Juan Carlos Linares Describes Amazing Journey From Cuba to Red Sox Prospect (Video)by NESN Video on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 7:06PM
Juan Carlos Linares did not have an easy journey to America, but now that he's here, the Red Sox prospect is relishing every moment.
The 26-year-old outfielder persevered through arduous conditions to escape Cuba and travel to Mexico to get his opportunity to reach the United States. Linares traveled through alligator-infested waters to reach a boat travelling to Mexico, a boat that broke down in the middle of the ocean during his journey. Linares and his family survived for two days without food, but their dream to achieve a better life helped them push through until they reached safety.
Linares always wanted to play professional baseball, but he never received the opportunity in Cuba, playing for three years on La Habana without a national team nod. According to his interview, translated by Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro, Linares was paid just $8 per month to play, and knew he could find a better life playing somewhere else.
His dream has been realized with the Red Sox. Linares played with Double-A Portland last season, and he hopes to further his career with Boston in the coming year.
To hear more of his incredible story, check out the interview above with Heidi Watney."
Locals are ready as doors to Cuba open
Relaxed rules mean more access for Pitt students, religious groups to a nation so close yet so far awaySaturday, March 19, 2011By Julie Percha, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When she studied in Cuba last spring, University of Pittsburgh senior Gloria Hatcher came face-to-face with crumbling infrastructure and poverty so dire that many locals struggled just to stretch their monthly food rations.
The communist nation is a place few Americans have legally visited and, despite its location 90 miles from Florida, seems a world apart.
"It was unlike studying abroad anywhere else, where you can easily see other [Americans]," said Ms. Hatcher, 22, one of nine students participating in the Pitt in Cuba program that semester. "It really forced us to get to know the Cuban culture."
Such educational exchanges and other opportunities to explore Cuba have expanded for Pittsburghers thanks to recent changes in travel restrictions.
In January, President Barack Obama quietly eased federal policy toward Cuba for the second time since taking office, allowing more "purposeful travel" for religious, academic and journalistic groups, relaxing some restrictions on non-family remittances and opening international U.S. airports for charter flights to and from Cuba.
Last week, federal officials selected Pittsburgh International Airport as one of eight airports in the U.S. and Puerto Rico for those charter flights.
The loosened regulations — the most sweeping liberalization of Cuban travel and remittance policy since President Bill Clinton's administration — come as an attempt "to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country's future," according to a White House statement.
Though the new regulations are a stark departure from tightened Cuban travel policy under President George W. Bush, American tourism to Cuba is still prohibited, and the new regulations fall short of lifting the nearly 50-year-old economic embargo.
"What the administration is doing now is restoring … some of the policies that have existed before," said Alejandro de la Fuente, a Cuban-born professor at Pitt's University Center for International Studies who now lives in Mt. Lebanon.
"I think it's a small step in the right direction … a very important and positive step."
One of the most significant changes restores short-term, credit-bearing academic exchanges. Policy under the Bush administration required that academic programs to Cuba last at least 10 weeks.
Pitt is one of about 15 U.S. universities with its own licensed study-abroad program in Cuba. Its relationship with the University of Havana dates back to the 1960s, said Kathleen DeWalt, director of Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies.
"Many of us believe that the easing of restrictions for educational study abroad to Cuba is one of the vehicles for improving understanding between the two societies," she said. "[This] can be an engine for positive change on both sides."
Under the relaxed academic travel stipulations, Pitt would be able to reinstate its short-term summer Cuba programming, which began in 2000 but was restricted in 2004. Currently, Pitt's School of Social Work is planning a 2012 spring break program to Cuba.
The federal government no longer requires the university to have an academic license to study in Cuba, and its Pitt in Cuba program — which has run each spring since 2009 — can now accept students from other Pittsburgh-area schools that offer cross-registration.
"Cuban people are wonderful — they're warm, they are welcoming, they are serious and they know how to have a good time," Ms. DeWalt said. "We believe it to be the safest place we can send students."
Regarding charter flights out of Pittsburgh, a Cuban charter service must be identified before transit begins, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.
"That would be the missing piece," Ms. Jenny wrote in an e-mail. "Since Pittsburgh does not have a large Cuban population, having a charter to Cuba is not an immediate regional travel demand."
According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census, fewer than 1,280 of Pittsburgh metro area residents are of Cuban descent.
"I am particularly pleased by the prospect of having direct flights from Pittsburgh to Havana," Mr. de la Fuente said. "This could have a very serious impact on multiplying and increasing access to Cuba for American citizens."
The eased restrictions also allow religious organizations to sponsor trips to Cuba under general travel licenses.
In February, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh led a nine-day mission to Havana, where volunteers distributed medicine, food and clothing donations to Cuba's dwindling Jewish population of roughly 1,300 people, according to trip coordinator Bill Cartiff.
Since the mission was organized under the older, more stringent travel restrictions, he said planning required jumping through "a lot of hoops," including filing visa applications, securing a religious travel license and partnering with an accredited Cuban tour provider.
"There was a lot of arms reaching out on this," said Mr. Cartiff, adding that the JCC now might add another Cuban mission to its cycle within two to four years.
Mt. Lebanon native Ellie Bahm, 68, one of the 30 from across the U.S. on the JCC's recent trip, said she'd love to return to Cuba one day.
"There's so much to learn, and so much to see," she said. "But I think I need to practice my Spanish first."Julie Percha: or 412-263-4903.
Cuba adopts "summer time" to save energy12:23, March 20, 2011
Cubans will adjusts their clocks one hour forward at midnight Saturday to implement the "summer time," aimed at using better the daylight and reducing energy consumption.
Cubans will adjust their clocks at 24:00 on Saturday to 1:00 on Sunday, replacing the so-called "normal time" in force since Nov. 1.
Director of Rational Use of the Electric Energy Union (UNE), Tatiana Amaran Bogachova, said that "with the new schedule will be earned one hour of daylight, which allows to extend the practice of daily activities, from sports to business and leisure."
She also noted that "as the evening is delayed," thus the use of appliances is reduced, and the energy consumption in this period is less.
The official said that after the adoption of the Daylight Saving Time (DST), only in the last 11 days of March, Cuba will save some 8,000 tons of fuel.
She added that despite the implementation of the DST, the country increases its energy consumption, mainly in the months of July and August, when the heat is intense and more people are on vacation in the houses.
Hence the authorities called on citizens to use only the needed electricity and meet the standards for the use of appliances.
Horario de Verano
Cuba adelantará una hora sus relojes e implantará el "horario de verano"
Con la llegada de los meses de verano es habitual que en la Isla se adelanten los relojes
EFE, La Habana | 19/03/2011
Cuba adelantará sus relojes una hora el sábado en la medianoche para implantar el "horario de verano", que permitirá aprovechar mejor la luz solar y reducir el consumo de energía en la Isla, informaron medios oficiales.
De este modo, a las 24:00 horas del sábado los cubanos ajustarán sus relojes para las 01:00 del domingo, reemplazando el denominado "horario normal", que estaba vigente desde el pasado 1 de noviembre.
Con la llegada de los meses de verano es habitual que en la Isla se adelanten los relojes, ya que los días son más largos y la luz solar puede aprovecharse mejor en la vida cotidiana y en el sector económico.
Los medios cubanos recuerdan el sábado que si bien la medida reducirá el consumo eléctrico para la iluminación, es habitual que en los meses más cálidos del verano el gasto energético aumente porque más personas se encuentran de vacaciones y usan electrodomésticos de potencia como aires acondicionados.
En ese sentido, la Unión Nacional Eléctrica de Cuba ha realizado un llamado al ahorro, pidiendo que se utilice sólo la electricidad necesaria y se cumplan las normas establecidas para el uso de los equipos electrodomésticos.
Tras el adelanto en los relojes, Cuba tendrá hasta fines de octubre próximo cuatro horas de diferencia con el horario internacional (GMT -4), en vez de las cinco del llamado horario normal.
El destino de los hermanos Lima Cruz en manos de prostitutas, chulos y bisneros
Marzo 20 – Los hermanos Lima Cruz fueron detenidos a finales del año pasado en la ciudad de Holguín por, según testimonio de familiares y amigos, escuchar música de un grupo contestatario conocido como Los Aldeanos, envueltos en una bandera cubana. Como es usual en estos casos, se les acusó injustamente de desorden público e irrespeto a los símbolos patrios.
Pues bien, ahora se ha filtrado la lista de nombre de posibles integrantes del jurado que decidirán la suerte de estos muchachos.
Lo preocupante es que casi todos los elegidos cargan detrás con "pecados" que los hacen vulnerables a ser extorsionados, chantajeados por la policía política cubana.
¿Quiénes son estos personajes? Gente común, muy alejada del "ideal" socialista del hombre nuevo al que los dirigentes de la dictadura cubana dijeron aspirar en un momento dado de la historia política de la "revolución".
Los testigos se nombran: Odalys Leyva Silva, Delegada de Circunscripción del Poder Popular, quien se dedica a negocios fraudulentos bajo el amparo de una licencia de trabajadora por cuenta propia; Martha Hernández Parra, ex prostituta que ha abandonado a sus dos hijas y ahora se dedica al expendio de alcohol de fabricación casera; Pablo Rodríguez Obregón, padre de dos jóvenes que han practicado la prostitución y se dedica a la venta ilegal de teléfonos móviles, computadoras y Viagra; Carlos Ricardo Mojena, quien expende alcohol casero y protagoniza desordenes públicos con frecuencia; Nelson Nogueira Domínguez, ex instructor del Partido Comunista de Cuba, quien vive abandonado a su suerte, y Rosa María Inza Olivera, también negociante y vendedora en el mercado negro.
Todo un mosaico de la sociedad cubana actual, de la real, de la que no se enseña en libros de historia ni en tratados filosóficos de sesudos profesores universitarios.
¿Cuál será el destino de los hermanos Lima Cruz?
El que decidan chulos, prostitutas y bisneros.
Cuban authorities call on fighting against economic vandalism
HAVANA, Mar 19, 2011 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — The Cuban Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) called on Saturday its members to "enhance the revolutionary people's vigilance" against the acts of vandalism affecting different sectors of the Cuban economy.
"The actions against the public telephony and transportation, the theft of railway sleepers and rails, and of the angle of electrical towers, among others, endanger human life, affect the country's economy and hurt the public peace," the CDR said in a statement.
"The people at the CDR, the Federation of Cuban Women and the National Association of Small Farmers have all the means to combat the social indisciplines, and to give an effective response in preventing or fighting the serious crimes against the communications, transportation, electricity and rail systems," the statement said.
The CDRs are considered the "eyes and ears of the revolution," the largest mass organization on the island, with 8.4 million members of a population of 11.2 million.
The Committees as they are known have been mobilized during the first mass vaccination campaign since 1962, when the country eradicated diseases like polio and rubella.
They also are important in their integration with the communities to maintain the social prevention, one of the reasons for the low crime rate in Cuba."
Piñón on Energy:
Petrobras pullout not a final verdict on Cuba's oilBy Jorge Piñón
"…Petrobras has more to gain from organically growing its position in Brazil than going abroad to expand production". Petrobras CFO Almhir Guilherme Barbassa (Forbes magazine, February 28, 2011)
More than 80 percent of the world's crude oil production is in the hands of national oil companies (NOCs), the majority with a good track record of managing their national patrimony. But only a handful have been able to keep an arms-length relationship from their country's politics du jour.
Many governments treat their NOCs' coffers as a petty cash box to finance their political or social agendas, without taking into consideration the huge amounts of capital that have to be reinvested, in order to maximize the NOCs' return on assets and the life span of their hydrocarbon resources.
A rare exception is Brazil's Petrobras, which has demonstrated an envious independence from the central government's politics. This oil company is marching to the beat of its own drummer.
In September of last year, Petrobras announced the sale of $67 billion worth of shares to finance its ambitious $224 billion, five-year investment plan, which is aimed at nearly doubling its current domestic crude oil production to 3.9 million barrels a day by 2014.
The transaction generated $25.4 billion from the sale of preferred shares, giving the Brazilian government 55.6 percent of the voting shares; and another $39.2 billion from the sale of common shares, giving the government 48 percent of the common shares of Petrobras.
The results of the sale demonstrated private investors' trust in Petrobras future performance.
Projects by political allies Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and former Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva such as the Gasoducto del Sur, the Abreu e Lima refinery, and the Carabobo heavy oil project have failed to materialize, because they were not able to meet Petrobras' profitability and strategic thresholds.
In December of 2010, Petrobras executive Paulo Roberto Costa was quoted in the Oil & Gas Journal as saying that "Petrobras was willing to build the Abreu e Lima alone if Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA did not meet its financial terms and conditions," thus underscoring the national oil company's independence.
Now, to Cuba. In October 2008, Petrobras was awarded, under a two-year exploration concession, the 1,600 km² Block 37, located in Cuba's Strait of Florida just 12 miles north of the island's north coast between La Habana and Matanzas.
After spending more than $8 million in seismic and geological work, Petrobras last fall determined that the hydrocarbon potential of the block did not warrant the additional expense of exploratory drilling and did not seek an extension of the concession.
This was the second time that Petrobras attempts to develop Cuba's oil and natural gas resources. In 1998, Braspetro, Petrobras' former international subsidiary, drilled two dry holes in the area of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo at a cost of over $15 million. The Cuban government awarded this area — today Block L — to Russia's Zarubezhneft oil company last year; it is just south of The Bahamas' Andros Island, were British and Norwegian oil companies are conducting seismic studies.
The recent departure by Petrobras from Cuba should not be taken as a final verdict on Cuba's oil and gas potential, or as a signal on possible strained political relations between the governments of Cuba and Brazil.
It was simply an economic and strategic decision by Petrobras, following their long term-vision of focusing resources on developing its recently found 10 billion barrels of deepwater offshore oil and natural gas at the Santos and Campos basins, along the Atlantic coast. As Petrobras CFO Almhir Guilherme Barbassa recently stated in a Forbes interview: "…Petrobras has more to gain from organically growing its position in Brazil than going abroad to expand production."
Jorge R. Piñón was president of Amoco Corporate Development Company Latin America from 1991 to 1994; in this role he was responsible for managing the business relationship between Amoco Corp. and regional state oil companies, energy ministries and energy regulatory agencies.