Bit by Bit Marketing

Ministry of Work and Social Security

Ministry of Work and Social Security

Eight in the morning and the rails of the station at Factor and Tulipán still have the freshness of the dawn. The only train, coming from San Antonio de los Baños, is delayed. The elderly, seated on the walls, resell the newspapers bought very early and offer, as well, cigarettes at retail. This week they suffered a tough setback with the announcement that the distribution, on the ration book, of the packs of Titans and Aroma has come to an end. Bad news for those on the lowest rung of our informal market, those who sell their own cigarette ration to survive.

Among the absurdities of the centralized market in Cuba, was that only those born before 1955 received the rationed cigarettes. In my family, my father had an allotment but my mother, three years younger, got nothing. Half joking half serious, a friend told me that in the future they would deliver the final pack of subsidized cigarettes to a long-lived Cuban who had been born in the middle of the twentieth century. Can you imagine the ceremony? Flags waving, trumpets sounding, a ceremonial marching battalion approaching the ancient one and presenting him with the last rationed cigarettes.

For better or worse this is not going to happen. These who were the youngest when they started to receive subsidized nicotine, are just now entering their sixth decade of life. Those of us who never benefited from this supply feel that today there is one less thing to throw in our faces. I believe, however, that someone should compensate the elderly at the Tulipán station, along with all those the length and breadth of this island who shore up their lives with this little bit of marketing.

7 thoughts on “Bit by Bit Marketing

    Judging by the sign there must be a lot of trabajo & seguridad social in Cuba …

  2. FINANCIAL TIMES:Time to press on with our plan in Havana-By Christopher Sabatini- August 31 2010

    Rumblings in Cuba and Washington this summer have raised expectations that change is on its way for the hemisphere’s most repressive regime, and one of the US’s most anachronistic policies. Behind them lie the potential to foster greater personal and economic freedom within Cuba – although only if President Barack Obama is willing to continue pushing.

    This week reports suggested that oil exploration may soon begin off Cuba’s coast, potentially testing the current US trade embargo. Earlier in August President Raúl Castro’s announcement of economic reforms was followed by rumours from the US of plans to allow greater cultural and educational exchanges. In July the Catholic church also brokered the release of 52 political prisoners from Cuban jails.

    On the surface these changes seem marginal. Within Cuba, the drip-drip release of political prisoners is rightly seen as a typical authoritarian ploy to curry international favour. More than 100 are likely still to be locked up, although hazy laws both cloud the true count and provide ample room for the government to round up activists at will.

    The economic reforms fall similarly short of the mark. Promises to allow small private businesses to operate legally are a shift, although token reforms such as liberalising barber shops or letting bar owners hire their own bar staff will surely fail to address the bottlenecks in Cuba’s economy. And while Cuba’s oil drilling could in theory open up pressure from US oil companies, it is still some way from showing success.

    These legitimate doubts, though, should not preclude a more forceful US policy. If rumours are to be believed, Mr Obama is poised to grant more educational, cultural and sports travel to Cuba by US citizens. He also plans to license more airports to fly charter flights to Havana.

    There is already opposition to such changes, mostly from Cuban-American legislators who think any lifting of restrictions will, by bringing visitors to the island, fill the regime’s empty coffers and indirectly finance repression. This is also the general argument for the embargo. But allowing artists and academics to travel is a far cry from lifting the embargo as a whole. Even during the height of the cold war, the US and Soviet Union regularly allowed such exchanges.

    Importantly, in changing the rules the president is only exercising authority granted to him under the 1996 embargo to license non-tourist travel to Cuba. These laws, known as the Helms-Burton rules, lay out conditions allowing the president to lift economic sanctions, including the release of prisoners and credible commitments to a democratic transition. But they also grant latitude in areas such as education and some travel.

    For this and future reforms, the calculation should be whether the benefits of greater freedom outweigh any economic boost to the regime. Here exchanges allowing certain groups of Americans to interact with Cuban counterparts, thus demonstrating the benefits of intellectual and artistic freedom, are clearly a net gain. That their counterparts would be limited to individuals and institutions selected by the Cuban government should not matter. All the better, in fact.

    In short, these mooted reforms are welcome, but the Obama administration should still be looking to do much more to help the people of Cuba. The next set of changes should be ending current telecoms regulations – even more restrictive than those aimed at Iran and Syria – that only hamper the ability of US companies to extend the digital revolution to Cuban citizens. Another is allowing Cuban-American, and other US citizens who legally travel to Cuba, access to US-based bank accounts. Both reforms would provide Cubans with better access to information, financial services and even credit.

    Such moves would not, as critics will doubtless claim, amount to US concessions to Cuba’s government. There remains scope for improved discussions on issues such as migration, although any further loosening of economic restrictions should be judged on their ability to help the Cuban people, not just on how much they deny revenue to a repressive regime.

    If done carefully, further reforms hold the promise of breaking the policy and human rights stasis that has gripped Cuba, and US policy towards Cuba, for more than half a century. That is a prize worth grasping.

    The author is senior director of policy at the Council of the Americas and editor in chief of Americas Quarterly


    THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Fidel Castro takes blame for 1960s gay persecution- Former Cuban president says wave of homophobia happened because he was distracted by U.S. threats
    Reuters Published on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010 2:43PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

    Fidel Castro took the blame for a wave of homophobia launched by his revolutionary government in the 1960s, but said it happened because he was distracted by other problems, in an interview published on Tuesday in a Mexican newspaper.

    The former Cuban president told La Jornada the persecution of gays, who were rounded up at the time as supposed counterrevolutionaries and placed in forced labor camps, was a “great injustice” that arose from the island’s history of discrimination against homosexuals.

    He said he was not prejudiced against gays, but “if anyone is responsible (for the persecution), it’s me.”

    “I’m not going to place the blame on others,” he said.

    Mr. Castro, 84, said he was busy in those days fending off threats from the United States, including attempts on his life, and trying to maintain the revolution that put him in power in 1959.

    “We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death,” Mr. Castro said.

    “In those moments I was not able to deal with that matter (of homosexuals). I found myself immersed, principally, in the Crisis of October (Cuban Missile Crisis), in the war, in policy questions,” he said.

    Official persecution of gays continued into the 1970s before homosexual acts were decriminalized in 1979. Today, Cuba’s medical service provides free sex-change operations.

    Tuesday’s story was the second from La Jornada based on a recent five-hour interview with Castro, who has reappeared in public after four years of seclusion following surgery for an undisclosed intestinal illness.

    On Monday, the Mexico-City based newspaper quoted Mr. Castro as saying his illness nearly killed him, but that he has mostly recovered and is trying to stop a nuclear war he believes to be imminent.

    Mr. Castro, who resigned the presidency in 2008 but remains head of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party, has warned for months that nuclear war will break out if the United States and Israel try to enforce international nuclear sanctions against Iran.

    Cuban media reported on Tuesday that he went to the National Aquarium in Havana to watch a dolphin show with U.S.-based writer Jeffrey Goldberg, Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington and Adela Dworin, leader of Cuba’s Jewish community.

    The purpose of the visit was not disclosed, but the reports said Mr. Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine who has written on the Middle East and Iran, had interviewed Castro.

    Ms. Sweig is a well-known expert on Cuba and has written several books about the island.

    The reports did not say whether Ms. Dworin had discussed with Mr. Castro the case of Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor jailed in Havana since December on suspicion of spying.

    The U.S. has said he was in Cuba providing Internet access for Cuba’s Jewish community. Cuba says Mr. Gross is under investigation, but no charges have been filed.

    Mauvaise Conduite or Improper Conduct is the title of a 1984 documentary film directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal. The documentary interviews Cuban refugees to explore the Cuban government’s imprisonment of homosexuals, political dissidents, and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps under its policy of Military Units to Aid Protection. The documentary was produced with the support of French television Antenne 2 and won the Best Documentary Audience Award at the 1984 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

    Conducta Impropria – Improper Conduct (Part 5)

  4. Sorry Yubano “The Miami Heat” will be totally “frozen” by the nuclear mushroom.The Sunshine State is going to be renamed,it will be called The Shade State.The predictor in chief has spoken.

  5. According to fidel castro the world could come to an end Sept/9/2010.

    So, Ladies and gentleman have nice and last Labor Day Weekend.

    God bless you all.



    THE GUARDIAN U.K. : Fidel Castro claims Osama bin Laden is a US spy-Former Cuban president says the 9/11 mastermind is in the pay of the CIA and cites WikiLeaks as his source-Chris McGreal -Friday 27 August 2010

    Fidel Castro has more reason than most to believe conspiracy theories involving dark forces in Washington-Fidel Castro has more reason than most to believe conspiracy theories involving dark forces in Washington. After all, the CIA tried to blow his head off with an exploding cigar.

    But the ageing Cuban revolutionary may have gone too far for all but the most ardent believer in the reach and competence of America’s intelligence agency. He has claimed that Osama bin Laden is in the pay of the CIA and that President George Bush summoned up the al-Qaida leader whenever he needed to increase the fear quotient. The former Cuban president said he knows it because he has read WikiLeaks.

    Castro told a visiting Lithuanian writer, who is known as a font of intriguing conspiracy theories about plots for world domination, that Bin Laden was working for the White House.

    “Bush never lacked for Bin Laden’s support. He was a subordinate,” Castro said, according to the Communist party daily, Granma. “Any time Bush would stir up fear and make a big speech, Bin Laden would appear, threatening people with a story about what he was going to do.”

    He said that thousands of pages of American classified documents made public by WikiLeaks pointed to who the al-Qaida leader is really working for.

    “Who showed that he [Bin Laden] is indeed a CIA agent was WikiLeaks. It proved it with documents,” he said, but did not explain exactly how.

    He made his comments during a meeting with Daniel Estulin, the author of three books about the secretive Bilderberg Club which includes men such as Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, leading European officials and business executives. Estulin says that the club is form of secret world government, manipulating economies and political systems.

    Estulin offered his own views on Bin Laden: that the man seen in videos since 9/11 is not him at all but a “bad actor”.

    However the two men did find something to disagree on.

    Estulin has long argued that the human race will need to find another planet to live on because of overcrowding.

    Castro was not keen. He observed that man had only made it to the moon, which is entirely unsuitable as a new home, and what lay beyond that was not much better. Better to fix things on earth.

    “Humanity ought to take care of itself if it wants to live thousands more years,” he said.

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