Cuban activist Yasmany Gonzalez is Transferred to the Combinado del Este Prison

Cuban activist Yasmany González Valdés. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 May 2023 – – Activist Yasmany González Valdés was transferred this Friday to the Combinado del Este prison, in Havana, after more than a month in Villa Marista, headquarters of State Security, as confirmed to 14ymedio by his wife, Ilsa Ramos.

Ramos, who will be able to visit her husband next Wednesday, tells this newspaper that she has not yet been informed of the date on which the trial will be held. González is being accused of the alleged crime of “propaganda against government bodies.”

During his stay at Villa Marista, the activist felt “like a caged lion” in “an unventilated cell,” Ramos denounced in a post on his Facebook account. “I couldn’t hold back my tears when I saw his deteriorated physical condition, but even more so his mental state. He is super upset, very nervous.”

The activist, also known as Libre Libre, was arrested on April 20 after a “violent search” at his house in Centro Habana in which about 15 political police officers participated. They confiscated a pair of overalls, a brush and his mobile phone, as part of the investigation into the graffiti against the Cuban regime that appeared in several central points of the capital.

Initially, the Observatory of Cultural Rights (ODC) warned about the detention of Libre Libre and recalled that the activist had been summoned by the police at the beginning of April at the Zanja station, in the Cuban capital, where he was linked to the group that calls itself El Nuevo Directorio (END). According to González’s testimony, on that occasion they did graphological tests and also tried to arrest him for a non-payment of fines that had already been paid.

The first painting signed by END with the slogan “No to the PCC” appeared on the walls of the Faculty of Physics of the University of Havana. The second was in Aguirre Park, and a third was at the entrance of the university stadium, on Ronda Street. But it was the fourth and most recent poster that most annoyed State Security, when it appeared on the morning of April 20 at number 7 Humboldt Street, in Centro Habana.

The location of this last sign coincides with the place where four young people belonging to the Revolutionary Directory were murdered in 1957, during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The poster, made on the same day as the anniversary of that repressive action, generated a strong police operation to cover the letters with paint, in addition to an “act of apology.”

Yasmany González denounced the harassment he has suffered from State Security. In 2022, after four days of detention in Villa Marista, the activist, who works as a self-employed bricklayer, said he would stop posting on social networks. He had previously been fined for denouncing human rights violations and demanding the release of the detainees in the protests of July 11, 2021.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Cuban Writer Nancy Morejon Withdraws as Honorary President of the Poetry Festival in Paris

Morejón is aligned with “the prevailing dictatorial regime in Cuba,” and is part of its “cultural authorities” at Uneac, Machover said. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 May 2023 — The denunciation of numerous intellectuals against Nancy Morejón — headed by the Cuban Jacobo Machover — has achieved its objective: the organizers of the Paris Poetry Market, a prestigious literary event held annually since 1983 in the French capital, will withdraw the official writer’s status as honorary president, although she will continue to be invited to the festival.

The official press has already alluded to the situation, accusing “reactionary sectors of the Cuban emigration” of calling for a  “cultural war” against Morejón. Without offering details, they insist that “the organizers rejected the attacks against the academic.”

This Tuesday, Machover released a letter sent by Yves Boudier and Vincent Gimeno-Pons, general delegates of the c/i/r/c/é association, which organizes the Poetry Market, to Antoine Spire, president of the Pen Club of France, one of the organizations that supported the protest against Morejón.

In addition to notifying their intention to “renounce” offering the poet the honor of presiding over the festival, the organizers apologized for “not having delved” into her biography and announced that there is an “official statement” in preparation. As of now, the article indicating the presidency of Morejón is not available on the festival’s website.

According to Radio Habana Cuba, Morejón will be in France and Spain from June 1 to 13, presenting various titles. As for the Poetry Market, it has been announced that the writer will participate in a recital at the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes in Paris, on the 9th, but any mention of the honorary presidency has been omitted. continue reading

This Tuesday, Machover thanked those who joined his protest. Morejón, Spire wrote on behalf of the Pen Club of France to the directors of the event, “stigmatizes many of those who have taken sides against the Cuban government in the name of freedom of expression,” noting the existence of multiple artists and writers censored by Morejón, also director of the official magazine Unión. Lastly, he urged organizers to investigate Morejón’s life and her record of supporting the regime.

On May 25, Machover criticized the Poetry Market’s naming of Morejón and described as “delusional” that this honor was granted to a writer who supports an authoritarian regime like the Cuban one.

“I demand that this error be corrected and that the honorary title that has been improperly attributed to the poet Nancy Morejón be withdrawn. This act would contribute to the freedom of Cuba and, of course, that of its poetry and literature, which constitute the common heritage of all writers and poets throughout the world,” he said. In the days that followed, dozens of writers, artists, activists, and journalists joined the demand.

In his open letter to the organizers, Machover pointed out that Morejón is aligned with “the prevailing dictatorial regime in Cuba” and is part of its “cultural authorities” in the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac). Precisely as part of that institution, Morejón has been a signatory on several documents of adherence to the regime, the most recent of which, noted Machover, is the Message from Cuban educators, journalists, writers, artists and scientists to their colleagues in other countries, signed in October 2022, and in which the poet’s signature appears in sixth place.

In that text, she expressed her full support for the Government, in addition to alleging the non-existence of repression by the authorities, a situation described as “distortion of our reality.”

Another of the letters that the poet signed twenty years ago, Machover affirmed, was the one that justified the arrest and sentencing of 75 dissidents, several of them writers, during the Black Spring of 2003. Among them was the poet Raúl Rivero, whom Machover has translated and published in French. In addition, that document destined for the “peoples of the world” validated the execution of three young people who had tried to escape from Cuba by hijacking the “little boat” from the Havana town of Regla.

One day after the protests of July 11, 2021, the Ministry of Culture made several intellectuals appear on Cuban Television to insult the protesters. Morejón then said: “These events of yesterday, unacceptable, condemnable in every sense, are part of an old pandemic as terrible as this one that plagues us (covid-19): that of the empire.”

To be held from June 7 to 12 in the Saint-Sulpice square in the French capital, the Poetry Market had planned an opening ceremony by Morejón, as well as various panels and conferences with her participation. As of now, Uneac has not made any announcement of its decision regarding the festival.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

In Another Blow to Cuban Baseball, the National Series Will Not Have the All-Star Game and the Gala

The Avispas game in the 62nd National Series, the tournament that has suffered due to the lack of balls and bats. (Jit)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 30, 2023 — To the streak of bad news for Cuban baseball is added that the 62nd National Series “will not have an All-Star Game.” Nor will the Gala of awarding the most outstanding athletes be held. According to the national baseball commissioner, Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo, in the face of the “current situation” on the Island, it is proposed to “reward” the first three places and the leaders of the tournament.

“What happened confirms that the current edition of the veteran championship has arrived full of problems that hinder its performance,” published Play-Off Magazine. “The All-Star Game was a recognizable and important part of Cuban baseball, which continues to assume debts in terms of generating spectacle and attracting an audience,” it stressed.

The sport, declared in 2021 as part of Cuba’s cultural heritage, is in decline both in the organizational part and in the sport. Throughout this tournament, the failures of the TeamMate company of Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) and close to Antonio, son of Fidel Castro, have been denounced. First were the delays in the delivery of the uniforms and then the spelling errors in the names that delayed the start of the Elite League.

The national baseball commissioner, Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo, told the sports authorities about the problems with lack of bats. (Jit)

TeamMate also went wrong with the delivery of the balls — only half were sent — so the authorities had to use some of the Batos brand, which the official media Cubadebate clarified “are not made in Cuba.” They acquired them from a supplier abroad who agreed to give them the name of the national brand. continue reading

In addition, these balls from the Italian company are sold to the Island at 12 dollars each; that is, more than double the cost of one of the Rawlings brand, which is the official ball of the Major Leagues, or the one from the Franklin Sports company.

There are also problems with the bats. In the match of the Elefantes de Cienfuegos against the Gallos de Sancti Spíritus on May 23, the players ran out of bats just a few minutes after the game began.

Pérez Pardo, who is also the president of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB), pawned off the bat problem on Monday. The National Baseball Commission (CNB) “found that the responsibility did not fall on the direction of the local team.” According to the manager, the delivery of 40 bats was fulfilled, but each territory must take care of the rest.

While the Island is experiencing the crisis, some baseball players continue to take advantage of opportunities to emigrate. Left-handed pitcher Oscar Hernández took a flight to the United States. According to journalist Francys Romero, “he arrived by way of family reunification.”

Hernández participated in four National Series with an average effectiveness of 4.47 in the 61 National Series with Villa Clara. In 86.2 innings he scored 63 strikeouts. “He was one of the figures in the Under-23 National Championship won by Villa Clara against Santiago de Cuba. He has good secondary pitches, and his straight  can reach 90 miles,” Romero published in FR Baseball!

On Monday, it was also confirmed that baseball player Luis Manuel León reached an agreement with the Saint Louis Cardinals and will receive a signing bonus close to one million dollars. “He runs 60 yards in 6.3 seconds, above-average arm,” Romero said. The athlete also has “solid batting with “swing” speed to the three parts of the field.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Experienced Blackouts of Up to 20 Hours This Sunday and the Forecasts Don’t Improve

The Government does not rule out blackouts for the high temperature season, but says that the system now has better conditions. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 May 2023 – – The promise of the Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, to have “better conditions” for the supply of electricity to Cuban homes for the hottest months didn’t even last one day. Despite its statements this Saturday in Cubadebate, the Electric Union (UNE) recorded blackouts of up to 20 hours throughout the Island.

The company explained that the service was interrupted from 7:15 a.m. on Sunday to 4:07 a.m. this Monday. The maximum affects occurred on Sunday at 8:30 p.m., with a generation deficit of 736 megawatts (MW).

Complaints on social networks were not long in coming, and Internet users reported incidents in different areas of the Island. A Sancti Spíritus user warned that there were blackouts of more than six hours in 11 circuits in the province. “It’s bad,” he wrote, alluding to the difficulties of electricity generation.

A collaborator of this newspaper in that province was able to verify that, in fact, in several municipalities the electricity service is interrupted every four hours, a situation that is also repeated in other municipalities of Ciego de Ávila, Cienfuegos and Villa Clara, both during the day and overnight. However, the most serious mishaps occur in the rural areas, he explains. continue reading

Among the indignant remarks addressed to the UNE, a user from Santiago de Cuba pointed out that cuts in the province are frequent in the afternoon or early morning, which makes it difficult to rest. “Do you think that the analysis parameters for a pregnant woman can be normal after not sleeping due to a blackout of almost five hours and then awakening in the dark?” he questioned, describing the situation as psychological abuse.

As the hottest season begins in Cuba, the frequency and duration of blackouts increase. The National Electrical System (SEN) began a phase of new deterioration this Saturday, when the UNE reported that the service had been interrupted for 20 hours. The prospects for this Monday are not encouraging either, since the company expects the cuts to continue due to a deficit in the generation capacity of 400 MW.

According to the UNE report, unit 1 of the Santa Cruz thermoelectric plant (Mayabeque), unit 5 of Antonio Maceo (Rentté, in Santiago de Cuba), unit 2 of Felton (Holguín) and Energas-Boca de Jaruco, in Puerto Escondido, are out of service due to breakdowns. In addition, Guiteras, unit 5 of Nuevitas and unit 6 of Renté are under maintenance.

Despite the usual instability of the SEN, the head of Energy and Mines told the official press that maintenance work has been completed on the eve of the season of greater consumption and  that the projections point to “a considerable decrease in affectations” for this summer.

The minister said that the schedule of cuts could not be met in the first months of the year and shielded himself by saying that the damage caused to the power line was from forest fires, which forced the SEN to be disconnected four times in February.

In the interview with the official media, he also promised that there will soon be “a recovery” in the supply of fuels, which will lead to a decrease in the “uncomfortable lines” at gas stations, although he did not allude to the movement of oil tankers in the ports of the Island in recent months, and to the secrecy of the Government about their cargo and origin.

This Monday, according to the maritime observation pages, there are several tankers anchored at the docks in Havana. The Nicos I.V. sails with the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the Marianna V.V. (Matanzas), with the Liberian flag; and the NQ Calipso (Moa, Holguín), with the flag of the Netherlands. In addition, the arrival in Santiago de Cuba of the oil tanker Scot Hamburg is expected, coming from Kaliningrad, Russia and flying the flag of Malta, and the Cuban tanker Vilma will arrive in Cienfuegos from Venezuela.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Moringa, Fidel Castro’s Last Obsession, Is Being Processed in Sancti Spiritus

The authorities of Sancti Spíritus inaugurated the first moringa powder processing plant. (Prensa Latina)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 May 2023 – – Fidel Castro’s “dream” of mass consumption of moringa, a tree from India with medicinal properties overrated by the Cuban leader, has still not died. The latest invention is the inauguration this Saturday of the first moringa powder processing plant in La Sierpe, Sancti Spíritus.

Located in the Agroindustrial Enterprise of Granos Sur del Jíbaro, the plant has an installed capacity to process 20 tons of moringa powder per year, whose supply will come from 25 acres of plantations. The main markets are the pharmaceutical industry, export and sale as a nutritional supplement in the manufacture of cookies.

Concepción Campa, advisor to the project, was in charge of  Castro’s “ambitious project” and said that with the start-up of the plant, “another of his dreams is now coming true,” according to the official news agency Prensa Latina.

The factory has Austrian machinery for drying the leaf in conditions of airtight darkness, a process that prevents the denaturalization of chlorophyll and other nutritional properties of the tree.

Campa pointed out that moringa, known by many as the “miracle tree,” has several anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, as well as being a source of protein. In addition, the official added, it helps to “cure up to 300 diseases.” continue reading

“The creation of the plant will generate various benefits for the local economy. First of all, it will provide a nutritional supplement for human beings, as well as protein in the feed for sheep, goats, pigs and poultry,” Prensa Latina said.

The cultivation of the plant is a forgotten project, which from time to time is remembered by the official press with promises of an increase in production. In 2021, the Bayamo Agricultural Company and the Grass and Fodder Research Institute carried out a study in which they found the feasibility of replacing the raw material for animal feed with moringa-based feed.

According to that study, the import of food for livestock costs 550 million dollars a year, an expense that the country cannot assume if it also wants to recover bovine production, which is increasingly declining due to the lack of inputs and increase in cattle theft. In this way, the research proposed that making a ton of feed from the plant would cost 561 pesos, almost a third of the 1,500 pesos it costs with imported materials.

Castro’s obsession with moringa originated in 2011, when the Cuban government ordered two pounds of seeds from a Canarian farmer who, impressed, sent him four, according to the Spanish scientific website Sinc. The former Cuban ruler was at that time convalescing far from public life, but he kept publishing his texts in the national media.

In one of his last delirious Reflections, disseminated by the official press, Castro wrote that “the conditions are created for the country to begin to massively produce moringa oleífera and mulberry, which are also inexhaustible sources of meat, egg and milk, (and) silk fibers that are spun by hand.”

After his death in November 2016, the plant lost prominence on the Island, and its consumption was reduced mainly to pills, tea and cookies sold in pharmacies.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Moringa Attacks Again

An old edition of Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party (and so the official newspaper of Cuba), follows Fidel’s lead and gets all excited about the Moringa tree’s ability to supply Cubans with “an inexhaustible supply of milk, eggs and meat.”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 29 May 2023 — We all remember that back in 2012, Fidel Castro, already retired from the political front line, began to publish a series of articles in the state press to explain, with quasi-scientific details, the properties of moringa and mulberry. Those explanations drew attention, because after a long life at the head of the regime created by his communist revolution, no one thought of Fidel Castro as an amateur scientist, much less, as a moringa specialist. So, in that article now distant in time, Castro devoted himself to detailing the benefits that, according to him, could be attributed to moringa, a plant native to India that had all types of amino acids and numerous medicinal properties, although he clarified at some point that it should never be consumed in excess.

Castro’s article went on to point out that “we have supplied samples of seeds of different varieties to agricultural research institutes. Soon we will learn more about its potential. From my point of view, its greatest benefit for the population lies in its qualities as animal consumption for the production of meat, milk, eggs, and even the cultivation of fish,” something like the Castro manna that can do anything.

So those “scientific” collaborations coincided with the aggravation of the ailments that the old revolutionary was already suffering at the time, at age 86, and the state press used them as a talisman to stop the tide of rumors about an alleged worsening of his health. From that time the images of a Fidel Castro in a wheelchair visiting moringa fields are remembered, and in one of his last collaborations, he proposed the massive cultivation of these vegetables as alternatives to food and for health.

Some time later, and once the old dictator died, the regime did what it had to do, and in that way, by 2018 the council of ministers approved the creation of the science, technology and innovation entity “Sierra Maestra,” with the aim of investigating and putting into practice the reflections of the late Cuban dictator related to the medicinal properties of moringa and other plants that occupied his “studies.” No expense was spared for this project; it was, as on other occasions throughout history, about validating Castro’s ideas and proposals, no matter how absurd they might seem. Ideas that bordered on “devotion” for the moringa tree and its medicinal properties. Rivers of ink ran. continue reading

Fidel Castro had not said it, but his followers, determined to give continuity to those “collaborations” stressed that “the conditions are created for the country to begin to massively produce moringa oleífera and mulberry, which are also inexhaustible sources of meat, egg and milk, (and) silk fibers that are spun by hand.”

In this way, coming out of nowhere, the “Sierra Maestra” institution was aimed at guaranteeing, in addition, the continuity of the investigations ordered by Castro, related to the production of silk, fodder and the sacha inchi, the native seed of the Peruvian Amazon known as the “peanut of the Incas,” much appreciated for the properties of its oil.

And you will wonder, what is all this about?

Well, the heirs of Fidel Castro, in 2023 have launched the first integral moringa powder plant in Cuba, inaugurated in La Sierpe, Sancti Spíritus, destined to produce 20 tons. According to the state press, “the powder will have three destinations of vital importance for the development of the nation: the pharmaceutical industry, export and as a nutritional supplement in the manufacture of cookies,” a project conceived by Fidel Castro and, as it could not be otherwise, “an honor for us to comply with it.”

Apparently the entity has state-of-the-art technology of Austrian origin — you can imagine the cost — “and the processor dries the leaf in conditions of airtight darkness, avoiding the denaturing of chlorophyll and other nutritional properties of the tree.”

It is assumed that the plant will have various benefits for the local economy, such as “providing a nutritional supplement for human beings, as well as, from the protein content of the green mass, food for sheep, goats, pigs and birds,” following the script of Fidel Castro, who identified moringa “as a miraculous tree of life, light and hope, like an angel turned into plant. It is a very complete food.”

The inauguration of the entity was attended by Jorge Luis Tapia, member of the central committee of the party and deputy prime minister, and the division general of the reserve Ulises Rosales.  Teresita Romero, governor of the province, also participated. We are talking about moringa again after 11 years.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Mexico Shields the Information About the 1,200 Cuban Doctors Hired and the Abdala Vaccine

A group of Cuban health workers in the state of Campeche. (Facebook/Zoé Robledo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 29 May 2023 — Under the argument of “reserved file,” the Government of Mexico shielded the information on public spending that will be allocated to the hiring of more than 1,200 Cuban doctors to be sent to remote areas and the disbursement for the purchase of 9,000,000 doses of the Abdala vaccine, without the endorsement of the World Health Organization (WHO), for the reinforcement campaign against COVID-19. Some of the vaccines are about to expire.

The federal Secretary of Health said that the data requested by the newspaper Reforma through the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), could not be made public because they were considered national security and could “harm” the relationship with Cuba.

The payment to Cuban health workers “is part of the contract for the acquisition of the Abdala vaccine,” the federal Health unit said in the request for transparency.

The Mexican Government has an evident secrecy about these specialists and the validation of their studies, mandatory in the Aztec country to be able to prescribe for patients. At least twenty of these doctors were rejected in the state of Morelos for not having a professional card.

A report to 14ymedio in August, 2022, revealed that for 610 specialists on the Island, the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador paid $1,308,922 per month, money that is managed by the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos, S.A. continue reading

The collaboration agreement signed by the director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMISS) Zoé Robledo and the president of the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos, S.A., Yamila Ramona de Armas Águila, specifies that the payment is 1,177,300 euros per month, not in another currency, through bank transfer. The López Obrador Administration has the first 10 days of each month to make the disbursement.

The July 2022 agreement established that the Cuban doctors will work eight hours a day for five days. Those who cover night shifts will work nine hours for three days.

In September of last year, two months after the agreement was made official, it was specified in one of the clauses that Cuban health workers would have “guaranteed accommodation, food and transport services” in the states to which they were sent. This newspaper has delved into the benefits, which in some cases are à la carte dinners.

Among the reserved information is also that relating to the Abdala vaccine, which without approval from the WHO was acquired by Mexico to be applied as a booster against COVID-19, and a few months ago it was accepted to be administered to children.

At least 90,000 of these biologicals will expire in July, and another almost 70,000 that were sent to Oaxaca will expire in August. In addition, more than 636,000 doses are refrigerated, unused due to the distrust of the Mexicans.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

‘My Sons are Down to Pure Bones’ Denounces the Mother of Two Brothers Detained in Caimanera, Cuba

Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez and Felipe Octavio Correa Martínez have spent three weeks in detention. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 May 2023 — Since May 6th, Victoria Martínez Valdivia has had no life. On that day, two of her sons were arrested for the street protests in Caimanera, Guantánamo, where a crowd congregated at the yell of “Freedom!”, “Homeland and Life!” and “Down with the communist system!” Since then, the brothers have been under arrest “in terrible conditions,” their mother told 14ymedio.

Felipe Octavio Correa Martínez, 26 years old, and Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez, age 32, have spent three weeks in the Provincial Unit for Criminal Investigations and Operations in the city of Guantánamo. The family has visited them on several occasions and “they are in very bad shape,” described Victoria Martínez.

“My sons are down to pure bones, the younger one was shaking,” she added. “The first times I went to visit them I noticed that my son Luis Miguel would hide his face and then I knew it was because, with the beatings, they knocked two of his teeth out, I could barely recognize him, he was in such bad shape.”

“The place for the visits is in such a condition that it is evident they are filming everything we do,” describes the mother. “There is a table, two chairs and everything is prepared in such a way that you can tell there is a camera somewhere to record what we talk about and do while we are there.”

Martínez warns that her sons have not had all the procedural guarantees, “I’ve had to hire two lawyers already, I paid 4,200 pesos for each one and that was very difficult for my family because we have a low income. But the attorneys have not been able to even speak with my sons.” continue reading

“At first I hired a lawyer who I later had to remove from the case because in the first week, he did nothing for my sons,” she says. “Later, when I went to see him to show him the videos of the protest which show that Felipe Octavio and Luis Miguel had not committed any violent acts, he said they were “already doomed.”

The lawyer, “had already penalized them and I decided to cancel his contract. How is it possible that he had already assumed they were guilty,” she explained to us. “When I went to see the police inspector in charge of the case, First Lieutenant Dailovis Torres, he gave me a paper which states they are being charged with public disorder and Felipe Octavio is also charged with resistance.”

“I asked for how long they would be detained. But they said their files are with the Military Prosecutor. I don’t know why, because they are civilians, why do they do this to them?” she reproached. “They won’t give us a trial date nor details of what will happen to them, they don’t tell us anything, they give us the runaround, trying to distract us.”

Martínez believes that such a long detention is not in line with what Luis Miguel and Felipe Octavio did, “My sons have had enough, because here in Caimanera we are dying of hunger. The last batch of split peas they sold us as part of the rationed basic food basket were full of weevils,” she denounced. “They went out into the street saying the truth and the people, who supported them, began to join them. They complained about the poor food supplies, that there is no fuel for the ambulances. They protested peacefully, without weapons.”

“That was in the afternoon, but at night the trucks full of Black Berets arrived and they beat them like animals,” remembers their mother. “My son was dragged for three blocks. His brother approached to see what they were doing to his brother and they beat him too. Since that day, they have been under arrest.”

“Luis Miguel is married, he is responsible for his wife’s son and two nephews, one of whom had a cerebral stroke,” she added. “We have lived our whole lives in Caimanera, I am 51 years old and I was born here; my parents are also from here. I care for my bed-ridden sister who is disabled and my sons’ arrest has made daily life worse.”

“For example, here in my house there is no water, my sons have to carry it from far away for us to bathe and care for the people in the house who are bedridden,” she explained. “I don’t even want to eat, I can’t sleep, I have no life since that day they took them.”

As to the situation of the Guantánamo town, Martínez describes it clearly, “Now they’ve tried to calm the situation in Caimanera by stocking the stores.” They brought oil and ground beef. They have us going from one line to another so we don’t complain, so we can’t think of anything else.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Since January, 29,000 Cubans Have Been Sponsored With the Humanitarian Parole in the United States

The US Embassy in Havana spent almost four years with the consular services semi-paralyzed and subjected to the sway of relations between Cuba and the United States. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 May 2023 — Despite the barrage of applications and the difficulties in obtaining an appointment, since January 29,000 Cubans have benefited from the humanitarian parole program to enter the United States. The figure was given by Blas Nuñez-Neto, Acting Undersecretary of Border Policy and Immigration of the US Department of Homeland Security, who also announced that there will soon be new provisions for the family reunification process.

After several weeks of tension, the official said during a videoconference, “a lot of progress” begins to be seen in the program, which the United States offers to the citizens of the Island, as well as to Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. The urgency to achieve the effectiveness of the parole derives from the “migration issue” represented by the border with Mexico, through which many Latin American citizens, including Cubans, are still trying to enter.

However, Nuñez-Neto was cautious when making predictions about the success of the program in the future: “It is too early to draw definitive conclusions or predict what will happen in the coming weeks,” he warned.

A recent report by the CBS News network, based on internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security to which they had access, indicated that there were more than 380,000 requests to sponsor Cubans at the end of last April. In just four months, 1.5 million petitions to sponsor citizens of Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua and Cuba had reached the immigration offices. continue reading

The situation was, clearly, an uncontrollable “avalanche” of procedures, complained the social workers of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), whose management already exceeds the possibilities of the institution. With a capacity to handle 30,000 monthly permits, they are receiving an average of 120,000 requests daily. In the first quarter, more than 580,000 petitions have been accumulated for Haitians, 120,000 for Venezuelans and more than 20,000 for Nicaraguans, in addition to those already cited for Cubans.

In addition, the volume of candidates to sponsor a humanitarian parole is much higher than expected and calls into question the sustainability of the program, since the times to process documentation have increased and migrants could resume the illegal path.

As for family reunification, the official admitted the notable delay in the procedures at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, which spent almost four years with the consular services semi-paralyzed and subjected to the sway of relations between Cuba and the United States.

The program is giving results in what is its first objective, said Nuñez-Neto: to stop the migratory flow on the border with Mexico, especially after the elimination — on May 12 — of Title 42, which facilitated the immediate expulsion of people from US territory under health arguments in times of Covid.

The reduction, 70%, has been significant, the undersecretary said: from the entry of 11,000 people a day, it has gone to only 4,000. However, he warned against the “coyotes and traffickers” who continue to spread “rumors” as bait to negotiate with migrants.

Nuñez-Neto also recalled that in the fiscal year 2021-2022 (from October 1 to September 30) there were 224,000 Cubans who entered through the Mexican border to the United States, not counting the 6,182 who tried to arrive by sea. In December 2022, a month before the parole program was implemented and at the most critical moment of the exodus, the figure was 44,064.

The program has not been without controversy and may be repealed in the future. A lawsuit filed by 20 Republican states, led by Texas, maintains that the Government is abusing its powers. The trial that will decide the future of humanitarian parole will be held on June 13 in the federal court of Victoria, in Texas.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Dictatorship Condemns the Cuban People To Silence So As Not To Have To Hear Them

The press can only be the State press or, failing that, the one that the State can control. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 May 2023 — The entry into force of the Social Communication Law and its corresponding regulations will have consequences from which there is no way to defend oneself.

If the deadlines of 120 days for the Law to enter into force are met and the subsequent 120 days for the Council of Ministers to approve the corresponding regulatory provisions, it can be predicted that in January 2024 no one who lives or transits through the national territory, whether Cuban or foreign, will be able to freely generate content that could be considered capable of subverting the constitutional order and destabilizing the socialist State.

It is already known how susceptible those who rule in Cuba are when it comes to processing criticisms when they are not made “in the right place and at the right time.” The main red lines will continue to be the legitimacy of the rulers, the viability of the system and the action of the repressive apparatus, and not only that. Protesting the inefficiency of the Etecsa monopoly, civilly calling for the repeal of a law or the dismissal of a minister will continue to be seen as part of “the communicational aggression that is taking place against the country.”

It would be naive to appeal to some deceptive paragraph of the law where social communication is defined as a sociocultural process that “contributes to social interaction, the production of meaning, the configuration of individual and collective identity, dialogue, debate, popular participation and consensus.”

Those propositions only make up censorship or, to put it in popular language, they are dribble, babble and nonsense, which are combined with ambiguous terminology that requires a translation to understand their meaning. continue reading

For example, Article 29.4 in the chapter referring to social communication in the media field, where it says: “The creation of these means (the non-fundamental ones) is excluded when their management is proposed as the constitutive activity of the social object or work project of a non-state economic actor.” This translates as: “A non-state actor is prohibited from having an independent medium as his main social object.”

We journalists who collaborate with the independent media will have three alternatives: face the consequences and continue publishing from Cuba with name and surname, go underground with the subterfuge of modifying our style and using a pseudonym, or withdraw from the profession. The first is reckless, the second is dangerous, the third is unworthy.

If the Cuban regime manages to get rid of the rebellious presence in the media, if it manages to eliminate video transmissions and uncomfortable comments on social networks, if in its delirious totalitarian ambitions it conquers that redoubt of minimal resistance that is to interact by giving a “like”; if this law reaches its purposes, the people would be mute, and although the dictatorship has never wanted to listen, now it would not even be able to hear. It would end up deaf.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Electricity Crisis in Cuba From Bad to Worse: Towards a Long and Warm Summer

Cuba’s thermoelectric plants are routinely out of service. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 28 May 2023 — If the current scenario is maintained, the forecast for the coming months is that the blackouts will continue and this when now the hottest months of the year arrive, in which consumption becomes more necessary to face the high temperatures. The situation of the national electricity system, despite what Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said in the national assembly, is one of the absolute inability to comply with the strategy outlined to reduce blackouts during the summer holidays, when demand levels increase in a sustained way.

There is a fairly widespread sense of absolute failure to solve the fuel deficit in the nation. These are the conclusions of an interview in the state press of the minister of the branch, Vicente de la O Levy, in whom many hopes were placed when he was appointed, raising expections that he could address a situation that worries all Cubans. Well, no, realism forces us to think that the problem continues and that neither the generation of electricity in the country nor the sale of fuel in the service centers will be normalized in the short and medium term.

The minister explained some of the actions implemented by the regime, all of them unsuccessful. He cited, for example, what he called “sacrificing the power that was available, with the aim of increasing maintenance work and gradually reducing  breakdowns.”

A work that was carried out “in the worst conditions of supply of spare parts, materials and raw materials for not having access to financing or suppliers, due to the resurgence of the blockade and the inclusion of Cuba in the arbitrary list of countries that support terrorism, prepared by the United States Department of State.”

That is, power plants mostly from Eastern European countries in Soviet times that make up Cuba’s electricity grid cannot renew their parts because of the ’blockade’. But does the ’blockade’ affect Cuba’s trade with these countries? Can the parts only be purchased in the United States? continue reading

It doesn’t look like it. The thing is that there is no money at all, and that includes for the purchase of the parts. Nor is there money for many other necessities that have to be imported, which Cuba can’t buy because it doesn’t have the credit to do it. This is what happens when the debts are not paid and the international markets do not give loans. In such conditions, without parts, the results of maintenance and the recovery of power that had been out of service for some time have not allowed a decrease in the blackouts. It’s a failed measure.

The minister insisted on his task of increasing the maintenance load from February, and for this, he decided to pull the consumption of units such as Céspedes and Felton to meet this objective. In such extreme and complex conditions, the average number of hours of affected each day was only reduced to three hours, “being able to rotate the scheduled blocks every four days, except for the days when the system was completely disconnected.” The fact is that the blackouts continued, because their continuous appearance is the result of much more complex factors that are not fixed with these juggling exercises.

And in addition, in a short duration. The minister explained two situations that occurred a short time ago and generated complications: the failure of the fuel supply as a result of a shortage from suppliers (he said that 400 W were left out for this reason) and the exit of the Guiteras thermoelectric plant due to a large-scale breakdown. As a result, the hours when electrical service is affected were extended in almost the entire country, and the alleged improvements in the Céspedes and the Felton plants passed on to a better life immediately.

Looking ahead to the summer, the minister listed some of the actions that are undertaken so that the situation does not worsen, including “the maintenance of Felton 1, the recovery of unit 6 of the Mariel, the maintenance in the Cienfuegos thermoelectric plant, the recovery of power of the engines of the Mariel and Moa, the elevation to 300 MW of the generation of Energas, the recovery of more than 600 MW in distributed generation and the incorporation of new fuel-oil engines (100 MW).” All hasty and with a lack of parts because there is no credit to buy. A bad business.

In particular, and with regard to the effects in Energas, he said that “after several days with more than 300 MW of generation for having drilled a first well of three that are giving us more than 200,000 cubic meters of gas, last Sunday a breakdown occurred that took out all the generation units and limited the manufactured gas destined for the population in the capital.” Then he added that “the service was restored immediately and power has been recovering, until next week, when, again, 300 MW will be delivered.”

The minister believes that with the Guiteras and Energas, before the end of May there will be a considerable decrease in the affected periods and a few months of summer in better conditions. He insisted that “daily, our people have been kept informed about the situation of the national electricity system and of each of these actions,” a measure that also does not solve the problem of the blackouts, and that contributes, even more, to tightening social needs.

The minister also referred to the situation of the 1,000 distribution transformers, which suffered damage during the passage of Hurricane Ian and are being gradually replaced, with priority for strategic sectors such as agriculture. Ian happened in September 2022, soon approaching a year, and they are still trying to solve the problems.

Then, at that time, according to the minister, “it was decided, in addition to taking from the state reserve, to use those that were in the centers of the economy to install them and provide service to the population.” And in this regard, he said that “at the moment raw material for the national production of transformers is arriving in the country, and with this it will be possible to gradually replenish those that were taken, prioritizing strategic sectors such as agriculture.”

And at this point, the minister called on the population and the sectors of the economy to save electricity and fuel, “making a rational and efficient use of energy,” a message that has little to do with the reality of a country in which if consumption is squandered it is not for the population, but for the high level of consumption that the state needs for its platforms of economic control in all areas of economics and society. The communist state is the great squanderer of electricity consumption in Cuba. In addition, it does not pay for it, since everything is charged to the same account. A disaster.

The minister said he hopes that “the lines in the service centers and the situation with the fuel will recover significantly.” Regarding this worrisome aspect and its undesirable effects, the minister said that “we have not had to go to a zero fuel option, with gigantic financial efforts,” but the lines at the gas stations do not seem to indicate that.

The problem is that the lack of fuel in Cuba is generalized not only to gasoline but also to diesel from service and electricity, turbofuel for airlines and to all petroleum derivatives in general. Nobody at this point asked the minister how the production of renewable electricity is going, which barely reaches 5.5% of the total, one of the lowest in the world. Nor has the minister done much to improve this result, which is essential.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Alberto Montaner, Tireless Fighter for Cuba’s Freedom

The writer and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner during a conference in 2018. (Sergio Santillán Díaz / YouTube / Captura2)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 28 May 2023 — The first time I learned about Carlos Alberto Montaner was thanks to an article of his entitled Henry Kissinger in Havana, a work that I liked very much and that established my future interest in a compatriot who, when no one was listening and even less wanted to see, assumed the commitment to attack Castroism, without considering the damage that such a decision could bring about.

The clipping was sent to me in Cuba in the mid-1970s or late 1970s by former political prisoner Héctor Caraballo, who had managed to escape the island on a raft. Héctor, based in Puerto Rico, established a relationship with Montaner as a result of the interest they both shared in Cuba.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that those were decades in which rare voices cried out in the desert of anti-Castroism. Not a few, including governments, underestimated the Cuban dictator who dizzyingly set up a gigantic apparatus with the help of the former Soviet Union to subdue all of America.

Montaner is among the pioneers who confronted the nascent totalitarianism in Cuba and abroad, an honorable credit that not many can show. His management has been successful, to the extreme, that, in a few years, he became a benchmark for learning about the reality of the Island that the Castros and their henchmen had taken over.

On the other hand, Carlos Alberto is among the first to denounce the danger that Castroism represented for the entire continent. His works in this regard were many and I am sure they were among the most widely read by politicians and intellectuals in the hemisphere, including in the United States, which greatly contributed to the mission of combating totalitarian subversion. His farewell letter leaves a void that is difficult to fill.

It is true that I have commented on more than one occasion that one of the sayings of the writer José Antonio Albertini is “ink also kills,” but there are writers like Montaner and Albertini himself who, with the ink they use, have saved and protected those who require aid. continue reading

We must never forget those who, with their talent and dedication, have defended freedom, as well as others, with plenty of courage, who have fought the Fidelista subversion with arms in their hands in different parts of the world, such as Félix Rodríguez and Rigoberto Acosta, among others, as well as the Makasis, Cubans who fought in Africa, both on land, in the air and even in the legendary Lake Tanganyika, the Guevarist and Víctor Dreke armies.

Nor should the many patriots who languished in prisons in Cuba, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela be overlooked for confronting, in their own way and with their convictions, the Island’s totalitarianism.

Castroism has never stopped repressing, and nor have dignified Cubans asked for quarter, among them Carlos Alberto, who through the media, his political activism and international appearances did not stop attacking the dictatorship that overshadowed his homeland, turning him into one one of enemies most hated by Castroism.

There was no lack of patriots to wage war against totalitarianism in all its forms, with or without the consent of the United States. Nor have compatriots been absent who, like Montaner, José Ignacio Rasco, Juan Clark, Eduardo García Moure and Humberto Medrano, just to mention a few, put their talent to the task of spreading the truth about Cuba, achieving, modestly, that willful blindness would give way to some light.

Not all of us will agree with the work that Montaner has accomplished throughout his intellectual tenure, but we do recognize that his work has been exemplary. While the Castros sank Cuba as a nation and a Republic, his life’s work has profoundly contributed to demonstrating the catastrophe that was taking place in our country.

Carlos Alberto Montaner has been, in my opinion, one of the most productive promoters of democracy in Cuba and the rest of the continent. His indisputable talent for debating and his ability to communicate his ideas made him a giant whose work we should all be proud of. He is a great man and as such he deserves our respect and a prominent place in our present and in national memory.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Pays Double for Its Baseballs to an Italian Friend of a Son of Fidel Castro

Renner Rivero from Mantanzas, throwing a TeamMate ball. (Jit)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 27 May 2023 — The Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) is paying more than double for the official balls of the Major Leagues of the United States. The Island paid 12 dollars for each ball of the Italian brand TeamMate in 2020, according to figures from the FCB treasurer, Luis Daniel del Risco, while those manufactured by the Rawlings company for the Major Leagues since 1977 cost a little more than five dollars.

As usual, Del Risco blamed the “blockade” for the cost of the balls, which had to be “bought in China and with transportation” cost between five and seven dollars more than their value. “Here we could buy them for less, but we have to look for them in far-away places, and they are quite expensive,” he said.

The TeamMate company has been supplying the Island with balls since 2020. (Jit)

For five years, the Island’s sports industry has had serious difficulties in producing the balls. According to the official, due to the “lack of leather for the ball, the lack of thread and adequate glue,” the delivery of 100,000 balls (70,000 synthetic and 30,000 leather) per year to meet the needs of 16 teams of the National Series and eight other categories in 547 sports centers was not fulfilled.

Cuba chose TeamMate to try to overcome the crisis. It’s an Italian company based in San Marino and linked to Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC). He is close to Antonio, a son of Fidel Castro, and the man who pulls the strings for baseball in Cuba. continue reading

According to Radio and Television Martí, in 2021 the San Marino news website revealed that Fraccari and the WBSC were being investigated for alleged money laundering. The publication indicated that the Panamanian sports federation complained about the price of the balls provided by the Confederation.

A tax inspection made it clear that “the money that was paid for the TeamMate balls was much higher than the real market value,” the media stressed. “Two million euros were seized at the WBSC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland,” although it was later revoked and reduced to the amount of 258,000 euros, which has maintained to date the accusation of money laundering.

Seeing how a baseball is made is so satisfying.

Haití, separada de Cuba por el estrecho paso de los Vientos, llegó a ser considerado entre 1969 a 1990 como el principal proveedor de pelotas de béisbol en el mundo, cuando en el país no existe identidad por este deporte. En esta región caribeña se establecieron varias empresas dedicadas a maquilar con mano de obra barata miles de bolas. Las compañías McGregor y Rawlings fueron de las beneficiadas de este modelo de explotación impulsado por el dictador haitiano Jean-Claude Duvalier, señaló a The New York Times, Josh DeWind, coautor de Aiding Migration: The Impact of International Development Assistance on Haiti.

Haiti, separated from Cuba by the narrow Straits of Winds, came to be considered between 1969 and 1990 as the main supplier of baseballs in the world, when this sport had no identity in the country itself. In this Caribbean region, several companies dedicated to making thousands of balls with cheap labor were established.

The McGregor and Rawlings companies were the beneficiaries of this model of exploitation driven by Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, as told to The New York Times by Josh DeWind, co-author of Aiding Migration: The Impact of International Development Assistance on Haiti. Shielding itself from the political instability of Haiti, Rawlings closed the plant in Port-au-Prince in 1990, where about 1,000 Haitians worked. It moved its production to Turrialba (Costa Rica), where it produces 2.4 million balls a year.

The company pays $1.60 an hour and the workers have 10-hour days. There they shape the “cork and rubber centers, the Holstein cowhide of Tennessee and the wool fiber of New Zealand that make up the balls that are sent tax-free to the factory,” Reuters published.

Rawlings also supplies balls to the Mexican Baseball League. In 2020, it agreed to a price of $64.40 for 12 balls. That is, each piece costs $5.33, less than half of what Cuba disbursed for each TeamMate ball.

The price of TeamMate also exceeds that of the Franklin Sports brand in the United States, at the same level as the Italian brand, which offers national leagues an average price of 12 balls for 52 dollars.

The balls of the Italian brand TeamMate began to circulate in 2020 on the Island. They replaced the Japanese Mizuno 200, and these in turn replaced the so-called “dull” Connection, a “ball of national production with a very poor bounce,” Cubalité published.

In the first 40 games of the 60th season of the National Series, TeamMate’s ball caused controversy due to the fact that the long-distance batting was more frequent than usual in Cuba. “Since its establishment, home runs have been happening more than usual, and many are already starting to wonder if we are on our way to establishing a new brand of fly balls or frequency of home runs,” the same publication said.

The controversy closely follows the Italian company TeamMate. After failing to supply uniforms, which caused the Elite League to be delayed last October, it has now delivered only half of the balls necessary for the current National Series. Thus, the league had to resort to those of the Batos brand, which “is not made in Cuba, but acquired from a supplier abroad who agreed to give it that name,” Cubadebate said.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Escape of Five Judokas in France Throws the Cuban Sport to the Canvas

Cuban judoka Mellisa Hurtado, one of the five athletes who left the national team in France. (Jit)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Havana, 26 May 2023 — The judokas Vanesa Godinez (106 lbs.), Mellisa Hurtado (115 lbs.), Santa Virgen Romero (172), Blanca Elena Torres (115 lbs.) and Lutmary García (139 lbs) left the Cuban team during their stay in France. “There are 20 athletes,” between January and March of this year, who have taken advantage of some international exit to escape and look for “a better life,” journalist Francys Romero said on his social networks.

The first to separate from the team were Vanesa Godinez, who last year won a silver medal at the European Judo Open in Australia and Mellisa Hurtado, who in the 115 lb. category won the gold medal after beating the Swiss Fabienne Kocher in the same event.

Santa Virgen Romero, who came from important achievements in her beginnings in this discipline and won the National Championship in Cárdenas (Cuba) in 2019, abandoned the team in the first quarter of this year.

Lutmary García, who just last January won a bronze medal in the L’Aisne tournament, held in France, fled on March 11 along with Blanca Elena Torres. This group of judokas is added to the more than 81 Cuban athletes who have deserted their teams between 2022 and 2023.

The escape of athletes continues to hit Cuban sports, which has not commented on the abandonments of the members of the Cuban field hockey team Yadira Miclín Galbán, Marianela López and Daylin Suárez Pérez. The young women reported that they were “starving and cooking with firewood,” in addition to emphasizing that they were paid a pittance, and that is why they decided to stay in Spain.

Nor have they offered any comment about the escape of the hockey players Lázaro Tolón, Yuri Brown and Yordanqui Méndez, who took advantage of their stay in Chile to separate from the national team.

The chain of escapes is occurring while the Island faces a serious economic crisis, manifested by the lack of fuel, continuous blackouts and food shortages. Before those six hockey players, rowers Maykol Julio Álvarez, Yoelvis Javier Hernández and Osvaldo Pérez escaped the last week of April.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

This Year, the Russian Builder UAZ Will Open a Factory To Assemble Vehicles in Cuba

The company was founded in 1941 to provide the USSR with vehicles to face the advance of German troops. (TASS/Izvestiya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 May 2023 — The announcement of the opening in Cuba of an assembly plant of the Uliánovsk Automobile Factory (UAZ) is one of the many symptoms of the good health of relations between Havana and Moscow. The company’s directors said that they will send the first batch of machines to the Island between July and August.

According to an article published last Tuesday in Russia’s official newspaper, Izvestia, UAZ will install a plant that will operate with the “screwdriver” method, a system used by large manufacturers that consists of sending the body parts of a vehicle to the country where it will be sold, since it is much cheaper than exporting a finished unit.

Founded in 1941, UAZ specializes in off-road vehicles, military transport, buses and trucks. Cuba is interested in cargo transport from the UAZ Profi range, as well as ambulances created from the UAZ Loaf model (van type).

The directors of UAZ pointed out that the plant will operate in alliance with Cuban companies, although the name and location of the assembler is not known.

These would not be the first vehicles of this type to circulate on the streets of the Island. In December 2016, the UAZ carrying the ashes of Fidel Castro, in a caravan that crossed much of the Island, stopped due to a breakdown in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, and five young soldiers had to push the car. continue reading

Havana hosted a business forum last week, where a closer alliance between Moscow and the Cuban regime was consolidated. In this meeting, Cuba offered Russian businessmen the right to hold land in usufruct for 30 years, in addition to tax exemptions for the import of agricultural machinery.

Boris Titov, president of the Cuba-Russia Business Council, said that in order for these business plans to move forward, they expect “the reduction of bureaucratic barriers,” and the Díaz-Canel Government has shown unconditional support for changing Cuban legislation.

The arrival of Russian companies on the Island also means a change in the financial system, and the authorities of the Central Bank of Cuba are streamlining authorization for the start of operations of three banks with Russian capital.

Since the Ukrainian war began, the rapport and agreements between Russia and Cuba have been growing. Moscow needs allies after the majority rejection of the invasion, and Havana is trying to resurrect a devastated economy. Last March, ATMs on the Island began to accept cards from the Russian payment system MIR, the version of Visa or Mastercard launched by the Kremlin in 2016 to avoid possible economic sanctions.

The Russian press says that Bolivia became the first country in Latin America to allow the purchase of UAZ vehicles in rubles. “The new form of payment will significantly simplify interaction with the Bolivian side and, in the foreseeable future, will help strengthen the brand’s presence in the region,” the statement adds.

However, the arrival of new Russian officials has raised the alerts of the Cuba Siglo 21 [21st Century] think tank, which describes the alliance as a “transition to a mafia state” and calls on Cubans abroad to be attentive to Russian interference and the possibility of Moscow sending weapons to the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.