CELAC Summit in Havana: The Regime is Cashing In / Ivan Garcia

E4CABC98-3159-402E-9759-7B8430EF074F_mw1024_n_s-620x330Under a warm sun and unusually cool breeze, a worker puts the final touches on the exterior of PABEXPO, an exposition and meeting center of 60,000 square yards, located in the Siboney neighborhood, to the west of Havana.

There, from Saturday the 25th to Tuesday the 29th of January, experts, foreign ministers and presidents will meet at the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

The tourist group Cubatur S.A., obviously, is the most favored. Two weeks ago, in a document from the Minister of Foreign Relations loaded to the internet as a PDF, offers detailed information.

It consists of 116 pages and is titled Operations Manual for the 2nd CELAC Summit. The Cuban Organizing Committee offered free housing to every Head of State, one of the Foreign Ministers and another to the Head of the Delegation to the Meeting of National Coordinators.

Six other rooms, guaranteed at the same hotel and floor established for each attending country, will be paid by the delegations requesting them. The prices range between 170 and 340 CUC per night, in the case of doubles, and include transportation from and to the airport, breakfast, internet, and personalized assistance. If they want rooms superior to the standard, the price will be higher. [Ed. note: The CUC, Cuban Convertible Peso, is pegged one-to-one to the U.S. dollar but exchange fees increase its cost to about $1.10.]

Six hotels have been selected for the invited VIPs. Three five-star hotels (Hotel Nacional, Meliá Cohiba and Meliá Habana) and three four-star superior (Hotel Quinta Avenida, Occidental Miramar and Panorama).

Some 2,500 to 3,000 foreign reporters are expected to return. At their disposal there will be twelve hotels with room prices ranging from 90 to 400 CUC a night.

Cubatur also will make bank renting cars or other types of tourist transport. For three to six days an economy car will cost 51 CUC a day, a premium model 181 CUC and a van 185 CUC.

The organizers are offering six vehicles to each delegation. The foreign press and other participants will have to pay “an adequate collective transport.”

ETECSA, the only Cuban telecommunications company, will also have its harvest. Calls within the island cost 0.35 CUC. To the United States or another Latin American country, 1.60 CUC (to Venezuela is 1.40), and 1.80 CUC a minute to the rest of the world.

To install a fixed telephone line, ETECSA will charge 100 CUC, plus the price of the calls. The cost of renting links to navigate the internet depends on the speed. If it is 64 Kbps, the participants will have to pay 150 CUC for the installation plus 7 CUC a day.

For the fastest connection, at 2,048 Kbps, the installation price rises to 200 CUC and the daily cost of service is 186 CUC.

In addition, ETECSA will charge one convertible peso for every sheet received by fax, while an hour of access from PABEXPO will cost 4.50 CUC, the same price we Cubans pay when we go to a state internet room.

The media who intend to use a satellite phone will have to pay a 1,000 CUC license fee, and if they want satellite Internet the figure doubles. The current regulations in Cuba establish that it is mandatory to obtain a credential to work temporarily as a journalist in the country at a cost of 100 CUC, with the exception of the Presidential Press, which will receive credentials from the Organizing Committee.

The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) will charge 200 CUC for an hour of editing, including the editor, and the same fee for an hour of using a transmission position. According to a source from ICRT, the multinational Telesur, financed with Venezuelan and Ecuadorian capital and Cuban advice, is exempt from these payments. And, in addition, it will also have privileged locations in the conference rooms.

A consulting economist estimated that the CELAC SUMMIT, in barely a week, fattened the coffers of the regime with between 180 and 220 million dollars. Not bad for some finances in the red.

25 January 2014