"Death Was Behind the Door," Recalls Alfredo / 14yMedio

A poster for the Gay Film Festival now underway in Holguin. (Leonardo del Valle)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Leonardo del Valle, Holguin, 13 December 2017 — Alfredo was 35 in 2000, when he was diagnosed HIV seropositive. Two weeks ago this 52-year-old homosexual man and his mother attended the presentation of The Normal Heart, the film that opened the cycle of gay cinema that will run in the Holguin Provincial Film Center until 20 December. It was 1 December and the cultural space was one of the few public places that paid tribute to those who work to eradicate the AIDS virus or improve the quality of life of those who have contracted the disease.

Judging by the opinions of the workers in the room, the audience reception was excellent, with an attendance that far surpassed that of previous editions. The Normal Heart details the uncertain onset of a disease, which at that time was linked exclusively to homosexuals, and it does so through truly moving images and a frank awareness of the ignorance about AIDS in the decade of the 80s.

Alfredo and his mother, like so many others in the audience, shuddered during the hardest scenes of the film, supported by an excellently constructed script.

“I drove the nurse crazy, I went every day to the municipal Hygiene and Epidemiology Office, I suspected it, I was waiting for the final test result, the one that says if you really do or do not have HIV,” he says, about the days before he received his diagnosis.

On 6 June they gave him the result. “That morning I arrived and the nurse was busy, but she came out immediately to help me, I will never forget look on her face, I did not let her talk, I said, ’Your face tells me everything.’ ” That echoed in his ears like a hammer blow.

“I asked when I had to go to the sanatorium and she told me that same day.” Alfredo asked the nurse for two days to prepare, but the nurse barely gave him one.

“I can see clearly, right now, Alfre with his sister,” recalls Nelda, his mother. “She said, ’I need to talk to you, mommy,’ and she took me to the bedroom, I thought she was going to tell me something about my granddaughter, but that wasn’t it.”

“I do not know how the news came out in the block,” says Alfredo, who didn’t realize how much his neighbors loved him, until he saw them saying goodbye, crying, when he went to the Aguas Claras sanatorium. “It was very painful, it was like I would never come back,” he recalls.

The hardest moment of those interminable 24 hours, after learning that he had contracted the virus, was when his mother turned her back to him as she prepared to leave the sanatorium.

“I remember that I felt as if they were taking my life, when I was leaving, I did not have the courage to look back. From that moment on, I started going to the sanatorium every day, until I joined him there. I was learning about the disease and I was acquiring more spiritual strength,” says Nelda.

Alfredo remembers that time with terror. “One felt that death was behind the door, I was in the sanatorium for three months,” he recalls. “Actually that stage prepared me to know how to coexist with the disease, although I never agreed with that system in which we were practically prisoners without committing any crime.”

Alfredo relates that in the sanatorium he lived with good people, but also with others who came from prison. Even so, he gradually accepted his situation and spent his time sewing, a skill he learned from a very young age. He sewed for the patients, for the workers and even for the neighbors who lived nearby.

During the viewing of the film, Alfredo recalled the moment he tried to commit suicide, something very common among patients who have been diagnosed with the virus and who fall into a severe depression.

“When I left the sanatorium I went to look for my life, the one I had before the results,” says Alfredo, referring to his work in a primary school. The marginalization to which he was subjected led him to leave the school shortly afterwards and he devoted himself to sewing at home.

Alfredo noted the ignorance of the doctors themselves about the disease when they found he had kidney cancer. “To get them to operate on me, I had to break down walls of ignorance and that was not very many years ago.”

His eyes are lost in infinity and he is agitated when he remembers those difficult moments. He does not hide that The Normal Heart affected him. “Thanks be to God I am alive, and also to the scientific advances, but I saw many patients die. That uneasiness that the characters in the film showed, that sudden pain, I felt it, Mom felt it,” Alfredo adds.

“Today youth see AIDS as something very normal, like a cold, and it is not,” he warns.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Daranas Seduces Cuban Audience with His Film About the Special Period

The ’Sergio & Sergei’ film crew this Thursday during the press conference at the Hotel Nacional. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 15 December 2017 — On Thursday, Ernesto Darana’s film Sergio & Sergei was finally shared with a Havana audience and the full room of the Yara cinema eruped with applause, laughter and tears. The exhibition of the Cuban director’s work, presented at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, had been frustrated last Sunday by a projector breakdown at the Chaplin Cinema

The filmmaker, whose previous film Conducta (Behavior) received many awards, attended the screening and regretted that the Yara Cinema did not have “optimal quality” technology for both the image and the sound.

This “is a film to smile [and] to think,” said the producer about the work on the film, which was presented worldwide in the official section of the latest edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. The film reflects “a crisis that has not yet ended,” in reference to a not too distant past whose echoes still resonate in today’s Cuba. continue reading

With a script by the director and Marta Daranas, the plot of Sergio & Serguéi is set in Havana in 1991 when the Special Period begins. Sergio is a professor of Marxism and amateur radio enthusiast, while Serguéi, a Soviet cosmonaut who travels to space as a Soviet and will return to Earth as a Russian, spends days of anguish in the damaged Mir space station.

Sergio & Sergei communicate by radio, helping each other despite the adversities they experience and the complex circumstances of their respective nations. On Earth, the brutal economic crisis provoked in Cuba by the collapse of the USSR — a time Fidel Castro labelled “The Special Period in Time of Peace” — sharpens Sergio’s paranoia, as he flees from his persecutors to the service of State Security.

For Mario Guerra, the actor who plays the vigilante Ramiro, the work done by the political police in Cuba is “castrating” and he confesses that he likes that people laugh at “such a moronic person” as Ramiro.

“There are things that do not deserve to be taken seriously,” said Daranas, referring to the tone of farce in which the character of the security agent is approached. During the press conference the director also mentioned that the film still has no release date in Cuban theaters, but it will be released in 2018 in Spain, as confirmed by the co-producer Mediapro.

In developing Sergio & Sergei, the director said he was inspired by those “operetta characters” who constantly break into everyday life and people’s dreams, and took advantage of the press conference to say that he refused to take seriously “the permanent extremists” and “the controllers.”

The film achieves highly worthy special effects that the team may well be proud of, as well as having excellent sound design along with credit for having hired an actor of the caliber of Ron Perlman to play Peter. Peter, an American journalist who lives in New York who is interested in investigating the propaganda of his country’s space program, ends up contacting Sergio.

The veteran American actor describes his character as “a quasi-revolutionary Jewish journalist living in New York” who reveals “the different forms of corruption of the US government.” Perlman had to sign “more than three thousand papers” to obtain permission from the United States Actors Association and work on a Cuban production.

However, beyond the fiction recreated or the amalgam of nationalities in the film’s cast, the most certain thing one can say about the film is that it manages to connect with a Cuban audience on a plane of complicity, recognition and identification.

“I do not want my daughter to grow up seeing this,” Sergio says on the screen, and the phrase generates a tremor in the room full of parents and grandparents who lived through those years. The teacher of Marxism sees how the world he knows falls apart and how he must set aside his principles to support his family, a story known by those who from the seats who fought tooth and nail in their daily struggle.

For Daranas, the film is a story “about friendship” and “about good people who deserve better.” Although in reality it is a film about unburied ghosts that run through the national life and lead us to wonder: What good were so many sacrifices to get to today’s disaster?

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Traffic Crash in Yaguajay Leaves Three Dead and Two Seriously Injured

The crash occurred at 3:00 am. (La Voz de Yaguajay)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 December 2017 — A traffic accident in the town of Yaguajay, in the province of Sancti Spíritus, has left three people dead and two injured, according to the local radio station The Voice of Yaguajay.

The crash, which occurred around three in the morning, involved a bus from the Villa Clara Urban Bus Company, and a horse-drawn vehicle which was hit by the state vehicle.

The bus driver, Elier Mederos Lopez, 44, died as a result of the crash, as did Denis Iglesias Granados, 21, along with one other person. All three were residents of the municipality of Yaguajay. continue reading

“As a result of the collision, the horse-drawn vehicle was destroyed and it was necessary to use a crane to extract the body of the busdriver ,” the radio station’s Facebook site reads. The horse pulling the cart also died in the crash.

Daniela Rodríguez García, just 17 years old, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Joaquín Paneca Hospital for back injuries and an ankle fracture, according to Dr. Yovisley Ruiz García, speaking to the local press.

The doctor also reported that the second injured, Jorge Ramón Cubilla Claro, 53, was sent to Camilo Cienfuegos Hospital for throat injuries and multiple rib fractures and is in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

In August of this year another traffic crash took place in Yaguajay, on the Caibarién road, leaving one man dead and ten injured when the driver of a Dodge vehicle lost control and hit a house, dying instantly and causing significant damage to the property.

In the last five years there have been 56,605 traffic crashes on the Island that left 3,696 dead, which places it as the fifth cause of death in Cuba and the first among the age group of 15 to 29 years, according to official statistics.

More than 42,100 people were injured in these crashes which also caused an estimated loss of 2.5 billion Cuban pesos.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Baptist Church Denounces the Occupation of One of Its Buildings in Havana

The building belonged to the Southern Baptist Convention in the US until in 1967, to avoid potential confiscation because it was American property, it was transferred to the Cuban arm of the church. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 December 2017 — The Baptist Church, through the pastor and coordinator of the Patmos Institute, Mario Félix Lleonart, has denounced the occupation of one of its buildings since last July by individuals acting in a personal capacity. The building is the site of the Office of the Board of Missions of the Association of Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, located in Havana’s Vedado district.

The Church has denounced that the authorities are not fulfilling their obligation to restore the property to its legitimate owners and has requested the intervention of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the United States along with the support from the US Government. The demand has its origin in fact that the building belonged to the SBC’s Home Mission Board until, in 1967, to avoid a potential confiscation because of its being an American-owned property, it was transferred to the Baptist Convention Association of Western Cuba. continue reading

According to Lleonart, who details the complaint in a statement posted on the Patmos Institute website, the church was installed on the ground floor of the building, but little by little the upper floors were filled with people who occupied the building in the face of the apathy of the religious community and the Government’s disinterest. The authorities have taken a special interest in stripping the Baptists of this property located in an area of ​​preferential interest next to the University of Havana.

The Convention denounced those early phases of the occupation and in the early 1990s the courts ruled in their favor, but the authorities alleged that they could not force the illegal residents to leave, since they had no place to relocate them to. In spite of everything, the Convention recovered several floors and decided to locate the Office of the Board of Missions there, which opened this past July 6.

The Patmos Institute denounces that all the movable property that was inside the building, “including safe, computers, and documents,” is in the hands of the occupants and it is unknown what they have done with it.

Apparently the illegal residents of other apartments on the third floor broke through the dividing wall and occupied the area. Pastor Karell Lescaille, director of the Board, came to the site a day later and was unable to open the door of his office, which was obstructed from the inside. The neighbors refused to let the pastor pass on the grounds that they had occupied the apartment because it was being used by the Convention for “non-pertinent purposes.”

The occupants were warned that they should return the property and restore the wall after the Convention alerted the police and filed a complaint, but they refused to withdraw.

The Convention regrets that despite these measures and their having contacted the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs, they have not been able to recover the property. In their view, this is due to the lack of interest from the Cuban Government, which they believe intends to disrupt the task of the Mission Board and, at the same time, to control the building.

“Since the national mechanisms, far from giving any result only protect impunity, we call on all the national and international bodies that can to cooperate with us,” the Convention stated.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Customs Can’t Keep Up With Cuban Ingenuity

A Cuban customs official scans a traveler’s belongings. (Customs)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 7 December 2017 — Ernesto Machado will never forget a cold morning in 1968 at José Martí airport in Havana. A migration officer removed her parents’ gold wedding rings while annulling her passport. “This is the property of the revolutionary government,” the woman dressed as a soldier told her, before she left Cuba to never return.

On coming to power in 1959, Fidel Castro’s government imposed severe measures to prevent money and valuable goods from leaving the country. Almost sixty years later, although the international situation is different, the customs controls remain rigorous on this issue.

“I travel to Cuba every 15 days and I take medicines, food and money to any part of the island,” says a Cuban who resides in Miami, whom we will call Juan to protect his identity. continue reading

In reality, those who constantly travel to the Island are the people who work for Juan. His mission consists of “capturing” Cubans with a Spanish passport or resident in the US but who maintain their “rights in Cuba,” that is they hold the status of permanent residents on the Island. Juan pays the traveler $300 and the traveler gives over his right — as a resident of Cuba — to pay taxes in Cuban pesos on imports of up to 100 kilograms.

“Everyone wins with this business, the person, because he goes to Cuba to see his family members or, if he lives on the island, he gets a little trip, and the agency because that is our business, sending things and money to the island,” he explains

In the case of money, an agency like Juan’s can charge up to 6% commission on amounts over 20,000 US dollars. He says that he makes several shipments a month because “there are many people buying properties in Cuba.” Areas like Old Havana and Miramar are quoting very well, he says.

On revolico.com, the largest online sales platform on the island, houses sell for from 10,000 or 20,000 dollars in popular areas, and for up to $270,000 in the Havana neighborhoods of Miramar and Siboney or in the colonial city of Trinidad.

Cuban laws stipulate that you can freely import up to 5,000 US dollars per person and that for larger amounts you must fill out a declaration in Customs, without this necessarily requiring the payment of taxes. In most countries you can import up to 10,000 dollars without having to give a statement.

Juan does not care about the origin of the money he sends to Cuba nor does he follow the mechanisms to declare that cash in Miami or Havana. “Normally we send it with several people, we distribute the money to stay under the $5,000 barrier, and sometimes I send some trusted person to take in a little more, taking a risk, of course,” he says.

A report published in the official press reported that, so far this year, the General Customs of the Republic has registered 384 violations of the entry and exit of foreign exchange.

The newspaper recounts some of the cases, like a woman who hid 5,000 Swiss francs in condoms inserted in her vagina, or a man who had 32,550 euros tied to his body.

Cuban customs display of confiscated items. (Customs)

“Many are beginners in this business or try to do things without helping others, you have to live and let live,” says Juan, who according to his own testimony frequently bribes customs officials.

“I have been in business for a long time, my people are always known because we share codes. Usually when someone arrives at the airport, they offer to help you and if you accept it, things will always go well for you,” he says.

“In Cuba, there are businesses that need to take money out of the country. It’s a secret to no one that most of the products bought by the paladares [private restaurants] come from the black market. If the owners fall [in a police operation] they want to have a little piece of land on the other side, to keep something,” he explains.

According to official data, this year Customs has seized 165,816 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos), 61,660 CUP (Cuban pesos), 875 euros, 15,150 rubles, 73,822 dollars and 386 valuables (crucifixes, coins and silver bars), which travelers were trying to get out of the country.

The Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) allows each person to freely take up to 5,000 dollars out of the country. For higher amounts, an authorization from the President of the BCC is needed after verifying that the money has been lawfully earned on the island.

Buying foreign currencies inside Cuba before traveling abroad is a complicated task, although the law allows it. The banks require the customer to show a visa and an airline ticket linked to the country of the requested currency and, even so, only small amounts of foreign currency are sold.

You can always resort to the informal market but there the dollar is sold at a price that ranges between 92 and 97 cents in CUC, well above the official rate of 87 cents. On the other hand, it is strictly forbidden to remove from the country any amount of CUCs, the so-called convertible peso, which in fact has no value outside the island. The Cuban peso also has no value abroad, but it is possible to take out up to 2,000 CUP.

A few weeks ago, the American blogger Jaime Morrison, travel correspondent for BravoTV’s digital site, was arrested by the Cuban authorities, who confiscated the approximately 800 CUC he was carrying when he was about to leave the country.

“I broke this rule and I almost got sent to jail, do not let it happen to you,” the journalist said, telling the story about her experience in Havana. After a long interrogation she was able to leave the country, but without the chavitos.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

‘Sputnik’ and ‘Russia Today’ Invade the Cuban Media

The references to ‘Sputnik’ and ‘RT’ are increasingly frequent in Cuba’s official media, which cites them among their main sources.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 13 December 2017 — While the accusations grow against Russia for using social networks to manipulate the Catalan crisis, the American elections and Britain’s Brexit, the Kremlin-financed press gains space in Cuba. The references to Sputnik and Russia Today, which is now called RT, are increasingly frequent in the official media, which presents them among its main sources.

The Russian state news agency Sputnik and its international television channel RT are mentioned every day in newspapers, and TV news and radio programs on the island. The content taken from both media ranges from scientific announcements, to information about Russia to international issues.

Without substantiating the veracity of the information provided, the analysts of the official press assume the points of view, the opinions and the assertions of those media, with the same complicity with which they once promoted information from the Soviet newspaper Pravda and the official new agency TASS. continue reading

Questioning the legitimacy of the West, promoting skepticism of democracy, doubting the future of the European Union, disseminating conspiracy theories about the powers that move the world, and denying the decision-making capacity of citizens in liberal systems are some of the ideas most repeated in those state media.

In support of this scaffolding are added “testimonies” and opinions to reinforce the idea of ​​the superiority of authoritarian regimes in comparison with the chaos that seizes parliamentary debates when approving new security measures or passing laws, in societies governed by the separation of powers.

The current closeness with Russian media contrasts with the attitude of the Cuban government towards Novedades de Moscú (a weekly newspaper published in Spanish) and Sputnik magazine in the years of Perestroika and Glasnsot in the Soviet Union, when the circulation of those publications was censored in Cuba.

The cult of personality around Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro is also part of the recipe of this propaganda press, with more intentions to indoctrinate than to inform. Analysts warn that the average person does not know if what they see is propaganda or information, one of the keys to the success of these media, especially on social networks. In addition, RT and Sputnik also display a rampant absence of criticism towards any regime allied with the Kremlin or any enemy of the United States.

According to them, the launching of the missiles by the Kim Jong-un regime is the correct North Korean response to “the joint naval maneuvers of the United States, Japan and South Korea,” while the most recent Venezuelan elections represent the “greatest victory’ of Chavism and the “final defeat” of the opposition.

The information published by the official Cuban media on the Catalan crisis was mainly based on RT’s reporting. The support for the separatists reached its climax the days before the illegal referendum, which was presented as a democratic consultation in opposition to the position of the Spanish Government, which defended the constitutional legality but which was branded by the Russian media as “fascist” and an inheritor from the dictator Francisco Franco.

These official bodies of the Kremlin also have a political agenda when narrating the Cuban reality. Positive verbs such as “grow” and “develop” or nouns of a humanistic nature in the style of “solidarity,” “justice” and “collaboration” dot the information about Cuba, in which the supposed achievements of the Cuban health system, its sporting feats and official events are highlighted, while productive inefficiency, police repression or migratory exodus are silenced.

Both media fail to mention the political opposition within the country and, when they do, they repeat terms such as “internal enemies,” “counterrevolutionary” or “financed by the United States,” while presenting Raúl Castro’s government as having broad popular support and a proven diplomatic ascendancy in Latin America.

The worn-out formula of the small “revolutionary” David against the great “imperialist” Goliath fits within all of their content about the relations between Washington and Havana and the diplomatic thaw promoted by Barack Obama. Clearly, according to them, the economic problems faced by the island’s resident every day are the absolute fault of “the blockade.”

On 25 November, RT broadcast a program with the lead “One year after the death of Fidel Castro Cubans remain faithful to his legacy,” in which it delved into topics about the genius and charisma of the former president, in addition to interviews only with his eternally grateful supporters.

Last May, a few days after Donald Trump announced in a speech in Miami the change of course in the relationship between Washington and Havana, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez offered an interview to the Russian network, one of the only two media that commented on the subject. The other was the Chavista channel from Venezuela, TeleSUR.

Several ideas were emphasized in the material presented: the US president develops a policy “typical of the Cold War”; the White House mutilates “the civil rights” of its own people; and any criticism launched by the occupant of the White House towards the Plaza of the Revolution represents the sin of “a double standard.” Three points from the Kremlin’s information booklet on Cuba.

These biased positions have been widely disseminated on social networks thanks to the island’s cyber soldiers who militantly share the content of RT and Sputnik. Both media also work to indoctrinate the Cuban audience through the Cuban press, thus Moscow influences the way in which the reality of the outside world is perceived by Cubans.

Unlike many European countries where alarms have been sounded over the new media war that is being deployed by the ex-official of the KGB who is now president of Russia, Havana willingly lends itself to all the manipulations of Putin and offers him, in addition, a captive audience of 11 million Cubans.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Brazil’s Supreme Court Rules Mais Medicos Program is Legal

The Cuban Government obtains between 8,000 and 10,000 million dollars every year for the work of its professionals abroad. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 1 December 2017 — The Supreme Court of Brazil decided on Thursday, by a vote of six to two, that the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program, in which more than 8,000 Cuban doctors participate, is legal under Brazil’s Constitution.

The complaint against the program, started by ex-president Dilma Rousseff, was presented by the Brazilian Medical Association and the National Confederation of Regulated University Workers. Both institutions denounced the unequal treatment to access the program, since doctors in other countries are exempted from revalidating their degrees in Brazil, are hired through fellowships and, in the case of Cubans, most of their salary goes to the Cuban government.

Mais Médicos was created to increase the presence of doctors in the most disadvantaged areas of Brazil. According to official figures, 18,240 doctors currently participate, of which 47% are Cuban. continue reading

Marco Aurelio, one of those testifying in the case, told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, referring to the Cubans, that the lack of doctors in Brazil can not serve as a justification to avoid the commitment “to the fundamental rights of the human being.”

Some 200 professionals from Cuba are involved in lawsuits to be allowed to escape from the control of the Pan American Health Organization and to stop the Cuban government frm keeping two-thirds of their salaries. More than 2,000 doctors from the island have emigrated to the United States from Brazil and several hundred more have married Brazilian citizens since the program began in 2013.

Among Cuban doctors who await a favorable decision on their judicial processes to participate in the Mais Médicos program, the ruling has been seen as a defeat.

“Behind all efforts to prevent the Mais Médicos program from disappearing, we must always look to the Cuban Government. They will do everything possible to maintain that source of hard currency and deter doctors from escaping from the program,” says Ernesto, a clinician on the island who left the medical mission last year.

The export of medical services is Cuba’s main source of hard currency. According to official figures, the country receives between eight and ten billion dollars from this source. After Venezuela, Brazil has the second highest number of “Cuban health workers.”

The legal coordinator of the Federal Council of Medicine of Brazil, José Alejandro Bullón, told Folha de Sao Paulo that the hiring of foreign doctors without the proper revalidation of their diplomas violates national rules.

“We are creating two types of medicine: one for those who can pay for a doctor with a revalidated diploma and one for those who can not,” he said.

The Mais Médicos program allows doctors to work in the country for only three years. If the contract is extended for another three years, the doctor must revalidate his or her title.

The magistrates emphasized that some municipalities that did not have doctors managed to ensure minimum health care and, in the case of Cuban doctors, said that those who signed up for the program knew the conditions imposed by Cuba.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

‘The Infinite Banquet’ Reflects the Violence and Corruption of Power

The play ‘The Infinite Banquet’, written by the playwright Alberto Pedro Torriente, premiered last Thursday, November 30 at the Teatro de la Luna. Tablecloth text: “Working Breakfast” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 4 December 2017 — Neither metaphorical nor allusive, but simply ruthless, the staging of The Infinite Banquet highlights everything insane, corrupt and violent that political power can be.

The play, written in 1999 by the playwright Alberto Pedro Torriente, premiered last Thursday, November 30, at the Teatro de la Luna in the Adolfo Llauradó hall, under the direction of Raúl Martín Ríos.

Yasel Rivero plays the leading role of two confluent characters: The Hierarch and The Paradigm. The first, an overthrown tyrant drawn in a monologue that serves as an opening to the drama; the second, a charismatic leader with a new social justice project, surrounded by a court of women called Virilefirst, Virilesecond and Virilethird. continue reading

Rounding out the cast are Averrara and Perogrullo. She, the voluptuous sentimental and erotic partner of The Paradigm; he, the infallible personification of the court jester, the organic intellectual, the opportune singer-songwriter.

Throughout two hours, intrigues and betrayals are cooked in a broth of human imperfections where pride, lust, gluttony, anger and greed stand out. The sin that is lacking, laziness, is reserved for those who do not want to work, identified with ‘the people’, that apparently invisible character who occupies the seats of the theater and who, here, is called The Conglomerate.

Supposedly all conflicts are unleashed in a 24-hour period, which is the time it takes The Paradigm to consolidate his power and to produce “the unmasking” of a face that “until now had to hide for strategic reasons.” The other pending issue is to decide what to name the process he wants to present to The Conglomerate.

In the play ‘The Infinite Banquet’ show the intrigues and betrayals linked to the rise to power.  Tablecloth text: “Working Lunch” (14ymedio)

The process is presented as “unique, original and virgin.” In the middle of the debate, the question of whether it should be called democracy or dictatorship jumps out. Perogrullo says clearly: “Despite the loss of prestige of both words, for The Conglomerate everything that is not democracy is still dictatorship.” Finally, a survey is made among the people to name it and the result is surprising.

The actress Yaikenis Rojas gives life to Averrara, a kind of First Lady who constantly reminds the leader of his commitments to “those below.” On the table, even below her, the sensual woman seems to find no end to her appetites. “I feel like eating a steak the size of my own stubbornness,” she declares discontentedly while collecting the leftovers from the banquet.

At the other extreme the actor Freddy Maragoto shines with refined force playing Perogrullo. Corrupted intelligence at the service of power brings to the aspiring dictator a precision in words and the charm of poetry. He sings a hymn to the epic that is a popular guaracha. At times he seems obliged by circumstances, but finally, when he gets a special place at the banquet table, he shows himself as he is, opportunistic and cynical.

The overflowing fantasy of Alberto Pedro borders on a surrealist hallucination in Virilefirst, a sinister, sweet and enigmatic character played by actor Roberto Romero. His militarized geisha costume represents all the creases and transvestitisms of human behavior.

Among the elements of the stage set, particularly notable are the enormous stairs that serve as platform from which to distribute bread to the people, and the rustic throne, symbol of the ambition for power. “This chair is mine,” repeats the model paradigm becoming a greedy hierarch.

The audience has fun and laughs, but surely they also reflect, faced with a representation that looks too much like a reality they know perfectly well.

The play can be seen until Thursday, December 14, if nobody in the heights of power prevents it.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Desiderio Navarro Dies, the “Lone Ranger” of Cuban Semiotics

The Cuban intellectual Desiderio Navarro. (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 December 2017 — The essayist, literary critic, semiotician and translator, Desiderio Navarro, died Thursday in Havana, at 69 years of age as a result of cancer that, for the last year, had prevented him from appearing in public.

Navarro, born in Camagüey in 1948, was a renowned polyglot and poet, as well as a rigorous and coherent essayist. In Cuba, he excelled in the studies of semiotics, a discipline that he helped disseminate within the island and that served as a tool for much of his research.

Raised as a Catholic, in his first years in Camagüey he was considered an “uncomfortable” young person, as 14ymedio confirmed with his high school classmates. During that time, he participated in a dispute that turned into a fight in 1961. In that memorable event he allied himself on the side of the young Christians from private schools who led the student organization, against the self-styled “revolutionaries.” continue reading

Later he would settle in Havana and become a student of Marxism. His closest friends considered him more “Marxologist than Marxist” and he made a great contribution to the study of that ideology in Cuba by translating from Russian important theorists of Soviet Perestroika.

The researcher led a bitter controversy against the essayist and poet Guillermo Rodríguez Rivera, whom he accused of committing plagiarism, while the latter ended up denouncing him before the courts for the alleged crime of defamation. That confrontation is considered one of the most talked about disputes between Cuban intellectuals of the last decades.

Navarro founded and directed for 45 years the Criterios magazine and the eponymous theoretical-cultural center, which disseminated among the readers of the Island numerous theoretical texts, especially from Eastern Europe, due to his extensive knowledge of the languages ​​of that region.

The intellectual is also recognized for his meticulous analysis of the poetry of José Martí, Nicolás Guillén and Luis Rogelio Nogueras. Professor and critic Margarita Mateo says that he approached each analysis with “the rigor, dedication, intellectual honesty and ethical values” demanded by a researcher.

In 1986, he published an article in the Casa de las Américas journal that summarized a part of his semiotic work: “What I have written sometimes has the worn look of something already written by others, but also, much of what others have written bears my signature.”

At the beginning of 2007, the well-known Intellectual Debate or Little Email War broke out as a result of the appearance in the official media of several censors from the ‘Five Grey Years’Navarro actively participated in the organization of the discussion sessions that followed the email exchanges and prepared one of the most complete compilations of those texts.

Prominent among his books of essays are Culture And Marxism: Problems And ControversiesExercises Of OpinionThe Causes Of Things and Thinking About Everything: To Read In Context, as well as several theoretical and literary anthologies.

He won the Literary Criticism Award several times and the Ministry of Culture, along with the Cuban Book Institute recognized him with the National Editing Prize. At his death he was part of the National Council of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and recently the University of the Arts awarded him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa.

His wake will be held this Friday, between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm at the Funeral Home of Calzada and K, in El Vedado.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Human Rights That Are Missing In Cuba

The Ladies in White suffering repression during one of their protests. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 December 2017 – Until a few years ago the concept “human rights” was frowned upon by Cuba’s ruling party. The mere mention of these two words together automatically labeled a citizen as on the opposing side and there was no lack of acts of repudiation against dissidents in which slogans were shouted in the style of “Down with human rights!”

Over time, the island’s government understood that it was better — and less scandalous — to adopt not only the language alluding to this concept but also the commemorations around December 10, the day that celebrates the United Nation’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the last decade, the authorities have filled the official media and the squares of the country with slogans alluding to all the rights allegedly enjoyed by Cubans. In those avalanches of benefits the collective rights are always mentioned, while the individual ones are ignored. continue reading

On this day, the Plaza of the Revolution extols the right to education and public health, while avoiding reference to the rest of the conditions that must surround human existence such as freedom of expression or conscience, the possibility of choosing a religion without restrictions, or freedom of association.

While controlling activists and opponents so that they do not demonstrate on this day, the government of Raul Castro monopolizes the headlines of the national media with orchestrated demonstrations to show a strong adherence to its policy. Thus, they hijack the date.

However, the apparent dichotomy that places citizens in the dilemma of having to renounce a good part of their individual rights to enjoy the collective ones is a result of the blackmail to which the rulers subject the ruled for the purpose of perpetuating themselves in the power.

Nothing guarantees that the human being can enjoy adequate public health services, a quality education or a satisfactory and sustainable social security, if the authorities can not be questioned about the fulfillment of their obligations, and if each individual does not have the right to protest.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Online Payments Come to Cuba Two Decades Late

Online site of Bank of Credit and Commerce in Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camagüey, 8 December 2017 — The first online financial transactions have been delayed for two decades in Cuba. The new service, called Kiosco, allows the payment of electricity and telephone bills, in addition to the repayment of bank loans, but is not exempt from technological setbacks and has not yet managed to gain the trust of customers.

There was an empty chair in front of the Kiosco computer this Thursday at the Avellaneda Street branch of the Bank of Credit and Commerce (Bandec) in the city of Camagüey, where electronic payments can be made through a “self-service terminal.” continue reading

“So far no one has tried it and everyone is still standing in line for the tellers,” laments a worker, confirming that people who enter the bank prefer to interact with an employee, partly because they are not familiar with electronic transactions.

The Island’s poor internet penetration makes electronic payment a novelty. Among the 5.7 million savings accounts in the country as of the middle of last year, at least 50% have a magnetic card, but only a small share of account holders have had experience with electronic payments.

To use Kiosco you need to have a multi-bank card, which can be obtained at the same branch as your debit card. There is no bank in Cuba that issues credit cards for private customers.

“I do not want my money to evaporate because I do something wrong and send it to somewhere where is disappears,” says Monica Salgado, a retired teacher from Santa Clara, another province where Kiosco also operates. The woman receives her pension through a magnetic card that she refuses to use in the new service because she wouldn’t receive cash.

In the beginning, the service was offered exclusively to companies, but this year it began to offered to private users, although it cannot be used to buy products in the country’s stores, pay for an interprovincial bus ticket or book a room in a hotel.

The new service can also be accessed through an internet connection in the Wi-Fi zones that the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa) has installed across the island over the last two plus years, places where one hour of internet time costs one Cuban convertible peso, the daily salary of a professional.

However, as soon as you enter Kiosco’s digital site, the navigator gives you a warning: “This connection is not private, it is possible that some attackers may try to steal your information.” This message demonstrates that there is a problem with the certificate of authenticity, something common in national sites.

After entering the access data, the internet user accesses a private area where they can check the balance and transfer money to other accounts in the same bank. They can also download the Mobile Transfer application, designed for the Android operating system, which allows several operations through USSD codes.

“It’s not much yet, but soon we may be shopping at Amazon,” says Roberto Carlos, a 16-year-old who was with his mother at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana on Friday. The young man dreams that in the near term “we can buy applications in Apple stores and Google Play with this system.”

Electronic banking works through different payment channels, such as ATMs, POS terminals, the digital site of the application or mobile applications.

Beyond technology, Pinar del Rio economist Karina Gálvez, from the Center for Coexistence Studies, comments that “the environment and infrastructure” in Cuba which surrounds everything related to electronic commerce or virtual payments. “I think you have to give it time to see how it works,” she advises.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

In Camaguey Coppelia’s Neighbors Live with Ammonia Leaks

The factory was built before 1959 and its owner placed it on the outskirts of the city, but over the years the neighborhoods grew and surrounded the facility. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, 4 December 2017 — Five days after an ammonia leak that kept some people in the city of Camagüey in suspense, the neighbors of the Coppelia ice cream factory fear that the consequences of the spill will be more serious than what has been announced, and they are reproaching the authorities for not having given them a warming and evacuated the residents.

In the local media the leak was attributed to “a mistake by the shift operator in the engine room” and they timed the moment of the spill between 6:20 and 6:30 on Wednesday morning. At that time, most of the families residing in the Las Mercedes district were asleep or preparing to leave their houses.

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The strong smell of the chemical substance reached the Casino Campestre, about a mile from the place where the plant is located, according to witness statements collected by 14ymedio. “We began to fear that something had happened when we sensed an unpleasant and very strong smell,” says Dinora, a nurse and neighbor of the Coppelia plant.

Close to the historic center, the factory was built before 1959 and its owner located it on the outskirts of the city, but over the years the neighborhoods grew and surrounded the facility. Along one of its sides the railway line runs and the streets surrounding it are very busy.

Residents in the vicinity regret that on the day of the accident they did not evacuate the closest families, nor was there a broad dissemination of information about the incident to warn people of what had happened and avoid damaging their health.

Although firefighters and police arrived at the scene quickly, many thought it was a fire or other type of emergency inside the factory. Only when they sensed the strong smell did they realize that a chemical leak had happened.

“In high concentrations the gas irritates the throat, inflames the lungs, damages the respiratory tract and the eyes,” Dr. Alejandro Torres explained to this newspaper. “As the concentration increases, it can produce pulmonary edema.”

The doctor believes that the biggest risk in the escape of ammonia from Coppelia was to the “factory workers because they are exposed to higher concentrations of the chemical.” However, the authorities insist that the leak was insignificant and that there is no risk to the lives of the workers.

“It is not the first time that there has been an ammonia leak in the Coppelia factory,” Ivis Regueiro, a local resident told 14ymedio. “What did surprise me was the deployment of the police and firefighters, that had never happened before.”

Many families in the area have wells in the backyards of their homes, as a way to guarantee a water supply in a city that has been seriously affected by the problems created by the deteriorated hydraulic infrastructure and a long drought.

“No one has told us if we can continue taking water from our well or not,” laments a neighbor a few yards from where the leak occurred. “No one explains the harm to our health and if the spilled ammonia has contaminated the waters of the area,” she complains.”The news they have given us is that everything is controlled, but people do not believe it.”

Jesús Tejeda Jorge, production manager of the Dairy Products Company, assured the local press that the liquid ammonia used in the refrigeration process, once spilled, “instead of going to the atmosphere, is siphoned away through the drains.”

Tejeda acknowledged that the factory does not have every method of protection, despite having requested them from the Dairy Products Company. In the engine room where the ammonia leak occurred, “there is only one isothermal suit for the shift operator,” he explains.

The pipes with sewage from the factory are also joined to those that carry the sewage waters of the area and end up in the Hatibonico River, which is very polluted at present.

The environmental activist Inalkis Rodríguez has repeatedly denounced the government’s indolence in the face of the Hatibonico situation. In her Twitter account, three years ago she published an image accompanied by the following sentence: “All the rivers in the city of Camagüey are in these terrible states of contamination.” Since then the situation has worsened.

A study carried out by specialists of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Camagüey warned of the effects that wastewater discharges, without an effective treatment, were causing in the river. The Hatibonico is severely contaminated with organic matter, nutrients and heavy metals, the researchers say.

One of the academics who carried out the study spoke with this newspaper under anonymity to report that “contamination by ammonia will have a very negative impact on the Hatibonico River, […] which already had experienced deterioration in its basin, where part of the natural life has lost the battle against industries and sewage waters.”

“The accident was foreseeable because the factory is greatly deteriorated and workers must deal with many problems every day to keep the industry producing,” the engineer adds. “It’s a miracle that this does not happen more often and in more dangerous volumes.”

The academic points out that every day thousands of pollutant residues end up in the river and that the responsible industries do not apply the waste treatment protocols called for in the reports of the University of Camagüey.

Camagüeyans not only have a polluted river converted into a narrow greywater stream for decades, but they have also had to learn to cope with frequent industrial discharges. What happened in the Coppelia factory is nothing new for them, although they see the publication by the official press of a type of incident that normally does not appear in the media as unprecedented.

The Tínima Beer Factory, on the northern beltway of the city, is a frequent scene of this type of accident. The incidence is so high that the students of the nearby Máximo Gómez Báez High School Vocational Institute of Exact Sciences have an emergency protocol that they must practice several times a year, as 14ymedio confirmed with numerous students.

In the nearby city of Nuevitas, the Ammonia Receptor Base is located, the only one of its kind in Cuba, whose frequent breaks sometimes result in gas spills. The inhabitants of the surroundings are protected only with cloths over their nose and mouth, or take refuge in the homes of relatives.

In September of this year, another ammonia spill occurred when the driver of a tank car for the Trucks Union of Cuba in Guantanamo did not correctly calculate the height when entering the warehouse of a meat company and the discharge pipe was broken when it hit a roof beam. For about 15 minutes there was a leak of ammonia in the form of gas.

In 2008, about 50 people received medical attention for respiratory and skin disorders of a mild nature, and between 4,000 and 5,000 were evacuated after a leak of ammonia in a refrigerator in the free zone of Berroa, in the outskirts of Havana.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Government Focused Repression Against Independent Candidates

Aimara Peña, an activist from Sancti Spiritus who presented herself as an independent candidate for the elections. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 December 2017 — In November, the Cuban authorities carried out 302 temporary arbitrary detentions, a figure that according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) is the second lowest since the beginning of 2017. The organization attributes this decrease to the fact that, during the past municipal elections, the Government “displayed its entire repressive muscle” and so was able to make “the least possible number of arrests.”

The Commission notes in its monthly report that the actions of the police forces prevented the nomination of every independent candidate for the position of delegate in the elections through temporary detentions, house arrest, summons and threats. continue reading

Along with the number of arbitrary arrests of dissidents for political reasons, the CCDHRN also verified that in November there were 7 cases of physical aggression and another 25 cases of harassment against dissenters. “Actions carried out, in all cases, by the secret political police,” said the note.

In its report, the Commission pays special attention to the case of Daniel Llorente Miranda, the man who, during the last May Day parade, raised the American flag in the Plaza of the Revolution and who, after being detained by State Security, was interned in Havana’s Mazorra psychiatric hospital where he has apparently been the object of “psychiatric abuses.”

“Some detained opponents are sentenced to maximum security prison on charges that seek to cover up the obvious political motivations,” the report also warns.

The CCDHRN also notes that the Government continues to repress the movement of any citizen within the country and prevents the exit of civil society activists abroad, citing the cases of Human Rights defender Wendis Castillo and journalist Augusto César Manrique Martín.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) warned in a statement of the “broad scope” of the repressive strategy of the Cuban government, which according to the organization based in Madrid is able to monitor “the cracks of the incipient Cuban civil society and interfere in citizen privacy.”

In its monthly assessment, the organization claims that last November there were a total of 306 arbitrary arrests, and draws attention to the high number of arrests of women, which stood at 221 as opposed to 85 executed against men. Of the total arrests 11 of them were violent and in the case of another 35, the detentions lasted more than 24 hours.

The OCDH report denounces that there have been 4,665 arbitrary detentions in Cuba since the beginning of the year and that the Government persists in its “repressive dynamic” characterized by arbitrary detentions of short or long duration, the confiscation of personal property or means of work, the siege of activists in their own homes and the charging of government opponents with manufactured common criminal offenses, among other techniques.

According to the report, among the victims of these repressive practices exercised by the Government are the journalist Osmel Ramírez Álvarez, contributor to Diario de Cuba and Havana Times; the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara; the director of the Center for Local Development Studies, César Mendoza Regal; and Karina Gálvez, economist and member of the Coexistence Studies Center, whose sentence for tax evasion was ratified at the beginning of last month. Gálvez has also been prohibited from practicing her profession.

The violation of human rights not only persists on the island according to the OCDH, but the organization also warns that it is “gaining ground in Venezuela thanks to the apathy and lack of commitment of more than a few democrats and institutions,” in direct reference to the United Nations Human Rights Council, of which Cuba and Venezuela are members.
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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Life in Numbers

The tomatoes make the shape of a five and the tiny peppers used to season the beans come together to form a scandalous 16. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 7 December 2017 – She pauses to think in front of a stand at the market. My mother is not evaluating the size of the tomatoes or the quality of the garlic, but making calculations. A mathematical operation where subtraction and division are the stars. With a pension of 250 Cuban pesos a month (roughly $10 US), she can’t lose sight of a single centavo and is an expert in daily calculations.

For the majority of Cuban retirees, the cost of living, that concept that connects the value of goods and services to the material quality of one’s existence, is an equation that yields a higher figure every day. Those who come out worst with these price increases are those who do not receive help or remittances or – because of their health – cannot engage in any informal work, such as selling cigarettes at retail.

In stores and markets they are known by their gaze. They are those who pause, attentively observing the price lists, while only a few coins appear in their hands. They usually wear clothes more than two decades old, the same amount of time that has passed since the smile was erased from their faces and they wait for evening to fall so they can “catch” the products at reduced prices.

Throughout the day they calculate their accounts, living surrounded by digits and breathing sums. When they unpack the contents of their shopping bags, the 14 Cuban pesos for a pound of chili peppers appears between their eyes and the merchandise. Tomatoes make the shape of a five, and the littlest peppers used to season the beans come together to form a scandalous 16.

In just one visit to the market, retirees like my mother spend a seventh part of their pension. The numbers do not lie and they are there, on the table, to remind them.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Eduardo Cardet, a Year in Prison for "Political Reasons"

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 December 2017 — Dissident Eduardo Cardet received a visit from his wife Yaimaris Vecino on Monday, in the Holguin prison where has already served a year, after a trial that his family believes was manipulated by Cuban State Security.

Cardet, a doctor by profession and national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was sentenced on 20 March to three years in prison for a crime of assault on the authority, but he had been in prison since 30 November 2016 while awaiting trial.

After being violently arrested in front of his children at the entrance of his house in the town of Velasco in Holgin province, his appeal for bail was denied three times. continue reading

The opponent has suffered from a respiratory infection since his imprisonment, caused by his condition as a chronic asthmatic, and does not receive adequate medication despite the fact that prison officials assured his wife that treatment was guaranteed.

“My husband told me that this is not true because it is difficult for prisoners to access medications,” Vecino tells 14ymedio.

A neighbor says she saw her husband in a good mood, but uneasy about being away from home while his family has recently gone through difficult times. “He regrets not being able to help us and take care of us.”

“When I ask about his transfer [to another prison] they tell me that I will only know when it is carried out,” explains his wife.

Several international human rights organizations have denounced the Cardet case. At the end of last January, Amnesty International called for his “immediate and unconditional” release, saying that the national coordinator of the MLC was “imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”

It also considers him a prisoner of conscience and states that he was violently arrested a few days after the death of Fidel Castro.

Cardet was a key figure in the Varela Project, promoted by opposition leader Oswaldo Payá. After the death of Payá, Cardet continued his work and in 2014 he was appointed national coordinator of the MLC.

Last Thursday, the movement announced a manifesto signed by international personalities to ask the Government of Cuba for the freedom of prisoners of conscience and in particular that of Eduardo Cardet.

“His arrest a year ago was very wicked, because he was arrested and beaten in front of his children,” said the document, which also claims that it has been a long process “controlled at all times by State Security” and originated “for political reasons.”

The announcement criticizes that Cardet is being subjected to “a severe regime in open violation of the penitentiary laws themselves” in force on the island.

Among the signatories are a former mayor of Madrid, José María Álvarez del Manzano, the President of the Peace and Cooperation Foundation, Joaquín Antuña, and the former president of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón Crespo, among others.

The manifesto asks that the Spanish authorities, “in keeping with the principles of defense of human rights and democracy, do whatever steps are in your power for the quickest release of Eduardo Cardet and other prisoners of conscience in Cuba.” ___________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.