Sunday, March 28, 2010

Medio centenar de personas se concentran frente a la Embajada de Cuba en Madrid en apoyo a las Damas de Blanco

Más de 50 personas se concentraron de forma silenciosa hoy en Madrid a las puertas de la Embajada cubana para ofrecer su apoyo a las Damas de Blanco, los presos políticos que hay en Cuba y la libertad de Cuba. Reclaman que se siga luchando y un mayor apoyo de la Comunidad Internacional.

En declaraciones a Europa Press Televisión, Elena Larrinaga, presidenta de la Federación Española de Asociaciones Cubanas, Elena Larrinaga, explicó que con este evento quisieron "llevar a cabo una manifestación silenciosa para seguir el ejemplo de las Damas de Blanco- Éstas llevan una semana concentrándose para conmemorar el aniversario de 'La Primavera Negra', en la que fallecieron 73 personas por disentir con el régimen castrista.

Para Larrinaga el gobierno de Castro está "caduco, oscurecido, oculto, sin futuro" y reclamó la importancia del apoyo internacional. De la misma opinión se mostró una de las representantes de las Damas de Blanco en España, Blanca Reyes, que consideró que el Gobierno español mantiene "una posición muy floja y muy discordante con la realidad cubana".

Entre los asistentes que quisieron apoyar la concentración se encontraba María Elena Cruz, poeta cubana que ha vivido en primera persona la represión del régimen de Castro por ser una precursora de la lucha de los intelectuales en la calle. "Hicieron mítines de repudio, instaron a las turbas a que me agredieran, entraron en mi casa, me golpearon a mí y golpearon a mis hijos" denunció Cruz.

Tanto María Elena Cruz como las representantes de las Damas de Blanco coinciden en que el gobierno cubano tiene miedo, y según denunció Cruz "la guarda anda con armas largas" en las calles del país latino.

La mayor esperanza es un país cubano en el que "exista libertad y democracia" afirmó Jesús Carrasco, ex-presidente del Centro Cubano de España. Carrasco denunció que la embajada intenta "acallar" sus voces con altavoces y con una cámara de vídeo escondida desde una de las ventanas del

Obama Calls Human Rights Situation in Cuba ‘Deeply Disturbing’

By Julianna Goldman

March 24 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said the human rights situation in Cuba is “deeply disturbing” and accused the Cuban government of responding “to the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched fist.”
“Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama cited the Feb. 23 death of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo after an 11-week hunger strike in a Havana prison, as well as the “repression” of mothers and wives of dissidents, known as “Las Damas de Blanco” as well as the “intensified harassment of those who dare to give voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans.”
Zapata Tamayo had been held since 2003 for contempt of authority, according to the U.S. State Department.
“During the course of the past year, I have taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people and to signal my desire to seek a new era in relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba,” Obama said.
“I remain committed to supporting the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the Americas, and that should be universal to all human beings,” Obama said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at
Last Updated: March 24, 2010 19:05 EDT

Cuba Readies for U.S. Tourists With Luxury Hotels (Update1)

By Jonathan J. Levin

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Cuba’s hotels could manage a sudden influx of 1 million American tourists if the U.S. Congress lifts its 47-year ban on travel to the Communist island, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.
Additionally, the Caribbean nation is set to expand its capacity of about 50,000 rooms, with groundbreaking scheduled for at least nine hotels in 2010, Marrero said. About 200,000 rooms may be added in the “medium to long-term,” he said. Cuba is also seeking investment partners for 10 golf courses and luxury hotels aimed at Americans, according to a ministry official.
“I’m convinced that today, with the available capacity, we could be receiving the American tourists without any problem,” Marrero said in an interview yesterday in Cancun, Mexico where he was attending a conference of 40 American and Cuban tourist industry representatives.
The tourism industry meeting comes as the U.S. Congress considers a law that would lift the ban on travel to Cuba. Senator Byron Dorgan, one of 38 co-sponsors of the bill, said he has 60 votes lined up to win passage of the measure this summer. Similar legislation introduced in the House has 178 co-sponsors and needs 218 votes to pass if all 435 members vote.
“This is a 50 year-old failed policy,” Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, told the meeting yesterday in a phone call from Washington. “Punishing Americans by restricting their right to travel just makes no sense at all.”
‘New Era’
President Barack Obama said March 24 that he’s seeking a “new era” in relations with Cuba even as he denounced “deeply disturbing” human rights violations by its government. He did not say where he stands on lifting the travel ban.
Obama last year ended restrictions on Cuban-Americans traveling to Cuba and transferring money to relatives back home. The U.S. State Department has also held talks in Havana with Cuban officials about restoring mail service and cooperation on migration issues.
Tourism to Cuba increased 3.5 percent amid the global financial crisis to 2.4 million visitors last year, with 900,000 visitors from Canada leading the way, Jose Manuel Bisbe, commercial director for the Tourism Ministry, said in an interview this week in Havana.
Bisbe expects foreign arrivals to grow by a similar amount this year. If the U.S. travel ban is lifted, hotels won’t be overburdened because Americans will visit year-round and face capacity problems only during the winter high season when occupancy reaches 85 percent, he said.
‘Forbidden City’
“Havana has been the forbidden city for so long that it will be a boom destination even in the low season,” said Bisbe, who estimates Cuba will add another 10,000 hotel rooms in the next two or three years.
Daniel Garcia, who has sold tourists used books in Old Havana since 1994, said more Americans would be good for business.
“The gringos can’t help but spend their money,” Garcia, 43, said at his stand in front of the neo-classical building that housed the U.S. Embassy before Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. “They are the easiest tourists to sell to. They never ask for discounts.”
Marrero said the government can’t finance development of tourist infrastructure on its own so it’s scouting for foreign partners such as Majorca, Spain-based Sol Melia SA, which already manages 24 hotels on the Communist island.
“The Cubans have provided us with a fairly complete picture of their tourism product and future opportunities for U.S. businesses to work in this market,” Lisa Simon, president of the Lexington, Kentucky-based National Tour Association, said in an e-mailed statement. “We look forward to a follow up conference next year in Cuba, should the legislation pending in Congress be approved.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Levin in Cancun, Mexico at
Last Updated: March 26, 2010 15:07 EDT

Cuba Travel Bill to Get More Than 60 Senate Votes, Dorgan Says

By Jonathan Levin

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan said he will bring a bill to lift the ban on travel to Cuba to the Senate floor this summer and that more than 60 Senators will vote for it.
The North Dakota Democrat spoke today by telephone from Washington to a conference of Cuban and American tourist industry representatives in Cancun, Mexico.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Levin in Ottawa at
Last Updated: March 25, 2010 12:21 EDT

Cuba's Ladies in White support political prisoners

A protester holds a sign in Spanish that reads It's Time For ...
Thu Mar 25, 9:58 PM ET
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A protester holds a sign in Spanish that reads It's Time For Cuba, and the photo of dissident Guillermo Farinas, who has been hospitalized in Cuba because of his hunger strike, as marchers gathered in support of the Ladies in White, a group of Cuban mothers and wives of 75 dissidents arrested in a 2003 government crackdown there, in the Little Havana section of Miami, Thursday, March 25, 2010.
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)