Thursday, July 30, 2015

Drivel and Anniversaries - Cuban Television is a Wreck

Drivel and Anniversaries: Cuban Television is a Wreck / 14ymedio, Yoani
Posted on July 29, 2015

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 29 July 2015 — Twenty minutes after the
start of the news, the only things they had announced were the
anniversaries of historic events and obituaries. As if nothing has
happened in the country now. For the evening prime time news, the world
stopped fifty years ago and remains only something to remember and
honor. Even the weather has mothballs. A "good night" concludes the
broadcast and we viewers hold out unfounded hope for what could be the
best part of the line-up. But nothing.

Cuban television is experiencing one of its worst moments. Programming
oscillates between the stiffness of ideology and American programming
taken without any regard for copyright. So, we go from a tearful
documentary about the birth of Hugo Chavez, to the intrigue of the
series Castle, where a murderer manages to escape at the last second.
One channel re-broadcasts Machado Ventura's soporific 26th of July
speech, and on another some kids learn to cook recipes that could never
be made in Cuba because of the lack of ingredients.

Bleeding-heart vampires alternate with martyrs fallen in who knows what
battle. Soap operas of more than 100 episodes made in Brazil, Mexico or
Colombia try to recover an audience that for the most part already knows
that the bad guy married the good girl, because they already watched the
series through the illegal "weekly packet." Audience participation
programs try to transmit freshness from a studio where even the applause
is recorded and the dubbed music kills all the charm of a live performance.

Without any concept or order, TV is shaped by whatever comes to hand,
what can be stolen from some foreign channel, and the stagnation of
domestic productions

The comedy shows are not spared either, with the exception of the
popular Vivir del Cuento (Surviving by Your Wits), the others range from
vulgar to easy. Jokes copied from outside sources are the most abundant,
given the impossibility of broadcasting on the small screen what really
makes us laugh. Can you imagine a comic in front of the camera saying,
"It happened once in hell that there were the presidents of the United
States, Russia and Cuba…"? No, no you can't. The humor we see on TV has
become as boring as the news.

Without any concept or order, TV is shaped by whatever comes to hand,
what can be stolen from some foreign channel, and the stagnation of
domestic productions. The worst part comes when the domestic scripts try
to compete with Hollywood, the Discovery Channel or History. That's when
they come out with these messes like "On the Trail," where the police
are always so right, honest and effective that you end up wondering how
there can be so much crime in a country with such perfect police forces.

Nor are we saved by the sports broadcasts. You have to listen to the
commentators who, for long minutes, assure you that the medal was stolen
from some Cuban athlete "who did so well, but the referee favored the
challenger," while avoiding offering even one compliment to the hosts of
some sporting event taking place abroad. The chauvinism takes the form
of the pole, the ball, the bat or the hammer. The athletes become the
spearhead of politics.

It's been an hour since the end of the news broadcast and channel
surfing confirms that Cuban television is a wreck. How many people,
right now, are looking at one of the broadcasts on the national
channels? I suspect very few.

Source: Drivel and Anniversaries: Cuban Television is a Wreck /
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba -

Eighty Percent of Las Tunas Province Is Facing Soil Erosion

Eighty Percent of Las Tunas Province Is Facing Soil Erosion / 14ymedio
Posted on July 29, 2015

14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2015 — Experts have just confirmed what
peasants in Las Tunas Province already knew due to the declining yields
of their harvests and the degradation of their land. Eighty percent of
the province's arable land has already eroded, and another 28% is facing
desertification. According to reports appearing in the official Cuban
press on July 28th, this problem is a result of "changes in rain
patterns, and inadequate management of the province's farmable lands."

Specialists from this eastern Cuban province's Communist Party
Agricultural Affairs Committee estimate that 445,000 acres of previously
fertile land are now ruined, accounting for 11.67% of the of the
island's deserts. According to the report, climate change combined with
a growth in farming in the so-called "vulnerable zones" will only
exacerbate and spread the environmental damage.

Top and subsoil erosion, poor drainage, salinization, and compaction are
among the negative results of soil degradation. Consequently, the
region's agricultural output has dropped significantly.

The government experts stress that uncontrolled forest fires, the
burning of harvest leftovers, the absence of crop rotation,
deforestation, and the excessive use of machinery are some of this
situation's other causes. Las Tunas Province has a naturally dry
climate, from where it takes name.* Nevertheless, this reality has only
been worsened by the current predicament.

The loss of arable land is worse on the northern border with Camagüey
Province. According to Amado Luis Palma, an expert from the Ministry of
Science, Technology and the Environment, "(northern) Las Tunas Province
is beginning to resemble Cuba's only semi-arid region, the desert
corridor between Caimanera and Maisí, in Guantánamo Province."

*Translator's note: "Tunas" are a type of native Cuban cactus that grows
wild in the province.

Translated by José Badué

Source: Eighty Percent of Las Tunas Province Is Facing Soil Erosion /
14ymedio | Translating Cuba -

The Customer as Criminal

The Customer as Criminal / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on July 29, 2015

Rebeca Monzo, 27 July 2015 — One of the most annoying problems in our
country, as far as services and treatment of the public is concerned, is
the humiliation to which we are subjected on a daily basis. This is
especially true for women. We are required to leave our handbags, with
all our personal belongings inside, in bins set aside for this purpose
at the entrances of every store and commercial establishment, even
though many of them have no security. This has led to instances of
theft, for which the victims receive no compensation.

A few days ago a friend of mine went into a shoe department — located on
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Miramar — that was practically outside
the shopping complex to which it belonged. Under the circumstances and
keeping in mind that she was only looking for footwear, she went inside
with her handbag. As soon as an employee noticed this, she told my
friend she must leave and deposit the handbag in a bin. My friend
replied that she did not see why this was necessary since there was only
one of each brand and model number of shoe on display and that she, as
anyone could see, had two legs and two feet. Given the employee's
insistence, my friend asked to speak to the manager of the department to
explain the situation.

The manager came over and my friend tried to reason with him, offering
the same rationale she had given to the employee. He replied with a
logic very "a la socialista" that it was his understanding that someone
could steal a shoe — one of a certain color, size and model number —
then go to another store that carried the same shoe, also on display,
with exactly the same features but for the other foot, thus completing
the pair. Something completely implausible!

My friend stood there stunned by this explanation and decided to leave
the store immediately lest she contract the idiocy virus so common in
these places. But before doing so, she let it be known to both the
employee and her boss that she, like many others, were fully aware that
the majority of such thefts were, unfortunately, inside jobs.

In the old days, during the capitalist period, there was a saying that
became famous precisely because it was so sensible: "The client is
always right." Now under socialism the customer is unfortunately treated
like a potential criminal.

Source: The Customer as Criminal / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -

The Umbilical Cord

The Umbilical Cord / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on July 30, 2015

Rebeca Monzo, 25 July 2015 — The majority of Cuban emigrants, those of
the last three decades, seem to leave with the remains of their
umbilical cords hanging from their bodies.

They barely arrive, be it as wet foots or dry, by raft or by plane, and
just start settling in, but that they start asking their families who
stayed on the island for medicines, Vita Nova tomato sauce, dry wine and
other silly things. They don't seem to realize they've arrived in
another country, which they themselves chose to start a new life, and
they try to continue depending on their families and friends with scant
resources, those they left behind.

Nor have they given any thought to the first emigrants from the sixties
and seventies, who were forced to put their whole lives into one
suitcase, and start from zero to open the way, alone, without any
contact with those they left behind, an era when it was absolutely
prohibited to have any kind of contact with those who decided to live in
a country where they spoke another language.

Emigrants of today seem to forget that medicine is scarce here and, in
addition, if you can find it you have to pay in CUC on the black market
where it's available, or acquire it for hard currency in the few
pharmacies that exist in the city at astronomical prices. I think it
would be very convenient for everyone to assume with responsibility and
bravey the decisions made, and to detach themselves from the remains of
this appendage to which they are still attached, that limits their growth.

Source: The Umbilical Cord / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba -

Time for Compensations

Time for Compensations / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya
Posted on July 29, 2015

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 22 July 2015 — After the media foreplay
stirred by the opening of the Cuban and US embassies in their respective
countries, some outstanding issues on the agenda of negotiations between
the two governments begin to surface as matters that should, in short
order, get the attention of the media and of public opinion.

Statements by senior officials on both sides have made reference to
cardinal issues that marred the Cuba-US relations for half a century,
whose solution – requiring very complex negotiations and agreement —
will depend on the success of the standardization process that has been
occupying headlines and raising expectations since this past December 17th.

One such point refers to compensation claims from both sides. On the US
side, for the expropriations suffered by large American companies in
Cuba, whose assets have remained in the hands of the Cuban government,
and the demands of Cuban citizens who emigrated to the US, who were also
stripped of their properties under laws introduced by the Revolution in
its early years which remained in place for decades. The total amount of
compensation demanded by those affected is estimated at about 7 or 8
billion dollars.

The Cuban government, in turn, is demanding that American authorities
"compensate the Cuban people for over $100 billion in human and economic
damages caused by US policies," referring to economic constraints
imposed by the commercial and financial embargo that has weighed on the
Island (the so-called "genocide"), as well as other damages resulting
from "terrorist attacks". The total that the Cuban Government has
established exceeds $100 billion, although it is not known how or who
came up with the process of quantification of the damages.

Up until recently, Cubans "in Cuba" have feared the supposed danger of
the nearly 6,000 compensation claims registered in the US at the Office
of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC, its acronym in English). A quasi-war
cry that emerged from the official discourse, when stating that those
once termed "siquitrillados"* — hat despicable gang of "bourgeois and
stateless softies" who stole the wealth that belonged to the humble
people and then took refuge under the shadow of Cuba's worst enemy —
were trying to recuperate what they had lost under the weight of
revolutionary justice. That is to say, in the event revolutionary power
might cease, thousands of Cuban families would be left homeless when the
former owners took back their real properties and evicted them from
their buildings. At the same time, children would be left without
schools and there would not be enough hospitals, jobs, etc.

And, while that was the message to Cubans on the island in the late
90's, the government, with its exhausted coffers, sent reassuring
signals to foreign investors interested in Cuba as a market, reassuring
them that they would be willing to negotiate "fair" compensation with
the victims of those old expropriations.

But fear, that indispensable tool of every totalitarian power, had
penetrated so deeply into the common people's psyche that, to date, the
specter of eviction, of unemployment and of some other possible losses
worries not just a few of the families who live in properties built
before 1959 or who work at establishments and factories that Fidel
Castro's government seized decades ago. It is expected, therefore, that
the issue of "claims and compensation" of the current negotiating agenda
will awaken a higher expectation among Cubans than the modicum of
(harmless) novelties that have been presented so far in the framework of
political strife currently taking place.

Every Cuban is familiar with those huge posters displaying mysterious
mathematical calculations which, however, nobody understands. Such
language is often seen declaring how many books, notebooks, medicines or
sport equipment have not been acquired for each number of days of the
"blockade" (embargo) against Cuba.

The figures are usually astronomical, but the basic criteria and
indicators are completely unknown. That is, exactly what is the
equivalent of one day of US embargo if measured in notebooks? What are
these notebooks and how are their prices calculated? Something similar
happens with even more subjective issues, such as the amounts the US
owes Cubans who have been victims of violence or terrorism in acts of
sabotage taking place during these years.

However, it is absolutely fair to demand compensation for damages in
either case. For this reason, and because the scenario seems conducive
to reconciliation, Cubans should be getting our calculators ready to
determine exactly what amounts of compensation the "Revolutionary"
government should pay us for all the wars they got us involved in, where
thousands of our fellow countrymen died, how much for the destruction of
the national economic infrastructure, how much for the waste of public
funds based on ideology, how much for the parades, for the poverty, for
the emigration, for shattering our country and the Cuban family, for so
many useless "battles," for the fraud they call Revolution, for the
lives lost in the Florida Straits, for the sinking of the 13 de Marzo
tugboat, for the repression, moral damages, persecution, exclusions,
prohibitions, low wages, inflation, monetary duality, for snatching our
freedom, and for the curtailment of our rights.

Let's test it out, and in the style of those experiments the beloved
General-President loves so much. I propose that we prepare, slowly but
surely, a list of our losses over 56 years of dictatorship, and
calculate their cost. Our list of demands is sure to be endless, but the
sum of the total compensation they owe us is simply beyond price.

*Translator's note" Siquitrilla: wishbone. Those who lost property in
early years of the revolution, or who "ended up with the short end of
the (their own) wishbone."

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Time for Compensations / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya | Translating
Cuba -

Cancer from High Levels of Metals in Reservoirs? (II)

Cancer from High Levels of Metals in Reservoirs? (II) / Cubanet, Ernesto
Perez Chang
Posted on July 29, 2015

Cubanet.org, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 28 July 2015 – Between the
years 2004 and 2007, 65 children from the Los Sitios neighborhood in
Central Havana, 7 to 10 years of age, underwent testing in order to
determine their degree of lead poisoning. The research, conducted by a
team of researchers from the Cuban National Institute of Health,
Epidemiology and Microbiology (INHEM), found that 46.2% of the children
exceeded the acceptable levels for adults according to the World Health
Organization (10.0 mg/dl) and that 67.7% already were demonstrating
learning difficulties associated with poisoning from this heavy metal.

According to the scientists, who recommended extending the investigation
to other areas of the capital, the group of those affected presented
with "diminished reading abilities, more limited vocabulary, poor
reasoning, very slow reactions and poor psychomotor coordination." Also,
concern about the long term consequences was raised due to lead exposure
being associated not only with reduction in academic performance but
with changes in hearing, behavior, low self esteem, suicide attempts,
depressive syndromes, aggression, and even mental retardation or death.

Perhaps because the research involved some "taboo topics" in the
official public debate like childhood, health and the poor living
conditions of Cubans, the results were not repeated in national press
outlets, even though they were published in issue number 47(2) of 2009
of the Cuban Magazine of Health and Epidemiology [found at
http://scielo.sld.cu; most of the studies mentioned here are available
on the internet], and years before, in 2003, the INHEM magazine itself
had brought to light a study1 by several of its researchers about lead
levels also in children in the Central Havana township, perhaps one of
the most affected by the poor health-sanitation conditions and by its
location in a highly contaminated area.

Works like the foregoing join a list of investigations developed by
Cuban scientists who belong to official institutions which signal the
catastrophic effects of the island's ineffective environmental policy,
especially because of the link they observe with direct damage to human

Official Sources Note the Problem

In early 2015, the first issue of the digital magazine Science on Your
PC, corresponding to January-March, published the extract from a
dissertation2 by a group of researchers from the University of the East
in Santiago, Cuba, about the low risk-perception and disinformation on
the part of the residents of fishing communities about heavy metal
contamination in the waters of the bay and surrounding areas.

According to the study, even though the Santiago Bay ecosystem is highly
contaminated, there exists no government strategy to curb the negative
effects of the heavy metals on the health of the residents of the city.
Similarly, the inhabitants and even the fishing cooperative workers
receive no information about the toxicity of the waters and the foods
that they extract from them.

Santiago is, after the bay of Havana, the most poisoned on the island,
and several sources discharge contamination into it such as the Antonio
Maceo Thermoelectric Center, the November 30 Forming Company
Electroplating Plant, the Celia Sanchez Textile Company, the repair
workshops of the Electric Company and the Polygraphic. All use the
principal rivers and their tributaries to discharge wastes without any
effective filtration.

Despite this, according to the research, in the area "everyone claims
that they have never been kept from fishing (…) This prohibition on
fishing has been imposed only in the event of an outbreak of diarrheal
illnesses and, of course, in the case of a closed season as with shrimp.
(…) None of those interviewed from the fishing grounds knows about the
heavy metals; they have not even heard this term."

People from other regions of the country, also visibly affected by
pollution, demonstrate equal ignorance about the phenomenon. The
government's policies of concealment in most cases are due to economic
strategies, as deduced by those investigations that link cancer levels
to the degree of contamination of the waters in mining or highly
industrialized areas.

In the research report "Cleaner Production Strategy for the INPUD
Galvanic Factory" (2006)3, the authors, belonging to the Central
University of Las Villas, recognize that the main factor that impeded
the design of a filtration system for heavy metals and toxic residues in
the galvanic factory of the National Industry Producing Domestic
Appliances (INPUD) was the impossibility of developing means of
environmental protection because these raised the costs of production, a
luxury that the Cuban economy could not afford, much less in the middle
of the program called "Energetic Revolution" promoted by Fidel Castro,
where he required them to commit to producing 350,000 pressure cookers
benefitting the "Battle of Ideas."

According to the researchers, at that time, "the treatment at the end of
the pipe [filtration of pollution discharged into rivers and reservoirs]
was improving the contamination problem but not reducing the costs [of
production]," in a factory that employed Czech technology from 1964,
"with very deteriorated technology and obvious obsolescence."

In 2001, the factory had put into operation a wastewater treatment
plant, but at the same time, it encountered construction problems
because of which chrome and nickel wastes continued to be discharged
directly into a small stream and from this to the Arroyo Grande dam,
belonging to the Rio Sagua watershed with an area of more than 2,000 km².

This discharge into the groundwaters of the region could be related to
the high levels of cancer that was reported by the province of Villa
Clara where the highest incidence of cases on the island is recorded,
according to statistics from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health itself.

In that regard, a report entitled "Contribution to Environmental
Management in the Context of Urban Agricultural Production in the City
of Santa Clara," carried out between January and February of 2009 by a
group of authors from the Provincial Meteorological Center and the
Agricultural Research Center of the Central University of Las Villas,
found high concentrations of lead, cadmium, nickel and other harmful
substances in the soils and waters of several urban agriculture
production systems in the city of Santa Clara. On comparing them to the
standard established by Cuban regulation NC-493, from 2006, it was
observed that "in organic gardens the concentrations of heavy metals
were greater (…) with possible risk in some cases for human health."

Similar studies, but focused on the petroleum areas of Boca de Jaruco in
Santa Cruz del Norte and in a town near a goldmine on the Island of
Youth, show that one of the fundamental reasons that the investigations
are not disseminated and that urgent measures are not taken is the
government's economic interests.

In 2003, the magazine Earth and Space Sciences [Vol. 4, pp. 27-33],
published the study "Arsenic and Heavy Metals in the Waters in the Area
of Delita, Island of Youth, Cuba," by a group of scientists from the
Geophysical and Astronomical Institute and from the National Hydraulic
Resources Institute."

The text speaks of "a reduction in the maximum permissible limit for
arsenic in drinking water," which had unleashed the onset of chronic
illnesses like cancer in people who had ingested drinking water with
lethal concentrations of arsenic for long periods.

Populations from Batey de la Mina and from the Delita goldmine in the
southeast of the Island of Youth, were and are exposed to arsenic
concentrations higher than the detectable limit. In the Manantial La
Mina station alone were recorded values that exceed the Cuban regulation
of 50 mg/L-1 as well as the World Health Organization guideline of 10

The "Benign" Purpose of the Studies

In spite of these alarming measurements, according to what the
investigators themselves expressed, all the clinical studies that have
been carried out in the area by governmental agencies interested in the
territory's tourist development were for the express purpose of
demonstrating the "therapeutic benefits of Delita's waters and sludges"
and not to connect the appearance and behavior of diverse illnesses with
the ingestion and external use of arsenical waters.

The group of Cuban researchers is aware of the toxic impact on
residents' health in the so-called "special township" that, in recent
years, has demonstrated a rising trend in mortality rates from
cerebro-vascular diseases, notably exceeding other regions of the
country: "The clinic where the residents of Batey de la Mina, the
Argelia Victoria People's Council No. 6, are treated, has shown a marked
increase in the years 1994, 1996 and 1999."

"If one considers," continues the final report of the study, "the
transit time of the underground waters from Delita, which is 13 years
(…) and subtract those years from the date of the first increase in
deaths from this cause (1994), the resulting date is 1981, which marks
the beginning of the decade in which the most important exploration
studies were carried out in the mine, as well as the drainage and direct
dumping of the underground waters on the surface (1982), showing some
possible relationship between these events. (…) Furthermore, although
there exists no detailed study by clinics and areas that indicate the
behavior of those dead from malignant tumors, this condition constitutes
the main cause of death in adults as well as of premature death in the
township, also with an upward trend in the last decade. Lung cancer (…)
has shown a startling increase between the years 2000 and 2001 for the
whole township."

According to other researchers, Delita's reservoir area is regarded as a
uranium mining prospect, a considerable concentration of this element
having been identified in a sample from the deep part.

The thousands of facts offered in the studies carried out by state
scientific institutions themselves exceed the limits of these pages, and
at the same time, contradict many aspects of the Cuban government's
official discourse that speaks of health programs and educational
strategies but persists in ignoring a true environmental catastrophe
that threatens to transform into another nightmare that new chapter of
the Cuban revolution that has been referred to as "prosperous and
sustainable socialism."


1Aguilar Valdés, J. et al., "Niveles de plomo en sangre y factores
asociados, en niños del municipio de Centro Habana", Revista Cubana de
Higiene y Epidemiología, 2003; 41(1).

2 Rodríguez Heredia, Dunia et al., "Educación ambiental vs. baja
percepción acerca de la contaminación por metales pesados en comunidades
costeras", Ciencia en su PC, 2015, enero-marzo, 1, 13-28. Centro de
Estudios Multidisciplinarios de Zonas Costeras (CEMZOC), Universidad de
Oriente, Santiago de Cuba.

3 Cachaldora Francisco, Isidro Javier et al., "Estrategia de producción
más limpia para el taller galvánico de INPUD", Universidad Central
"Marta Abreu" de Las Villas (2006).

Source: Cancer from High Levels of Metals in Reservoirs? (II) / Cubanet,
Ernesto Perez Chang | Translating Cuba -

Cuba objects to being placed on US trafficking list

Cuba objects to being placed on US trafficking list

Havana (AFP) - Cuba objected Wednesday to being placed on the US human
trafficking list, saying it distorted the overseas work of its doctors
and its requirement that students work as part of their education.

The US State Department on Monday removed Cuba from its bottom rank of
countries with the poorest records on human trafficking, noting
improvements in Havana's handling of sex trafficking. But it placed it
on a second-tier watchlist instead.

"Cuba should not be on any unilateral list nor be the object of
surveillance of any kind," the Cuban foreign ministry said in a statement.

It added that Cuba was committed to a policy of "zero tolerance" of
prostitution or the commercialization of sex.

While acknowledging that the State Department had noted Cuba's efforts
to combat sexual trafficking, the foreign ministry hit out at US
criticism of its record on forced labor.

"It continues to present tendentious and manipulated elements on the
selfless work, amply recognized internationally, of our medical
collaborators in third countries," it said.

Thousands of Cuban doctors and health workers are stationed in countries
in Latin America and Africa under government to government contracts
that have become an important source of hard currency as well as
diplomatic good will.

But there have been complaints that the Cuban doctors are paid far less
than their local counterparts, or than what Havana receives for their

The foreign ministry also said the State Department "distorts the Cuban
educational system, which applies the teachings of (independence hero
Jose) Marti in linking study with work, in qualifying as supposed forced
labor these tasks these Cuban students carry out."

Source: Cuba objects to being placed on US trafficking list - Yahoo News

Telco Cuba, Inc. Receives The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) International Section 214 License

Telco Cuba, Inc. Receives The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
International Section 214 License

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., July 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- (OTCPK: QBAN) Telco Cuba,
Inc. – U.S. based mobile telecom and data connectivity service provider,
Telco Cuba announced today that it has been granted the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) International Section 214 license,
enabling Telco Cuba to provide telecommunication services originating
from The United States of America and terminating anywhere globally.
Telco Cuba is now able to offer mobile cell phone service, Voice over IP
(VoIP) services, and calling card services originating from the US to
any global point including the 11 Million residents of the island nation
of Cuba.

Furthermore Mr. William J. Sanchez states "We have successfully
completed the change of our trading symbol to 'QBAN' ; this change
solidifies our corporate plans on branding Telco Cuba as the leading
provider of telecom services to and in Cuba.

Earlier this quarter, during our first conference call, we spelled out a
roadmap that included several key milestones in our business plan. Our
CEO and President, William J Sanchez had this to say - "We are pleased
to announce that the FCC has granted Telco Cuba, Inc. the right to offer
international telecommunication services to US based residents and
customer to any destination in the world, including Cuba. This
milestone affords Telco Cuba the ability to start immediately acquiring
services with the results already having led to negotiations with a
leading mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in The United States".
We will provide further updates on our business development advances
during our upcoming conference call to be held on August 3rd at 10:00AM EST.

The conference call will be listen-in only, but will include a Q&A
session comprising questions submitted by current or potential
shareholders. Interested parties may send their questions to
ir@Telcocuba.com until 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time the day of the
call. Investors may also submit questions in real time via
Investorshub.com by directing the posting to the QBAN Board, subject to
time restrictions, Telco Cuba will answer some of the questions
submitted via IHUB during the call.

The call in number is 641-715-3580. Enter conference code 413-971 when
prompted by the system. The system is configured to accept up to 1000
callers. Please call early and reserve your spot on the call.

About TelcoCuba, Inc

Founded in 2001, Amgentech -- the parent company of TelcoCuba -- has
been providing telecommunication and Internet based solutions and
services for over 14 years. Amgentech has generated over 7 million
dollars in revenue. TelcoCuba is launching best of breed communication
services including, but not limited to cell phone service, VoIP, Calling
Cards in the US and between the US and Cuba. For more information visit
(http://www.telcocuba.com & http://pr.telcocuba.com)

Safe Harbor Act: Forward-Looking Statements are included within the
meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements
regarding our expected future financial position, results of operations,
cash flows, financing plans, business strategy, products and services,
competitive positions, growth opportunities, plans and objectives of
management for future operations, including words such as "anticipate,"
"if," "believe," "plan," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "could,"
"should," "will," and other similar expressions are forward-looking
statements and involve risks, uncertainties and contingencies, many of
which are beyond our control, which may cause actual results,
performance, or achievements to differ materially from anticipated
results, performance, or achievements. We are under no obligation to
(and expressly disclaim any such obligation to) update or alter our
forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information,
future events or otherwise.

Robert Rico
+1-305-747-7647 Ext. 115


SOURCE TelcoCuba, Inc.

Source: Telco Cuba, Inc. Receives The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) International Section 214... -- HOLLYWOOD, Fla., July 29, 2015
/PRNewswire/ -- -

Wrong to take Cuba off trafficking blacklist

Activist: Wrong to take Cuba off trafficking blacklist
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 | Chad Groening

A Cuban-born anti-communist activist isn't surprised the U.S. State
Department has removed Cuba from a list of countries that fail to combat
modern-day slavery.

On Monday the State Department released the annual U.S. assessment of
how 188 governments around the world have performed in fighting human
trafficking. This year, the U.S. has taken Malaysia and Cuba off its
blacklist of violators.

Humberto Fontova fled Cuba in 1961 and has written several books on the
regime. He says literally every Cuban living on the communist-controlled
island is subject to human trafficking, even doctors.

"When they leave the country they don't do it on their own accord," he
tells OneNewsNow. "They go under coercion. The government forces them to
go. And they don't pay the doctors - they pay the Castro regime, which
keeps 90 percent of what they pay them. That is human trafficking. I'm
sorry if the Obama administration doesn't want to term it that way."

Fontova says he is not surprised the State Department took Cuba off the
list because it wanted to restore full diplomatic relations, including
the opening of a Cuban embassy in Washington.

"This was one of the demands of the Castro regime for the privilege of
setting up a spy center in Washington, DC," he says.

Source: Activist: Wrong to take Cuba off trafficking blacklist -

Sherritt CEO sees brighter future in Cuba

Sherritt CEO sees brighter future in Cuba
The Toronto miner reports weak Q2 results amid severe downturn in
nickel, oil
By: Lisa Wright Business Reporter, Published on Wed Jul 29 2015

Toronto-based miner Sherritt International Corp. is taking a beating as
nickel and oil prices plummet, but the chief executive sees a silver
lining for his company as U.S. and Cuba relations continue to thaw.
David Pathe, who delivered weak second-quarter results Wednesday, said
he visited the firm's operations in the island nation last week as the
U.S. reopened its embassy in Havana after 50 years under renewed
diplomatic ties.
"There's a tremendous amount of optimism in Cuba at the moment, and a
lot more interest in Cuba internationally," Pathe said in an interview.
"We've been in Cuba for over 20 years and it's a remarkably stable place
to do business," he said.
Sherritt produces approximately two-thirds of Cuba's oil and also owns a
50 per cent interest in the Moa nickel and cobalt joint venture with the
Cuban government, which includes mining, processing and refining operations.
However, as the Communist-ruled island's largest foreign investor by
far, Sherritt has struggled with "negative connotations" as the Canadian
miner befriended Fidel Castro and continued to extract nickel, cobalt
and oil there amid what he called a "crippling" economic embargo with
the U.S.
While things are opening up on the diplomatic side, Pathe said progress
is still slow on the bigger issues like ending the embargo and repealing
the Helms-Burton Act, which for 19 years has barred Sherritt directors
and executives including Pathe from doing business or even travelling in
the U.S.
"Both would be a big benefit to us," he told analysts on a conference call.
"I think it would change the way our assets are viewed and remove some
of the stigma that, from our experience, has been somewhat overblown,
and that has the potential to create new opportunities for us," he said.
He pointed to cost savings in terms of accessing U.S. suppliers and
being able to run American-owned Caterpillar equipment in the mine, as
it does at its Madagascar operations, and get access to the U.S. gulf
coast for Sherritt's oil business.
Meanwhile, the company's shares had plummeted 55 per cent in the last
year up to Tuesday's close, but got a boost of 16 per cent Wednesday as
the miner reported costs had fallen at global operations in the quarter,
and that they still have $400 million cash on the books.
Oil and base metal miners like Sherritt have been hit hard lately amid
over-supply and weaker demand from China, the world's largest consumer
of nickel.
But nickel, which is used to make stainless steel and other manufactured
items, has fallen to six-year lows and tumbled 40 per cent in the second
quarter while oil tanked 50 per cent.
Sherritt sold its Toronto headquarters and laid off 60 staff last fall,
and Pathe fended off a shareholder revolt aimed at ousting him and other
board members at its annual meeting in 2014.
"It's been a tough first half of the year in the commodity price, and a
tough last couple of weeks in particular…and it's been a tough time to
be a shareholder," Pathe told analysts.
He noted more than half the nickel mining industry is "under water" in
terms of the cash cost of production, and the situation "can't be
sustained much longer," adding he still believes in the metal's
long-term fundamentals which are bound to eventually boost the price.
Sherritt's adjusted net loss from continuing operations was $75.2
million, or 25 Canadian cents per share, in the three months ended June
30, up from a loss of $56.2 million, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company said its combined revenue fell about 12 per cent to $268.4
million, and expects total production of 78,000-82,000 tonnes of nickel
this year, down from a previous estimate of 80,000-86,000.
The company also cut the estimate for the Ambatovy mine in Madagascar,
in which it has a 40 per cent stake, to 45,000-48,000 tonnes from

Source: Sherritt CEO sees brighter future in Cuba | Toronto Star -

U.S. business slow to invest in Cuba; rules still evolving

U.S. business slow to invest in Cuba; rules still evolving
By Mimi Whitefield The Miami Herald
This article was published today at 2:06 a.m.

MIAMI -- Many barriers remain for U.S. businesses wishing to take
advantage of thawing relations between the United States and Cuba.

With a trade embargo still in effect, businesses are proceeding slowly
when it comes to the limited commercial opening toward Cuba outlined by
President Barack Obama as part of the U.S. rapprochement with Cuba.

Cuba is a new frontier for American business.

Because there hasn't been a semblance of a normal business relationship
in more than half a century, the United States was dealing more with the
theoretical than real-world experience when it wrote its new rules of
business engagement with Cuba earlier this year. Also, the rules were
written hurriedly.

Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere
affairs, calls the new rules "a work in progress."

"Cubans are getting used to it; our business people are getting used to
it," she said. "We are going to tweak. We may not have written them right."

Among the most visible deals to date are Stonegate Bank's announcement
last week that it had signed a correspondent banking agreement with
Cuba's Banco Internacional de Comercio -- a move that should make it
easier to pay for transactions -- and Airbnb's move into Cuba. It now
offers more than 2,000 listings in private homes that rent rooms to

Yet to materialize are any major deals in agriculture or
telecommunications. U.S. rules announced in January allow American
companies to sell telecommunications and computer equipment and even
work with the Cuban government in ventures to improve access to the
Internet and telecommunications.

Even though Cuba has shortages of many building supplies and the new
U.S. rules allow shipments of construction materials and equipment to
Cuba's budding private sector, there have been no announcements by major
companies that they're shipping cement mix or sending enough supplies to
repaint Havana.

During a White House briefing last week with business people, academics
and others who have been supportive of the normalization process,
briefers said a revision and clarification of some banking and travel
rules would come out shortly. They also asked business executives to
keep offering feedback on the evolving rules.

Florida-based Stonegate is the first U.S. bank to engage with Cuba under
the regulations that came out in January.

But banks in general are very nervous about Cuba, said Ted Piccone, a
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Part of it is the banking
culture is very conservative, but the banks also have seen that they can
be heavily penalized if they don't abide by the letter of the law."

Meanwhile, as U.S. business pioneers try to strike deals, they must also
contend with a Cuban system that doesn't necessarily mesh with U.S.
business practices, limited Internet service, and a Cuban bureaucracy
that often seems more interested in going slow than expediting business.

Beyond the sluggish bureaucracy, the government is testing the shifting
currents with caution.

Carlos Alzugaray, a retired Cuban diplomat, points out there are reasons
the government wants to go slow and not risk losing political control by
allowing too swift an economic transformation.

Cuban leader Raul Castro, he said, has undertaken three processes of
change at once: economic measures, a new relationship with the United
States, and a generational shift in political power as he retires in 2018.

All carry a degree of risk that could derail the government's goal of
"prosperous and sustainable socialism."

"They want to do things slowly, to keep things under control," said
Piccone. "There's also an ongoing battle between Raulistas [who are more
supportive of economic change] and Fidelistas for control, and that's
another reason that things are so slow."

To help companies try to overcome some of the obstacles in entering the
Cuban market, Burson-Marsteller, a public relations and communications
firm, recently introduced a Cuba consultancy team that will advise
clients on matters such as positioning themselves in the Cuban market,
how they should enter it, how to present their corporate presence in
Cuba and how to effectively communicate to various stakeholders about
their Cuba business.

For companies and industries that consider Cuba a longer-term investment
when the embargo is lifted, Burson-Marsteller will advise them on an
advocacy role to help bring about policy changes, said Ramiro Prudencio,
the company's Latin America president and chief executive.

"I think that for most companies, Cuba needs to be a long-term play --
unless they're in very specific industries," he said. But travel and
tourism will present "almost immediate opportunities."

Companies that want to do business in Cuba, he said, must be cognizant
of whether their venture is in sync with government development plans
and offers social and economic benefits to the Cuban people.

"We want to make sure companies are successful in Cuba," he said. "It's
about having the message right and the right policy. Cuba is not just
any market and it is not just any country."

Business on 07/30/2015

Source: U.S. business slow to invest in Cuba; rules still evolving -

Despite Early Optimism, Trade With Cuba Dipping

Despite Early Optimism, Trade With Cuba Dipping
by Julián Aguilar July 30, 2015

Since the Obama administration's December announcement that it was
charging ahead with plans to re-establish ties with communist Cuba,
trade with the island nation has taken a peculiar turn: It's decreased —
by a lot.

That is significant for Texas, which has for years ranked among the top
10 U.S. states trading with Cuba under provisions of the Trade Sanctions
Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, which allows companies to
sell certain goods for profit despite a general trade and travel embargo.

Through June, the United States collectively shipped about $83 million
in goods to Cuba, and is on pace for exporting about $166 million for
the calendar year. That's well short of the $291 million in goods
shipped in 2014, and well below the $348.7 million shipped in 2013.

That trend holds true for Texas; the Houston port has seen only 33
metric tons of goods leave its docks bound for Cuba through March of
this year, according to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic
Council. That's compared with 60 tons in 2014, 295 tons in 2013 and a
whopping 93,000 tons in 2012.

Some goods shipped from Texas aren't grown or processed here. But their
passage through Texas is still lucrative. According to figures from
Texas A&M University's Center for North American Studies, about 91 cents
in additional business activity was created for every dollar worth of
goods exported in 2008.

Discerning reasons for the dip, and forecasting what happens next as the
countries continue mending their relationship after more than 50 years
of tension, isn't easy, experts argue. If Cuba continues to trade and
garner support from foreign governments, specifically Venezuela,
engaging the U.S. might be less of a priority.

"As long as Cuba can depend on Venezuela for much of its oil imports and
foreign exchange, it's going to move cautiously," said John S. Kavulich,
president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. "Even though it
has decreased its support to Cuba, it hasn't stopped. How its
relationship with Venezuela goes will determine in great measure how
quickly it re-engages with the United States."

Kavulich added that Cuba won't transform into a hotbed of capitalism
where U.S. goods are as common. At least not immediately.

"There is a tremendous amount — it's breathtaking — the amount of
aspirational rhetoric chasing very little reality," he said. "You're not
going to be able to go to Hertz and rent an RV and drive down to
Santiago de Cuba. It's a process, it's not an action."

How things progress has more to do with Cuba's response to overtures
from the White House than the other way around.

"If the U.S. changes, then Cuba is going to do more, but the U.S. has
been changing and Cuba hasn't done any more, so I think there is a
disconnect," Kavulich said.

Others are more optimistic. Cynthia Thomas, president of TriDimension
Strategies, a Dallas-based consulting firm that focuses on the
Texas-Cuba trade relationship, believes trade is down because of simple
economics, not politics.

"Over the last few years, Cuba has been paying down its debts" to Japan,
Russia and Mexico, she said. "That has consumed a lot of their capital."

Cuba has also stopped importing American poultry after an avian flu
outbreak, Thomas said. According to Business Insider, Cuba previously
imported $148 million in chicken products annually. And the severe
drought affected cotton prices and Cuba's ability to import cotton from

"There is nothing unique about international trade with Cuba versus
other countries," she said.

Thomas said that the Obama administration has already made changes that
could bolster Texas' trade with Cuba once the country is in better
economic shape. The administration has rolled out a payment process that
should make it easier for Cuba to buy U.S. goods, Thomas said.

Instead of securing a letter of credit — a guarantee from a bank that it
will pay for the costs of goods if a buyer cannot — purchasers can now
use the "cash against document" system. That means a buyer can wire
money directly, which makes it easier on the purchaser, Thomas said.

Thomas believes the real test will come when more Americans are able to
travel to Cuba on commercial flights. Charter flights are already
available, but airline giants like American Airlines and United Airlines
stated this month they are ready to begin commercial flights to Cuba
once they receive permission.

Travelers will visit and try local food and goods, she said, but they
will also long for familiar treats.

"They'll go to a snack counter and want their Lay's potato chips," she
said. She also said more travelers to Cuba would ultimately mean more
pressure on Washington to move quickly to re-establish ties.

"They expect a government state where machine guns are on every corner,"
she said. "That's not reality. [People] have a good time. And that is
one more advocate for knocking down the embargo."

Source: Despite Early Optimism, Trade With Cuba Dipping | The Texas
Tribune -

The Democratic Alternative for Cuba

The Democratic Alternative for Cuba
July 29, 2015
By Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES — Two paths are becoming clear to Cuba after the failure of
"State socialism": the authoritarian-capitalist one offered by the
current "reform process", sustained by an alliance between State
monopoly capitalism (dressed up as socialism) and foreign capital, under
the control of the same old government-State-Party, and the
all-inclusive democratic one, which I will try to summarize here, while
also exploring how we can reach it and what obstacles lie in the way.

The democratic way out, in order to be truly democratic, would have to
be inclusive. It would entail a process aimed at democratizing and
socializing the country's politics and economy which would open these
spheres to the participation of all Cubans on the island and abroad,
impel the development of all forms of production and the creation of the
conditions needed for a new type of democratic constitution, the rule of
law and a new, multi-party electoral law.

This process would need to be sustained by a new social contract, one
that would provide individual and collective undertakings broad
financing possibilities, confront all of the repercussions stemming from
the serious property issues created over more than fifty years of "State
socialism", on the basis of compensation, cooperation and independent
arbitration, eliminate all State monopolies over markets, prohibit the
development of private monopolies and establish fiscal policies to
incentivize production.

It would particularly require the implementation of local, participative
budgets, such that the bulk of taxes collected remain at the lower
levels and can be handled to address community interests, as a guarantee
of development.

The democratic socialist program encompasses very few points but, with a
view to establishing a consensus and pulling society out of its current
stagnation, we are subordinating all remaining points to a general,
democratic strategy that will later allow us to better defend our
positions and make them a reality.

Let it again be made clear that we reject any attempt at arbitrarily
imposing on people the free individual or collective forms of
self-managed production we support. That said, we do not deny we hope
these forms of production will, of their own merit, prove better than
the forms of salaried exploitation now in existence and, as such,
encourage their development and any financial backing offered them.

As we understand that private capital still has plenty of ground to
cover within Cuba's economy and that its most progressive
representatives could contribute to development efforts, we have no
objections to its participation in the process, under laws that
guarantee wages, vacation time and social security benefits, as well as
the creation of independent trade unions and others that will defend the
rights of wage laborers.

This way out of the current crisis only appears possible on the basis of
dialogue, negotiation and an atmosphere of national consensus and
harmony, where everyone can place the interests of the nation in the
foreground, and where the people constitute the one, sovereign
decision-maker. This involves the release of those who have been
detained for political reasons and a number of fundamental, individual

Independent civil society – the one that opts for non-violence and
dialogue –, progressive and nationalist sectors of the bourgeoisie in
Cuba and abroad and the wide democratic Left within Cuban society and
the State will all contribute to this democratic process, to varying
degrees and with no shortages of disagreements among them.

There are points of agreement across their demands that should be
brought to the foreground, without thereby abandoning their respective
identities. These strengths could be used to advance many actions and
policies, to the point, even, of organizing a broad, nationwide
democratic front.

The success of this alternative will depend on the ability of democratic
forces – all democratic forces, regardless of their political leanings,
whether they are in Cuba or abroad or within the government – to make
their programs reach the population, earn its support and create the
needed alliances.

Today, the democratic alternative has the fertile soil it needs to
develop it never had before, precisely because of the change in US
policy which neutralizes all of the stifling philosophy of the besieged
fortress and eliminates pretexts for political repression and the lack
of democracy and liberties of every sort. The United States' new Cuba
policy can eliminate all of the obstacles standing in the way of
international trade, a step required for development.

This is the most important historical juncture since the revolution of
1959, an opportunity to bring about the democratic changes the country
needs and will allow all political tendencies that favor such changes to
work together.

There are no democracy gages we can use to identify how likely these
forces are to prevail, but we could say that, despite how isolated the
different actors are, the lack of means and resources to have an impact
on society and the limitations imposed by the bureaucratic system, these
forces, working together, could became a decisive majority in an
atmosphere of tolerance and fundamental freedoms, through their
identification with the interests of the people.

The prevailing system in Cuba was sustained by two major pillars:
foreign aid and opposition to US imperialism. The first fell by the
wayside with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the "socialist bloc,"
shoes Venezuela never did manage to fill. The US executive has
re-established diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, but many
of the laws that make up the blockade-embargo are still in place and
Cuban-Americans in Congress favor them, giving the forces within Cuba's
military that cling to the past an excuse not to budge. Quite simply,
they play into each other's hands.

The leaders of the Cuban military, government and Communist Party.
Photo: granma.cu
The small clique of original revolutionaries that controls the
government opposes this democratic alternative and uses the "reform
process" as the spear-head of the political and military apparatus that
administer the country, to prevent the free development of all non-State
forms of production that do not rely on joint or direct foreign
investment. It gives no signs of being in favor of democratization and
continues to repress dissenting thoughts, sometimes employing violence.

This group knows that its State wage model has failed and is promoting
changes, but it is very much afraid that these will make it lose its
power and that they will later be judged for all the wrong they've done
for over half a century in the name of socialism. They do not realize
that history has already judged them and condemned them to retirement.
This verdict could however change if they stubbornly stick to their
positions and continue to repress alternatives.

In the complex situation we have today, we cannot deny that Raul Castro
and his clique have reacted positively to a rapprochement with the
United States, even though their chief motivation is the lifting of
sanctions that will allow them to tap sources of money and investments
up north. We also cannot deny that his administration, as centralized
and bureaucratic as his brothers, incapable of overcome the serious
problems faced by Cuban society, has at least modified a number of
absurd regulations and opened up a handful of small spaces for economic
activities outside the State.

Everything indicates that, if there are differences at the high echelons
of power regarding the scope of the changes and the policy of
rapprochement with the United States, all of the elite has the same
prejudices with respect to the crucial democratization of society and
agree that repressive policies must be implemented against dissenting
thought, as a means of guaranteeing the power in the hands of the
bureaucratic elite, its descendants and loyal subjects.

The military officials who rule the country and could have more
pragmatic stances could develop other initiatives in a freer context,
without the pressures of the embargo-blockade or from internal groups
that continue to support the old US policies. Such a situation could
lead them to understand that they can be part of the future if they are
able to share power with the workers and the people, in conjunction with
diverse democratic forces.

The democratic alternative also runs into the "vendetta" mentality of
the more radical groups in the émigré community and some on the island
who are opposed to any dialogue with the government, groups that insist
that the "Castroist" elite must first be swept away and that the United
States ought to keep the blockade-embargo in place, place obstacles on
the road to the normalization of relations and seek a regime change
through political and economic stifling.

This, while standing in the way of the methods and aims of the peaceful
and democratic alternative, reaffirms the intransigent sectors of the
Stalinist elite in their stance, and these sectors must be given an
option – otherwise, they will continue to cling to their positions.

Do these groups want democracy for themselves only, and a new
dictatorship for the rest? Democracy, like freedom, is either for
everyone or it is not true democracy. Those who oppose the democratic
path, those who support violence and policies that exclude others, end
up isolating themselves.

Those who ask for "justice first" seem to forget that horrendous crimes
were also perpetrated in the struggle against Castro-communism and that
people demand justice for these actions as well.

Should we try to overcome the problems that weigh on the Cuban people
and keep development and happiness out of reach for them, or do we all
start settling accounts, reliving the past, covering Cuban soil with
blood once again, continuing the interminable cycle of violence?

Should we be driven by a thirst of justice or vengeance? Wouldn't it be
nobler, and entirely possible, to try and work for peace under justice,
hand in hand with forgiveness, through methods such as dialogue and
negotiation, and bury the hatchet and the eye-for-an-eye mentality once
and for all?

That violence stems from the political system based on the "dictatorship
of the proletariat" is not something we put in question. But let us try
not to play into their hand with discourses and policies similar to theirs.

It is time for understanding to reach the core of Cuban society
(including the émigré community), in the same way the governments of
Cuba and the United States have done through dialogue, putting aside
their profound differences. The Pope, who encouraged the rapprochement
between the United States and Cuban government, could contribute to
internal talks.

Espacio Abierto ("Open Space"), a Cuban civil society group, has just
advanced a proposal for a debate to include everyone, including
government authorities. It would be a serious mistake to reject or
ignore this proposal. We hope that, sooner rather than later, the sense
shown by the Cuban government in its talks with the United States will
prevail also within Cuban society.

Source: The Democratic Alternative for Cuba - Havana Times.org -

Obama should tell Latin Americans what he told Africans

Obama should tell Latin Americans what he told Africans

During his trip to Africa earlier this week, President Barack Obama gave
a powerful speech asking the region's long-entrenched leaders to end
corruption, respect freedom of the press and stop changing the
constitution to remain in power indefinitely. I wonder why he doesn't
make the same speech in Latin America.

During a July 28 speech to the African Union at its headquarters in
Addis Ababa, Ethiopa, Obama told African leaders that "Nothing will
unlock Africa's economic potential more than ending the cancer of

"Corruption exists all over the world, including in the United States,"
he added. "But here in Africa, corruption drains billions of dollars
from economies that can't afford to lose billions of dollars — that's
money that could be used to create jobs and build hospitals and schools."

After his call on countries to take actions against corruption, Obama
spent much of his speech calling on governments to stop harassing
independent media, and asking leaders not to stay in power indefinitely.
Several of the African Union's 54 member-countries have leaders who have
been in power for a decade, or longer.

"We all know what the ingredients of real democracy are: they include
free and fair elections, but also freedom of speech and the press,
freedom of assembly," Obama said. "These rights are universal. They're
written into African constitutions."

"Yet at this very moment, these same freedoms are denied to many
Africans," he went on. "When journalists are put behind bars for doing
their jobs, or activists are threatened as governments crack down on
civil society, then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance."

In what was the most daring part of his speech, Obama said that
"Africa's democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to
step aside when their terms end."

Mixing his stern message with humor, he reminded the audience that he is
nearing the end of his second term, and that he loves his job, but that
under the U.S. Constitution he can't run again.

"I actually think I'm a pretty good President. I think if I ran I could
win," he joked. "But I can't.....The law is the law.... And no one
person is above the law. Not even the president."

He concluded, "When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of
the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife... And
sometimes you'll hear leaders say, well, I'm the only person who can
hold this nation together. If that's true, then that leader has failed
to truly build their nation."

My opinion: It was a phenomenal speech, which Obama should also make in
Latin America. It would demand no extra work: He would just have to copy
and paste it, and replace the word "Africa" for "Latin America."

In Latin America, just like in Africa, corruption is rampant, freedom of
the press is routinely repressed, and current or previous presidents of
Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia and several other
countries have in recent years changed their constitutions to remain in
power — or allow their appointees to do it for them — indefinitely.

Cuba, with which Obama has just reestablished diplomatic relations and
where Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to preside over the
flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14, is an
hereditary military dictatorship run by a general. There has not been a
free election or an independent TV station in Cuba in more than five

Obama probably doesn't dare make his African Union speech in Latin
America because much more U.S. trade and investments are at stake there.
He did refer to these issues during the recent Summit of the Americas in
Panama, but not nearly as bluntly as he did in Addis Ababa this week.

Granted, if he told these things to Latin American leaders, the region's
populist demagogues would immediately accuse him of meddling in their
internal affairs in order to allegedly pursue sinister "imperialist" plans.

But after several years of corrupt leaders who hide behind nationalist
demagoguery to justify their pursuit of absolute powers, many people in
several Latin American autocracies want more rule of law, and more

To stress his point, Obama would just need to repeat what he said in
Africa: that countries don't need strong leaders, but strong
institutions. And that if a leader claims to be the only one who can
hold his nation together, the leader has failed to truly build that nation.

Source: Andres Oppenheimer: Obama should tell Latin Americans what he
told Africans | Miami Herald -

Hillary Clinton to call for lifting Cuba embargo in Miami

Hillary Clinton to call for lifting Cuba embargo in Miami

Hillary Clinton will use Friday, her first day of public appearances in
Florida as a presidential candidate, to declare her allegiance to
President Barack Obama's Cuba policy in the hometown of Republican
rivals who oppose it, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

In a speech at Florida International University, Clinton will call for
lifting the U.S. trade embargo.

"She will highlight that Republican arguments against increased
engagement are part of failed policies of the past and contend that we
must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and
interests to engage with Cubans and address human rights abuses," her
campaign said in a statement.

Much like her speech on immigration reform in Las Vegas, in which she
tried to portray herself as even more progressive than Obama, her speech
at FIU will be Clinton's first chance to double down on the president's
move in December to normalize U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations. The 11
a.m. speech will follow her address to the National Urban League, a
civil-rights organization, in Fort Lauderdale earlier Friday.

For the majority of voters in Florida and elsewhere, Cuba isn't one of
the top issues on which they will cast their vote for president.
However, Clinton's stance on Cuba gives her a chance to drive a wedge
between herself and the leading contenders in the GOP field — including
Rubio and Bush.

Some recent polls show that the vast majority of voters, even in
Florida, support normalizing relations with the island after decades of
isolation. That allows Clinton to argue that Bush, Rubio and many of the
other GOP candidates are out of touch with mainstream Americans.

"Hillary's position on Cuba predates the president's position," said
Miami pollster Fernand Amandi, who has done polls about Cuba policy in
Florida. "She came out for eliminating the embargo well before new
policy change announced in December last year. She often commented on
the need to reevaluate and reengage the issue of U.S. policy toward Cuba
but always with the end goal of bringing democracy and a transition to
democratic government to island."

In June, Bendixen & Amandi International did a poll with the Tarrance
Group of 1,400 Hispanic voters nationwide. It showed that for 46 percent
of voters, the fact that a candidate supports the new policy of
normalization would have no impact on their vote. But for those who did
factor that into that their vote, 34 percent said they were more likely
to support that candidate, compared to 14 percent who said the opposite.
Generally the same trend held true for Florida voters, with 32 percent
more likely to support the candidate, compared to 19 percent less
likely. (Similar numbers were found among voters in Colorado, Nevada and
North Carolina.)

The poll showed clear support among Democrats and independents for
normalizing relations with Cuba, while Republicans nationwide were
evenly split.

Among Cubans nationwide, 40 percent said they too were more likely to
support a candidate who supports normalization, while 26 percent were
opposed and the remainder said it wasn't a factor or didn't know.

However, Mauricio Claver-Carone, an opponent of lifting sanctions and
co-founder and director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, pointed to an
Associated Press poll in July that showed that while nearly
three-fourths of Americans think the United States should have
diplomatic ties with Cuba, they're not sure how far to go in lifting
sanctions. The nationwide poll showed 58 percent of Americans approve of
Obama's handling of the U.S. relationship with Havana, but they were
nearly evenly split about what to do about sanctions.

Claver-Carone said that he would remind Clinton of two facts that show
how her position on Cuba could hurt her on Election Day.

"Every single Cuban American elected anywhere in the U.S. — councilman,
member of Congress, legislature, you name it — all oppose Obama's
policy," he told the Miami Herald. "There has never been any statewide
official that supports lifting sanctions that has ever been elected in
the state of Florida, including Obama who campaigned twice both times on
support for the embargo. She is being walked down a political plank on
this one."

In her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton wrote that near the end of her
tenure as secretary of state, she recommended that Obama review the
embargo — a decision that ultimately lies with Congress. She wrote that
the embargo "wasn't achieving its goals, and it was holding back our
broader agenda across Latin America. After 20 years of observing and
dealing with the U.S.-Cuba relationship, I thought we should shift the
onus onto the Castros to explain why they remained undemocratic and

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in June 2014, Clinton
said that she had concluded "that the embargo is Castro's best friend.
It provides Castro an excuse for everything. Why do we still have to be
harassing, you know, the mothers of the imprisoned? Well, because
America's behind it. Why do we have to, you know, prevent the kind of
relationships that we would like to see Cuba engage in opening up and
being more forward looking? Well, because we can't — you know, America
is embargoing us.... We've been in a corner for too long."

But Clinton often omits her husband's role in the embargo. In 1996,
President Bill Clinton strengthened the embargo by signing the
Helms-Burton law, which states that the embargo will only be lifted if
Cuba holds free and fair elections, frees political prisoners and allows
for a free press and labor unions. He signed that bill after two
Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down in the Florida Straits by
Cuban MiGs.

During her speech at FIU, Clinton is expected to address her views on
the Helms-Burton law.

For years, Hillary Clinton talked about the need for democracy before
changing the policy toward Cuba, including during her first presidential

In July 2007, she bashed Obama for saying he would meet with Cuban
leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and called his
suggestion "irresponsible and frankly naive."

"Until there is some recognition on the part of whoever is in charge of
the Cuban government that they have to move toward democracy and freedom
for the Cuban people, it will be very difficult for us to change our
policy," she said at a December 2007 debate in Iowa.

Earlier this month, when Obama announced the opening of respective
embassies with Cuba, Clinton wrote on Twitter: "New US Embassy in Havana
helps us engage Cuban people & build on efforts to support positive
change. Good step for US & Cuban people."

In May, Clinton talked about her support for Obama's Cuba policy during
a fundraiser at the Coral Gables home of Nilda Milton, whose late
husband, José, was a developer.

"She said if we want change in Cuba we have to be for openness," said
former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, who attended the event. "She was
very supportive of the president's Dec. 17th statement, and I think she
leaned into it."

Both Rubio and Bush have repeatedly criticized the Obama
administration's stance on normalizing relations.

"Hillary Clinton was adamantly against easing restrictions with Cuba in
2000 and 2008, going so far as to confirm she would not meet with Raul
Castro until there was evidence of political change," Emily Benavides, a
Bush spokeswoman, said Wednesday. "President Obama's concessions to
Castro have not resulted in more democracy or freedom for the Cuban people."

Rubio, who has taught political science at FIU in the past, has
campaigned on his parents' journey as Cuban immigrants. His campaign
said Wednesday that Clinton is "making another grave mistake."

"Unilateral concessions to the Castros will only strengthen a brutal,
anti-American regime 90 miles from our shore," the campaign said.

McClatchy reporter Lesley Clark and Miami Herald reporter Patricia
Mazzei contributed to this article.

Source: Hillary Clinton to call for lifting Cuba embargo in Miami |
Miami Herald -

The Politics of Prevention - Cholera in Cuba

The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba
[30-07-2015 01:02:47]
Cuba Transition Project

(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Even before the scheduled opening of the
US Embassy on July 20, 2015, there were advertisements, blog posts,
tweets, and news feeds welcoming U.S. residents to Cuba for cultural,
religious or educational opportunities. Cuba remains a popular
destination for Canadian and Western European tourists with its rich
cultural arts, gracious hosts and Caribbean beaches. However, a growing
interest in U.S. approved trips must consider Cuba's lack of safe
potable water, sanitation and sewage issues along with housing
challenges. This is important because while it is unreported, cholera
transmission exists within Cuba.
Cuba's lack of transparency in health outbreak reporting is in question
again. Laboratory confirmed cases continue to be shared with the
international community about tourists returning to Canada, Latin
America, and European countries after taking home more than sun and fun
from a Cuban vacation. Cuba consistently asserts that the cholera
outbreak of 2012 was quickly controlled within the country.

Where is the United States government on this issue today?

While a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cholera
watch in Cuba has recently been removed from their website, (1) there is
still evidence that cholera is transmitted there. CDC travel notices
consists of three levels:

A "watch" level 1 informs travelers to use usual precautions, an "alert"
level 2 calls for enhanced precautions and a "warning" level 3 advises
travelers to avoid nonessential travel to an area where the risk is
high. These travel notices are important because the CDC notification
system is widely used by travelers as well as clinicians for up-to-date
international travel information.

Since 2013 there have been cases of confirmed cholera after visits to
Cuba. (2) In January 2015 the Canadian International Health Regulation
reported a case of a returning traveler, (3) as well as Pan American
Health Organization (PAHO) on their Epidemiologic Update Report (4)
documented this as the only case of cholera in Cuba for 2015. This
assumes only travelers and no locals have been infected. It is more
likely that the Cuban government does not share this information with
the international community, and is only compelled to cooperate after
scientific proof is disseminated.

In June 2015 the United Kingdom reported a traveler who participated in
an all-inclusive resort stay in Varadero and spent two days in Havana
before getting sick and returned home with cholera. According to the
International Society for Infectious Disease, through their Program for
Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMed- mail) posting on July 3, 2015, the
patient indicated other family members were well. However, "several
other people staying in his hotel (not necessarily in the same tour
group) had reported severe gastroenteritis symptoms with a similar
period of onset," suggesting this may not be the only case. Pro-Med
seeks to share this information and advise others of the confirmed
cholera in Cuba and for health professionals to consider such a
diagnosis with travelers returning with diarrhea. (5)

The question is not whether cholera is a risk to locals and visitors.
Rather, the issue is why has the CDC removed the notification from its
website when outside country evidence continues to show cholera exists
within Cuba.

Are we left to speculate that the promotion of diplomatic relations- in
an attempt to not question Cuba's position on reporting disease
outbreaks as required by World Health Organization International Health
Regulations- is more important than the prevention and promotion of
health security? Let's not play politics with what we know is a best
practice in prevention. Give people access to reliable information so
they are well informed of their potential risks. Only then can good
decisions be made to prevent cholera-or for that matter dengue,
chikungunya or possibly zika virus (new mosquito born virus to reach the
Caribbean) when traveling to Cuba.


1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Travel Notices-
Cholera in Cuba,"
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/cholera-cuba, accessed July
14, 2015.

2) M Mascarello, M L Deianam C Maurel, C Lucarelli , I Luzzi R Luzzati,
"Cholera with Severe Renal Failure in An Italian Tourist Returning from
Cuba," Eurosurveillance, July 2013. Volume 18, Issue 35, August 29,
2013. http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20572.

3) Public Health Agency for Canada, Travel Health Notice: Cholera in
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, updated March 20, 2015

4) PAHO Epidemiologic Update. "Cholera in The Americas," June 24, 2015

5) ProMed- Mail. "Cholera, Diarrhea and dysentery update (24):
Americas," Archive Number: 20150703.3480336July 3, 2015


*Sherri L. Porcelain teaches global health in world affairs at the
University of Miami where she is also a Senior Research Associate at the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

Source: The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba - Misceláneas de
Cuba -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dozens of Activists Detained in Havana Following the Ladies in White March

Dozens of Activists Detained in Havana Following the Ladies in White
March / Diario de Cuba, Angel Moya
Posted on July 29, 2015

Diario de Cuba, Angel Moya, Havana, 26 July 2015 – Some 60 activists
were arrested this past Sunday in Havana following the customary Sunday
march of the Ladies in White, reported government opponents on social
media. The arrests took place within the context of an act of
repudiation described by the opponents as "violent," and were carried
out by "civilian mobs," tweeted Ailer María González Mena.

The Ladies' Sunday march was preceded by the arrests of several of the
women, along with independent journalists, dissident sources were
reporting as of midday.

The women, as usual, attended mass at St. Rita's Church, and later met
at Mahatma Gandhi Park, from where they began their march along Fifth

During the meeting they paid homage to the deceased opponents Oswaldo
Payá and Harold Cepero, who died under mysterious circumstances three
years ago last week.

Former political prisoner Ángel Moya posted on his Twitter account that
the Ladies Oilyn Hernández and María R. Rodríguez were arrested, as well
as blogger Agustín López. Other activists had their residences
surrounded by State Security agents.

Activists had predicted there would be a major police presence in the area.*

*Translator's Notes: *26 July is the date commemorated by the Cuban
government as the start of the Revolution

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Dozens of Activists Detained in Havana Following the Ladies in
White March / Diario de Cuba, Angel Moya | Translating Cuba -

The Revolutionary Mass is Held at Dawn

The Revolutionary Mass is Held at Dawn / 14ymedio, 26 July 2015
Posted on July 28, 2015

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 26 July 2015 — The liturgy does not
change. The anniversary event for the Day of National Rebellion took
place this Sunday in front of the Moncada Barracks. A script where each
detail is repeated year after year, like a rite empty of emotion and
surprises. The only novelty on this occasion has been the hour chosen
for the start. At 5:12 in the morning National TV began the broadcast of
the event from a plaza in darkness with an orator yawning in the dawn.

The second secretary of the Communist Party, Jose Ramon Ventura, was
charged with the annual speech for the 26th of July. Any study of the
television audience would reveal that the only viewers of the small
screen at this hour were the insomniacs looking for something to
entertain them and the journalists chasing headlines. Both nocturnal
creatures ended up disappointed. There was no entertainment nor news.

And of course, the event would not be complete without the "Young
Pioneer" girl on the verge of tears hysterically spewing out
well-rehearsed slogans. Nor the reenactment of the assault on the
barracks, 62 years ago, acted out by teenagers who only know the version
of history imposed on them by the gentlemen seated in the front row. The
only excitement was hearing their youthful voices crying "Down with the
dictatorship!" The applause, almost syncopated, completed the spectacle.

The artistic gala, with its roughly gesturing men dancers and languid
women, added to the historical cult. A dance style widely used at
official events that mixex socialist realism with the kitsch of a circus
act. In the words of the playwright and film director Juan Carlos
Cremata, another of "the thousands of public events where masses of
money is squandered and bad taste, ineffectiveness, falsehood and
madness are encouraged."

No announcements occurred during the "Revolutionary Mass." Not even on
addressing the theme of the reestablishment of relations with the United
States did Machado Ventura go beyond what has already been repeated ad
nauseam. The process will be "long and complex," the functionary recited
like a weary oration. Conspicuous for its absence in his words was any
allusion to John Kerry's upcoming visit to Cuba and the opening ceremony
for the American embassy in Havana.

For its part, the speech of Lazaro Exposito Canto, first secretary of
the provincial committee of the Communist Party in Santiago de Cuba,
slid along the path of triumphalism. He boasted of the territory's
economic results, in an uncritical and obviously fake way. There was no
lack of commitment to the founders of the cult, when he affirmed that
"Santiaguans have never failed the Party nor the direction of the
Revolution, because in Santiago, dear Fidel and Raul, always, absolutely
always, you will be victorious," without explaining that it would be a
"victory" like that of those terrible early morning hours of 26 July
1953, on the feast day of Saint Anne.

Only one gesture departed from the script. Raul Castro, at the last
second, grabbed the microphone and shouted, "Let Santiago always be
Santiago!" A tired "amen" that few heard because they had already turned
off the TV.

Source: The Revolutionary Mass is Held at Dawn / 14ymedio, 26 July 2015
| Translating Cuba -

New Embassy for an Old Dictatorship

New Embassy for an Old Dictatorship / Miriam Celaya
Posted on July 28, 2015

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 22 July 2015 — The reopening of the
Cuban embassy in Washington finally took place amid extravagant fanfare,
and, judging by the profuse media coverage, with catchy headlines and
photos on the front pages of almost all the newspapers, it seemed that
there was nothing more relevant taking place in the world.

The (re)opening of the Cuban embassy was the recipient of movie star
treatment in some of the news media: photo galleries with pictures of
before and after, instant ones — not as offensive — of the first opening
of the building during the Cuban Republican era, a construction worker,
proudly posing outside the newly renovated headquarters, showing off his
Che Guevara arm tattoo, an indoor plaque to be unveiled at the time of
the opening, and the flag hoisted on the mast; just like all flags at
embassies around the world … Undoubtedly, the Island's proverbial vanity
was on a high.

A large official delegation traveled from Cuba, at public expense, to
attend the merriment that joyfully celebrated the Castros' capitulation
and which – with that skill for euphemisms — the government discourse
coined as a "victory of the Revolution." These included several
representatives of the government "civil society" who offered the
embarrassing spectacle of rallies of repudiation orchestrated during the
last Summit of the Americas in Panama, who now were awarded a trip of
encouragement to the Empire of Evil which provides so many goods.

Not to mention the national news report that aired on Cuban TV which,
for the first time in 56 years, turned into a surprising tribute to the
northern nation, with laudatory references to the beauty of its
landscapes, its natural wealth, its robust economy, its productivity,
its strong cultural heritage and the values of its people. If TV viewers
had not been able to develop a natural defense against cynicism over
decades, they would have convulsed. Combat veterans of the long war
against the imperialist enemy have definitely lost their job content.

The opening of embassies have been termed "historical" and they are,
indeed, after more than 50 years of confrontations and broken relations.
However, beyond the pompous adjectives and the symbolic event of the
hasty restoration of the old building that (until recently) was the
Office of Cuban Interests in (until just yesterday) the enemy capital,
few are asking these questions: "What will really change for Cubans
"abroad" and "in Cuba"? How positively will the lives of the common
citizen reflect this metamorphosis?

Media comments have not been few about the alleged expectations that
have surfaced among the people in Cuba with the opening of both nations'
embassies. Obviously, there is no consensus on the criteria of those who
have been questioned about the matter and all who stand for the same
interests. For example, artists and academics who benefit from cultural
exchange programs are optimistic, and so are those who have relatives
living in the United States and look at the opening of the Cuban embassy
in Washington as a chance for the viability of immigrant entry permits.

But as "normalization" makes its strides in diplomatic circles, there is
concern that US visas will eventually be limited. There are those who
are convinced that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of
visas issued by the United States Interests Section in Havana. Whether
this is true or hypothetical, what is real is that the more tangible
expectative of the controversial Obama-Castro romance has to do with the
wishes for trips and not with the hope that Cuba's internal situation
will show an improvement.

On the other hand, among those wishing to leave Cuba, there is a growing
concern about the possible repeal or amendment of Cuban Adjustment Act,
which has unleashed a new stampede in the form of illegal migration of
Cubans, both by sea and through the borders, especially from several
Latin American countries. Every week, dozens have been intercepted in
the Straits of Florida and at the borders of Central America and Mexico.
I think there is no better survey on expectations of the negotiations
than that permanent exodus.

Meanwhile, nothing has changed significantly or hints at any change in
Cuba. Although it could be argued that the general opinion of the Cuban
people is for the approval of restored relations, nobody seems to expect
any easing that will expand the economic, political and social freedoms
of Cubans. In any case, the media show of diplomacy and related plethora
of celebratory smiles, handshakes and mojitos will not put food on the
table, much less point to calm the hunger for freedom that continues to
spread, as another quiet epidemic, among Cuba's best sons.

Even if the logic now drawn from the agendas of official dialogues
points at the embargo as a priority –increasingly more symbolic than
realistic — emigration, compensation for the expropriation of properties
in the early years of the Revolution or a naval base whose occupation or
return will not really mean anything to most Cubans; it is becoming
increasingly clear that it is time to load the dice about such a crucial
issue as human rights, beginning with inclusion of demands for
recognition and participation of the independent civil society and the
establishment of a national dialogue that reflects the aspirations of
all of us for Cuba's present and future. As long as that does not take
place, the much flaunted "new" Cuban embassy in Washington will be just
a mere scenario for the puppet show from the Plaza de la Revolución.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: New Embassy for an Old Dictatorship / Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba -