Monday, July 28, 2008

Cubans Hear Nothing Radical In Raul Castro Speech

Cubans Hear Nothing Radical In Raul Castro Speech
by Jason Beaubien
Jason Beaubien/NPR

"Here, there's only one line. There's no change. Here we have one
revolutionary life. There's no change."

Eduardo, a Cuban in the audience for Raul Castro's speech

Weekend Edition Sunday, July 27, 2008 ·

Cuban President Raul Castro led the celebrations Saturday night to mark
the 55th anniversary of the revolution that brought his brother Fidel to
power. But he urged a crowd in Santiago to remain patient when it comes
to reforms. And he offered no major new initiatives.

About 10,000 Cubans chanting "Fidel" filed into rows of blue plastic
chairs for Raul Castro's speech at the Moncada military barracks.

Almost every member of the audience had a small, single-starred Cuban
flag in one hand and a black and red 26th of July flag in the other.

This was Raul Castro's first 26th of July speech since officially taking
over as president in February. But he has been in charge of the
government since July 2006, when his brother fell ill.

Recently Raul Castro has lifted bans on some consumer goods, including
cell phones. He's also proposed letting farmers cultivate fallow
state-owned land essentially as private entrepreneurs.

Before the speech, many people here said they thought he might use this
address to open Cuba's economy and society even further. But he didn't.

His biggest announcement was a prediction that an aqueduct renovation to
provide water every day to Santiago should be completed by 2010.
Residents there complain that the water is often out for days and even
weeks on end.

Earlier this month, Raul Castro suggested that workers might no longer
be paid equally. He said that socialism means equality of rights but not
necessarily equality of income. But in Saturday's address, he tempered

"We are aware of the huge quantity of problems left to solve," he said.
"and most of these problems affect the population directly."

Cuba, which used to be the world's largest sugar exporter, is facing a
crisis in agriculture. It is now heavily dependent on U.S. food imports,
which have been exempted from Washington's long-standing embargo.

Cuba's infrastructure is crumbling. Raul Castro said the government has
plans to rebuild roads, pipelines, houses and railways. But he didn't
address whether Cubans might be allowed to freely leave the country or
whether they can buy and sell houses. He avoided mentioning the dilemma
of Cuba's dual-currency which often forces people to buy necessities in
a currency they're not allowed to earn.

Raul Castro spoke in front of a giant banner of his brother. In the
photo, Fidel Castro thrusts his fist triumphantly in the air.

"Long live the revolution," Raul Castro said, concluding the speech.
"Long live Free Cuba."

Cuba can be a dangerous place for people to talk to reporters.
Dissidents can lose their jobs or even get sent to jail. Earlier in the
day someone in declining to be interviewed said that only "drunks,
children and fools" would be quoted in the foreign press.

After the event, a man who gave his name as Eduardo praised the speech
as very patriotic. He dismissed the idea that Raul is trying to change
Cuba and said Raul Castro's presidency is an extension of Fidel's
glorious revolution.

"Here, there's only one line. There's no change," Eduardo said. "Here we
have one revolutionary life. There's no change."

And in this speech ... by not offering any radical policy shifts or
significant new plans ... Raul Castro suggested that as president, if he
does offer more changes, they're going to be gradual.

Raul Castro warns Cubans to prepare for economic downturn

Raul Castro warns Cubans to prepare for economic downturn

Cubans have been warned to prepare for tough times ahead as the island
becomes the latest victim of the global economic downturn.
By Fiona Govan
Last Updated: 3:06PM BST 27 Jul 2008

President Raul Castro on Saturday used a speech to mark the 55th
anniversary of the communist uprising to warn that rising fuel and food
prices would take their toll on the nation.

"We must bear in mind that we are living in the midst of a true world
crisis which is not only economic but also related to climate change,
the irrational use of energy and a great number of other problems," he said.

Mr Castro, 77, who officially took over from his ailing older brother,
Fidel, in February, had been expected to use the speech on Cuba's
national holiday to announce changes to economic policy but instead
chose to prepare his people for difficulties ahead.

"Regardless of our great wishes to solve every problem, we cannot spend
in excess of what we have," he told a ten thousand strong crowd in the
Caribbean island's second city Santiago de Cuba.

But he said the country would continue to build its defences against any
threatened invasion by the US.

"Preparations to defend the country are going well," said Mr Castro, who
is the nation's top ranking general and was minister of the armed forces
for nearly 50 years.

"We shall continue paying special attention to defence, regardless of
the results of the next presidential elections in the United States," he

The Rebellion Day celebrations two years ago were the last public event
at which Fidel Castro, 81, was seen before he underwent emergency
intestinal surgery from which he has never fully recovered.

Since taking over, the younger Castro has eased restrictions and vowed
to change the egalitarian wage system, but opponents to the regime
dismiss the reforms as "cosmetic".

Cuba hopes to enjoy more fruits of its own labor

Cuba hopes to enjoy more fruits of its own labor

A campaign to reduce the country's dependence on imported food is
encouraging Cubans to grow their own.
By CAROL J. WILLIAMS, Los Angeles Times

Speckled chickens in Geraldo Pinera's garden will be on his family's
dinner table soon, stewed with herbs and tomatoes and garnished with
creamy slices of the avocados now ripening on a pair of spindly trees.

Pinera, a member of a 25-family farming cooperative in this village
outside Havana, tends a private half-acre plot tucked between the
state-owned mango orchards where he works a day job. He raises guava,
passion fruit, sweet potatoes and poultry to augment a $20 monthly
income and the government ration of starches.

Like other Cuban families, the Pineras are eating more fruits and
vegetables as a result of a national campaign to boost food output and
curb costly imports. Their efforts represent a small but significant
step toward the government's goal to vastly reduce its dependence on
more efficient foreign producers, especially for favorite foods such as
rice, meat and dairy.

President Raul Castro spurred the planting of idle lands around cities
with a series of reforms in recent months aimed at improving
self-sufficiency. The moves included making land available free to those
willing to till it and easing a strangling national bureaucracy that
once controlled a farmer's every step, from seed procurement to sales price.

Castro has unleashed an ambitious effort to lift output of high-ticket
items, raising prices paid to meat and milk producers and freeing
growers from obligations to sell their food to the state.

He has made seeds, tools and fertilizers available through a new network
of country stores and challenged a population that is 80 percent urban
to grow what it eats.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Castro silent on hoped-for reforms

Castro silent on hoped-for reforms
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2008
Source: PA News

President Raul Castro has warned Washington that Cuba will stay focused
on defence regardless of who wins November's presidential election.

But he failed to announce more changes to the Communist system during a
major address.

Mr Castro, a four-star general, instead highlighted the past as he spoke
to thousands of cheering supporters in front of the Moncada military
complex, where rebels led by his brother Fidel launched an attack 55
years ago and planted the seeds for the 1959 Cuban revolution.

Florida Travel Agents Fight Higher Bond on Cuba Trips

Florida Travel Agents Fight Higher Bond on Cuba Trips
Published: July 27, 2008

MIAMI — Teresa Aral, a travel agent in South Florida, was greatly
relieved after learning she did not have to pay the state a quarter of a
million dollars to keep booking trips to Cuba. For now, at least.

Ms. Aral, along with 15 other agents providing charter flights to Cuba,
filed a lawsuit in Miami against the State of Florida, challenging a new
law requiring them to post a one-time $250,000 bond and disclose the
names of clients in order to continue their business with Cuba. But
earlier this month, a federal judge temporarily lifted the measure while
he considered its legality.

"I'm very grateful that at least the judicial branch of government here
is still working," Ms. Aral said after the ruling.

Cuban-Americans are allowed to visit the island every three years and
must obtain visas through the federal government.

Despite the recent ruling, the legal battle between the travel agents
and Florida lawmakers over the cost of doing business with the Raúl
Castro-run government, which controls all aspects of commercial air
travel into Cuba, is far from over.

Before the measure was signed into law in June by Gov. Charlie Crist, a
Republican, all travel agencies were required to pay the state a
one-time $25,000 bond.

State Representative David Rivera, a Republican from Miami and a
Cuban-American, who sponsored the bill, said the travel agents providing
Cuba trips should post a larger bond to cover the cost of "reasonable
oversight" of those doing business with a "terrorist government."

Mr. Rivera said the law was an "antiterrorism bill" that requires any
Florida travel agent who provides direct flights to any country on the
State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism to pay the bond.
Since there are no direct flights from Miami to any other countries on
the list critics say the law was intended to regulate travel to Cuba.

Mr. Rivera said the bond would be used to investigate any agency accused
of violating the law regulating travel to Cuba, though the legislation
does not specify what constitutes a violation.

Mr. Rivera said the law was designed to protect customers from price
gouging and "unscrupulous travel agents."

"Every business in Florida is regulated," Mr. Rivera said after the July
1 decision by the judge, Alan S. Gold of Federal District Court. "So
travel agents that deal with terrorist governments don't deserve an
exemption from the regulations." The case is to return to court in

Ira Kurzban, a lawyer for the travel agents who brought the suit, said
the law was more about Florida politicking rather than protecting consumers.

"This law was conceived for no reason other than to placate a small
group of Cuban-Americans out of step with the Cuban community," said Mr.
Kurzban, who also said it was unconstitutional and "attempts to embroil
the State of Florida in foreign policy."

Some legal experts agree, saying the law oversteps the bounds of state

"States simply can't decide they want to have their own foreign policy,"
said Bernard H. Oxman, an international law professor at the University
of Miami.

Erik Miller, the lawyer for the Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services, which regulates the state's travel agencies, said at
the court hearing that the law "does not invade the province of federal

"There's not interference with foreign affairs," Mr. Miller said. "It
only regulates in-state transactions."

Cuban leader warns of austerity

Cuban leader warns of austerity

Cuban President Raul Castro has warned that Cubans must be prepared for
the consequences of the current global economic crisis.

He said that developing countries had already felt the effects of rising
fuel and food prices.

The speech was part of the celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of
the beginning of the communist revolution.

President Castro had been expected to announce new economic policies,
but in the event did not do so.

He has already introduced significant changes in the country since
succeeding his ailing brother, Fidel, in February.

The president recently announced a move to allow some private farming
and relaxed limits on mobile phones and computers.

'Excessive prohibitions'

Speaking for 48 minutes, President Castro warned the crowds that the
economic austerity suffered in recent years would not be helped by
increases in world food prices.

"The revolution has done and will continue to do whatever is possible to
continue to advance and reduce to the bare minimum the inevitable
consequences of international crises to our people," he said.

"But we must explain to our people the difficulties and thus prepare
them to deal with them."

Raul Castro also had a message for Cuba's ideological enemy, the United

"We shall continue paying special attention to defence, regardless of
the results of the next presidential elections in the United States,"
said the president.

Since taking over from his elder brother, Raul Castro has made available
more unused state land to private farmers, eased restrictions on mobile
phones for ordinary citizens and allowed some workers to seek legal
titles for their homes.

February - signs two human rights agreements at the UN
March - lifts ban on Cubans staying in tourist hotels
May - lifts ban on private ownership of mobile phones
June - announces plans to abandon salary equality
July - decrees state-controlled farm land can be leased to private
farmers and co-operatives

He has also signed UN human rights accords and announced that workers
can earn productivity bonuses, doing away with the egalitarian concept
that everyone must earn the same.

Mr Castro delivered his speech to a crowd of some 10,000 people at the
parade grounds of Santiago's historic Moncada army barracks, where he
and his brother led a fruitless rebel assault exactly 55 years ago.

Both men were jailed for the attack, but did of course eventually go on
to seize power from the then Cuban leader, Fulgencio Batista, on 1
January 1959.

"When we attacked the Moncada, none of us dreamed of being here today,"
the president told the crowd.

The Rebellion Day celebrations two years ago were the last public event
at which Fidel Castro was seen before he underwent emergency intestinal
surgery. He has since appeared only in official videos and photographs.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/27 02:38:52 GMT

Raul Castro fails to announce reforms in Cuba

Raul Castro fails to announce reforms in Cuba
Posted on Sun, Jul. 27, 2008
Associated Press Writer

President Raul Castro warned Washington that Cuba would keep its
defenses up no matter who wins November's U.S. presidential election,
but failed to announce any new changes to the communist system during a
speech Saturday.

In a 48-minute Revolution Day address, Castro also told Cubans to
prepare for tough times ahead as rising oil and commodity prices take a
toll on the island's economy.

Amid anticipation that he would use the speech to unveil fresh reforms,
Castro instead focused on the past as he spoke to thousands of
supporters in front of the Moncada military complex, where a band of
rebels led by he and his brother Fidel launched an attack 55 years ago,
planting the seeds for the 1959 Cuban revolution.

"When we attacked the Moncada, none of us dreamed of being here today,"
Castro said in Santiago, 535 miles southeast of Havana, the de-facto
capital of the island's eastern half.

He warned of more economic austerity for the already poor island and
commanded Communist Party leaders to fulfill the promises they make to
the Cuban people.

"Regardless of our great wishes to solve every problem, we cannot spend
in excess of what we have," Castro said.

And he vowed that Cuba would remain prepared for any potential U.S.
attack regardless of who wins the U.S. presidential vote, which pits
Barack Obama against Sen. John McCain.

"We shall continue paying special attention to defense, regardless of
the results of the next presidential elections in the United States,"
Raul said.

Perhaps showing his age, the 77-year-old president ended the speech by
mistakenly dedicating the 59th anniversary of the Moncada attack to his
brother, Fidel. He then laughed at himself, noting that this year
actually marked the 55th anniversary of the event.

It was at a commemoration of this anniversary two years ago that Fidel
Castro was last seen in public. He underwent emergency intestinal
surgery five days later and has only appeared in official videos and
photographs since.

The Moncada attack was a disaster, with many assailants killed and most
of the rest captured. But it launched a movement that brought Fidel
Castro to power when President Fulgencio Batista fled the country.

Since taking office five months ago, Raul Castro has made changes his
older brother eschewed - opening more unused state land to private
farmers, legalizing cell phones for ordinary citizens and allowing some
workers to seek legal title to their homes.

Some Cubans hoped he would use the speech to ease restrictions on
international travel or announce other incremental reforms, but none came.

While both Castro brothers were born in Cuba's east, Raul, five years
younger that Fidel, seems happiest there.

"Raul is a man of the people and Santiago is full of his people," said
Elizabeth Trumpeta, 42, an administrator at a government shoe repair
shop. "He can go to Havana, live and work there, but he has Santiago in
his heart."

Yet Fidel Castro - not Raul - is featured on Revolution Day posters
affixed to houses and businesses across Santiago. With a broad grin, he
hoists a rifle skyward before a picture of the Moncada barracks, now a
museum attracting more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Some Cubans say their hopes for change under the new government are fading.

"There are a lot of people on the street who talk about change, but we
haven't had even one economic or political reform that counts, nothing
we hoped for with Raul," said Oswaldo, a 69-year-old retired
construction worker. He declined to give his last name, saying, "Being
able to openly criticize things is something else we can only hope for."

U.S.-Cuba tourism could shake up region

U.S.-Cuba tourism could shake up region
Posted on Sun, Jul. 27, 2008

For years, I have thought that Mexico and most Caribbean countries want
Cuba to remain a dictatorship subject to U.S. travel sanctions for as
long as possible, because an eventual opening of U.S. travel to Cuba
would badly hurt their own tourism industries.

But now, I'm beginning to wonder whether that's true for all of Cuba's

After reading a new study by the International Monetary Fund, I can't
help but conclude that Mexico would stand a lot to lose by an opening of
U.S. tourism to Cuba, but many Caribbean islands would not suffer at
all. On the contrary, the study says overall tourism to the Caribbean
would increase by up to 11 percent.

The study, ''Vacation Over: Implications for the Caribbean of Opening
U.S. Cuban Tourism,'' was published by the IMF as a ''working paper'' by
its economist, Rafael Romeu.

It comes at a time when an opening of U.S. travel to Cuba looks
increasingly plausible in the near future. Democratic U.S. presidential
candidate Barack Obama is vowing to relax U.S. travel restrictions on
Cuban Americans if he is elected. And, independently of U.S. policy,
Cuba's ruling gerontocracy is not likely to be able to maintain the
status quo for many years -- if anything else because President Raúl
Castro is 76, and his No. 2, José Ramón Machado Ventura, is 77.

According to the IMF study, ''an opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism would
represent a seismic shift in the Caribbean's tourism industry,'' and
would ``increase overall arrivals to the Caribbean.''

This is because there would be a massive surge in U.S. tourism to Cuba,
which would overwhelm Cuba's hotel room capacity and drive Canadian and
European tourism currently vacationing in Cuba to be redirected to
neighboring countries.

As a result, ''the region would enjoy a period of sustained demand,'' it
says. ``In the wake of this change, some countries would potentially
stand to lose U.S. tourists but would gain new non-U.S. tourists.''

Currently, the biggest tourism destinations in the Caribbean, in
addition to Puerto Rico, are the Dominican Republic, with 2.2 million
foreign visitors a year; Mexico's resort of Cancún, with nearly 2
million tourists; the Bahamas, with 1.4 million tourists; Cuba, with 1.3
million, and Jamaica, with 1.2 million. The figures reflect annual
arrivals between 2000 and 2004, and have since gone up somewhat, Romeu says.

But an opening of U.S. tourism to Cuba would shake this mix immediately,
because an estimated 3 million to 3.5 million American tourists would
flock to Cuba, the study says.

Much of it would be because traveling to Cuba -- in addition to being a
novelty -- would become substantially cheaper. Currently, the cost of
traveling from the U.S. to Cuba for Cuban Americans and others exempted
from travel restrictions is equivalent to that of traveling to Australia.

According to the study, there would be winners and losers from an
opening of U.S. tourism to Cuba:

• Mexico's resort of Cancún, which relies heavily on U.S. tourists,
would be a net loser. It would lose 614,000 American tourists, while it
would gain only 93,000 non-U.S. tourists.

• The Bahamas, which also relies heavily on U.S. tourists, would lose
499,000 U.S. tourists, while gaining 36,000 non-U.S. tourists.

• The Dominican Republic, which has a highly diversified tourism base,
would be a net winner. It would lose 318,000 American tourists, while
gaining nearly 400,000 non-U.S. tourists.

• Smaller islands such as Martinique, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda,
Barbados and other countries with strong ties to European countries
would also be net winners. Barbados, for instance, would lose 48,000
American tourists, but would win 64,000 non U.S, tourists.

''It won't be a disaster for many countries, because many of them will
more than offset the loss of U.S. tourists with a greater influx of
European and Canadian tourists, with whose countries they have age-old
cultural ties,'' Romeu told me in an interview.

My opinion: Interesting stuff. I don't know whether Mexico -- the
biggest loser in an eventual opening of U.S. tourism to Cuba -- is
currently cozying up with Cuba's dictatorship because it wants to
maintain the status quo for as long as possible.

But I wouldn't be surprised if there is a link between tourism and
politics in the Caribbean -- which would explain a lot of things that
sometimes seem hard to understand.

Be ready for tough times, Raul Castro tells Cuba

Be ready for tough times, Raul Castro tells Cuba
By Ray Sanchez | Havana Bureau
9:25 PM EDT, July 26, 2008

SANTIAGO DE CUBA - Returning to the birthplace of the Cuban revolution
for the island's biggest political event, President Raul Castro Saturday
night prepared Cubans for tough times ahead.

"As much as we desire to resolve all of our problems, we can't spend
more than we have," Castro said under a slight drizzle on a humid night.
"To make the best of what we have, it is indispensable to save on
everything, most importantly fuel."

Castro, 77, only the second president of Cuba in the past half century,
in the past year has taken modest steps away from the strict communist
line followed by brother Fidel, the once-all-powerful leader who ruled
the island since 1959.

But his 48-minute speech Saturday offered few hints of where he intended
to take the country. He focused instead on local aqueduct and road
repair projects as well as the past achievements of the revolution.

"We must bear in mind that we are living in the midst of a true world
crisis which is not only economic but also associated with climate
change, the irrational use of energy and a great number of other
problems," he said.

Castro said the passage of time since the revolution had taught Cubans
to learn from the past.

"We must take advantage of every minute and learn fast from every
experience, even from our mistakes," he said.

Wearing his trademark eyeglasses and military uniform, Castro announced
that Santiago would be the site of festivities marking the 50th
anniversary of the Cuban revolution next January.

And in an appeal to hard-line party leaders, the former defense minister
said Cuba would continue to build up its military "regardless of the
outcome of the next presidential election in the United States."

The holiday commemorates the July 26, 1953, attack on the Moncada
barracks in the southeastern city of Santiago. The attack by the Castro
brothers and a ragtag group of guerrillas failed but was the beginning
of the revolution that eventually ousted Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

To chants of "Viva Fidel! Viva Raul!" Castro took the podium before the
hulking army barracks, now a school. Thousands of flag-waving,
red-shirt-clad Communist Party loyalists began chanting Fidel's name an
hour before the event.

Saturday, the yellow-and-white building was draped with a giant Cuban
flag and the image of the 81-year-old Fidel Castro, who stepped down in
2006 after surgery for a mysterious intestinal illness.

The younger Castro took over provisionally for Fidel in July 2006. Since
taking power officially last February, he has sought to put his own
stamp on the country.

In recent months, he has allowed Cubans with enough money to buy cell
phones and computers, which had previously been restricted. He has
allowed them to rent cars and visit tourist hotels. He also has taken
the limits off state salaries, allowing for productivity bonuses.

In one of his more significant reforms, Raul Castro has opened more
unused state land to private farmers in an attempt to reduce food
imports and revive the sluggish agricultural sector. Though he hinted at
"structural" reforms last July 26, those changes have yet to materialize.

Cubans have mostly embraced the modest changes even as they complained
that giving them access to consumer items did little to boost state
salaries, which average about $20 a month.

"We need to change in order to advance," said Manuel Segarra, 68, a
retired telephone company worker seated a few rows from the podium where
Castro spoke. "I feel reborn and very proud be here, where our
revolution started."

After the speech, Migdalia Wilson, a 31-year-old social worker, said
Castro's message was clear. "We need to conserve and get ready for hard
times," she said. "But that will make us stronger."

This year's festivities coincided with carnival in Santiago, where
thousands of residents party late into the night. One partygoer, Eusebio
Ramirez, 40, said most Cubans had little reason to celebrate.

"Every year things get worse," he said. "The government needs to turn
this around quickly. People are fed up."

Castro has disappointed some Cubans who had expected significant changes
once he took power. He has always deferred to his brother and appears
reluctant or unable to take major actions until Fidel dies, analysts said.

A larger-than-life figure, Fidel Castro wields great influence. But it
is equally clear that Cubans have prepared themselves emotionally for
life without him.

While Raul moves toward consolidating his rule, some sectors of the
Cuba's leadership appear reluctant to roll back the elder Castro's
decision in 2003 to centralize the economy again and restrict the
small-scale private enterprises that emerged in the 1990s after the fall
of the Soviet Union.

In 2006, Fidel Castro led thousands of party faithful in cheers to
celebrate the Moncada attack. It was the last time he was seen in public.

Ray Sanchez can be reached at,0,6742116.story

El rol del turismo en la política hacia Cuba

Publicado el domingo 27 de julio del 2008

El rol del turismo en la política hacia Cuba

Durante años he creído que México y la mayoría de los países del Caribe
no tienen el menor apuro en que Cuba deje de ser una dictadura, ni en
que Estados Unidos levante sus sanciones a los viajes a la isla, porque
una eventual apertura del turismo de Estados Unidos a Cuba podría
significarles una pérdida de millones de turistas estadounidenses.

Sin embargo, después de leer un nuevo estudio del Fondo Monetario
Internacional sobre que ocurrirá el día en que Estados Unidos levante
sus prohibiciones a los viajes a Cuba, estoy empezando a pensar que esta
teoría es cierta para algunos países cuyas industrias turísticas
compiten con Cuba, pero no para todos.

Según el estudio, México tendría mucho que perder en el caso de que
Estados Unidos abriera el turismo a Cuba, pero muchas islas del Caribe
no se verían afectadas en absoluto. Por el contrario, el estudio dice
que el turismo internacional hacia el resto del Caribe podría aumentar
hasta un 11 por ciento.

El estudio, titulado El fin de las vacaciones: implicaciones para el
Caribe de la apertura del turismo estadounidense a Cuba, fue publicado
por el FMI como un ''documento de trabajo'' de su economista Rafael Romeu.

Aparece en momentos en que una apertura de los viajes de Estados Unidos
a Cuba parece cada vez mas plausible en un futuro cercano. El candidato
presidencial demócrata Barack Obama ha prometido relajar las
restricciones de viajes a los cubano-estadounidenses en caso de resultar
electo. E independientemente de la política de Washington, es poco
probable que la gerontocracia gobernante en Cuba pueda mantener el
status quo durante muchos años, aunque más no sea porque el presidente
Raúl Castro tiene 76 años, y su segundo, Ramón Machado Ventura, tiene 77

Según el estudio del FMI, ''una apertura del turismo estadounidense a
Cuba significaría un cambio sísmico en la industria turística del
Caribe'', y ``aumentaría la totalidad de llegadas turísticas a todo el

Eso ocurriría porque habría un aumento masivo de turismo estadounidense
a Cuba, que excedería la capacidad hotelera de la isla y obligaría al
turismo canadiense y europeo que actualmente viaja a Cuba a redirigirse
a los países vecinos, que en muchos casos tienen vínculos históricos con
países europeos.

``Algunos países podrían potencialmente sufrir una disminución de turistas

estadounidenses, pero ganarían nuevos turistas no estadounidenses'',
dice el estudio.

Actualmente, los destinos más importantes del Caribe, además de Puerto
Rico, son la República Dominicana, con 2.2 millones de visitantes
extranjeros por año; el balneario mexicano de Cancún, con casi 2
millones de turistas; Bahamas, con 1.4 millones de turistas; Cuba, con
1.3 millones, y Jamaica, con 1.2 millones. Estas cifras reflejan un
promedio de los años 2000 al 2004, y desde entonces han aumentado un
poco, explica Romeu.

Pero una apertura del turismo estadounidense a Cuba sacudiría a todo el
Caribe, porque entre 3 millones y 3.5 millones de turistas
estadounidenses por año empezarían a visitar Cuba, dice el estudio. Eso
ocurriría porque --además de ser una novedad-- viajar a Cuba se volvería
sustancialmente más barato: actualmente, el costo de viajar de Estados
Unidos a Cuba para quienes están exceptuados de las restricciones de
viajes es equivalente al costo de viajar a Australia.

Según el estudio, habría ganadores y perdedores en el caso de una
apertura del turismo estadounidense a Cuba:

• Cancún, cuya principal fuente de turismo es Estados Unidos, sería uno
de los grandes perdedores. Perdería 614,000 turistas estadounidenses por
año, y ganaría tan solo 93,000 turistas no estadounidenses.

• Las Bahamas, que también dependenen gran medida de turistas
estadounidenses, perdería 499,000 turistas estadounidenses, y ganaría
apenas 36,000 turistas no estadounidenses.

• La República Dominicana, cuyo turismo está más diversificado y recibe
a gran cantidad de visitantes europeos, sería netamente una ganadora.
Perdería 318,000 turistas estadounidenses, y ganaría casi 400,000
turistas no estadounidenses.

• Las islas mas pequeñas como Martinica, Montserrat, Antigua y Barbuda,
Barbados y otros países con fuertes

vínculos con Europa también resultarían ganadores. Barbados, por
ejemplo, perdería 48,000 turistas estadounidenses, pero ganaría 64,000
no estadounidenses.

''Para muchos países, la apertura del turismo a Cuba no será un
desastre, porque muchos de ellos compensarán sobradamente la pérdida de
turistas estadounidenses con un mayor flujo de turistas canadienses y
europeos'', me dijo Romeu en una entrevista. ''Muchos de estos países
tienen vínculos ancestrales con Europa, y podrán hacer crecer ese
mercado'', agregó.

Mi opinión: Todo esto es muy interesante. No podría asegurar que México
--el mayor perdedor en el caso de una apertura del turismo
estadounidense a Cuba-- está abandonando su política exterior reciente
de defensa a los derechos humanos y acercándose a la dictadura Cubana
para que esta sobreviva el mayor tiempo posible, y no se perjudique el
turismo estadounidense a ese país. Pero no me sorprendería que existiera
un nexo entre el turismo y la política en el Caribe: eso ayudaría a
explicar muchas cosas que son dificiles de entender.

Una no celebración en Cuba

Una no celebración en Cuba

Lo que se festejó ayer fue un régimen que ya ha tenido que reconocer su

A menos que haya una real reforma, las contradicciones seguirán acumulándose

Fue una celebración muy extraña, que revela las enormes contradicciones
que enfrenta la dictadura cubana:

Cumpliendo con uno de los principales rituales del régimen, el
gobernante Raúl Castro festejó ayer en Santiago de Cuba, segunda ciudad
de la Isla, los 55 años del ataque al cuartel Moncada, considerado
oficialmente como el inicio del movimiento armado que, seis años
después, llevó al poder a su hermano Fidel. Hasta aquí, nada se aparta
de los guiones usuales. Las dictaduras son pródigas en fabricar
simbologías, y la de los hermanos Castro ha seguido esa línea con
empecinada insistencia.

Lo paradójico fue que las alabanzas a la revolución y el socialismo se
produjeron en momentos cuando, precisamente, el nuevo gobernante se
empeña en desmontar una parte de sus peores vicios, no porque esté
convencido de que Cuba necesita una verdadera reforma, sino porque ha
reconocido el rotundo fracaso del modelo y la imperiosa necesidad de
modificarlo, al menos en lo más paralizante e ineficiente, para permitir
que algo se mantenga a flote; sobre todo, el control del grupo que lo rodea.

Es decir, los cubanos fueron congregados para festejar un fracaso, pero
pretendiendo que se trata de un éxito, difícil posición para alguien
que, como Raúl Castro, desde que fue confirmado en su cargo de
presidente ha debido caminar por una precaria línea entre el cambio
inevitable para la supervivencia y los controles necesarios para
mantener el mando.

Hasta ahora, este curso de acción ha implicado algunos alivios a la
población en aspectos simbólicos, pero no ha sido capaz de afrontar con
éxito los grandes desafíos económicos, sociales y políticos.

Un primer conjunto de medidas ha estado orientado a abrir mayores
posibilidades de consumo a los cubanos, como comprar teléfonos celulares
y reproductores de vídeo, o entrar a hoteles antes solo para
extranjeros. Sin embargo, para ejercer tal derecho, hay que pagar en los
llamados "pesos convertibles", a los que solo tienen acceso quienes
reciben divisas del exterior; es decir, un grupo privilegiado. Así, la
medida, aunque ha aliviado presión en un segmento de la sociedad, ha
hecho más visible la desigualdad que existe en la Isla.

Para comenzar a romper en sus raíces tal problema, se necesita una
profunda reforma económica. Castro, sin embargo, solo ha optado por
autorizar el ejercicio independiente de algunos oficios y concesionar
tierras estatales a los campesinos, no con el propósito de modificar la
estructura productiva, sino de mejorar el suministro de alimentos. En la
actualidad, más del 50% de las tierras cultivables de la Isla están
cubiertas de maleza, y prácticamente la totalidad de los granos, así
como muchos otros productos agrícolas, deben importarse. La presión que
esto pone sobre las escuálidas arcas del régimen es cada vez menos
sostenible, y el espectro de inmanejables desabastecimientos está entre
las mayores preocupaciones del régimen.

También Raúl Castro ha comenzado a introducir diferencias en salarios,
según actividades y rendimientos, luego de reconocer, contrariamente al
discurso oficial anterior, que la "igualdad" es imposible en el
socialismo. Sin embargo, el cambio ha sido tan limitado, la estructura
en que se da es tan rígida y los recursos para aplicarlo son tan magros,
que ha impactado muy poco en el bienestar de la gente, sobre todo cuando
los precios de todos los artículos han comenzado a subir.

La contradictoria celebración de ayer, por esto, es un símbolo de las
muchas otras contradicciones que enfrenta el régimen, y de las cuales
difícilmente podrá salir a menos que se decida, de una vez por todas, a
una verdadera reforma. Hasta ahora, sin embargo, las señales también son

Castro advierte a cubanos que deben ahorrar en todo


Castro advierte a cubanos que deben ahorrar en todo

El presidente Raúl Castro dijo ayer a los cubanos que ahorren en todo,
especialmente combustible, y afirmó que "todavía nos faltan muchas cosas
que quisiéramos pudiera disfrutar nuestro pueblo".

Fachada del ex cuartel de La Moncada, adornada para las celebraciones
del aniversario del que fuera el primer intento, fallido, del grupo de
Fidel Castro de tomar el poder. (AFP).

SANTIAGO DE CUBA. (ANSA, AFP, EFE). "Por muy grandes que sean nuestros
deseos de resolver cada problema, no podemos gastar más de lo que
tenemos. Y para sacarle máximo provecho es imprescindible ahorrar en
todo, en primer lugar combustible", dijo en su discurso pronunciado con
motivo de la Fiesta de la Revolución en el cuartel Moncada de Santiago
de Cuba.

El plan de producción de petróleo, afirmó el presidente, "se va
cumpliendo, aunque como es sabido está aún lejos de satisfacer nuestras

"La Revolución ha hecho y continuará haciendo cuanto esté a su alcance
para seguir avanzando y reducir al mínimo las inevitables consecuencias
de la actual crisis internacional para la población -precisó-. No
obstante, debemos explicar oportunamente a nuestro pueblo las
dificultades y así poder prepararnos para enfrentarlas".


El gobernante Raúl Castro afirmó que Cuba continuará preparando su
defensa militar independientemente del resultado de las elecciones
presidenciales en Estados Unidos, en noviembre próximo.

"La defensa continuará sin descuidarse independientemente de los
resultados de las elecciones presidenciales en los Estados Unidos", dijo
Raúl Castro

En un discurso de 48 minutos, Raúl Castro anunció que precisamente en
noviembre, mes de las elecciones en Estados Unidos, Cuba desarrollará
"con la máxima calidad y rigor" el ejercicio estratégico 'Bastión-2008'".


Además, habló de la reforma del sistema de la seguridad social por la
que se aumentará en cinco años la edad mínima de jubilación, plan que
comenzará a aplicarse a partir de 2009 y concluirá en 2015.

"Algunas opiniones recogidas respecto al anteproyecto de ley de
seguridad social demuestran que es necesario continuar informando sobre
este asunto de importancia estratégica", dijo Raúl Castro.

Esto puede tomarse como una muestra del descontento por tal medida, una
entre otras, como la paga por producción y la eliminación de varios

Raúl Castro pide a los cubanos no acostumbrarse a recibir noticias buenas

Raúl Castro pide a los cubanos no acostumbrarse a recibir noticias buenas
26 de Julio de 2008, 11:50pm ET
Antonio Martínez

Santiago de Cuba, 26 jul (EFE).- El presidente Raúl Castro pidió hoy a
los cubanos que no se acostumbren a recibir solo noticias buenas, pintó
un sombrío panorama mundial que impacta en la isla, no anunció nuevas
reformas y dijo que la defensa militar se mantendrá al margen del
resultado electoral estadounidense.

Con su uniforme de general, el mandatario pronunció un discurso de 50
minutos en Santiago de Cuba, en el 55 aniversario del comienzo de la
revolución, ante unos 10.000 santiagueros a los que prometió la solución
a todos los problemas de agua potable diaria para el 2010.

Citó con frecuencia a su convaleciente hermano Fidel Castro, de 81 años,
que gobernó Cuba por casi medio siglo hasta febrero pasado y no aparece
en público desde esta misma fecha de 2006 por una enfermedad intestinal.

En especial, mencionó un discurso de hace 35 años, cuando el entonces
presidente advirtió que los objetivos materiales del pueblo "no pueden
ser muy ambiciosos", lo cual sigue vigente, según el actual mandatario.

Reiteró que la revolución cubana es "socialista" y que él no traicionará
jamás a los mártires de la revolución.

"Somos conscientes de la gran cantidad de problemas que aún quedan por
resolver, la mayoría de los cuales afectan de manera directa a la
población", afirmó el general, y advirtió que "hay que acostumbrarse a
no solo recibir buenas noticias".

Raúl Castro insistió en la necesidad de que los cubanos sean eficientes
y ahorren, sobre todo en combustibles.

"Junto a la producción, la defensa continuará sin descuidarse,
independientemente de los resultados en las elecciones presidenciales en
los Estados Unidos", dijo también el presidente.

"Los problemas y tareas fundamentales los seguiremos analizando con el
pueblo, en particular con los trabajadores, con la misma confianza y
claridad de siempre. Así buscaremos las mejores soluciones, sin
preocuparnos por quienes en el exterior intentan sacar partido de esos
debates", agregó.

Citó obras de acueductos y trasvases, opinó que "las guerras del mañana
serán motivadas por la conquista de las reservas de agua", como las de
ahora las causa el petróleo.

"Estamos en medio de una verdadera crisis mundial que no es solo
económica -aseguró-; se asocia también al cambio climático, el empleo
irracional de la energía y a crecientes problemas de todo tipo. Es una
situación que impacta a todas las naciones y de manera particularmente
dramática a los pueblos del Tercer Mundo".

Criticó Raúl Castro a los dirigentes de países ricos y a las grandes
trasnacionales, que "permanecen inactivos" ante la crisis mundial, en
"una actitud no solo egoísta e irresponsable, sino además suicida, pues
quieran o no, todos vivimos en este pequeño planeta".

De las reformas que ha impulsado, citó la distribución de tierras
ociosas y el pago a maestros jubilados para que regresen las aulas, pero
no medidas nuevas que muchos cubanos esperaban.

Anunció una recuperación del turismo, que ha crecido 14,8 por ciento
entre enero y junio de 2008, respecto al mismo periodo de 2007 (más de
1,3 millones de visitantes extranjeros en el primer semestre de este año).

Fue el primer discurso como presidente de Raúl Castro en la máxima
fiesta cubana, el 55 aniversario del asalto al cuartel Moncada, dos años
después de que su hermano apareciera por última vez en público, en la
misma celebración.

El general ya presidió en 2007 los actos del 26 de julio, pero entonces
como jefe de Estado interino, y en aquella ocasión admitió que Cuba
necesita cambios estructurales.

Muchos cubanos esperaban anuncios de otras reformas que alivien sus
penurias de alimentación y transporte, que les permitan viajar
libremente, comprar vehículos y viviendas, o que el dinero con que les
pagan tenga más valor adquisitivo.

La mayoría de los santiagueros consultados por Efe, incluidos muchos que
se declaran orgullosamente revolucionarios, esperan que haya más
reformas y liberalizaciones.

Pero Raúl Castro, en sus últimos mensajes, ha enfriado las expectativas
y ha pedido a sus compatriotas que hagan más sacrificios, que trabajen y
produzcan más, porque los retos de Cuba son "grandes y difíciles". EFE


Raúl Castro advierte a cubanos sobre tiempos duros de ajuste económico

Raúl Castro advierte a cubanos sobre tiempos duros de ajuste económico
Hace 17 horas

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba (AFP) — El gobernante de Cuba, Raúl Castro,
advirtió este sábado a los cubanos que deben prepararse para tiempos
duros de ajuste económico, en el acto central por el 55 aniversario del
ataque al cuartel Moncada, la principal fiesta oficial.

Bajo una enorme foto de su hermano Fidel Castro, enfermo desde hace dos
años, Raúl, de 77 años, dijo desde la tribuna que la crisis
internacional deberá llevar a un mayor ahorro, más trabajo y mayor
eficiencia en la producción de alimentos.

"Todavía nos faltan muchas cosas, muchas que quisiéramos pudiera
disfrutar nuestro pueblo (...) pero por muy grandes que sean nuestros
deseos de resolver cada problema, no podemos gastar más de lo que
tenemos", dijo en el polígono del cuartel Moncada -hoy ciudad escolar-
ante 10.000 invitados.

Al mando de Cuba desde hace dos años, primero de forma interina y desde
febrero como presidente designado, Raúl aseguró que "para sacarle máximo
provecho" a los recursos disponibles "es imprescindible ahorrar de
todo", sobre todo en combustible, debido a la crisis mundial del petróleo.

"No aspiramos a la unanimidad que suele resultar ficticia. Debemos
explicar oportunamente a nuestro pueblo las dificultades y así poder
prepararnos para enfrentarlas. Hay que acostumbrarse a no sólo recibir
buenas noticias", destacó.

Su discurso, de 48 minutos y transmitido en vivo para toda la isla,
siguió la tónica del discurso del 11 de julio que pronunció ante el
Parlamento, cuando advirtió que la situación impide aumentar los
salarios, lo que bajó las expectativas de los cubanos.

"Raúl siempre llama las cosas por su nombre y nunca promete lo que no
puede cumplir", dijo Alexander Despaigne, un estudiante de 20 años que
participó en el acto, a la AFP.

Vestido de uniforme verde oliva, Raúl Castro, que en tres ocasiones
ofreció diálogo a Washington, dijo este sábado que "la defensa
continuará sin descuidarse independientemente de los resultados de las
elecciones presidenciales en Estados Unidos", en noviembre próximo.

El gobernante anunció también que Santiago de Cuba será, el 1 de enero
de 2009, la sede de los actos por el 50 aniversario de la revolución
cubana, y dedicó la celebración de este sábado a su hermano.

Raúl Castro, que hace un año anunció "cambios estructurales" en la
fiesta del 26 de julio, emprendió reformas en la agricultura como la
entrega de tierras ociosas, eliminó prohibiciones que impedían a los
cubanos hospedarse en hoteles; liberó la venta de computadoras y
autorizó permisos a taxistas privados.

Pero los cubanos siguen esperando cambios de efecto inmediato y se
quejan de que los salarios (de unos 17 dólares al mes) no dan para
vivir, a pesar de tener alimentos y servicios subsidiados.

La celebración rememoró la última aparición pública de Fidel, que tras
los actos del 26 de julio de 2006 en Bayamo y Holguín fue operado de
urgencia, cinco días después cedió el mando a Raúl, y desde entonces
sólo ha sido visto en videos o fotos.

Actualmente Fidel Castro se dedica a escribir, y sus últimas imágenes
difundidas --las primeras luego de cinco meses-- fueron un video y fotos
con su hermano Raúl y el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez.

La efeméride conmemoró el asalto al cuartel Moncada, comandado por Fidel
Castro, contra la dictadura de Fulgencio Batista el 26 de julio de 1953.
El asalto, si bien fallido, desembocó en el triunfo de la revolución en

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cuba struggles for economic reform

Cuba struggles for economic reform
By Claire Bolderson
BBC News, Havana

In a small flat in a leafy neighbourhood of Havana, Juan Jacomino points
to the mismatched tiles on his living room floor.

He bought the first lot of tiles, then found he needed a few more but
when he went back to the shop, they had disappeared.

That is common he says, particularly with imported goods.

"My advice is, if you find something you need, or you think you might
need one day, buy it!" says the translator and freelance journalist.

"Don't wait till tomorrow because when you come back it won't be there
and you may never see it again."

Juan attributes the erratic supplies to the US sanctions in place for
well over 40 years.

They certainly do affect imports but when it comes to other goods,
particularly food, Cuba has also made life hard for itself.

Subsidised food

Juan took me to his state-run corner shop where there was very little on
the shelves and no fresh food to be seen at all.

In the store room at the back were sacks of rice and other staple foods
and on the counter at the front, a big blackboard listing the prices of
all the basics that Cubans get each month with their ration book.

The food is not free but it is incredibly heavily subsidised.

Juan for example, got 18lbs (8kg) of rice, 15lbs of sugar and 1lb of
salt and some spaghetti for just over five Cuban pesos - about 25 US
cents (12p).

In a country where the average monthly wage is less than $20, the ration
book is a lifeline for many Cubans.

But they have to be patient, and they have to be alert.

When fresh meat arrives, shoppers come flocking. How do they know it is

"They just know," says shopkeeper Gerardo with a laugh. "Word goes
around instantly."

Garlic rations

So why not just go to the farmers' market? Because for most Cubans the
prices in non-state shops are just too high.

One head of garlic cost 25 cents, the same as Juan's basic rations for a

Almost 50 years after the revolution, you get the feeling the
government knows it has got to deliver that little bit more

The problem is that agriculture in Cuba is very inefficient.

Only half the land that could be used to grow food in this lush tropical
island is put to use.

For years farmers have depended on the state providing everything from
fertilisers to new spades.

But the system is slow and bureaucratic; vital tools can take months to

That is why Cuba has recently introduced agricultural reforms that allow
more privately run farming.

The plan is to increase domestic output and reduce an import bill that
is going up steeply as global food prices rise.

Productivity bonuses

President Raul Castro's recent speeches suggest there is more economic
reform to come.

He is promising productivity bonuses to boost wages.

There is the real prospect that Cubans might end up getting very
different rates of pay for different work, something unheard of until now.

But do not expect the state to give up its overwhelming control over the
lives of its citizens any time soon.

There is no real concept of private ownership in Cuba.

You cannot buy and sell your home, you can only buy a car through the
government and you cannot sell it on.

It is a one-party state with no independent media. What little private
enterprise exists is strictly limited.

Cubans can rent out rooms to tourists - but they pay a hefty tax and
cannot let more than two rooms.

There are even rules about what kind of food they are allowed to serve
if they also offer evening meals.

Life is a struggle

Everyone I met in Cuba told me they wanted more economic freedom.

They want money in their pockets and a choice over how they spend it.

"People want to be able to start their own businesses, to work with
their hands, with their talents," says young artist Humberto.

With daily life a struggle for the majority, political reform is not
always at the top of the list.

Almost 50 years after the revolution, you get the feeling the government
knows it has got to deliver that little bit more.

Now its leaders, keen to ensure the survival of the revolution after
they are gone, are trying to work out how.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/26 12:12:54 GMT

More change coming for Cuba?

More change coming for Cuba?
Castro speech will be scrutinized at home and abroad
By Ray Sanchez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 26, 2008

Havana - When Raul Castro returns to the birthplace of the Cuban
revolution Saturday for the 55th anniversary of a historic rebel
assault, many Cubans will be listening to his speech for hints of change.

A year ago, Castro used his first July 26 speech — the biggest event of
the revolutionary calendar — to set the agenda for the modest changes he
has implemented. Observers abroad as well as ordinary Cubans here
believe that more change is coming, including the easing of travel
restrictions and greater opportunities for Cubans to start their own
businesses and that Castro might reveal some of his ideas for the future
during this year's event in the eastern city of Santiago.

"I think we might see a couple of surprises," said Frank Mora, a Cuba
expert at the National War College in Washington, D.C. "Every time Raul
gives a speech, he throws a little something out there ... in an attempt
to show that Cuba is moving forward, that the revolution is changing."

Since formally taking over power from his ailing older brother Fidel
Castro in February, Raul Castro has lifted caps on wages and
restrictions on items such as computers and cell phones. He has also
allowed Cubans to rent cars and visit tourist hotels.

In the sluggish agricultural sector, Castro has decentralized
decision-making and granted unused state land for use by private farmers
and cooperatives. Cuba watchers said the moves signal Castro's
willingness to steer Cuba away from the hard-line socialist doctrine
espoused by his older brother.

"The distribution of land is the only real substantive reform because in
a sense it represents the potential transfer of wealth to a sector of
society," Mora said.

William LeoGrande, a Cuba expert at American University in Washington,
said Raul Castro has demonstrated an expediency that was unimaginable
with Fidel in power.

"Raul is experimenting to see how additional market mechanisms work out
economically and to see the political ramifications," he said. "And yet
Raul is always careful to mention that he's consulted with Fidel and has
gotten Fidel's blessing. I think more change is coming."

In a speech before Cuba's rubber-stamp parliament earlier this month,
the younger Castro hinted at more economic change.

"Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of
opportunities, not of income," he said. "Equality is not egalitarianism."

On Saturday evening, many Cubans will be listening to the radio or
watching on television as Raul Castro marks the anniversary of the July
26, 1953, rebel assault on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago. The
attack was disastrous for the rebels but set in motion the revolution
that toppled U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

In Old Havana, Fernando Castillo, 67, expects to be sitting in his small
apartment watching the speech on his Korean-made television.

"We expect more good news for the people," the retired radio and TV
producer said. "We're reinventing our system, creating a new form of
socialism. No one should think that the turnover from Fidel to Raul
represents some kind of Trojan Horse."

Standing on the street with friends one block away, Silvio Montero, 28
and unemployed, said he hoped to go dancing Saturday night.

"The speech will be more of the same," he said. "What doesn't change is
our desperation.",0,5780145.story

Export-to-Cuba Conference Aug. 15 in San Antonio

Export-to-Cuba Conference Aug. 15 in San Antonio
Compiled By Staff
July 25, 2008
By Blair Fannin

Producers wanting to learn more about exporting goods to Cuba can attend
an Aug. 15 conference in San Antonio, Texas.

"Exporting to Cuba" to be held at the International Center at 203 South
St. Mary's St., will help participants learn more about how to export
food, agricultural goods, lumber and certain medical products, says Dr.
Parr Rosson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist, and one of the
conference presenters.

The workshop will include an overview of recent changes in the Cuban
political system and the implications for Texas, presented by Dr.
Jonathan Brown, Institute of Latin American Studies, at the University
of Texas.

This conference will help producers, ranchers, agribusiness,
export-service providers, as well as government officials, get an
in-depth look at how to reach the Cuban export market, Rosson says. Cuba
has become an important market for Texas over the past four years, and
it holds more promise in the future.

The workshop will focus on the future of the Cuban export market,
opportunities for food and agricultural trade, and provide a forum
featuring several industry leaders. The export process, shipping,
logistics, and port facilities will be discussed.

"The workshop will provide participants tools for a clearer
understanding of how to move forward with agricultural and food trade
with Cuba—a vendor who pays U.S. sellers cash in advance for our
products," says Cynthia Thomas, president of the Texas-Cuba Trade
Alliance and Dallas-based TriDimension Strategies LLC.

Registration to the conference is $35 prior to Aug. 1 and $50
afterwards. Seating is limited, and early registration is encouraged.
The Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance is sponsoring the event. AgriLife
Extension and the Free Trade Alliance are co-sponsors.

For more information, visit the Web sites on Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance
at or or

- Blair Fannin is with Texas AgriLife Extension Communications, College

Raúl Castro se enfrenta a las expectativas de los cubanos

Raúl Castro se enfrenta a las expectativas de los cubanos
La ausencia de dos años de Fidel Castro poco se siente en la Isla

La Habana.- Grandes banderas, la cubana y la rojinegra del Movimiento 26
de Julio, ondean ya en los principales edificios de la isla a la espera
de la celebración hoy de la principal fecha de la Cuba revolucionaria.

Una cita en la que Raúl Castro pronunciará su primer discurso como
presidente y que, dada la gran expectativa de cambios desde el traspaso
del poder, será seguramente seguida por muchos cubanos, resaltó DPA.

La cita tendrá lugar en la tarde -un cambio de costumbre, ya que solía
pronunciarse en horas de la mañana- en la suroriental Santiago de Cuba,
lugar donde precisamente se produjo el asalto al Cuartel Moncada el 26
de julio de 1953 que dio lugar a la celebración.

Aunque el ataque, dirigido por el histórico líder cubano Fidel Castro y
en el que también participó su hermano Raúl, fracasó, está considerado
el inicio de la lucha contra el régimen de Fulgencio Batista que el 1 de
enero de 1959 llevaría al triunfo de la revolución en la isla.

El día marca además la última vez que se pudo ver en público a Fidel
Castro, el 26 de julio de 2006. Según se supo más tarde, un día después
fue operado, dando comienzo a una convalecencia que dura ya dos años y
que llevó al tradicional líder de la isla a delegar, provisionalmente
primero y de manera definitiva en febrero de este año, sus poderes en su

Aunque el discurso del 26 de julio está considerado "estratégico",
observadores no esperan en esta ocasión un mensaje tan medular como el
del año pasado dado por Raúl.

En su primera alocución ante el Parlamento como presidente, Raúl Castro
advirtió el 11 de julio a los cubanos que deberán apretarse el cinturón
ante la coyuntura internacional.

De hecho, analistas advierten una ralentización del proceso de reformas
que algunos atribuyen a una eventual división en la cúpula del poder
entre sectores más reformistas e inmovilistas encabezados por Fidel Castro.

Pero dos años después de caer enfermo Fidel, el líder da muestras de
estabilidad, y aunque retirado del gobierno y dedicado a escribir,
suscita dudas sobre el impacto que ejerce su liderazgo en los cambios
que prometió su hermano.

Para muchos cubanos las cosas continúan igual, con o sin Fidel las
realidades de la isla chocan con los sueños de muchos habitantes. Raúl
sigue tratando de componer el rumbo del socialismo que pregona en su
discurso. Ahora intenta crear la igualdad que realmente falta.

El enemigo que invadió Cuba

El enemigo que invadió Cuba
Fernando Ravsberg
24/07/2008, 03:11 PM

Desde el mismo triunfo de la Revolución, el gobierno cubano advirtió a
su pueblo y al mundo sobre la posibilidad de ser atacados por Estados
Unidos. Cinco décadas después parece descubrir a otro enemigo que,
sutilmente, invadió ya la isla.

Marabú, marabú y más marabú, es lo que se encuentra en los campos
cubanos. El 50% de las tierras están sin cultivar, una gran parte de
ellas ocupadas por este arbusto espinoso, muy resistente, de rapidísima
reproducción y que no sirve absolutamente para nada.

Dicen que no es oriundo de la isla. Al parecer fue importado por un
cubano amante de las plantas exóticas. Hoy es una plaga que solo puede
combatirse con las manos y el tesón del campesino, sembrando y sembrando.

Porque realmente el marabú solo nace y crece en aquellas parcelas que no
son trabajadas, lo cual demuestra que lejos de ser el culpable, es
apenas una de las consecuencia, la más visible, del desastre agrícola
que afecta al país.

Un diputado del Parlamento y conocido dirigente juvenil, me explicaba
hace unos días que "llegó un momento en que era más barato importar los
alimentos que producirlos" y justificó este hecho diciendo que era más
fácil comprar el pollo que los piensos para criarlo.
¿Realmente fue más barato?, ¿Cuánto costará ahora volver a levantar la
agricultura cubana?, ¿Dónde queda el concepto de "seguridad
alimentaria"?, ¿Hasta qué punto hay garantías cuando se compra una
tercera parte de los alimentos al "enemigo imperialista"?.

El campesino hoy desconfía y no es para menos, fueron demasiados años
"alejados de la mano de Dios". Todavía no se acaban de creer que se
promoverá el trabajo individual y cooperativo por sobre las gigantescas
granjas-koljoz del Estado.

Salvo en el tabaco -donde los inversores extranjeros exigen determinadas
calidades y cantidades de producción- en el resto del país las granjas
fueron "la alternativa socialista" ante "el individualismo" del pequeño

Tal vez, esas granjas creen más conciencia política y social que la
pequeña propiedad, no lo discuto, pero está probado que no crean
riquezas, que en este caso se trata de alimentos para la población, para
las escuelas, los hospitales y la mesa de los cubanos.

Casi el 40% de las tierras entregadas hace años por el Ministerio del
Azúcar al de Agricultura están aun sin sembrar, o mejor dicho, sembradas
de marabú, mientras algunos de los campesinos con los que conversé
multiplican panes y peces con menos de una caballería.

Me dijeron que "más peligroso que el marabú es la burocracia", mientras
me mostraban 45 caballerías, "manejadas" por un diputado del parlamento
que lleva 15 años sin sembrarlas. La última semana les pasó el arado
para que no se las declaren ociosas.

Un buen movimiento de tierra que tiene como único objetivo impedir que
el gobierno las reparta entre los campesinos de la zona. Seguramente el
diputado no llegará al extremo de sembrarlas por lo que el marabú
encontrará un campo más fértil.

Donde el arbusto no parece encontrar espacio es en las fincas
particulares e incluso en muchas cooperativas. Estos días estuve en una
de ellas, que tiene sembrado hasta los bordes del camino. Parecía que me
movía por otro país.

Uno de sus secretos es que le venden parte de su producción al turismo,
abasteciendo el restaurante y el hotel de su zona. Voy a mantener en
secreto el nombre y el lugar para evitar que la burocracia "corrija" esa
violación de las normas establecidas.

Durante años se discutió sobre que políticas eran ideológicamente
correctas y la agricultura fue cuesta abajo. Se intentaba meter la
realidad dentro del modelo. Ahora parece que hay un esfuerzo por adaptar
el modelo a la realidad.

Ya el gobierno dio el primer paso, promulgando un decreto-ley que
permite la entrega de tierras a los particulares. Ahora tendrá que
luchar contra la burocracia y la ortodoxia, dos enemigos de cualquier
medida que cambie el modelo soviético.

En estos días me entero por otros colegas que las autoridades se están
reuniendo con los campesinos y pidiéndoles una lista de necesidades de
maquinaria e insumos. Dicen que Venezuela e Irán darán los créditos para
la compra.

Excelente noticia porque en el campo se necesitarán los machetes y los
herbicidas para abrir el camino y harán falta las yuntas de bueyes y los
arados para poner la semilla de donde nacerá la nueva agricultura cubana.

Es que si el General Raúl Castro quiere ganarle la guerra al marabú y
recuperar las tierras ocupadas por el enemigo, tendrá que reclutar un
ejército de campesinos, armarlo, organizar la logística y, sobre todo,
actuar con decisión y pragmatismo.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cuba to let farmers buy equipment on credit

Cuba to let farmers buy equipment on credit
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008

HAVANA -- Communist Cuba has begun offering private farmers equipment
and other resources on credit along with more land, as President Raul
Castro seeks to reform agriculture by loosening the state's grip.

Just days after a government decree authorizing land grants to farmers,
they are being called to meetings and asked what machinery and other
resources they need to make the best use of it.

"They told us to present our requests immediately for what we need and
that Venezuela, Iran and other countries had given credit to cover the
resources," the treasurer of a private co-operative said by telephone
after attending a meeting this week.

Iran recently agreed to increase trade credits to Cuba from 200 million
euros to 500 million euros, and Venezuela already finances dozens of
factory and farm projects.

Hundreds of farmers were told at the meeting in central Cuba called by
the Association of Small Farmers not to hold back on their requests.

"We can ask for whatever we need. Machinery, spare parts, irrigation
systems, wind mills, land clearing kits, you name it," the co-operative
member said.

Decision-making in the sector was recently decentralized, and redundant
state-run companies merged. The state, which purchases 70 per cent to 80
per cent of farm output, has doubled or even tripled the prices it pays.

The remaining 20 per cent to 30 per cent of production is sold on the
open market.

Cuba's 250,000 family farmers and 1,000 private co-operatives produce as
much as state farms do on just 25 per cent as much land.

Cuba takes spin at silkworm raising

Cuba takes spin at silkworm raising
Published on Friday, July 25, 2008

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN): So far, so good as Cuba has begun raising silkworms
for the production and sale silk, cocoons and other derivatives.

This experiment, underway at the Indio Hatuey Pasture and Forage
Experimental Station in central Matanzas province, constitutes a
baseline study still in the evaluation phase.

In statements published on the Juventud Tecnica website, project
engineer Roberto Carlos Fiallo said they have already five raised
generations of worms and have tested this process for two years.

"We have proven that is possible to raise silkworms in a climate like
Cuba's as long as the proper conditions are met. In fact, we have even
obtained high quality cocoons that, while still not competitive on the
market, might be in the future," he added.

Fiallo explained that cocoons are used in cosmetology for growing hair,
are useful in fighting hyperglycaemic human processes and, in the
future, could be used to feed chickens and rabbits due to their high
protein value.

Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into
textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons made by
the larvae of the Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture). Silk
fabrics are highly priced on the international markets due to their beauty.

Sericulture has been carried out for thousands of years. Though its
exact origin is unknown, it is believed to have begun in China.

Cuba under Raúl: Creeping toward capitalism?

The Christian Science Monitor

Cuba under Raúl: Creeping toward capitalism?

Since Raúl Castro took the helm in February, he's rolled out a series
economic changes, including allowing Cubans to buy cellphones and giving
farmers profit-incentives.
By Sara Miller Llana and Matthew Clark | Staff writers of The Christian
Science Monitor

from the July 23, 2008 edition

Havana - A handful of Cubans are taking turns doing bicep curls and
pedaling on stationary bikes. At first glance, there's nothing
extraordinary about this nameless gym in the basement of a Havana
apartment complex.

Yet when night falls, the machines – crafted out of wood planks and
scavenged metal tubing – disappear like a government informant into the
shadows. They are disassembled and tucked away to make room for the
coughing Russian Ladas and '50s-era American cars that fill the
building's parking lot.

Officially, this fly-by-day gym does not exist, but Guillermo Arrastia
opened it five years ago. He employs a staff of three and collects
monthly $5 fees from more than 100 members. It is run completely "por la
izquierda" – "on the left" – a term that describes how most Cubans make
ends meet. "We have to survive," says Mr. Arrastia, unapologetically.

Such gray-market microenterprises exemplify a spirit of dynamism and
creativity straining to be fully unleashed, say some observers of Cuba.
The question of the day: Is Raúl Castro about to release it?

The island nation's economy has struggled mightily since losing the
support of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Free-market reforms
within a socialist system, like the kind embraced by China, had been
rejected by Fidel Castro, who ruled for a half century. But there are
signs that younger brother Raúl, who permanently replaced Fidel in
February, may orchestrate a move toward a more capitalist economy.

Raúl's reputation as a pragmatist is unfurling expectations here that
the era of asceticism and austerity is coming to a close. Major
agricultural reforms have been unveiled. And in a speech earlier this
month, he seemed to be preparing the populace for an economic shift.

"Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of
opportunities, not of income," Raúl said on July 11 while addressing
Cuba's rubber-stamp parliament in its first session since he replaced
Fidel. "Equality is not egalitarianism."

It's hard to imagine the father of the 1959 revolution ever uttering
such words, say Cuba analysts. And a recent flurry of headline-grabbing
changes – such as allowing Cubans to patronize tourist hotels and to own
cellphones, DVD players, and computers – is fueling speculation about
how fast Raúl will pursue the "China model" of a managed creep toward
free markets. Some expect more reforms to be announced during a speech
by Raúl on July 26, Revolution Day.

"Cuba is never going to go as far as the Chinese have in dismantling the
social safety net," says William LeoGrande, a Cuba expert at American
University in Washington. But he says that Raúl has already exhibited an
expediency that Fidel never dared: acknowledging under-the-table wages,
raising salaries and enticing productivity with payment, and, most
important, he says, introducing market incentives in the farming sector
that could be the starting gun for reforms in other sectors.

"To some extent, they are experimenting to see how additional market
mechanisms work out economically and to see the political
ramifications," he says. "I think there are a lot more changes coming."

After the Soviet Union collapsed – and Cuba lost generous oil supplies
and subsidies that had buoyed the economy for decades – a "special
period" of economic hardship ensued. In this context, Fidel grudgingly
loosened the economy, giving rise to a new crop of tailors, mechanics,
and restaurateurs. The government created about 150 categories of
licenses for Cubans to start their own businesses, and the ranks of
self-employed swelled to 200,000.

Today that number has fallen to 150,000, says Antonio Jorge, a retired
economics professor from Florida International University who also
worked as a finance official in the early years of Fidel's reign. Fidel
began to discourage such businesses the late 1990s, saying that they
were creating economic inequality, says Mr. Jorge. A gap was growing
between entrepreneurial haves and state-employed have-nots.

In response, the government stopped issuing new licenses for 40
categories of businesses (including restaurants) in 2004, jacked up
taxes, and created other limits on income growth, such as reducing the
number of tables permitted at paladares – private restaurants that
Cubans are allowed to run out of their homes.

Jorge says that Fidel wouldn't allow anything that detracted from
absolute central government control. But, he says, that Raúl could, for
example, boost the number of categories of small businesses and be more
liberal in the granting of licenses, or remove some of the barriers such
as high taxes. "These are measures that won't affect his hold on power
or change the collectivist nature of the regime, but will improve
standards of living for some people," says Jorge.

But for now, the burdens Fidel imposed have merely pushed
entrepreneurial activity underground.

Ani, a 20-something Cuban woman – who like most Cubans interviewed for
this series withheld her last name – has opted out of the state jobs
system, one that she once idealistically embraced, she says.

She was trained as a teacher in her home province Pinar del Rio, and
moved to Havana to teach junior high students. But after a few years of
making 200 pesos ($9) a month, she quit. "The [pay for the] job was not
worth it," she says.

Now she has no official job, aside from helping her aunt rent out a room
to foreign tourists, an illegal but far more lucrative venture. When
asked about the loss of her contribution to society as an educator, she
shrugs: "This is how it works here. What we don't have we invent."

Everything is 'on the left'

It takes no more than a half day with Jorge Aviles to see that nearly
everyone in his Havana neighborhood, and in his sphere of activities,
operates "on the left."

There is the neighbor who rents out her empty apartment to foreign
tourists – even though by law to rent a room in your house you must live
there. There is another who sells pizzas out her side window at night.

As Mr. Aviles walks down the street, he gets "business" proposals,
ranging from risky to innocuous. One a recent day, he bumps into an old
friend and is offered a year's supply of soap bars for $75. He counters
by offering the spare room he sometimes rents by the hour to couples.
The friend replies that he and his girlfriend have recently gotten their
own place. How about an installment plan of $25 a year for three years,
he asks. Aviles passes.

"Everything here is about selling and negotiating, and it's all
illegal," says Aviles, who insists on using a pseudonym since he is on
the government's radar after being fined in November for renting his
room to foreign tourists without authorization.

He questions why endeavors that would be considered entrepreneurial and
encouraged in most countries are outside the law here.

Back at his underground gym, Arrastia also knows he faces a fine if he
is found out.

After he lost his computer sales job and hit on the idea of a gym in the
parking lot, he sought a government license for his gym. But he found
out that the business category doesn't exist. So he consulted his
building's neighborhood association, which approved of his plans. Today
he pays the association about $12 a month to keep quiet about the
arrangement. He knows he is at the mercy of any disgruntled neighbor,
but he also says that such endeavors will be legalized and that his tiny
exercise room with about 25 homemade machines will be the template for a
much bigger business some day.

"I do believe this will be authorized," says Arrastia. "I want to have
another much bigger gym, legally.... I will grow this business and have
gyms all over Havana."

Farm reform on fast track

How soon, if ever, urban Cubans like Arrastia will get the opportunity
to legally run small businesses isn't clear. But Cubans in the
countryside may already be on a faster track to change. Agricultural
reforms could radically transform the island's economy: Last week, Raúl
granted private farmers the right to till plots of up to 99 acres of
unused government land. This follows a previous announcement to shift
control of farms from the central government in Havana to local
councils, raise prices for certain products to boost production, and
give farmers the right to use whatever farm equipment they can afford to

Almost immediately upon taking power 50 years ago, Fidel Castro began
nationalizing the telecommunications industry and expropriating farm
lands. Less than a decade later almost all businesses were in state
hands. In exchange, Cubans were given subsidized food, free healthcare,
and homes. The economy never functioned independently, and it has never
quite recovered from the fall of the Soviet Union.

Cuba now relies heavily on Venezuela, whose leftist President Hugo
Chávez sends nearly 100,000 barrels of oil a day to the island in
exchange for social services, such as Cuban doctors and teachers. Even
though Raúl promises not to veer from the ideals of the revolution, he
has publicly acknowledged that the system does not work in its current form.

The moves to increase crop production are, in part, a response to a
global spike in fuel and food prices, which has made the subsidized food
system – once regarded as one of the major successes of the revolution –
untenable for many ordinary Cubans today. "We're [in deep trouble],"
whispers a man, using an expletive, while exiting a state-run produce
market in Havana. He says he could not afford to buy anything to
supplement the monthly ration of rice, beans, potatoes, eggs, a little
meat, and other goods. Many Cubans say the ration does not last them
more than three weeks, if that.

In his most recent speech to parliament, Raúl implored his countrymen to
work harder and prepare for tough times ahead as the global food crisis
ripples toward Cuba. "We have to definitively reverse the decline in the
amount of cultivated land," he said, adding that it has shrunk by 33
percent in the past nine years. "Stated simply, we must return to the
land. We must make it produce. There is already a clear strategy and a
plan of action, from the national level to the lowest level of production."

Currently more than half of arable land lies fallow or is under used,
according to Cuban government figures cited by The Associated Press.
Cuba spent $1.5 billion importing food last year. This year it is
expected to spend $1 billion more, say officials.

"There's been a recognition by Raúl that the government cannot run farms
as well as [private] firms can," says John Parke Wright, a wealthy
rancher and sixth-generation Floridian whose ancestors were instrumental
in cementing trade ties between Tampa and Havana in the 1800s (see
sidebar, page 11). Mr. Wright and other longtime observers say that
market experiments on farms are just a stepping stone to a more open

Texan cattle and cotton

But while some Cubans blame their economic woes on strict controls and
prohibitive taxes, many still view the US and its 1962 trade embargo as
the bigger culprit. No matter how much Raúl seeks to open the economy,
the embargo will stand in the way of much-needed foreign investment,
analysts say.

If the economy is opened up, the tourist industry will explode. But it
is on the farms and fields of Cuba where a change is most likely – and
there is no shortage of investors eyeing potential changes. On May 27, a
group of trade representatives from Texas wrapped up the first official
state visit to the island since the US established the embargo.

"Cubans expressed a sincere desire to do business with Texas," says
Texas agriculture commissioner Todd Staples, who led the delegation.
Cuba is an important market for Texan cattle, rice, poultry, cotton, and
processed food products that enter under provisions in the US embargo
that allow small amounts of trade in agricultural products.

"We just went to develop relationships, but the trip exceeded our
expectations," says Mr. Staples. Members of the delegation signed two
new cotton contracts worth $400,000 and initiated several other
contracts for poultry, milk, and processed foods. "Positive trade
relationships can lead to greater understanding of the issues that
divide us," he says.

Such goodwill may not be the status quo in either nation right now, but
the sense that change is coming certainly is. "The social values we
espouse mean nothing if there is no economic basis," says Renel, a young
lawyer in Havana. "Whether it is socialism, communism, capitalism, even
feudalism, things are going to change."

Squatting to fix one of his broken-down stationary exercise bikes,
Arrastia agrees: "In the future, the economy will open up. It has to.
The people have a limit."

Find this article at:

Cuba: dos años sin Fidel y bajo gobierno de Raúl

Publicado el jueves 24 de julio del 2008

Cuba: dos años sin Fidel y bajo gobierno de Raúl

Cuba cumple el 26 de julio dos años de la crisis de salud de Fidel
Castro, el histórico líder comunista que cinco días después entregó el
mando a su hermano Raúl, designado formalmente presidente en febrero.

Los hechos más importantes de esta crucial etapa de la revolución cubana:


- Julio:

26: Fidel Castro sufre crisis de salud y aparece en público por última vez.

31: Delega en su hermano Raúl Castro el mando provisionalmente.

- Agosto:

1: Fidel declara su salud "secreto de Estado''.

18: Raúl afirma que Cuba está movilizada contra un ataque de EEUU y
ofrece diálogo en "plano de igualdad''.

13: Fidel cumple 80 años. Primeras fotos y video con presidente
venezolano Hugo Chávez, y con Raúl.

- Diciembre:

2: Raúl reitera oferta de diálogo a EEUU en desfile militar en honor a

20: Raúl se dice abierto al debate y a dar paso a nuevas generaciones.

22: Raúl preside por primera vez el Parlamento. Exige disciplina y rigor
contra problemas de alimentación, vivienda y transporte.



18: Polémica de intelectuales por reaparición de censores de la cultura.

- Marzo:

29: Fidel publica primer artículo: "Reflexiones del Comandante en Jefe''.

- Abril:

1: Entra en vigor estricto reglamento de trabajo.

4: Raúl relanza con España la relación bilateral.

- Mayo:

3: Frustrado secuestro aéreo de dos soldados que iban a emigrar a EEUU,
con saldo de dos muertos.

- Junio:

18: Muere esposa de Raúl, Vilma Espín. Consejo de DDHH de ONU elimina
relator especial para Cuba.

29: Raúl promete el pago de deudas a productores.

- Julio:

26: Raúl anuncia cambios económicos, bajo socialismo.

- Octubre:

14: Fidel habla en vivo con Chávez por teléfono (1h y 22 min).

- Diciembre

17: Castro dice en una carta que no se aferra al poder.


- Enero:

19: Jóvenes revolucionarios critican la doble moneda y las restricciones
para viajar y hospedarse en hoteles.

15: Presidente brasileño Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visita a Fidel y se
reúne con Raúl.

20: Fidel electo diputado y queda habilitado a la reelección presidencial.

19: Fidel Castro renuncia a la presidencia.

24: Raúl asume como presidente. Anuncia que eliminará prohibiciones.
Nombra al general Julio Casas ministro de Fuerzas Armadas, en su reemplazo.

26: Raúl recibe al "dos'' del Vaticano, Tarcisio Bertone.

28: Cuba firma dos pactos de derechos humanos.

- Marzo:

17: Se inicia libre venta de instrumentos de labranza a campesinos, como
parte de una reforma agrícola.

21-30: Raúl autoriza libre venta de computadoras, DVD y microondas.
Permite a los cubanos hospedarse en hoteles, alquilar autos y contratar

- Abril:

27: Alza de pensiones de hasta un 20%.

28: Raúl convoca a VI Congreso del Partido Comunista para 2009,
reacomoda la cúpula del poder, conmuta penas de muerte y declara
producción de alimentos "de máxima'' prioridad.

- Mayo:

7: El presidente de EEUU, George W. Bush, califica de cosméticos los

- Junio:

6: Se autorizan las operaciones de cambio de sexo.

11: Eliminación del igualitarismo y del techo salarial.

17: Fidel reaparece en un video con Chávez, tras cinco meses de no ser
visto en imágenes, el mayor lapso durante su enfermedad.

19: Unión Europea levanta sanciones impuestas en 2003.

- Julio:

8: Se anuncian permisos a transportistas privados, suspendidos desde 1999.

11: Raúl anunció ante el Parlamento medidas de ajuste económico.

18: Decreta entregar tierras ociosas en usufructo.

Iglesia cubana dice que la doble moneda no desaparecerá

Publicado el jueves 24 de julio del 2008

Iglesia cubana dice que la doble moneda no desaparecerá
The Associated Press

Un análisis publicado por la Iglesia Católica cubana coincidió con el
gobierno en que la doble circulación monetaria no desaparecerá en lo
inmediato de la economía isleña pese a los reclamos de los ciudadanos.

"Pecan de ilusos" aquellos que esperan que las autoridades eliminen "por
decreto" la convivencia del peso convertible, CUC (la unidad corresponde
a 1.08 dólares) y el peso cubano (21 pesos cubanos equivalen a un
dólar), aseguró un análisis presentado por la revista mensual Palabra
Nueva, de la Arquidiócesis de La Habana.

La población suele quejarse de que los salarios pagados en pesos cubanos
no alcanzan para comprar los muchos bienes que por no estar
subvencionados deben adquirirse en las tiendas que venden en CUC.

El sueldo medio en Cuba es de 408 pesos cubanos (unos 19 dólares) y
algunos sectores entregan "estímulos" en divisa.

"El meollo del asunto no es tanto de moneda en sí, como la
disponibilidad de mercancía... o sea de oferta", manifestó el artículo
al destacar que si se eliminara el CUC ahora se generaría desabasto.

Otra posibilidad es que se suprimiera el CUC y los precios se adecuaran
a la tasa de cambio lo cual "pondría al descubierto una tendencia
inflacionaria que la presencia del peso convertible sirve para ocultar",
destacó el artículo.

Desde el triunfo de la revolución hasta 1993, las autoridades
prohibieron la circulación de otro papel de pago que no fuera el peso
cubano pero cuando la crisis derivada de la caída de los aliados
comunistas de la isla se hizo sentir se permitió el uso del dólar. Un
año después comenzó a emitirse el CUC en paridad con el dólar.

En 2004 se eliminó la moneda estadounidense en un intento de retomar el
control de las propias finanzas. EL CUC fue también revaluado, quedando
este y el peso cubano.

"Estaremos en presencia de la convivencia monetaria durante un tiempo
nada despreciable", agregó Palabra Nueva.

"Al peso convertible lo arrinconaremos con más producción o cuando el
país cuente con una mayor capacidad importadora de bienes de consumo",
diagnosticó el análisis.

Precisamente en el mes de mayo un documento del Banco Central circulado
como material de estudio de los militantes del Partido Comunista de Cuba
indicó que era recomendable eliminar la doble moneda, pero que no sería
esta una "solución mágica" para elevar los salarios y podría generar

En la misma dirección el nuevo presidente Raúl Castro inició desde su
época de mandatario interino en 2007 una fuerte campaña para elevar la
eficiencia y la productividad de su economía, un punto débil en la isla.