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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

BBC NEWS | Country profile: Cuba

Posted October 13, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Cuba has survived more than 40 years of US sanctions intended to topple the government of Fidel Castro. It has also defied predictions that it would not withstand the collapse of its main supporter, the Soviet Union.

Since the fall of the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Cuba has been a one-party state led by Mr Castro, who exercises control over virtually all aspects of Cuban life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organisations, the government bureaucracy and the state security apparatus.

Exploiting the US-Soviet Cold War, Mr Castro was for decades able to rely on strong Soviet backing, including annual subsidies worth $4-5 billion, and succeed in building reputable health and education systems. But, at least partly because of the US trade sanctions, he failed to diversify the economy, which continues to depend on sugar exports.

The disappearance of Soviet aid following the collapse of the USSR forced the government to introduce tight rationing of energy, food and consumer goods.

However, despite the US trade embargo a modest recovery has been made with the help of Canadian, European and Latin American investments, especially in tourism. Furthermore, some economic controls have been relaxed, with companies allowed to import and export without seeking permission and a number of free trade zones opening up.

But the legalisation of the US dollar since 1993 has created stark divisions between those with dollars and those without, while continuing hardships have led to an increase in prostitution, corruption, black marketeering and desperate efforts to escape in search of a better life.

The US leases the Guantanamo Naval Base on the eastern tip of the island.

CUBA FACTS

Population: 11.3 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Havana
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 75 years (men), 79 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Cuban peso = 100 centavos
Main exports: Sugar, nickel, tobacco, shellfish, medical products, citrus, coffee
Average annual income: n/a
Internet domain: .cu
International dialling code: +53

LEADERS

President: Fidel Castro

President Castro: reputedly survived 600 CIA assassination attempts
Born in 1926, Fidel Castro received a Jesuit education before going on to Havana University, from where he received a doctorate in law. As a lawyer, he dedicated himself to helping the poor.

Mr Castro resorted to armed opposition to the Batista regime after failing to persuade a court that Mr Batista had violated the constitution by ousting President Carlos Prio Socarras.

He earned the enmity of the US by nationalising US-owned properties and has reputedly survived more than 600 CIA-sponsored attempts on his life.

Prime minister: Fidel Castro
First deputy prime minister: Raul Castro
Secretary of the executive committee of the cabinet: Carlos Lage
Economy and planning minister: Jose Luis Rodriguez
Foreign minister: Felipe Ramon Perez Roque
Interior minister: Abelardo Colome

MEDIA

The Cuban media is tightly controlled by the government and journalists must operate within the confines of laws against anti-government propaganda and the insulting of officials which carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Private ownership of electronic media is prohibited by the constitution, and foreign news agencies must hire local journalists only through government offices.

In May 2000 the journalists’ organisation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, put Cuba on its list of nations where press freedoms are severely restricted. It said the Castro government continued to interrogate and detain independent journalists, monitoring their activities and preventing their free movement.

The US makes concerted efforts to reach Cuban listeners and viewers; government-backed stations Radio-TV Marti say they provide “balanced, uncensored” news for the Cuban people.

The stations beam programmes to Cuba from high-power transmitters, some based in the Florida Keys. The effectiveness - or otherwise - of the services has been debated in US government circles.

The press

Granma - official Communist Party newspaper, online version in five languages including English

Television

Cubavision
Tele-Rebelde
CHTV - subsidiary of Tele-Rebelde

Radio

Radio Rebelde - news, music and sport
Radio Reloj - 24-hour news
Radio Enciclopedia - instrumental music
Radio Habana Cuba - external broadcaster, programmes in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Esperanto, Quechua, Guarani and Creole
Radio Progreso - entertainment and music
CMBF-Radio Musical Nacional - classical music

News Agencies

Agencia de Informacion Nacional (AIN) - national news agency
Prensa Latina - government agency

Member Comments

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On November 15, 2004, Larry Conway wrote:

November 12, 2004
SERIOUS OFFICIAL CORRUPTION IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

On the early morning of October 28, 2004, Larry and Marilyn Conway were startled and shocked by the shrill sound of their alarm and the fierce rumbling noise of burglars breaking into their home.  They quickly locked their bedroom door hoping the police would arrive soon.  They were in fear of their lives.  Suddenly they heard a voice call out, “We are the United States Marshals, we know you are in here, so if you have a weapon you better let us know, now!!!).  We yelled back “why are you in our home?” They said they were accompanied by “United States Trustee, Preston Wilson”, and “we have a Writ of Entry Order from Bankruptcy Judge Jeannie Latta that was issued on October 25, 2004 to enter into your home by force to seize all your assets”.  We immediately asked them to “get out of our home”, they refused and stated, “we are not leaving until we have removed everything from this house”.

We are African Americans with an extensive collection of fine art, antiques and an extensive museum quality, African art collection, worth 3 to 5 million dollars. They have unlawfully and unconstitutionally extorted, defrauded and stole our home,our business,and all our real property worth over $10 million dollars.

We need international help to restore our human rights, protect our lives, liberty and property.  These are Jewish gangster criminal rackereers operating under the cover of their official positions, taking and withholding official actions, under color of official right.  They are being protected by U.S. Govt. which puts them above the law.

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On November 15, 2004, Larry Conway wrote:

We desperately need urgent help and assistance.  We no longer have any rights as American Citizen, they have even tried to murder us. We are in fear of our lives and the lives of our family.  They are interfering with our rights to communicate and associate.  We are not criminals, nor have we ever been arrested or charged any crimes.  We are being attacked because of our political activism and support for the rights of the Palestinian People peace,freedom and dignity in their homeland and speaking out against Zionism and Zionist Oppression.
Larry Conway/Marilyn Conway
901-650-0934/901-335-5184
6099 Shady Grove Road
Memphis, Tennessee 38120