CUBA BRIEF: Three AI prisoners released. Calzon’s Radio Broadcast. Cubans want Capitalism but government won’t let them. Another airline cancels. Representative Castor’s “narrative”

AS REPORTED BY CUBABRIEF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS called on governments,  and media around the world to helpthree siblings from Holguín who had been on a hunger strike since March 7th. The three human rights activists were sentenced to a year in prison for the alleged “defamation of heroes and martyrs and public disorder” during the funeral ceremonies honoring Fidel Castro, according to media reports. Their mother, Maydolis Leyva Portelles. confirmed that thegovernment has just announced their release, although all three are in poor health and she has not been able to see them. General Raul Castro’s regime like some other dictatorships is sensitive to worldwide campaigns in favor of his victims. This is not always the case as the plight of other Cuban political prisoners and Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo demonstrates. The Chinese human rights activist will learn from within a Chinese dungeon about the Chinese dictator’s visit to the White House later this week.

IN THIS CUBABRIEF A SEGMENT OF CALZON’S INTERVIEW ON SECURE FREEDOM RADIO about American intelligence sharing with Cuban spy agencies, U.S.-Cuba policy changes from Obama to Trump, and Implications of opening a U.S. embassy in Havana. The interview was broadcast this week.

EFE reports  that Cuban government Restricts Sale of Premium Gasoline but that as of “Saturday, with cash payment required the high-octane gasoline [was still available but] restricted to certain vehicles and cars rented to tourists.” Cubans are not surprised, whether food or gasoline availability the tourists come first.  The article we reprint here was published by The International Herald Tribune.

Miami Herald reporter Nora Gámez Torres wrote on April 4, 2017: “Audiovisual production company receives OFAC license to operate in Cuba.” She says that “Although the Trump administration’s Cuba policy review has not been completed, a U.S.-based broadcast and video facilities company, has received a license to operate on the island and to contract with a Cuban state enterprise.” According to the article “The license granted to Cuba International Network (CIN)by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) allows the company to contract with Cuban government-operated radio and television enterprise known by the Spanish acronym RTV.” The American company has yet to work out details with its Cuban government counterpart. All media has been under absolute control of the Cuban authorities since 1960 and the Trump Administration Cuba policy review will not be completed until the new Administration’s appointments are approved by the Congress.

TWO DIFFERENT VIEWS ON CUBA. Although Florida Senator Marco Rubio “believes President Obama received nothing in return when he normalized relations with the Cuban government,” Congresswoman Kathy Castor “is concerned about a potential reversal on U.S. relations with Cuba.” The Tampa, Florida Congresswoman “led a congressional delegation in Havana in 2016 and believes changes put into place by President Obama have made a positive change,” reports CBS North Carolina. Congresswoman Castor has little to say about repression, including the regime’s refusal to Amnesty International to visit Cuba or the beatings and abuse inflicted by the authorities on the Ladies in White. The North Carolina CBS affiliate coverage could benefit from more serious reporting on Cuba.   



Foundation for Economic Education, April 3, 2017

Cubans Want Capitalism

By Maximilian Wirth

Monday, April 03, 2017

Cuba is sometimes idealized as a successful countermodel to capitalism. This month, however, the University of Chicago’s NORC released a study about the opinions of Cuba’s population. The findings of the poll were clear: Cubans want capitalism.

The Cuban people are ready and willing to improve their lives, but the government prevents them from doing so. [More]

Finally we include here a brief note from the  Pittsburgh Business Times of April 4, 2017


Flights from Pitt to Cuba on hold

By Lydia Nuzum Reporter Pittsburgh Business Times

A longstanding plan to offer charter flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to Cuba has been sidelined indefinitely, according to a spokesman for Miami-based Choice Aire quoted by a local newspaper. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reivew, Choice Aire had planned to start offering the twice-weekly flights by the end of last year, while the airport had received approval for the flights in 2011. A move by airports last year to offer regular flights to Cuba put a dent in the demand for charter service, the spokesman said.

Calzon on Secure Freedom Radio

Interview segment with Frank Calzon

FRANK CALZON, Executive Director at the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C.:

  • American intelligence sharing with Cuban spy agencies
  • U.S.-Cuba policy changes from Obama to Trump
  • Implications of opening a U.S. embassy in Havana


Diario de Cuba, April 4, 2017

The regime paroles the three siblings from Holguín who went on a hunger strike

DDC | Madrid | 4 de Abril de 2017

On Sunday the regime released on parole the three siblings from Holguín who had been on a hunger strike since March 7, when they were sentenced to a year in prison for the alleged “defamation of heroes and martyrs and public disorder” during the funeral ceremonies honoring Fidel Castro, confirmed the children’s mother, Maydolis Leyva Portelles. [ More]


Latin American Herald Tribune, April 3, 2017

Cuban Government Restricts Sale of Premium Gasoline

HAVANA – Several service stations that sell only premium gasoline were closed this weekend in Havana, although the Cuban government has not officially announced restrictions on sales of the special fuel.

Some of the service stations that sell high-octane fuel, which is hard to find on the island, had been closed for several days, with cones and yellow tape keeping drivers away.

Long lines formed outside one service station on Friday and the Havana fuel outlet was closed a day later.

An EFE reporter confirmed that other service stations were still selling premium fuel on Saturday, but with cash payment required and the high-octane gasoline restricted to certain vehicles and cars rented to tourists.

Government vehicles can only be fueled using prepaid cards issued by Financiera Cimex S.A. (Fincimex) at Union Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet) service stations.

Cuba is trying to find a new source of oil amid a cut to the subsidized supply it has received since 2003 from Venezuela, which provided the island with 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum.

The flow of crude from Venezuela has been reduced to about 55,000 bpd due to the economic crisis in the South American nation.