Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The end of a dictatorship

The end of a dictatorship
DDC | Madrid | 29 de Noviembre de 2016 - 19:06 CET.

Fidel Castro Ruz, dictator emeritus, died in Havana at age 90.

As a young, recent Law graduate he took up arms to overthrow the
dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Determined to rise to power, he
promised democratic elections and the reimplementation of the
Constitution of 1940.

He began to lead the country in 1959, enjoying immense popularity, but
going on to not only fail to deliver on the promises he made to the
people, but to quash any hope that they would ever be fulfilled.

He constructed an iron-fisted regime, curtailing every class of freedom.
He refined his repressive tactics, crimes and state-perpetrated violence
to the point that they were not publicly perceived. And his leadership
garnered such great press that the court of international opinion took a
long time to acknowledge him as a crusher of freedom. Some still have not.

He drew wedges between families and prompted the greatest numbers of
exiles and immigrants in the country's history. Within the country he
drew so many distinctions between Cuban nationals and foreigners that
being Cuban was converted into an almost disgraceful condition. He
erected an extensive prison system throughout the Island, and a sizeable
one to house political prisoners.

His narcissism as a statesman, his yearning to go down in history, and
be absolved by it, and his geopolitical pretensions, spurred him to shed
the blood of many Cubans in military campaigns in other countries and on
other continents.

He was the worst administrator in the history of the country. Invoking
the justification of egalitarian distribution, he designed crackpot
economic projects based on magical solutions and without consulting
specialists. Falsely claiming mastery of various branches of knowledge,
he ruined an economy that was prosperous and growing when he came to
power, and left a country in ruins, with cities that look like that they
have been bombed.

In 2006, forced by illness, he had no choice but to cede power to his
younger brother, although he continued to exert an influence. The story
of his dictatorship was missing but one thing: the conclusion of his
death. As he had clung to life, celebrations and mourning had not been
possible until now. Now it remains to be seen how he lives on a symbol –
of whatever kind.

The dictatorship of Fidel Castro has just come to an end, although the
country remains under a dictatorial regime. His body, like those of his
minions in power, will be cremated, a funerary solution that gives one
an idea of the mistrust felt by this kind of individual, and his
relatives, wary of his posthumous acceptance by the Cuban people.

Source: The end of a dictatorship | Diario de Cuba -

Leftist allies fly in to pay tribute to Cuba's Castro at mass rally

Leftist allies fly in to pay tribute to Cuba's Castro at mass rally
Raul Castro swears allegiance in front of Fidel Castro's urn
By Sarah Marsh | HAVANA

(Reuters) - Leaders of Cuba's leftist allies and other developing
countries arrive in Havana on Tuesday for a mass rally commemorating
Fidel Castro, the rebel who seized power in a 1959 revolution and ruled
the island for half a century.

Castro, who ceded control to his younger brother Raul Castro a decade
ago due to poor health, died on Friday at the age of 90.

For many, especially in Latin America and Africa, he was a symbol of
resistance to imperialism, having ousted a U.S.-backed dictator, and a
champion of the poor. Others condemned him as a tyrant whose socialism
ran the island's economy to ruin.

Cuba announced nine days of mourning, including the rally on Tuesday
evening in Havana's Revolution Square - the same massive space where
Castro once delivered rousing, marathon speeches.

On Tuesday morning, thousands lined up in the square for a second day to
file past Castro's favorite portrait of himself, dressed in military
fatigues and carrying a rifle.

"He has left us physically, but from now on will multiply in the
millions, because we shall follow his ideas," said customs worker
Hipolito Rodriguez, 67, dressed in khaki military fatigues as he waited
for his turn to pay homage.

"He was the father of the nation. It is like losing a beloved relative.
He has left us a legacy we must continue."

Many leaders of Latin America's left, including Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro and Bolivian President Evo Morales, flew in to attend the
ceremony. Maduro, speaking on Monday night, paid tribute to Castro's
"immortal force."

Also expected are several African leaders such as Zimbabwe's Robert
Mugabe and South Africa's Jacob Zuma. Nelson Mandela, while he was still
alive, repeatedly thanked Castro for his efforts in helping overturn
apartheid in South Africa.

China has sent Vice President Li Yuanchao, and on Tuesday in Beijing,
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Cuban embassy to pay his
condolences, saying China had lost a "close comrade and real friend",
China's foreign ministry said.

Yet few leaders from the world's major powers are heading to the
Caribbean island, with many sending second tier officials instead to pay
their respects to a man who built a Communist state on the doorstep of
the United States.

Russian President Valdimir Putin has skipped the ceremony to focus on
preparing a major speech. However the Kremlin stressed that Putin, who
described Castro as a "true friend of Russia," held a different view on
his legacy to that of Donald Trump. The U.S. president-elect has called
the Cuban leader "a brutal dictator."


Raul Castro has undertaken some economic reforms in recent years, but
the one-party system remains in place and his government has signaled
clearly that the death of Fidel Castro should not be taken as a sign
that the revolution he launched is over. Cubans have been urged to sign
condolence books and pledges of loyalty to Castro's socialist ideology
at 1,060 tribute sites throughout the country.

"I signed because he was a good man, we loved him a lot, and I wanted to
reaffirm my loyalty to him and his ideas," said Arcide Ge, 56, a
security guard. "He was good to everyone, he sent doctors abroad and
helped the poor here."

All schools and government offices will be closed on Tuesday so that
Cubans can more easily join the rally and other activities to pay homage
to Castro, authorities said.

Tens of thousands of people paid tribute in the square on Monday, some
in tears and others wrapped in the red, white and blue national flag.
Many state employees and school children came together in groups.

Raul Castro, 85, and top government officials held a separate, private
ceremony on Monday, laying white flowers in front of Fidel Castro's
portrait and a box containing his ashes.

On Wednesday, a procession taking Castro's ashes will begin a slow
journey east to Santiago de Cuba, where he launched the revolution. They
will be laid to rest on Sunday, Dec. 4, in the city's Santa Ifigenia
cemetery, also the resting place of independence hero Jose Marti.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Simon
Gardner, Kieran Murray and Frances Kerry)

Source: Leftist allies fly in to pay tribute to Cuba's Castro at mass
rally | Article [AMP] | Reuters -

Cuba detains dissident artist for celebrating Castro's death

Cuba detains dissident artist for celebrating Castro's death
By Nicole Martinez
Reuters November 29, 2016

MIAMI (Reuters) - Cuban police have detained dissident artist Danilo "El
Sexto" Maldonado, once declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty
International, after he made a video celebrating the death of Fidel
Castro, a dissident human rights group and the artist's girlfriend said
on Monday.

Castro died on Friday at age 90, a decade after he had retired due to
poor health and ceded power to his brother, current President Raul Castro.

Maldonado posted a video on social media on Saturday in which he rants
against Castro and calls him a "mare," a Cuban pejorative.

Such a video could constitute the offense of "disrespect." Maldonado,
33, was previously jailed on that charge for painting the names "Fidel"
and "Raul" on a pair of pigs.

His most recent detention was reported by Maldonado's American
girlfriend, Alexandra Martinez, who said she spoke with him moments
before he was detained by Cuban officials, and by the dissident Cuban
Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which said
Maldonado's mother reported the detention on South Florida radio.

Cuban officials have not confirmed whether Maldonado was in custody,
said Kimberley Motley, a human rights attorney contacted by the Human
Rights Foundation to handle Maldanado's case. Cuba does not publicly
report arrests and dismisses dissidents as U.S.-paid mercenaries.

Maldonado has used performance and graffiti art to criticize the Cuban

Following his arrest in December 2014, he spent 10 months in prison and
was released after an Amnesty International statement that he was
considered Cuba's only prisoner of conscience.

(Reporting by Nicole Martinez; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Marguerita Choy)

Source: Cuba detains dissident artist for celebrating Castro's death -

The Dream of a Free Cuba

The Dream of a Free Cuba

Chicago — In my dreams as a young boy, I was chosen by the C.I.A. to
assassinate Fidel Castro; I would be a hero and set Cuba free.

Like many Cuban-Americans, I was raised to believe it was my obligation
to do just that. Perhaps it was because none of us believed we would
ever return to Cuba until Castro was dead.

Now Castro has died, at long last. In fact, I have been going back to
Cuba for years, playing a smaller, less dramatic part in trying to
instigate change in Cuba. But when I accepted an offer in 2003 to attend
a seminar in Havana on Afro-Cuban ritual in Caribbean theater, some in
my family considered me a traitor.

Though I had no memories of Cuba, having left the island in 1961 at the
age of 3, I teared up as I stepped off the plane and all of my senses
absorbed missing years of home. I attended a dress rehearsal of an
adaptation of Euripides' "The Bacchae" and was surprised not just by the
exquisite quality of the performance, but also by how clearly critical
the production was of the Castro regime.

I kept looking over my shoulder, sure that the police would burst in at
any moment. It never happened. But I realized then how the isolation of
Cuba imposed by the United States embargo for more than five decades had
prevented me from seeing the efforts Cubans were making — and the risks
they were taking — to criticize the state through the arts.

After that, I returned to the island many times as the director of the
Latino Theater Festival at the Goodman Theater, looking to bring Cuba's
leading theater company, Teatro Buendía, back here to Chicago. I
eventually succeeded in 2010.

In my role as a professor, I returned to Cuba this summer to create a
theater course with Teatro Buendía for Northwestern's study abroad
program. Incongruously enough, the new course was made possible by a
grant through the State Department, designed to foster cultural exchange.

As a Cuban-American who was raised to be fiercely patriotic about my
adopted home, I believe the best way to instigate change in Cuba is to
support these performers and all those who risk retribution for
criticizing the revolution. However, the recent appointment by
President-elect Donald J. Trump of Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of a
hard-line conservative Cuban-American political action committee, to a
transition team for the Treasury Department is a threatening sign for
advocates of President Obama's groundbreaking shift of policy toward Cuba.

Mr. Claver-Carone's views are consistent with a declining but still
influential generation in my community of those who obstinately deny
that more access and open communication with those living in Cuba can
support pro-democracy activities, and threaten the government of Raúl
Castro from within.

To return now to the failed approach of the past would be worse than
counterproductive. All you have to do is travel the half-hour from José
Martí International Airport to central Havana to see the propaganda
billboard that blames the embargo for all the shortages and hardships
suffered by the Cuban people. The trade ban is undeniably the most
effective prop the Castro regime has to avoid taking responsibility for
every ill in Cuba.

I grew up witnessing the profound pain of all that my family lost when
we came to this country. I watched my mother, Adela, struggle to create
a future for her 10 children in a new country. And I grew up lamenting
the loss of a life I never knew, a culture and identity that we, her
children, were cut off from.

So I understand, too well, the arguments of political leaders like
Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz against normalizing relations with
Cuba. They and other politicians aligned with influential hard-line
Cuban-Americans argue that while the Cuban government continues to
violate human rights, suppressing free speech, unrestricted travel and
economic opportunities for its people, the United States should maintain
pressure on the regime by upholding the trade embargo. Recently,
however, and for the first time after historically casting "no" votes,
the United States simply abstained from a vote at the United Nations to
lift it.

A door has been cracked open. To push it completely open requires the
courage to reassess our true intentions and how best to achieve them.
The possibility now exists for artistic collaboration and cultural exchange.

To be sure, human rights abuses do continue in Cuba, most notably in the
constraint of freedom of expression. Though Cubans are freer to travel
outside the country, the state still restricts unfettered travel, even
within the island. And while the Castro regime defends its stumbling
economic reforms, opportunities for its citizens are limited to about
200 sanctioned nonstate jobs, which include, somewhat surreally, the
profession of clowning.

But when one strategy fails, it is only logical — and human — to explore
another. Both the Cuban exile community and Cubans on the island are
hungry for change, but part of that change must be to rethink our
demands of past decades.

One issue we must revisit is the idea of reparations for families like
mine that fled or were driven into exile. In Cuba, generations of
families have made their homes in the houses nationalized by the
revolutionary government when Cuban citizens fled the country. For many
born since the revolution, those are the only homes they have ever
known. Meanwhile, Cuban-Americans of my generation have been the
beneficiaries of the American dream; generally, we have achieved a much
higher quality of life than our counterparts on the island.

I am no political scientist, but I am a proud Cuban-American and
socially conscious theater artist who has lived in both worlds. Unlike
many hard-liners in the Cuban exile community, I have spent considerable
time in Cuba over the last 13 years, working closely with Cuban artists
who bravely voice their dissent against the regime.

I've seen how Cubans, from artists to taxi drivers, speak freely about
how the embargo is a prop for the state's denial of responsibility for
the hardships they face daily. If those who oppose changing United
States policy toward Cuba visited the island, they, too, would realize
this obvious truth. But many will not, on principle, return.

That is a mistake. Nothing is more threatening to a totalitarian regime
than the unfettered flow of information and ideas. By demanding that
Congress lift the trade embargo on Cuba, we can make more exchange
possible, especially for students and artists, to turn that flow into a
torrent. People in Cuba know that change is inevitable; and with the
death of Fidel Castro, they need us to act now more than ever.

Henry Godinez is a professor in the Department of Theater at
Northwestern University and the resident artistic associate at the
Goodman Theater.

Source: The Dream of a Free Cuba - The New York Times -

Fidel Castro’s Death Elicits Mixed Reactions in Cuba

Fidel Castro's Death Elicits Mixed Reactions in Cuba
Some expect little real change, others see a new chapter opening in
island nation's history
Juan Forero
Nov. 27, 2016 7:50 p.m. ET

HAVANA—Cubans have stumbled through a collective haze since Fidel Castro
died Friday night at age 90. Many have known him only as a grandfatherly
figure, excoriating the U.S. in occasional columns or being interviewed
on television by fawning admirers.

But one 36-year-old Cuban, a technology buff who says he has big dreams,
stressed on Sunday that Mr. Castro had created almost every aspect of
the country that affects him and his friends—from the state-controlled
companies and free health care to the continuing crackdown on free
expression. He said he expected an extra measure of repression now, as
has happened before when the government faces an uncertain moment.

"I don't think it's going to change; it'll be the same with Fidel or
without Fidel," he said of Mr. Castro, calling him by his first name, as
has long been custom with friend or foe of Cuba's revolution.

"The old people don't see it like the young. This system is diabolical,"
he added, speaking freely on a dilapidated street of the capital but
asking that his name not be used for fear he could get in trouble.

The death of the strongman, who led the island nation for 49 years from
the day his bearded rebels overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959 until
2008, doesn't mean the Communist regime that rules over 11 million
people will collapse. Mr. Castro's younger brother, Raúl, who is 85,
plans to rule until 2018. He tightly controls the military and
intelligence apparatus, keys to power.

But for another Cuban, Lisandra Funes, 25, the death of the elder
Castro—not unexpected for a man who was infirm and increasingly
frail—opens another chapter in this country's tumultuous history. Older
Cubans here, those who experienced what they consider golden years of
romantic revolution in the 1960s and '70s, shed tears and shuddered
about the future. They cherish a certain stability in this system, and
have long heard their leaders—Fidel Castro most prominently—tell them
they wouldn't have gotten elsewhere the health care and education they
received here.

But Ms. Funes, sitting in a public park and eyeing her cellphone, said
she wanted to see elections and a free press. "I'm awaiting change
because there hasn't been any," she said.

Little differentiated this Sunday from any other in Cuba's largest
cities. People strolled the streets on a mild fall day. But the
government and its supporters were preparing in coming days to mark the
life of the man known to people here as "el líder máximo," the maximum

Many stores were closed and liquor sales were banned across the island
in observance of the national mourning decreed by the Cuban government.
On Saturday, a concert of Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo in Havana was
canceled. The government has also suspended sporting events and police
officers have told people to keep their music down, said Félix Navarro,
a dissident in Cuba's Matanzas province.

After a mass homage in Havana's Revolution Square on Tuesday, the
remains of Cuba's revolutionary leader will be carried to the city of
Santiago de Cuba, evoking his revolutionary victories in the late 1950s
that began in the east of the island. Mr. Castro´s burial ceremony will
take place on Dec. 4 at that city's Santa Ifigenia cemetery, near the
mausoleum of Cuban patriot and martyr José Martí.

"There is surveillance everywhere, especially in front of the homes of
opposition members," Mr. Navarro said, adding that security officers
have been stationed outside homes of well-known activists, including his
own. Calls to Cuba's Interior Ministry weren't answered, and Cuban
government officials don't usually comment on security operations or

"There´s extreme silence, not even the noise of a can being kicked,"
said Kryster Álvarez, a 40-year-old art manager who lives in the city of
Cienfuegos, in central Cuba. "What you see on television is
overwhelming, images and documentaries about Fidel on a full-time basis."

The streets of Cienfuegos were deserted on Saturday night, Ms. Álvarez
said. On Sunday morning, some older pedestrians expressed sadness over
Mr. Castro´s death, "but younger generations were mostly indifferent,"
she added.

In Havana, it wasn't hard to find people who described feeling at a loss
at the news of Mr. Castro's death.

A 46-year-old cabdriver reeled off what he said were the bounties of the
revolution and called Mr. Castro "unique, totally unique." And he
repeated the often-quoted words of Mr. Castro: "Capitalism exploits,
exploits." But he acknowledged having never been abroad or having family
in the U.S., like many other Cubans.

In contrast, a group of younger Cubans, speaking freely near the
University of Havana, where Mr. Castro first became a public figure,
snickered and joked as they talked about his death.

When Cosmedulfo Prado, 24, paid tribute to Mr. Castro, his friends
laughed and yelled "Liar." He giggled, too.

He admitted liking the idea of going abroad to work or seeing things
change here. "Everyone would like to see things change," he said,
lowering his voice. "If prosperity comes here, it's welcome."

A companion, Alexei Rodríguez, 36, says he makes ends meet working for a
company that does interior design work here, but that he has other
dreams. Asked what kind of opportunities he would like, he said, "There
are so many I can't even begin to tell you."

Such opinions aren't the ones the state wants people to hear.

On Sunday, Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma published photos of
young people congregating at the promenade and staircases of the
university to voice their grief. Some of them carried signs with the
slogan: "Fidel is Cuba."

And even Mr. Castro's most determined opponents toned down their
criticism—if anything, because it just wasn't the right moment.

Berta Soler, the head of the Ladies in White dissident group in Cuba,
said her group suspended its weekly march on Sunday in Havana out of
concerns that the state would crack down on the activists more than
usual because it could be seen as a provocation following Mr. Castro's

"I'm not happy about the death of a human being, I'm not happy about the
death of a man," she said. "But I am happy for the death of a dictator.
The death of a dictator must be celebrated because he did things that
were very negative for the Cuban people."

—Santiago Pérez and Ryan Dube contributed to this article.

Source: Fidel Castro's Death Elicits Mixed Reactions in Cuba - WSJ -

Trump says Cuba has to act or he'll end the diplomatic thaw, but it's not that simple

Trump says Cuba has to act or he'll end the diplomatic thaw, but it's
not that simple
Tracy Wilkinson

In his latest comment on Cuba since the death of revolutionary leader
Fidel Castro, President-elect Donald Trump said Monday he would end
Washington's diplomatic thaw with the island unless Cuba makes "a better

"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the
Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,"
Trump tweeted.

President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro renewed diplomatic ties
in 2014 after a half-century of Cold War hostility. Since then, through
a series of executive orders, Obama has eased restrictions on Americans
traveling to Cuba and U.S. firms doing business there.

Castro, at the same time, has made it easier for Cubans to travel and to
engage in limited private enterprise.

However, Castro has not enacted significant political reforms, and the
death Friday of his brother, former president and leader of the
revolution Fidel, at age 90, is not likely to usher in quick change.

It was not clear what Trump meant by a "better deal." An email seeking
clarification from his transition team was not answered.

Previously, however, Trump has spoken of the release of political
prisoners and more open space for free expression of opinions and
dissent. These are the same elements the Obama administration has been
demanding, while choosing not to delay economic progress while awaiting
political change.

From a legal standpoint, Trump could easily reverse Obama's executive
orders with little more than a signature. Politically, however, renewed
estrangement would be more complicated and would isolate the U.S. as the
only country in the world that does not recognize the Communist-led
government in Havana.
Trump and his top aides have sent conflicting signals over his likely
Cuba policy.

On Saturday, his staff put out a statement saying a Trump administration
would "do all it can" to help Cubans achieve prosperity and liberty. But
it did not mention reversing Obama's actions expanding ties.

"While Cuba remains a totalitarian island," Trump said, "it is my hope
that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and
toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the
freedom they so richly deserve."

Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday
that "nothing is definite" when it comes to Cuba. But Trump's soon-to-be
White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said that Trump would be
looking for "some movement in the right direction" to keep the Cuba
opening on course.

Conservative Republicans, like Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, oppose
detente with Cuba as long as any Castro continues to rule. But a growing
number of Cuban Americans, as well as most Democrats and a substantial
segment of the business community, want better ties and opportunities
for economic exchange.

Source: Trump says Cuba has to act or he'll end the diplomatic thaw, but
it's not that simple - LA Times -

Fear, Dry Law and Funerals

Fear, Dry Law and Funerals / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 28 November 2016 — The always busy corner of
Infanta and Carlos III was a desolate wasteland Sunday. Since the death
of Fidel Castro was announced, Havanans have gathered at home. The
official media say that it is from pain, but fear is the protagonist of
days in which the sale of alcoholic beverages has been prohibited and
the biggest funerals in contemporary Cuba are arranged.

Foreign journalists are arriving in the country by the hundreds and are
seen in the streets trying to interview every passerby. Many pedestrians
look down and refuse to give interviews. When the reporters finally
manage to get some statements, they are only from those who agree with
the official discourse. Inside people's homes everything is different.

"Luckily we had a bottle of rum left over from a party," says Chicho, a
retired teacher who has waited decades for this moment. "It is not that
we're celebrating the death of a human being, because this man made us
all believe that he was not one… that he was above life and death," he
tells 14ymedio.

Chicho has a nine-year-old granddaughter who will go to school early
this Monday, although there are doubts about how the week will go in
schools and workplaces, in the midst of the national mourning that has
been decreed for nine days. "I'm sure that they aren't going to teach
classes, there is going to be one event and another until the day the
ashes reach the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery," says the grandfather.

For Mileidis, a resident of Havana's Regla neighborhood, there is
another concern. "My brother is a son of Changó," (an orisha of the
Afro-Cuban religion who is the equivalent of Saint Barbara). The
celebration of the saint is held every December 4, the same day the
national mourning concludes. "I don't know how we are going to get the
brandy and rum," the young woman worries.

The festivities on the eve of Saint Barbara are very popular on the
island, fueled by drumbeats, Yoruba songs and a great deal of alcohol.
With the sale of alcohol prohibited, many Santería rights are in danger
of collapse. Distilled alcohol has doubled in price in barely three days
of the "dry law."

A well-known bar on Reina Street is deserted and the drinks list has
been put away. Nearby, in El Curita park, three regulars of the place
get together on a corner and pass a plastic container that looks like it
contains cola. In reality it is distilled alcohol, better known as
"train sparks" for the effects it occasions in the stomach when ingested.

Police patrol cars and uniformed officers approach, and the three men
hide the bottle. "This is my thing, I can't live without it," says one
of the men, justifying his transgression. "What fault is it of mine that
He can no longer take a drink?" he reflects, slurring his words.

Posters with the face of Fidel Castro are everywhere. Since the
celebration of his 90th birthday in August, the tone of the personality
cult has noticeably risen, such that Cubans seem to be used to Fidelmania.

"Will they change the bust of José Martí in the schools for one of
Fidel?" a seven-year-old girl asks her mother. In the street, Havana
residents speculate about the anticipated tributes to Castro and expect
the establishment of an official order in his honor, his face on a
banknote, a multi-story iron relief with his silhouette in the Plaza of
the Revolution — like the ones for Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos –
some street with his name, and a museum in his memory in the heart of
the city.

The most daring even predict a change in the only political organization
allowed in the country. "It's a good moment to shake off the communist
label," an official academic who asked for anonymity told this
newspaper. "It's possible that at the next plenary session of the Cuban
Communist Party or at an extraordinary congress they will re-baptize it
the Fidelista Party.

In tune with popular predictions, the illegal lottery, known as la
bolita, has seen an increase in bets on the numbers that mean 'police,'
'great death,' and 'horse,' the later for Fidel Castro's nickname, "El

Source: Fear, Dry Law and Funerals / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata –
Translating Cuba -

Long Lines In the Plaza Of The Revolution To Say Goodbye To Fidel Castro

Long Lines In the Plaza Of The Revolution To Say Goodbye To Fidel Castro
/ 14ymedio

14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 28 November 2016 — The memorial to José Martí in
the Plaza of the Revolution opened its doors on Monday so that Cubans
could say goodbye to former president Fidel Castro, who died on the
25th, and whose ashes have been installed in this emblematic place in
Havana where they will remain for two days. People arriving in groups
from their workplaces, and schools are assigned gathering points near to
the Plaza.

Hundreds of people lined up from the early hours waiting for 9:00 in the
morning (14:00 GMT) to render tribute to the Cuban leader in the same
iconic scene where he delivered the greater part of his long harangues.
The authorities asked people to come dressed in red, blue or white,
without caps or hats. Some brought gladioli, others roses.

At the same hour that the tribute commenced there were, simultaneously
in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, 21 gun salutes in homage to the
Commander in Chief of the Revolution, who died at 90 years of age, after
a decade removed from power because of health problems.

In the Plaza of the Revolution three different entry points have been
set up to expedite people's access, to three tributes, exactly alike, in
none of which the presence of the ashes can be observed with the naked
eye. All these points are presided over by a large photograph of Fidel
Castro, in which he is seen in full body view looking at the horizon and
wearing his iconic olive green uniform.

There are also two wreaths, one from the Communist Party of Cuba and one
on behalf of the Cuban people, as well as an exhibit with the major
awards Fidel Castro received in life.

Flanking these quasi-altars is a bodyguard of members of the Ceremonies
Battalion of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and representatives from the
Council of State, among whom are the Comptroller General of the
Republic, Gladys Bejerana, the Minister of Transport, Adel Yzquierdo,
and the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Homero Acosta.

Currently Cuban President Raul Castro is not present at the memorial,
nor are other family members of the deceased leader such as his wife,
Dalie Soto de Valle, or his sons.

People file past smoothly: there are women throwing kisses, many drying
their tears with handkerchiefs, and some who cannot help sobbing, which
resonates above the whispers and the sounds of cameras, in the solemn
atmosphere that prevails.

"I have come to due to patriotic and revolutionary duty, in hone or our
commander in chief, who died as an undefeated comandante," said Jesus,
an 85-year-old man who engaged in the clandestine struggle before the
Revolution in Ciego de Avila.

Also reluctant to say goodbye to the comandante were high school
students such as Idolaris, 16, who while waiting in the long ling to
enter the memorial felt "tremendous pain" for having lost a leader of
his magnitude, although "his memory is always present."

"There is a lot of sadness here. We are all very upset by the death of
our comandante because we all love him from the bottom of our hearts,
without hypocrisy," Felix Jardines, a 58-year-old lawyer told EFE, while
waiting in line to enter the tribute.

Although Cuba has experienced two days of mourning of the nine decreed
by the government, this event marks the beginning of a week of funeral
rites that will culminate this coming Sunday with the interment of Fidel
Castro's mortal remains in Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.
The residents of Havana will have until tomorrow to pay tribute to
Castro in this plaza where, at 7:00 PM, there will a massive act of
farewell, attended by leaders and personalities.

Source: Long Lines In the Plaza Of The Revolution To Say Goodbye To
Fidel Castro / 14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches

Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches / Mario Lleonart

Mario Lleonart, 27 November 2016 — What is happening to the poor people
of the island – as the also deceased former president of El Salvador,
Salvador Flores, might have once told Fidel Castro to his face — is
utterly intolerable. It is as though the authorities want to impose,
almost by decree, a period of mourning that very few Cubans want to
observe. They have already had to endure so much suffering during the
lifetime of the deceased. And to top it off, they are now expected to
endure public expressions of grief when it is more likely, judging from
history, that they have more than enough reasons to celebrate, as their
brothers and sisters in Miami have been doing in an atmosphere of
freedom. That is what multitudes of people on the island would really
like to be doing.

It is not just that alcohol sales have been suspended during the period
of national mourning, presumably in an effort to make sure no one who
has had a few too many dares to give full reign to his repressed
desires. Popular festivities such as the celebration in the town of
Taguayabon have also been cancelled, an action which led its residents
to express their displeasure. It is not as though the tyrant had not
already disappeared from their lives back in 2006 when he transferred
power to Raul.

In the realm of religion, what is happening far and wide throughout of
the island today is unprecedented, making what those of faith had to
endure from the early 1960s until the present seem small by comparison.
Many churches are self-censoring, foregoing the routine use of music in
religious services out of fear. Congregations which have not done this
"voluntarily" are receiving official reprimands of one sort or another.

Several pastors related stories like the one below, though I prefer not
to reveal their identities out of concerns for their safety:

Things remain complicated here, my friend. Today, I received news that
many churches have suspended adoration and prayer services and that
others are singing without accompaniment out of "respect for national
mourning." Just as Daniel prayed three times a day with the window open
in the manner to which he was accustomed,* so we celebrate our Sundays
as usual, though we now only use a piano and play it softly so as not to
seem disrepectful of those who "feel the loss."

The president of the local Ministry of Justice and one of her officials
showed up between Sunday school and Mass, asking to speak to me. They
told me that they were bringing me orders to cancel Mass that day and
suspend all other services we had scheduled through December 9 because
of the country is in mourning. Can you imagine? You know what I told her?"

"You can go fetch the police or anyone else you want but I am not going
to suspend any masses and we are not going to stop singing. We sing and
hold adorations even when one of our own dies. That does not show a lack
of respect. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is
God's. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass."

We talked a bit more, they softened their tone and she finally said,
"Well, at least tone it down."

I quickly told the everyone in the church about it (some 200 of us). I
told them my response and added that, if anyone wanted to leave Mass,
they could go home. Everyone replied "Amen" to everything I said and no
be to God!!! Keep praying for us. Blessings and hugs.

*Translators note: A reference to the biblical passage, Daniel 6:10.
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went
home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.
Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to
his God, just as he had done before."

Source: Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches / Mario
Lleonart – Translating Cuba -

The Myth Died, Cuba Must Change

The Myth Died, Cuba Must Change / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 27 November 2016 — Fidel Castro has
died. The mythic figure has died. The event will be discussed for a long
time and from many points of view. Nine days of mourning has been
decreed in Havana, the flag is at half mast; in Miami they are partying,
the same Cuban flag held high.

The Fidelistas mourn, the anti-Fidelistas party. The vast majority of
the island's population, eager for changes, are waiting. It could not be
any other way. Since the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, Fidel
Castro's imprint on Cuba shapes our days. The government is ready to
maintain total control over the streets. Its mass organizations are
mobilized to prevent and counteract any demonstrations against him.

But like the myth, his charisma and his influence are not inherited. We
can affirm that a political cycle in Cuba has ended: the eclectic sum of
conceptions that make up Fidelism, populism, authoritarianism,
neo-Stalinism, statism and bureaucratism, just received a mortal blow. A
stage of inevitable changes opens.

Raul Castro, since he assumed power in 2006, promised to undertake
important reforms, replaced many officials, and began dictatorially
implementing a set of measures that he consolidated and expanded in both
Cuban Communist Party Congresses held since then, but without
establishing a legal framework that guarantees them.

During these years, the bureaucracy, laws, regulations and customs of
Fidelism, established over almost 60 years, have prevented such reforms
from being fully deployed.

Raul Castro now has the opportunity to demonstrate whether his reformist
proposals are real or were just a deliberate attempt to counter the
resistance within the system and seek international recognition and funding.

Cuba's economic situation requires that the changes set forth by Raul be
deepened and expanded, that all state monopolistic barriers to domestic
and foreign markets for capital investment, enterprise development and
productive initiatives of all kinds be broken.

However, it does imply that the Fidelistas abandon their positions in
the government and the Party and that many regulations and customs of
traditional statism be removed. This will be very difficult if, in
parallel, there is no democratization process that permits deep
criticism of the Fidel regime, the adoption of new forms of organization
in the economy and politics, and the emergence and development of new
entrepreneurs and unprejudiced leaders at all levels the society.

Cuba is facing inevitable changes. The death of the mythic figure favors
them. The Cuban people also demand them. Everyone, those inside and
those outside, regardless of their political ideas, must have the right
to participate in the reconstruction of the nation. Achieving it more or
less peacefully will depend on those who still hold power in Cuba.

It is time to assume, with decency, José Martí's homeland: With all and
for the good of all.

Source: The Myth Died, Cuba Must Change / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos –
Translating Cuba -

Fidel Castro Dies for Real

Fidel Castro Dies for Real / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 26 November 2016 — At midnight no one was talking about the
biggest news story of the year along crowded Tenth of October Avenue. A
group of drunks was downing white rum from little cardboard cartons,
cheap hookers were plying their trade in a tiny park in Santa Catalina,
and four transvestites in high heels were on the hunt for clients right
across from La Vibora's Red Square.

Ten minutes after a shaken Raúl Castro announced the death of his
brother Fidel on state television, the event had barely registered in
the darkened streets of Tenth of October, one of the island's most
densely populated areas.

No extra police were seen being deployed. Dozens of young people were
climbing up steep Patrocinio Street to El Túnel nightclub next to the
Los Chivos Park, intent on dancing to reggaetón music and drinking
Cristal beer.

Two bored employees at a state-run coffeehouse near the old La Víbora
bus stop were talking about the the latest soap opera. People first
heard the news only when asked about it.

The reaction was low-key, without any drama: "Is Fidel really dead? He
has been killed off so many times before." And the responses from those
who had already heard the news were along the lines of "He's had a long
life" and "We all have to die sometime."

Eduardo, a driver on the P-10 bus from Vibora to Playa de Marianao does
not believe things will change much after the death of Fidel Castro.
"The government has everything locked up. There may be some economic
changes but, as usual, ordinary people like us won't see them. It's not
just Fidel Castro that is the problem; it's his cronies in the ruling
class who don't want to open things up so Cubans can make some money."

Sometime after eight o'clock on Saturday morning, November 26, a number
of people are standing on the corner Acosta and Tenth of October,
speculating about what Castro's death might mean for the future.

Lidice, who sells pirated DVDs, believes that, "with Fidel's death, Raul
can lay one era to rest. This gives him free reign to carry out real
economic reform, not the band-aid solutions he has been using.
Otherwise, the country is going to fall apart. If he wants to hold onto
power, he has to let private businesses prosper."

Diego, an information technology worker, is more cautious. "It would be
easy to say that everything bad in Cuba is because of Fidel. The problem
now is with the system, which is worn out, and the gang of corrupt
officials who live off it. Castroism is not going to die with Fidel. The
best option is to head for Miami, Madrid or Canada. It doesn't matter
where. The main thing is to leave here before it all goes to hell," he says.

Denise, who has a degree in history, worries about the future after the
death of Castro I. "After the funeral services are over, after the
televsion channels have aired all their old footage extolling Fidel,
then we will ask ourselves what will happen in Cuba. The country will
not put up with any more lies. People want change that will affect their
daily lives. Fidel was a guy with an outsize personality. His death has
left a huge leadership vacuum. Have you noticed that the current leaders
don't have a political message to sell? They don't express themselves
well and don't even know how to laugh. The worst thing that can happen
to a politician is to not be able to offer his constituents any ideas,"
she observes.

Julio Aleaga — head of the opposition group Candidates for Change, which
advocates nominating dissidents for the few public offices open to
citizen participation — believes that "the death of Fidel Castro, a very
negative figure, can be the catalyst for profound change. The
conservative wing of the ruling party has lost a powerful symbol. And
over the medium term change is unstoppable."

The death of Fidel Castro has come as a blow to the dissident community,
which is clearly feeling disoriented. Without a popular base of support
and unable to summon more than a hundred people for a public march,
Victor Manuel Domínguez, a journalist and freelance writer, feels that
there may be tough times ahead for the opposition.

"The current situation is frightening. Venezuela, the teat providing us
with petroleum, is experiencing a ferocious economic, political and
social crisis. Chavismo has an expiration date. Cuba lives in almost
perpetual economic crisis and with a system that is a failure. The
looming demographic time bomb, with a third of the population over
sixty, is troubling. Emigration has led to the exodus of a quarter of a
million Cubans over the last four years and the figure is likely to
double. And now we have the election of someone as unpredictable as
Donald Trump in the United States. The regime has already used up all
its political time. It did not take advantage of the outreach from
Barack Obama. Either Raul Castro takes on profound economic reform or
the country collapses," predicts the journalist.

Domínguez also believes repression will increase. "The regime has lost
its greatest symbol. I believe that the physical attacks on opponents at
the barricades will worsen. They're going to play hardball."

So begins a waiting period to see if the physical absence of Fidel
Castro will lead to major reforms or will provoke greater retrenchment
by the most conservative wing of the military dictatorship. But that is
a story yet to be told.

Photo: On December 15, ten days before his death, Fidel Castro met with
Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang (third from left) and a Vietnamese
delegation. The woman behind Castro is his wife, Dalia Soto del Valle.
The photo was arranged by Castro's son Alex and his personal
photographer, and is probably one of the last public images of the
elderly leader.

From El Nuevo Herald

Source: Fidel Castro Dies for Real / Iván García – Translating Cuba -

Graffiti Artist ‘El Sexto’ Still Under Arrest, Mother Says

Graffiti Artist 'El Sexto' Still Under Arrest, Mother Says / 14ymedio

14ymedio, 27 November 2016 — The Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado,
known as "El Sexto" (The Sixth), remains under arrest, according to a
report from his mother, Maria Victoria Machado, to14ymedio.

Maldonado was arrested on Saturday and taken to the police unit at 51st
and 240th Streets after painting graffiti on a wall of the Habana Libre
hotel. He wrote the words "he left" to refer to the death of Fidel
Castro, which occurred a few hours earlier.

When relatives tried to contact the artist they were notified by the
officials in command that he was not at the police unit, which was
immediately disproved by El Sexto who shouted from inside the station,
"Down with Fidel Castro, down with Raul."

Maldonado's mother, Maria Victoria Machado, said Sunday afternoon, "They
closed 51st Street to take him out of the station and now we know
nothing about his whereabouts," but several hours later she learned that
he was at "[Station] 14 of Guanabacoa."

The officials informed his relatives that, although they will not be
allowed to see him, they would be able to send him medications and

El Sexto was arrested on Christmas Eve of 2014, when he planned to stage
a performance art piece with two pigs that were painted with the names
of Fidel and Raul.

He was arrested when he took the two pigs in a vehicle and spent ten
months in Valle Grand Prison without trial.

The officers informed their relatives, but will not let you see it, yes
they will send medicines and grooming.

The Sixth had been arrested Christmas Eve 2014, when he intended to make
a performance with two pigs bearing the names of Fidel and Raul painted
in the body.

He was arrested when carrying pigs in a vehicle and spent ten months in
Valle Grande prison without trial.

Source: Graffiti Artist 'El Sexto' Still Under Arrest, Mother Says /
14ymedio – Translating Cuba -

The Ancient Dictator Died Long Ago

The Ancient Dictator Died Long Ago / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 26 November 2016 — The official media
have just announced the last and definitive death of Fidel Castro, and I
think I have perceived more relief than bereavement in the mournful
message. If I were a religious person, I would feel at least a tiny bit
of grief, but that is not the case. Definitely, pity toward despots is
not among my few virtues. And, as I have always preferred cynicism over
hypocrisy, I am convinced that the world will be a better place without him.

At any rate, to me, the old dictator had died a long time ago, at an
unspecified date, buried under some dusty headstone, without epitaph in
the deepest recesses of my memory, so I can only be curious about what
this expected (exasperated) outcome might mean for those who have kept
their destinies tied to every spasm of his many deaths.

Nevertheless, just because I had given him an early funeral doesn't mean
that his irreversible departure from this world is not a momentous
event. The image of the defeated specter he had become will now
disappear, and his passing will also cease to gravitate over the
superstitious temperament of the nation as an unavoidable doom. We will
finally find out whether the prophecy Cuba will really change after
Fidel dies is true or false, because it seems that, for almost all
Cubans, waiting for changes that result from nature's course is easier
than taking the risk to do it themselves. Peoples who feel ashamed of
their fates often blame their rulers for their own collective

There are also the superstitions, a nice wild card for the national
lethargy. There are too many people that believe in some god, in a sense
of fatality, in the tarot, in the zodiac signs, in the I Ching, in the
Tablet of Ifá or other prophecies of the most varied kind. I have never
believed in any of them, perhaps because accepting the mysteries of
these predestinations as true would have made me feel I was cursed just
for having been born in Cuba in 1959. Far from it, such an adverse
coincidence became the challenge that I accepted gladly, so I never
experienced the deep feelings of frustration that oppress several
generations of Cubans, choked under the effects of the power of a sort
of superhuman entity that seemed to sum up all creeds in it and that
intervened in every destiny. An impostor, in short, pretending to be
god, oracle and mantra all at once.

Nevertheless, all my memories are intact. They have survived every
cataclysm in good health. How could I go back on them if our spirit is
pure memory? I reminisce without love, without resentment, without
bitterness and without regrets, as if I were observing, in an old movie,
my own story which is the same for millions of Cubans like me. There are
even some chapters I find amusing. How could we have once been so naïve?
How did our parents and grandparents allow us to be manipulated in such
an atrocious way? It was because of fear. Fidel Castro's true power was
never the love of Cubans, but the unspeakable fear they felt toward him,
an irrational and irate leader, and an individual whose limitless
egomania could only be matched by his inability to feel empathy.
Sometimes fidelity is only a resource for survival.

Looking back on the first 20 years of my life, I remember Fidel Castro
as a sort of omnipresent magma that invaded every space of public and
private life. He seemed to have the gift of ubiquity and to appear
everywhere at once. My earliest memories of childhood are invariably
associated with that image of the bearded man who never smiled, dressed
in a military uniform, whose portrait could be found anywhere, whether
on the wall of a building, on a fence, on the covers of magazines,
newspapers, or in a carefully framed picture in the halls of
revolutionary Cubans, who were a majority back then.

That same man very often appeared on the screen of my grandmother's
television (in my mind, I thought he lived inside that device), or he
invaded every home from the radio stations, thundering and fierce,
making long threatening and scolding speeches, loaded with harangues. He
was always irritated, so I was a little afraid of him and tried – with
little or no success – to stay away from his vibrations. My elders
swelled with ecstasy and even cried out, excited about the false
prophet's this or that bravado. "It's El Caballo!* that's how it's
done!" The admirers of the new hard man would bellow, drunk with a
fervor that I did not understand but which, over time, succeeded in
infecting me.

In any case, "Fidel" was one of the first words uttered by the children
of thousands of families which, like mine, had discovered that on the
dawn of January 1, 1959 they were suddenly revolutionaries. And thus,
also suddenly, in a nation traditionally Catholic, quite a few
proclaimed themselves as atheists and renounced God only to accept a new
faith, Fidel Castro as savior, and communist dogma as catechism.

Meanwhile, countless families were fractured by political polarization
and emigration. Parents and children, siblings, uncles, cousins who had
always lived in harmony, clashed, became filled with grudges and
distanced themselves from one another. There were those who never spoke
to each other again, and died without the embrace of reconciliation.
Many survivors of this telluric rupture are still picking up the pieces
and trying to recreate some parts of our battered lineages, at least out
of respect and homage to our estranged departed family members, all
because of an alien hatred.

Then came the militias, the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, the
compulsory military service, the rationing card, the monumental
harvests, the Revolutionary Offensive, Angola, the in-field schools and
the schools in the countryside, and the permanent consecration of
endless delusions of the Great Egomaniac. And with the passage of time,
the signals of the ruin we insisted on ignoring began to arrive.

The increasing shortages were silenced with slogans and with gigantic
plans doomed for failure, all freedoms were buried and rights
disappeared, sacrificed on the olive green altar under the weight of
once sacred words and now debased by speeches ("homeland," the most
tainted; "liberty," the most fraudulent), while – unnoticed and blind –
we Cubans ourselves helped to build the bars of our prison and, docile,
left the keys in the hands of the jailer.

The first great schism between the lunatic orator and me were the events
at the Peruvian embassy, and especially the Mariel stampede, between
April and May, 1980. They were not, however, isolated events. The first
conversations (they are often referred to as approaches) had taken place
in 1978 between the dictatorship and a group of emigres living in the
United States, which resulted in the opening of family visits in 1979,
although only in one direction: from Miami to Cuba.

Suddenly, the stateless-wormy-counterrevolutionaries were not that, but
"our brothers from the Cuban community abroad," who had been able to
preserve their original cultural values and their own language in
foreign lands, and who were being offered the right to visit their
country of origin and reunite with their families. Now they happily
arrived, weighed down with gifts for the beggars who had chosen a
revolution that proclaimed poverty as a virtue. Naïve or not, many of us
felt the manipulation and discovered that we had been scammed, and
although one does not wake up at the first bell after a long and deep
lethargy, we began to live on alert and to question the system.

Then, without expecting it, the New Man, forged under the principles of
that celebrated whore called Revolution, witnessed in surprise the
spectacle of the hordes gathered at the Peruvian diplomatic headquarters
and the mass flight through the port of Mariel. And we were perplexed by
the thousands of deserters and horrified by the repudiation rallies, the
beatings, vexations and insults towards those who were emigrating and
the impunity at the barbarism that was only possible because it had been
instigated and blessed from the power.

By then I was sporting my new motherhood, and before every fearful scene
I would cling to tenderness for my son. I think it was then that I began
to definitively tear all the dense veils of the lie I had lived for 20
years and became obsessed with the search for the truth in which I would
bring up my children: freedom as a gift that we carry inside, which
nobody grants, which is born with the being. So ended Fidel Castro's
leadership of me, dragging in his fall any possibility of future
glitches in my spirit. The dissident, living in silence within me,
emerged that year, and the paradigmatic leader of my adolescence began
to transmute into an enemy.

That is why the difficult events and the Fidel battles that followed my
conversion did not make a mark: the Ochoa case, the associated
executions, the Special Period resulting from the collapse of real
socialism, the Maleconazo, the Balseros Crisis, the rescued child rafter
Elián, the Open Tribunes, the Roundtables, the Five Spies, the Black
Spring, the Battle of Ideas, the Energy Revolution and so much nonsense
that resulted in swelling the ranks of the discontented and the
disenchanted, widening the rift between the power and millions of Cubans.

My feelings for Fidel Castro went through several stages. It could not
be any other way, since I was born in 1959, since I grew up in a family
of Fidel fans and since I've spent my whole life in Cuba. The feelings
his existence infused in me were fear, admiration, respect, devotion,
doubt, disbelief, resentment, contempt, and, finally, the most absolute

News of his death, then, does not stir emotions. A friend recently
wisely told me that Fidel Castro was not cause, but consequence. It
seems to me an accurate sentence to summarize the history and
idiosyncrasy of the Cuban nation. Because we Cubans are not (we have
never been) the result of Fidel's existence, but the reverse: the
existence of a Fidel was possible only thanks to Cubans, beyond
political or ideological tendencies, beyond our sympathy or resentment.
Without all of us the power of his long dictatorship would not have been

That is why I take this, the occasion of his ultimate death, to
sincerely make a toast, not to his memory, but to ours. May our memory
never falter, so that we do not forget these decades of shame, so that
no more Fidels are repeated on this earth! And I also offer, with all my
hope, to celebrate the opportunity that this happy death unlocks to the
new life that all Cubans will finally build in peace and harmony.

*The Horse: Fidel Castro's nickname among Cubans

Translated by Ernesto Ariel Suarez and Norma Whiting

Source: The Ancient Dictator Died Long Ago / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba -

Period of National Mourning, or Curfew?

Period of National Mourning, or Curfew? / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 27 November 2016 — On Saturday 26 November of this year,
my telephone rang at almost 2 in the morning. I picked it up with
trepidation because normally at that hour one expects to hear bad news.
The reality, however, was different: a friend was calling to inform me
of Fidel's death. I was relieved because, what with my family being out
of Cuba, I had expected the worst.

The news did not stir any kind of feelings in me, neither pity nor joy.
It was something that had been expected and that many of us wished would
just be over.

What did surprise me was that Raúl so quickly made the event public
knowledge. We had always thought that this would be something that would
be kept hidden from us for a while and that we would find it out from
relatives and friends outside the country. But the social networks and
the immediate impact they cause made the current president react this way.

They have decreed a national mourning period of nine days, which in my
opinion is rather exaggerated. They say it is so that everyone can say
goodbye and pay their respects before his ashes. I am convinced that the
majority of those who will go to do so will not go spontaneously, but
rather will be transported by the Young Communists Union, the
University, the Cuban Workers Center, the Federation of Cuban Women, the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and all the rest of the
governmental mass organizations of which the country boasts (and which
are under the direction of the government, even though it publicly
declares that they are not, which is totally false).

The state-run television has all the channels lined up with programs
broadcasting only images of the deceased, extolling the personality of a
leader who died in full decline. Only his "successful" episodes are
shown. There is not a single children's program on the air, being that
children, too, are obliged to observe an enforced mourning period.

They have prohibited all public and cultural spectacles. The greatly
advertised and one-time-only concert by the Spanish tenor Plácido
Domingo, who traveled to our country with 500 guests, has been
suspended–which for him must have been "disconcerting." Also, the sale
of alcoholic beverages has been prohibited in state-run and private
restaurants, as well as in all the stores throughout the country.

I have learned that they are visiting establishments that rent out
private rooms, to investigate whether any journalists are among the guests.

The city is practically deserted at night. Is this, really, a period of
mourning, or a curfew? You decide.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Period of National Mourning, or Curfew? / Rebeca Monzo –
Translating Cuba -

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump pledges to ‘terminate’ opening to Cuba absent ‘better deal’

Trump pledges to 'terminate' opening to Cuba absent 'better deal'

President-elect Donald Trump took it upon himself Monday to put
political pressure on the Cuban government to deal with his incoming
administration following Fidel Castro's death.

"If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the
Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,"
Trump posted on Twitter, his preferred medium of communication in the
weeks following his election.

His tweet came a day after top transition advisers signaled Trump
intends to keep the hardline position on Cuba he adopted late in his
presidential campaign. The message to Cuba: Do more to reciprocate the
opening offered by President Barack Obama, or pay the price when the
White House is under new management beginning Jan. 20.

"Clearly, Cuba is a very complex topic, and the president-elect is aware
of the nuances and complexities regarding the challenges that the island
and the Cuban people face," Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters

He declined to say how much of a priority Cuba will be for the new
administration, given Castro's death.

"This has been an important issue, and it will continue to be one,"
Miller said. "Our priorities are the release of political prisoners,
return of fugitives from American law, and also political and religious
freedoms for all Cubans living in oppression."

Whether Trump would really maintain that stance had been in question
because, as a celebrity real-estate developer, Trump appeared keen on
doing business in Cuba. His organization sent executives to Cuba as late
as 2013 to explore building a golf course on the island, in spite of the
U.S. trade embargo that prohibits such investments.

As a candidate, Trump insisted he never followed through on any
proposals to work in Cuba. During the campaign, Newsweek revealed Trump
paid a consultant to check out potential opportunities in Cuba on his
organization's behalf in 1998.

Trump, who hasn't given a news conference in five months, has yet to
detail any Cuba specifics. He told the Miami Herald in August that he
wasn't prepared to weigh in on policies such as "wet-foot, dry-foot,"
which allows Cubans who reach U.S. land to stay. He said only that he'd
reject any effort by Cuba to seek reparations against the U.S. for
losses the island might claim from the embargo.


Source: Trump says he may 'terminate' opening to Cuba | Miami Herald -

CUBA-ticker fund soars after Fidel Castro's passing

CUBA-ticker fund soars after Fidel Castro's passing
By Tomi Kilgore
Published: Nov 28, 2016 8:34 a.m. ET

Shares of the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund Inc. CUBA, +12.07% soared
18% toward an eight-month high in active premarket trade Monday, in the
aftermath of Fidel Castro's death over the weekend. Volume of about
167,000 shares ahead of the open was already six times the full-day
average. The fund (CUBA) invests in issuers likely to benefit from
economic and political progress in the Caribbean Basin, including Cuba.
"At such time as it becomes legally permissible for U.S. entities to
invest directly in Cuba, the fund will consider such investments,"
according to the fund's prospectus. The fund's holding as of June 30
included shares of Mastec Inc. MTZ, +0.00% Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
RCL, +0.52% Carnival Corp. CCL, -0.80% Nextera Energy Inc. NEE, +1.18%
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH, +1.50% and Copa Holdings S.A.
CPA, +0.07% CUBA has lost 3.6% year to date through Friday, while the
S&P 500 SPX, +0.39% has gained 8.3%.

Source: CUBA-ticker fund soars after Fidel Castro's passing -
MarketWatch -

Despite Fidel Castro's death, few expect rapid political changes in Cuba

Despite Fidel Castro's death, few expect rapid political changes in Cuba
Tracy Wilkinson, Patrick J. McDonnell and Cecilia Sanche

For Amalia Cortes, a loyal member of Cuba's "revolutionary" generation,
there is no question that Fidel Castro helped transform the country for
the better.

"Of course I will be in the Plaza de la Revolución to say goodbye to
our comandante," said Cortes, 69, referring to the homage planned this
week in a signature Havana square for the late Cuban leader. "We have to
thank him for so much — thanks to him we have food, there is education,
our comandante fought for his people and we have much to be grateful for."

But for others, especially younger Cubans, it was long past time to look
beyond Papa Fidel and the revolution's accomplishments in arenas such as
education and healthcare.

"We have to be objective," said Maria, a medical student, seated in
Revolution Square. "Fidel did a lot of good things.... But at the same
time what good does it do if there are no jobs, no opportunities for

"I believe that Fidel did good and bad things and we have to be fair
about it," added Maria, who, like others even mildly critical of the
government, asked that her last name not be used.

The normally buoyant capital has been a notably subdued place since
Castro's death was announced Friday. Tourists grumble about the lack of
music and life in the bars and cafes as the country begins an official,
nine-day mourning period. There were no posters mourning Castro evident
on Sunday, but Cuban flags and banners reading "Viva la Revolución"
adorned public buildings.

For decades, Cuban Americans have longed to return to a post-Castro
Cuba. But now that Fidel is dead, many aren't so eager to go
Cubans of all ages and economic backgrounds took time to reflect on the
Castro era, which spanned several generations and lasted through
momentous world events, including the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of
Pigs invasion and the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba's longtime benefactor.

Among young people, there seemed to be a sense of hope that Castro's
passing would signal a more open era, with enhanced individual freedom
and opportunities for employment. Many voiced a sense of isolation,
though some conceded that things had improved under President Raul
Castro, Fidel's younger brother, to whom an ailing Fidel had ceded power.

"I wish there were more liberties, that we could leave Cuba easier,
visit other countries," said Everardo, 18, who did not want his last
name used. "Fidel was always against that."

Carlos Montero, 18, acknowledged that society had opened up in recent
years, but complained that access to the Internet was limited and costly.

"The Internet should be free in the schools, like it is in the rest of
the world," Montero said, adding that his parents didn't even know what
the Internet was. "But here, that's a dream.… Still, things have gotten
a little better with Raul."

In his final years, Fidel Castro probably had little concrete influence
over his brother, who formally took over in 2008. Fidel's death may now
give a symbolic and psychological freedom to Raul to act as he sees fit.

But it is unlikely that Fidel's death augers a fundamental change,
despite the heralding of a "new era" in some quarters.

Already, Raul Castro had ordered significant reforms to the Cuban
economy and loosened restrictions on citizens seeking to travel abroad —
changes long resisted by Fidel.

Raul, 85, who has said he will step down in 2018, has allowed a measure
of private enterprise, enabling individual citizens to open small-scale
businesses, such as restaurants, beauty salons, spas and car washes.

And Cuba's relationship with the Castro brothers' historic adversary,
the United States, has been transformed.

In December 2014, Raul Castro and President Obama announced that their
countries were renewing diplomatic ties after a half-century of Cold War
animosity. Though Washington's trade embargo against Cuba remained in
place, the new joint initiative spurred fresh economic exchanges
involving various sectors, including airlines, banks, hotels and

But Obama — and, now, President-elect Donald Trump — continued to call
on the Castro government to follow economic liberalization with
significant political transformation.

The death of Fidel Castro will not fundamentally change this route.
— Arturo Lopez-Levy, professor at the University of Colorado
U.S. officials say they want to see truly competitive elections with
candidates who do not belong to the ruling Communist Party; the release
of political prisoners (although only a handful remain); and a broader
ability for dissidents, human rights activists and opponents of the
government to express themselves openly, in the press and in the streets.

Raul Castro has resisted, and, even without Fidel looking over his
shoulder, he is not likely to budge. After decades of animosity, the
Cuban leadership warily views U.S. demands for democracy as a pretext to
install a more Washington-friendly government in Havana.

Senior Cuban officials seek examples of governance that stand as
alternatives to the superpower to the north. They frequently cite China
and Vietnam as their models, with their ostensibly communist
governments, flourishing Western-style economies and lack of political

Under current circumstances, many analysts say, Raul Castro would have
little incentive to alter Cuba's political system in a way that would
threaten ruling-party hegemony. Repeatedly, Cuba's leader has insisted
that there would be no acceptance of multiparty politics or basic
freedoms such as the right to assembly.

"Raul is likely to circle the wagons and make sure his rear guard is
protected" before embarking on new initiatives, said Ted Henken, a
sociology professor at Baruch College and a Cuba expert frequently
consulted by the Obama administration.

The government in Cuba is controlled by a Communist Party council that
serves as a legislative body and is consulted a few times a year for new
laws. Fidel, and Raul after him, have had all-but-complete control of
the body.

Last year, a pair of candidates tried to become the first non-Communist
politicians to win municipal posts, mounting a modest campaign. Both
failed miserably. The lesson to would-be reformers was clear.

"The death of Fidel Castro will not fundamentally change this route,
because in terms of the political system, it's all been symbolic, part
of the Latin American revolutionary patriarchy," former Cuban
intelligence analyst Arturo Lopez-Levy, now a professor at the
University of Colorado, wrote this weekend.

Miguel Diaz-Canel, named by Raul Castro as first vice president on the
same day he announced his impending retirement, is widely seen as his
heir apparent.

Diaz-Canel, from a younger generation, is more modern than the Castros
and much more Internet-savvy. But it remains difficult to anticipate his
moves. He is beholden to the old Communist Party apparatus but also
eager to move Cuba into the modern world, Cubans who know him say.

For Trump, opposing forces are keen. He has pronounced his opposition to
any opening with a Castro government, but he is also under enormous
pressure from fellow entrepreneurs who see a buck to be made on the
tropical island.

After Raul Castro's retirement, Trump and a Republican-controlled
Congress will be able to argue they are operating in a truly
"post-Castro" environment, allowing them to make even more business
deals. But opposition to any rapprochement with communist Cuba remains
deep, especially among Cuban American Republicans in south Florida.

Few expect a swift end to the U.S. trade embargo blocking U.S. financial
dealings with Cuba.

It was President Eisenhower who initially slapped the embargo on Cuban
exports of sugar and other trade, eventually costing Cuba $1 trillion,
according to Havana.

The Cuban government has routinely blamed the measure — the "blockade,"
as Cubans call it dismissively — for the island's dire economic

By tweaking regulations, Obama has done almost everything within his
power to lift embargo restrictions. But only Congress can end the
embargo, and it has refused to do so. Now, with Republicans holding sway
in Washington, lifting the embargo seems a long shot, though Trump has
not publicly signaled his intentions with respect to the trade ban.

With the passing of Fidel Castro, it also seems possible that the island
leadership will want to reaffirm its commitment to the core principles
of the man who personified the revolution. The nine-day mourning period
declared in Cuba appears, at least publicly, as a means of cementing
Fidel's legacy, not rejecting it.

Havana "will retrench to demonstrate that the 'Revolution' survives its
founder — and continues to defy the grasp of the United States," John
Kavulich, president of the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic
Council, predicted.

There is "nothing expected to alter the commercial, economic and
political timetable," Kavulich said, "meaning, retrenching for a bit to
demonstrate" a post-Fidel Castro revolutionary "stability."

Sanchez of the Times' Mexico City bureau reported from Havana, Times
staff writer Wilkinson reported from Washington and staff writer
McDonnell from Boston.

Source: Despite Fidel Castro's death, few expect rapid political changes
in Cuba - Hartford Courant -

Even dissidents hold back as Castro's death casts a pall over Cuba

Even dissidents hold back as Castro's death casts a pall over Cuba
By Nelson Acosta and Ana Isabel Martinez | HAVANA

Cuba's most prominent dissident group called off its weekly protest
march for the first time in 13 years on Sunday following the death of
its nemesis Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader whose passing has
cast a pall over the island.

Castro, an icon of the Cold War who built a communist state on the
doorstep of the United States and defied half a century of U.S. efforts
to topple him, died late on Friday at the age of 90.

The Cuban government has declared a nine-day period of mourning and
suspended alcohol sales and even baseball games.

The Ladies in White dissident group decided to avoid creating tensions
this week.

"We're not going to march today so that the government does not take it
as a provocation and so that they can pay their tributes," the group's
leader, Berta Soler, said on Sunday. "We respect the mourning of others
and will not celebrate the death of any human being."

The group, originally formed in support of husbands jailed for political
opposition, has called protest marches in Havana following Mass at a
Roman Catholic Church each Sunday for the past 13 years. The group is
funded by Cuban exiles in the United States, and the government says its
members are mercenaries doing the bidding of the U.S. government.

Still, their movement has been the rare expression of dissent to be
largely tolerated by the Communist government, although police have
clamped down over the past several months, stopping protesters in their
homes and preventing the demonstrations from taking place.

The difference this week is that dissidents themselves have opted
against even trying, three opposition leaders said.

The cause of Castro's death was not made public but he had been in poor
health since he nearly died of an intestinal illness in 2006. He
formally ceded power to his younger brother, Raul, in 2008 after ruling
for nearly half a century.

Source: Even dissidents hold back as Castro's death casts a pall over
Cuba | Reuters -

Cuban-American Millennials Anticipate Role in Evolving Cuba

Cuban-American Millennials Anticipate Role in Evolving Cuba
MIAMI — Nov 28, 2016, 7:40 AM ET

Isabella Prio was born in Miami, is 20 now and a junior at Boston
College who fully expects to return to Cuba someday and help shape the
island's future. But she's never been to the country where her
grandfather was once president and refuses to visit until it's a democracy.

Cherie Cancio, 29, also was born in Miami and runs tours to the island
for young Cuban-Americans eager to explore their heritage.

Two daughters of exile. Both passionate in wanting to effect change in a
country that has been in the grasp of the Castro brothers' authoritarian
rule for decades, but very different in their approaches.

For the hundreds of thousands of children like Prio and Cancio born of
Cuban exiles — some two and three generations removed from the island —
Fidel Castro's death potentially opens a door to a world long
off-limits. Or at the least, it seems to bring it within closer reach.

Millennial Cuban-Americans say Castro's death at the age of 90
symbolically offers hope for improved dialogue between the countries.
Some thought the dialogue had begun under President Barack Obama, who
visited Cuba in March. But with President-elect Donald Trump, the future
of diplomacy between the two countries is uncertain.

"It's definitely in the hands of the young people to take it over," Prio
said. "We just have to be careful about how we go about it."

How that dialogue will unfold is anyone's guess, and while attitudes are
shifting, the community is still divided on the best way to chart a new
course for the island — or whether Miami's exiles even should play a role.

Prio, a finance and marketing student, still won't visit until the
Castro regime steps down, and democracy is restored. For now, she's
disappointed when she sees friends' photos of Cuba on Instagram and
Facebook. Her views are more in line with people her parents' and
grandparents' age.

"Young Cuban-Americans really want engagement on the island," said
Guillermo Grenier, a professor of sociology at Florida International
University in Miami and a lead investigator of the FIU Cuba Poll, an
annual poll of Cuban-Americans co-sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute.

Still, said Grenier, "how younger Cuban-Americans feel about Fidel
Castro dying is kind of independent" of their interest in engaging with
the island.

The most recent Cuba Poll was taken in August. It showed that
Cuban-Americans ages 18 to 39 are disenchanted with the embargo, desire
expanded business opportunities and favor the establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"There's been a shift of millennial Cuban-Americans, who are more open
to President Obama's policies," says Cancio, whose father reached
Florida on the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s.

She admits that the children of exiles grapple with wanting to learn
about their heritage while being respectful of their parents' struggles.
Many millennials want to go to Cuba but are hesitant to do so out of
respect for their parents' position that the Castro regime must
relinquish power and democracy installed before any substantial engagement.

"We all respect the sacrifices and the history of our parents,
especially those of us from Miami," she said.

That's why she believes in educating Cuban-Americans, while building
bridges with folks in Cuba.

"We want Cuban Americans to visit Cuba, experience it, talk about it,
and think about what an emerging Cuba means for them and their
communities in the U.S.," reads the website of CubaOne, Cancio's nonprofit.

Still, Cancio doesn't believe that she, or the Miami-born children of
exiles, has a role to play in reshaping Cuba. That's up to the people on
the island, she says.

"I have the freedom here to support whatever policies I want. I don't
know I should have that freedom in another country, even if my father
was born there."

Javier Gonzalez, a 21-year-old University of Miami junior, feels that
Cuba is his birthright. His father came from Cuba and hasn't returned.
Gonzalez also hasn't visited.

"A free Cuba or nothing," said Gonzalez, who is majoring in political
science, economics and aquaculture.

Gonzalez attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami — a private
school that was once in Havana, only to be seized after Castro took
power and expelled from the island.

Castro himself was a 1944 graduate of the school. Gonzalez says many of
his teachers knew Castro or studied with him, and the exile experience
permeated daily high school life, as it did for him at home.

Each day while walking to his Latin American studies class, Gonzalez
would pass the wall of martyrs, a photographic journey of all the alumni
who died fighting "for a higher cause," including attempting to oust
Castro. Many were political prisoners under the Castro regime.

Gonzalez thinks of Cuba as his home, and someday, of returning to what
he calls "paradise lost."

Castro's death "isn't equivalent to liberty, but it's a step toward
liberty," says Gonzalez.

When news of Castro's death broke, he texted Prio, his friend. They and
their high school friends who were home for the Thanksgiving break knew
where to meet up: Cafe Versailles in Little Havana, with its signs that
say "La Casa del Exilio," or, "house of the exiles."

Prio, who has friends at her school in Boston who questioned her
jubilation over Castro's death, tried to explain her feelings.

"He's not a human being, he's a monster," she said. "It's perfectly
acceptable to celebrate his death."

Said Gonzales: "it's not celebrating death, it's celebrating the life
that could be."

Prio's grandfather, Carlos Prio Socarras, was president of Cuba from
1948 until 1952, when Fulgencio Batista organized a coup and overthrew
the government. Socarras fled the country and backed Castro financially;
it was the worst decision of his life, he later said.

Like Gonzalez, Prio believes she will someday go to Cuba and hopes to
play a part in its rebuilding.


Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at .


An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling for the name
of former Cuban president Carlos Prio Socarras.

Source: Cuban-American Millennials Anticipate Role in Evolving Cuba -
ABC News -

Death of Fidel Castro May Pressure Donald Trump on Cuba Promises

Death of Fidel Castro May Pressure Donald Trump on Cuba Promises
President-elect could face pushback from some companies regarding his
Cuba policies
Updated Nov. 27, 2016 11:14 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The death of Fidel Castro is putting unexpected pressure on
President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on earlier promises to
reverse the recent openings to Cuba made by President Barack Obama.
While Mr. Trump could undo Mr. Obama's efforts, which were implemented
using executive authority, he could face pushback from U.S. companies
now deeply invested in Cuba under the current administration's policy.
Those companies include major airlines, hotel operators and technology
providers, while big U.S. phone carriers have signed roaming agreements
on the island.

Mr. Trump's top aides said Sunday that he would demand the release of
political prisoners held in Cuba and push the government to allow more
religious and economic freedoms. Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump's incoming
White House chief of staff, said the president-elect "absolutely" would
reverse Mr. Obama's policies if he didn't get what he wanted from Cuba.

"We're not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the
United States without some changes in their government," Mr. Priebus
said Sunday on Fox News. "Repression, open markets, freedom of religion,
political prisoners—these things need to change in order to have open
and free relationships, and that's what president-elect Trump believes,
and that's where he's going to head."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a critic of Mr. Obama's opening, said
Sunday on CBS that he hopes Mr. Trump will examine Mr. Obama's changes
to U.S.-Cuba policy and consider whether they foster democracy.

Ana Rosa Quintana, an expert on Latin America at the conservative
Heritage Foundation, said she hopes Mr. Trump will roll back regulations
that allow U.S. companies to interact with state-run entities in Cuba.

Mr. Obama announced in December 2014 that his administration had reached
a deal with Cuba to begin to normalize relations. Since then, embassies
have reopened in both countries, and the U.S. has loosened trade and
travel restrictions to Cuba.

Despite bipartisan support, Congress has refused to lift the economic
embargo on Cuba, which administration officials have said is necessary
to fully normalize relations.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill to
lift the embargo, said until Republican leaders allow a vote on the
legislation its supporters are "stymied."

That gives Mr. Trump broad authority to scale back U.S. relations with
Cuba, said lawyers and former officials who specialize in sanctions policy.

Regulations that allow U.S. companies to deal with Cuban state-owned
entities seem the most vulnerable, such as one that allows U.S.
businesses to use state-owned distributors as middlemen for deliveries
to the private sector, the former officials and lawyers said.

Peter Harrell, a former senior official at the State Department who
worked on sanctions in the Obama administration, said he expected Mr.
Trump would "pull back some of that dealing with the Cuban state while
allowing travel and private enterprise to go forward."

Another measure Mr. Trump could reverse is Mr. Obama's decision earlier
this year to allow so-called people-to-people travel to Cuba without a
tour group, a move that essentially lifted the travel ban and that
critics believe went too far. According to the State Department, 700,000
Americans visited Cuba in 2015, which officials said was an increase
from previous years.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see that rescinded," said Robert Muse, a
Washington-based lawyer who advises companies on doing business in Cuba.

Republican opponents of Mr. Obama's Cuba policy—including Mauricio
Claver-Carone, who is on Mr. Trump's transition team at the Treasury
Department—have been critical of a deal Starwood Hotels signed with the
Cuban government earlier this year, under which the company is running a
hotel once owned by the tourism arm of the Cuban military. Mr. Harrell
said Mr. Trump might rethink that authorization or allowing similar
licenses in the future.

Jeff Flaherty, a spokesman for Marriott International Inc., which now
owns Starwood, said it was premature to assess what effect a Trump
administration would have on its business in Cuba.

"It is too early to know precisely what it could mean for businesses
that have invested in Cuba and are providing opportunities for the Cuban
people, but we remain interested in being part of those conversations,"
he said.​​

Mr. Claver-Carone didn't respond to requests for comment.

In addition to corporations seeking to invest in Cuba, Mr. Obama's
policy has strong support in another Republican stronghold: the farming

Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, said he voted for
Mr. Trump but didn't want to see the next administration take any steps
that would put U.S. farmers at a further disadvantage in the Cuban market.

"Every other country in the world has diplomatic and trade relations
with Cuba, and what we don't want to do is lose that market share to the
European Union, Brazil, Argentina," Mr. Paap said, adding that U.S.
market share in Cuba has decreased in recent years as other countries
are able to provide better financing.

The White House has been working to facilitate new investments in Cuba
by U.S. companies to try to further entrench business and trade ties
between the two countries before Mr. Obama leaves office, with new
announcements expected in coming weeks. It is unclear how Mr. Castro's
death might affect those efforts.

The potential blowback from U.S. business has been the White House's de
facto insurance policy on Mr. Obama's approach to Cuba.

In March Mr. Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in 88 years
to visit Cuba, and many administration officials have gone to the island
to advance economic and cultural ties.

Matt Miller, an American Airlines spokesman, said the company is
proceeding "full steam ahead" with plans to expand its service from the
U.S. to Cuba this week to include flights to Havana from Miami and
Charlotte, N.C. U.S. commercial flights to Cuba resumed in September.

To further entrench Mr. Obama's policy, administration officials also
are relying on lawmakers in agriculture states poised to benefit from
trade with Cuba and a growing number of Cuban Americans who support
policy changes that loosen travel restrictions and allow them to send
more money to family members living there.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R., Minn.), ​a​ strong proponent of lifting the
embargo​who supported Mr. Trump in the election, ​said he hopes the
Trump administration will seize on the opportunity of Mr. Castro's death
to further normalize ties.

"Hopefully the ​Trump administration will build off what has already
been created, ​understanding that it is a new day in the Western
Hemisphere," he said in an interview. ​

Paul Johnson, co-chair of the U.S. agriculture coalition for Cuba, said
he isn't yet worried that Mr. Trump would reverse the momentum from Mr.
Obama's policy because "rural America clearly supports normalization of
trade with Cuba" and wants to end the U.S. embargo.

Dan Restrepo, a former Latin America adviser to Mr. Obama who is now a
fellow at the Center for American Progress, said U.S. companies that
invested in Cuba under Mr. Obama's policy could explore legal action
against the government if Mr. Trump reversed measures that allowed them
to operate there.

U.S. companies "now have a vested interest and they are going to be part
of any debate" and that "broadens the political conversation," he said.

Write to Felicia Schwartz at and Carol E. Lee

Source: Death of Fidel Castro May Pressure Donald Trump on Cuba Promises
- WSJ -