Alaska, Another Route for Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 1 December 2015 — As a part of the basket of measures relating to the migration crisis concerning Cubans in Costa Rica, and with the obvious intention of protecting human interests, starting from 1st December, Cubans wanting to travel to Ecuador will have to get a visa to enter that country.

The regulation is an attempt to control the stampede; but already the human traffickers, taking a bird’s eye view and with financial resources, are trying to find new routes to connect Havana with the United States. Now it seems crossing the last frontier is the latest thing.

I would like to make it clear that not one single letter of what I am writing here is any attempt to encourage illegal emigration Continue reading “Alaska, Another Route for Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida”

Everything Changes, So That Nothing Changes in the Cuban Armed Forces / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 14 December 2015 — For the Cuban government, December is a month of notable events and anniversaries. And, although  it tramples on the right of people to support Human Rights Day, it is worth repeating; it allows people to celebrate the anniversary of the landing of the yacht Granma, the Revolutionary Armed Forces’ birthday, the jubilee of the Battle of Ideas, the anniversary of the Battle of Alegria de Pio, and praising the fact that, since 1977, following a historic manoeuvre  of calculated ambiguity, it also permits the celebration of Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Strange, cruel, and unusual, because partying is what is important and because, as my grandmother, who didn’t need to study to gain wisdom, said, “All believers think that their religion is better than their neighbour’s one.” Continue reading “Everything Changes, So That Nothing Changes in the Cuban Armed Forces / Juan Juan Almeida”

Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan Almeida

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 December 2015 — In addition to a being a major victory for the Venezuelan opposition over the Bolivarian coalition led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), many analysts have claimed that the December 6 elections in Venezuela could also lead to a something approaching an energy crisis in Cuba.

I do not think it is true that, after years of mismanagement, the Chavez movement exacerbated the country’s divisions, insulted the dignity of its people and, in return, got what it deserved: punishment at the ballot box, which — as in the story of Cinderella — turned an allegorical carriage into a hideous pumpkin. Continue reading “Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan Almeida”

A Cuban Cocktail: The Adjustment Act, Remittances, Emigration and Change

Juan Juan Almeida, 27 November 2015 — The delicate subject of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica was a topic at the fifty-fourth meeting of the Central American Security Council and the Central American Integration System (SICA). It is quite clear that these compatriots of ours, driven by the fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be modified or repealed, are leaving the island with one destination in mind: the United States.

It matters little to me if they see themselves as political or economic refugees. They are fleeing poverty that has its roots in politics. For me this is reason enough. But be aware that, if today they manage to set foot in the United States or if some other country takes them in, tomorrow they will be traveling and/or sending money back to the island.  Continue reading “A Cuban Cocktail: The Adjustment Act, Remittances, Emigration and Change”

Decision by Raul Castro Complicates Cuba’s Legal Landscape / Juan Juan Almeida

"House for Sale" in Holguin, Cuba. REUTERS/Marc Frank

Juan Juan Almeida, 7 December 2015 — During one of his famous tantrums, General Raul Castro shamelessly ordered a review of all the paperwork related to the sale of nine private homes as well as investigations into their new owners.

The Office of Personal Security got to work and the public prosecutor intervened, seizing some twenty homes. The same chain of command also closed two private restaurants in prime locations which had been leased from the state-run company Palco for of 3,000 CUC a month.

It has been said — and this is gossip, so I do not know if it is true or not — that one of the restaurants, located near Fifth Avenue and 68th Street, was closed because Alex Castro, Fidel’s photographer son, had commercial interests and was trying to get permits. Continue reading “Decision by Raul Castro Complicates Cuba’s Legal Landscape / Juan Juan Almeida”

Bucanero-Cristal Exploits Ties to Self-Employed and Palco and Habaguanex Executives / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 November 2015 — Just as the proceedings surpassed the scandalous total of 42 people indicted, the General Vice-Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba, Carlos Raúl Concepción Rangel, imposed a gag order on the case and hid it underneath the trite mantle of “secret character,” because — according to sources in the Prosecutor’s office — he’s expecting the number of those involved to increase.

The investigation filtered down, and some of the people implicated hardened themselves and beat it out of the country. Others are hiding out; there is a border alert for them, and an order of search and capture.

Before such an emergency, and even without finishing the trial, they’re taking the accused out of the investigation center at 100 and Aldabó — the women to the western prison, El Guatao (known as Manto Negro), the men to Valle Grande or the Combinado del Este. The VIP accomplices, owing to their natural status as first-class citizens, were sent home and asked to be “low profile” until their names could be pulled from the file or, at least, their complicity silenced in a case that could paint them as crooks. Continue reading “Bucanero-Cristal Exploits Ties to Self-Employed and Palco and Habaguanex Executives / Juan Juan Almeida”

The Commission on Defense and National Security, an Alejandro Castro Corporation Juan Juan Almeida

Alejandro Castro Espín (R) and Abel Enrique González Santamaría (L)

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 November 2015  — Bound by a peculiar loyalty based on the quasi-inbreeding of its members and located in a walled compound at the corner of 36th and 39th streets in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado, the Commission on Defense and National Security (not to be confused with the Council on National Defense), is a group with a disturbing profile but no legal standing, created with the intention of preserving the status quo.

Under the Constitution, which we are supposed to be revising but which is still in force, the National Assembly of People’s Power ranks as the highest institution of government, imbued with legislative and constitutional powers. Subordinate to it are the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and even the Comptroller General. It appoints the Council of Ministers and the Council of State.

But that’s only on paper. In practice, the epicenter of power lies at the always bountiful table set every Sunday for lunch at La Rinconada, the housing complex where the president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Raul Castro, resides. Continue reading “The Commission on Defense and National Security, an Alejandro Castro Corporation Juan Juan Almeida”

What Can the Opposition Offer to Cubans? / Juan Juan Almeida

Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, voting unanimously, as it virtually always does.

Juan Juan Almeida, 9 November 2015 — Cuba is a country where polemics or its relative, debate, is the daily bread of artists, private entrepreneurs and intellectuals; an island where the majority of the young population are assured of being poor or having no possibility of fulfilling their dreams; a nation where the average professional suffers from a ridiculous salary; and a State where discontent between the politicians and the military is worrisome. Still, the opposition, which works for freedom and the right to establish a democratic government, has been incapable of building a plausible alternative.

Where exactly does our opposition find itself in relation to the other components of the Regime? Continue reading “What Can the Opposition Offer to Cubans? / Juan Juan Almeida”

The GAE, a Lie Transformed into Reality / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 26 October 2015 — Before the Special Period, the financial capacity of the country had already been reduced to a minimum, so reforms were being instituted that supposedly would “help” the nation cope with the economic contingencies of the time.

And when the situation reached that almost invisible point at which point any action or oversight could hasten the death of a terminally ill patient, circumstances forced the Cuban military to become productive by generating income from agriculture, transportation, tourism, construction, finance and commerce.

The armed forces of the world are divided into three main services — army, navy, air force — plus aerial defense. Continue reading “The GAE, a Lie Transformed into Reality / Juan Juan Almeida”

Fewer Spies in Miami Than Bullfighters in Madrid / Juan Juan Almeida

1445274193_miamiJuan Juan Almeida, 19 October 2015 — The G2, Cuba’s domestic spy agency, is nothing more than a fun-loving caricature of the former KGB. What is difficult to believe is that the special services headquarters which direct espionage operations against Cuba have shown themselves to be even more inept.

The Cuban government neither has nor could maintain an army of spies. We have bought into this myth. Espionage is an expensive proposition and recruiting spies is not like planting rice. Though difficult for us to accept, Cuban authorities are talented and treacherous enough to know how to stoke paranoia, distrust and confusion by creating a constant and frantic struggle for reaffirmation against “a person unknown.” This has made us prone to isolation, some degree of lunacy and a few too many hallucinations. Continue reading “Fewer Spies in Miami Than Bullfighters in Madrid / Juan Juan Almeida”

Camajuani in Suspense over Corruption / Juan Juan Almeida

1443142995_camajuanensesJuan Juan Almeida, 24 September 2015 — Cuba is trying to silence a national “explosion” of great intensity, which implicates officers of the Interior Ministry (MININT), the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR), the Cultural Goods Fund (a Cultural center promoting and selling art and handicrafts), the National Bank of Cuba, foreign businessmen and artisanal shoemakers in the Camajuaní municipality of Villa Clara.

According to sources inside the National Prosecutor’s office, one of those implicated was surprised overseas by the news, and in order to evade justice, prefers not to return.

Fraud, falsification, bribery, extortion, contraband, abuse of authority, illicit enrichment, tariff violation, tax evasion of the National Tax Administration and influence peddling are among the presumed crimes for more than 50 people in different training centers. Continue reading “Camajuani in Suspense over Corruption / Juan Juan Almeida”

Holguin: Cholera and Dengue Fever Patients Kept Out of Sight of Pope / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 31 August 2015 — For the Cuban Government, the level of job insecurity, the index of diseases (above all those provoked by the deterioration in the control of hygiene, epidemiology and health) is politically sensitive information that must be hidden or, at the very least, disguised.

For that reason, and because of the epidemiological situation that exists today on the island, all the institutions and organisms of the central administration of the State, the Party and the Government worked tirelessly to ensure that the visit of the Supreme Pontiff would be a success, and this included camouflaging that which couldn’t be exposed. Continue reading “Holguin: Cholera and Dengue Fever Patients Kept Out of Sight of Pope / Juan Juan Almeida”

What Does Raul Castro Have Planned for His Youngest Child? / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 12 October 2015 — Alejandro Castro’s role in the secret talks between Cuba and the United States was akin to that of Arnaldo Tamayo on the Soyuz 38 mission.

No crisis comes with prior warning. Just as the term “opposition leader” is used to describe people who are neither leaders nor have ever been in opposition, the government mythologizes events to find a place for slackers in the national consciousness. Following this useful tradition of political dishonesty, it seems the time has come to create a reformist profile for the most obtuse of the island’s traditionalists: Alejandro Castro Espin. Continue reading “What Does Raul Castro Have Planned for His Youngest Child? / Juan Juan Almeida”

Cuban Government Orders a Reduction in Purchases from the United States / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 7 September 2015 — The reduction in products imported from the United States could be explained as an unspoken attempt by the Cuban government to manipulate an important American commercial sector with the goal of derailing the embargo.

A government strategy? According to statistics published by the US-Cuban Economic and Commercial Council, commercial activity by state import conglomerate, ALIMPORT, has decreased. From 2009 until today, the Cuban government has significantly reduced its purchase of food, drugs and medical equipment from its neighbor to the north, which reached a high of 710,000 million dollars in 2008. Continue reading “Cuban Government Orders a Reduction in Purchases from the United States / Juan Juan Almeida”

The Fraud of Cuban Business Consultants / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 5 October 2015 — Why deceive US businessmen by assuring them they can come to Havana and, just like that, set up shop in Cuba?

The Cuban government is cautious and equates the word freedom with a certain brashness. For a foreign business to establish itself and do business in Cuba, it must fulfill requirements so complicated that most businessmen ultimately tire of the process or end up feeling cheated.

Any country that formally announces it is open to foreign investment knows it must face the challenge of improving its quality of education and legal infrastructure.

In contrast to what the revolutionary government proclaims, bureaucracy, corruption, poor teacher training, disorganization and certain practices such as fraud have become the norm and are reasons for the decline of the educational system. Continue reading “The Fraud of Cuban Business Consultants / Juan Juan Almeida”