Cuban Government "Whitewashes" Spying Against Its Citizens, Claims Human Rights Group

Police arrest demonstrators who participated in the LGBTI march on May 11, 2019 not authorized by the government. (Nuevo Herald)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 4, 2019 — There were at least 218 arbitrary arrests in Cuba during the month of November, a month which also saw the publishing of a Decree that legalizes or “whitewashes” spying on citizens, claimed the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights in its most recent report published this Tuesday.

Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, and Santiago de Cuba were the provinces that were most affected by the arrests, said the organization headquartered in Madrid, adding that “dozens of those affected were also violently arrested, fined, and threatened by police.”

The majority of those arrested “were trying to perform political activities the headquarters of their organizations, attend Mass, or travel to another province or municipality of the country.” Many others were “besieged in their homes to prevent them from going out to the street during celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana.” continue reading

The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights also denounced the Decree Law 389, which includes electronic vigilance. The new legislation “increases the arbitrariness of the state in practices that violate human rights, like the right to privacy and the inviolability of communication,” it detailed.

“The Cuban government has a long record of using technical resources to tap and later publicly air communications between persons who are committing no crime,” reminds the OCDH.

For its part, the Cuban Center of Human Rights (CCDH), led by the ex-political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque, warned that “among the principle methods of harassment that the political police currently practices, is that of not allowing dissidents to leave their homes.”

Home arrests violate “the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human being, established for all Cuban citizens,” pointed out the independent organization in a report disseminated this week.

The Center also denounced the imprisonment of the opposition figure José Daniel Ferrer García and harshly criticized the editorial published by the official newspaper Granma against the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba; the editorial tries to foment in the Cuban population “hatred against those who defend liberty, human rights, and democracy.” A strategy also followed by the video “full of lies” broadcast on national television.

The organization cited 78 prisoners of conscience in Cuban prisons, 29 with long sentences for other crimes against national security, and 21 under leave and house arrest, for a total of 128 political prisoners, detailed the report.

With a number that differs from that of the OCDH, the Center reported 196 detentions during the month of November. Among them were 122 women, “who remain the most besieged, in particular the Ladies in White.”

The organization warned of a “peak in detentions during the visit of the King and Queen of Spain, around November 11,” also the time around festivities for the half-millennium of Havana and during the day of the third anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro, on November 25.

Throughout this month there were also reported “eight people who were not allowed to leave the country because of migratory regulations,” for a total of 208 who have been “regulated,” according to data provided by the Patmos Institute and which have been gathered in this report.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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Bolivian Government Expels 300 Cubans and Venezuelans

Jeanine Añez assumes the interim presidency of Bolivia after a parliamentary session marked by the absence of members from the ruling party, Movement for Socialism.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 2, 2019 — Marcel Rivas, director of the Bolivian immigration service, told local reporters that the government has expelled some three hundred Cuban and Venezuelan nationals who were in the country illegally. They are not believed to have entered Bolivia either as tourists or to seek employment.

“We can state with confidence that there are more than three hundred Venezuelan and Cuban citizens who were in this country illegally, who are not complying with our laws,” added the official

According to Rivas most of the undocumented individuals were living in La Paz. He said the expulsions were carried out humanely and in compliance with the law.

“We carried out the latest operation on Thursday, during which time we repatriated roughly thirty-five Venezuelan citizens who were in the country illegally for more than six months,” he added.

Rivas said that immigration controls will be increased. At a press conference he said that a lack of political will on the part of the previous government led to Bolivia’s immigration control system becoming disconnected from Interpol, allowing drug traffickers and criminals to enter the country.

“Very serious damage has been done. Terrorist cells have been entering the country for a long time. The government minister has confirmed that there are terrorist cells operating here,” he added.

Since Evo Morales resigned as president and fled to Mexico in the wake of demonstrations over electoral fraud, the interim government has been suspicious of the presence of Cubans and Venezuelans in the country.

The new government suspects that some members of Cuban medical teams on missions to Bolivia were really state security agents. One of Jeanine Añez’ first decisions as interim president was to expel more than seven hundred Cuban agents from the country. Her government has also broken off relations with the Maduro regime and recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Bolivia has abandoned ALBA, a leftist trading bloc created by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez to expand Cuban influence in the region.

“We cannot allow violent Cubans, violent Venezuelans, to create disturbances in our country… We know that 21st century socialism has its own manual,” Áñez said in an interview with CNN in which she raised the issue of Cuban and Venezuelan interference in her country.

“One has to learn from outside experiences. Look at a photo of Cuba from 1960. They are so limited that they are always need godparents in order to survive. What successes has Cuba had? What successes has 21st century socialism had? We see a destroyed Venezuela. One of the richest and most beautiful countries in Latin America destroyed,” said Áñez, distancing herself from her predecessor’s ideological allies.


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Press or Propaganda?

Several generations of Cubans have become accustomed to finding only one version of reality in the national media. (Wikipedia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 5 December 2019 — For decades, we Cubans have lived under a strict information monopoly that has turned the public media into sounding boards of the Communist Party. Instead of journalism, what is published every day in national newspapers and broadcast on television and radio is closer to ideological propaganda.

In this way, several generations have become accustomed to finding in the national media only a version of reality, a limited part of the everyday stories and a single voice to try to narrate a polyphonic and diverse country. In a premeditated manner, the Plaza of the Revolution has excluded a diversity of information and has condemned the entire population to a discourse without nuances.

But, is this really a press or is it a political publicity that has taken over the microphones and pages of the national news? Without a doubt, it cannot be called “journalism.” Because any news work must include and shed light on a diversity of sources, opinions and judgments that go beyond what a single individual, a single human group or a single Party thinks or experiences. continue reading

We Cubans have lived so long under this “pseudo press” that a process of collective dismantling of these journalistic vices is necessary to be able to demand and encourage plural, inclusive and truthful media. Accommodating multiple opinions, presenting readers with several views on the same event and putting data ahead of adjectives, these are the first steps to achieve it.

But also, as readers, listeners and viewers we have to learn to respect the variety of approaches that a situation, a proposal or a public figure can generate. A diversity of opinions never detracts, rather it gives the audience the ability to form more complete, mature and serene judgments about any event.

The press cannot be propaganda at the service of a few, nor can it behave like a ventriloquist’s doll managed by a single group and forced to repeat its slogans to the letter. Journalism, when it is good, can be painful, uncomfortable or annoying. Trying to turn it into something docile and malleable only takes away what distinguishes it from the pamphlet.

If we are going to demand a free, democratic press with professional standards, let us prepare ourselves for the fact that many times it will publish issues that annoy us, opinions that we do not agree with and will also give space to signatures that oppose our positions. There will be days when we smile when reading the newspaper and others when it will leave a bitter taste, which will make us want to respond and complain. That is what we have to expect from good journalism: that it mobilizes us, shakes us, makes us rethink our opinions and evaluate those of others. To remove those thorns from the press is to reduce it to simple propaganda.

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Biologist Ruiz Urquiola Accuses the Cuban Government of Injecting Him With the AIDS Virus

The biologist, detained on May 11 in a gay rights march in Havana, doesn’t know if his is an isolated case in Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Geneva, December 2, 2019 — In a statement to EFE on Monday, Dr. Ariel Ruíz Urquiola, biologist, environmental activist and gay rights advocate, spoke before several German NGOs and denounced the Cuban Government for injecting him with the AIDS virus. He hopes they can bring his case before European forums and the United Nations.

In a telephone conversation from Neuchatel, Switzerland, Ruiz Urquiola said he has medical proof that he was injected with a strain of the virus in the provincial Abel Santamaría Hospital of Pinar del Río, while he was in the final phase of his hunger and thirst strike.

“The Swiss and German infectious-disease doctors have the proof in their hands,” Ruiz Urquiola indicated. This past November 27, he officially presented his case before the International Society for Human Rights and the Gay and Lesbian Union of Germany, both located in Frankfurt. continue reading

Ruiz Urquiola pointed out that both NGOs were working on trying to bring the case before the European Human Rights Court and the Office of Human Rights of the United Nations. This last institution already stated that the Government of Cuba had arbitrarily detained him.

The biologist told EFE that he is “absolutely certain” that he was injected with the virus in the Pinar del Río hospital, where they gave him physiological serums as well as supposedly concentrated glucose injections to treat the weakness he suffered during his hunger and thirst strike.

A little later, and two or three days after he was given permission to leave prison by the Pinar del Río Provincial Justice Court, he suffered symptoms of flu that he first suspected were an indication of tuberculosis. However, he discovered through an analysis that he was experiencing a reaction typical of the first phase of HIV infection.

Ruiz Urquiola explained that he had been tested for HIV the last time he was in prison and after leaving the provincial hospital, and he was negative both times. But he tested positive last June in Switzerland when he decided to have another test once he was reunited with his partner, a doctor.

“It’s another crime committed by the Cuban Government, like the one they committed against my sister,” he said. In the past he had staged a hunger strike to demand that the National Cancer and Radiobiology Institute treat his sister‘s cancer with monoclonal antibodies.

Since 2012, Ruiz Urquiola has been studying the origin and biological evolution of the Sierra de Los Órganos of Cuba, in a joint project of the University of Havana with Humboldt University of Berlin.

The University of Havana expelled him and boycotted his study, according to what he told EFE, but the University in Berlin wanted his work to continue, together with another professor, Dr. Thomas von Rintelen.

The biologist, who was detained on May 11 for demonstrating in support of gay rights in Havana, doesn’t know if his is an isolated case, but he says there is still a “social stigma” toward gays and people with the HIV virus or who have full-blown AIDS.

“Trolls on social networks accuse me of having caught AIDS in ‘one of my escapades’ or in prison, given that homosexual relations are stigmatized in Cuban society,” he said.

“What they don’t say is that I had no symptoms during the 11 months I was in Cuba, and that the virus was detected and characterized scientifically in Europe,” he emphasized.

Ruiz Urquiola reminded everyone that in another Communist regime, that of Nicolae Ceausescu in Rumanía, there was testimony that they practiced inoculations of HIV, especially on gays, “to crush the opposition and generate terror in the population.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba Blames "Reactionary Oligarchies" For Instability In Latin America

“The legitimate protests and massive popular mobilizations happening on the continent…are caused by poverty and growing inequality,” says the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 4, 2019 — The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded this Tuesday in a statement to the United States’s accusations that the Island and Venezuela were involved in the protests shaking Latin America.

In a lengthy statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Washington and the “reactionary oligarchies” of being responsible “for the dangerous upheavals and political and social instability in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“The legitimate protests and massive popular mobilizations happening on the continent…are caused by poverty and growing inequality,” said the Ministry. continue reading

“Neoliberal formulas aggravate the exclusionary and unsustainable situation of social vulnerability,” added the Ministry, which pointed to, among the reasons for the disturbances in various countries of the region, “privatization, shortages, and the cancellation of public services and increase in citizen insecurity.”

The Ministry added that the demonstrations in Latin America “reveal the crisis of political systems, the lack of true democracy, and the discrediting of traditional conservative parties.”

According to the Cuban Ministry, “The United States defends and supports repression against demonstrators” with the conspiracy of what the Island called “the great media outlets.”

The US special representative for the crisis in Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said this week that Cuba and Venezuela “have made many statements and messages on social media” in an effort to “exacerbate the protests” in Latin America.

“One has to pay attention to the public statements of Cuba and Venezuela in recent weeks that have basically tried to promote a major destablization everywhere, I believe that it’s clear that it benefits them, that they are promoting it, and that they will continue speaking publicly about it,” he added.

The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, also made reference to the influence of the two communist countries in the massive protests Latin America is experiencing.

“We in the Trump administration will continue to support countries trying to prevent Cuba and Venezuela from hijacking those protests and we’ll work with legitimate [governments] to prevent protests from morphing into riots and violence that don’t reflect the democratic will of the people,” said Pompeo.

Cuba and Venezuela have also been pointed out as countries of origin of an enormous quantity of tweets that egged on violent protests in Chile.

The Cuban government denounced what it considered a persecution against leftist leaders like Dilma Rousseff, Rafael Correa, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, some of whom have pending legal processes for alleged corruption.

Cuba also denounced what it considered a coup d’etat in Bolivia, where its ally Evo Morales was forced to resign after massive demonstrations over alleged electoral fraud, and the worsening of the Venezuelan crisis, for which it blamed the “corrupt” Juan Guaidó. According to the Cuban government, “it hurts imperialism that Cuba has demonstrated that another world is indeed possible and that indeed an alternative model to neoliberalism can be built.”

“In the dramatic situation that the region and the world are experiencing, Cuba reaffirms the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, and the right of every people to freely elect and build its own political system,” added the Ministry.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

US Grants Parole To Cuban Journalist Jose Ramirez Pantoja

Ramírez Pantoja minutes after leaving behind the Mexican border last May. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 4, 2019 — The Cuban journalist José Ramírez Pantoja, who requested political asylum at the United States border seven months ago, was freed on parole this week, although he will remain in detention until he pays bail.

The reporter is asking for help from the community to pay what remains of the $10,000 bail imposed by authorities. He needs $1,800 to complete the sum, and as soon as he pays it he will be released and plans to go live with his family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I feel very excited to be able to restart my life after passing so many months in detention requesting asylum. They have been very hard months. The persecution to which I was subjected in Cuba made me make this difficult decision but I have faith that in this land of liberty I will have the possibility of growing as a human and as a person,” Ramírez Pantoja told the Nuevo Herald by phone. continue reading

After leaving the detention center with a parole document, Ramírez Pantoja will have recourse to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants legal permanent residence status to any Cuban who spends a year in the United States after a legal entry.

In 2016 Ramírez Pantoja published comments from Karina Marrón, deputy director of the offical newspaper Granma, alerting journalists of “massive protests,” similar to those of the Maleconazo of 1994, if another Special Period was repeated in Cuba.

The commotion that the publication generated led to Ramírez Pantoja being expelled from Radio Holguin, in the far east of the island, and he was censored in all official Cuban media. When he tried to write for the independent press, he was threatened by the authorities with prison.

“They left me without work or sustenance, the years that I worked as a journalist didn’t matter to them, only the fact of reporting information. After the threats came the pressure. They wanted me to stop working for the independent press while continuing to censor my work in the official press,” Ramírez Pantoja said by phone minutes after requesting asylum at the United States border in May of this year.

After his dismissal from the official press, the Municipal Popular Court of Holguin ratified the sentence against him. The National Ethics Commission of the Cuba Journalists’ Union also ruled against him.

From the party liners, powerful voices within the media accused him of trying to move “to the Miami press.” Ramírez Pantoja’s case was included in the 2016 report published by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ). The organization, headquartered in New York, then warned of an increase in arrests of journalists on the island, confiscations of work materials, and warning letters from the police to reporters.

Ramírez Pantoja was forced to work as a domestic. After a series of appeals and letters asking to be readmitted to the Cuban press outlets controlled by the state, Ramírez Pantoja ventured into the independent press, writing for El Toque, OnCuba, and 14ymedio, sometimes under his own name and other times under a pseudonym.

The number of Cubans presenting themselves at the southern border of the United States to request asylum continues to grow, according to recent numbers provided by Border Patrol. In the fiscal year of 2019 21,499 Cubans presented themselves, while in the fiscal year 2020 so far (as of October 1) 1,497 Cubans have reached the border.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The First Group of Doctors Expelled from Ecuador Arrive in Cuba

Most of the healthcare personnel stayed in Santiago de Cuba, following the trip of 58 workers to Havana  (@APPP_StgoDeCuba).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 19, 2019 — The first group of Cuban doctors coming back from Ecuador arrived on the Island very early in the morning this Tuesday at Santiago de Cuba. Of the 177 aid workers who returned in this contingent, 119, all from the eastern provinces, remained on the ground. The flight continued on to Havana, where the 58 remaining were received by the authorities, as usual.

The Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, and Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, the Vice Minister of Foreign Relations, were on the official committee in charge of welcoming the advance guard, since more than half of the Cuban healthcare workers didn’t return.

“Cuban doctors always go where they’re needed, respected and recognized,” said Portal Miranda from Terminal 3 of José Martí International Airport. continue reading

The Ecuadorian Government, on November 12, put an end to the arrangement with Cuba for doctors, which had around 400 people working in the country. María Paulo Romo, a government minister, announced the rupture and argued that at least 250 people with official Cuban passports entered the country while violent protests were going on at the beginning of October.

”Governments of every country have the authority to issue passports to their citizens, at their discretion. Our Foreign Ministry is working with the Cuban Embassy to figure out the reason for these passports. In most cases, they were used by Cuban doctors,” she said.

The Cuban Ministry of Public Health said their doctors in Ecuador “strictly” fulfilled the responsibilities of their contracts and blamed the U.S. for trying to “sabotage” and “discredit” the prestige of their ”international cooperation” in Latin America.

Cuba’s medical cooperation in Ecuador began in 1992 and was strengthened in 2009 with the signing of a framework agreement in matters of health during the visit of Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa to Cuba.

From the beginning of the collaboration, some 3,565 Cuban health professionals have worked in Ecuador, deployed in 23 of the 24 provinces of the country. They’ve performed more than 6.7 million medical consults, 212,360 surgeries and given 100,084 vaccinations, according to official data.

But again, there is exploitation by the Cuban Government, which pays each doctor between 700 and 800 dollars per month, while receiving $2,641 per month from the Ecuadorian Government, according to statements by Cuban doctors who worked on the medical missions.

Furthermore, the health workers, as in other countries where they’re deployed, have renounced the holding of their passports, the falsifying of statistics and the obligation to participate in the Regime’s propaganda. All that under the constant threat of preventing their return to the Island for a period of eight years and being separated, as a result, from their families.

For Cuba, international medical cooperation is one of the pillars of its foreign policy and the largest contribution to its economy. Last year Cuba reported earnings of more than six billion dollars from the work of its professionals abroad. The Government keeps around 75% of the salaries paid for the ‘cooperators’, a method very similar to that used by North Korea.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Crisis Hits the Emergency Rooms of Cuba Hospitals Hard

The Emergency Room of the Manual Fajardo Hospital in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 December 2019 — It’s Saturday night in the Calixto García Hospital Emergency Room in Havana and there is no room for anyone else in the line of those waiting. Doctors know that on the weekend, when the sun goes down, emergency cases multiply, but serums, needles and gloves to care for patients remain scarce.

In the row of seats in front of the consultation, all cases seem urgent. A lady has spent hours with her hand on her ear because of a sharp pain and a young man enters almost dragging his elderly father. It can take hours to be seen and that does not guarantee a treatment, because the lack of supplies limits the work of doctors.

The economic crisis that crosses the Island is experienced with more drama in emergency hospital services. While health professionals must deal with the shortages in the Emergency Rooms where they work, patients face the dilemma of continuing to wait or going somewhere else, hoping it will be better stocked. continue reading

“We are going to another hospital, here I have been told that my father must stay admitted but since there are no beds, I must bring a chair from my house,” complains the young man who had arrived with the almost faint old man . The list of what is missing is long: stretchers, bandages, serums, syringes, wheelchairs and much more.

In another hospital near Calixto García the room is less crowded, but the doctor on duty is seen entering and leaving the office, going up and down the stairs, knocking on doors, calling on the phone while attending to a patient. Try to look everywhere for the missing supplies to alleviate the situation of a man who has arrived dehydrated.

“The first thing missing is the cannula, a thin tube that is used to channel the veins of patients who need basic medical attention in emergencies,” the doctor explains to 14ymedio, under the condition of anonymity. “We try to resolve it without the patient realizing that we are looking in another room, but that creates additional tension.”

The doctor points out that the supply of everything is “very intermittent” and that in the case of the cannula he never has at his disposal all the different sizes to be able to select the most appropriate one. Generally, many old people arrive at the Guard Corps “that almost always have thin, fragile veins and a large cannula cannot be placed on a patient with these characteristics, because it is very difficult to insert it,” he clarifies.

Last August, the cannula shortage reached its worst moment and in the Havana Emergency Rooms there were barely three to four units available for use each day. “If more patients arrived who needed them, you had to ’invent’ it yourself,” describes a nurse at the Joaquín Albarrán Surgical Clinical Hospital.

Intravenous cannula, “20 gauge, medium size.” (14ymedio)

Patients, aware of the situation, sometimes arrive with their own resources. “I brought everything, several sizes of disposable syringes, alcohol and the sterilized cottons that my daughter sent me from Miami,” says a lady who is being treated for an injured leg.

A wide variety of these products are also sold on the Island’s black markets. Together with vitamins, pain relievers and skin creams, merchants in these informal networks offer hospital supplies, including the thread for surgical sutures. Those who have more resources get everything ready before being admitted.

However, most patients have to settle for what is available in public hospitals. “If a transfusion is going to be done or during an operation, one type of cannula is needed and there is another for cancer patients,” a young doctor tells this newspaper, saying that since he graduated he has never had “a complete collection of varieties.”

“The alternative is to use a needle that comes in disposable syringes, which are not intended to leave in the vein,” he says. “If the patient moves, the needle slips out of the vein and a bruise can occur or the medicine gets into the tissue around the vein, which becomes infected and inflamed.”

Venoclysis (infusion) devices, the system used to connect solutions and sera to the patient, are also in short supply. A shortage that “greatly affects medical care, when there are few, you have to get them from other rooms to guarantee emergency services,” says the doctor.

The state-owned company MediCuba imports supplies and technology annually worth $400,000 for Public Health, according to a recent report on national television. However, a source from the Ministry of Public Health explains that a large share of the of Venoclysis devices are manufactured in Cuba, but the distribution varies throughout the year.

Another item missing from the emergency rooms are the aqueous solutions for clinical use and among them, the most affected are the so-called crystalloids, which are used in intravenous therapy to replace lost fluids. Several doctors consulted say that when they are available they are imported from Uruguay, China and India, but that in Cuba they are hardly produced due to problems with the availability of packaging.

In an emergency room such as Calixto García’s, where in one day about 200 patients are treated, doctors only receive a maximum of about 30 sera for use throughout the day. A limitation that significantly affects the service and generates wide discomfort among patients and among doctors who demand more investments in the sector.

During 2018, the ’sale’ of Cuban medical services abroad brought nearly 6.4 billion dollars into the national coffers, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Information, but health professionals regret that these resources are not reflected of the Island’s hospitals.

“These billions of dollars have been coming in for many years and the situation in the emergency rooms remains critical,” adds a doctor from Calixto Garcia as he walks the halls in search of serum for a patient who has just arrived.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Revolutionary Baseball Must Die

If conditions in stadiums and players’ lives improved a little, baseball would not be saved, but it would be a respite. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ernesto Santana, Chicago, 27 November 2019 — The actor Alexis Valdés has commented on the social networks that, as he was told, the Communist Party has provided the humorists with a great joke: “Compañeros, we need to be criticized.” And also macabre joke, of course, like the cat’s joke on the mice.

A journalist from Cubadebate, a notable spokesperson for the Party, has alluded to another feline by stating that Cuban baseball should recover “the eye of the tiger,” because “the cat’s eyes contain previous experience, precise calculation, strength, courage, creativity, desires, intelligence, ambition and respect.”

They want to make us believe that the announced popular consultation, asking for suggestions on how to raise the quality of baseball has as its objective that Cuban baseball recovers “the eye of the tiger.” That is, the cat asks the mice to give their opinion on how the power play between both parties can be improved. Seriously. continue reading

When the national sport sinks into its historical nadir, the manager tries a play that generates sympathy at first sight, but the history of the consultations promoted by the Government only leads one to think that there is already a decision; that this survey is part of the authoritarian rhetoric with which each thread moves and the dramaturgy that inevitably precedes an imposition.

It is intended that we believe that the players matter, that there is a will to fix the mess and that what is wanted in the first place is to save the great national spectacle. As always, the induced hallucination of “the great reform.” And the figurehead of that campaign is the new national baseball director, Ernesto Reynoso.

“The most important thing is to achieve consensus. To unite the Cuban baseball family,” hammers the manager, stressing that “proposals that contribute to the gradual development” of that sport are sought. The consulting commission will travel throughout the country holding a couple of daily meetings. What profundity.

In addition to the flippancy of a survey that will tell us what everyone already knows, it is striking that Cuba is debating the takeoff, with an itinerary that specifies the landing site. To declare that there is interest on the part of the authorities for “popular wisdom” is a cynical propaganda trick to put a drop of “democracy” in the air freshener.

When the call to the consultation ensures that “magic solutions” are not wanted, we have already been given the key: for the great manager in the shade it is vital that there are no essential changes. The game remains the same. Entrenched. It is played like this or not played.

Anyone who thinks that this maneuver exposes the inability of sports management to solve the problems must take into account that this inability has been in sight for a long time and that the Government does not flinch, because it will never accept that it must stop handling the destiny of baseball.

It is true that without financial resources and without the essential contribution of the greatest Cuban players abroad, this sport will never return to the previous high level, especially if baseball is already being played around the world in a very different dimension from that which existed when Cuba shone in the international stadiums.

Then this government order arrives, with its tactical manner of exploring and continuing the dilatory game while beginning to apply its crooked concept of marketing, propagating a “solution” that, although still invisible, has already been cooked up in the Party’s boiler.

The worst part is that our baseball is in such a critical condition that almost any arrangement means extending the agony. If conditions in stadiums and players’ lives improved a little, baseball would not be saved, but it would be a respite. If the Government gave the national sport to the military businessmen — a move that would be successful with its raptor and sectarian logic — it would be a longer relief.

What does not exist is a cure for this patient. The so-called revolutionary baseball must die and give way to the usual baseball, which is the only real one. “The only solution that sport needs is freedom and they know it,” an anonymous commentator wrote in the news. “Another story to beat around the bush,” says another. “Why waste time, why go crazy,” asks a third, if “our love has been lost like a shooting star?”

And everyone knows that. What is really wrong is not to have lost “the eye of the tiger,” but to maintain what caused the loss: the eye of the master, who fears the tiger of reality.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Slow Agony and Death of Fidel Castro’s Currency

Cuba’s two official currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso (CUP).

14ymedio biggerElías Amor Bravo, Economist, 27 November 2019 — The CUC was the fictitious currency created by Fidel Castro during the Special Period to avoid the dollarization of the Cuban economy. A controversial decision that has created not a few problems in the operation of demand and supply.

Three years after his death, the authorities seem to have lost confidence in that currency and anticipate a long and slow agony. A magnificent chronicle by Cuban journalists Luz Escobar and Mario J. Pentón for 14ymedio about the depreciation of the CUC, encourages fears about the way in which the authorities will address the elimination of this currency.

Causing its loss of value, until it dies of starvation. Instead of announcing an end to the fictitious currency, on a transparent and clear date and conditions so that the economic agents having CUCs in their possession know what to expect, the communist leaders have grown tired of the mortgage of the CUC and according to information coming from the island, its days are numbered. But best of all, the pressure of the dollar continues, and even increases in strength. Arango and Parreño already said it. continue reading

At the moment, the depreciation of the CUC is noted, above all, in the transactions that are carried out in the powerful and diversified informal economy that exists in Cuba, whose development and social roots are due to the prohibitions, obstacles and communist interferences in normal behavior of economic agents on the island.

Well, the CUC has depreciated in these informal exchange markets, and citizens are surprised when changing the dollars they receive from their families for CUC that they get a greater amount of currency. In fact, many people are asking their relatives abroad, instead of sending remittances by bank, to bring the money in their pockets. It will not take long to see the Cuban customs searching those who enter the country.

A good part of the convulsion suffered by the price of the CUC is due to the competition of the dollar, which the leaders of the regime have allowed to be used stores in an attempt to compete with private imports (via ’mules’) of household appliances and auto parts.

This fact has meant that the value of the CUC is reduced by 30% in the black market while the official exchange rate is still applied in the official CADECA currency exchanges.

Conclusion, those who receive remittances from the United States now get more CUCs for the same amount of dollars if they change them in the informal markets. Mules that carry cash will see their business grow.

But the collapse of the CUC has very negative consequences on demand and supply, because its loss of value and progressive cornering in the economic system will influence the behavior of the prices of goods purchased with this currency, which are practically all, as there is more variety and they are used in more and better stocked stores.

At the moment, in the shops of the Rancho Boyeros airport it has been announced that payment is not accepted in CUC, so that tourists who arrive with remnants in this currency to make the last purchases should be aware that this practice will be impossible.

In the short term, the depreciation of the CUC will increase the price of the goods that are bought with this currency, or in other words, to buy a specific product, more CUC will be necessary than before. This can have an inflationary impact.

Now, if prices cannot increase, because they are buffered or because there is no market reaction, then the goods will be scarce. The CUC may not even be accepted as a means of payment in some establishments. This would be the final death of Fidel Castro’s currency.

As for the offer, I do not want to think about the problems created in state companies that keep their accounts in double currency, when one of them continuously loses value and the other does not. Reviewing the accounts, re-analyzing the investment plans and calculating the balance sheet and income statement ratios, becomes a very complicated task with the new situation.

Another major loser with the depreciation of the CUC is the regime, the state apparatus, basically because it will not be raising the dollars that previously entered the CADECA network (the official exchange houses) since many people prefer to change their currency in the informal market where they get more for it and also avoid the 10% tax on the dollar in cash.

Cubans will retain dollars for all types of operations, from leaving the country, to buying goods or services inside, a large number of activities.

The steps towards dollarization are being taken. As the government forces people to open accounts in dollars to be able to buy appliances in a series of state stores, by means of an electronic card, the resistance to this procedure will also mean losses for the regime, along with those in the CADECAs.

The appreciation of the dollar and the simultaneous depreciation of the CUC in the informal market is apparently not affecting the Cuban peso (CUP), which is outside these trends, at least for now. But it will soon be affected, despite its marginal role in the economy. The depreciation of the CUC may mean that its exchange with the CUP, currently 1:24, also ends up benefiting the Cuban peso, the historical currency.

Imagine the parity in the exchange and the consequences that this could have on the economy. I do not see how this can be possible if one takes into account, as already stated in another entry in this blog, that the fundamentals of the economy do not give much attention to the CUP. In any case, this is the most complex scenario ahead.

Meanwhile, it will be necessary to see what happens with the most important economic operations on the island, such as the purchase and sale of homes, the rental of vehicles or the supply of inputs by private entrepreneurs. An apartment, with the price in CUC, may experience a price increase, if currency depreciation continues. Conclusion, people will end up conducting operations in dollars or in extreme cases, in CUP.

Therefore, it is assumed that the demand for dollars by the population will increase. A demand that also the authorities of the regime will also have to face with international creditors. The conflict is set. Letting the CUC die is a possibility; however, there is a weak link: deposit holders in this currency have to receive some kind of compensation if the dreaded losses occur.

And given the magnitude of monetary circulation in Cuba, where cash in the hands of the public is as much as 25% of GDP, it will not be easy to drain that liquidity. Monetary unification in Cuba is far from being achieved. The CUC will continue to languish until it finally dies.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Carlos Varela Fans See an Act of Censorship in the Decision to Cancel Five Concerts

A quarter of a century after the success of ’Like the fish’, Carlos Varela launched his most recent album entitled ’El grito mudo’ on digital platforms. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 Novembe 2019 —  The singer-songwriter Carlos Varela has lamented on Facebook the suspension of five concerts he planned to do in Cuba before the end of the year. Cultural authorities informed the artist that “the country is not in a position to do this tour” and that he should postpone the presentations to 2020.

“It is not my fault that these shows will not take place on the announced dates. I was very excited to meet again with my audience in Cuba… I have been writing songs for 35 years, composing and recording them as I decide. Touring several cities in the country, I don’t decide.”

The artist explained that these presentations involve “a process of permits and coordination” that are not in his hands to achieve in the current situation. “I’m very sorry, this change of dates has never been my decision.” continue reading

Within a few hours, Varela’s publication on the social network received hundreds of comments, most of them followers of his work who lamented the postponement.

The Internet user Hector Alexis Bernal Suárez also believed the cancellation was an act of censorship against the troubadour. “The usual inquisition, trying to burn your forest, don’t give up. Cuba needs your music a lot, more than anywhere else in the world.”

Others, such as Ana Rosa Martínez questioned the alleged inability of the State to organize concerts. “How is it possible that a country cannot guarantee or authorize five places, theaters, cinemas, squares, ball stadiums, barren lots, houses of culture, five stages to give a concert?” The Internet user adds that “if they had let their fans organize the concerts, they would surely have found all five places.”

Recently Varela reported that they cut fragments of his song Habáname that was sung by an actress during the gala of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Havana. “They manipulated my verses and took away the true meaning.” They stripped the song of all “the weight contained in the phrase that they omitted and that caused me to write this song,” he added.

After a quarter of a century of the success of Como los peces (Like the fishes), Carlos Varela launched his most recent album entitled El grito mudo (The mute scream) on digital platforms and, at the end of November, its launch on the Island is planned. In an interview published by Vistar magazine the artist said that the song Why not?, with which the album begins, is “a super high theme with a philosophical discourse that is shouting all the time for a change.”

In these years the artist has had to deal on several occasions with the animosity and the cancelling of cultural institutions. In another interview, he said that in Cuba he has been “censored several times.”

“Theaters like the Karl Marx have completely blocked me like in the year 2000 where they left 5,000 people with their tickets without being able to pass through the wide police cordons on Fifth Avenue, but nobody told us that the theater was already completely full of uniformed students who arrived in 200 yellow buses,” he said in an interview.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Tourists and Some Cubans Are Happy about the CUC’s Devaluation

Morales estimates that the State is “losing millions” that will be seen in the medium and long term and will damage its foreign exchange reserves. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar / Mario J. Pentón, Havana / Miami, 26 November 2019  — When his mother asked him to send the usual monthly remittance in dollars, Guillermo Prieto — a Cuban man living in Homestead, a town south of Miami — thought it was so she could buy a household appliance at one of the new government-owned hard currency stores.

He was quite surprised when the 75-year-old woman told him about exchanging it on the black market. “I’ve been sending her a hundred dollars through Western Union but she says it would better if I sent it through ’mules’ because she can get a better exchange rate on the street,” says Prieto.

Competition from the dollar, which the government has reintroduced as a payment option in stores designed to compete with private imports of appliances and auto parts, has reduced the value of the convertible peso (CUC) by 30% on the black market. As several economists consulted for this article point out, those who rely on remittances from the United States now get more CUCs for their dollars. continue reading

Prieto says that, for his mother to get her 100 CUC, he had to pay Western Union $115.99, which included a $12.99 commission. One dollar is now worth 0.97 CUC at the official exchange rate. If he sends it through mules, however, he pays only $10 for every $100. And she gets it in green backs.

According to economist Emilio Morales of the Havana Consulting Group, the big loser in the CUC’s devaluation is the state. “The Cuban government is not bringing in the dollars that it previously got through CADECA currency exchange offices because people prefer to change their money on the informal market. Dollars remain in private hands, which then leave the country and are invested in retail purchases,” he explains.

Morales calculates that the state’s losses in the short and medium term will be in the millions, jeopardizing its hard currency reserves. “These measures have been a strategic error by the government. It took this step out of a desire to acquire dollars immediately without first thinking about the structural changes the economy needs,” he added.

The economist is author of a study describing the growth of remittances, which in 2018 amounted to 6.6 billion dollars in consumer goods and hard currency, 90% of which came from the United States. In the last decade cash remittances to Cuba increased from 1.45 billion dollars in 2008 to 3.69 billion in 2018.

Irma and Luis feel fortunate that their trip to Cuba in this November coincided with a rise of the dollar on the informal market. The Mexican couple, who frequently travel to the island, were advised not to change their dollars at the airport’s official exchange office. “The driver we’ve had on other occasions wrote us to say we could sell him all the dollars we brought with us,” Irma says.

“He just sold an apartment and had the proceeds in convertible pesos so he bought all the dollars we had to spend,” adds Luis. “He offered us a special friends’ price and gave us 1.20 CUC for every dollar. For us it was great because we expected to lose out at the official exchange rate but in the end we came out ahead.”

“We rented a car and, in addition to Havana, we spent two weeks in Varadero, Viñales and Trinidad,” says Irma. “Everywhere people asked us if we had dollars to sell, more times than they offered us tobacco.” For the couple, who have friends and a goddaughter in Cuba, it was surprising to see the “race for the dollar.”

When they were driving near Cardenas, a town near Veradero, they recall that people were selling fruit along the highway. “Vendors would first quote prices in dollars and only after much insistence would they give us the price in convertible pesos.” For this Mexican couple who live in Ciudad Juarez, very near the U.S. border, “this kind of dollar fever really says something.”

When it came time to return home, the couple regretted not holding onto a few dollars in order to buy something at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. “We had to spend all our convertible pesos before going inside.* But after waiting more than an hour and a half in the boarding area, we couldn’t even buy a box of cigars.”

For Claudia, who transports consumer goods and cash across the Florida Straits, the devaluation of the CUC has been good for her foreign exchange business.

More and more people are asking me to transport cash. I have to travel with almost $5,000, the legal limit in Cuba,” she said in a telephone conversation.

Claudia, who asked that her last name not be used for security reasons, said airport workers are among her best customers.

“I go almost every week. When I arrive the airport, they’re already waiting for me,” she says. “I hand over the cash and pick up the previous week’s earnings. It’s perfectly legal and a better way to pay the rent than working at a factory in Hialeah.”

*Translator’s note: The Cuban government does not allow convertible pesos to be taken out of the country, forcing international travelers to spend them before departure.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Coffee Disappears From Cuba’s Markets

The coffee sold by the State in the national ration store network. (ACN)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 1 December 2019 — Coffee, one of Cuba’s most emblematic products, is again absent from the Island’s markets due to production problems caused by “the late arrival of the packaging,” as reported by the official press in response to complaints from the consumers.

For weeks, customers have reported the shortage of the product in the markets in national currency and in convertible pesos. The lack of coffee has caused widespread discomfort in a population that consumes a large amount of this infusion, but also among those who operate cafes, restaurants and hostels dedicated to tourism.

“I’m paying more than 15 CUC per one kilogram of coffee because in some only stores there are only the larger packages, those who have less trade,” an entrepreneur who manages four rooms for tourists a few meters from Havana’s Plaza de San Francisco tells 14ymedio. “The other option is to buy coffee from Miami on the black market,” she adds. continue reading

With a wide assortment, the informal market of the Island offers packages of the brands La Llave, Bustelo and Pilón. Packets of just over 280 grams cost around 8 CUC in that market, the salary of a whole week of a Cuban professional. “It gives me business because my clients pay in convertible pesos, but I have neighbors who don’t drink coffee for more than a week,” explains the self-employed woman.

Coffee is one of the products that is still distributed through the network of bodegas maintained by the State to sell rationed and subsidized food, known in Cuba as “the quota.” Although at the beginning of its commercialization it cost pennies, at present a coffee package of about 7 ounces — which each Cuban is allowed to buy only one per month — costs 4 Cuban pesos.

The coffee is sold mixed with 50% of other grains, especially peas, because according to the then ruler, Raúl Castro, Cuba could not “afford” to spend 50 million dollars to acquire the coffee that it does not produce itself in the international market.

The informal market of the Island also supplies the coffee that employees steal in the warehouses, in the roasters and in the state fields. An illegal coffee seller told 14ymedio that this week he was forced to use plastic bags to wrap the product. “I can’t let the business drop me. If there are no regular bags I sell it in bulk,” he said. The price of a bag of mixed coffee in the informal market is around 3 CUC.

The coffee sold illegally this week is distributed in another type of bag.

Earlier this year the authorities of the sector announced that they expected to produce 9,000 tons of coffee, as part of a recovery plan for the sector, severely damaged by the passage of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the problems that forest areas where the beans are sown have suffered for decades.

The figure was announced by the director of coffee, cocoa and coconut of the Agroforestry Business Group (GAF) Elexis Legrá, but over the months it has not been confirmed that it will be met by the end of 2019. The country imports annually close to 8,000 tons of coffee from Vietnam and the rest from other countries in the area to meet a demand that is estimated at about 24,000 tons per year.

The artist César Leal was one of those who sounded the alarm on social networks. In his Facebook account, the painter wrote that “as usually happens cyclically and unexpectedly in Havana, and I think in the rest of Cuba, coffee has once again disappeared from state markets and stores, and even from the black market.”

Leal questioned “how has the so-called ’blockade’ influenced coffee production, if it is a national product, which historically has only needed Cuban hands to cultivate and care to achieve marketing? We also need the collaboration of the United States to increase our coffee production? That would mean admitting that the Enemy is needed,” he said.

For their part, from Miami some families have begun to send more coffee to alleviate the shortage on the Island.

“I had to send two large packages of La Llave coffee to Cuba because is in a bad way. There is no coffee not even in stores,” says Yesenia Cortinas, a Cuban who lives in Hialeah.

Cortinas says her 93-year-old grandmother “can’t live” without a cup of coffee in the morning.

“My grandmother is the only thing I have left in Cuba. Here we make a thousand sacrifices to send them the little we can. Now it is coffee, but I have also done soaps, pasta, flour… I even have to send them disposable diapers,” she laments.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Individuals May Sell Their Surplus Renewable Energy to the Cuban State

The new rules apply to state-owned companies and individuals, with an emphasis on solar photovoltaic systems in tourist facilities. (Radio Progreso)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 November 2019 — On the eve of the climate summit, which begins next Monday in Spain, the Cuban government has announced a small step in favor of the almost non-existent renewable energies, allowing the sale by private producers of electricity generated from this type of source.

Decree Law 345, published this Thursday, does not modify the state monopoly of the Electric Union (UNE), which will be the only one authorized to buy, distribute and commercialize energy of private origin.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mines promotes the production of energy by consumers, which includes the residential sector, based on the use of technologies that take advantage of renewable energy sources for self-supply and the sale of surpluses to the National Electric System National,” specifies the new legislation. continue reading

The new rules apply to state-owned companies and individuals, with an emphasis on solar photovoltaic systems in tourist facilities. The decree describes as “strategic objective […] the production of equipment, media and spare parts for the development of renewable energy sources”.

In view of the drastic reduction in Venezuelan oil deliveries, companies will be required to include in their investment plans the installation of renewable energy sources. To comply with this requirement, equipment may be purchased through bank credits.

However, the new legislation has not come accompanied by flexibilizations of the General Customs of the Republic (AGR) for the importation by the private sector of equipment to produce clean energy, as is the case with photovoltaic panels.

Recently, Raiza Martínez Elizondo, head of the Normative Group of the Customs Technical Directorate, reiterated to the travelers’ questions that solar panels can be imported into the country as objects analogous to power generating plants. Only one panel can be entered at a time and paying the same taxes that apply to equipment that uses hydrocarbons.

Thanks to the strong solar radiation practically all year round, solar panels are a promising alternative to reduce the frequent power cuts suffered by many communities in the country.

In 2017, the authorities announced that they planned to produce solar panels for private homes in the Electronic Components Company of Pinar del Río, but they have not yet gone on the market.

Currently, photovoltaic solar energy produces only 96 MW in Cuba. The British company Hive Energy is building a solar park, the first of its kind, in the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM). The objective of the Cuban Solar Plan is to reach 700 MW by 2030.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Fertile Imagination of the Repressors

Police repressed the march for LGBTI rights in August in one of their most controversial interventions this year internationally. (Ernesto Mastrascusa / EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana | 25 November 2019 — The incessant creativity of repressors in Cuba shows the tendency to seek legal formulas that justify, or at least explain, the harassment to which those who, not satisfied with simply thinking differently, manifest this thinking in some way.

To those who practice independent journalism they apply Article 149 of the Criminal Code whose original purpose was to punish those who “perform acts of a profession for whose exercise they are not duly authorized.”

Meanwhile, the detainee who causes damage to the knuckles of a police officer with his body is accused of an attack under Article 142; and the one who defends himself against a pair of stocky young men who, without identifying themselves, force him into a car, is accused of resistance based on Article 143. continue reading

The most recent innovation now appears to be to punish those who leave their homes without knowing that they have a State Security operation around their residence: they are fined for a non-existent contravention called “violating the police cordon.”

At least that was the verbal explanation they gave Nancy Alfaya, an activist for the Women’s Equality Network, when she was released from her most recent detention at a police station last week.

The fine, which reaches 100 pesos, is covered in Subparagraph H of Article 2 of Legal Provision 141. This text was signed in March 1988 by Fidel Castro himself and his then Minister of the Interior, José Abrantes.

What does this legal section really say?

The aforementioned Article 2 sanctions those who contravene the norms of collective security, and in particular its Subsection H cites: “destroys, deteriorates or suppresses the security devices that prevent the commission of crimes.” Violators are fined “100 pesos and the obligation to restore them [the devices], repair them or pay their cost.”

Obviously it is designed to protect the physical integrity of fences, containment barriers, lighting, cameras and other accessories installed “to prevent the commission of crimes.” It does not include the act of mocking (consciously or unconsciously) the agents who comply with the order not to let a citizen leave their home.

Article 9 of that text clarifies that it is the members of the National Revolutionary Police who are empowered to impose fines and other measures. In the case of Subsection H, the officials of the Physical Protection body of the Ministry of Interior are included.

Appeals that are filed “will be resolved by the head of the municipal unit of the National Revolutionary Police corresponding to the place where it was committed” or, and it’s the same thing, the appeal is resolved by the culprit.

The recent enactment of Decree Law 389, published this November 18 in the Official Gazette, which regulates covert investigation techniques, includes among other details the interception of communications and the installation of hidden cameras and microphones.

If the legislative fantasy of the Government continues in progress, we are probably on the eve of seeing the film prophecy made in 2004 by the director Eduardo del Llano in his fiction short film called Monte Rouge come true, in which an agent appears at Nicanor’s house with a shocking announcement: “I come to install the microphones.”

If a citizen without a criminal record, without being subjected to an investigation or judicial process is fined because a practically invisible fence is ignored, now it is expected that the political police have the ability to fine those who speak softly or use cryptic language when talking on the phone to obstruct, in their own homes, the devices that they discover.

Luckily, imagination is not a monopoly of the repressors.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.