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.

Despite Trump, Cubans have lost political influence in the United States

Despite Trump, Cubans have lost political influence in the United States

In January 2017, Democratic President Barack Obama ended the wet foot/dry foot policy, an initiative of his fellow Democrat Bill Clinton that banned Cubans from entering the United States if they were found on high seas, that is, three maritime miles from the U.S. coast, but that allowed entry of those who touched terra firma. Recently it was reported that Republican Donald Trump’s White House has designed a new asylum policy that prevents any foreigner at a port of entry―land, sea or air― from receiving asylum if he/she has not previously requested it in a third country adjacent to the United States. There are only two countries adjacent to the United States: Mexico and Canada. All this is due to the large number of people who have congregated on the Mexican border. Although the new policy is mostly designed for potential Central American immigrants, the truth is that the text does not mention any nationality in particular, so it also applies to Cubans, those who have always received preferential treatment since the Cuban Adjustment Act  was promulgated on November 2, 1966 giving Cubans the right to residence one year and one day after being in the United States. Now they...

Cuba gets 2,703 immigrant visas in State Department’s lottery

Cuba gets 2,703 immigrant visas in State Department’s lottery

The winners of the visa lottery to reside in the United States have started receiving official notifications that they can start the processing. In Cuba, the visa was granted to 2,703 people, which ranked the island in 11th place in the world, the State Department reported this Thursday. A total of 83,884 applicants were chosen throughout the world. According to immigration officials, this is a normal number because the consulates take into account that not everyone appears or don’t meet the requirements. The total quota of the lottery is 55,000, but making draws where more can fit in is also a consequence of the fact that there is no quota per country. Almost 14 million people participated in the lottery. In addition, another reduction is proposed in the 83,884 visas given out if they do not meet the consular requirements. The Bulletin of the Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of State published in a release that during the visa interview (at the consulates), the heads of households must demonstrate having completed secondary education or the equivalent, or two years of experience in a profession that requires at least two years of training and has been exercised in the...

Fidel, Escalante, Bofill and the microfraction

Fidel, Escalante, Bofill and the microfraction

Cuban human rights activist and the last survivor of one of the first political crises of the Cuban Revolution, Ricardo Bofill Pagés, died in the early hours of Friday in Miami after a long heart ailment and from complications in an operation on his back, several of his friends confirmed to OnCuba. He was 76 years old. Bofill was one of the pioneers of the controversial movement for the defense of human rights in Cuba. The creation, by him, of the Cuban Human Rights Committee in 1976 was a sort of watershed in the third decade of the Cuban revolutionary process. One of the tasks he focused on was the preparation of detailed reports on human rights violations that managed to attract the attention of organizations such as Amnesty International or the UN Human Rights Committee. After leaving prison in 1974 he also headed the birth of Cuban dissidence in terms similar to that which arose in the late Soviet Union at that time. It is curious because Bofill's first imprisonment occurred in 1968, when he was accused of being more pro-Soviet than pro-Castro during the episode of the so-called "microfraction." The microfraction This process is a controversial episode of...

The mayor of Miami and the end of cultural exchange, mission impossible?

The mayor of Miami and the end of cultural exchange, mission impossible?

The approval last week by the city of Miami commissioners of a resolution to request from the Congress of the United States a legislation focused on banning the performance on U.S. soil of Cuban artists living on the island, has an overtone of return to the past, but it is also a futile and perhaps unconstitutional gesture, according to experts and observers. The return to the past is manifested by the fact that Miami seems to want to recover a Cold War philosophy that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s, when everything that had to do with Cuba was abhorred as something contagious and that could be ruled out because of its political overtone. It is a futile gesture because there are zero possibilities of making progress on this. It is very difficult to obtain a majority that approves it in the Senate, still dominated by the Republicans, bearing in mind that the only Cuban-American congressman, Mario Díaz-Balart, has let the matter pass without saying a word. These days what concerns him is that the Donald Trump administration speeds up the family reunification that has been temporarily halted because of bad bilateral relations. And it has an unconstitutional overtone because...

I’m also afraid

I’m also afraid

Evening is often synonymous with retreat, whether to go to rest, read a book, watch television, make love, endless things. But when you drive Uber or Lyft it's time to go to work so that others can have fun. All this time in which I have dedicated myself to partially touring the city with clients inside the car has allowed me to observe an interesting phenomenon. It is obvious that not all clients are the same but they are very similar. Miami, in spite of everything, is a happy city, of relatively carefree and relaxed people, but when they enter the car they suddenly think they’re from Geneva. They rarely talk, they don’t express a taste for a particular radio station, they’re not interested in what’s happening around them, inside and outside the car. Normally they lock themselves in their cell phone, watching movies or surfing Facebook, without exchanging a word with the driver. But those who do speak are usually entertaining and fun. One of those weekends two young girls from Minnesota used my services and riding an Uber was an adventure for them. It turns out that it was the first time they did it―it seems that where...

Democratic senator to present legislation to legalize Americans’ travel to Cuba

Democratic senator to present legislation to legalize Americans’ travel to Cuba

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is pondering the presentation of a bill that would legalize Americans’ tourist trips to Cuba, after the cancellaction of the cruises to the island and the elimination of one of the travel licenses, the people-to-people category. Judging by a short address in the Senate plenary on Wednesday afternoon, the idea of ​​the veteran senator is to definitively end all restrictions on travel to Cuba. "This administration has reinstituted the Cold War restrictions on the right of every American citizen to travel to Cuba, even though an overwhelming majority of Americans opposes such restrictions," said the 79-year-old senator, who has a long record of contacts with Cuba and its government. "Cruise ships will stop sailing.  Educational and cultural exchanges will shut down. Sports teams will stay home. School trips will end. Trade missions will end. American farmers and companies will be shut out. What kind of government thinks it has a right to tell its citizens where they can travel, and where they can spend their own money?" he emphasized. He also said, "Ironically, not the Cuban government, despite its repressive policies.  Cubans can travel to the United States if we grant them a visa." For Leahy, "freedom to travel is...

Travel to Cuba ban limits Americans’ constitutional rights

Travel to Cuba ban limits Americans’ constitutional rights

One of the most ambitious plans to establish contacts between the United States and Cuba, which began in 2016, has experienced an unexpected end on Tuesday when the Treasury Department announced the end of cruises to the island, which were transporting thousands of Americans with three- to four-day stays in several coastal cities. The news was accompanied by another restriction: the end of one of the 12 categories authorized to travel to Cuba, the people-to-people one, in which the passengers of the cruise ships were included. However, the category of "support for the Cuban people" continues, which may seem like it but a license for it is much more difficult to get because it implies that travelers have to keep count of their movements and daily expenses, at the risk of being subjected to an audit on their return to the United States. In a press release announcing the changes in travel between the two countries, the Treasury Department says that they are due to the need to make it "ineligible for a license exception and to establish a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft." In a separate note to clarify some doubts, the...

Carnival claims lawsuit doesn’t comply with Helms-Burton Act

Carnival claims lawsuit doesn’t comply with Helms-Burton Act

The Carnival shipping company has asked a judge in Miami to reject one of the two lawsuits that have been filed over the use of port facilities in Cuba for its cruise ships because it has no legal basis. The request refers to the claim of the heirs of the Behn family, owners of Havana Docks, the current Sierra Maestra terminal in Havana, and argues that the open lawsuit under the umbrella of the Helms-Burton Act is unfounded for two reasons: the controversial law does not apply and the concession for the use of port facilities expired in 2004. In the documentation accompanying the lawsuit, the heirs of Havana Docks maintain that from the moment Carnival started trips to Cuba in May 2016, it "intentionally carried out and promoted its commercial cruise business to Cuba, resorting to the use of the property in question to regularly board and disembark its passengers without the plaintiff’s permission." But this does not seem to be Carnival’s understanding, for whose attorneys the Helms-Burton Act is not applicable because it does not define as "trafficking" the use of ports "for legal trips to Cuba, allowed by the Department of the Treasury," according to the Law...

Europe threatens U.S. companies with confiscating assets for claims in Cuba

Europe threatens U.S. companies with confiscating assets for claims in Cuba

This week the European Commission reaffirmed its old position that U.S. companies that question in the courts member countries’ economic relations with Cuba, will run the risk of their European assets being confiscated. All this resurfaces after Washington decided in April, within the framework of the Helms-Burton Act, to allow the filing of lawsuits by U.S. citizens against foreign companies that use facilities or properties nationalized at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. In a letter addressed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cited by the Bloomberg agency, the Commission recalls that European laws don’t recognize extraterritoriality and in response authorize the opening of other lawsuits in the country of origin of the affected company, where compensation is contemplated for the same value set by the U.S. courts. For example, if a court in Miami rules against a Spanish company that operates in Cuba for a certain amount of money, that Spanish company can go to a court in Madrid to ask for compensation on that amount taken from an asset on European soil of the company that initiated the lawsuit. "The likelihood is that the beginning of a judicial case in the United States will trigger a case in...

Lawsuits under the Helms-Burton aspire to triple nationalized value

Lawsuits under the Helms-Burton aspire to triple nationalized value

The first lawsuits against foreign companies that are using commercial facilities nationalized at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution are demanding compensation for triple the amount of the alleged losses, but two of them don’t specify the intended amount. That of Exxon Mobil is the first one against the Cuban government and the only one that puts a value to its nationalized interests: more than 70 million dollars. In addition, one of the three judges in charge of processing them has participated in a major trial against the Cuban government, which could lead to a "conflict of interests," according to specialists consulted by OnCuba. The lawsuits have been filed in Miami and Washington DC, two against the Carnival cruise line and the third directly against two Cuban companies, the CIMEX holding and the oil distributor CUPET. The latter are sued by the Exxon Mobil oil company, heir to the interests of Standard Oil, whose facilities were nationalized at the beginning of the 1960s. The lawsuits have been filed after last month the Donald Trump administration lifted the ban on the application of the controversial Helms-Burton Act, in particular its Title III, which allows all Americans to go to court in...

In this photograph of March 28, 2019, President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo: Paul Sancya / AP.

Trump threatens “full and complete” embargo and more sanctions against Cuba if it doesn’t stop “military operations” in Venezuela

President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday with a "full and complete" embargo on Cuba and the "highest-level" sanctions if the island's authorities don’t withdraw their alleged infiltrated troops from Caracas and make them return "peacefully." "If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately cease military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba. Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!" the president wrote in his twitter account. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1123333508078997505?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1123333508078997505&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba-ee-uu%2Ftrump-amenaza-con-total-y-completo-embargo-y-mas-sanciones-a-cuba-si-no-cesa-operaciones-militares-en-venezuela%2F The threat represents a significant escalation in the confrontation between the two countries and a return to the more violent Cold War language, when the Democratic administration of John F. Kennedy in October 1962 established a total embargo on the Caribbean island during the Missile Crisis. The tweet was published minutes after it was learned that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López and his family sought asylum in the Chilean embassy in Caracas, after a day of clashes between the opposition, led by the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, and a group of low-ranking military and forces loyal to President Nicolás Maduro....

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP.

Pressures reach a crescendo: U.S. will announce more restrictions on Cuba

The White House is preparing to launch a new package of economic measures that will affect U.S. companies operating in Cuba. According to several administration sources, National Security Adviser John Bolton would return to Miami mid next week, and would announce the package with a new political argument: to try to stop the presumed influence that Cuba has on the Venezuelan situation, which would, for the time being, reduce the strength of the compensation for nationalizations. What new measures? Some of the measures could be to force U.S. companies to pay their employees on the island directly in foreign currency, and not through a Cuban employer; the establishment of a daily spending limit in Cuba for Americans, be they businesspeople or simple tourists (something that existed during the George W. Bush administration but disappeared with that of Barack Obama); and an increase in the degree of danger in the advisory state for travel to Cuba that, theoretically, every American must take into account when traveling. In this setting, Bolton could extend the measures in effect since a month and a half ago and announce the return of Cuba to the list of countries that sponsor terrorist activities, and the inclusion...

Some 700 Cubans traveling in caravan of migrants from Chiapas

Some 700 Cubans traveling in caravan of migrants from Chiapas

The caravan of Central American immigrants that has formed on the border of Guatemala with Mexico includes people from different countries in the region and about 700 Cubans who have managed to reach Mexican territory. According to several local media, Cubans have concentrated in a plaza in the city of Tapachula, in southwest Mexico, where they have told the daily Excelsiór that the aim is to reach the northern border of the United States and from there try to enter that country. Apparently, the Cubans decided to join the caravan because they are in Mexican territory without a crossing permit given by the Mexican authorities, who have decided to make the passage difficult in the face of the avalanche of the island’s undocumented trying to reach the United States. The Cubans, says  Excélsior, have been stranded there for two weeks due to the impossibility of obtaining the transit document. The document is free but the border authorities, according to several testimonies, are demanding about 1,500 Mexican pesos (about 80 dollars) and the hiring of lawyers for the necessary procedures. The facilities of the National Institute of Migration (INM) of Tapachula are closed after a protest led by Cubans last week when...

Economist and academician Carmelo Mesa-Lago during the 12th Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. Photo: Marita Pérez Díaz.

Carmelo Mesa-Lago: There is a sector that opposes reforms in Cuba

Before an audience of specialists, students and analysts during the second day of sessions of the 12th Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies of the Florida International University, economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago emphasized that the Cuban economy is at its worst moment since the 1990s. A setback in Venezuela would be a kind of sentence for the current Cuban economy. "If Maduro fails, the crisis in Cuba will worsen significantly," he said in Miami this Friday. One solution would be to search for a new "subsidizer." The reforms that President Raúl Castro tried to introduce in the country "have been very slow and are subject to many restrictions, taxes discourage investments and that prevents the advance of the private sector, conspiring against the need for economic growth," he said. During the questions session with the audience, Mesa-Lago explained that the Cuban leadership has not made much progress in the economic reforms because "in my opinion it’s obvious there’s a sector that opposes them." "Another country can assume the subsidies of the Cuban economy. It may be Russia or China, but Russia is the seventh trade partner and the agreements they have signed are under study. The oil that Russia exports [to...

Photo: Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters.

What would happen if the U.S. applies Title III of the Helms-Burton Act?

The Donald Trump administration is still considering the possibility of allowing the prosecution in the United States of foreign companies that have invested in Cuba and use facilities that were nationalized after the 1959 Revolution. However, several experts have agreed in statements to OnCuba that it is a difficult, intricate process, not exempt of pitfalls but that, in the long run, it can be beneficial for the island. "The biggest headache will be with Europe, or any country investing in Cuba, because of the question of extraterritoriality," says political analyst Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Department of Politics and International Relations of the Florida International University. On the table is Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, enacted in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton. The application of this title has been suspended continuously for periods of six months since then, after a negotiation with the European Union. Title III allows U.S. citizens at the time of nationalization or foreigners ̶ including Cubans ̶ who have subsequently obtained that nationality, to claim compensation before a U.S. court from those foreign companies that have invested or use the nationalized facilities that belonged to them. Currently there are almost 6,000 claims worth 1.8...

Cuban-Americans in Miami divided in their views on Cuba

Cuban-Americans in Miami divided in their views on Cuba

The so-called Guantánamo Generation has been the turning point in the reconfiguration of the Cuban-American community, diametrically altering its design since it settled in the south of Florida after 1995, according to a poll released last Thursday by the Florida International University on Cuban-Americans’ view on the Island. In almost all the polled categories, the new generations, particularly those who arrived in the United States after 1995, advocate a closer rapprochement with their native country or, at least, maintaining things as they are, although in electoral political terms they continue being inclined towards the conservative side. "The poll concluded that there are Cubans and Cubans," one of its authors, professor of sociology and president of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies of the FIU, Guillermo Grenier, ironically said. The study, known as the "FIU Cuba poll," is titled "How Cuban-Americans in Miami view U.S. policies toward Cuba" and was carried out between last November 14 and December 1. One thousand and one Miami-Dade County residents were contacted by phone. The margin of error of the results is more or less 3.1%. Dr. Guillermo Grenier, during the presentation of the poll on Cuba at FIU last...

Multimillionaire philanthropist George Soros in an event in Paris, May 2018. Photo: François Mori / AP.

The Radio and TV Martí scandal

The government-financed Radio and TV Martí, created to broadcast propaganda to Cuba, is under a federal government investigation for apparently having violated the ethics of journalistic content by broadcasting a program where businessman and philanthropist George Soros is referred to as “a multimillionaire Jew of Hungarian origin whose fortune is estimated at eight billion dollars” and, in addition, presented him as “a non-believer Jew” and “having a flexible morality.” The program, which was aired in May, sustains that the businessman has devoted himself to influencing several democratic countries through the Open Society Foundation. In recent weeks, 88-year-old Soros has been accused without proof by conservative commentators and analysists of financing the caravan of immigrants and refugees headed for the southern U.S. border through Central America. The also financier is generally presented by the extreme right as being responsible for the financial crises in the western world, especially the 2008 crisis. Last week the Hungarian conservative government canceled the operations permit of the Central European University founded by Soros after the fall of the Berlin Wall to promote the transition from socialism to capitalism in Eastern Europe. Although Soros has become a Nemesis of conservative and extreme right movements, he was...

Photo by Rui Ferreira

Cuba Nostalgia, where the past was always better

An exile always generates nostalgia. And nostalgia can become an industry, when the exile has been pining for the land left behind for over fifty years, without the certainty of seeing it again. It is when recovering the past becomes a necessity before dying. Every year in Miami, the Cuba Nostalgia show opens its doors, and meets precisely this need of the Cuban exile - especially those of the older members of the community – who are losing from the back of a memory that fades slowly, all landmarks of a past life that, they say, 'was always better'. "The Cubans always criticize us because we think that life in Cuba was better than anywhere else. And the truth is that it was. The Cuba of abundance only exists in our memories," said Mariano Lopez, a naturalized Cuban, who left his country in 1960 at one of the fair’s editions. At the bottom of it all, Cubans flock every year to Cuba Nostalgia to face their past and if the budget allows, to buy it. Because the show is big business, you can buy everything there. Be it coins and banknotes that have been out of circulation for decades, rare...

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