Monthly Archives: May 2017

Trump to reverse Obama’s Cuba policy

Trump,Cuba, U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council

HAVANA, May 29th President Donald Trump is mulling a reversal of Cuba policies enacted by former president Barack Obama that soften the U.S.’ stance towards the country, including the rescinding of the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ immigration policy.

According to two sources quoted by the Daily Caller, the Republican has been intending to roll back Continue reading

Samsung opens brand shop in Havana

Samsung,Cuba,HAVANA, May 29  Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday it has opened a brand shop in Cuba, marking a rare move for a global tech company to make a full-fledged step to tap into the market.

The South Korean tech giant said it has opened the brand shop under cooperation with a local Continue reading

Cubans snub graduate jobs for higher pay

 Cuba,economy,labor marketHAVANA,May 29th As a trained nurse, Jose Antonio Torres can help save lives — but in Cuba’s labour market, he finds riding a bicycle rickshaw a surer way to feed his four children.

“I can earn the same in a day doing this as I would in one month working as a nurse,” says Torres, 38.

The  island’s gradual economic opening-up has created an earnings gulf between the few private workers and the many employed by the state. Torres and others like him — even television actors — are turning to the private side to work as waiters, taxi drivers and more.

– Free training, low pay –

Torres owes his nurse’s training to the system of free universal education and healthcare introduced after Fidel Castro’s revolution. In a country hailed for the quality of its healthcare, he was employed in one of the best hospitals — for just $20 a month.

Meanwhile more and more foreign tourists started arriving with cash in their pockets to pay for rickshaw rides. The economic pull was too strong to resist. “It was not an easy decision,” he says. “But I had to find another way to keep supporting my family.”

– Fairy tale –

Beatriz Estevez, 26, is about to finish her state-funded university law studies. But instead of heading to work in a law firm, she is dressing up as a fairy and going to stand still for hours while tourists put money in her hat.

“In a law firm I will not earn even half what I earn right now as a living statue,” she tells AFP.
She can earn $20 a day as a fairy. The average monthly wage for a public sector worker — which includes lawyers — is $29.

– Private earnings –

UNESCO says 3,300 out of every 100,000 people went through higher education in Latin America overall last decade — but the figure for Cuba was five times that. Yet university enrollments have since plunged, from more than 600,000 in the 2009 academic year to 173,000 in 2014, according to the national statistics office.

The Caribbean island is facing historic changes. Fidel Castro died in November and his brother Raul has announced he will step aside as president in February 2018. Following the gradual reforms of recent years, about half a million of the island’s 11 million inhabitants are now self-employed.

They earn four times as much as state employees on average, official data indicate. “I do not mind admitting that I studied law but don’t want to practice it,” says Estevez, as she puts on her makeup in front of the mirror.

“Everyone knows why these things happen.”

– Low wages –

Defenders of Cuba’s communist system say its social security provisions, with food subsidies and ration books, protect the poor. But experts warn ordinary Cubans are suffering from a wonky economy.

Despite Raul Castro’s reforms, Cuba is lagging in its search for foreign investment. Its dual currency system fuels inflation. “Buying a pair of shoes takes up your whole month’s salary,” says Torres.

Raul Castro himself admitted in April 2016 that current salaries and pensions “are not sufficient to satisfy basic needs.” Salaries have never fully recovered from the economic crisis sparked by the collapse of the Soviet Union, says Pavel Vidal, a Cuban economist at Pontifical Xaverian University in Colombia.

Baseball for the blinds on the rise in Cuba

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Yubis Zapata, who is visually impaired, participates in a baseball lesson at the Changa Medero stadium, in Havana, Cuba. REUTERS/Stringer

HAVANA,May 26th (Reuters) Yubis Zapata had to stop playing baseball when he lost his eyesight during military service due to an explosion, so for him, it is a miracle to be able to play once more, in Cuba’s growing league for the blind.

Baseball has long been a national passion. Continue reading

Holland America sailing to Cuba

HAVANA, May 25th Having received approval from the Cuban government this week, Holland America Line will begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale in time for the Christmas holidays.

The first sailing, on Dec. 22, will be for 12 Continue reading

Experimental aircraft visite Varadero

Marathon International Airport,VaraderoHAVANA, May 24th Earlier this month, five private airplanes carrying 10 passengers took off from Florida Keys Marathon International Airport to fly to Varadero.

Taking into account the wide variety of aircraft capable of different speeds, they Continue reading

Ferries from Florida not a priority for Cuba

Tampa,Havana, Ferry,HAVANA, May 23th Cruises and commercial flights now link Tampa and Havana, but before the U.S. government approved either for such journeys, ferries had the nod.

Yet, two years to the month after ferries were federally licensed to sail to the island nation, the maritime vessels have still not Continue reading

Kempinski opens his first 5 star hotel in Havana

Gran Hotel Manzana,Kempinski Hotels,Cuba,Havana,HAVANA, May 23th (AFP)  Cuba’s first ultra luxury hotel opened its doors Monday in Havana, with guests paying up to US$2,500 a night to stay in five-star comfort in Cuba.

The “Gran Hotel Manzana,” part of the Swiss group Kempinski Hotels, is situated in the heart of the Cuban capital in front Continue reading

Cuban Recreational Sailing Increases

 International Yacht Club Ernest Hemingway of Cuba, HAVANA, May 18 (PL) The celebration this week of the 25th anniversary of the International Yacht Club Ernest Hemingway of Cuba, besides being a novelty, represents an additional support to the growing spiral of the island’s Continue reading

Zika rises to nearly 1,900 in Cuba

 Zika virus, HAVANA, May 18th (Reuters) Cuba said on Thursday 1,847 residents had so far contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus, warning that certain provinces on the Caribbean island still had high rates of infestation despite a series of Continue reading