• 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. It includes analyses and observations of the author, Arch Ritter, as well as hyper-links, abstracts, summaries, and commentaries relating to other research works from academic, governmental, media, non-governmental organizations and international institutions.
    Commentary, critique and discussion on any of the postings is most welcome.
    This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' original 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:
    "... 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."

New Publication: CUBA EMPRESARIAL: EMPRENDEDORES ANTE UNA CAMBIANTE POLÍTICA PÚBLICA

An up-dated Spanish-language version of the book ENTREPRENEURIAL CUBA: THE CHANGING POLICY LANDSCAPE, by Ted Henken and Archibald Ritter has been published on November 19, 2020 by Editorial Hypermedia Del Libro of Spain .

The publication details of the volume, entitled CUBA EMPRESARIAL: EMPRENDEDORES ANTE UNA CAMBIANTE POLÍTICA PÚBLICA,  are as follows:

  • Paperback : 536 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1948517612
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1948517614
  • Dimensions : 6 x 1.34 x 9 inches
  • Item Weight : 1.96 pounds
  • Publisher : Editorial Hypermedia Inc
  • Publication Date: November 19, 2020
  • Language: : Spanish

Paperback, $21.90

Nuestro nuevo libro sobre el sector empresarial de Cuba, “Entre el dicho y el hecho va un buen trecho” a la venta AHORA a un precio accesible: US $21.90;

Cuba empresarial: Emprendedores ante una cambiante política pública (Spanish Edition): Henken, Ted A, Ritter, Archibald R. M.: 9781948517614: Amazon.com: Books

Carmelo Mesa-Lago
Hasta ahora, este libro es el más completo y profundo sobre la iniciativa privada en Cuba.

Cardiff Garcia

Este libro aporta una lúcida explicación a la particular interacción entre el incipiente sector privado en Cuba y los sectores gubernamentales dominantes. 

Sergio Díaz-Briquets

Cuba empresarial es una lectura obligada para los interesados en la situación actual del país. Su publicación es oportuna no sólo por lo que revela sobre la situación económica, social y política, sino también por sus percepciones sobre la evolución futura de Cuba. 

 
Richard Feinberg

Los autores reconocen la importancia de las reformas de Raúl Castro, aunque las consideran insuficientes para sacar a la economía cubana de su estancamiento. 

 

 

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‘INVISIBLE CAMPAIGN’ AND THE SPECTER OF SOCIALISM: WHY CUBAN AMERICANS FELL HARD FOR TRUMP

BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES

Miami Herald, NOVEMBER 19, 2020 11:00 AM,

Original Article: Why Cuban Americans Fell  for Trump

Following his surprising victory in 2016, Donald Trump claimed he got 80 percent of the Cuban-American vote in South Florida.

He was exaggerating.

But 2020 was a different story.

Years of courting voters with tough policies toward Cuba and Venezuela, a strong pre-pandemic economy, an unmatched Republican ground game in Miami-Dade and a targeted messaging instilling fear about socialism coming to America helped the president rally Cuban-American voters, part of the reason he carried Florida.

Although Trump lost the election, his inroads into the Cuban-American community in South Florida suggests trouble ahead for the Democratic Party.

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Politics & Policy in the Sunshine State

Definite numbers for 2020 are still in dispute, but estimates reflect the Democratic Party’s poor performance among Cuban Americans, and among Hispanics in general, in Florida.

While Trump won more Cuban-American votes in 2016 than Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade County, his margin was somewhere between 54 and 57 percent, below Mitt Romney’s 60 percent share in 2012.

Separate analyses of tallies in more than 30 Cuban-majority precincts in Hialeah, Westchester and the suburbs of southwest Miami-Dade by Republican and Democratic strategists suggest that four years later, Trump made double-digit gains, getting as much as 69 percent of the Cuban-American vote. Giancarlo Sopo, a Trump campaign staffer, and Carlos Odio, director of the Democratic research firm EquisLabs, independently concluded that President-elect Joe Biden’s percentage of the Cuban-American vote in Miami-Dade was in the low 30s.

But this might not be the whole picture, said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor and pollster at Florida International University. While Trump undeniably improved his numbers in heavily Cuban areas like Hialeah and Westchester, Gamarra has found less enthusiasm in more wealthy enclaves like Coral Gables and Key Biscayne.

“If you’re going to analyze the Cuban vote, you need to account for the vote in the entire county,” he said. He cited several exit polls and others done close to the election of people who had already voted, including one poll he was involved in, showing that Trump got around 55 percent of the Cuban-American vote.

Fernand Amandi, a long-term Democratic political strategist who runs the firm Bendixen & Amandi International, believes Biden’s share of the Cuban-American vote in Miami-Dade might be about 38 percent, and a bit higher statewide, about 41 percent, according to exit polls and surveys his firm conducted.

But Sopo and Odio disagree with these estimates because many polls proved to be off during this election cycle. If Trump had won only a 55 percent share of the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade, that number would not reflect the enthusiasm shown by pro-Trump Cuban-American voters nor help explain his overall winning margins in the state, where he got around 371,000 votes more than Biden.

Regardless of the final number, all agree the Biden campaign was not up to the challenge.

“It’s still a poor result,” Amandi said, calling the Biden campaign at times “invisible” in Miami-Dade County. The COVID-19 pandemic had much to do with it, Odio added, since the campaign did not knock on doors till weeks before the election and decided to limit in-person events, and was unable to match Trump’s energetic rallies.

But Trump never really stopped campaigning in Florida. For years now, the Democrats have not been able to match the strong presence of the Republican Party in the community, which has given many Cuban Americans “an identity,” Florida International University professor Guillermo Grenier wrote in a two-part analysis of the Cuban vote. He is the director of the FIU poll that every two years surveys the opinions of Cuban-American voters residing in Miami-Dade.

“The fundamental problem is that the Democrats took their foot off the accelerator from engaging with the Cuban community,” said Amandi, who was part of the team that helped Barack Obama win the support of Cuban and other Hispanic voters in the county. “Meanwhile, the Trump campaign never stopped in its efforts to win the Cuban vote for four years.”

While Cuban Americans have been a reliable Republican voting bloc, supporting the traditional themes of low taxes, small government and family values, there was “a perfect storm” of things particular to this election that ended up helping Republicans, Odio said.

He cites a prosperous economy, the strongman aspect of Trump’s character that apparently appealed to some Cubans and other Hispanics, and the election to Congress of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which further fueled the narrative about the Democratic Party steering to the left. Acts of vandalism amid protests over police brutality and slogans like “Defund the police” were also exploited by the Trump campaign and Trump’s surrogates to instill fear of a progressive left that would dictate Biden’s agenda.

HIALEAH FELL HARD FOR TRUMP

The Democrats also learned the hard way that “demography is not destiny,” as the American political scientist Ruy Teixeira wrote in his influential essay warning that changes in the electorate do not always favor the Democrats.

For many years, Democrats assumed that as older Cuban exiles were being replaced by new Cuban arrivals and younger voters, Cuban Americans would become less Republican. The 2020 presidential election was a surprise: The FIU 2020 poll found that many Cuban immigrants coming after 2010 had been registering Republican and becoming strong Trump supporters.

“We ran an innovative grassroots and advertising effort that directly engaged newer Cuban arrivals — who had been largely ignored by both parties — as well as young U.S.-born Cuban Americans in ways that were culturally relevant to them and different than how you’d engage my abuelos’ generation,” said Sopo, a Miami native who was one of the architects of the messaging targeting Hispanics in Florida.

The campaign ran a Spanish video ad featuring popular Cuban actress Susana Pérez, who is better known among Cubans who came to U.S. after 1980. Another radio ad with fictional characters “Marita y Yesenia” mimics the speaking style and slang used by recent arrivals.

Most observers agree that there is no single issue that could explain why most Cuban Americans mobilized so forcefully this year to support the president.

Take Hialeah, a working-class city with the most Obamacare enrollees in the nation and where many recently arrived Cubans live. The Trump administration asked the courts to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act. Yet, the Democratic Party was unable to exploit this to its advantage, and Trump grew his share of the vote by 18 points in the city, compared to 2016, beating Biden 67% to 32.5%, according to Sopo’s analysis.

There have been several attempts to explain why Cuban Americans in Hialeah would vote for a candidate whose policies could affect their healthcare or have already limited their ability to travel to the island or reunite with family members.

Gamarra believes that working-class Cuban Americans do not behave that differently from non-college-educated white voters, a core group in Trump’s base. And Odio argues that many might be attracted to the image of the successful businessman, who is politically incorrect and stands against Washington’s establishment and the media.

Trump’s nationalist populism also seems to have resonated with many Cuban Americans.

The chorus of a viral song by the Cuban musical group Tres de La Habana that later became part a Trump campaign ad says, “If you feel proud to be Cuban and American, raise your hands!”

But beyond issues of cultural identity and nationalist rhetoric, a lot of the burden for Biden doing poorly among Cuban Americans is on the decisions taken by the Democratic Party and the Biden campaign, most analysts agreed.

Gamarra said besides “being late,” the Biden campaign made other mistakes, like deciding it was not worth investing much in improving their numbers with Cuban Americans and taking for granted that other Hispanic groups, like Colombians, would vote Democratic.

The Biden campaign acknowledged it didn’t need to win the support of a majority of Cuban Americans to win Florida but was hoping to match Clinton’s numbers or compensate for those votes somewhere else, for example, with non-Cuban Hispanics. That didn’t happen either.

“We built a new conservative coalition in South Florida consisting of Cubans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in Miami-Dade County,” Sopo wrote in a memo obtained by the Miami Herald. ‘This netted approximately 255,657 additional votes for President Trump in Miami-Dade in 2020, which accounted for around 69% of his 371,686-vote victory over Joe Biden in Florida.”

THE SOCIALISM DEBATE IN MIAMI

Amandi was one of the first in sounding the alarm about the Democrats’ problem with Cuban voters, especially regarding their lack of response to attacks portraying their candidates as socialists or communists, which were successfully deployed against Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race.

“The biggest mistake was when it was decided that the accusations about socialism and communism were not going to be rebuked because they were considered absurd,” Amandi said.

The Trump campaign made a concerted effort to misleadingly portray Biden as a socialist, posting manipulated images of him embracing Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro and claiming he was “the candidate of Castro-Chavismo” in one of its most viewed ads in South Florida. Such accusations found fertile soil in Miami Cuban media and were amplified on local Miami radio, TV stations, and by social media influencers who had welcomed Trump’s tough talk on Cuba and Venezuela.

Shortly after Trump’s victory in 2016, Cuban exile groups who felt left out from the policy-making process during the Obama administration became more vocal in their criticism of what they saw as Obama’s failed engagement policies with Cuba and concessions made to the Cuban government.

Increased government repression on the island, the Cuban leadership’s unwavering support of Maduro in Venezuela, and Cuba’s reluctance to implement reforms to rescue a rapidly deteriorating economy all reinforced perceptions about the failures of engagement. With its eyes on Florida 2020, Trump vowed in Miami to reverse “the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime,” and made Cuba and Venezuela the center of its Latin American policy.

The picture is nuanced: While most Cuban Americans approve of President Trump’s sanctions campaign against the Cuban government, they also support many of Obama’s policies, such as maintaining diplomatic relations or travel to the island, as shown by the FIU 2020 poll. Pro-engagement advocates still contend that Obama’s policies did not hurt the Democratic Party. But others believe that misses a crucial point.

“The weaponization of U.S. policy towards Cuba was the entry point to help cement the idea that the Democratic Party is the party of socialists,” Amandi said.

Then there was the 2020 media environment, with voters watching or reading partisan media, living in information bubbles, and plenty of misinformation circulating among the Hispanic communities, making it difficult for the Democratic campaign messaging to make it through. By the time the campaign started responding to the socialism accusations, it was too late.

Just weeks before the election, Mike Bloomberg financed a round of TV ads featuring members of the Bay of Pigs Brigade and Cuban exile writer Carlos Alberto Montaner pushing back on the accusations that Biden and running mate Kamala Harris were socialists. Internal polling data suggest the ads were able to move the needle in favor of Biden. But the effort came too late to have a larger impact on the race.

However, analysts believe that, with the right strategy, the Democratic Party could again reach the historic support Obama obtained among Cuban Americans in 2012. In that election he won 53 percent of Cuban Americans who cast a ballot on Election Day, and an overall 48 percent of the Cuban-American vote in the state, according to a poll by Bendixen & Amandi.

“It would be a mistake for both parties to believe that these numbers are permanent,” Amandi said.

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UNITED STATES: HOW DID LATINOS VOTE?

Eric Hershberg, Director of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies and Professor of Government, American University.

AULA Blog, November 17, 2020

Original Article: United States: How Did Latinos Vote?

Amid considerable discussion of how the Latino vote in the U.S. Presidential election impacted the outcome, evidence already shows that Latino voters played an important role in Joe Biden’s razor-thin majority in key states and will be a crucial, if diverse, electorate in the future. A frequent trope is that there is no such thing as the Latino vote, given the heterogeneity of the population that identifies as Latino (or Hispanic, Latina, or Latinx). Latino voters are of diverse national origin, geographic location, educational achievement, income, language preference, and religiosity. Some trace their roots in the United States back many generations, while others are immigrants. These factors conditioned voter behavior on November 3.

  • Exit polls, which are not entirely reliable, indicate that the 13 percent of the electorate that self-identified as Latino voted 65-32 percent for Biden over Trump. This was roughly in line with forecasts. Although the respected polling firm Latino Decisions announced on the eve of the election that at no point in its surveys did Trump exceed 30 percent of voter intentions, the eventual outcome was within the margin of error. The more notable polling miss was with the broader electorate: nationwide polling anticipated a gap of 5-12 percent between Biden and Trump in the popular vote, which in fact turned out to be around 4 percent.
  • As with the white electorate, there was a notable gender gap among Latinos: The margin in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket was 69-30 percent among Latina women versus 59-36 percent among Latino men, totals that replicated almost perfectly the 2016 contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Age was a factor as well. Biden came out ahead by 69-28 percent among Latinos under 30, contrasted with 58-40 percent among those over 60 years of age. This is not remarkable, since young white voters also trended similarly toward the Democrats. Evidence suggests that Trump made inroads among non-college educated males, mirroring his strong performance among white males with lower educational levels.

Several factors may account for what some observers deemed a surprising level of Latino support for a president whose explicit racism had not disgraced the presidency since the days of Woodrow Wilson more than a century ago.

  • Cuban-Americans and migrants from Latin American countries who frame their life experiences as resisting or escaping socialism tilted strongly to Trump, whose campaign spent months branding Biden and Democrats more generally as “socialists.” Painting the Democrats as a red menace was critical in Florida, as the Latino vote helped to deliver the state to Trump and unseated Democratic House incumbents from Miami-Dade County.
  • Evangelical Latinos, like evangelical whites, disproportionately cast their votes for Republicans. Just as socially conservative evangelicals have been a powerful force in Latin American elections, they are and will remain so in the United States. Trump’s success in appointing judges opposed to abortion rights and same sex marriage helps to explain his strong performance with this segment of the electorate, some of which identifies as Latino.
  • Law and order was another theme pushed in Trump advertisements and actions. The specter of leftists defunding the police weighed heavily in some sub-sets of the Latino electorate. Images of children in cages that were promulgated by Democratic Party advocates did little to sway voters in Texas, where jobs in policing and border enforcement involve placing migrants in those very cages. This may in part account for Trump’s surprising strength among Latinos in sparsely populated Texas counties in the Rio Grande Valley. While this has attracted the attention of many pundits, this small swath of voters was more than outweighed by unprecedented turnout for the Democratic ticket among urban Latinos in Texas.

A number of factors operated in Biden’s favor. Most important was the government’s grossly inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected Latinos disproportionately. That a Biden administration would consolidate Obamacare became all the more relevant in the context of the pandemic. The Administration’s assault on immigrant rights mattered as well for many Latino voters.

The impressive margins that Biden racked up among Latinos contributed to his victory in the key battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, and it almost secured the electoral votes of North Carolina. If Latinos – the most rapidly expanding segment of the electorate – continue to favor Democrats, they will prove central to a coalition that might advance the Democrats’ standing in the 2022 mid-term elections and dictate the outcome of the presidential contest in 2024.

  • More immediately, the Latino vote could prove crucial in the January run-off elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats, which will determine whether the Biden Administration has a working majority or faces a wall of resistance from Mitch McConnell’s GOP. More than a quarter million Latinos are registered to vote in Georgia, which Biden won by less than 15,000 votes. According to exit polls, Biden won support from Latinos in that state at a rate of 62-39 percent. That is not an overwhelming margin, but in a cliffhanger election that mere 5 percent of the electorate could be critical to determining the relationship between the White House and Senate for the next couple of years.

November 17, 2020

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THE CUBAN ECONOMIC CRISIS: ITS CAUSES AND POSSIBLE POLICIES FOR THE TRANSITION

Carmelo Mesa-Lago (University of Pittsburgh) and Jan Svejnar (Columbia University)

Florida International University, School of Public and International Affairs, October 2020.

A definitive 2020 analysis of Cuba’s current economic situation.

Full document available here: The Cuban Economic Crisis: Its Causes and Possible Policies for the Transition

 

 

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CUBA’S ECONOMIC CRISIS IS SPURRING MUCH-NEEDED ACTION ON REFORMS

William M. LeoGrande, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

Complete Article:  ACTION ON REFORMS

Cuba’s economy was already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic, due to persistently poor domestic productivity, declining oil shipments from Venezuela and the ratcheting up of U.S. sanctions. But now, the closure of the tourist sector due to COVID-19 has thrown Cuba into a full-fledged recession, deeper than anything since the economic crisis of the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union—what Cubans know as the “Special Period.”

Perhaps paradoxically, the downturn also appears to have broken a logjam of disagreement among Cuba’s senior leaders and accelerated the implementation of economic reforms. Reforms entail risks, President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the Council of Ministers this summer, but “the worst risk would be in not changing and in losing popular support.”

In 2011, the Cuban Communist Party approved a new economic policy to promote growth by giving freer rein to market forces; requiring unproductive state-owned enterprises to make a profit, even if it means laying off workers; promoting small private businesses; and attracting foreign direct investment. Over the ensuing years, however, implementation slowed to a glacial pace, at least in part because of resistance from some segments of the Cuban political elite who stood to lose from the changes. With the economy buoyed by cheap oil from Venezuela and a booming tourist sector, the need for reform was less urgent.

See the source image

Still, economic growth lagged. GDP increased at an average rate of just 2.1 percent from 2011 to 2019, and only 1.3 percent since 2016. The anemic growth in recent years reflects those declining oil shipments from Venezuela, which Caracas provides in exchange for medical services from Cuban doctors and technicians. In 2016, then-President Raul Castro had to declare an energy emergency and begin rationing fuel to state-owned enterprises.

The one bright spot in the domestic economy has been the spectacular growth of Cuba’s tourist sector in the past three decades. From 1991 to 2018, the number of foreign visitors increased more than 11-fold, from just over 400,000 to 4.7 million. The tourist sector got another big boost in 2014, when then-President Barack Obama agreed with Castro to begin normalizing relations, and the Obama administration eliminated most restrictions on U.S. travel. The number of non-Cuban American U.S. visitors jumped six-fold, from 92,325 in 2014 to a peak of 637,907 in 2018. Including Cuban Americans, U.S. visitors in 2018 comprised about a quarter of all foreign visitors to the island.

But President Donald Trump immediately pledged to “cancel” Obama’s opening to Cuba when he took office in 2017. The Trump administration launched a concerted “maximum pressure” campaign, designed to systematically cut off Cuba’s principal sources of foreign currency. To deter foreign investors, Trump activated Title III of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act last year, enabling U.S. nationals who lost property after the 1959 revolution, including Cuban Americans, to sue Cuban, U.S. or foreign companies in U.S. federal court for “trafficking” in their confiscated property—that is, making beneficial use of it.

Faithfully executed, the reforms could boost productivity significantly over the next year or two, but shorter-term relief for Cuba will depend on circumstances beyond its control.

The administration also targeted Cuba’s energy supply by imposing sanctions on companies shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba, aggravating fuel shortages. The State Department pressured other countries to end their partnerships with Cuba’s international medical assistance programs—a major source of foreign exchange earnings for Havana—and conservative governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and El Salvador quickly obliged. The Brazilian program, by far the largest, involved over 11,000 medical personnel, generating $250 million in annual revenue for Cuba.

But Trump’s most serious blows have focused on travel and remittances. The administration eliminated the people-to-people category of legal travel, thereby blocking the majority of non-Cuban American travelers; severed commercial and charter air links to all Cubans cities except Havana; and banned U.S. cruise ships, which carried some 800,000 people to Cuba in 2018, from docking there. This campaign led to a 20 percent drop in the number of foreign visitors to the island in the early months of 2020 before the onset of COVID-19.

Remittances, which Obama removed limits on in 2009, were capped at $1,000 per quarter. Then, just weeks before the presidential election, Trump announced new rules prohibiting Cuban Americans from sending remittances through Cuban money transfer companies run by the armed forces, which includes almost all of them. The restrictions, which are set to go into effect later this month, would produce deep suffering among the roughly 60 percent of Cubans who rely on $3.6 billion in cash remittances annually for sustenance.

Then came the pandemic. Although Cuba has had considerable success containing COVID-19, by virtue of a health care system premised on prevention and a disaster response apparatus second to none, the impact on Cuba’s economy has been catastrophic. In March, Cuba closed the island to all foreign visitors and has only gradually begun to reopen some of the more remote tourist resorts in the Cuban Keys. The closure has cost Cuba some $3 billion in lost revenue; estimates are that GDP has contracted by 8 percent this year. The shortages of basic commodities, including food and medicine, are severe due to the shortage of foreign exchange reserves, and Cuba has been unable to meet its debt service obligations.

The severity of the crisis prompted the Cuban government to finally act on potentially significant economic reforms it previously promised, but which were delayed due to disagreements within the leadership. Perhaps most significantly, the government has indicated that it will soon eliminate the dual currency and exchange rate system—which includes Cuban pesos for domestic use and convertible pesos that are roughly pegged to the dollar. The Cuban pesos have a 25:1 exchange rate with the convertible peso in the retail sector, and 1:1 rate between enterprises—a distortion of value that stimulates imports while discouraging exports and aggravating the country’s foreign exchange crisis.

In July, the government announced that private and cooperative businesses would be allowed to hold convertible foreign currency bank accounts and import and export directly, rather than having to go through government agencies. To prioritize food security, the government reduced price and administrative controls on private and cooperative farms. To generate and capture more remittances, it lifted the 10 percent tax on U.S. dollars entering the country and opened dozens of stores that accept payment in convertible currency.

Faithfully executed, these reforms could boost productivity significantly over the next year or two, but shorter-term relief for Cuba will depend on circumstances beyond its control: the speed at which the pandemic subsides, allowing the tourist sector to reopen; and the policies of the incoming U.S. president. Cubans celebrated openly when Joe Biden won this month’s election, and the government has signaled its willingness to improve relations. During the election campaign, Biden promised to reverse Trump’s sanctions that disrupted family ties and imposed economic hardship on the Cuban people, which could mean a reopening of travel and elimination of Trump’s restrictions on remittances. That would measurably improve the standard of living for the Cuban people, but sustainable development for the long run depends on Cuba completing the reforms necessary to build a productive economy.

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CUBAN MEDICAL TEAMS FOR 2021 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Media Statement

Monday, November 16, 2020 – 17:00

The Council of Canadians’ statement on nominating Cuban international health teams for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. 

At the June 2020 Annual Meeting, Council of Canadians’ members voted to endorse and promote a Canadian nominating process for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to go the Henry Reeve medical teams from Cuba for their international work in the context of COVID-19.

In 2005, Cuba’s leaders looked ahead and saw a world increasingly beset by pandemics and natural disasters. This led them to initiate a program to train professional medical personnel to be able to respond quickly to emergency requests from other nations. This initiative resulted in the mobilization of thousands of Cuban medical personnel with the skills and training to deal with a variety of global calamities, known as the Henry Reeve brigades.

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Cuba responded to emergency requests for trained medical personnel by sending 53 health teams to 39 countries on four continents. The health teams were able to assist countries with fragile health systems that were ill-equipped to deal with COVID-19.

Cuba’s response to COVID-19 eclipses all other front-line efforts from industrialized nations in the fight against COVID-19. This response is more remarkable given that the island nation has been under a decades-long embargo by the United States of America. The U.S. State Department has made it known since the beginning of the pandemic that they might retaliate against any country receiving Cuban medical personnel. Only one country has capitulated to these threats from the U.S., and that country is Canada.

We are fortunate to have Dr. John Kirk as the nominator. As an expert on Cuba’s humanitarian efforts and its medical internationalism and a professor at Dalhousie University’s Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Dr. Kirk easily meets all of the strict requirements outlined by Oslo for those individuals heading up a nomination process for the Nobel Peace Prize. Read Dr. Kirk’s nomination.

The Council of Canadians fully supports this nomination effort, and are honoured to be working in solidarity with the endorsers listed below.

Individual Canadian endorsers for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination for the international work of Cuban medical personnel

  • The Hon. Lloyd Axworthy – Canadian politician, elder statesman and academic served as Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs under P.M. Chretien, invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada and honoured at a sacred pipe ceremony as Waappski Pinaysee Inini (Free Range Frog Man), Chair of the World Refugee Council, among other prestigious international and academic positions;
  • Dr. Anna Banerji – Pediatrics and infectious disease specialist and Associate Professor at University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Faculty lead for Indigenous and Refugee Health, invested in the Order of Ontario, 2014 Women’s Courage Award International, among other citations;
  • Jane Bunnett – Flautist, saxophonist and bandleader and jazz legend is a five-time Juno Award winner, invested in The Order of Canada and has more than a dozen albums featuring Cuban music, jazz, and classical as well as dance and pop music;
  • John Cartwright – Chairperson of the Council of Canadians Board of Directors and a long-time labour leader and social justice advocate. He is also the President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, and over the years helped develop the Campaign for Public Education, Public Transit for the Public Good, the Toronto Waterwatch and Toronto Hydro campaigns as well as crafting the “Green Jobs Strategy” for the Canadian Labour Congress.
  • George Elliot Clarke – Canadian poet, playwright and literary critic, known for chronicling the experience and history of the Black Canadian communities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (“Africadia”), has served as Poet Laureate of Toronto and Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, appointed to the Order of Nova Scotia and as an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received many other distinctions;
  • Bruce Cockburn – Canadian roots-rock legend, 13-time Juno Award winner, Officer of the Order of Canada, recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, recipient of the environmental Earth Day Award, and many others honours;
  • Elizabeth Hay – Prize winning author of numerous novels, short stories, non fiction and essays. Among many honours, she was the co-winner of the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, received the Ottawa Book Award, won the Giller Prize in 2007, was accorded the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Medal, and most recently won the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Elizabeth worked for ten years as a CBC radio broadcaster in Yellowknife, and also did radio documentaries for CBC’s Sunday Morning.
  • The Rt. Hon. Michaelle Jean – Canadian stateswoman, journalist and a refugee from Haiti, was the 27th Governor General of Canada and the third Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, named member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, and has received many Appointments, Medals, and Awards as well as multiple Honorary degrees;
  • Dr. Noni E. MacDonald – Paediatrics infectious disease specialist and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University, invested in the Order of Nova Scotia and in the Order of Canada, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Society for International Health, among other honours;
  • MP Elizabeth May – Canadian politician who served as leader of the Green Party of Canada from 2006 to 2019. An environmentalist, author, activist and lawyer, May founded and served as Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada from 1989 to 2006. Elizabeth has been an officer of the Order of Canada since 2005, and has been named by the United Nations as one of the leading women environmentalists worldwide, among other citations.
  • Senator Pierrette Ringuette – The first francophone woman to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. In the 1993 federal election she won a seat in the House of Commons of Canada as a Liberal Member of Parliament. In 2002 she was appointed to the Senate on the recommendation of Prime Minister Jean Chretien. In 2007 she received the grade of Officer of the Ordre de la Pleiade in recognition of her contribution to the development of francophone and Acadian culture.  In 2016 she chose to sit as part of the Independent Senators Group. Senator Ringuette continues to be a member of several standing committees and is currently a Counselor of The Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas, Co-Chair of the Canada-Cuba Inter-Parliamentary Group.
  • Svend Robinson – Canadian politician and Member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party, a strong environmentalist and outspoken advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples both in Canada and internationally, he was adopted into the Haida Nation (“White Swan”), J.S. Woodsworth Resident Scholar at Simon Fraser University, and among several awards…the Elena Iberoamerican Award on Ethics and the Hero Award, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity;
  • David T. Suzuki – Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist is a Companion of the Order of Canada and invested in the Order of British Columbia, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and has been awarded honorary degrees from over two dozen universities around the world, and is the host the CBC’s long running series The Nature of Things;

Organizational Canadian endorsers for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination for the international work of Cuban medical personnel

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JOE BIDEN: “LAS LIMITACIONES A LAS REMESAS SOLO PERJUDICAN A LAS FAMILIAS CUBANAS”

Original Article: BIDEN ON US POLICY TOWARDS CUBA.

CiberCuba,  29 | 02/11/2020 – 9:19am (GMT-4)

El candidato demócrata a la presidencia de Estados Unidos, Joe Biden, dijo a CiberCuba que empoderar al pueblo cubano será el pilar de su política hacia Cuba, y aseguró que si llega a la Casa Blanca eliminará de inmediato las restricciones a las remesas y viajes a la isla.

“Empoderar al pueblo cubano para determinar su propio futuro es fundamental para la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos (…) y será la pieza central de mi enfoque”, declaró Biden en entrevista exclusiva con CiberCuba.”Seguiré políticas que reconozcan el ambiente de hoy, empezando con la eliminación de las restricciones de Trump a las remesas y los viajes, las cuales perjudican al pueblo cubano y mantiene a las familias separadas”.

El envío de remesas a Cuba se ha convertido en tema de las campañas electorales luego de una reciente sanción de la administración Trump para evitar que las transacciones financieras sean procesadas por entidades vinculadas al aparato militar cubano.

El exvicepresidente manifestó que el mandatario Donald Trump es el peor abanderado para lograr la democracia en Cuba, y aseguró que una administración Biden-Harris restaurará el Programa de Reunificación Familiar Cubano (CFRP),  favorecerá los asilos a refugiados, y limitará las deportaciones a la isla lo antes posible.

“Las políticas de Trump hacia Cuba han sido un fracaso total”, afirmó Biden.

Tanto la entrevista con Biden como la realizada al presidente Trump en CiberCuba, fueron planeadas desde comienzos de septiembre como parte de la cobertura informativa de nuestra publicación sobre las históricas elecciones de este 3 de noviembre en Estados Unidos. Ambos contendientes políticos  recibieron simultáneamente sus respectivos cuestionarios de 12 preguntas sobre temas diversos de la política hacia Cuba y la comunidad cubanoamericana.

Biden accedió a responder cinco preguntas del cuestionario enviado por CiberCuba. Interrogantes sobre la Ley de Ajuste Cubano, la posibilidad de levantar el embargo, los programas federales de ayuda a la sociedad civil y la oposición política en Cuba, y la opción de desactivar los títulos III y IV de la Ley Helms-Burton, quedaron pendientes para un próximo diálogo.

Entrevista en CiberCuba al candidato demócrata Joe Biden

CiberCuba: ¿Cuál será su primer paso respecto a la actual política hacia Cuba si usted llega a presidencia de Estados Unidos?

Joe Biden: Las políticas de Trump hacia Cuba han sido un fracaso total. Las represiones por parte del régimen sólo han aumentado bajo su mandato. Como presidente, mi política se regirá por dos principios: primero que los estadounidenses, los cubanoamericanos en particular, son los mejores embajadores por la libertad en Cuba. En segundo lugar, empoderar al pueblo cubano para determinar su propio futuro es fundamental para la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos. La situación de hoy en Cuba no es igual a la situación hace cuatro años y yo seguiré políticas que reconozcan el ambiente de hoy, empezando con la eliminación de las restricciones de Trump a las remesas y los viajes, las cuales perjudican al pueblo cubano y mantiene a las familias separadas. También abordaré el atraso de más de 20 mil visas que ha aumentado bajo la administración Trump, exigiré la liberación de los presos políticos y defenderé los derechos humanos en Cuba, tal como lo hice cuando era vicepresidente.

CiberCuba: Una de las sanciones más severas decretadas por Trump han sido las prohibiciones de vuelos regulares y fletados, y la limitación de los envíos de remesas a Cuba. ¿Cuál es su plan para revertir ambas medidas?

Joe Biden: En medio de una pandemia mundial, cuando tantas familias están profundamente impactadas, el presidente Trump le está negando a los cubanoamericanos el derecho a mantener a sus familias en la isla. Una vez más, deja claro que su supuesto “apoyo” al pueblo cubano no es más que una retórica política vacía.

La administración de Trump está deportando a cientos de cubanos de vuelta a la dictadura. Hay casi 10.000 cubanos languideciendo en campamentos de tiendas a lo largo de la frontera con México por culpa de la agenda antiinmigrante de Trump. Y está separando a las familias cubanas mediante restricciones cada vez más severas en cuanto a las visitas familiares y las remesas. Nada de esto ayuda al pueblo cubano. Nada de esto ha avanzado la democracia en Cuba.

Donald Trump es el peor abanderado posible para alcanzar la democracia en Cuba, porque ha consentido a los autócratas en todo el mundo, como Vladimir Putin en Rusia. Durante toda mi carrera he defendido la democracia y los derechos humanos, la libertad de prensa, de reunión y religión, y he luchado contra los dictadores tanto de izquierda como de derecha.

Las limitaciones a las remesas en particular solo perjudican a las familias cubanas, especialmente a los ancianos y más vulnerables, tanto en la isla como en nuestro país. Tanto los estadounidenses como los cubanos no pueden permitirse cuatro años más de liderazgo débil, palabras vacías y promesas incumplidas de Trump.

CiberCuba: Los cambios en la política migratoria han provocado una concentración de cubanos en espera de una audiencia de asilo en México, mientras otras decenas permanecen arrestados en cárceles de inmigración de EE.UU. bajo un trato cuestionable y amenaza de deportación. ¿Qué haría usted  ante esta situación?

Joe Biden: Lo que está haciendo la Administración Trump es inconcebible: deportar a cientos de cubanos a una dictadura y obligar a casi 10.000 cubanos a languidecer en campamentos de tiendas de campaña a lo largo de la frontera mexicana, todo para avanzar en la cruzada anti inmigrante de esta administración. Estados Unidos puede defender tanto la seguridad de nuestra frontera como nuestros valores como nación de inmigrantes. Debemos restaurar nuestro compromiso histórico con las personas buscando asilo y los refugiados. Mi plan de inmigración pondrá fin a las perjudiciales políticas de asilo de Trump, comenzando con los Protocolos de Protección al Migrante [PPM] de Trump, y restablecerá nuestras leyes de asilo para que hagan lo que deberían hacer: proteger a las personas que huyen de la persecución y que no pueden regresar a casa de manera segura. Vamos a poner fin a la detención prolongada y los centros de detención con fines de lucro y reinvertiremos en programas de gestión de casos, que permiten a los migrantes vivir con dignidad y seguridad mientras esperan sus audiencias judiciales, y que son la mejor manera de garantizar que los solicitantes de asilo asistan a todas las audiencias de inmigración requeridas. Además, restauraremos las prioridades de ejecución sensatas para que las personas trabajadoras que nunca han cometido un delito grave no sean objeto de deportación.

CiberCuba: Una de los quejas fundamentales de la comunidad cubana en Estados Unidos es la paralización del Programa de Reunificación Familiar desde hace tres años. ¿Qué puede usted decirle a las familias que reclaman la reactivación de este beneficio migratorio? 

Joe Biden: Una administración de Biden y Harris reabrirá vías para la migración segura y legal de la isla, incluyendo el Programa de Permiso de Reunificación Familiar Cubano (CFRP) y el programa de refugiados cubanos lo antes posible. El opresivo régimen cubano no debería evitar que los estadounidenses –y los cubanoamericanos en especial– ayuden a sus familias y amigos en Cuba.

CiberCuba: La actual administración ha justificado sus sanciones contra Cuba con el criterio de castigar a las esferas militares que controlan turismo y negocios en el país y limitar su apoyo al régimen de Nicolás Maduro en Venezuela. ¿Qué piensa usted sobre estas sanciones? ¿Las levantaría o las negociaría?

Joe Biden: Las políticas de Trump no han tenido éxito. Los dictadores permanecen atrincherados en el poder tanto en Cuba como en Venezuela. Las sanciones son una herramienta importante, pero no son nuestra única herramienta y deben formar parte de una estrategia más amplia para lograr los resultados que queremos. El objetivo es más libertad para las personas que viven bajo regímenes opresivos. Si las sanciones ayudan a avanzar en ese objetivo, las utilizaré. Y a diferencia de Trump, protegeré a las personas que huyen de la opresión de estas dictaduras. Trump ha hecho que sea casi imposible para los solicitantes de asilo, incluso hacer el reclamo legal al que tienen derecho. El presidente Trump y los republicanos del Senado se han negado repetidamente a otorgar el estatus de protección temporal [TPS] a los venezolanos que huyen del régimen de Maduro. Yo se los otorgaré. En Cuba, empoderar al pueblo cubano será la pieza central de mi enfoque. Y me aseguraré de que todos los solicitantes de asilo, incluidos los de Cuba y Nicaragua, reciban una consideración justa.

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PRECISANDO CONCEPTOS Y DEBATIENDO REALIDADES. A PROPÓSITO DE LA DEVALUACIÓN DEL PESO CUBANO.

Mauricio de Miranda, 31  de Octubre de 2020

Articulo Original: A propósito de la devaluación del peso cubano

Acabo de ver la intervención de Marino Murillo en la Asamblea Nacional de Cuba, a través de la Mesa Redonda en la TV cubana. Me llaman la atención varias cosas, algunas de las cuáles considero que requieren precisión:

  1. Afirma que “se han tomado decisiones en la economía, todas correctas en su momento, pero la principal fuente de ingresos de las personas, no es precisamente el trabajo”. Entonces, ¿cuál es? Yo pienso que la principal fuente de ingresos de la mayor parte de la población sí es el trabajo, pero que los ingresos de los trabajadores no son suficientes para asegurar la satisfacción de sus necesidades y eso es otra cosa. Una parte de la población ha estado recibiendo remesas a través de sus familiares residentes en el exterior y éstas solo le permiten a esa parte de la población sobrevivir en mejores condiciones que las que tiene la inmensa mayoría de la población cubana y al mismo tiempo esas remesas se inyectan en la circulación monetaria del país y generan una determinada demanda efectiva.
  2. Menciona que se han producido distorsiones en la economía, como resultado de la circulación de dos monedas nacionales, con diversos tipos de cambio y que la mayor de esas distorsiones es la sobrevaloración del peso cubano, que ha mantenido en el circuito empresarial un tipo de cambio inamovible de 1 USD = 1 CUP por más de 60 años. No estoy de acuerdo en que fueran “medidas necesarias en su momento”. En mi opinión, fue un error del gobierno cubano mantener un tipo de cambio fijo del peso cubano que no guardaba relación con las realidades económicas, conduciendo a que el tipo de cambio dejara de cumplir su papel como el precio relativo de la moneda nacional respecto a las monedas extranjeras, al punto de desconectar la realidad económica nacional de la realidad económica internacional. Y también creo que fue un error crear semejante desorden en la economía nacional al dolarizar un segmento de la economía nacional que desde los años 90’s del siglo XX se desvinculó, en la práctica, del segmento que funcionaba en la moneda cubana. Como también fue un error crear una segunda moneda nacional cubana, supuestamente convertible, que rápidamente perdió convertibilidad y también se sobrevaloró al emitirse sin cumplir con las obligaciones de la “caja de conversión” que, supuestamente, aseguraba su convertibilidad.
  3. Refiriéndose a las preocupaciones del público sobre la forma como se producirá la unificación monetaria y cambiaria (en la que ciertamente se elimina el CUC pero no el USD o las demás monedas libremente convertibles en las que operan ciertas tiendas que venden, de forma exclusiva, productos que son parte de las necesidades cotidianas de la mayor parte de la población en países normales), mencionó que “nadie quiere perder un pedacito, nadie quiere ir para atrás”, para luego advertir que “la devaluación llevará a la necesidad de ajustes”. Por supuesto que nadie quiere ir para atrás. Históricamente, la humanidad ha tratado de buscar la prosperidad como aspiración racional en la única vida conocida. Sin embargo, ir hacia atrás es una triste realidad que vive Cuba desde hace muchos años. Se avanza en muchas cosas, esto es innegable, pero en muchas otras, que tienen que ver con la cotidianidad, se retrocede. Desde hace treinta años el balance de la vida cotidiana en Cuba está marcado por el estancamiento o el retroceso de las condiciones económicas y, por tanto, por el aumento de la brecha de necesidades insatisfechas por la población. No cabe dudas de que el endurecimiento de las sanciones impuestas por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos contribuye significativamente a las dificultades de la vida cotidiana de la población cubana, pero desde hace muchos años el gobierno cubano ha debido y ha podido adoptar medidas conducentes a una reforma profunda de la economía cubana, que habrían evitado el actual estado de cosas, sobre todo si tenemos en cuenta otras experiencias internacionales que, al menos en el desempeño económico, han tenido resultados positivos.

Continuar: https://mauriciodemiranda.wordpress.com/2020/10/31/precisando-conceptos-a-proposito-de-la-devaluacion-del-peso-cubano/

 

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CUBA’S COVID-19 DASHBOARD

 Cuban Government Covid 19 Web Site and Dashboard

 https://covid19cubadata.github.io/#cuba

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CUBA AND COVID-19: WHY IS THEIR MODEL SO SUCCESSFUL?

Original Article: Cuba and Covid-19

McLeod Group guest blog by John M. Kirk, October 29, 2020 

Original Article: Cuba and Covid-19

As the cold winter looms, along with the dreaded “second wave” of COVID-19, Canadians are faced with some alarming facts. While pleased that our infection and death rates are only half those found in the United States, we are doing poorly compared with one country barely mentioned in our media: Cuba. Their death rate (adjusted to population differences) is roughly 1/25 what ours is, while Canadians are ten times more likely to become infected by the virus than Cubans.

How did they manage to do this? Is there anything that we can learn from them?

The world is in a parlous state. There is the possibility that 500,000 Americans might die by February. The intensive care wards are rapidly filling up in Europe. In Canada, we are now hitting almost 1,000 new cases daily in the two most populous provinces of the country, Ontario and Quebec.

Yet, Cuba has managed to control the situation there, with fewer than 7,000 people infected and 128 dead. It has also faced, and curbed, a second wave of infections. Cubans are also over 40 times less likely to contract the virus than people in the United States. Countries of a similar size to Cuba offer interesting data in terms of fatalities. As of October 25, Cuba has experienced 128 deaths, compared with 10,737 in Belgium, 2,081 in Switzerland, 2,297 in Portugal, 5,933 in Sweden, and 1,390 in Hungary.

While there are some aspects of the Cuban model that are not transferable to Canada – largely because of radically different political systems – there are things that we can learn from them.

Cuba is fortunate that it is a small country, with 11.2 million people in an island about twice the surface area of Nova Scotia. It also has an excellent healthcare system, with three times the number of physicians per capita as Canada – the highest rate in the world. Its system emphasizes preventive medicine, as opposed to the curative approach used here. The Cubans moved with enormous speed to limit COVID-19, in part because of a finely tuned system to respond to natural disasters.

When COVID arrived in the island in March, brought by Italian tourists, the government decided to forego the funds derived from the tourism industry, and closed the island to tourists. Healthcare for all was deemed far more important than economic growth.

Continue Reading: Cuba and Covid-19

John M. Kirk is Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University, and the author/co-editor of 17 books on Cuba, including two on its healthcare system.

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