24 August 2006

J. Patrick Maher

J. Patrick Maher is the U.S. official in charge of subverting the Cuban government and making sure that they don't threaten our security:

"Such efforts are critical today, as policy-makers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy," a statement from Negroponte's office said.

I think assigning spy master has more to do with changing the Cuban government into one that is more comfortable for Americans. In the words of State department spokesmen Casey,

"What we want is a transition from the current dictatorship to a democratic government," Casey said. "And we certainly don't think that a transition from Fidel to Raul Castro fits that bill."

Unicef Official on the Performance of Cuban Doctors

Khalida Ahmad of Unicef, who witnessed Cuban teams working in the Pakistan emergency, agrees: "They treat patients like people, not just cases. Everyone I spoke to from the affected areas was so grateful. They felt they could always go to the Cuban doctors to ask a question, despite language difficulties."


16 August 2006

Cuban Oil

A short summary of the state of Cuban oil:

With Soviet help, it discovered the Varadero Oil Field in 1971. This reservoir, within 5 miles of Cuba's northern coast, today yields about 40% of Cuba's total production - roughly 75,000 barrels a day of poor-quality, heavy, sour crude.

In July 2004, however, the Spanish oil company Repsol-YPF (REP), in partnership with Cuba's state oil company, CUPET, identified five fields it classified as "high-quality" in the deep water of the Florida Straits, 20 miles northeast of Havana.

Seven months later, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed it: The North Cuba Basin held a substantial quantity of oil - 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels of crude and 9.8 trillion to 21.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Cuba wasted no time, dividing the 74,000 square mile area into 59 exploration blocks, and then welcoming foreign oil conglomerates with offers of production-sharing agreements.

Oil companies from China and Canada, already prospecting for oil along Cuba's coast, began talks with Cuban energy officials about investments in deep-water operations.

Then, in May, Spain's Repsol-YPF announced it was partnering with India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (500312.BY) and Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY) of Norway to explore for oil and gas in six of the 59 deep-water blocks along Cuba's maritime border with the U.S. Sherritt International Corp. (S.T), the Canadian oil company, has acquired exploration rights in four of the deep-sea blocks.

From the WSJ.com

Will Cuba's Offshore Oil Find Break US Trade Embargo?

July 29, 2006 12:33 p.m.

By Todd Lewan


01 August 2006

Cuban Health Care


The BBC reports that a British select committee traveled to Cuba in 2001 to evaluate the medical system and returned with a favorable report.

Now they think Tony Blair should get over himself and take note of Cuba's system.

But if they traveled today, they would surely find the system under tremendous stress.  The government is exporting much of it to jump start a high value economy.

And the report doesn't tell us for what years these numbers are, but they are interesting:

If you want quick proof of how well all this works, consider Cuba's health indicators.

Its life expectancy and infant mortality rates are pretty much the same as the USA's. Its doctor-to-patient ratios stand comparison to any country in Western Europe.

Its annual total health spend per head, however, comes in at $251; just over a tenth of the UK's.

Netherlands Caribbean Bank

It looks like OFAC (an office within the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Division of the US Treasury Department) is going to play hardball with the Netherland’s ING Groep, a massive banking, insurance, & financial services business evidently raking-in over 80 billion.

One of their subsidiaries, Netherlands Caribbean Bank, is jointly owned by the Cuban government (25%).

Ordinarily, Treasury likes to handle these sort of things diplomatically, a phone call, a letter, if necessary.

But on Friday (28 July 2006) OFAC put Netherlands Caribbean Bank on the notorious list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

You don’t want your name anywhere near that nasty list.


So, it’ll be interesting to follow this story since it appears that ING was either kept in the dark or blew-off OFAC.

In any event, being that the Netherlands Caribbean Bank is only bringing in 25 to 50 million, I’m guessing that ING drops them like a hot potato.

(Evidently, the Bank is involved in supplying Cubans with ice crème paraphernalia, god forbid!