Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cuban state-run media confirms gasoline shortage

Reuters

Cuban media on Friday confirmed a three-week-old shortage of premium gasoline that has left embassies, tourists and others scrambling for fuel, and said it was not clear when it would end.

The online edition of the Communist Youth daily, Juventud Rebelde, published a story from Escambray, a central Sancti Spiritus province newspaper, explaining measures taken to deal with the shortage.

“Irregularities in the delivery of this fuel which is not refined in Cuba … led to its substitution with regular gasoline,” the Escambray story said.

In Cuba, where the government rarely directly addresses controversial issues, such round-about-forms of confirmation and explanation are not unusual.

The newspaper quoted provincial directors of the state-run CIMEX Corp, which, along with the state oil monopoly, operates most service stations, as saying that four stations have been set aside in the province for diplomats, tourists and others to buy high-octane gasoline for cash, while others were selling what was left in inventory for cash and lower-quality fuel.

Cash-strapped Cuba depends on crisis-racked ally Venezuela, an OPEC member, for about 70 percent of its fuel needs, including oil for refining and re-exports.

But socialist Venezuela’s subsidized shipments have fallen by as much as 40 percent since 2014. Potential new suppliers usually want cash because of Cuba’s poor credit rating. Most Cubans who own cars, mainly vintage American and Soviet-era models, use lesser-quality fuel that can damage modern engines.

Some Cuban state workers are assigned cars and receive gasoline ration cards, including for premium gasoline if they drive modern state-owned vehicles.

For April, the state issued ration cards only for regular gasoline and sent out an internal memo, leaked to social media, announcing that there would be no deliveries of high octane gasoline and that inventories would go only to cash-paying customers while they lasted.

Miguel Romero, head of CIMEX’s service station division in Sancti Spiritus, said that after an initial period of confusion, cash sales for premium were normal, while sales to state workers with premium ration cards had dropped to nearly zero, reducing overall consumption of high octane gasoline by 60 percent.

The head of CIMEX in the province, Melvin Ruiz Nunez, said there was sufficient premium in stock to continue sales at the present pace through the beginning of May.

“I do not know if current restrictions will continue,” he said.

When U.S. Airstrikes Could Have Destroyed a Terrorist Regime, Freed a Nation and Altered History—The Bay of Pigs

Townhallby Humberto Fontova

“Where are the planes?!” kept crackling over U.S. Navy radios exactly 56 years ago this week. The U.S. Naval armada (22 ships including the Carrier Essex loaded with deadly Skyhawk jets.) was sitting 16 miles off the southern Cuban coast near an inlet known as Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). The question — bellowed between blasts from a Soviet artillery and tank barrage landing around him — came from commander, Jose San Roman.

“Send planes or we can’t last!” San Roman kept pleading to the very fleet that escorted his men to the beachhead (and sat much closer to them than the U.S. destroyers Porter and Ross sat to the Syrian coast this week.) Meanwhile the Soviet artillery barrage intensified, the Soviet T-34 and Stalin tanks closed in, and San Roman’s casualties piled up.

By that date the terrorists who ran (and still run) Cuba had been operating terror-training camps for two years, had kidnapped, tortured and murdered dozens of American (to say nothing of tens of thousands of Cubans.) A year later they wantonly brought Western civilization a whisker from nuclear destruction. If foreign terrorists ever merited a MOAB, it was these– based 90 miles from U.S. shores.

Crazed by hunger and thirst the Cuban freedom-fighters had been shooting and reloading without sleep for three days. Many were hallucinating. By then many suspected they’d been abandoned by the Knights of Camelot.

Continue reading When U.S. Airstrikes Could Have Destroyed a Terrorist Regime, Freed a Nation and Altered History—The Bay of Pigs

Cuba’s premium gas shortage leaves diplomats stuck

Newsweek

When they are not tending to international affairs, diplomats based in Havana can be found these days stewing in interminable lines at gas stations and concocting ways to increase the octane in fuel as Cuba’s premium gasoline shortage takes its toll.

Cuba sent around an internal memo last week advising that it would restrict sales of high-octane, so-called “special fuel,” in April. That is not an issue for most Cuban drivers, whose vintage American cars and Soviet-era Ladas use regular fuel.

But it is for the embassies that use modern cars whose engines could be damaged by the fuel at most Havana gas stations. So the diplomats are taking a leaf out of the book of Cubans, used to such shortages, and becoming resourceful.

Given the U.S. trade embargo, Cubans have for decades had to invent new ways to keep their cars on the road, replacing original engines with Russian ones and using homemade parts.

“I bought octane booster, and the embassy has bought lubricants, meant to help the motor deal with rubbish gasoline,” said one north European diplomat, who got a relative to bring the booster in his luggage given it is unavailable in Cuba.

“At the moment we are using the car that runs on diesel, so we can ‘survive’,” said an Eastern European diplomat.

Cuba has not announced the measure officially yet. According to the memo, “the special fuel remaining in stock at gas stations from April will only be sold in cash and to tourists until the inventory is depleted.”

“It’s very serious. I have already suspended a trip to Santiago de Cuba for fear of lack of gas,” said one Latin American diplomat, adding that it seemed like the problem would last. “Diplomats are very worried.”

Some embassies in Havana have people scouting out which stations still have some higher-octane fuel and are sending around regular updates to staff. One gas station worker said they were getting small deliveries of fuel each day still.

The embassies are also advising people to carpool or use the diplomatic shuttle.

Meanwhile the European Union has requested from the ministry of foreign affairs that one or more service centers be set aside for diplomats with special gas, according to a European diplomat.

Cuba has become increasingly reliant on its socialist ally Venezuela for refined oil products but the latter has faced its own fuel shortage in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the Communist-ruled island cannot easily replace subsidized Venezuelan supplies as it is strapped for cash.

Although the memo referred to April, it is not clear how long the shortage will last. Cubans joke that once something disappears in Cuba, it is never to return, referring to products that have disappeared from their ration book like cigarettes, beef and condensed milk.

The Peugeot dealership in Havana has sent its clients lists of technical tips on how to protect their motors while using lower-grade gasoline, including more frequent maintenance and ensuring vehicles at running at optimum temperature before driving.

The shortage is also impacting others using modern cars such as taxi drivers, tourists and workers at joint ventures.

 

21st Anniversary of the murder of the BTTR pilots by orders of Raúl Castro

On February 24, 1996, Mario Manuel de la Peña, age 24; Armando Alejandre, Vietnam War Veteran, age 45; Carlos Alberto Costa Pino, age 29 and Pablo Morales, age 29 were murdered when Cuban MIGs shot their small civilian airplanes over international waters.

They were flying in a group of three small Cessna airplanes on a humanitarian search and rescue mission for the non-profit organization “Brothers to the Rescue.”

Two occupants perished in each of the two aircraft destroyed; no remains were recovered.

Brothers to the Rescue flew thousands of volunteer missions to spot rafters at sea fleeing Cuba, notifying the U.S. Coast Guard of their location so they would be rescued.

The organization also took food, water and clothing to rafters held in detention centers in nearby countries.

The Cuban government’s actions were denounced by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cuba and condemned by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The families of the victims obtained a judgment in U.S. Superior Court against the Cuban government for premeditated murder.

Cuban Interior Minister Fernández Gondín just became a “good communist”

International Herald Tribune

Cuban Interior Minister Carlos Fernandez Godin died on Saturday in Havana after a lengthy battle with a “chronic illness,” authorities announced. He was 78.

Fernandez Godin, who fought in the Cuban Rebel Army before the Revolution, was promoted from first deputy interior minister to head the ministry in October 2015, replacing Abelardo Colome, who had served in that capacity since 1989 but who had resigned due to health problems.

According to his will, Fernandez Godin will be cremated and his ashes will be honored at the Pantheon of Veterans in Havana’s Colon cemetery until they are interred in the Second Front Mausoleum in Santiago de Cuba, where the minister will receive military honors.

The tyrant is dead and on his way to Hell!

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, responsible for the death of tens of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of the Cuban nation has finally died! Cubans in Miami react to his death.

fideldead

Los Angeles Times

Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s official announcement that former President Fidel Castro had died, Miami’s Little Havana teemed with life — and cheers.

Thousands of people banged pots with spoons, waved Cuban flags in the air and whooped in jubilation on Calle Ocho — 8th Street, and the heart of the neighborhood — early Saturday. Honking and strains of salsa music from car stereos echoed against stucco buildings, and fireworks lit up the humid night sky.

Police blocked off streets leading to Cafe Versailles, the quintessential Cuban American hot spot where strong cafecitos — sweetened espresso — were as common as a harsh word about Fidel Castro.

“Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”

Celebration, not grief, permeated the atmosphere. That was no surprise. Castro has cast a shadow over Miami for decades, and in many ways, his policy and his power have shaped the city and its inhabitants.

Cubans fled the island to Miami, Tampa, New Jersey and elsewhere after Castro took power in 1959. Some were loyalists of Fulgencio Batista, the president prior to Castro, while others left with the hope they would be able to return soon, after Castro was toppled. He never was.

Many others believed they would not be truly free under Castro and his communist regime. Thousands left behind their possessions, loved ones, and hard-earned educations and businesses, traveling to the U.S. by plane, boat or raft. Many Cubans died on the ocean trip to South Florida. And many never returned to see their childhood homes, their neighborhoods, their playgrounds, their businesses, their cousins and aunts and uncles, because Castro was still in power.

The ones that made it to Miami took a largely, and vehemently, anti-Castro stance.

On New Year’s Eve every year, Cubans in Miami utter a toast in Spanish as they hoist glasses of liquor: “Next year in Cuba.” But as the Cuban exiles aged, and as Castro outlived them, and as U.S. President Barack Obama eroded the embargo and younger Cubans returned to the island, the toast rang silent in many households.

In Miami, where Havana is closer both geographically and psychologically than Washington, the news of Castro’s death was long anticipated by the exiles who left after Castro took power, and in the decades since. Rumors have come and gone for decades, and Castro’s death had become something of a joke — mostly because it seemed to happen so frequently.

This time, though, it was real.

“I don’t celebrate. Nobody does. You can’t celebrate somebody’s death. I just hope for democracy,” said Arnold Vidallet, a 48-year-old financial adviser who was woken by relatives with the news and who went to Domino Park, in the heart of Little Havana, to witness history unfolding.

Cuba si! Castro no!
A couple of blocks away, at the Bay of Pigs memorial, Antonio Hernandez, 76, rode his bicycle up in a light rain and stood at the eternal flame that honors the men who tried, and failed, to wrest Cuba from Castro’s grip in 1961.

“Everybody’s happy. Now this guy won’t do any more damage,” said Hernandez, who came to Miami on the Mariel boatlift in 1980. “His brother will now go down, too. But the world has to pay attention to this, not just we Cubans.”

Many Cubans made successful livings and raised families in Miami despite having to learn a new language and start their lives over. Exiles who arrived as teenagers with no money in their pockets became millionaires, political leaders, clergy members, teachers — influential members contributing to the sturdy fabric of American society.

Cemeteries in South Florida abound with the remains of those who fiercely wished Castro had died before them. Their children weep today because they could not see their parents and grandparents return to Cuba under a democratic regime, to see their homeland one more time.

Gabriel Morales, a 40-year-old financial executive, monitored social media early Saturday from his home in Miami. His parents both left Cuba decades ago. His father left Cuba before Castro took over, and then returned to visit during Castro’s regime. He vowed never to return until the regime changed, Morales said.

Morales’ mother left after Castro assumed power; her family had their property appropriated by the government, Morales said.

“Feels weird,” Morales said in a text message to an Associated Press reporter. “Been waiting to hear this news all my life. Seems unreal.”

 

Too broke for boats, Cubans inflate condoms to find big fish

condomfishing

CBS News

Juan Luis Rosello sat for three hours on the Malecon as the wind blew in from the Florida Straits, pushing the waves hard against the seawall of Havana’s coastal boulevard.

As darkness settled and the wind switched direction, Rosello pulled four condoms from a satchel and began to blow them up. When the contraceptives were the size of balloons, the 47-year-old cafeteria worker tied them together by their ends, attached them to the end of a baited fishing line and set them floating on the tide until they reached the end of his 750-foot line.

After six decades under U.S. embargo and Soviet-inspired central planning, Cubans have become masters at finding ingenious solutions with extremely limited resources. Few are as creative as what Havana’s fishermen call “balloon fishing,” a technique employing a couple of cents worth of condoms to pull fish worth an average month’s salary from the ocean.

On any given night in Havana, dozens of men can be found “balloon fishing” along the Havana seawall, using their homemade floats to carry their lines as far as 900 feet into the coastal waters, where they also serve to keep the bait high in the water and to increase the line’s resistance against the pull of a bonito or red snapper.

“No one can cast the line that far by hand,” said Ivan Muno, 56, who was fishing alongside Rosello.

For four more hours, he sat silently as the dark sea pounded the rocks below the seawall, algae flashing green in the waves beneath an enormous creamy moon, the sounds of the city muffled by the wind and water. By midnight, he was heading home without a catch, but planning to return soon.

“This is the most effective way to fish,” Rosello said. “Someone got this great idea and I can be here all night with the balloons out.”

After six decades under U.S. embargo and Soviet-inspired central planning, Cubans have become masters at finding ingenious solutions with extremely limited resources. Few are as creative as what Havana’s fishermen call “balloon fishing,” a technique employing a couple of cents worth of condoms to pull fish worth an average month’s salary from the ocean.

On any given night in Havana, dozens of men can be found “balloon fishing” along the Havana seawall, using their homemade floats to carry their lines as far as 900 feet into the coastal waters, where they also serve to keep the bait high in the water and to increase the line’s resistance against the pull of a bonito or red snapper.

“No one can cast the line that far by hand,” said Ivan Muno, 56, who was fishing alongside Rosello.

For four more hours, he sat silently as the dark sea pounded the rocks below the seawall, algae flashing green in the waves beneath an enormous creamy moon, the sounds of the city muffled by the wind and water. By midnight, he was heading home without a catch, but planning to return soon.

“This is the most effective way to fish,” Rosello said. “Someone got this great idea and I can be here all night with the balloons out.”