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Cruise ship rescues 24 Cuban migrants in Caribbean

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Cruise ship rescues 24 Cuban migrants in Caribbean

By Juan O. Tamayo

Miami Herald, Posted on Thu, Mar. 06, 2014

A passing Carnival cruise ship has rescued 24 Cubans stranded in a wooden boat for five days, part of an apparently increasing number of would-be migrants setting off from the southeastern end of Cuba and trying to reach the United States.

The 2,000-passenger Carnival Paradise picked up the 23 men and one woman on Wednesday and put them ashore at its next scheduled stop in the Cayman Islands, a British territory about 125 miles south of Cuba.

“In keeping with a longtime tradition of aiding mariners in distress, Carnival Paradise altered its course and brought on board 24 individuals from Cuba who were provided with food, water, fresh clothing and accommodations and evaluated by the ship’s medical team,” the cruise company said in a statement.

Cayman authorities have reported spotting a growing number of Cuban migrant vessels in territorial waters in the past year, but provided no numbers. Cubans aboard seaworthy ships are allowed to continue, but others are forced ashore and usually returned to Cuba.

Most of the Cuban boats leave from the southeastern end of the communist-ruled island and try to ride the prevailing currents and winds to Central America. From there, the migrants can head by land to the Mexican border with the United States.

Carnival said its ship left Tampa and was en route to the Cayman Islands, on the first day of a routine five-day Caribbean cruise, when it stopped to assist the smaller vessel. The Cayman27 news service reported the Cubans were put ashore in Grand Cayman and were being processed in a migrant detention center.

A French passenger aboard the Carnival Paradise, Matthew Sudders, told CNN iReport that the ship’s PA system at one point announced that the captain had spotted a small boat that appeared to be in distress and was going to its help.

“The people in it were yelling in Spanish. One of them appeared to be unwell in the bottom of the boat. We could see that there was water in the bottom of the boat and although it had an engine, it was not running,” Sudders was quoted as saying.

The ship’s crew lowered a platform and threw life jackets to the Cubans, then took them onboard. A ship’s announcement later indicated the boat had been stranded for five days, said Sudders, who shot several photos of the rescue.

“There was a huge cheer for the people as they came aboard,” Sudders told CNN iReport.

But some of the people next to him watching the rescue from a deck on the ship mentioned the Oscar-nominated film Captain Phillips, about the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. freighter by Somali pirates, and wondered if the new passengers were not a risk, Sudders added.

Cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean have rescued many other groups of Cuban and other migrants in the past. Just last year, two cruise ships picked up 21 people near Key West and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas rescued 23 Cubans near Jamaica and took them to Mexico.

Ley Helms-Burton: EEUU pone la lupa a dos bancos por violar el embargo a Cuba

Las entidades francesas, Societe Generale y Credit Agricole están siendo investigados por el Departamento del Tesoro y el de Justicia

NUEVA YORK.- (EFE)vie mar 7 2014 15:20

Ambos bancos habían mantenido conversaciones sobre las potenciales violaciones al presentar sus cuentas en 2013 y a principios del 2010. (Archivo)

  • Dos importantes bancos cancelan operaciones en Cuba

Los bancos franceses Societe Generale y Credit Agricole están siendo investigados en Estados Unidos por un posible delito de blanqueo de capitales e infracciones relacionadas con el embargo a Cuba y otros países como Irán o Sudán, informa hoy The Wall Street Journal en su edición digital.

Las dos entidades financieras francesas están siendo investigadas por el Tesoro, por el Departamento del Justicia, por la oficina del fiscal federal de Manhattan y por el departamento de Servicios Financieros del estado de Nueva York, según detalla el diario financiero.

Societe Generale y Credit Agricole ya mantuvieron en el pasado conversaciones con las autoridades estadounidenses con relación a potenciales violaciones tanto al presentar sus cuentas del año pasado como a principios de 2010.

En los últimos años han sido investigados varios bancos europeos activos en países objeto de sanciones en EE.UU. y algunos como Barclays, Credit Suisse o Standard Chartered han pagado millonarias multas para cerrar los casos, según el periódico neoyorquino.

Por su parte, el banco BNP Paribas indicó el mes pasado que cuenta con una reserva de 1.100 millones de dólares para cubrir potenciales multas relacionadas con transacciones con países sujetos a sanciones estadounidenses.

La entidad francesas está en conversaciones con las autoridades federales y del estado de Nueva York para cerrar una investigación por blanqueo de dinero y otras violaciones en países como Irán y Cuba, según el mismo diario.

Numerosos bancos han sido multados en Estados Unidos en el pasado por no revelar de forma voluntaria la transferencia de fondos a Cuba, considerado como una violación de la Ley Helms-Burton, que regula el embargo comercial a la isla.

Las autoridades de La Habana han acusado en reiteradas ocasiones a Washington de intensificar su política de bloqueo a Cuba por aplicar multas millonarias a bancos y otras compañías extranjeras por operar con la isla.


Cuba allows phone access to some email

By Juan O. Tamayo,

Franklin Reyes / AP

Miami Herald, Posted on Sat, Mar. 08, 2014

In this Feb. 7, 2014 photo, tourists joke as they look at a cell phone in the lobby of the Capri hotel in Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government’s telecommunications monopoly has approved smartphone access to the island’s system, showing its intention to both expand and continue to control the flow of information in the communist-ruled nation.

The Telecommunications Enterprise of Cuba, known as ETECSA, announced Thursday that the service will cost 1 CUC — about $1.20 in U.S. dollars — per megabyte, an exceptionally expensive rate in a country where the average worker officially earns $20 per month.

Smartphones in Cuba currently have no access to any type of data service. Some Cubans use some applications with information, such as the entire Wikipedia archives, loaded directly from computers with access to the Internet.

ETECSA also limits access to the Internet to its own stores, government institutions, doctors and other special persons, and does not offer home access. Cuba now has the lowest rate of access to the Web in the Western Hemisphere.

ETECSA officials in recent months have spoken repeatedly about plans to improve Internet services this year, from smartphone access to email and the Web to home access and reductions in rates and bureaucratic snags.

But the high price of access to the system, which works only in Cuba, shows that the Raúl Castro government remains wary of loosing controls on the flow of information, said José Remón, a former ETECSA official living in Miami.

“The first limitation is the price, which is extraordinarily expensive,” said Remón, adding that his own cellphone’s 220 megabytes of use last month would cost him about $250 in Cuba. “The second limitation is in what can be accessed.”

“Limiting this to is because they want to control everything, monitor everything,” said independent Havana lawyer and blogger Laritza Diversent.

Havana engineer Victor Ariel Gonzalez, writing recently in his blog Bastardos Sin Gloria — Inglorious Bastards — joked that ETECSA’s promises of improved Internet services are barely better than nothing.

“For the average person on the island, the Internet will stop being a miracle and become just a luxury,” he wrote, “a timid and insufficient step but one that points toward something positive.”

ETECSA’s announcement, also sent as text messages to clients , said those who want access to must go to its offices to “enable the service,” then must configure their smartphones to access the email accounts. is part of the island’s “intranet” — a Cuba-only network of Web pages and services. The government regularly blocks the foreign Web pages it views as hostile, such as the U.S. government’s Radio/TV Martí, and tightly monitors the country’s cybernauts.

ETECSA officials have said that the expansions and improvements of the state monopoly’s operations have been made possible by new business practices, including the permission for persons abroad to pay for Cuban cellphone bills.

The improvements are “due primarily to the entry of fresh hard currency into the country, greatly important to the expansion and modernization” of the ETECSA services, said a Jan. 26 report by Cuba’s official National Information Agency.

ETECSA’s promises of better Internet service have not pleased everyone, however.

In his blog post, Gonzalez noted unconfirmed reports that the telecommunications company will increase its Internet rates for public institutions, which will in turn require the institutions to cut back on the free access they allocate to employees.

Some Havana journalists, for instance, now get 20 hours of connection per month. State workers who receive such allocations can also sell their unspent hours on the black market for $1 to $5 per hour, according to island residents.

“Such a job, even if it has a very low salary, has some value thanks to the unusual connectivity that it offers,” Gonzalez wrote in his blog.


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