Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Entrevistas a Dr. Darsi Ferrer y a Juan Juan Almeida

Entrevistas a Dr. Darsi Ferrer y a Juan Juan Almeida

Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Paul Budde
Communication Pty Ltd., March 2010,
Table of Contents

The Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband profiles the fixed-line, mobile and broadband markets in Cuba. Cuba still has the lowest mobile phone penetration in Latin America, one of the lowest levels of Internet penetration, and is among the five lowest in terms of fixed-line teledensity. Cubas fixed-line services remain a monopoly in the hands of government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (Etecsa), while mobile services are provided exclusively by Cubacel, a subsidiary of Etecsa.There remains substantial state control over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the Internet. The Obama administration has recently relaxed some of the embargo rules pertaining to telecommunications, in an attempt to improve freedom of communication and information for Cubans. Despite this, and although Raul Castro is more reform-minded than was his brother Fidel, the genuine liberalisation of Cubas telecommunications sector is expected to occur slowly over the next five to ten years.Market Highlights:In mid-2009 the Obama administration issued new policies in relation to US-Cuban relations, half of which related to the telecommunications sector. The steps were prefaced by a statement from the Obama administration saying it aimed to promote the freer flow of information to the Cuban people.For instance, the Obama administration said it would forthwith authorise US telecoms companies to establish themselves in Cuba, whether that be by way of establishing telecommunications facilities, roaming agreements with Cuban service providers, or transactions leading to the provision of satellite radio and television services. The US administration would also allow US residents to enter into service agreements with telecoms companies providing services to Cubans, as well as allowing the donation of certain telecommunications devices to Cuba without a licence.By early 2010 it was still unclear whether the Cuban government would approve of the US policy steps.In October 2009 the US government gave permission to a small Miami-based company called TeleCuba Communications to lay the first fibre-optic cable connecting the USA and Cuba. The project, which in early 2010 was still awaiting approval by the Cuban government, would cost around $18 million, financed by private investors, and would result in an 8Tb/s-10Tb/s capacity cable which could be operational by mid-2011. In addition to the US initiatives, stimulus for reform may also be aided by recently improved bilateral relations with Russia. In March 2010 Cuba and Russian signed a telecommunications pact in which the two countries agreed to jointly develop information technology. As part of the pact, delegates from both countries would also evaluate other possibilities for cooperation in the areas of radio spectrum, telecommunications and professional training.In the meantime, the substantial gap between Cubas mobile penetration, which stands at around 6% as at early 2010, and the rest of Latin Americas, which averages above 80%, continues to widen.Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cuba sets free Darsi Ferrer in Havana

Taken from "" from June 23, 2010 post

The Cuban prisoner Darsi Ferrer is already released. After spending 11 months on remand and numerous protests by his situation, so yesterday was tried by a court in Havana, coinciding with the unprecedented process of open dialogue between the Cuban Catholic Church and the government of Raul Castro, now has allowed the release of political prisoner Ariel Sigler Amaya. Ferrer was arrested in 2009 for an alleged crime of illegal purchase of construction materials, and prosecutors asked for him three years in prison for “receiving” and “bombing.” The court sentenced him to 15 months, but allowed him to perform on his home the four remaining months of sanction under the regime of “probation.”
The dialogue between the Church and the regime has helped release. “It was the predictable,” he said yesterday human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez. For him, the release of Ferrer “deals” with the process of dialogue between the Church and the Government, even though his case is different from that of prisoners of conscience from the Group of 75. “The current line of the government is leaving the problem of prisoners,” he says, after stating that there will be “more prisoner releases and movements” in the coming weeks. Ferrer is a doctor, is 40 and began military opposition a decade ago. He became known for its street actions, especially the marches organized in a central park in Havana 10 December to mark the World Day of Human Rights. For his opposition activities was arrested on numerous occasions, but the arrests were always short. It was only the July 21, 2009. That day he was detained and questioned about the provenance of some building materials seized in a pre-registration at home. Ferrer was charged with receiving, for having “illegally acquired” two bags of cement, aluminum windows and several plates of iron which would reform the home. In addition, the office was accused of an attack by an alleged physical assault on a person in your neighborhood. During the 11 months he spent in prison, Ferrer made several protests and hunger strikes to demand that his trial. In early 2010, Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. The resolution of the case Ferrer takes place in a special moment, when the Catholic Church stars in a mediation process that has already yielded its first fruits. Ariel Sigler Amaya, the first of those released, received last week a U.S. humanitarian visa to receive medical attention. Might be the way to continue other released, according to some analysts.

"Reporters without Borders" Statement on Dr. Darsi Ferrer

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
From the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders:Dissident doctor and reporter paroled after nearly a year in pre-trial detentionDarsi Ferrer, a dissident public health activist who contributes to independent news media, was finally tried yesterday on charges of "irregularities" and "assault" and was granted a conditional release after being held without trial since July 2009.A physician who heads the independent "Juan Bruno Zayas Health and Human Rights Centre," Ferrer upset the authorities by gathering and disseminating information about the current state of the Cuban health system and the situation of political prisoners.Ferrer had been held in Valle Grande prison, west of Havana, since his arrest on 21 July 2009, for which the official reason was his "illegal" acquisition of building materials to repair his house. Prosecutors requested a three-year jail sentence, but the court sentenced him yesterday to 15 months and said he could serve the remaining four months under house arrest."We are obviously relieved by Ferrer's release even if he was finally given a jail sentence to match the time he already had spent behind bars," Reporters Without Borders said. "No one is fooled about the real reason for his detention as this is a country in which the authorities tolerate no public expression of dissenting views. His release was not in any way an act of clemency or, even less so, a sign of an improvement in respect for basis rights and freedoms."Cuba still has approximately 200 prisoners of conscience, who include 24 journalists. One of them is the Reporters Without Borders correspondent Ricardo González Alfonso, who has been held since the "Black Spring" crackdown of March 2003.Dissidents continue to be the target of harassment, repression and hate campaigns by the authorities and their supporters. Hablemos Press, a small independent news agency, reported that two more journalists, José Manuel Caraballo Bravo and Raúl Arias Márquez of the Agencia de Prensa Libre Avileña (APLA), were arrested on 21 June.Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the community of Latin American countries to intercede on behalf of Cuba's imprisoned journalists and dissidents, some of whom have fallen seriously ill since their arrest.

Dr. Darsi Ferrer's Story in Pictures
Outside of a courthouse in Havana, a crowd awaits the arrival of Cuban pro-democracy leader and political prisoner, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, demanding his release.

"Surrounded by Cuban state security, Dr. Ferrer smiles at the crowd. After 11 months of imprisonment without trial, Dr. Ferrer's wife and supporters are relieved by his release and placement under house arrest.
The "L" stands for "Libertad" ("Freedom").According to Dr. Ferrer, his release "is due in large measure to international pressure, to the courage of the opposition, to the overwhelming needs of the Cuban people that don't have the possibility of a dignified life amidst this [regime's] unsustainable failures."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cuba, Vatican say talks on dissidents continuing

June 16, 2010
HAVANA — Cuba and a top Vatican official expressed optimism Wednesday that landmark negotiations between the church and Raul Castro's government will continue and indicated they could produce more breakthroughs on the treatment of dissidents and political prisoners. The comments by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, and his Cuban counterpart were the latest signal that a month-old dialogue that has already led to the release of an ailing prisoner of conscience and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes is gaining strength. "The dialogue that is happening now makes us happy, and I hope that it will be strengthened through my visit," Mamberti said at a joint news conference with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. "I think it is important ... to see the fruits" of such talks. Rodriguez applauded the role the Church has been playing on the island, and said all signs point to more dialogue.
"We have held fluid and profoundly productive talks," he said. "We appreciate the constructive role of the Church in these matters and we think that all conditions exist ... for these fruitful exchanges to continue." Neither spoke of any concrete steps that would see the release of more of Cuba's 180 political prisoners. Mamberti said he had no plans to meet with dissidents, though he did not rule it out. The Vatican official arrived in Havana on Tuesday, ostensibly to celebrate the 75th anniversary of relations between Cuba and the Vatican. He is also scheduled to attend discussions on the island's economic plight and efforts to bridge the divide between Cubans and exiles in the United States and elsewhere. The church has traditionally been cautious in dealing with Cuba's communist government since relations improved in the 1990s. That changed dramatically in May, when Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega intervened in a standoff between the government and the Ladies in White, a group of mothers and wives of some of the 75 activists jailed in a 2003 crackdown on dissent. On May 19, Ortega and another church leader held a four-hour meeting with President Castro, emerging optimistic that the government was prepared to make concessions to the dissidents. Prisoner transfers began June 1, and on Saturday Cuba released Ariel Sigler, a 44-year-old inmate paralyzed from the waist down who was serving a 25-year sentence for treason. Critics say the government's concessions have been underwhelming so far, but church leaders have consistently urged patience, saying there is no deadline for progress.
While Cuba has welcomed the Church's role, it made clear this week that it did not appreciate a running commentary on the talks from the outside — particularly Washington.
After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a mostly upbeat statement saying the United States viewed the release of Sigler as "a positive development" and hoped it would lead to the release of others, Cuba reacted strongly.
"Cuba doesn't recognize any authority by the State Department or its spokesman to pass judgments on internal matters," Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's North American affairs office, told The Associated Press late Tuesday. "Moreover, the United States doesn't have moral authority to give lessons to anyone." Cuba and the United States have been at odds since shortly after the 1959 triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution. Cuban authorities consider the dissidents to be a mixture of common criminals and agitators funded by Washington to destabilize the country. At Wednesday's news conference, Rodriguez also brought up the case of Alan Gross, a U.S. government contractor arrested in December on accusations of spying. Gross has been held without charge for six months, and American officials have made clear that relations cannot improve until his case is resolved. Rodriguez said Gross had been detained for "committing grave crimes in our country at the service of the subversive policy of the United States against Cuba." He said Gross was still under investigation and gave no indication of when he might be charged, adding that the prisoner had been given repeated access to consular officials, offered legal representation and allowed to speak with his relatives. "The legal situation of Mr. Gross has conformed strictly with Cuban criminal procedures," Rodriguez said.

Cuba preparing for possible arrival of oil spill

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ (AP) – 18 hours ago

HAVANA — Cuba's civil defense chief said Tuesday that authorities are preparing coastal residents for the oil spill fouling the Gulf of Mexico, and a top military official said its possible arrival would be "a disaster." It still is unclear whether some of the millions of gallons of spilled crude will reach Cuba, though government scientists appeared on state television within days of the April 20 rig explosion that touched off the spill to say the island was not immediately at risk. So far there has been no apparent impact on tourism to the island's breathtaking north coast beaches. "In Cuba we have had small spills involving tankers on our coasts, but we've never had to confront anything of this magnitude," Gen. Ramon Espinosa, vice minister of the armed forces, said at a government meeting on natural disaster preparedness. "Nonetheless we are documenting and studying. We are preparing with everything in our power." Espinosa provided no details on preparations, but added that "for Cuba it would be a disaster" if the spill hits. Some oil has already reached the coast of Florida, and scientists worry that crude will get caught up in the loop current, a ribbon of warm water that begins in the Gulf of Mexico and wraps around Florida. U.S. and Cuban officials have put aside nearly 50 years of frigid relations to hold working-level talks on how to respond. Espinosa said he had no information on any concrete cooperation. Speaking on the sidelines of the same event, Ramon Pardo, head of Cuban civil defense, also said he could not comment on discussions with Washington. But Pardo said Havana "is taking all precautions: the preparation of the coast, vigilance, creating all necessary conditions, preparing the people who live on the coasts that could be impacted." Both Espinosa and Pardo said the island will rely on the expertise of Venezuela, one of Cuba's top allies and a major oil producer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Espionaje cubano en Quintana Roo, Mexico

La Vanguardia (Mexico)
La detención del candidato de la izquierda a la gubernatura de Quintana Roo Gregorio Sánchez, abrió una ventana inesperada: la penetración de la inteligencia cubana en México, que se ha venido dando de manera ininterrumpida desde que el ex gobernador Mario Villanueva organizó el tráfico de cubanos a México en los 90 en sociedad con Roberto Robaina, quien fue canciller del régimen castrista. Robaina cayó de la gracia del comandante Fidel Castro porque convirtió ese contrabando en un negocio personal. Las redes del espionaje cubano se reforzaron desde que el presidente Vicente Fox —manipulado por sus principales asesores en política exterior— inició un rompimiento descuidado y poco inteligente con La Habana. El resultado fue el cambio radical de la vieja regla de oro de que a cambio de no cerrar espacios políticos para Cuba en territorio mexicano, no se mezclarían en los asuntos internos del país. En el gobierno de Felipe Calderón, la secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores Patricia Espinosa regresó la diplomacia a ortodoxia, con el agravante de que su obsesión por mejorar la relación bilateral con Cuba no ha pasado de ser un buen deseo.
Las torpezas en el manejo de la relación bilateral con Cuba y los enfrentamientos públicos entre Fox y Castro, propiciaron que desde finales de 2001 el régimen cubano tuviera una participación activa en asuntos mexicanos. El punto más álgido de esa relación se dio a propósito de todo el largo episodio de los llamados “videoescándalos”, que fueron una serie de grabaciones que hizo secretamente el empresario Carlos Ahumada y que después quiso vender a cambio de protección al gobierno de Fox, con la intermediación del ex presidente Carlos Salinas y de su influyente amigo panista Diego Fernández de Cevallos. Por sugerencia del entonces gobernador de Michoacán, Lázaro Cárdenas, Ahumada viajó a Cuba desde un mes antes de que se dieran a conocer los videos en marzo de 2004, ayudado por el embajador cubano Jorge Bolaños, con quien tenía una estrecha relación. Bolaños, muy cercano a Fidel Castro, arregló que recibieran a Ahumada en una casa de seguridad en La Habana, al cuidado del teniente coronel Francisco Miguel Estrada Portales, segundo de la policía política. Lo que hicieron con él fue ponerle enfrente una cámara para que comenzara a platicar todo el episodio de los videos, que tenía como propósito descarrilar la candidatura presidencial de Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ahumada dijo tiempo después que fue torturado psicológicamente por los cubanos, pero diplomáticos cubanos dijeron otra cosa: “El problema era callarlo”. El hecho es que videograbaron alrededor de 40 horas donde revela los detalles de porqué realizó las grabaciones, porqué se las entregó a Salinas, cómo y en qué términos habló con Martha Sahagún en Los Pinos, cómo se planteó la protección con el procurador general Rafael Macedo, cómo blindaríaHacienda sus cuentas y propiedades, y cuánto le iban a pagar porellas. Con ese material enviados de La Habana viajaron a México.
Se trató de José Arbezú Fraga, jefe del Departamento de América Latina del Comité Central del Partido Comunista. El consejero político de la Embajada cubana, Orlando Silva, histórico jefe de la inteligencia de La Habana en México, los llevó con varios políticos a espaldas del gobierno mexicano. La conversación principal fue con López Obrador. Lo vieron en una oficina donde había varios colaboradores del entonces jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal y le ofrecieron entregarle todas las grabaciones con Ahumada, para defenderse del gobierno de Fox. López Obrador se negó, y les dijo que no quería esos materiales. Ninguno de ellos sabía que esa conversación estaba siendo grabada por el CISEN, y que fue la base para que el Gobierno mexicano declarara persona non-grata a Silva, y expulsara a Bolaños de México. La inteligencia cubana tuvo un serio revés con la salida de Silva, y su capacidad de inteligencia en México se tuvo que reconstruir.
De muy bajo perfil en los últimos años volvió a aparecer su mano estos días tras la detención de Sánchez en Cancún, tras el hecho que Jesús Ortega, líder nacional del PRD y amigo personal del candidato a gobernador, decidiera utilizar a la esposa del político-empresario detenido por presunto lavado de dinero y vinculación con el narcotráfico, Niurka Sávila, como vocera en su defensa. Desde la semana pasada autoridades federales comenzaron a dar detalles sobre Sávila. Lo más sorprendente fue que es hija de un coronel muy cercano a Raúl Castro, actual gobernante de Cuba, adscrito al Ministerio del Interior y miembro de los eficaces servicios de inteligencia. La señora Sávila ya fue confrontada en entrevistas sobre el tema, y lo único que no ha admitido es que su padre sea miembro de los servicios de inteligencia. Pero la ficha abre toda esa variable al caso de Sánchez.
Los servicios de inteligencia cubanos están bajo sospecha de que están utilizando los canales del tráfico de cubanos hacia Estados Unidos para infiltrar agentes, sobretodo porque varias de sus redes más profundas han sido descubiertas y desmanteladas en los últimos años. La utilización de las bandas de tráfico de personas son usadas también por terroristas y narcotraficantes, que en los últimos años ha generado gran preocupación en Washington. Hasta dónde llegará este nuevo episodio del espionaje cubano en México no se sabe. Pero que se les abrió un nuevo boquete, profundo, no hay duda, en el campo económico y en el político.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cuba moves political prisoners closer to home

Jeff Franks and Rosa Tania Valdes

June 1, 2010 (Reuters) - The Cuban government began moving political prisoners to jails closer to their homes on Tuesday in a modest humanitarian gesture promised in recent talks with the leader of Cuba's Catholic Church, human rights advocates and church officials said. Family members said they hoped the transfers were a first step toward freedom for some of the island's 190 imprisoned dissidents. The Catholic Church said in a statement that six men, who were among 75 government opponents jailed in a 2003 crackdown, were in the process of being transferred to prisons nearer their families in various Cuban cities. Another move was confirmed by the prisoner's family, bringing the known total to seven so far. Families of the jailed dissidents had complained that it was difficult to visit them in distant prisons.

It was not known how many prisoners would be moved, but Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights said as many as 17 have been in jails far from home.
President Raul Castro promised the moves in a May 19 meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, in what was seen as a concession ahead of a mid-June visit by Vatican foreign minister Dominique Mamberti. Catholic officials said Castro also pledged that ailing prisoners would be moved to hospitals. At least 26 prisoners are said by human rights advocates to be in ill health.
Some reports said Castro indicated an unknown number of prisoners may be released, but the government has only confirmed that he met with Ortega. Julia Nunez told Reuters she had received word that her husband, Adolfo Fernandez, was among those being moved to a Havana prison from his current jail in the central city of Ciego de Avila.


"I am very happy. It's a small light at the end of the tunnel," she said. Berta Soler, a leader in the "Ladies in White" dissident group whose husbands and sons were jailed in the 2003 crackdown, said the moves were a hopeful sign. "This is a window, a door that is opening," said Soler, whose husband, Angel Moya Acosta, is serving a 20-year sentence. "I think some of the most ill may be released." More than 50 of the 75 people jailed in 2003 remain behind bars. Sanchez downplayed the moves, saying they were "irrelevant" because they were simply "changing the prisoners from one jail to another." He said only the freeing of all Cuban political prisoners would be considered a "significant" step forward. But dissident Guillermo Farinas, now in the 98th day of a hunger strike seeking the release of the 26 ailing political prisoners, called the government's action "laudable." He said if the government releases 10 or 12 of the sick prisoners, he might call off his fast, which has prompted international criticism of Cuba's human rights record.

Farinas, who is receiving liquids intravenously in a hospital, has refused to eat or drink since the February death of imprisoned hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who demanded better prison conditions and whose demise also brought condemnation of Cuba. The government concession to dissidents was the second brokered in recent weeks by the church, whose influence has been restricted since the 1959 revolution that transformed Cuba into a communist state.
Officials tried last month to stop the Ladies in White from making the weekly protest marches they have staged for seven years, bringing in pro-government mobs to harass them for hours.
But they allowed the marches to go on after Ortega intervened. Cuban leaders say dissidents are mercenaries working to undermine the government.

Cuba 'moves political prisoners closer to their homes'

2 June 2010

A prisoners' wives group has kept up pressure on the government

Cuba has begun transferring several of the country's 200 political prisoners to jails closer to their homes, according to relatives and campaigners.

Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said the relocation of dissidents had begun, while the Archbishop of Havana's office said so far six had been moved. Officials agreed to relax the prison regime after talks with Church leaders. There was no immediate official confirmation from the Cuban government. There has been pressure on the Cuban leadership to improve conditions for political prisoners since the death in February of hunger strike protester Orlando Zapata.
He was the first Cuban activist to starve himself to death in protest in nearly 40 years.
As part of the recent agreement, the government also said it would move sick dissident prisoners to hospital and committed to stop harassing the prisoners wives' group, the Ladies in White, who would be allowed to continue their weekly protest march. However, the Cuban authorities deny that the men are political prisoners, calling them mercenaries paid by the US to undermine the system. Amnesty International considers 65 of them to be "prisoners of conscience".

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says Mr Sanchez's human rights group, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, is illegal but tolerated by the country's Communist authorities. Mr Sanchez said the families of four men had been told by the authorities they would be moved to jails closer to home. Felix Navarro and Antonio Diaz, who were sentenced to 25 and 20 years and jailed in the central province of Ciego de Avila, had been taken to jails in Matanzas and Havana City, he told the AFP news agency. Diosdado Gonzalez, serving a 20-year sentence, was sent from Pinar del Rio in the west to his home province of Matanzas, Mr Sanchez added. The archbishop's office also named Jose Luis Garcia, Ivan Adolfo Hernandez and Arnaldo Ramos.