Venezuela’s governments that drive her country’s politics. She stands accused of conspiring to kill Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has already been imprisoned.

Through its cohorts and directly, Cuba has been pounding democratic institutions not only in Venezuela, but also Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Democracy’s advocates in the region are too shortsighted, beleaguered or intimidated to fight back aggressively. In fact, they invited Cuba to participate in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama, despite the fact that Cuba’s Castro dictatorship openly scorns the “democracy clause” that reserves Summit membership and participation to the region’s democratic governments. Thirty-four of the 35 nations comprising the Western Hemisphere adopted that clause during the Quebec Summit. Cuba was then and still is the Hemisphere’s last remaining totalitarian state; it also has a long history of “exporting revolution” into democratic states.

The Obama Administration initially stated its opposition to Cuba being invited to the Summit. However, in a turn-around announcement on December 17, it chose to “lead from behind” and acquiesce to the whims of those hemispheric leaders all-too-eager and willing to suspend the “democracy clause.” Not only has President Obama now accepted Cuba’s participation, but he will also be there to personally welcome dictator Raul Castro.

However, those who lobbied Obama to attend the Summit regardless of the violation of the “democracy clause” weren’t to be satisfied with his attendance alone. They also wanted the President to arrive with a gift bag for Cuba that includes a further lifting of U.S. sanctions. That, they argued, will ensure a warm reception for Obama from “troubled” Latin American leaders. And naturally, Castro would be thrilled.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the exact same arguments were made in the months and weeks leading up to the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. Just days before that summit, the Obama Administration did ease sanctions against Cuba. Despite this “gesture,” Obama was not received in Trinidad as a hero. He was treated as a pushover. Then Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez even engineered a photo-op with the President that featured copies of anti-American book, Open Veins of Latin America. Latin America’s “extreme Left” considers the book to be its bible. (The author, Eduardo Galeano, has recently disavowed his creation.) A few months after that summit, the Cuban government of Raul Castro seized an American hostage, Alan Gross, in a successful effort to coerce the United States into releasing a group of imprisoned Cuban spies.

For months, advocates for lifting sanctions used the Panama Summit as a prop in their campaign against what they call the United States’ “failed policy.” They would happily sacrifice our national interest in regional democracy to advance their narrow agenda. Not only is this dangerous and irresponsible, it also begs the serious question: What do they consider to be a “successful” policy alternative?

Is it the “China model,” whereby U.S. business helps to build the most lucrative dictatorship in human history?

A “Vietnam model” of state capitalism under an iron-fisted rule?

A “Burma model,” whereby reforms achieved through pressure are rolled back as soon as sanctions are lifted?

Raul Castro, Nicolas Maduro and their puppets revel in such models. But none should have a place — geographically or politically — in the Western Hemisphere. In this hemisphere, every nation (except Cuba) made a commitment to representative democracy in 2001. It was a historic commitment that, backed by the United States, has blocked the authoritarian ambitions of wannabe dictators in Latin America and generated continued support for democracy and civil society. It was a commitment that Obama’s December 17 announcement has now placed on the chopping block.


Obama’s Neo-appeasement Foreign Policy

From our good friend, Dr. Jose Azel via The Azel Perspective:

Neville Chamberlain Lives on in Obama’s Foreign Policy

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain died in 1940, but his failed foreign policy of appeasing the enemies of democratic governance has been resurrected. The current incarnation of the appeasement approach to foreign policy — which I am labeling neo-appeasement — is best articulated by Professor Charles Kupchan of Georgetown University in his book, How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace.


The exploration of unconventional ideas is a hallmark of academic work, and professor Kupchan’s scholarship may offer theoretical insights into the study of international relations. But international relations are not in the domain of the physical sciences where benign laboratory experimentation can take place without negatively impacting the lives of millions of individuals.

Social science experimentation, of the kind offered by Kupchan, is best kept in the Ivory Tower — preferably under lock and key — where we can argue its merits to the point of nausea without imperiling lives.

Unfortunately, Kupchan’s hypotheses have moved with him to the US National Security Council where he serves as senior director for European affairs and his neo-appeasement appears to be in full display in the formulation of US foreign policy. He asserts as much in the first chapter of his book noting that: “The Obama administration clearly believes that enemies can become friends.”

So what is the professor’s and the administration’s road map for turning enemies into friends?

The neo-appeasement prescription entails a sequential four-phased process. It must begin, according to Kupchan, by making concessions to our enemies in an act of “unilateral accommodation.” These concessions must be “unusual and costly” to signal benign intent. I imagine this is what Prime Minister Chamberlain had in mind when he conceded the German speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in the Munich Agreement of 1938.

The second phase entails the practice of “reciprocal restraint” where the adversary nations walk away from rivalry, peace breaks out, and geopolitical competition gives way to cooperation. This must have been Hitler’s mindset when Germany occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia six months after the Munich Agreement, and followed with the invasion of Poland in 1939 unleashing World War II.

“Social integration” and “the generation of new narratives and identities” are the third and fourth phases of Kupchan’s sequence towards stable peace. He and President Obama believe that deepened transactions between adversaries somehow lead them to change their identities and the “distinctions between self and other erode, giving way to communal identities and a shared sense of solidarity.”

I cannot tell if this assertion is naive or just plain silly, but let’s hold on to it for a paragraph or two as we explore another troubling thesis of the professor’s work where he argues that democracy is not necessary for stable peace. In his view, the United States should assess whether countries are enemies or friends based on their diplomacy (that is, on what they say) and not on the nature of their domestic institutions — what they do.

I suppose this explains the administration’s diplomatic choices in marginalizing friendly democratic allies like Israel and appeasing hostile repressive regimes like Russia, Iran, and Cuba.

Democracies do not usually go to war with each other, and recognizing that democracies will have enemies is not synonymous with being bellicose. Polity matters and we should not seek, as neo-appeasement prescribes, a communal identity and a shared sense of solidarity, with the likes of supreme leaders Ali Khamenei, Kim Jung-un, Vladimir Putin, or Raul Castro.

Neo-appeasement seems to be the intellectual foundation of the administration’s foreign policy. Under its banner, we accommodated Putin’s occupation of Georgian territory, just as Chamberlain accommodated Hitler. We gave up our missile defense plans in Eastern Europe; we may have delayed, but ultimately accepted, Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, and the president is using his executive power to unconditionally normalize relations with the Cuban regime. Mind you, this is a regime that in 1962 urged the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States with missiles from Cuba.

When challenged on his foreign policy, the president is cavalier in dismissing historical experience by repeatedly noting that “he is not interested in having battles that started before he was born,” intimating that world peace hinges on a calculus of before and after Obama’s birth.

In resurrecting Chamberlains’ approach of appeasing the mortal enemies of democratic governance, the president would do well to humbly ponder Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana’s admonishment that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”