Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cuba’s Port of Mariel Lags Behind Panama Canal Expansion

Cuba's Port of Mariel Lags Behind Panama Canal Expansion / 14ymedio,
Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 25 June 2016 — "We want to be on the
front pages of newspapers" claimed a taxi driver in the middle of heavy
traffic on a Panamanian street after being asked about the
leaked documents from the firm Mossacl Fonseca. A few weeks after that
conversation, the media focused again on that country this Sunday, but
this time for the opening of the new Panama Canal locks.

Between the cacophony of the official celebrations and the criticisms
provoked by the megaproject, one thing is missing from the news reports:
the supposed beneficiary of such improvements – Cuba's Port of Mariel. A
cloak of silence surrounds the details of its current conditions, or
lack of conditions, to serve as a stopover for ships that will pass
through the new facilities and can carry up to 13,000
20-foot-equivalent-unit (TEUs) containers each.

When the Cosco shipping company's vessel Andronikos, from China, with a
capacity of 9,400 containers passes from the Atlantic to the Pacific
through the new facilities today, it will awaken the competition between
the region's ports to win the largest numbers of vessels using the canal.

In April of 2015, one of those responsible for the development of the
Cuban port facility some 28 miles from Havana, said that the government
aspired to convert the container terminal at the Port of Mariel into a
"better choice" for transshipments in the region, once the Panama canal
expansion opened.

A projection also confirmed recently by Alicia Barcena, Executive
Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said that the port will be "a major logistics
hub and regional transfer" and stressed "the huge advances in the Mariel
Special Development Zone (ZDEM) and its port terminal."

However, the flagship project of Raul Castro's government, intended to
boost the national economy, generate exports and attract investment, is
not ready at the precise moment when it might tap the huge flow of cargo
through the improved Panama locks. Several sources consulted suggest
that the the main cause for the delay is the poor dredging of Mariel Bay.

With 4,268 workers, including 454 technicians and 221 engineers, the
Port of Mariel has not taken advantage of the nine-year duration of the
work on the Panama Canal, including the fact that that project is more
than 24 months late in relation to its initial schedule. A reality that
belies Cuba's official forecasts that placed the beginning of 2016 as
the date for the opening of its terminal for Post-Panamax containers.

However, Miami-Dade County has done its work. Last year that port city
served the highest number of containers in ten years, and has been
preparing to welcome the large freighters that transit through the new
locks. Officials there hope that port will become the first stop in the
southeastern region of the United States, before the boats file through
Panama.

The works in Miami have been mentioned over the past few days by the
international media, linking them closely to the Panama
Canal. Improvements in the port facilities include new railroad service,
plus a tunnel connecting the port with the interstate highway
system. While in Cuba, tons of rice and fertilizer have remain stuck in
the Bay of Havana in recent weeks, in the absence of freight cars to
transport them.

Significantly, the issue of the Port of Mariel has a diminished presence
in the official Cuban media and the few reports that are transmitted
avoid specifying the current volumes of activity. No ZDEM specialist or
authority has explained to the national press how the country will take
advantage of the opportunities opening from today, while Panamanians
celebrate the inauguration of the work of the century.

Instead of information, we get only silence and rumors. The dark wall of
secrecy installed around the Port of Mariel separates the official
megaprojects from reality.

Source: Cuba's Port of Mariel Lags Behind Panama Canal Expansion /
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubas-port-of-mariel-lags-behind-panama-canal-expansion-14ymedio-yoani-sanchez/

Archbishop Of Havana Wants “Socialism To Progress”

Archbishop Of Havana Wants "Socialism To Progress" / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 27 June 2016 — The newly appointed archbishop of
Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia, said in an interview broadcast Monday
by the Associated Press (AP) that does not want that Cuba "to have
capitalism or anything in that style, but for socialism to progress" to
go "forward to fair, balanced and fraternal society."

The priest defended the work of his predecessor, Jaime Ortega. "I think
that the cardinal did a great deal of good," he said. "In some places
there is a slightly negative image of him, and it is false. I am going
to continue doing what he did."

The archbishop said he doesn't fear the criticisms of government
opponents, which for years demanded that Ortega, who led the archdiocese
for three decades, press for a change in the country's political model.

Born in 1948 in Camagüey, Garcia did not support the Revolution after
its victory in 1959. He was ordained a priest in 1972 and became
Archbishop of Camagüey in 2002. His father died in prison accused of
being responsible for a train accident, which took place in unclear
circumstances, at the end of the 1960s, an era marked by harassment of
religious figures. Despite the fact that he challenged the state in the
1970s by offering catechism in homes, he later changed his attitude
toward the authorities. "There were always people who remained faithful
despite the great difficulties at the beginning of the Revolution. One
can walk, talk and look to the future," he told the AP. "We can't live
in the past."

Source: Archbishop Of Havana Wants "Socialism To Progress" / 14ymedio –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/archbishop-of-havana-wants-socialism-to-progress-14ymedio/

Gagged Words

Gagged Words / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea

14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenchea, Santa Clara, 27 June 2016 – The Eva
Tas Foundation, located in Amsterdam, publishes and promotes texts that
have been and are censored, regardless of where or how. Indeed, as a
part of this laudable and necessary work, this institution just
published two books by one of the most important figures in Cuban
letters, and one of the highest contemporary examples of commitment to
the truth and the defense of freedom: Amir Valle.

Gagged Words is one of them. The book was completed this 20 February,
and though the ink hasn't dried yet it is essential reading for anyone
who wants to know the history of the Castro regime's censorship,
harassment and persecution of creative work and thought in Cuba, mainly
in literature and film, but above all it reveals the subtle mechanisms
of intellectual repression that the regime has adopted in these times of
what some call late-Castroism.

Amir Valle, one of the most important Cuban intellectuals of all time,
describes certain keys to this veiled censorship or repression that goes
unnoticed by many strangers to the Cuban island. This censorship or
repression in many cases is considered by the new Mr. Magoo as a hoax
invented by enemies to discredit the "greatest example of human dignity
and social justice in the world today": The Cuba of Fidel. For example,
the complex mechanisms which prevents foreign publishers at our Book
Fairs from breaking the "ideological firmness" of our people by giving
them access to controversial literature.

The foreword of the book is by another great of our literature and a
person with an intellectual commitment to truth and freedom: Angel
Santiesteban. Thanks to this prologue, the reader from other cultures
(what Cuban does not know who we are talking about?) can learn the
essential aspects of Amir's life from the mouth of someone who has known
him intensely for almost three decades, and who addresses the worth of
information that one is about to receive, in very direct language, with
which a master of the language aims to reach the widest possible audience.

It is not by chance, but by ineluctable statistical necessity (here
surveillance and harassment never sleep), that this book came to me from
the hands of another intellectual who is often quoted in the pages
of Gagged Words, whom the police arrested Friday in my and my wife's
presence at one of the busiest intersections in Santa Clara. As the
captain of the secret police informed us, on suddenly materializing next
to us out of nowhere (what a shock to me, an atheist!) they took him to
talk "a little while" with them: "Because, compadre, with Vilches we
couldn't have done better, check it out, we've even resolved (they = the
secret police, it is understood) to put him on the jury in a contest
there in Varadero."

Gagged Words is a book with which, if you are still one of the clueless
of good faith who remain out there, you should do two things: the first
is to read it. The second is to go to Cuba with it in your suitcase so
that you can, with total sincerity, declare it at Customs, and share it
with any Cuban with the face of a reader you run into in the street.
Only then will the reality of the "Raulist opening" be known first hand
with regards to intellectual creativity, thinking and the free
discussion of the ideas. Keeping in mind, if you are one of those
anti-Yankee global-phobics who come and go in the world today, that Amir
Valle, even though they invited him, never stepped foot in what was then
the United States Interest Section in Cuba.

And it is my good friend, who then returned to the plane, expelled from
the island as a persona non grata, as Amir summarizes in an epilogue:
(In Cuba) "independence, creative freedom, free expression of creativity
are elements as palpable as galaxy EGS-ZS8-I, the most distant, 13,000
million light years from earth."

A pdf of Gagged Words is available here.
http://translatingcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/valle_en_cuba_def.pdf

Source: Gagged Words / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/gagged-words-14ymedio-jose-gabriel-barrenechea/

Improving relations between the US and Cuba making life difficult for Danish tourists

Improving relations between the US and Cuba making life difficult for
Danish tourists
A classic case of too many cooks spoiling the ajiaco cubano
June 28th, 2016 2:43 pm| by Shifa Rahaman

Danes hoping to travel to Cuba may be in for some unpleasant surprises:
ever since relations between the United States and the island nation
have warmed up, Danes are finding it much harder than before to secure
their spot at the table.

Americans are now traveling to Cuba in droves, and the demand for the
dollar means that most hotels are fully booked and transport has
become more complicated.

No longer a dream destination
The travel agency Hannibal Rejser has been monitoring the situation and
is no longer suggesting Cuba as a travel destination to Danes interested
in going on holiday.

"It is no longer a destination I suggest to people," said Jesper Hannibal.

"There are too many bumps in the road now, and if you're not prepared to
deal with them, you're better off finding other destinations."

Niels Amstrup from the travel agency Jyske Rejsebureau also chimed in,
saying that the interest in traveling to Cuba among Danes has fallen
between 10 and 20 percent compared to last year.

Source: Improving relations between the US and Cuba making life
difficult for Danish tourists | The Post -
http://cphpost.dk/news/improving-relations-between-the-us-and-cuba-making-life-difficult-for-danish-tourists.html

As the Doors Open to Cuba, Should Your Business Be Entering?

As the Doors Open to Cuba, Should Your Business Be Entering?
One Challenge: How to Obtain Reliable Information About Potential Local
Partners

The easing of sanctions against Cuba is creating opportunities for some
businesses to explore a market that has been largely closed to U.S.
businesses for more than 50 years. As a result of changes announced by
President Obama starting in December 2014, it is now possible for U.S.
businesses engaged in certain types of activities to set up operations
in Cuba, giving those businesses the chance to stay actively engaged in
the local market on a daily basis.

Businesses that fall within the authorized categories may establish a
business and physical presence in Cuba, and they may employ both Cuban
nationals and persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This provides an
opportunity to hire local personnel who have a broader understanding of
the local marketplace and scope of opportunities.

One of the challenges I have heard many clients cite as they are trying
to decide whether and how to enter the Cuban market is how to obtain
reliable information about private entrepreneurs, the local construction
industry, and other segments of the market, information which is needed
to understand whether the requirements of certain OFAC general licenses
and EAR license exceptions can be satisfied. Being able to hire a local
may give you an advantage in identifying the best opportunities for
sales that will fall within the authorized scope of the US rules.

In addition, you are also permitted to employ in Cuba persons who are
subject to U.S. jurisdiction, which includes U.S. citizens and permanent
residents. This enables you to relocate current company personnel, who
have the requisite knowledge about your business, to Cuba. Because they
know your business, such individuals may be the perfect complement to
the Cuban national you hire locally.

The Cuba rule changes have also authorized new means for undertaking
various financial transactions. In particular, credit cards issued by
U.S. financial institutions may now be used in Cuba. Moreover, U.S.
businesses that set up operations in Cuba are permitted to open and
maintain bank accounts in Cuba for the purpose of engaging in authorized
activities in Cuba. The payment terms for items exported from the United
States to Cuba and for other transactions authorized pursuant to the
Cuba sanctions have been eased on all types of exports except
agricultural commodities. This permits transactions with Cuba to be
conducted in U.S. dollars and authorizes U.S. banks to process a broad
array of transactions involving Cuba.

Take note, however, that just because they are authorized to engage in
additional transactions involving Cuba, not all U.S. banks and credit
card companies are eager to do so because of potential compliance risks.
In addition, the local economy in Cuba remains largely cash-based; many
businesses there do not yet accept credit cards.

Entry into the market is not without its limitations. In addition to the
challenges that result from a lack of development of certain markets and
sectors of the Cuban economy, compliance with the sanctions regulations
remains a trap for the unwary. You would be wise to work closely with
counsel having experience with the Cuba sanctions regulations to ensure
that any activities your business undertakes involving Cuba stay in
compliance with the rules. The regulations are complex—take the section
that provides authorization to establish a business and physical
presence in Cuba; it cites at least a dozen other sections of the Cuba
sanctions regulations in the course of telling you what is and is not
permitted and by whom.

And by no means have the Cuba sanctions—or the related penalties—gone
away. There remain broad prohibitions on engaging in transactions
involving Cuba, including restrictions on the exports of goods to Cuba
in many circumstances. Even with the increased opportunities, it remains
imperative to enter the Cuban marketplace with caution to ensure compliance.

Susan Kovarovics is a partner at the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. Megan
Gajewski Barnhill is an associate at the firm.

Source: As the Doors Open to Cuba, Should Your Business Be Entering? |
Global Trade Magazine -
http://www.globaltrademag.com/global-trade-daily/commentary/as-the-doors-open-to-cuba-should-your-business-be-entering

Cuba's new archbishop expected to bring changes with his humble, modest style

Cuba's new archbishop expected to bring changes with his humble, modest
style
Published June 27, 2016 Fox News Latino

JARUCO, CUBA (AP) – In the mid-1970s, a recently ordained priest
trekked the Cuban countryside, defying the communist government by
distributing hand-printed religious pamphlets to townspeople bold enough
to open their doors.

At the height of Cuba's anti-religious sentiment, the man known as
Father Juanito was tolerated thanks to his soft-spoken manner and
unbending will, say those who followed his rise. His admirers say that
personality served him well when he became bishop of the eastern city of
Camaguey and launched an intensive outreach to the poor, arranging aid
for needy pregnant women and diverting religious processions off main
streets into the humblest neighborhoods.

"He's an inexhaustible worker, and not in comfortable locations, but in
difficult and tricky ones," said Maribel Moreno, secretary and archivist
for Camaguey's archdiocese for two decades.

In more than a dozen interviews, those who know Juan de la Caridad
García said they expect him to transform the Cuban Catholic Church in
his new post as archbishop of Havana, which he assumed late last month.
After three decades under Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a skilled diplomat
comfortable in the halls of power, Cuba's most important
non-governmental institution is being led by a man focused on rebuilding
the church's relationship with ordinary Cubans.

Ortega built warmer church relations with the Cuban government, winning
important freedoms for the church. He even helped negotiate U.S.-Cuban
detente, carrying a secret papal message from Havana to Washington. The
cardinal attended diplomatic receptions in Havana and cultural galas
with high-ranking government officials. He gave television interviews to
Cuban and international stations and spoke at major universities overseas.

When Pope Francis appointed García to head the Archdiocese of Havana in
April, the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops highlighted García's
"simplicity of life, apostolic dedication, prayer and a life of virtue."

"The overwhelming effort and the mood will be eminently pastoral, even
though diplomatic and political matters must be tended to," said the
Rev. Ignacio Zaldumbide, a friend since they were university and
seminary students.

García's pastoral focus was on display one recent Sunday when he left
Havana's grand cathedral to celebrate Mass at the St. John the Baptist
church in the small town of Jaruco, in central Mayabeque province. He
handed out sweets to children and joked with congregants about how some
town residents focused more on drinking than religion and attended
church once every 40 years.

"Obviously there are many things to work on, many places to spread the
word, but I'm not going to start from zero. The previous bishops and
Cardinal Jaime Ortega have done a lot," García told The Associated Press
after Mass. "The church lives the Gospel, announces the Gospel and
denounces what's wrong in order for progress to be made."

His predecessor has been criticized by dissidents and anti-Castro
Cuban-Americans for praising achievements of the Cuban revolution and
maintaining a non-confrontational relationship with the government, even
as he helped negotiate the release of prisoners including those held on
political charges. In retirement, Ortega will live in a former seminary
in Old Havana, where some church observers believe he will serve for
some time as the church's main emissary to the Cuban government as
García tends to his flock.

However the responsibilities are divided, García said he doesn't intend
to change the church's approach to the government.

"I think the cardinal did a lot of good," García said. "There's a
slightly negative image of him in some places and that's false. I am
going to continue what he did."

García said he shares the government's stated vision of gradual reform
in Cuba, which is slowly opening its economy to private enterprise and
granting Cubans a limited number of new personal freedoms within a
single-party system criticized as the last undemocratic government in
Latin America.

The church doesn't want "capitalism or anything of the sort, rather that
socialism progresses in a just, equal and brotherly society," the new
archbishop said.

Born on June 11, 1948, in Camaguey, García was the first of six children
of an observant Catholic railroad administrator and a homemaker.
Resisting the atheist ideology of Cuba's 1959 socialist revolution, he
entered seminary and was ordained a priest in 1972, becoming part of a
persecuted minority. At that time, Communist Party member broadcast
propaganda on speakers placed in the doors of churches, and the
government frequently confiscated church property.

In the late 1960s, García's bureaucrat father died of a heart attack in
prison after he was held on charges related to the mismanagement of the
state railroad system where he worked, Zaldumbide said.

García showed little bitterness after his father's death, and no fear of
resisting the government's repression of Catholicism, say those who know
him.

"People stayed in the church despite grand difficulties at the start of
the revolution. One can move forward, talking and looking toward the
future," García said. "One doesn't have to live in the past."

Moreno remembered García rising at dawn to pray and personally deliver
invitations for children to march in religious processions. He assembled
lists of pregnant women to receive help and once lent his towel, a rare
commodity, to church volunteers bathing an alcoholic man.

García frequently took a beat-up jeep to distribute pamphlets and lead
services in far-flung villages, "when we could only dream of missionary
work in Cuba, because we had to be careful leaving the walls of the
church," Zaldumbide said.

Named auxiliary bishop of Camaguey in 1997 and archbishop of the diocese
in 2002, García negotiated closely with local communist functionaries
over expanding the church's social outreach, said Miguel Angel Ortiz,
director of the Catholic charity Caritas in the city.

"We always talked about a path of sowing confidence with the
government," Ortiz said. "We tried to not let the past weigh on our
dialogue."

Source: Cuba's new archbishop expected to bring changes with his humble,
modest style | Fox News Latino -
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2016/06/27/cuba-new-archbishop-expected-to-bring-changes-with-his-humble-modest-style/

Former owners seek compensation for seized Cuba nickle mines

Former owners seek compensation for seized Cuba nickle mines
Michael Voss@mvosscuba
June 27, 2016

Cuba's most well-known exports may be cigars, rum and sugar, but its
nickel deposits are earning the country more than all those combined.

Now Cuba's, biggest nickel mine has also become one of the biggest
compensation claims from its former American owners.

CCTV America's Michael Voss has just returned from the first authorized
foreign press trip the Cuban authorities have ever allowed to the mines.

Moa, near the eastern tip of Cuba is home to the country's largest open
cast mines.

Nickel is one of Cuba's few natural resources and it's long been one of
the country's top export earners.

But global nickel prices are at a five year low; this has impacted not
just on revenues but also delayed much needed modernization of the
processing facilities which could help boost production. A new acid
production plant is finally nearing completion, financed by the Canadian
joint venture partner, Sherritt International.

But plans to extend the oldest section were put on hold when Nickel
prices fell.

Nickel is an important component in the manufacture of stainless steel.
The Moa mine also produces cobalt, used to make alloys for jet engines.

The U.S. is a major importer of both metals. Its nearest supplier could,
in the future, be Cuba.

Video at:

Source: Former owners seek compensation for seized Cuba nickle mines |
CCTV America -
http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/06/27/former-owners-seek-compensation-for-seized-cuba-nickle-mines

Obama in Cuba - Three Months Later

Obama in Cuba: Three Months Later
06/27/2016 12:57 pm ET
Miriam Leiva
Havana-based independent journalist

In Cuba, time goes by slowly. Raul Castro proudly declares he moves
without rush. Cubans have been waiting 57 years, so in three month
nothing usually happens apart from queues, boring meetings, soap operas,
propaganda, spinning out the ridiculous salaries and pensions, and
selling in the black market. But the three months elapsed since Obama's
almost three-days' visit have run full of unusual events. His respectful
and near tone, life on TV, elaborating on democracy and Cubans'
capabilities to devise their future revealed a new perception of a
president and opportunities, in contrast to Raul Castro's worn out
aggressive speech while tolerating the challenging ideas expressed by
the enemy. The impact on the population has neutralized the political
battle waged under the flag of a revolution, whose permanent failure
diminishes life quality and hopes.

It's not only about trade and investments. In fact, the turn in United
States' Cuban approach was about fulfilling the same goals by other
means: the people-to-people policy. When Raul Castro accepted Obama's
terms leading to D17-2014, he was impelled by the need of an auspicious
environment for huge investments, writing of the unpaid international
debts since 1986 and increasing tourism to cope with the economic
crisis, known as the Special Period, commenced in the early 1990s.
Venezuela's petrodollars were declining and at stake in the short run.
He had to face the challenge of opening the entrenched archipelago to
the world, especially to Fidel Castro's most feared influence: the
United States.

The economic hardships are coped and self-employment flourishes with the
remittances of money by relatives living in the U.S., and the services
offered to the Americans and Cuban-Americans visiting. Remittances
amounted $3.35 million dollars in 2015 with a steady growth since 2009,
when Obama lifted the limits imposed by George W. Bush in 2004. Then
Cuban parents and siblings could only travel to the island every three
years and very limited the other way around. Since restrictions ended,
visits increased from 163,019 in 2009 to more than 300,000 in 2015. In
2009, 52,455 Americans under 12 categories were authorized to travel,
and since January 2015 individuals meeting the conditions laid out in
the regulations do not need to apply for a license, which has
facilitated increasing visitors to 161,233 in 2015, and 94,000 in the
first semester of 2016. When all Americans may travel freely to Cuba,
tourism is expected by the millions. Airlines are getting ready. June
6th, American Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest and
Sun Country received permission to resume scheduled commercial-air
service for the first time in more than five decades. In recent years,
only charter flights had been operating. The Department of
Transportation authorized round-trips from five cities in the United
States to nine cities in Cuba other than Havana. The capital will be
decided soon. Service is expected to begin this fall.

Cubans think that wifi in parks in Havana and some towns is a move of
the government impelled by Obama's efforts to facilitate Internet
access, although it is controlled and expensive. They consider that much
more could be achieved, if only the Cuban authorities allow the
implementation of the changes announced by the president on D-17 and
further, such as certain micro-financing projects, and entrepreneurial
and business training and commercial imports for self-employed
(cuentapropistas) and private farmers.

Government surveillance is the same, but Cubans are aware that Americans
are creating a more relaxed environment. Exhibitions and performances by
American musicians, chorus, dancers and actors have huge audiences all
over the country; sportsmen, writers, scientists and academics exchange
expertise on the island and Cubans are also traveling to the United
States. Concerts with thousands of people enjoying the music banned for
decades, Hollywood shooting in Havana, American celebrities in the
streets, cruisers and boats friendly welcomed, are making a difference.

Meanwhile, the embargo is still in place, and Obama's executive orders
advance slowly due to American legislation and Cuban government's fears
and bureaucracy. In the United States, there is a feverish mood among
senators, congressmen, governors, entrepreneurs, traders and lobbyists
for or against lifting the travel band and the embargo, and academics
lecture on how to figure out the intricate Cuban webs. On the island, it
is quite simpler: all decisions are taken by the leaders of the
Communist Party, and the Councils of State and Government: Raul Castro,
with the influence or acceptance of Fidel Castro and their closest
circles. The slow pace might be a sign of their belief that the next
Administration will continue the current path, adjusted to the new
president's characteristics. Nevertheless, the authorities have been
wasting opportunities while trying to keep on herding the population
with ideological campaigns aimed at restraining divergent opinions and
trying to offset American influence.

Miriam Leiva
Independent journalist
Havana, June 25st, 2016

Source: Obama in Cuba: Three Months Later -
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miriam-leiva/obama-in-cuba-three-months-later_b_10701436.html

In 'Historic Moment,' Cuba Opens First U.S.-Operated Hotel

In 'Historic Moment,' Cuba Opens First U.S.-Operated Hotel
by REUTERS

A large "Four Points by Sheraton" sign has gone up outside the Havana
hotel that this week becomes the first in Cuba to operate under a U.S.
brand since the 1959 revolution.

The military-owned Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, close to the Caribbean
seafront, is one of two hotels that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
agreed to manage in a multimillion-dollar deal with Cuba in March.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro hold their
first meeting on the second day of Obama's visit to Cuba, in Havana
March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
For decades, such arrangements have been prohibited under the U.S.
economic embargo of the Communist-ruled island. But while the embargo
remains in place, the Obama administration has loosened restrictions on
trade and investment since it announced a detente with Cuba in December
2014.

"This is a historic moment," said Nancy Sarabia, public relations
manager for the hotel, adding that the official inauguration would take
place on Tuesday. She called the hotel "a symbol of brotherhood and
collaboration."

Starwood is the first U.S. company to commit major money to Cuba since
Fidel Castro and his bearded rebels overthrew a pro-American government
on Jan. 1, 1959.

The company said it would not close the 5th Avenue Hotel while it
refurbished it, a process that would take several months. Workers were
re-painting the lobby on Monday.

According to Starwood's website, it will start operating state-owned
Gran Caribe Inglaterra Hotel under its Luxury Collection brand on Aug. 31.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called the embargo a failure and
Washington is increasingly issuing special permissions to companies to
do business with Cuba.

Florida-based Stonegate Bank has received permission to issue credit
cards for use in Cuba. On Monday, Cuba confirmed these could be used to
withdraw cash in the country.

These examples remain exceptions to the rule. Only the U.S. Congress can
completely remove the Cuba embargo, and the Republican majority
leadership wants it in place as long as Cuba's one-party state represses
domestic political opponents and holds a media monopoly.

Many U.S. business executives see Cuba as a missed opportunity and have
stepped up interest since the detente. Among those are U.S. hotel chain
executives, keen to get in on Cuba's recent tourism boom.

Cuba had 1.5 million tourists visit in the first four months of 2016, up
13.5 percent from a year earlier, partly due to relaxed U.S. travel
restrictions.

Those numbers are expected to balloon if the United States lifts its
travel ban altogether.

At Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, bookings are already unavailable for
several future dates, with rooms going for nearly $200 a night.

Castro nationalized the tourism industry after the revolution, but since
then, Cuba has struck joint venture deals with several foreign hotel
operators.

Source: In 'Historic Moment,' Cuba Opens First U.S.-Operated Hotel - NBC
News -
http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/historic-moment-cuba-opens-first-u-s-operated-hotel-n600156

U.S. companies test limits of Cuba embargo

U.S. companies test limits of Cuba embargo

The embargo, Cuban obstacles and uncertainty in electoral year hold back
banks and corporations.
NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

U.S. residents who travel to Cuba will be able to use a MasterCard
issued by Florida-based Stonegate, the bank announced this month. But
what happens if they use the card in a hotel owned by the Cuban military
or a property seized by the Cuban government from U.S. owners in the 1960s?

For now, nothing. Since January 2015, the Obama administration has
allowed authorized U.S. visitors to use credit and debit cards in Cuba.
One day before President Barack Obama arrived in Havana March 20, the
administration also licensed Starwood hotels to administer two Cuban
hotels and spend money remodeling them.

One of those hotels, the Quinta Avenida Habana, is owned by the Gaviota
Tourism Group, a company owned by Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces.
Gaviota dominates the island's tourist industry, with more than 20,000
hotel rooms.

Details of the Starwood deal have not been made public, and neither the
company nor Stonegate replied to el Nuevo Herald requests for comment on
this story.

But critics of the new Obama policy toward Cuba believe that both the
credit card and hotel agreements violate the U.S. embargo and are not in
line with the administration's declared policy of "empowering the Cuban
people."

Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said the use of credit cards by
authorized travelers is allowed, but would violate Section 103 of the
1996 Helms-Burton law if the transactions involve properties seized by
the Cuban government from U.S. owners.

The Obama administration "tries to justify legal actions by pointing to
one part of the law, but they are violating other parts," said
Diaz-Balart. "When you talk about offering financing and stolen
properties, I think you are violating the law."

Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy
PAC, said Section 103 "has no exceptions as written." The Obama
administration, he added, has been "stretching" embargo rules to
introduce new "exceptions" that derive from previous exceptions but are
"inconsistent" with other parts of the law.

Claver-Carone, who follows Cuba policy closely on his blog, Capitol Hill
Cubans, said the license issued to Starwood is "inconsistent" with the
policy of "empowering the Cuban people" because it would benefit the
military, not private business people.

In the case of Stonegate, he said, the U.S. Treasury Department should
require the bank to set up a system to certify that transactions with
its credit card will not involve confiscated U.S. properties.

A Treasury statement sent to el Nuevo Herald said its Office of Foreign
Assets Control "does not consider the use of credit cards by authorized
travelers in Cuba to be transactions subject to the prohibition in
Section 103."

Pedro Freyre, a lawyer at Miami-based Ackerman Senterfitt who advises
companies interested in doing business in Cuba, said the
administration's interpretation of Section 103 "is the correct one."

"I believe that Congress did not intend to limit credit card
transactions to authorized travel," he said. "If you go to the law
itself, in the definition of trafficking [with confiscated properties]
there is a specific exemption for travel-related transactions. That
indicates the intent of Congress when it approved the law."

Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican who was one of the drafters of
Helms-Burton, said that although the law does include that exemption,
the intent of Congress was to outlaw any form of investments on the
island and financing for the government. "The law has not changed, and
the embargo has not been lifted," he said.

Legal studies generated by both sides of the policy debate over Cuba
have reached different conclusions, but all agree that Section 103 would
take precedence.

The law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP concluded in January of 2015 that
the new rules allowing the use of debit and credit cards "were
inconsistent with the prohibitions in the U.S. law related to indirect
financing of confiscated properties in Cuba."

A report commissioned by the Cuba Study Group from the law firm Hogan
Lovells in 2011 on executive branch powers concluded the president could
allow U.S. banks to offer Cuba financing for transactions linked to the
provision of authorized services.

"Any such authorizations, however, would be subject to the prohibitions
set forth in Section 103" and other laws "on the provisions for
transactions involving property confiscated by the Cuban government."

Source: U.S. companies test limits of Cuba embargo | In Cuba Today -
http://www.incubatoday.com/news/article86212852.html

Who judges them?

'Who judges them?'
BORIS GONZÁLEZ ARENAS | La Habana | 27 de Junio de 2016 - 14:34 CEST.

Doraisa Correoso Pozo was born in Santiago de Cuba on 11 April, 1969.
When she was five years old she and her siblings witnessed the murder of
their mother, Ladis Luisa Pozo, stabbed by a man who claimed to be in
love with her. She was raised, above all, by her father, Salvador
Correoso Martínez, with whom she lived for three years in the truck he
used for work.

At 16 Doraisa was the victim of a rape that resulted in the birth of her
only son, Frank Odelvis Deroncelé Correoso, in 1985.

In 1994 she tried to leave the country with her son. Her younger
brother, Andrés Noel Correoso Pozo, who also sought to emigrate, was
taken to prison for two years, but ended up serving eight. All that
time, Doraisa explains, she sought justice for him.

In 1996 she joined the organisation "Followers of Chivás," later dubbed
the "Party of the People," and began a life of intense activity in
support of the opposition and political mobilisation.

In 2000 she backed the Varela Project, and went to on become a "Lady of
Support" to the "Ladies in White." She regularly attended in support of
Laura Pollán in Havana, but on July 16, 2011 they decided to march
towards El Cobre, headed by Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, then the
representative of the women's group in Santiago de Cuba.

There State Security forces awaited them, with individuals mobilised to
attack them. Belkis Cantillo was stabbed in an arm and a truck hit
Doraisa and knocked her down. The incident left her laid up at the
Saturnino Lora Provincial Hospital for several days.

On February 10, 2016, Doraisa Correoso was very close to her house, in
front of the Third (Motorised) Unit, located on Fourth Street, between
Aguilera and Enramada. She was there demanding freedom for Lisandra
Rivera Rodríguez when a group of policemen - or members of the military
dressed as police - emerged from the facilities and brutally attacked
the 11 protestors there, among them Enrique Figuerola, who suffered a
broken jaw.

"They told me that Lisandra had been taken away by the police and was
being held at the Third Unit. I told another sister of mine, and
Enrique, and we all went to the Third with Damarys Rodríguez Ramos,
Lisandra's mother."

"In Santiago, when someone is arrested or in trouble, we all lend our
support, regardless of the organisation to which he or she belongs. We
asked for her release, peacefully, because that's what we are: peaceful
fighters. Suddenly, and I don't know why, a group of political police
officers came out and gave us a terrible beating. Agents "Julio" and
"Richard" (false names) were in charge of the operation.

In plain clothes?

No, dressed as police, in blue.

That was outside the unit?

On the street, in front of the Third Unit.

It was men who hit you?

No women came out to give the beating. They were all men. And they were
big and strong. And the way they hit us ... they had a technique. It
wasn't just any beating. They really gave me a thrashing, and I know
what it's like.

There was a moment when I lost track of time and space, but I didn't
lose consciousness. Rather I wondered: "I was just out there. How can I
be in this cell now?"

I still don´t understand it. One second I was on the street, and the
next I was in the cell. I still don't understand how it happened.

That is, the blows to your head, you don´t know what happened?

I don't know how it happened. I can tell you that I knew my arm hurt.
When I was in the cell with Damarys and Mercedes Hechavarría, Enrique
Figuerola's wife, Mercedes says to me: "Hey Lalo (they call me Lalo)
your shoulder is drooping." And I told her not to touch me, and not to
say anything, so that they wouldn´t know I was in pain. I just put up
with it until they decided to let us go, with a 500-peso fine for
disturbing the peace... We were disturbing the peace? What about them?
Who judges them?

I went to the Provincial Hospital and they were there too. I told them:
"I want a certification of my injury, in order to be able to file
charges." They didn't want to give it to me. I returned the next day.
They saw me and gave me a cast.

Did they give you an X-ray?

An X-ray? In Cuba there are no X-rays for protestors.

So, the person decided that you had a fracture, and put a cast on your arm.

No, it's not a fracture. It's in the ligaments. I had bruises on my
arms. I went to see a neurosurgeon because I had constant headaches. And
because I felt like it. I went home.

Did they give you the documentation of the injuries you suffered?

On my arm, yes. I went to Orthopedics and the attending physician gave
it to me. His surname was Carrión.

So, an orthopedic doctor diagnosed the injuries to your arm, but not
those to your head. They didn´t give you an X-ray, or a CT? Nothing?

No. On February 24 I went with my husband to get my cast changed. I was
trying to avoid the injury that I have now: friction burns from the cast
itself.

Back to Saturnino Lora again.

Yes. I already had sores, and they put one back on. And when the "neuro"
showed up, I knocked on the door and it was the same physician from my
last visit: Yolanda, but I don't know her last name. She says: "This is
the third time I'm going to see you. They still haven´t taken an X-ray?"

I told her that they hadn´t, and she phoned someone. I don't know if it
was the director of the hospital or who it was. She gave my husband a
paper to take to the basement level.

There in the basement level the X-ray technicians refused to treat me.
I told them that if they didn´t give me an X-way I was going to talk to
Administration. My husband said, "Wait a minute, Doraisa, stay there."
He went up and talked to Dr. Yolanda. She called and asked what was
going on. That was when they gave me the X-ray. My husband picked it up,
and said to him: "Let me see the X-ray." When he gave it to me I saw
that it had a dark tumor, with cracks, and I said: "This cannot be. This
cannot be my head." I thought there had been some kind of mistake, and I
went back to the waiting room.

Then they told me that I was the only person who had received an X-ray.
When we showed it to the doctor, she started calling some doctors and
told me: "You're not going anywhere."

"What do you mean?" I replied. "This isn´t my house." Then she told me I
had to be admitted. I had not even gone there to be admitted, but for
the cast. The doctor insisted that I had to stay. She called two
policemen, and the director came down, and I was not permitted to leave.

I was not told what was going on, but something was wrong, and I
couldn't leave. I was admitted to the fifth floor, bed 29, in
Neurosurgery. The neurological doctor who treated me was Fernando Tasé.
I was there for six days. I don't drink water or eat anything from the
hospital. Everything has to be from my house.

What did they do during those six days?

They give me a lot of fluids via IV. They put me through the SOMATOM,
they tested my sight, they took another X-ray...

The X-ray they took the first day, were you able to keep it?

No, they never gave me the X-rays. I have asked Fernando Tasé for the
X-ray two or three times, because I continue to see him. What he
prescribes for me are vitamin serums, monthly or every two weeks. I tell
him that I want my X-ray, and he says that he can´t give it to me, that
they need to study it. I say that there Security is behind that, and
that's why they don´t want to give me the X-ray.

And did they do a tomography and give you the results?

No.

And they won´t tell you what you condition is? They just tell you what
you have to do and prescribe a treatment?

"You cannot get too much sun, or be uncomfortable. You have to rest and
avoid stress." When my life is one of constant stress!

So, you were there for six days, from late February to early March,
admitted, with a diagnosis and a treatment that you don´t even understand.

Yes, and for those six days I couldn't even get out of bed. When I tried
to go to the bathroom I ended up opening the closet door. I was not
allowed to stand up alone or get out of bed. I had to just remain there,
all the time. With the IVs. Yes, but I must say that the medical
attention was very good. The doctors were around all the time.

The X-ray left no doubt. I knew that my head had suffered serious
damage. I was there until I was discharged. I went home, and Dr.
Fernando Tasé continues to treat me.

Does your head still bother you?

Yes.

What medications are you taking? Those vitamin injections?

They give me an IV with a certain amount of vitamins, a red serum that
looks like blood, until it´s all consumed.

And what is the situation with your arm?

I have an arm injury that prevents me from straightening it out. Here I
have the certificate they gave me. And the cast gave me sores.

But your hand is all right?

Yes, my hand is fine. But my arm is not.

Don't move it, there's no need.

No, just for you to see. I can lower my arm this far, you see, but not
any further. After that, there, my arm won´t move any more. The damage
is to the ligaments.

Has your family supported you?

My father reveres me, and I him, because it is he who taught me to
fight. He lives with me because he's 75 and I take care of him. My
husband is with me at all times, and I don´t go out without him or my
grandson, because I'm afraid that the older Castillo will grab me and
give me another beating.

Source: 'Who judges them?' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1467030844_23400.html

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cuban classic cars - a dying breed?

Cuban classic cars: a dying breed?
Andrew English, motoring correspondent
27 JUNE 2016 • 4:53PM

Cuba's roads are crowded with Fifties Americana due mainly to US
sanctions. But as things change politically and economically, is Cuba
about to lose a charming part of its heritage?

Visitors to Cuba return with stories of the dance music, the
cocktails and the fabulous old Fifties American cars, most of them
battered beyond belief but still plying their trades as cabs on Havana's
streets. For 54 years, American economic sanctions made new vehicles
virtually unobtainable, which meant that the old Dodges, Chryslers,
Fords and Chevrolets from the pre-Castro days are constantly mended and
modified to keep them going.

Under dictator Fulgencio Batista in the Fifties, Cuba was a holiday
destination for America and the mob and lots of American cars were
imported from the US, which is only 90 miles away. After Fidel Castro's
revolution they remained in aspic and on a recent trip to the island we
counted endless examples, including some British rarities such as a
Morris Minor and an Austin A35.

While these old hulks are not as safe as a modern supermini, they don't
go very fast and Cuba maintains Draconian penalties for traffic
offences, and the traffic accident rate is below that of the US. They
aren't particularly environmental, however, and while Cuba is quite
small (42,000 square miles with a population of 11.2 million), the cars
throw out a lot of pollution either from their old straight-six and V8
petrol engines or the old diesels with which they are converted.

It's been a cottage industry converting these old cars and keeping them
on the road, and one of the foremost restorers is Jorge Hernandez, who
has been working on American cars in a small village near Havana for 20
years.

"We only work on American cars because we have the tools and the
experience to do it," he says. "I think we are very good at working on
these cars."

Hernandez has a team of six mechanics/restorers and can do anything from
a simple service to a full restoration and an engine transplant. Petrol
costs about $1.20 a litre in Cuba, diesel is about half that, but with
average wages at $25 a month, a lot of taxi drivers opt to have a
secondhand diesel engine transplanted in place of the original petrol
engine.

"We sometimes import the whole front half of a [diesel] car," says
Hernandez, "with 200,000km on the clock. We sell the parts and keep the
diesel engines and transmissions, which we repair and fit to the cars."

Hernandez says it breaks his heart to fit these diesel engines, but
needs must.

"Personally I find it painful to remove the original motor, but it's
economics," he says. His firm keeps the old engine and transmission just
in case a customer decides he wants to return the car to the original
specification.

There is a rub here, however. With an average sulphur content of 4,000
parts per million, Cuban diesel would quickly poison most modern
turbodiesel engines. The EU limits sulphur in diesel to 350ppm, while
Cuban limits are up to 8,000ppm and you can see the results in the form
of noxious black smoke from the exhausts of buses and trucks.
Particulate levels are so sky high, I was forced to pull up from an
early-morning run in Havana coughing and spluttering.

To cope with this grotty fuel, the most suitable oil-burners are robust,
older SsangYong/Mercedes five-cylinder units, as well as those from
early Hyundais and Toyota Landcruisers, though some Peugeot units are
used, which are cheaper, but take more work to install. The state
permits the importation of these old engines, but takes a hefty cut when
they are sold on - and a half-decent SsangYong/Merc engine and
transmission can cost up to $4,000.

"Hyundai, SsangYong, good," said my cab driver in a 1966 Chevrolet Bel
Air. His was fitted with a tiny Hyundai unit which could barely keep
pace with the demands of its air conditioning let alone keep up with the
traffic.

Hernandez says he has fully restored about 130 cars and 90 per cent of
them have had the original motor replaced.

It's not just the punitive import duties on parts that hamper his work,
but in many cases the bits for these old cars simply aren't available.

While a lot of the old cars on Cuban roads bear the scars of battle and
the fight to keep them going, there are also some stunningly restored
old motors out there.

The Cuban classic scene has strict standards for its concours
competitions. While diesel transplants are allowed, they are relegated
to the third and lowest judging category, the second category must have
original motors and the first and most prestigious group must have its
original driveline, trim, brakes and interior. The ingenuity used to
recreate their past glory is simply amazing. Hernandez explains that the
old trim is taken off, painstakingly restored and rechromed or
nickel-plated.

"The new reproduction stuff is too shiny and it doesn't carry the
correct serial number of the car," he says.

Panels are welded up with new metal let in where corrosion has taken
hold and the seats and cabins are retrimmed. But what about the glass,
we ask?

Hernandez explains that the original Fifties compound-curved glass is
almost impossible to get these days, so instead his team have made a
special jig into which they feed a more readily available Moskvich
windscreen, heat it up and remould the glass to the correct shape.

A full restoration takes Hernandez's team about six to seven months and
costs $10,000, although he admits that a lot of the delay is in getting
the right parts imported and "the economic condition of the customer".
With all the right bits in place together, with the money, Hernandez
says he could do a full restoration in two to three months.

"For us, these are more than just classic cars," he says. "They are more
than a hobby, they are part of a family tradition."

He says his favorites are the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air models. "This is
the most beautiful American car. It was one of the most imported cars
into Cuba and it's also one of the most expensive to repair. A lot of
owners wouldn't swap their old classic Chevrolets for a modern car."

But with interest rates, stocks and bonds giving low returns, the values
of classic cars as investments has spiralled around the world. Hernandez
must know the value of these cars through word of mouth. So what happens
in six months when there are 15 flights a week from America bringing
monied tourists with a desire to make quick buck out of the old cars?
Hernandez starts.

"This is a question of pride," he says. "We are not going to sell our
cars to Americans. They are to blame for the poor state of these cars;
we look after them, they destroy them.

"I don't think they will come," he says. "We wouldn't sell our cars
cheap and I don't think they'll want to buy them back. Besides, Europe
will want them too, and their prices will be better."

It's easy to make judgments about Cuba and its natives - which are
usually wrong. We rich Europeans arrive there with all our stuff and
compare ourselves with the seemingly happy and self-contained but
dirt-poor Cubans. But you don't need much to live in Cuba and Castro,
for all his faults, made sure that the education and public health
systems were reasonably well funded even if some households only have
water once every two days and on many parts of the island water is
delivered by truck.

Equally it's too easy to eulogise the Cuban way of life, which is like a
throwback to the days before we gorged ourselves on burgers and sugary
coffee, seemingly incapable of not looking at our mobile telephones for
more than a minute. The smiling faces, simple pleasures of dancing,
talking and walking seem hugely attractive to us, but Cuba is
desperately in need of some kind of investment, if the West doesn't do
it, the Chinese surely will.

Nothing is going to be the same in Cuba and that includes those glorious
old cars.

Source: Cuban classic cars: a dying breed? -
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/classic/cuban-classic-cars-a-dying-breed/

Cuba’s Self-Employed Join State Union to Avoid Trouble

Cuba's Self-Employed Join State Union to Avoid Trouble / 14ymedio, Mario
Penton and Caridad Cruz

14ymedio, Mario J. Penton/Caridad Cruz, Miami/Cienfuegos, 24 June 2016 –
Like every morning, Maria Elena and Enrique go out to sell vegetables,
tubers and fruits in the streets of Cienfuegos. At temperatures of more
than 86 degrees and with a sun that "cracks stones," they travel the
city carrying their products house to house and earning their bread,
literally by the sweat of their brows. They are part of the more than
12,600 self-employed legally registered in the offices of the National
Office of Tax Administration (ONAT) in the province, a not
inconsiderable number for the officials of the Cuba Workers Central
Union (CTC) which has seen in these "workers" an opportunity to increase
their ranks.

Cuba has a unionization rate of almost 96%. According to official
statistics, more than three million workers belong to18 unions that are
grouped under the umbrella of the Cuban Workers Central Union, which
functions as a conveyor belt for the Communist Party's "instructions."

"Our work day begins at five in the morning. At that hour we have to go
wait for the truck that brings the merchandise from the towns. Those who
transport the products are the ones who negotiate the price with the
farmer, and we negotiate with them. Sometimes people don't understand
the high prices, but it's because everyone needs to eat," says Maria Elena.

The self-employed woman is 53-years-old and her son is 19. They have
chosen this way of earning a living because, as they say, "working for
the State does not provide."

"Sometimes the inspectors come and fine us because we are stopped in a
place. Of course, you can always resolve it with some little gift: some
cucumbers, a pound of tomatoes…everyone has needs," she says.

CTC leaders have found in these problems the breeding ground for
promoting membership.

"The street vendors have basic problems with the inspectors. The
advantage of belonging to the union is that if they unfairly fine you,
the workers can come to our offices and have the situation analyzed. If
they show that the sanction has been unjust, we can intervene for its
dismissal. Belonging to the CTC, you are protected," says a union member
who prefers to not give his name.

According to the vendors, the union have been inviting them for months
to become part of the Agricultural Workers Union. "We don't understand
why, but it seems that they want everyone to be unionized," says
Enrique, who also says that, "it does not solve anything for the people."

Several leaders of the CTC consulted by this daily said that more than
80% of the self-employed people in this area are enrolled in some union.

Union dues vary between two and eight pesos according to the worker's
earnings, although the majority of self-employed pay the minimum. The
members also have to pay "My contribution to the homeland," an update of
the concept of "día de haber" – the "voluntary donation of a day's wages
to the Territorial Military Troops, to be spent to acquire weapons for
the "defense of the homeland."*

"People are not much interested in unionization, they do it simply so
that they don't get screwed by them," explains Roberto, a man
self-employed as a scissors and nail clippers sharpener.

"Sometimes they fine us just for the fact of remaining a long time in
the same place selling. What happens is that these days there is so much
sun that we have to take refuge under a shrub for a while in order to
sell, and there the inspectors fall on you. Since our license is issued
for mobile vendors, we cannot spend too much time in the same place,"
says Enrique, who believes that the self-employed workers are the most
vulnerable.

"You can be fined about 700 pesos for selling too much on one corner.
But what's a reasonable time that you can be in that place is not noted
on any official document, it is at the complete discretion of the
inspectors who take advantage of any reason to impose a sanction," he says.

Although the Government promotes its organizations by all means, barely
48% of membership attends union meetings in Cienfuegos, as recognized by
the official press. Independent union organizations exist in the
country, like the Cuban Independent Union Coalition, heavily harassed by
State Security. However, none of the self-employed consulted for this
report say they are familiar with them.

The southern city's statistics reveal what is a fact at the national
level. After some first months in which the self-employed were left
alone, the CTC encouraged carrying out "political work" in order to make
them enter the ranks of the organization. According to their numbers,
more than 400,000 "self-employed workers," of the 500,000 registered in
the country, belong to the official organization. For the moment, the
creation of a union just for the self-employed continues to be a project
"under study."

"There is no other option, in the end we will have to join like everyone
else, so that they don't classify us as disaffected and rain more blows
on us. We have to keep fighting, because we have to resolve it," say the
self-employed who prepare to end their day at eight at night, counting
their meager earnings.

*Translator's note: The so-called "día de haber" was initiated by Fidel
Castro in 1981, requiring workers to "donate" a days wages to the
military. The program was later renamed "día de la Patria," meaning 'One
Day's Work' for the Homeland. The custom (and name) goes back to the
Cuban independence struggle of the 1800s.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

Source: Cuba's Self-Employed Join State Union to Avoid Trouble /
14ymedio, Mario Penton and Caridad Cruz – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cubas-self-employed-join-state-union-to-avoid-trouble-14ymedio-mario-penton-and-caridad-cruz/

The Military Takeover of Eusebio Leal’s Empire

The Military Takeover of Eusebio Leal's Empire / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 14 June 2016 — Capitalizing on the ill health of Dr.
Eusebio Leal* to further strengthen its commercial and business
supremacy over every corner of the island, the state-owned tourism
company Habaguanex will in one day, October 30, assume ownership of the
historic heart of Old Havana. The area will be completely controlled by
that hotbed of Cuban predators, the Business Administrative Group (GAE),
run by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR).

There have been numerous leaks regarding the investigation by the
Comptroller General and the Council of State into the company, named for
Havana's 16th century tribal chieftain, with evidence pointing to a
missing millionaire and alleged corruption in the central warehouses.

"It is common practice for corrupt officials to inspect, discard and
then sell new and recently installed equipment from the company's
hotels, hostels, office buildings, stores, restaurants and cafes. But
turning Habanguanex into a subsidiary of Gaviota [the state-owned
tourism conglomerate] is one of the most brazen and underhanded measures
ever taken by this military-run corporation, headed by General Luis
Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas," says a source close to the
high-profile investigation.

Obviously, its much-talked-about corrupt practices such as parallel
accounting have tarnished the compay's already diminished credibility.
But more ominous than its corruption is, I believe, that GAE's takeover
of Habaguanex amounts to a dangerous expansion whose clear purpose is to
create a monopoly.

The acquisition of the tourism company will be beneficial to military
leaders, who have new financial incentives. It is a subtle way of buying
without having to pay and will allow GAE to enter this market sector. It
also hands over control of the most profitable and best known commercial
real estate in Cuba, Old Havana, which has become a must-see stop for
nostalgic Cuban nationals, international celebrities, foreign heads of
state and curious tourists. It is also evidence of the fierce grudge
General Raul Castro has long carried for the ailing, hard-working and
talented Havana historian who, thanks to his efforts and those of a
large number of Havana citizens, demonstrated that it was possible to
save the Cuban capital's patrimony, an achievement that has earned it
the honorary title Wonder City.

The brutal and ruthless seizure of the historic heart of Havana by the
Cuban military — an act that some describe as a "Triple A" strategy
(appropriation, audacity and ambition) — does not, for now, does
envision a role for another Raulist organization: the Office of the
Historian. But nothing is left to chance. All predators use two basic
techniques in approaching their victims: surprise and fatigue. To these
ends, they have installed, without grace or mercy, the ungainly General
Quiñones as the head of transport for this prestigious office, a man who
formerly served as head of Counter Intelligence for the Ministry of the
Interior.

*Translator's note: Leal served until recently, holding the official
title Historian of the City of Havana, and directed the restoration of
Old Havana and its historical center, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Source: The Military Takeover of Eusebio Leal's Empire / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-military-takeover-of-eusebio-leals-empire-juan-juan-almeida/

Cuba open to all Americans except for...

Cuba open to all Americans except for...
By Silvio Canto, Jr.

We've been hearing a great deal about how opening Cuba will bring in
Americans with their dollars and democratic ways. Well, not all
Americans are welcomed by the Castro regime, as The Hill reports:

"At a time when the Obama Administration is rolling out the red carpet
for Havana, the Cuban government refuses to be open and transparent with
the peoples' Representatives," McCaul said in a statement on Friday.

"Sadly, it appears to be easier for Cubans to come to the United States
than for Members of the House Homeland Security Committee to get to Cuba."

Other lawmakers who were planning to visit Cuba include Reps. John Katko
(R-N.Y.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Henry
Cuellar (D-Texas).

"The Administration is eager to have as many people as possible visit
Cuba -- except for those who are attempting to examine Cuban security
infrastructure," said Katko, chairman of the transportation security
subcommittee.

"We still don't know if Cuba has the adequate body scanners and
explosive detection systems in place, whether it has the technology to
screen for fraudulent passports or ID, whether or how aviation workers
are screened, and if Federal Air Marshals will be allowed to fly
missions to Cuba on commercial flights."

There are a couple of problems here.

First, how can U.S. commercial jets fly to and from Cuba without a full
security checkup? Don't we do this in every country? Do we want to
expose U.S. citizens to terrorism or worse?

Second, this is a huge embarassment for the Obama administration, i.e.
"in your face Obama". The Cuban government is rejecting an official
delegation from the U.S.

It simply confirms that the more you embrace dictators the less they
respect you.

President Obama should order a stop to all flights to and from Cuba
until there is a security clearance. It's time for President Obama to
stand up to something other than just conceding on every issue with the
Cuban dictatorship.

Of course, we are talking about the same president who lets Russian MiGs
fly 50 feet over our ships without consequence.

Source: Blog: Cuba open to all Americans except for... -
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/06/cuba_open_to_all_americans_except_for.html

New archbishop may transform Cuban church with modest style

New archbishop may transform Cuban church with modest style
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 04:14 GMT, 27 June 2016 | UPDATED: 04:15 GMT, 27 June 2016

JARUCO, Cuba (AP) — In the mid-1970s, a recently ordained priest trekked
the Cuban countryside, defying the communist government by distributing
hand-printed religious pamphlets to townspeople bold enough to open
their doors.

At the height of Cuba's anti-religious sentiment, the man known as
Father Juanito was tolerated thanks to his soft-spoken manner and
unbending will, say those who followed his rise. His admirers say that
personality served him well when he became bishop of the eastern city of
Camaguey and launched an intensive outreach to the poor, arranging aid
for needy pregnant women and diverting religious processions off main
streets into the humblest neighborhoods.

"He's an inexhaustible worker, and not in comfortable locations, but in
difficult and tricky ones," said Maribel Moreno, secretary and archivist
for Camaguey's archdiocese for two decades.

In more than a dozen interviews, those who know Juan de la Caridad
Garcia said they expect him to transform the Cuban Catholic Church in
his new post as archbishop of Havana, which he assumed late last month.
After three decades under Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a skilled diplomat
comfortable in the halls of power, Cuba's most important
non-governmental institution is being led by a man focused on rebuilding
the church's relationship with ordinary Cubans.

Ortega built warmer church relations with the Cuban government, winning
important freedoms for the church. He even helped negotiate U.S.-Cuban
detente, carrying a secret papal message from Havana to Washington. The
cardinal attended diplomatic receptions in Havana and cultural galas
with high-ranking government officials. He gave television interviews to
Cuban and international stations and spoke at major universities overseas.

When Pope Francis appointed Garcia to head the Archdiocese of Havana in
April, the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops highlighted Garcia's
"simplicity of life, apostolic dedication, prayer and a life of virtue."

"The overwhelming effort and the mood will be eminently pastoral, even
though diplomatic and political matters must be tended to," said the
Rev. Ignacio Zaldumbide, a friend since they were university and
seminary students.

Garcia's pastoral focus was on display one recent Sunday when he left
Havana's grand cathedral to celebrate Mass at the St. John the Baptist
church in the small town of Jaruco, in central Mayabeque province. He
handed out sweets to children and joked with congregants about how some
town residents focused more on drinking than religion and attended
church once every 40 years.

"Obviously there are many things to work on, many places to spread the
word, but I'm not going to start from zero. The previous bishops and
Cardinal Jaime Ortega have done a lot," Garcia told The Associated Press
after Mass. "The church lives the Gospel, announces the Gospel and
denounces what's wrong in order for progress to be made."

His predecessor has been criticized by dissidents and anti-Castro
Cuban-Americans for praising achievements of the Cuban revolution and
maintaining a non-confrontational relationship with the government, even
as he helped negotiate the release of prisoners including those held on
political charges. In retirement, Ortega will live in a former seminary
in Old Havana, where some church observers believe he will serve for
some time as the church's main emissary to the Cuban government as
Garcia tends to his flock.

However the responsibilities are divided, Garcia said he doesn't intend
to change the church's approach to the government.

"I think the cardinal did a lot of good," Garcia said. "There's a
slightly negative image of him in some places and that's false. I am
going to continue what he did."

Garcia said he shares the government's stated vision of gradual reform
in Cuba, which is slowly opening its economy to private enterprise and
granting Cubans a limited number of new personal freedoms within a
single-party system criticized as the last undemocratic government in
Latin America.

The church doesn't want "capitalism or anything of the sort, rather that
socialism progresses in a just, equal and brotherly society," the new
archbishop said.

Born on June 11, 1948, in Camaguey, Garcia was the first of six children
of an observant Catholic railroad administrator and a homemaker.
Resisting the atheist ideology of Cuba's 1959 socialist revolution, he
entered seminary and was ordained a priest in 1972, becoming part of a
persecuted minority. At that time, Communist Party member broadcast
propaganda on speakers placed in the doors of churches, and the
government frequently confiscated church property.

In the late 1960s, Garcia's bureaucrat father died of a heart attack in
prison after he was held on charges related to the mismanagement of the
state railroad system where he worked, Zaldumbide said.

Garcia showed little bitterness after his father's death, and no fear of
resisting the government's repression of Catholicism, say those who know
him.

"People stayed in the church despite grand difficulties at the start of
the revolution. One can move forward, talking and looking toward the
future," Garcia said. "One doesn't have to live in the past."

Moreno remembered Garcia rising at dawn to pray and personally deliver
invitations for children to march in religious processions. He assembled
lists of pregnant women to receive help and once lent his towel, a rare
commodity, to church volunteers bathing an alcoholic man.

Garcia frequently took a beat-up jeep to distribute pamphlets and lead
services in far-flung villages, "when we could only dream of missionary
work in Cuba, because we had to be careful leaving the walls of the
church," Zaldumbide said.

Named auxiliary bishop of Camaguey in 1997 and archbishop of the diocese
in 2002, Garcia negotiated closely with local communist functionaries
over expanding the church's social outreach, said Miguel Angel Ortiz,
director of the Catholic charity Caritas in the city.

"We always talked about a path of sowing confidence with the
government," Ortiz said. "We tried to not let the past weigh on our
dialogue."

___

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

___

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

Source: New archbishop may transform Cuban church with modest style |
Daily Mail Online -
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3661589/New-archbishop-transform-Cuban-church-modest-style.html

Cuba extends tobacco planting campaign

Cuba extends tobacco planting campaign
Sunday, June 26, 2016 | 9:31 AM

HAVANA, Cuba (CMC) – Agriculture officials have announced plans to
extend the current tobacco campaign until July, to offset losses
stemming from weather conditions.

According to the first vice president of the TABACUBA cigar factory,
Miguel Vladimir Rodriquez Gonzales, the goal is to plant more tobacco to
ensure the restoration of the harvest.

He noted that given the climatic disadvantages, TABACUBA and its
business system adopted appropriate measures regarding risk prevention
against drought, heavy rains and high temperatures that cause the
appearance of pests and diseases.

Gonzales told reporters at a recent press conference, that in the
2015/2016 campaign, workers gathered 24,000 tons of tobacco leaves and
as a result,this will maintain the balance of the industry for this
year through the supply of raw materials for export and domestic
consumption.

He added that the company is already working on the schedule for next
season from April 1 and they have already selected seedbeds areas in
which a programme to eradicate pests is being continued.
However TABACUBA's industry director, Rodis Manuel Ortiz pointed to
major challenges facing the industry such as the modernization projects
of factories, expansion of productive capacities of cigarettes
nationwide and the need to standardize all exportable quality productions.

Source: Cuba extends tobacco planting campaign - News -
JamaicaObserver.com -
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cuba-extends-tobacco-planting-campaign

Defence Force chief blows R500,000 on a trip to Cuba with his wife

Defence Force chief blows R500,000 on a trip to Cuba with his wife
By Staff WriterJune 27, 2016

The DA has accused the government of wasteful spending after it revealed
that chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)‚ General
Solly Shoke, spent R500,000 on a six-day trip to Cuba earlier this month.

The DA said it would submit parliamentary questions to Department of
Defence and Military Veterans, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
regarding the costs and purpose of the trip undertaken by Shoke, along
with his wife and three other military officials to Paris and
subsequently Cuba.

The opposition party said it has previously been refused answers under
the guise that such information cannot be divulged 'in the interests of
national security'.

"This has simply become the favoured way by Minister Nqakula to cover up
details of government corruption," said Kobus Marais, DA Shadow Minister
of Defence and Military Veterans.

The six-day trip to Cuba earlier this month had a R500,000 price tag,
the political party claimed.

This included:
Air travel – business class for the General and his wife;
A 5-star hotel in Havana;
An Audi A6 to drive around in.

"Key Defence areas are being neglected to allow senior officials to live
a life of excess. Essential equipment is falling apart, and we are
struggling to manage peace-keeping commitments. For instance the
protection of the ocean economy – which is supposed to be a government
priority – is woefully unprotected," said Marais.

"Surely such excessive luxury is not necessary especially when Treasury
has tried to implement austerity measures."

Source: Defence Force chief blows R500,000 on a trip to Cuba with his
wife -
http://businesstech.co.za/news/government/128209/defence-force-chief-blows-r500000-on-a-trip-to-cuba-with-his-wife/

The social consequences of a Government that resorts to thugs to stay in power. The case of Doraisa Correoso Pozo

The social consequences of a Government that resorts to thugs to stay in
power. The case of Doraisa Correoso Pozo
BORIS GONZÁLEZ ARENAS | La Habana | 27 de Junio de 2016 - 2:34 pm.

Doraisa Correoso Pozo was born in Santiago de Cuba on 11 April, 1969.
When she was five years old she and her siblings witnessed the murder of
their mother, Ladis Luisa Pozo, stabbed by a man who claimed to be in
love with her. She was raised, above all, by her father, Salvador
Correoso Martínez, with whom she lived for three years in the truck he
used for work.

At 16 Doraisa was the victim of a rape that resulted in the birth of her
only son, Frank Odelvis Deroncelé Correoso, in 1985.

In 1994 she tried to leave the country with her son. Her younger
brother, Andrés Noel Correoso Pozo, who also sought to emigrate, was
taken to prison for two years, but ended up serving eight. All that
time, Doraisa explains, she sought justice for him.

In 1996 she joined the organisation "Followers of Chivás," later dubbed
the "Party of the People," and began a life of intense activity in
support of the opposition and political mobilisation.

In 2000 she backed the Varela Project, and went to on become a "Lady of
Support" to the "Ladies in White." She regularly attended in support of
Laura Pollán in Havana, but on July 16, 2011 they decided to march
towards El Cobre, headed by Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, then the
representative of the women's group in Santiago de Cuba.

There State Security forces awaited them, with individuals mobilised to
attack them. Belkis Cantillo was stabbed in an arm and a truck hit
Doraisa and knocked her down. The incident left her laid up at the
Saturnino Lora Provincial Hospital for several days.

On February 10, 2016, Doraisa Correoso was very close to her house, in
front of the Third (Motorised) Unit, located on Fourth Street, between
Aguilera and Enramada. She was there demanding freedom for Lisandra
Rivera Rodríguez when a group of policemen - or members of the military
dressed as police - emerged from the facilities and brutally attacked
the 11 protestors there, among them Enrique Figuerola, who suffered a
broken jaw.

"They told me that Lisandra had been taken away by the police and was
being held at the Third Unit. I told another sister of mine, and
Enrique, and we all went to the Third with Damarys Rodríguez Ramos,
Lisandra's mother."

"In Santiago, when someone is arrested or in trouble, we all lend our
support, regardless of the organisation to which he or she belongs. We
asked for her release, peacefully, because that's what we are: peaceful
fighters. Suddenly, and I don't know why, a group of political police
officers came out and gave us a terrible beating. Agents "Julio" and
"Richard" (false names) were in charge of the operation.

In plain clothes?

No, dressed as police, in blue.

That was outside the unit?

On the street, in front of the Third Unit.

It was men who hit you?

No women came out to give the beating. They were all men. And they were
big and strong. And the way they hit us ... they had a technique. It
wasn't just any beating. They really gave me a thrashing, and I know
what it's like.

There was a moment when I lost track of time and space, but I didn't
lose consciousness. Rather I wondered: "I was just out there. How can I
be in this cell now?"

I still don´t understand it. One second I was on the street, and the
next I was in the cell. I still don't understand how it happened.

That is, the blows to your head, you don´t know what happened?

I don't know how it happened. I can tell you that I knew my arm hurt.
When I was in the cell with Damarys and Mercedes Hechavarría, Enrique
Figuerola's wife, Mercedes says to me: "Hey Lalo (they call me Lalo)
your shoulder is drooping." And I told her not to touch me, and not to
say anything, so that they wouldn´t know I was in pain. I just put up
with it until they decided to let us go, with a 500-peso fine for
disturbing the peace... We were disturbing the peace? What about them?
Who judges them?

I went to the Provincial Hospital and they were there too. I told them:
"I want a certification of my injury, in order to be able to file
charges." They didn't want to give it to me. I returned the next day.
They saw me and gave me a cast.

Did they give you an X-ray?

An X-ray? In Cuba there are no X-rays for protestors.

So, the person decided that you had a fracture, and put a cast on your arm.

No, it's not a fracture. It's in the ligaments. I had bruises on my
arms. I went to see a neurosurgeon because I had constant headaches. And
because I felt like it. I went home.

Did they give you the documentation of the injuries you suffered?

On my arm, yes. I went to Orthopedics and the attending physician gave
it to me. His surname was Carrión.

So, an orthopedic doctor diagnosed the injuries to your arm, but not
those to your head. They didn´t give you an X-ray, or a CT? Nothing?

No. On February 24 I went with my husband to get my cast changed. I was
trying to avoid the injury that I have now: friction burns from the cast
itself.

Back to Saturnino Lora again.

Yes. I already had sores, and they put one back on. And when the "neuro"
showed up, I knocked on the door and it was the same physician from my
last visit: Yolanda, but I don't know her last name. She says: "This is
the third time I'm going to see you. They still haven´t taken an X-ray?"

I told her that they hadn´t, and she phoned someone. I don't know if it
was the director of the hospital or who it was. She gave my husband a
paper to take to the basement level.

There in the basement level the X-ray technicians refused to treat me.
I told them that if they didn´t give me an X-way I was going to talk to
Administration. My husband said, "Wait a minute, Doraisa, stay there."
He went up and talked to Dr. Yolanda. She called and asked what was
going on. That was when they gave me the X-ray. My husband picked it up,
and said to him: "Let me see the X-ray." When he gave it to me I saw
that it had a dark tumor, with cracks, and I said: "This cannot be. This
cannot be my head." I thought there had been some kind of mistake, and I
went back to the waiting room.

Then they told me that I was the only person who had received an X-ray.
When we showed it to the doctor, she started calling some doctors and
told me: "You're not going anywhere."

"What do you mean?" I replied. "This isn´t my house." Then she told me I
had to be admitted. I had not even gone there to be admitted, but for
the cast. The doctor insisted that I had to stay. She called two
policemen, and the director came down, and I was not permitted to leave.

I was not told what was going on, but something was wrong, and I
couldn't leave. I was admitted to the fifth floor, bed 29, in
Neurosurgery. The neurological doctor who treated me was Fernando Tasé.
I was there for six days. I don't drink water or eat anything from the
hospital. Everything has to be from my house.

What did they do during those six days?

They give me a lot of fluids via IV. They put me through the SOMATOM,
they tested my sight, they took another X-ray...

The X-ray they took the first day, were you able to keep it?

No, they never gave me the X-rays. I have asked Fernando Tasé for the
X-ray two or three times, because I continue to see him. What he
prescribes for me are vitamin serums, monthly or every two weeks. I tell
him that I want my X-ray, and he says that he can´t give it to me, that
they need to study it. I say that there Security is behind that, and
that's why they don´t want to give me the X-ray.

And did they do a tomography and give you the results?

No.

And they won´t tell you what you condition is? They just tell you what
you have to do and prescribe a treatment?

"You cannot get too much sun, or be uncomfortable. You have to rest and
avoid stress." When my life is one of constant stress!

So, you were there for six days, from late February to early March,
admitted, with a diagnosis and a treatment that you don´t even understand.

Yes, and for those six days I couldn't even get out of bed. When I tried
to go to the bathroom I ended up opening the closet door. I was not
allowed to stand up alone or get out of bed. I had to just remain there,
all the time. With the IVs. Yes, but I must say that the medical
attention was very good. The doctors were around all the time.

The X-ray left no doubt. I knew that my head had suffered serious
damage. I was there until I was discharged. I went home, and Dr.
Fernando Tasé continues to treat me.

Does your head still bother you?

Yes.

What medications are you taking? Those vitamin injections?

They give me an IV with a certain amount of vitamins, a red serum that
looks like blood, until it´s all consumed.

And what is the situation with your arm?

I have an arm injury that prevents me from straightening it out. Here I
have the certificate they gave me. And the cast gave me sores.

But your hand is all right?

Yes, my hand is fine. But my arm is not.

Don't move it, there's no need.

No, just for you to see. I can lower my arm this far, you see, but not
any further. After that, there, my arm won´t move any more. The damage
is to the ligaments.

Has your family supported you?

My father reveres me, and I him, because it is he who taught me to
fight. He lives with me because he's 75 and I take care of him. My
husband is with me at all times, and I don´t go out without him or my
grandson, because I'm afraid that the older Castillo will grab me and
give me another beating.

Source: The social consequences of a Government that resorts to thugs to
stay in power. The case of Doraisa Correoso Pozo | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/derechos-humanos/1467030844_23400.html

Sunday, June 26, 2016

With More Travelers, Cuban Customs Heightens Control

With More Travelers, Cuban Customs Heightens Control / 14ymedio

14ymedio, 24 June 2016 – Cuba's General Customs of the Republic has
announced that it will strengthen the infrastructure of detection in air
and sea terminals throughout this year to counter "phenomena such as
drug trafficking, violations of the security of the country and
smuggling of endemic species," according to a report in the official
press on Friday.

Moraima Rodríguez Nuviola, assistant director of Customs Control
Systems, in a meeting with the press on Thursday, highlighted the need
to strengthen "risk management, the preparation of forces, and the
acquisition and mastery of modern technologies."

With the increasing number of tourists in recent months, following the
immigration reforms that eased travel for Cubans beginning in 2013, the
work of the customs service has experienced an increased "level of
complexity," especially in detecting communications technologies coming
into the country, because of the advancements in these technologies in
recent years, said Rodriguez Nuviola.

Customs keeps a tight control over satellite transmission and reception
equipment, literature critical of the Government, controversial
audiovisual materials and technology to create wireless networks. During
the strict customs searches, which include scanning each bag, they also
look for external hard drives and other data storage devices.

Methods of circumventing the restrictions have diversified, acknowledged
the official, and there has been an increase in "diverse methods of
hiding the introduction of these methods into the country (bringing them
in parts and pieces hidden inside the frames of similar equipment)."

Between January and May, the entity foiled a total of 41 cases of
transportation of drugs, among them six kilograms of cocaine and seven
of marijuana. During this period, they also detected 817 violations
defined as the "introduction of devices, satellite equipment and
subversive literature aimed at the counterrevolution."

There has also been an increase "in attempts to bring in weapons, parts
and ammunition and an increased detection of subversive printed
materials in different formats," said Rodriguez Nuviola.

In the absence of a legal framework for commercial imports destined for
private hands, many travelers use their personal baggage to bring into
the country goods such as clothing, footwear and medicines, which are
subsequently sold on the informal market.

With regards to bringing in undeclared cash, in the first five months of
the year Customs detected at least 47 cases in which they have recovered
the smuggling of 1,598 Cuban convertible pesos, 63,924 dollars and 1,100
euros.

In the face of new conditions, Nelson Cordobes Reyes, first deputy head
of the Cuban Customs, reinforced that the "control activity in the field
of Aviation Security at the exit from international airports,
particularly for direct flights to the United States" will be
strengthened. Customs will also invest in new "technical means of
detection and control."

Cuban activists and opponents have regularly denounced the confiscation
by the authorities of literature, computers, external hard drives and
business cards. As a rule, despite following the process for reclaiming
possessions, travelers are unable to retrieve the items confiscated from
them.

Source: With More Travelers, Cuban Customs Heightens Control / 14ymedio
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/with-more-travelers-cuban-customs-heightens-control-14ymedio/