Obamacare derogation might affect 23 millions of Americans

Protesters asking for a change
Protests against Obamacare derogation and other measures of Trump´s administration

Human cost of president Donald Trump bill to repeal Obamacare seems to difficult for U.S Senate.

The new decree, approved by the House of Representatives this month, have been evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. The text of the legislation implies shortages to national public spending, slightly higher than the reduction in tax revenues.

However, 23 Americans might lose the medical insurance by 2026, doubling almost the number of people without coverage, and premiums could skyrocket.

Continue reading “Obamacare derogation might affect 23 millions of Americans”

Cuba’s Tourism Economy: The Boon and the Dilemma

Taken from: Americas Society/ Council of Americas 

 

la-relacion-eeuu-cuba-2020025w280The world is scurrying to the Pearl of the Antilles, Cuba’s nineteenth-century nickname. And few are more eager than Americans. After the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement began in December 2014, the island received a half million more international travelers in 2015 than it did the year prior, a 17.4 percent jump. Overall, more than 3.5 million people visited Cuba last year, and U.S. visitors increased the most, by 76.7 percent.

The figure could well be higher in 2016, now that 700 Americans at a time can visit the island on cruises, such as the Carnival Fathom Adonia ship that made a maiden voyage this week. While smaller U.S. ferry services are still seeking approval to operate between Florida and Cuba, commercial airlines have been cleared as of February for a total of 110 daily round trips to Cuba, which could begin as early as September.

Dibujo

The Boon: 

Continue reading “Cuba’s Tourism Economy: The Boon and the Dilemma”

American embassy in Havana offers grants

eeuu_embajada_cubaTaken from : Along the Malecon

Tomado de : The U.S. Embassy in Havana is passing out grants ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 to individuals and organizations based in Cuba and non-profit organizations in the U.S.
Two project announcements, reproduced below, say that “projects that are inherently political in nature” aren’t likely to be funded.
I doubt this means that the State Department and the Agency for International Development have ended other more expansive programs that are political. But the goal of these embassy projects is to strengthen U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations.
Applications for the embassy projects “will be considered on a rolling basis up until August 15, 2016,” the announcement said.
All projects must start before Sept. 30. See below for details:

Continue reading “American embassy in Havana offers grants”

How does US pursue ‘regime change’ in Cuba through ‘normalization’?

Salim Lamrani, in an interview with Khamenei.ir, talks about the US-Cuba relations and how these relations are the continuation of the past painful US policies against Cuba.

Salim Lamrani
Salim Lamrani

Barack Obama can lift the economic sanctions without the agreement of the U.S. Congress but he refuses to do so. Normalization of relations happens if Washington lifts economic sanctions, gives Guantanamo back to the Cubans, put an end to the financing of an internal opposition on the island and abrogate the Cuban adjustment act. These reasons are clearly indicative that the normalization of relations are just a continuation of the past policy of ‘regime change’ in Cuba.

– How do you think the US uses sanctions and negotiations to infiltrate its enemies? Can you give examples of how US has used these tools to infiltrate Cuba?

The main goal of U.S. policy toward the island has been to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. From 1959 to 1991 this was a hidden goal. Since the implementation of the Torricelli Act in 1992, it has become public. Washington wants a “regime change” in Cuba. One of the tools used to achieve this end is economic sanctions. These are sanctions that affect all categories of the Cuban population and constitute the main obstacle to the island’s development.

-Speaking to VOA you addressed how US tried to isolate Cuba internationally, but in reality, the sanctions have isolated the US; would you further explain this?

Washington imposed sanctions designed to damage and isolate Cuba. During the Cold War it was effective in isolating the Island. But today this has become an outdated policy. The United States is virtually alone in its position against Cuba. The international community condemns the United States’ foreign policy towards Cuba. In 2015, for the 24th consecutive year, 191 of 193 nations voted against the economic sanctions imposed on the Cuban people during the United Nations General Assembly. Even the most loyal allies of the US asked for a policy change towards Cuba.

Domestically, 70% of the U.S. population favors a normalization of relations with Cuba because they do not understand why their government forbids them to travel to the Caribbean island, while it allows them to go to China, Vietnam or North Korea.

U.S. corporations oppose economic sanctions because they see a natural marked of 11 million people, only 90 miles away, surrounded by international companies.

– In the book “The Economic War Against Cuba: A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade”, you describe US economic sanctions as cruelly designed for their harmful impact on the Cuban people. How has the US harmed Cuban people through economic blockade?

More than 70% of the Cuban people were born under this economic state of siege. The impact has been disastrous. Let’s just take the health sector. Nearly 80% of all patents granted in the medical sector are issued to U.S. pharmaceutical multinationals and their subsidiaries, which gives them a virtual monopoly. Cuba cannot get access to these medications due to the blockade imposed by the government of the United States.

Some specific cases will permit us to understand the many difficulties faced by Havana in order to maintain a functioning health system. For example, Cuban ophthalmological services are not able to use transpupillary thermotherapy in the treatment of children suffering from cancer of the retina. Indeed, Cuba is prevented from acquiring the surgical microscope and other equipment needed for its treatment because these products are sold exclusively by the U.S. company, Iris Medical Instruments. Thus, without this technology, it becomes impossible to effectively treat this tumor.

A study made by the American Association for World Health (AAWH), whose honorary president is Jimmy Carter, notes that the penalties “violate the most basic agreements and international conventions that have been put in place to protect human rights, including the Charter of the United Nations (Article 5), the Charter of the Organization of American States (Article 16) and the Articles of the Geneva Conventions that regulate the treatment of civilians in wartime.” A “humanitarian catastrophe was averted only because the Cuban government has maintained” a health system that “is considered uniformly as the preeminent model of the Third World.”

And this is just one example.

-Speaking to VOA you argued that despite the normalization of ties with Cuba, the sanctions are still in force; can you discuss this in details?

We cannot talk about “normalization” so far. There is a process towards normalization that started on December 2014. There is still a long path to travel. Economic sanctions have to be lifted. Steps have been taken towards this goal, but the network of sanctions is still in force.

As President of the United States, Barack Obama has the executive power to lift 90% of the economic sanctions. For instance, he could allow U.S. companies to trade with Cuban companies. He could allow Cuba to buy goods on the international market goods that contain more than 10% of U.S parts. He could also allow sales to Cuba by credit for non-agricultural products.

There are very few sectors that Obama cannot reach without the agreement of the U.S. Congress. There are actually four:

1. Obama cannot allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba as simple tourists.

2. He cannot allow the sale of U.S. food products by credit.

3. He cannot allow subsidiaries of U.S. companies located in third countries to trade with Cuba.

4. He cannot allow the trade with Cuban companies that were once U.S. companies before the nationalization process of the 1960s.

For point 1, there is a solution: He can broaden the definition of the categories of U.S. citizens allowed to go to Cuba. There are 12 categories of trips allowed, such as cultural, academic, professional, diplomatic, sport ones, etc.. For instance, he could broaden the definition of a “cultural trip” and say that all U.S. citizens who go to Cuba and visit a museum are to be considered as “cultural travelers”.

For point 2, Obama can allow the sale of all other products by credit.

For point 3, if Obama allows normal trade between U.S and Cuban companies, Cuba won’t have to buy, let’s say, Ford trucks in Panama if it is possible to buy them directly in the U.S.

For point 4, the obstacle is not particularly significant because only a few of the companies that were once nationalized are still operating in Cuba. In a word, Barack Obama can lift the economic sanctions.

On the other hand, other questions will have to be solved such as Guantanamo, the Cuban Adjustment Act, the financing of the dissidents, etc.

-In reality, would it be possible to normalize ties with the US government that once and for long tried to harm Cuban people through sanctions?  

It all depends on the U.S. It is important to remember that this is an asymmetric conflict with a hostile power harming a small country that had never attacked it. Washington has imposed economic sanctions since 1960. It also illegally occupies Guantanamo. The U.S. government finances an internal opposition to achieve a “regime change”. It also encourages illegal emigration through the Cuban adjustment act, a law that stipulates that any Cuban who can manage to get to the United States automatically receives permanent residency.

So, if Washington were to lift the economic sanctions, give Guantanamo back to the Cubans, put an end to the financing of an internal opposition on the island and abrogate the Cuban adjustment act, it would open the road to full normalization of relations

Washington has to abide by international law and base its relations with Cuba on three fundamental principles: equal sovereignty, reciprocity and non-interference in internal affairs. The United States also has to accept that Cuba is an independent country with a different political system and social model and that it is free to choose its own domestic and foreign policy. These conditions are not negotiable for Cuba.

-How can scientific and technological innovations diminish the power of economic sanctions?

Research can, in certain circumstances, allow us to find alternatives to sanctions. But it is not possible to underestimate the cruelty of economic sanctions, particularly on vulnerable people, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. Everyone knows that sanctions hurt the people and not the government. For this reason it is immoral to impose them on civilians.

-How independent countries can combat US policy of economic blockade?

A good way is to show the tragic impact of economic sanctions on civilians. The most dramatic example is Iraq where international organizations report that over two million people, among them one million children, died because of U.S economic sanctions.

I repeat, it is absolutely immoral to impose sanctions upon an entire country as the first to suffer will be the groups that are the most fragile.

 

A Doctor of Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, Salim Lamrani is a senior lecturer at the University of La Réunion, and a journalist specializing in relations between Cuba and the United States.

His new book is Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality, New York, Monthly Review Press, preface by Eduardo Galeano, translated by Larry R. Oberg.

Contact: lamranisalim@yahoo.frSalim.Lamrani@univ-reunion.fr

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

#Obama talking with cuban comedian “Panfilo”

Ever the good sport, the U.S. President even spoke Spanish in the televised clip.  On the eve of his first official state visit to Cuba, U.S. President Barack Obama received a highly important phone call from one of the Caribbean island’s most influential figures.

No, not revolutionary leaders Fidel or Raul Castro, but Panfilo, a character in a hugely popular comedy show, “Vivir del cuento”, on Television Cubana.

In the three-and-a-half minute video, Obama answers the phone to Panfilo, confirming that the elderly man has reached the White House.

“I can’t believe it! The real White House!” the comedian says, clutching a retro-looking phone.

“Oh my God, I’m talking to President Obama!”

Ever the good sport, Obama asks the comedian if he is indeed speaking to the real Panfilo, “from the TV show?”

Like a true Cuban, Obama asks in Spanish, “Que bola?” (“What’s up?”)
Panfilo goes on to give Obama some friendly advice, “don’t come with heavy luggage or you will get stuck at the airport,” and offers to find a car to pick him up, and even says Obama and his wife Michelle can stay in his bed.

But, he warns, the first lady would “have to sleep on the side next to the chest of drawers so she can sleep well.”

“The other side of the bed has a spring that sticks out and bothers me when I sleep,” he adds.

The historic new relations between Cuba and the U.S. could prove to ease the full-court press the U.S. has maintained against Cuba. Cuba has suffered under a blockade, invasion, sabotage, terror and destabilization campaigns led by the U.S.

In light of this, Cuba insists that in order for the normalization of relations between the two countries, the U.S. must end the 55-year-old blockade; return the illegally-held Guantanamo Bay; change its immigration policies toward Cuban migrants; stop transmitting radio propaganda into the country and attempting to build an opposition; and finally stop all attempts at regime change.

This is not the first time that Obama has taken part in a comedy skit. In 2014 the president was interviewed by Zach Galifianakis in the comedian’s parody show Between Two Ferns.
“Sorry I had to cancel a few times, my mousepad broke,” The Hangover actor tells a deadpan Obama.
Then the next President will have a full show for cubans?

Letter to the President of the #US by Adolfo Perez Esquivel – Nobel Peace Prize

President of the United States of America

Mr. Barack Obama

First please receive a fraternal greeting of Peace and Wellbeing

We have learned of your historical visit to Cuba and Argentina to strengthen bonds of cooperation with the recently elected government.

We followed closely the positive advances that, through Pope Francisco, have led to open the doors of hope and dialogue between the people of Cuba and the United States. You well know it is a long road to achieve lifting the blockade and close the military base that your country maintains in Guantanamo, where human rights of the prisoners are violated, without the possibility of achieving freedom. We hope you can do it in spite of the strong opposition of Congress of your country.In a letter you sent me last year, in contrast to your predecessors, you have acknowledged that your country violates human rights and have mentioned your will to “end this chapter of the history of the United States”.

That is why it is important for you to know that you are coming to Argentina. In 1976, while you were 14 years old and your country celebrated two centuries of Independence we began the most tragic period of our history with the installation of state terrorism that submitted our people to persecution, torture, death and disappearances to erase the right to liberty, independence and sovereignty.

I write to you as a survivor of this horror that, like many more, were victims of persecution, jail and torture for defending their human rights against the Latin American dictatorships imposed by the Doctrine of National Security and “Operation Condor” financed, trained and coordinated by the United States. It was this collective battle that awarded me the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the peoples of Latin America.

Meanwhile, the United States trained the Latin American Armed Forces in the School of the Americas (SOA) in techniques of torture and kidnappings. Here it promoted the local elites and neo liberal policies that destroyed the productive capacities of the country and imposed an illegal and illegitimate foreign debt. While acknowledging these actions we also recognized the solidarity of the people of the United States. Although exceptions were the former US president Jimmy Carter and the Secretary of Human Rights, Patricia Derian who denounced the actions of the dictatorship.

You will arrive in our country on the National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice, the same day that culminated 40 years of the last genocidal dictatorship of Argentina. It is also the 200th year of our national independence. Certainly you cannot ignore that your country has many pending debts with us and many others.

If your intention is to come here and acknowledge ,in the name of the United States of America, that your country backed the coups of the past and present in the region. By announcing that your country will sign and ratify the Rome Statute and submit to the International Court of Justice you will no longer be the only country in America that did not ratify the American Convention of Human Rights. It is good news that the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), will be closed as well as the “International Academy for Fulfillment of the Law” (ILEA), inherited from the School of the Americas. And that you will close the military bases the US has in Latin America. Then you will be welcomed any day in Argentina.

But, if you come intending to impose the Free Trade Treaty and to defend the privileges of transnational corporations that plunder the land of our peoples and mother earth. Or are you coming to support the illegitimate demands of the financial funds, the “Vulture Funds” as we call them here? Or is your intention to recommend the failed recipe of intervention by the Armed Forces in issues of internal security and with the excuse of fighting drug traffic and suppress popular movements? In that case we have no choice but to remember the words of the liberator Simón Bolívar who warned: “The United States seems destined by providence to plague Latin America and plunge in poverty in the name of liberty”.

The world power you represent has been behind all attempts at destabilizing popular governments in our continent, particularly Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras and many others. Upon 200 years of our independence I feel obliged to inform you that we do not accept old or new colonialisms; we do not accept a new Washington Consensus that imposes reforms of hunger and exclusion. The Latin American peoples already defeated the imperial project of the FTTA and will again confront all new attempts to impose similar ones.

If your intention is not to announce these reparations or prevent new unfortunate suffering then your visit will be a warning to most of the Argentine people as a provocation against our national identity: the defense of human Rights and of the peoples.

Many of us have been surprised by you official communication that your visit is to acknowledge the contribution of Mauricio Macri in defense of Human Rights in the region. The first time that Macri defended publicly human rights was to mention another country in which he does not acknowledge political manipulation against Venezuela is a policy of Human Rights.

We expect that this alleged recognition is not a destabilizing offensive against the sister Bolivarian Republic.

In the meantime Venezuela recently passed the “Special Law to prevent and punish Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments” increasing sentences to those who apply these practices.

In Argentina we are worried that in 2014 there were only 6 843 cases of torture in jails and now the president has said nothing, not one word. Not before or now.

I mention this because it is a concern of yours regarding your own country that has the largest number of prisoners in the world (one of every four prisoners are in North America) and also you know well that in these centers torture is applied routinely. As demonstrated in the complete report “Program for the Detention and Interrogations by the CIA” of the US Congress in 2014. We are urged to fight these practices throughout the world.

Peace depends on Justice. In reality we are committed to this road for those who are hungry and thirsty for Justice to guarantee full validity of the Rights of Persons and Peoples, of yesterday and today. This has granted Argentina the right to bring to court those who committed crimes against humanity.

For this reason it is important for you to know that on March 24 no president or personality can represent the Argentine people in all its diversity and represent itself with the slogans and peaceful demonstrations in all the streets and plazas of the country.

Clearly Pope Francisco declared in the Meeting of Social Movements in Bolivia: “The future of humanity is not only in the hands of great leaders, great power and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of the Peoples”.

That is why, if you don’t postpone your visit, you may hear what the Argentine people have to say to the world.

I again greet you with Peace and Wellbeing, wishing you strength and hope for the peoples.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel