CubaBrief: Today we include an important column from The Wall Street Journal, [June 8, 2017] about how the Cuban regime supported terrorism against America. The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional [ Armed Forces for National Liberation], a Puerto Rican terrorist organization “was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus . . . that received advanced training in Cuba.”  

Just as amazing despite the government censorship and the difficulties faced by anyone attempting to practice journalism inside Cuba, two online publications, Diario de Cuba and 14ymedio, continue to provide factual reporting and analysis on the Cuban economy, the impact of tourism in the island, and other issues which are rarely covered by the foreign journalists based there.   

In “Electricity consumption figures are bad news,” Diario de Cuba points out to the “magnitude of the collapse” of Cuba's economic activity. According to government statistics, electricity consumption fell to 15,182 gigawatt hours in 2016 from 20,288 gigawatt hours in 2015. The worse is yet to come and according to some “an economic standstill” is imminent.

Also, an article published by the digital newspaper 14ymedio, based in Havana says that “the areas where ordinary Cubans live are deteriorating, and in contrast every day there are more tourist centers supplied with amenities, luxuries and the latest technology to better serve the foreign visitor. They put make up on facades so that people who come to visit don’t see how the rest is falling down little by little.”

As CubaBrief reported recently the regime says that foreign tourists have nothing to fear because they drink bottled water. Many Cubans however depend on water trucks for their needs including drinking, cooking, bathing, etc. The regime has told Cubans to boil their water. 

Finally, the influential Washington based Politico reports that Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson ( D) have written to President Trump urging him to force Raul Castro “to pay for billions ‘stolen’from Americans.”  According to the article Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Ark) says that he has introduced a bill that  “would allow U.S. farm goods to be paid for on credit instead of cash up front,” while establishing a tax on business deals with Cuba to pay for stolen American properties. Mr. Crawford said that the proposal “was the product of 10 months of negotiations with Cuban-American lawmakers.” Not so fast Cuban American Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) says that he “has not endorsed the legislation,” but “generally supports the concept of an excise tax on Cuba transactions in order to support victims of the Castro dictatorship.”

The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2017

How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America

‘FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus . . . that received advanced training in Cuba.

By  Zach Dorfman

The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day ParadeSunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National Freedom Hero.” 

In response, major sponsors such as Goya, Coca-Cola , Univision, Jet Blue and the Yankees pulled their support. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill is refusing to march, as are several Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The wariness over López Rivera—who’ll still march, though he’s said he’ll forgo the “hero” designation—is well-founded. The group he helped lead, the pro-independence Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, or FALN, was one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of its time. 

Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the FALN perpetrated more than 130 bombings. It was responsible for the 1975 explosion at Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63; a bombing spree in New York City in August 1977 that killed one, injured six, and forced the evacuation of 100,000 office workers; and the purposeful targeting and maiming of four police officers, among many other vicious crimes.

Carnage on this scale was possible because of the FALN’s organizational and operational sophistication—including its numerous connections to communist Cuba and its intelligence services. Those connections have been known to law enforcement for decades. [More]


Diario de Cuba, June 9, 2017

Electricity consumption figures are bad news

By Elías Amor | Valencia

The National Statistical Office of Cuba (ONEI) has just published an interesting report on activity in the Energy sector under the Castro economy in 2016, entitled"Electricity in Cuba: Selected Indicators, January-December 2016."

We are already in mid 2017 and there is still important information missing to make possible a thorough analysis of the island's economic situation, such that any information offered by the authorities, however meager, is appreciated.

The publication was presented with great care. And, given the close relationship between energy consumption and economic activity, present and future – which we know, based on official data from the regime, has been waning since the middle of last year - the information published by the ONEI has presented is of extraordinary interest, as it gives us a more precise idea of he magnitude of the collapse of Cuba's economic activity, and makes it possible to evaluate medium term forecasts.

According to data provided by the ONEI, electricity consumption in Cuba was 15,182 gigawatt hours in 2016. The data itself does not say much if it is not compared to that from the previous year. The first thing that stands out is that the aforementioned ONEI publication fails to mention the data from the year prior. No matter. We looked in Cuba's Statistical Yearbook 2015 and (surprise!) found that electricity consumption that year was at 20,288 gigawatt hour.

That is, in a single year, of deep recession, and which some of us estimate places us on the verge of something resembling the Special Period, the consumption of electricity in Cuba plummeted 25.2%, a quarter of that consumed the previous year. This drop is so sharp that the current phase of economic contraction can be considered one of the most serious in the last 20 years. A slump of this magnitude paralyzes and calls into question the entire process entailed by the government's "Guidelines and Conceptualizations"and other gibberish. And what is worse, the figure is bad enough to suggest that in the coming months it may get even worse. [More]


14ymedio, May 29, 2017

They Deceived Us With Tourism

By Marta Requeiro

There was a time when I saw it as natural. I understood, to say it in a certain way, that Varadero beach was not ours despite its being in Cuban territory.

My unconscious viewed the image of that strip of land, like many, as if it were part of another country to be destined to the enjoyment of the foreign tourist. Economic progress was needed and in an island with favorable climate and geography the resources are mainly provided by tourism, hence even feeling proud of it.

But the years go by and as part of a macabre plan the areas where ordinary Cubans live are deteriorating, and in contrast every day there are more tourist centers supplied with amenities, luxuries and the latest technology to better serve the foreign visitor. They put make up on facades so that people who come to visit don’t see how the rest is falling down little by little.

Once, with my family, we “dressed like tourists” and started to enjoy the, until then, unknown part of Cuba. We arrived with the children who we’d warned ahead of time about how to behave and carry themselves, and we got there on transport from Havana, planning to spend an exquisite day. [More]


Politico, June 6, 2017

Rubio, Nelson to Trump: Force Cuba to pay for billions 'stolen' from Americans

By Sergio Bustos

MIAMI — U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson are teaming up to lobby the Trump administration in a half-century dispute with Cuba: They want the Communist government to fork over $8 billion to compensate Americans whose property was “stolen” when the Castro regime nationalized utilities and industries.

In a Monday letter to the Trump administration, the two Florida senators also took issue with an Obama administration policy concerning a trademark dispute involving Havana Club rum and the Bacardi family.

he senators said the administration should make the billions of dollars in compensation payments from more than 5,900 property claims a priority in crafting its policy toward Cuba.

The Cuban government, meanwhile, has countered that it is owed about $300 billion from the United States stemming from the longstanding economic embargo and the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion — claims the two senators dismissed.

“While the Cuban Government has manufactured ridiculous counter-claims to avoid responsibility, we urge you to seek fair compensation on behalf of these Americans as soon as possible,” the senators said in their letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The dispute over compensation payments comes at a time when the Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward Cuba and might reverse some of the agreements then-President Barack Obama made with the Castro regime in late 2014, when the two nations began formally restoring some economic and diplomatic ties. [More]