Reports from Cuba: ‘Coffee, three cents’

Pedro Campos in Translating Cuba:

‘Coffee, Three Cents’

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An independent seller of peanuts and sweets on the streets of Havana.

14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 23 August 2016 – Self-employed Cubans are tossed out of places where they’ve contracted with the State to work, without consideration of the consequences for them and violating what is established in their “contracts.” Recently this happened in Pinar del Rio, according to various reports, thanks to the redevelopment of the city boulevard. But this happens commonly all over Cuba.

An emblematic case happened in a Havana park when it was closed to the public for repairs and two dozen self-employed individuals, among them food vendors, sellers of toys, balloons and baby things, photographers, parking attendants and others, were left without work and without any ability to demand redress, although they had one year contracts and their licenses, payments and other documents were in order.

Months later, having finished some light painting and other things that could have been done between Monday and Friday without closing the park, which was mainly used on Saturdays and Sundays, this important recreation area was reopened, but under another administration.

The protests of the self-employed were ignored. The new administration had no “responsibility to the old contracts,” they told those who tried to reestablish themselves there. They needed new contracts for which they had to present all new documentation, photographs, self-employment licenses, tax payments, letters of good conduct from their local Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, and other things.

About twenty self-employed people were out of work for months, and had no recourse. The new administration set up new contracts with other self-employed people and some of the previous ones who had learned about it in time when they reopened the park. Others weren’t able to get new contracts. The opportunities were limited. And the previous contracts? Fine, and you?

In Cuba it is very normal that when the management of a company, a factory, a municipality or a province change, many other things also change.

It comes from the genesis of the top-down statist system introduced in Cuba by Fidel Castro, in the name of a socialism that has never existed other than in the dreams of many Cubans.

Read more

Cuba and the Rio 2016 Olympics: Medals and synecdoches

Miguel Sales in Diario de Cuba:

Medals and synecdoches

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Before getting to the heart of this article, I must warn the reader that I am one of those “bad patriots” who rejoice at every defeat suffered by athletes from his country in every athletic competition, because I have never believed in the Government-State-Nation-Party synecdoche, or perhaps because from a very young age I was disgusted by images of Olympic champions returning to Havana to hang their medals around the neck the dictator-for-life. Aware of my prejudices about this, I shall try to limit myself as much as possible to the statistics when discussing here the results obtained by Cuban athletes at the recent Olympic Games in Río de Janeiro.

First, the overall calculation: Cuban athletes in Río managed to win 11 medals – five gold, two silver and four bronze – and the country ranked 18th, behind Brazil, Spain, Kenya, Jamaica and Croatia.  These represent the worst results in the last … 44 years, even worse than the 13 medals won in Montreal (1976), which were enough to rank Cuba 8th.

The decline of sports on the Island is evident. From the zenith of Cuba’s performance, achieved in Barcelona in 1992, when Cuba won 31 medals (14-6-11), the numbers have been flagging: 25 medals in Atlanta (1996); 29 in Sydney (2000); 27 in Athens (2004); 24 in Beijing (2008); and 15 in London (2012), down to 11 this year. If one looks at the numbers closely, this result is comparable only to the newly founded Republic of Cuba in the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis (USA), when a far smaller delegation, and under much more adverse conditions, won nine medals (four gold, two silver and three bronze), finishing third in the overall standings.

The Cuban Government sent 123 athletes to participate in 19 events at the Río Olympics. In St. Louis five athletes competed in two disciplines, and they all paid for their own trips, even “El Andarín” Carvajal, who almost managed to win the gold in the marathon. But that was another era.

The regime’s press, which suffers from chronic triumphalism, usually recites the argument of demographic proportionality, boasting about how many more medals Cuba wins (or won) proportional to its population. In practice, this is explained as follows: if the US has about 30 times the population of Cuba, each medal won by Cuban athletes is worth 30 times that won by the “Americans.” In Barcelona, for example, where Cuba won 31 medals, the United States would only have “matched” the results of the Island if it had been awarded 930 medals. If this specious reasoning made any sense, Fiji, Bahamas, Kosovo and Jamaica would be the world’s leading athletic powers: all these countries posted, in proportion to their total populations, results far exceeding the rest of the world’s – including Cuba.

In Río many fell short, including former Olympic champions and holders of global records, winners at the Pan-American Games and prospects for whom the national press augured spectacular careers. The results were particularly dreadful with regards to team sports: in basketball, soccer, field hockey and water polo the low level of the Cuban squads prevented them from even competing in the Olympics. Does anyone remember when the men’s 4 x 100 relay team rivaled that of the US and won silver medals? Or when the volleyball team mowed down the competition, boasting medals at all the competitions? Today Jamaica dominates in sprinting, and in women’s volleyball countries like Senegal and Puerto Rico qualify for Río, while Cuba lives off its bygone glory.

This general decline in the nation’s athletics features an even more disturbing characteristic: Cubans only win medals in individual disciplines. With the exception of a lone bronze medal in women’s athletics, all the medals won in Rio were in one-to-one combat: boxing, judo and wrestling.

To make matters worse, in one of the few collective events in which Cuba had managed to qualify, men’s volleyball, it lost every game. Although in this case it should be noted that its best players are in prison, in Finland, accused of having gang raped a woman.  Apparently no one had warned the carnal Cubans that in this respect the cultural mores and penal codes of the Caribbean and Scandinavia have slight differences.

Continue reading HERE.

Zika, Cuba travel, and Miami

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Zika, Cuba travel and Miami: a reflection

Cuban officials have a poor record on timely reporting of epidemics

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According to the August 17, 2016 Department of Defense Global Zika Surveillance Summary in the Western Hemisphere (spanning January 1, 2015 through August 13, 2016) there have been 106,246 confirmed cases of Zika with 457,894 suspected cases and 1,817 microcephaly cases. 44 countries have been impacted by Zika virus.

Brazil has borne the brunt of the outbreak reporting 78,421 cases of confirmed Zika infection and 1,749 microcephaly cases. This was followed by 8,682 cases in Colombia with 22 cases of microcephaly and Puerto Rico with 8,766 cases and one microcephaly case. The Dominican Republic has 252 cases confirmed.

Meanwhile Cuba is now reporting three confirmed cases and 30 cases brought in from abroad while having mounted a propaganda campaign in February 2016 claiming to have deployed 9,000 troops in a preventive battle against Zika reported The Guardian.

Daniel Chang of The Miami Herald reported on August 17, 2016 in the article “How Cuba is fighting Zika” in the first paragraph a claim that should raise concerns:

“After Cuba was ravaged in 1981 by an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever — a mosquito-borne illness — the island nation’s communist government launched an aggressive response that created the framework for its reportedly successful fight against Zika, according to an article published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.”

Tragically, the so-called aggressive response to dengue by 1997 involved arresting at least one doctor for enemy propaganda who correctly warned of a Dengue outbreak sentenced him to eight years in prison then forced him into exile after an international outcry.  Eventually when the bodies started to pile up and it was no longer possible to cover up the epidemic the regime admitted they had a problem.

This pattern of denial and lack of transparency was repeated with a cholera outbreak in 2012. With Zika the Castro regime can fall back on a tried and true method that it has also used to reduce infant mortality rates and that is the aggressive use of abortion, even without the mother’s consent. The dictatorship will be able to cover up cases of microcephaly with abortions.

Continue reading HERE.

Havana hotels now among most expensive in the world

Hotel Nacional: Havana for tourist$$$$$$$$$$$

Ka-ching!

The Castro regime is cashing in big-time on the Normalization Circus.

Havana hotel prices have skyrocketed.  Does this have anything to do with capitalist free market supply-and-demand issues?

Dream on.  This is all about the Castro regime doing what it does best: taking advantage of its total control of the tourist industry and of the unprincipled foolishness of foreigners who think Castrogonia is “cool.”

Will these higher hotel prices lead to higher salaries for the Cubans employed by Castro, Inc.?

Will all of this extra income from tourism lead to improvements in the lives of all Cubans?

Yeah.  Sure….. Yeah…. Gitouttahere…youse nuts or sompthin?….

 

From KPLU.com

We Knew Cuba Would Get More Expensive, But Not Like This

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley can list expensive destinations, none of which might surprise you.

“New York, London, Paris, any large city in Scandinavia,” he said, “Sydney, Singapore, Shanghai, and Seattle hotels in the summertime.”

Ha.

But lately there have been some surprises – places Brumley has known for years that have seen spikes in how much it costs to visit. That includes Havana, Cuba.

“Hotels that were $250 a night … are now charging over $550 a night,” he said.

The crown jewel of Havana, the Hotel Nacional, is even charging money just to enter and have a drink in the bar. Maybe that’s not a surprise in Cuba, where renewed relations with the United States have opened up the economy to more commerce than at any point in the last 60 years. But Brumley says it’s gone beyond any expectations.

“It’s being totally mismanaged,” he said. “They’ve shot prices up past New York, London and Sydney.”

He also says the crowds are already there – so if you were hoping to see it before the big crush, you’re too late. That said, Brumley expects Cuba’s prices to moderate. The mystique of visiting the formerly off-limits island will wear off, and people will start going elsewhere.

Continue reading HERE

Havana for Cubans

¡A la reja!: Miami Dade College hosts tribute to Tres Patines, legendary Cuban comedian

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As a kid growing up in Little Havana, I remember how much I enjoyed the comedy of Leopoldo Fernandez and his Tres Patines character and living in Miami, I was lucky to enjoy both his radio and television shows. To this day, his comedy is just as hilarious as it was back then.

Thankfully, Miami Dade College is hosting a tribute to this legendary comedian:

Cosa Más Grande: Memories of the Legendary Tres Patines at Miami Dade College West Campus

Event to celebrate the life and career of acclaimed Cuban comedian Leopoldo Fernandez

Miami, Aug. 16, 2016 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) West Campus will host Cosa Más Grande: Memories of the Legendary Tres Patines (Memorias del legendario Tres Patines), a tribute event to honor internationally-acclaimed Cuban comedian/actor Leopoldo Fernandez, better known as Tres Patines. Presented as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the opening ceremony will take place Monday, Sept. 19, starting at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public.

The opening ceremony will feature an exhibition of personal artifacts and photographs of the late comedian, audio recordings of his radio and TV broadcasts, portraits painted by well-known local artists, musicians playing songs written by Fernandez himself, the Cristina Masdueños’ dancers, and the showing of the film Olé Cuba, which is considered by some as one of the best examples of Cuban society in the 1950s.

Cuban musicians Vitico Valdes, Jorge Triana, and Bobby Ramirez will interpret Fernandez’s most popular compositions, including Ahorita Va a Llover. Portraits and caricatures of Fernandez will be showcased by local artists Mariana Altamirano, Aristide, Yovani Bauta, Gustavo Garcia, Garrincha, Pedro Hernandez, Esther Mendoza, Armando Mejias, Alex Morales, Jose Riera, Emilio Rodriguez, and Rogelio Serrano.

Fernandez is best known for his character “Jose Calendario Tres Patines,” depicting a perpetual and comic criminal, on the radio show La Tremenda Corte, launched in Cuba in the 1940s.  He also created the character “Pototo,” who appeared on television in El Show de Pototo y Filomeno. In 1959, Fernandez was exiled to Miami, where he continued performing in theaters, television, and movies throughout the U.S. and Latin America. He is widely regarded as being one of the most popular comedians in Hispanic culture. To this date, radio, as well as TV programs that were filmed in Mexico and Peru in the 1960s are still broadcasted.

The exhibition will remain on display through Oct. 14.

Reports from Cuba: Camagüey has no water despite $40-million loan from Saudi Arabia

Ignacio de la Paz in Translating Cuba:

Has No Water Despite a 40 Million Dollar Loan from Saudi Arabia

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The water supply crisis suffered by Camaguey, the third largest city in Cuba, worsened this August despite the spring and summer rains. Although the supply in some areas of the city presents no difficulties, in the historical district the situation is truly critical and citizens must resolve it as they can.

“I get water every day, clean and with good pressure,” said Luis, a resident of the Avenue of the Martyrs, in the neighborhood of La Vigia, in the north of the city. “I boil the water, treat it with sodium hypochlorite and we drink it.” Quite another thing happens to Roberto, who lives on Calle San Pablo, in the city center.

“I haven’t had water for three days. The water here comes very irregularly. Sometimes there’s no water for a week, and I’ve spent a whole month without water. I don’t have the strength to carry water. I was operated on for a hernia, but I still have to carry buckets of water from the tanks at workplaces. I live on a corner, I can’t dig a well, or install a tank, because the sewer pipe runs under the house. Nor can I install a “water thief” (a makeshift pump that “steals” water) because there is almost never water in the tap.

“Here in the higher area almost no one has water, and it’s the same in Hermanos Agüero and Principe Streets,” complains Heriberto, a resident of Cisneros Street. “The little that comes is taken by the Marquis and La Sevillana tourist hotels, which have huge tanks.” A resident of Havana Plaza, Hilda says that the water supply in the area is irregular and the greatest problem “is that it is very dirty.” She adds, “You have to let it sit for several days before you can use it. I don’t know why the water problem hasn’t been solved, when there was a big hullabaloo in the press about Saudi Arabia providing a loan to solve Camagüey’s water problem and now we don’t hear anything more about it.”

The official newspaper Adelante, in its issue of 20 August 2016, addressed the problem of water with a series of justifications based on lack of resources and investments. However, it omits mention of the soft loan of 40 million dollars from Saudi Arabia, granted in December 2014, to improve Camagüey’s water and sewer systems.

In an interview with Radio Camagüey on 13 April 2016, Luis Palacios Hidalgo, director of the Aqueduct Rehabilitation Project, and an official of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources Delegation, promised that starting in June of this year the province would have – thanks to the credits granted – the “technological equipment and devices necessary for the aqueduct, guaranteeing the quantity and stability of water for the people.” To do this, he detailed, 1.8 million pesos will be dedicated to a water treatment plant.

These promises have not only not been fulfilled, but the situation has gotten worse. As for the Saudi credit, there has been no information about where the 40 million dollars is, how much of it has been used and how and why the project has been so delayed. Meanwhile, Roberto, Heriberto and so many other Camagüeyans continue to carry buckets of water in the afternoon for bathing and cooking.

Notoriously corrupt Cuba mysteriously left out from annual report on money laundering and terrorist financing

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Cuba Conspicuously Missing From 2016 Basel Bank Transparency Index

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Last month, the Basel Institute on Governance released its 2016 Basel AML Index.

The Basel AML Index is the most renowned, annual ranking assessing country risk regarding money laundering/terrorism financing. It focuses on anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) frameworks and other related factors such as financial/public transparency and judicial strength.

The Index measured 149 countries, including such troubling actors as Iran, Venezuela, Myanmar, Sudan, China, Vietnam, Russia and Zimbabwe.

Yet, Cuba is conspicuously missing from its report. 

The other two nations notably missing are Syria and North Korea.

Perhaps the reason for their absence is the lack of publicly available data sources for Cuba, along with Syria and North Korea.

But that — in itself — doesn’t bode well for transparency.

Yet, the Obama Administration is encouraging banking transactions with Cuba’s wholly state-owned, non-transparent banking system?

The Obama Administration is authorizing dollar transactions abroad (U-turn) by Cuba’s secretive banks?

The Obama Administration recruited a small, local, real-estate bank with no international experience, South Florida’s Stonegate Bank, to open a correspondent account and handle transactions with Cuba’s shady banks?

Would Obama do the same for Syria and North Korea? Well, actually, never mind…

Just recently, we had noted how Cuba’s Banco Financiero Internacional was now directly taken over (overnight) by Castro’s military conglomerate, GAESA. This state-owned bank is solely empowered by the Castro regime to conduct commercial banking operations in convertible currencies. Virtually every foreign company and person engaged in business on the island must open an account in this bank.

These are not “positive steps” as The White House’s “echo chamber” likes to propagate.

Obama may be willing to sacrifice transparency and security for his “legacy,” but regulators and other career officials that will outlast his presidency definitely should not.

Day 35: Fariñas visited by two low-level European diplomats

Tragic impasse

On the 35th day of his hunger strike, Guillermo Fariñas was visited by representatives of the European Union and the German embassy.

These two low-level functionaries spent an hour with Fariñas, trying to convince him to give up his hunger strike.

Fariñas told his visitors that he will keep fasting until the Castro regime stops abusing Cuban dissidents.

The visitors claim that they have expressed their concerns about Fariñas’s health to the Castro regime.

Whether or not they have asked the Castro regime to agree to Fariñas’s demands remains unknown.

Given the long-term behavior patterns of the Spanish government and the European Union toward the Castro regime, the chance that they have finally asked King Raul to free his slaves is very slim.

Exceedingly slim, slimmer even than Fariñas’s body will be when this hunger strike ends his life.

For more details go HERE (in Spanish)

After decades of turning a blind eye, OAS suddenly sees tyranny in Venezuela

Karina Martin in PanAm Post:

OAS Secretary General Foresees “End of Democracy” in Venezuela

Luis Almagro Lays Out Complaints about Troubled Country in Open Letter

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Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro published an open letter this week on his thoughts regarding the state of Venezuela.

In the letter, he said the corruption and violence that exists in Venezuela as well as the incarceration of opposition leader Leopoldo López mark the “end of democracy” in the country.

“To be honest, at first, after your arrest, I did not know you were a political prisoner,” the letter began. “Only when I read the decision did I assimilate the political dimension of the horror lived in your country.”

In the letter — dedicated to his “friend” — Almagro highlighted the “intimidation” tactics created by the Venezuelan government against their opponents in Venezuela, as well as the corruption of senior officials, explaining that this has become “the corollary of an ineffective government.”

Almagro called Maduro’s adminstration a “regime,” saying the biggest problem the country has is its “tyranny,” while reiterating the importance of having a recall referendum this year.

“Under no circumstances should power be used … to prevent the people from expressing themselves,” he said.

“(The Venezuelan government) seeks to maintain power to deny the people the possibility of deciding by vote, by resorting to violence against those who manifest or have other opinions,” continued the former foreign minister of Uruguay.

“No regional or subregional forum can ignore the reality that today in Venezuela there is no democracy or rule of law,” Almagro said and insisted that the recall should take place this year.

In May this year, Almagro sought to activate the Democratic Charter of the OAS for Venezuela, an unprecedented mechanism for suspending the country from Mercosur.

“Those of us who suffered dictatorships know that trying to eliminate opposition or dissident voices is a true reflection of the ignorance of tyrants,” he said.

Source: Sumarium; El Tiempo

Guillermo Fariñas & The Papa Che

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Cuban Human Rights Dissident Guillermo Fariñas is near his death after conducting a hunger strike with the intent of forcing the Cuban Government to stop harassing dissidents. Considering that the Papa Che played such a crucial role in President Obama’s Cuba opening, my question is why has he not interceded to save the life of this honorable Cuban?!!!

But when I look around the atrocities that radical Islamic terrorists have carried out against Catholics and Christians, I ask myself about the moral leadership and advocacy that the Pope Che has exercised?!!! Nowhere to be found!!!

Ted Turner-Founded CNN (“Castro News Network”) Celebrates Fidel Castro’s Birthday

“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy!” Ted Turner gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech in 1997. “You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him.”

Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Bureau chief Lucia Newman (now with Al Jazeera) assured viewers, “CNN will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without censorship.”

Hard-hitting stories immediately followed. To wit: CNN soon featured Fidel’s office in its “Cool Digs” segment of CNN’s “Newsstand.” “When was the last time you saw a cup full of pencils on the boss’s desk?” asked perky CNN anchor Steven Frazier. “And they do get used – look at how worn down the erasers are! Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people. … He’s Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader since 1959!”

Actually, CNN is upholding a long and sniveling tradition among networks. No serious Cuba-watcher expects a network bestowed a Havana bureau by KGB-trained apparatchiks to even feign honesty, or even play-act their professed duty: “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Given that the Castro regime has:

*Jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s during the Great Terror.

*Murdered more Cubans in its first three years in power than Hitler’s murdered Germans during its first six.

*Converted a nation with a higher per-capita income than half of Europe and a huge influx of (first-world) immigrants into one that drove twenty times as many people to die attempting to escape it as died attempting to escape East Germany — and boasts the highest suicide rate in the Western Hemisphere.

(Everything above thoroughly-documented here.)

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Given the above tally of the wantonly and horribly “afflicted” you might think CNN faced an easy job when reporting on Castro’s birthday, right? Think of all the riveting “human-interest” stories in that mix!

HAH!  Instead the only “afflicted” CNN chose to comfort was the agent of the horrors catalogued above.

Our friends at Frontpage Magazine help disseminate some items not well-understood outside the tiny Cuban-American informational ghetto.

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All items above fully-documented in these internationally acclaimed books.

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“Fontova’s book teaches us truths about Castro’s island that are very discomfiting for many intellectuals.” Ana Botella (Spain’s former First Lady while giving a book reading in Madrid, upon “Fidel; HFT” release in Spain)

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“Le RRRONCA!!!”