Is it time for cuban professionals to go private?


Certain indications suggest that airs of change are blowing in Cuba. COVID-19 has come to mobilize wills that seemed inert in the face of the risks of making difficult decisions and mindsets clinging to the illusion of expecting different economic results by doing the same thing that has been done for decades and that life, stronger than any whim, has demonstrated its inefficiency.

The economic strategy announced days ago by the Cuban government seems to be going in the right direction but it is still a great unknown because the details of its implementation have not yet been converted into new rules of the game, nor divulged so that we can join with our opinions to the final shaping of the regulations to come.

The practical and seemingly minor details, those that are not talked about in television appearances, or of which some are not interested in knowing why reading an Official Gazette has little bit of entertaining, are usually the decisive ones. They say more than an official statement or the pronouncement of a high public servant. It is there and in the interpretation of the regulators that the game is won or lost, that we will know, when they are published, whether we are really going to break molds or continue to hit with the head a wall that will only yield under the brute force of intelligence and audacity.

One of the unknown “details” for the time being and that will be an indicator of how deep the national economic fabric is willing to transform is the space that will open up, or not, to professionals within the announced expansion of the private sector, whether in self-employment (TCP), non-agricultural cooperatives or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Until the day I write these lines, we have scarcely seen a handful of professional work licenses on their own, such as computer equipment programmers, arts teachers or translator-interpreters who allow someone with a university degree to earn their bread and contribute to society with their taxes by exercising the profession for which they employed studying , at least 5 years of his life.


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Karen Bass, a Potential Biden VP Pick, Explains Her History With Cuba


In 1973, Representative Karen Bass traveled to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade. “I didn’t have any illusions that the people in Cuba had the same freedoms I did,” she said.

Karen Bass, the congresswoman from California, is in contention to become Joe Biden’s running mate. There are good reasons for this. She is reliably liberal, she chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and she shares a history of family loss with Biden. But she’s also the only person on Biden’s list who spent part of the 1970s working construction in Fidel Castro’s Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade, a group that has organized annual trips to Cuba for young, leftist Americans for half a century.

The Biden campaign knows about Bass’s history with the Brigade, which began as a joint venture of the Castro government and Students for a Democratic Society, the leftist, antiwar organization that gave birth to the Weather Underground terrorist group. She told Biden’s vetting committee weeks ago that this was probably going to come up. So far, it hasn’t been a deal breaker—in fact, her potential to drive up African-American votes might help in Florida among voters who traditionally haven’t been paid as much attention in the state.

It’s a reflection of the changing politics around Cuba that Biden would consider a running mate whose past might hurt his chances in Florida, where anti-Castro Cubans are still an important constituency. In 1992, being associated with the Venceremos Brigade was enough to prevent Johnnetta Cole, the then-president of Spelman College who was coordinating education policy for Bill Clinton’s transition team, from being nominated to serve as secretary of education.

Bass’s interest in Cuba kept up after she became a member of the California assembly. She went to the country again in 2005, on a trip organized by the California lobbyist Darius Anderson and paid for out of her campaign account, according to campaign-finance records kept by the California secretary of state. She’s returned several times since being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. She visited Alan Gross, the USAID contractor whom Cuba accused of being a spy, during his five years in prison, and joined then–Secretary of State John Kerry when he went to Havana to raise the American flag over the reestablished U.S. embassy in 2015. President Barack Obama invited Bass—by then a key supporter of normalizing relations with Cuba—to join the presidential delegation during his historic trip in 2016. From there, she tweeted a sepia-toned photo of herself from her Venceremos Brigade trip, in sunglasses with a bandanna on her head.

Read: Fidel: ‘Cuban Model Doesn’t Even Work for Us Anymore’

In Obama’s speech to the Cuban people, he called on them to stop making America a scapegoat for their problems—and on Americans to admit that the embargo didn’t work. Bass said she agrees with Obama’s views. “How long can you have the same policy and not make a difference?” she said. “I thought things needed to change.” She trained as a physician’s assistant, and her interest in Cuba in recent years has focused on medical issues. She and several other members of Congress from underserved, heavily Black districts established a program to send students, particularly Black students, from Los Angeles to Cuba for medical training they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. She’s also tried to get California regulations changed to allow Cuban doctors to do their residencies in the state. This, she said, is a natural point of collaboration.

Bass’s affinity for Cuba grows out of a connection she has always seen between the histories of Black Americans and Black Cubans. “The other thing about Cuba, by the way, that has always interested me is that the Cuban people look like me,” she noted.

Cuba has been the main issue that people who don’t want Biden to pick Bass have focused on, mostly because of a statement she made after Castro died in 2016, when she referred to him as “comandante en jefe,” which she says was a poor attempt to translate commander in chief. In Cuba, this was a phrase Castro’s government often used to praise him. When I spoke with her in early July about that statement, she told me that she somehow hadn’t fully realized how Cuba and Castro were seen in Florida, as opposed to California. She told me last week that she’s since reached out to congressional colleagues from Florida, and to Cuban American leaders, to further her understanding of the issue.

“If I had to make that statement over again, I wouldn’t use those words,” she told me, repeating the practiced line she’s been giving in response to questions about the gaffe.

“The idea that this issue is the foremost issue on the minds of people in Florida, when people are dying, when there aren’t [enough] ICU beds—again, I would not make that same statement again,” Bass said, but “it’s hard for me to believe that that is what’s going to be on people’s minds in the next hundred days.”

Bass is right that there are more important issues than what she was doing in Cuba nearly half a century ago, Taddeo, the Florida state senator, told me. “However, Florida is going to be decided by less than 1 percent, and this would be exactly the changing of the subject that we should not change thanks to this emergency that we’re in, because of the leadership of the president and the governor,” she said. “Now we’re going to talk about Cuba? That’sThat’s exactly where we do not want to go.”

Roberto Rodriguez Tejera, a Cuban American who hosts a radio show popular with Cuban Americans in Florida, told me by text that he felt sure, given her history, that Bass would take the state off the table for Biden. “It’s not only about Cuba. It’s about the socialist narrative. She is the poster person for it. A dream come true for the Republicans,” he wrote. “It’s also about any independent voter, anywhere in the country, who may be afraid of a total takeover of the Biden presidency by the radical left.”

The Venceremos Brigade, which still exists, and still sends young Americans to Cuba, declined to comment on the record. All told, about 8,000 Americans have traveled to Cuba with the group over the past half century. A trip had been scheduled for July, but was delayed because of the pandemic.


Twitter execs refused Israel’s request to remove Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei tweets


Top congressional Republicans poured scorn on the idea, and should continue to do so.

Trump obviously doesn’t have the power to delay the election. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fix the date of the election, and since 1845, it’s been the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is such an ingrained tradition that it is part of the warp and woof of American democracy.

It is a tribute to our commitment to self-government that elections have occurred as scheduled on this day during the worst crises of American history — when federal troops were in the field against rebel troops who sought to destroy the nation, when the unemployment rate was 25 percent, when U.S. forces were engaged in an epic struggle to save the West from the depredations of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Trump doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care. It is another indication of how little he’s let the institution of the presidency shape him, and how selfishly he approaches his duties.

The proximate cause of his tweet was his frequently expressed opposition to mail-in voting. We prefer in-person voting, as a matter of ballot security and civic ritual, but given concerns over any sizable gatherings of people during the pandemic, states are inevitably going to embrace more mail-in voting. This raises the prospect of an excruciating overtime after the election if it’s close because it takes so long to count mail-in ballots.

This is a legitimate concern. But it’s no reason for the sitting president of the United States to affirmatively undermine faith in an election that can, should, and indubitably will take place on its appointed day, as it has throughout the history of the world’s greatest republic.


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Rashida Tlaib Declines to Endorse Biden in Latest Sign of Progressive Dissatisfaction with Dem Nominee


Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich) addresses a rally in Detroit, Mich., June 6, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) declined to endorse Joe Biden for president in an interview with Newsweek released on Monday, in another sign of progressive dissatisfaction with the more moderate Democratic nominee.

“I don’t want to get into a debate with my residents,” Tlaib said when asked why she wouldn’t formally back the former vice president. “Residents come up to me and say, ‘Rashida, I don’t know. I hear Joe Biden this, Joe Biden that.’ I say, ‘Listen, do we need another four years of Trump? No. Then what I need you to do is go out there and focus on that.’”

Tlaib said she would encourage get-out-the-vote efforts in Michigan for the general election, but that residents of her district “need to come out in droves and be inspired by something. And that is going to be a vote against Donald Trump.”

The Michigan representative’s reluctance to fully endorse Biden followed the publishing of comments by Bernie Sanders campaign co-chairwoman Nina Turner, who expressed dismay at having to back the Democratic nominee.

“It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit,” Turner, a former Ohio state senator, told the Atlantic.

The Democratic Convention is set to take place during the week of August 17. Biden has won 2,632 delegates, while Sanders has won 1,076. However, close to 500 Sanders delegates have signed a petition to vote against the party platform if it does not include a commitment to single-payer “Medicare for All,” setting up a possible showdown among Democrats.


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Cuban government gives green light to exports, imports and the wholesale market for the private sectot, which is growing fastte sector

“The interest of our government is to facilitate this export and import management to non-state forms.

It is not so that the company (state responsible for providing this service) becomes more profitable,” said the head of Foreign Trade, Rodrigo Malmierca.
OnCuba Writing by Redacción OnCuba July

The Cuban government gave the green light to exports and imports from the private sector, as well as to a wholesale market in Freely Convertible Currency (MLC) for this sector and foreign and mixed capital companies, as part of the package of new economic measures announced by the last week.

The export and import service that will begin to be offered to the non-state sector will be “in the most feasible way possible,” said the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex), Rodrigo Malmierca, on the Mesa Redonda television program on Wednesday. .

Malmierca explained that the measure aims for Cuban exports to grow, for imports to be more rational and for chaining between the different productive sectors to be encouraged, and said that “the commercial margins to be used will be minimal.”

“The interest of our government is to facilitate this export and import management to non-state forms. It is not so that the company (state in charge of providing this service) becomes more profitable, “he said.

The head of the Mincex confirmed that the measure is part of the set of decisions that the government takes to boost the economy in the post-COVID-19 recovery stage and that it is based on principles contained in documents such as the conceptualization of the Cuban economic model, the Constitution and the economic and social development plan until 2030.

Masks are the new condoms, and the majority of Americans are on board

Masks are the new condoms.

In the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, when so little was known about this deadly, incurable, highly transmissible disease, none other than a young Dr. Anthony Fauci was at the forefront of research and public education.

Today, he advocates masks. Then, he advocated condoms.

His goal was to calm a panicked nation and to convince deniers — those who believed condoms were an infringement on personal freedoms — that he was working in the interest of public health. He always cited the science — not his beliefs, just the facts.

In a 1993 column called “No Thrill is Worth the Odds,” nationally syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers answered a female letter writer who was convinced that condoms were not adequate prevention against HIV infection.

Landers called Dr. Fauci and printed his reply.

“Latex condoms,” he said in part, “provide an excellent barrier against fluid and are effective against HIV passage in the laboratory.”

If there’s one thing Fauci and the National Institutes of Health have made clear over these past few months, it’s that masks provide an excellent barrier — the best weapon we have, really — against COVID-19. A video posted by the NIH in April, showing a mask-wearing speaker emitting a drastic decrease in airborne droplets, makes the case for masks undeniable.

How is wearing a mask still politicized?

On July 14, the CDC officially advised all Americans to wear masks in public. They cited a recent study of two hairstylists in Missouri, both of whom were infected with COVID-19, both of whom unknowingly worked for days in their salon — where masks were required for employees and patrons.

Contact tracing found that none of their combined 139 clients was infected, nor were those clients’ family members.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this under control.”

President Trump is cratering in the polls on two issues: his handling of the virus and the nation’s subsequent economic collapse. If all it takes to turn this around is federally mandating masks, why not do it?

One thing that we’re missing in the COVID era compared with the AIDS era is the use of popular culture, Hollywood and public figures to change attitudes.

In 1994, the federal government, slow to respond to the then-decade-long AIDS crisis, hired Ogilvy & Mather to create an ad. Ian Latham, then the company’s executive creative director and senior vice president, pitched his concept to The New York Times.

“This little guy,” he said, meaning the condom, “is the hero.”

Why doesn’t the Trump campaign sell MAGA masks? American-flag masks?

A younger Dr. Anthony Fauci in 1996.
A younger Dr. Anthony Fauci in 1996.AP
What if Kylie made a lip kit mask, or Kim wore Skims or Gucci? Think of how quickly Kim Kardashian, criminal-justice warrior, could build on her cultural credibility by championing face masks the way global celebrities like Madonna and Princess Di advocated for AIDS patients and worldwide research before it was the expected thing to do.

Condom usage rose, infection rates fell and eventually, medicines caught up — not a cure, but at least a treatment for HIV/AIDS, no longer a death sentence.

Consider that Dr. Fauci said just last week that, much like HIV, we will never eradicate COVID-19. So until we have some form of herd immunity, coupled with a vaccine, the onus is on all of us to adopt the best public-health measures, which include a very cheap, very accessible physical barrier: the face mask.

It’s quaint, decades on, to recall how controversial condoms were — that there was ever debate about making them readily available, about changes in sex ed and in a necessary and explicit public discourse. In the 1980s, we had a president who refused to even say the word “AIDS” for years, and it cost untold lives. What would happen now if our president refused to go outside without a mask?

Cuba excels in international tourism competition


Havana, Jul 27 (PL) A team of students from the Faculty of Tourism of the University of Havana stood out in an international test of this sector that lasted several months, that educational instance reported today.

A report received by Prensa Latina indicates that it was an electronic test in which the team from this island ranked 12th, when 60 universities from 32 countries in Asia, America, Europe and Africa participated.

Some nations such as Spain, China, Mexico and Canada, were represented by more than one university.

The Cuban team was made up of Aliber Velázquez (fifth year), Ernesto Rodríguez, Adriel Málvarez and Laura Feyt (fourth) and Melissa Quintana (third).

Luis Daniel Ortiz and Gerardo Hernández (fourth year), all with a Bachelor of Tourism, entered as reservations and the dean of the Faculty of Tourism, Alejandro Delgado, as professor-coach.

The Faculty report specifies that the competition consisted of the monthly publication of a challenge, a specific situation to which the teams had to propose a solution within 20 calendar days.

The answer was in a specified format where they should contain diagnosis, analysis and solution proposal in no more than 10 pages in English.

In turn, an international jury assessed the responses within 10 days, so that the results of each challenge were published on the same day as the next challenge.

The challenges varied, from proposals for the exit of the tourist crisis induced by the Covid-19 in countries such as Spain, to comprehensive solutions for tourism development in one of the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah.

Dubbed the Student League of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the competition spanned five months, from late February to July 2020, with four challenges in total.

The Faculty emphasizes that the possibility offered by the Bachelor of Tourism in 10 universities in this country, in addition to the increasingly solid collaboration with the entities of the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) in the territories, will make it possible to organize a National League.

The Cuban team had a preselect ion of 16 students from which seven were chosen, including the reservation of two students. To form it, a test was carried out with 85 numerical, verbal and critical thinking questions, always in English.


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Bernie Sanders co-chair: Voting for Joe Biden like eating ‘half a bowl of s–t’


So much for Democratic enthusiasm for Joe Biden.

A co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign vividly described how she feels about choosing between Biden and President Trump — likening it to only having to eat half a bowl of excrement.

“It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of s–t in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still s–t’, ” Sanders co-chair Nina Turner told The Atlantic.

Turner, a former Ohio state senator, was quoted in an article analyzing Trump’s paths to re-election, including by exploiting disaffected supporters of Sanders’ socialist campaign, which lost to Biden despite winning the first three state Democratic contests this year.

Trump alleges the Democratic Party cheated Sanders, a Vermont senator, out of the nomination.

Trump is seeking to appeal to Sanders backers by pointing out that Biden supported the Iraq War, voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement and authored a 1994 crime law credited with contributing to the “mass-incarceration” of black people.

“Last time I got a lot of Bernie Sanders voters, as you know, a very good percentage. People were shocked, mostly because of trade,” Trump said in a Father’s Day discussion last month with his son Donald Trump Jr.

“One thing Bernie was right on was trade. He said that everybody in this country is being hurt badly by our trade deals. They’re so bad. And I get a lot of support from Bernie Sanders [supporters]. I think I’m going to have it again this time.”

Although Sanders endorsed Biden and released a “unity” agenda with him, some Sanders supporters resisted jumping aboard.

Briahna Joy Gray, a former Sanders national press secretary, tweeted Saturday that journalists should “start asking Biden why he doesn’t support the progressive policies that EARNED Bernie enthusiastic support.”


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Tension between Lebanon and Israel rises


Beirut, Ju 26 (Prensa Latina) Tension between Lebanon and Israel rose today after threats issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold Beirut responsible of any attack against Tel Aviv’s regime.

Violations of the Lebanese airpspace and the concentration of Israeli troops along the border were notorious, after a Hezbollah fighter was killed in a raid in Syria by Tel Aviv’s war aviation. Thus, the Israeli government fears retaliation by that group.

Netanyahu posted on social media that they will not allow the establishment in Syrian territory of an Iranian military base.

In the past 48 hours, the Lebanese army recorded 29 Israel’s violations of the country’s airspace, which was informed to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

At a low altitude, Israeli aircrafts and drones flew this Sunday over the Lebanese cities of Nabatiyeh, Marjayoun, Hasbaya, Jezzine e Iqlim al-Tuffah, as well as over Byblos, Keserwan, and the Beqaa Valley.


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MPs call on Costa Rican President to purchase Russian Covid-19 drug


San José, Jul 27 (Prensa Latina) Five deputies called on Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado to purchase Russian drug Avifavir against Covid-19, following what other nations of this region have done.

‘Mr. President, we would like to call upon you- seeking to contribute to stop the coronavirus in our country- to consider and join other countries of the region and purchase this valuable drug,’ the legislators stress in a letter address to the Presidential Office.

The lawmakers are members of the Costa Rica-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Group (GRAP-CR-RU).

For that purpose, we are asking (Alvarado) to call on our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and health authorities to approach authorities of the Russian Federation to purchase this drug, the deputies from different political forces reiterate.

The signatory of this letter, posted on crhoy.com, are Walter Muñoz (National Integration), Luis Fernando Chacón (National Liberation), Otto Vargas (Christian Social Republican), Rodolfo Peña (Christian Social Unity) and Floria Segreda (National Restauration).

After expressing their deep concern on the rise of infections (14,600 yesterday) and unfortunate deaths (98) caused by Covid-19 in Costa Rica and acknowledging the work of health authorities in the fight against the pandemic, these legislators believe this fight is still limited unless purchasing the adequate drugs to face this illness.

They say that the world’s scientific community and our health authorities know that the Russian Avifavir is the first specific drug against Covid-19 globally approved.

The five deputies add that this drug showed high effectiveness during the first phase of clinical trials and indicate that, thanks to its effectiveness against the coronavirus, many Latin American countries and in the world are working today to purchase it.

They recall that, in the past days, Costa Rica received from the Russian government a humanitarian aid donation ? Covid-19 tests- as an irrefutable token of the existing friendship and cooperation ties between our peoples, which is why we are certain that, this time, our country’s efforts will reach the authorities of that sister nation.


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