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Thursday, October 30, 2014

What You Saved Yourself From Camilo!

What You Saved Yourself From Camilo! / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on October 29, 2014

Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 31 October 2014 – For the first and last time,
I saw him from afar for a fraction of a second on 21 October 1959, the
day he passed through Camaguey to arrest Comandante Huber Matos. No one
understood anything, but the presence of Camilo in the midst of the
confusion gave us confidence that everything would be solved in the best
possible way.

The details of the moment when his disappearance was reported (a week
later) has been erased from my memory, but I haven't forgotten that
instant when they announced the false news that he had been found.
People on the streets brought out flags and pictures of the Virgin of
Charity. The joy was brief, but unforgettable.

How is it possible that in all these years, when not a single square
yard remains unexplored, that not a single vestige has appeared (…)?

For a long time I was convinced that he might appear at any moment. In
the years when I thought myself a poet, I even penned some verses
describing his return. All the times I flew between Camaguey and Havana,
every time I do it, I wondered what could be the reason for plunging
into the sea… how a Cessna, that never flies too high, could fall on a
site other than the island platform? How is it possible that in all
these years, when not a single square yard remains unexplored, that not
even one vestige has appeared, a part of an engine, the propeller, what
do I know…

If he had survived what happened and not been involved in another
similar incident, Camilo Cienfuegos would today be another octogenarian
at the summit of power. If he had not been sacked, imprisoned or shot,
he would be burdened today with the responsibility for a national
disaster. We would no longer be discussing if he was more popular than
the "other one," but if he was as guilty.

Right now, as I write these lines, students are marching along the
Malecon with flowers, the people who work in offices are leaving earlier
than usual because they are going to throw flowers in the sea for
Camilo. A ritual now lacking the emotions of the first years, when those
who went to the shore to pay homage did so with tears in their eyes, and
without having to be summoned by the director of a workplace or the
principal of a school.

Death has immortalized among us his cheerful and popular image. If there
is something beyond, and from that place he is watching us, he must feel
happy to have disappeared in time. The death saved him from the
ignominy, and the probable temptation of corruption and the humiliation
of having been treated as a traitor and as an accomplice.

Source: What You Saved Yourself From Camilo! / Reinaldo Escobar |
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/what-you-saved-yourself-from-camilo-reinaldo-escobar/

Cuban Wave Arrives by Land

Cuban Wave Arrives by Land
Migrants Take Circuitous Routes to Reach the Border, Where They Gain Entry
MICHAEL STRAVATO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By MIRIAM JORDAN and ARIAN CAMPO-FLORES
Oct. 28, 2014 7:36 p.m. ET

In June, Luis Alberto Cuan Lio and his pregnant wife, Yordana Bravo
Perez, flew from Cuba to Ecuador as tourists. It was the first leg in a
circuitous journey that ended when they crossed the border from Mexico
into the U.S., where they are building a new life.

An influx of illegal immigrants from Central America drew wide attention
recently, but more than 22,000 Cubans entered the U.S. over land in the
year that ended Sept. 30, twice as many as in the previous year. An
additional 3,940 sought to reach the U.S. along maritime routes, nearly
double the previous year and the highest number since 2008, when the
island was buffeted by several hurricanes, exports were suffering and
Raúl Castro became president.

Helping to fuel the exodus are the Cuban government's easing of travel
restrictions for its citizens last year and a general lack of hope among
Cubans for the country's economic prospects. "People are growing
frustrated with the depth and pace of the economic reforms," said Ted
Henken, a Latin American studies professor at Baruch College in New York.

The U.S. also has loosened restrictions on visas for Cubans who arrive
by air as tourists, some of whom are believed to remain in the U.S.
About 30,000 of these visas were issued in the fiscal year ended Sept.
30, 2013.

Officials at the Cuban Interests Section, the country's consular
presence in Washington, D.C., didn't return calls seeking comment.

Cuban migrants to the U.S. enjoy special treatment. The Cold War-era
Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 allows those who touch U.S. soil to remain
here rather than be deported. They are eligible for some benefits that
are accorded to refugees fleeing persecution. After a year, they can
apply for permanent residency or a green card.

The number of new Cuban arrivals pales next to the 130,000 or so Central
Americans that crossed into the U.S. illegally in the latest fiscal
year, or the estimated 125,000 Cubans that came by sea in 1980's Mariel
boatlift. But the land crossings open a new chapter in Cuban flight to
the U.S., and experts expect arrivals to keep climbing.

At the Mexico-Texas border, Cubans join the line for people with
permission to enter the U.S. "They know exactly where to go, arrive with
their documents and say they want to apply for the Cuban Adjustment
Act," said Adriana Arce, assistant director at the Laredo port of entry
for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who has had to bolster staffing
to process the influx. After an interview, the Cubans typically are
"paroled" into the country, a process that takes roughly two hours.
Then, armed with U.S.-issued papers, they are free to go wherever they wish.

Mr. Cuan, a physician, and his wife, a preschool teacher, saved money
for years and used help from friends and relatives in the U.S. to pay
for their journey to the U.S., which cost about $8,000.

"We had lost hope of Cuba improving," said the 47-year-old Mr. Cuan, who
says he earned the equivalent of $20 a month in Cuba. Rather than risk
their lives at sea, they opted for a safer, if longer and pricier, route.

The couple flew to Ecuador because it didn't require a visa. From there,
they traveled to Lima, Peru, where they secured fake Peruvian passports
that enabled them to enter Mexico without a visa. In Monterrey, they
boarded a bus to Laredo, where they told U.S. inspectors that they were
Cuban nationals.

The couple is now in Houston, where they are being helped by Refugee
Services of Texas. That nonprofit agency over the summer handled as many
Cubans as it did refugees from all other countries combined. "It's a lot
of people all at once," said Sara Kauffman, area director.

Wafa Abdin, a vice president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of
Galveston-Houston, says the agency has been serving about 50 Cubans a
week this year, up from about five to 15 a week two years ago. "Our
staff is used to helping everyone who comes through the door; this is
nonfunded need," that is stretching resources, said Margaret Ayot, a
program supervisor.

YMCA International Services of Houston served 700 refugees from Africa,
Asia and other countries in the 2014 fiscal year. In that same period,
it provided assistance to 434 Cubans. "They present themselves and we
piece together a plan quickly," said executive director Jeff Watkins.

Cubans are eligible for eight months of cash assistance, medical
coverage, job-placement services and free English classes, among other
benefits offered to refugees. For a family of three, eight months of
cash assistance totals $4,300; for a single person, it is about $2,500.
Cubans can also receive food stamps if they meet the income requirements.

Some say Cubans aren't refugees in the traditional sense, though they
have such rights. "The majority of Cubans are economic migrants," said
Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney who works along the Texas border.
The U.S. admitted 70,000 refugees last year, mainly from Africa, Asia
and the Middle East.

Cubans who take to the sea to reach Miami are typically the poorest,
traveling on vessels made with rebar, wood and Styrofoam, according to
Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard's Seventh
District in Miami. The spate of recent crossings is causing alarm, he
said. "It's sometimes ingenious what they put together," he said. "But
they're very unseaworthy."

The Cuban influx is expected to accelerate, experts say, especially if
the U.S. economy keeps improving.

Mr. Cuan says he is looking for work in any field after receiving his
employment authorization and a Social Security number. "We have nothing
here," he said, but "it's a better place to live."

Write to Miriam Jordan at miriam.jordan@wsj.com and Arian Campo-Flores
at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com

Source: Cuban Wave Arrives by Land - WSJ - WSJ -
http://online.wsj.com/articles/cuban-wave-arrives-by-land-1414539408

33 Cuban migrants rescued off Boca Raton

33 Cuban migrants rescued off Boca Raton
BY ALFONSO CHARDY ACHARDY@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM
10/29/2014 11:23 AM 10/29/2014 5:25 PM

Thirty-three Cuban men were rescued from the water by U.S. Coast Guard
crews Wednesday morning after they jumped off a boat that was taking on
water off Boca Raton in southern Palm Beach County.

A Coast Guard spokesman said the incident occurred about seven miles
east of Boca Raton in the Atlantic Ocean.

The rescue came two days after 13 Cuban rafters attempted to reach Miami
in a makeshift boat that broke apart near the Turkey Point nuclear power
plant. Eleven of the migrants were rescued or made it safely to land.
The Coast Guard suspended its search for two more who were still missing
Wednesday.

"Upon our assets arriving on scene, the suspected migrants were taken
aboard a Coast Guard boat and safely transferred to a Coast Guard Cutter
for basic medical attention if needed," the Coast Guard said in a statement.


A boat suspected of carrying 33 migrants floats seven miles east of Boca
Inlet. The boat apparently took on water and the migrants jumped into
the ocean where they were rescued. | Coast Guard

Related Stories

Bodies of four victims found off Hollywood Beach identified as Cuban
migrants
Coast Guard still searching for 2 missing Cuban rafters; another group
at sea
News of the 33 migrants in the water off Boca Inlet immediately raised
questions about whether this was the second group of Cuban migrants said
to be traveling to Miami from Mariel, a Cuban port west of Havana.

Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of Miami-based Democracy Movement, said he
was contacted by a member of the Cuban exile community Tuesday asking
for information about a boat carrying 23 Cuban migrants that left nine
days ago from Mariel.

Coast Guard officials said they did not know if the boat had left from
Mariel.

The 13 Cubans who attempted to reach Miami Monday departed more than 10
days ago from Cojimar in Cuba.

Five of those Cubans were held aboard a Coast Guard cutter and likely
will be returned to the island. The six others who reached land or were
brought ashore likely will be allowed to stay.

Under the so-called wet foot/dry foot policy, Cuban migrants interdicted
at sea are generally returned to the island while those who reach U.S.
soil get to stay.

Sánchez and relatives of some of the rafters who arrived Monday were on
two boats in Biscayne Bay conducting their own search for the two
missing Cubans. By telephone from his boat, Sánchez said they were
searching in waters where the rafters' boat broke apart Sunday near the
Turkey Point nuclear plant in South Miami-Dade.

All of the 33 migrants plucked from the water off Boca on Wednesday
never reached land. They were all being held on a Coast Guard vessel
Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

A Coast Guard statement said the 33 migrants "jumped in the water from
their grossly overloaded vessel 7 miles east of Boca Inlet."

The migrants in the water were initially spotted by the crew of a Coast
Guard C-130 searching for the two missing Cubans from Monday's arrival.

The Coast Guard dispatched the cutters Shrike and Robert Yered as well
as search and rescue boats from bases in Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth
Inlet.

Source: 33 Cuban migrants rescued off Boca Raton | The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article3438485.html

An Unfamiliar Cuba in the “Era of Changes”

An Unfamiliar Cuba in the "Era of Changes" / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya
Posted on October 28, 2014

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, New York, 19 October 2014 — If it weren't
because the mediations are in English, because of the discipline in the
adhering to the schedules, because of the coordination and care of each
detail and because the quality of the service, it could be said that the
conference covering "Cuba in an Era of Change", in which I am taking
part as an invitee, could be taking place at an official Cuban venue.

However, it is all taking place at the Columbia School of Journalism,
New York, though, on occasion, the debate and its members seem to be
following a script designed to please even the most demanding Castro
delegate, not because of its focus on issues of the lifting of the
embargo–not just in the news coverage in a changing Cuba where,
nevertheless, we continue to endure a shocking lack of freedom–but in
the combined half-truths and warped fantasies that aim to lay the
foundations of the futility of American policy towards the Cuban government.

There is no doubt about the need to implement new policies to clear the
current impasse in US-Cuba relations, but it is incorrect to regard as
null the effect of the embargo on the Cuban government, the same way
that "it's an excuse that allows Castro to stifle dissent" is a thesis
that constitutes a candid remark, to put it delicately.

If indeed the embargo is harmless, how do we explain the repeated
complaints of the ruling caste, qualifying it as "criminal policy",
especially after the fall of the so-called European real socialism, when
the huge subsidies that allowed the implementation of social programs
ended, yet still nurture the "Castro" legend in almost every forum?

As long as the image of "the kind dictatorship" prevails, the one that
universalized health and education "for the people" (…) Cubans will,
unfortunately, continue to be fucked.

But life for Cubans will not improve by reinforcing old myths. So long
as the image of "the kind dictatorship", the one that universalized
health and education "for the people", forgetting that the price paid
was our freedom; while that strange fascination about Fidel Castro, the
maker of the longest dictatorship in the western hemisphere, continues
to exist; while we continue to fall into the vice of alluding about
those who are considered adversaries without allowing them participation
in the debate, or just while some lobbyists, perhaps too sensitive,
leave the room when someone–with the moral authority conferred by being
Cuban and living in Cuba–dares to reveal truths that they don't want to
hear; while the voices of those who are really suffering the ebbs and
tides of the policies are absent, it will not matter whether there is an
embargo or not. Cubans will, unfortunately, continue to be fucked.

These past few days I have been attending, perplexed, the debates of
many speakers who think they know, perhaps with the best motivation in
the world, what the Cuban reality is and what is best for us. I've heard
the old version of Cuban History where Fidel Castro is heir to the Martí
philosophy, and successor to the struggle for independence. I have heard
many compliments about the fabulous achievements of the Cuban system in
matters of ecology, social services and even in economics. I have
discovered the Cuba which those who move public opinion in this country
want to show.

The notable absentees are still the Cubans, not just the ones from
Miami, who they generically include in a big sack in these parts, as if
they were mere numbers to swell statistics and fill out surveys, who
they consider equal to Haitians, who flee their country for purely
economic reasons, but also the thousands who continue to emigrate by any
means in an ever-growing and constant way, and the millions condemned to
drag a life of poverty and hopelessness in our Island. But the most
eloquent vacuum, except for my exceptional presence here, is that of the
journalists and independent bloggers that do cover the day-to-day from
the depth of the Island. Once again, the foreigners' sugar-coated view
has prevailed.

Privilege of the powerful, the media and politicians, for whom Cuba is
only an exotic and beautiful island, long ruled by a genius-–perhaps a
tad tyrannical, but who will have to die someday–and replaced, in
dynastic order, by his brother. An island inhabited by the most cheerful
and happy people in the world.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: An Unfamiliar Cuba in the "Era of Changes" / 14ymedio, Miriam
Celaya | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/an-unfamiliar-cuba-in-the-era-of-changes-14ymedio-miriam-celaya/

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cuban migrant recounts nightmare voyage on raft

Cuban migrant recounts nightmare voyage on raft
Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 4:14 pm | Updated: 8:00 pm, Tue Oct
28, 2014.
Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — For eight days, they had no food or water.
Joel Moreno and the 12 other men with whom he'd fled Cuba were so close
to the U.S. at one point they could see the lights off the coast of
Florida. Then a strong wave overturned their raft, throwing all their
supplies into the ocean.

They drank sea water and vomited. They told stories. They thought about
their children.
After a week, Moreno, 39, decided they had no option left but to try and
swim to shore. He broke apart what was left of the raft, giving each man
a piece to cling to, and they separated into the night.
"We'd each have to try and save our own life," he said.
By Monday evening, 11 had been found by rescuers or made it to land. The
Coast Guard continued searching Tuesday for two rafters who remain
missing. Moreno, who swam two miles and reached Elliott Key in Miami's
Biscayne Bay, recounted their journey. His skin was deeply tanned and
wrinkled from days under the sun, giving the appearance of a man twice
his age.
At the Church World Service offices, where Cuban migrants are connected
with social services, he shivered in an air conditioned room.
"I'm still cold," he said.
Moreno said the men left from Cojimar, on the island's northern central
coast, where he worked as a fisherman. The others, mostly in their 20s
and 30s, worked as truck drivers and mechanics in surrounding towns.
They spent three days building the raft from inner tubes, foam and tarp.
After adding a 90 horsepower boat motor, they departed on Sunday, Oct.
19 at about 3 a.m.
Within six hours, Moreno said they could see ships and lights from
buildings in Key West. Then the motor ran out of gas. The men began
paddling toward land, but a cold front moved in and pushed them further
back to sea.
On the second day, their vessel capsized. They all managed to climb back
aboard, but were left with no food or fresh water to sustain them.
Moreno said he thought about his daughters, ages 7 and 1, in those long
days drifting in the ocean.
"Two beauties," he said, his eyes wet with tears.
Soon, the men began to feel the effects of dehydration: One suddenly got
up and started walking, as though he was hallucinating and about to
leave. They grew sick from ingesting so much sea water.
On the sixth day, a cargo ship hit their craft and continued on, Moreno
said. None of the men were hurt, but their vessel was damaged. By Sunday
evening, he said they could no longer endure without food or water.
"I'm going," he announced. "What are you all going to do?"
He began taking the raft apart and each man grabbed a buoyant piece.
About 12 hours later, Moreno had swum two miles and reached land.
Another man also made it to shore. Five more were rescued in the water
by two pleasure craft. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue plucked three more from
the water.
An eleventh man was found around sunset Monday by a boater.
In a poignant twist, not all of them may be allowed to remain in the
U.S., despite their ordeal.
Under the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, Cuban migrants who reach U.S.
shores are generally allowed to stay, while those who are found at sea
are returned.
The rescue comes amid a significant rise in the number of Cubans
attempting to reach the U.S. by sea. At least 3,722 were intercepted in
the water or made it to shore in the last fiscal year, a 75 percent
increase.
Moreno said he had tried to leave Cuba in a raft five times before. Each
time he was caught. He said he wants to work and better provide for his
family, and also be with his father, who left in 1980. He had not seen
him since.
On Tuesday, Luis Felipe Moreno, 60, received a call from his relatives
in Cuba: His son was in Miami.
He rushed over to the Church World Service and buried himself in his
son's thin arms.
___
Follow Christine Armario on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/cearmario

Source: Cuban migrant recounts nightmare voyage on raft - Beloit Daily
News: National News -
http://www.beloitdailynews.com/news/national/cuban-migrant-recounts-nightmare-voyage-on-raft/article_dff5f6f2-8bfd-5da6-8df2-243a95cf7147.html

The Country of the “No”

Cuba: The Country of the "No"
October 28, 2014
Vicente Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — I invite you to take trip with me to the Kingdom of the
No. An attentive gaze, some notes and several photos are enough to
confirm the persistent obstacles that people run into when dealing with
service providers supposedly created to make their lives easier. The
first thing that strikes the eye are the chronic shortages experienced
in the Cuban capital, a fact that the official press avoids while
government authorities try to conceal or at least downplay it.

In the morning, we were at Cuatro Caminos, an area at the intersection
of several municipalities with a high population density, where mostly
low-income people live (Centro Habana, Old Havana, Cerro, Diez de
Octubre). The pictures speak for themselves.

To the right and behind the clerk, an empty shelf awaits cigarrette
packs, while the employee has nothing to do. There are simply no
products to sell!

To see whether this is an exception, we head up the street from the
intersection of Belascoain and Monte, until we reach Matadero. There,
other clerks desirous of selling something (and avoid the boredom of the
previous clerk) await us.

They were selling buns with something inside (omelets, in fact, which
the furtive photo does not clearly show). On the counter, there was only
a small calculator and a bottle of rum, which looks more like decoration
than something on sale.

A sign at the back reads "Happy New Year". It's unclear whether it
refers to the next, the current or previous year. It may be announcing
the promised joy of a prosperous and sustainable form of socialism. The
sign has been hung on the wall for who knows how long.

Managing poverty, however, is an art that Cuba's governing bureaucracy
has mastered. The next day offers us a different picture, as "one or two
cigarette cartons come in from time to time", I hear a waiter say,
warning his friends: "they don't last long. People are very anxious and
buy things en masse."

A slightly different scenario awaits us the following day:

At least there are cigarettes and the clerk has something to do. It is
well worth recalling that, according to statistics that one can see on
any bulletin board posted at a food industry locale in Havana, the sale
of cigarettes, cigars and alcoholic beverages account for nearly 90
percent of an establishment's sales plan.

Incidentally, the chain of State stores for the poor are completely out
of cigars, as these are hoarded immediately, bought in 25-unit packages
(1 peso per cigar), to be re-sold at around twice the price set by the
State monopoly.

It's time for a rest. We arrived at one of the few Cuban peso
restaurants with air conditioning in the area. The table beyond the
counter should offer us a variety of products, but there isn't much to
be done here either, save look at ourselves in the mirror above the
counter, after musing on "life's many blows", as the poet said.

Roque Dalton, the revolutionary Salvadoran poet, never lived long enough
to see a country experience a decades-long rule by the communists. I can
just picture how shaken up he would be, and the other magnificent poem
he would write, if he were to visit Cuba from El Salvador and stand next
to the post office located on Belascoain and Carlos III.

Outside, we read about the modern communications systems inside: email,
fax, DHL (leading courier in the world), photocopies, etc.

I don't think the woman in the picture believes the pretty ad. Perhaps
she is waiting for her turn, to collect a wire or something along those
lines, always within that limited time of the day, because the place
isn't open 24 hours – it closes in the early afternoon, without even
guaranteeing the delivery of urgent telegrams.

The worst "no" is still to come. Sometimes, even though the products or
services are available, you can run into surprising obstacles.

You see the sign in most public offices around the country: "Closed for
Fumigation," a procedure aimed at combating the spread of several
contagious diseases typical of the tropics and which gets in the way of
regular working hours. In this particular case, it'll be three and a
half hours less work for the pleased employees.

These obstacles have no recognizable pattern. They arise without a
previous plan. There may have been a previous announcement, but
customers are not sight-seers and often find out at the entrance to the
establishment.

The "no" has been with us for nearly 50 years. We run into it
constantly, at intervals. We are so well trained in the art of survival
that we manage to regain our strength between crises, such that, though
we are unable to properly diagnose the disease, we are ultimately able
to live with it. We feel we face a chronic condition we cannot overcome.

Returning to the poets and recalling the singer-songwriter who was a
friend of Dalton's, Silvio Rodriguez, someone who seems to be a little
taken aback by reality today, I say: "what a way of knowing that this is
the same old story."
—–
vicentemorin@yahoo.com

Source: Cuba: The Country of the "No" - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106951

On the “Physical Disappearance” of Cuba’s Historical Figures

On the "Physical Disappearance" of Cuba's Historical Figures
October 28, 2014
Dmitri Prieto

HAVANA TIMES — Ernesto "Che" Guevara was taken prisoner and assassinated
on October 9, 1967 under orders from the CIA.

We know this thanks to testimonies offered by the person who executed him.

Every 8th of October, however, Cuba continues to commemorate Che
Guevara's "fall in combat" and even his "physical disappearance."

Those phrases were also used in the course of this year.

Why falsify the historical record?

Today October 28th marks 55 years since the disappearance – here the
term is apt – of Camilo Cienfuegos.

Less renowned than Che outside of Cuba, Camilo Cienfuegos – the
"broad-smiling comandante", as he was known back in his time – embodied
people's feelings towards youth, work and charisma.

Many urban legends about his disappearance have existed. The official
version of events is that the Cessna plane he was travelling on fell
into the ocean, never to be found.

A friend told me that, even at the close of the 60s, there were those
who maintained Camilo was living incognito in Havana.

Today, 55 years since his disappearance, it would be worthwhile to pay
closer attention to Camilo Cienfuegos' political ideas. We don't much
see him on television, and I don't recall ever having been shown any of
his speeches, and he did deliver a number of these.

The year 1959 continues to embody a number of mysteries for those of us
who live in Cuba.

What really pisses me off is that phrase, "physical disappearance."

Used as a euphemism for the word "death", it is a cold and false expression.

It is not even adequate as a euphemism: death is biological, not
physical, even if we agree that life continues in some form of
patriotically spiritual dimension.

It would be good to replace "disappearance" with a more accurate expression.

I hope our memory of recent history becomes less cold and increasingly
more exact.

Source: On the "Physical Disappearance" of Cuba's Historical Figures -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106953

Cuba's Roofs, Small Spaces of Freedom

Cuba's Roofs, Small Spaces of Freedom
Posted: 10/28/2014 9:39 pm EDT Updated: 10/28/2014 9:59 pm EDT

14ymedio, YOANI SANCHEZ, Havana, 28 October 2014 - Some cities have a
subterranean life. Metros, tunnels, basements... the human victory of
winning inches from the stone. Havana no, Havana is a surface city, with
very little underground. However, on the roofs of the houses, on the
most unthinkable rooftops, little houses have been erected, baths, pig
pens and pigeon coops. As if above the ceilings everything were
possible, unreachable.

Ignacio has an illegal satellite dish on a neighbor's roof, it is hidden
under grape vines that gives undersized sour grapes. A few yards away
someone has built a cage for fighting dogs, which seek out the shade
during the day, thirsty and bored. On the other side of the street
several members of one family broke down the wall that connects to the
roof of an old state workshop. They've built a terrace and a toilet on
the abandoned place. At nightfall they play dominos, while the breezes
of the Malecon wash over them.

Carmita keeps all her treasure on top of her house. Some enormous wooden
beams with which she wants to shore up her quarters before they fall in.
Every week she climbs up to see if the rain and the heat have swollen
the wood and cracked the pillars. Her grandson uses the roof for trysts,
when night falls and the eyes barely distinguish shadows, although the
ears detect the moans.

Everyone lives a part of their existence up there, in the Havana that
wants to stretch to the sky but can barely manage to rise a few inches.

Source: Cuba's Roofs, Small Spaces of Freedom | Yoani Sanchez -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/cubas-roofs-small-spaces_b_6065154.html

Family of Man Executed in Cuba Denied Access to Funds

Family of Man Executed in Cuba Denied Access to Funds
Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal
October 29, 2014

The family of a man summarily executed by the Castro regime in 1960
cannot access electronic funds frozen in banks under U.S. government
sanctions against Cuba, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the family of the
late Robert Fuller cannot attach funds blocked under the Cuban Assets
Control Regulations, pursuant to §201 of the Terrorism Risk Insurance
Act of 2002, to satisfy a default judgment against Cuba.
The circuit, applying new case law stating that only funds directly
deposited into banks by a state sponsor of terrorism can be attached,
found insufficient the link between Cuba and the funds the family wants
to access to satisfy a $400 million default judgment they won in Florida.
The circuit reversed Judge Victor Marrero (See Profile) in Hausler v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, 12-1264, the latest in a series of cases limiting
the ability of attorneys to seize blocked funds from sponsors of
terrorism to collect on judgments.
The decision came Friday, one day after the circuit agreed in
Calderon-Cardona v. The Bank of New York Mellon, 12-075, that North
Korea's removal from the list of countries considered state sponsors of
terrorism meant plaintiffs could not attach some $378 million in
electronic fund transfers (EFTs) that were blocked under the U.S.
sanctions regime against North Korea (NYLJ, Oct. 27).
In Calderon-Cardona, Judges Peter Hall (See Profile), Gerard Lynch (See
Profile) and Susan Carney (See Profile) also dealt with circuit case law
on the attachment of "mid-stream" EFTs, stating that an EFT blocked in
midstream is the property of a foreign state subject to attachment "only
where the state itself or an agency or instrumentality thereof …
transmitted the EFT directly to the bank where the EFT is held pursuant
to the block."
Part of Calderon-Cardona was then remanded to a lower court to determine
if, in fact, North Korea had directly sent any of the EFTs to defendant
banks.
Hausler, a case that was argued with Calderon-Cardona on Feb. 11, 2013,
did not present the same factual set up to Judges Hall, Lynch and Carney.
Robert "Bobby" Fuller was an ex-U.S. Marine who owned a sugar plantation
in Cuba. In October 1960, in a period of less than 24 hours, he was
arrested by the Castro regime, accused of disloyalty and executed by
firing squad.
The Hausler-Fuller family brought suit against Cuba and other defendants
under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §1602 and won a
default judgment in state court in Miami-Dade County, Florida for a
combined $400 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Garnishment actions in Florida were ultimately transferred to the
Southern District, where garnishee banks and other adverse claimants
argued the blocked EFTs are not attachable assets of Cuba under the
Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and Marrero ruled against the banks.
The TRIA was an effort by Congress to allow victims of terrorism to
recover monies otherwise blocked. But in arguing for amicus curiae the
United States in both Hausler and Calderon-Cardona, Assistant U.S.
Attorney David Jones said the TRIA only permits attachments of blocked
assets in which a terrorist party has an ownership interest, that the
language in TRIA is far less expansive than the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations and that such an ownership interest could not be shown.
In Calderon-Cardona, the plaintiffs were seeking to attach blocked funds
to satisfy a judgment based on North Korea's provision of weapons to the
Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
weapons used in an attack a Israel's Lod Airport in 1972.
The TRIA is read in tandem with the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act,
which carves out terrorism-related exceptions to sovereign
immunity—including allowing for the attachment of the property of
"terrorist parties" under the TRIA.
In a per curium opinion in Hausler, Hall, Lynch and Carney said that,
like Calderon-Cardona, the court has to interpret New York State law to
determine the status of EFTs blocked midstream—an issue that has
generated a lot of case law in the last five years—in the context of the
Cuban Assets Control Regulations.
In Shipping Court of India Ltd. v. Jaldhi Overseas PTE, 585 F.3d 58, the
circuit stopped a flood of maritime attachments in the Southern District
when it held that EFTs of which the defendant is a beneficiary cannot be
attached (NYLJ, Oct. 19, 2009).
Then, in Export-Import Bank of the United States v. Asia Pulp & Paper
Co., 09-2254-cv, the circuit held that midstream transfers passing
through intermediary banks cannot be garnished (NYLJ, June 28, 2010).
Finally, in Calderon-Cardona, the court quoted Jaldhi and said "the only
entity with a property interest in the stopped EFT is the entity that
passed the EFT on to the bank where it presently rests."
And because in Hausler it was "undisputed that no Cuban entity
transmitted any of the blocked EFTs directly to the blocking bank," Cuba
and its agents and instrumentalities have no property interest in the
blocked funds that can be attached by the plaintiffs.
David Baron, James Perkins, Robert Charrow and Laura Klaus of Greenberg
Traurig represent the Hausler-Fuller family.
James Kerr of Davis Polk & Wardwell and Kenneth Caruso of White & Case
argued for the banks at the Second Circuit. The lawyers declined comment
on behalf of their clients.

Source: Family of Man Executed in Cuba Denied Access to Funds | New York
Law Journal -
http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/home/id=1202674861201/Family-of-Man-Executed-in-Cuba-Denied-Access-to-Funds?mcode=1202617075062&curindex=1&slreturn=20140929122831

Cuba to Women -Please Have More Babies

Cuba to Women: Please Have More Babies

The Cuban government is encouraging women to have babies and turn around
its falling birth rate, which is now the lowest in Latin America.

Authorities announced this week they will soon be unveiling financial
incentives for couples who are thinking of starting a family. The
government has already expanded maternity, and in some cases paternity
leave, to a full year with pay. In addition, Cuba has opened dozens of
special centers for infertile couples and special maternity units where
women can live full time during high-risk pregnancies.

"We've been evaluating this low birth rate for years," said Roberto
Alvarez Fumero, chief of the maternity and child health unit at Cuba's
Ministry of Health. "Now we're taking action to improve sexual and
reproductive health, which can help drive up the country's birth rate."

The average Cuban woman had nearly five children in the 1960s but the
birth rate has fallen to less than two children since the late 1970s.
Due to decades of fewer births, the number of working-age people in Cuba
is expected to shrink starting next year, which is bad news for an
island trying to improve its economy.

In socialist Cuba, the decades-long falling birthrate is attributed to
several things, including more women in the workforce, wider access to
contraception and abortion, a tough economy, housing shortages and high
levels of emigration among young people.

Source: Cuba to Women: Please Have More Babies - NBC News.com -
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/cuba-women-please-have-more-babies-n236406

Medical mission against Ebola brings pride and fear to Cuba

October 29, 2014 2:24 pm

Medical mission against Ebola brings pride and fear to Cuba
Marc Frank in Havana

Ebola provokes panic in most countries and Cuba, it seems, is little
different – despite Havana's widely-applauded move to fight the disease
by dispatching doctors to Africa, an initiative-cum-public relations
coup that may help ease the US embargo against the island.
The decision by Raúl Castro, the president, has already put 256 Cuban
medical personnel in west Africa, where they will work on six-month
tours compared with the six weeks of many other foreign health providers.
Another 200 personnel are waiting on assignment, and the initiative has
won top billing in the state-controlled press, with broadcast footage of
Mr Castro hugging every doctor and nurse before they board aircraft that
will take them to the gruelling and dangerous task.
"I am convinced that if this threat is not stopped in west Africa with
an immediate international response . . . it could become one of the
gravest pandemics in human history," Mr Castro said at a recent Ebola
summit in Havana.
The move – which has earned Havana lavish praise from Margaret Chan,
head of the World Health Organisation, and been welcomed by John Kerry,
US secretary of state – has given the government a rare glow of
favourable international publicity and helped divert Cubans' attention
from the island's sputtering economy.
"Are we proud? Are our doctors and nurses courageous? Of course, they
are heroes," says Maria Cordoba, who runs a cafeteria in the sun-baked
village of Pijirigua in western Artemesia province.
"Here we take care of them all, reduce our prices and even let them pay
later," says Maria. "Children are precious, not just in Cuba, but
everywhere."
But then fear enters her voice. "Dengue [now endemic in Cuba] is bad
enough, imagine if Ebola gets here," she adds, as a group of school
children, in their red and white uniforms, line up for after school
snacks in front of her shop's counter.
Cuba's long tradition of sending medical personnel abroad – it currently
has 50,000 health providers in more than 60 countries – has won the
island praise from those who see it as driven by idealism. But it has
also drawn criticism from those who see it as a tacit form of indentured
labour for medics who have little choice but to go – although they can
earn bigger salaries abroad and perks when they return home.
There are an estimated 10,000 Cuban medics working in Venezuela, for
example, partly in return for the 100,000 barrels per day of subsidised
oil that Caracas sends to Havana. But worsening conditions in Venezuela
has seen increasing numbers of Cuban doctors seek exile in the US.
"There is nothing forced about this [Ebola programme]. The people going
have already volunteered to be part of a group in every province that
are trained for and ready to assist wherever there is a disaster,"
Anaida Himenez, a nursing professor, said in a telephone interview from
Camagüey, a town 300 miles east of Havana.
Interactive

Tracking the Ebola outbreak

Track the outbreak's spread since the World Health Organisation first
issued a global alert in March 2014
"You have to understand we have a medical system where no doctor or
nurse denies care to anyone, anywhere. Although there are always
exceptions and there is no reason our people over there shouldn't be paid."
Cubans are also perhaps the safest residents in the region. The
country's free and prevention-oriented healthcare system ensures any
case that appears will be quickly spotted and all contacts traced.
Medical personnel will be treated in Africa if they contract Ebola and
anyone travelling from the centre of the epidemic is quarantined for 21
days. The government is also sending experts to other countries, from
Jamaica to Central America, to advise on preparations to ward off the
Ebola threat.
Whether planned, idealistic or undertaken for other motives, Cuba's huge
and rapid response to the Ebola crisis has been a boon for state media.
It has been a welcome diversion from the island's struggling economy
where food prices are rising more than 10 per cent a year and growth has
slowed to less than 1 per cent. Market-oriented reforms begun under Mr
Castro have been slow and have failed to meet expectations fostered by
the Communist party's pledge to develop a "prosperous and sustainable
socialism".
Cuba's Ebola initiative may also prove to be a foreign relations coup,
as it comes at a time when the US is under increasing pressure to ease
its half century embargo against Cuba.
Mr Castro has offered to work alongside its old foe in west Africa, as
happened after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Meanwhile, the US has
welcomed Cuba's offer, with Mr Kerry highlighting the size of Cuba's
contribution in relation to its population. Still, collaboration did not
lead to improved relations after Haiti.

Source: Medical mission against Ebola brings pride and fear to Cuba -
FT.com -
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4ace7caa-5ed0-11e4-be0b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3HYHg6Uw9

Coast Guard still searching for 2 missing Cuban rafters; another group at sea

Coast Guard still searching for 2 missing Cuban rafters; another group
at sea
BY ALFONOSO CHARDY ACHARDY@MIAMIHERALD.COM
10/28/2014 1:20 PM 10/28/2014 4:50 PM

The Coast Guard continued its search Tuesday for two missing Cuban
rafters, part of a group of 13 men that left days ago from Cojimar, on
Cuba's northern coast about 340 miles east of Havana.

On Tuesday, activist Ramón Saúl Sánchez, head of the Democracy Movement,
said a man who identified himself as the father of one of the 13 was
desperately trying to find his son at area hospitals and with the Coast
Guard.

Sánchez said there was also a second boat that has not yet arrived or
been heard from carrying 23 Cuban rafters — 22 men and a woman — who
departed from the port of Mariel about eight days ago. The Coast Guard
said it has not heard reports of another group of Cuban rafters.

The latest incidents are part of a growing number of Cuban rafters who
have arrived on South Florida shores or have been interdicted in waters
of the Florida Straits in the last 12 months.

Five suspected Cuban migrants picked up off Hollywood Beach
According to the Coast Guard, 2,059 Cubans were intercepted at sea in
the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, or 702 more than the fiscal year
before. About 814 Cubans reached shore during the same time period, an
increase from 359 who made it to the United States the previous year.

The majority of Cuban migrants who arrive in the United States without a
visa cross the border from Mexico. So far this year, 16,247 Cubans have
arrived via the border, according to figures released recently by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection.

The latest incident unfolded Monday around 10 a.m. Monday when the
captain of a private boat called the Coast Guard to report people in the
water desperately clinging to remnants of what seemed like a raft or
makeshift boat.

Ultimately, three Cuban migrants were plucked from the waters by rescue
helicopters dispatched by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. They were taken to
area hospitals for medical treatment. Five other migrants were rescued
by the Coast Guard and taken to a Coast Guard cutter offshore. Two other
rafters swam safely to shore at Elliot Key, near Key Biscayne. That left
three rafters unaccounted for.

Late Monday, a good Samaritan located a person in the water near Fowey
Rocks Light. The person in the water was rescued and transferred to a
Coast Guard crew. They brought the man ashore for medical treatment.

On Tuesday, Sánchez told el Nuevo Herald that he had been in contact
with Lázaro Allegue in Miami who said his son Adríán was one of the 13
rafters in the makeshift boat that broke apart Sunday night in Biscayne
Bay near the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in South Miami-Dade.

Sánchez said Lázaro Allegue did not know whether his son was among the
two missing, those taken to area hospitals for medical treatment, those
held aboard a Coast Guard cutter or those processed by the Border Patrol
after they reached land.

Under a system currently in place, the Coast Guard provides information
on Cuban rafters to the offices of Cuban-American federal lawmakers.

But Sánchez said that system has resulted in rolls of red tape. He
called Tuesday for the Coast Guard to overhaul the system and allow
relatives of rafters to inquire directly by faxing a picture of their
loved to the agency to check if a loved one was in custody.

Under the wet-foot/dry-foot policy now in effect, Cuban migrants who are
interdicted at sea are generally returned to the island — although some
are taken to the U.S. Navy base in Guantánmo if they have a fear of
persecution if returned. Cuban migrants who reach shore are allowed to stay.

Separately, Sánchez said another member of the Cuban exile community had
called him Tuesday to inquire about a second Cuban migrant boat carrying
22 men and one woman. Sánchez said the boat had left eight days ago from
Mariel, a Cuban seaport west of Havana, from where more than 125,000
Cuban refugees left for the United States in 1980.

"The people are worried because they have not heard from these
migrants," Sánchez said.

Source: Coast Guard still searching for 2 missing Cuban rafters; another
group at sea | The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article3417219.html

Another exodus of Cubans in the making

Fabiola Santiago: Another exodus of Cubans in the making
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO FSANTIAGO@MIAMIHERALD.COM
10/28/2014 7:26 PM 10/28/2014 8:51 PM

Only someone with a heart of stone would be unmoved by the images we've
seen this week of young Cuban men clinging to pieces of debris in the
high seas off South Florida.

Thirteen men adrift after their rickety homemade vessel split apart were
spotted Monday morning four miles off the Turkey Point power plant.

Thanks to the hustle of the U.S. Coast Guard, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, a
host of other government agencies — and ordinary boaters who rushed to
help — nine were plucked from the seas and saved.

Two swam ashore to Elliot Key. Two were still missing as of Tuesday evening.

Such is the luck of the draw when desperate people risk their most
priceless possession, their lives, to leave a country. They take the
all-or-nothing gamble to chase a dream: new lives among us.

Whether the latest Cubans to arrive get to stay or not will depend on
the 1996 Clinton Administration "wet-foot dry-foot" policy — those who
reach land end up on the path to residency, those who don't are
repatriated via Coast Guard cutter.

Such is the luck of the draw of U.S-Cuba policy — another high-stakes
gamble for those making the risky 90-mile voyage across the Florida Straits.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because the continuous trickle of
Cubans washing ashore has all the markings of another exodus by sea in
the making. If you've covered the topic of Cuban immigration as long as
I have — since 1980 — none of this comes as a surprise.

Any time Cuba has sought a policy change from the U.S., the exodus card
comes into play, at first a subtle looking-the-other-way as those
leaving begin to trickle into South Florida and the count turns into
what the New York Times aptly called "a rising tide."

Unexpected, however, this is not. Cubans know that such windows of
flight are priceless, and they have historically acted on them.

By now Cubans on the island have confirmed that the promise of reforms
is another pantalla — theater for foreign consumption — to prolong the
life of the same clan in power. They've been visited by the returning,
successful balseros who fled 20 years ago. And although the balseros did
suffer losses at sea and were detained at Guantánamo camps for months, I
have yet to interview one who hasn't told me he or she would risk it all
again to gain the life they have now.

What could possibly keep a young man on the island, after hearing the
triumphant stories of returning relatives, from seeking that same life?

The dangerous voyage on unsafe vessels is not the only route Cubans
continue to take — with the hope of reaching land, dry foot — to the
tune of 25,000 during the year that ended Sept. 30, according to the Times.

A startling statistic, but there's another one more telling reported by
El Nuevo Herald: In recent months, more than 3,700 have been intercepted
at sea or made it to shore —– a 75 percent increase from that same
period last year.

The numbers quantify the flight. But who can forget the image of a
helicopter hovering over a young man clinging to a piece of debris
seconds away from life or death before our eyes?

Source: Fabiola Santiago: Another exodus of Cubans in the making | The
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article3424679.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Most Fruitful and Difficult Experience Has Been Jail

"My Most Fruitful and Difficult Experience Has Been Jail" / 14ymedio,
Lilianne Ruiz, Antunez
Posted on October 27, 2014

14ymedio, LILIANNE RUIZ, Havana, October 25, 2014 — On leaving prison,
it took Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as Antunez, some time to digest
that he could go where he wanted without being watched. They had held
him captive for 17 years and 37 days of his life.

Just as he learned to do in jail, today he devotes his efforts to civic
resistance, inspired by the doctrine of Gene Sharp and Martin Luther
King. His movement gathers dozens of activists who carry out street
protests and civic meetings in several provinces of the country and in
his native Placetas.

Lilianne: Let's talk about before going to prison, adolescent Antunez.
What did you want to be?

Antunez: In adolescence, a firefighter. I liked the idea of rescuing
people, putting out fires. But before going to prison I wanted to become
a lawyer. I believe that was my calling.

Lilianne: Jail is a survival experience. Do you think it hardened you?

Antunez: The most fruitful and difficult experience, as paradoxical as
it may seem, has been jail. I never could imagine that jail was going to
be a hard as it was, nor that I was going to be a witness to and a
victim of the vile abuses that I experienced. I do not know how to
answer you if it hardened me or not. When I entered prison I had a much
more radical ideology, it was less democratic. But jail, thanks to God
and to a group of people whom I met, helped me to become more tolerant,
more inclusive, and to respect various opinions.

As a prisoner, I went to the most severe regime in Cuba. The gloomy
prison of Kilo 8 in Camaguey, commonly known as "I lost the key," where
the most sinister repressors are found. Torture forms part of the
repressive mentality of the jailers in a constant and daily way. It was
there where a group of us political prisoners came together and founded
the Pedro Luis Boitel Political Prisoner's Association, in order to
confront repression in a civic way. Thus, I tell you that prison did not
harden me, because if it had, I would have emerged with resentment,
hatred, feelings of vengeance, and it was not so.

Lilianne: What is your favorite music?

Antunez: I like romantic music, Maricela, Marco Antonio Solis, Juan
Gabriel. But I also enjoy jazz, although I am no expert. The music to
which I always sleep is instrumental.

Lilianne: Will you share with us your personal projects?

Antunez: There is a saying according to which a man, before he dies,
should plant a tree, write a book and have a child. Fortunately, there
is already a book, titled Boitel Lives; CADAL published it in 2005. I
have planted many trees, because I am a country peasant. I only need to
have a son with the woman I love, Iris Tamara Perez Aguilera, so here I
am now telling you one of my goals I am aiming for.

Lilianne: You know that a growing number of dissidents and activists
have identified four consensus points. What do you think?

Antunez: I believe that they are standing demands that concern all
members of the opposition and all Cubans wherever they are. I wish that
more fellow countrymen would adhere to these four points. I believe that
they represent the sentiment of all good Cubans: to free political
prisoners, for the Cuban government to ratify the human rights
agreements, recognize the legitimacy of the opposition and stop
repression. Everything that is done for change, to free us from the
communist dictatorship that oppresses us, is positive.

Lilianne: Why does Antunez not leave Placetas?

Antunez: Not everyone wants to go to Havana. I know many people who keep
their rootedness. I would say that, more than roots, it is a spiritual
necessity. I leave Placetas three or four days and I begin to feel bad.
And that sensation that I have when I come up the heights, coming from
Santa Clara… that is something inexplicable. The motto that I repeat, "I
won't shut up, and I'm not leaving Cuba," means also: "I won't shut up
and I'm not leaving Placetas."

Translated by MLK

Source: "My Most Fruitful and Difficult Experience Has Been Jail" /
14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz, Antunez | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/my-most-fruitful-and-difficult-experience-has-been-jail-14ymedio-lilianne-ruiz-antunez/

Tampa donations build Cuba church

Tampa donations build Cuba church
Times wires
Monday, October 27, 2014 9:17pm

Cuba has allowed construction of the country's first new Catholic church
in 55 years, the church said Monday. Experts said it's a sign of
improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba's communist government.
The church, funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, will be built
in Sandino, a citrus and coffee-growing town in the far-western province
of Pinar del Rio. The church publication Christian Life said it will
have space for 200 people. "The construction of a church is a clear
demonstration of a new phase, of an improvement, in relations between
the church and the state," said Enrique Lopez Oliva, a professor the
history of religions at the University of Havana.

A delivery mission to the International Space Station was called off
Monday after a sailboat got too close. Orbital Sciences Corp. got to
within the 10-minute mark for the launch of its unmanned Cygnus capsule
from Wallops Island, Va. But a sailboat ended up in the restricted
danger zone, and controllers halted the countdown. The company will try
again this evening. The capsule holds 5,000 pounds of cargo for NASA.

South African state prosecutors said Monday that they planned to appeal
the conviction and sentence handed down to track star Oscar Pistorius
after a seven-month trial that ended last week in ferocious debate over
the magnitude of his punishment. In a post on Twitter, Nathi Mncube, a
spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, said the organization
"will be appealing both the conviction and sentence." Pistorius, 27, was
sentenced to a five-year prison term for culpable homicide, equivalent
to manslaughter, in the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29,
on Feb. 14, 2013. Under the terms of the sentence, he may be released
into house arrest after 10 months.

A portion of a Columbian mammoth skull and tusks have been uncovered in
southeastern Idaho, and experts say a rare entire skeleton might be
buried there. Experts estimate the mammoth was about 16 years old and
lived 70,000 to 120,000 years ago in what was a savanna-like country
populated with large plant-eaters and predators.

Source: Tampa donations build Cuba church | Tampa Bay Times -
http://www.tampabay.com/news/world/tampa-donations-build-cuba-church/2203992

Obama Could Lift Sanctions Against Cuba After Next Week's Election, Says Congressman

Obama Could Lift Sanctions Against Cuba After Next Week's Election, Says
Congressman
By Michael E. Miller Mon., Oct. 27 2014 at 9:00 AM

The Cuban expression "mañana, mañana." is often interpreted by Anglos as
an excuse for laziness. In fact, the saying speaks volumes about its
island of origin. In a country that has been led by one Castro or
another for more than half a century, what hope can there be that
tomorrow will be any different from today?
Earlier this month, that question brought several dozen experts,
academics, and journalists to Columbia Journalism School in Manhattan.
Optimism was evident in the conference's title -- Covering Cuba in an
Era of Change -- as well as in the presentations, which included strong
hints that the embargo's days are numbered.

Gregory Craig, former White House counsel under Barack Obama, said the
president already has the legal power to lift most of the sanctions that
have crippled Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although Congress
probably would refuse to officially overturn the embargo, Obama could --
and should -- instantly normalize diplomatic relations and allow
Americans to travel to the island, Craig said.

Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern outlined a six-month window in
which Obama is most likely to make a move, beginning after next week's
midterm elections and concluding with the Summit of the Americas in late
April.

If Obama and Raúl Castro both attend as predicted, it will be the first
official meeting between two countries' leaders since Raúl and Fidel
swept down from the Sierra Maestra.

"We are reassured [by the White House] that people are working on it,"
McGovern said of a U.S.-Cuba policy change. "The stars seem to be aligned."

Many roadblocks remain, however. McGovern warned that any rapprochement
would require dealing with both Alan Gross -- the USAID contractor
imprisoned in Cuba since 2011 for distributing satellite phones without
a permit -- and the three surviving members of the "Cuban Five," the
Castro agents who spied on Miami's exile community.

Easing the embargo would also cost Obama politically. "I think part of
the reluctance is that [the administration] will get some pushback from
people who are in pretty serious positions," McGovern said, including
Miami's hard-line Cubans.

Perhaps the most concrete evidence that things are already changing on
the island was the presence of three Cuban journalists at the
conference. Miriam Celaya, Elaine Díaz, and Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo have
all been allowed to leave under recently relaxed travel restrictions.
Celaya is scheduled to return to Havana this week, while Díaz and Pardo
are on yearlong academic fellowships.
But Celaya and Pardo hardly painted a promising picture of their
homeland. Celaya said she had been blocked from entering the library
because of her journalism. Other reporters had been beaten and
imprisoned, Pardo said. Both described having to share articles via
paquetes, or troves of documents on flash drives. And Pardo said Cuba's
infamous state security apparatus remained intact despite the growth of
internet on the island.

"Our own [Edward] Snowden would not survive, would not escape," he
warned. "Our own Snowden would be shot on the spot."

Ultimately, despite the talk of Obama ending the embargo and ushering in
change in Cuba, Pardo feared that the solution was still, as it has been
for 50 years, "biological."

Source: Obama Could Lift Sanctions Against Cuba After Next Week's
Election, Says Congressman | Miami New Times -
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2014/10/obama_could_lift_sanctions_against_cuba_after_next_weeks_election_says_cong.php

Graying Cuba approves plan to boost birth rate

Graying Cuba approves plan to boost birth rate

Havana (AFP) - Cuba is encouraging its rapidly aging population to have
more babies, state-run media reported Monday.

The daily Granma newspaper reported that President Raul Castro called
the communist island's graying population "one of the greatest
challenges facing the nation because of its impact on social, economic
and family life."

Castro's cabinet has adopted a slate of policies to boost the fertility
rate, including financial incentives, the daily reported.

The government also announced plans to increase care for the elderly,
Granma wrote.

By 2027, the number of deaths in Cuba could surpass births, and overall
population will not only get older, but also smaller, a state official
said at the meeting.

Lower birth rates and a steady stream of migrants leaving the island has
caused the population to drop 11.2 to 11.1 million in the last decade,
according to census data.

Around 45,000 Cubans have left the island every year in the last decade,
official statistics show.

Cuba currently has 2.4 million people over the age of 60, a demographic,
which, by 2045, is expected to make up more than a third of the island's
population, posing serious economic challenges.

Officials said limited access to housing, the high costs of child care
and a lack of family support services have contributed to the low
fertility rate.

Source: Graying Cuba approves plan to boost birth rate - Yahoo News -
http://news.yahoo.com/graying-cuba-approves-plan-boost-birth-rate-175641018.html

Member of Cuban Ebola Mission Dies of Malaria

Member of Cuban Ebola Mission Dies of Malaria
HAVANA — Oct 27, 2014, 2:41 PM ET

Cuba says a member of a medical team it sent to fight Ebola in West
Africa has died of malaria.

According to state newspaper Granma, Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, 60,
died in Guinea on Oct. 26 from cerebral malaria, a complication of the
parasitic infection that severely and sometimes fatally damages the brain.

The newspaper said two tests for Ebola turned up no sign of the disease.

Cuba sent 165 medical workers to Sierra Leone this month, followed by a
second group of 83 who went to Guinea and Liberia last week. Guerra, who
the newspaper said was trained as an economist, was a member of the
advance team sent to Africa before the doctors were dispatched.

Source: Member of Cuban Ebola Mission Dies of Malaria - ABC News -
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/member-cuban-ebola-mission-dies-malaria-26490389

Cuba builds first new church in 55 years

Cuba builds first new church in 55 years
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba has allowed construction of the country's first new
Catholic church in 55 years, the church said Monday. Experts said it's a
sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba's communist
government.

The church, funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, will
be built in Sandino, a citrus and coffee-growing town in the far-western
province of Pinar del Rio.

The church publication "Christian Life" said it will have space for 200
people.

"The construction of a church is a clear demonstration of a new phase,
of an improvement, in relations between the church and the state," said
Enrique Lopez Oliva, a professor the history of religions at the
University of Havana.

The Catholic Church had tense relations with what was long an officially
atheist government for many years after the 1959 revolution, but they
began to improve ahead of Pope John Paul II's visit in 1998.

The government revived observance of a Christmas holiday and began
allowing masses or homilies to be broadcast on official media. It also
dropped a ban on church membership for Communist Party members that had
been adopted in the years after the 1959 revolution.

___

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

Source: Cuba builds first new church in 55 years - Yahoo News -
https://news.yahoo.com/cuba-builds-first-church-55-years-191657884.html

11 Cuban rafters saved near Turkey Point; 2 more sought

11 Cuban rafters saved near Turkey Point; 2 more sought
BY CHARLES RABINCRABIN@MIAMIHERALD.COM
10/27/2014 11:06 AM 10/28/2014 7:54 AM

A large rescue operation continued into Monday night for two men missing
after their ramshackle, handmade vessel, which left Cuba about a week
ago, broke apart four miles east of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant
in South Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, the U.S. Coast Guard and civilians in pleasure
crafts, searching the still-warm waters between Sands Key and Turkey
Point with boats, helicopters and airplanes, plucked nine men from the
water Monday morning.

Two others swam to Elliott Key.

The group, all adult men, told law enforcement officers that they left
Cuba between five and 10 days ago on a makeshift raft made of wood and
inner tubes, and that it broke into pieces about 10 Sunday night.
Several of the men were found clinging to inner tubes.

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of planning
By late Monday, five of the men were aboard the Coast Guard Cutter
Robert Yered, three others who were pulled from the water by Miami-Dade
Fire Rescue — two by helicopter hoists — were in area hospitals, one was
rescued near Fowey Rocks Light, and two more were in the custody of
immigration authorities on Elliott Key.

Coast Guard officials said the search for the two missing men would
continue through Monday night, and then the situation would be
reevaluated. They believe there is a good chance the missing men can
survive through the night because water temperatures remain in the low
80s, with relatively light waves of two or three feet.

"It broke apart, and we're not sure why it broke apart. Probably because
it's a small craft and a large sea," said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Richard
Hartley. "Water temperatures are pretty warm. There's a good chance
they're still clinging to some debris."

Hartley said authorities recovered several inner tubes, which the
rescued men said they used as flotation devices for their vessel during
the 90-mile trip from Cuba.

"That's why we don't believe it was a smuggling operation," said Coast
Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss.

Several of the men, if Cuban, will probably be able to remain in the
United States because of a 1996 revision to the Cuban Adjustment Act
that expedites the legal permanent residency status of Cubans who reach
the American shore.

According to Hartley, the Coast Guard was informed of the men in the
water shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, then quickly informed Miami and
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, which both sent watercraft. They also contacted
national parks officials and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission, which was also helping in the search.

A signal was also sent out to pleasure craft in the area whose operators
quickly spotted two of the men swimming without any flotation devices,
and pulled them aboard.

The men seemed to be in good condition considering the lengthy, rough
voyage through the Florida Straits, said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Eric
Lowd.

"I don't know how long they were in the water," Lowd said, "but they
looked pretty good. One of the men said it was long and hot and he was
thirsty and cold."

Officials, still trying to determine where the men began their voyage,
said a steady stream of migrants has reached shore this year.

In September, a group of nine rafters came ashore behind the Mar-Azul
condominium complex in Key Biscayne.

According to U.S. Border Patrol, 2,059 Cubans were intercepted at sea in
the year ending Sept. 30, which was 702 more than the year before. Only
814 Cubans reached shore during the same time period, an increase from
the 359 who made it to the United States the previous year.

Most of the Cubans who make it to the United States cross over from
Mexico, according to Border Patrol. So far this year, 16,247 Cubans have
migrated to the United States through Mexico.

El Nuevo Herald staff writer Alfonso Chardy contributed to this report.

Source: 11 Cuban rafters saved near Turkey Point; 2 more sought | The
Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/deadline-miami/article3400848.html

Su novio la mató

'Su novio la mató'
JORGE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ | La Habana | 28 Oct 2014 - 8:50 am.

Los homicidios y la violencia, sobre todo contra las mujeres, crecen en
el país. La prensa y el Gobierno callan.

"¿Eh, y la muchacha bonita que siempre me hornea la pizza a mi gusto?"

Es domingo 19 de octubre, 1:30 pm. Quien pregunta es un joven
veinteañero, cliente habitual de la cafetería El Toldo, en la avenida
principal del Reparto Eléctrico; a un costado del parque infantil.

No hay respuestas, solo rostros demasiados tensos y nerviosos para una
tarde de domingo. Finalmente, una de las vendedoras, de reojo y en
susurro, le dice: "su novio la mató, hace como cinco horas", y rompe a
llorar.

Los detalles se los amplía el ponchero, pues tiene su negocio ubicado
justo al frente de la cafetería. "Asere, esa chamaca no se merecía eso.
Conozco también al tipo, que la maltrataba al extremo; hasta que ella se
cansó y lo acusó. Él estaba en prisión preventiva hasta el día del
juicio, pero todo indica que le dieron pase. Ni siquiera discutieron
porque solo se escucharon de repente los gritos y nadie tuvo tiempo de
reaccionar. Le dio ocho puñaladas, menos mal que todavía no había niños
en el parque".

El joven veinteañero no da crédito a lo que escucha; siente incluso algo
de culpa porque solía coquetearle a la muchacha. Tampoco puede dejar de
pensar que estos hechos violentos se han ido tornado habituales, y
comparte su preocupación con el ponchero.

"Mira sobrino, no sé en qué país tú vives, pero si de verdad te preocupa
la realidad tienes que caminar barrio adentro, y no solo en este, para
que te des cuenta que no solo en las películas del sábado hay violencia.
Sale a caminar la calle y verás".

Lo que tampoco logra explicarse el joven es "cómo alguien en custodia
preventiva, en espera de juicio, obtiene un pase".

La Ley 62 del Código Penal —artículo 261— sanciona el homicidio con una
pena de entre siete y quince años de privación de libertad. Con un buen
comportamiento —entiéndase trabajar y participar en los planes de
reeducación que auspicia el Departamento de Prisiones subordinado al
Ministerio del Interior— cualquier recluso sancionado por este delito
saldría en libertad condicional a los siete años, incluso menos porque
la norma es sancionar el delito a diez años; y a partir de cumplirse un
tercio de la sanción tiene la posibilidad de salir regularmente de pase.

"Estas bondades, que supuestamente deben conducir a la reinserción
social del individuo, permiten por otro lado y en cierto modo que se
condicionen los comportamientos violentos que suelen llegar a
convertirse con frecuencia en homicidio", asegura Dianelys Martínez, ex
jueza del Tribunal Municipal del municipio Plaza.

Esta perspectiva se confirma cuando se sigue, al pie de la letra, la
advertencia del ponchero, sin que ello signifique exponer,
peyorativamente, la vida y a la gente de los barrios.

"Cometer un homicidio, mi ambia, ya no representa una muestra de
verdadera hombría como en mis tiempos —cuenta Rogelio, personaje que
goza de respeto en los ambientes habaneros—. Incluso para llegar a esto
debían concurrir todas las circunstancias. Se mataba por razones de
peso; por defender tu honor, tu vida o tu sangre. Hoy los menores se
llevan a cualquiera del aire porque la ley es menos recia con ellos.
Cualquiera se lleva a cualquiera del aire por lo mínimo. Se sabe que
casi nadie cumple ni siquiera los diez años que te echan en el tanque;
hay gente que sale a los cinco años por buena conducta, o que salen de
pase a los tres. Con esas condiciones cualquiera mata monina. Yo tuve
que jalar veinte años por lo mío, en el 65".

Celia tiene secuelas que van más allá de perder a un familiar. Todavía
habla sobre el asunto con gravedad. Su testimonio no tiene afeites, ni
es afectado. Duele escucharla porque habla desde el corazón y a través
de los ojos.

"A mi esposo le quitó la vida Marquitos, a quien vi crecer, por una
simple discusión en una cola para comprar hamburguesas, en el año 95.
Fue delante de mi hijo que tenía entonces 13 años y quedó traumatizado
con tratamiento psicológico para toda la vida; ni siquiera pudo culminar
sus estudios. Yo me enfermé de los nervios cuando a los dos años de
estar cumpliendo condena Marquitos salió de pase. Al final solo cumplió
cinco años de la condena de diez. Y mira tú, hace menos de un año lo
mataron a él; de dos tiros, otro que tampoco lo pensó dos veces. No me
alegré; al contrario, me puse a pensar que algo anda mal en las leyes
cuando se asesina con tanta facilidad".

El suceso de la calle 27 y 4, en Nuevo Vedado, acompaña a Niurka como
una imagen congelada, incluso casi dos años después. No ha logrado tener
desde entonces una pareja formal, tiene mucha desconfianza hacia los
hombres.

"Ese día yo hacía el turno mañanero en la fregadora de la esquina. Vi a
un muchacho salir del portal de la casa de enfrente y creí que era algún
mecánico o algo porque no era de zona. Se cruzó con otro muchacho en la
acera y le dijo '¿tú no la querías?, pues ahí en ese portal te la dejo',
y siguió de largo. No entendí nada hasta que se oyeron los gritos del
otro. La había matado, a cuchillazos. Al otro día, la familia de esa
casa puso un cartel de se permuta".

Cierta impunidad en la aplicación de las sanciones propicia un alto
índice en el delito de homicidio. La última reforma en el código penal
cubano agravaría solo a los delitos relacionados con las drogas que
ampliaron, casi el doble, la privación de libertad. Los relacionados con
el homicidio quedarían intactos.

"Lo que no sale nunca, ni siquiera en los casos que recrea el programa
Tras la huella, es la creciente ola de homicidios y violencia que se
vive cotidianamente en Cuba, y mucho más en provincias"; alega un
informático natural de Campechuela, graduado de la UCI.

"En la prensa solo se reflejan los accidentes de tránsito o solo
aquellos hechos connotados que no hay modo de ocultarlo, como el de La
Habana Vieja o el de hace años en Artemisa, donde las víctimas incluían
niños. Pero en cualquier computadora de cualquier casa se puede
encontrar mucha documentación gráfica de los casos donde la mayoría de
los homicidios son contra las mujeres. La gente se los pasa, no por
morbosidad, sino para conocer de cerca la realidad que también se vive y
que el Gobierno intenta ocultar bajo la alfombra. Ni siquiera existen
estadísticas oficiales sobre ello".

Las dos vendedoras de la cafetería El Toldo evitan hablar del tema. No
habrá nada en el resto de sus vidas que pueda superar el haber sido
testigo de semejante hecho. Lo ocurrido a su compañera de trabajo fue
casi ante sus ojos; quedaron paralizadas.

Entre lágrimas, una de ellas solo se repite, "no es posible, no es
posible que ese hombre haya salido de pase solo para venir y hacerle
esto. Se supone que estaría en prisión hasta el día del juicio. Tengo
mucho miedo y no sé si pueda testificar contra él en el juicio sin la
garantía de que estará preso de por vida. No es posible".

Source: 'Su novio la mató' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1414479025_10999.html

Monday, October 27, 2014

Has Stagnation Returned?

Has Stagnation Returned? / Fernando Damaso
Posted on October 26, 2014

For years, stagnation was a constant of Cuban-style socialism, as it was
in the socialism of Eastern Europe. Starting in 2006, with the change at
the helm, it seemed as if the country was going to awaken from its long
lethargy and start to move forward, albeit too slowly for many people. A
few timid steps were taken, but they were enough to create some hope
that, finally, we would begin to travel along the correct path, leaving
behind years of failed experiments and constant political, economic and
social improvisation.

There began a process of eliminating absurd prohibitions, which pleased
everyone, although it was known that the contents of our wallets would
be insufficient to fund such niceties as travel, hotel stays or buying a
car or house. It also seemed as though the economy was going to begin to
take off, salaries and pensions would improve, and we would begin to
live as normal people. Congresses and conferences were convened wherein
short-, medium-, and long-term plans were discussed and approved which,
according to their creators, would facilitate our secure path towards
development, without pressures but also without slow-downs.

Some years have now passed since then, and the scene has changed but
little: agriculture continues to lag behind the demand for
reasonably-priced foods for the majority of citizens, livestock breeding
continues to be stagnant, milk production is seriously below national
demand, basic industrial products are scarce, health and education
services get worse daily, the lack of hygiene is widespread, the state
of the epidemiological system is worrisome, streets and sidewalks remain
broken and unrepaired, buildings collapse and new housing units are not
built, businesses are deteriorating and under-supplied, and incivility
is rampant.

The list of problems could go on ad infinitum, adding to it, besides,
the prevailing corruption, diversion of resources, social violence and
generalized indiscipline. It appears that erstwhile gains are
insufficient, or that actions taken do not resolve the problems that
prompted them. It could be that, without realizing it, we are falling
once again into stagnation.

It is true that it is unjust to own lands when the owner does not work
them, or when the lands are unproductive. However, it is also unjust to
work them and make them productive, and not own them. The same thing
happens when business properties are legally transferred to
non-agricultural, non-private cooperatives. After the State, through its
interventions, nationalized these properties when they were in good
condition and let them deteriorate, now it pretends that the
responsibility to repair them falls on the private proprietors – while
the State continues to maintain ownership of the real estate.

We are face to face with a reality. As long as the State, which during
56 years has demonstrated its economic illiteracy and its incapacity to
make productive ventures out of agriculture, livestock breeding and
industry – as well as being unable to run its enterprises and services
at a quality level – continues to try to maintain itself as the absolute
owner of everything in the name of the people (that generic entity) –
and doesn't permit real Cubans the exercise of real private ownership,
nothing will work.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Has Stagnation Returned? / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/has-stagnation-returned-fernando-damaso/

Truth and freedom in Cuba

Other voices: Truth and freedom in Cuba
Pioneer Press
POSTED: 10/26/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT

The other day, Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba's state-run
newspaper, Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He
lavished praise on an editorial in The New York Times that called for an
end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint:
The Times mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the
still-unexplained death of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo
Paya, and a younger activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.

The assertion that Cuba's authoritarian government had yet to explain
the deaths was "slanderous and 1/8a3/8 cheap accusation," Mr. Castro
sputtered.

So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still
lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long
past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what
happened on an isolated Cuban road on July 22, 2012. So far, there has
been only a crude attempt at cover-up and denial.

We know something about what happened, thanks to the eyewitness account
of Angel Carromero, the young Spanish politician who was at the wheel of
the rental car that was carrying Mr. Paya and Mr. Cepero to a meeting
with supporters. Mr. Carromero, who visited Washington last week, told
us the car was being shadowed by Cuban state security from the moment it
left Havana. He said his conversations with Mr. Paya as they traveled
were mostly about the Varela Project, Mr. Paya's courageous 2002
petition drive seeking to guarantee democracy in Cuba. Many of Mr.
Paya's supporters in the project were later arrested and imprisoned.
After the wreck, Mr. Carromero was pressured by the Cuban authorities to
describe it as an accident caused by his reckless speeding. But he
reiterated to us last week that what really happened is that the rental
car was rammed from behind by a vehicle bearing state license plates.
Mr. Carromero showed us photographs of the damaged car, damage that
seemed inconsistent with a wreck caused by speeding. But the precise
details of what happened are unknown and need to be cleared up by a
credible investigation. Mr. Paya's family has sought one for two years,
without success. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of
the Organization of American States sent a query to Cuba about the case,
they got no answer. Nothing.

The U.S. embargo has been substantially relaxed in recent years to allow
hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine exports, in
addition to consumer goods supplied to Cubans by relatives in this
country. The question is whether a further relaxation is merited. The
regime's persecution of dissidents is unceasing; it continues to
imprison American Alan Gross on false charges. While Cuba has toyed with
economic liberalization and lifted travel restrictions for some, we see
no sign that the Castro brothers are loosening their grip. Fully lifting
the embargo now would reward and ratify their intransigence.

A concession such as ending the trade embargo should not be exchanged
for nothing. It should be made when Cuba grants genuine freedom to its
people, the goal cherished by Mr. Paya.

-- The Washington Post

Source: Other voices: Truth and freedom in Cuba - TwinCities.com -
http://www.twincities.com/columnists/ci_26804027/other-voices-truth-and-freedom-cuba

Cuba to launch new air routes for tourism season

Cuba to launch new air routes for tourism season
MENAFN - 26/10/2014

(MENAFN) Cuba is planning to launch new air routes to expand tourism in
the coming November-April peak season, Xinhua reported.

Cuba's national carrier, Cubana de Aviacion, will launch a new route
from Costa Rica, and add a second flight from Cancun, Mexico, local
media reported.

An official at Cuba's Tourism Ministry said that, carriers in Mexico,
Poland, Russia, Germany and Colombia will open new routes or add flights
to Cuba.

Canada, Cuba's leading source of tourists, has also announced more
flights to the Caribbean country.

Source: Cuba to launch new air routes for tourism season | MENAFN.COM -
http://www.menafn.com/1093990674/Cuba-to-launch-new-air-routes-for-tourism-season?src=RSS

The Brothers Castro have an ‘ah-ha!’ moment

The Brothers Castro have an 'ah-ha!' moment
BY JOSÉ AZELJAZEL@MIAMI.EDU
10/26/2014 3:00 PM 10/26/2014 7:00 PM

The Story of Cuba, a book by Murat Halsted published in 1896, begins
with a prescient phrase: "The story of Cuba is a tragedy."

Tragedies often have a pivotal moment of revelation when a character
makes a critical discovery; a change from ignorance to knowledge.
Aristotle calls these moments, when we grasp things as they are,
"anagnorisis." Oedipus, the tragic hero of Greek mythology has his
anagnorisis when he learns that, in ignorance he has killed his father
and married his mother. Luke Skywalker has his when he realizes that
Darth Vader is his father.

Fidel Castro's public anagnorisis surfaced in 2010 when, in response to
a question by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg as to whether the Cuban model
was still something worth exporting, the Castro responded: "The Cuban
model doesn't even work for us anymore."

For his part Raul Castro — addressing Cuba's parliament in the "Year 50
of the Revolution" — reneged on the previous five decades proclaiming
that, "Equality is not egalitarianism." He then added that
egalitarianism is a form of exploitation of the hard working by the lazy.

It is clear that the delusion of Cuba as a nation engaged in a
transcendental historical endeavor of building a communist society is no
longer the national identity. The Castros and their governing
nomenclature lack a cohesive socioeconomic identity and seem to have no
national idea of whom or what they are, where they belong, or where they
want to go. Their objective is simply to remain in power.

Some totalitarian regimes, such as Cuba and the Soviet Union before it,
have relied on Marxism-Leninism as ideologies presumably imbued with a
higher construct of truth to create environments hermetically sealed
from outside information. These regimes, depicting themselves as an
expression of the absolute truth, have depended on fanaticism disguised
as social science to achieve political goals with abject disrespect for
personal freedoms.

In early Fidel Castro's Cuba, communist ideology conveyed and instructed
a sense of purpose that in some ways offered context and meaning to
freedom-deprived lives. In that Cuba, it was not tradition, or economic
success, or scientific greatness that served as the country's identity
anchor; it was the credibility of an ideology that imparted a sense of
destiny. Belief in the creed, and harsh repression produced in the
population acquiescence or resigned acceptance in the Platonic
formulation that "silence grants consent." Political loyalty was a
matter of fear as well as ideological faith.

In recent decades, the collapse of the Soviet Union, advances in
communication technologies and other factors have conspired to breach
the intellectual isolation required to sustain the mysticism of
Marxism-Leninism as the inevitable science of history. The magnitude of
the communist dystopia has become evident.

In Cuba today, the ideology that served as the country's identity and
sociopolitical glue has been abandoned even by the Communist Party. Over
time, Cuban communism has produced a profound disillusionment in the
population as well as in the ruling elite. Moreover, central tenets of
Marxist ideology such as abolition of private property and equality do
not lend themselves readily to doctrinal renovation as the Raul Castro
regime is pursuing with its "Perfecting Socialism" ideas.

As we witnessed with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the
preservation of an ideology- based state becomes very tenuous when the
ideology is discredited. The declining ideological convictions of the
ruling elite diminish both their governing legitimacy and their
political will.

None of this is to suggest that the demise of a totalitarian regime is
imminent once it loses its ideology. Other outcomes are possible, but
ultimately Cubans will experience a shared anagnorisis and will realize
that the cure for what ails them is not external, but internal. They
will demand regime change and the replacement of central planning and
totalitarian rule with a market economy and democratic participation and
institutions. A prosperous future requires a national identity based on
the rule of law and not on ideological messianic leadership. Only then,
with a new identity anchored in freedom will a new historical era of
change come to the tragic island.

JOSÉ AZEL IS A SENIOR SAT THE INSTITUTE FOR CUBAN AND CUBAN-AMERICAN
STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI AND THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK "MAÑANA IN CUBA."

Source: The Brothers Castro have an 'ah-ha!' moment | The Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article3389969.html