— Silvio Canto, Jr. (@SCantojr) October 21, 2016
The war on Cuba’s ‘paladares’: The regime’s campaign against private initiative grows more sophisticated
Observers and analysts have been discussing the Castro regime’s decision to temporarily ban new licenses to open small restaurants (paladares) in Havana, run by entrepreneurs. At the same time a warning has been issued to those already operating that they will be subject to stricter controls, with the initiation of a process of summons that will instruct violators regarding regulation violations, including “evading taxes, buying supplies on the black market or operating illegal clubs and bars. ”
Limiting supply on any market is a public policy measure with very negative effects on the population, with results that are just the opposite of those it pursues, even in economies like Cuba’s under Castro in which the market delivers only a portion of goods and services, with the State playing a major role in the their provisioning.
This absolutely unexpected decision by the regime flies in the face of information indicating an increase in tourists and travellers, constituting a market with a growing need for dining services. The Castro regime’s war against Cuba’s paladares is nothing new. Whenever any type of private economic activity flourishes on the Island, reactionary Stalin-like measures are adopted to show who is in control of the economy. What has happened with the paladares is just more of the same.
Its immediate effects will be:
- Stifling one of the possible channels for economic emancipation, supposedly opened up by the “Guidelines.”
- Limiting the supply of popular food offerings, which will increase the prices of those that continue to operate on the market.
- Directly benefitting suppliers (State and hotels) that were struggling to compete with small restaurants.
- Curtailing growth in the supply of agricultural products for entrepreneurs, thereby raising consumer prices.
- Reducing the entry of “mules” with intermediate goods for small restaurants that were having trouble obtaining supplies on domestic markets.
- Frustrating expectations and personal projects.
- Bolstering administrative/political control over economic activity.
- Cutting job creation at these establishments.
- Hampering the sector’s evolution towards specialization, diversification and improved productivity.
- Producing a decline in tax revenues.
The main difference between the current campaign against the paladares and previous efforts is that the regime’s initiative against private enterprise in Cuba is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Thus, the meetings to which owners of paladares are summoned are attended by “Popular Power” representatives from Havana and various State institutions, such as the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) and the ubiquitous State Security. And, as stated by some of those called to these meetings, they are told that the paladares are important to the economy, and that the irregularities are not only found at private businesses, but also State operations too. To date, however, the bulk of the administrative pressure has fallen on the former.
Continue reading HERE.
Midwestern farmers, shout for joy! Hallelujah!
Hey, Mildred, take a look at this wonderful piece of news!
Finally, we’ll be able to sell our wheat, corn, soybeans, cheese, and pork bellies to Cuba on credit! Yee-haw!
We’ll be rich, Mildred, I tell ya, richer than Trump!
And those Cubans will buy our stuff on credit, get fat, and never, ever pay a cent for what we sell ’em.
Yep, Mildred, we’ll be richer than the Facebook guy and the Microsoft guy, richer than the Amazon guy –Bezos — who has a Cuban stepfather, richer than the Clintons too!
And those cigar ladies in Cuba –you know, those mammy-type black women who pose for photos — they’ll get fat too, and look just like Aunt Jemima!
Yep, yep, God bless America, Mildred, when the Cubans refuse to pay us for the stuff we sold them on credit, the U.S. government will step in and cover the Cuban debt.
Thank you, Obama! Thanks for ignoring U.S. law, Obama. Thanks for makin’ sure that it will be okay to break the law forever, and to make U.S. taxpayers pay us for the stuff we sell to Cuba on credit!
And oh, Mildred, my sweet, sweet Mildred, thanks be to God that Hillary will be our next president.
She’ll be even better for us Midwestern farmers than Obama!
From Wisconsin Ag Connection:
White House Loosens Regulations on Cuba Exports of Agricultural Products
Last Friday, the Obama Administration announced the next steps in further loosening the U.S. sanctions against Cuba, continuing the process of normalization that the Administration hopes to make permanent before leaving office. Americans have been authorized to bring back rum and cigars from Cuba, for personal use. However, for agriculture, the excitement is in an expansion of exports for goods such as farm equipment and pesticides.
According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, these new amendments allow exporters to avoid cash-in-advance requirements for transactions involving agricultural commodities that have caused significant barriers. The loosening of restrictions in trade with Cuba provides an opportunity for American wheat growers to take advantage of the available Caribbean market, in the face of declining prices and market surplus.
With foreign competitors taking advantage of the Cuban wheat import market, American growers welcome this announcement that will help decrease financial barriers and regulations that have restricted US wheat access for decades. NAWG President Gordon Stoner said that ‘one of the solutions to boosting the sagging farm economy is increased trade.’
The group supports efforts to liberalize trade with Cuba by loosening regulations on products exported out of the country and encourages Congress and the Obama Administration to continue on the path towards ending the embargo.
For Cuba’s corrupt Castro dictatorship, the government corruption in Washington D.C. offers a myriad of opportunities.
Email: Lobbyist Asks For Meeting With Valerie Jarrett And Offers $5,000 To Clinton Aide
In an email to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, a lobbyist working on U.S. relations with Cuba asked for a meeting with Valerie Jarrett and offered $5,000 for a campaign event.
Luke Albee, a Senior Advisor with advocacy group Engage Cuba, wrote in an email to Podesta, “its [sic] time to move on to the next Obama legacy item: Cuba,” according to Wikileaks. “Can you help me and my two partners get an audience with Valerie Jarrett so we can talk through harnessing the business community on this?” Albee asked in the email.
Engage Cuba is “the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba” and “the only organization whose primary focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy,” according to their website. The organization also claims that they “have the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy.”
Albee likely asked Podesta to arrange a meeting with Valerie Jarrett because she is Senior Advisor to President Obama and is seen as a member of his inner circle. The June 2015 email goes on to specifically admit that Engage Cuba has “up to 46 co-sponsors on the travel bill — and [is] going to need help getting it over the line.”
At the end of the email, Albee writes, “I am happy to come early and chop for you at the Leahy event.” This is likely a reference to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont who strongly supports normalizing relations with Cuba. Albee served as Sen. Leahy’s Chief of Staff from 1993 to 2004.
“I think our new pro-engagement pac can contribute $5k to the event,” Albee wrote in the email.
Continue reading HERE.
After yesterday’s events in Venezuela, the transition to a complete totalitarian dictatorship in that country by Cuba’s Castro regime is nearly complete.
Venezuela electoral body suspends referendum drive, opposition fumes
Venezuela’s electoral authority on Thursday suspended the next phase of a recall referendum against unpopular President Nicolas Maduro, sparking outcry from the opposition who accused the Socialist government of dictatorial tactics.
The oil-rich country is mired in a brutal economic crisis that has families skipping meals amid food shortages and triple-digit inflation. Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader elected three years ago to replace late leader Hugo Chavez, has seen his popularity tumble in hand with the recession.
His foes had vowed to push for a recall referendum against him this year, which, if successful would have triggered fresh presidential elections that polls show Maduro would lose.
The election board had already said there would be no such vote this year, and appeared to put the final nail in the coffin on Thursday night.
Citing court orders, the electoral body said in a statement it was suspending next week’s signature drive to collect around 4 million signatures and trigger the vote.
Earlier on Thursday, Venezuelan ruling party officials said several regional courts had voided an earlier signature drive by the opposition, due to fraud allegations.
“We hope that justice will be served and that those responsible for this swindle will be detained,” said Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello during a political rally on Thursday.
The Democratic Unity coalition blasted the decision, adding it would outline its action plan on Friday.
“We have a government of thieves using power to maintain itself,” opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan said on Twitter.
“But in the street the people are demanding a recall, and no one will stop us!”
The opposition needed a referendum this year because under Venezuela’s constitutional rules, should Maduro lose a plebiscite next year, his vice president would take over rather than there being a new election, denying the opposition their opportunity to take power after 17 years of socialism.
Maduro’s rivals warn that by preventing a democratic solution to the crisis, the government is stoking chances of unrest in violent Venezuela.
“The government is pushing a very dangerous scenario in which the crisis worsens,” opposition leader and two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Venezuela’s election board delayed an election for state governorships to 2017 from December, giving the government more breathing room before going to the polls..
(Reporting by Corina Pons and Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Peter Cooney, Andrew Cawthorne and Michael Perry)
Chair of Senate Intelligence: We will not share intelligence with Cuba
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said it’s dangerous for the United States to considering sharing intelligence with a country that is so closely tied with Russia and Iran.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C, criticized a White House directive that instructs the U.S. director of national intelligence to cooperate with Cuban intelligence counterparts. Burr said the United States would alert any country of a possible imminent terrorist threat, but he said the United States should not be providing intelligence to any country that might share it with adversaries.
“I don’t think as long as I’m chairman of the committee, that the intelligence community is going to be in an intelligence sharing relationship with Cuba,” Burr said.
The little-known directive has raised concerns among South Florida Cuban Americans who are intimately aware of the Castro’s government past success spying on the United States government. But others feel that the United States could and should share a limited amount of information with the Cuban government much like it shares some terrorism related information with adversaries like Russia.
The Obama administration says the directive is intended to combat “mutual threats.”
Read more at InCubaToday.
This is so crazy that I am speechless. It appears that our young people, known as millennials these days, are completely ignorant of communism. Let me show you this from Market Watch:
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, citing survey results released on Monday, blames widespread ignorance for the relatively positive views millennials have toward socialism and communism.
Of the 2,300 Americans polled by YouGov, 80% of baby boomers and 91% of the elderly agree with the statement that “communism was and still is a problem” in the world today. Millennials? Only 55%.
The insanity continues with many millennials believing that President George W. Bush killed more people than Stalin. Incredibly, Stalin was known as “The butcher of Ukraine” to many Russians who actually know the history of the 20th century.
What an indictment of our educational system. What are we teaching our young people about an ideology that killed millions of people in the 20th century?
It is also further proof that our schools are too caught up in political correctness, or even moral equivalency. It is one thing to teach history, such as the Soviet revolution or Mao’s Long March or the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it’s quite another to compare Lenin to George Washington.
In other words, there are good and bad guys in history. And there is nothing wrong with millennials hearing that we are the good guys and the communists are not. It is our absence to say these things that has a bunch of millennials confused about the real history.
My mother, who came here from Cuba with my late father, is furious to hear that millennials are so ignorant. She has offered to tutor them for free with real human stories about communism.
Castronoid airport thieves were caught red-handed (no pun intended), and filmed by American tourists.
And when the Eastern Airlines pilots complained, the Castronoid authorities responded by harassing and threatening the pilots and their passengers with imprisonment.
Once again, Obama’s “legacy” circus is unmasked as a cruel and dangerous joke.
Good luck finding any major news outlet that will pay attention to this story.
And good luck securing your valuables when you travel to Castrogonia, for the next president of the U.S.A. is going to try very hard to outdo her predecessor when it comes to establishing a Cuba policy “legacy.”
So, get ready for more concessions under Nihillary and expect an escalation in Castronoid shenanigans after she wins the upcoming presidential election by a landslide.
From Capitol Hill Cubans
How Obama’s Cuba Flights Jeopardize U.S. Security
For months, U.S. lawmakers have expressed serious concerns over the Obama Administration’s haste in restoring commercial flights to Cuba, despite the serious security risks they pose.
To distract from these risks, the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) has misled Congress, while bipartisan delegations from the House Homeland Security and Transportation Committees have been denied visas by the Cuban regime to independently investigate.
As a result, the Cuban Airport Security Act of 2016 was introduced in the House and Senate, and recently marked-up by the House Homeland Security Committee.
This week, we have Exhibit A about why U.S. lawmakers and the American public are right to be concerned.
On October 15th, an Eastern Airlines charter flight at the gate in Havana Airport witnessed how Cuban Customs officials were rummaging and stealing merchandise from luggage being boarded onto a plane in the neighboring gate.
Passengers on the Eastern flight, which was preparing to depart from Havana to Miami, captured cell phone footage of these illicit activities. (Click here to watch or click image below) — courtesy of Diario de Cuba.)
The Eastern pilots denounced these illicit activities to the Havana Airport authorities.
But clearly, the Havana Airport authorities were part of the conspiracy. Rather than take corrective actions, they threatened the Eastern pilots who denounced the illicit activities, grounded the plane, sought to confiscate the cell phones with the evidence and tried to force the passengers to disembark.
The passengers feared they would be arrested by the Cuban authorities. However, the Eastern pilots told the passengers to remain on the plane, where they were protected by U.S. law.
Thanks to the wisdom of these Eastern pilots, the Cuban authorities eventually relented and after a 3-hour standoff allowed the plane to depart for Miami.
One of the main concerns posed by U.S. lawmakers is precisely that there are no independent airline or U.S. security personnel and Cuba’s airports. Everyone is an employee and subordinate of Castro’s regime. In other words, the Obama Administration is outsourcing U.S. flight security to the Castro regime.
This week’s events show how such utter lack of transparency and collusion clearly threaten U.S. security.
As Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin wisely wrote this month: “The security situation at Cuban airports is an open invitation for any bad actor who wishes to do harm to the United States to try to board a flight to the United States with whatever dangerous contraband they can carry. If that’s the price of Obama securing his Cuba legacy, it’s not worth it.”
Add to this concern, corrupt Cuban Customs and airport officials that can do so.
It’s time Obama placed the security interests of the United States over his Cuba “legacy.”
Cubans are a captive people. The first evidence of this is that the island’s government will not talk to dissident voices about human rights. It does it with the US government.
In the island’s 43,190 square miles, two completely opposite projects or visions of a nation coexist badly. The two visions of a nation speak different languages. One, theirs, defend its domination; the other, ours, the right to change in a peaceful and democratic way this state of affairs that is so unjust.
For the Cuban government, whose political model of supply is socialism, the language is one of intolerance, the rights of conquest on the social body. The discourse of sovereignty invoked by the regime is incompatible with respect for human rights.
Government propaganda blames material poverty on the American economic embargo. But doesn’t recognize that it itself is a political aberration, with the state erecting itself as the administrator of our human needs as if it was about an endowment of slaves, an infantilized family, a mass of poor people and failed citizens that cannot freely build their own destiny, because their rights to do so is not recognized by the state.
We, as dissident civil society, have a different vision of what we want our country to be. Without even having to agree, because we are very diverse, we want to resolve the issues that affect us and affect our children, like education, health, culture, the role of the state, through the exercise of our civil and political rights. We want to elect cultured leaders who willingly accept their limitations. We want a free economy, without state interference, because the socialist economy is a condition without which the current government could not exercise its tyranny over society.
To better understand us we could say that our spirit is more akin to the American Declaration of Independence than the Marxism they tried to indoctrinate us with in school. Precisely because the Cuban state-party-government behaves with respect to society like, in their time, a metropolis did with respect to colonies. In its logic there are conquerers and conquered, which is the logic of a relation of forces and not the logic of politics, and does not recognize our rights and in this sense we are a captive nation.
But we’re not really conquered, because there is no chance that we will give up our dreams, that have withstood every kind of storm. Sooner or later dreams find a way to express themselves and end up coming to fruition in the world
We can say that the Castro regime is alien to us, deaf to our affections, because it ignores the spiritual dimension of a liberalizing longing. So the reasons that move the political changes in totalitarian dictatorships are not only political in nature, but above all spiritual.
“Poor thing. He probably just wanted to open a private restaurant over there.”
Obama to the Castro regime: Do whatever you want
ON FRIDAY, President Obama unveiled a Presidential Decision Directive trumpeting further overtures to the Cuban government designed to make the thaw he announced on Dec. 17, 2014, “irreversible.” That would imply “regardless of results” — which so far have been paltry, at least in terms of freedom and prosperity for Cuba’s long-suffering people. Indeed, Cubans are “worse off now than how they imagined their future” when normalization began, opposition journalist Yoani Sanchez noted recently.
The Castro regime has arrested almost as many peaceful opponents so far this year (8,505) as it did in all of 2015 (8,616), according to the nongovernmental Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. The ranks of the repressed include dissident lawyer Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo, who was thrown in prison Sept. 23. His law firm was also ransacked and documents were taken. Havana’s municipal government has just banned new licenses for private restaurants and instructed existing ones that it will start enforcing onerous taxes and regulations more tightly. It was, Reuters reported, “a new sign that Cuba’s Communist-run government is hesitant to further open up to private business in a country where it still controls most economic activity,” following similar retrenchment in agriculture and transportation last year.
The economy is stagnating due to the Castro regime’s perennial mismanagement and cutbacks in aid from Cuba’s chaotic patron, Venezuela. In July, Cuba’s economy minister warned that fuel consumption would have to be cut by nearly a third in the rest of the year, along with restrictions in state investments and imports. Cuba’s cash crunch helps explain why sales of U.S. goods (those permitted under long-standing humanitarian exceptions to the embargo) are running well below what they were before the thaw. Some 89,000 Cubans have fled to the United States since the policy began.
Havana’s response to Mr. Obama’s latest olive branch was to demand more concessions. Mr.?Obama’s directive “does not hide the purpose of promoting changes in the political, economic and social order,” top diplomat Josefina Vidal asserted. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Vidal led a large nationally televised rally at Havana University to protest the “genocidal” embargo, part of a broad anti-U.S. propaganda campaign timed to coincide with Mr.?Obama’s announcement.
An optimistic view of these developments would be that the administration’s strategy is working: Frightened by the prospect of freer business activity, and ideologically challenged in the absence of a Yanqui enemy, Cuba’s leaders must clamp down on the former and invent the latter — and round up the usual dissident suspects. That may be true; but recent events also show the tension between the president’s twin goals of doing business with the Cuban government as a legitimate equal and relieving the misery of the Cuban people, which is caused by their government. Even on the ideological defensive, the Cuban regime retains the capacity to resist change and to punish citizens who seek to bring it about.
We have never opposed a thaw in relations, only Mr. Obama’s decision — contrary to his earlier promise — to exclude from the process all those Cubans who have been bravely fighting for increased freedom. Now Mr. Obama is giving the regime a green light: No amount of repression can derail his policy. That is a strange and unfortunate message.
Colombia takes yet another promising step away from being a part of Latrine America.
Colombian University Students Paint Over Controversial Che Guevara Mural
On the night of Tuesday, October 18, a group of students painted one of the most emblematic walls of the National University of Colombia.
A group of college students allegedly painted over the face of Che Guevara over night, possibly in response to university officials being indecisive about whether to paint over the image or not themselves.
The wall makes up the back of the Leon De Greiff Santander auditorium facing what is commonly referred to as the school’s “Che” plaza. The university was famous for having painted the image of the guerilla leader there in the 1980s.
A survey conducted through student email revealed that most people on campus did not agree with the presence of the image.
Che was one of the guerrillas more representative of the Cuban Revolution. Students critical of his image claimed the main square of the school should represent all students, not just those who share his ideology.
The image was painted in the ’80s when a group of masked students removed the statue of Francisco de Paula Santander from the square, which until that date bore his name.
This is the second attempt to remove Che’s image. During the first time, a group of students broke the paint-rollers of those seeking to paint a different image over that of Che.
One of the students in an interview with the website Vice News said that they want to eliminate the image of “Che” and paint something that best represents the student community and the history of Colombia.
The painted image was released on Twitter by a councilman as a complaint. However, it has provoked many reactions from both those wanting to remove the image and those who want it to stay.
Despite Obama turning his back on Cuba’s besieged dissidents and his complete surrender to the apartheid Castro dictatorship, the Cuban regime has refused to allow aid shipments for the victims of Hurricane Matthew. Instead, the Castros want the U.S. to continue sending cash to organizations in Cuba so they can purchase supplies from the regime at inflated prices.
That is what “Hope and Change” looks like in Obama’s Cuba.
Rebuilding efforts underway in Eastern Cuba but U.S. hurricane aid rebuffed
For many residents of Baracoa, the Cuban city hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew, it could be a long time before life returns to normal.
Two weeks after the ferocious storm plowed across the eastern tip of the island, schools were back in session and construction materials and heavy equipment from Venezuela and Japan had started to arrive, helping Cuban government efforts to clear roads and restore electricity and communications systems. Cubana de Aviación also plans to resume flights to Baracoa Thursday.
But despite offers from U.S. charities to send food and other relief, shipments from the United States has been rebuffed thus far.
“The problem is the [Cuban] government is not allowing emergency relief to come in from the United States,” said the Rev. José Espino, a Hialeah priest who is helping coordinate Archdiocese of Miami relief efforts for the Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa.
The Miami archdiocese has asked for canned food, donations of rice and beans, cash and help with transporting goods to both Haiti and Cuba. Shipments already have been dispatched to Haiti, but none have gone out to Cuba.
Teams from Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services rode out the storm in towns on Haiti’s southwest peninsula and immediately after Matthew tore through began distributing pre-positioned supplies. But there hasn’t been a similar pipeline to Cuba. CRS says the “most likely scenario” is that it will provide funding to Caritas Cuba, the Catholic relief mission on the island, so that it can buy supplies in-country.
“The problem buying in the local market in Cuba is there is no wholesale and buying in quantity means there wouldn’t be supplies for other people in Cuba,” Espino said. “So the church is buying supplies little by little.”
Among the most immediate needs, according to CRS, are zinc sheeting to repair homes, mattresses, food, hygiene supplies, kitchen utensils and seed and tools to help farmers get back on their feet.
Espino said there’s plenty of willingness from the U.S. to help Cuba — including the offer of a 727 to fly in food — but the church in Cuba hasn’t been able to get permission to receive such supplies.
Instead, Espino said, the archdiocese has been helping with monetary donations that have been used to purchase food and supplies in Havana and other cities for distribution in the eastern Cuba communities ravaged by Matthew.
Continue reading HERE.