Criticism: Constructive or Complacent?

Revolutionary Vigilance, a Permanent Task

He raised his hand at the meeting. The director had told them “don’t hold back,” so he took advantage of the chance to say what he’d remained silent about for months. He started with the very low wages paid to public health workers. Then he talked about the dirty bathrooms, the water shortages, that the only sterilizer was broken, the leaks all over the hospital. He continued with the heat in the waiting room packed with patients and the lack of surgical instruments. He finished up with the exclamation, “it’s more than anyone can stand,” which plunged the room into a heavy and uncomfortable silence.

At the end someone approached him to say that his criticism hadn’t been constructive but merely a catharsis. So he didn’t speak again at any other meeting.

Behind the argument of looking for opportune and uplifting criticisms, hide those who in reality do not want any kind of criticism. For them, being proactive means bowing and preceding every statement with a flattering phrase. One should never, according to these encouragers of applause — question the system, much less the inefficiencies that don’t allow it to function. Being “constructive” amounts to not calling to account the current leaders of the political process, much less questioning the ideological model. One also needs to show a blind faith that everything will be resolved with “wise leadership” at the highest levels.

If someone deviates from the script of tolerated criticism, the disqualifiers will rain down upon them. Chip on the shoulder, whiner, crybaby… will be the first insults, although later it’ll move on to the already hackneyed “CIA agent,” “counterrevolutionary” or “enemy of the nation.” Their observations will never find the opportune moment, because they don’t include submission or self-blame.

Criticism doesn’t need a name. It doesn’t need to be classified as “constructive” or “destructive,” but it should be delivered with total rigor, regardless. Like rubbing medicine on a festering sore, criticism hurts, it makes you cry, it’s torture… but it cures.

46 thoughts on “Criticism: Constructive or Complacent?

  1. My three attempts at responding to Nick are apparently trapped in the spam filter. Don’t know why.

  2. THE CASTROFASCISTS CANNOT HIDE THEIR HUMA RIGHTS ABUSES SO EASILY IN THIS AGE OF INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA! THE WORLD IS WATCHING!

    DEUTSCHE WELLE NEWS: Cuba agrees to start talks with EU on normalization of relations – Cuba has agreed to start talks on normalizing ties with the EU, after decades of difference. Brussels insists that any thaw in relations – particularly in trade terms – will require Havana to give assurances on rights.

    For Cuba and the EU to secure a more united, if symbolic, Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, terms would have to be approved by all of the EU’s member states. Poland and the Czech Republic – with Communist pasts of their own – have demanded a firm line be taken against Cuba, particularly where human rights are concerned. Officials in Brussels have repeatedly said that rights would remain central to any future talks.

    Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Thursday that Havana had informed the EU of its decision to begin talks, seeking a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which were proposed by Brussels in February.

    Rodriguez said Cuba would be glad to take part in discussions on topics including human rights, ending what communist Cuba claims is a one-sided relationship with Europe.

    “Cuba accepts with satisfaction this proposal… which signifies the end of the unilateral policies of the EU concerning Cuba. On the basis of equality and mutual respect, Cuba is completely willing to discuss any topic, including human rights,” Rodriguez said. The minister added that Cuba had human rights concerns of its own about certain EU member states.

    Although EU negotiators had said Cuba had indicated that it was willing to discuss the agreement, Cuba has waited until now to make its willingness to talk official.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.dw.de/cuba-agrees-to-start-talks-with-eu-on-normalization-of-relations/a-17480515

  3. Increase in dengue, cholera and other viruses in Cuba
    http://www.martinews.com/content/dengue-cholera-increase-cuba/29413.html
    Ivan Garcia, Translation: Bruno Tokarz
    November 21, 2013

    The Castroit regime did not want to reveal to the world the existence of an epidemic of dengue fever in the spring and summer of 1997 because it was a personal embarrassment to Fidel Castro, who had previously declared that the mosquito responsible for dengue, the Aedes aegypti, had been eradicated long before by the long arm of the Revolution.

    The dengue fever epidemic has become endemic in the Island. Castro’s regime has always tried to hide the facts, instead of asking the international community for help to eradicate the epidemic. This excellent article about the Dengue Epidemic is a must read: “THE DENGUE EPIDEMIC IN CUBA” http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaVerdad/message/25764

  4. WIKILEAK DOCUMENT : Viewing cable 08HAVANA103, CUBAN HEALTHCARE: “AQUI NADA ES FACIL”-
    In one Cuban hospital, patients had to bring their own light bulbs. In another, the staff used “a primitive manual vacuum” on a woman who had miscarried. In others, Cuban patients pay bribes to obtain better treatment.

    Those and other observations by an unidentified nurse assigned to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana were included in a dispatch sent by the mission in January 2008 and made public this month by WikiLeaks.

    Titled “Cuban healthcare: Aquí Nada es Facil” — Nothing here is easy — the cable offers a withering assessment by the nurse, officially a Foreign Service Health Practitioner, or FSHP, who already had lived in Cuba for 2 ½ years.

    CLICK LINK BELOW FOR ORGINAL WIKILEAK DOCUMENT

    http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2008/01/08HAVANA103.html

  5. PBS AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: FIDEL CASTRO- Pre-Castro Cuba- Cuba’s capital, Havana, was a glittering and dynamic city. In the early part of the century the country’s economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE REPORT, VIDEOS ETC.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/castro/peopleevents/e_precastro.html

  6. Nick AND Omar Fundora! HERE IS A VIDEO OF THE GREAT HOSPITALS AND HEALTHCARE IN CUBA! : Patients in Hospital for Cubans part 2 – More videos showing patient’s rooms at the 10 de Octubre and Miguel enriquez hospitals in Havana. Notice how some of the beds have bed sheets that are not the typical white sheets used in most hospitals. This is because many patients have to bring their own bed sheets, pillows and towels.

  7. Omar,

    You can’t answer a simple question.

    Where do you live?

    Have you ever been to a Cuban hospital?

    Sandokan has posted the facts for you to see. Cuba has a high maternal mortality right and its infant mortality rate is absurd propaganda.

    Nobody who knows the Cuban health system believes in Castro’s statistics.

    I would rather be treated at the worst hospital in the USA than an average Cuban hospital.

    So would every Cuban.

  8. Neutral observer: “seen that and done that:”….doctors, military officers, regular people, visitors, citizens (U.S. and Cuba)…. the evidence is overwhelming that they have a decent Healthcare system….over many, many years…if you really want to see bad Healthcare system…..visit low income communities clinics and hospitals in the United States ( take in consideration our GDP)….the apartheid system of capitalism let’s people die ….why do you think politicians, doctors and educators want to visit Cuba for….not to criticize, but, to learn how to do it for a fraction of the cost….it is about money….

  9. Nick,

    You say “It is the USA and no other that has the longest history of imperialism and aggression in the Americas region.”

    And then start talking about factual correctness.

    Maybe you should look up Spanish and French and British imperialism and aggression in the Americas region.

    You will discover that US imperialism and aggression was rather mild and short-lived in comparison.

    But that is the past.

    So your anti-US rants have no relevance to anything discussed here.

    Cuban imperialism and aggression does have relevance to the situation in Venezuela, for which hundreds of thousands have died since Chavez took over.

  10. Omar,

    I noticed, like a lot of other posters, you can’t answer a straight question.

    Where do you live?

    Ever been to a Cuban hospital?

    I know Cuban doctors.

    I know Cuban doctors lie about infant mortality and lie about cholera and lie about everything else.

    They have to lie to please Castro and survive in Cuba.

  11. Mr Observer,
    Your remarks seem to get progressively more ridiculous.
    For the umpteenth time you provide us with a list of factually incorrect comments.
    You suggest that I do not care about Cuban deaths at sea.
    This is ridiculous and factually incorrect.
    You suggest that I do not care about deaths in Venezuela.
    (these would be the ‘hundreds of thousands that you say are verifiable but never verify??)
    This is ridiculous and factually incorrect.
    You state that only death I care about is the death I can blame on the USA or a “right-wing” regime, which you define as any country that doesn’t blame the USA for bad weather.
    This is ridiculous and factually incorrect.
    You will support the world’s biggest killers and racists as long as they hate the USA.
    This is ridiculous and factually incorrect.

    People come onto this site with their hypocritical little rants about Cuba or latterly, Venezuela.
    I try and put these comments into some kind of context by pointing out that there are problems all over the world.
    Of particularly obvious relevance are the problems of the USA.
    These problems are relevant not because I am obsessed with the USA as you suggest in your usual ridiculous and factually incorrect manner.

    The fact is that the problems of the USA are relevant here because:
    It is the USA and no other that has the longest history of imperialism and aggression in the Americas region.
    It is the USA which uses its huge might and power to try and assert control over it’s ‘backyard’ region. (in a similar way to the way that Russia does over it’s own ‘backyard’ region both historically and currently).
    It is the USA that has spawned the most bloodthirsty and murderous regime in the Americas so far this century.
    It is the USA which bankrolls opposition in Cuba and Venezuela.
    It is the USA that has this smutty, anachronistic and ineffective embargo against Cuba which the rest of the world rejects outright.

    And it is from the USA that all these hypocritical and ranting comments are spewed out from.

  12. Another health parameter linked to infant mortality, is the maternal mortality rate. Cuba’s maternal mortality rate is 33 deaths per 1,000 live births. This health statistic is high despite the fact that Cuba has the lowest birth rate in Latin America. The doctors are supposed to suggest abortion in risky pregnancies and, in some occasions, must perform the interruption without the consent of the couple. Cuban pediatricians constantly falsify figures for the regime. If an infant dies during his first year, the doctors often report he/she was older (infant mortality rate is define by the number of deaths during the first year of life per thousand live births). Otherwise, such lapses could cost him severe penalties and his job.

  13. Cuba had 128 physicians and dentists per 100,000 people in 1957. This was comparable to the levels in many European countries and allegedly the highest in Latin America.[29] In 2005, Cuba had 627 physicians and 94 dentists per 100,000 population. That year the United States had 225 physicians and 54 dentists per 100,000 population; there was no data for Latin America as a region, but the Central American isthmus had 123 physicians and 30 dentists per 100,000.[30]

    Health indicators and issues[edit]

    Cuba began a food rationing program in 1962 to guarantee all citizens a low-priced basket of basic foods. As of 2007, the government was spending about $1 billion annually to subsidise the food ration. The ration would cost about $50 at an average grocery store in the United States, but the Cuban citizen pays only $1.20 for it. The ration includes rice, legumes, potatoes, bread, eggs, and a small amount of meat. It provides about 30 to 70 percent of the 3,300 kilocalories that the average Cuban consumes daily. The people obtain the rest of their food from government stores (Tiendas), free market stores and cooperatives, barter, their own gardens, and the black market.[31]

    According to the Pan American Health Organization, daily caloric intake per person in various places in 2003 were as follows (unit is kilocalories):
    Cuba, 3,286;
    America, 3,205;
    Latin America and the Caribbean, 2,875;
    Latin Caribbean countries, 2,593;
    United States, 3,754.[32]

  14. Comparison of pre- and post-revolutionary indices[edit]

    Life expectancy at birth in Cuba in 1955 was 63 years.[21] In 1960 it was 63.9 years.[22] To put these values in context, life expectancy at birth in some other regions and countries in 1960 were as follows (World Bank data):
    World, 50.18 years;
    Latin America and Caribbean, 56.21 years;
    high-income OECD countries, 69.01 years;
    United States, 69.77 years.[23]

    In 2007, the life expectancies at birth were as follows (World Bank data):
    Cuba, 78.26 years;
    World, 68.76 years;
    Latin America and Caribbean, 73.13 years;
    high income OECD countries, 79.66 years;
    United States, 77.99 years.[24]

    The mortality rate for children under five years old was 54 per 1000 in Cuba in 1960 (World Bank).[25] That year in Latin America and the Caribbean it was 154.66 per 1000; in the high-income OECD countries it was 43.11; in the United States, 30.2. No World datum is available for 1960, but for 1970 it was 145.67 per 1000 (all World Bank data).[24]

    The mortality rates for children under five in 2007 were as follows (World Bank):
    Cuba, 6.5;
    World, 68.01;
    Latin America and Caribbean, 26.37;
    high-income OECD, 5.71;
    United States, 7.60.[24]

    Infant mortality was 32 per 1000 live births in Cuba in 1957.[26] In 2000-2005 it was 6.1 per 1000 in Cuba; and, for comparison, 6.8 per 1000 in the United States.[27] The 2007 infant mortality rates published by the World Health Organisation in 2009 were:
    Cuba, 5;
    World, 46;
    High income countries, 6;
    United States, 6.[28]

  15. sandokan: abortion rates have increased all over the World…in the last 41 years 56 Million abortions have been performed in the United States…..

  16. According to UN figures, Cuba’s current infant mortality rate places the country 34th from the top in worldwide ranking. According to those same UN figures, in 1958, Cuba ranked 13th from the top, worldwide. This meant that pre-Castro Cuba had the 13t lowest infant-mortality rate in the world.

    It is well known fact that totalitari¬an regimes inflate statistics. Cuba’s infant mortality rate is kept low by the regime’s tampering with statistics, by a low birth rate of 12.5 births per 1000 population, and by a staggering abortion rate of 77.7 abortions per 1,000 women (0.78 abortions per each live birth. Data based on official statistics from the Cuban government). Cuba had the lowest birth rate and doubles the abortion rate in Latin America. Cuba’s abortion rate was the 3rd highest out of the 60 countries studied. (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html)

  17. HMMM! MAYBE CNN CORRESPONDENT Christiane Amanpour SHOULD SHOW Nicolas Maduro THIS VIDEO! AS WELL AS ALL THE ACTIVE LEFTISTS IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE USA! BUT OF COURSE THEY WILL SAY IT WAS DONE AT A CIA BACK LOT! MY CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR!
    YOUTUBE: Exceso Policial por parte de PNB en Los Ruices PNB marzo 6 – 2014 – Exceso Policial por parte de PNB en Los Ruices PNB marzo 6 – 2014

  18. YOUTUBE: Nunca Olvidar, Tributo al Joven Bravo Pueblo de Venezuela – Un tributo aquellos que aunque muy jóvenes, tuvieron el coraje de luchar por sus sueños y dieron la vida por ello. Producción realizada por el Talento Humano de BR2Core Studios donde queda constancia del momento crucial que vive nuestro país Venezuela. Créditos: Vídeos y Fotografías recopiladas de reporteros ciudadanos que gracias a su labor, a costa de su propia vida, algún día servirán para que se haga justicia.
    Never Forget, a Tribute to the Brave Young People of Venezuela – A tribute to those who even though very young, had the courage to pursue their dreams and gave their lives for it. Production by Talento Humano de BR2Core studios. Credits: Videos and pictures collected from citizen reporters! Thanks to their work at the cost of their own life, one day justice will be done.

  19. THANK YOU Omar Fundora! THIS IS THE FINAL PARAGRAPHS OF WHAT YOU POSTED on March 6, 2014 at 10:41 – FUNNY, THEY RELATE TO ONE OF THE LAST ARTICLES WHICH I SUBMITTED WHO HAS NOT BEEN POSTED YET! GRACIAS DEAR!

    VOXXi: Cuba’s confusing dual currency system – by Teresa Sanchez
    This past fall, Cuba announced that it intends to move towards a single currency, a process that will take at least two years. Many Cubans I spoke with on the island did not take this news seriously, since the claim has been made before. Others are bracing themselves for a potential economic depression. Whatever change happens, my only hope is that it benefits the Cuban people, because the current system makes Cuba a fun place for tourists but a challenging place for the people who actually live there.

    STRUCTURE OF GDP, 2014 – Ernesto Hernández-Catá

    Finally, there is a major problem whose resolution is beyond the scope of this article but which must at least be noted. The Cuban authorities assume that data for transactions denominated in foreign currency should be translated into local currency at the fixed exchange rate of one peso (CUP) per U.S. dollar. Under this convention (which is retained in this paper) dollar values are identical to peso values. Historically, however, the exchange value of the peso applicable to households and tourists has been much lower and it is currently CUP 24 per dollar. Clearly, the 1:1 exchange rate assumption introduces major distortions in the national accounts and in the balance of payments. For example, the peso value of exports of at least some goods and services (nickel, sugar and tourism among others) is grossly under estimated, while the dollar value of consumption is grossly over-estimated. In the income accounts, the dollar value of wages (mostly denominated in CUPs) is overestimated while the peso value of private remittances is under-estimated—although this is partly offset by an under-estimation of the peso value of interest payments abroad.

    The task of disentangling all the elements of bias introduced by the use of a 1:1 conversion factor would be daunting. For the time being the corresponding distortions would have to be accepted, although they should be recognized. The good news is that the Cuban authorities are in the process of unifying the existing multiple exchange rate system, too slowly hélàs, but fairly surely. One important result of this change will be to the adoption of a single exchange rate for all transactions and all sectors, as well as for the purpose of statistical conversion.

    http://thecubaneconomy.com/

  20. Omar,

    Scrutiny of Castro’s health care system or statistics is illegal.

    All those who have scrutinized it have been fired, exiled, imprisoned or murdered by Castro.

    None of the people you mentioned ever scrutinized anything, they are part of the International Castro Fan Club.

    Where do you live, by the way? Ever been to a Cuban hospital?

  21. Nick,

    I find it revolting that Castro keeps his people prisoner and that tens of thousands have died trying to escape Castro and that people like you don’t care.

    I also find it revolting that Chavez supporters have killed hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans and that people like you don’t care.

    The only death you care about is the death you can blame on the USA or a “right-wing” regime, which you define as any country that doesn’t blame the USA for bad weather.

    You will support the world’s biggest killers and racists as long as they hate the USA.

    Actually, as long as they say they hate the USA.

    Maduro actually sells his oil to the USA and Castro depends on imports from the USA to keep his country going.

    But you seem incapable of looking beyond the slogans of the world’s left-wing fascists.

    You seem very obsessed with the USA.

  22. All the medical programs in Cuba have gone under scrutiny with peer review from other doctors from around the World…attached is a list of doctors that have confirm the metrics for the Cuban healthcare system…..no smoking gun here about the care….you can’t forget that Cuba is a poor country…

    There are many American doctors who have visited Cuba to study the Cuban Model of Healthcare. They recognized that Cuba is a poor country, but, they are able to accomplish a great
    deal with very little money. Here is a comparison of results between the U.S. Healthcare System and the Cuban Healthcare System:
    LIFE EXPECTANCY IN THE US IS ABOUT THE SAME AS IT IS IN CUBA. WE SPEND $8607/PERSON VS. CUBA $430/PERSON…..AND ACHIEVE THE SAME RESULTS…
    http://www.medicc.org/mediccreview/index.php?issue=27&id=337&a=va
    United States:
    1. Population: 313.9 Million
    2. Life Expectancy (Male/Female): 76/81
    3. Deaths by age 5 per 1000 births: 7
    4. Death between ages 16 and 60: 131/77
    (male and female population)
    5. Health spending per capita: $8607
    6. Total health spending as a % of GDP: 17.9
    7. HIV cases per 1000 population: 419
    8. High blood glucose (Male/Female 25+): 12.6%/9.1%
    9. High blood pressure (Male/Female 25+): 17%/14.2%
    10. Obesity(Male/Female 25+): 30.2%/33.2%

    Cuba:

    1. Population: 11.3 Million
    2. Life Expectancy (Male/Female): 76/80
    3. Deaths by age 5 per 1000 births: 6
    4. Death between ages 16 and 60: 119/ 75
    (male and female population)
    5. Health spending per capita: $430
    6. Total health spending as a % of GDP: 10
    7. HIV cases per 1000 population: 120
    8. High blood glucose (Male/Female 25+): 11.3%/12%
    9. High blood pressure (Male/Female 25+): 33.2%/28.7%
    10. Obesity(Male/Female 25+): 13.3%/27.5%

    6 MEDICC Review, January 2014, Vol 16, No 1
    Peer Reviewers 2013
    G Reed
    All original articles appearing in MEDICC Review are subject to double-blind international peer review. MEDICC Review is indebted to the following colleagues for their collaboration as peer reviewers in 2013:
    Anselmo Abdo MD PhD, Cuba
    Gladys Abreu MD PhD, Cuba
    Vittorio Agnoletto MD, Italy
    Sonia I. Águila MD MS, Cuba
    Jorge P. Alfonzo MD PhD, Cuba
    Miguel Almaguer MD, Cuba
    Jordi Alonso MD, Spain
    Luis Alvarez MD, Cuba
    Paloma Antón MD, Spain
    Carlos Aragonés MS, Cuba
    Elva Dolores Arias MD MS, Mexico
    Jorge Bacallao PhD, Cuba
    Sergio Baratta MD, Argentina
    Luis Dante Barja MD, Argentina
    María del Carmen Barroso MD, Cuba
    Mikhail Benet MD MS PhD, Cuba
    Ricardo Bianchi MD PhD, Argentina
    Carmen Borrego MD, Cuba
    Liliana Cabani MD, Peru
    Lázaro Cabrera MD, Cuba
    René Cabrera MD, Mexico
    Francisco Carballés MD MS PhD, Cuba
    Mario Carballoso MD PhD, Cuba
    Mayra Carrasco MD MS, Cuba
    Bertha Lidia Castro MD, Cuba
    Jesús Castro MD, Cuba
    José Manuel Castro MD, Spain
    Joan Cayla MD, Spain
    Nadia Patricia Cedeño MD, Colombia
    Rohana Chandrajith PhD, Sri Lanka
    Zaida Chinchilla PhD, Spain
    Kelman Cohen MD, USA
    Diego Conde MD, Argentina
    Fátima Coronado MD MPH, USA
    Bremen De Mucio MD, Uruguay
    Irene R. Dégano MD PhD, Spain
    Manuel Díaz MD PhD, Cuba
    María Elena Díaz PhD, Cuba
    Fernando Domínguez MD PhD, Cuba
    María Espino MS PhD, Cuba
    Justo Fabelo MD, Cuba
    Ana Teresa Fariñas MD PhD, Cuba
    Ricard Ferrer MD PhD, Spain
    Flavia Fontes MD, Panama
    Manuel Franco MD PhD, Spain
    Rainer Gehrig, Spain
    Carlos Alberto Gonçalves MD MS PhD, Brazil
    Alina González MD PhD, Cuba
    Ricardo González MD PhD DrSc, Cuba
    Teresa González MD, Cuba
    Carlos Grandi MD MS PhD, Brazil
    María Grau MD MPH PhD, Spain
    Francisco Guillén MD MBA MPH PhD, Spain
    Daniel Gutiérrez RN MS PhD, Argentina
    Raúl F. Gutiérrez MD MS, Mexico
    Elizabeth Halprin MD, USA
    Guillermo Hernández MD, Cuba
    Juan de Jesús Llibre MD PhD, Cuba
    Guido Lluis MD PhD, Cuba
    Calixto Machado MD PhD DrSc, Cuba
    Matilde Maddaleno MD, USA
    Beatriz Marcheco MD PhD, Cuba
    Francisco Mardones MD, Chile
    Alexander Mármol MD, Cuba
    Pedro Mas Bermejo MD PhD, Cuba
    Teresa Massardo MD, Chile
    Guillermo Montalván MD, Cuba
    Juan Pablo Montes MD, Argentina
    Alberto Morales MD MS, Cuba
    León Morales MD MS, USA
    Carmen Rosa Moreno MD, Cuba
    Daisy Navarro MD PhD, Cuba
    Porfi rio Nordet MD MS PhD, Switzerland
    Rosaida Ochoa MD, Cuba
    Carlos M. Orantes MD, El Salvador
    Paulo L. Ortiz PhD DrSc, Cuba
    Angel A. Otero MD, Cuba
    Nino Pagliccia MS, Canada
    María Amparo Pascual MD PhD, Cuba
    César Paz y Miño MD, Ecuador
    Albadio Pérez Assef MD PhD, Cuba
    Jesús Pérez MD PhD, Cuba
    Daniel Piedra PhD, Cuba
    Fernando Pizarro MD, Chile
    Juan Prohías MD, Cuba
    Raquel Remesal MD, Spain
    Jean Roby MD, France
    Bertha Rodríguez MD, Cuba
    Miguel Rodríguez MD, Cuba
    Francisco Rojas Ochoa MD PhD, Cuba
    Martha Ruben MD PhD, Canada
    Anthony Samsel, USA
    Dámaso Sanz MD, Spain
    Cristina Schneider MD, PAHO, USA
    Elena Schwolsky-Fitch RN MPH, USA
    Stephanie Seneff PhD, USA
    Graciela Beatriz Serra MD, Argentina
    Suresh Sharma MD, India
    Gustavo Sierra MD PhD, Cuba
    Luis Carlos Silva PhD, Cuba
    Augusto Sola MD, USA
    Patricio Suárez, Spain
    Ramón Suárez MD MS, Cuba
    Reina Valdés MD, Cuba
    Sanjay Yadav MD, India
    Caridad Zurita MS PhD, Cuba
    We also thank the following colleagues
    for their invaluable review of research
    methodology and statistical data in
    manuscripts submitted to MEDICC
    Review during 2013:
    Gisele Coutin MD MS, biostatistician
    Iván Cuevas MD MS MPH, epidemiologist
    Joel Dubin PhD, biostatistician
    Esther María Fajardo MS, biologist
    Jose Fernández MD MS, epidemiologist
    Eloisa Le Riverend MS, virologist
    Minerva Nogueira MD MS, histologist
    Natacha Rivera PhD, psychologist
    Silvio Soler MS, biostatistician

    Structure of the Cuban Healthcare System ( Cuba Health Care Research Trip 2010 A group of North American medical professional’s experience studying the Cuban medical system.)

    There are 470 polyclinics throughout the country – in urban neighborhoods and in rural towns. Each polyclinic serves between 14-30 family doctor’s offices. Whereas the family doctor’s offices offer basic evaluation and treatment and health education, the polyclinics have laboratory services, x-ray, an emergency room, and rotating specialists. Throughout the country there are 289 maternity homes – these are facilities where high-risk pregnant women can await labor while being monitored by nurses and with daily physician visits. Women who live very far from a maternity hospital may also stay in one of these homes during the last few weeks of their pregnancy. With labor the women are transferred to one of Cuba’s maternity hospitals. Each region has specialty hospitals, including maternity hospitals, pediatric hospitals, surgical hospitals, and psychiatric hospitals. At the Havana Regional Maternity Hospital, below, about 4,400 babies are born each year The specialty hospitals have modern high-tech equipment: Infant are monitored at maternity hospital. ..and a tobacco farmer told us of being taken to Havana when he had a heart attack and undergoing angioplasty and stent placement in his coronary artery

    A group of government, hospital, academic and public-health leaders from the Akron area recently traveled to Cuba to learn ways to improve local medical care.

    Why Cuba?

    “What I wanted to do was put together a trip that would focus on taking people from the community here… to Cuba to get a sense of how a poor country has managed to actually create a health system that actually has the same health status of the United States — and they do it for a lot less money,” said trip organizer Dr. C. William Keck, former director of health for the city of Akron and a past president of the American Public Health Association.

    Mayor Don Plusquellic, Akron Planning Director Marco Sommerville, Summit County Executive Russ Pry and Summa President and Chief Executive Thomas J. Strauss were among those who went on the weeklong trip. Sommerville attended because he is Akron’s representative on the Summit County Board of Health.

    For some, including Plusquellic, this was a maiden voyage to Cuba. Not for Keck, though, who has been making regular trips to study the universal public health-care system in Cuba as a board member for a nonprofit group called Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, or MEDICC for short.

    MEDICC promotes cooperation among Cuba, the United States and other countries “to improve health outcomes and equity, offering the Cuban experience to inform global debate, policies and practice.”

    According to MEDICC, Cuba has the lowest infant mortality rate in the hemisphere. The group’s research has found a child born in the eastern mountains of Cuba has a better chance of surviving than a baby born in Washington, D.C.

    Cuba has managed to create strong health-care services with a focus on wellness and disease prevention “by collaborating across both governmental and community sectors,” Keck said.

    “Everybody there has a doctor, and they see that doctor at no charge to themselves,” he said.

    Keck thought local leaders could learn ideas that could be used to help residents in the Akron area by visiting Cuban hospitals and doctors’ offices and meeting with public-health officials there.

    “Their resources are so limited that they do their best to prevent stuff, rather than wait until it develops and you have to use more expensive treatments,” Keck said. “It’s a nice approach, one that we should emulate.”

    He said he’s concerned a local health-promotion initiative called the Accountable Care Community has been floundering lately after its leader recently left the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron for another job opportunity.

    The Accountable Care Community started several years ago to pull together local hospitals, doctors, public-health agencies and social-services organizations in Akron to improve the overall health of the region’s population. Initial efforts focused on helping diabetic patients better manage their chronic illness.

    The idea was to get local government and health-care leaders together in Cuba “and really focus on what’s there and hopefully use the example in Cuba as a stimulus to re-energize our efforts,” Keck said.

    During the trip, the 15 participants also visited several Cuban biotech businesses and met with American students studying medicine in Cuba who might be interested in coming to Akron for hospital or clinic rotations, Keck said.

    Going forward, the trip’s participants agreed to continue to meet to discuss ways to move the Accountable Care Community initiative forward, he said.

    “I think the trip worked very well,” he said.

    Plusquellic, who has long wanted to travel to Cuba, also thinks the trip will be beneficial. He said the federal health-care act requires communities to develop programs that aim to keep people healthy rather than having them pay for medical care after they’ve gotten sick.

    Plusquellic said the city saved money by merging its health department with Summit County’s and this savings could be used “as seed money to start something new” to promote preventive care.

    Plusquellic and other leaders who attended the trip plan to continue to meet to brainstorm ideas for how what they learned can be applied in Akron and Summit County.

    Akron USA, a nonprofit group set up by Plusquellic when he was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, paid for Plusquellic’s trip. The city paid for Sommerville’s trip, which cost about $5,000.

    Plusquellic said he is bothered by how — because of the embargo against Cuba — the United States cannot provide used medical equipment to Cuba and Cuba cannot give medicine to the United States.

    He said Cuba has a diabetes drug that he thinks might have saved a friend of his who died from complications from diabetes. He said he may bring a resolution to Akron City Council urging the federal government to allow exceptions to the embargo for medical equipment and medicine that could be beneficial to both countries.

    “If nothing else, Americans ought to have the right to the best medical care,” Plusquellic said. “The U.S. won’t let it in. I know this guy could have been saved.”

  23. LINK FOR THIS POST & STATISTICS DEAR! GRACIAS!!

    Omar Fundora on March 6, 2014 at 10:41 am said:

    The Cuban GDP today is primarily government spending. State enterprises have been declining for a very long time. In the U.S., the government fiscal policy is 22% of GDP, the rest comes primarily from the private sector. Cuba government spending is 60% of GDP, State enterprises are 20% of GDP. The other 20% is not conclusive (black market??..self-employed???) ….

    CUBA’S GDP

  24. Humberto: what statistics are you referring to…I will be glad to share them with you…

  25. The myth of Castro tyranny about the success of the Cuban Health Care System, is debunked by an article titled “Re-examining the Cuban Health Care System.” The author, University of Oklahoma Professor Katherine Hirschfeld University of Oklahoma, spent nine months in the island living with a Cuban family and interviewing family doctors, medical specialists, social workers, nurses and patients as part of her research. Katherine Hirschfeld , Vol. 2, Issue 3-July 2007.
    Link: http://romancatholicworld.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/re-examining-the-cuban-health-care-system-towards-a-qualitative-critique-katherine-hirschfeld.pdf

  26. WHAT A HYPOCRITE! Nicolas Maduro ASKING FOR RESPECT AND DIALOGUE FROM THE US GOVERNMENT! WHY NOT TRY THAT WITH YOUR OPPOSITION Nicolas! MAYBE ALL THAT BIRD WATCHING HAS YOU ALL CONFUSED DEAR!
    VIDEO CNN INTERVIEW EXCERPT Nicolas Maduro – Christiane Amanpour speaks with Venezuelan President Maduro. English translation was provided by the President’s office.
    http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/03/06/maduro-amanpour-us-relations-america-christiane-nicolas-venezuela.cnn.html

  27. AWW Nick! STILL VILIFYING ANYONE WHO CRITICIZES THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS AND THEIR BOSSES THE CASTROFASCISTS! DID YOU SEE THOSE VIDEOS DEAR? ARE THEY FROM THE CIA BACKLOT? DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER CONSPIRACIES???
    AND AS FAR AS A “SONG”, NO ONE CAN BEAT Nicolas Maduro WITH HIS VISION OF Hugo Chavez AS A LITTLE BIRD! CANT BEAT THAT! AND IS NOT “BAD VENEZUELA” IT’S BAD Nicolas Maduro! YOU CASTRO AGENTS ALWAYS WANT TO EQUATE THE PEOPLE WITH THE DICTATOR SO THEIR CRITICS COME OFF AS MEAN AND EVIL! SUCH A TRANSPARENT PROPAGANDA TOOL DEAR! BUT THE MORE YOU USE IT, THE MORE OBVIOUS IT BECOMES! BUT AS PITBULL SAYS!! DALE!!!!!!!

    SPEAKING OF THE BIRDWATCHER! Nicolas Maduro WILL BE INTERVIEWS TOMORROW BY Christiane Amanpour! I HOPE WE CAN ALL SEE THAT LITTLE BIRD Chavez SO HE WILL BE VINDICATED FROM BEING CALLED A NUT! JE JE JE!

    CNN en Español : Christiane Amanpour Cara a Cara con Nicolás Maduro
    Friday, March 7, 2014 – Time10:30pm in EST
    Luego de que el presidente Nicolás Maduro amenazara con expulsar a CNN de Venezuela y limitar su habilidad para reportar desde ese país, el mandatario venezolano ofreció una entrevista exclusiva y en profundidad a Christiane Amanpour. La entrevista será transmitida a nivel mundial en todas las plataformas de CNN: CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN/US & CNN dot Com
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1470612296485431/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

  28. HUMBY!!!
    Hope you are keeping well….
    You seem to have a song stuck in your head.
    Its called the Bad Old Venezuela song.
    The song does not contain your lyrics.
    Merely the lyrics of others.
    The song has no verses,
    but too many repetitions of the same old imperialistic chorus………

  29. Hank,
    ‘revolting’ is a strong word.
    Which is more revolting???
    Someone who passes comment on a country they know very well….
    or
    Someone who has never been there, claims to be some kind of a democrat yet advocates the continuation of the vulgar imperialist policies of some of the most crude and powerful right wing politicians on the planet ?????

    Which is more revolting Hank ???
    The deaths of people trying to leave ‘Communist’ Cuba to get to the USA….
    Or the deaths of those who attempt to cross the border from ‘capitalist’ Mexico to ‘capitalist’ USA.

    Perhaps the most revolting thing is the fact of the endless continuation of such sickening disparities of wealth and opportunity between certain parts of the world and certain other parts of the world ???

    But you tell me Hank….
    Now you have introduced the term ‘revolting’ and you obviously feel you have some god given expertise in when this word is or is not applicable….

    How about your country being one a very tiny minority of countries in the world which still sends mentally ill people to be killed in the electric chair ???

    Where does that register on your little ‘revolting’ scale Hank ????

    You live in a glass house Hank,
    but you just keep on throwing stones.

  30. Simba,

    Good point.

    All statistics used about Cuba come from Castro.

    You can be sure he doesn’t use dead balseros in his figures.

    You can be sure all of Cuba’s social statistics are as valid as Mao’s and Stalin’s.

    Yet the International Armchair Socialist Castro Fan Club swears by them.

  31. Simba Sez: Do the life expectancy figures take the Balseros into consideration, or are they no longer considered Cubans once they get past 12 miles from shore?

  32. COME ON, WE CUBANS KNOW THIS! NOW THE REST OF THE WORLD IS STARTING TO UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE LIES AND MANIPULATIONS OF THE CASTROFASCISTS! AND PLEASE, Omar Fundora WHERE ART THOSE STATISTICS FROM DEAR? CAN YOU PROVIDE LINK? GRACIAS!

    Cuba Manipulating Health Care Statistics – Experts: Socialist regime trying to enhance its legitimacy – by Daniel Wiser

    Cuba’s socialist regime continues to engage in widespread manipulation of its health care statistics to enhance its legitimacy abroad, experts say.

    The issue of Cuba’s health care record came up again recently after Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) visited the island in January, telling reporters afterward that Cuba is a “poor country” but “their public health system is quite remarkable.” He said Cuba has a lower child mortality rate than the United States and a higher life expectancy.
    Dr. Rodolfo Stusser, former adviser to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, said in an email that the ministry has contrived its health data since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

    Stusser conducted his own personal research on Cuba’s health care system since 1800, but has been unable to review more data in recent years. Officials at Cuba’s Health Statistics Bureau told him in 2009 that old archives had been lost in a fire.

    Stusser presented research last year to the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) showing that declining infant and gross mortality rates predated Castro’s takeover. However, health care successes in Cuba’s colonial and republican eras “have been systematically erased or distorted,” he said in the report.

    Cuba had the 14th lowest infant mortality rate in the world in 1958, lower than France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Cuba has the 42nd lowest rate today, according to 2013 estimates in the CIA’s World Factbook.

    While Cuba’s infant mortality rate is lower than the United States, Stusser said Cuban authorities use heavy-handed methods to keep it that way.

    Doctors in Cuba’s public health system are pressured to induce abortions for potentially problematic pregnancies in order to artificially lower the infant mortality rate. Stusser estimated that if the deaths of living fetuses older than 21 weeks had been reported, Cuba’s infant mortality rate would be at least 50 percent higher.

    Katherine Hirschfeld, chairwoman of the anthropology department at the University of Oklahoma, said in an email that she observed similar practices in Cuba in the 1990s.

    One doctor told Hirschfeld that not encouraging abortions for fetuses with abnormalities “might raise the infant mortality rate.” She said Cuba lacks neonatal intensive care wards that would prevent the deaths of infants with genetic defects, creating additional pressure to abort them and keep mortality rates low.

    “The Cuban government’s approach to health and health care seems to prioritize the health of ‘the revolution’ above the health of individual patients,” she said. “This means doctors must hit specific statistical targets for their communities.”

    Cuba’s life expectancy statistics are also disputed.

    The United States has a life expectancy of 78.62 years compared to 78.05 in Cuba, according to CIA estimates. Data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), by contrast, gives Cuba a slightly higher life expectancy.

    Hirschfeld said there is reason to be “skeptical” of PAHO’s data because it relies on self-reported health statistics that are not independently verified.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://freebeacon.com/cuba-manipulating-health-care-statistics/

  33. The Cuban GDP today is primarily government spending. State enterprises have been declining for a very long time. In the U.S., the government fiscal policy is 22% of GDP, the rest comes primarily from the private sector. Cuba government spending is 60% of GDP, State enterprises are 20% of GDP. The other 20% is not conclusive (black market??..self-employed???) ….

    CUBA’S GDP

    The government share of GDP fell during the post-Soviet recession but then increased steadily all the way to 2009. The increase reflected the growth of current government expenditure; government investment—which accounts for the bulk of economy-wide capital formation—fell in percent of GDP. Total investment by all sectors also fell, to a very low level compared with the averages for other country groups and particularly for the emerging market and transition countries. The share of government spending declined from 2010 to 2011 following the financial crisis of 2008.

    The share of the non-state sector GDP rose in the period 1993-1999 from a very low level in the Soviet-dominated period of the 1980’s. It changed little in the first decade of the XXIst century, but surged in 2011-2012 reflecting a transfer of employees form the state sector. Nevertheless, the non-state and private sector shares of the economy remains very small by international standards and notably by the standards of the countries in transition.

    The relative importance of the state enterprises appears to have declined all the way from 1995 to 2009, but it has recovered somewhat since then.

    National income in the government sector is lower than GDP because of interest payments on the external debt and, apparently, because of official transfers to foreigners.

    By contrast, income in the non-state sector exceeds GDP by a growing margin, essentially because of dollar remittances from Cuban-Americans abroad. Thus, in that sector income from domestic production is being increasingly supplemented by income from abroad.

    There is a statistically significant tendency for government current spending to crowd out the output of the state enterprises. Non-state output, on the other hand, appears to evolve mainly in response to official decisions to liberalize or to repress the non-state sector

  34. Allowing real estate ownership in Cuba
    This reform counts as a human rights improvement because it a) expands economic freedom and advances private property rights by ending a prohibition on normal, beneficial transactions that affected all Cuban families, and b) it ends a long despised aspect of Cuban immigration law by repealing the requirement that emigrants forfeit their property to the government.

    The market is producing one effect that officials desired the reacomodo or “rearranging” whereby homeowners with excess space are selling, buying smaller homes, and coming out ahead with a bank balance from which they can live or retire.

    But home sales alone are not destined to solve Cuba’s housing shortage. While the measures that encourage home construction are having an effect, they are still being developed and implemented and their full impact will not become clear for several years.

    The absence of mortgage finance stands out as a major impediment to expansion of this young real estate market. Demand in this market, and consequently the expansion of the housing stock, is constrained by the lack of credit. In a market where full payment must be made at the time of purchase, the universe of Cuban buyers consists mainly of those who have sold a home or those who receive capital from a relative abroad. A monthly payment of approximately $200 would amortize a $25,000 loan at a five percent interest rate over 15 years. While many Cubans cannot afford such a monthly expense, $200 per month is affordable to many who work as entrepreneurs or for foreign businesses or elsewhere in the hard currency sector, and it would put modestly priced housing within their reach. Assistance to low income buyers could further expand affordability.

    A justice ministry official says that consideration is being given to having Cuban banks offer home mortgage loans or other lending mechanisms. “But if so, no one would be put out on the street in case of default,” she says, adding that “the system of social justice will never be put at risk.” One option in case of default would be for the state to assume ownership of the property with the resident permitted to continue residing there, she says

  35. critical observation: Violence, sex and love ….in the adolescent mind are the most important things to talk about….peace, inclusiveness and spiritual lifting ideas to improve everyone’s life is rare …. that is the reason why some countries gravitate to central governments instead of democratic societies with the principle of one man one vote….

  36. Yoani, in her article “Conduct, with “C” of Cuba”, about the Cuban movie “Conduct” writes, “After the projector is turned off, the doors open and the viewers exit to reality similar to the script.” This reality is the image of a Havana in ruins, filthy, its people living in extreme poverty among the garbage, some of them earning their living by collecting and sorting the garbage and selling them for recycling.

    The film “Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins”, shows the daily life of four people living in a filthy Havana full of garbage, in decrepit buildings under constant threat of crumbling down. The film capture the decay of the city, given the impression that it has been bombarded.

    Part 4 of the series “Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins.”
    Link: http://babalublog.com/2014/01/28/babalu-exclusive-havana-the-new-art-of-making-ruins-part-4-of-6/#more-144865

    At the top of article, after Bert Corzo name, if you click on (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3) it give you access to part 1 to 3.

    The Urban Reform Law of 1960 expropriated the property of urban landowners and the tenements (cuarterias) without compensation. For over 50 years the Castroit regime has been the owner of all buildings. It has not allow the people to sell their homes to other individuals. They only could sell them to the regime, which would determine their value, in detriment of the so call “owner.”

  37. More Cubans have just been rescued from death on the high seas trying to escape the criminal Castro dictatorship.

    In spite of this, we continue to read idiotic posts in this comment section from stupid people who say they

    “have spent a portion of [their] life in Cuba. Therefore [they] feel qualified, to at least some degree, to pass comment on the situation there.”

    And yet these stupid people continue to support and make excuses for the tyranny while they fly in and out of Cuba on airplanes. Amazing and simply revolting.

    Real Cubans are trying to escape real Cuba every day on rafts. Some of them get real lucky and live. Others don’t and die.

    Read the story “Cruise ship rescues 24 stranded Cubans” Here:

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/05/travel/carnival-cruise-rescues-stranded-cubans-irpt/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

  38. I agree, Humberto.

    The pro-Cuban dictatorship contributors are boring everyone to death on this comment section. Strange tactic, but it won’t deflect anyone from the issues.

    Meanwhile, back at home on the island, the dictatorship is increasing the repression of its enslaved people.

    Why? Because it can and probably feels that it must.

    I loved the symbolism in the video you posted of the Cuban flag being hoisted in honor of Dictator Raul’s visit to Venezuela and watching it detach from the flag pole and fall.

    When will we be done with Castro’s stupid slogans like “progress without acceleration” and his fake admonition that “every issue must be submitted constantly to critical observations” which results in no change and even more repression, as Yoani has just described in her post?

    The Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation documented 1051 arbitrary detentions for political reasons by the Cuban dictatorship during the month of February 2014. This degree of human rights repression is similar in intensity to the two previous months (between 1,000 and 1,200 arrests) and close to double the monthly average arrests in the previous two years.

    In other words, repression and Human Rights Violations are dramatically increasing in Cuba. The numbers show it.

    To read more about the Cuban dictatorship’s increasing repression of its own people, go here:

    http://www.unpacu.org/ccdhrns-report-on-cuba-1051-arbitrary-detentions-for-political-reasons-in-february-2014/

  39. AWESOME SONG & VIDEO BY Carlos Baute! NO NEED FOR TRANSLATION!

    CARLOS ROBERTO BAUTE JIMENEZ (born March 8, 1974; Caracas, Venezuela), best known simply as Carlos Baute, is a Venezuelan singer and television host. His music is mostly in the Latin pop genre, with some ballads and Bachata. He is the son of Alfonso Baute and Clara Jiménez and he is of Spanish (his father is from Tenerife and his maternal great-grandparents are from Galicia), Cuban (his maternal grandmother) and Venezuelan descent. At age 13, he joined Los Chamos, which released an album entitled “Con un poco de Amor” in 1990. He worked as a model and released his first solo album entitled “Orígenes I” in 1994. He acted in the Venezuelan telenovela, “Destino de Mujer” (1997), as Pedro José, a swimming instructor. With the album “Yo nací para querer…” (1999), he moved to Spain and had much success with all his albums. He acted in the television series “Aladinna” (TVE), “Mis Adorables Vecinos” (Antena 3) and was the host of “Gala Miss España”, “Gala IB3”, “Gala Fin de Año de TVE1”.

    Baute has released six albums, including a greatest hits album. In 2008, he released De Mi Puño Y Letra, which included “Colgando En Tus Manos”. He released two versions, one solo and one with Marta Sánchez. The duet rose to the top of the charts in many Spanish-speaking countries worldwide.

    Although well known in many Hispanic countries, he has not crossed over into many other markets.

    In October 2012, he released a duet with Laura Pausini of the song “Las cosas que no me espero”. He now lives in Spain and has Spanish .

  40. talking about criticism…..Sugar production that starts in December every year is not going to meet production goals. The Mills need repair, one mill is owned by a foreign company and there are 7 others for sale….there is no way to oppress this story from Cubans or the World…

    HAVANA, March 4 (Reuters) – For the third consecutive year Cuba’s reorganized sugar industry is failing to perform up to expectations, increasing pressure on the government to open up the once proud sector to foreign investment.

    Already one mill, the first since the industry was nationalized soon after the 1959 revolution, is under foreign management, with at least seven others on the auction block.

    AZCUBA, the state-run holding company that replaced the Sugar Ministry three years ago, announced plans to produce 1.8 million tonnes of raw sugar this season, 18 percent more than last season’s 1.6 million tonnes.

    But the harvest is 20 percent behind schedule, sugar reporter Juan Varela Perez wrote recently in Granma, the Communist Party daily.

    “Continuous and heavy rainfall in almost all provinces of the country has affected the harvest since January,” state-run Radio Rebelde said late last week, reporting on a meeting of AZCUBA executives at the end of February.

    “To this has been added the habitual problems of inputs arriving late, disorganization and the poor quality and slowness of repairs,” the report said.

    “These days it is a true odyssey to go through a harvest. The mills need more profound repairs, but that costs millions upon millions of dollars,” Manuel Osorio, a mill worker in eastern Granma province, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

    “So they do some superficial repairs and start grinding and immediately the problems begin and this year to top it off it is hot and raining almost every day. The cane needs cool and dry weather to mature. If not, it is like milling weeds.”

    The sugar harvest begins in December with the “winter” season and runs into May, with January through March the key months as dry and cool weather increases yields, but not this year.

    “I can’t remember a wetter winter and it is almost impossible to harvest,” sugarcane cutter Arnaldo Hernandez said in a telephone interview from eastern Holguin province.

    Cuban sugar plantations lack adequate drainage, making harvesting by machine difficult when it rains, and humid weather retards the production of sugar in cane.

    “Going into the plantations is a heroic task, and when the cane reaches the mills it yields little sugar,” Hernandez said. “Look, even the Guaraperas (sugarcane juice) they sell in the city is like water. I know because I tried some myself yesterday.”

    Rainfall was twice the average for the month in key eastern and central provinces through most of February, according to official media.

    “So far this year 115.2 millimeters (4.5 inches) of rain has fallen in (the eastern province of) Las Tunas, twice the historic average,” the National Information Agency reported in late February. The agency said the harvest in Las Tunas was 35,000 tonnes of raw sugar behind schedule to date toward a plan of 194,000 tonnes through May.

    A similar situation was reported in central Villa Clara, where the goal is 218,000 tonnes, and in central Camaguey, which reported production to date was 13 percent, or 11,000 tonnes, below plan.

    INVESTMENT OPENING

    Cuba produced just 1.2 million tonnes of raw sugar three seasons ago when AZCUBA was formed, compared with 8 million tonnes in the early 1990s, before the demise of the Soviet Union led to the industry’s near collapse.

    Industry plans call for an annual average increase in output of 15 percent through 2016, though over the last three harvests the increase has been 12 percent, according to AZCUBA.

    The poor performance so far this year may accelerate AZCUBA’s plans to open the sector to private investment.

    This year, the Cuban Chamber of Commerce listed seven more sugar mills as candidates for foreign investment, all of which were built after the revolution and are therefore not subject to claims by previous owners.

    The remaining 48 mills in the country were all built more than 60 years ago.

    This month the Cuban National Assembly is expected to pass a new foreign investment law that makes the island, and agriculture, more investor friendly.

    Odebrecht SA, a Brazilian corporation, began administering a mill in central Cienfuegos province this year, the first foreign company allowed into the industry since 1959.

    Odebrecht subsidiary, Compañía de Obras en Infraestructura, plans to upgrade the mill as well as the supporting farm and transport sectors, and has expressed an interest in other mills, as have a number of other foreign companies.

    Its 13-year contract calls for an investment of around $140 million to increase output to more than 120,000 tonnes of raw sugar from 40,000 tonnes.

    Cuba consumes between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of sugar a year and has an agreement to sell China 400,000 tonnes annually, with what remains sold to other countries.

  41. ALJAZEERA NEWS:Awe and fear: Politicised gangs of Venezuela – by Chris Arsenault – 08 Jun 2013

    Tupamaros enforce rough justice in Venezuela’s slums to support socialism, but critics say the group are violent thugs.
    This collective – which could be described either as a “politicised gang”, or a “community protection squad”, depending on one’s point of view – maintains a degree of order in the January 23 barrio, allegedly working with Venezuela’s socialist government and dealing ruthlessly with opponents.

    As insecurity continues to plague Venezuela, collectives such as Juancho’s Tupamaros are set to play an increasingly important role in defending the “Bolivarian Revolution” inspired by former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

    “Violence is a tool,” Juancho, a leading figure in the Marxist group, told Al Jazeera in an April interview following a Tupamaro meeting in Caracas. “It’s going to be seen as something good or bad depending on your interests.”

    “If the opposition had won the last election by a small margin, we wouldn’t accept that,” he said of the campaign led by Henrique Capriles against now-President Nicolas Maduro. “If the opposition wanted to set up an office here in January 23, that would be impossible,” he said, as members of his group would use force to stop them.

    Al Jazeera visited a meeting of the Tupamaros in April where the group planned strategy, but was not allowed to take notes on the proceedings or photograph the participants, aside from Juancho.

    “In January 23, the collectives are the authority, they set the rules for living,” Jose, a former officer with Venezuelan military intelligence (DISP) told Al Jazeera, requesting anonymity for fear of violent reprisal. “If you get along with them, you’ll have no problems, but if you compete with them in the drug business there will be trouble. It’s even worse in ideological terms.”
    To infiltrate the group during the 1990s, DISP sent in an undercover agent posing as a left-wing journalist who would feed information to Jose.

    Jose then registered a basketball team in the January 23 ghetto to get involved in the community and monitor developments. “They have two faces: a dark face and a public face,” the former officer said.

    “They were involved with drug trafficking and kidnapping on one hand and social-cultural work and sports on the other. They did some things that were good for their community. The money they would raise, they would use to arm themselves.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/06/20136714438856229.html

  42. To criticize does not necessarily imply “to find fault”, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice, or a disapproval. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean “taking sides”. It could just be an exploration of the different sides of an issue. Fighting is not necessarily involved.

    Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but it need not be. It could be friendly criticism, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism (“keeping people sharp”, “providing the critical edge”). The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated ‘distinguished criticism’.

    Another meaning of criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends. The goal of this type of criticism is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, the attempt is often made to evaluate how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.

    Criticism as an evaluative or corrective exercise can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many different forms. How exactly people go about criticizing, can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavour, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to understand the criticism.

    Critical theory is a school of thought that stresses the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. As a term, critical theory has two meanings with different origins and histories: the first originated in sociology and the second originated in literary criticism, whereby it is used and applied as an umbrella term that can describe a theory founded upon critique; thus, the theorist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them. This is why the Cuban State is selective on the type of criticism the State will tolerate…

    In philosophy, the term critical theory describes the neo-Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s. Frankfurt theorists drew on the critical methods of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Critical theory maintains that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation. Critical theory was established as a school of thought primarily by five Frankfurt School theoreticians: Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and Erich Fromm. Modern critical theory has been influenced by György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci as well as the second generation Frankfurt School scholars, including Jürgen Habermas. In Habermas’s work, critical theory transcended its theoretic roots in German idealism, and progressed closer to American pragmatism. Concern for social “base and superstructure” is one of the remaining Marxist philosophic concepts in much of the contemporary critical theory.

    While critical theorists have been frequently defined as Marxist intellectuals their tendency to denounce some Marxist concepts and to combine Marxian analysis with other sociologic and philosophic traditions has been labeled as revisionism by Classical, Orthodox, and Analytical Marxists, and by Marxist-Leninist philosophers. Martin Jay has stated that the first generation of critical theory is best understood as not promoting a specific philosophical agenda or a specific ideology, but as “a gadfly of other systems…..this is the new understanding of criticism that Cuban leaders have not integrated into their political being and if they are serious about “catching up” to the 21st. Century World, they must integrate and disseminate to its cadres….

  43. A Note from the Site Manager on comments that go to spam:

    Please understand that it’s not clear why some comments go to spam, and when I see them there, I approve them. Sometimes readers repost comments to see if they will go through AND THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, they often do go through on a second try.

    I am writing to say that when I see the same comment in spam three times, I try to approve one and delete the other two and I APOLOGIZE if I accidentally delete comments I should have approved because I thought they were duplicates, or for any other reason.

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