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Daily Archives: November 12, 2009

Two Czechs given eight months for breach of peace in Cuba

Two Czechs given eight months for breach of peace in Cuba

Havana – Two Czechs, who were by Cuban authorities at the in Havana in March, were sentenced to eight months in for breach of the peace and offering resistance by a Cuban court on Wednesday, Czech consul to Havana Petr Brandel has told CTK.

One of the men will also have to pay a fine worth an equivalent of 1600 crowns for the material damage .

The men have almost served the whole sentence since they have been in custody since March 22.

According to information of the Florida-based U.S. daily El Nuevo Herald from last week, the Czechs, aged 25 and 32 years, were in Cuba on a two-week holiday. When they were to depart, they arrived at the airport slightly drunk, and they continued drinking alcohol there.

They ended up in a quarrel and when the airport employees tried to calm them down, one of the men, an expert in martial arts, started being aggressive and demolished the equipment.

The airport employees then swooped on the two men and eventually the interfered.

The two men were originally accused of assault for which they would face up to five years behind bars, but the prosecutor's office re-qualified their act to breach of the peace.

Brandel pointed out that not only the Czech diplomatic mission but mainly the lawyers of both accused men were pleasantly surprised by the highly professional work and approach of the prosecutor's office.

Moreover, the court stressed that the case was not in the slightest politically tinged, and it also took the young age of the accused men into consideration.

The Czech men will receive the verdict in writing on Friday. Then they will have a ten-day deadline for appealing it.

($1=16.886 crowns)

Two Czechs given eight months for breach of peace in Cuba -?eské (12 November 2009)

Cuba orders extreme measures to cut energy use

Cuba orders extreme measures to cut energy useThu Nov 12, 2009 3:30am ISTBy Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has ordered all state enterprises to adopt "extreme measures" to cut energy usage through the end of the year in hopes of avoiding the dreaded blackouts that plagued the country following the 1991 collapse of its then-top ally, the Soviet Union.

In documents seen by Reuters, government officials have been warned that the island is facing a "critical" energy shortage that requires the closing of non-essential factories and workshops and the shutting down of air conditioners and refrigerators not needed to preserve and medicine.

Cuba has cut government spending and slashed imports after being hit hard by the global financial crisis and the cost of recovering from three hurricanes that struck last year.

"The energy situation we face is critical and if we do not adopt extreme measures we will have to revert to planned blackouts affecting the population," said a recently circulated message from the Council of Ministers.

"Company directors will analyze the activities that will be stopped and others reduced, leaving only those that guarantee exports, substitution of imports and basic services for the population," according to another distributed by the light industry sector.

is said to be intent on not repeating the experience of the 1990s, when the demise of the Soviet Union and the loss of its steady oil supply caused frequent electricity blackouts and hardship for the Cuban public.

The directives follow government warnings in the summer that too much energy was being used and blackouts would follow if consumption was not reduced.

All provincial governments and most state-run offices and factories, which encompasses 90 percent of Cuba's economic activity, were ordered in June to reduce energy use by a minimum of 12 percent or face mandatory electricity cuts.

The measures appeared to resolve the crisis as state-run press published stories about the amount of energy that had been saved and the dire warnings died down. The only explanation given for the earlier warnings was that Cuba was consuming more fuel than the government had money to pay for.

The situation is not as dire as in the 1990s because Cuba receives 93,000 barrels per day of crude oil, almost two-thirds of what it consumes, from . It pays for the oil by providing its energy-rich ally with medical personnel and other professionals.

Cuba has been grappling with the global economic downturn, which has slashed revenues from key exports, dried up credit and reduced foreign .

The communist-run Caribbean nation also faces stiff U.S. sanctions that include cutting access to international lending institutions, and it is still rebuilding from last year's trio of hurricanes that caused an estimated $10 billion in damages.

In response, the government has cut spending, slashed imports, suspended many payments and frozen bank accounts of foreign businesses. It reported last week that trade was down 36 percent so far this year due mainly to a more than 30 percent reduction in imports.

(Editing by Jeff Franks and Eric Beech)Cuba orders extreme measures to cut energy use | Reuters (12 November 2009)

Cuban Daily Cites Fidel’s 1970 Lament About Low Productivity

Cuban Daily Cites Fidel's 1970 Lament About Low Productivity

HAVANA – The headline in Wednesday's edition of Cuban Communist Party daily Granma was a 39-year-old quote from the country's now-retired leader, , complaining of low productivity on the island.

"Productivity is practically forgotten, and lack of productivity is the abyss that threatens to swallow the island's human resources and wealth," Fidel said in a 1970 speech.

Cuban state media – there are no independent outlets – have been sounding the same theme for the past few years, with still greater urgency since Fidel Castro was sidelined by illness in July 2006 and turned over power to younger brother Raul.

On Tuesday, Granma said Cuba's state-run agricultural enterprises are plagued by an "excess of nonproductive personnel," estimating the number of redundant employees in the sector at 89,000, or 26 percent of the total.

The party newspaper praised the Ministry for aiming to eliminate at least 10 percent of the superfluous jobs and to halve the number of managers.

"Workers must be aware of this problem," Fidel Castro said in 1970, commenting on what he saw as a lack of diligence and application.

He said Cuba stood to gain tremendously from increased productivity and that those advances could be achieved "with little or no additional effort, with the resolution of some bottlenecks, with better organization, with better use of the working day, with more discipline, with a degree of rationality, with a degree of common sense."

Current has repeatedly complained about Cuba's poor agricultural productivity, noting that half the island's arable land is sitting unused.

He said earlier this year that the "maximum priority" is increasing domestic farm production, given rising international prices and Cuba's reliance on imports for more than 80 percent of the consumed by the island's 11.2 million residents.

The government has already reduced the amount of food that Cubans receive at subsidized prices via their ration cards and imposed strict energy-conservation measures.

Cuba is suffering one of its worst economic crises since the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in January 1959.

The world economic slump has squeezed Cuba's two main sources of hard currency: nickel exports and , while Cuban families have experienced a decline in remittances from relatives in the United States.

The Cuban government is now forecasting an economic expansion of only 1.7 percent in 2009. Official statistics show growth in domestic product fell from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 4.3 percent last year. EFE

Latin American Herald Tribune – Cuban Daily Cites Fidel's 1970 Lament About Low Productivity (12 November 2009)

Cuba’s potato revolution

Cuba's potato revolutionJessica Leeder

From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 8:14PM EST Last updated on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 3:06AM EST

The humble potato has become the symbol of a new revolution sweeping Cuba.

The vegetable has been eliminated from the thick brown ration books that Cuban nationals relied on for nearly 50 years to purchase government-subsidized groceries, part of the socialist country's attempt to ensure equal access to such staples as , and cooking oil.

If this is the beginning of the end for Cuban ration books – and many who have been charting the series of changes instituted by new President believe it is – the implications for the future of the struggling country's are huge.

"It's an attempt to start a new model you might call market socialism," said John Kirk, a professor who specializes in Cuban studies at Dalhousie in Halifax.

"It's a survival strategy to a certain extent. Raul Castro is saying … the model that we've used needs to be radically changed. The issue of ration books is one breadcrumb along the path."

Since he officially assumed the country's helm from his ailing brother Fidel in February, 2008, Mr. Castro has been telegraphing reforms to Cuba's vast array of subsidization programs, which cover everything from to medical care and electricity.

The movement to eliminate unnecessary financial backstopping intensified in the wake of the global economic implosion, which delivered swift blows to Cuba's main sources of income – and nickel exports – and pushed the country into one of its worst economic crises since 1959, when the revolution brought to power.

Upholding the island nation's expensive food subsidization program, which has long been a critical building block of their system, is causing acute strain. The inefficient use of Cuba's fertile farmland (half the country's arable land is unused) has forced the country to import between 60 and 80 per cent of the food needed to nourish its 11.2 million people. The national grocery tab hit $2.4-billion last year – the same amount generated each year by its tourism industry.

"This is far too much," said Beat Schmid, Oxfam's country director in Cuba. "It's a huge economical problem because food prices are still very high."

About two-thirds of every Cuban's daily diet is subsidized by the government via ration coupons (which cover very little meat and few vegetables) and free lunches provided at schools and in many government cafeterias. Cubans are expected to draw on their meagre income, which averages about $20 per person each month, to supplement the rest of their needs.

Although the official demise of has not been confirmed, the state-owned newspaper Granma recently began urging readers to prepare for life without the rationing system. Many view it as a right even though quotas have grown stingier in recent years.

"There's not a whole lot in it in terms of chicken, meat, eggs, but it's an important start to the grocery shopping for the month," said Phil Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "If it were to disappear, it would be a big problem for most households in Cuba."

There was no official announcement when the government removed potatoes and chickpeas, two nonessential dietary items, from the ration list. Cubans only learned of the change when they showed up to collect food from their neighbourhood bodegas – suggesting it was an attempt to test consumer reactions before more drastic changes are made.

Already many government workers have had to grapple with the removal of free lunches in their workplace cafeterias. Instead of a hot meal, many are now given an extra 15 Cuban pesos a day.

"This doubles their income, so some people think that's great," said Oxfam's Mr. Schmid. "Other people feel it's a loss. They liked to have a warm plate of food at noon," he said, adding that if people are fairly compensated for changes to the rationing system, and if the changes are rolled out slowly enough, they will ultimately be accepted.

"It's a step in the right direction economically, giving people more capacity to choose, more liberty to do what they want with their money," he said.

The small extension of financial should not be seen as a shift towards capitalism, though.

"Even though these are significant changes, and this is an attempt to make the economy more efficient, this is still within this socialist system," Prof. Kirk said. "There is no attempt to change the Cuban system. Cuba just needs to follow through in the 21st century."

Not everyone agrees that the changes will be positive for the regime. Antonio Jorge, a professor of political economy at Florida International University and a former deputy minister of finance in Cuba, said the government reforms are a measure of last resort.

"They are very savvy people. They know the last thing you want to do is antagonize the population by depriving them of their subsistence. But if they don't have the resources, what can they do?" Prof. Jorge said.

"This is a recipe for popular discontent and social turmoil. It could undermine the stability of the regime," he said, adding: "This is probably the very last thing that the Cuban regime would have wanted to do

Cuba's potato revolution – The Globe and Mail (12 November 2009)

Cubans Worry as Economy Suffers

Cubans Worry as Economy SuffersNovember 11, 2009 9:17 PMPosted by Portia Siegelbaum

Ever since Raul Castro became Cuba's in February 2008, people—at home and abroad—have been waiting for changes that would improve living conditions on the island. But the changes have been slow coming and there are indications that when they do take place they might not be the ones hoped for.

For three days this week, the official Communist Party daily, Granma, has front-paged statements made in the 1970s and 80s by former President . They are all variations on the same theme: too many people being employed to do too little, and low productivity as the bane of the economy. He also warned that at some point there would be more university graduates than openings in their fields and that students should view their degrees as an honor but not necessarily as a ticket to a professional career.

Castro's statement printed last Tuesday focused on "inflated" payrolls. Inside the same newspaper was an article announcing that the Ministry of would be cutting thousands of bureaucratic jobs. Twenty-six percent of their employees – 89,000 people – it said, were office workers resulting in an "excess of unproductive personnel."

Cubans fear that similar layoffs will come in many other sectors of the economy and that Granma's publication of Fidel Castro's views—if dated—on the issue are rather like trying to put the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on what are bound to be unpopular if necessary measures taken by his younger brother Raul.

Raul Sarmiento, a retired University of Havana professor of political economy who for many years reported on economic issues for Cuban TV, sees the payroll cuts as part of the effort to save money and reduce subsidies but is unwilling to say that those laid off will be left to scrape by on their own.

"These are bureaucrats who don't produce anything … I don't think unemployment will go up but that these people who are now a burden on the economy will be relocated in jobs where they actually produce something," Sarmiento says. He wouldn't specify where in the economy they could accommodate tens of thousands of newly unemployed white collar workers.

Cubans are closely watching every step taken.

"People are very tense," said a foreign ministry employee and specialist on the Caribbean. "The ration book is flying out the window," she said, asking not to be named because she was not authorized to make statements to the press.

The ration book she refers to is a thin drab brown pamphlet the government issues annually to every Cuban family. It entitles them to a series of basic products—, , eggs, etc.—at highly subsidized prices.

Earlier this year President Castro said his "maximum priority" was increasing domestic agricultural production. It's an understandable goal as international prices have gone up and Cuba depends on imports for over 80 percent of the consumed by the population of 11.2 million.

But to cope with the global economic meltdown, $10 billion in damages from three hurricanes in 2008 and a liquidity crisis, Cuba has been forced to reduce spending: imports were cut by 30 percent, and overall trade is down by 36 percent to about $10 billion so far this year with about 80 percent of that being foodstuffs, according to Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, who spoke at the recent International Trade Fair in Havana.

The official state-owned media has been floating trial balloons on cost cutting and import substitution. Some of what they suggest has begun to be implemented, at least in part.

In October, the Communist Party's daily newspaper Granma published a full-page editorial saying it was time to do away with the five decade old rationing system. It went so far as to compare some Cubans to "baby birds," waiting to be fed by "Daddy state." That description drew criticism from many people who have long complained about the "paternalistic state" that left them little room for individual initiative.The follow-up to that editorial was the recent removal of two basic products—potatoes and dried peas—from the ration book. Now they are available in unlimited quantities but at substantially higher prices – as long as the supplies last.

Prior to that, cheap state-subsidized lunches were eliminated on an "experimental" basis from four government ministries whose workers had regularly eaten in on-site cafeterias. Wages were raised by 15 Cuban pesos a work day to compensate. And to encourage employees to "brown bag it" one of those ministries, the Ministry of Economy and Planning, has installed microwaves and a city food service has taken over their lunchroom and is offering reasonably priced meals in Cuban pesos.

All of this represents major changes in Cuba's system. So much so that all the chatter in a doctor's waiting room last week focused mainly on the potential disappearance of the ration book. Like her patients, the woman general practitioner, a single mom supporting a 9-year old daughter and a mother in her 70s, worries how she will get by on her salary. She already illegally sells her password—provided by the Health Ministry—for 250 Cuban pesos a month.

Cuban economists have long debated the subsidized rations. Most have argued for providing aid to families in need rather than subsidizing products for everyone.

But the ration book is a nearly 50-year-old institution and the thought of losing it provokes panic in many quarters.

Clara, a housewife, and Pedro, a retired administrator are both in their 80s. In their younger years, Clara took in sewing and with her earnings and her husband's salary, they did alright. Now they are forced to live on Pedro's 200 peso monthly pension. They buy everything available on the ration book at their local grocery but they resell the extra sugar and rice to their neighbors at prices well above what they paid for them. They wonder what they will do for extra income if the ration book no longer exists.

"Some people don't buy the chicharos or dried peas but some families depend on them," says Alina, a hotel employee in her 40s. Looking doubtful she added, "We'll have to wait to see what happens."

Alina, like other industry worker, is part of a privileged group whose income from tips gives them a living standard way above the average worker. But now they say their income is down because although tourists continue to vacation in Cuba they are spending less because of the economic crisis in their own countries.

Besides the problem of putting food on the table more cheaply Cuba is also facing an energy crunch which is bound to become another irritant of everyday life.

In June, government offices, factories and schools were ordered to substantially cut electricity use. Air conditioners were only allowed to be used for about three hours a day despite the unseasonably warm temperatures.

In Havana, the enterprise providing information services for the national transportation industry, SITRANS, has a windowless room full of computer servers and other equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars. But the IT employees there are prohibited from turning on their air conditioners before 1 p.m. and by 4 p.m. they must be turned off. "It's only going to be a matter of time before the equipment begins to break down. My co-workers are already suffering from the stifling heat," says one of their specialists, who asked us not use him name.

Now State enterprises are being asked to save even more energy during the remainder of 2009. A memo circulated by the Ministry of Light Industry to factories and work centers under its control says Vice President and Communications Minister Ramiro Valdez has ordered them to take "extreme measures" in order to avoid having to resort to programmed blackouts in residential neighborhoods. Among the measures to be implemented immediately is a total ban on air conditioning. Production, except for export goods and essential domestic products, will be shut down. Commercial refrigeration will be turned off unless they hold perishable food or medicines. Even security lighting will be reduced to the minimum.

Similar memos have gone out to other sectors of the economy and to provincial and city governments. Already residents of the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba are complaining about reports that street lights will be turned off. "The most common complaint is that the absence of street lighting will be dangerous," says law professor Miguel Martinez. "Increased crime and hilly streets that are difficult to navigate even in daytime will make for an unhappy mix," he points out.

It's unclear if the current energy crunch is simply a result of people having used more fuel than the country has money to pay for during an extremely hot Spring and summer or if there are other factors that have not been made public. Cuba receives over 90,000 barrels a day of crude oil from on very favorable terms that involve providing that country with medical and other professional personnel. Some Cuban analysts we spoke with speculated that Cuba might be reselling some of that oil in an effort to boost its cash reserves but it has not been possible to confirm that.

There is a belief, however, that President Raul Castro is trying to deal with the problems of his cash-strapped economy in ways that will provoke the least instability. But that doesn't mean he will hold back on changes he deems necessary.

Tags: cuba , raul castro , fidel castro , economy , rations

Cubans Worry as Economy Suffers – World Watch – CBS News (12 November 2009)

Yoani Sanchez vs. the state

Yoani Sanchez vs. the stateHow will Cuba deal with a 34-year-old with spotty and a massive global following?By Nick MiroffPublished: November 11, 2009 18:42 ET

HAVANA, Cuba — In the past two years, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez has become a potent symbol of opposition to the Castro government, a young woman who sketches out a grim chronicle of life on the communist-run island, calling for greater .

Her , Generation Y, claims more than a million visitors per month, and her postings routinely elicit thousands of reader comments. The blog is translated into 15 languages, appearing in English on The Huffington Post website, and Sanchez has won several major awards for her work in the U.S. and Europe. Last year Time named her one of the world's 100 most influential people.

Now, after a weekend incident in which she said was forced into a car and roughed up by Cuban security agents, Sanchez may emerge as a central figure in the island's tentative diplomatic thaw with the United States. As Sanchez's activism increasingly moves from the computer screen to the street, she appears on a collision course with Cuban authorities. If she is or placed on trial for her activities, the Obama administration's cautious diplomatic overtures toward Cuba could grind to a halt.

To that exent, the next phase of the Cold War-era feud between the U.S. and Cuba may hinge on a distinctly 21st century phenomenon: a 34-year-old blogger with a computer, spotty internet access and a massive global following. Opponents of Cuba policy reform in Washington have already seized on her charges of assault, claiming the Obama administration's recent attempts to improve relations have failed to bring more tolerance for dissent on the island.

Sanchez couldn't be reached for comment, but she told the BBC this week that she would not be intimidated or silenced. "The only thing these attacks do is generate more Google hits for my name, and increase the solidarity of the international blogging community," she said.

Cuba's blogger movement is small but growing, and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists estimates the island has 100 unapproved blogs, including some written by dissidents, activists, and others government critics. Sanchez's Generation Y is by far the most famous, offering two or three short postings each week in a carefully-crafted, literary style. Her descriptive writing is invariably critical of the island's socialist system, but often uses language that isn't explicitly political, unlike previous generations of writers.

To the Cuban government and its supporters, Sanchez and her blog are a sophisticated but insidious tool in a long propaganda war waged by anti-Castro forces abroad. Despite her international popularity, Sanchez remains virtually unknown among ordinary Cubans, since few have regular internet access and her site is blocked by state-controlled servers. At times Sanchez dictates her blog entries over the phone to supporters abroad, who post them on servers off the island.

The government has not commented on the assault allegations, but according to Sanchez, she and her friends were stopped en route to an anti- march last Friday by a group of men she said were plainclothes officers. The men ordered Sanchez into a car, and when she refused they forced her into the backseat, striking her back, legs and buttocks. Sanchez said the men called her a "counterrevolutionary" and warned her she had crossed the line with her activities. She said she was let go after 25 minutes.

Sanchez was not seriously injured in the incident, but said she had a sore back and has been using a crutch to move around. She has continued writing her blog, pushing back this week at critics who she likened to those who would blame a rape victim for wearing a short skirt or walking provocatively. "In the face of these attitudes, the victim feels doubly assaulted," she wrote.

The incident was the first serious retribution Sanchez has faced for her activities, and condemnation has been raining down on the Cuban government all week — from U.S.-based groups, Democratic and Republican leaders and the Obama administration, which has taken incremental steps in recent months to improve relations with Havana.

"The U.S. government strongly deplores the assault on bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, listing the names of other bloggers who were detained with Sanchez. "We call on the Government of Cuba to ensure the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens."

In recent months, a confrontation with Cuban authorities has been building, as Sanchez made several forays from the virtual world of her blog into real world forms of activism. She has organized blogging workshops, staged small protest actions and wore a blond wig to sneak into a discussion forum on the internet last month, where she delivered a blistering critique of government censorship.

Sanchez's actions hardly amount to full-fledged street protest or serious political organization. But the Cuban government has responded harshly to organized dissent in the past, especially when Castro opponents on the island develop the kind of international profile Sanchez has.

To some Cuba observers, Sanchez's trajectory parallels previous crackdowns on Castro government opponents. When Cuban dissidents grew increasingly outspoken and organized earlier this decade, their movement was squashed in a March 2003 roundup. In summary trials, 75 were convicted of working in league with U.S. and foreign diplomats trying undermine the government. Several received sentences of 20 years or more.

Baruch College professor Ted Henken, who studies Cuba's blogger movement and has interviewed Sanchez, wrote Tuesday that her detention fits a familiar pattern in the long U.S.-Cuba standoff. Whenever relations with the U.S. seem to be on the mend, the process is derailed by an incident in Cuba that provokes an international outcry.

"These cases teach us that Obama should move forward on further engagement and dialogue based not on the good or bad behavior of Havana, but on the interests of the United States and the well being of the Cuban people," Hencken said. "Conditioning future steps toward a better relationship on actions in Havana only puts the Cuban government, not the U.S. government or the Cuban people, in the driver's seat."

US decries attack on Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez (11 November 2009)

US scientists visit Cuba for `science diplomacy’

Posted on Wednesday, 11.11.09US scientists visit Cuba for `science diplomacy'

HAVANA — Eight American scientists, including Nobel laureate in chemistry Peter Agre, are in Havana to engage in "science diplomacy."

The group was scheduled to meet with officials at Cuba's foreign and public ministries as well as visit the island's Academy of Sciences and the of Havana.

There was no official word on the visitors' schedule, but they planned to remain in Cuba through Friday, according to a statement released by organizers.

The trip comes as Cuba and the U.S. are taking tentative steps toward improving nearly 50 years of frigid relations with recent talks on immigration and re-establishing direct mail service between the countries.

US scientists visit Cuba for `science diplomacy' – World AP – (11 November 2009)

La prensa critica falta de productividad

Publicado el jueves, 11.12.09La prensa critica falta de productividadBy EFELA HABANA

El diario Granma, portavoz del Partido Comunista de Cuba, destacó el miércoles en portada una frase de 1970 del entonces gobernante Fidel Castro sobre la falta de productividad, para reforzar la campaña oficial actual sobre ese mal que la isla sigue sin resolver cuatro décadas después.

“La productividad prácticamente se olvidó, y la improductividad es el abismo que amenaza tragarse los recursos humanos y la riqueza del país'', clamaba entonces el hoy convaleciente líder.

Los medios de comunicación cubanos, todos oficiales, insisten 39 años después en el mismo discurso, denunciando la falta de productividad como uno de los grandes problemas persistentes en el único país de América con un gobierno comunista.

El martes, el mismo Granma resaltaba que uno de los “grandes males'' del sector estatal de la cubana es “el exceso de personal improductivo'', en un artículo que cifraba en 89,000 los trabajadores que no contribuyen a la producción, el 26 por ciento del total.

“La urgencia por incrementar la producción de alimentos y reducir las importaciones ha acelerado la solución de este viejo problema que –según el diario– engendra burocracia, eleva los costos, frena la productividad, crea desorden eimpide que el obrero mejore sus ingresos''.

Al respecto, ya en 1970 aseguraba que “los trabajadores tienen que tomar conciencia de este problema''.

“Tenemos todavía recursos enormes con la productividad que se puede alcanzar, y productividad prácticamente con ninguno o muy poco esfuerzo adicional, con algunos cuellos de botella que se resuelvan, con una mejor organización, con un mejor aprovechamiento de la jornada de trabajo, con más disciplina, con cierta racionalidad, con cierto sentido común'',agregaba.

También el sucesor de Fidel Castro en el gobierno, su hermano menor Raúl, se ha quejado de que la mitad de las tierras del Estado hábiles para la agricultura estaban improductivas, mientras que el país importaba más del 80 por ciento de los alimentos que consumen sus 11.2 millones de habitantes.

Cuba padece este año una honda recesión que redujo su comercio exterior de bienes un 36 por ciento entre enero y septiembre (respecto al mismo período del 2008), causando al gobierno una falta de liquidez aguda que le impide pagar a tiempo las deudas con susproveedores.

Las autoridades ya mermaron del 6 por ciento al 1.7 por ciento la meta de crecimiento para este año, pero economistas independientes dudan incluso de que se alcance la última cifra.

La prensa critica falta de productividad – Cuba – (12 November 2009)

Se expande el SIDA a todos los municipios de Cuba

Publicado el 11-11-2009Se expande el a todos los municipios de CubaLA HABANA (AFP)

Los 169 municipios cubanos "tienen algún grado de afectación" por el VIH y el SIDA, lo que marca una expansión geográfica pues en 2006 sólo estaba presente en 41 de ellos, dijeron este domingo autoridades sanitarias citadas por el diario Juventud Rebelde.

En esa expansión puede estar incidiendo "variaciones en los patrones de conducta de los jóvenes que van a trabajar o estudiar temporalmente a otras ciudades", dijo al diario Manuel Hernández, del Centro Nacional de Prevención de ITS/VIH/Sida. También el aumento de hombres que "experimentan" con mujeres y otros hombres al margen de su relación estable.

Desde 1986 que se registró el primer caso hasta mayo de este año, el Ministerio de Pública contabilizó 11.208 personas infectadas, de ellas 4.528 enfermaron de sida y 1.971 murieron, 137 por otras causas diferentes a esa enfermedad.

"Hoy viven en el país 9.237 personas con VIH. El lado bueno de esta cifra es que mueren menos personas al año gracias al tratamiento con antirretrovirales" que es gratis en la isla, dijo Juventud Rebelde.

El 80% de los portadores son hombres y de ellos, el 85% se infectó directamente en relaciones sexuales homo o heterosexuales, principal causa de la transmisión de la enfermedad en la isla, pese a una fuerte campaña mediática y el muy bajo costo del condón.

Las autoridades mantienen un riguroso control sobre la sangre en los hospitales, todos estatales, y sobre las embarazadas portadoras del virus y otras posibles vías de transmisión. Científicos cubanos trabajan en una vacuna terapéutica para mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas infectadas.

"Estamos desarrollando una vacuna que es lo que se llama ahora terapéutica, es una vacuna que está diseñada para la curación de los enfermos, en este caso pensamos probarla no en enfermos de sida, sino en seropositivos", dijo el doctor Gerardo Guillén, del Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología al telediario local.

Añadió que se "está en estos momentos en fase de someterla a la autoridad regulatoria nacional para comenzar el primer ensayo clínico".

Diario Las Americas – Se expande el SIDA a todos los municipios de Cuba (11 November 2009)

El día después de Fidel

El día después de Fidel11 MIÉ 2009 11:45

Donato, 67 años, un viejo de ropas raídas que suele vender periódicos por los alrededores de la Plaza Roja de La Víbora, está convencido de que es cadáver hace rato. Piensa igual Abelardo, 54, ingeniero civil. Según él, "no se le ha informado al pueblo de su muerte, para que no sucedan disturbios". En Cuba, cada persona tiene su propia versión de la enfermedad del comandante único.

A falta de información veraz, la gente inventa rumores. Carlos, 21, estudiante universitario, ante un grupo de jóvenes escépticos, jura por su madre que leyó una noticia por , donde decían que Fidel Castro había entrado en un coma profundo. Así sucede en cualquier rincón o esquina de la isla.

Nunca la muerte de un hombre ha despertado tantas expectativas. Cuando en la otra orilla, es decir en la Florida, se desata un rumor, a prisa éste llega a las costas cubanas. Muchas personas tienen familiares en el estado del sol o de forma televisión por cable, y no pocas veces, incluso en plena madrugada, como le ocurrió a Jesús, un obrero de 34 años. Un amigo lo despertó a las 3 de la mañana para decirle, con emoción contenida, "se jodió Fidel, lo vi por el canal 41".

Son tantas las veces que en Miami han matado a Castro, que la gente en la isla se lo toma con calma. "El día que se muera de verdad no lo voy a creer", dice Deborah, 29, maestra de primaria. Ya han pasado 3 años y 4 meses del 31 de julio de 2006, cuando el ex secretario personal de Castro, Carlos Valenciaga, con voz grave, por la televisión nacional anunció que el Comandante renunciaba al poder por enfermedad.

Desde entonces, los cubanos viven al filo de la navaja. No porque les interese particularmente la de su antiguo . No. El punto clave para la mayoría es qué va a pasar cuando muera Castro. Algunos en Cuba dan por sentado que su hermano, el general Raúl, no emprende reformas esperando la muerte del patriarca.

No lo creo. Pienso que Raúl Castro no será el Gorbachov caribeño. Los hombres del cambio en Cuba están quizás en el poder, con las máscaras puestas, obedeciendo órdenes con la cabeza baja. Esperando su momento. O caminan de forma anónima por las calles del país. Soy escéptico y no considero que de la oposición cubana salga un líder de valía para el futuro. Casi todos, como Oswaldo Payá o Vladimiro Roca, hablan de democracia y aparentan ser demócratas, pero actúan como pequeños caudillos.

Y eso es lo que les preocupa a los cubanos de a pie. El día después de Fidel. Dan por descontado que Raúl es un presidente de transición. Por tanto, la salud y cercana muerte de Fidel Castro, no es un problema de odio personal. Es simplemente descubrir como será el futuro sin el anciano comandante.

Incluso hay personas que hacen apuestas, como Amador, 43 años, desempleado. Hace un par de años, junto a doce amigos hizo una porra: el que se acerque o acierte en la fecha de la muerte de Castro, se gana 1,200 pesos cubanos convertibles (unos mil dólares). Amador había predicho que a Castro, Dios se lo iba a llevar el 31 de diciembre del 2009. Siente que falta poco. Muy serio, dice que no es nada personal contra Fidel. Es sólo una apuesta. Y él quiere ganar.

90 Millas | Blogs | (11 November 2009)

Escritor cubano afincado en Suecia gana premio novela "Vargas Llosa"

Escritor cubano afincado en Suecia gana premio novela "Vargas Llosa"

Murcia, 11 nov (EFE).- El escritor de origen cubano residente en Suecia Antonio Álvarez Gil, con su obra "Perdido en Buenos Aires", ha sido el ganador del premio de novela "Vargas Llosa", que convocan la de Murcia y Caja Mediterráneo, han informado hoy fuentes de la institución docente.

Ambientada en la ciudad de Buenos Aires de 1927, la obra describe la evolución del personaje "Capablanca", un jugador cubano de ajedrez, según se ha indicado en la presentación del fallo del jurado celebrada hoy.

Álvarez, ganador de esta XIV edición del premio, nació en Melena del Sur (La Habana), tiene 62 años de edad y reside desde 1994 en Estocolmo (Suecia), de cuya Asociación de Escritores es miembro.

A esta edición del premio de novela "Vargas Llosa" se han presentado casi 130 originales, han añadido las mismas fuentes. EFEEscritor cubano afincado en Suecia gana premio novela "Vargas Llosa" - – Noticias Agencias (11 November 2009)

Hemos naufragado; hace rato que estamos bajo el agua

EXPLICA A ESRADIO CÓMO FUE DETENIDA Y AGREDIDAYoani Sánchez: "Hemos naufragado; hace rato que estamos bajo el "La cubana Yoani Sánchez, autora del "Generación Y" y que fue detenida y agredida por agentes de la dictadura castrista, ha contado a "Es la mañana de Federico" el momento en que fue interceptada y ha apuntado que el régimen busca ponerle un halo radioactivo "para que no se me acerque nadie".Yoani Sánchez.

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En una comunicación telefónica con Laura Herrero, redactora de "Es la mañana de Federico", Yoani Sánchez ha dado algunos detalles de lo que ocurrió el día en que fue detenida por agentes del régimen cuando iba a una protesta: "Fuimos interceptados por tres hombres que nunca se identificaron, nos dijeron en un tono bastante fuerte que teníamos que acercarnos al carro, ante nuestra resistencia fueron aumentando el nivel de , incluso llamaron a una patrulla de policía, que es la señal clara de que estos tres fornidos eran de la seguridad del Estado en Cuba porque nadie de esta isla tiene poder para llamar a la policía y darle órdenes".

A partir de este momento, la cubana señala que "cuando llegó la patrulla, que yo creía que nos iba a salvar de los secuestradores, sencillamente se llevó a dos de las muchachas que iban con nosotros, mientras Orlando Luis, el otro , y yo fuimos conducidos a este auto, a una especie de burbuja de impunidad, de no legalidad, donde fuimos atropellados física y verbalmente y después tirados en una calle".

Este violento episodio por parte de agentes del régimen comunista le provocaron serias lesiones: Las zonas más comprometidas como la lumbar de la columna no muestra marcas físicas porque estas personas son profesionales de la intimidación y el golpe, se cuidan mucho, me lo han dado bastante debajo del pelo en la cabeza donde es muy difícil localizar las marcas. Tengo un reporte visual aunque te confieso que he perdido la confianza en la justicia de mi país, he utilizado mi blog como una tribuna, como un estrado para denunciar, pero enfrascarme en un proceso legal dentro de la isla no va a ser por el momento, prefiero esperar que un día en mi país haya justicia, recordaré los rostros de esos tres desconocidos, los señalaré y espero que el peso de la justicia caiga sobre ellos algún día".

Su espíritu bloguero, "intacto"

Pese a las presiones que ha venido sufriendo en los últimos años y a las últimas agresiones, Yoani no piensa renunciar a expresar sus opiniones: "El espíritu está intacto, lo cual dice mucho de cuánto desconoce esta generación mayor que está en el poder del alcance de , porque todo esto lo único que ha hecho ha sido fortalecer alrededor de mi persona la solidaridad online y es un magnifico estímulo para seguir, además tengo tanto que contar hay tantas cosas que decir de mi realidad que no veo que pueda agotarse "Generación Y".

Por eso cree que "la mejor para recuperarme de las heridas física y emocionales ha sido la solidaridad humana, en todos los niveles, desde la pequeña persona que ha llegado a mi casa temiendo alguna represalia por venir a verme, hasta grupos, declaraciones oficiales, personas que se han pronunciado en los parlamentos, artículos periodísticos, solidaridad de otros bloggers, gracias a eso estoy tratando de superar toda la crisis física y ha sido sorprendente como la opinión pública internacional se ha unido en este caso y ha repudiado lo ocurrido".

Además, agrega que "una de las principales que ellos utilizan contra las personas que piensan diferente es la coacción psicológica para enloquecerlos, mis textos nacen de esa observación de la realidad, que no voy a permitir que ellos empañen, que conviertan en sólo un lamento".

Yoani, la más conocida de Cuba, señala que "desde que comencé a escribir Generación Y vivo en una especie de película del sábado, de thriller de acción, de personas que me siguen en la calle, que vigilan los bajos del edificio, que intervienen mi teléfono, pero hasta ahora habían evitado el contacto físico, es la primera vez que soy objeto de la violencia física aunque ya conocía, la intimidación, el chantaje, la difamación y la intención de poner un halo radioactivo alrededor de mi persona para que no se me acerque nadie".

Ha naufragado el proceso, el sistema

En cuanto a su valoración sobre la situación en Cuba, Sánchez dice que "si me pides una palabra te diría naufragio, ha naufragado el proceso, el sistema, las expectativas, las ilusiones, una generación que no encuentra aquí la manera de realizar sus sueños, lo único que se me ocurre para salir de este naufragio, además de cambiar el timonel y toda la tripulación, es intentar cursar nuevas aguas, darle más participación a la población, a los ciudadanos, y eso es lo que intento en mi blog, decir, hey, el barco se ha hundido no simulemos más que navegamos triunfantemente, hace rato que estamos bajo el agua".

Yoani Sánchez: "Hemos naufragado; hace rato que estamos bajo el agua" – Libertad Digital (12 November 2009)

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