miércoles, 30 de abril de 2008

Fewer U.S. immigrants sending money to Latin America

Fewer U.S. immigrants sending money to Latin America
Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:40pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fewer immigrants in the United States are sending
money home to Latin America due to the U.S. economic slowdown and a
harsher immigration climate, Inter-American Development Bank survey said
on Wednesday.

"Three million fewer families will be receiving money in 2008 (in the
region)" said Donald F. Terry, IADB's Multilateral Investment Fund
general manager, at a news conference.

As a result, about 10 million fewer people will benefit from those cash
transfers and about 2 million families could fall below the poverty
line, especially in Mexico, he added.

The volume of cash transfers would remain largely unchanged in 2008,
only $500 million higher than in 2006, the last time the state-by-state
survey was conducted

The amount of cash transfers was projected to rise slightly, however, as
$45.9 billion should be sent this year, up $500 million from 2006, the
last time the state-by-state survey was conducted.

Only 50 percent of the estimated 18.9 million Latino immigrants were
sending money to their families on a regular basis last February when
the poll was conducted. That compares with 73 per cent in a similar
study in 2006, or 3.2 million fewer people, the IADB said.

Most immigrants -- 81 percent -- said it was now more difficult to find
good-paying jobs and 28 percent said they were thinking about returning
to their countries. Many stopped sending money home due to a growing
climate of discrimination.

"They are feeling fear and uncertainty about the future," said Sergio
Bendixen, a Miami-based pollster who conducted the survey.

Almost half of the 5,000 adult immigrants interviewed were illegal and
the sharpest drop in transfers should happen in states that have adopted
tougher immigration laws, such as Pennsylvania (28 percent drop),
Georgia (17 percent drop) and Maryland (11 percent drop), Bendixen said.

Ten U.S. states will top more than $1 billion in remittances this year.
They are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey,
Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and Virginia.

The survey was conducted beginning in February in Spanish and has a
margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

(Reporting by Adriana Garcia, editing by Daniel Bases and Kenneth Barry)


Cuba says tourism industry appears to be recovering from slump

Cuba says tourism industry appears to be recovering from slump
Posted on Wed, Apr. 30, 2008
Associated Press Writer

Cuba announced Wednesday that its crucial tourism industry appears to be
recovering from a two-year slump, with a 15 percent increase in visitors
during the first quarter of the year.

The number of international visitors topped the 1 million mark on
Monday, 22 days faster than last year, state-controlled news media
reported. Officials credited well-attended conferences and trade fairs
for the increase, singling out an ongoing gathering dedicated to
cultural tourism that has attracted more than 1,000 visitors.

Maria Elena Lopez, a vice minister of tourism, reported a 15 percent
increase in foreign visitors this year compared with the first three
months of 2007, but she did not provide further data, according to the
Communist Party daily Granma.

The number of foreign tourists peaked at about 2.32 million in 2005, but
slipped to 2.15 last year, according to official statistics.

Officials said the decline of 70,000 visitors in 2007 cut revenues by
nearly US$14.5 million (euro9.3 million) below 2006 levels - a blow to a
nation that has turned to tourism to generate much of its hard currency

Washington's nearly 50-year-old trade embargo prohibits American
tourists from coming to Cuba. Canada, Britain, Spain and Italy rank as
top sources of visitors to the island.

Raul Castro succeeded his brother Fidel as president in February and
promptly dropped bans that had kept ordinary Cubans from staying at
luxury hotels and renting cars, which might help bolster tourism during
off months when fewer foreign visitors come


The Challenge of Boosting Productivity

LABOUR-CUBA: The Challenge of Boosting Productivity
By Patricia Grogg

HAVANA, Apr 30 (IPS) - Workers are facing thorny questions related to
productivity, wages, participation in decision-making or unemployment at
a time when the government is discreetly adopting measures aimed at
finally pulling the country out of an economic crisis that has dragged
on for more than 15 years.

The suffocating impact of economic problems on living conditions in this
socialist nation was the focus of many of the complaints and suggestions
voiced by ordinary Cubans during the widespread debates called for by
the authorities last year, after a key Jul. 26 speech by President Raúl

"The problems of low productivity and low wages will be resolved as each
sector implements the formula of paying in accordance with production
levels," said Ariel Terrero, a journalist and researcher who specialises
in economic questions.

"The ceiling for wages should be productivity, and not the other way
around," he remarked to IPS.

According to Terrero, wages should be linked to performance, especially
in leading productive and services sectors, whose development would in
turn bring improvements in salaries in other areas, like health and

In February, the Labour Ministry approved new general regulations on
wages -- in resolution 9/2008 -- which extended the system of
performance-based pay to the entire business community in Cuba.

The new system is aimed at boosting productivity, cutting costs and
expenses, curbing energy consumption, improving the quality of goods and
services, replacing imports with nationally produced goods, and
increasing exports and revenue flows into state coffers.

When the recession broke out in Cuba in the early 1990s, the purchasing
power of Cuban families plunged. During that period, the state propped
up dozens of inefficient public enterprises, continued paying the wages
of thousands of inactive workers, and continued to provide free
education and health care and heavily subsidised essential food items.

Experts estimate that today, 15 years after the peak of the crisis, the
average wage has one-quarter of its 1989 real value, although the
nominal value climbed from 188 to 408 Cuban pesos a month.

In a country where the overwhelming majority of the workforce is
employed by the state, it is estimated that an average family of four
needs nearly twice the current average income to cover their basic needs.

In 2005, the government granted wage and pension hikes to more than five
million public employees and retirees.

A new increase announced Sunday will benefit a total of two million
people, including pensioners, families receiving social assistance, and
judges and prosecutors.

In an article in the Catholic magazine Espacio Laical, economist Pavel
Vidal wrote that workers should receive a share of profits, which would
strengthen their stake in the results achieved by the company they work for.

For his part, Terrero argues that improving wages and working conditions
is not enough. On his web site, Cuba Profunda, he advocates
strengthening "workers' participation in decision-making in their
companies or workplaces," to strengthen their sense of belonging.

Labour leaders in Cuba have acknowledged that employees have become less
disciplined and dedicated as a result of the growing loss of a sense of
responsibility for their own performance, given that property in Cuba is
state-owned, or supposedly collective.

A Labour Ministry resolution in effect since April 2007 apparently did
little to change that. The new rules prohibit workers from accepting
personal payments on the job outside of their wages, using vehicles or
other equipment belonging to their government employer for personal
ends, and engaging in personal income-earning activities within the
workplace. "Serious breaches of discipline" listed by the resolution are
unexcused, unjustified or repeated absenteeism or tardiness, abandonment
of the workplace during the worker's shift, and low productivity.
Parallel to the challenge of improving economic efficiency, authorities
in Cuba must restore the prestige of work, especially among the younger

A 2007 study by the Communist Youth League (UJC) found that more than
282,000 young people in Cuba neither work nor study. The magnitude of
the problem is especially alarming in Havana, where 20 percent of the
working age population does not work.

The report attributes the phenomenon to the low level of education of
the young people who do not work or study, the gap between their
aspirations and the job opportunities available to them, and the
shortcomings of the coverage and assistance they are offered by the
relevant state bodies.

Many of these young people prefer to do whatever they have to do to get
by instead of working, because ultimately, they do not need to work for
a living, said an article in Trabajadores, the weekly publication of
Cuba's central trade union.

But in the meantime, "the country is lacking labour power in important
areas like education, health, construction or agriculture," it added.


Cuba iguala producción de azúcar de 2007, según cálculos

Cuba iguala producción de azúcar de 2007, según cálculos
miércoles 30 de abril de 2008 11:09 GYT
Por Marc Frank

LA HABANA (Reuters) - La producción cubana de azúcar cruda igualó las
1,2 millones de toneladas reportadas durante la zafra anterior, según
cálculos de Reuters basados en cifras de 10 de las 13 provincias
productoras de la isla.

Sin embargo, la producción podría crecer, pues la molienda fue extendida
hasta mayo.

Las 10 provincias reportaron una producción total de 929.000 toneladas a
fines de la semana pasada. Pero Reuters calculó que, sumando la
producción de las otras tres provincias, el volumen total es de 1,184
millones de toneladas.

Veinticinco de los 30 ingenios habilitados para esta zafra continuaban
moliendo el miércoles, lo que fácilmente puede haber agregado otras
16.000 toneladas desde entonces, dijeron expertos locales.

"Todavía estamos en zafra, yo diría que casi plena zafra, porque hay una
buena capacidad abierta, existe caña, existen hombres al corte, hay
voluntad, hay decisión," dijo Juan Varela, uno de los principales
expertos del país, en un programa de la radio estatal.

La industria esperaba terminar la zafra en mayo con entre 1,5 y 1,6
millones de toneladas, pero retrasos en el inicio, escasez de maquinaria
y repuestos, y otros problemas mantuvieron hasta hoy la molienda muy por
debajo del 70 por ciento de su capacidad.

Esos problemas han afectado a la industria azucarera estatal durante años.

En las provincias que están más atrasadas, los ingenios han sido
reforzados con trabajadores y equipos de otras zonas de la isla.

En mayo comienza la temporada de calor y lluvias en que los rendimientos
caen y la cosecha se vuelve más difícil.

La cosecha cubana está mecanizada en un 80 por ciento, lo que complica
el trabajo cuando llueve.

El volumen de producción depende en gran medida del clima.

Las malas cosechas de los últimos años obligaron a Cuba a importar entre
200.000 y 300.000 toneladas de azúcar blanda de baja graduación de
Colombia y Brasil.

Cuba consume un mínimo de 700.000 toneladas de azúcar al año y exporta
400.000 a China.

(Reporte de Marc Frank; Editado en español por Juan José Lagorio)


Turismo en Cuba crece 15% gracias a Chile, Argentina, Colombia y Canadá

Miércoles, 30 de Abril de 2008, 10:43hs

Fuente: AFP
Principal rama de la economía de la isla
Turismo en Cuba crece 15% gracias a Chile, Argentina, Colombia y Canadá

Ese aumento se produjo gracias al incremento de llegadas procedentes de
Colombia (35%), Chile (34%), Argentina (33%), Canadá (30%), España (13%)
y Rusia (18%).

LA HABANA, abril 30.- Cuba llegó con 22 días de anticipación al turista
un millón, respecto a 2007, y registró un crecimiento de 15% en el
primer trimestre del año en ese sector, gracias al aumento de visitantes
de Canadá, Colombia, Chile, España y Argentina, informaron este
miércoles fuentes oficiales.

La viceministra de Turismo, María Elena López, precisó que el turista un
millón de 2008 llegó el lunes a Cuba y que el incremento de viajeros
entre enero y marzo fue de 15%, al pasar de 689.538 en el primer
trimestre de 2007 a 794.384 este año.

Ese aumento se produjo gracias al incremento de llegadas procedentes de
Colombia (35%), Chile (34%), Argentina (33%), Canadá (30%), España (13%)
y Rusia (18%).

Por el contrario, reportaron decrecimientos en ese periodo Francia
(-14%), Italia (-11%) y Alemania (-12%), según los datos oficiales.

En 2007, unos 2,15 millones de turistas visitaron Cuba, cifra inferior
en un 3,1% a 2006, pero las autoridades proyectaron una recuperación
este año.

El turismo es una de las principales ramas de la economía cubana, con
ingresos de más de 2.000 millones de dólares anuales.


Aumentaron 15% los turistas que visitaron Cuba en primer trimestre

Aumentaron 15% los turistas que visitaron Cuba en primer trimestre
Hora: 14:22 Fuente : EFE

La Habana, 30 abr (EFECOM).- Los turistas que visitaron Cuba en el
primer trimestre de 2008 aumentaron un 15% respecto al mismo periodo de
2007, informaron hoy medios oficiales.

Hasta el pasado lunes, 28 de abril, llegaron a Cuba un millón de
turistas, mientras que en 2007 se alcanzó esa cifra 22 días después,
agregaron dichos medios citando a la viceministra del sector, María
Elena López.

El turismo es uno de los principales renglones de la economía de Cuba,
país que recibió en 2007 a más de 2 millones de visitantes que generaron
2.000 millones de dólares de ingresos. EFECOM



Siderometalúrgica cubana exporta $139 millones

30 de abril de 2008

Siderometalúrgica cubana exporta $139 millones

La industria siderometalúrgica cubana exportó $139 millones en el 2007
con destino a 25 mercados y confirmó la tendencia al crecimiento que
experimenta desde hace dos años, informaron el martes funcionarios de
ese organismo estatal.

El viceministro de la Industria Sideromecánica (SIME), Mario García
Valdivia, dijo a la televisión local que los doce grupos empresariales
del sector lograron exportar, lo que permitió que los ingresos pudieran
"haber llegado a los $139 millones''.

"Tenemos sostenidamente un crecimiento en las ventas de producción y
servicio que al final son las ventas que redundan en sustitución de
importaciones'', apuntó el viceministro.

Explicó que en el caso particular del acero se aprovechó la brecha de
los altos precios en el mercado internacional y además se buscó lograr
un equilibrio en la balanza comercial entre las importaciones de
materias primas y las exportaciones de productos con un valor agregado

La industria sideromecánica de la isla produce acero, carpintería de
aluminio y galvanizada para viviendas, equipos agrícolas y maquinaria en
general, de refrigeración, calderas y herrajes hidrosanitarios,
conductores eléctricos de cobre y aluminio para las redes de trasmisión,
distribución y acometidas de electricidad, entre otros.

Este sector cuenta con doce grupos empresariales en los que trabajan
casi 50,000 personas. Entre sus principales mercados se encuentran
México, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Jamaica, República Dominicana,
Haití, Nicaragua, Honduras y Rusia.


martes, 29 de abril de 2008

Canada fears U.S. trade blitz

Canada fears U.S. trade blitz

Canadian business firms worry that -- whenever the U.S. trade embargo on
Cuba is lifted -- they will be trampled by a stampede of U.S.
corporations rushing to the island to cash in on the new market, an
article in Monday's The Globe & Mail says. "Behind the scenes, American
business lobbies have been increasing pressure on their government to
ease or lift the 47-year-old embargo," the Toronto newspaper reports.
"There's one reason for that: oil. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates
almost 5 billion barrels of oil and almost 10 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas lie below Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico. [...] U.S. oil
giants want in." Canada is already losing out to the U.S. on grain
sales, the paper says. "Canada remains among Cuba's biggest trading
partners, with two-way trade totaling about 1.6 billion Canadian dollars
last year. But foodstuffs accounted for little of Canada's CD$564
million in exports to the island, which consisted largely of machinery
and equipment." In contrast, "U.S. grain growers saw sales to Cuba soar
to more than US$400 million in 2007. [...] As a result, U.S. exports to
Cuba are on track to surpass Canada's this year, likely the first time
that has happened since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to
power." To read the entire article, click here.
---Renato Pérez Pizarro

April 28, 2008


Cuba wants to create air cargo hub

Source: American Shipper Florida Connection
Date Posted: 4/28/2008 1:07:06 PM

Cuba wants to create air cargo hub

Russian air transport specialist Volga-Dnepr Group said it is
participating in a working group to help plan an air cargo hub in
Havana, Cuba.
The panel, organized by the Russian and Cuban governments, is
analyzing air cargo flows from the Americas to all parts of the world
and the potential for increased efficiency from having a hub at Jose
Marti Airport. A positive determination could lead to construction of an
air cargo facility by 2011.
For its part, Volga-Dnepr will study whether flight operations to
Havana by charter airline Volga-Dnepr Airlines and scheduled airline
AirBridge Cargo are commercially viable.


South Africa: Country Welcomes Cuban Doctors

South Africa: Country Welcomes Cuban Doctors

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

28 April 2008
Posted to the web 29 April 2008

Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Cape Town

For more than a decade, Cuban doctors have filled part of a gap left by
South African doctors who in large numbers leave the country looking for
better salaries and employment opportunities.

According to Fidel Radebe, director of communications for South Africa's
department of health, there are currently 134 Cuban doctors in the
country working under a government-to-government agreement between Cuba
and South Africa.

The first Cuban doctors who came to the country under this agreement
arrived in 1996 -- two years after the African National Congress (ANC)
came to power.

Socialist Cuba was a firm supporter of the anti-apartheid struggle in
South Africa, and the ANC and other leftwing movements in South Africa
always had a natural affinity for Cuba's stated struggle against "neo

Fast forward to 2008 -- Radebe could not confirm rumours that
negotiations were underway to bring a new batch of doctors to the
country. "The department may in future consider the further recruitment
of Cuban doctors as provided for in the government-to-government
agreement, but details have not yet been finalised," he said.

IPS asked Radebe about how Cuban doctors have been received in South
Africa. Some of their patients and colleagues have been harsh in their
criticism. Patients have complained that some of the doctors are not
properly trained and that they do not converse fluently in any of South
Africa's 11 official languages, including English.

This kind of response, however, stands in sharp contrast to a number of
papers and articles written by academics and journalists that praise the
Cuban government for its accessible medical system and the high
standards of training in that country. According to some figures there
is one doctor for every 170 Cubans -- something South Africa has no hope
of achieving in the near future with only 74 doctors per 100,000 citizens.

Whatever the criticism, it cannot be denied -- some commentators say --
that Cuban doctors have brought invaluable resources to far-flung areas
of the country where many South African doctors refuse to work due to
insecurity, remoteness of the area, and a lack of proper salaries.

"These doctors provide an important service in places where only one
doctor is often on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Mike
Waters, spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

Harald Pakendorf, a former newspaper editor and currently an independent
political analyst, concurs that Cuban doctors play an important role in
primary health care in South Africa. He also adds that the government
should retain doctors, all of whom were trained at great cost to South
African taxpayers.

"The government should appoint competent hospital administrators who can
see to things like funding and the purchasing of equipment. Doctors
should care for their patients. They should not have to worry about the
availability of things like needles, sutures, swabs and medicines,"
Pakendorf said.

Regarding the criticism that Cuban doctors often lack the necessary
skills, Radebe says that all doctors have to register with the Health
Professions Council of South Africa and therefore have to meet certain
professional standards.

According to Waters, the vacancy rates for medical specialists range
from 51 percent in the central province of the Free State to a massive
86 percent in the northern Limpopo Province, near Zimbabwe. And it is in
these empty spaces that the Cuban doctors are eagerly welcomed.

The situation in the Eastern Cape, South Africa's poorest province, is
also desperate. Not only is there a lack of general practitioners, but
there is also a demand for teaching staff at the medical school of the
Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha. A total of 32 Cuban specialists are
currently attached to the medical school.

Karuna Krihanlal-Gopal, the acting director of marketing, communications
and development at the university, says that the Cuban doctor-trainers
"certainly bring a wealth of experience [to South Africa], having worked
in similarly challenging circumstances prior to arriving in the country.
They are also very dedicated teachers."

In 2007 Cuban doctors with 10 years experience or more who work in South
African government hospitals and institutions were paid about 3,800 to
4,400 dollars per month, according to figures released by the DA.
Relatively speaking, this might seem like a lot, compared to salaries in
Cuba, but South African doctors emigrating to work in Europe, North
America or the Antipodes could often treble their salaries by practicing

According to Radebe, several doctors have in the past opted to obtain
permanent residency and citizenship in South Africa.

According to the government-to-government agreement, South Africa has
also sent hundreds of medical students to Cuba to be trained there. From
1996 to 2007, 470 South Africans had been trained there.

Radebe says that there are many programmes to retain doctors in the
South African public health system -- "revitalising of hospitals to
provide a better clinical environment for health professionals,
improving their conditions of service within the allocated budgets,
providing better career progression and remuneration dispensations,
providing specialist training, investing in new technologies and
improving clinical management."

There are many suggestions on the table. But implementing them is
another matter. Meanwhile, Cuban doctors are fulfilling a crucial role
in plugging the hole left by South African doctors who are either
unwilling to work in far- flung areas or who are themselves seeking
greener pastures overseas.


NY delegation puts out nice spread during Cuba trip

Monday, April 28, 2008 - 9:37 AM EDT
NY delegation puts out nice spread during Cuba trip
The Business Review (Albany)

During a recent trip to Cuba, a delegation of 19 New York farmers and
agricultural leaders put on a "Pride of New York" dinner.

New York Agriculture Commissioner Paul Hooker led the delegation of New
York farmers to Cuba in the state's first trade mission to the country
from April 21-23.

The delegation included: Kevin King of Empire State Forest Products in
Rensselaer; John Cushing of New York Apple Sales in Castleton; and Lloyd
Zimmerman of Black Horse Farm Inc. of Coxsackie.

The goal of the trip was to encourage the export of New York fruits and
vegetables to Cuba.

"As part of the trade mission, it is customary to host [a] dinner for
the Cubans one night," Hooker said. "So, instead of hosting a Cuban-made
dinner at a local Havana restaurant, we organized a Pride of New York
dinner that allowed the Cubans to not only meet our growers and
producers, but to taste for themselves the finest product in New York

Voorheesville chef A.J. Jayapal, who is the executive chef at the Albany
Country Club, served his guests wine from Fairport, Monroe County; a
Schoharie Valley vegetable medley, and New York marinated beef. Gift
bags included pancake mix from New Hope Mills in Auburn, Cayuga County;
onions from NY Bold LLC in Fulton, Oswego County; and baseball bats from
Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. in Dolgeville, Herkimer County.

New York is one of 26 states that have organized traded missions to
Cuba. Since 2000, U.S. companies have been allowed to sell agricultural,
food and medical products to the island. Cuba has purchased $2.7 billion
worth of agriculture and food products from U.S. companies in the past
seven years.


Pensioners and court employees to receive the first pay hikes in three years

Pensioners and court employees to receive the first pay hikes in three years
Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
7:35 AM EDT, April 28, 2008


Cuba's new government on Sunday announced raises for pensioners and
court employees, the first pay hikes in three years.

Beginning next month, more than 2.1 million retirees will receive
pension increases of about $2 a month, raising minimum monthly pensions
to about $9.50, the government said in a statement published in the
state-run press. Some retirees will see their monthly benefits increase
to about $19.

Additionally, more than 9,000 court employees will receive raises of
about $10 a month, with judges and prosecutors getting monthly raises of
roughly $18, the statement said.

The announcement, made days before International Workers Day on May 1,
promised additional pay hikes with better economic times.

"It is not possible to increase salaries to all labor sectors, given
that the country does not have the necessary resources," the statement
said. "Increases will be granted by sector and priority, always after a
rigorous evaluation of economic and financial conditions."

State wages are mainly paid in pesos, even though that state sells many
goods and services in hard currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, the
convertible peso, which is worth 24 times more than the peso.

About 90 percent of the communist island's economy is controlled by the
state, which employs the majority of the country's 11 million
inhabitants and provides all pensions.

Raul Castro, who officially took over the Cuban presidency last February
from his ailing brother Fidel, has said that state salaries are barely
enough to live on. Most Cubans live rent-free and the state provides
free education, health care and rations cards for some food.


Los cubanos se quejan del costo de vida

29-04-2008 | 11:32

Los cubanos se quejan del costo de vida

El gobierno de Raúl Castro dio otro paso en su política de cambios y
ajustes económicos en Cuba al aumentar las jubilaciones y anunciar un
alza salarial gradual, pero la población reclama medidas urgentes que
eliminen la brecha abismal entre el costo de vida y los sueldos.


La medida beneficiará a los jubilados que reciben hasta 400 pesos
mensuales (17 dólares) y, en el caso de la pensión mínima crecerá 20%,
de 164 a 200 pesos (de 6,8 a 8,3 dólares).
A Norma, de 73 años, la pensión le subirá de 265 a 305 pesos (de
11,9 a 13,7 dólares), y aunque acogió como «buena» la decisión, lamentó
que «todo está muy caro y eso resuelve muy poco». «Yo no tengo, a
diferencia de muchos cubanos, familia afuera que me envíe dinero, así
que tengo que inventar aquí para conseguir la divisa. Veo buena
intención de Raúl en aumentar los salarios y la chequera (pensión),
pero no alcanza para terminar el mes», dijo Norma, una anestesióloga
que ahora se busca la vida haciendo masajes.

El Estado cubano controla un 90% de la economía y paga a sus empleados
en moneda local, con un salario promedio de 408 pesos (17 dólares).
Algunos reciben incentivos mensuales entre 10 y 30 pesos en efectivo.
Los cubanos cuentan con servicios de educación y salud gratuitos, pagan
bajísimos alquileres, y tienen con la «libreta (cartilla)» productos de
la canasta básica a precios subsidiados. Sin embargo, los alimentos
regidos por la libreta resultan insuficientes y la población debe
comprar muchos productos en CUC, la divisa cubana, 24 veces superior al
peso cubano.

Evangelina, pensionada de 67 años, dice escandalizarse cuando ve los
precios en las tiendas donde se compra con divisas. Raúl Castro,
comenzó a eliminar el exceso de prohibiciones y limitaciones a los
cubanos, permitiéndoles el acceso a hoteles, la compra de computadores,
DVD y microondas y contratar telefonía celular.


Reformas a la cubana?

¿Reformas a la cubana?

Con el ascenso de Raúl Castro a la presidencia de los consejos de estado
y de ministros, comenzó la eliminación de prohibiciones absurdas, un
proceso que podría constituir la antesala de mayores transformaciones.
El nuevo presidente hereda una economía destruida, con graves problemas
sociales, políticos, demográficos y medioambientales, enmarcados en una
crisis aparentemente interminable y un proceso de involución al que no
escapan valores espirituales, ni avances logrados en la salud, la
educación y la seguridad social.
Al pragmático Raúl Castro, no le queda otra opción que brindar alivio y
esperanzas a la población, mediante objetivos sólo alcanzables con
reformas fundamentalmente económicas, que inevitablemente tendrán
efectos políticos y sociales. La experiencia muestra que los cambios
generan la necesidad de nuevos cambios.
Por primera vez son vendidos ordenadores y otros equipos electrónicos;
se facilita el acceso a la telefonía móvil; se permite el hospedaje en
hoteles y la renta de automóviles, y se han abierto tiendas
especializadas en implementos agrícolas. Todo pagado en pesos
convertibles (CUC), divisa que no posee gran parte de la población;
problema sin solución a corto plazo, pues depende de transformaciones
más profundas indispensables para aumentar la eficiencia laboral, y
consecuentemente el salario real.
Además se normaliza la posesión legal de viviendas de miles de
ciudadanos, que eran medios básicos de organismos del Estado; se
eliminan las restricciones para que los trabajadores reciban los
salarios en función de su aporte laboral, sin limitaciones
cuantitativas; se habla, sin suficientes detalles, sobre la entrega
masiva de tierras para cultivar en usufructo, así como el traslado a
nivel municipal de las decisiones en el sector agropecuario.
Aunque nada muestra una voluntad de cambios políticos, puede observarse
interés por crear una mejor imagen al régimen dentro y fuera de Cuba.
Así, disminuyó relativamente la propaganda política y los actos masivos
son menos y más breves. La televisión tiene una carga ideológica
inferior, sin los largos discursos que interrumpían la programación.
Días después de asumir Raúl Castro, se firmaron los Pactos
Internacionales de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, y Económicos, Sociales
y Culturales, que deberán ser ratificados por la Asamblea Nacional y
cumplidos, algo dudoso para muchas personas.
En cuanto al respeto a los derechos humanos no ha habido avances
significativos. La represión se mantiene y todo el andamiaje está listo
para ser utilizado. Los presos políticos liberados, por lo regular, han
cumplido sus penas, y de los 75 llevados a prisión en marzo de 2003, 55
permanecen encarcelados en condiciones infrahumanas, con la
contradicción de que las máximas autoridades al reconocer los graves
problemas existentes, coinciden con los planteamientos que llevaron a
prisión a estos prisioneros de conciencia.
Hay elementos indicativos de que el Gobierno trata de abrirse al mundo y
reducir la dependencia de Venezuela. Las visitas del presidente Lula da
Silva, los acuerdos económicos con Angola y los gestos amistosos hacia
México y otros países así lo indican. Incluso el presidente cubano ha
manifestado el deseo de mejorar las relaciones con Estados Unidos
después de las elecciones de noviembre próximo.
Las tareas que deberá realizar el general Raúl Castro son muy
complicadas, máxime cuando existen sectores en el partido y el gobierno
opuestos a los cambios. Pero la dinámica hacía la apertura es
inevitable. No comprenderlo podría empujar al país a la inestabilidad
con consecuencias imprevisibles.


lunes, 28 de abril de 2008

La rusa Volga-Dnepr examina la posibilidad de crear un nudo de transporte en Cuba

La rusa Volga-Dnepr examina la posibilidad de crear un nudo de
transporte en Cuba

"El grupo ruso Volga-Dnepr, empresa líder en el mercado internacional
del transporte de mercancías superpesadas o de gran tamaño, examina la
posibilidad de crear en Cuba un nudo para el transporte de carga después
del año 2011, informó el lunes un portavoz de esta entidad. Varios
expertos de Volga Dnepr estuvieron en La Habana a finales de marzo
pasado y mantuvieron negociaciones con sus colegas de Cubana de Aviación
y AeroVaradero. Entre otras cosas, se acordó formar un grupo de trabajo
conjunto para analizar a fondo el mercado del transporte aéreo de carga
desde ambas Américas a Europa Occidental, Medio Oriente, Rusia y otros
miembros de la Comunidad de Estados Independientes (CEI)".

"El estudio permitirá calcular hasta qué punto serían rentables tales
operaciones, si se llevaran a cabo a través de un nudo del transporte de
carga a instalarse sobre la base del aeropuerto José Martí de La Habana.
En función de los resultados se va a confeccionar un plan de negocio
para decidir, hacia el año 2011, si se crea o no tal nudo".

Ria Novosti, Rusia
28 de abril de 2008


As Cuba gets busy, Canada misses out

As Cuba gets busy, Canada misses out
April 28, 2008 at 7:24 AM EDT

MONTREAL — If Communist Cuba is open for business - as its seems like
never before to be under new president Raul Castro - then Canadian
companies should be the first through the door, right?

After all, Pierre Trudeau became the first leader of a NATO country to
visit the communist island in 1976. Jean Chrétien paid a follow-up visit
to Fidel Castro a decade ago, just after passing legislation to protect
Toronto-based Cuba booster Sherritt International Corp. from any nasty
spillover in this country from the anti-Cuba U.S. Helms-Burton Act.

With that history of Cuban-Canadian complicity, Raul Castro's stepped-up
efforts to court foreign investment to develop the island's oil, power
and tourism sectors should mean dividends for Los Canadienses.

Not quite. Not only are Canadian businesses not first in line as Cuba
opens up, not many outside Sherritt appear to be in line at all.

And even if they were, they'd risk being trampled by more quick-footed
contenders - those erstwhile Cuba-bashers, Los Yankis.

Behind the scenes, American business lobbies have been increasing
pressure on their government to ease or lift the 47-year-old U.S. trade
embargo. There's one reason for that: oil.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates almost five billion barrels of oil
and almost 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie below Cuban waters
in the Gulf of Mexico - enough to make Cuba energy independent for a while.

So far, oil companies from Spain, Norway, Malaysia, Brazil, Vietnam and
India have all struck deals with the regime to explore for oil in Cuban

But exploration rights for more than half of Cuba's 59 deep-water blocks
have yet to be awarded by Mr. Castro's government, and U.S. oil giants
want in.

A shifting political tide in the U.S., with the election of a new
president in November and a waning of anti-Castro sentiment even among
Cuban-Americans in Florida, means the U.S. oil firms just might get
their wish. An easing of the embargo appears inevitable, according to
Cuban-born energy consultant Jorge R. Pinon, "I think that script has
already been written, even if we don't know for sure yet who the
[political] actors will be."

Mr. Pinon, a former BP PLC executive and currently a professor at the
Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami, added: "If
Canadian businesses wait to read on the front page of the newspaper that
the U.S. has lifted the embargo, they are going to lose opportunities."

In fact, they are already losing out in at least one sector of the Cuban

Under an eight-year-old exemption from the embargo, U.S. grain growers
saw sales to Cuba soar to more than $400-million (U.S.) in 2007. Mr.
Pinon expects them to nearly double this year.

Canada remains among Cuba's biggest trading partners, with two-way trade
totalling about $1.6-billion (Canadian) last year. But foodstuffs
accounted for little of Canada's $564-million in exports to the island,
which consisted largely of machinery and equipment.

As a result, U.S. exports to Cuba are on track to surpass Canada's this
year, likely the first time that has happened since the 1959 communist
revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

Mr. Pinon expects whoever wins the White House in November to extend an
olive branch to Cuba, since pressure to do so from within the U.S.
Congress has been growing.

In particular, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, whose state could
profit from relaxed rules governing agricultural exports to Cuba, has
called Raul Castro's recent economic reforms an opportunity to "get our
Cuba policy right by easing trade and travel restrictions." His
sentiments have been echoed by governors in other grain-growing states.

Canadian businesses, meanwhile, seem strangely complacent. Mr. Pinon
said he was surprised to see so few Canadian business representatives at
the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank, held earlier
this month in Miami, while business people from other countries were
keen to talk to him about opportunities in Cuba.

"Outside of Sherritt International, I haven't seen any other Canadian
companies positioning themselves for when Cuba opens up. But there are
many U.S. companies that I know of who are planning to get in through
joint ventures with [companies from other countries] to avoid being seen
as carpetbaggers in Cuba." In addition, a slew of non-U.S. consumer
goods companies have entered Cuba in the past few years through joint
ventures with the government, including Nestlé, InBev, Unilever, Pernod
Ricard and British American Tobacco. But Canadian food and beverage
makers are absent.

Junior oil producer Pebercan Inc. of Montreal and Vancouver-based
Leisure Canada Inc., which has been trying to kick-start hotel and golf
resorts in Cuba for years, are among the handful of Canadian firms
currently on the ground in Cuba.

Toronto-based Sherritt remains Canada's primary flag bearer in Cuba. It
has grown in more than a decade to become the island's biggest foreign
investor with interests in nickel mining, oil production and power
generation. It is also a minority partner with Spain's Sol Melia SA in
two Cuban hotels.

Sherritt, which has been likened to Cuba's Canadian Pacific by its
outspoken executive chairman Ian Delaney, has outlined aggressive plans
to invest more than $1-billion in Cuba in the next few years, in part to
increase the output the Moa nickel mine it owns in partnership with the
Cuban government, by almost half to 49,000 tonnes annually.

Sherritt has also set its sights on offshore oil exploration. It is
already Cuba's biggest oil producer, pumping out more than 30,000
barrels a day in 2007 in partnership with state oil company Cubapetroleo
(Cupet). The production accounts for about 15 per cent of Cuba's daily

Cuba currently gets most of its oil from Venezuela, whose anti-American
president Hugo Chavez has sold the black gold to his communist ally on
favourable terms.

But with estimates of Cuba's own offshore oil reserves pegged at more
than five billion barrels, Mr. Castro is said to be eager to develop the
resource and reduce Cuba's dependence on Mr. Chavez.

Sherritt, meanwhile, also reached a deal with the government in February
to increase the capacity of its one-third-owned gas-fired power plants
in Cuba to 526 megawatts from the current 376 MW.

Mr. Delaney developed such a close relationship with Fidel Castrothat he
was long a punching bag for the anti-Castro forces in U.S. politics. He
still cannot set foot in the United States under the 1996 Helms-Burton
Act that extended the reach of the embargo.

Fidel, 81, and Raul Castro, 76, are believed to have quarrelled over
Cuba's political and economic future. But Sherritt spokesman Michael
Minnes insisted Mr. Delaney - who often talked about the Toronto Blue
Jays with baseball fanatic Fidel - is on as good terms with the new
president as he was with the old one.

"He has a very good working relationship with Raul and Fidel. He's met
all the senior folks in the government there," Mr. Minnes said. "Raul
understands the Cuban state has to evolve to meet people's needs." So
far, the new president has shown that with a string of popular reforms
that include lifting wage limits on state salaries that currently
average less than $20 a month; allowing Cubans to own cellphones and
other electronic devices; enabling retired state workers to own their
own homes; and freeing up private farmers.

Mr. Pinon thinks it's just a taste of what Raul Castro has planned. If
Sherritt appears ready for that, other Canadienses risk missing the boat
to post-Fidel Cuba.


Lobby Against the Cuban Embargo -- for Fun and Profit

Lobby Against the Cuban Embargo -- for Fun and Profit
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, April 28, 2008

Frontpage Interview's guest today is Cuban-born Humberto Fontova, who
left Cuba in 1961 at age seven. He has written for several conservative
magazines and is the author of Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant and
Exposing the Real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him. He
has appeared on many radio and television shows and is active in the
Cuban American community.

FP: Humberto Fontova, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Fontova: Always great to be here. Thanks for the invite.

FP: I would like to discuss the matter of the Cuban embargo with you
today and how the Cuban regime employs a sophisticated network of agents
to spread lies about it -- and to loot the U.S. taxpayer.

I think a good way to start a discussion on this issue is to take a look
at the individual Phil Peters – a prominent opponent of the U.S. embargo
against Cuba . He is the vice president of the Lexington Institute in
Arlington , Va. He's been an analyst of U.S. policy toward Cuba for many
years and served as advisor to the Cuba Working Group in the House of
Representatives. He has also testified before Congressional committees
and the U.S. International Trade Commission and served as a member of
the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S.-Cuba Relations.

The Lexington Institute bills him as an impartial "free market" theorist
and former "Reagan-Bush State Dept. official."

What can you tell us about him?

Fontova: Well, Mr. Peters is unquestionably the mainstream media's top
source for sound bites on Cuba 's so called reforms and transition. He's
quoted everywhere from the Washington Post to the Miami Herald, and from
the AP to Reuters. These sound bites always -- and I mean always --
manage to include a few jabs (however subtle) at U.S policy towards Cuba .

Peters' zeal against the so-called U.S. embargo of Cuba (the U.S. is
actually Cuba's biggest food supplier and fourth biggest trade partner )
strikes many as excessive for someone with a purely intellectual stake
in the matter. Moreover, Peters snipes at all aspects of U.S. policy,
even the traditional one of accepting Cuban refugees. It's like he
follows the entire list of Castro's directives to his own captive media.

FP: Why do you think he has be become one of the mainstream media's
favorite sources for Cuba sound-bites?

Fontova: Primarily because he echoes their anti-U.S. policy viewpoint.
But he does it from the point of view of a "former Reagan-Bush State
Dept. official" and "Vice Pres of a free-market" think tank, you see. So
he's billed as being free from any leftist taint which gives his
observations and opinions a more mainstream cachet than if they issued
from, say, Noam Chomsky or Saul Landau.

FP: What do you think explains the fact that he is a frequent guest of
the Cuban regime -- which rolls out the red carpet for him?

Fontova: Cuba 's Stalinist rulers are not overly keen on hosting anyone
who will alert the outside world to their high-living and repression,
and they have various methods of making it worthwhile for their guests
to cooperate in the cover-up.

A year ago, reporters Gary Marx of The Chicago Tribune, Stephen Gibbs of
the BBC, and César González-Calero, of the Mexican newspaper El
Universal, were all booted from Cuba . The regime cited their "lack of
objectivity" for the booting. And it's not like they were reporting on
Raul or Fidel in the manner Dan Rather and Sam Donaldson, for instance,
reported on Ronald Reagan or George Bush--much less Richard Nixon. These
reporters seemed to take their job titles seriously and deviated
somewhat from the normally subservient and lame style of reporters and
press agencies who are granted Havana bureaus.

Here's another case: a few months back, an ABC producer got videos
smuggled out of Cuban hospitals by Cuban dissidents enraged by Michael
Moore's Sicko propaganda. These videos showed the actual and horrible
conditions in non-Potemkin Cuban hospitals and ABC's 20/20 planned a
show using them to refute Michael Moore's puff piece on Cuban
healthcare. The Castro regime got word of this, called in ABC's Havana
Bureau, threatened them, and ABC caved in. I'm proud to report that I
notified Fox News of these videos, gave them the contact and Hannity &
Colmes got their hands on them. Within days Hannity (probably to the
horror of Colmes) went to bat for the truth, featuring the
myth-shattering videos prominently on their show.

In fact the Cuban regime has a policy whereby most official U.S.
visitors to Cuba-- be they Congressmen, businessmen, academics--are
urged to become spokespersons against the so-called embargo. Some really
take this role to heart. We saw it in the case of Republican Senator
from Idaho Larry Craig after his first visit to Cuba in 2003 to peddle
homegrown Idaho potatoes, which I realize is part of his job. But he
went above and beyond the call of duty, exchanging smiles, handshakes
and gifts with Fidel himself. Back home he promptly began denouncing his
Republican party's Cuba policy and sponsoring legislation in conjunction
with such as Charles Rangel, against the so-called embargo. Material
incentives accounts for much of this--but so does blackmail.

"My job was to bug the hotel rooms of U.S. celebrities and officials,"
revealed high-ranking Cuban intelligence defector Delfin Fernandez,
"with both cameras and listening devices. Most people have no idea they
are being watched while they are in Cuba . But their personal activities
are filmed under orders from Castro himself."

"I always warned visiting Americans about this" told me a former U.S.
official assigned to the U.S. Interest Office in Havana . "One visitor
scoffed at me. Next night he's in his hotel room, hears a loud thump in
the closet, opens the door and finds someone who'd tumbled out of a
little elevated compartment with many wires. The intruder almost bowled
him over while rushing out of the room. That sure made a believer out of

It's painful to contemplate, but due to the desperation of it's
subjects, Cuba has become a rival to Bangkok in the vacation plans of
people with certain tastes, so the opportunities for regime blackmail
are enormous, and Cuba's Intelligence services, founded and trained by
the KGB and East German STASI, exploit these opportunities expertly.
Fernandez admits to bugging Jack Nicholson's, Leo Di Caprio's and Naomi
Campbell's rooms, among many others. He defected before Larry Craig's
visit so there's absolutely no proof of anything. But given Craig's
recent problems, some people can't help but wonder.

FP: As you mentioned earlier, Phil Peters is an advisor to the
Congressional "Cuba Working Group." Can you tell us more about this
Congressional caucus?

Fontova: In brief, they devote all of their energies to trying to end
the so-called Cuban Embargo. This has been the regime's priority for
decades but with much more urgency after the Soviet Union 's collapse.
The Cuba Working Group obviously doesn't have to register as a foreign
lobbying group which is what makes them so attractive as partners to
Cuba 's Stalinist rulers.

Charles Rangel is among the most active in this group, which is
interesting considering his traditional activism FOR embargoes. "Every
dollar we spend with (this regime) makes us accomplices in their
crimes!" he thundered in 1986. "No true friend of democracy can also be
a friend of (this regime!) In any business dealings with (this regime)
we become tainted by association!"

Rangel was referring, of course, to South Africa 's segregationist
regime. Somehow none of these moral admonitions apply when dealing with
a Stalinist regime that imprisoned political prisoners at roughly ten
times the rate as Botha's, used Sarin gas against Angolan villagers, and
came closest to nuking the U.S.

And please allow me explain why I keep saying "so-called" embargo. As
mentioned, the U.S is currently Cuba 's biggest food supplier and 4th
biggest trade partner. A few months back, trade delegations from 27 of
our 50 states attended a trade fair in Cuba and signed business deals
with Cuba 's Stalinist regime. In 2007 the U.S, sold almost half a
billion dollars worth of goods to Cuba -- for cash."

That last point is the rub with the Castro regime and with its agents
(on the payroll on and off) in the U.S. And accounts for much of the
recent hoopla about an "opening" to Cuba .

FP: So then the "so-called" embargo is completely misunderstood in the

Fontova: Whoo-boy. It's enormously misunderstood by the general public.
But it's perfectly understood by such as the Lexington Institute, the
Cuban Working Group and their cabal of well-heeled allies such as Archer
Daniels Midland, the Carlyle Group, Canada's Sherritt International,
etc., hence their campaign—with of rager aid of the MSM—to disguise it's
genuine nature and rationale. To hear these groups, us embargo
proponents are blockheaded, selfish, close-minded, blind to reason, etc.
whereas embargo opponents are uniformly motivated by altruism, common
sense, etc. Fine, let's look at a few of these altruists and the
observable evidence.

The notion of opening the floodgates to free travel and trade with Cuba
has obvious appeal to some conservatives. It sounds like a logical
capitalistic method to undermine Cuba 's Communism, a stealth solution.
And it sounds eminently reasonable and works flawlessly--on scholarly
panels and in think-tank position papers. Sadly this dogmatic position
blows up completely in light of the abundant evidence showcased by
recent history. Conservatives have traditionally defined their
viewpoints as based on evidence, unlike leftists who cling to (untested
or repeatedly refuted) dogma.

FP: What's the evidence?

Fontova: Well, the evidence is already in on this "free-market" solution
to Cuban Communism. Those floodgates have been long open. Cuba has been
doing business with practically every nation on earth for decades and
for the past fifteen years five to ten times as many tourists have been
visiting Cuba annually as visited Cuba during the 1950's when she was
billed a "tourist playground."


Cuba is as essentially Stalinist today as she was thirty years ago. Cuba
's major industries, primarily tourism, are owned by Raul Castro and his
military cronies, who pocket almost every euro, dollar, peso, etc. spent
in Cuba . In brief, they have a nice racket going and no conceivable
incentive to disrupt it, especially as more lucre flows in.

On the other hand, because of that U.S. Embargo (back when it had
teeth), the Soviets were forced to pour the equivalent of almost ten
Marshall plans into Cuba . Many analysts are convinced that this played
at least a role in the Soviet's financial collapse in 1990, which freed
Eastern Europe . Cuba might have also freed itself, but for the
emergency and massive transfusion, starting in 1991, of millions (and
shortly billions) in tourist money—all of it going straight into regime

The current U.S "embargo" of Cuba amounts to little more than a limited
travel ban plus: no U.S. Export- Import Bank financing of any sales to
the current rulers of Cuba. In other words: no taxpayer bailout for
politically-connected millionaires entering into business deals with
known deadbeats and thieves (and mass-murdering Stalinists). Currently,
ADM and every other agricultural company in the U.S. is perfectly free
to sell Cuba whatever they want. The embargo simply protects the U.S.
taxpayer from being left holding the bag from credit sales to Cuba gone
bad—which is the international norm.

Last year, one of the worlds most respected economic forecasting firms,
the London- based Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked Cuba as virtually
the world's worst country business-wise. Only Iran and Angola ranked
lower. This firm predicts that Cuba 's abysmal business climate will
remain that way for the next five years, at the very least.

Dun & Bradstreet also rates Cuba among the world's worst, right below
Belarus . Moody's rating is off the bottom of the chart as "very poor."
Their reasoning: Standard & Poors refuses even to rate Cuba , regarding
the economic figures released by the regime as utterly bogus.

Today Cuba 's foreign debt, including to the former Soviet Union ,
exceeds $40 billion. In 1986 Cuba defaulted on most of its foreign debt
to Europe . France 's version of the U.S. government's Export- Import
Bank, (named COFACE recently cut off Cuba 's credit line. Mexico 's
BANCOMEX recently did likewise. This came about because the Castro
regime stuck it to French taxpayers for $175 million and to Mexican
taxpayers for $365 million. Bancomex was forced to impound Cuban assets
in three different countries in an attempt to recoup its losses. Just
last week, one of the Cuban regime's best friends, South Africa was also
forced to cut them off. Here's part of the AFP story: "Given the
assessment of Cuba's debt position," Said South African Minister, Themba
Maseko, "we are of the view that Cuba was not in a position to meet its
obligations in the forseeable future." Cuba stuck it to the Export
Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (South African taxpayers)
for $117 million, dating back to 1996.

Yet the Cuba Working Group more trade with Cuba—on Cuba's terms—will be
a boon and blessing to the U.S.

In 1998 an anti-embargo lobbying group called Americans for Humanitarian
Trade with Cuba found Archer Daniels Midland Chief, Dwayne Andreas, on
its board. Also on the Board of this AHTC sat David Rockefeller of the
Council on Foreign Relations and Frank Carlucci, at the time chairman of
The Carlyle Group, the worlds biggest private investment corporation,
which is headquartered on Washington DC 's Pennsylvania avenue . Carlyle
Group is widely regarded as the most politically-connected corporation
in the world.

George Soros was among it's founders and major investors. The groups
"mission statement" read: "We can no longer support a policy (U.S.
policy towards Cuba) carried out in our name which causes suffering of
the most vulnerable -- women, children and the elderly."

A few years later something called the U.S.-Cuban Trade and Economic
Council, burst upon and scene. Lo and behold, Dwayne Andreas sat as
Chairman. Follow the money trail and most of these names keep popping up
on practically everything associated with easing the Cuban "embargo."
Somebody sees dollar signs and it's not the U.S. Taxpayer.

Also significant, in a recent interview, Robert Eringer, the author of
"Ruse: Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence" says Cuban "diplomats"
from their Interest Section office in Washington D.C. tried recruiting
him to spy on and spread malicious rumors on Cuban-American leaders who
support the embargo. "They promised me exclusive business opportunities
in Cuba as a bribe", he reports.

FP: Let's get back to Peters. A recently uncovered legal memo has
revealed that Peters receives some funding from some curious places. Can
you give us the story here? And tell us exactly what this memo is.

Fontova: A little background first: Sherritt International is a
Canadian-based mining company that in a joint-venture with Cuba 's
regime, occupies and operates the Moa nickel mining plant in Cuba 's
Oriente province. This plant (worth $90 million) was stolen at gunpoint
from its U.S. managers and stockholders in July 1960 by Castro gunmen.
According to U.S. law this means any investment by Sherritt in the U.S.
could be subject to seizure to compensate for Sherritt trafficking in
stolen U.S. property. This obviously discomfits. Sherrit and they yearn
to lobby against these laws. But obviously can't do so openly and legally.

This legal memo is by a Washington D.C attorney who specializes in
property claims against the Cuban regime and emerged as part of a court
case discovery: " Canada 's Sherritt works quietly in Washington ," it
reads. "It has given money to a former State Department employee, Phil
Peters, to advance its interests. The money to Peters goes through
contributions to the Lexington Institute, where Peters is a
Vice-President. Because the Lexington Institute is a 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit, there is no public record of Sherritt's funding. This
has allowed Peters to advise and direct the Cuba Working Group (a
Congressional anti-embargo cabal) in ways beneficial to Sherritt while
presenting himself to the Group as an objective think-tank scholar with
a specialization in Cuba ."

Adding more suspicions are the "free-market" Lexington Institute's
consistently curious priorities. For instance, the U.S. government and
various states ban U.S. oil companies from drilling in thousands upon
thousands of square miles off the U.S. Coast. These areas, primarily on
the outer Continental Shelf, hold an estimated 115 billion barrels of
oil and 633 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. By government decree
Alaska 's National Wildlife Refuge, holding an estimated 10.4 billion
barrels of recoverable oil, is also off limits to oil drilling. This
leaves America 's energy needs increasingly at the mercy of foreign
autocrats, despots and maniacs.

For various reasons all U.S. based free-market think-tanks, from CATO to
Heritage and from the American Enterprise Institute to the Independence
Institute, bemoan this drilling ban and proselytize against it. Yet the
Washington D.C. based Lexington Institute (champion of "free-markets and
limited government") remains utterly mute on the issue.

On the other hand, the U.S government bans U.S. oil companies from
drilling in a small area 45 miles off the Florida coast that contains no
more than 9.3 billion barrels of oil. The Lexington Institute (who
claims interest only in issues that constitute "national priorities")
promptly comes to the fore in high dudgeon, calling this ban "an
absurdity" and claiming that most U.S. Oil co's would agree with them.

Why the discrepancy, some might ask?

Possible answer: In 1977 this small area off Florida called the North
Cuban Basin –though as near the Florida coast as others proscribed for
drilling by U.S. law and thus presenting the identical environmental
risks—was ceded by then President Jimmy Carter to Fidel Castro as his
"Exclusive Economic Zone." Therefore the fruits of any oil exploration
in this area would result from joint-ventures with Cuba 's Stalinist
regime which would promptly enrich its coffers (and perhaps some others.)

The perils of depending on repressive and/or unstable foreign regimes
for our energy is often cited as a pressing rationale for U.S. energy
independence. Any oil found in Cuba 's "Exclusive Economic Zone" would
belong to the regime that craved and came closest to nuking America 's
biggest cities. "My dream is to drop three atomic bombs on New York City
," confessed Raul?not Fidel?Castro to revolutionary comrade Faure
Chaumont in July 1960.

The U.S. Dept of Defense estimates that 40 thousand foreign guerrillas
and terrorists-- from Al Fatah, to the Sandinistas, to El Salvador's
FMLF, to the Tupamaros to the Weather Underground to the IRA and Spain's
ETA to Colombia's FARC?got their training, motivation and many of the
tools of their trade in Cuba. "Thanks to Fidel Castro, we are now a
powerful army, not a hit and run band." boasted Colombian FARC chieftan
Manuel "Tiro-Fijo" Maralunda in January 1999.

How buying Castro's oil would make us safer than buying it (for the time
being) from Hugo Chavez or Saudi princes mystifies many outside the
Lexington Institute.

But, again, see "possible answer" above for explanation.

FP: So what are your conclusions?

Fontova: Recall the U.N.--applied (and U.S. instigated) embargo against
Saddam's regime after the first Gulf War. Recall the heart-rending
stories of innocent Iraqi children perishing in agony from the lack of
food and medicine thus engendered.

Then recall the U.N. "Oil For Food Scandal" and how the sources for many
of those heart-rending stories were all scurrying for cover and
shielding their faces as a spotlight exposed the scandal's malodorous
money trail. Sadly it took Saddam's toppling to expose the stinking
mess. A pungent whiff from the "Lobby Against the Cuban Embargo for Fun
and Profit" scandal is already wafting through.

FP: Thank you for joining us Humerto Fontova.

Fontova: Thank you Jamie.


NDA, soybean officials work on deal to send Soybeans to Cuba

NDA, soybean officials work on deal to send Soybeans to Cuba


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Nebraska
Soybean Board to find sources ofSoybeansin the state for shipment to Cuba.

NDA and Soybean Board officials returned from a trade mission to Cuba
recently, where the purchase of significant quantities of
NebraskaSoybeanswas discussed with representatives of the Cuban import
authority, Alimport. NDA Director Greg Ibach said talks with Cuban
officials are ongoing and plans are being formulated to sellSoybeansfrom
farmer-owned cooperatives in Nebraska.

"I am pleased that Cuban officials are considering NebraskaSoybeansfor
this significant contract," said Ibach. "We look forward to facilitating
discussions in order to complete the deal. One of our immediate tasks is
to identify businesses that can source Nebraska soybeans."

Producers, producer cooperatives and other businesses that are
interested in selling Nebraska-sourcedSoybeansto Cuba should contact the
Nebraska Soybean Board at 402-441-3240.

Gregg Fujan, chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board and Weston farmer,
said Cuba currently purchases approximately 660,000 bushels
ofSoybeansper month from the United States. Fujan said under the plan
being negotiated, theseSoybeanswould be sourced from Nebraska, moved by
train to the Gulf of Mexico and loaded on ships bound for Cuba.

"This represents a great opportunity for Nebraska farmers to develop
direct access to the Cuban market," Fujan said.

Soybean Board member Greg Anderson said Cuba annually purchases 216,000
metric tons of soybeans. "This represents over 3 percent of Nebraska's
annual production," Anderson said. He said theSoybeansare processed in
Santiago, Cuba, and used throughout the country for poultry and
livestock feed.

Ibach said the ongoing negotiations forSoybeansreflect Governor Dave
Heineman's goal of establishing a long-term trading partnership with Cuba.

"The relationship that has been forged with Alimport will help ensure
these types of opportunities for the future," Ibach said.

Date: 5/3/07


Qatari Diar to Build Five-Star Cuban Resort, Plans Three More

Qatari Diar to Build Five-Star Cuban Resort, Plans Three More
By Will McSheehy | Bloomberg News
6:56 AM EDT, April 28, 2008

Qatari Diar Real Estate Development Co., a unit of the Gulf state's
sovereign wealth fund, said it will spend $70 million building a
five-star resort in Cuba with the Caribbean island's government.

Qatari Diar and state-owned Gran Caribe plan to build a 200-room hotel
and 60 villas at Cayo Largo, the Arab company said in an e-mailed
statement today. They have also identified three more sites in Cuba for
future development, the statement said, without being more specific.


El gobierno decreta un aumento en las pensiones y algunos salarios

El gobierno decreta un aumento en las pensiones y algunos salarios


lunes 28 de abril de 2008 12:10:00

El gobierno aumentó hasta un 20% las pensiones y decretó un incremento
salarial de hasta un 55% en el sistema judicial, pero advirtió que
nuevas subidas deberán esperar y se harán "de manera gradual y
diferenciada", informó la AFP.

Un comunicado oficial, publicado este domingo en el diario Juventud
Rebelde, indicó que el aumento afecta a las pensiones que están por
debajo de 400 pesos mensuales (16,6 dólares), y sube la jubilación
mínima de 164 pesos (6,8 dólares) a 200 pesos (8,3 dólares).

La medida es "en justo reconocimiento" a los que "dedicaron gran parte
de su vida al trabajo (...) y que hoy se mantienen firmes defendiendo"
el socialismo, dijo la nota oficial.

El gobierno también aprobó un aumento salarial de hasta un 55% a
trabajadores de los tribunales y la fiscalía por su labor "contra el
delito, las indisciplinas y conductas antisociales", e incrementó la
ayuda social a las familias necesitadas en 25 pesos (poco más de un
dólar), por lo que la cuota mínima sube de 122 a 147 pesos (de 5 a 6,1

Las subidas entrarán en vigor a partir de mayo, alcanzarán a cerca de
dos millones de personas y significan un costo anual de 810 millones de
pesos (más de 32 millones de dólares), según los cálculos oficiales.

"Los incrementos salariales y de las pensiones se irán realizando de
manera gradual y diferenciada, por sectores y prioridades, avanzando
progresivamente, de acuerdo con las posibilidades económicas del país",
dijo el gobierno en su comunicado.

Añadió que "actualmente no resulta posible aplicar a todos los sectores
laborales el incremento salarial, ya que el país no dispone en estos
momentos de los recursos necesarios".

El salario medio mensual en Cuba es de 408 pesos (17 dólares). La
anterior alza de salarios y pensiones se aplicó en 2005.

Al asumir formalmente el poder, el 24 de febrero pasado, Raúl Castro
anunció la intención de "ir incrementando de modo paulatino los ingresos
y ahorros de la población, en especial de quienes reciben menos".

Esos aumentos, estarían concebidos en la estrategia general de "lograr
que el salario recupere su papel y el nivel de vida de cada cual esté en
relación directa con los ingresos que recibe legalmente", según dijo el


viernes, 25 de abril de 2008

Corporate stakes in Cuba

April 24, 2008: 4:25 AM EDT
Corporate stakes in Cuba
Is the future brightening for U.S. pre-Castro claims?
By Telis Demos, writer-reporter

(Fortune Magazine) -- After Fidel Castro announced that he was resigning
the presidency of Cuba on Feb. 19, shares of OfficeMax rose 12%. The
reason? It has a claim worth $2.5 billion dating back to when its
property there was seized in the wake of the 1959 revolution. Similar
claims made by nearly 6,000 companies are currently valued at $20
billion, and U.S. laws require all claims to be settled before trade can
be normalized.

U.S. companies are not looking for a check, however, according to
Patrick Borchers, an international-law professor at Creighton
University, who studied the issue for USAID: "[They want] assets back or
replacement assets or development rights."

While the office-supply chain, OfficeMax (OMX, Fortune 500), no. 288 on
the 500 list, was never in business in Cuba, it came to own Cuba's
national electric company through a merger with papermaker Boise
Cascade. Boise had earlier bought a Florida company with a stake in
Cuban Electric.

Other claimants paint a picture of pre-Castro consumer life:
Colgate-Palmolive (CL, Fortune 500), maker of the island's most popular
toothpaste;Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500), whose soda machines were
ubiquitous; and GM (GM, Fortune 500), maker of the '50s-vintage cars
still being driven around the island. A predecessor of Exxon Mobil (XOM,
Fortune 500) owned an oil refinery, and Chiquita Brands (CQB, Fortune
500) bought a firm that owned fruit orchards.

One company that's been particularly interested in updating its claims
is Starwood Hotels. In 1998 the global hotel group acquired part of a
claim worth $1.4 billion when it bought a piece of the ITT conglomerate,
which had owned a radio station in Cuba. Then, in 2005, after a former
ITT manager in Cuba contacted the company, Starwood asked the Justice
Department to recognize an additional claim of $51 million worth of land
near the Havana airport and on the ocean. It was approved in 2006, but
don't book your room yet.


Implementa FAO siete proyectos en Cuba

Implementa FAO siete proyectos en Cuba

Roberto Salomón

La Habana, 24 abr (PL) La Organización de Naciones Unidas para la
Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO) ejecuta siete proyectos en Cuba, de
ellos varios relacionados con el riego, afirmó hoy el representante de
esa entidad en esta isla, Marcio Porto.

En declaraciones a Prensa Latina, el diplomático significó, además, que
Cuba es uno de los países más comprometidos con los principios y planes
de esa organización, de la que también es el principal proveedor de
recursos humanos para sus programas de cooperación Sur-Sur.

Sobre la colaboración actual con la isla, precisó que se ejecuta un
proyecto de emergencia aprobado a raíz de las afectaciones provocadas
por la tormenta Noel, de recuperación de estructuras de riego, semillas
y herramientas para las provincias orientales.

Se implementa además –añadió- un programa de agricultura de conservación
muy interesante mediante riego por goteo, en la cuenca hidrográfica

Asimismo se llevan a cabo cuatro programas Telefood, pequeños proyectos
para la producción de alimentos, financiados por las campañas de la FAO.

También se realiza un proyecto que persigue mejorar el proceso
agroindustrial para desarrollar la espirulina, la cual tiene propiedades
medicinales y nutricionales, y amplia demanda en naciones industrializadas.

Porto, de nacionalidad brasileña, destacó que Cuba es fundadora de la
FAO, entidad con la cual el archipiélago mantiene una importante
colaboración, principalmente a partir de 1959.

Esta ha sido, entre los principales aspectos, en la creación de
institutos de investigaciones, cursos de protección agrícola, uso del
agua para el riego, y empleo de amoníaco para alimento animal.

Recordó la estrecha colaboración en el desarrollo de huertos escolares y
en la esfera de la agricultura urbana, que calificó de espectacular.

Resaltó, además, que esta isla mediante la cooperación con la FAO
contribuye al desarrollo agrícola de muchos países.

Fundada el 16 de octubre de 1945, la FAO comprende hoy a más de 190
países, y recientemente fue celebrada en La Habana el 30 aniversario de
la apertura de su oficina en Cuba.




Cambios en Cuba: ¿Qué significan?

Diario Las Americas
Publicado el 04-24-2008

Cambios en Cuba: ¿Qué significan?

Por Guillermo I. Martínez

Aquellos que observan los cambios económicos y sociales que se están
dando en Cuba bajo Raúl Castro y creen que la democracia y la economía
de mercado están a la vuelta de la esquina, se exponen a un abrupto

Y los que rehúsan ver alguna significación en los cambios que siguen
produciéndose bajo el nuevo gobierno Raulista deberían quitarse las
anteojeras. Los cambios son reales pero conllevan riesgos para los
regímenes totalitarios.

Durante meses, el nuevo gobierno cubano ha estado anunciando con
regularidad los cambios. Ahora, se les permite a los cubanos adquirir
teléfonos celulares y DVDs. Podrán hospedarse en los mismos hoteles que,
hasta fecha reciente, eran solamente para turistas extranjeros y podrán
consumir en restaurantes. También, algún día podrán ser dueños de sus
casas y, pronto, podrán viajar al extranjero sin necesidad de permiso.

Los expertos dicen que hay más cambios en el camino.

Más, no miremos estos cambios a través de cristales de color de rosa.
Las posibilidades reales de que estos cambios lleguen a la mayoría de la
población cubana son muy limitadas. Los precios son demasiado caros para
el cubano promedio. Más todavía si se considera que a los cubanos en la
isla se les paga en pesos y que los nuevos bienes estarán disponibles
únicamente en pesos cubanos convertibles, lo que reduce los salarios del
cubano promedio a niveles risibles.

Pocos cubanos tendrán acceso a los nuevos artículos de consumo, a menos
que reciban dinero de sus familiares que viven fuera de la isla.

Y por supuesto, el gobierno no permitirá que ninguno de estos cambios
afecte a las políticas comunistas vigentes. Tampoco representarán ningún
cambio significativo para los prisioneros políticos o implican ningún
cambio hacia una forma de gobierno más democrática. Basta ver lo que le
hicieron a las Mujeres en Blanco que protestan pacíficamente para que
suelten a sus maridos, presos políticos todos.

El periódico oficial Granma ha publicado artículos firmados por Fidel
Castro en los que puntualiza que no le gustan los cambios que están
ocurriendo en Cuba. Reitera que ningún cambio descarrilará los
principios comunistas que prevalecen y que han gobernado a la isla
durante casi medio siglo.

Si los comentarios publicados son escritos por Fidel Castro o no son de
su autoría, es irrelevante. Si es él quien los escribe, indica que su
posición se ha debilitado debido a su precaria salud y que su influencia
se está disipando ante el pueblo, desesperado por cambiar sus
condiciones de vida.

Si los artículos son redactados por otra persona, significa que hay una
lucha interna dentro del comunismo cubano por la hegemonía y que todavía
hay sectores que quieren mantener la línea dura.

Sin embargo, las cosas están cambiando.

El ala Raulista está apostándole a la iniciativa de permitir granjas
familiares que abran nuevas opciones a los cubanos y que consolide el
control gubernamental.

Pero los cambios, aunque pequeños, la historia confirma siempre son
peligrosos para los regímenes totalitarios. No se puede dar un poquito
de libertad, del mismo modo que no se puede considerar a una mujer
encinta como que está un poquito embarazada.

Cuba ya ha recorrido esta ruta antes. A mediados de los 90, la
Administración del Presidente Clinton trató de persuadir al gobierno
cubano a abrirse un poco, permitiendo modificaciones económicas que,
eventualmente, condujeran a una sociedad más democrática.

No funcionó.

Fidel reaccionó violentamente. Hasta le dijo a un reportero de la
revista Time que había terminado de leer la autobiografía de Mikhail
Gorbachev y que le quedó claro que hasta los cambios económicos más
pequeños eran peligrosos. Según Fidel, esas innovaciones fueron
responsables de la desaparición de la Unión Soviética y su imperio.

Castro dijo de manera inequívoca que no permitiría que Cuba siguiera los
pasos de la extinta Unión Soviética. Días más tarde, ordenó el derribo
de dos pequeños aviones, piloteados por cubanos de la organización
"Hermanos al Rescate" que cruzaban el estrecho de la Florida. La
Administración Clinton tuvo que retirar sus ofertas a Cuba e imponer,
más bien, sanciones y controles más estrictos sobre la isla.

Fidel Castro tiene razón. No importa cuán pequeños o insignificantes
puedan ser los cambios. Pueden conllevar una ola de expectaciones
crecientes entre los cubanos de la isla. Una ola que puede poner en
peligro el riguroso control que el gobierno ejerce sobre la población.

Guillermo I. Martínez reside en la Florida. Su dirección electrónica es:


Crearán Cuba y Qatar empresa hotelera

Crearán Cuba y Qatar empresa hotelera
(07:15 p.m.)
Ambos países también gestionarán un hospital que será manejado por
médicos de la isla

LA HABANA.- Cuba y Qatar acordaron crear una empresa mixta de turismo y
montar en el emirato un hospital operado por médicos de la isla, dijo el
jueves la prensa cubana.

Según la agencia estatal de noticias AIN, autoridades de los dos países
suscribieron en Doha un acuerdo de asociación entre el Grupo Hotelero
Gran Caribe y la gigante estatal Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment había firmado en el 2007 un proyecto
para construir un hotel cinco estrellas por 75 millones de dólares en
Cayo Largo del Sur, el más bonito de los islotes del archipiélago cubano.

Según la agencia AIN, ambos países acordaron también abrir un hospital
en la ciudad de Dukhan, a unos 80 kilómetros al oeste de la capital Doha.

"El convenio permitirá la apertura para el próximo año de un nuevo
hospital general que será atendido completamente por especialistas
cubanos", dijo.

El turismo es una de las principales fuentes de ingreso de divisas de
Cuba. Según cifras oficiales, 2,1 millones de turistas visitaron la isla
en el 2007.

Cuba ha desarrollado en los últimos años una industria de servicios
médicos, que exporta a varios países.

Ambos países también gestionarán un hospital que será manejado por
médicos de la isla

LA HABANA.- Cuba y Qatar acordaron crear una empresa mixta de turismo y
montar en el emirato un hospital operado por médicos de la isla, dijo el
jueves la prensa cubana.

Según la agencia estatal de noticias AIN, autoridades de los dos países
suscribieron en Doha un acuerdo de asociación entre el Grupo Hotelero
Gran Caribe y la gigante estatal Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment había firmado en el 2007 un proyecto
para construir un hotel cinco estrellas por 75 millones de dólares en
Cayo Largo del Sur, el más bonito de los islotes del archipiélago cubano.

Según la agencia AIN, ambos países acordaron también abrir un hospital
en la ciudad de Dukhan, a unos 80 kilómetros al oeste de la capital Doha.

"El convenio permitirá la apertura para el próximo año de un nuevo
hospital general que será atendido completamente por especialistas
cubanos", dijo.

El turismo es una de las principales fuentes de ingreso de divisas de
Cuba. Según cifras oficiales, 2,1 millones de turistas visitaron la isla
en el 2007.

Cuba ha desarrollado en los últimos años una industria de servicios
médicos, que exporta a varios países.



Cuba autoriza la construcción de 30 nuevos hoteles, muchos de ellos gestionados por cadenas mallorquinas

Cuba autoriza la construcción de 30 nuevos hoteles, muchos de ellos
gestionados por cadenas mallorquinas
Fecha: 24/4/2008 Fuente : Europa Press

Velazco valora "muy positivamente" las inversiones mallorquinas en Cuba
y espera que "vayan en aumento"

El embajador de Cuba en España, Alberto Velazco, confirmó hoy la
intención del Gobierno cubano de autorizar y construir 30 nuevos
hoteles, muchos de los cuales podrían estar dirigidos y gestionados por
hoteleros mallorquines.

Así lo dio hoy a conocer en una reunión mantenida con el delegado del
Gobierno en Baleares, Ramón Socías, acompañado del Cónsul en Barcelona,
Carlos Castillo y la consejera María del Pilar Fernández.

El encuentro, que se enmarca en la ronda de visitas institucionales y
protocolarias que el embajador está realizando en todas las comunidades,
transcurrió en un clima de cordialidad, en el que trataron distintos
temas que afectan a las relaciones entre los dos países y,
particularmente, en todo lo referido a Baleares.

Según Velazco, destaca la "valiosa e imprescindible inversión" en la
industria turística cubana de empresarios mallorquines, por lo que
añadió que espera que "vaya en aumento en un futuro próximo".

Velazco ostenta una larga y densa trayectoria como diplomático. Graduado
en la Academia Diplomática de Moscú, desde 1962 ha desempeñado
importantes funciones en multitud de cargos de representatividad,
pasando por ser el encargado de Negocios de Cuba en la Republica
Islámica de Pakistán e Irak, o como embajador de su país en el Líbano,
Irán, Austria, y embajador representante Permanente Alterno de Cuba ante
la ONU. Velazco es Embajador de Cuba en España desde el 2005.


Deplorable estado de los ferrocarriles en Ciego de Ávila

24 de abril de 2008

Deplorable estado de los ferrocarriles en Ciego de Ávila

Oscar Ayala Muñoz, CAPI

LA HABANA, Cuba, abril (www.cubanet.org) - Un valor de chatarra es lo
único que queda de lo que en el pasado llegó a ser uno de los complejos
ferroviarios más exitoso del país: El Ferrocarril Norte de Cuba, hoy
perteneciente a la División Centro Este que abarca desde Jatibonico a
las Tunas. Establecido en la ciudad del Gallo, Morón, en la segunda
mitad de la década de 1920, aún en sus peores momentos (como se
encuentra hoy día) este continúa siendo el más importante centro
productivo en la esfera del transporte.

Al triunfar la revolución en 1959, este enorme complejo ferroviario
contaba con uno de los mejores talleres del país, dotado con tecnología
de punta y máquinas herramientas de la ultima generación correspondidas
por una fuerza de trabajo de elevada capacitación técnica, bien
remunerada y estimulada además por confortables condiciones de trabajo.
Las instalaciones de este complejo ocupan un área de unos 180 mil metros
cuadrados, correspondiendo la principal extensión a los talleres antes
mencionados, siguiéndole la majestuosa terminal de pasajeros.

Antes de 1959, los principales indicadores que caracterizaban la
eficiencia económica, del sector, los calificaba entre los mejores de
Cuba, siendo el más significativo el salario medio, que oscilaba entre
los 180 y 200 pesos - equivalente a la misma cantidad en dólares de la

En la actualidad los talleres y el patio - área de maniobra - están
totalmente desbaratados. Tanto las maquinas, herramientas e
instrumentales de todo tipo, como los elementos viales internos, han
quedado prácticamente atrapados en una tecnología propia de la década de
1950, con escasa conservación de lo que pudo avanzarse en la época de
los subsidios soviéticos.

En lo que toca a la fuerza de trabajo, el salario medio muestra un
persistente estancamiento con fuertes síntomas de deterioro en
determinados periodos, debido a la sistemática anulación de trenes y
otras interrupciones, casi siempre acarreados por falta de combustible
(a pesar de la entrada diaria de petróleo venezolano), y roturas graves
de los medios de transporte. Ahora pudiera estar fijado en unos 260
pesos moneda nacional (10 dólares aproximadamente).

A finales de 2006, el personal de talleres había sido beneficiado con
una elevación significativa en los salarios, los cuales llegaron a
alcanzar hasta 1500 pesos mensuales. Esta renovación salarial cuyo
fundamento era el sobre cumplimiento de las normas, se debió a la
identificación de esta área de trabajo con la denominada "batalla de
ideas". Esto impacto positivamente en los trabajos de reparación de los
diversos medios de transporte ferroviario, a pesar de tener un
fundamento político y representar una acción discriminatoria, ya que no
incluía al resto de los trabajadores del sector. Sin embargo, la
repentina decisión de retomar los anteriores salarios, trajo como
consecuencia una drástica reducción de la productividad y el interés de
los trabajadores por los resultados económicos - productivos.

Actualmente, los ferrocarriles de Morón sólo cuentan con cinco
locomotoras muy antiguas y deterioradas. Ahora el peso fundamental en la
transportación de personas y mercancías recae en locomotoras
pertenecientes al Ministerio del Azúcar, sector económico prácticamente
desmantelado en toda la Isla. Y lo más sorprendente de todo este asunto
es que, estos medios de transporte son operados por personal de este
sector, tal como lo establece el convenio de contratación Ferrocarriles
de Cuba - MINAZ. Ello ha significado un salario reducido o la
reubicación de obreros en otras labores.

Por lo demás, el importe del pasaje hacia los diferentes destinos
continúa siendo extremadamente caro, situación que se echa a ver todavía
mas porque el 50 por ciento de los usuarios está obligado a viajar de
pie en coches que se encuentran en muy mal estado, con baños sucios y en
ocasiones clausurados, con poca o ninguna iluminación y extremadamente
molestos por su deficiente amortiguación.

Así, se comporta actualmente una de las compañías más poderosas en Cuba,
cuando el robo al Estado no constituía una forma de sobrevivir de los


jueves, 24 de abril de 2008

El Ministerio de Comercio Exterior anuncia que la exportación de bienes creció un 27%

El Ministerio de Comercio Exterior anuncia que la exportación de bienes
creció un 27%

De acuerdo con la información oficial, el incremento se debe al aumento
del precio del níquel en el mercado mundial y a las ventas de
medicamentos y productos biotecnológicos.


miércoles 23 de abril de 2008 19:02:00

El ministro cubano de Comercio Exterior, Raúl de la Nuez, aseguró que en
2007 las ventas de bienes al exterior crecieron un 27% con respecto a
2006, según informes divulgados este miércoles por medios oficiales que
no proporcionaron las cifras totales, reportó EFE.

En un acto de concesión de premios a las mejores empresas exportadoras,
el ministro afirmó que las ventas de bienes al exterior en 2007
alcanzaron su récord de los últimos 27 años.

De acuerdo con la información oficial, el incremento se produjo sobre
todo gracias al níquel, que ha aumentado considerablemente su precio en
el mercado mundial, y a los medicamentos genéricos y biotecnológicos.


El déficit comercial sigue siendo alto, pese al aumento de las exportaciones

El déficit comercial sigue siendo alto, pese al aumento de las exportaciones

Las importaciones crecieron un 6,1%, para llegar a 10.082 millones de


jueves 24 de abril de 2008 11:58:00

AFP/ La Habana. El déficit comercial cubano cerró 2007 con 6.381
millones de dólares, a pesar de que las exportaciones crecieron un 27%,
su mayor valor de los últimos 27 años, indicaron este miércoles fuentes

El ministro de Comercio Exterior, Raúl de la Nuez, dijo que en el
crecimiento de la ventas, que llegaron a 3.701 millones, "se destaca el
níquel, beneficiado por un incremento importante de precios en el
mercado mundial, así como los medicamentos genéricos y biotecnológicos",
según la agencia oficialista Prensa Latina.

La Oficina Nacional de Estadística (ONE) precisó que en el pasado año
las importaciones de la Isla también crecieron un 6,1%, para llegar a
10.082 millones, con lo que se mantiene la brecha elevada en la balanza

En 2006, el intercambio total de bienes de Cuba con el exterior fue de
unos 12.200 millones de dólares, de los cuales cerca de 2.800
correspondieron a exportaciones y unos 9.400 a importaciones.

De la Nuez subrayó que los "modestos avances" en las ventas de 2006 a
2007 "son el resultado de estrategias y políticas aplicadas durante años
de trabajo en los sectores productivos, a fin de incrementar su oferta
exportable sobre bases competitivas".

Opinó que "quedan aún muchas reservas internas para continuar la
diversificación de las ventas al exterior".

Entre los principales rubros exportables cubanos están, además del
níquel, los medicamentos y productos de la biotecnología, el azúcar, el
tabaco, pescados y mariscos.

La ONE también informó que el comercio internacional de servicios de la
Isla —compra y venta—, incluyendo donativos, llegó en 2007 a 8.355,2
millones de dólares, para un crecimiento del 21,5%.

Cuba exporta servicios —sobre todo en salud, educación y deporte— por
más de 6.000 millones de dólares, según estimaciones.