sábado, mayo 30, 2015

How will financial ties with Cuba change now that it's off the terrorism list?

PBS NewsHour 
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Policia Suarez Pagan golpea nuevamente al activista DDHH Roilan Alvarez


Rubio Comments On Obama’s Latest Concession To Castro Regime

Rubio Comments On Obama Administration’s Latest Concession To Castro Regime 

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, issued the following video statement (click here to watch) regarding the Obama Administration’s latest concession to the Castro regime by de-listing Cuba from the United States’ State Sponsors of Terrorism List:

President Obama and his administration continue to give the Cuban regime concession after concession, in exchange for nothing that even remotely resembles progress towards freedom and democracy for the Cuban people, or assurances that the regime will discontinue working against America’s national security interests. I simply don’t understand how the President can, in good conscience, continue these giveaways to the Castro regime and how he can be thinking of sending an ambassador to Cuba when there are still many unanswered questions and security gaps that will affect their safety and their ability to do the job that our ambassadors all over the world are being asked to do.”

Jeb: Iran's Leaders Are Taking Note of Obama's Cuba Concessions

Governor Bush's Statement on the Removal of Cuba From U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism List

Right to Rise PAC Honorary Chairman Governor Jeb Bush issued the following statement today in response to Secretary of State John Kerry signing an order removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism:

Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba’s destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana. Today’s news is further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them. Iran’s leaders are surely taking note.

The removal of Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and the unilateral concessions to Havana, before it changes its authoritarian ways and stops denying the Cuban people their basic human rights, is a mistake. I call on Congress to keep pressure on Cuba and hold the Administration accountable.

Speaker Boehner: Congress Will Ensure Cuba Sanctions Remain

Speaker Boehner: The White House Has Handed the Castro Regime a Significant Political Win in Return for Nothing

Washington, D.C. – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror:

The Obama administration has handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing. The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights abuses at home. Nor has it offered any indication it will cease its support for violence throughout the region, including the brutal attacks on Cuban democracy protestors in Panama City during the Summit for the Americas earlier this year.  

As I’ve said before, relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner. Removing the regime from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is just the latest example of this administration focusing more on befriending our enemies than helping our allies, but fortunately it will have little practical effect. Most U.S. sanctions on the Cuban regime are contained in other laws – laws the U.S. House will ensure remain in place as we work to protect those fighting for freedom, and in many cases, simply their own survival.

On Cuba's Removal From the State-Sponsors of Terrorism List

During a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, acknowledged that Cuba's claim it has "never" supported terrorism was untrue.

Yet, in its "Rescission Memo to Congress" on Cuba's removal from the state-sponsors of terrorism list, the Obama Administration accepted the Castro regime's "assurances" that it will not support terrorism in the future -- a legal requirement for de-listing -- in the same breath as it's claim that it has "never" supported terrorism.

As such, the Obama Administration has accepted a lie, in order to further another lie.

The Obama Administration also certified that Cuba has not supported terrorism "in the last six months" -- the other legal requirement for de-listing.  Meanwhile, a scandal is brewing in Colombia over a ship that was intercepted on February 28, 2015 -- just three months ago -- with over 100 tons of heavy weapons being smuggled by a shadow company of the Cuban military ("Tecnoimport"), seemingly for FARC terrorists.

Cuba's removal from the terrorism list, while questions linger about this illegal weapons shipment is highly irresponsible.

It is evidently clear that the Obama Administration's removal from the terrorism list has little do with the facts, but was instead compelled to meet a key demand of the Castro regime for the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The hasty removal of Libya (2006) and North Korea (2008) from the terrorism list has proven -- time and again -- that such concessions do not dissuade rogue regimes to change their behavior. To the contrary.

Thus, Congress must keep the important U.S. leverage the Obama Administration seeks to give-away without merit. It must maintain -- and strengthen -- the underlying sanctions associated with the terrorism legislation, which remain codified in law.

Who Needs Edward Snowden?

With Congress now poised to renew, not renew, or revise the N.S.A.’s bulk metadata program, it’s worth thinking about where we would be now if a twenty-nine-year-old contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton hadn’t left Hawaii for Hong Kong, and a new life as an outlaw ombudsman.
Were it not for Edward Snowden or someone like him, the N.S.A. would likely still be collecting the records of almost every phone call made in the United States, and no one outside of government would know it. A handful of civil-liberties-minded representatives and senators might drop hints in hearings and ask more pointed questions in classified settings. Members of the public would continue making phone calls, unaware that they were contributing to a massive government database that was supposedly intended to make their lives safer but had not prevented a single terrorist attack. And, on Monday, the government’s Section 215 powers, used to acquire records from hundred of billions of phone calls, among other “tangible things,” would be quietly renewed.
Snowden shouldn’t have been necessary. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA Court), which evaluates Section 215 requests, is supposed to be interpreting the law to make sure that government surveillance doesn’t go outside of it. Congressional intelligence committees, which review the activities of the N.S.A., are supposed to be providing some oversight. The N.S.A. itself reports to the Department of Defense, which reports to the White House, all of which have dozens of lawyers, who are all supposed to apply the law. The government, in other words, is supposed to be watching itself, especially in matters of national security, which are, by necessity, shielded from daylight. The fact that it took thirteen years, and one whistle-blower, to expose a program that is conclusively ineffective and, according to one federal appeals court, illegal, points to a problem much larger than any one program. It suggests that claims about what is necessary to prevent the next terrorist attack are too sacrosanct to require evidence. As the debate over Section 215 has played out over the past two years, it has become clear that the punishments for exaggerating the efficacy of surveillance programs and downplaying their privacy implications are just about nonexistent.
The government enshrouds the details of its surveillance programs in a technical vocabulary (“reasonable articulable suspicion,” “seeds,” “queries,” “identifiers”) that renders them too dull and opaque for substantive discussion by civilians. As one Pentagon handbook put it, “one can be led astray by relying on the generic or commonly understood definition of a particular word.” There is a kind of legal subversion at work here. Broad and clearly worded laws, including the Fourth Amendment, are being undermined by a raft of quasi-legal documents, most of them too long, narrow, and boring to read—that is, if anyone were allowed to read them in full. Instead of being named for what they actually do, programs are named for the subsections of the laws that are supposed to authorize them, whether or not that authority is actually present in the language of the law. With all the attention being paid to Section 215, named for a part of the Patriot Act, which does not contain the words “bulk,” “phone,” or “metadata,” it’s easy to forget that the program is just one piece of the intelligence community’s legal armory. Little is known about how other authorities, including Executive Order 12333, which some consider the intelligence community’s most essential charter, are being interpreted to permit spying on Americans. And a redacted report, released last week by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, hints at how much we still don’t know about Section 215. Nearly two years into the congressional debate over the use and legality of Section 215, the report provides the first official confirmation that the “tangible things” obtained by the F.B.I. through Section 215 include not just phone metadata but “email transactional records” and two full lines of other uses, all of which the F.B.I. saw fit to redact.
Some have argued that the current surveillance regime isn’t as bad as the activities of Henry Kissinger, who ordered wiretaps on his rivals during the Vietnam era, or of J. Edgar Hoover, who used the F.B.I. to authorize the covert infiltration of left-wing groups and terrorized Martin Luther King, Jr., with anonymous threats. Those abuses led to the lengthy investigations of the Church Committee, and the current system of judicial and congressional oversight. It’s true that the modern surveillance regime is less about the passions of individuals and more about the tendencies of institutions. But those tendencies—especially the belief that national security can trump the plain English of the law—will likely make it hard for this generation to achieve meaningful surveillance reform. This week’s debate over Section 215 should be the beginning of a much larger conversation.

El perfil psicológico de Fidel Castro realizado por su guardaespaldas

Alejandro Tapia

Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, que falleció esta semana y que durante 17 años fue escolta del líder cubano, realizó en secreto un análisis sobre la personalidad de Castro que entregó a La Tercera antes de morir.

Juan Reinaldo Sánchez fue durante 17 años la “sombra” de Fidel Castro. En su función de guardaespaldas del “Comandante en Jefe”, Sánchez tomó nota de todas las actividades, públicas y privadas, del entonces líder cubano e incluso llegó al extremo de probar sus alimentos por temor a un envenenamiento. También compartió uno de los pasatiempos favoritos de Castro en su residencia de descanso en Cayo Piedra: el buceo.
Durante el escaso tiempo libre que le daban sus funciones, Sánchez -que falleció el lunes en Miami a los 66 años y que el año pasado publicó el libro “La vida oculta de Fidel Castro”- comenzó a indagar en el perfil psicológico del entonces líder cubano. 
Sin que nadie supiera, a partir de 1985 Sánchez elaboró un retrato completo de Castro, que hasta ahora se mantenía inédito. En diciembre del año pasado, Juan Reinaldo Sánchez entregó esta información a La Tercera en el marco de varios proyectos sobre los que trabajaba, dado el acceso privilegiado que tuvo a Fidel y a su círculo de hierro. Eso, hasta que se fugó de Cuba en 2008.
Este ex teniente coronel no sólo fue un especialista en seguridad, sino que también fue abogado y estudió psicología. “Al terminar mis estudios universitarios en 1985 y dado los conocimientos adquiridos en psicología operativa de la contrainteligencia y sin divulgar mis propósitos a nadie, me di la tarea de hacerle un análisis psicológico a Fidel Castro”, reveló Sánchez.
Para el guardaespaldas, el perfil que realizó la CIA sobre Castro en diciembre de 1961 y que se conoció en los 90, no era suficiente, por el escaso tiempo transcurrido luego del triunfo de la Revolución en 1959. Entonces se puso manos a la obra. “El tener la oportunidad de estar más de 17 años cerca del dirigente cubano, me permitió tener información real de la personalidad de Fidel, tanto de su vida pública como su intimidad”, contó Sánchez.
Lo primero que narra el guardaespaldas es que Castro es “efusivo y dominante”. Y agrega: “Mientras que públicamente es una persona locuaz, comunicativo, franco y sociable, en su intimidad se refleja como riguroso”. En ese sentido, revela una dualidad en el rasgo de la extroversión.
“Esta dualidad se refleja en el hecho de que necesita el reconocimiento público de sus acciones y de ahí que se muestre comunicativo, afable, comprensivo, etc. Pero en su intimidad, donde está el Fidel Castro real, es dominante, riguroso, controlador y necesitado de que todos sepan que es la máxima expresión del poder, que no está dispuesto a perder en ningún momento”.
Juan Reinaldo Sánchez plantea que incluso después de la enfermedad que en 2006 lo obligó a delegar el poder a su hermano Raúl, Fidel Castro “no lo hizo del todo. Obligó a Raúl a que propusiera a la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular que aprobara un acuerdo en donde Raúl se viera obligado a consultarle todo a él”.
El ex escolta desmenuzó también otros rasgos de la personalidad de Castro, que dividió en “sanguíneos” (activos, optimistas, comunicativos y sociables) y “colérico” (dominantes, violentos e impulsivos). Sánchez explica: “Mientras que en su vida pública ha tratado de aparentar una persona sanguínea, en su vida íntima tiene características de colérico con temperamento flemático”.
“Un ejemplo de lo anterior lo tenemos en una reunión en los años 80 en la Unidad de la Defensa Civil del Municipio Playa, donde se analizaron las medidas epidemiológicas en La Habana. Al doctor (Héctor) Terry, viceministro de Salud de aquella época, se le ocurrió manifestarle a Fidel que de acuerdo a un estudio realizado por él, se había detectado un déficit de vitaminas en la dieta alimentaria de la población. Fidel montó en cólera y lo trató de inepto. A los pocos días el Dr. Terry fue sustituido. Fidel mandó a realizar un estudio, que dio como resultado que el Dr. Terry tenía razón. Fidel terminó por orientar la distribución por la libreta de racionamiento un suplemento alimentario de polivitaminas, pero Terry jamás fue reingresado a su puesto ni tuvo excusas de Fidel Castro”, sostiene Sánchez.
El fallecido guardaespaldas de Fidel sostiene que los rasgos significativos de la personalidad del ex presidente cubano pueden definirse por “la dependencia, los gustos y las motivaciones”.
¿Vida de lujos?
En cuanto a la dependencia, “Fidel requiere de las adulaciones a sus discursos. Las medidas que toma le resultan tan reconfortantes que sube su ego de manera considerable. Y es capaz de recompensar a aquellos que lo adulan con nuevos cargos”, dice.
A su vez, “Castro, lejos de la imagen que proyecta, sus gustos están centrados en una vida de lujos y privilegios, como la pesca submarina, caza de patos y exquisitas comidas”. Sánchez concluye que Fidel posee una “personalidad híbrida”, pero con características como “egocentrismo, ambicioso, manipulador, controlador y dado a los placeres de la sociedad de consumo que tanto critica”. De todos modos, esto corresponde a la vida que supuestamente Castro llevaba en la época en que Sánchez era su escolta. Desde entonces, han transcurrido dos décadas.

Vin Diesel en Cuba

Vin Diesel, protagonista de la saga “Fast & Furious” se encuentra en Cuba, para filmar una película de bajo presupuesto, junto al director de cine de Hollywood, Robert Rodriguez, un verdadero especialista en la materia.

La Mora

La Mora
Leer la excelente resena de la trayectoria artistica de Moraima Secada, de la historiadora musical Rosa Marquetti Torres, en el blog de Tania Quintero >>

viernes, mayo 29, 2015

Shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez Leaves Cuba To Pursue MLB Deal

Shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez has departed Cuba with the intent of seeking MLB free agency, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 21-year-old took home Rookie of the Year honors in the top division Serie Nacional this year, though as Badler notes that was the subject of some disagreement.
As always, you’ll want to read Badler’s piece for a full breakdown, but the takeaway seems to be that Rodriguez is a whiz with the glove with good speed and a suspect bat. Badler labels the youngster as a polished shortstop whose hand and footwork are outstanding, accompanied by good range and a solid arm.
Offensively, though, it appears that Gonzalez has much development ahead of him. He did swipe 12 bags in 16 tries, so there’s a reasonable expectation that he will add value on the bases. But he slashed only .265/.301/.284 in his 304 plate appearances last year, striking out a reasonable 38 times but taking a free pass in only 11 turns at the dish.
Badler goes on to explain how Gonzalez fits within the evolving rules regarding players from Cuba. Teams will have to use their international spending allocation to sign him, though he will not be subject to the league’s registration policy — which can cause a delay, as Badler explained recently — due to his relatively advanced age for an international prospect. All said, Gonzalez should be able to sign as part of this coming summer’s July 2 period, though he will first have to go through the process of establishing residency in a third country.

El fusilamiento de Antonio Chao Flores/ Juan Abreu

Juan Abreu - 2091
Mi hermano me manda una foto de Antonio Chao Flores, para mi serie 1959. Es un muchacho rubio como ven que aún no tiene veinte años y que nos mira con una sonrisa algo triste me parece y los ojos verdes. Chao Flores combatió contra el ejército de Batista a favor de los llamados revolucionarios y hasta alcanzó la portada de las revistas al triunfo de los Castro por su juventud y por su carácter aguerrido.
Acusado de traición, por declararse anticomunista y alzarse en armas contra los fidelistas, fue fusilado en la fortaleza de La Cabaña. Pocos meses antes, herido en combate, le habían amputado una pierna. A la hora de llevarlo a matar, los milicianos le quitaron las muletas con las que se mantenía en pie y fue obligado a arrastrarse hasta el lugar de la ejecución, según testigos. Al llegar al muro, Chao Flores, con grandes esfuerzos, se puso en pie y enfrentó a los fusileros. Dicen que sereno.
El oficial al mando del pelotón de fusilamiento consideró necesario darle tres tiros de gracia.

Cubanos en el centro de estafas millonarias en Miami

Jorge Fausto Espinosa (izq.), identificado como cabecilla de la red, y Manuel López, encausados por estafar a seguros de viviendas.
Por Daniel Benítez
Dos recientes casos de estafas millonarias a seguros de casas y salud tuvieron entre sus protagonistas principales a varios cubanos residentes en el sur de la Florida, quienes encontraron la vía para llenarse los bolsillos de dólares y comprar autos, casas y obras de arte.
La Fiscalía de Miami, junto a varias agencias de la ley  revelaron al unísono esta semana dos complicados esquemas de fraude y anunciaron la detención de 36 personas en total, la mayoría nacidos en la isla.
Las estafas suman superan los $13 millones de dólares.
En el primero de los casos se trataba de una red dedicada a incendiar o inundar casas con el objetivo de cobrar el seguro correspondiente. Su máximo cabecilla fue identificado como Jorge Fausto Espinosa, de 60 años, quien era el dueño de una compañía encargada de tasar propiedades dañadas por diversos motivos para luego hace el reclamo a las aseguradoras.
Especialista en fuegos e inundaciones
Espinosa fue identificado como la pieza fundamental de esta cadena y era el enlace entre el propietario que efectúa un reclamo y las aseguradoras. Las autoridades también determinaron que el acusado trabajaba con varios reclutadores y personas encargadas de buscar interesados en quemar sus casas o inundarlas con el objetivo de hacer reclamos falsos.
Un vez identificados los “clientes potenciales” en esta red de crimen organizado, Espinosa visitaba las casas, las inspeccionaba y leía sus pólizas para determinar lo que resultaba más factible: si un incendio o una inundación. Tras este paso se concretaban los detalles y cumplía lo acordado con la ayuda de una o más personas.
La supuesta “víctima” contrataba entonces sus servicios y la compañía Nationwide Adjusters. proppiedad de Espinosa, se encargaba de realizar el reclamo. En caso de que la aseguradora disputara en corte o comenzara a hacer preguntas Espinosa contaba con la ayuda de uno o dos abogados del bufete Montesano&Perez, PL, quienes estaban enterados de todo el esquema fraudulento, según las autoridades.
Las autoridades contaron con un informante clave para obtener gran parte de la información necesaria para proceder con la acusación ante los tribunales.
Viviendas afectadas
En un documento de 52 páginas, la fiscalía estatal explicó que entre el 7 de julio de 2007 y el 20 de marzo de 2013 en total se incendiaron 20 casas y se inundaron cinco en los condados de Miami Dade, Lee, Collier, entre otros. En uno de los fuegos provocados en la ciudad de Naples resultó herido un bombero.
Entre las viviendas supuestamente afectadas estuvo la del propio Espinosa, quien reclamó daños por inundación superiores a los reales. Recibió un pago en esa ocasión de $69,739 dólares.
Según la Fiscalía, las aseguradoras pagaron en total más de $7 millones de dólares. Espinosa le cobraba a sus “clientes” el 20 por ciento de lo que recibieran por parte del seguro.
Sin embargo, esta no era la primera vez que el acusado se encuentra en problemas con la ley, de hecho enfrenta cargos similares por un operativo realizado el año anterior, por lo cual se mantiene en arresto domiciliario.
Los otros acusados son: Erlis Chercoles, de 43 años; Seth Horton, de  26; Yaima Sanchez, de 27; Ileana Sanchez, de 47; Marianela Hernandez, de 33; Joel Macineiras, de 42; Argelio Menendez, de 56; Jose Menendez, de 50; Manuel Lopez, de 39; Roberto Leon, de 41; Jose Pinero, de 49; Francisco Pineiro Gonzalez, de 39; Raudel Garcia, de 49; Lourdes Sarmiento, de 50; Maray Lopez, de 41; Yaniel Alvarez, de 33; Guenther Beer, de 67; Barbara Diana Beer Rivero, de 50; Alba Lucia Vargas, de 37; Daniel Lopez Acevedo, de 34; Nelson Fernandez, de 39; Angel Lopez, de 41; Fausto Marimon, de 37; Yanelis Gil, de 31; Jorge Antonio Pous, de 43; Lisvan Say, de 38; Camilo Avila, de 46; Janet Alamo, de 31; Roberto Suarez Medina, de 47; y Servito Amado Morales, de 43.
De ser hallados culpables, los acusados podrían encarar penas de hasta 30 años de cárcel.
Robando medicinas
En la segunda estafa están implicados un doctor y cuatro personas que supuestamente orquestaron un lucrativo negocio de tráfico de medicamentos para agenciarse más de $6  millones de dólares.
Los arrestados en este caso fueron el ginecólogo Rafael Prats, de 61 años, Dax Osle, de 41; Jose Capote, de 38; y Yulia Martinez, de 31 y una quinta persona de la que no se ofreció su identidad, pero que pudiera ser el líder de todo el esquema.
Según la policía de Miami Dade, durante el operativo se decomisaron $3.5 millones de dólares en efectivo y más de un millón en obras de arte y autos, entre ellos un Rolls Royce.
El fraude radicaba en que estas personas le compraban a pecientes los medicamentos recetados y luego los revendían a las farmacias. El problema es que muchos de esos medicamentos eran pagados por los contribuyentes a través de programas como el Medicare y el Medicaid, además de seguros de salud privados.
Los sospechosos operaban desde una farmacia ubicada en el 7175 del suroeste y la 47 calle, en Miami. Entre las medicinas que entraron en el negocio ilícito estaban algunas destinadas para el tratamiento del cáncer y el VIH.
Como parte del operativo las autoridades entraron a una propiedad valorada en $700 mil dólares, ubicada en el 10755 del suroeste y la 34 calle, la cual según récord públicos pertenece al doctor Rafael Prats.
Ola de estafas
En este caso las autoridades aun buscan a otro sospechoso identificado como Cándido Polo.
Los casos de estafas a seguros de propiedad, fraudes a programas médicos y robos de identidad de tarjetas de créditos han experimentado una espiral el área de Miami, en su mayoría protyagonizado por cubanos de las recientes olas migratorias.
El pasado abril,  en el vecino condado de Palm Beach, cuatro cubanos fueron encausados y comparecerán a juicio en los próximos días por formar parte de una red de robo de identidad y tarjetas de crédito en el sur de la Florida.
El próximo mes también será sentenciado en un tribunal de Connecticut, Amed Villa, el quinto de los cubanos residentes de Miami que protagonizaron el mayor robo de medicinas y equipos médicos en la historia de Estados Unidos en el 2010.
Los cubanos hallados culpables por delitos graves -residentes legales en Estados Unidos- son posteriormente considerados deportables. La orden de deportación no se ejecuta regularmente debido a que no existe un acuerdo de extradición vigente entre ambos países.
Unos 35 mil cubanos tienen orden final de deportación en Estados Unidos.

Arrestados presuntos asesinos de joven rockero en Camagüey

Mandy Junco, hijo del escritor camagueyano Pedro Junco, asesinado por una pandilla callejera.
Mandy Junco
Por Redacción CaféFuerte
Las autoridades policiales anunciaron el arresto de cinco jóvenes vinculados al asesinato del rockero Pedro Armando Junco Torres, quien fue apuñañalado en plena vía pública en la ciudad de Camagüey, el pasado 16 de mayo.
Un comunicado del Ministerio del Interior (MININT) en Camagüey, divulgado este lunes, indicó que en el término de las 24 horas siguientes al crimen fueron detenidos Carlos Eugenio Álvarez Germán, Dairon Mora Reyes, Yelko Martin Batista Williams, Melson Sergio Varona Oduardo y Raciel Antonio Vázquez Morales, todos con edades comprendidas entre los 17 y 23 años.
Aunque la nota policial no lo consigna, se trata al parecer de una pandilla local con antecedentes de agresiones y violencia callejera.
Como medida cautelar, los cinco implicados se encuentran en prisión provisional en espera de ser encausados por su participación en el hecho criminal.
Confesión de los agresores
“Demostrada la participación de cada uno de los comisores a partir de su confesión, fueron asegurados con la medida cautelar de prisión provisional, y sobre ellos caerá el peso de la justicia revolucionaria”, señaló la información policial.
De acuerdo con el reporte, los agresores transitaban por la vía pública bajo la ingestión de bebidas alcohólicas, dos de ellos el posesión de armas blancas, y antes de apuñalar mortalmente al músico, Yelko Martin Batista Williams había lesionado ya a tres personas en el trayecto.
Fueron Batista Williams y Carlos Eugenio Álvarez Germán quienes agredieron brutalmente a Pedro Armando Junco Torres, causándole la muerte, en presencia del resto de los implicados, señaló el reporte del MININT.
Quedó establecido que ninguno de los involucrados mantenía relación con la víctima.
La investigación policial confirma que el hecho ocurrió en horas de la madrugada del 16 de mayo, cuando Junco Torres, de 28 años, recibió heridas por arma blanca por parte de los agresores en la calle San Pablo, en la capital camagueyana.
Conmoción en la ciudad
Su cuerpo sin vida fue trasladado al hospital provincial Manuel Ascunce Domenech, donde fue certificado el deceso a causa de las heridas y los golpes recibidos.
El esclarecimiento oficial del hecho delictivo se produce luego de que el padre de la víctima, el escritor Pedro Junco López, denunció el asesinato de su hijo y fustigó el silencio de  la prensa y las autoridades gubernamentales en una carta pública, difundida ampliamente en las redes sociales.
El asesinato del músico, guitarrista de la banda de rock Strike Back, conmocionó a la capital camagüeyana.
Junco López dijo que su hijo fue acribillado a golpes y puñaladas. y que el examen forense confirmó 46 contusiones en su cuerpo.
He sido un fervoroso defensor del derecho a la vida. Pero si es necesaria la aplicación de la pena máxima para salvar a personas inocentes, pues sea aplicada”, escribió el padre en su misiva de denuncia.
Nota relacionada:
Testimonio: Asesinaron a mi hijo en las calles camagüeyanas

Otros dos medicos cubanos escapan de Más Médicos para Miami

Los profesionales cubanos Yandra Alayo Reyes y Leonardo Sánchez Ortiz, de 32 y 43 años, respectivamente, abandonaron el programa Más Médicos de Brasil para ir a residir a la ciudad de Miami.
Según el Diario de Pernambuco los galenos vivían desde 2013 en una casa de Serra Talhada, municipio del interior del estado de Pernambuco, junto a otro miembro de la misión médica cubana, que no fue identificado.
El diario indicó que los médicos fueron especialmente discretos en su fuga. Su compañero de residencia desconocía el plan, así como los conocidos de la comunidad, de unos 80.000 habitantes.
Paula Duarte, responsable médica del municipio, declaró que los médicos "eran muy atentos con los pacientes".
La razón de la huida podría estar en el encabezado que se encuentra en el sitio de Yandra Alayo en Facebook. La joven doctora ha estampado la frase: "Cansa… Dar o máximo de nos e não receber nem a metade" (Cansa… dar el máximo de nosotros y no recibir ni la mitad).
El texto aludiría a lo que ha sido el reverso escandaloso de la política médica cubana: el lucro exagerado que obtiene el castrismo al apoderarse de la mayor parte de los salarios que ganan los médicos enviados al exterior.
Yandra Alayo y Leonardo Sánchez integraban contingente de más de 11.000 médicos cubanos que sostiene el programa Más Médicos, con el que el Gobierno de Dilma Rousseff ha mejorado el acceso a la salud de millones de brasileños.
Mientras son desconocidos los beneficios que obtiene el Estado cubano de sus misiones médicas en Venezuela, Bolivia o Angola, los que consigue de Brasil son públicos.
Por cada médico, el Gobierno brasileño entrega a La Habana un total de 10.000 reales, de los cuales el Estado cubano da al médico contratado 2.400, menos del 25%. Mientras los hospitales de Cuba sufren un profundo deterioro y los ingresos medios del país no superan los 25 dólares, es desconocido el destino de la cuantiosa cifra ingresada por el castrismo.
El diario español El país denunció días atrás el trasfondo oneroso que para los médicos tiene la estrategia del Gobierno cubano. En "Verdades de la diplomacia médica cubana",el autor, Alejandro Tarre, señaló el desnivel entre el salario mensual del médico y los ingresos que por ese profesional recibe el Estado.
En Venezuela el pago a Cuba por cada médico ronda los 10.000 dólares mensuales en tanto los ingresos del profesional no llegan a 400 dólares. Los servicios son pagados por Caracas principalmente con petróleo.
Pero no solo padecen los médicos cubanos un hondo saqueo de sus salarios, en muchas ocasiones son además albergados en condiciones penosas que pueden llegar a ser peligrosas para la salud y la vida.
Menos de un mes atrás se conoció que tres médicos cubanos murieron en Argelia, supuestamente asfixiados por el gas de un calentador de agua en malas condiciones.
Mientras la prensa oficial cubana difundía noticias sobre la visita de Raúl Castro al país africano, el trágico incidente fue silenciado sin ningún pudor.
Los grupos favorecidos de las misiones médicas cubanas exaltan los beneficios que produce un profesional de la Isla, mientras silencian la condición material que los lleva a sitios apartados del mundo, en pésimas condiciones de vida y seguridad, todo ello por un salario irrisorio que representa no obstante, cuando menos, seis veces el que perciben en la Isla.
El salario en Cuba de un médico con doble especialización es del equivalente a 66 dólares al mes, según los datos oficiales.
Los médicos Yandra Alayo y Leonardo Sánchez son la expresión visible de una trata humana organizada por un gobierno en su beneficio y aprovechada por otros gobiernos que, con su silencio, se convierten en cómplices despreciables.

Aumenta la producción de azúcar a pesar de no cumplirse el plan - Reporte oficial

La culminación de la zafra 2014-2015 ya es un hecho. Un informe elaborado por funcionarios del Grupo Azucarero Azcuba precisa que este año el plan se quedó en un 4 % por debajo de lo esperado. A pesar de ello, la producción de azúcar continuó aumentando y experimentó un 18 % de crecimiento respecto a la molienda anterior, equivalente al mayor volumen alcanzado en los últimos 11 años, según destacaron.
Aunque los resultados distan todavía de lo que se espera, tampoco es desestimable el hecho de que durante cinco años consecutivos se ha logrado crecer. En ello ha incidido favorablemente la incorporación paulatina, a lo largo de este quinquenio, de los centrales que muelen en cada campaña.
La etapa que recién concluye no estuvo exenta de “grandes carreras contra el tiempo para terminar las reparaciones e inversiones, motivados por la llegada tardía de algunos recursos —fundamentalmente metales y piezas de la mecanización y el transporte—, debido al incumplimiento en la entrega por parte de las empresas importadoras”, destacó a Granma Liobel Pérez Hernández, especialista de Comunicación Institucional del grupo.
Razón por la cual se dejaron de realizar un grupo de trabajos que conllevaron a que 11 centrales no pudieran arrancar en tiempo o lo hicieran sin probar con anterioridad su ma­quinaria, lo cual incrementó las roturas durante la molienda.
Como bien se estuvo señalando durante todo el periodo, el principal problema presentado en esta zafra fue el bajo aprovechamiento de la capacidad potencial de molida de los centrales, que se quedaron a un 65 %, cifra que, aun cuando fue algo superior a la de la contienda pasada (60 %), todavía se queda por debajo del plan previsto (72 %) y de su nivel óptimo que debe superar al 80 %. Es­pecialistas de Azcuba indicaron que ello se debió al tiempo perdido y al incumplimiento de la tarea de corte y tiro de la caña.
Pérez Hernández refirió a Granma que la extracción del azúcar y miel de los centrales, también creó fuertes tensiones durante la zafra, a pesar del esfuerzo realizado por las empresas transportistas.
La eficiencia agroindustrial, la mayor dificultad durante la pasada campaña, mostró resultados más favorables desde los inicios de la contienda. Funcionarios de Azcuba resaltaron que más de la mitad del crecimiento en la producción de azúcar se debió a la eficiencia lograda. Mientras que por cada 100 toneladas de caña molidas en la etapa anterior se obtuvieron 9,50 toneladas de azúcar (rendimiento industrial), este año se lograron 10,27 toneladas.
Son también superiores en relación con el pasado año la producción de alcohol, alimento animal, la entrega de energía eléctrica a la red nacional y la calidad del azúcar, que sigue mejorando en sus parámetros físico-químicos y en su inocuidad.

Putin’s Russia: Don’t Walk, Don’t Eat, and Don’t Drink


Vladimir Kara-Murza presents a 2014 report in Washington, D.C., on corruption at Russia’s Sochi Olympics.
Last Saturday, on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, a friend and I were in Moscow discussing precautions. I confessed to a fear of apartment-building entryways because two people I knew, the parliament member Galina Starovoitova and the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, had been shot dead on their way up to their apartments. “Ever since Nemtsov was killed,” my friend said, referring to the February shooting of a Putin opponent, “I don’t know anything about precautions anymore. What are you supposed not to do now—walk the streets?”
It would also be prudent now to stop eating and drinking. On Wednesday, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a thirty-three-year-old opposition journalist, was hospitalized in critical condition after he collapsed at his office in Moscow. He was diagnosed with renal failure that had resulted from acute intoxication. Put more simply, the problem was poison.
It is not clear when and how Kara-Murza may have been poisoned, but Russian activists and journalists who get enough death threats and take them sufficiently seriously to hire bodyguards are also usually careful about what they ingest. Soon after the chess champion Garry Kasparov quit the sport to go into politics full time, in 2004, he hired a team of eight bodyguards, who not only accompanied him everywhere but also carried drinking water and food for Kasparov to eat at meals shared in public. Three years ago, Kasparov told me that what he liked most about foreign travel was being able to shed his bodyguards for a while. A year after that, threats drove him to leave Russia permanently.
Attacks by poisoning are possibly even more common in Russia than assassinations by gunfire. Most famously, Alexander Litvinenko, a secret-police whistle-blower, was killed by polonium in London, in 2006. Last week, British newspapers reported that a Russian businessman who dropped dead while jogging in a London suburb in 2012 had been killed by a rare plant poison. He had been a key witness in a money-laundering case that had originally been exposed by the Moscow accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured to death, in 2009, in a Russian jail.
Two years before Politkovskaya was shot, she suffered multiple-organ failure after ingesting a poison, still unidentified, with tea served to her on a Russian plane. Yuri Shchekochikhin, her colleague at the investigative weekly Novaya Gazeta, died in a Moscow hospital, in 2003, as the result of an apparent poisoning. In 2008, a lawyer who specializes in bringing Russian cases to the European Court of Human Rights, Karinna Moskalenko, fell ill in Strasbourg; her husband and two small children were also unwell. The cause of their illness was identified as mercury that had somehow found its way into their car.
Moskalenko was one of the lead lawyers in the defense of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil tycoon who had become Putin’s most famous political prisoner. He spent ten years behind bars before Putin granted him clemency before the Sochi Olympics; he is now living in Zurich and running an anti-Putin N.G.O., Open Russia, with offices in London, Prague, and Moscow. Last month, the Moscow office was raided by law enforcement, which seized many of the computers. (Some have since been returned.) Kara-Murza runs Open Russia’s multi-city public-lecture program—a difficult job, because most cities in Russia try to shut down his events. The organization itself has so far escaped being shut down because, on paper, it doesn’t exist: using a loophole in the law, it has simply not registered—and hence cannot be liquidated the way many other Russian N.G.O.s have been in the past three years.
Like the Soviet regime before it, the Putin government spreads fear by destroying the illusion that one can protect oneself. So Open Russia’s leaders think that they can use a loophole in the law to keep themselves safe? the message seems to be. Let’s see how safe they feel after one of them is poisoned.
Indeed, the larger message of the Nemtsov assassination and the apparent attempted assassination of Kara-Murza is that no one is safe. Both men are sufficiently well-known to attract the attention of Russia’s dwindling oppositional minority, but neither has the superstar status that would preclude identifying with him. If Litvinenko’s murder made one think, “Well, but who’d be interested in me?,” these attacks put many more people on notice. Don’t walk the streets. Don’t eat the food. Don’t talk.
Speaking of talking, in the past few months, people who work at two Moscow restaurants have warned me, separately, about the precise locations of listening devices at the eateries. The warnings came unbidden. The food at both places was, incidentally, not only very good but also apparently safe. That, along with the springtime sun, helps maintain the bizarre sense of normalcy that has a way of going hand in hand with the mortal danger that has become a fact of everyday life.

Luanda’s Oil Boom


The severe inequality of the Angolan oil boom.

Earlier this year, I was invited to a barbecue at the home of a Texas oilman, Steve Espinosa, and his wife, Norma. Their two-story house sat on an unnamed road, nestled in a community called the Condominio Riviera Atlantico, about ten miles from Luanda, the rapidly expanding capital of Angola. There were no sidewalks or footpaths in the area, and there wasn’t much movement on the street. But there were plenty of cars: Porsche Cayennes, Audis, and BMWs, all tucked neatly into identical carports adjacent to identical houses. Espinosa, a burly man in cargo shorts and a Brooklyn Industries T-shirt, answered the door and held out a beer. He steered me through a sparsely furnished living room, past a humidor filled with Cuban cigars, and onto the patio, where several of his friends and colleagues were snacking amiably on ostrich meat. There was a second kitchen beside the pool in the back yard, with a sink, a large refrigerator, and a Weber grill.
For the past two years, Luanda—not Tokyo, Moscow, or Hong Kong—has been named, by the global consulting firm Mercer, as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. Luanda’s lure, and its treasure, is oil. José Eduardo dos Santos, who has presided over Angola for more than thirty-five years, long ago realized that foreign oil companies were the key to power, and he has worked diligently to accommodate them. In the past decade, tens of thousands of American and European employees of international oil conglomerates, fortified by generous cost-of-living allowances, have descended on Luanda. (Multinational companies base their overseas salaries on the comparative costs of housing, clothes, food, and other commodities.)
The country now produces 1.8 million barrels of oil a day; in Africa, only Nigeria produces and exports more. The boom has transformed a failed state into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, the French company Total, and BP all have significant operations in Angola, along with firms—Schlumberger and Halliburton among them—that provide the complicated logistical support required to drill and maintain deep offshore wells. Most of the foreign workers live with their families in well-guarded suburban communities with names such as Bella Vista and Paraíso Riviera.
At the height of the British Empire, colonial rulers lived by a credo: “Make the world England.’’ The oil expatriates of Luanda have taken that message to heart. Few would work there if they couldn’t live as they do at home, but their comforts have been hard to come by. Almost nothing is made in Angola, so nearly every car, computer, crate of oranges, tin of caviar, jar of peanut butter, pair of bluejeans, and bottle of wine arrives by boat. Every day, a trail of container ships backs up from the port through the Bay of Luanda and out into the sea.
Grotesque inequality long ago became a principal characteristic of the world’s biggest and most crowded cities. But there is no place quite like Luanda, where the Espinosas’ rent is sixteen thousand dollars a month, a bottle of Coke can sell for ten dollars, and Range Rovers cost twice their sticker price. Per-capita income in Angola has nearly tripled in the past dozen years, and the country’s assets grew from three billion dollars to sixty-two billion dollars. Nonetheless, by nearly every accepted measure, Angola remains one of the world’s least-developed nations. Half of Angolans live on less than two dollars a day, infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world, and the average life expectancy—fifty-two—is among the lowest. Obtaining water is a burden even for the rich, and only forty per cent of the population has regular access to electricity. (For those who do, a generator is essential, as power fails constantly.) Nearly half the population is undernourished, rural sanitation facilities are rare, malaria accounts for more than a quarter of all childhood deaths, and easily preventable diarrheal diseases such as rotavirus are common.
Because the oil companies routinely pay most large expenses for their foreign workers in Angola, a dollar bill can quickly begin to feel like Monopoly money. Before I visited the Espinosas, I asked at my hotel if it could provide a car and driver for the ten-mile journey from the center of the city to the suburb of Talatona. The clerk at the front desk told me it would cost a hundred and fifty dollars. There weren’t many alternatives, so I agreed. Later, I saw him waving frantically at me in the lobby. He explained that he had been wrong about the taxi: it would actually cost four hundred and fifty dollars, each way. I found another ride.
The trip took two hours. It was a Friday afternoon, and the single rutted road that runs south toward Luanda Sul was jammed with commuters, trucks, tractors, and a stream of the unregulated Toyota minivans—candongueiros—that pass for public transportation. Children worked the roadway, selling soccer balls, popcorn, phone cards, toilet seats, and multicolored polyester brooms. I stopped at the Casa dos Frescos, a grocery store favored by expatriates, to buy some Scotch for my hosts, but a fifth of the Balvenie cost three hundred dollars, so I settled for a mediocre bottle of wine, for sixty-five. The woman in front of me, juggling an infant and a cell phone, unloaded her groceries on the checkout counter. She had a couple of steaks, a few pantry items, and two seventeen-dollar pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, along with juice and vegetables. The bill was eleven hundred and fifty dollars. She didn’t seem fazed, and I later learned that the store was famous for its prices. A few years ago, the Casa dos Frescos had been the site of what locals refer to as “the incident of the golden melon.’’ An enraged French customer, having paid a hundred and five dollars for a single melon, sued the store for profiteering. The case was thrown out of court, in part because the man not only bought the melon but also ate the evidence.
For dinner, Espinosa grilled steak and part of a thirty-five-pound tuna that he’d caught the previous week on the Kwanza River. When oil people leave Angola, he told me, they often sell their freezers, packed with American beef, to their successors. “People can charge ten thousand dollars for a well-stocked freezer,’’ he said. He mentioned that a friend once tried to sell him a roll of aluminum foil for a hundred and forty dollars. Espinosa grinned and rolled his eyes. “That crazy Randy,’’ he said. “In the end, I think I paid thirty dollars.’’
“T.I.A., man,’’ he said, shrugging his shoulders and using a favorite acronym: “This is Angola.”
Angola endured four centuries of servitude and slavery before gaining independence, in 1975, and Luanda was once the world’s busiest slave port. The National Museum of Slavery, about an hour from the city, is housed in a spare colonial structure that sits on a promontory overlooking the Kwanza River. There isn’t much to see—drawings of slaves crammed into steerage for the trip across the Atlantic, a display of shackles, and some brief historical notes—but the simplicity is powerful and disturbing. The building is the last place that slaves came before they were blessed by a priest, put on a boat, and shipped to the markets of Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and the Dominican Republic. Millions passed through the region, many of whom died before they reached their destination.
The Portuguese arrived in 1575, took control soon afterward, and remained in power until 1974, when a military coup finally toppled the government in Lisbon. Nationalists had been fighting in Angola for more than a decade, and when the colonists pulled out of the country the fleeing citizens took everything that could be moved. Ryszard Kapuscinski, in “Another Day of Life,’’ his memoir of that time, described the efforts to cram the entire city into a series of wooden crates and ship most of it to Lisbon. “I don’t know if there had ever been an instance of a whole city sailing across the ocean, but that is exactly what happened,’’ he wrote. “On the streets now there were only thousands of cars, rusting and covered with dust. The walls also remained, the roofs, the asphalt on the roads, and the iron benches along the boulevards.”
Angola has millions of acres of rich, arable land and an unusual abundance of mineral wealth, particularly diamonds. One Brazilian businessman told me that turning Angola into a farming nation and lowering its dependence on oil revenues should not be that difficult. “My country sells many thousands of tons of crops to China each year,” he said. “Angola is closer to China, and the countries have a strong relationship. The land is tremendously fertile. Why not grow those crops here and steal the Brazilian market?” With spectacular waterfalls, some of the world’s most elusive bird species, miles of untouched beaches, and what surfers regard as nearly perfect conditions, there are also promising opportunities for tourism.
But Angola lacks the infrastructure for any of those industries; the roads are so poor that the biggest farms often burn crops, because they cannot get them to market before they rot. Chevron began drilling during the nineteen-fifties; before independence, and even after oil became the nation’s most valuable commodity, exports of sisal, maize, coffee, and cotton as well as diamonds and iron ore contributed significantly to the country’s economy. That ended with the exodus of the Portuguese; few Angolans had been trained to manage factories or farms. Trade vanished, the communications systems fell apart, and the economy collapsed.
For the next twenty-five years, Angola fell into one of the most destructive civil wars in modern history. At least a million people died. By most estimates, roughly ten million land mines were buried—many of them remain active—scarring a territory twice the size of Texas and making large-scale agricultural planning nearly impossible. The war was fought as much for oil and diamonds as for ideological reasons, but it also served as the last major proxy battle of the Cold War. The United States, still struggling to accept the loss in Vietnam, refused to cede the territory to the Russians, who were equally committed to retaining a foothold in southern Africa. The UNITA rebels, backed by the C.I.A. and South African mercenaries, were led by Jonas Savimbi, a murderous despot who embraced Maoist principles. The Marxists—the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (M.P.L.A.)—with support from the Russians and led by Agostinho Neto, who later became the country’s first President, relied on an unusual mixture of Eastern European economic advisers and Cuban soldiers. Both sides often condemned the influence and the power of Western oil companies, but Neto understood that his regime and the country probably wouldn’t survive without them. He made sure that American oil companies were protected and, in turn, won financial backing from companies such as Chevron.
“It was a true witches’ cauldron,” one foreign official who spent years in Angola told me. The hostilities ended only in 2002, when assassins shot Savimbi in the head. (“The best use of bullets in the history of munitions,’’ another longtime resident of Luanda said.) President dos Santos, who is seventy-two, became the head of the M.P.L.A. in 1979, after Neto died. The Party still uses that acronym, although it officially abandoned Marxism more than twenty years ago.
After hundreds of years of strife, Angola has been a peaceful country for little more than a decade. No society forged in that kind of conflict can quickly find its footing. “I spent my first two years here hunting for water,’’ Nicholas Staines, who until recently served as local director of the International Monetary Fund, told me one afternoon, as we sat in the garden outside the I.M.F. office. “And I mean hunting. I would walk out of my house with a fistful of cash, and my wife would say, ‘Don’t come back till you find some water.’ So I would hunt for the nearest water truck and say, ‘Where are you going? How much is that person paying you? I will double it.’ That is how you got water in Angola just a few years ago.’’
Then, suddenly, there were hundreds of people with unimaginable wealth and few restraints. Tales of excess became commonplace, and often they are told with pride. One businessman famously distributed Rolexes to guests as party favors at a wedding. Each member of parliament recently received a new hundred-thousand-dollar Lexus. Isabel dos Santos, the President’s forty-two-year-old daughter, is typically described as the richest woman in Africa; Forbes puts her net worth at more than three billion dollars. She was educated in London, at King’s College, and owns the biggest building, with the most expensive apartments, in Luanda. In 2011, as president of the Red Cross, dos Santos paid Mariah Carey a million dollars to perform for two hours at the organization’s annual gala. The show was sponsored by Unitel, Angola’s principal mobile-phone company, which she also owns.
Dos Santos is one of the city’s most ambitious restaurateurs. One day, I had lunch at Oon.dah, on the first floor of the Escom Center, another of her properties; the house specialty, the Wagyu Beef Hamburger, sells for about sixty dollars, and a half pound of tenderloin goes for twice that. A bottle of Cristal champagne costs twelve hundred dollars. Displaying such wealth in a country as impoverished as Angola can be a challenge. One member of the President’s inner circle owns a Rolls-Royce, but there are few good roads in Luanda. So every Sunday he loads the car into a trailer, takes it to the Marginal—a recently renovated two-mile-long promenade along the South Atlantic—drives it for a while on the capital’s only smooth road, loads it back into its trailer, and has it hauled away.
Angola is widely regarded as one of the world’s most egregious kleptocracies. The bulk of the country’s wealth is controlled by a few hundred oligarchs—Presidential cronies, generals, and their families. “The default position of Angolan businessmen is above the law,’’ Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, an associate professor of politics at Oxford University, writes in “Magnificent and Beggar Land,’’ his comprehensive new account of Angola’s recent history. “Whether it is a matter of capital flight, money laundering, the unilateral abandonment of partnerships with foreigners, the non-payment of loans and import duties, conflict of interest between public and private roles . . . These are not occasional whims, but the very stuff of Angolan private sector life.’’
Last year, the nation ranked a hundred and sixty-first out of a hundred and seventy-five countries on Transparency International’s corruption scale and a hundred and eighty-first on the World Bank’s most recent Ease of Doing Business index. In one category, resolving bankruptcies, Angola came in last. Twice in a week, my driver was hustled for money by traffic cops. The officers were patient and polite, but they lingered in a way that made it clear that it would be wise to hand over a hundred kwanzas, the equivalent of about a dollar. One night, as I pulled into the parking lot of a popular restaurant, a man suddenly appeared at the door. “We pay him,’’ my companion said. “This way, we will probably get the car back when we leave.” We then paid another man to seat us in a nearly empty restaurant, and another to bring us a fifteen-dollar bottle of Evian. That was before we ever saw our waiter.
The next afternoon, I needed batteries for my tape recorder. The only store I could find that carried them charged sixteen dollars (and gave me a handwritten receipt). Then the salesman punched the official figure, six dollars, into the cash register; the extra ten dollars was for him. Angola has several dozen universities, more even than South Africa. But few have functioning libraries, and degrees are bought as often as they are earned. More than one person told me that in order to graduate from Agostinho Neto University, the largest academic institution in Angola, even some of the most talented students are forced to pay bribes. Antonio, an official of a major oil company who was educated at several of Luanda’s best international schools, said that he had entered the university but quickly dropped out. “It was a giant step backward,” he said. “A complete waste of my time.” (Few Angolans were willing to be identified by more than a first or middle name. The constitution protects freedom of speech and assembly, but the government has grown increasingly intolerant of criticism.)
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Antonio is a thin, contemplative man with an oval face and a head of loose, springy curls. He and two of his friends, Pedro and Marisa, joined me one night for dinner at La Vigia, a popular restaurant where diners can select fish from a tank near the cash register. “It is really hard to find honest people here,’’ Pedro said. “Everywhere you go, even every small business, somebody is trying to cheat you.” Like Antonio, Pedro had graduated from premier schools, and, despite his comments, he expressed optimism about the country’s long-term future. Marisa, who attended college and business school in Europe, said that when she is stopped by the traffic police she simply refuses to pay—“and eventually they go away.’’ The three, all in their thirties, agreed that although they might prefer to live abroad, there has never been a better time to be a well-educated Angolan. The government requires foreign oil companies to hire local residents, and, for those who are qualified, the prospects for lucrative jobs are excellent.
“We can function effectively in a foreign environment,’’ Pedro said. “That makes us unusual.’’ His English, which he said he learned from watching American police shows on TV, was letter-perfect. He told me that he and his colleagues often see job applicants who, despite having graduated from the country’s best tech programs, “barely know how to turn on a computer.” The three friends stressed more than once that, owing to their education and relative prosperity, they were far from typical. Yet they represent the vibrant and promising new Angola that is struggling to emerge. None of them have known any leader other than dos Santos. International human-rights groups regularly denounce him, but his power remains absolute. “A lot of people see him as the King of Angola,’’ Pedro said. “He kind of owns the country. People almost can’t look him in the eyes—he’s that powerful.’’
Marisa added, “It’s like your father who is very mean to you. You go to dinner every day, and he shows up, and you smile and say, ‘Hi, Daddy.’ You say nothing instead of saying, ‘What have you done to me, you are horrible.’ ’’ Marisa, who is single, runs the procurement operation at an oil-services firm. Just that day, she had interviewed a twenty-five-year-old prospective employee who was the father of seven children. “That’s pretty normal,” she said. “Not necessarily seven kids, but having children by the time you’re in your early twenties.” Marisa lives in the center of town and commutes through heavy traffic to an office on the outskirts of the city. She rises at five, a driver arrives by six, and she is at the office shortly after seven. “There is tremendous pressure to have at least one child before you hit thirty,’’ she said. “But things are changing.’’ She said that she recently heard a woman explain on a radio show why lesbians exist: they weren’t loved by men, and therefore looked to their mothers—or perhaps a sister or a cousin—for a model of what love should look like.
“The same principle applied to homosexuals or violent people,’’ Marisa said. “You become violent because your parents are violent—that is the view. You become a lesbian because you didn’t have a father figure. This is ridiculous and offensive. But it’s also a great step forward, because we are speaking in broad daylight, on the radio, about lesbians and homosexuals. They are not accepted, but they are not going to be killed. This is an advance.”
Luanda aspires to become the Dubai of Africa, but it has a long way to go. In 1975, the city had half a million residents; today there are almost six million. Hotels, luxury apartment buildings, shopping arcades, and modern office complexes compete for space in the city center with shantytowns made from corrugated tin and heavy cardboard and with tens of thousands of people who live on mounds of dirt, in the scrapped remains of rusted and abandoned vehicles, or out in the open, next to fetid, unused water tanks. To make room for development, President dos Santos has cleared many slums in the past decade, usually without warning or compensation. He has promised to provide displaced occupants with housing farther away from the city center, but the government has struggled with the furious pace of population growth.
Construction cranes are visible everywhere. (It pays to look up as you walk the streets: there are no scaffoldings to protect pedestrians from falling debris, and workmen occasionally toss empty water bottles from the skyscrapers.) The city often smells of sewage and stagnant water, but it has grand ambitions. After almost a decade of delays, the nearly completed Intercontinental Hotel and Casino, a ziggurat of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete, hovers over the harbor. An eight-lane highway—Luanda’s first genuinely modern road—runs along the city’s horseshoe-shaped port. Between the highway and the water, pedestrians amble along the Marginal, enjoying spectacular sunset views. Across the bay, connected to the city by a causeway, ostentatious night clubs with names like Chill Out and Miami Beach line the shores of the neighborhood known as the Ilha, which for many years was an abandoned strip of sand used mainly by local fishermen.
Most expatriates leave Luanda after a few years, but some choose to stay. One afternoon, I visited Tako Koning, a Canadian petroleum geologist, who lives on the seventh floor of an older building in the center of Luanda with his wife, Henriette, an energetic and engaging English teacher. Koning is sixty-five, with a thick mustache, heavy-lidded blue eyes, and slightly shaggy hair. He worked for Texaco for thirty years, first in Canada and then in Indonesia and Nigeria; in 1995, he and Henriette moved to Luanda. Koning retired from Texaco when it merged with Chevron, in 2001, and now works as a consultant. The couple’s apartment is comfortable but not luxurious. (Because power failures are so common, Henriette refuses to enter the elevator, preferring to climb the seven flights. “I don’t do African elevators,’’ she told me.) The rent—six thousand dollars a month—is reasonable for a place in the center of the city with excellent views.
From their terrace, the city looks like an archeological cutaway. Henriette pointed to a building across the street. “You can see they are not well off, because during power outages the building is dark,” she said—meaning that they lacked a backup generator. In another nearby building, occupied by diplomats and oil executives, a three-bedroom apartment rents for as much as twenty thousand dollars a month. I could see the new BP headquarters, a twenty-five-story building called Torres do Carmo, and the massive glass headquarters of Sonangol, the state oil company. “That’s the French Embassy,” Henriette said, pointing to a stolid town house. “And now look straight down.” Below us, rows of tin roofs were wedged tightly between apartment buildings. “They were displaced during the civil war,” she said. “Now they live on the street right next to the diplomats and millionaires.”
The Konings often entertain young Angolans, including the three I had recently met. The couple has supported students, and Tako, who was born in the Netherlands but lived mostly in Canada, contributes his time to a variety of schools and engineering societies. “You quickly realize that you can make a bigger difference here than in a place like Toronto,’’ he said. “It can be very satisfying.’’ I asked what he thought of expatriates who seemed to avoid interacting with Angolans. He shrugged. “The thing about Americans that I always loved is that you jumped in and got things done,’’ he said. “You rolled into Europe after World War II with the Marshall Plan. The countries were destroyed, but you put them back together. I understand that the U.S. wanted to hold off the Russians—there are always geopolitical reasons. But what matters is what you did.”
In Angola, he added, “you can’t simply hit a switch and say everything is normal just because the war has ended and the country has oil.” China essentially provided its own Marshall Plan: as the world’s biggest oil consumer, it buys nearly two million barrels a day from Angola, more than from any other country, and Chinese firms are building schools, roads, bridges, ports, and one of the largest housing developments in Africa, in nearby Kilamba. The buildings, designed for middle-income residents, are still mostly unoccupied, but they take up thousands of acres—pastel high-rises, just a few miles beyond the city limits, that look like a sub-Saharan Co-op City.
“We never planned to stay here forever,’’ Koning said. “We have two children and a grandchild in Toronto. But the longer you stay the deeper your roots go down. And we know people.’’ I went to a local place for a beer with him one night. Many of the street people waved, and several approached, eagerly but pleasantly. Koning says he doesn’t think it makes sense to hand out money, but he pays a man to watch his car, more as charity than for security. When people need medicine and clothing, he and Henriette often chip in.
The political landscape is troubling, though. In Luanda, security forces regularly stop protests and arrest those who try to attend them. In 2012, two activists disappeared after an anti-government protest. For more than a year, Angolan officials denied any knowledge of their fate. Late in 2013, after sustained protests by human-rights workers, the attorney general admitted that the two men had been kidnapped and probably murdered. Residents of Luanda are understandably afraid to test their freedom. When Koning and I got to the bar, we were joined at a table in the garden by a Russian diamond dealer. “We produce more diamonds than anyone else on earth, my dear,’’ he said in a very slight Russian accent. “But keep it to yourself.” There was also a dance teacher, a couple of other journalists, and an American woman who did not give her name or discuss her profession. The weather was dry and clear, and at night the air became softer, more fragrant and inviting. The others were relaxed, but the woman, who I later learned worked for an international N.G.O., looked anxious. “You can’t write about me,’’ she said, when I told her that I was a journalist. “It’s not safe. I will get death threats.’’ After a few moments of awkward silence, she stood up, said she couldn’t trust me, and walked out.
Foreign embassies routinely warn their citizens about crime in the capital. “Avoid walking around Luanda, especially after dark,’’ the British Foreign Office advises. One should also avoid “wearing jewelry or watches in public places” and “walking between bars and restaurants on the Ilha do Cabo,” as well as “crowded places like markets.’’ The U.S. State Department is even more blunt: “The capital city, Luanda, continues to maintain a well deserved reputation as a haven for armed robberies, assaults, carjackings, and overall crimes of opportunity. However, reliable statistical crime data is unavailable in Angola.’’ Many foreign workers are forbidden by their employers to drive cars there; those who want to spend a weekend in the countryside need to get permission well in advance. One afternoon, about an hour before I planned to meet some people near my hotel, one of them called. “What time should we pick you up?’’ she asked. I told her that I would walk the five hundred yards to our meeting spot. She tried to dissuade me, but when I insisted she urged me to lock my bag, passport, and wallet in the safe in my hotel room. “Bring a Xerox of the passport page and some money,’’ she said. “And do not show your phone on the street.” I made it to the meeting and back without incident.
Most expatriates said that their concern about crime was the main reason they avoided the city. At times, though, the fears seemed exaggerated. Not long after I arrived, I had dinner in the suburbs with a French journalist and some Americans. My colleague told one of the guests that she lived in the center of Luanda, a block or so from the Skyna Hotel, which is on the Avenue de Portugal, the city’s version of Fifth Avenue. The Skyna is enormous, extremely well known, and readily picked out of the skyline. “Where is that?” the guest, who had lived in Angola for more than a year, asked. “I’ve never heard of it.”
Americans can earn twice their usual salary in Angola, but there are few easily accessible cultural institutions or opportunities for entertainment. There’s the Slavery Museum and the Portuguese fortress of São Miguel, which overlooks the port, but in Luanda there’s not a single commercial movie theatre. “It’s all Netflix here,” Steve Espinosa told me. “If your Internet connection is good enough—otherwise you are out of luck.” There are more significant challenges. Exxon-Mobil, among other companies, carries out random urine tests on its workers, and those who fail are sent home. The company isn’t really looking for drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana; rather, it wants to make sure that employees are taking their malaria medicine. (The concern is understandable, but long-term use of malaria preventives can cause serious liver damage.)
Foreigners typically stay for two or three years; the Espinosas have been there for six. Two of their children attended the Luanda International School, which is only a couple of miles from where they live. The campus is beautiful and modern, with computer systems and well-kept playing fields. The staff is made up largely of foreign teachers, who tend to move every few years among the world’s élite international schools. Fees, which are almost always paid by oil companies, come to about fifty thousand dollars a year. Some companies even pay when they don’t have a student who needs the seat. “If Chevron or BP wants to transfer somebody in the middle of a year,’’ one teacher said, “these companies have to be certain that children can attend a good school.”
Students are typically driven to school, waved through a security gate, collected after class, and then driven back to the safety of their housing cluster. Nobody takes a bus, rides a bike, or walks. There are also many local students at the international school—mostly children of Angola’s élite, which can be a problem in civics classes, given the government’s deplorable human-rights record. A few weeks earlier, the mother of an important minister spoke at the school. “It’s hard for people like that to admit the truth about issues like free speech and hard for us to ignore it,” one teacher told me. “So we try to walk a line.” (One report, released in March by the International Federation for Human Rights, which represents more than a hundred and seventy human-rights groups throughout the world, found that journalists and human-rights workers in Angola are subject to “judicial and administrative harassment, acts of intimidation, threats and other forms of restrictions to their freedom of association and expression.”)
For those who prefer the protected life, the cocoon can extend all the way to Houston. The Houston Express, operated by Atlas Air, flies three times a week between George Bush International Airport and Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro Airport. Tickets are usually available only through the oil companies. Most seats, which sell for about ten thousand dollars, are in business class. People who fly on a commercial airliner from the U.S. typically change planes in Paris or London. On my flight, there were about two hundred and seventy-five passengers, all but a few of them men. It felt like a military transport.
Nobody is sure how long Angola’s expat exceptionalism can last. The plummeting price of oil has already forced Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Schlumberger to cut thousands of jobs throughout the world. So far, Angola has mostly been spared. (No official from any oil company would agree to talk to me about its presence in Angola.) But if the United States stops buying Angola’s oil, and if China’s rate of economic growth continues to slow, major foreign companies would be unable to sustain their current staffing levels and expenditures.
Oil revenue accounts for more than ninety per cent of Angola’s foreign-exchange earnings, and there are many risks for a country that relies too heavily on one commodity. Economists call it the resource curse. For years, oil experts predicted that by 2020 Nigeria and Angola would account for twenty-five per cent of America’s crude imports; the shale revolution in Texas and North Dakota put an end to such speculation. Within a few years, the United States might not need any Angolan oil. The current price of a barrel of oil is about fifty dollars, but just a few months ago the Angolan government, for the purposes of its 2015 budget, assumed that the average price would be eighty-one dollars. That gap will prove hard to close. The dos Santos government announced earlier this year that it would cut the budget by a quarter, and it has said that it will work harder to diversify the economy. Few economists who study Africa believe that it will be easy.
“They say that they will diversify the economy all the time,’’ Gustavo Costa, the Luanda correspondent for the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, told me. “There has always been that opportunity. And in theory, at least, it’s still there. But the government has built a certain kind of society—for themselves. You can call it prosperity if you want, but it is incredibly fragile. It all could end tomorrow.”
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Retratos de fusilados por el Castrismo - Juan Abreu


"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño


le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.


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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva


Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.


¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]


A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan


Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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