Half Measures / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The newspaper Granma intended to have an impact with pompous editorial “Towards the 500 years of Santiago de Cuba” where it explains how that province has developed a project consisting of measures that will allow it to arrive at July 2015, the date commemorating 500 years since its founding, with the rehabilitation and total embellishment of its historic city center and significant sites.

Certainly, as it suits them, the Cuban authorities will disburse funds to restore important public works exposed to the eyes of foreign visitors. But I am slightly curious: what are they going to do with the beggars and mentally ill who wander around the city and leave much to be desired relative to social adornment, will they include them in the beautification? Hopefully they’ll hide them because then, as the song says… Who cares, I don’t give a damn.

25 March 2014

Gossip from Cyberspace / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Josué Colomé Vázquez

According to the blog “Cuba al Descubierto” (Cuba Uncovered), edited by Mr. Luis Dominguez and specializing in Cuban curiosities, recently arrived in Miami after crossing the Mexican border and asking the US authorities for refuge, is a young Havanan named Josué Colomé Vázquez, and the question many are asking is what’s so special about a Cuban crossing the border and asking for asylum in the United States.

Well, the first is that although entering the United States by this route is a common practice, it’s considered illegal. The second, and more interesting one, is that the so pompous Josué is the son of the Cuban vice-president and Minister of the Interior General Abelardo Colome Ibarra. So it’s all perfectly normal, exiled and emigrated will return to Havana; and the children of the elite will continue to increase in la Yuma (the US of A).

27 March 2014

Cuba Seeks Investors with an Old Publicity Strategy / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

In 1989, Cuba concentrated 85 per cent of its trade relations on the USSR and the rest of the socialist camp.  Thus it assured the supply of components, raw materials, technology and satisfactory loans in terms of due date and interest. With the collapse of European socialism and the disintegration of the USSR, Cuba in short order found itself with substantially diminished purchasing capacity and economic-financial reality.

Havana was going close-hauled in a scene as uncertain as that of a refugee on the high seas.  It was then that Fidel, expert in navigating crises and very irresponsible about costs, laid out his directives for confronting the debacle as if it were a slip up. Internally he kept the nation entertained with the sadly famous “Special Period and War of All the People;” not abroad where he launched messages that assured of control and security, effective hooks for finding new trading partners and markets.

So there appeared on the island a nephew of Saddam Hussein who built the first plant for the canned soft drink “Tropicola;” and a known arms trafficker (sought on a worldwide level) interested in financing the national production of cane sugar and citrus fruits.

After such illustrious personages disguised as entrepreneurs, there arrived other such relatives of famed dictators, market opportunists, refined bandits, vulgar robbers, men of decorum, and Cuban exiles with suitcases full of hope.

As was expected, many entrepreneurs, those who the government rejected for various reasons, were on a long road of unbearable defaults; but others received, besides their temporary residence, the right to possess a “foreign firm” that today they trade on the island at low cost and high value.

This quasi-dishonesty where the foreign and national converge, unleashed a kind of euphoria; on one hand, many Cuban citizens trying to escape from economic suffocation managed to work for foreign businesses; on the other, relatives of and individuals close to high Cuban leaders, because of feeling they were not employed, left Cuba and founded companies with which they then bought another and another until hiding the original identity in order to then enroll in the commercial registry of the Chamber of Commerce for the Republic of Cuba and make it function.

Of course, not all the children of the elite wanted to become prosperous businessmen; the exalted Alejandro Castro Espin decided to reach high and under the pseudonym of Ariel was named chief of the section of the 4th department of State Security in charge of investigating, approving, recruiting and bribing all the businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, foreign company workers, and Cuban stockholders in foreign businesses. Come on, it’s the same as printing money.

In such circumstances, in 1995 he approved the first legislation (No. 77) that regulates foreign investment and continues in force today.  At the end of 2000 there were 392 economic partnerships with foreign capital located for the most part in mining, prospecting–extraction of petroleum, tourism, light industry, metallurgy and construction; several of them, property of a few Cubans (relatives and people close to the high Cuban leadership) resident on the island.

The newspaper Granma reports that as provided, the State Council for the Republic of Cuba calls a special session of the National Assembly of Popular Power for Saturday, March 29 this year for the purpose of analyzing the proposed Law of Foreign Investment.

I see the answer clearly, there are political realities that cannot wait.  Alliances like ALBA and CARICOM smell redirection; Venezuela, for now, I do not believe loses Maduro as President but his regional leadership.  Cuba returns to old ways, approaches Brazil and the European Economic Community reaching for its old but effective publicity strategy to attract investors.

I would like to know if this new legal proposal will open new liberties for those Cuban exiles that currently can only carry out — from across the border — buying and selling activities; and if finally they will decide to legislate in favor of or against those Cuban entrepreneurs resident on the island who for a long time have invested in Cuba in and need to enjoy a protective legal framework.

I believe that if I ask any Cuban official, he will invoke a 5th Amendment that does not exist in our constitution.  For all the rest, we’ll have to wait.

Translated by mlk.

24 March 2014

The “Present Press” and Diaz-Canel’s Phone Call / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 24, 2014 • Comments Off

On 14 March, one more anniversary was celebrated of the appearance, in 1892, of the first issue of Patria, an old dream of Jose Marti in which Tomás Estrada Palma, Manuel Sanguily, Gonzalo de Quesada, Manuel de la Cruz, Enrique José Varona and other important figures participated, managing to fuse politics and literature. The role, at that time, of this important newspaper was clear, and the apostle — Marti — described it in his editorial: “What the enemy has to hear is nothing more than the voice of attack itself… This is Patria in the press. It’s a soldier.”

Because of this commemoration, Cuba’s first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel, toured the facilities of the national television information system, and afterwards congratulated all the workers on the anniversary, baptized as “Day of the Cuban Press,” and he called on them to perfect their reporting work.

A small concern seemed to upset the leader on making these declarations, in the “improvised” conversational exchange, later rectified with absolute precision: Any work of the Revolution is incomplete if it’s not in the present press.

Why the urgency to amend the supposition. Because Mr. Diaz-Canel, like any other leader, knows very well the invisible guiding hand that manages our real politik, where there is no room for these kinds of errors, they are simply deliberate negligence, or purposeful inaccuracies, that should be punished.

The unaware assert that the Cuban leaders fear the opposition; but for them the dissidence doesn’t exist, they are afraid of their own power and paranoia leads them to calibrate every accent, every word, every phrase in its multiple interpretations and every detail with maximum rigor.

In Cuba there are no secrets, but we must distinguish them. Everyone should know that for Cuban parliamentarians, the concern isn’t the time that their names appear in the news, but the location of the chair that they will occupy during the next session of the National Assembly.

If we looks closely at the image of a plenary session in the Palace of Conventions, irrespective of whether its organized by the provinces of municipalities, it will not be difficult to decipher the terror of the officials who know how their own goodwill is measured by the tapestry of their chair and how close it is to the leader.

Occupying a plastic chair, located in lowlife class, feels as secure as prostitutes felt in Moscow during the Cold War.

The leather armchairs in tropical class represent the more important and deserved reward. Space reserved for people skilled in the art of meanness. Knowing you’re in tropical class provokes a certain expectation and converts you into hungry wolves or quarrelsome sheep waiting for the slightest opportunity to tear to shreds, circumstances which can serve to climb into the beige leather armchair on the great podium of superiority. Where Diaz-Canel sits. Hence his justified tremor, knowing that if he commits a single mistake, in less than five minutes he can be in the dungeon.

As my grandmother said of someone who didn’t speak for days,”Ah son, when are you going to understand that in Cuban politics ideology is pure facade, so leave it in the hands of the idiots and the military.”

18 March 2014

With No Variations on the Theme / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 24, 2014 • Comments Off

After it was closed on 2 August 2013, given the urgency to undertake discrete repairs on its constructive infrastructure, the Luis de la Puente National Center of Minimal Access Surgery (CNCMA), continues under repair today, obvious to the naked eye, and as usual, it’s the never-ending story.

In reality, given the rhythm established by the Cuban government on social issues and demands, I don’t see the hurry. Or you’ve forgotten the building in El Vedado in Havana on Linea and 12th streets, that only took 18 years to build, and today is a monument to bad taste. Let’s go, as the General said, slowly but surely.

15 March 2014

Cuban Doctors in Stampede to Brazil / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 24, 2014 • Comments Off

According to the Official Journal of the European Union, the Brazilian government decided to triple the number of Cuban collaborators in its program of popular health “More Doctors.” And to cover the increase of the Cuban medical contingent in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff updated the contract it has with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), bringing to 973.94 million reals ($ 415 million dollars) as the resources for this expansion for the next six months.

What is blatantly obvious on the Brazilian news is that the Cuban doctors expected to arrive in Brazil, are those who — given the unstable and turbulent situation facing Caracas — are preparing to flee Venezuela.

15 March 2014

Over and Out / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 23, 2014 • Comments Off

According to a note in the newspaper Granma, the Council of State, on a proposal from its President–Raul Castro, or “El Chino” as we call him–agreed to promote to Minister of Culture the compañero Julian Gonzalez Toledo. A suspicious agreement, knowing that Toledo doesn’t understand much about culture because he spent his whole life at the Senior Party Cadre School.

Now the curious comment that the ex-minister Bernal will be assigned other tasks: a nice shower accompanied by a white guayabara and a straw sombrero, so when he’s bored on the “pajama plan” (as we call forced retirement), he can go out in his backyard and entertain himself watering his plants. That is, if he leaves the house.
6 March 2014

 
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