90% of the private cars in Cuba don’t offer any protection to drivers and passengers / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Most of the private cars in Cuba are old, built around 1939, 1941, 1955 etc. None of them have seat belts or airbags, which increases the number of fatalities in an accident.

Private cars don’t have seat belts or airbags at the steering wheel. Also government vehicles are like this too, and their passengers a vulnerable in any accident.

A government driver in the Instituto Nacional de Educación Física y Recreación (INDER), who preferred to remain anonymous says “I have been driving a (Russian made) Lada 2107 for two years and it hasn’t had seat belts since the day they gave it to me.”

A mounted policeman explained that most of the traffic is made up of old cars. “Many of the old cars have brakes which rely on water with detergent in place of proper brake fluid” explained the traffic cop.

Ricardo López, 35-years-old, says he has a friend who places his trust in water and detergent rather than spend money on brake fluid. “The reality is that drivers trying to save money don’t buy brake fluid,” added López

The modifications to the old cars: exchanged motors, transmissions, gearboxes, and even loss of the structure of the vehicle in order to get more people in. These things are everywhere in the streets offering private transport services, “But nobody bothers about safety,” says Carlos Ramírez, aged 42, a passenger.

Adrian González, 32, comments that the car he is driving is a ’52 Chevrolet, “the car has had its chassis modified to carry more people,” says González

An accident in Independence Avenue (Boyeros) is usually catastrophic.

Independence Avenue is one of the roads where you get many old adapted cars, which are made into racing cars and which are driven at excessive speed.

Private cars are mostly ancient machines with a very rigid chassis which in turn adds to the danger because they it do not absorb the force of the impact, while modern cars are designed to absorb the force of impact, as well as having the benefit of seat belts and air bags on the steering wheel.

But not everyone has the opportunity to buy a one- to three-year-old car. The economy doesn’t permit it, the old crates are more affordable in terms of paying back the loan.

Translated by GH

25 March 2013

Cholera Came to Stay / Anddy Sierra Alvarez #Cuba


Avoid cholera. Wash your hands well.

With the outbreak of Cholera in the eastern provinces, to cite an example: Granma province.  Result of contaminated or stagnant water for several days.  Citizens obliged to store water because of declining supplies on the part of state entities.

When the outbreak’s development reached its peak, the government took small, practically secret measures.  Many of the Cuban citizens resident in other provinces, principally the Havanans, found out about the problems in the east of the country by rumors finally proven by an advisory notice from the Minister of Public Health, in which he said that there was a total of three deaths, all of them older (elderly) and several infections.  “But the outbreak was controlled,” said the source.

When the government decided to take measures on the trips from any province to the affected corners.  Already many Havanans with relatives came and went from the affected places.  Because of having taken the measure of suspending trips to the affected provinces, it was not the correct solution.  With a short note of important character, alerting Cuban citizens that no matter the means or how important the problems were, not to travel to the country’s east.  Because of having a Cholera outbreak in said areas.

The government knows that Cubans do not use the state transportation routes to the provinces. More trips occur on their own than as passage from the bus terminal, on trains, or the airport.

Today in the Cuban capital we are facing the same problems as in the east.  We have an outbreak of Cholera that the authorities have not wanted to recognize.  With meetings in the education centers alerting their workers that there is an outbreak of “acute diarrhea.”  A township like that of “Cerro,” already four known deaths from the virus.

How did said outbreak occur?

Preparation for years that the island had in losing little by little the public sanitation, the international doctors or the foreign students.  Many of them coming from poor places and away from civilization.  Where illnesses like Cholera, AIDS, etc., have developed strongly.

Drinking water contaminated by sewage water, result of the exploitation that the hydraulic networks suffer that on letting the water flow gives way to the entry of rubbish.  By having breakdowns in the main networks mentioned.

Today the country has a very poor public health service, the loss of customs on the part of Cuban society, bureaucracy that delays taking action to eradicate something.  They make of the locality an area where illnesses are favored.

Translated by mlk

January 21 2013

Interview with a State Security Official / Anddy Sierra Alvarez #Cuba

At 2:00 PM on November 22, 2012, I was interviewed at the People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) Capri Station, located in the Arroyo Naranjo municipality of Havana, with the Lieutenant called “Junior” from Department 21 (the State Security department that deals with dissidents).

The interview began after 20 minutes since he could not find a place to hold it:

Official: (He introduced himself as a Department of State Security (DSE) official but did not show identification, and began)

What has motivated you to do these types of things? I believe it’s probably due to something that happened in your past, such as losing in sports, or due to the time you were assaulted and not fairly treated.

Interviewee: That was in the past, it no longer interests me.

Official: How did you find out about the course in journalism from the United States Interests Section (SINA)?

Interviewee: Well, I don’t remember well, but I think that since 2009 I was in CAPF (Commission of Attention to Prisoners and Relatives), and visiting the embassy I found out about the course.

Official: I did not know that you were from CAPF, why do you write blogs? referring to everything published that is true and not invented.

The official continues to ask me why I’m writing blogs because it is not in line with my character. You have nothing in common with those people, you are a professional, he says.

Interviewee: I’m not the only professional, Miriam Celaya, Yoani Sánchez, Reinaldo Escobar, and many others.

Official: Yes, but there are only a few.

Interviewee: That’s what you say.

Official: Tell me what you intend to change with what you are doing?

Interviewee: Everything that’s wrong. Explain to me why is Estaban Lazo in charge after he had the problem with the pig farm in Oriente.”Nothing happened because the people  were not made aware of the situation and instead of being ousted, he was promoted”. You profess that children in Cuba do not go hungry and if you go to Lumumba there are children there who go to bed with bread in their stomachs but don’t have shoes to wear to school. If this is a free country why is there no freedom of expression?

Official: Well, freedom of expression is relative all around the world. If you watch the news you see protesters suppressed with tear gas and beatings. Here we don’t do that.

Interviewee: So why was Rodiles kicked on the floor?

Official: In reality it did not happen that way. Rodiles resisted arrest.

Interviewee: But that did not warrant being brutally beaten.

Official: What happens is that sometimes, due to insufficient police training, some errors are made. That’s why we are always there to make sure nothing happens. However, department 21 does not look after people like Rodiles, it is department 3.

Interviewee: Then you don’t need to look after me.

Official: Yes, you are from CAPF

Interviewee: I was.

Well, now you know what I think. Tell me, what motivates you to be an official?

Official: Well, “that none of the hungry children in the world are Cuban, that none of the illiterate people in the world are Cuban, that education is free, that violence in Cuba is minute compared to the world index,” he said.

Interviewee: So you are the one that takes care of me.

Official: Yes, since you graduated from the course on journalism.

Interviewee: Then if something happens, I’ll come to look for you.

Official: Yes, you tell them to find the Official Junior from 21 and that’s it. Keep in mind that how the situation evolves depends on you. We are here to maintain a dialogue, not to confront. That depends on you. I don’t wish to call you some day to say, look, what you published here is a lie because I saw that person, “this, this, and this are lies”.

Interviewee: Look, the first time that I was taken prisoner to the Unidad jail in Lisa (Havana municipality), I was interviewed by a young lieutenant like you whose name was Marcos, and he said I was making fun of him, and that he was going to hit me. What would have happened if he had hit me?

Official: You would have been in a fight.

Interviewee: No, if I defend myself by hitting him in the head with the chair, what would have happened given that I did not start the fight? “They would have accused me of disobeying the authorities and other things.” Who would have lost? Me.

Official: Stop, I hope that when I send you a citation, you’ll come.

Interviewee: No, I hope this is the last encounter, why come back to you now that you know what I think.

Official: We need to continue to meet because we must talk about other things, and also one day I’ll tell you not to go to Estado de Sats — to make an example of you, if you go I’ll put you in prison. “I hope that when we talk man to man you’ll have the decency to do what I say.”

Interviewee: Well, if you know that Yoani works for the CIA why don’t you jail her?  What’s published in the newspapers and broadcast on television must be lies since you don’t arrest her, only a way to defame her so that people stay away from her.

Official: I don’t like to talk about people when they are not present, but Yoani is a mercenery. If you don’t know what that means, it means “people who are paid to serve the interest of a foreign country.”

Interviewee: Well in regard to the citations, send them personally to me, don’t go through my mother. If you do, I will not come. That’s personal.

Official: The reason is that you need to be at home but yet you stay elsewhere.

Interviewee: I have rights, don’t I?

Official: Tell me the number of your house.

Interviewee: I don’t remember the number. There are three houses with the same address.

Official: Which is it? The first, second, or third?

Interviewee: The second one

Official: The one with hibiscus on the fence.

Interviewee: All the fences there have hibiscus.

Official: Then what’s the color of the house.

Interviewee: Yellow.

Official: Is it the only one of the three that’s yellow?

Interviewee: Yes

Official: The name of your girlfriend I think is a name of an older person: Caridad, María, Carmen. I have it written with the first surname, I don’t have her last surname, so that I can look for her address and give you the citation personally.

Interviewee: OK

Official: What’s her last surname?

Interviewee: What’s her first surname?

Official: I don’t remember. I have everything written down, but I can’t remember everything.

Interviewee: Caridad is her name. Last surname is Torres.

After two hours of conversation he told me I could go.

Translated by: Marina Villa

November 26 2012

Currently, Havana Is Suffering the Same as the People of Santiago /Anddy Sierra Alvarez

In spite of the internationally offered help, Havana suffers because of damage in the province of Santiago de Cuba caused by Hurricane Sandy.  Food is in itself the major preoccupation of the Havanan.

The government has forgotten that it is in charge of keeping economic balance in the streets.  Chickpeas no longer circulate, nor beans in general, nor are there any state markets.

Nevertheless private individuals are those who have beans; black, red, kidney or white, garbanzos and lentils. But the unaffordable prices have risen, for example: The black bean, the one most eaten, costs 18 pesos a pound from 12 pesos that it used to cost and the price from the state is 8 pesos a pound.

We Havanans are at the disposal of the Santiago people, let there be not the slightest doubt, but our government’s lack of economic knowledge makes every corner of the country feel the crisis as if it were in the same location as the tragedy.

So, who controls the situation, the self-employed or the government?

Translated by mlk

November 12 2012

Estado de Sats Enveloped in Venemous Spines / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Like every other citizen, the invitation to the Estado de Sats is taken with enthusiasm, in order to take part in a work of illumination dealing with human development, both spiritual and socially.

This brings up the understandable work schedule for those who work for the Estado. The positive culture projects help offer tranquility and happiness to an island with little room to breathe.The project helps break the silence of those who are in fear and oppresed.

The repressive regime is felt stronger after every encounter, fitting perfectly with the motto and hymn of the enforcers of the state: “What will you do, retire… or be retired?”

Words so simple make you reflect; and for the most part, people do retire. There’s no need to seek physical punishment if your objectives are set aside by the desperation of those who are your superiors, who in fact fear losing their power in a not too distant future.

Translated by: Carlos Andrés Garcia, BC CASA

October 22 2012

Cuban Public Health System and "Quality" / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

“There is no greater honor than to be the guardian of public health.” Fidel Castro

Cuba boasts of its public health system, and its hospitals are overflowing with cases of viral dengue fever. This outbreak is caused by this country’s poor performance in supplying water to homes, especially in the capital province.

The township Arroyo Naranjo was one of the most affected by dengue in 2012, after which the measure was taken to suspend the water supply every other day (one day on, one day off).

According to the official version, the supply of water to this area was every four days, because four motors were broken out of six total and the measure taken would prevent the remaining two working motors from breaking down because of overload.

More than seven months passed, and the problem with the water supply continued, the desperate citizens began to store water in pots, tanks, etc.  With passing days, this accumulated water prepared the conditions for the Dengue-carrying mosquito larvae, creating a considerable hatchery in each home.

The sprayings and the groups fighting the mosquitoes were diminishing with each passing month, the visits to the homes and the sprayings were increasingly rare.  Then the cases of dengue began on a grand scale.

The “Covadonga” hospital located in the capital township “Cerro” like the “Julio Trigo” and the “Enrique Cabrera” (National Hospital) were overrun with cases of dengue, but none was  hemorrhagic.

Then!  The government decided to announce that the water would be on every other day for this township, like it had before.  It all happened because the government had no interest in fixing the motors so that the citizens could have safe water.

Only Cuban problems are solved after there is a big, harmful event among the people.  The government’s system has shown this throughout these 53 years of “REVOLUTION.”

Translated by mlk.

September 10 2012

Estado de Sats in Troubled Waters / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

A Security of State operation carried out in cooperation with the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), blocked participants from attending Estado de Sats this Friday, August 10, 2012; but those in charge of the Cinema at All Costs didn’t cancel the projection of the documentary “Knockout” planned for this day. Around 30 people participated.

The Estado de Sats projects was sabotaged by Cuban State Security in the afternoon. Starting at 6:45 pm the participants began to arrive, but not all of them could reach Antonio Rodiles’ house, several were arrested, others on seeing the wave of police decided to return home.

Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzales worried about the low attendance, the comments of those fortunate to arrive on time — 7:10 pm — suspected they were letting people pass who were: bloggers, writers, independent journalists, lawyers, etc. They went out to verify their suspicions and were right.

Antonio Rodiles commented that he had heard about a possible act of repudiation planned for in front of his house, through a friend, and had to go to the 5th police station, at 7th A and 62nd in Miramar where he delivered a document to the 2nd Station Chief, badge number 0037, warning of possible consequences of such acts and provocations.

The projection of the documentary took place, it was made by Dr. Darsi Ferrer, and was about 11 champion boxers, a sport that has brought much glory to the country (Cuba), all of them athletes with one great dream, to participate in the professional boxing league, but time passed and they retired from the active sport and their dream vanished.

Currently these champion athletes fight to live well, against unemployment, the little attention paid to them by the government and many of them lose themselves in alcohol to forget.

Agustín López (Blogger) says, “This documentary reminds me of the Roman circus, where the athletes (gladiators) fought to entertain the people and the leaders. The profits were divided between the personalities in power.”

The activities ended at 10:00 pm and there were still some police circling the area; of those fortunate in having seen the documentary none were arrested.

August 13 2012

Inventing at the Airport / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

People are preoccupied with how to pay the tariffs at the airport, especially on medicine and food.

The new restrictions for travelers increase the tension on the island. “With the tax on food, there is less coming into the country, especially to Cuban families,” said Jesús Reyes, a 42-year-old Cuban, recently arrived from Italy.

Medicines are very important, because when some medication is needed that can’t be found on the island, a family member is asked to send it from abroad. Everyone knows about the “development” of public health in Cuba, so they are limiting the amount that enters for Cuban families.

As for food, this tax already existed but was suspended in 2008 because of the emergency caused by hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma. Food was allowed to come in for free.

It seems the government now has the food supply guaranteed and can satisfy popular demand or simply that harder times are coming.

Translated by Regina Anavy

July 30 2012

Cholera / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

CóleraThe outbreak of cholera in Cuba is increasing, and the capital could have 10 cases. Still, the official media have not commented about it.

A source from the Capri polyclinic says there was a meeting in his workplace to learn that in the province — Ciudad Habana — there are 10 cases of cholera in the Covadonga hospital, located in the Havana municipality of Cerro.

The outbreak started in Granma province in the municipality of Manzanillo. The government quickly suspended trips to Granma, the affected province, and didn’t publicize the news until the death of three elderly people, justifying their death by the deterioration of health they had due to their advanced age.

Because of the delayed public alert by the mass media, citizens from Havana traveled to Granma province. Suspending the trips on the part of the government was not sufficient, because not all Cubans going to the eastern provinces always use that type of transport. Some neighbor or family member with their own transport can go see their family in the country and save money that way. Also, the crisis in the water supply to homes could have provoked the outbreak now that the water tends to go bad since it’s stagnant for several days.

If the official press were more immediate, the lack of knowledge on the part of citizens would have been avoided, and thus fatalities would occur with less frequency.

Translated by Regina Anavy

July 9 2012






























































































A Paradise in Destruction / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

What did the triumph of the Cuban revolution accomplish? A lot: it changed what should not have been changed, destroyed all of the island’s prosperity. It focused on the benefits for the government and forgot the people; it deceived, lied and used many followers, deluded at first by promises of a false freedom and independence for Cuba.

What did they do? They made us dependent on the Socialist camp and didn’t care about the future in their eagerness to demonstrate that they can come out ahead without help from its neighbor to the North; this governmental pride oppresses us more each day.

What do they do? Nothing: to invent a blocade that always existed, mocking this measure by having the help of the Soviet Union, and today said embargo is brought out in order to explain and justify the scarcity of all that was promised.

What have they demonstrated? The lack of preparation and the ambition for power; that we are being led by incompetents or by people who love regression.

The inexplicable! An island surrounded by ocean yet there is scarcity of salt, there is scarcity of fish; 53 years of government and we have nothing.

The explicable! We are governed by an ambitious dictatorship of destructive power, with ideological methods based on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, that force one to adhere to its beliefs or to be punished by death or to be exiled forever. They are people who do not know how to find equilibrium because they want to demonstrate their absolute perfection — and that doesn’t exist, not even nature is perfect!

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 2 2012

Petroleum / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The economic debt grows as Cuba searches for black gold using geological studies that, to date, have mistakenly stated that the Gulf of Mexico – an area of 112,000 square kilometers – is one of the main petroleum producing basins in the world. These studies indicated a high potential for the discovery of new hydrocarbon reserves based on drilling results from the first well, Jagüey-1x, in the exclusive economic zone off Cuba’s coast.

The government knows that if it were to find petroleum in the Gulf, it would be an escape route from debt and a boost to the Cuban economy. It would also mean an end to its dependence on Venezuelan petroleum, which now carries with it the risk of a change in government as a result of Hugo Chavez’s looming and inevitable death.

The risk contracts with companies from India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Venezuela, Norway, Angola, Russia and Spain. The latter quit given the lack of results from the first well drilled and the risks the Basque country would take by investing money without positive results.

The braced ceilings of the Cuban economy are shaken by being at the mercy of fruitless endeavors where luck is one’s best ally. Should petroleum not be found in deep Cuban waters, it would be yet another negligence on behalf of the Cuban leaders of the fact that nature does not favor us now.

The government chose to plunge itself into a game of “we find petroleum or we go adrift”. The end is always uncertain, the future takes you by surprise and  the present is to be lived, but nobody knows what Raul Castro has in mind, however they have Fulgencio Batista as an example: he took off with all of Cuba’s money and lived until his final days.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 28 2012

The Presidency and Family / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

The cases of corruption involving Cuban officials who served in Fidel Castro’s regime are increasing. Or Raúl Castro is simply switching Fidel’s men for his own.

Raúl Castro replaced Fidel Castro on February 24, 2008 due to an illness that had almost led to the latter’s death. Subsequently, we began hearing media reports about the replacement of ministers and vice-presidents, and the astonishing disgrace of Felipe Pérez Roque* and Carlos Lage Dávila*, the physician who brought financial ruin to the island – one of many such people.

There was virtually nothing the men around Fidel did not steal. After fifty years these cases of corruption finally came to light. And yet with all the security at the government’s disposal, it nearly failed to discover a single one. The fact is Raul now wants to govern with men in whom he has confidence and knows what they are capable of “doing.”

As it happens, Fidel’s cohorts did as they liked in Cuba as long as he remained president. The president who wanted everyone to be equal had determined that a lazy revolutionary pioneer should earn as much as a college graduate.

Little by little the country is being militarized while members of civil society are increasingly being branded as “mercenaries” by the Cuban government.

*Translator’s note: Felipe Pérez Roque was Minister of Foreign Affairs until he was ousted in 2009. Carlos Lage Dávila was a Vice-President of the Council of State until he also was ousted in 2009.

Translated by: Maria Montoto and Anonymous

June 27 2012

Critical Observatory Forced by State Security to Quickly End its Activity in Karl Mark Park / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Critical Observatory put out a call for a gathering inKarl Mark Park on 12 May 2012 at 2 p.m. Its objective was to show solidarity with the movement of the outraged (May 15th movement), and Cuban State Security deployed in the area around Carlos II and Belascoain Streets.

Taken prisoner were Eugenio Leal and Miriam Celaya, “They put me in a car and put me out on 42nd Street in Playa,” said Celaya by phone. She lives a block from the park.

The zone was full of cops from the PNR (National Revolutionary Police) and the political police (State Security) were there dressed in plain clothes, sitting in the park and at the corners, giving information about what had just happened in the activity in the park.

Regina Coyula went by the place, but at 20 minutes after 2:00 there was already no one there. According to another source, the group arrived, had a small and quick ceremony that lasted one minute, and left. State Security didn’t give them time to fill the area, for fear of some demand on the part of those present.

An hour after the activity, the political police and the PNR were still in the area, showing signs of exhaustion, all sweaty and very annoyed.

May 14 2012

The New Economic Strategies are Bad for the Population / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

Every day that goes by Cuban citizens feel the mistakes of a government that doesn’t know how to run a country nor how to rescue it from underdevelopment.

The government-prepared Guidelines discussed previously do not solve anything, they only reflect the desperation to seek uncertain horizons while waiting for a fluke to achieve a positive outcome for the country.

On many occasions the government has demonstrated its incompetence and for those who still haven’t opened their eyes, or rather to those who don’t have the courage to contradict the “Revolution” because of they haven’t noticed in 53 years it would be a real serious hypocrisy.

The dismissal of over 500,000 employees put a lot of people adrift and the solution to prevent chaos was the empowerment of licenses for the self-employed, now called vampires.

This great folly makes all the possibilities of increasing the economy unrealistic because creating this new form of work without the necessary preparation means that what the State sells for 80 cents in national money (Cuban pesos), the vampire sells for 2.00 pesos in national money, slowly bleeding the population to death.

But there is a no choice between buying in the State or the private market.  Incredibly, the private market doesn’t run out of product, while in many cases the State has no products to sell, forcing the Cuban to bleed financially.

But other limiting measures to prevent buying in large quantities, that affect the population, come to light, like limiting the purchase of packages of croquettes — 4 packages per person — which are acquired at 5.00 Cuban pesos and sold at 10.00 Cuban pesos by the self-employed.

But as the Cuban always manages to circumvent these limitations, the government can’t find a solution for this situation.

April 23 2012

ETECSA One Option … / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

ETECSA: Telecommunications Corporation of Cuba.

A new strategy, a new option, improvements in their cell phone services is what Cubans were expecting starting February 1st, 2012. The offer that a message would cost 00.09 cuc was better than the previous 00.16 cuc, it was encouraging, the cost of a call was better since the person who called also had to pay for it, similar to the fixed lines, and the cost was 00.45 cuc per minute, better than the previous options since using *88 the person who called had to pay, but each minute would cost “00.60” cuc, similar to *99, where the person who was calling was charging the cost of the call to the receiver for the same tariff of “00.60” cuc.

The offer is not bad since there is an improvement, not big, but something is better than nothing. What happens then to ETECSA clients? Why is there a discomfort among clients?

The service they activated for customers so that the receiver would not have to pay for the call, was to activate *88, I mean,  the person who wants to phone a friend searches in the cellphone contacts and the number appears with *88 activated, it does not appear on the screen of the person who calls, but on the screen of the receiver, but the number of the calling person does not appear on that of the receiver, for example: -00535387234588- so that the name does no appear, despite the fact that it is in the telephone contacts!

The option would be to save it as it appears and one does not feel uncomfortable not knowing who is calling. But there is another problem, as it was saved the same way it had appeared in the example above, one can not send messages. The other option is to save it twice, one to identify the name if it is in the contacts and another one to send messages.

The only hope we have is to expect this small, but inconvenient, problem to improve, for the use of the cell phone.

Translated by AnonyGy

February 6 2012