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.

Miami authorities want to open South Florida despite continued spread of COVID-19

Miami authorities want to open South Florida despite continued spread of COVID-19

The state of Florida woke up this Tuesday with 52,255 cases of COVID-19 and 2,259 deaths. In Miami-Dade, the sick total 17,986 and the deaths, 633. This indicates that during the weekend the figures rose at least 20%, the highest in the state, in the most important metropolitan area of ​​South Florida. Even so, the mayor of the county, Carlos Giménez, wants to open next Monday all the closed establishments such as shopping centers, restaurants and bars, beaches, public and collective swimming pools and, perhaps, cinemas and theaters. All others deemed “nonessential” are already open, but with restrictions, such as barbershops, hair salons, cafes, and pizzerias. According to the mayor, the reopening will allow citizens to relax, very tense due to the more than two-month closure. “We want a very careful incorporation, the economy can no longer be paralyzed. But the police are going to be attentive to crowds and compliance with security measures such as the full use of masks and gloves,” he explained. People can only do without them on beaches when they are in the water and must keep the average distancing of a meter and groups of no more than ten people. However, the decision is...

Two Miami-Havana flights of repatriation of Cubans on Friday 22

Two Miami-Havana flights of repatriation of Cubans on Friday 22

Next Friday, May 22, two repatriation flights will be made for Cuban citizens stranded in the United States as a result of the closure of air traffic between the two countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement issued Wednesday, the Cuban embassy reported that the flights will leave from Miami, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, chartered in coordination with the Xael Charters and the World Atlantic airline. The first flight, number WAL624, will leave Miami International Airport at 10 a.m. and arrive in Havana an hour later; the second, number WAL626, will take off at 2:30 in the afternoon arriving at 3:30. “This will make the return to Cuba possible of hundreds of our compatriots with the condition of regular residents in the national territory, who have been requesting help and were registered by our Consulate,” said the statement from the Cuban embassy in Washington. The note does not indicate how many passengers will be returned to the island. But industry sources told OnCuba that they don’t exceed 230. The number could increase in the coming weeks. The statement indicates there could be other flights. This repatriation has been possible with the...

Coming out of confinement due to COVID-19 is cautiously received in Miami

Coming out of confinement due to COVID-19 is cautiously received in Miami

Nicolás Castañeda is a Bolivian engineer who has lived in Miami for 22 years and has two obsessions: eating well―as he says, “a la haute cuisine”―and going to the barbershop every two weeks, that is, every fourteen days. For the past sixty days he suffered somewhat with restaurants and barber shops closed due to COVID-19. This Monday he was a happy man. “I can finally get out of the house. I have gone to cut my hair and have lunch as God intended,” he says as he gets ready to order what he is going to eat at a Peruvian restaurant in Kendall, south of Miami. The restaurant usually seats about 100 diners, but Miami-Dade County orders limit the space to just fifty people in order to maintain a safe distance between customers. However, Castañeda’s case is still not very common. Between Monday and Tuesday people have not come en masse, they seem to display caution in anticipation of what will happen in the coming days and weeks. “Today we haven’t had any regular customers. A few who have come, more out of curiosity than habit. I think people are going to wait a few days to see how the...

What is OFAC and what does OFAC do?

What is OFAC and what does OFAC do?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is the U.S. government agency charged with overseeing relations between the United States and other countries, in terms of trade sanctions and compliance with legislation for making exports to countries authorized by the government. As John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, explains to OnCuba, “it is a kind of police, a kind of FBI, of the departments of the Treasury and Commerce, which are the ones who regulate the conditions of commercial transactions and enforcement of its regulations.” The federal agency has its roots in a 1917 law called the Trading with the Enemy Act, which basically opened the doors to the control of trade with countries that were adversaries of the United States, their properties and assets in U.S. territory. OFAC enforces all financial penalties and avoids prohibited operations that it describes as “financial or commercial transactions, or agreements beyond the reach of Americans, unless they are authorized or licensed to do so. License that can be general or specific, granted on a case-by-case basis. The sanctions, outlined by the departments of the Treasury or Commerce, are applied to other countries, companies or groups of people through the...

Washington fines agricultural company for selling food to Cuba without informing the government

Washington fines agricultural company for selling food to Cuba without informing the government

Although the sale of food to Cuba by the United States is permitted, the American exporter needs to inform the Treasury Department, which then issues a permit through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Failure to do so, exposes them to a hefty fine. That was what happened with Biomin America, a company specialized in animal nutrition based in Kansas, which between July 2012 and September 2017 carried out 30 transactions of agricultural products to Cuba through its subsidiaries abroad, for a total of 44 violations of OFAC regulations. Biomin America is what is called a joint venture. Several foreign, non-subsidiary companies control part of its capital, even if they operate outside the United States. These types of companies are also included in OFAC regulations and must request permission to establish a business relationship with Cuba, as established in article 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), although in this case the agricultural products were not produced in the United States. After being warned by the Treasury Department, Biomin America entered into a series of negotiations that ended in a settlement agreement: the government will not go to court. The company agreed to pay a penalty of 257,862 dollars. In a...

Miami-Beach again closes important public park due to strollers’ lack of discipline

Miami-Beach again closes important public park due to strollers’ lack of discipline

Five days after reopening a beach park in South Miami Beach, the city hall closed it again to the public because thousands of people did not use facemasks or refused to comply with the compulsory social distance of 6 feet to avoid contracting the COVID-19, known as coronavirus. The public park is called South Pointe Park and is located at the westernmost point of the city, just at the entrance to the port of Miami. The mayor’s office determined its closure at the beginning of the afternoon of this Monday until further notice. The beach is still closed, even though Miami Dade County authorized the opening of some beaches. People can circulate keeping the prudential distance through the small walks that separate the streets from the sand. During the five days it was open, park rangers issued 8,880 warnings for not using facemasks, compared to the 1,551 in the rest of the city. They also issued 511 warnings for not maintaining social distance and had to force 1,556 people to leave South Pointe because they stayed after the closing time (7 pm). The day before, anticipating indiscipline, the city ordered the closure of the parking lot to somehow limit the...

Carlos Lazo: “Love can work wonders”

Carlos Lazo: “Love can work wonders”

Once upon a time there was a Cuban who went to war and when he returned decided to teach and spread peace. However, his message has hit a wall of intolerance. He wanted to work as a teacher and, in addition to teaching Spanish, he decided to try to make his students understand the world through diversity and understanding among people of goodwill. He began with its own country of origin, Cuba, the Caribbean island that has maintained a rivalry of biblical proportions with the country where he lives and which he assumes as a second homeland. Carlos Lazo, 55, was born in Jaimanitas and now lives on the west coast of the United States, where he teaches his students what Cuba is like, beyond any caricature. What he does, he explains to OnCuba, is “a work of love.” “I believe that love can cure everything and that is why I am in this work of love. Hate doesn’t solve anything. Love does resolve, it does not aggravate the situation. I don’t want to be a leader, I’m just a teacher,” he says. A group of students at the beginning of one of the trips, with...

Four shipping companies sued for sailing to Cuba appeal decision of Miami judge to stop the case

Four shipping companies sued for sailing to Cuba appeal decision of Miami judge to stop the case

The shipping companies that have been sued in Miami for using Cuban port facilities nationalized after 1959 have transferred a petition to the 11th appeals circuit in Atlanta, Georgia, in the sense that it be considered an argument against the decision of a Miami judge. The appeal is related to the fact that Judge Beth Bloom decided to reverse a ruling she made earlier, according to which the case should not prosper because the claimants―the Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises shipping companies, sued by Havana Docks Corporation―argued that the Havana port facilities, the pier today known as Sierra Maestra, were nationalized before it was called Cruise Port. The shipping companies’ argument argued that when they started using it in 2016, the concession―which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century―had expired in 2004. The criterion was initially accepted by the first judge in charge of the matter, James Lawrence King. But later, when the case passed to Judge Bloom, she changed her mind and agreed with her predecessor. Now the four shipping companies have appealed to the 11th appeals circuit to establish that the decision is not right because, in reality, the expiration of the concession to...

Miami Beach extends closure of its beaches until June to maintain social distance

Miami Beach extends closure of its beaches until June to maintain social distance

The city of Miami Beach decided to extend the closure of the most used beaches in Florida at this time of year. Mayor Dan Gelber confirmed this Sunday in an interview with the MSNBC network that the Beach, as it is popularly known in the city, is not built to maintain social distance, therefore they have to be extremely careful given the millions of people who would fill the beaches. This decision is not strictly new, since last Monday the mayor sent a video by email to warn that the closure of the beaches was going to be prolonged, because there are no signs that the COVID-19 crisis is getting to the end of the tunnel. “We are not Jacksonville. If we open, there is no doubt thousands of people will flood miles and miles of open beaches, both in the south and the north and everything between those two points. Young people who are on a permanent spring break, and people who are just taking a breather outside and force limitations on the use (of the beaches), would be a nightmare. Therefore, I am very sorry, but we simply have to go without beaches in the near future,” said...

United States offers to allow sending of humanitarian assistance to Cuba due to the coronavirus

United States offers to allow sending of humanitarian assistance to Cuba due to the coronavirus

Based on the emergency situation caused by COVID-19, the well-known coronavirus pandemic, the United States government has confirmed the validity of the exceptions to the economic embargo on Cuba already provided by law to be applied to the purchase or donation of medical devices, in addition to the sending of remittances and health infrastructure to five countries under its sanctions. “The United States is committed to ensuring that humanitarian assistance continues to reach at-risk populations through legitimate and transparent channels as countries across the globe fight the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The sanctions programs administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) generally allow for legitimate humanitarian-related trade, assistance, or activity under existing laws and regulations,” affirmed a Treasury Department statement published this Thursday. According to the note, OFAC encourages those interested in providing such assistance during the pandemic to avail themselves of exemptions, exceptions, and authorizations pertaining to humanitarian assistance and trade available in many sanctions programs. “In the event that individuals, governments, or entities face sanctions-related challenges, have questions related to the provision of humanitarian assistance to sanctioned countries, or believe additional authorizations are needed, OFAC stands ready to provide guidance and...

Miami judge temporarily suspends lawsuit over nationalization of Havana airport

Miami judge temporarily suspends lawsuit over nationalization of Havana airport

A federal judge in Miami granted American Airlines and Latam Airways a request for suspension at hearings over a lawsuit against the company for the use of the Havana airport. The decision is due to the current sanitary crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit has been filed by José López Regueiro, heir to José López Villaboy, a former Cuban businessman, a representative of the Fulgencio Batista regime, who owned the airport and its land, and also includes the Chilean airline Latam Airways. The latter suspended flights to Havana when the lawsuit was filed, while American Airlines is not flying due to restrictions because of the coronavirus. But before that, flights to the entire country were reduced by order of the Trump administration. Judge José E. Martínez justified his decision by saying that the uncertain times of the pandemic constitute sufficient reason to suspend the discussion based on the “impossibility of proceeding orderly with the case, and given the uncertainty of of the duration of the restrictions and the global pandemic, and to protect parties and judicial resources.” In any event, the judge emphasized in a two-page decision, “I have decided that both parties will not be...

Coronavirus: large crowds in Hialeah for unemployment compensation

Coronavirus: large crowds in Hialeah for unemployment compensation

With the computer system to apply for unemployment compensation collapsed in the face of the advance  of the COVID-19 pandemic, better known as coronavirus, the Florida state government has created a form  for applicants to apply by post, which had initially started being distributed in post offices and government buildings. But with a credible figure of 400,000 unemployed in sight, huge lines have started being seen to get them. It is estimated that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 unemployed in South Florida, a number that will undoubtedly increase as the pandemic spreads. This Wednesday in Miami-Dade County there were 5,354 coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. Unemployment figures are not exact and circulate through informal channels. The city hall of Hialeah, a city with a strong concentration of Cubans in the Miami metropolitan area, has set up three locations to serve the public. But the reception has been so large that endless lines were formed that the police had difficulty controlling. “It is very difficult to determine how many have passed through here,” explains the city’s police spokesman, Ibel Pérez. “They have seen that the lines are huge, never seen before except in artistic or sporting events. It is difficult...

Almost 400,000 people have applied for unemployment compensation in Florida due to COVID-19

Almost 400,000 people have applied for unemployment compensation in Florida due to COVID-19

COVID-19, the scientific name for the fearsome coronavirus, has left a trail of nearly 400,000 unemployed in Florida. But there are many more. In fact, nobody knows how many because there is no way to count them. All this because the computer system that processes the applications for unemployment benefits, whose installation cost 77.9 million dollars, simply doesn’t work. The program was created during the past administration of the former governor and now Republican Federal Congressman Rick Scott (2011-2019). Over the past three years, Florida auditors have repeatedly told Scott and current Governor Ron De Santis that the system has to be fixed. But they have not listened to them. In addition to the fact that the situation might not be a problem in normal times because Florida used to receive a monthly average of 30,000 requests for compensation. During the past two weeks the figure has shot up to just under 400,000 requests and the system has crashed. The crisis is so big that, at least in this, Republicans and Democrats agree. “It’s a disaster,” an unidentified adviser to Governor De Santis commented to the Politico site. The fiercest criticism comes from the Republicans. This being a presidential election...

National Guard controls entrances to Florida and prevents tourists from entering Key West

National Guard controls entrances to Florida and prevents tourists from entering Key West

The advance to the southern United States of COVID-19, the fearsome coronavirus, has led authorities to control entering the state. First of travelers from Louisiana and now from New York, where the virus has attacked with more force and caused 1,550 deaths only this Tuesday, 300 new cases more than the previous day, for a total to date of more than 76,000 patients reported. This alarm has caused thousands of New Yorkers to want to move to Florida, which has led Governor Ron DeSantis to sign an executive order to prevent their entry. Likewise, from other states that, although they don’t register such high figures, are cause of public concern. The order also requires anyone who wants to enter and has visible signs of carrying the virus to be quarantined. To do this, it has mobilized the National Guard and local police. But it is not an easy task, among other reasons because the terms of the proclamation of the state of emergency promulgated by DeSantis are not emphatic in this regard, and the subsequent orders hardly allow the authorities to encourage the return home of those who want to enter Florida. For example, if a New Yorker has a...

Miami-Dade closes all hotels and Miami Beach decrees curfew

Miami-Dade closes all hotels and Miami Beach decrees curfew

Miami-Dade County ordered the closure of all hotels and Miami Beach decreed curfew and also the closure of its hotels, all as of next Monday. This represents an unprecedented impact on the South Florida economy, because in addition to the loss of large incomes, it involves laying off thousands of workers. Mayor Carlos Giménez’s emergency decree makes just one exception in the accommodation of airline personnel, since the airport is still open, medical care, firefighters, victims of domestic violence, journalists from out of town and individuals who do not have a way to depart from South Florida. In turn, after the beaches were closed, in Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber decided to close the nearly 250 hotels in the city and enact the curfew from twelve at night until five in the morning starting Monday, which will transform the famous South Florida beach resort into a ghost town. According to Gelber, violators of the ordinance will be harshly prosecuted. “Any person who fails to comply with the measure will be subject to arrest, fine and/or imprisonment,” according to the aggravating circumstances. In a statement, the mayor regretted having made that decision, since “hotels are the soul of the economy on...

Canceling all flights to Cuba due to coronavirus proposed in Miami

Canceling all flights to Cuba due to coronavirus proposed in Miami

While President Donald Trump banned flights between the United States and European countries in the Schengen area, a Miami-Dade County commissioner has scheduled a meeting for next week to discuss the total cancelation of flights between southern Florida and Havana. Republican and Cuban-American Commissioner Esteban Bovo’s reasons for canceling the flights are the existing rumors about possible cases, the increase in bilateral trade between China and Cuba, the absence of information by the Cuban government about the extent of the pandemic in the country as well as Cuban medicine’s alleged lack of preparation and equipment to face the threat. The proposal will be discussed next Tuesday, March 17. Such a measure would radically affect the largest Cuban community in the diaspora. Last Thursday, in a press conference at the Jackson Memorial public hospital, the mayor of the county, Carlos Gimenez, said that he agrees with the suspension of flights to Cuba and that he has the support of Governor Ron DeSantis. “I have spoken to the governor, I know that the president yesterday suspended all flights from Europe, and I am asking him (the governor) for help if he can assist us in this. I know that the coronavirus has...

Western Union suspends sending of remittances to Cuba from all over the world except the United States

Western Union suspends sending of remittances to Cuba from all over the world except the United States

The U.S. financial services and communications company Western Union confirmed this Thursday that it has canceled money transfers to Cuba from all countries except the United States. “Given the unique challenges of operating remittance services to Cuba from countries outside the United States, Western Union is unable to operate money transfers to Cuba from countries other than the United States as of February 26, 2020. We understand the impact this will have on our clients and we will continue to contact them if we are presented with the possibility of reactivating transactions to Cuba outside the United States in the future,” said a company spokeswoman in a brief statement sent to OnCuba, confirming something that had been advanced several days ago. The note does not specify the circumstances or the reasons that led Western Union to take this measure. These transactions represent an important support that Cubans living abroad provide to their families on the island. This is a flow of funds that in 2018 reached 6.6 billion dollars, 90% from the United States. Although the restriction will not substantially affect the amount of remittances, it also does not represent the end of their sending from other countries, where other...

Cuba faces crucial payments of its external debt

Cuba faces crucial payments of its external debt

2020 hasn’t started well for Cuba in terms of paying its foreign debt. After a delay in the 2019 payment to the Paris Club, it is now at the door of a lawsuit in a London court after the Cayman Isles investement fund CRF I Ltd. filed the case for the default of a debt of 1.4 billion of dollars, contracted since 2009. In 2018, this company and other creditors submitted a debt renegotiation proposal, but it was not answered by Havana, so the matter now went to court. CRF I Ltd. is a conglomerate of several companies that sells material related to the nuclear world, military, radiological supplies, detection of explosives and analysis of needs in this field, including the medical field. In the case of Havana, the debt is due to the acquisition of airport and clinical security material. The company and its associates tried to contact the Cuban authorities last year, but did not get an answer, one of its executives said to the British press. “CRF is an important holder of Cuban commercial debt and seeks a fair and equitable outcome for both Cuba and its commercial creditors and will endeavor to work constructively with Cuba towards...

Claver-Carone, architect of the counter-thaw with Cuba, leaving the White House

Claver-Carone, architect of the counter-thaw with Cuba, leaving the White House

President Trump would be unhappy with the slowness in a solution to the “Venezuelan situation.” One of the main architects of the dismantling of the thaw between the United States and Cuba is probably in the final stretch of his days at the White House. Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, director for Latin America of the National Security Council, is being considered for the position of vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, based in Washington, as confirmed by two sources close to the Donald Trump administration. The position at the Bank is currently held by an old employee of the institution after his predecessor, Brian O’Neill, passed away last year in January. Although the United States is the main contributor of the funds to the Bank, it does not appoint its president but the second in command. Claver-Carone has experience in banking. Before being appointed to the National Security Council, he served as executive director of the International Monetary Fund for some years and was an advisor to the Treasury Department. Since arriving at the National Security Council, he was characterized by great hostility towards Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and, along with the also Cuban-American senator, Republican Marco Rubio, was characterized...

Pope Francis appoints first U.S. archbishop of Cuban origin

Pope Francis appoints first U.S. archbishop of Cuban origin

This Thursday, Pope Francis named Cuban-American Nelson Pérez, 58, as archbishop of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, the first of Cuban origin in the United States. The priest was elevated to that responsibility after serving as bishop in the city of Cleveland since 2017 and after an ecclesiastical career that began 25 years ago with his ordination precisely in Philadelphia in 1989. In 1998, Pope John Paul II had appointed him his personal chaplain, and eleven years later his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, made him “honorary prelate.” According to Catholic sources, his elevation to archbishop is seen as a commitment of the Catholic Church to revitalize the Christian faith in Philadelphia, a city affected by a galloping desertion of the faithful from the temples because of the allegations of pedophilia in the archdiocese and financial shortfalls. His election also seeks to boost the work of the 215 parishes, their 460 priests and a network of Catholic universities and schools serving more than 141,000 students, according to the Inquirer. Monsignor Pérez was born in Miami in 1961, a few months after his Cuban parents left Cuba. With this appointment he becomes the United States’ first Hispanic and Cuban-American archbishop. The closest ones...

Cubans in Miami don’t protest, but tickets are sold out

Cubans in Miami don’t protest, but tickets are sold out

When on January 10 the Trump administration decided to reduce direct charter flights from the United States to nine Cuban airports, leaving just Havana as a gateway, thousands of Cubans protested throughout the United States. But in silence. Not raising a ruckus. The protests were not like at other times when the community has been affected by something that deeply concerns them. In Miami, nobody took to the streets to protest this enormous harm to family communication; the media also did not echo the dissatisfaction. The same happened in October when the administration imposed the same measure for U.S. airlines’ commercial flights. The Cubans protested, essentially, in the offices of the companies that rent the airplanes, which, of course, can do nothing. “People have come to protest here and are anxious about what will happen. They are booking in bulk for flights before March 10 (when the closure begins) because no one knows what the future holds in store,” explains Marisol Rodríguez, director of the Marazul company, which flies about 18 times a day to the island. But no one has taken to the streets or concentrated in front of the offices of Cuban-American politicians who support this type of...

U.S. suspends charter flights to Cuba, except to Havana

U.S. suspends charter flights to Cuba, except to Havana

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that all charter flights from the United States to the interior of Cuba will be suspended “until further notice.” The Havana route is barely covered, as happened last year with commercial flights by U.S. airlines. The new measure affects nine airports on the island. It is not clear whether the bilateral civil aviation agreement, signed in 2016, will remain in force or will be canceled. The new restriction will begin on March 10. A cap on charter flights will also be established, to be defined in the coming weeks. As indicated in a press release by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo citing the existence of a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, the objective is to “strengthen the impact of the administration's policy of economically pressuring the Cuban regime” in areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms due to Cuban support to the Venezuelan government. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba-usa/u-s-to-suspend-flights-to-cuba-except-havana/ Cuba’s reaction was almost immediate. “I strongly reject new ban by #US government on charter flights to #Cuba except# Havana and restriction on their number. It is a serious violation of human rights, Americans’ freedom to travel and hinders family reunification. #CubaVSBloqueo,” Cuban Foreign Minister...

2019, the “annus horribilis” for Cuba-U.S. relations

2019, the “annus horribilis” for Cuba-U.S. relations

The year 2019 is considered by many analysts as the worst between Cuba and the United States in the last three years. The State Department has even admitted that it has no great interest in improving relations as long as the island does not introduce reforms and puts a stop to its alliance with the Caracas government. When relations between the two countries were reestablished on December 17, 2014, and on March 20, 2016, President Barack Obama landed at Havana’s airport, many supporters of bilateral relations felt that there was no rolling back that thaw, which was a fait accompli. What nobody anticipated was that a New York real estate entrepreneur named Donald John Trump was going to get in the way of the fate of the two countries. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s statements about Cuba were conflicting. He swayed a great deal, like a pendulum. He started by saying that he wanted a better deal with Cuba than the one negotiated by Obama. Then he said he didn't want any deal, he flirted with the total diplomatic cut and ended up saying that maybe “we can talk with the Cubans because I’m the best negotiator in the...

Eusebio, how did you do it?

Eusebio, how did you do it?

It was 1979. Eusebio Leal was leaning on the southeast wall of the Palace of the Captains General in Old Havana, looking up at the sky. It was a sunny day, there were no signs of rain but Eusebio always looks up as if looking for some kind of inspiration. Never, in all these years, have I spoken to him about this curious detail. Norma and I were walking through the square when we spotted him. Eusebio was, as his friend García Márquez said, a being who levitated without realizing it because he was not interested. At that time, he was interested in two things: teaching and recovering. And when we met him that’s what we got, a lesson. “Are you students?” Of course. “That’s great….” The phrase stayed in the air and as I was a fan of the “Andar La Habana” (A Walk through Havana) program, I couldn't think of anything other than asking where those stones he was leaning on came from. We had to ask him something, didn’t we? What followed was a university lecture. He explained that many came from quarries on the island, others from Spain, some marbles from Europe but, most importantly, that...

Two Cubans who swindled public health system condemned in Miami

Two Cubans who swindled public health system condemned in Miami

The Pichardos are daring people. Two decades ago they crossed the Straits of Florida on a raft. And in Miami they swindled 38 million dollars from Medicare for six years. But they were caught. This Monday it was reported that a federal judge in Miami sentenced Rodolfo Pichardo, 71, to a 15-year prison sentence, and his wife, Marta Pichardo, 66, to 8 years in prison. Between 2010 and 2016 both created six home healthcare agencies, three health personnel firms and two pharmacies, with which they devised a scheme to charge the federal government for subsidized medical services that were never provided. Although the couple pleaded guilty, the judge had no mercy and the man received the maximum possible penalty for his crime. The scheme is simple. They recruit people who receive subsidized medical services, pay them to sign the sworn statements that they have received treatment and send the bill to the government. In this case, the scam was a bit more sophisticated, because it was extended to medicines and for that they created the two pharmacies. The Pichardos have not been the only ones to defraud the government in this way. In fact, federal authorities have been constantly saying...

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