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Daily Archives: September 9, 2009

Cuban YouTube star’s freedom sought

Cuban YouTube star's soughtPublished: Sept. 8, 2009 at 12:05 PM

MIAMI, Sept. 8 (UPI) — activists say they support a Cuban man whose drunken plea for in a video posted on YouTube resulted in a two-year jail sentence.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez Marcos, 48, also known as Panfilo, was convicted of "pre-criminal social endangerment" after video of him jumping into the frame of a music documentary being filmed in Havana while shouting, "What we need here is a little bit of jama (Cuban Spanish slang for food)!'' became a YouTube sensation, El Nuevo Herald, Miami, reported Tuesday.

"We need food! We're hungry here! Listen to what Panfilo tells you from Cuba: food!'' Gonzalez says in another close-up.

The Herald said Gonzalez was Aug. 4 after another of video of him, again appearing intoxicated, was shown on Miami television in which he reportedly performed a street rap in which he said the were going to put him "away."

"This incident was unexpected and came as a surprise because the protagonist was not a political nor a person trying to defend a position or gain popularity,'' human rights advocate Jorge Salcedo of Boston told the newspaper.

Cuban YouTube star's freedom sought – (8 September 2009)

Giant crocodile fossil found in Cuba

Giant crocodile fossil found in CubaPosted : Tue, 08 Sep 2009 18:02:41 GMTAuthor : DPACategory : Science (Technology)

Havana – Cuban scientists have found a fossil of a 10-metre- long crocodile that lived more than 20 million years ago. These are the first fossils found on the island of this reptile, which lived in the Miocene period, Alejandro Romero Emperador, a member of Cuba's Speleological Society, told the local news agency Prensa Latina on Tuesday.

The fossils were found in the spillway of Zaza dam, Cuba's largest reservoir, in the central province of Sancti Spiritus.

Romero Emperador said the remains were found along with those of aquatic mammals known as dugongs. They were exposed by the water's erosion of the soil.

The expert noted that other fossils of gigantic animals have also been found in the area, although the species to which they belong is yet to be determined.

Giant crocodile fossil found in Cuba : Science Technology (9 September 2009),giant-crocodile-fossil-found-in-cuba.html

South Florida sees upswing in family trips to Cuba

Posted on Wednesday, 09.09.09South Florida sees upswing in family trips to CubaSouth Florida has seen a surge in trips to Cuba as new U.S. policies toward Havana take shape.BY ALFONSO CHARDY AND RUI [email protected]

Nildo Herrera drew the stares of fellow passengers and ticket agents as he checked into his recent Havana flight at Miami International wearing five hats, one atop another.

“One is for my grandson, another for my son and the rest for other relatives,'' the smiling 75-year-old Hialeah resident explained to a bemused Vivian Mannerud, a local Cuba industry executive handling his boarding.

Herrera was one of the thousands of travelers who swarm MIA's Concourse F pushing carts precariously loaded with mountains of suitcases and duffel bags, all tightly wrapped in blue plastic, as they inch their way to ticket counters to pick up boarding passes for Cuba flights.

The scenes are reminiscent of the days when MIA filled up with tens of thousands of exiles on early family-reunification flights in the late 1970s and early '80s. Family travel gradually dwindled as U.S.-Cuba relations cooled.

Now, five months after Congress loosened strict Bush-era rules for family visits to Cuba, the numbers of travelers to the island is up dramatically, South Florida travel executives say.

Between April and June, about 55,000 people traveled to Cuba, compared to 30,000 in the three previous months, before the restrictions were lifted. The number of travelers is expected to hit 200,000 by year's end, about double the yearly figures during the Bush restrictions. And travel executives expect the numbers to spike even higher now that new rules announced by the Obama administration — which lift all restrictions on family visits to Cuba — have taken effect.

The new rules mean that those with family in Cuba can visit as often and for as long as they like. Previous rules restricted visits to as few as once every three years.

“No question, there is a noticeable increase in travel to Cuba,'' said Armando García, of Marazul Charters, one of the oldest Cuba charter airline companies.

The upswing has prompted one veteran Cuba travel executive to come out of retirement, and persuaded charter companies to add flights — for a total of about 30 to 35 per week, compared to about 15 to 18 last year.

Cities currently authorized to handle Cuba charter flights are New York, Los Angeles and Miami — with the bulk of flights leaving from MIA. Several other cities, including Key West and New Orleans, are seeking authority for Cuba-bound travel.

Mannerud, president of Airline Brokers in Coral Gables, symbolizes the renewed interest in Cuba travel.

She is the daughter of Fernando Fuentes Coba, South Florida pioneer of the Cuba travel business, who started island charter flights in 1978.

Mannerud partially retired in 2000 to fight breast cancer. With her disease now in remission, she decided to return to the business after the Obama administration announced the lifting of travel restrictions, and reopened her charter business in May.

MIA ticket counters that handle Cuba trips are once again full of baggage-laden travelers waiting to board planes bound for Havana and other Cuban cities.

For many it's a familiar routine, but for others the trip feels like an adventure because it's their first time in Cuba.

“I can't wait,'' said Manuel Bustillo, a Colombia-born air-conditioning repair technician in Miami, traveling for the first time with his Cuban-American wife Maribel Pérez and her 12-year-old daughter Nisvelys. Pérez has traveled to Cuba four times in the past but had not returned for a few years because of restrictions.

Bustillo, 47, said the loosening of travel rules inspired him and his wife to book their flight and spend the more than $5,000 a typical Cuba family trip requires.

The bulk of the money, he said, went on clothes, medical supplies and for her family in Quivicán, south of Havana.

When the family arrived in Cuba they were picked up at José Martí International Airport by Pérez's family — all crammed into a green 1952 Pontiac, which belonged to her late father José.

Pérez and her mother, Teresita, hugged each other and cried before the Cuba family and their Miami guests drove in the old car to Quivicán, about 25 miles from Havana.

“It was a very emotional trip, and we got to see Cuba up close and personal,'' Bustillo said. “It was quite an experience.''

El Nuevo Herald staff writer Wilfredo Cancio Isla of El Nuevo Herald contributed to this report. A Miami Herald staff writer also reported from Havana. The name of the reporter was withheld because the lacked the visa required by the Cuban government to report from the island. The government routinely denies Herald requests for such visas.

South Florida sees upswing in family trips to Cuba – Today's Top Stories - (9 September 2009)

Dutch Bank Booted from Cuba

Dutch Bank Booted from CubaSeptember 9, 2009

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 9 – Cuban authorities decided to cancel the operating license of the Dutch bank ING Barinas and the mixed enterprise comprised of the bank and Cuba under the name of Netherlands Caribbean Bank N.V., informed the Central Bank of Cuba.

The closure was justified by the fact that ING Barinas has for some time stopped carrying out business on the island, reported IPS.

Dutch Bank Booted from Cuba – Havana (9 September 2009)

Searching for isolated brethren in Cuba

Searching for isolated brethren in CubaWritten by Atara BeckTuesday, 08 September 2009

THORNHILL – In the spirit of Hakhel*, which falls this year, Canadian Friends of Cuban Jewry (CJCJ) travelled to remote corners of that island searching for isolated brethren.CFCJ goes beyond delivering Passover goods to Jews in Cuba, which is also done by a few other organizations. Throughout the year CFCJ representatives, on a rotational basis look into people's needs, both material and spiritual.

What was unusual this year was a journey taken by a few idealistic volunteers in their early 20s, who had mastered the Spanish language while doing outreach for two years in , to 20 cities and towns across the island, most of which have between 1 and 24 Jewish residents.

"This year is the year of Hakhel…a mitzvah for once in seven years," CFCJ director Rabbi Shimon Aisenbach explained. "The [Lubavitch]rebbe took this idea and said it should be a year of finding people more than is done on a regular basis. So when we chose this year to start this program of assembling Jews from remote corners and to bring out their Jewish identity as a basis for future connection with them, it was in the spirit of Hakhel.

"The success went beyond my imagination," he added. "We started with a list of 14 cities and found out about halachic [according to Torah law] Jews in other parts of the country. Every meeting was another story.

"The town of Palma Soriano at the corner of the island had one lone Jew. He had been there for decades and he literally felt like Moshiach (the Messiah) had arrived. He had some old haggadahs [story of Passover] and other seforim [holy books]. He was so overwhelmed. They put mezuzos [small container with prayer] on his door, gave him tefillin (phylacteries), some money. He wouldn't let them go."

Now he goes periodically to Santiago, which has nine Jews.

This past summer also saw the 15th annual summer camp for Jewish children from Havana and the suburbs, where about 40 youngsters and their families visit exciting attractions that are generally closed to the public. According to Rabbi Aisenbach, the past 15 months or so have seen some changes.

"Some public places are opening up to locals – not all, but there's a certain leniency," he said.

The camp's educational component teaches about Judaism in a "very structured fashion, while giving them a good time.

"Throughout the year, there is humanitarian aid [from CFCJ]. There are a lot of home visits, not just programming. We look into their needs. If we know there are young children, we'll bring something for them. That is very important to us, not just to give a flash of a good time, but to get into the nitty-gritty of their lives. Not just dropping off packages, but sitting with them, sometimes for hours. Volunteers rotate and often stay for several weeks at a time. The home visits are very time consuming."

Over the years CFCJ has taken young people to experience Jewish life abroad and many have married Jewish as a result. Quite a few returned to Cuba to share their knowledge back home.

"But the camp is the highlight," Rabbi Aisenbach enthused. "You see kids having fun while learning to daven [pray]."

* Hakhel is a septennial ingathering of Jews to promote Torah study and observance, instituted by the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, based on the biblical commandment for Jews to assemble, once every seven years, at the Holy Temple on the second night of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2009 )

Jewish Tribune – Searching for isolated brethren in Cuba (9 September 2009)

Cuba reduces tariffs on Iranian imports

Cuba reduces tariffs on Iranian importsUpdated: Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Washington, 9 September (WashingtonTV)—Cuba state media reported on Tuesday that Havana has put into effect preferential tariffs on goods imported from Iran.

The accord, which implements terms agreed to in a bilateral trade agreement signed between Havana and Tehran in 2007, reduces tariffs on 88 different products, reports AFP.

Tariffs will be reduced by as much as 30 percent on items, including textiles, industrial machinery and furniture.

According to official data, trade between the two countries grew from 22.9 million dollars in 2007 to 46.4 million dollars in 2008, reports AFP.

Source: Agence -Presse

Cuba reduces tariffs on Iranian imports – WashingtonTV ???????? ??????? (9 September 2009)

Church again fails to elect bishop coadjutor

CUBA: Church again fails to elect bishop coadjutorBy Matthew Davies, September 08, 2009

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church of Cuba failed to elect a bishop coadjutor for the second time in three months. None of the three episcopal candidates, during a September 5 special synod meeting in Havana, received the required two thirds majority of votes from both the laity and the clergy.

The candidates were the Rev. Jose Angel Gutierrez, rector of San Lucas in Ciego de Avila; the Rev. Emilio Martin, rector of San Francisco de Asis in Cardenas; and the Rev. Alfredo Nuno Sierra, rector of La Santisima Trinidad in Moron. Gutierrez withdrew after the fourth ballot and Sierra after the sixth.

After 12 ballots, Martin, the only candidate left on the slate, moved that the synod be adjourned, Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of , told ENS. On the 12th ballot, Martin had received 16 out of 31 votes in the clergy order, with 14 blank and one void, and 22 out of 36 votes in the lay order, with 13 blank and one void. This was fewer votes than had been cast for Martin in the previous six ballots.

Although Martin failed to receive the required majority from the clergy, he gained more than two thirds of the lay votes for six of the 12 ballots, said Pollesel, who oversaw the election on behalf of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba.

The council, which governs the Cuban church in matters of faith and order, is made up of the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the archbishop of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, and the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. The council has overseen the church in Cuba since it separated from the Episcopal Church in 1967.

The Cuban church has not elected its own bishop for more than 20 years because of internal divisions within the diocese, the Anglican Journal reported in June when the last special synod ended without an election following 10 rounds of voting. Guiterrez and Martin were candidates in the June election. According to Pollesel, Martin "was a clear leader from the first ballot to the last one" during that election.

Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Anglican Church of Uruguay has served as interim bishop of Cuba for six years and plans to retire. The Cuban church, with about 40 congregations and some 10,000 Episcopalians, is also served by two bishops suffragan, Nerva Cot Aguilera and Ulises Aguero Prendes, who were selected by the Metropolitan Council in February 2007 and consecrated in June the same year. Pollesel said it will now fall to the Metropolitan Council to decide on a bishop coadjutor.

– Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and international correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal Life Online – WORLD REPORT (8 September 2009)

Monseñor García Ibáñez consigue la primera procesión en 48 años en Santiago de Cuba

ReligiónMonseñor García Ibáñez consigue la primera procesión en 48 años en Santiago de Cuba

Más de 10.000 fieles aclamaron a la Patrona a su paso por las calles.

Alberto Méndez Castelló, Santiago de Cuba | 09/09/2009

"La gente lo que quiere es escuchar la palabra de Dios; usted lo está viviendo, ahí está toda esa gente, lo sienten, lo que quieren es escuchar y hablar con Dios", dijo este 8 de septiembre a, en la Catedral de Santiago de Cuba, monseñor Dionisio García Ibáñez, el arzobispo primado de la Isla.

Abajo, en el Parque Céspedes, tomados de la mano y con los brazos en alto, miles de fieles entonaban cánticos en estado de éxtasis, al influjo de un momento que la ciudad no vivía desde hacía 48 años. Un sonoro y prolongado aplauso irrumpió al llegar la imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad, ausente de las calles desde el 8 de septiembre de 1961.

Pasadas las ocho de la noche, desde el balcón del arzobispado, García Ibáñez exclamó: "La Virgen está en la calle", y luego se integró al pueblo pidiendo la bendición para las madres, los enfermos hospitalizados, los médicos y todos los que a esa hora estaban trabajando.

Un capitán de la policía reparó en que en el parque y las calles adyacentes había no menos de 10.000 personas. El dato fue corroborado por un funcionario del gobierno, con una simple analogía: "Si los sentamos en las sillas que situamos allí el primero de enero por el aniversario 50 de la revolución, la mitad, o más, se quedarían de pie".

Pero quizá resulte engañoso que sólo 10.000 personas acompañaran a "Cachita", porque otra tantas, como las que llegaron a la Catedral, la aplaudieron al pasar y la retuvieron en sus corazones desde los portales, balcones y azoteas, con gestos manifiestos.

En las calles Paraíso y Heredia, la procesión se detuvo y el arzobispo pidió —como ya había hecho en la mañana en el Santuario— porque cada familia tuviera "un trabajo digno y un salario justo", para que cada barrio sea un lugar de paz donde las familias puedan criar a sus hijos: "Santiago, en nombre de toda la patria, saluda a la Virgen con un aplauso que se oiga", dijo, y la aclamación de los peregrinos se dejó sentir.

Al detenerse la procesión en Enramada y San Agustín, el arzobispo de Santiago y de la conferencia episcopal pidió por los presos y sus familiares.

"Que sean tratados con dignidad donde no tienen , que cada persona sea capaz de ayudar al que sufre", apuntó.

Casi al concluir, y luego de cantar el Himno Nacional, el prelado pidió lo mejor para todos los cubanos, "donde quiera que estén".

"Te pedimos, Virgen de la Caridad, por los cubanos que están fuera de su patria y por todos los que están aquí luchando por ella", añadió.

'Despegue de la fe cristiana'

A la peregrinación no acudieron ni la prensa nacional ni la extranjera, ni mucho menos las autoridades civiles. Esto no fue un lastre para que en las calles de la segunda ciudad de la Isla se viviera la jornada con intensidad.

"La paz es aceptar al otro tal como es, que nadie se ponga por encima de nadie. Darle la paz al que está al lado es conseguir la propia", indicó García Ibáñez ante los fieles congregados en el Parque Céspedes.

Cornelio Duménigo, un habanero que desde hace 35 años asiste a las celebraciones en El Cobre, dijo que "nunca antes había visto una concurrencia" como la del martes. Camiones, ómnibus y autos de todas partes del país abarrotaron el pequeño poblado cercano a Santiago.

En la primera misa, refiriéndose a la fe de los cubanos por su Patrona, el arzobispo recalcó: "Ella quiere que respeten los mandamientos de Dios. En la misma manera en que seamos honestos, que nadie quiera ponerse encima del otro, seremos más felices, y nuestra sociedad debe cambiar para mejorar, para que todos seamos iguales", dijo.

"Una sociedad se aparta de Dios cuando se ejerce el poder por el poder, pero no piensen que una persona ocupa el lugar de Dios", señaló el prelado en El Cobre. Y en la noche, miles de santiagueros que peregrinaron por sus calles, sin más convocatoria que la de sus corazones, así lo han demostrado.

"La Caridad es la única fuerza que nos puede unir a todos los cubanos, para que los gobernantes promuevan el diálogo entre nosotros", reflexionó el arzobispo en El Cobre.

Una de las empleadas del Santuario, desde hace 21 años, la hermana Martha Lee, afirma que "ya se siente el despegue de la fe cristiana" en la Isla.

Y aunque los medios hayan ignorado la demostración pública de los ciudadanos, en Santiago, La Habana y en toda la Isla, las procesiones por el Día de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre están en la voz de la gente.


Monseñor García Ibáñez consigue la primera procesión en 48 años en Santiago de Cuba – Noticias – Cuba – (9 September 2009)

The governor of New Mexico has asked South Florida exile leaders to lead dialogue with Cuba.

Posted on Wednesday, 09.09.09CUBAU.S.-Cuba dialogue team envisionedThe governor of New Mexico has asked South Florida exile leaders to lead dialogue with Cuba.BY FRANCES [email protected]

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has an old idea that's been tried before, which even its supporters say won't work: Create a team of exiles to dialogue with the Cuban government.

Richardson pitched the idea to top Cuban officials while on a recent trip to the island, and he's already approached Cuban-American leaders who have agreed to participate, he told The Miami Herald in an interview.

He won't say whom.

The Cubans here went for it. The ones on the island — not so much.

“They weren't crazy about the idea,'' Richardson said. “They didn't reject it. They said, `We always have dialogue,' but you can't have dialogue without those who have the political clout.''

Richardson, a former candidate for , visited Cuba in late August on a trade mission. He returned advocating more legalized to the island, and saying that the Cuban government must do its part, too.

His trip was met with eye-rolls in some sectors of Miami, where even the people who promote dialogue said the plan would probably flop.

“I saw in the Cubans a lack of flexibility,'' Richardson said. “I told them, `Look, there has to be reciprocity. You can't just want the lifted and Radio Martí issues dealt with and an end to Guanánamo and you guys don't do anything.' Let the Cubans take some steps.''

His dialogue suggestion goes back some 30 years, when a Cuban-American banker named Bernardo Benes secretly negotiated the release of 3,600 political prisoners — and became a pariah for it.

There was a time in this community that just advocating such missions got you bombed and shot.

“Maybe Richardson is bored,'' Benes said. “I applaud him.''

Benes said Richardson first approached him with that idea in 1997, the morning after Richardson was named the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. That was a year after Richardson, then a U.S. representative, had met with and negotiated the release of three Cuban political prisoners.

In 1994, three Cuban Americans flew to Madrid, Cuba and New York to meet with the Cuban foreign minister. That year, a local delegation attended the first migration conference there, which erupted in controversy in South Florida.

Attorney Alfredo Durán, who met with the Cuban foreign minister in 1994, said the challenge with negotiating with Havana is that they refuse to set an agenda.


“I refuse to act like a seal and applaud,'' Durán said. “They don't want an agenda, and they really don't want to deal with Cuban Americans.''

But Durán supports Richardson's idea anyway, as does activist Ramón Saúl Sánchez.

“Our experience has been that the government never talks to real members of the opposition,'' Sánchez said. “They try to have dialogue that is basically a monologue. But if there is will by the government of Cuba to dialogue, then you can rest assured you will find courage among exiles to do the same.''

Bay of Pigs veteran and dialogue advocate Marcelino Miyares said the trick is to start talks with “easy'' topics like humanitarian issues.

“The Cuban government has never agreed to talk to the opposition inside or outside Cuba, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying,'' said Miyares, spokesman for Consenso Cubano, a moderate exile organization. ` “The only problem with Richardson is that he's too public,'' Miyares said. “This type of thing historically is done in a third country, almost in secret.''

Critics say the idea is a waste of time cooked up by a politician dodging personal problems.


Richardson was forced to withdraw his nomination as U.S. secretary of commerce this year over a federal investigation into how a political donor landed a lucrative transportation contract.

“You cannot substitute dialogue with political prisoners in Cuba with dialogue with an ad hoc group of Cuban Americans,'' said Orlando Gutiérrez, National Secretary of the Democratic Directorate, a human rights group here.

“I think now he's seeking publicity and commercial and entrepreneurial opportunities for New Mexico. He's had bad publicity and needs good publicity with this diplomatic stuff.''

Jaime Suchlicki, who heads the of Miami's Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies, said Richardson is underestimating howlittle Raúl Castro cares about the exile community.

“What does Raúl care about Cuban Americans?'' Suchlicki said.

“He has , the Chinese just gave him $600 million, and Iran and the Russians gave him millions. What does he need Cuban Americans for?''

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called Richardson's proposal “one of the lamest'' ideas she's ever heard.

U.S.-Cuba dialogue team envisioned – Americas – (9 September 2009)

In last speech, Sen. Mel Martinez says he’s `grateful to people of Florida’

Posted on Wednesday, 09.09.09In last speech, Sen. Mel Martinez says he's `grateful to people of Florida'BY LESLEY [email protected]

WASHINGTON — Retiring Sen. Mel Martinez delivered his final remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, declaring he was leaving with a “heavy heart.''

“I am very grateful to the people of Florida for giving me the privilege ofrepresenting them in the United States Senate,'' said Martinez, who leaves his first term with 16 months to go.

“Having lived through the onset of tyranny in one country and played a partin the proud democratic traditions of another, I leave here today withtremendous gratitude for the opportunity to give back to the nation I love,'' said Martinez, who was born in Cuba.

His temporary successor, George LeMieux, watched from the gallery, along with Martinez's family and Senate staffers.

Martinez declared “tremendous progress'' on a number of issues, including efforts to protect Florida's coast from oil rigs, modernizing the military throughincreased shipbuilding and working to protect home buyers from bad loans,bad investments and predatory lending practices.

He said he'll continue to speak out on democracy for Cuba, which he said “has always been and will continue to be a lifelong passion.''

“It is my fervent hope that one day in the not too distant future, the peopleof Cuba will live in with dignity and the hope for a better tomorrowthat is their God-given right,'' he said. “Even though I will no longer hold public office, my passion to work and devote myself to seeing a day when the people of Cuba can live in freedom will continue.''

He said he was leaving with a “sense of regret'' that Congress had been unable to reach an agreement on revamping the nation's immigration laws.

“I hope Congress can one day reach consensus on the issue because fixing ournation's broken immigration system remains a national imperative,'' he said.

He also delivered a special message in Spanish to South Florida's Cuban-American community.

“You embraced me and believed in me,'' he said in Spanish. “We shared pride in who we are and what we have accomplished. Your enthusiastic support has touched my heart for aslong as I live, and I will treasure these things forever.''

Martinez quoted José Marti as he closed: “Liberty is the essence of life.''

“As a public servant, his words have stuck with me as I have worked to ensurefreedom and opportunity continues to flourish across my state and our greatnation,'' he said.

In last speech, Sen. Mel Martinez says he's `grateful to people of Florida' – Afternoon Update (stories) – (9 September 2009)

Considerable aumento de los viajes a Cuba

Publicado el miércoles, 09.09.09El por dentroConsiderable aumento de los viajes a CubaPor ALFONSO CHARDY y RUI [email protected]

Nildo Herrera llamó recientemente la atención de los pasajeros y los agentes de boletos de la aerolínea mientras chequeaba su equipaje para un viaje a La Habana desde el Internacional de Miami (MIA), porque tenía puestos cinco sombreros uno encima del otro.

"Uno es para mi nieto, otro para mi hijo y el resto para otros familiares'', le explicó sonriente el vecino de Hialeah, de 75 años, a una divertida Vivian Mannerud, ejecutiva del sector de viajes a Cuba, quien lo atendió.

Herrera era uno de los miles de viajeros que llenan el Pasillo F del MIA empujando carros con montañas de maletas y paquetes, cuidadosamente envueltos en plástico azul, mientras hacen la fila para recoger el boleto de abordaje y viajar a Cuba.

Esto recuerda los días en que el aeropuerto estaba atestado de exiliados en vuelos de reunificación familiar. Los viajes familiares a Cuba fueron disminuyendo a medida que las relaciones entre y Cuba se enfriaban.

Ahora, cinco meses después que el Congreso eliminó las fuertes normas impuestas por el gobierno de George W. Bush a las visitas familiares a Cuba, el número de viajeros a la isla ha aumentado sustancialmente, afirman ejecutivos del sector en el sur de la Florida.

Entre abril y junio unas 55,000 personas han viajado a Cuba desde Miami, en comparación con 30,000 en los tres meses anteriores, antes que se levantaran las restricciones. Se espera que el número de viajeros llegue a 200,000 para fines de año, alrededor del doble de la cifra anual durante la era de restricciones de Bush. Los ejecutivos de viajes esperan que las cifras aumenten todavía más ahora que las medidas anunciadas por el gobierno de Obama –que levantó todas las restricciones sobre viajes familiares a Cuba– entraron en vigor.

Las nuevas normas indican que quienes tienen familiares en Cuba pueden visitar la isla todas las veces que quieran por el tiempo que estimen conveniente. Antes las visitas estaban limitadas a una vez cada tres años.

"No hay duda, hay un notable aumento en los viajes a Cuba'', afirmó Armando García, de Marazul Charters, una de las empresas de vuelos a Cuba con más tiempo en el mercado.

El aumento ha provocado que una veterana ejecutiva de los viajes a Cuba saliera del retiro y persuadiera a las compañías de flete a aumentar los vuelos –a entre 30 y 35 semanales– en comparación con entre 15 y 18 el año pasado.

En este momento sólo se puede volar a Cuba desde Miami, Nueva York y Los Angeles, y la gran mayoría sale de Miami.

Mannerud, presidenta de Brokers en Coral Gables, simboliza el renovado interés en los viajes a Cuba.

Mannerud es hija de Fernando Fuentes Coba, un pionero surfloridano del negocio de los viajes a Cuba que empezó los vuelos a la isla en 1978.

Mannerud se retiró parcialmente en el 2000 debido a un cáncer de seno. Con su enfermedad en remisión, decidió regresar al negocio cuando el gobierno federal anunció el levantamiento de las restricciones a los viajes y reabrió su negocio en mayo.

Los mostradores del MIA que se ocupan de los viajes a Cuba están nuevamente llenos de viajeros cargados de equipaje esperando abordar aviones con destino a La Habana y otras ciudades.

Para muchos es una rutina familiar, pero otros consideran el viaje una aventura porque es la primera vez que visitan la isla.

"No puedo esperar'', afirmó Manuel Bustillo, colombiano mecánico de aire acondicionado de Miami, que viaja por primera vez con su esposa cubanoamericana Maribel Pérez y su hija Nisvelys, de 12 años. Maribel ha visitado la isla cuatro veces pero no había regresado desde hace varios años debido a las restricciones.

Bustillo, de 47 años, aseguró que el levantamiento de las restricciones hizo que él y su esposa decidieran visitar la isla y gastar los más de $5,000 que por lo general invierte una familia en un viaje de este tipo.

El grueso del dinero, explicó, se gasta en ropa, medicamentos y alimentos para su familia en Quivicán, al sur de La Habana.

Cuando la familia Bustillo llegó a Cuba fue recogida en el Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí por la familia de Pérez, apretados todos en un Pontiac verde de 1952, que perteneció a José, su difunto padre.

Maribel y su madre, Teresita, se abrazaron y lloraron en el aeropuerto. Luego la familia cubana y sus huéspedes de Miami se trasladaron en el Pontiac a Quivicán, a unas 25 millas de La Habana.

"Fue un viaje muy emotivo y pudimos ver la situación de primera mano'', relató Bustillo. "Fue toda una experiencia''.

Considerable aumento de los viajes a Cuba – Ultimas noticias mobile – El Nuevo Herald (9 September 2009)

Confirman la deserción del lanzador Yunieski Maya

Publicado el miércoles, 09.09.09BEISBOLConfirman la deserción del lanzador Yunieski MayaPor JORGE EBROEL NUEVO HERALD

Al igual que Aroldis Chapman, Yunieski Maya fue sorprendido en su primer intento de de Cuba, y como le sucedió al codiciado lanzador holguinero, el pitcher pinareño logró escapar en la siguiente oportunidad.

Varios agentes de béisbol se encontraban el martes en alerta tras filtrarse la noticia de que el vueltabajero había abandonado la isla y se encontraba ya en otro país con el sueño de iniciarse en el béisbol profesional.

Un conocido agente de Miami confirmó la noticia y, como varios de sus colegas, esperó hacer contacto con el serpentinero para iniciar los pasos hacia la agencia libre antes de que finalice el año.

Según el deportivo Terreno de Pelota que dirige el periodista Uziel Gómez, fuentes cercanas a la situación habrían confirmado también que el pitcher del equipo Cuba salió del país en la noche del lunes.

"Anoche hablamos con él y está tranquilo. No podemos decir el país en que se encuetra por razones de seguridad'', señalaron las fuentes a TP.

El lanzador había sido detenido en julio cuando intentaba salir de Cuba hacia un punto en la costa mexicana con su familia, pero lo interceptaron antes y estuvo algunos días .

"No sé en qué condiciones se encuentra el brazo de Maya, pero si está en buen estado de podría firmar un contrato más que decente'', afirmó otro agente. "Un buen lanzador nunca está de más en las Grandes Ligas''.

Maya ha sido uno de los pilares del cuerpo de lanzadores de la isla a nivel nacional e internacional desde el 2005, y había integrado las escuadras que tomaron parte en los dos Clásicos Mundiales de Béisbol en el 2006 y el 2009.

En la pasada Serie Nacional, el pinareño había sido elegido como el mejor lanzador del torneo y era seguro candidato para integrar el equipo que asistiría a la Copa del Mundo, que tendrá lugar del 9 al 27 de septiembre con sede en Europa.

En la 48 serie, Maya finalizó como líder en juegos ganados con 13, en juegos completos con siete, y terminó en el segundo puesto en promedio de carreras limpias con 2.22. También fue el segundo mejor ponchador del torneo con 119, detrás de Chapman quien sumó 130.

Durante seis campeonatos cubanos, Maya acumuló balance de 48-29 y 2.51 de efectividad.

Confirman la deserción del lanzador Yunieski Maya – Deportes – El Nuevo Herald (9 September 2009)

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