Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Could Cuba be in for cuts in medicine, education?

More cutbacks? Cuban state media says govt spending too much on free health care, education

, On Tuesday October 5, 2010, 1:39 pm EDT
HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba has already promised to fire a half-million state workers and reshape its communist economy. Now universal free education and health care, the very building blocks of the 1959 revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power, could face cutbacks.
A signed editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Tuesday argued that the government cannot continue to run up large spending deficits -- while noting that 46.7 percent of state spending goes to providing free medical care and education through college for all citizens.
"Spending cannot be thought of as a right, and in order to spend, you must have proper revenue," said the editorial, written by Granma deputy editor Alberto Nunez Betancourt.
The story featured a cartoon where a fat man labeled "spending" climbs on a seesaw marked "budget," sending his skinny playmate "revenue" hurtling skyward. It also singled out the high cost of providing basic food to all Cubans through a monthly ration card, as well as subsidized cooking oil and other domestic fuels.
"It is a matter that is going to require analysis and participation to find effective answers," Granma wrote, "as well as a rational use of resources and a permanent practice of saving."
It's the kind of opinion piece in the government-controlled press that can auger imminent announcements of reform. Last October, Granma's editor wrote in a full-page editorial that it could be time to cut back on a ration system that allows Cubans to buy a series of foods at heavily subsidized prices every month.
Since then, the government has cut potatoes, peas and other staples from the "libreta," or ration book, that Cubans have depended on since 1962 to put meager meals on their tables.
Tuesday's story did not say when -- or even if -- cutbacks in schools and hospitals are coming, and it gave no suggestions for specific ways to save money. But its tone was consistent with recent speeches by President Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother as president in 2006 and has said repeatedly that Cuba cannot keep spending so much to keep its citizens healthy and educated.
Castro said in an Easter Sunday address in April that perhaps 1 million government employees were superfluous, and five months later, his government announced it would lay off 500,000 state workers while loosening controls on self-employment and small business, in hopes of growing the private sector enough to absorb many of those out of a job.
The announcement has sent shock waves through a country where at least 84 percent of people work for the state.
The Granma article also referenced Cuba's so-called "special period" of the 1990s, when the disbanding of the Soviet Union cost the island billions of dollars in annual subsidies and trade and brought the economy to the brink of collapse.
The story noted that in 1993, perhaps the darkest year of a very dark economic decade, deficits climbed to 30 percent of gross domestic product.
Cuba is nowhere near that today, with a slashing of spending on foreign food and other costly imports, as well as scores of other belt-tightening measures, helping to reduce its official deficit from 5.6 percent of GDP to 4.9 percent of GDP over the course of last year.
Cuba counts state spending on all social programs when calculating annual economic growth, a unique brand of accounting that makes it difficult to determine its GDP under standard definitions.
Still, by contrast, the White House is estimating that the U.S. budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. An August report by The Office of Management and Budget put America's deficit at 10 percent of GDP in 2010 and 9.2 percent of GDP next year.

Cuba to free more prisoners, human rights leader says


October 04, 2010|By David Ariosto, CNN
Cuba is set to further empty its jails, adding at least another nine inmates to a list of those it plans to free, a human rights leader said Monday.
Head of the island's independent Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez, said another nine prisoners -- many of whom were convicted of violent crimes -- recently met with Interior Ministry officials to discuss their freedom and exile.
"This is all positive," said Sanchez. "But we are looking for their unconditional freedom."

Interview with Zoe Valdes Digital Journalist ...

Zoé Valdés presents his new book , "The whole newspaper "

"The Spanish government misled the prisoners released in Cuba "

Rate of shameful behavior Moratinos

Teresa Palacios and Miguel Pato, October 6, 2010 at 01:11
EncuestaShould Moratinos had met with opposition in his trip to Cuba?
Zoé Valdés durante una entrevista en Periodista Digital. />

Zoé Valdés during an interview at Digital Journalist .

  • Zoé Valdés.
  • Zoé Valdés durante una entrevista en Periodista Digital.
  • Zoé Valdés.
It has been 15 years since he published daily nothingness. Now in 2010 the characters have changed , the island . Reflection of the reality of Cuba which has already coined the term insile: Exile inside the Castro regime . Is isolation and loneliness Some people who have stayed .
daily nothingness and The whole daily (Ed. Planeta) of Zoé Valdés is a history of love, friendship , betrayal ... and exile.  She Tells the players that will inevitably have some itself but also many others who, over the years, shared their experience with the Cuban regime .
The loneliness is one of the aspects that the writer shares a more intense with the characters.
" The exile , there you go, always going to be alone. Moreover, establishes a double battle. Integrate into another culture without losing your identity. "

Zoé Valdés Cuban exile defined as a situation even tougher than in other cases.
"Any Cuban exile has similar things to those who suffered in Chile or Argentina. But the Cuban case is more painful there has not yet been recognized worldwide . "
Despite this pain, Zoé Valdés reiterates that " I've lost my country to remain silent " and does not hesitate to criticize certain aspects of Cuban dissidents or action Governments European and Spanish.

Criticized Guillermo Fariñas it was declared a hunger strike the day after Orlando Zapata 's death (23 February 2010).
"I think it was time for a hunger strike because a man had just died. The press had turned to the case of Orlando Zapata. Had to wait a little longer. "
His criticism is even more harsh in relation to the Spanish Government and the Foreign Minister in particular. Cuban writer described as shameful that the government will stand with the Castro regime.
In the case of prisoners released by the regime that reported being in a " prison without bars ", Zoé Valdés said to have been deceived.
"When they came to Europe, put his passport ' final exit ' (Cuba ). They could not return. In that, for example, were deceived. ( That operation ) came from the Spanish Government through the mediation of Church but at the same time that they were liberating a people, that I wanted to see and embrace , stuck to others in prison. There were many lies and deception by it hurts. "
S: Periodista Digital / LPPNEWS FrontLine Results

Cuban blogger Sanchez claims that his account was blocked Twitter

Washington, 5 oct (EFE) .- Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez announced today that since last Friday can not send messages through your Twitter account and asked the network to explain what happened to determine if the Government of Cuba is involved in blocking access.
With the help of a friend who had internet access, award-winning blogger could post this message: "# twitter should clarify whether the service has banned publication of tweets by sms or has been # Cuba's government has blocked us" .
"We have been without a voice in the world of 140 characters," Sanchez told Efe in a telephone interview from Havana.
"The Cuban government had not found a way to block the ability to send messages to Twitter via a cell phone (...) do not know if this has been the work of the Cuban government" or is a technical problem involving Twitter he said.
For Sanchez, Twitter has become a kind of "news channel" in which Cubans can "send news, views and information to the world, and unfortunately seems to have been a lock."
If it is found that it was "censorship," Sanchez continued, "unfortunately cut a path of expression for Cuban citizens."
According to Sanchez, she has been trained "to more than twenty" of bloggers who use Twitter, but their number in the "alternative tweetero community in Cuba could be higher."
"It seems a small number, but on an island where the monopoly of Internet was in state hands, is significant," he noted.
Sanchez said another blogger who gained access to the Internet from a hotel, has been in contact with those responsible for Twitter, but "has not received a response."
Sanchez said he learned today of the situation when several of his followers told him on Friday did not receive their messages through the service "SMS", apparently the only means by which Cubans armed with a cell phone can be hung messages in the network.
Also, Tomas Bilbao, executive director of the "Cuba Study Group, told Efe that he has contacted the State Department and Twitter to investigate what has happened with the account of Sanchez and other bloggers.
The increase in the number of bloggers who use Twitter social network "may have raised the profile" of these activists and has attracted the attention of Cuban authorities said Bilbao.
"If true, the Cuban government has been blocking access to Twitter via sms service, that would be surprising given that in the Iranian case, the Government could not block it," said Bilbao, a nonpartisan business group.
Bilbao was referring to the "Twitter Revolution" in Iran, where a vibrant community of bloggers have used this network to report abuses, despite government efforts to use filters that block certain Internet content.
Last July, the group published an extensive report Bilbao which promotes support for the Cuban people through technology as a way of encouraging democracy on the island.
That report, 52 pages, he said, for example, that U.S. telecommunications companies could expand their mobile services and internet, that would give the Cuban people the tools to develop their economic productivity.
Efe also tried to contact the administrators of the network, but so far no answer.
S: Agencies / LPPNEWS results
Cuban blogger Sanchez claims that his account was blocked Twitter

A parliamentary committee postponed the vote on the withdrawal of ban on travel to Cuba

us-congress-zThe Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives has postponed the vote on the abolition of the rule prohibiting travel to Cuba, which the proposal can only advance their procedure during the remainder of the year. The President of the Committee, Howard Berman, argued that Congress has much work to do, which prevent the implementation of the vote on Wednesday, which could be the last business day before lawmakers begin to prepare the electoral campaign. "Postponed the assessment of HR 4645 to allow the Commission to maintain strong and uninterrupted debate that deserves this important issue," he said Tuesday. Berman was convinced that the abolition of the ban will go forward. Furthermore, this measure provides for the removal of restrictions on the sale of food to Haiti.

A large group of businessmen, farmers and human rights groups believe that this is an important step toward ending the embargo and to promote political change in Cuba. The U.S. president, Barack Obama intends to "refound" relations with Cuba and has already taken initiatives in this regard.
Proponents of the measure were hopeful that this came out at least the Commission before the parliamentary elections of November 2, in which the Democratic Party risks losing the majority.
S: La Nueva Cuba / simultaneous translation LPPNEWS FrontLine Results