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Daily Archives: April 28, 2007

A Conference for Cuba’s Freedom in Berlin

Publicado el 04-28-2007A Conference for Cuba's in Berlin

It is certainly very important for the cause of Cuba's freedom that a conference has just been held in Berlin by non-Governmental Organizations and former government officials from Europe, United States and Latin America under the title of "Democracy in Cuba: In Search of Common Initiatives". The influential Conrad Adenauer Foundation and the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba organized the conference. In attendance besides the former officials alluded to were acting officials, including legislators from several countries, important representatives of the German government and Caleb McCarry, Coordinator of the U.S. Presidential Commission for Change in Cuba. There were also representatives of the Cuban exile. In yesterday's edition, this newspaper published a detailed report by Dr. Ariel Remos, mentioning all the personalities from different areas of the world that convened in the German capital.

While there are some governments around the world that favor the totalitarian Marxist-Leninist tyranny of and others that actually are its accomplices, what happened in Berlin represents a significant effort of political and human morality. And this is so, because in Cuba there is a systematic and brutal violation of that hurts the sensibility of all those who around the world are concerned and infuriated by these violations.

One of the most important issues discussed there was to pressure the Cuban tyranny to allow representatives of the International Red Cross to visit the political prisoners in the island who are kept in infrahuman conditions. If the dictatorship of Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl could prove that there are not so many political prisoners in Cuba and in this type of conditions, it would not insist –condemnable insistence— in not allowing the International Red Cross to visit the island. Moreover, it must be taken into consideration that the United Nations' Commission for Human Rights has never been able to fulfill its mandate to visit Cuba to verify the violations of human rights there.

This gathering of advocates of Cuba's freedom, among whom there were several former heads of State, is something of great significance for Cuba and the cause of its liberty.

Economics minister: Cuba hopes to return to single currency

Economics minister: Cuba hopes to return to single currencyThe Associated PressPublished: April 28, 2007

HAVANA: The economics minister said Saturday that Cuba hopes to return to a single currency, a departure from the current two-currency system that makes many consumer goods unattainable for most Cubans.

Communist Cuba's dual emerged more than 15 years ago after the country lost most of its preferential trade and aid with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"We have been advancing toward monetary unification," Economics Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez told reporters during a briefing on the Cuban economy. "That's the path." He did not provide specifics.

Today, the regular Cuban peso is what Cubans use for virtually all government services — including utilities, transportation, and a monthly ration — and it is the only currency accepted at popular farmers markets.

But the convertible Cuban peso, which is tied to foreign currencies, is the only money accepted for electronics, packaged food, and other consumer goods at most government-run stores. Cuban government workers, who earn on average about US$15 (?11) a month, cannot afford most of the items available in convertible Cuban pesos at the foreign-currency stores, which are high priced even by American or European standards.

Those who shop at the stores are mostly foreigners or the estimated 57 percent of Cubans who receive cash remittances from family living outside the country.

Until 2 1/2 years ago, the U.S. dollar also circulated one-to-one alongside the convertible Cuban peso.

The Central Bank later "revalued" the convertible peso so it trades at one to US$1.08 (?.79). That exchange does not take into account a surcharge of about 10 percent to change U.S. dollars for the convertible pesos.

A New Stance Toward Havana

A New Stance Toward Havana by JULIA E. SWEIG [from the May 14, 2007 issue]   “The issue is not how to change US policy toward Cuba. The issue is how to change the Cuban regime,” Havana-born US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said not once, not twice, but throughout a recent speech titled “Cuba After Fidel.” The secretary’s disciplined effort to stay “on message” was likely a response to the emerging pressure on Washington to abandon its policy of perpetual hostility and assume a new approach toward Havana–given new political realities in both capitals.   In Washington and Havana, two striking events may have laid the groundwork for real political drama this year: After almost fifty years of supreme rule, a gravely ill transferred “provisional” power to his brother Raul last July, and after twelve years of being out of power, the Democratic Party resumed control of Congress last November.   In Cuba, eight months of stability and business-as-usual have passed since the announcement of Castro’s illness, reported to be diverticulitis. Castro’s has improved, and he is slowly re-entering public life, but he appears not to have resumed his previous around-the-clock work schedule, nor his notorious micromanagement of major and minor affairs of state. Yet the regime has not collapsed–as so many officials, analysts and exiles wishfully believed it would–exposing the utter failure of the US policy of regime change. In Washington, Democrats who want a more enlightened posture toward Havana have assumed control of key Congressional committees. Precisely because it is now an open secret that Washington’s half-century don’t talk/don’t trade/don’t policy toward Cuba has gone nowhere, the new US Congress has the opportunity to lay the foundation for an overhaul of America’s Cuba policy that a centrist of either party could pursue once in the White House in 2009.   If the Administration were not so embroiled in Iraq, Castro’s dire illness might have provoked a collective cry of “Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” but the unanticipated shifting of the guard in Cuba and subsequent stability there has caught Washington unawares. With the exception of Secretary Gutierrez’s muscular speech, the Administration’s silence on the issue has been deafening, and telling. Caleb McCarry, the Administration’s “transition coordinator” for Cuba, has been keeping a notably low profile. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon has spent his time recently with a number of senior Administration officials and the himself trying to recover lost ground with the countries in Latin America that really count, such as Brazil and Mexico.   To be sure, a few lonely voices still carry the torch: Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte testified in his last hearing as intelligence czar in January that despite official Cuba’s efforts at an orderly transfer of power, the United States does not want to see a “soft landing” in Cuba. And Cuban-American members of Congress in both parties–but especially House Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Díaz-Balart and his brother Mario Díaz-Balart–remain unreconstructed but increasingly isolated defenders of overthrowing the Cuban regime. Together with some White House allies, they are willing to risk, and perhaps even welcome, the consequences of a crash landing, on the gamble that the and chaos that would ensue would create a post-Castro, post-socialist, post-revolutionary vacuum into which they and their increasingly divided constituents could step.   Beyond these Cuban-American Congressional holdouts, both parties in Washington are experiencing regime-change fatigue. It’s an open secret in Washington, one that failure in Iraq and stability in Cuba have helped spread, that if taken today a secret vote in Congress would reveal an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority in favor of ending economic sanctions against Cuba and allowing all Americans to travel there freely. This is indicated even by votes taken between 1998 and 2001 in the Republican-controlled Congress. Agricultural, travel and energy lobbies; Cuban-American family associations; and cultural, religious and humanitarian groups all currently support an opening with Cuba. Their views are fully representative; some 52 percent of the American public, according to opinion polls, favor lifting the trade against Cuba and pursuing more normal relations.   But despite a broad constituency for a new Cuba policy, despite the emergence from within the Cuban-American community of new voices calling for change (joined by some prominent old ones) and despite the growing importance of non-Cuban Latino voting blocs around the country, the Democratic and Republican political operators will be loath to risk the 6-8 percent margin Cuban-American voters in Florida could deliver to presidential candidates in 2008. After all, precisely because of its internal stability and zealous commitment to its own national security, Cuba is now a strategically insignificant issue for American foreign policy. It is hard to make the case to any national politician that it is worth taking a risk to change Cuba policy when the status quo, however ineffectual, causes little harm and is thus low stakes by comparison with the real biggies–whether immigration, Iraq or Iran.   Nevertheless, the time to make that case is now.   Washington has been poised on earlier occasions to revamp its Cuba policy. During Bill Clinton’s first term, his Administration launched a series of “people to people” initiatives to try and build unofficial bridges to Cuban society. In the aftermath of Cuba’s shoot-down of two Cessnas flown by an exile group, Clinton did sign the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which tightened sanctions and codified the embargo into law, but by 1997 his Administration resumed a policy of at least partial engagement. As Pope John Paul II planned a historic visit to the island, the White House and the State Department identified loopholes in the embargo laws that allowed activities that would provide “support to the Cuban people.” By 1999 the Clinton Administration had moved to expand flights and broaden communications, including mail service to and from the island. By 2000 some 200,000 Americans had made the trip to Cuba–most of them legally.   A number of those initiatives were conceived through unofficial efforts to bring together Republicans and Democrats (including longstanding supporters of the embargo) to craft a new approach. The Council on Foreign Relations, for example, sponsored an independent task force, which I staffed, chaired by two former assistant secretaries of state. Efforts like this helped create a new bipartisan consensus for change in Cuba policy and a willingness to improve official and unofficial ties between the two countries.   These included: “military-to-military confidence-building measures,” like counternarcotics collaboration; lifting the travel ban for all but travel; allowing Americans to send financial assistance to a broad range of individuals and institutions on the island; granting visas for a wide range of Cuban professional travel to the United States; legislative proposals allowing US agricultural sales to the island; permitting US companies whose property had been nationalized in the early years of the revolution to begin the process of negotiating compensation directly with the Cuban government (through equity swaps, for example) and allowing “limited American commercial activity on the island” to support these activities.   In the face of forceful lobbying by industries opposed to sanctions and by a variety of anti-embargo advocacy groups, the White House and Congress adopted some measures that created new openings toward the island. In 1994 US and Cuban diplomats began to meet twice a year to discuss immigration issues. After negotiations with the Cuban military in the late 1990s, the US Coast Guard posted a counternarcotics officer at the US interest section in Havana, and the Treasury Department issued a multitude of licenses for research, educational, cultural and humanitarian travel to Cuba. In the spring of 2000, Congress passed an amendment ending the embargo on and medicine sales.   A slew of hiccups and major crises–most notably, the Elián González affair–and domestic political pressure on both sides of the Straits of Florida exerted their predictable drag on progress. But momentum for change continued on Capitol Hill even after George W. Bush took office. Bipartisan majorities in Congress passed a handful of bills to loosen the embargo, including one lifting the travel ban. These went nowhere, as the White House issued veto threats and the House leadership under Tom DeLay stripped the bills in midnight meetings. As former President Jimmy Carter made his historic trip to Havana in May 2002, Bush hard-liners tried, unsuccessfully, to smear Cuba with the WMD charge, alleging that Cuba was developing bioweapons capacity that could be deployed against the United States or shared with rogue regimes.   But having won Florida by the slimmest of margins in 2000 (if he won it at all), Bush sacrificed a rational Cuba policy on the shrine of electoral politics as his re-election campaign heated up. For example, the White House shut down the immigration talks and moved aggressively to close off other financial flows in and out of Cuba. In mid-2004 the President’s Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba announced a major rollback on travel to Cuba, including limiting Cuban-Americans to only one visit to their families on the island every three years–with no exceptions. In July 2006, just twenty-one days before Castro’s announcement of the transfer of power in Cuba, the Bush commission called for “bold, decisive action and clarity of message” on US policy. The goal of its new recommendations would be to “undermine the regime’s succession strategy” and “ensure a genuine democratic transition on the island.” “For reasons of national security and effective implementation,” it continued forebodingly, “some recommendations are contained in a separate classified annex.”   Classified or not, US efforts to block a succession of power in Cuba have failed. Not even the regime’s most hardened critics expect Jimmy Carter to be monitoring multiparty elections in some fantasy Havana Spring anytime soon. Changes in Cuba are in the offing, but they won’t look much like earlier transitions in South America, South Africa or Eastern Europe, the most heavily referenced models in the debate over how outsiders can turn Cuba into something it has resisted becoming for almost half a century.   Nor is there any guarantee that lifting the embargo and launching talks with Cuba will cause Cuba to change. Liberals who believe that lifting the embargo will bring democracy to Cuba are just as misguided as their conservative doppelgängers about the capacity for American power to reshape countries–whether halfway around the world or ninety miles off the Florida coast. But precisely because the United States plays such a large role in Cuba’s national psyche, lifting the shadow of the Goliath of the North that hangs over the island’s domestic politics would increase the potential for a more open debate about what kind of country Cubans want and how to get there. Cuba is without a doubt going to change after Fidel, and the United States has a strong national interest in establishing both official and unofficial ties with Cubans on the island who have a stake in that future.   The Bush White House is unlikely to move off its current intransigence. But with the Democrats controlling Congress and Cuban-Americans trending toward favoring a new approach–and while the high season of presidential campaigning is still a year away–now is the time to lay the groundwork for the next administration in 2009. Congress is in a position to launch its own bipartisan policy review and press the issue.   Already, there are bills gaining bipartisan endorsements that would, variously, lift the ban on Cuban-American travel, lift the ban on all American travel, allow Cuba access to private credit for food purchases, neuter the most egregious aspects of the Helms-Burton Act or get rid of the embargo entirely.   A number of committees are also gearing up to hold hearings to expose the corruption and politicization associated with US-Cuba policy. In particular, Massachusetts Democrat Bill Delahunt, who co-chairs with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake the bipartisan Cuba Working Group, will now have the power to exercise long-overdue oversight and launch investigations on a number of fronts.   One order of business under consideration in Congress is to explore why Cuba remains on the State Department list of terrorist nations. The first witness could be Paul Bremer, the former Bush proconsul in Iraq, who could explain to the public why he recommended that Clinton remove Cuba from the State Department list in the late 1990s. Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez could illuminate the State Department’s rationale for keeping Cuba on the list by explaining why, in the 1980s, he asked Fidel Castro to allow former Basque terrorists to reside in Cuba. Colombia’s former president, Andrés Pastrana, and current president, Álvaro Uribe, could explain why Havana has sponsored talks with Colombia’s terrorist groups as well. And, to illuminate the rationale for America’s historic tolerance of anti-Cuba terrorist activities, Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch should be summoned from his Miami retirement–made possible by an administrative pardon granted by George H.W. Bush–to testify about his alleged collaboration with Luis Posada Carriles in the 1976 terrorist explosion of Cubana Flight 455, which killed all seventy-three passengers on board.   A second order of business would be to investigate the fiscal boondoggle of Radio and TV Martí and other “democracy promotion” programs directed at Cuba. Current Bush Administration officials in charge of these efforts should be asked why the lion’s share of the millions of taxpayer dollars spent to “promote democracy” in Cuba seldom make it to the island but are distributed in no-bid contracts to the Miami-based Cuban exile cottage industry. And they should be asked to account for funds for Radio and TV Martí that have been pilfered in kickback schemes.   The Armed Services Committees could call former generals Barry McCaffrey and Jack Sheehan, who have both visited Cuba and met with , to offer an assessment of how US national security might benefit from establishing channels with the Cuban military. They could testify to the cooperation that the Cuban military has provided on counternarcotics operations–including Cuba’s recent decision to deport a Colombian drug lord back to Bogotá so he could be extradited to Miami–as well as to the support Cuba has provided to operations at Guantánamo Bay in the name of assisting the fight against international terrorism. And the Foreign Affairs Committees could ask former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz to explain why they called for a bipartisan commission to review Cuba policy in the 1990s and whether such an initiative would, in their view, be appropriate today.   Whether or not the 110th Congress makes new law, a year of hearings, testimony and votes will, at a minimum, lay down some markers demonstrating that Congress and the country are poised for an overhaul of Washington’s approach to the island.   George W. Bush will leave office with a legacy of having overseen one of the worst failures ever in American foreign policy. He presided over a near global collapse in American standing and prestige. On his watch, Guantánamo morphed from a local symbol of the US colonial impulse in the hemisphere to a global icon of what’s gone wrong with America. But the President could begin to salvage his and America’s tattered foreign policy legacy with a few strokes of the pen.   He could sign an executive order restoring the ability of Americans, including Cuban-Americans, to travel to Cuba for family, humanitarian and educational purposes. He could issue licenses for American corporations to start negotiating settlements for their nationalized properties. And he could allow Condoleezza to establish a trusted back channel to explore the seriousness of Raul Castro’s recent proposals for bilateral negotiations. He could close down the detention centers in Guantánamo as a first step toward giving the base back to Cuba. None of this would require Bush to sign a new law that hard-liners in his own party would vociferously protest. Apart from the kudos he’d garner from governments and publics in Europe and Latin America soured on American power, at home Republicans would also send a positive signal to non-Cuban Latinos, especially in Florida, who resent the distorted attentions and special benefits historically directed to Cuban-Americans by both parties.   After a half-century of failure and delusion it might just be liberal fantasy that a dose of realpolitik could lead to a new approach to Cuba. Fortunately, polling and voting patterns of the American people, even in Florida, are beginning to show that whoever takes the White House in 2009 will have the political running room to turn Secretary Gutierrez’s speech on its head. Washington’s policy may not bring full-blown capitalism, let alone democracy, to a perennially closed society. But an overhaul of US policy may well relax the siege mentality that keeps Cuba’s own reforms muzzled–and recast US-Cuba relations in a more normal light. That’s why a little reform might be downright revolutionary.

Castro’s recovery has Cubans befuddled

Castro’s recovery has Cubans befuddledBy Anthony BoadleREUTERS

10:40 a.m. April 27, 2007

HAVANA – Political rallies in Cuba these days end with chants of “Long Live Fidel! Long Live Raul!” but which of the Castro brothers is running the country is anyone’s guess.

Even though he has not appeared in public since emergency bowel surgery nine months ago put him at death’s door, the latest signs are that ailing Cuban leader has rebounded and is well enough to resume some government duties.

His die-hard supporters hope the 80-year-old “Comandante” will reappear at the May 1 workers parade in Havana’s Revolution Square, but few expect him to be strong enough to put on his uniform and deliver a rousing speech.

Photographs of Castro’s meeting with a senior Chinese Communist Party official last week showed he has regained some weight. The one-hour meeting and three recent editorial columns indicate he is back to work at least on foreign policy issues.

Formally, his lower-profile younger brother and designated successor, , is Cuba’s acting and is running day-to-day government in his absence.

“By law it is Raul governing, but we never know about these things,” said saleswoman Elizabeth Centurion, who was born after Cuba’s 1959 revolution and has known only one leader.

“It looks like no one is running this place. It’s hard to understand what’s going on,” said Danilo, a mechanic mounting a Russian Lada engine in his British-built 1959 Ford Prefect.

Officials insist Fidel Castro is recovering steadily and it is only a matter of time before he again takes the helm.

Most Cuba watchers abroad say a transfer of power to Raul Castro, 75, has already taken place, with speculation centered on whether Fidel Castro will assume a role as elder statesman or return to help set and even dictate policy.

U.S. intelligence sources said this week they believe Castro’s was most precarious last year after botched surgery for diverticulitis, or inflammation of the colon.

“The transition has basically already occurred to Raul and there’s no expectation that Fidel will come back in full control, though he definitely will be in the background participating in decision-making,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said in Washington.


Foreign businessmen and diplomats in Havana say government decision-making appears to be paralyzed at the prospect of Fidel Castro resuming full leadership of the government.

The elder Castro, known for micromanaging most aspects of Cuban society and calling ministers for information in the middle of the night, had begun re-centralizing state control over the in recent years.

By contrast, Raul is seen as a relaxed 9-to-5 leader who likes to govern through team work and has encouraged debate on ways to fix the shortcomings of Cuban socialism.

“I suspect not very many at the top or in the bureaucracy really want Fidel back,” said Cuban sociologist Marifeli Perez-Stable at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.

Fidel Castro’s return to the scene could block practical steps to keep Cubans happy, such as opening up more opportunity for self-employment, she said.

The word on Havana streets is that initial reforms under Raul Castro could include the right to buy cell phones, computers and DVDs, and to stay at hotels that are out of bounds for Cubans.

Dollars can still buy love in Cuba

Dollars can still buy love in Cuba3 Hour,26 minutes Ago

ISLE OF YOUTH, Cuba – Grease dribbling through his fingers, the Italian gobbles up two fried lobsters while the girl, young enough to be his granddaughter, picks at some and waits.

Facing them, I picture his chubby hands on this pretty 20-year-old mulatta and think about the thin wall between their bedroom and the one I’ve just rented in this Cuban family home.

I know this goes on everywhere from Brazil to Thailand, but I still feel like telling this leathery old man, with his big gold chain, vest and shorts, that he’s a creep, and finding a .

I bite my tongue though, and while the girl watches a Brazilian soap opera, I pour some rum. On the terrace, the man tells me he’s a retired Sicilian executive who spends half the year here enjoying the young women.

‘Is that so?’ I say, trying to look as if I find this an admirable way to spend one’s golden years. ‘That must be quite a few girls.’

‘Eighty,’ he smirks. ‘Well. At least 40 or 50.

‘Cuban girls are different from you Europeans. They aren’t prudish. In bed, they do everything. If she’s not interested, I kick her out and get another one.’

When I remark on his age, somewhere over 60, he springs to his feet, beats his chest and flexes his arms.

‘I’m a lion! I have the body of a 40-year-old. In bed, I’m 25,’ he cries. ‘I don’t even need Viagra.’

Foreigners have come to Cuba for years seeking escorts for nights out and sex in exchange for gifts or cash to help the family. Cubans dub them ‘yumas’, a term adopted for Americans after a 1957 western set in the town of Yuma on the US border with Mexico.

Traveling here a decade ago, when Cubans were going hungry from the loss of Soviet aid, I saw countless beer-bellied foreign men smooching young women, and mid-forties women with hot young Cuban guys.

Cuban leader hates sex . After the 1959 revolution, he razed the brothels that had flourished under strongman Fulgencio Batista and he outlawed underage sex and pornography.

The government has also cracked down on hustlers, known here as ‘jineteros’, in recent years, and the trade is now less visible.

But tourists are still like walking bank vaults in the two-tiered of Cuban and convertible pesos. The dollars I brought for a three-week stay equate to eight years’ of state peso wages — hence the torrent of romantic propositions. Mini economy

On the sleepy Isle of Youth off Cuba’s south coast, the Italian calls his girlfriend. She flounces out, a cinnamon-hued goddess in a tight ‘Italia’ T-shirt and tiny pink shorts, and flashes me a smile.

Draped in gold jewelry, she is halfway through a law degree, but her yuma has brought her family more wealth in a few visits than several years on a Cuban lawyer’s wage would.

‘In my country you’d have a boyfriend like Brad Pitt,’ I joke. She giggles. The Italian slaps her thigh.

‘She does not have the head of a European,’ he says. ‘She has the T-shirt of Italy but in the head she is Cuban. Right, sweetie?’

With everything from clothes to CD players out of reach of most Cubans, a wealthy is still a tempting prospect for many.

Our hostess appears and fawns over the Italian. ‘He is one of the family,’ she coos. ‘The whole neighborhood loves him.’

Rent-paying foreigners have made a palace of her house, with a paved garden, garish ornaments and a stereo player.

Neighbors share the leftovers from our dinner. One asks the Italian for some coins. Like a Godfather, he’s driving a mini-economy and loving it.

While the lovebirds head for bed my hostess shows me photographs of her daughter’s ‘quinceanera’, or 15th birthday, which marks a coming of age for girls in many Spanish-speaking countries.

‘She’s pretty,’ I say, admiring the showy ball gowns and skimpy outfits in the photos. ‘Will she get a yuma one day?’

‘A yuma?’ the mother snaps. ‘I would kill her.’

Hold the reforms — Castro is back

Hold the reforms — Castro is back

Cuba’s leader is reasserting some leadership roles. That’s bad news for those who hoped to ease economic strictures.By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff WriterApril 28, 2007

Nine months after falling victim to an illness that many U.S. analysts assumed would prove fatal, appears to have come back from death’s door to resume some leadership responsibilities and rein in Cuba’s would-be reformers.

He’s receiving visiting dignitaries, not just friends such as Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Venezuelan Hugo but official delegations, including one last week led by a senior figure in the Chinese Communist Party, Wu Guanzheng.

Castro’s name is again attached to editorials for Cuba’s state-run media, ones in which the U.S. government is lambasted for freeing an accused terrorist and Brazil is criticized for using crops for ethanol production when they could be feeding Latin America’s poor.

And, to the alarm of veteran Cuba-watchers who sensed a new degree of openness to economic change during Castro’s absence, the apparently reinvigorated revolutionary is now believed to be blocking moves to let Cubans open small businesses.

U.S. analysts of Cuban developments acknowledge that they know little about Castro’s illness or the degree of his recuperation. His personal secretary said he was suffering from intestinal bleeding when he handed over power last summer to his brother Raul. U.S. intelligence sources have speculated that he has cancer.

But the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported the most detailed and plausible version of his prolonged medical attention, citing unidentified doctors familiar with Castro’s case. The newspaper said the Cuban president had undergone three surgeries to remove infected intestinal tissue and became gravely ill when the incisions failed to heal and the infection spread to his stomach.

Since July 31, when , the defense minister and first vice president, took over for his older brother, state-authorized media exposes on rampant corruption and the younger Castro’s public criticism of shortages in food, transportation and have hinted at internal review of Cuba’s political and economic system, said Phil Peters, vice president of the Lexington Institute near Washington and a veteran analyst of Cuban affairs.

Raul, the pragmatist

Raul Castro has a reputation for pragmatism about private enterprise within the state-run economy, having inaugurated many of the island’s most successful hard currency-earning joint ventures in in the early 1990s, when the country was reeling from the sudden cutoff of Soviet aid.

After Fidel Castro was too sick even to make an appearance at the September summit in Havana of the Non-Aligned Movement or at his delayed 80th birthday celebrations in December, the government said that a thorough review was underway to identify, and presumably correct, flaws in the communist ideology guiding the country.

“Now it looks like cold water’s getting poured over all that,” Peters said. “That, to me, is the clearest sign that Fidel Castro is getting better and getting closer to coming back to office.”

Castro remains staunchly critical of income disparities among Cubans, including the estimated $1 billion in annual remittances from relatives abroad that are believed to benefit as much as a third of the island’s population.

State salaries average about $15 a month for most workers, so the $100 a month that Cubans in the United States can legally send their relatives in Cuba has created a class divide between those who receive dollars and those who do not.

Also prospering out of proportion to those in state enterprises are the thousands of entrepreneurs who secured licenses during the early 1990s that allowed them to open private restaurants, pensions and consumer services that cater to the 2 million foreign visitors to Cuba each year.

Castro revoked many of those private-enterprise licenses three years ago and imposed withering taxes, just before he ordered the removal of the U.S. dollar from circulation in Cuba and replaced it with a new national currency called the convertible peso, which has no value outside Cuba.

Hopes of an expansion in self-employment were buoyed last fall when Raul Castro began speaking out in interviews and speeches against the government’s inability to properly provide for its 11.2 million citizens.

Those hopes were dashed, at least for the short term, this month when Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage, architect of the early 1990s reforms, parroted Fidel Castro’s condemnation of “social distortions” in a speech to a Communist youth group. Cuban media also reported recently that the academic commission assigned to examine problems with state ownership wouldn’t deliver its verdict for three years.

Peters believes the debate opened late last year will continue “airing out all kinds of dirty laundry” and putting pressure on the leadership to make course corrections.

“Carlos Lage also said, ‘We, the Cuban government, no longer pay a just wage that allows people to cover their basic needs,’ ” Peters said. “You can only say that so many times before you have to come up with a solution to the problems.”

Damian J. Fernandez, head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International in Miami, agrees that a Pandora’s box of ideological debate has been opened that will eventually lead to change.

“People are talking in Cuba. When the talk is going to materialize into action, I don’t know. But this moment of succession, the transfer of power, has broadened the parameters of what is discussable, what is permissible,” he said. “There are still parameters, but the borderlines are fuzzier.”

Cubans remain patient

Still, Castro’s return to the power structure would put a damper on the debate, he said.

“To have an open, full-fledged discussion on the future, Castro would have to be gone,” Fernandez said.

Other analysts say the seesawing on reform could threaten Cuba’s relative social peace. Although Cubans privately express a hunger for more opportunity to improve their living standards, they have remained patient throughout Castro’s rigid opposition to capitalist activity, including the types of business now allowed in allied and .

“He’s in the way,” Frank Mora, a professor of national security strategy at the National War College, said of Castro’s apparent return to the policymaking arena. “He’s prolonging a real transition. Whatever support Raul has been able to build can run out quickly if he’s not able to deliver the goods.”

However, he said, Cubans have shown little inclination to challenge their system in the way Eastern Europeans did two decades ago with pro-democracy marches and protests. There also is no discernible divide in the Cuban political or military elite, Mora said, that could be exploited by pro-democracy advocates, who are few and fearful since a major crackdown on dissent four years ago.

Although Cuba-watchers differ in their forecasts of whether Fidel Castro will resume full power, they agree he is making at least a partial leadership comeback. By Communist protocol, the head of the Cuban party should have received the Wu delegation — a role Castro signed over to his brother nine months ago.

“At least the PR campaign is that he is trying to get back in the saddle,” Fernandez said. “Can he mount the horse as totally as in the past? I think that’s unlikely. But he can still have a lot of influence.”

What is the elder Castro’s motivation for reasserting control despite advancing age, persistent infirmities and his own stated need to groom a new generation of leaders?

“Once a micromanager, always a micromanager,” Fernandez said.,1,518873.story?track=crosspromo&coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true

Cuba lifts ban on U.S. long-grain rice

Posted on Fri, Apr. 27, 2007

Cuba lifts ban on U.S. long-grain By WILL WEISSERTAssociated Press Writer

HAVANA –Cuba has lifted a ban on imports of U.S. long-grain rice that it put in place last year because of fears about genetic contamination.

Raul Sanchez, director of the U.S. division of the island’s import company Alimport, said Friday the ban was lifted earlier this month and that in recent weeks Cuba has imported 30,000 tons of long-grain U.S. rice and expects to import 10,000 more soon.

A U.S. announcement in August that American long-grain rice samples had tested positive for trace amounts of a genetically modified strain not approved for consumption prompted Japan to suspend its U.S. rice imports. Cuba imposed a ban of its own after conducting independent testing, Sanchez said.

Sanchez, who spoke during a meeting with U.S. medical company representatives, did not provide details about the exact date and why Cuba had lifted the ban, suggesting only that U.S. long-grain rice no longer appeared to be a problem.

Washington’s 45-year-old against communist Cuba chokes off most trade between the two countries but U.S. companies can sell medicine and medical supplies directly to the country under the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act. A law approved in 2000 authorized cash-only payments for U.S. food and agricultural products.

Sanchez said that so far this year Cuba has spent $196.8 million on American food and agricultural products after spending $578.8 million in all of 2006. Cuba includes shipping and other logistical costs when divulging the total amount paid for U.S. goods.

Addressing representatives from Mercury Medical, a Florida medical supply company visiting Cuba to display equipment, Sanchez said that since 2001, Cuba has spent $2.2 billion on American food and farm products, but nearly $340 million of that went to shipping alone.

The New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, attempting to estimate the amount Cuba spent on U.S. imports without taking into account logistical costs, reported the island bought about $340 million in American food and agricultural products last year.

Escasean alimentos básicos en Venezuela

Publicado el sábado 28 de abril del 2007

Escasean alimentos básicos en CARACAS

FABIOLA SANCHEZ / APLa escasez de por lo menos nueve alimentos de primera necesidad se ha incrementado en las últimas semanas en Venezuela debido al auge del consumo, la poca producción de las industrias y los retardos en la autorización de las divisas para las importaciones, según ha denunciado el sector empresarial.

Una encuesta que realizó la firma privada Datanalisis en la segunda semana de marzo reveló que existen problemas de escasez de productos tales como el azúcar, la carne, la leche en polvo, el pollo, los huevos, , harina de maíz, sardinas y caraotas ().

El estudio, que se efectuó a nivel nacional entre 1,300 personas y tiene un margen de error de 2.7 por ciento, determinó que 72.6 por ciento de la población manifestó tener dificultades para conseguir azúcar; el 52.4 por ciento expresó problemas para encontrar carne; y más del 45 por ciento reconoció que no conseguía leche en polvo y pollo.

El de la mayor organización de comercios, Noel Alvarez, afirmó que la escasez de alimentos se ha ido complicando en las últimas semanas, y advirtió que de no estimularse la producción ''se continuará agravando'' el problema.

Alvarez dijo a la AP, en una conversación telefónica, que uno de los ''factores fundamentales'' que ha incidido en el problema de la escasez es que “en el año 2006 tuvimos un desbalance casi del 100 por ciento entre la demanda y oferta''.

''El año pasado la demanda se incrementó un 18.8 por ciento, y el crecimiento del producto interno bruto estuvo en el orden del 10.3 por ciento'', acotó.

De acuerdo a cálculos de Datanalisis durante el primer trimestre del 2007 el consumo creció 18.5 por ciento, superando la cifra del mismo período del 2005 y 2006 que fue de 15 por ciento.

El presidente del Consejo Nacional del Comercio y Servicios (Consecomercio) indicó que la fuerte demanda no ha podido ser compensada con un aumento de la oferta debido a que las industrias no han incrementado la producción este año.

''El gobierno, a través de las políticas que implemente, debe tratar de construir un clima propicio para que se generen inversiones, y se genere el crecimiento de la producción para que se equipare con esa demanda creciente'', añadió.

Para compensar el problema de la baja producción el gobierno del presidente Hugo Chávez ha estimulado las importaciones, lo que llevó el promedio anual de las compras externas del país de $17,000 millones a $32,000 millones el año pasado.

Asimismo, la administración de Chávez ha promovido una reforma agraria y la constitución de cooperativas agrícolas para tratar de suplantar las importaciones de alimentos, pero esas medidas no han sido suficientes.

Ante los problemas de escasez que se presentaron a comienzos de año con la carne, el café y el azúcar, Chávez incrementó en febrero pasado los precios de algunos alimentos que están sujetos a control de precios desde el 2003.

También emitió un decreto ley para enfrentar el acaparamiento y la especulación y eliminó el pago del Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA) para un grupo de productos.

Alvarez admitió que el referido decreto ley, en vez de resolver la escasez, ha creado más problemas porque ha propiciado una ''indefinición jurídica'' sobre el nivel de los inventarios, lo que ha llevado a los comercios a tener en los almacenes bajas cantidades de productos.

''Esto es un desastre, no hay huevos, no hay leche en polvo, no hay nada'', comentó visiblemente molesta Mirian Ramos, una jubilada de 69 años, al salir de un supermercado en el centro de la capital.

''Para salir de compras debo salir con zapatos bajitos porque debo caminar bastante para tratar de conseguir mis alimentos. Esto es un desastre. Yo necesito leche descremada y como no la consigo estoy tomando calcio con . Esto ya se parece a Cuba'', sentenció Ramos.

''Con los productos que hay en los supermercados no se tapan las necesidades como debe ser. Cuando aparecen unos productos desaparecen otros'', señaló Emilino Medina, un pensionado de 61 años, quien confesó que ha incrementado el consumo de vegetales para compensar la escasez de algunos de los alimentos de su dieta diaria como las caraotas.

Trabajadores cubanos listos para desfile del 1 de mayo

Publicado el viernes 27 de abril del 2007

Trabajadores cubanos listos para desfile del 1 de mayoPor ANDREA RODRIGUEZThe Associated Press

LA HABANA –En medio de una campaña por elevar la productividad del país, la Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) se apresta a celebrar un desfile multitudinario por el 1 de mayo.

"Será una jornada revolucionaria… el país está listo para festejar", comentó el viernes a periodistas Salvador Valdés, secretario general de la organización.

Aún no se ha confirmado si asistirá el , de 80 años de edad, y quien se repone de una operación intestinal que lo obligó a delegar el poder en julio pasado. Tampoco se ha anunciado oficialmente si en su lugar estará Raúl Castro, titular del Ejecutivo en ausencia de su hermano.

Fidel Castro siempre solía asistir a las ceremonias por el Día de los Trabajadores.

Valdés resaltó que la del martes "será una movilización gigante" de cientos de miles de personas marchando por la Plaza de la Revolución, mientras en las provincias también habrá desfiles.

El dirigente hizo una larga lista de temas que motivarán las actividades por el Día de los Trabajadores como dar respaldo al sistema comunista del país y a los hermanos Castro.

Además, servirá para condenar la liberación bajo fianza en Estados Unidos del anticastrista Luis Posada Carriles, un ex operador de la CIA vinculado a la voladura de un avión cubano civil y autor confeso de una serie de bombazos en hoteles habaneros.

Nacido en Cuba y nacionalizado venezolano, Posada Carriles enfrenta un juicio migratorio, pero no hay cargos contra él por terrorismo. solicitó su extradición pues de allí se escapó de la cárcel.

Paralelamente, Valdés indicó que la jornada se produce en momentos en los cuales Cuba trabaja por incrementar la productividad, seriamente afectada durante la década 1990.

En fechas recientes se impusieron resoluciones que sancionan las indisciplinas, la falta de puntualidad y el desvío de recursos, problemas muy acentuados en la isla.

Muchos cubanos se quejan de que en contrapartida no hay mejoras en el público para llegar al trabajo, ni se incrementó el salario -de unos 300 pesos o 15 dólares mensuales- como una forma de estímulo efectivo.

"Es un proceso ordenado, gradual, sin precipitaciones y con participación de los trabajadores", indicó el dirigente, quien dijo que se realizan asambleas con los empleados para explicarles que para lograr el aumento de emolumentos es necesario mejorar los resultados.

Además de su sueldo, los isleños tienen un conjunto fuerte de subsidios a la alimentación, los servicios, la educación, la y hasta la recreación, que son mucho mayores que sus salarios.

Valdés reconoció que hay problemas para satisfacer las necesidades de los trabajadores, como falta de transporte y carencias en el poder adquisitivo.

Sin , insistió que en Cuba los trabajadores son los verdaderos dueños de los medios de producción y el papel de los sindicatos es educarlos para que entiendan su situación.

Este año, indicó el dirigente, se retomará la vieja tradición del desfile del 1 de mayo a diferencia de los últimos años en los cuales se hacían concentraciones con discursos de participantes.

Confirmaron su asistencia unos 1.350 invitados de 69 países de 233 organizaciones sindicales y sociales.

La CTC es central única y está integrada por 19 sindicatos nacionales que agrupan al 96% de los trabajadores cubanos, unos tres millones.

Aznar: ‘Cuba debe pasar a la democracia sin una sucesión en la tiranía’

En una cumbre en Filadelfia (EEUU) 27-04-2007

Aznar: 'Cuba debe pasar a la democracia sin una sucesión en la tiranía'

El ex del Gobierno español, José María Aznar, dijo hoy que Occidente desea que Cuba 'lleve a cabo una transición y no una sucesión dentro de la tiranía'.

Aznar hizo estas declaraciones ante unas 500 personas que asistieron a la 30 cumbre anual de la conservadora Fundación Heritage, que se celebra en Filadelfia, entre las que se encontraban varios analistas y expertos de los institutos políticos conservadores de EEUU.

El ex-presidente español se limitó a pronunciar su conferencia y no hizo declaración ni comentario adicional alguno a la prensa.

El ex presidente del Gobierno José María Aznar, durante una charla en la de Georgetown, en Washington.(Archivo)Aznar Tampoco hubo preguntas y respuestas.

Aznar fue presentado por Kim Colmes, vicepresidente de la Heritage, quien destacó la labor ejercida por el ex presidente español y el progreso económico que impulsó en España.

En su discurso Aznar explicó que el mundo occidental 'no debe cejar en sus esfuerzos para traer la a Cuba ' y tampoco debe olvidar a aquellos que 'luchan por la libertad dentro de la Isla'.

Aseguró que el muro de Berlín fue derribado gracias 'al valor, la determinación y la visión' de personalidades como el ex presidente estadounidense Ronald Reagan, la antigua primera ministra británica Margaret Thatcher y el fallecido Papa Juan Pablo II.

'Ellos son un ejemplo de que se pueden derribar muros y eso pasará también en Cuba', apuntó.

Aznar aprovechó para difundir el informe 'América Latina: una agenda de Libertad', que ya presentó en Madrid el pasado marzo. En esta ocasión su intervención fue interrumpida en varias ocasiones por los aplausos de la audiencia.

También se refirió a Colombia y dijo que esta nación merece un apoyo 'pleno' de Occidente y que ello es 'una obligación moral'.

'Va en nuestro propio beneficio si queremos preservar la libertad', dijo Aznar.

Sobre Latinoamérica en general indicó que es una región que en su opinión debe establecer 'lazos más fuertes' con EEUU.

Para Aznar, Latinoamérica tiene la posibilidad de abrirse al mundo, a la democracia y a un fuerte estado de derecho, pero también puede elegir el 'camino opuesto' de apartarse de las sociedades 'abiertas, libres y prósperas'.

La elección de este segundo camino, tal y como ha demostrado la historia, genera 'sufrimiento y miseria' y los que 'promueven' esta trayectoria se basan en ideas anticuadas, según el ex presidente.

Para Aznar este grupo quiere 'implantar un 'socialismo del siglo XXI', el sucesor del socialismo que generó angustia y opresión en el siglo XXI'.

'Estas ideas están resurgiendo en América Latina, a pesar del apoyo que reciben los procesos electorales', opinó el ex mandatario.

Para el ex presidente ha llegado el momento de que América Latina utilice el poder de la ideas para escoger el primer camino.

'El que lleva a la prosperidad, a la libertad y a la democracia', dijo.

A su vez, señaló lo que hoy en día los 'enemigos de las sociedades libres y abiertas, niegan' la idea de que América Latina es una parte de Occidente.

'Hay fuerzas que buscan eliminar toda esta región del mundo del progreso y ponerla en contra del resto del mundo libre. Algunas personas en Europa y en los , también niegan que las raíces de América Latina estén en Occidente. Debemos luchar contra esta peligrosa corriente', manifestó.

Aznar también se mostró convencido de que al tener en cuenta las actuales amenazas 'unir firmemente a América Latina con Occidente es vital para la supervivencia de nuestra libertad y de nuestros valores'.

A su vez, opinó que la participación activa de América Latina en Occidente depende esencialmente de la voluntad de los propios latinoamericanos.

'La historia demuestra que América Latina es capaz de alcanzar los niveles de bienestar y de libertad existentes en los países más desarrollados del mundo', agregó.

Apuntó que América Latina necesita democracias estables construidas sobre fuertes cimientos.

'Se puede luchar contra la pobreza en América Latina. No hay ninguna maldición que condena a América Latina a la injusticia y a la falta de bienestar y de ingresos', indicó Aznar.

Se mostró convencido de que la 'expropiación estatal aleja enormemente a los inversores' y subrayó que 'hay que actuar y unir fuerzas contra aquellos que no creen en las ideas de las sociedades libres', subrayó.

Aznar tiene previsto asistir el martes en Washington a la reunión del Consejo Atlántico, del que es miembro.

El ex mandatario español "es un fascista que además apoyó el golpe (de abril de 2002), es de la calaña de Adolfo Hitler, un tipo que da es asco y da lástima.Chávez :'Aznar, Toledo y Fox me dan asco y lástima'El presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, calificó después de "lacayos y cachorros del imperio" a los ex gobernantes de España José María Aznar; de Perú Alejandro Toledo, y de México Vicente Fox, por sus supuestas críticas contra el socialismo del siglo XXI promovido por él.

"Me dan asco y lástima", agregó Chávez al citar recientes críticas públicas contra su gobierno de los tres ex presidentes, a los que acusó de formar una "especie de grupo" para "hablar contra Chávez y contra ".

Ahora, Aznar, Toledo y Fox "dicen lo que no se atrevieron a decir cuando eran presidentes" de sus respectivos países, opinó el gobernante en un acto con estudiantes de las misiones educativas gubernamentales en el estado de Guárico. El ex mandatario español "es un fascista que además apoyó el golpe (de abril de 2002), es de la calaña de Adolfo Hitler, un tipo que da es asco y da lástima, un verdadero lacayo de (el presidente de Estados Unidos) George W. Bush", dijo Chávez.

Respecto a Fox, citó informaciones de prensa según las cuales el ex gobernante mexicano afirmó que "se iba a venir a Venezuela con su propio cabello, el propio charro pues, para combatir a Chávez".

"Parece un chiste más bien (…) yo no lo quiero creer, porque es de una ridiculez que se pierde de vista", manifestó el gobernante venezolano.

Agregó que "el otro, que no debería ni nombrarlo, que andan con el mismo cuentico, es Alejandro Toledo (…) cachorro del imperio". A juicio del mandatario venezolano, los tres ex presidentes que él vio "arrastrándose, babosos, ante el imperio, se andan agrupando para buscar dinero" porque "no tienen trabajo".

Cuba compra alimentos y productos agrícolas a EEUU

Cuba compra alimentos y productos agrícolas a EEUU

Cuba ha gastado casi 197 millones de dólares en alimentos y productos agrícolas estadounidenses en lo que va del año, y recientemente levantó una prohibición al de grano largo de que había impuesto por temor a la contaminación genética, dijo el viernes un alto funcionario.

Raúl Sánchez, director de la división estadounidense de la compañía importadora de alimentos de la isla, Alimport, dijo que desde que Cuba empezó dichas importaciones en diciembre del 2001 ha firmado contratos con 163 empresas, productores y exportadores en 35 estados. También ha establecido relaciones de trabajo con 22 puertos estadounidenses y ha recibido bienes de 37 estados.

En un discurso ante representantes de Mercury Medical _una compañía de suministros médicos en la Florida_ que vinieron por dos días a Cuba para exhibir algunos de sus equipos, Sánchez dijo que la isla gastó 196,8 millones de dólares en alimentos y productos agrícolas estadounidenses en lo que va del 2007, y 578,8 millones de dólares el año pasado.

El total que dio para el 2006 fue ligeramente superior al anunciado el mes pasado por el de Alimport, Pedro Alvarez, cuando habló de 560 millones. Cuba incluye la suma que paga por y otros costos logísticos cuando divulga el total pagado por artículos estadounidenses.

Sánchez dijo que desde el 2001, Cuba ha gastado 2.200 millones de dólares en alimentos y productos agrícolas estadounidenses, pero que unos 340 millones de esa suma fueron para el transporte solamente.

El Consejo Económico y Comercial Estados Unidos-Cuba intenta calcular la suma que la isla gastó en importaciones estadounidenses sin tener en cuenta los costos logísticos.

Informó que Cuba compró unos 340 millones de dólares en esos rubros el año pasado, una disminución del 3% respecto del 2005. El consejo calcula el total en 1.500 millones de dólares desde diciembre del 2001.

Muchos estadounidenses creen que el de Washington de 45 años a la Cuba comunista prohíbe todo comercio entre ambos países. Pero las compañías estadounidenses pueden vender medicamentos y suministros médicos directamente al país según la Ley de la Democracia Cubana de 1992. Una ley aprobada en el 2000 autorizó pagos solamente en efectivo por la venta de alimentos y productos agrícolas estadounidenses.

Cuba se negó a importar siquiera un grano de arroz durante más de un año debido a disputas por la financiación, pero finalmente accedió a aprovechar la ley después que el huracán Michelle afectó sus abastecimientos en noviembre del 2001.

Tres años después, el gobierno del presidente George W. Bush impuso reglas más estrictas para el pago cubano por bienes estadounidenses.


En Cuba, migración interna de mujeres se dirige a La Habana

Más por razones familiares que económicasEn Cuba, migración interna de mujeres se dirige a La HabanaPor Dixie Edith

La Habana, Cuba, 26 abril 07 (CIMAC/SEMlac).- Aunque no son mayoría entre quienes se trasladan dentro del país, las cubanas sí están en el centro de ese fenómeno que los demógrafos llaman migraciones internas.

Esta migración que no sobrepasa los límites nacionales se realiza casi en un 68.1 por ciento por razones familiares, no económicas, como ocurre en el resto de Latinoamérica, de acuerdo con la última Encuesta Nacional de Migraciones Internas (ENMI), de 1995.

Esto quiere decir que cambian de ubicación por causas relacionadas con el matrimonio y el divorcio, acercamiento a los seres queridos, problemas entre parientes y otros similares, según los datos del Instituto de Planificación Física (IPF), el Centro de Estudios Demográficos (Cedem) y la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas (ONE), con el apoyo del Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas.

Ofelia Domínguez nunca se ha cambiado de hogar. Desde que nació, hace 54 años, sólo ha dejado en dos ocasiones su natal Florida, en la oriental provincia de Camagüey, para ir de visita a casa de su hija en la capital. Sin , conoce de migraciones.

"Tuve cinco hijos, dos hembras y tres varones. La mayor es bióloga y trabaja en un centro científico en La Habana. Los varones mayores andan por Villa Clara y Matanzas (provincias del centro), trabajando en comunicaciones y en el . La que les sigue se fue detrás del esposo para Santiago de Cuba y sólo me queda David, el más chiquito".

Domínguez, sin embargo, no es optimista: "David ya cumplió 17 años. Estará conmigo hasta que se enamore o se le ocurra ir a probar suerte con un trabajo lejos", explica.

Para esta ama de casa, la mayor consecuencia de la separación de su familia es que apenas ve a sus dos nietos mayores y a la más pequeña, de cuatro meses de nacida, aún no la conoce.

Según el criterio de psicólogos, el distanciamiento afectivo suele acarrear sentimientos depresivos o de ansiedad para ambas partes. En ciertos niños y adolescentes, la ausencia del ser querido puede afectar, incluso, la estabilidad emocional y disminuir el rendimiento escolar.

En 2005, de las 70 mil 290 personas migrantes que se reportaron en la isla, 35 mil 618 fueron de sexo masculino y 34 mil 672 de sexo femenino. En términos estadísticos se puede afirmar que las cifras tienden a un equilibrio por sexo.

Diana Saldívar es una de esas mujeres que decidieron abandonar su región de origen. Cuando empezaba 2003, marchó desde Las Tunas (650 kilómetros al este de la capital) a Ciego de Ávila (a 420 de La Habana), tras una oferta de empleo en un centro turístico de esa provincia.

Allí conoció a su actual esposo y nació Claudia, su primera hija, un año después. A fines de 2006 salió embarazada nuevamente y sus padres decidieron llevarse a la niña mayor para Las Tunas, para que ella pudiera dedicar más tiempo a su embarazo y su trabajo.

"Sólo la veo cuando puedo ir algún fin de semana y cuando hay alguna fiesta familiar. La extraño mucho. Mi esposo me ha dicho que deje de trabajar y me vaya con la niña hasta que nazca la otra, pero yo no quiero, pues tengo miedo de que mi matrimonio se rompa", se lamenta la traductora de 34 años.

Sociólogos, psicólogos y otros especialistas coinciden con Diana en que vivir casado es un reto cuando uno de los cónyuges anda lejos del hogar por prolongados períodos de tiempo.

El agobio por el peso de las responsabilidades domésticas no compartidas o por los problemas en la crianza de los hijos hace pensar a no pocas parejas en el divorcio, como una solución. También puede aparecer la sensación de abandono.


Poco más de una década después, los motivos familiares siguen encabezando la lista de las razones para migrar. Pero la insatisfacción con el empleo y la búsqueda de opciones laborales en otros territorios les siguen de cerca, según especialistas.

Históricamente, la población de la isla se ha movido de oriente hacia occidente, pasando por una zona central bastante estable, convertida en una suerte de trampolín o sitio de tránsito.

Entre los territorios del oeste cubano, sólo Pinar del Río, en el extremo occidental del país, es una provincia emisora de viajantes.

Pero el sentido de las migraciones internas cambió con la aplicación, en 1997, del Decreto Ley 217, para regular las migraciones internas hacia la capital.

Por primera vez, desde que se llevan registros estadísticos, Ciudad de La Habana tuvo saldos migratorios negativos. Desde entonces no hay una lógica migratoria única y los escenarios perspectivos están en constante estudio.

Enrique González Galván, jefe del departamento de población del Centro de Estudios de Población y Desarrollo de la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas (ONE), ha declarado a la prensa local que los desplazamientos poblacionales en Cuba han variado sensiblemente, sobre todo respecto a su volumen.

Entre 1989 y 1996 se trasladaban anualmente entre 170 mil y 190 mil personas. Luego siguió un marcado descenso, hasta que en 2005 la cifra sólo sumó poco más de 70 mil personas.

El momento del cambio coincide con el año de la aplicación del decreto regulatorio hacia la capital, pero las transformaciones van mucho más allá.

"Actualmente, las migraciones hacia la capital vienen mostrando nuevamente una tendencia al aumento, mientras el país sigue una dinámica opuesta", explica el experto.

Aunque la diferencia no es notable, la ciudad de La Habana sí recibe, además, más mujeres que hombres de otras provincias. En 2005 llegaron a la capital 5 mil 449 mujeres y 5 mil 069 hombres.

Las provincias con saldos negativos más pronunciados son Granma, Santiago de Cuba y Guantánamo, en el oriente del país; precisamente aquellas que necesitan de mayor impulso en las inversiones en función de fomentar opciones de empleo y desarrollo.

Estudios del Instituto de Planificación Física (IPF) aseguran que, en los últimos años, más de un millón de cubanos ha emigrado desde las pequeñas comunidades y asentamientos rurales hacia las cabeceras municipales y provinciales.


Dentro de la gran masa de personas que cada día se despide del campo, abundan jóvenes, técnicos y profesionales con una preparación media o alta. ¿Por qué emigran? ¿Qué beneficios reporta alejarse de lugares que, paradójicamente, son los más necesitados de mano de obra joven y personal calificado?

Los estudios del IPF confirmaban, a fines de la pasada década, que los principales problemas en los pequeños asentamientos rurales –o franja de base, según definición de los expertos– estaban asociados con el , la dotación de potable y disposición de residuales, la electrificación y alumbrado público, las telecomunicaciones y urbanización de los poblados, la y las posibilidades de superación y recreación.

En línea con las recomendaciones de la encuesta de 1995, González Galván cree que nuevos proyectos encaminados a mejorar las condiciones de las comunidades rurales pueden estar influyendo en la disminución de los saldos migratorios.

Aquella investigación nacional auguraba un buen final para cualquier programa social que volviera la vista a los campos y entre sus conclusiones sostenía que, con recursos mínimos, los pobladores de la llamada franja de base emprenderían por sí mismos la solución de sus problemas, pues valoraban mucho la tranquilidad y el ambiente de su entorno.

Con la aplicación reciente de varios programas se ha llevado la computación y los medios audiovisuales hasta asentamientos rurales muy alejados, por medio de la instalación de paneles solares que suministran la electricidad.

Paralelamente, se han diversificado los servicios de atención primaria de y los polos turísticos a lo largo de la Isla. Pero, a nivel sociodemográfico, el impacto aún está por estudiarse de manera integral.

Como asevera la investigadora Mayra Mena Correa, también del Centro de Estudios de Población y Desarrollo, "tenemos que indagar no sólo entre la gente que se va y que viene, sino en por qué se va y por qué viene".


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