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Cuba News

This section provides information for people who travel to Cuba and/or want to know or read about what is happening in Cuba.  We write and select articles that we think will interest you the most.  We happen to believe that today that much of the American news media is little more than organizations owned by rich guys and manufacturers of war equipment marching in lock-step with the American politicians they helped put into public office.  All the more reason to read Cubanews for the stories many in our government and the media don't want you to hear.

Nov 28, 2016 - Trump threatens to end Obama administration deal with Cuba.  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/28/trump-threatens-to-terminate-us-cuba-deal-if-cuba-is-unwilling-to-make-a-better-deal.html

Nov 26, 2016 - Fidel Castro dies at age 90. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/world/americas/fidel-castro-dies.html

Mar 15, 2016 - Obama announces loosening of restrictions on educational travel to Cuba.

Mar 03, 2016 - Rolling Stones announce they are playing a free show in Cuba on March 25, 2016 - http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/01/468752296/rolling-stones-announce-landmark-concert-in-cuba

Feb 24, 2016 - US researchers to study a cancer vaccine developed in Cuba - https://www.good.is/articles/cuban-cancer-vaccine-may-come-to-us

Jul 20, 2015 - US and Cuba officially restore diplomatic relations.  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-cuban-diplomatic-ties-officially-restored-after-5-decades-n394906

Oct 30, 2014 - United Nations votes 188-2 for the US to lift embargo against Cuba.  http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/28/uk-cuba-un-idUKKBN0IH1R520141028

May 29, 2014 - American Chamber of commerce visits Cuba for the first time in 15 years: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-27614379

May 15, 2014 - Cuban Interests section in Washington DC renewing passports even though consulate is closed. http://www.granma.cu/idiomas/ingles/international-i/15mayo-pasaporte.html

Feb 19, 2014 - The recent issues with the Cuba interests section in Washington not issuing visas for US travelers does not effect those who are picking up their tourist cards (visas) in Cancun, Nassau, Mexico City, or Grand Cayman.

May 28, 2013 - Cuba expanding public access to the internet (including locations) http://granma.cu/espanol/cuba/28mayo-cuba.html

Jan 11, 2012 - Pope to Visit Cuba  http://www.npr.org/2012/01/11/145044263/pope-to-visit-cuba-to-endorse-churchs-growing-role

Aug 27, 2010 - Cuba embracing free market reforms http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100827/ap_on_bi_ge/cb_cuba_market_reforms

Sep 15, 2009 - US/ Obama extend trade embargo against Cuba - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8256196.stm

March 12, 2009 - Travel restrictions relaxed for Cuban Americans - http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/11/us.cuba.policy/index.html?iref=newssearch

Sep 10, 2008 - Havana escapes major damage from Hurricane Ike - See video at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7607563.stm

Sep 02, 2008 - Hurricane Gustav damage

May 15, 2008 - Hemingway Billfishing Tournament - June 09-14, 2008

April 30, 2008 - Busiest first quarter ever for Cuban tourism

July 27, 2007 - Pastors for Peace challenge embargo.

June 21, 2007 - Rangel plans to introduce legislation to ease travel ban

January 29, 2007 - Lawmakers see an end to the travel embargo coming soon.

October 25, 2005  Cuba Tourism sector recovering quickly from Hurricane Wilma.

September 03, 2005  According to CNN.com Fidel Castro has offered to send 1100 doctors and 26,000 tons of medicine to treat victims of hurricane Katrina. Hopefully, the US will take him up on his offer.

August 08, 2005  Ibrahim Ferrer dead at 78

July 14, 2005  Hurricane Dennis damage update - July 14, 2005

July 14, 2005   Hotel Saratoga to open in Old Havana on September 01, 2005

May 10, 2005  Audioslave, an American rock band, plays to tens of thousands at a concert in Havana

March 30, 2005  US congressmen speak out against trade and travel restrictions (from Granma Internacional)

October 28, 2004   Cuba to stop accepting US dollars. Bring Euros!

October 28, 2004  UN votes to end US blockade against Cuba, again 179 to 4

September 16, 2004  House drops debate on Cuba travel ban - Write your congressman to complain!

September 09, 2004  US Senate Panel approves lifting travel ban (from Reuters)

August 17, 2004   Treasury department reviews new Bush measures against Cuba

August 15, 2005

From Granma Internacional

Hurricane Charley leaves considerable damage

Four people reported dead. More than 215,000 people and 158,680 animals evacuated. Evaluation of losses continues

WHILE it is still not possible to definitively quantify the magnitude of the damages left in the wake of Hurricane Charley, preliminary evaluations indicate considerable harm done to the electric system and housing.

According to a spokesman for the National General Staff of the Civil defense, the following deaths were reported: in Havana province, Jesús Rosado Méndez, of Alquízar (when a palm tree fell on his house and it collapsed); Ivá Núñez Díaz, of Güira de Melena (when a building collapsed); Juan José Figueroa Alonso, of Mariel (drowned) and Jesús Suárez Sanz, of San Antonio de los Baños, (when a tobacco shed collapsed), while five people were reported injured in the capital, one of them seriously.

More than 215,000 people were evacuated from the most dangerous areas, of which only 35,749 were housed in shelters, given that the rest went to the houses of relatives, neighbors and friends, showing once again the spirit of solidarity of the Cuban people in times of catastrophe.

Efforts to repair damage to high-tension wires, posts, cables and transformers - essential materials to reestablish electric service to the city of Havana, the province of Havana and Pinar del Río Province, are being checked daily by representatives of the country’s leadership, the Ministry of Basic Industry and the National Electric Company at every level.

On Sunday, Víctor Puentes Monto, director of Nacional Regulation, told Juventud Rebelde that "in the case of the city of Havana, the provincial Electric Compnay director, Rosell Guerra, informed that of the city’s 224 circuits, 159 now have electricity. The other 65 are pending."

By 7 a.m. Saturday, some 10,381 houses had been affected by Charley’s passing, and 383 of them had totally collapsed, according to Juan Carlos Cruz, provincial director of the Unit of Housing Investment in Havana.

The water supply situation has improved within the last 24 hours, according Alfredo Pérez, provincial delegate of the Ministry of Hydraulic Resources in Havana. All water sources were reestablished in the eastern section of the city, some in the south, and in the municipality of Cotorro, he told JR. The most critical problems are in the central-western area, he said, given that the electricity was yet to be reestablished for the Sur, El Rincón and Los Meireles reservoirs.

In the Province of Havana, there were at least 989 buildings that were totally destroyed, and 1,020 partially destroyed, and 9,000 other houses suffered damage. In Pinar del Río, Havana Province and the city of Havana, some 502 schools were damaged.


July 2004

Pastors for peace greeted at the border by approximately 100 federal agents representing numerous agencies. They had been delivering Humanitarian aid to Cuba. Your tax dollars at work.

July 01, 2004

House members to block funding on Bush's new travel restrictions

WASHINGTON - (Daily Journal) - House members will attempt to block funding for new travel and spending restrictions on Cuban Americans that the Bush administration will begin enforcing. Calling the new limits cruel and immoral, House members said they will try to prevent the Treasury Department from spending money to enforce the regulations. The lawmakers met with Treasury and State Department officials to urge the administration to back off its latest effort to clamp down on the Castro regime. "These new rules and regulations are at best mean-spirited and immoral; they have no rationale that is acceptable," said Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., a leader of Congress' Cuba Working Group. "And they inflict pain and anguish on families not only in Cuba but here in the United States." The new sanctions also came under fire from a Florida lawmaker who has been a consistent backer of the administration's travel embargo to Cuba. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., said that the regulations, which limit Cuban Americans to one trip to their homeland every three years, will hurt innocent people in both countries. Davis also introduced legislation to reverse the new changes and maintain the current standards, which allow Cuban Americans to visit once a year and lets them send a maximum of $1,200 a year to families in Cuba.

Cubans, he said, depend on their U.S.-based relatives "not only for moral support but also for the delivery of food, medicine, clothing and money." Delahunt said the meeting with Dan Fisk, the deputy assistant secretary of state, and Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Richard Newcomb, was tense. Of particular concern, said Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., is the new limit on visits. "I don't know that I have ever seen anything that is so antifamily in my life," she said, noting that a person visiting a dying mother in Cuba would not be allowed to return for a funeral if it were to take place in the same three-year period. "It makes me mad to talk about them." Other new rules limit travel for athletic teams, prohibit Cuba travelers from bringing up to $100 worth of merchandise back to the United States as previously allowed, and allow Cuban Americans to send money home only to immediate family members. We believe that family members and loved ones in Cuba should be able to live the same free and prosperous lives we enjoy in the Untied States," said Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise. "These strengthened measures, which will choke off the hard currency aiding and abetting the Castro regime, will help bring that day closer." House members said they are supporting Davis' legislation, but their first and best opportunity to block the new sanctions will be in the treasury appropriations bill that is expected to come up next month.


June 17, 2004

OFAC announces new regulations that will make it more difficult for Cuban Americans to visit their families in Cuba.

Click this link to read the new regulations:  http://www.treas.gov/offices/eotffc/ofac/actions/20040616.html

The New regulations will clearly have a negative effect on both Cubans in Cuba and Cuban Americans who wish to visit their family members there. This appears to be the latest attempt of a desperate president who's popularity has plummeted in recent months to gain popularity in southern Florida. However, we feel that this will backfire as most of the Cuban Americans that we talk to are opposed to the new regulations. Many have called the new regulations unconstitutional and have even compared Bush to Castro in regards to their stances on the liberties of their people. It seems like the last 40 plus years of the failed embargo might clue the US government in to the fact that IT DOESN'T WORK.

Prominent American Leaders Call Upon Administration to Lift All Restrictions on Humanitarian Trade and Travel to Cuba

 WASHINGTON, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of prominent
business leaders, ex-government officials, elected officials and humanitarian
leaders from across the nation today, in an open letter to President Bush,
called on the administration to work with the majority of members of Congress
who seek to lift all restrictions on humanitarian trade and free travel to
    The letter was issued by Americans For Humanitarian Trade With Cuba (AHTC)
in response to the administration's recent adoption of measures that would
limit Cuban American family visits, humanitarian aid and travel recommended by
its interagency Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.
    "These draconian and anachronistic limits on family interaction play right
into Castro's hands," AHTC Chairman Sam Gibbons, a former 34-year member of
Congress from Tampa and WWII war hero, said.  "It's time we turned the tables
on Castro by increasing -- not limiting -- American interaction with the
people of Cuba by allowing free travel and normal humanitarian trade."
    "Mikhail Gorbachev asked President Bush to 'tear down the wall of embargo'
when he came to Miami to support the majority of Cuban Americans who want more
engagement with Cuba.  Instead, President Bush has built a wall so high we
cannot even see our families in Cuba anymore," said one of the signers of the
letter, Silvia Wilhelm, President of Miami-based Puentes Cubanos and a member
of AHTC's Advisory Council.
    Text of the letter and list of signers follow:

    May 20, 2004

    Dear Mr. President,

     We are proud of the historic tradition of Americans meeting the needs of
     hungry and sick people wherever they are found. Americans have been long
     recognized for being generous and giving. Few people have stronger
     historic, cultural and particularly family ties to Americans than the
     people of Cuba.  For humanitarian reasons alone, they deserve our

     In this spirit, we are concerned that your recent moves to limit Cuban
     Americans' ability to help family in Cuba contradicts that historic
     tradition.  Despite the passage of legislation in 2000 which has allowed
     some American companies to make cash sales of food to Cuba, ordinary
     Cubans are also paying a bitter price for the continued restrictions on
     the sale of U.S, food and medical products.  The recent tightening of
     American travel limits the interaction so widely appreciated by the Cuban

     For our country to continue to deny the Cuban people the normal transfer
     of food and medicines and normal contact with American citizens achieves
     nothing.  Forty-three years of the strongest embargo in our history has
     resulted in increased hardship for the people of Cuba while making no
     change whatsoever in the political makeup of the Cuban government.  We
     can no longer support a policy carried out in our name which causes
     suffering of the most vulnerable-women, children and the elderly.

     We call upon you to work with a majority of members of the U.S. Congress
     who seek to lift all restrictions on the sale of agricultural products
     and medicines to Cuba including restrictions on travel to Cuba, which
     hinder the ability to meet with Cuban counterparts, block efforts to
     achieve humanitarian trade and violate Americans' fundamental right to
     freedom of movement. These changes would be totally consistent with
     current U.S. policy as expressed by the Department of State and spelled-
     out in the Cuban Democracy Act and the Helms-Burton laws to "support the
     Cuban people."


    David Rockefeller; South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford; Carla Anderson
Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative under first President Bush; Paul
Volcker, former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank; Frank Carlucci, Reagan
National Security Adviser; James Schlesinger, former Nixon CIA Director and
Secretary of Defense; John Whitehead, former Assistant Sec. of State; General
Jack Sheehan, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander; Peter H. Coors, Chairman,
Coors Brewing Company, Colorado; Craig L. Fuller, Former Chief of Staff, Vice
President Bush and President, National Association of Chain Drug Stores;
Francis Ford Coppola, producer/director;  Dwayne Andreas, Chairman Emeritus,
Archer Daniels Midland Company;  Mayor Micheal Dow, Mobile, Alabama;  Bob
Odom, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture; former U.S. Surgeon General
Julius Richmond; Oliver Stone, producer/director;  Dr. Alberto Coll, Pell
Center, Rhode Island (Cuban American); Silvia Wilhelm, Puentes Cubanos, Miami
(Cuban American); Richard E. Feinberg, Former NSC Chief for Latin America,
President Clinton; Phil Baum, American Jewish Congress; Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr.,
former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton; Reginald K. Brack, Jr.,
former Chairman, Time Inc.;  Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution;
A.W. Clausen, former Chairman BankAmerica Corporation and former President
World Bank;  Mark O. Hatfield, former U.S. Senator, Oregon, Chairman
Appropriations Committee; Dennis Rivera, President 1199, National Health &
Human Service Employees Union;  Kurt L. Schmoke, Former Mayor, Baltimore;
Sargent Shriver, Special Olympics International; Malcolm Wallop, Former U.S.
Senator, Wyoming; George Sturgis Pillsbury, Sargent Management Company,
Minnesota; Jim Winkler, General Secretary  United Methodist Church;  A.J. Pete
Reixach, Director, Port of Freeport, Texas and Former  Pres., Gulf Coast Ports
Association; Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, former U.S. Representative, now General
Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ of the U.S.A

     CONTACT: Lissa Weinmann (718) 416-1653

SOURCE Americans For Humanitarian Trade With Cuba
Web Site: http://www.ahtc.org



Policy on Cuba will cost Bush votes, group warns

A group of exiles says new restrictions on travel to Cuba will hurt relatives on the island -- not Fidel Castro's government.

By Luisa Yanez. lyanez@herald.com. Posted on Tue, May. 11, 2004

A new Bush administration policy limiting travel and cash remittances to Cuba will cost the president votes in South Florida come November, a group of exiles who favor eased relations with the island warned Monday.

Four days after President Bush's announcement, leaders of five organizations said at a press conference they will encourage exiles to work against the president's reelection -- putting them at odds with other exiles who support Bush's new policy.

''Some 140,000 Cuban exiles visited the island last year; 100,000 of those lived in South Florida,'' said Andres Gomez, head of the Antonio Maceo Brigade. "This will mean many of those who can't travel to the island will vote against Bush -- and for a candidate who allows travel to Cuba.''

The group of exiles, who often stage political battles with staunch anti-Castro exiles because they favor an easing of the U.S. embargo on the island, called the new restrictions ''a violation of their civil rights.'' The restrictions will be a blow to the Cuban people who depend on money from relatives in Miami-Dade and elsewhere in the United States to get by, they said.

Without their ragtag humanitarian aid, their relatives, not Fidel Castro's government, will suffer, they said.

''This is a political mistake and it's inhumane,'' said Max Lesnick of the Alianza Martiana. ''This will boomerang'' on the administration.

But other groups such as the powerful Cuban American National Foundation support tighter travel restrictions.

The group that held the press conference blamed the tightening of rules on ''the Cuban right who have no feelings for those on the island,'' Gomez said.

Last week, Bush said he will cut back Cuban Americans' family visits to the island from once a year to once every three years.

He'll also limit the length of a visit to 14 days, cut the amount U.S. visitors can spend there, and limit which relatives can travel there.

He also will restrict who can receive money, which can no longer be sent to individuals but only to a single household.

The president called for spending an extra $45 million over the next two years, putting the tighter sanctions in place and also the purchase of an airplane to better fight Cuba's jamming of Radio and TV Martí.

Felix Ramirez, 51, who arrived in the United States in 1969 and says he visits the island three times a year and sends cash to relatives regularly, said he has a terminally ill sister in Matanzas. He fears he won't see her again.

''She's dying,'' he said. "In three years, she'll be dead and buried and I can visit her bones in some cemetery.''


April 26, 2004

A student group from Michigan heading to Cuba. Click here for the story.

April 14, 2004

U.S. business sector interested in trade without restrictions

BY MARIA JULIA MAYORAL —Granma daily staff writer—

FOUR months after an earlier meeting in Havana, more than 400 representatives from 172 U.S. businesses and associations yesterday began the first round of negotiations for 2004 with the Cuban food import company Alimport at the capital’s International Conference Center.

Those attending the event range from the directors of small and medium-sized companies to executives from some of the most important agribusiness corporations in that nation, based in 30 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. This demonstrates a growing interest among those sectors in extending trade and eliminating restrictions that currently impede the purchase of goods, services and technologies developed in Cuba.

Businesspeople and political figures who spoke during the opening session referred to the obstacles imposed by the U.S. government. A Republican congressman from Idaho, C.L. Otter, referred to trade links as a source of jobs for his fellow citizens and emphasized the importance of pursuing Congress calls for the normalization of bilateral exchange.

According to Gary Sebree, president of the U.S. Rice Federation, Cuba could become the main market for his group’s producers if normal conditions existed. Gregory Webb, from the ADM grain company, equally emphasized the need to work towards eliminating the obstacles, adding that the long-term goal is to be associated with Alimport.

Loretta Sánchez, a Democratic congresswoman from California, said that Cuba “may offer services and technologies that we need in the United States.”


March 26, 2004

Effective July 1, 2004, Air Canada will boost its non-stop flights between Toronto and Havana, Cuba to daily service operated with Airbus A319 aircraft.  In the meantime, the carrier has introduced a larger Airbus A320 aircraft on the route in response to customer demand for the popular new service launched only last December.


US Senate votes to end funding for enforcement of the Travel ban against Cuba

The following is from cnn.com on October 23, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defying a threatened presidential veto, the Senate joined the House Thursday in moving to end four-decade-old restrictions on travel to Cuba.

"It is not constructive at all to try to slap around Fidel Castro by imposing limits on the American people's right to travel," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota.

The Senate voted 59-36 to bar the use of government money to enforce current travel restrictions. Last month a nearly identical measure passed the House, setting up a showdown with the administration, which says President Bush will veto a $90 billion Transportation and Treasury Department bill if contains the Cuba language.

"The administration believes that it is essential to maintain sanctions and travel restrictions to deny economic resources to the brutal Castro regime," the White House said in a statement.

The Treasury Department estimates that about 160,000 Americans, half of them Cuban-Americans visiting family members, traveled to Cuba legally last year. Humanitarian and educational groups, journalists and diplomats are also allowed visits, but thousands of other Americans visit illegally, by way of third countries, risking thousands of dollars in fines and imprisonment.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who co-sponsored the amendment to the spending bill with Dorgan, said the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, a key office in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, shouldn't be devoting resources to American tourists going to Cuba.

"Ten percent of the OFAC budget is used to track down little old grandmas from the West Coast who through a Canadian travel agency chose to bike in Cuba," he said.

Opponents warned that the provision sent a wrong signal at a time when the Castro regime has escalated its crackdown on dissidents. "Why should we now open up travel to Cuba to give additional cash flow to the Castro regime?" asked Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.


Travel, trade, not another crackdown, can aid Cuba

By DeWayne Wickham of USA Today                      Oct 13, 2003

The Bush administration's reasoning for tightening travel restrictions to Cuba needs a reality check.

President Bush said Friday that he has ordered a crackdown on illegal travel to the communist country. He announced initiatives "intended to hasten the arrival of a new, free, democratic Cuba."

Bush said he's doing this to stanch the flow of dollars to the government of Fidel Castro; to stem prostitution on the island, "a rapidly growing part of Cuba's tourism industry" that he said is encouraged by the Castro government; and to make it easier for people who want to leave Cuba to enter the United States.

Coming as it does just 13 months before the next presidential election, Bush's tough talk on Cuba has the unmistakable ring of a stump speech that caters to his political base in South Florida.

Illegal travelers to Cuba (about a third of the roughly 200,000 Americans who visit annually) aren't propping up the Castro regime. Most of the dollars that end up in Cuba come from Americans — largely, Cuban-Americans — who travel there legally and from people in the U.S. who send legal "remittances" of up to $1,200 a year to family members and friends. The State Department reports that those remittances total $800 million to $1 billion annually.

If Bush makes good on his promise to "increase the number of new Cuban immigrants we welcome every year," he will no doubt also increase the flow of remittances back to Cuba from those new immigrants. In other words, Bush's policy of going after illegal travelers while increasing the flow of Cuban immigrants into the U.S. won't be very effective if his goal truly is to reduce the amount of U.S. dollars that end up in the Cuban treasury.

Bush's assertion that his new policy is also meant to disrupt a growing, government-backed "illicit sex trade" spurred by tourism must have caused a lot of nervous laughter in Nevada, one of this nation's top tourist destinations. After all, prostitution is legal in most of that state's counties.

If Bush is serious about fostering change in Cuba, he will end both the restrictions that keep most Americans from traveling to Cuba and the long U.S. economic embargo. The vast majority of Cubans I've met during reporting trips to the island long for a better life there. Many even say the Castro government could do a better job. But most of them — like most Americans — are patriotic. They rally to support their government in the face of the United States' decades-old effort to topple Castro.

Even many of the dissidents and so-called independent journalists I've talked to in Cuba oppose the embargo. While it offers false hope to the aging vanguard of anti-Castro Cubans in South Florida, the embargo holds little promise of ever actually dislodging the island's communist government.

Bush's effort to destabilize Cuba by cracking down on illegal travel there while promoting increased Cuban migration here is a domestic political move, not a thoughtful act of foreign policy. Travel and trade have brought about impressive change in China and Vietnam. They can accomplish the same in Cuba — if given the chance.

Castro's alleged oppression of dissidents is not what keeps him firmly in power. Instead, the Cuban people continue to circle the wagons around him in response to the ill-conceived efforts of a long succession of U.S. administrations to bring down his government.

DeWayne Wickham writes a weekly column for USA TODAY.


US Congress votes to end funding for enforcement of the travel ban to Cuba!

September 10, 2003

On September 09, 2003 the US congress passed the Flake amendment which would end funding of the enforcement of the Travel Ban to Cuba. The amendment passed by a vote of 227-188. The Congress has passed similar amendments in the recent past, but the Senate has not put it to vote yet. Other amendments which also are also aimed at easing the Cuba trade embargo also passed. The Delahunt/Flake amendment on remittances, won 222-196. The Davis amendment on educational travel, won 246-173 Please write to your senators letting them know how you feel about the matter. Cuba Travel USA firmly believes in your right to travel.


From Granma Internacional

Exile leader stays in Cuba

Thursday, August 7, 2003 Posted: 8:45 PM EDT (0045 GMT)

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- A Cuban exile leader from Florida who has returned to visit to his homeland said Thursday that he would remain in Cuba to work for change.

Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo -- a former revolutionary fighter with Fidel Castro in the 1950s who later opposed the Cuban ruler's regime -- told reporters Thursday at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport that he would stay in the Communist nation to "rebuild the Cuban revolution."

"I come here to claim a legal space for the opposition, and I know that it will not be easy," Gutierrez Menoyo said. "It's a right as a Cuban to be here. The Cuban government is not making any concession. I don't have to ask anyone permission to live in my own country."

The Castro government, which jailed him for more than 20 years before sentencing him to exile, had no immediate comment.

Gutierrez Menoyo, 68, is a controversial figure among many Cuban exiles in the United States.

He opposes the U.S. embargo of Cuba and any other American tactics to oust Castro. He also has given up calls for an armed resistance in favor of working for movement toward democracy, even if Castro remains leader.

Gutierrez Menoyo has criticized exiles for having a too cozy relationship with the United States and has called on them to keep a distance from U.S. leadership to have what he calls a truly homegrown opposition movement.

Some exiles call him a virtual agent of Castro.

Born in Spain, Gutierrez Menoyo moved to Cuba with his family as a child.

In the 1950s, he commanded a guerrilla front to help overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who was ousted in 1959.

Gutierrez Menoyo later headed another commando force combating Castro's government in the 1960s.

He was captured and served 22 years in prison before being released in 1986 through the intervention of Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez Marquez.

Upon his release, the Cuban government sentenced him to exile.

In Miami, he married and had three children, and became leader of a group called Cambio Cubano, which means Cuban Change in Spanish.

Castro's government permitted him to come back for visits because he gave up his revolutionary stance and follows a more moderate approach, calling for peaceful steps toward free and fair elections and other civil changes. He also supports dialogue with the Cuban government.

Still, brief visits are all that have been allowed. He continues to call for changes that Castro will not accept and has told Cubans they cannot just wait for Castro to die before they obtain the freedoms they seek.

On Thursday, Gutierrez Menoyo was scheduled to return to Miami with his family, and he told reporters he'd have an announcement at the airport.

"As a peaceful activist, my attitude should not be seen as a challenge," he said, calling himself a "social democrat."

"I come with a transparent agenda to work with peace and reconciliation of all Cubans."

Asked whether it is naive to think he can live and operate freely in the country, he responded, "The day that I lose my dreams, I will be naive. I have come here in the hope that intelligence will reign in the face of the naiveté of those believing a system like this can last for eternity.

"We have to build peaceful solutions. There has to be dialogue. It has to be understood. And this has to be done despite the ambitions and personal interests of one man."

After his announcement, his wife and children boarded their plane, while he got in a taxi and went to the house where he grew up.

Before boarding the plane, his wife, Gladys Gutierrez Menoyo, said she supports her husband and hopes to be reunited with him in Cuba.

CNN Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman contributed to this report.



Story below from Granma Internacional

Cuba, tourism destination for the Chinese

Havana. July 24, 2003

CHINA and Cuba signed today in Beijing a memorandum of understanding via which tourist groups from that densely populated country of 1.3 billion inhabitants will vacation on the island.

The agreement was signed in the Beijing Hotel by Sun Gang, vice president of the Chinese State Tourism Council and Marta Maíz, the Cuban deputy minister of tourism.

In this way, Cuba has become the first country in the Western hemisphere to obtain the status of Approved Tourist Destination by the Chinese government.

To date, this giant Asian nation, the most populated in the world, has 28 memorandums of understanding with various states and regions.

The number of Chinese visitors abroad rose to 16 million last year.


U.S. citizens choose Cuba as
favorite destination

From Granma Internacional - July 29, 2003

NEW YORK.— Readers of a U.S. travel magazine have selected Cuba as their preferred destination within the Caribbean, despite the ban on travel to the island, where they are furthermore not supposed to spend any money.

Cuba was chosen by the readers of Travel and Leisure as the best Caribbean island in the publication’s annual survey.

It is the first time that the island – a favorite U.S. destination before 1959 – headed the poll, and last year it stood in eighth place. It was followed by Bermuda, the Grenadines, St. John’s and the Virgin Gorda.

Cuba already receives one million-plus tourists per year, above all from Italy, Spain and Canada.

On June 16, U.S. legislators asked President George W. Bush to eliminate the restrictions on travel to Cuba, which has confronted a U.S. economic blockade since 1961.

Republican representative Jeff Flake stated that the government should not decide people’s destinations, given that U.S. citizens can visit other socialist countries like China, North Korea and Vet Nam, while being threatened with fines if they spend dollars in Cuba.

Since Bush reached the White House in January 2001, more than 1,200 U.S. citizens have been threatened with fines of up to $55,000 USD for violating the travel restrictions imposed on Cuba. That figure is more than double that of persons fined during Bill Clinton’s eight-year mandate. (AFP)


For more information or reservations: