Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta negocios. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta negocios. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, marzo 06, 2015

Cuba entre los peores países del mundo para hacer negocios

Cuba sigue siendo uno de los países del mundo con mayor riego para hacer negocios, de acuerdo al Mapa de Riesgo Político 2015 que ha elaborado AON, una de las compañías líderes a nivel internacional en gestión de riesgos, seguros y consultoría.
En concreto, este documento que detalla el análisis por países, señala que Cuba aún tiene altos niveles de riesgo para invertir, principalmente por la "interferencia política". También apunta que la "relajación parcial de las restricciones económicas de Estados Unidos son positivas para el turismo y la industria local".
Sin embargo, según AON, "el control gubernamental de los negocios, con una normativa frágil, hacen de Cuba uno de los lugares más difíciles para hacer negocios en el mundo". Las reformas recientes sólo se reflejan en una "modesta mejora en algunas de sus puntuaciones de riesgo, y el riesgo de violencia política es cada vez mayor".
Concluye este breve informe de la aseguradora aludiendo a otros factores que pueden influir en las inversiones diciendo que "dada la anticuada infraestructura del país, su cadena de suministro es altamente susceptible a las condiciones climáticas, especialmente los huracanes".
En este Mapa de Riesgo Político, Cuba comparte con otra veintena de países la catalogación de lugares con alto riesgo para invertir, una de las diez variables que evalúa.
En el caso de Venezuela, al mismo nivel que Afganistán en muchas de ellas, se afirma que "sigue presentando elevados riesgos en todas las áreas económicas, con problemas especialmente importantes en el ámbito legal, regulatorio y en el intercambio de divisas". Para AON, con el actual gobierno de Maduro "el riesgo de impago ha aumentado como consecuencia de la caída del crudo".
En América Latina, junto a estas dos naciones también se encuentra en la misma situación Argentina y Haití. El resto de países de la lista se ubican en África e incluyen a Guinea, Libia, Chad, Níger, Camerún, Nigeria, Sudán, Sudán del Sur, Congo, República Centro Africana, República Democrática del Congo, Somalia, Zimbawue y Angola.
Mientras, en Asia son Camboya, Corea del Norte, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistán, Tayikistán, Irán, Afganistán, Siria y Myanmar los que se catalogan como los peores para hacer negocios. Ni Europa ni Oceanía tienen países dentro de ese nivel de riesgo.
Cuba still has high levels of risk, most notably political interference. Partial relaxation of U.S. economic restrictions are positive for tourism and domestic service industry. Government control of business but a weak regulatory environment make Cuba one of the most difficult places to do business in the world. Even with the recent reform agenda, which is reflected in modest improvement in some of its risk scores, political violence risk is increasing. Given the country's antiquated infrastructure, its supply chain is highly susceptible to climatic conditions, especially hurricanes.

martes, enero 15, 2013

Doing Business with Cuba, What's Next?

Remarks today by Mauricio Claver-Carone at World Trade Center Orlando:

"Doing Business with Cuba, What's Next?"

Thank you so much for your kind invitation. I'm thrilled to be back in Orlando.

As some of you know, I'm a former resident of Orlando.  I'm a proud graduate of Bishop Moore High School and Rollins College.  So I share a great deal with all of you.

Obviously, Cuba and U.S. policy towards Cuba -- including the issue of trade -- are topics of great passion, and seemingly endless comment, reflection and debate -- or at least for those of us that deal with it on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, too many times at these events, speakers tend to hype and cherry-coat business opportunities in Cuba, disregarding some of the unpleasant economic and political realities involved.

For example, in September 2011, our neighbors here in Tampa announced the launch of charter flights to Cuba with great fanfare.

At the time, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and other Tampa officials heralded the charters as a huge business coup.

She'd even started a "Gateway to Cuba" initiative to market Tampa as the jump-off point for Cuba travel.

"And this is just the beginning," Castor said.

Well, just this week, it was announced that these charter flights would be significantly scaled back.

Similarly, Cuba charter service planned from Baltimore-Washington, Atlanta, New York and San Juan has also has been halted for financial reasons.

Others will point to European and Canadian investors, and argue that they are getting a "head-start" on business opportunities in Cuba.

How have these European and Canadian investors fared?

You tell me.

In the last few years, European investors have had over $1 billion arbitrarily frozen in Cuban banks by the government.

As Reuters reported, "the Communist-run nation failed to make some debt payments on schedule beginning in 2008, then froze up to $1 billion in the accounts of 600 foreign suppliers by the start of 2009."

In the last few months, the CEOs of three companies with extensive business dealings with the Cuban government were arrested and are now sitting in jail -- without charges.

They are Cy Tokmakjian of the Tokmakjian Group and Sarkis Yacoubian of Tri-Star Caribbean, both from Canada, and Britain's Amado Fahkre of Coral Capital.

Let me stress that these were not casual investors. They these were three of Cuba's biggest business partners, having invested hundreds of millions, with direct access to the highest officials.

And in the last few weeks, Iberia, the national airline of Spain, which accounts for over 10% of all foreign commerce with Cuba, announced the elimination of its Havana routes -- for they are no longer profitable.

While my presentation may sound somber for the short-term -- I promise it is optimistic in the long-term.

I note your logo here at the World Trade Center Orlando is "prosperity through trade."

I completely agree.

In full disclosure, I am a free-trader.  I believe and advocate for the principles of free trade.  However, I do so without the distortions that some would like for us to accept under the guise of trade.

I believe in the principles of free trade as were envisioned by its original thinkers.

In The Wealth of Nations, a book considered to be the foundation of free trade, Adam Smith held that trade, when freely initiated, benefits both parties.

Smith did so in criticism of the mercantilist policies of the 17th and 18th centuries, whereby commerce was simply a tool to benefit and strengthen the authoritarian nation-states of the time.

I believe -- as did Smith -- that free trade requires property rights and the rule of law as pre-conditions. If no such rights exist, then there is no real opportunity to trade, for the government could just take from you what they want, when they want, wherever they want -- for their sole benefit.

Do these pre-conditions exist in Cuba today?

According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, which was just released this week:

Cuba ranks 176th out of 177 countries in the world in terms of economic freedom. The only country that ranks worse is North Korea.

It is the least-free economy in the Western Hemisphere and internationally, it ranks worse than some pretty unattractive investment environments, including Iran and Zimbabwe.

According to the report:

"A one-party Communist state, Cuba depends on external assistance (chiefly oil provided by Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and remittances from Cuban émigrés) and a captive labor force to survive. Property rights are severely restricted. Fidel Castro's 81-year-old younger brother Raul continues to guide both the government and the Cuban Communist Party. Cuba's socialist command economy is in perennial crisis. The average worker earns less than $25 a month, agriculture is in shambles, mining is depressed, and tourism revenue has proven volatile. But economic policy is resolutely Communist, and the regime rejects any moves toward genuine political or economic freedom."

Regarding the rule of law, it states:

"The constitution explicitly subordinates the courts to the National Assembly of People's Power and the Council of State. Corruption remains pervasive, undermining equity and respect for the rule of law."

Within this framework, let me also address Cuba's political system, as it has important implications for the subject of trade with Cuba.

First of all, Cuba is not China and it is not Vietnam. It is not an authoritarian bureaucracy.  Cuba is one of a handful of totalitarian states remaining in the world - alongside North Korea, as the 2013 Index for Economic Freedom correctly notes.

I hate to sound patronizing, but it's important to understand the dynamics of a totalitarian state in order to understand the Cuban reality.

A totalitarian state strives to control every aspect of public and private life. Totalitarian regimes, such as Cuba's, maintain themselves in power by means of an all-embracing cult of personality; propaganda disseminated through a state-controlled media; a single party that controls the state; absolute control over the economy; restrictions on discussion and criticism; the use of mass surveillance; and state terrorism to foment fear and submission.

None of this has changed.

Some of you are probably wondering:

What about the "economic reforms" that have been so widely reported in the media?

Let me address some of these:

a. Agriculture: The most aggressive "reform" announced has been in agriculture, where the Cuban government enacted a law in 2008 seeking to distribute idle agricultural land to small farmers and cooperatives. These lands are granted in usufruct -- with ten years leases for individuals and 25 years for cooperatives, both renewable.  The government retains ownership.

Yet, according to a report last month in The New York Times, "Because of waste, poor management, policy constraints, transportation limits, theft and other problems, overall efficiency has dropped: many Cubans are actually seeing less food at private markets."

Despite this failure, the government is now similarly experimenting with some non-farm cooperatives. There's no reason to expect the results will be any different as the fundamental remain the same.

b. Self-employment: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban government sought to ease economic pressure by temporarily allowing -- through special licenses -- limited self-employment. These licenses were streamlined starting in 1998, when the Cuban government secured massive oil subsidies from Venezuela.

Faced with similar economic challenges today, Raul Castro has once again eased some restrictions on self-employment, which allow individuals to lease the practice of one of 181 pre-approved services, e.g. taxi drivers, artisans, in-home restaurants. However, all means of production are legally owned by the state.

Overall, there's nothing particularly new here. I'd also note that more than 25 percent of those self-employed have returned their licenses because of the government's burdensome oversight and predatory taxation.

c. Home Sales: The Cuban government has now allowed citizens to buy and sell the homes in which they reside.  Cubans have supposedly owned the property where they reside since 1986, although they couldn't be sold. Cubans dealt with the no-sell edict by "swapping" homes amongst each other and setting up a black market in housing. The government routinely confiscated homes of those who left the island and in 2000 the police began to crack down on the swaps and black market transfers.

Nonetheless, the newly-authorized sales are subject to limitations -- not least of which is a regular Cuban's $25 per month income. Another notable restriction requires the transaction be made in hard currency and that it be deposited in Cuba's Central Bank, pending the government's approval of the sale and an investigation into the source of the funds. At the time of closing, the Central Bank will issue a check to the seller in non-convertible (worthless) Cuban pesos. It is not surprising that the number of formally recorded sales remains minimal.

d. Migration Restrictions: Just today, the government is enacting a new law that eliminates the infamous "exit permit" required for Cubans to travel abroad. However, most of the restrictions and the high costs of the "exit permit" have been transferred to the passport process. Those who apply for travel abroad will still need a stamp of approval from the Ministry of the Interior. Dissidents, athletes and certain professionals will remain ineligible to travel abroad. The devil here is still in the details and its implementation.

What role do foreign investors play in these "reforms"?

None. Foreign investors in Cuba cannot do business with private citizens. They can only do business with the Cuban government through minority joint ventures. Moreover, the Cuban government's constitution clearly states that all foreign commerce is strictly reserved for the state.

Foreign investors cannot hire or pay workers directly. They must go through the Cuban government employment agency, which picks the workers. The investors then pay the Cuban government in hard currency for the workers, and the Cuban government pays the workers in worthless pesos.

For example, some foreign companies pay the Cuban government $10,000 a year per Cuban worker, which is a bargain in itself. But it's even more of a bargain for the Cuban government, which then gives the workers about $20 a month in pesos -- and pockets the difference. This is a violation of international labor norms.

Even the most unconditional advocate of business ties with the Cuban government would admit that Raul Castro has done little to attract foreign investment since taking the reign from his brother Fidel. To the contrary, as I mentioned earlier, he's stifled it.

The one exception has been off-shore oil exploration, which is directly tied to the Cuban government's fear of the demise of Hugo Chavez and his generous subsidies of 100,000 free barrels of oil per day. These subsidies comprise nearly two-thirds of Cuba's energy consumption.

Despite much anticipation throughout 2012, these off-shore oil exploration efforts -- in joint ventures with Spain's Repsol, Malaysia's Petronas and even Venezuela's PDVSA -- have been a bust.

Frankly, this was predictable since Brazil's Petrobras and Canada's Sherritt stated in 2011 such ventures were not commercially-viable. Yet, like with all things Cuba, they begin with a big media flurry until reality strikes.

Speaking of changes, I'd be remiss not to mention that one significant and tangible change that has taken place in Cuba under Raul Castro is a dramatic rise in repression.

In 2012, documented political arrests of peaceful democracy activists reached the highest levels (6,602) in decades. These have been accompanied by the mysterious deaths of some of Cuba's leading pro-democracy figures, including the founder of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan, and the head of the Christina Liberation Movement and author of the Varela Project, Oswaldo Paya.

Impunity still reigns in Cuba.

If the Cuban people are prohibited from engaging in foreign commerce, then who is the Cuban counter-part for foreign investors?

The armed forces' holding company, called GAESA, is the dominant force in the Cuban economy. Founded by Raul Castro in the 1990s, GAESA controls a wide array of companies, ranging from the very profitable Gaviota S.A., which runs the island's tourist hotels, restaurants, car rentals and nightclubs, to TRD Caribe S.A., which runs all retail operations. In plain words: GAESA controls virtually every economic transaction in Cuba, making it -- by far -- the most powerful company in Cuba's totalitarian-command economy.  It is run by Raul's son-in-law, Colonel Luis Alberto Rodríguez Lopez- Callejas.

(Reports from Cuba indicate that Raul's daughter Deborah is divorcing Lopez-Callejas, who has a weakness for infidelity and domestic violence, so his days of glory may be counted.)

As relates to the U.S., American companies are prohibited from investing in Cuba or conducting commercial, financial or tourism-related transactions. However, there is one exception: The sale of agricultural commodities, medicines and medical devices, which were legalized on a cash-payment basis by the 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA).

The counter-part in Cuba for these U.S. agricultural sales is a state company called Alimport. Therefore, to speak of "trade with Cuba" is in itself a misrepresentation. To "trade with Cuba" is not about trading with the people or non-state actors; for only one company is allowed to transact business with American exporters for these commodities -- that company is called Alimport.

I'm a regular Cuban citizen, I have a self-employment license, and I want to import rice from Louisiana. I'm not allowed to - even if I had the capital to do so. Only the head of the Cuban government's Alimport, is authorized to import products to Cuba - to the entire island. That's it.

Thus, every dollar that the nearly 200 companies from 35 U.S. states have transacted in agricultural sales with Cuba since TSREEA has only had one Cuban counterpart.

I always jest with my colleagues from the various farm bureaus and trade associations that we should be forthright and call it "trade with Alimport," or "trade with the Cuban government" -- or mercantilism, which Adam Smith rightly defined as antithetical to trade.

What is the future of U.S. policy towards Cuba?

The US has a dual track policy towards Cuba. It seeks to - first and foremost -- provide support to the constantly besieged Cuban civil society (by civil society, I'm referring to opposition groups, religious organizations, independent journalists, and other marginalized, independent - and therefore illegal -- trade groups); while -secondly -- denying hard currency and resources to the Cuban dictatorship. In other words, U.S. policy seeks to weaken the Cuban government's absolute monopoly over power and resources, in order to help the Cuban civil society create some sort of "playing field" for itself, despite the grossly disproportionate circumstances it faces.

Within this context, U.S. policy sees sanctions as an important tool that not only denies resources to the regime, but also provides important moral and political support to the Cuban civil society. However, U.S. sanctions towards Cuba are not defined indefinitely, they are subject to conditions, and have been specifically codified into U.S. law as such.  Since 1996 -- with the codification of this policy -- the power to ease or terminate sanctions shifted from the executive to the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

According to law, the U.S. will only lift the remaining sanctions and normalize relations with the Cuba when three essential conditions are met:  1. the unconditional release of all political prisoners, 2. the recognition and respect of the fundamental human, political, and economic rights of the Cuban people, and 3. opposition parties are legalized leading to free and fair elections.

Currently, there is strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for this law. Thus, these conditions are unlikely to change in the new 113th Congress. I'm not going to blow smoke at you and tell you otherwise.

Moreover, even some long-time Congressional advocates of unilaterally lifting these conditions - by changing the law - in order to further facilitate the terms and financing of agricultural sales have taken a hiatus from these efforts, as the Cuban government has imprisoned an American development worker, Alan Gross, who has been held hostage since December 2009. Mr. Gross had been helping the island's small Jewish community with Internet connectivity when he was arrested.

(Not only is Cuba one of the least-free economies in the world, it is also one of the most hostile to Internet connectivity.)

Speaking of financing, Cuba also remains one of the world's greatest credit risks. With a debt of $30.5 billion dollars, Cuba ranks second on the Paris Club's list of debtor countries.  Indonesia ranks first with a debt of $40.2 billion -- despite a population 23 times the size of Cuba. Cuba's unpaid debt represents nearly 10% of the Paris Club's total outstanding claims.

Today, the total of nearly $75 billion in foreign debts and claims against the Cuban government is nearly impossible to repay for a country with an economic output barely one-fifth the size of Greece's (similar population to Cuba) own troubled economy.

This is even more troubling considering that in 1959, when the current regime took power, Cuba had foreign exchange reserves totaling $387 million -- worth more than $3.6 billion today adjusted for inflation. Cuba's reserves were third in Latin America, behind only those of Venezuela and Brazil, despite having just a fraction of the population.

The good news is that the U.S. currently has zero credit exposure to Cuba, as U.S. law prohibits the extension of credit to the Cuban government.

However, the Cuban government still has not paid compensation for the approximately $8 billion worth of property that was confiscated from U.S. citizens. Let's not forget that this remains the largest uncompensated taking of American property by any foreign government in the history the U.S. Outstanding claims range from companies like Coca-Cola, to Ford, to Texaco, to Chase Manhattan Bank.

As previously stated, I have mostly focused on the U.S. Congress because the executive branch can only authorize the commercial and financial transactions with Cuba that have been previously mandated by Congress. President Obama has the authority to modify regulations related to purposeful travel, e.g. family, religious and academic travel, and remittances - and he has amply done so. Yet, even in this case, tourism-related transactions ("tourism travel") were codified into law in 2000 - and only Congress can authorize them.

What's next?

The current Cuban government, since its taking of power in 1959, has always survived off subsidies. With the exception of a brief period in the 1990's, foreign subsidies have always been Cuba's main source of income.

First, the Soviet Union provided $6 billion dollars in yearly subsidies through 1991. Cuba received more money from the Soviets than all of Europe received from the U.S. Marshall Plan after World War II.

Thereafter, Venezuela has provided $10 billion dollars in yearly subsidies since 1998.

With the pending passing of Hugo Chavez, the Cuban government is looking for its third major subsidy -- though I doubt there will be any takers -- or as the drama in a Havana hospital unfolds; they are figuring out how to somehow keep Hugo Chavez and his cronies on ice.

Moreover, with Fidel Castro at 86-years old and Raul Castro at 81-years old - and their appointed successor Jose Ramon Machado Ventura at 82-years old - it's safe to say time is not on their side.

Cubans are extremely smart people, they know that it is not the U.S. or sanctions that prohibit them from freely expressing themselves; that keeps them from entering and enjoying those beautiful resorts, with their restaurants and bars owned by the military; that keep them enjoying the fruits of their labor; or that keeps them from choosing their own destiny. It is the Cuban government that does so.

Furthermore, Cubans on the island know what democratic ideals are. In many cases, they have given the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of those ideals. Let's not forget, Cuba has the largest prison population - per capita - in the world. Ten percent of the Cuban population has died, either trying to cross the Florida Straits, executed or imprisoned. Add to that another ten percent that has been exiled. Those are Stalin-Mao proportions.

So the questions remain:

Do we make a short-term investment in Cuba's current fledgling government that monopolizes the lives of Cubans, or do we make a long-term investment in its future leaders?

Do you want to deal with a trading partner that is as poor as North Korea, or would you rather deal with a neighbor as rich as South Korea?

Do we want to be in the position that European companies recently found themselves in post-Qaddafi Libya or two decades ago in post-apartheid South Africa -- begging for forgiveness and scrambling for the opportunity to renegotiate deals with the former victims of those dictatorships?

Or, do we want to be in a position of market preference -- eventually gaining what I like to call a "freedom premium" -- similar to that which Coca-Cola enjoyed in the former Soviet bloc pursuant to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Hopefully, the answer will be the latter.

In a bit of corporate history, Pepsi first entered the Soviet Union in 1972, pursuant to a barter agreement in exchange for Stolichnaya vodka. Pepsi was infamously perceived to have been deeply entrenched with the communist government. Meanwhile, Coca Cola didn't make a move until the fall of the Iron Curtain.

However,immediately upon the fall of the Berlin Wall, Coca-Cola's former CEO Roberto Goizueta made sure that every automobile that crossed the border received free cases of Coke and those on foot got six-packs and single cans.

Perhaps Goizueta, a Cuban-American, who experienced first-hand what it was like to be a victim of oppression, instinctively knew that those newly-free would reward them in some fashion -- for they stood in solidarity with them during their darkest hour.

Tom Standage, author of "A History of the World in 6 Glasses," a book that divides world history into the beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola ages - notes that when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, East Germans began buying Coca-Cola by the crate-load:

"Drinking Coca-Cola became a symbol of freedom."

In 1991 Pepsi was outselling Coca-Cola 10-to-1 in the former Soviet Union. By 1994, Coca-Cola gained the lead, and retains it to this day.

Even more broadly, it is not a mere coincidence that the countries of Eastern Europe, who lived through similar ordeals, are the staunchest allies the U.S. has in the world today.

So let's focus on the big prize: a free and democratic Cuba that within a decade could --once again -- become one of the richest countries in the Western Hemisphere. This will not be because of its beaches and natural resources -- that only goes so far -- but because of its people. Note I haven't even mentioned Cuba's emblematic sugar and tobacco industries, which are in shambles.

An economy based on imagination, creativity, risk-taking and hard-work needs a rule of law and political freedoms. Cubans have proven this ability from the moment they set foot in exile, whether in the U.S. or in any other democratic country in the world.

And in the meantime, let's work on re-orienting some of those Canadian and European tourists visiting Cuba and bring them here to Disney World, Universal Studios and to enjoy all that Central Florida offers.

Thank you so much. I look forward to your questions.

miércoles, diciembre 26, 2012

Chilling Economic Report Terrifies CEOs

The Blaze/  
“This Chilling Economic Report Is Getting Passed Around By CEOs.”
That’s the headline greeting readers on the site Business Insider Christmas morning. The report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is titled, “Ending the Era of Ponzi Finance: Ten Steps Developed Economies Must Take.”
“The biggest [Ponzi scheme] … is still ongoing: the Ponzi scheme of the developed economies,” the report says near the beginning. “It is not simply that the developed world has borrowed significantly from future wealth to fund today’s consumption, leading to huge burdens for the next generation. It has also reduced the potential for future economic growth, making it more difficult for the next generation to deal with this legacy.”
That’s heavy. And it only gets more heavy from there. So we’ve decided to distill it down to the best takeaways from the report and the write-up on Business Insider since the BCG requires you to sign up to read it (it’s free, but still we thought some of you might not want to). Think of it as a little dose of salt to go with your Christmas dinner (sometimes salt is good, sometimes it’s bad — and from our reading of the suggestions the report offers, there’s both cases):
1. “The West was not going to find its way to the right economic path with a little tweaking at the edges, the CEO said. What is needed is a wholesale overhaul of the economic system to tackle record levels of public and private debt.” — from Business Insider
2. A summary of the report’s findings:
Mr Stelter and his colleagues do offer some solutions. First, there has to be an acknowledgement that some debts will never be repaid and should be restructured. Holders of the debt, be they countries or companies, should be allowed to default, whatever the short-term pain of such a process.
In social policy, retirement ages will have to increase. People will have to work harder, for longer and should be encouraged to do so by changes in benefit levels that do little – at their present level – to reward work at the margin.
The size of the state should be radically reduced and immigration encouraged. Competition in labour markets through supply-side reforms should be pursued.
Where governments can proactively act – by backing modern infrastructure – they should. High-growth economies are built on modern railways, airports, roads and energy supplies. Allowing potholes to develop in your local roads is a symptom of a wider malaise and cash-rich corporates should be pushed, through tax incentives, to invest their money in developed as well as emerging economies. Energy efficiency – to save money, not the planet – should be promoted.
3. And now some specifics, such as what the report says will need to be done with taxes on the wealthy (emphasis added):
The critical starting point is to accept the fact that many of today’s debts will never be repaid and to embrace debt restructuring and defaults. Current policies, designed to avoid that outcome, only postpone the ultimate resolution of the crisis and will result in even bigger losses down the road. Better to move quickly and act now, despite the likelihood of considerable near-term pain.
All stakeholders will have to contribute to the necessary cleanup. Creditors and holders of financial assets will have to accept losses. Taxpayers will have to accept higher taxes—with a special burden on the wealthy, because unless politicians begin to address the unequal distribution of income and wealth, they will not have the credibility to implement other painful measures needed to get the developed world back on track. As difficult as that will be, especially for those who have been prudent and saved for retirement, the sooner the developed economies bite the bullet, the sooner everyone will be able to repair their personal balance sheets before they retire. Otherwise, we risk experiencing a lost decade—or more—in which the fundamental underlying problems are not resolved and the value of current savings continually erodes.
– from the BCG report
4. However, it also suggest raising the retirement age (backlash against which has been severe in Europe) while also suggesting more “managed” healthcare (emphasis added):
• Raise the retirement age. As unpopular as this measure will be, it is the most important lever to reduce future costs. In an era of shrinking workforces, the math simply doesn’t work. The sooner the public knows what to expect, the sooner it will be able to plan for this scenario. Seen in this light, recent political initiatives toward earlier retirement, as we are currently witnessing in France, are extremely counterproductive.
• Reduce social-insurance payments. Even with a higher retirement age, it will be necessary, at least in some developed countries, to also reduce future payouts. Again, the sooner the public has a clear picture of what the changes will be and when, the sooner it can begin to prepare for them.
• Manage health care systems for greater efficiency. In many countries, especially the U.S., health care is the primary driver of increased government spending. But higher spending on health care is not necessarily a sign of better health outcomes. Although the U.S. spends 17.6 percent of GDP on health care, U.S. life expectancy is between 1.7 and 3 years less than it is in the U.K. (which spends only 9.6 percent of GDP on health care) and in France and Germany (which spend 11.6 percent). The health care systems of the developed countries—and not just the U.S.—offer huge potential for more efficiency with no loss in effectiveness. (See “Health Reform Should Focus on Outcomes, Not Costs,” BCG article, October 2012.)
– from the BCG report
5. But wait, there’s another set of conservative-style suggestions (emphasis added):
• Increase the efficiency of the social-welfare system. The administrative costs of welfare systems is an area ripe for rationalization. One change to consider is replacing traditional means testing, which can very quickly become highly bureaucratic and resource intensive, with a guaranteed minimum income. An idea supported in the past by liberals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith, but also by conservatives such as Friedrich Hayek, Richard Nixon, and Milton Friedman, a guaranteed minimum income has the advantage of eliminating most procedures for means testing and freeing up resources traditionally used in the allocation and distribution of money.
• Free up the public-sector workforce. It is also important to reduce the number of public employees as a percentage of the overall population. In a period when labor will become increasingly scarce, it is critical that as many people as possible actually generate GDP (rather than merely consuming and redistributing it). This is not to say that public-service employees do not contribute to the overall welfare of society. But in a world of scarcity, the tradeoffs become more visible. And government inefficiencies are significant, especially in European countries.
• Implement structural reforms. Besides reforming social-welfare and retirement systems, it is important to maximize the economic potential of the economy. Therefore efforts to increase competition, by abolishing rules that block new entrants, and to increase the flexibility of labor markets need to be implemented fast. According to a study by the IMF, the growth potential of economies in Western Europe could be increased by 4.5 percent over five years through the adoption of such measures.
– from the BCG report
6. Here are the rest of the suggestions:
Develop smart immigration policy
Invest in education
Reinvest in the asset base
Increase raw-material efficiency
• Cooperate on a global basis
Launch the next Kondratiev wave
– from the BCG report
7. “There needs to be a radical rethink of the way the West organises itself. Many of the ideas of Mr Stelter and his team are the right ones, although the tax burden being what it is in the UK, many would find it hard to stomach the thought of more tax rises that the BCG report recommends. At some point the relationship between taxed income and willingness to innovate turns negative.
“I would suggest the UK is very near that point.”
So there you have it. Having read that, you are now up to speed on the “chilling” report circulating among financial top brass. But if you want to dive more into it, we suggest reading the full report. There are other nuggets in there, and it will also help the numbering (​I thought there were only supposed to be 10 suggestions?)make sense.

domingo, octubre 21, 2012

Economists Need To Learn How The World Works

Complete program available for free at http://fora.tv/2012/09/21/future_of_finance

Dr. Paul Wilmott, an expert in quantitative finance, explains how most economists don't have real world business experience. In his opinion, economists have theories that aren't based on reality.

sábado, agosto 25, 2012

Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace

Cy Tokmakjian
Until this spring, Stephen Purvis had it all. The British architect, who’d helped launch the Saratoga, Cuba’s poshest hotel, was one of the more prominent figures in Havana’s business community. As chief operating officer of Coral Capital, one of Cuba’s biggest private investors, he was overseeing a planned $500-million resort in the sleepy fishing village of Guanabo. The Bellomonte resort, which would allow foreigners to buy Cuban property for the first time, was part of Havana’s ambitious, multi-billion-dollar plan to attract high-end tourists and badly needed foreign exchange. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. The musical Purvis produced in his spare time, Havana Rakatan, had a run at the Sydney Opera House last year before moving on to London’s West End. But in April, the 51-year-old was arrested on suspicion of corruption as he prepared to walk his kids to school in Havana.
Purvis’s arrest could have been anticipated. Coral Capital’s British-born CEO, Amado Fakhre, has been held without charges ever since his arrest in a dawn raid last fall. The investment firm is being liquidated, and both men have faced questioning at Villa Marista, Cuba’s notorious counter-intelligence headquarters. They are not alone. Since last summer, dozens of senior Cuban managers and foreign executives, including two Canadians, have been jailed in an investigation that has shocked and terrified foreigners who do business in the country.
Since replacing his brother Fidel as president in 2008, Raúl Castro has painted himself as a reformer, and Cuba as a place where foreign businesses can thrive. Over the last year, he has relaxed property rights, expanded land leases and licensed a broad, if random, list of businesses—everything from pizza joints to private gyms. And he’s endorsed joint venture golf courses, marinas and new manufacturing projects. Canadians are chief among those heeding Raúl’s call to do business with Havana. Hundreds have expressed interest in the Cuban market in the last year alone, according to Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service. Flattering reports in Canadian media have praised Raúl’s efforts. Yet they seem to overlook troubling signs that Cuba appears to be moving backwards.
Raúl’s sweeping changes were meant to pave the way for massive foreign investment in Cuba. The country, which was forced to lay off 20 per cent of its public workforce last year, is barely as developed as Haiti, and will need an influx of foreign cash to stay afloat. There is urgency to the project. Time is running out for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Cuba’s benefactor, who funds the country to the tune of $10 billion a year, says José Azel, a University of Miami research associate. At home, Chávez, who is sick with cancer, is also fighting off a tough challenge from Henrique Capriles in presidential elections slated for October. His successor will almost certainly cut Cuba’s generous aid package to deal with Venezuela’s own needs.
So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.
Few are more keenly aware of the pitfalls of doing business in the new Cuba as a pair of Canadians sitting in jail in Havana. It has been more than a year since Sarkis Yacoubian, the president of Tri-Star Caribbean, a trading firm with headquarters in Nova Scotia, was detained in the Cuban capital. And September will be the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Cy Tokmakjian, the president of a trading company based in Concord, Ont. He and Yacoubian have both been imprisoned without charges. Their assets now belong to Cuba. No trial date has been announced.   More >>

jueves, mayo 17, 2012

The Economics of For-Profit Prisons

The Times-Picayune reports on Louisiana’s prison ecosystem — and the perverse incentives for sheriffs to keep inmate numbers high:
Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.
The hidden engine behind the state’s well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.
Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.
If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.
The article has some excellent infographics, including one that shows world and state incarceration rates.
(HT: Katherine Wells)

jueves, mayo 10, 2012

La Empresa EMIAT o la Seguridad del Estado como gerente comercial

Stasi-Minint Connection/
"Cuba reveló este jueves el nombre de las seis compañías locales que tienen 100% de las acciones de su monopolio de telecomunicaciones Etecsa, tras comprar el 27% que poseía el Grupo Telcom Italia y tomar el control total de la empresa por primera vez desde que fue creada en 1994.Con la compra, Telefónica Antillana S.A tiene 51% de las acciones; Rafin 27%; Universal Trade & Management Corporation S,A (Utisa) 11%; Banco Financiero Internacional 6,15%; Negocios en Telecomunicaciones 3,8%; y Banco Internacional de Comercio 0,9%, según un acuerdo del Consejo de Ministros publicado este jueves en la Gaceta Oficial.Rafin, entidad financiera no bancaria de Cuba, compró las acciones de Telcom Italia el 31 de enero por 706 millones de dólares, 500 millones desembolsados de inmediato y el resto en 36 pagos mensuales, anunció el grupo italiano en Milán."Fuente: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/02/03/880708/gobierno-cimenta-monopolio-de.html#ixzz1D0ELuxod

La Seguridad del Estado Como Agente Comercial: El Caso de la Empresa EMIAT- Berlin, febrero 4 /2011 Jorge Luis García Vázquez/ (Artículo publicado originalmente por el autor en Misceláneas de Cuba) Hace algunos días haciendo un análisis de la situación económica de Cuba y la ex-RDA hasta 1990 y de sus empresas exportadoras e importadoras, encontré, en los archivos de la STASI, algunos datos sobre la Empresa EMIAT, sus contactos y negocios con "firmas" socialistas". En este caso se trata de las empresas Delta GmbH y K u A (Arte y Antigüedades). Ambas compañías actuaban bajo las órdenes del Ministerio para la Seguridad del Estado de Alemania Oriental y del Departamento Kommerzielle Koordinierung (Ko Ko), homóloga del castrista Departamento MC, de cuya existencia los cubanos tuvimos conocimiento tras el juicio y los fusilamientos del Coronel Tony La Guardia y del General Ochoa en 1989. Mientras Ko Ko, Delta y las firmas comerciales de la Stasi "desaparecieron" * durante los turbulentos años 1989/90, la EMIAT continuaría sus negocios e incluso intentaba llegar al mercado norteamericano. (*Nota: muchas empresas pasaron a ser propiedad de ex.oficiales de la STASI. Axel Hilpert, uno de los agentes comerciales en el convenio con la EMIAT, recibió el grado honorífico de Coronel del Ministerio del Interior de Cuba. En el año 1990 testificó un fraudulento negocio de sellos postales falsificados entre Cuba y Alemania Oriental, declaración que posteriormente retiró. También estuvo involucrado en el envío de armamento hacia Cuba. Actualmente el señor Hilpert es dueño de un lucrativo centro turístico en Alemania) 1 Desde los años ochenta, EMIAT es una firma comercial cubana establecida y reconocida por la Cámara de Comercio de Cuba y de otras naciones. http://www.icpcredit.com/Companies/EMIAT__Empresa_Importadora_y_Exportadora_de_Suministros/350834.company Documentos desclasificados de los Archivos para la Seguridad del Estado (Stasi), nos demuestran como EMIAT, utilizando fachada comercial, cumplía órdenes del Ministerio del Interior de Cuba. Un Informe realizado después de la visita a Cuba de una delegación de Delta/K u A, en Septiembre de 1987, confirmaba: "EMIAT es una organización subordinada al Ministerio del Interior de laRepública de Cuba que suministra y abastece las casas de visita delComité Central y del Gobierno. Es a la vez una organización comercialdel Minint." La delegación fue atendida por el General de Brigada Santiago Borges Rodríguez, Raúl Olivero Boán, Secretario de la Embajada de Cuba en la ex RDA, y el Tte. Coronel Enrique Sánchez, Presidente de la EMIAT. También fueron recibidos por Ricardo Cabrisas, ex Ministro de Comercio Exterior, Abrahan Maciques, Presidente de la Corporación Cubanacán y del Palacio de las Convenciones. Otros Ministerios contactados: Cubafrutas, Ministerio para la Industria Básica, Coprefil, Ediciones Cubanas, Cubaindustrias y Cubaexport. Negocios y contratos realizados: Producción de muebles para su exportación hacia Suecia(IKEA) en los años 1988-89 con un valor total de 12 Millones de Marcos; textiles así como 10.000 toneladas de zumo de toronjas para su re-exportación a la RFA, valor 4,5 millones de Marcos Federales; 200.000 botellas de Ron y 200.000 tabacos. k u A ordenó el envío de 3 contenedores con muebles antiguos. La parte cubana pidió apoyo en la venta de Oldtimers (autos americanos antiguos). "400 Oldtimer están listos para ser exportados". "Cubanacán y Cubalse desean utilizar las líneas de ventas de K u A para exportar antigüedades a países occidentales."(responsable de estas ventas en la Corporación Cubanacan en 1987 era un hermano de Valdez Vivó , persona muy simpática que conocí personalmente durante mi corta estancia como guía turístico en esta empresa, de la que fui expulsado por no ser "confiable". Nota del autor) El informe de los "compañeros com "erciantes" no se diferencia en mucho de otros contratos legales. Pero continúa con la siguiente anotación: Se realizaron visitas a los centros de producción. Parcialmente estoscentros se encuentran en establecimientos penitenciarios del Minint.EMIAT desea aumentar el uso de estas instalaciones para la fabricaciónde productos para la exportación." El Sr. Cabrisas, con respecto a las negociaciones con las firmas alemanas, expresó: "Esta cooperación ha sido autorizada por el Cro.Fidel Castro",deseamos intensificar estas ventas."(sic) El contrato firmado el 26 de Septiembre de 1987 en la Habana comprendía ventas desde muebles, mariscos, café, antigüedades, metales preciosos, autos antiguos y hasta sarcófagos. No sé si las compañías que actualmente negocian con EMIAT saben con quién están tratando. No conozco otro país con tantos Generales y Coroneles comerciantes.El poder económico de Cuba está en sus manos. Los únicos ganadores y los que se embolsaban las ganancias, durante la "Guerra Fría" eran los Partidos Comunistas y sus cuerpos represivos . Esto en Cuba no cambiado. Fuentes: Archivos del Ministerio para la Seguridad del Estado . BSTU, Berlin. "Conexión La Habana-Berlin . Secretos de Estado y Notas sobre la Colaboración entre la STASI y el MININT" www.stasi-minint.blogspot.com 1 Reports to the Stasi by a KoKo colleague in late 1987 describe the trip. The Cubans were so happy with Mr. Hilpert's help they made him an honorary colonel, and gave him a Cuban uniform with a colonel's insignia. They also paid for his return flight, first class. Back in East Germany, a Los Angeles arms dealer agreed to pay $140,000 for 2,200 Colt .45-caliber pistols -- the bulk of the Cubans' merchandise. http://forum.m1911.org/archive/index.php/t-30875.html

miércoles, mayo 09, 2012


Por Andrés Pascual
      Nadie puede negar que Floyd Mayweather jr es un virtuoso de las relaciones públicas, el tipo sabe  cómo se exprime la naranja.
      A través de su carrera profesional ha logrado desarrollar una popularidad ambivalente que, quizás, nunca antes se vio en el boxeo: un 70 % que quiere verlo caer, si muerto, mejor y un 30 % que lo aprecia como persona, pero en el gettho.
      El resultado es que el 100 % compran los paquetes de PPV como no hacen con nadie: Floyd en television quiere decir todo el mundo atado al aparato, bien por bajas pasiones, como por las pocas simpatías que despierta en algunos.
      “El tipo es un engreído, no le ha ganado a nadie, mono, mico, mándenlo para África…” es lo menos que se puede leer o escuchar con respecto al pugilista; sin embargo, tal vez esos epítetos agresivos contra la decencia no molesten a lo mínimo al estilista, porque, a no dudarlo, con su comportamiento, con su personalidad, los fabrica para provecho propio, por eso hay que pagarle tanto.
       El individuo ha sido tan inteligente que, después de prácticamente casi noquear a Miguel Cotto en la postrimería del pleito, con 10 rounds a su cuenta en las tarjetas, se echó al publico boricua en los bolsillos al ofrecerle un premio Consolación al perdedor y a su fanaticada, que consistió en alabar la actuación del borinqueño a extremos de “lo más fuerte que he encontrado en mi camino hasta hoy”, eso, más un poco de sangre por la nariz y por un labio interior, contentó a un público que, antes de la pelea, no le daba oportunidades al americano, así de ciego estaba, además de querer matarlo gratis sin móvil aparente.
       Mayweather jr, criado entre leones, conoce bien la reaccion del fanático del boxeo; a fin de cuentas, tan humana como cualquier otra, por lo que pudiera parecer poco el premio que le dio a Cotto; sin embargo, para sus intereses es enorme, después de todo, hoy pudiera ser que un 35 % de boricuas lo vean desde otra órbita, solo porque reconoció la grandeza pírrica del gladiador caído.
      Al tipo no le dicen “Money” porque tenga mucho dinero, sino porque sabe cómo hacerlo en el negocio. El boxeador que quiera hacer billetes tiene que pelear con él, regla de oro del boxeo en este momento.

viernes, diciembre 16, 2011

This Is How McDonald's Plans To Take Over The World

War Room/  Kim Bhasin
McDonald's is booming, despite all the economic destruction going on around it.
It has been the second-best performing stock in the Dow in 2011. In Q3 it beat revenue and profit projections yet again, its stock is up 63% in the last three years and same store sales continued to climb for the 103rd month, reports Julie Jargon at the Wall Street Journal.
The success goes back further than that, too. Since 1980, McDonald's has absolutely blown away some of the biggest Dow blue chips around (like IBM, DIS, GE and XOM), notes Bespoke Investment Group.
Meanwhile, competitors like Burger King and Wendy's continue to try new things as they fight each other for the #2 spot, but they're still leagues behind. McDonald's just keeps dominating, and it now has upwards of 33,000 stores worldwide. Yet somehow it's still expanding, and in more ways than one.
So, how's McDonald's doing it? Its powerful brand and sheer size are two big, dependable advantages that it can always lean on.
But just being McDonald's isn't enough — it's doing a lot, domestically and globally, to stay ahead. Here are ten strategies that are keeping McDonald's barreling forward:

Read more: Here >>
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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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