A Day Without the Self-Employed

The sleep of reason produces monsters. Francisco Goya

The day started with a certain nightmarish atmosphere. The little sip of morning coffee was missing, because the seller with a thermos and paper cups wasn’t on the corner. So she dragged her feet to the bus stop, while keeping an eye out for a collective taxi. Nothing. Not even an old Chevrolet came down the avenue, nor was there one of those ingenuous station wagons that can fit up to twelve people anywhere in sight. After an hour’s wait she managed to climb on the bus, irritated that she didn’t even have a little paper cone of peanuts to calm the hunger pangs emanating from her stomach.

At work that day she couldn’t do much. The director didn’t make it in because the woman who cares for her daughter was absent. The same thing happened with the administrator; her Russian-made Lada blew a tire and the tire-repair guy in her neighborhood closed early. At the lunch break the food trays were so empty they barely weighed a thing. The guy with the cart selling vegetables and tubers, with which they stretch the lunch menu, didn’t come by. The head of public relations had a nervous breakdown because he couldn’t print the photos he needed for a visa. The door of the nearest studio had a sign saying “Not Open Today,” so his travel plans were ruined.

She decided to walk home to avoid having to wait. Her son asked if there was something to snack on, but the bread delivery man, with his sharp cry, hadn’t shown up. Nor were the pizza kiosks open, and a raid on the farmers market had left all the stands empty. For dinner she cooked the little she found and washed the dishes with a rag from an old shirt, because there weren’t any vendors selling dish mops. On top of everything, the fan wouldn’t go on and the appliance repairman wasn’t in his workshop.

She went to bed, in a pool of sweat, uncomfortable, hoping she would wake up to the return these figures who make her life possible: the self-employed, without whom her days are a sequence of deprivations and aggravations.

33 thoughts on “A Day Without the Self-Employed

  1. hank, I was blocked from answering your question in another location….

    Hank: if you want to debate free speech in Cuba, let’s start with what Free Speech is …

    Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise protected.

    The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.

    Hank: when it comes to Cuba….all Cuba’s enemies forget the last sentence….the argument regarding Free Speech in Cuba is not the lack of Free Speech in Cuba, it is about the language of the law regarding integrity, national security, etc…that it is too general and can be used as a “gag” on Cuban citizens without impunity. It is very difficult in Cuba for defense lawyers to do a good job on the issue of Free Speech. The law is skewed in favor of the State. It is a very bias law. They know it and every time the issue comes up, the Helms-B law in the United States with its regime change in Cuba mandate, justifies the generality of the law in Cuba because of National Security issues. This is why I am excited to see the outcome with Yoani’s venture of a “independent” digital newspaper in Cuba. I think there is a way to exercise Free Speech in Cuba without violating Cuban Law and still provide mass distribution of information that is un-bias, independent and avoid accusations of violating the law.

  2. Getting back to the video Humberto posted in the last thread, the one about a 20 minute tour of Havana.

    Thank you for posting it, Humberto.

    That place is absolutely appalling.

    There is no traffic. There is no commerce. There’s nothing.

    People wander about looking through trash for things that might be useful.

    The buildings in Havana are literally cracking apart and falling down.

    I cannot imagine living in such a place with the fear of my roof suddenly collapsing and killing me. These are images of the capital of Cuba — Havana. Think what must be going on elsewhere on that island.

    This is the result of 50+ years of the castro family’s dictatorial insanity.

  3. VERY INTERESTING NEWS! LETS SEE WHAT THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS SAY!

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Friday it was “willing and desirous” to intervene diplomatically in Venezuela’s crisis after weeks of deadly unrest but says it must study expectations and options about what role it could play.

    On Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accepted the idea of a good-faith facilitator after coming under mounting pressure to reconcile with opponents who have been protesting for nearly three months. He mentioned Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, until last year the Vatican’s ambassador to Caracas.

    Critics of Maduro’s socialist administration have pressed for Vatican involvement: Shortly before he was arrested, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez wrote an open letter to Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, asking him to guide the country.

    The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Friday the Holy See and Parolin were “certainly willing and desirous to do whatever is possible for the good and serenity of the country.” He said Parolin, in particular, “knows and loves” Venezuela.

    But he said the Vatican needed to have more information to understand “the expectations and the premise for undertaking a useful role that could achieve the desired outcome.” Such a study, he said, was underway.

    The oil-rich nation has been widely criticized for its harsh crackdown on opponents protesting inflation, crime and shortages. Clashes between protesters and loyalists have left more than 30 people dead.

    While direct Vatican mediation in conflicts is rare, the Holy See’s diplomats often works behind the scenes and have helped resolve conflicts in Latin America before.

    In 1978, Pope John Paul II sent an envoy to help Francis’ native Argentina and Chile reach a compromise on a territorial dispute. The two countries had been on the brink of war over the Beagle Channel and its islands.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/28/vatican-venezuela-_n_5051984.html

  4. the self employed is a new breed of citizen in Cuba. There are around 400,000 out of a country with 12 Million people. Their autonomy, independence and profit taking is viewed as a necessary evil by the State, yet, the self-employed has been and will continue to be an important economic force in Cuba because it provide services and products that may be scarce in the government institutions. However, these group of Cuban citizens are operating with a new paradigm which makes them different then the rest of the People. How is the Socialist Democratic Model of Cuba going to be shape by these new citizens. How is the government of Cuba going to integrate lessons learned from the self-employed to run the country in the near term. We have to keep watching as the transition continues….hopefully it makes Cuba a more Democratic Society in the long run

  5. KUDOS TO MEXICAN JOURNALIST Fernando del Rincón OF CNN!! YOU ARE AWESOME! FOR THOSE WHO CAN UNDERSTAND SPANISH, THIS IS HIS INTERVIEW VIA TEXT OF OPPOSITION LEADER Leopoldo Lopez WHO IS IN PRISON FOR NO REASON AT ALL OTHER THAN SUPPORTING THE STUDENT PROTESTERS! WISH SOMEONE WOULD TRANSLATE THIS VIDEO!

    CNN Español VIDEO: Entrevista a Leopoldo López desde la cárcel, en exclusiva para Conclusiones con Fernando del Rincón. El equipo de Conclusiones obtuvo una entrevista exclusiva, desde la cárcel de Ramo Verde, con el líder opositor venezolano Leopoldo López, en la que habla de sus condiciones de reclusión, su situación legal y el futuro de las protestas en Venezuela. En la reveladora carta, López cuenta también cómo fue la llegada de los alcaldes Daniel Ceballos y Enzo Scarano. El opositor denuncia además el aislamiento al que está siendo sometido y dice que a pesar de haber denunciado a miembros de la Fiscalía el trato aislado que se le da, aún no ha obtenido respuesta. Es una carta conmovedora donde reafirma que para él su sacrificio ha valido la pena ya que cree que su encarcelamiento ha servido para despertar la conciencia de miles de venezolanos. Lee aquí la entrevista completa y mira los documentos originales:

    http://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2014/03/27/conclull/

  6. THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS DONT KNOW HOW POWERFUL THE CUBANS ARE IN CONGRESS! WE EVEN HAVE A DEMOCRAT!! THE DICTATOR Nicolas Maduro BETTER BACK DOWN ON THE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE!

    SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ PRESS RELEASE: Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela: “I am truly alarmed by the speed at which President Maduro is eliminating the remaining vestiges of democracy in Venezuela. The removal of three elected members of Venezuela’s National Assembly – Maria Corina Machado being the most recent – is blatantly unconstitutional and nothing short of authoritarian,” said Menendez. “The silencing of opposition voices in the National Assembly marks yet another sad episode for Venezuelans seeking to enjoy the freedom of a functioning democracy.” “I call on leaders throughout the hemisphere and around the globe to condemn President Maduro’s illegitimate and undemocratic actions. As we await the results of the visit to Caracas by foreign ministers of South American countries, it is my hope that they will demand decisive steps to secure the release of all political prisoners, prevent future arrests of opposition leaders and halt further attacks against political opponents.”

    “Finally, it is my sincere desire that the ambassadors to the Organization of American States live up to the expectations of their citizens by taking a stronger stance in defense of human rights and democracy in Venezuela”
    http://www.menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/press/chairman-menendez-statement-on-venezuela

  7. BEST JOKE OF THE WEEK, KEYWORD “PROMISING”: “President Raul Castro’s government is PROMISING legal protections to persuade foreign investors to risk their capital in the Soviet-style economy, and new incentives such as the dramatically lowered tax.”

    MERCOPRESS: Cuba ready to implement an ambitious foreign investment with generous tax breaks – Cuba’s government has released further information on a proposed foreign investment law that will cut the profits tax in half and exempt investors from paying it for eight years in an attempt to attract capital into the communist economy.

    President Raul Castro’s government is promising legal protections to persuade foreign investors to risk their capital in the Soviet-style economy, and new incentives such as the dramatically lowered tax.

    “The Cuban government has a major credibility gap to overcome with foreign investors. Investors will want evidence, not just legislation, that Cuba is prepared to allow investors to make money, employ Cubans they select and not move the goal posts when success seems to be too rewarding,” said Paul Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba who now teaches at Boston University.

    The new law ”would apply (to investors) … a tax of 15% on taxable net profits,“ after which all profit could be repatriated, Juventud Rebelde reported.

    Under the current foreign investment law, which went into effect in 1995, all tax breaks are negotiated and foreign firms pay a 30% profits tax and 20% labor tax. The labor tax was already being gradually reduced and now will be eliminated completely, according to a version of the draft law published by the Miami-based Web site Progreso Semanal.

    However, foreign ventures that mine natural resources, including oil, can be subject to a higher profits tax of up to 22.5%, depending on how those ventures are negotiated with the state, according to Juventud Rebelde.

    Investors will still have to hire labor through state-run companies, a major complaint, though the hiring halls will no longer operate for profit, Juventud Rebelde reported, indicating more money will flow back to workers and their wages may be easier to negotiate.

    ”The policy’s impact will be known once Cuba starts negotiating deals with potential partners, but the new law’s incentives and flexibility seem to be designed to bring in the capital needed to lift the economy and make the reforms succeed,“ said Phil Peters, who runs the Virginia-based Cuba Research Center. ”Agriculture, sugar, and renewable energy are key sectors to watch for signs of a new attitude toward foreign investment.”
    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://en.mercopress.com/2014/03/28/cuba-ready-to-implement-an-ambitious-foreign-investment-with-generous-tax-breaks

  8. INVESTMENT LAW IN CUBA

    Cuba is expected to approve a new law that in theory will draw more foreign investment to the socialist country. But in practice, critics argue, it will be insufficient to assuage investor concerns about their money.

    According to the proposed law, a copy of which has been seen by NBC News, fully foreign-owned firms will be permitted, and taxes will be either lowered or eliminated for some time. Additionally the taxes will be streamlined to cover net income rather than labor.

    Washington attorney Jason Poblete says Cuba still lacks two of the bedrocks of investing: rule of law, and protection of property rights.

    “You need a stable legal system that protects investor rights and has a path to resolve disputes,” said Poblete, who represents American clients with claims against Cuba stemming from the mass nationalization of private property in the early 1960s, after Fidel Castro took control of the island in a 1959 coup d’etat.

    Theoretically, fully foreign-owned businesses have been permitted, but were never actually approved. Until now, the government insisted on joint ventures, in which they were the controlling partner with a more than 50 percent stake. Inability to control an investment has been a large hurdle to foreign direct investment.

    In private conversations in recent years, government officials told CNBC this would change when the new law was implemented. It remains to be seen whether or not they will actually allow it to occur.

    The law also seeks to dramatically lower taxes. Currently, the few foreign firms doing business in joint ventures with the government must pay taxes of 30 percent on all profits and 20 percent on labor. Under the proposal, the mining profit tax will drop to 22.5 percent from 45 percent. The labor tax would be eliminated and the tax on profits will drop to 15 percent.

    The Cuban parliament will vote on the proposed new foreign investment law Saturday.

    Cuban exiles yes, Cubans no
    Inside Cuba: Market Economy Takes Hold in Socialist State
    One provision says Cuban exiles may invest, but Cubans living in Cuba cannot.

    It’s not atypical for the Cuban government to create regulations that treat Cubans differently than non-Cubans. For example, Cubans who live in Cuba are prohibited from entering certain hotels and restaurants where foreign tourists are permitted to stay. Poblete says the new law enshrines “investment apartheid like their tourism apartheid.”

    Ted Henken of Baruch College sees great irony in the clause: “It creates second-class economic citizenship compared to the ‘evil exiles.'”

    Henken believes the clause is designed to incentivize Cuban exiles to lobby the United States for an end to the embargo. Right now, even if Cuba allows exiles to invest, the United States prohibits its citizens from doing any business in Cuba. And while exiles are allowed to send money to their relatives on the island, the structure of the U.S. law means that money can’t be used to invest. The U.S. started its embargo against Cuba more than 50 years ago in protest of Castro’s communist polices.

    Outstanding claims a problem
    Tour pros hopeful U.S. may ease Cuba travel rules
    Another hurdle is the issue of outstanding claims against the island. There are still billions of dollars in outstanding claims from the early 1960s when Castro seized every business in the country, eliminated private property and decided that every citizen would work for the government. One of the clauses in the U.S. embargo is that outstanding claims held by American citizens must be resolved.

    Poblete says when his firm learns of a foreign company trafficking in or on a disputed property, he files a claim with the U.S. government. “What’s the European investor going to think? Do I want to fight off the U.S. State Department?”

    Why now?
    This country is Venezuela’s biggest loser
    Since 2010, the Cuban government has made incremental economic reforms. For example, in certain categories of employment, individuals are now allowed to work for themselves and not the government. The pace of reforms increased in the past year, when the government announced employees could take over failing government operations in certain categories such as transportation, and try to make a profit, which they then would split with the government 50-50.

    Henken believes it has to do with the unrest and instability in another socialist Latin American country. “They can’t rely on Venezuela for their ace in the hole,” he said. The oil-producing, OPEC nation provides more than 100,000 barrels of deeply discounted oil per day to Cuba. It’s a crucial subsidy that keeps the lights on and cars on the road. But recent unrest in Venezuela raises questions about its stability and the long-term viability of the oil handout.

  9. CUENTAPROPISTAS TEND TO SALE FOR HIGHER PRICES THAN THE STATE IN CUBA

    Cuentapropistas can earn considerably more than they would on a fixed wage in the public sector. There is plenty of demand, too, as they can offer products and services that the state sector cannot, and also offer an alternative source for those goods that are sold in state shops but often run out.

    As shoppers like María González find, the prices charged by private traders can be much higher than in the state shops.

    Half a kilogramme of black beans that would cost eight pesos in a state store would cost 12 pesos from a cuentapropista, a difference of about 20 US cents. Pork, a popular meat in Cuba, costs a third more from a private seller than from a state shop.

    González says prices are high because private traders ultimately source their goods from state suppliers, and then charge a mark-up.

    The lack of leeway to set competitive prices reflects the wider difficulties facing any setting up on their own in a state-run economy.

    Lawyer Laritza Diversent lists some of the obstacles facing cuentapropistas – they cannot join together to form partnerships, nor can they seek investment from outside Cuba. And their transactions and savings are complicated by the existence of two currencies, one the normal Cuban peso whose value is fixed by the state, and a second, convertible peso which is pegged to the US dollar.

    In addition, the private sector is tightly regulated, and the numerous bureaucratic regulations with which cuentapropistas must comply offer scope for officials to demand bribes.

    “Cuentapropistas complain mainly about the excessive powers of the bodies in charge of regulating their activities,” Diversent said.

    The self-employed have few rights and are always at risk of being accused of speculative dealing or accumulating capital. Both are crimes in Cuban law, and liable to lead to confiscation of property and earnings.

    According to independent economist Espinosa Chepe, Cuba’s leaders are still wary of the idea of their citizens building up capital, and hence they impose taxes “designed to curb economic growth”.

    Despite the obstacles facing them, at least some cuentapropistas are content with the deal they get.

    Street trader Luis Fernández earns around 130 pesos per day, which works out at over 40,000 a year.

    At around 2,000 dollars, that is far more than the average Cuban earns, around 5,400 pesos or 215 dollars a year.

    Fernández pays the state about 2,300 pesos a year, all in, for his trading license and social security contributions. He said the license to trade from a hand cart was “easy to get”, and costs him 40 or 50 pesos a year plus another 40 for other paperwork.

    Since wages are so low, Chepe points out that private shops and services are out of reach for large numbers of people.

  10. PRETTY POWERFUL PHOTOS ON THIS ARTICLE!

    FOX NEWS LATINO – VENEZUELA: Former Miss Universe Is ‘Gagged,’ Cries Bloody Tears To Protest Venezuelan Government. In her latest photo shoot, Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009 is bound, gagged, and bloodied for a campaign aimed at drawing the world’s attention to alleged human rights abuses taking place in her country, Venezuela, where anti-government protests have led to the deaths of at least 30 people. ‪#‎mordazasenvenezuela‬ Fernandez is the most high-profile Venezuelan to take part in the online campaign called “Your Voice Is Your Power” launched by Sin Mordaza, No Gag, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

    http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2014/03/28/miss-universe-gagged-in-venezuela-in-protest-against-violence-unrest/

  11. COP OUT MR. José Miguel Insulza !! WHAT AN INZULZA INSULTO TO THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE AND THOSE WHO LOVE DEMOCRACY!! PUN INTENDED! ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE!

    CNN VIDEO: Venezuela faces ‘rocky future’ without dialogue, warns OAS chief – by Christiane Amanpour & Mick Krever

    Venezuela faces a “rocky future” unless all parties can agree to dialogue, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

    “The only way in which the deep economic and political crisis that is happening can be solved is either they get along, and they try to settle things through a dialogue, or the possibility of having some foreign mediation,” Insulza said.

    The stand-off between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition is heading for a perfect storm, with worrying signs that the worst protests in a decade could eventually lead to total economic collapse.

    In an interview with Amanpour in Caracas earlier this month, President Maduro said that Venezuela did not need outside mediation.

    “I think what we need is cooperation,” Maduro said. “We are not in despair. Venezuelans have a long history, so we are able to listen to each other, to talk to each other.”

    But the two sides aren’t talking to each other, and now more than three dozen people are dead – most recently a 28-year-old woman shot in the head after her bus was stopped at an opposition barricade.

    The OAS itself has come under criticism for its inability to intercede in the crisis.

    http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/category/latest-episode/

  12. VENEZUELA VIDEO: STRONG VIDEO IMAGES! THE VIDEO OF BELINDA ALVARADO, THE GIRL WHO WAS KIDNAPPED IN TRINIDAD NEAR Palaima the strong attack that gave the paramilitaries bolimalandros of Maduro and Pancho Arias accompanied by GNB (police)! This is the short video of their release! one of the warriors from Palaima was confronting the Tupamaro who was scared and fearful like a rat! THE UNEDITED VIDEO ! this the government of Maduro will also deny! Bastards! HERE YOU CAN SEEN THAT THEY CAUSED THE MASS DESTRUCTION! a great conflagration IN ALL THIS SECTOR. ALL UNDER THE APPROVAL OF GNB! be sure to share! the world to see! SPREAD!

    VIDEO FUERTE! EL VIDEO DE BELINDA ALVARADO LA CHICA QUE FUE SECUESTRADA EN LA TRINIDAD CERCA DE PALAIMA en la fuerte arremetida que dieron los paramilitares bolimalandros de maduro y pancho arias acompañados por la GNB! Este es el corto video de su liberación! uno de los guerreros de palaima lo estaba enfrentando y el tupamaro estaba asustado como una rata miedosa! VIDEO EN PLENO DESARROLLO SIN EDICION! esto tambien lo negará el gobierno! DESGRACIADOS! ALLI SE VE LA DESTRUCCION MASIVA QUE CAUSARON! una gran conflagracion EN TODO ESE SECTOR BAJO LA APROBACION DE LA GNB!!! no dejes de compartir! que el mundo lo vea! DIFUNDE!

  13. THE WORLD COMMUNITY KNOWS THAT IN VENEZUELA THERE IS A MAFIA RUN DICTATORSHIP AND IT’S IN IS LAST LEG! EVEN FELLOW “SOCIALISTS” KNOW THEY HAVE TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THESE THUGS!

    REUTERS: Brazil grows wary of Venezuela under Maduro, reduces support – by Brian Winter
    Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.

    The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.

    Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.

    However, Rousseff has been increasingly disappointed by some of Maduro’s actions and has reined in the more enthusiastic support that characterized Brazil-Venezuela relations under his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, according to two officials close to Rousseff’s government.

  14. THE REAL HAVANA IN 20 MINUTES! NOT THE ONE FOR TOURISTS!
    YOUTUBE: La Habana en 20 minutos – La Habana fue una de las ciudades más hermosas de América. Hoy sólo bastan 20 minutos caminando sus calles para tener frente a nosotros una inmensa nube de destrucción. Dicen que una imagen vale más que mil palabras, yo soy de los que prefiere un video para sacar ventaja. No se necesitan grandes dotes artísticos ni cámaras de última tecnología para capturar imágenes como estas, sólo debes recorrer La Habana en 20 minutos.

  15. THE WORLD COMMUNITY KNOWS THAT IN VENEZUELA THERE IS A MAFIA RUN DICTATORSHIP AND IT’S IN IS LAST LEG! EVEN FELLOW “SOCIALISTS” KNOW THEY HAVE TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THESE MAFIOSOS!
    REUTERS: Brazil grows wary of Venezuela under Maduro, reduces support – by Brian Winter
    Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.

    The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.

    Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.

    However, Rousseff has been increasingly disappointed by some of Maduro’s actions and has reined in the more enthusiastic support that characterized Brazil-Venezuela relations under his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, according to two officials close to Rousseff’s government.

    Rousseff is worried the Venezuelan government’s repression of recent street protests, and Maduro’s refusal to hold genuine dialogue with opposition leaders, may make the political crisis worse over time, the officials said.

    Worsening turmoil could, in turn, endanger the sizeable interests of Brazilian companies in Venezuela. They include conglomerate Odebrecht SA.
    TO FIND FULL ARTICLE COPY AND PASTE TITLE TO BROWSER, HAVING TROUBLE POSTING LINK!

  16. ***
    The photos of Venezuelan people standing for hours in lines at food stores look like old photos from the USSR. Socialism–and communism–provide equal poverty for all. Except for the King and his friends. Lots of shortages of basic items in Cuba also.
    ***
    Los retratos de la Gente Venezuelana paradas por horas en lineas a las tiendas de comida parezcan como los photos viejos de la USSR. Socialismo–y communismo–dan pobresa igual a todos. Menos El Rey y sus amigos. Muchas faltas be cosas basicas en Cuba tambien.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  17. WELL IF YOU PROHIBIT THE SALE OF IMPORTED PRODUCTS…COCONUTS AND MANGOS FOR EVERYBODY!!….. :) :)

    A new decree announced by the Cuban government has caused great indignation among the self-employed in the Island.
    In addition to high tax rates, the prohibition of the sale of imported products, and harassment from police and inspectors has already forced a large number of small business owners to surrender their licenses.
    According to official figures, there are just under 450,000 “cuentapropistsa,” or self-employed/small business owners in Cuba right now. That is a very small fraction on an island of 11 million people.
    Now a large number of people will be forced to look for alternative means to make a living and sustain their income.

  18. 2011 REFORMS IN CUBA AN UPDATE

    Reformas estructurales. Estas son las más importan¬tes y generalmente posteriores a los dos tipos anterio¬res, casi todas son nuevas porque no tienen preceden¬te o han avanzado de manera considerable sobre cambios previos:
    Más adelante se describen las reformas estruc • Distribución en usufructo de tierra estatal ociosa (2008 y 2012) • Reducción de “gratuidades” y servicios sociales, fin del racionamiento (2008– ) • Despido de empleados estatales innecesarios y expansión de empleo no-estatal (2010– ) • Microcrédito y cuentas bancarias para el sector no estatal (2011) • “Actualización del modelo económico” (2011– ) • Compraventa de viviendas (2011) • Compraventa de automóviles (2011) • Cooperativas de producción no agrícola y de servicios (2011–2012) • Mayor autonomía a las cooperativas de producción agrícola (2012) • Flexibilización migratoria (2012) • Reforma tributaria (2012) • Mercados al por mayor (2013– )

    Reformas estructurales pendientes. Una serie de re¬formas estructurales claves aún no han sido imple¬mentadas. Marino Murillo (2013), a cargo de la co¬misión de implementación de las reformas, anunció en julio de 2013, una etapa más compleja y profunda que se incluirá en el plan de 2014:
    • La desregulación de las empresas estatales clave (níquel, petróleo, manufactura); según Murillo, las empresas podrán guardar 50% de sus ganancias para re-inversión y aumentos salariales, y las empresas que tengan pérdidas sostenidas serán cerradas o fusionadas. • La inversión extranjera será un “suplemento” a la inversión estatal y deberá contribuir con tecnología, financiamiento, mercados y empleo. • El fin de la dualidad monetaria, una de las reformas más difíciles. De acuerdo con Murillo una aplicación puramente técnica de la unificación de la doble moneda tendría efectos nocivos en los precios, el gobierno “no aplicará una terapia de choque debido a sus efectos sociales.”

    Otras reformas estructurales que no han sido anunciadas oficialmente son:

    • La unificación de la tasa de cambio y su fijación a una tasa realista. Varios economistas cubanos juzgan que el actual peso convertible (CUC) está muy sobrevaluado. • La reforma integral de precios; los Acuerdos del VI Congreso del PCC en 2011 brevemente mencionaron esta reforma pero no se ha dicho nada más. • La reforma bancaria que permitiría un rol mayor de bancos extranjeros.

    Cuentapropistas. Entre 2006 y 2013 las ocupaciones por cuenta propia autorizadas crecieron de 157 a 217, agregándose algunas actividades cualificadas importantes, como “gestor de compra y venta de vivienda,” pero sin autorizar a los profesionales. A mediados de 2013 había 436,342 trabajadores por cuenta propia registrados (posiblemente incluyendo sus em¬pleados asalariados), un neto de 283,742 al sustraer los 152,600 existentes en 2006 antes de la autoriza-ción de nuevas ocupaciones y las reformas del sector. La meta para fines de 2012 era 695,300 y a mediados de 2013 se había cumplido sólo 41%. La meta para 2015 es 1.8 millones (aparentemente sólo de cuenta¬propistas) por lo que en dos años y medio habría que expandir cuatro veces el número neto de 2013. Del total de cuentapropistas en 2012, sólo 18% habían sido despedidos de sus puestos públicos, y el resto eran informales que probablemente aprovecharon para legalizar su situación, así como pensionados.

  19. Venezuela’s opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) says it is ready to negotiate with President Nicolas Maduro following weeks of protests in the country.

    MUD leader Ramon Aveledo said on Wednesday, “We are ready for a transparent, balanced and fair dialogue, a public one with a national or international good-faith facilitator… that can mediate if needed.”

    Aveledo made the remarks after a meeting with foreign ministers from Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which was held to find a solution to the political instability of the past few weeks in Venezuela.

    The Democratic Unity Roundtable demands reforms in the administration of President Maduro.

    Venezuela has been the scene of violent demonstrations between supporters and opponents of the government since early February. The protests broke out over high rates of inflation and unemployment in the country.

    The opposition has criticized the government in Caracas for high crime rates and economic hardships, claiming that the policies of the Maduro administration have led to a shortage of essential goods.

    Inflation in Venezuela soared last year to 56.2 percent, which was almost three times higher than the 20.1 percent registered in 2012.

    The Venezuelan opposition coalition has also been accusing Caracas of carrying out a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

    However, the Venezuelan government says the opposition has been attempting to carry out a coup with the support of the United States.

    Several people have died over the past days of unrest. Hundreds have also been injured.

  20. Nick,

    I’m glad you are laughing out loud at the truth. Keep those shades tinted red.

    The Cocaine drops into Cuba have been filmed by the DEA. You are confusing the CIA with the DEA.

    The cocaine smuggling has been admitted by Fidel Castro, at least tacitly.

    Which is why he and the US government entered into negotiations to get him to stop making Cuba the major transit point for Cocaine into the USA.

    The Castros and Cuban military are still involved in the cocaine trade, they are just not using Cuba so flagrantly as a transit point. They still support FARC and Maduro’s narco-gangs.

    Remember that North Korean ship that got stopped in Panama? Guess what they were searching for, Nick?

    It wasn’t sugar.

  21. Hank,
    You so frequently surpass yourself in absurd comments.
    Your latest genuinely had me laughing out loud.
    Anybody who’s opinion regarding Cuba differs from your own is put down by yourself.
    You are absolutely closed off to anyone with a different version than the one you have apparently inherited.
    For people such as yourself (who thankfully only make up a small minority), the only option for the sovereign country of Cuba going forward is some kind of foreign (U.S.) instigated sudden change.

    This would be the worst possible scenario.
    This would be by far the scenario most likely to result in bloodshed on the streets of an otherwise fairly peaceful country.
    It is by far the least likely scenario, given the historical evidence.
    And it is the least favourable scenario in the opinion of the majority of the region’s political leadership.

    Once again Hank you come across as being proud to be part of the problem and seem to have no intention whatsoever of ever being part of any realistic solution.

    Then, to finish off with, you spout out these absurd CIA conspiracy theories regarding Raul Castro’s days as some kind of cocaine smuggling linchpin.

    Have a great weekend Hank.
    And I repeat my thank you to you for having made me laugh out loud once again.

  22. Hi, I’m writing a report about civil disobedience and how its still used today. Although many of my classmates are doing leaders such as Mendela, MLK, and Gandhi, I chose to do it on the Cuban dissidents. I would love to be able to interview you or other dissidents. If possible can you please reach me at penagosjulissa@yahoo.com

  23. Outstanding analysis by Mauricio Claver-Carone.

    I agree with his argument in support of a hard collapse.

    Data Trumps (Theoretical) Danger of a Cuban Collapse

    at 9:40 PM Thursday, March 27, 2014

    Anticipating an end to Venezuela’s $9 billion yearly subsidy to the Castro regime, Johns Hopkins Professor Daniel Serwer, argued yesterday in Politico that the U.S. has more to fear from a collapse of Cuba’s dictatorship than from its survival.

    He theorizes:

    “A cut-off of money from Venezuela, the demise of the Castros or an international recession could precipitate collapse and set off a chaotic transition that spews people, drugs and arms throughout the Caribbean… preventing a Cuban collapse, not causing one, should be our goal.”

    This page is straight out of the Assad-Gaddafi “public relations” handbook. It reads: They are evil, anti-American dictators, but portray them as being better than the supposed alternative.

    In the case of Assad-Gaddafi, the scapegoat is terrorism, which is ironic for there are few worse terrorists than Assad-Gaddafi.

    In the case of Castro, Serwer’s scapegoats are Cuban migrants, drugs and arms, which is equally ironic for there are few worse smugglers and criminals than the Castro brothers.

    One would think Professor Serwer, as an academic, would offer some data — any data — to support his thesis.

    But he doesn’t.

    Evidently, Serwer is unaware of the open U.S. indictments against senior Castro regime officials for drug trafficking. He must also be unaware of the indictment that was prepared against Cuban dictator Raul Castro himself in the 1990’s (and politically scrapped by President Clinton), as head of a major cocaine trafficking conspiracy toward the United States.

    Moreover, it’s mind-boggling how Serwer can express concern for arms trafficking stemming from the Cuban regime’s collapse, when the Castro brothers themselves have just gotten caught red-handed smuggling weapons to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions. And it wasn’t just any ordinary weapons cache — it was the largest ever intercepted to or from North Korea since U.N. sanctions took effect.

    Then, of course, Serwer pursues the all-too-familiar “migrant scare.”

    The fact remains that prior to the Castro regime, Cuba was a country of immigrants, not emigrants. The only Cuban migration crises faced by the U.S. (in 1980 and 1994) were the result of coercive acts by Castro.

    If migration from Cuba has been the result of Castro’s regime and the only migration crises the U.S. has faced have stemmed from Castro’s coercion — then clearly the most full-proof way to neutralize this threat would be through an end to Castro’s regime.

    Instead, Serwer believes the best approach is to continue being coerced by the very regime that has been using Cuban migrants to threaten the United States.

    As for future Mafias and criminal organizations in Cuba, evidence suggests that a hard collapse of the Castro regime is precisely the best prevention.

    The most successful transitions in Eastern Europe have taken place in the countries where the current dictators and Communist Party elites took no role in the political and economic transition process, namely Estonia and the Czech Republic.

    Meanwhile, the worst Mafias were created in the countries were the apparatchiks were incorporated throughout the political and economic transition process, namely Russia and Romania. It was precisely the “soft-landing” that allowed them to use their privileged positions and connections to create their criminal enterprises. As Russian intelligence expert Michael Waller has long-observed, the KGB is the heart of the Russian Mafia.

    Yet, Serwer would have the U.S. embrace and pour billions into Castro’s KGB-trained military and intelligence services, which currently control over 80% of the island’s economy.

    The fact remains that Cuba is being currently run by a Mafia — the collapse of which should be encouraged.

    Finally, a timely article this week by MIT Professor Daren Acemoglu and Harvard Professor James Robinson, authors of the book, “Why Nations Fail,” shows the evolution of GDP per capita following a democratization event compared to non-democracies.

    (In their graph below, all democratizations are lined up to date 0 so as to visually trace out average growth following democratization relative to the control countries in which there is no democratization.)

    They conclude: “the first thing that jumps out from the figure is that a typical democratization takes place when a country is undergoing an economic crisis.”

    Thus, economic crisis has a strong democratizing effect on non-democracies.

    Note to Serwer: Data trumps theory.

    http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/

  24. PHOTO LINK: WOW! THOSE CRAZY VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE NOT RETURNED THOSE POLICE COSTUMES! YOU CAN SEE THEM HERE SETTING FIRE TO AUTOMOBILES! I BET THEY WILL HAVE TO PAY LOTS OF BOLIVARS FOR THAT LATE FEE, SINCE THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS HAVE DEVALUATED THE BOLIVAR EVEN MORE THIS WEEK! DONT YOU THINK SO Omar Fondura AND GOOD OLD Nick??

  25. YOU CANNOT TRUST THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS! IF THEY ARE PLAYING ONE OF THEIR GAMES, THE VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION WILL GO BACK TO THE STREETS IN PROTEST! THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA WHO IS GIVING THE ORDERS UP TO THIS POINT DONT UNDERSTAND THE 21st CENTURY AND ITS INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER TECHNOLOGIES! THAT IS GOOD FOR THOSE TRYING TO GET THE CASTROFASCIST IMPERIALISM OUT OF LATIN AMERICA! THIS WILL BE OUT TOMORROW ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWS BUT YOU HAVE ME TO THANK TO GIVE YOU THE SCOOP!

    LA PATILLA NEWS : Juan Manuel Santos : Venezuelan Government accepted conditions by opposition for “dialogue”!!

    The Venezuelan government ” accepted last night,” the “conditions to initiate dialogue ” called for by the opposition , said Thursday Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, installed two days after the special mission of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur ) in Caracas to address the issue.

    “A group of three countries created three foreign ministers , who will give the finishing touches for that dialogue to take place ,” Santos said at the launch of the American Institute of Human Rights Education in Bogota.

    The meeting of foreign ministers of UNASUR occurred in Caracas after President Nicolas Maduro me asking the agency , a request that was approved on 12 March in a special meeting in Santiago.

    According to Santos, the acceptance of the conditions for dialogue by the Venezuelan government came after the foreign ministers meet with opposition , various NGOs and the same Maduro.

    “I hope that through this dialogue can ease tensions that situation in Venezuela , which should have a positive impact on human rights ,” said the Colombian president .

    Venezuela live from February 4 past a wave of protests leaving a balance of 34 dead , nearly 400 injured and 60 allegations of violations of human rights.

    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2014/03/27/juan-manuel-santos-gobierno-venezolano-acepto-condiciones-de-dialogo-de-la-oposicion/

  26. HMMM! THE POLICE, I MEAN THE PROTESTERS BREAKING GLASS ON PARKED CARS IN VENEZUELA! WHERE DO THEY GET THOSE COSTUMES Omar Fundora?? Nick?? AND YES Nick! THE TRUTH COMES OUT SOONER OR LATER AND SOME PEOPLE WILL LOOK VERY FOOLISH DEAR! GUESS WHO DEAR??

    Noticiero Telemundo VIDEO: Caos absoluto en las calles del país. Las redes sociales están inundadas de denuncias que acusan al gobierno de una represión total

  27. WATCH OUT CHAVISTASFASCISTAS & YOUR LORDS THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA!
    TVNZ NEWS: Venezuela sanctions may be “important tool”- US – Friday March 28, 2014 Source: AP

    Venezuela had the full attention of North and South American diplomats today.

    The US State Department issued its strongest response yet to the ongoing crisis in the socialist country, saying it would consider imposing sanctions if the administration of President Nicolas Maduro doesn’t reconcile with opponents who have been protesting for nearly three months.

    Meanwhile, a delegation of foreign ministers from South America was expected to issue recommendations aimed at easing the unrest.

    Maduro’s administration announced that it had already accepted at least one of the suggestions: the formation of an official human rights commission that will report directly to the president and look into allegations of overreach.

    The oil-rich nation has been widely criticized for its harsh crackdown on opponents protesting inflation, crime and shortages. Clashes between protesters and loyalists have left at least 32 people dead.

    The State Department’s top official for Latin America said sanctions could become an “important tool” to pressure Maduro if he fails to engage critics.

    “If there is no movement, no possibility of dialogue, if there’s no democratic space for the opposition, obviously we have to think about this, and we are thinking about this,” Assistant Secretary of State Roberta S. Jacobson told reporters in Washington. She added that the US would work with its partners in the region to impose any such measures as efficiently as possible.

    It was unlikely that the delegation of South American diplomats, who have been at odds with the US over how to handle the country’s volatility, would issue its own threat of sanctions. The group has been in Caracas since Wednesday’s meeting with the government, student protesters and human rights defenders.

    Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was considering all options to address human rights concerns in Venezuela, including sanctions being pushed by US lawmakers for weeks.

    He didn’t provide details about what would trigger such a response, and said he was reluctant to damage an already weak economy.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/venezuela-sanctions-may-important-tool-us-5878173

  28. Nick said: “But the truth came out in the end.
    The truth always comes out.
    There is always someone who lets the truth out.”

    YOURE RIGHT Nick! THAT IS WHY THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS HAVE KICKED OUT MOST OF THE NON-STATE CONTROLLED PRESS IN VENEZUELA AND THE CASTROFASCISTS ARE STILL KEEPING THE INTERNET OUT OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE’S HANDS DEAR! COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE ON THAT STATEMENT!

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CUBA- Amnesty International Publications 2010
    STATE MONOPOLY OF THE MEDIA: The media is a key arena in which the right to freedom of expression is exercised. It plays a critical role in any society, for example raising awareness of human rights and exposing human rights violations. The media has the potential to help shape public opinion and to monitor and assess the performance of those holding public office at all levels; it is an important tool for scrutinizing government practices in all societies no matter their political ideology. The absence of an independent media is a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of freedom of expression and the adequate review of corrupt and abusive official practices. Restrictions on the Cuban media are stringent and pervasive and clearly stop those in the country from enjoying their right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.8 The state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, the press, internet service providers, and other electronic means of communication.9 According to official figures, there are currently 723 publications (406 print and 317 digital), 88 radio stations, four national TV channels (two devoted to educational programming), 16 regional TV stations and an international TV channel. All are financed and controlled by the government.10 Three newspapers provide national coverage: Granma, which is the organ of the Cuban Communist Party, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores.

    CONTROL OF INTERNET ACCESS
    In Cuba, access to the internet remains under state control. It is regulated by the Law of Security of Information, which prohibits access to internet services from private homes. Therefore, the internet in Cuba has a social vocation and remains accessible at education centres, work-places and other public institutions. Internet can also be accessed in hotels but at a high cost. In October 2009, the government adopted a new law allowing the Cuban Postal Services to establish cyber-cafés in its premises and offer internet access to the public. However, home connections are not yet allowed for the vast majority of Cubans and only those favoured by the government are able to access the internet from their own homes.
    However, many blogs are not accessible from within Cuba because the Cuban authorities have put in place filters restricting access. The blogs affected are mainly those that openly criticize the Cuban government and its restrictions on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement. For example, Generation Y is one of the dozens of blogs that are filtered or intermittently blocked by the government and are not accessible inside Cuba.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/005/2010/en/62b9caf8-8407-4a08-90bb-b5e8339634fe/amr250052010en.pdf

  29. Hank, Mr Observer and dear old warrior Humby!!!
    You are all so easily fooled.
    In fact you all seem so happy to be fooled.
    There are so many aspects of US foreign policy towards it’s ‘backyard’ that were denied for years.
    But the truth came out in the end.
    The truth always comes out.
    There is always someone who lets the truth out.
    And then those that were so easily fooled look even more foolish than they did during the denial period.
    It’s the same old story going round and round.
    And the same old fools looking more and more foolish by the day.

  30. Law 315 in Cuba—restrictions and licenses to control the self employed. A necessity or a burden. Contractors in the U.S. also have to have license to practice as well as training which can be obtained through Unions or Junior Colleges. They all must possess insurance for health and workers compensation. Contractors are heavily regulated. The State has codes that must be complied with. Electrician contractors must have a crew with specified ratio of journeyman to apprentices for example. There are government contracts that unless tradesman are part of a Union, they will not be employed. Electricians that are not in a union normally get paid less. They tend to work as handymen…jack of all trade. They find work repairing buildings for private owners, apartment complexes, business high rises, etc…trades people provide an indispensable service to the community. I can’t imagine how Cuba manage for so long with such a small self-employed industry prior to the Special Period. The self-employed fill the cracks that large institutions and organizations can’t do very well…..

  31. Remember Pánfilo’s video, the poor Cuban who became an Internet celebrity when he interrupted an interview with a musician about reggaeton in Cuba yelling “Jama, jama” (Food, food), link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLLAh2yTqu0

    This is the type of case study that future teachers will be using to illustrate to their students the fallacy and cruelty of a regime that starves, mistreats and lies to its people. And they’ll have Pamfilo’s video and sound to prove their point in a most visceral and detailed way.

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