Sunday, October 13, 2019


Sabanas Blancas -- Omara Portuondo
Havana 500 years



Havana celebrates 500 years
Cuba’s capital will be celebrating its 500th anniversary this November with festivities to honour this historic half-century milestone.  Havana, founded on November 16, 1519, was originally called San Cristobal de La Habana.  The city's historic centre was named UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982 and the surrounding city declared one of seven global "New 7 Wonders Cities in 2015. 

As part of the anniversary celebrations music will take over public spaces. The Cuban Institute of Music has lined up a series of concerts with the country’s best musicians, taking place every second, third and fourth Saturday each month until the big birthday bash in November. From festivals and cultural shows to theatre productions and art exhibitions — to culminate in November with an exhibition of ‘Footprints on the City’ by 50 Cuban painters, the premiere of  ‘Cecilia Valdés’ and the Alabanza international dance event. On the eve of the anniversary we will have "Habanera Night" -with music, poetry, theatre and food throughout the city, along with fireworks at midnight. Havana is reopening facilities that have sat empty for several years, including the Cuatro Caminos market, currently a shopping centre.

"Everywhere you go in Havana, you will experience the feeling of music in the air. Cuba, especially Havana is one of the main centres of Latin American music and dance," says Eloy Govea, the Cuba Tourist Board’s director for Canada.We encourage people to go outside the resorts, to mingle with locals and visit cities such as Havana. Cuban people are so open, so talkative, so easygoing, so cheerful and willing to share. This year is a perfect opportunity for Canadians to visit and celebrate Havana's 500th anniversary."

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Climate Change and Cuba Highlights Conference Panel -

The Cuban Revolution@60 International Conference

https://www.cubabusinessreport.com/climate-change-and-cuba-highlights-conference-panels/

Square Canada doesn't have a tech issue: it's a Cuban coffee issue    Toronto coffee stand's collection problem stems from U.S. bank's Cuba embargo fears

MONICA MUSTELIER OWNS TORONTO'S LITTLE HAVANA MOBILE COFFEE SHOP. SHE SAYS PAYMENTS
MADE THROUGH SQUARE WERE NOT REACHING HER BANK ACCOUNT (ANDY HINCENBERGS, CBC)

THE OWNERS OF A TORONTO COFFEE STAND SAY SQUARE CANADA HAS TOLD THEM THEY CAN NO LONBER USE THE POPULAR PAYMENT TECHNOLOGY BECAUSE OF CONCERNS THE COFFEE STAND IS SELLING BEVERAGES MADE FROM CUBAN COFFEE BEANS. SQUARE CANADA ALLOWS CUSTOMERS TO TAP OR SWIPE THEIR FINANCIAL CARDS TO PAY FOR THINGS -IN THIS CASE COFFEE FROM TORONTO'S LITTLE HAVANA COFFEE STAND.
LITTLE HAVANA'S CO OWNER, MONICA MUSTELIER, SAID SHE'D BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE TECHNOLOGY COMPANY REGULARLY SINCE LATE AUGUST, AFTER $14,000 IN CUSTOMER PAYMENTS COLLECTED USING SQUARE NEVER MADE IT INTO HER TD CANADA TRUST BANK ACCOUNT.
IN AN EARLIER CBC NEWS REPORT, SHE SAID THE COMPANY LED HER TO BELIEVE THE MISSING MONEY WAS BEING HELD DUE TO PROBLEMS WITH AN "ACQUIRING PROCESSOR." A SQUARE CANADA SPOKESPERSON HAD TOLD CBC NEWS, THE SITUATION WASN'T "ONE-OFF" — BUT WASN'T WIDESPREAD, EITHER.  IT TURNS OUT, THAT'S NOT THE CASE, MUSTELIER SAYS.
ACCORDING TO MUSTELIER, SQUARE CANADA TOLD HER THE TECH COMPANY USES THE U.S. BANK JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. TO PROCESS PAYMENTS, AND THE BANK CANNOT OR WILL NOT RELEASE THE FUNDS DUE TO POTENTIAL CONCERNS OVER LITTLE HAVANA'S CUBAN COFFEE BEANS. "I WAS KIND OF SHOCKED AND MAD, BECAUSE WE'RE A CANADIAN COMPANY USING CUBAN GOODS BOUGHT AND SOLD IN CANADA," MUSTELIER TOLD CBC NEWS MONDAY.
MUSTELIER LEGALLY IMPORTS THE COFFEE BEANS THROUGH A MONTREAL DISTRIBUTOR.




IT'S CURRENTLY 'CASH ONLY' AT THE LITTLE HAVANA MOBILE COFFEE STAND. (ANDY HINCENBERGS/CBC)
MONEY MISSING SINCE AUGUST

TODAY, VALERIE JACKSON, SQUARE CANADA'S COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, CONFIRMED TO CBC NEWS THE ISSUE ISN'T A TECH PROBLEM AFTER ALL.  "I WANT TO CLARIFY THAT SQUARE IS NOT EXPERIENCING A TECHNICAL GLITCH. WHILE I CANNOT SPEAK WITH YOU ABOUT MONICA'S INDIVIDUAL CASE, I CAN TELL YOU THAT SQUARE'S CUSTOMER SUCCESS TEAM SPOKE WITH MONICA YESTERDAY, AND SHE NOW KNOWS THE REASON," SHE WROTE IN AN EMAIL TO CBC NEWS. THE U.S. HAS A FINANCIAL AND COMMERCIAL EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA, SEVERELY LIMITING DEALINGS WITH CUBAN INTERESTS. MUSTELIER IS CANADIAN AND SAYS SHE HAS NO IDEA WHY A U.S. EMBARGO IS AFFECTING HER CANADIAN BUSINESS. "FOR THE U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST CUBA TO AFFECT US SO DIRECTLY IS A SHOCK, BECAUSE I KNOW CANADA AND CUBA HAVE GOOD RELATIONS," SHE SAYS.

MUSTELIER HAD BEEN USING SQUARE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS WITHOUT INCIDENT. THEN, IN LATE AUGUST, THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS SQUARE CANADA WAS SUPPOSED TO TRANSFER INTO HER BANK ACCOUNT NEVER MADE IT.  EVER SINCE, SQUARE CANADA HAD BEEN WORKING WITH MUSTELIER TO FIND OUT WHAT WENT WRONG. "I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY WOULD BE USING A THIRD PARTY IN THE STATES TO PROCESS CANADIAN FUNDS," MUSTELIER SAYS ABOUT SQUARE CANADA'S USE OF THE U.S. BANK. "IF I KNEW SQUARE'S POLICY, I PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE USED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE," SHE ADDS.    SHE SAYS SQUARE CANADA HAS TOLD HER, THE COMPANY IS STILL WORKING ON REFUNDING HER THE $14,000. IN THE MEANTIME, MUSTELIER IS NOW LOOKING FOR A PAYMENT SYSTEM THAT USES CANADIAN BANKS ONLY, TO PROCESS TRANSACTIONS.
CBC NEWS HAS CONTACTED SQUARE CANADA FOR FURTHER COMMENT ON ITS PLANS.

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR:  THE LONG ARM OF US POLICY

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Economic aggression, threats and blackmail will not take away a single concession.

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla on September 29, 2019,
Complete Transcript of Speech by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the 74th General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 28 September 2019, “Year 61 of the Revolution”.
I denounce before the General Assembly of the United Nations that in recent months the Government of the United States has initiated the application of criminal, non-conventional measures to prevent the supply of fuel to our country from various markets, by threatening and persecuting the companies that transport it, the governments of registry and flag, shipping companies and insurance companies.
As a result, we have faced severe difficulties in guaranteeing the supply of fuel required for the daily activity of the country, which has forced us to adopt temporary emergency measures, which would only be possible in an organized country, with a united and supportive people, ready to defend themselves against foreign aggression and to preserve the social justice achieved.
In the past year, the United States Government has qualitatively increased its measures of hostility and blockade against Cuba. It has imposed additional obstacles to foreign trade and increased the persecution of our banking-financial relations with the rest of the world. It has extremely limited travel and any interaction between the two peoples. It hinders the links and contacts of Cubans living in the United States with their homeland.
To this day, the strategy of imperialism against Cuba is guided by the infamous memorandum signed in 1960 by Undersecretary of State Lester Mallory, which I quote:
“There is no effective political opposition (…) The only possible way to make it lose internal support [for the government] is to provoke disillusionment and discouragement through economic dissatisfaction and hardship (…) It is necessary to put into practice quickly all possible means to weaken economic life (…) denying Cuba money and supplies in order to reduce nominal and real wages, with the objective of provoking hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”
The illegal Helms-Burton Act of 1996 guides the aggressive behavior of the United States against Cuba. Its essence is the blatant attempt to question the right to self-determination and independence of the Cuban nation.
It also conceives the imposition of U.S. legal authority and the jurisdiction of its courts over the commercial and financial relations of any country with Cuba in order to violate international law, national jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of third states, and to establish the supposed primacy of the law and the political will of the United States over them.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade continues to be the main obstacle for the development of our country and for the advancement of the process of updating the Socialist Model of Economic and Social Development that our country has drawn up. The new measures particularly affect the non-state sector of our economy.
Every year, the United States allocates tens of millions of dollars from the federal budget to political subversion, with the intention of confusing and weakening the unity of our people, which is articulated with a concerted propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting the Revolution, its leaders, its glorious historical legacy, denigrating economic and social policies in favor of development and justice, and destroying the ideas of socialism.
Last Thursday, on the basis of gross slander, the State Department announced that the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, will not be able to receive an entry visa to this country. It is an action, without practical effect, aimed at outraging the dignity of Cuba and the feelings of our people. It is an electoral crumb that is thrown at the Cuban-American extreme right. However, the open and offensive falsehoods that are used to justify it, and which I reject in the strongest terms, reflect the baseness and rottenness to which this U.S. Government has to resort, drowned in corruption, lies and immorality.
They are all actions that violate international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
The most recent pretext, reiterated here last Tuesday by President Donald Trump, is to blame Cuba for the failure of the plan to forcibly overthrow the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. To hide the Venezuelan people’s prowess, Yankee spokesmen repeatedly use the vulgar slander that our country has “between 20,000 and 25,000 military personnel in Venezuela,” and that “Cuban imperialism exercises dominion” over that country.
A few minutes earlier, that Tuesday, the President of Brazil had used on this podium the booklet of falsehoods written in Washington, augmented by the shameless figure of “some 60,000 Cuban military personnel” in Venezuela.
As part of its anti-Cuban obsession, the current Government of the United States, that Brazil echoes, attacks on the international medical cooperation programs that Cuba shares with dozens of developing countries, aimed at the most needy communities, based on a sense of solidarity and the freely voluntary disposition of hundreds of thousands of Cuban professionals, which are implemented on the basis of cooperation agreements signed with the Governments of those countries, programs that have enjoyed for many years the recognition of the international community, of this very Organization and of the World Health Organization as an exemplary example of South-South cooperation.
As a result of Bolsonaro, many Brazilian communities were deprived of the free, quality health service provided by thousands of Cuban professionals under the “More Doctors” program.
During this period, there has been no lack of threats or the most outraged blackmails, or immoral invitations for our country to betray its principles and its international commitments in exchange for oil under preferential conditions and dubious friendships.
In commemorating the 60th anniversary of the revolutionary triumph with which we Cubans achieved true and definitive independence, First Secretary Raúl Castro said: “… we Cubans are prepared to resist a scenario of confrontation, which we do not want, and we hope that the most balanced minds in the U.S. government can avoid it.”
We have reiterated that, even in the present circumstances, we do not relinquish the will to develop a civilized relationship with the United States, based on mutual respect and recognition of our deep differences.
We know that this is the desire of our people and the sentiment shared by the majority of the people of the United States and the Cubans who live in this country.
I confirm in the same way that economic aggression, however hard as it may be, threats and blackmail will not remove a single concession from us. Whoever knows the history of Cuba in the long struggle for emancipation and in the firm defense of the freedom and justice won, will understand without equivocation the weight, sincerity and authority of these convictions and proposals of our people.
The bilateral relationship between Cuba and Venezuela is based on mutual respect and true solidarity. We unhesitatingly support the legitimate government presided over by comrade Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civil-military union of the Bolivarian and Chavista people.
We condemn the conduct of the United States Government against Venezuela centered on the promotion of coups d’état, assassinations, economic warfare and sabotage of the electricity supply. We reject the application of severe unilateral coercive measures and the dispossession of its assets, companies and export revenues. These actions constitute a serious threat to regional peace and security, and a direct aggression against the Venezuelan population, which is attempting to be defeated by the cruelest means.
We call on everyone to become aware of these facts, to demand the cessation of unilateral coercive measures, to reject the use of force and to encourage respectful dialogue on the basis of the principles of international law and the constitutional order of that country.
A few days ago, the United States and a handful of other countries decided to activate the obsolete Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance that contemplates the use of military force. It is an absurd decision that represents a historical setback and a danger to regional peace and security that seeks to justify, through a legal artifact, intervention in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
It is also a gross violation of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which it’s Heads of State and Government signed in Havana in January 2014. The United States decision to resurrect the disastrous Monroe Doctrine, the instrument of imperialist domination under which military interventions and invasions, coups d’état, military dictatorships and the most horrendous crimes took place in Our America, has a similar meaning.
As we saw a few days ago in this Assembly, the President of the United States often attacks socialism in repeated public pronouncements, for clearly electoral purposes, while promoting a McCarthy intolerance against those who believe in the possibility of a better world and a hope to live in peace, in sustainable harmony with nature and in solidarity with others.
President Trump ignores or tries to hide the fact that neoliberal capitalism is responsible for the growing economic and social inequality that even the most developed societies suffer today and that, by its nature, it encourages corruption, social marginalization, the growth of crime, racial intolerance and xenophobia; and he forgets or ignores the fact that fascism, apartheid and imperialism arose from capitalism.
The Government of the United States leads a gross persecution against political leaders and popular and social movements, through slander campaigns and scandalously manipulated and politically motivated judicial processes, to reverse the policies that, through sovereign control over natural resources and the gradual elimination of social differences, built more just and supportive societies, which represented a way out of the economic and social crisis, and a hope for the peoples of America.
So as they did with the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for whom we demand freedom.
We reject the attempts directed from Washington to destabilize the Nicaraguan government, and we ratify the invariable solidarity with President Daniel Ortega.
We stand in solidarity with the nations of the Caribbean who are calling for legitimate reparation for the horrific aftermath of slavery, as well as the fair, special and differential treatment they deserve.
We reaffirm our historic commitment to the self-determination and independence of the brotherly people of Puerto Rico.
We support Argentina’s legitimate claim to sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia.
The conduct of the current United States Government and its strategy of military and nuclear domination constitute a threat to international peace and security. It maintains nearly 800 military bases worldwide. It advances projects for the militarization of outer space and cyberspace, as well as the covert and illegal use of information and communication technologies to attack other States. It withdrew the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and their immediate start of medium-range missile tests are intended to open a new arms race.
The President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, stated last year before this Assembly: “… The exercise of multilateralism and full respect for the principles and norms of International Law in order to move towards a multipolar, democratic and equitable world are requirements to guarantee peaceful coexistence, preserve international peace and security and find lasting solutions to systemic problems”.
We reiterate our unrestricted support for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of two States, which would enable the Palestinian people to exercise the right to self-determination and to have an independent and sovereign State on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We reject the unilateral action of the United States to establish its diplomatic representation in the city of Jerusalem. We condemn the violence of Israeli forces against the civilian population in Palestine and the threats of annexation of territories in the occupied West Bank.
We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the Saharawi people and support for the search for an answer to the question of Western Sahara that will allow them to exercise their right to self-determination and to live in peace in their territory.
We support the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the situation imposed on Syria, without external interference and with full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reject any direct or indirect intervention without the agreement of the legitimate authorities of that country.
We express our solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of the aggressive escalation by the United States. We reject the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Nuclear Agreement with Iran. We call for dialogue and cooperation, based on the principles of international law.
We welcome the inter-Korean dialogue process. Only through negotiations can a lasting political solution be achieved on the Korean peninsula. We strongly condemn the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
NATO’s continued expansion towards the borders with Russia causes serious dangers, aggravated by the imposition of arbitrary sanctions, which we reject.
We support, with admiration, the call of the recent marches of students and young people. Climate change, some of whose effects are now irreversible, threatens the survival of all, in particular of the Small Island Developing States.
Capitalism is unsustainable. Its irrational and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and the growing and unjust concentration of wealth are the main threat to the ecological balance of the planet. There will be no sustainable development without social justice.
The special and differential treatment of countries of the South in international economic relations cannot continue to be overlooked.
The emergency in the Amazon impels us to search for solutions through the cooperation of all, without exclusions or politicization, with full respect for the sovereignty of States.
The corruption of political systems and electoral models and their growing distance from the will of the people are proliferating. Powerful and exclusive minorities, particularly corporate groups, decide the nature and composition of governments, parliaments, and justice and law enforcement institutions.
Following the failure of its intention to submit the Human Rights Council, the US Government opted to abandon it in order to further hamper dialogue and international cooperation on the matter.
It’s not news that should surprise us. The United States is a country where human rights are systematically and often deliberately and flagrantly violated. Thirty-six thousand, 383 people – one hundred a day – died in this country in 2018 from firearms, while the Government protects producers and traders of them at the expense of the safety of citizens. Ninety-one thousand 757 Americans die each year from heart disease, for lack of adequate treatment. Infant and maternal mortality among African Americans is twice that of the white population. Twenty-eight million U.S. citizens have no health insurance or real access to health services; 32 million cannot read or write functionally; 2.2 million U.S. citizens are incarcerated; 4.7 million are on probation and 10 million are arrested each year. It is then understandable why the President is engaged in attacking socialism.
We reject politicization, selectivity, punitive approaches and double standards in addressing the issue of human rights. Cuba will remain committed to the exercise by all individuals and all peoples of all human rights, in particular, to peace, life, development and self-determination.
We must prevent the imposition of a single, totalitarian and overwhelming cultural model that destroys national cultures, identities, history, memory, symbols and individuality, and that silences the structural problems of capitalism, which causes a lacerating inequality that is constantly increasing.
The so-called “cognitive” capitalism offers the same thing. Digital capital crowns global value chains, concentrates ownership of digital data, exploits identity, information and knowledge, and threatens already analogically diminished freedom and democracy. We need other forms of our own, humanist and counter-hegemonic thinking and decisive political action to articulate popular mobilization in the networks, in the streets and at the polls.
Independent states need to exercise sovereignty over cyberspace, abandon the mirage of so-called “networked society” or the “age of access” and instead democratize Internet governance.
The powerful and universal thought of the Apostle of Independence José Martí continues to inspire and encourage the Cubans of the new generations. His words written a few hours before facing death in combat have particular relevance today and I quote: “Every day now I am in danger of giving my life for my country and it is my duty –since I understand it and have the spirit to carry it out—in order to prevent the United States from extending its hold across the Antilles and … All I have done up to now and I will do is for that.”
Similar strength is found in the words of Antonio Maceo, who in 1888 wrote: “Whoever tries to seize Cuba will only collect the dust from its blood-soaked soil, if he does not perish in the struggle.”
This is the same and only Cuban Revolution commanded by Fidel Castro Ruz and now headed by First Secretary Raul Castro and President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
And if, at this point, someone still intends to make the Cuban Revolution surrender, or expects the new generations of Cubans to betray their past and renounce their future, we will repeat with Fidel’s impetus:
Homeland or Death!