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Hurricane Sandy's impact has yet to fade in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is still recovering from Oct. 25, 2012 storm
Author: Hatzel Vela, Reporter,
Andrea Torres, Reporter,
Published On: Nov 02 2015 09:07:53 PM EST Updated On: Nov 19 2015
12:10:00 AM EST

Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy barreled through the southeastern tip
of the island and left death and destruction in its wake. It ripped down
tree branches. There were toppled light posts.

In its sweep, it isolated communities and wreaked havoc. And while it
grew into a Category 2 storm, it killed 11 people in the provinces of
Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. It was the deadliest storm since
Hurricane Dennis in 2005, Cuban authorities said.

The storm damaged sugar, banana and coffee crops and about 200,000
structures. It also flooded wells, which later lead to a dengue and
cholera outbreaks in one of the most densely populated areas of the
country. Imarys Rosales remembers there were downed power lines on the
dangerous hilly roads of the 500-year-old city of Santiago de Cuba.

"It was a disastrous thing. Santiago was completely devastated," Rosales
said in Spanish. "Every block was full of debris. We suffered 18 days
without electricity."

It took at least a month for the government's Empresa Electrica to
restore the electrical grid. Although the Cuban Red Cross had support
from the German, Norwegian and Spanish societies, in 2013 there were
many "in desperate need of assistance" and some some 160,000 households
in Santiago and Holguin "without a proper roof," according to the Red Cross.

Although there were homes that haven't seen fresh paint in decades, the
roofs that Sandy blew away were back in place.

There was plenty of structural damage left behind. The storm packed an
economic punch on the already financially strapped Santiagueros, as the
natives of Santiago de Cuba are known, share homes that are sometimes in

Rebuilding efforts were more feasible for those who have the support of
U.S. and European remittances. But there are few, since the more
affluent have reportedly been moving to western provinces without
notifying authorities.

Government aid included selling victims tools and construction materials
on loan and at reduced prices.

A drought is hurting the agricultural sector, which used to have the
highest coffee production in the country. The coffee production this
year will meet government's expectations with some 307,000 cans,
according to Cuban media, a Communist government stalwart.

Local media also regularly covers stories of the island's accomplishment
of long life expectancy. By 2030 they expect one million will be over
75. But retirees have to scrape by on $12 a month, which many say is not
enough to eat. Most recently the government reported there is an ongoing
project to build 10 new homes for the elderly.

Many view this and other forms of government investment as signs of
recovery. Rosales remains positive. Although the city struggles with
attracting foreigners -- since most prefer Havana and Varadero --
tourists, she said, "are surprised when they see how Santiago has
recovered fast."

Source: Hurricane Sandy's impact has yet to fade in Santiago de Cuba |
Cuba Coast to Coast - Home - Continue reading
The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba
[30-07-2015 01:02:47]
Cuba Transition Project

( Even before the scheduled opening of the
US Embassy on July 20, 2015, there were advertisements, blog posts,
tweets, and news feeds welcoming U.S. residents to Cuba for cultural,
religious or educational opportunities. Cuba remains a popular
destination for Canadian and Western European tourists with its rich
cultural arts, gracious hosts and Caribbean beaches. However, a growing
interest in U.S. approved trips must consider Cuba's lack of safe
potable water, sanitation and sewage issues along with housing
challenges. This is important because while it is unreported, cholera
transmission exists within Cuba.
Cuba's lack of transparency in health outbreak reporting is in question
again. Laboratory confirmed cases continue to be shared with the
international community about tourists returning to Canada, Latin
America, and European countries after taking home more than sun and fun
from a Cuban vacation. Cuba consistently asserts that the cholera
outbreak of 2012 was quickly controlled within the country.

Where is the United States government on this issue today?

While a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cholera
watch in Cuba has recently been removed from their website, (1) there is
still evidence that cholera is transmitted there. CDC travel notices
consists of three levels:

A "watch" level 1 informs travelers to use usual precautions, an "alert"
level 2 calls for enhanced precautions and a "warning" level 3 advises
travelers to avoid nonessential travel to an area where the risk is
high. These travel notices are important because the CDC notification
system is widely used by travelers as well as clinicians for up-to-date
international travel information.

Since 2013 there have been cases of confirmed cholera after visits to
Cuba. (2) In January 2015 the Canadian International Health Regulation
reported a case of a returning traveler, (3) as well as Pan American
Health Organization (PAHO) on their Epidemiologic Update Report (4)
documented this as the only case of cholera in Cuba for 2015. This
assumes only travelers and no locals have been infected. It is more
likely that the Cuban government does not share this information with
the international community, and is only compelled to cooperate after
scientific proof is disseminated.

In June 2015 the United Kingdom reported a traveler who participated in
an all-inclusive resort stay in Varadero and spent two days in Havana
before getting sick and returned home with cholera. According to the
International Society for Infectious Disease, through their Program for
Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMed- mail) posting on July 3, 2015, the
patient indicated other family members were well. However, "several
other people staying in his hotel (not necessarily in the same tour
group) had reported severe gastroenteritis symptoms with a similar
period of onset," suggesting this may not be the only case. Pro-Med
seeks to share this information and advise others of the confirmed
cholera in Cuba and for health professionals to consider such a
diagnosis with travelers returning with diarrhea. (5)

The question is not whether cholera is a risk to locals and visitors.
Rather, the issue is why has the CDC removed the notification from its
website when outside country evidence continues to show cholera exists
within Cuba.

Are we left to speculate that the promotion of diplomatic relations- in
an attempt to not question Cuba's position on reporting disease
outbreaks as required by World Health Organization International Health
Regulations- is more important than the prevention and promotion of
health security? Let's not play politics with what we know is a best
practice in prevention. Give people access to reliable information so
they are well informed of their potential risks. Only then can good
decisions be made to prevent cholera-or for that matter dengue,
chikungunya or possibly zika virus (new mosquito born virus to reach the
Caribbean) when traveling to Cuba.


1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Travel Notices-
Cholera in Cuba,", accessed July
14, 2015.

2) M Mascarello, M L Deianam C Maurel, C Lucarelli , I Luzzi R Luzzati,
"Cholera with Severe Renal Failure in An Italian Tourist Returning from
Cuba," Eurosurveillance, July 2013. Volume 18, Issue 35, August 29,

3) Public Health Agency for Canada, Travel Health Notice: Cholera in
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, updated March 20, 2015

4) PAHO Epidemiologic Update. "Cholera in The Americas," June 24, 2015

5) ProMed- Mail. "Cholera, Diarrhea and dysentery update (24):
Americas," Archive Number: 20150703.3480336July 3, 2015


*Sherri L. Porcelain teaches global health in world affairs at the
University of Miami where she is also a Senior Research Associate at the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

Source: The Politics of Prevention: Cholera in Cuba - Misceláneas de
Cuba - Continue reading
Blessed be filtered water / 14ymedio, Elvira Fernandez
Posted on October 5, 2014

14ymedio, Ciego de Avila, Elvira Fernandez, 26 September 2014 – "This
water will satisfy you for today. Jesus will satisfy you for eternity,
do you accept him?" it reads above the two taps, in one of the most
useful and widely appreciated places in Ciego de Avila today. It is the
people's filtered water service point opened by the Pentecostal
Evangelical Church in its Voice of Jubilee Assembly of God Church in the
La Guajira neighborhood.

It rains frequently here, but the city suffers a scarcity of potable
water. People are afraid to drink the water from the aqueduct network
because it is almost always contaminated with sewage waste, due to the
abundance of cracks and leaks in the pipes. For the people, in addition,
in an environment where hygiene isn't front and center, this water is
one of the few chances to prevent contagious diseases such as cholera,
which seems to be here to stay.

The modern filtration equipment has been donated by an evangelical
congregation in the United States, which is dedicated to providing this
type of assistance to countries facing humanitarian crises, such as
Haiti. In Cuba they keep about forty similar pieces of equipment
running. In Ciego de Avila province there is another in the Pentecostal
church in the Venezuela municipality.

The modern filtration equipment has been donated by an evangelical
congregation of the United States

Four days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) the doors of
the side yard of the church open to all, believers and non-believers,
between 2 pm and 11 pm. At first they came with small bottles, but most
have already made tanks, tanks and big jugs because, with a single trip
and after waiting so long, they are trying to accumulate the water for
several days. And the lines are getting longer again. The people waiting
when the sun shelter in the doorways all around.

The church can not cope and, lately with very little water falling in
the tank, they have to pay for water from the Communal Company's pipes.
A woman carrying several bottles says: "I have two children and I feel
very safe when I can be assured of this water. In my house, no one wants
to drink any other. But I'm worried, what if this disappears?"

Given the shortage, the increasing demand and the difficulties, expands
fear of a reduction in service. A new sign has appeared on the church
gate has caused general concern, as it heralds drastic rationing:

"We have little water, but we want to continue helping with filtered
water, therefore, during this situation, we can only give you 5 liters
per person. We expect your cooperation, thank you. God bless you."

Source: Blessed be filtered water / 14ymedio, Elvira Fernandez |
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Alerta Epidemiológica
1 de octubre 2013

Situación actual de los brotes de cólera en la Región

Cuba: no ha reportado nuevos casos. La situación continua siendo la
misma que la
informada en la Alerta Epidemiológica del 26 de septiembre con un total
de 678 casos
confirmados de cólera1, incluyendo tres defunciones, registrados desde
la semana
epidemiológica (SE) 27 del 2012 hasta la SE 34 del 2013. Los casos se
registraron en las provincias
de Camagüey, Granma, Guantánamo, La Habana y Santiago de Cuba, así como
también en
otros municipios asociados a estas provincias.

Haití: desde el inicio de la epidemia (octubre 2010) a la SE 38 del
2013, se han registrado
678.840 casos de cólera, de los cuales 377.426 fueron hospitalizados
(55,5%) y 8.289 fallecieron.
La tasa de letalidad acumulada continua siendo del 1,2% desde noviembre
del 2011, aunque
con variaciones que oscilan entre 4,3% en el departamento de Sud Est a
0,6% en Port-au-Prince.

Desde la SE 1 y hasta la SE 11 del 2013, el número de casos y
defunciones a nivel nacional
fue superior a lo registrado en el mismo período del 2012 debido a
brotes registrados en los
departamentos de Artibonite, Centre, Grande Anse y Ouest. A partir de la
SE 12 y hasta la SE 38
del 2013, el número de casos y defunciones es inferior a lo registrado
en el mismo periodo del

México: el Centro Nacional de Enlace para el Reglamento Sanitario
Internacional de
México notificó 36 nuevos casos, confirmados de infección autóctona por
Vibrio cholerae O1
Ogawa toxigénico en el estado de Hidalgo. Con este reporte, el número
total de casos
confirmados de cólera asciende a 46, incluyendo una defunción, de los
cuales dos se
registraron en el Distrito Federal y 44 en el estado de Hidalgo.

Los casos corresponden a 24 mujeres y 22 hombres con un rango de edad
entre los 2 y 82
años de edad.

Las autoridades de salud de México continúan reforzando las actividades
de vigilancia
epidemiológica a nivel nacional, asegurando la disponibilidad de insumos
y calidad de la
atención en las unidades médicas, así como también realizando acciones
para asegurar el
acceso agua potable y saneamiento básico a nivel comunitario y
monitoreando y verificando
el cloro residual.

República Dominicana: desde el inicio de la epidemia (noviembre del
2010) y hasta la SE 38
del 2013, el total de casos sospechosos de cólera registrados es de
31.021, de los cuales 456
fallecieron. Tal como informado previamente, desde la SE 1 a la SE 9 del
2013, el número de
casos sospechosos y defunciones por cólera en el país fue superior a lo
registrado en el mismo
periodo del 2012, debido a brotes ocurridos en algunas provincias y en
el Centro Penitenciario
de La Altagracia. Seguido a este incremento, se registró un descenso en
el número de casos
sospechosos y defunciones a partir de la SE 10 y hasta la SE 31 del
2013; posteriormente entre la
SE 32 y la SE 38 se registró un nuevo incremento de casos sospechosos, a
expensas de brotes
ocurridos en las provincias de La Altagracia, Maria Trinidad Sanchez,
San Cristóbal y Santiago.

En relación a la letalidad, al final del 2011 la letalidad acumulada fue
del 1,7%, al final del
2012 del 0,8% y en lo que va del año 2013 es de 2,1%.
La OPS/OMS reitera que siguen vigentes las recomendaciones formuladas en
la Alerta
Epidemiológica del 2 de noviembre del 2012.

1. Ministry of Public Health and Population, Haiti: Rapports journaliers
du MSPP sur l'evolution
du cholera en Haiti.Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Ministry of Public Health and
Population, Haiti;
2013. Disponible en:

2. Boletín Epidemiológico de República Dominicana. Semana Epidemiológica
38, 2013.
Disponible en:

3. Boletín Epidemiológico de México. Semana Epidemiológica 38, 2013.
Disponible en:

1 Entre los casos confirmados se incluyen 12 casos en viajeros
procedentes de diferentes países. Continue reading
Beer Scam in Havana
September 26, 2013
Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES — The Bucanero beer had been adulterated. It had no foam,
tasted bad and gave my friend a strong headache. I don't think we'll be
buying anything at the kiosk at the intersection of 23 and G in Havana
anymore, what with the lousy service we got and the general lack of
cleanliness there.

Such anecdotes don't seem to be news to anyone these days. These things
happen so often nowadays that talking about them seems redundant. But we
should not grow tired of criticizing things that are ultimately nothing
other than a form of abuse.

If you pay for a beer in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC), you have the
right to be treated by the clerk with kindness and attentiveness, rather
than peevishness and indifference.

When we got to the counter, we looked at the two clerks so as to get
their attention. The woman seemed to be doing an inventory, as though
she'd just started her shift, while the other, considerably younger
clerk, sitting in front of her, was counting a large quantity of coins
on top of a freezer.

Neither paid us any attention. My friend had to speak to them. The young
man looked at her, without stopping the coin-counting, and said: "Yes?"

"Is the beer cold?"


"Do you have glasses?"

"Have a seat at one of the tables."

Two minutes later, the young man came to our table with two beers – a
Bucanero for my friend and a Cristal for me – but no glasses. He opened
the cans in such a way that his fingers seemed to dip into the beer
through the holes in the cans.

My friend, who comes from a country that, though not devoid of problems,
imposes strict hygienic regulations on all food and beverage
establishments, couldn't take it anymore and went off the handle.

The young man listened to her sermon and, with something of an altar-boy
look to him, said curtly: "I'll get you some glasses."

He came back with some glasses that looked dirty, as though they'd been
used many times and not properly washed. Haven't we been told there are
cases of cholera out there?

My friend had a sip of her beer and was almost tempted to throw it out.
It didn't foam, tasted bad and, to top things off, was not even cold.
The Cristal was a bit better, though also not cold enough.

So the woman behind the counter, who seemed to be the boss and looked
even more irritated than the kid, told the young clerk not to sell any
more Cristal beer, to tell anyone who came along they only had Bucanero.
Needless to say, the coolers were filled with both brands.

Had I heard wrong? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't they
stop selling the product in bad condition? Why was she intent on selling
the watered-down Bucanero? To screw the customers? As a
counterrevolutionary protest?

No. She couldn't have cared less about any of that. She simply wanted to
sell off the products she had brought to replace the ones she took. I'm
almost positive of this, which I know is the modus operandi in
situations like this one. I saw it with my own eyes when I worked as a
security guard in the town of Guanabo, on the outskirts of Havana.

What clerks do is buy several crates of beer of dubious origin at
lower-than-market prices and sell them, pocketing the difference.

As is the case in other areas, this is an open secret and no one does
anything about it. Someone may question the fact I am spilling the
beans, but not the practice as such. In brief, part and parcel of the
absurd system we live in.

For those who are reading this with good intentions: this happened this
past September 17th, at around five in the afternoon, on a day like any
other in Havana.

Source: "Adulterated Beer Scams are Commonplace in Cuba" - Continue reading
Posted on Monday, 08.26.13

Cuba reports more cholera among foreign visitors

Cuba-born New York high school teacher Alfredo Gómez says it was bad
enough that he contracted cholera during a family visit to Havana this
summer. Then he got a bill from the government hospital -- $4,700.

Gómez' complaint came as Havana reported that a total of 12 foreign
tourists and 151 Cubans have come down with cholera in recent months –
though Gómez says his hospital ward alone had six to 15 foreigners on
every one of the six days that he spent there.

The Havana report on cholera, the second in August alone, seemed to hint
at a growing transparency by Cuban officials who previously kept quiet
about the disease in a bid to avoid damaging the island's $2.5
billion-a-year tourism industry, experts said.

A bulletin Friday by the Pan American Health Organization said Cuba that
same day had reported 163 cases in the provinces of Havana, Santiago de
Cuba and Camagüey. PAHO, the hemispheric branch of the World Health
Organization, indicated that those cases took place this year but gave
no specific time frame.

Among those cases were 12 persons who had travelled to Cuba from other
countries – three from Italy, two each from Germany, Spain, Chile and
Venezuela and one from the Netherlands, PAHO noted. Cuba had reported
six of those cases to PAHO earlier this month.

Independent journalists and visitors like Gómez have been reporting
hundreds more cases never confirmed by Cuba, where the state-run news
media virtually never uses the word "cholera" and instead refers to
cases of "acute diarrheic diseases."

Gómez, 49, who left Cuba in 1997 and now teaches math at the William
Nottingham High School in Syracuse, N.Y., said he and two relatives were
hit by intense diarrheas two days after they ate together at a state-run
restaurant in Havana in late July.

Doctors at the Manuel Fajardo Hospital told them they had cholera, Gómez
said, and transferred him to the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical
Medicine, where the fourth floor of the hospital is reserved for
foreigners who contract the disease.

Gómez said at least six and up to 15 foreigners were on the floor each
of the six days he spent there, Aug. 4-10, receiving antibiotics and
intravenous fluids for the disease, which is easily transmitted through
water and can kill through dehydration.

That same week more than 60 Cubans were being treated in Kouri hospital
wards reserved for island residents with cholera, he said, and a nephew
told him that a large number of people had been struck by the disease in
the Havana suburb of Mantilla.

The treatment fore foreigners at the hospital was very good and much
better than the treatment for island residents, he added, but problems
started when the foreign patients received huge bills as they were about
the leave the hospital.

He heard two Spaniards on the phone with their insurance companies in
Madrid trying to figure out how and what to pay, Gómez said. And he was
pressured strongly to pay his own bill with his credit cards or through
his U.S. health insurance policy.

"They really want to charge me, and they tried by all means that I
should pay," he said in a phone interview from Syracuse. "It was a rude,
abusive attitude. They would not let met leave without paying."

The bill he was shown was for $4,700 but he left without paying, he
added, arguing that the U.S. embargo banned him from paying and that in
any case his bill should be paid by the government-run restaurant where
he contracted cholera.

Cuba technically requires all visitors from abroad to obtain separate
Cuban health insurance policies, which usually are purchased on arrival
at an airport. It is not clear why those policies would not have paid
for the foreigners' stays at the Kouri hospital.

Cholera reappeared in Cuba last summer, after a 100-year absence, with
the return of Cuban medical personnel who had worked in Haiti, where an
epidemic has killed more than 8,200 people since 2010. Havana has
confirmed only three deaths on the island, although independent
journalists have reported dozens more.

PAHO's statement Friday meanwhile said Havana had reported 47 cholera
cases after Hurricane Sandy swept over the eastern part of the island in
October, and another 51 cases in the province of Havana at the beginning
of this year.

Havana's report lacked details "but they seem to be trying to be more
public," said Sherri Porcelain, a University of Miami lecturer in global
public health and senior research associate at the Institute for Cuban
and Cuban-American Studies.

Cuba "reported that prompt and appropriate control actions were
implemented in response to these outbreaks," PAHO added, without
mentioning the state-run news media's refusal in most cases to use the
word "cholera."

"Per the information received, Cuba continues to develop and implement
cholera prevention and control plans, to strengthen awareness of
preventive measures by the public, to control food preparations sites,
and carry out epidemiological surveillance of acute diarrheal diseases,"
PAHO said.

"Public health awareness campaigns were intensified during the summer
season; particularly those related to hand washing, chlorinated water
intake, safe food preparation (and) washing of fruits and vegetables.

Source: "Cuba reports more cholera among foreign visitors - Cuba -" - Continue reading
Guantanamo, Cuba Has Its Shanties Too
June 26, 2013
Rosa Martínez

HAVANA TIMES — According to Isbel Diaz Torres, the writer of one of
Havana Times' diaries I enjoy reading the most, Indalla is a shantytown
located in the very heart of the Cuban capital which not even the
president of its municipality knew existed.

I do not live in the capital. In fact, I live in the province which is
furthest from Havana, in my beloved Guantanamo.

Though some refer to my province as "Cuba's Cinderella", my city is
really not much different from other provincial capitals around the
country, with the possible exception of Havana, Santiago de Cuba, the
second most important city on the island, or, say, Matanzas.

Like most of the country, Guantanamo is still recovering from the
effects of Cuba's Special Period, a crisis which lasted far too long and
damaged a good part of the provinces' economic infrastructure.

It is also suffering the effects of a centralized economy that hasn't
yet been able to address the needs of the population, particularly of
those populations in the regions furthest from the capital.

Here in Guantanamo there are many Indallas, and I imagine all provinces
have at least one shanty neighborhood of this nature – areas of the city
where poverty, despair and hopelessness reach veritable extremes.

I myself live in a Indalla, surrounded by shabby, makeshift houses that
threaten to collapse at any moment, by people with a high rate of
alcoholism, unemployment, delinquency and all forms of violence.

I don't know whether we need an outbreak of cholera to draw a government
authority to this neighborhood which even the gods have forsaken. I
don't know whether the houses here need to collapse entirely for their
inhabitants to finally get some kind of aid (and it would be hard to
imagine such a situation, for these houses are like trailers, assembled
and taken apart with relative ease).

What I am certain of is that this Indalla, like the one in Havana,
doesn't need the government to come and evict its residents. On the
contrary, what this neighborhood needs is for the government to include
it in its development plans, for it to make building materials
available, at reasonable prices which the population can afford, and
thus oblige people to construct homes with basic living conditions.

Source: "Guantanamo, Cuba Has Its Shanties Too - Havana" - Continue reading
Cuban Port Town Swamped by Sewage
Posted by News Editor in Latest News, RSS, Waste on June 6, 2013 9:51 am
/ no comments
By Osniel Carmona Breijo

HAVANA, Cuba, June 6, 2013 (ENS) – Residents of a port town south of
Havana say that their streets are constantly flooded with raw sewage,
despite promises by the local authorities to replace damaged pipes.

Surgidero de Batabanó, the main shipping and fishing port on the south
coast of Mayabeque province, has to contend with an overflow of hundreds
of gallons of contaminated water, which sometimes even runs into houses.

According to one resident, Anaís Cañete, large puddles of sewage
containing human feces are a common sight, and the situation becomes
critical with the arrival of the rainy season.

"A downpour turns the roads into rivers of filth, preventing people from
leaving their homes," Cañete said, adding, "When there's coastal
flooding, the sea turns the town into a huge septic tank.

"Once – I can't remember during which cyclone it was – the water supply
was contaminated and we had to get supplies from tankers for more than a

She says the root of the problem is lack of maintenance of the sewage
system, designed to flow into septic tanks and ditches located outside
the town.

Over time, blockages in the pipes have led to continuous leaks.
Residents have made numerous official complaints about the problem,
which they say dates back more than three decades.

Two years ago, the local council promised to replace the most damaged
pipes, but this is yet to happen.

The situation in the port, which forms part of the city of Batabanó, is
representative of wider environmental problems affecting Mayabeque
province as a whole.

Two years ago, Cuba's National Statistics Office said state investment
in environmental protection in Mayabeque had fallen drastically since
2005. In 2011, the government only invested 113,000 pesos, US$4,520, in
water management across the entire province, which has a population of
about 380,000.

According to Cañete, it is residents themselves who take responsibility
for everyday repairs of the water system. The provincial administration
only sends a team of workers round with a tanker to check for blockages
and remove sewage in the more extreme cases.

The economy of Surgidero de Batabanó is based on fishing, but there are
also agricultural areas, which are sometimes flooded with polluted
drainage water.

Antonio Luzardo, a small farmer who mainly produces rice and watercress
– both crops that require large amounts of water – said he had lost his
entire harvest on more than one occasion.

In periods of heavy rain, waste contaminated with various waterborne
pests, bacteria and chemical residues from cleaning products enter the
canal irrigation system and spread to his fields.

"Every time it happens, I lose most of my crops, at the very least,"
said Luzardo. "Also, the pests and decomposing matter from the drains
means I can't go out and tend to the crops in the field. I tried that
once and I got various types of skin allergy. I can't risk getting sick."

Locals say that despite the obvious health risks posed by sewage and
general flooding, there have been no reports of serious illness, a claim
corroborated by a source in the statistics department of the local
health centre, who asked to remain anonymous.

"No one has got cholera or dengue fever here," Cañete said. "Our bodies
have adapted to infection. We're cured. Not even mosquitos want to bite us."

{This report was first published June 6, 2013 by the Institute for War
and Peace Reporting}. Continue reading
Cuba wants to swap drugs for Dominican products
Jun 5 at 8:54 AM

Santo Domingo.- Havana proposed to Santo Domingo a swap of its drugs and
other local products, Cuba's Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Center (IGBC) director Luis Herrera Martinez announced Tuesday.

He said the Cuban government contacted president Danilo Medina last
week, and proposed "the possibility of sharing mechanisms and marketing
of pharmaceutical products" with products of Dominican origin.

The proposal was channeled through the company TecnHospital Dominican
SRL, which locally represents the drugs made by the IGBC.

"As the result of our research in the field of health, we in Cuba have
vaccines and therapies, many of them unique in the world, enabling us to
showcase the best indicators of health and rid public health of diseases
that still cause havoc in the Dominican Republic," the proposal says.

"One example is that we have a product Herberprot, unique worldwide, to
treat diabetic foot ulcers and decrease amputations, in addition to
pentavalent vaccines and anti hepatitis B, interferon, among others," it

Both nations have common illnesses such as dengue, leptospirosis,
cholera, diabetes and hypertension, the difference is that Cuba has
vaccines for some of them and works on others for their cure.

Cuban's health system development has propelled the country to boast the
world's lowest infant mortality rate. Continue reading
Indalla Is Located in Cuba
May 27, 2013
Isbel Díaz Torres

indallaHAVANA TIMES — Indalla is a shantytown located in the heart of
the Cuban capital, whose existence even the president of the
municipality where it is situated was unaware of.

At the boundary between Havana's west-laying municipalities of Marianao
and La Lisa, this marginal neighborhood was discovered a few months ago
by the mayor of its own local government, while sanitation units were
conducting a health inspection in the area.

The outbreak of cholera in Marianao last year put sanitation authorities
on alert for several weeks, and some of the inspections conducted
reached Indalla, which had been contaminated by the foul outpours of the
Quibu river and where three cases of cholera were registered.

puenteThe poor families who live in this neighborhood had never before
had the "privilege" of being visited by the mayor, not at the illegal
settlement of numberless houses where they continue to eke out an existence.

Several of the houses in this slum are located directly beneath
high-tension electrical cables, something that is both illegal and
extremely dangerous, to the point of putting the lives of its residents
at risk, but, apparently, the local government turns a blind eye on
this, having no real alternative to offer these people.

The neighborhood was informally established at the end of the 80s and
beginning of the 90s, when there were plans of constructing a laboratory
for the Jose Antonio Echevarria Higher Polytechnic Institute (CUJAE) in
the area.

enfermeraLarge quantities of materials were taken to the site, but
construction was halted with the onslaught of the Special Period
economic crisis. Despite the frustrated plans, many people stayed and
settled there, employed at CUJAE's cafeteria.

Others, according to a resident, grew marihuana and sold it at the
moderate price of 5 Cuban pesos per beer-bottle cap of the herb.

Today, the walls of the neighborhood show symbols of the Abakua
religión. Though attempts to found a congregation there were made, the
initiative was turned down by other, neighboring religious organizations.

I can only hope the government will pay these places more frequent
visits, not to evict its inhabitants (as was recently done in Guanabo),
but to help these Cuban families who live under very difficult conditions. Continue reading
Posted on Sunday, 04.14.13

Castro wants money, not a dialogue

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died, and Raúl Castro is searching for
"investors" in Cuba. Chávez spent billions of Venezuela's petro-dollars
shoring up Cuba's economy but Venezuela's new leaders may not be as
beneficent. Venezuela may cut off its Cuban subsidy, just as new Russian
leaders did after the Soviet Union's demise.

American taxpayers are at the top of Castro's list, but can the Cuban
communist government cash in on its years of political theater
proclaiming itself the victim of American economic aggression while
running its own economy into the ground and training and financing
anti-American insurgencies around the world?

Perhaps it can, given that the collective U.S. memory is rather short if
not wholly forgiving.

Earlier this year, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy visited the Cuban dictator
and returned home saying this is the time "to overcome continuing
obstacles" and " to improve relations" because that would be in the
"best interests of both countries." The senator means well, but his
statements cry out for a more detailed appraisal of U.S.-Cuban relations.

The real questions are: Improve relations for what purpose? And under
what conditions? It might be in America's best interests to improve
relations with North Korea, Syria and Iran too, but the obstacles
standing in the way are similar to those in Cuba. There is no quid pro
quo their leaders are willing to offer.

Granted that while in Cuba, Sen. Leahy managed to wrangle permission
from Gen. Castro to visit Alan Gross, a subcontractor with the
U.S.Agency for International Development, who is serving a 15-year
prison sentence. Gross after-the-fact "crime" was giving a laptop
computer and satellite telephone to a Jewish organization seeking access
to the Internet.

Gross is innocent and also quite ill. Amnesty International reports he's
lost more than 100 pounds in prison, and he has developed a growth that
may be cancerous. Havana won't allow an American physician chosen by his
family to see him.

There are others. Amnesty International says that Calixto Martinez, a
Cuban independent journalist — a reporter not working for state-run
media — was jailed when he went to Havana's international airport to ask
about a shipment of cholera medication sent by the World Health
Organization. He has not been charged nor had a trial. Havana does not
want tourists to hear about a cholera outbreak.

But, back to the benefits of lifting what remains of the U.S. embargo
against the Castros' dynasty: Cuba is broke and has suspended payments
to many creditors.

There is no ban on American companies selling foodstuffs or medicines to
Cuba, which they do on a "cash-and-carry" basis. But Washington won't
provide credit to Cuba, i.e., absorb the loss if the regime fails to pay
its suppliers. Thus American companies selling to Cuba get paid and
American taxpayers aren't on the hook when the regime fails to pay what
it owes.

Individually, Cubans have no "purchasing power" to speak of. The
government is the island's only "employer" and pays workers the
equivalent of $20 a month. Except for cigars, Cuba now has very little
to sell to anyone. For 200 years, the engine of Cuba's economy was its
sugar industry. It is now in shambles due to "state planning."

Lastly, the United States lists Cuba as a state-sponsor of international
terrorism. It does so, despite the best efforts of Ana Belen Montes, a
high-ranking Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, who presented Havana
as peace-loving and no threat to anyone. Montes was a spy for Cuba. She
pleaded guilty and is now in a federal penitentiary. Her "reports" are
still used by Castro's advocates.

It is difficult to improve relations with dictatorships that deny human
rights, ban labor unions and abuse and jail peaceful dissidents for
talking about democracy. Visiting members of European parliaments have
been arbitrarily arrested in Cuba.

President Obama tried unilaterally to extend a "hand of friendship"
without success. Today Havana wants money, not a meaningful dialogue
that might lead to a "transition."

Like Sen. Leahy, I wish things could be different, but that requires a
demonstrable Castro initiative to change the nature of his rule in Cuba.

Frank Calzon is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in
Washington. Continue reading
Document – Cuba: Further information: Prisoner of conscience on hunger strike: Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias Further information on UA: 25/13 Index: AMR 25/002/2013 Cuba Date: 14 March 2013 URGENT ACTION PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE ON HUNGER STRIKE image1.png Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias is on hunger strike to protest against his […] Continue reading
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As Hurricane Sandy devastates Cuba, bloggers rise to the challenge Posted by Max Fisher on October 29, 2012 at 10:31 am Cuban bloggers are showing surprising initiative in responding to Hurricane Sandy, which has killed 11 and caused significant dama... Continue reading
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Who Can We Ask? October 13, 2012 Esteban Morales* People buy newspapers but usually do so only by inertia, because day after day they won't find anything of interest in them. Photo:Caridad HAVANA TIMES — For people like me who enjoy writing, we also like it when others read our work. But this isn't enough. […] Continue reading
The Collapse / Cuban Law Association – Veizant Boloy Cuban Law Association, Veizant Boloy Across the country, inhabited homes continue to collapse. The housing deficit and the bad conditions of housing in Cuba can be cataloged as a "chronicl... Continue reading