Cuba Will Lose One Million People In Next Decade / 14ymedio, Abel Fernandez, Mario Penton

Cuba will continue to have the oldest population in Latin America. (14ymedio / Luz Escobar)
Cuba will continue to have the oldest population in Latin America. (14ymedio / Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Abel Fernandez and Mario Penton, Miami, 29 April 2016 — By 2025, the Cuban population will be reduced to 10 million. The dramatic demographic change on the island—from 11 million to 10 million inhabitants—is propelled by the low rates of fertility and birth, and an elevated emigration, a group of experts recently explained at Florida International University.

In addition, Cuba will continue to have the oldest population in Latin America. Currently, 19% of its inhabitants are over 60, and forecasts indicated that this figure will reach 30% in less than a decade.

“Life expectancy is not the same as aging,” said Dr. Antonio Aja Diaz from the Center for Demographic Studies at the University of Havana. In Cuba, life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low. But birth and fertility are also low. These demographic characteristics, Aja said, “are processes that occur in highly developed countries.”

“In developed countries, mortality, birth and fertility are low, but they do not lose population because they receive immigration,” said Aja. “But that is not the case for Cuba.”

Until the late 1930s, the island was receiving immigrants. Since that decade, emigration has been sustained, with large fluctuations during mass exoduses of the past century—the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis of the 1990s—and most recently, the exodus through South America that still continues.

According to Aja, “Cuba could not even compete from the point of view of in-migration with the Dominican Republic,” with regards to attracting migrants. One of the main problems of the island is that people who migrate are generally younger and in the fullest years of their productive and reproductive capacity.

According to Dr. Sergio Diaz Brioquets, another panelist, emigration from Cuba is a phenomenon that will continue. “The Cuban government has for decades promoted emigration of the political opposition,” he said.

As for fertility, between 2010 and 2015 Cuba had an average of 1.63 children per woman, the lowest fertility rate in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The early years of the republic were years of high fertility and population growth, a trend that continued until 1930. Then began a process of decline until the years 1959-1960. In 1978, Cuba fell below replacement level, which is usually established as an average of 2.1 children per woman. On the island, the downward trend has continued to the present.

According to experts, the composition of the 10 million Cubans who will remain on the island in 2015 will bring a number of challenges, among them ethical values and interpersonal relationship. With regards to the family, and in particular Cuban women, they will face a series of responsibilities that will worsen with the aging population. “In Cuba, the job of caring for the elderly falls mainly on the woman,” explained Aja.

On the other hand, wages in the island have decreased to 73% of their real value, said Dr. Carmela Mesa Lago, a renowned expert on the Cuban economy. In addition, self-employed workers, a growing sector of the economy, are at risk of not accumulating pensions and not receiving social assistance.

Panama Prepares The Final Transfer Of Cubans To Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Cuban children remain with their parents in Panama to wait to continue the route to the US. (Silvio Enrique Campos, a Cuban immigrant in Panama)
Cuban children remain with their parents in Panama to wait to continue the route to the US. (Silvio Enrique Campos, a Cuban immigrant in Panama)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 29 April 2016 — The Panamanian Foreign Ministry has begun to take a census of more than 670 Cuban migrants in the hostel of Los Planes in the province of Chiriqui, in anticipation of their transfer to Mexico in the coming days. Another three thousand Cubans, most stranded on the border with Costa Rica, will also benefit from this operation, the last of its type, according to the Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela on Thursday.

“Starting from the completion of transfer operation of the Cubans counted in the census, those who enter later will have to make a decision about what country they want to return to; we can’t become a permanent logistical support for the trafficking of migrants,” warned the Panamanian president. Continue reading “Panama Prepares The Final Transfer Of Cubans To Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Central Bank Denies Rumor About Devaluation Of Cuban Convertible Peso / 14ymedio

A line outside a currency exchange (Cadeca) Friday, amid rumors of a reduction in the value of Cuban convertible pesos CUC. (14ymedio)
A line outside a currency exchange (Cadeca) Friday, amid rumors of a reduction in the value of Cuban convertible pesos CUC. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 29 April 2016 — The Central Bank of Cuba on Friday denied a possible reduction in the value of the Cuban convertible pesos. State financial institution reported that “the exchange rate remains at 24 Cuban pesos per one Cuban convertible peso for sales of CUC by the population at banks and Cadeca (currency exchanges).”

For several days the lines in front of currency exchanges had been lengthening due to the growing rumors of a fall in the value of the CUC. However, the Central Bank says the rumor as “false information about the reduction in the exchange rage that is currently applied.”

The explanatory note published in the official press notes that “the report to the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party confirmed, once more, the decision to guarantee bank deposits in foreign currency, Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) and Cuban pesos (CUP, as well as cash held by the population.”

Why Is the Official Press Crying Over the Fall in Oil Prices? / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

Nicolas Maduro enters the SAAC (South America and Arab countries) Summit on Wednesday in Riyadh. (Presidential press)
Nicolas Maduro enters the SAAC (South America and Arab countries) Summit on Wednesday in Riyadh. (Presidential press)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 26 April 2016 — All of my life I’ve heard from mouth of the main leaders of the country that the high prices for many of the products sold in Cuba are caused, among other variables, by the “high cost of fuel on the world market.” This, according to them, raises the price of production processes inside and outside the country, creating an upward spiral that affects the price of goods and services.

“What small and underdeveloped economy can grow with prices of 126 dollars barrel of oil? Only rich countries can pay that, those who want the world to continue to be the same so that the South can’t develop. The imperialists are like this, they want to dominate the world according to their own desires.” Phrases like these were heard everyday on TV programs like The Roundtable.

Today, oil prices have fallen by nearly 75 percent, and the newspaper Granma acknowledges that this affected the recently announced “price adjustments” of certain products the government sells in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC).

Then, I wonder: What are Oliver Zamora Oria and all official Cuban journalists who speak on the subject doing accusing U.S. and Saudi Arabia of “not cooperating” with the intention of some OPEC members to increase prices ? Isn’t Cuba, a net importer of fuels, greatly benefited, like most of the planet, by the current prices?

In my opinion, we should be jumping for joy, because I assume that if we can afford cheaper crude oil, then the agricultural sectors , transport, energy, industry etc. will be stimulated… What is the point of the strange anger of the Cuban Government press about the failure of the last meeting held in Doha, Qatar?

Many can be the interests that move the editorial decisions of the media monopoly in Cuba. But, definitely, the general interests of the nation and a greater benefit for the public are not part of them.

Translated by Alberto

‘The World and my Cuba in El Diario’ by Uva de Aragon / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea

Cover of "The World and My Cuba in 'El Diario' " by Uva de Aragon
Cover of “The World and My Cuba in ‘El Diario’ ” by Uva de Aragon

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, José Gabriel Barrenechea Jose, Santa Clara, Cuba, 28 April 2016 – The World and My Cuba in ‘El Diario’ is a very difficult book to read, not for its style, which could not be more direct and comprehensive, but for the heavy emotional weight concentrated in each of its brief articles. The reader can do nothing more than take long breaks after reading them, in hopes that at some point this fiber that resonates through us finally stops, so that we can finally assimilate the sledgehammer of feelings and ideas with which the author has confronted us. I confess, for example, that after reading My Father and the Moon and My Mother and the Candy I had to put down the book I had just started reading for another day. Continue reading “‘The World and my Cuba in El Diario’ by Uva de Aragon / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea”

Former Political Prisoners Say US Failed on Promise To Bring Their Families From Cuba / 14ymedio, Abel Fernandez, Mario Penton

Former Cuban political prisoners Niorvis Rivera (left) Aracelio Riviaux and Jorge Ramirez (right) speak with staff for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (Courtesy)
Former Cuban political prisoners Niorvis Rivera (left) Aracelio Riviaux and Jorge Ramirez (right) speak with staff for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Abel Fernandez and Mario Penton, Miami, 28 April 2016 – Former Cuban political prisoners Niorvis Rivera, Aracelio Riviaux and Jorge Ramirezmet Thursday in Miami with staff for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for help in bringing their relatives from Cuba.

The three were part of the group of 53 dissidents released as part of negotiations between Cuba and the United States that allowed the return to the island of the Cuban spies still in American prisons. But shortly after their release, the opposition members had been returned to prison. Continue reading “Former Political Prisoners Say US Failed on Promise To Bring Their Families From Cuba / 14ymedio, Abel Fernandez, Mario Penton”

Two Russian Deputies Propose Reestablishing Signal Intercept Station in Cuba / 14ymedio

Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin
Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin

14ymedio biggerTwo Russian Deputies put forward a proposal to President Vladimir Putin to study the reestablishment of the Lourdes signals interception center in Cuba, as well as the deployment of Russian missile launchers on the island “to protect the interests of Moscow and its allies,” as local media reported this Wednesday.

The initiative comes as a response to the agreement between the United States and Turkey which will allow the deployment in May of high mobility tactical missiles (Himars) in the Southeast part of the Ottoman country, near the border with Syria, to deal with attacks by the jihadist group the Islamic State. Continue reading “Two Russian Deputies Propose Reestablishing Signal Intercept Station in Cuba / 14ymedio”

“The opposition has not matured,” Laments Martha Beatriz Roque / 14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz

Martha Beatriz Roque. (14ymedio)
Martha Beatriz Roque. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz, Havana, 28 April 2016 —  Martha Beatriz Roque has returned from Miami after receiving a permit from the Cuban government in late February, which authorized her to leave the country one time. The activist was one of the seven former prisoners of the Black Spring of 2003 who benefited from this permit. She returns with a certain pessimism and a critical impression of the state of the Cuban opposition.

Lilianne Ruiz. You returned from abroad after permission from the Cuban government, which allowed you to make only one trip. What impressions did you bring back from your stay outside the country?

Martha Beatriz Roque. I come back with a tremendous pain in my heart about what I have seen there. In Miami there is the historic exile, who love their country, their fatherland, who talk about democracy, who think about Cuba constantly and who have a great nostalgia for the island, but this historic exile, unfortunately, is getting old and some of its members have died. Continue reading ““The opposition has not matured,” Laments Martha Beatriz Roque / 14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz”

Carriers, Tanks And Trucks, The Ways To Get Water / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

A tanker truck delivers water in the streets of Havana. (14ymedio)
A tanker truck delivers water in the streets of Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 27 April 2016 – Under the hot sun, while passersby seek shade under the balconies, one hears the sound of truck on Jovellar Street in Havana. It goes along loaded with tanks full of water, and as it passes the residents look out their windows and run inside their houses looking for a bucket to fill. The commotion in the neighborhood is reminiscent of holidays, but there is no music, no fun, just a water carrier selling his coveted merchandise door-to-door.

Idalmis, a young mother who lives on the route taken by El Primo, yells from the balcony that she wants to fill her tank. She asks him not to leave, that other neighbors need to store water in jars, pots and even a fish tank. It’s been months since the tanks in their homes have had a drop of water to dampen everything. Continue reading “Carriers, Tanks And Trucks, The Ways To Get Water / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

The Cuban Spice Route / 14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz

An employee selects and packages spices at Purita Industries. (14ymedio)
An employee selects and packages spices at Purita Industries. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz, San Miguel del Padron, 24 April 2016 — The spice route of Purita Industries begins with the pruning camp a short distance from the production workshop. It continues in the room where the machine is, a heated dehydrator designed by a mechanical engineer that processes 200 pounds of plants in 24 hours.

Located in San Miguel del Padron, to reach Purita’s farm you have to cross the Güines highway and continue down Dolores Street “until you can sense the odor of the seasonings,” as a nearby neighbor directs.

The aroma of the spices hits your nose before you enter the little factory. They produce basil, celery, rosemary, chives, tarragon and garlic, all “one hundred percent natural,” according to the producers. They also produce dried peppers, peanuts and shredded coconut. Continue reading “The Cuban Spice Route / 14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz”

A ‘Bishop Of The People’ For A Cuba In Transition / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Juan de la Caridad García, the new archbishop of San Cristobal de Havana.
Juan de la Caridad García, the new archbishop of San Cristobal de Havana.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 26 April 2016 — After nearly 35 years as head of the Archdiocese of Havana, Jaime Ortega y Alamino, the only Cuban cardinal and a crucial figure in the thaw with the United States, has been replaced. Pope Francis decided to accept his resignation, presented since 2011, and appoint in his place Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez, Archbishop of Camagüey, a man who is considered a “bishop of the people” and who is connected to the world of missions.

In an interview by telephone from Camagüey, a few hours after his appointment was confirmed, Garcia said he hopes his episcopate will serve to increase the dialogue with the Cuban government, so that “the Church can be present in spaces that belong to it, such as education, the media and prison ministry.” Continue reading “A ‘Bishop Of The People’ For A Cuba In Transition / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

The Collapse / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Raul Castro, in the presence of Barack Obama, chides a journalist who asks about political prisoners on the island. (EFE)
Raul Castro, in the presence of Barack Obama, chides a journalist who asks about political prisoners on the island. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 26 April 2016 – In films there are final epics. Systems whose final moments pass between the sound of the hammers tearing down a wall and the roar of thousands of people in a plaza. The Castro regime, however, is going through its death throes without glorious images or collective heroics. Its mediocre denouement has become clearer in recent months, in the signs of collapse that can no longer be hidden behind the trappings of the official discourse.

The epilogue of this process, once called Revolution, is strewn with ridiculous and banal events, but they are, indeed, clear symptoms of the end. Like a bad movie with a hurried script and the worst actors, the scenes illustrating the terminal state of this twentieth century fossil seem worthy of a tragicomedy: Continue reading “The Collapse / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

To End Censorship / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

The cover of “Censorship of the Press in the Cuban Revolution,” by Minerva Salado (Verbum Publishing)
The cover of “Censorship of the Press in the Cuban Revolution,” by Minerva Salado (Verbum Publishing)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, If the mid-seventies I had thought to tell Minerva Salado, then my chief editor at Cuba International magazine, that in some forty years she would write a book titled “Censorship of the Press in the Cuban Revolution,” I would have caused enormous problems for myself, only surpassed by that if I had predicted to her my current status as an “unofficial” journalist.

Unveiling the framework of obscenities and subtleties that was woven into the early years of the process called the Cuban Revolution in order to implement strict censorship on the media is a very complex task; what scholars would call “a multidisciplinary task.” Minerva knows this, as a writer, journalist and poet, so in the introduction she warns that her efforts “will have to address the documentary research, personal experience and memory of several generations of journalists and media.” Continue reading “To End Censorship / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

New Prices, Political Will And Productivity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Customers at the Carlos III shopping center in Central Havana this morning waiting expectantly for the reduction in prices on some products announced the night before.
Customers at the Carlos III shopping center in Central Havana this morning waiting expectantly for the reduction in prices on some products announced the night before.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 22 April 2016 – As the journalist Regina Coyula warned, in order to understand what the press in Cuba is saying you have to know “Granmática” (the language of the newspaper Granma) and, even though the note on the first page of the official organ of the Communist Party appears signed by the Minister of Finance and Prices, one has to have read a lot of official editorials, listened to enough speeches by Señor Machado Ventura and dedicated several days to studying what they say on the Roundtable TV program, to assimilate a single paragraph of a dissertation on the economy in its purest form.

The note says, “The final solution to this complex reality will be achieved with increased productivity and efficiency in the national economy,” but a few lines affirm that it has been “the political will of the Leadership of the Party and the Government (…) as well as the reduction in food prices in the world market” that have led to the adoption of “a set of measures aimed at gradually increasing the purchasing power of the Cuban peso in the short term.” Continue reading “New Prices, Political Will And Productivity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Clothes Do Not Make the Man / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

Voting unanimously at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Voting unanimously at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 23 April 2016 — Army General Raul Castro, newly re-elected first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), in his closing speech at the Party’s 7th Congress spoke of moving forward with our democratic, prosperous and sustainable socialism. It turns out that the adjective democratic has just been added to the socialism officially promoted in Cuba.

The leadership of the first Communist Party was allowed to take the name, later used to turn the country into a disaster, even recognizing one day that “no one knew how to build socialism.” The leadership of the PCC has the right to name the society they are proposing whatever they want. But those of us who have been defending a democratic socialism in Cuba also have the right to make it clear that this name has nothing to do with the socialism as practiced by the PCC. Continue reading “Clothes Do Not Make the Man / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos”