CUBA BRIEF: BIPARTISAN GROUP WANTS TO REVOKE OFAC RULING; DDC: Castroism without “Yankee” dollars? ; DEMOCRACY DIGEST: Ignoring logic in Cuba


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March 29, 2017 For more information: K. Fernandez (Ros-Lehtinen), 202-225-8200  D. Damron (Wasserman Schultz), 202-906-0542

Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman Schultz Lead Bipartisan Call For Review of Havana Club Trademark License to Castro Regime-Owned Cubaexport

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for a review and explanation of last year’s decision by the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) to grant a license for the Havana Club trademark to Castro-regime owned Cubaexport. Ros-Lehtinen and Wasserman Shultz were joined by nearly two dozen of their colleagues.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Last year’s decision by OFAC to grant a license to Cubaexport – a wholly-owned entity of the Cuban regime – for the trademark of Havana Club was an unprecedented decision with alarming implications for American intellectual property rights holders. It was a decision made for political expedience that ignored standing U.S. law and potentially opened a Pandora’s box that could see U.S. intellectual property rights holders subject to unlawful and unjust foreign confiscations. We are asking the new administration to review this license, reverse its decision and protect rightful intellectual property owners before any lasting damage is done.”

Statement by Wasserman Schultz: “As Members of Congress, we have a responsibility to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution, including the protection against government confiscation of property without just compensation. It is with these values in mind that we strongly urge OFAC to revoke the license it issued to the Cuban government entity Cubaexport. By allowing the Cuban regime to register the Havana Club trademark, OFAC is out of step with longstanding United States policy, and has set a terrible precedent for American intellectual property rights holders.  I urge OFAC to reverse this misguided decision and send a loud and clear message to the international community that the United States has been and always will be a global leader on intellectual property rights.”

NOTE: To view the letter please click here. Other cosigners of the letter are: Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).



DDC in English


No bandits, scum, or mercenaries (bandidos, escoria, mercenarios): learning to speak without the keywords of Castroist propaganda

FRANCISCO ALMAGRO DOMÍNGUEZ | Miami | 29 de Marzo de 2017 – 11:00 CEST. | 0

1980. Cuban refugees wait to disembark in Key West, Florida. (AP)

On March 11 Cuban television aired The Other War (La otra guerra) a series on the civil conflict (1960-1966) that took place in the center of the Island and produced thousands of victims. As is typical of political propaganda, the series seems to lack the essential balance between good and evil, and exhibits a substantial detachment from historical truth: the “bandits” (bandidos) remain those who rose up against the Communist regime; the civil war is still called “clean-up of Escambray,” (limpia del Escambray) as if it just involved cleansing some pestilent redoubt.     

Assuming that the democratization of information, and the passage of time, have enabled those living on the island to harbor a more balanced understanding of those days can be a critical mistake. There may be no little glasses of milk, or free bread, as had been promised by the regime, but a steady diet of anti-history and political manicheism is and will be guaranteed. Most of our compatriots have a skewed view of the past, and, as a consequence, of the future. As with the psychotic, their views are impervious to the logic of evidence.   

Perhaps for this and many other reasons it is necessary to explain to newcomers, before any legal process, or job application, that there are words and concepts that on this side of the water are not used, or are understood in a completely different way, or are even offensive. Fernando Ortiz conceived the term catauro, a kind of rustic basket used in fields, as a dictionary to “translate” Cuban terminology that is difficult to understand for other Spanish speakers, or those speaking other languages.

A generous humanitarian gesture would be to read to each new Cuban immigrant this new catauro,  a kind of lexical primer. For example, those who live in this country and in this city are not gusanos (worms). We are people. Those arriving probably still call escoria (scum) those who left from the Port of Mariel; as in, “He came with the scum.” We should talk about the thousands of Cubans who arrived 50 years ago with nothing but the shirts on their backs, or those who, 40 ago, crammed into boats full of madmen and criminals. They are the ones who have built this beautiful and vibrant city. 

Cuba was no pseudocolony of the US. In 1959 almost 70% of Cuban industry and commerce were in the hands of nationals. It was a republic whose independence was recognized on May 20, 1902, and not on January 1. Cuba was a country that had several presidents (some true heroes in the War of Independence), a Senate, House, and Supreme Court, with their highs and lows, but more good than bad, allowing it to became one of the most advanced republics in the Americas in the 50s. 

Among the ranks of the strong opposition to the Batista regime there were rich people, merchants, professionals, workers, peasants and students. It was not a “class struggle”. No senior leader of the armed opposition to Batista was a worker or a peasant.  And in the early months of the effort there was little talk of Communism, Lenin or Marx. In fact, the Cuban people were thoroughly anti-Communist. Unfortunately for the propagandists, there are reels and reels of film and hundreds of yellowed pages constituting incontrovertible evidence of this.

The catauro of terms should include a chapter dedicated to the Bay of Pigs. The so-called “mercenaries” were young Cubans who did not fight under the US flag, but rather that of their homeland, Cuba. They did receive US financial support and training. But, as history would have it, there has not been a single strike against an oppressor in Cuba that has not been funded by and supported from the US territory, whether actively or passively. Here in Miami they respect and revere the “invaders” of the Bay of Pigs. To say otherwise is an insult to the memory of nearly 100 Cubans killed in combat, or who ended up in prison.

Finally, it is important for the catauro or primer for the visitor/emigrant to Miami to clarify that the “clean-up of Escambray” was an actual civil war in the Cuban mountains, and that the regime displaced entire civilian populations to the far end of the island, seizing all their property, as part of a kind of a “reconcentration” that gave rise to the infamous “captive towns.”

There were atrocities on both sides: summary executions, torture, indiscriminate bombing.  Many “bandits” had been officers of the Rebel Army, peasants who had served in the columns that took Santa Clara and other cities in Las Villas and Camagüey. Which is why the fighters in Escambray should really be called “mutineers.” 

Cuban television can keep making all the TV series its wants, while playing with the material and spiritual poverty of a whole people. Once Cubans have reached this country, they ought to know that those over here have the right, and the duty, to tell the other side. Those who step on this soil will realize, as Rabindranath Tagore said, that the truth does not belong to he who screams loudest.



Political survival beats economic logic as Cuba’s ‘reform drive hits the sand’

The anniversary of the Russian Revolution is a timely reminder that Marxist ideology, once entrenched in countries that controlled a third of the world’s population, survives today as an operable system only in small tyrannies such as Cuba and North Korea, notes Boston University professor Michael Kort.

Cuban president Raúl Castro is preparing to step down next year, while Venezuela has cut millions of dollars in aid, The Financial Times reports:

Unnerved by the changes, Havana has allowed its domestic reform drive to grind to a halt as the Communist party battens down the hatches. Marino Murillo, the senior official leading Cuba’s reforms, has not been heard in public for almost a year. His absence has mystified Cubans and dented the high expectations Mr Castro’s liberalizing drive once fomented, both at home and abroad. …

[T]ensions became clear at a party congress in April 2016, which admitted that reforms had failed to meet popular expectations in terms of economic growth, supplies of goods and higher wages. At the same time, a debate on state television showed party delegates fuming over a private onion farmer who had earned enough money to buy a car and fix his house.

“In a way, the reforms have not gone far enough but at the same time too far,” says Bert Hoffman, a Cuba expert at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. “Not far enough to . . . lift up growth [but] too far in that social inequalities are widening, the cost of living is rising and the Communist party fears the discontent this produces.”

The next year will determine Castro’s economic legacyThe Miami Herald adds:

Analysts say Cuba seems to favor the path of slow economic reforms because it doesn’t want to do anything that could potentially be destabilizing and cause a weakening of political control.

“The political logic is predominant over the economic logic,” said Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh. “Still, the Cuban government can sometimes act in unpredictable ways. I don’t think Raúl Castro will do anything significant in the time he has left, but he will support Díaz-Canel in carrying out reforms in the future.”

Despite scarcity at home, the country’s human resources are being squandered overseas in supposed gestures of ‘international solidarity.’ Cuban medics dispatched to Venezuela have revealed that they were deceived and forced to fabricate statistics, PanAm Post’s Karina Martin reports.

Human rights groups are calling for the release of Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción (left), leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) since 2014, who was sentenced to three years in prison on 20 March. He was arrested in Holguín on 30 November 2016, five days after the death of the former leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He has since been held in the provisional prison (prisión provisional) of Holguín and will remain there while he carries out the appeals. Eduardo Cardet was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized Fidel Castro a few days after his death.


MARCH 29, 2017



Cuba: more reliant on the US than ever

ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 27 de Marzo de 2017 – 16:38 CEST. | 0

An examination of how the parasitism inherent to Castroism made the country more dependent on the USSR than it would have been on the US. And how it now depends on the US even more than it did during the Republic.

The best way to appreciate how that Cuba’s economy today depends on the US more than ever before in its history is to engage in a very simple mental exercise: imagine that Washington banned travel, remittances and packages to the island, except for medicines and special visits by Cubans to see very sick relatives.

What would happen? Can anyone even make a coherent assessment of a scenario like this?  Many shudder at even the notion. This is not going to happen, but the mere thought places many’s hair on end – especially that of the Castroist political and military elite. Political science also encompasses possible situations and potential scenarios.

For 60 years the regime’s propaganda has been vociferously claiming that before 1959 Cuba was a pseudo-colony of the US. Of course, media and academic centers on the island have been prohibited from researching or publishing anything about how, in fact, “revolutionary” Cuba was much more dependent on the USSR than “bourgeois” Cuba ever was on the US. And, what’s worse, now it depends more than ever on American cash, especially in the wake of the devastating economic crisis in Venezuela.

Hypocrisy in the regime’s realpolitik and its two-faced policies are evident. On the one hand, it waves the flag and stirs up enmity against the “Empire” and the “criminal blockade”, while simultaneously supplicating, wheeling and dealing, and spreading its tentacles behind the scenes, both in political circles on the left, and within the US business community, to encourage travel and commercial flights to Cuba, and for Congress to lift the embargo so that they can obtain access to international loans and foreign investment.

The latter, getting loans, cash and investments, is vital to the dictator and his military junta. The plans of the Government and elite of the Communist Party (PCC) to pass power to a new generation of leaders, military and civilians, starting in 2018, call for stabilizing financial support that they currently lack.

More American money than ever

Between remittances, packages and trips to Cuba from the US, in 2016 Cuba brought in more than 7 billion dollars. According to experts that figure has already surpassed the amount from Venezuelan subsidies. It is triple the revenue from the Cuban tourist industry, almost double the value of Cuban exports in 2016, which did not reach 4 billion, and 15 times the value of sugar exports. Incidentally, this last harvest in 2016 yielded only one third of the sugar produced back in 1925 (5.1 million tons).

From 1902 to 1958, although nearly 80% of Cuban sugar was exported to the US (at rates higher than those on the world market) and the rest of the Island’s trade was largely with its northern neighbor, there were two big differences to the situation today: 

There were not, as there are today, almost 2,000,000 Cubans in the US, furnishing the country with more money than all of Cuba’s exports, including sugar, nickel, tobacco, rum and pharmaceutical products, combined. The funds obtained from goods exported from the island in 2016 came to half of total monies received from the US.

There were private enterprises in Cuba that generated the bulk of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for a per capita GDP higher than Spain’s and almost equal to that of Italy.

Genetic parasitism

The problem is that, unlike a market economy, Cuba’s is parasitic, due to the congenital defect of its Marxist-Leninist statism, which is contrary to human nature, such that it can only work if it is subsidized from abroad; first by Moscow, and then by Caracas. Now, with the crisis in Venezuela, the Cuban economy is sustained by “counterrevolutionaries” in Miami.  The profound irony is that the cash that meets most of Cuba’s needs today is “imperialist” in origin.

This had never happened before. According to official figures, in the 50s the US acquired 57% of Cuba’s total exports. That is, the Island sold almost half of its exportable goods to the rest of the world, including cattle, coffee, pineapple and other products that the country was later unable to export when the Castros rose to power. In that pre-Castro decade Cuba produced 60,000 tons of coffee annually. In 2016 it produced a grand total of 5,687 tons. Incredible, but true.

With regards to dependence on the USSR, renowned Cuban economist Professor Carmelo Mesa-Lago offers some impressive figures. In 1989, Cuba received from the Soviet Union (and, to a far lesser degree, other allied countries) 98% of its oil, 80% of its machinery, 57% of its chemicals, and 53% of its food. 78.6% of all imports also came from those Communist nations.

According to the few official figures available in this regard, since Cuba joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in 1972, between 75 and 80% of its total trade (exports and imports) was with the USSR and other Communist countries. The highpoint occurred between 1984 and 1991, during the zenith of Soviet subsidies, when Moscow paid Castro 45 cents for a pound of sugar – while the price on the world market was at 4 or 5.

What few people know around the world is that Cuba got the lion’s share of these supplies for free, as it never paid its huge trade deficits. In fact, it racked up a debt of 35 billion dollars with Moscow. 90% was pardoned in 2014 by Vladimir Putin, aware that they would never collect. He did try to force Castro to pay at least 3.5 billion, however. But he’s not going to get a penny.

I still have a yellowing paper teletype, an AFP report from back in 1995, indicating that between 1984 and 1991 Cuba had accumulated a trade deficit of more than 16.08 billion dollars during those 8 years, an average of over 2 billion per year, with a spike to 2.74 billion in 1989. And almost all that unbalanced trade was with the USSR. 

Total subordination

Furthermore, the island received billions of dollars in weapons of every type: planes, tanks, artillery, ships, rockets, vehicles, guns, and equipment, allowing it to wield the largest and most powerful army in Latin America after Brazil. Cuba even received 42 nuclear missiles (able to reach Washington and New York), which put the world on the brink of nuclear war in 1962.

But what takes the cake is that in the 80s (until 1986), then Economy Minister Humberto Perez told meoff the record, that Moscow was selling to capitalist countries almost three million tons of crude oil that Cuba did not use, from its annual quota allocated by the CMEA, and then sending the money to Havana, these funds exceeding the amount generated by all its sugar mills.

We can clearly see that Cuba was not a pseudocolony of the USSR, but an outright one, as we can add that the largest apparatus for intelligence and repression in Latin America, the Castros’, was organized and trained by the KGB, with the help of East Germany’s neo-Nazi Stasi. All for free.

Despite its trade dependence on the US before 1959, Cuba was never as subordinate to its northern neighbor as it was later on the USSR, 19,000 km away, beyond the Mediterranean.

Given the parasitism endemic to Castroist socialism, Cuba today depends on the US so profoundly that if the scenario described at the outset of this article were to come to pass, the nation would come to an utter standstill. It would be another Cambodia, with people eating out of communal pots. Without “Yankee” money, Castroism would be unsustainable.