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Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

Cuba-Venezuela oil refinery posts increase in output

Cuba- oil refinery posts increase in outputSeptember 14, 2009 11:28 pm

HAVANA, Sept. 15 — The Cuban-Venezuelan joint refinery, Camilo Cienfuegos, has processed 14 million barrels of oil so far this year, six percent more than forecast, plant officials said Monday.

The plant has also processed more oil since the beginning of 2009 than in the same period of 2008, officials said.

The refinery is located in Cuba's Cienfuegos province, some 250 kilometers southeast of Havana.

The plant has processed 36 million barrels of oil since it started operation in December 2007.

Currently, the refinery is expanding its storage capacity.

Its aim is to process 150,000 barrels of oil daily by 2015, or some 55 million barrels of oil annually.

The expansion project will add four tanks of 20,000 cubic meters each.

Three of the new tanks will be used to store crude oil, the fourth for aviation fuel. (PNA/Xinhua) LDV/ebp

Cuba-Venezuela oil refinery posts increase in output | balita-dot-ph (14 September 2009)

Cuban society, not Castro, must change government

Cuban society, not Castro, must change government

There is no Cuba after Castro… at least for now. The 83-year-old comandante has been subject to jokes about his immortality for some time now, with good reason. After Queen Elizabeth II, he is the one leader who has maintained the position of head of government for the longest period of time.

It is common knowledge that stability has never truly found a permanent place on Cuban soil, and certainly did not fall from the sky straight into power. Unfortunately for Cuba, Castro has been pretty fortunate. His rise to power was carried out without any major mishaps, and fortunately for him, Castro is a smart guy and has, throughout the years, perfected the strategy that keeps him in control.

Cuba was definitely doing better before the establishment of Castro's totalitarian regime in 1959; however, this is not to say that the country was exactly doing well. Fulgencio Batista had already taken power by force long before that, and it would take precisely someone like Castro to get him off the throne.

Like most leaders of totalitarian tendencies, Batista, also known as "the Man," began his political career being regarded as a hero. A young sergeant in 1933, he led a rebellion with labor leaders and students against Gerardo Machado. Not too long after, he conspired with United States ambassador Sumner Welles to get provisional Ramon Grau San Martin off his seat.

In 1944, however, respecting the electorate's choice, Batista returned the presidency. Not long after, in 1952, he seized power again through a coup d'etat. From then on, it was on between him and Castro, who belonged to the party that had been running against Batista's when he took power by force in 1952.

When Batista's could not take on Fidel's, Batista fled to with a fortune of around $300 million that he had managed to amass. Ironically enough, he died after living peacefully and comfortably in Marbella, Spain on Aug. 6, 1973 — two days before a group of assassins appointed by Castro reached him. Perhaps it was the same bug of paranoia that prompted Batista to flee Cuba that sent Fidel after him. That is, after all, what a dictator's influence feeds on: paranoia and brute force.

Cuba is a nation that, before it became frozen in time by the reversing power of a totalitarian regime, had existed for nearly five centuries, and as a republic for 57 years. Cuba's favorable agricultural industry — primarily sugar and tobacco — along with the collaboration throughout the years between the island's different sectors and the hard work of its society in general had set fertile ground for progress in the country.

But in Cuba, despotism has been a persistent enemy of progress. The centralization of power is so ingrained into the way Cuban society perceives everything that it becomes hard for an individual to come up with an idea of change without the substance to even construct the thought.

Power has now been transferred to , but change will still not show its face. The Cuban population is still not allowed to collaborate for causes or organize in any way. Even if Fidel is no longer physically active, the idea of him still hangs on all of the political proceedings and foundations of the Cuban government. President of the Union of Cuban Exiles in Puerto Rico Mariluz Suarez is not optimistic about Raul's potential to direct Cuba in the right direction.

She states, "The personal history of Raul, who is not a charismatic leader, of ruthlessness and greed, does not herald a bright future for the Cuban people. If anything, the changes that Raul has claimed worldwide, such as the right to own and use a , are nothing more than cosmetic. Who can buy and pay for the use of cell phone in a place where the average salary is equivalent to twenty dollars?"

In other words, Raul is perhaps just a puppet of this system. He operates under the same ideology, the only ideology that will keep the system alive: careful and coldly premeditated manipulation of the masses.

The Obama administration has certainly begun taking steps toward mending relationships with Cuba. For example, shortly after taking office, Obama lifted restrictions on the possibility of individuals visiting relatives in Cuba, as well as sending them remittances.

This represents an important shift in a U.S. policy that had remained mostly unchanged for as long as half a century. However, while we like to look optimistically upon such "advancements," we are forced to remain hesitant, since the system has proven stubborn throughout history — it drives us to believe that no real change will come until it springs from the Cuban government itself.

UCE President Suarez seems to agree. "There is a worldwide expectation that with the 'disappearance' of Fidel from public view, the system that has strangled the , the liberties, the hopes for a better life in Cuba will somehow change positively. The system is firmly established in the island, just as it was established in Russia for various decades. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, after the deaths of Lenin, Stalin, Breznev, Kruschev, etc. — the iron fist of Communism was not abated. So will it not be in Cuba, where nothing will change for the better, since the system is entrenched in all the aspects of everyday life, and there is no liberty of , reunion, or political views."

In short, we must view this regime for what it is if we wish to do away with it. The key is definitely Cuban society itself. Communism will die when Cuba and its people are ready to let it disintegrate, when they realize there is another way, a chance for a better life.

As younger generations come of age, communication with the outside world will continue increasing and will subsequently feed the dreams of the Cubans.

The regime controlling these people's minds and lives will be done away with as soon as circumstance allows them the social capacity to shatter the habit of fear and blind obedience that is keeping them subordinated.

The Tartan Online : Cuban society, not Castro, must change government (14 September 2009)

Aeroflot monopolizes Russia-Cuba flights

Aeroflot monopolizes Russia-Cuba flights

The Russian charter Transaero is giving up its Moscow-to-Varadero route and turning its attention to the Dominican Republic, reports, a Russian website that covers the industry. That means Aeroflot gets the island all to itself.Transaero entered the Cuban circuit 2006, flying to Varadero every fall and winter, but halted its flights last February. This week, it announced it would not resume them. An unidentified expert quoted by Tourdom attributed the decision to the strong competition posed by Aeroflot, Russia's national airline, and said that the Fot5 two airlines had agreed to split "the sphere of influence in the Caribbean — Transaero gets the Dominican [Republic]; Aeroflot gets Cuba."As a result, Aeroflot plans to increase the frequency of its flights to Havana, from its usual four times a week, Oct. 26-Dec. 25, to five times a week, Dec. 26 until March, using Airbus A-300 (see photo) and Boeing 767 aircraft.The Cuban Ministry of Tourism is predicting a 10-percent increase in travel from Russia this year. Last year, 40,500 Russian tourists visited the island, Tourdom said.

Renato Pérez Pizarro.

Cuban Colada (15 September 2009)

Obama renews Cuba trade embargo

Obama renews Cuba trade By Michael VossBBC News, Havana

US Barack Obama has extended the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba for another year.

In a statement, Mr Obama said that it was in the US national interest to extend the Trading With The Enemy Act which covers the trade embargo.

It is largely a symbolic step because the final decision rests with Congress.

Under legislation from 1996, the Helms-Burton Act, the embargo can only be lifted when Cuba is deemed to have begun a democratic transition.

Cuba has been under a financial, trade and ban since 1962 – one of the last surviving remnants of the Cold War.

Critics see it as a missed opportunity to signal a further willingness to ease relations between the two countries.

Mr Obama has lifted some of the restrictions allowing Cuban-Americans to visit relatives whenever they want and send money home.

The two sides are once again holding direct talks on immigration and later this week US officials travel to Cuba to discuss resuming direct mail services.

The Cuban authorities have described these changes as little more than a cosmetic coat of paint, but the US administration continues to demand that Cuba must first show signs of reform before lifting the embargo.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Obama renews Cuba trade embargo (15 September 2009)

Finding the real Cuba

Finding the real CubaFor Calgarians Craig and Kathy Copeland, cycling was the best route to discovering the heart and soul of Cubans

The Canadian Embassy claims that about 500,000 Canadians visit Cuba each year. It's not true. Oh, the number's accurate, but the statement's not. Because very few of those Canadians actually visit Cuba.

They cluster within the confines of all-inclusive resorts that prohibit Cuban guests. They spend their time exclusively with other Anglos, particularly Stephen King, Danielle Steele, John Grisham and the like. And they do it sprawling on beaches that Cubans, unless employed by the resorts, are forbidden to set foot on.

It might be a vacation from , but it hardly qualifies as "visiting Cuba."

If you really want to visit Cuba, escape the crowded resorts. Explore the island. Get to know the Cuban people by staying in their homes, laughing with them, joining them for rice and . It's safe, affordable, easy. You can do it with a rental car. You can do it by . Better yet, do it on your bike.

Cycling eliminates all barriers between you and the people whose culture you've come to admire.

It's an act of faith. It says "I'm not here to just look, I'm here to be with you."

Cubans, a socially exuberant bunch, will love you for it. You'll come home emotionally enriched for having truly visited these long-suffering yet extraordinarily welcoming, generous, fun people.

Our Cuba cycling trip began last December when we arrived in Havana, taxied to the (Cuban version of a B&B) where we'd reserved a room months in advance, and discovered: no room for us.

We never learned why. Before we could engage our 100-word Spanish vocabulary pasted together with Tarzan grammar, Cuban resourcefulness and hospitality rescued us, as it would throughout our journey.

Neighbour spoke to neighbour who escorted us to another whose spacious, clean, comfortable guestroom was vacant.

Our hosts, Orlando and Raisa, greeted us with warmth and grace. Both are retired physicians. We were astounded to discover that Che Guevara had been Orlando's comrade and patient throughout La Revolucion. Learning about Cuban history and society from Orlando, who speaks fluent English, was surreal.

After a day and night walking through Havana Vieja (old Havana), we assembled our bikes on Orlando and Raisa's porch, loaded our panniers, hugged our new friends goodbye, and pedalled out of the city.

We started late. Our day's mileage goal was too ambitious. The sun winked below the horizon while we were in lonely rangeland, well shy of the next town big enough to have a casa particular. We carried no tent or sleeping bags, because camping is allowed only at a few widely scattered campismos.

Riding into the dark was an option. We had headlamps. Cuban motorists are marvellously considerate of cyclists. And most roads are paved. But a single pothole could render a sophisticated bike irreparable in this land of scarcity. So, on instinct, we approached the one house within view.

A woman was in the yard. We asked her an inane question because it was all we could think to say: "Is there a casa particular nearby?" Her answer was cryptically hopeful. "There might be," she said, then retreated to consult her husband.

A moment later they emerged, opened the wrought-iron gate and invited us in. Neither spoke a word of English. They motioned for us to push our bikes right into their living room.

Both were shy, clearly unaccustomed to spandex-attired Anglo cyclists. This was no casa particular, we realized. These people, Celia and Diego, had never had foreign guests. Yet they ushered us in with sincerity and assurance. No hesitation. No fear.

Celia was instantly concerned for my wife's comfort. She noticed Kathy's cycling shoes were awkward on the tile floor. She left then returned, offering a pair of flip flops. She noticed Kathy's shirt was damp. She left then returned, offering a neatly folded, white cotton dress.

They didn't know we probably carried more in our panniers than they had in their home. They didn't care. Celia insisted we sit while she made up their extra bed. Then, despite our protests, she cooked us a delicious dinner.

In the morning, she refused to let us depart without feeding us a hearty breakfast. Where all this came from, I don't know, because I peeked into the kitchen and saw nothing.

We thanked them profusely and handed them the Cuban equivalent of 10 Canadian dollars — about a month's salary for the average Cuban. They refused it until we pleaded that money was the only gift we had to offer in exchange for their immense kindness.

Celia cried as we left. No doubt she was worried for the crazy Anglos on overloaded bikes who obviously didn't know what they were doing. At least she'd made us keenly aware that we'd embarked on a profound experience.

The cycling was brilliant: past sugar cane fields, through lively villages, and along the ocean. The weather was comfortably hot and consistently sunny. The meals prepared for us by the madres (mothers) at every casa particular were heaping, tasty and fortifying.

We cycled from Havana west to Vinales. For an entire day, between Soroa and La Tranquilidad, we were passed by just five vehicles while we followed a ridgecrest road lined with an explosion of tropical greenery and affording glimpses of the Caribbean far below. In the east, between Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba, we cycled three 70-km days with the ocean often in sight, the surf frequently audible, and vehicle traffic nil.

But in each hamlet we entered, someone immediately reminded us that cycling wasn't the goal, it was merely the means. Our bikes propelled us into the heart of this fascinating society and into the embrace of its people.

They greeted us with smiles, waves, handshakes. They showered us with attention, compassion, deference. They treated us like rock stars come to town. They showed us that visiting Cuba only to escape the brunt of a Canadian winter is an act of frigid indifference.

Twice more we were invited to stay with families who were as accustomed to Anglo visitors as they were to Martian invaders. Each time, they forced upon us the most lavish meal they could muster and the biggest bedroom in the house.

So when a Canadian leaned out the window of a resort tour bus and asked, "These people. Do they steal from you?" I was appalled.

Here was a man whose language I spoke yet whose question I could barely comprehend. I groped for a response.

"Just the opposite," I finally said, then rode away.

Craig Copeland is the Opinionated Hiker columnist in the Herald's Real Life section and co-author, with his wife Kathy, of numerous guidebooks including Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies


If You Go:

Getting there: Fly directly to Havana. The old city is enthralling and it's farther west. That's the direction of the country's most rewarding three- to four-day cycle tour, to Vinales, in a lush valley studded with mogotes (limestone pinnacles). If you intend to cycle in the east, consider a return flight to Canada from Santiago de Cuba.

Staying there: A casa particular is a private home licensed by the Cuban government to rent rooms to foreign visitors. You'll find them in every sizable town. Look for a green triangular symbol on the door. Expect to pay $15 to $35 for a room for two. Book a casa in Havana before leaving home. Elsewhere you'll find lots of vacancies. Just knock wherever you see the green triangle. To make reservations at Orlando and Raisa's in Havana, phone from Canada by dialing 011-53-7-830-3774. In Vinales, look for Casa Maricella. In Bayamo, stay with Manuel and Lydia, at Donato Marmol 323 Entre, Figueredo y Lora. In Santiago de Cuba, stay with Mayde and Pedro in the Vista Alegre neighbourhood, at Calle 6, No. 302, esquina 11. For a day or two of privacy and luxury, stay at the Marea del Portillo, on the coast road southwest of Bayamo. It's an all-inclusive resort, but it's small, isolated, and less expensive than most, with rooms on the beach.

For more information: Visit It lists hundreds of casas throughout the country.


Food: Eating well is easy and inexpensive in Cuba. But cyclists won't find convenient, nutritious snacks. Bring energy bars, plan to eat breakfast and dinner at your casa particular. The food will likely be excellent, and your host will keep the profit. A typical casa breakfast – fresh fruit juice, sliced pineapple and bananas, bread, butter, jam, an omelette, and robust coffee — will cost about $4 per person. You'll pay about twice that for a fish dinner with bean soup, tomato and cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains.

Water: Cubans are as and hygiene conscious as Canadians. But their plumbing is ancient and occasionally suspect. Bottled water is widely available, but for savings and convenience bring a water filter or purification drops.

Transportation: Viazul provides punctual bus service to 32 towns and cities. You'll ride in a modern, comfortable, Volvo coach. Your bike will ride in a spacious storage compartment. A ticket for the three-hour trip from Havana to Vinales costs $15. A ticket for the 14-hour trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba costs $62. Check schedules at, but wait to reserve seats and buy tickets when you're in Cuba.

Money: Bring at least $500 cash to exchange at the currency exchange office. Don't purchase a Transcard, because many banks and hotels won't honour it. Instead, use your credit card to get cash advances at banks. There are two currencies in Cuba: the peso for Cubans, and the peso convertible for visitors. One peso convertible is roughly equivalent to one U.S. dollar.

Language: Outside Havana, few people speak English. Bring a Spanish phrase book and do your best.

Sights: Founded in 1512, on the south coast, east of Cienfuegos, the city of Trinidad is one of the best-preserved colonial towns in all of the Americas. It's small — just a few square blocks of cobblestone streets crowded with pastel coloured homes, churches and plazas — but so impressive that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gifts: Cuban children habitually seek gifts from visitors. Bring notepads, pens and crayons. In most towns you'll also see medical clinics, all of which need basic supplies. Bring them ibuprofen, aspirin or anti-bacterial ointment.

Guides: Bicycling Cuba, by Wally and Barbara Smith, is the one book you'll want in your panniers. It contains maps, detailed route descriptions, casa addresses, and advice on planning your trip.

Politics: Fearing government reproach, Cubans are hesitant to discuss politics in general or in particular. Besides, fluency in Spanish is necessary to probe beyond the superficial. To begin understanding this complex island nation, read Ben Corbett's This is

Cuba and Isaac Saney's Cuba: A Revolution in Motion.Finding the real Cuba (14 September 2009)

Cuba. Take an extra suitcase … leave much-needed medicines and lifesaving gear

Cuba. Take an extra suitcase … leave much-needed and lifesaving gearBy Robert Bostelaar, The Ottawa CitizenSeptember 14, 2009

The doctor looked tired and a bit wary. Here she was at the end of what must have been a long shift at the Policlinico Universitario Aguacate, confronted by two obviously foreign visitors trying to press on her a suitcase brimming with drugs and medical supplies.

She studied the letter explaining in Spanish that the contents were a gift from to the people of Cuba, looked again at the case and did what any government employee would do. She stalled. From her long string of Spanish, we picked out "mañana" and "ocho."

Sorry, doctor. Even if we could return tomorrow at 8 a.m., we'd be hard-pressed to retrace our rented Hyundai's route to Aguacate (Avocado), an inland farm town east of Havana. Road signs are rare on an island that still fears invasion, and our rudimentary map made little distinction between paved highways and axle-bending goat tracks.

Whether she understood, or whether she just grew weary of our arm-waving gestures, the doctor offered us a cautious smile and an even more cautious signature on a receipt. And with that, our second Not Just Tourists suitcase had been delivered.

Our efforts to get off the beaten path notwithstanding, the Not Just Tourists process couldn't be easier.

Collect a loaded suitcase from a nurse who will explain the program's ins and outs, unload and repack it (so you can answer the "Did you pack this bag yourself?" question honestly), carry it to your vacation spot and present it to a clinic or . Our first suitcase was accepted with practised appreciation at a large clinic in Santa Cruz del Norte on the coastal track.

Nor could it be more efficient and cost-effective. You're going anyway, and probably have some room in your baggage allowance (if you don't, many carriers will waive the extra fees for these cases). Volunteers collect and pack the supplies.

And the items you bring — medicines, dressings, perhaps hospital linens or dental hygiene gear — all have been declared surplus. Some have reached their expiry date (but still are considered safe for use), others may have been returned by a patient's family but by regulation cannot be returned to the hospital supply.

"We're rescuing things that would go to the landfill," explains Mary Metcalfe, founder of the Not Just Tourists — Ottawa group.

None will go to waste in Cuba, destination for most Not Just Tourists cases. The target of a United States trade for nearly half a century, the communist island nation is short of even such basic supplies as bandages and pain relief pills. Revenue from and resources has not made up for the Soviet aid that once sustained Cuba.

"The greatest need this year is for over-the-counter medicines and vitamins for children," says Metcalfe.

Also in demand are asthma inhalers and glucometer test strips. Respiratory problems and diabetes are common in Cuba.

Still, considering the shortages, the island has achieved a remarkably effective -care system, with doctors in every village, a low infant mortality rate and high life-expectancies.

"We're treading a fine line in providing this, but respecting the pride they have in their system," says Metcalfe, who established the Ottawa group in 2005 after reading about Canada's original Not Just Tourists program, founded by St. Catharines family doctor Ken Taylor and his wife, Denise.

Other groups operate in Toronto, Montreal, Kingston, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Each group is independent and may differ in its policies and practices.

The program is intentionally low-key, collecting small quantities here and dispatching them there. It doesn't approach pharmaceutical companies for donations, for example, because the drug manufacturers already support large-scale aid efforts.

Yet Not Just Tourists-Ottawa has already shipped more than 1,550 kilograms of medicines and supplies to Cuba and a range of other countries, including Rwanda, Kenya and . This winter alone it has shipped 70 suitcases. The group has charitable status through the Phoenix Community Works Foundation based in Toronto.

For vacationers, being part of Not Just Tourists is a chance to get away from the resort and enrich a holiday — and perhaps to assuage some of the guilt of knowing that your destination's low standard of living helps make possible your inexpensive winter getaway.

Some, too, may view it as a chance to make a statement about Canada's views and values to a country that, even with Fidel's retirement, remains in the Castro era of restrictions on free speech and for its citizens. Here it's a personal of Canada's longstanding, common-sense approach toward nudging Cuba to democracy.

Such motives, however, have no place in the philosophy of Not Just Tourists, a group that could as easily be called Not About Politics.

"We are so apolitical," declares Metcalfe. "we want to help save lives. That's the bottom line."

Robert Bostelaar is an editor at the Citizen.

- – -

if you go …

What's in the bag: Contents vary depending on donations. Our cases included wound dressings, Tensor bandages, Advil, surgical gloves, hypodermic needles, urinary collection bags and tubing, post-heart attack drugs, antiseptic wipes and Ensure nutritional supplements.

Where it comes from: Surplus medicines and supplies are provided by hospitals, individual doctors (physicians' samples), hospices, clinics and other sources. Some are bought by Not Just Tourists at cost from pharmacies. Suitcases (and satchels and backpacks) are donated.

Where it goes: Cuba is the most popular destination, but Not Just Tourists-Ottawa has sent cases to 17 countries. Travellers get a list of hospitals and clinics near their destination but are free to seek out other facilities in need.

Best before, and after: Not Just Tourists-Ottawa accepts most drugs — though not liquid-based drugs for children — up to three months past their expiry date. Cuba's health ministry reportedly permits doctors to use many drugs up to six months beyond expiry.

The legalities: The program does not accept narcotics or other controlled drugs. Each suitcase contains a letter explaining the purpose of the program, signed by a doctor who has examined the contents. Problems at points are rare.

Cuba. Take an extra suitcase … leave much-needed medicines and lifesaving gear (14 September 2009)

White House renews trade ban on Cuba

Posted on Tuesday, 09.15.09White House renews trade ban on Cuba Barack Obama extends the U.S. trade on Cuba for another year in a symbolic step used by past presidents.By JUAN O. TAMAYOjtamayo@ElNuevoHerald

President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of the law used to impose the trade embargo on Cuba, disappointing those who favored allowing the law to expire as a friendly nod to Havana while reassuring others who oppose easing the sanctions.

The extension of the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWTEA) was largely symbolic. While it was used by President John F. Kennedy as the legal basis for slapping the embargo on Havana, another law would have kept those sanctions in place even if Obama had not signed the extension.

Several groups that favor improved U.S. relations with Havana had urged Obama to allow TWTEA to expire as scheduled on Monday as a signal to the Cuban government that his administration was truly interested in rapprochement.

Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas, said that although the extension was indeed symbolic, Obama had forfeited a chance to send a message to Havana and the rest of Latin America that he was removing one of the foundations for the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

“I am disappointed that President Obama has missed several opportunities to do things that may not get any attention here in the United States, but that would send a signal to the region,'' Stephens said in a telephone interview.

Supporters of sanctions against Cuba argued, however, that the extension confirmed that Obama is sticking by his promises to retain the trade embargo, while removing restrictions on Cuban Americans who want to to the island or send remittances to relatives there.

“People think he's a liar, but he's doing exactly what he has said — changing travel and remittances but not the embargo,'' said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee in Washington.

The extension is “symbolic of the fact that the president supports the current policies,'' Claver-Carone added in a interview.

Obama signed the one-year extension on Sept. 11, three days before TWTEA was to expire on Monday. But the decision was not announced until Monday morning. There was no immediate explanation for the delay.

“I hereby determine that the continuation for one year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States,'' he wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Adopted in 1917, TWTEA initially was applied to “enemy countries'' only after a formal U.S. declaration of war. In 1963. President Kennedy used TWTEA against Cuba under a declaration of an “international emergency.''

But in the 1970s, TWTEA was essentially overtaken by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. No new sanctions could be imposed under TWTEA, but Cuba was grandfathered in, Washington attorney Robert Muse, considered a leading expert on the legal structure and history the embargo, told El Nuevo Herald earlier this month.

The 1996 Helms-Burton measure essentially turned the embargo into law and set tough conditions for lifting it that amount to having a democratically elected Cuban government, Muse added.

White House renews trade ban on Cuba – Cuba – (15 September 2009)

Raúl Castro abre debate popular de 45 días

Publicado el martes, 09.15.09Raúl Castro abre debate popular de 45 díasPor CARLOS BATISTA / AFPLA HABANA

Los cubanos inician un debate de 45 días para analizar algunos de sus problemas y definir medidas de aumento de la producción, ahorro, eficiencia y lucha contra la corrupción, convocados por el gobierno de Raúl Castro.

Centros laborales, escuelas, universidades, células de base del Partido Comunista (PCC, único) y los barriales Comités de Defensa de la Revolución () se reúnen este mes y hasta el 15 de octubre en discusiones orientadas por un "Material de Estudio'', al cual tuvo acceso la AFP.

El texto establece como base para trazar las estrategias, los discursos de Raúl Castro el pasado 26 de julio y en el Parlamento el 1 de agosto, ambos marcados por medidas de ajuste económico.

Tras relevar en julio de 2006 a su hermano por una enfermedad, Raúl Castro llamó a fines de 2007 a un proceso similar que se convirtió en una catarsis general sobre problemas y críticas, en el cual participaron cinco millones de personas, según el gobierno.

Pero este proceso "no será exactamente igual'', pues está dirigido a un "análisis interno'' de "lo que ocurre en cada lugar'', identificar los problemas y sugerir soluciones, señala el documento.

"Este análisis debe ser objetivo, sincero, valiente, creador, de intercambio'' en ''la más absoluta de criterios y "el respeto a las opiniones que puedan resultar discrepantes'', añade.

El proceso no fue anunciado en la prensa al igual que el anterior, pero un comentarista de televisión oficialista llamó a los cubanos a "prepararse bien'', tras dar la bienvenida al debate al que "Raúl y el Partido convocan''.

"La gente habla, pues hace ya tiempo perdieron el miedo, pero ahora es diferente, pues son temas muy concretos de tu entorno'', apuntó una militante que asistió a una de las reuniones.

Para que no haya equívocos, entre los temas priorizados por las autoridades está la ''decisión irrenunciable de construir el socialismo'', tal y como Raúl Castro plantea en sus discursos.

El 1 de agosto, Raúl Castro anunció una nueva posposición del VI Congreso del PCC, que debió celebrarse en 2002, al señalar que se requiere más tiempo y elementos para diseñar un nuevo "modelo de socialismo'', pues el actual, de corte soviético, está agotado.

Antes debe realizarse una Conferencia para renovar los cargos del PCC, la cual deberá ratificar o sustituir a Fidel Castro como primer secretario, el principal en el gobierno comunista.

La muerte del histórico comandante Juan Almeida el pasado viernes recordó la necesidad de avanzar en el relevo de la generación que gobierna Cuba desde hace medio siglo.

"Vamos a ver si ahora sale algo en concreto, pues la otra vez, hace dos años, levantó muchas expectativas y se vio poco'', dijo un militante del PCC de 52 años, que se reservó su identidad.

En 2007, los cubanos criticaron la falta de -lo cual mejoró-, la doble moneda, los bajos salarios (17 dólares promedio mensual) y el alto costo de algunos productos, pidieron la eliminación del permiso de salida del país y la liberación de la compra-venta de automóviles.

Un destacado sacerdote e intelectual, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, ó la iniciativa en un artículo, pero advirtió que "estos diálogos políticos, para que sean tales y no sólo farandulada, deben ser algo más que ejercicios mentales y de oratoria'' y estimó que "deben apuntar a la realidad y a las posibilidades de ser llevados a efecto''.

La disidencia política interna ignora el proceso o lo descalifica.

Raúl Castro abre debate popular de 45 días – Cuba – El Nuevo Herald (15 September 2009)

La nutrición de nuestros estudiantes

Publicado el martes, 09.15.09VOCES DE LA EDUCACIONLa nutrición de nuestros estudiantesBy OLGA BOTERO

Recientemente oí una historia de los labios de una gran educadora sobre sus experiencias como estudiante, cuando acababa de llegar de Cuba. Me narraba cómo ella solía ir caminando de su casa a la porque sus padres, refugiados políticos sin recursos económicos, no tenían dinero para el pasaje del autobús. Ella encontraba que el caminar todos los días para recibir su educación no era un gran problema, porque después de todo era muy saludable hacer esas caminatas diarias. No obstante, la falta de fondos financieros le trajo a mi amiga otra experiencia menos saludable que la de tener que caminar desde y hacia su casa.

Nunca almorzó en el colegio porque el almuerzo costaba y ella no tenía dinero. Su mamá no sabía que le podía preparar un emparedado para alimentarse y, como no había mucha economía, mi amiga nunca le pidió a su madre que le diera algo para ella llevar al colegio y almorzar. Naturalmente, esto ocurrió hace más de treinta años.

Hoy en día nuestros estudiantes de las Escuelas Públicas del Condado Miami-Dade llevan a casa las solicitudes para pedir los almuerzos gratis o a precios reducidos desde el primer día de escuela. Los padres de familia tienen que llenar una sola planilla por todos los estudiantes que vivan en el mismo hogar y devolverla a la escuela adonde asiste el niño o la niña más joven.

Las solicitudes se pueden entregar durante todo el año escolar. La información que se ofrece en la solicitud sólo será usada para establecer si los alumnos son elegibles y pudiese ser verificada en cualquier momento durante el año escolar. Los padres de familia también pueden obtener los beneficios de los almuerzos gratis o a precios reducidos a través de la en el portal para los padres en el sitio web de

Los padres de familia también tienen la oportunidad de pagar por los almuerzos con antelación en el sitio web De esta forma los chicos no tienen que llevar el dinero diariamente o correr el riesgo de que se les extravíe en camino a su escuela. La información para hacer las solicitudes de los almuerzos gratis o reducidos se puede encontrar en el mismo sitio web donde se pueden pagar los almuerzos.

• El desayuno es gratis para todos los estudiantes del sistema escolar, sin importar el estatus financiero del estudiante.

• El almuerzo cuesta $2.25 en las escuelas primarias.

• El almuerzo de las escuelas intermedias y secundarias se sirve por $2.50.

• Los estudiantes que reciben el almuerzo a precios reducidos sólo pagan 40(cents).

La falta de información hizo que mi amiga pasara mucho tiempo sin comer y caminando de su casa a la escuela y de la escuela a la casa. Una de sus maestras se dio cuenta un día de que la pequeña Gilda no almorzaba y la llevó a buscar la solicitud y a obtener un pase con precio reducido para poder tomar el autobús. Gracias a la información que se ofrece en nuestras escuelas en la actualidad, eso no tiene por qué ocurrir de nuevo.

Si los lectores tienen alguna pregunta adicional sobre los almuerzos, el menú o algo relacionado con el servicio de comidas y nutrición de nuestro sistema escolar, pueden dirigirse a la página de internet o pueden llamar al (786) 275-0400.

Dtora. de Prog. Espec., Dpto. de Nutric.

y Alim., Esc. del Condado de Miami-Dade.

OLGA BOTERO: La nutrición de nuestros estudiantes – Voces de la Educación – El Nuevo Herald (15 September 2009)

Presidente Correa viaja a Cuba para una cirugía

Correa viaja a Cuba para una cirugía14 de septiembre de 2009, 06:17 PM

QUITO (AP) – El presidente Rafael Correa tiene previsto viajar el martes a Cuba para ser sometido a una operación quirúrgica en su rodilla derecha, se informó el lunes oficialmente.ADVERTISEMENT

Durante su programa radial Diálogo con el Presidente de los días sábado, Correa ha señalado últimamente que no podía hacer deportes, como montar bicicleta y correr debido a la afección en su rodilla, que ahora se sabe que es en los meniscos.

La presidencia, en su página web, dijo que el mandatario viajará "a Cuba para realizarse una intervención quirúrgica en una de sus rodillas". La operación está programada para el miércoles.

Añadió que viajará acompañado por su madre, Norma Delgado.

Presidente Correa viaja a Cuba para una cirugía – Yahoo! Noticias (14 September 2009)

Yo también fui pánfilo

Noticias de CubaYo también fui pánfiloVíctor Llano"Como otros muchos niños cubanos, muy pronto aprendí a no comprometer a los que me querían. Nunca más me atreví a hablar de otro asunto que no fuera de la Liga de Béisbol."

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De poco le sirvió demostrar que no trabajaba para una potencia enemiga o que el tipo que fingió defenderle reseñara su supuesto alcoholismo. Los sicarios del máximo líder de los cuatreros multimillonarios le condenaron a dos años de cárcel por gritar lo que otros, menos "pánfilos" que él, no se atreven a susurrar a la niña de la ventana. Ahora dicen que Juan Carlos González Marcos, alias "Pánfilo", estaba borracho cuando interrumpió la grabación de un documental gritando: "Aquí hay tremenda hambre, lo que hace falta es jama". De mediar la borrachera una vez más se confirmaría que los niños y los borrachos no pueden mentir.

Casi había terminado otro artículo sobre el parecido que encuentra Hugo Chávez entre un buen hermano de Mohamed VI y . La deseché por la historia de González Marcos. Me llegó al alma. Este verano yo también he sido bastante pánfilo. Por fortuna, a mí ya se me está borrando la cara de tonto y nadie me condenó a sufrir todo tipo de torturas durante dos años en el penal de El Puerto. Lástima que "Pánfilo" pague mucho más cara su ingenuidad. Quiera Dios que no se demore el día en que pueda comer todo lo que sus verdugos reservan para sus cómplices y sus socios. ¿Dónde irán que no les amanezca los que trepan sirviéndose del hambre o de las esperanzas ajenas?

En cualquier caso, más allá de lo que no es más que una reciente anécdota personal tan triste como ridícula, la inocencia de Juan Carlos González me recordó algo muchísimo más serio. Lo mucho que me regañaron en casa cuando pregunté en una de La Habana por qué el Gobierno se quedó con lo poco que ahorró mi familia. Pregunté por lo que no tenía que preguntar y en el lugar más inoportuno. Como otros muchos niños cubanos, muy pronto aprendí a no comprometer a los que me querían. Nunca más me atreví a hablar de otro asunto que no fuera de la Liga de Béisbol. Por no atreverme ni siquiera les conté a mis compañeros que lo más probable es que no lo fueran por mucho más tiempo. Algunos de ellos machacaban a los que se marchaban. Unos por envidia y otros por hacer méritos ante el perro del amo que simulaba ser nuestro maestro y amigo y no era más que un esbirro de la gran trola.Hoy, 40 años después de preguntar por lo que podría haber causado muchos problemas a mis padres, me encuentro con una historia que me recordó mi ingenuidad. Dios bendiga a "Pánfilo" por gritar que en Isla Cárcel falta "jama". Jama, , verdad y honradez. Lo que sobra es miedo. De no sobrar a los tiranos les faltarían cárceles para encarcelar a los millones de hambrientos que ni borrachos ni sobrios se atreven a gritar lo que gritó Juan Carlos González Marcos.

Víctor Llano – Yo también fui pánfilo – Libertad Digital (15 September 2009)

La crisis mundial en Cuba

La crisis mundial en CubaFernando RavsbergLa Habana

La crisis mundial afecta duramente a la economía cubana. El golpe es tal que el crecimiento previsto para el presente año fue reajustado en dos ocasiones pasando del 6% inicial a un 2,5%, para finalmente terminar reduciéndolo al 1,7%.

Los sectores más castigados resultan ser justamente los que más divisas reportan al país, el níquel, el y el . Mientras el aumento de los precios de los alimentos amenaza con disparar los gastos por importaciones.

Además, algunos economistas hablan de "crisis sobre crisis" porque el pasado año el país sufrió el paso de 3 huracanes que recorrieron la isla, provocando pérdidas por valor de más de US$10.000 millones, sobre todo en viviendas y .

Las autoridades redujeron las importaciones, limitaron la exportación de capitales, establecieron un estricto control energético, exigieron más eficiencia a las empresas y bajaron los precios de algunos productos y servicios, buscando extraer más recursos del mercado interno.

Escasez de divisas

Según el doctor en economía Omar Everleny Pérez, las principales repercusiones se perciben en la caída de un 50% de los precios del níquel, en un 12% de los ingresos del turismo, 50% del valor de los mariscos, un 13% de las ventas de tabaco y en la contracción del crédito y la inversión.

Por otra parte, Pérez asegura que esto se agrava por los efectos del Bloqueo Económico de los EEUU, que se mantiene en pleno vigor, y por la ineficiencia del modelo económico cubano, las gratuidades, la política de empleo y la descapitalización acumulada.

El investigador del Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana, dijo a la BBC que la estrategia del gobierno pasa por "limitar los gastos, revisar las inversiones, priorizar actividades generadoras de divisas, reducir importaciones y subsidiar los alimentos para la población".

Sin , según Omar Everleny Perez, quedan pendientes serios problemas económicos como la existencia de un sistema salarial "desconectado del costo de vida", la escasa oferta a la población de productos y servicios, y la excesiva segmentación de los mercados.

Reformas más radicales

Dentro de la oposición la voz más reconocida en estos temas es la del economista Oscar Espinosa. Este dijo a la BBC que "el impacto de la crisis mundial es muy fuerte, sobre todo porque el pasado año tres huracanes causaron daños colosales en la infraestructura del país".

Espinosa coincide en señalar que la caída de los ingresos por níquel y turismo golpea las finanzas cubanas "al punto que se han congelado las cuentas de empresas extranjeras en Cuba", agregando que esto "dificulta aún más el ya escaso crédito del país".

Respecto de las remesas familiares –entre US$600 y 1.000 millones anuales- el opositor afirma no tener datos pero cree que podrían mantenerse en esa cantidad ya que la crisis puede ser balanceada con el fin de las restricciones, decretado por Barack Obama.

Espinosa propone medidas más radicales, dar la tierra en propiedad a los campesinos, dedicar parte de las remesas familiares a la agricultura, aumentar el número de trabajadores por cuenta propia y autorizar las pequeñas y medianas empresas, como sucedió en o .Mercado interno y ahorro

Entre las medidas adoptadas por el gobierno frente a la crisis está la ampliación del mercado interno, cuyo punto más conocido fue la autorización para que los cubanos se hospeden en hoteles turísticos. Este verano ocuparon el 10% de la capacidad hotelera del país.

A la venta de celulares, motos, computadoras y electrodomésticos, aprobada el pasado año, se le suman, durante el 2009, el acceso a en los hoteles, las rebajas en las tiendas de divisas y la reducción de las tarifas telefónicas internacionales, esto último solo para cubanos.

Bajo amenaza de apagones se logró el ahorro energético durante el verano, las importaciones se redujeron drásticamente y a los empresarios extranjeros se les limitó la posibilidad de extraer grandes sumas de dinero de sus cuentas.

Uno de ellos explicó a BBC, de forma anónima, que "en números el dinero está en tu cuenta bancaria pero no nos permiten sacar grandes cantidades". De todas formas aclaró que "a los que insisten en retirarlo se les entrega todo pero no se vuelve a hacer negocios con ellos".

BBC Mundo – Economía – La crisis mundial en Cuba (15 September 2009)

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