The Gardens of Indigence / Cubanet, Gladys Linares

For the environmental project, “A Rose-Colored Planet,” children would be responsible for beautifying the green spaces of the capital. Dilapidated Havana requires much more than a community gardening project: sanitizing the city is the urgent business.

cubanet square logoCubanet, Gladys Linares, Havana, February 27 2015 — Now it turns out that children have the responsibility for creating green spaces for the enjoyment of the public, and ending more than fifty years of governmental neglect.

This is unheard of!

In the article, “They celebrate the work day in order to promote the beauty of gardens,” the newspaper Juventud Rebelde describes the environmental project, “A Rose-Colored Planet,” and an interest group composed of 500 children that would be responsible for beautifying the green spaces of the capital.

Will children be able to solve the problem created by the public services that go around collecting the large garbage and debris heaps that proliferate in the city, with 14-ton front-end loaders that destroy the sidewalks, curbs and gardens, and leave craters that become breeding grounds for mosquitos, rats, and other carriers of disease?

Any idiot knows that the complexity of this task requires Continue reading

Cuba Punishes Doctors for Using Revolico / Cubanet, Orlando Gonzalez

The government has cancelled your INFOMED email account due to its having been used on a classified ad website.

cubanet square logoCubanet, Orlando González, Mayabeque, Cuba, 12 March 2015 — Since February 23, the government has been cancelling some doctors’ and dentists’ internet and email accounts on the nation’s INFOMED network, which the state designates for health care professionals. The reason? Emails were being used to post classified ads on the popular Revolico website. Punitive actions like this are evidence of the government’s intention not to allow free access to Internet, at least in the short term.

The classified ad website  http://www.revolico.com is very well-known among many Cubans on the island. It lists a wide range of products available on the black market, including merchandise at prices much cheaper than those found in state-owned retail stores. The government has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to block access to the site. Nevertheless, Cubans have managed to make a mockery of the limitations by going Continue reading

Being Forty Years Old in Cuba / Cubanet, Camilo Ernesto Olivera

dominó-coverThey are referred to as old folks, half-timers and the pure. They are shipwreck victims of a capsized island. They cling to debris, trying to stay afloat.

cubanet square logoCubanet, Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro, Havana, February 27, 2015 — Men and women in Cuba who have reached the age of forty are referred to as tembas (old folks), medios tiempos (half-timers) and los puros (the pure).

Those approaching this age have lived through the periods before and after 1989 on the island. Their childhoods were spent between schools in the countryside and schools like those in the countryside, an ostensible bonanza subsidized by the Council of Mutual Aid (CAME) and the war in Angola. As young people they heard the echoes of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and suffered through the crisis and blackouts.

Those who remain view their lives like those of shipwreck victims on an island that has capsized. Some cling to debris, trying to stay afloat. Others see fulfillment slipping away in a country that continues to deny them a future. Continue reading

Reentry to Cuba Includes a Conversation with State Security / Eliecer Avila

Eliecer Avila, 26 February 2015 — After having “conversations” like these, I always ask myself is it is worth the trouble to publish an account of them or not. I do not like even giving these people the impression that I have blabbed about everything. But I also believe not publishing such accounts only hurts me. They have cameras everywhere and have demonstrated they have no scruples. They can release a doctored video recordings and use the information to destroy someone’s life

Upon entering the airport yesterday, I was approached by an immigration official. After taking my passport, he led me to a small office for “routine questioning.” Since I am already familiar with these ploys, it did not surprise me to find Lieutenant Colonel “Yanes” and “Marquitos” there in the room. The latter goes by a different name when he is with other people. He was the young man who “looked after” us some time back. It was he who put me and Reinaldo into the patrol car on the day of Tania Bruguera’s performance.

After my phone was taken away, the “chat” began. Though it was extensive, I am Continue reading

A Bucket of Cold Water / Cubanet, Rafael Alcides

Photo from the internet

cubanet square logoImagine you are at a party where a suckling pig is being roasted and all of a sudden, at the height of the festivities, Raúl Castro comes along with a bucket of water and douses out the fire. I cannot conjure a more apt image to illustrate the effect the army general’s speech at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit had on the spirits of Cuba’s dissidents.

What Raul said was a recycling of what the secretary of state was saying. It was the spitting image, cut to size, to summarize the state of affairs. While the inhospitable bucket of water was being filled, he left it to the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) to release the statement by the American government indicating that the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between that country and ours did not include a lifting of the embargo, the closure of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo or permission for American tourists Continue reading

Mariela Castro’s Eloquent Silence / Cubanet, Tania Diaz Castro

Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro Espin

cubanet square logo

Cubanet, Tania Díaz Castro, Havana, February 19, 2015 — Homosexuality has been around longer than humans have been walking upright. But Fidel Casto — working through State Security, an organization he founded and of which he has always been in charge — has done everything possible to banish it from Cuban soil. He once looked upon it as a cancer capable of eating away his dictatorship.

In an August 2010 interview with the journalist Carmen Lira for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the Cuban leader for the first time confessed feeling guilty for the emergence of homophobia in Cuba, an attitude that is still prevalent in the country’s top leadership.

In the interview he acknowledged that “there were moments of great injustice” and noted that he personally had no such prejudices. On this particular occasion the Comandante was not lying. Several of his friends in positions of power were widely known to be homosexuals, including Alfredo Guevara and Continue reading

Gerardo Machado: Was He Really an Ass with Claws? / David Canela Pina

MIAMI, Florida. — In the North Cemetery of Woodlawn Park, in Miami, lie the remains of the former Cuban president Gerardo Machado y Morales (1871-1939), who was the politician who constructed the most works during the Republic, and also was the first who opposed the international influence of communism.

To Machado, the new writing of history is simplified by a caricature: the ass with claws, and as all that is not convenient to them, they leave his image, alone and deformed, surrounded by a sea of silence, in which the only thing heard is the murmurings of the communists.

Was he a dictator? Yes. One that induced a reform in the Constitution in 1901, to govern for ten years? Yes, but he was highly adored, in an epoch quite convulsive. Did he close the University of La Habana (Havana), in 1930? Yes, but he had constructed  its staircase, and the then new buildings of the Colina — including the School of Engineers and Architects,which today is in ruins.

Did he suspend constitutional guarantees? Yes, but terrorism had seized control of the streets, and there did not exist negotiations with opposing groups. Did he engage in political assassinations and torture? Yes, but not so much as since 1959. Continue reading

They Direct the Machinery of Harassment Against a Cancer Researcher / Lilianne Ruiz

Young Oscar Casanella is threatened in the public roadway by “factors” of the revolution. State Security wants him fired from his work.

HAVANA, Cuba. — Someone must have heard the telephone conversations of Oscar Casanella.  Those days he was organizing a party with his friends to welcome back Ciro, the guitarist for the punk rock band “Porno for Ricardo,” who had returned from abroad.

Unexpectedly, on Thursday December 5, 2013, at 9:15 pm, just across from his house (at 634 La Roas between Boyeros and Ermita, Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana), four unknown people, two men and two women about 60 years old, blocked his path to tell him:  “Oscar, you cannot do anything these days and if you do, you are going to suffer serious consequences. People unknown to you can harm you, and even we can hurt you a lot.”

This was the preamble to a Kafkaesque story:

Some neighbors told him later that among those who had threatened him was one named Gari Silegas, and that the four were members of the communist party, which met in something known as the “Zonal Nucleus,” a group of militants retired from various “Committees in Defense of the Revolution” (CDR). Continue reading

A Light for My Loved Ones / Estado de Sats

Una luz por los míos” / Collective Action

To all Cubans

July 13 marks the 20th anniversay of the 13th-of-March* tugboat crime against a boat that carried 72 Cubans, sunk by the Cuban regime off the Havana Bay to prevent their escaping to the United States coast. This criminal action cost the lives of 41 people, among them 10 children.

The collective action “A light for my loved ones” will be a tribute to the victims of the 13th-of-March tugboat and to all Cubans who have lost their lives in the sea, trying to escape a suffocating realitythat has lasted for 54 years. It is also a tribute to the Cuban family and a call to hope and the spiritual rebuilding of our nation.

On July 12, at dusk on the eve ofthis anniversary, Cubans, wherever you are in the world, take a candle to the sea, a bridge, a lake, a river, your doorway, balcony, or in the privacy of your home (in case repression in Cuba is doubled on this date).

Given the disconnection of Cuba from the world, Cubans who live abroad can help to promote this symbolic action, inviting families and friends on the island to participate and sharing, in turn, photos and images of the tribute on social networks.

Let’s light this candle on 12 July to remember a friend, a family member, who didn’t make it, a child who never appeared.

A candle as a complaint.

A candle against forgetfulness.

A candle for the future.

A light for my loved ones.

*Translator’s note: The tugboat was named after the day in 1957 when students launched an attack on the presidential palace in Havana.

Somos+ Launches a Project to Save History / Eliecer Avila

Among the first victims of January ’59 was the history of Cuba, especially the phase of the Republic. A radical rupture caused the immediate divorce of the new generations with a past that was reduced to four lines in scholarly books. (From Somos+)

La Havana, Cuba – “Puppet State, governing mafias, corruption, and poverty” are the only emblems, according to the official version, of the first half of the twentieth century in Cuba

A tour of eight libraries in Havana, while inquiring whether there existed some available texts on the Republic, resulted in only one book in two libraries dedicated to the theme: “The Republic of Cork” by Rolando Rodriguez.

The disconnectedness from the Internet worsens the situation. It is such that the access to documents, testimonials, videos, statistics and serious studies, are reduced to such a small number of people that they do not rely on a platform to discuss the contents.

To this situation we are already working on a series of testimonials, with people who lived, worked, fell in love and started families, and dreamed during the Republic. Men and women who are a living treasure because of their accumulated experiences and unprejudiced vision of the different realities that nuanced a whole era.

We want to investigate, from the household perspective, how that society felt. How was the health, the education, the exercise of democratic participation (when it existed), the press, the architecture, the cost of living, the markets, the music, the recreational activities, the institutions, the problems of the moment . . . finally, everything that can provide understanding about a tumultuous period, but one that was productive in the construction of the Cuban nation.

We also seek to shed light over many deeds and historical circumstances that have been strongly manipulated or distorted. The objective is not to establish truths or impose visions, but to enrich the debate and provoke a flourishing of knowledge and vital analysis for the current age.

The people who wish to participate in this historical series can contact us through email, by phone, or through mail.

Eliecer Avila, Engineer, (Somos+)

Cubanet, 13 June 2014

Translated by: Bianca Martinez

Spanish post
14 June 2014

There’s No Room, Wait Outside / Julio Cesar Alvarez

Gatehouse clinic in Central Havana. Photo courtesy of the author.

HAVANA, Cuba — Doctors working in the clinic located within the gatehouse of Central Havana Children’s Hospital refused medical treatment to a three-month-old infant named Alexander because his parents refused to comply with an internal policy of the hospital.

The policy allows only one parent to be present in an exam room. According to the doctor and nurse on duty the lack of space in the rooms is the reason for this policy.

According to Dr. Mario Lorenzo Medina, vice-director of health care at Central Havana Children’s Hospital, overcrowding in the consultation rooms was the reason why only one of the parents could be present.

“My doctors don’t have the room. They work in crowded conditions,” the director told the infant’s father. Continue reading

State Security Summons Estado de Sats Members to “Warn” Them About “For Another Cuba” Graffiti

Campaign for Another Cuba. Graffiti Collective, #WeWantItNow, June 8 at 10 am, Wherever you are!!! For the ratification of the UN covenants/ (Estado de Sats)

Several members of Estado de Sats were summoned by State Security to a Havana police station this Saturday, to “warn” them about the Grafiti Colectivo Por otra Cuba, organized by the independent project for this Sunday, to support the campaign demanding that the Government ratify the United Nations covenants that it signed in 2008.

“They wanted (…) to threaten us, as always, and to say that they would not allow any type of action,” the visual artist Lía Villares told Diario de Cuba.

“I told them it was an international action, a global movement in support of the campaign, and that they couldn’t prevent what was happening in different parts of the world,” she added. Continue reading