By Stella Callóni
Thursday, June 25th 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Buenos Aires, June 24. Human rights organizations, family members and survivors from the military dictatorship repudiated statements made by Cuban doctor Hilda Molina and declared her persona non grata for offending the Mothers and Grandmothers of the May Plaza.
Molina, a doctor that used to belong to the Cuban Communist Party and who confronted the government when it was discovered that she received money from people for services that are given fee in Havana, recently received authorization to leave the island and make a temporary visit to Argentina. Her son, who lives here, was also accused of embezzlements against Cuba at the time. When she arrived she said she was going to be politically discreet to avoid the host country any embarrassment. When she was bombarded with interviews from the extreme right media, she forgot her commitment.
She declared to ultra-right media Perfil (Profile) that the mothers and grandmothers of the May Plaza: “suffered the persecution of a dictatorship, however they worship others, like the one in Cuba. The one in Cuba is leftist while the one they suffered belonged to the extreme right. I knew they were not going to do anything because those who worship that dictatorship like to make demons out of those who think differently.”
“If you consider the Cuban revolution a dictatorship and liken it to the Fascist and criminal dictatorship of Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, you offend all Argentineans that suffered terrorism”, says the official statement of the Argentinean human rights organizations.
Author: Leticia Martinez
August 8, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
I confess I don’t know much about electricity. Both my parents are Automatic Control Engineers and still, I was not the least bit interested in the subject. Besides realizing electricity is needed to move the world, I was never curious as to how they generate it or how much does it cost. Lately, everyday we hear about the need to save it and announcements have brought the subject to the fore.
Dozens of articles on saving or wasting kilowatts, on measures to complete energy plans, on stealing electricity, and on the work of inspectors reach my hands. But, day-to-day reality is more complex. To tighten the belt of saving up to the point of asphyxia has motivated me to write some lines. First I must declare I lift a banner of rationality. I am for saving with intelligence and after proper studies.
As one who is ready to part with something very valuable, I went to the pizza place located on one side of the Trianon Theater. I was celebrating an important date and money was not the most important issue that day, or worrying about what I would do at the end of the month. If what happened to me hadn’t been so absurd, it could move people to laughter. When I ordered two pizzas the waitress answered: “From 6 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening we don’t make pizzas because we are not allowed to turn on the oven”. My mouth fell open, not because I was ready to fill it with the desired pizza, but because behind me other customers were asking for the same thing and leaving absolutely astonished.
I remember it was a Saturday and lots of people were leaving nearby theaters. Others were beginning to enjoy the night and Linea [one of the main streets in Vedado] was full of people. In the meantime, the pizza place waitresses looked very bored leaning against the counter. They were lamenting not being able to sell pizzas. This is the time when most people come by. But, we cannot sell because now the priority is saving, one of them said with the tone of one who doesn’t believe in what she is saying.
And, if this were the only instance there would be nothing to worry about. But, one of my colleagues told me the same thing happened the other night close to the Monaco Theatre, where more than three cafeterias were closed for the same reason. It seems absurd that services are not offered because of some saving plan.
Something similar happens in convenience stores, where these days the only thing we find is an unbearable heat and the dull and sweaty faces of clerks, who are more intent on feeling cooler than on selling. How many clients simply decided no to buy anything rather than withstand such torture, and how many more bought only the most needed things to end it quickly. The pleasure of entering a store and calmly looking for whatever one wanted, or maybe even something extra, has vanished.
We might add to our prior arguments that there is also the possibility some food products might deteriorate, and that it is not very healthy to remain in closed spaces full of clients. Furthermore, if under ideal conditions sometimes clerks do not treat clients well, now it is commonplace.
Focus has been placed on the use of air conditioners, and we can understand why. But, has anyone considered that it can be very harmful to turn them off in certain places? Is it logical to turn them off in places with no windows and full of personnel and computers? Has anyone calculated how many computers could break down because of the heat? And, could it be that turning conditioners on and off is also bad for them? How much are we really saving if later we have to invest to buy new ones?
Yes, I believe that we should save, more and more. But, we cannot grow crazy. Measures cannot be the same everywhere. We have to save in an orderly fashion.
Sometimes it is easier to get to the goal through the shortest road, or as the story goes “to throw away the sofa”. Instead, we have to analyze and study each measure to be taken.
August 20, 2009
Author: MIGUEL FEBLES HERNÁNDEZ
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
From the cold and faraway Canadian city of Quebec arrive every year the warm solidarity and the sympathy of hundreds of citizens who turn a deaf ear to all anti-Cuban campaigns to travel to our land and get to know it through its people.
Colette Lavergne: “Every visit to Cuba makes us more confirmed in our conviction to fight for a better world”
So was the case of Colette Lavergne, a Quebecois through and through who found out in 1992 that the Cubans were something more than just a hospitable, party-loving people.
“I didn’t want to come. There’s so much misinformation and negative promotion about Cuba in my country, and they vilify and discredit the Revolution and its achievements so much that I expected to find here a sad, downhearted, oppressed people…
“It was quite the opposite, however: I found a happy, dignified and resolved people who defend what belongs to them. They have a country where they live with their head held high and not on bended knee. Since then I fell hopelessly in love with the Cubans.”
Two years later, when the special period had reached crisis point, Colette took her first steps as an activist for solidarity and friendship between Quebec and Cuba.
“I remember my first experience at the Cándido González High School in the city of Matanzas. Ten children had come with my daughter, who was then taking part in an international education program, and a wonderful unity and understanding grew among all those boys and girls.”
Their visit was such a success that in the following year reality went beyond all expectations:
“We organized a preparatory meeting for the following trip and over 300 people turned out who were eager to know Cuba. We had no choice but to rent a plane that we jam-packed with 160 Quebecois. That time we went to Consolación del Sur, in Pinar del Río province.”
Quebec’s solidarity has been steadily mounting ever since by means of various projects to become familiar with life in Cuba, not as simple visitors but through coexistence, involvement and mutual knowledge.
From family to family
Never did the little Guillaume Fournier ever imagine that Fidel and he had the same birthday, let alone that he would once celebrate his harvesting sweet potato, a root vegetable he’d never seen before to boot.
He came with his mom Manon, his sister Annie-Kim, and rest of the Quebec Solidarity Brigade members who these days are visiting Camagüey, since last year the host province for the so-called Family Camp program.
“This project –says Colette, leader of the solidarity organization ARO-International Cooperation– aims at the exchange between families. That’s why we have children with their parents and even a grandma now and then.
“Working in the fields like we’re doing now has been an unforgettable experience and a singular way to bring Cubans, Quebecois and foreign students who live here together in solidarity.”
Alain Menard, a post-office worker who brought his daughter Sabrina so she could see what he felt in five previous trips to Cuba, agrees with Colette:
“This is a country of simple, outgoing, nice people. Every time I come I return to Canada full of optimism and confidence that we can live in a peaceful world where human beings can be brothers and sisters.”
Since 1994, around 5,000 Quebecois have come to Cuba as part of the programs set in motion by Colette Lavergne, a woman who put aside one of her greatest passions –Medical Science– to devote herself body and soul to the work of solidarity with Cuba and its people.
Author: Jose A. de la Osa
June 28, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Depression, an emotional disorder which is significantly growing in the world, was included in the scientific agenda of the 8th International Symposium on Biological Aspects of Mental Disorder celebrated in this capital with the participation of delegates from ten different countries.
Professor Ana Sarracent, chairperson of this event, told Granma that depression is caused by biological, psychological and social factors. Nowadays it represents 50% of all psychiatric consultations in a great number of countries.
Its medical and social importance is due to the fact that this disorder is the cause of suicides and suicide attempts at all ages.
During the Symposium Dr. Sarracent presided the session dedicated to “Suicide: beyond violence” because this behavior is the most frequent complication of this disorder.
This specialist, presently at the Calixto Garcia University Hospital of Havana, cautions that a depressed mood persisting during weeks, loss of interest in all activities, personality changes, crying, insomnia, withdrawal, excessive helplessness or guilt, lack of attention or appetite, and recurring death thoughts are all symptoms that require medical attention.
The symposium agenda also included sleep and eating disorders; sexual dysfunction; violence, pregnancy and breastfeeding; genetic and mental disorders and other non-pharmacological biological therapies like floral and bio-energetic therapies.
By Graziella Pogolotti
May 3, 2017
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The image of the tourist was, at first, that of a traveler who, individually, undertook an adventure in search of new horizons to gain knowledge. Thus, exotic visitors began to show up in Cuba, who very often left testimony of their experience through letters, stories or books that proposed more ambitious insights.
The perspective of others gave us a vision of our singularity in the multiple planes that natural and human landscapes offer. For those persons who come from other lands, the richness of a prodigal natural universe –unaffected by the harsh rigors of winter– is striking.
The chromatic luxury of the environment made an impact at first sight. The true singularity was expressed in the human face of a cordial country, with open doors, where the refinement of customs was accompanied by the abandonment of the rigid formalism prevailing in other lands. The deepest bond was established in the human plane and there was also the first-hand approach to a culture forged under different circumstances. Thus, the characteristics of “being Cuban” were beginning to be defined.
Later on, in the twentieth century, workers’ demands gave the middle classes the right to vacation time. Inexpensive because of geographical proximity, access to a tourist trip was within reach of Americans encouraged by the stimulus of the warm climate and the exoticism of a certain folklore trivialized by the trinket trade.
In the winter months, the high season prevailed. It offered an enjoyable warm weather and coincided with the Havana carnival. In Parque Central, a maracas player stood at the door of a store that offered cheap musical instruments, along with belts, purses, and other articles made of genuine crocodile leather.
The flourishing business imposed its perverse features. When Prohibition was established in the United States, Havana was a space open to free consumption of alcohol. Bars multiplied and a malicious substrate became linked to the contraband privileged by the vicinity between the coasts of the two countries.
With its well-known ability to forge mentalities, neo-liberal globalization has appropriated large-scale tourism, associated with what is called with apparent innocence –eternal trap of words–: the leisure industry.
Its extreme expression is manifested in the cruises. In these, instead of observing the new, travelers contemplate each other in a coexistence that consumes most of the available time. In a tour of preset destinations, they pass through some paradigmatic sites and lunge into the search for small souvenirs, trophies to give to friends, once back home. The human landscape and the power of culture have disappeared from the picture. They will get to know, if at all, a masquerade willing to show –with roaring stridency– the expected exotic component.
Before becoming the grave of desperate emigrants, the Mediterranean’s natural environment suffered the predatory effects of tourism. There, too, on a short excursion, the testimonies of one of the original sources of so-called Western culture moved to the background
The Caribbean is the counterpart of that mare nostrum. We preserve virginal areas, but our being an island makes us extremely vulnerable. We have beautiful landscapes, but we lack abundant water resources to quench the thirst of a temporary overpopulation and maintain perfect lawns for golf courses.
In the cultural field, the dangers are even greater. While the Mediterranean tradition still evokes the glories of a dilapidated Parthenon and the infinite management of the Egyptian pyramids, –all victims of neo-colonial perspectives– our culture does not enjoy similar recognition.
Exoticism always maintains a component of underestimation, and our inhabitants have psychologically suffered from this conditioning. Expansive in the last half century, the leisure industry was already emerging, when “the Commander arrived and ordered it to stop.” [a refernence to the lyrics of a song, by Carlos Puebla, referering to Fidel putting an end to capitalist evils].
The hotels that multiplied in Havana were fronts for gambling halls, meeting points for high class prostitution, and business centers of an expanding mafia.
At that time, a master plan for the development of Havana was designed which articulated interests of a diverse nature. Speculation based on the price of the land oriented the growth of the city towards the east, where investments were made with a view to the creation of new neighborhoods.
The government would pay the expenses of infrastructure for investments with an absolute guarantee of profitability. New management centers were being directed there.
The historic city would be at the expense of the underworld. Since the space provided for that predatory universe was insufficient, a floating island would be built in front of the Malecon, for the free flow of large-scale gambling dens. The landscape value of the Malecón –complemented by the gentle hills that shape the profile of the city towards its geographical center, the present-day Plaza de la Revolución– did not matter. The capital of the country, the historical and cultural jewel in our crown, would be hopelessly dismembered.
For a country like ours, lacking in great mining wealth, tourism is a source of income of indisputable importance. The challenge is to devise strategies that enhance the possibilities of development in favor of the nation, culturally and humanly, because in the virtues of our people lies the soul of the nation.
The emergent demand for a large-scale project focused on the advantages of the availability of sun and beaches must be accompanied by the analysis of the risks involved, with the purpose of elaborating the indispensable counterparts. It is important to discard the notion of the leisure industry and to take into account that the fashion of beach enjoyment may be temporary.
Our true strength lies in our status as a large island, endowed with a multitude of possible options: many of them based on a cultural and historical tradition.
There is also the possibility of proposing designs aimed at valuing good living, latent in our large and small cities, in the varied landscape environment, and in the survival of little-explored corners made to the measure of the human being. To elaborate these projects, it would be advisable to complement the geographic and geological maps with a cultural map illuminated by a deep inward look.
By Fernando Ravsberg, BBC Mundo
September 11, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Universities have computer rooms and some have internet access.
Cuban authorities approved legal internet use for all citizens, given in a resolution signed by Commandante of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés, Computer Science and Communications Minister.
This resolution implies a change in government policy, which up to now had limited the net to social use, allowing access only to institutions, companies, and to a small group of little more than 100.000 people, mainly intellectuals and scientists.
For some weeks Cubans had been authorized access to “Cybercafés” in hotels, where they can connect to the internet, using the wireless system or WIFI, from their own computers or from those provided by the hotel.
However, it was in fact a measure that could change without notice. On the other hand, a ministerial resolution has legal force; it was even published in the Official Gazette of Cuba.
It is the end of the State’s information monopoly.
In post offices
Some post offices will have internet navigating rooms.
The Minister resolved “authorizing the Cuban Post Office Company, as Access to Internet Service Supplier for the Public. It will provide this service to all people inside our national territory using its internet areas.”
They will use post offices to install computers so that any Cuban can navigate the net. Up to now a similar structure existed, but it only gave access to an intranet, with websites selected by the government.
Brenda and Daimi, workers of a post office in Vedado, in Havana, confirmed to BBC World that 3 days ago they closed to create an internet room. However, it was reopened without finishing the installation.
Apparently, not all post offices will be used during the first phase, workers of the Computer Science’s Ministry to BBC Mundo workers. “One will be selected by municipality” and this service can be enlarged as necessary.
During this last decade, computer classes have been taught throughout the entire country.
With this measure, the prohibition is eliminated. But, the government continues with its proposal of “social use” of the Internet, meaning it won’t be possible to access the net from home. This is because the country doesn’t have enough bandwidth for this.
According to the Cuban authorities, the United States has prevented internet companies from negotiating a larger internet access with Cuba. What’s more, all communications are more expensive since they have to be made via satellite because Washington doesn’t allow the use of the submarine cable.
Shortly all this could change. American President, Barack Obama, authorized telecommunications companies to negotiate with Havana and next year the installation of a telephone cable between Cuba and Venezuela will be finished.
These new technological possibilities could reduce service prices, which today are extremely high. A one hour card in a hotel costs US$7 and full access from homes costs US$150 a month.
End of the monopoly
In this post office, work began but they wasn’t finished.
For decades, the Cuban government maintained an information monopoly. However, in the last years, the propagation of satellite antennas and the sale of internet accesses, both of them illegal yet increasingly extended have diminished it.
Regarding internet access, there are tens of thousands of illegal accounts, directly negotiated between server workers and clients. They cost around US $50 a month and give full access. It’s the same service legal subscribers receive.
Nobody can really know how many people have access to the net. But, it could be more than a million if we count those with authorized accounts, those with illegal ones and those who navigate – without permission – using institution accounts.
Anyway, the Cuban government maintains filters to prevent access to the most radical anti-Castro pages, while allowing access to the whole world press, including the biggest Cuban American newspaper in Miami.
By Mauricio Vicent
Havana – July 19, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Last New Year’s Eve, Spanish priests Isidro Hoyos, Mariano Arroyo and Eduardo de la Fuente had dinner together in the San Martin de Porres parish, in the workers’ neighborhood of Alamar, east of the Cuban capital. “A simple meal: vegetable soup, some chicken, nougat, and Spanish cider to celebrate”, remembers Isidro. Sharing a dinner on New Year’s Eve, he explains, “had become a tradition… “.
The three priests had been friends for years and the three were in Havana because of their religious vocation, but it was Mariano who put the idea of coming to Cuba in their heads. Mariano Arroyo Merino was the first one to arrive on January 19, 1997. Then Isidro Hoyos, in December 2000. Both were from Cantabria and knew each other since they were young.
Mariano had been a missionary in Chile. For 20 years he lived in that country, always in contact with the poorest [of the people]. Hoyos even became a lawyer for the Workers’ Commissions. He was a worker and a committed priest, for that reason when he arrived in Cuba he found it proper to take charge of the small parish of Alamar, a neighborhood built by the revolution in the ‘70s as the home of the New Man, and therefore without a church.
Eduardo de la Fuente began traveling to the island to substitute for Mariano and Isidro when they left on vacation. He did this for seven or eight years, until in 2006 he decided to stay permanently.
Eduardo, 61 years old, had a mysterious and violent death on February 13. He was found on a highway on the outskirts of Havana, stabbed and strangled. It caused a shock wave in the ecclesiastical world and it especially affected Mariano, who was also murdered later.
Mariano Arroyo was a Philosophy and Theology major from the Comillas Papal University, and a philosophy and literature graduate of the University of Madrid. He was not only a wise man; he was also “a humble, good and venturesome person”, according to those who knew him. “Father Mariano was very dear to us here, nobody had any grudge against him”, said one of the neighbors, who laments his death today in Regla, a neighborhood of Havana.
First, he was a parish priest at the Our Lady of Pilar church in the municipality of Cerro, from which he also assisted the congregation of Alamar. On occasions he made 20 kilometer trips there by bicycle and celebrated mass at people’s homes. In December 2004, Mariano took charge of the parsonage and the parish of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Regla, on the other side of the Havana bay. He immediately stood out.
Regla is a parish with special characteristics because its Virgin is one of the most worshiped among the Afro-Cuban cults. The Virgin of Regla symbolizes the goddess Yemayá in these cults, ruler of the waters and the sea, the fundamental source of life. Mariano didn’t repudiate these beliefs, but rather he studied them thoroughly and tried to understand them. Many bishops invited him to their dioceses to give lectures on this subject. “Mariano was very learned and very understanding and he was valued more and more in the Cuban Church”, Isidro affirms.
On the dawn of last July 13th, exactly five months after the murder of Eduardo de la Fuente, somebody entered the parochial house where Mariano lived in Regla. Before dawn, a neighbor saw smoke coming out of the priest’s room and called for help. The one who entered to help him found the priest handcuffed, gagged, and with burns in the soles of his feet and hands, hit on the head and knifed.
The crime, or rather, the crimes against two priests in such a short space of time and on the same day of the month February 13 and July 13 , the fact that they were friends and that both were victims of violent attacks, generated numerous rumors. Mainly because in Cuba there is no crime chronicle and news is spread from mouth to ear. Some thought that the two crimes could be connected.
Isidro Hoyos himself admitted, shortly after hearing of Arroyo’s death, that he was afraid. “I am not superstitious, but yesterday was exactly five months after Eduardo’s death, and it seems the procedure is the same: torture, savagery… “.
And, he added, still excited: “The first one, the second… what is behind this? Who are they? What are they looking for? This is something the people in charge of the investigations need to clarify. Are they some kind of mafia? I don’t know “. But, he warned himself: “There are not two, without three.”
The following day in Spain, Agustín Arroyo, brother of the murdered priest, stated that “to steal it is not necessary to kill”. And, he suggested other possible causes: “In Cuba, priests are a nuisance. My brother was very much loved in the community, he had influence over the people and maybe that caused a certain mistrust.”
The Church had to take a stand on this and Cardinal Jaime Ortega himself discarded such arguments last Friday in the homily he gave during the Exequial Mass for Father Mariano Arroyo, denying any “anti-religious or anti-Spanish significance.”
In truth, it was the mystery and the secrecy surrounding the investigation of the first death, that of Eduardo de la Fuente, which fueled speculation. Neither the Church nor Spanish authorities revealed the results of the police investigation, even though they had conclusions, detainees and confessed perpetrators.
If truth be told, Father de la Fuente died at the hands of another man who was his significant other, and to whom the priest had passed himself off as a foreign CEO. This is why, in the Friday homily, the cardinal said that in his case, “the criminals ignored that they had killed a priest”. Police sources informed the Church and the [Spanish] Embassy of what had happened. They also informed them that the perpetrator and his accomplices had been captured and that because it was such a delicate matter they had treated it with the utmost discretion.
Priest Mariano Arroyo’s death was absolutely different. The motive of the crime was robbery, something more and more frequent on the island. The safe that Arroyo had in the house, which apparently had things of little value, was found open. Sources at the Church indicated that the murderer, already in custody, was the guardian of the parish, who acted in complicity with others.
In the homily in memory of Mariano Arroyo, Cardinal Jaime Ortega remembered the priest’s words explaining why he remained in the country: “The Cuban people have a warmth, a sympathy toward the Church and toward the priest in his search for God that, although they don’t know almost anything of religion, shows an interest and an avidity that is enthusiastic”. On Friday, people filled the cathedral of Havana and said goodbye to Mariano Arroyo with tears in their eyes and songs of love.
[At noon yesterday the remains of Arroyo arrived at the Madrid airport. The funeral one will take place this afternoon at Cabezón de la Sal (Cantabria)].
Author: Pastor Batista Valdes
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
LAS TUNAS. – If everybody knew that for each peso of salary that a company pays a worker, it has to pay the wtate 25 cents tax for the use of the work force (besides the 12,5 cents for social security) maybe more people would be more conscious of the need to use every minute of their labor day correctly.
BESIDES AIMING AT TRIBUTARY DISCIPLINE, THIS TAX SHOULD ENDOURAGE A MORE EFFICIENT USE OF THE WORK FORCE.
But, for many years there has been little knowledge of ta law and an absence of a tax culture. This is true not only for the general population but also of managers of productive and service companies; so much so that many people ask themselves, taxes? What is that?
Specialists from the provincial branch of the Finances and Prices Ministry and from the National Office of Tributary Administration (ONAT) explain that this obligation, which is instituted not only in Cuba, applies to all natural and juridical persons, Cuban or foreign, that have employees, and is calculated from the wages, salaries, bonuses and other payments given to those workers (Law No. 73 of the tributary system, 4-8-1994, chapter X).
Modifications introduced in 2006 to Resolution 240/2002 included budget units in the list of tax payers (they had been excluded until then). Credit and Service Cooperatives (CCS) and state agricultural units were temporarily excluded if the personnel they hire are working directly in agricultural production or in woodlands.
Stated in these terms, there should be no problems in its enforcement. On the other hand, reality doesn’t always live up to expectations.
Audits carried out in the county last year by ONAT supervisors revealed irregularities amounting to 2,170,400 pesos, for the most part concentrated on 12 entities of the sugar industry, 23 entities subordinated to local government and ten to the agriculture ministry. From January to May (2009) irregularities amounted to more than 900 000 pesos.
One wonders: If those audits reviewed only part of the possible universe, how much money is not being paid in the territory and what are the consequences for national economy? Possibly, nobody can say.
WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?
Supervisor Pedro Quesada thinks one thing is clear: if the tax is not paid the law stipulates a fine. But, where will the money come from to pay that fine?
The budget does not include these types of expenses, therefore the situation is “solved” by diminishing the entity’s efficiency or its budget, and this causes serious damage to our country.
“We lack culture – says Milaida Aerie, sub-director of Finances and Prices -, maybe we need more knowledge, more popularization, and more seminars. But, we also need to be stricter. If whoever is responsible for the irregularity had to pay the fine from his/her own pocket, the situation would be different. But in the end it is Liborio (the State) who pays for the broken china.”
Not all managers act like the one in the Milk Basin Company.
Fe Esperanza Álvarez, of that company says, “When we finish calculating the payrolls, we calculate the tax, prepare it quickly and deposit it in the Bank. This happens month after month. I won’t deny that at some point we had difficulties with some of our units, but they are already solved. This year we only have two CCS and a Cooperative of Agricultural Production (CPA) in trouble, not for unpaid taxes, but for old debts.”
A timely word can solve future problems. “We are not inflexible – said Velia Proll Gamboa, ONAT sub-director in the municipality -; if a taxpayer is in a difficult situation and requests a postponement, we study the case, verify with the bank, see the bank statements and if the conditions are justified, authorize the postponement.”
In fact, entities like those of the agriculture (CCS, CPA, Basic Units of Cooperative Production) have received credit and special treatment since 2005, because of the havoc caused by many years of drought (first) and then the lashing of hurricanes later. This doesn’t mean that they have been relieved from responsibilities or obligations with the revenue.
What is unacceptable is that, due to negligence, the taxes go unpaid or units are late in making bank deposits. For example, if the deposit the CCS have to make are late, this is not the responsibility of those who work directly in the fields, but of those who are part of the managing board. Although here, this is not a serious problem, it can have repercussions in other territories.
Many, as Alberto González, of the provincial delegation of the agricultural ministry, recognize that the information and conferences the Tributary Administration Office gives to the economic personnel [of the units] is very valuable. They also value the installation of the program Sentry, designed to remind personnel that the tax needs to be paid; several days before the due date a reminder pops up every time the computer is activated.
Regrettably, some do not value these alternatives, others wait until they are ‘caught napping’” and there are still others who “pull faces” if the press points them out for not paying or for being morose. But, who “pulls faces” for the millions of pesos that don’t come in, for the loss it represents for the nation and all its inhabitants?
One needs to ponder about this, especially when a company is about to violate its tributary obligations, or when managers decide to hire more workers that will increase the work force tax, without having efficiently used the capabilities of those who have conformed its payroll until that instant.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
25 April 2017 / UNESCO Havana / Culture Portal for Latin America and the Caribbean
Two unforgettable encounters between music students from Cuba and the world were held on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 April. It was a magnificent debut for the week dedicated to the global celebration of International Jazz Day in Havana: the first in the University of The Arts (ISA) and the second in the Conservatory of Music “Amadeo Roldán”.
In front of the visiting musicians from different countries and students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Danier Seeff, Director of Programs of this institute in the West Coast of the United States came
The young jazz musicians offered a concert in both school centers that included several numbers under their own authorship and an impressive musical route by the History of the Jazz, from the times of one of its initiators in century XIX, the teacher of the ragtime Scott Joplin, until contemporaries like Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis, going through 1960s jazz, an expression of the civil rights struggles in the United States at the time.
Under the direction of Camilo Moreira Coro, the ISA Jazz Band offered a performance that included versions of “Mambo No. 5” by Dámaso Pérez Prado, “Amor Fugaz” by Benny Moré, and “Chinoiserie” by Duke Ellington, as well as the interpretation by the young pianist of the band of one of his own compositions.
In the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, the young middle level students gave a show led by the female quintet “Nymphs”, directed by the cellist Kabila Franchini Suárez; The musical project “Ceda el Paso”, with the young and laureate pianist Rodrigo García Ameneiro at the front; and the the school’s jazz band, under the direction of the Master Enrique Rodriguez Toledo, also director of the band. The students performed singular arrangements of classics such as “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla or “Pita y Para”, by Francisco Repilado, and a wide repertoire of Cuban and international jazz.
But the most exciting in both cases was the interaction of the students of Thelonious Monk with their Cuban counterparts. It was a real splurge of virtuosity both by hosts and guests, who performed improvised jam sessions and exchanged knowledge in spontaneous “workshops” of Instruments, memorable “downloads” where talent and creativity flowed uncontainablely, after the scheduled presentations were concluded.
They were, without doubt, new samples of the power of jazz to unite, and to create synergies, so that the cultures dialogue through the notes of the most democratic musical genre. Those of us who live in it were, in truth, privileged.
By Roberto Alfonso Lara
April 5, 2017
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Living a comfortable old age can be the aspiration of anyone in the world. Some even set it as a goal and work hard to achieve it. But this effort at the individual or family level requires socio-economic support. This implies changes in health-care services, transportation, the stores…
For several years, Cuba has given emphasis to policies to protect senior citizens. The irreversible aging of its population has led to a number of transformations, essentially in public health. Other sectors remain oblivious to the challenge. Marketwise, for example, old people are forgotten.
The country´s stores disregard the needs and preferences of the elderly. The sale of clothing, footwear and food without adjustment to their demands, is proof of the low visibility of this age group in commercial matters. When it comes to selling, gray hair is usually not taken into account.
Somehow, I think there is an incomplete perception about the elderly, which doesn’t realize their true potential. A degree of conformism is attributed to them. The limited satisfaction of their urgent needs often follows that premise. It is usually thought that, due to their age, they lack tastes and interests, and that anything will be good for them.
Neither slippers nor pajamas nor “home scrubs” at reasonable prices are to be found in stores. Neither are light fabric clothing, nor shoes with the proper design to cope with corns and bunions, or anything that gratifies or pleases them. They do stumble upon sneakers and high heels, shiny blouses and tight pants.
Domestically-made garments hardly fill the vacuum. The use of textiles inadequate for Cuba’s hot climate (polyester instead of cotton), make the articles on sale of little use. Industry needs, first, to know in detail the type of customer to whom its products are intended. The same happens with prices, which bear no relationship with the very little money pensioners receive.
In terms of marketing, older people are scarcely valued in the country as an economically attractive group. Nevertheless, nations with similar demographic characteristics find in seniors numerous possibilities as consumers. Several specialists have even argued that the future of the market lies in the grandparents.
If in 2025 one in four Cubans will be over 60, wouldn’t it be appropriate to take another look at the issue? The care of the elderly –a strategic issue in the development of the nation– requires the implementation of comprehensive action in pursuit of greater comfort and quality of life.
The construction and repair of nursing homes and grandparents’ homes, along with new geriatrics clinics, anticipate the way forward. The other lap corresponds to the spheres of production and services. These are still permeated with the stereotype that the elderly do not buy enough.
Because of the size of the changes required, it may be difficult to deal with the needs of old age. For Cuba’s weak economy it is, in fact, a problem. However, all the elements should be thought of instead of continuing to postpone possible options. Not only in terms of clothing or food, also in the constant supply of wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids, mattresses, beds…
The government’s own interest in promoting the active participation of senior adults in the socio-economic life of the country clearly speaks of the need for reorienting the compass towards the current demographic process. Consequently, it is a task for the market to review its current situation and expand what’s available. The elderly, like other generations, need to see their reflection own in the mirror.