Hurricane Ian in Cuba: Does Anyone Know What They’re Going to Do With the Donations?

A man showing his food that rotted after the power went out in all of Cuba. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 30 September 32022 — Analysts have been surprised that the Cuban communist regime has not openly asked for international aid to compensate for the disaster caused by Hurricane Ian. However, the regime has rushed to disclose information about the bank accounts authorized to receive emergency donations to Cuba that individuals want to make. They are always looking for fresh and anonymous money, and then they do with it what they like.

In addition, even in receiving help from abroad they are communists faithful to their ideological principles, and they put forward the failed economic rules of this doctrine, such as the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the only one authorized on the Island to publicize the information on the accounts for the sending of funds to the Island, which, I stress, are then processed in a generic way.

This exclusivity of the regime in the collection and receipt of money has already been seen on previous occasions and seeks to close the way to non-profit entities, which in these situations are usually especially active. Diversity is not accepted in Cuba. To receive donations for the affected people after the passage of Hurricane Ian, only the two Minrex emergency accounts are valid. Take it or leave it. continue reading

In case there’s any doubt about it, the first of the accounts, as reported by the official newspaper Granma, was opened by the Ministry of Foreign Trade at the International Financial Bank under the name Emergency Donations. The account number is 03000, and the Swift code is BFIC.

The second account is at the International Bank of Commerce under the name Donations-Cuba. Its number is 0407610, and the Swift code is BIDC.

Through these two accounts, the regime aspires to raise aid funds that, in any case, will then be allocated to other priorities. They did it before, and there is no reason for them not to do it again.

Three deaths and severe losses in tobacco, food crops, communication routes and housing are a disastrous balance, to which is added the lack of power at the national level. The problems are growing, but someone in the regime has decided not to ask the world for money, but to publish the account numbers in two banks so that generous and sensitive souls can send their donations to the Island. I doubt that the European communist parties and their publicly funded associations will turn over aid to the regime. As always, the money will mostly come from Miami.

The economic estimates of the damage aren’t yet known, and without having that figure, undoubtedly distressing, the regime has decided to open its hand to see who pays and how much. It thanked the offer of help from Mexican President López Obrador and Venezuelan President Maduro, the only ones who have said something so far. The private entities on the Island will not have the same luck. Self-employed workers or land tenants who have lost their small businesses will hardly be able to apply for aid funds. The regime will not allow it. And, of course, the associative movement of the Island, essential at this time, will be removed from any action to receive funds.

If the communist regime worked otherwise, it would have a golden opportunity to demonstrate its transparency, continuously reporting on the money obtained from donations and, above all, the destination. There would be people who wouldn’t believe what they say, but it would be a positive step in showing transparency and clarity. They won’t do it. No one demands that they do. We won’t know how much money is received, nor how it is used. The model doesn’t work.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

In Cuba, Electricity is Gradually Returning to the Areas Near Hospitals

First lights in Havana at dawn this Thursday as seen from the editorial office of this newspaper. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 September 29, 2022 — The 14ymedio newsroom woke up in the dark for the second day in a row this Thursday. From the windows on the 14th floor of the building you could see small areas in the municipalities of Cerro and Old Havana with light, but none in Playa and El Vedado.

Taking advantage of the darkness, state workers rushed this Wednesday to erase the graffiti that appeared on a facade of Prado and Neptune that read “Díaz-Canel, singao” [motherfucker]! A few miles away, the lights were on in the tower of the Plaza de la Revolución.

The lights turned on little by little in the areas that have a hospital nearby, classified as priorities by the government. The first publication of the morning made by the Electric Union of Cuba (UNE) on its social networks showed several workers lifting a pole next to a hospital in Pinar del Río.

The situation of the UNE remains precarious. According to its latest report, the east of the country is beginning to improve with the start of block 1 of the Felton thermoelectric plant and block 6 of the Nuevitas power plant. In the western area, progress is being made with the restart of the Mariel, Tallapiedra and Santa Cruz plants, while hundreds of brigades from different provinces are working to repair the damaged lines. continue reading

The activation of the Matanzas power plant has allowed the light to come on, although not with 100% coverage, according to the UNE, in the  provinces of Holguín and Las Tunas to a great extent, and in Camagüey and Santiago in a less widespread way. The forecast is that once the eastern and western regions have been repaired and the circuits certified, the interconnection can begin advancing towards the center of the Island, and the entire national network will be connected in the course of the day.

But the UNE also says that it must balance the load generation to calculate the amount and its distribution. “Before [hurricane] Ian we didn’t have enough generation capacity and that hasn’t changed. We have to analyze the coverage, which will not be 100% when it’s restored,” they warn.

The experiences that come through social networks speak for themselves. The precariousness of the infrastructure, after Ian’s onslaught, has left the national electricity capacity at a minimum, and citizens no longer know if power will return, whether due to the collapse of the network or because a blackout is scheduled in their area.

A Cuban woman from La Vigía in the province of Camagüey claimed that they spent 30 hours without power, and finally, in the early hours of the morning, they received two hours of light, but it went off again, and they already had spent more than five hours in the dark. In the same province, in the town of Minas, customers complained that they had been without power for 48 hours.

The discomfort reaches Holguín, where the population exploded last night in a demonstration. “In my area we went more than 30 hours without power,” a woman tells 14ymedio. “I heard the neighborhood near me banging on pots and pans; you could hear that cacerolazo from far away. A while later they were silent. I don’t know where the protests went, but in my neighborhood there was a lot of banging,” she says.

The protest began around 8 p.m., but most of the neighbors couldn’t record it due to lack of a charge on their mobile phones. In spite of everything, some videos reached social networks. “Then we saw a patrol and engines pass by,” continues the resident of Holguín, who lives near a hospital, and around 9:30 in the morning the power finally arrived. “I don’t know how long it will last,” she says with resignation.

Despite not being one of the provinces hit by the hurricane, some people from Holguín say that they spent more than 35 hours without light until this morning, when they began to receive power. “What’s happening on the Island is really distressing, with the fear that the piece of meat you saved in your refrigerator for the children will be spoiled. Everything is very, very sad, and hopeless,” lamented another woman.

In Jagüey and Jatibonico, both in Sancti Spíritus, residents woke up again without an iota of power. It was the same in Placetas, Villa Clara, and in Quivicán, Mayabeque. Even from Santiago de Cuba, which the storm didn’t hit, complaints arrive from UNE customers who have been without electricity since the early hours of Tuesday.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Cuban Regime Cuts Internet Access to Prevent New Protests

The demonstrations in Cerro and Arroyo Naranjo joined forces in the evening at San Francisco de Paula in San Miguel del Padrón. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 September 2022 — The Cuban regime cut off access to the Internet on Thursday night after the protests continued in some parts of Havana. The demonstrations of Cerro and Arroyo Naranjo joined forces in the evening at San Francisco de Paula, in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón.

Mainly women and young people sat down on a street in San Francisco de Paula and banged on pots and pans, protesting the lack of power, which has been missing since the collapse of the National Electricity System after the passage of Hurricane Ian.

Residents of the capital confirm to 14ymedio that the government has militarized many streets, such as the main avenues of Centro Habana. A [citizen-erected] barricade is also reported in Calzada del Cerro and Boyeros, where “they are throwing sticks and stones” a source close to the police said. Some uniformed men have alerted drivers to be careful if they go to that part of the capital.

The intersection of Calzada del Cerro and Boyeros Avenue is one of the busiest in Havana. In addition, Boyeros is one of the main access roads for the Plaza de la Revolución complex, where the headquarters of the Cuban Presidency and Government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party are located. It’s an area that is always guarded.


Click on the blue bird to see video in this tweet.

continue reading

In the afternoon, hundreds of people had also taken to the streets to protest peacefully in the Calzada del Cerro, where they prevented the passage of vehicles, and in some neighborhoods of the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.

Before the Internet blackout, users on social networks were able to share from Cuba some videos and photos that registered the mobilization of repressive forces in various parts of the country, as happened after the protests of July 11, 2021. Some military vehicles sounded the horn to attract attention along with the sirens of the police patrols that were part of the motorcade.

“We want light, we want light,” chanted the clapping crowd, gathered in Cerro, between San Pablo and Auditor, as can be seen in videos disseminated on social networks. Several vehicles of the National Revolutionary Police guarded them, without intervening.

A witness from the crowd, a local resident, assures this newspaper that immediately, a crane appeared to replace a light pole that had fallen. “People have already learned that to solve the problems you have to protest,” this source argues.

However, after 6:00 pm, another resident of that area of the capital confirmed to 14ymedio that a part of the road remained closed because of the protests: “The demonstration continues but we still don’t have power.” Traffic remains rerouted.

In the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, in neighborhoods such as Párraga and La Palma, there were also protests. Several users on social networks shared videos and photos of what was happening, along with hashtags such as #BastaYaDeMentiras [Enough Already with the Lies] #DíazCanelSingao [Díaz-Canel Motherfucker] and #PatriayVida [Homeland and Life].

Click on the blue bird to see video in this tweet.

In all the materials shared on social networks, many women and mothers are seen, carrying on their shoulders the suffering from the lack of electricity, with the elderly and children in their care.

A photograph taken in La Palma shows two huge rows of police patrols on each side of a road. “Remember: the blockade is from the PCC [Cuban Communist Party]. There is no electricity, there is no oil, there is no food, but there are resources to repress,” the Cuban journalist based in Mexico, José Raúl Gallego, posted when sharing the photo.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

This Year Cuba Received Only 44.5 Percent of the Tourists Who Arrived Before the Pandemic

It’s expected that it will be impossible for Cuba to reach the 2.5 million tourists anticipated for this year. (Mintur/Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2022 — Tourism activity, one of the main sources of hard currency in the Cuban economy, hasn’t managed to recover even half of the international visits recorded before the pandemic. Between January and August of this year, Cuba received 1,390,000 tourists, barely 44.5% of the total recorded in the same period of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cuban government presents as a triumph that the arrivals of travelers in August represent a growth of 556.1%, compared to the 251,178 recorded in the first eight months of 2021, when much of the world, including Cuba, was subject to severe restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In this way, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI) confirms that the flow of international tourism remains well below the 3,120,000 travelers registered in the first eight months of 2019. continue reading

In August 2022 alone, Cuba received 136,565 tourists, a decrease of 15,915 compared to the 152,480 registered in July. The gap is greater compared to the same month of 2019, when 971,456 arrived on the Island; that is, only 27.72% more than two years ago.

In the face of this, competitors of the Island, such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, have considerably recovered their numbers prior to the pandemic. The Mexican government reports that the arrival of international tourists from January to June totaled 30.9 million visitors, an advance of 65% of the 48 million it registered in 2019. With more up-to-date figures, the Dominican authorities record that as of August of this year, 5,60,000 foreign travelers arrived, with a positive variation of 27% compared to two years ago.

The data show that, so far, the Government’s strategies are advancing at a slow pace to reactivate a key industry in the economic dynamics of the island. One of the goals is to attract investments in the gastronomy sector.

“Our Creole food is a great strength,” said the Cuban Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, on September 12, when he inaugurated the XII Varadero Gourmet International Festival, a speech that generated discomfort among Cubans, who suffer from a profound  food shortage.

Cuba also seeks to stop being a destination with only beaches and become an ecotourism option, a concept that gained momentum after the confinement. Although to achieve it “we still have to improve in many things,” Marrero acknowledged at an international nature tourism meeting held in Havana on September 21.

The most important group of international travelers is Canadians (30.7%), followed by Cubans abroad (21.8%). With lower participation, are the United States (6.2%), Spain (5.6%), Russia (3.9%) and Germany (3.5%).

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: The Economic Consequences of Hurricane Ian (Part 2)

Tobacco harvested in Cuba, during the drying process. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elias Amor Bravo, 29 October 2022 — Now the state press is describing in detail the “desolate panorama that the most violent meteorological phenomenon to hit Vueltabajo in the last 14 years has left in its wake.” That is, they even dare to grant the hurricane this honor by its strength and its devastating effect on human lives and material objects.

And just as on his previous visit to Vueltabajo, Díaz-Canel once again showed his concern about the damage caused to tobacco, the main exportable item of Cuban agriculture. Food production obviously takes a back seat, and although it’s not reported, it will be greatly affected, especially the seasonal harvests.

The alarming concern of the leaders for tobacco has brought in Marino Murillo, who after the failure of the Ordering Task,* was rewarded with the position of President of the Tabacuba business group. This man seems to be chasing disaster wherever he puts his nose. First, with the national economy in serious crisis since the Ordering Task, and now, with tobacco.

His message to Díaz-Canel has been worrying, and he said that “intensive work is being done to try to save the leaves from previous crops that were in the warehouses, selected and stripped [from the stems], and other deposits, and despite the measures taken for their protection, they got wet.” We are very afraid that all will be lost, millions of dollars in exports of a product that, in addition, has agreements with numerous international distributors who won’t be happy with the lack of merchandise. continue reading

As if that weren’t enough, Murillo said that “the situation of the natural and controlled curing warehouses** is also very serious,” and in one sentence he tried to summarize the effects on the essential infrastructure for the quality of tobacco in strategic municipalities such as Pinar del Río, San Juan y Martínez and San Luis. Specifically, he said, “We didn’t have a single warehouse left standing. Even the newest ones were taken away by the hurricane.”

What a panorama is now opening up for the leaders! As Murillo reported, “in the case of the controlled curing warehouses, work is being done on collecting equipment in order to reuse it, but construction is more complex and expensive and thus will take more time.” More time? How much? Six months, one year? And compliance with international contracts, huh? Where is tobacco going to come from? How can you manage things in such an irresponsible way? Who will pay for the defaults?

We are very afraid that everything will end up being lost, and they won’t say anything when the disaster happens. On the other hand, to meet the needs of the planting for the 2022-2023 campaign, which should begin October 20, Murillo reported that “about 6,000 controlled-curing warehouses will have to be rebuilt in a matter of a few months.” A task defined as “duly arduous for the province, because the many workers needed for the recovery of the tobacco also have damage to their homes.”

This lack of personnel to meet the needs will be be solved, according to Murillo, “by attracting brigades of carpenters from other territories.” And he took advantage of the situation, in passing, to recognize that “we need to look for more robust designs so that this type of construction is more durable and won’t have to be rebuilt every time we’re affected by a hurricane.” Oh, so just now he realizes it? They have had 63 years to do this, which should be enough. The question is always the same: What have they done in these 63 years?

Apart from the loss of tobacco stocks, the passage of the hurricane has caused damage to homes, infrastructure, crops, roads and water systems — nothing new when it comes to tropical hurricanes. However, on this occasion it caused a dreaded national blackout that continues to be the origin of social protests throughout the country, which have led the regime to bring out the “black wasps,” the elite repressive forces.

Cubans see with concern that after more than 48 hours without electricity, their scarce frozen food is lost, and they fear they won’t be able to find it again. The lack of electricity affects the daily lives of everyone — workers, companies, students, housewives, retirees. The whole country is in a general blackout, but the state press takes every opportunity to sell a message of illusion that exists only in the minds of the journalists who write the reports.

Cubans know that “we’re not going to get out of this easily.” At the moment, the damage assessments continue to give initial results, which are very tentative, as happened with the rescue of the raw material stored in a facility of the tobacco collective V-13-26, in San Luis.

The situation is more serious for families who have lost everything and know that they will have to line up to receive some accommodation, which will take time. The state of housing in Cuba is so alarming that these losses caused by hurricanes pile up, and people have no choice but to wait patiently. The first estimates indicate that in San Luis “about 85% of the housing stock has been affected by the hurricane.” It’s difficult to recover what was lost.

Meanwhile, the regime is preparing to receive foreign aid from its partners, Maduro and López Obrador. It’s strange that other countries such as Spain, France, England, and even some Caribbean neighbors, as on previous occasions, haven’t been equally generous. It doesn’t seem that any aid is going to arrive, so the Cuban communists have given instructions for support brigades from other parts of the Island to leave their territories and contribute to the recovery in different sectors, such as electricity and communications.

Instead of having efficient ways to handle emergency situations, as in other countries, which even create specialized army units to face these crises, Díaz-Canel’s solution, as a good communist, is “popular mobilization,” and on this occasion he has pronounced the word “revolution” more than previously, as if the umbilical cord that ties him to this process had been filled with blood.

It’s a sore subject, this revolution that Díaz Canel talks about and begs for help. It can do little for Cuba and the Cubans, because it’s exhausted, obsolete and, as we are seeing, unable to cope with the consequences of a hurricane. This revolution, as has already been proven, doesn’t serve to solve the two urgent problems at the moment: housing and food, or to generate electricity in a normal way.

In the end, as Granma recognizes, “Ian hasn’t been the most intense meteorological phenomenon that has ever crossed through Vueltabajo, but its slow-moving route over the most populated area of the province, along with its winds of more than 125 miles per hour, place it among the most destructive.” One firm opinion and the other soft, so as not to be wrong when the newspaper archives are revised.

The revolution won’t be able to erase the traces of this disaster, and Pinar del Río will have to rise by its own means. It will get little or no help from the regime.

Translator’s notes:   

*The “Ordering Task” is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy.    

**Tobacco leaves are “cured” or dried to define their color and quality. In Cuba, this is done by hanging the leaves in a “barn,” or warehouse, and can take four to eight weeks.

Translated by Regina Anavy
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: The Economic Consequences of Hurricane Ian (Part 1)

Justo García Hernández working in his tobacco field. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 28 September 2022 — At the moment, there is no doubt that the most worrisome news for Cubans is the damage caused by the passage of Hurricane Ian through Pinar del Río. With its proverbial propagandist efficacy, the official newspaper Granma has referred to the consequences in the important region of Vueltabajo, where a hasty meeting of Cuban President Diaz-Canel has been held with the highest authorities.

Apparently, Díaz-Canel must have been concerned about the state of the area and the fact that an assessment of the damage hadn’t yet been carried out and the operation of the procedures offices hadn’t been established for the allocation of resources needed for recovery. Are there no defined protocols in these situations that have to be improvised every time there is a hurricane? Why is Díaz-Canel walking around Vueltabajo when he should be in his office in Havana coordinating the aid, if any? Cubans are less and less accustomed to these propaganda exercises, and in this case they see only unexplained delays, because at the moment there is nothing that points to greater speed.

Díaz-Canel, seeing the state of the Havana-to-Pinar del Río highway, with large amounts of debris and trees on the road, pointed out the need to clear it as soon as possible, using “the communal forces,” together with those of other agencies, since it’s a strategic route for sending aid. As if “the communal forces” that have lost everything or almost everything don’t have to first deal with their own problems. How many bulldozers are needed for that job, and, above all, how many does the regime have for it? continue reading

In a snowfall scenario, the snow removal machines, pushed by tractors of private agents, arrive and solve everything with salt. Why does Díaz-Canel think that this problem can be solved by resorting once again to the inefficient collectivism of “communal forces”? Is it that in the communist regime there are no agencies in the budgeted sector that dedicate themselves to these activities in a professional way? They insist that it will be enough with several “brigades” from Havana and Mayabeque mobilized for these operations, but we are very afraid that things will go on for a long time.

On the other hand, it seems that there is a serious hygiene problem, and, therefore, to support the sanitation work, Díaz-Canel will have resources from the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Azcuba Business Group. With all the hurricanes that have passed through Cuba in 63 years, there should be an emergency force in the army, equipped with the means and competitive training to face this type of scenario. I hope they don’t turn to the young recruits again, as in they did in the case of the recent fire at the Matanzas supertanker base.

But that said, what really mattered to Díaz-Canel was to find out what happened to the more than 33,400 tons of tobacco from previous crops that were still in the drying sheds and warehouses, and he indicated he would be visiting the main producers of the leaf in the area to provide them with support. Careful: That’s money, and, almost certainly, it’s already committed.

Tobacco continues to be one of the main products of Cuban foreign trade, and losing that harvest could be a real misfortune for the foreign currency it provides and which the regime so longs for in order to fill the state coffers. Fortunately, the hurricane has passed at a time when the tobacco production cycle is in the seed phase, although it will almost certainly have damaged the fields, which will have to be prepared again. This will entail extra costs for producers who, in the absence of private insurance or government support, will have to pay for it out of their own pockets.

Granma has recognized that Ian’s passage over the municipalities that make up the Vueltabajo tobacco massif, in which there are more than 7,900 natural (dry) curing sheds made of board and light covering, has caused serious harm to the infrastructure of the principal export of Cuban agriculture. And once again, the only thing that emerges from the news is that we will have to wait to know the extent of the economic damage.

Díaz-Canel has encountered more problems, such as the supply of water to the population and the eternal blackouts, and for this reason, he asked Granma to “raise spirits and recover again from all the building collapses.” Accompanied at the meeting of several ministers, according to Granma, he also received a detailed explanation of the actions that will be taken for an alleged return to normality in the shortest possible time.

Ian’s passage through Cuba has once again highlighted the fragility of the communist economic model that exists in the country, in the face of this manifestation of nature. No one has the slightest doubt that the traces of this hurricane will take a long time to be erased. It doesn’t occur to anyone, except Díaz-Canel, to call on “a popular mobilization to support the collection of debris, recover the organoponics and promote short-cycle crops that provide food in the shortest possible time.” The people aren’t interested in these things. He instills more discouragement with this disorder, and, above all, he should take into account the warning of Sunday’s referendum: the Cuban people have said “enough”!

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: Anxiety Over Food, Electricity and Emigrating Following Hurricane Ian

Dozens of large trees, uprooted by Hurricane Ian, remain strewn on the street in Havana on Wednesday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 28 September 2022 — In La Coloma (Pinar del Río), where Hurricane Ian reached its maximum strength on Tuesday as it passed over the Island, people just want to leave. “If my family comes out of this one, they won’t stay more than six months in Cuba,” bemoans a Miami-based Cuban woman whose parents and brother live in the Pinar del Río municipality.

The woman lost communication with them yesterday, but during their last phone call they told her that the roof of their house had torn off and the flood waters were knee high. The family has animals and crops. “I’ve spent years insisting they leave, but my father would say to me that he didn’t want to leave his little farm, but now everything is destroyed and it will be cheaper for me to pay their exit through Nicaragua than to rebuild their lives in La Coloma.”

They all fear that the day after the storm will arrive with greater scarcity and with it an increasing exodus, which has already reached unprecedented levels for Cuba.

On Wednesday Havana was a city operating at half steam. Most neighborhoods in the capital city awoke without electricity, the water supply shut down due to the lack of electricity and the winds from Ian seem to have given flight to inflation and increasing food prices.

“A bag of six rolls reached 250 pesos yesterday afternoon and 300 by night,” said one of the residents of Los Sitios, who said that today, “vendors have not passed and in the neighborhood they speculate that when they return, it will cost even more.” continue reading

During a trip through Centro Habana, La Habana Vieja and Nuevo Vedado, we witnessed dozens of giant trees uprooted by the powerful winds and strewn across the streets. “And the storm didn’t even pass through here,” remarked an old woman at the Parque Central.

Furthermore, several street lights had also fallen.

The anxiety over searching for missing food, even before the hurricane, had once again became a tonic in the streets of the capital, where several businesses tried to sell what was left at their doorsteps, before it spoiled due to the lack of electricity following the collapse of the National Electric System (SEN).

Pushcart salesmen here and there were some of the few options to purchase food.

The windows of Plaza de Carlos III were all shuttered, and not for the hurricane’s passing. On Monday, the eve of Ian, they were not covered but on Wednesday they were protected, in all likelihood to prevent thefts and destruction amid the widespread blackout.

On the corner of Campanario and Condesa, in Centro Habana, a car had been destroyed by the remains of the old building which once stood in that location, now an enormous parking lot. “Luckily it did not fall on anyone’s head,” said the resigned owner of the vehicle.

In Nuevo Vedado, residents of some of the buildings cleared their surroundings of fallen branches and shrubery, but one of them complained, “the large trees remain strewn there, because they need machinery and we have not seen the State appear anywhere.”

One of the urgent needs was charging telephones, a fundamental communication tool not only for their family and friends, but the world. Thus, it was interesting to see many people charging their mobile phones in hospital hallways, such as Calixto García or Hermanos Ameijeiras, as well as in hotel doorways.

Another worry among Havana residents today was water. Some buildings have pumps but they stopped working when SEN went down this afternoon. Although in many apartments people have water tanks, as the time goes on, these are depleted.

For higher floors it is crazy to try to carry water up the stairs, which in addition are wet and dirty, some for lack of windows for many years now.

Meanwhile, in that same area, the Ministry of Agriculture’s generator has been running for over 24 hours and its humming fills the area. “At least when we stop hearing it we’ll know the power is back on,” one resident said ironically.

On September 28th, the day officials traditionally celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), there’s been no time for revelry nor for slogans of triumph.

In Nuevo Vedado, an enthusiastic CDR member shouted to her neighbors for several long minutes from a 12 story building for them to collaborate in making the traditional stew.

“Let’s go, give some taro, some yucca, a yam for the stew! Or a bit of money to go buy at the market!” she shouted for a good while; a man with a booming voice joined her, “Let’s go to the CDR stew!” The lack of enthusiasm and the discomfort for lack of electricity weighed down the collaborations and finally the enthusiastic organizers canceled the initiative.

On Tuesday night, after the winds of Hurricane Ian died down, in Havana only the fires were alight. Ironically, in the largest Cuban city, one of the only illuminated areas was Turkey’s floating power plant anchored at the port, a power plant full of light in a city of darkness.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

‘Let’s See if They Are Going to Fix Our Houses’ With the Millions from the Restoration of the Santa Clara Convent

The imposing structure of the convent occupies a huge block outlined by the emblematic streets Habana, Cuba, Sol and Luz of Old Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 21 September 2022 — Julita is 57 years old and sells avocados next to the Santa Clara de Asís Convent, the oldest cloister in Havana which is in the middle of a capital restoration to return it to its former splendor. A few meters from its painted yellow walls the residents of the area dream that the investment will be enough to also renovate a neighborhood sunk in housing deterioration and crisis.

“Until now, they haven’t told us anything that they’re also going to repair some nearby houses, not even the potholed streets that are quite cracked,” a resident of Calle Sol, who was born in the tenement where she and about twenty families now live, with explains to 14ymedio. “Since 1965, when my mother brought me into this world, the people on this lot have been waiting for their little dwellings to be fixed up.”

Across the entrance where Julita offers her avocados – “some are ready to be eaten today and others tomorrow” – rises the imposing structure of the convent that occupies a huge block outlined by the emblematic Old Havana streets: Habana, Cuba, Sol and Luz. The wall that surrounds the garden and the rest of the facades offer little information about the works that are taking place inside. continue reading

Only one entrance for vehicles allows you to browse and talk with an animated custodian who declares that the works “are already halfway through” and that they are in the hands of a Cuban cooperative, whose name he avoids giving. The view from that location does not help much to get an idea of the repair process, since there are no workers, no hustle and bustle of trucks with materials, and, other than the bored security employee in his booth, no other people can be seen.

 There was “a lot of movement in the neighborhood” a few days ago when the future headquarters of the College of Arts and Crafts of Santa Clara was visited by the ambassador of the European Union in Cuba

 “It is going to be a school and it will be ready in 2024,” explains the man at the top of his voice several meters from a fence that encloses the entrance to the place. But a walk around the block is enough to conclude that the prognosis may be rather optimistic, because only the part of the building that faces Havana Street shows signs of being restored. The rest still shows the scars that time, laziness and the natural elements left on the convent.

Julita and her neighbors saw “a lot of movement in the neighborhood” a few days ago when the future headquarters of the College of Arts and Crafts of Santa Clara was visited by the ambassador of the European Union in Cuba, Isabel Brilhante, according to the Spanish agency EFE. “We realized that someone important was coming because the area was filled with policemen and they even picked up the garbage. Then the diplomatic cars left and everything went back to the way it was before.”

Nicaragua Received Only Half of the Vaccines Promised by the Cuban Government for 2021

According to Confidencial, the unit cost of each Cuban vaccine was seven dollars, if the amount of a loan requested by the Ortega government from the World Bank is taken as a reference. (TeleSur)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 September 2022 — Nicaragua has received only half of the COVID-19 vaccines promised by the governments of Cuba and Russia since 2021. A monitoring by the independent Nicaraguan newspaper Confidencial revealed that, although Daniel Ortega paid his allies the joint figure of $102 million for 11.2 million doses, double what the British vaccine AstraZeneca would have cost, not all of the planned batches reached the country.

The shortage refutes the promise made by Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s partner and the vice president of Nicaragua, that Cuban vaccines would be received and used by December 2021.

Russia had to provide the Central American country with 1.9 million doses of Sputnik V, while Cuba had negotiated the sale of 7 million of Sovereign 02, Sovereign Plus and Abdala. Although both nations have sold or donated these drugs, none of them have the authorization of the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the Confidencial report, documented with the official press releases, found that between October and December only 3,162,970 doses were received from the Island, just 45.1% of the amount that Ortega bought to immunize the children and teenagers of Nicaragua. continue reading

As for Russia, of the almost 2 million expected injections, only 726 thousand were received, 38% of the stipulated amount.

During 2021 and the first months of 2022, government information on the purchase of medicines became more murky. The thank you notes that Daniel Ortega usually published also ceased to appear. According to Confidencial, it’s unknown, since the beginning of the year, whether Cuba intends to comply with its part of the agreement.

From the Island it’s also not possible to calculate how much has been sent to Nicaragua and whether the export of any other lot is planned. In January 2022, the Finlay Vaccine Institute said it had sent a new shipment to Ortega, but without revealing how many doses.

According to Confidencial, the unit cost of each vaccine was seven dollars if the amount of a loan requested by the Ortega Government from the World Bank for payment to Havana is taken as a reference.

For its part, the price of Sputnik V was almost ten dollars, and the total amount received by Russia amounted to 5.4 million, although Ortega knew that other buyers of the drug had filed complaints about Moscow’s delays in delivering the orders.

The deficit of vaccines and the impact it has caused on children, who were unable to complete their immunization schedules, has forced Ortega to accept donations. This was the case last July, when the United States sent a batch of the Pfizer vaccine. The Confidencial report adds that children from three to eleven years old are receiving the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.

In total, about ten types of vaccine have come into circulation in the Central American country, and it’s estimated that 85% of the population has already completed the vaccination schedule.

For Ortega and his allies, including the Havana regime, the purchase and sale of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a high geopolitical importance. For Cuba, the sale of its drugs reached regional governments such as Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina, but it also served to strengthen relations with Russia and Iran.

In addition, the sale or donation of Abdala, Mambisa and the different ranges of Sovereign led to an international medical propaganda campaign, on the part of the Government, which has tried, in the midst of the pandemic, to whitewash the regime after the repression of the demonstrators in the July 11 protests.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

A Blackout is Recorded Throughout Cuba, the National Electroenergy System Collapses

“So far, the causes are unknown and are being investigated to work immediately on their solution,” says the official press. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 September 2022 — A power outage throughout Cuba was recorded around 6:00 p.m., and the country remains in darkness. Official media reported the collapse of the National Electroenergetic System (SEN) from provinces such as Holguín, Las Tunas, Granma, Guantánamo, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Cienfuegos.

“At the moment there is a breakdown in the National Electroenergetic System, confirmed by the Technical Directorate of the Guantánamo Electrical Company. The circuits of the province are turned off, similar to what is happening in other provinces of the country,” the newspaper Venceremos published on its social networks. “So far, the causes are unknown and are being investigated to work immediately on their solution.”

“There’s an impact on the networks of the central region of the country, which has caused a lack of service throughout the territory. Work is being done to restore it gradually. We are waiting for official information for more details,” the Perlavisión telecenter published.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Two Hurricanes That Threaten the Cuban Economy

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 26 September 2022 — The goal of this blog is to focus on economic matters in Cuba. But from time to time, it’s necessary to pay attention to events that arise in reality, due to their immediate impact on the economy.

And so, while Cubans were summoned by the regime, last Sunday, to a referendum with an easy-to-anticipate result, which also has a total and absolute insignificance for what we are dealing with, two other events should worry communist leaders about the effects they will surely have on the national economy in the short and medium terms.

The first one is called Ian. A hurricane that has worried the Civil Defense authorities and the Institute of Meteorology, because they haven’t yet been able to anticipate its hitherto erratic evolution in the national territory. It’s known that Cuba will be hit from south to north, but it’s not clear where, and that is why, this Monday, there will be a report on State TV’s  Roundtable program on Ian’s impact on the national territory and the preparation in each of the affected provinces to face it.

And by the way, in an informative note from the State’s official newspaper Granma, they say that the same program will offer information about the official closure of the referendum on the family code, as if it were a matter of little importance. As if the result hasn’t already been on a shelf in some office of Díaz Canel’s for days. It’s announced that all the communist state press — Cubavisión, Cubavisión Internacional, Canal Caribe, Radio Rebelde, Radio Habana Cuba, the YouTube channels of the Roundtable and the Presidency and the Facebook pages of the Roundtable, Cubadebate and the Presidency — will cover the program live at 6:30 pm. continue reading

So we have to wait until that time to know what result the communist regime has made up for the referendum vote, which, in advance, will show the support of the population, although with doubt about the exact number. Making a fool of yourself has some costs.

In any case, one has the impression that the result of the referendum will concern Cubans much less than Ian’s evolution. As it should. Depending on where Ian hits, it can lead to the destruction of the productive base, the housing and the infrastructure, which then won’t receive any attention because there’s no money for it. And worst of all, the crops may be lost, so there will be even less food for the population.

Ian could be a serious threat to the regime. The referendum on the family code will go to a better life as soon as the focus of attention is on the hurricane, and above all, the ones that may come later. There’s nothing to rejoice about, but plenty to worry about and take care of, especially the latter, which will be a task for the communist leaders in the very short term.

But there’s another hurricane that has just arrived and is at the gates of the Communist Island. I’m referring to the result of the democratic elections held this Sunday in Italy, which have had a winner in the far right of Mrs. Meloni, whom Díaz-Canel has not yet congratulated for her success. And we are very afraid that he will not do so, which is political clumsiness on the part of the Cuban communists that can lead to a progressive cooling in the economic, commercial, tourist and investment relationship of Italy with Cuba.

Let no one believe that a defiance of Díaz-Canel, however inconsequential it may seem, will be left unanswered. But there is something that should worry Díaz-Canel and his regime about this result in Italy, which won’t be understood in Cuba because they lack a sense of democracy. But it can be explained to them.

It’s simple: 44% of Italians aligned themselves politically with a party or coalition of parties that is at the antipodes of the Cuban communist regime, and those that are closest didn’t reach even a quarter of the electorate. The Italian earthquake supposes that the society of this country has turned politically in a direction that feels, in a majority way, disgust with Cuba’s ideological communist positions. That is, Italy has turned its back on the left, and if Cuba vindicates that position, at the global level, it will suffer the consequences.

The Italian hurricane is going to be felt in Cuba. That’s for sure. Italy represents for the Island, in the trade of goods, about 8% of the total, and in terms of tourists, 3%, although this has seen better times. Cuba recognizes that Italian foreign investment, although no official information is available, is important. There was even a commercial transaction by Cuban doctors recently. Let’s see how all this continues in the face of the next legislature if, as expected, Mrs. Meloni and, in a broad sense, the new Italian society that emerges from these elections, will not be in favor of Italians or the investment capital of their country going to the communist Island. They are warned.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Hurricane Ian’s Winds Leave Havana in the Dark and More Depleted of Supplies

On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 27, there were many fallen trees in the capital. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, September 27, 2022 — Havana woke up this Tuesday with the rains and winds that Ian had been leaving in the Cuban territory for hours, but people on the street seemed not to have heard that the hurricane that was coming and was of considerable intensity.

The food shortage in the capital was worse than the threat of the hurricane. “Nothing prevents people from going out to stand in line for bread in any event,” said an old woman from Central Havana, who hadn’t been able to buy a single piece the day before.

In this same neighborhood of the capital and in the rain, street vendors were still promoting a few goods, mainly cart-pushers, who remained on the corners dispatching some fruits and vegetables before leaving.

In other areas such as the Plaza de la Revolución, the howl of the wind frightened residents, especially when, in addition to the shocking noise caused by the force of the hurricane, they began to see zinc tiles, palm leaves, pieces of plastic and some trees falling to the ground.

“There was such a strong and sustained gust that all of us, humans and pets, ran to hide and take shelter under a table,” says a young man from Nuevo Vedado. continue reading

Power outages began early in the morning and still keep much of the capital in the dark. There was also the sound of sirens heading to Central Havana and Old Havana, two of the most populated municipalities with a lot of housing deterioration. “I hear a siren, they’re firefighters, I just saw them go to Reina Street. There must be a collapse,” a woman told this newspaper by phone.

And before the sound of the sirens and the wind, many took note of the severe economic crisis that plagues the island, worse than a hurricane like Ian: “There is nothing here for these events: no tape to protect glass windows, no rechargeable lamps, no kerosene for  ’gossiping,’ stovetops or candles,” complained a man in Havana. “Well, we’re plagued by dengue, and there aren’t even any mosquito nets, so what could we expect!?”

In the afternoon, when the water and air finally made a truce, the disaster in the city could be witnessed. Tree after fallen tree, as well as ceilings, facades and some furniture that flew away were the general picture.

In this part of western Cuba, “people are very upset about the delays in preparation and also in the caution of the first forecasts of the hurricane,” some reproached. “Yesterday, several residents of El Vedado were surprised when we warned them of Ian.”

While in Florida, where Ian is heading on Tuesday night with intense growth, the authorities have been preparing the population about the possible ravages of the storm since last week on the Island, where the hurricane left Pinar del Río in a disaster zone. The Government’s messages in recent days were exclusively focused on the referendum for the Family Code, which came into force on Wednesday. “A law passed by water,” Cubans ironize on the street.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Nearly 80,000 Migrants Have Entered Honduras in 2022, Most of Them Cuban

Most irregular migrants to Honduras have been Cuban. (INM Honduras)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Tegucigalpa (Honduras), 27 September 2022 — About 80,000 irregular migrants traveling to the United States have arrived in Honduras so far this year, mostly of Cuban nationality, according to figures from the National Institute of Migration (INM), consulted this Friday by EFE.

Between January and August 19, 79,667 migrants entered the Central American country, trying to advance north with the aim of reaching the United States, according to official data.

The report didn’t give details about the approximately 400 migrants of various nationalities, mainly Cubans and Venezuelans, who gathered this Saturday at one of Guatemala’s borders to try to enter the Central American country from Honduras.

Nor was the complaint made in recent days by Cubans, who accused Honduran Migration agents of demanding payments of 20 dollars, regardless of whether the migrants have an official safe conduct pass.

The INM detailed that this year, 44,535 Cuban migrants, 19,222 Venezuelans, 4,795 Ecuadorians and 3,051 Haitians have entered Honduras irregularly. continue reading

They follow, in order, 642 from India, 636 from Colombia, 592 from Senegal, 569 from Angola, 470 from Bangladesh, 478 from the Dominican Republic, 446 from Brazil, 423 from Ghana, 423 from Nicaragua, 329 from Cameroon, 278 from Somalia, 256 from China, 239 from Nepal, 209 from Eritrea and 2,094 from other nations, it adds.

According to INM statistics for January through August 19, 2021, a total of 10,032 irregular migrants entered Honduras. Of these, 4,294 were from Haiti and 3,622 from Cuba, the predominant nationalities in this group.

Of these immigrants, 54.8% (46,676) are men, 28.5% (22,728) are women and 16.6% (13,263) are children and teenagers, the INM added.

Of the total number of irregular migrants this year, 52.5% (41,847) were between 1 and 30 years old, and 47.5% (37,820) were over 30.

The INM also indicated that 77.3% (61,556) of the migrants entered Honduras through the municipalities of Danlí and Trojes, department of El Paraíso, on the border with Nicaragua.

In recent months, El Paraíso has become a new route that migrants, mainly from Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti, are using to get to the United States.

At the beginning of August, a legislative decree entered into force exonerating irregular migrants passing through Honduras from the payment of an administrative fine of more than $200.

The immigration amnesty was published on August 3 in the official newspaper, La Gaceta, three months after its approval by the Honduran Parliament.

Most irregular immigrants who enter Honduras are transported through “blind spots” by human traffickers, known as “coyotes,” who don’t always take them to the border with Guatemala.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Candles and Prayers in Havana for the Patron Saint of Prisoners: The Virgin of Mercy

The priest, who accompanied the prayer in the Church of the Virgin of Mercy in Havana, asked for a plea “for the future of the Cuban homeland and the children.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 24 September 2022 — On an island with more than a thousand political prisoners, the patron saint of prisoners has become the image before which countless Cuban families pray. On September 24, the patron saint of inmates received flowers and candles in her parish on Cuba Street, in Old Havana, under the watchful eye of a police operation with uniformed and civilian agents.

Dressed mostly in white, in honor of the Virgin and the great orisha Obbatalá, with whom the Virgin is syncretized in the Santeria religion, residents from the vicinity arrived throughout the day and also others who traveled from distant municipalities. Most of them were united by a special reason: to pray for people locked up in prison, in a country with more than 90,000 prisoners.

From early in the morning, several tables were placed outside the temple for the private sale of prints, religious accessories, flowers and other offerings dedicated to the Virgin. But inflation hurt the enthusiasm of buyers, who widened their eyes when they heard that each candle cost 50 pesos. Many decided to retrace their steps and enter the temple empty-handed.

Dressed mostly in white, in honor of the Virgin and the great orisha Obbatalá, with whom the Virgin is syncretized in Santeria, they arrived throughout the day at the temple. (14ymedio)

The flowers also were more expensive, and the small bouquets, with only a few butterflies, cost 100 pesos, while others a little more elaborate and with more variety cost about 400. For residents of the poor neighborhood of San Isidro, where the church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced is located, paying such prices means a choice between putting something on the table and spending a good part of their salary on stems and petals. continue reading

The priest who accompanied the prayer requested a plea “for the future of the Cuban homeland and the children.” The request was followed by entreaties and hands that came together to pray. There was also no shortage of those who brought an image of a relative sentenced to prison to accompany them inside the church and at the time of approaching the altar with the image of the Virgin.

In other parts of Havana, such as the mouth of the Almendares River, a group of practitioners of Santeria also joined in a ceremony to remember the orisha as the “creator of the earth and sculptor of being.” White clothes were more common in the city throughout the day, and there was no shortage of domestic ceremonies with prayers for Cubans imprisoned in the hands of traffickers and coyotes during their migratory route.

In other parts of Havana, such as the mouth of the Almendares River, a group of practitioners of Santería also joined in a ceremony for Obattalá. (14ymedio)

The numerous Cuban women, especially those over 50, who were named “Mercedes” or “Mercy,” in honor of the Virgin, also celebrated, although on this occasion white meringue cakes — so characteristic of these syncretic celebrations — were scarce due to the lack of flour and eggs. The economic crisis forced Cubans to celebrate more modestly but just as emotionally as in other years.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Investments Made by the Cuban Regime Don’t Activate the Economy

Like the false villages that Gregorio Potemkin raised along the river to make Catherine the Great believe a fiction of prosperity, Cuban statistics are formed by a daring of lies and exaggeration. (ONEI)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 25 September 2022 — The recent publication of the Cuban National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) entitled “Investments, selected indicators” in  the first half of 2022 concludes that investments reached 31,726.2 million pesos, an increase of 41% compared to the same period in 2021, when investments stood at 21,823.2 million pesos.

This significant growth, however, has to be pondered and discussed, which is the purpose of this post. It should be borne in mind that  the “ordering task” of 2021 disrupted monetary variables with the disappearance of the CUC, the unification of the Cuban peso and the corresponding price and wage adjustments. This means that the ONEI publication is the first one that allows a comparison of the two periods and the various issues that deserve to be analyzed.

For example, with the inflation that has shaken the Cuban economy in recent years, monetary amounts have to be deflated, that is, corrected, to show the effect on prices, in order to determine their real value. Before 2021, inflation in the Cuban economy was low, but the Ordering Task* increased the rate that year by 77.2%, something unknown in the historical records.

This means that 2021 pesos didn’t have the same value as those of 2022, if annual inflation in the first half of 2022 stood at the CPI indicator (the only available) at 30%. Therefore, in order to obtain the real value of investment growth in the first half of 2022, the nominal growth, 41%, has to be divided by the increase in prices, 30%, so then investments increase compared to the previous year, but just over 10%. That is still a significant number, but lower than that offered by ONEI, and of course, insufficient to meet the needs of the Cuban economy. continue reading

Failure to provide the real value without the corresponding deflation is a mistake. ONEI should include nominal and real data in its estimates, as other statistical services do in countries affected by high inflation.

Taking into account this 30% increase in consumer prices, as a measure of the conversion of the nominal variables into real, when comparing the evolution of investment in different components, such as construction and assembly, equipment and others, it turns out that in the first, the nominal increase was 38% (7% in constant values).

In the second component, the nominal increase was 50%, which, corrected for the effect of inflation, was really 20%; and in the third case, the nominal increase of 48% becomes 18%.

This behavior of the three components of the investment results in their distribution or weight in the total to remain almost stable, with an increase in construction and assembly and other components; but the investment in equipment is reduced in terms of participation in the total. This design doesn’t meet the needs of the Cuban economy.

Another surprise comes from the territorial distribution. The data indicate a notable reduction in Havana’s participation in the total, which fell from 63% in 2021 to 56% in 2022. The significant loss of investments in Havana was channeled to other provinces such as Mayabeque, where investment multiplied by five, or to Santiago de Cuba and Holguín, where the increases were lower, but with higher levels. In general, most of the provinces increased their participation in the total, except Havana, where this adjustment took place. It seems that the authorities have wanted to carry out an investment policy that compensates for the deep territorial mismatches that exist.

The publication also offers investment data by economic activity, and again, concentration is highlighted, but with downward and upward trends. This is the case of business and real estate services, which with 33.8% of the total again occupies first place in the regime’s investment preferences. But as happened in Havana, it presented a downward trend, since in 2021, the percentage reached 40.6% of the total. What business services lost was gained by the manufacturing industry, which went from 13.4% to 18.7% of the total, and investment in electricity, which went from 6.9% to 8.3%.

Investment in mining and quarries decreased from 12.7% to 7.5%. Health and education, culture, administration and defense services seem stable in the two-year comparison, and the same is true of agriculture, which still doesn’t attract investment.

The investment design that emerges from this ONEI report points to a scenario of continuity in which little is innovated and what is reversed follows rigid and bureaucratic formats adapted to the interventionist nature of the regime. There is nothing suitable for what the Cuban economy needs in order to prosper.

*Translator’s note:  *The “Ordering Task” [tarea ordenamiento] is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso (CUP) as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency, which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.