Temperamental Old Coots / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The issue is not just about winning the argument with the United States. It’s also about a legacy created 55 years ago. Of what use to us are their perspectives, when ambitions fade with the passage of time”

The leaders of Cuba are well past working age. Small changes occur at the hands of his brother, Raúl Castro, another long-lived individual who has lived his life and realized the goals he set for himself. What are his ambitions today?

The Cuban desires progress and is at the mercy of old men. Are they perhaps different from others of their age group? As far as I know, an old man does not have the same drive as a young person who is just beginning to face the challenges of the future. Continue reading

And Where’s My Flag? / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Taken from the Internet

Since mid-June the world has experienced a joy at the rhythm of a round ball and the colorful Football World Cup in Brazil.

In Cuba it’s been a great party, although with great regret that we can’t enjoy our own team in this event. One of the dreams of a good Cuban is to be able to see a team from the Island get to that event and make a good show. Although still far from our chances, we see African teams ascending and early goodbyes from the Cup for favored European teams. “Our day will come,” say some of the fanatics at the “Baseball Rock” in Central Park, today converted to game with a single ball and goals.

A Cuban “knows everything,” and when it comes to sports, “No one will put a foot forward.” We don’t like to lose and although no one playing the gigantic South American stadium today is Cuban, we raise our hands for our foreign team, calculate our own standings and hoist the flag, on our rooftops, balconies, doorways, or even on our cars, phones and even clothes. Continue reading

A Creative Proposal / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

2011-01-30-DSC08153Sitting at a bus stop waiting for the bus are the Gonzalez brothers. Among children’s stories and entertaining laughter one hears the surprising proclamation of a 65-year-old man.

“I will give you 80 centavos for one Cuban pesos,” says the man. The Gonzalez brothers stop talking and, in whispers, question the gentleman’s offer. They listen over and over but only pretend to hear.

It’s been thirty minutes and the tiredness starts to set in, with no place to sit down, the brothers watch the entrepreneur of 2014. “So far no one has approached him to make the exchange,” says one brother to the other.

Hours and hours pass for the man to earn 20 centavos for every Cuban peso.

But for every Cuban peso people use to pay the bus fare — 40 centavos — they lose the remaining 60 centavos because they don’t have change.

19 May 2014

The Drug Trafficking Country / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Chapultepec Castle

Mexico City is one of the safest places for the families of the kingpins of the Mexican mafia. In spite of having a corrupt government, the politicians know the importance of protecting the capital. Even though drug trafficking is out at the doorstep.

Alejandro has awakened — silence does not exist — the sirens of patrol cars, ambulances or fire trucks are part of the vitality of the city. He can check his cellphone for today’s smog index in the area.

Walking towards an OXXO store his eyes water because of the pollution. Today most residents will not go out into the streets unless necessary. Some vehicles also are prohibited from circulating in order to reduce pollution.

The decision to go out into the street intimidates him a little because of the stories he has heard, the violence and disputes of the mafia in that country. In spite of the rumors,

Alejandro begins to adapt to the Mexican climate and society (very polite). The mafia stories begin to form a part of a myth (it exists), but he is confident. Another day begins, and Alejandro walking to the bread store observes a display of federal police, awaiting some supposed protest march.

The image of the police does not affect him but the tranquility of expecting to close the streets with railing close to four meters tall. They do not permit passage but nor do they refuse the right to protest or demand something. That is something called DEMOCRACY.

Translated by mlk.

14 April 2014

ETECSA’s New Offers May be Affecting the Cuban Network / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Alfredo has tried several times to get in touch with his brother. He doesn’t bother with sending an SMS because he has sent various messages on other occasions which haven’t arrived on time.

Following ETECSA informing most of its users of the new service, they can access their emails via NAUTA.cu from their mobile phones. The SMS service won’t work as it did before.

These problems with ETECSA’s service have affected all the Cuban government’s opponents, even leaving them without access to the internet. But what’s happening now is no more than possible overloading being experienced by ETECSA in carrying out what they have promised.

Does ETECSA have the ability to offer a quality service?

Another one of the services affected is MMS. In spite of the fact that it isn’t popular among Cubacel’s users because they don’t know about it. Those people who have been able to use it have found it difficult to send an MMS.

“Yesterday I sent a photo of her granddaughter to my mother and she wasn’t able to see it because the service isn’t working”, said Michel.

Is ETECSA going to get worse? Just as everything that the government touches does. Or is it just a question of getting used to a poor to middling service quality which varies from month to month?

Translated by GH

17 March 2014

The .cu / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Web domain for newcomers or daredevils.

For many, the designation .cu is a way to identify the country on the internet. But for the most accomplished netizens it remains a place very little in demand.

The .cu indicates mistrust, ease of hacking, promotion of the reading of personal sites by third parties—little privacy. Anyway, there are no encrypted sites [https] to protect visitors.

Why does .cu even exist? For those who want to share with the DSE (Department of State Security). For that reason it has ceased to be a domain visited by Cuban dissidents. Except for rookies with only a few hours in front of a computer.

To summarize, I would use .cu, but only when accompanied by a good HTTPPSSSSSSSSSSSS

Translated by Tomás A.

14 March 2014

CELAC, A Meeting with Absolute Power / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

This time Cuba is the president of a young organization with ideas of uniting Latin America and the Caribbean. In its second summit, held in Havana, the government leaders faced a question: Will Latin America and the Caribbean be a unified movement, similar to the Soviet Union?

One of the visible purposed those countries have is to distance themselves from capitalism and latch on to the example of a government that will go down in history as the most manipulative and lying government in the history of humanity, “that’s saying a lot, but it’s the reality.”

To avoid at all costs exporting any benefits that don’t belong to the government, declaring that it is a resource invested in the people, but it’s true purpose is to enrich itself with greater eternal power.

There will be a lot of dialog and agreements undertaken at the meeting, everything always rose-colored by the state mass media, no disagreements will come to light that could concern the followers and trumpeters of the Castro “promise.” So far the only thing he’s accomplished is keeping his beard as symbol of having accomplished nothing in Cuba.

27 January 2014

The Cuban Government Mocks its Citizens / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The Cuban government reaffirms to its citizens that transformations are directed towards psychological oppression, and at the same time it mocks Cubans as a way of demonstrating absolute power.

The law approved in January 2014 by the Cuban president — the sale of automobiles — reveals the great achievements that will be realized in 2014 by the present governing system.

With the development of approved prices for the acquisition of an automobile ranging up to a quarter of a million (250 thousand dollars) the news caused many capital residents laughter and disappointment for those who were planning to buy a car in better and more current condition.

One of those affected, Reinier Corrales, 45 years old, resident of Arroyo Naranja, considers that he sold his Toyota at 18 thousand convertible pesos (CUC) in order to improve by another more modern one.

“And now what do I do,” anguished Corrales asks, “I planned to trade up and not even my house is worth what the government wants for a 2013 car,” he says.

Reinier and many others have been affected by this decadent and brutal situation of supersonic price manipulation that the government has established through 55 years of totalitarian power. Continue reading

Cuba Will See Itself Forced to Open Amateur Sports to Professionalism / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

With the decline of sports facilities on the island, the Cuban government it taking drastic measures in order to keep sports alive, based on already failed communist ideals. A situation that corners the Castro government so that for once, it will open the doors to professionalism.

Havana province has the majority of high-performance sports facilities, which over time have lost the competitive fundamentals critical to the development of Cuban sports.

Some reference installations

East Havana, an area of the capital, benefited by being the site of the Pan American Games in 1991, with the construction of the “Villa Panamericana” (a sports complex that includes facilities such as the Velodrome (Cycling), athletics, tennis, pools etc). Currently it is here that we find the only stadium of athletics (Olympic) “still not over” that can be used for international competitions. The stadium provides high performance athletes — world champions or finalists, Panamericans, Central Americans — “comfortable rooms” located in the same building, where the bed can injure you or the ceiling can give you a shower in rainy weather.

“Bare Hill” as the capital residents know it, is the ESFAAR, Training School of High Performance Athletes. From the street people can see its damaged structure and contemplate the broken windows during practices for volleyball, basketball, fencing, boxing and other sports. Continue reading

ETECSA, Internet and Cuban Society / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Some 0.004% of the Cuban population will connect to the Web.

Starting on June 4, 2013, 472 people (maximum) will be the daily human traffic going to a NAUTA Internet cafe, approximately 0.004% of the Cuban population.

The state-owned telephone company, ETECSA, is expanding its Internet services to the “population” — 472 is the maximum that can be served daily. The navigation speed will be 2 Mbps (megabytes per second) which is equivalent to 2 mil, 48 Kbps (Kilobytes per second), a speed faster than the 50 Kb on telephone connections and better than the satellite connections can reach speeds on the Island of up to 300 Kbps.

According to the article published in the newspaper Granma, 118 rooms will be opened, more than the 99 previously. The internet rooms will be identified with the NAUTA stamp with which ETECSA is commercializing its navigation services in the country.

All this has arisen with of the activation of the fiber optic cable obtained from the Cuba-Venezuela economic agreements. Which brings a space of freedom to the “supervised” world wide web. Where the majority of users will be human rights defenders on the Island. Thus the government is certain to control the population’s use of this technology.

One measure that has come to light is the prohibition on voice traffic. But it reflects the free navigation as well as the ups and downloads with equal status. The cost will drop to 3 CUC (over $3 U.S.) equivalent to 75 Cuban pesos.

The Cuban population has unreasonably delayed access to technology, where all these technological changes itself bring social blockade. The aging of the population will be a critical factor, as older people will show little interest to the coming changes as reflected the inability of people to navigate cyberspace.

3 June 2013

Cuban Hospitals Don’t Offer Complete Service / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The poor hygiene threatens the health of the patient

The Julio Trigo and The Dependent Hospitals don’t offer full service. Doctors choose to give basic treatment to avoid complications due to lack of hygiene and the poor condition of patient rooms.

An unnamed doctor “Julio Trigo” says that he has been forced to send patients for home treatment. “I should not be so, but the hospital is horrifying conditions, cockroaches walking through walls, this is a disaster!” Says the doctor.

Julio Trigo Hospital is the main one for the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo and The Dependent Hospital is one of the main hospitals for the municipality of Cerro. They have lost the confidence of the residents of the two areas, according to  the comments of delegates (one delegate from Cerro and one from Arroyo Naranjo) from each municipality, who did not want to be identified.

An unnamed doctor at “Julio Trigo” says that he has been forced to send patients home for treatment. “I should not be so, but the hospital conditions are horrifying, cockroaches walking along walls, this is a disaster!” Says the doctor.

Marielena Garcia, 45, accompanying a patient explains she was waiting for her mom to get better to take her from the hospital to finish the treatment at home. “I was sitting on the side of the bed and a cockroach dropped on my face. The beds are dirty, you even get the smell of urine, you have to bring several sheets to avoid complications of infection,” says Garcia.

An unnamed doctor at The Dependent Hospital says that all the patients who come to the hospital complain about dirt. “It’s a risk to send the patient home, but better than the complications with bacteria,” said the doctor.

Alfredo Gonzalez, 32, says that in the middle of 2012 he went to The Dependent Hospital with a deep machete wound and almost lost his leg to an infection acquired from instruments that weren’t disinfected.

Maria Rodriguez, 48, says she’s complained about the management, but never had the chance to see the hospital director in person.

The country has refurbished hospitals in the capital, but after a year many are back to the previous bad condition. The chairs, the beds and the drinking fountains reflect the care of the people and the workers.

20 May 2013

How Can We Help? / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

How can we help?  Was one question asked of the blogger Yoani Sánchez in Miami. Where people like the Cuban-American Felice Gorordo and his friend the Frenchman Philippe Houdard were present at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts. When the same question was also asked: How can we help?

The two friends agreed to send materials to Cuba and to establish a new collection point at Pipeline, a work area in Brickell Avenue owned by Houdard and used primarily by employers in the digital age.

Sanchez had given a response several times, how people could help. Sending to Cuba laptops, USB flash drives, cell phones that work on the island, tablets and iPads, CDs and DVDs. Everything that can serve to improve communication and information for Cubans.

But who is responsible for this task? The arrival of this help for everyone is very important for the Cuban opposition.

It is also true that the Cuban opposition on the island is made up of people who want real change and the implementation of human rights. But there are also opportunistic individuals who are pursuing the material for personal gain, thus creating obstacles to the people who need the technology or help to develop their work.

I would be inclined to focus on two people who have shown me that all this help reaches the right hands. Yoani Sanchez and Reinaldo Escobar are the ones!

13 May 2013