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 • Leave a Comment

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 • Leave a Comment

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 • Leave a Comment

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 • Leave a Comment

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

Reopening Marti Theater / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

After its closure in the late sixties, the emblematic Marti theater in the Cuban capital reopens its doors after nine years of intense repair work on its valued architecture.

The property underwent an accelerated process of destruction, to the point that only the stone facade was preserved. A simile of the national decline. To everyone’s satisfaction, the coliseum of 100 doors, as the poet said, is ready. Moving forward, even when the recovery starts from zero, is worth the trouble. We go for the push.

26 February 2014

The Powerful Ex-Son-in-Law of Raul Castro, Exiled / Juan Juan Almeida

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

For a long time there have been countless comments within the circle of Cuban power, where the name of the cunning and not-at-all innocent Colonel Luis Alberto Rodrigues Lopez-Calleja persists, as the “Czar of the Military Economy.” A fictional creation, a legend.

So today, February 24, instead of writing about this group of brave men who in 1895 shouted “Independence of Death!” resuming the struggle for Cuban independence; I prefer to comment on Luis Alberto; an arrogant character, insensitive, calculating, abusive, with the last name of a porn actress, lover of numbers that always add up in his favor, clever with arithmetic and epics, who despite all his positions (CEO of the Business Administration Group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and member of the Communist Party Central Committee), trying to escape himself and adulterate his destiny.

A difficult thing, he knows how to do business with the clam and wants to enter “The Family” always bringing negative consequences. His many year marriage to Deborah Castro went on, as we all know, with a long history of abuse and infidelities which were always tolerated. But suspicious, as usual, he understood that in this new economic transition taking the country from paleolithic times to the middle ages, he was losing power and tried, unsuccessfully, to use Deborah as a shield.

It’s clear that his ex, the oldest of the Castro Espins, is a huge mistake that corrects its errors by committing others, worse; but the always seductive Rodríguez López-Calleja, instead of snorting cocaine smoked composure and put on the boxing gloves. He gave her a brutal thrashing, Deborah ended up in the hospital with serious contusions.

A coward, like any batterer, he doesn’t need an Aladdin’s lamp to understand that, in a country like Cuba, where low class is very low, the average is not high, and the high lacks class, his old superiority became a cage. He knew very well that it went against him, and wanting to revenge the sadness of his father-in-law-leader, is a completely obedient army that, in frank restructuring, needs to hang medals.

To judge him wouldn’t be right, but in a case like this, quite logically, to parents it seems to use that the job is not usually fair.

Raul’s government has skillfully navigated several crises, and doesn’t want to do this, a news scandal. So he ordered the criminal case dismissed and will send, or already sent, the father of his grandchildren to serve a mission in Angola, a dangerous land for a Cuban in disgrace.

But now, Luis Alberto, urgently, strategizing, is moving heaven and earth to keep a grip, however little, on the armrest of the couch that already has termites. We know very well that the underworld is unforgiving, he knows that in any place protected from prying eyes, the final bill will arrive.

Perhaps he won’t even get to step on African soil, perhaps he won’t board the plane; or perhaps, because there is always a perhaps, when we least expect it, we’ll have him over here.

25 February 2014


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