Raul Castro Tells Intellectuals That Cuban Culture is Threatened / EFE, 14ymedio

Cuban Writers and Artists Union President Miguel Barnet. (UNEAC)
Cuban Writers and Artists Union President Miguel Barnet. (UNEAC)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 23 August 2016 – Cuban President Raul Castro warned in a message to the island’s intellectuals and artists that the country’s culture is threatened by “subversive projects” and a “global wave of colonization,” although he is confident that they can confront the challenge, according to an article in the official media published this Tuesday.

The letter, read last night during the celebration of 55 years of the official Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), congratulates an institution “that was born in a decisive stage of the Cuban Revolution” and has been “at the service of culture, considered by Fidel as ‘the nation’s shield and sword’.” Continue reading “Raul Castro Tells Intellectuals That Cuban Culture is Threatened / EFE, 14ymedio”

David and Goliath / Cuban Law Association

Cuban Law Association Logo
Cuban Law Association Logo

Cuban Law Association, Attorney Yasmany Orges Lugo, 8 August 2016 — An attorney is someone with an undergraduate degree which allows him or her to practice law in accordance with a country’s legal statutes on behalf of clients. Attorneys are active and indispensable partners in their country’s administration of justice. In other words, an attorney is not just a defender of justice but also someone whose advice serves a preventive role in avoiding social conflict. Continue reading “David and Goliath / Cuban Law Association”

Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

A foreigner can pay up to 12 times more than a Cuban to enter cultural events such as the La Rampa Art Fair. (14ymedio)
A foreigner can pay up to 12 times more than a Cuban to enter cultural events such as the La Rampa Art Fair. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 22 August 2016 — How do Cubans to know I’m not from here? I wear the same clothes as Cubans (shorts, shirt and sandals) and my skin is not that white in this scorching summer. Also, I flatter myself I speak pretty good “Cuban”… So why do I still feel like a perpetual stigma like I’m being “délit de faciès” (racially profiled) as we would say in France to refer to those who control the streets and target immigrants with no other motive than their physical appearance. Why am I forced to hear continued calls in the street of “Hello my friend?” in English. Followed in Spanish by “Do you want a taxi, a good private restaurant, where are you from? What language do you speak? Do you want to go to the beach?”

Why can’t I just seem normal, like the rest of the citizens, and not an almost extraterrestrial being? Why is the label of tourist stuck to my forehead, as if I was suffering from an obsession that consists of touring the island over and over? Ten years from now will they still be offering me wooden statues of Che berets? Why doesn’t anyone think I live here, and even work here, in exchange for a Cuban salary? Continue reading “Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy”

Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

A primary school in Candelaria, Pinar del Río. (14ymedio)
A primary school in Candelaria, Pinar del Río. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 20 August 2016 – The 2016-2017 school year starts in just two weeks and the authorities of the Ministry of Education are calling on people to take good care of school supplies given “the economic limitations of the country.” Department head Ena Elsa Velaquez Cobiella, also acknowledged the lack of teachers in several territories, a problem that last year amounted to a deficit of 10,300 teachers island-wide.

For the upcoming school year, among the provinces with the most significant lack of teachers are Ciego de Avila, where an exodus to other lines of work has caused a shortage of 663 education professionals. These positions will be covered, according to Barbara Rodriguez Milian, Provincial Director of Education, with “personnel contracted for on a hourly basis, a university contingent, and methodologists and the boards of directors of the schools,” as the official told the local press. Continue reading “Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

The Best Way to “Become a Man”? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Cuban soldiers carry rocket propelled grenade launchers during a military parade in Havana's Revolution Square April 16, 2011.
Cuban soldiers carry rocket propelled grenade launchers during a military parade in Havana’s Revolution Square April 16, 2011. Reuters

cubanet square logoCubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 16 August 2016 — Recently, during my brief stay in Miami to participate in an academic meeting on legal issues, I was surprised to hear from a Cuban emigrant – fairly old in age – about his wish that, in a future democratic Cuba, a law of compulsory military service would be maintained. His proposal was based on the assumption that military life imposes discipline and maturity in young people. Virtues – his opinion – which are practically extinct on the island.

Very frequently and with minimal variations, I’ve heard this phrase in different scenarios for Cubans of the most dissimilar political ideas or with no political ideas at all. The common denominator is the age of those who think this way: usually adults over 55 or 60. Continue reading “The Best Way to “Become a Man”? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya”

FANTU Activists Ask Obama to “Save the Life” of Guillermo Farinas / 14ymedio

Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy)
Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 August 2016 — A group of activists from the Anti-Totalitarian Forum (FANTU) have sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to “save the life of Guillermo Fariñas Hernández” who, as of Sunday, has been on a hunger strike for 32 days. The missive is addressed to the leader as “president of the country which is a beacon of human rights in the world.”

Seven members of the opposition organization which is led by Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, are asking Obama to “use his political wisdom to take any action” that would avoid the death of the dissident. However, they clarify that the letter is not asking the US president to do “something tied to politics.” Continue reading “FANTU Activists Ask Obama to “Save the Life” of Guillermo Farinas / 14ymedio”

A Deplorable Spectacle / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Fidel Castro at the Colmenita Gala event on the occasion of his 90th birthday (photo: Juvenal Balán/Granma)
Fidel Castro at the Colmenita Gala event on the occasion of his 90th birthday (photo: Juvenal Balán/Granma)

It is a crime to manipulate a child’s conscience for the adulation of a dictator.

cubanet square logoCubanet, Miriam Celaya, 15 August 2016, Havana – This Saturday, August 13, 2016, was the culmination of true torture after months of putting up with the fanfare in the official media on the occasion of the ninetieth birthday of the Specter-in-Chief.

Against any reasonable forecast, the responsibility for the birthday celebration was delegated to the members of the children’s art troupe “La Colmenita,” (The Little Beehive) and was presented to an audience that was beyond unusual: a theater crowded with adults dressed in military accoutrements or in pressed white guayaberas, Cuban dress shirts.

In the front row, flanked by the president of Venezuela on his left and his brother Raúl Castro on his right, the Orate Magnus in the flesh writhed in his seat and turned to whisper something to the Venezuelan catafalque, without paying much attention to the apotheosis of bad taste that was taking place on stage. Undaunted and haughty, as he has always been, he remained indifferent to the adulation, as if the whole deployment of major sucking-up were not exclusively devoted to him and his irreparable 90 years. Continue reading “A Deplorable Spectacle / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya”

Cuba in Rio 2016: A Forecast / Iván García

Clothing and footwear with which the Cuban delegation paraded at the opening of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is the work of French designer Christian Loboutin. Taken from the Internet.
Clothing and footwear with which the Cuban delegation paraded at the opening of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is the work of French designer Christian Loboutin. Taken from the Internet.

Ivan Garcia, 7 August 2016 — A couple of months ago under a frightening morning sun, the team of Cuban athletes who will compete in the next Olympic Games were training on the deteriorated synthetic track of the Pan American Stadium, east of Havana, under the watchful eye of a dozen trainers, with stopwatches around their necks while, taking notes on their tablets.

In a corner of the track, in the shade, as if escaping the sweltering heat, Dayron Robles was training in headphones and with his inseparable signature plain glasses on.

The story of Robles, since winning the gold medal eight years ago at the Beijing Olympics, has enough material to make a soap opera. Continue reading “Cuba in Rio 2016: A Forecast / Iván García”

Five Nights in Cuba’s Tourist Apartheid / Iván García

Entrance to Memories Flamenco Beach Resort. Taken from the blow: Andrew742.

Ivan Garcia, 19 August 2016 — On a cloudy afternoon in early July, I went with my daughter to the reservation office in the basement of the Habana Libre hotel, to reserve for mid-August five nights in a hotel in Cayo Coco, in the north of Ciego Avila province, some 360 miles from the capital.

I started saving the money for it in September of last year. A tourism representative suggested the Memories Flamenco Beach Resort. The price was absolutely prohibitive for an ordinary Cuba: 1,188 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC), which, when adding the cost of transportation, was nothing less than 1,290 CUC for five days of sun and beach.

On the day of departure, at four in the morning, we were there will two pieces of hand luggage and a briefcase, waiting for the bus that would take us to Cayo Coco. They told us to come to the parking lot of the Roman Fonst Sports hall, adjacent to the interprovincial bus terminal in the Plaza de la Revolution municipality. Continue reading “Five Nights in Cuba’s Tourist Apartheid / Iván García”

Coco Farinas Lost Consciousness Again / Lilianne Ruíz

Lilianne Ruiz, 19 August 2106 — Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas had to be taken to the hospital again yesterday, at 4:40 in the afternoon The photo at the top of this post was taken several weeks ago but it shows how FANTU activists take him to the hospital.

As stipulated in the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers, he was intravenously hydrated with saline solution. I want to clarify I am citing the Declaration of Malta because of one of the attacks of the regime’s trolls in the virtual forums that arise these days, it is a fact that Coco could not receive saline solution in a state hospital. Continue reading “Coco Farinas Lost Consciousness Again / Lilianne Ruíz”

Social Networks Respond To Randy Alonso: I-Am-Not-Ex-Cuban / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

#YoNoSoyExCubano: Milkos Danilo Sosa Molina, a young Cuban resident in Miami responds to Randy Alonso. (Courtesy)
#YoNoSoyExCubano: Milkos Danilo Sosa Molina, a young Cuban resident in Miami responds to Randy Alonso. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 19 August 2016 — A recent comment by official journalist Randy Alonso has generated a number of protests on social networks.

The well-known Cuban TV host questioned the nationality of the Cuban athlete Orlando Ortega, who won silver medal competing for Spain at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

On the Roundtable program, which he moderates on Cuban State TV, Alonso dedicated a segment to Cuba’s performance in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and spoke about the “controversial elements” in that sporting event, mentioning the case of “the ex-Cuban Orlando Ortega who is going to compete for Spain, and other cases of athletes who have jumped from one country to another.” The journalist placed his speech in the context of a supposed controversy “that today animates the international sports scene, tempered by the growing influence of money.” Continue reading “Social Networks Respond To Randy Alonso: I-Am-Not-Ex-Cuban / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

About 10 million people eat the same thing at the same time in Cuba, the few products available in the market. (EFE)
About 10 million people eat the same thing at the same time in Cuba, the few products available in the market. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 18 August 2016 – My situation is like that of the majority of mixed couples where one of the two had the good fortune to be born in a democratic country – indeed, a country with a free press and a multi-party political system, where a person can express an opinion without fear of being denounced by their neighbors or reprimanded by the police. It is useful to remember this in these difficult times, with a certain tendency, on the other side of the Atlantic, to forget or deny the achievements and advantages of democracy even though, of course, it is far from perfect and is always an ideal to that is being striven for.

In these cases, sometimes, the Cuban man or woman, who remains deeply attached to their island, convinced their partner to initiate the “repatriation,” full of hopes for change after the famous handshake with the former enemy and potential invader. Continue reading “Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy”

Jorgito, The New Revolutionary Icon / 14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz

Jorgito debuted in his public life on the occasion of the Fourth Pioneers Congress, when he caught the attention of Raul Castro
Jorgito debuted in his public life on the occasion of the Fourth Pioneers Congress, when he caught the attention of Raul Castro

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz, Camagüey, 19 August 2016 — The Revolution needs to constantly reinvent new ideological struggles, constructing new heroes that meet the demands of the so-called ideological work with the masses. Thus, after the stage of the founding epic there was the release in 1988 of Orlando Cardoso Villavicencio, who had been held for nearly 12 years by Eritrean rebels, later there was the ideological battle for the return of Elian Gonzalez and finally, the struggle began for the return of the Five Heroes imprisoned by the “empire.” The saga of revolutionary heroes could not be finalized once and for all, and now a new one is being constructed, Jorge Enrique Jerez Belisario, otherwise known as Jorgito the Disabled.

At his birth in the Provincial Maternity Hospital of Camagüey on March 8, 1993, in the toughest year of the Special Period, Jorgito suffered physiological jaundice complicated by symptoms of a generalized infection by the bacterium Klebsiella and was finally diagnosed with Infantile Cerebral Palsy. This information is public, taken from Ecured, Cuba’s official on-line encyclopedia. However, we Camagüeyanos who knew the Ana Betancourt Maternal Hospital in those years knew that it was a time of every man for himself, and suspect there could have been poor medical practices caused by the lack of hospital resources. Continue reading “Jorgito, The New Revolutionary Icon / 14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz”

ETECSA Restores Internet Service in Navigation Rooms and Wifi Hotspots / 14ymedio

A group of young people connect to the internet in a wifi hotspot in Havana. (EFE)
A group of young people connect to the internet in a wifi hotspot in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The Cuban Telecommunications Company SA (ETECSA) said Thursday that “internet access from navigation rooms and wifi hotspots was restored in 17 August, along with access to ENET.” The disruption led to a flood of complaints from customers of the telephone monopoly.

Etecsa apologized for the inconvenience caused by service failures, problems that have become common in recent months. In mid-July, the company announced problems with Nauta e-mail access from cellphones due to maintenance work.

In November 2015 users were unable to send or receive e-mails for six days, a problem that was repeated a month later and resolved after a delay of more than 24 hours.

The wireless network known as WIFI_ETECSA began operations on 1 July 2015, and now counts more than 80 navigation hotspots in the country. Each day about 200,000 people use this infrastructure to access the vast World Wide Web.

Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)
Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The tabloid with the updates of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party Guidelines, is distributed lately without fanfare. The few copies on sale in the newsstands and the majority of people’s lack of interest in official documents, suggest that very soon they will be forgotten. However, to not analyze or question them would be another form of meekly accepting their principles.

From the opposition sector voices are heard describing these new party directives as “tricks and traps from a caste that maintains itself in power.” The foreign press, for its part, has been quick to draw conclusions after a sidelong glance at them, but few have plunged into othe274 points plagued with grandiloquent propositions, commitments that seem to be dreams, and a syntax that is difficult to understand. Continue reading “Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”