Primary Source Materials
TagsAgriculture Art Markets Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Book Review Cartography CELAC Che Guevara Civil Society Communications Comparative Experience Compensation issue Cooperatives Corruption Cuba-Brazil Relations Cuba-Canada Relations Cuba-China Relations Cuba-European Union Relations Cuba-Haiti Relations Cuba-Russia Relations Cuba-Soviet Relations Cuba-Spain Relations Cuba-Venezuela Relations Cuban Diaspora Cuenta-Propistas Daily Life 2012 Debt Issue Defense and Security Issues Democracy Demography Development Strategy Digital Library Dissidents Econmic Institutions Economic Growth Economic History Economic Institutions Economic Melt-Down Economic Prospects Economic Recovery Economic Reform Economic Reforms Economic Self-Correction Education Embar Embargo Emigration Employment Energy Enrique Capriles Enterprise Management Entrepreneurship Environment Exchange Rate Policy Export Processing Zone Exports External Debt Fidel Castro Finance Fiscal Policy Foreign Exchange Earninigs Foreign Investmenr Foreign Investment Foreign Trade Freedom of Assembly Freedom of Expression Freedom of Movement Gender Issues General Economic Analyses General Economic Performance Havana Health History Housing Human Rights Hurricane Illegalities Industry Information Technology Infrastructure Innovation International Relations Internet Joint Ventures Labor Rights Lineamientos Literature Living Standards Macroeconomy Manufacturing Sector Maps Marabu Mariel Medical System Microfinance Military Mineral Sector MIning Missile Cisis 1962 Monetary System Music Narcotics Policy Nickel Industry Nicolas Maduro Opposition Oscar Espinosa Chepe Pensions Petroleum PHOTOGRAPHS Politics Population President Raul Castro Private Sector Property Claims Property Market Public Finance Race Real Estate Market Rectification Process Regional Integration Religion Remittances Resources Self Self-Employment Sherritt Sherritt International Sixth Party Congress Small Enterprise Social Socially Responsible Enterprise Social Security Soviet Subsidization Special Period State Enterprise Structural Adjustment Structural Change Sugar Sector Taxation Tourism Trade Strategy Transportation Underground Economy UNDP HDR 2010 UNDP HDR 2011 Urbanization US-Cuba Relations Wage Levels Water Resouirces Yoani Sanchez
- Ablonczy Diane
- Agence France-Presse
- Aja Díaz Antonio
- Alarcón Ricardo
- Alvarez José
- Alzugaray Carlos
- Amnesty International
- Anaya Cruz Betsy
- Anio-Badia Rolando
- Armeni Andrea
- Associated Press
- Azel José
- Baranyi Stephen
- Barbería Lorena
- Barral Fernando
- Bayo Fornieles Francesc
- Becker Hilary
- Becque Elien Blue
- Belt Juan A. B.
- Benjamin-Alvarado Jonathan
- Benzi Daniele
- Betancourt Rafael
- Betancourt Roger
- Blanco Juan Antonio
- Bobes Velia Cecilia
- Borjas George J.
- Brookings Institution
- Brundenius Claes
- Bu Jesus V.
- Buigas Daniel
- Burnett Victoria
- Bye Vegard
- Café Fuerte
- Cairncross John
- Campos Pedro
- Caruso-Cabrera Michelle
- Casey Michael
- Castañeda Rolando H.
- Castellano Dimas
- CASTILLO SANTANA MARIO G.
- Castro Raúl
- Catá Backer Larry
- Cave Damien
- Celaya Miriam
- Center for Democracy in the Americas’ Cuba Program
- Centro de Estudios sobre la Economia Cubana
- César Guanche Julio
- CÉSPEDES GARCÍA-MENOCAL MONSEÑOR CARLOS MANUEL DE.
- Chaguace daArmando
- CHAGUACEDA ARMANDO.
- Chase Michelle
- Chepe Oscar
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Community of Democracies
- Cuba Central Team
- Cuba Standard
- Cuba Study Group
- Cuban Research Institute
- DACAL ARIEL.
- Dade Carlo
- de Aragon Uva
- de Céspedes Monseñor Carlos Manuel
- De la Cruz Ochoa Ramón
- De la Fuente Alejandro
- de la Torre Augusto
- De Miranda Parrondo
- DFAIT Canada
- DIARIO DE CUBA
- Diaz Fernandez Ileana
- Diaz Ileana
- Díaz Torres Isbel
- Díaz Vázquez Julio
- Díaz-Briquets Sergio
- Dilla Alfonso Haroldo
- Diversent Laritza
- Domínguez Jorge I
- DOMÍNGUEZ JORGE I.
- Dore Elizabeth
- Duany Jorge
- D´ÁNGELO OVIDIO.
- Echavarria Oscar A.
- Economist Intelligence Unit
- Eduardo Perera Gómez Eduardo
- Ellsworth Brian
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Erikson Daniel P
- Escobar Reinaldo
- Espacio Laical
- Espino María Dolores
- Farber Samuel
- Faya Ana Julia
- Feinberg Richard E.
- FERNÁNDEZ ESTRADA JULIO ANTONIO.
- Fernandez Tabio Luis Rene
- Font Mauricio
- FOWLER VÍCTOR.
- Frank Mark
- Franks Jeff
- Fusco Coco
- Gabriele Alberto
- Garcia Alvarez Anicia
- Garcia Anicia
- Garrett Laurie
- Gazeta Oficial
- Gómez Manzano Rene
- González Ivet
- González Lenier
- González Mederos Lenier
- Gonzalez Roberto M
- González Roberto Veiga
- González-Corzo Mario A.
- Gorney Cynthia
- Gratius Susanne
- Grenier Yvon
- Grogg Patricia
- GUANCHE ZALDÍVAR JULIO CÉSAR.
- Hagelburg G. B.
- Hansel Frank-Christian
- Hansing Katrin
- Hare Paul Webster
- Havana Times
- Haven Paul
- Henken Ted
- Hernández Rafael
- Hernández-Catá Ernesto
- Hirschfeld Katherine
- Human Rights Watch
- International Republican Institute
- Ize Alain
- Jiménez Guethón Reynaldo
- Kergin Michael
- Kirk Emily J.
- Kirk John
- Klepak Hal
- Koring Paul
- Kornbluh Peter
- Latell Brian
- Legler Thomas
- Leiva Miriam
- LeoGrande William M.
- León-Manríquez José Luis
- Lo Brutto Giuseppe
- Lockhart Melissa
- Lopez-Levi Arturo
- López-Levy Arturo
- Luis Luis R.
- Lutjens Sheryl
- Mao Xianglin
- Marino Mallorie E.
- MÁRQUEZ HIDALGO ORLANDO.
- Márquez Orlando
- Martínez Reinosa Milagros
- Maybarduk Gary
- Mayra Espina
- McKenna Peter
- McKercher Asa
- McNeil Calum
- Mesa-Lago Carmelo
- Messina Bill
- Miroff Nick
- Monreal González Pedro
- Montaner Carlos Alberto
- Morales Domínguez Esteban
- Morales Emilio
- Morales Esteban
- Morales Rosendo
- Morris Emily
- Mujal-Leon Eusebio
- MULET CONCEPCION YAILENIS
- National Geographic
- New York Times
- Nicol Heather
- Nova González Armando
- Orro Roberto
- Orsi Peter
- Padura Fuentes Leonardo
- Pajon David
- Parker Emily
- Partido Comunista de Cuba
- Pedraza Sylvia
- Pérez Lorenzo
- Pérez Lorenzo L.
- Pérez Omar Everleny
- Pérez-López Jorge
- Pérez-Stable Marifeli
- PESTANO ALEXIS.
- Peters Phil
- Petras James
- Piccone Ted
- Piñeiro Harnecker Camila
- Pinero Harnecker Camila
- Piñón Jorge R.
- Pons Perez Saira
- Posner Michael
- Press larry
- PRIETO SAMSÓNOV DMITRI.
- Pujol Joaquín P.
- Pumar Enrique S.
- Radio Netherlands Worldwide
- Rathbone Jphn Paul
- Ravsberg Fernando
- Reporters Without Borders
- Ritter Arch
- Rodriguez Andrea
- Rodriguez Rodriguez Raul
- Rodriquez Jose Luis
- Rohrlich Justin
- Romero Carlos A.
- Romeu Jorge Luis
- Romeu Rafael
- Ross Oakland
- Sagebien Julia
- Saladrigas Carlos
- Sánchez Jorge Mario
- Sánchez Juan Tomas
- Sánchez Yoani
- Sanguinetty Jorge A.
- Scarpacci Joseph L.
- Scheye Rlaine
- Sher Julian
- Spadoni Paolo
- Stevens Sarah
- Strauss Michael J.
- Stusser Rodolfo J.
- Tamayo Juan
- The Economist
- Toronto Star
- Torres Perez Ricardo
- Torres Ricardo
- Triana Cordovi Juan
- Triana Juan
- Trotta Daniel
- US Department of Agriculture
- USÓN VÍCTOR
- Valdés Dagoberto
- Vazquez Jose
- Vega Veronica
- Veiga González Roberto
- Verma Sonia
- Vidal Alejandro Pavel
- Vidal José Ramón
- Villalobos Joaquin
- Warren Cristina
- Weinreb Amelia
- Wells Cheney
- Werlau Maria C.
- Werner Johannes
- West-Durán Alan
- Whitfield Esther
- Wolfe Andy
- Wylie lana
- Zamora Antonio R.
Cuba’s New Foreign Investment Law: Amplified Discrimination against Cuban Small Enterprise Operators and in Favor of Foreign Enterprises.
17 Apr 2014
Book Review: ¿Quo vadis, Cuba? La incierta senda de las reformas
14 Apr 2014
Reordenamiento Laboral: Quién se queda, quién se va?; Labor Force Down-Sizing in Cuba’s Medical System
9 Apr 2014
Cuba’s Conception Conundrum: A Valentine’s Day Puzzle
14 Feb 2014
POTENTIALS AND PITFALLS OF CUBA’S MOVE TOWARD NON-AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES
30 Jan 2014
Book Review: Carmelo Mesa-Lago and Jorge Pérez-López, Cuba Under Raúl Castro: Assessing the Reforms
28 Oct 2013
CAN WORKERS’ DEMOCRACY IN CUBA’S NEW NON-AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES CO-EXIST WITH AUTHORITARIANISM?
7 Oct 2013
CAN CUBA RE-INDUSTRIALIZE?
5 Oct 2013
The Tax Regimen for the Mariel Export Processing Zone: More Tax Discrimination against Cuban Micro-enterprises and Citizens?
26 Sep 2013
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, 1940-2013
23 Sep 2013
“Political Science”: When Will Cuban Universities Join the World?
17 Jun 2013
“ASSESSING THE GOALS AND IMPACT OF THE CUBAN EMBARGO AFTER 50 YEARS”
25 Mar 2013
Cuba-Russia Debt Write-Off and Aircraft Leasing: Win-Lose or Win-Win?
22 Feb 2013
Raul on a Roll; Anti-Reformers in Retreat!
21 Jan 2013
The Economic Implications for Cuba of Relaxing Restrictions on the Freedom of Movement
17 Oct 2012
Cuba’s Economic Problems and Prospects in a Changing Geo-Economic Environment
13 Jul 2012
My Skepticism Runs High, but Maybe I am Wrong! Some Articles on the Moringa Oleifera.
27 Jun 2012
Still More “Good Advice” from Fidel!
26 Jun 2012
Cuba in the 2012 Yale University “Environmental Performance Index Rankings.”
14 Jun 2012
Cuba’s Debt Situation: Official Secrecy and Financial “Jineterismo”
8 Jun 2012
Cuba: Still Paying Homage to the Economic Absurdities of “Che” Guevara
20 Apr 2012
Cuba’s World Heritage Sites
16 Mar 2012
The Concept of a “Loyal Opposition” and Raul Castro’s Regime
28 Feb 2012
Poor Fidel: Repudiated by his Own Brother and Reduced to Playing “Chicken Little’”
13 Jan 2012
Johann Sebastian Bach, the “Stasi” and Cuba
9 Dec 2011
Fidel Castro: The Cowardice of Autocracy
4 Nov 2011
Liberating Cuba’s Long-Suppressed Resource: Entrepreneurship
20 Oct 2011
The “Home Hardware” Cooperative Model and its Relevance for Cuba
19 Oct 2011
Can Cuba Recover from its De-Industrialization? I. Characteristics and Causes
27 Sep 2011
Cuba: A Half-Century of Monetary Pathology and Citizen’s Freedom of Movement
23 Sep 2011
A Further Step in the Liberalization of the Regulatory and Tax Environment for Small Enterprise Has Raul Now Got the “Horse before the Cart”?
27 May 2011
Up-Date on Canadian-Cuban Economic Relations
27 May 2011
Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba: Will Raul Forge His Own Legacy?
16 Apr 2011
Cuba’s Economic Agenda and Prospects: An Optimistic View!
8 Apr 2011
Cuba’s Economic Reform Process under President Raul Castro: Challenges, Strategic Actions and Prospective Performance
4 Apr 2011
Recuperation and Development of the Bahi ́a de la Habana
29 Mar 2011
An Overview Evaluation of Economic Policy in Cuba circa 2010
15 Mar 2011
A Major Slow-Down for the Public Sector Layoff / Private Sector Job Creation Strategy
1 Mar 2011
Cuba’s Standings in Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Indices in Comparative International Perspective
3 Feb 2011
Has the US Tourism Tsunami to Cuba Already Begun?
2 Feb 2011
Cuba’s Best Friend: the Canadian Winter
25 Jan 2011
Micro-enterprise Tax Reform, 2010: The Right Direction but Still Onerous and Stultifying
10 Jan 2011
“Shifting Realities in ‘Special Period. Cuba”, LATIN AMERICAN RESEARCH REVIEW, volume 45 number 3, 2010
17 Dec 2010
Cuba’s 12 to 20 Chair Reform: Can the Small Enterprise Sector Save the Cuban Economy?
15 Dec 2010
Cuban Demography and Development: the “Conception Seasonality Puzzle”, the “Dissipating Demographic Dividend” and Emigration.
25 Nov 2010
Still the “Bestest” and the “Worstest” and Maybe the Most Opaque: Cuba in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Report
5 Nov 2010
Does Sherritt International Have a Future in Cuba?
20 Oct 2010
Jump-Starting the Introduction of Conventional Western Economics in Cuba
19 Oct 2010
Cuba’s Achievements under the Presidency of Fidel Castro: The Top Ten
14 Oct 2010
- Cuba’s New Foreign Investment Law: Amplified Discrimination against Cuban Small Enterprise Operators and in Favor of Foreign Enterprises.
Book Review: CUBAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: POLICY REFORMS AND CHALLENGES IN THE 21ST CENTURY
22 Apr 2014
Cuba’s New Foreign Investment Law: Amplified Discrimination against Cuban Small Enterprise Operators and in Favor of Foreign Enterprises.
17 Apr 2014
Cuban Doctors in Eye of Venezuelan Hurricane
16 Apr 2014
Book Review: ¿Quo vadis, Cuba? La incierta senda de las reformas
14 Apr 2014
The Venezuelan Dialogue From a Cuban Point of View
14 Apr 2014
Reordenamiento Laboral: Quién se queda, quién se va?; Labor Force Down-Sizing in Cuba’s Medical System
9 Apr 2014
As Cuba eases investment rules, many Cuban-Americans turn against the embargo
8 Apr 2014
A Belated Brief Review: Samuel Farber’s “Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment”
7 Apr 2014
ETECSA: un monopolio creciente
7 Apr 2014
Richard Feinberg: “Cuba’s New Investment Law: Open for Business?”
2 Apr 2014
- Book Review: CUBAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: POLICY REFORMS AND CHALLENGES IN THE 21ST CENTURY
- Vladimir Laplace on Time to hug a Cuban
- Biblioteca Digital Cubana | Nuestras Voces Latinas on BIBLIOTECA DIGITAL CUBANA
- Laz on Proyecciones macroeconómicas de una Cuba sin Venezuela
- Rita Maria Garcia Betancourt on Clase de economía política para el Ministerio del Interior (MININT) en Cuba, por Juan Triana Cordovi,
- Vladimir Laplace on The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did
- Arch Ritter on The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did
- Vladimir Laplace on The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did
- laz on Cuba: hacia un redimensionamiento de los derechos humanos
- Omar on The Mariel Special Zone: Economic Wagers and Realities
- Marcel on Cuba ensaya nuevas fórmulas para flexibilizar la comercialización agrícola
By Arch Ritter
Great! Canadian tourists will once again fly on Tupelov and Ilyushin aircraft on their low-cost snow-bird visits to Cuba – just like in the 1970s to 1990s. I remember one partially half-empty flight in the early 90s when the stewards requested in mid-flight that half the passengers move to the back part of the plane to balance the load, somewhat like I often do in my 14-foot boat.
Cuba looks like the big winner in the debt-write-off and aircraft leasing agreement with Russia reached yesterday, February 21, 2013. But Russia gets a small reprieve for its civilian aircraft sector.
Over and above the massive hidden subsidization provided to Cuba back in the golden age of Soviet-Cuban relations, (amounting to 15 – 30 % of Cuba’s quasi-GDP depending on the year in the 1980s), Cuba also built up a debt to the Soviet Union that amounted to around $28 billion as on 1989. It looked as if this debt would never be repaid and that Russia had given up all hope of repayment.
The debt write-off deal lets Cuba off the hook, at least in part. Cuba can now claim that it is a responsible economic partner and participant in the international economic system. This should facilitate access to new foreign credit and thus be of some benefit. Cubana also acquires Russian aircraft, presumably at a reasonable price relative to those of the leasers of European, Brazilian and Canadian aircraft, even if of unproven quality and competitiveness. This all looks good for Cuba.
What does Russia get out of the deal? A market for its aircraft. While its military aircraft industry appears to be highly competitive internationally, the civilian aircraft sector has almost disappeared in the face of Boeing, European Airbus, Embraer of Brazil and Bombardier of Canada – and with Chinese aircraft starting to make an appearance. This deal provides a market – albeit a small one– for Russia’s civilian aircraft. Perhaps the Cuban market provides a loss-leader for Russian civilian aircraft into international markets.
Cubana’s New Aircraft, the Ilyushin 94-400 and Tupelov 204SM
The above chart, based on the work of Leogrande and Thomas illustrates the magnitudes of Soviet assistance to Cuba including trade credits.
William Leogrande, and J. M. Thomas illustrates the magnitudes of the assistance. My own quantitative estimates placed the value of this subsidization at around 23% to over 36% of National Income in the 1980 to 1987 period.
Presidents Medvedev and Castro, February 21, 2013
From Pravda, Feb 22, 2013: Cuban Debt to USSR Write-Off
Russia and Cuba have initialed an agreement to settle Cuba’s debt to Russia on the loans that Cuba took from the Soviet Union. In addition, representatives of the two countries signed two agreements on the deliveries of Russian aircraft to Cuba in the amount of $650 million.
The initialed agreement “sets the general direction for further work”, a high-ranking source in the Russian delegation told Itar-Tass. The agreement was signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas.
“This document is like a declaration of political will, and it sets off extensive work, which will consist of three stages,” said the official.
“The document goes through internal procedures and coordination. Afterwards, there will be another agreement signed – the new one will contain all specifications of all the technical details, and then it will have to be ratified,” he explained. According to the official, it is a very substantial amount of debt – $35 billion.
The final agreement on writing off the debts of Cuba will be prepared within six months, Minister for Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, told reporters after the Russian-Cuban talks.
The minister assured that it will happen “before the end of the year for sure.” “I think that the term that we have agreed on – six months – will be enough to finalize the formalities,” he added.
The total volume of two agreements about the supplies of Russian planes to Cuba is $650 million, the head of the Russian Ministry of Industry said. “In total, the amount for the supply of aircraft is 650 million dollars, – he said. – This includes two agreements for three Antonov aircraft (AN-158), three Ilyushin (IL-96-400) and two Tupolev airplanes (Tu-204SM).”
Following the talks, an option agreement was signed for the supply of three An-158 airplanes. Manturov explained that these would be delivered to Cuba in addition to those that Cuba would receive this year.
Under the second agreement, Cuba will receive three Il-96-400 planes. The planes will be redesigned from the cargo to the passenger version. In addition, Cuba will receive two Tu-204SM airplanes when tests and certification procedures are complete.
In addition, the agreements, according to Manturov, stipulate for the delivery of complete sets of spare parts to maintain the operation of the aircraft, which Cuba uses already. Manturov added that all aircraft would be delivered as part of financial leasing procedures.
The Russian delegation, led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, arrived on a work visit to Cuba from Brazil, where the head of the Russian government held talks with the leadership of the republic and took part in the meeting of the bilateral high-level commission on cooperation.
Following the results of Medvedev’s official meetings in Cuba, a number of bilateral documents is expected to be signed. On Friday, the Prime Minister will visit the 22nd Havana International Book Fair, which takes place in the Cuban capital every year.
The current fair is dedicated to the 160th anniversary of the birth of Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti. Medvedev will lay flowers to his monument as part of the traditional protocol ceremony.
The flight to Cuba marked the middle of Medvedev’s Latin American tour. The prime minister crossed seven time zones on the way from Moscow to Brasilia, making a technical refueling stop in Cape Verde. As a result, Medvedev spent more than 14 hours in the air. The trip to Cuba added two time zones to this route and a seven-hour flight.
Due to the nine-hour time difference between Havana and Moscow, even morning events in Medvedev’s Cuban work schedule fall for the evening time in Moscow.
A major analysis of US policy towards Cuba has just been published by the Cuba Study Group. A brief Introduction and Executive Summary are presented below. The complete study is available here: Cuba Study Group, Restoring Executive Authority, Feb 21, 2013
“Supporting the bill was good election-year politics in Florida, but it undermined whatever chance I might have if I won a second term to lift the embargo in return for positive changes within Cuba. It almost appeared that Castro was trying to force us to maintain the embargo as an excuse for the economic failures of his regime.” —President Bill Clinton
“To make matters worse, the economic fence has helped to fuel the idea of a place besieged, where dissent comes to be equated with an act of treason. The exterior blockade has strengthened the interior blockade.” —Yoani Sanchez
The U.S. embargo toward Cuba is a collection of prohibitions, restrictions and sanctions derived from several laws that has been in effect for more than 50 years. Taken together and compounded with the designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” they result in the most severe set of sanctions and restrictions applied against any current adversary of the United States. This collection of sanctions was first codified into law by the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (“Torricelli”), severely tightened by the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (“Helms-Burton”), and modified by the Trade Sanctions and Reform Act of 2000 (“TSRA”), thus transferring almost absolute authority over U.S. policy toward Cuba from the Executive Branch to the U.S. Congress.
The codification of the U.S. embargo against Cuba has failed to accomplish its objectives, as stated in Helms-Burton, of causing regime change and restoring democracy in Cuba. Continuing to ignore this obvious truth is not only counterproductive to the interests of the United States, but also increasingly damaging to Cuban civil society, including the more than 400,000 Cubans now working as licensed private entrepreneurs, because it places the burden of sanctions squarely on their shoulders to bear.
At a time when Cuba seems headed toward a path of change and reforms, albeit slower than desired, and a real debate seems to be emerging within Cuba’s elite regarding its future, the inflexibility of U.S. policy has the ironic effect of hurting and delaying the very changes it seeks to produce by severely limiting Cuba’s ability to implement major economic reforms and strengthening the hand of the reactionaries, rather than the reformers, within the Cuban government.
Moreover, Helms-Burton and related statutory provisions in Torricelli and TSRA deny the United States the flexibility to address dynamic conditions in Cuba in a strategic and proactive way. They effectively tie the President’s hands in responding to developments on the Island, placing the impetus for taking advantage of the processes of change in Cuba in hands of hard-liners among Cuba’s ruling elites, whose interests are best served by the perpetuation of the embargo.
The Cuba Study Group is publishing this whitepaper to acknowledge that a Cuba policy fundamentally based on blanket unilateral sanctions and isolation has been grossly ineffective for more than half a century; it disproportionately hurts the Cuban people and is counterproductive to the creation of an enabling transitional environment in Cuba where civil society can prosper and bring about the desired social, political and economic changes for which we long.
Thus, we call for the repeal of the Helms-Burton Act, its related statutory provisions in Torricelli and TSRA, and for the restoration of authority over U.S.-Cuba policy to the Executive Branch. It is our belief that we can no longer afford to ignore the failure of this legislation.
Seventeen years after its enactment, the Helms-Burton Act—which further codified the sanctions framework commonly referred to as the U.S. embargo against Cuba and conditions its suspension on the existence of a transition or democratic government in Cuba—has proven to be a counterproductive policy that has failed to achieve its stated purposes in an increasingly interconnected world.
Helms-Burton has failed to advance the cause of freedom and prosperity for the Cuban people, to encourage free and democratic elections in Cuba, to secure international sanctions against the Cuban government, or to advance the national security interests of the United States. It provides a policy framework for U.S. support to the Cuban people in response to the formation of a transition government in Cuba; yet, the all-or-nothing nature of its conditions for suspension undermine that very framework by effectively placing control over changes to embargo sanctions in the hands of the current Cuban leadership. Simply stated, it is an archaic policy that hinders the ability of the United States to respond swiftly, intelligently and in a nuanced way to developments on the island.
Worst of all, the failures of Helms-Burton have more recently produced a tragic paradox: Policies once designed to promote democratization through isolation are now stifling civil society, including an emerging class of private entrepreneurs and democracy advocates whose rise represents the best hope for a free and open society in Cuba in more than 50 years.
The Cuba Study Group believes that the most effective way to break the deadlock of “all-or-nothing” conditionality and remedy the ineffectiveness of current U.S.-Cuba policy is to de-codify the embargo through the repeal of Helms-Burton and related statutory provisions in Torricelli and TSRA that limit the Executive Branch’s authority over U.S. foreign policy toward the Island (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Helms-Burton and related statutory provisions”). De-codifying the embargo would allow the Executive Branch the flexibility to respond strategically to developments in the Island as they take place; using the entire range of foreign policy tools at its disposal—including diplomatic, economic, legal, political and cultural—to advance the cause of human rights and incentivize changes in Cuba.
The primary consequences of Helms-Burton and related statutory provisions have been to isolate the United States from Cuba and to serve as a political scapegoat for the Cuban government’s many failures. It has become a “Great Crutch” to all sides of the Cuba debate. First, for ordinary Cubans, their struggle has fallen hostage to an international dispute between their government and the United States, which they see themselves as powerless to affect. For the Cuban leadership, it has become easier to blame the embargo than to adopt the difficult reforms needed to fix their economy. Lastly, for defenders of the status-quo within the Cuban-American community, it has become easier to wait for the United States to solve our national problem rather than engage in the difficult and necessary processes of reconciliation and reunification.
Helms-Burton indiscriminately impacts all sectors of Cuban society, including democracy advocates and private entrepreneurs, causing disproportionate economic damage to the most vulnerable segments of the population. Conditioning our policy of resource denial on sweeping political reforms has only served to strengthen the Cuban government. The scarce resources available in an authoritarian Cuba have been and continue to be allocated primarily based on political priorities, thereby increasing the state’s relative power and its ability to control its citizens.
The majority of American voters, Cuban-Americans and Cuban democracy advocates in the Island have rejected isolation as an element of U.S. policy toward Cuba and have called on the U.S. government to implement a policy of greater contact and exchange with Cuban society. As Cuba undergoes a slow and uncertain process of reforms, the continued existence of blanket U.S. sanctions only hinders the types of political reforms that Helms-Burton demands.
Instead of maintaining a rigid policy that ties our hands and obsesses over hurting the Cuban leadership, U.S. policy-makers should adopt a results-oriented policy that focuses primarily on empowering the Cuban people while simultaneously pressing the Cuban government to cease its repressive practices and respect fundamental human rights. Repealing Helms-Burton would also free civil society development and assistance programs to be implemented outside of a contentious sanctions framework.
Furthermore, the Cuba Study Group believes that any forthcoming congressional review of current legislation relating to Cuba, such as a review of the Cuban Adjustment Act, must require a review of the totality of the legislative framework codified in Helms-Burton and related statutory provisions so that the United States may finally develop a coherent policy toward the Island.
While we wait on the U.S. Congress to act, the Executive Branch should continue to take proactive steps through its limited licensing authority to safeguard and expand the free flow of contacts and resources to the Island, encourage independent economic and political activity in Cuba, and increase the relative power of Cuban private actors. The U.S. should pursue these courses of action independent of actions taken by the Cuban government so as not to place the reigns of U.S. policy in the hands of Cuban proponents of the status quo.
Once again Miriam Celaya said it best.
From her Blog, Sin Evasion/ Without Evasion
The recent ascent of the Cuban President-General to the head of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the silent tolerance or evident indulgence of thirty democratic nations, even before the arrogance that permeated his speeches, highlights the political cross-dressing of “our America”.
Some specific details on the speeches of Castro II, like lessons he offered his… counterparts(?) with regard to drug trafficking and consumption, based on the Cuban experience, on the strategic utility of the death penalty and the egregious disrespect he demonstrated against the will of the majority of the Puerto Rican people – who recently endorsed their sovereign decision to remain a commonwealth – when he expressed his regret at the absence of that island nation at the conclave, and his wish that one day it would serve on the CELAC, are just an example of how we need to advance the region’s democratic culture.
The General’s blunders were welcomed by undaunted representatives of Latin-American democracies attending the meeting, who even applauded the rudeness of the old former guerrilla, wearing a civilian costume for the occasion. So we attended, among smiles, compliments, and handshakes, the alliance of democratically elected governments in the region – whose countries have multiparty systems, freedom of movement, of expression and of the press, freedom of association and other civil advantages that embellish democracies – with the ancient Antillean satrapy, thus legitimizing his dictatorship. The new Latin-American principle was explicitly made: gloss over what they have termed “our ideological and political differences in order to consolidate “the unity of our sister countries” and maintain “the respect to self-determination” of each peoples.
Obviously, the thirty-plus Latin American governments meeting in Santiago de Chile decided that the totalitarianism imposed on Cuba is not only an “ideology”, but has long remained in power thanks to the self-determination of the Cuban people (though we have to admit that they may have a point in the latter). Perhaps Chavez’s oil, the subtle detail that the new capital of Venezuela is located in Havana or that the investments of certain Latin-American enterprises in Cuba might have had something to do with such regional empathy.
Another thing that was not clear to me was what commitments the Cuban government might have entered into with the CELAC chairmanship, what advantages Cubans could expect from those commitments and what the projections are for the medium and long terms as far as the progress of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. At least from what they aired in Cuba, the speeches were geared more towards historical references that would justify our supposed common identity, towards the need to overcome poverty, and the command to create a common front in the presence of powerful economies of the developed nations of the First World. Too many clichés in the speeches. As is customary, there were also many “what’s” but few “how’s”.
In this vein, while in Cuba’s interior the dictatorship does not give one iota about civil liberties, it flaunts the presidency of the umbrella organization of democratic nations in the region. The General’s aggressive speech, presenting the violence of the Cuban experience as the legitimate letter of the government, seems to enjoy the complicity of those attending the regional event while the loneliness and helplessness of the Cuban people escalates. The dictatorship’s summit has ended, and, as for me, if those governments exemplify our siblings, then I’d rather be an only child.
CARLO DADE /The Globe and Mail/February 20, 2013
The abridged Globe and Mail version is here: “No choice but to walk Washington’s tightrope”
The complete unabridged version is presented below, courtesy of Carlo Dade.
As hard as it may be to believe, one of the most difficult foreign files for any Canadian government to manage is the Cuba file.
The importance of Cuba, throughout the hemisphere is as a symbol. The country is of marginal, if any, economic interest and despite theatrics and histrionics by the Americans is not a real security threat to anyone in the hemisphere larger than say Grenada.
The importance of Cuba in the rest of the hemisphere is its presence as an open sore of a reminder of centuries of American bullying, humiliation and degradation. It is hard to overstate the degree of visceral anger that U.S. policy toward Cuba elicits in the region. Having run afoul of the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, the agency in charge of enforcing the U.S. embargo, this writer can, to some degree, appreciate that anger. Cuba’s prominence also comes from the ease with which any Latin American government, even one of the few right of centre governments like Colombia, earns cheap points at home and with its neighbours to burnish its “el pueblo unido” credentials by kicking the United States without incurring any real cost; given U.S. history with the region the Americans can and will only protest so much.
With Canada things are markedly different. Cuba is important as a symbol of what distinguishes Canada from the United States. Most Canadians strongly disagree with U.S. policy toward Cuba and find it offensive, but instead of anger they are more embarrassed for their neighbour. While the U.S., on the other hand, sees no need to afford Canada the same leeway it affords Latin Americans on Cuba.
And that is where Canada begins to run into problems that its friends in Latin America miss.
Twice each year the U.S. embassy in Ottawa has to certify that Canada is, more or less, in compliance with the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, also known as Helms-Burton. The gist of the exercise is to demonstrate that, despite clearly violating the intent if not the letter of Helms Burton, Canada is doing enough other things to push reform in Cuba to earn a pass from direct sanction by the U.S. The exercise is essentially a series of winks and nods on each side followed by a round of beers, mostly to assuage sore feelings on the Canadian side. And each year the State department and congress go along with this.
Canada has of course vociferously opposed Helms Burton, raised challenges under the NAFTA and adopted laws to counter it. In this it has international law and public opinion on its side. But should the Americans decide to take unilateral action that combination would prove as effective in defending Canadian interests on Cuba as it did on softwood lumber.
As has been seen time and again, all it takes is one member of congress such as one of the easily-riled congressional Cuban lobby, including the out-of-state gringos who raise substantial money in southern Florida, or one particularly well-placed congresswoman to raise a fuss and Canada is left with nothing but a wink and a nod to cover its privates while an Alberta clipper of U.S. unilateralism flaps around it.
Yes, cooler heads would prevail – eventually. But a lot of damage would be done in the meantime.
Not convinced? Well, since when have reason, common sense or self-interest been an insurance policy with any U.S. congress and with this one in particular?
The fine line that Canada walks on Cuba is an object lesson on the Faustian bargain that the country has struck to enable it to get rich and fat off of easy and privileged access to the U.S. market. Criticise the government if you will but what choice does Canada really have? Before answering think of the $1 billion in daily trade across the border or the neighbour who holds one of the one-in-seven jobs in Canada dependent on an open U.S. border.
Canada can, does and will have differences with the U.S. But is has to pick its fights carefully. Avoiding going to war in Iraq makes that list. Having Cuba attend a meeting for which it does not qualify does not.
Despite limited room for manoeuvre Canada has managed a robust policy of engagement with Cuba. This is a policy that has been and is clearly not an embrace of U.S. policy, but neither is it in line with the rest of Latin America.
Canada has a full-fledged aid program in the country that is carried out in consultation with the Cuban government. Canada invests and trades with the country is open to travel and will welcome Cuban athletes to Toronto for the next PanAm games. All without controversy or second thought.
But Canada also recognises that Cuba is dictatorship; something the rest of the hemisphere seems to have forgotten in its fit of pique with the U.S.
While Canada welcomes Cuban participation in hemispheric events, it draws the line at extending to it the same recognition and privileges as the rest of the democracies in the hemisphere; or, to put it more clearly, the rest of the non-dictatorial regimes in the hemisphere. To that point Cuba does not and will not get invited to a meeting the explicit purpose of which is to convene – democratically – elected heads of government. Doing so is as egregious a sin as the U.S. embargo against Cuba and would make a mockery of the decades long struggle against dictatorship in the hemisphere; a fight to which Canada has contributed much.
Looked at in comparison to the U.S. and Latin American positions, Canadian policy toward Cuba seems to have a monopoly on reason and common sense. Rather than apologise for this Canada needs to tell the rest of the hemisphere to knock off the cheap criticism and cut Canada some slack.
By Prof. Peter McKenna. Halifax Chronicle Herald
Original Here: “Canada should engage Cuba”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird should be commended for undertaking his current six-country tour of Latin America, including stops in Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. But it is his visit to Cuba that is the most interesting and significant.
Canadian-Cuban relations during the Harper years have suffered badly and, for too long, have been locked in an unproductive diplomatic holding pattern. To an outside observer, it has looked as if neo-conservative ideology, underscored by lethargy in the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa, has supplanted pragmatism and common sense.
One hopes, then, that Baird’s visit can help to unshackle the bilateral relationship and return it to a sense of normalcy and “constructive engagement.”
Indeed, we can’t on the one hand criticize the U.S. government for a failed Cuba policy (after 50 years of ineffective economic sanctions), and then side with the Americans on excluding Havana from the Summit of the Americas process. Nor should we mimic the U.S. approach of isolating Cuba simply because we don’t like the way it organizes itself politically and electorally.
Additionally, we should not forget that Cuba punches well above its weight within the wider region — having just assumed the leadership of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. It has full diplomatic relations with almost every country in Latin America, and has hosted a slew of presidential visits over the last couple of years.
Equally important, more than 30,000 Cuban health professionals are working throughout the Americas and boosting Cuba’s hemispheric standing. Havana’s record on providing low-cost anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS sufferers in Latin America and the Caribbean is another feather in its cap.
Notwithstanding comments by former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who castigated Stephen Harper for the actions of Canadian mining companies that exploit struggling communities in many Latin American countries, the Canadian government should seek to strengthen its relationship with Havana.
The minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy, has already done some important work in this area. She has properly recognized that there are huge opportunities for Canada and Cuba to work constructively together on a wide range of issues, including trade, tourism, energy and people-to-people contacts.
Baird’s visit to Havana, if all goes well, could set the stage for a prime ministerial visit to Cuba — or a visit by a senior-ranking Cuban government official (Raúl Castro perhaps) to Ottawa in the near term.
But as former prime minister Jean Chretien found out during his own April 1998 visit to Cuba, it makes no sense to press the Cubans hard on the human-rights front or to attach certain conditions to a continued warming in bilateral relations. Yes, we should raise the issue of democratization and respect for political rights and freedoms; but if we hope to influence them, Baird should do so in a respectful and non-accusatory manner (and without any pre-conditions).
Having said that, we should not forget that Canada does have some cards to play with respect to the Cubans — not the least of which is over $1.5 billion in two-way trade. The number of Canadian tourists visiting the island has also grown to more than 900,000, another indication of how people-to-people exchanges between the two countries have grown exponentially since the mid-1990s.
Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp., which is involved in tourism development, iron-ore extraction and oil exploration, is the single largest foreign investor in the country. Simply put, Canada has had a long and storied relationship with Cuba, across a wide swath of policy areas, since 1959 (and was one of only two countries not to sever diplomatic relations with Havana in 1962).
Canada, then, could enhance its position and prestige in the wider hemisphere by standing up to the Americans on Cuba, and telling Washington to rescind its economic blockade and to remove any ridiculous references to Cuba as a terrorist-supporting country. It should inform Havana that it will be seeking Cuba’s presence at the next Americas summit, should there be one in Panama.
While most of what Fidel Castro said in mid-2012 can be ignored, he was right about highlighting the constructive engagement approach of former Canadian prime ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien toward Cuba. In fact, we need to jettison the ideologically tinged rhetoric of the Harperites and focus on positive interaction, co-operative dialogue and growing our commercial exchange.
Baird’s visit, then, will not only send the right signals to the Cubans — especially if he handles the diplomacy with deftness — but it will also substantially increase Canada’s prestige and image throughout the wider Americas.
Peter McKenna is professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island.
Human rights should be an integral part of Canada’s Cuba policy
February 19, 2013 By YVON GRENIER /TheChronicleHerald.ca
The Harper government has been distinctly forceful in its recent statements on human rights violations in the world. One peculiar exception to this rule has been Cuba.
After a few impromptu comments years ago by the former junior minister for the Americas, Peter Kent, on the dictatorial nature of the Cuban regime, our government (in particular, Mr. Kent’s successor, Diane Ablonczy) has issued nothing but optimistic comments on the “process of economic reform and liberalization in Cuba” (Ablonczy, January 2012).
And yet, my colleague Peter McKenna is worried that Foreign Minister John Baird may “press the Cubans hard on the human rights front” during his visit to Havana (re: “Canada should engage Cuba,” Feb. 16 opinion piece).
Prof. McKenna does not elaborate on the issue of human rights violation in Cuba, so let me quote Human Rights Watch: “Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent.” As HRW documents in great detail, the Cuban government “enforces political conformity using harassment, invasive surveillance, threats of imprisonment, and travel restrictions.”
Human rights organizations in Cuba and abroad have reported an increase in the number of arbitrary detentions for political reasons over the past year (up to more than a thousand a month). Shouldn’t our government condemn that publicly, and depart from a long bipartisan policy of silence on Cuba? After all, we constantly issue statements about human rights violations abroad.
To mention a few examples, last fall, in addition to well-publicized statements on Iran and Syria, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade issued statements to the effect that the government of Canada “has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to uphold democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law” (Sept. 25). It also urged “swift resolution of all outstanding issues” in Sudan and South Sudan, and proclaimed to be “deeply troubled by the reported Sept. 25 travel ban of former President Nasheed in Malé, Maldives” — this prompting Minister Baird to “directly raise the persecution of 19 other Maldives Democratic Party politicians and party officials to President Waheed today” (Sept. 28). Canada also stood “strong as a supporter of the Ukrainian people as they seek to build a nation based on democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law” (Oct. 2).
Why are we not using the same language on Cuba?
We are right to oppose the U.S. embargo (not a “blockade”), like most other countries on Earth: There is nothing distinctly Canadian in that policy. But the U.S. embargo is not the main obstacle to democratization in Cuba: The current Cuban regime is.
Here we can take Europe as a model. It has both diplomatic and commercial relations with Cuba, but it routinely speaks up against human rights violations on the island. The European parliament awarded the Sakharov human rights prize to two Cuban human rights activists (Oswaldo Paya in 2002 and Guillermo Farinas in 2010) and to the Ladies in White (2005), a group of women whose husbands are jailed in Cuba. The recent detention of another activist, dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, was condemned by the EU, the U.S. and several Latin American governments. But not by Canada.
Cuba is the last dictatorship in the Americas, a region that is supposedly a foreign policy priority of this government. Canadians expect their government to be a leader in the human rights field. No exception.
The original complete essay is located here: Castrocare in Crisis
Laurie Garrett; Foreign Policy, July-August, 2010
Hospital Hermanos Ameijeiras
Cuba is a Third World country that aspires to First World medicine and health. Its health-care system is not only a national public good but also a vital export commodity. Under the Castro brothers’ rule, Cubans’ average life expectancy has increased from 58 years (in 1950) to 77 years (in 2009), giving Cuba the world’s 55th-highest life expectancy ranking, only six places behind the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cuba has the second-lowest child mortality rate in the Americas (the United States places third) and the lowest per capita HIV/AIDS prevalence. Fifty years ago, the major causes of disease and death in Cuba were tropical and mosquito-borne microbes. Today, Cuba’s major health challenges mirror those of the United States: cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic ailments related to aging, tobacco use, and excessive fat consumption.
By any measure, these achievements are laudable. But they have come at tremendous financial and social cost. The Cuban government’s 2008 budget of $46.2 billion allotted $7.2 billion (about 16 percent) to direct health-care spending. Only Cuba’s expenditures for education exceeded those for health, and Cuba’s health costs are soaring as its aging population requires increasingly expensive chronic care.
Cuba’s economic situation has been dire since 1989, when the country lost its Soviet benefactors and its economy experienced a 35 percent contraction. Today, Cuba’s major industries — tourism, nickel mining, tobacco and rum production, and health care — are fragile. Cubans blame the long-standing U.S. trade embargo for some of these strains and are wildly optimistic about the transformations that will come once the embargo is lifted.
Overlooked in these dreamy discussions of lifestyle improvements, however, is that Cuba’s health-care industry will likely be radically affected by any serious easing in trade and travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. If policymakers on both sides of the Florida Straits do not take great care, the tiny Caribbean nation could swiftly be robbed of its greatest triumph. First, its public health network could be devastated by an exodus of thousands of well-trained Cuban physicians and nurses. Second, for-profit U.S. companies could transform the remaining health-care system into a prime destination for medical tourism from abroad. The very strategies that the Cuban government has employed to develop its system into a major success story have rendered it ripe for the plucking by the U.S. medical industry and by foreigners eager for affordable, elective surgeries in a sunny climate. In short, although the U.S. embargo strains Cuba’s health-care system and its overall economy, it may be the better of two bad options.
In the long run, Cuba will need to develop a taxable economic base to generate government revenues — which would mean inviting foreign investment and generating serious employment opportunities. The onus is on the Castro government to demonstrate how the regime could adapt to the easing or lifting of the U.S. embargo. Certainly, Cuban leaders already know that their health triumphs would be at risk.
The United States, too, has tough responsibilities. How the U.S. government handles its side of the post-embargo transition will have profound ramifications for the people of Cuba. The United States could allow the marketplace to dictate events, resulting in thousands of talented professionals leaving Cuba and dozens of U.S. companies building a vast offshore for-profit empire of medical centers along Cuba’s beaches. But it could and should temper the market’s forces by enacting regulations and creating incentives that would bring a rational balance to the situation.
For clues about what might constitute a reasonable approach that could benefit all parties, including the U.S. medical industry, Washington should study the 2003 Commonwealth Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health Workers. The health ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations forged this agreement after the revelation that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service had hired third-party recruiters to lure to the country hundreds of doctors and nurses from poor African, Asian, and Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth, including those ravaged by HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In some cases, the recruiters managed to persuade as many as 300 health-care workers to leave every day. Although the agreement is imperfect, it has reduced abuses and compensated those countries whose personnel were poached.
Cuba’s five decades of public achievement in the health-care sector have resulted in a unique cradle-to-grave community-based approach to preventing illness, disease, and death. No other socialist society has ever equaled Cuba in improving the health of its people. Moreover, Cuba has exported health care to poor nations the world over. In its purest form, Cuba offers an inspiring, standard-setting vision of government responsibility for the health of its people. It would be a shame if the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba killed that vision.
President Raúl Castro Ruz
Head of Cuba’s Council of State
Chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
Dear President Castro,
When you were sworn in as chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) for one year at the end of the recent CELAC summit in the Chilean capital of Santiago, you undertook to act “with total respect for international law, the United Nations charter and the fundamental principles governing relations between countries.” In your 28 January speech, you also declared your intention to reject “interference, aggression, threats and use of force” and to promote “dialogue.”
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, hopes that these undertakings will quickly be given concrete expression in your own country. Cuba’s legitimate desire to participate in the process of regional integration and the desire for openness seen in certain reforms currently under way need to be accompanied by long-awaited progress in respect for fundamental freedoms
The migration law reform that took effect on 14 January is a major step forward. It means that Cubans who want to travel abroad no longer need an exit permit and are guaranteed the right to return. It must be applied to all citizens without distinction. The blogger Yoani Sánchez, who has obtained a passport, must be allowed to return at the end of the regional trip she plans to begin soon. The door should also be open for all the journalists and dissidents who want to come back after being forced into exile, and for all those in Cuba who would now like to travel. The dialogue you seek makes this promise imperative.
This dialogue will only be possible if Cuba stops cracking down on citizens “guilty” of providing domestic news coverage that is not controlled by the state. The authorities must abolish this control at once, recognize diverse news reporting and release all those who have been unjustly imprisoned. Your stated desire to comply with international law and the UN charter means that your government must now urgently ratify the two UN conventions on civil and political rights that it signed in 2008. And several dramatic situations can be resolved without waiting a moment longer.
Hablemos Press reporter Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who has been held for nearly five months, is facing a possible three-year jail term for “insulting the head of state.” In fact, this independent journalist is being punished for publishing information about cholera and dengue epidemics that was eventually confirmed by the government.
Luis Antonio Torres, a journalist employed by the state-owned daily Granma, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2012 on unsubstantiated spying charges after reporting information of public interest about the negative consequences of certain infrastructural projects. Is talking about embarrassing facts tantamount to conspiracy against the state?
We are similarly concerned about Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, a recognized writer and intellectual and winner of various prizes, who was sentenced to five years in prison on 8 December on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” after a trial with bribed witnesses. All he did was criticize your government on his blog. He could be arrested to begin serving his sentence at any moment.
Finally, Reporters Without Borders, has learned that the independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño was arrested in Havana on 5 February just for photographing state inspectors harassing street vendors, and that he is still being held. Does this kind of obstruction and persecution really help the critical debate you advocate?
Internet still held up despite ALBA-1
Information is needed to underpin the exchange of ideas and opinions that makes a society live and evolve. This is why Internet progress should benefit all Cubans. The ALBA-1 submarine cable linking Cuba to Venezuela, which recently came into service, now makes it possible to overcome the limitations on Internet connections.
You have often blamed these limitations on the impossibility of using other cables because of the embargo of Cuba that the United States has imposed since 1962, an embargo whose lifting we have repeatedly requested. Our position on this is unchanged. The ALBA-1 cable must now be used for all Cubans to have unimpeded access to the Internet.
We thank you in advance for the attention you give to this letter.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
Photo from Prensa Latina; Raul Defending Liberty with CELAC
Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, handing over to Raul