Cuba NEWSTRACK By: Teo A. Babun, Jr. Cuba-Caribbean Development Co., Ltd. A Division of T. Babun Group, Inc. All rights reserved AUGUST, 2001 08/01/2001 Power Outages Across the Country Power outages are being experienced in various part of the country due to mooring complications with the tanker carrying fuel for the Felton Electric Plant in Holguin Province. Presently we were having problems with the mooring maneuvers of the tanker bringing fuel to the Lidio Ramon Perez and Felton Plants. This is why both plants are off line and we have outages across the entire country. The tanker already moored and it should begin pumping fuel to the electric plants in the coming hours. This is happening because the Felton Electric Plant is the largest supplier of energy in the country at this time. The Felton Plant provides 25 percent of the electricity generated in the country. It yields 500 megawatts and usually operates at full capacity. 08/01/2001 Casi un millón de toneladas en el semestre GRANMA INTERNACIONAL POR JOAQUIN ORAMAS EN el presente año se prevé en el país la extracción de aproximadamente 3,8 millones de toneladas equivalentes de petróleo crudo más gas natural asociado. Significará un 18% de crecimiento en comparación con los resultados del 2000 y el 40% del gasto de ese recurso en la Isla. Existen planes de la industria del petróleo para lograr 6 millones de toneladas de petróleo equivalente en el año 2005. 08/02/2001 Havana Tunnel Re-Opens Notimex Havana,- Vice President Carlos Lage inaugurated the reopening ceremony of the Havana Bay Tunnel, which modernization works lasted 14 months. With over 40 years in operation, the tunnel has new fire prevention,pumping, ventilation, lighting, and signaling systems, remodeled entryways,and closed-circuit television, which had a cost of over $10 million. With this investment, the city recovered a fundamental route for its life and development, for each day, over 32,000 vehicles and a quarter of a million people circulate along the tunnel, said the also secretary of the executive committee of Cuba's Council of Ministries. Over 800 Cuban workers participated in rescuing the tunnel 08/03/2001 Cuba calls Bush 'cruel,' appeals for jailed agents By Andrew Cawthorne HAVANA,(Reuters) - Cuba condemned U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday for waging an "even more cruel and shameless" war against Havana than his predecessors in the past four decades of hostility with the communist-run island. Bush came under fire several times in a proclamation by the Caribbean nation's National Assembly calling for the release of five Cuban agents jailed in Florida on spy-related charges. 08/03/2002 Perez-Roque Reports Statistics Radio Habana Cuba Report by Victor Perez Galdos Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque has participated in a meeting of the Foreign Relations Commission of the national parliament that discussed the island’s diplomatic efforts this year. Perez Roque stated that Cuba currently holds diplomatic relations with 171 countries 2 and with two countries at the consular level. He said that Cuba maintains embassies in 111 countries and that in our country there are (93) missions of nations and international organizations. The foreign minister said that Cuba maintains economic relations with (1,700) firms or companies from 64 countries and signed more than 50 agreements to protect investments and more than 400 joint enterprises. As for links of North Americans and Cubans residing in the United States, he reported that despite US Government bans and pressures, Cuba was visited last year by more than 77,000 US citizens and more than 120,000 Cuban-Americans. Perez Roque added that during the first half this year 229 high-level delegations and even four heads of state have visited Cuba. 08/04/2001 Defiant travelers to Cuba paying a price The Miami Herald BY TIM JOHNSON WASHINGTON -- U.S. citizens who defy restrictions on travel to Cuba increasingly are returning stateside to find an unexpected souvenir: a letter from the feds demanding they pay $7,500 or so in fines. The number of such penalty letters has spiked, and unsuspecting U.S. travelers are yelping in surprise at the potential cost of their travels. From May 4 to July 30, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department that monitors travel to Cuba sent out 443 letters seeking average fines of $7,500 -- a sharp increase from the 74 letters mailed from Jan. 3 to May 3. 08/04/2001 Cuba, Venezuela Increasing Ties By FABIOLA SANCHEZ The Associated Press CARACAS, Venezuela – In recent months, dozens of Venezuelan officials and ruling party leaders have visited Cuba to admire the achievements of Castro's revolution and sign trade and consulting pacts. Hundreds of Venezuelan medical patients are being treated in Cuba, and more than 200 Cuban doctors and nurses work in Venezuela. The same goes for 600 Cuban sports specialists, whose labor underscores a ``synergy'' between Cuba and Chavez's government, according to Cuban Ambassador German Sanchez Otero. The exchanges are part of a deal in which Venezuela sells Cuba oil at preferential rates in exchange for Cuban advice in tourism, sugar, health and other areas. Venezuela provides Cuba 53,000 barrels of oil a day - by some estimates worth $500 million a year. 08/04/2001 La Habana molesta por nombramientos de exiliados en EU CARLOS BATISTA / AFP LA HABANA El Parlamento cubano denunció ayer el nombramiento de ``connotados'' militantes anticastristas en ``posiciones claves'' de la administración del presidente George W. Bush, con el fin de ``asegurar la ejecución de su política anticubana'', según una declaración aprobada por los legisladores. Al abrir su primera sesión anual, la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular aprobó la declaración en que exige la libertad de cinco cubanos presos en Miami bajo cargos de espionaje y denuncia la designación de ``sujetos de connotada trayectoria en la guerra contra Cuba'', en ``puestos claves'' del gobierno. 08/04/2001 Bush: `Wet foot-dry foot' policy will stay in place BY FRANK DAVIES WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Friday that the controversial policy of the Clinton administration to send Cubans rescued on the high seas back to Cuba remains in place. Bush was expansive in discussing ways to keep pressure on the Cuban government -- from ``cranking up TV Martí again, to try to blast our way through the shield, get the message of freedom there,'' to upholding trade sanctions. But he was cautious on the subject of migration from Cuba when asked about the ``wet foot-dry foot'' policy that mandates that Cubans found at sea be returned. About 400 Cubans have been returned since Bush became president. This week an exception was made for 20 Cubans rescued from a capsized boat 20 miles south of Key West. They were allowed to enter the United States to help authorities investigate a migrant-smuggling operation. The two men suspected of being the smugglers were also detained. 08/04/2001 Dissidents Will March Nueva Prensa Cubana Tens of dissents will take part in a march organized by the Cuba Commission on Sunday 5 August at 1400 GMT in the main square in Guines Municipality, south of Havana. The dissents plan to march from the town center to the Jose Marti Park in the same locality. The nongovernmental organization, Cuba Commission, organized the march to mark the events of 5 August 1994 when more than 30,000 people protested against the Castro regime and demanded the island’s freedom. On that occasion, the protesters were repressed by paramilitary forces in line with the government, these forces have since then effectively suffocated any other protests. 08/05/2001 CIERRAN HOSPITALES POR FALTA DE ENFERMERAS Cuba Free Press La Habana.- La Crisis generalizada que padece la salud pública cubana se ha agravado en los últimos meses, cuando centros hospitalarios debieron cerrar parte de sus instalaciones, por falta de personal médico y para-médico. Fuentes del ramo indicaron que varios hospitales de la Habana han reducido sus servicios y se vieron obligados acerrar varias de sus salas, por la falta de personal de enfermería. En el caso del centro hospitalario Julio Trigo, uno de los mayores de la provincia situado en Arroyo Naranjo, canceló más del 50% de sus instalaciones, incluyendo el quirófano. Esta situación se mantendrá hasta finales de septiembre dijo el director del hospital. También presentan igual situación los hospitales Calixto García y el pediátrico Aballí, situado en El Vedado. Ambos suspendieron varias intervenciones quirúrgicas por no contar con el personal requerido a la hora de proceder. 08/06/2001 U.S. "pleased" with WTO ruling in Cuba rum case WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - U.S. trade officials said on Monday they were "pleased" with a World Trade Organization ruling in a case brought by the European Union involving trademark rights for a major brand of Cuban rum. The ruling stemmed from a 1998 U.S. law aimed at restricting the use of Cuban brand names in the United States for products originally made by firms which were nationalized after Cuban leader Fidel Castro took power in 1959. The WTO panel ruling on Monday confirmed the U.S. view that the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) does not require the United States or any other WTO member "to recognize the confiscation decrees of other countries," the U.S. official said. Mark Orr, vice president of North American affairs for Pernod Ricard, said the United States was attempting to put the "best gloss" on a ruling that strikes at the heart of the so-called "Section 211" provision. The panel ruled WTO members must provide holders of intellectual property rights, like trademarks, with "meaningful access to civil courts to defend their rights," Orr said. 08/06/2001 Cuba confisca por 'enriquecimiento indebido' cientos de casas a nacionales y extranjeros El País Mauricio Vicent | La Habana., Cientos de viviendas, dinero en efectivo, cuentas bancarias y otros bienes 'obtenidos mediante enriquecimiento indebido' han sido confiscados en Cuba, según un informe de la Fiscalía General de la República presentado ante el Parlamento y facilitado ayer a la prensa internacional. El informe, que se refiere al trienio 1998-2000, habla de 347 viviendas, pero datos avanzados por la prensa local (oficial) hablan de 1.400 sólo en el año 2000. En cualquier caso, la medida pone de relieve el alcance de la batalla Según The Miami Herald, son muchos los exiliados residentes en EE UU que han compradoilegalmente casas en La Habana, Varadero y otros lugares de Cuba y las han puesto a nombre de sus familiares en la isla. Lo mismo han hecho los extranjeros con novia o amigos en Cuba, esperando que 'las cosas cambien después de Castro' para regularizar su situación y que sus propiedades se revaloricen. Además, está el caso de los macetas o nuevos ricos cubanos residentes en la isla con acceso a dólares. 08/06/2001 Cuba said to detain dissidents in new crackdown HAVANA, (Reuters) - Cuban state security detained opposition activists over the weekend to block protests planned to coincide with the seventh anniversary of a violent anti- government riot in Havana, dissident sources said on Monday. Information was sketchy, but most of the detentions appeared to be temporary measures to prevent various gatherings and a march planned by the dissidents for Sunday, a local human rights' group said. 08/07/2001 Aumenta el precio de la carne de res en el mercado ilegal de La Habana Cuba Voz Juan Carlos Linares LA HABANA- Se cotiza a 40 pesos y más la libra de carne de res en el mercado ilegal de la capital cubana. El precio del producto se disparó este mes a causa de la agudización de la crisis económica en la isla, opinan analistas independientes. Al mismo tiempo, es evidente que las cantidades de carne de res han disminuido en los comercios dolarizados, incluso se han dado casos de tiendas de este tipo en los cuales no ha habido existencias del producto en determinados momentos. Fuentes muy confiables vinculadas al ramo del turismo revelaron a Cuba Voz que hasta en los hoteles exclusivos para extranjeros se siente la escasez de carne de res. Hace un par de meses la carne de res se vendía en la bolsa negra o mercado ilegal al precio de 30 pesos la libra. En Cuba 22 pesos equivale a un dólar, según la tasa de cambio fijada por el gobierno, y el salario promedio mensual es de 249 pesos. 08/07/2001 Cuba Economy Report Granma International According to Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez, the foreign economic relations are showing a ositive trend. Despite the blockade, the economic war, and the price situation, the Cuban exports grew 10.7 percent during the first six months while our imports grew 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2000. This proves that the trend is toward the lowering of the foreign commercial deficit. 8/08/2001 20 on CANF board resign BY LUISA YANEZ AND NANCY SAN MARTIN The Herald Miami-At least 20 more board members of the Cuban American National Foundation publicly resigned Tuesday, widening the internal breach in the anti-Castro organization and raising a new dispute over control of millions of dollars in a fund reportedly created to fulfill the dying wishes of CANF founder Jorge Mas Canosa. 08/08/2001 Castro desafía a Washington con el tratado migratorio PABLO ALFONSO El Nuevo Herald En lo que parece ser la primera prueba de fuerza a la administración del presidente George W. Bush en relación con el tratado inmigratorio entre Cuba y Estados Unidos , el régimen de Fidel Castro ha iniciado un proceso investigativo contra tres cubanos deportados la pasada semana a la isla, tras un fallido intento de viajar a Estados Unidos. Luis Manuel Martínez, el patrón de la embarcación, está detenido, sin derecho a fianza, en el Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones de Ciego de Avila, en aparente violación del pacto migratorio entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Sus otros dos compañeros, Orelvis Bringas Alvarez y Jorge F. Martínez Barceló, fueron acusados el lunes de complicidad en actos de piratería y salida ilegal del país. 08/09/2001 Castro squanders funds on politics, dissidents charge HAVANA, (Reuters) - A group of dissident economists blasted the government of President Fidel Castro on Thursday for wasting funds on political propaganda while the country continued to suffer from a decade-long economic crisis. 08/10/2001 Cuba y Honduras se preparan para normalizar relaciones Agence France Presse LA HABANA Los cancilleres de Cuba y Honduras, Felipe Pérez Roque y Roberto Flores, respectivamente, suscribieron ayer acuerdos comerciales que calificaron como ``un primer paso'' hacia la normalización de las relaciones diplomáticas, interrumpidas desde 1961. 08/10/2001 Sesiona en La Habana Congreso bancario latinoamericano Félix López GRANMA Promover la figura del fideicomiso en el ámbito de la intermediación financiera es uno de los propósitos del XI Congreso Latinoamericano que sobre esta actividad bancaria comenzó ayer en el Hotel Nacional de esta capital, con la participación de 260 representantes de 15 países de la región, y de funcionarios y directivos de la Federación Latinoamericana de Bancos (FELABAN). En su inauguración, Francisco Soberón, ministro presidente del Banco Central de Cuba, reconoció la importancia de esta actividad para el desarrollo de la banca y la economía cubana. 08/11/2001 Castro Honored in Venezuela By FABIOLA SANCHEZ The Associated Press CARACAS, Venezuela- Cuban leader Fidel Castro was welcomed here Saturday with cheers and waving flags for a weekend of birthday celebrations amid a spat between Venezuela and the United States over American military offices in the capital. It was Castro's first foreign trip since he fainted during a speech in June - setting the world to speculate about a post-Castro Cuba. The visit came after Venezuela ordered the U.S. military mission to vacate rent-free offices in Caracas. Venezuela said the mission, which had occupied the offices for 40 years, could relocate in Caracas. 08/11/2001 Treasury examines Havana jaunt by TV execs BY TIM JOHNSON WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department is asking questions of several prominent entertainment moguls -- including the head of CBS Television and MTV's top executive -- about a private trip they took to Havana last February that featured a private dinner with Fidel Castro. The group reportedly included CBS top dog Leslie Moonves; MTV chief executive Tom Freston, who controls 64 domestic and international channels; William Morris talent agent Jim Wiatt; Vanity Fair magazine editor Graydon Carter; and independent producer Brad Grey, whose credits include Scary Movie and the HBO hit The Sopranos. Why the executives went to Havana is not clear. But if a report in The New York Post on Feb. 15 is to be believed, they stayed four days and had a blast. President Bush announced on July 13 that he would crack down on illegal travel. Those who violate federal regulations regarding travel to Cuba can face civil fines ``up to $55,000 per violation,'' according to a Treasury Department publication on Cuba entitled: What You Need to Know About the U.S. Embargo. The publication emphasizes that authorities may ask questions following travel to Cuba. A source at the Treasury Department said the questioning of the entertainment executives could not be construed as ``an investigation'' but rather a clarification of their activities. 08/11/2001 Top News from the Iowa Farm Bureau . The American Farm Bureau has asked Congress to repeal several provisions in law that presently limit trade with Cuba. “We believe it is imperative to repeal these onerous provisions that impede our ability to make meaningful commercial sales of agricultural commodities to Cuba, said AFBF President Bob Stallman. Stallman said farmers and ranchers want and deserve to be able to compete in a market valued in excess of $6 billion. 08/12/2001 Aumentan las visitas de los militares chinos El Nuevo Herald El coronel general del ejército chino Yuan Shoufang finalizará hoy ``una fraternal y fructífera visita'' a Cuba, informó ayer la prensa local, menos de cuatro semanas después de que otra delegación militar del país asiático recorriera la isla. 08/13/2001 Brazilian President to Meet Cuba's Castro in Venezuela Today Sao Paulo Folha de Sao Paulo President Fernando Henrique Cardoso will today meet with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela. Cardoso will depart from Brasilia today at 0900 (1200 GMT) and arrive in Venezuela at 1145 (1645 GMT). In Santa Elena de Uairen he will dedicate an electricity transmission line for Roraima State. 08/13/2001 Youths Refuse To Join Communist Party Ranks Nueva Prensa Cubana Pinar del Rio youth refuse to join the ranks of the party. More than 300 members of the Union of Young Communists [UJC] that have reached the cut-off age and were submitted by the political organization to join the party's ranks in Pinar del Rio Province, expressed in recent days their refusal to continue their membership. . According to some sources, the reasons correspond with the disappointment and lack of incentives faced by the Cuban youth, in addition to the limitations, lack of freedom, and strong bias among the members of this political organization. 08/14/2001 Russia: Ministers refuse to confirm closure of electronic center in Cuba Moscow ITAR-TASS in English Russian officials fail to confirm reports on closure of electronic centre (Lourdes)in Cuba. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov declined to confirm media reports alleging that Moscow plans to close down the Russian electronic centre in Lurdes, a suburb of Havana, Cuba, before December 2001. 08/16/2001 Arrest of IRA men in Colombia highlights alleged Cuban connection By Patrick Goodenough. CNSNews.com, London Bureau Chief. London (CNSNews.com) - As more information emerges about three Irish militants arrested in Colombia, the leading unionist party in Northern Ireland has called on Washington to take "stern steps" in the face of alleged terrorism and narcotics collaboration between the IRA and anti-U.S. Marxist terrorists in Latin America. Security sources say that one of the men - a Spanish-speaker who has been living in Cuba for several years arranged an official trip to Havana next month for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. 08/16/2001 Llegan al millón de toneladas petroleros del Centro GRANMA CARDENAS.—Sin hacer concesiones en el orden de la eficiencia, el colectivo de la Empresa de Perforación y Extracción de Petróleo del Centro (EPEP-C) acaba de completar el millón de toneladas de crudo, cifra que alcanza por séptimo año consecutivo y siempre con un ritmo de producción ascendente. Marcos Aguilera, director de esa importante entidad, aseguró a Granma que es muy revelador en ese sentido el coeficiente de explotación de los pozos, por encima del 97 por ciento. Señaló con satisfacción el hecho de que todo el volumen de hidrocarburo extraído en lo que va de año ha sido trasegado por el oleoducto Cárdenas-Matanzas, con el consiguiente ahorro por concepto de transportación y la garantía de protección del medio ambiente. 08/17/2001 U.S. tourists to Cuba undaunted by risk of fines By Isabel Garcia-Zarza HAVANA, (Reuters) - The U.S. government confirmed this week it was pursuing "illegal" American visitors to the communist-run Caribbean island -- whose numbers have ballooned in recent years -- with renewed zeal in search of fines reported at an average $7,500. The Treasury Department said 443 demands for fines to suspected returning embargo-busting tourists were issued from May to July, compared with 74 in the previous four months. 08/17/2001 Sen. Calls for Cuba Travel Ban Halt By KEN GUGGENHEIM The Associated Press WASHINGTON - A Democratic senator urged the Bush administration Friday to stop its stepped-up enforcement of the travel ban to Cuba until Congress decides whether to change the law. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Treasury Department, which enforces the embargo. 08/17/2001 Cuban Politburo Member 'WarmlyReceives' Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Comrade Jose RamonBalaguer, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba [CPC] and director of theCPC Commission for External Relations, warmly received Deputy Foreign Minister NguyenDinh Bin on the afternoon of 15 August. The Vietnamese foreign minister wasin Cuba on an official visit at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of ForeignAffairs. 08/17/2001 Cuban General Tomassevich Dies The Associated Press HAVANA - Gen. Raul Menendez Tomassevich, who fought with Fidel Castro's rebels in the late 1950s and went on to become a top military leader, died Friday. Cuban state media reported his death. His exact age was not given, but he was in his early 80s. 08/21/2001 Misión de la Unión Europea busca aliviar fricciones con La Habana Reuters BRUSELAS Una misión de la Unión Europea, encabezada por el ministro de Relaciones Extranjeras de Bélgica, Louis Michel, comenzará el miércoles una visita a Cuba para impulsar las relaciones diplomáticas con la isla, informó un portavoz del ministerio belga. Las relaciones entre Cuba y la Unión Europea se enfriaron drásticamente el año pasado, después de que varias naciones miembros del bloque continental apoyaron ante la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la ONU una resolución que criticó a Cuba. 08/21/2001 Canciller venezolano inicia visita oficial el jueves. Recorrerá el centro habilitado en Cuba para atender a un grupo de enfermos de Venezuela Agence France Presse LA HABANA El ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Venezuela, Luis Alfonso Dávila, realizará una visita oficial de tres días a Cuba a partir del jueves próximo, informó ayer la Cancillería local. Según el programa oficial, Dávila sostendrá conversaciones oficiales con su homólogo cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque, en la mañana del viernes, para después encontrarse con el presidente de Parlamento, Ricardo Alarcón. 08/22/2001 EU envoy seeks to improve "frozen" ties with Cuba By Andrew Cawthorne Reuters HAVANA- A European Union mission headed by Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel began a visit to Cuba on Wednesday aimed at repairing relations hurt by EU criticism of the communist-run island's human rights' record. "At the moment, relations are frozen, but I think there is an important goodwill to improve those relations and build a new climate between the union and Cuba," Michel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters on arrival. The visit comes after Cuba-EU relations hit rock-bottom last year when Havana angrily canceled the visit of an EU "troika" of ministers and withdrew its candidacy for a multilateral trade and aid pact between the European bloc and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of nations. 08/22/2001 Cuba welcomes poor U.S. students to medical school By Nelson Acosta Reuters HAVANA- Cuba on Wednesday welcomed 26 more U.S. students from underprivileged backgrounds to begin studying medicine for free at a special school in Havana set up by President Fidel Castro's government. The new arrivals brought to 38 the number of U.S. students who will study alongside nearly 5,000 mainly young Latin Americans who have also won scholarships to take degrees at Havana's recently opened Latin American School of Medical Sciences. The 26 new students, whose hometowns ranged from New York to Los Angeles, were joined on arrival by the Rev. Lucius Walker, a prominent campaigner against the Washington's embargo on Cuba who heads the U.S. Pastors for Peace organization. 08/20/2001 Rebel Chief Discusses IRA Suspects By ANDREW SELSKY The Associated Press BOGOTA, Colombia - A Colombian rebel commander said Wednesday that three suspected Irish Republican Army members were in his guerrilla group's stronghold to ``exchange opinions,'' not to teach terror tactics. The comments came as Colombian authorities transferred Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan under heavy guard from a military police base to the maximum security wing of the La Modelo federal penitentiary in the capital, Bogota. 08/20/2001 Cuban state paper accuses U.S. of attacking bees Reuters HAVANA- Not content with conventional conflict tactics like sanctions and a 1961 CIA-backed invasion, the United States has resorted to attacking Cuba's bees, according to the ruling Communist Party's weekly newspaper. The state-run newspaper Granma Internacional accused Washington of waging a "biological war against Cuba" that was probably to blame for a disease that has destroyed 16,000 beehives causing $2 million in lost honey output since 1996. 08/22/2001 No viajará a la Habana el canciller español L a ausencia de Piqué sería una protesta ante Castro Agence France Presse MADRID El ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, Josep Piqué, no formará parte de a Troika comunitaria que viajará mañana a La Habana para explorar la posibilidad de un mayor acercamiento entre Cuba y la Unión Europea (UE), informaron ayer fuentes diplomáticas. Se trata de una ``troika informal exploratoria'', que estará encabezada por el ministro belga de Relaciones Exteriores, Louis Michel, cuyo país ocupa la presidencia de turno de la UE, y en la que España estará representada por el Director General de Iberoamérica, Alberto Camero, informó ayer un portavoz oficial del ministerio español de Asuntos Exteriores. Este portavoz no hizo referencia a la información publicada ayer por el diario conservador madrileño La Razón, según el cual la ausencia de Joseph Piqué en esta delegación es una forma de protesta por ``la negativa de Castro a fomentar la democracia''. 08/24/2001 Exiles collect petition asking US to indict Castro Reuters MIAMI- Cuban exile groups have collected 105,000 signatures on a petition asking the U.S. government to indict Cuban President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro on murder charges over the shooting down of two planes crewed by exiles in 1996, officials of the groups said 08/24/2001 Palestinian Legislative Leader Visits Cuba Havana Granma Jose Ramon Fernandez, vice president of the Council of Ministers, yesterday received Ahmad Quray, aka Abu-Ala, president of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly. During the meeting, which took place in a friendly and fraternal atmosphere, Abu-Ala expressed the gratitude of the Palestinian leadership and people for the solidarity and support that the Cuban Revolution has always extended to the Palestinian cause. 08/24/2001 EU mission meets Castro, dissidents in Cuba Reuters HAVANA- A European Union mission led by Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel spent 6-1/2 hours with President Fidel Castro until the early hours on Friday in a bid to improve ties soured over EU criticism of Cuba on human rights. 08/25/2001 Media Group Protests to Cuba Associated Press PARIS- An international media advocacy group said Friday it has protested to Cuba about the police questioning of three reporters who work outside the government media. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it sent a letter to Cuban Interior Minister Gen. Abelardo Colome Ibarra, asking him to ``put an end to the state's pressure on journalists.'' Jesus Joel Diaz Hernandez and Carlos Brizuela Yera, who work for non-state news agencies, were questioned for eight hours on Wednesday, the group's director Robert Menard said in a statement. 08/26/2001 Cuba adopts two-track foreign investment policy Reuters By Marc Frank HAVANA - After 12 years of opening itself to foreign capital investment, communist-run Cuba has become more selective in forming joint ventures, while making it easier and cheaper to invest in other ways. Lomas explained that while the total number of joint venture companies formed in 2000 increased by only 18 to 392 in all, compared with an average annual increase of 42 in the previous five years, the value of those new partnerships last year was twice the value of those formed in 1999. She said that by 2001 investors had signed agreements valued at over $5 billion with the government of President Fidel Castro -- perhaps the best-known living critic of capitalism -- of which about 50 percent of the cash had actually arrived in the country. Officials say 60 percent of the companies in joint ventures with Cuba were from Spain, Canada, Italy, and France. As with joint ventures, the government says the cooperative production agreements' objectives are to obtain capital, new technology and know-how, substitute imports and gain access to markets. The investor avoids lengthy Foreign Investment Ministry approval, simply by signing two documents with a state-run company and its ministry. For example, the investor sells on credit raw material, technology, and know-how to its Cuban partner in exchange for a fixed sum per product produced, or purchases the finished product outright for export. In all cases the investor does not pay the high labor cost charged by state-run labor agencies and mandated by Cuba's 1995 Foreign Investment Law. Beause the producing company remains 100 percent Cuban, the investor pays no taxes. 08/27/2001 Venezuelan minister seeks better ties with U.S. Reuters WASHINGTON, - Venezuelan Foreign Minister Luis Alfonso Davila said on Monday his country wants closer ties to the United States, but he opened his visit to Washington with a scathing attack on foreign and economic policies supported by the United States. Davila also criticized the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba's Communist government, to which Venezuela has drawn close since President Hugo Chavez, a former military officer, was elected in 1998. 08/28/2001 Cuba to end circulation of U.S. coins Reuters By Marc Frank HAVANA - In what some analysts believe may be a first step toward eliminating the U.S. dollar from circulation in Cuba, the Cuban Central Bank said on Tuesday that American coins would no longer be accepted from Oct. 15. Central Bank President Francisco Soberon said recently the government was working toward ending circulation of the dollar, but added the move was not imminent in the short term. Economic analysts said Tuesday's announcement may represent a tentative start in a longer process. 08/29/2001 Bush Urged on Drug Efforts With Cuba The Associated Press By ANNE USHER WASHINGTON - Anti-Castro sentiment is preventing the United States from helping Cuba combat drug traffikers' increasing use of the Caribbean island as a transit point for cocaine and marijuana, former White House drug policy director Barry McCaffrey said Tuesday. McCaffrey said the Bush administration should ask a reluctant Congress to approve sharing intelligence on drug operations and develop targeted training programs with the Cuban government. 08/30/2001 Fidel Castro Heads to Africa By ANITA SNOW The Associated Press HAVANA - Fidel Castro left Cuba on Wednesday for the ancestral motherland of a majority of people in this heavily black Caribbean nation, winging to Africa for a global racism conference. A heavily symbolic trip, Castro is traveling from a country where most of its 11 million citizens have some African ancestry to the continent where thousands of Cuban troops died helping free black nations from white colonialism. Although there was no official confirmation of Castro's trip in Havana, the United Nations has confirmed that the Cuban leader will speak Sept. 1, the second day of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. 08/30/2001 Reciben a Castro con salmón en Brasil El Nuevo Herald HAROLD OLMOS RIO DE JANEIRO -Camino de Africa, el gobernante cubano Fidel Castro arribó ayer a Brasil para pasar la noche en una lujosa suite presidencial con vista a la playa de Copacabana. El menú consistía de salmón con ensalada. 08/30/2001 U.N. anti-racism conference kicks off under cloud By Richard Waddington Reuters N, South Africa- To the beat of Zulu drums, the United Nations opens a conference against racism on Friday, but organisers' hopes that it will prove a landmark could be dashed by rows over Israel and slavery. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is due to open the eightday gathering together with South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, whose "rainbow nation" is held up as an example to follow after its overthrow of apartheid. Cuban President Fidel Castro, who never misses a chance to score political points against the United States, and a number of African heads of state will be attending. 08/31/2001 La Habana no prohibirá la tenencia de dólares El Nuevo Herald Associated Press LA HABANA -En Cuba jamás se prohibirá de nuevo la circulación del dólar, afirmó este jueves el presidente del Banco Central, Francisco Soberón. ``Incluso en el momento en que circule la moneda nuestra, siempre se ermitirá la tenencia de dólares'', aseguró el funcionario. 08/31/2001 Coffee crop seen rising more than 20 percent By Marc Frank Reuters HAVANA - Coffee picking began in Cuba's mountains this week, with the industry forecasting a partial recovery from a disastrous 2000-01 crop of 12-15 million kg, state-run media and industry sources said. Initial estimates forecast output up more than 20 percent from the 2000-01 crop, but still around 10 percent below 1999-2000 production which was around 18-22.5 million kg of semi-processed beans, the sources said. 08/31/2001 FBI snares two alleged members of Cuba spy ring By Brian Bandell Reuters MIAMI - A U.S. grand jury has indicted a husband and wife as alleged members of a Cuban spy ring that attempted to infiltrate the Southern Command, the U.S. military headquarters for Latin America, U.S. authorities said on Friday. George and Marisol Gari were charged in a three-count indictment with spying for the Cuban government and faced a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted.