Cuban Government Seeks Meat And Dairy In Paraguay / 14ymedio, EFE

Milk factory in Cuba. (14ymedio)
Milk factory in Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio/EFE, Paraguay, 29 July 2016 – Cuban technicians will travel to Paraguay in August to study the possibilities of importing food products to the island, especially meat, dairy and soy, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Paraguay (MIC).

The delegation plans to visit two dairy plants and several refrigeration companies, where they will verify the processing of beef, pork and poultry meat.

The visit was announced by Cuba’s ambassador in Paraguay, Sidenio Acosta, who met Wednesday in Asuncion with Minister of Industry and Trade, Gustavo Leite.

At the meeting it was explained that Cuba is interested in Paraguayan cattle genetics and embryos and has already approved the authorization for the importation of soybeans, corn, wheat, rice and oil, according to a MIC.

The Cuban government also extended an invitation to Paraguayan companies to participate in future editions of multisector fairs held on the island.

Leite met last year with Vice Minister of Commerce Oscar Stark to initiate efforts to increase trade with Cuba.

According to official figures, Cuba imports products worth seven billion a year, most of which is food.

Despite the relaxations carried out by Cuban President Raul Castro since he took office in February 2008, livestock production continues to be tightly centralized on the island. In 2011, in an interview with the official weekly Workers, Omelio Borroto, director of the Institute of Animal Science (ICA), said it was “fundamental to decentralize producers and businesses” to achieve an increase in milk production.

However, four years later, at the end of 2015, the numbers pointed to a decrease in the production of cow’s milk. The numbers fell from 579 to 479.5 million liters of milk produced in the country and experts agree that the current year will show still more alarming figures due to, among other factors, the drought.

This April there was a reduction in the price of powdered milk in the hard currency stores across the island. The price of a 500-gram bag went from 2.90 to 2.80 CUC and for a one kilogram bag the price was lowered from 5.75 CUC to 5.50 CUC. This benefit has been criticized by consumers who don’t consider it significant, and has also contributed to the shortage of powdered milk on store shelves.

In the past, Cuba has imported milk from as far away as New Zealand. This situation led to Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez and Cuban president Raúl

Castro to commit in 2015 to studying the installation in Uruguay of a production plant for milk powder whose output would be destined for the island.

Pope Francis Asks Young Cubans “Don’t Be Afraid” / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

"Open up to big things. Do not be afraid," Pope Francis told young Cubans in a message released Thursday. (14ymedio)
“Open up to big things. Do not be afraid,” Pope Francis told young Cubans in a message released Thursday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 29 July 2016 – A message from Pope Francis aimed at young Cubans raised spirits Thursday in celebrations that took place in Havana simultaneously with World Youth Day held in Krakow, Poland. “Young Cubans: open yourselves to great things! Do not be afraid!” the Bishop of Rome told them in a few words that were projected on a large screen in front of more than a thousand Catholics throughout the island.

Havana’s Cathedral Square, from early Thursday morning, displayed a panorama completely different from usual. Although there was no lack of tourists, performers and, of course, the police, there were around 1,300 young Catholics from all provinces who met “in sync with Krakow,” according to the organizers.

During the early afternoon, the delegations made their cultural and pastoral presentations. The Santiago delegation accompanied the chorus of the “first diocese in Havana bringing the message of Charity”with percussion instruments. Those from Camagüey presented a choreographed dance, while those from Bayamo, Pinar del Rio and participants from every corner of the island made an effort to leave their mark on the celebration.

Among the more than 60 young people from Camagüey who attended the meeting was Dariel Hernandez, coordinator of the youth ministry in that diocese. “We come having prepared for this event for almost a year to be in sync with what is happening right now in Poland with Pope Francis. We have raised money to cover the cost of these activities,” he explained to 14ymedio.

Melisa Boga, is a second year student of Foreign Languages at the University of Cienfuegos. “We are 84 from our province; I hope and desire to know the reality of the other young people who have come here,” she said.

Around 9:00 PM, a message to young Cubans sent by Pope Francis specifically for the occasion was broadcast, interrupted with cheers and shouts of approval.

Dariel Hernandez, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Camagüey. (14ymedio)
Dariel Hernandez, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Camagüey. (14ymedio)

The pontiff recalled the legacy of Father Felix Varela when he said, “You are the sweet hope of the nation.” And declared, “To be carriers of hope you need not to lose the ability to dream,” and said that someone who “doesn’t have the capacity to dream is already retired.”

“Young Cubans: open yourselves to great things! Do not be afraid!” continued Francis, while the crowd cheered and applauded. ” Dream that with you, the world can be different! Dream that Cuba, with you, can be different, and better every day. Do not give up!” he said.

“It is not necessary for us all to think in the same way. No, everyone has to join in the ‘social friendship,’ even with those who think in a different way. But we all have something in common: the wish to dream, and this love for the homeland,” said the Pope Francis. The Pope invited young Catholics to “to build bridges, to work together with the word, with the desire, with the heart.”

Message from Pope Francis to Young Cubans / 14ymedio

Celebrations this Thursday in Havana simultaneously with the World Youth Day held in Krakow, Poland. (14ymedio)
Celebrations this Thursday in Havana simultaneously with the World Youth Day held in Krakow, Poland. (14ymedio)

Note: The version below is the summary of the message released in English by the Vatican. 

With great hope I join with you in this moment, in which you are in harmony with the universal Church whose young heart is in Krakow. I trust that these days will be, for all, a special occasion to foster the culture of encounter, the culture of respect, the culture of understanding and of mutual forgiveness. This is about ‘making a ruckus’, about dreaming. And young people are supposed to ‘make a ruckus’!

I suggest that you live the experience of listening carefully to the Gospel and then bringing it alive in your own lives, in the lives of your family and friends. … When you pray the Via Crucis, remember that we cannot love God if we do not love our brothers. When you pass through the Holy Door, let yourself be infused with this love … and this way you will learn always to look upon others with mercy, closeness and tenderness, especially those who suffer and those who are in need of help.”

Stand before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; because in Him, and only in Him, will you find the strength to follow the most beautiful and constructive plan of our lives; because love is constructive, love destroys not even the enemy, love always builds up. And, when you are sent by the bishops as Witnesses of Mercy, remember that the Master’s most beautiful wish is that you will be afraid of nothing.

Boys and girls, do not be afraid of anything, be free of the bonds of this world and proclaim to all, to the elderly, the sorrowful, that the Church weeps with them, and that Jesus is able to give them new life, to revive them.”

Young Cubans: open yourselves to great things! Do not be afraid! … Dream that with you, the world can be different! Dream that Cuba, with you, can be different, and better every day. Do not give up! In this endeavor it is important that you open your heart and mind to the hope that Jesus gives. … And never forget that this hope is suffered; hope knows how to suffer to carry out a project, but likewise do not forget that it gives life, it is fruitful. And with this, hope will not be fruitless; rather, it will give life to others, it will create a homeland, a Church, it will do great things. …

Hope is instrumental in building ‘social friendship’, even though people may think differently. It is not necessary for us all to think in the same way … we must all join together in ‘social friendship’, even with those who think in a different way. But we all have something in common: the wish to dream, and this love for the homeland.

The important thing, regardless of whether we are the same or different, is to build this ‘social friendship’ with all; to build bridges, to work together. Build bridges!

Neither Brave Nor Intelligent, Much Less Fair / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

Arrest of a member of the Ladies in White in Havana. (EFE)
Arrest of a member of the Ladies in White in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 28 July 2016 — On numerous occasions I have had to listen to the stories of friends and colleagues who have been detained or have been interrogated by the State Security. “These people are unreal, they know everything. The day I went to see so-and-so, what I said to what’s-his-face, what time, and even that we had coffee and ate roast pork. They don’t miss a thing!”

I imagine that these people feel very impressed, because it is as if they were sitting with a fortuneteller who “divines” their past, present and can even predict their future. The difference is that the fortunetellers, or so they tell us, “have a gift,” while State Security has human and technical methods and a society completely organized to facilitate their work, such that their gifts are simply their ears and a crystal ball made of optical fiber.

How are they not going to know the exact locations of the moles on our bodies, if they can openly and brazenly invade all our privacy?

They don’t have to be super-gifted nor pass in some school to “discover” who we spend time with, what our plans are, what our means are, because in the vast majority of cases we don’t even hide these things. The reason? It is very simple, we are citizens who study in normal schools, lead normal lives, we are not trained and don’t even want to be in intelligence or counterintelligence, we speak naturally and openly about what we think and desire because we are not ashamed.

On the other side, we have something very different, military personnel, indoctrinated, with studies of all kinds, with specialized equipment, transportation, a made-to-measure judicial system, subordinated press and fearful people who offer them what they ask for to avoid becoming targets of their investigations.

Who could do a bad job with all this? The contrary would amaze me. That there would be something they don’t know.

However, to the extent that you interact with them, you realize that they have many gaps. For example, there is an important difference between what the bosses know and what they tell the field agents. There is the need for State Security to constantly convert the ordinary into the extraordinary. This is justified because each one of these agents has to constantly think they are “saving the country” and that “the people appreciate their heroism and bravery.” In the majority of cases, however, what they are doing is committing a common crime in the name of authority against natural persons unhappy with a bad government.

In this sense they are very exquisite in their internal language. There is nothing a seguroso – security agent – likes more than to be called a “combatant,” and it delights them even more when the designation “anonymous” is added, because this gives them the sensation of being a spy and makes them think they are smarter. Incidentally, before society they think they “run great risks…” OK, this is true in part, because on retirement the majority suffer back pain because they dedicated themselves to dragging people into patrol cars. Upon reflection, they should wear supportive belts to protect themselves in these dangerous maneuvers.

Surely, in times past and under other circumstances, there might have been some who did more serious things against real threats, I don’t deny it. But today. 99% of what these “combatants” “confront” are the natural rights of a people who want to peacefully change what does not work to move the country forward and above all to not continue to shipwreck it in every respect. “Confronting” this is neither brave, nor intelligent and much less just or admirable.

The work of those who have to protect the state in societies based on rights and fundamental freedoms is very different; in societies where the threats are of an extreme magnitude and it is not enough to demand an ID card so that people or companies “cooperate.”

Men and women who risk their lives and dedicate themselves to protecting their nations against the grave threats our civilization confronts will always be heroes and heroines worthy of every kind of recognition and the gratitude of their peoples. But if the terror they impose themselves in the service of a dictatorship tramples the lives of protestors to keep themselves in power at all costs, these combatants have made a mistake in the ethical and moral sense of their careers and their lives.

So they should not confuse their facile abuse with expertise or ability. Because this latter is an attribute of those who survive and express themselves, despite them.

Eduardo Mora, Another Mask Falls / 14ymedio, Claudia Collazo

Mara Gongora, Eduardo Mora and Yisel Filiu on the set of the program “Good Morning” in 2014. (Source: Facebook)
Mara Gongora, Eduardo Mora and Yisel Filiu on the set of the program “Good Morning” in 2014. (Source: Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Claudia Collazo, Havana, 28 July 2016 — Compelling, cheerful, with an exuberant vocabulary and a good presence, Eduardo Mora was until recently one of the main presenters on “Good Morning,” Cuba’s morning news show. Even the most boring slogans gained grace from his personal style.

Just over a month ago, in the hallways of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) everyone said, each in his own way, that he had defected, that he won’t return, that he stayed abroad. In May, Mora attended the Latin American Study Association (LASA) meeting in New York as a speaker, and at the end of the sessions asked his bosses in Information Systems to extend his absence for a few more weeks, but they refused. The presenter intended to take advantage of the trip to visit his brother in Miami and to give some talks so that he would be able to buy a house in Havana with the money raised. When he did not appear in Cuba by the required date, he was fired. Continue reading “Eduardo Mora, Another Mask Falls / 14ymedio, Claudia Collazo”

Cuban Civil Society, For The First Time Present In The Regional Internet Governance Forum / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

The Regional Latin American and Caribbean Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum, is a regional meeting prior to the upcoming global forum in Mexico. (Twitter)
The Regional Latin American and Caribbean Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum, is a regional meeting prior to the upcoming global forum in Mexico. (Twitter)

14ymedio biggerRegina Coyula, Havana, 26 July 2016 — ¿Gover… what? That reaction has become increasingly familiar in a conversation discussing internet governance. Although many users who take advantage of it aren’t aware, governance is a fundamental issue for everyone when we venture out onto the World Wide Web. That our family email travels equally with the statistics of scientific research, with an online purchase, or with a bank account statement, is thanks to governance.

Behind any familiar and easily remembered address is a long string of numbers without which the internet couldn’t function. Early developers realized that the ordinary user would be unable to recall those long strings of numbers and so created a protocol to tie them to a name. Name and number indissoluble leading us unmistakably to the desired destination. These technical protocols that make our lives easier, also have to do with governance. Continue reading “Cuban Civil Society, For The First Time Present In The Regional Internet Governance Forum / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

Affordable Vacations in Cuba / Iván García

Piscina-de-un-hotel-cuba-_ab-620x330
Photo: Lorenzo Crespo Silveira, Havana Times.

Ivan Garcia, 4 July 2016 — Mayara finished ninth grade with excellent grades and the next school term she will start high school. She is thinking about going to university and getting a degree in civil engineering or architecture.

Until then, she is spending her holidays scrubbing dishes, cleaning house and helping her mother wash fifteen pounds of dirty clothes twice a week.

“I feel very bad for my daughter but I don’t have money for her to go a discotheque or a party with her friends. I cannot even afford to send her on a trip to the beach with some neighbors who have rented a bus. She’ll have to settle once again for watching television and reading books. I make 380 pesos a month (about 17 dollars) as a receptionist and that isn’t even enough to feed ourselves adequately. And I can’t rely on her father. He’s always drunk and months will pass before he gives his daughter so much as a peso,” says Mayara’s mother. Continue reading “Affordable Vacations in Cuba / Iván García”

No Air Conditioning and Intrusive Music / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 26 July 2016 — As random comments from ordinary citizens on the streets suggest, we are going through a new Special Period, though the government repeatedly denies it in media statements, calling it “a difficult situation from which we will recover.”

For confirmation, one need only observe the bus stops crowded with people anxiously waiting for the next vehicle to take them to their jobs, the hospital or the beach. The lack of fuel and spare parts are the main causes of these “bottlenecks.” For this reason, many people feel forced to turn to boteros, or private taxis. Though expensive, they are a solution to the problems of urban mass transit, for which the government is responsible. Continue reading “No Air Conditioning and Intrusive Music / Rebeca Monzo”

Three Months Later, The Residents Of Havana Still Remember Obama / Iván García

Michelle Obama, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, pose together with a group of Cuban children after having planted two magnolia bushes, similar to the ones that bloom in the White House gardens, and after donating a wooden bench for the relaxation of visitors to the Rubén Martínez Villena library garden in Old Havana. Taken from Impacto New York. 
Michelle Obama, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, pose together with a group of Cuban children after having planted two magnolia bushes, similar to the ones that bloom in the White House gardens, and after donating a wooden bench for the relaxation of visitors to the Rubén Martínez Villena library garden in Old Havana. Taken from Impacto New York.

Iván García , 22 June 2016 — The park at Galiano and San Rafael is a beehive of activity. At one end, several teenagers play soccer, using a school desk as the goal, while 50 men and women are connecting to the Internet, sitting on wooden benches or the ground.

Conversations with relatives or friends mix together. Here the wifi is confined exclusively to talking with family through IMO or chatting on Facebook, the island’s new virtual drug. Continue reading “Three Months Later, The Residents Of Havana Still Remember Obama / Iván García”

The Erratic Corrections of Machado Ventura / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

The only “next” is the looming return of the economic difficulties. (14ymedio)
The only “next” is the looming return of the economic difficulties. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 July 2016 – Sporting a hat to protect himself from the rays of the sun, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura explained in his speech for the 26th of July that the changes introduced in the Cuban model “are aimed at consolidating our socialism, to make more prospero (prosperous) and sustainable.” The keynote speaker at an event this morning in Sancti Spiritus realized immediately that he had omitted the enclitic pronoun “it” next to the verb “to make” and corrected it but introduced a new error: “To make it more proximo (next) and sustainable.”

To the cheerful confusion of those who didn’t notice the initial grammatical slip, the vice president conveyed the impression that he hadn’t meant to say prosperous, but proximo (next). The correction thus became a political problem, because if there is something Cubans know it is that the promised socialism “without haste, but without pause” could be anything or have innumerable oddities, but in no way is it “next.” Continue reading “The Erratic Corrections of Machado Ventura / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Ramon Machado Evokes a 26th of July Marked By “Complex Circumstances” / 14ymedio

The vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. (Screenshot)
The vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. (Screenshot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 26 July 2016 – In a total break with the optimism that Cuban leaders usually squander on every 26th of July, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura addressed this Tuesday the “difficult circumstances” the island is currently experiencing. The vice president evoked, in addition, the problems derived from the international situation whose resolution is “outside the scope” of the government.

With the first light of dawn, lasting for barely an hour and ten minutes, Sancti Spiritus hosted the main event for the 63rd anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks. The event was punctuated by calls for efficiency and sacrifices, and continuous references to the “economic situation,” characterized by a lack of liquidity that has obliged the government to reduce the expectations for economic growth. Continue reading “Ramon Machado Evokes a 26th of July Marked By “Complex Circumstances” / 14ymedio”

ICHR Accepts Denunciation of #CUBA for Violation of Ángel Santiesteban’s Human Rights / Ángel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 30 March 2016 — The denunciation of the violation of Ángel Santiesteban’s human rights has been accepted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The organization has given the Castro dictatorship a three-month deadline to respond.

– The Editor

[A translation of the letter from the IACHR, addressed to Ángel Santiesteban’s editor, Elisa Tabakman, follows below.] Continue reading “ICHR Accepts Denunciation of #CUBA for Violation of Ángel Santiesteban’s Human Rights / Ángel Santiesteban”

Intense Rains Give Evidence of the "Wonder" of Havana / Iván García

Beneath the rain, Havana received the title of Wonder City of the Modern World. Photo by Elio Delgado Valdés, taken from Havana Times.
Beneath the rain, Havana received the title of Wonder City of the Modern World. Photo by Elio Delgado Valdés, taken from Havana Times.

Iván García, 9 June 2016 — Ask Luis Carlos Rodríguez, retired, his opinion about the designation of “Wonder City” based on an Internet survey conducted in the winter of 2014 by the Swiss foundation, “New 7 Wonders,” and you will hear a long list of complaints, sprinkled with insults, about the olive-green government that has governed the destiny of Cuba since January 1959.

The old man lives in a quarter where the wastewater runs through the cracked central corridor, a little more than half a kilometer from the area of colonial Havana, which wears makeup for the photos of dazzled tourists. Continue reading “Intense Rains Give Evidence of the "Wonder" of Havana / Iván García”

The 26th, Again / Fernando Dámaso

moncada
The Moncada Barracks attacked on 26 July 1953

Fernando Damaso, 25 July 2016 — Tomorrow, a new anniversary of the 26th of July–that failed insurrectional action of 1953–will be commemorated. This date, one of the principal ones of the Castro regime’s calendar, served as the title and standard for the political movement that emerged from the event. The province of Sancti Spíritus has been selected as the headquarters for the celebration–not for being the best choice, but rather for being the least bad one.

There will be “popular” gatherings, official festivities, cultural merrymaking, and even speeches with pretensions of historical authenticity. The script is repeated every year, varying only with regard to the secondary actors, being that the principals have remained in their roles for 58 years, despite the boredom they provoke among the spectators.

Throughout the course of a few days the inhabitants of Sancti Spíritus will enjoy abundant beer, one or another foodstuff, and much dance music, in addition to the traditional carnaval. Afterwards, all will return to the usual boring dailyness, with its meager wages, shortages, street violence, abuses, bureaucracy, and many other misfortunes–and the commemoration, as it does every year, will remain forgotten until the next one, if indeed it takes place, in a new chosen province.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Not In The Name Of Socialism. Another Sign Of Contempt For Cuban Workers / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, 25 July 2016 – Several news reports confirm that there is a contingent of Indian workers in Cuba… Yes, you read that right: workers from India, from the other side of the world, working on tourist projects for foreign companies. A French company brought them over here and is paying them first world salaries.

Can anyone in the State-Party-Government explain what is happening? Are there no Cuban workers to employ in these construction projects?

Is the state-run Construction and Specialized Installations Company (ECME), which builds and remodels hotels, luxury buildings for foreigners and hospitals, among other projects, which has seen the most brilliant contemporary Cuban engineering and architecture, unable to undertake this work? Continue reading “Not In The Name Of Socialism. Another Sign Of Contempt For Cuban Workers / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos”