Internet Domains, Sovereignty And Freedom / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Of the approximately 7.4 billion people living on the planet, only 3.2 billion are connected to the Internet. (CC)
Of the approximately 7.4 billion people living on the planet, only 3.2 billion are connected to the Internet. (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 25 May 2016 — For Cubans who update their domestic entertainment weekly with the now famous, private and anonymous “Weekly Packet,” a subtitle in bright greenish-yellow letters at the beginning of movies has become familiar. It is the ever present www.gnaula.nu, which appears so frequently that it spurred my curiosity: I found it impossible to recognize what country corresponded to the extension “.nu” so I turned to the always useful Wikipedia.

Surprise. The country where all the movies we watch at home are pirated is Niue, an atoll with the pretensions of a little island, attached to New Zealand. In 1996, an American (who of course doesn’t live in Niue) took the rights to “.nu” and in 2003 founded the Niue Internet Society, and offered to the local authorities to convert the quasi-island into the first wifi nation of the world. The offer was rounded out with a free computer for every child. Nothing spectacular; we’re talking about a population of barely 1,300 people. Continue reading “Internet Domains, Sovereignty And Freedom / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

‘El Sexto’: “Myths are very dangerous, but an idea can break them.” / 14ymedio, Maria Tejero Martin

Danilo Maldonado – known as El Sexto – at the Oslo Freedom Forum. (OFF)
Danilo Maldonado – known as El Sexto – at the Oslo Freedom Forum. (OFF)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Maria Tejero Martin, Oslo, 24 May 2016 – Danilo Maldonado is known as El Sexto the name engraved in ink on his skin and that he paints on the walls of Havana to plant an idea of freedom in his compatriots, like a seed that flourishes and breaks the “dangerous myths” that, he says, surround Cuba.

When he was nine he caused his mother grief when he drew Fidel Castro in his military uniform but with the head of a monkey; by his twenties he had decided to turn himself into the antihero El Sexto (The Sixth), in response to the regime’s campaign to free Los Cinco (The Five), Cuban agents arrested in the United States. Continue reading “‘El Sexto’: “Myths are very dangerous, but an idea can break them.” / 14ymedio, Maria Tejero Martin”

Cuba is Not Brazil or Venezuela / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

The leaders of the so-called wave of 21st Century Socialism, gathered during the creation of the Bank of the South. (DC)
The leaders of the so-called wave of 21st Century Socialism, gathered during the creation of the Bank of the South. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 24 May 2016 – The receding tide of the populist wave in Latin America, in particular the delicate situation in Venezuela and the ouster of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, has uncovered all kinds of speculation about the supposed relationship of cause and effect controlling political-economic and social process in Cuba.

Those who are still waiting for the problems within the island to be solved believe they can be resolved from outside, while the ‘statist fundamentalists’ take advantage of the ‘threat’ to entrench themselves in their anti-democratic and anti-socialist positions.

However, Cuba is not Brazil or Venezuela, in any sense. Its processes have different origins, circumstances and dissimilar dynamics of development and, therefore, an evolution that proceeds along uneven paths. Continue reading “Cuba is Not Brazil or Venezuela / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos”

The Step-Motherland’s Droit de Seigneur / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, greeting Raúl Castro. (EFE / Estudios Revolución)
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, greeting Raúl Castro. (EFE / Estudios Revolución)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 23 May 2016 — Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, recently made his second visit to Cuba. Unlike his first, in November 2014–when the general-president did not deign to meet with him—this time his “highest excellency” Spanish Foreign Minister was emphatically welcomed by the upper echelons of power.

This new attitude between both sides is not so strange, since García-Margallo was in a “democratic” mode in 2014, triggering the olive-green gerontocracy’s suspicion and displeasure. Now, the Chancellor has come solely in a business mode, with the mission to strengthen and expand as much as possible Spain’s investments in Cuba before the resources of the powerful northern neighbor intrude (for a second time) in the territory of the former Spanish colony, once again depriving Spain of its devalued Crown jewel. Continue reading “The Step-Motherland’s Droit de Seigneur / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya”

Lady in White Berta Soler Threatened With Prison / 14ymedio

Berta Soler at the Havana airport. (File / 14ymedio)
Berta Soler at the Havana airport. (File / 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 May 2016 — Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, faces a prison sentence of three months to five years for the alleged crime of resistance. The activist was arrested last Sunday when she attempted to go to the Cathedral of Havana for the inauguration of the new archbishop of the capital. After being charged by the authorities, she is required to available to them at all times and cannot leave Cuba before her trial. “I didn’t become an opponent [of the regime] in order to travel and I am prepared to go to prison if that is the decision. I won’t even get a lawyer,” Soler told 14ymedio.

The group of 31 activists, among them 22 Ladies in White, was intercepted on leaving the Ladies in White’s headquarters in the Lawton neighborhood. The repudiation rally against them before the Sunday Mass was organized for 9 in the morning and involved many people who were not even from the neighborhood. “Although we already knew we wouldn’t be able to get there,” Berta Soler said, “we decided to leave [for the church] because our house is not a jail cell.” As commonly occurs, tempers flared and finally the police arrived to arrest them.

“When they stopped us we sat down, which is a common practice in peace movements around the world, except in Cuba,” Soler emphasized.

Berta Soler was driven to the Alamar neighborhood where, she said, there was “a classroom reserved by the PNR (People’s Revolutionary Police).” At about six or seven in the evening they told her that this time there would be formal charges. “At first they said that I had scratched a policewoman, but eventually they dismissed the charge of attack,” she said.

That night an official who said she was the investigator/prosecutor on her case told her that she was accused of resistance. “I didn’t respond in any way and went to sleep. At a quarter to ten at night they came to find me to sign the accusation but I didn’t sign any document. We (and they as well) have videos that show I never lifted a hand to anyone or attack anyone, not even verbally.”

Berta Soler says she has no problem complying with the requirement that she not leave the country. “At the moment I have no plans for any trip. The closest is an idea to go to Geneva, but that still has not materialized. If before [the trial], or at any time I need to leave the country for some event, they will have to stop me from traveling at the airport itself,” she said.

The date of her trial has not been set.

Rosa María Payá: “Totalitarianism is not broken in Cuba, we can not pretend it is” / EFE (14ymedio), María Tejero Martín

Rosa Maria Paya (Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo)
Rosa Maria Paya (Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), María Tejero Martín, Oslo, 23 May 2016 — Cuban opposition member Rosa María Payá said Monday ,in an interview with EFE, that the “totalitarianism” of the government led by Raul Castro “has not broken” despite the open contact with the United States and the European Union (EU), and so she asked that these approaches be used to achieve “concrete progress.”

“Rapprochement with Cuba is very good, but it depends on how and how it is sold. It also has negative consequences, such as the rest of the world perceiving an internal process of openings toward democracy, and this has not occurred,” said Payá in the Norwegian capital, where she has come to participate in the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF). Continue reading “Rosa María Payá: “Totalitarianism is not broken in Cuba, we can not pretend it is” / EFE (14ymedio), María Tejero Martín”

The New Archbishop Of Havana Confesses To Being “Scared” / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

The new archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez at his inaugural Mass (14ymedio)
The new archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez at his inaugural Mass (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 22 May 2016 – In a packed cathedral with screens showing the mass for those who couldn’t enter the temple, Havana’s new Archbishop, Juan de la Caridad Rodriguez, took possession of his new post this Sunday. The successor to Jaime Ortega y Alamino delivered a homily in which he acknowledged he was “scared” the face of so much responsibility.

“You will understand that I’m scared” and “do not understand the mystery of why I’m here,” said the prelate who also enumerated his wishes that Cubans might “live in peace, eat in peace, work and study in peace, and die in peace.. For which “we dream that no one touches anyone, no one hits anyone, no one, nobody hurts anyone.”

A multitude waited for García Rodríguez from the early hours of the morning in the vicinity of the church. At the front door of the Cathedral Cardinal Ortega y Alamino awaited him, and he opened the ceremony with the crozier in his hands, subsequently handing it over to the new archbishop. On June 29 Pope Francisco will deliver to him in Rome the pallium, a liturgical ornament appropriate to his status.

For Marcia, 66, “it begins a new era for our church and I hope he will bring harmony and respect,” she told this newspaper. Christian and very attentive to ecclesiastical life, the woman notes that “there are high expectations among those who frequently come to this church and people have received the appointment with joy.”

The ceremony on Sunday was attended by several Cuban bishops of various dioceses and the Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski. Government representation was headed by the Vice President of the State Council, Salvador Valdes Mesa and Caridad Diego, head of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

The new archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez presided at the Eucharist accompanied by several concelebrating bishops (14ymedio)
The new archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez presided at the Eucharist accompanied by several concelebrating bishops (14ymedio)

Along with parishioners who usually attend Sunday Mass in Havana’s main church, numerous foreign press correspondents, tourists passing through town and dozens of onlookers also gathered. “This is a historic moment and I came to take pictures and send them to my relatives in Tampa,” a young history student at the University of Havana explained to 14ymedio.

A group of faithful Catholics from the Camaguey region also came to the church. “I am very proud that one of our own has come so far,” Mauritius, age 58 and a resident in Sibanicú told this newspaper. He added, “it has been known for years now that this priest was destined for great challenges.”

Garcia Rodriguez, who served as bishop of Camaguey, was appointed in April by Pope Francis as the new archbishop of Havana. The appointment came after the pope accepted the resignation of former archbishop of the city, Jaime Ortega y Alamino, who had passed the age of 75 years, which is the limit set in the Code of Canon Law.

During the Mass on Sunday a message sent by Pope Francis from the Vatican was read, in which he explained his decision and said that Garcia Rodriguez is “endowed with recognized intellectual and moral qualities,” in addition to enjoying “a wide expertise in the exercise of the pastoral work.”

Born in 1948, the new archbishop of Havana was appointed priest in 1972 and joined the parish of Morón and Ciego de Avila. He was also pastor of Jatibonico and Florida, as well as the founder and director of the School for Missionaries in the diocese of Camagüey, for which was named archbishop in 2002.

Garcia has stressed that he expects his episcopate to serve to increase the dialogue with the Cuban government, so that “the Church can be present in spaces that belong to them, such as education, the media and prison ministry.”

In Search Of The Owner Of The City / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco

Camagüey is one of Cuba's largest cities and is more than 500 years old (14ymedio)
Camagüey is one of Cuba’s largest cities and is more than 500 years old (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco, Camagüey, 21 May 2016 — Every city rests on the man who safeguards it. He can be called mayor, administrator or public official; ultimately the label is the least important. This is his charge, like the steward of the millionaire’s mansion. His obligation lies in the zeal with which he is able to optimize the performance of the city’s people. For this he counts on public economic resources and the necessary personnel.

He is, almost always—as he always should be—the ideal citizen. He is the man everyone knows, who knows everyone’s name and where they live, because, among his reasons for being, his priority is to be ready to hear the needs of the last inhabitant of the village at any time. Continue reading “In Search Of The Owner Of The City / 14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco”

Filmmakers Reaffirm Their Demands / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

A meeting of the Cuban Filmmakers G20 group held last year in the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural Center. Standing is Juan Carlos Cremata a recently censored Cuban filmmaker. (14ymedio)
A meeting of the Cuban Filmmakers G20 group held last year in the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural Center. Standing is Juan Carlos Cremata a recently censored Cuban filmmaker. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 21 May 2016 – Three years after the first meeting of the G20, a group of Cuban filmmakers who are demanding a Film Law, the group continues to wait for an institutional response that addresses their demands. This week a letter was made public reaffirming their demands for greater recognition for filmmakers and the legalization of independent productions, among other benefits.

Ignored by the official media and frowned upon by the authorities who should be responding to these demands, the group has also been transformed over its three years of existence. Exhausted, worn out and with the responsibility of other commitments, a group that formerly contained 22 names now has only eight members. Continue reading “Filmmakers Reaffirm Their Demands / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

Revolutions and Democracy / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Entry of Fidel Castro into Havana in 1959 (Camilo Cienfuegos, Fidel Castro and (in profile) Huber Matos). (File)
Entry of Fidel Castro into Havana in 1959 (Camilo Cienfuegos, Fidel Castro and (in profile) Huber Matos). (File)

We observe a man who always speaks of patriotism and he is never patriotic, or only with regards to those of a certain class or certain party. We should fear him, because no one shows more faithfulness nor speaks more strongly against robbery than the thieves themselves.

Felix Varela (in El Habanero, 1824)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 19 May 2016 – Observing the tranquil surface of Cuban society offers a misleading impression. The stagnation is localized only in the government and in the party; and even there it is not very reliable. There is no doubt that many party members participated in and observed the 7th Congress of Cuban Communist Party (PCC) hoping for changes and, watching the direction of the presidential table, dutifully (and resignedly, why not) voted one more time unanimously.

Outside this context, where one thing is said but what is thought may be something else, there is right now a very interesting debate in which all parties believe themselves to be right. The most commonly used concepts to defend opposing theses can be covered in the perceptions of revolution and democracy, which each person conceptualizes according to his or her own line of thinking. Continue reading “Revolutions and Democracy / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula”

Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)
Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 May 2016 — A small protest convoy and a demand by a group of bicycle taxi (pedicab) operators at the Plaza of the Revolution; indignation and astonishment among producers and traders about the arbitrary and unannounced closing of the wholesale market for agricultural products in the capital; irritation of several citizens who verbally attacked the policemen who were trying to maltreat a blind and helpless beggar, who was at the Carlos III marketplace; a sit down strike led by workers at a cigar factory in the city of Holguín over wages… These are some of the events that demonstrate both the state of dissatisfaction and frustration that are taking shape in Cuba’s population, the emergence of a sense of questioning the system and the incipient rebellion against the power and the authorities that represent it.

It is without a doubt, good news. The bad news is that social balance becomes dangerously fragile in a society where rights and prosperity have been banned, where institutions respond fully to the interests of the parasite power, where any opposition to the government is illegal and where public debate and dialogue between the power and “governed” are non-existent. Continue reading “Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya”

Fidel And Raul Castro “Are Very, Very Spanish” / 14ymedio

José Manuel García-Margallo during the interview in the Breakfasts program on Spanish Television (TVE). (Video Capture)
José Manuel García-Margallo during the interview in the Breakfasts program on Spanish Television (TVE). (Video Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 18 May 2016 — The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo, in an interview on Spanish Television on Wednesday, defended his meeting with Raul Castro in Cuba, recalling the ties that unite the two countries, among them the “Spanishness” of the Castros.

“In Cuba, apart from human relationships, Fidel and Raul’s father was a soldier who fought with our troops [on the Spanish side] in [Cuba’s war of] independence, and then turned. They are very very Spanish,” he said. Continue reading “Fidel And Raul Castro “Are Very, Very Spanish” / 14ymedio”

Jose Daniel Ferrer Gets a Passport / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)
José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 18 May 2016 – Government opponent José Daniel Ferrer received his new passport on Tuesday, and will be able to travel outside the country for the first time. The former prisoner of the Black Spring has permission to leave the country only once, according to information from Cuban authorities. During his trip he plans to visit the United States and several European countries, according to what he told this newspaper.

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) will fly to Florida on Wednesday, where his plans to visit his mother and brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer, also a former political prisoner. “I want to see many good Cubans, especially those who in one way or another support the cause of the democratization of Cuba. I want to hug them,” he said.

Ferrer also plans to go to the Swiss city of Geneva, to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council, and then he will visit Spain. “If I have the time I want to go to Poland, to the Gdansk shipyards, where the great demonstrations of the Solidarity Union took place,” he told 14ymedio.

Earlier this year, Ferrer received, along with other former political prisoners, the Homo Homini Prize awarded each year by the Czech NGO People in Need, for his contribution “in an outstanding way to the promotion of human rights, democracy and the non-violent resolution of political conflicts.” None of the award recipients were able to attend to the award ceremony because of travel restrictions imposed on them by the Cuban government.

Pedicabs, A Battle For The Streets / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Pedicab in Havana. (14ymedio)
Pedicab in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 16 May 2016 — A fine drizzle falls on the city and Felix, a pedicab driver for 22 years, takes advantage of the chance to take a break. Beside Havana’s Capitol building the man recalls a protest held last Monday by a group of his colleagues in the Plaza of the Revolution. They were demanding the right to use several streets that are now closed to their tricycles, along with less harassment from inspectors.

From a pocket in his fanny-pack he extracts a wad of papers and displays them with chagrin. They are the traffic fines that have been imposed on him so far this year, some thirty folded gray papers from the many he displays. Every one bears a stamp where we can read the word “paid.” Continue reading “Pedicabs, A Battle For The Streets / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

Cuban Phone Company to Block “Blacklisted” Phones / 14ymedio

Cuba’s phone company says that its new measures are to prevent fraudulent use of lost or stolen phones. (DC)
Cuba’s phone company says that its new measures are to prevent fraudulent use of lost or stolen phones. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2016 – Cuba’s government-owned phone company, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), has announced that starting this Wednesday, May 18, new rules will come into effect for cellphones which will more strongly control their use.

According to the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), the measures will include an automatic blocking of a line if the SIM card inserted in the phone is on the “blacklist.” Continue reading “Cuban Phone Company to Block “Blacklisted” Phones / 14ymedio”