Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Cuba, Hurricanes Force Raul Castro's Hand

In Cuba, Hurricanes Force Raul Castro's Hand

New America Media, News report, Louis E.V. Nevaer, Posted: Oct 17, 2008
Review it on NewsTrust

Editor's note: Cuba has suddenly changed its mind and agreed to accept
foreign aid as it faces mass starvation and broken infrastructure due to
hurricanes Gustav and Ike, reports NAM contributor Louis E.V. Nevaer.
Nevaer is the author of NAFTA'S Second Decade: Assessing Opportunities
in the Mexican and Canadian Markets.

In a stunning about-face, Cuba's president Raul Castro has agreed to
accept foreign aid to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

Six weeks after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged the island nation,
efforts to prevent famine in isolated communities are forcing rapid-fire
political changes. For more than a month, Mexico, Russia and Venezuela
have been sending aid; now 68 other countries have joined the
humanitarian effort, as well as 12 international agencies. Raul Castro
had, up to now, refused the aid, arguing that spies disguised as
humanitarian workers would infiltrate Cuba. That concern, in the wake of
human suffering, has been cast aside; the $51 million USD in aid is
desperately needed, particularly in Pinar del Rio and the city of

This comes two days after Cuba's ambassador to Mexico, Manuel Aguilera
de la Paz, acknowledged there were food shortages throughout the island
nation, although he was adamant that there would not be famine.

As reports in Mexico, Spain and on Cuba-based blogs continue to
document the deteriorating situation on the island nation, Cuba's
ambassador was forced to make public statements in Mexico City.

Ambassador Aguilera de la Paz conceded there were "limitations" that
required "reductions in the diet" of the Cuban people, and "widespread
shortages of some foodstuffs," but he denied there was famine or the
possibility of famine. The ambassador assured reporters that in Cuba
there was "an egalitarian distribution system for food that guaranteed
that everyone has access to the minimum food to allow for subsistence
and survival."

Concerns, however, surfaced that supplies are running low, and that
Cuba is preparing the Cuban people for "a difficult winter." Mexican and
Venezuelan humanitarian assistance continues to flow into Havana, but
reports indicate that damage to infrastructure has resulted in the
inability to reach isolated communities, where stories of scarcity and
hunger continue to be reported.

As Cuba and Haiti struggle with the human misery left behind by
hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Mexican Navy ships have been sent to both
countries with humanitarian aid. The Mexican Navy vessel, Papaloapan,
left Veracruz port bound first for Havana with food, medicine and other
supplies, before continuing to Port au Prince, the Haitian capital.

The Papaloapan is equipped with a working hospital, and it will provide
medical assistance to Haiti as needed.
In the five weeks since Cuba
and Haiti were struck by these hurricanes, damage to each country's
infrastructure was so extensive that distribution and communication to
smaller communities remains difficult, if not impossible. Despite
reassurances from Cuban diplomats in Mexico City, reports of hunger in
the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio continue to make their way to the
outside world: Food prices have risen in Havana between 50 and 100%,
rationing has been decreed by the government, and Cubans have been
warned to prepare for a difficult winter.

Reports of famine were substantiated by Cubans intercepted by the
Mexican Navy attempting to cross the Yucatan Channel from Pinar del Rio
to the resorts of Isla Mujeres and Cancun.

The Mexican Navy has long feared that an uncontrolled exodus of Cubans
across the Yucatan Channel would precipitate a crisis similar to what
occurred in 1997 when thousands of Albanians crossed the Adriatic Sea
and the Italian Navy had to rescue hundreds of refugees.

In 2007 more than 11,000 Cubans illegally entered Mexico, almost all
seeking to make it to the U.S. border and seek political asylum. This
exodus has been fueled by human traffickers who operate safe houses in
the Mexican resorts of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. "The reason why people
are willing to risk their lives to leave Cuba [by attempting to reach
Mexico] is the lack of hope and expectations," Sean Murphy, the United
States consul general in Havana, told the New York Times, in October 2007.

This exodus has increased dramatically since Hurricanes Gustav and Ike,
forcing two major political changes. First, Cuba and Mexico announced
last week a new migratory deal. Whereas before Mexican policy was to
detain Cubans illegally in Mexico, fine them for not having proper
tourist documents (the fine was about $80 USD), and giving them 30 days
to leave Mexico (which many did by hopping on a bus to the U.S.-Mexico
border, then crossing into the U.S. to seek political asylum); Mexico
has now agreed that Cubans detained for entering Mexico illegally will
be returned to Cuba. This is an effort to stop the explosion of Cubans
illegally entering Mexico as a way of reaching the U.S.

 The purpose is
to deter Cubans from risking their lives crossing the Yucatan Channel if
they know they are likely to be returned to Cuba if caught, and to
interfere with the thriving business of smuggling Cubans. (Cuba has long
complained that the "Miami Mafia" is operating human trafficking
operations from the Mexican resorts of Cancun and Isla Mujeres.) This
past spring and summer 9 Cubans in Merida and Cancun were found shot :
law enforcement linked the victims with groups of smugglers who were
operating safe houses for Cubans crossing the Yucatan Channel.
2007, about 11,000 Cubans entered the U.S. from Mexico; this year the
figures are expected to be 19,000 Cubans.

Mexican officials want to avoid loss of life on the high seas, as
occurred in April when a raft with twelve Cubans drifted into the Gulf
of Mexico. Two died, 2 were lost at sea and 8 survivors were airlifted
to a hospital near New Orleans after being rescued by the crew of the
tanker Eos.

The second development on the diplomatic front occurred this weekend
when Cuba and the European Union announced plans to normalize diplomatic
relations, which were severed in June 2003 when the EU sought to punish
Cuba for the arrest of political dissidents. The diplomatic
rapprochement is crucial to facilitating humanitarian aid to Cubans.

There is a sense of urgency as government officials in Mexico
City-Havana-Madrid work to reach political agreement to help Cuba in the
weeks ahead, the specter of severe food shortages this fall and winter
are now accompanied by the threat of disease. to prevent the shortage of
food to be compounded by disease, Dengue Fever.

The disease, spread by mosquitoes, is now spreading throughout the
ravaged provinces of Cienfuegos and Pinar del Rio. "We are going to
develop in the next days of October a campaign through the CDR
[neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] throughout
the entire country, a health campaign against the conditions that allow
the spread of Aedes aegypti [Dengue Fever]," Luis Estruch, the
Vice-Minister of Health told reporters this weekend.

There are no guarantees that these political efforts – $51 million in
aid are expected to reach only 135,000 Cuban – will be enough. And while
the new migratory agreement is an attempt to stop human trafficking
across the Yucatan Channel by discouraging Cubans to risk their lives,
there is hope that once Cuban officials meet with EU diplomats in Madrid
today and then in Paris on Thursday more rapid assistance will be

What this means for Raul Castro's administration is unclear, since the
political consequences of this humanitarian crisis in Cuba remains a
great unknown.


Cuba: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: Fourth session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, February 2009 Amnsety International

Document - Cuba: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: Fourth
session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, February 2009

8 September 2008 Public
amnesty international

Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review

Fourth session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council

February 2009

Executive summary

In this submission, Amnesty International provides information under
sections B, C and D as stipulated in the General Guidelines for the
Preparation of Information under the Universal Periodic Review:1


Under section B, Amnesty International raises concern over
restrictions on fundamental freedoms, limitations on the right to fair
trial and urges ratification of international human rights standards.

Section C highlights Amnesty International's concerns about
prisoners of conscience; restrictions on the rights to freedom of
expression, association and movement; arbitrary arrests, detention
without charge or trial, and unfair trials; harassment and intimidation
of dissidents and critics; the death penalty; restrictions on human
rights monitoring; and the impact of the US embargo.

In section D, Amnesty International makes a number of
recommendations for action by the government to address the areas of


Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review

Third session of the UPR Working Group, December 2008

B. Normative and institutional framework of the State

Unlawful restriction of fundamental freedoms

The Cuban legal framework places restrictions on human rights guaranteed
in international law. Fundamental freedoms such as right to assembly,
association or expression are recognised in the Cuban Constitution;
however, it places excessive limitations on the exercise of these
rights: "None of the freedoms which are recognized for citizens can be
exercised contrary to what is established by the Constitution and the
laws, or contrary to the existence and objectives of the socialist
state, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build
socialism and communism. Violations of this principle can be punished by
law."2 Therefore, the exercise of fundamental freedoms in ways that are
perceived to be "contrary to" the system is not constitutionally protected.

Amnesty International is also concerned that the description of a number
of proscribed acts within the Cuban legal system is so general and vague
as to risk being interpreted in a manner which infringes upon
fundamental freedoms. This is the case, for example, with provisions in
Cuba's Criminal Code (Law 62). Article 91 provides for sentences of ten
to 20 years or death3 for anyone "who in the interest of a foreign
state, commits an act with the objective of damaging the independence or
territorial integrity of the Cuban state".4 The behaviour which this
article is meant to prohibit is ill-defined and open to interpretation.

Further, according to article 72 "any person shall be deemed dangerous
if he or she has shown a proclivity to commit crimes demonstrated by
conduct that is in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist
morality", and according to Article 75.1 any police officer can issue a
warning (acta de advertencia) for such "dangerousness"5. A warning may
also be issued for associating with a "dangerous person".6 A person who
has received one or more warnings can be convicted of "dangerousness"
and sentenced by a Municipal Tribunal to up to four years in prison.

Further limitations were placed on fundamental freedoms when in 1999
Cuba's National Assembly passed the Law for the Protection of the
National Independence and Economy of Cuba, also known as Law 88. This
legislation, intended as a counter measure to legislation adopted in the
United States, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, also
known as the "Helms-Burton Act" after the lawmakers who sponsored it.
This act condemned recent events in Cuba,7 tightened the US embargo, and
discouraged investment in Cuba by providing for penalties against
foreign companies investing there. It also provided for claims of
confiscation of property and for US assistance to 'democracy-building
efforts' in Cuba.

In response to the US Act, Law 88 provides for seven to 15 years'
imprisonment for passing information to the United States that could be
used to bolster anti-Cuban measures, such as the US economic blockade.
This would rise to 20 years if the information is acquired
surreptitiously. The legislation also bans the ownership, distribution
or reproduction of 'subversive materials' from the US government, and
proposes terms of imprisonment of up to five years for collaborating
with radio, TV stations or publications deemed to be assisting US
policy. Amnesty International considers that the law imposes
unacceptable limits on the rights to freedom of expression, association
and assembly.

Lack of freedom of expression

Freedom of expression is very restricted in Cuba because of the complete
control by the government, provided in the Constitution, on all media
outlets. Private ownership of press, radio, television and other means
of communication is prohibited by law, thus restricting the exercise of
the right to freedom of expression by independent media.

Lack of freedom of association

All human rights, civil and professional associations and unions in Cuba
outside the state apparatus and mass organizations controlled by the
government are barred from gaining legal status. This often puts
individuals belonging to such associations at risk of harassment,
intimidation or criminal charges for the legitimate exercise of their
rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. According to
Article 208 of Cuba's Criminal Code, members of unofficial organizations
can face sentences of one to three months of imprisonment, and three to
nine months for directors of these organizations.

Limitations on the right to fair trial

The right to a fair trial is limited in Cuba, with courts and
prosecutors firmly under government control. The National Assembly
elects the President, the Vice-President and the other judges of the
Peoples' Supreme Court, as well as the Attorney General and the Deputy
Attorney General. In addition, all courts are subordinate to the
National Assembly and the Council of State, raising concerns with regard
to the right to trial by an independent and impartial tribunal as
stipulated in international standards for fair trial.8The fact that
lawyers are employed by the government, and as such may be reluctant to
challenge prosecutors or evidence presented by the state intelligence
services, also impacts on the likelihood of a fair and proper defence.

Ratification of international human rights standards

Amnesty International welcomes Cuba's signing of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at the end of February 2008, and
hopes that the government will be able to ratify both treaties as soon
as possible and without reservations.

C. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground

Prisoners of conscience

At least 58 prisoners of conscience9– including teachers, journalists
and human rights defenders detained for their peaceful activities – are
currently held in prisons across Cuba, following trials that failed to
uphold international standards for fair trial. Seventeen of them are
serving their sentences outside prison because of health concerns.

Fifty-five of the prisoners of conscience were arrested during March
2003, when after a period of apparent movement towards a more open and
tolerant approach, the authorities carried out a crackdown on the
dissident movement on the island. With the exception of half a dozen
well-known figures critical of the regime, most of the mid-level
leadership of the dissident movement were detained. Many of them had
been involved in dissident activities for a decade or more. They were
subjected to summary trials and sentenced to long prison terms of up to
28 years.10

Among then is Orlando Zapata Tamayo. He was arrested on 20 March 2003
while taking part in a hunger strike at the Fundación Jesús Yánez
Pelletier in Havana to demand the release of Oscar Elías Biscet and
other political prisoners. Orlando was sentenced to three years'
imprisonment on charges of showing "contempt to the figure of Fidel
Castro", "public disorder" and "resistance". In November 2005, he was
sentenced to an additional 15 years for "contempt" and "resistance"
while in prison. In May 2006, he was again tried on the same charges and
sentenced to an additional seven-year term. He is now serving a 25 years
and six months sentence.

Amnesty International welcomes the release in February 2008 of four
prisoners of conscience, although this appears to be on health grounds
and the persons concerned were required to go into exile.

Freedom of expression, association and movement

The severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression,
association and movement affect thousands of people across Cuba. Those
who attempt to express views, organize meetings or form organizations
that contradict government policy and/or the aims of the state are
likely to be subjected to punitive measures, such as imprisonment, loss
of employment, harassment or intimidation.

On 29 November 2006, independent journalist Raymundo Perdigón Brito was
detained by police and reportedly asked to close down his recently
opened independent news agency, Yayabo Press. When he declined to do so,
he was sentenced to four years in prison for "social dangerousness" at a
summary trial held only six days after his arrest.

Foreign correspondents based in Cuba also suffer limitations to their
work. During 2007, the International Press Centre (CPI) of the Foreign
Ministry denied the renewal of working visas to a number of foreign
journalists. The CPI informed the correspondents that their visas would
not be renewed because "the way they approach the Cuban situation is not
acceptable to the Cuban government".11

Between 3-6 July this year, the authorities prevented scores of
dissidents from participating in several events taking place in Havana,
including the civil society meeting "Agenda for the Transition" (Agenda
para la Transicion) and an event organized by the United States
Interests Section to celebrate US Independence Day. Some were prevented
from travelling to the capital, others in Havana were prevented from
leaving their homes and around 30 were detained by the police, and then
released a few hours later or the following morning. The following
weekend, 12-13 July, at least 15 dissidents were detained for up to 24
hours. Among those detained was former prisoner of conscience Francisco
Chaviano. Sunday 13 July was the anniversary of the "13 de Marzo"
tugboat disaster of 1994, in which some 35 people died while attempting
to flee Cuba when their boat was reportedly rammed by the Cuban authorities.

Arbitrary arrests, detention without charge or trial, and unfair trials

Amnesty International has received many reports of human rights
defenders, political dissidents and independent journalists being
arrested for carrying out dissident activities or reporting on the human
rights situation in Cuba. In some cases they are detained for a few
hours; in others they are held for months without charge and sometimes
without trial on suspicion of counter-revolutionary activities or on
similarly unclear charges.

In some cases the dissidents are tried and sentenced within a few days
in summary trials. José Oscar Sánchez Mádan, one of the spokespersons of
the dissident Independent Alternative Option Movement (Movimiento
Independiente Opción Alternativa), was summarily tried in April 2007 and
sentenced to four years' imprisonment for "social dangerousness" by the
Municipal Court of Union de Reyes. His trial took place four hours after
his arrest and no family member was informed of the trial or allowed to

Harassment and intimidation of dissidents and critics

Amnesty International continues to be concerned at reports of harassment
and intimidation of critics and political dissidents and their families
by quasi-official groups in so-called acts of repudiation ("actos de
repudio"). The organization believes that such acts of "repudiation" may
amount to psychological torture given the strain they can cause on the
victims and their relatives. Physical aggression has also been reported
during some acts of "repudiation". Lawyer and human rights defender,
Juan Carlos González Leiva, who is also the President of the Cuban
Foundation for Human Rights, was the target of several acts of
repudiation at his home in the city of Ciego de Avila in November 2006,
including repeated threats against him and his family by demonstrators.

The death penalty

Cuba retains the death penalty for serious crimes, such as acts of
terrorism. However, in recent years it has only rarely been applied, and
Cuba abstained in the December 2007 vote at the UN General Assembly on a
resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. In
April 2008, the Cuban President announced the decision by the State
Council to commute the death sentences of a group of prisoners to 30
years imprisonment. However, he also clarified that this measure did not
imply the abolition of the death penalty.

The last known execution took place in April 2003 of three young men
sentenced to death for hijacking a boat in order to flee the island.
There was international concern that the death penalty would be used
when two army soldiers were arrested following a failed attempt to
hijack a plane on 3 May 2007, which resulted in the death of an army
colonel. However, in September 2007 the two men were sentenced to life
imprisonment. Amnesty International considers the death penalty to be
the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and
opposes its use in all circumstances.

Restrictions on human rights monitoring

Amnesty International believes that independent monitoring is key for
protection of and respect for human rights. The organization welcomes
the visit in November 2007 by the Special Rapporteur on the right to
food at the invitation of the Cuban government. On that occasion, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the government was committed to
co-operate with international human rights mechanisms "systematically
and continuously, as long as Cuba is treated in a non-discriminatory way".

Amnesty International remains concerned, however, that human rights
monitoring in Cuba continues to be very restricted. Local
non-governmental organizations have great difficulty in reporting on
human rights violations due to restrictions on their rights to freedom
of expression, association and movement. At the same time, international
independent human rights organizations are not allowed to visit the
island, which contributes to the limitation of human rights monitoring.

Impact of the US embargo

Amnesty International has called for the US embargo against Cuba to be
lifted, as it is highly detrimental to Cubans' enjoyment of a range of
economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to food, health
and sanitation – particularly affecting the weakest and most vulnerable
members of the population. Unfortunately, due to the lack of access to
the country, Amnesty International has been unable to document at first
hand the impact of the embargo on the enjoyment of these rights.
According to UNICEF, the availability of medicines and basic medical
materials has decreased in Cuba as a consequence of the US embargo
against the island.12 Amnesty International also believes that the
embargo has undermined freedom of movement between Cuba and the US and
restricted family reunifications. However, the organization is also
concerned that the Cuban government uses the embargo, and the political
antagonism with the US government, as a pretext for violating the human
rights of the Cuban people.

D. Recommendations for action by the State under review

Amnesty International calls on the government to:

National legislation and institutions


Eliminate from the Criminal Code provisions regarding
"dangerousness" and all other provisions that might contribute to
arbitrary arrest and detention;

Create an independent mechanism of accountability to ensure all
state institutions, including the security services, respect human rights;

Reform laws, regulations and administrative practices relating to
freedom of expression, association and assembly in accordance with
international standards.

Unfair trials


Provide full judicial guarantees, in accordance with
international human rights standards, to ensure that all detainees have
access to a fair trial, including the right to be heard by an
independent tribunal and immediate access to a lawyer of their choice;

Undertake a judicial review of all the sentences and cases where
there is evidence that the fundamental right to a fair trial has been
violated, ensure that a thorough and impartial retrial takes place and
victims have access to reparation.

Ratification of international human rights standards


Ratify without reservations the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, including its two Optional Protocols, and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Prisoners of conscience


Immediately release all prisoners of conscience and all others
detained or imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights
to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Harassment and intimidation of dissidents and human rights defenders


Cease the harassment, intimidation and persecution of human
rights defenders, independent journalist and political dissidents who
exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and
association, and to grant legal status to their organizations;

Uphold rights pertaining to the UN Declaration on the Right and
Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote
and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
to ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their
legitimate work freely and without fear of reprisals.

The death penalty


Abolish the death penalty.

International human rights monitoring


Permit international government and non-government human rights
bodies to visit the country to independently investigate violations of
international human rights, to facilitate its operation and to consider
its recommendations.

Appendix: Amnesty International documents for further reference13


Cuba: "Essential measures"? Human rights crackdown in the name of
security, AI Index: AMR 25/017/2003

Cuba: One year too many: prisoners of conscience from the March
2003 crackdown, AI Index: AMR 25/005/2004

Cuba: Prisoners of conscience: 71 longing for freedom, AI Index:
AMR 25/002/2005

Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under attack, AI Index: AMR

Cuba: Amnesty International's human rights concerns, AI Index:
AMR 25/003/2007

Urgent Actions


Cuba: Fear for safety / Fear of torture / Intimidation /
Harassment. AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006

Cuba: Possible prisoner of conscience/ harassment/ intimidation:
Ahmed Rodríguez Albacia (m) AI Index: AMR 25/003/2006

Cuba: Fear of unfair trial/possible Prisoners of Conscience. AI
Index: AMR 25/004/2006

Cuba: Further information on Possible prisoner of conscience/
harassment/ intimidation: Ahmed Rodríguez Albacia (m). AI Index: AMR

Cuba: Further information on Fear for safety / Fear of torture /
Intimidation / Harassment. AI Index: AMR 25/001/2007

Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of arbitrary detention: Martha Beatriz
Roque Cabello (f). AI Index: AMR 25/004/2007

Cuba: Fear of unfair trial: Gorki Águila (m). AI Index: AMR

Cuba: Further information on fear of unfair trial: Gorki Águila.
AI Index: AMR 25/003/2008

1 Contained in Human Rights Council Decision 6/102, Follow-up to Human
Rights Council resolution 5/1, section I adopted 27 September 2007.

2 Article 62, Constitution of 1976.

3 Law 87 of 1999, which modifies the Penal Code, changes the provisions
regarding sentencing to provide for life imprisonment.

4 Law 62, Cuban Criminal Code, National Assembly of Popular Power, 1987,
Article 91. Unofficial translation.

5 The declaration of a dangerous pre-criminal state can be decided
summarily according to Decree No. 129, issued in 1991

6 Article 75.1, Cuban Criminal Code, Law 62 of 1987.

7 In section 116, the text of the law explicitly condemns a February
1996 incident in which two planes belonging to a Cuban exile group were
shot down by the Cuban airforce. Cuban authorities claim that this was
an act of self defence prompted by violation of its airspace, while
supporters of the exile group maintain that it was an act of aggression
committed over international waters. The text also condemns government
repression against Concilio Cubano (see below).

8 Article 14 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

9 People who are imprisoned, detained or otherwise physically restricted
because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held
beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex, colour, or language and
who have not used or advocated violence are considered by Amnesty
International to be prisoners of conscience.

10 For more information on the March 2003 events please see the report
entitled "Essential measures? Human rights crackdown in the name of
security". This report was updated on the anniversary of these events in
2004, 2005 and 2006.

11 Inter American Press Association. Cuba country report. Midyear
Meeting 2007, Cartagena de índias, Colombia

12 Report of the UN Secretary-General to the UN General Assembly on Item
27 of the provisional agenda "Necessity of Ending the Economic,
Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America
against Cuba", 20 September 1995.

13 All of these documents are available on Amnesty International's
website: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/americas/caribbean/cuba

AI Index: AMR 25/002/2008 Amnesty International


German Fanz demoted as Cuba coach

German Fanz demoted as Cuba coach
Monday October 13 2008

HAVANA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - German Reinhold Fanz has been demoted as
coach of Cuba, a soccer official said on Monday, after his side lost 6-1
to the U.S. at the weekend and two of its players defected.
Fanz will stay on as an advisor while former coach Raul Gonzalez Triana
takes charge, Cuba Football Association technical director William
Bennet told Reuters.
U.S. and Cuba media reported that midfielder Pedro Faife and forward
Reynier Alcantara defected before Saturday's match. State television
said the pair had "betrayed the unity of their team and given in to the
temptation of the empire's money.
Fanz, who had coaching spells with Bundesliga clubs Hannover 96 and
Eintracht Frankfurt, arrived in March aiming for World Cup qualification
and has been working for free with the football association covering his
living and travel expenses.
However Cuba, who last reached the World Cup finals in 1938, have lost
all four games of their six-match CONCACAF third qualifying round group
section and lie bottom of Group One.


Villas and apartments for sale in Cuba

Villas and apartments for sale in Cuba

One of the first opportunities for foreigners to own a property in Cuba
will launch this year
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

One of the first opportunities for foreigners to own property in Cuba is
just around the corner.

When a new project launches later this year, it will lay the founding
stone of the Carbonera Country Club, the island's first high-end resort
with a PGA golf course.

'Cubans are keen to emphasise that their island has so much more than
the other Caribbean islands,' says Andrew Macdonald, chief executive of
the company in charge of developing the resort, Esencia Hotel &
Resorts. 'Not only is the medical and educationalinfrastructure
excellent, but it's culturally rich, too.'

The development is a result of the Ministry of Tourism's plans to raise
the raise the bar on its tourist product for the discerning market. 'For
an island the size of Britain, it's amazing that there's only one golf
course,' adds Mr Macdonald.

Based on a plot of 420 acres on Cuba's north coast, an hour's drive from
Havana and overlooking the Florida straits, the development will include
650 apartments and 165 villas for sale. Exact details are being
finalised, but sales agents Savills quote a starting price for a
one-bedroom apartment of £70,000, rising to £150,000 for a three-bedroom

'The villas are likely to be between 350 square metres and 500 square
metres with prices starting from £650,000,' says head of global resorts
David Vaughan (020–7016 3740).


Is Fidel Castro seriously an obsessive blogger?

Is Fidel Castro seriously an obsessive blogger?
03:38 PM PT, Oct 13 2008

Last week, Tina Brown's news and culture site, The Daily Beast, featured
a scoopy piece called "Fidel the Blogger," which explored the
astonishing premise that Cuba's jefe emeritus has jumped on the Internet
bandwagon and begun spewing out posts in earnest.

Castro, wrote author Maria Ospina, "has discovered a new way to spread
his opinions. In the last year, he's written more than 150 blogs posts,"
and is "posting furiously about the Wall Street meltdown, sports, and
his soft spot for [Barack] Obama's kids." We learned that Castro is
dressing the part too. "The politician-turned-blogger has traded his
military getup for an informal tracksuit, a more appropriate choice for
someone who works at a home computer."

Because I speak a poco bit of Spanish, and also write about Web trends,
I followed the links in Ospina's story with interest, curious about how
a major historical figure like Castro might approach this most
pajama-friendly of mediums. Like such as, did he have anybody copy
editing his musings before he posted them? Did he crop his own images?
Mix it up with readers in his comments section? And what kind of link
love was the guy giving?

Thing was though, I could never actually find the blog. Ospina had
linked to two different sites -- one called Cubadebate, a site run by
Cuban journalists that featured an archive page with 150+ links to
pieces written by Castro, in chronological order (as opposed to the
newest-first order blogs use) up to late September. The description of
this page reads, "all of the articles published by Fidel which have
appeared as 'Reflections of the Commander in Chief.'"
A screen grab from the page referenced in the Beast article. The last
entry, #156, is several weeks old.

The second set of links the article provides point to Granma, the
official news organ of Cuba's Communist Party, where some of Castro's
articles are also archived.

Looking around a bit more, I found another similar list on the site on
ACN, the Cuban News Agency, and another one on Cuba.cu, a big Cuban Web
portal. But they all seemed to be versions of the same list of print

I contacted The Daily Beast to see what exactly their definition of a
blog was, and whether the Cuban government, the newspaper editors
involved or Castro himself had suggested that this was a weblog in any
generally understood sense.

A publicist replied that the Daily Beast follows Wikipedia's definition
of a blog, the first sentence of which is:

A Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular
entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as
graphics or video.

I'd argue that this definition does not cover Web pages that archive
dozens of links to newspaper articles -- none of which contain images or
links, comment sections or any other bloggy accouterments. The idea that
an individual "usually maintains" his own blog seems key too, and I'm
having trouble conceiving of Fidel as in any sense behind the wheel of
this page. Yes, Fidel's "entries" are definitely regular, and you can
find all of them in one place. But that would probably also mean this
page listing transcripts of President Bush's radio addresses is a blog too.

As for who else is out there calling this a blog, Ospina explained via
email that Castro "has a section on this government sponsored website
called 'Reflections of Fidel' where he shares informal thoughts musings
etc., so it is thought of as his blog." This could well be the case,
though Ospina didn't say who thinks of it that way.

She did however acknowledge that "everything he publishes online is also
published in newspapers -- and is carried by newspapers around the

Which to my ear sounds like a syndicated print column, not a blog. But
tell me if I'm splitting hairs.

— David Sarno


Doctors-in-waiting ... Cuban medical graduates continue to wait on registration

Doctors-in-waiting ... Cuban medical graduates continue to wait on
registration - Part II

Tuesday October 14 2008

he doctors a bit of a tap on the wrist, Dr. Benjamin also expressed his
displeasure at not only the treatment of these doctors, but also their
own self-inflicted injustice. Noting that in the past, some have
practised in his office as assistants to gain experience and keep their
skills alive, he noted that not all were as ambitious in their pursuit
of gaining experience.

"There are so many of us in the medical fraternity who would open our
doors to these doctors if they really wanted to get the experience ...
my door is always open."

In the same breath, however, he also added that it was a shame that the
medical fraternity wasn't rallying behind these doctors, offering as
much support as they could.

Rest of th Article

Beginning of the Article

The suggestion of having the doctors registered once they would have
found a position under the supervision of an already established or
prominent medical practitioner was presented to Dr. Sealy-Thomas during
our interview. Pondering it a bit, she explained that it would be noted
and possibly considered by the board, once the application was
accompanied by a signed document from the established doctor, making
recommendation and promising supervision.

Today, there are 13 Antiguan doctors waiting to be registered, having
been told that the years they spent in Cuba do not make them eligible
for registration. As there is little communication between the boards,
the number of doctors expected next year and in the upcoming years is

So while more and more of our young doctors (some having begun studies
as soon as they graduated from secondary school) continue to pursue
studies at the AUA Medical School and eventually become registered with
little or no hassle, our Antiguan doctors who studied in Cuba continue
to wait.

While many of the accountants, economists, physiotherapists and even
dentists who graduate from Cuba continue to make waves in their careers,
having already been employed in prominent establishments, our
Cuban-trained doctors continue to wait. Interestingly enough, while one
sibling who graduated this year was given a great job in his discipline,
his older sibling, having graduated the year before as a doctor,
continues to wait.

While we continue to tell our children that they can be anything they
want to be, even doctors, given the opportunities to pursue such
studies, we tell our graduate doctors they have to wait to practise. We
tell them that they are our future, tease them with opportunities of
attaining medical careers, then slap them in the face and tell them they
are inadequate.

While they watch many of their peers live and excel in their careers,
our Antiguan Cuban doctors, the ones we happily sent to Cuba to return
as doctors, continue to wait.

Cuban medical graduates continue to wait on registration

Part II

by ZIA

The proposals

This is not to say that the government and more so the Ministry of
Health have not attempted to pacify this situation. Toward the end of
2007, proposals were devised for the young doctors.

The first option was to return to Cuba for another three years or more
to read for their general comprehensive medicine and gain experience.
Having already completed rotations in their study, which are made part
of their programme, the Antiguan doctors were not keen on returning to
Cuba, wary that further problems may be fabricated upon their second
return. Additionally, they would be offered US$20 a month by the Cuban
government for their tenure in Cuba. They were told they'd be
responsible for finding their own means of air transportation to and
from Cuba. Notably, for many students who study abroad, whether through
scholarship or their own means, it is not uncommon for them to provide
their own air fare and even accommodations.

But given the hindsight of their original scholarship, it's
understandable that these doctors would need assistance to "now" be
deemed eligible for registration.

Their second option was the Guyana option. Through coalition with the
Guyanese government, an offer was created where the doctors would get
the opportunity to spend a year in Guyana where they'd complete
rotations at the General Hospital in Georgetown. Not a bad offer
considering that they'd be given institutional registration in Guyana,
and US$500 a month by the Guyanese government (which is the average rate
for a doctor in Guyana) in addition to another US$500 by the Antigua and
Barbuda government – a stipend that was eventually given after months of
negotiations. Accommodations were also sought for our young doctors.

But tally the room and board they'd have to pay in addition to the
transportation to and from the hospital and that US$1,000 begins to look
very dismal for their survival. Some options of accommodation amounted
to as much as US$300 a month per person, which excluded utilities that
could run them an average of not more than US$300 a month.

To inspect and review this option, two of the doctors accompanied
Minister of Health John Maginley, Dr. Zachariah and Dr. Philmore
Benjamin to Guyana. To date, although there were six signatures affixed
to the proposal, only two have pursued this proposal and are currently
in Guyana.

Those who remain shared their concerns that have yet to be abated by any
members of the Medical Board or the Ministry of Health. For one, they
were not about to sign a contract that concluded in an ambiguous state
of their registration upon return.

Being very considerate, Dr. Sealy-Thomas submitted a draft of the letter
that would be given to each doctor. While all the terms and conditions
appeared reasonable and coincided with past discussions, the final
paragraph sparked great debate. The draft read as follows:

Dear Dr. _______,

Members of the Medical Registration Board have reviewed your application
for registration as a medical practitioner in Antigua and Barbuda. It is
the Board's view that you require further supervision in a hospital setting.

We are aware that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has accepted the
government of Guyana's offer for such further supervision at the
Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana for one year.

The Board approves of this programme and has agreed that upon completion
of the year at the Georgetown Public Hospital, you will be registered
according to the relevant legislation.


For these injured doctors, their main concern, knowing that the current
legislation is being reviewed, was that they'd return to Antigua after
their year's internship and find that they would yet again be ineligible
under possible changes to the Medical Registration Act.

Dr. Ephraim expressed that all they wanted was a clearly written
document guaranteeing them registration upon successful completion of
their internship in Guyana.

Sharing his views of the Guyanese programme, Dr. Philmore Benjamin
admitted that while the programme may have been a good idea, it was also
designed for the Guyanese medical system and not Antigua's.

He further expressed his disappointment with the Board and Cabinet in
their prolonged response to these doctors. Noting that the Guyanese
government already recognises them as doctors, and would register them
as such, albeit under the institutional provision, they'd still be
registered nonetheless. "If Guyana can recognise them as doctors, I
don't see why Antigua has a problem now."

In response, Dr. Sealy-Thomas offered that the year in Guyana would give
the doctors a chance to put into practice what they had learned, keeping
their knowledge fresh in their minds, as well as giving them the
opportunity to learn more.

"For the two that will return next year, they'll be registered ... while
the others could have gone that route but chose not to."

The third option, more of a shadow option, was to have a Cuban professor
come to Antigua and design an internship programme at the Holberton
Hospital. As of July, such a person was here discussing the
possibilities of a programme with doctors at the hospital; it was
unclear even then as to when such discussions would be completed and if
anything would be resolved at all.

And so they wait

So, our Cuban graduated doctors continue to wait.

With their documents, hours of rotations and no registration, our
doctors remain in waiting as Cabinet and the Medical Registration Board
continue to linger on the issue. Just a few weeks ago, the issue was
raised in Cabinet with more promises of the issue to be resolved, the
end result of which would be the registration of the doctors. To date,
no one has been notified as to the finality of the decision. Dr.
Sealy-Thomas was clear, however, in asserting that Cabinet could
recommend registration, but the final decision was ultimately up to the
Medical Registration Board.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer only
served to echo sentiments expressed in past meetings with the doctors.
Noting that they were indeed being done an injustice, smiles were again
shared as he made promises of resolving the situation. Adding to the
mantle, Minister of Youth Winston Williams added his outrage at their
injustice and offered his support. Minister of Education Bertrand Joseph
upped the ante at the podium guaranteeing all Cuban graduates that once
their disciplines could be used in his ministry, there would be jobs
waiting for them.

Needless to say, one or two doctors of the nine have gone into the
teaching of biology students in the secondary schools. One has joined
the 2006 registered doctor at the Medical School as a lecturer, two have
migrated (one with encouragement and best wishes from Dr. Sealy-Thomas)
and one or two have taken up assistant positions in prominent private
practices. Others have resorted to medial occupations in the meantime.


Cuban soccer defector: Freedom worth the risk

Posted on Tuesday, 10.14.08

Cuban soccer defector: Freedom worth the risk
After Cuban soccer player Reinier Alcantara left the team hotel in
Washington, D.C., he ran as fast as he could and with the little English
he knew told a cab driver to ``Drive me far. . . . Go far, far, far.''


Reinier Alcantara knew, even before he boarded the flight from Cuba to
Washington, D.C., last week, that he wouldn't be using his return
ticket. He hatched the plan to defect months ago and worked extra hard
to make the roster for last Saturday's World Cup qualifier against the
United States because he figured that would be his chance to escape a
life that was getting increasingly more frustrating and depressing.

The only question was when he would make the break. Team security was
tight, following the defections of seven members of the Cuban Under-23
soccer team in Tampa in March. The phone lines in the players' rooms at
the Doubletree Hotel were disconnected, their passports and visas were
collected by a team official upon arrival in the nation's capital, and
coaches watched their every move.

But then the moment arrived. It was Thursday, early evening, and the
team had just returned from practice. They were milling around the
lobby, waiting for dinner, and the coaches walked into the gift shop.
Alcantara got up from a sofa, walked down a hallway, found a service
door, checked over his shoulder, stepped outside and sprinted toward


He ran, and ran, and ran. Six to eight blocks. At full speed, looking
over his shoulder the whole way, worried that someone would snag him and
deliver him back to the Cuban delegation. Finally, when he realized
nobody was chasing him, Alcantara stopped at a corner, caught his
breath, and flagged down a taxi.

He speaks very little English, but he used what he knew when he got into
the taxi cab. ''Drive me far,'' he told the driver, motioning with his
hand. ``Go far, far, far.''

They drove for nearly half an hour and Alcantara, a 26-year-old forward,
got off at a McDonald's. He asked the cabbie if he could borrow his
cellphone to make a call. He called a friend in New Jersey, told him
where he was, and the friend drove down to meet him.

On Friday morning, Alcantara met up with another friend, who took him
shopping for food, clothing and toiletries, and drove home with him to
Atlanta, where he will officially seek asylum and begin his new life. On
Saturday night, he watched on television as Cuba lost 6-1 to the U.S. He
felt bad for his teammates, but said he had no regrets. ''I love my
team, but this is my life, and my future, and I had to do this,'' he said.

Alcantara had no idea that as he was getting over the most challenging
day of his life, his teammate, Pedro Faife, was bolting from the team
hotel back in D.C. with relatives, who drove him to their home in
Orlando. The two hadn't spoken as of Monday morning, but Alcantara
planned to get in touch later in the day.

''I feel so happy to finally be here, free to pursue my dreams,''
Alcantara said by cellphone Monday morning, on his way to Miami for a
series of interviews with Spanish-language media. ``I've been dreaming
of this for a long, long time, and I just had to wait for the right
opportunity. It was a very scary decision, and I was nervous that first
night, but thanks to the support of friends, and so many great people in
this country, I am feeling much calmer.''


Alcantara comes from Pinar del Rio, and said his neighborhood was
devastated by the recent hurricanes, making an already difficult life
unbearable. He said his home suffered roof damage and other houses
nearby were in ruins. The government made promises to help, but there
didn't seem to be any help in sight. When he entered a grocery store
Friday, his eyes welled with tears.

''It's beautiful to see the amount and quality of food here, the
choices, the possibilities,'' he said. ``Meanwhile, people are hungry in
Cuba, scraping to get by, obsessing about where they'll find dinner. I
have to be careful with all this great food. If I keep eating, I won't
be able to run anymore and I'll get out of shape.''

Alcantara stressed that he will always love Cuba, and has only warm
feelings toward his teammates and coaches. But he felt ''trapped'' on
the island, and had traveled enough through soccer to realize what life
was like in other places. He was in East Rutherford, N.J., and Houston
in 2007 for the Gold Cup, and the thought of defecting crossed his mind
then, but he said family situations back home prevented him from doing so.

This time, nothing was holding him back. He is not married and has no
children. His parents had no idea he planned to stay, and as of Monday
he hadn't spoken to them yet. They don't have a telephone, so they're
hard to reach, but also, Alcantara said he wanted to wait a few days to
let the news sink in because he knows how hard it will hit them.

''I'm sure my parents are devastated with my decision, but in time,
they'll realize this was the best thing,'' he said. ``There is no future
for me in Cuba, no hope. You can dream there, but your dreams can't come
true. It's a dead end for athletes, and for people of all professions.
We hear promises, but they're never fulfilled. Here, you dream and if
you work hard enough, and sacrifice, your dreams can be realized.''


Alcantara's goal is to play professional soccer, something he is not
allowed to do under the Cuban regime. He knows it won't be easy. He
spent the past 48 hours fielding calls from Cuban soccer players who
defected over the past few years -- Yaikel Perez, Yenier Bermudez,
Yordanny Alvarez, Lester More, and Osvaldo Alonso, who grew up with him,
defected last year in Houston during the World Cup, plays for the
Charleston Battery and last week was named the United Soccer Leagues'
2008 Rookie of the Year.

''Of course, it's a little lonely to be starting all over so far from
the people you love,'' he said. 'But it gives me courage and hope to
talk to all those other guys, to Yaikel and Lester and Osvaldo, guys who
did what I did, who made the same sacrifice. Every one of them told me
the same thing. They said, `It won't be easy. There will be pain. But be
patient, work very hard, and everything will work out.' I believe them.
I feel, for the first time, that my future will be bright.''


Cuba names new vice president of cabinet

Posted on Tuesday, 10.14.08

Cuba names new vice president of cabinet
Associated Press

HAVANA -- An official with decades of experience in international
commerce has been named a vice president of Cuba's Cabinet to oversee
the foreign trade and foreign investment ministries.

The 71-year-old Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz becomes one of seven vice
presidents within the Cabinet. He was previously minister without
portfolio. The separate Council of State that formally governs Cuba has
six vice presidents.

Cabrisas earlier was commerce minister and ambassador to Japan, and he
is often called on to meet foreign dignitaries arriving in Cuba.

The Communist Party daily Granma says Tuesday that the move was proposed
by the party's ruling politburo. Fidel Castro still heads that body
despite resigning as president in February due to illness.


Spain: PM accepts invitation to visit Cuba

Posted on Tuesday, 10.14.08

Spain: PM accepts invitation to visit Cuba
Associated Press Writer

MADRID, Spain -- The prime minister of Spain, which played a key role in
persuading the European Union to lift diplomatic sanctions against Cuba,
has accepted an invitation from President Raul Castro to visit next
year, a Spanish official said Tuesday.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said details of the trip
by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero still need to be worked out, but
Moratinos believes it will go ahead. The minister made the announcement
after meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Felipe Perez Roque.

The sanctions were imposed in 2003 after Cuba jailed 75 dissidents. The
measures were lifted in June. More than 200 dissidents are still serving
jail terms in Cuba, although 20 have been released.

In the talks here Tuesday, Spain also agreed to fund a two-year,
euro24.5 million (US$34 million) program to help Cuba rebuild homes,
schools and other structures destroyed by hurricanes Gustav and Ike this
summer, Moratinos said.

Spain has also agreed to restructure part of Cuba's euro1.5 billion
(US$2.1 billion) debt with the Spanish government, and open up a new
line of credit worth euro50 million (US$69 million) to euro100 million
(US$138 million), Moratinos said.


What will Chávez do without Castro?

Posted on Tuesday, 10.14.08

What will Chávez do without Castro?

Hugo Chávez has just declared that Fidel Castro is his father. He says
that Castro phones him constantly and tells him what to do. Chávez obeys
him solicitously, like a good son who admires the wisdom of his
progenitor. ''The Devil knows more not because he's the Devil but
because he's old,'' the Venezuelan president has said through laughter.

Chávez laughs a lot, sings and makes many people laugh. Castro laughs
less, because his dentures are ill-fitting and slippery, and he never
sings because he sings badly and has an intense fear of ridicule. But he
does send letters and ''little notes'' to his disciple to enlighten him.
Chávez receives those lessons and suggestions with great expectation and
talks about them in his weekly reality show, Hello, President!

Recently, Castro explained to Chávez how to build a new international
financial system. While Cuba is an irreparably ruined country (and
that's a fact), Castro insists that he knows a lot about international
finance. Could be. As Forbes magazine keeps reporting, his fortune
abroad is among the world's largest. In Cuba, that money is called ''the
Comandante's accounts,'' and everyone on the island was hoping that he
would use it to palliate the recent catastrophe caused by the two

But Castro didn't think it was a good idea to repatriate his money for
enterprises as lacking in glory as rebuilding the 500,000 houses that
were damaged. That's a vulgarity of ``petty history.''

At this stage in Castro's life, he should consider himself blessed
because Chávez declared himself his disciple, beloved son and apostle of
collectivist socialism, in an era when those archaic beliefs have been
discarded. Castro's personal tragedy is that nobody in Cuba pays any
attention to him anymore. In Cuba, for the past many years, people --
even those closest to him -- have paid him homage and pretended to obey
him, but they don't take him seriously. They applaud him, because they
have no other choice, but with profound indifference. No devotion will
withstand half a century of interminable speeches divorced from the
reality of a country that is falling apart because of the stubborn
stupidity of its ''Maximum Leader,'' as the older people still call him.

In turn, Chávez is a chronic orphan looking for a paternal figure to
whom he can cling, a person who desperately needs an ideological guide
who will organize his chaotic mind.

Twenty years ago, he declared himself the son of Norberto Ceresole, an
Argentine fascist who had scrambled Peronism with Islam and preached the
virtues of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's Green Book. Chávez was very
happy with Ceresole, until the day he repudiated him and adopted Castro
as his father.

The way Chávez forges political alliances is odd. He takes those
relationships to a familial plane that expands like the universe.
Besides his ''brethren'' Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega,
he is beginning to talk about ''my brother'' Vladimir Putin of Russia
and ''my brother'' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's petty tyrant, who is
intent on wiping Israel off the map.

It is not clear whether, by designating these characters as
''brethren,'' Chávez has placed them under Castro's prolific paternity,
or if they are his brothers on his mother's side, or sired by Simón
Bolívar, another figure whose DNA the Venezuelan president has
resolutely appropriated.

What will happen to Chávez when Castro dies and the little notes and
delirious ideas stop flowing? Will the Venezuelan feel totally neglected
and will he fall into a state of deep melancholy, or will he set out to
adopt another paternal figure who will compensate his profound
insecurity? I don't know.

Latin America does not lend itself to political analysis. Over there,
the cry might well be ``Prozac or death!''


Zapatero anuncia crédito a Cuba por valor de 100 millones de euros

Zapatero anuncia crédito a Cuba por valor de 100 millones de euros

2 horas, 44 minutos

MADRID (AP) - El gobierno español anunció el martes que abrirá una línea
de crédito de hasta 100 millones de euros (casi 137 millones de dólares)
para ayudar a Cuba en el proceso de renconstrucción del país tras el
paso de los huracanes "Gustav" y "Ike" hace dos meses.

Los ministros de Exteriores de España y Cuba, Miguel Ángel Moratinos y
Felipe Pérez Roque, anunciaron además que el presidente José Luis
Rodríguez Zapatero visitará la isla el año que viene invitado por su
homólogo Raúl Castro.

La entrevista entre los dos cancilleres constató el buen momento de las
relaciones bilaterales entre los dos países. Como prueba de esta
sintonía, España explicó que pondrá en marcha de tres medidas económicas
de gran calado.

En primer lugar, el gobierno abrirá una línea de crédito, que, según
Moratinos, podría ser de entre 50 y 100 millones de euros para ayudar al
gobierno cubano a comprar bienes y recuperar la producción agrícola,
seriamente dañada tras la devastación provocada por "Gustav" y "Ike".

Además, los dos ministros señalaron que se "reestructurará" el pago de
parte de la deuda de 1.500 millones de euros que Cuba adeuda a España,
aunque no precisaron ni la cantidad ni la forma en la que se compensarán
estos pagos.

Finalmente, Moratinos anunció que el gobierno invertirá 24,5 millones de
euros (33,7 millones dólares) en un plan de dos años para, dijo,
comenzar de forma inmediata las tareas de ayuda en el acondicionamiento
de viviendas y escuelas destruidas por los huracanes.


España tiende la mano a Cuba

España tiende la mano a Cuba
Moratinos anuncia una ayuda de 24,5 millones de euros para la
reconstrucción tras el paso de dos huracanes.- Zapatero, viajará a la
isla en 2009

AGENCIAS - Madrid - 14/10/2008

El Gobierno español ha ofrecido hoy a Cuba 24,5 millones de euros
destinados a la reconstrucción de las zonas afectadas por los huracanes
Ike y Gustav durante los próximos dos años. Asimismo, el Ejecutivo ha
mostrado su disposición de revisar la petición de La Habana para hacer
una "reestructuración" de la deuda comercial que mantiene Cuba con
España, ha informado hoy el ministro español de Exteriores, Miguel Ángel
Moratinos, en una rueda de prensa celebrada en conjunto con su homólogo
cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque, en Madrid.

Para concretar esta reestructuración de la deuda y las modalidades de la
ayuda financiera de crédito, una delegación cubana visitará la próxima
semana España para reunirse con responsables del Ministerio de Economía
y Hacienda. España ha ofrecido a Cuba una línea de financiación de
crédito que podría situarse entre 50 y 100 millones de euros.

Moratinos ha subrayado que la relación entre España y Cuba pasa por un
momento de "normalidad" y es "positiva" y que los acuerdos que ambos
países establecieron durante su viaje a La Habana en abril de 2007 se
han ido desarrollando de "forma satisfactoria".

Tanto es así, que el ministro ha anunciado que el presidente José Luis
Rodríguez Zapatero ha aceptado la invitación de Raúl Castro de visitar
la isla el próximo año, en una fecha aún no determinada.

En opinión de Moratinos, hay progresos en Cuba después de la decisión de
Fidel Castro de delegar el poder en su hermano Raúl y que esta mejoría
se ha visto reflejada en el descenso del "número de presos en situación
difícil" que había en la isla.

Nada de reformas fuera de la revolución

Por su parte, Pérez Roque, ha asegurado hoy que el Gobierno de Raúl
Castro continuará la línea de su hermano y no hará reformas que se
salgan del marco de la revolución y del socialismo, aunque ha
transmitido el deseo de la isla de buscar ámbitos de acuerdo con la UE.

"Nadie debe hacerse ilusiones" de que Cuba va a "desertar" en su meta de
construir una sociedad "justa, incluyente y cada vez más democrática y
abierta". Para el ministro cubano, la actual crisis financiera le dice a
Cuba de que no se puede copiar el modelo capitalista.

"Dios nos libre de intentar hacer en Cuba el sistema dictado de Wall
Street. No queremos imitar. Reconocemos el derecho de cada país a hacer
lo que considere. Reclamamos igual respeto para nosotros", ha señalado.

No ha hecho mención a la posibilidad de que haya liberaciones de presos
en vísperas del comienzo del diálogo entre Cuba y la UE el próximo
jueves en París, tras aclarar que en la isla "no hay nadie preso por
pensar distinto".


España aceptó pedido de Cuba de reestructuración de la deuda

España aceptó pedido de Cuba de reestructuración de la deuda

14 de Octubre de 2008, 11:45am ET
MADRID, 14 Oct 2008 (AFP) -

El gobierno español aceptó el pedido de las autoridades cubanas de
reestructuración de la deuda que la isla contrajo con España desde 1997
a 2001, anunciaron este martes los cancilleres de ambos países.

"Las autoridades cubanas nos han solicitado una reestructuración de la
deuda bilateral. La posición de España es aceptar esa posición", anunció
el ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Angel Moratinos, en
conferencia de prensa en Madrid junto a su par cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque.

Además de reestructurar la deuda, cuyo monto no precisó porque ambos
países lo están acordando, el gobierno español prevé "ofrecer una
financiación de crédito a corto plazo para hacer frente a las
necesidades urgentes que tiene Cuba en estos momentos", añadió el ministro.

Una delegación cubana viajará a España la próxima semana para concretar
los detalles de esta operación, que ambos países estudiaban desde que
reanudaron las relaciones, en abril de 2007, durante un viaje de
Moratinos a La Habana, precisó.

La apertura de líneas de crédito, de entre 50 y 100 millones de euros,
según Moratinos, "beneficiarán la exportación y los intereses de los
empresarios" y "permitirá a Cuba adquirir, en condiciones mejores que
las actuales, equipos, bienes de capital y materiales necesarios para la
reconstrucción" de la isla tras el paso de los huracanes "Ike" y
"Gustav", explicó Pérez Roque.

España es el tercer país del que importa Cuba, con un 9% del total, y el
primero de la UE. En 2007 exportó a la isla por valor de 668 millones de
euros e importó por 142 millones de euros, según cifras oficiales
españolas. España invirtió en 2007 en Cuba 4 millones de euros.


En situación extrema

En situación extrema

Frank Correa

LA HABANA, Cuba, octubre (www.cubanet.org) - Hace una semana, en Palma
Soriano, municipio de la provincia Santiago de Cuba, fue apedreada la
vivienda del jefe del gobierno por un grupo de personas que fue
catalogado como opositores.

Sin lugar a dudas que fueron opositores quienes lanzaron las piedras,
pues quien ataca al gobierno se le opone.

Luego de la agudización de la crisis alimentaria debido a los huracanes,
la pequeña economía de Palma Soriano ha llegado a niveles límites de
ahogo. Los precios de los productos en este municipio agrícola
sobrepasan a los de la capital. En las tablillas de los mercados se lee:
arroz 9 pesos la libra; malanga a 10; lo que puede ser un buen
referente de la situación en la zona oriental del país.

El gobierno de Palma Soriano dio la orden de multar a todos los
vendedores por cuenta propia que llevaran sus productos a las
tradicionales ferias del domingo de las calle 26 y Paquito Borrero,
solamente se les permite vender en los establecimientos del Estado. El
domingo 28 de septiembre la policía detuvo a todos los particulares que
osaban incumplir con esta orden y, a los que no pudieron escapar, les
confiscó los productos.

Tampoco apareció por la feria ningún camión de alguna cooperativa
estatal con viandas y vegetales.

El malestar en Palma Soriano es general. El opositor Pedro Figueredo
opinó al respecto que el fin del sistema puede estar cerca, y ese
malestar tal vez sea un síntoma generalizado.

En todos los centros de trabajo del municipio, los trabajadores fueron
convocados a reuniones extraordinarias. Marino Antomachín Rivero y Pedro
Figueredo Guerra relataron que en las reuniones de la Empresa de
Refrigeración Municipal y del INDER, se habló del dinero que estaba
enviando los Estados Unidos a los opositores para colocar carteles
contrarrevolucionarios y subvertir el orden. Los directivos pidieron a
los trabajadores que estuvieran alertas contra esos individuos, y si
había que romper alguna cabeza que no se preocuparan, dándoles total

Marino y Pedro afirmaron que el ánimo de sus compañeros de trabajo no es
atacar a los que protestan por sus mismos derechos, y no existe
motivación alguna para golpear a un vecino o a un opositor por quejarse
de la escasez y el desorden imperantes.


Freixenet de España instalará sucursal en Cuba

Freixenet de España instalará sucursal en Cuba

La Habana, 14 oct (PL) La conocida marca de vinos espumosos españoles
Freixenet abrirá en Cuba este año una sucursal, luego de estar presentes
sus productos más de 20 años en el turismo de la Isla, señalaron hoy

El representante de esta marca en el área caribeña, Luis Ortega Mateo,
informó que por el destaque de esta bebida espumosa en este país y el
desarrollo de su turismo aquí decidieron abrir una oficina.

Hasta el momento, Freixenet llegaba a la isla mediante la firma
importadora española Juanita Mateo S.L. pero en breve, tendrá
independencia cuando abra su sucursal.

Ortega Mateo recordó que pese a ser los primeros en llegar al turismo
cubano, sin embargo faltaba abrir una oficina como tal que se encargara
de los asuntos de las bodegas que representa como la argentina Tridento
o la española Marques de Cáceres.

En la actualidad, el empresario está al frente de la representación que
trae productos de más de 10 bodegas, y como novedades, recientemente
presentadas, están los vinos dulces de Tridento.

Otra peculiaridad, la aporta una nueva imagen de Freixenet para el
Cordón Negro y Carta Nevada, además de la presencia del Cordón Rosado.

Señaló que cada vez es mejor la aceptación de los vinos en Cuba,
criterio recogido a través de su trabajo en hoteles de todo el país.

La firma Juanita Mateo S.L. lleva más de 20 años en este país con una
carpeta de alrededor de 200 productos entre cosmética y vinos.

Uno de los elementos que Ortega Mateo destaca es el desarrollo
profesional de los sommeliers o presentadores de cartas de vinos
cubanos, a quienes ellos antes ayudaban en su formación.

"Ahora estos expertos locales son muy demandados en otros países, sobre
todo de Centroamérica, para impartir clases y conferencias", insistió el
ejecutivo español.




Violencia contra transporte público

Violencia contra transporte público

LA HABANA, Cuba, 14 de octubre (Lucas Garve, Fundación por la Libertad
de Expresión / www.cubanet.org) - La violencia callejera se ha volcado
contra los ómnibus que circulan por la capital cubana, y en los últimos
nueve meses han pasado por los talleres de reparación 300 carros, luego
de sufrir atentados a piedra limpia, y en algunos casos debido a los
accidentes, según reportó la prensa oficial.

Los vándalos, en caso de ser apresados, son juzgados de inmediato y
condenados a varios años de cárcel. Estas acciones ponen de manifiesto
hasta dónde llega la indisciplina social en las calles. Los ómnibus,
cuando pasan por barrios marginales, son atacados con piedras que hieren
a choferes, pasajeros y transeúntes.

Las autoridades exhortan a los ciudadanos a cuidar los vehículos. Los
llamados a respetar la propiedad estatal y mejorar la disciplina social
se repiten en los espacios televisivos y radiales, pero los resultados
no se ven en la calle.

La mayoría de los vehículos que circulan actualmente por Ciudad de La
Habana son ómnibus articulados chinos y ucranianos, y forman parte de la
campaña de reanimación del transporte público habanero emprendida por el


La Aduana flexibiliza la entrada de alimentos al país

El golpe de los huracanes
La Aduana flexibiliza la entrada de alimentos al país

El gobierno está permitiendo el ingreso de productos en conserva, pero
en ningún caso carnes, quesos, frutas frescas, ni semillas.

Michel Suárez, Madrid | 14/10/2008

La Aduana General de la República está permitiendo el ingreso al país de
"cantidades razonables" de alimentos, exentos de impuestos, tras el
grave desabastecimiento originado por los huracanes Gustav y Ike y las
medidas de control del gobierno, se conoció este martes oficialmente.

"Se permite la entrada al país de cantidades razonables de alimentos. No
los estamos pesando en los aeropuertos", informó a CUBAENCUENTRO.com una
fuente de la entidad.

Para beneficiarse de la medida, puesta en práctica recientemente, pero
no divulgada en la prensa oficial, las personas que viajen a la Isla
deberán transportar los alimentos en una maleta aparte.

Hasta ahora, la Aduana sólo eximía de impuestos los primeros 25
kilogramos de artículos generales, y 10 de medicamentos. Dichas
regulaciones se mantienen para todo lo que no sea alimentos.

Sin embargo, la compañía estatal Cubana de Aviación no prevé modificar
el peso permitido en sus vuelos, advirtió hoy su oficina en Madrid.

"La empresa transportista no tiene nada que ver con las disposiciones de
la Aduana. Se mantienen los 40 kilogramos, y todo lo que supere esa
cantidad, tiene un precio de 19 euros por kilogramo", informó una empleada.

A petición de este periódico, el Departamento de Salud Pública del
aeropuerto internacional José Martí, de La Habana, detalló que se
permitirá el ingreso de productos en conserva, pero en ningún caso
carnes, quesos, frutas frescas, ni semillas.


Pérez Roque: No habrá reformas que se salgan de la línea trazada por el régimen

Pérez Roque: No habrá reformas que se salgan de la línea trazada por el

Lejos de referirse a la posibilidad de excarcelaciones de presos
políticos, el canciller dijo que en la Isla 'no hay nadie preso por
pensar distinto'.

Agencias | 14/10/2008

El ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque,
descartó hoy en Madrid la posibilidad de que el régimen de Raúl Castro
haga reformas que se salgan del marco "de la revolución y del
socialismo", informó EFE.

En una rueda de prensa conjunta con el ministro español de Asuntos
Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, tras una reunión en el madrileño
Palacio de Viana, una de las sedes de la Cancillería española, Pérez
Roque dijo que nadie debe hacerse "ilusiones" sobre la posibilidad de un
cambio en Cuba.

Según el funcionario, La Habana no va a "desertar" en su meta de
construir una sociedad "justa, incluyente y cada vez más democrática y

Pérez Roque no hizo mención a la posibilidad de que haya liberaciones de
presos en vísperas del comienzo del diálogo entre La Habana y la UE el
próximo jueves, en París. Por el contrario, afirmó que en la Isla "no
hay nadie preso por pensar distinto".


Cómo se vota en Cuba?

¿Cómo se vota en Cuba?

Tania Díaz Castro

LA HABANA, Cuba, octubre (www.cubanet.org) - Si elegir a un nuevo Sumo
Pontífice no es tan complicado, menos aún ha sido elegir en Cuba al
mismo candidato a la presidencia durante cincuenta años.

Cuando muere un Papa, tanto el camarlengo, como 120 cardenales menores
de ochenta años de edad, con derecho al voto, participan del proceso
electoral, vigilados mediante sorteo por tres asistentes de los
cardenales, renovados cada tres días.

En Cuba todo es mucho más sencillo. Dos niños de pie custodian y vigilan
las urnas, o por lo menos, hacen como si las vigilaran. Se dice que el
pueblo postula y elige a sus representantes, pero en realidad no es así.
El pueblo se compone de millones de seres humanos, muchos de ellos
indiferentes, disidentes, ex balseros, ganadores de la lotería de visas
de EUA, retrasados mentales, opositores, etc., y aquellos que postulan y
eligen en sus respectivos barrios son los incondicionales del gobierno,
los favorecidos y comprometidos hasta los cartílagos, esos que cada día
son menos y que en muchos casos padecen de esa enfermedad propia de las
dictaduras: el miedo.

Como las elecciones son financiadas, organizadas y controladas por el
Estado, es el jefe de Estado quien obtiene siempre los votos requeridos
por aquellos que representan a los incondicionales, favorecidos y
comprometidos hasta la médula y que siempre son los mismos: viejos
generales, viejos ministros, viejos combatientes, en su gran mayoría
cercanos a los ochenta años, que componen la nomenclatura.

El actual sistema electoral cubano es ideal para las dictaduras. No es
que casualmente le venga como anillo al dedo, sino que ha sido concebido
tal y como las tiranías requieren. En 1954 el dictador Batista quiso
poner en práctica algo parecido. El único candidato opositor que se
prestó al juego se retiró a última hora y Batista ganó las elecciones.

En Cuba, valga la aclaración, los procesos electorales se realizan tan
fácilmente como el cepillado de los dientes. Nada de partidos opositores
o disidentes propuestos en las asambleas de barrio donde se eligen a los
representantes. Eso complicaría la cosa, sobre todo a la hora de
controlar dichas asambleas por los miembros de la policía política.
No he querido decir, aclaro, que la elección del Papa se parezca a la
elección de un dictador. Ni remotamente he pensado eso. Los cardenales
votan por escrito y en secreto, reunidos en el Vaticano; en Cuba los más
favorecidos por el gobierno cubano se reúnen en el Palacio de las
Convenciones y a mano limpia, bien levantada, sin secretos, votan por la
continuidad del jefe de Estado.


Un total de nueve futbolistas cubanos han desertado en lo que va de año

Más cubanos huyen de la isla
Un total de nueve futbolistas cubanos han desertado en lo que va de año

El delantero Reyner Alcántara, de 26 años, se quedó en Estados Unidos el
sábado (Reuters)

"Siempre es un problema para el equipo cubano", dijo el entrenador
alemán de la selección antillana de fútbol Reinhold Fanz al diario The
Washington Post. "Tenemos seguridad, pero no podemos encadenarlos en sus

Se refería a Pedro Faife y Reyner Alcántara, quienes a-bandonaron a la
delegación cubana en Washington, donde se encontraban para realizar un
partido el sábado contra el equipo de Estados Unidos, en las
eliminatorias de la Concacaf para el Mundial Suráfrica 2010.

Con ellos ya son nueve los futbolistas cubanos que han desertado este
año en Estados Unidos, pues en marzo se quedaron siete de los que
acudieron para un partido del Preolímpico (Sub 23), en el que debían
jugar contra el equipo local en Tampa y, según The Miami Herald, la
cantidad se eleva a 15 desde 2002.

Según el mismo Herald, Faife "ya estaba en contacto con dos anteriores
desertores cubanos: Maykel Galindo, que juega con Chivas USA en la Major
League Soccer, y Lester Moré, que juega para el Charleston Battery de la
United Soccer Leagues".

Fanz ya fue relevado como estratega, ahora cumplirá funciones como asesor.

Este año ha sido el fútbol cubano el más afectado por las deserciones,
cuando anteriormente la mayoría de los que decidían no regresar a Cuba
eran boxeadores y beisbolistas, debido al gran mercado existente para
esos deportes en el campo profesional de Estados Unidos.

Tanto es así, que en noviembre de 2007 Cuba decidió no enviar su equipo
de boxeo al Campeonato Mundial celebrado en Chicago, clasificatorio para
los Juegos Olímpicos de Pekín. Sus pugilistas tuvieron que acudir este
año a los clasificatorios efectuados en marzo y abril, en Trinidad y
Guatemala, en busca de sus cupos para China.

En Trinidad y Guatemala clasificaron a diez púgiles, pero por primera
vez en muchos años el boxeo, principal bandera del deporte cubano, no
pudo subir a lo más alto del podio en unos Juegos Olímpicos.

A Pekín acudieron con caras nuevas, los que garantizaban oro ya no
estaban en Cuba o habían intentado salir.

Tres de esos abandonos ocurrieron en Caracas, en diciembre de 2006,
cuando vinieron a cumplir topes, y se separaron del grupo para luego
viajar a Alemania: Yuriorkis Gamboa (pluma), campeón olímpico y mundial,
igual que Yan Barthelemy (gallo), y Odlanier Solís (pesado), campeón

Luego le tocó al considerado mejor boxeador aficionado del momento en el
mundo, el peso gallo Guillermo Rigondeaux, doble titular olímpico, y al
peso welter Erislandy Lara, campeón mundial, quienes se separaron de la
delegación cubana antes de intervenir en los Juegos Pa-namericanos de
Río de Janeiro, en julio de 2007.

Cuando muchos pensaban que aparecerían firmando contratos con promotores
alemanes ambos fueron encontrados por la policía brasileña y devueltos a
Cuba. A Rigondeaux lo han mantienen al margen de la actividad
pugilística, mientras que Lara en junio de este año consiguió
trasladarse hasta Alemania y ya cuenta con dos victorias como peleador

Los casos de beisbolistas son cuantiosos, entre ellos los hermanos Liván
y Orlando Hernández, con sobresalientes actuaciones en Grandes Ligas, o
el de Alexei Ramírez, quien juega con los Medias Blancas de Chicago.

La situación llegó a tal extremo que en los Juegos Panamericanos de 1999
en Canadá, el diario Winnipeg Sun realizó un concurso en el que los
lectores debían acertar la cifra de deportistas cubanos que abandonarían
su delegación, el ganador recibiría como premio un viaje para dos
personas, por dos semanas, a Cuba.


Madrid ofrece a La Habana 24,5 millones para la reconstrucción

Madrid ofrece a La Habana 24,5 millones para la reconstrucción

El gobierno español se ha mostrado dispuesto a una 'reestructuración' de
la deuda cubana y ha propuesto además una línea de crédito de hasta 100
millones de euros.

Agencias | 14/10/2008

Miguel Ángel Moratinos y Felipe Pérez Roque. Palacio de Viana, Madrid. (EFE)

Los cancilleres de España, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, y Cuba, Felipe Pérez
Roque. Palacio de Viana, Madrid, 14 de octubre de 2008. (EFE)

El gobierno español ofreció hoy al de Cuba 24,5 millones de euros para
apoyar la reconstrucción de las zonas afectadas por los huracanas Ike y
Gustav, informó Europa Press.

El dinero se distribuiría durante los dos próximos años y se destinaría
principalmente a recuperar viviendas, explotaciones agrícolas e
infraestructuras básicas, según anunció el ministro español de Asuntos
Exteriores y de Cooperación, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, quien compareció en
rueda de prensa conjunta con el canciller cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque,
tras una reunión en Madrid.

El gobierno español se ha mostrado también dispuesto a atender la
petición cubana de una "reestructuración" de la deuda comercial de la
Isla con España, añadió el ministro.

No se precisó el monto de esa deuda, pero a principios de 2007 rondaba
los 1.700 millones de euros, de acuerdo con EFE.

Además, Madrid ha ofrecido al gobierno cubano una línea de crédito a
corto plazo, que podría situarse entre 50 y 100 millones de euros, para
la compra de bienes y la recuperación de la producción agrícola.

Para concretar la reestructuración de la deuda y las modalidades del
crédito, una delegación cubana visitará la próxima semana España para
reunirse con responsables del Ministerio de Economía y Hacienda.

Los cancilleres acordaron, además, que La Habana acoja en la segunda
quincena de enero la tercera reunión formal entre representantes de los
dos gobiernos para abordar específicamente la situación de los derechos
humanos en la Isla, según Europa Press.

Moratinos se mostró satisfecho por considerar que la "hoja de ruta"
fijada desde que los gobiernos de España y Cuba abrieron una nueva etapa
de relaciones se está desarrollando de acuerdo con lo previsto.


Zapatero acepta una invitación de Raúl Castro para visitar Cuba en 2009

Zapatero acepta una invitación de Raúl Castro para visitar Cuba en 2009

Agencias | 14/10/2008

Miguel A. Moratinos, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega y Felipe Pérez
Roque. (EFE)

De izquierda a derecha: Miguel A. Moratinos, María Teresa Fernández de
la Vega y Felipe Pérez Roque. Madrid, 14 de octubre de 2008. (EFE)

El presidente del gobierno español, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ha
aceptado una invitación de Raúl Castro para visitar la Isla el próximo
año, informó EFE.

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de España, Miguel Ángel Moratinos,
anunció la disposición de Zapatero de viajar a La Habana, tras la
invitación transmitida por el canciller cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque, en
la reunión mantenida en el madrileño Palacio de Viana.

En una rueda de prensa conjunta, Moratinos dijo que aún hay que
concretar los detalles del viaje, aunque se mostró confiado en que se
pueda llevar adelante.

Esta sería la primera visita de Zapatero a Cuba.

Antes de reunirse con Moratinos, Pérez Roque se entrevistó con la
vicepresidenta primera del gobierno español, María Teresa Fernández de
la Vega, en el Palacio de la Moncloa.

Esta tarde, el canciller cubano será recibido por el rey Juan Carlos en
el Palacio de la Zarzuela.


El gobierno español considera 'claramente insuficientes' los 'cambios' en la Isla

El gobierno español considera 'claramente insuficientes' los 'cambios'
en la Isla

La Habana tiene que 'dar pasos' si quiere que sea fructífero el diálogo
con los Veintisiete, dijo el secretario de Estado español para la UE,
Diego López Garrido.

Agencias | 14/10/2008

El secretario de Estado español para la Unión Europea (UE), Diego López
Garrido, afirmó hoy que los cambios que se han producido en Cuba después
del traspaso de poder de Fidel Castro a su hermano Raúl son "claramente
insuficientes" desde el punto de vista político, económico y de
protección de derechos humanos, informó EFE.

En un desayuno informativo en el Congreso con la Asociación de
Periodistas Parlamentarios, López Garrido consideró que el régimen
cubano "tiene que moverse" y "dar pasos" si quiere que sea fructífero el
diálogo con la UE.

La primera reunión entre La Habana y la UE tras el fin de las sanciones
diplomáticas de 2003 tendrá lugar este jueves en París con la presencia
del canciller cubano, Felipe Pérez Roque, quien se encuentra de visita
oficial en Madrid.

Pérez Roque se reúne este martes con el ministro español de Asuntos
Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, para preparar la cita con la
presidencia francesa de la UE y evaluar la colaboración en marcha entre
España y Cuba.

López Garrido animó a las autoridades de la Isla a avanzar en sus
reformas y aprovechar el "mensaje de aliento" dado por la UE el pasado
mes de junio con el levantamiento de las sanciones adoptadas en 2003
para protestar por el encarcelamiento de 75 disidentes.

El secretario de Estado opinó que se han producido algunos cambios en
materia económica y agrícola y una "flexibilización" en la situación de
algunos disidentes, pero dijo que son "claramente insuficientes".

"Cuba tiene que moverse y dar pasos en cuanto a la liberalización
económica y política", dijo.

Añadió que el camino adecuado para apoyar el progreso de Cuba es el
diálogo, y no "el embargo y las sanciones".

También expresó la disposición de la UE y de España a seguir cooperando
con La Habana en la reparación de los daños causados por los huracanes
Gustav e Ike.


Ricardo Cabrisas, designado vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros

Ricardo Cabrisas, designado vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros

Agencias | 14/10/2008

AFP/ La Habana. El Consejo de Estado designó este lunes vicepresidente
del Consejo de Ministros al titular de la cartera de Gobierno, Ricardo
Cabrisas, informó una escueta nota oficial.

"El Consejo de Estado a propuesta del Buró Político del Comité Central
del Partido Comunista (PCC, único) acordó promover al ministro de
Gobierno, Ricardo Cabrisas, al cargo de vicepresidente del Consejo de
Ministros", señaló la nota, divulgada por la televisión estatal.

El funcionario de 71 años se ocupará de "la atención, control y
coordinación de la labor que desarrollan los Ministerios de Comercio
Exterior y para la Inversión Extranjera y la Colaboración Económica, así
como de las actividades económicas que en esta esfera realizan otros
organismos de la administración central del Estado", añadió.

Cabrisas ocupó la cartera de Comercio Exterior entre 1980 y 2000, cuando
fue designado ministro de Gobierno. Además, fue miembro del Comité
Central del PCC hasta su V Congreso, en octubre de 1997, y diputado a la
Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular de 1976 a 1993.

Médico de profesión, Cabrisas fue embajador de Cuba en Japón en la
década de los años setenta.