No. 64 • November
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 Miami, Martí
Noticias, Directorio Democrático Cubano, Associated Press,
Xinhua, Reuters, NEWSru.com, Echo Moskvy, BBC, and Deutsche Welle.
White Gather for Traditional
March in Havana
they do every Sunday, Ladies
in White held a prayer in Havana
on November 23 for the release of Cuban prisoners of conscience. The
activists and their supporters from other women’s organizations
attended a Mass
at Havana’s Santa Rita
then silently marched down Havana’s
took part in the peaceful protest on behalf of political prisoners and
families. Ladies in White was formed in 2003 by wives, mothers, and
female relatives of the dissidents imprisoned in Cuba’s
White Expect Support from
in White hope
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will show solidarity with them when
visits Cuba in February. A spokeswoman of the group, Laura
Pollán said in Havana
that there are people in Cuban jails who have been imprisoned only for
to exercise their right for freedom of expression and freedom of
with the aim of advancing freedom, prosperity, and social progress of
Says the Situation in Cuba
dissident Oscar Espinosa Chepe has
said in Havana
that the Raul Castro government has been refusing to acknowledge
about the situation of civil, political and economic rights. He laid
at the feet of the most conservative and inflexible minds in the
Party. The independent economist expressed frustration that as people’s
expectations for change increase on the island, the reality is a cold
Activist Sentenced to 3 Years in
Monés Borrero, president of
the Miguel Valdés Tamayo Human Rights Movement, was sentenced
this week to
three years in prison. The trial took place on November 26 in Baracoa
province. He was arrested on September 28 in Baracoa.
The dissident’s wife, Matilde Duportais Acosta, informed Radio
Martí of the
Political Prisoner Released on
prisoner Abel López
Pérez has been granted
medical parole, according to the Cuban Democratic Directorate, based in
Miami. López Pérez said
his grueling hunger strike to protest being held under unjust charges
played a role in his release.
Speaking to the
Miami-based Cuban Radio
República, the former political prisoner also
stated that international solidarity
was instrumental in achieving the objectives of his protest. While in Guantánamo
prison, López Pérez went for 39
days without food,
beginning October 5 of this year.
to Protect Journalists
honored an imprisoned
Cuban reporter held in Agüica
prison in Matanzas
its annual international Press Freedom Award. The journalist,
Gutiérrez was arrested in the “Black Spring” crackdown on
journalists and other dissidents in 2003.
He received his
award in absentia at an
awards ceremony held
at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
The ceremony featured public remarks by representatives of television
broadcasting companies from CNN, CBS, and NBC and The New York Times.
All of them praised Maseda
Gutiérrez for his journalistic work, and lauded other
working in extremely difficult conditions in Uganda,
In a letter to
the CPJ, Maseda Gutiérrez
wrote that he was proud to
receive the 2008
Press Freedom Award and that it “truly inspires me to continue my
the pursuit of freedom of expression in Cuba.” Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
and Reporters Without Borders have urged the Raul Castro regime to
release Héctor Maseda
Conscience Calls for Unity
of the Cuban
Marrero, a prisoner of conscience from the Group of 75 who is serving a
term in Pinar del Río province, has
called on the Cuban opposition to join forces in their struggle for
against the ruling regime. In a statement read by him over the
from prison, González Marrero also said that only the United States could salvage his country.
Marrero, 46, president of the Party of Peace, Democracy, and Freedom,
arrested in the 2003 “Black
Spring” crackdown on dissidents and is serving a 20-year prison term.
Protect Journalists Starts
Release of Cuban Journalist
Amanpour, CNN’s chief international
correspondent, has launched a petition urging the Raul Castro regime to
Cuban journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez. At a CPJ awards
dinner on November
25, Amanpour presented the 2008 International
Press Freedom Award to the Cuban prisoner of conscience, who is
a 20-year-term in Agüica prison in Matanzas
province. During the ceremony held at New
York’s famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the CNN
correspondent asked the 800 persons present to read a letter Maseda Gutiérrez smuggled from
which he promised to keep “seeking the truth or die trying” and to sign
petition she was initiating.
Castro’s New Book Criticizes Columbia’s
new book by Fidel Castro was released on November 12 at
a Havana ceremony
that did not include the
Comandante, although one of his sons was there.
book, which Castro reportedly
spent more than
400 hours working on, is called La Paz
(Peace in Colombia)
and it explores Cuba’s
role in attempts to end Colombia’s
civil war. In it, Castro criticizes Colombia’s
guerrilla group that has been waging war against the Colombian state.
FARC has never had formal backing from the Cuban government.
Photograph of Fidel Castro
Released in Four Months
new photograph of former
Cuban leader Fidel Castro was published on
November 14 on the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church. The
picture was taken on October 20 during the meeting of Fidel Castro with
Russian Orthodox Church’s senior official, Mitropolitan Kirill during
to Cuba. It shows Castro standing in a track suit
and holding Mitropolitan Kirill’s arm for support,
official image of Castro
was released on June 17, 2008 from a meeting
with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. He has not been
seen in public since summer 2006, when he underwent emergency
Castro: Obama Won’t Change
Anything in U.S.
Barack Obama will not bring change to the United States and will not change anything in U.S.
policy, Fidel Castro said in an Internet
column. “Many dream that with the
simple change in the
leadership of the empire, it will be more tolerant and less bellicose,”
writes. According to him, it would be naive to believe the good
intentions of “one intelligent person could change what centuries
interests and selfishness have created.” Castro was dismissive of
President George Bush’s statement that the G20 summit in Washington
able to accomplish a “new financial world order.”
Becomes Official Member of Rio Group
has become a full member of the Rio Group of Latin American and
Nations, a Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said on November
13. Cuba joined the Group at a foreign ministers
meeting in Zacatecas, central Mexico,
according to local media. The meeting was
attended by Cuba’s Vice Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno.
President Medvedev to Visit Cuba
presidential spokeswoman Natalia Timakova revealed that President
Medvedev would visit Cuba
on November 27. Cuba is the last stop of Medvedev’s tour of Latin America, which
includes taking part in the APEC
(Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Peru.
President Hu Jintao Arrives in Cuba;
President of the People’s
Republic of China Hu Jintao arrived on
November 17 in Cuba for an official
visit as part of a Latin American trip. Just before his
Costa Rica for Cuba, Hu Jintao said that during his visit the two
would sign a dozen bilateral agreements to “further expand” ties
two countries and would exchange views on international issues of
concern. This is Hu’s second visit to Cuba
since assuming full leadership in November 2004.
On November 18,
Fidel Castro had a
“fraternal meeting” with
visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao showing that Cuba
“friendly ties.” According to official press reports from Cuba,
the parties discussed the current “complicated situation” in the world
as new bilateral agreements between Beijing
and Havana. Cuban state
broadcast a picture of Fidel Castro meeting with Hu Jintao. It showed
Castro standing next to the Chinese leader, wearing a red, white and
suit -- the colors of the island nation’s flag. Castro
formally stepped down as the leader of Cuba
in February this year, citing a critical health condition, and he was
by his brother Raul.
President to Make First Visit to Venezuela
official trip abroad since assuming Cuba’s
presidency will be to Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a
letter from Castro stating his intention on November 17 and will
date of his Cuban counterpart’s visit soon. Chavez said he was pleased
had chosen Venezuela over Brazil, China, Russia, and other countries as his first
President Michelle Bachelet
Accepts Invitation to
Michelle Bachelet has accepted an invitation by the Cuban government to
the Havana International Book Fair in February 2009. Bachelet will be Chile’s
first president to visit Cuba
since the trip of Socialist Salvador
Allende, who ruled the country from 1970 to 1973. Chilean
politicians are divided over what
their policies should be toward the Cuban regime. Some politicians
engagement with communist Cuba
will force it to open up, while others say Cuba’s
poor human rights record should argue
against changing policy.
EU Sign Agreement
European Union and the government of Cuba
signed an agreement on November 26 that the EU will donate over 32
Euros to Cuba
next year to repair homes ravaged by recent hurricanes and to bolster
environmental protection and disaster preparedness. Stefano Manservisi,
the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development, and
Vice Minister of Foreign Investment, signed the document in Havana.
follows a formal resumption
relations between the EU and Cuba
in October, following five years of sanctions and suspended relations
due to Cuba’s
imprisonment of 75 dissidents in March 2003.
Raul Castro Is
Open to Meeting Obama at Guantánamo
Castro is open to meeting U.S. President-elect Barack
Obama, Raul Castro said in an interview with U.S.
actor Sean Penn for The Nation, a
left-wing weekly magazine.
leader said he would prefer to
meet Obama “on
neutral ground” and suggested the
American naval base at Guantánamo Bay. Cuba’s
main focus in such a meeting would be on normalizing trade, Castro
never had anything against the American people. Good relations will
both countries,” he added. Raul Castro gave this interview before the U.S.
presidential election of 2008 took place.
had said he would be willing to meet with Raul Castro without
that after taking office he would lift restrictions on family travel
remittances to Cuba, but would keep the trade embargo on Cuba.
Castro, who stepped down from the presidency in February for health
called Obama the most progressive candidate for U.S.
Dmitry Medvedev Visits Cuba
President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Havana from Venezuela on November 27. The Russian president and
Cuban President of the Council of State Raul Castro are expected to
agreements on offshore oil exploration and nickel processing. Unlike a
visit to Venezuela, Medvedev’s tour to Cuba
will be mainly about trade and investment,
not military cooperation.
are willing to be involved in oil drilling offshore Cuba
and to invest in a nickel-processing plant.
According to recent reports, Moscow might offer Cuba
to help renovate its crumbling Soviet-era
air defense system. But Cuba
may not be willing to risk worsening relations with the United
States at a time when the new tenant
going to take over the White House. Before Medvedev’s visit to Cuba,
Raul Castro said in an interview that he would be willing to meet
President-elect Barack Obama at the American naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
Medvedev’s visit to Latin
America comes on the heels of a trip by Chinese President
Expects to Achieve Annual Record for Its Tourism Sector
expects to set a new record this year for foreign vacationers, said First Deputy
Minister of Tourism Alexis Trujillo, who attended a symbolic ceremony
welcome Cuba’s 2 millionth
tourist of 2008. According to Trujillo, Cuba’s
most famous beach
resort, Varadero, will for the first time attract 1 million foreign
alone this year.
Trade Thriving Despite the
Despite the U.S.
trade embargo against Cuba,
the island has spent a record $536 million for American agricultural
through the third quarter, announced the U.S. Trade and Economic
in Washington D.C.
Last year, Cuba bought $437.6
million in farm commodities from the United States, up from $340.4
2006. From 2002 to 2005, Cuba’s purchases of U.S. food — mostly wheat, corn, soy
products, rice and chicken — totaled $1 billion.
Kamaz Trucks to Be Assembled in Cuba
maker OAO KAMAZ is considering setting up an
assembly line to produce 500 trucks annually in Cuba. “To
further develop the automobile business in Cuba and strengthen KAMAZ’s
the country’s market, we and the Cuban side are considering the
establishing a trade and service company to sell, service and repair
trucks, as well as an assembly facility with a production capacity of
trucks a year,” KAMAZ said in a press release. In 2008, 203 KAMAZ
delivered to Cuba as part of a Russian loan.
Firms Plan to Search for Oil,
Nickel Offshore Cuba
investments in Cuba’s oil and nickel
industries, Russian Ambassador to Cuba Mikhail Kamynin told the Cuban
He made his comments days ahead of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s
visit. Kamynin said there were deals under consideration with specific
firms to search for hydrocarbons in Cuba’s
zone in the Gulf of Mexico as well as to build
oil tankers and pipelines.
said Russian firms
would like to help Cuba build crude oil
storage tanks, modernize pipelines, and play a role in Venezuelan
refurbish a Soviet-era refinery in the
port city of Cienfuegos. Cuban scientists claim the country may have
over 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil in its offshore fields in
the Gulf of Mexico. Cuba has signed joint
operating agreements with
companies from several countries to explore Cuban waters. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
visited Cuba in October for the signing of agreements freeing state-run
Petroleo Brasileiro SA to invest $8 million initially for a deep-water
exploration project north of the famed beach resort of Varadero. If
are confirmed, Brazil would produce
natural gas recovered there over the next 25 years.
Owes Billions in Debt to the Paris
hard-currency debt to the Paris Club is $29.7
it the biggest debtor in Latin America and the
largest in the world, the group of creditor nations said in a
statement. According to its web site, Cuba’s
debt to the Paris Club is several times
more than Argentina’s. Peru ranks third among Latin
America’s debtors, followed by Brazil,
Ecuador, and Mexico.
It was the
first time the Paris Club has
figures since the informal group of lending nations was formed 50 years
ago. The group said the gesture was meant to
“enhance transparency on debt data and to encourage all creditors to
a comprehensive debt reporting and disclosure process.” The figures
were as of September 1, 2008.
Movie “Che” to Be
Shown to Cubans
movie about legendary Cuban revolutionary
Ernesto “Che” Guevara, will be shown in Cuba
in December at the New Latin American Film Festival. The
New Latin American Film Festival will show
114 films this year from countries throughout Latin America. “Che
a special presentation not eligible for any of the festival awards.
president Alfredo Guevara said in
July that “Che”
would not be shown if it included any “attacks” against Castro, the
82-year-old who led Cuba
for 49 years after taking power in the 1959 revolution. His brother
replaced him as president in February after serving a year-and-a-half
to Cuban Foreign
Pérez Roque, the U.S.
has a 46-year-old trade embargo against Cuba,
would not allow the
director, Steven Soderbergh, to make the movie on the communist-led
film was shot in Spain and Bolivia. Puerto Rican-born
actor Benicio Del Toro played the title role and won the best-actor
the Cannes Film Festival in May, where the film premiered.
Homes Flooded in Eastern
caused a river in eastern Cuba to overflow its banks, flooding highways
more than 2,000 homes. The storm led authorities to evacuate nearly
according to regional authorities. The nickel and cobalt mining operations in
the region have not been affected, authorities said.
United States Uses NGOs to Send Aid to Cuba
among major U.S.-based
humanitarian groups and
humanitarian groups in Havana
helping to get relief assistance to Cubans who have endured a long and
devastating 2008 hurricane season, said
the Spanish-language service of the U.S. State Department. Catholic
Services (CRS) has delivered over $1 million in disaster relief to Cuba,
providing hygiene kits, medical supplies, food, and home repair
its partner, Caritas Cubana, which distributes the aid to Cubans
affected by a
series of hurricanes and tropical storms.
donations collected by
Catholic churches and
volunteer groups in the United States.
By November 14, with the help of the Daughters of Charity in Miami,
CRS had sent 21 shipping containers of relief items. CRS also sent to Cuba
5,000 roofing panels. There are other groups that have sent emergency
assistance to Cuba.
Global Links sent six shipping containers to help Cuban hospitals
hurricane damage. Operation USA
sent emergency assistance to Cuba’s
pediatric hospitals. The Pan American Development Foundation used
donated by Bacardí Limited to provide emergency shelter, food
and hygiene kits
Sánchez Wins in the Best of the Blogs
Yoani Sánchez won top award in the 2008 Best of the Blogs
competition, or BOBs,
for her blog Generación Y
(http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony). BOB, founded by Deutsche Welle, is the
largest international Weblog contest.
daily life in Cuba, including the hardships and worries of ordinary Cubans, and
voice to an entire generation of Cubans. This new generation has grown
midway between West and East and is seeking to find its place in
today’s world. The Cuban blogger told Deutsche Welle in a
difficult it is in Cuba
to write her online diary entries. Sánchez
was not permitted to attend the awards ceremony held in Berlin on
• • •
The Cuba Chronicle of Events is produced by the
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