Martha Beatriz Roque Asks to Return to Prison in Solidarity With Jose Daniel Ferrer

Martha Beatriz Roque during an event in Miami. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 August 2018 — The former political prisoner of the 2003 Black Spring Group of 75, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, was detained for some hours by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) on Monday morning after leaving her home, activist Tania De la Torre Montesinos confirmed to 14ymedio.

At the time of the arrest, Roque Cabello, an economist by profession, went to the State Security Room of the Provincial Court of Havana to deliver a letter requesting the revocation of her extrapenal license, in solidarity with the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), José Daniel Ferrer.

“They detained her in Santa Catalina street, at the corner of her house, and they kept her for a few minutes in the police car but then released her because she had hypoglycemia and they told her that she could not leave her house,” added De la Torre. continue reading

Roque Cabello, once recovered from the health incident, went out into the street and confronted the officers, telling them that her house was not a prison, according to the testimony of De la Torre. The PNR troops arrested her again and put her in the police car, and as of now her whereabouts are unknown.

According to the acitvist,  an officer who claimed to be called Miguel, prohibited her from visiting the Swedish embassy, where she usually connects to the internet. They also seized the letter she intended to present to the courts.

In the letter that Roque Cabello wanted to deliver to the authorities, the dissident specifies that if they do not revoke the measure of extrapenal leave with which she left prison in 2004, she prefers to face the same fate as José Daniel Ferrer and return to prison.

“At the time it was decided to grant the extrapenal license to the group of 75 we were all released. Ten of us sanctioned on this cause are in Cuba and we are in a legal limbo, but in freedom. If we can not all be together on the street, my personal decision is to return to prison as they have imprisoned José Daniel Ferrer,” wrote Roque Cabello.

José Daniel Ferrer was arrested on 3 August after an automobile accident in which an agent of the Ministry of the Interior was involved. Last Friday, the prosecution filed charges against the Unpacu leader for “attempted murder.” Some opponents consider that the accusation against Ferrer to be a charade to decapitate one of the largest opposition groups on the island.

Roque Cabello was the only woman in the group of 75 dissidents sentenced to long sentences for crimes against state security in 2003, an event that shocked international public opinion, known as the Black Spring. That was her second conviction, as in 1997 she was tried for signing the document La Patria es de todos (The Fatherland Belongs to Everyone) when she was part of the Internal Dissidence Working Group.

With the mediation of the Catholic Church and the collaboration of Spain, the Government of Raúl Castro decided to release the dissidents in exchange for their departure from the country. Roque Cabello, who had earlier benefited from an extra-penal license for health reasons, is part of the group of opponents who refused to leave the island, along with José Daniel Ferrer, national coordinator of Unpacu and Ángel Moya, husband of Berta Soler, current president of the Ladies in White.

Roque Cabello leads the Network of Community Journalists and Communicators, which has collaborators in several provinces of the country.

 ______________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba

Open Letter to All the Cuban Artists and Intellectuals

A group of artists are protesting the decree and are being repressed.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Sandra Ceballos, Havana | 14 August 2018 – Cuban artists and intellectuals have to unite. Cuban artists and intellectuals can not remain passive in the face of such ignominy and repression. In many parts of the world people have the right to disagree and demand justice, demand modifications and changes. There is also the right to demonstrate and strike. Of course, in places where there is democracy, the individual thought of man is respected.

Most of the artists and intellectuals do not agree with the entire Decree of Law 349, but they speak behind closed doors and not in public. Nevertheless,  there is a group of artists who are protesting and are being repressed, imprisoned and physically injured. They are accused of delinquency and mediocrity, a strategy that is very vulgar and pathetic; but, for the most part,  these are young intellectuals and artists who are raising their voices publicly, who are just thinking about our economic assets and properties, international events and family peace. What a shame!

Some of these artists, like Amaury Pacheco and his wife Iris (from Omni Zonafranca), have four children, live in precarious conditions and dare to defend our cause. Others like Yanelys Núñez and Luis Manuel Otero have for several years performed, exhibited and sculpted. Of course, I understand the discrimination, since he did not graduate from ISA (Higher Institute of Art), nor from San Alejandro, and therefore is not a member of the institutional guild. What a pity. Of course not a pity for him, but for the guild. Undoubtedly these artists are fighting for the right to independence of  their ideals, the right to disagree, and the right to choose, which are nothing more than human rights. continue reading

The events in the San Isidro neighborhood clearly demonstrated to the world the violence and mistreatment perpetrated by the Cuban authorities towards the artists. But something very shocking happened: the neighbors of the community came to the defense of the artists and expressed their indignation at the actions taken against them. Finally, repression generates rebellion. Violence generates violence.

If we do not unite, we will end up having to ask permission to hang our works on the walls of our homes and studios; we will have to allow the authorities to enter our houses  and take away our equipment and personal property; we will have to present projects to the authorities for approval before we can celebrate them in a  party in our homes.

It will be necessary to ask the institutions what subjects we can adress in our works, we will have to forget that the patriotic symbols represent us, we will have to look at them as something unattainable, untouchable, alien. We will have to lower our heads in order not to lose the legal status of the Creator’s Registry.

The artists that do not belong to the small institutional ghetto will end up selling pizzas or fritters, or worse, painting slogans or the antique cars seen on the streets of Havana. This is going to end very badly if we continue to allow them to mistreat those who are raising their voices for us if we do not support them.

I ask myself where are the Cuban intellectuals and artists, where is the warrior spirit that Maceo taught us, where is the solidarity and dignity of the Cubans. Until when will we be sitting on ambition and selfishness. Will we have to wait until they have died in the ditches or other “accidents”? We must go to the institutions and express our disagreement, we must sign the letter opposing Law 349 that is circulating on the internet. Do not let the authorities divide us by sowing distrust and fear amongst ourselves. Let us not allow their blackmail and threats.

If we do not unite, we will say in chorus: Happy new 1960!

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

_________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Ideology? "I Don’t Have Any"

‘Epic Book’ has all the keys to a show of impersonation in the style of those who perform at the Las Vegas cabaret, in the Infanta street in Havana, or in El Mejunje de Santa Clara (deskgram.org)

14ymedio bigger

14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz, Camagüey | 14 August 2018 — The complicity that is established among the spectators creates the perfect climate for Epic Book, a staging every Sunday of July and August that makes Camaguey residents shake with laughter. In a key of sarcasm, the piece questions the excessive militarization of the Island and the early ideological indoctrination of children.

In the hands of the director David Pimentel Martín, the company Noventísimo Performance Project does not skimp on ironies in the Café Teatro of the Camagüey headquarters of the Hermanos Saíz Association (AHS). From the minute the spectators arrive at the theater they encounter a mixture of chaotic insolence and self-confidence that ridicules the so-called values of Cuban socialist society.

So much irreverence, combined with acomplished and multifaceted acting, have turned Epic Book into a phenomenon in the midst of the province’s August heat, where high temperatures are often met with few high quality cultural options. The dialog runs and, before the sharpness of the work, some fall out laughing and others hide their guilt. continue reading

“The same burning, the same palm, the same plague, the cow is mounted on the truck, not for pleasure, out of necessity,” are the phrases that greet the spectators from the poster announcing the performances. In that surrealist image, is condensed a lot of the brazen criticism that begins as soon as the first speeches are declaimed.

Pimentel clarifies to the spectators that the Noventísimo Performance Project has a “pinkish fuchsia color” and that the year in which he was inactive was not because his members were traveling abroad, but because they were “birthing.” The laughter bursts out and there is always some clueless visitor who turns red up to his ears, his face clearly showing that he’s in the wrong place.

Epic Book has all the keys to a show of impersonations in the style of those who perform at the Las Vegas cabaret, in Infanta street in Havana, or in El Mejunje in Santa Clara. However, the playful show is punctuated with scathing dialogues that include everything from José Martí’s verses, through the rhymes of Bonifacio Byrne to the songs of Luis Casas Romero.

As an element that gives the piece a very current context, the burning theme of homosexual marriage is touched, which ignites the passions in the debate on the constitutional reform. The active opposition of the conservative religious sectors is shown in opposition to the demands of the LGBTI community.

Thus, Pimentel weaves speeches that whistle like darts towards the symbolic pillars of the system. One of them, in the worst Soviet style very common in the 70s and 80s of the last century, is the one that promoted the moral stimuli of the ‘vanguard’ workers, among which there were abundant diplomas that filled the walls of the grandparents and parents of those who today look with indifference or ridicule on so much paraphernalia.

In a cathartic act, the spectators gathered on the terrace of the AHS must shatter the vanguard diploma given to them a little earlier. Rip, rip, rip, they tear the paper, which for many of them represents a past full of false promises of the future. Rip, rip, rip and the pieces fall on the hard ground of a reality quite different from the one they were led to believe was just around the corner.

It is not clear to whom Epic Book expresses that marked apathy of the Cuban millennials, the emphasis comes in the voice of an actress who declaims: “Ideology, I do not have any.” The phrase, said with the emphasis of a Little Pioneer reciting her fidelity to Che at the morning assembly at an elementary school, summarizes the protective mechanism in which these grown children have taken refuge among the so-called anti-imperialist grandstands and the television Roundtables.

The most accomplished moment of the work is precisely the poetic replay of words from the classic poem Abdala by José Martí. A few verses that every Cuban child has had to recite at some other time, but in the context of Pimentel’s piece it presents a sharp questioning of certain concepts such as patriotism and duty.

When the lights go out and the voices stop echoing, people return home, still processing what they have just seen on the stage. In spite of the laughter and epic tone of Epic Book, a feeling of uneasiness settles on the spectators, as if the actors had completely exploded any remaining utopian bubble they had left.

 ___________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Released But Charges Against Him Remain

José Daniel Ferrer, national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 15 August 2018 — On Wednesday morning the authorities freed José Daniel Ferrer, national coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who had been detained for 12 days accused of “attempted murder.

As confirmed by Ferrer himself to 14ymedio via telephone, the charges against him remain. “There was only a change of custody from pre-trial detention to immediate release,” explained the government opposition figure. During the press conference at the headquarters of the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami, in which he participated by telephone, the opponent reported that he had been psychologically tortured and that the conditions of his detention were “horrendous.”

“They held me in a completely dark place,” denounced Ferrer, who described the cell where he was held as “dirty and stinking.” The opponent denounced the “continuous interrogation” to which he was subjected and the threats of revoking the probationary license with which he was released from prison in 2011. Ferrer said he was not beaten. continue reading

Ferrer was released during a visit by his relatives, said Carlos Oliva, a member of UNPACU. “They brought him to the headquarters of UNPACU in a small bus,” he added.

“Castroism is in a big offensive against the democrats of the region and especially against the Cuban democrats,” said Rosa María Payá, who leads the Cuba Decides initiative to which UNPACU is linked. Payá sympathized with Ferrer and added that “all Cubans are hostages [of the Government] and especially members of the opposition.”

Payá denounced the arrest of Jorge Luis García Pérez who was in Placetas, in the municipality of Villa Clara where he resides. Antúnez, as the activist is known, was summoned together with his wife, Magalis Rivaflechas, to the Immigration offices in relation to the prohibition that weighs on both of them to not leave the country. Once there they told him that the ban would continue because when he was previously in Miami he met with “terrorists.”

Antúnez and his wife recently denounced the murder at the hands of the police of Alejandro Pupo Echemendía, 46, who was being held at a station while being investigated for a horse-racing offense.

Payá requested the support of the international community to pressure the Island’s Government and to demand respect for the integrity of the activists. Ferrer, for his part, denounced the current process of constitutional reform in the country and said that his organization will continue to campaign for a No vote.

Ferrer was arrested with activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz after an incident involving Interior Ministry official Dainier Suárez Pagán, who was allegedly hit by a car driven Ferrer while driving without license.

The agent Suárez Pagán is known by government opponents inthe city of Palmarito de Cauto for being violent and besieging activists. According to the judicial version, Ferrer tried to run over him while crossing the street, a statement that was denied by opponents shortly before Ferrer’s arrest.

Hidalgo Cruz was released without charges. “They forced me to say that José Daniel was guilty, that he had run into the officer with the car,” denounced the activist in a video released last Sunday by UNPACU.

The activist also said that he was questioned four times and threatened by the agents with keeping him prisoner. “I told them not to press me anymore, that I was not going to make any more statements,” he explained, regarding the agents’ insistence that he affirm that José Daniel’s aggression against the agent was deliberate.

José Daniel Ferrer García presides over UNPACU, an organization he founded in 2011 after his release on parole as part of the Group of 75 dissidents from the 2003 Black Spring that Cuban justice condemned to decades in prison. After negotiations between the Government of Raúl Castro and the Catholic Church in which Spain also participated, the dissidents who were imprisoned were freed and many of them went into exile.

 ____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Police Captain, Rafter and Now Under Arrest in the US for the Disappearance of Two Women

Video of Hareton Jaime Rodríguez Sariol and other rafters arriving on the Florida coast. No subtitles.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton/Manual Mons, Miami, 16 August 2018 — Hareton Jaime Rodríguez Sariol, a former captain in Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police (PNR), who arrived in Miami as a rafter in 2016, dressed in full uniform, has been arrested as the main suspect in the disappearance of two Colombian women in the state of Virginia.

Elizabeth Rodríguez Rubio, 48, and her granddaughter Angie Carolina Rodríguez Rubio, 12, were last seen on Sunday, 5 August, in the city of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia.

They were accompanied by Rodriguez Sariol to the state of Maryland, where they reside. The police issued an alert on 7 August for the disappearance of the child and her grandmother. continue reading

The vehicle in which Rodriguez Sariol was transporting both women, a red Honda Civic, was found in flames on Interstate 66. After this the suspect drove a 2000 Volvo truck on the 6th and 7th of August to different places in the country.

Rodriguez Sariol was arrested in Lackawanna, Pennsylvania and continues to be questioned, police sources confirmed to this newspaper.

“The captain was madly in love with that woman. They met at an English school where they studied and then they left. She wanted to get married to get the papers,” says a source close to Rodriguez Sariol who agreed to speak with 14ymedio on condition of anonymity. According to this source, the Cuban was “obsessed” with the woman.

The vehicle Rodriguez Sariol was driving in with both women, a red Honda Civic, was found in flames in Interstate 66. (Courtesy)

“Hareton was a creep, he got his license in Texas and for a month he lived in his car outside the company he managed in Washington DC. She visited him on Fridays, when the captain got paid and gave her all the money. The woman lived with a son I never knew,” he adds.

David Barrero, son of Elizabeth Rodríguez Rubio and uncle of Angie Carolina Rodríguez Rubio, told local media that the family is very stressed by what happened. “Most of us have nightmares at night,” he said, adding that his sister and other relatives have distributed leaflets in Harrisonburg and other nearby cities.

The police set up a local crime line at (540) 574-5050 and is asking those who have information about both women to contact the authorities.

Rodríguez Sariol arrived in the United States in April 2016 aboard a raft with 25 other emigrants when the wet foot/dry foot policy was still in effect, which granted refuge to all Cubans who stepped foot on US territory.

The video that documents part of his journey went viral on social networks because he and another officer, Michel Herrera, arrived dressed in their PNR uniforms. As they said at the time, they did not take off their uniforms to avoid being arrested when they arrived on the boat on the coast.

El capitán, as his acquaintances call him for his rank in the national transportation directorate in Cuba, denied having repressed dissidents or participating in acts of repudiation against the opposition, in several interviews he granted to the South Florida media.

Angie and Elizabeth Rodriguez Rubio. Granddaughter and granddaughter respectively, have been missing since the beginning of the month when Hareton Jaime Rodriguez Sariol drove them to his home. (Courtesy Facebook)

The group of rafters left Guanabo, east of Havana and were at sea for more than 30 hours before arriving in the United States. Once in the country, Rodriguez Sariol received help from the US Government and settled in Virginia.

Marino Ramírez, a Cuban who has lived in the United States for more than 10 years, met Rodriguez Sariol at the Church of the Nazarene. “He was a serious man, but very kind. He always expressed his desire to bring his family from Cuba,” Ramírez told this newspaper. Still on the island are Rodriguez Sariol’s mother and a sister, as well as other relatives.

Maurice Naranjo worked as a representative for the Cuban Haitian Entrant Program, a federal program administered by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to host and relocate Cubans and Haitians with “parole” status (on probation until they regularize their status in the country), and that’s how he met Rodriguez Sariol.

“He seemed like a decent person. Being a police captain in Cuba did not influence his behavior. He was kind and expressed several times his desire to do everything possible to get ahead and find a job. He was helped with several federal and state benefits,” he said.

Naranjo can not believe that Rodriguez Sariol is involved in the disappearance of two people. “The police contacted me to ask me some questions about him and I could not believe it. I thought they were talking about someone else,” he added.

________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

A Discreet Test of Internet for Mobile Phones Unleashes Frustrations

A young man connected to the wifi network in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 15 August 2018 — A young woman was talking on the phone in a café when someone at the next table overheard the conversation. In a few minutes everyone in the place had their eyes glued to their cellphones to test the mobile internet they’d heard about in that private dialogue. The Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa) did not say a word, but at 11 am on Tuesday morning thousands of customers across the country knew that it was the moment they had been waiting for, for years.

Neither the official website of Etecsa, the state communications monopoly, nor its public communication office revealed that tests were being undertaken of the web connection; it was only uncovered by independent journalism sites and private accounts on the social networks. Thus, after two decades of delay and surrounded by institutional secrecy, Cubans peered into the World Wide Web from their cell phones. The experience was exciting but the technical problems generated more frustration than hope.

Congestion preventing the opening of web pages, continuous crashes causing the loss of data signals to phones, and an inability to see the images in applications with multimedia content were some of the most common difficulties suffered by thirsty netizens who expected to set sail in the virtual world, but were barely able splash on the shore of the WWW. continue reading

“I’ve spent 20 minutes and I have not been able to open a single digital site,” complained a boy who had learned about the “pilot test” through a friend who works at Etecsa. “They told the employees not to say anything but everyone who has a friend spread the word,” he says. By the end of the day, he had managed to “enter Facebook Messenger and write a couple of messages,” in addition to reading “half of an article, because it wouldn’t completely load,” from a newspaper in Florida.

The disappointed young man was only nine when, in February 2011, the Alba-1 submarine cable connected Cuba with Venezuela. At that time the majority of Etecsa users thought that the Internet was around the corner, but mismanagement and the ruling party’s fear that citizens would actively launch themselves on the web delayed connectivity.

After that came a long period of concealment and evasions. Official voices insisted that the government was going to opt for the “social use” of the new technologies, but it maintained prices for web browsing that had no relationship to national salaries. Wi-Fi zones were also born, a last attempt to delay the arrival of the web in the private space, but at least this addressed millions of people’s the appetite for communication and need for contact.

Connectivity policy has focused on delaying the moment when customers are alone, in the privacy of their homes or in a remote spot far from the public wireless access areas, in front of a screen where they can interact and through which they can publish and be heard. But Etecsa’s arguments were running out, its customers ceased to be convinced by old excuse of the US embargo and the demands for internet on mobile phones became a clamor.

In the end, the clumsy state company — one of the least efficient in the world — has announced that before the end of the year it will enable access to the web from prepaid mobile phones. Postpaid users and some privileged officials or official journalists have been enjoying this opportunity for months, but their opinions on the quality of navigation are very negative.

“It’s hopelessly slow,” says a young journalism graduate who works at a local media outlet with a quota of mobile phones connected to the web. “They have asked us to defend the Revolution on social networks but at this speed it is very difficult,” he says. The basic use this information professional has made of the connection is limited to “exchanging messages by WhatsApp and trying two frustrated video conferences in IMO.”

After yesterday’s experience, spoiled by slowness and technical problems, customers now wait for Etecsa to make an open announcement on the implementation schedule for the service and on the rates for data packages. They also want guarantees of functionality since “for something so bad I’m not going to pay as if it were really internet access,” a woman in the Etecsa office stressed this Tuesday .

The state communications monopoly is in trouble. It has millions of customers tired of waiting and many of them, on August 14, peeked into the network through their phones. Now they want to repeat the experience more efficiently and with complete freedom.

______________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Venezuelan Migration Overwhelms the Region’s Borders

Venezuelans looking for work in the Brazilian city of Boa Vista. (File / EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE / 14ymedio, Havana, 11 August 2018 – The pressure of migratory inflows from Venezuela on the countries of the region led Ecuador, this Wednesday, to declare a state of institutional emergency in the provinces of Garchi, Pichincha and El Oro, while in Brazil this week the authorities closed the border with its northern neighbor for 20 hours after a court order, specifically in the state of Roraima, the main gateway for Venezuelans fleeing the economic, political, and social crisis of their country.

In the case of Ecuador, a country with which Venezuela does not share a border, a statement from the Foreign Ministry indicated that “in recent days, the flow reached 4,200 entries daily”. The fear that the new Colombian president, Iván Duque, might close the border, has intensified the arrival of Venezuelan immigrants in recent days in search of a destination in the south of the continent.

In 2017, 288,005 Venezuelans entered Ecuador, a figure that is likely to be surpassed this year, judging by the crowds on the border between the two countries. continue reading

The main gateway to Ecuador is the Rumichaca pass, on the border with Colombia, totally congested in recent days. From there many of migrants move to the capital, Quito, with the intention of continuing their journey to the south and crossing into Peru, and even reaching Chile.

The state of institutional emergency will last throughout the month of August, although it could continue according to the circumstances at the border crossing points.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, it will “strengthen medical care with a greater number of doctors.” The deployment will include a group of social workers and psychologists, especially for vulnerable groups (children, adolescents and women), as well as humanitarian aid to meet primary needs.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the differences between the government of Roraima and the Federal government caused the temporary closure of the border. The lawsuit filed with a federal judge by the local authorities, who have seen about 50,000 Venezuelans arrive in the past year, was later annulled by the Federal Regional Court of the First Region.

“Closing the border means not recognizing the immigrant as equal to the Brazilian,” said the Court, while the country’s Minister of Security, Raúl Jungmann, hinted that the request for border closure suggested by the authorities of Roraima might be linked to internal political issues of that region, ahead of the elections that will be held this coming October in Brazil.

Jungmann considered, on a personal basis, that the decision to request the closure of the border may have had some “toxic interference of the elections,” which he affirmed would be “intolerable,” since “that issue can not be included in the electoral contest. ”

The minister pointed out that, since the government declared this past February a “situation of vulnerability” due to the massive influx of Venezuelans, the financial resources directed to Roraima have increased, in order to alleviate the situation.

Likewise, in cooperation with international entities, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), camps have been set up which welcome Venezuelans and a program initiated to move Venezuelans wishing to relocate to other regions of the country, through which 820 immigrants have been placed in cities such as Sao Paulo, Cuiabá, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

_______________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Diaz-Canel Visit to Manzanillo Recounted by Historian Without Mincing Words


This video is not subtitled

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marion J Pentón, Miami, Augut 11, 2018 — On the eve of the visit to Manzanillo by Miguel Díaz-Canel at the end of June, this western city in frank decadence was subjected to special treatment. Houses were spruced up, the indigents were secluded in the psychiatric hospital, criticism was gagged, and even various ice cream flavors appeared in the unstocked state-owned ice cream parlors.

The historian Delio Orozco González dared to raise his voice and said that this visit was “prefabricated”.  His complaint earned him the censorship of a program he conducted for free on local television, Golfo Visión.

Like the child who was the only one that dared to say that the Emperor had no clothes when he thought he was dressed in invisible cloth, in the fable The Naked King [The Emperor’s New Clothes], in real life Orozco-Gonzales denounced what everybody knew but no one dared to say: that the visit by Díaz-Canel was nothing more than staged to please the new ruler. continue reading

“One thing is to show what has been accomplished by conscious and systematic work and quite another to prepare a staging with last minute touches whose sole purpose is to impress the visitor to avoid critical remarks. Unfortunately that was what was done in Manzanillo”, Orozco González wrote in a blog.

Orozco González, a well-known local historian, was unable to witness in slience the violent eviction of Mirtha Escobar Rodríguez, a physically handicapped woman who waited for Díaz-Canel in Céspedes Park to let the president know “what liars” the local leaders are.

The woman was promised 11 years ago the construction of a house, but her denunciation of alleged mismanagement in public funds for her home earned her the enmity of the local bosses. The police officers took her by force and took her first to the hospital and then to the psychiatric hospital.

“When they took her to the Celia Sánchez Manduley Hospital with very high blood pressure to give her medical treatment, they transferred her to the psychiatric hospital, as was done in the Soviet Union, to try to confuse her civic demand with dementia, the public denunciation with madness, the truth with alienation,” related Orozco González.

The historian, who is far from having a dissident position against the system, questioned the plasticity of the measures taken to receive Diaz-Canel, whom in the first hundred days of his mandate has appeared constantly in the media travelling throughout the provinces and leading meetings.

They hurriedly painted the old electoral billboards, removed the vines from the Caymari building, set up another lab in the Palace of Computing and “gathered all the homeless so that the President and his delegation would not see the sad spectacle of drunks and destitute people who swarm and sleep in our streets”.

Orozco González has worked in the Historical Archive of Manzanillo since 1990. He is also vice president of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba in the territory and is a member of the Academy of History of Cuba.  Among his notable books are Manzanillo in the pen of José Martí, Presence and reception martiana in Manzanillo, Manzanillo in the 50s and Of the faithful of Manzanillo.

The decision to stop broadcasting the historian’s program, Findings, was communicated a week ago by the scriptwriter of the television program. According to Orozco González, the municipal authorities prohibited the television director from continuing to use the platform to teach. The historian has said that he will not talk to the media because for him everything has been said. “Now the censors, if they believe it, should explain their decision or simply do what they always do: not show their faces,” he added.

14ymedio made multiple attempts to contact the director of Golfo Visión, Geraldo Romero Díaz, and several journalists from the channel, but none wanted to offer comments on the matter.

It is not the first time that Golfo Visión has been in the midst of a controversy over the treatment of its workers. At the beginning of the year cameraman Raidel Tirado was fired after having suffered a traffic accident on his motorcycle and caused minor damage to the state-owned camera when he was on his way to cover the celebration for the triumph of the Los Alazanes baseball team in Granma  vs. Las Tunas.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

_______________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Prosecutor’s Office Accuses Jose Daniel Ferrer of "Attempted Murder"

The leader of Unpacu, José Daniel Ferrer, was arrested on 3 August along with Ebert Hidalgo. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 August 2018 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, and activist Ebert Hidalgo were accused Friday of “attempted murder.”  Both must remain in pretrial detention according to prosecutor Rolando Reyes, as reported to 14ymedio by Ovidio Martin Castellanos, one of the national coordinators of the opposition organization.

Hidalgo and Ferrer were arrested August 3 after an incident involving an official of the Ministry of the Interior, Dainier Suarez Pagan, who supposedly had been hit by Ferrer when he was driving a car without a driver’s license.  Since then both activists have been held incommunicado and in different detention centers, their families complained.

Agent Suarez Pagan is know by dissidents from Palmarito de Cauto for being violent and stalking activists.  According to the judicial version, Ferrer tried to run him down while he was crossing the street, an assertion that the dissidents denied shortly before they were arrested. continue reading

As Ferrer told Carlos Amel Oliva, Suarez Pagan signaled to him to stop the car but on braking suddenly, the front wheel dislocated.  The agent fell to the ground and after getting up, went to a medical clinic in order to seek an injury certification.

In the Prosecutor’s documents it is stated that he was dressed in a complete uniform, something that the arrested activists denied, having always said that he was dressed in “plain clothes.”

According to the story that appears in the legal document obtained by this newspaper, “Ferrer demanded the car key from Hidalgo Cruz,” started it, and ran into the officer” Suarez Pagan, who was crossing the street to a nearby cafe, “unsuspecting” and “without noticing what was being attempted against his life and physical safety.”

“Officer Suarez Pagan went to the place where the car stopped, complained to the driver and his companion and ordered them to accompany him to the PNR station but was refused emphatically by the two,” adds the judicial document that reports after the arrests of Hidalgo and Ferrer.

For Martin Castellanos, this accusation is “a work of tyranny.”  The activist complains that it is “a gross lie” they are using in order to behead the biggest opposition organization in the country.

“Suarez Pagan never wears a uniform because he is thug, and those charged with confronting the peaceful opposition always dress in plain clothes,” he maintains.

The United States, on Wednesday, demanded Cuba immediately free Jose Daniel Ferrer and Ebert Hidalgo.  The US Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Francisco Palmieri, added that Havana must free “all political prisoners.”

Ferrer and Hidalgo face a possible sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison, although the penalty could be reduced significantly on consideration by the court because it is for a crime that did not materialize.

In 2003 Ferrer was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the well-known case of the Black Spring.  Since 2011 he has had an extra-penal license awarded to members of the so-called group of 75 who were still in jail.  The releases occurred after a negotiation between the Catholic Church, the Spanish Executive Jose Luis Zapatero and the government of Raul Castro.

After leaving prison, Ferrer founded the Patriotic Union of Cuba which is today one of the biggest opposition organizations in the country.  UNPACU carries out citizen protests and has several aid programs for low income families.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel.

_______________________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Abortion, an Inflammatory Topic in Latin America

The Cuban context is different from that of other countries in the region. In some of them, women can spend long years behind bars for resorting to abortion. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 11 August 2018 — She is 20 years old and has had four abortions. This young Cuban woman, whom I will call Aimara to avoid revealing her identity, is not an isolated case. The interruption of pregnancy is so frequent among the Island’s women that is difficult to find one that has not gone through the procedure.

Our national context is different from what happens in other countries in the region. In some of them women can spend long years behind bars for resorting to such a procedure or simply because it is suspected that they have done so.

While in nations such as Chile and Argentina the debate inflames the streets and public forums, in Cuba a discussion on the subject barely registers on social networks or on the digital sites of the independent press. continue reading

According to official propaganda it is a “solved problem,” but within religious temples pastors sharpen their rhetoric against women who decide to abort. Meanwhile, in Cuban hospitals the practice has become almost as routine as having a tooth pulled. Abortion is considered one more method of contraception.

Mass access to medical services and the legalization of the interruption of pregnancy, despite decades of material deterioration in the Island’s public health services, contributes to saving maternal lives because women are not forced to resort to quacks or improvised clinics.

In 2016, 85,445 of these interventions were carried out in Cuban hospitals, representing 41.9 interruptions per 100 pregnant women, according to official figures.

A good part of these patients came to the hospital operating table moved by economic precariousness, but also by the helplessness resulting from little family support or the indifference of their partner. Strict gender roles and the prevailing machismo continue to place what should be a shared responsibility on the shoulders of women.

This is the case for Aimara, who, living “in a house overflowing with people and lacking in space,” as she herself says, doesn’t want to “give birth with an abusive husband and much less in Cuba as things are.” Right now, she has made the rounds of a dozen pharmacies in Havana and “there are no condoms,” the employees tell her, with resignation.

Maintaining a supply of birth control pills is also difficult and the last intrauterine device that the young woman had inserted “did more harm than good,” she says.

If, on the one hand, Cuban women claim the decision about what happens inside their wombs, on the other they find in interruptions of pregnancy — the so-called “curettage” (scraping of the uterus) and “menstrual regulations” (practiced before 6 weeks and without anesthesia) — a solution to the shortage of contraceptive methods, the chronic economic crisis and the desire to emigrate, which is complicated if there is a child included in the escape plan.

“Getting a visa is difficult for one person, imagine for two,” says Aimara, with a crushing logic. Her way of thinking is widespread. The housing difficulties, in a country with around 11 million people a deficit of more than 800,000 homes, and the desire to settle in any other geography, are some of the most important motivations that have led to the fall in the birth rate that has set off alarm bells on the Island.

In addition, repeated abortion, which is so frequent in Cuba, multiplies the dangers to women’s health and in many cases causes cervical problems and infertility. Aimara now traverses that dangerous tightrope. She has the legal and medical right to what happens in the small perimeter of her uterus, but her life and that of her future children are at the mercy of greater forces, especially at the whims of what a group of gentlemen without ovaries decide in an air conditioned office surrounded by creature comforts.

_____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Bachelet, Havana’s Friend, to Monitor Human Rights for the UN

The last time the Chilean president visited Cuba was in January 2018. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 9 August 2018 — For some time it has been clear that the next steps in Michelle Bachelet’s career pointed to an international organization. With her political path closed in Chile, where as president her popularity hit historical lows, she is now poised to occupy the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (ONCHR), as announced this week.

Bachelet’s appointment to the head of the ONCHR comes as no surprise given that her name was mentioned as a potential leader of the UN after the departure of Ban Ki-moon. Although her new responsibility has yet to be ratified by the General Assembly, the Chilean is very likely to occupy the United Nation’s most important position in the field of human rights. Although both are based in Geneva (Switzerland), the ONCHR should not be confused with the Human Rights Council, which is a political body made up of the representatives of UN Member States. The ONCHR on the other hand, is a supposedly independent organization staffed by more than one thousand employees. continue reading

Bachelet assumes that position in a complex moment in which violations of citizen rights are rising in tone in many countries and the United Nations is experiencing a period of fragility, derived from its inaction, the manipulation of its mechanisms by authoritarian regimes and the little credibility it enjoys among democratic governments.

Her record will not help her much in this ecumenical endeavor. During her two presidential terms Bachelet demonstrated that she may suffer from an obstinate myopia when it comes to the excesses committed by her ideological colleagues who rule in Venezuela, Nicaragua and, above all, in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

In the long years she was in charge of the solid Chilean democracy, her criticisms were rather lukewarm or nonexistent towards the leftist populisms that repressed their dissidents. With a few exceptions, the president preferred not to annoy her fellow utopians and opted for the strategy of looking away.

A few weeks before handing over the presidential sash to Sebastián Piñera, she arrived in Cuba on a trip that could only be understood as that of the practitioner of a creed to the temple from which it spreads its doctrine. Although both countries’ official spoke of a visit to strengthen commercial ties, in reality that visit had all the traces of a renewal of support Castroism.

The appointment of a friend of the Plaza of the Revolution to a position much coveted by Havana is not the result of chance. In it we sense the influence of Cuban diplomacy and its ability to move in the UN corridors, applying pressure, buying loyalties and votes, to pave the way to make the Chilean president to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The appointment of Bachelet is a magnificent opportunity for Havana because it needs international support to compensate for the weakening of its regional alliances within the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

It is also an opportunity for Havana’s allies, who are experiencing difficult moments and doing everything possible to avoid international condemnations for their repressive actions. This is the case for Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega, the former guerrilla turned Caudillo, has met popular revolts with fire and. Something similar is happening in Venezuela, which is experiencing a terrible humanitarian crisis while the Miraflores Palace resorts to a more aggressive, exclusive and disparate discourse.

In Cuba itself, the organizations of the United Nations system tend to align themselves with the Government instead of taking note of the denunciations by citizens against the iron control of the Communist Party. Can this change with the appointment of the former Socialist president at the head of the ONCHR?

If she hasn’t done so before, why would Bachelet now criticize her old friends in olive green? Why would she denounce acts of repudiation against dissidents, arbitrary arrests or the control exercised by the authorities over the lives of millions of Cubans?

Instead of speaking out about the violations of the political rights of an entire population, Michelle Bachelet has dedicated herself for many years to extolling the supposed achievements in Cuban healthcare and education of which barely a mirage remain. There is no reason to think that she will change her discourse from the UN watchtower.

She can always justify her silence and her inaction with the argument that she is very busy with the multiple complaints that will come from so many other places on the planet.

_____________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Authorities Keep Opposition Leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Incommunicado

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, José Daniel Ferrer. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 August 2018 — The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, completed 72 hours in detention Monday and his case “has passed to the prosecutor,” as the opposition organization’s coordinator, Carlos Amel Oliva, reported to this daily.

They accuse Ferrer of attacking an official from the Ministry of the Interior, according to what Captain Roberto said to his family members.  At this time he is under arrest in Unit One of the Santiago de Cuba National Revolutionary Police (PNR).  Authorities keep the activist incommunicado, and he has not even been able to receive visits from his relatives.

“Yesterday at ten at night he completed the first 72 hours of arrest.  The case has already passed to the prosecutor and now it is necessary to wait another 72 hours in order to get an answer about what is going to happen with him,” said Olive in a telephone conversation with this paper. continue reading

Also arrested with Ferrer was activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz, who is in the Operations Unit of the PNR (People’s Revolutionary Police).  Hidalgo Cruz is also incommunicado.

According to the criminal procedure law, the prosecutor could drop the arrest without consequence, impose a cautionary measure without detention, or revoke or modify the measure ordered by the police.  The prosecutor also may propose the imposition of a provisional prison sentence.

According to Oliva, coordinator of the organization founded by Jose Daniel Ferrer, Captain Roberto told the family members that there is an open “file” against the UNPACU leader.  In the case of Hidalgo Cruz, he is accused of permitting Ferrer to drive a car without a license.

Ferrer was arrested last Friday night after being implicated in a traffic accident in Palmarito de Cauto, where he supposedly injured the State Security agent, Daniel Suarez Pagan.

The dissident was in the town for family reasons and also planned to visit some of the activists who live in the area.  Oliva says that during the journey, the plainclothes agent stepped in front of the Mosovich car driven by Ferrer, indicating for him to stop.  Ferrer does not have a driver’s license or a learner’s permit.

After an abrupt maneuver to stop the car, the agent fell to the ground and after getting up went to a medical unit in order to seek a certificate of injury.  Several hours later the two activists were arrested.

Some UNPACU activists contacted by 14ymedio say that, “Pagan is not hurt and is working as usual in the town of Palmarito de Cauto.”

Maidolis Oribe, area resident, says that “State Security and the Police with their Criminal Unit specialists have reconstructed the events four times and have pressured people to testify against Ferrer.”

“They want the people to say that Jose Daniel ran over him,” says Oribe, who has witnessed the reconstruction of events by the experts.

“Pagan is the one who throws himself to the ground and plays ’murumacas’” says the woman, who questions the blows he received “if he is able to make those movements.”

Jose Daniel Ferrer is a former political prisoner from the black spring of 2003 who benefitted from an extra-penal license in 2011 after a negotiation between the government, the Catholic church and the Spanish presidency.  The extra-penal license, which allows the prisoner out of the penitentiary, can be revoked at the will of authorities.

Translated by Mary Lou Keel.

_____________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Trial Begins for the Three Men Accused of Raping and Killing a Young Woman in Cienfuegos

Leidy Maura Pacheco Mur. (Periódico 5 de Septiembre)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio — The trial against the three men accused of raping and murdering Leidy Maura Pacheco Mur, 18 years old, begins this Tuesday in Cienfuegos.

Although the official press hasn’t published the names of the alleged killers, their photos have been shared on social media. Residents of the town of Junco Viejo, where the victim lived, told this journal that one of the three defendants has a criminal record for rape and another has served cumpulsory military service.

The hearing will not be public. According to the local press, it will be held in two days due to the large amount of evidence and the 45 witnesses who have been summoned. The three men will also have to answer for other cases of rape of which they are accused. continue reading

Once the final judgement has been decided, the judges will take six days to determine the sentence. The accused will be able to appeal to the People’s Supreme Court.

On September 26th of last year, Leidy Maura Pacheco went to the state corporation of Comercio de Cienfuegos because she was interested in passing a course to work there. After visiting a few friends in the neighborhood of Reina, she ate lunch with her husband and took bus 3 towards Junco Sur. She got onto a bus that she got off of near her house in Junco Viejo and called her husband at 2:56 pm, when she was one block from her home. But she never arrived.

Three men covered her mouth, took her to Plan Mango, a grove outside of Cienfuegos, raped her, and then murdered and buried her on the bank of a small dam, according to the testimony of her father, Pedro Valentín Pacheco Alonso.

The three alleged killers were living in the same community as the victim. The following day the family notified the authorities of the disappearance of the young woman, who had a 10 month old baby.

The search for the young woman lasted six days in which relatives, neighbors, and even one of the presumed rapists were implicated.

The death of Leidy Pacheco shook Cienfuegos, a city which has suffered several homicides in less than a year. On February 14, Luis Santacruz Labrada was murdered with a knife and in May, a double feminicide shocked the city, whose safety was one of its principal attractions.

Translated by: Emilee Sullivan 

________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Decriminalizing Abortion: The Mother, The Son… and The Holy Spirit

This week, the new abortion law was passed in the Argentine Senate, an issue that motivated Wilfredo Leiter Juvier’s letter to journalist Cristina Escobar. (@PorAbortoLegal)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, West Palm Beach, 6 August 2018 –Catholic priest Wilfredo Leiter Juvier, in charge of the Cathedral of Santa Clara, Cuba, recently sent an open letter to Cristina Escobar, a journalist of the official press. The letter provokes reflection on the decriminalization of abortion, a topic that continues to raise fierce controversies in Latin America.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is a long-standing issue but it’s not this article’s central objective to resolve it. Nor do I consider it a profitable investment of time to participate in a debate between a journalist of the Cuban press monopoly — a word that demands absolute faith in the “communist” government — and an individual whose essential principle of existence is based on religious faith. Obviously, it is a matter among “the faithful”, although they wear different ideological colors.

That said, I think it appropriate to express my total disagreement with the priest’s criteria in the referenced letter, and in particular with the Manichaeism* and the manipulation that supplants almost all of his theses, despite the correctness of his grammar and the “respectfulness” of his language. continue reading

I do not consider it a profitable time investment to participate in a debate between a journalist from the Cuban press monopoly and an individual whose essential principle of existence is based on religious faith. Obviously, it is a matter among “the faithful”

That Manichaeism is reflected in the invalidation of the opponent’s arguments, assuming his own faith as valid from presuppositions that do not allow argument, although he aims to expose “scientifically proven” points. As far as is known, no scientific discovery can invalidate the indisputable and elementary right that a woman must have when deciding any matter regarding her motherhood.

As for his manipulation of the subject, it is obvious when, in an absurd comparison, he places in a same “rational” plane what he calls “the abortionist logic” with the murder of an “inconvenient” old man. Or when he argues that proof that sexuality “is not only for pleasure”, but that new beings materialize from it. It is the preaching of a man whose holy ministry demands celibacy, but who presents himself as an expert in sexual matters.

Almost all Catholic morality is based on principles as retrograde as those that still defend virginity (feminine, of course) as a symbol of virtue and purity in many regions, that assume that sex is a merely reproductive function or that qualifies relationships between people of the same gender as sinful and diabolical.

In light of this, we could ask why no representative of that Church spoke with the same passion in defense of life when, in 2003, three men who had committed no blood crime were summarily convicted and shot in Cuba for the attempted abduction of a boat. Or why, with the same force, they did not demand it of the Cuban government on the terrible night of the sinking of the tugboat 13 de marzo, when dozens of innocent people were murdered, among them, over 10 children. Does an embryo have a greater right to life than one of those men, women and children who died then? At what point does human life begin or cease to be sacred and who establishes those limits?

It is clear that, on this level, the Catholic Church has demonstrated not only a fairly accommodative moral, but a highly questionable piety

 So, the essential issue here is abortion and the struggle for its “decriminalization”. It is known that — with the exception of Mexico, Cuba and Uruguay — the countries in this region do not allow for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy and only authorize it in certain circumstances. In addition, three countries — El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua — absolutely prohibit it.

In the case of Cuba, the practice of abortion has been carried out, in some cases, since 1936. In fact, several generations of Cuban women have (incorrectly) considered induced abortion as a right, “free of charge and in a safe manner”, included among the services provided by the health system within the first three months of pregnancy, or later, in cases of congenital malformations of the fetus or of risk to the woman’s life.

However, the truth is that there is no actual abortion law to date in Cuba, which is why its practice ultimately depends more on the political will or on the permissiveness of the country’s authorities than on recognition of a woman’s right to decide about her own body and about her motherhood. In other words, abortion is spoken of as a “social achievement”, but the fact is that it does not constitute a legal achievement. 

Until there is a law ratifying it, the decriminalization of abortion in Cuba cannot be considered a true and total female victory, as is often proclaimed from the political power

This nullifies any guarantee for Cuban women. Why? Let’s say that the Cuban State had an interest in raising the birth rate and, consequently, ordered specialized health centers to reduce the practice of abortions or the so-called “menstrual regulation”, a less invasive procedure performed in the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy and that does not require the use of anesthesia. In such a case, the issue would depend on the vagaries of demography and State will and not on a true legal guarantee for decision-making by each woman.

For that reason, and until there is a law that ratifies it, the decriminalization of abortion in Cuba cannot be considered a true and total female victory, as is often proclaimed by the political power. It is actually a mirage that has been reinforced in practice with the use and abuse of abortion — almost as if it were a contraceptive method- in the absence of a legal framework that supports it, but also without having made the necessary emphasis on sexual education from an early age to promote both the perception of the risks of abortion and its indiscriminate use, as well as the importance of responsible and conscious motherhood (and fatherhood).

As an additional evil, there has been a lack of a broad social debate to sensitize and involve everyone which would allow us to begin to overcome machismo and sexist conceptions deeply rooted in the national culture, such as the custom of attributing the responsibility for the use of contraceptives to women, as well as assuming the greater part in the education and upbringing of children, even if, to be able to do so, she has to renounce to her own personal and professional ambitions. This is one additional way of subjecting female rights to the masculine will, and a fact that shows that the “decriminalization of abortion ” alone is not the solution to the problem but only a first step. 

And it is in this sense that the open letter of priest Wilfredo Leiter acquires its real value, because it warns us that the demons of the sanctimonious and misogynist Inquisition have not died.

 Such voids, the legal and the debate spaces in Cuba, have propitiated that, while on the surface there seems to be a social consensus around this issue, deep down there are strong currents of prejudice and atavistic concepts that in the future — not necessarily in a distant one — could endanger what is already urgently recognized as a feminine right.

And it is in this sense that the open letter of the priest Wilfredo Leiter acquires its real value, because it warns us that the demons of the sanctimonious and misogynist Inquisition have not died. If with the “presents” obtained by the grace of the political power Cuban women view the battle as having been won, they will certainly will have lost the war.

*Translator’s note: Manichaeism: religious or philosophical dualism system with Christian, Gnostic, and pagan elements. founded in Persia in the 3rd century, based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness.

Translated by Norma Whiting

____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuba Calls for Stronger Precautions Against Dengue and Zika Outbreaks

Two young people of the Youth Labor Army with the fumigation ’backpackmachine’. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 31 July 2018 — Cuban health authorities acknowledged the existence of outbreaks of dengue fever and zika in several provinces of the country and asked citizens to “reinforce prevention measures” in the summer rains, the official media reported on Tuesday.

“In  Cuba, chikungunya has not been reported for two years, and yellow fever has been eliminated since 1909, but in the case of dengue fever and zika there are outbreaks of transmission in several parts of the country,” the director of Epidemiology with the Ministry of Public Health, Francisco Durán, told the state newspaper Granma.

The source did not specify which areas are affected and referred to information from various media, according to which at least 10 people have died in the last weeks in central and eastern Cuba due to hemorrhagic dengue fever. continue reading

In Cuba, the epidemiological situation is considered almost a matter of State and the dissemination of figures on the numbers infected by viruses and levels of transmission is not common in the press, almost all of which is state controlled.

The increase in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in the summer is due to the increase in heat associated with the rains, which is very marked this year,” Durán warned.

Faced with this situation, the Cuban State responds with the cleaning of possible sources of transmission, “weekly fumigations, inspection of homes, surveillance and daily screening of the population, looking for people with symptoms of these diseases.”

Despite the government’s effort, “the cornerstone in the prevention and control of these viruses remains the responsibility of families and individuals to cooperate with these measures,” the doctor insisted.

Durán also recalled that summer “the rise” of respiratory and diarrheal diseases is common, but stressed that their incidence in Cuba “has decreased and cholera has not been reported for two years.”

According to the most recent official data, published last March,  Cuba  reduced dengue cases by 68% in 2017, recorded no chikungunya patients, and detected autochthonous Zika transmission in 14 of its 169 municipalities.
___________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.