Tuesday, September 27, 2016

They Married Us to a Lie…

They Married Us to a Lie… / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 26 September 2016 — It is a sign of lack of civility and
decorum on the part of the Cuban regime to blame to the so-called US
blockade for the shortages and difficulties, whose real cause is the
inability and mismanagement of the economy, wealth and and riches of our
country, by the leadership of the island. It is extremely well-known
that they have "thrown everyone overboard," dedicating their efforts and
money to propaganda and proselytizing abroad, to present a completely
untrue image of the internal situation.

When the Soviet "pipelines" were open to Cuba, in the media here,
especially on television, there was an abundance of caricatures and ads
where a popular character mocked the blockade, throwing all kinds of
taunts at.

Why now this exhausting campaign against the blockade, that exceeds all
limits of popular assimilation and acceptance? Why not have the civility
and honesty to recognize the inability to lead and the squandering of
the income obtained from the government's share of the family
remittances from the United States and the huge business established by
the government to "rent out" doctors and professionals to other
countries, which bring juicy dividends to the regime and from which our
doctors and specialists receive only a pittance?

In the face of this so-called "solidarity" it is the people who suffer
the consequences of the lack of medically qualified professionals and
specialists remaining in Cuba, in schools and hospitals. "Candle in the
street, darkness in the house," as the popular saying goes. That is, we
put on a big show for the outside, while we lack everything at home.

They married us to a lie… and forced us to live with it all these years.

Translated by Jim

Source: They Married Us to a Lie… / Rebeca Monzo – Translating Cuba -

Laritza Diversent "We Have The Right To Participate In The Social And Political Life Of The Country"

Laritza Diversent: "We Have The Right To Participate In The Social And
Political Life Of The Country" / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 September 2016 – The headquarters
of the independent legal group Cubalex, this weekend, lacked the hectic
bustle of the many users who normally flock to the site for legal
advice, especially the families of inmates who come with thick folders
of documents, appeals and demands.

When the attorney Laritza Diversent received us for this interview, the
furniture had not been put back in place after an intense search that
left everything "upside down" and, on the table, lay the shattered
remains of a door latch, as physical proof of forced entry.

The psychological scars are fresh among team members of this
organization, threatened with a legal process and forced to strip naked
during the search. However, on Sunday the legal work resumed its course,
thanks to the solidarity of other members of civil society who provided
two computers. A few papers comprise the first evidence of a case that
will demand time and expertise from Cubalex: their own complaint against
the authorities who seized their belongings but could not stop their work.

14ymedio. What was the point of the raid against Cubalex?

Diversent. There were parallel purposes. On the one hand there were the
architectural changes made on this house, where they were looking for
the slightest violation of planning regulations. For example, they
fixated on a bathroom that we put under the stairs as a service to the
public. At the same time they wanted to monitor our work as
an organization that provides legal services to the population.

14ymedio. Who participated in the police search?

Diversent. The prosecutor Beatriz Peña of Oz, the Attorney General of
the Republic, at the head of about 20 people. Among them, a doctor, an
employee of the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Juan Carlos, who led the operation
from his status as an officer of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT),
another prosecutor of the province and an instructor called Doralis, who
made the list of the equipment that was seized.

They also brought experts who took photos, a videographer who was
filming everything, and other computer experts. They had several
officials from State Security, two uniformed police officers and other
MININT officials wearing the uniform typical of prison guards; a
representative from the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT),
another of the Institute of Physical Planning and another from
the Ministry of Justice.

14ymedio. Why was there a representative of the ONAT present?

Diversent. It was justified with the assumption that we are undertaking
an activity defined as 'self-employment', that we are providing a
service for which we are supposedly charging people, without having the
necessary permit. We explained to them in every possible way that we are
a non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides a free social
service, but they acted as if we hadn't made that clear.

14ymedio. Why a repressive act of this nature at this time and against a
peaceful group?

Diversent. It is very difficult to find the reasons for this action,
which can be described as unconscionable. But it can be attributed to
what we have done. First, our attempts to achieve the legalization of
our organization, Cubalex. We have also filed complaints against
official institutions such as the General Customs of the Republic,
saying that books and other belongings have been seized from us at the
airport without justification. That complaint we have taken to court. We
have also made a policy proposal to the Communist Party of Cuba to
change the electoral law.

14ymedio. So you think that is a response to these actions?

Diversent. You would have to ask them. As citizens we believe we have
the right to make proposals and we have the right to participate in the
social and political life of the country in which we live.

14ymedio. Did you resist the police officers who were entering the premises?

Diversent. The "resolution to enter the home" – the warrant – to
undertake the search said that they were looking for "objects of illicit
origin," but it didn't specify which ones. The law establishes that this
detail must be clarified, so I denied them entrance and invoked the
right to inviolability of one's home. However, they broke the lock on
the outer gate and also the one on the main door to the house.

14ymedio. The law also specifies that the search must be made with at
least two members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution
[local watchdogs] as witnesses. Was that requirement met?

Diversent. The witnesses were two members of the party nucleus in the
zone, who did not behave as impartial witnesses, but as partners in the
operation. To the extent that they sometimes suggested to MINIT
officials where they needed to search, and they constantly used the term
"we" with the sense of being a part of the operation, far from their
supposed function as impartial witnesses. One of them was more than
85-years-old and boasted of being an unblemished revolutionary.

14ymedio. What was the final outcome of the search?

Diversent. They seized four laptops and five desktop PCs, including a
server, and three multifunctional printers. In addition they took hard
drives, memory sticks, cameras and all the cell phones were taken.

14ymedio. What has been the reaction of other independent groups to this

Diversent. Almost all the entities of civil society have expressed their

14ymedio. Could the information seized pose a risk to you?

Diversent. More than 200 case files that we are working were taken, many
of them regarding inmates anxious to see some improvement in their
status as prisoners. There is a risk that these people, in exchange for
any advantage in their prison regimen, might declare something that
hurts us, such as that we charge for our services. But that is in the
realm of speculation.

14ymedio. What is the worst thing that could happen?

Diversent. We are very concerned because they have made specific threats
against us, such as that so far this is an administrative matter but
that it could become another type of process.

14ymedio. Are you thinking of not continuing the work you have been doing?

Diversent. No. Rather, what happened encourages us to keep doing what we do.

Source: Laritza Diversent: "We Have The Right To Participate In The
Social And Political Life Of The Country" / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar –
Translating Cuba -

Five bodies found along Keys; Coast Guard searches for missing Cuban migrants

Five bodies found along Keys; Coast Guard searches for missing Cuban

Five bodies have been recovered from Florida Keys waters or shorelines
since Saturday, possibly victims of a capsized migrant vessel that left

None of the five - three men and two women - has been publicly identified.

Three men found alive near Big Pine Key told authorities that about two
dozen people were aboard a makeshift boat that departed from Cuba on
Sept. 20. The aging boat capsized and sank a day later.

Three bodies were found Saturday in international waters off the Upper
Keys, about 23 miles east of Islamorada. A fourth body was found on a
Lower Keys beach Saturday.

The fifth victim, a woman, was discovered Monday near Little Palm Island
in the Lower Keys by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
patrol boat, part of an extensive search by state and federal agencies
for survivors or more fatalities.

The woman's body was not far from Ramrod Key, where a man's body was
found Saturday on a remote beach off mile marker 27.

"The deceased people have not been identified," said Deputy Becky
Herrin, information officer for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
"Their bodies have been turned over to the [county] Medical Examiner's
Office for an autopsy to determine the cause of their deaths, and to
attempt to determine their identities."

A fisherman found the first body, a man, offshore of the Upper Keys
around 10:45 a.m. Saturday. An FWC aircraft responding to the area
spotted the bodies of a man and a woman near an overturned raft around
2:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Ramrod Key property owners found a man's body at the
isolated beach. "Detectives say there were no obvious signs of trauma on
the man's body, which was found lying on the remote strip of beach," the
Monroe County Sheriff's Office reported. "The dead man had two bottles
of water and a small amount of food near him when he was found."

Deputies had searched the area around 6 p.m. Friday after receiving a
report of a man on the beach "waving as if to get attention." They could
not locate him on Friday.

"It is unknown if the dead man was a Cuban migrant, or if there is some
other explanation for him having been found on a remote strip of beach
with no vehicle nearby," Becky Herrin said in a Sunday statement.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter "Robert Yered" and an agency aircraft
continued the search Monday.

In August 2008, the badly decomposed bodies of four men were discovered
off the Upper Keys. While authorities believed it likely the men had
left Cuba, they could not be certain. The investigation lasted eight
months before it was confirmed the four were among eight Cuban men who
tried to cross the Florida Straits on a raft, during a tropical storm.
There is no indication that any of the remaining four survived.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

Source: Five bodies found along Keys; Coast Guard searches for missing
Cuban migrants | Miami Herald -

Cuba, Russia sign nuclear energy cooperation deal

Cuba, Russia sign nuclear energy cooperation deal
Published September 27, 2016 EFE

VIENNA – Cuba and Russia relaunched their relations on Tuesday with a
pacific nuclear energy deal signed in Vienna alongside the International
Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference.

Cuban vice Minister of Science, Environment and Technology José Fidel
Santana signed the deal with Sergey Kirienjo, director of the Russian
state nuclear energy company Rosatom.

Santana said that, after two years of negotiations, the deal would give
both countries a framework to immediately begin developing bilateral
projects, especially related to the medical and agricultural uses of
nuclear energy.

He insisted that the projects were still in their initial phases, so the
economic and material volume of the deal could not yet be evaluated.

The deal also includes the creation of Cuban nuclear specialists,
applied and fundamental investigations and the management of radioactive

Bilateral relations between Russia and Cuba have intensified in the last
few months and they have signed several deals, including one on the sale
and repair of train engines for merchandise transport on the island
between 2017 and 2021.

Source: Cuba, Russia sign nuclear energy cooperation deal | Fox News
Latino -

Russia offers Cuba 55 cooperation projects worth $4 bln

Russia offers Cuba 55 cooperation projects worth $4 bln
27 September 2016 TASS
The projects are to be implemented in 2016-2020.

Russia has offered Cuba 55 bilateral cooperation projects with a total
value of about $4 billion, Russia's Deputy Minister of Economics Nikolai
Podguzov told TASS on Monday.

"Cuba was offered 55 projects to be implemented in 2016-2020, totaling
almost $4 bln," the Russian deputy minister said after a meeting of the
working group for trade and economic cooperation and priority projects
of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental commission for trade and
economic, scientific and technical cooperation, which was held in Cuba's
capital of Havana.

Growth drivers
"Given the change in the commodity market climate, we need to find new
drivers for economic growth and reduce our dependence on commodities
exports," the Russian deputy minister stated. Taking into consideration
"the establishment of a new economic agenda in Russia" he believes that
Russian and Cuban economics complement each other.

"We are offering Cuba indispensable industrial equipment, infrastructure
development options that can build a good foundation for economic growth
on the island state," Podguzov noted. He added that "these are important
projects for the development of Russia's economy as well." That is why,
in his words, "both sides have been taking a pragmatic approach towards
these projects that can help Russian-Cuban relations reach a new level."

"In the first nine months of the current year, there was significant
growth in trade turnover following a clear-cut decline, and the
implementation of these priority projects could help strengthen this
positive trend," the deputy minister said.

Priority projects
Podguzov said projects in the energy, railway infrastructure,
information technology, aircraft industries are those taking priority,
saying that "substantive efforts were being made" concerning their
implementation. Meanwhile, all these projects involve exporting Russian
goods to Cuba. In particular, the investment company Sinara Group is
going to export locomotives and deliveries are likely to begin in 2017.
The transport machine-building company, Transmashholding, will export
passenger railcars, the energy corporation Inter RAO plans to partake in
constructing the Maximo Gomez and East Havana thermal power plants'
power units and also to upgrade the operating power units of Cuban
thermal power plants. RusHydro, the hydroelectricity company, is already
participating in a tender for the construction of 16 small hydroelectric
power stations. The Ivekta company plans to export to Cuba roadbuilding
equipment and various vehicles, Rosinformexport has prepared a project
on the creation of e-government in Cuba while Uralkhimmash is ready to
build a park for the storage of liquefied hydrocarbon gases.

At the meeting of the working group, Cuba also revealed a number of
projects that it was ready to implement. First and foremost, these
projects concern pharmacology and medicine. Cuba has created some
promising medications and seeks to introduce them to the Russian market.
In this regard, Russia's deputy minister of economics promised to
organize contacts between the Russian and the Cuban Ministries of Health
in order to facilitate the development of cooperation in this sphere.

Key issue
"The key issue for all these projects is securing their financing,"
Podguov said. According to him, most often funding is provided through
Russian bank loans under the safeguards of Russia's Agency for Export
Credit and Investment Insurance products (EXIAR).

In Podguzov's opinion, "the options for assurances need to be defined
together with EXIAR so that Russian banks can provide loans for
purchasing goods and thus clinching these deals." He also said that "the
range of projects that EXIAR will support is rather wide." Russia's
deputy minister expects that these projects will soon get underway with
EXIAR's help which will improve the situation in selected Cuban industries.

On the whole, Russia's deputy minister of economics sees many
opportunities for exporting Russian industrial goods to Latin America
"including various equipment as well as aircraft industry and energy
projects." The deputy minister was confident that the countries of the
region "could be potential buyers of Russian goods, but it is important
to carefully design the financing schemes for the projects since Russia
does not always offer competitive conditions, in the pre-export
financing field, in particular.".

First published by TASS.

Source: Russia offers Cuba 55 cooperation projects worth $4 bln | Russia
& India Report -

Doing business in Cuba poses risks and requires patience, CEOs say

Doing business in Cuba poses risks and requires patience, CEOs say

This week's question: As Cuba slowly opens up, what advice would you
offer an entrepreneur starting up a business?


Cuba is certainly a risky venture and its early steps into
entrepreneurship is also an ethical question. Personally, I feel people
like myself and others like me should play a major role in aiding Cuban
economic development. However, this must also be done responsibly and
with the intent to maintain the flavor of the Cuban culture. I believe
any mentoring should include the expectation of adapting their culture
into opportunities.

Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW


For an American entrepreneur seeking to do business in Cuba, I would
tell them there are opportunities available. Many entrepreneurs have
tried to find a niche in Cuba, but the climate for doing business with
Cuba remains difficult. They need to remember that the U.S. embargo
remains very much in place, so doing business with Cuba still requires
people to understand and comply with the embargo regulations. At the
same time, the Cuban government is only slowly opening up its markets,
so entrepreneurs need to learn to be patient. Do not expect things to
get done as quickly in Cuba as they do in the rest of the Americas.

Hilarie Bass, co-president, Greenberg Traurig


Many American hotel companies have had an eye toward development in Cuba
as an emerging market for some time now. It seems that the
infrastructure in that country needs to be better developed in order to
support its potential growth. My advice would be to proceed with caution.

Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach


Learn Spanish. Understand that running a business in Cuba may be vastly
different than here and be aware of the costs and constraints of
regulatory compliance and other governmental requirements. Also, know
your customer. You may have customers that are not happy you are
engaging in business in Cuba.

Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline


Wait until this year's presidential election is over. Wait until Fidel
Castro dies. Wait to see who dares to do anything of significance;
entrepreneurially-speaking. And, at the end of this waiting period, if
you really want to start up a business, come to Liberty City.

T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami


If you are an entrepreneur considering doing business in Cuba, the first
step is to make an assessment and evaluate the service, product or
business-to-business offering to determine the feasibility of
successfully entering and growing in this market. In that evaluation,
you must assess the barriers to entry and have an understanding of the
regulatory hurdles necessary to penetrate the Cuban market, and the
expected demand for the type of service or product you plan to offer.
Understanding the regulatory barriers and market demand are the simple
first steps necessary to determine a go vs. no go evaluation. As a
result of this process, an entrepreneur may in fact determine that the
best path for growth may happen to be expanding domestically or in other
international environs that pose less risk and greater return.

Alan Kleber, managing director, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)


My advice to an entrepreneur hoping to start a business in Cuba would be
to wait and watch. I believe there is tremendous opportunity in Cuba,
but it is not yet a place for entrepreneurs. Cuba's business environment
is very tough (to say the least), consumer spending power is lacking and
there's significant counter-party risk. That being said, it has
potential for multinational corporations that can handle the risk and
leverage the opportunity afforded by the location, low labor costs and
prospects for growth. Entrepreneurs should be very wary as risk is high
and returns are uncertain.

Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors


Tread carefully, and be cautious. Business is difficult even in a stable
economy, and I believe Cuba still has a long road ahead before political
conditions allow for a true private sector. The island will need to
adapt modern policies, update its aging infrastructure, and allow the
people to act and speak freely. That being said, Cuba's culture,
coastline, and proximity to Florida will certainly appeal to
entrepreneurs looking for new ventures with the country. With the proper
timing and the right kind of business, opportunity will certainly
present itself.

Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone's Restaurant


Until there is a clear system of law, be careful. Cuba offers a great
opportunity especially for all of us in Miami. The danger is that
property rights are still unclear. Investing in a great business deal
that you don't actually own due to the lack of enforceable rights will
lead to distress and losses. Once the government is ready to really
clarify property rights, then Cuba will explode. The current politics
will also change if the rule of law is respected. This can resolve
legitimate economic and political concerns.

Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra


As a young entrepreneur myself doing business in Europe in my early 20s,
I understand the importance of respecting cultures and how business
operates. In Cuba, you should be cautious, but ready to implement your
idea when the circumstances allow; such as the ability to hire and pay
Cubans directly. I also believe you should identify a young Cuban living
on the island as a partner in the endeavor and consider how your idea
serves and benefits the Cuban people. It's important to understand the
history and culture of Cuba, issues regarding human rights, as well as
the nature of U.S.-Cuba relations.

David Samson, president, Miami Marlins


Any entrepreneur looking to do business in an emerging market should
fully research the regulatory and legal environment and be prepared for
that environment to change quickly and frequently as the market matures.
You need to be nimble in an established market, and doubly so in a
market in which the rules are still being developed.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light


I do hope that Cuba can learn some of the more difficult lessons from
us, so that they can avoid some of the same mistakes. For example, they
have a rich and well-preserved environment due to their lack of
industrial development. In particular, Cuba's reefs are said to be
spectacular. I hope that they have the foresight to develop ecotourism
with sustainability in mind and to protect some of their national
ecological treasures for future generations.

Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper

Source: South Florida CEOs: Risks, barriers and patience part of doing
business in Cuba | In Cuba Today -

The regime unleashes repression all over the island

The regime unleashes repression all over the island
DDC | La Habana | 26 de Septiembre de 2016 - 20:39 CEST.

The Cuban regime launched a massive crackdown on the offices of the
Legal Information Center (Cubalex), headed up by attorney Laritza
Diversent, according to information received by DIARIO DE CUBA, just
hours after the European Commission formally proposed that the EU
countries support the political cooperation and dialogue agreement with
Havana, which would supersede the Common Position, in force since 1996.

Sources close to Diversent said that police forces raided the
headquarters and accused the entire Cubalex team of "economic crimes".

At 10 am in the morning two police cars arrived, along with 20 agents in
plain clothes, and a lady in a white coat who claimed to be a doctor.
They waited for the entire CUBALEX team to be inside the building before
commencing the operation.

They broke in through the garage door with a crowbar, and used a jimmy
to access the kitchen, confiscating all their technological resources,
computers, memories and hard drives – even those for personal use.

A week of intense repression

The week saw a wave of repression let loose across the Island against
many opposition and civil society organizations.

On Thursday the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) reported the arrest of
23 activists and the imprisonment of one of its members, who would mark
"political prisoner number 43" from the organization.

On Tuesday, 20 September, police officers and State Security agents
prevented a dozen young dissidents from completing visa processes at
the Spanish consulate in Havana to travel to Madrid to take a training
course at the Instituto Atlántico.

That same day, the spokesman for Cuba's Independent Trade Union
Coalition, Iván Hernández Carrillo, reported that the political police
had deployed a large force to break up a meeting of several trade
unionists seeking to fuse the Island's three main labor organizations.

On Sunday, 18 September, repression was also perpetrated against the
Ladies in White: 27 women were arrested in Havana, along with several
activists with the #TodosMarchamos (We All March) campaign on the 71st
Sunday of the constant persecution of the organization's marches.

Another group of women was also harassed on Tuesday, when State Security
deployed forces near a house in which they were to hold a meeting, while
keeping the participants trapped in their own homes.

The women, coordinators of a numbers of projects, had planned to present
their work and draft a single document for submission to an upcoming
international forum.

Last Friday, meanwhile, the activist Marthadela Tamayo, a member of the
Committee for Racial Integration (CIR), was seized by political agents,
held and interrogated for eight hours. Her family and friends, unaware
of her whereabouts, reported her missing. Following her release Tamayo
spoke to DIARIO DE CUBA.

Another victim of the current clampdown was Lady in White Leticia Ramos.
On Saturday police searched her house for two hours.

At about 8:30 am 26 agents from the Interior Ministry showed up at her
home in Cárdenas, Matanzas, proceeding to seize magazines, a publication
of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to arrest Ramos's

Leticia Ramos is now under investigation, accused of "public disorder."
The authorities will not allow her to leave her home.

Last week the authorities also arrested, beat and stripped three women
activists from the Partido Arco Progresista (PARP) who were on their way
to the Santuario de El Cobre. The activists wore T-shirts endorsing the
# Otro18 campaign, which seeks to promote candidates not backed by the
regime to run in the 2018 "elections."

Far from easing up on repression in order to secure international
approval, Raúl Castro seems bent on ratcheting it up.

Source: The regime unleashes repression all over the island | Diario de
Cuba - http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1474915176_25575.html

Monday, September 26, 2016

Latin America, Land of the ‘Millennials’

Latin America, Land of the 'Millennials' / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 25 September 2016 – They were born at
the time when Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose was published, when
thousands of Cubans were escaping the island through the Port of Mariel,
and when a fan murdered John Lennon in New York. They are the
millennials, who became adults with the turn of the century and they are
one-third of the current population of Latin America.

The market wants to capture this Generation Y, while companies seek to
exploit its close links with technology. However, it is on the political
scene where it could yield the continent's greatest fruits. Unlike their
parents, who grew up amidst armed conflict, dictators and economic
instability, it is the lot of the millennials to clash with imperfections.

Heirs to the "end of history," these young people, who are today between
20 and 35, are confronted with the challenge of changing the face of a
region urged to reinvent itself. They bring with them pragmatism and a
certain dose of cynicism… which never hurts. Nonconformists, they want
to fight against the system they know, but without the epic outbursts of
their grandparents, nor the elevated expectations of their progenitors.
They reject heroics and acts of immolation.

To transform our societies, these "millennia" count on newly released
tools. They have come of age in the most extensive period of
technological innovation ever known and their way of appreciating the
world passes, for most of them, across the screen of a cellphone. These
creatures, hinges between the 20th and the 21st centuries, stamp their
imprint on today's digital communication. Politicians place in their
hands the management of social networks, online campaigns and
crowdfunding. In these labors they are accumulating the experience that
one day will allow them to exercise governance through the web.

Despite the inequalities that continue to characterizer Latin America,
with regards to the quality of educational systems and the purchasing
power of households, digital communication has been a frequent companion
in the lives of these young people. Internet, cellphones and social
networks have been their companions since they reached the age of
reason. In the alphabet mastered by these offspring of the baby boomers,
G represents Google and a bluebird with a T is Twitter. Thus, it is
difficult to convince them that phones were once hard-wired and that in
the past, if you wanted to buy something, you had to pay with cash. They
have never smoked on an airplane, nor made coffee through a cloth strainer.

Environmentalists, vegans, pansexuals, multilinguals and irreverents,
millennials increasingly choose distance learning and electronic
commerce. They resist paying for the music they consume and have drawn
from videogames the idea that life is expressed in a simple and hard
formula: "Action versus time."

They were small children when the darkness provoked by successive
military coups in the Southern Cone was left behind. In many cases they
have inhabited weak democracies, marked by corruption, limitations on
freedom of expression and concentration of power in the hands of a few.
Forbes magazine has predicted that in 2025 they will represent 75% of
the world's labor force, but few have ventured to calculate their
political participation and their positioning in the mechanism of power.
They are already in the offices of Government palaces, still as
assistants, interning or listening. Crouched in preparation for taking

Among the pending issues they will face in Latin America, the delayed
democratization of the armed forces will be up to them. Circumscribing
those uniformed actors who have been unwanted protagonists in the
political system, and shoring up the fragile civil power, will be a
difficult task in a region where epaulettes have ruled for centuries.
Skeptical, the millennials have seen the images of the fall of the
Berlin Wall a thousand and one times, but they know that the hammers
that destroyed that concrete were wielded by hands that now carry a cane
or wave to their grandchildren from the window.

Now, they are listening as the last echoes of the longest conflicts in
the hemisphere fade out in Colombia, but all around them are the shouts
of populism and the skirmishes of political intolerance. The strict
limits of right and left, that have defined the region for half a
century, ring in their ears like the squeaks from an inexperienced DJ
who doesn't know how to mix tunes.

These millennials exhibit a high degree of political discontent, and are
especially critical of the quality of the education systems. Without
being a homogenous population, they resemble each other in the struggle
for space for innovation and entrepreneurship. In the social networks,
they have managed to bring together all the pieces of a territory whose
principal diplomatic challenge continues to be integration. Tired of the
acronyms of so many useless regional mechanisms, they have dissolved
borders through the effectiveness of a Like on Facebook, and have bought
products on Amazon. They embody globalization.

Even in Cuba, "the island of the disconnected," with the lowest rate of
Internet penetration in the hemisphere, they are seen filling the parks
where the government has opened wifi zones. They can be recognized
because they stare constantly at the screens on their phones, even in
bed, in the bathroom or behind the wheel. They have an intense need to
share information, so they are censorship's natural enemies. On a
continent where television has shaped the leaderships and dictators have
behaved more like soap opera stars than statesmen, millennials prefer to
consume audio and visual media online and a la carte, rather than be
tied to programming directed by others.

From the images of themselves receiving their diplomas to their most
intimate moments, a good share of them want to post it all online. They
feel that the times of privacy have come to an end and life now is
public. On the social networks we have seen them conquer their acne, get
the braces off their teeth, and show off a new beard or hair extensions.
They are willing to exchange personal information for a more intense
social experience. Their children are a part of the experiment and
appear on the web, smiling, naïve, devoid of filters. They are born,
love, protest and die in front of a webcam. They create relationships
based on horizontality, in part because the networks have inculcated
them with the conviction that they are interacting with their peers,
without hierarchies.

To Latin American millennials all that is left is optimism, and in most
cases they believe their nation's best time is still ahead. They don't
dare to say out loud that the future of the continent rests entirely on
their decisions, but they will shape it according to their will. They
are the survivors of that tumultuous 20th century in which they were
born, but which they do not feel a part of. With such antecedents, could
they have turned out any better?

Editor's note: This text was published on Sunday 25 September 2016 in
the Spanish newspaper El País.

Source: Latin America, Land of the 'Millennials' / 14ymedio, Yoani
Sanchez – Translating Cuba -

Havana - Tourism Boom Leads to Increase in Prostitution

Havana: Tourism Boom Leads to Increase in Prostitution / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 22 September 2016 — Empty bottles of rum and Domincan beer
lie scattered around the courtyard as five people drink and talk about
sports and business. A Reggaeton tune, "Until the Malecon Runs Dry" by
Jacob Forever, plays in the background.

Meanwhile, four girls take turns inhaling a mixture of cocaine and
tobacco, known locally as cambolo, from a discarded soda can.

The party could well cost the equivalent of two hundred dollars.
Eduardo, a mid-level bureaucrat in the Foreign Trade office, adds up the
costs: "Forty-eight convertible pesos (CUC) for two cases of beer, forty
CUC for five bottles of rum, twenty five for five kilos of chicken and
two cans of tuna, and a hundred CUC for drugs and whores."

And what are they celebrating? "Nothing in particular. A success or a
failure. We're not going to solve the economic crisis by getting all
worked up. If a little money comes your way, you throw a party. That's
all there is to it," says Armando, the owner of an auto repair business.

This is now routine, at least in Havana, where a group of friends might
rent a pool or a house, buy some food, hire some prostitutes and have a
good time. In summer, hookers like Elisa often take advantage of this
period of prosperity to pad their wallets.

In privately owned bars, discotheques and downtown areas of Havana, the
hookers roam freely. Their extremely short, tight fitting skirts and
overpowering perfumes make them instantly recognizable.

"The customers are like flies to honey. I've made as much as 250 CUC a
night. An Italian in the morning, a Spaniard in the afternoon and a
Cuban who thinks he is a bigshot at night," says Elisa.

And the economic crisis? Or the period of austerity? "That's for state
workers. Those who own businesses, work in tourism or make money under
the table are still enjoying the high life. Just kick a can and the
hookers come out of the woodwork. There are always more of us," adds Elisa.

And predictions are that their numbers will continue to grow. At least
that is what Carlos, a sociologist who lives in southern Havana, thinks.
"In periods of economic difficulty, people choose the easiest paths to
making money. During the Special Period from 1993 to 2000 the number of
Cuban prostitutes soared. They didn't work only in the tourism sector.
They began operating among Cubans who owned businesses and now can be
seen in poor neighborhoods where the main source of recreation is
drinking alcohol and hiring cheap hookers."

The exact number of prostitutes is unknown. Carlos, the sociologist,
believes the figure "exceeds twenty thousand women in the entire island.
If we add the number of men who prostitute themselves, the number could
rise to thirty thousand. We must also add to this those who profit from
the trade, which include pimps, corrupt police, tourist industry
workers, people who rent out their homes, taxi drivers and
photographers. We are talking about a big business."

The boom in tourism on the island is too tempting a lure for many girls
living in truly hellish family situations. "Although most prostitutes
come from dysfunctional families, there has been in an increase in cases
of prostitution involving adolescents from decent families without
economic problems who are dazzled by the good life, easy money or the
chance to obtain a visa," says Laura, a former social worker.

It is likely that the number of foreign visitors in 2017 will exceed
four million. And if the United States Congress lifts the ban on tourism
to Cuba, the figure could be in the neighborhood of five million.

American tourists are highly sought after in Cuba. They have a
reputation for being generous with tips and other payments when taking a
woman or man to bed.

Yaité, a former prostitute now married to a German, believes "that
prices could have a rebound. In the the 1980s the rate was $100. Then,
because of the number of prostitutes and because tourists traveling to
Cuba did not have a lot of purchasing power, the rate dropped to forty
and even to thirty CUC a night. Now it could go up. An American might
pay up to 200 CUC for a young, attractive prostitute with a good body."

Elisa, a hooker, prays to her orishas* for that prediction to come true.

*Translator's note: Deities in the Yoruba religion, whose practice is
widespread in Cuba.

Source: Havana: Tourism Boom Leads to Increase in Prostitution / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -

A Not Very Smart Rejection

A Not Very Smart Rejection / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 24 September 2016 — At the end of World War II, and
after the capitualtion of imperial Japan, thousands of young Japanese of
both sexes went to the United States to study, supported by scholarships
granted by the US. This allowed them, once they graduated, to support
the accelerated development of their nation, and to leave behind the
secular backwardness in which they had lived.

The young Japanese of the time, who had suffered the horrors of the war,
were able to forget about the indoctrination against the United States,
"the enemy," that they'd been subjected to for years. And they
demonstrated that they could be modern without renouncing their roots or
their national identity.

Today Cuban young people, indoctrinated in the "socialist idiotology,"
through their "governmental student organizations — Young Communist
League, Federation of University Students, Federation of Secondary
Students, and others — and "counseled" by "retired agents" and "official
spokespeople" well known for their histories of submission and political
opportunism, reject "massively" — in public demonstrations — the
scholarships offered to them by the United States, alleging that the
only objective of this program is to convert them into
"counterrevolutionary leaders."

In reality, the ruling system in Cuba is, itself, the best school
available for teaching students to be against it.

The young people of today who thoughtlessly reject the scholarships will
regret this missed opportunity once this absurd era of failed "Messiahs"
and even worse "disciples" passes, and they will lament the lost
opportunity to support the development of their country in a healthy and
normal situation, when civic responsibility takes precedence over
politicking slogans.

The current backwardness of Cuba is not the fault of the embargo, but of
the lack of ability among its leaders and of the "socialist idiotology"
inculcated in its citizens.

Source: A Not Very Smart Rejection / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/a-not-very-smart-rejection-fernando-dmaso/

The "Savage Entrepreneurs"

The "Savage Entrepreneurs" / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 21 September 2016 — The few state restaurants that
offer varied and quality menus, along with good service, have high
prices that are totally inaccessible for the average citizen. Entrees
costing 10, 12 or more Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC: worth roughly $1
each, in a country with an average monthly wage of around $20-$24).
Sandwiches are 5 CUC, side dishes 2 CUC and desserts 3-5 CUC. Domestic
beers are 1.50 and 2.50 CUC and soft drinks, also domestic, are 1 and
1.20 CUC.

The phenomenon is the same in private establishments. Many of them
started off as more or less affordable, with prices more or less
accessible, good quality menus and also good service. Gradually they
have raised prices 50% and even 100%. So plates that used to cost 3 CUC
now cost 5, and those that used to cost 5 now cost 7 or 8 or even more.

With the drinks it's even worse. A domestic beer that used to cost no
more than 1 CUC is now 1.50, 2 and 2.50. Domestic soft drinks that were
0.55 CUC are now 1 and 1.20.

Wines and spirits, it's better not to talk about them, the prices have
skyrocketed. The same is true for desserts, which are never less than
1.50 CUC and even as much as 3 and 5 CUC, for just a wedge of cake.

These new businesspeople forgot the classic Cuban inn, where you could
eat well at affordable prices, and they only want to get rich overnight,
at the cost of emptying their customers' pockets.

It is true that Cuba today is a difficult market, depreciated and
debased, where many new entrepreneurs, "knife in hand," are ready to
flay anyone in front of them, but this, necessarily, will change and
some honest and responsible restauranteurs will prevail, earning
reasonable profits and offering quality food and good service, and
gaining the esteem and fidelity of their customers. This, no doubt, will
earn their establishments a name and prestige, as well as profits.

El Floridita, Monseñor, El Castillo de Farnés, La Zaragozana, La
Bodeguita del Medio, El Emperador, Europa, El Centro Vasco, Rancho Luna,
El Polinesio, Mandarín, Hong Kong, Wakamba, La Cibeles, América and many
other restaurants and cafes were not famous for their high prices, but
for the quality of their offerings and their magnificent service, where
there were respectful relationships between owners and customers. This
must also be present among the new "savage entrepreneurs."

Source: The "Savage Entrepreneurs" / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba
- http://translatingcuba.com/the-savage-entrepreneurs-fernando-dmaso/

Cuba And The Parable Of The Elephant

Cuba And The Parable Of The Elephant / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco

14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco, Havana, 17 September 2016 — The vagaries
of fate are unpredictable. Who would have thought ,15 years ago, when
food containers and all types of first world goods and gushing oil came
from Venezuela to Cuba, that today the Cuban collaborators in that
country would have to bring their own groceries?

The invested positions of both governments denote the great differences
between the small concessions of the general president and the

in which Nicolas Maduro wants to lock away Venezuela. Even Cuba's
relations with the United States are developing greater diplomacy today
than the bitter vituperations of the Venezuelan executive. Is there a
certain presumption from a friend in the early years of the current
century? "Is communism starting in Venezuela now, but ending in Cuba?"

Cuba, at least, without renouncing its ideology, is taking steps to move
forward. The importance of an aperture implied by the bilateral accords
coming to fruition with the United States is huge, despite the silence
of the official press; nor it is adequate to exclude the circumstantial
coincidence in an era with a US president who is sufficiently tractable
and is a facilitator of suitable arrangements. But are the limitations
that still persist and hinder the emergence of civil society on the
island objective and condemnable?

Given the recent pronouncement by the Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto,
calling the economic empowerment of Cubans on the island a plot by the
US government to destroy the Revolution, and another wisecracking friend
who said, laughing, "Imagine a caricature of Raul, up to his waist in
the economic swamp, with his left hand caressing the sorrowful faces of
those clinging to the old centralized system and his right hand making
signs to Uncle Sam behind his back to come to his aid."

We have to keep in mind, above all, the limitations of freedoms and
rights that Cubans have experienced since the sixties, their privations
still exceeding those of the other socialist governments on the
continent, no matter how tyrannical they seem. In the island there is no
opposition party and no legitimate elections, The last two generations
know nothing of freedom of the press, free labor unions, the right to
strike, the ability to generate their own wealth, etc. Only in this way
is it comprehensible that one nation has become accustomed for more than
half a century of meekness, disinformation and the lack of its
fundamental rights.

It is the parable of the circus elephant that from childhood was subject
to having his foot tied to a stake in the circus. From the time he was
young, no matter how much he pulled on the stake, he failed to pull it
out and learned to live in chains. The years passed, the elephant became
an adult, but he never tried to remove the small stake that would have
been easy to pull out.

This is also the story of the Cuban people in the Revolution: they
planted the state of fear and with it limited or eliminated their
fundamental rights. They were prohibited from feeding themselves at
their pleasure, leaving the island, acquiring wealth, saying what they
thought, dissenting from what they considered unfair… And over time,
like the chained elephant, they became accustomed to living subject to
certain unjust laws and mandates, without answers, without reason,
because one word and one man monopolized all power.

The man above any citizen, including his closest collaborators, above
the law, above reason, above God. The word revolutionary, an absolute
and obligatory qualifier, the golden key to open any kind of lock, and
its lack, the most aberrant and degrading blemish on a human being. In
that word was contained all the virtues of man, its absence contained
the vices of the world.

But the descendants of the old elephant of the parable have discovered
that the stake has deteriorated. The passage of time has eaten away its
old wood, and by nature itself, it has been pulled out. The
grandchildren of the elephant have looked up and discovered that beyond
the circus enclosure there is a horizon to walk to, to feed themselves
better, to create a herd. And the stake their grandfathers were subject
to is fragile, anachronistic, useless. The wheel attached to the foot,
but incapable of serving as a snare under any credible concept.

Times have changed. Everyone knows that the economic salvation of the
country lies with the United States. Some resist as much as they can,
juxtaposing conditions – elimination of the embargo, the Cuban
Adjustment Act, the "enemy" broadcasts and the return of the Guantanamo
Naval base.

This constantly echoes to the nation, although its well known that these
grants are dependent on a greater opening on the Cuban side, are only
discussed behind closed doors in the bilateral conversations between the
two governments.

It is similar to the game of the stingy trader who until the last minute
attempts to get one more crumb from the transaction. Ultimately, the
only correct path is a major opening to investment and American tourism,
for which they have to concede important political changes, necessarily.

But, when and how will they handle the recognition of the opposition,
respect for the dissenting demonstrations, for the mass media and the
economic empowerment of the people? This task belongs to the
grandchildren of the decrepit elephant.

Source: Cuba And The Parable Of The Elephant / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando
Junco – Translating Cuba -

Cuban Police Seize Legal Center’s Work Equipment

Cuban Police Seize Legal Center's Work Equipment / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 24 September 2016 – Friday's police assault against
the headquarters of Cubalex, Center of Legal Information, located in the
Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, resulted in the seizure of six
computers, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones. The officers
informed the lawyer Laritza Diversent that she could be accused of the
crime of "illicit economic activity," according to a report from the
activist Kirenia Yalit to this newspaper.

The headquarters of the independent group was searched on Friday,
by members of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and members of
State Security, who stormed the place breaking down the doors.

The thorough search of the building lasted until after eleven p.m. and
"when it seemed that everything was going to end and they had concluded
their interrogations" of the activists, they forced them to strip naked
"and squat to verify that there was nothing hidden in their bodies,"
said Yalit.

The independent lawyers denounce the fact that they never showed a
warrant that met the requirements for a search.

"They took everything, they just left some chairs and tables," says
Yalit, which 14ymedio was able to confirm through sources near the
site. The prosecutor who led the operation informed the attorneys that
the case "is of interest to the Attorney General of the Republic" and
that they would undertake all relevant investigations to determine
whether to proceed with an indictment against them.

Dayan Pérez Noriega, who was taken to a police station when he tried to
send Twitter messages about what was happening, was released at around
ten at night. The attorney Julio Ferrer, a member of Cubalex, remains
missing after having been intercepted by the police on Friday.

After the operation at the property was completed, the lawyers received
no immediate injunction, fines or written summons.

Attorney Laritza Diversent intends to denounce "the outrage committed,"
as she has done on previous occasions when she demanded the return of
her belongings seized by Cuban Customs at the airport.

The Legal Information Center, Cubalex, is an independent agency that has
provided free legal advice since 2010. The lawyers' group also focuses
on human rights issues. In July of this year Cuba's Ministry of Justice
rejected the application filed by the group's members for legal status
for the organization.

Source: Cuban Police Seize Legal Center's Work Equipment / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -

Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio’s Coexistence Studies Center

Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio's Coexistence
Studies Center / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 23 September 2016 — Tania de la Caridad
Reyes and her husbandYosvany Alfonso were intercepted by police in Pinar
del Río when they tried to reach the Coexistence Studies Center (CEC) to
attend the course "My Neighborhood a Community." Two police patrols
forced them to return to Cienfuegos, where they reside. On Friday the
organizers denounced the intervention by State Security, which prevented
the realization of the planned activity with various groups of civil
society to share ideas on "civic learning."

"This last month we have had nine interrogations of team
members. Finally we had to suspend the 'My Neighborhood a Community'
program, which is part of the ethical and civic project for the safety
of the participants," Dagoerto Valdes, director of the CEC, explains to

"Where in the world are people prevented from attending a course that
the only thing it does is make them better and more responsible citizens
in their community?" asks Valdes.

Reyes and Alfonso are the ones responsible for "Project New Hope," which
operates in the South Caunao neighborhood, a recently completed
residential area on the outskirts of the city of Cienfuegos. According
to the couple, under the auspices of the Czech NGO People in Need they
do training work with children and youth in the area, organize walks and
create networks to promote work in the neighborhood.

"We chose this course because ours is community work and this meeting
would allow us to obtain tools to improve our work in the neighborhood,"
Reyes told 14ymedio.

According to the activist, when they arrived at the bus station in Pinar
del Río Thursday night, three police officers in plainclothes stopped
them and made them turn off their cellphones. After allowing them to
make a call from a landline provided by the officers themselves, they
were driven to the outskirts of the city to send them to Havana.

"They stopped two tractors that make the trip to Havana and sent us
separately. They took down the license plates of the vehicles and told
the drivers they were responsible for what happened to us," says Reyes.

When they got to the capital they were left at a gas station from where
they had to get to the bus station and get "overpriced" tickets to
return to Cienfuegos. (The regular tickets are subsidized and cost about
two CUC (about $2 US), but the huge waiting list forced them to buy the
tickets under the table).

"When we learned what had happened with the group from Cienfuegos, we
decided to suspend the meeting. We advised the ecological group
Eco-Social Movement for the Protection of Nation and the Environment
(PRONATON), which sent several delegates from Sancti Spiritus, and the
Pinar del Rio group Independent and Democratic Cuba, which would also
participate in the event," explained Yoandy Izquierdo, member of the
editorial board of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence).

Izquierdo also denounced the presence of several people who were
monitoring the place where the course would be held from early in the
morning, and making it difficult for the organizers to communicate by
phone and text message.

The Coexistence Studies Center organizes training courses for
citizenship and civil society in Cuba. It has four main lines of action,
ranging from the publication of the magazine Convivencia to the debate
of ideas through reflection and study groups. It also has a
comprehensive training program and so-called micro-projects. It is a
project of the nascent Cuban civil society and its members are totally
independent of the State, the Church and any political group.

Source: Cuban State Security Prevents a Meeting of Pinar del Rio's
Coexistence Studies Center / 14ymedio, Mario Penton – Translating Cuba -

Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters

Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 23 September 2016 — The headquarters of Cubalex, The
Center of Legal Information, located in the Havana municipality of
Arroyo Naranjo, was searched by National Revolutionary Police (PNR)
officers and State Security agents on Friday, as confirmed to this
newspaper by the independent journalist Osniel Carmona.

After two in the afternoon, the police burst into the site which is also
the home of independent attorney Laritza Diversent. Until after five in
the afternoon all the phones of Cubalex members remained out of service
and access to the house was restricted by the security forces, according
to what this newspaper was able to confirm.

Seven people were inside the home at the time the search started, among
whom were Ariadna Romero, Yamara Curbelo Rodríguez, María Bonet, Teresa
Perdomo, Amado Iglesias, Diego Ricardo and Laritza Diversent herself.

During the morning Laritza Diversent had informed 14ymedio that there
was a operation "organized by State Security agents and the police"
around the house. She explained that several neighbors advised her of
the presence of "buses and patrol cars," so she feared they would
eventually get inside the house.

T"a report on the status of freedom of expression in Cuba" that she
presented "to the special rapporteur for freedom of expression" in the
city of Geneva "in mid-August."

"We feel that we are now at risk and are calling all our contacts asking
for help so that the world knows that right now our office and our
organization are at risk," the attorney warned by phone.

The activist Kirenia Yalit Núñez, a member of Cubalex who is just a few
blocks away, explained that the agency "had a judicial order but Laritza
rejected it because it wasn't valid." However, a little later "they
broke into the house with a crowbar and broke several locks."

After six in the evening the activist Teresa Perdoma was released and
she said that they had threatened Diversent with an accusation of
"illicit economic activity." The police also warned that they would take
"all the equipment, like computers, flash memories and hard drives."

She was arrested in the operation and taken to the Dayan Perez Noriega
police station, where she tried to send Twitter messages reporting what
happened. The other activists remained in the building until eight
o'clock on Friday night. Two police patrol cars guarded the entrance.

The Legal Information Center, Cubalex, is an independent entity that has
provided free legal advice since 2011. The lawyers' group also focuses
on Human Rights issues. In July of this year Cuba's Ministry of Justice
rejected the application for legal status presented by its members.

Source: Police Burst into Cubalex Headquarters / 14ymedio – Translating
Cuba -

The European Union Includes The Detention Of Cuban Dissidents In Its Annual Report

The European Union Includes The Detention Of Cuban Dissidents In Its
Annual Report / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 22 September 2016 — A report from the European Union
details that in 2015 Cuba continued "arbitrary and short-term arrests of
opposition members, activists and human rights defenders." This
situation that has led the bloc to communicate "on several occasions"
its concern to the authorities of the island.

The document, released Tuesday, collects details of the situation faced
by human rights and democracy activists around the world. In the chapter
dedicated to Cuba, the EU reports that last year it urged the Cuban
government to ratify "the United Nations Covenants on Civil and
Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights."

In particular, it underscores the EU's concern about "discrimination and
violence against women, freedom of expression and association" and calls
on the Cuban government to give "more space to the activities of civil
society" and to respect "freedom of movement" inside and outside the

EU member states have participated in "monitoring and have reported on
the use of short-term detentions and violations of freedoms of
association and assembly," says the text.

The document refers to the first EU-Cuba talks on human rights that took
place in Brussels on 25 June 2015, in which representatives of the
island pledged "to conduct future talks with the EU based on universally
recognized human rights."

The EU and Cuba held negotiations for a Political Dialogue and
Cooperation Agreement. On Thursday the European Commission has proposed
to the countries of the European Union to support the Agreement and has
requested that the EU's Common Position on Cuba – which "encourages a
process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms" – in force since 1996, be repealed.

The report explains that the EU representatives in Havana have continued
to interact with "various representatives of Cuban civil society" and
those contacts have contributed to the analysis and monitoring of the
situation of "freedom of expression and association, freedom of belief
and labor rights."

However, the text acknowledges that "holding open meetings with leading
government critics remained impossible, particularly for ministers and
senior officials from the EU and the Member States on an official visit."

The EU has maintained close contact with former prisoners of the 2003
Black Spring still residing on the island and has spoken with the Cuban
authorities on the right of the activists to leave the
country. Currently these former political prisoners are allowed to make
only one trip out of the country.

The work of the European Union in Cuba also focuses on "strengthening
the capacity of women entrepreneurs, preventing violence against women,
[and] strengthening the capacity of organizations representing people
with disabilities."

Topics such as "sex education, support for private initiative and the
entrepreneurial spirit in urban development, agriculture and energy" are
also on bloc's agenda with Cuba.

"The EU is undertaking an ongoing effort to expand the participation of
independent civil society organizations in its political and cooperative
work," the report concludes.

Source: The European Union Includes The Detention Of Cuban Dissidents In
Its Annual Report / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

Cuba’s ‘Informal Market’ is Transformed with La Chopi

Cuba's 'Informal Market' is Transformed with La Chopi / 14ymedio,
Zunilda Mata

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 21 September 2016 — On the shelves of
the markets that sell goods in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) prices have
skyrocketed and shortages have become chronic. The problem in the state
owned stores – which Cubans call "shopping," using the English word – is
aggravated by the lack of liquidity. In this situation the informal
sales networks have found an ally in technology. An application for
cellphones created by Cuban developers, facilitates access to the
informal market. Its creators have called it, with a certain irony, La
Chopi – a Cuban spelling of the word "shopping."

Conceived for iOS and Android devices, the tool combines practical
utility with an attractive and well-maintained design from the young
computer expert Pedro Govea. The menu displays the classified ads by
category, which range from home appliances to job openings in private

La Chopi, which is currently distributed free of charge through the
Weekly Packet and can also be downloaded from its own website, has built
on the experience of other classified sites such as Revolico, which help
Cubans in the difficult task of acquiring scarce merchandise, goods that
are banned or that aren't sold in its retail network.

La Chopi's offerings are some of the most diverse. Unlocked iPhones,
masseuses who promise to "relieve stress and recharge your batteries for
a hard day's work," and from wholesale acrylic nails, to products that
have never been marketed in state networks, such as satellite dishes,
visas to several Central American countries and Dalmatian puppies.

The application is like a show that goes from the sublime to the
ridiculous, covering incunabula two centuries old or drugs to
"strengthen muscles," one more display of the consumer appetite that
runs through Cuban society and their desire for the free market.

Most of the information contained in this unique online store comes from
the digital site BacheCubano.com, but it also supports ads that come
from users via email or text-only messages (SMS). The objective of its
lead programmer, Ernesto Redonet has been "facilitating sales and the
promotion of services in Cuba."

In version 1.9, La Chopi also offers the ability for users to pay for
placing advertising for their business or product, whether on the start
screen of the application, in one of the categories of offerings, or as
a featured ad. This is a trend followed, with fewer and fewer
limitations, by classified sites and apps developed on the island.

"We've gone from being afraid of advertising, to everyone wanting to
advertise," says Yusiel Ruiz, a self-taught apps developer for Android
who has worked on several projects in the Cuban market. "Cellphones are
the technology of the moment, so we focus more on products for phones
than for computers," he says.

In the private audiovisual content market Copy Pack, in Central Havana,
users acquire the popular collection of movies, telenovelas, shows and
documentaries known as the Weekly Packet. In the packet there is a file
that also contains the latest cellphone apps appearing in the market.
"La Chopi is really popular," one of the employees tells 14ymedio.

"Competition is strong because there are a lot of apps with classified
ads and promotions for services, but the only ones that will survive
will be those offering the most information and the most attractive
design," speculates Yasiel Ruiz, who is working on an app right now for
blind dates that will use text messaging to connect possible partners.

With the advent of new technologies, the black market has gone from
being a network where trust between buyer and seller was essential to
one that is more public and easygoing, like Craigslist. The state has
also wanted to participate in this battle for advertising, staring with
the publication of a tabloid called "Offerings," but independent digital
sites are still preferred.

La Chopi also reinforces the trend of apps developed by residents of the
island, particularly focusing on ones that work off-line, given the
difficulty in connecting to the internet. It's enough to copy the new
database every week, also distributed in the Weekly Packet, for the user
to get the latest ads.

"The future belongs entirely to the apps," says Ruiz convinced that the
advent of tools like La Chopi "make life easier for everyone."

Source: Cuba's 'Informal Market' is Transformed with La Chopi /
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba -

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trump's new Cuba position provokes anxiety on the island

Trump's new Cuba position provokes anxiety on the island
Updated: SEPTEMBER 21, 2016 — 12:40 PM EDT
by ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, The Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) - Donald Trump's threat to undo President Barack Obama's
detente with Cuba unless President Raul Castro abides by Trump's list of
demands is provoking widespread anxiety among ordinary Cubans, who were
paying little attention to the U.S. presidential campaign until now.

Trump had been generally supportive of Obama's reestablishment of
diplomatic ties and normalization of relations, saying he thought
detente was "fine" although he would have cut a better deal.

Then, in Miami on Friday, the Republican nominee said he would reverse
Obama's series of executive orders unless Castro meets demands including
"religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of
political prisoners." Castro said in a speech the following day that
Cuba "will not renounce a single one of its principles," reiterating a
longstanding rejection of any U.S. pressure.

While Hillary Clinton maintains an electoral college advantage, Cubans
are suddenly envisioning the possibility of a U.S. president who would
undo measures popular among virtually everyone on the island, from
hard-line communists to advocates of greater freedom and democracy.

"I don't think he'd make such a drastic decision. Or would he?" Bernardo
Toledo, a 72-year-old retired state worker, asked nervously. "It would
be disgraceful."

While the detente announced on Dec. 17, 2014 has had limited direct
impact on most ordinary Cubans, it has created feelings of optimism
about a future of civil relations with Cuba's giant neighbor to the
north. An Univision/Washington Post poll of 1,200 Cubans taken in March,
2015 found that 97 percent supported detente.

For most ordinary people in a country that's had only two leaders over
nearly six decades, and where the president's word is law, Trump's
unexpected reversal was a reminder that a single election might wipe
away those closer ties.

"All we want is to be left in peace. Isn't he thinking about our
families?" complained pharmacist Heidi Picot. "How could he do something
like this, make everybody worried?"

Still, some Cuban experts on relations with the U.S. saw the candidate
as merely pandering to anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in South Florida, and
don't believe a President Trump would follow through with his campaign
pledge. Detente is increasingly popular among Cuban-Americans and South
Florida pollsters say Trump is not ahead with them by the margins
managed by previous Republicans who've won Florida.

Hillary Clinton has declared her support for continuing Obama's policy,
which has reopened the U.S. Embassy, re-established direct flights and
removed Cuba from a list of state terror sponsors. It also has done away
with most limits on cash remittances from the U.S and increased
cooperation on topics ranging from law enforcement to public health.

"I don't think it will be very easy for Trump to reverse some things,"
former diplomat Carlos Alzugary said. "Break diplomatic relations? Put
Cuba back on the list of terrorist states? Those things are almost

Cuba's state media had been virtually silent on the U.S. presidential
campaign, seemingly uncertain of how to square the polarizing and highly
competitive race with the oft-repeated Cuban assertion that U.S.
democracy offers false choices between nearly identical corporate pawns.

Trump's statement generated an unusual amount of official coverage over
the weekend. State radio stations and other government-run media accused
the Republican of pandering to Cuban-Americans in an attempt to win
Florida's electoral votes.

A Trump reversal would fit a historical pattern, started under Jimmy
Carter, in which Democratic presidents build ties to Cuba and their
Republican successors largely undo them.

Obama has worked hard to make the opening irreversible by building
popular and corporate support at home. In Cuba, the government has
welcomed some new ties, like scientific cooperation and commercial
flights. It has stalled on others, like ferries from Florida. Some
observers believe that's because Castro's government fears building ties
that a hostile future U.S. administration could use in the interests of
regime change.

The Cuban government has given no indication of whether Trump's
statement will give new impetus to U.S.-Cuba normalization, or cause the
process to stall in what could be its last three months.

Meanwhile, Cubans remain hopeful, but increasingly worried.

"It's a way to move the economy forward, to diversify," said Yenitsia
Arango, a 34-year-old nurse. "The door's been opened to better relations
and it's not a good idea to go in reverse."

Correspondent Michael Weissenstein contributed to this report.


Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ARrodriguezAP

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mweissenstein

Source: Trump's new Cuba position provokes anxiety on the island -

Cuba and the lessons of socialism

Cuba and the lessons of socialism
By Silvio Canto, Jr.

Over time, I have learned two lessons about socialism: first, it does
not work, and second, some people just don't want to believe that it
does not work.

The story of Cuban communism, or socialism, is a good case in point.

I've run into people over the years who praise the Cuban health care
system or the so-called improvements in education.

Every time I challenge them, they refer to some report from the Cuban
government or something a college professor told them.

It is refreshing to see someone again tackle the myths of Cuba, the
self-proclaimed island paradise that is more like an island prison with
a couple of bearded brothers sitting on top.

So thumbs up to Vanesa Vallejo, a Colombian economist and columnist:

Almost 60 years later, the results of the Castro dictatorship are
appalling. Millions of Cubans have been forced to flee the island.
Thousands have died defending their political ideas, while many others
have spent decades in prison, or have been persecuted and harassed by
Castro's security services.

In the economics, the picture is no less devastating. The destruction of
private property and free trade have had no other effect than to tear
down the country's productivity. And the few areas that look prosperous,
such as tourism, only serve to ensure, using foreign currencies, the
continuity of the regime's coercive apparatus.

Castro's followers insist that the terrible results Cubans face are
compensated by an alleged welfare state that guarantees all kinds of
social benefits to its citizens. In addition, they say Cuba is a true
socialist utopia that, despite the opposition of the "empire," serves as
an example for the rest of Latin America.

To support their opinion, they mention its health and education systems,
and even the achievements of its athletes. The blame also falls on the
"embargo," with accusations that the United States prevented the
paradise island from being even more idyllic.

One of the challenges of dismantling the myths of "Fidel's paradise" is
the absence of reliable statistics. There is no independent validation
for the extraordinary coverage and quality indicators of health on the
island, which progressives often use for propaganda.

It would be very naive to believe that in a country where there is no
free press, and where people cannot express themselves against the
government without going to jail, a serious audit of the figures of the
health system are allowed.

The last point is critical. There is no objective report of any of
Cuba's health care or anything else. What you get is a summary written
by the people who don't allow you to challenge anything. There is no
free press demanding government documents. There are no investigative
reporters or any other reporters since every one works for the state media.

Change will eventually come to Cuba. We are off to a rough start
because the Obama approach has done nothing but to consolidate the
people running everything. Nevertheless, change will come someday, and
the truth of the Castro regime will be revealed. It will be an
embarrassing moment for the many carrying Castro water all of these years.

Source: Blog: Cuba and the lessons of socialism -

China, Cuba agree to deepen ties during first visit by a Chinese premier

China, Cuba agree to deepen ties during first visit by a Chinese premier
SEP 25, 2016

HAVANA – Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang met with Cuban President Raul
Castro on Saturday during a two-day trip to Havana, and the two leaders
oversaw the signing of around 30 agreements on economic cooperation in
various sectors, Cuban state media reported.

Li is the first Chinese premier to visit Cuba since the two countries
established diplomatic relations 56 years ago, although President Xi
Jinping visited in 2014.

China is Cuba's second-largest trading partner, after Venezuela. The two
countries traded $1.6 billion in the first nine months of 2015, a 57
percent increase on the same period the previous year, official Cuban
data shows.

Li said in an interview with the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma
that his trip aimed to deepen the two countries' relationship, forge new
areas of economic cooperation and "intensify the mutual political trust."

The two countries signed agreements on collaboration in the science,
environmental, industry, energy, public health and agricultural sectors,
Cuban state TV said. China also agreed to extend lines of credit for
certain projects, it added, but did not specify how much.

Cuba has become a hot destination for tourists, foreign investors and
leaders alike since the government embarked on business-friendly reforms
and Havana and Washington announced a detente nearly two years ago after
decades of hostility.

Earlier last week, Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister
to visit communist-ruled Cuba, saying he wanted to deepen the two
countries' relationship.

Li landed in Havana on Saturday and is set to leave early on Monday. No
news conference is scheduled during his visit.

Source: China, Cuba agree to deepen ties during first visit by a Chinese
premier | The Japan Times -

Cuba announces major WiFi hotspot on iconic Malecon

Cuba announces major WiFi hotspot on iconic Malecon

HAVANA (AP) – The Cuban government announced it will make five miles of
Havana's iconic seafront boulevard, the Malecon, into the largest WiFi
hotspot on the island.

State media said Wednesday that WiFi will be installed along the most
popular stretch of the Malecon by the end of the year. The seafront is a
favored spot for Cubans to gather at night to talk, drink and listen to
music in one of the world's least-connected nations.

Home internet remains illegal for most Cubans. Since last year, the
government has installed dozens of WiFi spots in public areas, charging
$2 an hour in a country where the average state salary remains about $25
a month.

Cuba said last year that it had 65 WiFi spots in service and expected 80
more to open in 2016. This month, the state telecom company ETECSA —the
only telecom company in Cuba— announced it had 200 WiFi hotspots
operating across the island.

Source: Cuba announced it will make five miles of Havana's Malecon into
a WiFi hotspot | In Cuba Today -

Brazil to Cut Cuban Doctors Program by 35%

Brazil to Cut Cuban Doctors Program by 35% / 14ymedio

14ymedio, 21 September 2016 – Brazil is seeking to be self-sufficient in
healthcare services. The program Mais Médicos (More Doctors), recently
renewed between the governments of Cuba and Brazil, which supplies
doctors for Brazil's most disadvantaged and remote areas, will be
progressively reduced, according to Brazil's Minister of Health Ricardo
Barros in an interview this Tuesday.

"We appreciate the availability of the Cubans who help us, but our
objective is not to permanently maintain this cooperation," he said.

The goal is to reduce the participation of Cuban doctors in the program
by 35%. Thus, the 11,400 Cuban personnel currently working in Brazil
would be reduced to 7,400. In 2017 the ministry intends to offer 2,000
positions to Brazilian professionals, although if the slots are not
filled they would continue to contract for Cubans.

Barros said that the program was responding to a transitional policy
that intends to meet the needs of the population, but the objective
would be to not do this with external contracts. Currently, it is
estimated that 62.5% of the professionals in the program are Cubans.

The minister said that from now on wages will be adjusted in line with
inflation and in 2017 will rise by 8.9%. The cost to Brazil for each
Cuban health care provider is $4,385 US, of which the Cuban government
keeps $3,070 and the medical professional is paid $1,315, for a year's
work. The "profit" to the Cuban government, therefore, is just short
of 35 million dollars a year. The total cost to Brazil is 49.6 million

The Cuban government has never made public the figures for the income it
earns through the export of doctors in this program, but "defectors"
from the program have confirmed that the island's governments keeps
some 70% of the salaries that Brazil pays through the mediation of the
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Source: Brazil to Cut Cuban Doctors Program by 35% / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -

Cuba - Harassment of alternative media

Cuba: Harassment of alternative media
ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA | Ciudad de México | 22 de Septiembre de 2016 - 14:05

A new fight against the demons of censorship is being waged these days
in Cuba. In a feverish damage control operation, the Cuban authorities
and their organic propagandists have accused various media and
journalists of being "Trojan Horses, funded by the enemy." Authorities
are busy assassinating reputations of members of the alternative press,
citing the criminal and labor codes or simply sending their dark agents
to warn —in situ or through social-networks— that some kind of
superhuman anger will break loose from Olympus.

Those beleaguered by official harassment share common features. They are
mostly young journalists who use online media to convey news of daily
life in fresh reports and chronicles combined with columns of opinion
and, above all, with a commitment to investigative journalism of high
ethical caliber that meets civic and aesthetic standards. Avoiding
traditional approaches of political media accustomed to sing praises of
the performance of rulers or dissenters, these postmodern minstrels of
the people 2.0 tell about the problems of neighborhoods without water,
of forest ecocide and the official perversion of cultural festivals.
With resources obtained from crowd founding and some limited
sponsorships, scholarships and personal savings, they try to do decent
and creative journalism in a situation in which the role of the press
has been perverted by the ideological propaganda of the old bureaucrats
and, to a lesser extent, by the public relations agendas of the new
rich. The alternative media struggling to change this situation have
earned the respect of icons of global journalism such as J. Lee Anderson
and Ernesto Londoño.

The perversity and stupidity underlying the official censorship campaign
are, like the universe, infinite and expanding. By seeing the world only
with their Stalinist eyes, they can't see other referents than the old
Soviet Pravda and are blind to relevant models like the dynamic
Huffington Post. They pretend to pass as alternative media what are
really irrelevant approaches that can no longer command attention, in
order to summon support for the Revolution from an Internet that is
simply not available to the majority of Cubans. They pretend to dive
vertically, from above, over networks that are intended for an open
society and that can only be surfed horizontally. Their role models are
in Pyongyang and Harare.

I have two questions regarding this general offensive against
alternative media. Why do the usual agents of "Soft Insular Power"
(ex-diplomats, ex-cops and ex-intellectuals) who not long ago celebrated
these online media now remain silent when an opposition press that they
consider unfair uses them? And why insist today, as some of them do, on
what these alternative journalists did or did not do when facing other
situations in the past? Power prevails through fragmentation. The
important thing is to denounce, with solidarity, the official attacks on
people who are learning to do journalism from the passions of their
daily lives.

Source: Cuba: Harassment of alternative media | Diario de Cuba -

The regime blocked a meeting of trade unionists who sought to create a broad and independent coalition

The regime blocked a meeting of trade unionists who sought to create a
broad and independent coalition
DDC | La Habana | 21 de Septiembre de 2016 - 21:47 CEST.

The spokesman for the Independent Trade Union Coalition, Iván Hernández
Carrillo, reported that State Security deployed forces on Tuesday to
thwart a meeting of several trade unionists seeking to unify the
Island's three historic trade unions.

"We had a meeting organized to finalize the details," Hernández Carrillo

The meeting, however, could not be held because several activists were
arrested, others besieged in their homes and threatened, and one, at
least, has apparently disappeared, said the union activist

Among those detained was Ariadna Mena Rubio, while another activist,
Aimé Cabrera, "was threatened with arrest if she left her house."

The whereabouts of three activists summoned to the meeting are still
unknown. "Their phones are switched off or without coverage, suggesting
that they may have been arrested, but this has not been confirmed,"
explained Hernández Carrillo.

In the case of Ariadna Mena, said the activist, "her relatives do not
know where they have taken her. She was intercepted after dropping her
daughters off at school." Also detained for four hours was the unionist
Alejandro Sánchez.

The venue where the meeting was to be held was surrounded by
plainclothes police officers.

Hernández Carrillo, meanwhile, explained that he managed to elude the
siege he faced in Matanzas.

The unionist regretted that State Security was able to foil a meeting
whose purpose was to "unite the three organizations and make union work
in Cuba stronger, more solid, and more united."

This unit, he added, "intends to join forces to achieve what we are
looking for: real changes within the Cuban nation, which lead to the
rule of law, and where all workers enjoy rights, including that to
organize freely."

"The political police," said Hernández, "insists that it will not allow
this to happen. We are going to work to achieve our goal."

Source: The regime blocked a meeting of trade unionists who sought to
create a broad and independent coalition | Diario de Cuba -