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Cuba Chronicle of Events
Issue No. 49 • March 1-15, 2008


Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima News Agency (Russia) in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (U.S.A). This edition is based on reports from PRIMA-News, Bitacora Cubana, CubaNet, Puente Informativo Cuba Maiami, Martí Noticias, Reuters, Ukraine Daily, Lenta.Ru, Associated Press, Gazeta.Ru, Directorio Democrático Cubano, RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS.

OPPOSITION

03/03/2008
Liberal Unity Admits New Members

The Cuban opposition movement Liberal Unity of the Republic of Cuba (ULRC) held a meeting on February 27 in Havana to welcome several new members seeking to strengthen the message of liberalism’s virtues on the island.

The ULRC Coordination Council, meeting at the house of Francisco Chaviano González, considered membership applications of several dissident groups and admitted all of them into the ULRC opposition bloc. The coalition is currently co-chaired by the Movement of Oppositionists for a New Republic (Movimiento de Opositores por una Nueva República) and the Group in Support of Change (Grupo de Apoyo al Cambio).

The new members include the Independent Christian Movement of Religious Missionaries in Action (Movimiento Independiente Cristiano Misioneros Religiosos en Acción), Independent Co-Operative of Ceramists of the Pines (Cooperativa de Ceramistas Independientes Pineros) and the Naturpaz Eco-Pacifist Movement (Movimiento Ecopacifista Naturpaz).

More applications for membership will be considered soon, said Francisco Chaviano González.

02/03/2008
Ladies in White’s Co-Founder Dies

Ladies in White co-founder Ana Borrego, mother of the imprisoned dissident Horacio Piña, has died, announced Miriam Leyva, another founder and member of the group. The death “is a grievous loss,” said Leyva. She said Ms. Borrego’s death was the result of sufferings, injustice, pain, distress, and repression carried out by the Castro regime against relatives of political prisoners, added Leyva.

06/03/2008
Cuban Youth Defies Communist Regime

A growing underground network of young people armed with computer memory sticks, digital cameras and clandestine Internet hookups has been mounting some challenges to the Cuban government in recent months, spreading news that the official state media tries to suppress, reported The New York Times.

In February, in Havana, students videotaped a confrontation one of them had with Ricardo Alarcón, the president of the National Assembly. The young Cuban grilled Alarcón on  restrictions imposed on people by the regime. In January, when officials announced a tax on wages of employees of foreign companies, workers erupted in jeers and shouts, a moment also caught on a cellphone camera and passed along by memory sticks. The New York Times reports that the government can no longer control all information, as Cubans obtain access to the Internet, visit banned web pages, and copy information the regime is trying to conceal.

07/03/2008
Independent Librarians Mark Anniversary

Several peaceful pro-democracy groups and librarians marked the tenth anniversary of the Independent Libraries in Cuba Project, which was initiated in 1998.
Minerva Pérez of the Federation of Latin American Rural Women (FLAMUR) said that everyone present was there to pay their respect to the founders and participants in the Independent Libraries Project. The libraries are offering to Cubans books censored by the regime for telling the truth, she continued.

José Hidalgo of Concentración Democrática praised “people in exile” for their continuing help and support for independent libraries and remembered those “founders of the Project who are no longer with us for various reasons.” Mairim Guerra from the Leandro de Jesús Peñalver Library, which hosted the event, told the group that the library had already gained a great deal of experience working with children of all ages and organizing conferences involving various segments of society. The key principal of the library’s work was “constant contact with people.”

Representatives of other organizations attended, including the Movement of Racial Integration (Movimiento de Integración Racial), The People’s Party (Partido del Pueblo), and the Melinda Gates Democratic Foundation of Cuba  (Fundación Democrática Cubana “Melinda Gates”). All of the organizations attending house independent libraries at their headquarters.

12/03/2008
Cuban Opposition Strongly Criticizes EU’s Luis Michel for Government-Only Visit

Cuban opposition groups have voiced frustration with EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel’s visit to Cuba. He returned to Brussels without meeting any pro-democracy activists.

The leader of the Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas told the EFE Spanish news service that if Michel’s visit was intended to herald a fresh start for relations between Cuba and the European Union, then it reflected an utter disregard for the rights and freedoms of the Cuban people.

Former political prisoner and economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe criticized the commissioner for ignoring Cuban society and listening only to the government. Miriam Leyva of the Ladies in White expressed concern that Michel is prepared to compromise for the sake of getting some easy results, such as the release of some political prisoners. Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, a leading member of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, told EFE that Michel’s visit yielded meager results because the European official ignored the voice of Cuban civil society.

13/03/2008
Prisoner from Group of 75 Urges a Non-Cooperation Campaign

José Daniel Ferrer García, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75 has called upon Cubans to join a non-cooperation campaign against the communist regime. He made his appeal to mark the fifth anniversary of the Black Spring, the 2003 crackdown in which 75 pro-democracy activists, including himself, were arrested and jailed.  The 75 intellectuals and dissidents were all sentenced to lengthy prison terms totaling more than 1,600 years.

Ferrer García told Radio Martí on the phone that the people of Cuba want to live in freedom and they deserve to do so. Cubans living on the island do not want dictatorship, he said, and “I don’t see any obstacles for the government to hold free elections in the country.”

12/03/2008
Cuban Dissidents Urge Government to Respect Human Rights Pacts

A group of Cuban dissidents has demanded that the Raul Castro government comply with the two human rights documents Cuba has recently signed at the United Nations, and asked it to publish the full texts of the documents in the official press. Felipe Ramón Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs, recently signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which came into effect in the mid—1960s.

Cuban National Liberal Party chairman León Padrón Ascuy voiced the demand in a statement released in Havana.  The statement calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, abolition of Law 88 [Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba ---- which criminalizes any speech critical of the regime] and other laws that define “dangerousness” as a criminal offense, revision of the Penal Code, and compliance with U.N. rules for the treatment of prisoners. The opposition party welcomed the signing of the human rights covenants, but expects other deeper changes that would put an end to the erroneous policy imposed on the Cuban people for 50 years as occurred in the former Soviet Union.

POLITICAL REPRESSION

02/03/2008
Opposition Leader Tells about Repression in Havana

Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, leader of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, reported that ten dissidents were beaten and nine arrested on March 1 in downtown Havana while distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Roque told EFE Spanish news service that four women and six men were distributing copies of the Universal Declaration outside a police station when a plain-clothes policeman attacked journalist Guillermo Fariñas, snatched copies of the documents, and threw them on the ground. According to Roque, police attacked herself, Fariñas, Lourdes Esquivel, Idania Llanes,  Iris Pérez, Jorge Luis García Pérez, Félix Bonne Carcassés, Lucas Gálvez, José Díaz Silva, and Carlos Cordero. In an interview with EFE, Roque said police beat and manhandled her, harming her shoulder, but did not arrest her. Police forced Roque and Bonne into police cars and drove them to their homes. The others were taken to a police station. The police confiscated all copies of the Declaration.

05/03/2008
Juan Bermúdez Toranzo Sentenced to 4 Years

Prisoner of conscience Juan Bermúdez Toranzo, who was arrested by State Security agents and National Revolutionary Police in the early hours of November 21, 2007, faced a staged trial on March 4 by the Castro regime. The human rights activist was sentenced to four years in prison.

Juan Carlos González Leyva, general secretary of the Council of Investigators of Human Rights in Cuba, told the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate that the trial was held under “tight security.” Police, State Security, and paramilitary pro-government groups surrounded the court building. The hearing was held behind closed doors, and only relatives of Toranzo and some witnesses were allowed in to the courtroom.

Before his arrest, Toranzo had staged several protests outside a police station at Cambute, where he lived, against continuous threats aimed at him. Leyva denounced the trial as an act of lawlessness. “We denounce this sort of court hearings in Cuba. The government of Cuba, which has just signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, continues to attack peaceful dissidents on the streets for distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and carries out summary trials.” According to González Leyva, at least 11 rights activists are held in jails pending trials on charges of disagreement with the government.

12/03/2008
Political Arrests on the Rise in Cuba

The Cuban Democratic Directorate, a Miami-based group that supports Cuban dissidents, announced on March 12 that politically motivated arrests are on the rise on the island, with more than 350 political arrests occurring last year and an additional 250 people detained since January.

The group receives its information directly from human rights activists on the island, including an umbrella group formed last May. The directorate receives U.S. funding. The group has expressed concern that more than a dozen prisoners died in Cuban jails last year due to guard beatings, lack of medical attention, or suicide.

12/03/2008
Student Expulsion from Pinar del Río University Confirmed

A week after his physical expulsion from Pinar del Río University, Néstor Pérez González has received a written notice of expulsion signed by Dean Luis Faustino Pérez at the Chair of Social and Humanitarian Sciences. According to the student, the document stated the measure was taken to prevent disdain for good order and disrespect for teachers, while in fact he was punished for speaking out his mind about the political and social situation in Cuba.

14/03/2008
Four FLAMUR Members Arrested

Four members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR) were arrested and threatened on March 8 in Pinar del Río while gathering signatures in support of the group’s campaign “With the Same Coin.”

FLAMUR activist María Luisa Cartaya Vargas said on in a phone interview that she was detained at nine in the morning together with Yulié Margarita Rodríguez Báez, Dianelis Rodríguez Morejón and Ana Luisa Santana Hernández. The four women were taken in a police patrol car to a local National Revolutionary Police station where they were interrogated and threatened with imprisonment if they continued their campaigning. They were released at five in the evening, after spending eight hours in detention.
 

POLITICAL PRISONERS

07/03/2008
Political Prisoner Held without Medicine, Sunlight

Verónica López León said on March 3 she held Cuba’s State Security responsible for the deplorable conditions her daughter has to endure at a women’s prison in Matanzas. She said her daughter, Daisy Mercedes Talavera López, an activist of the Democratic Party 30 of November “Frank País,” has been locked away in a punishment cell that has no sunlight and been denied access to medicine because she has refused to be interviewed by a political police officer called Tamayo.

Daisy Mercedes is being held at the Bellote women’s prison in Matanzas province. She was accused of “assault” and “disrespect,” after she placed on her home a poster that read: “Freedom without exile for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.” Benito Ortega Suárez, a representative of the“Frank País” party in Matanzas province, held State Security and provincial prison authorities responsible for Daisy Mercedes’ life and health.
 

GOVERNMENT

29/02/2008
Cuba Signs U.N. Human Rights Pacts

Cuba has signed two U.N. human rights pacts, saying the application of the documents would depend on the lifting of the 45-year-long U.S. trade and economic embargo against the communist-ruled island.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on February 28 at the U.N. headquarters in New York. The two covenants were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1966 in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The economic, trade, and financial embargo and Washington’s policy of hostility and aggression against Cuba constitutes the most serious obstacle to the enjoyment by the Cuban people of the rights protected by the covenants,” Perez Roque said after conferring with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

Perez Roque stressed that “as far as the scope and application of several of the elements contained in these international instruments, Cuba will register those reservations or interpretative declarations it considers relevant.”  He continued that, “The act of signing both covenants responds to a sovereign decision of the Cuban government.” He added that Cuba wants to develop “normal relations” with Washington, but “the ball is on their side of the court now” but saying the embargo has to be lifted

REFUGEES

05/03/2008
In Reversal, Cuba Abandons Plans to Skip Beijing Olympics

Contrary to Fidel Castro’s opinion, Cuba’s national boxing team might go to the Beijing Olympics. In August, 2007, the Cuban government barred Cuban boxers from competing in the world championships in Chicago and other qualifying events leading to the Beijing Olympics in order to prevent possible defections.

“The athlete who abandons his delegation is not unlike the soldier who abandons his fellow men in the midst of combat,” said Fidel Castro. “Cuba will not sacrifice one bit of honor, nor any of its ideas, for Olympic gold medals,” Castro wrote in a column in official newspapers. “The morale and patriotism of its athletes shall prevail above all else.”

The latest high-profile defection of Cuban boxers occurred during the Pan American Games in Brazil in July 2007 when five athletes abandoned its team. Two of them, Guillermo Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic bantamweight champion, and Erislandy Lara, a welterweight world champion, were later arrested at a coastal resort place near Rio de Janeiro and returned to Cuba. The Cuban government was analyzing all possible alternatives, “including changing the list of boxers or not sending a delegation at all, despite the penalties that follow,” stated Fidel Castro in his August 2007 reflections on the matter, RIA Novosti reported. Fidel Castro did not rule out expelling the two boxers from the national team.

Now, the Cuban national boxing team will compete in a pre-Olympic tournament to be held in Trinidad & Tobago and hopes to win 11 slots to the Beijing games. The best Cuban fighters will go to the tournament, including Andry Laffita, Idel Torriente, Yordenis Ugas, Emilio Correa, Osmay Acosta, and Robert Alfonso. A reserve national team will be getting ready for a pre-Olympic tournament in Guatemala in April 2008. At this stage, the Cuban boxing team has not earned any places in the Olympic Games. However, Cuba is still considered to be a boxing power. Cuban amateur boxers won five gold medals, two silver, and one bronze in Turin, Italy, in 2004 and altogether have fifty-five Olympic medals to their credit.

06/03/2008
Refugees Deported by U.S. Are Arrested in Cuba

Cuban authorities arrested and jailed a deaf-mute couple deported in February by the United States to Cuba together with their children. Silvia Yanelis Véliz Querol and her husband fled Cuba on a boat that was intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service issued the deportation order as part of current U.S. policy that returns any Cubans who are intercepted at sea but allows Cubans who reach shore to remain in the U.S. The mother of Silvia Yanelis Véliz Querol said on March 5 that a few days after the couple returned to the island with their children Cuban authorities jailed the parents, separating them from their children aged 7 and 1 years old.

U.S. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) sent a letter on March 5 to Emilio Gonzales, chief of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, asking him to urgently investigate the case and grant the family refugee protection visas as soon as they are released from prison.

12/03/2008
Five Cuban Footballers Desert National Team

Five players of the Cuban under-23 soccer team disappeared from their hotel in Tampa, Florida on the night of March 12 after 1-1 draw with the United States. Their current whereabouts are unknown. The deserters are believed to be on their way to Miami where they are expected to seek political asylum. According to team coach Raul Gonzales, the defectors are Jose Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia Baro, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez, and Loanni Prieto. Bermudez, 22, is team captain, and Miranda, 21, is starting midfielder.

The Cuban team came to Tampa to compete in a qualifying tournament for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. After its game against the U.S., it faces Honduras on March 13. If the five defectors do not return, the team will be left with only 13 players, one of whom, Roberto Linares, was serving a one-match suspension for receiving a red card in the game against the United States.
Prior to this incident, five Cuban footballers have abandoned their team during tournaments in the United States in recent years. Rey Angel Martinez and Alberto Delgado defected during the 2002 Gold Cup in Los Angeles. Maykel Galindo bolted from the team’s Seattle hotel during the 2005 Gold Cup, and Lester More and Osvaldo Alonso did the same last year in Houston.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

27/02/2008
Vatican Urges U.S. to Lift Economic Embargo on Cuba

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone described the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba as “ethically unacceptable.”

The Cardinal reaffirmed the Vatican’s negative attitude to economic sanctions against the island nation during a joint press conference on February 25 with Cuba’s Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque. Quoting the late Pope John Paul II, the Holy See says that the embargo on Cuba is ethically unacceptable. The absence of trade is an oppression of the Cuban people and it is not a way of helping them obtain dignity and independence, said the cardinal. The embargo violates the independence of the people of Cuba, he added.

Cardinal Bertone called on the U.S. government to ease rules for reuniting Cuban families separated as a result of massive migration of Cubans to the United States and offered to facilitate the process. Under current law, Cubans living in the United States are allowed to visit their relatives in Cuba only once in three years.

24/02/2008
United States: Post-Fidel Cuba Should Start Transition Toward Democracy

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed the U.S. position that after Fidel Castro’s withdrawal from power Cuba should begin a process of peaceful, democratic change to enable its people to become “masters of their own lives” in a statement of the State Department. She urged the international community to work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions necessary for democracy.

“The Cuban people, facing the legacy of five decades of tyranny, merit our solidarity and support as they seek to construct a brighter future,” the U.S Secretary of State added. “We urge the Cuban government to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections.”

04/03/2008
Reflections by "Comrade Fidel"

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro denounced Colombia after it flew troops into Ecuador on March 1 to kill a senior rebel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and a group of his fighters.

A total of 17 rebels died in combat and air strikes in Ecuador, including Raul Reyes, the official spokesman for the FARC. After the operation, Ecuador and Venezuela closed their embassies in Colombia and ordered deployment of troops to the border with Colombia. Colombia has said there were incriminating documents seized from the FARC rebel camp during the operation that suggest Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez have been supporting the leftist rebels’ insurgency. Ecuador and Venezuela have denied the allegations.

In a column devoted to the topic in Granma, Castro wrote, “Imperialism has just committed a monstrous crime in Ecuador.” He continued, “If we accept that imperial method of warfare and barbarism, Yankee bombs directed by satellites could fall on any group of Latin American men and women, in the territory of any country, war or no war.”

After stepping down from power on February 19, Fidel Castro announced he would continue to “fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas” and would continue to contribute his regular columns for Granma, the ruling Communist Party daily. The ailing leader used to write under the heading of “Reflections by President Fidel Castro”; now his essays come under the heading of “Reflections by Comrade Fidel.”

07/03/2008
EU Commissioner Visits Havana

EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel arrived in Havana to gauge the political climate for continuing a political dialogue initiated last year by Spain. Michel is expected to have talks with Cuba’s Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and might meet with President Raúl Castro. Javier Nino, the European Commission’s charge d’affaires in Havana, said the time had come to try to restore normal ties between Brussels and Havana through a constructive and open dialogue.

Michel announced he would not meet with Cuban dissidents during the visit, but would discuss human rights issues with the Cuban government. Michel welcomed as a positive development Cuba’s decision to sign two U.N. human rights pacts and the release in February of four political prisoners. Michel did not say he would press the Cuban government to free any more political prisoners.

10/03/2008
Bush Praises Eastern European Countries Supporting Cuba

U.S. President George W. Bush praised Eastern European countries for denouncing human rights violations in Cuba. Bush praised what he called a “small band of brave nations” that have “consistently” condemned abuses by Havana, according to The Miami Herald. The countries speaking out for freedom in Cuba, Bush said, include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The White House is at odds with other EU member countries and Canada that believe Raul Castro would improve the human rights situation on the island.

10/03/2008
EU Might Scrap Sanctions against Cuba

EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said at the end of his three-day visit to Cuba that the European Union should drop sanctions against Cuba.

The EU adopted sanctions against Cuba in June 2003 after a crackdown in which 75 dissidents were arrested and sentenced to more than 1,600 years in prison in what has come to be known as Cuba’s “Black Spring.” They were sentenced for alleged collaboration with the United States to undermine the government. Although some have been released on medical parole, most of the political prisoners remain in prison.

“I am convinced that the EU must find a way to unlock this situation. Economic and political sanctions should be definitely eliminated . . . a situation of political immobility by the European Union would be a big mistake,” said Luis Michel.

07/03/2008
Italian Radical MEPs Table Inquiry to EU Commission Ahead of Michel’s Visit to Cuba

Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the European Parliament (Radical Party) and EU rapporteur on human rights, issued a statement on March 7 ahead of EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel’s visit to Cuba, saying “We believe Michel should expand his agenda to meet with those pro-democracy dissidents who, like Marta Beatriza Roque Cabello of the Radical Party, have been granted temporary release from jail on health grounds.”

Later in the day, Cappato and his fellow MEP Marco Pannella, leader of the Transnational Radical Party, tabled an inquiry to the European Commission, asking what measures it is going to take to secure the release of all Cuban citizens held behind bars for exercising their right to freedom of opinion given Cuba’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights that enshrine freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

14/03/2008
Mexico, Cuba to Normalize Relations

Mexico and Cuba have agreed to fully restore their bilateral relations during a visit to Cuba by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa, reported Mexican mass media.

Diplomatic relations between Mexico and Cuba had chilled because of the countries’ disagreement over a model of Latin American integration. The countries’ leaders sometimes got caught up in such a fierce political debate that they traded personal insults, threatened to recall their ambassadors and even to break off diplomatic ties. Cuba and Mexico reached a crisis point in their relations in July 2006 when Fidel Castro refused to recognize Felipe Calderon’s slim victory in Mexico’s elections, by just 0.58% of the vote.

“Relations between Mexico and Cuba are completely normal and a new chapter of cooperation has been opened,” Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said after meeting with his Mexican counterpart.  Perez Roque said the Cuban President Raul Castro has invited Mexican President Felipe Calderon to make an official visit to Cuba as soon as it is convenient for him. Perez Roque said he would travel to Mexico in September.

According to a joint statement issued after the talks, Cuba and Mexico have agreed to reactivate a dozen mechanisms of bilateral cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, migration and education. Cuba also officially announced its decision to support Mexico’s candidacy as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period from 2009 to 2010.

Espinosa told reporters the talks in Havana were held in a friendly and open atmosphere. She expressed confidence Mexico and Cuba would overcome in the very near future whatever differences there are, including such thorny issue as illegal migration.

THE ECONOMY

03/03/2008
Cuba’s Vice Premier Unveils Plan to Boost Country’s Economy

Cuba’s Vice President Carlos Lage unveiled a plan to reinvigorate key sectors of the country’s economy, including its construction and food industries, AFP reports, citing the Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) newspaper as its source. Lage also underscored the need to step up Cuba’s production capacity and reduce its level of imports, reported Prensa Latina.

The announcement came a week after the National Assembly chose Raul Castro as president. Sugar and tourism are traditionally Cuba’s main sources of income. Unlike most countries in the world, Cuba is a planned socialist economy.

SOCIAL ISSUES

12/03/2008
Underage Sex Trade in Cuba

The U.S. Department of State says in its annual country report on human rights that despite the prohibition on trafficking in humans in Cuban law there were cases of sexual exploitation of minors in the sex trade as well as forced labor by children.

Trafficking victims came from all over the country, the document adds, and most worked in the major cities and tourist resort areas. According to available information regarding prostitution, victims generally came from poor families seeking the additional income that such activities could provide, but other sources reported the phenomenon at all levels of society, involving even families of government officials.

The State Department document states that there was evidence, on an individual basis, that law enforcement personnel and workers in state?run hotels were complicit in the commercial sexual exploitation of children to cater to sex tourists.

14/03/2008
Cubans Face Bread Shortages

Over a thousand consumers that buy subsidized bread at eight government-run bakers’ outlets in Ranchuelo, Villa Clara province, are suffering from irregular supply of bread.

A local resident, Orestes Suárez Torres said these bread shops, including El Siboney, El nuevo frente, El caney, and La primera de Rancho Grande, don’t receive bread every day because of production problems at La Reforma bread factory.

Suárez Torres said the factory’s management blamed faulty equipment for the severe shortages. However, workers at the factory claim prolonged disruptions of bread supply have been caused by a shortage of raw materials.

Mario González López, who buys bread at La primera de Rancho Grande, said: “Isn’t it a mockery of the problem. They say there is no bread, but when a government inspection commission led by Vice Chairman of the Council of State Carlos Lage came to Ranchuelo, five sorts of bread the locals have never seen in their daily living experience were brought before them.”

OTHER NEWS

13/03/2008
Cuba Lifts Ban on Computer and DVD Player Sales

Cuba’s President Raul Castro has issued an order lifting a ban on the sale of computers and DVD and video players, as well as some other electronic appliances. This will ease daily life of Cubans, said a spokesman for the government.
 


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The Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima News Agency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Items are reproduced with permission and attribution from other news agencies. Please direct inquiries and comments to Editor, Cuba Chronicle of Events, Prima-News at prima@prima-news.ru or to idee@idee.org.