Eric Caraballoso

Eric Caraballoso

Corresponsal acreditado de OnCuba en La Habana.

Jean-Jacques Bastien, ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Cuba, gives the opening remarks of the Pymelab 2022 event, at the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel, in Havana, on April 28, 2022. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Pymelab 2022: event on MSMEs in Cuba

A little over a year ago, talking about micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Cuba was still a dream. As recently as December 2020, when the first edition of the Pymelab event was held in Havana, the regulations authorizing their creation had not yet been approved, although the possibility had already been officially handled and many people, both in the private sector and in the state and academic environment, advocated for their necessary legalization and insertion in the economic fabric of the island. Sixteen months later, at the time of the second edition of the meeting — organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Cuba, the agency and the Cuban Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP), in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union (EU) and AUGE SRL ― the reality is different. Since the authorization of the first 35 Cuban MSMEs last September, there are already more than 3,000 of these new economic actors, most of them private (3,093), to which are added 51 state-owned, and 50 non-agricultural cooperatives (CNA), according to data updated this Thursday. Of them, 56% correspond to reconversions of pre-existing businesses, 114 are part of local development projects, while...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Havana, de-escalation and the Malecón

These days Havana is no longer like it was a few weeks ago. The beginning of a new de-escalation, with the improved epidemiological indicators in the city, has brought changes in the general panorama, but, above all, in people’s perception, divided between those who enthusiastically embrace the “flexibility” of the restrictions and those who observe the new scenario with caution and even fear. Along with the restart of table service in restaurants and cafeterias, announced a week ago, with logical limitations, the long-awaited reopening of the beaches, swimming pools, gyms and the Havana Malecón seaside walk returns in more than one aspect the Cuban capital to the previous panorama upon the arrival of the coronavirus and gives the coup de grace to an idea of ​​confinement that, in reality, never fully came into being. And the fact is that, unlike other Cuban provinces and localities, which have applied more severe strategies during the prolonged and complex wave of COVID-19 in recent months, Havana has been more flexible with the measures and closing times and it has even kept urban transportation running throughout 2021. After more than a year of reporting its first cases, and with the masks already becoming...

Cuban Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Alejandro Gil: “We are prepared to take advantage of any economic opening with the U.S., but it doesn’t depend on us”

The deputy prime minister and head of the island’s economy also assured in a press conference that the monetary reorganization process “has not been a failure” and said that despite the complex scenario that the island is going through, his government does not renounce an economic growth of around 6% in the current year.

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Havana, between more infections and vaccinations

If someone from abroad were to walk the streets of Havana today, they would probably not be able to believe that the city is going through its most complex epidemiological situation of the entire pandemic. That every day an average of more than 600 new infections are diagnosed—more than half of those in all of Cuba—and several deaths due to COVID-19. That is not the gloomy panorama the city reflects, what people’s faces reflect. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Despite the dire statistics that are reported every morning, the continuous calls from the authorities and the protocols established to stop the infections, even when vaccination—by way of massive intervention—has been underway since this Wednesday, the Cuban capital is living a kind of reality limbo that seems to contradict all of the above. Although far from doing so, it reinforces it.   Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez It is an explosive cocktail that, almost miraculously, has not caused an even worse health outbreak; a scenario in which exhaustion and precariousness, the lack of risk perception and exigency, the irresponsibility of many and the indiscipline of many others, the accumulated need and stress, the spread of the most contagious strains of the coronavirus and also, why...

Parque de la Fraternidad

Faces and stories of the Parque de la Fraternidad

The daily and cosmopolitan life of Havana has one of its most representative places in the Parque de la Fraternidad. This vast esplanade, with its trees, benches, and monuments, is one of the Cuban capital’s points of greatest confluence, a place of passage and meeting, of rest and contemplation, and even of love dates and sexual skirmishes, although today the pandemic imposes an unusual landscape to its days and nights. Its real name, shortened by popular usage and rationality, is Parque de la Fraternidad Americana, and long before it is what it is today, the lands it currently occupies were mangroves and groves, in a colonial Havana that grew to encounter it. At the end of the 18th century, it would become a field for military exercises that would improve in its layout and infrastructure, and as such, with the name of Campo de Marte, it would reach the Republic. Then it would renew its image again and almost hosted a zoo, but the devastating cyclone of 1926 would destroy it and change its future. The Parque de la Fraternidad, in Havana. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez. In a short time, it would recover from nature’s fury to emerge as the Parque...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Animal welfare in Cuba: the regulations to come (II)

In the year that is just beginning, Cuba must finally have specific legislation on animal welfare. According to the legislative schedule updated at the end of 2020 by the National Assembly, the Council of State, a permanent collegiate body of the island’s parliament, must approve in February a decree-law on the subject, which would then be ratified by the Assembly in its next period of sessions. In addition, the Cuban government must also approve a state policy, of which the decree-law will be the legal instrumentation, with which both documents would unify, expand and update what has been regulated until today on this issue in the country and would respond to the hitherto postponed desires and requests of many people and animal groups that have gained visibility and multiplied their actions in Cuba in recent years. The Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG), whose functions include attention to animal health on the island, has been in charge of coordinating the drawing up of the policy and legislative regulation, with the support of other state entities and associations related to them. For this, a large working group was created, which remained active throughout 2020 and whose work has been based on the problems...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Animal welfare in Cuba: the regulations to come (I)

Although the issue of animal welfare and protection has been on the table for years in Cuba, with so far unfinished attempts to establish specific legislation in this regard, it has gained strength in recent times along with the claims of a growing sector of Cuban civil society. The popular debates around the island’s new Magna Carta, approved in a referendum in February 2019, exposed to public opinion the criteria and concerns of many Cubans about the treatment of animals in the country, both by state entities as well as by society itself, and they reinforced the need for up-to-date and comprehensive legal regulations, in tune with international advances in this direction. In this scenario, the actions of an active animal-friendly community, articulated mostly independently, which has developed numerous animal health and protection actions, has insisted on the approval of new regulations and has played an outstanding role in unprecedented events until recently on the island, such as peaceful protests and a march authorized by the government, as well as some spaces for dialogue and participation with state institutions. At the same time, the Cuban authorities finally gave the green light to the drawing up of a state policy and...

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