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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'She lied all along' - Quebec man claims Cuban marriage a nightmare

'She lied all along': Quebec man claims Cuban marriage a nightmare
JEAN-FRANCOIS RACINE, QMI AGENCY
FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 05:40 AM MDT | UPDATED: MONDAY,
SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 05:55 AM MDT

MONTREAL- A Quebec man says he's out $90,000 after falling in love with
a Cuban woman, marrying her, and moving her to Canada.

He also claims that when she arrived, she was pregnant with another
man's baby and left him after six days.

Michel Beaudry told QMI Agency that he wants to share his story to help
other Canadians avoid making the same mistake.

The 62-year-old met a 25-year-old woman while on an all-inclusive Cuban
vacation in March 2013.

"At first," said Beaudry, "I thought it was impossible that she would
want to be with me."

The relationship blossomed, bolstered by Beaudry making about 10 trips
to Cuba to visit. They married in September 2013.

In June 2014, his wife was given permission by the Canadian government
to move to Canada.

From the first day, she explained to Beaudry that she didn't want to
lead a normal married life with him.

"She said she loved me like a father figure. I slept on the sofa while
she slept in my room."

Beaudry says his wife also announced she was pregnant. He had a
vasectomy, and knew he could be responsible for a child that wasn't his.

Six days after her arrival, she asked for $50,000 to buy a home for her
relatives in Cuba. When Beaudry refused, she packed her bags and left.

"She lied all along," said Beaudry. "She only wanted money."

Reynaldo Marquez, Beaudry's lawyer, told QMI that they are seeking an
annulment of the marriage. "I want her to leave the country," Beaudry said.

Source: 'She lied all along': Quebec man claims Cuban marriage a
nightmare | Canada | Ne -
http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/09/15/she-lied-all-along-quebec-man-claims-cuban-marriage-a-nightmare

Monday, September 15, 2014

Solidarity or Propaganda?

Solidarity or Propaganda? / Fernando Damaso
Posted on September 15, 2014

I wish I could be happy about the quick response by the Cuban government
to the request for assistance from the World Health Organization and the
UN general secretary in their efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic, but
I cannot.

I am all too aware of the deteriorating state of our hospitals, the lack
of hygiene, the poor medical care — provided mainly by students rather
than doctors — the poor nutrition provided to patients, the shortage of
drugs and many other problems.

I am referring, of course, to the medical centers which serve the
average Cuban, which are the majority, not to the specialized centers
catering to foreigners, VIPs or people who can pay for their services in
hard currency.

A similarly rapid response should be applied to the serious problems
that have afflicted our health care system for years. We make the
mistake of trying to solve the world's problems without due regard for
our own. This seems to have paid off in that at least it generates a lot
of free propaganda.

However, no one who speaks or writes about the magnificent Cuban health
system has had to have their illnesses or those of their loved ones
treated here. Furthermore, many Cuban bigwigs prefer to seek treatment
in other countries, even that of the enemy. There must be some reason
for this.

At a press conference in Geneva, Cuba's minister of public health took
the opportunity to propagandize about the country's achievements and to
emphasize yet again how many medical personnel have provided and are now
providing care in other countries.

He also talked about the thousands of overseas volunteer workers, though
without mentioning how much Cuba charges in dollars for this service —
currently one of the country's main sources of foreign exchange — or how
doctors, nurses and other specialists are not being properly paid.

At one point during the press conference the minister stated that the
Revolution did not wait for its health services to be developed before
beginning to provide assistance to other peoples.

He neglected to mention that Cuba's health services were already
well-developed before 1959 and were among the best not only in the
Caribbean but in all of Latin America. One need only look to official
statistics from international organizations of the time to confirm this.

Given these questions, I am concerned that what we are dealing with here
has more to do with propaganda than with solidarity.

September 2014

Source: Solidarity or Propaganda? / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/solidarity-or-propaganda-fernando-damaso/

Absurdities of the Week

Absurdities of the Week / Fernando Damaso
Posted on September 14, 2014

Cuba is like an exaggerated version of the fictional village Macondo,*
as is clear to anyone with half a brain. For evidence of this, one need
only spend a few minutes reading the country's state-controlled press.

On Monday new customs regulations went into effect. On Tuesday there
were articles by two of our seasoned journalists, who reported how
successful these measures were, so much so that they had both travelers
and customs officials applauding in unison. It is striking how effective
these regulations turned out to be, and in such a short period of time,
especially if we consider that it took a full year and a trial run in
three provinces to lower the price of natural gas and distribute it for
free.

The International Freedom for the Five Day — there are now only three of
them — has occupied the front pages of the two main state-run
newspapers. This year it will run until October 6, with vigils, marches,
exhibitions, book sales, an international symposium, and demonstrations
at universities, community centers and workplaces. This will include an
event dubbed Kids Paint for Peace in which "all the nation's children,"
which can be interpreted to mean "all children without exception," will
paint asphalt and and fly kites in support of the Five.

It seems that all is going well considering that this campaign will
represent the loss of vast amounts of time – including that of private
citizens — and a waste of resources in pursuit of a new national
pastime. If the state-run media is to be believed, this issue is of
concern not only to Cubans on the island but to Cubans throughout the
world. Please, let's not get carried away! Remember that overstatement
usually ends up being counterproductive.
As though that were not enough, it seems we must now celebrate the 69th
anniversary of Fidel Castro's college admission, the tenth anniversary
of his historic speech at the Aula Magna and the fifth anniversary of
his address to university students warning them of the threat of
extinction to the human race. Remembrance has its place, but I do not
remember any remembrance of the day on which Carlos Manuel de Céspedes,
Ignacio Agramonte or José Martí — to mention three examples — began
their university studies, much less a remembrance of many of their truly
historic speeches.

It seems that a large segment of today's Cuban youth — at least the ones
who appear in the official media — find time to commemorate almost any
event. Many years ago the cult of personality as practiced in other
countries of the former Soviet bloc was severely criticized here. In
light of all the damage it caused, people swore this would never happen
in Cuba. Has this been forgotten? It might be a good idea to remind our
young student leaders of this.

It is noteworthy that this summer, which was certainly quite a hot one,
there were no new measures taken to stimulate the economy, unless you
count the new customs regulations. We hope that September brings some
new changes, though they are unlikely to meet the expectations of most
Cubans. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing, even if it comes
in dribs and drabs.

*Translator's note: The setting of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia
Marquez' novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

6 September 2014

Source: Absurdities of the Week / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/absurdities-of-the-week-fernando-damaso-2/

Pot With Missing Cord Doesn’t Come With a Guarantee

Pot With Missing Cord Doesn't Come With a Guarantee / 14ymedio, Regina
Coyula
Posted on September 14, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Regina Coyula, 8 September 2014 — Tiendas
Panamericanas [Panamerican Stores], owned by the CIMEX corporation, has
just launched a grand (for Cuban national standards) shopping center.
Utilizing the building formerly occupied by the old towel factory,
Telva, on the corner of 26th Avenue and Calzada del Cerro street, a side
addition was built, doubling the space. The opening of Puentes Grandes
has been well received, being that until now only small stores have
existed in that neighborhood, and the closest shopping centers — La
Puntilla, Galerias Paseo, and Plaza Carlos III — are located about two
miles away.

Spurred by curiosity, I visited Puentes Grandes last Saturday. Hundreds
of people had flocked to the place. There was a line at the handbag
security station, because bags and purses are not allowed inside stores
that take convertible currency. There was another line at the entrance.
We were going on half an hour already. In other circumstances I would
have left, but resisted the impulse just to be able to write this
article. Finally, I went through a narrow entryway where, as always, are
those who wait, and those other, clever ones who butt the line. The
interior entrance is quite spacious, with metal shopping carts, and
other cute small plastic carts on wheels for which I predict a brief,
happy life, and baskets. All is set up for the customer to select his
purchases; merchandise is kept behind the counter in the perfume and
household appliance departments.

A large interior arcade connects the grocery and housewares area with
the hardware department, where I was detained by an employee. To go from
one area to the other, you have to now go outside and re-enter, even
though just days before you could walk directly between departments and
check out at any register. Why is this? The employee doesn't know, but
he was assigned there to enforce the trajectory. I had placed various
items in my cart, then had to stand at the register line, go outside,
stand in another line to leave my purchases at the handbag security
station, then go stand in another line to enter the hardware area.

Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don't know
whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD
factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been
on the market. At the exit of every Cuban store there is always an
employee who compares purchases to sales slips

Employee: "You're missing the guarantee for the pressure cooker."

Me: "And where do I get that?"

Employee: "In Household Appliances."

Back at Household Appliances, the young (all the employees are very
young) lady told me "no," in that overly-familiar, faux-affectionate way
that many mistake for kindness:

"Mami (Mom), do you see a power cord in this pot? My department is
*electrical* household appliances. The guarantee is given at the register."

The check-out girl assured me that she had no guarantee certificates at
the register, that it was at Household Appliances where I had to obtain one.

Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don't know
whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD
factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been
on the market.

I know how to be patient. Besides, this ridiculous episode was prime
material for my article. I returned to Household Appliances, where I
told "my daughter" (she had called me, "Mami," right?) if she knew the
meaning of "back-and-forth." The girl gamely took my pressure cooker and
marched over to the register. The ensuing argument over the pot without
a power cord was priceless. A half hour was spent on that silliness,
just to conclude in the end that the guarantee for the pressure cooker
is the sales slip.

I asked to speak with the management because it is inconceivable to me
that a business can operate in this manner. The manager was not
available, but there were various people in his office who turned out to
be his superiors. I'm not going to repeat my complaint here — you can
put two-and-two together and imagine it. The interesting thing is what
those officials, who have been spending opening week in a kind of
mobilization mode, told me.

For almost all the personnel in the store, this is their first work
experience. The cash register system is new, the check-out staff do not
understand it very well, and the registers frequently get stuck,
producing electrical overloads that trigger the circuit breakers,
leaving whole zones of the shopping center in the dark. On opening day
they had to suspend a children's event. Adults and children were run
over by the crowd, and nothing less than a sacking of the place
occurred, what with many people taking advantage of a power outage to
eat and drink for free in the food court. From the hardware area there
even disappeared an electric drill, among other, less valuable items.
The neighbors (not the officials) say that even a flat-screen TV went
out the door without being paid for.

These officials, who themselves are retail veterans, expressed amazement
at the level of theft they are encountering here. For example, they told
me that on Friday (the day prior to my visit), they had surprised five
people in the act of thievery; two customers had had their handbags
stolen inside the store and one other in the adjoining cafeteria; and
all of this is in addition to the disappearance of many small objects
from the shelves. They told me that they had never had such a hard time
at any other store, not even at Ultra, which is located in a
densely-populated and troubled area of Central Havana.

The solution (?) has been to divide the two areas of the shopping
center, creating an inconvenience for the customer which I don't think
will solve the theft problem, because the cause of this phenomenon has
to be sought outside the store.

I thanked the officials for their friendly explanation. However, as long
as the customer of this center remains nothing more than an annoyance to
the staff, the oversized photo at the door of the smiling young woman
promoting efficient service and customer satisfaction will be just one
more Kafkaesque detail of the whole picture.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Pot With Missing Cord Doesn't Come With a Guarantee / 14ymedio,
Regina Coyula | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/pot-with-missing-power-cord-regina-coyula/

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cuba denies access to Ernest Hemingway’s fishing records

Cuba denies access to Ernest Hemingway's fishing records
Team of US marine scientists on a tour with the author's grandsons
'return empty-handed'
SAM MASTERS Sunday 14 September 2014

A quest to access potentially invaluable fishing logs kept by Ernest
Hemingway in Cuba appeared to have failed yesterday, after US
researchers attempting to gain knowledge of over-fishing were denied
access to the materials collated by the Nobel Prize-winning author.

A team of US marine scientists on a tour with the author's grandsons,
John and Patrick Hemingway, had hoped to access the his logs of fishing
in the Florida Straight.

"He was a fisherman," said Patrick Hemingway of his grandfather last
week. "He considered them his brothers."

But Cuba's National Cultural Heritage Council denied the team access to
the records. And yesterday they were reported to have returned home
empty handed.

"Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman," wrote Hemingway in his ode
to game fishing off the Cuba coast, The Old Man and the Sea. "But that
was the thing that I was born for."

Dr David Die, a US-based fishery scientist, said: "Hemingway was there
in Cuba for 20 years. If he did keep log books for that long, having 20
years – even if it is only for a single vessel – would be very valuable.

"It would be a record of relative changes in the size and the abundance
of fish over a period where we do not have any other records. It's
exactly the type of information that we use nowadays when we assess
populations of fish in the ocean."

The logs are thought to contain enough details about Hemingway's decades
of game fishing to help measure how populations of sport fish such as
marlin have declined because of overfishing.

Researchers gathered little empirical data in the years before
industrial fishing devastated populations of tuna and other highly
desired big species in the second half of the 20th century.

Hemingway lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1960 at Finca Vigía, a villa in the
village of San Francisco de Paula on the southeast edge of Havana. From
Cojimar, he often launched his boat, the Pilar, with first mate Gregorio
Fuentes, who helped inspire the ageing fisherman who battles a giant
marlin in The Old Man and the Sea.

Source: Cuba denies access to Ernest Hemingway's fishing records -
Americas - World - The Independent -
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cuba-denies-access-to-ernest-hemingways-fishing-records-9731619.html

SA-Cuba medical doctor programme to increase output

SA-Cuba medical doctor programme to increase output
Saturday 13 September 2014 20:36
Kabelo Molope

The South African Cuba programme which trains South Africans as doctors
in Cuba, will expand nearly tenfold over the next five years.

The programme aims to avert the critical shortage of doctors, especially
in rural areas.

The next group of students to head to the Caribbean island country will
be a group from the North West.

Cuba has 25 medical schools which produce 11 000 doctors annually.

South African graduates are posted to under-resourced medical facilities.

Former Cuban medical student, Dr. Tshepo Lekone says, "I've experienced
that more doctors are needed since I'm working in a level 2 hospital in
Mahikeng. The Cuban program has produced a lot of doctors that are
currently working with me here."

Students are recruited from disadvantaged communities.

North West Health MEC, Dr. Magome Masike says, "Most of them come from
rural areas where it is difficult to attract doctors, especially young
ones. Most of the students, who are going to Cuba, come from those
areas. They understand that it is their uncles, their mothers; it is
their relatives that need them most."

The partnership was initiated by former President Nelson Mandela and
former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Source: SA-Cuba medical doctor programme to increase output : Saturday
13 September 2014 -
http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/23b072804575e1d6aa1cafc7c599c9eb/SA-Cuba-medical-doctor-programme-to-increase-output-

Obama should go to summit - and challenge Cuba

Posted on Saturday, 09.13.14

Andres Oppenheimer: Obama should go to summit - and challenge Cuba
BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
AOPPENHEIMER@MIAMIHERALD.COM

President Barack Obama's biggest upcoming diplomatic challenge in Latin
America will be whether to attend the 34-country Summit of the Americas
alongside Cuban leader Raúl Castro, who has been invited by the host
country — Panama — over U.S. objections. I think Obama should go, and do
something really bold there.

Before we get into what exactly Obama should do, let's recall that the
United States opposes Cuba's participation at this meeting because the
2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec agreed by consensus that "strict
respect for the democratic system" is an "essential condition of our
presence at this and future summits."

But Panama, which will host the summit in April 2015, has said it will
invite Cuba at the request of all other Latin American countries, which
voted at a recent Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly
to demand Cuba's presence without preconditions at the 2015 Summit.
Venezuela and several other countries have already said that they will
not attend if Cuba is not present.

The U.S.-sponsored Summits of the Americas, which are held every three
or four years, are the only such meetings in which U.S. presidents meet
with all Latin American leaders and try to set a common agenda. In
recent years, Brazil and Venezuela have created other regional
institutions — such as UNASUR and Celac — that exclude the United
States, and thus leave Washington out of regional summits.

So Obama faces a tough choice: if he shows up at the meeting alongside
Castro, critics on the right in Washington will accuse him of
"unilateral surrender" to Cuban-Venezuelan diplomacy. They will say that
Obama abdicated the U.S. defense of democratic values in the region.

On the other hand, if Obama doesn't go to Panama, other critics will
accuse him of effectively killing the last diplomatic arena in which the
United States has some leverage in Latin America.

Richard Feinberg, a former Clinton White House official who was a key
architect of the first Summit of the Americas held in Miami in 1994,
told me that "If President Obama does not attend the Panama summit and
sends a stand-in, even if it's Vice President Joe Biden, that's the
collapse of inter-American summits, and yielding the playing field to
the Cubans, Venezuelans and Brazilians."

When I asked U.S. officials what the Obama administration plans to do,
State Department spokeswoman Angela Cervetti told me that "the United
States respects that Panama is the host of the next Summit, and the
issue of which countries it invites is one for the Panamanian government
to decide."

But she immediately added that the 2001 Summit in Quebec agreed that
only democratic nations should attend, and that "we should not undermine
Summit commitments previously made, but instead should encourage
democratic change in Cuba." My translation: The administration has not
yet decided what to do.

What are Obama's options? If he decides not to go to Panama out of
principle, or in order not to enrage Cuban-American voters in Florida
and New Jersey ahead of the 2016 elections, he could send Biden. Problem
is, Biden may be running for president, and he will be the last one to
want to be photographed alongside Castro before the elections.

Another option for Obama would be trying to set conditions for Cuba's
participation, such as that the island make some gesture toward a
political opening. But that won't fly either, because Latin American
countries agreed at the recent OAS meeting that Cuba should be invited
without any strings attached.

Lastly, Obama could accept Cuba's participation at the Summit as an
"observer country," arguing that China and Russia are already OAS
observer countries, and Cuba's addition wouldn't amount to a big deal.
But, again, Latin American countries demand that Cuba be invited as a
full member, arguing that a 2009 vote at the OAS cleared the way for
Cuba's return to the inter-American diplomatic community.

My opinion: Obama should put in motion some creative diplomacy. He
should attend the summit, and cede half of the time at his opening
speech to a prominent Cuban dissident — someone like Cuban blogger Yoani
Sanchez — to steal the show from Cuba's aging military dictator.

The Cuban speaker would have an unparalleled public podium to tell the
world about the government repression and poverty that the Cuban people
have been suffering for the past five decades. That way, Obama could
save the summit, argue that he is entitled to use his speaking time as
he wishes, and defend the principle of democracy in the region.

Source: Andres Oppenheimer: Obama should go to summit - and challenge
Cuba - Andres Oppenheimer - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/13/4344892/andres-oppenheimer-obama-should.html

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Of Freebies and Schools

Of Freebies and Schools / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
Posted on September 13, 2014

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 12 September 2014 – The school bell
rings and the children enter the classroom followed by their parents.
The first day of classes triggers joy, although a few tears are shed by
some who miss their homes. That's what happened to Carla, who just
started kindergarten at a school in Cerro. The little girl is lucky
because she got a teacher who has taught elementary school for several
years and has mastered the content. "What luck!" some of the little
one's family members think, just before another mother warns them, "But
beware of the teacher, she demands every student bring her a bit of a
snack from home."

On the afternoon of September 1, the first parent meeting took place.
After the introductions and welcoming remarks, the teacher enumerated
everything that the classroom was lacking. "We have to raise money for a
fan," she said, unsmiling. Carla had already suffered from the morning
heat, so her mother gave the 3 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) that was
her daughter's share, so she would have a little breeze while studying.
"We also need to buy a broom and mop for cleaning, three fluorescent
tubes for the lights, and a trash can," said the teaching assistant.

A list of requests and needs added some disinfectant for the bathroom,
"Because we don't want the flu," said the teacher herself. The total
expenditures began to grow, and a lock was added, "So that no one steals
things when there's no one in the school." A father offered some green
paint to paint the blackboard, and another offered to fix the hinges on
the door, which was lopsided. "I recommend that you buy the children's
notebooks on the street because the ones we received to hand out this
year are as thin as onion skin and tear just by using an eraser," the
teacher added.

After the meeting Carla's family calculated some 250 Cuban pesos in
expenses to support the little girl's education, half the monthly salary
of her father, who is a chemical engineer. Then the school principal
came to the meeting and rounded it off with, "If anyone knows a
carpenter and wants to hire him to fix their child's desk, feel free."

Source: Of Freebies and Schools / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez | Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/of-freebies-and-schools-14ymedio-yoani-sanchez/

Rebuilding Cubans as Individuals

Rebuilding Cubans as Individuals
September 12, 2014
By Alejandro Armengol*

HAVANA TIMES — Even though studies and conferences about the rebuilding
of a post-Castro Cuba abound, this transformation has never been
analyzed in any depth from the point of view of the individual.

Urgently taking on the study about the means that will allow Cubans to
change and become individuals capable of facing the challenges and
benefits of a democratic State and civil society is as pressing a task
as debating over the economic and political bases that are to sustain
the Cuban nation of the future.

Impelling such a process from within Cuba's current regime is
impossible. Though efforts to establish the foundations of a civil
society in Cuba under the current situation are commendable, these
efforts are for the most part limited if not utopian. No civil society
could be built in Nazi Germany, fascist Italy or the communist Soviet
Union. That came later.

The comparison may seem disproportionate for some – in part, if one
considers the war these European nations experienced, or the subsequent
Cold War faced by the USSR, it is – but, when one focuses on the
characteristics of a totalitarian system, most differences tend to
vanish. To speak of establishing civil structures, groups and
institutions that are truly separate from the State – and not of
necessity pitted against the government – in today's Cuba is as
nonsensical as suggesting this be tried in North Korea.

This, however, does not stand in the way of studying the slow and
inevitable evolution towards this end, a process which, in Cuba's case,
is characterized by the development of an increasingly porous border
between the island and its counterpart, Miami.

Here, in contrast to North and South Korea, we cannot speak of a nation
divided into two States. We are faced, rather, with an ever-more
deteriorated country and a refuge established in a republic that is at
once similar and different (ultimately, Cuban émigrés living in Miami
abide by US laws).

Beyond the superficial similarity caught sight in the fact that South
Korea directly and indirectly offers North Koreans economic aid so that
they will be less hungry and miserable, Cubans living on the island and
in the United States have become closer to one another in the course of
years and these ties are transcending ideological and political
differences (whose extremes are becoming more and more obsolete at both
ends) every day.

In this sense, attempts in Miami at establishing the bases for a "future
Cuba", let alone a government for tomorrow's Cuba, are as absurd as the
pretext of the "besieged fortress" one still hears at Havana's
Revolution Square, and, with time, have become mere comical references
to an abandoned project.

The New Émigrés

In the course of 55 years, Cubans have evolved into two groups with
significant differences and similarities. One group, the majority, has
remained in the country. The other has made a new life for itself abroad.

For years, the Cuban government has been repeating that émigrés leave
Cuba for economic reasons. This argument has been echoed in Miami. Here,
we are also told on a daily basis that those who have arrived in the
country in recent years have come in search of a better life and not for
ideological reasons. In that always ironic convergence of extremes, a
discourse that points to the immigrant who is solely interested in their
wellbeing and not in any ideal of freedom begins to take shape on both
coasts.

There is some truth to these claims, insofar as there is a growing
tendency among the new émigrés to distance themselves from all forms of
"politicization" (having grown tired of hearing these kinds of
discourses) and to prioritize family values or maintain previous
personal ties, and even customs, with which those who arrived before the
1990s were, for the most part, obliged to break off.

There are however differences that remain, even though these are
overlooked or deliberately ignored in our daily lives. This could be
described simply by saying that Cubans go back to Cuba but never
actually return. Those who do – as in the case of the occasional
musician – are the exception that turns the event into news.

The most significant difference between Cubans within and without Cuba
is that those who have emigrated to the United States or other countries
live in countries with capitalist, market economies and democratic
governments, while those who have remained in Cuba of their own will or
reasons beyond their control are obliged to adapt to the circumstances
that prevail in a totalitarian society based on communist tenets
(though, in practice, the ideological terminology has evolved and the
prevailing system is the facade of a regime whose sole interest is
surviving at all costs).

Beyond the possibility of expressing oneself freely – and without facing
any repercussions, for the most part – under capitalism and the
generalized censorship of a system that continues to call itself
socialist, what has the greatest impact upon individuals is the sense
that they are not in control of their own lives.

Escape Valve

For the time being, leaving the country continues to be the escape valve
chosen by those living on the island. Neither the increase in travel and
sending of remittances between the two countries nor Cuba's new
migratory laws have put an end to the exodus of Cubans, who leave the
country on vessels and other means considered illegal by Havana and
other governments (save in such exceptional cases envisaged by the still
effective "wet foot / dry foot" policy).

In addition, leaving Cuba is, in most cases, no longer considered an
attack on the regime, but rather a family or personal affair.

This tendency to regard the migratory process through the lens of family
or personal concerns (and, as such, depoliticitzed), however, serves a
political aim.

What the Cuban government is actually after is a twofold benefit: to
receive revenue through those who settle abroad and continue to help the
relatives they left behind and to widen the social and political blowoff
valve. Like Havana, Washington also acts in accordance with its national
interests: to maintain social and political stability 90 miles from
Cuban coasts, without looking for any additional trouble. Ultimately,
that has more weight than any declaration in favor of democracy in Cuba.

For many years, migratory policies have been used as political
instruments by both the United States and Cuba, and this has not
changed. This has benefitted many Cubans, but not without a number of costs.

Over time, Havana and Washington have offered different answers to the
phenomenon of Cuban immigrants. They are two very different countries
that share a common problem, while thousands of desperate people
continue to look for a better life. Of course we should not condemn
anyone for wanting to have a better life, particularly if one has done
exactly the same.

It is the country of origin that is suffering ever greater damage from
the point of view of its future independence, not only political but
also social, the danger of disintegration, chaos and violence that looms
ever more threateningly over Cuban society.

A Volatile Stage

An extremely volatile situation – which the government has managed to
control through repression and promises – has been taking shape in Cuba
over recent years. Though repression is generalized, it manifests itself
more visibly when applied on dissidents.

The regime is not only capable of keeping dissidents divided – that
hasn't been news for years – but also of ensuring that the small
protests and acts of civil disobedience that take place on a daily basis
do not acquire larger dimensions. The dissidents still prove incapable
of guiding or organizing the nationwide feeling of discontent and the
government has not made any significant progress in terms of alleviating
the prevailing poverty in the country. In this sense, we can speak of
stagnation both within the opposition and government, whose reforms make
such slow progress that it could well be said they aren't moving at all.

All of this increases the chances of a social upheaval. Should such a
violent fragmentation of society take place and regardless of its
outcome, taking advantage of the chaos and the use of force as a
solution to daily problems will likely become a behavioral pattern that
will be adopted by part of the island's population. This behavior will
limit or thwart social progress, as is the case in Haiti today.
Manipulation would cease to be institutionalized, as is the case now,
and would become the work of small groups of thugs, demagogues and
politickers.

Should a social upheaval take place – and we must stress that the
situation of Cuban society is ever more like a boiler gaining more and
more pressure – people will not take to the streets to demand political
liberties (the moment for that has passed), but to vent their social and
economic frustration.

From the economic point of view, and contrary to what people may
suppose, a general worsening of the country's economic situation need
not be the catalyst for these more or less generalized protests. The
country's growing social differences, which become starker every day,
are what could light the fuse.

Despite the extreme limitations they face in their efforts (chiefly owed
to the vigorous forms of repression applied on them), Cuban dissidents
have not only warned of this danger but have done everything possible to
avoid reaching such a chaotic situation, after which it would be very
difficult to carry out the task of rebuilding Cubans as individuals. The
government of the Castro brothers, on the other hand, is intent on
leaving only chaos behind following its disappearance.

Every day there are more and more signs that reveal that part of Cuba's
population is willing to carry out violent acts – or is unable to
control its passions and base instincts – and that it reacts to the
simplest of stimuli. It is that sector of the population that willingly
participates in public reprisals against dissidents, in which they are
guided and controlled by a group of repressive agents. That is to say,
they are not even at the level of professionals of violence: they are
mere, circumstantial thugs.

In the more or less immediate future, following the disappearance of the
Castros, gang members, extortionists, people who abuse power and even
murderers will come out of the ranks of that sector, to meet the demand
for delinquents and violent people that the different groups involved in
illegal activities (now flourishing on the island) will have.

The rise in criminal activity is not the only danger that lurks ahead of
us in connection with these unscrupulous individuals who currently find
satisfaction in and take advantage of their participation in repressive
activities.

The main problem is the existence of a population accustomed to living
under a totalitarian regime that will soon find itself incapable of
living in freedom and assuming the responsibilities this entails. Those
who deal the blows today will be the maladjusted individuals of tomorrow.

Getting to know how people who have survived in a country in ruins for
too long think and act involves exploring a world that is broader than
our current political discussions. Studying the conduct of part of the
island's population that will limit or prevent social progress in the
future goes beyond the anecdote, the timely chronicle or the report on
the island's most recent shortage. It is of course not an easy task and
there are practically no means of carrying out such studies. That,
however, should not prevent us from sounding the alarm and continuing to
worry about this situation.

Source: Rebuilding Cubans as Individuals - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106124

Shortages to Continue in Cuban Stores

Shortages to Continue in Cuban Stores
September 12, 2014

HAVANA TIMES – When a Cuban goes shopping they never know what they will
find on store shelves. There may be plenty of some unaffordable luxury
products and acute shortages of basic necessities.

In the centralized system, government buyers purchase for millions of
Cubans. Consumer satisfaction is a factor rarely taken into account,
since the monopoly on the import and marketing protects the state companies.

Today we publish a report from Café Fuerte on the current shortages of
many basic products in the country. We recognize that if the situation
is distressing in the capital in the provinces and municipalities it is
even worse.

Cuban Government Explains Shortages of 25 Basic Products
By Cafe Fuerte

Havana's Puentes Grandes Commercial Center, located at the busy
interesection of 51 and 56 streets.
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government has acknowledged that the shortage
and unstable supply of products sold through its retail network is
chiefly owed to a lack of the financial resources needed to guarantee
the production or import of these articles, adding that sanctions were
recently applied in cases in which such deficient market offers "had no
justification."

The Ministry for Domestic Trade (MINCIN) issued an open letter
recognizing that the shortage of some twenty food and personal hygiene
products at retail stores had been caused by a number of factors,
ranging from "the lack of financial resources needed to guarantee the
production or import of products during the first months of the year" to
"failure to comply with discipline and the established norms."

It pointed out that "administrative and disciplinary measures" have been
taken in certain cases evaluated, where there was no justification for
the product shortage, as "the production conditions were present and the
country had made the needed financial resources available."

MINCIN issued this missive in response to a report published on August
27 by Cuba's main official newspaper, Granma, following increasingly
frequent complaints by the population over the shortage of basic
products at hard currency stores and State industrial product markets.
The article stated that product shortages have become a "chronic
phenomenon" in the country, despite attempts by industry to meet
production plans and efforts by retail chains to compensate for
unbalances through imports.

Potatoes, Juice and Toilet Paper

The list of under stocked products includes potatoes, fruit juices,
salt, domestically produced beers, toilet paper, toothbrushes, matches
and plastic bags.

Though MINCIN insists efforts to stabilize the supply of numerous
products for the remainder of the year are being made, the panorama
described does not appear to point to an immediate solution to the under
stocking of Cuban markets.

"With the import of some raw materials and supplies, it has been
possible to resume some production processes in the country and ensure a
more stable supply of high-demand products. That said, it is both
crucial and fair to point out that it will not be possible to meet the
population's growing demands in all areas," MINCIN stated, pointing to
the demands of the self-employed and new forms of employment established
in the country as one aggravating circumstance.

A letter issued by Cuba's CIMEX Corporation followed MINCIN' communiqué
last week. Published in Granma, it leaves a number of "pending
questions" regarding the shortage of products distributed by its stores
across the country unanswered. The document was signed by Barbara Rosa
Soto Sanchez, commercial vice-president of the company.

Product Shortages

On the basis of these two letters, a list of 25 products in short or
unstable supply in Cuba's domestic market, and the official prognosis
regarding a possible solution to this, can be drawn up.

• Potatoes: Production during this year's harvest, aimed at 65,700 tons,
fell by 48,000 tons in comparison to 2013. These figures make it
impossible to satisfy the demand for this product.

• Natural juices and nectars: CIMEX has imported products to meet
demands and hopes to be able to stabilize the supply of its products by
year's end. The increase in the number of self-employed workers and the
establishment of new food service cooperatives are the main causes of
the unstable supply.

• Soft drinks: Consumer demands aren't being met and production plans go
unfulfilled. This has led to under stocking. These products are not
being imported.

• Powdered Chocolate: The dairy industry has recovered production
indices, but these still do not meet customer demand.

• Domestic beer: Cristal and Bucanero-brand beers were fulfilling their
production plan at 94%, which is below the market demand. Shortages are
also being caused at markets due to the demand of the self-employed and
food service cooperatives. Other beers have been imported to meet demand
at stores.

• Salt: No explanation as to its absence at markets is offered.
Production and delivery goals continue to go unfulfilled and contractual
clauses governing its sale are still being violated.

• Toilet paper: Domestic manufacturers are meeting production plans but
consumer demand is not being met. CIMEX imported toilet paper to reduce
shortages by 10 % during July.

• Toothbrushes: There have been delays in domestic production and
deliveries since May. CIMEX has begun to import this product to
stabilize its stocks. Demand is still not being satisfied, however.

• Toothpaste: A drop in market offer was registered in the first months
of the year. Supplies should become stable in the second half of the year.

• Deodorant: The industry experienced difficulties during the first
months of the year owing to a lack of financing, but production and
distribution have become stable.

• Laundry soap: With a production commitment of 17,000 tons for the
year, its offer is guaranteed in the market.

• Toilet soap: The production goal of 18,876 tons has been met to meet
demand. Product shortages are the result of distribution problems. The
soap deficit has been evident in the Cuban peso retail market, where a
sustained offer of the product has not yet been achieved.

• Razors: Stocks have run out. The product should be made available at
stores this month.

• Colognes and perfumes: A steady supply cannot be guaranteed through
domestic production or imports. Of the total of 5,938,600 units put on
the market last year by Suchel Regalo and Suchel Camacho, only 37%
(2,218,649 units) was available for sale this year. The industry is not
expected to recover until 2015.

• Talcum powder: The demand continues to go unmet. Of the 362,000 units
of talcum powder produced in 2013, a mere 16% will be produced this year.

• Batteries for electric motorcycles: Cuba's Minerva factory has not
been able to guarantee a steady supply at retail stores operated by
CIMEX' Automobile Transportation Division. Supplies for electric
bicycles, including the batteries, are expected to become stable by
mid-September with the help of imports.

• 18 and 32-Watt fluorescent lights: Though high numbers of affordable
fluorescent lights were imported from January to June for distribution
throughout the country, stocks have not become stable in the market.
MINCIN reports that under stocking is owed to a failure to import the
product on a timely basis.

• Energy-saving bulbs: There has been a shortage of this product since
the beginning of the year owing to lack of timely imports. The number of
bulbs needed to stabilize supplies in the market will be imported from
Vietnam and China. CIMEX claims that the market will recover slightly
between May and June.

• Portable radios: No contract with domestic manufactures exists because
a steady supply of this product cannot be guaranteed.

• Matches: the product shortages and unstable supply are owed to
negligence on behalf of the companies that sell the product. There are
no production problems or shortages.

• Grease removing and descaling substances: Lack of inventory and
unstable supplies in the market are expected throughout the year.

• Bleach: It will be impossible to meet customer demands owing to
technical problems faced by domestic manufacturers. Of the 8,720,879
liters of bleach needed to meet the demand this year, only 29% of that
volume will be produced.

• Hydrochloric acid: It will be impossible to meet demands. Of the
4,556,473 liters needed, a mere 7% will be produced for sale.

• Plastic bags: The product is available and instructions to sell it at
Cuban peso retail stores have been issued.

Source: Shortages to Continue in Cuban Stores - Havana Times.org -
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106139

Puro, Buy My Stimulus

"Puro, Buy My Stimulus" / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on September 12, 2014

Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 12 September 2014 — Passing near the Chinese
cemetery on 26th Avenue, a young man leading his bike by the hand, said
to me, "Puro, buy my stimulus." I confess that it took me a few seconds
to decipher the code. Clearly the "puro" was a reference to my youth,
but what was difficult to understand was the "stimulus." How can you buy
such a thing?

As he explained to me, it was a plastic bag that contained a quart of
vegetable oil for cooking, two bath soaps, and some ounces of detergent
that he'd been given at work as a "stimulus" for having stood out in
socialist emulation.

I didn't believe a single word and committed the journalistic folly of
rejecting his offer. If I had said yes, now I'd have a photo here of the
products, laid out on the wall of the cemetery with the graves in the
background.

When I told the story to my friend Regina Coyula, author of the blog Bad
Handwriting, she told me this is the latest scam. The allusion to having
been chosen as the vanguard, a standout, or special prize winner, makes
you think that the potential seller is a "true believer" who has no
recourse but to sacrifice the material honors his political-social
conduct has earned him, to alleviate his urgent needs.

To buy the "stimulus" is almost a sado-political vengeance, but selling
fake merchandise, that is oil that isn't good for cooking, soap that
doesn't produce lather, and lime instead of detergent, is already a
mockery… the old scam in new clothes.

Source: "Puro, Buy My Stimulus" / Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/puro-buy-my-stimulus-reinaldo-escobar/

Ministerial Hustling

Ministerial Hustling / 14ymedio
Posted on September 12, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Luzbely Escobar, 11 September 2014 – When I was
younger and went out looking for something to do in Havana's evenings or
nights, one day I stumbled over Julio. I went out with a girlfriend from
Berlin and he was looking to make a living scamming innocent foreigners.
He approached us intending to invite us to a Rumba Festival, but was
disappointed by our refusal. The trick was easy: lead the unwary to
Hamel Alley where there was almost always the sound of drums and right
now there was the Festival he mentioned.

I had warned my German friend about those characters who invent
everything to attract the tourists, and the truth was that, in those
days of September 1993, there wasn't much to do. Every encounter ended
in a park, along the Malecon, or the home of a friend. Julio didn't give
up and told my friend, Angelica, that he knew a place where there was
salsa dancing. We turned our worst faces to the old rockers and took off
before they came up with something else. I remember my friend at the end
of this episode telling me, "That's what I would call cultural hustling."

I'm telling this story because right now there is a cultural event
called Habanarte. I support the theory that this is more or less the
same thing, but organized by the Ministry of Culture itself. With a
program that includes everything but which, in reality, brings little
new, one more festival where supposedly a program specially designed for
the event is created, which comes to be a kind of umbrella that covers
everything and anything that's happening in Havana lately. Thus, this
umbrella festival takes credit for everything and even includes visits
to museums on its list of events.

Presentations by the National Ballet of Cuba, Haydée Milanés, Descemer
Bueno,
among others, are part of the shows absorbed by Habanarte. Also, the Art
in the Rampa show, and even the sixth Salon of Contemporary Art, have
been put under the umbrella.

An odd, or revealing, piece of data is that the Paradiso agency
confirmed the participation of 1,500 Venezuelans and announced that the
event in question is being marketed to tourists passing through Havana
and Varadero. The perfect mix to ideologize even more the cultural
spaces that, gradually, we Havanans have conquered to relax the everyday
political ballad.

At the press conference that took place a few days ago, we learned that
the Festival Information Center will be located at the Casa del Alba,
the most rancid epicenter of political propaganda masquerading as
culture. All this made me remember Julio and his fake musical event, and
my friend Angelica who realized the farce in time. However, unlike that
lie to get some money from unsuspecting tourists, Habanarte is a huge
ministerial balloon scamming thousands of people.

(The event takes place from 11 to 21 September, but the official opening
is on September 12, at 11 pm, at El Sauce Cultural Center, of Artex,
with a concert by El Chevere de la Salsa, Isaac Delgado.)

Source: Ministerial Hustling / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/ministerial-hustling-14ymedio/

Rejoice, Rise Up and Persevere, Pope Francis’s Verbs for Cubans

Rejoice, Rise Up and Persevere, Pope Francis's Verbs for Cubans / 14ymedio
Posted on September 12, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, 9 September 2014 – A letter sent by Pope Francis to
Cubans has highlighted three verbs he invites pastors and the faithful
to put into practice. On the occasion of the Feast of the Virgin of
Charity of Cobre—our Cachita—this Monday, 8 September, the Bishop of
Rome has urged us to rejoice, rise up and persevere. The message seems
full of clues and enigmas to solve.
The Holy Father, for example, has emphasized, "What joy the authentic
soul feels in daily events, and not in the empty words that abound,
blown away with the wind." Pope Bergoglio has also called us to rise up,
but "not about the big things, rather in everything you do, with
tenderness and mercy. María was always with her people caring for the
little ones. She knew loneliness, poverty and exile," allusions also
emphasized with the verb persevere.

The message takes as its context the widespread pilgrimages that have
occurred on the Island for the Feast of Cachita. To the yellow flowers,
the promises kept and the acts of faith, we now add the Pope's words,
which have been shared publicly in churches throughout the country.

Source: Rejoice, Rise Up and Persevere, Pope Francis's Verbs for Cubans
/ 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/rejoice-rise-up-and-persevere-pope-franciss-verbs-for-cubans-14ymedio/

Obama's Cuba Problem

Obama's Cuba Problem
BY JOSÉ R. CÁRDENAS SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 - 12:06 PM

The last time President Obama met with his Latin American and Caribbean
counterparts was not a particularly memorable affair. The 2012 Summit
of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, was overshadowed by an
embarrassing Secret Service scandal that saw members of his advance team
soaking in a little bit too much of the historical city's Caribbean
nightlife.
Meanwhile, in the absence of any substantive agenda, President Obama
spent most of the summit being hectored by his counterparts with the
incongruous assertion that undemocratic outlier Cuba must be part of the
next meeting of all the popularly elected governments in the Americas.
It was clear the president wasn't pleased with the
badgering, complaining that, "Sometimes I feel as if in some of these
discussions ... we're caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and
gunboat diplomacy."
Fast forward two years: Preparations for the 2015 Summit are well
underway and once again Cuba's participation has become the flashpoint.
Governments in Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua
have already said they will boycott any summit where Cuba is excluded.
Panama, the host, has announced its intention to formally invite Cuba,
with its president saying that the presence of the last military
dictatorship in the region was "important."
The State Department has already voiced its opposition, citing the 2001
Summit's agreed-upon "democracy clause," which conditions Summit
participation to countries that respect democracy and rule of law.
According to a spokesperson, "So we should not undermine commitments
previously made, but should instead encourage -- and this is certainly
our effort -- the democratic changes necessary for Cuba to meet the
basic qualifications."
Secretary of State John Kerry privately repeated that message in no
uncertain terms to Panamanian Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo when
the two met at the beginning of September.
Nevertheless, the drumbeat has started that President Obama must accept
the Castro regime's presence at the Summit or else, as one former
advisor to President Clinton has said, be "responsible for the collapse
of inter-American summitry, 20 years after its initiation by President
Clinton."
There is no doubt that U.S.-Cuba policy critics see the president's
dilemma as a golden opportunity to mainstream Cuba back into regional
polite society despite its uncompromising, repressive rule, thus making
it more difficult to justify the U.S. policy of isolating the Castro
regime politically and economically. The administration will therefore
be coming under enormous pressure to accept the "inevitable" and attend
the Summit with Cuba.
These critics understand the power that symbolism plays in international
affairs. The presence of a U.S. President at any event -- international
or otherwise -- is never routine, or ever lacking of import and
consequence. Thus, in their construction, President Obama's attendance
at a Summit with Cuba will signal a U.S. surrender of fifty years of its
embargo-centric policy. On the other hand, the symbolic importance of
standing up for the region's hard-won democratic gains over the past
quarter-century by making a point about the incongruity of Cuba's
presence in this age of regional democracy will be a dagger in their heart.
It's worth noting that several of the governments insisting on Cuba's
presence are those guilty of their own back-sliding on respect for
democratic institutions over the last several years, including
Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Why wouldn't they want the Castro
regime present in regional fora, so as to lower the bar for everyone on
adhering to democratic principles?
But this isn't just to argue that President Obama should just stiff his
counterparts and appoint a lesser State Department official to attend in
his stead if other Latin American governments insist on Cuba's
presence. The president should seize the opportunity to be proactive
and make a statement that what distinguishes the Americas is that it is
a community of democracies and that commitments to democratic governance
are enduring and meaningful to ensure it will always be that way. He
should challenge others to argue why the Castros' military dictatorship
is deserving of any special consideration or compromise for their
flaunting of democratic norms over the past five decades.
If, in the end, the president opts not to attend the Summit due to the
Castro regime's presence, meaning that the U.S. "isolates" itself from
the Summit process, then so be it. Principle is more important that
popularity. The sun will rise the next day and the struggle for
democracy in Cuba will continue. And if Latin American governments
choose to condition their relationships with Washington on U.S.
relations with Cuba, that is their choice to make -- and to live with.

Source: Obama's Cuba Problem -
http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/09/12/obamas_cuba_problem

Twenty years after Cuban raft exodus, they keep coming

Twenty years after Cuban raft exodus, they keep coming
By David Adams,
Reuters

MIAMI (Reuters) - Alicia Garcia vividly recalls her rescue at sea 20
years ago during a mass exodus from Cuba, a dramatic event that changed
the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and reshaped relations
between the communist-run island and the United States.

"We didn't think we'd make it. We prayed, and put ourselves in God's
hands," she said of her six-day ordeal clinging with five others to a
raft made of truck inner tubes and rope.

Illegal departures by sea from Cuba are on the rise again, U.S.
officials say, with more than 2,000 migrants picked up by the U.S. Coast
Guard over the last 12 months. That is the highest rate in six years.

Many more are passing undetected, mostly headed west aboard flimsy
home-made vessels in a risky bid to cross the Caribbean to Honduras, in
hopes of getting across the Mexico-U.S. border.

Late last month 17 Cubans were rescued by the Mexican navy after almost
a month at sea, 20 days without food. Details are unclear, but more than
a dozen others may have died from dehydration - the survivors forced to
throw their bodies overboard.

The town of Manzanillo in eastern Cuba, where most of the victims are
from, planned a church Mass on Friday night.

"My wife, she can't bring herself to tell me what really happened. It's
too terrible," said Jose Caballero, husband of one of the survivors, who
left Cuba via a similar route in December and now lives in Texas.

ECONOMY, LONG DELAYS, FUEL EXODUS

According to the latest U.S. figures, more than 14,000 Cubans have
crossed the southwestern U.S. border illegally since Oct. 1, almost
triple the number four years ago.

The spike is attributed to delays of up to five years for Cubans seeking
to emigrate legally to join relatives in the United States. Economic
reforms designed to open up Cuba's state-controlled system and create
private sector jobs have also failed to improve living conditions for
most people.

"We left (Cuba) because there are no jobs or the basic items for
living," said Angel, a former fishing boat captain who reached Honduras
with 11 others aboard a home-made boat last week after a two-week
journey via the Cayman Islands.

The boat was built clandestinely with cannibalized parts, including a
car engine, a propeller and aluminum sheets sealed together with resin,
he said.

It wasn't much different in 1994, said Garcia, except on that occasion
Cuba lifted restrictions, opening the flood gates for anyone who wanted
to jump on a raft.

That summer, between Aug. 12 and Sept. 13, some 31,000 Cubans were
detained at sea by U.S. ships. It was the largest exodus since the 1980
Mariel boatlift that brought 120,000 Cubans to Miami.

The 1994 crisis led to a major shift in U.S.-Cuba policy and an accord
under which Washington agreed to grant visas to 20,000 Cuban migrants a
year.

As a result, since 1995 more than 600,000 Cubans have emigrated to the
United States, the largest flow since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

The 1994 crisis also led to the establishment of a so-called "wet foot,
dry foot policy," under which Cuban migrants who make it onto U.S. soil
are allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are turned back.

Rafters have kept coming in smaller numbers, though these days they make
few political or media waves.

LIKE FALL OF BERLIN WALL

A series of seminars and exhibitions are being held to mark the 1994
exodus. An exhibition at the Spanish Cultural Center in Miami, opening
on Saturday, features the work of Willy Castellanos, a young
photographer in Havana in 1994 who chronicled the exodus as homes were
ripped apart to build rafts, lowered by pulleys onto the street below.

"Living in Havana at that time and watching the exodus felt like the
fall of the Berlin Wall. It was the end of the utopia, the socialist
model we grew up with," he said.

Garcia said she will never forget the five months she spent in 1994 at a
makeshift refugee camp at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base before
making it to Miami.

She has not been back to Cuba to visit the grandparents who raised her.

Garcia and other rafters say the 1994 exodus has not been fully
appreciated by Cubans who arrived in Miami in the 1960s, or on the
Mariel boatlift.

"The Cubans who came before, in 1980, were never in agreement with the
revolution. We were supposed to be different," added Garcia, born in
1974. "We were the children of the revolution."



(Reporting by David Adams, editing by Jill Serjeant and Dan Grebler)

Source: Twenty years after Cuban raft exodus, they keep coming - Chicago
Tribune -
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-us-usa-florida-cuba-raft-20140912-story.html

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cuba to increase sugar production

Xinhua News Agency September 12, 2014 7:52am

Cuba to increase sugar production

HAVANA, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Cuba has set a target to raise its sugar
production by 15-20 percent during its new harvest year over its output
of 1.6 million tons in the previous year, an official said Thursday.

About 50 mills are to join the campaign, which starts from the third
week of November, two more mills than that of last year, said Liobel
Perez, a specialist from the state-owned entrepreneurial group AZCUBA.

The harvest year is expected to end in early May when the rainy season
begins and diminishes the yield.

The sugar sector failed to attaine its goal of production last year due
to rains and warm temperatures, according to AZCUBA's data.

Cuba has taken a series of measures to increase the production of sugar,
the economic engine for the Caribbean country, including replacing old
machinery with new ones, diversifying sugar-related products, and
attracting foreign investment.

Source: Cuba to increase sugar production | GlobalPost -
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140912/cuba-increase-sugar-production

The Las Cuevas Camp Facility - Deficiencies and Corruption

The Las Cuevas Camp Facility: Deficiencies and Corruption
September 9, 2014
Warhol P

HAVANA TIMES — Whenever there is talk of Cuba's camp facilities in any
of our media, everything is looked at through rose-colored glasses. The
reality, however, is quite different.

This past Friday, August 29, campers who arrived at the Las Cuevas
recreational center were able to confirm the deficiencies of the
facility in person. Upon arrival, they were informed there was no
running water because the pump was broken. The swimming pool – the one
source of entertainment for visitors – had not yet been filled.

The cabins had their own, private bathrooms, but some didn't have doors
and were equipped merely with one, plastic bucket for fetching water.
There were no basic cleaning products such as floor mops or brooms.

That day, the menu was less than interesting: a bit of fish with rice
and beans for lunch, minced meat, wieners in sauce and poor-quality rice
for dinner.

At noon on Saturday, several water tanks were installed on the premises
so that campers could wash themselves (many had to go off into wooded
areas or nearby cabins that have long been abandoned to relieve themselves).

The menu also suddenly broadened. They began to sell pizzas, served pork
fricassee for lunch and rice and beans, white rice, yellow rice, roasted
chicken and other main courses for dinner.

Thanks to campsite employees, people found out this sudden change in
conditions was due to a visit by the Minister of Tourism, who, we can
assume, does not know what is actually taking place at Las Cuevas.

At cabin no. 48, located at the back of the campsite where the police
are based, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages (extracted from the rum
factory in Santa Cruz del Norte) are sold illegally.

The prices of the cigarettes sold there are:

H.Upmann: 1 CUC, or 25 Cuban pesos

Popular (filtered): 1 CUC, or 25 Cuban pesos

Hollywood: 2 CUC, or 50 Cuban pesos.

At the campsite, the State establishments did not have cigarettes. Rum
bottles were sold at 40 Cuban pesos.

Cabin 56 was devoted to the sale of beer. A bottle cost 30 Cuban pesos.
A 24-pack (in very high demand) was sold there at 720 pesos. They also
sold cigarettes and food that was better than that being offered by the
campsite.

The people in these cabins were not campers. Apparently, these
individuals live in the area during the summer months.

Campsite employees know of this: it is they who tell campers where to
find the products they're looking for, and none of them seem bothered by
this network of illegal activities.

Source: The Las Cuevas Camp Facility: Deficiencies and Corruption -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106046

Cuba’s Telecommunications Monopoly Still in a Tight Spot

Cuba's Telecommunications Monopoly Still in a Tight Spot
September 11, 2014
Luis Rondón Paz

HAVANA TIMES – Cuba's new mobile phone email service continues to be
highly deficient owing to "jamming of the lines", and no announcement as
when this will be fixed has been made.

I have sporadically contacted CUBACEL's customer services line to let
them know the problems I'm having. I have informed them of the
difficulties I've encountered whenever I try to send an email using my
cell's Nauta account, and that there are times during the day when text
(SMS) messages cannot be sent, take long to be delivered and sometimes
never reach the addressee (even though the nine cents are still deducted
from my balance).

Repeatedly, they have replied that "the servers are jammed and changes
to the technical infrastructure have been made recently. Please be
patient, we're working on it."

Cuba's telecommunications company (ETECSA-CUBACEL) broadened its range
of services for the population some time ago. Some of the more
noteworthy changes were the possibility of accessing the Internet and
sending emails from computers at newly-opened centers of this State
monopoly, and an email service (Nauta) for mobile phones. The latter was
quite novel for Cubans and promised to make communication quicker and
more affordable, provided customers limited themselves to sending
messages and photos no larger than one Megabyte.

That was the idea, but reality proved entirely different. The quality of
the email service offered by Nauta in recent weeks is one case in point.
According to ETECSA officials, problems affecting the quality of the
service have been reported since September 3. I know, however, that the
problems began well before, having long experienced difficulties sending
and receiving emails using my mobile phone.

This past 8th of September, I again phoned Customer Services in the
hopes of getting some good news. Unfortunately, when I got through, the
operator informed me that, currently, the company does not know whether
there will be any immediate solution to the poor quality of mobile phone
services – services, incidentally, that are charged in hard currency.

Source: Cuba's Telecommunications Monopoly Still in a Tight Spot -
Havana Times.org - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=106108

Exported to Venezuela, miserable Cuban doctors clamor to get into U.S.

Exported to Venezuela, miserable Cuban doctors clamor to get into U.S.
By CHRIS KRAUL

- At the current rate, more than 1,500 Cuban healthcare workers will be
admitted to the U.S. this year
- Cuba keeps 10,000 healthcare providers in Venezuela in part to pay for oil
- One Cuban doctor in Venezuela describes workload as 'crushing'

Worsening conditions in Venezuela are causing increasing numbers of
Cuban medical personnel working there to immigrate to the United States
under a special program that expedites their applications, according to
Colombian officials who help process many of the refugees.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in
Washington said the number of Cuban doctors, nurses, optometrists and
medical technicians applying for U.S. visas under the Cuban Medical
Professional Parole Program is running as much as 50% ahead of last
year's pace, which was nearly double that of the year before.

At the current rate, more than 1,500 Cuban healthcare workers will be
admitted to the United States this year.

For geographical reasons, neighboring Colombia is a favored trampoline
for Cubans fleeing Venezuela, whose leftist government has struggled to
rein in runaway inflation, shortages of goods and services and rising
social unrest.

Cuba, which prides itself on a comprehensive healthcare system and has
long exported doctors and nurses to friendly countries, maintains an
estimated 10,000 healthcare providers in Venezuela. The medical outreach
program is intended as partial payment for 100,000 barrels of oil that
President Nicolas Maduro's government ships to the Castro administration
each day.

Nelia, a 29-year-old general practitioner from Santiago de Cuba, arrived
in Bogota last month after what she said was a nightmarish year working
in Venezuela's Barrio Adentro program in the city of Valencia. She
declined to disclose her last name for fear of reprisal back home.

Nelia said her disillusionment started on her arrival in Caracas'
Maiquetia airport in mid-2013. She and several colleagues waited there
for two days, sometimes sleeping in chairs, before authorities assigned
her to a clinic in Valencia, she said.

"It was all a trick. They tell you how great it's going to be, how you
will able to buy things and how grateful Venezuelans are to have you.
Then comes the shock of the reality," Nelia said. Her clinic in Valencia
had no air conditioning and much of the ultrasound equipment she was
supposed to use to examine pregnant women was broken.

She described the workload as "crushing." Instead of the 15 to 18
procedures a day she performed in Cuba, she did as many as 90 in
Venezuela, she said. Crime is rampant, the pay is an abysmal $20 per
month and Cubans are caught in the middle of Venezuela's civil unrest,
which pits followers of the late President Hugo Chavez — whose
handpicked successor is Maduro — against more conservative,
market-oriented forces.

"The Chavistas want us there and the opposition does not. And there are
more opposition people than Chavistas," said Nelia, who was interviewed
in a Colombian immigration office in Bogota.

A 32-year-old Cuban optometrist who identified himself as Manuel and who
also fled Venezuela to apply for U.S. residency said that at his clinic
in Merida he was prescribing and grinding up to 120 pairs of eyeglasses
a day, triple his pace in Cuba.

"As a professional you want to be paid for what your work is worth. What
we were getting, $20 a month, was not enough to pay even for food and
transportation, much less a telephone call to Cuba now and then," Manuel
said. "That's the main reason I want to go to Miami, to earn what I'm
worth."

Cubans have long had favored status as U.S. immigrants. Virtually any
Cuban is guaranteed automatic residency and a path to citizenship simply
by setting foot on U.S. territory, legally or not. The Cuban Medical
Professional Parole Program gives medical personnel a leg up by allowing
them to apply for residency at U.S. embassies.

Though some Cubans apply at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, the Venezuelan
capital, others say they fear being seen there. Also, airfare to the
United States from Colombia is much cheaper than from Venezuela.

The increasing flow of Cuban doctors is only part of a rising tide of
Cubans seeking to reach the United States, many through Colombia.
Lacking the special status of medical personnel, many U.S.-bound Cubans
first land in Ecuador, where the government requires no visas. They then
typically pass through Colombia to Panama with the help of coyotes, or
human traffickers. However, many are detained in Colombia.

Of 1,006 illegal immigrants detained in Colombia from January through
July of this year for failing to have proper visas, 42% were Cuban,
according to Colombia's immigration agency director, Sergio Bueno
Aguirre. The flow of Cubans had more than doubled from the year before.

One Colombian Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the political sensitivity said the U.S. policy of
allowing Cubans immigrant status simply by arriving in the United States
has fed organized crime in Colombia and in other transit countries.

"Coyotes helping the Cubans transit through Colombia often use the
migrants to carry drugs or submit to prostitution," the official said.
"Or the coyotes will just abandon them at a border, creating a big
headache for the Colombian government, which has to take care of them or
send them back home."

Kraul is a special correspondent.

Source: Exported to Venezuela, miserable Cuban doctors clamor to get
into U.S. - LA Times -
http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-venezuela-cuba-doctors-20140911-story.html

US returns 45 Cuban migrants intercepted at sea

Posted on Thursday, 09.11.14

US returns 45 Cuban migrants intercepted at sea
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI -- Coast Guard officials say 45 Cuban migrants picked up in the
waters off the Florida Keys have been returned to their Caribbean homeland.

A Coast Guard crew intercepted an "aluminum rustic vessel" carrying 25
migrants Saturday in the waters southwest of Key West. In a separate
interdiction later Saturday, the crew found another 20 migrants aboard
an unseaworthy vessel south of the Dry Tortugas.

All the migrants were returned Wednesday to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba. They
received food, water and medical care while aboard Coast Guard vessels.

Coast Guard officials say that in the 2014 fiscal year that began Oct.
1, roughly 5,100 Haitians, 3,400 Cubans and 560 Dominicans have been
intercepted while trying to illegally migrate to U.S. shores by sea.

Source: MIAMI: US returns 45 Cuban migrants intercepted at sea - Florida
Wires - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/11/4342393/us-returns-45-cuban-migrants-intercepted.html

Cuba sending dozens of doctors to fight Ebola

Posted on Friday, 09.12.14

Cuba sending dozens of doctors to fight Ebola
BY MARIA CHENG
AP MEDICAL WRITER

LONDON -- Cuba's health ministry said Friday it is sending more than 160
health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,
providing a much-needed injection of medical expertise in a country
where health workers are in short supply.

World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan said the agency was
extremely grateful for the help.

"If we are going to go to war with Ebola, we need the resources to
fight," she said. "This will make a significant difference in Sierra Leone."

While millions of dollars have already been pledged and countries
including Britain and the U.S. have volunteered to build treatment
centers, Chan said "human resources are most important," noting a
crucial need for experienced doctors and nurses across the region.

"There is not a single bed available for an Ebola patient in the entire
country of Liberia," she said, adding that a further 1,500 health
workers are desperately needed in West Africa.

Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, Cuba's health minister, called on other
countries to help.

Ebola is believed to have killed more than 2,200 people in West Africa
so far, the biggest-ever outbreak of the lethal virus. So far, the death
rate is about 50 percent. Doctors and nurses are at high risk of
catching Ebola, spread via the exchange of bodily fluids.

Cuba will be sending experienced doctors, nurses and other scientists to
Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay for six months.

Since the 1959 Cuban revolution, the country has dispatched thousands of
doctors worldwide to work on issues ranging from maternal health to
cataracts.

Cuba's program has been praised for improving health care in countries
short on doctors, but also criticized for underpaying the physicians by
funneling too much of the compensation for the program to Cuban state
coffers.

Associated Press Writer Michael Weissenstein in Havana contributed to
this report.

Source: LONDON: Cuba sending dozens of doctors to fight Ebola - World
Wires - MiamiHerald.com -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/12/4343586/cuba-sending-hundreds-of-doctors.html

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A New Women’s Opposition Group is Born in the East: Citizens for Democracy

A New Women's Opposition Group is Born in the East: Citizens for
Democracy / 14ymedio
Posted on September 11, 2014

14YMEDIO, Havana, 10 September 2014 – A schism with the Ladies in White
has given birth to a new women's group called "Citizens for Democracy."
Last Monday, during the feast of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, the
recently created movement held it's first public activity with a
pilgrimage of seventy women to the Sanctuary of Cobre in Santiago de Cuba.

Citizens for Democracy is led by Belkis Cantillo and consists mostly of
women from Palma Soriano, Palmarito del Cauto and the city of Santiago
de Cuba itself. At least thirty of them come from the Ladies in White
group, from which they separated some days ago because of disagreements
between Berta Soler and Cantillo herself.

The reason for this separation was explained as "gross indiscipline"
allegedly committed by several members of the Ladies in White in the
eastern area of the country, which provoked the removal of Cantillo as
local representative of the movement. Soler, for her part, declared that
"every person can join or found a party or a group if they feel badly in
another and if they are not able to abide by the rules of the Ladies in
White."

Belkis Cantillo was a member of the Ladies in White from its origins in
2003 after the imprisonment of 75 dissidents in the so-called "Black
Spring." Her ex-husband is the opponent Jose Daniel Ferrer, who heads
the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

Berta Soler hopes that the Citizens for Democracy will "succeed as human
rights activists."

Source: A New Women's Opposition Group is Born in the East: Citizens for
Democracy / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/a-new-womens-opposition-group-is-born-in-the-east-citizens-for-democracy-14ymedio/

Poor working conditions in Venezuela sending Cuban doctors to U.S.

Poor working conditions in Venezuela sending Cuban doctors to U.S.
By CHRIS KRAUL

At the current rate, more than 1,500 Cuban healthcare workers will be
admitted to the U.S. this year
Cuba keeps 10,000 healthcare providers in Venezuela in part to pay for oil
One Cuban doctor in Venezuela describes workload as 'crushing'
Worsening conditions in Venezuela are causing increasing numbers of
Cuban medical personnel working there to immigrate to the United States
under a special program that expedites their applications, according to
Colombian officials who help process many of the refugees.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in
Washington said the number of Cuban doctors, nurses, optometrists and
medical technicians applying for U.S. visas under the Cuban Medical
Professional Parole Program is running as much as 50% ahead of last
year's pace, which was nearly double that of the year before.

At the current rate, more than 1,500 Cuban healthcare workers will be
admitted to the United States this year.

It was all a trick. They tell you how great it's going to be, how you
will able to buy things and how grateful Venezuelans are to have you.
Then comes the shock of reality.
- Nelia, a general practitioner from Cuba
For geographical reasons, neighboring Colombia is a favored trampoline
for Cubans fleeing Venezuela, whose leftist government has struggled to
rein in runaway inflation, shortages of goods and services and rising
social unrest.

Cuba, which prides itself on a comprehensive healthcare system and has
long exported doctors and nurses to friendly countries, maintains an
estimated 10,000 healthcare providers in Venezuela. The medical outreach
program is intended as partial payment for 100,000 barrels of oil that
President Nicolas Maduro's government ships to the Castro administration
each day.

Nelia, a 29-year-old general practitioner from Santiago de Cuba, arrived
in Bogota last month after what she said was a nightmarish year working
in Venezuela's Barrio Adentro program in the city of Valencia. She
declined to disclose her last name for fear of reprisal back home.

Nelia said her disillusionment started on her arrival in Caracas'
Maiquetia airport in mid-2013. She and several colleagues waited there
for two days, sometimes sleeping in chairs, before authorities assigned
her to a clinic in Valencia, she said.

"It was all a trick. They tell you how great it's going to be, how you
will able to buy things and how grateful Venezuelans are to have you.
Then comes the shock of the reality," Nelia said. Her clinic in Valencia
had no air conditioning and much of the ultrasound equipment she was
supposed to use to examine pregnant women was broken.


She described the workload as "crushing." Instead of the 15 to 18
procedures a day she performed in Cuba, she did as many as 90 in
Venezuela, she said. Crime is rampant, the pay is an abysmal $20 per
month and Cubans are caught in the middle of Venezuela's civil unrest,
which pits followers of the late President Hugo Chavez — whose
handpicked successor is Maduro — against more conservative,
market-oriented forces.

"The Chavistas want us there and the opposition does not. And there are
more opposition people than Chavistas," said Nelia, who was interviewed
in a Colombian immigration office in Bogota.

A 32-year-old Cuban optometrist who identified himself as Manuel and who
also fled Venezuela to apply for U.S. residency said that at his clinic
in Merida he was prescribing and grinding up to 120 pairs of eyeglasses
a day, triple his pace in Cuba.

"As a professional you want to be paid for what your work is worth. What
we were getting, $20 a month, was not enough to pay even for food and
transportation, much less a telephone call to Cuba now and then," Manuel
said. "That's the main reason I want to go to Miami, to earn what I'm
worth."

Cubans have long had favored status as U.S. immigrants. Virtually any
Cuban is guaranteed automatic residency and a path to citizenship simply
by setting foot on U.S. territory, legally or not. The Cuban Medical
Professional Parole Program gives medical personnel a leg up by allowing
them to apply for residency at U.S. embassies.

Though some Cubans apply at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, the Venezuelan
capital, others say they fear being seen there. Also, airfare to the
United States from Colombia is much cheaper than from Venezuela.

The increasing flow of Cuban doctors is only part of a rising tide of
Cubans seeking to reach the United States, many through Colombia.
Lacking the special status of medical personnel, many U.S.-bound Cubans
first land in Ecuador, where the government requires no visas. They then
typically pass through Colombia to Panama with the help of coyotes, or
human traffickers. However, many are detained in Colombia.

Of 1,006 illegal immigrants detained in Colombia from January through
July of this year for failing to have proper visas, 42% were Cuban,
according to Colombia's immigration agency director, Sergio Bueno
Aguirre. The flow of Cubans had more than doubled from the year before.

One Colombian Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the political sensitivity said the U.S. policy of
allowing Cubans immigrant status simply by arriving in the United States
has fed organized crime in Colombia and in other transit countries.

"Coyotes helping the Cubans transit through Colombia often use the
migrants to carry drugs or submit to prostitution," the official said.
"Or the coyotes will just abandon them at a border, creating a big
headache for the Colombian government, which has to take care of them or
send them back home."

Kraul is a special correspondent.

Source: Poor working conditions in Venezuela sending Cuban doctors to
U.S. - LA Times -
http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-venezuela-cuba-doctors-20140911-story.html

Hemingway, Tourism, and the Contradictions of Revolutionary Cuba

Hemingway, Tourism, and the Contradictions of Revolutionary Cuba
Posted: 09/10/2014 3:33 pm EDT Updated: 09/10/2014 3:59 pm EDT

At El Floridita bar in Old Havana, Ernest Hemingway drank in the
afternoons and supposedly met his only Cuban love, Leopoldina (a sex
worker). Hemingway, although he has been dead for over 50 years, is
still hanging around the bar. Today a life-size bronze statue of the
author stands in the corner, in his favorite drinking spot. On the walls
behind him, black-and-white photos show an aged and bearded Hemingway
talking closely with Fidel Castro and drinking with actors Errol Flynn
and Spencer Tracy. The memorial, commissioned by the Cuban revolutionary
government, has become a popular photo-stop for tourists. Large groups
of foreigners order expensive daiquiris, listen to live music, and take
pictures with a timeless Hemingway.

Attractions like this one awkwardly neighbor the poverty of everyday
life in Havana. The contradictions of the Cuban Revolution are a
half-century in the making. But with the arrival of more and more
tourists, they have become increasingly obvious. Last year, 2.85 million
tourists visited the island. U.S. citizens are also joining the tourist
crowds. Over 170,000 travelers from the U.S. arrived to Cuba in the
first three months of 2014. The question is: what will this new 21st
century boom in tourism mean for the Cuban people?

The afternoon I visited El Floridita, a group of men and women lingered
outside the bar's only entrance, waiting for foreigners to exit with
lubricated pockets. Hemingway's favorite drink - a daiquiri - costs
around $6.50, roughly one-third the average monthly salary ($20) of a
Cuban worker. The bar, owned by the Cuban state, isn't really for
Cubans. Neither is the Hotel Habana Libre (Free Havana), nor many other
tourist attractions in the city. Extreme economic inequality and state
policing separate local and foreign access to food, entertainment, and
certain "public" spaces.

Tourism has become Cuba's new enclave economy. The hotels, and the best
restaurants and bars, are exclusive sites. Foreigners are allowed in and
Cubans are physically kept out. The revolution (1953-1959) was supposed
to end these social problems and the demoralizing divide between the
majority of Cuban 'have-nots' and the exclusive foreign 'haves.' The
decadence of tourism in 1950s Havana helped mobilize a nation against
dictatorship and U.S. imperial arrogance. Today, though, the Cuban
government offers international tourism as the nation's best hope. The
revolution's leaders have decided to build a new contradiction on top of
a very old one. As the state-owned Hotel Meliá-Cohiba tells its
employees, "smile, always" for the tourists.

Old problems are reemerging. As tourism grows, so does a culture of
hustle. Male and female hustlers, locally called jinteros, use slick
words, lies, quick friendship, and sex to get money, luxury, and
mobility. Jinteros are willing to prostitute soul and sometimes body to
economically survive and find diversion in the mundaneness of a
restricted life. The reasoning goes: "If the tourists can have a drink,
a fun night out, a good meal, a travel visa, a decent income, why can't
I?" The state has responded by harassing, and when it sees fit, jailing
Cubans who talk too much with foreigners in the streets of downtown Havana.

The boom in state-run luxury tourism undermines the revolution. The
Ministry of Finance and Pricing is on the far end of Obispo Street, the
same street where El Floridita and many other tourist bars and
restaurants are located. Inside the ministry's neocolonial building
there is a huge banner, with a younger-looking Fidel dressed in green
fatigues, explaining the meaning of Cuba's ongoing struggle.
"Revolution," it declares, "is the feeling of an historical moment; it
is to change everything that should be changed; it is plain equality and
liberty; it is to treat everyone like human beings." It concludes:
"Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is to struggle for our
dreams of justice for Cuba, for the world."

I empathize with and respect the 1959 Cuban Revolution. There was
legitimate reason for revolt. A visit to the island, however, makes it
impossible to morally accept what's happened since. Rhetoric and action
have long parted ways.

There is not enough hope or basic necessities for the majority of
Cubans. Healthy and affordable food, consistent and clean drinking
water, uncensored news sources, the internet, sustained cross-cultural
connections (not just at hotels with false smiles), a livable income...
travel... freedom... these should be the fruits of revolution. Instead,
they remain intangible possibilities for Cubans who stay on the island
and follow the rules.

Young people are trapped in a country run by old authoritarians talking
about 1959 like it was yesterday and forever. The nation's leaders keep
looking to the past. In the face of material and existential
uncertainty, the revolutionary government has in fact returned to
develop one of its original enemies.

At first I was confused how Hemingway could be a beloved figure for a
state claiming to be so revolutionary. For all of Hemingway's literary
talent, and his sympathy for the downtrodden (fishermen, peasants, war
veterans, bootleggers, and Indians), he was still by most accounts a
bigoted white man who demanded that he be called "Papa." People of color
and women were always inferior to the risk-taking righteousness of
Hemingway and his white-male characters. His image of himself was his
favorite literary figure. He was the authority, the troubled explorer,
looking out on the good, bad, ugly, and also the beauty of the world. He
was "Papa." The Cuban Revolution has created a similar narrative, and
image, of itself. Fidel is still the island's "Papa." The revolution's
most revered characters continue to be virile white-men. Che, Camilo,
Raul, even Martí. Everyone else is still in the backseat, or serving drinks.

For travelers contemplating a trip to Cuba this shouldn't mean stay home
or visit somewhere else. Just the opposite. The embargo is also
wrongheaded policy. It shares responsibility for the island's troubles.
There is both an external and internal embargo against Cubans.

If you do travel to Cuba: engage, meet, and listen to local people, with
love and humility; talk politics and history, and the uncertain meaning
of freedom; share and exchange, and avoid the poison of apartheid
luxury; learn and speak the truth about the troubles and advantages of
the different political-economic systems in the U.S. and Cuba. Dialogue
and cross-cultural exchange are the only hope for forging a respectful
relationship between our two nations.

Viva Cuba Libre!

And don't be a tourist.

Source: Hemingway, Tourism, and the Contradictions of Revolutionary
Cuba | Blake Scott -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-scott/he-aint-my-papa-hemingway_b_5761948.html?utm_hp_ref=travel&ir=Travel