Rui Ferreira

Rui Ferreira

Mi padre era actor y mi abuelo general. Una mezcla lo suficientemente explosiva como para generar un tipo que solo hace preguntas, no le gusta las respuestas a medias, y refleja todo eso en la mejor profesión del mundo. Por lo demás, me gusta viajar y fotografiar. A veces eso da plata, otras veces solo entretiene. Pero siempre vale la pena. Por lo que queda, dejémonos de pretensiones.

Politicians and activists

Politicians and activists of the conservative Cuban exile ask Biden to maintain a hard line towards the island

Since Joe Biden arrived at the White House a month ago, Cuban exile politicians and activists have launched a series of proposals to the new president on the evolution of the ties between the United States and the island. So far the new administration has said twice that it is reviewing those links and that any change will be conditioned by respect for human rights and the participation of Cuban Americans in the process. So far, several proposals directed at the Democrat have called for a recovery of the thaw policy of the Barack Obama administration, of which Biden was vice president and even greater participation of American civil society. During his campaign, the current president advocated for unrestricted remittances and ties with Cuban citizens, as well as the reestablishment of consular and commercial ties allowed by economic embargo-related laws. In this context, on Wednesday a group of senators, congresspeople, mayors, councilors, and activists gathered at the Museum of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami to reject any improvement in relations between the two countries. The activity, organized by the conservative Inspire America foundation, was presented as a bipartisan initiative, but the truth is that only one Democrat intervened in the...

The president of the Cuba Study Group, Carlos Saladrigas. Photo: Alejandro Ernesto/EFE/Archive.

Cuba Study Group proposes to Biden roadmap to approach Cuba

With the arrival at the White House of Democrat Joe Biden, who was vice president of Barack Obama—the U.S. president who launched the thaw with Havana with the phrase “this conflict began before I was born”—, a basically Cuban-American study and analysis group has launched a document that proposes to the current president that he resume ties with the island. “The urgency of the moment, compounded by Cuba’s needs in the midst of the most serious economic crisis it has faced in a generation, calls for bold action. If both countries do not achieve a comprehensive policy of rapprochement this time and do not set the path to normalization on firmer ground, we fear that there will not be another opportunity like this for many years,” says the 26-page proposal to Biden, prepared by the Cuba Study Group. “We are not in the driver’s seat, we can just make recommendations,” the president of the group, Carlos Saladrigas, commented in an electronic press conference. Saladrigas is not new to initiatives to strengthen ties between the two countries. He has traveled to the island, has dialogued with civil society and has given lectures on the private sector. It’s not for nothing that...

Photo: Kaloian Santos.

Biden administration announces review of Trump Cuba policy

The White House announced this Thursday that the Joe Biden administration will review the United States’ current Cuba policy. According to an internal statement released by the administration press secretary, Jen Psaki, the plan is to unblock the policies of former President Donald Trump, who strengthened the economic embargo and re-entered the island on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. “Our Cuba policy is governed by two principles. First, support for democracy and human rights—that will be at the core of our efforts. Second is Americans, especially Cuban Americans, are the best ambassadors for freedom in Cuba. So we’ll review the Trump administration policies,” emphasized Psaki. During his four years in the White House, the Trump administration reversed the bilateral rapprochement promoted by the Barack Obama administration, of which Biden was vice president. New economic sanctions, application of the third title of the Helms-Burton Act, restrictions on remittances and travel to the island, withdrawal of diplomatic personnel and reduction of consular procedures to a minimum, were among the measures applied by Washington, along with a return to the confrontational rhetoric of the Cold War. However, already during his presidential campaign, the current U.S. president announced his intention to resume...

Joe García, together with private farmer Fernando Funes, from the Marta farm in Havana
province, specialized in organic products. / Courtesy of Joe García.

Joe García: “I don’t want to be an ambassador, what I want is to serve my community”

When José Antonio García, better known in Miami as Joe, was appointed executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation at the beginning of the new century, he didn’t even know what Cuba smelled like. Now, two decades later, he has been to the island five times and has conversed with important officials and academics. Those trips have allowed him to polish his vision of the land of his parents and grandparents. Joe was born in Miami Beach in 1963. He was a Democratic leader and a congressman from that party in the federal House of Representatives. He is a controversial politician in Miami because he tends to advocate topics that most disagree with. He does not hide that the economic embargo is counterproductive for both countries, and since the last decade he has been advocating the normalization of ties between the two countries and, even more, for an improvement in the treatment of Cubans residing in the United States. Whenever Barack Obama, as a presidential candidate and later as the president, visited South Florida, Joe García was usually his host. One day it occurred to him to take him to eat Cuban fritters. Later, he organized a lunch for...

Marco Rubio claimed on Saturday, November 7, that an elected president cannot be proclaimed without finishing the counting of all the votes. | CNN

Political action committee created to remove Marco Rubio from the Senate in 2022

Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio is the next high-value target for Democrats now that Joe Biden is president-elect. Two Democratic strategists have launched a super PAC (Political Action Committee) to raise funds to remove Rubio from the Senate in the next legislatures in two years, when he runs for re-election. The super PAC is accompanied by a website called “Retire Rubio” and an account on the social network Twitter created a few years ago and which was reactivated. The idea launched by Democratic strategist Ben Pollara has more than 13,000 followers on Twitter and was presented as an effort “to singularly focus on defeating this weak, sad, disappointing and absent senator in 2022.” The group’s first ad, titled “Little Marco,” shows Trump himself questioning Rubio’s eligibility and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also a former presidential contender, criticizing Rubio’s absences from the Senate. “Little Marco” is an old nickname coined four years ago by Donald Trump when he confronted Rubio in a crowded Republican primary for the 2016 presidential election. After being defeated by Trump in the primaries, Rubio ran for re-election at the last minute, which he won for a second period. Since then, the 49-year-old Cuban-American has been a...

Cuban-Americans celebrate the Democratic defeat in Florida in front of the Versailles restaurant in Miami. Photo: Cristobal Herrera / EFE

Biden lost in Florida due to lack of commitment from the Democratic machine, analysts estimate

He came, he saw, he spoke, but he couldn't make it. Although it was known that President Donald Trump had his traction in Florida, among the opposition hosts there was hope that former Vice President Joe Biden could regain the state. This did not happen, the president obtained 51.24% at the state level and Biden 47.85%. This places the victory protected by the rural vote, its traditional breeding ground. But in an urban area like Miami-Dade County, it was the other way around. Trump lost by 45.98% and Biden won with 53.31%. No Republican has won the presidency in Miami-Dade since 1988. Photo: Marita Pérez Díaz But the most important thing, in Cuban-American terms, is that Trump's victory dragged down the defeat of the Democratic vote at the local level. Democrats lost almost every vote for councilors, state representatives and senators, judges, chiefs of police. The only truly significant local victory was that of Daniella Levine-Cava, who as a rookie Miami-Dade County Commissioner defeated the veteran Republican operative, an old local political fox, Esteban Bovo, who also as a county commissioner tried to get to Mayor. It was a historic moment. For the former mayor of Hialeah and now...

A line at a voting center in Miami Beach | Lynne Sladky / AP

Miami: regular election day, but with some tension

This election day, by dawn in Miami, almost all the voters had already voted. About 2-thirds exactly, 1.1 out of just over 1.5 million registered voters. That had never been seen. It is true that since the 2000 presidential elections, the number of voters in South Florida has grown gradually, accompanying the country's political polarization that began with the controversial duel between the then-Republican Governor of Texas, George W. Bush, and the former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, which ended up being decided by the Supreme Court. It continued with the election of Democrat Barack Obama, in 2008, when the Republican party suffered a process of dismemberment that woke up the far-right forces and the radicalization of the party, and with the election of Trump in 2016. “This avalanche still amazes me. We expect some 200,000 to 300,000 voters to come to the polls today, ”explains the spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Elections Board to a group of journalists. There were no incidents by closing time, and no problems with the voting machines. "I don't think there are reasons for concern," he adds. Miami-Dade tends to count votes fairly quickly, with fewer than a third of voters remaining at the...

A line of voters waits to vote at the John F. Kennedy Library in Hialeah, Florida. Photo: Rui Ferreira.

The emotive Cuban American vote for Donald Trump in Miami

In the parking lot of the John F. Kennedy Library, where a voting center has been installed for the 2020 elections, all existing rules are violated in an electoral process. Electoral propaganda is biased, only in favor of President Donald Trump. It is located less than half the authorized distance, which is 150 feet. Political sergeants proselytize close to the voting line. Voters appear with caps, t-shirts or masks in favor of the president. Anyone who favors Democratic candidate Joe Biden is rejected immediately and with disdain. “The Democrats are traitors,” explains Héctor, a Nicaraguan evangelical who proudly displays a Trump propaganda mask and begins a short conversation with reporters trying to explain his reasoning. When asked why they are traitors, he answers: “They are traitors to God.” How? “I don’t know,” interrupts a lady who stands next to him carrying a “Trump 2000” banner. Hector, the Trump supporter who accuses Democrats of being traitors to God. Photo: Alfredo Prieto Héctor tries to resolve the matter with a long paragraph. “The president is the one who is going to liberate us Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans. He is our president.” And the matter goes no further. When the conversation returns to the...

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, speaks in Miami on Monday, October 5, 2020. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP.

Joe Biden campaigns in Miami

Less than a month from a controversial and difficult presidential election, marked by practically unprecedented problems such as a coronavirus pandemic, this Monday Democratic candidate Joe Biden went down to South Florida for the second time to tell Cubans and Venezuelans certain things. For example, if he is elected, he intends to allow Cubans stranded on the other side of the border to enter the United States. And that he will grant Venezuelans the temporary residence status to which they aspire so much, and protect them from Nicolás Maduro’s abuses. “We need to rebuild our ability to work with our partners throughout the Western hemisphere to confront those who continue to oppress the rights of their people. Maduro is a dictator, plain and simple,” stressed Biden. If he reaches the White House, he assured, “I would immediately grant temporary protective status to Venezuelans” and will bet on sanctions against Venezuela as a “comprehensive strategy.” About Cuba, Biden said at a rally in José Martí Park, in the center of the city and on the edge of Miami River: “We also need a new Cuba policy” since “Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy than it was four years ago,”...

Two clients have coffee at the Versailles window in Little Havana. Photo: Rui Ferreira.

Cuban coffee windows in Miami

Although there are those who call them windows, the windows are perhaps the Cuban invention that has had the most social impact in Miami. And also in the community life of cities with a large Hispanic population. These are small or medium-sized windows, transformed into counters that usually face directly onto the street. All kinds of sweets, croquettes, small sandwiches and, above all, coffee are served in them. Many liters of coffee throughout the entire day. Some take the opportunity to smoke a little cigar while savoring the “aromatic drink,” as it is customary to say in Cuban journalism on the island, because inside you can’t smoke. But the window is also a place for socialization, meetings where friendships are consolidated and new ones are forged. I met my best friend in Miami at the window of the Versailles Restaurant, on the famous Calle Ocho in Little Havana. This is a place also frequented (or did so before the pandemic) by people who coming out of the movies or the theater, sporting events or family parties. “The Versailles window has an interesting feature in these turbulent times in politics. People disagree as only Cubans know how to do it, but...

Photo: Cuban Research Institute (CRI).

Cuban Americans: more conservative in their views on Cuba, poll concludes

In two years, Cubans living in Miami-Dade County have taken a turn to the right, especially the young. Despite demanding the preservation of basic ties with the island, especially family members, they have adhered to many Republican postulates. In general, the latest poll by Florida International University (FIU) indicates that Republican support has increased and that in these elections Cuban-Americans are going to vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. Donald Trump According to the poll, 68% of Cuban Americans approve of Donald Trump’s Cuba policy, something that spans the entire spectrum of the community―ages and arrival date―but not with bipartisan unanimity, since it is opposed by those who define themselves as Democrats. “Cubans are not very different from people in Ohio, these Cubans are part of the narrative of the country. Republicans have gained strength again because what Trump has done gave them new airs. Now, the big surprise is that Republicans have increased, but it is not surprising that Cubans continue to vote for Republicans,” explained Professor Guillermo Grenier, one of the authors of the poll that has been running for almost twenty years. This is the second FIU poll since Trump arrived in the White House. The first,...

Fox News moderator Chris Wallace, center, gestures during the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP.

Landscape after the battle: the first presidential debate

The first presidential debate began with a soft tone. From a distance, President Donald Trump greeted his rival, Joe Biden, with a wave, and the Democrat replied amiably, “How you doing, man?” From there, the dialogue, if you can call it that, went downhill. It often became a veritable exchange of insults, shouting that eventually made it impossible to hear what was being said. Perhaps the most red-hot issue was that of violence in the streets. Trump refused to condemn white supremacists. “This is not a right wing problem this is a left wing,” he said. Contrary to Trump’s narrative, experts on domestic terrorism, including FBI Director Christopher Wray and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, have testified before Congress that white supremacist violence constitutes the most persistent and dangerous domestic terrorist threat facing the country. But the racial issue also came up, in which Trump was hyperbolic, as usual. “No one has done more than I have for the black community. I’m releasing people that you put in jail and treated badly.” The president was referring to a legal reform that Biden promoted in 1993 in the Senate Judiciary Committee and that the African-American community received very badly....

Card for operations in the country’s commercial network. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

The United States adds Cuban remittance company AIS to its “black list”

The United States Department of State has added the Cuban remittance company American International Service (AIS) to its “black list,” considering that it is an institution controlled by the Cuban Armed Forces and, as such, is at the service of the island’s “repressive apparatus.”  The news was released in a press release issued today, in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, ratifies that “The Cuban military also uses AIS, its parent company FINCIMEX, and other entities to charge fees and manipulate the remittance and foreign currency market as part of the regime’s schemes to make money and support its repressive apparatus.” “The profits earned from these operations disproportionately benefit the Cuban military, furthering repression of the Cuban people and funding Cuba’s meddling in Venezuela,” the text explains. Pompeo said on Twitter, from Greece where he is visiting, that AIS steals money from remittances sent to the Cuban people. The U.S. secretary of state recalled that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has already made it “clear” that he is on the side of the Cuban people “in their longstanding struggle for freedom and against the communist regime in Havana.” “The Cuban people deserve to live in freedom...

President Trump returns to Washington DC on Friday night after a visit to Miami. Photo: EFE.

Trump and anti-Castro catharsis

Last Saturday two Cubans were arguing heatedly at a Hialeah window over two cups of coffee. The setting may seem childish, ordinary, and picturesque. Even cinematographic, if it’s about common places in the Cuban neighborhoods of Miami. But no. At a nearby table, I closely followed the details of the conversation between two old friends who met in Havana and met again in Hialeah. What immediately caught my attention were two things: they were talking about politics and they had opposite positions about the man who came to Miami this Friday to say that he loves a Free Cuba and that “Cubans owe it to him.” I mean Donald Trump. Of course, last week we still didn’t know what that president that some exiled Cubans love so much was going to say. Perhaps if they had a crystal ball they could make an effort, but they would also discover that what they consider a “free country” in Cuba is going to be delayed. It will take some time longer. Maybe because of their age they can’t see anything. They can be content to travel to the grave and that life remains the same. They were arguing heatedly, as only Cubans...

President Donald Trump speaks during an event honoring Bay of Pigs veterans in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. Americans traveling to Cuba will not be able to stay in hotels or return home with cigars or rum, according to a series of new sanctions announced by Trump that seek to economically suffocate the island’s government. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

U.S. prohibits Americans from using tourist facilities owned by Cuban government

Forty days before the presidential elections, the Donald Trump administration has just closed the circle of restrictions on Cuba by prohibiting Americans who travel to the island from staying in hotels owned by the government and from bringing bottles of rum and boxes of cigars upon their return home. Until now, the only accommodation restrictions covered facilities under military administration that came into effect last November with the creation of a “black list.” This new list will encompass what was left out of the previous one, government-owned hotels and restaurants, and includes establishments run by government officials, members of the Communist Party, their family members and other relatives. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced in a new resolution that it has just created another “black list,” the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations (CPA) List to register the names and addresses of government properties. Both lists are the responsibility of the State Department. This new package of measures was designed to prevent Americans and residents who travel to the island from frequenting facilities owned by the Cuban government and also make changes to some details of the travel to Cuba categories. For example, the general license for participation in academic conventions,...

Businessman Máximo Álvarez at the Republican Convention. Photo: EFE.

Cuban-Americans’ honeymoon with Republicans is not what it used to be

Two decades ago, when the price of gasoline in the United States soared and surpassed the barrier of two dollars a gallon, there was speculation on how much more it would increase. The media was filled with specialists with all kinds of ideas. Some were right, as it would be seen later; others, absolute nonsense. One of the faces that became popular in those days on the small screen was that of Máximo Álvarez, owner of a fuel distribution company, a respected businessman of Cuban origin and with a fortune estimated at 80 million dollars. His explanations stood out for being accurate and professional, and for demonstrating that he had complete knowledge of the problem. But he never stood out publicly as a political figure. However, this week it came as a surprise when he was one of the speakers at the Republican Convention, fighting tooth and nail for President Donald Trump’s re-election. One of his most prominent phrases was: “Beyond defining ourselves by a political party, we must think that we are Americans and choose to defend the country.” Although it may seem like a call for unity―which the president never did―Álvarez finished off his thought by accusing the...

Daniella Levine Cava, a rookie in Miami politics, has a chance to be the first mayor of Miami-Dade County. It would be the return of the Anglos to that position. Photo: CBS.

In Miami, Cubans are beginning to stop voting for Cubans

Help us keep OnCuba alive The last local elections of the second decade of the 21st century in South Florida were expected to be the least attended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Big mistake, but not for the anticipated reason: that people would not go to the polling stations. The voters answered the call, but by mail. For the first time in the records, attendance was 28.23%. More than half exercised their right to vote by mail. The above showed an unprecedented participation. According to county data, published the day before the elections, 72,797 Republicans would have exercised their right in this way, 121,414 Democrats, 1,631 undecideds and 50,305 without political affiliation. Many other residents preferred to attend the precincts in advance. This is how 29,184 Republicans, 30,317 Democrats, 316 undecideds and 8,253 voters without political affiliation voted. “This makes for a very interesting reading. In the November elections, if we continue with the pandemic, voting by mail will have its importance. It is going to be a massive method of voting and it is going to become popular,” analyst Herminio Ramos explained to OnCuba. In their opinion, this reality tends to be reinforced in a state like Florida, where...

The respite from the decline in deaths in Florida didn’t last long. Hospitals are once again full because of a new surge of COVID-19 patients discovered thanks to increased testing. Photo: Cristobal Herrera / EFE.

Deaths from COVID-19 on the rise again in Florida

Help us keep OnCuba alive Florida's death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has risen again after a three-day setback, the state Health Department confirmed Tuesday. The deaths have always been on the rise during the last seven weeks until the authorities interrupted the tests due to the near presence of Hurricane Isaías. As expected, the number of new cases dropped then. Resuming testing on Monday, the situation returned to normal and the statistics rose again. And with greater intensity in the Miami metropolitan area, where 1,507 new cases and 35 deaths were reported. In the rest of the state, on Tuesday the authorities revealed that during the last 24 hours there were 276 deaths, 185 more than on Monday, which points to a new record, reaching 8,553 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of new positive cases of coronavirus disease, Florida reports 5,831, which means 1,676 more than on Monday, for a global total of 542,792, the second-highest number of cases in the country, following California, which registered almost 575,000.

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