Despite the Arrests and Pressures from Cuba’s Political Police, Independent Artists Gather

Artists gathered at the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism to work on the agenda agreed with Vice Minister Fernando Rojas on November 27. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 3 December 2020 — Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was not the only one to be arrested this Wednesday. The harassment has continued in the last 24 hours against members of the San Isidro Movement and other independent artists.

Tania Bruguera was also arrested on Wednesday afternoon when she was on her way to the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism (Instar), which she directs, for a meeting with some of the 30 artists and intellectuals who participated in the meeting on November 27 at the Ministry of Culture, according to a source close to Bruguera.

“The group of 30 hasn’t rested, they’ve hardly slept, [meeting] in a democratic, respectful way, with open hearts,” said the artist in a direct transmission from Facebook, “so that progress can be made on the agenda items requested by the Ministry of Culture that we sent to him for the meeting that he asked us for this week.”

Bruguera claims that while they are meeting their side of the agreement, of the 30 artists who attended the meeting, there are six who have police surveillance at their homes and cannot attend the meetings and some members of the group were suffering harassment through pressure on their families. continue reading

She also said that they asked an “intermediary” to locate the Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, “to inform him of what is happening,” since one of the reasons for the meeting on November 27 was “to finish once and for all” with police the harassment.

In another video posted on her networks, Bruguera responded to State Security accusations that she is “working with the United States Department of State” and “following a manual” to provoke a popular revolt on the island: “Never in my life have I communicated with the United States Department of State, I do not need any government to tell me what I have to do for my country, I do not need to contact any country to order me to do anything. I am a Cuban who has a sufficient sense of decency and of her citizens’ rights to demand them from the entities that have to guarantee them.”

Speaking to 14ymedio, the artist explained that it was “Colonel Alberto and agent Mario, as they call themselves,” who went to see her Tuesday night at her home.

“The colonel was the one who spoke the whole time,” declared the artist, “to tell me that I was destabilizing the Government, that I was creating subversion, following someone’s orders, working with the people of the State Department of the United States Government and that I was doing all this because I had read a little book. I asked him the title but he didn’t tell me. ”

Among the threats the officers made against Bruguera was that “they would take the most severe measures” against her. “I replied that I was not going to accept the accusations he was making because not only were they a lie, but they also had legal implications related to Law 88, where the punishments are extremely severe. He insisted on telling me: ‘We are not going to allow you to destabilize the Government or create subversion.”

The officials reproached her that she was doing all this “to gain an endorsement,” “something I did not understand,” she declared. “I told him that he was completely wrong, that he did not understand what was happening and that we were where we were because the Ministry of Culture asked us for an agenda and that is what we were working on.”

In addition, the artist requested that they no longer visit her and that the next time they went, they would take her to jail: “They will not threaten me with these baseless accusations,” she declared.

For his part, the poet Amaury Pacheco also confirmed that he has surveillance on his home “from very early in the morning.” According to the complaint, other members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Michel Matos, Aminta de Cárdenas and Claudia Genlui, are in the same situation.

The music producer Michel Matos was also arrested this Tuesday afternoon, according to Iris Ruiz, a member of the MSI, on her Facebook profile. “Michel Matos has just been arrested at the corner of 27th and 8th in El Vedado. Patrol Car 436. Two policemen and a woman,” Ruiz posted.

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Otero Alcantara Detained Again in Havana While Giving an Interview to ’14ymedio’

The State Security agent who intervened in the arrests of the independent artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara standing next to the curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo. (Claudia Genlui)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 December 2020 —  The independent artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was detained this Wednesday when he left the house of the journalist Mónica Baró and while speaking by phone with 14ymedio. A police patrol took him to his mother’s house, where a State Security agent forbade him to go out and “told him to spend his birthday with his family,” said the spokesman for the San Isidro Movement, Michel Matos.

The activist and curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo broadcast live on her social networks the moment when Otero Alcántara was detained: “The truce is once again broken,” she commented.

While filming, Genlui Hidalgo approached the entrance to Baró’s house, which since the night before had a patrol at the front and where a State Security agent in pink pants and two uniformed women from the Ministry of the Interior remained. The young woman asked if she could access the house and the moment when she was also detained was recorded. continue reading

Shortly after the fact, the journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez, who was inside the house, denounced the arrests. “They have just taken Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Claudia Genlui Hidalgo, who was on her way to see him, from the ground floor of the house on 7th and 32nd,” he wrote on his Facebook profile.

“Luis Manuel slept here yesterday, since [the house at] Damas 955 was uninhabitable, and now he was going to meet his uncle. Just yesterday they had released him and the only thing he has done since then is sleep,” Álvarez said. “It seems that in his dreams he committed a new crime,” the journalist commented sarcastically, before adding: “Today is his birthday [33 years]. The unjustified harassment continues.”

Otero Alcantará was arrested while he was explaining to this newspaper his decision to end his hunger strike after ten days. “When I got to the hospital (Fajardo) I felt that they wanted to leave me there for a long time and I did not want to give them justifications for that; that was one of the reasons why I stopped the hunger strike. The other reason is because I felt that, yes, I was still going to die, and it didn’t make any sense, I had to be in the race, warming up and creating above all, generating those areas of disagreement that they have with me against the system.”

“In every step that the government took against us, I felt that we were winning,” he says. “I am tremendously enthusiastic, I am optimistic, I see the changes, it happened with Bienal 00, Decree 349. I think we are in a context where a civil society is developing that can generate important changes for Cubans.”

“When those people (State Security agents disguised as doctors) went into our house in San Isidro to get us out (which was one of the planned exits and I think it was indisputably the best for us and the most awkward for them) and they didn’t let me go back, I felt that they didn’t know what to do with me, they saw me as a stone that didn’t want to fit where they wanted it and that it was like a snowball that was growing.”

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Customers Protest the Seizure of Vendors’ Merchandise in Santiago de Cuba

Customers in Santiago de Cuba protest the seizure of products from private-sector vendors.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía, Santiago de Cuba, November 28, 2020 — Authorities were confronted with outrage, criticism and rage from residents of Santiago de Cuba’s Barrocones neighborhood on Friday after they confiscated a privately owned truck, alleging that vendors were using it to sell meats and vegetables for exorbitant prices.

“They were selling bananas for 20 pesos and avocado for 15. They also had lettuce and tomatoes, none of which are easy to come by these days,” said one outraged resident, who was no longer able to buy what he wanted on the corner of Carlos Dubois and Procesa streets, where the vehicle had been parked.

“The government only sells low-quality products, which are also expensive. And that’s when they have them, which nowadays is not very often,” claimed the customer after the vendors had been shut down. continue reading

Government inspectors and uniformed police officers had tried to convince the sellers to lower their prices. After failing to reach an agreement, however, authorities decided to seize the contents of the truck, which was being used to transport onions, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes, chiles and cabbage.

“Here in the city the only way you can buy food is through the merolicos [self-employed street vendors], so people became angry and surrounded the police who were preventing them from operating,” said the resident.

Food shortages as well as increased prices for the few items that are available have led to a growing sense of despair among local residents. The tension has been exacerbated by a new outbreak of Covid-19 in recent days that put the region one step away from new restrictions intended to control transmission of the virus.

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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.

Cuban Authorities Broke the Agreements with Artists, Denounces Tania Bruguera

Tania Bruguera, at the Instar headquarters, accompanied by other artists who were present at the meeting on November 27 with Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 30 November 2020 — Three of the five agreements reached on November 27 between independent artists and cultural authorities — beginning with the release of the young rapper Denis Solís, sentenced to eight months in jail for alleged contempt — did not last 24 hours, Tania Bruguera denounced in a press conference called this Sunday at the headquarters of the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism (Instar), which she directs.

Bruguera, who accompanied some thirty artists in a meeting of more than four hours with the Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas, harshly criticized National Television for focusing on discrediting the San Isidro Movement and Denis Solís with alleged links to “terrorist” and “counterrevolutionaries.” In that “special program” they interviewed Vice Minister Rojas, who acknowledged that “it is not usual for us to have to react to a request formulated in this way.”

“There are police in the homes of artists, journalists and art critics,” Tania Bruguera told 14ymedio. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was in a hospital against his will, after he asked to go home. In addition, Fernando Rojas gave a distorted image of what happened at the meeting. Conclusion: in less than 24 hours they broke the agreements.” continue reading

Bruguera denounced that Rojas promised them that the government would not “defame and criminalize” the artists, and yet they were branded “mercenaries” in the media. Regarding the case of Denis Solís, the artist said that in the meeting with the vice minister “he was not asked to explain the legal processes of the country,” in reference to the long part of the official program dedicated to “due process,” “but to use his influence and power to intervene in [Solís’s] liberation.”

The artists present at the press conference called for an end to the repression and discrediting of the San Isidro Movement and demanded freedom of expression and association not only for themselves but for all citizens.

The filmmaker Gretel Medina told this newspaper that the demands they expressed “were not met” at the meeting but what happened “was unprecedented” and she considers that the first achievement of that day “was the union.”

“All of us who were before these officials agree, in one way or another, on the need to respect the right for every citizen, whether they belong to the creative community or not, to say what they think without fear of being repressed by State Security,” declared the visual artist Julio Llopiz-Casal.

Bruguera stressed that to decide the next steps, everyone’s opinions must be taken into account, because it is a heterogeneous group that is not only made up of the 30 participants in the meeting with the vice minister, but also others such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Anamely Ramos, who could not be there: Alcántara because he is hospitalized against his will and Ramos because of a police operation that prevents her from leaving her house.

Rapper Maykel Castillo ’Osorbo’, also under police surveillance, remains on a hunger strike and is in a “very delicate condition,” according to a statement from the San Isidro Movement on Sunday.

In the document, they note that on Saturday Iris Ruiz, Katherine Bisquet, Claudia Genlui, Michel Matos, Yasser Castellanos and Amaury Pacheco were detained for a few hours, when they left a visit to Maykel Castillo, and they ask that the “authoritarian opportunism be stopped in the context of the pandemic to avoid possible contagion as an excuse to isolate the members of this organization.”

In addition, they list other specific requests, among them, that “the Catholic Church” can visit Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara at the Fajardo hospital to “provide him with emotional support” and that “medical personnel proposed by the San Isidro Movement can verify the state of Maykel Castillo’s health.”

The group asserts that they distance themselves from “any violent act that is occurring or may be generated,” and urge the international community to continue “vigilant over the physical integrity of all members of this organization, other artists and activists determined to vindicate our rights to live in a country of freedoms.”

More than 70 students, graduates and former professors of the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) delivered a letter to the dean’s office on Saturday in support of Anamely Ramos, who expressed thanks on her social networks for the gesture. “The courage of my students in a moment as hard as this is something that I am still processing,” she expressed on her Facebook wall.

Meanwhile, the collective continues to receive more support from the art world. Figures such as Haydée Milanés, Carlos Varela, Leoni Torres, Yuliet Cruz, Fernando Pérez, Jorge Perugorría have been joined by the musician Cimafunk, who said, in a post on his Facebook wall, he was “proud” of his colleagues “because they are using their voices, their words and their peaceful behavior to share with us their realities and their vision of prosperity, well-being, freedom and peace.”

The recognized Afro-Cuban artist explains that he is not in Cuba at the moment “for family and professional reasons,” but he feels represented by the artists who demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Culture on Friday, “and those who were not there for various reasons, but who have shown us support from wherever they are.”

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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.

Cuban Internet Users Denounce ‘Intermittent Blocking’ of Social Networks

As of last Saturday, the incidents of “intermittent blocking” of the social networks in Cuba have been counted in the hundreds. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 November 2020 — “Facebook isn’t working,” “Twitter can’t be opened,” and “WhatsApp messages aren’t going out,” Cuban Internet users denounced over the weekend. Since last Saturday the reports of “intermittent blocking” of social networks have been counted in the hundreds, in addition to interruptions of mobile data services as well as the State communications company’s home internet service, Nauta Hogar.

“I can only get into Instagram and Signal, to go to the other networks I have to activate the VPN [Virtual Private Network],” Havana resident Igor Medina, 23, told 14ymedio.

“Starting at noon everything got slow, but in the afternoon the blockade came, it was intermittent, sometimes everything worked and sometimes nothing. WhatsApp was impossible, it connected and disconnected, the same with Telegram, Facebook and Twitter,” he added. continue reading

Several users interviewed by this newspaper explained that only by activating a VPN could they access instant messaging services and social networks that are regularly available on the Island.

The strategy of canceling the internet connection from mobile phones or blocking access to online services has been frequently used by the Cuban authorities since internet service on mobile phones was first made available in December 2018.

In these last two years, digital spaces have become a public square for debate and civic convocation, as well as serving as a platform for feminist movements, animal protection, artistic creation and independent journalism, among others. A ferment of proposals and opinions that the ruling party does not seem willing to tolerate.

Several experts consulted by this newspaper point out that the blockades in recent days point to the implementation of a firewall similar to the one implemented by the Chinese authorities. With this, the government can filter content, monitor content sharing, and also create an “internet blackout” whenever it sees fit.

The antecedents in recent weeks have been the censorship against the instant messaging application Telegram and also the blocking of several very popular VPNs on the Island. Now, the fear is that these cuts will extend to other tools widely used to circumvent censorship against digital sites.

The blockade of these tools began a few hours after the protest of more than 300 artists in front of the Ministry of Culture (MINCULT) last Friday, in response to the repression that the Government unleashed the day before against the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, in Old Havana.

“Since yesterday the WhatsApp application in Cuba has been working intermittently. What could be happening?” Rosalía Viñas, a resident of Pinar del Río and a member of the editorial team of the magazine Convaciónasked in a tweet.

Viñas pointed out that outside of Cuba the above mentioned networks were functioning without any problem, “a fact that I verified with different friends who live abroad,” she said.

“After the peaceful demonstration in front of MINCULT, which had good coverage on the networks and kept many Cubans informed of what was happening there, it made the government very nervous, to the point that once again it violated freedom of expression, and the rights of online users by unjustifiably blocking services,” she added.

For this weekend other calls had also been launched to demonstrate in the streets, one in front of the Ministry of Internal Commerce, in Old Havana. The call sought the closure of stores that since last summer sell food and hygiene products which buyers can purchase only with foreign currency.

The initiatives also included a demonstration in front of the United States Embassy, in El Vedado, with the aim of protesting against the repression unleashed by the Government.

In the Parque de la Libertad in Matanzas several young people decided to sit down on Saturday night in a peaceful way to show solidarity with the San Isidro Movement but some were detained by the authorities. Similarly, a demonstration was called in Santa Clara for this Monday afternoon “for a Cuba of free thought.”

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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.

A Not So "Spontaneous" Gathering in Havana’s Trillo Park

The event “Tángana en el Trillo. Youth for Socialist Democracy,” was a demonstration in response to recent criticisms from the Cuban artistic community. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 30 November 2020 — To the rhythm of pro-government slogans, with great coverage by the official press and the presence of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the event “Tángana en el Trillo. Young people for socialist democracy,” was held this Sunday in Havana, a demonstration in response to recent criticisms from the Cuban artistic community.

Despite the fact that the initial convocation remarked that the participants in Tángana had planned the meeting “spontaneously,” the outskirts of Trillo park were guarded by a strong State Security operation, in addition to buses and state cars that transported many of the attendees.

Among the several hundred people who participated in the event in Centro Habana, there were also some workers in their uniforms of state entities, such as the employees of the Construction Company of Architecture Works (Ecoa), frequently used by the Government for this type of public events. continue reading

The Sunday afternoon had moments with live music, others in which the reading of poetry and the fiery speeches of young communists prevailed. Among the slogans most repeated by the crowd were official slogans such as “Long live Fidel,” “Long live the Revolution” and “Continuity, continuity.”

The gathering was not lacking the support of Miguel Díaz-Canel, who appeared in the middle of the event and gave a speech. “They have put on a media show for us,” said the president without mentioning names, but in clear allusion to the artists who met last Friday in front of the Ministry of Culture and the members of the San Isidro Movement.

Díaz-Canel considered the actions of independent activists and artists as part of “an unconventional war strategy to try to overthrow the Revolution”, originating from “the Trumpistas and the anti-Cuban mafia” in the United States. He also affirmed that in Cuba “there is space for dialogue for everything that is Revolution.”

Díaz-Canel’s statements come two days after some thirty artists, representing several hundred who stood in front of the Ministry of Culture, agreed with sector officials on a list of demands aimed at ending the repression against the creators and the beginning of a dialogue between both parties.

Despite the fact that the initial call for the gathering claimed that the participants in Tángana had planned the meeting “spontaneously,” the area around the park was full of state buses that brought hundreds of people. (14ymedio)

“We are here to democratize socialism,” a young man from the Higher Institute of International Relations who participated in the event told 14ymedio. The young man listed the steps for this process as “eliminating racism and social classes.”

“They say they are the majority but there are not so many people,” a neighbor from a concrete block with balconies facing Trillo Park told this newspaper. “Here whenever they put out a truck to sell beer or rum, more people gather,” says the woman who preferred anonymity. “I’ve seen a lot of those who got away as soon as they had a chance.”

Among those who only stayed for a few minutes was a group of employees from the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) who at the beginning of the music walked along Hospital Street towards Zanja Avenue, until they left behind the sound of the slogans, and the applause.

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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.

A Collapse in a Quarantine Zone in Havana Leaves Several Families Living in the Ruins

The residents of 355 Teniente Rey Street, between Aguacate and Villegas, Old Havana, still do not believe that part of the building collapsed. (14ymedio)

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14ymedio, Serafín Martínez, Havana, 17 November 2020 — A week after having lived their worst nightmare, the residents of 355 Teniente Rey Street, between Aguacate and Villegas, in Old Havana, still do not believe that part of the three-story building where they have lived crowded together for years collapsed, an incident that it has left them living amid dangerous ruins and without institutional aid.

The victims remember the noise they sensed at two in the morning on Monday, November 9, when an area of the third floor roof where the water tanks were placed collapsed and fell on the building’s shared collective bathrooms. The partial collapse did not result in human casualties, but did cause significant material damage.

The hydro-sanitary facilities of the building were completely destroyed and the turbine and the cistern were also buried under the rubble. This system had supplied water to each of the small units inside a building that had been suffering from serious structural problems and advanced deterioration for years. continue reading

Neglys López Guerrero, age 29, who is 28 weeks pregnant and has two children ages 11 and 4, details to 14ymedio that on the day of the accident they immediately called the police and firefighters who “came without delay, but since no one was hurt they left without doing anything.”

“The officials of the Housing Institute told us that the building will be propped up and the third floor will be demolished, if the architects approves it; so that later we residents of the other floors can fix our apartments with our own means,” adds López Guerrero, who it does not have the financial resources to undertake the repairs.

However, she is relieved to have been able to stay building despite the danger. “We cannot go to shelters because our belongings, which we obtained with so much sacrifice, would stay here and be lost,” she says, a common position among the victims of building collapses who reject collective shelters.

“They took us out for two nights to sleep in the kindergarten and in the House of Combatants, but then they informed us that no one else would be coming and that we stayed here at our own risk. When they told me that what mattered was to preserve lives, I asked them that if lives only mattered at night.”

“What we aspire to is a place to save our lives that are in imminent danger, as well as to protect our property. If the building is not whole, as everything seems to indicate, then let them assign us housing to pay for and live with dignity,” says the young woman.

Another neighbor, Mercedes Castillo, 58, shares López Guerrero’s demands. “We were a total of 14 people, including four minors.” The two families living on the third floor were transferred to a shelter and the authorities “promised to prop up the building so that we could start fixing the apartments on our own, but the promise has not yet begun to be fulfilled.”

“The collapse even affected the school next door and the next door neighbors, but no one has come here, not even to collect the rubble. We have not had water since then and last night they sent us a water-truck. We are desperate. We cannot live like this in fear of our lives,” explains Castillo.

For her part, Mireya Guerrero, 50, noted that the “building has never been repaired. For many years it has been declared threatened with collapse and the Historian’s Office did not make any arrangements, not even propping it up. Despite the fact that it was reported as a critical housing situation at all levels including proposals in the meetings of the electoral district of the People’s Power.”

“On the ground floor there was a state carpentry workshop, which they closed due to complaints from neighbors, because the vibrations made the walls move. This misfortune happened with these blocks in [Covid-19] quarantine. We are like prisoners inside the building and with the jail about to collapse,” she says. “The food they brought us has been very bad, we can’t take it anymore.”

As of December 2018, Cuba had a housing deficit of almost one million residential units, which was also the last time the official press published numbers about the problem; the data have not been updated since. The experts believe that these numbers have been surpassed by the reality of a housing stock that is deteriorating day after day.

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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.

Eight Mothers Without a Roof and Their Eleven Children Occupy a State Workshop in Havana

Of the 10 women who broke into the workshop, two were relocated by the authorities to state premises set up as halfway houses. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Serafín Martínez, Havana, 21 November 2020 — “The nights are cold and damp, there are mosquitos, rats and cockroaches.” It would seem that this mother who did not want to give her name was talking about a jail cell, but no: she was referring to an abandoned workshop belonging to the Office of the Havana Historian that she and nine other single mothers occupied last Friday, November 13, because they have no place to live.

“We have only one bathroom and there is so much dust that even the mobile phones are failing,” complains the lady, who, nevertheless, adds: “We are going to stay here until we all solve our housing problems.”

Of the 10 women who broke into the place, two were relocated by the authorities to state premises set up as halfway houses, one in an unoccupied school in Centro Habana and the other in an old warehouse in the Luyanó neighborhood, but eight remain, one of them four months pregnant, along with 11 minor children. continue reading

The humidity and poor condition of the property, located at 417 Villegas street, are taking their toll. Just a few days ago, for example, one of the babies, Aniel Pérez Fraga, five months old, had to be admitted to the hospital with breathing problems, says his grandmother, Iris Pinto, age 50.

The women regret that they have only one bathroom and that there is so much dust “that even the mobile phones are failing.” (14ymedio)

She ended up here, like most of these women, fleeing the danger of a collapse, something that occurs increasingly frequently in the Cuban capital. “How long am I going to have my grandchildren in neighbors’ houses?” she laments.

From the same building at risk of collapse, at 426 Villegas Street, Yandira Rodríguez, 33, also left. With two children, a five-month-old and a four-year-old, and raising a 12-year-old niece, she argues: “I don’t want to die by being crushed like has already happened here. The Housing Department officials always say they are going to respond and they do nothing. What we need are solutions, not millstones.”

Igraine Pérez, 30, the mother of an 11-year-old girl, was also in a falling-down house: “I came here because my tenement is collapsing and my family is very big. We were seven people in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot room.”

“My daughter is asthmatic and we are both have allergies. There was a lot of humidity there,” she tells 14ymedio. “We are desperate mothers who are not here because we want to be, but because we need houses and we demand the rights that the president declared for single mothers with children.”

All these women carry a heavy story on their shoulders. “I lived in the house with my my mother-in-law, but when I separated from her son, I had no option to live there and my mother would not let me enter the house where I was born,” says 22-year-old Melani Balmaseda.

Despite the fact that the workshop does not have the conditions of a home, Balmaseda feels relieved. “In this place we get along well, we are like a big family, but there are two with nervous disorders and they get upset at night, so it is difficult to sleep.”

In some remote way, she feels that an old dream can be fulfilled: “The only thing I want in this life is to have a house, since I was 13 years old it has been my only purpose.”.

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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.

Facing the Lack of Housing in Cuba, Families Occupy Empty Bodegas

Liliana Torres Ramos with her children in the building they have occupied since June. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Serafín Martínez, Havana, 27 November 2020 — Almost five months ago, Liliana Torres Ramos, occupied an empty bodega (ration store) in the Havana neighborhood of Santos Suárez with her children, a seven-year-old boy and a 16-year-old daughter, nine months pregnant. The family is now at risk of living on the street due to their imminent eviction from the property, as notified by the Mayor of the municipality of Diez de Octubre, who summoned Torres this week.

Torres, 34, tells 14ymedio that she lived in an apartment located at 162 San Julio, between Enamorados and Santos Suárez, along with six other people. The room had been declared uninhabitable and irreparable and her mother had had an eviction order to go to a shelter since 1992.

“We left desperate,” she says. In the building where she now lives, owned by the Havana Commerce Company, a family with four children had previously resided and had also been evicted by the authorities. “On 20 June of this year, I broke the bodega door, which had been closed for a year and a half, and I got in with my two children.” At night a beggar, whom Torres threw out, slept in the place. continue reading

“Shortly after occupying the bodega, Miguel Ángel, the director of the Diez de Octubre Commerce Company, arrived in a very bad humor and threatened to call the police to evict me and put me in jail. He told me that he didn’t care what [President] Díaz-Canel might have said about providing the population with closed state premises.”

The pressure continued up to this week when she received the summons from the Mayor. “He told me that he would give me 24 hours to leave the premises, that there were thousands of cases worse than mine and that he was speaking to me for my own good, to see if I understood.”

“I live with great fear that they will come to evict me, to throw me into the street with the few things that I have in life. I need help, my daughter is going to give birth and we have nowhere to live. The roof is collapsing in this place and there is a lot of humidity. Look, come in and see the pieces of the roof that have fallen in. You can’t live like that,” she says.

A Santos Suárez neighbor who preferred to remain anonymous insists that Torres is a good person who is suffering many difficulties. “We, the neighbors, help her as much as we can. She already got a contract with the OBE (Electric Company Office) to have electricity, we put the water in and we got her a water tank,” she says.

Although not all residents in the surrounding area have the same opinion. “Some have complained because now they have to run their errands at another ration store further away and they say what needs to be done is to repair this one, that this is not a place to live,” she adds.

The Diez de Octubre Commerce Company refused to make statements about this matter to 14ymedio, although a worker, anonymously, said that there is a list of the company’s own employees waiting for empty premises owned by the company to be offered to them as homes.

The housing situation is critical throughout Cuba and particularly in Havana where there are serious infrastructure problems and overcrowding. Many of the properties in various municipalities in the capital date from the early 1900s and have not received repairs for more than fifty years, not even paint on their facades.

Reinaldo García Zapata, Havana’s governor, announced to the local press on 22 November that the capital city has completed a housing construction plan for the present year, to build more than 7,000 units.

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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.

When Electric Motorcycles Don’t Catch Fire, They’re Stolen

Of the stolen ‘motorinas’, five complete and four disassembled have been recovered so far. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 November 2020 — At least nine electric motorcycles were stolen in several municipalities of Havana by three citizens, according to a report by Cuban Television. The individuals carried out their misdeeds mainly in the early hours of the morning and entered the houses even with the owners inside.

State television reports that the thieves broke the locks of the homes’ garages to take the machines popularly known as motorinas, which were later marketed through social networks.

With the transportation crisis, electric motorcycles have become increasingly popular in Cuba, constantly making headlines due to the multiple fires that plague them throughout the country. continue reading

Given the increase in this means of transport, the authorities also informed state television that their robberies have increased. One of the elements that is repeated in crimes is the participation of two or more people.

Reportedly, the theft of electric motorcycles on the streets happen when their owners leave them unlocked. The vehicles are taken to other provinces and sold with photocopies of the ownership documents.

Dayron Toledo Lores, one of the victims, who lives in Havana’s El Cerro neighborhood, said that his motorcycle was inside a gated garage, protected with a chain, and one of the tires secured with a padlock, and all that security was overcome by the burglars.

The police were able to fully recover five of the vehicles, but four were found in pieces during an operation that was carried out at the home of the main defendant, who continues to be detained along with the other defendants.

An agent from the Investigative Technical Department of the Interior Ministry said in the press report that the three implicated confessed to the facts and are being processed for the “alleged crime of ongoing robbery with force.” He also said that the investigation is continuing because the criminal chain could expand and they might find similar occurrences.

In October of last year the Facebook group Electric Moto Cuba reported that one of its members was assaulted by two youths who sprayed something in her eyes and took her motorina. “She stopped because supposedly other people needed help and it was all a sham to assault her with blows,” the report detailed.

As of June 2019, it was reported in the official press that there were an estimated 210,000 mopeds in Cuba. Between the time that the stores that accept only convertible currency opened in 2019 and this October, the State  sold 10,000 electric units, of different 21 models, including motorcycles, bicycles, motorbikes and motorized tricycles.

The report of fires affecting this means of transport has skyrocketed. According to a report by the Ministry of the Interior, in 2019 there were 208 fires involving electric motorcycles with lithium batteries, 164 of them serious and 44 minor. Most of these accidents occurred in homes or garages and also caused serious damage to nearby vehicles or buildings.

This year, at least 186 fires have occurred in homes, causing the death of one person and injuring more than ten.

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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.

And the Spark Ignited…

Artists gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana demanding that the Cuban government open a dialog. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 28 November 2020 – Sometimes in the dark, or with only the beams of mobile phones lighting their faces, hundreds of artists have planted themselves in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana, until the early morning hours this Saturday. The peaceful protest marks a necessary precedent with unpredictable consequences in a Cuba where many are used to the fact that “nothing happens” and “everything is controlled from above,” or “a leaf does not move without the Government ordering it.”

The arrest of the rebellious rapper Denís Solís, the hunger strike of several activists of the San Isidro Movement and the violent entry into the headquarters of this independent group, last Thursday night, were the triggers for this concentration of filmmakers, visual artists, musicians and all kinds of creators in front of the mansion on Calle 2 in El Vedado, but the ferment of that demonstration had been accumulating for decades.

What happened is the result of more than half a century of trying to subordinate art to ideology without accepting nuances; years of parametración (parameterization), censorship, purges, the Five Grey Years, perks in exchange for silence, forced exile of so many creators, scissors pruning names in publishing houses, stages and galleries. This 27th of November 2020, all that accumulated magma — which at various times has caused the occasional small eruption or spark — overflowed in a public act, with a large presence and in front of one of the most feared of Cuban institutions. continue reading

Unlike 2007, when the cultural authorities and the guardians of the intelligentsia managed to channel the “Little War of emails” to a meeting — with a limited number of participants — at the Casa de las Américas, this Friday the protesting artists had the good sense not to be divided and not to accept the official proposal that only 40 of them might enter the Llauradó room, clearly a classic in the KGB and Stasi manuals.

Instead, in front of the high gate of the ministry, a democratic, plural and diverse government was created in a moment that allowed each union to elect its representatives, thirty people in whom to entrust their demands to be expressed in front of Vice Minister Fernando Rojas, because – of course – the minister himself never appeared, something inexplicable on an island where from any point of the geography you can reach Havana in less than 12 hours if you travel by car and in less than three if you go by plane.

The sequence of what happened on Friday was almost cinematic: it began with the arrival of the first people in front of the ministry around eleven o’clock in the morning, almost “four cats*” – as the official propaganda likes to repeat so often to insult their critics. Then came the hackneyed justification from an employee that the head of the sector, Alpidio Alonso, was not available to see them and that functioned like fuel thrown onto the fire. And then it continued with more and more artists coming to the site to demand a dialogue with the cultural authorities.

The scene was completed with an extensive police operation in the vicinity, the prohibition of passage face by several artists and activists who tried to approach, as well as an unjustified violent incident against a group that was on their way over and was tear gassed by a body of uniformed men who, surely, were not acting on their own but were responding to orders issued from some air-conditioned office.

By the early morning and after the meeting with Rojas, the representatives came out to recount the agreements reached. Results that raised applause but have also generated criticism, a necessary and expected diatribe if it is about planting the seed of a plural and democratic country. While some believe that they grabbed from the powers-that-be the conquest of reviewing their repressive procedures and allowing great freedoms in the art scene, others warmed that if could be a maneuver of distraction.

Everything is possible, because something like this has never happened in this way, in these dimensions and much less in a context similar to this. With a country plunged into the deepest economic crisis ever experienced by many of the young people who met yesterday before the Ministry of Culture; with the historic generation – which has had the island in its fist for more than 60 years – dying without glory nor legacy; and with a society tired of the shortages and dreaming of suitcases, flights and emigration… no one can predict if yesterday’s agreements are “a lot” or “a little.”

What will happen going forward? Some who have experienced previous disappointments predict that the Ministry of Culture will not comply with the agreement, the official propaganda will intensify its attacks against the San Isidro Movement and will raise a wave of supposed demonstrations in favor of the regime throughout the island. Those who previously experienced the seesaw of illusion and frustration with events of this type, predict calls from State Security to each of the most visible heads of the protest.

Separately, in an interrogation office in Villa Marista – the grim prison in Havana where State Security confines its political prisoners – with a mixture of threats and promises, they will most likely be able to make someone retract or at least walk away from any similar action that occurs in the future. The media controlled by the Communist Party will publish statements by artists faithful to the Party who tell of the “enormous support and freedom” that the Ministry of Culture offers them for their creation and some part of those who expressed the demands will go to another country to do a doctorate, create a family and forget the island they left behind.

All this can happen and much more, but it is better to opt for the film in which the events on Second Street give way to new situations, regenerating hope and constituting the embryo of the change that so many of us wish for our country. A change that is promoted not from violence but from the peaceful demands of people who create, love and dialogue. I choose that script, because the other I have already seen in an endless movie my whole life.

*Translator’s note: An insult, as in the phrase “four paid cats [implying paid by foreign governments, mafiosos, enemies, etc.] are not going to bring down the government.”

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Carlos Varela: “Cutting the Wings of Freedom of Expression Cannot Continue”

For Varela it is time to sit down and talk, because “the people of San Isidro are also part of this country.” (Facebook / Olivia Prendes D Espaux)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 26 November 2020 — One week after the start of the hunger strike at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement to demand freedom for Denis Solís, sentenced to eight months in a summary trial for an alleged crime of contempt, signs of solidarity continue to arrive via the activists of many influential voices in the art world.

One of the most recent voices to join has been that of singer-songwriter Carlos Varela, who in a post published on his Facebook wall expressed his concern about the hunger strikes that several of the activists are continuing: “If I don’t write these words, I would be denying myself and my story. ”

“I don’t know any of the San Isidro kids personally, but that’s not what matters today. Any human being who is willing to die for a cause, whatever it may be, deserves to be listened to with respect. I am human, so don’t ask me to look the other way. I will not be complicit in the silence of the choir,” he wrote. continue reading

He said that several decades ago, “when those kids from San Isidro were only children or had not been born,” he went through something similar. “They wanted to turn me off too, erase me, marginalize me, censor me and, like a large part of my generation who could not bear the pressure, invite me to leave Cuba.”

For the musician, a member of the so-called Cuban Nueva Trova it is time to sit down and talk, because “people from San Isidro are also part of this country,” while denouncing the acts of repudiation as “infamous gestures” that are “a national shame.”

“When will William Tell’s grandchildren be heard? ” he wondered, paraphrasing his most popular song.

“A good part of my songs were born, surrounded by threats and conjectures, in the warmth of censorship and the silence of others. When will William Tell’s grandchildren be heard?” he asked himself, paraphrasing his most popular song, written at the end of the eighties and dedicated to the generation that fled the island en masse during that decade.

Another of the voices that publicly joined in to support the San Isidro Movement was that of singer Leoni Torres, who published on his social networks the need to express his feelings “about what is happening with the MSI youth group.”

“It pains me to think that after so many years we are still unable to dialogue and that hatred continues to prevail. Cuba belongs to everyone. Ideas do not have to be identical; we do not have to think the same. It is everyone’s right to be able to express themselves freely without being punished,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the group, located on Damas Street in Old Havana, there is no news at this time on the health of the strikers.

Carlos Manuel Álvarez, director of the magazine El Estornudo, (The Sneeze) who, after returning to Cuba from New York this Wednesday joined the 13 activists who have remained inside the building since last November 16th, denounced Thursday a possible Government maneuver to get him out of San Isidro.

Carlos Manuel Álvarez, director of the magazine El Estornudo denounced Thursday a possible Government maneuver to get him out of San Isidro.

According to a live broadcast, on Wednesday night, Health authorities called his friend Mónica Baró, whose address he had given to authorities at José Martí Airport upon arrival in Cuba, to tell her that the PCR COVID-19 rapid test they performed when he entered the country, compulsory for all international travelers, “had showed altered results.”

Perhaps they could not communicate directly with him, he recalled, because his telephone number, which he provided to officials on the immigration health form, was being blocked.

Baró was warned that Álvarez should go to a health center in Miramar before midnight this Wednesday to repeat the exam because, otherwise, they would go look for him at San Isidro. “I did not do what was requested, so it is likely that this second option will happen at some point,” said the journalist.

“It seems to me that behind a medical excuse there is political manipulation to get me out of here,” he argued, in addition to insisting that before traveling to Cuba his PCR test was negative, so “there is less risk of me spreading the virus than the tourists who traveled on the flight.”

“I’m not going to get out of here or give in to such crudely orchestrated pressures,” he said. “I am willing to do a PCR again but under certain conditions because the bond of trust with the Cuban state has been completely broken.” And he explained that he cannot trust a political power whose propaganda apparatus tells “lies and defamations,” such as he has had “contact with international terrorists from Miami,” that “he is a “CIA agent” or that he is “violating the isolation that is imposed on residents or tourists who arrive in Cuba from abroad.”

Thus, the conditions that Álvarez is demanding to take another PCR test is that health personnel go directly to Damas Street #955, specifically accompanied “by my mother or my father because they are both doctors and they know exactly what the procedure is.”

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.

About 150 Artists Gather in Front of Cuba’s Ministry of Culture to Support the San Isidro Movement

The artists arrived to express their solidarity with the members of the San Isidro Movement and to demand a meeting with the Minister of Culture. (Facebook / Ahmel Echevarría)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 27 November 2020 — Since 11:00 AM this Friday, dozens of artists have gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana to express their solidarity with the members of the San Isidro Movement, who have been evicted from their headquarters by the security forces.

In the absence of the minister, Alpidio Alonso Grau, a delegation of 30 creators is expected to meet with the vice minister Fernando Rojas on behalf of all those present.

At 6:00 in the evening, more than 150 artists had arrived, including Tania Bruguera, winner of the 2014 Lázaro Saavedra National Prize for Plastic Arts, Reynier Leyva, Henry Eric, Julio Llopiz-Casal, Claudia Genlui, Solveig Font, Sindy Rivery, José Luis Aparicio, Nelson Jalil, Fernando Fraguela, Edel Figueredo, Sandra Ceballos, Juliana Rabelo, Mijail Rodríguez, Yunior García and Camila Lobón are some of those present. continue reading

Filmmaker Fernando Pérez and actor Jorge Perugorría also joined in the evening. “El Pichi and I are here to tell the Ministry of Culture to receive them,” said the renowned director. “This is going to be the beginning of a new language that Cuban culture lacks… it would not have to come to this if they had listened long before,” he added.

The artists have signed a declaration in which they condemn “the inability of government institutions in Cuba to dialogue and recognize dissent.”

The renowned artist Tania Bruguera, in statements to 14ymedio, explained that the group that arrived at the ministry this Friday “is intergenerational,” and is nurtured by people from all artistic branches who have come together to express that this institution does not represent them, nor has it been able to “find ways to negotiate when the life of an artist is at risk and it has neglected its duty, which is to protect artists.”

Visual artist Julio Llopiz-Casal declared: “I am here because I consider that what happened with the San Isidro Movement is a serious symptom of the systematic cultural policy that the Cuban State has had over 60 years, which consists of criminalizing and defaming the people who want dialogue and have no subversive intention.”

The images are being shared on the artists’ social networks and show that minute by minute more people are joining the call. Reynier Leyva Novo wrote on his Facebook wall: “We are already demanding that the Minister of Culture attend to us! San Isidro Movement. MSI. We are not moving from here…”

Another of the artists who came to the call, Henry Eric, declared to this newspaper that what moved him to join was “the lack of civil liberties,” something that in his opinion “results in the lack of freedom in creative and intellectual processes.”

“What happened in San Isidro seems to me to be a process of serious political repression, of the many that occur cyclically in this country,” and he mentioned as an example the Letter of the Ten in 1991, the Black Spring of 2003 and “the end of the 80s, when many artists in the world of visual arts were practically pushed to leave the country.”

For Henry Eric it is also important to “denounce the right that the Ministry of Culture assumes to say who can and who cannot be an artist,” because “no public official has the right to denigrate a person who decides to make art in the manner they want.”

The playwright and theater director Yunior García specified that the majority of those present are “young artists.”

He sees in what has happened in San Isidro “a threat to all our creative freedoms as artists and our freedoms as citizens,” an environment, he says, “very rarefied when it comes to making our art without having to leave the country where we were born.”

Although up until two in the afternoon the day passed peacefully, as 3:00 PM approached several sources in the place have denounced the arrival in the area where the artists are of “some buses” and of State Security agents along with the police.

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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.

Police Break into the Headquarters of Cuba’s San Isidro Movement and Arrest the Activists

The police broke into the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) in Old Havana on Thursday night and arrested the 14 activists.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2020 – The police broke into the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) in Old Havana on Thursday night and arrested the 14 activists who were inside the building, as confirmed to 14ymedio by neighbors and relatives of the detainees. Several police patrols and ambulances participated in the operation.

“I passed near the place a little before everything happened and I saw several police patrols, ambulances and a large group of people who seemed to be from State Security a few blocks from there,” a taxi driver who was transporting passengers through the area commented to this newspaper.

“When I returned down the same street, the neighbors were saying that they had taken all the strikers who were in the house,” but they still did not allow them near the place. continue reading

The agents’ raid on the house coincided with a cutting off of the services of Facebook and Instagram on the island, an internet outage that users associated with an attempt to prevent the images and reports of the arrest from being disseminated on social networks.

A tweet from MSI confirmed the information. “Agents of the dictatorship broke into our headquarters, savagely beat our compañeros, took them away and we do not know their whereabouts. We fear for their physical integrity,” the brief message reported.

The independent journalist Maykel González Vivero, director of the Tremenda Nota site, reported from near the house. “I arrived at the scene a few minutes after the forced eviction of the activists.” The reporter said that “the door was violently broken” and the whole area was under a heavy police operation.

“They were dragged away and outside the house an act of repudiation was already prepared with people shouting official slogans,” a neighbor explained to González Vivero.

The moment when two men and a woman dressed in protective suits entered the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement looking for Carlos Manuel Álvarez. (Capture)

A few hours before the agents carried their forced entry, two men and a woman dressed in protective suits, gloves and glasses had arrived at the headquarters of the Movement, saying they were part of the health personnel linked to the supervision of suspected cases of Covid-19

They insisted that Carlos Manuel Álvarez accompany them with the justification that his PCR test should be repeated, but he refused, saying that he did not trust them and that he knows that they are receiving orders from State Security.

Zuleidis Cepero, the wife of Esteban Rodríguez, communicated live with ADN Cuba [starts at 3:20 on the linked video] and said that she did not get there in time but when she did, “I couldn’t see anyone, they took everyone away, the San Isidro headquarters was left empty… They did not respect that there were women inside, I am concerned about everyone’s health,” she added.

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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 Singularity of San Isidro

Members of the San Isidro Movement protesting after the arrest of Denis Solís. (Facebook/Anamely Ramos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 26 November 2020 — The arrest of a rapper has led to a hunger strike being waged by several activists, members of a group known as the San Isidro Movement. What began as a meeting of friends showing solidarity and demanding the release of Denis Solís has led to an explosive situation.

What makes the hunger strike of these opponents and independent artists unique? The answer to that question points to the context and not to the use of fasting as a tool for advocacy. In the recent history of Cuba, the body has been frequently used as a civic plaza of demand, in the absence of legal and democratic ways through which citizens can demand rights and denounce injustices. The most dramatic case in recent years is, undoubtedly, that of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in February 2010 after 86 days without eating.

But a decade after that preventable death, the political and social context is very different. The country is going through its deepest economic crisis of this century, the authoritarian figure of Fidel Castro is past history, and the officials who have risen to the highest positions in the nation are seen – by most of the population – as a band of useless opportunists. Added to this is the recent opening of stores that sell food and cleaning products but only accept foreign currencies, which has caused a wave of popular outrage at what is seen as “monetary apartheid,” dividing society between those who have dollars and those who do not have dollars. continue reading

In this scenario, further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, a group of young people has decided not to eat to demand that the eight-month prison sentence against a rapper be reversed. In a hasty trial Denis Solís was convicted of the alleged offense of contempt against a police officer. The gesture of solidarity by these activists has stirred consciences and, in recent days, there have been signs of support from various sectors, including those who until very recently did not speak out against the repression against dissidents.

International organizations have asked the island’s authorities to release Solís, one hundred filmmakers have joined in an open letter of support for the San Isidro Movement’s strikers, and social networks are seething with calls to preserve the lives of young people through a dialogue that allows their voices to be heard. But the Plaza of the Revolution seems to have chosen, so far, the path of trying to execute their reputations by calling them “marginals” and creators “without known work,” in addition to surrounding the house that serves as the group’s headquarters with a strict police cordon that prevents access to the strikers by friends or relatives.

Several empty stomachs and a dilapidated house in a poor Havana neighborhood are now the main battle front against a desperate and dangerous system.

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This text was originally published  in Deutsche Welle for Latin America.

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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.