Cuba’s Economic Crisis Leads to Fewer Police Patrols

The tricycle served as a police “patrol car,” with its luminous turret and its white and blue colors.

A Rali brand tricycle slowly makes its way along Infanta Street in Central Havana / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 May 2024 — “Just one kick and you can knock them over” observe two handsome young men at a bus stop on Thursday. They are talking about a Rali brand tricycle that is slowly making its way along Infanta Street in Central Havana. What is striking in this case is that the tiny vehicle is operating as a police patrol car, outfitted with the customary blue turret-shaped lights on top.

A woman selling cigars at a nearby covered walkway joins in, joking, “Now even the cop cars can’t get fuel. Next thing you know, they’ll be using chivichanas* to get around.”

“Have you noticed, there’s no gasoline and no electricity for anyone except the police?”

If Cubans thought the previous vehicles looked like aspirin tablets, this new version more closely resembles half a pill, or maybe just a quarter of one. A prescription to treat the growing sense insecurity locals feel on the island’s city streets.

Awhile back, local police officers were issued electric scooters, which they used to patrol the Malecón and nearby streets such as San Lázaro and Carlos III. But no one paid them any notice until these unusual tricycles suddenly appeared.

“Do you realize there’s no gasoline and no electricity for anyone except the police,”observes the same vendor.

*Translator’s note: A chivichana — a kind of skateboard — is a wooden board mounted on four wheels, with an operable front axle, used by children to slide down hilly streets.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Traffickers, Prostitutes and ‘Yarinis’ of Holguín, Cuba, Have Their Base of Operations in La Marqueta

 In the so-called “market alley” there are, from Mártires to Gómez, Rhino’s Bar, Benjuly, Gato Negro and Destellos Café, all private

Drinking something in the bars of La Marqueta is a kind of rite of passage or “password” to close the deal / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miguel García, Holguín, May 18, 2024 — Mártires Street and three avenues named after heroes – Martí, Máximo Gómez and Luz y Caballero – frame the brand new red light district of Holguín, Cuba: Plaza de la Marqueta. In the old colonial market, restored several years ago, coming together are the prostitutes, their clients, local millionaires, scammers of various kinds and several yarinis* — named in honor of the mythical Havana pimp — who do not lose sight of their employees.

A decade ago, the tenants of the square – the center of Holguín life in Republican times – were very different. “Beggars who urinated and defecated,” recalls Heriberto, an employee in one of the bars that Marqueta enjoys today, taking advantage of the abandonment and ruin. The change from a homeless shelter to a brothel does not seem to have been too radical, he believes.

In the past there were shops, inns, butcher shops and fishmongers in La Marqueta. Now, however, the cartography of the square is made up almost exclusively of “upscale” bars and restaurants, at whose tables no one sits without knowing what’s happening. “They,” says Heriberto, referring to the prostitutes – who “are always groomed and well dressed” – “make their clients sit in a bar and consume.”

The cartography of the square is made up almost exclusively of “upscale” bars and restaurants

The price, depending on the services requested by the client, ranges between 3,000 and 5,000 pesos. Having a drink at the bar, explains Heriberto, is a kind of rite of passage or “password” to close the deal. “I don’t know if the owners of the establishments have any business with the yarinis, but that’s always the case,” he adds. continue reading

The Police know it, of course. From the red light districts of Havana – the same ones that made Alberto Yarini famous — his wars with rival pimps cost him his life in 1912 – to those of Santiago or Camagüey, passing through the nooks and crannies of El Condado Santa Clara, the Police always know and don’t get involved. “It’s a complicated territory,” says Heriberto, and not only because everything happens in bright sunlight and in a busy place, but because prostitution is just the tip of the crime iceberg.

Marijuana growers and their traffickers also visit La Marqueta, each with their own well-defined signs and rates; the cardholders, who know the techniques to steal currency from the MLC (freely convertible currency) cards of absent-minded or drunk clients; businessmen who prefer to discuss their sales with a beer in hand; and, from time to time, a train of tourists, who approach the chairs and bars without the slightest suspicion of what is taking place there.

Everything happens in bright sunlight and in a crowded place. Prostitution is just the tip of the crime iceberg / 14ymedio

Drinks and a Cuban version of tapas, that is the food available at the “little tables” of La Marqueta. In the so-called “market alley” – the backbone of the square – from Mártires to Gómez, there are Rhino’s Bar, Benjuly, Gato Negro and Destellos Café. They are all, says Heriberto, managed by private parties.

Each one has a group of burly guards, who take turns guarding the area around the square. Security is essential, as several businesses in Havana have demonstrated, exposed not only to problematic customers but also to “ninja” children, who steal to survive. Sometimes business gets out of control and a fight breaks out. “There haven’t been many fights, but what there was was loud and the ’boys’ had to intervene,” says Heriberto. Bosses do not like to be caught off guard by conflict and that is why they have constant surveillance. “Some have up to five guards working,” he says.

About the owner of Benjuly, Julio César Paredes – a “young and enterprising owner,” according to his website – there is a rumor: his alleged friendship with Lis Cuesta, wife of Miguel Díaz-Canel, who is attributed to being a “godmother,” or owner of the bar. This protection is what keeps its operation free of obstacles, assumes Heriberto, who assures that the same protection as above exists at the Bodegón Holguín, a business located on the Central Highway.

What started here has already spread to other areas, such as Pueblo Nuevo, and cases of drug sales have been detected

What started here has already spread to other areas, such as Pueblo Nuevo, and cases of drug sales and “strange” businesses have been detected in two high schools: Alberto Sosa and José Miró Argenter. But the center of the hurricane remains the square.

When the sun goes down and the city streets are not so hot, the young people of Holguín also go to Marqueta. Dressed up and careful not to invade other people’s territory, the prostitutes take their seats. The yarini sip their drinks and the card holders go into action. Cornered and trying to be discreet, the addicts begin to light their cigarettes. “The only thing missing is for El Químico** — the chemical — to arrive,” laments Heriberto, alluding to the fashionable drug in Havana. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Translator’s notes: 
*Yarini: Alberto Yarini, Cuba’s most famous pimp, was murdered in 1910, and has featured in novels, films and song.
**El Químico: A very cheap drug, marijuana- or synthetic marijuana-based and laced with other substances. See here.
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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

A Few Lobsters and a Procession of ‘Yumas’ Come Together at Havana’s 19th and B Market

Misery is part of the tourist experience, although the travel agencies promote it as “cultural immersion,” and they are not wrong

A vendor offers, on a tray, three lobsters in the Havana market on 19th and B /14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 16 May 2024 — “Look what I brought,” says one seller to another, jokingly, this Tuesday at the Havana market at 19th and B, in El Vedado. In his hands he carries – a true extinct species from the Cuban table – three lobsters with fat tails, orange tails, like the rust of the tray that carries them.

As mythological as the lobster, whose capture this year is now prohibited until June, a group of young tourists – Canadians, Americans, English? – takes a tour of the market. Very white, blonde and with red cheeks, of that tone that the sun and the “historical proteins” put on the visitors’ faces, the kids take photos of everything they see.

Misery is part of their tourist experience, although travel agencies promote it as a “cultural immersion,” and they are not wrong. For telephones, modern and minimalist, dwarf onions, rancid chili peppers, outdated guavas and stinking meat, to which the butcher’s ancient fan does no favors, pose.

The kids look around restlessly and it seems to them that they are visiting a poor camp in Africa, a refuge after the war, an orphanage in Vietnam / 14ymedio

They also find the empty shelves, the hospital green walls, the heat of the tropics and the sweaty salespeople who approach them in search of purchases “in hard currency.” The kids look around restlessly and it continue reading

seems to them that they are visiting a poor camp in Africa, a refuge after the war, an orphanage in Vietnam. They prefer not to be touched and to everything – what they understand and what they don’t – they respond with a pitying smile.

Vendors and tourists do, however, have one thing in common. They recognize in the food market, contradictorily, the stench of hunger. Hot, they press their backpacks against their bodies and leave. For Cuban merchants, toasted and sticky, they leave only the desired and unmistakable “smell of yuma*.”

*Translator’s note: “Yuma,” previously used to refer to Americans, now applies to foreigners from any non-Spanish speaking country. ’La Yuma” refers to the United States.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Uruguay Will Regularize Thousands of Cubans With a Residency Program Based on Rootedness

Cuban migrants will have the ability to become legal citizens in Uruguay and obtain documentation

Two Cuban women show the refugee application documents processed in Uruguay / El País

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Montevideo, 17 May 2024 — The Residency by Rootedness program created by the Government of Uruguay will regularize the situation of some 20,000 migrants – the majority of whom were born in Cuba – who will be able to obtain residency.

This was explained this Thursday during a press conference by Uruguay’s Foreign Minister, Omar Paganini, who indicated that this mechanism will allow these people to abandon an irregular situation and have the possibility of becoming legal citizens and obtaining documentation.

“This allows us to resolve the issue of family reunification of these people, which is one of the very important issues from the point of view of their rights. So we believe that it is very good news for an important group in our country, that was waiting for procedures in the Refugee Commission, but that they were procedures that could not be favorable to the extent that they do not meet the conditions of political refuge,” he noted.

“This allows us to resolve the issue of family reunification of these people, which is one of the very important issues from the point of view of their rights

Paganini explained that this will solve the situation of some 20,000 people who need a visa to enter Uruguay and who did so without having one under the category of refugees. continue reading

“This above all has to do with people who request refuge because they do not have a visa and are not eligible for refuge. So basically we are talking about people of Cuban origin or from other countries for which a visa is required,” he said.

And he added: “They enter as refugees but they are not refugees and that is where this regulatory limbo is generated, which is what allows us to resolve the decree,” said the minister, who added that the majority of these are Cubans.

On the other hand, he explained that in order to process residency through rootedness, people must be working, housed or must have family in Uruguay.

Finally, the head of the portfolio stressed that this is a temporary solution for all the people who have already started the process, and that how the process continues and the steps to follow will then be evaluated.

“For now it is not a definitive solution, therefore it is not ‘come on, this works automatically’,” Paganini concluded.

Last April it emerged in the Uruguayan press that more than 7,000 Cubans who requested refuge in the country in 2023 remained “in limbo” because the system to address them is “suffocated,” according to the newspaper El Observador. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then said that the country ended that year with 24,193 accumulated applications.

“For now it is not a definitive solution, therefore it is not ‘come on, this works automatically’

The same newspaper reiterated that Uruguay had no intention “of deporting undocumented immigrants, much less accumulating irregular inhabitants,” with the consequent problems that would arise from this, so Montevideo was rushing to find a solution.

A year earlier, Alberto Gianotti, from the Migrant Support Network, had warned that between 9,000 and 10,000 Cuban nationals had to apply for a visa to maintain their legal status in the South American country.
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Since the president of the United States, Barack Obama, ended the wet foot/dry foot policy in that country in 2017, Cubans have found an alternative route in Uruguay, which begins in Guyana, the only South American country that does not require a visa. From there they make a journey through Brazil where they have to resort to coyotes until they reach Uruguay, where they ask for refuge.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The 122nd Anniversary of the Cuban Republic We Lost

Memories of the streets of Cuba in the 1950s / Nostalgia Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, May 26, 2024 — Cuba was not a paradise. It never was, but it was one of the countries with the best social and economic indexes in all of Latin America.

There were numerous problems, but more had been resolved than remained, although from my perspective, the military coup of March 10, 1952, which broke the constitutional rhythm, led to an imbalance that seriously affected the nation and facilitated the emergence of the totalitarianism in our country.

It is true that the 1940 Constitution had been reestablished in 1955. However, the political climate and coexistence were not the same again despite economic progress.

In the period prior to the triumph of the insurrection, the economic and social situation was in a clear process of improvement. So much so that Dr. Salvador Villa, in his book Cuba, Zenith and Eclipse, states: “many of us ourselves were unaware of the extent of the degree of development achieved compared to the rest of Latin America and the world and it is necessary to know and remember it,” with pride, to feel more Cuban. continue reading

We had broad economic freedoms and notable social mobility. Foreign investments were important and labor legislation was significantly positive, although it was not fully complied with.

The Constitution of 1940, a charter drawn up in a public assembly by all the country’s political forces, including the communists, established the division of public powers and their independence, along with social and economic prerogatives much more advanced than most other legislations of the hemisphere.

Minimum wages were set by joint commissions of employers and workers. It was prohibited to deduct workers’ wages or salaries; workers’ stipend had to be paid in money, not goods; social insurance was compulsry, including disability and old age; right to retirement was based on seniority and a pension was due until death; and Cuba was the first country in the world to grant this right to agricultural workers.

Eight-hour work days, six-hour for those between 14 and 18 years of age. Paid rest of one month for 11 months of work; protection for workers’ maternity, with forced rest and payment of wages to pregnant women six weeks before childbirth and six weeks after.

Freedom of unionization and membership; right to strike, collective labor contracting, mandatory for employers and workers. Labor immobility, obligation of the State to build cheap housing for workers and social assistance by the Ministry of Health.

Villa points out, with information gleaned from, among other sources, United Nations yearbooks, that the average salary of the Cuban agricultural worker was the seventh in the world and the second in America, and the industrial salary was the second on the continent.

We cannot affirm that these provisions in the national Constitution were fully complied with throughout the country, but they were in broad sectors of productive life.

Education was a constant concern of the Governments of the Republic. The Constitution established that it was mandatory until the sixth grade and free until the eighth. Vocational schools were free. Tuition at State universities was 50 pesos, with free registration included.

On the Island, private, religious or secular education could be provided, governed by the standards of Public Education. There were 10,600 primary educational centers in the country, of which 8,900 were public; There were 14 Normal Schools for teachers and the same number of Commerce Schools and 21 Secondary Education Institutes, not counting the private ones, in addition, schools of Journalism, Fine Arts, Agriculture and Technology.

In 1958, we had 12 universities, three of which were public, and all enjoyed full autonomy.

Unfortunately, only 77.9 percent of Cubans knew how to read and write. However, Cuba occupied the third position in literacy in Latin America, after Argentina and Uruguay.

Health was superior to other countries on our continent. Infant mortality was the lowest in all of Latin America, 37.6 per thousand, and general mortality was one of the lowest in the world, 5.8 per thousand inhabitants.

The economy showed signs of constant strength and growth, as evidenced by the national financial system, which was made up of specialized banks including, among others, the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, Foreign Trade, Economic and Social Development, the National Financial Institution and the Fund of Insured Mortgages.

I do not want to exhaust you with figures, but only these facts and the current devastation can testify to the Republic that we Cubans lost.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

What Didn’t Happen or Hasn’t Happened Yet in the Ten Years of ‘14ymedio’

As is known, the spontaneity of that feat, which was its great merit, was also its Achilles heel

The arrest of one of the protesters on July 11, 2021 in Havana / Marcos Évora

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 May 2024 — One way to evaluate the time that has passed is to inventory the achievements; another, to list the outstanding issues.

It is the responsibility of the press to point out faults, demand compliance with what was scheduled and also denounce the unfeasibility of what was promised.

These days, as our newspaper, 14ymedio, celebrates its first decade of existence, I have set myself the unpleasant task of relating everything that has not happened in Cuba yet. I’ve limited the list to ten, just to play with our birthday.

The salary that Cuba’s workers earn has failed to become the most important form of support for families.

The rationing system, instead of becoming a way to subsidize people, has extended its tentacles of control and limitations to other goods that were previously unrationed.

 The salary that Cuba’s workers earn has failed to become the most important form of support for families

The mythical little glass of milk, promised in 2007, not only remains out of reach of consumers, but has become even further removed, along with other products previously considered accessible and popular.

The promise of guaranteeing decent housing for families continues to be a populist formula that is impossible to carry out under the current mode of production.

The criminalization of political dissent, far from decreasing, has been implemented in a penal code that criminalizes all dissent.

The Cuban State still has not ratified the human rights pacts signed by the country in 2008.

In all this time there has not been a single amnesty that benefits political prisoners.

Economic reforms remain timid and insufficient, and policies absent.

We Cubans are still obliged to return to the country before 24 continuous months have passed, under penalty of losing our resident status. Those who have transgressed this limitation still need a permit to enter the national territory. That elimination of the exit permit has been reintroduced selectively with travel bans on those who are arbitrarily “regulated” (the regime’s term for “forbidden to travel”). To make matters worse, a new arbitrariness has been introduced, which prevents the return of those who “behave badly” abroad even if they have not exceeded the 24-month limit.

Cubans are still obliged to return to the country before 24 continuous months have passed, under penalty of losing our status as residents

The new Agrarian Reform that grants land ownership is still pending. Both by omission of reforms and by reiteration of unnecessary and abusive control measures, Cuban agriculture has not taken a significant step, not even mentionable, in all these years towards the purpose of guaranteeing the food of its citizens.

Everything inventoried up to this point is the result of the deficiencies of those in power in Cuba and the defects inherent to the imposed system. If, by a miracle all these shortcomings disappeared, the dissatisfaction of citizens would remain the same because the essentials would still need to be changed.

It seems logical to warn that the people of Cuba are the ones who have a big pending issue. What happened on 11 July 2021 can be considered as an entrance test to the civic consciousness of recognizing oneself as the protagonist of history. As is known, the spontaneity of that feat, which was its great merit, was also its Achilles heel.

The independent press does not have it easy.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

14ymedio’s Readers Celebrate Our Tenth Anniversary

To reach our pages from Cuba readers must overcome censorship and technological difficulties

A reader informing himself about events on the Island through ’14ymedio’ / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 May 2024 — Capable, on many occasions, of carrying out fierce debates at the bottom of our notes, the readers of 14ymedio have also congratulated this newspaper on its tenth anniversary. To reach our pages from Cuba they must overcome censorship and technological difficulties. For those who live abroad, it is a way to stay connected with the day-to-day life of the country they left behind.

Reader and commenter Alfredo David Zayas knows this well, and considers the newspaper’s work “a technological feat” as well as a journalistic one. “14ymedio is one of the very few truthful sources of information about Cuba and, furthermore, it is amazing what they can publish while in Havana,” he says.

Making a free press on the Island is “increasingly more difficult,” says user Ale, 65, a member of the Communist Party until he woke up from his “lethargy” reading independent newspapers, he says. “I wouldn’t miss a Cafecito Informativo for anything in the world,” he says. “I am convinced that their work is transparent, with the greatest interest in keeping us well informed. It can be said that they are almost war reporters, since they risk everything for their work.” continue reading

Making a free press on the Island is “increasingly more difficult,” says user Ale, 65, a member of the Communist Party until he woke up from his “lethargy” reading independent newspapers

From West Palm Beach, Florida, user Alberto Pérez reads 14ymedio, and is grateful that the newspaper offers the immigrant community in the United States “truthfulness, first-hand information and impartiality.” While Eduardo Sotelo considers that “it is necessary for everyone on the Island to read it” although “the dictatorship does not like that” nor does the government newspaper Granma, he emphasizes, whose press model is the complete opposite of the work of this newspaper.

It would not hurt the official press and the Cuban leaders – says the user Gatovolador, the reader with the most comments on our newspaper – to consult the news from 14ymedio from time to time. “If you read it you can learn a lot, and putting into practice everything that is said in it, perhaps this way you can get out of the total catastrophe that is upon you,” he emphasizes.

“Thank you for allowing me to give my opinion all this time,” says Cacique – another of our regular commentators – who has been proud to read the newspaper since 2020. The coverage of an event marked him: the explosion of the Saratoga hotel in Havana. Also loyal “since the Generation Y blog began” is the user Calamar, who congratulates the newspaper for “so many years of uncensored news.”

“They cannot give any more than what they give: continue accompanying the Cubans who are waiting for freedom from Cuba and those who are waiting for it in many other cities on the planet,” celebrates Laura Tedesco. “They have provided an example of perseverance, courage and professionalism; a critical and honest look; information in a country full of lies and inspiring many journalists in dictatorial contexts,” adds the co-director of the Dialogues about Cuba project and vice dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Saint Louis University-Madrid Campus.

For academic Ted Henken, professor of Sociology at Baruch College in New York, 14ymedio is “a constant source of information on current Cuba, reported with professionalism and passion, not easy in the polarized Cuban context.” In his teaching work, he has used our articles on multiple occasions as a means “to closely follow what is happening on the Island with the independent civil society and the increasingly weak, desperate and illegitimate Government.”

The writer José Prats Sariol, for his part, believes that “courage and self-confidence have accompanied 14ymedio since its foundation, without believing themselves to be owners of the truth, but rather of intelligent, plural dialogue.”

The commenter Medinavi appreciates “courage and perseverance to keep citizens who want to think informed.” He agrees that it is a “challenge” to work under a regime like the Cuban one, since it means bearing witness to a “dystopia” that began in 1959. The newspaper rescues “the culture of good thinking, promoting tolerance and laying the foundations for a not-too-distant political change.”

The newspaper rescues “the culture of good thinking, promoting tolerance and laying the foundations for a not-too-distant political change”

It is precisely the “decent language” – in every sense of the word – that commenter Gusano de Corazón praises, defining the work of 14ymedio as a contribution “with the truth.” Maintaining a newspaper in Cuba has everything to do with the defense of “civility and democratic values” and culture, argues Eduardo Sintes, who describes those who collaborate with the newspaper as people “full of love for Cuba and for the highest ideals of freedom.”

When ten years have passed since this anniversary – commenter Aesop hopes from Sao Paulo, Brazil – that 14ymedio will be read on the Island without the Government blocking it. “A couple of years ago,” he says, “on one occasion when Cuba was in the news in Brazil, a great journalist and commentator from TV Globo News said: ‘Since there is no credible information about Cuba, I had to get information from 14ymedio, the newspaper of Yoani Sánchez that is published in Havana’. She is the only one worthy of credibility on the Island.”

Readers of 14ymedio believe that, after a decade, the newspaper has become “an open window to the reality of Cuba.” Aside from the notes and reports, starring in multiple controversies and closely observing the work of the Editorial Team, they also have the satisfaction that, along with the best wishes, expresses the message: “Ten years already. Thank you so much.”

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Calixto García Stadium in Holguín Closes Part of Its Stands Due to the Danger of Collapse

The walls and a part of the roof of the Calixto García stadium “are peeling off” / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miguel García, Holguín, 15 May 2024 — The lack of maintenance and deterioration are the last blow for the Calixto García stadium, home of the Holguín baseball team. According to a source in the city, its walls “are peeling off ” and the authorities have prevented the fans from sitting near the areas where the collapse is imminent.

“The scaffolding of the towers on the left side has been declared in a state of collapse,” the official journalist Ernesto A Jomarron Cardoza denounced on Tuesday on the Facebook account ’Somos los Cachorros de Holguín’.

The communicator noticed the problem because the traditional third-base stands were empty during the match between Holguín and Artemisa. “The doors on the left side were kept closed and they are going to stay that way.”He lamented the lack of maintenance of the stadium’s towers, founded in 1979 and considered by Fidel Castro as an “architectural jewel”. continue reading

One of the Calixto García stadium’s entrances exhibits a lack of maintenance / 14ymedio

“As something never seen before, the team will play without an audience above its dugout (the area where players wait for their turn during the game),” said Cardoza.

What is even more outrageous is that last March, days before the voice of “play ball” was heard to start the National Series, the National Baseball Commission (CNB -Spanish acronym) detected “serious problems” in some fields.

During a tour of the provinces, the officials identified that in several stadiums maintenance was required on the “mound, lawn, benches, changing rooms and bathrooms”. They also mentioned that “clay was needed to work the field; they also needed to raise the pitching mound, center the home plate, water the lawn more to make it growth and finish the mowing”.

One of the stadiums was Calixto García. The national baseball commissioner, Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo, supervised the building and detected the “need for conditioning the bases and the home plate,” the pro-government newspaper ’¡Ahora!’ published at the time.

At that time they did not notice any damage or cracks in the roof, which have forced the closure of the towers on the left side.

The traditional Calixto García stadium third-base stands side was empty during the match between Holguín and Artemisa / Facebook/’Arriba los Cachorros de Holguín’

The sports authorities’ neglect of the stadiums has also occurred in the buildings for the practice of soccer. Last January, 14ymedio denounced the state of oblivion which the Pedro Marrero stadium has fallen into. The colossus located in Havana’s municipality of Playa has turned into “grazing land,” a track and field coach lamented. The deterioration is visible: the grass is worn out and the track is full of potholes.

This stadium has not received any of the eight million dollars the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) gave to Cuba between 2016 and 2022 to improve its sports facilities. However, the property did receive money for its renovation, stressed Ariel Maceo Téllez. Unfortunately, it is still just as bad.

Another abandoned colossus is the Pan American Stadium in Havana. The sports complex built by Fidel Castro in 1991 is in decline. The lack of maintenance together with the poor quality of the construction materials that were used for its construction and its proximity to the coast has caused the salt residue from the seawater to wear down its structure.

Translated by LAR

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Thank You, ’14ymedio’, For Making Me a Journalist

Making a newspaper is not easy at all. Doing it from Cuba is even more complicated

Mario J Pentón working in Miami in 2017 / Courtesy

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Mario J. Pentón, Miami, May 23, 2024 — The first time I heard about Yoani Sánchez was on the midday news on Cuban television. Mariuska Díaz, the announcer, called her a “cyberterrorist” and an enemy of the country. Dark hands were writing on a keyboard and behind her appeared the American eagle, dollars and what was then United States Interests Section in Havana.

By then I could already understand that the regime wanted to hide something when that woman, who was exposed on official television, was not allowed to defend herself or offer her point of view. And one of my first searches, on the day I was finally able to access the internet, was the name Yoani Sánchez.

Mariuska, by the way, that firm defender of Castroism who read those pamphlets, went to live under brutal capitalism, first in Mexico and then in Spain.

That is how I met 14ymedio, Yoani’s niño pequeño, this newspaper that is now 10 years old. And that is how I decided to collaborate with it. At first with a lot of fear, like all Cubans born and raised under the totalitarian regime. Later with passion and dedication, so that the people of Cuba would be more informed.

 My first texts in ’14ymedio’ were a real labor and delivery. Years of study in Cuban universities do not teach you how to do journalism

My first texts in 14ymedio were a real labor and delivery. Years of study in Cuban universities do not teach you how to do journalism, but the sustained support of the editors of the 14ymedio Newsroom in Madrid allowed me to correct those deficiencies. continue reading

Trying to connect with people, tell their stories, talk about what really matters to people is not something that interests the Communist Party. Their interest is propaganda, defending a model that is falling apart and repeating the ‘guidelines’. At 14ymedio I had the opportunity to create and grow.

In my years working at 14ymedio I documented Cuba’s serious immigration crisis. I remember, by the way, the annual figures of Cubans arriving across the border into the United States that were so scandalous at the time, today are the equivalent of the statistics of a single month.

I had the opportunity to interview hundreds of immigrants and recount the dramas of the exodus: the young Cuban woman raped and murdered in Urabá, Colombia. Her traveling companion who financed the trip with the sale of his mother’s house. The departure of Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the arrival of a new head in the Cuban Church. The oil spill in Cienfuegos Bay and its pollution while the authorities hid information… The plane crash in Havana that left 112 dead and the disastrous way in which the regime managed the catastrophe.

They were years very rich in information and work. Fidel Castro died and it was my turn – after receiving Yoani’s call from Havana – to write the first obituary and choose the photograph that would accompany the text. The wet-foot-dry-foot policy ended and with it the thaw of former President Barack Obama. We were one of the first media to break the news.

Making a newspaper is not easy at all. Doing it from Cuba is even more complicated. The connection difficulties, the arrests, the very harsh conditions in which our collaborators work in Cuba, with threats to them and even their families by State Security agents, make the work of 14ymedio even more valuable.

Those who know me know that I am very impatient. I always wanted 14ymedio to get to the news first. I remember with special affection the way in which Yoani Sánchez and Reinaldo Escobar “pulled my ears” for wanting to publish the headline and some paragraphs while we were still giving substance to the note.

“The important thing is not just to arrive first. It means doing it well,” Yoani told me. Those words have always marked me

“The important thing is not just to arrive first. It means doing it well,” Yoani told me. Those words have always marked me in my work as a journalist.

It was the years of work and experience at 14ymedio that led me to be offered a position as a journalist at el Nuevo Herald, and then on television and radio. Without what I learned at 14ymedio, the work I do today on my networks, specifically so that millions of Cubans are informed, would not be justified.

When I remember my years of work at the first independent newspaper made from Cuba, I do so with great affection, as someone who treasures a precious memory. Thank you, 14ymedio, for making me grow as a person and as a society. Thank you for teaching us that journalism can be done from Cuba.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba, Ten Years of Progress Towards the Abyss

More and more Cubans have the possibility of accessing the independent press, which has seen unprecedented development in the last decade

Internet access allowed people to choose the press they read and be aware of the support they receive from Cuban civil society abroad / Cubadebate

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Karel J. Leyva, Montreal (Canada) — Rwanda and Botswana are not exactly the first countries that come to mind when thinking about examples of well-being and progress. Both have faced and do face monumental challenges, with a history marked by chronic poverty, unemployment, violence and levels of corruption that could discourage even the most optimistic of social engineers. And yet, in the last decade, these two countries have achieved remarkable transformations.

Rwanda, devastated by a genocide in 1994 that left the country in ruins, has emerged with a series of reforms in technology and governance that have catalyzed notable economic growth. Since 2014, Rwanda’s GDP per capita has more than doubled, and development policies have lifted more than a million people out of poverty. For its part, Botswana has been able to take advantage of its rich natural resources to finance substantial improvements in infrastructure, education and health. These investments have not only raised its human development index, but have also strengthened its economy, transforming it into one of the most stable and prosperous in Africa, with sustained growth of 5% annually in the last decade.

While the governments of these, and other countries with comparatively unfavorable contexts, have shown a clear willingness to adopt policies aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens, the Government of Cuba has made the opposite choice: aggravate suffering, increase misery and vigorously encourage the hopelessness of its people. continue reading

The Government of Cuba has made the opposite choice: aggravate suffering, increase misery and vigorously encourage the hopelessness of its people

In the last decade, life expectancy in Cuba has fallen, the population has decreased, and emigration continues to undermine the country’s productive capacity. There has also been a significant increase in the number of citizens imprisoned for political reasons. Between September 2019 and March 2024, the number of prisoners of conscience increased from 128 to 1,092 (an increase of 773.6%).

Such an increase results from the growing number of manifestations of discontent that have taken on dimensions never seen before on the Island, since it is known that exercising a universally recognized right is punished in Cuba with repression. In the misnamed “Republic of Cuba” the republican virtue that constitutes civic participation is suffocated with violence, imprisonment and torture.

In addition, in this period forced exile and the so-called ’regulation’ (prohibition of departure) have been normalized with the consequent violation of at least a dozen rights, not counting those that are violated through threats, blackmail and more brutal psychological pressures.

And what can we say about runaway inflation, the enormous deterioration of infrastructure, the alarming decline in Public Health and Education services, and the devastating exacerbation of poverty – which led us to be crowned in 2021 as the most miserable country in the world according to the Henke index – or the exponential increase in social inequality.

As curious as it may seem, the last 10 years have also witnessed what I call “the dilemma of authoritarian control of information.” If in 2014 only 22 out of every 100 people had access to a cell phone, currently this number has tripled, as has internet use (all thanks to exiled family and friends). It is true that allowing such access has swelled the coffers of the military conglomerate Gaesa due to its monopoly control over the media, but at the same time it presents them with the dilemma of granting the population unprecedented access to information (global, thanks to the use of VPNs [Virtual Private Networks] to circumvent censorship).

Such access allows people to choose the press they read, be amazed at all the good that capitalism – supposedly evil – offers their exiled compatriots, and be aware of the support they receive from abroad for the fervent activity of Cuban civil society. Since the military oligarchy cannot give up the millions it pockets, it has had to bet everything on its brutal repression being enough to counteract the benign effect of the flow of news from unofficial sources.

14ymedio is, without a doubt, one of the most serious media outlets, respected and admired by both Cubans and the international community

More and more people have the ability to access the independent press, which has seen unprecedented development in the last decade. It is enough to mention the founding of 14ymedio, in 2014, and the essential work they have done since then. It is, without a doubt, one of the most serious media outlets, respected and admired by both Cubans and the international community. A newspaper that, to make matters worse, is published from Cuba (in the very jaws of the hyena), and that takes on the arduous task of circumventing communist censorship to get information to the people in multiple ways.

To summarize, in these last 10 years everything that the people wanted to increase has been reduced, and almost everything that should have been reduced has expanded, with the notable exception of access (reluctantly) to information and the consolidation of the independent press as a reliable source.

But to be fair, there are also things that haven’t changed. For example, the fact that everything is so disastrously wrong that it seems unreal. Or that Cubans are forced to live a life they do not want, to give up what they love, to say what they do not think, to silence what they want to shout.

The totalitarian effort to stifle talent, applaud mediocrity, call traitors heroes, and to try to convince us that we are a weak, isolated and unprotected people has not changed. The uninterrupted advance towards decadence, moral collapse has not changed and, above all, the persistent idea that it is not worth living in our own country remains unchanged.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: Change So That Everything Remains the Same

In December 2014, Raúl Castro and Obama surprised everyone with the news that relations between both countries would begin to normalize.

In 2018, Díaz-Canel’s face was unveiled as “president,” although Raúl Castro would clarify that he was actually handpicked by him / Cubadebate

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, May 24, 2024 — The last decade in Cuba is, perhaps, the one that has seen the most changes in half a century. However, we have the feeling that everything remains the same, or even worse. This reminds us of Lampedusa’s famous novel, The Leopard. In it, Tancredi’s character says to his uncle a phrase that has been repeated countless times: “If we want everything to remain as it is, we need everything to change.”

In December 2014, Raúl Castro and Obama surprised everyone with the news that relations between both countries would begin to normalize. The opposition to the island’s regime saw this event in two different ways. For some, the decision of the US Government was a betrayal of a historical exile, who had fought for years against the dictatorship. For others, it was the most intelligent and effective way to influence, killing me softly style, the fall of Castro-communism. However, for the majority of ordinary people within Cuba, this meant nothing more than a relief from the hardships suffered daily. It seemed like a moment of hope.

In 2015, internet access for the population was expanded. This tiny detail would mark a “domino effect” that would have a decisive influence on the perception of Cubans about the world and their own reality. The horse lost its blinders. continue reading

In March 2016, Air Force One landed at José Martí International Airport in Havana. Nine months later, Raúl Castro announced on television the death of his brother. It seemed that yes, changes were finally happening and that the end of an era would be inevitable.

But the year 2017 constituted a turning point. Obama eliminated the “wet foot/dry foot” policy before leaving the White House

But the year 2017 constituted a turning point. Obama eliminated the “wet foot/dry foot” policy before leaving the White House and his successor threatened to return to treating Cuba as what it was: a dictatorship. In June of that year, Trump was applauded in Miami for promising a tough line against the one-party regime. And in August, the scandal of the sonic attacks against the US Embassy on the Island broke out.

In 2018, the nomenclatura debuted the face of Díaz-Canel as “president,” although Raúl Castro would clarify that he was actually hired by him, after failing with 11 other test tubes of officials. The bad luck of the appointee would be marked by several tragic events, such as the crash of a commercial plane with 112 deaths. And to his misfortune would be added the accumulation of endemic problems of the system, as well as the ineptitude of a new cabinet that began his management with a disastrous decree: 349.

The following year, a new Constitution was approved that was more “catty” than the Lampedusa novel. The civil service went on Twitter calling half of the Cubans “bastards” and Díaz-Canel’s lack of ashé [‘power’ in Yoruba] was confirmed by a devastating and unusual tornado. In contrast, the capacity of civil society to articulate itself increased its scale of influence. The crisis, meanwhile, showed its worst face, although the designated test tube insisted on calling it “circumstantial,” with the implications of “temporary.”

In 2020, the pandemic and masks arrived, but also the resistance of a generation of young artists against censorship. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and the San Isidro Movement began to receive solidarity within the guild, despite all attempts to discredit them. The apotheosis occurred on November 27, when hundreds of artists stood in front of the Ministry of Culture with demands not only in the field of culture, but also in terms of citizen freedoms.

And 2021 arrived. The deadliest year in all of national history. The crude mortality rate on the Island was the highest on the continent

And 2021 arrived. The deadliest year in all of national history. The crude mortality rate on the Island was the highest on the continent, although the regime reported minimal numbers of deaths from Covid-19 and boasted of having five vaccines. The pressure cooker burst on 11 July, a date that would be engraved in national history, leaving another 26th of the same month in a corner of the calendar.

The last three years are much fresher in the memory of those who read me. The regime managed to survive the outbreak by applying the worst techniques of repression and social control. They locked up and sentenced hundreds, while they drove many more out of the country. Since then they have dedicated themselves to keeping us divided and clashing.

As in Lampedusa’s novel, the Revolution is a dead dog. And although some insist on keeping it stuffed, it will be inevitable that it will end up thrown out of the window, like the dog Bendicó [Blessed] in The Leopard, towards the garbage dump of History.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: The Challenge of Practicing Journalism in a Dictatorship

Independent media in Cuba are the vanguard of the process of building democracy

Journalism is not called to the ranks of any political party or ideology, but rather to report facts of general interest that prove that they are true / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, May 22, 2024 — Being a journalist is not being an activist. Journalism is not called to the ranks of any political party or ideology, but rather to report facts of general interest that prove that they are true, and with a simple and complex purpose at the same time: to keep citizens informed so that they can make decisions. In its exercise, in a natural way, journalism calls into question those who direct public affairs. That is why it has always been called the “fourth estate,” in an expression coined in the 19th century by Thomas B. Macaulay based on a distorted quote by Edmund Burke, which signals the objective of overseeing the other three powers, described by Montesquieu: executive, legislative and judicial. All this, of course, in a democracy. What happens in a dictatorship, like the Cuban one, in which 14ymedio was born? The same.

A newspaper independent of any party or organization, 14ymedio was blocked from the first day on thecountry’s servers, all controlled by the regime. It was a useless gesture, which only demonstrated the vital importance of the profession in promoting truth and freedom. The constant harassment of the Editorial Office in Havana and its reporters was also in vain: we are still here, ten years later. As if that were not enough, our work influences Cuba on a daily basis, both the Government and its citizens. Sometimes it leaves a simple discomfort on the part of the authorities, for revealing things they are hiding; other times, it has moved them to change their plans; in a few other instances have forced them to resolve situations reported by the population. Not bad for a censored newspaper!

To illustrate this, we have compiled some examples. We want to convey to our readers that, despite the dictatorship, journalism can be practiced as the vanguard of a process of building the democracy that we want for Cuba.

Giant African snail trapped in Cuba / 14ymedio

1. The African snail is no longer taboo in Cuba. Recently, this newspaper reported on the proliferation on the Island of the giant African snail or Achatina fulica, an invasive species, potentially dangerous for human health and crops. In those days, the authorities were already on alert, but they were very hesitant to inform the population. From the first article that appeared in 14ymedio, the African snail was no longer taboo in the official press.

Cuban President Díaz-Canel, visibly disturbed, in a special edition of State TV’s Round Table program spoke about the dollar / Screen Capture/Cubadebate

2. The Government moves up the announcement of the “dollarization” of essential goods. When the first stores taking payment in foreign currency (that is, in freely convertible currency or MLC) and payment by magnetic card opened in Cuba in 2019, no one imagined that they would extend beyond the household appliances and spare parts they were then allowed to sell. That food or hygiene products, vital for daily life, might be sold in those stores was anathema. But that “circumstantial” or “temporary” crisis, as the government preferred to call it, soon became permanent. The lack of liquidity in the national economy forced the regime to expand “dollarization,” and this newspaper reported the exclusive, a week before the Government, as a fait accompli, announced it. The day after our note, a visibly disturbed Miguel Díaz-Canel announced in a special edition of the continue reading

Round Table TV program that the dollar would be allowed and its use expanded for the purchase of food.

View of G Street in Havana with the raised cobblestones / 14ymedio

3. Green returns to G Street in Havana. In April 2021, after months of complaints from architects and citizens, which 14ymedio had echoed , for covering one of the sections of the capital’s Avenida de los Presidentes with cobblestones, also known as G Street, the authorities removed the gray cement and they restored the grass.

The 14ymedio’s interview with Dr. Eduardo López Collazo, on the official program Con Filo / Screen capture

4. Scientific information about Covid, “media war.” When the deadliest moment of the Covid-19 pandemic began in Cuba, the regime had rejected help from the World Health Organization (WHO) to receive, like other disadvantaged countries, recently approved vaccines such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca, and instead launched a propaganda campaign to praise the development of its own antidotes. These began to be administered to the population without receiving the endorsement of the relevant international organizations. Given the lack of official information, 14ymedio turned to one of the leading specialists on the subject, Eduardo López Collazo, director of the prestigious Research Institute at the La Paz Hospital in Madrid and, as it happened, a Cuban. The interview was included as “bibliography” in an official note that attempted to discredit objective information about Cuban vaccines and was the object of ridicule on television programs such as Con Filo.

Cultizaza Company, located in Tunas de Zaza, Sancti Spiritus / 14ymedio

5. The Government invents a “rainstorm.” At the end of 2021, one of the Cultizaza company tanks burst in Sancti Spíritus, the largest producer of shrimp on the Island, which is vitally important for export. Dozens of people came from the neighboring municipality, Tunas de Zaza, to collect the crustacean in bags and pockets. The news would not have spread if this newspaper had not published it, with exclusive sources of information. Two days later, the official press was forced to give an explanation: an “intense local rainstorm caused a breakdown in one of the ponds intended for the development of shrimp.” The problem is that neither that day nor the previous ones did it rain in Sancti Spíritus.

Image of the Fress door just three days after the store’s opening / 14ymedio

6. New private businesses cause discomfort. The Island has seen, in recent years, how state premises passed into the hands of micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) without any announcement or explanation. One of the first was Fress, in the Plaza de Carlos III. In the chronicle of its inauguration, 14ymedio revealed that its owner was a foreigner. Just three days later, the business closed “due to technical problems.”

Part of the installation that carries gas from Puerto Escondido to Jaruco, underground after protests from neighbors / 14ymedio

7. When journalism serves small communities. The residents of Puerto Escondido, in the province of Mayabeque, were desperate when they came to this newspaper to denounce the situation they were experiencing. Constant gas leaks, hydrocarbon contamination and, especially, the installation of a pipeline in the only baseball field in the municipality. The note published in 14ymedio caused Energas to attend to the population and move the pipeline to another location.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cadeca Denies It Is Selling the US Dollar at 375 Cuban Pesos

While the price of the currency has fallen from 395 to 345 since May 9, the official rate remains at 120

Cadeca asked its clients not to trust unofficial statements about currency exchange rates / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 25, 2024 — Cuba’s network of currency Exchange Houses (Cadeca) denied this Friday that its branches will begin to sell US dollars at a rate of 1 for 375 pesos, instead of the rate of 120 currently in force. False information had circulated on social networks and alerted part of the population, forcing the state entity to clarify the situation.

“Any information received about our entity or its services from a source other than our official channels is totally false and unfounded,” Cadeca posted on its social networks.

The price of the dollar keeps the population tense due to its sudden drop to 345 pesos, according to El Toque, after having reached 395 on May 9. The fluctuation has occurred in the midst of a campaign to discredit El Toque in the official press, which accuses it of manipulating the exchange market at will and participating in a plot to provoke a social outbreak.

The euro and the freely convertible currency have also collapsed with the US currency

As Banco Metropolitano said on its social networks, the campaign – allegedly paid for by the US – aims to reach the bar of 400 pesos for one dollar on the third anniversary of the social outbreak of 11 July 2021. Along with the US currency, the euro and the freely convertible currency (MLC) have also plummeted, which are at 360 and 290 pesos respectively. continue reading

A similar drop occurred last September, when 14ymedio recorded a fall from 250 to 215 pesos. The swing did not last long, and soon the dollar regained its upward trend.

El Toque, a medium that publishes daily informal market rates, considers that the current decline in the dollar is a common “temporary correction” and believes that the restoration of Western Union remittances, which occurred precisely on May 9, could “influence the expectations, the so-called ’market sentiment’.”

According to a report recently published by the Observatory of Currencies and Finance of Cuba (OMFi), economist Pavel Vidal – the researcher of the tool created by El Toque – estimates that “a growing number of people have begun to consider that the price of foreign currencies “It was excessively high and chose to sell before a possible fall.”

For Vidal, the fluctuation is nothing more than a “temporary” decline, since problems persist in the Island’s economy

For Vidal, the fluctuation is nothing more than a “temporary” decline, since problems and distortions persist in the Island’s economy that do not allow the Cuban peso to recover. The high fiscal deficit, the high issuance of unbacked banknotes, the contraction of national production and exports, dependence on imports, dollarization, emigration and generalized inflation (32.3% year-on-year this April), are some of the conditions that make it impossible to contain the depreciation of the national currency.

In addition to the crisis that Cuban banks face due to the lack of liquidity, both in foreign currency and pesos, they now also have to worry about external factors that not only worsen their management, but also worsen their attention to the population. This Friday, the Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA) of Sancti Spíritus published a note in which it warned that as of May 25, “BPA branches throughout the province will not serve customers on Saturdays.” The cause: “The electrical problems that are affecting the country.”

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuban ’11J’ Political Prisoner Suffers From Peritonitis Due to Medical Malpractice in Jail

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva has an extra-penal leave of one year

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva / Facebook

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2024 — Political prisoner Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva, sentenced to eight years in prison for sedition for demonstrating on 11 July 2021, has denounced medical negligence and an outbreak of tuberculosis in prison 1580 in the Havana municipality of San Miguel del Padrón.

At the moment, the young man, who will turn 22 on May 28, has an extra-penal leave of one year, after having to undergo surgery for peritonitis. According to Martí Noticias he reported, “from April 24 to May 4 I was not able to go to the bathroom and they had to operate on me because my appendix burst and I had peritonitis due to poor medical care.”

“From April 24 to May 4 I was not able to go to the bathroom and they had to operate on me because my appendix burst”

He suffered from severe pain in the abdomen for 10 days, was unable to defecate and had a high fever. It was then that the prison commanders transferred him to the Salvador Allende General Hospital, where he arrived with a burst appendix and a severe infection.

Despite having received several blood transfusions, he now needs vitamins, ferrous fumarate and folic acid, which are out of reach due to the shortage of medicines on the island. continue reading

Despite having received several blood transfusions, he now needs vitamins, ferrous fumarate and folic acid, which are out of reach due to the shortage of medicines on the island

“Inmates fall ill and have no medicine. I survived, but I could have died and some did not survive because of poor care and poor hygiene,” said Sayú Silva.

Likewise, the doctors who are treating him are investigating if he also has extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, although the tests that were performed on him are not yet ready.

The young man said that in prison 1580 there is an outbreak of that disease and that some companies are in quarantine, and he related the death of his compañero Luis Barrios, who died because of unspecified respiratory problems, which led to advanced pneumonia due to lack of necessary medical attention.

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva was arrested after participating in the ’11J’ demonstrations in La Güinera

“The July 11 prisoner who passed away had tuberculosis. He was left for several days. None of the guards gave him medical attention. He got worse and died, but all the prisoners knew that he died of tuberculosis, because that same company had been isolated due to tuberculosis for a few months. I’m sure they told the family something else,” he insisted.

Yoandri Reinier Sayú Silva was arrested after participating in the ’11J’ demonstrations in La Güinera, one of Havana’s neighborhoods against which the regime’s repression was most vicious. The only death recognized by the authorities occurred there on July 12th, when a person was shot in the back by a police officer.

Translated by LAR

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba’s Independent Press Defeats the Regime’s Journalism

These last ten years have been a great loss for the dictatorship, whose moral bankruptcy has been exposed by the independent media.

The Cuban journalist became ‘mediatized’ and morphed into a spokesperson for official slogans, like Froilán Arencibia / Cuban Television

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 24 May 2024 — Castro’s populism, as soon as it came to power, broke the numerous fundamental components of a free society, among them the right to life and to freedom of expression and information.

Parallel to the executions, the newspapers accused of being close to the deposed regime of Fulgencio Batista — Alerta, Pueblo, Ataja and Tiempo — were looted and expropriated. They were then handed over to supporters of the Castros to become spokespersons for the new oficialismo, as in the cases of Combate y Revolución, the latter under the command of Carlos Franqui, with its six-inch headlines demanding al paredón (‘to the [execution] wall’).

Twelve months later, on January 25, editions of the Diario de la Marina, copies of the Prensa Libre newspapers, and the magazines Life, Times, and Selections of Reader’s Digest were burned in the Cuban capital. In May, with there no longer being a free press in Cuba, an event took place that showed the degree of servility of a sector of society, which ordered the symbolic burial of the Diario de la Marina, dean of the national press.

In Cuba, not only was freedom of the press eliminated, but the media that honored it were extinguished. No republican newspaper survived Castroism, neither in name nor in informative quality. continue reading

No republican newspaper survived Castroism, neither in name nor in informative quality

The information media – press, radio and television – were placed at the service of tyranny, becoming a reflection of the pharaonic dreams of the Castro brothers and transmitters of aberrant government slogans.

Journalism became – sometimes with the complicit participation of many communicators, due to self-censorship or their dedication to the regime – an objective to be destroyed in order to impose the totalitarian system in gestation with greater impunity.

Because of these painful realities, I consider it important to highlight the work carried out by Cuban independent journalists, who for decades – and with limited means – have risked their lives and precarious freedoms to report on the institutional violation of citizens’ rights. They have been willing to confront the criminal actions of Castro’s absolutism, as the newspaper 14ymedio has done over the last 10 years.

Cuban independent journalists and the few media outlets that have served in this task during these long six decades have carved out a niche of honor, both for the courage shown to endure repression and for the quality and fairness of their reporting.

For decades, only doctrinal journalism existed on the Island, absent of any criticism or questioning of government action; closed to any information or analysis that the authority could consider an attack on its interests.

For decades, on the Island there was only doctrinal journalism, absent of any criticism or questioning of government of government action

The Cuban journalist was ‘mediatized’. He became a spokesperson for official slogans. He became a singer of achievements – real or supposed – of the ruling class. His judgment was subject to political correctness. The information, the story of an event, became a chronicle of what was convenient for the authority and for the journalist who strove not to be repressed and to keep his job before a single owner: the party-state.

This situation, which was evolving into a positive change, took a radical turn when 14ymedio came to light with extreme modesty. Many of us did not realize this milestone that occurred within Cuba at a time when the country began a process of readjustment as a consequence of the exhaustion of totalitarianism.

These last 10 years have been a time of great loss for the dictatorship. It is true that they still hold power, but they are in complete moral and material bankruptcy.

Transitioning from the charismatic totalitarianism of Fidel Castro to the military absolutism of Raúl and, finally, to the bureaucratic totalitarianism represented and led by the inept Miguel Diaz-Canel have left a contrastable evidence: the regime finds itself at a crossroads that can be deadly to its survival.

This decade within the darkness reveals lights of change. The population has shown its disenchantment in the most important popular protests since January 1, 1959; the prisons incarcerate more than 1,000 pro-democracy activists; and the regime intends to reinvent itself by establishing economic practices contrary to its essence. These events have been fittingly covered by 14ymedio and other independent journalists.

From a distance, but with admiration and respect, on this anniversary of 14ymedio, I dedicate this phrase by Jose Martí that accurately reflects my feelings: “Only those who know about journalism and the cost of selflessness can truly estimate the energy, the tenacity, the sacrifices, the prudence, the strength of character revealed by the appearance of an honest and free newspaper.”

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.