Cubans Protest outside Ecuador’s Embassy in Havana / 14ymedio

Woman argues with uniformed Cuban agent in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in Havana

Woman argues with uniformed Cuban agent in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger[UPDATED] 14ymedio, Havana, 27 November 2015 — Hundreds of Cubans, on Friday, demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Quito’s decision to require visas from he island’s nationals as of Tuesday, December 1.

The embassy, ​​located in the Miramar neighborhood, is currently cordoned off by a strong police operation preventing anyone from approaching. The agents assert that “last night several people tried to sneak into the embassy,” although the majority of those congregating on the corners were talking about the unreliability of the official version.

Many people are also gathered in front of the offices of the airlines that fly to Ecuador, to demand or change tickets. At the office of Copa Airlines in Miramar, people continued to gather despite an employee advising them, an hour ago, that there are no more tickets for Ecuador until April Some have stayed, despite the warning, hoping to be refunded the price of their ticket.

Copa Airline offices at the Havana Trade Center in Miramar where customers gathered this Friday to request tickets prior to December 1 (14ymedio)

Copa Airline offices at the Havana Trade Center in Miramar where customers gathered this Friday to request tickets prior to December 1 (14ymedio)

The Ecuadorian consul in Cuba, Soraya Encalada, took to the streets with other diplomats to explain that her government’s position is not to “obstruct” travel, but to “prevent human trafficking,” according to the press agency EFE. The diplomat said that the decision to require visas from Cubans was a “temporary situation,” which required everyone interested in traveling to Ecuador to enter their data into the embassy’s website in a “simplified” procedure to speed up the paperwork.

For years, Cubans who want to reach the United States have flown to Ecuador because it did not require a visa. The migrants would then continue their journey through seven countries (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico), facing many difficulties and dangers on the way.

Tania Bruguera is With Cubans in Costa Rica / 14ymedio

Tania Bruguera, in Costa Rica, with Cubans stranded at the border. (Youtube / screenshot)

Tania Bruguera, in Costa Rica, with Cubans stranded at the border. (Youtube / screenshot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2015 — The artist Tania Bruguera heeded the call of some of the more than 3,000 Cuban migrants who have been stuck for more than ten days ago in the north of Costa Rica after the Government of Nicaragua prevented their continuing their journey to United States.

A group of migrants created a Facebook page called “Let the Cubans Pass” so that “the world will know their names, experiences and professions in order to contradict those who brand Cubans trying to reach the United States as criminals.”

“I want to show my solidarity by being there with them. I have no plan, I am not anybody who is going change any situation. But well, at least to be with them,” said Bruguera in an interview published by the Costa Rican online journal Socialism Today.

“A mechanism needs to be created for the people to hold the government accountable in a peaceful and legal way, without it being seen as a counterrevolutionary attitude” she stresses.

“I think the government is dedicated to lowering people’s hopes and what we are seeing today is that a year after [the restoration of relations with the US] people do not see a solution to their problems and prefer to sell their homes and leave their families and go to another country to seek their fortune rather than stay in Cuba to see what happens,” she says. “In Cuba there is no economic migration that is not political.”

Bruguera has also been affected by government limitations on movement when, between late December of 2014 and August of this year she was prevented from leaving Cuba. After being held on the island for eight months for organizing a performance in Revolution Square in Havana, the authorities finally returned her passport and she was able to take up a fellowship at Yale University.

The artist has worked previously on the subject of migrants, in particular when she founded the Immigrant Movement International, an art project conceived in 2006 and presented by Creative Time and the Queens Museum of Art. With this initiative she proposed to initiate a socio-political movement, so she spent a year working in the multicultural neighborhood of Corona, Queens in New York City.

The First Anniversary of a Truncated Hope / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 26 November 2015 — Some days from now it will be the first anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States, but the great expectations awoken by the desired event seem to have fallen into uncertainty and stagnation.

The vast majority of Cubans believed they saw on this event the potential for great improvements in every sense, but disappointment soon invaded all of us on seeing that the island’s government had not taken a single measure to indicate good faith and the desire to realize the changes so greatly longed for.

The fact that they authorized travel for all Cubans and have streamlined the paperwork is nothing new, nor is the authorization to buy and sell homes and cars. These are not government handouts, but simply a restoring of citizens’ rights usurped 56 years ago by the regime itself.

Government immobility has led to a new stampede of Cubans abroad, using every kind of means to escape from a regime in which nobody believes or has any confidence.

Moreover, while thousands of compatriots abandon the country that is totally bankrupt, selling all their property and belongings in order to finance the path to a new dream, the influx of tourists to the island grows as never before, surprising given that the country does not have adequate infrastructure to receive them.

Shortages in the markets and hard currency stores, the sporadic disappearance of basic goods like mineral water, soft drinks and beer, the bad state of the streets and highways, the unhealthy atmosphere in a city where garbage collection is inadequate, the outbreaks of dengue fever and cholera in the capital and other provinces, make me question what motivates this great arrival of foreigners, among whom we find stars of the screen, the stage and music.

Could it be they want to visit this great Caribbean Jurassic Park before the oldest and sickest of its dinosaurs, still breathing, cease to exist? Only time will have the last word.

President Solis Assures Cubans Of Costa Rica’s Support To Reach US / EFE – 14ymedio

The president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis

The president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis

14ymedio biggerEFE (published in 14ymedio), San Jose, Costa Rica, 26 November 2015 — The president Luis Guillermo Solis of Costa Rica, on Wednesday, guaranteed the thousands of Cuban migrants who have been stranded in his country since 14 November that his government will make every effort to help them reach the United States, their final destination. “We will do whatever is necessary for you people to get to your destination and while you are here to live with dignity,” said the president at a press conference in San Jose.

Solis said that, following Nicaragua’s opposition to allowing the islanders to pass through that country, Costa Rica is making bilateral contacts with other countries involved in the migratory path of these people, to find a solution.

The solution is to “establish routes that allow them to continue their journey. The conditions, time and number are details that we are refining, but in this situation it is clear that we will not have the cooperation of Nicaragua and therefore we must take other measures under consideration.”

President Solis said that Costa Rica will not abandon the Cuban immigrants, but warned that their trip to the United States will be a process that will take time.

“In Costa Rica we will facilitate their travel and this entails a great effort not only to conclude the final negotiations with each country, many of whom will announce measures in the coming days, but also to guarantee, as long as they are in our territory, that they are living in adequate conditions,” he said.

Solis’s involvement in the case of Cuban migrants even led to an exchange views with the Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez through the artist’s blog. The Costa Rican president left a comment on a post in which the singer demanded solutions for the migrants and criticized Solis for advocating a humanitarian corridor to the United States only for the Cubans and not for other Latin American, knowing that “there is a special law that favors the arrival of our people with dry feet.”

Solis Rodriguez said that it is most urgent is to find solutions for those at the border who are not at fault. The president also added that Nicaragua and Costa Rica would be wrong to “insinuate the situation of the migrants into geopolitics.”

Costa Rican Minister of Communications Mauricio Herrera Ulloa also responded to the musician, saying that his government’s request is “more than politics, it is humanitarian.”

The troubadour thanked the minister for his comments and acknowledged having written his post without all the information and out of concern for his compatriots. But then, Rodriguez added: “In addition to the best intentions of the Government in which you are a minister, there is constant propaganda against my country.”

Meeting in El Salvador on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the countries of Central America, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia sought a solution to the current crisis and also a long-term solution to Cuban emigration.

However, Nicaragua was adamant in not allowing the entry of Cubans to its territory, and accused Costa Rica of causing a humanitarian crisis by “ignoring the responsibility of the United States in the issue of illegal migration” and demanded that the immigrants be withdrawn from the border area.

As of 14 November, Costa Rica has granted temporary transit visas to 3,600 Cubans who arrived at its border with Panama, and has set up 12 shelters to provide humanitarian aid in communities near the border with Nicaragua.

President Solis also said that resolving the crisis will require “slowing down” the flow of Cubans into Costa Rica from Panama.

On Tuesday the Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez accused Nicaragua of being “intransigent” and acting in “bad faith” in this matter and said the region intends to find a solution.

The immigrants left Cuba legally by air and flew to Ecuador, which does not require them to have a visa, and from there they traveled “irregularly” through Colombia and Panama to Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican government has attributed this migratory wave to the dismantling of a human trafficking network and the rumor on the island that the United States is going to repeal its immigration laws that favor Cubans.

Ecuador Will Require Visas From Cubans as of December 1st / 14ymedio

Cuban migrants at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua under the watchful eye of the Costa Rican police.(Natasha Cambronero / La Nación)

Cuban migrants at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua under the watchful eye of the Costa Rican police.(Natasha Cambronero / La Nación)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2015 — Ecuador will require visas from Cuban citizens seeking to enter the country as of December 1, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Xavier Lasso speaking at a press conference.

This exception in the Ecuadorian immigration law is intended to discourage the Cuban migration, which has surged in recent months and has caused a crisis on the borders of Central America. “Our commitment is to human beings, to stop this migration trend is that puts men, women and children at risk,” said Lasso. “We are trying to control this type of migration, which is very risky.”

On the northern border of Costa Rica it is estimated that some 4,000 Cubans are stranded, waiting to cross the border.

The decision of Ecuador’s government comes less than a week after Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez visited Ecuador and Nicaragua to address precisely this issue.

As of November 14, Costa Rica has granted temporary transit visas to 3,600 Cubans who arrived at its border with Panama, and has set up 12 shelters to provide them with humanitarian aid.

Given the ease of emigrating to Ecuador, thousands of Cubans have traveled to that South American country in recent years. Most of them start from there on a long migratory journey of about 4,800 miles overland to reach the United States.

Ecuador’s deputy foreign minister said: “We are not closing the door to Cuba” but said his country “is committed,” along with the Latin American community, to avoiding this migratory flow.

A Night in Paso Canoas on the Border with Panama / Ivan Garcia

Cubans at the Panama/Costa Rica border

Ivan Garcia, Costa Rica, 25 November 2015 — When Alex Sigler, 22, landed in the Quito airport in an African heat with thunderclouds that presaged a tropical shower this past November 11, he began his own journey to achieve the American dream.

In five days of passing through the Colombian jungle, Alex encountered hitmen of few words and with twitchy trigger fingers.

“The police, who supposedly are there to preserve citizen order, are the first to rob us. Almost all Cubans have been fleeced at Colombian checkpoints. The coyotes are frightening. They traffic cocaine the same as people. They talk about their criminal exploits like a group of friends in the neighborhood commenting on football and a penalty,” explains Alex, lying on top of some tattered cardboard in an inter-provincial bus terminal in the Costa Rican town of Paso Canoas, a stone’s throw from the border with Panama.

On the platform about 30 Cubans are sleeping, having been robbed or conned by drug traffickers in Colombia. They have lost everything.

They find themselves without money, waiting for some relative or friend in Miami to urgently spin a few hundred dollars their way so they can pay for the rest of the crossing, if the authorities in Nicaragua will finally let them pass through their territory.

They burned all their bridges. On the Island, they sold everything. Or almost everything. The hazardous journey through eight countries to reach the U.S. is much harder than they thought.

But they’re not sorry. “I was already worn out. In Cuba we’re just a number. People count only for voting in the elections or supporting the Government. Maybe things will be bad for me in la Yuma (the US), but at least I’ll be a free man,” says Alex, who in Caibarién, some 350 kilometers east of Havana, left his wife and a four-month-old daughter.

The village of Paso Canoas is a township of one-story houses and ambulatory stalls where they sell every possible commodity. At night it’s deserted. The more than 300 Cubans who arrive in unstoppable dribbles from Panama have several options at hand for lodging. Those who arrive without a cent sleep in the old Canoas bus terminal.

Others pay five dollars a night, the lowest price for lodging, in a sweltering hostel without windows that is run by Pepe Restoi, a Catalán, who says with two raised hands that he is voting for Catalán independence.

“Man, it’s not that I’m uncaring; obviously I’m aware of the drama of the Cuban emigrants. But I’m a businessman. In Paso Canoas, between hotels and guest houses, there are about twenty. What you have to do is keep your property occupied,” says Restoi in the door of the El Azteca pension.

It would be very pretentious to call “hotels” a chain of houses adapted for guests or enlarged to be rented to the more than 3,125 Cubans who, since November 15, have walked through Paso Canoas.

Prices are expensive for a segment of terrestrial balseros (rafters) who, in tune with the closing of the Nicaraguan border, have to dig out bills and scratch their heads to stretch their money after having spent between three and four thousand dollars on their trip through Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.

“You have to be very farsighted with your money. You have to hide it in unsuspected places so that the Colombian hitmen don’t fleece you. You still have to cross four countries before reaching the U.S., and the dough is going to run out,” says Alfredo Ávila, 28, an electrical engineer who lives in the eastern province of Holguín.

Among the island emigrants there are different hierarchies. Those of extreme poverty are the ones who spend the night on the unpolished cement floor in the bus terminal and, for lack of a bathroom, urinate in a garbage dump site.

“This is hard. The majority eat only once a day. They only have their clothing left from their baggage. On the road, to lighten up, they left their belongings or sold them to be able to eat,” indicates Alex.

Gabriel, a young man who recently left military service in Cuba, says that while crossing Colombia a compatriot had to improvise a fishing rod to be able to eat.

The emigrants who have a more substantial economy spend the night in third- or fourth-class hotels, which in Costa Rica rent at first-class prices. The El Descanso hostel doesn’t calculate how many it’s received. A large grocery store is sometimes a restaurant, a bar and, occasionally, the Cubans who wait to cross the border drink beer without too much moderation.

One night, in a monumentally drunken episode in the swimming pool, some Costa Rican guests were wounded.

“They had to call the police. Many Cubans behaved inappropriately. Particularly those from Havana, who believe they deserve everything. They steal the towels, destroy the electrical outlets and are always complaining, even though the hotel management decided to reduce the tariff for them to nine dollars a night,” says Rey Guzmán, the manager of the El Descanso.

The lack of money has caused several girls to prostitute themselves or ask for money from the ticos (Costa Ricans). “In the Peñas Blancas encampment, two or three girls offered me sex in exchange for 20 dollars. Another asked me for two dollars to buy cigarettes,” says Jorge, a Costa Rican taxi driver.

Past midnight, Yadira, a willowy morena (brown-skinned woman) of 22 years, a native of Las Tunas, some 600 kilometers from the capital, was dancing a Dominican merengue surrounded by a chorus of drunken men who were whistling at her.

“She’s happy. If she’s looking for a man to save her (offer her money) she’ll do well. All the Cubans who are here have had trouble crossing, but for women it’s been worse. I have a friend who was raped seven times in Colombia,” says Magda, a blond who, in Cuba, owned a small manicure business.

Among the wandering emigrants from the Island there are those with sufficient money to stay in the best hotel in Paso Canoas, a two-floor building, painted an ivory color, that rents for 50 dollars a night.

Where are some Cubans getting so much money that they can pay between 10 and 12 thousand dollars in a country with an average salary of 23 dollars/month? I asked the engineer, Alfredo, at the entrance of the El Azteca pension.

“Many sold their car, their house or gold. Others earned money thanks to private business. Or they receive enough money from their relatives in the U.S. But most travel with their own money, which a family member abroad sends them, little by little, after a reunion, so they can come. It’s not recommended to travel with so much cash,” he answers.

Gabriel made an agreement with a sister who lives in Miami. “She offered me a loan and when I get to the U.S. I will pay her back,” he confesses, worried. He has spent the three thousand dollars and is still stranded in Paso Canoas.

Even far from Cuba, not a few emigrants are panicked at the thought of talking before the cameras or answering questions from journalists. “If I talk more, in case they send me back, I wouldn’t even be able to belong to the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution),” says a shirtless young man in the bus terminal.

On the contrary, a black man with a rugged complexion unloads his frustration, blaming the government of the Castros. “It’s their fault that people have to leave their country. Not even dead will I return.”

That’s the perception of the Cubans stranded in Puerto Canoas. There’s no way back.

Iván García, from Costa Rica

Translated by Regina Anavy

A New Campaign For Marriage Equality Announced / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma

LGBTI Pride march in the Paseo del Prado in Havana in 2011 (Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo)

LGBTI Pride march in the Paseo del Prado in Havana in 2011 (Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 25 November 2015 — After forty years together, Roberto’s partner died this year from a respiratory condition, but he will not collect a penny of the widow’s pension because in Cuba same-sex unions are not legally recognized or protected. Situations like this are in the sights of several independent organizations that demand rights for the LGBTI community, and that have just launched a campaign for marriage equality.

“We also love,” is the slogan under which different civil society groups will demand a legal framework that allows unions between people of the same sex, and equality of rights between homosexuals and heterosexuals. The initiative was presented to the press this Tuesday and will go public on the first of December.

Among the groups involved in the project is Corriente Martiana (Current [José] Martí), which is working on this project in coordination with the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, led by Nelson Gandulla in Cienfuegos province, and which shares the lead in the new campaign with the Integration Project of the Gay Community in Cuba led by Navit Fernandez in Havana.

Other entities not directly related to the LGTBI environment have begun to get involved in the project after being invited to show solidarity, such as the Candidates for Change project.

The organizers have developed several initiatives. including the presentation of a written request to the People’s Power delegates during weekly office hours they have with their constituents. Each of the activists should ask for a receipt that gives evidence of the request and that will accompany the collective petition that is finally delivered.

Moises Leonardo presents the campaign for marriage equality

Moises Leonardo presents the campaign for marriage equality in Cuba

The collective petition will be delivered to the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and the Cuban Parliament, Moises Leonardo, spokesperson for the Corriente Martiana, explained to 14ymedio.

“First we will present it in municipal assemblies, then in the provinces and finally to the National Assembly of People’s Power. We will seek the support of artists and personalities of our culture, as well as a number of independent civil society organizations that want to join us. The campaign starts the first of December and will last six months, but even when that date has passed it will be ongoing.”

This campaign seeks to protect a couple’s rights, such as inheritance or insurance payments with respect to accidents at work, as well as obtaining legal protection for the distribution of property in the case of a separation.

“The intention is to climb one more step in the defense of human rights for a sector of the population. Practice tells us that the LGBTI community is very united in defense of their rights, and that encourages us a lot,” added Leonardo.

The Exodus Is Due To The Lack Of Freedom / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

The Red Cross helps Cubans stuck at the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border since last weekend. (La Nación)

The Red Cross helps Cubans stuck at the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border since last weekend. (La Nación)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 25 November 2015 — The current immigration crisis created by the presence of thousands of Cubans in Central America in transit to the United States has put the issue of human rights in Cuba back in the international arena, in particular the civil, political, social and economic rights of Cubans.

The government of General Raul Castro and a part of the international press emphasize the idea that it is a legal issue, related to the Cuban Adjustment Act. The Cuban government also links it to the maintenance of the blockade-embargo, which analysts say is an attempt to pressure the US government to repeal both laws. Continue reading

‘La Joven Cuba’ Blog Questions Official Position on the Cuban Adjustment Act / 14ymedio

Cuban rafters

“Cubans who reach the United States without the Adjustment act will have to submit to the exploitation that other illegal immigrants are subjected to,” says the blog: La Joven Cuba

14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2015 – In an unusual gesture of criticism toward an official position, the blog “La Joven Cuba” (Young Cuba) published a post on Tuesday that challenges the Cuban government’s approach to the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The site, run by graduates of the University of Matanzas, stresses “the need to of more than a few fellow countrymen to emigrate,” and defends the thesis that Cubans who want to reside in another country will do so regardless of whether conditions are better or worse. The article, signed by Roberto G. Peralo and titled “Eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act and What,” uses an example close to him as an illustration. Continue reading

Annoyances of the New Identity Card / 14ymedio, Sol Garcia Basulto

Identity card office in Camagüey. (14ymedio)

Identity card office in Camagüey. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Sol Garcia Basulto Camagüey, 25 November 2015 – One year since the start of the issuing new identity cars in Cuba, many recognize the advantages of the modern ID card, but criticize the complex process to get one. In Camagüey province the manufacture and distribution of the new identify card started last May, but delays in delivering them and long lines continue to characterize their arrival in this region.

To learn about the details of the process, 14ymedio approached the ID card office this Tuesday, where people interested in applying for the new polycarbonate card had gathered since the early morning hours. The applicant must bring one or several stamp/seals with a total value of 25 Cuban pesos. Fingerprints are taken on the premises and the applicant is photographed. Continue reading

Impromptu Meeting Between Raul Castro and International Red Cross / 14ymedio

The president of the International Committee of Red Cross, Peter Maurer, and Cuban President Raul Castro. (JPSchaererICRC)

The president of the International Committee of Red Cross, Peter Maurer, and Cuban President Raul Castro. (JPSchaererICRC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2015 – An impromptu meeting this Wednesday between Cuban President Raul Castro and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, suggests that the issue of the almost 3,000 Cuban migrants stuck in Costa Rica is one of the objectives of Maurer’s visit, the first at this level in more than 40 years.

Officially, Maurer has been in Cuba since Monday on a trip seeking to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian issues. In the statement pervious to his arrival, his program included only interviews with Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, with the Chief of Staff of the Civil Defense, Major General Pardo Guerra, and with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Continue reading

Bucanero-Cristal Exploits Ties to Self-Employed and Palco and Habaguanex Executives / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 November 2015 — Just as the proceedings surpassed the scandalous total of 42 people indicted, the General Vice-Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba, Carlos Raúl Concepción Rangel, imposed a gag order on the case and hid it underneath the trite mantle of “secret character,” because — according to sources in the Prosecutor’s office — he’s expecting the number of those involved to increase.

The investigation filtered down, and some of the people implicated hardened themselves and beat it out of the country. Others are hiding out; there is a border alert for them, and an order of search and capture.

Before such an emergency, and even without finishing the trial, they’re taking the accused out of the investigation center at 100 and Aldabó — the women to the western prison, El Guatao (known as Manto Negro), the men to Valle Grande or the Combinado del Este. The VIP accomplices, owing to their natural status as first-class citizens, were sent home and asked to be “low profile” until their names could be pulled from the file or, at least, their complicity silenced in a case that could paint them as crooks. Continue reading

Is There a Cuban Style? / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 13 November 2015 — As I see it, it would be incorrect to claim there is a Cuban style. During the last fifty years Cuban men and women on the island have been dressing any way they can with whatever was sent to them by overseas relatives, by repurposing old clothes or, in recent years, with contributions by those who had the opportunity to travel and brought back clothing of low-quality for resale. Until now, the only major points of reference on which Cubans could rely for their so-called fashion sense have been popular video clips and TV soap operas, most of them Brazilian. Continue reading

Havana Graffiti Criticizes State Phone Company / 14ymedio

Graffiti in Havana: “Super offer? If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat them in 1 hour. Loosen up Cubacel!” (14ymedio)

Graffiti in Havana: “Super offer? If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat them in 1 hour. Loosen up Cubacel!” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 25 November 2015 – Criticisms of the management of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) have reached the walls of Havana. A nice graffiti criticizes the conditions attached to the latest international recharge promotions for cellphone customers. The drawing mocks the requirement that consumers use their balance in a short period of time.

“If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat it in 1 hour,” muses a pensive chimpanzee painted on several walls in the capital. The complaint ends with a “Loosen up, Cubacel!” demanding that the cellphone network give better terms for its recharge offerings.

Between the 16th and 20th of November, the company launched an international promotion under the slogan: “A bonus on your recharge with 30 or 60.” Each prepaid customer whose phone was recharged from abroad (presumably on-line by family or friends) for 20 or 30 CUC during that period, received an additional bonus of 30 or 60 CUC respectively. However, the user had to use the balance before December 20th of this year.

Some customers of the prepaid service have considered the requirement an exorbitant condition and are demanding that the credits earned during a promotion should not expire over time.

Teenage Gangs Assault And Rob Residents Of Havana Neighborhoods / Diario de Cuba, Jorge Enrique Rodriguez

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Jorge Enrique Rodriguez, Havana, 24 November 2015 — Two teenage gangs disturb the public peace on the streets of the Havana municipality of Cerro, while the police remain passive. Known as Los Apululus and Los Atormentados, both gangs engage in physical aggression against the elderly, assault and robbery on public streets.

The slums of El Canal, Las Cañas, Carragüao, Pilar and Atarés are among the hardest hit. The victims are stripped of their belongings, especially cell phones, accessories, money and clothing.

For the psychologist Leticia Collado, a resident of Las Canas, “these behaviors are the result of the fracture of the family and the crisis of the ideological education structure, which shows little interest in cultivating civility and socio-cultural principles in children and adolescents. Continue reading