Directorio democratico cubano -est. 1990- The cuban democratic directorate

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  • 19 Sep 2018 11:06 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    El socialismo cubano o el apartheid económico del Caribe

    CiberCuba

    En Cuba todos pueden hacer negocio menos los cubanos.

    Las cosas han cambiado un poco. Hace unos años estaban peor. En Cuba todos podían tener divisas menos los cubanos. Poseer un dólar podía llevarte a la cárcel. Recuerdo cuando era niño la llegada de un tío procedente de la comunidad y, obviamente, la visita a una shopping fue para mí una de las cosas más interesantes de la misma.

    Saliendo de 5ta y 42 nos montamos en el carro y mi tío me regala el cambio de la compra (en aquel entonces yo coleccionaba monedas) y antes de marcharnos dice “¡qué calor tengo! voy a comprar un refresco”. Ni corto ni perezoso me ofrezco a comprárselo yo con el dinero que me había dado y todos en el carro gritaron, “NOOOOOO”, si te cogen con divisas se puede armar un buen lío. Me quedé callado mirando las monedas, un poco asustado. Años después comprendí a cabalidad lo que había ocurrido ese día.

    Cuando crecí conocí el submundo de negocios que se hacían con extranjeros, que ganaban dinero por el solo hecho de no ser cubanos y tener el “privilegio” de poder portar divisas y entrar en las diplotiendas a comprar “pacotilla”. Estos se convertían en un eslabón del mercado negro de ropa, zapatos y electrodomésticos que los cubanos no podían adquirir directamente con los dólares que sus parientes les mandaban clandestinamente: extranjeros lucrándose con el privilegio otorgado por el apartheid caribeño.

    Durante mucho tiempo, el que no entraba las divisas a escondidas tenía que cambiarlas en el aeropuerto por unos certificados (similares a los que se dieron en las casas del oro y la plata) en pesos cubanos 1x1, o gastarlos en una tienda que había en el propio aeropuerto, que tenía un surtido lamentable a precios de boutique de Manhattan.

    Conocí personas y escuché muchas historias de cubanos presos por tenencia ilegal de divisas. Incluso días antes de su despenalización la policía continuó arrestando y decomisando dólares a aquellos que se lanzaron a comprarlos antes de tiempo en un afán de llegar primeros, “por si se acababan las cosas”.

    Una consecuencia de la caída del campo socialista y el comienzo del 'Período Especial' fue que el Gobierno despenalizó la tenencia de divisas, y las diplotiendas se convirtieron en tiendas de recaudación de divisas, medida desesperada, tomada no para reconocer un derecho del pueblo sino para chupar los dólares en manos de la población hacia las arcas del Estado.

    A otra escala, durante ese período, comenzaron a llegar a Cuba “negociantes” extranjeros: españoles, italianos, mexicanos, etc. Representantes de “importantes” firmas internacionales (realmente sólo conocidos en su casa) para suministrar ropas, tarecos plásticos, y cuanta pacotilla barata se pudiera pensar a las tiendas en divisas. Nuevamente, extranjeros lucrándose con el privilegio otorgado por el apartheid caribeño.

    Al final, los que salimos de Cuba nos dimos cuenta de que no eran más que piratas de baja calaña, aventureros o, como se dice en Cuba, “metedores de pecho” que se aprovecharon de la “inocencia” o el interés de funcionarios cubanos. La corrupción y las comisiones rápidamente se hicieron parte integral  del proceso de convertirse en un proveedor de las empresas cubanas.

    Estos empresarios eran tan desconocidos fuera de Cuba que aún recuerdo el día que le  pregunté a un español si conocía a Juanita Mateo… “¿A quién?“

    También por esta época prosperaron las famosas empresas mixtas.

    Empresarios y empresas extranjeras de cualquier nacionalidad, cuyos dueños no fueran cubanos ni estuvieran dirigidas por cubanos, podían llegar a la Isla y establecer empresas en sociedad con el estado cubano (empresas mixtas). Grandes cadenas empezaron a administrar hoteles, otrora nacionalizados a otras cadenas, o a construir nuevos en terrenos nacionalizados a sus antiguos propietarios. Nuevamente, extranjeros lucrándose con el privilegio otorgado por el apartheid caribeño.

    Al gobierno “comunista” de Cuba no le importa para nada la riqueza de los dueños de las empresas que negocian con Cuba.

    Al Gobierno “comunista” de Cuba no le importa para nada la riqueza de los dueños de las empresas que negocian con Cuba. No le importa para nada cuán ricos sean los dueños de Meliá, Iberostar, Telecom Italia, Nestlé, o cualquier otro. No importa cuántos millones o billones tengan, ni cuántos millones obtengan de plusvalía de explotar sus negocios en Cuba. No son cubanos, sus riquezas están lejos de la vista del pueblo. Para la mayoría de los cubanos no significan nada, es poco menos que ciencia ficción. En cambio, un cubano no puede tener "riquezas"; tener una paladar, dos autos y tres televisores es síntoma de riqueza en una isla llena de pobres y tiene que ser perseguido y castigado. Las riquezas y los privilegios en la Isla son solo para ellos.

    En Cuba puede invertir, construir hoteles, fábricas y ser socio de empresas cualquiera que no sea cubano. Los cubanos no.

    En cambio, un cubano no puede tener "riquezas"; tener una paladar, dos autos y tres televisores es síntoma de riqueza en una isla llena de pobres y tiene que ser perseguido y castigado. Las riquezas y los privilegios en la isla son solo para ellos.

    ¿Cómo es posible que “denuncien” que a un ciudadano o empresa norteamericana se le impida hacer negocios en la Isla si ellos mismos impiden a cubanos hacer negocios en su propia tierra?

    Si es cierto lo que dijo Díaz-Canel en la reciente entrevista que a “la gente” le molesta la acumulación de la propiedad y la riqueza, ¿acaso la acumulación de hoteles en manos de Meliá, Barceló, Iberostar y otros grupos extranjeros no le preocupa a “la gente”? ¿Acaso a “la gente” no le preocupa la privatización de la Isla a manos de empresas extranjeras? Parece que no, “la gente” (quienes quiera que sean) solo se preocupa por limitar los derechos de los nacionales. Los cubanos pobres, los extranjeros, mientras más ricos, mejor.

    Pero el apartheid se resquebraja, con el boom de los cruceros trascendió que el directivo de la línea Norwegian era cubano. Bajo las leyes o regulaciones imperantes dicha compañía no podía hacer negocios con Cuba, ni su directivo viajar en sus propios barcos a ella. ¿Perder el contrato de los cruceros y los jugosos ingresos que reportaría? Ni hablar, de pronto ser cubano no fue ya un impedimento. Poco tiempo después la ley que impedía a los cubanos entrar en embarcaciones a la Isla o abordar embarcaciones en la misma fue cambiada, quizás por miedo al boicot a las compañías de crucero que no permitiera embarcar cubanos en USA.

    Hay que exigir al Gobierno del recientemente nombrado presidente Miguel Díaz-Canel   que de una vez por todas elimine el apartheid económico de los cubanos. Quizás un boicot a empresas que negocian con el régimen o tienen participación en empresas mixtas en Cuba pueda ser el punto de partida. Quizás con el estímulo adecuado se pueda hacer realidad algún día. Está en nuestras manos hacer el intento, en las de ellos está reconocer nuestro derecho.

    Artículo de opinión: Las declaraciones y opiniones expresadas en este artículo son de exclusiva responsabilidad de su autor y no representan necesariamente el punto de vista de CiberCuba.

    ARTICLE LINK

  • 05 Sep 2018 1:47 PM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    Constitución: falsedades, contradicciones e incongruencias

    Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

    GUANTÁNAMO, Cuba.- El título I del Proyecto de Constitución está dividido en dos capítulos signados por la visión discriminatoria de los comunistas cubanos.

    El capítulo I, titulado “Principios fundamentales de la nación”, es  muestra de lo que afirmo, pues los principios que refleja no son los de la nación sino los que interesan al castrismo. El objetivo es presentar a la nación como algo homogéneo e identificar los intereses del régimen con los de todos los cubanos, otra falsedad.

    Partiendo de este razonamiento es también falso lo que afirma el párrafo 30, artículo 1:  “Cuba es un Estado socialista de derecho, democrático, independiente y soberano, organizado con todos y para el bien de todos (…) que tiene como objetivos esenciales el disfrute de la libertad política, la equidad, la justicia e igualdad social (…)”. Falso, pues en la Isla no ha habido socialismo, sino una dictadura que ha impuesto su versión distorsionada de ese sistema para mantenerse en el poder con privilegios e impunidades inaccesibles para el pueblo. La élite que nos dirige es un grupo social ajeno a las vivencias y necesidades de los ciudadanos, una casta parasitaria y despótica -jamás electa por el pueblo para ocupar ese lugar- cuya existencia no tiene cabida en el ideal socialista.

    Cuba no es un Estado socialista -mucho menos de derecho- pues aquí no existe ningún tipo de empoderamiento de la ciudadanía, ni el control efectivo del pueblo sobre los medios de producción y sobre las acciones de los dirigentes políticos y administrativos, ni hay transparencia informativa. Tampoco existe igualdad social, jurídica y política, ni hay una justa distribución de la riqueza nacional, a lo que se une la existencia de métodos de ordeno y mando de arriba hacia abajo. Sería más ético afirmar -como hizo un economista cubano en una conferencia impartida a miembros del Ministerio del Interior, la cual circuló profusamente- que nuestro Estado tiene una orientación socialista. Yo prefiero decir que siempre ha sido estalinista, la misma pauta seguida por todas las dictaduras de izquierda autoproclamadas “socialistas” que hasta hoy han existido.

    Afirmar que somos un Estado socialista de derecho pasa por la supina ignorancia de lo que son la justicia social y jurídica. No puede afirmarse tal cosa no sólo porque Cuba no es socialista, sino porque muchos de sus ciudadanos están en la más profunda pobreza y sin una protección efectiva del Estado, porque los tribunales y la Fiscalía son apéndices del partido y de la Seguridad del Estado, y porque la representación de los derechos individuales no se realiza en igualdad de condiciones.

    Cuba no es un Estado democrático porque la democracia es incluyente y permite la participación de todos los ciudadanos en igualdad de condiciones. Aquí la única fuerza política permitida es el partido comunista. ¿Cómo puede calificarse de democrático a un Estado como el cubano, si en el párrafo 34 del Proyecto se impone como único sistema posible su “socialismo”? Esto basta para demostrar su carácter excluyente, de cómo se desconoce el parecer de quienes hoy no tienen edad para votar y se amordaza a las futuras generaciones de cubanos cuya opinión no vale absolutamente nada para el castrismo. Esta es, en mi opinión, la contradicción fundamental, el punto más débil del Proyecto y el mentís más profundo a su publicitada vocación democrática.

    Dicho artículo 1 está vinculado estrechamente con el 13, inciso d (párrafo 55), donde se asegura que el Estado tiene como fines esenciales -entre otros- “garantizar la igualdad en el disfrute y ejercicio de los derechos, y el cumplimiento de los deberes consagrados en la Constitución”. Ante tal afirmación es válido que nos preguntemos cómo se garantizará eso, si ni siquiera en el Proyecto se ha hecho constar como ilegítima la discriminación política que desde hace casi sesenta años practica el castrismo. ¿Cómo el Estado  puede garantizar la igualdad en el disfrute de los derechos políticos a todos los ciudadanos, si quienes no comparten la opción dictatorial no pueden legalizar sus organizaciones, carecen de acceso a los medios de comunicación, no pueden expresar públicamente sus ideas y son reprimidos a causa de ello?

    A la contradicción existente en el artículo 5 del Proyecto me referí recientemente. Sólo quedaría abordar el artículo 15, donde se afirma que “el Estado cubano reconoce, respeta y garantiza la libertad religiosa”. Se trata de algo cierto en parte, porque aquí la libertad religiosa se constriñe a los templos. Los religiosos cubanos no tienen medios de comunicación para hacer llegar sus mensajes al pueblo, no pueden realizar acciones públicas sin el consentimiento de la Oficina de Asuntos Religiosos del Partido Comunista de Cuba -¡porque ni siquiera hay una institución gubernamental para atender las relaciones Iglesia-Estado!-, ni pueden educar a sus hijos en escuelas congruentes con la fe que practican, una notoria violación del artículo 26.3 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos y del artículo 29.2 de la Convención de los Derechos del Niño.

    En cuanto al capítulo II, titulado “De las Relaciones Internacionales”, se advierten otras incongruencias. La primera está en el artículo 16, inciso (a), párrafo 68, donde se asegura que la República de Cuba defiende la libertad de los pueblos para elegir su sistema político, económico, social y cultural, pero en la práctica impide el ejercicio de ese derecho al pueblo cubano. En el inciso (k) del propio artículo, párrafo 78, se afirma que la República de Cuba “repudia y condena el terrorismo en cualquiera de sus manifestaciones, en particular el terrorismo de Estado”. ¿Cómo es posible que se afirme esto cuando el gobierno cubano mantiene excelentes relaciones con  la República Popular Democrática de Corea, Irán, Nicaragua y Venezuela, países que practican cotidianamente el terrorismo de Estado? ¿Cómo puede afirmarse eso cuando el castrismo lo practica cotidianamente contra los cubanos que se le oponen pacíficamente?

    Por último me refiero al inciso (ñ), párrafo 82 de ese artículo, donde se afirma que la República de Cuba “promueve la multipolaridad en las relaciones internacionales, como alternativa a la dominación y al hegemonismo político (…)”. Me parece una expresión muy incongruente si nos atenemos a nuestra realidad nacional, políticamente unilateral y sufriente del hegemonismo político impuesto por el partido comunista. ¿Por qué el Estado cubano propone para otros lo que viola reiteradamente en su país?

    Esto demuestra la hipocresía del castrismo y reafirma el carácter antidemocrático de este Proyecto de Constitución.



    ARTICLE LINK

  • 29 Aug 2018 12:15 PM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    Cuba under reform:
    Cosmetic change on the way

    by Jorge C. Carrasco

    August 29, 2018 12:00 AM

    On July 21, the Cuban National Assembly the approved a new preliminary constitution. It had been created by the government's reform commission headed by Raul Castro and the newly appointed president Miguel Diaz-Canel.

    This time, the regime has promised a full reform, replacing the partial reforms made to Cuba’s Soviet-era Constitution of 1976, 1978, 1992, and 2002. Sadly, however, there’s little reason to believe that this new document will include any of the real changes Cubans desperately need.

    Article 21 of the new constitution would recognize for the first time non-state forms of ownership, such as cooperatives, mixed ownership, and private ownership. That might constitute an important change in comparison to the 1976 document, which only recognizes the state property and agricultural cooperatives. However, expectations of a real economic opening are still unclear.

    Within the last month, the government published a set of regulations tightening its control over self-employed workers and increasing possible fines, up to and including property confiscation. And in recent months, business licensing of non-state workers has been reduced, according to Reuters, arbitrarily preventing more citizens from entering the non-state commercial sector.

    The new constitution maintains the socialist ownership of the means of production by the state and the centrally planned economy as essential principles. It also recognizes the role of the market and foreign investment as a necessity and an important element of development on the island, in the attempt to attract foreign currencies, to alleviate the endemic economic crisis that the country has been experiencing since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Economic conditions could also worsen if the instability increases in Venezuela, Cuba's main ally and financier.

    Sadly, no changes are expected in basic human rights issues, freedom of expression, freedom of association, or freedom of press. The repression of independent journalists and political dissidents has dramatically increased in the last few months. According to The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, more than 1,438 cases of arbitrary detentions of citizens were reported on in Cuba between January and June of this year.

    The regime increases as well in this new reform the control and repression of artists through Decree-Law 349. This law is the regime's attempt to maintain a monopoly on culture, to prevent future artistic gatherings such as "Bienal 00," the first independent art convention since communism, which took place in May of this year.

    Article 5 of the Constitution will stay in place, enshrining the unilateral leadership of the Communist Party and the “irrevocable character of socialism.” This was imposed by Fidel Castro himself at the beginning of this century, in an attempt to avoid any transition from the current system.

    In short, not much important would change. So, why is the regime pretending otherwise? Because the appearance of reform relieves a bit of the international pressure. Cuban dissident research groups like Estado de Sats argues that political changes are actually taking place to consolidate the Castro dynasty. The potential dynastic players are all in place: Raúl's son, Alejandro Castro Espín, is in charge of the Cuban counterintelligence, while his former son-in-law runs a huge military company.

    None of these issues were the subject of public debate while the document was being drafted. It was not even possible to discover what was discussed behind closed doors. The citizens, who are not part of this complex reform process, will not be allowed to choose the future of their own country, which is exactly the way things have been for nearly 60 years.

    The regime, subordinating the country’s needs to an ideology and its preservation of power, has opted for a reform “inside the revolution.” And so once again, cosmetic changes will be carried out in Cuba with the aim of cleaning up the image of the island’s totalitarian regime in the eyes of the world.

    Jorge Carrasco, a native of Havana, writes from Brazil.

    ARTICLE LINK


  • 24 Aug 2018 11:14 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    Cuba: New administration’s Decree 349 is a dystopian prospect for Cuba’s artists

    In response to Decree 349, one of the first laws signed by Cuba’s new President Miguel Díaz-Canel in April 2018, which will come into force in December and has provoked protests by independent artists in Cuba, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International said:

    “Amnesty International is concerned that the recent arbitrary detentions of Cuban artists protesting Decree 349, as reported by Cuban independent media, are an ominous sign of things to come. We stand in solidarity with all independent artists in Cuba that are challenging the legitimacy of the decree and standing up for a space in which they can work freely without fear of reprisals.”

    “As far back as the 1980s, Amnesty International has documented the harassment and arbitrary detention of independent artists in Cuba simply for peacefully expressing their opinions through art. Instead of consolidating their control over artists perceived to overstep state-sanctioned criticism, the Cuban authorities should be making progressive changes to protect human rights.”

    Background:

    Signed by President Díaz-Canel in April and published in Cuba’s Official Gazette in July, Decree 349 is expected to come into force in December 2018.

    Under the decree, all artists, including collectives, musicians and performers, are prohibited from operating in public or private spaces without prior approval by the Ministry of Culture. Individuals or businesses that hire artists without the authorization can be sanctioned, and artists that work without prior approval can have their materials confiscated or be substantially fined. Under the new decree, the authorities also have the power to immediately suspend a performance and to propose the cancelation of the authorization granted to carry out the artistic activity. Such decisions can only be appealed before the same Ministry of Culture (Article 10); the decree does not provide an effective remedy to appeal such a decision before an independent body, including through the courts.

    Amnesty International is concerned that the decree contains vague and overly broad restrictions on artistic expression. For example, it prohibits audiovisual materials that contain, among other things: “use of patriotic symbols that contravene current legislation” (Article 3a), “sexist, vulgar or obscene language” (Article 3d), and “any other (content) that violates the legal provisions that regulate the normal development of our society in cultural matters” (Article 3g). Furthermore, it makes it an offence to “commercialize books with content harmful to ethical and cultural values” (Article 4f).

    Prohibiting artistic expression based on concepts such as “obscene”, “vulgar” or “harmful to ethical and cultural values” does not meet the tests of legitimate purpose, necessity and proportionality required under international human rights law. The lack of precision in the wording of the decree opens the door for its arbitrary application to further crackdown on dissent and critical voices in a country where artists have been harassed and detained for decades. This would not only contravene the right to freedom of expression of artists in Cuba, but the right of every person in the country to seek and receive information and ideas of all kinds.

    International human rights law and standards require that any restriction to the right to freedom of expression, including through art, must be provided by law and formulated with sufficient precision to avoid overly broad or arbitrary interpretation or application, and in a manner that is accessible to the public and that clearly outlines what conduct is or is not prohibited.

    Restrictions must also be demonstrably necessary and proportionate for the purpose of protecting a specified public interest which, under international human rights law, are only national security, public order, and public health or morals, or the rights or reputations of others.

    As signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Cuba is required to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. Article 19 of the ICCPR specifically protects the right to freedom of expression, which includes the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds…” including “in the form of art”.

    The rights to freedom of opinion and expression are essential for the full development of any person or society, and are key to enabling individuals to exercise other human rights. As such, under international law, states have a duty to protect the free expression of ideas and opinions of all kinds, including when deeply offensive. Laws restricting insult or disrespect of heads of state or public figures, the military or other public institutions, flags or symbols are prohibited under international human rights law.

    The blanket requirement for prior authorization by the Ministry of Culture of an artist’s work to be shown in public, as set out in Article 2.1, would also impose controls over the exercise of artistic expression that may amount to prior censorship and would exceed the permissible restrictions on the right to freedom of expression.

    Amnesty International is further concerned that Decree 349 is likely to have a general chilling effect on artists in Cuba, preventing them from carrying out their legitimate work for fear of reprisals.



    ARTICLE LINK

  • 23 Aug 2018 12:54 PM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    New president, same Cuba

    By Silvio Canto, Jr.

    We hear that Cuba is reforming, but please don't tell that to the brave journalists on the island.  It's the "same old communist one-party state running a state newspaper Cuba" that we've known for years.

    This is a report about the challenges facing independent journalists in Cuba:

    The accounts are similar: members of the Political Police and the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) search a journalist's house for a few hours.  The journalist is taken away and detained for a couple hours, a day or two, and then released.

    A journalist arrives at the airport for a trip abroad, only to be told by immigration officials that they [sic] can't leave the country.

    Since Miguel Díaz-Canel became President of Cuba in April 2018, "repression against journalists is greater," José Antonio Fornaris, president of Cuba's Pro Press Freedom Association (APLP, for its initials in Spanish), told the Knight Center.

    I have heard the same things from journalists in Cuba.  I've heard similar stories from Latin American journalists who have visited the island.

    Why is the communist regime continuing to act like this?

    The first answer is that this is what communists do.  They do not tolerate dissent or criticism.

    The second answer is that we are watching the consequences of President Obama's "one-way" opening of relations with Cuba.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration demanded nothing from Cuba in exchange for putting a U.S. embassy in Havana.  We got nothing because we asked for nothing.

    The biggest loser of the Obama Cuba policy is the Cuban people.  Just ask the independent journalists on the island!

    ARTICLE LINK

  • 14 Jul 2018 12:03 PM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    Blog Post by Elliott Abrams

    The desperate human rights situation in Nicaragua is now very clear, and a Washington Post story today makes for grim reading. Just as the Castro regime in Cuba has long used paramilitaries for unofficial police violence against dissidents and the regime in Iran uses the “Basij” forces, the Ortega regime in Nicaragua uses “turbas divinas” or “divine mobs.” The Post story tells of the armed attack by such groups this past weekend against protesters holed up at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua and then in a Catholic church.

    Nicaragua is rebelling against the repression, venality, and personalized rule of Daniel Ortega, who is president, and his wife, who is Vice President. Human Rights Watch, certainly an organization of the Left, said this on July 10:

    High-level Nicaraguan officials bear responsibility for grave, pervasive abuses being committed on their watch, Human Rights Watch said today. These officials have failed to take meaningful steps to prevent or punish human rights violations by their subordinates.

    Since protests broke out on April 18, 2018, at least 270 people have been killed and over 1,500 have been injured, in most cases at the hands of police officers and pro-government armed gangs. 

    The facts are fully set out in a lengthy special report of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights issued in June and entitled “Gross Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social Protests in Nicaragua.”

    Here is one paragraph:

    The Commission concludes that the State of Nicaragua violated the rights to life, humane treatment, health, personal liberty, assembly, freedom of expression, and access to justice. The Commission finds especially worrisome the assassinations, extrajudicial executions, abusive treatment, possible acts of torture and arbitrary detentions committed against the country’s majority young population. Similarly, the IACHR states its concern over the violation of the right to health and medical care, the reprisals against public servants for refusing to carrying out orders contrary to human rights, acts of press censorship and violence against the press, acts harassing human rights defenders, irregularities in beginning investigations with respect to the assassinations and injuries that have occurred in this context, as well as other serious events verified by the Commission.

    So there is no confusion about the events in Nicaragua, and human rights defenders are condemning the regime.

    But from the regime’s great fans there is silence. I have in mind the mayor of New York, Bill di Blasio, and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Di Blasio travelled to Nicaragua in 1988 (this was prior to his 1990 honeymoon in Cuba) in solidarity with the Sandinistas. He worked in Masaya, a town near Managua that was a center of revolutionary fervor, and has long said the visit affected him deeply. But this year, the Ortega regime has attacked Masaya because it is—once again—a center of anti-regime activity. As The Guardian put it, “Today, Masaya is once again in full revolt – this time against the Sandinistas themselves.” The regime’s attacks on Masaya and other rebel strongholds have been so fierce that the Nicaraguan Army has actually complained about them and sought to distance itself from them. But I’ve found no evidence that Mayor di Blasio has done so.

    As for Sanders, a 2015 story in BuzzFeed recounted an interview in which he called Ortega "an impressive guy.” BuzzFeed reports that “According to his book, Outsider in the House, Sanders traveled to Nicaragua on the invitation of the Sandinista government, to witness the celebration of the Seventh Anniversary of the Revolution. By his own account, he was the ‘highest ranking American official present’ at the event. Upon his return, Sanders said that he was ‘impressed’ with the ‘intelligence and sincerity’ of Sandinista leaders....”

    Perhaps I’ve missed their statements but it seems di Blasio and Sanders have suddenly become silent about Nicaragua—just when their silence is most damaging and their voices most needed. They have credibility as former Sandinista supporters to lead the criticisms of the Ortega regime today and pressure it to stop the abuses. This is not a political point: their voices might actually reduce the killing and help end the repression. Their silence helps Ortega and is in effect an act of solidarity with dictatorship. It’s time for them, and others who long defended the Ortega regime, to speak up on behalf of the people of Nicaragua. 


    ARTICLE LINK

  • 15 Feb 2017 11:28 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


    Washington DC-based attorney Scott Gilbert signing agreement for buying-selling marabou charcoal from Cuba

    Mr. Gilbert, this indeed is the “Perfect Example.”

    This article began with a simple mission, help put out the word on the forced labor camps producing charcoal from the marabou plant in Cuba. The inspiration for this piece came from Eliecer Bandera Barrera, a Cuban Human Rights Activist (with UNPACU) who was sentenced last September to four years in a Cuban prison for exposing the truth behind what has been touted as the first commercial export in a half century from Cuba to the U.S. As the article progressed, some connections appeared which further enlightened me about the true nature of US-Cuba engagement.

    You see, the Castro Regime  has been very busy spinning a tale of products coming from “privately run” or “cooperative farms” in Cuba. Take the case of the Marabou charcoal which was said to be produced by “hundreds of worker owned cooperatives” according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.

    Barrera risked his own safety and freedom by filming an actual marabou camp.  He captured the reality that those preaching “engagement” and “normalization” refuse to face:


    This video which cost Barrera four years of liberty, shows the inhumane conditions these marabou Cuban workers are forced to endure. The cruel reality bares no resemblance whatsoever to what one would envision terms such as “privately owned” or “cooperative farms” would mean. Behind the smoke and mirrors one sees human beings who will sleep on a make shift mattress made of grass inside a dilapidated structure that is exposed to the elements and are not permitted to have blankets. The energy they will need to muster to start working the fields comes from one piece of bread and the sugar they will mix with water. They get are no safety-type gear of any kind and those hatchets they use to cut the marabou? Well, they are expected to pay those back. Working under the harsh tropical sun, they find themselves having to drink from a dirty water pond which they share with cows. Bathing takes place in a canal with muddied water from which they also occasionally have to drink from.

    On the video workers declare being paid between $200-$300 Cuban pesos per ton of marabou charcoal they produce. This is equivalent to $10-$15 American dollars per ton.

    Washington DC-based attorney Scott Gilbert has been the leading US proponent of the marabou deal with the Castro Regime.  Upon signing the selling-buying contract for marabou charcoal with Cuba, Scott Gilbert stated “the deal “marks the beginning of a new era of trade between the United States and Cuba. This is a perfect example of a win-win for both our countries.”  This deal brings the Castro Regime $420 American dollars per ton of marabou charcoal.

    Gilbert owns a series of companies all dedicated to business with the Castro Regime.  These include: Coabana Trading, which is is engaged in brokering a variety of import and export projects on behalf of U.S. and Cuban businesses, Coabana Development LLC, Coabana Holdings LLC, and Reneo Consulting which boasts on its website of having “built strong and lasting relationships with the Cuban government”.

    What makes all of this of peculiar interest is that Scott Gilbert is the attorney that represented Alan Gross, the captured American contractor.  The negotiations for Gross’ release was one of the justifications given by the Obama Administration for the engagement strategy with the Castro Regime.

    Much has been said lately about getting internet connection to Cubans. Ironically, it was Gross’ attempt to get internet connectivity to Jewish synagogues that sentenced him to 15 years in a Cuban jail, of which he served five years. According to Gross on a 60-Minutes interview that aired November 2015,   the Cubans threatened to rip off his fingernails and hang him. He lost 110 pounds and five teeth due to lack of nutrition and would spend his days walking 10,000 steps in circles inside his 18′ by 18′ roach and ant infested cell which he shared with two other prisoners.

    In May of 2015 Gilbert hosted at his home the launch of  “New Cuba” a political action committee. The mission of New Cuba is to lobby Congress to end travel restrictions for Americans wanting to visit the communist-run island as well as expanding trade. New Cuba is part of Engage Cuba, a national coalition dedicated to ending the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Solidarity (Libertad Act) of 1996. This Act (referred to as the “Embargo”) lays out a blueprint for the lifting of U.S. sanctions based on:

    • Release of all political prisoners
    • Legalization of opposition political parties and other civil society organizations
    • A time table for free multiparty elections.

    The lopsided nature of this engagement, and Gilbert’s business interests with the Castro Regime is quite ironic.  Independent farmers aren’t producing the Cuban marabou coal, slaves in a work camp are.  Far from benefiting human rights activists, these deals victimize them, as is the case with Barrera, who has been imprisoned for his expose of the camp.  Far from empowering the Cuban people, as the Obama Administration insisted that its engagement strategy meant to do, the marabou charcoal deal clearly exemplifies how trade with the dictatorship leads to greater exploitation of Cubans.

    In speaking with Fox News Latino this past May encouraging companies to do business with Cuba, Gilbert was asked what was the critical turning point with his dealings with Cuba, he cited having asked the Cuban “government” what they wanted from the U.S. and getting an immediate, one word answer: RESPECT. Ironically demanding the same thing the Castro Regime has denied the Cuban people. Ask anyone beaten, detained, imprisoned or working at a marabou camp about the “respect” they receive from this regime.

    Worldwide outrage has taken place whenever other inhumane  working conditions have been revealed and when innocent people are thrown in prisons for promoting human rights. The demand for workers rights and the liberation of political prisoners cannot be ignored when it comes to Cuba.

    Silvia Gutierrez-Boronat

    ARTICLE LINK



  • 29 Jan 2016 9:37 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)

    My view: The U.S. should keep the Cuba embargo in place

    By Daisy Penaloza

    For the Deseret News

    Published: January 29, 2016 12:10 am


    A year has elapsed since normalization talks were divulged between the United States and Cuba, and the prophetic words of Cuba’s dissidents reverberate within the current, grim reality of a nation in shackles. Pro-democracy activists “are totally against the easing of the embargo … the government will have more access to technology and money that can be used against us,” declared Ángel Moya, a former political prisoner, one year ago.

    Sonia Garro, a member of the Ladies in White, having served almost three years in prison at the time of her release, expressed: “A country that violates the human rights of its people shouldn’t have sanctions lifted. Here there is no freedom of speech, there is no freedom of anything. This will give them more leeway to continue operating with the same impunity that they have always operated with.”

    On Sept. 25, 2015, Cuba’s foremost dissidents sent a letter to the U.S. Congress: “The lifting of the embargo, as proposed by the [Obama] administration will permit the old ruling elite to transfer their power to their political heirs and families, giving little recourse to the Cuban people in confronting this despotic power.”

    Clamors for the embargo’s lifting persist despite the fulfillment of dissident and exile warnings that diplomatic recognition of the Castro regime would strengthen the oppressors and crush popular dissent. The removal of what little trade sanctions remain is legally and morally unjustified.

    President Obama’s negotiations with the dictatorship were conducted sans the legitimizing presence of Cuba’s pro-democracy groups and civil society. The darkly covert negotiations were also in direct violation of U.S. law as outlined in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton Act). The embargo should not be lifted until the requisite conditions in the Helms-Burton Act are honored by the Castro regime.

    Situating the embargo in its proper context, Cuban activist Rosa María Payá wisely observes: “The cruelest embargo, and the one that depends only on Cubans to maintain or eliminate it, is the one maintained by the Havana regime against the rights of our citizens.”

    While contravening U.S. laws and basic diplomatic rules of engagement, Obama, for the past year, has been rewarding the intransigent dictatorship with undeserved unilateral concessions. In turn, Castro apparatchiks have indicated their steadfast refusal to concede not one “iota” or “millimeter” in favor of measures leading to true reconciliation.

    The oft-repeated rhetoric that the embargo has “exacerbated the hardships” of the Cuban people is untrue. The Castros' totalitarian system of governance, which has created economic, sociopolitical and spiritual impoverishment, is the veritable culprit, not the embargo. Fifty-five years of global trade with Cuba refutes allegations of enforced isolation. Given Castro’s propensity to default on loans, the embargo has actually saved U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars by denying the corrupt regime easy credit.

    Sadly and devastatingly, opportunistic global capitalists, looking for profits, perpetuate the exploitation of the Cuban people. Foreign companies are provided Cuban workers by the state. The Castro regime deducts 80 percent of the average employee’s wages, and pays the remaining 20 percent in worthless Cuban pesos. Doing business in Cuba entails striking a nefarious bargain with Castro’s monopolies, GAESA, ETECSA and ALIMPORT, which control the Cuban economy. The Castro elites hoard the foreign revenue, acquire debts and incur national insolvency. These tactics financially ruin the nation, but in no way does it affect the rulers’ accumulation of personal wealth.

    The fruits of Obama’s U.S.-Cuba policy has been an “annus horribilis” of over 8,600 short-term arbitrary detentions, weekly beatings of peaceful protesters, extrajudicial killings, long-term incarceration of political opponents, and a migratory crisis involving a number of Latin-American nations. The Cuban government has demonstrated a clear unwillingness to embrace free markets or incorporate judicial safeguards for business investments. The political opposition, fully cognizant that commerce without civil liberties is meaningless, seeks a restoration of their political rights and civil liberties.

    The voices of Cuba’s dissidents and exiles, ignored and marginalized, must be respected and acknowledged. The Stalinist purveyors of misery and death must face justice for their homicidal and economic crimes. Only then will Cubans move forward with renewed hope and optimism forging a path to the progress and prosperity so cruelly swept away in the Castroite madness that engulfed Cuba in 1959.

    ARTICLE LINK


  • 27 Jan 2016 9:43 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)

    January 27, 2016 06:37 AM

    Updated January 27, 2016 08:18 PM


    Andres Oppenheimer:
    U.S.-Cuba love affair won’t be forever



  • 12 Jan 2016 9:50 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)

    There Is No Doing Business in Cuba, Only with Cuba

    -Jose Azel

    First, let’s get the preposition right. All commentary regarding entering the Cuban market makes reference to investing “in” Cuba. But, when used as a preposition, “in” innocently indicates inclusion within a space or place.

    However, “in” is an insufficient and misleading preposition with reference to Cuban investments. Investing “in” Cuba is a naive expression that closes the eyes to the “with” character of those investments.

    The island is not like other foreign markets where the investor’s due diligence requires mostly investigating demographics, local market information, and maybe some political risks.

    Cuba is a totalitarian state. Investing in Cuba necessarily requires investing in partnership with the Cuban government, and more specifically with the Cuban military.

    It is thus much more precise to use the preposition “with”’ to denote “accompanied by.” Investing with Cuba, in association with the Cuban military, requires a much more rigorous due diligence.

    Investing “in” Cuba requires the investor to contend only with factors such as median income of US$20 per month, outdated internet, communication and information systems, an unfriendly business environment, violation of workers’ rights, widespread corruption, unreliable energy, outdated water and sewer systems, a crumbling infrastructure, a bankrupt economy, an awkward dual currency system, and much more.

    In addition, investing “with” Cuba requires foreign firms to accept being minority partners, with the Cuban government representing the controlling shareholder.

    Under this arrangement, the Cuban government expects foreign investments to generate revenues for the state on its terms. If the venture fails to meet the expectations of the state, it may arbitrarily terminate the agreement, and there is no independent judicial system to adjudicate any investor claims.

    It is also a mischaracterization to speak of a “private sector” in Cuba with the suggestion that such a sector exists as possible partners for US investors. There is no private sector in Cuba in the sense that we use that term in free-market economies.

    The so-called self-employed (cuentapropistas) in Cuba are not equivalent to a private sector. These are individuals whom the state has granted permission to operate in one of 201 highly specified domestic trade activities and under very restricted conditions.

    They do not have legal standing as would a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation in the United States. It is therefore very misleading to speak of a private sector in Cuba.

    Let’s take just one aspect of doing business “with” Cuba to illustrate how it offends our values and morality, our labor and business laws, and our expectations of corporate behavior.

    Foreign investors operating on the island cannot hire their own employees. The foreign firm must negotiate with the Labor Ministry a “contract for the supply of its labor force,” indicating the quantity and qualifications of needed employees.

    The state staffing agency for foreign enterprises then sends its pre-screened personnel to the foreign firm. The foreign employer pays directly to the staffing agency in foreign currency, or equivalent Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). The staffing agency then pays Cuban workers in non-convertible national Cuban pesos (CUP).

    Under this arrangement, the state pockets over 90 percent of the worker’s purported salaries.

    This practice is a form of slavery that violates International Labor Organization conventions. Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner has aptly named it: Cuba, the pimp state. It is a repugnant practice that would expose participating US companies to public scorn and endless litigation.

    Corruption is a serious problem in official Cuba, with an ethos of unlawfulness, and a state-controlled economy where there is little respect for the rule of law. US companies, particularly publicly traded firms subject to myriad anti-corruption and disclosure regulations, would find it nearly impossible to operate lawfully in such an environment of systemic and endemic corruption.

    Those looking to invest “with” Cuba should therefore include in their due diligence the vetting of their to-be controlling shareholder: a state-owned enterprise such as GAESA, the vast conglomerate run by Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s son-in-law.

    And we should all begin using the preposition “with” to specify that it’s not investing “in” Cuba, but in partnership with the corrupt Cuban military.



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