No. 63 • November
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
reports from PRIMA-News,
Bitacora Cubana, CubaNet, Puente
Informativo Cuba Miami, Martí Noticias, Directorio
AFP, GNsystems.net, eTurboNews, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, AIN, NEWSru.com,
RIA Novosti, SecurityLab, REGNUM, The Wall Street Journal, Associated
Inter-American Commission on Human
Situation in Cuba
In an interview to Radio
Martí, Paolo Carozza, Chairman of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of
States, expressed concern over human rights violations in Cuba.
Carozza said he had
acquainted himself with a testimony of independent Cuban labor leader Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos
during the latest session of the OAS legal team. According to him, the
testimony is very important as it confirms their findings. In its
on human rights, the Commission expressed concern over persistent
human rights and the lack of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.
The Commission will use Álvarez
Ramos’ testimony among
others to produce a comprehensive assessment of the situation on the
be incorporated into its annual report on human rights, which will be
to the forthcoming OAS General Assembly, said Carozza.
Obama’s Election Victory Draws Mixed
Reactions from Cuban
While some were
apprehensive and others hopeful that his victory might lead to
dialogue with the Raul Castro government, Cuban
dissidents on the island saluted the election of Democratic
presidential candidate Barack Obama. All of them have urged the newly
President to show support for the release of political prisoners.
Oscar Espinosa Chepe
told Radio Martí that the election victory of the
African-American Senator “is
very encouraging” for Cubans, while Gisela Delgado Sablón hailed Obama’s victory as the triumph of the
universal idea of democracy. Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas,
however, stated that
change [in Cuba]
would not come from Obama and that only the government and the Cuban
could initiate the process. Héctor Palacios
Ruiz described Obama’s win as a great event for the
world and a big problem for the Cuban regime.
Arco Progresista: Obama’s Election
Proves Castro Regime
Is Lying about Racism in U.S.
Arco Progresista, a dissident group in Cuba,
said Barack Obama’s election victory has opened a “new era of global
post-racism” and proves that the Castro government has been lying about
in the United States.
If the collapse of
the Berlin Wall changed the world, the election of the first
President in the United
deal a crushing blow to political
exclusion based on racial, ideological, religious and cultural
Manuel Cuesta Morúa, a spokesman of the group,
wrote in a statement.
Pro-Democracy Activists Arrested for
Political Prisoner on Hunger Strike
A group of peaceful activists from the
Cuban Youth for
Democracy movement were detained on November 5 in the city of Guantánamo
for showing support for political prisoner Julián Antonio
Monés Borrero. Monés
Borrero was arrested on September 30 after a communist thug assaulted
the street for wearing the T-shirt with the emblem CAMBIO, or “change.”
protest the arrest, Monés Borrero started a hunger strike.
According to the movement’s executive
Mosquera, the activists were arrested while visiting Nerys
García Fournier at
his home. Three of the detained, she said, were released later that
the whereabouts of the rest of the six activists remain unknown.
Political Prisoner’s Mother Worries
about His Health
Ravelo, a member of the Ladies in White
whose son, José Miguel Martínez Hernández, has
been imprisoned since the Black
Spring of 2003, urged Cuban authorities to provide necessary medical
to her son. The health of the prisoner of conscience has deteriorated
dramatically because he doesn’t get the medical treatment he requires.
Unite against Microsoft
and Cuba have agreed on cooperation in information technology,
work to develop free software. Russian Minister of
Shchegolev and Cuban Information Technology and Communications Minister
signed a memorandum on cooperation in information and communication
technologies. A key aspect of Cuba’s
IT policy is to end the island
nation’s dependency on Microsoft.
Introducing free software into government
institutions is to be a priority of the Russian-Cuban endeavor.
the Russian Ministry of Communications, it hasn’t yet been decided what
projects the parties will undertake, but experts say this point of the
agreement has serious political implications, citing the benefit of “Cuba’s
membership in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and
regional economic organizations in Latin America
and the Caribbean.”
In recent times, Cuba
has articulated its software priorities as getting rid of software from
the “bulwark of capitalism in IT.” The island nation is going to join Venezuela
in using open source software, Linux, in its public offices. China,
have already moved to Linux, pushing the open-source operating system
variety of reasons.
Minister Valdés Menéndez repeatedly
called the world’s IT systems a “battlefield” where Cuba
is fighting against imperialism. Earlier, Cuba
had announced it was working on its own
version of Linux, called Nova, based on the Gentoo Distribution. Nearly
hundred students from the Cuban University
of Information Sciences are working on this
project, combining education and software development. Hector Rodriguez,
who oversees their work, said that in
three years half of the public administration would shift to an open
Defects from Uruguay Post
ophthalmologist who has been working in Uruguay
under Operation Miracle, a program started by Cuba
that provides free
surgery to low income patients, has abandoned his medical team to seek
permanent residence in the host country.
the 38-year-old eye doctor from Holguín province, told El
País on November 1
that he did a lot of thinking before taking his decision and
family — a 10-year-old son, his mother, and other relatives. He said
had all necessary Uruguayan documents, a place to live provided by the
country’s government, and proven qualifications in ophthalmology and
clinic that Cuba built and equipped in Uruguay
in November 2007 was opened only in February
this year because the Ophthalmology Society of Uruguay has demanded all
doctors prove their qualifications.
UN General Assembly Tells the U.S.
to Lift Embargo on Cuba
UN member states
have once again voted overwhelmingly to urge the United States to lift its economic
embargo against Cuba,
imposed over 45 years ago. The UN resolution
was passed by 185 countries.
the United States, Israel and Palau, voted against
repealing the embargo. Micronesia and the Marshall
abstained. The UN
General Assembly has issued annual call for an end to the U.S.
embargo for the 17th
time in a row, but Washington has consistently
ignored the demand.
introduced an economic embargo against Cuba
in 1962. Opponents of the embargo claim the measure hurts ordinary
the Cuban regime.
EU: Further Dialogue with Cuba
Depends on Progress in Human Rights Situation
EU Commissioner for External Relations
Ferrero-Waldner said the resumption of relations with the Castro
an important step, but warned that the process of political dialogue
cooperation would continue only if Cuba
speeds progress toward human rights and civil liberties on the island. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner stressed that
the European Union will build its relations with Cuba in a different
the United States, stating that we have to wait and see whether
change its policy toward the island nation.
Cuban Exiles in Miami
Hope Obama Will Change U.S.
Policy on Cuba
There is an air of
expectation among Miami-based Cuban exile
groups who believe that President elect Barack Obama will make good on
promise and change the U.S.
policy toward Cuba.
Janisset Rivero of the Cuban Democratic
that Obama will likely keep his campaign promises and will support
fight for democracy inside Cuba.
Obama has a choice to go behind the people’s back for a bargain with a
persistently repressive government or to offer support to those on the
seeking democracy, said Rivero.
Jaime Suchlicki from the Institute for
Cuban-American Studies, University
of Miami, is certain the
community will split under the incoming Obama administration,
the trade embargo against Cuba.
de Fana, a member of Plantados, a group of former political prisoners,
organization had enjoyed support from George W. Bush in the last years,
as from his predecessor Bill Clinton, and expects to get the same
Cuban Foreign Minister Will Travel to Russia
Foreign Minister Felipe
Pérez Roque will visit Russia
on November 8-12 to “discuss topical
problems in world politics.” The visit will help further augment
dialogue between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cuba and strengthen mutually beneficial
cooperation in different fields, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Nesterenko stated on November 6.
“Serving as the basis for
this is the desire uniting Russia and Cuba
towards the realization in practice of democratic principles in dealing
topical international problems; towards the strict observance of
law, primarily the UN Charter; and towards the strengthening of the
role of the United Nations and its Security Council as a universal tool
maintenance of peace and for resolving conflict situations,” noted
“Also close are the sides’ positions on the main human rights issues
and on the
key aspects of the disarmament process.” He didn’t elaborate on
which holds several hundred political prisoners, so similar to Russia
in terms of human rights.
Nesterenko lauded Cuba
for its approach to international issues. “The Cuban leadership was
first to support Russia’s
actions in connection with Georgia’s
offensive in South Ossetia and our efforts
settling the crisis in the Caucasus,” he said.
the resolution called ‘The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial
Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba’ at UN General
Assembly sessions, and adheres to the line on the inadmissibility of
application of unilateral measures of an exterritorial character in
international relations,” said the Russian foreign ministry official.
to Help Cuba
will assist Cuba in building its own hazards and disaster
preparedness center, reported Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor
Sechin. As Cuba’s
location gives it a high and recurrent risk of natural calamities,
that Russia offered Cuba to build a natural
hazards center at a meeting of
the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission for economic-commercial
scientific-technical cooperation in Havana.
Rules Out Russia’s
Military Presence on the Island
Moscow and Havana haven’t discussed the possible deployment of
a Russian missile system in Cuba.
have cooperation with Russia
in all fields — political, economic, cultural and scientific,” said
Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque during his visit
to Moscow. “And our bilateral cooperation
will never be directed against any third
to the minister, Cuba
acknowledges the right of Russia
to take response measures and to reply to the growing aggression of the
and NATO. However, he has ruled out
installing on the island of a planned Russian missile defense system
re-establishing Russian military presence in the country.
the sudden decision by Russia to shut down the
Lourdes radar base in 2001, the Castro brothers appeared to be unwilling to cooperate
Russia in military endeavors.
The Soviet Union
built its military
intelligence-gathering installation in a suburb of Havana
in 1964. The Lourdes
to intercept practically all communications and electronic messages on
part of U.S.
territory, to monitor U.S.
submarines’ moves and ensure instant communications of Russian
their command center all across the Western Hemisphere.
In July 2000, the U.S. Congress passed a
bill that included
a ban on restructuring Russia’s
debts unless it closed the Lourdes
facility. The outpost was shut down in December 2001. Fidel Castro
upset at the decision, which was taken without asking for his opinion
without consultation with Havana.
Havana Hasn’t Discussed Recognition of Abkhazia
and South Ossetia
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque told reporters
on November 10 in Moscow that “We haven’t yet
discussed the issue of recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but I want to make it
clear that Cuba denounces the aggression
against Ossetia and the West-incited aggression against Russia. We also condemn NATO’s
approach to Russia’s borders and are against
the U.S. plans to build a missile
shield in Central
which will target Russia,” said the Cuban
Obama’s Election Could Ease Cuba
The election of
Barack Obama opens the door for the
U.S. to relax sanctions against Cuba for the first time in more than a
stated an article published in The Wall Street Journal on
In a campaign
speech in Miami in May, Obama went
where presidential candidates have long feared to go by promising to
restrictions on family visits and remittances by Cuban-Americans
help relatives on the island.
At one time, the
Cuban-American voting bloc in
Florida overwhelmingly supported the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba’s
leadership. But during the 2008 elections on November 4, Obama got 35%
usually solid Republican Cuban-American vote in Florida, mostly from
states that Obama is likely to roll
back sanctions put in place by President George W. Bush in 2004 and
advisers say. Those moves restricted Cuban-Americans from visiting
the island more than once every three years, and narrowed the list of
members to whom they can send remittances. “We'll have to see some
the Cubans,” said a person who has advised Barack Obama. “It takes two
tango. Mainly a good first signal is freeing political prisoners. It
took us 50
years to go where we are with Cuba policy. We can’t change that in five days.”
The United States
relaxed sanctions during the
Clinton administration, only to see relations become tense again in
Cuba shot down two unarmed planes flown by members of Brothers to the
Cuban-exile organization. It was after that incident that the embargo
part of law rather than simply presidential policy.
Russia-Cuba Military Cooperation Is
Important but No
Agreements Yet in Moscow
cooperation is an important
component of our close partnership with Cuba,”
stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov after talks with his Cuban counterpart Felipe Pérez Roque in Moscow.
builds military-technical cooperation with Cuba,
as with any other country, solely on the
basis of respect for its international obligations and the norms and
the area of export control. Our Cuban partners act likewise. I believe
this is an important component of our close partnership,” stressed the
Roque, in turn, noted that “cooperation
between Russia and Cuba in the military- technical sphere is
developing normally . . . and every country has the right to define
it will develop such cooperation.”
“Cooperation between Russia
and Cuba in this area will always be directed to
widening the defense capabilities of Cuba,
and will never be directed against any
third country,” reassured the Cuban official. The Cuban
added that “no documents on military-technical cooperation will be
during his visit to Moscow.”
to Join Satellite Navigation System GLONASS
Igor Shchegolev, who arrived on October 30 in Havana for a
working visit, has officially invited Cuba
to join its satellite navigation system,
GLONASS. GLONASS is
designed to tackle various tasks in national economy, Shchegolev said.
It’s a global
system, and any country will benefit from it, the Russian minister
Hurricanes Haven’t Taken Their Toll on
Destinations, Says Tourism Ministry
has received more than 700,000 tourists to
date and the “conditions exist for the year to end with a total of one
visitors” for the first time in the history of tourism on the island,
to Cuban authorities. Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism says its beach resort
has been strengthening its position as a tourist destination. Varadero
total of 17,300 hotel rooms.
hurricanes, Gustav and Ike, have caused severe damage to the
country’s economy, but their toll on the tourism industry itself was
insignificant and already dealt with, Cuban tourism officials claim.
toppled roofs have been repaired, the disturbed landscape reshaped, and
famous Cuban beaches beefed up with sand. Work is underway to upgrade
other amenities, such as lighting, and to improve the quality of
provided. “We are completely back to normal and are ready for the high
said Cuban tourism agency officials.
Buys 150,000 Tons of Canadian Wheat
state-run food import agency Alimport signed a contract with the
Canadian Wheat Board to buy 150,000 metric tons of wheat, reports Cuban
agency AIN. The value of the contract was not disclosed. In the
marketing year, Cuba imported 203.7 thousand metric tons of wheat from Canada,
and in 2006-2007, 98.9 thousand metric
to Grant $330 Million Loan to Cuba
government announced it has granted Cuba a
credit line worth over $330 million for
the purchase of Russian goods and services. Russia
and Cuba signed an intergovernmental agreement on the loan two years
ago, but the
Russian government advised its finance ministry not to approve it until
year. According to previous reports, Russia
has proposed a 5 percent interest rate over 10 years. The funds will be
for rebuilding Cuban enterprises.
Last Master of Cuban Modernist Painting
artist and sculptor Cundo Bermúdez died
on October 30 in Miami at the age of 94,
reports MartiNoticias.com, citing his artistic representative,
was considered to be the last master of the
modernist generation from Cuba.
Born in Havana on September 3, 1914, he
in Cuba and Mexico.
Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros said
in 1943 that
Bermúdez “was an important force in the chromatic spectrum of
In 1944, Bermúdez took part in an
exhibition of Cuban
paintings at the Museum of Modern
Art (MoMA) in New
His two pieces, The Balcony and Barber Shop, are in the permanent
His works were shown at museums in Kansas
City, California, Mexico,
had been honored with awards in Texas,
Paris, and at the
the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington,
DC. In 1994, the premier
Sotheby’s organized a special event to celebrate his 80th
Bermúdez left Cuba
in the late 1960s to live in Puerto Rico and
later in Miami, Florida.
In 1995, the artist took part in protest
for the release of political prisoners in Cuba.
Hurricane Paloma Hits Cuba,
Hurricane Paloma slammed into Cuba’s
southern and eastern parts. According to local authorities, Paloma made
landfall near the town of Santa Cruz
del Sur in Camagüey province, the
residents of which had been evacuated ahead of the storm. No deaths or
were reported in the province.
Paloma hit Cuba
as a Category 4 storm on the five-point international scale, bit
a Category 2 as it moved across the island. Paloma brought torrential
powerful winds. The storm caused considerable damage to the island’s
housing and communications infrastructure. There was storm-surge
some parts on Cuba’s
Forecasters predict Paloma will move
northeast and head
toward the Bahamas.
Cuban officials have taken large-scale
ahead of the storm’s landfall, evacuating nearly 500,000 people from
areas, including foreign tourists.
Hurricane Paloma Destroys Hundreds of
Houses in Cuba
that hit Cuba on November 9 has destroyed hundreds of homes and downed
landfall in southern Cuba,
near the town of Santa Cruz del Sur. The storm’s winds, which reached 215 km per
hour, toppled trees. The storm surge is said to be pushing further into
coastal area, covering it by one kilometer of water in some places.
weakened further from a Category 2 to a Category 1 over Cuba
(according to the five-step Saffir-Simpson
intensity scale). But a hurricane warning is still in effect in some
the country. The government has evacuated 500,000 people from
Although no official
estimate on the losses is available, the damage is clearly extensive.
to some estimates, the losses from Paloma can be compared to Hurricanes
and Ike that inflicted $9.8 billion in economic damage in Cuba.
to Send Emergency Assistance to Cuba
a Los-Angeles-based nongovernmental relief
group, announced on November 9 it will send emergency aid to Cuba
in response to Hurricane Paloma. “As
a result of the hurricane, nearly 440,000 homes were damaged and almost
million people were displaced into temporary shelters,” said Richard
president of Operation U.S.A. “We’re rushing aid to Cuba,
including water purification materials and
medical supplies,” he said.
Chronicle of Events is produced by the Prima
News Agency in Russia in cooperation with the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Please direct
inquiries and comments to
Editor, Cuba Chronicle of Events, Prima-News at
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