Nowhere, But Everywhere

It’s two in the afternoon at the Department of Immigration and Aliens (DIE) on 17th Street between J and K. Dozens of people are waiting for permission to leave the country, that authorization to travel that has been given the name “white card,” although it might better be called “the safe conduct,” “the freedom card,” or “the get out of prison order.” The walls are peeling and a notice to “be careful, danger of collapse” is posted next to a huge mansion in Vedado. Several women — who have forgotten how to smile and be pleasant — wear their military uniforms and warn the public that they must wait in an orderly fashion. Now and then they shout a name and the person called returns some minutes later with a jubilant face or a strained pout.

Finally they call me to tell me of the eighth denial of permission to travel in barely three years. Specialists in stripping us of what we could live, experiment, and know beyond our borders, the officials of the DIE tell me that I am not authorized to travel “for the time being.” With this brief “no” — delivered almost with delight — I lose the opportunity to be at the 60th anniversary of the International Press Institute,  and at the presentation of the Internet for the Nobel Peace Prize in New York. A stamp on my file and I was obliged to speak by telephone in the activities of Torino European Youth Capital, and to communicate with the publisher Brûlé to launch Cuba Libre in Montreal without my presence. The absurd immigration has inserted itself between my eyes and the full shelves of the Frankfurt Book Fair, between my hands and the compilation of my texts which will see the light at the Nonfiction Literature Festival in Poland. I will not go to the Ferrara Journalism Fair nor to the presentation of the documentary in Jequié, Brazil, much less be able to participate in the Congress of Women Leading the Millennium based in Valencia, nor in Cuneo, during the City Writers event. My voice will not be hear at LASA, which sent me an official invitation, and I will have to enjoy from a distance the appearance of my book Management and Development of Contents With WordPress.

All this and more they have taken.  However, they have left me — as if it were a punishment — along with the basic raw material from which my writings come, in contact with that reality which would not forgive me were I absent.

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20 thoughts on “Nowhere, But Everywhere

  1. What would You say about illegals in USA , who compare to Cubans cannot get their refugee papers , cause they origin to democratic states.
    Other question : if Cuba becomes a democracy one day , will the immigration stop?

  2. Procesión de la Virgen de las Mercedes en Cuba con Las Damas de Blanco! Procession of Our Lady of Mercy in Cuba with the Ladies in White!!
    Ironic and Beautiful Video!Considering the choice of singer Merdedes Sosa who was an ardent communist and supporter of Castro and Che Guevara (she was Argentinian)!
    But to her credit she made the following remarks before she died on “THE MUMMY”

    “So much for my current love affair with Cuba”

    “After this unfortunate event (referring to the men executed on the ferry boat incident Remolcador 13 de Marzo ) I said ‘here my love of today’s Cuba stops,” said Sosa, and said: “I fought for Fidel in Cuba and in Miami and the rest of the world, but I think it is time to think that we should not accept everything because if we do we will fall into a dictatorship. ”

    “What happened in Cuba is the fruit of life and despair, and although I very much like Fidel and loved Che (Guevara), I understand and I can not criticize those who want to leave the island to move to States together,”she said.

    Song: Mercedes Sosa – Sólo le pido a Dios

    SOLO LE PIDO A DIOS
    words and music by Leon Gieco

    (This song simply says)
    I only ask of God He not let me be indifferent to the suffering

    Solo le pido a Dios
    Que el dolor no me sea indiferente
    Que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
    Vacio y solo sin haber echo lo suficiente

    Solo le pido a Dios
    Que lo injusto no me sea indiferente
    Que no me abofeteen la otra mejia
    Despues que una garra me arane esta frente

    Chorus:
    Solo le pido a Dios
    Que la guerra no me sea indiferente
    Es un monstro grande y pisa fuerte
    Toda la pobre inocencia de la gente
    Es un monstro grande y pisa fuerte
    Toda la pobre inocencia de la gente

    Solo le pido a Dios
    Que el engano no me sea indiferente
    Si un traidor puede mas que unos quantos
    Que esos quantos no lo olviden facilmente

    Solo le pido a Dios
    Que el futuro no me sea indiferente
    Deshauciado esta el que tiene que marchar
    A vivir una cultura diferente

  3. Simba Sez: I wonder how much of the coffee, sugar, and milk production is handled on the black market, and therefore does not appear in official reports? I suspect the crop yields may be higher than reported, yet undoubtedly far below what they could, or should, be. As long as the citizenry has no stake in the profits of higher production then it is unlikely that production will increase, or even fail to decrease. Basically it’s “What’s in it for me?”
    I had a neighbor once who was taking an old worn out water pump to his brother several states away. I asked why bother taking the aged relic? My neighbor told me his brother, a miner, had gone on strike forty years previous, and had never been called back to work so was very poor, and couldn’t afford a different pump. It seems to me this is very similar to the Cuban population. About fifty years ago their profit motive was destroyed, and they’ve never been given another opportunity. Why the population stands for this I’ll never understand?

  4. GOOD HONEST NEWS FROM CUBA, they did not blame “el monstro” to the north a/k/a los yankees for their inefficiency to produce the coffee bean. With all the modern technology and equipment invented, production 100 years ago was better than today.

  5. IF THIS IS NOT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL, OR SHOULD I SAY THE BOTTOM OF THE “CAFESITO” CUP, I DONT KNOW WHAT IS!

    BUSINESSWEEK: Cuban ’09 coffee harvest was worst in history-By WILL WEISSERT

    Adios, cafe con leche?

    Cuba — where super-strong shots of espresso are a way of life — says it had its worst coffee harvest in history last year, with production plummeting to just 5,500 tons nationwide.

    And a full-page article in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Wednesday warned that authorities will no longer fill the shortfall with imports. It said the government cannot afford to spend a projected $40 million this year and $47 million next just to keep islanders in high-octane caffeine.

    Cuba was the world’s top coffee exporter in the 1940s, Granma reported, producing a bean “that was very coveted in discerning markets.”

    As recently as the harvest of 1961-1962, Cuba produced 60,000 tons.

    The newspaper cited inefficiency and negligence as reasons for the drop in production, but did not go into detail.

    Orlando Guevara, a coffee specialist at the Agricultural Ministry, told Granma that Cuba hopes to produce at least 6,700 tons of coffee in the coming harvest that begins in October and lasts about two months. He said Cuba hopes to one day get back to 1970s’ level of 28,000 to 30,000 tons a year.

    As part of an effort to improve coffee production, Cuba recently abandoned the long-held practice of using teams of ill-trained student volunteers to harvest coffee, most of which is grown in the island’s east.

    Strong, almost tar-like espresso is most commonly served on the island in thimble-sized shots cut with copious portions of sugar. Cafe con leche is strong espresso combined with a large glass of steamed milk. Though it is famous in Cuba, it is more commonly drunk by Cubans living in the United States or elsewhere.

    But cafe con leche’s days could be numbered on the island itself. Bad news about coffee production follows a report in May that Cuba recorded its worst sugar harvest in more than a century, a scathing assessment that followed the firing of the head of an industry that was once a symbol of the nation.

    No official figures were given, but officials acknowledged there had not been “such a poor sugar campaign” since 1905, when the Cuban census reported 1.23 million tons of sugar were harvested in the 1905-1906 season.

    Communist officials have also for years attempted to jump-start the country’s foundering milk production, with only spotty results.

    All of that could mean a lot less cafe con leche.

    President Raul Castro has used every major address since taking over power from his older brother Fidel in July 2006 to stress the need to revive Cuba’s farming sector and cut back on costly imports.

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9IHLG000.htm

  6. FUNNY AND IRONIC CUBAN “SON” ABOUT THE C.D.R. “CHIVATONES” THAT ARE IN ALL THE NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND CUBA! WE CUBANS MAKE JOKES EVEN ABOUT BAD SITUATIONS!

    The CDR system was formed on September 28, 1960, following the 1959 overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by the Cuban Revolution. The slogan of the CDR is, “¡En cada barrio, Revolución!” (“In every neighborhood, Revolution!”). Fidel Castro himself proclaimed it as “a collective system of revolutionary vigilance” to report about “Who lives on every block? What does each do? What relations does each have with tyrants? To what is each dedicated? In what activities is each involved? And, with whom does each meet?”.[1]

    A 2006, Amnesty International report noted CDR involvement in repeated human rights violations that included verbal as well as physical violence.[2] Repressive CDR activity has often been euphemized as “actos de repudio” (acts of repudiation) against those targeted as “counter revolutionary.” Other opponents further indict Cuba’s CDR system of informants and accompanying control of individuals with the breakdown of the family unit and for widespread human alienation and pervasive interpersonal mistrust.

  7. IF “LA CHINA” & “THE MUMMY” WOULD RELEASE ALL THE POLITICAL PRISONERS AND LET THOSE WHO WANT TO STAY IN CUBA STAY, THEN THIS BILL WOULD SAIL THROUGH! BUT SINCE THEY ARE STILL PLAYING THE “JUEGO” THEN LET THEM STEW! OBAMA WONT LIFT ANYTHING UNTIL MORE IS DONE ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS FRONT! KUDOS FOR HIM!

    THE HILL: House panel delays action on Cuba bill-By Beth Hawley and Kwaku Duncan

    Lacking the votes necessary for passage, a House panel has postponed action on a bill that would lift travel restrictions to Cuba.

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee had scheduled a Wednesday markup on Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-Minn.) measure, which was approved by Peterson’s Agriculture panel earlier this year. But the markup on Tuesday was postponed.

    Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) has been trying to secure 24 votes on the 47-member panel to approve the bill, but an analysis by The Hill shows only 16 members have publicly committed to it.

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently indicated that if Berman’s panel approved the bill, it could be brought to the House floor either before or after the elections.

    The bill’s future is now uncertain.

    In a release on Tuesday, Berman stated, “The committee had been scheduled to consider this legislation [Wednesday], but it now appears that Wednesday will be the last day that Congress is in session before an extended district work period. That makes it increasingly likely that our discussion of the bill will be disrupted or cut short by votes or other activity on the House floor. Accordingly, I am postponing consideration of H.R. 4645 until a time when the committee will be able to hold the robust and uninterrupted debate this important issue deserves. I firmly believe that when we debate and vote on the merits of this legislation, and I intend for it to be soon, the right to travel will be restored to all Americans.”

    Easing aspects of the embargo against Cuba has bipartisan support — and bipartisan opposition. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), a rising star in the Democratic Party, is strongly opposed to relaxing U.S. policy on the Castro regime.

    Co-sponsors of the bill who sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee include Reps. Berman, Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), David Scott (D-Ga.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

    Other panel members who plan on voting yes are Reps. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).

    Committee members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) are opposed to Peterson’s bill.

    Other Republicans and Democrats on the committee declined to comment.

    President Obama supports changing U.S. policy on Cuba. In 2009, the White House administratively changed rules to make it easier for Cuban-Americans to travel back to their homeland and send money to relatives.

    Peterson’s bill, which cleared his panel 25-20, would lift travel restrictions to Cuba for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

    Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and 23 other senators from both sides of the aisle on Tuesday called on Obama to remove obstacles to U.S. agricultural and medical exports to Cuba while also endorsing the lifting of the travel ban.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/121503-short-on-votes-house-panel-delays-action-on-cuba-bill

  8. PR NEWSWIRE: Congressional Committee Faces Cuba Decision, White House Shows Indecision
    DOBBS FERRY, N.Y., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — “While the White House dithers, an historic decision on U.S. relations with Cuba will be made tomorrow by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,” said John McAuliff, founder and executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development.
    “At noon on Wednesday, September 29, the Committee will mark-up the travel section of HR 4645. (live webstream at http://www.hcfa.house.gov) If a majority approve the language to end all restrictions on travel to Cuba, the bill is expected to go to the House floor after the mid-term election.”

    McAuliff warned that, “Favorable action by the Committee is not certain. More than half of the members received contributions from the pro-embargo anti-travel U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC: 26 of 47 received a total of $178,000 in the current and previous election cycles. Only a third, 17, have cosponsored travel legislation. (Annotated list at http://cubacampaign.blogspot.com/2010/08/house-committee-on-foreign-affairs.html)

    “However Chairman Howard Berman said he would not bring up the bill unless he had the votes for approval. One previously anti-travel Representative, Gary Ackerman from New York, has announced he will support it. In its favor, the cause of freedom to travel has a host of unlikely allies with a variety of economic and political motives, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, agribusiness, the travel industry, human rights organizations, educators, advocacy groups and moderate Cuban Americans.”

    McAuliff noted that, “The position of the Obama Administration on the mark-up is not known so far. Many assume based on testimony by Secretary Clinton last year that the Administration will not threaten to veto such legislation as President Bush did. Will the White House or State Department say that now? Will they go further and endorse the legislation?

    “I was an active supporter of Barack Obama’s campaign in my personal capacity but I fear as President he has been captured by the same short term domestic political calculations on Cuba that crippled his predecessors,” McAuliff charged. “Based on several news stories in August it is clear that the Administration was preparing to announce regulatory reform enabling non-tourist people-to-people travel at or beyond the level permitted by the Clinton Administration by early September. However, Cuban-American members of the House and Senate and their south Florida ally Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz objected vociferously. The Administration buckled, just as it did in April 2009 to similar pressure when it limited reform to Cuban-American family travel.

    “It appears that political advisers in the White House intervened to postpone an announcement until at least after the mid-term elections, an odd position since recent polls show that 60% of Cuban Americans and two thirds of all Americans favor the complete end of travel restrictions. Moreover the same minority that fear the impact of even economically insignificant non-tourist visits and people-to-people dialogue opposed the President’s authorization last year of unrestricted family travel.

    “Wasserman-Schultz staff have boasted to the Sun Sentinel of her impact on the White House. Rep. Albio Sires told the Congressional Quarterly that he and she also warned Democratic leaders the travel bill would anger Cuban-American voters and hurt the electoral prospects of Florida Democrats.”

    McAuliff speculated that the only Democratic race that could be affected is Rep. Kendrick Meek’s third place run for the Senate in Florida. “Meek will be forced either to oppose the action of a President beloved by his African-American base and the views of most Congressional Democrats or to break with his close friends, the Republican Cuban Americans Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. He might also be embarrassed by attention directed to the $103,500 in donations he has received since 2004 from the hard line U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and its board members.

    “If the HR 4645’s travel provisions are approved by a majority of the Committee, grass roots Cuba activists on both sides of the issue will make their views known to candidates for House and Senate seats. If it fails, attention will focus on what the White House does on non-tourist travel,” McAuliff concluded.

    Further analysis at http://thehavananote.com/2010/09/unavoidable_choices.

    The Fund for Reconciliation and Development is a 25-year-old non-governmental organization. It successfully worked for normal U.S. diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and is a leader in the campaign to do the same with Cuba.

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/congressional-committee-faces-cuba-decision-white-house-shows-indecision-103933018.html

  9. YESTERDAY a group of youth formed a protest demanding Changes in HABANA. This is good for the Nation of Cuba, the fear of being thrown in Jail has not overcome this new generation of leaders. The failed Cuban Regime talks the garbage they do about the EXILED community living in North America, but never acknowleging the hundreds of millions in cash they send to their family left behind in Castro’s Cuba. The exiled should stop sending or reduce the amount sent, so that Castro feels the pinch.

  10. HUFFINGTON POST: Cuba’s Latest Reforms Won’t Work -Javier Corrales-Associate professor of Political Science at Amherst College

    In early September Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba and now opinion-maker-in-chief, stunned the world twice by declaring, first, that the Cuban model “doesn’t work for us” anymore, and second, by arguing a few days later that he didn’t really mean what he said. While Fidel Castro seems confused, his brother Raúl, Cuba’s official president, seems pretty clear about the issue. With the set of market-oriented reforms that he recently announced, Raúl Castro has essentially confirmed that Fidel’s original statement was correct–Cuba’s current model needs overhaul. The key question is whether the announced reforms will save Cuba. The answer is no.
    Raúl Castro’s reforms are no doubt significant. Ten percent of public sector employees will be let go. Self-employment will be allowed in 178 activities. Private restaurants will be allowed to add more tables. Rental markets will be expanded. And for the first time ever, Cubans will be able to hire non-relatives, and Cubans living overseas will be allowed to take part in these new economic liberties. In total, the government expects to authorize 250,000 new businesses, tripling the size of the current self-employed private sector.
    There is no question that Cuba needs reform. Cuba is the one country of the Americas that has had not one, not two, but six lost decades, experiencing a deterioration of living relative to its peers steadily since the mid 1950s. Something must change. However, the current reforms won’t do the trick. This is not because the reforms are, economically speaking, too modest (they are), but because the most vital political factor that is required for market reforms to be effective is still missing–societal trust in the state.
    Cubans mistrust the state for a simple reason: every time the state opens the economy, sooner rather later, authorities unilaterally change their mind, decide to take those liberties away, and end up punishing those who tried to take advantage of the small breathing space that had been provided. This promise reversal has taken place four times under in the Revolution’s history.
    The first occurred two years after the triumph of the Revolution. Initially, Fidel promised to create a favorable climate for private investment. The first major law of the Revolution, the “Fundamental Law of Cuba” of February 7, 1959, even stated that “Confiscation of property is prohibited” (Art. 24) and recognized the “legitimacy of private property” (Art. 87). There was so much trust in the state that Bacardi, one of the largest Cuban-owned multinational ever, paid its 1959 taxes all at once. But in December 1961 Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and launched the most aggressive confiscation drive ever in the Americas, collectivizing almost 70 percent of the total economy by 1962.
    The second promise reversal was the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968. Initially, small retailers were exempted from the nationalization drive of 1961-62. This made many Cubans feel that the revolution was supportive of economic rights for the little guys even if it punished the big capitalists. But in 1968, the state changed its mind again and proceeded to nationalize 55,636 small businesses (groceries, butcher shops, laundries, barber shops, boarding houses), essentially eliminating all non-agricultural retail still left in Cuba.
    The next broken promise came in 1986 with the “rectification of errors” campaign. That year, a few markets that had been allowed to reopen earlier in the decade were suddenly shut down. This policy reversal was so severe that two scholars described it as “a return to totalitarianism,” inexplicably at a time when economic totalitarianism was waning in the big communist powers of China and the USSR.
    Finally, and most gravely, the unprecedented market reforms of 1993-94 (dollarization, opening to foreign investment, and legalization of self-employment) were also terminated–more gradually but also equally decisively–by the early 2000s. By then, most foreign direct investments failed to materialize due to unfavorable business conditions, possession of dollars was penalized again, and most self-employment activities were reregulated, or altogether banned, legally or extralegally.
    Cuba thus has a history, as economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago always points out, of introducing modest economic openings, only to reverse them soon thereafter. The brief reforms allow the state to weather a momentary fiscal crisis. But when the fiscal crisis subsides, the state re-imposes draconian measures. This return to totalitarianism is something that all college-level Cubans have seen once; older Cubans have seen multiple times. It is the way that the Cuban state conducts business, or rather, chooses to interrupt business. The result is that Cubans have learned not to trust the state.
    Without this trust, Castro’s microeconomic reforms won’t amount to much. No doubt, Cubans will try to take full advantage of the new openings–many will open new businesses, retool themselves to work in different trades, and borrow money from relatives abroad. This will bring some economic relief. But these will be baby steps. The much bigger steps that are required for market reforms to deliver transformative effects–firms making large investments in capital and technology, conducting research to develop new markets, borrowing long-term to pursue high returns projects–won’t happen in Cuba. All these activities require citizens to think long term, which in turn requires citizens to have state institutions in which they can believe, such as property-defending courts, reliable and balanced legislatures, a legal system that is predictable and committed to protecting contracts, and a state that governs by negotiation rather than decree. These institutional conditions are absent in Cuba, and nobody believes that the current state will ever deliver them or guarantee their survival.
    Analysts have begun to debate whether the current round of reforms goes too far or fails to go far enough. But focusing on the reforms alone misses the point. The key problem is that Cubans have a long history of being cheated by their state, and the current reforms do nothing to address this problem. Contrary to press accounts, the current reforms are not new. The Cuban state has made similar promises in the past, only to change its mind arbitrarily, abruptly, punitively, and always in a reactionary direction.
    The Cuban state has been trying to bring revolution to Cuba’s society since 1959. But what Cuba needs is no more revolutions at the level of society, but a revolution at the level of the state. The conditions that allow the state to act so arbitrarily and imperiously must end. This behavior has been the hallmark of the Cuban state since pre-Revolutionary times–arbitrariness expanded under the Fulgencio Batista regime (1952-1958) and became more pronounced under the Castros. The current reforms do nothing to strip the state of arbitrariness, and until that changes, it is hard to imagine that this round of reform will be more than another failed déjà vu.

    Javier Corrales is professor of political science at Amherst College, Amherst, MA.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/javier-corrales/cubas-latest-reforms-wont_b_741392.html

  11. THIS IS HOW THOSE STUPID DICTATORS TRY TO SPURGE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CUBA! WITH PEOPLE EARNING $20/MONTH A $4.50/GAL. GASOLINE PRICE WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO START ANY BUSINESS THAT NEEDS TRANSPORT!

    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba ups gasoline prices about 10 percent-By PAUL HAVEN
    HAVANA — Cuba has upped already-high gasoline prices by about 10 percent amid sweeping changes to the economy, a move that could lead to grumbling among cash-strapped islanders, particularly private taxi drivers who are not allowed to raise their own prices.

    The changes, which took effect Monday, were announced in the Communist Party-newspaper Granma, which cited rising international prices for the move. It was the first time prices have risen since September 2008, when crude oil internationally sold for about a third more than it does now.

    The cost of diesel fuel — used by many of the old cars that populate Cuba’s streets — rose to $1.19 a liter ($4.50 a gallon), about 11 cents a liter (42 cents a gallon) higher than previously. The highest octane fuel rose even more to $1.73 a liter ($6.54 a gallon), from $1.51 a liter ($5.72 a gallon).

    The prices approach those paid in Europe and are apparently the highest in the hemisphere, topping pump prices in Brazil and Bermuda. They are a fortune for Cubans who make the average salary of just $20 a month.

    But the changes are not likely to affect many islanders, a reason why past gas hikes here have not led to unrest, as they sometimes do in other developing countries.

    Few people on the island own a car, and those lucky enough to have been issued a vehicle through their state-run companies usually have a monthly quota of gas paid through work.

    The government heavily subsidizes the public transportation system on which most Cubans rely, and it did not announce an increase in those prices.

    Those who will take a hit are the thousands of private taxi drivers who use gas-guzzling American clunkers from the 1950s or rusting cars from former Eastern Bloc countries to ferry people along set routes to and from work.

    In most cases, the price they charge is set at 10 pesos (about 50 cents). Even before the price hikes, many complained that high fuel costs meant it didn’t pay to cruise the city looking for a fare.

    Taxi drivers interviewed Monday said it would be even harder for them to make ends meet if the government does not authorize higher fares, particularly since they already pay a steep price for permission to drive.

    “I already work just to pay the license fees,” said Alexander Rodriguez, a 39-year-old taxi driver waiting for a fare at a taxi stand in Old Havana. He said he must pay the government 300 Cuban pesos a month — about $15 — for the right to take passengers in his cherry-red 1955 Oldsmobile. “For a Cuban, this price hike is really tough.”

    The gas price hikes come as the government is seeking to transform its socialist economy into a system that includes more private workers and more reliance on prices to regulate supply and demand. Earlier this month, Cuba announced it was laying off half a million workers — about one-tenth of the work force — while allowing far more free enterprise.

    On Friday, the government approved some 178 private business activities, gave Cubans the right to employ people not related to them, and even promised credit to entrepreneurs.

    Among the new activities authorized by the government is the sale of fruits and vegetables from roadside kiosks or homes, something many had already done on the black market. On Monday, the government gave more details of how the legal stands will work, saying a pilot program allowing the stands in a few provinces will be expanded nationwide.

    Those interested must register and pay taxes starting at 25 percent on any profits, according to an article in Granma.

    “The idea is to give order to what had been a raging river,” the article said, referring to the widespread illegal vegetable stands that have existed until now.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h9hxU1K_vccaIhOc4lCrkexwjhtgD9IGDCQ00

  12. When I see all the injustice Cuban people have suffered for so long, my heart breaks and my soul cries. I think these pictures reflect better my sentiments and the sentiments of the majority of Cuban people.
    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,26751&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=edvard+munch+el+grito&cp=21&wrapid=tljp1285635633732116&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=Qz6hTJ–DYPCsAOaoPmBAQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCwQsAQwAA

  13. THIS IS HOW THOSE STUPID DICTATORS TRY TO SPURGE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CUBA! WITH PEOPLE EARNING $20/MONTH A $4.50/GAL. GASOLINE PRICE WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO START ANY BUSINESS THAT NEEDS TRANSPORT! NOW THAT CHAVEZ LOST SOME OF HIS SUPPORT AT HOME HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE GIVING CUBA OIL FOR DOCTORS, THE NEW COALITION WILL SEE TO THAT!

    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba ups gasoline prices about 10 percent-By PAUL HAVEN
    HAVANA — Cuba has upped already-high gasoline prices by about 10 percent amid sweeping changes to the economy, a move that could lead to grumbling among cash-strapped islanders, particularly private taxi drivers who are not allowed to raise their own prices.

    The changes, which took effect Monday, were announced in the Communist Party-newspaper Granma, which cited rising international prices for the move. It was the first time prices have risen since September 2008, when crude oil internationally sold for about a third more than it does now.

    The cost of diesel fuel — used by many of the old cars that populate Cuba’s streets — rose to $1.19 a liter ($4.50 a gallon), about 11 cents a liter (42 cents a gallon) higher than previously. The highest octane fuel rose even more to $1.73 a liter ($6.54 a gallon), from $1.51 a liter ($5.72 a gallon).

    The prices approach those paid in Europe and are apparently the highest in the hemisphere, topping pump prices in Brazil and Bermuda. They are a fortune for Cubans who make the average salary of just $20 a month.

    But the changes are not likely to affect many islanders, a reason why past gas hikes here have not led to unrest, as they sometimes do in other developing countries.

    Few people on the island own a car, and those lucky enough to have been issued a vehicle through their state-run companies usually have a monthly quota of gas paid through work.

    The government heavily subsidizes the public transportation system on which most Cubans rely, and it did not announce an increase in those prices.

    Those who will take a hit are the thousands of private taxi drivers who use gas-guzzling American clunkers from the 1950s or rusting cars from former Eastern Bloc countries to ferry people along set routes to and from work.

    In most cases, the price they charge is set at 10 pesos (about 50 cents). Even before the price hikes, many complained that high fuel costs meant it didn’t pay to cruise the city looking for a fare.

    Taxi drivers interviewed Monday said it would be even harder for them to make ends meet if the government does not authorize higher fares, particularly since they already pay a steep price for permission to drive.

    “I already work just to pay the license fees,” said Alexander Rodriguez, a 39-year-old taxi driver waiting for a fare at a taxi stand in Old Havana. He said he must pay the government 300 Cuban pesos a month — about $15 — for the right to take passengers in his cherry-red 1955 Oldsmobile. “For a Cuban, this price hike is really tough.”

    The gas price hikes come as the government is seeking to transform its socialist economy into a system that includes more private workers and more reliance on prices to regulate supply and demand. Earlier this month, Cuba announced it was laying off half a million workers — about one-tenth of the work force — while allowing far more free enterprise.

    On Friday, the government approved some 178 private business activities, gave Cubans the right to employ people not related to them, and even promised credit to entrepreneurs.

    Among the new activities authorized by the government is the sale of fruits and vegetables from roadside kiosks or homes, something many had already done on the black market. On Monday, the government gave more details of how the legal stands will work, saying a pilot program allowing the stands in a few provinces will be expanded nationwide.

    Those interested must register and pay taxes starting at 25 percent on any profits, according to an article in Granma.

    “The idea is to give order to what had been a raging river,” the article said, referring to the widespread illegal vegetable stands that have existed until now.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h9hxU1K_vccaIhOc4lCrkexwjhtgD9IGDCQ00

  14. Yoani,

    Please send regrets to all the functions that you are forbidden to attend.
    Don’t forget to tell why you are absent. Your strength is in writing not traveling.
    Your access to the internet is a plus as well. I am unwilling to attend all the meetings you will miss because most are a waste of time. People talking their strengths away. If you could develop an international ” team of advocates ” that could speak for you at these events. Perhaps a note to Mrs Obama would get her to visit you. S.

  15. A DEMOCRAT EVEN A CUBAN REPUBLICAN COULD LOVE! (I’m a registered Democrat FYI)!

    USA TODAY:Opposing view on Cuba: Don’t reward atrocities-By Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Ninety miles off Florida’s coast, an elusive island beckons. Cuba evokes an exotic bygone era for tourists and a potential market for American farmers. So it should surprise no one that there are calls to open our flights, markets and wallets to Cuba again.

    OUR VIEW: A reflective Fidel Castro provides an opening for U.S.

    Such appeals, however, mask the brutal truth: After 50 years of oppressive rule by Fidel and Raul Castro, Cuba maintains one of the most deplorable human rights records in the modern world.

    Openly hostile to the United States, the Castro regime continues to inflict substantial domestic political and economic oppression. The Cuban people suffer without the most basic human rights, and the government imprisons students, journalists and anyone who speaks against the regime. For example, American Alan Gross has languished in a Cuban cell since December without access to medical care, for his “crime” of distributing cellphones to the Jewish community in Havana; Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of a dissident who died this year of a hunger strike, is routinely beaten when she attempts to visit her son’s grave.

    These examples represent only a fraction of Cuba’s flagrant human rights violations. The Cuba Archive Project has documented more than 90,000 non-combat deaths — including executions, extrajudicial assassinations, death in political prisons, and disappearances. Furthermore, 1.5 million Cubans are in exile, while the regime continues to trumpet a release of prisoners that only scratches the surface.

    Declaring the embargo a failure and using it as justification to reopen trade and relations ignores the fact that the Cuban economy is on its knees. The paltry changes we’ve seen (allowing Cubans to buy and sell some goods) have been necessitated by their economic crisis. Ending the embargo now not only ignores the atrocities perpetrated by the Castro regime, it also hands the Cuban government a huge financial boost at the exact moment they need and want it most.

    Friendship and an economic relationship with our nation must be earned, and Cubans deserve the freedom, democracy and human rights they lack. Until Cuba has demonstrated meaningful progress, unilateral changes in American policy would undeniably reward horrific behavior.

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a Democrat from Florida.

  16. YOANI, this is conformation your name is and needs to be on that AWARD. Its unfortunate Cuba’s ruling class treat its citizens as inmates of a maximum security jail. You are the BRIGHT STAR in CUBA and her near future. Thank you for all you do for the Cuban people. Your absence at the award ceremony will only bring more attention to the abuse in Cuba and your blog.

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