Sergio Paneque

Sergio Paneque

“Mr. Hershey’s Cuba: A Sweet Venture in Sugar, 1916-1946”

Picture it. The year is 1916. Chocolate magnate Milton Hershey arrives in Cuba for vacation. He is entranced with the lush tropical island, and he finds the Cuban people simply charming. With sugar a predominant industry in Cuba—and a key ingredient to Hershey’s milk chocolate—Mr. Hershey sees the potential for building a business there around sugar. Within months, Milton Hershey purchases his first plantation and sugar mill, and quickly builds a railroad and a community, which he names Hershey, Cuba.

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“Mr. Hershey’s Cuba: A Sweet Venture in Sugar, 1916–1946,” is a new special exhibit, now open at The Hershey Story Museum, that tells the story of Mr. Hershey’s grand Cuban venture in sugar manufacturing, the model industrial town he created there and the admiration Mr. Hershey had for Cuba—and its people had for him, even decades after his death.

“Milton Hershey’s Cuban business venture in sugar manufacturing resulted in steady jobs, comfortable homes and modern conveniences for a large part of the Cuban community,” said Valerie Seiber, collections manager. “This exhibit takes a closer look at both the economic and personal impacts Mr. Hershey had on Cuba and its people.”

Visitors to the new special exhibit will be virtually transported to a tropical Hershey, Cuba, circa 1940, 14 years after Mr. Hershey created the town. Through artifacts, and vintage film and photos of Hershey, Cuba, visitors will discover how the town was different from other Cuban communities. They’ll learn about Mr. Hershey’s Cuban sugar enterprise and how sugarcane was grown, harvested, milled and turned into both raw and refined sugar. Families will enjoy trying out the interactive displays, which simulate phases of sugar manufacturing—from “cane to crystal. Kids will be able to:

  • Operate a filtration system,
  • Spin a centrifugal machine,
  • Place sugar samples under a video microscope, allowing children to marvel at various types of sugar crystal structures on a high-definition screen, and
  • Create their own model town using colorful building blocks.

Much like Hershey, Pennsylvania, the town of Hershey, Cuba consisted of a hotel, botanical garden, general store, sports club and employee housing, none of which existed prior to Milton Hershey’s arrival. In nearby Rosario, Mr. Hershey established a school for orphaned boys.

Milton Hershey’s influence on the island was so significant that he was awarded the “Grand Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” by Cuba’s president in 1933. It was the highest honor Cuba could bestow upon a foreigner. Visitors will see the medal, sugar processing tools and equipment and Hershey’s sugar bags. Other artifacts include one of Mr. Hershey’s Cuban cigars, and his golf clubs. A uniform from the Hershey Sport Club baseball team also will be on display. The sport was popular in Cuba and Milton Hershey supported it by creating a baseball diamond for his employees.

Entry into the exhibit is included with admission to the Museum Experience.

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  • Published in Cuba

Desaparecido scandal a setback for Macri as Argentina votes

The killing of the indigenous liberation solidarity activist Santiago Maldonado comes at an extremely inopportune time for Argentine President Mauricio Macri. 

Maldonado had been missing for over two months when his body was found last week. And many Argentines believe that the activist  was disappeared by the military. In Argentina, the term "desaparecido" conjures up memories of the people who were abducted and killed by regime henchmen during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. The fate of many of the people who were disappeared remains unresolved.

Fifty-five coroners are examining Maldonado's corpse under the close scrutiny of about 30 observers and journalists. The death is potentially so politically damaging that not even a sliver of doubt about the results of the autopsy can be allowed.

Many Argentines are upset that Macri rejected the UN's offer of additional forensics experts to assist with the autopsy. Maldonado's family also lashed out at Macri when the president called the victim's mother to express his condolences. The activist's brother called the sympathy expressed by Macri "hypocritical" and the president's entourage "shameless." What angered him most was that the telephone call came shortly before Argentines were set to go to the polls to elect candidates to a third of the seats in both chambers of the legislature.

Photo of missing activist Santiago Maldonado surrounded by candles

"Santiago, your solidarity has made you the son of all," this message says

Reform and renewal

The image that Macri has attempted to build as a vigorous reformer has taken a serious hit with the discovery of Maldonado's body — and just as the president had hoped to increase the number of seats held by his right-wing Cambiemos party (Let's Change) on Sunday.

When he was narrowly elected in a runoff two years ago, Argentines expected Macri to reimpose ethics in national politics and put an end to corruption and politicians' evading of accountability for their offenses.

Macri's immediate predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, saw a number of scandals during her time in office from 2007 to 2015. She now has immunity from prosecution, and preliminary polls more or less guaranteed her a place in the Senate after Sunday's vote.

Demonstration in Buenos Aires against Macri

Macri's economic policies have triggered many protests

The president, too, has faced allegations of impropriety. When the Panama Papers were published last year, they revealed that Macri had remained active in finance during his time as mayor of Buenos Aires from 2007 to 2015. The documents showed that Macri, the son of one of Argentina's richest businessmen and himself a financial analyst, had acted as the director of two private companies — a fact that he had chose not to mention when he took office.

The numbers game

As president and staunch free-marketeer, Macri has continued to focus on finance. In less than two years in office, he has freed up the exchange rate of the peso and gradually relaxed trade restrictions.

Inflation is one of the financial factors that has so far proved beyond Macri's control. This year, it could reach over 25 percent. It is predicted to be about 18 percent next year.

Incomes have lost their real value. Macri has thus raised the ire of many less-wealthy Argentine, as well as labor unions. He has promised an economic boom that will cause incomes to rise.


But, according to surveys, Argentines feel that Macri is capable of getting a grip on rising prices in the long term: Cambiemos is expected to emerge from the current elections as the most powerful force in parliament.

  • Published in World

Eurasian council plans joint projects with Cuba and Thailand

The collegium of the Eurasian Economic Commission has approved signing of the memorandum on cooperation between the commission and the Governments of Cuba and Thailand, reports EEC.
The economic cooperation of EEU with Cuba and Thailand is developing in fast pace.

"In the first half 2017 the trade turnover of EEU with Thailand has increased by 34% in comparison to the same period last year and amounted to $1.19 bn. Export volume from the states of the union to Cuba in the first half 2017 increased by 70% in comparison to the same period last year and exceeded $190 mln," the message reports.

"The parties are performing the projects in industrial cooperation, supplies of mechanical engineering equipment. The agreement will provide system exchange with information about the rules and norms of technical regulation, veterinary and phyto-sanitary control, customs administration and other requirements of business activity in EEU," said the message.

"The parties will focus on interaction in the field of advanced technologies, protection of intellectual property rights, formation of stimulus for performance of joint projects in such fields as transport, energy, industrial and agricultural production," reads the message.

  • Published in Cuba

Cruise line to offer trips to Cuba from Port Canaveral

Central Floridians will be able to take a cruise ship to Cuba from Port Canaveral for the first time.

The four-night trips to Cuba will be on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Norwegian is one of the cruise lines that regularly serves Port Canaveral, at one of the several cruise terminals.

The cruise line has been looking at ways to serve Cuba ever since President Barack Obama lifted a travel and trade ban to the island a year and a half ago.

A few other cruise lines are offering Cuba cruises, but none of them from Port Canaveral.

Norwegian will home port a ship, the Norwegian Sun, for the sole purpose of making the trips to Cuba every Monday.

The cruises will include an overnight stay in Havana.

President Donald Trump’s recent changes to the travel rules are not expected to affect cruises.

The new trips to Cuba will begin in May of next year.

  • Published in Cuba
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