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Vol. 20, No. 5

In the News OAS summit falls flat Cartagena get-together proves to be a consensus without Washington ..........Page 4

Political briefs Gross vents frustration in CNN interview; Ex-prisoners unhappy in Spain .....Page 5

A culture of secrecy Cuba’s ‘hush-hush’ on corruption scandals undermines Raúl’s credibility .......Page 6

Protecting films Cuban moviemaker sues Miami firm over rights to ‘Club Habana’ film ..........Page 7

Newsmakers Miami’s Carlos Saladrigas, co-founder of the Cuba Study Group, urges reconciliation — not confrontation ...............Page 8

Painful silence Vivian Mannerud is hurt by lack of Cuban exile outrage at fire that destroyed her Coral Gables travel agency ...........Page 9

SPECIAL REPORT Diversification eases pressure on Cuba’s aging National Electric System ......Page 10

Missing the boat Cuba no longer able to benefit from record high world sugar prices ..............Page 14

Florida’s new law Gov. Rick Scott signs anti-Cuba measure after calling it unenforceable ......Page 15 CubaNews (ISSN 1073-7715) is published monthly by CUBANEWS LLC. © 2012. All rights reserved. Annual subscription: $398. Nonprofit organizations: $198. Printed edition is $100 extra. For editorial inquires, please call (305) 393-8760, fax your request to (305) 670-2229 or email

May 2012

Caribbean tourism ministers welcome, not fear, end to Cuba travel restrictions BY LARRY LUXNER


or years, the conventional wisdom was that an eventual end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba would open the floodgates for millions of curious Americans dying to visit the once-forbidden island — while the rest of the Caribbean would, at least initially, suffer a sharp downturn in U.S. tourist arrivals. After all, before the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, Cuba and Haiti were the region’s top destinations. Back then, relatively few Americans vacationed in Puerto Rico, Aruba or the Dominican Republic. But times have changed, and these days, tourism officials throughout the Caribbean don’t seem the least bit worried about the socalled “Cuba threat.” In fact, the word Cuba was barely uttered during the course of the 16th annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of much more urgent concern to delegates at the Apr. 24-26 meeting

was a punishing U.K. airline passenger tax that has dramatically boosted the cost of air travel between Great Britain and its former Caribbean colonies — and the lingering effects of the global economic slowdown that have hurt member countries from Barbados to Belize. Yet just about every tourism authority interviewed at the San Juan conference told CubaNews that an end to the U.S. travel ban would only help their islands. “Forget the competitiveness issue. We have an island called Cuba just north of us that will open up in democratic fashion,” said Josef Forstmayr, president of the 50-year-old Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, which speaks for 725 hotels and 375 other allied members. “Cuban consumers have been behind the fence for so long that they’re just dying to get out,” said Forstmayr, an Austrian who’s also managing director of Jamaica’s Round Hill Hotel and Villas. “This is a starved market. The sooner we can create air links for them to travel, the See Caribbean, page 2

Cuban support of Argentina’s seizure of Repsol stake in YPF raises oil concerns BY VITO ECHEVARRÍA


exican President Felipe Calderón declared Apr. 12 that state oil entity Petróleos Mexicanos and Cuban counterpart Cubapetróleos have signed a non-binding letter of intent allowing Pemex to explore for hydrocarbons in Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters. In addition, Mexican Energy Minister Jordy Herrera and Cuban Minister of Basic Industry Tomás Benítez signed a memo of understanding to work together in technology, training, research projects and strategic planning in oil, electricity and renewable energy. Yet given Cuba’s recent behavior regarding foreign investments, some are now starting to question the wisdom of doing business with the Castro regime. A Cuban government statement, read on state TV in Havana, recently declared its support for the Argentina’s decision to expropriate a 51%

controlling stake in that country’s largest oil company, YPF, from Spanish-owned Repsol. The plan by Argentine President Cristina Fernández to seize Repsol’s share of YPF has generated controversy worldwide. “Cuba reiterates its solidarity with the Republic of Argentina. This nation has a permanent sovereign right over all its natural resources,” the statement said. Venezuela and several other left-leaning Latin governments have expressed similar sentiments. With that kind of strident rhetoric coming out of Cuba, will oil companies like Pemex — and those that have deals with the Cubans — think twice before doing business with Havana? Cuban offshore exploration blocks have already been leased to an array of foreign oil companies including Venezuela’s PDVSA, Sonangol (Angola), Gazprom (Russia), Petronas (Malaysia), PetroVietnam, ONGC Videsh (India) and See Repsol, page 13


better. There will be enormous opportunities for inter-regional investment.” Hugh Riley, secretary-general of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization, said he’s not worried at all about Cuba as a potential rival. “We sell diversity. The fact that Cuba will become an even greater magnet to draw more visitors into the Caribbean is something we all welcome,” Riley told us. “Cuba will also be a source of visitation around the Caribbean. “It’s a two-way street, and Cuban people no doubt are as keen to get out an experience the rest of the Caribbean as the world is to experience Cuba once things change,” he said. Some 190 people attended the CHTA’s San Juan event, though not a single Cuban official was among them — nor were any invited. That’s a consequence of the cur- CTO top official Hugh Riley rent state of U.S.Cuba relations, which Forstmayr said has “deeply disappointed” him. “If you remember in the ‘90s, you had a real opportunity to open up to Cuba under President Clinton. We were all investing in it. We built bridges to Cuba and brought them in as members of CHTA. But then the political realities changed, and it all fell apart,” he said. “There’s a general feeling that once Cuba develops alongside systems of Western-style democracies — which will eventually happen — this is going to be our most important driving force for tourism development in the entire region. There will be some initial competitive advantage and some diminishing of arrivals into some of our islands. Cuba is so geographically dominant, yet acts as a barrier between North America and South America. Just imagine when it’s open.” DOMINICAN REPUBLIC LEADS THE WAY

Alec Sanguinetty, director-general of the Miami-based CHTA, quipped that Cuba is already open — just not for Americans. “Cuba already has major markets in Europe, Canada and South America, so we have to keep this in context,” he said. “It’s not new to tourism, so we don’t see this as having a major impact because [our member countries] have known for some time that the day will come when U.S. citizens will be allowed to visit. They’ve been preparing for it.” Besides, he pointed out, “the initial movement will be Cuban-Americans returning from South Florida. With the infrastructure that is there now, the capacity to manage that influx will leave very little room for true visitors going to Cuba for a tourism experience.” The undisputed leader in Caribbean tourism is the Dominican Republic, with 4.3 mil-

lion tourist arrivals last year. Cuba, by comparison, received 2.7 million visitors. Tourism is now a crucial source of foreign exchange for both countries; in Cuba’s case, it brought in more than $2 billion last year. Enrique de Marchena Kaluche, managing partner of the DMK law firm in Santo Domingo, is ex-chairman of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association as well as the Tourism Association of the Dominican Republic. Speaking at the San Juan conference, he said roughly 1.3 million tourists visited his country during the first three months of 2012, a 7.9% jump from the year-ago period. During that time, arrivals from Canada rose 3.7%,

The Dominican government operates tourism offices in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is promoting Puerto Plata and Samaná in addition to Punta Cana as major destinations for Russian tourists, who tend to spend more than the average visitor on excursions, luxury items and souvenirs. Carlos Vogeler, regional director for the Americas at the World Tourism Organization, said that for the first time in history, one billion people will cross international borders as tourists this year. Germany is currently the top international outbound market, followed by the United States and China. LARRY LUXNER

Caribbean — FROM PAGE 1

CubaNews v May 2012

Coconut palms line the coast at Tortuga Bay, an upscale resort within Punta Cana. With 4.3 million visitors last year, the Dominican Republic ranked as the Caribbean’s most popular tourist destination by far.

from the United States 13.2% and from South America a whopping 22.9%. D.R. hotel occupancy now stands at 85.6%, and the country has just over 65,000 rooms, more than any other Caribbean destination (Cuba, by comparison, has 56,705 rooms). Kaluche credits effective marketing and promotion for the dramatic increase. “Five or six years ago, we had a promotion budget of about $15 million, which was nothing. Today it exceeds $50 million,” he said. “We’ve diversified our markets and products.” North Americans account for about 60% of all tourist arrivals to the Dominican Republic, but Western Europe’s percentage is declining as new markets emerge. RUSSIAN TOURISTS INVADE THE CARIBBEAN

In 2005, the country received 7,500 Brazilians, rising last year to 28,000. Likewise, only 14,200 Russians visited the D.R. in 2005. By last year, that number had jumped to 125,000. That’s a 58% increase from even 2010 figures. “That gives you an idea how the market mix is changing,” he said. Russians today represent 3.3% of all visitors to Dominican shores. Punta Cana International Airport, the country’s largest, now receives 12 weekly flights from Russia on Boeing 747s; nine are handled by Transaero, and three by Aeroflot.

“Seven destinations — Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Aruba and Barbados — constitute 75% of all arrivals to the Caribbean, but there’s a high dependency on markets such as the U.S., Canada and Europe,” he said. “These are precisely the markets that have suffered during the recent financial crisis.” PUERTO RICO SEEKS TO DIVERSIFY

No Caribbean destination depends more on the U.S. mainland market than Puerto Rico. Nicole Rodríguez, chief marketing officer at the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., said more than 90% of all visitors to her island are American citizens who don’t need passports to fly there because it’s a U.S. commonwealth and has been since 1952. But still, she said Puerto Rico needs to diversify, and urgently. “We know Latin America is a tremendous opportunity for us, for one thing, because we speak the same language,” she said. “Right now, we can’t do any marketing efforts without having direct air access. However, for the past two or three years, we’ve been in negotiations, and we trust that by the end of this year we’ll be able to announce new air routes to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, See Drugs, page 3


May 2012 v CubaNews

Caribbean — FROM PAGE 2 Colombia and Chile.” Noted Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics Inc. and an expert on Caribbean tourism trends: “Brazil will achieve visa waiver status with the U.S. in the next two years. If we can get reciprocity, it’s going to open up the Caribbean market even further. The demographics are very strong.” In 2009, Brazilians spent $11 billion on outbound tourism, said Vogeler. Lifted by 7.5% GDP growth in 2010 — the country’s best performance since the 1980s —that figure more than doubled to $21.2 billion last year.

“But the private sector has determined that we need to get together and develop that market to spread our risks.” ARGENTINES, CHILEANS FLOCK TO CUBA

Cuba is also receiving record numbers of both South Americans and Russians. Last year, 76,500 shivering Russians left their country to vacation in Cuba — generally at all-inclusive resorts in Varadero — more than double the number who visited in 2009. Argentines, meanwhile, are poised to edge out British and Spanish visitors as the No. 4 source of tourism to Cuba after Canadians and U.S.-based Cuban exiles.


Those impressive numbers aren’t lost on tiny Barbados. A British colony until 1966, the English-speaking island of 290,000 inhabitants depends more on U.K. tourism than any other jurisdiction in the Caribbean. In 2008, British visitors accounted for 38.7% of the 567,700 tourists who visited Barbados that year, though by 2010 that share had fallen by 17.7% to 181,054 visitors (or 34%) — a drop largely blamed on a controversial air passenger tax imposed by London that’s added up to £83 ($130) per ticket in economy class. BARBADOS PUSHES SOUTH AMERICAN MARKET

That’s when Barbados tourism officials decided it was time to look elsewhere. “Brazil recently surpassed the U.K. as the world’s sixth-largest economy, so Barbados — recognizing the fact that Brazil is a dynamic, emerging nation — decided to go into that market two years ago,” said Colin Jordan, director of business development at Mango Bay Hotel and president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. In June 2010, Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol kicked off weekly service between São Paulo and Bridgetown’s Grantley Adams International Airport. That has eliminated the need for Brazilian vacationers to transit Miami — and has also slashed several hours of flying time in the process. “The numbers so far from Brazil have not been tremendous. We only have one flight a week coming out of São Paulo,” said Jordan.

As of Mar. 15, some 29,000 Argentines had visited Cuba so far this year, up a staggering 40% compared to the same period in 2011, according to Ministry of Tourism statistics. Other leading South American markets for

Cuba — which received a total of 2.7 million tourists last year — are, in descending order of growth, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Paraguay. Is Puerto Rico worried about an eventual opening of U.S. tourism to Cuba? Hardly, says PRTC’s Rodríguez. “Cuba has been under communist rule for so many years that people will want to go. But I don’t think it’ll be a threat to Puerto Rico specifically, because it will take so much time for them to develop the country,” she told CubaNews. “Remember also that we have the advantage of no U.S. passports required.” William Jonckheer, senior vice-president of the CTO and president of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce, said he’s not particularly worried either. “I think Cuba might become competition for the mega-destinations of the Caribbean such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, but it’s going to take Cuba 15 to 20 years to get up to par to where the rest of the Caribbean is now,” he said. “A lot of people will visit Cuba at the beginning, but in the short term is it not going to hurt the Caribbean.” And if recent history is any guide, Cubans could one day stay in smaller, cheaper hotels across the region — much as adventure-seeking tourists from the former Soviet bloc have boosted tourism from Spain to Switzerland. “Look at Eastern Europe and when it opened. The Russians are now creating winter seasons in the Alps that never existed before. The Alps are all full of Russians. They’ve filled up all the resorts,” said the CHTA’s Forstmayr. “There is no Caribbean people that doesn’t love to travel, and the Cuban consumer is going to be ferocious. To me, that’s the biggest opportunity of all.” q Larry Luxner, editor of CubaNews, attended the Apr. 24-26 CHTA event in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

How Cuba compares to the rest of the Caribbean TOP 18 DESTINATIONS IN 2011 DESTINATION


Dominican Rep. Cuba Jamaica Cancún, Mexico Puerto Rico Bahamas Aruba US Virgin Is. Barbados Martinique St. Maarten Curaçao Cayman Islands British Virgin Is. Belize Antigua Bermuda Suriname

4,306,431 4.4 2,716,317 7.3 1,951,752 1.6 1,671,710* 0.7 1,441,114 5.3 1,341,871 -2.1 871,316 5.6 678,962 -1.8 567,724 6.7 495,302 3.9 424,340 -4.2 390,297 14.2 309,091 7.2 276,985 0.6 250,264 3.5 241,331 5.0 236,038 1.6 220,475 7.9

% +/-



CubaNews v May 2012


OAS summit in Cartagena: Consensus without Washington BY DOMINGO AMUCHASTEGUI


.S. foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean has lost considerable ground. Investments, trade and leadership have all declined, and President Obama — despite his lofty promises of a “restart” of U.S. relations with the region at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port-ofSpain, back in 2009 — has failed to reverse that trend inherited from his predecessors. This latest Organization of American States summit, held last month in Cartagena, Colombia, was a disaster for Washington policymakers — Secret Service agents and call girls notwithstanding — and the issue of Cuba made the disaster even worse. A few days before the OAS gathering in Cartagena, Mexican President Felipe Calderón visited Cuba. And a few weeks before Calderón, Cuba received Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Pope Benedict XVI. Calderón’s visit resulted in a rescheduling of Cuba’s debt with Mexico as well as joint cooperation in oil exploration of Gulf of Mex-

ico waters. He insisted that common interests, not differences, should characterize MexicanCuban ties, and upon his departure from Havana declared that “Mexico condemns, and will continue to condemn, the unjust embargo enforced on Cuba.” Colombia is by every standard a close ally of the United States, yet Santos was quit blunt when he said: “You better look south, because for the United States its strategic interests in the long run are in Latin America, not in faraway places. Isolation, embargo, indifference and looking the other way have shown their inefficiencies. They are anachronisms that keep us anchored to the Cold War era.” Santos went on to warn that future summits without Cuba “would be unacceptable” and concluded by saying “We cannot be indifferent to a process of internal changes in Cuba.” Mac Margolis, writing in The Daily Beast, put it this way: “It was Obama’s fourth trip to Latin America and he landed in the Caribbean with an impressive 1,000 aides and handlers in tow. And yet from day one of the gathering of 32 heads of state, the U.S. and the rest of

Economic transformation well underway


n late April, Politburo member Esteban Lazo boldly predicted that “today, almost 95% of Cuba’s GDP is produced by the state, [but] within four or five years, between 40% and 45% will result from different forms of non-state production.” Indeed, it seems a drastic redesign of Cuban socialism is already in place. One month ago, The Economist published a 10-page special report on this very topic, and called it “Cuba hurtles towards capitalism.” The report discussed the economy in detail and explained why such reforms are slow and difficult. Nevertheless, Lazo’s announcement suggests that things aren’t moving that slow at all. The report makes clear that “there is no turning back this time.” In fact, Cuba’s GDP is no longer 95% in state hands, thanks to two areas where major transformations have taken place. The first is agriculture, where state farms are rapidly fading away — as are fixed prices and forced procurement. The second is the service sector, where productive activities ranging from construction to metalworks and furniture have already ceased to be part of “the state.” Furthermore, the recent announcement made by Vice President Marino Murillo giving the green light to the formation of cooperatives outside agriculture — meaning the urban economy — is a clear confirmation of the current pace of reforms. Various forms of property arrangements

will soon come into play, among them leasing, selling, joint coops, small/medium businesses and foreign direct investments (and not just 51-49 ventures) as partial solutions for bankrupt industries and services. Remember that of Cuba’s 3,700 economic entities, fewer than 900 had been classified as economically viable in 2005, according to the standards of Perfeccionamiento empresarial; the remaining 2,800 did not meet such standards. The choice was to either shut them down or open up restructure and redefine these entities, opening up new opportunities. For every officially registered cuentapropista — and 370,000 self-employed Cubans are on the books — another two or three are “submerged” in the underground economy for various reasons. These include a wait-and-see attitude and a lack of trust in current government policies. There’s also considerable pressure from the roughly 20% of Cubans living in relative poverty — not to mention that by 2016, some 1.8 million people will be deprived of their once-sacred state salaries. What’s clear is that in Cuba, the sense of urgency is gaining momentum; no one should doubt Lazo’s prediction. In all likelihood, the private sector will eventually represent more than 45% of GDP following the overall redesign of Cuba’s economy along updated patterns of market socialism. – DOMINGO AMUCHASTEGUI

the Americas appeared to be living in different hemispheres. “Instead of effectively leading a conversation on how to mend the strained relations south of the equator, Washington found itself on the defensive, battered by Latin American gripes and resentments, both real and imagined, and sucked into no-win arguments on issues (legalizing drugs, democracy, free trade) and anachronisms (Cuba) that not even Latin leaders agree on.” Obama’s personal efforts to blame Cuba in his speeches and interviews were absolutely useless and fell on deaf ears. His main arguments were the absence of democratic change in Cuba and the fact that Cuba doesn’t want to join the OAS — despite the resolution cancelling its expulsion which was adopted in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, two years ago. Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the administration’s most prominent advisers are still incapable of grasping the most important trends and developments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The region, which long ago rejected the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas — has been building its own foundations and regional blocs, as well as its own tools for diplomatic consensus and cooperation without the help of the United States and Canada. Grupo de Río, Unasur, Mercosur, Petrocaribe and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish) are all homegrown institutions in which Cuba has been active for years, and which Washington policymakers blindly refuse to consider. Times have indeed changed, from the days of the Washington Consensus 20 years ago to today’s consensus without Washington. q

Shakeup at 2 ministries The Cuban government plans to revamp two underperforming ministries and broaden a project to turn state businesses over to employee cooperatives, Reuters reported in early April, quoting state TV. Both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Informatics and Communications will be reorganized following discussions at the Council of Ministers. These are part of wide-ranging reforms initiated by President Raúl Castro, who is encouraging the growth of Cuba’s private sector and reducing the size and role of government in Cuba’s cash-strapped Sovietstyle system. Yet progress has been painfully slow. Cuban TV said that Marino Murillo, architect of the reforms, described the Ministry of Agriculture as having been in an “unfavorable economic-financial state for several years” and that actions it had taken to date “had been insufficient to turn it around.”


May 2012 v CubaNews

POLITICAL BRIEFS ALAN GROSS TO CNN: ‘I’M TAKING THIS PERSONALLY’ Alan Gross gave his first media interview May 4 to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer since beginning a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba on charges of subversion. Gross, 63, was arrested in 2009 while a subcontractor on a U.S. Agency for International Development project aimed at spreading democracy. Gross’s family and attorneys say that he traveled to Cuba to help link the country’s small Jewish community to the Internet. But Cuban authorities claim the Maryland resident imported sensitive communications equipment to connect dissidents. “The president of the Dominican Republic told me two years ago when he visited, ‘Alan, I hope you realize this is not about you,’” Gross said, speaking by phone from Havana’s Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital. “And at the time, I could understand that. I could intellectualize it — that it wasn’t about me, that it was an effort on the part of the Cuban government to express its disdain to the United States,” he said. “But right now, it is about me. It’s about my family and it’s about my mother. And I’m taking this very personally.” Last year, Cuba’s top court upheld the sentence against Gross — charges he angrily denies. “If I weren’t in this situation, I would be laughing about it,” Gross told Blitzer, “because I’m about as much of a threat to the security and the state as the chair is that I’m sitting on right now.” EX-POLITICAL PRISONERS NOT HAPPY IN SPAIN Once portrayed as a bighearted effort by Spain to assist 115 political prisoners newly freed by Havana — plus 647 of their relatives — today the presence of those Cubans in Spain has turned into heartache for both the migrants and Madrid officials, the Miami Herald reported Apr. 17. With benefits long gone, most of the migrants are jobless, a few are homeless and at least one of their children has dropped out of school because the family cannot afford his bus money. About 25 Cubans are now camping out in front of the Foreign Ministry in Madrid, and 10 of them have declared hunger strikes to demand better treatment, said Julio Cesar Galvéz, a dissident journalist who was jailed in 2003 and was freed and flown to Madrid in 2010. INMATE PUNISHED FOR SHOOTING SECRET VIDEOS An inmate who shot videos inside a Havana prison to publicize its awful conditions has been transferred to an isolation cell in one of Cuba’s worst prisons, the Miami Herald reported Apr. 10. A Colombian inmate who appeared in one of the videos to proclaim his innocence has been on a hunger strike for more than a month and was moved to a cell in the hospital wing of the Combinado del Este prison, the newspaper said. Opposition activists also reported that all but one of the 43 government critics arrested in eastern Santiago de Cuba have been released. The exception was José Daniel Ferrer García, a leading dissident and former political prisoner. Dissident journalist Virgen Dania García said Dalvinder Singh Jagpal, an Indian citizen who shot the 10 videos inside the Combinado del Este prison in January, had been transferred to the notorious Agüica prison in Matanzas province.

In their own words … “President Obama knows this only too well and has talked about it with some of his visitors. He candidly told one of them: ‘The problem is that the United States sends soldiers while Cuba, however, sends doctors.’” — Fidel Castro, claiming in a May 3 propaganda piece published at that President Obama privately praises Cuba while criticizing his own country. “I can’t bring a box of cigars from Cuba because of the embargo, but these people are taking guns to Cuba. Sheez!” — anonymous travel company official, commenting Apr. 26 on Cuban claims of guns turning up inside Havana-bound luggage checked at Miami International Airport. “If the Jews do that, it would be wrong, too. We will put up our billboard every chance we get because that’s the right we have to free speech.” — Max Lesnik, a Radio Miami commentator, defending a billboard in Little Havana that urged freedom for the Cuban Five. Exiles criticizing the pro-Cuba propaganda asked if Jews in Miami Beach wouldn’t force down billboards praising Adolf Hilter. “Constitutional lawyers have told me that this legislation will be challenged in court. I signed the bill regardless of that fact, and it will become a state law on July 1, 2012. As governor, it is my sworn duty to uphold the laws of the state and I will meet any challenge to this law in court as necessary.” — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a May 3 statement backing a law that bars the state government from doing business with companies that do business with Cuba. “I believe that it’s constitutional, but I don’t sit on the Supreme Court. So it’s not going to be my decision to make.” — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), telling the Miami Herald why he criticized Scott for calling Florida’s new anti-Cuba law unenforceable and unconstitutional (see above). “Through this official visit, Cuba and Mexico have begun a renewed stage of our relationship. They have been two extraordinary days for Cuba and for Mexico in that their mutual affection has been found again.” — Mexican President Felipe Calderón, speaking to reporters Apr. 12 upon departing Cuba, after overseeing the signing of accords in health care and oil exploration. “For the last couple of years, all we’ve heard about Cuba is travel, tourism and trade, but it’s the same people we fought against 51 years ago.” — Mario Quevedo, one of several Tampa residents with Cuban roots who petitioned Mayor Bob Buckhorn to sign a proclamation honoring Bay of Pigs veterans. “The only things I can afford to buy at the ‘shopping’ [Cuban colloquialism for CUC stores] are chicken thighs and tubes of frozen ground turkey. Those are good products, but how many ways can you cook the same chicken? My family rolls their eyes when they see what’s for dinner. They’re about to grow feathers.” — María, a government accountant who declined to give her last name, complaining during a Havana May Day parade about worsening economic conditions in Cuba. “We’ve looked at their [Coast Guard] response capabilities, which honestly are somewhat limited. The main thing they have the ability to do is to boom certain areas and try to deal with floating near-surface oil. Anything that’s down deeper than that, nobody seems to have a way to manage that much volume of water.” — Eric Myers, natural resources administrator for Broward County, Fla., telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel what might happen in the event of an oil spill off the coast of Cuba, where Repsol will soon start drilling less than 60 miles from Florida shores. “I feel like I betrayed the Latin American community and I am here to say I am sorry to all the people I hurt indirectly or directly from the bottom of my heart. I don’t want to make any excuses. This is the biggest mistake so far of my life.” — Ozzie Gullen, speaking Apr. 10 in Spanish on ESPN. Gullen, manager of the Miami Marlins, offended thousands of Cuban exiles after he was quoted in Time magazine as saying “I love Fidel Castro.” He was suspended for five games — a punishment backed by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.


CubaNews v May 2012


Secrecy, hush-hush undermine Raúl Castro’s credibility


aúl Castro has been adamant on the need to put an end to secretismo and the pervasive lack of transparency when disseminating information to Cuba’s citizens. Over the last two years, he’s publicly discussed issues connected to corruption and has promised to report back to the people on the details. But with three or four exceptions, this has not happened. Withholding information on these matters continues to be a recurrent pattern, something that contradicts the president’s promises to fight secrecy and disclose information concerning ongoing corruption cases. And in doing so, he undermines public accountability and credibility. This is why many Cubans resort to hushhush or informal gossip. Those with access to the media can get in serious trouble for making such gossip public — which is what happened to Esteban Morales, who was nearly booted from Cuba’s Communist Party after publishing an article denouncing “counterrevolutionary” corruption and bureaucracy. Looking back, there are still many cases, details, names and sanctions that have never been disclosed. Investigations and the work of Cuba’s courts remain strictly secret. Privileged information to Party members and high government officials in the form of videos reporting such are off-limits to all but a handful of Cubans. That raises the question: How many top officials with direct responsibility in such corruption cases have actually been punished? Some have, some have not — and their names go from mouth to mouth by way of the usual gossip.”


One of the most notorious cases is that of Rogelio Acevedo, chairman of Cubana de Aviación, who had responsibility — direct or indirect — in a major scandal rocking the airline. Yet he still remains in a sort of legal limbo. Acevedo’s wife, Ofelia Liptak, a former leader in the Young Communist Union (UJC) was sentenced to seven years in jail in connection with the Río Zaza scandal that involved Chile’s Max Marambio. But the prevailing rumor in Cuba is that she’s been transferred to house arrest. Are authorities indeed getting soft on people who were part of major corruption scams involving tens of millions of dollars? An even worse case is that of José Ramón Balaguer, now a member of the Party Secretariat in charge of its international department. While minister of public health, he was involved in two major scandals that shocked public opinion in Cuba. From 2006 to 2008, officials of the Hospital de Emergencias Freyre de Andrade — one of the biggest in Havana — forged signatures and payrolls to the Oficina Nacional de la Ad-

ministración Tributaria (ONAT). As a result, millions were stolen. But no names were given, no punishments were announced, and no one at the Ministry of Public Health was ever held accountable.” Then came an apocalypse. For decades, the Psychiatric Hospital in Mazorras had been held up as one of the crown jewels of Cuba’s much vaunted public health system. For foreign delegations, it was a “must-see” facility. But during a 2010 cold snap, nearly 50 patients — suffering utter neglect — died of

couple of third-rate bureaucrats were able to pull off such a brilliant scam — a gross example of the lack of economic control and accountability. Yet nothing was published in Cuba and everything was, again, hush-hush. It looks like the same thing might happen again with regard to the much-hyped fiberoptic connection linking Venezuela to Cuba. The link was supposed to increase Internet access in Cuba by 3,000%, according to experts. Local media gave considerable coverage was given to this $70 million venture, which LARRY LUXNER


Havana’s Hotel Comodoro tourist complex, the focus of a corruption scandal involving millions of dollars.

malnutrition and hypothermia in just a few days because food, beds, mattresses and other basic items had been systematically stolen and sold by employees. Massive forgery of vouchers, payrolls and other documents, together with an absolute lack of control or supervision by authorities was also uncovered at the hospital. Inevitably, the scandal became news, and months later the hospital director and a few other minor staffers were punished. But no one at the top was made accountable. Given the shameful situation, Balaguer should have resigned, but didn’t. He was transferred to his current position — something that in the eyes of many Cubans was completely unacceptable. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FIBEROPTIC CABLE?

In January, an audit at Havana’s famous Comodoro tourist resort revealed millions of dollars had been stolen by a cashier and a minor administrator. But by the time their deeds became known, the two were already in Mexico, on their way to the United States. The funny, yet tragic, side to this is that a

involved several foreign companies as well as Venezuelan authorities. Then all of a sudden, it disappeared from the media, and not one more word has been said about it. Inevitably, hush-hush took over: millions stolen, again massive forgery, dozens arrested, foreign accomplices, and the project completely paralyzed. But no official information was released, and nobody knows when or if that’ll ever happen. IMPUNITY ALIVE AND WELL IN CUBA

Even more irritating than those scandals are what ordinary Cubans call “los hijos de papá” — meaning the sons and daughters of Cuban leaders who show off, brag and generally commit crimes with impunity. Even though some of these kids have earned their current positions through hard work and dedication, many others have not. Next to nothing has been done to make them accountable, or discipline them to follow certain patterns of behavior to match the moral authority of their parents. In the late ‘80s, Rául went to Cuba’s NucleSee Secrecy, page 7


May 2012 v CubaNews


Cuban filmmaker sues Miami firm in IPR copyright dispute BY VITO ECHEVARRÍA


he Castro regime is well-known for going out of its way, even filing lawsuits, to protect trademarks for its various cherished Cuban brands — everything from Havana Club rum to Cohiba cigars. However, protecting Cuban-made films against international piracy and copyright infringement hasn’t been much of a priority. Visit popular video-sharing site YouTube and you can download for free any number of critically acclaimed Cuban films such as “Dioses Rotos”, “El Cuerno de la Abundancia”, “Guantanamera”, “Afinidades” and “Entre Dos Aguas.” Even “HabanaStation” — which recently premiered at the Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) — is yours for the taking. “Usually, when it’s a Cuba-only production, they find there is no way to establish a lawsuit,” said Havana filmmaker Alejandro Brugues during his recent appearance at HFFNY. He also said that if a Cuban film is co-produced with a foreign film company and/or

Secrecy — FROM PAGE 6 ar Institute to personally explain to employees why he was firing “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart, Fidel’s eldest son and a nuclear physicist, as chairman. Everybody applauded the decision as the right thing to do. But for many, that long-ago lesson has been forgotten, with a resulting outcry of criticism. In the ‘80s, many high-ranking officials sent their children to Angola, Nicaragua or Ethiopia to experience what hundreds of thousands of Cubans were doing. But others didn’t care at all, keeping their kids behind. Indeed, a shameful attitude. In closing remarks to the Cuban Communist Party’s national conference in January, Raúl went to great lengths to warn of the many dangers of Cuba’s spreading corruption scandals. The head of state vowed that everyone involved — including top Party leaders — would be put on trial, with the results widely publicized in the local media. That was four months ago; people are still waiting. Indeed, changes are well underway; the Lineamientos are being im-plemented and debates are taking place across the island. But until Raúl Castro stops keeping secrets and starts punishing corrupt officials, his government won’t enjoy the credibility it so desperately needs at this stage of the game. q Former Cuban intelligence officer Domingo Amuchastegui has lived in Miami since 1994. He writes regularly for CubaNews on the Communist Party, South Florida’s exile community and the internal politics of Cuba.

international financiers, it’s generally the nonCuban partner who may want to pursue a copyright protection lawsuit against the offending party. “Usually, it is up to the [non-Cuban] co-producer to take legal action,” he said. “That is very complex.” Apparently, at least one Cuban filmmaker wants to change this situation and improve copyright protection of his country’s productions in the United States. Several months ago, Jorge Herrera, who directed the films “90 Millas” and “Entre Dos Aguas”, filed a lawsuit with the Southern District Court of Florida. His petition against two Miami firms, Mega Media Holdings Inc. and DVD distributor Marakka 2000 Inc., and other co-defendants, alleges copyright infringement of one of his other Cuba-made productions, “Club Habana.” SUIT: MEGA MEDIA INFRINGED ‘BUT DIDN’T CARE’

Mega Media controls the Spanish-language cable network Mega TV, a subsidiary of Spanish Broadcasting System. The Hispanic media conglomerate, best known for its network of radio stations throughout the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, is owned by Cuban-American mogul Raúl Alarcón. Herrera’s Miami Beach-based IPR attorney, Amaury Cruz, sent CubaNews a copy of his client’s complaint against Mega Media. The suit claims that Mega TV aired “Club Habana” on its network in December 2011, two months before its scheduled February 2012 theatrical release in Miami. The complaint also says Mega Media executives asserted they got a copy of the film from Marakka, and that it is bound by an indemnity and hold harmless provision with respect to any violation of IPR. With Herrera believing that Mega Media willfully infringed upon his copyright, he’s still suing the cable TV network. In addition, Herrera says Marakka and other co-defendants made pirated copies of his “Club Habana” film and later distributed them in Miami and other Florida markets, and also sold DVDs online. Herrera further alleges that, as of January 2012, digital copies of that film ended up on the, and websites. He even asserts that pirated copies of the film found their way onto the streets of Havana, bearing Mega’s trademark. “I have evidence the defendants knew they were infringing, but didn’t care,” said Cruz. “Mega and the rest were warned beforehand and went forward anyway. Fernández [another defendant in the case] did raise issues relating to the embargo and suggested Herrera was a communist, but it was a smokescreen.” James Sammartaro of the Miami law firm Stroock Stroock & Lavan LLP, which is defending Mega Media, declined to discuss

the case. Herrera has standing in U.S. courts due to his unique circumstance. He’s a German national and is using that legal status to assert copyright protection for his film, since Germany is a member of the Berne Convention, which provides for international enforcement of copyrighted material (including films) generated by citizens of signatory nations. However, if Herrera were still a Cuban national while living in Germany or elsewhere, or had even been a Cuban exile living in the United States, questions remain as to whether he’d still be able to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit on U.S. soil —— which could be relevant in the near future for other Cuban filmmakers. Under an exception to the embargo against Cuba initiated in 1995 under President Clinton, Sect. 515.528, Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), allows U.S. entities to assert the protection of their intellectual property in Cuba. It also provides for the U.S. government to protect intellectual property assets belonging to the Cuban government. That exception technically allows Cuban government-run filmmaking entities to pursue copyright protections here, but no U.S. litigation has tested this. Nor will it apply in the Herrera case, since he is an individual. “There is very little if any relevant jurisprudence and practically no scholarly comments [in this area],” admits Cruz. CUBA URGED TO FIGHT FOR IPR IN U.S. COURTS

For this reason, IPR lawyer Marvin Feldman of the New York-based law firm Lackenbach Siegel LLP strongly urges Cuban filmmakers to protect their commercial interests internationally, including the U.S. market. “One thing they can do is assign U.S. copyright to a member of the European Union,” Feldman told CubaNews. “The EU entity could then, without any question, secure U.S. copyright.” Even though all 27 EU member countries and Cuba are signatories to the Berne Convention, Feldman makes this recommendation for Cuban-made films since there’s a much stronger likelihood of legal precedent for copyright protection for those from EU countries than from Cuba. Feldman also believes that the embargo may have been a factor in the blatant violations of not only Herrera’s copyright, but of other Cuban filmmakers by various parties in the United States. “Clearly the defendants [in the Herrera case] had to form a conclusion that they can get away with it,” he said. “Maybe their defense is that [Cuban] copyrights are not enforceable in the U.S. We will learn more as this case goes along.” Details: Amaury Cruz, The Lexarian Firm, 1560 Lenox Ave., #207, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Tel: (305) 604-2051. Email:


CubaNews v May 2012


Carlos Saladrigas urges reconciliation, not confrontation


arlos Saladrigas knew he’d made a mistake. In 1998, when Pope John Paul II was headed to Cuba, he and other Cuban-American business leaders pressured the Archdiocese of Miami to cancel a pilgrimage to the island, arguing that the trip would bolster the Castro regime. But seeing photos of crowds flocking to see the pope in his homeland, the lifelong Catholic realized he should have been there “with my Cuban brothers and sisters, holding hands and enjoying that brief moment of liberty.” This year, the former hardliner flew to see Pope Benedict XVI in Havana, joining some 700 other Cuban exiles on the trip. It was his fifth visit to the island in just over a year — after decades away. In Havana, he proudly spoke at a Catholic cultural center on the need for reconciliation, drawing a diverse audience including dissidents, Communist Party cadres, academics, clergy and fellow Cuban-Americans. Saladrigas told the group that much of Cuba’s diaspora “has concluded that it is unethical and is not sustainable to maintain policies of isolation and economic that harm our people … Let us build the bridges that are needed and give ourselves the task of building a new Cuba, a free Cuba, sovereign, inclusive, prosperous, diverse, rich, fair, equitable and generous toward the weakest sectors.” CubaNews talked with Saladrigas, 63, for an hour following his return to Miami. The Apr. 26 interview covered his political transformation, Benedict’s visit and Cuba’s future. The co-chair of the Cuba Study Group, which advocates open U.S. travel to Cuba and small business on the island, said he’s optimistic that change will accelerate with help from the Catholic Church and others creating safe spaces for dialogue. Here are excerpts from our conversation: CN: You came to the United States as a 12year-old in 1961, sent by your parents to grow up outside communism. For decades, you backed the U.S. embargo against Cuba. How did your views change so radically? CS: You begin to question the theory of economic sanctions when you see Cuba survive the Special Period [after the fall of the Soviet Union, when everything was scarce]. You start to wonder, “Maybe there’s something beyond repression that is keeping this regime in place and making it so resilient.” In 1998, when I saw the images of the pope in Cuba, I realized I should have been there. About the same time, someone introduced me to Father José Conrado — the priest in Santiago de Cuba who is quite outspoken. He’s known for having written a letter to Fidel Castro asking him to resign [in 1994]. Fidel never acknowledged the letter, but Conrado was asked by the church to go abroad to study. He went to Spain and got a degree. I

met him in Miami, and we established a friendship that has lasted until today. This man when you see his faith, it’s incredibly contagious. He is as transparent, as open as a piece of glass. And yet, profound and thinking and caring like few people I have met. He began to convince me that confrontation was not the answer, that the answer was in reconciliation. Then came Elián González, [the 6-year-old

He reminded us that the role of businesspeople is support politicians, not to be politicians; that we were doing damage to the cause. After we left, we said, “That was useless, but we have to keep going.” CN: Could you have persevered without spiritual support from Conrado? CS: I couldn’t. What I’ve been doing [since 2000], you can only do with a sense of passion. LARRY LUXNER


Carlos Saladrigas, photographed in his Miami office, urges reconciliation with the regime he once hated.

Cuban boy whose mother had died while fleeing Cuba and whose Miami relatives in 2000 refused to return him to his father in Cuba]. We had been contacted by [U.S. Attorney General] Janet Reno to see if we could find a solution. We knew that [hardline] Miami was becoming hysterical about this. About that time I wrote an article in the Miami Herald saying “Why do we have this urge to swing a bat every time Fidel Castro pitches a ball?” We were being reactive, not strategic. After Elián [was seized and returned to his father], many [Cuban-American] community leaders asked, “What happened? How did we allow this to destroy the image that we had built so hard over so many years?” Everywhere in the world we were being seen as radical, crazies, intolerant, the worst of the worst. That was the genesis of the Cuba Study Group. We said enough is enough. In Miami, there are thinking people. We’re going to help with the process of change in Cuba. CN: Did you get a lot of negative feedback? CS: All the time. One of the first things we did was to visit Lincoln Díaz-Balart when he was congressman. We went to have a dialogue and instead he lectured us.

And I found that passion through Conrado. His living in Cuba gave him authority to talk about things that I couldn’t, because I don’t experience them. My Jesuit education taught me, “You’re part of God’s purpose.” I had a sense of duty. I couldn’t have [withstood the attacks] without that spiritual component. CN. When did you get back to Cuba? CS: I tried several times but was refused entry — until January last year. I found out later that the Cardinal had requested my visa. That visit was purely religious and personal. We had planned to go on a pilgrimage with Archbishop [Thomas] Wenski from Miami, but my visa came late. My wife and I went for 10 days. We visited the shrine of Our Lady of Charity, and Holguín where my wife has relatives. We drove all the way from Santiago to Havana. I’m a member of the Cuban Association of the Knights of Malta, and we provide funding for cafeterias, where the elderly can get a hearty lunch, and funds for clinics, activities and the seminary in Havana. So, we visited some of the works we funded. I left with two overriding conclusions: Cuba is my country, and the Cuban people are just See Saladrigas, page 9


May 2012 v CubaNews

Saladrigas — FROM PAGE 8 like us, with the same virtues and defects. Compared to my 1984 trip [to visit a sick relative], I found a Cuba with significantly more freedoms, activity on the streets, and places where you can enjoy a beer and relax. I was shocked how openly people would say things critical of the government. I was moved and touched. I keep going back, working to promote entrepreneurship and programs with the church. I’m going in July. CN: What did it feel like to go with a big group for the Benedict’s visit?

to be part of this dialogue. We need to be part of changes happening in Cuba. We cannot just cross our arms and wait for Cuba to be perfect to parachute in and say “We’re here.” CN: Why your focus on microenterprise? CS: Small businesses are a fantastic way to spread and create wealth. I’d love to see in Cuba a nation of entrepreneurs. But that’s not going to happen until you have a government policy that encourages it. One of the things that I just did in Cuba was talk about what Brazil has done: In five years, with government help, they’ve built 400 incubators for small businesses. They’re asking

“Small businesses are a fantastic way to spread and create wealth. I’d love to see in Cuba a nation of entrepreneurs. But that’s not going to happen until you have a government policy that encourages it.”

through a revolution and know what it brought them — destruction, despair, division and polarization. It wasn’t a balanced package. It had a high cost. And the Cuban people, I believe, don’t want another revolution. They want evolutionary change. CN: So, what’s next? CS: The Church is not a political actor. It facilitates a role for civil society. It allows for a safe space for people of different points of view to come together. As confidence builds, I think that space is going to expand. I am very positive. Cuba is changing and on the verge of major, major change. The government wants 40% of the GDP to be in private hands. That alone is a huge change. Is it going to be easy? Of course not. These processes never are. But I can assure you that confrontation is the wrong thing to do. q Doreen Hemlock, former Havana bureau chief and now business writer at the South Florida SunSentinel, is a regular contributor to CubaNews.


‘Dialogue’ in Washington CS: Personally, it was my way of redeeming myself for what I’d done in 1998, because my actions had prevented not just me — but others — from seeing the pope then. I don’t know one person in our group who reacted negatively. Everybody felt elated to be there at a very important juncture. To me, the best summary of the visit came from a taxi driver in Havana who said, “I’m not even Catholic, but this man came to bring us hope.” CN: In your speech in Cuba, you talked about historical exiles and hysterical ones. CS: That brought me grief, because I used the language that I am critical of. Even though my description of hystericals is accurate, I offended them. I wish I hadn’t used that word. They’re as Cuban as I am and just as entitled

universities and technical centers to foster innovation. Now, more than 15% of Brazilians work for small businesses. It used to be these things would fall on deaf ears in Cuba. Now, some ears are not deaf. CN: So, the impact of the pope’s visit was...? CS: To bring hope and emphasize how important it is for Cuba to change in a peaceful and conciliatory way. Like a Cuban bishop told me once, “You guys in Miami may not see the possibility of a future worse than the present. But we can.” They’ve been there. The possibility of worse brings many people in the Church to favor a more gradual process of change. The Cuban people you talk to are revolution-ed out. They have gone

The Cuban Interests Section invited 150 “friendly” Cuban exiles to Washington last month for an invitation-only gathering whose guest list was not made public. The “First National Meeting of Cubans in the United States, for Unity and the Change in Policy Toward Cuba,” was attended by Cubans who either support the Castro regime or have business interests there. Carlos Saladrigas, a past critic of the Castro regime (see story), was not invited. “It is time to end so much evil and say enough,” said the invitation. “The people of Cuba and the United States are destined to live as good neighbors, based on the principle of respect for the sovereignty and independence of each country.”

Silence stuns owner of Miami travel firm targeted in blaze


he suspicious fire that destroyed her Airline Brokers Co. office Apr. 27 was horrifying enough. But what’s really rocked Vivian Mannerud, owner of the veteran travel services company to Cuba, has been the reluctance of Miami politicians to denounce what she calls a “terrorist act on U.S. soil.” A law enforcement official investigating the pre-dawn blaze told El Nuevo Herald the fire was “deliberate.” Reporters saw dogs trained to sniff out accelerants for fire sitting in two spots, indicating presence of a substance. And an FBI agent in counter-terrorism was observed at the scene. Neither the FBI nor other agencies have yet to formally release information on the pending case. Mannerud, who worked with the Archdiocese of Miami to take more than 300 people to Cuba for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in late March, said she’s certain that the blaze was no accident. Flames were so intense that steel beams nearly melted and the Coral Gables office building was condemned, forcing other businesses out. Still, not a single South Florida politician has condemned what looks like a politically motivated crime — similar to attacks against Cuba travel services in Miami and Puerto Rico in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

“Are they too afraid of the [hardliners in the Cuban-American] community? Are they here to represent all of us? Are they not sworn in to defend the Constitution of the United States? Are they happy this happened?” Mannerud asked in an open letter sent to CubaNews. Airline Brokers now operates five charter flights a week to Havana and two a week to Cienfuegos from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports. The flights are running as usual, despite the fire. Passenger documents also were protected in a fireproof safe at the office. Mannerud said she’s confident that in today’s post-9/11 world, the perpetrators behind the fire will be caught. She addressed them directly in her letter: “In the mean time, I forgive you and will pray ... [you] understand what it means to be a real American… in a democracy: That it is OK to disagree, but it is not OK to harm people because they disagree.” Shaken but emboldened, Mannerud wrote she will keep defending her customers’ “God-given and constitutional right to travel” to Cuba to see their families and share with the Cuban people. She also asked everyone to join her in prayer for “this community, that somehow we can defeat the hatred.” – DOREEN HEMLOCK


CubaNews v May 2012


Diversification eases pressure on Cuba’s aging power grid BY ARMANDO H. PORTELA


fter years of struggling with its interlocking mesh of aging power plants and transmission grid, Cuba is finally enjoying a respite. The government’s success at diversifying the island’s energy sources has taken some pressure off its old oil-fired thermoelectric plants. Problems such as blackouts still abound, though the dreaded apagones certainly aren’t as frequent as before. In 1994, Cubans endured 344 days with nationwide blackouts, often lasting for 20 hours a day. But over the last five years, power generation has grown 1.1% a year, rising from 16,468.4 gigawatts per hour in 2006 to 17,395.5 GWh in 2010. Investments have also been made to replace critical high-voltage transmission lines, mainly in areas where power lines were brought down by hurricanes. Along with the nickel industry, electricity is in fact one of the few industrial sectors of Cuba’s economy experiencing output levels above those of the late 1980s — the peak of Soviet patronage of the island. FACTORIES, FARMS USING LESS ELECTRICITY

Unfortunately, Cuba’s growing power generation hasn’t led to a corresponding jump in manufacturing and farming, leading to questions when comparing figures for power generation to those for Cuban industrial and agricultural output. It’s ironic that manufacturing now represents only 13.1% of Cuba’s GDP, down from 36.1% in the period immediately preceding the collapse of the Soviet bloc (see CubaNews, April 2012, page 7). Over the past two decades, manufacturing has dwindled, and today, Cuban factories use 4,580 GWh, or 26.4% of the 17,380 GWh generated annually over the last five years. That

compares to 7,170 GWh/year, or a 60% share used by industry in the mid to late 1980s, when the island generated 13,750 GW/h a year on average. Farm output has also dropped dramatically over the past few decades. Not only is it a fraction of what it was in the late 1980s, but it’s also more primitive. For example, many high-tech milking facilities that consume electricity were shut down as unsustainable. The sugar industry’s capac-

ity and output is 20% of what it was two decades ago. Rice milling has dropped significantly while low-tech growing gains momentum, and the citrus industry is no longer a major player in Cuba’s economy (for a complete series of reports on Cuba’s agriculture, please see CubaNews issues from December 2010 to June 2011). Over the past five years, agriculture consumed 296 GW/h of electricity annually, or 1.7% of all electricity generated in Cuba. That compares with the 256 GW/h of electricity annually in the 1980s, which at that time represented 2.1% of total power generation. Other sectors have followed a similar path. Construction today consumes 79.6 GWh a year, compared to more than 150 GWh in past years, while commerce is down from 306 GWh now vs. 335 GWh two decades earlier. RESIDENTIAL POWER USAGE UP SHARPLY

On the other hand, residential power use has more than doubled since the late 1980s, reaching 6,173 GWh per year on average from 2006 to 2010. That represents 35.5% of all electricity generated annually — a dramatic jump from the 21% residential use represented in the mid to late 1980s. Since late 2005, more than 1,400 grupos electrógenos or small diesel and fuel-oil generator units have been installed and synchronized all over the island to offset the power deficit at hours of peak demand (from 6 to 9 pm), when the residential sector requires more energy for everyday use. These generators add more than 4,000 GWh to daily consumption at a time when the residential sector needs more power. Many of the villages (known as bateyes) at nearly 100 sugar mills that were dismantled or halted after 2002 used those mills’ bagasseSee Electricity, page 12

May 2012 v CubaNews



Cuba’s National Electric System and its 6 top power plants


CubaNews v May 2012

Electricity — FROM PAGE 10


generated electricity during harvest times. With the mills permanently or temporarily shut down, the government has had no choice but to supply the villages with electric power from the national power transmission grid — either by installing small generators or upgrading the grid to reach those villages. Furthermore, during the past five years, Cuban authorities have been busy replacing old, inefficient residential appliances with modern equipment. For example, thousands of Cuban citizens have received vouchers to substitute an unspecified number of Soviet-made and vintage American refrigerators with modern Chinese or Korean fridges. Likewise, untold numbers of electric ricecookers and stoves were sold as replacements for inefficient homemade equipment and primitive kerosene cookers.

Top: Havana billboard: ‘Cuba must save electricity.’ Bottom: High-transmission line, rural Pinar del Río.


Cuba’s national electric system with all its generating facilities is unified by an allembracing power transmission grid that runs along the entire length of Cuba — close to the general axis as its energy backbone, sending branches to reach industrial hubs, settlements and ports off the main line. According to engineer Manuel Cereijo’s report “Cuba’s Power Sector Infrastructure Assessment (2010),” Cuba’s transmission grid covers 48,628 miles and includes 1,761 miles of 220 kV power transmission lines and 2,603 miles of 110 kV lines. The system also includes 5,780 miles of sub-transmission lines at 33 kV, completed by 17,018 miles of secondary distribution at 13.8 kV, as well as 21,467 miles of primary distribution at 4.16 kV. Overall density of the national integrated grid, including all power lines from 220 kV to the 4.16 kV primary distribution lines, comes to 1.14 miles of power lines per square mile of territory (or 0.71 km of line per sq km). Maintaining such a dense transmission power grid, however, seems beyond Cuba’s ability. Failures have been common — especially from 2000 to 2008 when unusually active hurricane seasons left hundreds of towers down, and entire provinces without electricity for weeks on end. In addition, theft of metal parts and wires is frequent, causing major service disruptions. With the exception of Energas — a Canadian-Cuban joint venture — and the conversion to natural gas of some units in Cienfuegos and Matanzas carried out with Venezuelan help, Cuba’s national electric system has generally remained beyond the reach of foreign investment. Sadly, without that kind of badly needed foreign investment, it seems unlikely the system will ever deliver to its full potential. q Havana-born Armando Portela has contributed to CubaNews since the newsletter’s birth in 1993. Portela, who has a Ph.D. in geography from the Soviet Academy of Sciences, lives in Miami, Fla.


May 2012 v CubaNews

Statoil Hydro (Norway), as well as Repsol. For now, it seems Repsol has the most to be worried about, since it’s currently conducting oil exploration activities off Cuban waters. The huge Scarabeo 9 drilling rig, located 30 miles northwest of Havana and owned by Saipem (a unit of Italian oil giant Eni), is being leased by Repsol to conduct drilling operations at a reported cost of $500,000 a day. Drilling activities there began in late January 2012, and are scheduled to be completed by mid-May 2012. The rig will later be used by both Petronas and Gazprom.

political risk will drive the decision by companies to enter or not.” Given Cuba’s disregard of its exploration partner Repsol’s financial well-being in Argentina, some would argue that there’s no preventing Cuba from subjecting the Spanish firm to the same kind of treatment within its borders when Raúl Castro finds it convenient. LARRY LUXNER

Repsol — FROM PAGE 1


Larry B. Pascal, a partner with Dallas law firm Haynes & Boone LLP and an expert on Latin America’s energy sectors, agrees that foreign firms drilling for oil in Cuban waters may someday become the target of an expropriation action by the Castro regime. “Cuba’s support for the YPF expropriation does symbolize the caliber of the investment environment that Cuba represents at this time and the inherent risks,” says Pascal, who writes on the oil sector for Thomson Reuters’ Latin American Law & Business Report. However, he sees more pressing concerns about doing business with Cuba. “I think the need for greater economic liberalization, market reform and legal certainty will continue to be the driving concerns for international firms [outside the U.S.] rather than the recent expression of solidarity on the YPF expropriation issue,” he said. Pascal notes that if Cuba were to ever engage in an expropriation action against its oil exploration partners, it wouldn’t get very far. “The diplomatic clout of a particular country (i.e. China) could possibly impact the treatment of an exploration company under certain circumstances, but there are limits. First, if the exploration company is a NOC itself, that might impact its treatment (although it did not when Bolivia expropriated certain oil and gas interests of Petrobras).” OIL POTENTIAL OUTWEIGHS POLITICAL RISK

Robert Perkins, senior correspondent for London-based Platts Oil News, covers Repsol’s activities in Argentina. He says exploring for oil in Cuba can take years to bear fruit. “Things may or may not change from the point of view of the Cuban government,” he told CubaNews. “At the very least, [foreign oil firms] should tread more carefully with Cuba if they find something. They should make sure all intentions are on the table. Arbitration can take years. They [foreign oil firms] are now going there with their eyes wide open.” Added Bob Fryklund, VP/Latin America for IHS Cera, a petroleum market research firm: “Entry into Cuba is based on its combination of country risk and hydrocarbon potential. In Cuba’s case, the country risk is fairly well-known. The big question is will the deepwater provide significant rewards. We should know shortly, as the Repsol well is nearing its targets. Thus, the potential more than the

YPF oil tanker on the road in Sante Fe, Argentina.

Pascal doubts that the European Union would threaten Cuba with economic sanctions if this were to occur. “I don’t think the threat of EU tourism restrictions, for example, would be credible,” he told CubaNews. “The EU has criticized U.S. actions in this same area, and I don’t think they would be willing to expose themselves to the same criticism.” Others who have followed Cuba’s oil explo-

ration activities dismiss any potential problems for its petroleum partners. The Cubans must “play it straight with their trading partners — they don’t have a lot of latitude to do anything out of the ordinary,” said political science professor Jonathan Benjamin Alvarado at the University of Nebraska. “This is solidarity rhetoric that the Cubans like to throw around. Cuba does not have sufficient investment capital to do what Argentina did,” said Alvarado, who has visited Cuba numerous times, follows Cuba’s energy sector and advocates lifting the embargo. Similar sentiments are expressed by Elisabeth Eljuri, who heads the oil and gas practice group at the Caracas branch of international corporate law firm Norton Rose LLP. “As much as I dislike the decision in Argentina and the support from Cuba for something that is a flagrant violation of international obligations of Argentina, I would not draw the conclusion that Cuba’s support means that they will also proceed to confiscate assets in Cuba now,” she told CubaNews. “Many countries in the past have supported actions from expropriatory regimes, but that does not necessarily mean they will be as naïve as to then adopt similar measures in their own countries. Those are more ‘political statements’ by Cuba in my view,” she added. “Of course, I could be wrong.” q Vito Echevarria, a New York-based freelance journalist, writes regularly for CubaNews about business, e-commerce, the arts and entertainment.

PetroVietnam: ‘Huge potential’ in Cuba


etroVietnam estimates its leases offshore of Cuba contain 3 billion to 5 billion barrels of oil, based on seismic survey analysis, and expects to decide next year on a drilling program, a company executive told Reuters on May 4. “These are very promising blocks. That is huge potential,” Nguyen Quoc Thap, VP of PetroVietnam for overseas development, said at a Petroleum Club luncheon in Houston promoting U.S.-Vietnam energy trade. In a related development, Spain’s Repsol YPF SA is drilling the first well offshore of Cuba, 60 miles from Key West, Fla. That well should be completed later this month. “We are waiting for the first results from Repsol and also some further drilling from Petronas and PDVSA,” Thap said. Malaysia’s Petronas and Venezuela’s PDVSA hold leases neighboring PetroVietnam’s four adjoining blocks and also are likely to drill exploratory wells before PetroVietnam, he said. “We put the Cuba project in the midterm, not the near term,” said Thap. “We’ve already done our first exploration [off Cuba] by doing seismic. Furthermore, we need to do an exploratory well. The time to drill that well is still to be determined, is under consideration by our technical people.”

Among issues to be considered are how to conduct the drilling operation, whether the potential profit justifies the investment and whether technology is available to support further development after the first well is drilled, he said. The PetroVietnam blocks are in waters more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) deep. The potential producing zones showing up in analysis of seismic surveys are 4,000 to 5,000 meters under the seabed, Thap said. The U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba makes the project more difficult. “We cannot import complex equipment, complex facilities from the U.S.,” he said, suggesting oil companies in Brazil, Norway or PDVSA as alternative possibilities. There have been no talks with potential partners yet, he said. There also has been no discussion of which rig to hire to do the drilling, although the rig Repsol is using “is a possibility,” he said. As for working with Cuba, Thap said, “So far, so good. We have very strong support from Cubapetróleo and the government.” PetroVietnam acquired its leases offshore of Cuba in 2008. A seismic contractor completing of the blocks in 2009 and 2010. The company since has completed an analysis of the seismic data, Thap said.


CubaNews v May 2012



Cuba misses boat on high sugar prices BY ARMANDO H. PORTELA


uba’s depressed sugar sector is missing the sharpest spike in world sugar prices in history. Over the past 36 months, raw sugar prices averaged $506.30 per ton, peaking in January 2011 at almost $700/ton — an unprecedented rally that’s cost Cuba billions in lost exports. During the same time, Cuba’s industry output has barely topped 1 million tons per harvest, down from 8 million tons per year before 1991 and well below the modest, though unfulfilled, goal to produce 4 million tons a year after the industry was downsized in 2002. Back then, when Cuba dismantled or mothballed 100 sugar mills and abandoned 60% of sugarcane lands, world sugar prices hovered around $150/ton — well below production costs for many of Cuba’s mills. These low prices were certainly no incentive to save the industry and attract investors. A few years later, however, an undersupplied world market and rising demand for ethanol boosted prices even though Cuba — its mills and even its railways looted — was by then no longer an international player. An annual harvest of four million tons could have yielded $1.3 billion in raw sugar export revenue in 2009, after subtracting 700,000 tons for the domestic market. Another $1.5 billion could have been earned in 2010 and $1.9 billion in 2011. That would be similar to the export value of all nickel produced in those years. Instead, Cuba has been forced to import sugar in recent years just to cover its domestic needs. It seems impossible for Cuba to rescue its sugar industry and take advantage of today’s strong prices. Fortunately, the World Bank

foresees sugar prices remaining above $400/ton at least until 2014 — a good reason for Cuba to quickly attract some foreign capital and rebuild a sector that was the economic backbone of the island for centuries. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Apr. 17 that Cuba’s sugar harvest fell further behind schedule in April, but the country met its export contracts. “The harvest is behind schedule by more than 20 days up to now,” said Liobel Perez, head of analysis and control at AZCUBA, the state-run holding company which replaced the Sugar Ministry last year. A month earlier, local media reported that the harvest was 13 days, or 106,000 tons, behind schedule. Pérez gave no reason for the shortfall, but said there was enough cane to meet this year’s plan, estimated by Reuters at 1.45 million tons of raw sugar, and that to date export contracts had been met. He added that 44 of the 46 mills grinding this year remained open. AZCUBA said when the harvest began in January that it would end by May when hot and humid weather makes harvesting more costly and difficult and cane yields drop. However, to date just one of 13 sugar-producing provinces has met their target, and the majority will have to continue grinding next month, weather permitting. Reuters estimates output to date at 1 million tons, with six provinces reporting they have surpassed the 100,000-ton mark. The harvest has suffered from mill and harvesting equipment breakdowns, poor management and unusually wet weather in eastern Cuba, according to media reports. Mills are operating at less than 70% capacity, compared to the planned 80%, said Reuters. q

ANOTHER FOREIGN INVESTOR LANDS IN PRISON A British architect whose resort project was profiled by CubaNews less than a year ago has been arrested in an ongoing corruption investigation, according to news reports. Stephen Purvis was the 50-year-old chief operating officer for Coral Capital Group Ltd., a British investment fund that backed the Bellomonte golf resort and partnered in a $43 million development project in the port of Mariel, west of Havana. Rhys Patrick, spokesman for the British Embassy in Havana, confirmed Apr. 26 that “there’s a British citizen arrested and under investigation,” according to the Miami Herald, quoting other news sources. Cuba’s investigation of Coral Capital was the latest in a long string of official corruption scandals that have become Coral COO Stephen Purvis known since ruler Raúl Castro replaced brother Fidel in 2006. These probes 1have hit the aviation, telecommunications, nickel, juice and cigar industries and have led to the arrests or dismissals of scores of government officials (see article on page 6 of this issue). Although Coral Capital’s managing partner, Amado Fakhre — also a British citizen, was arrested in October — the Cuban government has made no public comment on the case or most of the other corruption scandals. Coral Capital, registered in the British Virgin Islands, was founded in 1999 to invest in Cuba projects such as the Hotel Saratoga in Havana and the golf resort. It also owned a trading company that sold heavy equipment to the government and financed other import deals. Last July, Purvis told CubaNews that the Bellomonte Golf & Country Club — a 50-50 venture between Coral and Cuba’s Grupo Palmares SA — involves total investment of around $500 million, including $120 million in the first phase alone. When completed, Bellomonte is to encompass 1,100 villas and apartments, an 18-hole championship golf course with a clubhouse, a 160-room beachfront hotel, a country club and spa, and 30,000 sq meters of commercial space. At the time, Purvis told us that in his spare time, he produced the Cuban dance show “Havana Rakatan.” He was also vice-chairman of the International School of Havana. “We’re not virgins at this. We’ve negotiated joint ventures before,” he told us back then, noting that the prevailing expectation in Cuba is for resort developers to see returns on their investment in five to 10 years. “Whether or not reality works like that is another matter,” he said. “But we’re going to work hard on this to make it as profitable as we can. Time is always the enemy in Cuba.”


May 2012 v CubaNews


HFFNY honors Cuban cinema; Tribeca fest sparks defections


ust as the Tribeca Film Festival began Apr. 18 in New York, a separate event for Cuban cinema was already underway in the Big Apple. The 11-day Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) was organized by the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation as a global outlet for Cuban-made films. However, the HFFNY was soon overshadowed by Tribeca’s screening of “Una Noche,” a drama by British director Lucy Mulloy. The movie chronicled the lives of three young Cubans who take to the high seas on a rickety raft and defect to Miami. Funny enough, during the film’s Apr. 19 U.S. premiere, two of the film’s three teen stars invited to the Tribeca screening, Javier Nuñez Florian and Analin de la Rua de la Torre, flew from Havana to Miami but failed to catch their connecting flight to New York. They later resurfaced to confirm they’ll be applying for political asylum. The only difference between the film and the actors’ real-life defection drama was that they arrived in Miami by air, not by sea. Ironically, the film won awards at Tribeca for best cinematography and new director honors in the narrative category. Co-stars Nuñez Florian and Dariel Arrechada (who chose to return to Cuba) shared the best actor award. But co-star and co-defector de la Rua de la Torre won the better prize: U.S. residency. “It’s hard to leave your family and friends behind, but at the same time you do it so you can help them,” she told Reuters. “There’s no future in Cuba.” No such drama occurred at HFFNY, where Cuban artists, actors and filmmakers won international recognition for their work. The event began with the screening of “Habana-

station” — a fictional account of Mayito, a Havana student from a privileged family, taking the wrong bus back home after May Day festivities and ending up lost in his classmate Carlos’ rough barrio, La Timba. The movie used a rare symbol of U.S. consumerism in Cuba, a Playstation video game unit, as a clever device to bring together the two young men as they confronted elements of that menacing district. VITO ECHEVARRÍA


TV Martí interviews filmmaker Alejandro Brugues.

“It’s not every day that movies are made about children in Cuba,” said filmmaker Ian Padrón, who confessed during a subsequent Q&A that the film was based on his childhood experiences. (It was easy for Padrón to identify with Mayito, since his own father, Juan Padrón was a renowned animation director at the elite Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry). Other noteworthy films screened at HFFNY include the internationally acclaimed Cuban horror flick “Juan de los Muertos” (see CubaNews, January 2012, page 15). Another was “Sencillamente Korda,” a 20-minute docu-

mentary about Alberto Korda, best-known for his iconic photographs of Che Guevara. For Cuban music lovers, there was also “Caminando Aragón,” a documentary on the 72-year-old Orquestra Aragón and its tour of Havana, Cienfuegos and New York in 2011, and “Los 100 Sones de Cuba,” which profiled the history of Cuban son music. Those wanting a glimpse of historic Cuba enjoyed “Cecilia,” a love triangle movie set in the 18th century, and “Amada,” a romance between two cousins in 1914 Havana. At least one film covered the early days of the Cuban revolution: the 2011 documentary “Maestra” (The Teacher). In it, U.S. filmmaker Catherine Murphy chronicles the Cuban literacy campaign of 1961, which involved more than 250,000 volunteers and boosted the island’s literacy rate to 96% within a year. Similarly, the 2011 Spanish-Cuban documentary “The Saharan Teacher” profiles the lives of desert-dwelling students in the selfstyled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic — also known as the Spanish Sahara. At the very minimum, this film showed how the Cuban government’s “soft diplomacy” policy of providing free education and political credibility to this African territory had a huge influence in the lives of its people. During HFFNY’s closing session, “Juan de los Muertos” filmmaker Alejandro Brugues said his government takes Cuba’s emerging film industry seriously — even when it comes to a Hollywood-friendly production like his. Asked how he was able to turn Havana into an outdoor production set for that movie, Brugues said: “I asked the government to clear the streets [of the Malecón and La Rampa] so we could make a zombie film, and they said, ‘OK, no problem.’” q

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs law targeting Cuba and Syria


lorida Gov. Rick Scott said May 3 that he’ll enforce a new law blocking governments in the state from hiring companies that do business in Cuba or Syria, reports Newsmax — contradicting his earlier letter saying the measure wouldn’t take effect. “I’m going to enforce the law in Florida,” Scott said during an interview in Tallahassee. “But the odds are it will end up in litigation.” Scott had said in a May 1 letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner the law “will not go into effect” without a federal law that lets states impose sanctions against Cuba and Syria. The letter said the measure — pushed by Cuban-American exiles in Miami-Dade County — may conflict with federal law. Asked during the interview about why his position shifted, Scott said the U.S. government should treat Syria and Cuba the way it treats Iran. The law, which Scott signed May 1 and takes effect July 1, applies to contracts of $1 million or more. Scott said the ban is aimed at “undeniably repressive” governments in the two countries. The measure may punish one of Brazil’s largest builders, Odebrecht SA, which is bidding on a proposed $700 million hotel and retail complex at Miami International Airport and is renovating

Cuba’s Port of Mariel. An employee at Odebrecht’s press office had no immediate comment. Scott’s initial statement that he wouldn’t enforce the law sparked complaints from Rep. David Rivera and other Republicans. The Miami bureau chief of Time magazine calls the law “farcical.” “The Miami muddle is yet another embarrassment for Florida government,” wrote Tim Padgett. “Just about every business group on the peninsula warns that the new law, sure to be challenged in court, will alienate investment in a state with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates — and especially for America’s wornout, Cold War Cuba policy. So why, Padgett asks, doesn’t the new law target China too? “The reason, of course, is that China is Florida’s largest non-Latin American trading partner. That simply points up the more cynical U.S. rationale for isolating Cuba and not China: in the case of the former, we can, and in that of the latter, we can’t.” Padgett concludes: “So as long as the hardline Cuban exile lobby re-mains as powerful as it is ... even the Obama administration will cling to the embargo in all its obsolescence. And, as this week reminds us, all its absurdity.” q


CALENDAR OF EVENTS If your organization is sponsoring an upcoming event, please let our readers know! Fax details to CubaNews at (3 0 1 ) 9 4 9 -0 0 6 5 or send e-mail to May 1 -3 1 : “Work Sites,” University of Maryland. Cuban-American artist Lesser González Alvarez exhibits his highly stylized sculptures and digital images that pull from images of halted building projects and abandoned interiors; other featured artists are Andrew Laumann and Jack Henry. Details: Jackie Milad, Program Coordinator, University of Maryland, 1220 Stamp Student Union, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: (301) 314-8493. Email: May 8 : 42nd Annual Washington Conference on the Americas, Loy Henderson Conference Room, U.S. State Department, Washington. Confirmed speakers: Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs; U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk; Fred Hochberg, chairman of U.S. Export-Import Bank; Speaker of the House John Boehner; Janet Napolitano, secretary, Department of Homeland Security; Argentine VP Amado Boudou and Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno Charme. Details: Valeria Cruz, Council of the Americas, 1615 L Street NW, #250, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: (202) 659-8989. Email: May 1 7 -Jun. 1 9 : “Cuba’s Past, Present and Future.” Executive certificate course in Cuban studies, University of Miami. Sessions are 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Professors include well-known Cuba scholars José Azel, Andy Gómez, Brian Latell, Vanessa López, Pedro Roig and Jaime Suchlicki, among others. Cost: $495 (including course materials). Details: Vanessa López, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, Casa Bacardi, 1531 Brescia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33146-2439. Tel: (305) 284-5386. Email: May 1 8 : “Balancing Preservation and Transformation in Cuba: A Conversation With Eusebio Leal,” Brookings Institution, Washington. Moderator: Ted Piccone, deputy director of foreign policy. Featured speaker: Eusebio Leal, chief historian of Havana who’s led efforts to remake the city into a prime destination for travelers worldwide while preserving Havana’s cultural, urban and architectural heritage. Commentators: Senior fellows Richard Feinberg and Robert Puentes. No charge. Details: Ted Piccone, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008. Tel: (202) 797-6015. Fax: (202) 797-6003. Email:

CubaNews v May 2012

CARIBBEAN UPDATE You already know what’s going in Cuba, thanks to CubaNews. Now find out what’s happening in the rest of this diverse and fast-growing region. Subscribe to Caribbean UPDATE, a monthly newsletter founded in 1985. Corporate and government executives, as well as scholars and journalists, depend on this publication for its insightful, timely coverage of the 30-plus nations and territories of the Caribbean and Central America. When you receive your first issue, you have two options: (a) pay the accompanying invoice and your subscription will be processed; (b) if you’re not satisfied, just write “cancel” on the invoice and return it. There is no further obligation on your part. The cost of a subscription to Caribbean UPDATE is $277 per year. A special rate of $139 is available to academics, non-profit organizations and additional subscriptions mailed to the same address. To order, contact Caribbean UPDATE at 116 Myrtle Ave., Millburn, NJ 07041, call us at (973) 376-2314, visit our new website at or send an email to We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

Aug. 4 -6 : “Where is Cuba Going?” 22nd Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel. Speakers at this key event include Jorge Domínguez (Harvard); Richard Feinberg (University of California-San Diego) and Eusebio Mujal-León (Georgetown). “We are also working towards bringing Cuba-based economists and scholars to the conference.” Registration before July 15: $75 for members, $175 for nonmembers. Details: ASCE, PO Box 28267, Washington, DC 20038-8267. Email: Sep. 1 6 -2 3 : “Health, Climate Change and the Environment.” Travel to Cuba with experts in a health-related educational exchange. With its people-to-people license, Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba tailors its programs to participants’ interests, using 15 years of experience to offer a unique, exciting insider’s view of health-related issues in Cuba. Cost: $2,400$2,900, single occupancy. Details: Elena Huezo, Program Mgr., MEDICC, 1814 Franklin St. #500, Oakland, CA 94612. Tel: (510) 350-3054. Fax: (510) 350-5057. Email:


Washington correspondent n ANA RADELAT n




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May 2012 Issue  

cuba, economy, investment opportunities, politics

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