Eileen Sosin Martínez

Eileen Sosin Martínez

Periodista cubana. Bicho nocturno, cafetera y buena amiga. Muy teatral (que no trágica), despistada y trabajadora, con malos pensamientos pero buenas intenciones.

A drink of rum Santiago

If you’re not used to it, you can’t drink it down in one gulp. One sip and then another; your glass is still almost full. “It’s a velvety rum with a lush bouquet, very enduring….” says rum master Tranquilino Palencia, speaking as though he were reciting a poem. He is referring to Santiago 500, the “newest” of the aged rums produced in Cuba, named in honor of the legendary eastern Cuban city’s 500th anniversary. It is the city where light rum was first created, in 1862, definitively surpassing the coarse pirates’ beverage known as rumbullion or tafia. Rum’s origins, intertwined with the sugar industry and slavery of the Spanish colonial period, root it firmly in the island’s identity and history. And of course, that ancestry is a motive for pride on the part of santiagueros. Architect Omar López, director of the Santiago de Cuba Conservator’s Office, explains the formula as if it were a riddle. “They say that Cuban rum is the best in the world. I think that if Santiago rum is the best in Cuba, then Santiago rum is the best on the planet.” This is also the city of boleros, son, trova…and musical tradition has become interwoven...

Photo: Alain L Gutierrez

5 Cuban Women Aspire to Be Master Rum-Makers

No woman in Cuba had ever had the chance to be trained to become Master Rum-Maker until 2009, when Isabel Cristina Rivero became the first candidate. She was later followed by Salome Aleman, Maria Caridad Portuondo, Noemi del Toro and Mabel Cuevas As recent chemistry graduates they all started out young in the rum industry, taking on different responsibilities within the production process. It was their experience, knowledge and love for what they do which saw these women selected as aspiring candidates. They will have to train for a total of eight to ten years to reach the level of maestra, so they still have a long way to go. In the meantime, their work includes carrying out laboratory tests, research and creating new rum blends. Isabel Cristina Photo: Alain L Gutierrez “My life completely changed: I got married and went to live in Cardenas where the famous old Arechabala rum distillery is located. I didn’t mind starting out as a production assistant, I wanted to know how to make rum, the physical-chemical process, how to determine the quality… “When I was selected, I saw it as a great commitment, even from a personal point of...

More Mexican Businesses in Cuba (+economic news)

Mexico’s Devox General Paint will set a production plant in the Mariel Special Development Zone, in Cuba –becoming the second company from that country to invest in the area, after Richmeat. The plant will be 100{bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de} foreign owned. In a communiqué, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the plant will produce paint for domestic use, as well as anti-corrosive paints for industrial use, both for the Cuban and the international markets. Also this week, a new interparliamentarian meeting was held between Cuba and Mexico, with the participation of 20 senators and 10 deputies, the Mexican Minister of Tourism, Claudia Ruiz, and a high-ranking official from the Bank of Mexico. In statements previous to the meeting, Senator Mariana Gomez said that the new situation in Cuba is opening new opportunities to expand business ties, and she mentioned Mariel as one of the potential areas for development. This is a case in which government plans coincide with business interests, which will give current and future Mexican partners more capacity of operation. Spanish Loans for Cuba It had been announced two months ago, during a bilateral business meeting, but now it is a fact: the Spanish Development Funding Company (COFIDES) opened...

Agribusiness and other economic news in brief

The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USAAC) reaffirmed its intentions to do business with the island nation this week in a letter they sent to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. In the document, the organization expressed its disagreement with travel and exports restrictions to Cuba. The ultimate goal would be to put an end to the embargo, they said, and liberalize trade between the two countries, so that American farmers can benefit from business opportunities in Cuba, a country with over 11 million potential customers. Also this week, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced The Cuba Trade Act of 2015, which seeks to lift the Cuba trade embargo to allow farmers, ranchers, small businesses and other private sector industries to freely conduct business with the country. The act would also grant U.S. financial institutions the freedom to extend credit to Cuba, while ensuring there is no financial risk to federal taxpayers; and maintain the current restrictions on federal taxpayer funds being used for trade promotion or market development in Cuba, while explicitly allowing private funds – including producer-funded checkoff programs – to be used for such purposes. Nearly 150 U.S. organizations have voiced their strong support...

New Enterprise Law and Other Economic News in Brief

A new enterprise law will come into effect in Cuba in 2017 with the aim of standardizing the different regulations that today apply to different types of state-owned companies. The measure is part of a process of economic reforms that began in 2011. In 2014, the 1,900 companies that today exist in the country were given more autonomy, but they are still too controlled by State administration institutions, and their freedom is very limited when it comes to finding new markets, importing products or using hard currency. Base Business Units (UEBs), for instance, have no legal personality and cannot, therefore, create bank accounts to be used for their operations. Such is the case of all the sugar mills in the country. According to the announcements made this week, Government Councils will be charged with “approving the strategic projection of companies, deciding on the pertinence of the production plan, and watching over the behavior of economic indicators,” once the law is passed. Spain’s Minister of Economy Will Visit Cuba in July Spain’s Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos will visit Cuba in July, at a date still to be defined. This visit gives continuity to the business mission from that country...

Cayo Santa María. Cuba.

Economic News in Brief

Cuban Hotels à la Française French companies Accor and Warwick International Hotels (WIH) announced that they will start managing hotels in Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria, in conjunction with Cuba tourist chains. These are the most immediate results of the visit of French President Francois Holland to Cuba in early May. The announcement did not go unnoticed for Spanish firms such as Sol Meliá, Iberostar, and Barceló, which are the biggest foreign investors in this sector in Cuba. Many people think that the quality of tourist services in Cuba has deteriorated, and that this new competition may have a positive impact in this branch. Business Prospects with Lebanese Companies A business delegation from Lebanon visited Havana, starting Wednesday, June 3rd. In addition to Bruno Zahr, an adviser for the Lebanese Minister of Economy, the delegation included representatives from 17 companies from different sectors, including food, energy, banking, pharmaceutics, telecommunications, real estate, trade, construction, transportation and medical equipment. In 2015, Cuba has received official business delegations from Spain, the United Kingdom and Hungary. Although no agreements have been signed so far, the visitors have announced that some 40 Lebanese companies will be taking part, for the first time, at...

From the called Casona of Diez de Octubre, each early January the Letter of the Year predicts hardships and fortunes / Photo: Carlos Ernesto Escalona Martí (Kako).

The Letter of the Year from inside

The hands were lengthening to the papers as to the bread. The press conference had finished and I also tried to get some of those printed sheets which –like bread- were not enough for everyone who filled the room. Neighbors, journalists, devotees, curious... From the called Casona of Diez de Octubre, each early January the Letter of the Year predicts hardships and fortunes. At times ones are more common than the others and vice versa. Within hours the cabalistic predictions of Ifa become a viral phenomenon, even beyond the Yoruba religion. "Look," a woman tells me while presenting me a tray with snacks. It is useless to decline the offer, nobody leaves without eating. I finally find the owner of the house, and she invites me to take a seat. But the interview does not start because Cuca, ensconced in her armchair-throne, constantly receives a kiss, a question: "Goodbye, my child," "blessings". It seems that everyone knows each other: godparents, godchildren, sisters and brothers ... The spiritual family is large. Smell of cigar, then coffee and a shot of rum to the closest. It seems that today is not going to be possible, it will be better tomorrow. "But get...

In 2015 the business system will maintain financial benefits that impact on capitalization, productivity and efficiency, starting by the retention of 50 percent of profits after tax / Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

2015 economic data

In late 2014 the deputies to the National People's Assembly approved the Plan of Economics for 2015 and the State Budget Law of the current period. During the sessions of the VIII Legislature was learned that the largest amounts of resources will be directed to revive key activities with direct impact on economic development; specifically the infrastructure and the productive sphere, and, within this, the manufacturing industry. Investments for the productive sphere and infrastructure This will reverse the low growth shown by the Cuban GDP in recent years. In 2015 Cuba is expected to increase its GDP by 4 percent. Cuban growth rate of GDP ({bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de}) This figure is supported on a 20 percent increase in investment, while in different areas are projected numbers between 4 and 15 percent higher than in 2014. Planned Growth by sector Meanwhile the plan envisages achieving greater efficiency in the use of energy carriers; maintain basic social services at similar levels, as well as the degree of occupation; although here a decline of 2.6 percent seen in the state sector, while the non-state sector grew by 7.4 percent. Employment Also making loans will expand by 29.7 percent, particularly with China, aimed at supporting the...

José María León, president of the Association of Basques in Cuba (AECV) / Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

“We, Basque entrepreneurs, want to participate in the development of Cuba”

Sosin Eileen Martinez "If we are mention that several companies have more than 30 years working in this market, it indicates that there are very positive aspects: there are many needs, well-trained people; There are affinities and we understand each other". So says José María León, president of the Association of Basques in Cuba (AECV), an organization established since the early 2000s. The industry has been the key sector where they have operated, although this specialization allows them, in turn, to expand to other fields. "We have a great capacity to manufacture machinery for the food area. If we talk about telecommunications, we have industries of mobile phones, with which we are well positioned. In the field of renewable energy we also work in wind energy and photovoltaic systems. "When we say industry it can be the cigars, nickel, tourism, construction ... For any subject of these in the country, certainly there will be one or two Basque companies that will be participating in some way or the other," says the official. From this path, marked by a serious and professional image, Leon speaks on some prospects for joint ventures, which will be formed under the Law on Foreign Investment...

Planetarium of Old Havana / Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

Stargazing from Havana

"Yes, good morning, tell me." It's Monday, the day of booking, and the phone has not stopped ringing at the Planetarium of Old Havana. The tours will begin on Wednesday, as usual, so there is time before the place is full of kids wondering why Saturn has a hula. Dominique Ballereau, astronomer at the Paris Observatory / Photo: Roberto Ruiz. Then it's all calculated, clever, with cosmic precision for Dominique Ballereau, astronomer at the Paris Observatory, Astrophysics to begin his course. This is the third edition, continuity of the previous two: Solar System, Stars, and now Milky Way. "It's always a great pleasure to be here with you," says the professor, and thanks the Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (IGA) for the invitation. Engineers, cyber and physics scientists make up the audience, almost all young, will fall into place in the theater space, a site with reclining seats-exactly what they needed to look at the sky, located within the planetary sun. The professor announces the agenda: dimensions and mass, kinematics, radial velocities, the overall galactic rotation curve, interstellar matter, the super-galactic disk; formation, magnetic field and chemical evolution of the galaxy stellar nature of the population...

Sales of Cuba to the EU mainly include fuels, minerals, oils and traditional items such as cigars, rum, nickel, scrap metal, and sugar / Photo: Rolando Pujol.

Cuba and the European Union closer in trade

In 2013, transactions with the European Union-and the continent in general accounted for 28.3 percent of Cuba's foreign trade. This figure breaks down into 36.7 percent of Cuban exports to the EU market and 25.9 percent of national imports from that region; according to data from the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Cuba, during the recently concluded International Fair of Havana, FIHAV 2014. Sales of the island to the EU included mainly fuels, minerals, oils and traditional items such as cigars, rum, nickel, scrap metal, and sugar derivatives. Meanwhile, from the European Union Cuba imported food, chemical, plastics and glassware, machinery, equipment, metals and manufactures. Cuba imports from the European Union Cuba exports to the European Union Among the top 10 trading partners of Cuba appear four countries of the regional bloc: Spain, third; Holland, in seventh; Italy in the ninth; and France, in the tenth. Celia Labora, Director of International Relations of the Cuban Chamber explained that the volume of trade confirms the importance for enterprises on the island to be updated and well-prepared to enter the European markets, and to know the regulations that affect their exports. Coinciding...

Xulio Fontecha, AEEC Board president

Spanish business, 20 years in Cuba

Currently, Spain is Cuba’s third largest trading partner -behind Venezuela and China, with a total flow of imports and exports close to 1 billion Euros at the end of 2013. The Iberian country is among the main sources of investment to the island, and ranks first in tourism joint business. Reconciliation in economic matters has been endorsed since 1994 by an Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (APPRI by its Spanish acronym). Also, the Cuba -Spain Business Committee, which 19th work session took place last December, contributes to the regularity of the links. International Economic Associations of the 15 main investor countries in Cuba In this context, the Association of Spanish Entrepreneurs in Cuba (AEEC by its Spanish acronym), which already has two decades of existence, seeks to strengthen these relationships and secure involvement in the domestic market. The institution brings together around 200 business men and women, representatives of recognized companies such as Banco Sabadell, Miguel Torres, Bankia, Sol Melia, Iberostar, BBVA, Vima, among others. Xulio Fontecha, AEEC Board president, spoke with OnCuba about the prospects and current scenario of the economic and trade relations. How could you summarize, broadly, the experience of Spanish businessmen in these...

Willliam LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh

Two books for the dialogue between Cuba and the United States

The diplomatic ties between Cuba and United States ceased in 1961. Since then there is a secret bridge between Havana and Washington, a path that seeks to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable. That is the topic of ¨Back Channel to Cuba, The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, ¨by Willliam LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh; and ¨De la confrontación a los intentos de “normalización”. La política de los Estados Unidos hacia Cuba¨ (From the confrontation to the attempts of "normalization". The policy of the United States towards Cuba), by Elier Ramirez and Esteban Morales. These are two books on the same story, told by the people from here and there. "For me it's a historic day, because we have been working for almost 20 years in researching, writing, finding documents ... and the idea was always to come to Cuba to compare our story with yours," Kornbluh said during the presentation yesterday, at Villena Hall in the National Association of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC by its Spanish acronym). "This was our mission -he added,- to tell the civil dialogue, secret talks, negotiations between governments, and learn the lessons of this story to change the narrative in the United States,...

New perspectives on the Cuban economy

Almost none of the teachers who participated in the first edition could have imagined the book, like a TV series, would reach its "fifth season". However, since 2010 Miradas a la economía cubana ¨Looks to the Cuban economy¨ has become an academic research on the main changes occurring in the country. Under the axis "From a provincial perspective," this volume addresses the financial and administrative management, tourism, employment, local development, planning, among other edges of the provinces and municipalities of the Island. In the articles, compiled by Ricardo Torres and Omar Everleny converge experts from the capital, who in the words of Torres, are seeking to abandon their “Havana-centrist" vision; along with scholars and officials from Cienfuegos, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara and Holguin. This combination resulted from workshops held in recent months in the provinces, with the help of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID), the embassy of that country as well as the ones from Norway and the UK. "It is increasingly clear that issues related to territorial decentralization and strengthening of local governments are probably the most backward in the process of updating the economic model, points in the prologue Carlos García Pleyán....

Angola

Cuba and Angola: Business is business

Although relations between Havana and Luanda are some decades old, economic and trade ties seem to have strengthened more recently. This can be inferred by the mutual visits by officials, and the president José Eduardo Dos Santos last June; and the cooperation documents signed and the growing presence of Cubans in that country. Currently there are more than four thousand Cubans working there, mostly in education and health. It stands out that, in addition to those arriving by a state enterprise, others travel on their own initiative, in search of employment opportunities and higher wages. Unofficial estimates have about six thousand of these "entrepreneurs." Meanwhile, the operations of the sub-Saharan nation are noted here as well, especially with Angolan Airlines (TAAG), the only company with direct flights between the island and Africa; and the oil company Sonangol, which has signed a contract for the exploration at risk in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico. Tourism on the island also has investment potential. All this occurs in a context of relative economic prosperity, evident for several years in that country, which in turn attracts international attention. The market profile developed in 2010 by the Center for...

A cup of coffee at Portocarrero´s house

"Did you want something?" the girl asked me, in a tone that really means "What are you looking at?". "A coffee," I say to justify my presence. She pours me an amber liquid, sweet, and puts the glass on the counter. Calzada del Cerro number 1301between Consejero Arango and Carvajal. It is a small time cafe, but in this house the painter René Portocarrero was born 102 years ago. Beside the door a brass plate identifies the location; the second last name is missing a letter. Sure, everyone pays more attention to the board, announcing pizzas, spaghetti, bread and omelet, bread and jam, ground peanuts, meringues, juices, soda, fried pork skins... After all, a cafe is a cafe. Interior del Cerro (René Portocarrero, 1943) This neighborhood, once bourgeois and refined, inspired the Interior del Cerro series (1943-1944), "one of our artistic plots where the Cuban naturally reaches its universality" as José Lezama Lima, the poet wrote, in 1966: "Many of the palaces of that neighborhood have been destroyed or their system altered, or just kept the spell of one of its fragments. Portocarrero was able to rebuild it in his existence, supported by his childhood memories....

Reconstrucción de una Villa Taína en Cuba

Cuba, a name with native origins

Colon wanted to name the island Juana, and then, by means of a royal decree, it was named Fernandina. If preserved, we would be called horrible names today. While the Spanish conquest changed the native names of almost the entire Caribbean, the “big land, properly sowed” – which is the meaning of Cuba – managed to keep its name. “When we say ‘Cuban’, we are using a native term by an autochthonous tribe called Taino”, explained professor and researcher Jose Barreiro. Despite what specialists call “extinction myth”, the culture and the national identity still preserve a strong aboriginal influence, mixed with the European and the African. Therefore, the blending comes from three different sides. In fact, a study carried out last year revealed that 9,4 per cent of genes with native-American origins among the subjects analyzed. According to estimations, in Cuba there are about 1800 descendants from aboriginals, grouped in about 300 families. The most popular are the Rojas Ramirez, in the mountains in the eastern part of the country; they have kept some traits, living styles and costumes from their first ancestors. “However, this is not about racial purity or frozen culture”, Barreiro noted. It is about indigenous awareness...

Photo: Kako.

African Catwalk

Perhaps the red carpet is the only thing in common with a big "fashion show". Because not all of these models are so skinny, so high, so young. They are just beautiful. "What we see today is the African splendor," says American designer Januwa Moja. Moreover, this is another sense of style, of beauty. July 31 is the Day of the African woman, perfect moment for the legacy of ancestors to take shape and color which in Cuba means root, stem, flower; that´s the reason for this parade. No electronic music: as background you hear drums, cymbals and flutes. The seductive rhythm gets them dancing in the body, and they dance as they walk, dance and smile. That is, of course, Oshun, with gold, with afeather fan. The other there, a goddess of blue lips. Moja called her creations "wearable art", a name that makes them full justice, while several become collector's items in galleries and American museums. Pride. Memory. Two words. "My inspiration comes out of our origins: I did not come here by myself, were other hands that put me in that way," tells the designer, like if Malcolm X was speaking through her mouth. "I use art...

Cesario Melantonio Neto, embajador de Brasil en Cuba

Brazil aims at balancing trade with Cuba (+ Video)

Relations between Brazil and Cuba have continued to improve in recent years, and today can be described as very good, according to Cesario Melantonio Neto, that country's ambassador in Havana. Currently the Special Area Development Mariel constitutes the larger joint initiative, he said in an interview with OnCuba. "We are very excited about the project. This year we have had visits from various trade missions, with over 100 Brazilian companies. We don’t only look at Mariel, but also to other provinces where these companies can be installed. "There are a lot of expectations, so they come here and are not just Brazilian multinationals that are already established in Cuba, we also received many SMEs who were here for the first time and had a very positive impression," he said. The ambassador noted that the fundamental attractions of the Cuban market have to do with the new Foreign Investment Law and the strategic position of Mariel, which allow Brazilian companies to produce for the Cuban market, re-export to his country and to other nations of the continent. The credit provided by Brazil amounts to $ 900 million, an amount that makes it the largest investor in the Mariel Zone. There the...

Industria de Envases y Embalajes

Producing, packaging and packing

The packaging industry is another sector for potential investments in Cuba. Recently, as part of the CubaIndustria Convention, the 2014 Havanapak international conference devoted its discussions to raw materials, quality, design, logistics, warehousing, domestic and international laws, health fitness and advanced technologies. This is one of the lines to where authorities recommend channeling new business in the Special Development Zone Mariel. According to what Juana Iris Herrera, director of Containers and Packaging Industries Ministry (Mindus), told the press, negotiations with the Brazilian company Odebrecht are underway in these moments to construct a plastic producing complex at the ZEDM. The objectives would be to replace imports and, where available capacities, export to nearby markets. The project of a glass factory in conjunction with partners from Brazil is also evaluated. Area A-8 of the ZEDM, with 239.8 hectares, is dedicated to the processing and handling of food products and among the facilities of the port there is a terminal for this purpose. Here packaging lines should be established in order to complete the production chain. In addition, Act 118 includes among its priorities the industry in general, and within it, the food, pharmaceutical and biotechnology branches, activities that consume higher volumes of...

Empresa estatal cubana

The time of the state enterprise

At the end of April the Official Gazette published several norms of different ministries, establishing the first legal steps towards greater autonomy of the socialist state enterprise. This will remain the main ownership form in the Cuban economic model as expressed by the authorities, and as stated in the guidelines-which attaches particular importance to the new measures. After fulfilling commitments to the state, the 2,472 companies in the country may sell, on wholesale basis, their production surpluses to third parties with legal personality, ie also to cooperatives. They will also keep 50 percent of profits after tax, whereas previously they only retained 30 percent. Increased revenue through these channels will be allocated to research and development (R & D), training, investment, recapitalization, plus pay workers according to their results. While people should not expect "dramatic effects", this is a significant development for superior economic growth, says Humberto Blanco, director of the Humberto Blanco, director of the Center for Cuban Economy Studies / Photos: Roberto Ruiz Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, institution that turns 25 in 2014. How can we summarize the situation of state enterprises at the time that these regulations are implemented?...

CANEC, consultoría económica, comercial y financiera

CANEC, a guide for doing business with Cuba

Accessing new markets can be a complex process, and in the Cuban case is no less so, especially in times of economic and legal changes in the country. Advising foreign entrepreneurs on the road to do business with Cuba is one of the objectives of CANEC, an economic, commercial and financial consultancy that has over 20 years experience in these areas. Its services, also meant for national entities, include audits, processing and accounting systems and internal control procedures, advice on business organization and logistics in warehousing, transportation and production. Similarly, they offer management training and training of personnel; monitoring, evaluation and monitoring of projects in the investment phase, pre-investment studies, information technology, among other benefits. Such would result in increasing the efficiency of processes, shortening transactions and increase yields. Eduardo Bencomo, Director of Development of CANEC states that this company has about 60 contracts with foreign customers from Spain, Italy and Panama plus Germany, Canada, China, France, among others. That includes the Bureau Veritas and Homa sports shoes brand. "Our job is to teach the country, existing regulations, for them to know the political structure, new legislation, how to move in the Cuban market." In this sense, the processing and...

Tumba Francesa La Caridad de Oriente

“Without catá drums there is no tumba francesa”

Queli loves candies made with coconut and sesame. Her constant smile foresees an easygoing character, perhaps because of that she looks younger, “let’s not talk about age –women should not be asked about that”. She belongs to the seventh generation of the Venet Danger family, which has kept active the society Tumba francesa La Caridad de Oriente, in the eastern Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba. She can’t cook yet; she is waiting for her mother to reveal her some secrets treasured for a century and a half. However, she is old enough to undertake certain responsibilities such as “para decirle a usted”: she is Mayora de Plaza, or gobernadora de salón, and in addition she plays the catá drum, a leading instrument in percussion. “Without catá drums there is no tumba francesa”, she said proudly. These are the same drums since the foundation of the society on February 24, 1862. They are still preserved in perfect conditions, as a live relic, drummers are in charge of repairing and tuning them. It is said that during the independence wars some of those rustic empty trunks were used for transporting weapons. The party starts, that’s the meaning of tumba: joy, revelry....

Waiting for the train

Since mid 2000 the Cuban railroad system is rolling towards modernization. The slow process in itself - because of obsolescence and deterioration of roads, stations and vehicles - has been further delayed due to multiple organizational, of investment, imports, and qualified personnel difficulties. Recently, these issues were back in the news, it was announced that trains will be key in the internal movement, to and from the Special Area Development Mariel. A few days ago industry officials reported progress in the transportation of cargo, and they have already started the first repair actions in the Havana Central Station. During the sessions of the National Assembly of People's Power , last December , Raúl Pérez Ramos, first vice minister of Transportation, announced that they were working to acquire 240 new passenger cars, manufactured in China. The total value surpasses 150 million dollars, so as the official explained then, authorities are looking for a long-term loan to ensure the purchase. If the negotiations are fruitful about 50 wagons would enter the country annually, which would mean a stabilization period of 4 to 5 years. However, the optimal functioning of the system requires more than cars. The problems range from the infrastructure itself...

France and Havana, heart of the International Tourism Fair

The most important tourist event of Cuba is at the gates of the fortress of La Cabaña. Between May 6 and 10 the 2014 FITCUBA bring together tour operators , airlines, travel agencies and hotel groups, with the aim of promoting national tourism , strengthen working relationships and identify new business opportunities. Dalila Gonzalez, Director of Communication at the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) explains that many companies take advantage of this space to organize the hiring of the next season and evaluate investment projects. "We have high expectations for the show, because always in that context initiatives arise that enriches our industry." France will have special importance as a guest country, and will bring a sample of its culture, cuisine, along with various entertainment activities. The French delegation includes the overseas territories of Martinique and Saint Martin. Fleur Pellerin, State Secretary for Foreign Trade and Tourism, will also give a lecture at the opening of the meeting. Also training centers for tourism professionals are expected to attend. Such is the case of the Tyrell Guilleme Institute, which will establish talks with its Cuban counterpart, Formatur. According to information provided by the Economic Service of the French Embassy in Havana, the...

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