First plant of Cuban-Venezuelan petrochemical complex begins operationEconomy
A manufacturing plant that will produce 250 million plastic bags per year, built with Venezuela's help, will start operations in the coming days in South Central Cuba, as part of a petrochemical complex built by the two countries.
The plant, based on Italian technology, is the first of 10 projects included in the petrochemical complex which is built adjacent to the revamped binational oil refinery Mario Balmaceda, inaugurated two years ago, a director of the petrochemical complex said, as quoted by Prensa Latina.
Plastic bags are scarce in Cuba, even in foreign-currency stores, and are absent in Cuban stores where local clients must take plastic bags with them when shopping.
The plant will also produce the cover of feminine sanitary pads.
First plant of Cuban-Venezuelan petrochemical complex begins operation – Daily News – EL UNIVERSAL (11 November 2009)http://english.eluniversal.com/2009/11/05/en_eco_art_first-plant-of-cuban_05A3006531.shtml
Cuba to reorganize state farms, trim bureaucracy11.10.09, 03:50 PM ESTBy Marc Frank
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba's agriculture ministry will cut thousands of bureaucratic jobs and reorganize its large state-run farms into smaller plots in a bid to reverse steadily declining food output, official media said Tuesday.
Communist Party newspaper Granma said that 89,000 employees at state farms, or 26 percent of their work force, are office workers and that the sector suffers from an "excess of unproductive personnel."It said at least 10 percent of those jobs will be eliminated starting in December with the aim of "reducing bosses and functionaries and substituting departments with specialists and technicians on the farms."
Granma said the sector's workforce is being reorganized into "worker collectives" of no more than 10 individuals who will be assigned specific plots of land, or fincas, for which they will be responsible.
Their pay will be based on performance, Granma said.
The changes are the latest by President Raul Castro as he wrestles with ways to increase agricultural production and, in turn, reduce food imports that are draining Cuba's coffers. Cuba imports between 60 percent and 70 percent of its food.
Soon after Raul Castro took over the presidency from ailing brother Fidel Castro last year, he decentralized agriculture decision-making, increased prices paid for produce and launched a massive land-lease program to put more land in private hands.
Nevertheless, agricultural production was down 7.4 percent this year through September compared to the same period in 2008. Much of the decline was blamed on damage to banana plantations by hurricanes last year.
Cuba is currently undergoing a financial crisis that has forced drastic reductions in imports and state budgets, and created the need for the latest changes, Granma said.
"The urgency of reducing imports and increasing food production has accelerated solutions to this old problem that creates bureaucracy, increases costs, hampers production, creates disorder and limits worker earnings," it said.
Pilot programs have shown that bureaucracy can be cut at least in half without difficulties, the newspaper said.
At one state farm in Havana province, it said the number of supervisors was reduced from 91 to 15 and the land divided into 130 fincas, with led to greater diversification of products.
International agriculture analyst Jerry Hagelberg said it remains to be seen if the reorganization will boost food output.
"Time will tell whether this measure will be much more successful than previous failed attempts to raise efficiency, as long as these farms continue to be run by the state, the marketing of farm products remains controlled by the state, and Cuban agriculture does not get the necessary capital and production inputs," he said.
Cuba had around 250,000 family farms and 1,100 private cooperatives before the land-lease program began, which together produced around 70 percent of the country's produce on less than one-third of the land. (Reporting by Marc Frank, editing by Jeff Franks)
Cuba to reorganize state farms, trim bureaucracy – Forbes.com (10 November 2009)http://www.forbes.com/feeds/reuters/2009/11/10/2009-11-10T205045Z_01_N10412562_RTRIDST_0_CUBA-AGRICULTURE.html
Cubans Warily Test Their New Freedom To Criticizeby Nick MiroffNovember 10, 2009
Cuba's state-run economy has been in crisis mode for years, but it now faces some especially sobering arithmetic. With trade falling and debt stacking up, President Raul Castro has warned Cubans that the island's socialist system must change.
And he's asking them for something they are not used to giving in public: criticism.
In the dark driveway of a Havana apartment building, neighbors are gathering around a single light bulb and a Cuban flag. They have come for a meeting of the local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution — a neighborhood organization founded in part to root out anti-government subversion.
Now the group is tasked with collecting criticism of Cuba's socialist system and ideas for how to reform it. Similar discussions are being held across the island, as communist authorities urge Cubans to work harder, expect less and speak freely about the country's nagging problems.
Aurelio Alonso, deputy editor of Cuba's Casa de las Americas journal, says he thinks Cuba's economy must face major changes. Like many Cubans who say they support the government but want it to change, he believes the state should allow for more small businesses and cooperatives.
Alonso says simply asking Cubans to work harder for no new benefits is an empty formula. "Now, all that we are doing is we have our leaders on the screen of the TV saying, 'You have to produce more,'" Alonso says.
"In the history of society I don't remember any situation where economic accumulation has advanced because some charismatic leader says, 'You have to produce more.' "
Major changes to Cuba's one-party system are not on the agenda for discussion. That was also the case in 2007, the last time Cuban leaders asked for public input.
Since then, the government has made limited reforms, but Cuba's economy remains overwhelmingly state-controlled. Inefficiencies are compounded by U.S. trade sanctions. Cubans are left to cope with chronic shortages, meager salaries and a smothering state bureaucracy.
In a cramped Havana apartment building, former diplomat Miriam Leiva remains wary of the government's new openness to criticism, but she says she is beginning to see changes.
"For decades people didn't express themselves because they knew that the security police or the informers were listening and were going to tell on them," she says. Leiva's husband, dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, spent two years in prison for his opposition activities.
"But little by little, since the situation is so harsh, since they have so many personal problems … they started to open up, to talk, and this has been a way of liberating themselves and this is a step to ask for more and to demand for their rights," she says.
Leiva still worries the criticism could be used against people in the future. But she said open discussions are a step toward a more open society.
"I think that the government, Raul Castro, wants to know what people feel and think and what they hope for," Leiva says. "He also knows that people need to express themselves to feel a little better. It's not that I think that he wants to change everything, but at least he knows that even to preserve his power, he has to makes changes."
A Culture Of Paternalism
The proposal that has caused the biggest stir would eliminate the ration system that provides every Cuban, regardless of income, with about two weeks' worth of food. Most of it is imported, at great cost to the government.
One of Castro's top officials recently likened some Cubans to "baby birds," waiting to be fed by their "Daddy state," a remark that upset many who say it's the government's fault for creating a culture of paternalism.
Social worker Ariel Dacal says he lives in a neighborhood where poor families couldn't survive without the government food basket.
As a committed socialist, Dacal worries that if the economy is liberalized but little else changes, Cuba will follow a Chinese or Vietnamese model that eventually leads to capitalism. And that would squander the sense of solidarity and social commitment the Cuban Revolution has built over decades.
The Cuban Revolution needs its own revolution, he says, one that will bring more democratic participation to politics, the economy and every facet of daily life. That, he says, is the only way for the Revolution to save itself.
Cubans Warily Test Their New Freedom To Criticize : NPR (10 November 2009)http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120274039&ft=1&f=1004
Surplus of personnel in Cuba's Agriculture hinders production
There is an urgent need of increasing the food production and reduce importations
"There is an urgent need of increasing the food production and reduce importations; this scenario has triggered the solution of this old problem, a problem which causes bureaucracy, rises costs, halts productivity, creates disorders and prevents the worker to improve his income."
Twenty-six per cent of Cuban agriculture's labor force is unproductive, a problem "that generates bureaucracy, affects costs, slows down productivity and prevents workers from improving their income."
Cuba is currently embarked on a major effort to increase farm production and drop the import bill on food products, impossible to maintain at its current amount.
Agriculture on the island is working hard to diversify the branch and increase national products for the locals and for tourists as well.
Surplus of personnel in Cuba's Agriculture hinders production | Cuba News Headlines. Cuban Daily News (10 November 2009)http://www.cubaheadlines.com/2009/11/10/18582/surplus_personnel_cuba%E2%80%99s_agriculture_hinders_production.html
Chiropractic mission to Cuba a first
Earlier this year, a team of ten chiropractors, three chiropractic students, three chiropractic advocates and one chiropractic office manager brought chiropractic care and humanitarian supplies to the people of Cuba.
Peter Morgan, DC, founder of Mission-Chiropractic, led the five-day mission to the communist nation at a time when new hope has emerged among the Cuban residents. The group made new friendships and brought home a better understanding of the plight of people on the island. It's believed to have been the first successful major chiropractic mission ever to visit Cuba.
From Nassau in the Bahamas, the team boarded a small, old Russian propeller plane. We encountered turbulence for the entire hour ride and were happy (and relieved!) to touch down in Havana, where we were greeted by hundreds of Cuban workers wearing swine flu masks. It was really eerie, as was going through an extensive and exceedingly thorough customs protocol.
When we finally exited the airport, we felt as though we had stepped back in time. Most of the cars were made in the 1950s—but they all ran and looked as if they were brand new.
We stayed in a beautiful hotel overlooking Havana's majestic harbor. The entrance to the harbor is guarded by a 400-year-old fort, built by the Spanish between 1589 and 1630, to ward off attacks by pirates and enemy fleets. In 1845, a huge lighthouse was built adjacent to the fort, which makes the entrance to the city even more picturesque. Havana looks like a combination of Spain, the Caribbean and Italy, with statues and fountains gracing many of the spacious squares.
We spent the first day like typical tourists, eating at great restaurants and even watching Cuban soldiers dressed in the uniforms of British redcoats performing a curfew time firing of the canon, as they did when the British captured Havana in 1762.
The following day, we set aside our tourist hats and went to work on our chiropractic mission. We boarded a ferry that took us across the harbor to Regla, a poorer part of the island, completely different from the downtown tourist area of "Old Havana."
We arrived about 8 a.m. and were met by a large group of local residents who had put on their "Sunday best" clothes for us. They had been waiting patiently to see the chiropractors from the United States and now jockeyed for position to get a glimpse of us. We told them the chiropractic story and set up our adjusting rooms. We had not been allowed to bring portableVisit the Practice Management Software Resource Centerchiropractic tables into Cuba, but our hosts had made a number of tables for us and set them up in several rooms of the converted church building.
The next day, part of our team was driven out to the countryside about an hour outside Havana. We set up adjusting rooms in a small church and attached house. Many of the Cubans living in the home had severe disabilities. The beds were simple slabs of wood, many without a pillow or even a cover. The floors were manufactured by the pastor in order to make more room for the people who lived there.
When we broke for lunch or dinner we were told that honored guests eat first, everyone else later. They had so little yet they offered it to us! They are so generous that when one of us made a comment on how much we liked their small, old-fashioned coffee machine, they wanted to give it to us as a gift!
The floor of the kitchen and eating area was plain concrete but swept and mopped perfectly clean. Life there is simple, slow. Generations have been born on this property and shacks have been added to accommodate the new marriages. They work hard to live; it shows on the roughness of their feet, hands and faces, but their hearts are as warm and innocent as children.
Speaking of children, they followed us everywhere. We felt like Pied Pipers! Our digital cameras always caused fun, laughter and smiles as the children transformed themselves into athletes, circus artists, clowns and acrobats for the camera. They all posed and began doing cartwheels and flips. They immediately wanted to see their pictures. As we were leaving, kids ran alongside us, waving.
"What an incredible experience I had in Cuba," one of the team doctors said to me. "It was five of the most meaningful days of my life. …We were humbled to see many chiropractic miracles while we were there. We saw God working through us as we taught and adjusted in Havana and Regla, Cuba."
The Cuba trip was one of a number of humanitarian efforts by Mission-Chiropractic, which has also brought chiropractic care to poor communities in Central America and the Caribbean, including Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Trips to Ethiopia and Ghana are scheduled for 2010.
To help fund the missions, Mission-Chiropractic has partnered with Mission Life International and "7 Weeks to Wellness Ministry" to create an evangelistic health ministry geared to generating new patients.
Chiropractic mission to Cuba a first (11 November 2009)http://www.chiroeco.com/chiropractic/news/8780/52/Chiropractic-mission-to-Cuba-a-first/
Posted on Tuesday, 11.10.09KARL MARXReality defeated communist theoryBY CARLOS MONTANERwww.firmapress.com
Twenty years ago, the rubble of the Berlin Wall crashed down loudly onto Marxism and pulverized it. Something that, paradoxically, confirmed Marx's opinion about theories, which he explained in his Theses on Feuerbach: “It is in practice that man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the worldliness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking.''
Marxism simply could not withstand its confrontation with reality. It promised paradise on Earth and spawned 20 horrendous dictatorships. It left 100 million dead. It impoverished half a planet. It retarded the scientific and technical progress of numerous nations and debased several generations of people who were forced to lie and celebrate a regime they deeply detested.
When Marx died, his disciple, comrade and friend Friedrich Engels described the two “great contributions'' of the German thinker: historical materialism and surplus value.
What were these? Historical materialism (a ridiculous hypothesis that ignored the enormous complexity of human nature) postulated that religion, the political system, the institutions of law, moral, art, etc., constituted the “superstructure'' generated by the interests of the ruling class that controlled the “infrastructure,'' that is, the means of production.
According to Marx and Engels, once private property disappeared and the workers gained control of the productive apparatus, the superstructure would radically change.
As to surplus value, it was an error that emerged from the theory of value held by the classic economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Marx believed that the value of production depended on the human labor attached to it, so the capitalist enriched himself by appropriating the difference between the price of sale and the real cost of the goods or services produced. That was surplus value.
A couple of years before Marx's death (1883), a young Austrian economist, Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk demonstrated to him his mistakes and incidentally pointed to the contradictions on that theme that existed between Volume One and Volume Three of Das Kapital.
Why did these two intellectual blunders generate a catastrophe as gigantic as the communist dictatorships? First, because in order to dismantle the bourgeois state and remake the relationships of property according to the utopia Marx had designed, he prescribed (and his disciples heeded him) a dictatorial stage directed by the proletariat.
In other words, he advocated a goals-oriented ethic capable of justifying any monstrosity that might lead humans in the direction of happiness and progress. Later, Lenin and other cruel communists created a method of social control through police repression that turned out to be unbeatable. Once the cage had been built, it was very difficult to escape from it.
Why, in the end, did communism sink? Basically, because of the demoralization of the ruling class when faced by the material and spiritual failure of Marxism-Leninism. The communists could not ignore the comparison between the two Germanys or the two Koreas. They saw with envy how all the scientific and technical discoveries took place in the Western democracies endowed with capitalist economies.
They had learned ad nauseam that Marx was wrong when it came to theory, and that the implementation of his ideas had senselessly led millions of human beings to slaughter and driven into poverty those societies that had tried them.
To deal with that situation, the reforms began; but Marxism was not reformable. Marx's presumption that he had discovered the laws that rule history and economic development was hogwash that could not be corrected.
His theory of surplus value and, in the end, his inability to understand the concept of subjective value, could not be modified either. It was like believing that the Earth is flat.
The provisional era of the dictatorship of the proletariat had become a nightmare. It was not a phase but a repugnant goal controlled by the security apparatus. For that reason, when they tried to fix the system, the edifice collapsed. It had been built on a false foundation.
Only Cuba and North Korea stubbornly cling to the error, but it's only a matter of time. In those countries, not even the ruling class believes a word of the official line.
Reality defeated communist theory – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/other-views/story/1325237.html
Posted on Tuesday, 11.10.09Castros afraid of the truthOUR OPINION: International community must condemn Cuba for attacks
Paz y amor. Peace and love. That was the message that some 200 young people chanted in Havana while holding placards calling for “no more violence'' as passing cars honked their horns.
Not among them: Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, who was on her way to the Friday demonstration when she and another blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo, were hauled into a car by three men, likely state security agents. The pair was dragged into the car, beaten black and blue in the head and chest before being dumped miles away from the demonstration as if they were trash. (You can watch a short video of the protest at http://desdecuba.com/generationy/)
In a Sunday blog post, Ms. Sánchez, who is walking with a crutch because of back pain post beating, summed up the “blame the victim'' attitude that premeates after 50 years of dictatorship: “The dozens of eyes that watched as Orlando and I were forced into a car with blows would prefer not to testify, and so they put themselves on the side of the criminal.
`The culprit's accomplice'
“The doctor who does not make a record of an act of physical mistreatment, having already been warned that in this `case' there must be no document to prove the injuries received, is violating his Hippocratic oath and, with that wink, becomes the culprit's accomplice.''
With one million hits a month worldwide, Ms. Sánchez's “just the facts, ma'am'' approach to exposing Cuba's reality on her Generation Y blog surely has the communist regime's attention. She has won prestigious journalism awards for her blog — in Spain and from Columbia University. Her heroic work is known internationally, yet few Cubans know about the growing blogger movement on their island because the government does not allow access to the Internet.
At 32, Ms. Sánchez is among a new generation of truth tellers, born into a revolution that has quashed every basic human right even as the Orwellian Human Rights Council of the United Nations ignores Fidel and Raúl Castro's abuses of power. As Human Rights Watch noted after Ms. Sánchez was beaten, the international community should condemn Cuba's attacks on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression — the “only country in the region that continues to repress virtually all forms of political dissent.''
What do the Castro brothers have to fear from a rail-thin young mother who writes about her life there and has become a voice for those living in fear?
Castros afraid of the truth – Editorials – MiamiHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/story/1325232.html
Posted on Tuesday, 11.10.09US State Dept 'deplores assault' on Cuban bloggers
HAVANA — The U.S. State Department issued a statement late Monday decrying attacks on three Cuban bloggers, including one who has gained international attention for her searing observations about life on the communist island.
"The U.S. government strongly deplores the assault on bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo," the department said.
Sanchez, who has won international awards for her blog "Generacion Y," said Friday that two Cuban state agents in civilian clothes stopped her and Pardo in Havana's Vedado neighborhood as they and other friends headed to a nonviolence march.
Sanchez said she and Pardo were ordered into a car where the agents pulled her hair and kicked her. Both she and Pardo were held briefly before being let out at their homes, she said. Cadelo was picked up by a car separately around the same time.
The Cuban government has not commented. There was no way to corroborate Sanchez's assertion state security was involved, but agents routinely follow members of Cuba's tiny political opposition.
The State Department said the three bloggers were "beaten" and called "on the Government of Cuba to ensure the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens."
Many Cubans who openly criticize the country's single-party system say they are harassed regularly by the state, particularly if they try to attend or plan street demonstrations. The government does not recognize the legitimacy of the opposition, claiming they are paid mercenaries of Washington.
Earlier this year, Time magazine named Sanchez one of the world's 100 most influential people. In October, the government denied her permission to travel to New York to receive a journalism prize.
While her blog gets about 1 million hits a month, Sanchez enjoys more of a following off the island than on it. Internet access to her blog is blocked in Cuba and Sanchez blames the government, which severely limits freedom of speech and assembly and controls all newspapers, radio and television stations.
US State Dept 'deplores assault' on Cuban bloggers – Technology – MiamiHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/business/technology/story/1325258.html
Posted on Tuesday, 11.10.09Cuba's blogosphere has developed a sharper edgeCuba's blogosphere has taken on a decidedly harsher face in recent months, an act of online defiance in the face of government retribution.BY JUAN O. [email protected]
When a dozen Cuban bloggers wanted to stage a protest last month, they simultaneously tweeted, texted and posted messages like “Freedom.''
Carefully, but with daring determination, some Cubans whose blogs once focused largely on the frustrations of daily life are moving toward sharp-edged commentaries and activities that some fear will eventually lead to a crackdown by the communist government.
“We do not have a common position . . . but yes, some people have been doing actions that go beyond the click and the keyboard and try to exercise the rights of a free person,'' said Reynaldo Escobar of the Havana blog Desde Aquí (From Here).
Some bloggers indeed have become “more assertive, more confrontational, more pushing the limits — and pushing their luck,'' said Ted Henken, a Baruch College professor who is writing a paper on the social implications of the Cuban blogosphere's growth.
In fact, on Friday the best known of the Cuban bloggers, Yoani Sánchez, reported that she and another blogger were detained and beaten severely by state security agents, apparently to keep them from joining a peaceful march in Havana organized by young musicians.
Cuba's blogosphere is tiny for an island of 11.5 million people. About 200 blogs have official approval and 100 don't, among them dissident journalists and human rights activists, according to a recent report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
But about 15 bloggers have captured widespread attention at home and abroad — sometimes becoming better known than political dissidents — with posts that challenge the government and break its monopoly on information entering and leaving the island.
While human rights activists report “the sufferings on the island, which are indeed tragic,'' said Henken, the usually younger bloggers tend to use more humor and nonpolitical language to connect with young Cubans and foreigners.
“They appeal to a new generation that speaks their language, the language of social networks'' like blogs and Facebook, he added. “They appeal to people like my students, who have no politics.''
Escobar said some of the bloggers — sometimes called alternative bloggers to differentiate them from government-approved and dissident writers — have now decided “their purpose is not just to be on the Web but to express their individual will to come together in a place, on an issue.''
They have arranged three “virtual protests'' since May, but their largest came on Oct. 20, the anniversary of the day the Cuban national anthem was first sung, when a dozen Cuban bloggers and about 100 other sites coordinated their posts, text messages, tweets and other Web activities for Blogacción — Blog Action.
Escobar wrote that if he had a microphone for only two seconds he would ask for “freedom.'' Myriam Celaya blogged demanding Internet access for all. Claudia Cadelo wrote that she dreamed of the release of blogger Pablo Pacheco, who has been jailed since 2003 but dictates his post to Cadelo, who then arranges to have them posted on Voz Tras Las Rejas — Voice from behind Bars.
“It's a matter of trying to grease the machinery for online protests,'' Sánchez, 34, wrote about the Oct. 20 event in her blog Generación Y. The total number of participants is unknown, but Google reported 22,000 searches for the words “Blogacción'' and “Cuba.''
Six days later, Escobar and Sánchez, who are married, hosted the first session of the Bloggers Academy of Cuba, a series of training sessions for some 30 would-be bloggers in their Havana apartment that includes technology, photography, ethics and the legalities of the Internet.
And three days after that, Sánchez sneaked into a government-run cultural center that was hosting a discussion on the Internet. While other cyberactivists were barred from entering, Sánchez took off her wig and launched a withering critique of the government's “ideological filter'' on the Internet. A video of her comments — and the thin applause she received — was posted on her blog hours later.
The government has long tried to control Cubans' access to the Internet, putting restrictions on computers and subscriptions, keeping prices high and blocking access to unfriendly sites, including most alternative blogs. It also has assigned university students of computer sciences to post comments supporting the government and attacking its critics.
But Cubans have found myriad ways to get around the roadblocks: Passwords for Internet access sell on the black market for $10 a month. People with access download information to CDs and USB thumb drives and pass them on to others, who then copy the data and pass it further on. One file being passed around instructs cybernauts on how to get around government blocks on the unfriendly blogs and other websites.
Yosvani Anzardo, a young engineer from the eastern province of Holguín, even established the digital newspaper Covadonga and an private e-mail system called Red Libertad — Liberty Net — by reprogramming his laptop to work as a much more powerful server.
Then there's Bluetooth, which allows the rapid transfer of files such as forbidden books, songs and foreign news reports between cellphones that are near each other, without going through telephone or computer lines.
Security agents probably don't realize the impact of Bluetooth, Escobar said. “Those people studied in the KGB and maybe now they are studying in China, but their knowledge is antiquated,'' he said in a telephone interview from Havana.
Cuba's blogosphere has developed a sharper edge – Americas – MiamiHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/v-fullstory/story/1325230.html
Police arrest five blind street vendors
HAVANA, Cuba, Nov. 9 (Juan Carlos González Leiva, www.cubanet.org) – Members of the National Police Force arrested five blind street vendors in the capital last week. The five were selling CDs and similar products in the Víbora section of Havana Nov. 1 when they were arrested and taken to the Aguiletra police station. Two were released the same day but three others were held overnight in jail. Those arrested were identified as Taíma Barzola Veloz, Enrique Barrera Acosta, Juan Miguel Ruiz Ruiz, Byron Sotolongo Pérez and Eduardo Ruiz Ruiz. Barzola Veloz said she had been shoved by a policeman in an incident several days earlier. Dissident begins one-year sentence for hoarding HOLGUÍN, Cuba, Nov. 9 (José Ramón Pupo Nieves, www.cubanet.org) – Dissident Fidel García Roldán started to serve a one year sentence last week after being found guilty on charges of hoarding. García Roldán has served more than four years in prison on earlier convictions related to his opposition to the government. "This is nothing more than a dirty maneuver by the political police, using false trials to get rid of men and women who've decided to fight their lies," said García Roldán before entering the Típico Prison in Las Tunas Nov. 3.
Police arrest five blind street vendors – Cuba Dissidents – MiamiHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.miamiherald.com/1447/story/1324475.html
Publicado el martes, 11.10.09Nuevas restricciones amenazan con empeorar la crisis en CubaPor WILFREDO CANCIO ISLA
La crisis económica que atraviesa Cuba está golpeando fuertemente la vida cotidiana de la población con apagones cada vez más frecuentes, una paulatina eliminación de los productos subsidiados y la amenaza de nuevas restricciones que los medios oficiales comienzan a agitar como un fantasma de fin de año.
"Apretarnos el cinto pero con inteligencia: esa es la alternativa'', expresó el lunes un editorial del semanario Trabajadores, que pronosticó "inevitables restricciones y ajustes en cada uno de los sectores''.
Las exhortaciones a la austeridad y la eficiencia se repiten por estos días en la prensa oficial en medio de la recesión económica que atenaza al país, agobiado por la falta de liquidez financiera, la caída de las importaciones de bienes de consumo en un 36 por ciento y el descenso en un 7.7 porciento de la producción agrícola –un renglón clave para paliar las carencias alimentarias de la población.
Según Espinosa Chepe, "la crisis apenas ha mostrado la punta del iceberg'' y el gobierno alista actualmente un paquete de medidas que comprende el cierre de industrias afectadas por la carencia de materias primas y el cese del vínculo laboral para miles de empleados, que serán enviados a sus casas en calidad de "interruptos''.
Se estima que el plan gubernamental afectará a entre el 10 y el 15 por ciento de la población laboral activa del país, y entrará en vigor durante el mes de diciembre. El asunto podría discutirse durante las sesiones de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (parlamento), que a fines de año debe trazar la estrategia económica del país para el año entrante.
Desde mediados de octubre el gobierno ha incrementado los cortes de electricidad en las empresas estatales y el sector residencial de La Habana y el interior del país, y ha alertado sobre la necesidad de redoblar los esfuerzos en el ahorro energético de cara al 2010.
Sólo cuatro provincias han logrado cumplir los planes de consumo de electricidad fijados en cada territorio a partir de las regulaciones del Ministerio de Economía y Planificación: Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Holguín y La Habana, de acuerdo con estadísticas oficiales.
"Los cumplimientos han sido posibles en esas provincias gracias a una recia fiscalización, pero las indisciplinas, las violaciones sobre el consumo y mucho relajo en las empresas siguen estando a la orden del día'', dijo a El Nuevo Herald un ingeniero del Despacho Nacional de Cargas de la Unión Eléctrica que pidió no ser identificado. "Esto no es fácil''.
Aunque el gobierno ha tratado de evitar los apagones en el sector residencial, los recortes del servicio eléctrico han impactado muchas barriadas de la capital y pueblos del interior durante las últimas semanas, con duración de hasta ocho horas.
"Hemos regresado a los días del período especial y la desesperación de los apagones'', relató Lucía Carmona, una economista que reside en la barriada de Santos Suárez, en el municipio Diez de Octubre. "Y la falta de agua es también otra agonía''.
Gradualmente, han empezado a retirarse las llamadas "gratuidades indebidas'' y la ''distribución igualitaria de productos'' que el gobernante Raúl Castro sugirió eliminar en un discurso de febrero del 2008.
A partir del 1ro. de octubre comenzó el desmantelamiento de los 24,700 comedores obreros, lo que significará un ahorro anual de $350 millones anuales para el país.
La libreta de racionamiento –que se estudia restringir para un sector minoritario de la población– dejó de incluir desde este mes las papas y los chícharos, cuyos precios subsidiados eran, respectivamente, de 0.14 y 0.40 la libra en moneda nacional. Ahora ambos productos pueden adquirirse en los agromercados estatales con una tarifa de 3.50 pesos cubanos (chícharos) y un peso (papas).
Las versiones callejeras que circulan desde hace días en La Habana apuntan a que el próximo producto que perderá el subsidio estatal será el arroz, un alimento básico en la dieta del cubano. El precio de la libra de arroz pasaría de 25 centavos a tres pesos cubanos (unos $0.10).
Espinosa Chepe dice que las inquietudes de la población sobre el tema del recorte de subsidios se han acrecentado, pues las tiendas en divisas tienen cada día menos productos y el crecimiento de la producción agrícola es aún una quimera.
Las noticias al terminar la XXVII Feria Internacional de La Habana, la pasada semana, no resultan muy alentadoras: Cuba apenas suscribió contratos por valor de $150 millones, una reducción de $200 millones con relación a la cifra pactada con empresas foráneas en el 2008.
Mientras, un pleno del comité provincial del Partido Comunista en Ciudad de La Habana reconoció atrasos en la recuperación de las tierras ociosas y deficientemente explotadas para la producción de alimentos, según un reporte aparecido el lunes en el periódico Granma.
El comunicado dijo que existen grandes dificultades en "la dilatada concertación de los contratos, demora en la limpia de las áreas, deficiente utilización de los espacios y falta de sistematicidad en el control de las comisiones agrarias'', y mencionó además entre los obstáculos la carencia de implementos agrícolas e insumos, atrasos en la entrega de semillas, y la falta de servicio eléctrico, sistemas de sistemas de riego y bombas para pozos.
"El problema es un nudo gordiano gigantesco que ha creado el propio gobierno'', opinó el economista Jorge Sanguinetty, presidente de la firma DevTech Systems, con sede en Miami. "Quieren estimular la economía sin liberalizarla, y el sistema no responde ya a reformas marginales, sino que necesita de una transformación radical''.
Sanguinetty arriesgó un pronóstico: "La situación pudiera tornarse peor que en la crisis de los años 90''.
Nuevas restricciones amenazan con empeorar la crisis en Cuba – Ultimas noticias – ElNuevoHerald.com (10 November 2009)http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/ultimas-noticias/v-fullstory/story/584521.html
LA LECCIÓN DEL MURO
Por Angélica Mora *AnalistaNueva YorkE.U.La Nueva CubaNoviembre 10, 2009
Del Muro de Berlín es difícil no conocer su historia, especialmente los que la vivimos hace 20 años. En mi caso, como periodista de Radio Martí.
He tenido el privilegio de recorrer antes de la caída del Muro, la zona en el lado occidental, hasta "Punto Charlie".
Luego del 9 de noviembre de 1989, gran parte de la ruta donde estuvo el muro.
Hoy sólo hay placas colocadas en el pavimento que indican por donde serpenteaba. Queda intacto un trozo de pared de unos 8 metros, cerca del Parlamento.
El Muro, mirado de cerca, parece insignificante. Si no se supiera que separó durante 28 años al pueblo alemán en dos mitades.
Hoy, cuando se celebra en el mundo libre la caída de ese símbolo de separación, tragedia y muerte, los que luchamos por la democracia no podemos de dejar de hacer comparaciones con los muros que todavía quedan en pie, levantados por la tiranía.
¿Cuánto tiempo demorarán las gastadas grietas del Muro cubano en abrirse?.
¿Quien dará el primer martillazo para iniciar su caída? ¿Qué circunstancia liberará al pueblo esclavizado de Cuba, que se encuentra en manos del comunismo por casi el doble del tiempo que duró la muralla de Berlín?
Por su parte, en las naciones satélites de La Habana no hay muchas esperanzas.
Estos gobiernos obedecen a Hugo Chávez, quien no soltará prenda hasta que lo saquen a viva fuerza del poder.La analogía de Venezuela con los nacionales nostálgicos de Muro, es casi perfecta: Una parte de la población alemanana añora los privilegios que tuvieron en el pasado en la Alemania Oriental. Otra está descontenta con la reunificación y reclama el alto costo económico que ha debido afrontar.
Analistas que estudian la crisis venezolana indican que gran parte del pueblo está hoy descontento con Chávez, pero no quiere perder los privilegios que goza, especialmente los pobres, quienes reciben subsidios y ayuda del gobierno. El comando militar venezolano tampoco quiere perder lo ganado en sueldo y negociados que les permite el Estado.
En la intrincada política internacional las naciones que podrían hacer algo se limitan hoy a recordar. Son los gobiernos libres que aplauden hoy los 20 años del derrumbe del Muro, mientras contemplan impávidos las barreras que aún separan a los pueblos, basadas en la misma doctrina comunista que colocó el primer ladrillo en el llamado Muro de la Verguenza.
* Angélica Mora, periodista chilena, analista de La Nueva Cuba. Trabajó como jefa de corresponsales en Radio Martí. Creó y dirigió el programa "Ventana a Cuba" en La Voz de América, VOA. Periodista en varios medios de prensa hablada y escrita en Chile y Venezuela. En Venezuela estuvo destacada ante el Congreso y el Palacio de Miraflores por Radio Caracas Televisión, RCTV. Fue periodista en el Diario El Nacional de Caracas. En Estados Unidos fue corresponsal para RCTV y el Diario El Nacional. En 1984 recibió la condecoración Andrés Bello otorgada por el gobierno de Venezuela.
LA NUEVA CUBA (10 November 2009)http://www.lanuevacuba.com/archivo2009/Nov/angelica-mora-517.htm