It Wasn’t Revolution, It Was Dictatorship

Francisco Larios assures that “many of those who today oppose Ortega-Murillo in Nicaragua were part of the movement” that brought them to power. (Carlos Herrera/Niú)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Francisco Larios, Miami, January 22, 2019 — I don’t know with what words, nor with how many amplified speakers, email messages, publicity posters, speeches, and pleas, to recommend “Connecting the dots between totalitarianisms,” a magnificent work by the painter and writer Otto Aguilar.

My motivation is this: I believe that the massacre of 2018 and all the crimes that are being committed in Nicaragua come from the lie that has been lived since 1979, the year in which we believed that we were touching heaven with our hands, and in a blind ectasy we allowed a gang that was not fit for power to accumulate it in excess. continue reading

I know that it’s painful for many, still, at this stage, to confront that brutal reality. Many of those who today oppose Ortega-Murilla, and are even their victims, were part of the movement, like an enormous number of people that at the time acted out of principal and decency.

Many of them cried, and I don’t say that in the figurative sense, when the dictatorship of the FSLN fell in defeat in 1990. It even cost them years, after that defeat, to break completely with the mother tree.

They have attempted later, instead of facing the truth, to create another myth, that of “before the ‘piñata’ — the idealistic revolution and its achievements — and after the ‘piñata,’ the hijacking of the party and the decline.”

But the evidence that has accumulated for more than 30 years is overwhelming, and should force them to return to the lost path, not only for themselves, but at some point for all of us: the path of truth.

To begin, one has to put the “Sandinista revolution” between quotation marks and throw the key into the trash.

It’s quite certain, there was a popular insurrection against the dictatorship, also genocidal, of the Somozas. The rebellion was full of heroism and desperation, and of a passionate desire to build a utopian future.

Then they arrived, the same ones as always, the foxes of power.

In such a manner that from the revolution there was guillotine, and privileges for a few. Of equality, fraternity, and liberty, very little. Much Hollywood and Bollywood, much revolutionary tourism, affectation, and high-profile Machiavellianism, at the same time lots of torture, robbery, crime; and the rest, the same as our entire previous history.

If before it was the peons of the haciendas who were the “volunteers with rope,” the cannon fodder of the oligarchs and caudillos, during the Frentista dictatorship (that one goes without quotation marks) such disgrace touched an entire generation of young people, kidnapped by the totalitarian state and used as pieces in their chess game of blood.

For that reason I also was struck by the book Perra Vida, the memoirs of the adolescence of the writer Juan Sobalvarro, in which he beautifully narrates, from his own experience as a recruit, what the kids who at that time couldn’t evade conscription lived through.

That’s why I repeat my message to the translators and communicators of the story that still clings to the myth of the “Sandinista revolution:” the most revolutionary thing they could do, the bravest, the most beautiful legacy, the one that can change history for the good (not “revise it”) is to denounce the root of the tragedy: having let the tree grow twisted since the beginning, despite having been irrigated with so much generosity by so many.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

Editors’ Note: This text was published by the Nicaraguan digital outlet Confidencial, which has authorized us to reproduce it here.

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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 Director General of RTV Comercial Has Been Detained and Is Under Investigation

Joel Ortega Quinteiro is the director of the largest state production and marketing company of films and television programs in Cuba. (Cubanow)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 January 2019 — The director general of RTV Comercial, Joel Ortega Quinteiro, has been detained for the alleged crimes of influence peddling and embezzlement, as confirmed by several sources in the sector. The official directed the largest state production and marketing company of films and television programs in Cuba.

Ortega Quinteiro was arrested earlier this month and taken to Villa Marista, the Operations Directorate of State Security in Havana. In addition, the director of artistic representation of RTV Comercial, Wendolyn Ferrer Vela, is under house arrest while the investigation is being conducted. continue reading

According to an employee of the company and another of the Institute of Music, the director is accused of possible mishandling of funds, overpayment of salaries to employees and that some in his family were hired by the departments that buy audiovisual equipment abroad.

The RTV director’s secretary declined to confirm the information in a telephone call with this newspaper, although she said that Ortega Quinteiro would not be available in his office “until the end of February.” When pushed, the employee explained that Friday was his “last day of work in the company” and that he was “liquidating everything” in his office in El Vedado.

The company, directed until now by Ortega Quinteiro, has been in charge of programs such as Sonando en Cuba, a program of musical competition that achieved an impressive audience within the Island. It has also produced the acclaimed film Conducta, winner of the Coral Award at the Havana Film Festival in 2014 and, more recently, the reel “Why do my friends cry?

RTV Comercial has been in recent years the crown jewel of the Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT by its spanish acronym) and has been responsible for obtaining foreign currency to reduce the amount allocated by the State to radio and television productions. With a management model more focused on commercialization, the entity began to be the focus of the economic police more than a year ago.

RTV’s audiovisuals are characterized by resources that are rarely available for regular television programs. “The company accumulated enemies and people who questioned how it handles resources and what projects it assumes,” an ICRT source told the newspaper, who requested anonymity. “It was a matter of time before Joel was knocked down because it was known he was committing irregularities.”

“There were also allegations of delays in payments and possible bribes to be hired to the staff of a program,” adds the state employee. “Although the ICRT has not officially reported anything to the workers, the director’s arrest is the talk of the day in the corridors.”

So far “the projects that RTV Comercial was conducting have not been suspended, but all those involved in these programs have their hearts in their mouths because of the fear of losing their jobs or of not being paid the agreed salary,” the source explained.

Some producers consulted praised the salaries that the company could afford to pay to the creators because the content was later commercialized internationally. However, other sources allude to the fact that many of the programs produced were never sold to other chains, which caused severe losses that have also weighed in the arrest of Ortega Quinteiro.

The technical staff that is hired by RTV Comercial earns high salaries in convertible pesos (CUC — roughly equivalent to the US dollar). The director of Sonando in Cuba, Manolo Ortega, earns 3,000 CUC (roughy $3,000 US or about 75,000 cuban pesos) for one season of the program that lasts less than three months. While any other director of musicals linked to ICRT only earns 2,400 CUP (Cuban pesos — about $96 US) in the same timeframe.

In an interview with the Cubanow site, Ortega Quinteiro stated that RTV applied “a production system that is not very far from traditional production,” although he acknowledged that “national television goes through issues related to material resources that escape from the hands of the creators and the institution,” something that his company sought to improve.

The company was born in 1994, in the midst of the deep economic crisis caused by the end of the Soviet Union. A moment in which a process of decentralization of foreign trade was promoted, so that each state agency could create a team or department in charge of imports and commercialization of its products.

However, it wasn’t until 2007 with the advent of digital television that RTV began to produce content with standards that could be sold in the international market. Since then, programs with audience participation have been its mainstay.

Ortega Quinteiro explained to the official press that the company offered at the beginning “three fundamental services: licensing of audiovisual works, production services and importation of equipment.” Now, it covers “ten business lines,” including the production of revenue-generating audiovisuals and co-productions with other institutions.

The night of December 31, RTV participated in the production of the television show for New Year’s Eve and in tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The transmission was praised in the official press but a few days later Ortega Quinteiro was arrested and taken to the headquarters of the State Security.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Jazz Breezes Refresh Santiago de Cuba

For the first time, the Plaza Jazz Festival included performances and concerts in Santiago de Cuba this year. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eduardo Marín, Santiago de Cuba, 21 January 2019 – Santiago de Cuba has lived an unusual week. Not only have the temperatures cooled and long sleeves become more frequent in the streets, but the winds of good music have also blown. For the first time, the Plaza Jazz Festival included presentations and concerts in this city in eastern Cuba.

The inaugural day, January 14, brought a combination of experimentation and tradition with the show of Arturo O’Farrill, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and the Conga de Los Hoyos at the Martí Theater. It was a night that neither the delay in starting the show nor the hubbub of the audience, formed by students of the Vocational Art School, managed to tarnish. continue reading

O’Farrill showed that his family ties to Cuban music from his father are not only a matter of blood inheritance but that his interpretations are permeated by a mixture of audacity and folklore. He reached the climax of the presentation when he performed the danzón Bodas de Oro (Weddings of Gold) with his two sons and the conga santiaguera.

The jazz festival program also featured throughout the week  the Colombians José Tobón and Sigura Jazz Ensemble, the Canadians Stich Wynston and The Shuffle Demons, along with a good number of Cuban musicians and students from the Esteban Salas Conservatory.

However, the final weight of the event was more inclined towards genres such as son, rumba and salsa due to the existence of very few jazz groups in the province. This musical reality was described by one of the members of the Vocal ConPaz quartet, Gualveris Rosales, who defined the Festival as “50%” jazz.

For several attendees consulted by 14ymedio, the fact that there are few santigueran groups dedicated to this genre born in the United States is due, in part, to the lack of presentation venues destined for its dissemination. “Jazz needs an atmosphere, a more intimate space in which the viewer and the musician connect better,” said Isaac, a young man who was at the Plaza Dolores for the closing of the Festival on Sunday.

So at the closing of the santigueran edition of Jazz Plaza the majority of the public came to dance with Ronald’s drums and his Rumbera Explosion, rather than with the cadence of the saxophones and piano.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Healthcare in Cuba Doesn’t Discriminate, it’s Bad for Everyone

The state of Abel Santamaría Hospital during the hospitalization of the writer’s friend. (Yosvany Hernández)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yosvany Hernández, Pinar del Río, January 21, 2019 — The deplorable state of many Cuban hospitals and the dreadful nature of their services is no secret. But there is a false conception in the popular imagination that if you have money, life flows, even when it comes to hospital treatment.

I want to share with you the story that shattered that myth for me. It is the experience of a friend who was in a car crash and spent three days in Abel Santamaría Hospital, in the city of Pinar del Río.

My friend is German. Although I was convinced that the service would be costly, I thought that she would have the best treatment, because of that widespread belief that foreigners have priority. continue reading

Upon her arrival, the emergency room was packed with patients and she had to be seen in a room with no privacy (nor beds). I don’t know whether because of protocol or lack of management, she remained stranded on the same stretcher on which she arrived, right next to an open and overflowing wastebasket.

The first checkup was the most similar to that song about elephants balancing on a spider’s web, only that these white-coated elephants would touch, go, come, whisper, wait, et cetera, to, once in a while, ask one or another bilingual question (half Spanish and half sign language).

They did some routine procedures: ultrasounds, x-rays, and blood analysis.

Then “the attending comrade” appeared, that is to say the person responsible for counting and charging every movement of personnel and resources moving around the foreign patient. My instinct as a good Cuban senses mystery and adult language like in the Saturday movie.

So far nobody had addressed her to explain what was happening, nor what the procedures would be, but the accountant comrade managed to inform the patient that the hospital didn’t have a connection with her insurance and that, to avoid delays in treatment, she should pay in cash for the services she was going to receive. Despite this not being an appropriate conversation for a moment like this, the patient, who luckily was conscious and wasn’t traveling alone, agreed.

The first diagnosis was encouraging, only a fracture of the collarbone, immobilization, eight hours in observation, and she could return home. The rooms meant for foreign patients were full and, after 3 hours, they put her in another room with worse conditions for which she had to pay the same price, 10 CUC per hour.

Each consultation 30 CUC, 25 CUC for x-rays, and the ultrasound, which in the words of the little economy comrade was a little more expensive, 300 CUC; plus 50 CUC for a gauze bandage to immobilize the shoulder.

After eight hours during which there was very little observation, due to protocol, two exams with their respective additional costs had to be repeated. The same ones had to be examined by a second orthopedist, which meant waiting until the next day.

The second orthopedist suspects a fracture in the spine and suggests an MRI. At this point my friend had been in pain for 18 hours, without cleaning herself up nor understanding how, after charging her for so many x-ray exams, there still wasn’t certainty about her health status.

An incomplete MRI (400 CUC) produced a spinal fracture, and after repeating it (300 CUC), another break appears. Hours pass and the bill rises.

She had read many good things about Healthcare in Cuba, and she wasn’t expecting that her situation could be complicated, but faced with the dreadful appearance of the place and with such a diagnosis she decided to transfer to Havana.

After resolving the bureaucratic problems and with a pinch of persistence, now that the official who attended foreigners claimed that it was not necessary to transfer her, it was 6:00 in the evening. And interprovincial ambulances don’t run at night.

On the morning of the third day the ambulance finally arrived.

During the entire stay not even an orderly appeared. It was necessary to do two MRIs and, each time, someone had to go to look for the technician at his house. Even more disappointing than the lack of medications, inappropriate conditions, and several references to the economic blockade was the apathy of the majority of the doctors, the bad treatment, and, above all, the evasion of responsibility.

After paying $1,697 at the ambulance door for terrible service and an unreliable diagnosis, she was left with only the hope of that hospital in Havana where all the foreigners go, and which, as they told her by telephone, was the best.

We Cubans don’t have that hope, because what we’ve got is that one, that of mistreatment, that of the horror movie.

It is very difficult to preserve, after hearing this story, the image of the eternal humanitarian, the good Samaritan of so many international medical missions.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

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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.

Cuba, a Sanctuary for Fugitives From Justice

Negotiations with the guerrillas continue as of today. (Colpisa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 21 January 2019 – The center of attention has shifted abruptly for the Cuban authorities. A few weeks before a complex constitutional referendum, with an economy taking on water everywhere, Havana is now embroiled in a bitter dispute with the government of Colombia. The bout between the Plaza of the Revolution and the Nariño Palace looks like it might go on for a while.

After the terrorist attack that left 20 dead and 68 wounded in Bogota, President Ivan Duque has insisted that Havana hand over the ten members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) peace delegation that remain on the island. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez has responded with a technicality that raised more doubts than certainties. continue reading

According to the foreign minister in his Twitter account, “Cuba will act in strict respect with the Peace Dialogue Protocols signed between the Government and the ELN,” should negotiations break down. The Colombian side replied that “there is no protocol that protects terrorism,” and Havana added fuel to the fire by insisting that it has never permitted nor will it permit its territory to be used for the organization of terrorist acts.

But the precedents of these last six decades belie these assertions. If the history of recent years is reviewed, it is easy to conclude that the island’s authorities will avoid handing over the guerrillas at all costs. It is very unlikely that this case will put an end to the government’s long history of protection for fugitives and criminals. It is unthinkable that, asked to choose between two loyalties, it will end up choosing to please Duque.

Dozens of members of the Basque separatist group ETA, involved in assassinations and with a long criminal history in Spain, have been hiding on the island for decades. Joanne Chesimard is also living in Cuba’s capital city; known here as Assata Shakur, she is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists after having killed a policeman. The famous thief Robert Vesco found refuge under the skirts of the Cuban Revolution after stealing more than 200 million dollars.

This “solidarity” with criminals and terrorists is based on two pillars. The first of these was established from the first years Fidel Castro came to power and expressed support for any movement or person who shares anti-capitalist, communist ideas and supports subverting the established order in their country of origin. The second obeys the maxim that “the enemy of my enemy” is always a friend to the Cuban regime.

Under these two premises, the authorities have welcomed any and all international criminals who have requested refuge after showing a record of harm against the institutions of the United States, the governments of Latin America and the law enforcement agencies of the countries most critical of the human rights situation in Cuba. Hosting these “unpresentables” has been an act of political revenge, a challenge to international justice and a mockery of the victims.

Criminals who have escaped from other countries have not only found here a place to avoid ending up in front of a court, but most have enjoyed a standard of living far superior to that of most Cubans. In mansions, with bodyguards and a good supply of food, many of these delinquents on-the-run have led a life well away from the narrow cell they deserved.

In the case of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN), the “hospitality” has meant that as of 10:00 am this Monday, the official press has still not published a word about the statement made by the guerilla group taking responsibility for the terrorist attack against the Police Cadet School in Colombia. Not only has the government given them shelter, but it has also offered them the complicity of its silence.

Why would the Government of Cuba now act differently with these fugitives? Increasingly isolated in the region, with the so-called “historic generation” clearly in biological withdrawal, and a system that can not lift Cuba’s 11 million people out of a quagmire, Havana should respond affirmatively to Bogota’s request, to make it clear that the times of support for criminals have ended.

However, to believe that something like this is possible is equated to the frog’s dream that the scorpion who helps him cross the river will not sting him. Even though it is sinking in the waters of disrepute and diplomatic solitude, sheltering terrorists is in Castroism’s nature.

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Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this text was published by Deutsche Welle.

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.

Only 70,000 Cubans are Connected to the Internet From Their Homes

The commercialization of Nauta Home is part of a government strategy seeking to close the technology gap with the rest of the world. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, January 19, 2019 — Only some 70,400 Cubans — out of a population of more than 11 million — are today connected to the internet from their homes, a service that has grown timidly since its beginning in 2017, compared to the popularity of the recent activation of mobile data with 3G technology, which has exceeded 1.8 million customers in a little more than a month.

Cuba, one of the most disconnected nations on earth, offers the Nauta Home service for individuals in 115 of the 168 municipalities of the country, according to information received from the state telecommunications monopoly Etecsa, published this Saturday by the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth). continue reading

95% of Nauta Home users use a 1 megabit connection, the cheapest of the four available packages, which cost from 15 to 70 CUC, high prices compared with national salaries, the average of which doesn’t exceed 35 CUC per month.

Until two years ago, connection from home was a privilege only granted to officials linked with the Government, and professionals such as doctors, journalists, and university professors. The service had subsidized prices but very slow speeds when it came to sending and receiving data.

At first, the commercialization of Nauta Home was seen by customers as an alternative to browsing from the wifi zones with wireless connections that began to be installed on the Island in 2015. However, the slow expansion of the domestic service frustrated those early hopes.

The breaks and cuts in service have also been frequent in Nauta Home, which on January 14 was out of service for more than six hours because of technical problems that affected the entire country.

The arrival of internet to mobile phones on December 6 has caused many to place their hopes in the possible technical improvement and the price reduction of the service from cellphones. Currently browsing packages for 3G technology cost between 7 and 30 CUC, a price much criticized by users.

Until the appearance of mobile data, 60% of the 5.9 Cuban internet users accessed the net from their workplaces or schools.

In Cuba, with 11.1 million inhabitants, there are more than 5.3 million cellphone users.

In December, the Cuban Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, announced before Parliament that this year they would begin to test the mobile service with 4G technology in large cities, although he did not specify official activation dates.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

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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.

Venezuela: Now or Never

Caption: Juan Guaidó is part of a brilliant group of self-sacrificing ex-student leaders. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos A. Montaner, January 20, 2019 — The destiny of Venezuela is probably in the hands of Juan Guaidó. It involves a young representative of 35, linked to Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), a party founded by Leopoldo López. The presidency of the National Assembly came to him, which is something like winning a tiger in a raffle. As President of the Assembly he has turned into, de facto, the acting president of the country in the face of the total illegitimacy of Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela, then, has two presidents. One legitimate and constitutional, which is Juan Guaidó, and the other absolutely fraudulent: Nicolás Maduro. In any case, in the fourteenth century the Catholic Church had three popes simultaneously. Two were declared antipopes. By that measure, in the future Maduro will be declared antipresident. continue reading

Those who know Guaidó tell me that he has the maturity and the common sense necessary for that job. By means of television he projects a good image. He is endorsed by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, 13 of the 14 countries of the Lima Group (excepting the ineffable AMLO’s Mexico), María Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma, and the US State Department. He has his back well covered.

On the table is even the possibility that Donald Trump’s administration continues buying the 500,000 barrels of petroleum daily from Venezuela, the only influx of fresh cash coming into the country, but with the condition that that money be deposited in an escrow account that only the National Assembly can access through its president. What sense would it make to pay it to an illegitimate government?

But who is this young politician? Guaidó is a graduate in industrial engineering from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, with postgraduate studies in public policy at George Washington University and IESA, a management school accredited in several countries.

Engineers have an advantage over lawyers: they’re used to incorporating the factor of time into the work they plan. They’re usually the best in “management by objectives,” something that is urgently needed in a country that has been thrown into such chaos as this one.

Guaidó, in short, has sufficient training and information to straighten out his country. At the end of the day, Venezuela has been devastated by Chavism ($300 billion was stolen) and, recently, by a half-idiot individual who talks to birds and doesn’t know where his right hand is. (Especially the right).

Guaidó is part of a brilliant group of self-sacrificing ex-student leaders that includes Yon Goicoechea, Juan Requesens, a political prisoner, Stalin González, and Freddy Guevara, protected since six months ago in the Chilean embassy in Caracas. They are the new generation. In 2017 the National Guard filled their backs and necks with shot. That is to say: they have risked their lives in the streets, something that is important in a society in which heroic gestures are valued.

Guaidó’s immediate task is about precisely that. He must assume the role of acting president. He must call on the people to demonstrate in the streets. He is also the natural chief of those in uniform. In theory, general Vladimir Padrino López, Minister of Defense, must stand at attention in front of him and accept his orders. Soldiers and minor officials are desperate for this to happen.

According to what viceadmiral Mario Iván Carratú told the Venezuelan journalist Carla Angola, the Armed Forces are demoralized, like the Portuguese army was when the Carnation Revolution happened in 1974. Soldiers are hungry and lacking medicines just like the rest of the country. If Maduro gives the order to attack the demonstrators, Carratú thinks that they wouldn’t comply.

And what would the Cuban Government do? Of course, it would recommend resistance to any change toward democracy and liberty, but the regime of Havana doesn’t have the power to rescue and sustain the dictatorship. It suffers from its own weakness. It would recall its troops and its personnel, much hated in Venezuela, and they would clear off for Cuba, perhaps offering asylum to a handful of their Venezuelan servants.

Can Guaidó promise Chavism something that gets the game unstuck? He cannot promise anything that the Constitution doesn’t allow for. Perhaps a referendum for the country to decide on a law that decrees an amnesty for crimes committed during these years of abuse and vile acts. Only that, but not as his own agreement or that of the National Assembly, but of the whole society.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

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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 Egg, Still Being Sought

Two retirees have written initials on their eggs to handle the shortage that affects the whole country and to avoid disputes at home.  (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 16 January 2019 — In Norma and Francisco’s refrigerator only four eggs remain.  In order to handle the shortage that affects the whole country and avoid disputes at home, the retirees have written on the shells the initial of each member of the family.

At the end of last year, authorities attributed poultry production deficiencies to damages from Hurricane Irma in September of 2017 and the sub-tropical storm Alberto in May of 2018.  In Havana, where 28 million eggs are consumed each month, only five million came to market in December, according to the official press. continue reading

This shortage coincided with the lack of flour in stores, which caused a fall in the production of sweets in the state and private sectors.  With the passage of weeks, the flour shortage has let up slightly, but the egg shortage is unrelieved.

Cubans receive five eggs a month at a rationed price of 0.15 Cuban peso (CUP) each, and they have the right to five more for 0.90 CUP each.  On the free market an egg costs 1 CUP, but it has been more than a month since one could be had.

“This month eggs are not in the ration booklet, and anyone who still has one it’s because they kept it since December,” Pascual, an employee of an egg warehouse belonging to the Interior Commerce Ministry, confirms to 14ymedio.  “Right now we are waiting for them to arrive, but they have not,” he says.

Added to the deterioration of the poultry infrastructure is the problem of feed for the laying hens.  “We haven’t gotten any feed, and we are improvising with the little that is left, trying to stretch it or selling the hens as chickens for consumption,” complains an employee of a state farm near the community of Las Terrazas in Artemisa.

Powdered eggs, a product that a couple of years ago began to enter the country as a substitute for freshly laid eggs, has also disappeared from the market.  A kilogram of this product was selling for 65 CUP and came mainly from Brazil.

But last December it was announced that the Government of that nation had stopped exports to Cuba and frozen its credit because, of the 10 million dollars the Island was supposed to pay in June, it only paid 4 million.  This measure has already led to a reduction of Brazilian products in national markets.

“With Hurricane Irma we lost the roof, but little by little we were replacing it; what is impeding us right now from establishing production is the lack of food for the birds,” laments the Artemisa worker.  “We have had to sacrifice many hens for lack of food, and recovering from that takes time.”

The poultry farms, all under state management, are governed by the traditional concept of keeping the birds caged.  An intensive practice that in Latin America is being substituted little by little for another in which the well-being of the animals is taken into account and they are not confined inside of a small space.

The so-called “happy hen egg” is found in Cuba only in domestic production carried out on home patios or on small farms, but all the commercial product in the state network comes from caged hens.

“When our cages or warehouse roofs are damaged we cannot continue producing,” says another employee of a farm in San Antonio de los Banos.  “This is very fragile and when the wind blows a little strongly we always have impacts but also when it’s very hot because the interior of the warehouses gets quite hot and many animals die on us.”

Researchers Nadia Baez Quinones and Onailis Oramas Santos, from the Animal Science Institute and the University of Havana School of Economics, respectively, carried out a study of the sector’s problems.  The shortage of incubators, deterioration of the refrigeration equipment, deficiencies in the treatment of wastes and constant water pump breakdowns are some of them.

The experts assert that, if there is an investment to air condition the damaged farms and modernize their production, the supply to the population could rise to 39 eggs per month per resident, instead of the ten that they can currently acquire through the ration market.

But some producers, like Ramon Luaces, 72, who worked more than three decades with egg layers, say that more is needed than resources and investments.  “We must resume production on a smaller scale, too, and motivate the farmers to produce eggs,” he tells this daily.

“The private egg producer prefers selling them on the black market because they have no incentive to sell to the state,” explains Lucas.  “If they would let us sell directly to the people and the hotels, ’another rooster would crow’,” he says, using the Cuban expression equivalent to ’it would be a whole different story.’

Translated by Mary Lou Keel

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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 Multiple Ways the Maduro Regime Kills

Sign: “Studying While Hungry Doesn’t Work.” The author argues that “induced hunger has an advantage: it kills slowly without its victims joining the statistics of violent deaths.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miguel Henrique Otero, Madrid, 19 January 2019 — The regime headed by Nicolás Maduro kills without a timetable. It does so throughout the national territory, during the day or at night. The process that consists in depriving Venezuelans of their lives is permanent. And for this it makes use of the most diverse methods, whose results are confirmed at distinct rates.

The method that reaches the greatest number of victims is undoubtedly induced hunger. Over two decades, Chávez first and then Maduro built an economic model, now in full swing, that operates on two premises: hunger and hyperinflation. continue reading

Simultaneously, they liquidated the value of the currency–reduced its purchasing power to nothing–and spread among millions of Venezuelan families the practice of eating less and less, progressively worse, progressively more sporadically. In the design of this perverse, gigantic operation, which has among its glorious antecedents the famines caused by Stalin and Mao, it has counted on the participation of advisors of Castroism and the political party Podemos.

From the plan to turn Venezuela into a State of Hunger, nothing has escaped: the School Food Program ended, productive farms and companies in the agroindustrial sector were expropriated to ruin them, entities have been created one after the other to make the acquisition and distribution of food impossible, the budgets that, until 1998, allowed the operation of soup kitchens and food services in hospitals, orphanages, centers for the elderly, prisons and other institutions have been devastated. A reality that is yet to be reported and photographed: the thousands of industrial kitchens that, throughout the country, are now in useless, rusty and filthy.

The most significant achievement of the “Bolivarian Revolution” in its intent of imposing a dictatorship is expressed in the politicization of the right to eat: the national identity card and the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) that, in particular, act under the most implacable logic of extortion: access to bags of food in exchange for political loyalty. The CLAP system is the most widespread method of humiliation and submission of the Venezuelan society.

Induced famine has an advantage: it kills slowly without its victims adding to the statistics of violent deaths. People — especially children and the elderly — lose weight, lose their body mass, weaken, fall ill and die. The structure of death works perfectly: when the afflicted citizen seeks the help of health services, he does not find it. Thus, the sick person becomes a kind of shipwrecked person: alone, lost, orphaned by the health care to which he is entitled.

To contribute to this politics of death, the regime first undertook one of its most impeccable operations: it destroyed the healthcare system. A perspective view of what happened, shows the multiple factors that were put into play: politicized the performance and operations of the hospitals, persecuted doctors and paramedics, who by thousands and thousands chose to flee the country; took the right measures to create situations of extreme shortage of medicines and hospital supplies; imported from Cuba, not professionals but pirates of the exercise of medicine; and stimulated the return of diseases that had been eradicated and that have acquired epidemic proportions.

They concentrated the purchasing systems in such a manner that it turned them into effective methods for corruption, acquired billion-dollar amounts of bad-quality medicines or counterfeit drugs, destroyed or stole the fleet of ambulances.

They ransacked the dispensaries of the health centers, created their own factory of incompetents under the name of community doctors, allowed the hospitals to become haunts for mafias and criminal gangs; and, if my count is correct, in two decades the so-called Ministry of Popular Power for Health has had, read closely, 17 ministers, one of the biggest posters for an executive power specializing in naming ignorants and thieves as ministers.

To double this process, insatiable and regularly sustained, of killing by hunger and disease, dozens and dozens of other methods are added, more apparent and occurring daily. They kill thousands of defenseless citizens, between 25,000 and 30,000 a year, at the hands of criminals who keep the cities and towns of the Venezuelan territory under control.

Drivers and passengers of vehicles die on highways full of potholes, without illumination nor road signs, in fatal and incapacitating accidents. Hungry people die after eating poisonous food — like bitter yucca — in their starving desperation.

Patients die in operating rooms and intensive care rooms as a result of the extensive and repeated failures of the electrical service. People die due to the lack of ambulance services and emergency care. Entire families die, dragged under by the mud and waters, on rainy days. Thousands and thousands of people die due to lack of medicines and supplies for chronic diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, HIV and others.

Venezuelan indigenous people die, struck by epidemics. Innocents who live in the neighborhoods of the country die, killed by gang fights or by police operatives or military bodies that shoot indiscriminately. Victims die by hired assassins in charge of the operations. Citizens such as Fernando Albán are killed in torture sessions. Political prisoners die who are denied medical attention. Thousands and thousands of Venezuelans die under the yoke of a regime that hates life.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Editor’s note: Miguel Henrique Otero is Editor-in-Chief of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.

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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 Police Removed the Poor From the Streets of Cienfuegos During the Visit of Diaz-Canel

The authorities of Cienfuegos wanted to prevent the poor from “wandering” in the city during the visit of Miguel Díaz-Canel. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Justo Mora / Mario J. Pentón, Cienfuegos / Miami, 19 January 2019 – More than twenty beggars and elderly people were picked up by the police in the streets of Cienfuegos and sent to the Psychiatric Hospital. The authorities wanted to prevent those poor people from “wandering” in the city during Thursday’s visit by the Head of State, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Various testimonies collected by 14ymedio in Cienfuegos gave an account of the “cleaning” done by the forces of order with a bus that picked up the elderly who were on the Boulevard and other central zones of the city.

“My aunt was picked up on Wednesday, they manhandled and beat her, she still has a bandage on her leg and bruises on her face and mouth. Osniel Gómez, a policeman on the Boulevard, told me that the round up was due to the arrival of Díaz-Canel,” Martha Galán Cañizares, niece of Natividad Cañizares, reported by telephone. continue reading

Galán said her aunt appeared drugged when she picked her up at the psychiatric hospital in Cienfuegos. According to her, nobody could tell her who was responsible for the old woman’s injuries.

“My aunt raised me since I was a baby. Imagine the amount of medication they gave her that she did not even recognize me. When I told these things to the police they wanted to arrest me,” the woman added.

Although she thought about staying in front of the headquarters of the Communist Party to show Diaz-Canel what had happened to her aunt, Galán feared for the consequences.

“My fear is that afterwards they will continue harassing her. My aunt does not get involved with anyone. She is well mentally, the only thing is that she likes to walk around the city and while she is healthy I think she should do it,” she said.

Díaz-Canel visited Cienfuegos last Thursday as part of a tour that has taken him to several provinces in the country. The media presence of the president, appointed by Raúl Castro in April 2018, has grown exponentially. He visited the glucose factory, the university, the provincial hospital and the amusement park, as well as holding a meeting with the principal leaders of the region.

The social networks publish more and more photos and videos of Diaz-Canel strolling through the streets of the  major cities and small peasant villages, where people approach him to pose problems of all kinds.

“Every time a high-level visit comes, the police and the Ministry of Public Health pick up the dirty-looking people who roam the streets and take them to the Psychiatric Hospital,” says a source at the Municipal Social Security Directorate who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“The worst of it all is that they pick them up for a few days and then release them again on the streets without any type of asistance,” he added.

According to the same source, during Díaz-Canel’s visit at least twenty beggars and “wanderers” were picked up.

Arelys Silva, who lives in the vicinity of the Calzada de Dolores, one of the city’s main arteries, is “outraged” by the abuse of the beggars.

“Everybody knows that they take advantage of the fact those people have no one to defend them and they commit all sorts of injustices against them.” Since the arrival of Díaz-Canel, the entire scene was set up to show that things are all wonderful. These people live in a lie,” she said.

Silva says she is still waiting for Díaz-Canel to “bring back the quality” of the flour with which they are making bread or to change the filters of the city aqueduct so that the water does not arrive “with a chocolate color”.

“We have lived through decades of promises and calls for resistance but we continue with the ration book and ’eating chicken for fish’*,” she lamented.

Odalis Acea, a self-employed worker, recognized that with the arrival of Díaz-Canel, transportation and garbage collection had improved. “Even bus route 5 to Tulipán is passing by regularly, but when the president gets on his helicopter, all will revert to how it was before.”

*Translator’s note: “Eating chicken for fish” is a widespread complaint about the rationing system. Cubans can buy limited foods through their ration booklets at very low prices. The allocation is supposed to include fish but, as it almost never does, chicken is substituted. There is no explanation for why, on an island surrounded by water, fish is never available.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Residents of a Building in Havana Rebel Against Noise Aggressions

The more than two million residents of the capital city can seldom enjoy peace and silence. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 11 January 2019 — The music in the bus is deafening, the screeching noises from an illegal autorepair shop leak out through the windows of one building, and in another block the screams from a kids’ playground don’t leave the neighbors any peace. Havana is a shrill city and not even the complaints of the victims or the legal regulations manage to put the breaks on so much noice.

Despite legislation that prohibits “producing sounds, noises, smells, vibrations and other physical factors that affect or may affect human health,” the more than two million residents of the capital can seldom enjoy peace and the silence. The noise pollution is everywhere. continue reading

“When I want some quiet I leave the city because here, when it’s not cars, it’s loud music or shouting,” 14ymedio hears from Manuel, 44, who lives in Havana and has a small yoga studio in his home. “Sometimes I can not concentrate and I have to go to the Botanical Garden to be calmer.”

Manuel feels “fortunate” that his building on Marino Street, in the Plaza de la Revolución municipality, “is not one of the noisiest.” Luck that is not shared by the residents of N Street between 23 and 25, who have been engaged in a tough legal battle for years to move an amusement park which is right under their windows.

After several complaints at different times and reporting the din from the play area on social networks, the neighbors of that building decided to make their anger visible and hung a cloth outside one or the windows where their demand can be read: “On this Boulevard, capital [i.e. money] matters more than the welfare of the community, enough is enough!” says the message that is visible from the street.

“On this Boulevard, capital [i.e. money] matters more than the welfare of the community, enough is enough!” (14ymedio)

The building adjoins the so-called Boulevard D’25, an old state parking structure for vehicles converted into an area for renting spaces to self-employed workers. The building houses cafes, restaurants and craft shops, but the main attraction is an area with huge inflatable devices for children.

The area fills up on weekends, due to the few recreational options for small children in the area. “That’s when the problems begin because there is very little distance between the games and the nearest building,” a neighbor from the area who preferred anonymity told this newspaper. “It was a bad idea to install that amusement park there,” she says.

In the official press the problem of noise in the streets and buildings is frequently addressed, but most of the time citizens are held responsible. Criticisms of state entities that generate this type of environmental pollution are rarely addressed in newspapers or on national television.

The neighbors of N Street between 23 and 25 have been engaged in a tough legal battle for years to move a children’s amusement park installed next to their windows. (14ymedio)

Liane Cossío, one of the neighbors of the building, reported on the Facebook page for Neighbors of La Rampa — specifically created to denounce this type of situation — that about a year ago, “after much waiting in vain for an answer from the Government,” the neighbors of the building affected by the noise went to the management of the Department of Supervision and Control to complain.

The person they spoke to was direct: “If that park were in the courtyard of a house, we would have removed owner’s license after the first complaint from the neighbors,” but “is there with a permit from the Government and we do not have any way of telling the Government that is badly located.”

However, the insistence of those affected was almost about to pay off. An employee of the playground told 14ymedio that last June “the order to came to collect all the apparatuses for children.” Something she regretted because it is the time of the year when the most profits are made, however, as of December it is open again.

Elsewhere in the city, a park in the Playa municipality near the Casa de la Música, means the closest residents suffer the same sound attacks. A Wi-Fi hotspot has been operating in the park for a couple of years and now dozens of customers come every day to connect to the internet.

“This boulevard violates (among other things) our right to live in peace” (14ymedio)

“Even very late at night there are people who come with portable speakers and turn them on at full volume,” says Rosendo, a retiree who lives across from the once “quiet park.” “Sometimes people also come out with a few drinks from the Casa de la Música and sit on a bench to sing and shout all night.”

Such behavior can result in the offenders being fined up to 200 pesos, but Rosendo complains that when the police number is called to report shouting or the volume of a loudspeaker “they rarely send a patrol out to control the situation.”

Between January and March of last year more than 13,700 “noise promoters” were fined as part of a government strategy to reduce the high levels of noise pollution, but the problem is so widespread that it barely served to lessen it.

The residents of Rosendo have devised a strategy to get the police to come when they call for noise: they complain that some individuals are shouting slogans against the Government. “When we say that, they immediately send several police officers.” But most of the time “the speakers blare until dawn,” he laments.

Experts say that the human ear is prepared to “receive sounds from nature which are rarely recorded any louder than 60 decibels,” but in Havana noise levels are reached that not only affect the auditory system, but can also be the cause other diseases.

Excessive noise is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, as well as with other symptoms such as ringing in the ears, hearing fatigue, dizziness and stress. The World Health Organization reports that noise above 80 dB increases the aggressive behavior of individuals.

Although Havana resonates in all corners at almost at any time of the day, the most frequent schedule for these infractions is “the evening and late night, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, consistent with people’s times of rest,” according to a official report. Rosendo knows this well: “Here you can not sleep through the night,” he says.

During the day, the pensioner gives a nod from the doorway of his house, while a few yards away some teenagers hum the latest reggaeton accompanied by a powerful wireless speaker about 15 inches high.

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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.

Hundreds of Cubans will Meet with Pope Francis in Panama

The Cubans who are departing for  Panama World Youth Day are children of a generation that, for decades, could not show their faith in public. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Bertha K. Guillén, Candelaria, 18 January 2019 — This Saturday is the day that Jorge has waited for months. Tomorrow he leaves for Panama along with 470 other Cuban Catholics to attend along with Pope Francis the triennial meeting of the World Youth Day (WYD).

It is the island’s largest delegation in the history of the event, which takes place between January 22 and 27, and for the first time, Cuban pilgrims are assuming their own transportation and lodging expenses. In the past, the parishes of the Island covered those expenses and that is why the Cuban delegations were small. continue reading

Jorge sold an electronic tablet and some household goods to gather the $640 that the trip costs. He has also received help from his parents, who make their living renting a house to tourists. With this amount, the youth can buy a packet of accommodation, food and insurance (at a cost of $250), while the other $390 will defray the cost of the plane ticket.

“I was a minor when the Pope visited Brazil in 2013 and I could not travel at that time, in addition there weren’t any meetings in the parishes so that those interested could pay for the trip,” Jorge tells 14ymedio.

The interest expressed by young people to attend the World Youth Day was so wide, according to parishioners from several parishes of Artemisa and Pinar del Río, that the ecclesiastical authorities decided to make a call for self-financing of the trip to all those who would like to participate.

The consular paperwork was handled through the diocesan board of Pastoral Youth. “That helped a lot because the Panamanian embassy in Havana is very complicated, the line is long and the resellers (Cubans who travel to other countries to buy goods and then resell them back in Cuba) offer more than 300 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos, roughly $300 US) for a place in the line in the informal market,” says Ismael, another pilgrim who has joined the trip.

Ismael’s parents look forward to the presence of their son in Panama. Growing up under the strict atheism of the 70s in Cuba, both professionals began to show their religious faith in public when, in 1991, the Communist Party allowed membership to believers. “They dreamed of something that now I can finally do,” says the son.

Many of those who travel to Panama this Saturday are children of a generation “that could not be baptized or married by the Church,” says Ismael. “Those people had to hide the crucifix and religious images and that is why now they have encouraged and supported the young people so they do not let their religion be taken away and carry it with pride”.

To join the delegation it was necessary to fulfill the requirements of the parish, such as having an active and sacramental life and providing a letter of approval from the parish priest or another religious figure of the community.

In all the parishes of the country, young people were advised to count on having additional funds for any unforeseen event. More than 60% of those interested in the trip arranged for private funds or received help from the religious community and from parishioners who collected money so they could fulfill their dream.

“Paying for our tickets has been a challenge, in which our priest have had the principal role. Most of us are students, so we have appealed to the generosity of priests, nuns and people of good will who live outside of Cuba.” explained to this newspaper a young man from Candelaria, in the province of Artemisa.

The Candelarian has many expectations for World Youth Day, an event founded in 1985 by Pope John Paul II that has become the biggest celebration of young Catholics. “It is also a place to compare our realities, to learn other ways of living the faith and above all to fill ourselves with hope,” he says.

In Panama, they will participate in meetings with Pope Francis. “Since last October we have had formative meetings in the parishes to be in tune with the world’s youth,” explains Mónica Rodríguez, a young woman from Santiago. “It is a great responsibility to represent Cubans who are unable to go on the journey and convey the true reality of our country.”

In Cuba there will also be a digital broadcast via Facebook. “We are enabling sites in order to experience the most important moments of the journey via the Internet”, explains David Yanes. “It is the first time that we are directly connected and we are going to take advantage of it”.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Clogged Toilets, Without Water, Filthy and Broken: The Bathrooms in a Havana School

Parents regret that their children must try to get through the entire school day without relieving themselves because of the filth in the bathrooms. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 January 2019 — Tired of raising the problem year after year, parents of students enrolled in the José Luis Arruñada school, in Havana, decided to report on social networks and other channels the unfortunate situation of the bathrooms. Clogged, without water, filthy and broken, the sanitary services are one of the many problems of the educational center.

For years the principal of La Arruñada, as the school is popularly known, asked for patience and a vote of confidence to repair the breaks that had toilets, sinks and urinals. But the justifications and promises accumulated without the solution appearing and the parents have had to finance cleanings and quick repairs, without the situation improving in the long term. continue reading

The school, which serves elementary and secondary students, has been deteriorating in the last six decades. It went from being a school run by the Catholic Brothers of La Salle to being part of the state network administered by the Ministry of Education. In all this time the large property, which occupies an entire block, has barely benefited from some paint and new school furniture. Two years ago they replaced the old pipes with new plastic ones, but that did not solve the problem either and the problems of clogged plumbing continued.

“How am I going to demand that my son wash his hands before eating if there is no water in the bathrooms and the sinks are all broken?” a mother asked at the last parent meeting held at the school last Tuesday. The question floated in the air, until another voice complained that her daughter “gets home every day of the school bursting” with the desire to urinate because during the eight hours that she spends in the classroom she does not dare to go to the toilets.

“Here there is always a story to justify things, but in the meantime the children are the ones who have to endure all day with the desire to relieve themselves because of the filth in those bathrooms,” the voice said with a hint of weariness, after waiting for many years an improvement.

Of the two bathrooms available for fourth, fifth and sixth grade, there is only one that works, and that badly. In the others, the colors of the old tiles of the floor can barely be made out because of the dirt, the toilets are clogged, and the doors of each cubicle were long ago were torn out and stolen.

Now, for the first time in decades, the images of deterioration and neglect come to light in social networks, but at least three generations of students have endured the stench that accumulates between those walls.

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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.

Wifi and Home Internet Service Restored in Cuba After Nationwide Outage

From early hours of Monday, the Wi-Fi zones and the connection from Nauta Hogar throughout the country are out of service. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2019 — After an interruption that lasted more than six hours and affected the entire country, the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa) restored the Wi-Fi service in public areas as well as “Nauta Hogar,” the company’s home internet service.

From the early hours of Monday, the Wi-Fi zones and Nauta Hogar connections throughout the country were out of service due to a technical “interruption.” Internet users could not access web browsing from their homes or in the public wireless areas, as confirmed by an Etecsa operator. continue reading

“Our specialists are already working to solve this problem,” added the employee of the state telecommunications monopoly, but she did not specify when the service will be restored. Internet access from mobile phones is not affected by the breakdown.

“There is no electricity, no Wi-Fi in the parks, no Nauta Hogar,” activist Iliana Hernández reported on her Facebook account. Similar testimonies have been published on social networks by users from other areas of the country.

Although customers can manage to capture the Wi-Fi signal distributed by Etecsa antennas in the wireless navigation zones, they can not sign on from the service’s user portal.

This time Etecsa did not issue a statement on its website or on its social networks to explain to its customers the nature of the problem.

This newspaper was able to verify that there were also difficulties when it came to reloading credit on cell phone or Nauta accounts through the Transfermovil application.

In 2015, the first Wi-Fi zones began to be installed in squares and parks on the Island and, by the end of 2018, there were 830. In addition, some 40,000 users (out of a population of over 11 million) are connected to the Internet in their homes, through Nauta Hogar.

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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.

Havana Receives an Order of 89 Chinese Buses to Shore Up Public Transport

The vehicles from the Chinese company Yutong are hybrids, which allows the reduction of polluting emissions. (ACN)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, 17 January 2019 — A batch of 89 buses from China arrived in Havana on Wednesday to reinforce public transport in the capital, which has been running a chronic deficit for many years, state media reported.

The buses from the Chinese company Yutong, were acquired through an agreement between the Ministries of Transport and the Economy and Planning and their counterparts in China, in order to progressively modernize the passenger transport fleet, according to information reported on the television news. continue reading

The news also reported that transport authorities said that the loan for this investment amounted to 16 million dollars, which is to be paid to the Chinese entities over a period not greater than 24 months.

Of the total of vehicles purchased, 50 are articulated and 39 are hybrids (running on both diesel and electricity), so they reduce the use of fuels.

Four Havana bus terminals will incorporate the new Chinese vehicles in the coming weeks to serve bus routes in Havana, where people take 1.2 million trips a day, 1.1 million of them in 7,600 bus trips, according to data from the provincial company of the sector.

At the end of 2018, Havana had about 700 buses in operation in the public transport system, distributed across 126 routes, a figure well below what is needed to meet the demand.

The alternative has been the private transport companies — mostly owners of almendrones* — but in recent months the licenses of more than 2,000 autonomous drivers of these shared fixed-route taxis have been revoked, according to the authorities, due to technical deficiencies, which has reduced the number of these vehicles in service.

*Translator’s note: “Almendrones” is a reference to the “almond” shape of the classic American cars of the 1950s (or even earlier) which are commonly used for this service. The drivers operate shared fixed route service, and fares are based on a zone system. See also: If you strike we will confiscate your car.

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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.