Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba

The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Viñales, 27 June 2018 — At the entrance to Calle
Obispo a guide explains to her customers the restoration works in the
historical center of Havana. A few yards away, the line to exchange
currency is full of foreigners and in the corner bar one hears English,
French and German. Tourism is shaping the face of several areas of Cuba
and becoming a problem for their residents.

"In this neighborhood you can't even walk," complains Idania Contreras,
a resident of Obrapía Street in Old Havana and a law graduate. "At first
people were happy because the area improved economically, but little by
little the tourists have been taking over all the spaces and this is
less and less like a neighborhood where people live."

As a consequence of the increase in tourism, prices have also
risen. "Now buying fruits in the markets is a headache because they are
hoarded by the people who rent to tourists," adds Contreras. "A
pineapple never costs less than 20 Cuban pesos because the private
restaurants in the area can pay that amount, because they sell the
tourists a piña colada for three times that price," she explains. In her
view, those mainly affected are the citizens themselves who can't afford
these prices.

Contreras, who worked for a few months in a real estate management
office, says housing prices are also up in the area. "The price per
square meter has exploded around the Plaza de la Catedral, the Plaza de
San Francisco and the streets where it is most profitable streets." She
also says that these areas are beginning to look like the center of
Barcelona or Venice, where fewer and fewer families are living.

However, she acknowledges that "the problem has not yet reached the
point of other cities in the world that receive many more tourists," but
she is concerned because there are no "public policies to alleviate the
problems we are already experiencing."

Contreras's biggest fear is that there is only talk of the positive side
of tourism, while some streets in the area are already showing symptoms
of congestion and tourism activity aggravates the problems of waste
treatment and water supply.

Several regions of the island face the challenge of absorbing an
increasing number of travelers despite the precariousness of their
infrastructure. Among the areas most affected by the avalanche of
visitors are the Viñales valley, the city of Trinidad, the Varadero
resort area and the Cuban capital.

"It is very difficult for a Cuban to rent a room because homeowners
prefer to rent only tourists," warns Gustavo, a handicraft seller near
the Casa de la Trova in the city of Trinidad, which was declared a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 and is now an obligatory stop on many of
the package tours.

"This whole area is focused on foreigners," he says. The salesman, born
on the outskirts of Trinidad, believes that there are many people who
benefit from tourism, but on the way he has lost the city he knew as a
child. "Now it has been commodified and everything has a price, even
people," he laments.

In all the tourist hubs, along with an increase in private businesses
there is also an increase in prostitution. "At night the discos are full
of yumas, foreigners, with young girls and it is a really pitiful show
for our children," notes Gustavo.

"[Tourism] is more positive than negative because 30 years ago this city
had old and beautiful houses, but nothing more," says the seller despite
his reservations about this economic sector.

Carlos and his two children live on the road to Viñales. Coming from a
family of farmers, they now sell fruit at a stand by the side of the
road. "Most of our customers are foreigners coming and going from the
Valley," says the farmer. He hasn't gone into town for two years
because, he says, "you can't take a step with so many tourists."

The winding road that leads to Viñales also suffers with the increase of
vehicles. "It's a rare week that there is not an accident in this
section," recounts Carlos while pointing to one of the curves near his
house. The number of travelers interested in the area seems to have
grown, but the seller points out that the streets and roads remain the
same and that no expansion has been undertaken.

Carlos's closest neighbors have a thriving business that offers
horseback rides to travelers. They gain much more from
these "ecotours" than they could sowing beans or tobacco, another change
that is due to the avalanche of visitors. "Before this was predominantly
a farming area with strong traditions, but now everything is being
lost," he says.

A few yard away, a tobacco drying shed stands with its gabled roof and
its walls made of logs. In the interior, a peasant shows a dozen
tourists how the leaves re dried. "This shed has been set up for groups
who want to see how the process is done, it's pure showcase," says
Carlos. "In this town everything is already like this."

Source: The Dark Side Of Tourism in Cuba – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-dark-side-of-tourism-in-cuba/

Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba

Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 June 2017 — Independent communicators
in Cuba are victims of an escalating repression, according to a
complaint filed Monday by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH),
based in Madrid. The alarm sounded by the organization coincides with an
increase in complaints from journalists on the island as a result of the
government persecutions and obstacles they suffer when exercising their
profession.

"Last June 20 Henry Constantín and Sol Garcia, journalists for La Hora
de Cuba and contributors to 14ymedio, were not able to participate in an
event in Miami because each of them has been indicted for the alleged
crime of "'usurpation of legal capacity' [that is practicing a
profession without a license to do so] and so under Cuban law they are
not permitted to travel outside the country," OCDH reported.

According to the non-governmental organization, the Cuban government had
maintained a kind of "moratorium" with regards to repression against
independent journalists, but the strategy seems to have changed in
recent weeks with actions such as those carried out against Henry
Constantin, Sol Garcia Basulto and Manuel Alejandro Leon Velázquez.

Both Constantín and García Basulto have been expressly forbidden to
practice journalism on the island and the judicial process opened
against them has been criticized from various international forums,
including the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

The OCDH also denounced the arrest of journalist Manuel Alejandro León
Velázquez, a contributor to Radio Martí and Diario de Cuba . Leon
returned from a trip to Spain and has been accused of "usurpation of
legal capacity, association to commit a crime and dissemination of false
news," according to the organization.

The accusations against the three communicators are based on Article 149
of the Cuban Penal Code, which punishes those who carry out "acts of a
profession for the exercise of which one is not properly qualified." If
they are tried for this offense they could face a sentence of up to one
year of deprivation of liberty.

In Cuba, all the media belong to the State, according to the
Constitution of 1976. However, the absence of a Media Law has allowed
the independent press to flourish with sites such as El Estornudo, El
Toque, Cubanet, CiberCuba, Diario de Cuba, Periodismo de Barrio, On
Cuba, among others.

Human rights lawyer and activist Laritza Diversent, who recently became
a refugee in the United States, explained to 14ymedio via telephone that
there are over 300 items within the Penal Code to crack down on dissent
and journalism on the island.

"State Security is looking for different strategies to prosecute all
types of dissidents or critics in Cuba," explained Diversent, president
of the legal group Cubalex, who went into exile after a police and State
Security operation against her.

"Both illegal economic activity and the usurpation of legal capacity are
nothing more than resources to punish any type of activism within the
Island. Legal insecurity is very high because both the criminal law and
the criminal procedure law have been designed as tools of repression,"
said Diversent.

Independent journalist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero, who was arrested last
October in Guantanamo and suffered the confiscation of his tools of the
trade while covering the recovery in Baracoa after the passage of
Hurricane Matthew, confirmed the difficulties of practicing the
profession on the island.

"We do not have a law that supports us and protects the exercise of
journalism, we are at the mercy of the arbitrariness of the
authorities," he said. On that occasion, a team of correspondents from
Periodismo de Barrio suffered the same fate as Gonzalez Vivero.

Other independent publications, such as Convivencia magazine, have been
harassed during the last year with the arrest of members of its
editorial team and threats by the authorities against its contributors.
Foreign correspondent Fernando Ravsberg has been threatened with
expulsion from the country and even with "having his teeth broken" for
the critical entries he publishes in his personal blog Cartas desde Cuba.

Last year the IAPA emphasized, however, the timid rebellion of some
official journalists against the information policy directed from the
Communist Party. Among the examples cited by the IAPA was a letter
signed by young journalists published by the Villa Clara newspaper
Vanguardia, in which they claimed their right to collaborate with other
media.

The IAPA also recalled the case of a Radio Holguin journalist Jose
Ramirez Pantoja, expelled from the profession for five years for making
public the remarks delivered at a conference where Karina Marrón, deputy
editor of the official daily Granma, compared the country's situation to
that of the 1990s when massive protests occurred in Havana, which came
to be known as the Maleconazo.

Source: Persecution Grows Against Independent Journalism In Cuba –
Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/persecution-grows-against-independent-journalism-in-cuba/

Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's work with Cuban institute

Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell Park's
work with Cuban institute
By News Editorial Board
Published Mon, Jun 26, 2017

President Trump's plan to revise his predecessor's overtures to Cuba
carries a significant risk for Buffalo. A promising partnership between
Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a Cuban research institution could be
endangered if Trump isn't careful.

The lifesaving prospect is for U.S. acceptance of a lung cancer vaccine
developed by Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology. The partnership
with Roswell Park grew out of a 2015 visit to Cuba by prominent New
Yorkers, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Dr. Candace S. Johnson, CEO
of Roswell Park. Clinical trials here could open the door to U.S.
approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.

First and foremost, that could save many, many lives. On its own that
fact should overcome any associated objections Trump has to former
President Barack Obama's move to end decades of estrangement from Cuba.
As local matters, successful trials will bolster Roswell Park's standing
in its field, a benefit that accrues not only to the hospital, but to
Buffalo, as well.

In announcing his plan to close the door on Obama's opening to Cuba,
Trump might not have understood the potential damage it could do to this
region and to the life prospects of millions of Americans. That's not an
excuse; he's the president and needs to act with the relevant
information in hand.

But, if he doesn't know now, Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, will surely
inform him. Collins is one of Trump's most devoted supporters in
Congress and, more important to Western New York, has pledged to support
the region's interests when Trump puts them at risk.

Trump promised during last year's presidential campaign to roll back the
opening to Cuba, mainly, one suspects, as a political maneuver to curry
favor with Florida's remaining anti-Castro voters.

One of Trump's professed concerns is Cuba's government, which, in fact,
remains oppressive despite some improvements. Yet the United States
maintains working relationships with other repressive nations, including
one of Trump's favorites, Russia.

The fact is that more than 50 years of isolating Cuba has not worked to
change its ways. It's a failed policy, pursued by both Republican and
Democratic administrations, and it was past time to end it.

Nevertheless, elections do have consequences and Trump has the authority
to make changes in this policy, however unwarranted or unwise. And, in
fact, Trump is only partially changing Obama's policy.

Diplomatic relations between the countries will remain open, for
example. No additional restrictions on the types of goods that Americans
can take out of Cuba are planned.

But the administration says it will strictly enforce the rules that
allow travel between Cuba and the United States, and will prohibit
commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence
services.

Against that backdrop, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, has written a
letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary
Wilbur Ross to make them aware of the potential threat to the
partnership between Roswell Park and the Center for Molecular Immunology
in Cuba. Collins needs to inject himself into this matter, as well.

It's time to move forward in our relations with Cuba. That's the better
way of encouraging the country out of its repressive ways. But we
absolutely cannot go backward on developments in cancer treatment and
the possibility of giving years back to Americans suffering from lung
cancer.

Source: Editorial: Cancer patients stand to lose if Trump blocks Roswell
Park's work with Cuban institute - The Buffalo News -
http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/26/editorial-cancer-patients-stand-lose-trump-blocks-roswell-parks-work-cuban-institute/

Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy?

Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy?
The New York Times
By PETER BAKER

WASHINGTON — When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack
Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other
things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his
sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his
diplomatic opening to Cuba.

That was then. Five months after leaving office, Mr. Obama watches
mostly in silence as his successor takes a political sledgehammer to his
legacy. Brick by brick, President Trump is trying to tear down what Mr.
Obama built. The trade deal? Canceled. The climate pact? Forget it.
Cuba? Partially reversed. Health care? Unresolved, but to be repealed if
he can navigate congressional crosscurrents.

Every new president changes course, particularly those succeeding
someone from the other party. But rarely has a new president appeared so
determined not just to steer the country in a different direction but to
actively dismantle what was established before his arrival. Whether out
of personal animus, political calculation, philosophical disagreement or
a conviction that the last president damaged the country, Mr. Trump has
made clear that if it has Mr. Obama's name on it, he would just as soon
erase it from the national hard drive.

"I've reflected back and simply cannot find another instance in recent
American history where a new administration was so wholly committed to
reversing the accomplishments of its predecessor," Russell Riley, a
presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center,
said. While other presidents focus on what they will build, "this one is
different, far more comfortable still in swinging the wrecking ball than
in developing models for what is to follow."

Shirley Anne Warshaw, director of the Fielding Center for Presidential
Leadership Study at Gettysburg College, said Mr. Trump is not unusual in
making a clean break from his predecessor. "Trump isn't doing anything
that Obama didn't do," she said. "He is simply reversing policies that
were largely put in place by a president of a different party."

The difference, she said, is that other presidents have proactive ideas
about what to erect in place of their predecessor's programs. "I have
not seen any constructive bills in this vein that Trump has put forth,"
she said. "As far as I can tell, he has no independent legislative
agenda other than tearing down. Perhaps tax reform."

With a flourish, Mr. Trump has staged signing ceremonies meant to show
him tearing down. Not only did he pull out of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade deal and the Paris climate accord, he approved the
Keystone XL pipeline Mr. Obama had rejected and began reversing his
fuel-efficiency standards and power plant emissions limits. Not only is
he trying to repeal Obamacare, he has pledged to revoke regulations on
Wall Street adopted after the financial crash of 2008.

Still, he has not gone as far as threatened. He has for now kept Mr.
Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, however reluctantly, and while he
made a show of overturning Mr. Obama on Cuba, the fine print left much
of the policy intact. He did not rescind Mr. Obama's order sparing
younger illegal immigrants from deportation. Senate Republicans released
a new version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in recent
days, but it may yet end in impasse, leaving the program in place.

Advisers insist Mr. Trump is not driven by a desire to unravel the Obama
presidency. But like the Manhattan real estate developer he is, they
said, he believes he must in some cases demolish the old to make way for
the new.

"He hasn't dismantled everything, and I don't know that that's exactly
what he's looking to do," said Hope Hicks, the White House director of
strategic communications. "That may be a side effect of what he's
building for his own legacy. I don't think anybody's coming into the
office every day saying, 'How can we undo Obama's legacy, and how can he
go back?' "

Yet Mr. Trump has depicted the Obama legacy as a disastrous one that
needs unraveling. "To be honest, I inherited a mess," he said at a news
conference soon after taking office. "It's a mess. At home and abroad,
a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what's going on
with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other
places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas no matter where
you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea. We'll take care of
it, folks."

Critics say Mr. Obama brought this on himself. His biggest legislative
achievements were passed almost exclusively with Democratic votes,
meaning there was no bipartisan consensus that would outlast his
presidency. And when Republicans captured Congress, he turned to a
strategy he called the pen and the phone, signing executive orders that
could be easily erased by the next president.

"I've heard it joked about that the Obama library is being revised to
focus less on his legislative achievements as each week of the Trump
administration goes by," said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American
Conservative Union. "It's like living by the sword and dying by the
sword. When your presidency is based on a pen and a phone, all of that
can be undone, and I think we're seeing that happening rather
systematically."

Mr. Obama would argue he had little choice because of Republican
obstructionism. Either way, he has largely remained quiet through the
current demolition project, reasoning that speaking out would only give
Mr. Trump the public enemy he seems to crave. He made an exception on
Thursday, taking to Facebook to assail the new Senate health care bill
as "a massive transfer of wealth from middle class and poor families to
the richest people in America." But Mr. Obama's team takes solace in the
belief that Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy, better at bluster than
actually following through.

"Obama's legacy would be under much greater threat by a more competent
president than Donald Trump," said Josh Earnest, who served as Mr.
Obama's White House press secretary. "His inexperience and lack of
discipline are an impediment to his success in implementing policies
that would reverse what Obama instituted."

Other Obama veterans said much of what Mr. Trump has done was either
less dramatic than it appeared or reversible. He did not actually break
relations with Cuba, for instance. It will take years to actually
withdraw from the Paris accord, and the next president could rejoin. The
real impact, they argued, was to America's international reputation.

"There's a lot of posturing and, in fact, not a huge amount of change,
and to the extent there has been change, it's been of the self-defeating
variety," said Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.
"What's been happening is not that the administration is undoing
President Obama's legacy, it's undoing American leadership on the
international stage."

Mr. Trump, of course, is hardly the first president to scorn his
predecessor's tenure. George W. Bush was so intent on doing the opposite
of whatever Bill Clinton had done that his approach was called "ABC" —
Anything but Clinton. Mr. Obama spent years blaming his predecessor for
economic and national security setbacks — blame that supporters
considered justified and that Mr. Bush's team considered old-fashioned
buck passing.

For decades, presidents moving into the Oval Office have made a point on
their first day or two of signing orders overturning policies of the
last tenant, what Mr. Riley called "partisan kabuki" to signal that "a
new president is in town."

The most tangible example is an order signed by Ronald Reagan barring
taxpayer financing for international family planning organizations that
provide abortion counseling. Mr. Clinton rescinded it when he came into
office. Mr. Bush restored it, Mr. Obama overturned it again and Mr.
Trump restored it again.

Even so, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama invested much effort in
deconstructing programs left behind. Mr. Bush kept Mr. Clinton's health
care program for lower-income children, his revamped welfare system and
his AmeriCorps service organization. Mr. Obama undid much of Mr. Bush's
No Child Left Behind education program, but kept his Medicare
prescription medicine program, his AIDS-fighting program and most of his
counterterrorism apparatus.

That was in keeping with a longer tradition. Dwight D. Eisenhower did
not unravel Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, nor did Richard M. Nixon
dismantle Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Mr. Reagan promised to
eliminate the departments of Education and Energy, created by Jimmy
Carter, but ultimately did not.

Mr. Obama understood that his legacy might be jeopardized by Mr. Trump.
During last year's campaign, he warned supporters that "all the progress
we've made over these last eight years goes out the window" if Mr. Trump
won. Only after the election did he assert the opposite. "Maybe 15
percent of that gets rolled back, 20 percent," he told The New Yorker's
David Remnick. "But there's still a lot of stuff that sticks."

Indeed, when it comes time to tally the record for the history books,
Mr. Trump can hardly reverse some of Mr. Obama's most important
achievements, like pulling the economy back from the abyss of a deep
recession, rescuing the auto industry and authorizing the commando raid
that killed Osama bin Laden. Nor can Mr. Trump take away what will
surely be the first line in Mr. Obama's obituary, his barrier-shattering
election as the first African-American president.

Conversely, Mr. Obama owns his failures regardless of Mr. Trump's
actions. History's judgment of his handling of the civil war in Syria or
the messy aftermath of the intervention in Libya or the economic
inequality he left behind will not depend on his successor. If anything,
America's decision to replace Mr. Obama with someone as radically
different as Mr. Trump may be taken as evidence of Mr. Obama's inability
to build sustained public support for his agenda or to mitigate the
polarization of the country.

But legacies are funny things. Presidents are sometimes defined because
their successors are so different. Mr. Obama today is more popular than
he was during most of his presidency, likely a result of the contrast
with Mr. Trump, who is the most unpopular president this early in his
tenure in the history of polling. By this argument, even if Mr. Trump
does disassemble the Obama legacy, it may redound to his predecessor's
historical benefit.

Richard Norton Smith, who has directed the libraries of four Republican
presidents, said presidents are often credited with paving the way
toward goals that may elude them during their tenure. Harry S. Truman is
called the father of Medicare even though it was not achieved until
Johnson's presidency. Mr. Bush is remembered for pushing for immigration
reform even though Congress rebuffed him.

"It's hard to imagine future historians condemning Barack Obama for
breaking with his country's past ostracism of Cuba or joining the
civilized world in combating climate change or pursuing a more humane
and accessible approach to health care," Mr. Smith said. "Indeed, we
build memorials to presidents who prod us toward fulfilling the
egalitarian vision of Jefferson's declaration."

But that may not be all that comforting to Mr. Obama. Presidents prefer
memorials to their lasting accomplishments, not their most fleeting.

Source: Analysis: Can Trump Destroy Obama's Legacy? -
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/analysis-can-trump-destroy-obama%e2%80%99s-legacy/ar-BBD7mYr?li=BBnb7Kz

US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers

US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers
By Andrea Rodriguez and Michael Weissenstein | AP June 22

HAVANA — The U.S. and Cuba are still cooperating to intercept drug
smugglers even through the Trump administration has halted high-level
meetings on stopping the flow of narcotics through the Caribbean, a top
Cuban anti-drug official said Thursday.

The amount of drugs seized by Cuban authorities has tripled this year
over the same period in 2016, to 1.8 tons of narcotics, said Antonio
Israel Ibarra, the head of Cuba's National Commission on Drugs.

That number is tiny compared to drug seizures in neighboring countries,
but it represents a surge due largely to U.S.-Cuban cooperation on
halting shipments of marijuana through or near Cuban territorial waters,
Ibarra said.

Cuba maintains a pervasive state-security apparatus that has managed to
keep levels of drug smuggling and serious crime to some of the lowest in
Latin American and the Caribbean. U.S. officials say day-to-day
cooperation on halting U.S.-bound human trafficking and narcotics has
improved significantly since the re-establishment of diplomatic
relations in 2015, with the two nations' coast guards talking directly
to each other and cooperating in real time on a regular basis.

High-level meetings on law-enforcement cooperation have halted, however,
since President Donald Trump took office this year. On June 16, Trump
announced a new U.S. policy on Cuba that would prohibit most new
Americans transactions with Cuban military-linked businesses and
restrict U.S. travel to Cuba.

Ibarra said Cuba is still willing to continue high-level cooperation.

"We hope that for the sake of both countries they're not going to give
back the effective cooperation that Cuba can provide them," he said.
"They're certainly the ones that benefit most."

Cuba and the U.S. signed an anti-drug cooperation agreement last July
and have held four meetings to strengthen cooperation since then, Ibarra
said. The meeting meant to happen in the first half of 2017 in
Washington was cancelled by the Trump administration, he said.

___

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein

Source: US, Cuba still cooperating on stopping drug smugglers - The
Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/us-cuba-still-cooperating-on-stopping-drug-smugglers/2017/06/22/3605bdae-57ae-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html?utm_term=.b4434e57f587

GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL

GLITCH ON THOMAS COOK FLIGHT TO CUBA LEAVES AIRLINE WITH £500K BILL
Trip delayed 24 hours after Airbus A330 jet returned to Manchester with
oil pressure problem
SIMON CALDER TRAVEL CORRESPONDENT
@SimonCalder

Hundreds of Thomas Cook Airlines passengers have had their Cuban holiday
extended by more than 24 hours after an inflight mechanical incident
involving an Airbus A330. They will be paid £530 for the inconvenience
caused.

Flight MT2652 took off from Manchester with 332 passengers on board on
Monday afternoon, the destination Holguin in eastern Cuba. But as it was
flying over the Atlantic about 200 miles west of the Irish coast, the
pilots decided to return to the Thomas Cook base in Manchester because
of an oil pressure issue with the left-hand engine.

No emergency was declared, and the plane made a normal landing.

Unusually, the plane was missing a wingtip on the left-hand wing, which
caused some mistaken concern that part of the wing had fallen off. One
newspaper headline read: "Jet returns to UK for emergency landing with a
broken wing."

In fact, engineers had previously removed the wingtip - which is not an
essential component, but an aid to fuel efficiency - for repair.

Passengers were given overnight accommodation in the Manchester area,
and have continued their journey today on a different aircraft.

The 295 holidaymakers in Cuba who were expecting to fly back on Monday
were able to stay at their hotels, and will return just over 24 hours late.

Thomas Cook has confirmed that all the passengers at both ends of the
route will qualify for €600 (£530) in statutory EU compensation for the
delay. They should apply to contact customer relations to have their
claims processed. If they all claim, the compensation will total £335,000.

When the costs of hotel accommodation and the aborted flight are added,
the holiday firm's total bill for the episode will be around
half-a-million pounds.

Airbus A330 jets have encountered a series of problems in recent weeks,
with an AirAsia X plane returning to Perth after an engine issue which
left it "shaking like a washing machine", and a China Eastern aircraft
returning to Sydney after a large hole appeared in the engine housing.

The original Thomas Cook Airbus A330 has been repaired and inspected,
and is now back in service.

Source: Glitch on Thomas Cook flight to Cuba leaves airline with £500k
bill | The Independent -
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/thomas-cook-airlines-cuba-flight-airbus-a330-oil-pressure-wing-tip-manchester-airport-holguin-a7810226.html

Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy

Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy
BY MIKE GONZALEZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 06/27/17 11:00 AM EDT 54

Was President Obama's opening to the Castro government motivated by a
real belief that it would help Cubans, or was it a vanity project from
the start? We will never know for sure, but we do know it violated his
Inaugural promise that he would shake the hands of tyrants only if they
first unclenched their fists.

Raul Castro has never relaxed his grip on the island he and his brother
have ruled for nearly 60 years. In fact, after Obama announced the
re-establishment of relations with in December 2014, he tightened it.
Since then, Cuban dissidents have paid a heavy price in repression,
arrests and beatings.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation,
politically motivated arbitrary arrests rose rapidly after the opening,
culminating in 9,940 last year—a six-year high. In December alone, 14
dissidents were beaten by government officials, according to the
Havana-based Commission, whose numbers are reported by Amnesty
International.

President Obama argued that, by "normalizing" relations with Cuba, the
regime would be inspired to grant fundamental freedoms to its people.
Yet Obama asked for, and of course received, nothing in return from the
Cuban authorities.

President Trump put some of that right yesterday when he announced that
he would reverse some of the Obama changes and reinstate some
prohibitions on trade with military-controlled entities and persons on
the communist-ruled island.

Trump's changes don't go far enough. Still, his critics should resist
the urge to lash out at him.

Once upon a time, American liberals knew that legitimizing dictators
never ended well for those who dared speak their minds. That insight led
them to denounce Washington's support for dictators and call out the
moral hollowness in FDR's fatuous line that Anastasio Somoza Sr. may
have been an S.O.B., "but he's our S.O.B."

They should not be surprised today that the Washington establishment's
rush to embrace the Castro regime in pursuit increased trade would only
further entrench the family's hold on power. The Obama changes, which
facilitated American trade and transfer of convertible currency to the
military and the Castro family, only made easier the prospect of their
continued rule.

In other words, if you denounced the Somozas, Augusto Pinochet and
Ferdinand Marcos, and you want to be considered consistent, you should
support the changes Trump announced in Miami.

Those changes are, in fact, narrowly tailored to restrict the
aggrandizement of the regime's military. And they didn't come easy.

Two factions waged a tremendous struggle to win President Trump's heart
and mind on the issue. On one side were a phalanx of congressional
offices that sought to curb the Cuban military's access to convertible
currency. Opposing them were career officials burrowed inside the
Treasury and the State Departments, who wanted President Obama's
legacy—the "historic opening" to the Castros—to be left untouched.

Nor was Cuba an idle bystander in the debate. According to Marc Caputo
at Politico, the regime launched a last-minute bid to stave off the
changes, enlisting Colombia's help in lobbying Trump. The government of
President Juan Manuel Santos reportedly threatened to pull out of a
U.S.-led summit on security in Latin America.

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), told the White House to tell Colombia that
if it withdrew from the summit, it could kiss the $450 million "Peace
Colombia" aid package goodbye. And that was that.

In the end, the Trump Cuba change closely mirrored the 2015 Cuban
Military Transparency Act introduced by Rubio in the Senate and by Devin
Nunes, (R– Calif.), in the House. The bill prohibits U.S. persons and
companies "from engaging in financial transactions with or transfers of
funds to" the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, the
Ministry of the Interior, any of their subdivisions and companies and
other entities owned by them.

In other words, it aims directly at Cuba's largest company, the Grupo
Gaesa holding company (Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, Sociedad
Anonima). Founded by Raul Castro in the 1990s, Gaesa is run by the
military, more specifically, by Gen. Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Lopez-Callejas—who also happens to be Castro's son-in-law. It represents
an estimated 80 percent of the island nation's economy.

Its affiliate, Gaviota, SA., owns the tourism industry. If you eat ropa
vieja at a restaurant, sip a mojito in bar, play golf in a resort, or
sleep in a hotel—you are paying Gaviota. Same with renting a taxi or
renting a car. Thanks to Trump's changes, that cash flow will now be
interrupted.

Or Raul Castro can unclench his fist and allow real Cubans to own and
run these places, and we really have President Obama's dream, expressed
on a January 14, 2011 speech, of increasing "people-to-people contact;
support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to,
from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence
form the Cuban authorities."

Shouldn't liberals support this?

Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus) is a senior fellow in the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy
Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views
of The Hill.

Source: Why liberals should support Trump — not Obama — on Cuba policy |
TheHill -
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/339637-why-liberals-should-support-trump-not-obama-on-cuba

New Trump Rules on Cuba Travel Leaves Winners and Losers

New Trump Rules on Cuba Travel Leaves Winners and Losers
The Trump administration's new policy on travel by Americans to Cuba is
creating winners and losers.
June 27, 2017, at 11:01 a.m.
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ and BETH J. HARPAZ, Associated Press

President Donald Trump's new policy on travel to Cuba has winners and
losers: Group tour operators could sell more trips, but
bed-and-breakfast owners in Cuba say they're losing business.

Lodging owners say they started getting cancellations after Trump's June
16 announcement. Tony Lopez, who rents out an apartment in Havana's
trendy Vedado (vay-dah-doe) neighborhood, says the new policy is hurting
Cuban entrepreneurs.

Under the new rules, only licensed tour operators can take Americans to
Cuba on people-to-people trips. So some Americans who planned to go on
their own are canceling trips.

On the other hand, organized tour groups are now the only game in town
for people-to-people trips. One expert says tour companies should be
"opening Champagne" because the new rules could increase their business.

Source: New Trump Rules on Cuba Travel Leaves Winners and Losers |
Business News | US News -
https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2017-06-27/new-trump-rules-on-cuba-travel-leaves-winners-and-losers

Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba

Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at 5:17 PM

When we went to Cuba this winter, we flew from Miami on American
Airlines to join a group tour, see some performances, meet some Cubans,
stay at two very nice hotels and eat at a variety of restaurants.

Even though President Trump says he is imposing limitations on travel,
if we decided to do it again, we could.

We might need to substitute one restaurant or hotel for another, but the
kind of trip we took, the kind that accounted for the vast majority of
American tourists we ran into, will continue with only minor changes.

So what was this all about?

It was the president's sad attempt to do what he does best - increase
hostility.

You could join another march in protest. Better yet, you could schedule
a trip soon, meet some Cuban people and explain in person that we would
much rather get to know our neighbors than fight with them.

When President Obama re-established diplomatic relations — better known
as "normalization," as opposed to Trump's attempt at "abnormalization" —
he made it possible for the cautiously adventurous traveler, people like
us and a lot of others we know, to dip a toe into the Cuban experience.

A group tour of Cuba provides the same kind of comfort as a group tour
of France or China or anywhere else.

The operator makes sure you get where you are going, reserves the rooms,
arranges some of the meals and gives you a bit of free time to explore.

For all of the bluster about cracking down, those tours will not be
affected, and any need to swap one forbidden location for a new approved
one will be the responsibility of the tour organizer. We tourists will
not be affected.

Those who find such tours with their schedules and bus trips stifling
will still be able to do it on their own in Cuba, but it will take more
work.

As the initial explanations put it, they will be asked more questions
and have to "self-certify" that they did not stray.

I don't know about you, but I'm always ready to self-certify that I have
followed the rules.

If you go, no matter how, you will find that traveling in Cuba has
limitations because of some things that did not change under the Obama
approach and will not change now.

Our banks are not allowed to operate there, making your credit card
worthless. Our phones do not work there, and the Internet will remind
you of dial-up days.

A more open relationship between our two countries has not quickly
improved communications or human rights in Cuba.

That does not surprise me, because it's only been a few months, and
changes take years.

But it also does not surprise me, because anyone who travels widely will
learn that commerce and communication do not automatically bring more
freedom.

In the past few years, I've been able to freely use my phone, my laptop
and my ATM card in some countries around the world that are either near
or below Cuba on those lists ranking nations by how much freedom their
residents enjoy.

The difference when it comes to Cuba is the embargo, a failed 50-year
attempt to impose democracy.

Today, all it does is impose restrictions on American travelers.

thrkenhall@gmail.com

Source: Ken Hall: US travelers can still bring good will to Cuba -
http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170626/ken-hall-us-travelers-can-still-bring-good-will-to-cuba

Cuba should return its terrorists to US, terror victim's son says

Cuba should return its terrorists to US, terror victim's son says
By Eric Shawn Published June 26, 2017 Fox News

They sought safety on the shores of Cuba from American justice.

Now Joe Connor wants them back.

"Get these guys back, as a starting point for any further opening up of
Cuba," Connor insists.

An estimated 70 fugitives, including terrorists, murderers, bank robbers
and hijackers, sought refuge in Cuba and remain protected to this day by
the government. The notorious F.A.L.N. Puerto Rican terrorist group bomb
maker Willie Morales, and convicted New Jersey State Trooper killer
Joanne Chesimard, are among the most infamous who have enjoyed the
benefits of decades of Cuban protection and generosity.

Connor, whose father was killed in a New York City F.A.L.N. terrorist
bombing, says President Trump needs to add the return of the fugitives
to any new agreement with the President Raul Castro's regime.

Morales, whose hands were blown off when a bomb accidently exploded,
escaped from jail and found haven in Cuba in 1988. He is on the F.B.I.'s
Most Wanted List and charged with "Unlawful flight to avoid
prosecution/escape."

Joanne Chesimard, a member of the extremist Black Liberation Army, was
convicted of murder in 1977 and received political asylum in Cuba in
1984. She is also on the F.B.I's Most Wanted Terrorist List, wanted
for "act of terrorism, domestic terrorism and unlawful flight to avoid
confinement/murder."

Joe's father, Frank, was killed in the terrorist bombing of Fraunces
Tavern, the historic restaurant and museum in Lower Manhattan that
served as a headquarters for George Washington and where on December
4th,1783, he bid farewell to his troops. The attack, carried out by the
F.A.L.N., killed four people and wounded 44 on January 24, 1975. Frank
Connor was only 33 years old, Joe was 9. The attack was one of more than
100 bombings in the United States that the F.A.L.N. claimed
responsibility for during a wave of terror in the 1970s and 80s. Connor
has since dedicated his life to fighting for justice for his father and
other victims of terrorism.

When President Trump announced the rolling back of some of his
predecessor's Cuban policies on June 16th, he called on the Castro
regime to return the fugitives.

"To the Cuban government, I say, put an end to the abuse of dissidents,
release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open
yourselves to political and economic freedoms, return the fugitives from
American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard."

Connor says he is "encouraged" by the president naming Chesimard and
raising the issue, but says: "I wish he would mention Morales' name, he
is no less a terrorist than Chesimard."

When President Obama announced the new U.S. Cuban policy in 2014, and
restored diplomatic ties with the hardline Communist island nation, the
State Department said that it would "discuss" the issue of the fugitives
with the Castro government. But the status of the wanted criminals was
not made a part of the agreement, which Connor says is a glaring and
insulting oversight.

"It was a capitulation by the Obama administration, they didn't get
anything in return," Connor said. "As a matter of fact, they took Cuba
off the state sponsor of terror list, and that is one of the points I
think Mr. Trump needs to add Cuba back to the state sponsor of terror
list, because clearly they are sponsoring terrorists by having them in
their country and that would be a big economic hit to Cuba."

Connor said that he doesn't think officials in the Obama administration
"were trying to get them back, I don't think they had any intention of
getting them back. The only way to get people back is having leverage.
Obama gave away all of our leverage."

He said the U.S. now has leverage, and can correct the oversight that
has left several dozens of wanted criminals living without consequence,
just 90 miles from our shores.


Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV

Source: Cuba should return its terrorists to US, terror victim's son
says | Fox News -
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/06/26/cuba-should-return-its-terrorists-to-us-terror-victims-son-says.html

Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback

Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback
By Gay Nagle Myers / June 27, 2017

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) joined the chorus of
industry critics denouncing Trump's Cuba policy, saying that the
re-imposed restrictions could stall or reverse the progress made in
recent years.
The Trump administration has banned individual people-to-people travel
to Cuba, only allowing such visits with licensed groups.
"If restrictions are indeed reimposed, CHTA expects adverse effects for
U.S. businesses -- not only for import-export companies but also for the
U.S.-based travel businesses that have made considerable investments in
Cuba since normalization began -- and lost opportunities for those U.S.
companies considering doing business there," CHTA said in a statement.
CHTA pointed to the growth of the hospitality industry in Cuba, which
has outpaced the rest of the region. "Major global hotel chains from
outside the U.S. have been investing in Cuba and today manage tens of
thousands of rooms. As latecomers, U.S. firms already are at a
competitive disadvantage in Cuba."
CHTA continues to support the ending of the embargo and urged that new
regulations continue to encourage small and medium enterprise
opportunities, both Cuban and U.S.-sourced.

Source: Caribbean hotel association criticizes Cuba rollback: Travel
Weekly -
http://www.travelweekly.com/Caribbean-Travel/Caribbean-hotel-association-criticizes-Cuba-rollback

Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again Trying to Attend Mass

Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again Trying to
Attend Mass
by FRANCES MARTEL26 Jun 2017

Over thirty members of the Ladies in White, a peaceful Catholic
dissident group in Cuba, were violently arrested over the weekend for
attempting to attend Sunday Mass, including leader Berta Soler.
The Cuban government recently banned Soler from leaving the country
after the White House invited her to attend President Donald Trump's
speech announcing the repeal of Obama-era concessions to the communist
Castro regime. She was arrested eight times during President Obama's
short visit to the island in March 2016.

This weekend, the group had planned to attend the weekly Mass at their
local Havana church but, according to a Diario de Cuba note denouncing
the arrests, most were arrested on their way out of their homes. In
Soler's case, according to Lady in White Daisy Artiles, five uniformed
Cuban police officers apprehended her while leaving the house "holding a
sign demanding freedom for political prisoners."

"They took her sign away violently and dragged her into a car," Artiles
said. "Then a mob began to yell obscenities at us, calling us
'counterrevolutionaries,' 'maggots,' and shouting 'this street belongs
to Fidel.'" "Maggot" is a slur communists use for Cuban exiles.

This mob activity against peaceful pro-democracy dissidents is
state-mandated and so common that it has an official name in Cuba: actos
de repudio, or "acts of rejection." Actos de repudio may include
beatings, burnings of international human rights documents, stoning, and
tarring of dissidents, among other violent acts.

Diario de Cuba notes that reports from the island suggest that at least
fifteen Ladies in White in Havana did not get as far as Soler, being
arrested in their homes in Havana. Another fourteen women were arrested
throughout the country in Guantánamo, Bayamo, and eastern Santiago de Cuba.

The arrests follow the publication of a petition on behalf of the Ladies
in White group requesting that Pope Francis, who has a working
relationship with dictator Raúl Castro and has visited the island, to
intervene on their behalf to allow them to attend Mass. They note that
they have never interrupted a Mass nor has any Catholic clergymen
complained that their presence was disruptive to a service, but that
they have for several weeks been unable to attend Mass at the Santa Rita
church they call their spiritual home in Havana.

The Ladies in White are a group of mothers, daughters, sisters, and
wives of political prisoners. The group was founded following the "Black
Spring" of 2003, when the Castro regime arrested dozens of journalists
and anti-communist activists to prevent them spreading pro-freedom
sentiments. Some of these political prisoners have been freed and now
form part of the greater Ladies in White community.

The Ladies in White protest the government in the same way every Sunday,
by dressing in white and silently carrying gladiolas and a photo of
their imprisoned loved ones from their homes to Santa Rita church, where
they attend Mass. The group has only missed two Sundays since 2003
for the government's mandatory mourning period for late dictator Fidel
Castro.

The Cuban government regularly uses violence and actos de repudio to
attempt to silence the group. Government violence against the Ladies in
White has grown worse since President Obama announced concessions to
the Castro regime in late 2014, leading to protests against Obama
himself. In one incident in 2015, ninety Ladies in White and supporters
were arrested wearing Obama masks protesting his policies towards Cuba.

The Ladies in White's opposition to President Obama made his visit to
Cuba particularly taxing for them. Berta Soler, their leader, was
arrested eight times during his visit.

Raúl Castro's dictatorship has become increasingly repressive against
religious Cubans since the policies the Ladies in White protested took
effect. Among them is the unaffiliated dissident Daniel Llorente, who
was arrested on May 1–International Workers' Day–for interrupting the
government's Marxist rally by waving an American flag. Llorente was
beaten publicly and whisked away to a mental institution for, according
to his son, "believing in God."

This week, Llorente sent a letter to the Trump administration through
his son requesting political asylum in "the world's greatest defender of
human rights, hope, liberty, justice, brotherhood, and the pursuit of
happiness, the United States." Llorente has begun a hunger strike
demanding his release, noting that there is no medical evidence that he
is suffering from mental illness and instead is being kept in a mental
hospital to prevent international human rights organizations from being
able to formally brand him a prisoner of conscience.

The hospital in question, known by Cubans as "Mazorra," is known for
using "electroshock therapy" on patients that has been widely rejected
by international mental health experts.

Source: Violent Weekend in Cuba: 30 Ladies in White Arrested Again
Trying to Attend Mass -
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/06/26/violent-weekend-in-cuba-30-ladies-in-white-arrested-for-trying-to-go-to-church/

Monday, June 26, 2017

We Exist Between Illusions And Fears

"We Exist Between Illusions And Fears"

14ymedio, Mario Penton, David (Panama), 23 June 2017 — The green seems
to fill everything in Chiriquí, in the western Panamanian province where
the government hosts 126 undocumented Cubans in a camp in the region of
Gualaca. The stillness of the morning in the middle of the huge pines
that grow in the foothills of the mountains is only interrupted by the
bites of insects, a true torture at dawn and dusk.

"This place is beautiful, but everything gets tiring, being in limbo is
exhausting," says Yosvani López, a 30-year-old Cuban who arrived in
Gualaca in April after spending three months in the hostel set up by
Caritas for Cuban migrants in Panama City.

"Sometimes we sit down and talk about what we would do if we could get
out of here and get to another country. Some relatives tell us that they
are preparing a camp in Canada to welcome us, others tell us that they
have everything prepared to deport us. Illusions and fears," he laments.

The camp that houses the Cubans was built by the Swiss brigades which,
in the 1970's, built the La Fortuna dam. It is 104 acres, occupied
mostly by forests and a stream. One hour from the nearest city, the
humidity is such that mushrooms and plants establish themselves even in
the fibrocement roof tiles.

Along with the wooden buildings, deteriorated by the passage of time,
there are still satellite antennas, electric heaters and, according to
the migrants, from time to time they find foreign currencies buried in
the vacant land.

López was born in Caibarién, a city on the north coast of Cuba. Although
he had the opportunity to emigrate using a speed boat to cross the
Florida Straits, he preferred the jungle route to avoid the seven years
moratorium on being able to return to Cuba that the government imposes
on those who leave Cuba illegally.

"I wanted to go back before 7 years was up. I have my mother and my
sisters in Cuba," he explains.

He worked as a chef specializing in seafood at the Meliá hotel in the
cays north of Villa Clara, earning the equivalent of $25 US a
month. With the money from the sale of his mother's house he traveled
via Guyana and in Panama he was taken by surprise by the end of the wet
foot/dry foot policy that allowed Cubans who reached American soil to stay.

"Here we pass the hours between chats with our relatives in Cuba and the
United States, and searching the news for clues that will tell us what
is going to happen to us," he says.

The migrants in Gualaca not only do not have permission to work, but
they can only leave the camp one day a week to go to Western Union, with
prior notice and accompanied by presidential police officers, who are
guarding the site.

Some, however, have improvised coffee sales and even a barbershop. The
locals also set up a small shop to supply the undocumented immigrants
with the personal care products and treats, which they pay for with
remittances sent by relatives from the United States.

The authorities gave themselves 90 days to decide what they would do
with the 126 Cubans who accepted the proposal to go to Gualaca. Two
months later, the patience of the migrants is beginning to wear thin. At
least six escapes have been reported since they were moved there. The
last one, on Monday, was led by four Cubans, two of whom have already
returned to the camp while two crossed the border into Costa Rica.

Since dawn, Alejandro Larrinaga, 13, and his parents have been waiting
for some news about their fate. Surrounded by adults, Alejandro has only
one other child to play in the hostel, Christian Estrada, 11. Neither
has attended school for a year and a half, when they left Havana.

Alejandro spent more than 50 days in the jungle and, as a result of
severe dehydration, he suffered epilepsy and convulsed several
times. "It was difficult to go through it. It's not easy to explain: it
is one thing to tell it and another to live it," he says with an
intonation that makes him seem much more adult.

"We had to see dead people, lots of skulls. I was afraid of losing my
mom and dad," he recalls. But, although tears appear in the eyes of his
mother while he recalls those moments, now he says he feels safe in
Gualaca and spends his days playing chess.

"I want to be a chess master, which is more than a champion. Someday I
will achieve it," he says.

His mother, Addis Torres, does not want to return to the Island where
she has nothing left because she sold their few belongings to be able to
reunite with Alejandro's grandfather, who lives in the United
States. Although they have a process of family reunification pending at
the US Embassy in Havana, the family does not want to hear about
returning to Cuba.

They eat three times a day and even have a health program financed by
the Panamanian government, but for Torres "that's not life."

"Detained, without a future, afraid to return to Cuba. We need someone
to feel sorry for us and, in the worst case, to let us stay here," she says.

Liuber Pérez Expósito is a guajiro from Velasco, a town in Holguín where
he grew garlic and corn. After the legalization of self-employment by
the Cuban government, Pérez began to engage in trade and intended to
improve things by going to the US.

In Gualaca he feels "desperate" to return to his homeland, but he has
faith that, at least, he will get the help promised by the Panamanian
Deputy Minister of Security, and leave a door open to engage in trade.

"I am here against what my family's thinking. There (in Cuba) I have my
wife, my nine-year-old son and my parents, they want me to come back and
pressure me but I am waiting for the opportunity to at least recover
some of the 5,000 dollars I spent," he says.

His mother-in-law, an ophthalmologist who worked in Venezuela, lent him
part of the money for the trip. Indebted, without money and without
hope, he only thinks of the moment he can return.

"During the day we have nothing to do. Sometimes we play a little
dominoes, we walk or we go to the stream, but we have 24 hours to think
about how difficult this situation is and the failure we are
experiencing," he says.

Liuber communicates with his family through Imo, a popular videochat
application for smartphones. "They recently installed Wi-Fi in Velasco
and they call me whenever they can," he adds.

"Hopefully, this nightmare we are living will end soon. Whatever
happens, just let it end," he says bitterly.

——

This article is a part of the series "A New Era in Cuban Migration"
produced by this newspaper, 14ymedio, el Nuevo Herald and Radio
Ambulante under the auspices of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Source: "We Exist Between Illusions And Fears" – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/we-exist-between-illusions-and-fears/

The Lethargy Of A Coastal Town In Camagüey

The Lethargy Of A Coastal Town In Camagüey

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Florida, Cuba, 26 June 2017 — "The sea water
cleans everything," Agustin reflects as he calls out his
merchandise. This 74-year-old forensic assistant now works renting
inflatable boats for the fishermen of Playa Florida, in Camagüey, a
coastal strip where tourists rarely come and the economic crisis is
strongly felt.

"I came here to escape the odor of death, and I did," jokes the worker,
one of the few residents in the unpopulated streets on Friday. On every
side many of the few houses that do not seem vacant exhibit a "for sale"
sign. "All of Playa Florida is for sale but no one wants to buy it," a
resident jokes.

Lacking the natural beauty of the north coast, with no functioning
industries and no important crops, the area is experiencing times of
hardship that have worsened in recent years. On the entrance road, a
rusted out anchor gives visitors a preview of the lethargy they will
find here.

Only 24 miles separate the fishermen's village from the municipal
center, but it takes between four and six hours to cover the route due
to the poor state of the road and the lack of public transport. On both
sides of the road, the invasive marabou weed rises defiantly.

Lack communication characterizes the village. Nowhere among its crowded
streets has a public telephone been installed and cell phones only
manage to pick up a signal near the medical clinic, due to the poor
coverage of the area.

The lack of mobility also sinks the area's small businesses. The private
restaurant Comida Criollo barely survives after being opened five
years. Alfredo, the paladar's chef, says that "from time to time a
foreign tourist arrives." People who "explore every corner with a map in
hand," but they are fewer and fewer.

Of the 4 million visitors who arrived in Cuba last year, only a few
dozen came to this coast without white sands or crystal clear water,
where to take a dip the bather must wear shoes to avoid the mud, stones
and mangrove roots.

"Without tourists there is no money," Bururu, an informal realtor,
tells 14ymedio. The high number of homes for sale has caused a collapse
of prices in the area. "A two-room house with a covered porch, cistern
and garden can cost less than 1,000 CUC (roughly $1,000 US)," he says.

"They put a jacuzzi in the bathroom and all the furniture inside is from
the mall," says Bururú while pointing to a newly painted building. The
dealer takes his time to describe the characteristics of each house,
hoping to make at least one sale.

"People do not want to stay because there is nothing to do here," he
explains to the 14ymedio. The man blames the stampede on the fact that
"there are no recreational options and also nowhere to work". "[The
fishing] is not as good as in other places, so it gives you something to
eat but not enough to make a living," he emphasizes.

Near the coastline, a fisherman removes the scales from a sea bass he
caught that morning. "I promised it to a family that wants to celebrate
the birthday of their youngest son," he tells a woman who inquires about
the price of fish.

"The fishing is very affected since they built the embankment," says the
fisherman. "This area used to get a lot of oysters, but that has
decreased a lot," he adds.

The narrow and rugged access road divides the wetland in two and it has
lost a part of the mangroves in its southern area. "Experts came here to
research it and said that cutting the flow of water had increased the
salinity and that is killing the mangroves."

In 2009 the United Nations Small Grants Program provided more than
$40,000 in funding for ecosystem recovery, but eight years later the
damage has hardly been reversed. "The sea water has entered the river
Mala Fama inland," says the fisherman.

The coast has also been affected by rising sea levels, to the extent
that rumors of relocating the village have increased in recent
years. Wooden palisades are trying to slow down the push of the waves
during hurricanes, but they seem like ridiculous chopsticks in the face
of the immensity of the Caribbean.

The picture of deterioration is completed by the Argentina Campsite.
where for months there has been neither electricity nor water. Julia,
the guard who watches the entrance of the abandoned place, is
categorical. "Here in Florida Beach, the only thing that is abundant is
gnats and mosquitoes."

Source: The Lethargy Of A Coastal Town In Camagüey – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-lethargy-of-a-coastal-town-in-camaguey/

From Joystick to Canon

From Joystick to Canon / Regina Coyula

From Regina Coyula's blog, 9 June 2017 (Ed. note: These interview
fragments are being translated out of order by TranslatingCuba.com
volunteers. When they are all done we will assemble them in order into
one post.)

The country was falling to pieces, there were people drowning in the sea
and on land, there was something called the Diaspora, but we bourgeois
teenagers of Havana's Vedado neighborhood knew nothing. Our lives
revolved around a company and Japanese console. In my SuperNintendo
years, Miguel was already a legend. Coyula was a gamer before gaming.
His name passed like a password between initials. You don't know how to
kill a boss on one of the levels of the game? Ask Coyula. You don't know
how to activate this or that power? Go see Coyula.

We were playing Street Fighter II Turbo and Coyula already had Super
Street Fighter II. We went to see him so he could show us the four new
fighters and the recent versions of others. I remember that he revealed
on the screen the improved attacks of Vega, the Spanish ninja that was
my favorite fighther. Afterwards he started to clarify for us some
technical doubts about The Lion King. And I remember that, while he was
leading Simba over some cliffs, I looked at his hyperconcentrated face
and had a revelation, "This guy is alienated, bordering on autism, he's
going to melt, he probably does nothing else in his life," I said to
myself. "I have to give up video games, because if I don't, I'll end up
like Coyula."

Unfortunately, I quit videogames. Then time passed and I saw [Coyula's]
movie Memories of Overdevelopment. I saw it, by the way, before I saw
Memories of Underdevelopment, which now seems to me like a regular
prequel and a little drawn out. Sergio, the protagonist of Memories of
Overdevelopment, ends up in a desert landscape that looks like another
planet. He's carrying a Barbie doll and his brother's ashes, which are
the ashes of the Mariel boatlift and, after that, of the Revolution. To
summarize. In 2010, Miguel Coyula scattered the ashes of Cuba in the
desert in Utah; he dispersed these ashes in a psychotronic dust, between
mutant and Martian. Seven years later, there are many people who still
haven't noticed.

I like that there is a guy like him in Cuban cinema.

Source: From Joystick to Canon / Regina Coyula – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/from-joystick-to-canon-regina-coyula/

The Hijacking Of Social Networks

The Hijacking Of Social Networks

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 25 June 2017 – More than five years ago
social networks were roiled by the Arab Spring, while the screens of
their mobile phones lit up the faces of the young protesters. In those
years Twitter was seen as a road to freedom, but shortly afterwards the
repressors also learned how to publish in 140 characters.

With a certain initial suspicion, and later with much opportunism, the
populists have found in the internet a space to spread their promises
and capture adherents. They use the incredible loudspeaker of the
virtual world to set the snares of their demagoguery, with which they
trap thousands of internet users.

The tools that once gave voice to the citizens have been transformed
into a channel for the authoritarians to enthrone their discourses. They
assimilated that, in these post-truth times, a tweet repeated ad nauseam
is more effective than billboards along the side of the road or paying
for advertising space.

Totalitarian regimes have gone on the offensive on the web. It took them
some time to realize that they could use the same networks as their
opponents, but now they launch the information police against their
critics. And they do it with the same methodical precision with which
for years they have surveilled dissidents and controlled the civil
society of their nations.

Totalitarian regimes assimilated that, in these post-truth times, a
tweet repeated ad nauseam is more effective than billboards along the
side of the road

From the hacking of digital sites to the creation of false user
profiles, the anti-democratic governments are trying everything to help
them impose frameworks of opinion favorable to their management. They
count on the irresponsible naivety with which content is often shared in
cyberspace as a factor that works in their favor.

One of these radical about faces has been made by Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the 2013 protests, when he was prime
minister, he wanted to enact several laws to restrict the use of
Facebook and Twitter. He described the network of the little blue bird
as "a permanent source of problems" and "a threat to society."

However, during last year's coup attempt in Turkey, Erdogan relied on
these tools to summon people to the squares and to report on his
personal situation. Since then he has dedicated himself to expanding his
power through tweets, reaffirming in the virtual world the dictatorial
drift of his regime.

Last March, Twitter administrators had to admit that several of their
accounts, some linked to institutions, organizations and personalities
around the world, had been hacked with messages of support for
Erdogan. The sultan urged his cyberhosts to make it clear that, even on
the internet, he is not playing games.

In Latin America several cases reinforce the process of appropriation
that authoritarianism has been making with the new technologies. Nicolás
Maduro has opened on Twitter one of the many fronts of a battle through
which he intends to stay in power and to quell the popular riots that
erupted since the beginning of April.

Venezuelans not only must deal with economic instability and the
violence of the police forces, but for many the internet has become a
hostile territory where the chavistas shout and threaten with total
impunity. They distort events, turn victimizers into victims and impose
their own labels as they launch the blows.

The Miraflores Palace responds to images of protesters killed by the
Bolivarian National Guard with hoaxes about an alleged international
conspiracy to destroy chavismo. The social networks have taken up
against the general prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, where Maduro's
supporters have branded her, at the very least, as a crazy person.

With so many attempts to manipulate trends and adulterate states of
opinion on the web, Venezuelan officialdom has ended up getting caught
with its fingers in the door. Recently, more than 180 Twitter accounts,
which repeated government slogans like ventriloquists, were
cancelled. The penalty could be extended to the accounts of other
minions linked to government institutions and media.

Venezuelan Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas defined this
suspension of accounts as an "ethnic cleansing" operation and Maduro
threatened microblogging network administrators with a phrase fraught
with outdated triumphalism: "If they close 1,000 accounts, we are going
open 1,000 more."

With his well-known verbal incontinence, Hugo Chavez's successor was
revealing the internet strategy that his regime has followed in recent
years. That of planting users who confuse, lie and, above
all, misrepresent what is happening in the country. A strategy taught to
them by a close ally.

In Cuba, the soldiers of cyberspace have long experience in shooting
down the reputations of digital opponents, blocking critical sites and
unleashing the trolls to flood the comment areas of any posting that is
especially annoying to them. But the main weapon is to limit internet
access to their most reliable followers, and to maintain prohibitive
prices for the majority.

"We have to tame the wild colt of new technologies," said Ramiro Valdés,
one of the Revolution's historical commanders, when the first
independent blogs and Twitter accounts managed by opponents began to
surface.

Since then there has been a lot of water under the bridge and the Castro
regime has launched an effort to conquer those spaces with the same
intensity that it brings to its rants in international
organizations. Its objective is to recover the space that it lost when
it was suspicious of adopting new technologies. Its goal: to silence
dissident voices with its hullabaloo.

Even in the most long-standing democracies, technologies are being
hijacked to inflict deadly blows on institutions.

In the White House, a man puts his country and the world at the edge of
the abyss with every tweet he writes. Every night that Donald Trump goes
to bed without publishing on that social network, millions of human
beings breathe a sigh of relief. He has found in 140 characters a
parallel way of governing, one with no limitations.

These are not the times of that liberating network that linked
dissidents and served as the infrastructure for citizen rebellion. We
are living in times when populism and authoritarianism have understood
that new technologies can be converted into an instrument of control.
_______________

Editorial Note: This text has been previously published by the Spanish
newspaper El País in its edition of Saturday, 24 June 2017.

Source: The Hijacking Of Social Networks – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-hijacking-of-social-networks/

Alabama wondering what about Cuba trade in Trump era

Alabama wondering what about Cuba trade in Trump era
BY MARY SELL
Decatur Daily

MONTGOMERY, ALA.
Agriculture officials and industry leaders in Alabama for years have
lobbied for expanded exports to communist Cuba, a country they see as a
promising market for this state's poultry products.

Now they're waiting to see what President Donald Trump's recent, more
restrictive policy change with Cuba will mean for the millions of tons
of poultry that leave Mobile for the island nation every month.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan last week said exports to
Cuba could be impacted by that country's response to the president's
directive.

"Particularly, with Raul Castro stepping down in early '18," McMillan
said. "We're going to be anxious to see what the Cuban government's
policy is going to be.

". If something undesirable happens there, that would be on the Cuba
side," he said. "We hope that doesn't happen."

Earlier this month, Trump said the United States would impose new limits
on U.S. travelers to the island and ban any payments to the
military-linked conglomerate that controls much of the island's tourism
industry, The Associated Press reported. Trump also declared that: "The
harboring of criminals and fugitives will end. You have no choice. It
will end."

He said the United States would consider lifting those and other
restrictions only after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of
other internal changes, including freeing political prisoners, allowing
freedom of assembly and holding free elections.

Cuba's foreign minister later rejected the policy change, saying "we
will never negotiate under pressure or under threat" and would refuse
the return of U.S. fugitives who have received asylum in Cuba.

About 7 million tons of poultry are shipped from the Port of Mobile each
month to Cuba. But Cuba has other options for importing agriculture
products, McMillan said, including Mexico, South America and Canada.

"They have choices. Some of those choices may be more expensive. That
may be our advantage," said McMillan, who has taken multiple trips to
Cuba and advocated for expanded agriculture exports.

There are human rights violations in China, but no one is cuttings off
trade there, McMillan said. "The bottom line, I think, is that the best
way to foment change down there is to continue trade with them."

Armando de Quesada, of Hartselle, disagrees. He was 10 when he fled Cuba
in 1962. On this issue, he agrees with Trump.

"Any dollars that go to Cuba automatically go to the Castro regime," de
Quesada said. "It's not like here . over there, the government owns
everything. There's no benefit to the Cuban people."

Growth of private industry is limited, and de Quesada doesn't think
opening relations between the two countries will effect change.

"I don't think enriching them helps the cause of freedom," he said. "It
doesn't help the people."

Agriculture shipments to Cuba weren't part of former President Barack
Obama's policy with the communist country. In 2000, Congress began
allowing a limited amount of agriculture exports to Cuba.

"We've been trading with them for some time," said Johnny Adams,
executive director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association. While
Obama made it easier, it's still cumbersome.

"We're not allowed to give them credit. They have to pay us up front
through a third party," Adams said. "Normalizing trade would make it a
lot easier."

Like McMillan, Adams has been to Cuba multiple times.

"We have the highest quality, most reasonably priced poultry in the
world, and we're 90 miles away," Adams said.

"Hopefully, everyone can sit down and work things out between the two
countries. We've enjoyed our relationship with the Cuban people and
would like to see it get better."

Source: Alabama wondering what about Cuba trade in Trump era | News &
Observer - http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article158213579.html

No one signs the 'Cuban Youth’s Statement'

No one signs the 'Cuban Youth's Statement'
PEDRO CAMPOS | La Habana | 26 de Junio de 2017 - 11:43 CEST.

The official newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde recently published
the Cuban Youth's Statement in response to the recent speech by US
president Donald Trump and his announcement of a change in his country's
policy towards Cuba.

I shall not dwell on what was announced or its arguments. Rather, I want
to draw my readers' attention to the impersonal nature of the Statement.
No one and no thing - no person, and no organization - signed it. In
this it resembles statements issued by the "Revolutionary Government,"
in that no one knows who signs, or represents, or chooses them.

This type of document is one of the instruments traditionally wielded by
Fidel and Raúl Castro to draw the political line that all the
institutions of the "Revolution" must toe: the Communist Party of Cuba
(PCC), the Union of Young Communists (UJC), student organizations and
those of intellectuals, etc.

The absences of any names responsible for what was expressed, this
"impersonalization," manifests a total lack of respect for the very
institutions created during the revolutionary process, its designated
leaders, and, particularly, the people of Cuba, who were not consulted
at all. In this case it is an act of disrespect towards all of Cuba's
youth, which is comprised of more than those who actively participate,
whether voluntarily or obligatorily, in the organizations subordinated
to the PCC.

It is well known that such policies are often handed down from the very
top, but are not even supported by the small cadre of leaders chosen by
the elite, and that such announcements, when issued by subordinate
bodies, are not always well received by the "revolutionary leadership."
Thus, this is one way to solve this problem.

In fact, these statements are part of the kind of manipulations to which
we have become accustomed from the Cuban government.

It really should be ascertained how many young people would be willing
to sign this or any other statement made in their name, without any
pressure. It is also a way of hiding the true levels of support the
Party-State-Government enjoys.

On the first page of Juventud Rebelde, an extension of the UJC, there
appears another similar document entitled the Statement by the
Federation of High School Students, again signed by no one, including
its National Bureau.

This is part of el fidelismo's traditional tendency of speaking on
behalf of Cuba, of the Cuban people, and of Cuba's youth, one it has
always fomented in an effort to give the impression that the
leadership's political stances enjoy broad popular support.

However, even the slightest analysis of the statements reveals that they
were not approved by the leaders of the organizations in question. There
appear no signatures or names of the leaders of the UJC, the University
Student Federation (FEU), the High School Students' Federation (FEEM);
that is, the youth organizations of the PCC. They simply do not even
count on them anymore.

Those in charge of state socialism, who carry in their DNA the
information for their own self-destruction, do not know, or refuse to
recognize, that this process of hypercentralization, taken to an
extreme, is a sign of its impending doom.

The greater the centralization, the less democracy, and less popular
support for the system. And this is true in proportion to the economic
and political power concentrated in an elite that increasingly distances
itself from the people, thereby, unknowingly, digging its own grave.

Source: No one signs the 'Cuban Youth's Statement' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498470203_32129.html

Analista: 'Las nuevas disposiciones de Trump podrían reducir las remesas a más de un millón de cubanos'

Analista: 'Las nuevas disposiciones de Trump podrían reducir las remesas
a más de un millón de cubanos'
DDC | Miami | 26 de Junio de 2017 - 14:45 CEST.

Para William LeoGrande, profesor de la American University especializado
en las relaciones entre Cuba y EEUU, todo parece indicar que la nueva
política del presidente Donald Trump tiene una "cláusula venenosa". Las
nuevas disposiciones podrían reducir las remesas a más de un millón de
cubanos, según declaraciones que recoge El Nuevo Herald.

Según el memorando que Trump firmó en Miami el pasado 16 de junio los
cambios normativos no deben prohibir "el envío, procesamiento y
recepción de remesas autorizadas", el dinero que se envía desde Estados
Unidos a familiares y amigos en la Isla.

Sin embargo, amplía sustancialmente la definición de a quién no se puede
enviar dinero.

La nueva norma incluye no solamente a los ministros, viceministros y
miembros de los consejos de Estado y de Ministros, sino también a
miembros y empleados de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, miembros
de las asambleas provinciales, directivos locales de los Comités de
Defensa dela Revolución, directores generales, subdirectores y altos
funcionarios de todos los ministerios y entidades estatales cubanas,
empleados del Ministerio del Interior y del Ministerio de las Fuerzas
Armadas, y empleados del Tribunal Supremo Popular.

La regulación también incluye a secretarios y primeros secretarios de la
Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, y altos directivos de los principales
medios de comunicación.

Esta categoría tan amplia tiene el potencial de incluir a una cuarta
parte de la fuerza laboral cubana, señaló LeoGrande. "Esto significa una
prohibición de recibir remesas a millones de personas que trabajan para
los militares y GAESA", dijo.

El estatal Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA) es un
conglomerado militar cubano que controla una amplia parte de economía
cubana, incluido el Grupo de Turismo Gaviota.

Una de las piedras angulares de la nueva política de Trump hacia La
Habana es canalizar el dinero y las actividades comerciales
norteamericanas para alejarlos de GAESA, y en su lugar alentar a los
estadounidenses y sus empresas a desarrollar vínculos económicos con
pequeños empresarios cubanos, recordó el medio miamenses.

"Pero ampliar la prohibición de quiénes pueden recibir remesas tiene el
potencial de afectar a muchas familias cubanas, las mismas que Trump ha
dicho que quiere apoyar con su nueva política", dijo LeoGrande.

Muchos cubanos dependen del dinero que reciben de familiares y amigos en
otros países porque los salarios que reciben son muy bajos (unos 27
dólares al mes de media). Se calcula que a la Isla se envían anualmente
3.000 millones de dólares en remesas.

Hasta que no se redacten las nuevas normas establecidas por el
presidente estadounidense, no se podrá definir quiénes son los empleados
del Ministerio de las FAR.

Todos los varones cubanos deben pasar por el servicio militar
obligatorio. "¿Significa esto que un soldado en servicio activo es un
empleado del Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas y no puede recibir
remesas?", preguntó Robert Muse, abogado de Washington.

"Hay que esperar a una definición más precisa de lo que eso significa",
añadió.

Tampoco se sabe si una persona que sea oficinista o empleado de bajo
nivel de una empresa de GAESA se considera empleado del MINFAR.

"Tratar de dejar en claro esas definiciones puede convertirse
potencialmente en un dolor de cabeza para las compañías de envío de
remesas", dijo Muse.

Para Western Union los cambios no tienen por fin afectar el envío de
remesas autorizadas a Cuba.

La compañía ofrece servicios de transferencia de dinero a Cuba desde
EEUU desde 1999. Recientemente comenzó a manejar las remesas de otras
partes del mundo hacia la Isla.

Por su parte, LeoGrande insistió en que "quedan muchas cosas por
aclarar", porque "el memorando es muy ambiguo".

Los observadores de la situación también señalan una parte del memorando
que instruye al Departamento de Estado a identificar a las "entidades o
subentidades" controladas o que funcionan a nombre de "servicios o
personal militar, de inteligencia o de los servicios de seguridad"
cubanos, y publicar una lista de personas que se beneficiarían de
"transacciones financieras directas a costa del pueblo cubano o los
emprendimientos privados en Cuba".

Algunos analistas se han centrado en la palabra "directa" expuesta en el
memorando firmado por Trump. El Nuevo Herald recordó que directivas
anteriores de la Oficina de Control de Activos Extranjeros (OFAC),
entidad del Departamento del Tesoro, por lo general se refieren a
transacciones financieras "directas e indirectas".

Source: Analista: 'Las nuevas disposiciones de Trump podrían reducir las
remesas a más de un millón de cubanos' | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1498481151_32139.html

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches

Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches / Iván García

Iván García, 19 June 2017 — For both countries it amounts to a remake of
the Cold War, this time in version 2.0. It will take time to determine
the scope of the contest or if the new diplomatic battle will involve
only bluffs, idle threats and blank bullets.

With an unpredictable buffoon like Donald Trump and a conspiratorial
autocrat like Raul Castro, anything could happen.

The dispute between Cuba and the United States is like an old love
story, one peppered with resentments, disagreements and open admiration
for the latter's opportunities and consumerist lifestyle.

Beginning in January 1959, the dispute between Havana and Washington
took on an ideological tone when a bearded Fidel Castro opted for
communism right under Uncle Sam's nose. The country allied itself with
the former Soviet Union and had the political audacity to confiscate the
properties of U.S. companies and to aim nuclear weapons at Miami and New
York.

Successive American administrations, from Eisenhower to George Bush Jr.,
responded with an embargo, international isolation and subversion in an
attempt to overthrow the Castro dictatorship.

Times changed but objectives remained the same. Castro's Cuba, ruled by
a totalitarian regime which does not respect human rights and represses
those who think differently, is not the kind of partner with which the
White House likes to do business.

But the art of politics allows for double standards. For various
reasons, Persian Gulf monarchies and Asian countries such as China and
Vietnam — countries which have leap-frogged over democracy like Olympic
athletes and are also heavy-handed in their use of power — are allies of
the United States or have been granted most favored nation status by the
U.S. Congress.

To the United States, Cuba — a capricious and arrogant dictatorship
inflicting harm on universally held values — is different. Washington is
correct in theory but not in its solution.

Fifty-five years of diplomatic, economic and financial warfare combined
with a more or less subtle form of subversion, support for dissidents,
the free flow of information, private businesses and an internet free of
censorship have not produced results.

The communist regime is still in place. What to do? Remain politically
blind and declare war on an impoverished neighbor or to try to coexist
peacefully?

Washington's biggest problem is that there is no effective mechanism for
overturning dictatorial or hostile governments by remote control. The
White House repeatedly shoots itself in the foot.

The embargo is more effective as a publicity tool for the Castro regime
than it is for the United States. This is because the military junta,
which controls 90% of the island's economy, can still trade with the
rest of the world.

The very global nature of modern economies limits the effectiveness of a
total embargo. In the case of Cuba, the embargo has more holes in it
than a block of Swiss cheese. Hard currency stores on the island sell
"Made in the USA" household appliances, American cigarettes and the
ubiquitous Coca Cola.

There are those who have advocated taking a hard line when it comes to
the Cuban regime. In practice, their theories have not proved effective,
though they would argue that Obama's approach has not worked either.

They have a point. The nature of a dictatorship is such that it is not
going to collapse when faced with a Trojan Horse. But as its leaders
start to panic, doubts begin to set in among party officials as support
grows among a large segment of the population. And what is most
important for American interests is to win further approval from the
international community for its geopolitical management.

Obama's speech in Havana, in which he spoke of democratic values while
directly addressing a group of wrinkled Caribbean strongmen, was more
effective than a neutron bomb.

There are many Cubans who recognize that the root of their problems —
from a disastrous economy to socialized poverty, daily shortages and a
future without hope — lies in the Palace of the Revolution.

Hitting the dictatorship in its pocketbook has not worked. In Cuba, as
Trump knows all too well, every business and corporation which deals in
hard currency belongs to the government.

And all the money that comes into the country in the form of remittances
ends up, in one form or another, in the state treasury. Sanctions only
affect the people. I am convinced that, if Cuba's autocrats lack for
anything, it is more digits in their secret bank accounts.

Like other politicians and some members of Congress, Donald Trump is
only looking at the Cuban landscape superficially.

The United States can spend millions to support Cuban dissidents (though
96% of the money goes to anti-Castro organizations based in Florida),
launch international campaigns and impose million-dollar fines on
various foreign banks to punish them for doing business with the
Caribbean dictatorship, but they overlook one thing: the regime's
opponents — local figures who would presumably be leaders of any
prolonged, peaceful battle for democracy on the island — are failing.

The reasons vary. They range from intense repression to the opposition's
proverbial inability to turn out even five-hundred people for a rally in
a public square.

I understand the frustration of my compatriots in the diaspora. I too
have suffered. I have
not seen my mother, my sister or my niece in the fourteen years since
the Black Spring in 2003 forced them to leave for Switzerland.

Various strategies have been tried yet the island's autocrats still have
not given up. They are not going to change of their own free will. They
will retreat to the trenches, their natural habitat, where they can
maneuver more easily. And they will have the perfect pretext for
portraying themselves as victims.

As is already well known, the real blockade is the one the government
imposes on its citizens through laws and regulations that hinder them
from accumulating capital, accessing foreign sources of credit and
importing goods legally.

The regime has created anachronistic obstacles to the free importation
of goods from abroad by imposing absurd tariffs and restrictions.

But Cubans want a real democracy, not a caricature. We have to
understand that we must find the solutions to our problems ourselves.

Cuba is a matter for Cubans, wherever they happen to reside. All that's
lacking is for we ourselves to believe it.

Source: Cuba and the United States Return to the Trenches / Iván García
– Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-and-the-united-states-return-to-the-trenches-ivn-garca/