• This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement that was brought to my attention by Andrew Johnston of Ottawa: ".. ... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."

    The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba.

The Causes & Consequences of Cuba’s Black Market

21 August 2014 –  Havana Times – Fernando Ravsberg*

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=105653

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban press is out to get re-sellers, as though their existence were news to anyone, as though they just now realized there is a black market that’s on every street corner in the country, selling just about everything one can sell.

In a news report aired on TV, they went as far as insinuating that some employees at State stores are accomplices of those who hoard and re-sell products. They are now “discovering” that the black market stocks up, in great measure, thanks to the complicity of store clerks. The reporting remains on the surface, addressing the effects but not daring to go to the root of a problem that has burdened the country for decades as a result of the chronic shortage of products – from screws to floor mops.

During the early years of the revolution, these shortages could be chalked up to the US embargo. Today, however, Cuba maintains trade relations with the entire world and can purchase the products people need in other markets. It doesn’t even seem to be a financial problem, because the products become available and disappear intermittently. Shaving foam can disappear for a couple of months and reappear at all stores overnight.

These ups and downs are what allow a group of clever folks to hoard up on and later re-sell these products at higher prices. A lack of foresight and planning when importing is what creates these temporary shortages that make the work of hoarders easier.

There is no doubt Cuba has a planned economy. The question is whether it is actually well planned. The truth is that, for decades, the country’s domestic trade system has functioned in a chaotic manner and no one has been able to organize it minimally.

A foreign journalist I know recently noted that, when toilet paper disappeared from all State shops, a supermarket in Havana had a full stock of pickled partridge that no one buys.  Who would decide to buy such a luxury canned product at a time when most store shelves are practically empty? The story brings to mind that anecdote involving a government official who imported a snow-sweeper to Cuba.

The Market and Consumption

Cuba’s domestic trade system doesn’t require “reforms”, it demands radical change, a new model. Such a change should begin with Cuba’s importers, bureaucratic companies that are ignorant of the interests and needs of consumers and buy products without rhyme or reason.

Many of their employees receive [under the table] commissions from suppliers and therefore prioritize, not the country’s interests, but their own pockets. They are the same people who received money from the corrupt foreign businessmen recently tried and convicted in Cuba.

To plan the country’s economy, the government should start by conducting market studies and getting to know the needs of consumers, in order to decide what to purchase on that basis. It Is a question of buying the products people need and in quantities proportional to the demand.

Planning means being able to organize import cycles such that there is regular supply of products, without any dark holes, like the ones that currently abound in all sectors of Cuba’s domestic trade, from dairy products to wood products.

Sometimes, this chaotic state of affairs has high costs for the country’s economy, such as when buses are put out of circulation because spare pieces were not bought on time, there isn’t enough wood to build the crates needed to store farm products or a sugar refinery is shut down because of lack of foresight.

Even the sale of school uniforms at State subsidized prices experiences these problems owing to a lack of different sizes. This is a problem seamstresses are always willing to fix, charging the parents a little extra money.

Cuba’s entire distribution system is rotten. Importers are paid commissions, shopkeepers sell products under the counter, butchers steal and resell poultry, ration-store keepers mix pebbles in with beans, agricultural and livestock markets tamper with weighing scales and bakers take home the flour and oil.

In the midst of this chaos we find the Cuban consumer, who does not even have an office he or she can turn to and demand their rights (when they are sold rotten minced meat, and old pair of shoes or a refrigerator that leaks water, for instance).

Speculation is no doubt a reprehensible activity, but it is not the cause of the black market. The country may launch a new campaign against hoarders, but it will be as unsuccessful as all previous one if an efficient commercial system isn’t created.

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WHICH WAY CUBA? THE 2013 STATUS OF POLITICAL TRANSFORMATIONS

Vegard Bye;

 The full Report is available here:  NUPI Report: Which Way Cuba?

This NUPI Report is the result of a project financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the purpose of studying and accompanying economic and institutional reform in Cuba. This Report consists of three papers taking stock of the political changes in Cuba by the end of 2013 (with some updates from early 2014).

First, Vegard Bye attempts to summarize the status of the Cuban reform processes under president Raul Castro, with emphasis on the link between economic reforms and political transformations. One basic question is whether increasing economic pluralism may also lead to political pluralism, or whether there will rather be a re-concentration of both economic and political power.

Second, Armando Chaguaceda looks at the social deterioration in Cuba. What is at stake are some of the most important achievements of the revolution in terms of health, education and social security. The author argues that these achievements have never been seen in a rights perspective.

Lastly, Borghild Tønnessen-Krokan describes the polarized debate and issues that have blocked normalization and friendly coexistence, and analyzes constraints and benefits related to dialogue on human rights, security and other contentious issues both inside Cuba and between Cuba and the US in light of a recent thaw.

In Annex 1 at the end of the Report, we reprint an English translation of the very visionary Manifest elaborated by our partner Laboratorio Casa Cuba: CUBA SOÑADA; CUBA POSSIBLE; CUBA FUTURA.

This is the first proposal for a liberal democracy in Cuba proposed by a group of political thinkers operating within the Cuban political system, and thus tolerated by Government and Party. There is reason to believe that this document – with possible follow-up will become a benchmark for future debate about democratic political transformations in Cuba.

New Picture (4)

CONTENTS

Foreword

Which Way Cuba? The 2013 Status of Political Transformations

By Vegard Bye

1. Introduction

2. Agricultural transformations and their implications

3. Widening space for employment-generating entrepreneurs?

4. Mariel: the new Cuban panacea?

5. The new cooperative sector

6. A dual state-private structure?

7. Social deteriorations and their possible impact

8. Cuban agents of change

9. International context Cuba towards Latin American normalcy?

10. Assessing the on-going transformations up against theoretical and empirical literature

11. The three scenarios

 Cuba: revisitando la Justicia Social en tiempos de reforma

By Armando Chaguaceda

  1. Resumen
  2. Introducción
  3. Las perspectivas del análisis.
  4. El caso cubano
  5. Las reformas y sus impactos
  6. La (in)seguridad alimentaria y los ingresos personales
  7. El déficit habitacional y la marginalidad.
  8. “ é ” y “ á ”
  9. Reducciones en la calidad educacional
  10. Conclusiones

Build Walls or Open Doors? Prospects for Cuba Dialogue

By Borghild Tønnessen-Krokan

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodological constraints
  3. Scope and definitions of dialogue and reconciliation
  4. Origins and dynamics of the conflict
  5. From Deadlock to Détente
  6. Conclusion

ANNEX I:

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AFTER OFFSHORE OIL FAILURE, CUBA SHIFTS ENERGY FOCUS

By Marc Frank; Reuters; 1:00 p.m. EDT, August 11, 2014

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has shifted its focus away from offshore oil, concentrating on renewable energy and improving output from onshore wells due to a lack of interest by foreign companies for further deep-water exploration, sources close to the industry say.
With so much oil readily available around the world, oil companies including those from allies China and Russia see little incentive in drilling off the Caribbean island, delaying the Cuban dream of oil wealth that could inject vigor into its socialist revolution.

With the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba further complicating drilling plans, the country is seeking investors in renewable energy such as biomass and wind while attempting to increase output from existing onshore and shallow water wells.

Russia’s state-run Rosneft and the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) separately agreed last month to help Communist-run Cuba extract more oil along the traditional northwest heavy oil belt, but did not sign on to deepwater exploration.
The northwest heavy oil belt is a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of the northern coast from Havana to Villa Clara and reaching up to 3 miles (5 km) offshore. It produces poor quality oil that meets 40 percent of the country’s needs.

Rosneft and CNPC will also support the horizontal drilling of new wells from shore and join Canadian firm Sherritt International and another Russian state-run oil company, Zarubezhneft, which are already carrying out similar work. Cuba had hoped Russia and China, whose presidents visited in July, would explore deepwater offshore fields that it says may hold 20 billion barrels of oil and end its dependence on socialist ally Venezuela. Venezuela sends 115,000 barrels of oil per day to Cuba under favorable terms.

“The Cubans have stopped talking about offshore oil exploration in the state-run media and in private appear more interested in new recovery methods for existing wells, biogas projects and windmill farms,” a European diplomat said.

Three deep-water wells drilled in 2012 by Spanish, Norwegian, Indian, Malaysian, Russian and Venezuelan firms came up dry. All but the Norwegian state firm Statoil ASA and Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA have pulled out, and those companies are inactive. Future drilling has been postponed for the foreseeable future.

Untitled-Scanned-43Pumping Petroleum, Near Cardenas, 1994

A BIG GAMBLE

Difficult geology from hard rock encountered while sinking the wells, alternative prospects elsewhere and U.S. sanctions that require oil rigs to carry less than 10 percent U.S. technology are discouraging further drilling, according to Western diplomats.
“Exploration is not a one-shot deal, but in Cuba due to many factors it is. Drilling is like playing once at a roulette wheel with $100 million chips,” said a diplomat whose country was involved in exploration.

Jorge Pinon, an expert on Cuban oil at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas in Austin, said, “They are shifting their focus and efforts to the known coastal reservoirs rather than on the unknown offshore deep-water reservoirs.”
Cuba’s heavy crude fields have a recovery factor of about 10 percent (10 barrels for every 100 barrels in a well), due to the viscosity of the crude and the porosity of the rock formations from which it is extracted, Pinon said.

“If successful, Cuba could increase its present recovery factor from 10 percent to maybe 17 to 20 percent adding an additional 12,000 to 15,000 barrels of new production if not more to their current level of approximately 50,000 barrels per day,” Pinon said.

Vice President and politburo member Marino Murillo told parliament in July that Cuba planned to invest $3.6 billion over the next 15 years in alternative energy, which is a priority for foreign investment. Murillo said 96 percent of energy generation came from oil and that the goal was to reduce that by 2030 to 76 percent, with the remainder coming from 19 bioelectricity plants attached to sugar mills, 13 wind parks and solar facilities. He did not mention deep-water oil exploration.

 

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Book Review: Al Campbell (Editor) Cuban Economists on the Cuban Economy.

Cuban Economists on the Cuban Economy. Edited by Al Campbell. Gainesville, FL: The University Press of Florida, 2013. Pp. xvii + 337. $79.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780813044235.

indexBy Arch Ritter

Eight years after the accession of Raúl, it is time for an analysis and evaluation of his revised approach to economic management. Not surprisingly, a large number of books dedicated to this task have been published recently.[i] Among these is an interesting volume edited by  Al Campbell of the University of Utah appeared in 2013.

Al Campbell’s collection of essays, Cuban Economists on the Cuban Economy, purposely includes some well-established analysts some of whom are less well-known outside of Cuba because they write in Spanish mainly for domestic policy formulation and publication. It is tempting to label these authors the “old guard” but some such as Miguel Figueras and José Luis Rodríguez can be said to have been moderate reformists as well, and all profess to be supporters of Raúl’s reforms. It is pleasing to see some new work by senior economists such as Figueras,. Rodríguez and the late Ángela Ferriol.

Generally, the volume strikes an “oficialista” tone, and excludes those economists from the University of Havana Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy who have been analyzing the reform process for the last 20 years as well as so-called “dissident” economists.

The volume seems to have passed its “best before….” date as the essays were written in the first half of 2010 using data up to 2008 or 2007. The authors were instructed to focus on the “Special Period” following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and consequent dramatic cuts in Soviet aid to Cuba; they “were specifically asked not to comment on the proposed reforms in their final chapter revisions…”  (Campbell  p.7)  Unfortunately this reduces the relevance of the book for assessing the economic experience and analyzing post 2010 policy reforms during Raúl’s Presidency. It would indeed be interesting to have the frank evaluations of Raúl’s reforms since 2011 from this group of analysts. The volume is nonetheless useful for understanding the economic challenges that Raúl inherited.

The Campbell collection includes twelve essays grouped in three sections.”  Section I, “The Macroeconomy,” includes a chapter by José Luis Rodríguez reviewing the general macroeconomic experience of the 1979-2009 period, a chapter by Oscar U-Echevarría Vallejo on changing development strategies, policy reforms and sectorial changes in the whole 1959-2009 period; a chapter on Cuba’s changing international economic relations during the “Special Period” by Nancy Quiñones Chang, and a description of the planning process prior to the expansion of the private sector after 2010 by Elena Álvares González.

The second section focuses on socioeconomic issues. An essay by Rita Castiñeiras García on “…The Human Dimension….” constitutes an uncritical listing of the achievements of the Revolution. For example, she accepts as a significant advance the expansion of the university system to include over 700 centers (Castiñeiras García p.156). But in 2011 under Raúl, the huge expansion of the university system was reversed and reduced to 119 centers with a large cut in enrolments as well. (Mesa-Lago, p.144) The essay by Juan Carlos Alfonso Fraga on demography and the aging of the population is useful, with its focus on the aging process, its consequences and relevant public policies.  Some analysis of Cuba’s fertility rate, its determinants and relevant public policies would also have been welcome; this is now 1.4 children per woman, the lowest in the Hemisphere, among the lowest in the world and well below the 2.2 level necessary for long-term sustainability.[1]

Ángela Ferriol’s essay on poverty acknowledges its existence in Cuba and outlines the programs designed to reduce it. A chapter on labor issues by Alfredo Morales Cartaya paints a Pollyanna picture, ignoring the collapse of the real value of wages, salaries, pensions and social security payments since 1990. Omitted as well is any consideration of the absence of meaningful collective bargaining, the right to strike and independent labor unions.

The third section then includes two essays on tourism, one on agriculture, and one on “knowledge-based” industries. The latter two essays are particularly unhelpful and offer virtually no serious policy analysis or evaluation.

[1] United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 2013. Statistical Annex, Table 14, p. 194.

[i] Among other volumes recently published on the reform process under President Raul Castro are the following:

Cuban Economic and Social Development: Policy Reforms and Challenges in the 21st Century. Edited by Jorge I. Domínguez, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Mayra Espina Prieto and Lorena Barberia. David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, USA, 2012. Pp. iii + 333. $24.99 paper.  ISBN: 9780674062434.

Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment. By Samuel Farber. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2011. Pp.ix + 369. $24.00 paper. ISBN: 9781608461394.

Cuban Revelations: behind the Scenes in Havana, By Marc Frank, University Press of Florida, 2013. Pp. iii + 327. $29.95 cloth. ISBN: 9789813944651

Cuba Under Raúl Castro: Assessing the Reforms. By Carmelo Mesa-Lago and Jorge Pérez-López. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2013. Pp.xv + 295. $65.00 cloth. ISBN: 9781588269043.

¿Quo vadis, Cuba? La incierta senda de las reformas . Edited by Pavel Vidal and José Antonio Alonso.  Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011. Pp. xvii + 453. $48.00 paper. ISBN: 9780268029830.

Handbook of Contemporary Cuba: Economy, Politics, Civil Society and Globalization, Mauricio A. Font and Carlos Riobo (Editors). Boulder and London: Paradigm Publishers, 2013;

No More free Lunch: Reflections on the Cuban Economic Reform Process and Challenges for Transformation, Claes Brundenius and Ricardo Torres Perez (Editors). Switzerland: Springer, 2013;

The Economy of Cuba after the VI Party Congress,  Alberto Gabriele (Editor). New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2012.

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Mariela Castro in Ottawa: “I believe in the project Cuba is developing”

The Ottawa Citizen, Jennifer Campbell Published on: July 8, 2014

Mariela Castro Espín is a Cuban professor and member of Parliament. She was in Ottawa recently before attending Toronto's World Pride 2014.Mariela Castro Espín, Heir Apparent in the Castro Dynasty? But she states that Cuba does not have a “monarchy.”

Ask the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro what it was like growing up with such a famous father and she’s quick to answer that being his daughter “is not a public position.”

Mariela Castro Espín, a professor and member of the Cuban parliament since 2013, says it with a laugh, but she does want to stress that she doesn’t always share her father’s opinions, nor does he dictate the way she votes on policy.

“I have responsibilities and I don’t like to be classified as the president’s daughter,” she says. “Ever since I’ve been a child, I’ve always said what I thought. I’m a part of my family and they have given me certain social values, the same values of Cuban society.”

For example, her brand of socialism is one where “humans organize themselves according to state policy.”  She believes, she says, “in the rights of the people to participate in public policy discussions and I believe in the project Cuba is developing, of experimenting to create a new society with the primary goal of emancipating the human being. I don’t think of it as a socialist model. I think instead of an experiment to discover more fair societies as an alternative to the capitalist system. No one has the right to tell Cuba to copy other models.”

Asked if it seems right for one family to be in power for decades, Castro Espín called the question “propaganda” and insisted that her country doesn’t have a “monarchy.”  Rather, she says, Cuba has “a democratic system of participation. I invite you to go to the Cuban election to see for yourself. It’s the population (that elects) and promotes the candidates. They are humble people, who are working as politicians solely because they are interested in helping the Cuban people.”

In other countries, she says, it’s those who have the biggest war chests who get elected, but Cuba is free of that problem.

Castro Espín admits Cuba still has a way to go, and to that end she’s been working with municipalities and universities to strengthen governance and improve people’s ability to make more effective changes at a local level.

When it comes to Cuba’s large neighbour to the North, Castro Espín says there are many in her country who would like to “normalize” relations with the U.S. but the will isn’t there on the part of American officials.

Castro Espín was in Canada to participate in World Pride 2014 in Toronto, so Cuban Ambassador Julio Antonio Garmendia Pena invited her to Ottawa as well.

“Maybe I can change some ideas among MPs and others who are interested in my work as the head of CENESEX (the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education),” a centre that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. “I think I will have to come back because they showed a lot of interest.”

She said gay rights advocates are making headway. Her centre, and other groups, are fighting for gay marriage and the right for gay couples to adopt children. “At least we’re having the conversation,” she said, adding that there are still many Cubans opposed to both.

 

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COMUNICACIÓN PÚBLICA de Roberto Veiga y Lenier González

La Habana, 30 de Junio de 2014

A todos los interesados:  

Durante los últimos días hemos sido contactados por un gran número de amigos de todas las latitudes. Como denominador común todos nos han enfatizado y reiterado su apoyo y cercanía, y nos han convocado, con insistencia, a que continuemos trabajando públicamente a favor del bienestar de Cuba. A este pedido de gran cantidad de personas, se une nuestra vocación personal de servicio público a la nación cubana, necesitada actualmente de metodologías que pongan énfasis en el acercamiento, el diálogo y el acuerdo entre cubanos, así como del mejoramiento de las relaciones de la Isla con el resto del mundo. Es por ello que hemos decidido enfrascarnos en la edificación de un nuevo proyecto encaminado a conseguir estos objetivos.   

Esta iniciativa llevará por nombre Cuba Posible. Hemos llegado a este consenso porque estamos convencidos de que el país siempre contará con el esfuerzo de sus hijos para construir la Casa Cuba, esa bella metáfora de monseñor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. En este sentido, el sacerdote cubano aconsejó que: “Un proyecto de cambio transicional, para nuestro país, será tanto más eficaz cuanto mejor consiga la concertación de las voluntades presente en la Cuba contemporánea.”

De esta manera queremos hacer patente el compromiso con la promoción del encuentro y la concordia entre cubanos; la práctica de la dignidad humana de cada compatriota, mediante el ejercicio responsable de la libertad, la igualdad y la solidaridad; el desarrollo de la cultura y la educación de todos los ciudadanos; el avance económico del país; la búsqueda sistemática de maneras más efectivas para socializar la riqueza espiritual y material que seamos capaces de crear; el fomento de criterios diversos y la  integración de lo mejor de los mismos; el diseño continúo de una democracia cada vez más plena; así como el mejoramiento de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, Europa y América Latina. 

Para gestionar los objetivos anteriores estructuraremos una plataforma que nos permita socializar y canalizar las inquietudes, los criterios y las propuestas de cubanos y extranjeros que guarden comunión con dichos principios. Aspiramos a que los participantes se identifiquen entre ellos e interactúen con la sociedad civil cubana, con grupos de la diáspora y con otras entidades en el extranjero, siempre por medio de un diálogo abierto y plural que busque la concertación.

Sabemos que el camino que iniciaremos no será fácil. Sin embargo, lo asumiremos confiados y serenos, teniendo al respeto y a la transparencia como los estandartes de nuestro quehacer.

En estos momentos trabajamos en la organización intelectual, técnica y formal del proyecto. Creemos firmemente que la restitución de la confianza entre cubanos, y entre Cuba y el mundo, así como la despolarización del campo político abrirán las puertas del futuro. Cuba Posible trabajará intensamente en la edificación de una patria mejor.

RobertoVeigaLenierGonzalezEspacioLaical

 Lenier González y Roberto Veiga

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CUBAN PROSECUTORS SEEK 15 YEARS FOR CANADIAN BUSINESSMAN IN BRIBERY CASE

CyCy Tokmakjian

DANIEL TROTTA; HAVANA — Reuters; Jun. 30 2014  

Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison term for a Canadian businessman who has been tried on bribery charges, and 20 years for Cuba’s former deputy sugar minister who is accused in the same case, official media reported on Monday. Prosecutors are also seeking a total of $91-million in fines or forfeitures from three Canadians and 14 Cubans in a case that has been closely watched by potential investors wary of how Cuba treats foreign executives.

Lead Canadian defendant Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was held for nearly 2 1/2 years before being charged.

Cuba has been touting a new foreign investment law that took effect Saturday, saying it was crucial for attracting foreign direct investment that’s needed for development. The main feature of the law is to lower taxes. But many foreign companies have said they are more interested in the general business climate, transparency and the rule of law, especially in light of this case.

Cuban authorities publicly revealed details of the trial for the first time with an account in Monday’s edition of the Communist Party daily, Granma, which said the evidence phase of the trial lasted from June 9-21 at a criminal court in Havana. The court has yet to reach a verdict, which is normally rendered within a few weeks of trial.

Diplomats with knowledge of the case have previously said that prosecutors were seeking 15 years for Tokmakjian and 12-year sentences for his top managers, fellow Canadians Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche. All three Canadians from the Tokmakjian Group, a transportation and trading company, say they are innocent, but its vice-president of finance, Lee Hacker, has previously said in a statement he feared the outcome of the case, which has strained Canada’s relations with Cuba, may be predetermined.

Cuba shuttered the Canadian company in September, 2011, arrested Tokmakjian and took the passports of the other managers. The charges include bribery, fraud, tax evasion, falsifying bank documents and other economic offences.

Granma said prosecutors were asking for 15 years for Tokmakjian and 20 years for Nelson Labrada, former deputy minister of the defunct Sugar Ministry, which has since been replaced by a state sugar enterprise. Prosecutors requested sentences of eight to 12 years for the remaining defendants.

Among the Cuban defendants is Ernesto Gomez, former director of the state nickel company Ferroniquel Minera SA.

The Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group did an estimated $80-million in business annually with Cuba, mainly selling transportation, mining and construction equipment. It was the exclusive Cuba distributor of Hyundai, among other brands, and a partner in two joint ventures replacing the motors of Soviet-era transportation equipment.

The company was caught up in an investigation of Cuba’s international trading sector, part of a crackdown on corruption by President Raul Castro

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Comisión de Derechos Humanos publica listado de presos políticos, JUNIO DE 2014

New Picture (2)Comisión de Derechos Humanos publica listado de presos políticos, PRESOS-POLITICOS-JUNIO DE 2014

14ymedio, La Habana | Junio 23, 2014

Presos Politicos, Junio de 2014

La Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional ha hecho público un listado de presos políticos en Cuba. La entidad, presidida por Elizardo Sánchez , ubica en 114 el número de personas que están condenadas “por razones o implicaciones políticas”.

 

Según se asegura en el documento, la población penal total se estima entre 60.000 y 70.000 condenados actualmente en todo el país. De ellos “la gran mayoría por los llamados delitos comunes, lo cual representa entre el 0,6 y el 0,7% del total de habitantes de Cuba, una de las cifras más altas a escala mundial conforme al tamaño de las poblaciones”.

El informe asegura que de los 114 condenados o procesados por razones políticas, “al menos 80 son disidentes pacíficos, la mayoría de ellos reiteradamente hostigados por la policía política”. Sólo “ocho reclusos fueron condenados severamente por desembarcar en Cuba como parte de pequeñas expediciones armadas anticastristas procedentes de La Florida, entre 1991 y 2001. Estos últimos sufren condenas que oscilan entre 25 y 30 años”.

La lista de la CCDHRN incluye a un total de nueve funcionarios militares y civiles del gobierno  a los que se le han impuesto condenas sumamente severas.

Especial mención tiene en el texto el caso de la dama de blanco Sonia Garro y sus colegas de causa Ramón Muñoz y Eugenio Hernández, encarcelados sin juicio en prisiones de alta seguridad, desde el 18 de marzo de 2012.

También llama la atención que de los “114 condenados o procesados por razones políticas, 40 son miembros activos de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU)”, una organización opositora que tiene amplia presencia en el oriente del país.

El gobierno de Cuba, niega sistemáticamente la existencia de presos políticos e ilegaliza la labor de entidades como la CCDHRN.

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CUBAN-AMERICANS AGREE: TIME TO END THE EMBARGO

The Cuban Research Institute of Florida International University has just released its 2014 Poll on Cuban-American views towards U.S. policy towards Cuba.

The complete write-up of  the poll can be found here: 2014-fiu-cuba-poll

New Picture (2)New PictureNew Picture (1)New Picture (3)

Majority of Cuban Americans want sanctions loosened: poll

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/17/us-usa-cuba-poll-idUSKBN0ES1CQ20140617

BY DAVID ADAMS

MIAMI Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:30pm EDT

(Reuters) – A survey of Cuban Americans in Miami shows eroding support for hardline Cold War-era policies adopted by the United States against Cuba, with a narrow majority in favor of closer ties with the communist-ruled island.

The poll, released on Tuesday by Florida International University (FIU), found that 52 percent of 1,000 Cuban Americans surveyed in Miami-Dade County oppose continuing the five-decade-old trade embargo against Cuba. That figure edges down to 49 percent among registered U.S. voters.

An even greater majority of those surveyed – 68 percent – favor diplomatic relations with Cuba. A similar number – 69 percent – favor lifting travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Current U.S. policy allows visits to the island only under tightly controlled licenses for cultural and academic tours.

The results highlight the shift among members of the Cuban diaspora who fled the island nation to the United States to escape the rise of communism in the 1960s and show opinions have grown far less monolithic due to demographic changes.

Conducted between February and May as part of a periodic survey of Cuban Americans dating back to 1991, the poll found that younger exiles who left Cuba more recently were more favorable to changing policy than those who came in the 1960s.

The survey was funded by the Trimpa Group, a Democratic-leaning consulting firm based in Denver that promotes social change, and Open Society Foundations, which funds public policy causes and was founded by billionaire investor George Soros.

Miami represents the heart of the Cuban American community. “The Cuban enclave is changing at all levels,” Guillermo Grenier, an FIU sociology professor who helped lead the survey, told a news conference.

“The trends are clear,” Grenier said, noting that older exiles were dying while 20,000 new Cubans arrive in the United States every year under a migration accord with Cuba.

Only 8 percent of Cuban Americans ages 18 to 29 support continuing the embargo, compared to 60 percent of those ages 65 and older, the poll showed. In 1991, 87 percent of those surveyed backed the embargo compared to 48 percent now. Still, the latest poll found that a majority of Cuban Americans – 63 percent – support keeping Cuba on the United States’ annual list of state sponsors of terrorism, along with countries like Iran, Syria and Sudan.

“The results show that the (Cuban) government and the (Cuban) people are seen differently,” said Grenier. “There’s a certain willingness to throw the embargo under the bus, if there’s an alternative way to exert pressure on the government,” he added.

Asked if they would vote for a candidate who advocated replacing the embargo with support for private businesses in Cuba, 57 percent of registered voters said yes.

A larger majority – 81 percent – of registered voters said they would support a candidate who advocated replacing the embargo with a policy that increased pressure on the Cuban government over human rights.

Critics accused the FIU pollsters of ideological bias, highlighting the Trimpa Group’s lobbying ties to efforts to loosen the Cuba sanctions and promote travel to Cuba.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the pro-embargo group U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, pointed to a recent poll conducted for the Miami Herald newspaper that found Cuban Americans support the embargo by a 56 percent to 36 percent margin. That poll, conducted by Miami firm Bendixen & Amandi International, involved a smaller sample of 300 voters with a 5.6 percent margin of error.

 

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Is Cuba heading towards a repeat of the 2003 Black Spring?

Original Here: Black Spring?

logo-enReporters Without Borders is worried about the situation of journalists in Cuba, where there have been cases of physical attacks, arbitrary detention, death threats and blocking of access to information in recent days.

Hablemos Press, an independent news agency and free speech NGO, has been directly targeted by the Internal Security Department. Police physically attacked its editor, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, in Havana on 11 June. According to his wife, Hablemos Press reporter Magaly Otero Suarez, he is currently immobilized at home with multiple injuries to the face and right foot.

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Roberto de Jesús Guerra

A car ran down Raúl Ramirez Puig, a Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, on 7 June. One of the two people in the car told him: “Anything can happen.”

Mario Hechavarría Driggs, who also works for Hablemos Press, was the latest victim of arbitrary arrest when Internal Security Department officials arrested him on 8 June. Journalism student Yeander Farrés Delgado was also arrested while photographing the capitol building in Havana (now the headquarters of the science, technology and environment ministry) and was held for five hours.

Although the Castro regime gives the appearance of opening up politically, the methods used by the authorities to silence dissident journalists are clearly becoming more and more brutal,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The last of the journalists arrested in the Black Spring of 2003 was freed in 2011, but since then we have seen a gradual increase in repression.”

Hablemos Press reported on 11 June that it has received repeated telephone threats in the past two months. After taking several threatening calls on the Hablemos Press phone line, Otero was summoned by the Internal Security Department on 12 June, and told to moderate the tone of the agency’s articles, which have irritated the government.

The authorities have also gone so far as to disconnect the mobile phones of De Jesus Guerra, Otero and Arian Guerra, another Hablemos Press journalist, from Cuba’s sole mobile phone network, provided by state-owned ETECSA, to hamper their communications.

What happens to the right to information if the government blocks phone connections at will and Internet use is extremely limited in Cuba?” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “We call on the Cuban authorities to restore the phone connections of Hablemos Press’ journalists without delay.

Reporters Without Borders also condemns the conditions in which the authorities have been holding the independent journalist Juliet Michelena Díaz in Havana since 7 April without any court decision in her case. She was initially accused of threatening a neighbour, but the charge was changed to “terrorism” within a week of her arrest.

Yayabo Press journalist Yoenni de Jesus Guerra García has meanwhile been held since October 2013 and was given a seven-year jail term in March. And the blogger Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, one of the 100 “information heroes” profiled by RWB in May, has been held on trumped-up charges since February 2013.

Cuba is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. This is the lowest ranking of any country in the western hemisphere.

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