Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Names and Brands

Names and Brands / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Dámaso, 29 October 2016 — Creating a brand name respected
around the world requires resources, effort and time. In the colonial
and republican eras certain Havana names became famous established
brands over time.

Among retail department stores there were El Encanto, Fin de Siglo, La
Epoca, La Opera, Filosofia, Sanchez Mola and Los Precios Fijos. Stores
specializing in jewelry, fine china, and luxury giftware included Le
Trianon, Riviera and Cuervo y Sobrino.

Confectioners included Potín, La Gran Vía, and Sylvain. Restaurants and
cafes included La Zaragozana, El Castillo de Farnes, Floridita, El
Emperador, Monseñor, El Castillo de Jagua, and Rancho Luna.

If other types of retailers are included, the list becomes almost
endless. This was the case throughout the entire island.

Brands also repeated the phenomenon: Bacardí. Arechabala, Hatuey,
Cristal, Tropical, Polar, Pilón, Regil, Jon Chí, Tío Ben, Bola Roja, El
Miño, Nalón, Escudo, Catedral, Guarina, Hatuey, Regalías El Cuño,
Partagás, H. Hupman, Competidora Gaditana, Trinidad, and many more.

Beginning in 1959 the new authorities changed the names and the brands,
and allowed years of resources and serious work by many Cubans to be
lost. It was a suicidal commercial policy, replacing established names
and brands with absurd numbers and generic names.

So appeared the markets A-14, S-34, M-67, and others; cigarettes were
all Popular or Soft; soaps were Nácar; soft drinks and deodorant were
Son; cologne, shampoo, and other products were Fiesta.

Gone were the labels and containers that differentiated one brand from
another, although they were made in different places. Names and brands
to defend or to answer for ceased to exist, losing quality.

This still happens with some products, the most representative example
being matches: they are called Chispa, although their producers are
different and they are located in different provinces. Many beers, with
different brand names, are produced in a factory in Holguín, closing the
existing factories in Havana.

With the slow entry into the world market, some names and brands have
been rescued and other new ones have been created.

As for commerce, the laurels go to the Historian of the City, who has
restored the original names to many business of the historic district,
although with some liberties regarding their locations: Cuervo and
Sobrinos were in Águila and San Rafael and not in Oficios and Muralla,
where they are located now. But hey, not everything can be perfect. The
effort should be appreciated.

Hopefully the new private businesses being built on the sites of old
shops will imitate him. Maybe this way in Havana and in other places in
Cuba the lost historic continuity will be restored.

Source: Names and Brands / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba -

El Templete Has A New Ceiba, The Second In A Year

El Templete Has A New Ceiba, The Second In A Year

14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 24 April 2017 — The place where the
town of San Cristóbal was founded in Havana has a new ceiba tree, the
second planted there in a little more than a year. The specimen comes
from the road between Managua and Boyeros, south of the Cuban capital,
and comes to fill the void left at El Templete by its predecessor,
planted a few days before President Barack Obama's arrival in Cuba.

On this occasion, the arrival of the ceiba was not surrounded by the
excitement that marked the planting of the previous specimen. The
8-year-old, twenty-foot tree reached its final site at midnight last
Friday, an hour that specialists recommended because it is cooler, and
therefore less damaging to the newly transplanted tree. It rained while
the neighbors watched a crane lift the imposing tree and plant it in the
historical site of the city.

Now, the waiting period for this Havana symbol begins. Will this tree be
able to adapt to its new habitat? Will it survive the salt air, the
compaction of the soils of the area and the rigors of urban life? No one
wants to risk predicting its future, but next November, which will
mark 498 years after the founding of the Villa, Havanans will need a
tree to perform the ritual of walking around its trunk and making a wish.

Source: El Templete Has A New Ceiba, The Second In A Year – Translating
Cuba -

Independent Journalist Arrested For Investigating The Case Of Karla Pérez González

Independent Journalist Arrested For Investigating The Case Of Karla
Pérez González

14ymedio, Havana, 25 Havana, 25 April 2017 — The independent magazine El
Estornudo (The Sneeze) has denounced Monday's detention of its
collaborator Maykel González Vivero. The young journalist was detained
at Marta Abreu de las Villas Central University, while reporting on the
expulsion of journalism student Karla Pérez González.

The digital site asserts that the reporter "did not at any time hide"
that he was investigating on the case. "He managed to interview Karla's
classmates who voted in favor of her definitive exclusion from Higher
Education, including as Miguel Ángel Castiñeira and Ney Cruz," the
article said.

However, in the course of the investigation "a number of teachers tried
to confiscate Maykel's belongings and his tools of the trade." He was
subsequently "held in a university department until police took him to
the State Security Santa Clara Operations Unit."

At the Unit, the reporter was subjected to five hours of interrogation
and his equipment was confiscated: a laptop, tape recorder and cell
phone. El Estornudo clarified that the reporter "is not facing any legal
charges, but his devices will be returned to have after the police
penetrate (sic) them and check their contents."

In October of last year, González Vivero was jailed for three days in
Baracoa, Guantánamo, "for covering as an independent journalist the
passage of Hurricane Matthew through the East of the country," the
article notes.

The reporter "is not facing any legal charges, but his devices will be
returned to have after the police penetrate (sic) them and check their

El Estornudo said that the expulsion of the journalism student was
arbitrary, as was the arrest of Maykel Gonzalez Vivero: "two
unjustifiable abuses that the Cuban government commits, in a manner as
shameful as it is ironic, through one of its centers of higher education."

On Monday, Karla María Pérez González received the official ratification
of her expulsion from the University and has ten working days to appeal
the decision. The young woman was accused of belonging to the Somos+ (We
Are More) Movement and "having a strategy from the beginning of the
course to subvert the young."

The case has aroused a wave of outrage and in her favor official voices
have weighed in, such as the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez,
who wrote in his blog, "What brutes we are, for fuck's sake, it's been
decades and we don't learn.

"It is so clumsy and obtuse what has been done to this girl that
inevitably this will draw attention to the group to which she belongs
and the ideas it defends. I know that they will come out with lists of
links of some of these groups calling them terrorists, etc. But the
damage is already done, because such injustice can only arouse
solidarity," he said.

Source: Independent Journalist Arrested For Investigating The Case Of
Karla Pérez González – Translating Cuba -

Lady In White Sentenced To Almost Three Years In Prison For Alleged Crime Of ‘Attack’

Lady In White Sentenced To Almost Three Years In Prison For Alleged
Crime Of 'Attack'

14ymedio, Havana, 25 April 2017 — On Tuesday morning the Court in
Havana's municipality of Diez de Octubre, confirmed the prosecutor's
request of two years and eight months in jail for Micaela Roll Gibert, 53.

The woman, a member of the opposition group Ladies in White, is charged
with the crime of attack, alleging that she knocked down Luanda Mas
Valdés, an official from the Ministry of the Interior (MININT), during
an arrest.

According to Berta Soler, the leader of the women's group who spoke with
14ymedio, the incident took place on May 1, 2016, when Roll Gibert left
the headquarters of the Ladies in White.

"Roll was beaten by two cops. When they put her inside the bus to take
her to the police station, one of the officers twisted her arm and
knocked her down. As she fell, Roll took with her another police officer
who was trying to repress her," explained Soler.

Soler says that Micaella Roll Gibert's 16-year-old daughter was expelled
from the School of Nursing because of her mother's activism and another
of her children, a son, was fired from his job in retaliation against
his mother

The officer who fell, Mas Valdés, did not appear in this Tuesday's trial
and according to Soler, they explained to those present that she was
"nine month's pregnant" and "has high blood pressure."

"The trial was finally held without the presence of the officer making
the accusation and instead the court accepted an affidavit, taken at the
house of Mas Valdés moments before the trial," adds Soler.

According to the opposition leader the trial was rigged, prepared by
State Security.

"It's one more woman they are going to send to prison," says the
activist, who notes that some time ago a State Security official
proposed to Roll Gibert that she "collaborate with them."

"When she refused him, they warned her that her life would become a
nightmare," Soler adds.

Soler says that Micaella Roll Gibert's 16-year-old daughter was expelled
from the School of Nursing because of her mother's activism and another
of her children, a son, was fired from his job in retaliation against
his mother.

The Lady in White also denounced that other women from the movement are
"still missing since early this morning."

"We do not know where the Ladies Yolanda Ayala, María Josefa Acón and
Gladys Capote are," says Soler.

Source: Lady In White Sentenced To Almost Three Years In Prison For
Alleged Crime Of 'Attack' – Translating Cuba -

How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants

How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván García

Iván García,9 April 2017 — They did not put a Makarov pistol to his head
or torture him with electric prods. Let's call him Josué. (The names in
his article have been changed). He is a guy who wears American-made
jeans, listens to jazz by Winton Marsalis on his iPhone 7 and is a
diehard fan of LeBron James.

He used to work at a gasoline station. One day earned the equivalent of
fifty dollars, enough to have some beers at a Havana bar with his
buddies. "One of my friends was an opponent of the regime and two were
independent journalists," says Josué. "That wasn't a problem for me. I
had known them for years and they were decent, trustworthy people. We
talked politics but, when we just hanging out, we usually talked about
sports or our daily lives," says Josué.

One morning two officials from the Department of State Security (DSE),
dressed as civilians and riding motorcycles, showed up at his door.
"They wanted to 'have a friendly chat' with me. They asked if I would
collaborate with them, if I would pass on information about my dissident
friends. When I refused, they threatened to charge me with embezzling
state funds."

"'We know you are stealing gasoline,' they said. 'Either you work for us
or we'll press charges.' At first, I went along with it but only passed
along false information or said that my friends didn't tell me anything
about their work activities. Then they suggested I infiltrate the
dissident movement. I refused. In the end I quit my job at the gas
station. So now they hassle me constantly and come up with any excuse to
arrest and detain me at the police station," say Josué.

For Sheila, an engineer, the modus operandi is familiar: "First, they
tried to blackmail me, accusing me of having an extra-marital affair
with a dissident. When I told them, 'Go ahead; do it,' they changed
tactics and said they were going to charge me with harassment of
foreigners and prostitution because I have a European boyfriend."

One of the objectives of Cuban special services is to "short-circuit"
the connections that so many of the regime's opponents, such as
independent journalists, have with official sources. "They are in a
panic over the possibility that dissidents and independent journalists
are building bridges and establishing networks of trust with employees
and officials at important state institutions. That's why they are
trying to poison the relationships dissidents and journalists have with
relatives, friends and neighbors," claims an academic who has received
warnings from the DSE.

According to this academic, "The DSE will use whatever weapon it can to
achieve its goals. These include blackmail, psychological pressure, a
person's commitment to the party and the Revolution, and threats of
imprisonment for criminal activity, which is not uncommon given that
some potential informants work in the financial or service sector and
often make money by defrauding the government. State Security does not
need to torture its informants. A system of duplicity, widespread
corruption and fear of reprisal are enough to accomplish the objective:
to isolate the opponent from his circle of friends."

Yusdel, an unlicensed bodyshop repairman, recalls how one day an
agent from State Security told him, "If you want to keep your business,
you have to inform on your stepfather," a human rights activist.
"They're pigs," says Yusdel. "It doesn't matter to them if you betray
one of your relatives. If you refuse, you are besieged by the police."

For Carlos jail is a second home. "Once, when I was a serving time at
Combinado del Este prison, a guard asked me to intimidate another
inmate, who was a dissident. 'Punch him, do whatever it takes. Nothing
will happen to you.' In exchange for this, they were going to give me
weekend passes. I said I wouldn't do it. But there are common criminals
who are all too willing to do this shit," says Carlos.

The pressure to become a "snitch" is greater when a government opponent
or an alternative journalist is inexperienced. Because the dissident
community is made up of groups of pacifists and because it operates
openly, it is easy for counterintelligence to infiltrate it and
blackmail dissidents, who can easily break down or crack under
psychological pressure.

With eighteen years' experience in the free press, a colleague who has
known fake independent journalists such as the late Nestor Baguer and
Carlos Serpa Maceira says that ultimately they became informants
"because of pressure exerted on them by State Security."

A professor of history who has been subjected to bullying by an agent
believes, "The revolutionary/counterrevolutionary rhetoric was inspiring
in the first few years after Fidel Castro came to power, when those who
supported the revolutionary process were in the majority. Now, those who
collaborate do not do it out of loyalty or ideology. They do it out of
fear. And that makes them vulnerable and unreliable citizens. Not to
mention that the professionalism of the current DSE officers leaves much
to be desired. Some agents seem marginal and very intellectually unstable."

To achieve its objective, Cuban counterintelligence resorts to extortion
of would-be informants. And in the case of the opposition, to physical
violence. If you have any doubts, just ask the Ladies in White.

Source: How Cuban State Security Intimidates Potential Informants / Iván
García – Translating Cuba -

Cuban sugar burns to recapture sweet smell of success

Cuban sugar burns to recapture sweet smell of success
by Hector Velasco - AFP on April 26, 2017, 4:30 pm

Pedro Betancourt (Cuba) (AFP) - A sweet smell of treacle used to fill
the air in the village of Pedro Betancourt -- but like the workers from
the derelict Cuba Libre sugar refinery, it has dispersed.

It was the smell of success against the odds for Cuba, reviled by the
United States and its allies in the Cold War but still a world champion
sugar producer -- until the Soviet Union fell and stopped buying it from
Fidel Castro's communist regime.

Now a demolition crane is attacking what is left of the Cuba Libre
refinery's rusty steel skeleton. Fidel is dead, the Cold War is over --
and Cuba wants its sugar industry back.

"The refinery was the life of the people who lived here," says Arnaldo
Herrera, 86. He lost his job at the plant when it closed in 2004.

"When that changes, life changes."

- Cane on the risin' -

Britain and other colonial powers grew fat on Cuban sugarcane --
harvested by black slaves -- from the 18th century until independence at
the turn of the 20th.

The island then sold a lot of sugar to the United States until
Washington imposed a trade embargo after communist revolutionary Castro
took over in 1959.

Castro later announced a "revolutionary offensive" to relaunch the
industry. The Soviet Union bought the sugar at preferential prices.

For 1970 Castro famously set a production target of a "great harvest" of
10 million tonnes. (He fell short by 1.5 million.)

But after the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1989, with the US embargo still
in place and prices falling, the island could no longer compete.

Two-thirds of its refineries -- about 100 plants -- have shut down since

From eight million tonnes a year in the 1990s, production plunged to
just over one million in 2010.

"That was when we touched bottom," says Rafael Suarez, head of
international relations for the state sugar monopoly Azcuba.

"Since then an effort has been made. The refineries have been improved
and a lot of emphasis has been put on recovering sugarcane production."

Suarez says Azcuba is also looking to expand production of sugar
derivatives: rum, cattle feed and renewable fuel.

- Human cost -

Some 100,000 Cubans used to work in refineries like the one in Pedro
Betancourt in the east.

The refineries used to pay well, for Cuba -- at least double the $28
average monthly salary.

Julio Dominguez, 84, worked in Cuba Libre until it shut.

"This town has been stripped bare. Tobacco production is all it has
left," he says.

The refinery stopped milling in 2004 and demolition began in 2007. Like
everything in Cuba, it takes time.

Some still weep when they pass the site, says the head of the
demolition, Eliecer Rodriguez.

"I am knocking it down, but that was someone else's decision," he says.

Workers were kept on their salaries for some time after the closure.

Some have since moved on to work as tobacco producers, taxi drivers or
handymen. Others have emigrated to the United States.

"Closing a sugar refinery is always traumatic in human and social
terms," Suarez says.

"What the revolution did was take a lot of care to see that no one was

- Sweet smell -

Soon only the concrete smokestacks of Cuba Libre will still stand among
the green fields of sugarcane.

But 70 kilometers (some 40 miles) away, a chimney is still smoking. The
air smells of caramel.

It is business as usual at the Jesus Rabi refinery.

The plant's boiler operator Juan Hernandez, 63, was made redundant from
two sugar plants that shut down before he landed here.

"Those were bitter times. When a sugar refinery shuts, it really shuts.
There isn't the economy for it."

Yet by mechanizing the sugar harvest almost completely, Cuba has managed
to boost production to some two million tonnes a year from its 2010 low

More than half of that it exports, mostly to China and Russia.

Suarez reckons the island can pump up production to four million tonnes
a year. That will still leave it as a minnow in world terms.

"The days when such a small country as Cuba was the biggest exporter of
sugar will never return," he admitted.

"We don't pretend they will."

Source: Cuban sugar burns to recapture sweet smell of success - Yahoo7 -

Fast-track drilling for Cuba envisioned

Fast-track drilling for Cuba envisioned
Australian energy company Melbana said conditions ripe for action in oil
prospects in Cuba.
By Daniel J. Graeber | April 26, 2017 at 8:05 AM

April 26 (UPI) -- The necessary components for an accelerated drilling
program for oil prospects in Cuba may already be in place, Australian
energy company Melbana said.

Melbana Energy Ltd. estimated last year that Block 9 in Cuba holds 637
million barrels of prospective recoverable reserves and 19 drilling
prospects there were described by the company as high impact and low
risk. Its highest ranked drilling opportunity is the Alameda-1 well,
with an estimated 400 million barrels of recoverable oil on the high
side of Melbana's estimates.

Melbana is one of the few Western oil companies, and the only one listed
on the Australian exchange, with a footprint in Cuba. CEO Peter
Stickland said the company had about $2.7 million in cash on hand as of
March 31 that it would use in part to develop its drilling program in Cuba.

In its latest statement, the company said it was focused on accelerating
the program in Cuba, which outlines two new wells during the first half
of 2018. Melbana said it "concluded that the appropriate equipment,
experienced personnel and support services necessary to safely and
effectively undertake a drilling program can be expected to be available
in Cuba."

The company estimated its drilling campaign for 2018 would cost about
$30 million at the high end and it was now in the process of a detailed
contractor evaluation.

The national oil company of Cuba, CUPET, extended its contract last year
for early exploration efforts in Block 9 by eight months to November 2017.

In its second-half 2016 report, Melbana said adequacy of funding was its
main focus. More funding could come from capital injections, share
placements or farm-ins to some of its prospects.

Source: Fast-track drilling for Cuba envisioned - -