Archive for July, 2014

Entrega de premio Nelson Mandela a Los Cinco

July 31, 2014

Siempre con Cuba

Un grupo de EE. UU. compuesto por 25 integrantes del Centro de Estudios Cubanos y del Museo de Arte Montclair sostuvo un encuentro con los héroes René González y Fernando González; Mirta Rodríguez, madre de Antonio Guerrero; Adriana Pérez, esposa de Gerardo Hernández y Ali Labañino, hija de Ramón, en representación de Los Cinco. También participó Olga Salanueva, esposa de René.

El objetivo de la reunión fue la entrega del premio Nelson Mandela enviado por la Fundación Geller, de Filadelfia, a Los Cinco Héroes. Esta fue la primera ocasión en que la Fundación otorga ese premio y quiso que la entrega se hiciera a través del Centro de Estudios Cubanos, y su Directora, Sandra Levinson, fue la encargada de entregarlo.

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Causa de Los Cinco: Relanzar motores por un septiembre diferente

July 31, 2014

Siempre con Cuba

La generación de iniciativas y el necesario incremento de la influencia de la campaña por la libertad de Los Cinco en personalidades que puedan penetrar con el mensaje a las estructuras del gobierno estadounidense para lograr el regreso a casa de Antonio, Gerardo y Ramón, centraron el encuentro sostenido este martes por el Héroe Fernando González y alrededor de 140 amigos de más de 10 países que se encuentran en Cuba como parte de la caravana Pastores por la Paz y las Brigadas Venceremos –de Estados Unidos- y Latinoamericana y Caribeña.

En el Campamento internacional Julio Antonio Mella, de Caimito, se produjo el intercambio al que asistieron, además, Caridad Diego, Jefa de la Oficina de Asuntos Religiosos del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba, Kenia Serrano, presidenta del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), Odén Marichal, coordinador de la Plataforma interreligiosa cubana y otros líderes y representaciones…

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Cuba, un modelo según la Organización Mundial de la Salud

July 30, 2014

La pupila insomne

Salim Lamrani (Opera Mundi)

omsSegún el organismo de las Naciones Unidas, el sistema de salud de Cuba tiene valor de ejemplo para todos los países del mundo.

El sistema de salud cubano es mundialmente reconocido por su excelencia y su eficiencia. A pesar de recursos sumamente limitados y el impacto dramático causado por las sanciones económicas que impone Estados Unidos desde hace más de medio siglo,

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Cuba and the complex transformation of the State Enterprise (III)

July 28, 2014


By José Luis Rodríguez

The operation of State-owned enterprises in Cuba has been developed in a very complex framework during the past five years. The burden that has taken on the budget through transfers to the business sector spent in 7 604 billion pesos in 2009 to an estimated 9 961 million in 2013, an increase of 31%.

Of this figure, the subsidy for losses rose 603 to 914 million in the same period, for an increase of 51.6%, calculated that focuses on companies of the MINAGRI, the Terminal and in the AZCUBA group of companies.

The subsidy generated other important load of public finances by difference in the prices that are paid to companies that exported or replace imports, whose margin would be lower if the production costs were reduced in the State business sector. This item rose 4 308 million pesos in 2010 to an estimated 5 614 million in 2013, for a growth of 30.3%.

Of course, a setting that allows to modify this situation must elapse gradually, unlike what has happened in good measure with the private sector and cooperative, whose high costs and profit margins have directly impacted the prices to the consumer, except in the cases of agricultural commodities, which are priced retailer controlled by the State for sale to the population.

Based on the wholesale prices for inputs from State-owned enterprises – once it goes through the elimination of exchange rate and monetary duality – should gradually reflect prices on the international market for imported inputs, and assuming internal costs and the profit margin for national productions, that trend should be cheaper.

But in this process – which will take time and great effort – not can be dispensed with a level of subsidies for retail prices that slow down the deterioration in the purchasing power of the consumer, as long as their incomes do not grow properly.

To achieve these changes at the enterprise level it will be necessary to have leaders and technicians that not only they have a greater economic culture, they can be appropriately paid based on the results of their administration. This means, at the same time, a deep change in the Organization, planning, management and control of economic activity at the level of the State-owned company.

In this sense, planning non-deterministic and flexible, allowing to cover as far as possible the margins of uncertainty is imposed and risk that all economic activity implies, by reducing the levels of centralization in non-strategic decisions, and decentralizing the current operation in the management of the company.

In that direction, the economic control mechanisms must back open to step leaving the administrative control of high cost and low efficiency, concentrating in the main targets, and not to try to control each and every one of the actions that must undertake the company in their management.

A key element for the success of the change of mentality that such processes demand is in the active presence of the group of workers in the gestation and control of the enterprise activity, which supposes an effective work of the unions in the collective analysis of the plans and the participation of the same in the control of the economic activity through the control elements of the organization, including the Councils of Government.

Special attention will require the promotion and encouragement of technological innovation at the level of enterprises, through the creation of the necessary funds for its development from own generated profits.

Logically, the transit of the current situation to an efficient Socialist undertaking will require a suitable context.

A factor of great importance for the companies – especially in the agricultural sector – will be able to count on the infrastructure necessary to develop their production. The lifting capacity of irrigation, where they have managed figures that reflect only 9% coverage compared to 34% of irrigation area in the country, is essential.

Also it is necessary to advance the development of rail transport and the capacity of electricity generation using renewable energy – especially from the sugar industry – sources, factors that would make cheaper the costs of the sector significantly. In all, the role of foreign investment will be of huge importance.

Also a review of credit policy that allow companies to obtain financial resources essential for resulting required a more flexible banking policy enabling to manage medium and long terms the indebtedness of many companies today presenting losses seems appropriate. Equally, the convenience of defining the conditions of bankruptcy of a State-owned company to apply a rational financial policy should be examined.

Finally, it would be worthwhile to highlight the universe in which today serves the State company implies a substantial change, given the presence in the domestic market of a private and cooperative sector in expansion, which not only competes with the public entity positively in areas such as tourism and gastronomy that attracts workforce with greater compensation.

All this implies the need to achieve a higher level of competitiveness in the State-owned company, and so one might think in mechanisms that include the possibility of creating joint ventures with the non-State sector – a Variant that would be perhaps more favorable than the lease of State-owned, as well as the creation of financial mechanisms that enable social participation in remittance flows that are coming into the country as capital.

Complex transformation of the State enterprise is a vital process in the redesign of the economic model of socialism in Cuba, so pay greater attention to the different steps that occur in that direction, adequately assess the necessary experiments and ensure greater participation of workers in the same is the guarantee of its successful culmination.

* The author is an advisor of the center of research of the global economy (ICES, Havana)
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Education in Cuba: A reform on the way?

July 25, 2014


By José Jasán Nieves y Alejandro Ulloa •

The recent changes announced by the Ministry of Education (MINED) for the school year 2014-2015 describe another shift in a system that, since the early 2000s, has been correcting its course in the search of a more effective model of teaching.

Although classes in Cuba begin punctually each September and the state guarantees all students a desk, basic school supplies, uniforms and teachers, free of charge, education in Cuba has suffered the effects of the crisis and, apparently, some incorrect decisions that ended up accumulating problems outside the classroom.

Since the 1990s, pendulous movements have characterized the adjustments to the educational system, at both its elementary and secondary levels, amid a social crisis that has affected the entire country.

From the specialization of teachers in specific subjects, the system turned to the so-called General-Integral Teacher, accompanied by video teaching in the classroom. The technique caused massive boredom and waste of school time.

Then the system swung back to specialization by areas of knowledge or subjects, but this time without solving the numerical shortage of teachers and their lack of training.

More than 7,000 new teachers will enter the classrooms next September, although it is not clear whether they will fill all the vacant positions. As to their quality, there is no doubt that lack of experience will be a weighty factor in their selection.

They are young graduates from pedagogical schools that were recently reestablished. Rolando Forneiro Rodríguez, deputy minister of Education, said that these graduates received “a broad program of study with theoretical-practical contents that included teaching classes with the aid of tutors.”

Now, according to the authorities, a great many of the transformations that will be introduced at the various levels of learning have been agreed upon by the parents and teachers.

According to Education Minister Ena Elsa Velázquez, they are part of “scientific studies to create the theoretical and methodological basis of improvement in the Cuban pedagogical system” that should be completed by the school year 2019-2020 with the implementation of new plans of study and bibliography throughout the educational system.

Despite that, the promises haven’t allayed the skepticism and dissatisfaction of some Cubans who voice concern over the effects that a five-year delay in the reforms on an already reformed system might have on the lives of the students and society at large.

Some changes

The measures adopted this time restate the methods of evaluation and give more flexibility to the classroom schedules. They also relieve the teachers from some of the excessive weight they were carrying ever since the changes implemented through the so-called “Battle of Ideas.”

For example, in elementary schools, examination sessions will be extended to 4 hours. The basic subjects will be concentrated in either the morning or afternoon classes, alternating with the specialized courses — art, physical education, English, computer skills. This new order will allow the teachers to increase (from 2 to 8 hours a week) their pedagogical improvement studies.

At the Junior High School level, it will not be necessary for students to remain in school from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., because the “school snack” (a cold-cut or cheese sandwich or a hamburger, and a glass of soy yogurt, at room temperature or hot) will no longer be obligatory.

In the new school year, only those students who request it will receive the free meal, whose quality does not satisfy most of the consumers. Those students who do not desire it will be given time off to go home for lunch or stay in school and eat a meal they have brought in from home.

This way, too, the state budget for school meals will decrease. In the small province of Cienfuegos, school lunches cost about 29,000 pesos per day, about 1,450 U.S. dollars, at the current rate of exchange.

For university-bound students — and after the recent news of massive fraud during the tests for admittance to Senior High School — the authorities have announced a novel and controversial change in procedure for those tests. There will be no secret questionnaires. Instead, the students must know the answers to 100 questions about three subjects — math, Spanish and history — but the five topics of each exam will be selected at random.

The bell and the cat

The decision to impart general education free of charge as a guarantee of the Cuban social system is a key issue for any change or analysis that is made. For decades, the continuing deficit of teachers, the low wages and the difficult working and studying conditions have kept the system in a constant state of contingency.

“Mass education has to somehow generate mechanisms to guarantee quality, even though mass and quality appear to be incompatible,” says teacher Miriam García, who has more than 40 years’ experience in junior and high school education.

García believes that the opportunities for training and improvement that the MINED has provided are “enormous,” but that the teaching staff has lacked vocation and rigor.

“The teaching burden has had an effect, too,” she says. So have the insufficient wages, made worse (for teachers and all others) by the contradictions of currency duality and the sustained devaluation of the national peso over a period of decades.

“Emerging” teachers, teachers who are not sufficiently qualified, and a shortage of teachers weakened education in many aspects, especially at the elementary and high-school levels.

“As long as families like mine need to turn to paid tutors to give specific tests to our children or support their daily school work, something’s wrong,” says Yusmila Padrón, a mother in Cienfuegos.

“Fraud occurs first because of a breakdown in values, but also because of a breakdown in the teaching, which doesn’t justify [fraud] but provokes it, since a deficient education makes students feel insecure,” Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Cuba’s first Vice President, told the Cuban parliament this month.

“Education is not just the acquisition of knowledge but also an integral formation,” says teacher García, who appreciates that the cultural changes generated by a deficient education represent a danger for the Cuban social project.

The educational process will see a new stage of modifications next September. Some see it only as Band-Aids required by circumstances, but the authorities insist that they add up to a thorough reform that — like reforms in other sectors of society — must not be hastened. We need to believe and see.

The Threat of Good Example

July 25, 2014


Socialist Cuba Exports Health Care, Gains Important Recognition
by W.T. WHITNEY, Jr.

In Cuba recently press conferences and new reports celebrated the ten-year anniversary of Operation Miracle, known also as “Mision Miracle,” which occurred on July 8. This internationalized project aimed at restoring vision on a massive scale took shape within the context of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

Cuba and Venezuela launched ALBA in late 2004. Latin American and Caribbean nations belonging to ALBA engage in mutually beneficial trade-offs of educational and medical services, scientific projects, even commodities. They are referred to as solidarity exchanges. ALBA exemplifies Cuba and Venezuela’s central role in promoting regional integration.

Under Operation Miracle, Cubans and Venezuelans benefit from surgical eye care, as do tens of thousands of foreign nationals who’ve traveled to Cuba for treatment. Cuban ophthalmologists serving in Venezuela took the lead in establishing 26 eye care centers throughout that national territory. Staff consisting of eye surgeons, nurses, technicians, and other physicians have served Venezuelans and also vision- impaired people from 17 Latin American countries plus Italy, Portugal, and Puerto Rico. More recently organizers established centers in 14 Latin American and Caribbean nations. Ten years after its start the project operates in 31 countries, some in Africa and Asia.

Those receiving diagnosis and treatment through Operation Miracle had gone without eye care because of poverty and/or geographic inaccessibility. The most common cause of reduced vision the teams deal with is cataract. They provide treatment also for glaucoma, strabismus, retina problems, and abnormal ocular growths. Corrective lenses are provided. Services are available for patients at no personal cost, as are transportation and accommodations.

Operation Miracle reportedly has improved or restored vision for 3.4 million individuals. That measure of the project’s reach takes on additional meaning through World Health Organization data showing that 39 million people in the world are blind. These figures are within reach of one another, especially because most visual impairment – 80 percent – is preventable or curable.

So it seems that two formerly colonized, dependent nations have taken giant steps toward addressing a major cause of human disability. But who, one asks, knows this story of human betterment? Writing recently for Cuba’s La Pupila Insomne web site, journalist Jose Manzaneda charges that international media ignored this “spectacular news.”

He highlights the Spanish El Pais newspaper as a purveyor of anti-Cuban bias. Recently El Pais writer Mauricio Vivent reported on international assistance to Haiti, but failed to mention Cuban efforts to fill Haiti’s health-care vacuum. In fact, according to Manzaneda, 11,000 Cuban health workers, mostly physicians, have served in Haiti for more than 16 year, and 700 of them are there now. They’ve cared for 20 million patients, performed 373,000 surgical operations, and delivered 150,000 babies. Over1300 Haitian young people, recipients of Cuban government scholarships, have graduated from Cuban universities Currently 322 Haitians are studying medicine in Cuba.

Why the reticence on the part of the world’s dominant media? Historian Aviva Chomsky speculated in 2000 that Cuba is suspect because of its “threat of a good example.” She was writing about Cuban health care achievements.

The recent visit to Cuba of Dr. Margaret Chan, Director – General of the World Health Organization, elevated that threat to high alert. On July 16, while participating in the inauguration of a new structure in Havana that will house a center for bio-pharmaceutical development and another for clinical trials, she observed that Cuba “is the only country I have visited with a [health] system tightly connected with research and development in a closed circle … The objective of science is to serve health care and health and in this, Cuba is an example.” Chan lauded “the Cuban purpose of benefiting not only the health of Cubans but also of the citizens of Latin America and the rest of the world.”

Writing in the new guest book, Chan congratulated one center “for its great achievements over 25 years. This has been possible through the vision of leaders like Fidel and Raul Castro who think strategically, for the long term, and established the bases for the success we see today. I congratulate them for their contribution to the improvement of the health of people in Cuba, in the region, and in the world. The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health organization will always be your good and trustworthy friends.”

In a 2008 letter explaining his decision no longer to serve as Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro stated that, “My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas.” Indeed, medical outreach to Haiti, Operation Miracle, ALBA, and the centers that Dr. Chan praised are themselves ideas that Cuba has advanced, in struggle. The overarching idea, however, is “Patria es Humanidad” (homeland is humanity) which was pronounced by Cuban national hero Jose Marti. Surely, as demonstrated by down –to- earth, people – centered instances of international solidarity, Cuba’s revolution remains true to its Martian roots.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.


Cuba, the United States and Human Trafficking

July 23, 2014


by Salim Lamrani

This post first appeared in Opera Mundi

The United States has once again placed Cuba on the list of countries involved in human trafficking. However, international institutions repudiate Washington’s perspective. On the other hand, according to Human Rights Watch, the United States is the only developed country to legally permit the exploitation of child labor from the age of 12 years.

In its 2014 report on countries that engage in human trafficking, the U.S. State Department has once again included Cuba, even placing it in its worst offender category. According to Washington, “adults and children [on the island] are victims of sex trafficking and forced labor. Child prostitution and sex tourism in Cuba is a reality […]. There were allegations of forced labor during missions abroad conducted by the Cuban government.” (1)

However, Washington acknowledges the lack of reliability of its own sources:

“Some Cubans participating in the work missions have stated that the postings are voluntary, and that the positions are well paid compared to jobs within Cuba. Others have claimed that Cuban authorities have coerced them by withholding their passports and restricting their movements. Some medical professionals participating in the missions have been able to take advantage of U.S. visas or immigration benefits, applying for those benefits and arriving in the United States in possession of their passports–an indication that at least some medical professionals retain possession of their passports. Reports of coercion by Cuban authorities in this program do not appear to reflect a uniform government policy of coercion; however, information is lacking.” (2)

The report includes, inter alia, a reference to the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP). Indeed since 2006, Washington has implemented a policy aimed at plundering the island of its human capital by facilitating the emigration of medical staff to the United States. This program primarily targets the 30,000 Cuban doctors and other health personnel working in nearly 60 countries of the Third World as part of a vast humanitarian campaign begun by Cuba in 1963 to bring health care to the world’s poor. (3)

Thus, despite its self-acknowledged lack of reliable information, the 2014 report concludes that “The government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.” (4)

The view of UNICEF

The most serious charge concerns child prostitution. Yet UNICEF — the United Nations Children’s Fund — does not share this opinion and, in fact, salutes the advances made by Cuba in the field of child protection. According to the UN agency, “Cuba is an example in the protection of children.”5 According to José Juan Ortiz, UNICEF’s representative in Havana, “severe malnutrition does not exist in Cuba [because] there is the political will” to eliminate it. “Here, there are no children in the streets. In Cuba, children are always a priority and that is why they do not suffer from the shortages that afflict millions of other children in Latin America, who work, who are exploited or who are involved in prostitution networks.” (6)

Ortiz shared his experience on this subject:

“There are millions of children who are exploited every day, who never go to school; millions of boys and girls who do not have a legal identity, who do not exist because they are not included in the census. (7)

“Cuba, for more than 50 years, has been a model for the defense and promotion of the rights of children. Public policies that favor children have been a priority for years. Because of this, the country has achieved a position that is truly unique in the developing world. Of the hundreds of millions of boys and girls who suffer serious violations of their rights every day, even dying for absolutely preventable causes, none of these children are Cuban. The Cuban experience is a clear demonstration of what is possible if governments pay attention to children and make them a priority.

“[…] Cuba demonstrates that, despite the international crisis, despite the [U.S.] economic sanctions and their severe impact upon child development — Cuba is the only country that suffers from these sanctions — despite all of this, it is nonetheless possible to guarantee fully the rights of the child and achieve increasingly high levels of human development as is the case in Cuba. Cuba is an example to the world of how to work to ensure the rights of the child and realize full development. The Cuban people enjoy a treasure that sometimes they do not realize they have. Cuban children and adolescents are privileged in comparison with the rest of world. (8)

“Twenty thousand children will die in the world [today], and the overwhelming majority of these deaths could be prevented. It is criminal to allow children to die when we have the means to save them. Were the issue of childhood a global priority, the problems faced by children would have been resolved a long time ago, as they have been in Cuba.

“Cuba has always been an example in terms of social development, with levels of equality similar to those in the most highly developed countries.

“The work accomplished in Cuba with juvenile offenders (another great theme and challenge for Latin America and the Caribbean) is exemplary. Here, there are no children behind bars. The system prioritizes the rehabilitation of misguided youth […]. Furthermore, all children with disabilities are supported, even in their homes if the child is not ambulatory. This is an exceptional advance. […]. Cuba is the only country I know where you can celebrate by dancing on International Children’s Day […].” (9)

The UNICEF representative also stressed the following: “Because of my job, I spend time burying children in all of the countries I visit. In Cuba, however, I spend time playing with them.” He did not hesitate to call the island a “childhood paradise in Latin America.”10 UNICEF notes that Cuba is the only Latin American or Third World country to have eradicated infantile malnutrition. (11)

Havana’s Response

On Havana’s side, authorities have strongly condemned the inclusion of Cuba, present on their blacklist since 2003, among the group of countries involved in human trafficking, and described the report as “manipulative and unilateral:” (12)

“The State Department has once again decided to include Cuba in its worst offender category (level 3) of its annual report of countries that ‘do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so.’ At the same time, they ignore the recognition and prestige achieved by our country for its strong commitment to the protection of children, youth and women.

“Cuba has not requested the evaluation of the United States nor does it need the recommendations of one of the countries that has the highest number of cases of trafficking of children and women in the world. The United States has no moral authority to call down Cuba, nor to suggest ‘plans’ of any kind. It is estimated that the number of North-American citizens who are victims of trafficking is close to 200,000 and that labor exploitation is its most widespread form. Eighty-five percent of the court trials dealing with trafficking involve sexual exploitation and more than 300,000 children, among the million who run away from home, are subject to some form of exploitation […].

“Inclusion on this list for entirely political reasons, as well as the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of international terrorism, is an attempt to justify the policy of economic blockade […] something that seriously affects our children, our youth, our women and our entire population.”(13)

Washington recognizes the incomplete nature of its report and UNICEF has seriously undermined its accusations against Cuba. Furthermore, the involvement of the United States itself in human trafficking, and the legal exploitation of children from the age of 12, diminishes its moral authority and deals a severe blow to its credibility.

Trafficking of Human Beings in the United States

The United States maintains that it considers the struggle against human trafficking a priority. According to John F. Kerry, the United States “has a moral obligation to address this challenge [because] trafficking is an attack against our most cherished values such as freedom and human dignity.” (14)

However, on this issue, the State Department report itself is also highly critical of Washington. Indeed, “The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children — both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals — subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including domestic servitude.” (15)

According to the same report:

“Abuse of third-country nationals providing services for U.S. defense contracts in Afghanistan also has been noted by the media. NGOs reported that visa holders employed as domestic workers were subjected to forced labor by personnel of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations posted to the United States; Native American women and girls were trafficked for the purpose of commercial sex acts; and LGBT youth were particularly vulnerable to traffickers.” (16)

The Human Rights Watch Report

Moreover, the United States is probably the only developed country where children can be exploited legally by being allowed to work at the age of 12. Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization for the defense of human rights, has denounced the exploitation of children in the country’s tobacco fields. According to this organization, these children are, on average, 13 years old and may work up to 60 hours per week. According to an HRW survey, 53 percent of them are exposed to pesticides, 66 percent suffer from recurrent symptoms such as “vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness, and loss of appetite” due to exposure to nicotine and 73 percent have already been sick with “nausea, headaches, respiratory diseases, skin problems and other symptoms.”(17)
According to HRW:

children work long hours without overtime pay, often in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and wear no, or inadequate, protective gear.” They are thus “exposed to dangerous nicotine without smoking a single cigarette.” Children are also forced to handle “dangerous tools and machinery, lift heavy loads, and climb several stories without protection for hanging tobacco in barns. (18)

The organization added that “tractors sprayed pesticides in nearby fields,” seriously affecting the health of children, who stressed that “the spray drifted over them, making them vomit, feel dizzy, and have difficulty breathing and causing a burning sensation in their eyes.” In addition, most of the pesticides used in tobacco production are “known neurotoxins, poisons that alter the nervous system.” Such exposure, over the long term, can cause “cancer, cognitive and learning problems and infertility.” HRW notes that “Children are especially vulnerable because their bodies and brains are still developing.” Moreover, “most children interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had no access to toilets or a place to wash their hands at their worksites, leaving them with tobacco and pesticides residue on their hands, even during mealtimes.” (19)

In 2012, 70 percent of children under the age of 18 who died of a work accident were agricultural workers. Adequate protection is not provided by United States labor law. Thus, children may be exploited in agriculture from the age of 12 and work “longer hours, at younger ages, for less pay, in more hazardous conditions than children in any other industry.” (20)

The inclusion of Cuba on the list of countries involved in human trafficking is, it appears, motivated more by political and ideological considerations than by precise and verifiable facts. Indeed, international organizations, particularly those responsible for child protection such as UNICEF, repudiate Washington’s position on the exploitation of minors. Rather, they praise the social policies that favor the protection of children on the Caribbean island. Additionally, the United States, a hub of human trafficking according to its own report, is the only developed country to allow the legal exploitation of children as young as 12, thereby casting a shadow over its credibility once it becomes a question of the defense of human rights.

Translated from the French by Larry R. Oberg.


1 United States Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons, Report 2014,” June 2014. (site consulted June 27, 2014), p.148.
2 Ibid., p.148-149.
3United States Department of State, “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program”, June 26, 2014. (site consulted July 2, 2014).
4 United States Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons, Report 2014,” June 2014, op. cit., p. 149.
5 José A. De la Osa, “Cuba es ejemplo en la protección a la infancia,” Granma, April 12, 2008.
6 Fernando Ravsberg, “UNICEF : Cuba sin desnutrición infantil,” BBC, January 26, 2010.
7Radio Havana Cuba, “l’UNICEF signale que Cuba est un exemple en matière des droits de l’homme,” June 1, 2012.
8Cubainformación, “Entrevista a representante de UNICEF en Cuba,” June 4, 2012. (site consulted January 2, 2013.
9 Lisandra Fariña Acosta, “Ce pays est un laboratoire de développement social,” Granma, June 7, 2012. (site consulted January 2, 2013).
10 Marcos Alfonso, “Cuba : ejemplo de la protección de la infancia, reconoce UNICEF,” AIN, July 18, 2010.
11 UNICEF, Progreso para la infancia. Un balance sobre la nutrición, 2011.
12 Agence France Presse, “Cuba califica de ‘manipulador y unilateral’ informe de EEUU,” June 21, 2014.
13 Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, “Declaración de la Directora General de Estados Unidos del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba,” República de Cuba, June 21, 2014.
14 Le Monde, « Le rapport américain sur la traite d’humains provoque un tollé », June 20, 2013.
15 State Department, « Trafficking in Persons, Report 2014 », June 2014. (site consulted June 30, 2014), p.30-36.
17 Human Rights Watch, « US : Child Workers in Danger on Tobacco Farms”, May 14, 2014. (site consulted June 30, 2014).
18 Ibid.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.

Enterprise mission of China in search of business with Cuba.

July 22, 2014

Special Development Zone Mariel (Photo:

By Venus Carrillo Ortega

Interested in incentives offered by the new legal framework for foreign investment in Cuba, and above all in the special zone development Mariel, a major business mission from China will visit the Antillean Island in the coming days.

The visit, sponsored by the Trade Development Bureau and the investment promotion agency – both from the giant Asian-takes place coinciding with the tour, which takes place from Monday the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, for countries in Latin America, which will include Cuba, according to the Xinhua Agency. The travel of the President was initiated by Brazil, where he attended the sixth Summit of leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

According to the program released by the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba, Monday 21 shall be carried out at the National Hotel two meetings with representatives of the business community of the Caribbean nation, notably in the sectors of renewable energy, biopharmaceutical and tourism industry.

In the morning session will be held a business forum organized by the Bureau of trade development, which will be new business opportunities provided by the law 118 foreign investment, approved by the Cuban Parliament and put into force last June.

Customs, labor and tax regulations which provides special development Mariel zone to attract foreign capital will occupy the attention of participants to the Forum, as well as also presentations on the portfolio available today in the biopharmaceutical industry, renewable energy and tourism for the establishment of business with Cuba.

The program also includes a seminar organized by the China investment promotion agency where they will take part representatives of the companies Chinalight National Light Industrial Products IMP. & Exp. Corporation, and CITIC International Co.

The important Chinese delegation will hold tours of sites of economic interest with Cuban authorities, opportunity to learn first-hand the opportunities that are opening the largest of the Antilles for foreign investors.

After more of half a century of diplomatic relations, China and Cuba look for to invigorate their economic ties, whose commercial interchange grew a 25% in 2013 with respect to the previous period. An interest endorsed by the policy that drives the Asian giant towards integration with Latin America, especially its support to the Member States of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

In interview of Chinese agency Xinhua to the Cuban ambassador in the Asian country, Alberto J. Blanco Silva, the diplomat stressed that the upcoming State visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Cuba will open a new stage of comprehensive development of bilateral relations.

“It is an occasion so conducive for bilateral relations in the medium term with all its potential, as well as share common objectives and goals”, said the official, recalling that China is the second largest partner of Cuba since 2005, while the island is the largest partner of the Asian country in the Caribbean region, which coincides with the impetuous advance who have experienced linkages”.

It is the second Latin American tour of Chinese President after the one held in May last year, which led to Xi’an to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico.

According to Blanco, quoted by Xinhua, the Chinese investment projects on the Caribbean island are slowly advancing by several factors, but a large number of Chinese companies have expressed their interest in promoting investment in Cuba which largely coincides with the point of view of Chinese scholars.

Biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, renewable energy, agricultural-food industry, that of packaging and telecommunications and information technology are the sectors of greatest interest and with greater opportunities to develop joint ventures between the two sides.

In just a couple of weeks will be the visit of Chinese dignitary to Cuba of the journey undertaken by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, who also expressed interest in re launching relations with Cuba to a new stage.

From The Red square to the wall of China… no doubt, Cuba writes a new chapter in its ties with the world, marked today by the thrust of the emerging economies.
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Cuba and the complex transformation of the State Enterprise (II)

July 22, 2014


By José Luis Rodríguez

In the analysis of this subject, first that it must be considered it is that the changes in the economic policy in relation to the state company that took shelter in the economic and social policy guidelines approved in April 2011 took into account a set of necessary premises for the success of these transformations.

As starting point was expressed the principle that in our society the State enterprise as the essential element in the economic management based on the social ownership of the basic means of production, in the frames of a system of planning that would be dominant on the market would be decisive.

Under these conditions it was established and then was put into practice a gradual process of decentralization of powers in favor of the growing autonomy of the State company, in a context of differentiation of the State and business functions, for which it was necessary to develop a regulatory framework right, including its procedures, with the aim of raising production efficiency and the satisfaction of social needs.

Outlined so probably the most far-reaching transformation and essential but whose analysis requires a remarkable synthesis effort at the same time, complex and long-term in the whole process of updating of the Cuban economic model. (Taking this into account we will build on the analysis carried out by a group of economists, including Luis Marcelo, Ileana Díaz, Luis de el Castillo and Camila Piñeiro, among the most prominent in the study of the subject).The first steps in this direction have led to a transformation of the structures of the business based on creating superior organizations of business management (OSDE), companies and business units of base (UEB), which began to materialize since 2010 by 25.4% in the number of companies reducing and 18.9% of the corporations of the State, at the time that created a number of OSDE and especially UEB.

An evaluation of structural movements in progress highlights the gradualness which presuppose the changes in the management system, where different powers of control previously located at ministerial level now are at the OSDE, while maintaining a level of centralized management in the company that are subordinated to the UEB, which do not possess legal personality.

This last has led to a controversy over the relevance of this decision, especially in regard to the conversion of a number of companies in States with more limited powers. This even led to that was announced in the last National Assembly review of this aspect, particularly in the case of the sugar mills.

The issue of the structure is not minor, because the measures already adopted in this year located a number of faculties at the enterprise level, what the dimension of each structural element and the relations of coordination or subordination with the higher or lower level, depending on whether, going to have a noticeable effect on the process expediting or hampering decision-making.

However, in a context of long years without major changes in terms of the decentralization of substantive decisions at the level of the companies – except what could rescue the business processing applied from 1998 – is very positive what now is introduced, even though the deadline for its application are extended in time taking into account the necessary experimentation that it must pass and the essential training of the boxes that apply the decisions agreed.

The changes approved in this first stage are mainly collected in Decree Law 320 and the 323 Decree of the Council of Ministers, issued in April of 2014, amending the Decree Law 252 and Decree 281 as regards the business management system, that latter ruled the relationship basically with the business improvement process. Accordingly, steps that now run should give continuity to the best experiences of this process which today comprises about a thousand companies of the existing 096 2 at the end of the first half of the year.

A general approach to the amendments approved for public companies shows that they include easing of its corporate purpose, with the Elimination of its limitations. Discussed, also reduce the management indicators in the plan, defining more accurately the content of the obligations of the company by State commissioned and differentiating the formation of prices depending on whether pre-set or excess deliveries which may be freely marketed.

In addition, expands the retention of profits after payment of taxes – defining its possible uses, including the distribution among workers, at the time which is authorized to retain the depreciation and create compensation funds at the level of the OSDE to address short-term imbalances. Also sets the OSDE approves the plan of the company and payment of wages systems, which opens the possibility of an increase on the basis of the increase in productivity and efficiency.

All of these changes will take place in an environment that includes the new tax law and a foreign investment law, as part of macro-economic legislation in the process of implementation, to which is added the complex process of reunification, monetary and exchange rate policies, which also began in the Cuban economy.

(To be continued)

* The author is an advisor of the center of research of the global economy (ICES, Havana).
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The story behind Cuba’s deal to send doctors to Brazil

July 21, 2014

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