Brazil in Cuba, When Pragmatism Overcomes Ideology

Former Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and former Cuban president Raul Castro at the opening of the Mariel Special Development Zone in Cuba.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 16 February 2019 — A enormous crane lifting a container filled the TV screens of millions of Cubans in January 2014, during the inauguration of the first part of the Mariel Special Development Zone, west of Havana. In the official photo, Dilma Rousseff smiled with Raúl Castro; but five years later, that port has not managed to get the island out of its economic crisis and the former Brazilian president is a political corpse.

Mariel, the coastal area from where, in 1980, tens of thousands of Cubans, fed up with the Communist model, left for Florida, has become the “white elephant” of Castroism in the last decade. All the hopes of the nation were placed in that pharaonic work, financed thanks to the support of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT).

The construction of the “commercial emporium” was carried out by Odebrecht, the Brazilian conglomerate that shortly after the inauguration became the centerpiece of a corruption scandal that touches several Latin American governments, numerous political parties and hundreds of officials. continue reading

However, the main problem has been trying to make Mariel a kind of laboratory of capitalism in a nationalized country led by a group of octogenarians who distrust the market.

When Rousseff and Castro cut the tape to open that first part of the Mariel container terminal, they were also sending a message. Those were the times when starring in the family photo of Latin American presidents were the faces of the representatives of 21st Century Socialism. A brotherhood of comrades who supported each other in international forums and helped hide – reciprocally – their authoritarian excesses.

So the Cuban port, financed with a loan from Brazil’s National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES), was not only part of a strategy of solidarity with the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, to alleviate its chronic inability to produce riches, but also an ideological intention to make viable a model that, in half a century, had given more than sufficient evidence of its failure.

As the subsidy from the Soviet Union had once sustained the deliriums of Fidel Castro and, later, Hugo Chavez’s patronage allowed him to pass power to his younger brother Raúl, Brazil wanted to lend a shoulder to keep alive “the flame” of the Cuban Revolution. It was an almost archaeological rescue task, an effort to make it seem that a regime was still breathing through its own lungs, though it was incapable of surviving without outside resources.

In January of 2014 several months still remained before the announcement of the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States, but without a doubt the entire port of Mariel was designed to accommodate ships that, having stopped on the island, would end in US ports and vice versa. After five years, the thaw cooled again due to Havana’s inability quickly respond to the opening promoted by Barack Obama in his relationship with the island, and Donald Trump’s arrival in the Oval Office.

Nor does the PT remain in power in Brazil and little remains of that family portrait of the region where you could see faces like Rafael Correa, Rousseff herself or Michelle Bachelet. From those “golden times” Cuba was left with a debt that it can barely pay its former South American partner and a port that is becoming a theme park of the past every day that it fails to attract ships loaded with merchandise or investors willing to settle in its commercial area.

But the Brazilian withdrawal from the island has not stopped there. At the end of 2018 an angry diplomatic dispute between the regime of Miguel Diaz-Canel and Brazil’s then president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, ended in the untimely departure of thousands of Cuban health professionals from the Mais Médicos program.

Bolsonaro accused Havana of practicing modern slavery with its doctors on mission and demanded that they be paid the full amount of their salary, because the Cuban government was keeping 75% of the $3,300 that Brazil paid for each doctor. He also demanded that the doctors pass tests to validate their titles and demonstrate their knowledge, but the Island’s Ministry of Public Health did not accept these terms and slammed the door.

Behind the headlines and the clash between the two administrations, the small stories of thousands of Cubans who are now trying to reconstruct their hopes to improve their lives and that of their families were omitted. Many of them had arrived in Brazil not only moved by the humanitarian instinct inherent in all health personnel, but also driven by their economic needs.

Doctors in Cuba are the best paid of all professionals, however, their monthly salary does not exceed the equivalent of 60 dollars. That is why it is not uncommon to see a doctor with broken shoes, who has not been able to eat breakfast because he does not have the resources to do so, or who has to wait two-hours for a public bus before arriving at an operating room to perform a complicated brain surgery.

Official missions abroad have always been an opportunity for these doctors to access greater financial resources, despite the high percentage of their salary retained by the authorities. But, above all, it is a propitious stage to establish human relationships that allow them to marry, create friendships or contacts to stay in another country or to return later in a private way.

With the vertiginous departure from Brazil, the dreams of many of those doctors were shattered. The same happened with the Port of Mariel that had filled with illusions the inhabitants of the small town in that coastal area west of Havana, as it had many Cubans who for decades have expected the island’s economy to rise so that they might live more decently and not have to watch their children leave for exile.

For all that, right now, to say “Brazil” in Cuba is to mention a dream, the illusion of what could have been and was not; but it is also evidence of the failure of a strategy and the fall from grace of a support that was more ideological than pragmatic.

_____________________

Note: A Portuguese version of this text has been published in the Brazilian magazine Crusoé  and is reproduced in this newspaper with the authorization of the author.

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.

Building After the Tornado

Yudelmis Urquiza with her young son, six months old. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, February 14, 2019 — Diana Curbelo has spent 15 days sleeping in her neighbor’s entryway. She passes the hours seated on a red armchair that she has put out on the sidewalk of Teresa Blanco street and at nighttime she goes into the entryway to be under a roof. A resident of the housing complex at number 118, Curbelo shares an address with another ten families.

In the building, where a month ago there were precarious little rooms, the majority of them with a light roof, piled up on one side of a hallway are the construction materials that the government provides, and on the other side the debris that they are taking out.

“The materials have come quickly, they brought everything, a brigade of workers who came here the other day and who already have everything needed. They’ve moved a lot. In total there are 11 apartments here, I live with my son and a nephew with his wife and they have a three-year-old son. They haven’t yet told me to pay anything, I haven’t signed a single paper, I only know that they are fixing my house,” says the woman. continue reading

Diana Curbelo observes the work on her house and helps where she can. (14ymedio)

At her side, one of the workers, who wears an olive green T-shirt, rests a few minutes leaning on the railing to take in a little shade. “Here they have given us all the materials we need: tools, boots, hard hats, rope. We also have everything we need for security, we cannot complain. We have on site 70% of the materials we need, and we are going forward. I think that by April we will have this finished,” he maintains.

The brigade working on the complex comes and goes through the narrow passageway that leads to the place where they are building the apartments. “They are going to build apartments with everything: bathroom, kitchen, living room, bedrooms…” explains the worker before returning to work. “The objective is that each one of these victims has their new house as soon as possible,” he adds, convinced that his labor will mean a “great improvement for all the residents” who before were living in very bad conditions.

Diana Curbelo remains seated in front of the entrance, watching the coming and going of the builders and helping where she can. “All the neighbors have been worried, they have even offered to have me stay in their houses to sleep but I have to take care of my own. If I don’t do it, who will?” she says.

The tornado surprised her family outside, celebrating the birthday of one of the children. “We were all in the middle of the party when it began to sound. We went to run to the back of the passageway and we went into the house of a neighbor who has a roof and we stayed there until everything passed. I wanted to die when I went out and saw everything destroyed. I lost the mattresses, the fans, and the kitchen. The rest I was able to recover,” she remembers.

Curbelo explains that they have not yet passed through her street to bring the new mattresses. “They tell me that I have to save the old one but imagine, I have it there among the debris. If they take it, what can I do?” she asks.

Solange Faizan and her family have also not managed to get new mattresses and the only one that survived they have lent to an elderly lady. (14ymedio)

Turning from Teresa Blanco and entering through Pedro Perna street, the view is the same. In the middle of the street are mountains of blocks, gravel, sand, steel bars, roof beams, and water tanks. On the same corner, an enormous crane demolishes a building while a man plasters a wall, another, shovel in hand, prepares the mixture and bends some steel bars.

Luck has been unequal in the distribution of materials and labor force. On Armenteros street, between Luyanó and the railroad tracks, lives Solange Faizen with her family. After the tornado their home suffered partial damages, which left the house without a roof and some walls in a bad state. Meanwhile, in the kitchen they have put down some tiles that they have been finding but explain that it is a provisional solution to be able to be in the house. “We want to put on the roof as soon as possible, because we have a little girl here with asthma and a bedridden elderly lady,” she says.

“We already have the roof, you can see it there. The architects passed by, measured, and with the paperwork they prepared for us we were able to buy the tiles and beams, the problem is that they didn’t give us cement or sand, and the builder that I contracted told me that to put down the tiles he needed those materials because he couldn’t attach those tiles without materials.

“The architects returned yesterday to see an affected wall that they hadn’t included in the report. I complained and they told me to go today at eight in the morning to the Processing Office, but now my forms don’t show up and I have to finish putting on the roof, because rainy days are coming. We told them everything, but I don’t know what they wrote down on their paper,” she explains.

Solange Faizan and her family have also been unable to get new mattresses and the only one that survived they have lent to an elderly woman, who is the one who needs it most. “I have saved here the two old and stinking mattresses, waiting to see if finally they come with the new ones they promised.”

Yudelmis Urquiza has prepared a space to be able to cook in her new home. (14ymedio)

The worst, with everything that has happened, is going from one place to another without resolving the necessary procedure. “What bothers me most is going back and forth. I don’t want them to give me anything extra, I want them to give me what I’m meant to have, but without having such a hard time. In the processing office they make you go from one table to another and you always hear the same thing: ’that is nothing to do with me’ and they pass you from one person to another without anyone resolving anything.”

The EF4 category tornado that passed through several municipalities of Havana on January 27 with winds of around 300 km/h left a toll of six dead, some 200 wounded, and around 10,000 displaced. According to the latest official figures, more than 7,700 homes were affected, including 730 total collapses; among the damage to roofs, 1,109 were total and 1,950 partial.

One of the Havanans who suffered the total collapse of her home was Yudelmis Urquiza Fernández, a young woman of 29, with two children of 11 and 6 months, respectively, on Concha street, between Infanzón and Pedro Perna. “I lived here at 909, but everything collapsed, only this part was left,” she says, pointing out what was a few days ago her house and now is only a few walls without a roof.

Bathroom of Yudelmis Urquiza’s improvised home. (14ymedio)

“It’s been more than fifteen days and nothing has happened, we’re still on the street. Many people have come and written things on paper, but they don’t give any reponse. Not Bárbara [Agón Fernández, president of the Municipal Assembly of Popular Power of the Tenth of October], not anybody. They haven’t even given us shelter,” she laments.

The first days, she says while holding the baby in her arms, she slept in front of what was her house, in a doorway. “That was only one time, because I couldn’t stay there. On the other block I found a place to go, in a business that was also affected, but the manager there allowed me to be there a few days.”

The place doesn’t fulfill even the most minimal conditions of hygiene and protection necessary to accommodate a mother with two young children. “Only a person who is in a lot of need like me would go there, what I cannot do is sleep in the street with my children. If they let me stay and they give me what I need to fix it and create the conditions for ’self-help’ I will arrange it, or if not let them give me a shelter, but it can’t go on this way,” denounces the young woman, annoyed with the institutional lack of support.

“Bárbara, every time I go to see her, tells me to stay here and not worry, that she will come to see me. But I’ve spent two weeks like that and nothing. Until when?”

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

__________________

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.

Lazaro Bruzon Wants "Cuban Sports to be Divorced from Politics"

Lázaro Bruzón is currently on the payroll of the chess team at Webster University, in the United States, in a program directed by former world champion Susan Polgar. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Julia Mézenov, Villa Clara, 9 February 2019 —  Although Lázaro Bruzón is one of the most important Cuban chess players, his name is no longer on the national team’s roster. This 36-year-old from Las Tunas, who enjoys every victory to the fullest and is extremely upset with the defeats, has taken his separation from the island without drama in international events.

While the specialists speculate about his future, Bruzón continues to dedicate himself to moving the pieces, something he has not stopped doing since he was enthusiastic about chess at the age of seven. “It was very hard, but I understood that it was the right thing to progress and I always had many dreams of improving to help my family,” he tells 14ymedio now.

In 1999 he was part of the Cuba team for the first time and returned to Las Tunas with his title of Grand Master. At just 18 years of age, he was world youth champion, but despite his laurels and the fact that his name ws heard more and more in sports media, he had to continue going through many everyday problems such as the difficulties of travel. continue reading

“There was a time when we received more support but then everything got complicated until the help was practically nil,” he recalls. “Many times they invite us to tournaments and help us with the expenses, but everything depends on the level of the player and his Elo.” That reality ends up hitting many young chess players who “if they can’t afford these trips and no one pays for them… how do they do it?”

When he reflects on the possibility of sustaining himself economically playing chess in Cuba, Bruzón talks about the different moments he has lived through. “For a short time, in the Capablanca Tournament, Cubans have been awarded prizes. Before the payments were only for foreigners, and in international events the prizes vary a lot.”

Last September, Bruzón was officially expelled from the national chess preselection for refusing to return to the country. In spite of this incident, he affirms that he does not have any “personal” problem against anyone specific to the Cuban Chess Federation and insists that throughout his career “this is the first time such a controversy has been created.”

“They have erroneously taught us that everyone who leaves Cuba becomes a kind of enemy. I left with great optimism that good relations could be maintained based on communication and mutual respect with all the intentions of the world to continue playing for my country, but in practice it is difficult,” he laments. “I wish that Cuban sports could divorce itself from politics a little. I hope one day it does not matter where a person resides in order to represent their country.”

Currently, half of the Grand Masters of Cuban chess reside abroad. Regarding this reality, Bruzón believes that “progressing beyond a point while in Cuba” is complicated because it collides with “a ceiling beyond which you can no longer climb.” He also has talked several times about the lack of connectivity. “I’ve talked about the importance of the internet for chess.”

His presence in the United States began with a study opportunity. “In my plans I was not leaving Cuba but the possibility of coming to a prestigious university, such as Webster, with a chess program led by former world champion Susan Polgar, motivated me a lot,” he says. “It’s where they see everything differently, here there are many great teachers who study and come from different countries, but they do not break with their federations or with their countries because they are here. ”

This week Bruzón was involved in an intense controversy when he posted on his Facebook account several criticisms of the text of the new Cuba Constitution that will be voted on in a referendum on February 24. The chess player questioned that in the preamble of the Magna Carta says that “only in socialism and communism the human being reaches his full dignity.”

“I have been looking for the definition of dignity in all places, I have also inquired about the importance of the Constitutions to countries and what they should be, and there is no way to understand that this approach is correct.”

With his traditional moderate tone, Bruzón defined as a “long path” the one that remains for Cubans “to travel” to “learn that the other person can think differently from us and that does not mean that he is wrong, we are not possessors of the absolute truth, although they have taught us otherwise,” he added.

In the conversation with 14ymedio he reiterates these concepts when he points out that migratory restrictions have affected chess. “Many athletes would still be in Cuba representing their country if they could come and go without so many obstacles. And it’s not only in chess. I think we have to fight for the right things and break old schemes that only serve to create disunity among Cubans.”

____________________________________

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 Indignation of a Cuban Who Will Not be Able to Vote on February 24

The only message permitted on billboards, television, radio, printed media, and in all public spaces, without exception, is Yes to the constitution. (14ymedio)

The author, who writes under a pseudonym, directs her letter to the opposition and to international bodies.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Guamacaro Canada, February 13, 2019 — An open letter from a common Cuban citizen, to all the member groups of the opposition, inside and outside of Cuba, as well as all the international bodies that maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba.

The proposal of some members of the Cuban opposition to abstain from the referendum on February 24 has no sense without having received, previously, international support on the illegitimacy of the process.

At these moments, facing the indifference of international actors, the only course that could provide salvation to the Cuban people is a massive No vote in the referendum.

In the first place, I invite all the participants of Cuba’s opposition to declare themselves in front of all the pertinent international bodies on the antidemocratic character of the upcoming referendum and to make a formal petition for the constitutional process led by the Communist Party of Cuba to be declared illegitimate. continue reading

I ask those same international bodies to take a position, since they will be the voice that defends an oppressed people, which, unlike the Venezuelan people, does not go out to the streets en masse to protest against its government because, in the course of the last 60 years, it has lost all hope of having a better future.

Cubans show a silent resignation in face of their numerous problems, starting with food of a low nutritional quality subsidized by the government via a provision card that is an instrument to gag the people.

The healthcare system, free but very precarious, and education based on indoctrination from early childhood are other instruments that fulfill the same function, in addition to the miserable salaries, which are around $30 per month on average.

The referendum will not have the presence of impartial international observers because the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) does not permit them.

At this moment there is within the country a massive repression of the No campaign, according to statements from the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights, at the same time in which the PCC is carrying out a massive campaign for Yes. A countless number of banners promoting Yes, distributed by the PCC, invade the public space. The march of the torches, which was held at the end of January in the middle of a natural disaster in Havana, was dedicated to guaranteeing the vote for Yes, as is the televised campaign.

To this it’s necessary to add the immediate destruction of any banner alluding to No, the beatings of peaceful opposition figures who attempt to promote a campaign for No, as well as the constant censorship of telephone messages, of websites critical of the PCC, and of private mail that does not reach its destination if it contains any allusion to a position contrary to Yes.

A few days ago the PCC said that citizens who live or find themselves temporarily outside of Cuba will not have the right to vote. On the other hand, those who find themselves abroad fulfilling some mission for the government of Cuba will be able to vote. The excluded denounced this measure in protests in front of Cuban embassies in several countries.

The illegitimacy of the process of constitutional reform is reflected in Article 224 of the draft, which declares “the irrevocability of socialism and the political and social system established in Article 3.”

Rarely has the world seen a form of repression that guarantees the gagging of all the citizens of a country, against 11 million Cubans who maintain ties of blood and friendship with more than 3 million emigrants spread out all over the world, by denying them the right to enter and leave the country without restrictions.

This is the greatest emotional blackmail in modern history, when thousands of mothers see themselves deprived of seeing their children on or off the island because of having expressed their ideas. Because more than political prisoners inside jails, which unfortunately exist in the present in Cuba, those who are on the island live in reality in a psychological imprisonment, the same in which the 3 million relatives who live abroad find themselves.

What is happening in Cuba at this time is not a physical genocide, although many deaths are consequences of the policy of repression of the government, but rather a moral genocide, committed by a sole party against the people, snatching from them the right to mobility inside and outside of their country by means of blackmail, denying them the right to the free expression of their ideas.

This fact must be denounced in front of international authorities. A country in which the most minimal protest turns into a labor of titans needs to be defended in the face of the imposition of a shameful constitutional text on its citizens.

I ask for the same understanding toward Cuba that the international community now has toward Venezuela, where it has recognized the right of citizens to fight against communist doctrine to get out of famine and return to democracy.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

_______________________________________

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.

Nicaragua’s FSLN No Longer Represents the Values of the Socialist International

Voting on the expulsion of the FSLN from the Socialist International. (psoeinternational)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Franklin Villavicencio, Managua, 31 January 2019 — Fernando Zamora, general secretary of the National Liberation Party of Costa Rica  — a movement that promoted the expulsion of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) from the Socialist International (SI) — stated that the human rights violations committed by the Government of Nicaragua was one of the main reasons for its expulsion in the ranks of the SI, an international organization that brings together 140 Socialist, Labor and Social Democratic parties from around the world.

“We were able to determine that the FSLN was undoubtedly violating the human rights of Nicaraguan citizens, and even of the journalists themselves,” Zamora said in an interview for the program Esta Noche, with Carlos F. Chamorro. “We are witnesses of the exiles, who have told us their reality,” he reiterated. continue reading

On Tuesday, over a hundred political parties that make up the SI decided, in a Council in the Dominican Republic, to expel the FSLN for its responsibility for the repression exercised against demonstrators who oppose the regime, and for the support it provides to the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, the main figures of the party.

The motion was presented by the Natural Law Party (PLN), in August, and emerged “as a clamor from the bases of the party,” Zamora said. “They began to demand that we, as leaders, should start doing things to denounce to the world what was happening in Nicaragua.”

In a letter signed by Jorge Pattonni Sáenz, president of the Costa Rican party, it was detailed that “the Government of Nicaragua and in this way its source of inspiration and political organization, the FSLN, violated the rights to life, to personal integrity, health, personal freedom, assembly and association, freedom of expression and access to justice for hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans, this being unacceptable and reprehensible from every point of view for our Party and for the fraternal parties of the Socialist International.”

The countries that make up the SI ethics committee determined that the FSLN did not represent democratic values. According to Zamora, there was a consensus among the majority of political movements that voted, especially in Europe. Days before the expulsion, a mission of the European Parliament had arrived in the country to verify the political crisis, which has been going on for nine months. Through a preliminary report, they discarded the hypothesis of a coup d’etat that the regime insists upon.

With regards to the allegations on the part of the FSLN delegate, the Magistrate Francisco Rosales of the Supreme Court of Justice, at the meeting of the SI, remained firm about the discourse of an attempted coup d’etat that the Ortega government is alleging. “They are outdated arguments not only in Nicaragua, but also in the case of Venezuela,” commented the general secretary of the PLN.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), was also one of the first to speak minutes after the deliberation.

“The Council of the Socialist International in the Dominican Republic has decided to expel the FSLN from the organization for the violations of Human Rights and the democratic values committed by the (Daniel) Ortega regime in Nicaragua.Socialism is incompatible with tyranny,” it wrote in its Twitter account.

______________________________

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 "Self-employed" Represent 13% of the Cuban Population

Private restaurants are the business with the most “self-employed.” (Cal)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, February 11, 2019 — Cuba recorded a total of 580,828 self-employed workers at the end of 2018, of which 29% are young people, 34% are women, and some 10% retirees who have joined the private sector, according to statistics published this Sunday by state-controlled media on the island.

The provinces of Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Camagüey, Holguín, and Santiago de Cuba contain 65% of the private or self-employed workers in the country, according to the statement of the first vice minister of work and social security, Marta Elena Feitó, in an interview with the newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

The activities most represented are still those related to food (9%), transport of cargo and passengers (8%), renting of homes, rooms, and spaces (6%), telecommunications agents (5), and contracted workers (26%), employees in the areas of food and transport, specified the vice minister. continue reading

Feitó noted that the principal changes in the issuing of licenses applied since December 7 eliminated the capacity cap of 50 seats for service in a restaurant, bar, or cafe, and license holders are now allowed to establish more than one activity of this type in the same home, and even the possibility of selling non-alcoholic drinks in bakeries was included.

The announcement of the new rules regulating private work — which in theory had been expected to restrict to only one the number of licenses and limit the capacity for private restaurants and sparked discontent among its targets — was, in the end, settled with a reworking of those measures.

The last inventory made of the exercise of private work after the set of new rules went into effect found that 15,466 people do more than one activity, especially in the food sector.

However, the vice minister pointed out that the new measures are still “incipient” in light of the change in the control, but she assured that there are some aspects of the laws established that “were fulfilled” and others “are being fulfilled.”

In that sense, she mentioned that at the close of last December, 793 measures were enforced for breaches of the current legislation and specified that of that number, 610 were preventative notifications and 183 were fines, 18% of these for performing labor activities in an illegal manner.

The director emphasized that there are still people exercising activities in an illegal manner, in the majority of cases on public roads and on the outskirts of state-controlled bodies, and expressed the opinion that those “cannot face an inspection body alone” but rather it must be done in a “comprehensive” manner.

She stressed that it’s necessary to preserve this form of non-state management in a “framework of legality” because she recognized that it is an “important” type of employment that increases the supply of goods and services, frees the state of non-fundamental activities, and the taxes that are collected by that route are a source of income for local budgets.

In Cuba, with a total population of some 11.2 million inhabitants, self-employed people now represent 13% of the population, almost quadruple those recorded in 2010 when the island’s government increased private activity in a number of sectors and freelance workers surpassed 150,000.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

_____________________________________

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.

Bukele and How to End Poverty, Exodus, and Violence

Nayib Bukele would have to create in his people reasonable hopes of prospering. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, February 10, 2019 — Nayib Bukele swept to victory in the presidential election in El Salvador. Bukele is an outsider who used GANA as an electoral vehicle, a party of the right that split off from ARENA. He used it, despite the fact that its founder, ex-president Tony Saca, is imprisoned and sentenced to ten years in jail, accused of misappropriating $300 million. That circumstance did not matter to anybody. GANA was only a ticket. The party barely got 11 out of a total of 84 representatives.

Bukele liquidated the communists of FMLN (23 representatives) and the liberal-conservatives of ARENA (37). Salvador Sánchez Cerén (FMLN) will leave the presidency with the disapproval of 80% of Salvadorans. He lost some 47% of the votes obtained in the penultimate contest. He is the worst-assessed president since Alfredo Cristiani inaugurated his presidency in 1989, initiating the four ARENA governments. After Saca, the last ARENA president, came Mauricio Funes of FMLN, exiled in Nicaragua accused of stealing $351 million, and, lastly, the repudiated Sánchez Cerén. continue reading

Through what crack did the outsider “sneak in?” First, he was no stranger. He had been mayor of San Salvador and voters did not blame him for the poverty or violence, the two main evils afflicting the country. Second, voters are tired of the parties’ empty promises, of corruption, of clandestine “bonuses,” and of traditional communication methods. Bukele barely went to meetings in the capital or in the towns of his tiny country and he avoided debates. He established, to be sure, his distance from Nicolás Maduro and Daniel Ortega, whom he described as “dictators.”

The new president is 37 and has a youthful aspect. If the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti asked for respect because he had been born with the cinema in 1902, Bukele and the young politicians of his generation, in all latitudes, can repeat that call because they were born with the internet, with computers, with Facebook and Twitter. They have another manner of communicating with voters and use it profusely. It is the story as well of Alexis Tsipras in Greece and of Pablo Iglesias in Spain, both Leninists fortunately hobbled by the moderate bourgeois reality of the European Union.

To combat social violence and its countereffect, local desires to emigrate, Bukele would have to create in his people reasonable hopes of prospering. After all, from Panama and Costa Rica, two Central American countries, almost no one leaves. It’s the other way around: they are full of immigrants who share the Panamanian “dream” and the Costa Rican “dream.” They are escaping, instead, from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

How is this miracle achieved? Investing in “human capital,” that is to say, in education and healthcare, but creating sources of work that allow a surplus to be produced over a couple of decades to be able to realize that investment. There are no shortcuts, but the secret is to be a little better each year that passes and forget about charismatic leaders. Freedom, the law, and institutions are irreplaceable. “Poor are the peoples who need heroes,” said Bertold Brecht, although he did not always obey his fair warning.

As for prosperity, all the information available on Bukele makes one think that he trusts in public spending to achieve it. He was a populist mayor, and it is a shame, because that path leads to disaster. He would do very well to dedicate five minutes to a brief YouTube video produced by the Liberty and Progress Foundation of Argentina entitled Productive Work vs. Unproductive Work.

Argentina is one of the few countries on earth that has gone little by little underdeveloping itself and conquering poverty without pause or truce. There he would learn that the growing prosperity is the result of the constant increase in productivity generated by the creativity almost without obstacles of entrepreneurs.

It is not even worthwhile for Bukele to hide behind the size and population of El Salvador to justify a hypothetical failure. They are the same as those of Israel, only that the successful Jewish state is surrounded by enemies, while El Salvador has the advantage of counting on the sympathies and the desire to help of half the planet. Let us hope that common sense enlightens Bukele. If he is not successful it will be terrible.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

__________________________________

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.

Everything in Cuba is About the Same Thing

Several artists and independent reporters organized to bring aid to the areas most affected by the tornado in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marta Requeiro, 8 February 2019 — We are all hurt by what happens in Cuba, and even more so now by what happened in Havana and seeing the damage caused by the January 27 tornado. However, I am surprised that there are those who ask that the issue of the suffering of the people, homeless and without food, not be mixed up with the political issue. I tell myself: How can that be possible?! How can we not see that one thing is a consequence of the other, that everything has a common denominator: the Government?

Thanks to the Government, Cuba is what it is: a country made up of families seaparated and scattered around the world, with a people divided by fear of reprisals, with supposed followers of the government who clap in the open, or shut up, and criticize from behind. With citizens unmotivated by work because it does not give them opportunities to progress. With people who, if they want to help, come up against the disapproval and lack of gratitude of the already legendary rulers. continue reading

Who to blame then? Why is a bag of cement sold at exorbitant prices? Whose fault is it that there is no Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning that works and distributes construction materials, free to those who lost their homes to focus on their reconstruction or that there are no brigades created to work in the fulfillment of that goal?

Who do we question because there is no canned food to distribute to those affected at a time like this, and if there is, it is sold, not given away? Why don’t we talk about dining rooms for these people? Where is the Ministry of the Food Industry with enough reserves to bring sustenance to those distressed in the affected areas?

We don’t want anyone to be confused, everything is a purely political issue. The fact that in a country where, by nature, cyclones, floods and phenomena such as the one that occurred, there is no entity, even a municipal entity, that operates effectively and accurately, is a serious problem of government and political mismanagement.

A disabled person loses his wheelchair under the rubble and can not acquire another quickly because there is no fully effective Ministry of Health to go when this happens, for example.

If everything worked properly we could stop talking about politics and focus on sending aid without fear of inadequate distribution, or contributing to the illicit enrichment of a few. Better yet, we could cooperate without setting conditions.

Applying common sense, we must realize that we can not separate the humanitarian issue from the political in Cuba, it is impossible. By thinking like that, by putting a patch on the wound of the shortages, we are propping up and making the calamity continue in the land that watched us being born.

Every time a natural disaster occurs on the island, the victims go mad when they see the hours go by without receiving help.

Whoever does not want to relate the situation in Havana at this time with the situation in the whole country is being partial and selfish. I ask, please, don’t be carried away by paternalistic feelings and look at the concrete reality.

It is good that neighbors offer a helping hand, it is a matter of conscience and principles that families help each other in difficult times, but the underlying problem of this and all the bad situations in Cuba is a theme that strikes the gong of decadence and it has to do with politics. It does.

____________________

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.

OCDH Invites Cubans With Spanish Citizenship to Say No to the New Constitution

Line at the Spanish consulate to vote in the last general elections in Spain. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 February 2019 — On Wednesday, the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid, asked Cubans living on the island who also have Spanish citizenship to vote No in the constitutional referendum on 24 February.

“I invite you not only to admire your Spanish passport, but also — as a Cuban — to look at the democracy of that great nation, a democracy that was built with much sacrifice, but in a peaceful way: a nation of Laws. continue reading

“You need an urgent change of direction, voting as the government wants you to is to say that everything is going well, and you know that this is not true, so I ask you to dream and demand for your family a democracy and welfare state like that enjoyed by millions of Spaniards,” the OCDH invites this group known on the island as cubañoles.

According to the OCDH, voting No in the referendum would be “the first step” to move towards the enjoyment of “a democracy and a welfare state.”

Alejandro González Raga, executive director of the OCDH and former Cuban political prisoner, shared the message on social networks. The group said that for 60 years, the Communist Party of Cuba has only sown division and misery in a country where young people have no future and the elderly ask, “for how long?”

About 150,000 Cubans have obtained Spanish nationality in the last 10 years as a result of the Law of Historical Memory or “law of the grandchildren” as it is popularly called.

_______________________________

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.

Venezuela Sends 100 Tons of Aid to Cuba for Tornado Victims

The donation arrived in Cuba after a week’s voyage on a Venezuelan Naval ship. (Ricardo López Hevia)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 9 February 2019 —  On Friday, Havana received one hundred tons of construction materials and machinery sent by Venezuela to alleviate the damages of the tornado on 27 January that devastated five neighborhoods of the Cuban capital, leaving six dead, 195 injured and more than 10,000 displaced.

The Venezuelan donation arrived in Cuba after a weeklong voyage on a Naval ship of that country, which transported a cargo that includes machines for moving earth and debris, forklifts, trucks, pipes, electric cables, doors and windows. continue reading

“We are here to offer support (…) even in moments when Venezuela suffers a political and economic aggression led by the United States,” Venezuelan commander Vladimir Maldonado told the state-run Cuban News Agency.

Venezuela’s gesture of solidarity coincides with a moment of political and humanitarian crisis in the South American nation, whose president, Nicolás Maduro, the main ally of Havana in the region, has received criticism for sending aid to Cuba amid the shortages in Venezuela itself.

The island maintains its support for Maduro, whom it recognizes as the sole ruler of Venezuela after the proclamation, on Wednesday, 23 Jaunary, by the leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, naming himself as interim president, with the immediate support of the United States. and several Latin American nations.

Last Sunday, 27January, Havana was surprised by an intense tornado that hit five districts in the east of the capital with winds that exceeded 300 kilometers per hour.

Almost two weeks after the disaster, there are more than 4,800 affected households, a number that grows every day and further complicates the delicate situation of housing in Havana, the most populated city on the island.

In the Cuban capital more than 200,000 cubic meters of rubble have been collected, among which are remains of walls, roofs, cars dragged by gusts and lighting poles.

________________________

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.

Parents of the Doctor Murdered in Brazil Want to Bring Her Baby to Cuba

The husband of Laidys Sosa, identified as Dailton Gonçalves and of Brazilian nationality, confessed to the crime upon being detained by police. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, February 10, 2019 — The parents of Laidys Sosa, the Cuban doctor who was murdered last Sunday by her husband in the state of Sao Paulo, traveled this Monday to Brazil to claim custody of the young woman’s baby, as 14ymedio confirmed from sources close to the victim.

The doctor, 37, was attacked in the home where the couple lived, in the town of Mauá. According to official sources, her husband, identified as Dailton Gonçalves and of Brazilian nationality, confessed to the crime upon being detained by police.

Gonçalves, 45, fled in a vehicle after committing the murder, but he was arrested hours later by authorities on a highway several kilometers from his home. Upon being interrogated he said that he killed his wife by striking her at least 10 times with a screwdriver. continue reading

The man, who was taking medication for anxiety, said that the murder of his wife had not been a sin, “but rather a sacrifice.” After killing her, he hid the body in a wooded area.

The doctor’s parents traveled from Cuba to Brazil to ask for “the custody of the baby and to be able to bring him to the island as quickly as possible,” explained a member of Laidys Sosa’s family, “because this is the most important thing at this time.” Several colleagues and friends “raised funds to pay for the cremation” of Laidys Sosa’s body and several legal matters.

The source added that at this time the child is with the doctor’s parents and that on February 18 they have a meeting with a Brazilian judge to resolve the custody of the minor. “The paternal grandparents already signed a legal paper in which they accepted that the maternal grandparents would have custody,” pointed out the source.

The Brazilian lawyer André De Santana Correa told 14ymedio that the minor’s maternal grandparents have “every right” to assume custody if becomes impossible for the parents to protect the child.

“Without a doubt, it is a very painful case, but the right of family protects them. They are the ones who must protect the minor,” added De Santana Correa, who has several cases related to Cuban doctors in Brazil.

“She was a woman who was full of life and very hopeful for her future in Brazil,” a Cuban doctor who preferred to remain anonymous told this newspaper. The doctor, who also lives in the state of Sao Paulo after having decided not to return to Cuba, says that a few weeks ago he exchanged messages via social media with Sosa.

“She told me that she was already coming out of the most complicated moments of having had a baby and that she was eager to return to her profession,” says the doctor. “She was a very positive woman and also very caring because she used to give lots of advice about how to settle in this country, for those of us who had legal questions to resolve.”

Sosa was one of the more than 2,000 doctors who decided not to return to Cuba after Havana’s decision to withdraw from the Mais Médicos program in response to statements from the then-president elect of Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro demanded that the doctors revalidate their titles, be able to bring their family members to that country, and be given their entire salary. The Cuban government was keeping 75% of the $3,300 that Brazil was paying the doctors.

Brazil has the seventh highest rate of femicide in the world, with 4.4 murders for every 100,000 women, according to study done in 2012 under the headline Map of Violence.

In 2015 the law of femicide went into force, which provides for graver punishments in cases of crimes motivated by “discrimination against the condition of being a woman.” However, despite a greater legal rigor, 4,473 women were murdered in 2017, some 6.5% more than in 2016. Of that total, at least 946 were considered cases of femicide.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

__________________________________

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.

Police Raid Unpacu Headquarters in Response to Their No Campaign on the Constitutional Referendum

Image of a previous raid, in March of 2016, against the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 11, 2019 — The opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer was detained for more than five hours this Monday along with several members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu). The detentions occurred during the police raid of the headquarters of the opposition organization and the homes of activists in Santiago de Cuba starting at 6:30 in the morning.

“They told me that what happened was in response to the campaign to vote No on the Constitution [referendum],” Ferrer told this newspaper a few minutes after being released around 11:30am. Unpacu is carrying out an intense promotion for a vote to reject the new constitution via social media, and also distributing documents on the subject among Cubans.

The opposition leader revealed that the police transferred him with his hands cuffed behind his back and that the forces entered the organization’s headquarters “with violence, breaking the door first with instruments and then with kicks.” continue reading

The search also included the house of the opposition figure Carlos Amel Oliva. “They’ve been at the headquarters and at Carlos Amel’s house since 6:30 in the morning,” declared the activist Ovidio Martín to 14ymedio. The forces of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and of State Security burst into both buildings that are still “totally besieged” and “it’s impossible to approach,” he added.

Initially the detentions were confirmed by Luis Enrique Ferrer, brother of the ex-political prisoner and representative of the opposition organization in the United States. On the list of detainees are the dissidents Fernando González Vaillant, Ernesto Oliva Torres, and Carlos Torres Romero, in addition to Nelva Ismarais Ortega (around 25 weeks pregnant) and her grandmother.

All the landlines and mobile phones of the activists from the opposition organization in Santiago de Cuba are still disconnected, confirmed this newspaper, which was only able to communicate with Martín via social media.

The activist Ebert Hidalgo reported on his Facebook account that there were minors at the home of Carlos Amel Oliva at the time of the raid. “The street is full of patrol cars,” he commented, adding that an official from State Security, named Julio Fonseca, warned him to stay in his house and not report the events.

So far eight homes have been raided and among the confiscated objects are “five laptops, four mobile phones, a printer, a wifi antenna, twelve USB memory sticks, three hard drives,” in addition to other personal belongings like bags and T-shirts, detailed Luis Enrique Ferrer.

The entire neighborhood of the national headquarters of Unpacu “is besieged” and “they aren’t letting anyone in or out,” he added.

In the last five years the members of Unpacu have reported more than 40 assaults on their headquarters and on other homes of the organization’s activists, which is considered the biggest opposition group on the island and has a higher number of political prisoners. In July of 2018 the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) calculated that there were some 120 political prisoners in Cuba.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

___________________________________

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.

Nehanda Abiodun, Wanted by the FBI, Dies in Havana at 68

Nehanda Abiodun, formerly known as Cheri Laverne Dalton, was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2019 — Radical U.S. activist Nehanda Abiodun, charged in 1981 for involvement in the robbery of an armored vehicle that resulted in the deaths of two police officers and one security guard, passed away in Havana on the 30th of January at 68 years old, according to The New York Times.

The death of Abiodun was confirmed by Henry Louis Taylor Jr., a historian who interviewed the activist for a biography he was writing in collaboration with research fellow Linda McGlynn of the University of Buffalo.

Abiodun spent over 30 years living on the island as a fugitive. In her youth she joined the Republic of New Africa, an organization that sought to create an independent black nation in the southern United States. Authorities suspect she formed part of the self-titled Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army, radical groups that committed a series of bombings and abductions in the 60s and 70s. continue reading

On the 21st of October, 1981, the group to which Abiodun belonged attempted to rob 1.6 million dollars from an armored vehicle in New York. A band of armed individuals conducted an ambush on three security guards, killing a guard by the name of Peter Paige. During the escape, they exchanged gunfire with several police officers, ending the lives of officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.

Since this incident, Nehanda Abiodun, formerly known as Cheri Laverne Dalton, was on the FBI’s most wanted list for conspiracy and organized crime, among other charges.

Adiodun never admitted to having participated in the crimes, but did defend the perpetrators. In an interview in 2000 she expressed her lack of sympathy for the police officers who died in the robbery, as “they were upholding the genocidal and oppressive policies of the United States” which made them “soldiers who were at war with us.”

After several years of living underground, the activist fled to Cuba in 1990, where she received political asylum alongside others on the run from criminal justice in the U.S.

For years, the U.S. government has solicited Havana for the extradition of Adiodun and the rest of radical activists who are refugees on the island, but the Plaza of the Revolution never agreed to the request.

Translated by Carly Nicole Dunn

_____________________________

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.

Prohibited From Attending Childbirth

The strict regulations for the entry of men into Cuban maternal hospitals limit the attendance of fathers at births. (Cadena Agramonte)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camagüey | February 8, 2019 — The strict regulations for the entry of men into Cuban maternal hospitals ruined the plan that the new parents had imagined: she, still exhausted by the birth but happy, while he takes the first photo of the baby to show the family.

Despite the fact that the general regulations of hospitals, in force since 2007, don’t include limitations on a father accompanying a woman during the birth and recuperation phase, in the country’s maternal centers men are only allowed access, for an hour each day, to the rooms where mothers rest after giving birth.

Outside the Gynecological-Obstetrical Provincial University Hospital of Camagüey, this week fathers were crowding to enter for visiting hours, planned between five and six in the evening. Some had not yet met their babies and, in their conversations, complaints about the restrictions on access were mixed with expressions of happiness for the new child. continue reading

Outside the maternal hospital of Camagüey, this week fathers were crowding to enter for visiting hours. (14ymedio)

“Fathers are totally prohibited from staying in the birth rooms and access to the [recovery] rooms is only permitted during these visiting hours,” repeated the security staff. While the wait lengthened, some men recounted details that had reached them by telephone. “They say that the baby was born with a tuft of hair,” said one, full of pride. “They told me that the girl is just like her older brother,” added another.

“Let’s use logic. This is a women’s hospital in which the privacy of the mothers has to be respected,” a nurse from the hospital explained to 14ymedio under condition of anonymity. “The rooms where the mothers go after giving birth are shared, and doctors have to treat the wound from the episiotomy, so they need to protect the privacy of the patients,” she added.

For Yilber Durán, a young man from Nuevitas who was waiting in front of the hospital to meet his third baby, these rules are, at least, “arbitrary.” The lack of public transportation after six o’clock in the evening from Camagüey to the municipalities of the interior didn’t allow him to meet his baby until now.

“Since I can only see my wife between five and six in the evening, I had to figure out who to leave the other children with to be able to come and stay in the city after visiting her, because I don’t have my own transportation to return to Nuevitas,” he explains to this newspaper. Durán spent the night in the entrance hall of the maternal hospital, nodding off in a seat, like other fathers in the same situation.

According to official figures, almost 80% of the childbirths of the province happen in this hospital, which records some 6,000 each year. The scenes of fathers waiting outside or in the cramped lobby, popularly known as The Stork, have become common. Some can be seen early in the morning trying to find a clean bathroom near the hospital and others with a toothbrush sticking out of a pocket.

“I wanted to take care of my wife when the girl was born. It is my right as a father, but no matter how much I explain and ask, they don’t allow me,” complains Reinier Menéndez. “The height of the phobia against men is that at hospital admissions where they do the entry process, we can’t go through to the consultation area and there aren’t even bathrooms for us,” he laments.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) promotes responsible fatherhood and insists that this implies “being involved in all the key moments of development” of the child: “from family planning, pregnancy and prenatal health, preparation for the birth, childbirth, early childhood, childhood and adolescence, and for the entire life.”

“Men can’t stay here because there aren’t the conditions for that. It’s not a whim of the institution, we are defending the privacy of the women,” an employee of the Public Service Department at the hospital who only identified herself as Miriam explained to this newspaper. “From the time the woman enters for the birth she has a female companion who will help her until she is discharged,” she specified.

Some fathers can be seen early in the morning trying to find a clean bathroom near the hospital and others with a toothbrush sticking out of a pocket. (14ymedio)However, the situation becomes complicated when the future mother has no female family member or friend who can accompany her in the process. In several testimonies gathered by this newspaper of cases in which the pregnant women were not able to arrange female company, the hospital administration did not soften the restriction on access for a male companion.

In a telephone inquiry with more than ten maternal hospitals all over the country, the response was invariably the same. “Fathers cannot enter for the birth for reasons of hygiene and privacy,” “men are not permitted to accompany their wives during the birth phase,” and “they cannot stay in the rooms where they are placed after giving birth.”

Hundreds of kilometers from Camagüey, in Havana, Ronald, 34, just had a similar experience. “Ever since my wife started having the first pregnancy consultations, we told the doctor how important it was for me to be able to be there at the birth,” he explains.

“I wanted to experience the arrival of my first child,” he says. “I even got the clothes to enter the birth room and I prepared myself for that moment.” When Ronald’s wife began to feel the first contractions and they arrived at the hospital, the plans went to pieces. “They told us that it’s not done that way in Cuba and that men cannot go in for the birth, it was a big frustration.”

In statements to the official press, Dr. Ramón Rivero Pino recognizes the problem: “For many fathers it is frustrating arriving at the hospital accompanying their wives at the moment of birth” because “they feel that the entire shared experience, the good and bad times together as a family in relation to the child on the way is lost (faced with the access restrictions for them).”

“The demands of the hospital system place a barrier, an obstacle that doesn’t allow this work of three that was being done until that moment to continue,” emphasizes Rivero.

In Ronald’s case, the frustration of not being able to “be there for such a special moment” is even greater because he saw how two of his friends managed to access a birth room, “one because he is a doctor and the other because he paid to be there.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

______________________________________

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.

Eduardo Cardet Receives his First Visit at the Minimum Security Facility Where He Was Transferred

The prolonged confinement of Eduardo Cardet generated protests from international organizations such as Amnesty International. (oswaldopaya.org)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 February 2019 — Yaimaris Vecino, wife of Eduardo Cardet, visited the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement and prisoner of conscience for the first time at the minimum security prison to which he was transferred last Friday by the authorities.

The visit went “fairly well”, according to Vecino as she explained to 14ymedio, and she believes that Cardet’s living conditions have improved in the new prison. “Everything is better there: the ventilation, the food, it’s less overcrowded … they call that place La Aguada,” she explained.

“His mind is a bit more calm, there he is also still under lock and key, nor can he walk around. He’s still in prison, but there has been a slight improvement in his conditions,” said Vecino. continue reading

Although Cardet has the option of working, he has not been able to do so thus far due to a lack of documentation that is on the way to being solved. “Soon he will have that resolved,” said Vecino.

The new jail administrators will allow Cardet to spend some weekends at home with his family, although before that occurs he will be on probation for 60 days before receiving an initial leave pass.

“Now I can go to see him every fifteen days, everything is more flexible. Phone calls as well; there they are able to make calls whenever they want,” his wife emphasized.

Cardet’s lawyers, according to Vecino, have again solicited his conditional release. “This is the fourth time, the court denied previous requests, objecting that he was not in a minimum security regimen, there is no reason for the court not to agree to give it to him now that he is no longer in that situation. Hopefully all will end well and soon.”

The Cuban criminal code establishes that a prisoner can “receive the benefit of parole” after having completed part of his sentence while showing good behavior or when due to the details of the of the case, it is presumed that the purpose of the sentence can be achieved without its full execution or with only a partial execution”.

Cardet, born in 1968 and a physician by trade, was violently detained in November 2016, five days after the death of Fidel Castro, accused of the crime of assault against an official and sentenced to three years in prison in 2017 by the Provincial Court of Holguín.

Last year, at a ceremony held in Miami, Cardet was named the winner of the Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award. Amnesty International declared Eduardo Cardet a “prisoner of conscience” and launched several campaigns urgently calling for his “immediate and unconditional release.”

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.