Progreso Weekly opens its piece of cyberspace to the readers. We’d like to hear what you think and how you react to our ideas and interpretations of the news. There will be simple rules to follow, and we will abide by them: First, keep it simple. Secondly, profanity and off-color remarks will NOT be tolerated. Finally, we reserve the right to publish any and all commentaries offered to progresoblog in Progreso Weekly.
Cuba policy and how to change it (or not) is still of major importance in Congress these days. Earlier this month through the Omnibus bill passed by Congress and signed by the President, travel restrictions for Cuban Americans visiting family members in the island nation was relaxed to the status held before the 2004 regulations changed ordered by the Bush Administration. Currently there are two bills in Congress that address travel for all Americans (HR 874 and S 428) that has some enthused with the possibilities of further change through the legislative process. While in conversations with persons close to the situation, I have been told that these two bills “will not make it through Congress. Not right now, anyway…”
Today we learned of a bill introduced by Rep. Jerry Moran of Kansas dealing with trade and travel known as The Agricultural Export Facilitation Act of 2009 which would remove barriers to present and future sales of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000. As the Wisconsin Ag Connection states, “The bill clarifies that a seller of a product receives payment at the time a Cuban purchaser takes physical possession of that product.”
This last bill makes sense. As I’ve always said, It’s easier to be a cow and travel to Cuba, then to travel because of a sick family member. The cow brings in dollars… And in a time of recession, polticians from agricultural states are doing whatever it takes to help create new markets for their farmers. And Cuba is an 11 million person market of people who love to eat.
To read the full press statement just clink on the link below
What follows is a letter that appeared today (Sunday - March 29) in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
CHOOSE EDUCATION OVER STADIUM
It is my opinion that the needs of our children and teachers must be considered greater than the need for a new Marlins stadium, or any other stadium for that matter. What is a half-filled stadium when compared to the half an education offered our children by the present educational system? Stop taxing, bonding and mortgaging our future for the sports arenas and spend the dollars where they will do the most good. Education comes first in benefiting our country’s future and our children’s future.
The unemployment rate in Florida was up to 9.4 percent during the month of February. Ouch! In other words, one out of every 10 of working age persons you run into in Florida is currently without a job. Not a pretty sight when you consider that there are still many economists telling us we have yet to hit rock bottom. What is rock bottom, I would ask. Honestly, the situation is scary. Maybe because I’ve never seen anything like this during my lifetime, anyway.
In the meantime, trillions of OUR dollars are still being handed to failing banks and large corporation — many of them responsible for the situation we’re currently in. Most maddening about this tax dollars free-for-some is how many (think AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup and others) have yet to caught on (or refuse to do so because they ARE the one being bailed out) that regular Americans who used to work on Main Street, USA, are suffering. The ones with jobs — the money they are making is not enough to cover needs; others are simply getting layoff notices.
I don’t know what will end up happening… but may God put a heavy and wise hand on President Obama. Seriously, don’t know what else to ask for…
If you’re surprised, sorry, but I will have to call you a fool. The Florida Marlins are halfway to getting a new stadium using more than 80% tax dollars (in other words, OUR money) and constructing the new baseball palace built for rich folks at the old Orange Bowl site in Miami’s Little Havana. The final vote before City of Miami commissioners was 3 to 2 (Angel Gonzalez, Joe Sanches and swing vote Michele Spence-Jones voting for… and Tomas Regalado and Marc Sarnoff against).
What’s next? A vote before county commissioners on Monday (March 23). Count on the votes being there (for the Marlins). If not, don’t be surprised if we see another postponement of any final vote — the strategy which has been used by a team of lobbyists, Marlins personnel and yes, politicians on the ball-team’s bandwagon (for whatever the rea$$on…).
There’s an excellent editorial in today’s New York Times titled “Still broken.” For years I have worked for the empowerment of minority communities — mostly in Florida –by way of the vote. So the fact that The New York Times is reporting that as many as 3 million registered voters were NOT allowed to cast ballots this past November does not surprise me. Millions more, they reported, became frustrated because of long lines and other obstacles and also did not vote.
Right here in Florida I have been involved in trying to reform laws which prevent people from voting — whether on purpose or simply because of bad planning. Since the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was implemented after 2002 and because of the failed 2000 presidential election followed by the mess created in Florida in the 2002 gubernatorial primaries, I have labeled this act the Help America (NOT) Vote Act. HAVA attempted to make voting easier, fairer and error-proof and all it has done is make things harder — especially for voters from the minority communities, the poor and many elderly.
I suggest you read the complete editorial, but just in case, here are probably the two most important paragraphs:
“The most important change Congress can make is to require universal voter registration. That would put the burden on states to register eligible voters — identifying them from other government lists such as tax and motor vehicle databases — rather than forcing prospective voters to navigate the obstacle-ridden path to the voting rolls. States should also be required to make registration permanent so voters are not purged from the rolls because of a move to a new address or a name change.
“Congress should enact lenient federal rules for voter identification, allowing voters to present a wide array of IDs. Far too many states have onerous requirements that make it particularly hard for poor people and racial minorities to vote. And it should outlaw vote suppression and other campaign dirty tricks.”
Have you ever met people who sell their lies as truth? Then get away with these “croquetas“, as I would call them, and end up looking smarter than most? It’s how I view Carlos Alberto Montaner, a Miami Herald columnist, who is loved by hard-right Cuban extremists in Miami and Madrid, and whose writings are filled with bluster, lies and stories that are hard to believe. But you know what? he sells them. And apparently well.
I don’t know the character (in person), and honestly I’m not interested in meeting him, but I have kept pace with him through his columns, television interviews, radio appearances and other public appearances where he has shown a great mastery over members of the media and their viewers, listeners and readers. I say this because I have yet to see him in a media appearance where he doesn’t make up something along the way. He quotes statistics and studies that were never conducted — and people believe him. He has more information from inside Cuba than most anyone I know. Yet, he’s not been inside the island in years and from the BS he handles I doubt he really knows anybody inside Cuba. He must make it up along the way…
Just today I read a column published by The Miami Herald titled “Raul Castro - No foes, more power” where after you’ve read it you ask yourself how he does it. Seriously, after reading this piece (and if I dared believe what he writes) you’d say he lived inside Raul Castro. He gives a blow by blow account of the new Cuban leader and why he is doing what he’s done. He describes events like if he had spoken just recently with Castro. He speaks of Carlos Lage and Perez Roque as if he knew them, but what’s most amazing about his writing is that at times you catch yourself believing the bullshit.
Carlos Alberto Montaner is a dangerous man. I say this because he’s talented, apparently intelligent and sells himself off as a person with deep sources of information in the most remote places he’s never been too. And people believe it. One last thing, for years many have wondered who he really answers to… some swear it’s that U.S. agency known worldwide by its three letters.
Come on Carlos Alberto, come clean. Tell us the truth, for once.
The Miami Herald has a new columnist, Jackie Bueno Sousa. I think she’s lost. Either that or she’s really trying to cozy up to Miami’s hard right Cuban population — probably the ones with $$ who might give her a job when she loses hers with The Herald (hey, everyone else is getting laid-off at that place…).
I woke up to her column today in the front page of the Metro section and started reading. Her headline drew me to a problem that has many of us very upset these days — top executives of large corporations getting outrageous salaries and bonuses while people under them are being fired, getting paid very little or simply getting screwed by those same highly paid execs. The interesting part was how she came out defending the executives saying we were stereotyping all of them and that only a few are giving the rest a bad name.
Interesting, I thought. But that’s when things really got weird. Three quarters of the way down the column she wrote about a joke she heard in Havana of all places. She traveled around the world in the joke and ends up with Cuba and a Cuban government official and a mansion… well, the joke made no sense and had little connectivity to her column.
I won’t link Bueno Sousa’s column because it’s really not worth the read. And like I just wrote, makes little sense. But it leads me to think that Jackie, who just got a job with The Herald, expects to lose it soon. Maybe a really stupid column like this one, which sticks up for highly paid executives and tries to insult Cuba and Cuban officials, will ingratiate her with some rich hardline Cuban in Miami who might offer her a job.
Oh my, The Miami Herald really has downgraded. Like I mentioned in an earlier comment, it’s sad. Alvaro F. Fernandez
So the clock has suddenly been turned back to 2004 before the cruel regulations on travel to Cuba were imposed by the Bush Administration. Thank God and thank you Mr. President — Obama, definitely not Bush. Although the new guideline issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), who is charged with regulating travel to Cuba under the Treasury Department, are not what the president promised during his campaign for the presidency, it does suddenly opens the door and allows in some fresh air for a change — allowing families to travel once and year (and more if the situation warrants it, for example, emergency situations).
Whatever it is, let’s call it a new day and let us keep working on making travel to Cuba as normal as travel to any other country in the Western Hemisphere. I suggest we read the new regulations that go into effect “immediately” that state we can travel once a year under a general license and more than once a year under a special license depending on the situation. The rate of money allowed is the same as everyone else — $179 per day. And the unholy “family” definition imposed by Bush has been changed to “close relatives” which opens up the field to who a close relative can be.
Alvaro F. Fernandez
Click here to read the new OFAC regulation and how they are applied to Cuba family travel:
This morning Miami Herald employees were met with more bad news. A memo from publisher David Landsberg informed them that there again would be a reduction of the workforce. Total today (March 11) was 175 employees losing jobs while 30 currently vacant position will not be filled, a 19% reduction. “The place looks like a morgue,” a Herald employee told me over the telephone.
Although in today’s economy a job is a job, things aren’t that great for those who survived the cuts in Miami’s only major newspaper. The Landsberg memo also informed those staying that their salaries were being slashed. Plans are to cut 5% of salary for anyone at the newspaper making between $25,000 and $50,000. Those making more than $50K will suffer a 10% slash from their paychecks. Changes will go into effect on March 23.
Yesterday I reported that Time Magazine had tabbed The Miami Herald as one of 10 major newspapers that would disappear as we know them. In their article they said The Herald would become a strictly online venture in both English and Spanish. Today’s news seems to add fuel to this fire which rages in our fair city.
On my end, I am sad to see what is happening. There are hundreds of people losing jobs on a weekly basis. And love them or hate them, I’ve been reading The Miami Herald since I was a little kid.
Don’t take it from me. But I keep reading emails sent to Herald employees announcing pending cuts and now Time Magazine, in its internet edition, has just come out with an article titled “The 10 most endangered newspapers in America”. It starts out by saying, “Over the past few weeks, the U.S. newspaper industry has entered a new period of decline.” Decline in the business sense, I agree. And honestly, I would hate to see the Herald go under. But as for decline, The Herald’s been in decline for years. Except for a few exceptional journalists still on staff, Miami’s only major newspaper has been on a slippery slope downward since the 1990s. It appears that things are worse than we might even think, though.
Time has them as one of the top 3 papers ready to fold and declare Chapter 11. But don’t take it from me. Read on:
“3. The Miami Herald, which has a daily circulation of about 220,000. It is owned by McClatchy, a publicly traded company that could be the next chain to file for Chapter 11. The Herald has been on the market since December, but no serious bidders have emerged. Newspaper advertising has been especially hard-hit in Florida because of the tremendous loss in real estate advertising. The online version of the paper is already well read in the Miami area, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Herald has strong competition north of it, in Fort Lauderdale. There is a very small chance it could merge with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, but it is more likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-language readers and one for Spanish.”
Keep reading Progreso Weekly is all I can add. We may be small and with very little money, but we’re not about to fold… And instead of declining we’ve been improving since the beginning of the 21st century. Imagine that, The Herald may go to strictly Internet. Bring ‘em on!