BBC News, 02-27-14 - Misceláneas de Cuba

ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 1
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International Institute for the Study of Cuba (UK), Dutch initiative is open
for business. New investment fund aims to catch wave of interest in Cuba
CNN, Will Venezuela abandon Chavismo?
AP, Venezuela tense as opposition leader goes to court
Reuters, Venezuela's violent crime fuels the death business
AP, Tense Venezuela awaits ruling on opposition leader
Granma Internacional, Cuban cigars, a tradition of excellence
Miriam Leiva, ¿La Posición Común Europea Debe Cambiar?
Miriam Leiva, ¿Embargo Comercial Estadounidense y Posición Común
Europea Deben Cambiar?
Cuba Study Group/ Desde la Isla No 24, Pavel Vidal Alejandro,
Proyecciones macroeconómicas de una Cuba sin Venezuela
Reuters, Have a cigar: Cuba and Europe to write a business plan
AFP, Communist Cuba to see rare political reform campaign
Cubaeconomía, Elías Amor Bravo, A propósito del turismo internacional
en Cuba en 2013
AP, Opposition, pro-govt rallies grip Venezuela
The New York Times, Venezuela Battles Media, Social and Otherwise, to
Restrict Protest Coverage
AP / Fox News, Venezuela revokes press credentials for 4 CNN journalists over
coverage of protests
Diario de Cuba, POLÍTICA; España: Preocupación en el Partido Popular
por el libro de Ángel Carromero
The Tahoe Daily Tribune, B’s Business Viewpoint: Reflecting on our trip
to Cuba
Granma Internacional, Cuba prioritizes clean energy
Miami Herald, UN unlikely to sanction Cuba for N. Korean weapons,
experts say
Huff Post, Ted Cruz On Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro 'Taking A Page'
From Castro Playbook
Venezuela, Serie de Fotos que Muestran la agresividad con que el
Gobierno de Venezuela trata de callar las Protestas.
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Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, Damas de Blanco
AP, US Sen. Marco Rubio helps inaugurate Cuba memorial
ICCAS, Focus on Cuba No.210, Polling with an Agenda
Democracy Digest, Antonio Rodiles, Uncivil society: from Cuba’s ‘rapid
response brigades’ to Venezuela’s ‘collective’ militias
Democracy Digest, Venezuela’s useful idiots
Reuters, Cuba continues to trim state payroll, build private sector
AP, Ex-Venezuelan general in armed standoff at home
CNN, Can Venezuela's socialist government survive wave of protests?
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ICCAS, Panel Discussion: The Venezuelan Crisis, Implications for Cuba;
Options for the US. For videos go to:
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El Nuevo Herald, News Brother to pursue lawsuit over Cuba's 1996 shootdown
El Nuevo Herald, Embajador Otto Reich, Una contribución ucraniana para
solucionar la crisis en Venezuela
InterAmerican Security Watch,
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All You Need to Know About Cuba
and Venezuela in 14 Minutes
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida took to the Senate floor
on Monday to speak about the situations in Cuba and
Venezuela. Senator Rubio spoke in response to
comments from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin following a
recent trip to Cuba. In 14 minutes, Senator Rubio tells
everyone all they need to know about Cuba, Venezuela,
and the role of the United States.
To watch Senator Rubio's speech, click here:
Rubio Delivers Floor Speech
On Crisis In Venezuela
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Cuantioso robo en Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba.
Polioro, Sigue creciendo la delincuencia en la capital cubana
BBC, Huber Matos: Cuban revolution leader dies in Miami
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02-28-14 95, Huber Matos v Fidel Castro: the verdict of history
Miami Herald, Huber Matos: The passing of a Cuban patriot
CTP, The Latell Report, Cuban Strategy in Venezuela
Tampa Tribune, Venezuela-Cuba alliance’s shaky future fuels debate
AP, Russia warship docks in Havana harbor
Polioro, La Armada Rusa envía buque de inteligencia a La Habana
Cubaeconomía, Elías Amor Bravo, Balance de la agricultura castrista en
2013: ¿entre los incumplimientos y la falta de exigencia?
AFP, Fear and hope in Cuba over Venezuela protests
AFP, US lawmakers offer measure condemning Venezuela abuses
Dutch initiative is open for business
New investment fund aims to catch wave of interest in Cuba
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 5
By cubastudies
On September 27, 2012
Aiming at wealthy individual investors, the Amsterdam-based conglomerate Romar
group has launched a private investment fund for Cuban undertakings.
Initiated by the Romar group which has had many years of operating in Cuba, the Cuba
Financial Fund is a separate entity with its own organization and governance.
“As Cuba is seeking more and more foreign investments in all areas of business —
leisure, industry, transport, agriculture — we have started the development of an
investment fund that aims to work side by side with Cuba to develop projects,” Romar’s
Eric Tolsma says.
Principal Ronald Buijk says the fund is aiming at high net-worth individuals as investors.
Romar group, which is active in equipment sales, development, trading, finance and
logistics in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, has kept a low profile during the
almost 20 years it has done business in Cuba, but the family-owned company is now
emerging as an important link with the island for investors.
Romar’s development arm, Q Hospitality, is negotiating construction of four hotels, one
each in Havana, Viñales, Trinidad and Santa Lucía. Plans also include construction of a
80-mw wind farm in Cuba. However, its most ambitious project is a marina and real
estate development at Tarará, just east of Havana.
Romar began planning on Tarará two-and-half years ago. The company expects to
expand a 270-yacht marina and renovate hotels at the gated luxury community in East
Havana that was mainly built in the 1940s by American Royal S. Webster.
The project is currently on hold as the city of Havana is evaluating its overall
development strategy, which includes the area of Tarará.
The first phase of the project includes dredging, rebuilding and expanding the marina,
and renovating an existing motel, official business weekly Opciones reported last year.
Romar’s long-term plans include construction of a pier for mega-yachts, hotel and
aparthotel, bungalows, condominiums, restaurant, bars, shops, and an 18-hole golf
The architect for the project is Roberto Meyer, owner of MVSA International B.V., a
high-profile architecture firm in the Netherlands.
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Tarará, which includes 400 homes, a motel, beach, marina, cultural center, cafeteria,
hard-currency store, Che Guevara museum and pool, was started by U.S. real estate
developers in the 1920s. It acquired its current modernistic look in the 1940s, when most
homes in the compound were built. Just after the revolution, Che Guevara cured his
asthma here; in the 1970s, the government turned Tarará into a young pioneer camp; in
the 1990s, the compound hosted Ukrainian children sickened by the Chernobyl nuclear
disaster, and most recently, it became temporary home for Venezuelan patients of the
Operación Milagro eye surgery program.
Lack of resources caused buildings and other infrastructure to decay in the 1990s.
In 2001, state companies Cubanacan and Cubalse were put in charge to renovate the
compound, add a hotel and other tourism infrastructure, and re-do the street grid. On
April 1 this year, state holding Corporación CIMEX took over Residencial Tarará,
after the government dissolved Cubalse S.A.
Will Venezuela abandon Chavismo?
By David Frum, CNN Contributor
updated 4:58 PM EST, Wed February 19, 2014
(CNN) -- A week of demonstrations in Venezuela. Three people shot dead; dozens
wounded; dozens more arrested and imprisoned. Pro-regime thugs intimidate protesting
high school and college students. The question is being asked: Is Chavismo finally
cracking in Venezuela?
Hugo Chavez died of cancer nearly a year ago, and the question hanging over
Venezuela is how long his strange regime can live after him.
A country with a population smaller than Canada's has more murders than the United
States. Inflation exceeds 56%. Goods from toilet paper to sacramental wine have
vanished from shops. A regime that calls itself "socialist" has massively enriched the
former president's family and friends. Street lights dim at night because a country with
some of the world's largest energy reserves cannot provide enough electricity.
Protesters set up a banner that reads in Spanish,
"Democracy, Yes. Communism, No," as they build a barricade in the La Boyera neighborhood of Caracas,
Venezuela, on Thursday, February 20. For weeks, Venezuelans unhappy with the economy and rising crime
have been clashing with security forces.
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 David Frum says recent protests highlight weakness of Venezuela regime
 He says Nicolas Maduro doesn't possess the charisma of Hugo Chavez
Frum: Venezuela's economy is struggling; regime won't find it easy to buy support
Editor's note: David Frum, a CNN contributor, is a contributing editor at The Daily Beast. He
is the author of eight books, including a new novel, "Patriots," and a post-election e-book,
"Why Romney Lost." Frum was a special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001
to 2002.
David Frum
The Chavez regime has held power with four principal tools, all but one of which is gone
or going.
The first tool of power was the late president's own mesmerizing personality. Venezuela
has a bitter national history, and nobody has ever better voiced the resentments and
yearnings of its subordinated classes and castes than Hugo Chavez. In a nation whose
elite historically looked European, Chavez's face proclaimed his descent from
indigenous people and African slaves. He joked, he raged, he bestowed favors on the
barrios and made enemies of the traditional upper classes.
By contrast, the outstanding personal quality of Chavez's chosen successor, Nicolas
Maduro, was his cringing deference to the leader who elevated him from a bus driver's
seat to the top jobs in government.
Venezuela expels three U.S. diplomatic officials
The second Chavez tool of power was the shrewd deployment of the nation's oil wealth
to buy support from favored constituencies. Support Chavez, and you might get a free
house stocked with appliances, a government job or at least a new playground.
Chavez held the price of gasoline to pennies per gallon and offered subsidized rice and
beans in government-owned shops. Meanwhile, he withdrew police protection from the
wealthier neighborhoods that despised him, deploying criminal violence as a de facto
tool of political repression.
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Now, however, Venezuela is running out of cash to pay for these support-buying
schemes. Industries are shuttering because they cannot obtain foreign currency to buy
crucial parts. Interest rates on Venezuelan debt have jumped past 15%. The economy,
which managed 1% growth in 2013, is now shrinking as economic activity other than oil
and gas production grinds to a stop.
Chavez's third tool of power was control of the media. Independent television stations
were eliminated. Newsprint shortages and other pressures were manipulated to force
the sale of independent print media to government supporters. But it's difficult to cut
populations off from information in the modern age, especially for a ramshackle,
technically incompetent regime like Venezuela under Chavismo. Venezuela is not China
nor even Putin's Russia. The people who understand how the Internet works
overwhelmingly oppose the government.
The fourth and last tool of power was outright repression. Chavez himself always used
this tool sparingly. He preferred economic reprisals against his opponents to violence.
He drove them into exile rather than send them to camps. He politicized the army and
police, but he hesitated to use them, perhaps because he did not in the end fully trust
When I visited Venezuela in 2010, everybody was talking about elite Cuban paramilitary
police units that Chavez had supposedly borrowed from Fidel Castro. But change is
coming to Cuba too, and if the units ever existed, they certainly have not been visible in
the past's weeks clashes. Instead, Maduro has relied on local thugs.
Perhaps the Syrian example inspires Maduro to hope that he can hang on if his forces
just kill enough people. But Venezuela is located in a very different neighborhood, close
not only to the United States but also to democracies in Colombia and Brazil that take a
dim view of murderous dictatorship. (Maduro has said that the opposition is mounting a
"developing coup" and has issued an arrest warrant on conspiracy and murder charges
against an opposition leader; the opposition leader's party blames the government for
the violence.)
Chavez had an instinctive awareness that he could go so far but not too far. Whether
Chavez's successor shares that awareness of limits, those limits still exist -- and without
crossing them, Chavez's regime may have run out of the resources it needs to survive.
As the Castro regime in Cuba has demonstrated, a moribund authoritarian system can
take a long time dying. But the Castro brothers were serious about hanging on to power.
Chavismo was serious about nothing.
Venezuela tense as opposition leader goes to court
By ANDREW ROSATI and JOSHUA GOODMAN February 19, 2014 1:33 PM
Venezuela Opposition Leader Surrenders to Police
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Following a dramatic surrender and a night in jail,
Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was due in court Wednesday to learn what
charges he may face for allegedly provoking violence during protests against the socialist
government in the divided nation.
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Authorities have accused Lopez of inciting clashes that have led to the deaths of at least
five people over the past week — most recently a female university student who was a
former beauty queen — and of attempting to destabilize President Nicolas Maduro's
government. The specific charges will be disclosed at a closed court hearing before a
judge in downtown Caracas.
Lopez, who has emerged in recent months as a new, more aggressive face of Venezuela's
opposition, told thousands of cheering supporters who watched his surrender on Tuesday
that he does not fear imprisonment if it will help undo what he considers the damage
done by 15 years of socialist rule launched by the late Hugo Chavez.
"If my jailing serves to awaken a people, serves to awaken Venezuela ... then it will be
well worth the infamous imprisonment imposed upon me directly, with cowardice," he
shouted through a megaphone from atop a statue of 19th century Cuban independence
hero Jose Marti in a Caracas plaza.
Waving a flower over his head, Lopez then pushed his way through the crowd to a police
line and was whisked away in an armored vehicle to spend the night in a military prison
outside the capital.
Friends and allies say the steely resolve exhibited by the 42-year-old Lopez is typical of
the man who competes in triathlons, practices extreme sports and once escaped from gunfiring bandits while stumping for votes in a pro-government slum. That resolve has been
evident in recent months as he emerged as head of an increasingly powerful opposition
faction that is pushing for a stronger, but nonviolent confrontation with the government.
There was no major protest violence in the capital following Lopez's surrender, but at
least 11 people were injured in Valencia, the country's third largest city.
Enzo Scrano, mayor of a Valencia district and an opposition member, said at least three
people were shot by unknown gunmen on motorcycles and several others had wounds
from rubber bullets.
One of those shot was a 22-year-old university student, and former Miss Tourism for the
northern state of Carabobo, who died from her wounds on Wednesday, Scrano said.
While opposition leaders have complained for years about a government crackdown on
dissent, foreign governments have shown scant interest in pressing Maduro since he was
elected 10 months ago to succeed Chavez. But Lopez's arrest could bring international
pressure comparable to the rebuke Russian President Vladimir Putin that suffered after
jailing activist punk rockers Pussy Riot, said Michael Shifter, president of the InterAmerican Dialogue.
Human rights groups have condemned the charges against Lopez as being based on
conspiracy theories rather than criminal evidence. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier
warned that arresting him would have a "chilling effect" on freedom of expression.
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The protests have come amid increasing hardships that the opposition blames on the
government, including rampant violent crime, 56 percent inflation, frequent failures of
the electric grid and shortages of many basic goods.
Some Venezuelans say becoming a cause celebre was Lopez's plan all along, with the
charismatic, Harvard-educated leader seeking to catapult past the opposition's two-time
losing presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, and lead the charge against the
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is flanked by Bolivarian National Guards after Lopez
surrendered, i …
Lopez draws inspiration from what he says is a family history of dissent. He says he's a
distant relative of independence hero Simon Bolivar, whose reputation as a renegade
earned him as much mistrust as acclaim in his day but was an idol of Chavez, Maduro's
mentor. Lopez's great-grandfather was jailed for 14 years for opposing Juan Vicente
Gomez's dictatorship, and other relatives were forced into exile.
"I come from a family in which persecution in one form or another has been part of our
history," he told The Associated Press in an interview last March. "I'm ready to let history
say that I stayed loyal to that conviction of fighting for the Venezuela that I believe in."
But critics say he's putting personal ambitions and other people's lives ahead of
opposition unity after years of hard-fought electoral gains.
His fiery rhetoric and elite background — he studied economics in the U.S. on a
swimming scholarship and speaks fluent English — make him an improbable figure to
build bridges with the poor Venezuelans who elected Maduro and who, while
increasingly dissatisfied with his handling of the economy, jealously guard their social
gains under Chavez.
"The middle-class (protesters) on the street don't represent the masses," said Carlos
Romero, a political scientist at Central University of Venezuela.
Lopez debuted in politics at age 29, when he was elected mayor of Caracas' Chacao
district, a wealthy opposition stronghold that's the epicenter of the past week's violent
clashes between students and police.
When he left office in 2008 with sky-high popularity ratings, he set his sight on higher
office, but the government banned him from running on what he says were trumped up
influence peddling charges. He won a challenge before the Inter-American Court of
Human Rights, but Venezuela's government has not reinstated his political rights.
Lopez backed Capriles' first presidential run in 2012 and again in the snap election last
year to pick Chavez's successor.
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But after opposition candidates fared worse than expected in December's mayoral
elections, Lopez and his Popular Will party have taken the lead of a splinter faction that
accuses Capriles of meek leadership. Its slogan: "The Exit," for the Twitter hashtag that's
mobilized tens of thousands of protesters nationwide.
After shaking Maduro's government like never before, Lopez now faces his biggest test.
If convicted, he could face years in jail.
He said he's willing to pay the price so his two young children will grow up in a more
democratic Venezuela.
"In the innocent eyes of my children, who still don't know what really is happening in this
country, I've found the strength I need to fight for a Venezuela that will be much better
for them and for all the children," Lopez said in a video recorded on the eve of his arrest
and posted online Tuesday night.
Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas and Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru,
contributed to this report.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Venezuela's violent crime fuels the death business
By Andrew Cawthorne and Carlos Garcia Rawlins 3 hours ago
Atilio Gonzalez (C), a priest of the Southern Cemetery for the last 24 years, prays during
a burial ceremony …
By Andrew Cawthorne and Carlos Garcia Rawlins
CARACAS (Reuters) - Strewn with smashed headstones, empty whisky bottles and the
odd spent bullet casing, Caracas' 19th century Southern Cemetery is a sprawling symbol
of the violent crime engulfing Venezuela.
Grave diggers tell of attacks on mourners by gunmen from the surrounding slums, drugfueled parties at tombs, and night-time desecration of graves to steal bones for rituals.
Corpses of murder victims are brought in daily, mostly young men gunned down in gang
"Violence is the modern fashion in Venezuela. Not just the killing, but they way they
behave around the dead," says Oscar Arias, 50, who has dug graves here for 33 years and
recently buried his own nephew, who was shot in a nearby slum.
Arias and the other 44 members of his grave diggers' cooperative are never short of work.
Both the official national rate of 39 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013 and a tally of
double that from monitoring group the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVA) make
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Venezuela an international leader in homicides, vying with gang-plagued nations such as
Honduras and El Salvador.
A perpetually edgy city full of guns, Caracas' murder rate is more than 100 per 100,000
residents, according to OVA. The government does not publish an official figure.
By comparison, the United States' current rate is about 4.7 deaths per 100,000.
A decades-old problem in Venezuela, armed robberies, kidnappings and murders climbed
during the 1999-2013 rule of President Hugo Chavez, despite his anti-poverty programs.
Even official figures show the murder rate doubling in that time.
Critics blame a corrupt and broken judicial system, from the local police station up to the
Supreme Court. "Chavistas" point to the influence of "capitalist evils" such as drug
trafficking and violent U.S. TV shows.
Whatever the causes, Venezuelans across the political spectrum agree crime is their No. 1
problem and it is a major complaint fuelling recent political protests and unrest.
Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro has declared it the priority for his six-year term. "Put
your arms down! Stop the violence!" he thunders over-and-over in speeches.
As well as grave diggers, there is no lack of demand for undertakers, tomb-chisellers,
flower-sellers, permit-handlers and a plethora of other mini-businesses purveying to
Police officers inspect the body of a dead gunshot victim on a street in Caracas December
5, 2012. R …
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"Mondays are the busiest. They kill more people at the weekends," says Jhonny Aguilar,
24, describing his work matter-of-factly as he picks up bodies from a morgue to wash and
dress at La Central undertaker's in west Caracas.
Upstairs from him and next to a huge oven on La Central's top floor, Giovanni Vespoli
bakes photos of the dead onto ceramic for use on marble headstones, at between 1,3001,600 bolivars ($206-254) each, in a country where many earn the minimum wage of
about 3,300 bolivars a month.
"Having a funeral parlor is a money-maker. There are deaths here, there and everywhere,
the situation is out of control," says Vespoli, 28, who can bake 90 images on a busy day.
So terrified of crime are the middle- and upper-classes that some affluent Caracas
neighborhoods are like ghost towns from as early as 8 p.m. The few vehicles out tend to
shoot through red lights in case of carjack, while friends and relatives call or text each
other to confirm they got home safely.
"Express kidnappings", where victims are snatched for a few hours while families pay a
ransom or they are made to withdraw as much money as possible from cash machines,
are common.
Oswaldo Rivas (L) and Jhonny Aguilar prepare the corpse of a male gunshot victim at an
undertaker …
Embassies and foreign businesses in Venezuela discourage expatriates with children from
coming given the risks.
The British School in Caracas, for example, has barely any British kids. Most are from
wealthy local families who often drop off kids in armored cars with guards present.
Worst-hit though are the poor barrios where police often dare not enter, gangs rule,
murders are routine, and stray gunfire sometimes takes out innocents, leaving parents in
fear when children play outside or go to and from school.
The fear over violent crime crystallized this year around the murder of a beloved former
beauty queen and soap opera star, Monica Spear.
Gustavo Gomez Moron (C), a journalist of Venevision television network, records his
report at a morg …
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On holiday from the United States to show off her homeland to her five-year-old
daughter, Spear exuded pride and happiness in photos posted to social media from
various beauty spots.
That all came to an end when robbers blocked and ambushed her car on a highway after
dark. They shot her and her ex-husband dead in front of the little girl.
Overnight, Spear became a national symbol of the crime wave.
As well as an outpouring of grief, her death prompted Maduro and his rival, opposition
leader Henrique Capriles, to shake hands in a meeting about crime, the first time they had
come face-to-face since a bitterly-disputed election last year.
Police have arrested about half a dozen men over the killings. At least one of them had a
history of violent crime.
A worker carries the remains of a person following the cremation at a crematorium near
Caracas July …
"There is so much impunity in this country that it's totally normal for a criminal to
commit a crime and simply pay the police if by chance he's detained, or the prosecutor, or
the judge, or the jailer so that he can go free," says Roberto Briceno Leon, an academic
who runs the OVV.
The group says the murder rate has risen from about 19 per 100,000 people in 1998 to
about 79 last year - or nearly 25,000 in total in 2013 - with no arrests in 90 percent of
Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, an army major-general once jailed with
Chavez for a failed coup attempt, says the OVV data is inflated.
He says the figure actually dropped by about a quarter last year to 39 per 100,000, from a
record high of 52 in 2012, thanks to a government anti-crime drive called the Safe
Homeland Plan that includes more soldiers on the streets.
"We're not happy, but we are optimistic," he told Reuters at a flashy new surveillance
center in Caracas where policemen track streets via new cameras and even a small drone.
A worker grinds the remains of a person following the cremation at a crematorium near
Caracas July 1 …
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He accused the OVV, private media and opposition politicians of trying to heighten
perceptions of widespread insecurity and inaction by the government.
Beyond the debate over data, there is a huge divergence of opinion on the causes of
crime. "Chavistas" point to the poverty and inequality which they say characterized four
decades of rule by traditional parties prior to Chavez.
Neighboring Colombia's relatively successful pacification of guerrilla and paramilitary
bands also drove guns and criminal know-how across the border, they add.
Critics, though, say such talk is a smokescreen. If poverty levels fell dramatically and
capitalism lost ground under Chavez, they ask, why did crime rise?
The government is responsible, the opposition argues, for being soft on crime, for
politicizing and corrupting institutions such as the judiciary, and for glorifying violence
in public discourse.
They point to government leaders' often-bellicose language and the annual celebration of
Chavez's 1992 coup attempt as implicit endorsements of violence.
"It's so sad. Young people grow up here with gunmen on motor-bikes for role models,"
muses Atilio Gonzalez, 60, a priest whose sun-tanned face and worldly-wise demeanor
bear out the 24 years he has spent at the Southern Cemetery.
Trudging to his next funeral on a scorching afternoon, Gonzalez says the Brazilian-style
raids on slum gangs that some want here would not work.
"When Christ preached to the people, first he made sure they had bread to eat. The people
need food, a roof, education and health before you can start changing things," says
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Relatives of a gunshot victim cry over his coffin during his funeral ceremony in Caracas
November 27 …
Despite ever-growing demand for their services, the funeral businesses in Caracas are
hardly happy. They complain of a lack of respect for the dead, with many mourners
drinking, partying and joking around coffins. Undertakers say fights, and even some fatal
shootings, have occurred on their premises during wakes.
Sometimes, motorcycle gangs hijack hearses en route to cemeteries, putting a gun to the
driver's head to make him parade a friend's coffin around their neighborhood as a final
farewell before burial.
Then there are Venezuela's tough economic realities.
The government wants to cap prices for funeral services, shortages of products from
marble to screws are widespread, and few people can afford top-end coffins or tombs.
"Venezuela was a paradise when I arrived," says Laudelino Morales, a 76-year-old
Spanish immigrant who has spent half a century chiseling tomb-stones, in his dustcovered workshop round the corner from the Southern Cemetery.
"Now it's a No. 1 disaster."
(Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Kieran Murray and Martin Howell)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Tense Venezuela awaits ruling on opposition leader
By BEN FOX Associated Press
Posted: 02/19/2014 08:25:32 AM MST | Updated: about 16 hours ago
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 22
CARACAS, Venezuela—Violence is heating up in Venezuela as the oil-rich country waits to
find out the fate of a jailed opposition leader the government blames for a week of
demonstrations that have left six dead and at least 100 injured.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who dramatically surrendered to authorities before
thousands of cheering supporters this week, was supposed to appear before a judge inside a
military jail Wednesday to learn what charges he might face for the mass protests that have
rejuvenated the challenge to President Nicolas Maduro's government.
The outcome of the hearing had not been announced by late Wednesday, but Maduro
suggested in a nationally broadcast speech that Lopez would remain in custody and face
criminal charges.
"I said, 'Send him to jail,' and that's what happened and that's what will happen with all of
the fascists," Maduro said in a speech that lasted more than two hours. "I won't allow him to
challenge the people of Venezuela, the constitution."
The government has accused Lopez, a 42-year-old former mayor and the leader of the
Popular Will party, of attempting to foment a coup in the South American nation and
authorities had said he could face charges that include homicide and causing grievous bodily
As the waiting dragged into the night, anti-government protesters in Caracas and other
cities set trash fires in streets and threw rocks at National Guard troops, who fired tear gas,
water cannons and rubber bullets. Gunfire was heard in downtown Caracas while Maduro
was on television. There was no immediate word on whether there were any new casualties.
Demonstrators are protesting Lopez's detention as well as the rampant crime, shortages of
consumer goods and inflation rate of more than 50 percent that has made life difficult for
many in the country of nearly 30 million people.
The president said he would take harsh measures in Tachira, an opposition stronghold on
the nation's western border with Colombia where there have been fierce clashes between
security forces and opposition protesters.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 23
A demonstrator raises his arms toward the Bolivarian National Police (BNP) firing tear gas and a water canon in the Altamira
neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Venezuelan security forces backed by water tanks and
tear gas dispersed groups of anti-government demonstrators who tried to block Caracas' main highway Wednesday
evening. ((AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd))
Maduro said he was prepared to declare a "state of exception," a form of martial law.
"If I have to decree a state of exception for Tachira and send in the tanks, I am ready to do
it," he warned.
Early on Wednesday, hundreds of Lopez's supporters waited outside a courthouse for news
of his legal fate, watched over by National Guard troops. Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a
member of a different opposition party, showed up at one point in a sign of unity among the
various foes of the Maduro government.
"We are all united in demanding the release of Leopoldo Lopez," Ledezma said. "We are
rallying behind him."
The crowd drifted away after hours of waiting when officials decided to hold the court
hearing at the military jail outside the city where Lopez was being detained.
A protester wearing a painter's mask helps build a barricade against the advance of a police water cannon in the Altamira
neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Venezuelan security forces backed by water tanks and
tear gas dispersed groups of anti-government demonstrators who tried to block Caracas' main highway Wednesday
evening. ((AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra))
The opposition is planning marches across the country Saturday to protest Lopez's jailing,
which has made him a cause celebre among opponents of Maduro. It's helping him to
eclipse to some degree Henrique Capriles, the opposition's two-time losing presidential
candidate who was building support for another challenge in two years.
Capriles attended a rally on Feb. 12 in Caracas led by Lopez but did not appear on the stage
to address the masses of demonstrators. Clashes with police erupted afterward, after the
opposition leaders and most of the protesters had left, and resulted in three deaths. In
Twitter messages Wednesday, Capriles accused the government of infiltrating opposition
demonstrations to provoke violence.
On Tuesday in Valencia, the third largest city, National Guard troops shot rubber bullets
and unknown gunman on motorcycles fired live rounds at protesters. Genesis Carmona, a
22-year-old university student who had been Miss Tourism 2013 for the state of Carabobo,
was struck in the head and killed by a bullet, a death that reverberated in a country that
prizes beauty queens.
The troubles spread on Wednesday, including a significant clash in the wealthy Altamira
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 24
district of Caracas. In southern Bolivar state, gunman firing from a rooftop at a progovernment rally killed one person and wounded four, Gov. Francisco Rangel Gomez said.
Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez, Joshua Goodman and Andrew Rosati contributed
to this report.
Granma Internacional, Havana. February 19, 2014
Cuban cigars, a tradition of excellence
Livia Rodríguez Delis
The story goes that, in 1492, when Christopher Columbus and his crew landed on this
beautiful Caribbean island, they were seduced by the aroma of a mysterious leaf which
the natives, who called it cohíba, rolled up and burned.
From that moment on, tobacco began its long journey
around the world and is currently cultivated and sold in
many locations, although with perceptible differences from
that grown in Cuba for more than 500 years.
The Cigar Festival continues to
honor the world’s best tobacco.
Black tobacco is unique in its texture, taste and fragrance, as a result of the combination
of four elements only found here: soil, climate, the variety planted and traditions
followed by Cuban growers and cigar rollers.
Connoisseurs of the Cuban habano will gather for the 16th Havana Cigar Festival
February 24-28, to enjoy and evaluate their favorite smoke.
Dedicated this year to the brands Hoyo de Monterrey, Partagás, Trinidad and H.
Upmann, the event provides the opportunity for enthusiasts from more than 60
countries to gather and learn more about the featured brands, other Cuban products and
the tobacco growing province of Pinar del Río.
Special attention will be afforded new products being introduced on the world market in
2014; special releases to be distributed through the Casa del Habano national network; a
long ash competition and a cigars in visual art contest, entitled Habano en imágenes.
As is customary, included on the program are visits to plantations and cigar factories;
humidor auctions; the Habano sommelier contest; the presentation of Habanos 2013
awards; and the commercial fair to promote contact between international distributors
and Cuba’s cigar industry, to develop ties with other brands and luxury products around
the world.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 25
To be celebrated this year is the 170th anniversary of
the prestigious trademark H. Upmann. Ana López,
Habanos S. A. marketing director, recounted the
history of Cuban cigar brands which began in the
19th century. H. Upmann was founded in 1844 and
has continued its development to become available
in 150 countries. Sales of H. Upmann cigars
represent 4% of the company’s income.
Areas where tobacco for habanos can be
cultivated are limited to a few regions on
the island.
Given that on a world level tobacco is increasingly
smoked outdoors and in the summer months, Habanos S.A. has created a promotional
strategy reflecting his trend.
"During this year’s elite event, two important moments will occur, an alliance with
Belgian and Cuban beers, principally, and with cocktails based on vodka. Both are
products linked to summer and are not usually considered after dinner drinks."
Gourmet cooking will also be represented at the Festival, during the evening dedicated to
the Trinidad brand, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Dutch chef Ron Blaauw,
recognized internationally with two Michelín stars, has designed the menu, according to
Ana López.
"There is a growing tendency among smokers to age the product for at least five years, to
better appreciate its other organoleptic characteristics and during the Festival we are
going to devote a special moment to tasting an aged cigar, with a master class entitled
Habanos Vintage, by British expert Simon Chase.
Prior to a lecture on the elements which influence the combustibility of a cigar, by
Vladimir Andino, president of the Tabacuba company, the ‘longest ash’ competition will
be held.
The specialist clarified that this novel event demonstrates the quality of Cuban cigars,
since only a well-conceived product, manufactured with quality prime material, smoked
by an experienced consumer, can maintain a long ash.
Ana López added that the quality of all stages of the production process are made evident
in the ash.
She reported that growers – principally in Pinar del Río where the greatest volume of raw
material is produced – have been engaged in a constant struggle against inclement
weather, related to climate change.
"Unfortunately, over the last few months, the rains have been very heavy and this has
produced some damage to crops. Replanting has been necessary on several occasions,
requiring considerable effort on the part of growers, to attempt to reduce as much as
possible the impact on cigar production."
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 26
Nevertheless, she said, the Cuban industry is prepared to meet this challenge. For several
years now, work has been underway to ensure a stocked supply of raw material, to be
used in the event of such adversities.
La Habana, 19 de febrero de 2014
Miriam Leiva, Periodista Independiente
Las directivas de negociación para un diálogo político bilateral y un acuerdo de
cooperación con Cuba fueron aprobados unánimemente por los ministros de Relaciones
Exteriores de la Unión Europea el 10 de febrero, culminando un proceso iniciado en 2008
mediante consultas bilaterales con el gobierno cubano. La Posición Común adoptada en
1996 se mantendrá vigente durante esta etapa. Existen opiniones en contra de su
eliminación, sin embargo debe tenerse en cuenta lo ocurrido en los 17 años desde su
aprobación, y la posibilidad de que un nuevo mecanismo abra mayores posibilidades al
progreso de Cuba y su sociedad civil.
La Posición Común procura contribuir al desarrollo económico, social y de la sociedad
civil, asi como al respeto de los derechos humanos en el tránsito hacia la democracia. En
1996, Cuba aun atravesaba los más duros años del Período Especial y Fidel Castro había
autorizado cierta apertura económica –mercados campesinos, algunos cuentapropistas,
flexibilidad a las entidades estatales, empresas mixtas e inversiones con capital
extranjero. La crisis y esas medidas podían estimular la esperanza de cambios paulatinos
en el sistema, pero el fortalecimiento de Hugo Chávez y la llegada del petróleo de
Venezuela comenzaron a revertir el proceso. Sin embargo, se produjo el acercamiento a
la Unión Europea mediante negociaciones entre 2001 y 2002, y en enero de 2003 se
presentó oficialmente la solicitud de adhesión al llamado Acuerdo de Cotonu de
preferencias comerciales y cooperación con los países de Africa-Caribe-Pacífico (ACP),.
El 12 de marzo de ese año, el Comisario Europeo para Desarrollo y Ayuda Humanitaria,
Sr. Poul Nielson, inauguró la sede de la Delegación de la UE en La Habana. Pero al
parecer las autoridades cubanas contaban ya con la seguridad de petrodólares
venezolanos, empezaron a desmontar la limitada apertura económica y retiraron la
solicitud de ingreso al acuerdo con la UE. La sociedad civil independiente se había
fortalecido, por lo que entre el 18 y 20 de marzo lanzaron la ola represiva que llevó a
prisión a 75 personas pacificas con condenas de hasta 28 años de cárcel y en abril
fusilaron a tres jóvenes que erróneamente intentaron secuestrar un barco para salir del
país. La Unión Europea tuvo una respuesta digna de condena y reconocimiento público
de la oposición interna, con la respuesta del gobierno cubano congelando las relaciones.
En 2004, al tomar posesión el gobierno de José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, su canciller
Moratinos concertó con el gobierno cubano la normalización las relaciones, sacar a la
oposición de las embajadas y eliminar la Posición Común auspiciada por España, cuando
aún la represión era intensísima y la mayoría de los 75 estaban en terribles prisiones. Al
llegar Raúl Castro a la presidencia de Cuba a mediados de 2006 encontró el país en una
profunda crisis, que no solo demandaba modificaciones económicas internas, sino
apertura internacional, por lo inició un proceso en ambos sentidos. Las limitadas
reformas emprendidas propiciaron el reinicio del diálogo político entre la UE y el
gobierno cubano en 2008, y la excarcelación de los prisioneros de los 75 contribuyó en
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 27
2010 a que la Alta Representante de Política Exterior de la UE, Catherine Ashton,
recibiera el mandato de elaborar recomendaciones sobre las relaciones con Cuba,
mientras permanecía en vigor la Posición Común. En febrero de 2014, los 28 países de la
UE aprobaron las directivas de negociación para un diálogo político bilateral y proponer
la negociación de un acuerdo de cooperación. Desde La Habana se contestó a través de
una declaración a nivel de viceministro de Relaciones Exteriores que la invitación sería
considerada, aunque debe estar pactada.
En realidad, 17 de los 28 países miembros de la Unión Europea tienen acuerdos de
colaboración bilateral con el gobierno de Cuba, incluso algunos de los más reticentes a
levantar la Posición Común, de manera que los restantes están aislados, incluida España.
La Unión Europea es un notable inversor en Cuba, el segundo socio comercial –después
de Venezuela- y también segundo emisor de turistas, desarrolla una apreciable
cooperación e incide culturalmente desde hace siglos, lo que debería ampliarse.
En caso de llegarse a acuerdo, la Posición Común podría dejar de ser un pretexto del
gobierno cubano para justificar los desaciertos y reprimir cualquiera opinión discordante.
El normal desempeño de los integrantes comunitarios en Cuba y el diálogo conjunto de
la UE podria tener mayor eficacia, incluidas sus recomendaciones en cuanto al respeto de
los derechos humanos y el tratamiento a la oposición pacífica interna. No obstante, el
presente y el futuro de nuestro país dependen de nosotros, todos los cubanos.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------¿EMBARGO COMERCIAL ESTADOUNIDENSE Y POSICION
La Habana, 19 de febrero de 2014
Miriam Leiva, Periodista Independiente
Por estos días irrumpen nuevamente las opiniones sobre las relaciones de Estados Unidos
con Cuba, y las negociaciones entre la Unión Europea y el gobierno cubano para
establecer un convenio de cooperación, focalizadas en la discusión sobre la vigencia del
embargo comercial establecido por Washington en 1962 y la Posición Común de 1996
auspiciada por Madrid. En la Cuba actual, es aconsejable estar para conocer y participar,
interactuando con su sociedad en todas las esferas: científico-técnica, académica, cultural,
musical, deportiva, cuyas experiencias nutren los valores democráticos.
Durante sus 52 años, el embargo comercial, complementado por dos leyes posteriores,
no ha cumplido el objetivo de ahogar económicamente al gobierno cubano, tanto por la
ayuda de los países comunistas europeos y luego de Venezuela, como porque ha sido
aplicado prácticamente por solo un país. Además, el embargo es contraproducente, al
impedir a Estados Unidos estar en la isla, a pesar de que ocupa el quinto lugar en el
comercio de Cuba, por la venta de alimentos; es la segunda fuente de divisas
fundamentalmente por las remesas, y el tercer emisor de visitantes debido a los cubanoamericanos y norteamericanos autorizados por su país a viajar aca. En momentos cuando
Raúl Castro emprende limitadas reformas económicas y se acerca el inevitable proceso de
transición, países como Brasil (Puerto de Mariel con miras al comercio y el turismo con
Estados Unidos), y México se posicionan ventajosamente antes de la llegada de las
competitivas empresas norteamericanas.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 28
Más de dos millones de cubanos y cubano-americanos han progresado gracias a las
oportunidades brindadas por la democracia norteamericana. Si bien muchas personas
perdieron sus propiedades, sus familias se dividieron, y otras sufrieron cárcel y
fusilamiento, hay nuevas generaciones deseosas de eliminar la confrontación y participar
a la reconstrucción de Cuba. Tambien en los últimos años ha ocurrido el cambio en las
mentes de los cubanos de la isla, que se expresan descreídos de las promesas
incumplidas por el gobierno, la precaria subsistencia y las inmensas prohibiciones,
mientras la mayoría de los jóvenes no tienen posibilidades de labrar el presente para
tener un futuro y lamentablemente desean emigrar.
La política proactiva aplicada por la Administración Obama está teniendo un impacto
positivo en la población cubana que puede mejorar sus paupérrimas condiciones de vida
y crear pequeños negocios gracias al envió de dinero por familiares y amigos, asi como
recibir nuevos conocimientos e ideas durante sus visitas. Gran repercusión también tiene
la participación de cubanos en diversas manifestaciones culturales, científicas,
académicas y deportivas en Estados Unidos, y la de norteamericanos en Cuba. Sería muy
positivo incrementar la diplomacia pueblo a pueblo mediante la llegada de miles de
norteamericanos, si los legisladores de Estado Unidos levantaran la prohibición
existente, siendo Cuba el único lugar al que no pueden viajar libremente.
Recientemente Alfonso Fanjul recorrió su país, lo cual ha ocasionado gran revuelo
especialmente en Florida. No parece tratarse de una utopía o idealismo nostálgico, pues
debe hacer sido doloroso visitar las valiosísimas propiedades confiscadas a su familia.
Evidencia realismo. Sus centrales azucareros, cañaverales y otras industrias están
destruidas o demolidas, pero pudo tomar el pulso de la situación actual y contactar a la
población. Al igual que los chinos de ultramar –incluida Taipei- se establecieron en el
continente al abrirse las oportunidades, los cubanos residentes en el exterior podrían
desempeñar un papel importante. Por supuesto, se requieren como mínimo dos
condiciones: una nueva ley de inversiones cubana con garantías y levantamiento del
embargo estadounidense que lo permita.
En cuanto a la Posición Común de la Unión Europea, no se eliminó a principios de
febrero al aprobarse el inicio de la negociación para un diálogo político bilateral y un
acuerdo de cooperación con Cuba que podría desbloquear las relaciones y hacer más
eficiente la presencia de sus integrantes. De hecho actualmente es discriminatoria para los
países que no han establecido acuerdos bilaterales con el gobierno cubano, pues 17 de los
28 ya los tienen. La Unión Europea es uno de los principales inversores en Cuba, el
segundo socio comercial –después de Venezuela-, y también el segundo emisor de
turistas, desarrolla una apreciable cooperación e incide culturalmente desde hace siglos,
lo que podría ampliarse.
Las autoridades de Cuba ha utilizado el embargo y la Posición Común para su
propaganda justificativa de los descalabros de los programas voluntaristas, asi como para
reprimir cualquiera opinión discordante. La coordinación entre Estados Unidos y la
Unión Europea puede lograr mayores avances y ser beneficiosa para el pueblo cubano.
Un paso importante será la excarcelación del contratista norteamericano Alan Gross.
Asimismo, será esencial que el gobierno cubano respete los derechos de los ciudadanos,
en particular de la oposición pacífica.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 29
Proyecciones macroeconómicas de una Cuba sin Venezuela
Por Pavel Vidal Alejandro
20 de Febrero de 2014
(Este trabajo ha sido publicado como el ejemplar No. 24 de la serie “Desde la Isla” del
Cuba Study Group. Se reproduce a continuación el texto pero no se incluyen los gráficos
que pueden verse en el original en
esde inicios de la década pasada la economía cubana ha venido incrementando
sistemáticamente sus relaciones con Venezuela. Actualmente el comercio de bienes representa
el 40% del intercambio total de la isla, muy por encima del segundo lugar ocupado por China con
12,5%. En este porcentaje pesa sobre todo la importación de petróleo venezolano; en 2011 la
factura llegó a US$2.759 millones. La importación del crudo venezolano cubre el 60% de la
demanda nacional y además permite la reexportación de una parte del mismo. Solo el 50% del
pago de las importaciones de crudo venezolano se efectúa dentro de los primeros 90 días, el
restante 50% se acumula en una deuda a pagarse en 25 años con un tipo de interés del 1%
Por el lado de las exportaciones cubanas la relación entre los dos países también ha crecido
significativa mediante la comercialización de servicios profesionales, en particular mediante los
servicios médicos. Un aproximado de 40.000 profesionales cubanos, 30.000 en sanidad, se
encuentran radicados temporalmente en Venezuela para provisionar dichos servicios. En 2011
se puede estimar a través de los datos del anuario de la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas e
Información de Cuba (ONEI) un valor de US$5.400 millones por exportaciones asociadas a este
Las relaciones entre las dos naciones también incluyen agregados como la inversión y el crédito,
factores que son más difíciles de cuantificar y de los cuales solo existe información dispersa.
Tras la enfermedad y posterior muerte del presidente Hugo Chávez los riesgos de sufrir las
consecuencias del colapso de la relaciones se pusieron sobre el tapete. Muchas han sido las
hipótesis que se han esgrimido sobre las consecuencias que puede tener sobre la economía
cubana un cambio de gobierno en Venezuela. Parece existir un consenso en concluir que las
consecuencias serían fatales. Pero, realmente, ¿cuán fatales podrían ser esas consecuencias
medidas en términos macroeconómicos? ¿Cuánto depende realmente Cuba de Venezuela?
¿Es mayor o menor que la dependencia que existía con la extinta Unión Soviética (URSS)?
Los problemas económicos actuales en Venezuela y las inestabilidades y tensiones políticas
bajo el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, vuelven a colocar en primera línea el tema de la
vulnerabilidad de la economía cubana en relación a sus vínculos con Venezuela.
A continuación se presentan algunas estimaciones y análisis con el objetivo de contribuir al
debate relacionado con dichas interrogantes.1
No es posible medir el verdadero valor y significado para la economía cubana de las relaciones
con Venezuela, únicamente podemos aproximar el tamaño relativo y su evolución en el tiempo a
partir de algún indicador con el que guarde una relación estrecha. Para ello empleamos como
variable proxy el valor del intercambio comercial entre los dos países (suma del valor de las
exportaciones e importaciones de bienes y servicios), llevado a precios constantes de 1997 y
expresado como proporción del PIB.
Estaríamos suponiendo que la trayectoria del intercambio comercial aproxima la evolución en el
tiempo de los vínculos económicos y financieros entre las dos naciones.
Para poder predecir los efectos del “shock venezolano” en la economía cubana tenemos que
buscar información histórica. Cuba ya tuvo un tipo de relación similar en el pasado con la Unión
Soviética y sufrió un shock similar en los años 90. La ocurrencia anterior de dicho evento es lo
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 30
que permite construir una proyección de lo que sucedería tras un rompimiento de los vínculos
con Venezuela. Es importante precisar que, la información histórica disponible sobre lo sucedido
en la macroeconomía cubana tras la desaparición de la URSS se utiliza, pero se atempera y
acomoda a los datos presentes y a las relaciones macroeconómicas actuales.
Primero que todo, construimos la serie histórica que aproxima la dependencia de Cuba a un
“país aliado” con el cual se tienen relaciones económicas especiales, es decir, no basada en
criterios puramente de mercado sino en una alianza entre gobiernos y las empresas estatales de
cada país, lo cual involucra subsidios, precios alejados de los internacionales, facilidades
crediticias, trueque de mercancías o servicios, proyectos inversionistas apoyados y financiados
oficialmente, etc.
Durante el período estimado, esto ha sucedido con dos naciones, primero con la extinta URSS y
ahora con Venezuela.
El gráfico 1 muestra la evolución aproximada de la dependencia al “país aliado”, a partir del peso
del intercambio comercial dentro del PIB, llevado a precios constantes.
En los años 1980-1993 se calcula este porcentaje utilizando el intercambio con la extinta URSS y
en los años 2001-2012 se emplea el intercambio comercial con Venezuela, que son los años en
que la mayoría de los autores reconocen la presencia de vínculos especiales entre estas
naciones y Cuba (dentro del período que estamos empleando para la estimación).
En los años 1994-2000 la serie histórica toma valor cero pues Cuba no contó con relaciones
económicas de la misma naturaleza con país alguno.2
Gráfico 1. Cuba: Evolución de la dependencia al “país aliado”, aproximada por valor del
intercambio comercial como proporción del PIB.
(Intercambio comercial de bienes y servicios con el país aliado a precios constantes de 1997 / PIB a precios
constantes de 1997. En el período 1989-1993 se toma el intercambio con la URSS y en 2001-2012 se toma
el intercambio con Venezuela)
Fuente: Elaboración propia en base a datos del Anuario Estadístico de la ONEI
Se observa en el gráfico que la dependencia del PIB cubano en los años ochenta a la URSS fue
más alta que la dependencia a Venezuela desde los años dos mil. El dato de mayor dependencia
para este período es el propio 1980 en el cual el intercambio comercial con la URSS llegó al
39,3% del PIB; desde entonces presentó una tendencia decreciente hasta que se precipitó a
partir de 1991.
Antes de la debacle, en 1990, las relaciones comerciales con la URSS representaban el 28,2%
del PIB mientras que actualmente con Venezuela (específicamente en 2012) el porcentaje es de
18,3%, es decir, 10 puntos menos. Este primer indicador nos sugiere que, en principio, un
rompimiento de los vínculos con Venezuela debería tener un impacto negativo significativo sobre
la economía cubana, pero menor que el experimentado en los años noventa tras la desaparición
de la URSS.
A continuación se desarrolla con mayor amplitud el escenario de enfriamiento de los vínculos
entre Cuba y Venezuela. Se elaboran las proyecciones partiendo del año 2013 cundo ocurrieron
las elecciones en Venezuela tras la muerte de Chávez, no obstante, es válido el análisis también
para tener una idea de lo que podría suceder en los próximos años si tiene lugar un shock de
esta naturaleza. Más que los valores específicos de los impactos, que no son posibles predecir
sin un alto grado de error, lo más interesante es tener una impresión aproximada de la
vulnerabilidad de la economía cubana ante tal escenario.
Para ello, se estimó un modelo econométrico con un grupo de variables macroeconómicas que
guardan una relación significativa con el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB). Se empleó un modelo
econométrico de Vectores Autorregresivos (VAR) con datos anuales desde 1980 del PIB, las
exportaciones de bienes y servicios, la formación bruta de capital fijo (inversión) y el gasto fiscal,
todos a precios constantes de 1997. Además se incluye la evolución de los términos de
intercambio (precios de exportaciones / precio de importaciones). Se comprobó que el modelo
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 31
cumplía con los supuestos econométricos clásicos y que las funciones impulso respuesta
arrojaba valores significativos y con los signos esperados.
Además de las variables macroeconómicas consideradas, se añadió la serie histórica que
aproxima la dependencia de Cuba a un “país aliado”. Una vez estimado el modelo se
construyeron predicciones a mediano plazo (hasta 2018) para dos escenarios hipotéticos donde
se reducen gradualmente las relaciones con Venezuela. El supuesto de reducción gradual se
sustentaría en la dependencia que también presenta Venezuela de la importación de los
servicios profesionales cubanos, en particular, los servicios de los médicos cubanos en las
regiones y comunidades menos favorecidas del país andino, de los cuales no podría
desprenderse súbitamente un eventual gobierno no chavista. El desmantelamiento paulatino de
los vínculos con Venezuela podría tomarse como un escenario medio a partir del cual se tiene
también una idea de lo que podría suceder si ello ocurriese de manera más o menos acelerada.
Así, el modelo econométrico permite estimar la relación que la variable proxy de dependencia al
país aliado tiene con los principales agregados macroeconómicos. A partir de esta información
se construyen las predicciones para un escenario en el que los vínculos con el país aliado (en
este caso, Venezuela) se contraen gradualmente.
En el escenario 1 se supone que dicha dependencia (aproximada por el intercambio comercial),
se reduce gradualmente a partir de 2013 a una tasa de 0,3, que es lo habitual en la metodología
econométrica de construcción de variables de intervención de tipo cambio transitorio. Es decir,
cada año la variable tiene un valor que representa el 70% del año previo. En el gráfico 2 se
muestra esta trayectoria asumida en el escenario para los vínculos con Venezuela hasta 2018.
Gráfico 2. Cuba: Pronóstico del PIB ante una reducción de los lazos con Venezuela.
Escenario 1: Reducción gradual de los vínculos
Fuente: Elaboración propia en base a estimaciones econométricas con un modelo VAR
Suponiendo el comienzo del shock en 2013, el modelo proyecta una desaceleración inicial del
PIB ese mismo año, que se convierte en recesión al año siguiente, y de la cual no logra salirse
completamente hasta el 2018. El año de mayor caída del PIB ocurriría dos años después de que
comienzan a perderse las relaciones ventajosas con Venezuela, 2015 para el período que
estamos proyectando. A partir de 2016 la recesión se hace menor, hasta que en 2018 se obtiene
un discreto crecimiento positivo. En los cuatro años de crecimiento negativo se acumularía una
caída de 4% del PIB. En realidad, esta es una trayectoria de reducción de los vínculos más
suave que la que ocurrió tras la desaparición de la URSS. De ocurrir una caída más brusca de
los vínculos, evidentemente la recesión sería más profunda.
Por ejemplo, con el modelo se simuló un escenario 2 más extremo en el cual los vínculos con
Venezuela desaparecen siguiendo el mismo patrón que con la URSS, lo cual seguiría siendo
gradual pero con mayor celeridad. El resultado sería una contracción de alrededor del 7,7% en el
PIB, también como acumulado de cuatro años de recesión.
Gráfico 3. Cuba: Pronóstico del PIB ante una reducción de los lazos con Venezuela.
Escenario 2: Reducción de los vínculos al mismo ritmo que cayeron con la URSS
Fuente: Elaboración propia en base a estimaciones econométricas con un modelo VAR
En ambos casos se trataría de un decrecimiento de la economía mucho menor que el acontecido
tras la desaparición de la URSS, donde se acumuló un -35% entre 1990-1993. Lo anterior se
explica, principalmente, por la menor dependencia del PIB actual al intercambio con Venezuela,
aunque también hay otras explicaciones que comentamos más adelante. En resumen, la
proyección del PIB cubano tras un desmantelamiento paulatino de los vínculos con Venezuela
apunta a una recesión, no tan marcada como en los años noventa, pero igual de extendida en el
tiempo, y que obviamente generaría grandes tensiones para la economía, los ciudadanos y el
propio gobierno.
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La proyección del modelo también suministra trayectorias temporales 2013-2018 para el resto de
los agregados macroeconómicos considerados en la estimación, las cuales se interrelacionan
con la proyección que ya mostramos para el PIB. Ello brinda un panorama más amplio de los
efectos macroeconómicos que ocasionaría una reducción gradual de los vínculos con
Venezuela. En el gráfico 4 se muestran dichas proyecciones para el escenario 1, las cuales las
mostramos calculando para cada año el valor que alcanzarían en relación al valor que
presentaron en 2012, es decir, se expresan como índices con base igual a 1 en el año 2012.
Gráfico 4. Cuba: Pronósticos macroeconómicos ante una reducción de los lazos con Venezuela.
Escenario 1
(Índice año 2012=1)
Fuente: Elaboración propia en base a estimaciones econométricas con un modelo VAR
Se aprecia en el gráfico que, excepto las exportaciones reales, el resto de los indicadores
presentarían una tendencia negativa, evidenciando así su dependencia a las relaciones
especiales con Venezuela.
El agregado que evidencia en la proyección una mayor vulnerabilidad de mediano plazo a los
vínculos con Venezuela es la inversión; en el corto plazo (2013) no sufriría de inmediato una
contracción, pero para el 2018 habría acumulado una disminución del 25%, lo cual es coherente
con la cantidad de proyectos actuales de inversión en la Isla que cuentan con el apoyo financiero
directo o indirecto de las empresas estatales y el gobierno venezolano.
Le siguen, en segundo lugar, los términos de intercambio, los cuales caerían un 20% hasta el
2018, lo cual sabemos que se expresaría principalmente en el aumento de los precios de la
importación de petróleo y en una reducción de los precios en la exportación de servicios
Es muy probable que el gobierno cubano pueda reubicar una parte de la exportación de servicios
médicos hacia otros destinos geográficos, como lo ha venido haciendo principalmente hacia
Brasil. En la medida que suponemos un desmantelamiento gradual de los vínculos con
Venezuela, una sustitución paulatina de mercados se convierte en una estrategia más factible.
Esa posibilidad, más la tendencia positiva que han sostenido las exportaciones totales en los
últimos años, explican la proyección de una desaceleración pero no una disminución de las
exportaciones reales en el período 2013-2018. Esta es una diferencia crucial con la situación
previa a la crisis de los años noventa donde las exportaciones reales llevaban una década en
promedio estancadas.
La proyección de las exportaciones reales, de hecho, ayudan también a explicar el pronóstico
que veíamos de una recesión en el PIB pero no tan marcada como en los años noventa.
Lo anterior no quiere decir que el país no se enfrentará a unas restricciones de divisas más
difíciles, pues si bien el modelo proyecta un incremento de 14% a mediano plazo para las
exportaciones a precios constantes, también proyecta una caída del 20% en los términos de
intercambio, es decir, en términos corrientes las exportaciones estarían aportando una menor
cantidad relativa de divisas. Ello implica que tendrá que ocurrir un ajuste considerable en los
gastos de importación.
En el gráfico 5 se presenta la proyección de los agregados macroeconómicos en el escenario 2.
Las conclusiones son similares pero a partir de un empeoramiento más agudo en los
Gráfico 5. Cuba: Pronósticos macroeconómicos ante una reducción de los lazos con Venezuela.
Escenario 2
(Índice año 2012=1)
Fuente: Elaboración propia en base a estimaciones econométricas con un modelo VAR
Ante el “shock venezolano” las autoridades deberán decidir cómo realizar el ineludible ajuste, en
el cual será un factor decisivo la estrategia que siga la política fiscal. Ambos escenarios
muestran la evolución proyectada del gasto fiscal en términos reales. En los dos casos se
proyecta una resistencia inicial de los gastos, en correspondencia con las estrategias de política
fiscal expansivas que han seguido las autoridades económicas cubanas como respuesta
inmediata a episodios pasados de crisis. Sin embargo, las proyecciones apuntan a la necesidad
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 33
de efectuar un ajuste posterior de los gastos, que en términos reales acumularían una
contracción del 10% para el 2018 en el escenario 1 y 15% en el escenario 2 (ver gráficos 4 y 5).
En resumen, las proyecciones elaboradas sugieren una contracción de entre 4% y 7,7% en el
PIB cubano durante cuatro años consecutivos como resultado de simular un desmantelamiento
gradual de los vínculos con Venezuela. Tendría lugar un agudo shock en la macroeconomía
cubana, la cual se vería afectada por una drástica caída de las inversiones y de los términos de
Se acrecentarían las restricciones de divisas lo cual llevaría a un inevitable ajuste de
importaciones y de los gastos fiscales.
Las consecuencias serían muy negativas pero menores que las ocurridas en los años noventa
tras la desaparición de la URSS. Sin embargo, faltaría valorar si el país está en condiciones de
soportar una nueva recesión y un nuevo ajuste de los gastos, sin haberse recuperado
completamente del shock de los años noventa y en momentos en que se avanza en un proceso
de reformas que todavía no da frutos.
En los noventa los asalariados y pensionados estatales soportaron y pagaron el ajuste de la
crisis a través de un impuesto inflacionario.
El presupuesto en aquel entonces mantuvo los subsidios y los gastos en educación y salud,
apoyó las empresas públicas que se encontraban al borde de la quiebra para así evitar un
incremento desproporcionado del desempleo. Como resultado, el déficit fiscal superó el 30% del
PIB y la inflación trepó a tres dígitos. A través del impuesto inflacionario más del 90% de la
población activa que trabajaba para el Estado pagó el déficit fiscal y evitó un ajuste asimétrico
que recayera sobre los cientos de miles de desempleados y de familias que habrían saltado a la
El problema hoy en día es que, veinte años después, los ingresos reales del sector estatal no
han logrado recuperarse, el poder adquisitivo de los salarios estatales es apenas un 27% del
existente en 1989. El Estado con dificultades puede actualmente cumplir con los servicios de la
deuda externa, y los bancos apenas salen de una crisis de liquidez que comenzó en 2008. El
presupuesto de los servicios sociales se ha tenido que contraer y el país no tiene acceso a un
prestamista internacional de última instancia. Por tanto, se abre la interrogante:
¿Cómo se pagará el costo de una nueva crisis económica?
Un elemento a favor de las autoridades cubanas es haber comenzado un proceso de reforma
que podría acelerarse y justificarse su profundización en un entorno económico extremo. Pero tal
vez lo más difícil en un escenario como este sería el manejo político de una nueva crisis. Debe
tomarse en consideración que sería un hecho similar que se repetiría por segunda vez en
apenas veinte años, que el contexto socio-político cubano ha variado sustancialmente, en
especial por el aumento de las estratificación social y que existe un cambio en las claves del
liderazgo político. Es indudable que el acumulado de problemas no resueltos pesaría
enormemente y complicaría el manejo político de la crisis.
Doctor en Ciencias Económicas desde 2008. Actualmente es profesor de laPontifica Universidad
Javeriana Cali, Colombia. Previamente trabajó comoinvestigador del Centro de Estudios de la
Economía Cubana (CEEC) de laUniversidad de La Habana (2006-2012) y como especialista en
el BancoCentral de Cuba en la Dirección de Política Monetaria (1999-2006). De 2010 a 2013 ha
sido investigador invitado en la Universidad de Columbia, en la Universidad de Harvard, en la
Universidad Complutense de Madrid y en el Institute of Developing Economies (Japan External
Trade Organization).
1 Otras aproximaciones al tema pueden encontrarse en: Hernández-Catá, Ernesto “How Large is
Venezuelan Assistance to Cuba”, 2013,, y en Mesa Lago, Carmelo “El posible impacto de la muerte de Chávez en la
economía cubana”, 2013, ( en-la-economia-cubana-283444)
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 34
2 Se toma el año 1993 como el fin de relaciones especiales con la URSS siguiendo los criterios del
investigador y ex ministro de Economía y Planificación José Luis Rodríguez, especialista en este tema y
autor del libro Notas sobre la Economía Cubana, Ruth Casa Editorial, La Habana, 2010. Se toma el año
2001 como el comienzo de los vínculos especiales con Venezuela pues en esa fecha comienzan a ponerse
en práctica los primeros acuerdos oficiales con este país.
Have a cigar: Cuba and Europe to write a business plan
By Robin Emmott
Reuters, Brussels Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:24am GMT
(Reuters) - Eleven months before Barack Obama's historic handshake with Raul
Castro, Europe staged its own show of friendliness with Cuba. While little noticed,
this gesture may end up doing far more to end the communist island's isolation.
It all happened one hot January day last year at an EU-Latin America summit in
Chile. Castro cheerily waved alongside European Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso for the official group picture and then, as the photo gathering broke up,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel shook his hand.
This was low key compared with when the U.S. and Cuban presidents greeted each
other on December 10 after half a century of hostility. But all this warmth at Nelson
Mandela's memorial service in South Africa has brought no radical change and the
U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, imposed in 1962, remains.
By contrast, the European Union decided last week to seek negotiations with Havana
on increasing trade, investment and dialogue. This will mark their closest contacts
after years of tension about Cuba's human rights record, over which the EU imposed
its own sanctions until 2008.
While any accord will be modest, Havana said it would consider the EU invitation to
talks constructively. Castro needs trading partners as he tries to ensure the survival
of the Cuban revolution, which his brother Fidel led, through a transition from
hardline communism to a more pragmatic model.
The gesture from Merkel, who grew up in the now defunct East Germany, was all the
more notable as her country - along with fellow EU members Poland and the Czech
Republic - has been reluctant to deal closely with Cuba, partly out of a lingering
distaste for its own communist past.
Gianni Pittella, vice-president of the European Parliament who attended the
Santiago summit, said the decision to seek negotiations with Cuba had been a long
process that gathered pace in Chile. Europe's strategy is to encourage change.
"Besides trade and investment, I hope it will be possible to begin a structured
dialogue with Cuban civil society and with those who support a peaceful transition on
the island," said Pittella, who also awarded the EU's human rights prize to Cuban
dissident Guillermo Farinas last year.
The proposed accord, said EU officials, would give Brussels a bigger role in Havana's
market-oriented reforms, position EU companies for Cuba's transition to a more
open economy and allow the Europe to press for political freedoms on the island.
The EU is already Cuba's top foreign investor but divisions after the summit nearly
ended the overtures before they had scarcely begun.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 35
After the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton returned from Chile, the draft
accord with Havana languished in the European Council's red marble building in
Brussels for months, unable to gain the support of all 28 EU members.
Apart from the governments in Berlin, Warsaw and Prague, Sweden also had
misgivings about what they regard as Havana's repression of political dissent.
"Four countries felt it was not yet the time," said one EU official who declined to be
named. "In the end, the majority was able to convince them that negotiating with
Cuba would be a more effective way of bringing change."
What helped to change minds was Cuba's progress in implementing its five-year plan
since 2011 which has relaxed the state's grip on the economy. This has been
accompanied by a relaxation of curbs on foreign travel and Internet use, as well as a
fall in numbers of political prisoners.
An accord with Cuba, which could be agreed by late next year, had been the EU's goal
since 1996, although what Brussels is offering is modest for now and is only a
starting point.
The EU believes Cuba has the potential to become a dynamic economy like the
Dominican Republic, another Caribbean island nation which once depended on
sugar exports. It has diversified into manufacturing via free-trade zones that attract
Cuba's problem is that aside from nickel, cigars and rum, it sells little to the outside
world. Exports to the EU were worth just 739 million euros ($1 billion) in 2012,
barely up from a decade ago.
Still, there are niches to be exploited. Seafood exports have doubled over the past
decade and Cuba is trying to attract global shippers to its deep-water Mariel port
near Havana.
While it is too early for the EU and Cuba to discuss trade liberalisation, a similar
accord with Central American states a decade ago led to a deal giving them duty-free
access to the EU's 500 million consumers.
Human rights remain the biggest stumbling block. Ties with Cuba were strained
when Europe imposed the sanctions in 2003 in response to the arrest of 75
dissidents. All were released into exile later but the Human Rights Watch group says
Cuba still punishes dissent with beatings and threats of long-term imprisonment.
Diplomats say any serious violation of human rights during negotiations would
interrupt the talks.
Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany have insisted the proposed accord set out
steps that Cuba - the Western hemisphere's only one-party state - must take to
encourage democracy. One EU diplomat said the document contained "our strongest
human rights language yet" in EU affairs.
EU negotiators still want to be pragmatic because progress could unravel if pressure
on Havana provokes a backlash, especially in a country where sovereignty is fiercely
defended as a tenet of the 1959 revolution. Nevertheless, the issue cannot be swept
under the carpet.
"There will be some mention of human rights (in the proposed accord). The Cubans
are not going to get away from that," said Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to
If the European Union is being pragmatic, so is Castro.
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EU officials read Havana's openness to an accord as recognition by Castro - who
replaced his ailing brother in 2008 - that Cuba cannot survive forever on its
ideological ties with leftist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Cubans make a similar point. "Cuba is becoming more and more realistic in
searching for economic partners," said Carlos Alzugaray, a former ambassador to the
EU. "Policy will be nuanced by this more pragmatic and realist approach."
Fidel learnt a harsh lesson about relying on a single ally and donor when the Soviet
Union's collapse in 1991 plunged the Cuban economy into crisis.
Today, Venezuela is Cuba's biggest trading partner and benefactor but serious
economic and political problems there mean Havana worries about losing its
economic lifeline.
Ties with China are weak, even though both are run by communist parties. Bilateral
trade was just $1.8 billion in 2013, no more than China's trade with the Dominican
Republic - with which Beijing does not even have diplomatic relations.
"The feeling in Cuba is that they have to diversify their allies," said another EU
official. "After what happened with the Soviets, the Cubans don't want to be let down
again." ($1 = 0.7272 euros)
(Additional reporting by David Adams in Miami, Martin Santa in Brussels and Ben
Blanchard in Beijing; editing by David Stamp)
Communist Cuba to see rare political reform campaign
20 hours ago
Havana (AFP) - A campaign seeking political change in one-party Communist Cuba will
soon be launched with backing from domestic and international groups, a prominent
dissident announced Wednesday.
The campaign seeks to gather the 10,000 signatures necessary under Cuban law to
submit a constitutional reform measure to the National Assembly.
"It is more important to change the nature of power than to change those exercising
power," dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua told reporters as he unveiled the effort.
Cuba's constitution does not currently allow more than one political party. The dissidents
will likely press hard to have the communist island adopt a multi-party political system.
Dissident groups are of several minds on whether economically devastated Cuba should
go back to its 1940 constitution, make changes to its 1976 current socialist model or just
opt for a new charter altogether.
Cuesta Morua said the reform bid would bring together several Cuba opposition groups
and actively launch in May with events in Cuba, the US states of Florida and New Jersey,
Puerto Rico and Spain.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 37
In May 2002, the Christian Liberation Movement headed by the now deceased political
activist Oswaldo Paya introduced a similar initiative in the legislature.
Cuban opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morua during a press conference in Havana, on
September 16, 20 …
At the time, it was the single biggest public political confrontation the Communist
government had faced in decades.
But the National Assembly declined to take up the measure.
Instead, lawmakers adopted a constitutional reform stating that the socialist nature of the
Cuban regime was "irrevocable," suggesting no political opening was possible under the
current constitution or regime.
- Times better for change? "Today, we think conditions are better for citizens to support an initiative of this kind,"
Manuel Cuesta said.
"Now, there is basically a political no man's land in terms of where the government's
legitimacy stems from."
There was no immediate public comment from the government led by President Raul
Castro, 82.
Cuba, which has been reluctant to allow significant political or economic change,
considers dissidents "mercenaries" in Washington's pay.
Cuba's infrastructure is feeble, and it is economically isolated. It depends on its close ally
Venezuela for subsidized oil to keep the lights on in a nation of 11 million.
After five decades of the same regime, Havana controls the vast majority of the economy
-- though it has allowed more self-employment after firing thousands from government
Shortages are widespread, with incomes averaging $20 a month. Corruption is a major
issue and stealing from the government and tourist facilities such as restaurants is
All media are state-run and free speech and free association are not allowed.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
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A propósito del turismo internacional en Cuba en 2013
Posted: 20 Feb 2014 03:40 AM PST
Elías Amor Bravo, economista
La Oficina Nacional de Estadística de Cuba, ONE, acaba de publicar un informe con los
principales datos relativos al turismo en la Isla durante 2013. El objeto de este trabajo es realizar
una valoración de los mismos.
El año ha cerrado con una cifra de visitantes extranjeros prácticamente similar a la registrada en
2012, con un modesto aumento del 0,5%, sin alcanzar el objetivo de tres millones que las
autoridades habían planteado en su momento. Este resultado viene acompañado de una intensa
reducción en las pernoctaciones en entidades turísticas, con un descenso relativo del 13,9% con
relación a 2012 y una caída de la tasa de ocupación del 4,5% en el mismo período.
En principio, estos datos confirman que la pernoctación media de los viajeros disminuye de forma
muy destacada, pasando de los 6,5 días en 2012 a los 5,5 días en 2013, lo que apunta a una
previsible reducción de las estancias medias por parte de los turistas. Si el período de disfrute de
los viajeros se acorta y los niveles de ocupación medios en los establecimientos caen hasta un
44,8%, el incremento en los ingresos turísticos reportados por ONE, en un 1,9% prácticamente se
debe a la influencia de los aumentos de precios. En tales condiciones, y como viene siendo
habitual en años anteriores, la capacidad del turismo para empujar el crecimiento de la economía,
es ciertamente limitada.
Desde esta perspectiva, se puede valorar 2013 como un año bastante deficiente para el sector
turístico castrista, cuyos ingresos de 1,8 millones de CUC parecen quedar por debajo de las
expectativas. Cierto es que su cuantía es relevante para la estructura económica de la Isla, ya que
aproximadamente representan el 2,5% del PIB, pero no conviene lanzar campanas al vuelo,
porque ciertamente no hay mucho que celebrar y estas magras cifras seguro se estarán reflejando
en los balances de explotación de las empresas hoteleras implantadas en la Isla.
La ONE permite observar cómo se distribuyen los ingresos del turismo entre las actividades que
participan de los mismos. En principio, todos los renglones registran un incremento, excepto el
comercio minorista, que experimenta una caída del 1,4% respecto del año anterior. Los turistas
tienen poco que comprar en las tiendas de la Isla. Es posible que buena parte de las ventas se
canalicen en los mercados informales que actualmente están gestionados por los trabajadores por
cuenta propia. El comercio tiene poco atractivo para el turismo, y deberían las autoridades de
abordar esta cuestión, por su impacto sobre el empleo y la actividad en este importante sector.
Por el contrario, el transporte se ha visto más beneficiado que el resto de actividades con un 6,3%
de incremento en sus ingresos. Los turistas utilizan los servicios de transporte, se desplazan más y
dedican recursos a utilizarlos. El incremento sostenido de la oferta parece estar ofreciendo
buenos resultados. La lección es evidente, allí donde se liberaliza la economía, todo funciona
Conviene destacar que el transporte, con 306 millones de CUC ocupa el tercer puesto en la
distribución del gasto de los turistas que visitan la Isla, detrás del alojamiento, que aumenta un
2,4% sus ingresos y la gastronomía, que lo hace en un porcentaje similar del 2,2%. En ese sentido,
se puede afirmar que el transporte se está beneficiando en mayor medida de los ingresos
procedentes del turismo internacional que el resto de actividades y sorprende que las de
“recreación” no sólo alcancen un volumen muy escaso de ingresos, sino que además,
prácticamente se estanquen en su crecimiento con relación a 2012. Esto ofrece una idea de las
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 39
posibilidades de desarrollo que tiene este sector para la economía.
Por países, la geopolítica está a la orden del día: América del Norte representa el 45% de la cifra
total de visitantes extranjeros. Procedentes de Canadá el 39%, el restante 6% cerca de 200.000
viajeros debe proceder de Estados Unidos, aunque la publicación no lo reconoce como tal. Los
viajeros procedentes de esta zona aumentan un 2,8% respecto a 2012 multiplicando por 5 veces el
crecimiento medio de todo el turismo que recibe la Isla. ¿Críticas y quejas? Las justas y con
Europa, otro gran mercado en el pasado, se desploma como consecuencia de los efectos de los
efectos de la crisis y de las bajas tasas de repetición de los turistas que viajan a la Isla. Un 3,4% de
descenso con respecto a 2012 y se queda por debajo del 30% del total.
El resto de América central, sur y el Caribe aportan a la Isla alrededor de 682 mil viajeros en
2013. Una cifra inferior a la de Europa. Puede y debe crecer, pero es evidente que algo no se está
haciendo correctamente en lo que a promoción turística se refiere. La amistad cubano venezolana
o las actuaciones en el cono sur para romper la estacionalidad es evidente que no están dando
buenos resultados.
Con respecto a la distribución de los viajeros por edades y sexos, el 35% tiene entre 25 y 44 años.
Este es el segmento de edades que concentra el mayor volumen de turistas extranjeros. Se destaca
igualmente el de 45 a 59 años, un 30% del total, y los que tienen 60 y más alcanzan la cuarta
parte, un 24% del total. La distribución por sexos no ofrece diferencias significativas de acuerdo
con la información facilitada por ONE, con una ligera diferencia, unos 32.000 hombres más que
Por último, la publicación de ONE permite identificar los motivos de los visitantes de viajar a la
Isla. La mayoría lo hace por motivos de ocio, vacaciones y recreo, el 96%. El resto, los viajeros de
negocios, asuntos de colaboración, eventos o salud, apenas alcanzan un 4% lo que indica la
notable concentración de la oferta turística lo que hace difícil dirigirse a otros mercados. Con la
excepción del turismo de salud, que experimenta un crecimiento del 3,5% pero que solo atañe a
4.900 visitantes, el resto de modalidades descienden de forma significativa. Los "eventos"
prácticamente se desploman un 40,5% con relación a 2012, los viajes de negocios, caen un 10% y
un porcentaje similar los relacionados con asuntos de colaboración. Queda mucho por hacer y tal
vez lo que se está haciendo no puede dar los frutos buscados porque el problema es el modelo de
organización económica e institucional, que lo frena todo.
Opposition, pro-govt rallies grip Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans on both sides of the nation's bitter political
divide took to the streets on Saturday after two weeks of mass protests that have
President Nicolas Maduro scrambling to squash an increasingly militant opposition
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ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 40
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In Caracas, tens of thousands of opponents of the president filled several city blocks in
their biggest rally to date against his 10-month-old government. Across town, at the
presidential palace, Maduro addressed a much-smaller crowd of mostly female supporters
dressed in the red of his socialist party.
The dueling protests capped a violent week in which the government jailed Leopoldo
Lopez, a fiery hard-liner who roused the opposition following its defeat in December's
mayoral elections, and dozens of other student activists. The violence has left at least 10
people dead on both sides and injured more than 100.
A few small clashes that erupted between government opponents and state security forces
after the opposition rally broke up were visually impressive, but resulted in only five
In a pattern seen in past demonstrations, dozens of stragglers erected barricades of trash
and other debris and threw rocks and bottles at police and National Guardsmen. Troops
responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the students from
reaching a highway.
There were also clashes in San Cristobal, a remote city on the western border with
Colombia that has seen some of the worst violence, but most opposition marches across
the country ended peacefully.
The protests claimed their 10th fatality, when a 23-year-old student in the provincial city
of Valencia was pronounced dead Saturday after an eight-hour surgery for brain injuries
suffered at a demonstration earlier in the week.
Geraldine Moreno was near her home on Wednesday, watching students defend a
barricade at the corner of her street, when six national guardsmen rushed in and fired
rubber bullets at close range, hitting her in the face, El Universal newspaper reported.
On Saturday at the opposition rally held in wealthier eastern Caracas, two-time
presidential candidate Henrique Capriles urged supporters to keep pressuring the
government to resolve problems afflicting the oil-rich nation, from rampant crime to
galloping 56 percent inflation.
"If you (Maduro) can't, then it's time to go," Capriles told the crowd.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 41
Opposition supporters march protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas
February 22, …
Capriles, 41, has frequently criticized Lopez's strategy of taking to the streets without
building support among the poor. Those differences were on display again Saturday,
when he told supporters that unrest in middle-class neighborhoods distracts people's
attention from the country's mounting woes and only strengthens the government's hand.
Still, he downplayed any sense of division within the opposition's ranks, and recalled his
own four-month confinement in 2002 in the same military prison where Lopez is being
held while vowing to fight for the politician's release.
"We may have our differences, but there's something bigger than us all that unites us,
which is Venezuela, damn it!" Capriles said.
Elsewhere in the capital, government backers filled a wide avenue in a boisterous march
to the presidential palace accompanied by sound trucks blaring music and slogans. The
crowd made up mostly of women danced in the street and carried photos of the late
president Hugo Chavez.
First Lady Cilia Flores called on supporters to be alert for opposition attempts to incite
more violence in the days ahead to create conditions for a Ukraine-like power grab.
"Venezuela isn't Ukraine," Flores, who rarely speaks in public but is a close adviser to
her husband, told the crowd. "The right-wing fascists aren't going to impose themselves
Maduro said he won't pull security forces off the streets until the opposition abandons
what calls a "fascist" conspiracy to oust him from power.
"This elected president, the son of Chavez, is going to keep protecting the people," he
said while holding up what he said was an improvised explosive device used by
protesters to attack government buildings and security forces. "Nobody is going to
blackmail me."
It's unclear whether the street protests can maintain their momentum with fatigue setting
in, the Carnival holiday approaching and no Kiev-like ousting of Maduro in sight.
Capriles has said he'll attend a meeting Monday called by Maduro to talk with local
authorities, including opposition members, but is threatening to walk out if his remarks
aren't broadcast live on national TV as the president's are almost daily.
Even if the protests fizzle out, the underlying frustrations that sparked them show no sign
of easing: high crime, food shortages and inflation that erodes living standards in a
country with the world's biggest oil reserves.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 42
"This is a rich country and we can't even buy a kilo of flour, a rich country but we live in
misery," Marta Rivas, a 39-year-old mother of two, said as she joined the San Cristobal
The current political turmoil in Venezuela was sparked on Feb. 12 by huge opposition
marches that left three people dead— two opposition members and a government
Authorities blamed opposition leader Lopez for fomenting the violence and jailed him on
charges including arson and incitement, prompting anger from his supporters at home and
criticism from abroad.
The opposition accuses the National Guard and armed militia groups of attacking
protesters and firing indiscriminately into crowds, as well as beating up and menacing
some of the hundreds of activists who've been jailed nationwide.
Maduro said for the first time Friday that he's investigating whether security forces
opened fire at the Feb. 12 protests. But he spent most of a nearly three-hour press
conference denouncing what he called a "campaign of demonization to isolate the
Bolivarian revolution" by foreign media.
Associated Press writers Ben Fox, Jorge Rueda and Andrew Rosati contributed to this
report from Caracas. Vivian Sequera contributed from San Cristobal.
Venezuela Battles Media, Social and Otherwise, to Restrict Protest
The New York Times, February 21, 2014, 6:28 pm 3 Comments
Tensions escalated further in Venezuela on Friday as street protests that began nine days
ago continued and the government persisted in clamping down on coverage of the unrest
in the broadcast media and online.
At least seven journalists for CNN International and CNN Español reported that their
press credentials had been revoked, and that authorities had asked some of them when
they planned to leave the country.
The move came after President Nicolás Maduro slammed CNN on Thursday for
broadcasting what he called “war propaganda,” and said that if the network didn’t change
its reporting he would shut down the channels. “CNN, its programming, is 24/7 war
programming. They want to show the world that in Venezuela there is a civil war,” Mr.
Maduro said. “If they do not rectify things, get out of Venezuela, CNN, get out!”
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 43
(This isn’t the first time Mr. Maduro has questioned CNN’s motives. Last May, he called
the network “a broadcaster that works at the behest of destabilization, that calls openly
for a coup d’état in Venezuela.”)
On Wednesday, CNN reported, the cameras of one of its crews were confiscated by
armed men during reporting on the protests.
Still, the expulsions took some by surprise, given the lengths CNN went to to cover both
sides of the protests in an increasingly polarized Venezuela. It recently interviewed the
foreign minister, Elias Jaua, and other prominent Chavistas, as supporters of Hugo
Chávez, the deceased president, are called. On Thursday, a news anchor, Patricia Janiot,
hosted a lively back-and-forth between pro- and anti-government students.
After the government revoked her press credentials, Ms. Janiot said in a broadcast from
Atlanta on Friday that she had been subjected to “harassment” at the airport as she was
leaving Venezuela. She also took the opportunity to suggest that President Maduro
should sit down for an interview with her.
And CNN isn’t the only media outlet under siege. Reporters have been detained, beaten
and robbed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Media blackouts, arrests
and a campaign of harassment against dissenting voices has become a hallmark of this
administration,” the group’s deputy director said on Thursday.
A CNN video report on one of the network’s crews being robbed in Venezuela this week.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 44
A CNN Español broadcast from Atlanta on Friday.
At times, the government’s reach extended beyond traditional media, stifling access to
news online. Last week Venezuelan Twitter users periodically lost access to photos on
the platform, and this week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted, an entire city —
San Cristobal, an opposition stronghold in the state of Táchira — reportedly lost Internet
connectivity altogether. (El Universal reported that service was being restored Friday
International media organizations have also raised alarm about attacks on the press.
Reporters Without Borders issued a scathing statement Tuesday that said it “condemns
these acts of arbitrary censorship,” and added: “controlling information will do nothing
but poison the current situation.”
An association of Spanish journalists also denounced the “genuine information blackout”
in Venezuela and said in a statement: “The freedom of the press is a fundamental right in
democracies, which is why all efforts to cut it off are a grave setback.”
Meanwhile, the list of casualties has grown. On Friday, the country’s attorney general put
the death toll at eight, and said 137 other people had been injured in the continuing
Laments for the death of Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old beauty queen who was fatally
shot, spread quickly across social media. But the same attack that killed Ms. Carmona
also left a lesser-known student, Enyerson Ramos, in critical condition with a gunshot
wound that perforated his lung, El Mundo reported.
Wrenching video posted online showed the injured student’s aunt, Liliana Guitérrez,
overwhelmed with emotion as she spoke to reporters. “Enough with ‘fascists’; we aren’t
fascists. We are Venezuelans,” she said in reference to President Maduro’s affinity for
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 45
referring to protesters as fascists. “Venezuelans who are hurting from all that’s happening
in this country,” she said. “Here, ideas are fought with bullets.”
Video of remarks by the aunt of a student wounded during protests this week.
The governor of Carabobo, the state where the march took place, tweeted an ominous
directive to government supporters Sunday night: “prepare yourselves for the sudden
Venezuela revokes press credentials for 4 CNN journalists over coverage of
Associated Press/ Fox News, Published February 21, 2014
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's government has revoked the press credentials of
journalists from CNN after President Nicolas Maduro blasted the television network's
coverage of political protests.
CNN says Friday that four of its journalists were notified by the Information Ministry that
they are no longer allowed to report in the country. They include CNN en Espanol
anchor Patricia Janiot
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 46
A photographer takes pictures of barricades set up by anti-government protesters in the Altamira
neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Violence is heating up in
Venezuela as an opposition leader faces criminal charges for organizing a rally that set off
escalating turmoil in the oil-rich, but economically struggling country. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (The
Associated Press)
Maduro on Thursday threatened to expel CNN from Venezuela if it doesn't "rectify" its
coverage of unrest that he says is part of a campaign to topple his socialist government.
Colombian news channel NTN24 was suspended from Venezuelan cable TV packages
a week ago.
The government's near-complete control of domestic broadcasters has made CNN en
Espanol a source of information for many Venezuelans trying to follow the unrest.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --
POLÍTICA; España: Preocupación en el Partido Popular por el libro de
Ángel Carromero
DDC | Madrid | 21 Feb 2014 - 7:36 pm. |
Según la prensa española, el texto se encuentra en manos de la dirección nacional para su
El Partido Popular español (PP, en el Gobierno) está preocupado por la publicación
del libro Muerte bajo sospecha. Toda la verdad sobre el caso de Ángel Carromero,
del político conservador involucrado en el accidente que le costó la vida a Oswaldo
La obra previsiblemente verá la luz en la primera quincena de marzo. En ella, el
actual secretario general de las juventudes del PP de Madrid cuenta su versión sobre
los hechos.
Según el diario español Estrella Digital, la decisión de Carromero "trae por la calle
de la amargura a la dirección nacional" del PP, porque va a "remover de nuevo la
polémica historia, que ya le costó sangre, sudor y lágrimas al ministro de Asuntos
Exteriores, José Manuel García Margallo".
El periódico añade que el libro "no ha sentado nada bien en la cúpula del partido, y
mucho menos en el Ejecutivo de Mariano Rajoy".
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 47
"Por esta razón, el libro se encuentra en estos momentos en manos de la dirección
nacional para supervisar lo que se cuenta en él", según la publicación.
La editorial dijo que la ejecutiva del PP "está preocupada" con los nombres que
puedan aparecer: principalmente los del diputado Pablo Casado y la presidenta del
partido en Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, ambos conocedores del viaje de Carromero a
la Isla.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
B’s Business Viewpoint: Reflecting on our trip to Cuba
B Gorman, Special to the Tribune 02-21-14
Several community members recently joined my husband and me on a trip to Cuba. We
visited three cities, the countryside and interacted with people from all walks of life,
including at a ballet rehearsal, an afternoon on a ranch and interactions with artists,
musicians, architects and librarians. Throughout our journey, confronted with the realities
of communism or “good for all socialism” we constantly found ourselves questioning the
results. The Cubans were welcoming, resilient and creative, and we couldn’t help but
wonder the success they would have achieved if given the opportunity.
It is possible that there has never been a more pure example of communism’s effects than
Cuba. Due to its being an island both figuratively and geographically it was abundantly
apparent what happens when a regime seizes all property and declares “all men equal.”
Suddenly corruption was legal and the ranks of the existing poor were swollen with the
nouveau poor whose previous personal successes were wiped from reality.
The power abuse illustrations were far reaching and complicated, but among the poignant
are the following.
Post Revolution (1959) farmers were moved from the countryside into the cities, forced
to live with several other families in a government-seized Colonial home that once
belonged to a successful family. Fifty years later, thousands of families are living in near
squalor as the government has ignored normal maintenance on these once elegant homes
in the same way they have ignored maintenance on government-owned hotels,
restaurants, public buildings and infrastructure. During the “Especial” period (post-Soviet
Russia) of the ‘90s, Cuba’s citizens were starving due to the reductions in trade and
minimal agriculture. Now farming expansion has been ordered by Raul Castro, but
farmers are doing back-breaking work by hand with 60-year-old hoes and oxen.
Monthly wages for those fortunate enough to have a job range from $12 to $20. The
highly educated are rewarded with the right to own personal property and salaries ranging
from $40 (architect) to $55 (doctor) in exchange for doing two years of social service for
their education. The average cost of living was estimated at $200 to $300 per month
leaving most to beg, barter and suffer. Families with relatives in America tend to fare
better thanks to offshore contributions. Cuba’s recent albeit limited tourism has prompted
many to quit their professions, opting for service jobs in the hopes of receiving tips. Tips
that must be placed directly into the recipients’ hands as those left visible go directly into
the cash register for fear of government spies.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 48
While there are no perfect systems, we all returned with a stronger belief in our capitalist
system that encourages individual judgment and intelligence and rewards achievements
that generally benefit the greater good of society. Each of our countless entrepreneurs
who births a company has at their core a product or service that serves a purpose to be
freely valued or not by society.
I’m grateful to be home and honored to support our community’s entrepreneurs.
— “B” Gorman, B.S., J.D., A.C.E., is the president and CEO of TahoeChamber.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Granma Internacional Havana. February 21, 2014
Cuba prioritizes clean energy
Livia Rodríguez Delis
As part of the updating of its economic model, Cuba has prioritized a change in policies
to promote energy efficiency and the development of renewable resources.
Currently, the country is highly dependent on
fossil fuels, with only 3.9% of electricity generated
using renewable resources, creating not only a
significant source of pollution, but higher prices as
well, given that the cost of these fuels in
transferred to other products.
Cuba annually generates 17,586 gigawatts per
hour (gwh) of electricity, with peak time demand
of approximately 3,156 megawatts (mw), while
total losses in transmission and distribution
amount to 17.6%.
The country’s strategy is to reduce dependency on
fossil fuels, with a view toward more national
independence in terms of energy and a reduction
in the cost of electricity provided consumers,
currently impacted by the high cost of oil on the
world market.
To reduce losses in distribution networks,
215,000 posts have been replaced across
the country.
The plan emerged as a result of guidelines approved by the 6th Congress of the
Communist Party of Cuba in 2011, which emphasized the need to promote the use of
renewable resources within the national electricity system and in remote areas, to make
service more efficient.
On December 11, 2012, a governmental commission was created to assume
responsibility for drafting a proposal for the use and prospective development of
renewable resources for the period 2013-2030.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 49
In 2004, Cuba’s national electric grid suffered a
serious breakdown, complicating economic
operations and the social life of the country. As a
result of this incident, on the initiative of Fidel
Castro, a program entitled the Energy Revolution
was launched to replace obsolete power plants and
outdated, inefficient household appliances, to
ensure the rational use of electricity.
Cuba has significant potential to develop
solar energy, which can be used to generate
5 kw/h per square meter here - given the
country's geographic location and weather
patterns - equivalent to the average daily
usage of one household.
The program’s first moves included the addition of
2,400mw of generating capacity with highefficiency motor-generators distributed across the
country, increasing the National Electric System’s
efficiency via lower fuel costs and a reduction in transmission losses, since electricity is
produced closer to consumers.
To eliminate losses in distribution grids, some 215,000 posts and 7,000 kilometers of
primary cable, 1.8 million services, 33,700 secondary circuits and 2.8 million meters
were replaced, according to Leandro Matos, director of the Ministry of Mining and
Energy’s strategy and policy department.
Residential users played a leading role in the effort, replacing 94 million incandescent
light bulbs with compact fluorescents and 4.4 million inefficient appliances.
Matos explained that the effort was supported legally with Resolution no.190 which
prohibited the importing of incandescent bulbs and instituted new guidelines for
service rates.
According to Ministry data on the impact of the light bulb change-out, usage was
reduced by 25mw for every million bulbs lit during peak hours. The investment made
was recouped in less than three months.
"In 2009 technical regulations entered into effect to establish and enforce requisites for
energy efficiency, electrical security and the adaptation to a tropical climate of
equipment imported, fabricated or assembled in the country, to permit their
distribution," the expert continued.
Matos reported that there are four laboratories in Cuba authorized by the National
Office for Rational Energy Use (ONURE), in which tests and trials of equipment are
carried out, in accordance with norms approved by the Cuban Electro-technical
When the results of the laboratory tests indicating performance are completed, he said,
ONURE emits a technical certification with which a determination is made as to
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 50
whether or not a piece of equipment may be sold in Cuba.
At the same time, steps were taken in the industrial and commercial sectors to promote
energy efficiency, including the replacement of 2,500 inefficient water pumps in water
supply and waste water systems; banks of condensers were installed by large
consumers; and a national energy supervision body was established.
In an effort to achieve better energy management, electricity consumption was planned
on the basis of equipment consumer indexes and levels of activity. Daily monitoring
and control of usage, analysis of this data and adherence to plans for electricity
consumption were established.
"Within five years, the consumption of crude oil and its derivatives declined; energy use
was reduced by 27%, with savings of 9.3 million tons of fuel, equivalent to 4.66 billion
dollars," Matos explained.
"We have reached a favorable, opportune moment to implement the second stage of the
Energy Revolution, since there is greater support and a more effective national focus is
Renewable energy is energy which is obtained from natural sources, considered
inexhaustible, such as the sun, wind, rain, tides and geo-thermal heat. These are not
subject to abrupt prices changes, since they are free for the taking, as opposed to fossil
fuels which are becoming more expensive as their supply diminishes.
In the year 200 BC, in China and the Middle East, windmills were used to pump water
and grind grain. The Romans used geothermal sources to heat their homes.
Based on the premise that nature's bounty offers many advantages, and the need to
make use of this bounty in a sustainable fashion, an ambitious investment program was
initiated in Cuba in 2013 to develop clean, alternative energy resources.
"We built the first seven banks of solar photovoltaic panels and six small hydroelectric
plants; one 500 kilowatt plant using woody bio-mass and three bio-gas plants to
generate electricity," reported Raciel Guerra, the Ministry's Renewable Energy director.
"We also initiated the construction of the country's first 51 megawatt wind farms and
are sure that, in 2014, we will begin the first two bio-electric plants using sugar cane
bio-mass. Intense preparatory work is underway."
Guerra explained pre-feasibility, technical-economic studies recently concluded on
important projects to be undertaken over the next few years, "These were about the
construction of 19 bio-electric plants based on sugar cane; 13 wind farms, and the
others are solar panel banks and small hydroelectric plants on the country's water
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 51
"Also being studied are needed investments in national industries for the production of
renewable energy systems, to avoid becoming importers, but rather collaborate with
international companies to fabricate components and replacement parts within the
country, which allows us to develop our industry, increase job opportunities and reduce
costs, for example in the production of water heaters."
The goal? Make energy available to support the country's development and provide
quality electric service; lower costs to make national production more efficient; produce
lower cost electricity for the population; contribute to the development of national
industry by reducing costs associated with importing new technology, and eliminate
sources of pollution.
UN unlikely to sanction Cuba for N. Korean weapons, experts say
By Juan O. Tamayo
The Miami Herald, Published: February 22, 2014
MIAMI — Cuba almost certainly will not be sanctioned for violating the United Nations
weapons embargo on North Korea, but individuals or enterprises from the island or the
Asian country might be designated for punishment, analysts say.
The U.N. Security Council committee in charge of enforcing the embargo against
Pyongyang is to meet Monday to start considering any punishments for Havana’s
shipment of 240 tons of weapons to North Korea, seized by Panama authorities in July.
A panel of U.N. experts reported last week that the weapons, including anti-aircraft
missile systems and engines for MiG warplanes, found hidden under 10,000 tons of sugar
in the freighter Chong Chon Gang indeed violated the U.N. embargo.
A study underway of violators of the North Korean embargo over several years found
that no government was punished, said Hugh Griffiths, a global arms trafficking expert
with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden.
“The pattern has really been to sanction individuals and entities,” Griffiths said, adding
that the SIPRI study has been reviewing the punishments put in place by the United
Nations, the European Union, the United States, Japan and Australia.
“I doubt very much that Cuba would be put under sanctions, based on previous
violations,” Griffiths said by phone from Sweden.
The six-page list of entities sanctioned by the U.N. committee in charge of enforcing the
arms embargo lists no countries. The embargo was slapped on North Korea under U.N.
Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 for its nuclear weapons program.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 52
The committee, officially named the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Sanctions Committee, has three options for handling the Cuba case, according to experts
on U.N. procedures.
It could do nothing at all, and Cuba has lots of allies in the United Nations that would
prefer that. Havana escaped sanctions after a panel of U.N. aviation exports faulted its
killing of four South Florida pilots over international waters in 1996.
But in the case of the North Korean embargo “generally speaking there is some action,
because to do otherwise would send the signal that the sanctions can be ignored,”
Griffiths added.
The committee could designate individuals or entities as violators, which could lead to
the freezing of assets or international travel restrictions. Or it could take technical actions,
such as clarifying the weapons and actions covered in Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
Critics of the Cuba’s communist government have held up the shipment as evidence of its
duplicity and alliance with a rogue state, although the Obama administration has largely
avoided commenting on the case.
Havana has defended the weapons shipment based on a narrow reading of Resolution
1718, which in paragraph 8a bans the “direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of
weapons to North Korea.
Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, in its only public statement on the case, claimed in August that
the “obsolete defensive” weapons aboard the Chong Chon Gang were being sent to North
Korea to be repaired and returned to Cuba.
That arrangement might not qualify as a “supply, sale or transfer,” but paragraph 8C of
1718 also bans any “technical training, advice, services or assistance related to the
provision, manufacture, maintenance or use” of weapons going to North Korea.
Griffiths added that Cuba’s claim that the weapons were to be returned to the island was
“not so credible in any case because the shipment showed several different types of
anomalies and inconsistencies.”
A report on the Cuba weapons published by Griffiths in August said the 16 MiG21
engines in the shipment “were securely attached and adequately spaced … covered in
layers of protective plastic sheeting and brown paper wrapping” and cradled in
improvised transport frames, “suggesting their end use as replacement engines.”
The shipment also included rocket propelled grenades and artillery shells, some of it “in
mint condition … and much of it was in original packing cases,” it said. “They clearly
were not ‘to be repaired and returned to Cuba.’ Rather, these items were intended simply
for delivery to North Korea for its own use.”
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 53
Ted Cruz On Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro 'Taking A Page' From Castro
Posted: 02/21/2014 6:01 pm EST Updated: 02/22/2014
WASHINGTON -- With all eyes on the bloodshed in Ukraine, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
offered a sharp warning Friday on another political crisis: demonstrations against
President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Cruz issued a statement as anti-government protests in Venezuela's western state of
Tachira reached their largest since the death of the country's longtime president Hugo
Chavez nearly a year ago. Violent clashes between protesters and security forces have left
eight dead and about 137 injured, the government said on Friday.
"As opposition protests drag into their second week in Venezuela, President Nicolas
Maduro is taking a page out of the Castro playbook to violently oppress Venezuelans
who are demanding an end to his disastrous rule," Cruz said. "Activists have been
detained and abused, and even shot dead in the streets."
The Texas Republican condemned the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who
could face up to 10 years in prison on charges of arson and conspiracy. Authorities
dropped initial plans to pursue murder and terrorism charges against Lopez, whose arrest
has widely been regarded as a politically motivated move to silence Maduro's dissenters.
Cruz said Lopez "faces the summary judgment of a makeshift kangaroo court," while
adding that "the perseverance of the protestors in the face of these thuggish tactics
suggests there are still many who do not accept the failed socialist policies of Hugo
Chavez and his hand-picked successor as inevitable." He added that the United States
should press for Lopez's "immediate and unconditional release."
Cruz's comparison of Maduro to the Castro regime is not surprising, given the senator's
strong feelings toward Cuban President Raul Castro and his predecessor and brother Fidel
Castro. Cruz's father fled Cuba before Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959, and Cruz
himself walked out of Nelson Mandela's memorial service when Raul Castro delivered a
speech. A spokesperson for Cruz told Newsmax at the time that Raul Castro "has
wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents."
Cruz also criticized President Barack Obama's administration for not taking greater steps
in encouraging the Organization of American States to supervise a recount after Maduro's
controversial election last April, when he defeated opposition leader and Gov. Henrique
Capriles in Venezuela’s closest presidential election in 45 years. Cruz said the OAS
should send a delegation to Venezuela to investigate alleged human rights abuses under
The White House, for its part, has focused its attention this week on the violent clashes
between anti-government protesters and security forces in Ukraine. At least 75 people
have been killed in Kiev since Tuesday and an estimated 571 left injured.
On Friday, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security
advisor, why the U.S. is not showing the same aggression toward Maduro as Ukrainian
President Viktor Yanukovych.
Blinken said the crisis in Venezuela was "a problem of [Maduro's] own making and they
need to resolve it."
"When it comes to Venezuela, we've been very clear in our views but we also don't want
to give Maduro the excuse of making the United States look like the problem," Blinken
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said. "Putting the United States in the middle of the story just creates an easy distraction
and an ability for him to point pictures at something that is not the problem."
Obama's National Security Council tweeted later in the day that it was "deeply
concerned" about Venezuela's decision to revoke CNN's press credentials, after Maduro
said Friday that CNN journalists were engaging in "war propaganda." "#Venezuela needs
to live up to its int’l obligations & respect freedom of speech, assembly, press; engage in
real dialogue w/ its ppl," the NSC said in a subsequent tweet.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Damas de Blanco
Marta Beatrix Roque Cabello,
Feb. 23, 2014
Comienzan a llegar informaciones sobre la detención de más de 70 Damas de
Blanco que iban a echar flores al mar en recordación del cuarto aniversario de la
muerte de Orlando Zapata Tamayo, también entre las detenidas se encuentra
Berta soler, los teléfonos de la mayoría están apagados y ha sido imposible la
comunicación para obtener noticias. Se supo que un grupo considerable fue
trasladado para Tarará
US Sen. Marco Rubio helps inaugurate Cuba memorial
Posted: Feb 23, 2014 4:42 PM EST
MIAMI (AP) - With political uprisings in Venezuela and the Ukraine, U.S. Sen. Marco
Rubio is urging the world not to forget the Cuban people's struggles. The son of Cuban
immigrants on Saturday helped thousands of Cuban exiles and Cuban-Americans in
Miami inaugurate a monument dedicated to those who died in opposition to Cuba's
communist government.
The Tamiami Park monument includes a giant column covered with the Cuban flag. The
names of those killed fighting against Fidel Castro's government or trying to leave the
island cover five surrounding panels.
Rubio said the monument would help teach future generations about Cuban history long
after Castro is gone.
Rubio also recently spoke against Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro, whose government is a
close Cuban ally. Maduro responded last week, calling Rubio crazy on Venezuelan TV.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.
An Information Service of the
Cuba Transition Project
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies
University of Miami
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José Azel*
Issue 210
February 24, 2014
Polling With An Agenda
If one tortures the data enough, it will confess to anything. I recalled this old adage of analytical work as
I prepared to dispute the findings of the recent poll on U.S.-Cuba policy changes conducted by the
Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
In its own words the “survey looks at whether there is overall support for normalizing U.S. relations (or,
engaging more directly) with Cuba…” It concludes that “Nationwide, 56 percent of respondents favor
changing our Cuba policy…”
Regrettably these purported findings have been uncritically retold by numerous news outlets and are
parroted as a truism without judicious review or analysis. The heading in a February 10 article in The
New York Times reads “Majority of Americans Favor Ties with Cuba, Poll Finds.” Reuters echoes the
heading in a February 11 article: “Majority of Americans favor closer U.S.-Cuba ties: poll.”
Indeed, the survey’s colorful brochure subtitled “A New Public Survey Supports Policy Change”
deliberately implies that Americans support a unilateral, unconditional change in U.S. policy without
concessions from the Cuban government. But there is nothing in the survey to support that conclusion;
in fact, not a single question in the survey asks about the United States changing its Cuba policy without
seeking concessions from the Cuban government.
For example, the survey asks respondents if they support “normalizing relations or engaging more
directly with Cuba.” This is a featureless question of the “would you be in favor of world peace?”
variety and it is actually surprising that engagement is strongly favored by only 30% and somewhat
favored by 26% -totaling the 56% cited above.
It is disingenuous to present the answer to this question as evidence of support for a unilateral and
unconditional change in U.S. policy. But thematically, that is precisely what this survey does- it equates
the desire for more effective policymaking with support for the abandonment of current policy without
seeking any concessions from the other side.
Suppose, for example, that we were to ask a more developed question using the reports own factual
language: “The Castro government continues to repress liberties, abuse human rights, and, despite some
openings, deny its citizens access to basic economic freedoms,” should the United States end its
economic sanctions now without seeking any concessions from the Cuban government?
Or: Should the United States unconditionally seek to normalize relations with Cuba even though the
Cuban government has sentenced Alan Gross, a 64 years old U.S. citizen and U.S. Agency for
International Development subcontractor, to a fifteen-year prison sentence for working to help the
Cuban Jewish community on behalf of the U.S. government?
Or: Do you favor a unilateral, unconditional elimination of economic sanctions or do you favor a
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 56
process of negotiations that would lead to concessions from the Cuban government?
Questions of this level of specifity would be required to support the logical leaps regarding policy
implications advocated in Atlantic Council report. But I suspect the answers would not support the
report’s conclusions.
The Atlantic Council is a reputable organization and it commissioned experienced pollsters for this
report. To their credit, Peter Schechter, Director of the Latin American Center responsible for the
survey, graciously invited me to be a panelist in the Miami presentation of the report, knowing that I
would be very critical.
Why did the Atlantic Council not see these issues when extrapolating conclusions way outside the data
scope of the survey questions? Why did the Council produce what appears to be a “push poll” designed
to elicit a predetermined result pushing an ideological agenda?
Perhaps an explanation can be found in a revealing parapraxis, or slip of the pen, I came across while
researching their work. In the Atlantic Council’s web page promoting the Cuba poll, there is a sentence
that makes reference to the United States’ “financial blockade” (of Cuba).
Experienced Cuba watchers will recognize immediately that the word “blockade,” when making
reference to the U.S. embargo, is the term used only by the Cuban government and by regime
sympathizers. “Blockade” is an inaccurate and politically charged term that elicits the imagery of U.S.
Navy ships blocking shipping lanes to Cuba. It is not a term that would be used by anyone seeking to
establish objectivity. How did this term end up in the Atlantic Council’s work - a Freudian slip?
*José Azel is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies,
University of Miami. He is the author of the recently published book, Mañana in Cuba.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at The CTP Website is
accessible at
Uncivil society: from Cuba’s ‘rapid response brigades’ to Venezuela’s
‘collective’ militias
Venezuela’s Bolivarian regime is taking a leaf from Communist Cuba’s book
by employing pseudo- independent civilian militias to intimidate the
democratic opposition, says a Havana-based analyst.
The so-called Cuban Revolution has a violent history that it will never break
free of because it is part of its nature, writes Antonio Rodiles, the coordinator
of Estado de SATS, an independent think-tank:
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The infamous “acts of repudiation” in the ‘80s led to the more frequent use of
vigilante groups, known as “rapid response brigades,” who doled out
beatings and followed orders with the objective of instilling terror in
citizens….. Of course the “rapid response brigades” were also exported from
Cuba, now called “Bolivarian militias” or “collectives.” Since then, they have
concentrated on arming and preparing them to respond with violence and
terror in the face of possible democratic demands.
To create and institutionalize urban vigilante groups, which, to sustain power
enjoy perks and impunity, creates an extremely complex scenario in a region
where the Rule of Law remains a dream yet to be achieved, says Rodiles:
The Chavista strategy has been to wrest away democratic spaces, fragment
them, and even to dismantle not only democratic institutions, but also civil
society organizations. Cuba’s ruling elite knows that a change in Venezuela
implies enormous pressure on the island and the certain end of the Castro
regime. They know that ordering or driving indiscriminate repression in
Venezuela has no legal consequences for them, but rather for the regime in
Caracas. They would prefer a thousand times over to cling to the oil no
matter it costs, rather than coming to a massive repressive crackdown on
the island.
Venezuela’s useful idiots
Democracy Digest, Feb. 24, 2014
Defenders of Venezuela’s authoritarian populist regime would never allow the
White House to arrest opposition leaders and close unfriendly media outlets.
So why the double standard? The Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan asks:
The benignly named Washington think tank Council on Hemispheric Affairs,
whose “experts” are frequently quoted in the mainstream media, blared on
its homepage “Venezuelan Government Shows Restraint and Resolve in the
Face of Anti-Chavista Mayhem.” Over at the Huffington Post, a selfidentified “human rights lawyer” lamented that “without irony, the media
fulminates about Venezuela’s alleged lack of democracy…to justify its open
support of Venezuela’s elite opposition.” He then credulously quotes a Chavez
loyalist’s assessment that the “Venezuelan economy is doing very well,”
despite the empty shelves, capital flight, and runaway inflation.
A pro-Chavez academic writing in The Nation argued that the massive street
demonstrations across the country “have far more to do with returning
economic and political elites to power than with their downfall.” The
Guardian headlined a news story: “Venezuela’s hardliner reappears as
Nicolas Maduro expels US officials.” That hardliner wasn’t Maduro, whose
government is arresting regime opponents and strangling the free press, but
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Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader currently languishing in jail. Flip over
to the Guardian’s editorial for the bizarre excoriation of President Obama for
his supposed “support for regime change in Venezuela.”
RTWT HT:RealClearWorld
The region’s leaders employ similar double standards, observers suggest.
“Most statements coming from Latin American governments and regional
bodies lament the deaths of at least four people in the recent demonstrations
and call for dialogue. But strong criticism of either side, blame, threats and
demands — once common reactions in previous crises, like the heavy-handed
rule of Alberto Fujimori in Peru in the ’90s, analysts contend — have generally
been rare,” Damien Cave notes in the New York Times:
For much of the 20th century, civil wars and repressive governments cast
long shadows over the region. The United States played an overbearing role
as well, choosing leaders and backing coups, usually over fears of
There were deeper ideological divides, and for the most part, two kinds of
Latin American governments: military led or democratically elected. The
goal for the region, as articulated in the 2001 Inter-American Charter from
the Organization of American States, seemed to be a journey from the former
to the latter, a transformation the region has accomplished to a remarkable
degree. Now, however, the challenges in many countries are often less about
achieving democracy than about delivering on the expectations democracy
“Now it’s, ‘We’re focused on democracy in our own country, but if something
happens with a neighbor we are not going to say anything,’ ” said Michael
Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, a policy forum. “That’s a
Hovering in the background of all this, he added, is Cuba.
“Whatever criticism one might have of Venezuela,” said Shifter, a former Latin
America Program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy “it
remains Cuba’s main benefactor and, as we witnessed at the Celac meeting, if
there is one issue all Latin American and Caribbean countries can agree on,
it’s solidarity with Cuba in the face of the U.S. embargo. If Latin American
governments stand up to Maduro and say, ‘You have to stop the repression,’
they would be seen as weakening a government that supplies and sustains
Cuba. The politics of this are very, very complicated.”
Cuba continues to trim state payroll, build private sector
By Marc Frank 3 hours ago
Cuba's President Raul Castro addresses the audience during the opening session of the
Community of …
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By Marc Frank
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba continued to shed state jobs and move workers into the
private sector in 2013, according to a report issued by the official labor federation at the
weekend, as President Raul Castro pressed forward with reforms to the Soviet-style
The Cuban Communist Party adopted plans in 2011 to "modernize" the economy in
search of greater efficiency and improved salaries for state workers.
The plan includes shedding secondary economic activity in favor of markets, private
businesses, cooperatives and leasing systems, while concentrating resources on major
state-run companies in hopes of making them more competitive.
The official Juventud Rebelde newspaper said on Sunday that the main report approved
by the labor federation's congress over the weekend stated more than 10 percent of state
jobs had been cut since 2009.
"Jobs in the state civil sector have decreased by 596,500 since 2009," Juventud Rebelde
quoted the report as stating.
Cuba has a potential labor force of over 6 million, of which 5 million were reported
employed in 2012, the last official figures available.
At the same time, the number of private, or "non-state" workers as Cuba calls them, rose
to over 1 million in 2012, close to double the number reported in 2009.
The majority of the non-state workers were farmers, whose numbers have grown under
Castro's agricultural reforms, which include leasing state lands to individuals. The goal is
to stimulate local food production and cut the need for budget-draining food imports.
The rest of the non-state workers, just over 400,000 in 2012, were mostly in small retail
businesses or self-employed such as carpenters, seamstresses, photographers and taxi
The report approved at the congress, which met in Havana last week, said that figure
"increased to more than 450,000" last year.
"If Cuba is to emerge from its economic inefficiency, it is crucially important to promote
a mixed economy—with key sectors under state control, but with opportunities for smalland medium-sized enterprises," John Kirk, one of Canada's leading academic experts on
Latin America and author of a number of books on Cuba, said by email.
"There has been noticeable improvement in the services provided by small businesses
and cooperatives, and these initiatives should be encouraged," he said.
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The cash-strapped state is closing thousands of its small retail outlets such as barbershops
and cafeterias, notorious for economic inefficiency and employee theft, and offering to
lease the premises to employees or others interested in running their own business.
Last year the state turned more than 200 small and medium-sized businesses -- from
restaurants, shrimp breeding and produce markets to recycling, construction and light
manufacturing -- into private cooperatives. Hundreds more were expected to become
cooperatives this year.
The government hopes to slash 20 percent of the state labor force, or nearly a million
jobs, from its bloated payrolls, by 2016.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Ex-Venezuelan general in armed standoff at home
. Related Stories
Opposition, pro-govt rallies grip Venezuela Associated Press
Meeting between Venezuela government, opposition may help ease protests
2 killed as Venezuelan protests turn violent Associated Press
Venezuelan opposition leader's arrest sought Associated Press
Venezuelans march in anti-government protests Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — One of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's most
outspoken critics has become the latest rally cry for opposition protesters after engaging
in an armed standoff with security forces Sunday.
Retired army Gen. Angel Vivas sported a flak jacket, assault rifle and handgun as he
defiantly addressed dozens of neighbors from the balcony of his home in eastern Caracas.
"I'm not going to surrender," the 57-year-old Vivas yelled to a crowd of cheering
Supporters rushed to Vivas' defense after he announced to his 100,000-plus followers on
Twitter that a group of "Cuban and Venezuelan henchmen" had come looking for him.
The officers withdrew after the crowd built barricades outside Vivas' house. Vivas'
lawyer said they didn't have an arrest order.
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Maduro on Saturday ordered Vivas' arrest for allegedly encouraging students to stretch
wire across streets where they've set up barricades in recent weeks. The president blames
the apparent booby trap for the death of a government supporter who raced into a
barricade on a motorcycle.
Vivas, one of the government's fiercest critics in the frequently vicious world of
Venezuelan social media, rose to prominence in 2007 when he resigned as head of the
Defense Ministry's engineering department rather than order his subalterns to swear to
the Cuban-inspired oath "Fatherland, socialism or death."
The standoff Sunday occurred after hundreds of grandparents danced and paraded their
way to the presidential palace to express support for Maduro, who is struggling to contain
a wave of anti-government protests that have left at least 10 people dead and more than
100 injured.
Speaking at the rally, Maduro invited sectors of the opposition as well religious and labor
leaders to participate in a meeting Wednesday to discuss ways to restore calm in
He also said hoped that the opposition's two-time presidential candidate, Henrique
Capriles, governor of Miranda state, attends a meeting Monday with local authorities to
discuss ways to reduce crime, one of the main drivers of the protests.
Can Venezuela's socialist government survive wave of protests?
By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 9:43 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
A man wearing a Tshirt with the likeness of Latin American hero Simon Bolivar joins in a pro-government march in Caracas on
Sunday, February 23. Hundreds of pro-government demonstrators, most of them older people, marched
through the capital's downtown. For weeks, anti-government Venezuelans unhappy with the economy and
rising crime have been clashing with security forces.
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 Experts say it's too soon to ring the death knell for Hugo Chavez's revolution
 With so many factors in flux, it's difficult to guess what's next in Venezuela
 But there are some possible game-changers to keep an eye on
 Tensions are running high amid anti-government protests
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 64
(CNN) -- Student protesters pack the streets. Violence surges. Tear gas billows.
Opposition leaders and government officials blame each other for the unrest, and both
sides show no sign of backing down.
No matter who you believe, it's clear that tensions are running high in Venezuela.
The anti-government demonstrations are the biggest threat President Nicolas Maduro
has faced since his election last year. And inside and outside the South American
country's borders, there's a major question many are asking: Could this be the beginning
of the end for Venezuela's socialist government?
Searching for truth in Venezuela
The situation doesn't look pretty. Inflation topped 56% last year. Crime rates are high.
Goods shortages have left store shelves bare.
But the next election is years away, and experts say it's likely too soon to start ringing
the death knell for Hugo Chavez's revolution just yet.
A variety of scenarios could play out in the coming days, depending on the steps
authorities and protesters take. And, with so many factors in flux, it's difficult to guess
what's next.
"Anything can happen now," said Javier Corrales, a professor of political science at
Amherst College. "This is a real crisis on all fronts. The government has ways to
survive...but at the same time, it can lose this battle."
Here are some possible game-changers to keep an eye on:
Government crackdowns on protesters
Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition politician accused by the government of inciting violence
and leading the recent protests, is behind bars, facing charges of arson and conspiracy.
Maduro has vowed to crack down on other opposition leaders like him, calling them
fascists and comparing them to a disease that must be cured.
He's defended that approach in national television broadcasts, accusing protesters of
violence, vandalism and plotting a slow-motion coup.
"Is capturing these people repression? Or is it justice?" Maduro said after airing videos
during a national broadcast that he said showed opposition attacks on government
Any ratcheting up of repression could have a major cost for the government, possibly
turning supporters at home and abroad against it, said David Smilde, a senior fellow at
the Washington Office on Latin America.
"In contrast to Venezuela's serious problem with street crime, for which the government
does not traditionally pay a political price, for this kind of repression it will," Smilde wrote
in an analysis of the situation this week. "At best, it reveals a government that cannot
control its guns. At worst, it reveals a government that is as violent as its opponents
have long claimed."
On the other hand, the government could defuse the situation.
"If the government responds in some way and deals with the situation by relieving some
of the distress and trying not to clamp down further, and showing some flexibility and
some willingness to engage in some dialogue and moderation, then I think it could
weather this period," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think
Support from Chavistas
There's one major reason analysts point to when they say that Venezuela's socialist
government isn't approaching any sort of imminent collapse: Many people in the country
are still behind the President.
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"Maduro has a lot of support," said George Ciccariello-Maher, an assistant professor of
political science at Drexel University. "He's not Chavez, but he's seen as a relatively
faithful representative of what Chavez stood for."
The cornerstone of Chavez's presidency was the Bolivarian Revolution, his ambitious
plan to turn Venezuela into a socialist state. Social "missions" aimed at eradicating
illiteracy, distributing staple foods and providing health care popped up across the
Chavez was elected and re-elected in large part thanks to support from the country's
poor, who felt marginalized by previous governments. He tapped into their needs and
frustrations -- often through confrontations with the Venezuelan elite.
Maduro -- who Chavez tapped as his successor before he died -- has taken a similar
tack. His narrow election victory last year was closer than supporters had hoped, but he
still won.
Throngs of Maduro's dedicated followers still call themselves Chavistas in devotion to
the former president.
Even though Maduro is nowhere near as charismatic as Chavez, for many, he's still
better than the alternative, Shifter said.
"They perceive that there are parts of the opposition that want to go back to pre-Chavez
Venezuela, which basically ignored the concerns of the poor," Shifter said. "They don't
want to lose what they think they've gained."
A key challenge for the opposition is chipping away at Chavistas' support for the
government. If they can win over Chavez loyalists, that could tip the scales.
Ciccariello-Maher, who authored "We Created Chavez: A People's History of the
Venezuelan Revolution," argues that's not likely. The revolution, he says, is much bigger
than Chavez or Maduro.
"The Chavista government has been in power for more than 14 years and has won a
larger number of elections than any other government essentially on earth because they
mobilized the poor and have a strong support base among the poor, and also a chunk of
the middle class," Ciccariello-Maher said. "This support base is not going anywhere, and
it's not going to disintegrate because a relatively small number of students are protesting
in relatively middle class areas of the country."
Follow the money
For months, major goods shortages have left shelves bare in Venezuelan stores.
The government accuses distributors of orchestrating the shortages as part of an
"economic war" to fuel unrest.
The opposition says that's one of many painful examples that show the government's
mishandling of the country's finances.
While the populist platform of sharing Venezuela's vast oil wealth with the poor and
disenfranchised has helped reduce poverty, critics have warned that flawed economic
policies -- such as currency controls and expropriation of private companies -- set the
country on a crash course toward financial ruin.
Despite government efforts to stem inflation with price controls, analysts have said the
economic picture looks bleak.
It's no coincidence that tensions are running high while Venezuela faces significant
economic problems, experts say.
"This has been sort of a cyclical phenomenon of protests in Venezuela," Shifter said.
"But I think we're at a different point in the evolution of a situation, a point where the
economic situation is what's driving what's happening...more than anything else, just the
shear economic desperation for many people and the shortages and the rising inflation."
And if those problems worsen, it's not good for the government.
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"If Venezuela experiences a serious economic meltdown, the opposition movement
could grow, despite not making any efforts to reach beyond its traditional base," Smilde
Military might
Right now, analysts say the military seems to be squarely behind Maduro.
That wasn't the case in 2002, when Chavez was briefly ousted from power by a military
"The military is much more Chavista than it was in 2002," Ciccariello-Maher said.
But there could come a moment, Corrales said, when the military's loyalties are
"If they are asked to be repressive," he said, "they will face a difficult choice of whether
to comply or not."
Who's protesting?
The recent protests have highlighted growing discontent with Venezuela's government,
but also rifts within the opposition -- a disparate group of parties that banded together in
an attempt to defeat Chavez at the polls and now hope Maduro's government will fall.
Henrique Capriles Radonski, a leading opposition politician who lost his bid for the
presidency last year, has been trying to take a more moderate approach and build a
broader support base.
But Lopez and other opposition leaders have pushed for protests in the streets.
A looming question is whether the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable -- which
includes parties with a wide range of ideologies within its ranks -- can stick together for a
common political goal.
"Behind the scenes, the opposition is very much cracking," Ciccariello-Maher said.
If more militant members of the opposition attempt a coup, he said, that will only backfire
the next time Venezuelans head to the polls.
Smilde said he's seen how much Lopez's impassioned speeches have fired up crowds.
"This movement is energizing the opposition base in a way they haven't been in eight
years," Smilde said. "But there seems to be little effort to reach out to disgruntled
Chavistas, or broaden the message towards issues of equality and poverty reduction
that might mobilize a broader coalition."
The toughest challenge the opposition faces might be keeping up the momentum they've
"It's very hard to sustain protests. There have been other moments when there have
been protests in Venezuela, and they come and they go," Shifter said. "If this one goes
and sort of dies down, then I think Lopez, his star may fade, and this whole episode may
CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.
NewsBrother to pursue lawsuit over Cuba's 1996 shoot-down
El Nuevo Herald,, February 25, 2014
MIAMI-The brother of one of the South Florida pilots shot down and killed by
Cuban MiGs 18 years ago says he will pursue his lawsuit demanding that U.S.
prosecutors submit evidence of murder against Fidel and Raul Castro to a
grand jury."I don't understand what these prosecutors have been doing all this
time," said Nelson Morales, 66, whose brother Pablo was killed in the Feb. 24,
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 67
1996 shootdown along with Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre and Mario de la
Pena.Morales filed suit last year to force U.S. prosecutors in Miami to present
to a grand jury any evidence of the Castro brothers' guilt in the deaths,
including recordings and interviews in which they accept responsibility for
downing the planes.The federal prosecutors filed murder charges against Gen.
Ruben Martinez Puente, who commanded Cuba's air defense in 1996, and
brothers Lorenzo Alberto and Francisco Perez Perez, who piloted the MiGs.
But they did not indict the Castro brothers.U.S. Judge Donald H. Graham
rejected Morales' suit last month, ruling that the petitioner sought to encroach
on prosecutorial discretions and that Morales had not met one of the technical
requirements of the law.Attorney Juan Carlos Zorrilla, who represents
Morales, has filed a notice of appeal to the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta. He
argues that the lawsuit seeks only to force the prosecutors to present the
evidence to a grand jury. The grand jury and prosecutors can then decline to
pursue the case, the attorney added.Zorrilla said Morales will separately
attempt to resolve the technical issue by seeking a meeting with the federal
prosecutors in Miami to personally turn over the evidence against the Castro
brothers and ask that it be presented to the grand jury.Former U.S. Attorney
Kendall B. Coffey and Brothers to the Rescue leader Jose Basulto presented
much of the evidence to the prosecutors in 2008, but Graham ruled the law
required that Morales himself present the evidence."We will go to Atlanta, we
will do anything and everything necessary for this case," Morales said. "I don't
understand why a federal judge and federal prosecutors are protecting these
murderers."Zorrilla filed the "writ of mandamus" - a request for a court order
requiring the government to take action - in July to force prosecutors to
submit any evidence implicating Fidel and Raul Castro in the deaths.
Prosecutors also should inform the grand jury that it can vote to pursue an
inquiry on its own, the lawsuit added.
Una contribución ucraniana para solucionar la crisis en Venezuela
OTTO J. REICH: Ex embajador de EEUU en Venezuela, Secretario de Estado Adjunto y
Miembro del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional.
Publicado el lunes, 02.24.14
Hay muchas diferencias entre los levantamientos populares en Ucrania y Venezuela,
pero existen similitudes. En ambas, un gobierno impopular que había ganado una
elección perdió su legitimidad por abusos cada vez mayores, corrupción e
incompetencia. Ahora que una solución alentadora aparentemente se ha encontrado en
Kiev, una de las maneras en la que se llegó a ese resultado puede ser la clave para
poner fin a la crisis en Caracas.
De acuerdo con el Asesor Adjunto de Seguridad Nacional de EEUU, Tony Blinken,
entrevistado el 21 de febrero por Jake Tapper, de CNN , en los días previos al acuerdo
de Ucrania EEUU "informó que iba a revocar las visas de funcionarios y oligarcas"
corruptos que apoyaban al presidente Viktor Yanukovich. Además, EEUU planeaba
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 68
confiscar cuentas bancarias de los sancionados. Así lo reportó el Wall Street Journal:
"Tras los peores enfrentamientos del jueves, EEUU y la UE, después de semanas de
vacilaciones, impusieron sanciones. Las grietas en el régimen se abrieron lo suficiente
para hacer posible el acuerdo" ( WSJ, sábado 22 de febrero de 2014).
Por qué a EEUU le tomó tanto tiempo para utilizar esta herramienta de bajo costo pero
inmensamente eficaz es un misterio. Cualquiera que haya tenido el privilegio de servir
como embajador de EEUU sabe que la concesión o denegación de visas
norteamericanas es uno de los más poderosos instrumentos que tiene una embajada. Si
una embajada quiere ganar una amistad rápidamente, o perder una aún más
rápidamente, basta conceder o denegar la entrada a EEUU a un prepotente funcionario
o magnate local.
La misma amenaza que al parecer ayudó a resolver la crisis de Ucrania favorablemente
(al menos para la mayoría de los ucranianos, EEUU y Occidente, si no para Vladimir
Putin) se puede aplicar a Venezuela. En respuesta a la violenta represión a las
manifestaciones pacíficas por parte del gobierno socialista de Nicolás Maduro, EEUU
debería notificar discretamente a los generales y oligarcas de Venezuela que si la
violencia contra los civiles desarmados continúa, o el gobierno se niega a negociar
con la oposición y liberar a todos los presos políticos, ellos y sus familias tendrán sus
visas estadounidenses revocadas y sus cuentas y propiedades en el extranjero
Será una sorpresa para muchos estadounidenses saber que los viernes por la tarde los
aeropuertos de la Florida ven una oleada de aviones privados llegar llenos de
"revolucionarios" venezolanos, trayendo a las familias y amigos de la élite política,
militar y económica de ese país, y en muchos casos a "Sus Excelencias" mismas: los
generales y ministros del gobierno.
Ellos prefieren las playas del sur de Florida, los hoteles, restaurantes y sobre todo los
distritos de compras de alto nivel a los de su propia tierra. Las razones son claras:
EEUU es un país seguro, no como las calles de Caracas que la revolución ha hecho
peligrosas a través de la destrucción del estado de derecho. En las tiendas de Estados
Unidos pueden encontrar todos los productos que ya no están disponibles en
Venezuela, como el pan, la leche y el pollo, o los que les gusta llevar de nuevo a
Venezuela, como teléfonos móviles chapados en oro.
Por otra parte, en EEUU hay menos posibilidades de que serán reconocidos como la
"nueva clase" de explotadores que ha saqueado su nación y por tanto son menos
propensos a ser insultados por los transeúntes. Al principio de la revolución
"bolivariana" de Chávez, los venezolanos comenzaron a llamar esta clase de
privilegiados "los boligarcas", una contracción de "oligarcas bolivarianos", quienes se
convirtieron inimaginablemente ricos a través del acceso a los contratos públicos que
se reciben sin competencia y por los cuales pagaron sobornos ilegales a los otorgantes.
La ironía de pasar sus fines de semana y vacaciones en EEUU, el "imperio" al que su
gobierno insulta constantemente, se les escapa a estos boligarcas. En su mayor parte
no se trata de personas que han pasado un tiempo excesivo en las universidades -la
educación formal de Maduro, por ejemplo, nunca pasó de la escuela secundaria.
Aunque consciente de la paradoja, están tan acostumbrados a la buena vida en
Venezuela que se imaginan que es un privilegio universal que se han ganado como
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 69
consecuencia de sus elevados puestos, y no de la manera en que los obtuvieron: el
soborno, la duplicidad, poder de monopolio o la extraña desaparición de un rival.
Muchos de ellos han adquirido propiedades de lujo en EEUU mansiones suntuosas,
enormes yates, flotas de aviones. También han invertido en empresas legítimas para
lavar su dinero malhabido, al igual que otras familias del crimen organizado hicieron
antes que ellos.
La revocación de visas de Estados Unidos es un instrumento limpio y rápido a la
interrogante sobre qué hacer con los nuevos autoritarios en América Latina (y en otros
lugares). La autoridad ejecutiva descansa en la Sección 212 de la Ley de Inmigración y
Nacionalidades, en la Proclama Presidencial 7750 también conocida como la
"resolución contra la cleptocracia", y en la Ley Patriota. Se han utilizado antes en
numerosas ocasiones, pero no lo suficiente en los últimos años.
Como EEUU reconoció en Ucrania, estos "oligarcas" son los individuos que permiten a
los regímenes autoritarios mantenerse en el poder. En muchos casos se trata de
funcionarios del régimen en sí. Están motivados exclusivamente por el interés propio y
usan la ideología y la retórica de izquierda como una máscara para sus robos. Es
suficientemente inmoral con que estén destruyendo países enteros, como Ucrania o
Venezuela, pero si permitimos que disfruten de los frutos de su negocio ilícito en
nuestro país, entonces nosotros somos cómplices de su corrupción.
Los Departamentos de Estado de EEUU, el Tesoro, Seguridad Interna y muchas
agencias como la CIA, la DEA, el FBI, la SEC, IRS, y otras, tienen los nombres y datos
de estos individuos. Todo lo que se necesita para poner en práctica una vez más esta
política es la voluntad política.
Cuantioso robo en Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba.
26 febrero, 2014
Por Ivette Leyva Martínez
Decenas de cuadros fueron sustraídos del Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA)
en La Habana, en lo que se vislumbra como el mayor desfalco del patrimonio
pictórico cubano de las últimas décadas.
“Hay decenas de obras que no aparecen en el almacén”, dijo a Café Fuerte una
fuente vinculada a esa institución cultural. “La mayoría son cuadros de la
Las obras se encontraban en el almacén del antiguo edificio del Departamento
Técnico de Investigaciones (DTI), que pertenece a la entidad tras la remodelación
emprendida en el 2001. La seguridad del local estaba a cargo de custodios
El desfalco se detectó la semana pasada cuando algunas obras comenzaron a
aparecer en Miami, ofrecidas a marchantes (dealers) de arte de esta ciudad.
Una investigación de peritos del Ministerio del Interior y especialistas de patrimonio
está en marcha.
Grandes maestros cubanos
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 70
Según la información obtenida por Café Fuerte, se trata de obras de grandes
maestros de la pintura cubana. Al parecer, la información del robo fluyó a través de
dealers desde Estados Unidos.
“Hubo alguien que se percató de que las obras que le mostraron pertenecían a los
fondos cubanos y alertó a personal de Bellas Artes y de lo que estaba pasando”,
señaló la fuente que pidió no ser identificada.
Al menos dos comerciantes de arte en Miami dijeron tener conocimiento de obras
de Leopoldo Romañach (1862-1951), que comenzaron a circular en fecha reciente
en el mercado del sur de la Florida.
Se desconoce la cantidad de obras sustraídas, pero los testimonios consultados las
cuantifican en un número cercano al centenar. Se cree que en su mayoría de las
piezas pertenecen al movimiento conocido como vanguardismo, de las décadas de
los años 20 y 30 del siglo XX.
Las autoridades cubanas no suelen informar del robo de las obras de arte, y
muchas ni siquiera están circuladas por Interpol.
Asumir la responsabilidad
Marchantes y expertos de patrimonio a nivel internacional consideran que el MNBA
debería asumir la responsabilidad de divulgar de inmediato las obras que son
robadas, para que el mercado del arte cubano pueda protegerse y evitar que se
comercialicen piezas y objetos sustraídos, convirtiendo a sus potenciales
compradores en víctimas directas de los malhechores.
No es la primera vez que se producen robos masivos de los fondos del MNBA.
En 1995, las autoridades cubanas desarticularon una red de contrabando de obras
de arte dirigida por Arquímides Matienzo, administrador del museo, y detuvieron a
otras cinco personas, entre ellas un ciudadano italiano. La pandilla sustrajo unos 40
cuadros del museo.
Fundado en 1913, el MNBA es la institución encargada de atesorar y conservar las
obras pertenecientes al patrimonio plástico de Cuba. El museo posee la más
importante colección de arte cubano desde el siglo XVI hasta la actualidad, y es
dirigido por Moraima Clavijo Colom.
Sigue creciendo la delincuencia en la capital cubana
Posted on February 26, 2014 by Mario Hechavarria-Driggs
Los asaltos a turistas extranjeros, el robo en viviendas y propiedades del estado han crecido en la capital
Por Mario Hechavarría Driggs, Reportero Independiente
Policias jineteros en La Habana Cuba
Esas fueron las palabras del capitán de la policía Ignacio Villanueva, en una reunión
efectuada en el cuartel de la Brigada Especializada del municipio Habana Vieja en la
tarde del pasado Lunes.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 71
“La mayoría de los delincuentes son jóvenes menores de 20 años que ni trabajan ni
estudian”. Ellos seleccionan y marcan el objetivo teniendo en cuenta el nivel económico.
“Hay todo un estudio para cometer el delito”, aseguró Villanueva. “Se puede hablar de
pandillas con un nivel de organización”.
El oficial habló de la prostitución en las calles, el consumo de drogas y las medidas que
se tomaran para enfrentar estos males. Una de esas medidas es el reclutamiento de la
juventud comunista para que ingresen en el Ministerio del interior por un tiempo de
servicio no menor de dos años.
Se activaran las guardias operativas de la policía con los miembros de los Comité de
Defensa de la Revolución y se actualizará el libro del potencial contrarrevolucionario
que vive en la cuadra.
Huber Matos: Cuban revolution leader dies in Miami
BBC News, 02-27-14
Huber Matos died at 95 maintaining his opinion that Cuba's regime was a "dictatorship"
The only exiled dissident among the original leaders of the 1959 Cuban revolution,
Huber Matos, has died in Miami at the age of 95.
He was arrested in 1960 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for sedition.
Human rights groups campaigned for his case until his release and expulsion from Cuba
in 1979.
Mr Matos eventually settled in Florida after a period in Costa Rica, where his remains
are to be taken after a funeral in Miami.
Mr Matos fought the troops of general Fulgencio Batista in 1959 alongside Fidel Castro
but later fell out with the communist leader.
A statement released by relatives said Mr Matos had died on 27 February at Miami's
Kendall Regional Hospital of a massive heart attack he had suffered two days earlier.
'Return to Cuba'
The former revolutionary fighter's funeral will be in Miami on Sunday before his remains
are taken to Costa Rica, as he had wished.
"I want to make my return trip to Cuba from the same land whose people have always
showed me solidarity and care. I want to rest in Costa Rican soil until Cuba is free before
I go to Yara, to join my mother and father and other Cubans," he had said.
Born in Yara in 1918, Huber Matos graduated as a teacher in Santiago, before pursuing
a PhD in the capital, Havana.
The first time Costa Rica welcomed him was in 1957, when he had to leave Cuba
because of his opposition of the rule of Gen Fulgencio Batista.
He is thought to have been instrumental in the Cuban insurrection by Fidel Castro's
Sierra Maestra rebels by smuggling the weapons they used from Costa Rica
But when Mr Matos stepped down as a rebel military commander, Fidel Castro ordered
his arrest.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 72
Huber Matos (R) was one of the 1959 main leaders, alongside Camilo Cienfuegos (L) and Fidel
Castro (C)
Sentenced to 20 years in prison for sedition, he was released in 1979 and immediately
left for San Jose, Costa Rica.
In an interview with the BBC, Andy Gomez, a former University of Miami scholar and
friend of the former revolutionary, said that Mr Huber had suffered terrible torture during
his jail term.
But he also added that the prison sentence itself was a testament to how close Mr Matos
must have been to Fidel Castro.
"Many people claim that when Huber Matos fell out of favour, Fidel put him in jail and did
not kill him... he assassinated other people that were close to him," he said.
Mr Matos eventually settled in Miami, where he became involved in Cuban politics.
The former military commander considered the government led by Fidel and Raul Castro
a "dictatorship".
Huber Matos v Fidel Castro: the verdict of history
Democracy Digest, 02-27-14
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had fled on the early morning hours of New
Year’s Day, 1959, writes Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba. And a
week later Fidel Castro was finally entering Havana surrounded by thousands of
cheering, adoring Cubans. At his side (right), on top of a tank near a Cuban flag
was Huber Matos, like Fidel a commandant de la revolucion, the highest rank in
the Rebel Army, subordinate only lower to Fidel himself as Commander in Chief.
Fidel Castro named Matos military governor of one of Cuba’s six provinces; his
brother Raul was governor of another. But there was no happier day for Matos,
and for that generation of Cubans, than their triumphal march into Havana.
Everything seemed possible, including an end to Cuban political prisoners,
corruption and exiles.
Matos had earned his rank fighting in the guerrilla insurrection in the Sierra
Maestra mountains. He had brought on a small aircraft full of rifles from Costa
Rica at a critical time of the war. And he was now at Fidel’s side on top of a tank
in the middle of an adoring multitude surrounded by Cuban flags. The scene
which appeared many times live on Cuban TV, and the photographs reproduced
many times on newspapers now free of Batista’s censorship, became an icon of
the times, some would say of Cuba’s history.
But less than a year later, unhappy with the growing Communist presence in the
Rebel Army, Matos had resigned and sent a letter to Fidel, reminding his
commander in chief that great men become less great when they are no longer
just, and asking permission to return to civilian life to become a school teacher.
Fidel’s reaction was quick: he charged Matos with slandering the revolution and
treason, and had him detained and brought to Havana to remain in prison until
his trial where Fidel himself would be the main accuser. Several of Matos’s fellow
officers also resigned, and subsequently went on trial with him. One officer,
despondent about what was happening committed suicide. Meanwhile, Fidel felt
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 73
that Matos had been ungrateful, that he had been generous with him, as if Matos
had not earned his rank in the guerrilla fight in the mountains.
Then, as happened under Stalin in Soviet Russia, Matos disappeared from the
photo with Fidel, and from all other photographs and films.
At the trial, Fidel Castro, the main accuser, spoke for hours. The government
kept repeating that Matos was giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the
revolution which at the time –December, 1959 – already included the United
States and the Catholic Church.
Sentenced to 20 years, Matos was released after completing his sentence and
went into exile in the United States. .He died today in Florida.
At his own trial years earlier, after assaulting a military HQ where many died,
Fidel Castro said that history would absolve him. But the history of Cuba is
unlikely to be kind to Fidel, while Huber Matos’s legacy of courage and honor will
live forever.
Huber Matos: The passing of a Cuban patriot
Miami Herald, Posted on Thursday, 02.27.14
It was 1958, and he was a schoolteacher and a small rice grower near the Sierra Maestra
mountains in Cuba’s easternmost province. Unhappy with Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship,
he carried rifles to the rebels amid the produce of his farm.
Alerted that Batista’s police were after him, he went into exile in Costa Rica. He returned on
a small aircraft bringing in weapons. The aircraft landed at Cienaguilla in the foothills of the
mountains. He joined the guerrilla war and rose to the rank of Comandante, the highest rank
in the Rebel Army. Two years later he broke with Fidel Castro over the issue of communism.
Condemned to 20 years by a kangaroo court, he served his sentence, became a symbol of
the Cuban opposition to totalitarianism and went into exile. His name was Huber Matos, and
he died in Miami on Thursday at the age of 95.
The revolution came to power in January 1959 after Batista fled. In a triumphant march into
Havana, surrounded by thousands of cheering, adoring Cubans, was Fidel Castro. At his
side, on top of a tank, stood Matos. After Matos parted ways with the L íder M áximo, his
image promptly disappeared whenever that photograph was used by Cuba’s media, but
elsewhere the original remains as proof of historical truth.
As time went by, just like under Josef Stalin, the history of the revolution was rewritten on a
regular basis, and names and provocative photographs disappeared from the public record.
Besides Matos, the first hand-picked president of the Revolutionary Government (exiled),
minister of agriculture (executed), chief of the Revolutionary Air Force (exiled), and
several comandantes were executed over the issue of communism. Some, realizing how many
of their friends had died in vain, committed suicide.
After the 1959 victory, Fidel Castro named Matos military governor of Camaguey province.
Raúl Castro was named governor of Oriente province and Comandante William Gálvez, later
executed for opposing communism, governor of Matanzas.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 74
Shortly after Fidel named his brother Raúl head of the Cuban Armed Forces, Matos,
concerned about the growing infiltration of the rebel army by communists, resigned his army
commission. In a private letter to Fidel Castro, he wrote: “I don’t want to become an obstacle
to the Revolution and I believe that, facing the option of adapting myself or to resign to
prevent greater misfortunes, the honest and ‘revolutionary’ thing to do is to leave,” he wrote,
adding: “If after my dedication to the country, I were to be ambitious or to conspire, this could
be a motive for me to regret not being one of the many comrades who died in the struggle.”
If Matos still harbored hopes that Fidel Castro was not fully cognizant of what was
happening, they were quickly dashed when Fidel publicly denounced him for slandering the
revolution and ordered the takeover of the city of Camaguey by the armed forces.
Matos had gone home, where, despite urging from his military officers to fight back, he
waited patiently for his arrest.
Commander Camilo Cienfuegos, head of the Rebel Army, arrived in Camaguey and met with
Matos. After appraising the situation in the military base, he told Matos that he would explain
to Fidel that there was no conspiracy and everything was peaceful and normal in the city.
Cienfuegos took off in a small aircraft but disappeared on an overland flight and was never
Fourteen of Matos’ officers resigned. One committed suicide. Matos and others were
eventually tried by a military court, with Fidel Castro as the main accuser. He claimed Matos
had committed treason by lying about the revolution. The implication was that by raising the
issue of communism, which at the time Castro had been denying, Matos was providing
fodder for the revolution’s critics, including the United States, which had early on objected to
the Revolutionary Tribunals and executions.
The National Leadership of Fidel Castro’s 26 of July Movement resigned, and Matos was
sentenced to 20 years in prison, together with other officers. He served his sentence, went
into exile, and founded Independent and Democratic Cuba, his political movement. He wrote
his memoirs, How Night Fell.
With his passing, another of the iconic figures of the Cuban insurrection has died. Sadly,
many of Matos’ generation believed in Fidel Castro and died on behalf of a democratic
revolution that never was.
Frank Calzon is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba, based in Washington, D.C.
Huber Matos v Fidel Castro: the verdict of history
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had fled on the early morning hours of New Year’s
Day, 1959, writes Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba. And a week later Fidel
Castro was finally entering Havana surrounded by thousands of cheering, adoring
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 75
Cubans. At his side (right), on top of a tank near a Cuban flag was Huber Matos, like
Fidel a commandant de la revolución, the highest rank in the Rebel Army, subordinate
only lower to Fidel himself as Commander in Chief.
Fidel Castro named Matos military governor of one of Cuba’s six provinces; his brother
Raul was governor of another. But there was no happier day for Matos, and for that
generation of Cubans, than their triumphal march into Havana. Everything seemed
possible, including an end to Cuban political prisoners, corruption and exiles.
Matos had earned his rank fighting in the guerrilla insurrection in the Sierra Maestra
mountains. He had brought on a small aircraft full of rifles from Costa Rica at a critical
time of the war. And he was now at Fidel’s side on top of a tank in the middle of an
adoring multitude surrounded by Cuban flags. The scene which appeared many times live
on Cuban TV, and the photographs reproduced many times on newspapers now free of
Batista’s censorship, became an icon of the times, some would say of Cuba’s history.
But less than a year later, unhappy with the growing Communist presence in the Rebel
Army, Matos had resigned and sent a letter to Fidel, reminding his commander in chief
that great men become less great when they are no longer just, and asking permission to
return to civilian life to become a school teacher.
Fidel’s reaction was quick: he charged Matos with slandering the revolution and treason,
and had him detained and brought to Havana to remain in prison until his trial where
Fidel himself would be the main accuser. Several of Matos’s fellow officers also
resigned, and subsequently went on trial with him. One officer, despondent about what
was happening committed suicide. Meanwhile, Fidel felt that Matos had been ungrateful,
that he had been generous with him, as if Matos had not earned his rank in the guerrilla
fight in the mountains.
Then, as happened under Stalin in Soviet Russia, Matos disappeared from the photo with
Fidel, and from all other photographs and films.
At the trial, Fidel Castro, the main accuser, spoke for hours. The government kept
repeating that Matos was given aid and comfort to the enemies of the revolution which at
the time –December, 1959 – already included the United States and the Catholic Church.
Sentenced to 20 years, Matos was released after completing his sentence and went into
exile in the United States. .He died today in Florida.
At his own trial years earlier, after assaulting a military HQ where many died, Fidel
Castro said that history would absolve him. But the history of Cuba is unlikely to be kind
to Fidel, while Huber Matos’s legacy of courage and honor will live forever.
The Latell Report
February-March 2014
The Latell Report analyzes Cuba's contemporary domestic and foreign policy, and is published
periodically. It is distributed by the electronic information service of the Cuba Transition Project
(CTP) at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS).
Cuban Strategy in Venezuela
Last Sunday Raul Castro set out the essence of Cuban policy toward the increasingly volatile
situation in Venezuela. Speaking to the Cuban labor confederation he described it as “a complex
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 76
crisis,” indicating considerable alarm in Havana about how Cuba’s vital economic and security
interests might be affected.
Memories of the outcomes of three earlier crises in Caribbean and Latin American countries
tightly allied with Cuba must be worrying Raul and others in the leadership.
In September 1973 Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile in a savage military coup
as the Marxist upheaval that he led for three years in a partnership with Fidel Castro
ended. Allende’s death in the coup was a devastating blow to Cuban prestige and a
significant personal loss for Castro. Allende was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying
a submachine gun Fidel had given him when he committed suicide in the presidential
Ten years later in tiny Grenada, Cuban ally Maurice Bishop was the victim of a surprise
coup that installed the more radical Cord-Austin regime in power. But Bishop was
executed by a firing squad, along with a number of his supporters, giving rise to chaos
and an American military intervention supported by several other Caribbean states that
restored democratic rule. Bishop had been particularly close to Fidel Castro, an adoring
acolyte. His death was another serious blow to Cuban aspirations for leadership among
third world and developing nations.
In 1990, the closest of all the Cuban allied regimes was turned out of office in democratic
elections. Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista revolution, tied inextricably to Cuba since the
1960s, had lost. Of the three regional disasters for Cuban influence, this was the most
punishing for Havana.
But none of these calamities for Cuba compares to the enormity of the possible loss of Venezuela
if the Bolivarian revolution loses power as a result of the massive demonstrations and unrest that
has buffeted the country for two weeks now. Cuba receives enormous financial and other forms
of assistance from Caracas, amounting recently to as much as $13 billion annually according to
respected economists.
It is not surprising then, that Raul expressed full support for Venezuelan president Nicolas
Maduro, praising his “intelligence and firmness in the way he has handled” the crisis. Raul gave
assurances of Cuba’s “full support for the Bolivarian and Chavista revolution and compañero
Nicolas Maduro.”
Siding unmistakably with the brutal tactics of the Venezuelan security forces, Raul condemned
“energetically” the “violent incidents unleashed by fascist groups” in Venezuela, “causing deaths
and scores of injuries.” He implied that the United States was supporting the anti-government
demonstrators and might even consider intervening.
It is not surprising that Cuba is unequivocally backing its man in Caracas. Maduro, after all, was
the Cuban regime’s choice to succeed Hugo Chavez after his death a year ago. Maduro appeared
at the time to be the best candidate, well known to Cuban intelligence and diplomatic officers,
and considered to be a thoroughly reliable ally. The likely concerns they had about Maduro’s
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 77
abilities and qualifications were put aside.
But how long will Havana support him? Maduro's leadership has come under increasing pressure
as protests have intensified. He has made a number of laughable blunders. The governor of
Tachira state criticized Maduro’s handling of demonstrations in his state, a stronghold of antigovernment sentiment. More importantly, the governor for years has been a close ally of
assembly president Diosdado Cabello, considered Maduro’s principal rival in the Bolivarian
Raul Castro and his numerous emissaries in Venezuela are unlikely to stay indefinitely behind
Maduro if his standing sinks to anything close to an untenable situation. The Cuban stake in
receiving continued Venezuelan largesse is so great, that Raul will likely do whatever seems
necessary to keep the spigot open. If that meant moving with Venezuelan military and other
allies to dump the president under some pretext, he would be the victim of cold Cuban
But such a decision would be fraught with risks. Would Cabello, or some other anointed
successor, prove to be as reliable an ally? Would a Cuban-engineered coup arouse even greater
opposition in the streets, and possibly in the Venezuelan military? Anecdotal reports of mounting
popular animosity toward the large Cuban presence in Venezuela are being heard more often.
If opposition protests continue, and adverse trends persist, will the Bolivarian revolution survive?
If not, the damage to the Cuban economy will be devastating---though probably not as terrible as
when Soviet assistance was terminated. How then would Raul Castro’s government deal with
such a crippling crisis?
Brian Latell is the author of Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA, and the Assassination
of John F. Kennedy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). A former National Intelligence Officer for
Latin America, he is now a senior research associate at the Institute for Cuban & CubanAmerican Studies, University of Miami.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at
Venezuela-Cuba alliance’s shaky future fuels debate
By Paul Guzzo | Tribune Staff
Published: February 27, 2014
TAMPA — Both sides of the Cuba debate are citing the latest crisis in South America to
make their case, saying the uprising in Venezuela provides clear evidence that the U.S.
should alternately continue or halt its long-standing Cuban travel and trade embargo.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 78
Cut off the crucial partnership between these two nations — tens of thousands of skilled
workers go to Venezuela in return for $3.5 billion in oil for Cuba each year — then
tighten the embargo even further and watch the Castro regime collapse, one side
Among those espousing this view are people who have taken to the streets of Tampa
and other Florida cities in support of anti-government protesters in Venezuela who have
risen up this month in sometimes fatal opposition to the government of President Nicolàs
Some on the other side of the debate shake their heads at this notion. The current
unrest in Venezuela, they say, and its potential fallout for Cuba provides an opening to
end the embargo once and for all. The U.S., they say, should help Cuba develop its own
oil industry.
Either way, if the uprising ends or even strains the mutual dependency between Cuba
and Venezuela, it stands to fundamentally change relations between the U.S. and this
island nation just 90 miles off Florida’s shores.
“It would be a failed state,” said Jorge Piñon, interim director of the University of Texas
at Austin’s Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy. “You have to
consider, is it in the better interest of the U.S. to have Cuba as a failed state or as a state
you can work with in transition into democracy?”
Cuba and Venezuela have been partners since the late Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez announced he was guiding his country toward full socialism. Chavez struck the
oil-for-professionals deal in 2000 with his self-professed mentor, Fidel Castro.
Today, Cuba sends Venezuela 30,000 to 50,000 skilled workers such as doctors, nurses
and technicians.
❖ ❖ ❖
If the protests succeed, and a new Venezuelan government was to end the barter, Cuba
could not pay its petroleum-rich partner for the 150,000 barrels a day of oil it needs to
fuel its economy.
The Cuban government has announced intentions to explore for oil in 2015 but oil
experts say it would take five to seven years after a supply is located to ramp up.
Cuba has been through such an economic crisis before. It was called “The Special
Period,” the decade following the collapse of Cuba’s previous oil patron — the Soviet
Infrastructure crumbled. Citizens went hungry.
Cuba survived the crisis, in part through the bailout by Venezuela with its oil-forprofessionals deal.
This time, Piñon said, things would be different.
Piñon was part of a team of scholars at the Brookings Institution who in 2009 released
the report, “Cuba: A New policy of Critical and Constructive Engagement,” which urged
the U.S. to normalize relations with Cuba — going so far as to recommend helping Cuba
with oil exploration. This approach, the report said, is better for U.S. interests than
Cuba’s continued reliance on Venezuela.
Pinon said he and a team of scholars spent 18 months running through different
scenarios of another oil-driven economic collapse for Cuba.
“There is no one who can help them now,” Pinon said. “Cuba has spoken to the
Brazilians, the Angolans, Russia and Algeria — the four countries politically aligned with
Cuba with crude oil exports. None have the capacity to give away that much oil.”
Not even communist China seems willing to provide the oil or the capital needed to
purchase it, Pinon said.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 79
What’s more, facing this potential financial crisis, Cuba would do so with a Castro regime
that is much older.
❖ ❖ ❖
At 87, Fidel already has aged himself out of power. Raul is 82.
Who would succeed them raises concerns, Pinon said: “The vacuum that would be
created could be taken over by drug cartels.”
Perhaps not directly, he said, by committing billions of dollars to buy oil. Rather, through
bribery of a politically weak post-Castro government, with an eye toward transshipment
points for smuggling to the U.S.
Piñon favors an immediate policy shift to constructive engagement with a Cuban
government the U.S. knows rather than risk dealing with strangers and a nation in
On the other hand, Tampa attorney and longtime pro-embargo activist Ralph Fernandez
said the possibility of a failed state is exactly why the U.S. should clamp down on
economic sanctions against Cuba rather than loosen them if Venezuela breaks the
He said that once the Castros are out of power and Communism is swept from the
island, Cuban Americans from throughout the United States would flock there to help
“There is a ton of political exile money in the United States,” Fernandez said. “These are
people who are staunchly opposed to investing in Cuba now but would do so if Cuba
was free of the Castros.”
Maura Barrios of Tampa, a longtime activist for normalized relations with Cuba who has
visited the island a dozen times, scoffed at both assessments of Cuba without
Neither the Cuban government nor its citizens would welcome U.S. interests back unless
the current government was recognized and the embargo was lifted, Barrios said.
Before the Cuban revolution, U.S. companies controlled the island’s sugar, railway and
petroleum industries and held majority interests in the telephone and electrical services,
and U.S. banks held one-quarter of all Cuba deposits.
Cuban citizens are taught that the U.S. gained this control because Cuban presidents
agreed to serve as U.S. puppets in return for power and money.
“Fidel is smart,” Barrios said. “He has never let the people forget why the revolution took
place. It was a reaction to 50 years of U.S. domination.”
“Cuba Si Yankee No,” Barrios said, was the rallying cry of the Cuban revolution.
❖ ❖ ❖
Still, Barrios doesn’t buy into the failed state scenario. New leaders are poised to replace
the Castros.
“That system is institutionalized from top to bottom,” Barrios said. “There are plenty of
people who could fill that void.”
During the post-Soviet Special Period, she said, Cuba handled its transportation shortfall
by purchasing 1 million bicycles from China. And a strict food rationing program was put
in place to make up for the slowdown in fuel-starved agricultural production.
“Cubans like to call themselves the cockroaches of the Americas,” she quipped. “That
means they always survive. The government will do what is necessary.”
Another scenario comes from Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of U.S.-Cuba Democracy
PAC, a Washington D.C. lobbying group promoting democracy in Cuba.
During the Special Period, Claver-Carone said, Cuba began making economic reforms.
For instance, farmers were allowed to sell surplus production and some self-employment
was permitted.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 80
Fidel Castro made these exceptions, he said, to retain power. When the people get
antsy, the philosophy goes, promise them changes.
Recent reforms started when Venezuela’s Chavez grew ill in 2011. Raul Castro, ClaverCarone said, knew the partnership would be in jeopardy once Chavez died.
All this argues for tightening the embargo, Claver-Carone said.
“It’s hard to believe anyone would think a 55-year dictatorship would do anything for
reasons other than to stay in power,” he said. “If they believed in democracy and open
markets, they wouldn’t have headed a totalitarian regime for 55 years.”
(813) 259-7606
Russia warship docks in Havana harbor
February 27, 2014 3:06 PM
An American classic car drives past the Russian warship the Viktor Leonov CCB-175,
docked in Havana's harbor in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. The Russian
warship that is one of the fleet’s Vishnya-class ships which are generally used for
intelligence gathering was docked in the harbor on Thursday, a day after the country's
defense minister announced plans to expand Russia's worldwide military presence. (AP
Photo/Franklin Reyes)
HAVANA (AP) — A Russian warship was docked in the Havana harbor on Thursday, a
day after the country's defense minister announced plans to expand Russia's worldwide
military presence.
The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 — one of the fleet's Vishnya-class ships, which are
generally used for intelligence gathering — drew looks from curious residents as it sat
tied up at the cruise terminal in Old Havana. Both Russian and Cuban flags fluttered from
its guy wires.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 81
Cuban official media made no immediate mention of its port call.
Locals shrugged at the ship's appearance, as well as Moscow's announcement Wednesday
that it was seeking permission for naval vessels to use ports in Cuba and other countries
in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere.
"I think every country has the right to live the way they want to live and defend
themselves," said Armando Torres, a 54-year-old cook who passed by the ship on his
way to work in the morning. "We are a country that has always been oppressed and
blockaded for so many years."
Cuba and the Soviet Union had close military and economic ties during the Cold War, but
the relationship faded after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The CCB-175 is reportedly equipped with sophisticated electronic surveillance gear
along with ship-to-air missiles and 30mm anti-aircraft guns.
La Armada Rusa envía buque de inteligencia a La Habana
Posted on February 28, 2014 by Mario Hechavarria-Driggs
Al mediodía del Miércoles llegó al Puerto Habanero el buque de inteligencia de la Armada Rusa, CCB175. Hasta el momento de redactar esta nota informativa el gobierno cubano no ha ofrecido detalles de
tan distinguida visita.
Por Mario Hechavarria Driggs, La Habana
Reportero Independiente.
El CCB-175 es un buque ruso de tecnología avanzada, destinado a labores de inteligencia. Foto Archivos
En horas del mediodía del Miércoles llegó al muelle Sierra Maestra del puerto Habanero
el buque CCB- 175 de la Flota del Norte, Armada Naval Rusa, en visita no divulgada por
los medios de información nacionales.
El CCB -175 es un barco de tecnología avanzada, destinado para labores de
inteligencia y lucha radioelectrónica, esto significa la utilización de equipos sofisticados
en todos los niveles y modalidades de combate.
Los instrumentos de la nave le permiten recopilar cualquier tipo de información, crear
interferencias radiales, bloquear señales satelitales y pinchar líneas telefónicas. Además
posee un moderno sistema de radar MR- 800 Flag que le permite una alerta temprana
con posibilidad de lanzar misiles hacia el objetivo.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 82
El almirante Vladimir Masorin actual comandante de la Armada Marítima Rusa dijo en
una ocasión que su país pretende construir para los próximos años la segunda fuerza
combativa mundial, por lo tanto la armada rusa necesitaba de puertos amigos.
About Mario Hechavarria-Driggs
Mario Hechavarria Driggs reside en La Habana y es el Director para Cuba de Polioro.Com y Servicios de
Información LinCu
Balance de la agricultura castrista en 2013: ¿entre los incumplimientos y la
falta de exigencia?
Posted: 28 Feb 2014 03:51 AM PST
Elías Amor Bravo, economista
¿O tal vez hay algo más?
El Ministerio de Agricultura, Minag, acaba de realizar su balance anual y un artículo de Arianna
Ceballo en Granma, da cuenta del mismo. En varias ocasiones he señalado que los principales
problemas de la agricultura castrista tienen su origen en las transformaciones decretadas por la
llamada "revolución" a comienzos de los años 60 que trastocaron el sistema jurídico de derechos
de propiedad, concentrando por medio de la llamada "reforma agraria" los activos en manos del
estado que, al mismo tiempo, pasaba a convertirse en decisor único de lo qué se produce, en qué
cantidad y a qué precios, sustituyendo la función que la Economía atribuye a la institución del
mercado libre.
A esa pésima elección política e institucional, dominio absoluto de la economía por el estado y
planificación central, se añaden los bajos niveles de productividad sectorial, el exceso de empleo
que se concentra en el sector y la ausencia de incentivos para la mejora. Como consecuencia de
ello, la agricultura castrista no es capaz de producir lo suficiente para alimentar a la población y
año tras año, el régimen tiene que importar alimentos que, casualidad, proceden de forma
mayoritaria de Estados Unidos, con el que existe el contencioso del llamado "bloqueo".
Y con este panorama desolador, los cambios introducidos a partir de 2006 cuando Raúl Castro
lanzó sus “Lineamientos”, se limitan a arreglos superficiales como la entrega en arrendamiento de
las tierras ociosas invadidas por el marabú y la autorización para construir pequeños bohíos en el
campo. No se ha actuado en lo más relevante, ni siquiera se han impulsado los cambios
anunciados en la distribución y logística de los medios de producción y de los productos
elaborados que se han quedado como "experimentos" en Mayabeque y poco más. Las reformas
son tan solo arreglos cosméticos de cara a la galería europea, que siguen otorgando al estado
totalitario, en este caso, al departamento del Minag, la máxima responsabilidad en la gestión de
un sector que, una vez más, presenta un balance dominado por el fracaso.
Según el responsable del Minag, la agricultura en 2013 ha funcionado mal por los problemas
financieros del sistema empresarial (las cuentas por cobrar y por pagar de siempre) y las bases
productivas del organismo estatal, dotado de 12 funciones que enmarcan su modelo de actuación.
El balance presentado por las autoridades es dramático: 86 empresas cerraron con pérdidas
económicas, por un importe de 210 035 700 pesos. Por su parte, el sector cooperativo aportó
alguna luz de esperanza,.al cerrar con más de 211 millones de beneficios, si bien otras 400
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 83
cooperativas registraron pérdidas, concentrándose el 47% de las mismas en las Unidades Básicas
de Producción (UBPC). No hay datos de estas.
Además, las pérdidas se produjeron en la ganadería (58 millones), en la Unión de acopio (69 696
000 pesos) y cultivos varios (48 820 000 pesos). Junto a las pérdidas, el Minag ha destacado los
“incumplimientos” en diez producciones. Entre ellas se encuentran el frijol, el arroz consumo, la
carne vacuna, la leche fresca, los huevos y los cítricos frescos, que tienen una gran relevancia en la
dieta alimentaria de los cubanos.
En particular, y por lo que respecta al arroz, desde el Minag se indicaron dificultades en los
retrasos en la siembra de frío y primavera —que provocaron el corrimiento de la cosecha—; la
utilización de semillas de mala calidad; o las frecuentes “indisciplinas agrotécnicas y falta de
seguimiento y control en algunas empresas”. Para gente que lleva trabajando tantos años en esta
actividad, cuesta comprender por qué se pueden cometer estos fallos.
Los datos relativos a la cabaña ganadera tampoco son positivos. Las autoridades reconocen que
cuando se afirma que “la principal causa de muerte es el hurto y sacrificio, no es verdad”, El año
pasado esta actividad costó solamente unas 14 mil cabezas, sin embargo, la mortalidad causó 184
mil muertes y solo en el mes de enero de este año afectó a 6 000 animales", indicadores de un
deficiente funcionamiento del sistema veterinario, al que las autoridades atribuyen “falta
exigencia y motivación para el trabajo". Esta situación puede ir a peor, ya que como señalan los
responsables "hay que velar por la salud del animal, no es solo ir a verlo si está enfermo, tratarlo y
ya, hay que atenderlo desde el punto de vista del manejo, la alimentación, las condiciones de
tenencia y el cuidado".
Y de cara al presente año, los acuerdos que se han adoptado van en la misma línea de siempre,
“fortalecer el control de la tierra y el control pecuario y prestar atención diferenciada y sistemática
a la contratación y cumplimiento del encargo estatal por el sistema productivo”. De modo, que el
año próximo los problemas seguirán siendo los mismos, ya que no se atiende la solución de raíz.
El sector agropecuario cubano, que alcanzó un notable grado de competitividad y productividad
en los primeros 50 años de existencia de la República es víctima de los cambios introducidos por
la llamada “revolución” a comienzos de los 60 y sigue sin levantar cabeza. Lo peor es que no se
observan síntomas de mejora. Todo lo contrario. Y ya lo dicen hasta las autoridades.
Fear and hope in Cuba over Venezuela protests
By Carlos Batista 19 hours ago
Havana (AFP) - Weeks of protests in ally Venezuela are reviving the concerns of many
Cubans dependent on the largesse of the socialist Caracas government while buoying the
opposition on the communist island.
Related Stories
Security forces break up Venezuela protests Associated Press
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 84
Ted Cruz On Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro 'Taking A Page' From Castro Playbook
Huffington Post
Venezuelans protest en masse in rival rallies AFP
Venezuelan opposition leader's arrest sought Associated Press
Police fire tear gas to end anti-Maduro protest in Venezuela AFP
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is facing his biggest test since succeeding the late
Hugo Chavez last year in a narrowly won election, with near-daily demonstrations
against his administration leaving 17 people dead since early February.
His Cuban counterpart Raul Castro has described the nationwide unrest in Venezuela -Havana's prime political and economic partner -- as "complex" and assured his "full
support for the Chavismo movement, the Bolivarian Revolution and Comrade Nicolas
Cubans do not enjoy open access to unfettered information about the unrest in Venezuela
because of restrictions on the media at home, but enough news has filtered through to
have many of them worried about the impact it might have on them economically.
The nightmare of the "special period," a time of terrible shortages that followed the fall of
the Soviet empire, another key Cuban ally, in the 1990s, is still fresh in the memory of
many Cubans.
"Things are bad again," sighed retiree Maria, 59, watching television footage of Maduro
proclaiming the student and opposition protests against him were part of a "fascist plot"
to bring him down.
Picture of the Cienfuegos oil refinery, overhauled with capital from a joint VenezuelanCuban compan …
Maria receives daily messages from her concerned children in Spain asking how Cubans
are reacting to what is happening in Venezuela, which is by far Cuba's number one
economic partner, accounting for 40 percent of the island's foreign trade.
It supplies Cuba with 100,000 barrels of oil a day at preferential terms, providing half its
energy needs. It is also the top client for services exported by Havana.
Rosa Alina Gomez, 64, a road sweeper, is also concerned, especially for the 40,000
Cuban doctors and health care professionals working in Venezuela's dilapidated
healthcare sector.
"It could do much harm to Cuba and other Latin American countries because Maduro's
government helps a lot of people," said Gomez, dragging her broom across the
cobblestones of old Havana.
- 'Bravo!' -
Anti-government demonstrators protest in eastern Caracas on February 28, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Leo Ramirez …
Not everyone shares her concerns.
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 85
Yamile Portuondo, 45, a social worker, has a daughter working as a laboratory assistant
in Venezuela, where students again clashed with security forces on Thursday when about
200 demonstrators tried to block a highway in Caracas. Security forces responded with
tear gas.
Students and the opposition have hit the streets of the capital and other cities denouncing
rampant street crime and protesting over shortages of basic goods and inflation, as well as
against the government's crackdown on demonstrators.
"Nothing will happen and Maduro will get the situation under control," said Portuondo
Some see the Venezuela unrest as a sign of hope, however.
Yoani Sanchez is a prominent Cuban opposition blogger.
Thanks to Venezuelan Telesur television, she says, widely broadcast in Cuba since last
year, Cubans have finally been able to hear the voice of Venezuela's defiant opposition.
It is not clear why Cuba has allowed the channel to be broadcast there.
"For the first time Cuba has heard the Venezuelan opposition thanks to Telesur. Bravo!"
tweeted Sanchez, 37.
"Will we one day hear the Cuban opposition too?"
US lawmakers offer measure condemning Venezuela abuses
February 28, 2014 1:39 PM
Anti-government demonstrators protest in eastern Caracas on February 28, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Leo Ramirez)
Washington (AFP) - Citing Venezuela's "inexcusable" violence against anti-government
demonstrators, US lawmakers introduced a measure Friday condemning the oppressive
tactics and urged President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on those responsible for
the crackdown.
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What's going on in Venezuela? Christian Science Monitor
The bipartisan resolution expresses House members' firm support for Venezuela's prodemocracy demonstrators and urges other governments and organizations in the region to
stand in solidarity with the protesters and help bring about a dialogue to end the crisis.
Congress "deplores acts which constitute a disregard for the rule of law, the inexcusable
violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters in Venezuela, and the
ASCE Cuban Economic News Clippings Service -- Release N 606-02-29-14 -- p. 86
growing efforts to use politically motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country's
political opposition," the non-binding resolution states.
It was unanimously approved by a foreign affairs subcommittee Friday and could soon be
brought before the full House of Representatives. A similar resolution was introduced
Thursday in the US Senate.
Venezuela is convulsing with unrest one year after the death of strongman Hugo Chavez,
a Washington adversary. At least 17 people have died in more than three weeks of
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, an author of the House measure, blasted
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for seeking to silence dissent "by unleashing the
state thugs on innocent civilians."
She also said she and other lawmakers would write a letter to Obama and introduce
legislation next week seeking to deny US visas to Venezuelan officials responsible for
the crackdown, and freeze their US assets and property.
Fellow Republican Jeff Duncan said he too would seek to introduce sanctions legislation
against Venezuela.
"I think that's important as a tool that we can use," he told the subcommittee, although he
did not provide details on what penalties he would seek against Caracas.
Duncan cited Venezuela's standing as a major drug transit hub, its huge oil reserves, and
its deep ties to Cuba, Russia and Iran as rationale for stronger US efforts to promote
democratic institutions in the South American nation.