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Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 16 June 2017 — Alejandro Marcel Mendivil, successful
entrepreneur, owner of El Litoral, a restaurant located at Malecon #161,
between L & K, and the restaurant Lungo Mare, located in 1ra Esquina C,
in the Vedado district, was arrested in Havana on June 8.

The reasons are not clear. Some claim that Marcel Mendivil is accused of
money laundering and ties to drug trafficking; and others claim that if
you are "noticed" in Cuba, it has a price.

"Alejandro is a young man hungry for challenges and pleasure. He has
money, social recognition, he helps all his neighbors, has ties to
diplomats as important as the ones in the American Embassy. He also has
dealings with high ranking Cuban military and maintains very important
access to the government elite. His ambitions go beyond those of common
entrepreneurs, and to that add that the fact that he has charisma. Isn't
that a lethal combination? Alejandro is no drug trafficker or money
launderer; he only tested power and ended up making it angry," says one
of the neighbors of his restaurant El Litoral, a retiree from the
Ministry of the Interior.

"It was early in the morning, says an employee, the sea was flat as a
plate when the operative began. Not even the Interior Ministry (MININT),
nor the state officials gave any explanations in order to close the
restaurant. They (the police) only told the employees that were present
that we had to leave the place and look for another job in another
restaurant because this closure was going to last. We were closed once,
when an issue with the alcohol, but Alejandro solved it".

"They got in and identified themselves as members of the State
Security's Technical Department of Investigations (DTI). They checked
the accounting, the kitchen, lifted some tiles from the floor and they
even took nails from the walls. An official with a mustache, who
wouldn't stop talking with someone on his BLU cellphone, was saying that
they would find evidence to justify the charge of drug trafficking."

"That looked like a theater, but with misleading script. It was not the
DTI. In fact, Alejandro was not jailed at 100 and Aldabo, but rather
held incommunicado in Villa Marista (a State Security prison). The whole
thing was a State Security operation to put a stop Alejandro, who was
earning money working and was becoming an attractive figure; in a
country such as this one, where leaders, all of them, are very weak."

The incident is timely to a discussion held during the extraordinary
session of the National Assembly of People's Power, which took place
last May 30, where the Cuban vice-president Marino Murillo asserted that
the new model of the socialist island "will not allow the concentration
of property or wealth even when we are promoting the existence of the
private sector."

According to sources consulted in the Prosecutor General of the Republic
of Cuba, there are plans for measures similar to those taken against
Marcel Mendivil for these wealthy and influential owners of a paladar
(private restaurant) located in Apartment 1, Malecon 157, between K&L,
Vedado. And also against another one in Egido 504 Alton, between Montes
& Dragones, Old Havana, in addition to two in Camaguey that were not

Translated by: LYD

Source: Prosperous Cuban Entrepreneur Arrested / Juan Juan Almeida –
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Un viejo conflicto con una sola solución En Cuba el apartheid va mucho más allá de la raza Lunes, julio 3, 2017 | Tania Díaz Castro LA HABANA, Cuba.- La triste historia del negro discriminado, en muchas partes del planeta, es más vieja que andar a pie. Es posible que sólo haya tenido gran parte […] Continue reading
The Lethargy Of A Coastal Town In Camagüey

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Florida, Cuba, 26 June 2017 — "The sea water
cleans everything," Agustin reflects as he calls out his
merchandise. This 74-year-old forensic assistant now works renting
inflatable boats for the fishermen of Playa Florida, in Camagüey, a
coastal strip where tourists rarely come and the economic crisis is
strongly felt.

"I came here to escape the odor of death, and I did," jokes the worker,
one of the few residents in the unpopulated streets on Friday. On every
side many of the few houses that do not seem vacant exhibit a "for sale"
sign. "All of Playa Florida is for sale but no one wants to buy it," a
resident jokes.

Lacking the natural beauty of the north coast, with no functioning
industries and no important crops, the area is experiencing times of
hardship that have worsened in recent years. On the entrance road, a
rusted out anchor gives visitors a preview of the lethargy they will
find here.

Only 24 miles separate the fishermen's village from the municipal
center, but it takes between four and six hours to cover the route due
to the poor state of the road and the lack of public transport. On both
sides of the road, the invasive marabou weed rises defiantly.

Lack communication characterizes the village. Nowhere among its crowded
streets has a public telephone been installed and cell phones only
manage to pick up a signal near the medical clinic, due to the poor
coverage of the area.

The lack of mobility also sinks the area's small businesses. The private
restaurant Comida Criollo barely survives after being opened five
years. Alfredo, the paladar's chef, says that "from time to time a
foreign tourist arrives." People who "explore every corner with a map in
hand," but they are fewer and fewer.

Of the 4 million visitors who arrived in Cuba last year, only a few
dozen came to this coast without white sands or crystal clear water,
where to take a dip the bather must wear shoes to avoid the mud, stones
and mangrove roots.

"Without tourists there is no money," Bururu, an informal realtor,
tells 14ymedio. The high number of homes for sale has caused a collapse
of prices in the area. "A two-room house with a covered porch, cistern
and garden can cost less than 1,000 CUC (roughly $1,000 US)," he says.

"They put a jacuzzi in the bathroom and all the furniture inside is from
the mall," says Bururú while pointing to a newly painted building. The
dealer takes his time to describe the characteristics of each house,
hoping to make at least one sale.

"People do not want to stay because there is nothing to do here," he
explains to the 14ymedio. The man blames the stampede on the fact that
"there are no recreational options and also nowhere to work". "[The
fishing] is not as good as in other places, so it gives you something to
eat but not enough to make a living," he emphasizes.

Near the coastline, a fisherman removes the scales from a sea bass he
caught that morning. "I promised it to a family that wants to celebrate
the birthday of their youngest son," he tells a woman who inquires about
the price of fish.

"The fishing is very affected since they built the embankment," says the
fisherman. "This area used to get a lot of oysters, but that has
decreased a lot," he adds.

The narrow and rugged access road divides the wetland in two and it has
lost a part of the mangroves in its southern area. "Experts came here to
research it and said that cutting the flow of water had increased the
salinity and that is killing the mangroves."

In 2009 the United Nations Small Grants Program provided more than
$40,000 in funding for ecosystem recovery, but eight years later the
damage has hardly been reversed. "The sea water has entered the river
Mala Fama inland," says the fisherman.

The coast has also been affected by rising sea levels, to the extent
that rumors of relocating the village have increased in recent
years. Wooden palisades are trying to slow down the push of the waves
during hurricanes, but they seem like ridiculous chopsticks in the face
of the immensity of the Caribbean.

The picture of deterioration is completed by the Argentina Campsite.
where for months there has been neither electricity nor water. Julia,
the guard who watches the entrance of the abandoned place, is
categorical. "Here in Florida Beach, the only thing that is abundant is
gnats and mosquitoes."

Source: The Lethargy Of A Coastal Town In Camagüey – Translating Cuba - Continue reading
El letargo de un pueblo costero en Camagüey
REINALDO ESCOBAR, Florida | Junio 26, 2017

"El agua de mar lo limpia todo", reflexiona Agustín mientras pregona su
mercancía. Este antiguo ayudante de forense, a sus 74 años, se dedica a
alquilar cámaras inflables para los pescadores de Playa Florida, en
Camagüey, una franja costera donde los turistas apenas llegan y la
crisis económica se hace sentir con fuerza.

"Vine aquí para quitarme el olor a muerto y lo logré", bromea el
trabajador, uno de los pocos vecinos que este viernes se veía en las
despobladas calles. A cada lado, muchas de las pocas casas que no
parecen vacías, exhiben un cartel de "se vende". "Toda Playa Florida
está a remate pero nadie la quiere comprar", ironiza un residente.

Carente de la belleza natural de la costa norte, sin industrias
funcionando ni importantes cultivos, la zona atraviesa tiempos de
penurias que se han agudizado en los últimos años. En la carretera de
entrada, un ancla carcomida por el óxido adelanta al visitante el
letargo que encontrará en el lugar.

Solo 40 kilómetros separan al poblado de pescadores de la cabecera
municipal, pero se necesitan entre cuatro y seis horas para cubrir el
trayecto debido al mal estado del camino y al poco flujo de transporte.
A ambos lados de la vía, el marabú se alza desafiante.

La incomunicación se ceba con el pueblo. En ningún lugar entre sus
apretadas calles se ha instalado un teléfono público y los celulares
solo logran captar la señal en los alrededores del consultorio médico,
debido a la mala cobertura del área.

La escasa movilidad también ahoga a los pequeños negocios de la zona. El
restaurante particular Comida Criolla sobrevive a duras penas después de
cinco años abierto. Alfredo, el chef de la paladar, cuenta que "de vez
en cuando llega algún turista extranjero". Gente que "anda explorando
todos los rincones con un mapa en la mano", pero son los menos.

De los 4 millones de visitantes que arribaron a Cuba el pasado año,
apenas unas decenas llegaron hasta esta costa sin arenas blancas ni agua
cristalina, donde para darse un chapuzón el bañista debe usar calzado y
evadir el fango, las piedras y las raíces de los mangles.

"Sin turistas no hay dinero", cuenta a 14ymedio Bururú, un improvisado
agente inmobiliario. El elevado número de viviendas en venta ha
provocado un desplome de los precios en la zona. "Una casa de dos
habitaciones, con portal, cisterna y jardín puede costar hasta menos de
1.000 CUC", comenta.

"A esta le pusieron un jacuzzi en el baño y todos los muebles que tiene
adentro son de la shopping", afirma Bururú mientras señala un inmueble
recién pintado. El negociante se toma su tiempo para describir las
características de cada vivienda, deseoso de poder concretar al menos
una venta.

"La gente no quiere quedarse porque aquí no hay nada que hacer", explica
a 14ymedio. El hombre achaca la estampida a que "no hay opciones
recreativas y tampoco dónde trabajar". "[La pesca] no es tan buena como
en otros lugares, así que da para comer pero no para vivir del mar",

Apostado cerca de la costa, un pescador quita las escamas a un róbalo
que ha capturado en la mañana. "Lo tengo comprometido a una familia que
lo quiere para celebrar el cumpleaños del hijo más chiquito", le
responde a una mujer que indaga por el precio del pescado.

"La pesca está muy afectada desde que hicieron el terraplén", asegura el
pescador. "En esta zona antes se conseguía una buena cantidad de
ostiones, pero eso ha disminuido mucho", agrega.

La estrecha y accidentada carretera de acceso parte en dos el humedal
que ha perdido parte del mangle en su zona sur. "Aquí vinieron expertos
a revisar y dijeron que al cortar el flujo de agua había aumentado la
salinidad y eso está matando al mangle".

El Programa de Pequeñas Donaciones de las Naciones Unidas entregó en
2009 un financiamiento de más de 40.000 dólares para la recuperación del
ecosistema, pero ocho años después los daños apenas se han revertido.
"El agua de mar ha entrado por el río Mala Fama tierra adentro", comenta
el pescador.

La costa también se ha afectado con la subida del nivel del mar, hasta
el punto de que los rumores de trasladar el pueblo han aumentado en los
últimos años. Unas empalizadas de madera intentan frenar el empuje de
las olas durante los huracanes, pero parecen ridículos palillos frente a
la inmensidad del Caribe.

El cuadro del deterioro lo completa la base de campismo Argentina donde
desde hace meses no llega el suministro de electricidad ni de agua.
Julia, la custodia que vela a la entrada del abandonado local, se
muestra categórica. "Aquí en Playa Florida lo único que hay en
abundancia son jejenes y mosquitos".

Source: El letargo de un pueblo costero en Camagüey - Continue reading
How to get off the eaten track in Santiago de Cuba
A trip to Santiago de Cuba should start with dinner at a paladar
(family-run restaurant) and end with drinks on the roof of the Hotel
Casa Granda.
By JENNIFER BAIN Travel Editor
Wed., June 21, 2017

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA-Ramon Guilarte welcomes us to his home and
restaurant with a cocktail full of vitamin R. Will it be a Cuba Libre,
rum and cola, or Estacazo, rum and lemonade? Rum is ridiculously cheap here.

Esta Caso seems more fun, thanks to our host's animated explanation
(some of it lost in translation) about how drinking this is like getting
whacked with a stick. As we dig into platters of mango, papaya and
pineapple, Guilarte opens a bottle of rum and pours a little on the
ground as an offering to the saints for good luck, and then asks us each
how big a "stick" we want in our drinks.

"Don't expect a common restaurant," he warns with a theatrical flourish.
"Everybody that comes to the restaurant is a friend. I think it's
important that you feel like home — and these are not empty words."

La Fondita de Compay Ramon is a paladar, a family-run restaurant that
boosts the economy and gives tourists and locals the chance to connect.
At this farm-themed paladar we sit in cowhide "taburete" chairs found in
typical farms and our host is dressed like a traditional farmer.

In between a stunning red kidney bean soup and unpretentious platters
full of rice, pork, cabbage, shrimp, chicken and plantains, we learn
that Guilarte is a painter and empty nester with two daughters and two

"Painting, and the life of a painter, is very lonely. Painting is
totally opposite to this business." He opened Compay Ramon in 2012 in
the Ferrerido neighbourhood of Cuba's second largest city. His
neighbours don't mind the nightly commotion, maybe because they often
get to share the leftovers.

"Best food in Cuba," according to "the Intrepid Group" in one of the
many accolades scrawled artfully on the wall and dated Dec. 16, just
weeks after Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro died and weeks before my
first visit to Canada's favourite Caribbean island.

You'll find plenty of online accolades for our enthusiastic host. "Ramon
is a character," allows our Cubatur guide and translator Ricardo
Zaldivar Rodriguez, "but this is not a show."

I duck down the hall into the tiny kitchen to meet Guilarte's smiling
wife Mayra Gayoso Romaguera and her helper, who is washing dishes by
hand. I peek at a modest bedroom.

My first night in Cuba ends with a stewed green papaya dessert and
Guilarte showing how to roast coffee beans and brew coffee the
traditional way and then sharing a cigar.

Santiago de Cuba, with half a million people, is often described as "the
hottest city in Cuba" because of its temperature and charm.

We cram a lot into a whirlwind day — historic sites like the Santa
Ifgenia cemetery, where Castro's ashes are marked by a large rock from
the Sierra Maestra mountains, and where national hero/poet Jose Marti
has an elaborate mausoleum. People bring them red and white roses

We hit Antonio Maceo Revolution Square, a former fort/prison called
Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, and a Catholic church with a sacred
Virgin of Charity statue called El Cobre near a copper mine. I buy a
bundle of copper-tinged rocks from a guy in the parking lot.

Cubans make the most of what they are given. There is virtually no waste
here — public garbage cans are nearly always empty.

I'm more curious about the present than the past and so relish the
chance to wander down Calle Enramada, a pedestrian street where I don't
have time to join the lineup for hot churros.

"If you don't mention this street name," says Rodriguez, "it might be
said that you have never been to Santiago de Cuba."

At La Barrita Ron Caney, a bar by a rum factory, I sample seven-year-old
rum, smelling it with closed eyes, tilting the glass to see the body and
holding a sip in my throat while the house band plays traditional Cuban

There is music everywhere, in Plaza de Dolores, in Casa de la Trova Pepe
Sanchez, and at Tropicana, an outpost of Havana's famed cabaret.

"When we hear music, we start dancing," says Rodriguez, who sings and
dances throughout our week together.

At Restaurante Matamoros, the chef pops out of the kitchen to join the
band while we enjoy a soupy meat and vegetable stew called ajiaco. After
dinner we have coffee nearby at Café Constantin, where my Bembito Bomban
is a cheeky reference to Afro-Cuban women and combines coffee, cacao
liqueur and cinnamon.

Cuba is changing, so you will mix and match old and new.

Melia Santiago de Cuba is new, glitzy and a short drive from the
historic centre, with decent Wi-Fi (a very big deal), a pool, and a
breakfast buffet, where I wrapped thin slices of cheese around chunks of
guava paste.

In the heart of downtown, Hotel Casa Granda oozes colonial charm, with a
breezy rooftop restaurant and sweeping city views. For my last meal, I
had a Cuban sandwich (an American invention) and a local spin on
pepperoni pizza (forgive me).

It was no Fondita de Compay Ramon, but it was still equally, magically

Jennifer Bain was hosted by the Cuba Tourist Board, which didn't review
or approve this story.

When you go

Get there: I flew Cubana de Aviacion airlines ( ) direct to
Santiago de Cuba and flew home with a stop in Camaguey. WestJet, Air
Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing all fly to various spots in Cuba.

Get around: It's easy to take taxis around Santiago de Cuba, but if you
have a driver and guide (like I did with Cubatur), you'll have the bonus
of a translator/fixer.

Stay: I stayed at the modern Melia Santiago de Cuba (

Eat: Find La Fondita de Compay Ramon on Facebook.

Know: You can only buy Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) in Cuba and can't
exchange them at the end of your trip. Get them at the airport and
foreign exchange shops. Wi-Fi is limited to public squares and some
hotel lobbies. Buy a 60-minute Wi-Fi card for 2 CUC (about $2.75
Canadian) at the airport or your hotel. North American plugs don't work
so bring an adaptor for the European 220-volt system.

Source: How to get off the eaten track in Santiago de Cuba | Toronto
Star - Continue reading
Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In Havana

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 June 2017 – The closure of three
private restaurants in Havana last week has sparked doubts among owners
of food service businesses. The fact that the three paladares – private
restaurants – were rated "excellent" on Trip Advisor, one of the most
important travel sites on the web, has fueled fears that the authorities
are acting against the more prosperous businesses.

The police closed El Litoral, Dolce Vita and Lungo Mare, all located in
the Vedado neighborhood, after a high-profile operation and the seizure
of many goods, 14ymedio was able to confirm.

Alejandro Marcel Mendevil, the visible face of El Litoral, which
operates under the name of his mother, Nardis Francisca Mendivil, had
previously had legal problems when working for a company linked to the
Ministry of Tourism, according to an employee of the place who preferred
to remain anonymous. On that occasion he was "under investigation with
other employees" for an alleged diversion of resources detected in the
entity, which operated with foreign capital.

That investigation ended without charges but according to the same
employee "the suspicion clung to him that he was laundering the
embezzled money through El Litoral."

Nardis Francisca Mendivil, legal owner of El Litoral, refuses to talk to
the press so as not to harm her son, who is imprisoned in 100 and Aldabó
and subject to a warning from State Security, but she does deny the
version published by some media according to which he was the proprietor
of the three closed paladares.

"We have nothing to do with Lungo Mare," said the mother of the
detainee. Other sources stated that her son also managed that paladar at
one time, but had sold it "a few months ago."

In addition, Señora Mendival complains that it is not the first time
that they have tried to impute false crimes to her son; in the past he
was accused of the death of a police officer who, according to Señora
Mendival, shot "himself in a patrol car," a few yards from the restaurant.

The closing of the restaurants took place after an exhaustive search by
the Technical Department of Investigations in cooperation with police

The news of what happened circulated through emails in the Cubapaladar
newsletter on food service businesses. Its organizers were quick to
remove the premises from their list of recommendations and asserted that
they will never include an establishment that is "under a legal
investigation or involved in any case that violates any Cuban law."

This Thursday, an improvised sign with the word "Closed" was the only
visible sign to customers at door of number 161 Malecón between K and L
where until recently the El Litoral was overflowing with activity. The
area is now deserted.

The operation and the confiscation of numerous belongings from the
premises were the subject of comments from the whole neighborhood. "I
saw many things: air conditioners, drinks of different brands they had
in the cellar, chairs, tables, they even took the cutlery away," says a

According to an employee who spoke to 14ymedio, agents also took
everything that was in the basement where a new space was going to be
inaugurated for "tasting exquisite drinks and Cuban cigars."

The site, with a wide-ranging menu specializing in seafood and fish,
soon became a emblem of the new era for Cuban entrepreneurship after the
flexibilizations for the self-employed sector promoted by Raúl Castro's
Government as of 2010.

"From the moment you walked through the door, you felt that you were not
in Cuba because of the variety of dishes and the efficiency of the
service," says Grégory, a Frenchman who has visited Cuba more than a
dozen times in the past decade, where he has "two daughters and many

However, those times of bonanza and glamor seem to have ended in the
large house with a view directly to the sea.

The scene at El Litoral is repeated in the restaurant Dolce Vita,
specializing in Mediterranean food and also located on Havana's
Malecón. The restaurant, which was a bustle of waiters and customers, is
now closed, lock stock and barrel.

At the corner of Calle 1a and C, in Vedado, silence has also taken over
the outside terrace and the interior area of ​​Lungo Mare. Underneath
its distinctive red and white striped awning there is no longer the
noise of the silverware or the clinking of the glasses. "This is dead
and it will take a long time for it to rise again," jokes a newspaper
salesman who mourns the situation.

"The whole neighborhood benefited from this restaurant because many
people came and I could sell some of my newspapers at a slightly better
price," he explains.

"This happened because it stood out a lot," says Luis Carlos, a young
man who delivers agricultural products for several restaurants in the
area. "El Litoral became a reference point and many foreigners and
diplomats came," he explains. "Here they sold the best croquettes in
Havana and that's not a joke."

No other private restaurant or coffee shop owner in the area has wanted
to comment on the case.

Source: Three "Paladares" Closed Were Among The Best Restaurants In
Havana – Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Cuba: las medidas de Trump son recibidas con escepticismo 18 de junio de 2017 – 16:06 – Por IVÁN GARCÍA Marcados por el cansancio de la sobrevivencia y casi 60 años de control absoluto, los habaneros pasan página a Obama y reciben con escepticismo las nuevas reglas del juego LA HABANA.- “Impotencia”. Con esa palabra […] Continue reading
«Castro es el gran culpable de que EE.UU. revierta la política hacia Cuba» La disidencia se muestra dividida sobre el giro de la Casa Blanca, que preocupa al incipiente sector privado de la isla El opositor José Daniel Ferrer, líder de Unpacu, cree que el régimen de La Habana ha desperdiciado una oportunidad para reducir […] Continue reading
Las tres paladares cerradas figuran entre los mejores restaurantes de La
LUZ ESCOBAR, La Habana | Junio 16, 2017

El cierre de tres restaurantes privados en La Habana la semana pasada ha
desatado las dudas entre los dueños de negocios gastronómicos. El hecho
de que las tres paladares tuviesen una catalogación de "excelente" en
Tripadvisor, uno de los portales de viajes más importantes de la red, ha
alimentado el temor de que las autoridades estén actuando contra los
negocios más prósperos.

La policía echó el cierre de El Litoral, Dolce Vita y Lungo Mare, todas
ubicadas en el Vedado, después de un aparatoso operativo y la
incautación de numerosos bienes, según pudo confirmar 14ymedio.

Alejandro Marcel Mendevil, cara visible de El Litoral, que figura a
nombre de su madre, Nardis Francisca Mendivil, había tenido con
anterioridad problemas con la justicia cuando trabajaba para una empresa
vinculada al Ministerio de Turismo, según cuenta un empleado del local
que prefirió permanecer en el anonimato. En esa ocasión estuvo "bajo
investigación junto a otros empleados" por un supuesto desvío de
recursos detectado en la entidad, que operaba con capital extranjero.

De aquella investigación salió sin cargos pero según el mismo empleado
"ronda sobre él la sospecha de que en El Litoral estaba lavando el
dinero extraviado"
De aquella investigación salió sin cargos pero según el mismo empleado
"ronda sobre él la sospecha de que en El Litoral estaba lavando el
dinero extraviado".

Nardis Francisca Mendivil, dueña legal de El Litoral, rechaza hablar con
la prensa para no perjudicar a su hijo, que está preso en 100 y Aldabó y
por advertencia de la Seguridad del Estado, pero sí desmiente la versión
publicada por algunos medios según la cual él era propietario de los
tres paladares cerrados.

"Nosotros no tenemos nada que ver con Lungo Mare", asegura la madre del
detenido. Otras fuentes del entorno reconocen que Mendivil gestionó
también en un momento esa paladar pero la había vendido "hace unos meses".

Además, se queja de que no es la primera vez que tratan de imputar
delitos falsos a su hijo ya que en el pasado se le quiso achacar la
muerte de un policía, ocurrida tiempo atrás, quien según Mendivil se
disparó "a sí mismo en el interior de una patrulla policial", a pocos
metros de la paladar.

El cierre de los restaurantes se produjo después de un exhaustivo
registro por parte del Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones de
conjunto con fuerzas de la policía.

La noticia de lo sucedido circuló a través de correos electrónicos en el
boletín de Cubapaladar sobre negocios gastronómicos. Sus organizadores
se apresuraron a retirar los locales de su lista de recomendaciones y
advierten que nunca van a incluir un establecimiento que se encuentre
"bajo una investigación legal o estuvo involucrado en algún caso que
viole alguna ley cubana".

Este jueves un improvisado cartel con la palabra "Cerrado" era la única
señal visible que encontraban los clientes en la puerta del número 161
de Malecón entre K y L donde hasta hace poco El Litoral desbordaba de
dinamismo. La zona ahora permanece desierta.

El operativo y la confiscación de numerosas pertenencias del local
fueron comentadas por todo el barrio. "Vi desfilar muchas cosas: aires
acondicionados, bebidas de diferentes marcas que tenían en la bodega,
sillas, mesas, hasta los cubiertos se llevaron", relata un vecino.

Según el empleado del local al que tuvo acceso 14ymedio, los agentes
también se llevaron todo lo que había en el sótano donde iba a
inaugurarse un nuevo espacio destinado a "la degustación de bebidas
exquisitas y tabacos cubanos".

El sitio, con una vasta carta especializada en mariscos y pescados, se
convirtió en poco tiempo en un emblema de la nueva época para el
emprendimiento cubano tras las flexibilizaciones al sector
cuentapropista impulsadas por el Gobierno de Raúl Castro a partir de 2010.

"Desde que entrabas por la puerta te parecía que no estabas en Cuba por
la variedad de platos y la eficiencia del servicio", cuenta Grégory, un
francés que en la última década ha visitado más de una veintena de veces
Cuba, donde tiene "dos hijas y muchos amigos".

Sin embargo, aquellos tiempos de bonanza y glamour parecen haber
terminado en la casona de amplios salones y una vista directamente hacia
el mar.

La escena de El Litoral se repite en el restaurante Dolce Vita,
especializado en comida mediterránea y también ubicado en el Malecón
habanero. El lugar, que era un ajetreo de camareros y clientes, ahora
está cerrado a cal y canto.

En la esquina que hacen la calle 1ra y C, en el Vedado, el silencio
también se ha apoderado de la terraza exterior y del área interior de
Lungo Mare. Bajo su distintivo toldo de listas blancas y rojas no se
siente el ruido de los cubiertos ni el tintinear de las copas. "Esto
está muerto y va a costar tiempo que resucite", ironiza un vendedor de
periódicos que lamenta la situación.

"Todo el barrio se beneficiaba con este restaurante porque venía mucha
gente y yo podía vender algunos de mis periódicos a un precio un poco
mejor", explica.

"Esto pasó porque se destacó mucho", cuenta Luis Carlos un joven que
hace de mensajero de productos agrícolas para varios restaurantes de la
zona. "El Litoral se convirtió en una referencia y venían muchos
extranjeros y diplomáticos", explica. "Aquí vendían las mejores
croquetas de La Habana y no es un chiste".

Ningún otro propietario de restaurante o cafetería particulares de la
zona ha querido comentar el caso.

Source: Las tres paladares cerradas figuran entre los mejores
restaurantes de La Habana - Continue reading
'Eso es para los animales'. Guantanameros se quejan del picadillo que
les vende el Gobierno
MANUEL ALEJANDRO LEÓN VELÁZQUEZ | Guantánamo | 25 de Mayo de 2017 -
13:14 CEST.

"Es para animales", coinciden guantanameros sobre la calidad
del picadillo que distribuye el Gobierno a través del sistema de
racionamiento. "No deberían considerarlo apto para el consumo humano",

Este producto llega una o dos veces al mes a las bodegas. Los
guantanameros han visto descender progresivamente la calidad de la cuota
que reciben. El asunto ha llegado incluso a la prensa oficial local.

"A veces llega demasiado ácido, con un olor fuerte, plagado de tendones
y otros componentes que, cuando terminas de limpiar, apenas queda qué
comer", citó el semanario Venceremos, que recogió quejas de consumidores
sobre ese y otros productos.

"Es algo parecido a un natilla, pero de soya y vísceras de animales",
describió a DIARIO DE CUBA Mercedes Fistó, ama de casa jubilada.
"Echándole todos los ingredientes que tengas a mano, puede que el perro
de la casa se lo coma".

"No creo que sea bueno para la salud humana", dijo una residente en
Isleta, al sur de la ciudad de Guantánamo. "En ocasiones viene cargado
de sal, sin contar la casi nula presencia de masa consistente".

Antes "daba gusto cocinarlo", declaró un jubilado que descansaba en el
portal de su vivienda. "Tiempo atrás tenía mejor calidad, se le podía
notar algo de carne. Yo iba a la carnicería con una jaba cualquiera y no
había riesgo de que se me botara. Ahora tengo que ir con una vasija
porque aquello es medio líquido, además de que trae una cantidad
descabellada de tendones".

Gisela Echavarría, ama de casa, dijo que no sabe de qué forma preparar
el picadillo para que sea más agradable al paladar de su familia.

"La verdad es que ya no sé cómo voy a cocinarlo. Es tan aguado que da
mala impresión, y no importa el condimento que le eches, sabe mal y los
niños no quieren saber de él. Lo peor es que la situación económica está
tan mala que a veces no hay otra cosa, pero si yo pudiera, no lo compraba".

En las Tiendas Recaudadoras de Divisas (TRD) el Gobierno vende picadillo
generalmente de res, pollo y pavo, con mejor aceptación en cuanto a
calidad, pero muchos consumidores se quejan de los precios.

"El picadillo de la TRD es bueno, pero trae muy pocos gramos y es muy
caro. Hay de 95 centavos de CUC y de 1,10 y si a eso le sumas que tienes
que comprar más de uno para una comida de cuatro personas, no da la
cuenta. Poco a poco nos están matando de hambre", criticó una maestra.

"Deberían mandar una inspección de La Habana para que valore la
situación y prohíba la venta de esa cosa, que nadie sabe qué es", afirmó
Lorenzo García, residente en el reparto Caribe, sobre el picadillo del
sistema de racionamiento. "Estoy seguro de que para Occidente no se
atreven a asignar eso", añadió, aunque las quejas se repiten también en
esa zona del país.

"Mi esposa no lo compra, pero como lamentablemente en este país hay
gente que pasa el mar por el fondo, le damos la libreta de
abastecimiento para que lo coja a una vecina que tiene tres niños y vive
sola", concluyó.

Source: 'Eso es para los animales'. Guantanameros se quejan del
picadillo que les vende el Gobierno | Diario de Cuba - Continue reading
El Gobierno abrirá cinco mercados para cuentapropistas vinculados al turismo
DDC | La Habana | 22 de Mayo de 2017 - 19:12 CEST.

El Gobierno anunció este domingo que abrirá cinco mercados más para
abastecer al sector cuentapropista vinculado a los servicios al turismo,
según dio a conocer la agencia oficial de noticias ACN.

Juan Carlos Rodríguez, director general de la Empresa Nacional de Frutas
Selectas, afirmó que en junio y julio deberán abrirse estas cinco
instalaciones en Viñales (Pinar del Río), Baracoa (Guantánamo), Cerro
(La Habana), Bayamo (Granma) y en Villa Clara.

Estos centros se sumarán a otros tres que ya prestan estos servicios en
Santiago de Cuba, Remedios (Villa Clara) y Trinidad (Sancti Spíritus).

De acuerdo con ACN, la venta se realiza a través de una ficha de cliente
a nombre del cuentapropista que ofrece servicio de alojamiento, paladar
y cafetería. Este titular puede acreditar también a dos compradores para
que lo representen.

Estos mercados venden en pesos convertibles y a precios minoristas,
frutas, hortalizas, viandas, granos y productos industrializados.

El reporte no precisó a qué precios se venderán.

En los mercados agropecuarios destinados al consumo de la población en
general también se venden estos productos, pero a menudo escasean o
carecen de la calidad y la presentación adecuadas, lo que genera
malestar entre los consumidores, que deben pagar altos precios por
ellos. Además, las frutas suelen ser tratadas con productos químicos
para acelerar la maduración.

Esta iniciativa, según apuntó Rodríguez, quiere "reforzar de forma
estable y con calidad las ofertas al sector privado", y estaría
destinado a 21.000 cuentapropistas que brindan servicios de hospedaje y
gastronómicos y a 2.000 paladares.

Según precisa la oficial ACN, datos aportados por el Ministerio de la
Industria indican que en destinos como Trinidad, Viñales y Baracoa es
mayoritaria la oferta privada y no la estatal en cuanto a habitaciones,
restaurantes y cafeterías. De acuerdo con esos mismos datos oficiales,
estos servicios son usados preferentemente por turistas de EEUU,
Francia, Alemania, Italia y Canadá.

Source: El Gobierno abrirá cinco mercados para cuentapropistas
vinculados al turismo | Diario de Cuba - Continue reading
Nestlé continúa con las miras en la Isla: ahora gradúa a 20 jóvenes
cocineros cubanos
DDC | La Habana | 17 de Mayo de 2017 - 15:26 CEST.

Un grupo de 20 jóvenes cocineros cubanos se graduaron este fin de semana
de la primera edición del programa YOCUTA (Young Culinary Talents),
según informa el portal Caribbean News Digital.

YOCUTA es una iniciativa de Nestlé Professional con el apoyo de la
Asociación de Federaciones Culinarias de Cuba.

Este programa de Nestlé se organiza con el propósito de que nuevas
generaciones de cocineros enriquezcan sus conocimientos en materia de
nutrición, salud y bienestar, además de familiarizarse con el portafolio
de Nestlé Professional.

El chef Eddy Fernández, presidente de la Federación de Asociaciones
Culinarias de Cuba, destacó que se trata de un proyecto de avanzada,
tanto por la tecnología como por la materia prima.

"Han tenido la oportunidad de aprender las nuevas técnicas, cómo
trabajar con equipamiento de punta y también conocieron productos
nuevos. Ya nos son los tiempos de antes, donde hacían falta cinco
hombres para preparar una salsa. Ahora se apuesta por productos como los
de Nestlé, alimentos deshidratados, naturales, que optimizan el tiempo
en la cocina y ayudan a estandarizar la calidad", afirmó Fernández.

"Antes del proyecto sentía que tenía un poco de lagunas en cuanto a
conocimientos sobre tendencias, líneas internacionales por las cuales se
está moviendo la cocina. El curso nos ha dado actualización,
capacitación y nuevos puntos de vista", dijo Carlos Manuel Fernández,
uno de los graduados del curso, que actualmente trabaja en el paladar
habanero La Paila.

"Lo primero que han recibido los estudiantes es la interacción con los
chefs de nuestra empresa y también con capacitadores de Cuba. Han
conocido temas como el café, les hemos hablado de nuevas tendencias, de
cocina molecular, cómo organizar un menú, nutrición, seguridad e
higiene. Todo esto con el apoyo de chefs de Panamá, República
Dominicana, Costa Rica y El Salvador. Le hemos dado mucha información y
tips, porque estos muchachos son el potencial, el futuro gastronómico
del país", expresó Raúl Vaquerizo, chef manager de Nestlé Professional
para Centroamérica y el Caribe.

De acuerdo con directivos, el segundo curso YOCUTA podría celebrarse en
los próximos meses. "Este fue un grupo experimental. La intención es
llevarlo a todo el país", concluyó Fernández.

Nestlé anunció en marzo que estaba cerca de llegar a un acuerdo con La
Habana para crear un nuevo emprendimiento conjunto y levantar una
fábrica de entre 50 y 60 millones de dólares para producir café,
galletas y productos de cocina.

Source: Nestlé continúa con las miras en la Isla: ahora gradúa a 20
jóvenes cocineros cubanos | Diario de Cuba - Continue reading
How the Black Market Keeps Cuba's Private Restaurants in Business
The challenge of running a restaurant "a la izquierda"
by Suzanne Cope Mar 21, 2017, 2:02pm EDT

On a recent January evening, tourists and a few Habaneros sat under a
palm frond canopy sipping rum cocktails, listening to a live band
playing Cuban folk songs — and eating notoriously difficult-to-procure
lobster, a special of the day.

California Cafe, a paladar, or newly legal, privately owned restaurant
in a country where the state has controlled almost all businesses for
the past half century, is owned by a couple who met in San Francisco.
Paver Core Broche is Cuban, Shona Baum is American, and they decided to
return to Havana to open a restaurant in February 2015, not long after
the regulations for private businesses started loosening.

"In some ways it was really easy," Baum says about the process of
opening a paladar in Havana. "You can't even open a coffee cart in San
Francisco without a million permits and tons of money, and here… we
bought the space, and applied for a license, and it didn't take that long."

But in Cuba, most businesses can't simply call up a bulk vendor or
wholesaler purveyor to place a produce order, since most means of
production are controlled by the government. The country uses two
currencies, Cuban convertible pesos (CUCs) and Cuban pesos (CUPs), the
former tied to the U.S. dollar and known as the "tourist currency," the
latter, valued at 1/25th of the CUC, used by the government to pay its
oversized labor force. (Paladares and private businesses might charge in
either.) Running a restaurant can be complicated in the best of
situations, but it's especially challenging in a country where most
aspects of daily life are tightly regulated — and where much of the
economy operates a la izquierda, or "on the left."

As California Cafe grew, both Baum (who works the front of the house)
and Broche (who cooks) had to learn to navigate the labyrinth of
sourcing food and supplies in a place where the state-run corner bodega
might have 100 imported fruit cakes on the shelf but no toilet paper.
Baum says the reality in Cuba is that product availability is sporadic.
"When they have mayonnaise, they have three million [jars of]
mayonnaise, and then it's gone and they have three million of something
else," she says.

To find many necessary items — from condiments to serving plates — one
has to travel around the city visiting various markets. That process can
quickly become time-consuming, and Broche and Baum hired a full-time
person to help with sourcing. They also rent a storeroom to stockpile
enough nonperishables to last a few weeks of service, and they plan
their menu around ingredients that are usually available. The result is
a style they call "Californian-Cuban fusion," with vegetable-heavy
dishes like pork and vegetable "California" skewers.

But the inconsistent availability of products is only one aspect of
sourcing that makes operating a paladar a complicated endeavor in
Havana. The other is the persistence of a la izquierda — the Cuban black
market. There are many ingredients and products needed by restaurants
that are either illegal to buy or else often expensive or scarce, such
as lobster or non-processed cheese. And staples like toilet paper,
vinegar, and beer can also suddenly become hard to find, or "esta
perdido," (literally "it's lost"), Baum says. Numerous restaurant owners
note that if they want to stay in business, they have to buy certain
things a la izquierda.

Alexi, a paladar owner near Cuba's second-largest city, Santiago de
Cuba, worked for many years in the state-owned hotel industry before
opening his own open-air restaurant with tented tables right on the
Caribbean. "You must be enterprising to get all of the things you need
for your restaurant," he says. "Today we have something, but tomorrow it
will be quite difficult to get that same thing … and it is illegal to
buy some things. For example, the government has made all kinds of
seafood illegal to buy. So sometimes I have to buy products other ways."

The Cuban black market works in many ways to circumvent the government's
control of goods. One is the common — and complicated — practice of
state-owned-store employees holding back certain goods to sell a la
izquierda, while accepting pay-offs for other goods — procured illegally
by individuals — to be sold in their shop instead. The government has
strict regulations on the sale of almost every food sourced, from
seafood to coffee to tomatoes, setting the harvest goals and prices for
each farmer or fisherman and prohibiting the sale of excess through
private channels. To make extra money, almost any person within the
supply chain might reserve products to be sold at a price he or she

Buying products a la izquierda is so integrated into daily Cuban life
that it often does not look much different than most other transactions
to the average non-Cuban — these sales aren't all happening in dark
alleys with secret handshakes. Rather, there is a complex system of
bribery and separate record-keeping that many employees of both state-
and private-run businesses take part in.

Both Alexi and a former military cook, Marcus, who lives in Santiago de
Cuba, attribute this in part to the government prioritizing state-run
restaurants and hotels when they distribute the best-quality food. "If I
have a good paladar, then that means people are going to eat at my
paladar and they are not going to be a good customer for the
government," Marcus says. "That's [the government's] loss, and they
don't want that." Marcus is currently attending a military cooking
school, but hopes to soon work in a tourist hotel and eventually own his
own restaurant, a dream that wouldn't have been possible just a few
years ago.

Paladares were technically legalized in the 1990s, partially in reaction
to a mass poisoning in an illegal restaurant, when a cook accidentally
added rat poison to the food. However, they were highly regulated, and
it was difficult to obtain their required permits until the 2011
economic reforms under Raúl Castro's leadership. These reforms made
opening paladares much easier — and in 2016, the government announced
plans to ease other private ownership laws as well, paving the way for
individuals to open a variety of private businesses.

These changes, along with the revised laws allowing United States
citizens to more easily travel and send money to the island, have helped
the number of paladares swell. After President Barack Obama restored
diplomatic relations with Cuba in mid-2015, U.S. tourism to the country
hit an all-time high, with 615,000 travelers visiting Cuba from the U.S.
in 2016.

However, the support for this quickly growing class of business has not
been enough to sustain them, particularly as competition increases.
There have been reports of food shortages for locals in part due to the
demand of private restaurants (although some Cubans are equally quick to
blame farmer strikes and government disorganization over the emerging
private sector). Leo, one of the owners of the popular Havana paladar
Havana Blue, has noted the number of paladares that have already come
and gone in his quickly changing city. "There are some that open and
then close," he says. "Not because of lack of demand. It's also bad
management. Many people don't have the foggiest idea because they have
never run a restaurant before."

The government, for its part, has made some effort to support paladares,
at least in gesture. It opened a version of a wholesale market, but
multiple paladar owners question its usefulness. The prices aren't any
cheaper than a retail market, and availability is still often
unpredictable. "People pull up and the beer is gone in two minutes,"
Baum says.

Baum also says that the national bank reached out to small business
owners in the last two years to offer loans. While commonplace in the
United States, this kind of credit is mostly unheard of in Cuba. Yet
when Baum asked about interest rates, the bank associate was vague.
"'Don't worry, we'll give you a good rate!'" was the answer.

Ministry of Agriculture journalist Jose Ignacio Fleitas Adan says the
government is working to do better. "There's an intention, and also
projects and plans, to increase food production and availability," he
says, echoing the official government response. "Es complicado," he adds
with a laugh.

And that seems to be the one truism about food sourcing in Cuba,
particularly when one is running a business. Baum mentions two
restaurants nearby that were shut down recently. "They just
disappeared," she says. "Basically, they were doing illegal things. So
there's a lot of fear around what's going to happen next." She questions
whether more crackdowns are coming for those who buy goods a la izquierda.

What were those shuttered restaurant doing that was more illegal than
what anyone else is doing? Baum pursed her lips. This answer, too, was
complicado. "I spoke with someone who ate there, and they had dried
cranberries on their salad. Which is great, but clearly dried
cranberries aren't available here." She pauses. "What you realize over
time is that there are people who are really well connected, so it's
hard for the regular people like us, and all the other people in our boat."

Still, the opportunities for business owners are lucrative. A Cuban
working in the growing service industry — as a taxi driver or a
restaurant host — can earn exponentially more than the average state
wage of around 20 to 40 CUCs per month. Many educated young Cubans are
thus leaving professions like teaching or medicine to work in the
emerging private sector. When I walked into a new Mediterranean-themed
paladar with Habanero food writer Sisi Colomina, the first question she
asked the host was, "What did you do before?" The answer: psychology.

This wage disparity also makes it easy to understand why so many people
risk buying and selling a la izquierda, or starting their own businesses
in an uncertain market, to supplement their meager income. What
successful paladares demonstrate is that capitalism can work in a
country where almost all aspects of (legal) businesses have being
tightly controlled by the state for more than 50 years.

Yet while many come to the restaurant business for monetary reasons, for
others, opening a paladar is a chance to follow their passion. "It was
always my dream — illegal or legal," Alexi says. "Cooking is an art." He
also called paladars the most popular private businesses in the country
by almost any metric: They're "the most important window for showing the
possibilities to other Cubans."

And while the challenges of food sourcing can make running a private
business in a communist state complicated, Baum does appear to love her
work. We finished our cocktail as she sang along to the band and then
did a sweep of the patio to help her servers deliver food and greet
customers she had met earlier in the week. When she sat back down, she
admitted that the business had a rocky start. But now, she says, she is
"slowly falling in love with Cuba."

Suzanne Cope is the author of Small Batch and an upcoming book on food
and revolution.
Editor: Erin DeJesus

Source: How the Black Market Keeps Cuba's Private Restaurants in
Business - Eater - Continue reading
Cuba: Ni Obama, ni Trump, la gran preocupación son las papas UVA DE ARAGÓN Cuando el presidente Obama visitó la isla en marzo del año pasado, se robó el corazón de los cubanos. Les agradó que viajara con su familia, incluyendo la suegra; que abriera el paraguas para proteger a su esposa de la lluvia; […] Continue reading
El mercado clandestino cubano supera en calidad y precios al Estado 24 de febrero de 2017 – 16:02 – Por IVÁN GARCÍA Estos vendedores importan desde piezas de auto, neveras de última generación; en Aduana, “cuando tu le metes un billete en el bolsillo, te dejan entrar hasta un elefante” LA HABANA.- Luego de ahorrar […] Continue reading
¿Cómo vive el cubano? (II) 7 febrero, 2017 11:24 pm por Eduardo Martínez Rodríguez El Cerro, La Habana, Emaro, (PD) Dentro de Cuba, a pesar de la propaganda, existen varias clases de cubanos. Clases sociales antagónicas peor que en el capitalismo, porque la superior tiene todo el poder y acalla y aplasta a las demás […] Continue reading
Inspections and Fines in Cuban Private Restaurants / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 30 January 2017 — A fine that is stranger than
fiction. More than 400,000 Cuban convertible pesos (roughly the same in
dollars), is the astronomical figure set as a penalty for La
California restaurant, a palader (private restaurant) a few steps from
Cuba's Malecon.

Established in abeautifully restored 18th century building at 55 Crespo
Street between San Lazaro and Refugio in Central Havana, La California
restaurant-bar offers Italian and Cuban-international fusion food, as
well as exquisite service, attractive and entertaining, where the
customer can enter the kitchen and prepare their own delicacy. Part of
what is consumed in this agreeable place is grown on the private estate
of a Cuban farmer, and the rest — according to co-director Charles
Farigola — is imported.

"During the plenary session of the National Assembly Cuban vice
president Machado Ventura referenced the food in the paladares, making
particular note of the products offered that are not acquired in the
national retail network," began an explanation of a Cuban entrepreneur
passing through Miami to buy supplies for his restaurant in Havana.

"The reality," he continued," is that the paladares import very little,
most of the food and drink comes from the hotels*, especially those that
offer 'all-inclusive' plans. Vacuum-packed filets, serrano ham, fresh
vegetables, salmon, sausages, octopus, squid, etc. Almost everything
comes from Matanzas Province, where tourism is concentrated. There are
police checkpoints to search vehicles coming from the resort town of
Varadero to Havana; but almost everything is transported in tour
vehicles and they avoid the controls, because the national police don't
want to bother the tourists.

"The strategy, in response, was to inspect the paladares that boast
about having these kinds of imported products, and La California fell.
They also say that the inspection report specified that the sales report
didn't match observed reality. Parameters and factors that seem subjective."

Can a Cuban paladar pay such a huge fine?

"I don't think so. Look, the inspectors collect a percent of every fine
they impose, and the private businesses offer the inspectors a greater
percentage than they would receive. So that's how we all survive because
it's a game of give and take.

"It could be that La California didn't want to play this game, they
could have accepted an arrangement to pay in installments, they could
default and accept an ugly penalty, they may fight the fine in the
courts. Anything can happen.

"No, we self-employed are not criminals, we are a social group that
makes things and not communist dreams nor libertarian utopias; we are
the part of civil society most dedicated to work, to generating income,
jobs, and bringing money to the national economy, and even so the policy
of the government is to push us toward crime," concludes the
entrepreneur before boarding his plane to Cuba, the island that, with a
certain euphemism, he calls the "Barracks."

*Translator's note: That is, it is "diverted" (the term Cubans prefer
rather than "stolen") and sold to private businesses by a chain of state
workers that can range from the highest to the lowest levels.

Translated by Jim

Source: Inspections and Fines in Cuban Private Restaurants / Juan Juan
Almeida – Translating Cuba - Continue reading
Inspecciones y multas a los paladares cubanos
Juan Juan Almeida

"los inspectores cobran un por ciento de cada multa que ponen, los
particulares les ofrecemos, a esos inspectores, un porcentaje mayor que
el que ellos reciben. Así sobrevivimos todos porque así es el juego en
el toma y daca".
Una multa que supera la ficción. Más de 400 mil (CUC), que ni idea tengo
cuanto será el equivalente en dólares americanos o euros, es la
astronómica cifra con la que fue penalizado el bar restaurante La
California, paladar ubicada a pocos pasos del Malecón.

Erigido en un local del siglo XVIII, bien restaurado, en el número #55
de la calle Crespo entre San Lazaro y Refugio, municipio Centro Habana,
el restaurant-bar La California ofrece comida italiana y una elaborada
fusión de culinaria cubana e internacional, además de un servicio
exquisito, atractivo y divertido donde el cliente puede entrar a la
cocina y preparar su propio manjar. Parte de lo que se consume, en este
agradable lugar, se cultiva en una finca particular de agricultor
cubano, y el resto, - al decir del codirector Charles Farigola – es de

"Durante la sesión plenaria de la Asamblea Nacional, Machado Ventura, el
vicepresidente cubano, hizo referencias a las comidas que hay en los
paladares, haciendo especial hincapié en los productos que ofertan y no
se pueden adquirir en la red nacional de tiendas", así comenzó la
explicación de un emprendedor cubano que anda de paso por Miami
comprando insumos para su restaurant en La Habana.

"La realidad – continúa - es que los paladares importan poca cantidad,
la mayoría de los bebestibles y los comestibles salen de los hoteles,
sobre todo, los que forman parte del concepto conocido como "all
inclusive". Filete sellado al vacío, jamón serrano, vegetales frescos,
salmón,chorizos, el pulpo, los calamares, etc. Casi todo proviene de
Matanzas, donde se concentra lo gordo del turismo. Existen puntos de
comprobación policial para revisar los vehículos que viajan desde
Varadero a La Habana; pero casi todo se transporta sobre autos TOUR y
eso quebranta el control, porque la policía nacional no quiere molestar
al turista".

"La estrategia, como respuesta, fue inspeccionar a los paladares que
fanfarronean de tener ese tipo de Productos Importados, y La California
cayó. Además dicen que en el informe de inspección se específica que el
reporte de las ventas, no se corresponde con la realidad observada.
Parámetros y factores que parecen subjetivos".

¿Puede un paladar cubano pagar una multa de tamaña cuantía?

"No creo. Mira, los inspectores cobran un por ciento de cada multa que
ponen, los particulares les ofrecemos, a esos inspectores, un porcentaje
mayor que el que ellos reciben. Así sobrevivimos todos porque así es el
juego en el toma y daca. Puede que La California no haya querido entrar
en ese juego, puede que haya aceptado un arreglo de pago en cuotas,
puede que se declare en impago y prefiera una fea sanción, puede que
decida pelear la multa en los tribunales. Todo puede suceder. No, los
Cuentapropistas no somos delincuentes, somos un grupo social que fabrica
hechos y no sueños comunistas ni utopías libertarias; somos la parte de
la sociedad civil que más se dedica a trabajar, a generar ingresos,
empleos, y aporta dinero a la economía nacional y, aún así, la política
del gobierno nos empuja a delinquir", concluye el cuentapropista antes
de tomar su avión con destino a Cuba, la isla que, con cierto eufemismo,
él llama "Cuartel".

Source: Inspecciones y multas a los paladares cubanos - Continue reading
Havana 'Paladares', Between Glamor and Poverty / Iván García

Ivan Garcia 25 January 2017 — In the poor and mostly black neighborhood
of San Leopoldo, cradle of the picaresque, clandestine businesses and
the sex trade in Havana, is found La Guarida, probably the best private
restaurant in Cuba — which are known as "paladares."

The business is run by Enrique Nunez, a telecommunications engineer
converted into an empresario of the ovens, and dinner for four people,
wine included, is no less than 160 dollars, from the wallets of some
tourists dazzled by the opening of small family businesses on the part
of the Communist regime.

Folklore, poverty and glamor at times click. La Guarida is flanked by a
rundown tenement of narrow rooms and an ostentatious central staircase
with hints of art deco.

On the same street, where the neighbors sit in iron armchairs and on
little wooden benches in the doorways of their houses, brand new cars
with diplomatic plates park, with tourists or government heavyweights.

Romello, 65, born and raised on Virtudes Street, very close to the
prestigious paladar, remembers when "the Queen of Spain, Maradona and a
ton of famous people have come here to eat."

But asked if he has ever dined or had some drinks in La Guarida, the guy
smiles and shakes his head. "What it is man, this paladar is for
millionaires. They tell me a beer costs five bucks and a plate of shrimp
is no less than 15," he says, while walking over to the wall of the
Malecon with an improvised fishing pole.

Reservations at La Guardia can be made on the internet. "But it's a
hassle to book a table. It's always full," says a Spaniard. In paladares
like San Cristóbal, La Guarida or La Fontana, recommended by
international haute cuisine magazines, and where a family dinner can
cost more than 200 dollars, it is almost mission impossible to reserve a
table the same day.

There is a route in Havana, inserted into the usual tourist itineraries,
whether it is the area of the old city, El Vedado or Miramar, where
lunch in a private restaurant is at least 25 dollars a person.

The success of the paladares on the island is a combination of the
tenacity and creativity of their owners. Despite the scarcity of
supplies, traditional or international cuisine is given a touch of the
gourmet with a certain level of quality.

They have been catapulted to success thanks to the thunderous failure of
the state food service, full of idlers and thieves who are profiting
from the food they can steal from the diners.

Thomas, a Swiss tourist, says that in the Parque Central Hotel
restaurant, supposedly five stars, "a dinner for four people, with
tomato soup and sirloin steak which did not stand out in its
presentation, cost me 120 dollars. So when I visit Cuba I prefer to eat
in the paladares. Although the prices go up every year and sometimes the
quality doesn't. But it is always preferable to the state restaurants."

According to information published on 20 October 2016 in the state
newspaper Granma, in Havana there are more than 500 private restaurants.
But around 150 of them would be classified in the category of most
demanding and successful paladares.

And it is precisely in this category where the prices have increased by
30 percent in the last six years. "And if we compare the prices to 15 or
20 years ago, then it's an increase of 50 percent. In 2000, a person
could eat in a good quality paladar for 8 or 10 dollars. Now there's
nothing under 20 or 25," says an Italian married to a Cuban.

If a segment of tourists, businessmen and diplomats complain about the
rise in prices in the private restaurants of the capital, imagine the
Havanans. Most have never sat at a table in a five-star paladar. Many
can't even go to the smallest cafe. In Havana there are private food
businesses in classes A, B and C, depending on one's wallet.

Anselmo, retired, sells loose cigarettes in a nursing home just a
stone's throw from Villa Hernandez, a paladar next to Parque Córdoba, in
the populous neighborhood of La Viñora. "I've never bothered to look at
that paladar. What for, with my shitty pension I could never eat there.
What remains for us old people and those who earn miserable wages is
eating bread with a speck of fish or death-like pizzas from the little
stands run by the state."

In state coffee shops, almost always dirty, with poor service and poorly
prepared food, a pizza costs five Cuban pesos (about 20 cents US) and
it's fifteen pesos for a serving of congrí rice with a chicken
thigh. "That's the food bought by beggars, alcoholics, the old and
retired. Quality leaves a lot to be desired," says Mildred, a high schoo

In the food businesses further away from Old Havana, Vedado or Miramar,
the areas most visited by tourists, the menu is usually cheaper but the
choices are very limited.

In general, plates are based on smoked chicken and pork. "But it is
common that the waiter, taking your order, tells you that 'off the menu'
there is seafood, beef, good fish, lamb and even loggerhead," says
Dianelis, a hairdresser, who usually eats at paladares in Santos Suarez,
Lyuano and Lawton — Havana neighborhoods farther from the center.

And there is a wide sector of private businesses, who, to improve their
profits, use double bookkeeping or financial tricks as a way to avoid taxes.

To eat even medium quality food in Cuba it is recommended you visit a
private restaurant. At special dates — birthdays, weddings,
quinceañeras, families go to paladares to celebrate. If they are short
of money they go to the cheapest ones or places that serve more food.

"Gourmet food is for foreigners. When we Cubans have to eat on the
street, we want to fill our bellies," says Ignacio. But there are not
many who can afford to do so.

Source: Havana 'Paladares', Between Glamor and Poverty / Iván García –
Translating Cuba - Continue reading
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Precios prohibitivos impiden a cubanos acceder a los mejores "paladares"
22 de enero de 2017 - 17:01 - Por IVÁN GARCÍA

La escasez de insumos y el auge del turismo internacional disparan los
precios en los restaurantes privados que estaban llamados a ser el
primer gran bastión del empoderamiento del pueblo de la isla

LA HABANA.- En el barrio pobre y mayoritariamente negro de San Leopoldo,
cuna de la picaresca, negocios clandestinos y el jineterismo en La
Habana, se encuentra La Guarida, probablemente el mejor restaurante
privado de Cuba.

Un negocio dirigido por Enrique Núñez, ingeniero en telecomunicaciones
reconvertido en empresario de fogones, donde una cena de cuatro de
personas, con vino incluido, no baja de 160 dólares al cambio para
cualquier turista deslumbrado con la apertura de pequeños negocios
familiares por parte del régimen comunista.

El folclor, la pobreza y el glamour a veces congenian. La Guarida está
flanqueada por un solar desvencijado de habitaciones estrechas y una
ostentosa escalera central con tintes art decó.

En la misma calle donde los vecinos se sientan en sillones de hierro y
pequeños bancos de madera, justo en la puerta de sus casas, parquean
flamantes automóviles con matrículas diplomáticas, de turismo o de pesos
pesados del Gobierno.

Romelio, 65 años, nacido y criado en la calle Virtudes, muy cerca de la
prestigiosa paladar, recuerda que "la Reina de España, Maradona y un
montón de famosos han venido a comer aquí".

Pero cuando le preguntan si alguna vez ha cenado o bebido unas copas en
La Guarida, el tipo sonríe y niega con la cabeza. "Qué va socio, esa
paladar es para millonarios. Me han contado que una cerveza cuesta cinco
cañas (dólares) y un plato de camarones no baja de quince", apunta,
mientras camina rumbo al muro del Malecón con una improvisada vara de

Las reservaciones en La Guarida se pueden hacer por internet. "Pero es
un lío poder reservar una mesa. Siempre está lleno", señala un español.
En paladares como San Cristóbal, La Guarida o La Fontana, recomendadas
por revistas internacionales de alta cocina y en las cuales una cena
familiar puede superar los 200 dólares, es casi una misión imposible
reservar una mesa para el mismo día.

Existe una ruta en La Habana, insertada dentro del habitual itinerario
turístico, ya sea en la zona antigua de la ciudad, El Vedado o Miramar,
donde un almuerzo en un restaurante particular no baja de 25 dólares por

El éxito de las paladares en la isla es una combinación de tesón y
creatividad de sus dueños. A pesar de la escasez de insumos, a la cocina
tradicional o internacional le han dado un toque de gourmet con cierta

Se han catapultados al éxito gracias al estruendoso fracaso de la
gastronomía estatal, repleta de holgazanes y rateros que viven lucrando
con la comida que pueden robarle a los comensales.

Thomas, turista suizo, cuenta que en el restaurante del hotel Parque
Central, supuestamente de cinco estrellas, "una cena para cuatro
personas, a base de sopa de tomate y solomillo de res y que no destacaba
por su presentación, me costó 120 dólares. Por eso cuando visito Cuba
prefiero comer en paladares. Aunque cada año suben los precios y a veces
la calidad no es la mejor. Pero siempre son preferibles a los
restaurantes estatales".

Según una información publicada el 20 de octubre de 2016 en el periódico
oficialista Granma, en La Habana existen más de 500 restaurantes de
trabajadores por cuenta propia. Pero alrededor de 150 clasificarían en
la categoría de paladares más demandadas y exitosas.

Y es precisamente en esta categoría donde los precios han aumentado en
un 30 por ciento en los últimos seis años. "Y si comparamos los precios
con hace quince o veinte años atrás, entonces el alza es de un cincuenta
por ciento. En el año 2000, una persona comía en un paladar de calidad
por 8 o 10 dólares. Ahora no baja de 20 o 25", recuerda un italiano
casado con una cubana.

Si un segmento de turistas, empresarios y diplomáticos se quejan del
alza de precios en los restaurantes particulares de la capital,
imagínense los habaneros. La mayoría jamás se ha sentado a la mesa de
uno de estos restaurantes privados cinco estrellas. Muchos ni siquiera
pueden ir a las de menor caché. En La Habana hay negocios gastronómicos
privados clase A, B y C, en dependencia del bolsillo.

Anselmo, jubilado, vende cigarrillos sueltos en una asilo de ancianos a
tiro de piedra de Villa Hernández, una paladar contigua al Parque
Córdoba, en la populosa barriada de La Víbora. "Nunca me he molestado en
mirar esa paladar. Para qué, si con mi pensión de mierda nunca podría
comer ahí. Lo que queda para nosotros los viejos y la gente que gana
sueldos de miseria, es comer pan con minuta de pescado o pizzas de mala
muerte en los timbiriches del Estado".

En las cafeterías estatales, casi siempre sucias, con mal servicio y
peor elaboración, una pizza cuesta cinco pesos y quince pesos una ración
de arroz congrí con un muslo de pollo. "Esa es comida que compran los
mendigos, alcohólicos, viejos y jubilados. La calidad deja mucho que
desear", comenta Mildred, estudiante de preuniversitario.

En los emprendimientos gastronómicos más alejados de La Habana Vieja,
Vedado o Miramar, las zonas más visitadas por turistas, el menú suele
ser más barato, pero las opciones gastronómicas más reducidas.

Por lo general, los platos son a base de carne de cerdo, pollo y
ahumados. "Pero ya es habitual que el dependiente, al tomar tu pedido,
te diga que fuera de la carta hay mariscos, carne de res, pescado bueno,
cordero y hasta caguama", subraya Dianelis, peluquera, que suele comer
con frecuencia en paladares de Santos Suárez, Luyanó y Lawton.

Y es que un amplio sector de los negocios particulares, para tener
mejores ganancias, suelen utilizar la doble contabilidad o trampas
financieras como una forma de evadir sus impuestos al fisco.

Para comer con mediana calidad en Cuba es recomendable visitar un
restaurante privado. En fecha señaladas como cumpleaños, bodas o fiestas
de quince, las familias acuden a paladares para celebrarlos. Si andan
cortos de dinero, van a la más barata o donde sirvan mayor cantidad de

"La comida gourmet es para los extranjeros. Los cubanos cuando tenemos
que comer en la calle nos gusta llenarnos la panza", revela Ignacio.
Pero no son muchos los que pueden hacerlo.

Source: Precios prohibitivos impiden a cubanos acceder a los mejores
paladares | Cuba - Continue reading
Precios prohibitivos impiden a cubanos acceder a los mejores “paladares” 22 de enero de 2017 – 17:01 – Por IVÁN GARCÍA La escasez de insumos y el auge del turismo internacional disparan los precios en los restaurantes privados que estaban llamados a ser el primer gran bastión del empoderamiento del pueblo de la isla LA […] Continue reading