MICHAEL H. MIRANDA | Fayetteville | 8 de Junio de 2017 - 09:33 CEST.
Last week several photos of American students with their professors
appeared on the social networks in Havana. The images would not have
drawn too much attention if it were not due to the fact that the
situation demands some wariness regarding the consumption of the
regime's iconography: the students were seen walking through the halls
of the Museum of the Revolution, in front of photos of Fidel Castro and
grotesque caricatures of American presidents. Their presence was also
noteworthy because in recent months there have been expulsions of
students and professors from Cuban universities, without many members of
American academia voicing any protest.
Considerable controversy has surrounded the idea of academic exchange
travel to countries that are not free. There is already an American
embassy in Havana, but relations are still far from normal, principally
because the Americans' demands for fundamental rights in Cuba continue
to be flouted by Havana. Following the rise of Barack Obama to the
presidency in 2008, it seemed that the possibility of systematic student
travel had finally been established, and several universities even
created a position specifically to manage these exchanges.
The question that many ask is whether public funds should be used to
organize trips whose itineraries, apparently approved at high levels of
the Cuban Government, include visits to sites "of historical and social
interest" (we already know what this means and the particular roadmap to
be followed), a route on which certain points on the strategic horizon
of tropical totalitarianism occupy a privileged place: if there are
museums like that of the Revolution full of photos of a Caribbean
tyrant, why not the family sanctuary in Birán (the Castros birthplace),
Fidel's stone at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, and the Museum of the
Ministry of the Interior, so well portrayed by Antonio José Ponte in La
The Cuban writer and former political prisoner Rafael Saumell, who
serves as a professor at Sam Houston State University in Texas,
appreciates the academic freedom that exists in the vast majority of
Western universities, but notes that he would never dedicate himself to
such a job. "Given the political pedigree of a few colleagues, there is
always the risk of using funds for indoctrination. The apologists for
diversity tend to be timorous in their censure of the expulsions of
professors and students who do not follow the Party line," he says.
It turns out that the aims of these trips could easily be questioned.
After all, the students could improve their Spanish and cultural
knowledge with less of an effort and sacrifice in the most
Mexican-influenced neighborhoods of Austin, Phoenix or Los Angeles. What
does the exhibition of a tank of the Rebel Army, a monument to Che
Guevara, or a visit to an independent dairy in Matanzas have to do with
the use of the subjunctive? Or is it a specific type of Spanish, one
that spurns its richest rules and elements, in favor of the impoverished
language found in the likes of Granma? At what point did American
universities, with the magnanimous (and even eager) assent of deans and
professors, decide that a lesson in normalization was in order, but only
while tiptoeing around their counterparts' recurrent breaches of
standards and violations of freedoms?
If American public universities do not know that in Cuba the expulsion
of students and professors who are not sympathetic to the regime is a
common practice, at least it could be said that they are uninformed. But
if they do know it, but still insist on signing collaboration agreements
with these institutions, they should expect revulsion and criticism for
using taxpayer funds to subject students to an agenda so distant from a
legitimate "cultural exchange" and so subservient to the Cuban
Government's political machinations.
Obama is history. Time may be running out on his policy of
normalization, while the regime erected by the Castros still stands, and
is hardly moving in the direction of open societies. We do not yet know
whether the Trump Administration will cancel or restrict these contacts.
What we can be sure of is that, if it does, American universities will
demand, vociferously and through every channel, their right to these
travel programs, and the uproar will only be comparable to their silence
and reticence to aid those subjected to the severe rigors of the other
university... the surveilled one.
Source: The surveilled university | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496907190_31729.html Continue reading
MICHAEL H. MIRANDA | Fayetteville | 7 de Junio de 2017 - 05:58 CEST.
La semana pasada aparecieron en las redes sociales varias fotos de
estudiantes norteamericanos con sus profesores en La Habana. Las
imágenes no llamarían demasiado la atención si no fuera porque la
coyuntura exige cierta contención en el consumo de la iconografía del
régimen: los estudiantes han sido captados paseándose por los salones
del Museo de la Revolución, frente a fotos de Fidel Castro y grotescas
caricaturas de presidentes norteamericanos. Y también porque en los
últimos meses han arreciado las expulsiones de estudiantes y profesores
en las universidades cubanas sin que muchos miembros de la academia
norteamericana hayan expresado su rechazo.
Ha existido bastante controversia alrededor de la idea de los viajes de
intercambio académico a países donde no existen tales libertades. Ya hay
una embajada estadounidense en La Habana, pero las relaciones distan
mucho de ser normales, sobre todo porque las exigencias en materia de
derechos fundamentales siguen sin ser observadas por La Habana. Sin
embargo, tras el ascenso de Barack Obama a la presidencia en 2008,
parece que había terminado imponiéndose en la práctica la posibilidad de
dar mayor sistematicidad a los viajes de estudiantes, e incluso varias
universidades crearon un puesto solo para llevar adelante estos
La pregunta que muchos se hacen es si deben usarse fondos públicos para
realizar viajes cuyos itinerarios, a todas luces aprobados a un nivel
bastante alto del Gobierno cubano, incluyen visitas a sitios llamados
"de interés histórico y social" (que ya sabemos qué significa y en qué
particular hoja de ruta están ubicados) y donde ocupan un lugar de
privilegio determinados puntos del horizonte estratégico del
totalitarismo tropical: si están los museos como el de la Revolución con
fotos a todo trapo de un tirano caribeño, ¿por qué no estarían el
santuario familiar de Birán, la piedra de Santa Ifigenia y el Museo del
Ministerio del Interior, tan bien descrito por Antonio José Ponte en La
El escritor y exprisionero político cubano Rafael Saumell, quien se
desempeña como profesor en la Sam Houston State University, de Texas,
valora la libertad académica que existe en la inmensa mayoría del mundo
universitario occidental, aunque apunta que él nunca se prestaría a un
trabajo de esa naturaleza. "Dado el pedigrí político de unos cuantos
colegas, siempre existe el riesgo de emplear fondos para tareas de
adoctrinamiento. Los apologistas de la diversidad suelen no ser igual de
explícitos para condenar las expulsiones de profesores y estudiantes que
no siguen la línea del Partido", comenta.
Resulta que podrían cuestionarse los objetivos de esos viajes, que visto
lo visto no implican tanto mejorar la cultura del idioma español de los
estudiantes, en propiedad eso puede trabajarse sin tanto cansancio y
esfuerzo allí mismo en los barrios más mexicanos de Austin, Phoenix o
Los Angeles. ¿Qué tienen que ver la exposición de una tanqueta del
Ejército Rebelde, el monumento al Che Guevara o la visita a una vaquería
por cuenta propia en Matanzas con los usos del subjuntivo? ¿O es que se
trata de un tipo específico de idioma español que se aleja de las normas
más ricas y dislocadas de la lengua para aproximarse a la pobreza del
Granma? ¿En qué momento las universidades americanas, con el magnánimo
(por no decir alegre) asentimiento de decanos y profesores, decidieron
que les correspondía un capítulo en la normalización, pero solo para
pasar de puntillas sobre la rutinaria falta de rigor y libertades de sus
homólogas de la Isla?
Si las universidades públicas norteamericanas no conocen que es una
práctica muy común en Cuba la expulsión de estudiantes y profesores no
simpatizantes con el régimen, lo menos que podría decirse es que están
desinformadas. Pero si lo conocen y aun así insisten en firmar convenios
de colaboración con esas instituciones, deberán esperar la repulsa y la
crítica por utilizar fondos del contribuyente para someter a los
estudiantes a una agenda tan distante de un legítimo "intercambio
cultural" y tan próximo a los dictados de la praxis política del
Obama es historia. Su política de normalización puede que tenga las
horas contadas, mientras el régimen erigido por los Castro sigue en pie
y sin moverse mucho en la dirección de las sociedades abiertas. No
sabemos todavía si la administración de Donald Trump va a cancelar o
restringir estos contactos. De lo que sí debemos estar seguros es de
que, si sucede, las universidades norteamericanas reclamarán con energía
y por todos los canales su derecho a los viajes, y su ruido solo será
comparable al silencio que con prudencia guardan cuando se trata de
acompañar a quienes intentan combatir los severos rigores de la otra
universidad, la vigilada.
Source: La universidad vigilada | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496677194_31658.html Continue reading
the University of Las Villas
14ymedio, Havana, 3 June 2017 – The Ministry of Higher Education (MES)
ratified the expulsion of Professor Dalila Rodriguez from the Marta
Abreu Central University of Las Villas. A letter dated May 9 and
delivered this Friday to the academic, responds to her earlier appeal
and confirms the revocation of her teaching status, as Rodriguez
explained to 14ymedio.
The document is signed by the MES legal advisor, Denisse Pereira Yero,
and by the chief of the Legal Department, Jorge Valdes Asan. The
officials will not consider an appeal by Rodriguez because "an
infraction of Article 74 Subsection (d) suffices to lose Teaching Status
On April 11 the professor received an order of dismissal from her
position on the Humanities Faculty, issued by the dean Andres Castro
Alegria, and it invoked Article 74 of the Regulation for the application
of the Higher Education Teaching Categories.
The argument put forward to justify the expulsion was that the professor
had not managed "to rectify a set of attitudes that deviate socially and
ethically from the correct teaching activity that her teaching status
demands, and that can affect the education of students." Rodriguez
received the news with surprise.
The philologist, 33 years of age and a resident of the Villa Clara
township of Camajuani, was, until her expulsion, studying for a
doctorate in Pedagogical Sciences after having obtained a master's in
Linguistics and Publishing Studies. She was active in the union and in
February received an excellent evaluation.
From the beginning of 2015, the academic experienced pressure from
State Security. Several agents interviewed her in order to find out if
she had contacts with the activist and evangelical pastor Mario Felix
Lleonart. There were also interested in knowing about relationships of
her father, Leonardo Rodriguez Alonso, coordinator of the Patmos
Institute, an independent organization that defends religious rights in
Dalila Rodriguez asserts that she does not belong to any dissident
group, nor does she even attend events convened by independent entities
on the Island. "They have done all this to make my father feel guilty,"
When they told her of her dismissal, the first vice-dean, Ossana Molerio
Perez, and the legal advisor also informed her that she would not be
allowed to appeal via the union, and they warned her that she must not
"set foot" again in the University.
The dismissal process was plagued by irregularities, Rodriguez
complains. According to regulations, her case should be reviewed first
by the commission in charge of teaching categories and she should be
offered seven days to appeal. Nevertheless, the dean made the decision
directly and without respecting deadlines.
Rodriguez then decided to write to the Minister of Higher Education,
Jose Saborido, but the answer received this week asserts that in her
case, "there is no violation" because "it does not involve a
disciplinary process but a special administrative proceeding."
In a phone conversation with 14ymedio, the professor called it
"incredible" that, shortly after having been evaluated with the highest
marks in her work, she has turned into someone "with serious ethical and
social problems who damages the education" of students.
She said she felt "totally helpless after working for 11 years in that
university," and she said that the teaching authorities "have not been
able to show any evidence against her."
Journalism student Karla Perez Gonzales was expelled a few days later
from the same university after being accused of belonging to the Somos+
Movement and "having a strategy from the beginning of her studies to
Her case inspired a wave of indignation, and official voices spoke in
her favor, like that of singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez, who wrote on
his blog: "What brutes we are, fuck, decades pass and we don't learn."
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
Source: The Ministry Ratifies the Expulsion of Professor Dalila
Rodriguez from the University of Las Villas – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-ministry-ratifies-the-expulsion-of-professor-dalila-rodriguez-from-the-university-of-las-villas/ Continue reading
BY BRIANA ERICKSON
Men sit on the steps and play a hand of cards, women chat outside barred
windows, stray dogs missing tufts of fur trot by.
Taxi drivers call it the last stop in Havana.
The locals call the neighborhood El barrio de Jesus María.
Up the steep concrete steps, a multi-generational family of seven shares
a pastel blue apartment and the basic rations common in Cuba — including
a sparse and potentially unclean water supply that sloshes around in a
dark, old cistern just inside the doorway.
Cuba seems like a water-rich country, with abundant rainfall, rivers
crisscrossing the island and groundwater that bubbles up in turquoise
But it has always struggled to provide enough fresh water for its people.
Part of the problem is that the water isn't where the people are. While
Cuba's capital city is in the wetter western part of the country, its
population of over 2.1 million means that it has less water per capita
than many other regions. Atop distribution problems, Havana and other
parts of the nation also lack sufficient infrastructure and
water-quality treatment. The strain has worsened in recent years due to
Back inside the fading blue apartment, a bouncy 3-year-old cheers to the
sound of Spanish-speaking trolls on the television.
The little boy, called Diandro, grabs his stuffed Spiderman toy.
"Es mi favorito," he says.
His neighborhood, made up of 120 to 150 blocks, has an open-air market
for meat and fruit and a mini supermarket. The outdoor market opens at
10, but locals get there at 9 to make sure they can get enough food for
They live in southern Havana, on a street about a 20-minute drive from
where tourists usually venture.
Those who live here don't have cars, and the buses don't come to this
neighborhood. Residents walk 16 blocks or more to work, or ride their bikes.
The water in their makeshift well comes from government trucks, "las
pipas," when the neighborhood is in need.
The family rations 10 buckets a day per person.
Every workday, Yan Alvarez picks up a stack of white papers labeled
Each signifies at least 10 places where he must pump water throughout
Old Havana. Each home takes 20 to 30 minutes to fill.
"No llueve," says the 40-year-old who has worked the job for seven years.
It doesn't rain.
The hefty man says he worked 18 hours the day before: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
He pulls up his old truck to a pink apartment. Number 109 on a street
called Aguacate. His wife Leonida guides him from the passenger side.
He drags the long hose from the blue tank into the home, snaking around
the truck and into the house of Yanin Amaga, who stands graciously at
Along with neighbors around the city, she says she looks forward to the
day the water truck comes. Sometimes she must stretch her meager fill-up
for as many as seven days before she sees Alvarez again.
"Café?" She asks, bringing him a small mug with a saucer.
As he sips his coffee, his 3-year-old son Alejandro, shirtless and
wearing plaid swim trunks, hops out of the truck and trips in his blue
In the home at El barrio de Jesus María, Diandro's Aunt Elena Rodriguez,
her son Fabio and her spouse Eduardo Torres live downstairs.
All three share a room and a twin bed. Together, they make the
equivalent of 20 Convertible Cuban Pesos a month as dance teachers.
(About $23 USD at a recent exchange of $1 USD to 0.87 CUC).
Outside the family's room, natural light floods from a roofless hallway.
To the right is the area the family calls the well, a crumbling cistern
where they fill buckets of water for their daily needs: Cleaning.
Cooking. Showering. Hand-washing. Dishes. And on Sundays, laundry. They
boil water for drinking.
If the pipas come when they aren't home, they must call and bribe the
truck people with money to come back, Torres says.
Producing safe drinking water for his family has become a daily ritual.
Although Torres has had to boil water since he was a child, he says it
never gets easier.
"Aquí no vivimos, acquí solo sobrevimos," he says.
We don't live here, we only survive here.
In addition to their fill-up from the water truck, water also trickles
in from the streets every day, topping off their supply.
Torres, dark haired and charismatic, crouches into the well. Placing a
red bucket into the hole, he tugs up the splattering water. When the
water level gets too low, the family members hoist it up with a cable.
To have running water, the pipes would cost the family $150 to $200 CUC.
(About $172 to $230 USD). That's more than Torres and Rodriguez make in
a year as dance teachers.
He fills a pot and lugs it to the stovetop, turning the knob. As the gas
kicks on, the blue light flickers. The gray water sizzles; floating
specks of sedimentary rock, calcium and chloride swirl around.
Las Pipas drivers
Outside the Aguas de la Habana, where Yan and the other Las Pipas
drivers refill their water tanks, workers in rain boots and long pants
twist a rusty wheel.
Water spouts into four trucks simultaneously. It cascades down the sides
and drips onto the road. Not all fills the yellow, blue and green tanks;
some is lost in mud puddles on the street. All over Cuba, water is also
lost through leaking pipes, adding to the problems with water supply.
The smell of gas permeates the air as a blue truck with a dolphin on the
back hums by. It holds 8,000 liters. The other trucks hold 10,000. Some
12,000. Each heads throughout the city to homes in need of water.
Families are encouraged to boil it for safe drinking.
Outside a home down the street, two men wear navy shirts that read
"Aguas de la Habana." Prying up a sewer hole with a lit cigarette
between his teeth, one of the men shakes his head. There are
20,000-liter pipas, too, and they go straight to the hotels, he says.
While Cuban residents ration, tourists drink bottled water by the liter
and take hot showers as if they're at home.
The Cuban government has been working to build new water supply
infrastructure around the country. But it hasn't been enough for people
in Havana and other cities.
The more important strategy long-term is to protect Cuba's natural water
resources and ensure the growing tourist industries use water wisely and
help fund sustainable solutions, says Roberto Pérez Rivero of Cuba's
Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, a scientific
"Taking the water from here to there, that can solve the problem. But
for a while," he says. Without a more holistic solution than the pipas,
"soon everyone will be in scarcity."
Boiling water at home
Back at the apartment, the water is still bubbling on the stove.
Rodriguez grabs a handkerchief and carries the steaming water to the
cement staircase to cool. They can drink it in two hours.
She grabs a lid to one of the water buckets and uses it as a cutting
board. She wraps her fingers around a handle-less knife and chops
tomatoes with the blade, her curly dark hair framing her face.
She tosses a tomato slice into the air. Her pit bull Mentira jumps up to
"Ella Italiana," Rodriguez jokes.
She grabs a handful of black beans and dips them into the water to wash,
holding them out in her palm. The color contrasts with the turquoise on
"Me encanta mi país," Rodriguez says.
I love my country.
"Pero… a Cuba le falta todo," she says.
But... Cuba lacks everything.
THIS STORY IS PART OF A "CUBA: OUTSIDE IN" MULTIMEDIA STORYTELLING
PROJECT DONE BY STUDENTS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF
JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATIONS.
Source: Safe drinking water is a commodity in Cuba | Miami Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article152407904.html Continue reading
MAY 15, 2017 BY MONIKA DONIMIRSKA
COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cuba is
experiencing a brain drain, though it's not the kind that forecasters
were predicting when the long-closed country began opening its borders.
It's internal brain drain, says Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of
the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business Office of
Global Initiatives and Center for International Business Education and
The small island nation's doctors and other highly skilled workers
aren't emigrating for more lucrative jobs in Miami and elsewhere. In
fact, they aren't emigrating at all. They're staying in Cuba, but moving
toward the burgeoning hospitality sector.
And it's posing a major new threat to Cuba, Bellinger says. „Cubans are
deciding that they'll have a higher quality of life if they enter the
travel and service industry."
To be sure, some highly skilled Cubans – doctors, lawyers, professors
and others – are leaving the country in search of opportunity. But many
more who are staying in Cuba are opting to leave their jobs because of
low state salaries or are taking on second jobs, becoming taxi drivers,
waiters and bellhops – jobs involving regular interaction with foreign
visitors and their hard currency. The government is experiencing a sort
of „drain" as well, as state workers flee their jobs for the more
lucrative private sector.
„These are people who are leaving the jobs for which they have been
trained," Bellinger says. „Last year, we met an English teacher who left
his rural school position to become a tour guide, both to use the
language he had learned and to gain access to hard currency."
Cuba's universities have long been regarded as the best in Latin
America, but in recent years, gross enrollment has been plummeting,
sparking additional worries.
The country maintains two forms of legal tender: the Cuban peso (CUP)
and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S.
dollar, and is many times more valuable than the CUP. Neither trades on
the global forex market. Most Cubans are paid in the weaker peso (CUP),
limiting their buying power. Visitors to the country use the CUC and
leave tips, and that's helping to fuel Cuba's internal brain drain.
Bellinger has been traveling to Cuba since 2010, studying what's
happening there as she forges experiential learning opportunities for
students and collaborative partnerships with the University of Havana
and its associated research centers. As part of her work with NAFSA, the
Association of International Educators, she has worked with the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, a Treasury Department unit that manages
sanctions, to educate the higher education community in the U.S. on
regulations that govern legal travel to Cuba. She also leads the CIBER
Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Program to Cuba for
faculty from across the U.S.
She has seen an uneven upturn in travel, steep in Havana, but shallow
„Last year, we were told by a hotel manager that Havana has 100 percent
capacity in hotels all year long," she says. The capital city is so full
of foreign travelers today that it's scarcely recognizable from even a
Travel to Cuba's secondary cities, meanwhile, has been generally missing
the boom. That's in large part because U.S. travelers have faced highly
restrictive travel conditions in the past and may not be aware of what
the island has to offer outside of Havana.
To be approved for travel to Cuba, Americans must have an itinerary that
aligns with one of 12 approved purposes, which include religious
activities, journalism, humanitarian projects and people-to-people
outreach. „And tourism is not one of them. This is not a destination
that U.S. citizens can just explore for sun and sand," Bellinger says.
That has kept most U.S. travelers in Havana for now, but gradually that
will change, Bellinger says, as U.S. relations with Cuba continue to evolve.
As Cuba looks to its future, Bellinger says, it must focus on these
Support economic reforms: This has already begun, Bellinger notes, but
much work remains. The economic reforms announced in 2010 have
encouraged development and job creation in the non-state sector, which
has eased the financial burden on the state. Over 500,000 Cubans are now
self-employed in their own microenterprises and private cooperatives,
but the regulations that govern these businesses are still constraining.
For example, private restaurants are able to have only 50 seats, and
private companies are not permitted to import any goods or foodstuff to
support their business.
Address the dual currency issue: Rebuild the country around a single
currency, to level the playing field for Cubans and increase consumer
Address salary issue: Traditionally esteemed, high-skilled work should
be appropriately compensated, to counter brain drain tendencies in the
Invest in innovative capacity: „Because of Cuba's history," Bellinger
says, „it does not lack the ability to innovate. Just think about the
old jalopies." Closed off from much global trade, Cubans have long found
ways to maintain and retrofit 50-year-old automobiles. „That type of
innovation exists," she says, „but so do impressive global innovations
in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.
Ease access to information: Access to the internet has increased in
Cuba, with about 2,000 homes in Havana authorized to receive the
internet directly and with the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing
virtually every day. „It is fantastic," Bellinger says, „that the
government is no longer afraid of giving people access to information."
The country should encourage the democratization of the internet,
allowing greater accessibility at a fair and level price, she adds. In
most countries, internet prices are determined based on the amount of
data used. In Cuba, users are charged based on the types of websites
visited, with domestic websites costing less than foreign ones. Some
foreign websites are still blocked in Cuba.
Educate a generation of business leaders: For a half-century beginning
around 1960, the economy was generally controlled by the Cuban
government. Now, the country faces a crisis in business education: Who
will educate the next generation of business leaders, job creators and
entrepreneurs? The reforms that have allowed for the creation of private
business have not been supported with education, meaning that the
individuals starting and running small businesses do not have access to
the formal training they need to be successful. The Catholic Church has
begun a program that's similar to a masters of business program, and a
Miami-based nonprofit is doing some startup business training on what
Bellinger describes as „a very small scale." But education remains an
area where Cuba prohibits joint ventures with foreign entities, so
prospects for business education remain murky.
Improve transportation and infrastructure: Cuba has infrastructure
problems, „first and foremost," Bellinger says, making travel cumbersome
between Havana and the country's secondary cities. Addressing those
problem would spread economic development across the island.
Choose democracy: Elections are planned for 2018, when Cuban President
Raul Castro plans to step down. „But if there's going to be an election,
is it going to be fair? Who will be the key players? We don't know,"
Bellinger says. „It's as important as ever that Cuba listen to its
Central to her suggestions is the notion of investing in human capital.
„At the end of the day," Bellinger says, „if you don't invest in human
capital – if you don't invest in your workforce – nothing is going to
change in Cuba."
Visit Smith Brain Trust for related content
at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust and
follow on Twitter @SmithBrainTrust.
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized
leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and
schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School
offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online
MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as
outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its
degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North
America and Asia.
Contact: Greg Muraski at 301-892-0973 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different | satPRnews -
http://www.satprnews.com/2017/05/15/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/ Continue reading
WALDO FERNÁNDEZ CUENCA | La Habana | 15 de Mayo de 2017 - 11:51 CEST.
It was one of the few functions at the University of Havana that I will
never forget. The event for "Young Communists" took place in the year
2010. It was held to assess the insistence of a Journalism student, who
wished to travel to the United States in response to the American
government's offer of a scholarship in Leadership and Youth Empowerment
for six months.
Popularly known as "SINA scholarships" at that time, they caused a big
stir among university authorities. State Security had to take action to
frustrate the aspirations of hundreds of young Cubans interested in
obtaining scholarships to travel in and experience the United States.
Those present at the meeting in the Department of Journalism agreed to
oust the girl from the ranks of the Union of Young Communists (UJC) just
for accepting the scholarship. However, they disagreed that she ought to
be definitively expelled from the University.
The municipal UJC official scoffed at the suggestion, insisting that
"the time of expulsions from the University had passed," citing as an
example of the "new times" the fact that a son of opposition leader
Oswaldo Payá was completing advanced studies without incident.
This official, well tutored by State Security officials, shared some of
the tricks that students came up with to get around University officials
and obtain travel permits. The young woman was ultimately able to finish
her studies, and today works for an official media outlet.
I was reminded of this anecdote by the expulsion of Journalism student
Karla Pérez González from the Universidad Marta Abreu de Villa Clara for
belonging to the dissident movement Somos+. This measure forms part of a
chain of events in recent years in which scientists, economists and
other professionals have been dismissed from their jobs for holding
positions critical of the regime, or simply for having links to Cuban
For the Castroist elite it has always been key to keep a close eye on
and control the thinking and plans of university students, especially
those studying in fields that are critical to the maintenance of the
regime's totalitarian narrative, such as Law and Journalism. In this
endeavor two facets of the university system in the Island are vital:
the total absence of university autonomy or academic freedom for professors.
But this policy is wearing thin. The regime's stale structures and
institutions remain intact due to the inherent intransigence and
repression that characterize Raul's rule. One only need recall that Raúl
Castro spearheaded the dismantling of the Center of American Studies
back in 1996, with the false accusation that its members were "covert
agents of Imperialism." Opening up small gaps and spaces for dissent
could end up overturning a rigid, fragile system in the short or medium
term ... and the Castroist elite knows this all too well.
Source: It's Wearing Thin | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1494841887_31118.html Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 4 May 2017 — Early Wednesday
morning Karel wasn't sleeping. He spent it turning somersaults in bed
and solving math problems. Together with thousands of students across
the country, the young man presented himself at the Mathematics entrance
exam for higher education. "It was complicated, but I answered all the
questions," he said smiling to his mother as he returned home.
As of this Wednesday, high school classrooms are filled with nervous
gestures and students who are playing with their professional future on
a piece of paper. Most have been preparing for this moment for months,
and many have had to pay for a private tutor who prepares them to
successfully pass the tests.
"I'm a little anxious, but I feel safe because I've studied a lot," said
a twelfth grader from Old Havana minutes before the buzzer announced the
start of the first entrance exam. My strength is geometry and I didn't
like the problems at all," he confessed.
The Mathematics exam started off the admission tests for Higher
Education throughout the country. More than 45,000 high school graduates
took part, the young men after finishing their Active Military Service,
and the girls who completed Women's Voluntary Military Service.
Between 2010 and 2015 the number of university students fell by more
than half: from more than 206,000 students throughout the country to 90,691
Other applicants take the tests through competition. All, without
exception, set their sights on continuing higher education in a country
where university diplomas are less valued every day.
Between 2010 and 2015 the number of university students fell by more
than half: from more than 206,000 students throughout the country to
90,691. The causes for this decline are manifold and the specialists do
not agree, but economic imperatives are among the incentives for an
increasing number of young people to prefer to go to work as soon as
The situation contrasts with the massive admissions to higher education
that characterized national education for decades. Previously, tens of
thousands of professionals graduated, many of whom are now engaged in
occupations not related to their specialties.
Finding a chemical engineer working as a bartender in a hotel or a
biochemist driving a private taxi has become a "normal anomaly" in the
"My family cannot afford for me to be in a classroom for five more
years," says Rodney Calzadilla, 18, a food vendor in Matanzas
province. The mother of the young man has a degree in Economics, but she
"always told me that the most important thing is to be useful, not to
have a diploma hanging on the living room wall," he says.
Of the 539,952 Cubans who worked in the private sector at the end of
January of this year, or for themselves, more than 3,000 are under the
age of 20
Of the 539,952 Cubans who worked in the private sector at the end of
January of this year, or for themselves, more than 3,000 are under the
age of 20.
At the conclusion of the exams this May, the list will be drawn up,
which also takes into account the average of students' grades in high
school. Those with the best grades and test scores have priority to
choose one of the 83,840 places in higher education that are offered for
the 2017-2018 school year, of which the most desired by young people are
the 36,705 in the regular day course.
But the entrance exams are complicated. In June 2014, a fraud scandal
shook the most important tests in Cuban education. The incident involved
five pre-university teachers, a provincial-level methodologist at the
Ministry of Education, a print shop worker, and another citizen not
linked to educational institutions.
A year later they returned to the eye of the hurricane, when the
Ministry of Education recognized that "the approach of the question 4 of
the examination of Mathematics" was subject "to several
interpretations." Faced with the massive complaints from the students,
the authorities were forced to evaluate only section A, discarding
"This year we have taken extraordinary measures to protect the sanctity
of examinations, " a source at the Ministry of Higher Education told
14ymedio. The official, who requested anonymity, believes that "previous
incidents have greatly damaged the image and confidence of students in
this process, so we are committed to changing that impression."
Next Monday the Spanish test will be administered and the calendar
concludes on Thursday, May 11 with History, the most ideological subject
in the curriculum
Next Monday, the Spanish test will be administered and the calendar
concludes on Thursday, May 11 with History, the most ideological subject
in the curriculum of the schools of the Island.
For the History exam the students are preparing themselves on this
occasion on subjects related to the deceased ex-president Fidel
Castro. "What goes, goes," says María Julia, a teacher of the specialty
that organizes private tutoring in Havana's Playa district.
"The main question of the test almost always is related to some
anniversary or historical figure that is important in the current year,"
clarifies the teacher. "It's clear there will be one or two questions
about him, that's for sure." With a degree in History, María Julia has
drilled her students in "the concept of Revolution" and Fidel Castro's
"For students who do poorly on the math test, the most difficult of all,
it is possible to raise the average with History, which is easier,"
admits the teacher. "For those who aren't that comfortable with numbers,
if they have a good grasp of politics, they have a chance on this test."
Source: University Entrance Exams Begin With "Extraordinary Measures"
Against Fraud – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/university-entrance-exams-begin-with-extraordinary-measures-against-fraud/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 4 May 2017 – I was in the
third grade and the teacher chose the most aggressive girl in my class
to be the room monitor. She was given carte blanche to control the other
children. Later, the abuser rose to a position in the Federation of
Middle School Students and joined the Union of Young Communists. Today
she is an active part of a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution.
She is corrupt and violent, but highly valued by the authorities in her
Cuba's National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex), led by Raul
Castro's daughter Mariela Castro, has launched a campaign against
homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. The initiative includes
the family in order to "understand what it is about, to help the girls
and boys, the teenagers, the young people, and all the staff of the
school," says the sexologist.
Mariela Castro says that the level of abuse in schools on the island is
"fairly low," an affirmation that demonstrates – at the very least – her
lack of connection with the Cuban reality. Without reliable official
figures, any investigation of the subject must appeal to the personal
experience of individuals and this is when the stories and testimonies
of bullying in the educational environment surface.
The high schools in the countryside, promoted by former president Fidel
Castro, were a reservoir of these abuses, many of them carried out under
the impassive eyes of the teachers. Suicides, rapes, systematic
robberies of the most fragile, accompanied by power structures more
typical of prisons than an educational institution, were the daily bread
of those of us who attended these schools.
I remember the spring of 1991, when a student threw himself off the
water tower of the People's Republic of Romania High School in what is
now Artemis province. He had been harassed by the taunts and pressures
of several classmates. We were all crowded together in the central
hallway during the evening's recreation hour when we felt the thud of
his body landing on the concrete.
His harassers never paid for that death, it never became a data point in
the statistics of student victims of bullying, and a family had to bury
a son without being able to put a name to what had happened to him:
abuse. In the weeks after that death another student slit his wrists –
fortunately he didn't die – and a group of twelfth grade students beat
up a tenth grader for "having feathers," i.e. being effeminate.
However, abuse in the schools doesn't end there. There are many ways to
harass a student and not all of them come from his or her classmates,
nor are they motivated by sexual stereotypes, strict gender roles or
group bravado. Ideological violence, exercised by power and with the
consent of the school administrators, is another way to inflict
A few weeks ago, a journalism student at the Central University of Las
Villas was the victim of institutional abuse that will leave permanent
psychic and social scars on this young girl, just 18. To make matters
worse, it was the leaders of the University Student Federation who
behaved toward Karla Perez Gonzalez as the school abusers, like the
leaders of a gang or the thugs of the hour.
Since her expulsion, the former student has been the victim of a new
type of harassment, this time embodied in a campaign of character
assassination that would be laughable if it weren't aimed at destroying
her self-esteem and turning her into a non-person. To do something like
that to a student of such a young age is an act of rape from power,
persecution dressed up in the robes of school discipline.
The abusers, protected from above, end up feeling that they can destroy
lives, denounce innocents and beat others as long as they are protected
by an ideology. A system that has fomented political thuggery in its
schools and its streets cannot confront bullying in all the complexity
that the problem presents.
Noisy campaigns to fill foreign media headlines and the collection
of large funds from international organizations is not the solution for
all the Cuban children who have to deal, right now, with the physical
blows, the ridicule of their classmates or partisan indoctrination in
Source: When The Abuser Is The Government – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/when-the-abuser-is-the-government/ Continue reading
Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer
Monday, April 24, 2017 10:40am
ST. PETERSBURG — Florida scientists will ride their research vessel to
Cuba next month to take measurements of its coastal waters before any
oil spill ruins them.
One of the major problems with the 2010 BP oil spill, say scientists, is
that no one — not the government, not the oil companies, not even
universities — had taken base line measurements of what conditions were
like in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
So the University of South Florida's marine science department has been
trying to rectify that by taking readings all around the edges of the
Gulf over the past year or so. They even journeyed down to Mexico, where
they not only took readings but also found signs that oil still remains
from the 1979 Ixtoc I spill, a disaster that paralleled the BP spill.
And now in their ship the R/V Weatherbird II they're heading for Cuba on
May 9, according to David Hollander, a USF chemical oceanographer who
played a crucial role in the university's investigations of the BP
They will be paying particular attention to conditions in the Florida
Straits, "because those are the ins and outs of the water coming into
the Gulf of Mexico," he said.
In addition to taking the baseline measurements of the water's chemical
composition, Hollander said, "we'll be looking at aspects of the
contamination levels and fisheries conditions, and comparing those to
what we found in Mexico and U.S. waters."
Cuba has tried repeatedly to drill for oil off its coast, where an
estimated 20 billion barrels of crude await. But all of their efforts,
including the most recent one led by Spain's Repsol, have come up dry.
But Cuba is now partnered with Angola's state-run petroleum production
company, Sonangol for yet another attempt. Meanwhile other companies
continue trying their luck. One, Sherritt International, announced last
month that its exploratory offshore wells were disappointing, but the
company intended to keep trying.
The thaw of relations between Cuba and the U.S. has opened the door for
scientific collaboration on issues of interest to both countries. For
instance, the Florida Aquarium has partnered with the National Aquarium
of Cuba on coral research.
That's why the USF contingent is expecting a warm welcome from its Cuban
The thirteen U.S. scientists on board will be joined by 30 graduate
students, professors and biologists from the University of Havana and
the Cuban Fisheries Agency to share information on their technology and
techniques, Hollander said.
Contact Craig Pittman at email@example.com. Follow @craigtimes.
Source: USF scientists headed for Cuba to study what it looks like
before any oil spills | Tampa Bay Times -
http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/usf-scientists-headed-for-cuba-to-study-what-it-looks-like-before-any-oil/2321200 Continue reading
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 24 de Abril de 2017 - 17:00 CEST.
Once gain former Economy minister José Luis Rodríguez has attempted to
pull the wool over everyone's eyes. Apparently the Castro dictatorship
has called on him to do its dirty work and cook the books to present a
more favorable picture of the regime's administration.
Rodríguez recently wrote, in Cubadebate, that the export of doctors,
nurses and other health professionals brought in revenue amounting to an
average of 11.543 billion dollars yearly between 2011 and 2015. False.
As a source he drew upon the 2016 Statistical Yearbook on Health – which
was so incomplete that it does not even mention how many health
professionals work outside Cuba, the most important factor of all. The
Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that there are about 50,000 in all.
I think it is appropriate to note that last February Rodríguez announced
that in 2016 Cuba paid its foreign creditors $5.299 billion, which is
also false. And, in 2006, as Minister of the Economy, he said, with a
straight face, that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cuba had grown
12.5%, the greatest growth in the world, even surpassing China.
This time the former Castroist higher-up – who today serves as an
advisor at Cuba's International Economy Research Center (CIEM), and at
the aforementioned Yearbook of Public Health – is guilty of several more
To begin with, in order for the medical services that Cuba exports to 62
countries on four continents to have generated $11.543 billion, the
average salary of each contracted Cuban professional would have to have
been around $19,200 per month, which is impossible. His claim is even
more far-fetched when said yearbook indicates that 35 countries paid for
these services, and the other 27 paid nothing.
The key to all this is that the regime lies. It calculates Venezuelan
subsidies as a sale of medical services. Curiously, in his article
Rodríguez did not include the year 2016, in which Caracas slashed its
subsidies to the Island. Experts estimate that they have fallen by 40%,
and that oil deliveries were reduced from 110,000 to 55,000 barrels a
day, which would explain the current fuel crisis on the Island.
Cuba now depends and will depend more and more of the flow of foreign
currency coming from the "Empire" via remittances, packages and travel
to the island, which in 2016 came to more than 7 billion dollars. That
figure probably already equals or exceeds the subsidies from Venezuela,
and triples the gross revenue generated by tourism.
Moreover, even supposing that everything stated by the former minister
were true, it is immoral for the Castroist leadership to openly proclaim
that it steals salaries from doctors. That's called trafficking. Those
$11.543 billion belong to the doctors, who earned them with their work,
and then saw them confiscated.
According to the pact between the previous government of Brazil and
Cuba, negotiated with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the
Brazilian government pays Cuba $4,080 per month for each Cuban doctor.
Of this amount, the physician receives less than 25%, that is, less than
$1,000, according to doctors who have left Brazil, and complaints from
the National Federation of Brazilian Doctors, which describes the
contracts as "slave work." For every Cuban doctor in Brazil, Castro
pockets $3,000 a month.
The figures do not add up
There are now some 10,400 Cuban doctors and professionals in Brazil;
that is, 20% of those it has abroad. Venezuela, meanwhile, has more than
34,000 professionals, almost 70% of the total. That means that if the
average salary obtained, based on the figure cited by Rodriguez, comes
to $19,200 per month, and Brazil pays only $4,080 per doctor, then
Venezuela pays several times that monthly amount for each Cuban
professional, which is untrue.
Moreover, the $11.543 billion reported surely include the more than $720
million per year that Cuba was making by re-exporting gasoline from
Venezuela, or refined in Cienfuegos with crude given away by Caracas. Is
that not that a subsidy, like the one that was previously received from
the USSR, when the Island re-exported Soviet oil?
It is outrageous that the international community has not condemned the
export of Cuban doctors, essentially working as slaves in the 21st
century. Neither the International Labor Organization (ILO), nor any
government in the world has censured this abusive practice. The UN
Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Maria Grazia Gianmarinaro,
just visited Havana, but apparently apparently was satisfied with the
explanation provided by her hosts, masters of propaganda to protect the
In Brazil, for example, Article 149 of the Penal Code states that "slave
labor" exists when one is subjected to "forced labor, excessive shifts,
and remuneration that is dramatically deficient relative to the work
performed, justified by debts owed one's employer."
But the governments of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff wanted to favor
the Castros, and signed those shameful agreements. And the current
government has done little to fight this abuse.
Why no self-employed doctors?
The truth is that more than a third of the 90,161 doctors of the Island,
according to the yearbook, do not work in Cuba, but rather abroad, which
affects medical services on the Island. The regime graduates them, en
masse, to export and exploit them, as they are sent abroad for the
selfish aim of confiscating their wages. They are reminiscent of the
"talking instruments," as Marco Terencio Varrón called slaves in
classical Rome, 2,000 years ago.
If the Castro hierarchy allowed university professionals to enjoy
economic freedom, provide their services on their own, and doctors to
have private practices, they would render a valuable public service,
earn much more income, and not have to accept being exported as if they
were owned by the State, or the Castro family, to receive meager
remuneration, with which to make their lives and those of their families
on the Island more bearable.
Exported doctors have their freedom of movement restricted. They travel
alone, without their families. Their passports are held, and they are
enlisted in pro-Castro political campaigns with local populations, with
which they cannot interact privately. The whole system is like a modern
version of labor markets in the 18th and 19th centuries through which
masters rented out their slaves to third parties for given periods.
In short, the $11.543 billion cited by Rodríguez were not obtained just
through the "exported services." Rather, they mainly came from
Venezuelan and Brazilian subsidies. And the money confiscated from
doctors constitutes an international crime, which does not prescribe,
and ought to be punished.
Source: Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1493046046_30603.html Continue reading
de Las Villas
La educación no puede ser tal si no se logra en y para la libertad
Arturo López-Levy, Denver | 19/04/2017 9:46 am
Acabo de leer la comunicación de la Federación Estudiantil Universitaria
(FEU) de la Universidad Central de Las Villas (UCLV) sobre el caso de
una estudiante expulsada por pertenecer a un grupo opositor. Con la
calma y experiencia de haber sido expulsado del Instituto Superior de
Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI), en 1991, cuando era estudiante del
mismo por "ideas y conductas que no son compatibles con la disciplina y
lo que se espera de un futuro diplomático cubano" (fue lo que se me dijo
entonces por el rector Oscar García), siento el deber de solidarizarme
con la víctima de esa arbitrariedad y repudiar la decisión tomada.
En mi caso, debo decir que el ISRI rectificó la decisión incorrecta, y
se me permitió terminar mis estudios, graduándome en 1993. Gracias a esa
rectificación, y al apoyo de personas que en su mayoría siguen apoyando
hoy al gobierno del PCC o aun discrepando del mismo (pues son
nacionalistas y patriotas), pude terminar mis estudios. Aun cuando
discrepo con algunas de las ideas de esos compatriotas y sigo teniendo
las ideas socialdemócratas que desde entonces empecé a cultivar, no
albergo ningún resentimiento ni al ISRI, ni al Ministerio de Relaciones
Exteriores (MINREX), ni a las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR)
—donde fui a cumplir el servicio militar como soldado, como periodo
probatorio—, ni a mis compañeros de entonces. No albergo resentimiento,
pero sí recuerdo y constato que varios de los que apoyaron mi expulsión
son hoy los mayores anti-comunistas y rabiosos anti-gubernamentales. Su
pasión hoy, al alinearse con lo peor de la derecha reaccionaria y
racista cubana, o el callarse solo preocupados por su beneficio
personal, es coherente con el oportunismo y la lacaya actitud de
entonces. Cambian de collar, pero son lo mismo.
La UCLV es una institución que quiero mucho. No estudie en sus aulas,
pero sí crecí y me eduqué entre la gente buena que enseña y estudia
allí, donde mis padres eran profesores. No soy quien para erigirse en
fiscal y emprenderla ahora en contra de los que tomaron la decisión
descalificándolos como cubanos, ni como personas. Sé de los errores que
se cometen por gente noble cuando se actúa con pensamiento de grupo y se
aceptan criterios impuestos por los que tienen más poder o son mayoría.
Por eso, más que apelar o cuestionar la bondad de las personas, prefiero
preguntar si las instituciones tienen el diseño apropiado para que las
decisiones que toman sean guiadas por lógicos y justos criterios de
ciudadanos que viven una vida de auto-reflexión y diálogo. Los que
defienden que en Cuba hay un Estado de derecho, deben empezar por
ubicarse en que para que exista tal Estado tienen que haber derechos e
instituciones que los garanticen.
Es evidente que tan mala decisión de la FEU de la UCLV contra Karla
María Pérez González contradice la Declaración Universal de los Derechos
Humanos en lo que a la igualdad ante la ley y el derecho a la educación
se refiere. No es la federación de estudiantes la encargada de decidir
en estos menesteres. Tal acción solo puede ocurrir como resultado de una
decisión de la dirección del plantel, con todas las connotaciones
legales que eso conlleva. El derecho a la educación es un derecho
inalienable, en cuya realización progresiva la Revolución cubana ha
invertido un gran capital y prioridad. Aunque nada borra ese esfuerzo
desde la alfabetización hasta hoy, usar una "selectividad política" para
la concesión de un derecho sí lo demerita. Ojalá los dirigentes de la
educación superior cubana rectifiquen esta metedura de pata, con la que
ya están haciendo zafra sus adversarios más rabiosos.
Estoy consciente de que varios de los que hoy se rasgan las vestiduras
por esa joven han sido cómplices, o hasta participantes, en claros actos
contra la libertad de expresión en Miami; nunca reclaman por ninguna
pluralidad de ideas en la discusión del tema Cuba en las emisoras de esa
ciudad, ni por el derecho de réplica en sus periódicos, ni en las
universidades de esa ciudad. Tengo el honor de casi sufrir un "acto de
repudio" en un panel de la Conferencia de la Asociación de Estudios de
la Economía Cubana (ASCE), en 2011, con un moderador de panel que lejos
de imponer orden se prestó para serias desviaciones de las practicas
No me conmueve nadie que coquetea y se calla cuando habla en Estados
Unidos (algunos vienen ahora de Cuba como parte de la sociedad política
opositora o de la sociedad civil emergente, como favoritos de liberales
y conservadores del lado de acá del Estrecho) sobre el embargo/bloqueo
norteamericano contra Cuba. Guárdense las lágrimas de cocodrilo los
ciegos a conveniencia que no ven las múltiples violaciones de una
derecha cubana que ha fijado límites estrictos sobre el discurso que se
puede ejercer en todo lo que controlan, que es bastante en Miami, donde
deciden quiénes son los contratados e invitados a sus centros y
universidades. No le reconozco mérito moral a los cómplices, que
condenan el embargo de boca para afuera en un post, pero nunca se les
enfrentan de cara a sus gestores cuando están en sus predios y corren
ahora a condenar a la UCLV. Que empiecen por solidarizarse con los
excluidos en los sesgos estructurales escandalosos de los programas de
conferencias del ICCAS, de la Universidad de Miami, del CRI de Florida
International University, los periódicos, radios, canales de televisión
y otros foros en el sur de la Florida. Ni de mercado libre de ideas
pueden hablar, pues el Gobierno de Estados Unidos los subsidia en Radio
y TV Martí.
Esa gente sigue allí porque tienen el dinero de los contribuyentes,
botado a raudales por el Gobierno de Estados Unidos, pero no engañan al
que no se quiere dejar engañar. Hablan de racismo y homofobia en Cuba,
pero no lo tocan en el exilio. Tratan con suavidad a los de la derecha
pro-embargo, como si fueran gente noble equivocada, mientras se reservan
toda denuncia dura contra el gobierno cubano. Son "pluma vendida", que
es pluma muerta. Hipócritas, que se acuerdan de los derechos humanos los
martes y jueves (cuando les conviene) y se olvidan de la libertad de
expresión y de los derechos los lunes, miércoles y viernes, cuando sus
aliados son los violadores. Para ser demócrata hay que serlo la semana
Pero nada de eso justifica una expulsión de una universidad en Cuba por
pensar diferente. Es un ultraje al nombre de José Martí usar el adjetivo
martiano en un acto de naturaleza represiva al pensamiento, como lo hace
el comunicado. El Apóstol fue condenado por escribir una carta a un
apóstata, al que le recordaba la pena que se le aplicaba a los de su
clase en la antigüedad, pero jamás abogó por imponerle a la brava a
nadie una forma de pensar. La persuasión y el apelar a la moral y la
dignidad del ser humano fueron su prédica y acción.
Martí llamó a crear repúblicas nuevas, "naturales", ajustadas a los
pueblos que se gobierna, pero tenía principios de libertad muy claros.
Desde ese espíritu martiano, no soy partidario de copiar en Cuba, el
absolutismo de la primera enmienda norteamericana, en términos de
libertad de expresión irrestricta en áreas como el tratamiento a los
símbolos patrios, la apología al terrorismo, o la autorización a
organizaciones que promuevan el odio racial o la concesión a poderes
extranjeros de prerrogativas que caen exclusivamente bajo soberanía
cubana (como lo hace el embargo/bloqueo norteamericano).
Las universidades son espacios para pensar lo impensable y decir lo
indecible. Son el reservorio primero de la libertad de pensamiento en
una nación. A la universidad se va a debatir, cuestionar, y reflexionar,
no a reafirmarse en la comodidad de ideas preconcebidas, ni a ser
"becario del pensamiento oficial". Muchas de las ideas que llevaron a
los progresos más importantes de la historia de Cuba, incluida la
independencia y la Revolución, no eran apoyadas inicialmente por una
Es en esos predios donde la liberación se alcanza por el ejercicio de la
cultura. La educación no puede ser tal si no se logra en y para la
libertad. En todos los lugares los debates de ideas tienen márgenes
estructurales, explícitos e implícitos. La ampliación de esos márgenes,
y un movimiento hacia mayores libertades, es una necesidad nacional
dictada por un país y una sociedad que es cada día más plural. La
democratización ordenada de las estructuras y foros es funcional al
interés nacional para un mayor desarrollo e integración con estabilidad
política. Lo patriótico no es apisonar y reprimir la diferencia, sino
canalizarla dentro de valores nacionalistas. Un patrón preocupante
parece emerger con el cierre del contrato al profesor Julio Fernández
Estrada por sus artículos, y ahora se expulsa a una alumna por ser
miembro de un grupo opositor que quiere presentar candidatos en las
elecciones del propio sistema político. Es manipulador mezclar por
tirios y troyanos visiones históricas de contextos completamente
diferentes. No es lo mismo resistirse a que la UCLV sirva para rendir
honores al guerrillero anti-castrista Porfirio Ramírez, cuyo grupo
estaba insurreccionado en alianza con un poder extranjero en su lucha
armada y terrorista contra el gobierno de su país y matando maestros,
que usar el discurso revolucionario para acallar opiniones pacíficas sin
vínculo conocido con las políticas norteamericanas de cambio de régimen.
La defensa de la Revolución —como la quieran entender los que la
arguyen— no puede ser más importante que el respeto a derechos humanos
que son inalienables estándares internacionales. Allí terminan los
intereses de Cuba, los martianos, y empiezan los de aquellos que
pretenden proteger su arrogancia y pretensión de superioridad con
prácticas totalitarias. Para defender eso tendrán frases de Lenin, pero
no de José Martí. "Ser cultos para ser libres" dijo el más grande de
todos los cubanos, que pidió de todos sus compatriotas un culto a la
dignidad plena de todos, de la tuya, de la mía, de la de aquel o aquella
que tiene un pensamiento diferente.
Source: A propósito de la expulsión de una estudiante de la Universidad
Central de Las Villas - Artículos - Opinión - Cuba Encuentro -
http://www.cubaencuentro.com/opinion/articulos/a-proposito-de-la-expulsion-de-una-estudiante-de-la-universidad-central-de-las-villas-329153 Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 7 April 2017 – A shout disturbed
the morning's tranquility. "Avocaaaaaaado!" shouted the roving salesman
as he toured the streets of Central Havana. Considered the "green gold"
of foods, this fruit could become an important source of income for the
island, due to the high level of consumption around the world.
With the diplomatic thaw between Havana and Washington, some local
farmers are hoping to export the fruit to the United States. In 2015,
Americans consumed about 907,000 tonnes (metric tons) of avocadoes,
twice as much as the year before.
And the phenomenon is not limited to the United States. At the
international level the fruit is gaining ground; in 2013, 4.7 million
tonnes of avocadoes were harvested, according to the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than twice as much as two
decades earlier. Mexico leads the market with 80% of world production,
and in the Caribbean our neighbor the Dominican Republic harvests about
290,000 tonnes a year.
Last December, scientists from the University of Cordoba (Spain)
revealed the very high caloric value of the fruit's pit, saying that it
has "optimal qualities as a source of thermal energy comparable to other
currently marketed biofuels." The pit contains an average calorific
value of 19,145 megajoules per kilogram.
In Cuba, the fruit is destined for domestic and tourist consumption, but
there is no industry for processing or extraction of the oil, much
appreciated in gastronomy and cosmetics. The authorities are currently
seeking investors to open a pilot plant for these purposes, industry
sources told 14ymedio.
In Cuba, the Antillean avocado variety is crossbred with its Guatemalan
relative and although the result is large fruit with consistent mass,
specialists say that it has low oil content compared to other varieties.
Private farmers distribute their crops among the markets that operate
based on supply and demand and the individually-operated businesses that
have flourished in the country in recent years. In this network the
value of the product has experienced an upward trend in recent years.
The increase in tourism has influenced the shortages of some foods, and
increased their prices, including avocados. "It's in high demand and
when it's in season it is one of the most requested dishes, especially
by foreigners," José Miguel, a waiter in a private restaurant in
Santiago de las Vegas, commented to this newspaper.
The self-employed worker says that "it is one of the products whose
price has risen most steeply in recent years." Last summer the street
price of the largest avocados neared 20 Cuban pesos each (nearly one
dollar US), the daily salary of a professional. "You can't get one for
five pesos any more even if you go directly to the fields."
The state markets sell avocados by the pound, at a price that does not
exceed 5 Cuban pesos (CUP), but as a rule they are small and unripe. "If
you go out in the morning looking for one to eat at lunch time, you have
to buy it from a pushcart vender or from a supply and demand market,"
José Miguel emphasizes.
The climate has also contributed to the rise in prices. Last year was
not a good year for avocado production on the island. Last September,
the agronomist Emilio Farrés Armenteros, director of the Fruit Trees
Division of the Agricola Business Group, told the official press that
the climatic conditions were damaging the harvest.
With the country experiencing the most intense drought of the last half
century, the rains did not arrive in time for the flowering of the
trees. A situation exacerbated by the exhaustion of the nutrients in the
soil due to the abundant production of 2015, which reached 120,000
tonnes. At the end of 2016, the avocado harvest totaled a much lower
Nancy and her husband are long-time avocado growers. In the area of
Jagüey Grande they have a plot where they harvest three varieties of the
fruit: Catalina, Wilson and Julio. The latter gives them more benefit
because it has an early harvest and the trees are smaller in size than
the others. However, both agree that "in the matter of taste, there is
nothing to compare to the Catalina avocado."
Farmers calculate that in a good year the harvest from each tree can
bring in 3,000 to 5,000 CUP depending on the fruit produced. "We
directly supply several restaurants and cafes in the area," says Nancy.
Although there are also "many wholesale buyers who take the fruit to
sell in markets in Havana."
The family aspires to be able to market their product beyond the
national borders. They believe that exporting part of their crop would
give them "greater profits and the possibility of investing in the
farm." They dream of earning the necessary resources for "a tractor and
a new water turbine."
However, the thaw with the United States is not enough to get Cuban
avocados on American tables. In the middle of last year Barack Obama
relaxed the regulations for the island's coffee growers who sold their
product to the US, and the official response from Cuba was not long in
A declaration signed by farm leaders in Santiago de Cuba joined the top
management of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP),
controlled by officialdom, in rejecting the measures implemented by the
White House. Since then, no local producer has sold a single coffee bean
to potential US customers.
Nevertheless, and although exporting is still an illusion, having an
avocado tree guarantees the economic sustenance of many families on the
island. Land with an orchard of fertile trees shoots up in price on the
classified ad sites, almost like those that contain a well or a house
with ceiling tiles.
Some owners of avocado trees have chosen to sell a full year's crop. "I
have an arrangement with a neighbor who paid me 2,000 CUP for all the
avocados in the orchard," says Tomas Garcia, a resident of Calabazar
south of the capital.
Retired from the Ministry of Construction, the man supplements his
monthly pension of less than 20 Cuban convertible pesos (roughly $20 US)
with the sale of the tasty fruits from his patio. "One day my
mother-in-law threw a seed in the trash in a corner, and then we
realized that bush had sprouted." Garcia replanted the small plant in a
better place and, without knowing it, he made "the best investment in my
life," he acknowledges now.
Although he has never considered exporting his small crop, the pensioner
believes that "if something is good in this country, it is avocados that
need little care and can be planted in any yard." He says that in
addition to eating them from time to time he uses them to "give a shine
to my hair" and his wife uses it as an anti-wrinkle mask.
"If I don't have much to eat, I only have to cut an avocado in half and
now I have a rich person's meal instead of a poor person's," he said.
Source: Green Gold From Cuba's Fields – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/green-gold-from-cubas-fields/ Continue reading
Alex Ruppenthal | March 13, 2017 4:55 pm
Relaxing trade barriers between the U.S. and Cuba could unlock millions
of dollars in exports for Illinois agriculture producers, estimates
show, and industry advocates are optimistic such a change is coming.
In January, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas introduced a resolution
called the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, which would allow U.S.
agricultural exporters to extend credit to Cuban buyers. Currently, U.S.
companies are prohibited from offering credit to Cuban entities under
the U.S. embargo, which has been in effect since 1960.
In 2000, Congress passed the Trade Sanction Reform and Export
Enhancement Act, opening trade of certain agricultural commodities and
medicinal products. The U.S. has since authorized $4.5 billion in sales
of agricultural goods to Cuba, according to U.S. Census Bureau Foreign
Trade Reports, with a significant portion from Illinois.
According to the Illinois Soybean Growers, at least 20 percent of Cuba's
soy and corn imports from the U.S. come from Illinois. At the peak of
U.S. corn and soy exports to Cuba in 2008, ISG estimates Illinois
provided $66 million in corn and soy exports to the Caribbean island.
"I look at Illinois as one of those states that could be a driver in
Cuba's economy," said Paul Johnson, executive director of the Illinois
Cuba Working Group, which formed in 2013 at the request of the Illinois
General Assembly to strengthen trade relations with Cuba.
On Monday, members of the Illinois Corn Growers Association – which is
part of the working group – were scheduled to meet with officials at the
Cuban Embassy in Washington to discuss trade opportunities.
According to the Illinois Farm Bureau, also part of the working group,
Illinois ranks sixth among U.S. states for lost opportunities to its
agriculture sector because of the U.S. embargo with Cuba.
The proposed legislation comes at an important time for the agriculture
industry. U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell to $148.9 million in
2015, the lowest since 2002, according to ISG. Industry advocates say
trade is held back by a U.S. rule requiring Cuba to pay cash in advance
of any deals.
Previously proposed legislation to expand U.S.-Cuba trade has stalled,
in part because of opposition from members of Florida's Congressional
delegation. Many of the Cuban exiles who moved to South Florida after
Fidel Castro's rise to power remain opposed to normalizing relations
with their home country.
But Johnson said he is optimistic about the newly introduced bill.
"It's fairly narrow. It just focuses on credit/finance," Johnson said.
"I think it's got a good shot of passing."
Four U.S. representatives from Illinois have signed on as cosponsors of
the bill: Robin Kelly (D-2nd District) of Matteson, Rodney Davis (R-13th
District) of Taylorville, Cheri Bustos (D-17th District) of East Moline
and Darin LaHood (R-18th District) of Dunlap.
If trade regulations are relaxed, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba
could exceed $1 billion annually, according to an estimation provided by
Texas A&M University economist Parr Rosson to the U.S. Senate in 2015.
Ultimately, industry advocates hope Congress will end the U.S. embargo
with Cuba, which they say makes it difficult for U.S. agricultural
exporters to compete with competitors in South America and other regions.
The embargo also does not allow U.S. companies to bring shipments back
from Cuba, driving up their costs.
"We've been to Cuba 10 times," said ISG President Daryl Cates in a press
release last year. "We've listened to Cuban officials and hosted them in
Illinois. We believe that the embargo needs to end. We believe that the
improvement of economic trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba is the
foundation for future success between the two countries.
"We believe that the development of the Cuban economy is as beneficial
to Cuba as it is the U.S. and our Illinois soybean farmers," Cates said.
In 1999, Illinois became the first state to have a sitting governor lead
a delegation to Cuba since the country's 1959 revolution.
The state then established the Illinois Cuba Working Group in 2013 to
work toward a number of goals, including expanding the list of exports
licensed for sale to Cuba, permitting food companies to negotiate trade
terms with Cuba and opening a trade office in Cuba to facilitate market
entry and exchanges between the two countries.
"I think we're getting closer," Johnson said about the office. "I'm
confident that we're going to have it someday."
Johnson said action on the newly proposed bill could come as soon as April.
"I think this [legislation] does get us closer to our goal of ending the
embargo," he said. "What [Cuba has] been asking for all along is
normalized relations. They want to be treated like any other trading
Follow Alex Ruppenthal on Twitter: @arupp
Source: Illinois Eyes Expanded Trade With Cuba | Chicago Tonight | WTTW
http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/03/13/illinois-eyes-expanded-trade-cuba Continue reading
Las autoridades consideran la presencia de la especie invasora y
predadora como potencialmente nociva
Sábado, febrero 18, 2017 | Agencias
RIO DE JANEIRO.- Una especie de lagarto de origen cubano y endémico de
las Antillas fue identificado en algunos municipios del litoral del
estado brasileño de Sao Paulo, en una invasión atribuida al comercio
marítimo y que puede amenazar el equilibrio ecológico en esa región del
sureste de Brasil.
Se trata del Anolis porcatus, una lagartija verde de hasta 20
centímetros que se alimenta de pequeños insectos y que, pese a su origen
antillano, también ha sido denunciado como un invasor en el estado de
Florida (Estados Unidos).
La presencia de la especie invasora y predadora en Brasil es considerada
como potencialmente nociva a la fauna brasileña debido a que compite por
la misma comida con las especies locales.
La descripción del invasor, que inicialmente se pensó que era una nueva
especie, fue publicada en la última edición de la revista científica
South American Journal of Herpetology, informó hoy la Fundación de Apoyo
a la Investigación en el Estado de Sao Paulo (Fapesp), entidad que ayudó
a financiar el estudio.
La lagartija comenzó a despertar curiosidad en Brasil en agosto de 2015
cuando el biólogo Ricardo Samelo, entonces estudiante de la Universidad
Federal de Sao Paulo, publicó en la página de un grupo de investigadores
en Facebook fotografías del ejemplar que había visto en Santos, la mayor
ciudad del litoral de Sao Paulo.
Al reparar que era una especie totalmente diferente a las de la fauna
brasileña, el herpetólogo brasileño Ivan Prates, investigador de la City
University of New York (CUNY), entró en contacto con Samelo para
organizar una visita a la región en que había visto el animal e intentar
Los dos biólogos encontraron un gran número de ejemplares de la especie
en Praia Grande (Santos).
"Resolvimos preguntar a las personas de la vecindad si conocían aquellas
lagartijas y todos los conocían muy bien. Lo mismo que en las playas de
Guarujá y Sao Vicente, municipios vecinos y en donde también son
abundantes. Hallamos machos, hembras y crías, lo que es una señal de que
la especie invasora se está reproduciendo y muy bien establecida en el
litoral de Sao Paulo", relató Prates.
El estudio con muestras genéticas de los ejemplares recogidos que Prates
realizó en Nueva York permitió descubrir que no se trataba de una nueva
especie sino del cubano invasor.
Los investigadores consideran que en el caso de Florida la invasión
puede ser atribuida a algunos animales que llegaron flotando sobre
restos de troncos u hojas de palmeras, lo que no se aplica al litoral de
Sao Paulo, ubicado a 6.100 kilómetros de Cuba.
"Nuestra hipótesis más fuerte es la vía marítima. Pueden haber llegado
en contenedores o en la carga de navíos mercantes. Todos los lugares en
donde encontramos las comunidades de esa lagartija están cercanos a
depósitos de contenedores del puerto de Santos", asegura.
Source: Detectan en Brasil invasión de una especie de lagarto cubano |
https://www.cubanet.org/mas-noticias/detectan-en-brasil-invasion-de-una-especie-de-lagarto-cubano/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 16 February 2017 — David Mauri
Cardoso, a 24-year-old from Cienfuegos, dreamt of being lawyer but could
not successfully pass a test of dishonesty. In appearance it was a test
of Spanish, but what was being evaluated was his capacity to fake it.
Along with 30 other young people, who had not been admitted to higher
education through the standard entrance exams, David was part of an
experiment where workers were enrolled in the first year of Law School
at the Carlos Rafael Rodriguez University in Cienfuegos and then
assessed on their knowledge of Math, History and Spanish.
The exams were conducted in January and David was one of twenty students
who had made it to the end of the previous stage. He finished high
school in 2011, and after several failed attempts to enter the
university, this seemed to be his last chance.
Everything seemed to be fine until the first week of February, when they
summoned him to a Disciplinary Council. His "incorrectness" is described
in the Teaching Regulation of Higher Education, where it specifies "it
is a very serious error to say or do anything against the Revolutionary
Process." The punishment established for this behavior is expulsion from
the higher education system in any program throughout the country. On
Friday, 10 February, the resolution imposing this punishment was signed.
What, in fact, did David do?
The Spanish test consisted of writing an interpretation of a fragment of
the lyrics from the song "Riding with Fidel," which flooded the airwaves
after the death of the former Cuban president at the end of November 2016.
David tells 14ymedio how he reacted when he read Question No. 5, which
inquired about what he had felt when he honored the ashes of the
historic leader of the Revolution. "I realized I was not in a position
to fully respond, because that wasn't the case for me. The question was
based on an erroneous supposition, because I had not participated in the
acts of homage to Fidel Castro, nor did I personally honor him in a
Before the exam, he had prepared himself to identify a simile or a
metaphor and felt capable of parsing a text to indicate subordinate or
juxtaposed sentences and to call out with precision grammatical mistakes
in any verb. But, he said, "To adjust to what they were asking me I
responded with total honestly about what this person had meant to me. I
was respectful because no one has the right to insult others. I gave my
opinion in the framework of good manners."
David recorded in his own handwriting the misery, the destruction of the
foundations of society and the injustices. He dared to use the term
"authoritarian" to define the established system in his country and at
some point, without his pulse trembling, he wrote the word "dictatorship."
"In short, I only offered my personal opinion, which is exactly what
they asked of me," he says with the simplicity of one who does not
believe he has performed a historic act.
The person in charge of grading the exam must have felt very troubled in
the face of such a demonstration of sincerity. David chose not to name
names, his Christian ethics precludes it. Nor did he mention the
identity of a Spanish-language methodologist at the provincial level who
is, at the end of the day, the person who assumed the responsibility of
lodging a complaint.
Here, the young student makes a legal argument. "This exam, more than a
private text, was a confidential document. Something between the
professor and the student that did not have to be sent on under any
And therein lies the key, because David did not make statements to
foreign television, nor did he publish an opinion piece in the
independent press, nor did he go out into the street with a poster, all
of which would have been his right.
In the sacred intimacy of the classroom, he offered his opinion, which
was what was asked of him. Without his consent, his responses were
"elevated" and analyzed under extra-academic rules.
Not a single one of David's classmates was consulted on this sanction
because according to the regulation that ordinarily requires a process
that does just that, it only applies to "regular" students in the day
Now everything is "comments in the hallway" and no one will come to his
David says he does not intend to appeal, although he explains: "I have
not resigned formally because I still have time, but I lost interest
because, when I think of appealing to the Minister of Higher Education,
I wonder who this official answers to and it makes me feel like not even
starting the process."
To the question of what he intends to do with his life now, David
jokingly replies: "What I was doing: inventing," that is figuring out
some way to get by, "like all young people do in Cuba."
Source: The Student Who Did Not Want To 'Ride With Fidel' / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Excobar – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-student-who-did-not-want-to-ride-with-fidel-14ymedio-reinaldo-excobar/ Continue reading
communities and the environment
Colorado and Cuban officials are seeking ways to promote sustainable
By BRUCE FINLEY | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Denver Post
February 14, 2017 at 6:54 pm
Colorado State University is negotiating a formal deal with Cuba for
joint exploration of how to allow profitable tourism while not
destroying communities and the natural environment.
"We can learn from our Cuban colleagues, and they can learn from us
about how to do a better job at conservation while also promoting
sustainable economic growth," said Jim Barborak, co-director of CSU's
Center for Protected Area Management, which has run courses with
participants from more than 40 countries.
"We share issues with Cuba," he said.
President Donald Trump has said he will review all agreements with Cuba.
But a memorandum of understanding between CSU and Cuba's national parks
authorities, nearly completed, would clear the way for CSU to design and
run a course in Cuba starting later this year or in 2018, CSU officials
For years, CSU has been hosting officials from Cuba and 40 other
countries for training courses in Colorado. CSU officials now are
capitalizing on the 2015 U.S. restoration of diplomatic and economic
relations with Cuba, which includes direct flights and easing of travel
restrictions for U.S. citizens.
Cuba's government has established the coastal marine Guanahacabibes
National Park and the Cienega de Zapata National Park, near the
so-called Bay of Pigs where U.S.-backed forces in 1961 attempted an
invasion to topple Cuba's nascent communist government.
Gov. John Hickenlooper recently visited Cuba to explore closer links. It
was unclear whether the CSU project was part of his talks. A spokeswoman
said Hickenlooper was not available Tuesday.
Federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration would participate, helping CSU incorporate a marine
coastal component and sharing knowledge on how best to protect marine
areas, said Bill Kiene, a NOAA marine sanctuaries specialist focused on
the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Cuba's government for years has run a controlled tourism industry
organized around beach resorts. Canadians and Europeans have accounted
for most visitors.
CSU courses in Colorado are based on field work in forests west of Fort
Collins, along rivers and in Dinosaur National Park.
Colorado has experienced unbridled growth without sufficient planning,
which degrades the environment, Barborak said. "At the same time, we're
really good at managing large numbers of visitors. We do have a lot of
experience in how to manage large flows of people to protect natural
areas and have most people walk away happy," he said.
"Here the government doesn't try to do everything, and that may be a
lesson for the Cubans."
Source: CSU forges Cuba connection: How to promote tourism without
hurting communities and the environment – The Denver Post -
http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/14/csu-cuba-tourism-environment/ Continue reading
By ROB WATERS
FEBRUARY 8, 2017
HAVANA — He knew as a child that he wanted to be a doctor, like his
father. He went to medical school, became a general surgeon and
ultimately a heart specialist. He practiced at Cuba's premier
cardiovascular hospital, performed heart transplants, and published
articles in medical journals.
For this, Roberto Mejides earned a typical doctor's salary: about $40 a
It wasn't nearly enough, even with the free housing and health care
available to Cubans, to support his extended family. So in 2014, Mejides
left them behind, moving to Ecuador to earn up to $8,000 a month working
at two clinics and performing surgeries.
It's a common story here, where waiters, cabdrivers, and tour guides can
make 10 to 20 times the government wages of doctors and nurses — thanks
to tips from tourists.
"Doctors are like slaves for our society," said Sandra, an art student
and photographer's assistant who makes more than her mother, a
physician. "It's not fair to study for so many years and be so underpaid."
Cuba is proud of its government-run health care system and its skilled
doctors. But even with a raise two years ago, the highest paid doctors
make $67 a month, while nurses top out at $40. That leaves many feeling
demoralized — and searching for ways to improve their lives.
Some enter the private economy — by renting rooms to tourists, driving
cabs, or treating private patients, quasi-legally, on the side.
Thousands of others accept two-year government assignments to work as
doctors abroad, collecting higher salaries for themselves and earning
billions for the state, which helps keep the stagnant economy afloat. In
fact, health workers are Cuba's largest source of foreign exchange.
A few doctors, like Mejides, arrange foreign employment on their own,
putting at risk their future ability to return to a government job in
the health system back home.
"It's hard to migrate and be alone," Mejides said in Spanish, during a
video phone call from Ecuador to a reporter visiting Havana in October.
"It's stressful. I am in the wrong place. I should be with my family in
my country, working and being rewarded properly."
Still, with his Ecuador earnings, he was able to buy his wife, two
daughters, and two stepdaughters a $23,000 apartment in Havana, and he
sends them $300 to $500 a month.
Renting out rooms to make ends meet
While doctors back in Cuba grumble about their low pay, they usually
find ways to make do.
Sandra's mother, Nadia, a genetics researcher, earns about as much as
she pays a cleaning woman to maintain her three-bedroom Havana
apartment. Whenever she can, she rents one of those rooms to tourists
for $40 a night, making more in two nights than she does from her
monthly earnings as a doctor. She asked that her full name not be used
to avoid any problems with the government.
The rental income allows Nadia to have a modestly comfortable life and
to be able to buy fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. But a
restaurant meal is a rare treat, and traveling abroad is impossible.
Still, she loves her work and the intellectual challenge of her research
into genetic diseases. She said many Cuban doctors are committed and
provide excellent service, in part because of the ways they have learned
to overcome shortages of equipment and technology.
"We don't have all the electronic tools, so we have to learn to do
things other ways, to diagnose just by external examination," she said,
over a dinner of fish and rum at her apartment.
She'd like to earn more money, of course, and she understands why so
many doctors, including many she knows, have chosen to leave Cuba.
"I'm not ambitious for money," she said. "I get rent from visitors, and
I get to live in Cuba. I have a nice house, and I'm happy with what I
have. But I'm not a millionaire."
Cecilia, a 60-year-old former nurse who also asked that her full name
not be used, spent 25 years working in government hospitals and clinics.
To adapt to the shortages, she learned to make inventos medicos —
medical inventions — using a chair or bench to raise the back of a
patient's bed, for example, or cutting the tip off an intravenous line
to fashion an oxygen feed to a patient's nose.
But she became disillusioned by the chronic shortages and the stress she
saw in both her patients and colleagues.
"The material scarcity is so overwhelming that it keeps people from
dedicating all the passion, love, and brain power that they should to
their patients in need," she said, sitting in a rocking chair in her
third-floor Havana apartment. "I was the one who had to face the
patients and tell them we don't have the drug that you need. It was very
common. And I didn't want to do that any more."
Doctors and nurses "have the best intentions, but they face so many
obstacles, there are so many things on their mind," she added. "The
doctor might be treating a patient but they are actually thinking: 'When
I get home, at God knows what time, what am I going to feed my kid?'"
She quit nursing in the early 2000s and later began to pursue her
passion, doing hands-on alternative medicine that combines techniques of
massage, kinesiology, magnetic therapy, and so-called floral therapy,
which uses extracts of flowers and herbs as healing agents.
Her work with private clients, who come to her apartment, is permitted
under a license for massage, the only form of healing work included on a
list of government-approved private services and businesses. Working
three days a week, she earns almost $120 a month "if all my appointments
show up," she said. "I use to make that in six months working at the
A surplus of doctors
In the years after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuba invested
heavily in education and science, training tens of thousands of doctors,
nurses, and scientists. As a result, Cuba, a country of 11.2 million
people, today has 90,000 doctors, the most per capita in the world.
About 25,000 of these doctors, along with 30,000 Cuban nurses and other
health professionals, are working in 67 countries around the world. They
earn about $8.2 billion in revenue for the government, according to a
recent article in Granma, the official paper of the Cuban Communist Party.
The bulk of the doctors, about 20,000, are in Brazil and Venezuela. Over
the last three years they provided treatment to 60 million Brazilians,
mostly the rural poor, said Cristián Morales Fuhrimann, the Pan American
Health Organization's representative in Havana.
Cuba receives about $5,000 a month per doctor from Brazil, pays each
doctor about $1,200, and banks the rest, said John Kirk, a professor of
Latin American studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who
has researched Cuba's program of medical missions. Most of the doctors'
shares are deposited in their Cuban bank accounts, requiring them to
return home to collect it.
"Cuba has too many doctors, so their main source of hard currency is to
rent out medical services," Kirk said.
Once close allies of Havana, Brazil and Venezuela have been engulfed in
political and economic crises that will cause them to reduce their use
of Cuban doctors in the coming years.
That may lead Cuba to redeploy some doctors to other parts of the world,
including the Middle East. In Qatar, an oil-rich emirate about as far
from Cuba geographically and culturally as any place in the world, the
so-called Cuban Hospital is fully staffed by 400 Cuban doctors, nurses,
Cuba's dispatch of doctors not only generates revenue, it is also an
exercise in soft power that allows the country to spread its influence
around the globe.
"It's a major contribution to the health of the world," said Morales.
"They made a big difference in fighting Ebola in Africa, in the
aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti."
Some Cuban doctors working overseas have defected to the United States,
aided by a policy launched during the administration of George W. Bush
that permitted Cuban medical personnel to go to the US with their
spouses and children. In its last weeks in office, the Obama
administration announced it was ending the program.
Since the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program began in 2006, more
than 9,000 medical professionals and their family members were approved
for admission to the US. In the past four years, the number of entrants
spiked, reaching almost 2,000 for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The Cuban government and the Pan American Health Organization protested
the policy as a form of poaching that undermined Cuba's health system
and impeded newfound cooperation between the US and Cuba. In a
statement, Obama acknowledged that the program "risks harming the Cuban
Cuban doctors are in demand internationally because they come cheap, are
well-trained, and work in a public health system that is highly
organized and well-run. In Cuba, primary care clinics are available in
every neighborhood. Specialists in cancer, immunology, genetic medicine,
and cardiovascular disease staff the hospitals. Life expectancy rates,
which two generations ago were at Third World levels, are today roughly
equal to those in the United States.
But the absence of so many doctors also provokes complaints from
patients, who say it keeps them from getting the best care. They also
grouse that they have to bring their own food and bedsheets, wait for
appointments or medications — and provide gifts to doctors to ensure
When the 61-year-old father of Concepcion, a young Cuban professional,
was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer, she used personal
connections to enable her father to see a specialist promptly.
Concepcion, who asked that her full name not be used to avoid reprisals
or damage to her professional standing, also provided daily gifts of
food, cosmetics, and sometimes cash to doctors, nurses, and technicians
while her father was hospitalized for a month in Holguin, a city in
"Doctors are used to receiving gifts," she said. "You give the gift and
the attention starts getting better. If you stop and the attention goes
down, you go back to handing out gifts. You feel sorry for the doctors
because they work really hard under bad conditions and you always feel
like they're not being rewarded."
She estimated she spent about $500 on gifts and food, an amount she said
would have doubled had he been hospitalized in pricier Havana.
Jose dos Santos, a Cuban journalist who needs regular treatment for his
diabetes, said the care he receives is excellent. Bringing gifts to
doctors "has become a habit because we know that the job doctors do
needs to be better rewarded," he said. "We don't produce oil," he added,
"but we produce talent, and it makes sense that that talent is
acknowledged and rewarded."
In December, Roberto Mejides moved again, this time to Merida, Mexico,
where he plans to work for the next four years. His income will be
roughly the same as in Ecuador, but now he's just 90 minutes by air from
Havana. He hopes to bring his family to join him in the coming months,
"My hopes have always been the same, to work honestly and to provide my
family with an adequate life," he said. Someday, he added, he wants to
return to Cuba: "It's my country, my homeland."
Rob Waters can be reached at email@example.com
Follow Rob on Twitter @robwaters001
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