Locked Up in My House by the Cuban Political Police on March 8

State Security agent who, this March 8, prevented Luz Escobar from leaving her house. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 8 March 2021 — As soon as the sun came up I got into my usual routine: making coffee, checking the news and starting my work as an independent journalist in a country that does not tolerate freedom of the press.

Sometimes there are days of long hours glued to the keyboard, other days are hours in the field, in “the heat of it” as a colleague says. Today was one of those days to review pending notes and organize the agenda for the week. But in Cuba there is a routine that nobody stops: going out to buy daily bread. Well, hardly anyone.

At the stroke of nine in the morning I grabbed my wallet, ration book, a bag, and headed out to the bakery. When I went down, a State Security officer was again at the entrance of the building to prevent me from going out into the street. He was the same one as on other occasions but, this time, he was accompanied by two women in the uniform of the Ministry of the Interior, tight shirts and olive green miniskirts. continue reading

“Luzbely, you can’t go out today,” the man told me, blocking my way when he saw me ready to cross the door. This time I didn’t answer him or ask him anything, I turned around and waited for the elevator.

“Oh, by the way, congratulations,” said the officer. Since he was wearing the mask, I didn’t detect if he said it sarcastically, but judging by the tone of his voice, he was more nervous than anything else.

In Cuba it is routine on a day like today to hear a congratulation for Women’s Day from every man who passes you by, even if he does not know you.

State Security officials have been harassing me for years, even long before 2014, when I decided to be part of the 14ymedio teamHowever, the open and direct fire against me began when I began to sign aticles, interviews and reports that bring to light the reality that power wants to hide.

In addition to locking them in their homes whenever they want, the political police use a repressive arsenal against women who work in independent media: arbitrary arrests, bans on leaving the country, threats to family and friends, and jail. They have threatened me about my daughters through the State Security Office for minors, using collaborating neighbors who have given false testimonies. They have harassed people close to me to try to scare them away.

All this happens before the eyes of my daughters, who today are already 11 and 13, and I find it impossible to hide what is happening to me. It hurts me tremendously that creatures who don’t understand half the adult world are subjected to states of siege under threat, so I try to explain as best I can. “Your mother writes about things that bother the government a lot and that’s why these things happen,” I tell them.

Also on the horizon is the violence of an act of repudiation like the one against Anyell Valdés recently; State Security has shown that it has no limits when it comes to exercising violence against women and their children.

We are running out of time and our children grow up and soon they will have to experience the repression in the first person. I experienced it as a daughter, now as a mother and a journalist, but I do not want, under any circumstances, for my daughters to also have to suffer this same thing in their own flesh.

That my daughters have found the strength to face it does not lessen the pain. They are the fuel to continue doing what I do, my motivation to fight for the better country that we all deserve.

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Holguin Residents Unite to Protect a Seller of Agricultural Products

The events happened on Mario Pozo Street in the Luz neighborhood, in Holguin. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 March 2021 — Several residents of the Luz neighborhood, in Holguín, prevented two inspectors from seizing several agricultural products sold by a vendor on a corner of Mario Pozo street, according to a footage released Monday on social networks.

Two videos posted on Facebook record how neighbors got together so the merchandise was not taken, which included several products that cannot be found in state markets. The inspectors, dressed in blue long-sleeved shirts, demanded the presence of the stall owner, but no one responded to the call.

“They want to confiscate everything from an unfortunate man who sells and he is the one who resolves things for us here in the neighborhood. How long is the abuse going to go on,” said a neighbor who apparently recorded the materials with her mobile phone. “That man has a sick daughter,” commented another, when she learned that the police had been called. “And he doesn’t even have the money to take her to Havana to be seen,” she added. continue reading

Peppers, strings of garlic and onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, among other products, were on a table that local residents surrounded to protect it. “No one is going to take anything here”, “the situation here is terrible, we are going to help each other”, “we are like cats and dogs, this does not give more,” the neighbor who registered the incident.

“Strength is in union. Rise up,” the woman said while other people collected the products, to safeguard the merchandise from the police. “If we unite, all this does not happen, it is an abuse.” “They want to confiscate everything, from the one who solves us in the neighborhood,” he protested.

“We are going to fight to be better because what is lacking here is humanity, there is no humanity. Damn, why are we going to disgrace a man,” warned the neighbor as the inspectors left and immediately asked for applause and everyone present obliged her. “This is how we have to be: united.”

After collecting all the merchandise from the sales table to move it inside their houses, several neighbors shouted “we won” and applauded the solidarity action.

The scenes of people in the streets defending private sellers from fines or seizures of their products are increasingly frequent, despite the fact that the media constantly blame the self-employed for raising the prices of goods or hoarding food from stores to later resell it.

At the end of February in Caibarién, Villa Clara, a sweet seller staged a protest after being fined 2,000 pesos. The man climbed on the roof of his sales cart, in the middle of a public road, and around him dozens of people from the town gathered to show their support for the self-employed seller.

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“Cuba has Helped to Bleed Venezuela, the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg”

Hugo Chávez with Fidel Castro in Havana, in 1994. (Prensa Latina)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yaiza Santos, Madrid | 27 February 2021– Throughout the past five years journalists, behind the pseudonym Diego G. Maldonado, documented in detail, with direct sources, newspaper archives and cross-public data, to what extent Cuba has blood-sucked Venezuela dried, stretching to the recesses of the Armed Forces and intelligence services. The result of this research is La Invasión Consentida (Debate) [The Authorized Invasion (Debate)], published at the end of 2019 in Mexico, and currently in Spain. Its authors answer, via e-mail to maintain safety, 14ymedio’s questions.

14ymedio. When did you think it was time to write this book?

Maldonado. The issue always caught our attention and the attention of so many people because of its political implications, and because we have never before seen Venezuelan Government’s attachment to another country, and so much deference from a president to another government. But we began to think about thoroughly investigating the relationship between Venezuela and Cuba in 2013, after the death of Hugo Chávez. The fact that the president had decided to receive treatment in Cuba rather than in his own country and that he agonized there, was quite revealing of the dynamics he had established with the Government of Cuba.

14ymedio. The book begins in 2009, “Year 10” of the Bolivarian revolution, and ends a decade later. What are the main data that show that in this time everything had gotten worse in Venezuela?

Maldonado. All socioeconomic indicators show that the situation has worsened. Venezuela is today one of the poorest countries in the region. We have had years with the highest inflation in the world, the national currency has practically disappeared, public services have collapsed, monthly salaries, which in 2019 were equivalent to about 8 dollars, today are less than one dollar a month, and more than five million people have left the country. Venezuela was one of the main oil exporters, and today the industry is ruined. You live through the unimaginable: in a country used to having the cheapest gasoline in the world – it cost less than water – there is a shortage of gasoline, and it’s now dollarized. The book details the crash of the economy. continue reading

During that decade, the political field circle was closed. For students of the process, it was clear that fraud and imposition would come by force once the popularity of Chavismo ended. Chavismo summed it up in the slogan “they will not return.” During a decade, we went from the 2009 approval of the indefinite reelection to Maduro’s great fraud in the electoral farce of 2018. In 2015, we saw the last free elections, when the opposition won the qualified majority in Parliament. From then on, with unbeknownst to the Assembly, the Government permanently removed its mask.

14ymedio. In the first pages, we see Chávez say: “Cuba is part of this homeland, of this union […] the infinite Cuba we love. For Cuba we cry, for Cuba we fight, and for Cuba we are willing to die fighting…”, but that outburst did not always exist. The Chávez of the first hour was the one who said: “I am not a Marxist but I am not an anti-Marxist. I am not a communist but I am not an anti-communist.” What was the beginning of Hugo Chávez’s idyll with Cuba?

Maldonado.There may have been a romantic idea of the Cuban Revolution since his youth, but it is very likely that the idyll, as such, began in 1994, when the Cuban Government invited him to the Island, receiving him as a celebrity. It was reinforced from 2002, after the coup, when Chávez decided to entrust Cubans with intelligence tasks to protect themselves against future military conspiracies. The Chávez of the first hour was a presidential candidate and a rookie in power, aware that the Cuban dictatorship was frowned upon among Venezuelans and, strategically, he navigated in ambiguity during the 1998 election campaign and in his two first years of government, when he presented himself as a politician with no other ideology than Bolivarian jingoism.

14ymedio. And vice versa? It is clear in the book that Fidel’s appetite for Venezuela – or Venezuelan oil – coincides with the beginning of the Revolution. The rivalry between Rómulo Betancourt and Castro as two opposing Latin American figures is very interesting: both liberated their countries from dictatorships, but one was a democrat who consolidated his country, and the other, a dictator who destroyed his. When does Castro discover that Chávez can be useful to him?

Maldonado. Everything indicates that it would have been starting in 1994, when Castro received him at Havana airport with State honors, and with greater security in 2000, when he signed the first major bilateral cooperation agreement, which guaranteed Cuba an oil supply under favorable terms and opened the door for all kinds of business.

14ymedio. The substance of the book, from its title, is that the Cuban regime entered Venezuela but not vice versa. Cuba has everything, oil, armed forces within the Venezuelan intelligence apparatus, and Venezuela?

Maldonado. If truth be told, Venezuela has never had any kind of influence on the Cuban government or its decisions. Maduro could not even prevent them from confiscating his participation in the Cienfuegos refinery, reactivated with Venezuelan funds during Chávez’s time. Nor in the Cuban Armed Forces. No Cuban officer is suitable for a Venezuelan one. Venezuela’s role against Cuba is completely passive.

14ymedio. It is known about the medical missions and the oil, but not the entire network of interference. What were you most surprised to discover?

Maldonado. It is a difficult question. Throughout the investigation, many things surprised us, but there were some that struck us in particular. For example, the Chávez government paid Cuban instructors, who had never left Cuba, to come to teach Venezuelan culture and to work on a supposed program to strengthen national identity. The Culture mission, designed in Cuba and bought by Chávez, was one of the grossest political indoctrination operations in poor neighborhoods. It was surprising to hear a Cuban say that he had taken a 15-day course to teach our traditions here as if it were a course in origami.

It was also shocking to discover that in a country with unemployment and underemployment problems, the Government was paying Cuban drivers and tractor operators to carry out land work, or that it imported workers, administrators and secretaries, and even clowns from Cuba, or that Fidel would personally take charge of the purchase of medical equipment for Venezuela and when spare parts could not be bought due to the embargo on Cuba, or that Venezuela would buy old dismantled sugar mills from Cuba as if they were new. There are many more things, but the saddest thing was discovering the scope of Cuban penetration in the Armed Forces and the submission of Venezuelan officers.

14ymedio. María Werlau’s book Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications has the same purpose as yours, with the difference that your sources are not only bibliographic, but direct. Where did you find it most difficult to find these people?

Maldonado. There were many difficulties due to the fear that exists to speak about the subject on the part of Venezuelans and Cubans. It is understandable, but the investigation took five years, a long time. Many Cubans who worked in Venezuela and who escaped to other countries refused to give us their testimony for fear that we were agents of the Venezuelan or Cuban governments. Many Venezuelan public employees had great reservations against speaking and did not tell everything. The phone was blocked many times. The biggest difficulty was overcoming fear. Fortunately, some trusted that we would not reveal their identity and offered us valuable clues, information and testimonies to put the puzzle together.

14ymedio. Another thing that is not discussed so much is the working conditions of Cubans in Venezuela. Could you elaborate on this from your experience with the sources?

Maldonado. Certainly, this is not discussed a lot, and it is regrettable because, with the open complicity of the Venezuelan Government and those of other countries, Cuban workers are exploited by Havana, monitored and subjected to a semi-slavery regime. The book dedicates a chapter to explain their situation. They earn a tiny fraction of what Venezuela pays the Cuban government for their work. Out of $10,000 a month, they will only see $300, and the Cuban Government keeps the rest. The case of computer scientists is disgraceful, because Cuba charges for an hour or two what it pays them in a month. They accept it because it is ten times more than what they would earn in Cuba. It is unfortunate for a country to obtain its principal source of hard currency from the exploitation of its citizens’ work, in what Havana denominates “exportation of professional services”, which the world perceives as a legitimate and very normal activity.

14ymedio. In the book, you also show that the history of Cuban meddling in Venezuela is also a history of corruption.

Maldonado. Clearly. All agreements – there are thousands – are confidential, and there is no way to subject them to public control or scrutiny. Neither Cuba nor Venezuela are accountable. Many transactions have been made through companies in tax havens. In fact, some things have become known through document leaks like the Panama Papers. It has been possible to document the losses in some failed joint ventures for the amount that was allocated in the budget, but so far, it is impossible to have a global idea.

14ymedio. Despite the shortage in Venezuela, denounced by the opposition and international organizations, the Maduro regime continues to send fuel to Cuba. Why?

Maldonado. It is unusual that a country that subsidized Cuba, its greatest benefactor in recent years, ended up owing the Island. A government that is not capable of guaranteeing food for its own population, or public services or medicines, and that no longer even manages to produce gasoline to satisfy domestic demand, despite having the largest oil reserves in the world, has gone so far as to import gasoline to send fuel to Cuba.

What is Venezuela paying Havana? We can speculate, but there is no way to see the bill, to know what Cuba is charging, because both governments hide it with zeal. The only thing that is clear is Maduro’s relationship of dependence and vassalage towards the Cuban government. Chavismo turned Venezuela into a satellite of Havana.

14ymedio. Sometimes alarm voices are heard in other countries (such as Mexico, with López Obrador, or in Spain, with the Podemos party of Vice President Pablo Iglesias), who say “could this become Venezuela”? Do you think they are founded?

Maldonado. Each country has its specificities. They are fears that are latent but that we would have to document thoroughly in order to be able to give a proper opinion on whether they are founded or not. There are populist attitudes everywhere.

14ymedio. What are the red flags? How does a prosperous and democratic society start to rot?

Maldonado. I would say that the crisis of political representation, such as apathy or lack of confidence is a warning sign for anyone. Why do the citizens of a certain country stop believing in its institutions, in justice, why does part of the population begin to hear mermaid songs? In the case of Venezuela, the traditional parties took democracy for granted, they did not know how to renew themselves, they stopped meeting the demands of the majority, and they also engaged in personal political revenge. That, not counting the tremendous damage inflicted by corruption. It is not easy to notice the precise moment when the snowball begins to roll downhill.

14ymedio. “Well, Venezuela is not Cuba.” Do you agree with this statement?

Maldonado. Each time, there are fewer and fewer people who say that. In fact, we haven’t heard it in a long time. Venezuela is not Cuba – let’s say that technically there is one difference or another – but it is quite similar. Both countries share a lack of liberties and economic precariousness. And their peoples also share a lack of hope. That, perhaps, is the worst. The Venezuelan government has gone to great lengths to destroy what was once the richest country in South America, and the Cuban government has helped to bleed the goose that laid the golden egg.

14ymedio. Did Hugo Chávez die in Venezuela?

Maldonado. Due to the opacity with which everything was handled, Venezuelans have no certainty as to where his physical death occurred. We do not know if he took his last breath at Havana’s Cimeq or at Caracas Military Hospital, as the Venezuelan Government swore in March 2013. But, for all intents and purposes, the Hugo Chávez we knew died in Cuba. We saw him alive there for the last time. On that island, to which he gave everything, he disappeared forever.

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Editing Clarification: María Werlau, author of Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela tells us that “it is incorrect” to say that her book is based “only on bibliographic sources.” “[My] book cites numerous direct sources as well as other publications of my authorship that were developed with direct sources”, she adds in an email sent to the Web.

Translated by Norma Whiting

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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.

Melia Abandons the Management of 3 of Its 35 Hotels in Cuba

The Meliá Cayo Guillermo hotel is one of those that the company has ceased to operate. (Solways Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 March 2021 — The Spanish chain Meliá stopped managing three of its 35 hotels in Cuba in the last months of 2020. According to its latest  economic report, the decision is due to the “scarce commercial opportunities” of the tourist centers and “the operational problems faced over the last few years. ”

The hotels that the Spanish company will no longer manage are Sol Cayo Guillermo, Meliá Cayo Guillermo and Sol Cayo Largo, where the change was accomplished in the last quarter of last year, the report explains. With this reduction, Meliá went from 14,781 rooms in 2019 to 13,916 at the end of 2020.

As for the most affected markets, Cuba stands out, where 60% of the facilities were closed due to the pandemic, the chain says. “This is due to its high dependence on the international market.” continue reading

The income of the European company on the Island fell in 2020 by 84%, yielding only 1.9 million euros, against the 12.1 million it earned the previous year. The company also lost 3.9 million euros in taxes.

Meliá insisted that these results are due to the “closure of borders and internal movement restriction measures to face the pandemic” and recalled that “during the second quarter practically all hotels were closed.”

Among the prospects for 2021, the chain takes into account “the profound monetary reform put into effect in Cuba,” which introduces a devaluation of the Cuban peso against the dollar “whose official rate goes from one-to-one to 24-to-one.”

“As a result of the radical readjustment in relative prices, a notable improvement in the profitability (now measured in Cuban pesos) of export activity is expected, which will directly benefit the country’s tourism activity,” the report states.

Meliá expects tourism demand to recover “strongly” when the health situation normalizes, between this coming May and June, a period in which it foresees a rebound in the number of reservations in Cuba.

Last September, Meliá announced that it was working on a new type of accommodation for teleworking.  The project would be aimed primarily at Canadian clients, the main source market for tourists. But the current report does not provide details about the project.

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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.

‘Cubadebate’ Removes the Ordering Task Survey From its Website

The survey data was devastating, as 94% of Cubans cannot meet their needs with their salary. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 March 2021 — Cubans interested in the survey carried out by the State website Cubadebate, which garnered much success among readers, should consult the independent media to find out what the people of the island really think about the “Ordering Task*” (Tarea ordenamiento) and the dramatic economic situation in the country.

The survey, activated this Monday by the official media, found that the majority of Cubans consider that the Ordering Task “was necessary” for the country’s economy but that it has unquestionably damaged their lives.

The data were devastating. For example, 94% of people on the island say they cannot satisfy their needs through their salary (67% outright and 29% partially), and 78% judge the increase in all prices excessive. continue reading

Only 4% of of those surveyed claimed to have their needs covered with the salary they receive and only 1% agree with the new salaries. In addition, 92% of the survey takers insisted that the quality of life has not improved with the raises. The remaining 8% thought that they did see improvements in some cases, but no survey taker chose the option “Yes, in everything.”

“What happened to the Cubadebate survey on the Ordering Task?” the playwright Yunior García Aguilera asked in a tweet. “You can’t see it. Did they eliminate it?” the artist asked in a response to a tweet from the official media.

Also the user Monik (@ m0n1kfs) pointed out the survey’s absence in the publication, sharing some of the screen captures that she had published on March 1 with the results. “They don’t know how to live in a democracy!” replied Miguel Alejandro (@ miguel940521), another Internet user.

Since January, the Cubans’ ridicule in the street and at home has focused on the Ordering Task, which was clearly reflected in the results of the survey now eliminated.

The currency reform began on January 1 and since then the prices of many basic products have risen excessively, especially food, some basic services, medicines and cleaning products.

It is not the first time that the official pages have eliminated an article that provokes comments or reactions adverse to the Government. Last August, for example, after reporting the launch of the controversial Portero application to control the lines, the Havana Citizen Portal deleted the corresponding note.

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others. 

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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.

Cubadebate’s Readers Rebel Against a Manipulated Survey

“Do you think the salary reform managed to ’right’ the pyramid in every sector, so that each person is paid according to their work and capacity? [No, I don’t know, Yes]” (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 March 2021 — After withdrawing the results of the survey carried out at the beginning of this week on the Ordering Task, the State website Cubadebate has published an article this Friday with some of the trends that the responses to the survey showed, but hiding the most unfavorable percentages. The manipulation of this information is drawing angry criticism from commentators.

“I think that the results of the poll were not adequately reflected in this article. Rather, they were timidly reflected. We all saw the large percentage of voters who reflected their great disagreements in the first three questions,” denounced Octavio.

“Recognizing the problem is the first part of solving it. Let’s take off the blindfold and see the reality, leave the offices and walk the streets and neighborhoods, there is the answer to the survey,” added the reader. continue reading

In the Cubadebate text, when the survey is mentioned, it does not link to the initial poll page, which keeps showing an error message when trying to access it. However, at the foot of this Friday’s article a brief note clarifies that it was only used “as a journalistic tool” and that “it closed after two days of its publication, the time provided to collect responses and opinions.”

The survey, which included 14 questions, was online for two days, but was later withdrawn and its results were no longer visible. The more than 400 comments that the survey had accumulated were also withdrawn, most of which were very critical of the effects of the economic adjustments that began last January with the monetary unification.

The text of this Friday only includes a few results of these questions, the most favorable, among them that 72% of the participants considered the Ordering Task “necessary for the country’s economy,” along with 79% of the respondents who say they have kept their jobs during the time the economic measures package has been implemented.

However, they leave out other very unfavorable percentages, such as the more than 90% who do not see an increase in the quality of the products despite the rise in prices or the 67% of Cubans who cannot satisfy their needs through their salary, according to the results a few hours after starting the poll.

Among the great absentees in the survey questions were about the unpopular stores that sell goods only in freely convertible currency (MLC), which, however, starred in a good part of the complaints left by the Cubadebate commentators.

A reader identifying himself as Eday pointed out that in the comments of the survey many spoke of the impact of the stores in MLC but the investigation of the official site does not reflect the issue. “We do not all have MLC, it is unfair that the basic needs and things for children (yogurt, cookies, juices, sodas, malts, jams) are sold only in those stores. Those of us who do not have MLC are giving life to resellers.”

The Internet user claims to have paid 180 pesos for a packet of straws that costs 0.90 dollars in currency stores, and that the yogurt cup is between 25 and 30 pesos on the street. “As much as the people want to refuse the resellers, we have no choice, especially for those of us who have small children,” he laments.

For his part, Manuel criticizes that nothing is said about the “dual currency.” “The Ordering Task is still seen as that, ’a task’”, and that its success “once again” depends on “the discipline and imperative of the managers. “However, he affirms, the problem must be approached” as a natural process of real structural changes in economic relations. “

“They must do something soon, because inflation is going to swallow us up at any moment,” complains De_De. “In another scenario and with all the stores supplied, the Ordering Task would be a success.”

This newspaper made 14 screenshots with the results of the survey on Monday, March 1 at 3:00 pm, which are attached below.

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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.

Education or Indoctrination?

In 1960 the control and unification of textbooks was implemented in Cuba, a tightening of the screw on the pedagogical process. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eloy M. Viera Moreno, Havana, 6 March 2021 — Since the publication of his Aphorisms,José de la Luz declared the importance of teaching for the development of Cubanness: “We have the teaching profession and Cuba will be ours.” He demonstrated it on a personal scale from his school, El Salvador, training future fighters for independence. However, some students indifferent to politics also passed through there, and others were definitely opposed to our sovereignty. This education generated in its pupils their own thoughts and values and the teaching was based on the personal testimony of a life turned into a living gospel.

Later, the democratic experience of nations allowed the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a power exercised in the past was conceptualized: “Parents will have a preferential right to choose the type of education that will be given to their children.” To facilitate the exercise of this right, in Cuba there were public, private and religious schools, with different methodologies and styles. From the time of Bishop Espada until 1959, the compass of the Cuban teaching profession was to create a school of science, conscience and virtue, all with a Cuban stamp.

With the turn to Marxism, the teaching profession took the Soviet course applied in all the socialist countries of Europe. The process was accelerated, despite freedom of education being among the freedoms granted by the Basic Law of February 1959, theoretically in force until 1976. continue reading

The campaign to nationalize education met useless resistance from educators and parents. A foreboding phrase from the Diario de la Marina of 1960, in addition to describing the moment, summarizes what happened in the last six decades of our reality: “The nationalization of education is nothing more than the enslavement of science at the service of power and subject to its interests. And this is an infallible tactic of every totalitarian government, beginning with the communist one. Consequently, what should be a simple means of spreading illustration becomes a weapon of a political party, of sectarianism, of personal passions. ”

It all started immediately after the triumph of the Revolution with the so-called education reform. For almost two years, the official speech was full of deception and demagoguery. A convoluted statement in October 1959 by the Minister of Education Armando Hart determined in a hyperbolic way that to use the fear of communism in reference to the Revolution was to go against the popular process; from which the terms “anticommunist” and “counterrevolutionary” were dangerously synonymous. Successive subsequent official declarations promised that private education would not be eliminated, especially Catholic, a treacherous campaign in which Hart himself played a prominent role.

First, in 1960 the regulatory power of the Minister of Education over both types of public and private education was defined, being subject to official orders. The control and unification of teaching texts was implemented, a tightening of the screw to the traditional methodological inspection of the State on the pedagogical process. Subsequently, the function of teaching was declared public and its provision free, and it was established that this function corresponded to the State, a measure from which only religious schools escaped. Later, the Educational Planning Commission began to operate under the direction of the minister and began to discard or modify the previous textbooks. Starting from nothing, communist intellectuals such as Carlos Rafael Rodríguez and Sergio Aguirre began to write the new textbooks to teach the History of Cuba.

The reform ended at dawn on May 2, 1961, when hundreds of militiamen, following Fidel Castro’s directions, occupied the surviving private schools. The Education Nationalization Law was issued a month later. It was officially announced that Russian would become a compulsory subject in our schools, for which a group of 2,300 teachers would be trained. That nonsense was finally unfulfilled thanks to popular resistance, although we were indeed able to study that language through broadcasting.

Today, the discourse of a government – which is the “continuity” of that one — labels independent journalists and opponents of the regime mercenaries at the service of powers beyond the seas. Following that line of thought, let us remember that thousands of miles of land and sea stretch between Havana and Moscow; our commercial relations had been minimal until 1959; our cultural contacts even less so; and the influence of their way of life in our history and national traditions absolutely null. Consequently, the leaders who then promoted the turn to Marxism deserve the same label.

From then on, I repeated at school: “We will be like Che!”, although my mother spoke to me later at home about his violent executions, hoping that her son was not like him. My children also repeated the slogan in their school, while their parents taught them in the shadow of the home all the aspects of the life and work of the “Heroic Guerrilla.” Finally, my first grandson, also a student of those centers of indoctrination, came to ask at home: “Dad, is that Fidel you are talking about, is he the same one they teach me about at school?”

This long chain of several generations indoctrinated by the “reformed” Cuban School, swimming in the depths of double standards, qualifies among the fundamental causes of the current loss of values ​​of all kinds, especially those that promote citizen participation, the construction of the nation.
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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.

Sandro Castro Apologizes for the Video Where He Was Driving a Mercedes Benz

Sandro Castro apologized through a video that he published this Thursday on the social network Instagram. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 March 2021 —  Sandro Castro, the grandson of former Cuban ruler Fidel Castro, apologized this Thursday for a video in which he was driving a Mercedes Benz. In the filming, which generated an avalanche of criticism, he was seen driving at 87 miles per hour and bragging about the vehicle that he now says belongs to “an acquaintance.”

In just under two minutes, Castro wanted to offer a “big apology” to Cubans who are inside and outside the island, to people close to him, to his relatives and to all those who were offended by the images in which he boasted about the vehicle, as he explained in a post on Instagram that does not allow comments.

“I did not publish that video, I only put it in my WhatsApp status for my close, trusted and close contacts, but for reasons against my will it spread to other media,” he said. continue reading

Sandro affirmed that the car that appears in the recording belongs to an acquaintance who lent it to him because he likes cars and wanted to try it. “That’s when this video was actually shot.”

“When I referred to the toys I had at home, I said it as a joke,” he said, referring to a phrase heard in the video where he hints that he has other cars.

“I also want to clarify about a tweet about me is false, I do not have Twitter or Facebook, only Instagram. I am not interested in social networks or popularity. I am a simple person and that is how I consider myself. People close to me know that what I’m saying is real.”

Facebook profile attributed to his uncle, Alex Castro Soto del Valle, and endorsed by official journalists, published this Tuesday that “one rotten potato does NOT indicate that all the potatoes in the sack are bad,” alluding to Sandro Castro’s video, which provoked dozens of comments of support from followers of the regime.

For his part, the Cuban singer-songwriter Israel Rojas of the duo Buena Fe, described Sandro as “irresponsible,” “rude” and “disrespectful… However, this would only be the stupidity of an immature man, of the many that swarm in social networks, if it were not for the fact that the protagonist is a grandson of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro,” he said.

This is the first time that someone linked to the Castro family has publicly apologized for any excess. In 2015, Antonio Castro, son of the former ruler, was photographed while vacationing with a luxurious yacht on  the Greek island of Mykonos and in Turkey, but the fact was only aired on social networks and independent media.

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San Isidro Movement Calls for a National Dialogue Without Excluding the Cuban Authorities

Activists of the San Isidro Movement at the organization’s headquarters, in Old Havana, last November. (MSI)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 5 March 2021 — The San Isidro Movement (MSI) has launched the Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] platform to convene a “national dialogue” with all actors in society, including the Government, and build a Cuba that represents “a safe home for all,” and to overcome the serious crisis that the nation is suffering through “peaceful and civic solutions.”

“The measures of the so-called Tarea Ordenamiento* [Ordering Task] have only exacerbated economic and social inequalities,” asserts the MSI in a statement published this Friday. “The role of the Government has been reduced to managing shortages, hunger, repression and violence in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic,” the text continues. “The Government continues to be incapable of guaranteeing respect for the human rights of its citizens.”

The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the most visible face of the movement, tells 14ymedio that the platform arises because of the “disrespect” that there is “on the part of the regime.” Despite this, he declares that “there cannot be a dialogue in Cuba without the systemic part, without the regime part.” Now, he asserts, “it has to be with character,” hence the motto Patria y Vida, which coincides with the viral song of that name and in whose video clip Alcántara himself appears wrapped in a Cuban flag: “Right now we are dead and we want life. It is very encouraging, we want life in the future of Cuba, a living Cuba, with its mistakes but alive.” continue reading

Alcántara referred to the reaction of the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, on January 27, when he attacked a group of artists who were demonstrating in front of the official building, “ignoring the voice of the citizenry.” However, he recalls that the attempts to approach the cultural authorities are not new: “Since Decree 349 and #00Biennial [in July 2018] we wanted a face-to-face a dialogue with the minister,” he says. “The authorities always managed to stir things up, but today we believe that it is no longer possible to speak from the cultural space, it is necessary to speak at the level of citizens, of civic responsibility.” And he asserts: “I cannot make my art if there is a dictatorship in Cuba.”

The MSI statement defends plurality in order to integrate the majority of citizens and overcome the crisis affecting the country. “The only thing we want to abound in Cuba is prosperity, progress and respect for our dignity as free human beings. We do not bet on conflict, we proclaim peace,” the text indicates.

The dialogue would have several phases, the first, which should last 21 days, begins this Friday. At this stage, the proposals of those who wish to participate will be collected through the email dialogonacional@movimientosanisidro.com or in the “Patria y Vida” tab of the San Isidro Movement website.

Alcántara pointed out that, based on initiatives prior to this one, the new thing that the MSI can do is to propose dialogue from the point of view of art “with a lot of inclusion and respect for the work of many people.”

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others. 

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Life Gets More Difficult Every Day in the Cuban Capital

Centro Habana is considered the smallest municipality in the capital but the most densely populated. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 March 2021 — The streets of Centro Habana, one of the municipalities of the Cuban capital with the most covid-19 infections, record the desolation that reigns in many corners of the island.

Proof of this desolation is in this image – taken today by a photographer from 14ymedio – of a retiree rummaging through a garbage container looking for who knows what, like so many others. The elderly used to collect glass bottles or beer cans to sell to the Raw Materials Recovery Company. But this business, which made it possible to supplement miserable pensions a bit, has shrunk substantially with the widespread shortage.

Since the pandemic arrived, according to official data, the municipality has accumulated more than 2,300 cases positive for the disease. In its neighborhoods, yellow tapes constantly appear that mark off the residential areas to indicate that they are in mandatory quarantine, and one of its most important neighborhoods, Los Sitio, has been partially closed for two weeks. continue reading

This Friday, however, a tour by a team from this newspaper documented that despite the rise in infections in Centro Habana, life does not stop: you can find, as usual, all kinds of products on the black market and a lot of residents moving around trying to get something to put on the table.

The latest daily report from the Ministry of Public Health reports 777 new cases of Covid-19 in the country for a cumulative total of 54,085 cases since the disease arrived in March 2020. In Havana alone there were 333 positives, 26 of them from Centro Habana.

This area is among those selected to distribute Nasalferon, an immunoprotectant derived from interferon. Since dawn on Thursday, “22,000 vials of the immunoprotective agent have been distributed for those in home isolation, to which another 1,500 are added for isolation centers,” the official press reported.

To prevent the product from ending up being resold on the black market, the authorities have established the requirement that contacts of positive cases who receive the drug “will be obliged to return the empty bottle as proof that there were no deviations,” a measure that further complicates the work of the brigades that patrol the quarantined neighborhoods.

In the Plaza de Carlos III, which was recently closed due to a Covid-19 outbreak, the lines don’t get any shorter. This Friday, the foreign exchange store located inside the shopping center stocked flat screen televisions, washing machines and sets of bathroom fixtures, which resulted in a long line from the early hours of the morning.

The most popular agricultural market in the municipality, located on the central San Rafael street, can now only be accessed through a narrow corridor surrounded by quarantine tapes, due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the surrounding area. The bad news is that in the immediate vicinity of this private seller area is one of the most dynamic areas of the informal market in Centro Habana.

“Here there was everything, things no longer found anywhere: powdered milk, eggs, sweet and salty cookies and even shampoo, but now there are only police and people watching,” an area resident warns this newspaper. “This is dead because the food market was the least of it, here the most important thing happened outside.”

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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.

Run Over in Havana by a State Car While in Line to Buy Yogurt

The white car, with official registration, ran over a man in his 40s who was line to buy yogurt on Ayestarán street, in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 5 March 2021 — Lines are no longer news in Cuba until they are. This Friday, a man who was waiting in a long line outside a store on Ayestarán Street, in Havana, was run over by a state vehicle. Anxiety to purchase some product in the Trimagen Complex had caused the crowd to overflow from the sidewalk around the door of the store.

The individual, in his 40s, was hit by a car with official registration and belonging to the National Archives of the Republic that was traveling in the direction of Avenida 20 de Mayo. By the time the vehicle passed the Trimagen store, a crowd of people filled the entire sidewalk and part of the street.

The shopping center, located in the municipality of El Cerro and managed by the military, opens early with hundreds of customers outside anxious to buy food. This Friday, the only things for sale were aerated soda, mayonnaise and yogurt, but the line stretched for almost two blocks. continue reading

“One minute we were all focused on the line, making sure that no one got in front of us, and a minute later it was all shouting,” a witness to the event tells 14ymedio. “The wounded man was taken to the hospital in a taxi that was behind the car that hit him and the police patrol took a long time to arrive,” he adds.

The National Archives vehicle was parked at the scene of the accident, which further complicated the organization of the queue, which was quite chaotic from the beginning. Despite the fact that only residents of the municipality can buy in these stores, due to the mobility restrictions imposed after the rebound in Covid-19 cases, the influx of customers is constant.

“Around here there are several areas that were in quarantine for more than a week and when the tapes were removed, people went out like crazy to buy anything,” says a resident. “There were many days of confinement and you have to take whatever you find.”

Others blame resellers for the crowds that are created every morning in front of the Trimagen Complex. “This place is full of coleros [people who others pay to stand in line for them] and people who come to buy as a business. They buy a bottle of a liter and a half of soda here and then sell it at three or four times its value in other neighborhoods. That is why this line is chaos,” comments another customer.

“That poor man, he went to the hospital today probably with a broken rib or clavicle and left without the product for which he had waited many hours. A real tragedy,” says a person who started the line at seven o’clock in the morning, and after noon he still had not managed to buy anything.

According to official data, in Cuba there is an accident on the public right-of-way every 55 minutes, one person dies every 15 hours and there is someone injured every 75 minutes. The accidents involving vehicles in poor condition, precariously patched together, in use as public transport are numerous and many times end with multiple deaths in a single accident.

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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 Only Thing That’s Gotten Better in Havana Since the Pandemic is Transportation

Some Havana residents smile at the site of so many taxis on the streets during the pandemic, joking that they make the Cuban capital look like New York. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, February 26, 2021 — The pandemic has left an odd imprint on Havana. Bus stops, scenes of real chaos in pre-Covid times, now look deserted most of the day. While the situation is very different during peak hours, from 7:00 to 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 to 6:00 P.M., the stops are never as crowded as they were before 2020. An inspector at each stop is now there to make sure the number of passengers boarding the bus does not exceed the allowable limit and, as much as possible, that riders maintain a safe distance from each other to avoid contagion.

“The only thing that’s gotten better in this town in the past pandemic year is public transportation. I work at a bank and every day I go from Cerro to Vedado. Before, I would spend more than an hour waiting for a bus or a taxi. Now I don’t have to wait more than fifteen minutes here,” says 51-year-old Alicia Medina.

Indeed, in less than twenty minutes on Wednesday afternoon, the stop at the busy intersection of 27th and G streets was cleared of passengers. Three metro buses came by during that time. On two occasions, buses with routes that covered long stretches of the city — the P11, P16 and P2 — arrived, along with taxis. A lot of taxis, especially those popularly known as gazelles. continue reading

On Wednesday afternoon the bus stop at the busy intersection at the intersection of 27th and G streets had been cleared out within twenty minutes.

“I’d rather take a taxi. It’s more comfortable and… in my case it only costs three pesos more. The bus I take costs five so I’m happy to pay the extra. Lately I haven’t had to wait more than five minutes and the flow is constant. It looks like New York at rush hour, with all the streets full of yellow taxis like in the movies,” says a young woman who, according to her account leaves home every day because she works at a privately owned Italian restaurant on 23rd Street in Vedado which makes home deliveries.

The young woman has a point. The gazelles, which belong to Metrotaxi, are the stars of Havana’s urban landscape, plying the city’s busiest thoroughfares, especially during peak hours.

“The ones that never stop are the ones with Cubataxi, the yellow and black ones. I don’t know why but they never stop,” she says. The reason they are never available is simple: they now serve only hospitals and cab stations.

“They are the only routes we have now. The rates are for hospital patients and visitors. We charge 1.25 pesos per kilometer,” explains a Cubataxi employee.

Another company with a fleet of yellow cars is Agencia de Taxi, which used to charge in convertible pesos and whose customers are now mainly tourists. Their prices are much higher, which has made them less popular, but they help alleviate demand during peak hours.

“Our fares are the same as they were when we were charging in CUC based on an exchange rate of 25 pesos,” claims an employee, though he mentions that there are changes coming because the company has “decided to fix the taximeters” in every one of its drivers’ cars.

Another of the lines of yellow cars that circulate through the city are those of the Agencia de Taxi, which previously charged in CUC and were mainly focused on tourism. (14ymedio)

“Once the contract is up at the end of this month, we’ll be able to get the taximeters fixed and refurbished,” he says, though he points out that the company doing the repairs will only be servicing them at the Agencia de Taxis’ cab stands.

“If a customer files a complaint because a taxi driver is charging a higher fare than is allowed or is falsifying prices, he’ll be fined 5,000 pesos if it is a first offense. If he is caught doing it again, he’ll lose his commercial license for good,” he adds. Drivers can also be fined 2,000 pesos if they do not turn on the taximeter.

That won’t last long,” says one taxi driver. “Pretty soon people will figure out tricks to get around the rules. I’ve spent twenty-five years in this business and taximeters have never solved anything. The last time they tried it, it didn’t work. What never changes is supply and demand. And negotiating a price with the customer.”

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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.

In Havana, Carlos III Plaza Closes Again Due to Covid Outbreak

The Carlos III is closed due to a Covid outbreak, according to a worker at the shopping center. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 25 February 2021 — For the second time in less than a year, the Carlos III Plaza, in Centro Habana, has closed its doors again due to a Covid-19 outbreak. The largest shopping center in the Cuban capital will not provide service “until further notice” and at least seven store workers have tested positive for the disease, an employee told 14ymedio.

“We have been told that they will open at the weekend but it has not yet been confirmed, and it seems almost certain that at first there will be no food services of any kind to avoid crowds within the premises,” adds the worker who preferred anonymity. “They are doing PCR on all of us and, at the moment, we are at home waiting for the results.”

The line to buy potatoes on Jesús Peregrino street in Havana. (14ymedio)

Outside the premises, on the centrally located Carlos III street, several uniformed members of the Prevention Troops, with their red berets, guard the area, but do not give customers details about the epidemiological situation. “Closed until further notice,” one of the soldiers repeated this morning to an elderly woman who was inquiring about the reasons for the suspension of service. continue reading

On one side of the building, which occupies an entire block, a military vehicle, a van, is located from the early hours of the morning just where, until a few days ago, the long line began to enter the supermarket located on the ground floor of the Plaza. Last week the place was abuzz with people waiting, but today it is deserted.

“Better not even ask, because if you start to investigate a lot they will look at you with a frown, as if they were expecting to buy” some chicken and a little oil. “A few minutes later, a radio placed in a nearby doorway could be heard playing this Thursday’s update with the Covid-19 figures on the Island.

Of the total of 670 new positive cases announced on Thursday, 364 are in Havana, which continues to be the epicenter of the current upturn in the pandemic on the island. According to Deputy Prime Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, “from the explosion of cases” positive for Covid-19 in recent months, the territory “no longer has the capacity to isolate all the contacts” of the infected.

Quarantine zones and closures of markets or public institutions contrast with long lines to buy food, which have become even longer as shortages increase.

Black market potatoes sell for 120 pesos for five pounds. (14ymedio)

This same Thursday, on Jesús Peregrino Street, a few yards from the Plaza de Carlos III, dozens of people waited to buy the potatoes from the rationed market that have begun to be distributed in the neighborhood at three pesos a pound. With two pounds per capita, the arrival of the tuber has become an event due to the fall in the supply of other products such as rice and bread.

“You have to have something to put with the little you can put on the plate,” complained Amarilys, a 79-year-old retiree who started the line before “the sun came up.” Despite the authorities’ calls for the most vulnerable people not to go out in the streets, most of those waiting were elderly and there were also some people with disabilities.

Others, however, have not had to line up to get some potatoes. “It hit the black market first,” says a young man from a balcony. In the same area yesterday, five-pound bags of potatoes began to be sold at 120 pesos. The price can go up if the customer wants the purchase delivered to an area closed by confinement, as is the case of the Aramburo block between Zanja and San Martín, which has been closed with metal quarantine fences.

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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 Magazine ‘Vocabulo’ Reappears After a Six Year Pause

Cover of the magazine ’Vocablo’, of the Association for Freedom of the Press. (APLP)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 March 2021 — The magazine Vocablo of the Association for Freedom of the Press (APLP), which stopped printing in 2015, has been published again, this time in PDF format and with a selection of the best of the Cuban free press.

To prepare this first issue of the second stage, its current coordinator, Julio Aleaga Pesant, summoned various independent journalists so that each one could choose a text published in 2020. From now on the magazine intends to publish a monthly issue and maintain the system of selection by the authors.

The collection, presented with a sober design, brings together articles featuring analysis and opinion, chronicles, interviews and humor published in various independent media.

José Antonio Fornaris, president of the APLP and director of the magazine, told 14ymedio: “We thank those who have sent their work for the trust placed in us and we reiterate that it does not matter whether the collaborators are within or outside the country. If someone is willing to allow us to publish their articles, we will welcome them. Everyone is welcome to this party.” continue reading

Since its foundation in 2006, the Association has been subject to pressure and threats from State Security. In 2018, the organization’s headquarters suffered a police search that resulted in the seizure of two computers, two external hard drives, twelve USB sticks, three printers and dozens of documents.

In February of that same year, four members of the APLP, who were going to Trinidad and Tobago to participate in a journalism workshop, were informed they could not leave the country because they were ’regulated’In addition, they were threatened during interrogations with the aim of having them abandon their work.

The Association for Freedom of the Press (Asociación Pro Libertad de Prensa) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that helps promote freedom of the press and expression on the island. In December 2017, the group sent a report on freedom of the press in Cuba to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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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.

Crowd in Caibarien Shows Support for a Sweet Seller Fined 2,000 Pesos

“Cancel the fine,” demand several voices. “Abusers,” say others who also repeat “Enough abuse already.” (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 February 2021 — A sweet seller staged a protest this Saturday in Caibarién, Villa Clara, after being fined 2,000 pesos. The man climbed on the roof of his sales cart, in the middle of a public road, and around him dozens of people from the locality gathered showing their support for the self-employed seller, as reported by Yeko Rodríguez.

In a live broadcast via Facebook, made by Rodríguez, the man is seen perched on the roof of a three-wheeled vehicle adapted as a point of sale for sweets and trinkets. “That man who is up there has just been fined 2,000 pesos for selling sweets, sweets that are not  available in the stores,” says the young man.

“He sells cupcakes and meringues,” adds Rodríguez as dozens of people approach, shouting at the authorities. “Don’t get off. Homeland and life,” a passerby is heard saying. Shortly after, several police vehicles with uniformed men arrive at the scene and try to make the seller get down. No success so far. continue reading

“Cancel the fine,” cry several voices. “Abusers,” we hear others say, who also repeat “Enough abuse already.” “The only thing that man does is work and they make him out to be an enemy,” adds Rodríguez. “I’m not going to get off,” insists the private worker while the solidarity around his sales cart increases.

The vendor begins to distribute his sweets to the crowd for free and the broadcast cuts out.

A litle while later, Yeko Rodríguez reappeared in a live broadcast on Facebook denouncing that his account had been hacked and the two videos of the protest deleted. The young man identified the seller as “Miguel” and insisted that many asked him about what finally happened with the seller of sweets. “I do not know, as I understand a government official said that they were going to cancel the fine.”

“Maybe I can’t broadcast more today. From what I see on the networks and the repercussion this has had, at any moment someone comes and quotes me and I will go, because all I have done is show the truth,” said Rodríguez in a short video.

As of January 29th, the Cuban authorities established fines of up to 15,000 pesos and the confiscation of their merchandise as a punishment to merchants who contravene the new rules on prices and rates published in the Extraordinary Official Gazette.

The decree-law establishes different penalties, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos for not having a display board with the products and prices they offer; penalties from 8,000 to 10,000 for “withholding, reserving, postponing or not putting up for sale the products meant for retail marketing”; and from 12,000 to 15,000 if they do not comply with the ordered measures, for what is considered “abusive prices” and “speculative prices.”

The measure was published amid a growing shortage in the country’s agricultural markets, where many products have disappeared from the market stands to plunge into the informal market.

A few hours later a video filmed by another witness was released in which the crowd is seen gathering around the police car to prevent the arrest of the seller. When the patrol car leaves the scene, several dozen people follow the vehicle. “We are going to the Government,” shout some who are heading towards the headquarters of the People’s Power in the municipality.

A local source confirmed to 14ymedio that several representatives of the local government left the building to inform the crowd that the self-employed person had been released and the fine had been withdrawn.

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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.