Raul Castro Tells Intellectuals That Cuban Culture is Threatened / EFE, 14ymedio

Cuban Writers and Artists Union President Miguel Barnet. (UNEAC)
Cuban Writers and Artists Union President Miguel Barnet. (UNEAC)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 23 August 2016 – Cuban President Raul Castro warned in a message to the island’s intellectuals and artists that the country’s culture is threatened by “subversive projects” and a “global wave of colonization,” although he is confident that they can confront the challenge, according to an article in the official media published this Tuesday.

The letter, read last night during the celebration of 55 years of the official Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), congratulates an institution “that was born in a decisive stage of the Cuban Revolution” and has been “at the service of culture, considered by Fidel as ‘the nation’s shield and sword’.” Continue reading “Raul Castro Tells Intellectuals That Cuban Culture is Threatened / EFE, 14ymedio”

Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

A foreigner can pay up to 12 times more than a Cuban to enter cultural events such as the La Rampa Art Fair. (14ymedio)
A foreigner can pay up to 12 times more than a Cuban to enter cultural events such as the La Rampa Art Fair. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 22 August 2016 — How do Cubans to know I’m not from here? I wear the same clothes as Cubans (shorts, shirt and sandals) and my skin is not that white in this scorching summer. Also, I flatter myself I speak pretty good “Cuban”… So why do I still feel like a perpetual stigma like I’m being “délit de faciès” (racially profiled) as we would say in France to refer to those who control the streets and target immigrants with no other motive than their physical appearance. Why am I forced to hear continued calls in the street of “Hello my friend?” in English. Followed in Spanish by “Do you want a taxi, a good private restaurant, where are you from? What language do you speak? Do you want to go to the beach?”

Why can’t I just seem normal, like the rest of the citizens, and not an almost extraterrestrial being? Why is the label of tourist stuck to my forehead, as if I was suffering from an obsession that consists of touring the island over and over? Ten years from now will they still be offering me wooden statues of Che berets? Why doesn’t anyone think I live here, and even work here, in exchange for a Cuban salary? Continue reading “Foreigner For One Day, Foreigner Forever: Diary of a Returnee, Part 2 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy”

Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

A primary school in Candelaria, Pinar del Río. (14ymedio)
A primary school in Candelaria, Pinar del Río. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 20 August 2016 – The 2016-2017 school year starts in just two weeks and the authorities of the Ministry of Education are calling on people to take good care of school supplies given “the economic limitations of the country.” Department head Ena Elsa Velaquez Cobiella, also acknowledged the lack of teachers in several territories, a problem that last year amounted to a deficit of 10,300 teachers island-wide.

For the upcoming school year, among the provinces with the most significant lack of teachers are Ciego de Avila, where an exodus to other lines of work has caused a shortage of 663 education professionals. These positions will be covered, according to Barbara Rodriguez Milian, Provincial Director of Education, with “personnel contracted for on a hourly basis, a university contingent, and methodologists and the boards of directors of the schools,” as the official told the local press. Continue reading “Preparing For The New School Year Amid Economic Constraints And Teacher Shortages/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

FANTU Activists Ask Obama to “Save the Life” of Guillermo Farinas / 14ymedio

Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy)
Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 August 2016 — A group of activists from the Anti-Totalitarian Forum (FANTU) have sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to “save the life of Guillermo Fariñas Hernández” who, as of Sunday, has been on a hunger strike for 32 days. The missive is addressed to the leader as “president of the country which is a beacon of human rights in the world.”

Seven members of the opposition organization which is led by Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, are asking Obama to “use his political wisdom to take any action” that would avoid the death of the dissident. However, they clarify that the letter is not asking the US president to do “something tied to politics.” Continue reading “FANTU Activists Ask Obama to “Save the Life” of Guillermo Farinas / 14ymedio”

Social Networks Respond To Randy Alonso: I-Am-Not-Ex-Cuban / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

#YoNoSoyExCubano: Milkos Danilo Sosa Molina, a young Cuban resident in Miami responds to Randy Alonso. (Courtesy)
#YoNoSoyExCubano: Milkos Danilo Sosa Molina, a young Cuban resident in Miami responds to Randy Alonso. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 19 August 2016 — A recent comment by official journalist Randy Alonso has generated a number of protests on social networks.

The well-known Cuban TV host questioned the nationality of the Cuban athlete Orlando Ortega, who won silver medal competing for Spain at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

On the Roundtable program, which he moderates on Cuban State TV, Alonso dedicated a segment to Cuba’s performance in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and spoke about the “controversial elements” in that sporting event, mentioning the case of “the ex-Cuban Orlando Ortega who is going to compete for Spain, and other cases of athletes who have jumped from one country to another.” The journalist placed his speech in the context of a supposed controversy “that today animates the international sports scene, tempered by the growing influence of money.” Continue reading “Social Networks Respond To Randy Alonso: I-Am-Not-Ex-Cuban / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy

About 10 million people eat the same thing at the same time in Cuba, the few products available in the market. (EFE)
About 10 million people eat the same thing at the same time in Cuba, the few products available in the market. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Dominque Deloy, Havana, 18 August 2016 – My situation is like that of the majority of mixed couples where one of the two had the good fortune to be born in a democratic country – indeed, a country with a free press and a multi-party political system, where a person can express an opinion without fear of being denounced by their neighbors or reprimanded by the police. It is useful to remember this in these difficult times, with a certain tendency, on the other side of the Atlantic, to forget or deny the achievements and advantages of democracy even though, of course, it is far from perfect and is always an ideal to that is being striven for.

In these cases, sometimes, the Cuban man or woman, who remains deeply attached to their island, convinced their partner to initiate the “repatriation,” full of hopes for change after the famous handshake with the former enemy and potential invader. Continue reading “Why Did I Get Myself Into This Mess? Diary Of A Foreign Returnee Part 1 / 14ymedio, Dominque Deloy”

Jorgito, The New Revolutionary Icon / 14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz

Jorgito debuted in his public life on the occasion of the Fourth Pioneers Congress, when he caught the attention of Raul Castro
Jorgito debuted in his public life on the occasion of the Fourth Pioneers Congress, when he caught the attention of Raul Castro

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz, Camagüey, 19 August 2016 — The Revolution needs to constantly reinvent new ideological struggles, constructing new heroes that meet the demands of the so-called ideological work with the masses. Thus, after the stage of the founding epic there was the release in 1988 of Orlando Cardoso Villavicencio, who had been held for nearly 12 years by Eritrean rebels, later there was the ideological battle for the return of Elian Gonzalez and finally, the struggle began for the return of the Five Heroes imprisoned by the “empire.” The saga of revolutionary heroes could not be finalized once and for all, and now a new one is being constructed, Jorge Enrique Jerez Belisario, otherwise known as Jorgito the Disabled.

At his birth in the Provincial Maternity Hospital of Camagüey on March 8, 1993, in the toughest year of the Special Period, Jorgito suffered physiological jaundice complicated by symptoms of a generalized infection by the bacterium Klebsiella and was finally diagnosed with Infantile Cerebral Palsy. This information is public, taken from Ecured, Cuba’s official on-line encyclopedia. However, we Camagüeyanos who knew the Ana Betancourt Maternal Hospital in those years knew that it was a time of every man for himself, and suspect there could have been poor medical practices caused by the lack of hospital resources. Continue reading “Jorgito, The New Revolutionary Icon / 14ymedio, Ignacio de la Paz”

ETECSA Restores Internet Service in Navigation Rooms and Wifi Hotspots / 14ymedio

A group of young people connect to the internet in a wifi hotspot in Havana. (EFE)
A group of young people connect to the internet in a wifi hotspot in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The Cuban Telecommunications Company SA (ETECSA) said Thursday that “internet access from navigation rooms and wifi hotspots was restored in 17 August, along with access to ENET.” The disruption led to a flood of complaints from customers of the telephone monopoly.

Etecsa apologized for the inconvenience caused by service failures, problems that have become common in recent months. In mid-July, the company announced problems with Nauta e-mail access from cellphones due to maintenance work.

In November 2015 users were unable to send or receive e-mails for six days, a problem that was repeated a month later and resolved after a delay of more than 24 hours.

The wireless network known as WIFI_ETECSA began operations on 1 July 2015, and now counts more than 80 navigation hotspots in the country. Each day about 200,000 people use this infrastructure to access the vast World Wide Web.

Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)
Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The tabloid with the updates of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party Guidelines, is distributed lately without fanfare. The few copies on sale in the newsstands and the majority of people’s lack of interest in official documents, suggest that very soon they will be forgotten. However, to not analyze or question them would be another form of meekly accepting their principles.

From the opposition sector voices are heard describing these new party directives as “tricks and traps from a caste that maintains itself in power.” The foreign press, for its part, has been quick to draw conclusions after a sidelong glance at them, but few have plunged into othe274 points plagued with grandiloquent propositions, commitments that seem to be dreams, and a syntax that is difficult to understand. Continue reading “Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

“Upgrading” Effort Paralyzes ETECSA Internet Service / 14ymedio

 Nauta internet service continues among the worst in the state communications monopoly. (EFE)
Nauta internet service continues among the worst in the state communications monopoly. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2016 – Connecting to the internet from state WiFi rooms and hotspots, became more complicated this morning after the interruption suffered by the web browsing service provided by the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA). The interruption has left a trail of frustrated users and thousands of calls of complaints against state monopoly.

The service outage is also being felt in navigation rooms with the company’s own terminals, as confirmed by this newspaper through a phone call to the 118 repair number and a tour of several of the internet rooms in the Cuban capital. According to an employee, the company is undertaking “upgrading work on the network to improve service,” but she was unable to say when the service would be restored. Continue reading ““Upgrading” Effort Paralyzes ETECSA Internet Service / 14ymedio”

The Cradle Of Illegal Lobster / 14ymedio

 Surgidero de Batabanó is a fishing port with a little more than 5,000 inhabitants. (14ymedio)
Surgidero de Batabanó is a fishing port with a little more than 5,000 inhabitants. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 August 2016 – The Surgidero de Batabanó, a fishing port with a little over 5,000 inhabitants, seems a place forgotten by modernity and development. However, among its humble homes and deteriorating streets lies one of the main centers of the illegal lobster trade that supplies Havana.

With an abundance of shellfish on the seabed, the economy of this coastal area, belonging to the province of Mayabeque, centers around the Industrial Fish Company and the Seafood Factory, but also the illegal capture of the queen of Cuban tables, the demand for which has grown with the increase in tourism and the expansion of private restaurants. Continue reading “The Cradle Of Illegal Lobster / 14ymedio”

Cuban Migrants Trapped In Panama Have Nowhere To Go / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Cubanos-atraviesan-Darien-Panama-Cortesia_CYMIMA20160818_0001_13
Cubans crossing the Darien jungle to get to Panama. (Courtesy to ’14ymedio’)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 18 August 2016 — After escaping deportation in Colombia, some 650 Cubans managed to cross the border through the Darien jungle area and are now in the Panamanian town of La Miel. They have been assisted by the Panamanian government’s “Controlled Flow” operation, and may continue their journey but face an uncertain route affected by the decision of the countries of the region to deny them passage.

“Costa Rica is a supportive country, but it has no ability to receive more migrants,” Maurice Hererra Ulloa, the nation’s Minister of Communications told 14ymedio. “Some 66 Cubans have been returned to Panama. Our message is clear: Costa Rica is not going to receive them. The border with Nicaragua remains absolutely closed and there will be no way to get to the United States.” Continue reading “Cuban Migrants Trapped In Panama Have Nowhere To Go / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Six Cuban Boat People Still Missing In The Gulf Of Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Rafters missing along the Mexican coast. (14ymedio)
Rafters missing along the Mexican coast. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 17 August 2016 — Thirteen men were determined to leave the misery, despair and weariness of lives filled with official propaganda. For months they crafted a boat on the cost of the Isle of Youth, off Cuba’s southern coast. In absolute secrecy to avoid being betrayed, they prepared a catamaran and stocked it with food and water. They wanted to get to Central America or Mexico, to continue their journey overland to the United States, an ever more frequented route, but a month and a half later they are still missing at sea.

Noyri Muñoz, a Cuban, 47, who is the sister of one of the rafters, explains that, of the 13, only seven have returned to Cuba, deported from Mexico a month ago. On returning to their own country, they do not want to talk to the press nor with the families of the missing. Their silence is more eloquent. Of then other six, there is no news. “The sea is so vast, perhaps it swallowed them,” she commented from Spain, where she lives. Continue reading “Six Cuban Boat People Still Missing In The Gulf Of Mexico / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Activists Ask Pope Francis to Take an Interest in Health of Guillermo Fariñas / 14ymedio

Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy / File)
Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy / File)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2016 — In a letter to Pope Francis, eight activists from the Anti-Totalitarian Forum (FANTU) have asked “his Holiness to take an interest” in the condition of regime opponent Guillermo Fariñas after 27 days on hunger strike.

The signatories are appealing to the Bishop of Rome to “keep Fariñas in your prayers” and said that the 2010 recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is risking his life to demand “compliance with Cuba’s existing laws to stop the violence of some Cubans against others.” Continue reading “Activists Ask Pope Francis to Take an Interest in Health of Guillermo Fariñas / 14ymedio”

Cuban Military Takes Over Businesses of Havana Historian’s Office / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mario Penton

In its 23 years of work the City of Havana Office of the Historian has created more than 13,000 jobs directly and thousands indirectly. (14ymedio)
In its 23 years of work the City of Havana Office of the Historian has created more than 13,000 jobs directly and thousands indirectly. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar (Havana), Mario Penton (Miami), 16 August 2016 — “Do you see that building? Ten years ago it was full of stinking water, rats and trash. When people passed through the doorway a balcony could fall on their head. Today it is housing, thanks to the work of Eusebio,” Mirna says excitedly.

After expressing her gratitude to the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHCH) for having provided her a home, this 68-year-old woman confesses her concern for the future of this institution, which has passed gradually into the hands of the military. Continue reading “Cuban Military Takes Over Businesses of Havana Historian’s Office / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mario Penton”