The Good USAID and the Bad USAID

Cuban medics in a USAID hospital in Monrovia, Liberia

Cuban medics in a USAID hospital in Monrovia, Liberia

YOANI SÁNCHEZ, 3 November 2014 — Just a few months ago we experienced an avalanche of official propaganda targeted to attacks on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Those initials came to represent the enemy with whom they frighten us from our television screens, platforms, and even classrooms. However, to our surprise, this week we’ve learned that some Cuban doctors arriving in Liberia will work in a field hospital financed by this “terrible agency.”

Although the official press has avoided publishing pictures showing our compatriots next to the logo of USAID, the odd photo has escaped censorship. So suddenly, there is a crack in the story of confrontation, the rhetoric of the adversary does not hold water, and clearly evident is all the moral relativism of those who fabricate the ideological crusades with which they bombard us from the mass media.

Could someone ask the Associated Press (AP) to investigate as soon as possible this “secret” conspiracy between the Plaza of the Revolution and an agency that receives guidance from the U.S. State Department? We are eager to see the rivers of ink that this strange collaboration provokes, the “revelations,” the secret memorandums and the veiled-face confessions that explain such a collaboration.

However, the answer that will be given by those who reject USAID support for Cuban Civil Society but seem fine working shoulder to shoulder with the island’s authorities, will be that in humanitarian issues have no political colors. As if to inform and technologically empower oneself weren’t a question of survival in the twenty-first century. The official press, for its part, will rush to explain that, when it’s about saving lives, Cuban doctors are willing to put aside their differences. But none of these is the real explanation.

The bottom line is that Raul Castro’s government is eager to express and receive belligerence from its great northern neighbor. What it will not tolerate and will never accept is grants to or recognition of the belligerence of its own civil society. It is anxious to take a family photo with Uncle Sam, as long as no one invites the bastard nephew that is the Cuban population.

Power is attracted to itself, these images of the last few days want to tell us. If a young Cuban receives a text message summoning him to an alternative concert, he should be careful – according to what the official commentators warn us on our little screens – because the imperialist could be behind each character. They don’t use the same ethical yardstick, however, to evaluate a health care professional who works under the tent, over the stretchers, and with the syringes funded by USAID.

How are they going to explain to the children, who have spent months being frightened by the United States Agency for International Development, that now their fathers or uncles who went to Liberia are working in a hospital built with funds from that agency?

When Ronald Hernandez Torres, one of the Cuban doctors who traveled to Liberia, wrote on his Facebook page that “this unit has the best conditions for patient care, and the best professionals from different countries working side by side,” did he, perhaps, know that all this is being funded by the same agency that is latest nemesis that the Castro regime has found to frighten us with?

As always happens, the cries of political hysteria end up drowning out the voices that raise arguments. Although, as a general rule, the official version is usually imposed because it is the highest insult, this should not discourage us to look for the reasons and to reveal the contradictions of their discourse.

I now know, that at the end of the year, when we look at the balance of reporting in the headlines of our national newspapers, the impression will be that the Havana government and USAID are irreconcilable enemies. But it is a lie. The principal confrontation that continues to be set in stone and without ceding an inch, is what emerges from the powers-that-be in Cuba toward their own people.


86 thoughts on “The Good USAID and the Bad USAID

  1. Neutral Observer … it could be a sad day for you when what you could have dismissed as propaganda years back you cannot do anymore and you have to struggle with an amplifier to hear your voice still on top of the others after being relegated to third violin by MsY… US readears have to contend on a wordpress blog not even a proper domain nor template.

    Coming back to your pretences – just like the Jewish state you are not a terrorist state when it comes to Cuba… the terrorists are the people under your occupation of course… in this case blockade…. soon you would need even an amplifier even inside your own circle I think.

    The Cubans have a narrow chance to make something of themselves without your bs if they heed the lessons of dictatorship and US terrorism… If they miss one in favour of the other they would fall prey to your capitalism ubber alles idiocy that left the word the very sad place that is today!

    Just out of fun.. what qualifies you as Neutral!?? ah yes probably your McD PH (as in chemistry)…

  2. It shouldn’t be a huge problem for Brazil to get help to educate all the doctors it needs from the IMF, development banks, NGOs etc. Corruption and an inefficient govt apparatus are big hindrances in that country, but that can be dealt with.
    In the meantime – it takes a few years to educate a doc – doctors can be hired from other countries at a much lower price than what the Cubans charge, or no?
    Brazil could also invite Cuban docs to come and live there, but that would mean cutting the apron strings…

  3. So someone is standing up to – Socialist – Dilma! Brazil is the most important country in Latin America, and Socialism is already hindering it from developing its full potential….

  4. Could somebody please do the math on how the income Cuba gets is distributed between foreign bank accounts and the pitiful amount that gets spent on the Cuban people? The difference is what gets spent on influence peddling. I bet that it’s not a small amount…

  5. Yes, Hank and Omar and everyone, what do you think? I think we should take everything we can away from the Castros that they can sell in order to finance their power peddling projects…

  6. Oh yes, N.O., the drug angle is a huge factor here. The enormous demand from the USA is another decisive element. I’m not trying to shift the blame, but that fact just makes this mess even more complicated. The war on drugs – and solving immigration issues – needs to be fought in a much more intelligent way, working very closely and eficciently with the relevant Latin American countries. The DoS must be, I really hope they are, really alert now about the Mexico situation. A “failing” or Socialist Mexico is something that nobody needs…

  7. So not even the Chinese are getting any respect in Cuba now? Is it just that the Castristas are living in Lalaland nowhwere near reality – which we knew- or is it another step in systematically destroying their own country?

  8. Here’s part of a list of what the UN can’t get right, Rwanda in 1994, Ebola 20 years later. and then they invite Vzla into the Security council. No wonder the Chavistas have no respect for the UN…

  9. Also Hank, the suffering of the Cuban people is so unnecessary because of its proximity to the USA and many other factors. Cuba isn’t a huge country, so it should be able to pick itself up quite quickly with intl help if the Castristas fall…


    DIARIO DE CUBA: Brasilia desmiente a su embajador: No hay negociaciones para contratar médicos especialistas cubanos

    Brasil negó este viernes la información dada en Cuba por su propio embajador de que el país suramericano esté negociando la contratación de profesionales de la Isla para integrar el programa Más Especialidades, un complemento de Más Médicos, implementado en 2013, reporta EFE.A través de una nota, el Ministerio de Salud dijo que “están equivocadas las informaciones” ofrecidas en La Habana por el embajador brasileño, Cesario Melantonio Neto, quien afirmó que su país, que ya cuenta con galenos generalistas cubanos, desea recibir más doctores de la Isla, particularmente “especialistas”.”N hay una negociación en curso para la utilización de médicos especialistas cubanos en los programas del Gobierno federal”, aclaró el Ministerio de Salud.El programa “Más Especialidades”, está “en fase de planificación” y su puesta en marcha “debe contar con servicios públicos, privados y filantrópicos para la realización de consultas, exámenes y procedimientos especializados”, indicó el ministerioPara eso, según la fuente oficial, “serán utilizados médicos especialistas brasileños”.”En este momento no se contempla la utilización de profesionales extranjeros”, aseguró.La forma en que han sido contratados los médicos de la Isla ha recibido fuertes críticas de opositores brasileños y profesionales de la salud.Esta semana, fiscales del país sudamericano fustigaron al Gobierno de Dilma Rousseffy le exigieron pagar directamente a los médicos y no a La Habana como sucede ahora.A través de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud, Brasilia paga al Gobierno cubano más de 4.100 dólares por cada médico. Pero los profesionales solo reciben la cuarta parte; el régimen se embolsa el resto.Los fiscales consideraron que la situación es “francamente ilegal” y viola el código de la Organización Mundial de la Salud que rige el reclutamiento internacional de profesionales.

  11. BUENOS AIRES HERALD :Prosecutor orders Brazil to pay Cuban doctors directly – Nov. 5, 2014

    SAO PAULO — Brazilian prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira yesterday slammed President Dilma Rousseff’s “More Doctors” programme for its “lack of transparency” and ordered the government pay Cuban doctors directly.Around 11,000 Cuban doctors have been working in Brazil as part of the “More Doctors” programme through which the government sent health professionals to areas that registered significant shortages.The Brazilian government, through its Health Ministry, defended the programme yesterday and said “it follows all the rules” and that there are no irregularities in the agreements signed between Brazil, Cuba and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).Loureiro Oliveira said the programme’s payment system lacks transparency after it was unveiled that doctors receive just a fourth (US$1,000) of what the Brazilian government pays for each participant.The Federal Prosecutor’s Office, with headquarters in Brasilia, presented two separate claims in October that were only revealed on Monday.“We believe that the arrival of these Cuban professionals, to which the PAHO agreed, is frankly illegal,” she said.The prosecutor also said that the agreement between the two countries violates a World Health Organization (WHO) code that governs the international recruitment of health professionals, which establishes that the process must be transparent and fair.The office is demanding, as a precautionary measure, that the government declare the agreement with Cuba null and pay Cuban doctors directly. In 2013, the Brazilian government spent around US$200 million in salaries on Cuban doctors.But the Health Ministry highlighted yesterday that Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot has issued a document that backs the legality and viability of the programme.“The Health Ministry underlines the importance of this programme, which has guaranteed medical attention to close to 50 million Brazilians,” the government said in a statement.The “More Doctors” programme was created in July, 2013 in response to street protests that demanded improvements to health care. Under the scheme, the Brazilian government has hired thousands of doctors to tend to remote or poor communities that registered shortages.

  12. Slanders written by the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine have little credibility outside of Imperialist flunkies. Accusing a UN agency (World Health Organizations) as a conspirator in Human Trafficking is just more BS. The Doctors who go abroad are all volunteers. Once outside of Cuba nothing prevents them from deserting their posts except their loyalty to the Cuban Revolution. This of course the Free Press writers at the WSJ and FM can not understand because they been chasing dollars for their whole lives. Nor will I pay to read online what the organs of US Imperialism’s free press have to say. DW is the official German State Broadcaster. One might also note that this WSJ article is just an opinion in case they need to back off from this position later on.

  13. IN TYPICAL CASTRO MAFIA STYLE!WALL STREET JOURNAL : Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors – Mary Anastasia O’GradyBut the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health Organization. The money is supposed to go to Cuban workers’ salaries. But neither the WHO nor any host country pays Cuban workers directly. Instead the funds are credited to the account of the dictatorship, which by all accounts keeps the lion’s share of the payment and gives the worker a stipend to live on with a promise of a bit more upon return to Cuba.It’s the perfect crime: By shipping its subjects abroad to help poor people, the regime earns the image of a selfless contributor to the global community even while it exploits workers and gets rich off their backs. According to DW, Germany’s international broadcaster, Havanaearns some $7.6 billion annually from its export of health-care workers.CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

    In The Wall Street Journal, Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes that Havana earns almost $8 billion a year off the backs of the health workers it sends to poor countries.


  14. Omar,

    What’s the going rate for hiring a Cuban slave doctor these days? You didn’t post a link to the “32nd International Trade Fair, currently underway in Havana.”

    If I buy more than one Cuban slave doctor, do I get a discount?

    What happens if the Cuban slave doctor I buy gets sick or has an accident and requires medical attention? Who pays for that? It better not be me. Is there a Cuban slave doctor medical insurance plan?

    What happens if my Cuban slave doctor escapes? Will Cuba provide a replacement slave? After all, I’m paying good money for this slave. What guarantees do you offer?

    What if my Cuban slave doctor asks for his or her freedom. What should I do?

    I have a lot of questions.

  15. Useful tool Omar shamelessly posts the following about a Cuban marketing agency.

    Unsurprisingly, the Cuban dictatorship has an office dedicated to selling its slaves to willing buyers. The slaves are euphemistically referred to as a “portfolio of products.”


    “HAVANA, Cuba — The marketing agency of Cuban Medical Services launched its portfolio of products at the 32nd International Trade Fair, currently underway in Havana…”

  16. Notice how far the topic has shifted away from the picture.

    What does the picture show?

    It shows Cuban medical work is funded by USAID.

    No explanations forthcoming from Castro’s SS propaganda corps.

  17. yskjs:

    I doubt Castro is behind the killings, but he does support Mexican drug gangs and death squads.

    And they all support Castro.

    They all hide their criminal activities behind left-wing anti-American slogans.

    Just like FARC.

    They all find refuge in Cuba when they are on the run from justice.

  18. HAVANA, Cuba — The marketing agency of Cuban Medical Services launched its portfolio of products at the 32nd International Trade Fair, currently underway in Havana.

    The portfolio aligns with clients’ demands and mirrors the strengths and specialties of the Cuban health system, with competitive programs in comparison to other services being offered in other markets, said Dr Yilian Jimenez, who heads the Cuban Medical Services marketing agency.

    The entity, which was set up to foster cooperation relations between Cuba and the rest of the world, counts on a 54-hospital network where professionals implement modern and early diagnostic techniques, as well as 150 therapeutic procedures with a 95 percent effectiveness, said the doctor.

    According to Jimenez, over 35 agencies from 101 countries, including Canada, Russia, China, Colombia, Japan, Angola and Costa Rica, are currently requesting services to solve local health problems.

    Cuban Medical Services offers treatment in 16 specialties or medical programs of high demand, including hemodialysis, stem-cell therapy, comprehensive attention of diabetic patients, cardiovascular disease treatment, and other programs on different health conditions.

    The portfolio offers alliances with the tourist sector and its companies, including medical services and health services at airports and other terminals, as well as optical, pharmaceutical and natural medicine products.

    Also on the portfolio is the hiring of personnel, advice, human capital training, and other programs such as services for scientific forums.

    The Cuban agency has operations in over 40 countries, while over 50,700 health professionals from the island are working in 66 nations.

  19. As of 06 November at least 36 countries have expressed interest. Cuban administrators are narrowing down the candidates to the top offers, including offers from Spain, Italy, Vietnam, China, Russia, France, Brazil, Netherlands and Canada. Acceptance of the top offers will be made sometime between now and the end of 2015.

    On 07 November, a representative of the European Union told a crowd at Havana’s International Trade Fair that the EU is ready to pour money into Cuba (supposedly while the EU is struggling economically itself). The massive investment will be through the Cuban Portfolio of Projects for Foreign Investment.

    After decades of nationalized sugar production (part of the reason for the Revolution), Cuba is now opening its sugar industries to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This means sugar producers in the United States could be faced with a new competitor, and perhaps sugar prices will go down.

    Cuban administrators are asking for a minimum $40-million USD investment for each of its sugar producing projects.

    The British empire’s United Kingdom (the true mortal enemy of the United States) has signed a memo of “Understanding” with Cuba. The United Kingdom has already been busy investing in the Caribbean country.

    Cuba and Mexico have agreed to expand economic cooperation. 31 Mexican economic projects are being considered by Cuba. Despite protests by the United States, Mexico resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba.
    – See more at:

  20. The United States is to blame for the state of affairs in Mexico. We denied the Mexican People of their elected government a few years ago and help prop up a government that used American CIA assassins to kill the supporters of the deposed government. This illegal government is weak and unable to deal with corruption and the expansion of the drug trafficking that followed their rise to power. Mexico is a typical so called Free Market Democratic Republic in Latin America. The government stays in control with Death Squads and authorities that operate outside the law like the ones responsible for these 43 college students death. The corruption, oppression, incompetency in governance is the typical outcome every time the United States interfere in the governance of Third World countries….Cubans learn from Mexico and do not become proxies for the United States you place your sovereignty and unity in danger when you do so….

  21. “… In China, he said, “this would take 24 hours.” …” That’s because in China official approval is obtainable for an official price. Also its hard to understand how a million dollars will pay to construct a building big enough to house one hundred people let alone buy the tools and machinery needed to assemble LED light bulbs. Also note that article said assemble not manufacture LED light bulbs. Obviously there is more to this than what USA Today printed.

    USA TODAY: Cuba pins economic hopes on foreign investment
    HAVANA — Cuba is asking international firms to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.
    Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz has announced a list of 246 projects Cuba wants that would require $8.7 billion in investment, ranging from farms to a light auto plant.
    Cuba says foreign investment must reach $2 billion annually to increase an economic growth rate not expected to exceed 1% this year.
    Chinese executive George Yan said he asked in May for permission to build a $1 million plant at Mariel that would employ 100 Cubans to assemble energy-saving LED lights. Despite receiving initial approval three months later, he has not been shown potential sites for the factory or received other indications the project can proceed.
    In China, he said, “this would take 24 hours.”


  23. It’s impossible to not hear about the students in Guerrero, Mexico. What was the motive for killing them? It’s well known that there’s collusion between parts of the Mexican govt, police and organized crime. This creates discontent, and that’s the kind of waters that Socialism fishes in. The danger is that the govt can’t turn itself around, and a slide to the left starts in the next elections.
    This is where the Cuba connection comes in: The CastroChavistas destroy their own countries in order to peddle Socialist influence. I’m NOT saying that Raoul Castro ordered the killing of the students, but that the influence from Cuba and Vzla enables leftist movements in other countries…

  24. From the Path of the Unknown to a Vision of the Country: What Does Prosperity Mean in Cuba?
    What are the Challenges to Sustainability?

    If development is always a process with a high level of uncertainty, in the particular case of Cuba this process fits within another process, also highly complex, which consists of maintaining/consolidating

    Cuban socialism, a goal which the political leadership described from the outset, in one way or
    another, as a “road to the unknown.”

    Moving towards development generally involves an ex ante understanding of the country one wishes to have. In this respect, the political leadership itself has formed a skeletal understanding of the desired paradigm which constructs a vision of the country as “a prosperous and sustainable socialist society” that is “less egalitarian but more just”.22 This is the most recent conceptualization of that desired future, which lays out the contours but does not define
    the details. Hence de-codifying the details of the components of that vision is an essential exercise
    in the country’s future planning.

  25. What specifically will define Cuban socialism in terms of the economy?
    An interpretation of recent events suggests that state ownership and management of key sectors and leading enterprises, along with the expansion of the private, cooperative, and foreign capital sectors, have resulted in mixed management of the economy (a type of planning different
    from the current one, with the addition of the active incorporation of the market) with direct
    and decisive state support for health and education. These elements appear to constitute the central core of that future socialism, an inalienable element of which is preserving independence.

  26. the case of Cuba:
    1. Development is a necessary condition for the sustainability of “Cuban socialism.”
    2. Growth is essential for achieving development in Cuba.
    3. Achieving high rates of fixed investment is essential for growth.
    4. Foreign direct investment is necessary and plays a central role in efforts to achieve future growth.
    5. Production structure policies should supplement the growth effort. In particular, changing
    the energy and import matrices, export orientation and the production of goods with
    a higher value-added should be an explicit goal of those policies.
    6. Modernization of the infrastructure, with special emphasis on information and communication
    technology (ICT), should accompany growth.
    7. Research, development, and innovation systems should be modernized and adapted to
    the growth effort.

  27. Cuba and Development 50 Years Later: Lessons Learned?

    A set of lessons can be derived from the 30 years of development experience from 1959 to 1989:8

    i. Development has its own agenda. In the first 30 years after 1959, the development agenda
    and the agenda of building socialism became mixed together, yielding, on more than a few
    occasions, contradictory results.

    ii. Enjoying advantageous external conditions does not appear to guarantee development
    results. Accordingly, a large part of the advantages received due to the special conditions
    of insertion did not translate into improved productive capacities or radical changes to the
    characteristics of Cuba’s productive sector.

    iii. Social betterment should be an explicit goal of the development strategy, but its sustainability
    depends on social gains translating into enhanced productive capacity.

    iv. The market plays an active role in that process; ignoring it generates inefficiencies that tend to
    thwart the very purpose of development.

    v. The “local level” has its own characteristics; it cannot be understood as merely a subcomponent
    of the “national level.”

    vi. The export sector and the domestic market should not be considered polar opposites, but
    as complementary phenomena that are part of a single process. Efforts are needed to ensure
    that the “dynamic sectors” generate “spillover effects” to the rest of the national economy.

    vii. Isolation from the international trends in the world economy may generate costs in the long
    run that offset the benefits obtained in the short term.

    viii. The concentration of external dependency becomes a strategic weakness harmful to the purposes of development.

    “We don’t want to improvise, we want to invest in what we truly need,” said Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, during the presentation of the Portfolio of Foreign Investment Opportunities, held Monday at the Havana International Trade Fair.

    The estimated amount is of 8.7 billion dollars for 246 projects, which are divided among the Special Development Zone Mariel and the agricultural, forestry and food, sugar, energy, trade, tourism, health, industry, transportation, construction , mining sectors, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. In these numbers are not included business are already in the process of handling.

    Each project has a page with the description, type of investment, the Cuban side, the approximate amount, location and contacts. The overall document also includes the benefits of investing in Cuba, the arrangements and the legal regime of foreign investment, international agreements related to her, current numbers of businesses on the island, interesting facts about each area, the approved sector policies and a summary of the tax system.

    The minister explained that the portfolio is not a list made by the government, but all proposals have been submitted by Cuban companies, depending on their interests and needs to get linked to foreign capital.

    The initiatives are distributed throughout the country, but are mostly concentrated in the provinces of Artemisa, Havana, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Holguin, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara and Matanzas. Most of them have feasibility studies, which facilitates the foreign entrepreneur some basic knowledge at the time of undertaking the investment.

    “We see this portfolio as a first step, it is not a document written in stone. Tomorrow another project may appear, and that is not on portfolio does not mean you cannot negotiate it, “said Malmierca, noting that the updated of the document will be made annually.

    The second portfolio will look more specifically to establish complete production chains between different areas. “Perhaps the greatest weakness of this first effort this kind of linkages are not enough promoted and they are very necessary for our economy,” he said.

    He also stressed that contact with foreign companies is an important link to promote foreign investment. “Governments can do much to create a favorable scenario, but ultimately the businesses have to be done by companies.”

    Malmierca valued foreign participation as an active and essential element for the growth of certain areas. “We have always been talking about foreign investment was a complement to national efforts, perhaps global economy is going to remain like that, but in some areas we are acknowledging it a critical role.”

    Among the advantages for foreign investors, the official mentioned the good relations of the country at regional and international level, as a member of the World Trade Organization, the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), ALBA, Caricom, Mercosur, besides prospects of understanding with the European Union. “We think from that point of view we also favor the business environment in Cuba.”


    Cuba asked international firms Monday to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick-start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency. Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz announced a list of 246 potential projects that would cost $8.7 billion to build, from a pig farm to an auto plant. The menu of possible investments is a key step in a push for foreign capital that includes the relaxation of investment restrictions and the creation of a special trade zone around a new deep-water port west of Havana.”Cuba is pushing strongly to take advantage of the benefits associated with foreign investment to stimulate development,” Malmierca said.
    Chinese executive George Yan said he asked in May for permission to build a $1 million plant at Mariel that would employ 100 Cubans to assemble energy-saving LED lights. Despite receiving initial approval three months later, he has not been shown potential sites for the factory or received other indications the project can proceed. In China, he said, “this would take 24 hours. “The Cubans have a certain fear that if they go fast they can’t reverse any decision, so they prefer to go more slowly and do all the studies,” he said. He nevertheless said he was optimistic Cuba would move faster in the coming year.

    – See more at:$8-billion-in-foreign-investment#sthash.FsmJC3kj.dpuf

    The globalization of U.S. imperialism’s financial network relies increasingly on technology for the split-second transfer of capital to every corner of the earth. It is a shadowy weapon against sovereignty and independent development for formerly colonized areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Bank of Ireland’s decision to eliminate transfers to and from Cuba is an example of how unelected proponents of imperialism in the corporate and financial boardrooms shape financial regulations to enforce their political goals — while giving the illusion of objectivity.

    Wide reach of the blockade

    Cuban offices in the U.S. are in the same situation as many workers — no bank account or credit card, cash only. In 2013 Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T bank announced without explanation that accounts held by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York City would be closed. M&T extended the accounts to March 1. Unable to process normal payments for passport renewals and visa applications, Cuba suspended consular services, but resumed them in May. To date no other bank will accept the accounts despite assurances from the U.S. that the accounts are legal.

    In Havana, Cuba, on May 2, at the Solidarity Conference hosted by the Cuban Central Union, the representative of the Jamaican trade unions explained that PriceSmart Jamaica Ltd. no longer accepted accounts from Cuban diplomats or workers residing in Jamaica — because PriceSmart, a wholesale shopping outlet, is a U.S. based corporation.

    “The U.S. [courts] claimed jurisdiction in the BNP case because the transactions were processed in dollars.” (, July 9) The BNP Paribas fine includes another punishment, banning BNP for a year from conducting some transactions in U.S. dollar transactions. This is essential to its global operations.

    In June, France’s central bank implied that the probe [at BNP Paribas] may encourage companies to stop using dollars in international transactions.

    This bank may have been threatening to supplant the U.S. dollar with the euro. The greatest gains for the most oppressed and marginalized people globally, however, has been achieved by dumping all capitalist currencies.

    The Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America, initiated by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004, has erased illiteracy in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, established medical facilities and medical schools providing health care, and restored vision for millions who had been deprived — all without the dollar.

  31. This past September Cuba signed a number of FDI treaties.
    Cuba has signed 61 bi-lateral treaties on FDI (foreign direct investment) protection in a bid to attract more capital inflow, local media reported Friday.

    “The treaties aim to protect both parties of business contracts and provide means for resolution of disputes through international arbitration,” Communist Youth daily Juventud Rebelde quoted a legal expert Raul Lozano Merino as saying.

    Mr. Lozano also stressed the importance of social responsibilities for foreign companies looking to invest in Cuba, which should ensure job creation, technology transfer and sustainable economic development.

    There was also a proposal to establish an arbitration court for Latin America, which would put the region on an equal footing with the rest of the world, said Mr. Lozano, president of the Inter-American Academy of International and Comparative Law.

    The proposal has already has gotten approval from several regional Chambers of Commerce, he said.

    Yohaney Savigne, an expert at Cuba´s Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Investment (CEPEC) mentioned that agency interest in the meeting, and added that the majority of officials in attendance have some connection with the national economy.

    Maduro announced 15% general pay raise effective December 1

    President Nicolás Maduro has announced a 15% raise in the minimum wage, close to VEB 4,890, effective December 1st this year. This will add on to a 10% raise enacted in January and a 30% raise applied in May this year. Maduro says the cumulative raise in full salary comes to 68.28% in all of 2014. He also appointed a negotiating committee to establish a framework contract for collective bargaining within the public sector. He also announced the establishment of an “Economic Intelligence Commission”, made up by the tax authority (SENIAT), the fair prices superintendent’s office (SUNDDE), the national foreign trade authority (CENCOEX) and the National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), in order to “combat criminal mafias”. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

    The danger of expansion of the private sector in Cuba-Large Corporations. This article reveals the bias legislation in the World Bank towards the corporations. In the U.S. already corporations have change the democracy process into a Democracy of Money Power. It threatens also sovereignty to countries around the World.

    Latin America has always been notoriously fertile ground for predatory corporations. For decades, aided by Western-backed governments that were as friendly to them as they were brutal to their own citizens, corporate behemoths made it their mission to suck the region dry – sometimes quite literally. The story of neoliberal plunder in that part of the world, as well as the popular backlash to it among Latin Americans, is hardly a new one. In recent years, though, the ever-aggressive corporate war on Latin American societies has entered a new phase, one in which major battles are being decided on the fourth floor of the World Bank headquarters in Washington, by an obscure and increasingly powerful institution known as the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

    The first thing you need to know about the ICSID is that it has the authority to make binding decisions that affect entire populations. Most of the time, such decisions are made by small tribunals, typically consisting of just a few people. This secretive institution is part of the ICSID Convention, a multilateral treaty that went into effect in October of 1966, to which 150 countries are currently party. The ICSID Convention “sought to remove major impediments to the free international flows of private investment posed by non-commercial risks and the absence of specialized international methods for investment dispute settlement.” If that sentence creeps you out, well, it should.

    In recent years, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia have withdrawn from the ICSID Convention, all for similar reasons. These governments cling to the quaint notion that their societies’ resources ought to belong to the people who live there, and they view the ICSID as a way to grease the skids for the continued pillaging of said resources (which is usually accompanied, of course, by environmental degradation). Bolivia withdrew from the ICSID in 2007; in 2009, Ecuador followed suit. Venezuela finalized its withdrawal from the ICSID in 2012 as the Chavez administration was dealing with a number of disputes surrounding its nationalization policies in the 2000s. All of these governments cited concerns about sovereignty and the ICSID’s persistent bias toward corporations and capital (these concerns reflect popular sentiment throughout Latin America). They’ve proposed an alternative system, involving tribunals based in South America, as opposed to Washington, D.C. In any case, a withdrawal from the ICSID is not a shield from claims by private interests, and states like Venezuela and Ecuador are still staring at billions of dollars in potential compensatory payments stemming from a number of cases over the last decade. States cannot simply ignore these judgments, as it would be viewed like a sovereign default, with all the economic risk that entails.

    It involves fairly specialized knowledge, and therefore it’s rarely discussed in popular political discourse, but a broader paradigm shift has taken place in this arena in recent years, one that, shockingly enough, favors the rights of transnational corporations. As a recent McClatchy piece on a high-profile dispute between Oceana Gold Corp. and the government of El Salvador put it, “international investment laws are empowering corporations to act against foreign governments that curtail their future profits, “ and the ICSID is the vehicle these corporations are using to ensure that these profits are not threatened.

    The widespread suspicion that this game is essentially rigged in favor of powerful private interests is not entirely unfounded. Here is Robert Bisso, the director of Social Watch, an international network of citizens’ organizations, in a speech to the U.N. in May:

    … over two thousand bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements signed in the last few decades have created new rights for transnational corporations, including rights that humans don’t have: corporations have acquired the right to settle anywhere they want and bring with them any personnel they decide they need, they are allowed to repatriate profits without restrictions and even to litigate against governments in demand of profits lost because of democratically decided policies, not through local courts but via international arbitration panels shaped to defend business interests and where human rights do not necessarily prevail. ICSID, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, hosted by the World Bank, is an untransparent tribunal that displaces national judiciary and in a way creates its own law by way of ignoring human rights standards and environmental norms, even when they have been ratified as international treaties.

    This trend should be cause for serious concern. And it’s important to remember that these disputes are not about abstractions. Aside from the long-term environmental stakes, the decisions made on these matters impact the lives of ordinary people in myriad ways, and they also threaten the ability of democratic societies to set policy.

    Take, for example, the aforementioned dispute between El Salvador and OceanaGold, on which the ICSID is set to rule sometime in the next few months. OceanaGold is a villainous Australia-based mining company – roughly a quarter of all cases heard by the ICSID have to do with mining, oil, gas, and related natural resource issues – that bought the Canadian company Pacific Rim in late 2013, and now would very much like to carry on with a mining project Pacific Rim had planned near El Salvador’s main waterway, the San Sebastian River. Otherwise, OceanaGold wants $301 million in compensation – from a perennially poor country with annual budgets well under $1 billion.

    Residents living near the El Dorado mine in the north of the country have risen in furious opposition to the mining project (a petition was recently delivered to OceanaGold with 200,000 signatures on it). Oddly, they don’t want their water polluted so a foreign corporation can find gold; disease rates linked to mining-related arsenic poisoning in Lempa River have reportedly increased substantially. This is a poor, densely populated society already dealing with dire issues regarding the quality and availability of its water. It’s also the kind of society most vulnerable to environmental degradation, not that this is of any concern to OceanaGold, nor to the ICSID, which, as Bisso said, is institutionally indifferent to environmental impact and human rights.

    El Salvador effectively banned mining in 2008 and the policy has enjoyed bipartisan support there. This particular case, then – and there are other similar ones – raises very fundamental question about politics and sovereignty. Should a nation-state have the right to change policy when it believes the health of its people and its environment is threatened? Or should the rights and interests of transnational corporations be prioritized over literally everything else? This upcoming decision at the ICSID on the El Dorado case represents an important fork in the road on this matter.

    This is not to suggest that the ICSID is a flagrantly biased institution that automatically rules in favor of corporations. It has made some reasonable decisions. Although a tribunal recently judged that Venezuela has to pay ExxonMobil $1.6 billion for appropriated oil assets – a judgment that is now suspended as Venezuela seeks further amendments – the oil giant was seeking nearly ten times that amount, and the decision was hailed as a victory by the Maduro government.

    But the fact that fairness sometimes wins over shameless economic aggression does not mean that this secretive, anti-democratic arbitration system is itself fair and sustainable. This system, in fact, threatens the rights of democratic governments to set policy in their own societies, and it potentially threatens the livelihood of people who will never step foot in a fancy building in Washington, D.C., and whose influence is limited to signing their name to a petition. When people making tremendously consequential decisions are utterly detached from those who will actually be affected by said decisions – socially, politically, economically – democracy is not being respected. Which is just fine with the private interests who always seem to benefit from the erosion of democratic culture.

  35. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CUBA: Detainees left in limbo as trial postponed yet again – November 7, 2014
    The trial of three people arrested in Cuba during a government crackdown on peaceful protests has been postponed for a fourth time in two and a half years, leaving the detainees in an unfair legal limbo, said Amnesty International today. 
    Sonia Garro Alfonso, who is a member of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) a protest group, her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González and their neighbour Eugenio Hernández Hernández have been in pre-trial detention since 18 March 2012. Their trial was finally due to start this morning but was once again postponed without explanation. No new trial date has been set. 
    “The Cuban authorities’ continual postponing of the trial without explanation raises concerns that the charges against the three may be politically motivated. They should now be released immediately and be allowed to await their trial outside of prison,” said James Burke, Caribbean Researcher, Amnesty International.

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