CUBABRIEF: “Venezuelan crisis requires immediate action.” “In the heart of Havana, a luxury mall where most Cubans can only browse”: The business arm of Cuba’s military created the glitzy shopping spot in a bid to attract tourists. Also in this CubaBrief: After almost 60 years of the Castros dynasty, Cuba that had one of Latin America's most developed societies in 1958, today has one of the lowest rates of car ownership: 20 per 1,000. Despite Havana's "hesitant" economic opening new cars can only be bought in government owned dealerships. The regime has only allowed the importation of 2,000 cars a year for the last five years, according to The Economist. But there is now a market for clunkers. [link to article]
Make sure to read “Homeschool Activists to Protest Cuba for Imprisoning Pastor Who Educated Kids at Home”
The Washington Post, May 14, 2017
In the heart of Havana, a luxury mall where most Cubans can only browse
By Michael Weissenstein | AP
HAVANA — The saleswomen in L’Occitane en Provence’s new Havana store make $12.50 a month. The acacia eau de toilette they sell costs $95.20 a bottle. Rejuvenating face cream is $162.40 an ounce.
A few doors down, a Canon EOS camera goes for $7,542.01. A Bulgari watch, $10,200. In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism.
With the first Cuban branches of L’Occitane, Mont Blanc and Lacoste, the Manzana de Gomez mall has become a sociocultural phenomenon since its opening a few weeks ago, with Cubans wandering wide-eyed through its polished-stone passages. [More]
The Economist, May 15, 2017
Cash for clunkers: Cuba’s crazy used-car market
Why it behaves like the prime-property market
MULTIMARCAS, a car dealership on the outskirts of Havana, is not a conventional showroom. On a recent visit it contained one salesman and, despite the promise of variety in its name, just one car: a 2014-model Kia Picanto with no miles on its odometer. The price would cause the most spendthrift American or European to blanch: 68,000 Cuban convertible pesos (or CUC, each of which is worth a dollar). That is seven times what a Kia Rio, a similar car, of that age would cost in the United States, though you would be hard-pressed to find one that had not been driven.
It is not just virgin vehicles that are startlingly expensive. A Chinese Geely, listed in Revolico, a Cuban version of Craigslist, with “only 93,000km” (58,000 miles) on the clock, goes for 43,000 CUC. A used 2012 Hyundai Accent costs 67,000 CUC.
Cuba is famous for classic Cadillacs and Chevys that whisk tourists around, but Cubans would rather drive such banal automobiles as Korean Kias and French Peugeots, which are more comfortable and burn less fuel. Cuba may be the only country where the value of ordinary cars rises over time, even though they age quickly on the potholed roads. That is because demand is soaring while the supply is not. [More]
InterAmerican Institute for Democracy, May 14, 2017
VENEZUELAN CRISIS REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ACTION
By Luis Fleischman
Venezuela is facing a major crisis. As in the Arab Spring, Venezuelans have lost fear of a government that is becoming ever more authoritarian and murderous. Recently a 25 year old woman was intentionally run over by a car whose drivers were policemen and a top official in the Maduro regime.
Since major protests began, forty one people have died. Even though the government uses violence to deter protestors, people continue to demonstrate because living under the current regime is a nightmare. They don’t care. They will fight the oppressors with anything they have, including human excrement.
The Venezuelan people have no choice. The military continues to be loyal to the government as these officers have been allowed to enrich themselves by securing economic privileges and total impunity in practicing drug trafficking. Also, the Cubans provide more than 40, 000 troops to help the regime to remain in power as well as providing advice on the use of repressive tactics, a minor detail former President Barack Obama forgot to take into account while negotiating with the Castro regime. [More]
Christian Post, May 14, 2017
Homeschool Activists to Protest Cuba for Imprisoning Pastor Who Educated Kids at Home
By Anugrah Kumar , Christian Post Contributor
Homeschooling parents and leaders of groups defending family freedoms will gather at the Cuban Embassy on Wednesday to protest a recent Cuban court's decision to imprison Cuban Pastor Ramón Rigal and place his wife, Adya, under house arrest because they started homeschooling their two children.
"Americans care about what happens to people in Cuba," said Mike Donnelly, director of Global Outreach at Home School Legal Defense Association, which is partnering with CitizenGo and other national leaders to rally at the Cuban Embassy on May 17 at noon. "If Cuba is going to have normal relations with the United States, then the Cuban government should know that homeschooling is an option that must be allowed."
Late last month, a Cuban court sentenced pastor Rigal to a year in prison for homeschooling his children. His wife, Adya, was ordered to spend a year under house arrest. Rigal said Cuban authorities used the three-hour trial more as a platform for denouncing alternatives to state education than as a venue for delivering justice. [More]