Antonio Rodiles’ Passport is Renewed / Cubanet

Antonio G. Rodiles (file photo

Antonio G. Rodiles (file photo

cubanet square logoCubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz, Havana, 2 August 2015 — The Cuban government has renewed the passport of political activist and coordinator of the project State of Sats, Antonio Rodiles. In contrast, Ailer Mena Gonzalez, artistic director of this project, remains under immigration regulations, that is, is not allowed to travel.

Rodiles told Cubanet, ” State Security lifted the restriction they had on me, I was about to renew my passport a few hours ago, I can leave the country. In fact I will in the coming hours. But I’ll be back soon to continue, at the side of the Ladies in White, the peaceful struggle for the liberation of political prisoners. The government is afraid of the public space we have conquered. It is no wonder they repress us. We want to rebuild the nation and will not allow them to dehumaize us, even when the call in repressive mobs.”

The activist also said: “I’ll be back before August 14 when John Kerry will Cuba and hoist the flag of the United States embassy. Hopefully he will demand that the Cuban government end the repression against the Ladies in White and we will have a different mentality. ”


Latest News: At Least Five Dead in Building Collapse in Havana Vieja / Cubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz

Site of a previous building collapse in Havana

Site of a previous building collapse in Havana

Cubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz, Havana (developing news), 15 July 2015 – At least five people died, according to preliminary reports, in a building collapse early this morning, at an apartment house at 413 Habana Street between Obrapia and Obispo, in Havana Vieja (Old Havana). Neighbors confirmed this to Cubanet, but other sources mentioned 11 deaths.

The intense rains of the previous afternoon destroyed the weak structure of the multi-family building and caused its partial collapse.

Among the dead are presumed two little girls and a teenage girl aged 18. Search and rescue brigades worked from the very early morning hours looking for any survivors who might be trapped in the old building.

While this was going on, family members of the victims and of people injured congregated at the polyclinic at Aguiar and Empedrado Streets. The situation is current very tense with regards to social order.

This information will be updated shortly.

The People Speak Very Well of Us / Cubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz

cubanet square logoCubanet, Ernesto García Díaz, Havana, 19 February 2015 — On the morning of Saturday, February 14, in the town of Colón, Matanzas, CubaNet visited with Caridad María Burunate Gómez, a member of the Ladies in White.

To learn more about this dissident who is also a member of the clandestine Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy (PDPLB), we asked her in what year she joined the Ladies In White movement.

She replied, “I started in the Ladies in White of Colón in 2005. I was in touch with other Ladies, but here I began as a volunteer with my sister-in-arms, María Teresa Castellano. We went on foot, dressed in white, to the church, and from the parish to my home. I belonged to the PDPLB, which is presided over by my compatriot Feliz Navarro Rodríguez, who supported us and they are our protectors every Continue reading

We Shall Fight to the End for the Liberty of Cuba / Cubanet, Ernesto Garcia Diaz

From left to right, Guillermo Fariñas, Antonio G. Rodiles, Félix Navarro and  Ángel Moya (Photo: Ernesto García Díaz)

From left to right, Guillermo Fariñas, Antonio G. Rodiles, Felix Navarro and Á”ngel Moya (photo by author)

  • Leaders of the opposition call Obama’s reconciliation with the Cuban government a “betrayal” during a press conference in Havana

Cubanet, Ernesto García Díaz, Havana, 18 December 2014 — From the headquarters of the Estado de SATS project in Miramar, on Wednesday afternoon (12/17/14), Cuban opposition leaders held a press conference for national and international media, to make known their positions regarding the new political stance of the United States towards Cuba.

Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for the Freedom of Thought and Coordinator General of the United Antitotalitarian Front (FANTU), referring to the steps taken by the governments of Cuba and the United States, stated the following:

“We can applaud the release of Alan Gross, who really was used by the Island’s government to blackmail the American administration. But Obama has been inconsiderate with the civil society that is challenging Cuba’s tyrannical government In Miami, back in November of 2013, Barack Obama promised Bertha Soler and me that any action he would take with respect to Cuba would be consulted with the civil society and nonviolent opposition. Obviously this did not occur. These actions are now accomplished facts, they are reality, and Cuban democrats were not taken into account. Continue reading

Microbuses or Transport’s Shame / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

HAVANA, Cuba – In the Cuban capital, two cooperatives operate the old public routes of the so-called taxis-ruteros, microbuses which take passengers from the Parque de El Curita, to four destinations: El Náutico, Alamar, Santiago de las Vegas and La Palma.

Curious to know why the people in Havana speak so ill of these services, I asked the impatient passengers: how frequently do they run? how long do they take to get there? And to various drivers of the vehicles, about the contracts the cooperatives use to lease out the buses.

A driver on the Parque del Curita Micro X line – who didn’t give his name – answered me: ” I do about 16 journeys a day, the microbus has 25 seats, and the fares for them to go to the CNoA (Non-Agricultural Cooperatives), 50 seats for the total return journey, or say 250 pesos. The fare is 5 pesos (CUP), equivalent to 20 cents.”

The driver continued: I carry more than 800 passengers a day, I collect about 4,000 Cuban pesos (equivalent to $160).  In 24 working days I hand over to the association, not less than 96,000 pesos ($3840). First I pay over what is due to the cooperative, which leases me the vehicle, the difference, or what is left over, goes to the drivers, because we are the semi-owners of these microbuses. Did you know we have to repair, clean, and cover the cost of maintenance, for which we have to pay third parties and the CnoA itself?

Another driver went further than his colleague: “After paying the association, I am left with some 1,200 pesos ($48), because as I am going along people get on and off. Those receipts don’t go to the CNoA; we keep them for our costs, because we are driving piles of old junk.

I could recognise that the micro’s driver, as well as his own income, receives about 600 pesos a month from the cooperative ($24), as profit share for being associates.

Waiting 40 minutes in the sun and rain. Photo Ernesto García.

Liliana Ezquerra, vice president of the Provincial Administration Council of Havana, recently emphasized to the media: “When the two transport cooperatives started operating, using vehicles rented from the state, the number of passengers in the capital increased and at a lower fare than the private drivers charge.”

Havanans waiting and getting exasperated in El Curita park. Photo Ernesto Garcia.

One passenger in the Micro X Alamar told me “It’s 8:50 in the morning, I waited 40 minutes for the bus, they arrive here when they feel like, come to fill up with fuel and hang around to go back again or to start their working day. They take time having a snack – how should I know?! The bottom line is, it’s a disaster. They may be cheaper than the privates, but I can’t rely on them to get me to my work on time.”

Another passenger told me: “There is no fixed time for them to start work; but nevertheless the pirates are in the street at 6 in the morning, and at 12 at night they are still providing a service; I don’t even want to talk about the public buses, you can’t even count on finding one at 7:30 at night.”

The third passenger, irritated, assured me: “Look, a microbus just got here and it got lost more than 30 minutes ago. Just so you can see. Look, there it comes, who should I complain to if now they are the owners?

As for me, I took a photo of the delayed bus, because I also spent more than 30 minutes waiting for it.

Cubanet, March 11th 2014.  

Translated by GH

24 March 2014

William Soler Pediatric Hospital Worries the Government / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

William Soler Hospital – Photo by Ernesto García

HAVANA, Cuba – On Saturday morning, the President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Esteban Lazo, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, visited  the William Soler Pediatric Teaching Hospital, located in the Havana municipality of Boyeros. The hospital’s guarded entry is closed for repairs. Emergency cases and patients requiring daily care are treated in the specialty clinics, adjacent to the hospital.

President Lazo came to the Children’s Hospital accompanied by Mercedes López Acea, the Party’s First Secretary in Havana, as well as a delegation of leaders from the health sector.

The center visited by Lazo is experiencing one of the worst infrastructure crises of the last twenty years, which is compromising care to children hospitalized there and impeding the provision of services to other provinces of the country.

The motorcade in which Esteban Lazo arrived – Photo by Ernesto García

The hospital’s situation is critical. Most of its inpatient and operating rooms are worn out from lack of maintenance, which, as shown by this visit, has begun to worry the government, because of unfavorable public opinion.

Esteban Lazo, who holds one of the top positions in the Cuban chain of command, left after spending an hour in the health facility, without providing any statements to those waiting outside.

Cubanet, March 17, 2014, Ernesto García Diaz

Translated by Tomás A.

No-one Knows What Fish They are Buying / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

Fishermen at Playa de El Chivo - Photo Ernesto Garcia

Fishermen at Playa de El Chivo – Photo Ernesto Garcia

Havana, Cuba – At la Playa de El Chivo (El Chivo beach ), on the northeast coast of Havana, at the foot of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro (Three Kings Castle), people carry on fishing for sport and business, between the marine waters and sewage, without the health authorities, environmental authorities or the coastguards taking a responsible attitude. The zone receives thousands of cubic metres of polluted water and its sand dunes are deteriorating as a result of the man’s actions.

The grunt, snapper and barber fish, among others, turn the rocky beach into both a centre for boats which arrive every day to seek their economic support; and at best, some people who are enjoying their leisure and are fishing for sport.

This is going on in the mouth of the submerged sewage outlet pipe which runs from the Havana sewage treatment plant, which filters the solid waste coming from the northern and southern collectors of the capital. A concrete pipe of about 375 metres in length crosses Havana Bay, as far as Casablanca, where they pump the dirty water up to La Cabaña, so that it then falls by gravity down to the El Chivo beach, about 150 metres along the coast.

The most astonishing thing is that many fishermen enter into the area of the lower reefs, without any protection, on the edge of where they are fishing in a contaminated area, breathing in the fetid smell from the drain, which keeps the coastal water cloudy with its permanent discharge from the Havana sewers, whose pipes and canals are not lacking in cracks and leaks. Continue reading

Residents of the “Giron” Building Fear for Their Lives / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

Photo: Library of Congress

Photo: Library of Congress

From the “socialist era,” the building cracks before the astonished gaze of people and the terror of those who live there.

HAVANA, Cuba — The Girón building, on Havana’s Malecon between E and F Streets, in Vedado, is on the point of collapse from its cracked structure. Built in the sixties and opened at the beginning of the seventies, it was designed by Eastern European specialists under the brutalist archetype with feet cast in concrete and steel, with the idea that most of the workers of the Girón Bus plant would live there. Its construction used the sliding mold technique for the first time in Cuba.

FOTOS-PAÑOS-DE-LAS-ESCALERAS-REVENTADOS-225x300This apartment building for families has two blocks of 18 stories with 66 apartments each; two elevators and six passageways every three levels.

For years it has suffered from cracks and leaks, but the Housing Authorities and responsible agencies take into account the obvious concerns of its neighbors, fearful of loosing their lives one day from above.

Since its opening, the building has not been maintained and repaired as its years require, aggravated by receiving the blasts of salt, being located so close to the sea.

Cubanet, 3 February 2014, Ernesto Garcia Diaz

This Country Doesn’t Even Produce Tomatoes / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

tomate-300x228HAVANA, Cuba , January – The productive uselessness of the regime forces it to import vegetables to meet the demands of international tourism, especially tomatoes. The results of the 2013/2014 tomato harvest does not appear in the press and is barely mentioned by the agricultural authorities, due to the huge losses of private producers, who in previous years saw themselves lose their crops due to lack of marketing and the capacity of the processing capacity.

The tomato is the horticultural product of major economic importance for the country, highly demanded by the population and industry, which transforms it into juices, pastas and other derivatives. But since the current harvest began, prices range between 5 and 10 pesos (national currency) per pound, and no price reductions in the offing. This situation has forced people to drastically reduce consumption.

Although there has been no published information on the crops and the current production results, experts on the subject say that one of the causes of the collapse is related to seed varieties and decreased planting areas, in addition to low levels input delivery to non-state producers and poor disease control, lack of chemicals (pesticides and fungicides), which must be imported. Continue reading

Benches For Rent at Bus Stops / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

Two passengers waiting for the bus. Author photo.

HAVANA, Cuba, January 6, 2014, Ernesto García / In Curita Park, located on the block formed by the streets of Reina, Galiano, Águila and Dragones, in Havana, on the initiative a citizen, a seat rental service started  January 3 at the P-12 bus stop (served by articulated buses), for passengers traveling from this site to Santiago de Las Vegas.

The benches were built and designed to seat three people each. The experiment was done with three benches. The charge for their use is 1.00 pesos in national currency (CUP), or one centímino in freely convertible currency (CUC). Now all that’s lacking is for the owner to submit his proposal to the authorities who govern the system of self-employment, to get this activity on the approved list and pay his taxes on it.

The new service relieves the impatience and weariness of passengers who have to wait more than 20 minutes for a bus to take them to their destination, time during which they are exposed to the sun, the rain, the dust and the environmental contamination of toxic gases from traffic and the lack of hygiene and cleanliness in the place. All this given the inability of the appropriate organs, the transport cooperatives and the autonomous shared taxis that could roof the areas at the stops and maintain public facilities.

Ernesto Garcia Diaz

Cubanet | 6 January 2014

Abused Cuban Teachers / Ernesto Garcia Diaz


HAVANA, Cuba , December, – While the celebrations for the Day of the Educator succeeded as a cultural fact, in the Palace of Conventions at the Second Regular Session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, with rhetoric of “the changes are more socialism,” but they did not publicly honor the work of teachers. Nor did they envision real changes to the education sector which urgently needs attention, given the profound problems suffered in Cuban society with regards to the development of values.

It’s worth remembering that the Castro regime, from the early years of its government, transformed a secular educational system into an atheist one. From that point forward, students and teachers studied in the schools in the countryside and teaching outposts.

Since then, Cuban education has remained under the “scientific” doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, idealizing the New Man as if he were sculpted in bronze. Martí’s ideas faded from the schools, to the point where it was questionable to call the Apostle (as we refer to José Martí) our National Hero. Continue reading

Life and Death of Cuban Railways / Ernesto Garcia Diaz

They wait for days in La Coubre Station for a ticket

Havana, Cuba, December 27, – In Havana’s Central Railway Station, they were fumigating — against the Egyptian aedes mosquito — with passengers inside (children, pregnant women, old people), violating all health standards.  And don’t mention freshening up.  They charge a dollar to use the bathrooms.  And even paying, the bathrooms do not have soap or toilet paper.

The self-employed cleaner told us:  “Some time ago the bathrooms lacked water, they were disgusting, they put a bucket for discharge, we washed them without faucets, the broken toilet bowls, the blocked urinals, we rehabbed the service, but we did have to watch that, because they stole even the brooms from us.”

The disaster of the railways

Almost 20 percent of Cuban trains do not leave or arrive on time. Train departures have been reduced. We asked, “How many trains run from Havana to Santiago de Cuba?” Continue reading