Implications of Ending the Cuban Embargo
Oct. 22 - If the U.S.
were to end the embargo and lift the travel ban without major reforms in
Cuba, there would be significant implications:
• Money from American tourists would flow into businesses owned by the
Castro government thus strengthening state enterprises. The tourist
industry is controlled by the military and General Raul Castro.
•Tourist dollars would be spent on products, i.e., rum, tobacco, etc.,
produced by state enterprises, and tourists would stay in hotels owned
partially or wholly by the Cuban government. The principal airline
shuffling tourists around the island, Gaviota, is owned and operated by
the Cuban military.
•American tourists will have limited contact with Cubans. Most Cuban
resorts are built in isolated areas, are off limits to the average
Cuban, and are controlled by Cuba’s efficient security apparatus. Most
Americans don’t speak Spanish, have but limited contact with ordinary
Cubans, and are not interested in visiting the island to subvert its
regime. Law 88 enacted in 1999 prohibits Cubans from receiving
publications from tourists. Penalties include jail terms.
•While providing the Castro government with much needed dollars, the
economic impact of tourism on the Cuban population would be limited.
Dollars will trickle down to the Cuban poor in only small quantities,
while state and foreign enterprises will benefit most.
•The assumption that the Cuban leadership would allow U.S. tourists or
businesses to subvert the revolution and influence internal developments
is at best naïve. As we have seen in other circumstances, U.S. travelers
to Cuba could be subject to harassment and imprisonment.
•Over the past decades hundred of thousands of Canadian, European and
Latin American tourists have visited the island. Cuba is not more
democratic today. If anything, Cuba is more totalitarian, with the state
and its control apparatus having been strengthened as a result of the
influx of tourist dollars.
•As occurred in the mid-1990s, an infusion of American tourist dollars
will provide the regime with a further disincentive to adopt deeper
economic reforms. Cuba’s limited economic reforms were enacted in the
early 1990s, when the island’s economic contraction was at its worst.
Once the economy began to stabilize by 1996 as a result of foreign
tourism and investments, and exile remittances, the earlier reforms were
halted or rescinded by Castro.
•Lifting the embargo and the travel ban without major concessions from
Cuba would send the wrong message “to the enemies of the United States”:
that a foreign leader can seize U.S. properties without compensation;
allow the use of his territory for the introduction of nuclear missiles
aimed at the United States; espouse terrorism and anti-U.S. causes
throughout the world; and eventually the United States will “forget and
forgive,” and reward him with tourism, investments and economic aid.
•Since the Ford/Carter era, U.S. policy toward Latin America has
emphasized democracy, human rights and constitutional government. Under
President Reagan the U.S. intervened in Grenada, under President Bush,
Sr. the U.S. intervened in Panama and under President Clinton the U.S.
landed marines in Haiti, all to restore democracy to those countries.
The U.S. has prevented military coups in the region and supported the
will of the people in free elections. U.S. policy has not been uniformly
applied throughout the world, yet it is U.S. policy in the region. Cuba
is part of Latin America. While no one is advocating military
intervention, normalization of relations with a military dictatorship in
Cuba will send the wrong message to the rest of the continent.
•Once American tourists begin to visit Cuba, Castro would probably
restrict travel by Cuban-Americans. For the Castro regime,
Cuban-Americans represent a far more subversive group because of their
ability to speak to friends and relatives on the island, and to
influence their views on the Castro regime and on the United States.
Indeed, the return of Cuban exiles in 1979-80 precipitated the mass
exodus of Cubans from Mariel in 1980.
•A large influx of American tourists into Cuba would have a dislocating
effect on the economies of smaller Caribbean islands such as Jamaica,
the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and even Florida,
highly dependent on tourism for their well-being. Careful planning must
take place, lest we create significant hardships and social problems in
If the embargo is lifted, limited trade with, and investments in Cuba
would develop. Yet there are significant implications.
•All trade with Cuba is done with state owned businesses. Since Cuba has
very little credit and is a major debtor nation, the U.S. and its
businesses would have to provide credits to Cuban enterprises. There is
a long history of Cuba defaulting on loans.
Washington Post: Cuba should not be rewarded for denying freedom to its
Oct. 22 - The other day,
Fidel Castro wrote an opinion column for Cuba’s state-run newspaper,
Granma, as he has done periodically from retirement. He lavished praise
on an editorial in the New York Times that called for an end to the U.S.
trade embargo on Cuba. But Mr. Castro had one complaint: The Times
mentioned the harassment of dissidents and the still-unexplained death
of a leading exponent of democracy, Oswaldo Payá, and a younger
activist, Harold Cepero, in a car wreck two years ago.
The assertion that Cuba’s authoritarian government had yet to explain
the deaths was “slanderous and [a] cheap accusation,” Mr. Castro
So why has Cuba done nothing to dispel the fog of suspicion that still
lingers over the deaths? If the charge is slanderous, then it is long
past time for Mr. Castro to order a thorough investigation of what
happened on an isolated Cuban road on July 22, 2012. So far, there has
been only a crude attempt at cover-up and denial.
We know something about what happened, thanks to the eyewitness account
of Ángel Carromero, the young Spanish politician who was at the wheel of
the rental car that was carrying Mr. Payá and Mr. Cepero to a meeting
with supporters. Mr. Carromero, who visited Washington last week, told
us the car was being shadowed by Cuban state security from the moment it
left Havana. He said his conversations with Mr. Payá as they traveled
were mostly about the Varela Project, Mr. Payá’s courageous 2002
petition drive seeking to guarantee democracy in Cuba. Many of Mr.
Payá’s supporters in the project were later arrested and imprisoned.
After the wreck, Mr. Carromero was pressured by the Cuban authorities to
describe it as an accident caused by his reckless speeding. But he
reiterated to us last week that what really happened is that the rental
car was rammed from behind by a vehicle bearing state license plates.
Mr. Carromero showed us photographs of the damaged car, damage that
seemed inconsistent with a wreck caused by speeding. But the precise
details of what happened are unknown and need to be cleared up by a
credible investigation. Mr. Payá’s family has sought one for two years,
without success. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of
the Organization of American States sent a query to Cuba about the case,
they got no answer. Nothing.
The U.S. embargo has been substantially relaxed in recent years to allow
hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine exports, in
addition to consumer goods supplied to Cubans by relatives in this
country. The question is whether a further relaxation is merited. The
regime’s persecution of dissidents is unceasing; it continues to
imprison American Alan Gross on false charges. While Cuba has toyed with
economic liberalization and lifted travel restrictions for some, we see
no sign that the Castro brothers are loosening their grip. Fully lifting
the embargo now would reward and ratify their intransigence.
A concession such as ending the trade embargo should not be exchanged
for nothing. It should be made when Cuba grants genuine freedom to its
people, the goal cherished by Mr. Payá.
The Washington Post
Doesn’t Deserve Normal Diplomatic Relations
Oct. 13 - Carlos
Alberto Montaner responds to a New York Times Editorial asking for an
end to the embargo:
The United States should not
normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for several reasons.
First, the Cuban government has been officially declared “a state
sponsor of terrorism" by the State Department. It's inconceivable to
oppose the terrorists in the Middle East while treating them normally in
the United States' neighborhood.
Normalizing relations would be the proof needed by the Stalinists in the
Cuban government to demonstrate that they don't have to make any
political changes to be accepted.
There's also a bipartisan consensus in Washington against the Castro
regime. All three Cuban-American senators and four Cuban-American
representatives, Democrats and Republican, agree that sanctions should
be maintained. They are the best interpreters of the opinion of the
almost three million Cubans and descendants of Cubans living in the
Cuba systematically engages in undermining the interests of the United
States. It is an ally of Iran, North Korea (to whom it furnishes war
matériel), Russia, Syria, the FARC terrorists in Colombia and Venezuela.
The F.B.I. recently warned that Cuban intelligence is trying to recruit
people in the academic world as agents of influence. It once infiltrated
them into the Pentagon and the State Department; today, they are in
The Cuba dictatorship continues to violate human rights and shows no
intention to make amends. The small economic changes it has made are
directed at strengthening the regime. Why reward that behavior? During
the entire 20th century, the U.S. was (rightfully) reproached for
maintaining normal relations with right-wing dictatorships. For the
first time, the U.S. maintains a morally consistent position in Latin
America and should not sacrifice it.
A reversal of policy would be a cruel blow against the Cuban democrats
and dissidents who view the United States as their only dependable ally
in the world. Normalizing relations would be the proof needed by the
Stalinists in the Cuban government to demonstrate that they don't have
to make any political changes to be accepted. Not to mention a premature
reconciliation without substantial changes would also be a harsh blow to
the reformists in the Cuban government who are pressuring toward a
The New York Times
Payá's death was a murder, not an accident
Oct. 11 - En español
El Nuevo Herald
Angel Carromero was emphatic
during his visit to Miami on Friday: “What happened on July 22 wasn’t an
accident, it was an assault,” he said.
The young Spanish lawyer was sentenced to four years in jail in the
deaths of opposition figures Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero in a car
crash near the Cuban city of Bayamo on July 22, 2012. His fate was
decided in a Cuban courtroom because of his alleged role as the driver
of the car in which they traveled en route to Santiago de Cuba. Although
Cuba insisted the wreck was a car accident, others said State Security
agents had been following the car and were responsible.
Carromero was found guilty in a trial he describes as full of
contradictions, in his book Death under Suspicion, which he is currently
promoting in the United States after obtaining a special permit to do
so. Cuba eventually released Carromero to Spain to serve out his term.
Another key witness in the case, Jens Aron Modig continues to remain
quiet. The Swedish delegate was also traveling in the car with Carromero
but was quickly repatriated to his homeland due to a supposed pact of
However, Carromero decided to speak up a few months after returning to
On Friday afternoon, he attended a Miami Herald editorial board meeting
and displayed a multitude of video stills from footage belonging to the
Cuban government. Carromero explained that this footage was used by
Cuban authorities to produce a video aimed at convincing the public that
an accident provoked by him was the true cause behind the death of one
of the main leaders of the Cuban opposition.
In the photos, which were also presented at his trial in Cuba, it can be
clearly seem that the details of the car and location of the accident
change inexplicably. In one set of photos, the crashed car has a bumper
on it; in another it doesn’t. The car in the images is sometimes a blue
Hyundai on grass; in others, it is on sand or near a small river.
Carromero, who is an advisor of Madrid’s City Council and the director
of the New Generations of the Popular Party in Madrid, pinpointed other
inconsistencies in the case.
The three witnesses who testified, despite remembering exactly at which
speed the car was traveling, couldn’t, however, specify who took out the
four people who had been inside the car. They also didn’t remember the
white car that Carromero claims almost “appeared out of thin air” and
took him to a hospital in Bayamo, which was soon after “militarized.”
He also remembers that in the Cuban video in which he is shown
incriminating himself he has his shirt buttoned in some takes and
unbuttoned in others, something he did to prove that the video was
staged and not a spontaneous confession.
Carromero claimed to speak with a “clear conscience” about the trial,
among other topics. Here are some questions and answers Friday.
What arguments were presented at trial to sentence you?
The formula used to sentence me and to calculate the speed at which the
car supposedly traveled has no validity, it's the one of rectilinear
motion uniformly accelerated.
This movement doesn't exist and doesn’t account for the acceleration
made when you brake, the friction. ..l The international experts
contacted by my lawyers broke all of this down. Experts from the CUJAE
(Cuba’s University of Engineering) said it was nonsense.
Did those experts go to the trial?
In Cuba, if they accuse you, you’re sentenced. Cuban legislation doesn’t
allow for experts to come and testify. This doesn't happen in countries
which are not dictatorships.
Did you have access to documents relating to your case?
I never saw the report of my case. They didn't give my defense lawyer a
copy. The lawyers has to travel from Havana to Bayamo to transcribe 800
documents by hand. Why didn't they give them a copy the way it's done in
all cases? Because they knew that when they copied it that the documents
would make it out of Cuba and the case would be read. The drawings of
the supposed tests which they had done to me to accuse me had to be done
by hand too, like children. You can laugh, but it's not a joke.
When did you send that text message stating, “Help! We're surrounded by
They let us keep our cellphones at the beginning of our stay in the
hospital in Bayamo but later on they took them from us. I sent that text
when I was in my hospital bed surrounded by military men. In that
moment, they had obligated me to change my version of the story and were
filming me with a handycam and I knew it was going to end badly.
The first thing he said was that they had run us off the road and had
hit us. This made them nervous, and they hit me. Later on a Cuban
official who introduced himself as an expert told me the version that I
was to repeat: that I pressed the brake pedal and “fell in an
embankment.” In Spain this has another meaning and the phrasing of the
words is different too.
Was Modig sleeping when the accident happened as he has alleged in
There were times when he was asleep but he was the copilot. If he chose
to remain quiet and turn the page, well I don't share in that sentiment.
I respect it but I've chosen a more complicated road and one with worse
consequences for me but I couldn't stay silent.
Has it been a long time since you last spoke to him?
Yes. The last time he came to Spain he simply told me he didn't remember
How did you find out about the deaths of Payá and Cepero?
I asked in the hospital and in the interrogation in Bayamo they told me
about it again.
At what speed where you traveling when all this happened?
Well, I don't remember the speed, but whoever has been in Cuba knows
that on the main highway, even if you want to, you can't go too fast
because it's full of potholes. Also it was a rental car and didn't work
so well. I was with Rosa Maria [Payá] yesterday and we remembered that
the day before the trip we were about to cancel it because the car
didn't accelerate well.
At the time you traveled to Cuba was your driver's license in good
Yes. Not even my family or my friends could defend me in Spain because
otherwise I wouldn't have been able to return. The leftist party and the
Cuban government took advantage of that silence to try to destroy my
credibility. So, I took the heat from the media on my own.
In the book you're very blunt about why you filmed those videos in which
you take the blame ...
There's something very clear here, I was surrounded by soldiers, in a
loathsome dungeon-like cell without access to lawyers and without being
able to call anybody. I was alone and at the mercy of what the soldiers
wanted to do to me. This is in Cuba, not a country with rights, and so
they told me that if I collaborate, that they'll let me go.
What were you afraid of the most?
Of them killing me. They can do with you whatever they want. You have no
cellphone, no outside contact, you're in a dictatorship. It was
collaborate and do what I'm told or I wouldn't be here with you today.
It's like a video from al-Qaida, my face was swollen and I could barely
In which jails were you?
I was in Bayamo and later I was moved to Cien and Aldabo, it's an
instructional jail. They stick you in there until you confess, and if
not, they won't let you out. I was there until November in a cell in
which they'd take me out once a day every two or three weeks. It was
psychologically trying and I clung on to the fact that I wanted to go
back and that if I did, I wanted to be well and I did it.
What did you do in jail?
Think. Think about my family and friends. Try to keep feeling alive,
part of my life. Think about what I'd be doing if I was with my loved
ones. I tried to not let the isolation they imposed on me affect me. I
don't know if it's mental tricks or what but it helped me.
Did councilmen come see you at your jail cell?
Of course, they didn't let me out but a slew of military men passed by
there. They talked to me and told me that Cuba was gorgeous. Of course,
I had to act docile towards them because they were my captors and the
ones who brought me food. It's difficult. I also fought with myself over
But on trial, despite having been docile, you decided to say you were
Of course, because the regime created a friction and did so in such a
bad way that there were elements to defend myself from their version of
the facts. My lawyers told me to declare myself innocent because even
with their version they had proof to show that I was innocent. It was
also an act of rebellion on my part, even though later I regretted it
because an official threatened me. It's complicated to act without
consulting anyone. One day they told me that I hadn't support from my
party and my government. I lived in a contradiction, without knowing,
and making decisions blindly is very hard.
When did you have that initial contact with the Spanish embassy?
When I was in Bayamo, the Swiss ambassador and the auxiliary consul from
Spain. The ambassador manages to have her national sent home with her
and the Spanish consulate just asks me how I'm doing and doesn't provide
me with any further instruction.
It's also strange that they sent an auxiliary consul.
They told me that they tried to treat it as a case between consulates,
but from that first moment, they didn't send an ambassador and only sent
an auxiliary consul.
Why did the Nacional Audience in Spain disregard a petition to
investigate the death of Oswaldo Payá, who was a Spanish citizen?
My return to Spain wasn't free. The Cuban government isn't stupid and
got a lot out of my return. One of the conditions they put was that the
Spanish government has to accept the validity of my sentence and can't
revise my case. This was part of a prisoner extradition treaty that both
Can Spanish authorities pardon you?
Yes, but they have to communicate that to Cuba first.
The Miami Herald
Abandoned Communist Nuclear Reactor
Oct. 10 - Just 90 miles off
the tip of Florida lies a half-baked, abandoned relic of the Cold
War-era arms race — what was once going to be a joint Cuban-Soviet
nuclear reactor. Thank God it never panned out. Because not only do we
now have these incredible shots from photographer Darmon Richter, but
every last aspect of this thing would have been a total and utter
It all started back in 1976,
when comrades in communism, Cuba and the Soviet Union, agreed to build
two nuclear reactors near Juragua, Cuba. And if it had ever been
finished, just one of these 440-megawatt reactors could have satisfied
over 15 per cent of Cuba’s energy needs. As The New York Times explained
when construction officially ceased, this wasn’t your everyday reactor:
The V.V.E.R. design, which was the most advanced at the time, was the
first to be exported by Moscow for use in a tropical climate. It differs
from the Chernobyl-style design in that the radioactive core and fuel
elements are contained within a pressurised steel vessel.
Construction didn’t start until 1983, which gave Cuba 10 years to build
their potential-livelihood, all thanks to the the steady flow of Soviet
funds. Of course, when the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the essential
funds ceased, over 300 former Soviet technicians returned to the
motherland, and all construction came to a standstill — despite the fact
that 40 per cent of the heavy machinery had already been installed.
Still, it wasn’t over quite yet. The whole project spent nearly a decade
in limbo, until finally, in 2000, Fidel Castro told Vladamir Putin that
he was done with the two countries’ former joint-dream. Now, the power
plant at Juragua was officially little more than a testament to what
could have been — which is a very good thing. Because as it turns out,
“what could have been” basically entailed wildly dangerous conditions
and potentially a whole mess of destruction. Continue reading and see
businessman will appeal Cuban jail sentence, lawyers say
Oct. 10 - Lawyers for a
Canadian businessman sentenced in Cuba to 15 years in prison say they
will appeal the conviction.
Cy Tokmakjian, who owns the Ontario-based automotive company Tokmakjian
Group, was sentenced last month on corruption-related charges that his
family says are unfounded.
His lawyers say they will appeal to Cuba's Supreme Court despite
"serious doubts and concerns that the results are pre-determined."
The lawyers had previously said they would hold off on further legal
action if they could get assurances Tokmakjian would be released to
serve his sentence in Canada.
The company's Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as the country launched
an anti-graft drive that has swept up foreign business executives from
at least five nations as well as government officials and dozens of
Cuban employees at key state-run companies.
Tokmakjian, 74, was held for more than two years before being tried in
"Cy Tokmakjian was detained unfairly and has suffered enough," said
Lorne Waldman, a Canadian human rights lawyer assisting the family.
"Cuba should allow Cy to return to Canada immediately. We will continue
to work with the Canadian Government to help us win Cy's release," he
said in a statement.
Tokmakjian's family has also expressed concerns about his health.
Boats, Cuban Migrants Again Flee to U.S.
Oct. 10 - In an unexpected
echo of the refugee crisis from two decades ago, a rising tide of Cubans
in rickety, cobbled-together boats is fleeing the island and showing up
in the waters off Florida.
Leonardo Heredia, a 24-year-old Cuban baker, for example, tried and
failed to reach the shores of Florida eight times.
Last week, he and 21 friends from his Havana neighborhood gathered the
combined know-how from their respective botched migrations and made a
boat using a Toyota motor, scrap stainless steel and plastic foam.
Guided by a pocket-size Garmin GPS, they finally made it to Florida on
Mr. Heredia’s ninth attempt.
“Things that were bad in Cuba are now worse,” Mr. Heredia said. “If
there was more money in Cuba to pay for the trips, everyone would go.”
Mr. Heredia is one of about 25,000 Cubans who arrived by land and sea in
the United States without travel visas in the fiscal year that ended on
Sept. 30, according to government figures. He, like many others, is also
an unexpected throwback to a time that experts thought had long passed:
the era when Cubans boarded homemade vessels built from old car parts
and inner tubes, hoping for calm seas and favorable winds. As the number
of Cubans attempting the voyage nearly doubled in the past two years,
the number of vessels unfit for the dangerous 90-mile crossing also
Not since the rafter crisis of 1994 has the United States received so
many Cuban migrants. The increase highlights the consequences of a
United States immigration policy that gives preferential treatment to
Cubans and recent reforms on the island that loosened travel
restrictions, and it puts a harsh spotlight on the growing frustration
of a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.
More Cubans took to the sea last year than in any year since 2008, when
Raúl Castro officially took power and the nation hummed with
anticipation. Some experts fear that the recent spike in migration could
be a harbinger of a mass exodus, and they caution that the unseaworthy
vessels have already left a trail of deaths.
“I believe there is a silent
massive exodus,” said Ramón Saúl Sánchez, an exile leader in Miami who
has helped families of those who died at sea. “We are back to those
times, like in 1994, when people built little floating devices and took
to the ocean, whether they had relatives here or not.” Continue
The New York Times
one day: Cuba bans Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez perfumes
Sept. 27 -
El Nuevo Herald (Spanish)
The Cuban government has said
it will take disciplinary action against a state pharmaceutical company
that created perfumes named Ernesto Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez.
In a statement in the official Granma newspaper, the government
described the project as "a serious error".
"The symbols of the Revolution are and will always be sacred," it read.
The colognes - Ernesto and Hugo - were unveiled on Thursday by state a
laboratory in the capital, Havana.
Labiofam said Ernesto, the cologne named after the Argentine-born
revolutionary who help Fidel Castro take over in Cuba in 1959, would be
a woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder.
Hugo, named after the late Venezuelan president, would offer a softer,
fruitier fragrance with hints of mango and papaya.
"They will be very attractive colognes, but the names also mean a lot to
us," said Isabel Gonzalez, vice-president for research and development
for Labiofam during the launch.
But the project was mocked in the social networks and criticized by
supporters of the Cuban Revolution, who considered it disrespectful.
Labiofam had been in the process of developing stylized bottles and
labels for the products before putting them on sale in Cuba and
"We didn't want to create propaganda, but rather pay homage to them and
help their names endure," said on Thursday Cuban biochemist Mario
Valdes, who led the scent design team.
The company said it had obtained the agreement of the families of Che
Guevara and Hugo Chavez to use their names in the colognes. But that has
now been denied by the Cuban government.
"The details of this irresponsible action were discussed in detail on
Friday with the company's director and the employees who presented the
products, which were still being developed," read the statement of the
Executive Committee of the Ministers' Council, headed by Cuban President
"The appropriate measures will be taken to deal with this serious error.
"Such initiatives will never be accepted either by our people or by the
business in a country with no laws: Canadian Businessman receives a
Sept. 27 - A Canadian
automobile executive has been sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison on
corruption-related charges that officials here call part of a broad
campaign against graft, his company said Saturday.
Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group said the charges against its president,
Cy Tokmakjian, 74, were concocted as an excuse to seize the automotive
firm's $100 million in assets in Cuba. The company described the case
Saturday as "absurd" and a "travesty of justice."
The company's Cuban offices were raided in 2011 as Cuba launched an
anti-graft drive that has swept up foreign business executives from at
least five nations as well as government officials and dozens of Cuban
employees at key state-run companies.
Foreign business people have long considered payoffs ranging from a free
meal to cash deposits in overseas accounts to be an unavoidable cost of
doing business in Cuba. President Raul Castro has said that rooting out
rampant corruption is one of the country's most important challenges.
More than 150 foreign business people and dozens of small South American
and European companies have been kicked out of the country under the
anti-graft drive. Several dozen defendants have ended up in jail,
including a few foreigners and high government officials accused of
influence-peddling and taking bribes.
Such cases, and questions about their fairness, have chilled many
current and potential investors in Cuba, which is trying to attract
foreign capital to jumpstart the stagnant economy.
Cuba's judicial system is known for speedy proceedings behind closed
doors with little or no media access. Cuban officials have said little
about the Tokmakjian case beyond announcing last year that the
Tokmakjian Group's operating license had been rescinded due to
unspecified actions "that are contrary to the principles and ethics that
should characterize commercial activity, and contravene Cuban judicial
Tokmakjian managers Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche got 12- and 8-year
sentences, respectively, company vice president Lee Hacker told The
Associated Press. He said the company's lawyers were notified of the
sentences on Friday.
The Canadian company said its president had been allowed to call only
four of the 18 expert witnesses he wanted to testify.
"The deception taking place in Cuba is beyond imagination," the company
said. "Lack of due process doesn't begin to describe the travesty of
couple reunited in U.S. after year-long sea odyssey
Sept. 26 - Almost a year
after he smuggled his way out of Cuba on a homemade boat, Jose Caballero
was reunited late Thursday with his wife who survived a harrowing sea
voyage of her own last month.
The two embraced tightly at the Greyhound bus terminal in Austin, Texas,
hours after Mailin Perez crossed the border from Mexico, taking
advantage of a U.S. policy that allows entry to Cubans arriving by land.
"Right now we're so happy, but exhausted from all the tension. There
were so many desperate moments," said Caballero.
Perez, 30, was one of a group of Cuban migrants rescued at sea by
Mexican fishermen this month off the Yucatan peninsula badly sunburned
and dehydrated after three weeks adrift.
Only 15 of the 32 passengers of her boat survived the journey from
Manzanillo in eastern Cuba, with 15 dying at sea, and two more dying
after they were rescued.
"It was such a battle to get here," Perez said later, as she sat down to
a traditional Cuban dinner of chicken, and "congri" (rice and beans)
prepared by her husband. "I'm happy, but sad for the ones who didn't
The group set off on August 7, and were forced to fashion a makeshift
sail for their vessel after the motor failed early in the journey. One
by one the passengers died as supplies of food, and then water, ran out.
Their bodies were thrown overboard.
Caballero, 40, said his wife lost eight cousins on the boat, adding that
she had been an assistant at a blood bank in Cuba and brought medical
supplies with her.
"For her it's going to be hard. Right now she is happy she made it, but
imagine the trauma she feels," he said.
Caballero left Cuba by the same route in December on a boat carrying 47
people, and is now a maintenance worker at a trucking company in Austin.
"We were at sea for only nine days and I still have nightmares about
drowning," he said.
Mexican officials detained the Cubans for two weeks before releasing
them, saying Cuba had not recognized them as its citizens.
Under the "wet foot, dry foot policy" of the United States, Cuban
migrants who make it onto U.S. soil are allowed to remain while those
intercepted at sea are turned back.
Cubans seeking to flee the communist-run island are heading in
increasing numbers to Central America or southern Mexico and then making
a long journey overland to reach the United States.
U.S. authorities say 16,200 Cubans arrived without visas at the border
with Mexico in the past 11 months, the highest number in a decade.
Caballero said his wife had previously tried unsuccessfully to leave
Cuba four times by boat and he tried to persuade her not to try again.
"But there was no stopping her," he said.
The couple left two children behind with relatives in Cuba, a boy aged
11 and a girl aged four.
"That's our hope now, to bring them to the United States," said
Caballero. "But not the way we came. Not by sea."
The Castro brothers made $700 million in one year from their slave
doctors working in Brazil
Sept. 4 - Since August 2013,
Cuba has collected over US$700m from the Brazilian government in
exchange for the services of 11,456 Cuban medical professionals working
in over 2,700 towns and cities across the country. The Brazilian
government recently announced that the programme will continue next
year, with total payments amounting to US$511m.
The Cuban doctors participate in Brazil's Mais Médicos (More Doctors)
programme, which aims to bring medical services to remote or underserved
parts of the country by employing overseas doctors, mainly from Cuba. It
was created in response to the mass protests that rocked Brazil in June
2013 over the poor quality of public services, including healthcare. The
programme pays each participant a salary of around US$4,500 a month.
However, the participation of Cuban doctors is organised through the Pan
American Health Organization (PAHO). The Brazilian government disburses
the payments to the PAHO, which then transfers the monies to the Cuban
government after taking a 5% administrative commission. The Cuban
government pays the medical professionals working in Brazil a monthly
salary of US$1,245, and pockets the rest.
With 440,000 health professionals in a country of 11m people, Cuba has
one of the best doctor-to-patient ratios in the world. As the government
has sought to cut costs and "update" the economy since 2008 under
President Raúl Castro, it has cut the number of doctors operating on the
island and offered to sell their services abroad.
Currently, the sale of services abroad is Cuba's largest source of hard
currency: in 2014, the government estimates that it will collect
US$8.2bn from these deals. Around 50,000 Cuban health professionals work
in 66 countries worldwide, although around half of those work in
Venezuela, with an additional 11,456 in Brazil. The agreements with
other foreign countries are similar to the Brazilian setup, with Cuban
doctors paid less than the salary of local medical staff, and the
remainder of their pay being transferred to the Cuban government.
Impact on the forecast
The Economist Intelligence Unit is not changing its macroeconomic
forecasts in light of the renewal of the programme, but it will come as
a relief to the Cuban government and will help to mitigate the
scaling-back of the sale of professional services to Venezuela.
Noticias Martí (Español)
protesting against the regime on March 28 in Havana's famous Galiano
that brainwashing doesn't work?
Dec. 7 - Elian González after
14 years of brainwashing: "Fidel Castro for me is like a father. I
don't profess to have any religion but if I did my god would be Fidel
Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path"
Ladies in White protest in Havana and stopped from marching in Holguín
Dec. 3 - Video of a protest
by the Ladies in White on Sunday December 1 at Parque Gandhi in Havana
and an attempt to march in Holguin, but were stopped by Castro's police
is brutally attacked by Castro's police for expressing her opinions
Nov. 4 - Anonymous Venezuela
has a warning: This is the future of Venezuela unless they get rid of
Maduro and the other puppets under the control of the Castro brothers.
Sáncez's presentation at Google Ideas Summit
October 26 - Yoani Sánchez
explains how Internet without Internet is used by Cubans inside the
Learn how you can help
promote Internet without Internet in Cuba:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter:
@WebPaqsforCuba On Facebook:
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Learn about a new
technology that allows Cubans in Cuba have access to websites banned by
the Castro regime and how you can help:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter:
@WebPaqsforCuba On Facebook:
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
another act of repudiation against members of UNPACU
Oct. 9 - This took place in
Cardenas on Sunday October 6, 2013
to see the video
Cuban authorities are worried about web paqs circulating inside Cuba
Sept. 13 - Tweet from Yoani
"Authorities worried because
of "packages" or "combos" with a collection of audiovisuals in the black
As I have said before,
projects like Web Paqs for Cuba are the best way to bypass the
blockade at the Internet, put in place by the Castro dictatorship to
prevent Cubans in the island from knowing what's happening inside Cuba
and in the rest of the world.
You can learn more about Web
Paqs for Cuba and how you can get involved in this project at
La Singularidad Cuba (Español)
The Real Cuba
(English) Twitter and
at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, Luyanó, Havana, Cuba
July 8 - Video taken in April
of this year at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, one of the hospitals for
Cubans who do not have hard currency to pay the Castro brothers.
Very different from the
hospital where they took Micahel Moore and the hospitals that are used
by foreigners who pay with dollars.
Click here to see the video
video shows Bahamian guards brutally abusing Cuban rafters
June 15 - June 15 - This
clandestine video taking inside a Bahamian jail, shows a guard kicking
and insulting Cuban rafters who were trying to reach the United States
and ended up in the Bahamas.
There should be a tourism boycott of the Bahamas, unless the Bahamian
government orders the arrest and prosecution of this brutal thug and
stops abusing Cuban rafters who are risking their lives in search for
Click here to see the video
Yoani Sánchez about the Web Paqs for Cuba project
about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Visit our page about
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
You can also visit us on
Facebook to find all information about the Internet Web Paqs for Cuba, a
project to help the Cuban people have access to the websites that are
blocked by the Cuban regime.
Make sure to click on 'Like"
as a sign of support
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
daily ABC has an article about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare
Foto de la
versión impresa del reportaje en ABC
March 17 - On Thursday of
last week, Carmen Muñoz a columnist for Spanish daily ABC, called me to
ask for permission to use the photos at therealcuba.com for an article
about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare.
I was able to send her many
of the photos on high resolution to use on the print edition of the
The article was published on
Sunday on ABC and is also on their web page at
Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Our new page:
Fidel Castro, the
World's oldest terrorist
My interview with
March 29 - I was interviewed by Ed Kasputis, of Baseball PhD, about
baseball in Cuba before Castro and about the two Cubas, the one for
foreigners and the one for regular Cubans.
Ed did a previous program with Mr. Sports Travel of San Diego, CA, about
the five top international baseball destinations and was surprised to
find out that the #1 destination was Cuba.
He received some nice pictures of Cuba and was ready to book a trip when
he saw therealcuba.com and changed his mind.
He interviewed me as part of a program about the new Marlins Stadium and
I was able to talk about baseball in Cuba before Castro and then we had
a long chat about what is the reality of life in Cuba under Castro.
The program lasts 53 minutes, if you are not a baseball fan and just
want to hear my interview about Cuba use your mouse to move the dial to
here to listen
Listen to Fidel Castro
For those who think that the Cuban people chose the system imposed by
the Castro brothers, here are some of the things that Fidel Castro said
and promised when he gained power
photos of Cuba's prisons, missile installations, military bases and
A look at
Havana before the Castro brothers destroyed it
We have new photos of
Havana taken in October of last year
Oct. 9 - A friend sent me around two dozen photos of Havana that he took
at the beginning of this month.
Some of them are very sad, because they show how Havana has been
completely destroyed by this gang of human termites.
Some others are hard to believe, including this one of goats having
"lunch" off the dumpsters on a Havana street.
to see them
Socio-Economic Conditions in Pre-Castro
Dec. 17 - Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct
fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political
structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business,
foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular
basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff at the University of Miami.
Click here to learn the truth about Cuba's Health, Education,
Personal Consumption and much more in pre-Castro Cuba.
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