Monday, April 30, 2012

The layoffs will take a little longer

Cuba has reduced state payrolls by 140,000 and plans to reduce by another 110,000 this year and to reach a 500,000 reduction by 2015, according to Cuban labor federation official Raymundo Navarro in an interview with EFE.   

The original goal, announced in September 2010, was to reach the 500,000 mark by April 2010.

Odds and ends

  • A Thursday night fire that wiped out the offices of Airline Brokers, Inc. in Coral Gables was a “deliberate” action, officials told the HeraldGranma tied it to the anniversary of the death of Orlando Bosch.

  • AFP: The Brookings Institute brings a delegation to Cuba that included, in a sign of the changing times, Alfonso Fanjul.

  • AP: Cuban diplomats in Havana talk with Cuban émigrés in the Cuban mission in Washington via videoconference, and migration reform is the top issue.

  • Europa Press: Cuban tourism continues to grow, up five percent in the first quarter.


“A swap for Gross would be popular in the Jewish community but not in the Cuban-American community, which rails against any deals with the ‘terrorist regime’ in Havana, especially since it could mean handing the Castros a major propaganda victory.”

   – Former AIPAC official Douglas Bloomfield, writing at

Friday, April 27, 2012

Odds and ends

  • Reuters: A Cuban official says that nearly half Cuba’s economic output will shift to the “non-state” sector in the next four to five years.  Earlier, the finance minister forecast that also within five years, the private sector is expected to grow by 1.8 million workers, which would put two in five workers in the private sector.

  • Granma: In the first three months of 2012, there were 2,730 sales and 10,660 donations of homes, and 8,390 sales and 6,780 donations of cars.

  • Cuban authorities arrested a British subject who was resident in Havana and directed Coral Capital, a business involved in major investment projects on the island.   Cuba Standard broke the news, and the Herald added some details.

  • AFP: Cuban economics commentator Ariel Terrero chided the labor ministry for handling layoffs without “sufficient transparency,” leaving Cubans wondering precisely how many were laid off last year, and their characteristics.  As the layoffs proceed, he calls on the government to conduct a “broader discussion.”

  • Judy Gross, wife of jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross, gives an interview to Café Fuerte, expressing disappointment that Gross has not been permitted to visit his ailing mother and saying, “I don’t understand the position of the Cuban government.”  The Forward reports that the public relations firm Burson Marsteller has taken up Gross’ case, and the current strategy includes pressure on both the Cuban and U.S. governments.

  • El Tiempo (Bogota): OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza says Cuba should be invited to attend hemispheric summits.  “Having Cuba seated every three years in a Summit of the Americas does not weaken the [inter-American] system,” he said in Washington.  And it makes no sense that the largest country would exclude itself because the smallest is attending.”

  • A strange story: the Herald discovers that Cuba has complained about several cases of firearms arriving in checked luggage from Miami.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

“I did nothing legally or morally wrong”

Jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross yesterday used his weekly phone call to reach out to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, affirming his innocence, saying his conscience is clear, and pleading for help to get released.  Her report on NBC Nightly News is here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Performing tonight... the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia, the Cuban band Sierra Maestra.

Odds and ends

  • Apparently unconcerned about its own climate for inward investment, Cuba supports Argentina’s expropriation of the 51 percent stake that Spain’s Repsol held in YPF, the Argentine oil company.  The Cuban statement supports Argentina’s sovereignty, which is not really at issue.  Reuters story here.

  • Herald: Florida authorities are about to conclude an investigation of Rep. David Rivera’s finances without bringing charges, but a federal investigation continues.

  • In a letter (pdf) to the Secretary of State, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls once again for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba.