Ivan Garcia, 27 May 2016 — As of three weeks ago there have been power cuts of up to three hours in different parts of Havana. Sometimes longer.
“Friday, April 29 in Altahabana (a neighbourhood in the southeast of the city), the power was cut off from eleven at night until four-thirty in the morning. Because of the heat, I spent the whole night waving a fan over my eight-month-old baby. Two days earlier, there was a three-hour outage in the afternoon,” I was told by Magda, who works at Comercio Interior.
Ivan Garcia, 19 May 2016 — The raindrops tinkle on the zinc roof of a greasy hut used to store sacks of fertilizer, agricultural tools, and the various ancient contraptions that are always be a nuisance to keep in the house.
Osvaldo, the sixty-five-year-old owner of a farm southeast of Havana, calmly takes a drag on a cigarette butt, scratches his head with his thick fingers, which look like twisted meat hooks, and asks his son, “Where the hell have you left the wrench to open the water pump?” Then, once the engine has been started, he runs through the rain back to the entrance of his house. Continue reading “Why Cuban Agriculture Is Inefficient / Iván García”
Ivan Garcia, 14 May 2016 — Eight months haven’t been enough for the state-owned employer in the tourism sector to hire Yasmani, 23, a black guy nearly six feet talk who is perfecting his English in a private academy in Havana and who has wasted time and money learning the secrets of golf at a club south of the city.
Almost a year ago, on a night of drinking and reggaeton, Yasmani, with a degree in tourism, met a British businessman who wants to do business in Cuba in high class tourism.
“Do you know golf?” the man asked me. “I told him a remembered reading somewhere about Tiger Woods, little more. He said to try to learn the sport, with my command of English and the education I have, maybe I could get a job as a caddy,” said Yasmani, speaking from the doorway of his house. Continue reading “Cuba: Capitalism From Afar / Iván García”
Ivan Garcia, 28 April 2016 — What do the autocratic Castro brothers, the solemn Vatican, Islamic fundamentalists and the madhouse that is North Korea have in common? The answer is simple: devotion to dogma, lack of transparency and unchecked caste-based power.
Ivan Garcia, 11 May 2016 — Daniel Llorente Miranda, 52, is a spontaneous dissident. He doesn’t belong to any opposition party, nor is he an un-gagged journalist. He is on his own.
Last 22 March, with the stars and stripes on his shoulders, Llorente found himself in the area of the United State Embassy, waiting to greet President Barack Obama, after he met with a group of opponents, activists and alternative journalists.
Ivan Garcia, 1 May 2016 — Guillermo tries to run away, to avoid the stones the kids are throwing at him, as if he were a doll stuck on a target, but his legs, which are atrophied and beginning to go gangrenous because of his diabetes, can’t respond to the urgent messages from his brain.
So he tries to hide behind some small bushes, but the stones keep flying around his head. It’s four in the afternoon on a normal day in La Vibora, and, without anything better to do, the pair of youngsters do their target practice with an old man of over 80 who can hardly support himself on his crutches.
Ivan Garcia, 2 April 2016 — The dilapidated old house where the Varona family lives, in the Lawton district of Havana, could serve very well as a set for a television series about marginalisation and violence.
The front wall cries out for a coat of paint. Cracked roof tiles threaten to fall off. And inside, the house is subdivided into seven small apartments.
Agustín, one of tenants, has an informal business selling building materials. Therefore he has been able to improve his apartment with Italian ceramic floor tiles, build a tiny bathroom with a modern shower and hot and cold running water. Continue reading “Broken Families in Cuba / Iván García”
Ivan Garcia, 25 April 2016 — It is a Black Friday of a different sort. In the United States the morning after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas discount season, where people wait in long lines to buy electronics, computers and clothing. But in Cuba on Friday, April 22 — a date when the military government has reduced prices by 20% on a variety of grocery items — there are no lines
Ivan Garcia, 22 March 2016 — Just when Air Force One landed at 2 pm at the Andrew military base on the way to Havana, forty-six Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) walked in file along the central promenade of 5th Avenue, with photos, placards with slogan against the autocracy, and photos of political prisoners.
Starting eleven months ago, every Sunday, these women take part in a march which always ends in blows, detentions and insults between Castro supporters, and the opposition.
Ivan Garcia, 9 April 2016 — Quiet has returned to the streets of Carraguao, a neighborhood in the suburb of Cerro. There are no more patrol cars, no local police or beefy foreigners who look like U.S Secret Service agents walking around and checking everything out. But two days after it took place, Berta — a fifty-six-year-old housewife — remembers every detail of Barack Obama’s visit to the Latin American Stadium here.
“When The Beast (the presidential limousine) drove by, the the excitement was tremendous,” she says. “People were shooting videos on their cell phones and chanting ’Obama, Obama.’ A pothole on my street corner that had been there for twenty-five years was patched for the president’s visit as if by magic. They painted all the houses and fixed all the streets. People now call him ’Representative Obama.’ In one week he solved more problems than our local representative, a dim-wit who can’t solve anything.” Continue reading “The Obama Revolution and the Average Cuban / Iván García”
Ivan Garcia, 21 April 2016 — He is no longer the beefy guy in the olive green uniform with a Russian pistol in his holster who would give improvised, hours-long speeches in a public square or television studio until he became hoarse.
Ivan Garcia, 17 April 2016 — A little bent and dressed in civilian clothes, with a dark blue suit, light blue shirt, no tie, gold metallic glasses, and a star on his bag, Raul Castro Ruz, 84, president hand-picked by his brother Fidel in 2006, among applause advanced to the dais in the corner of the room in the Palace of Conventions west of Havana.
Ivan Garcia, Havana, 23 March 2016 — Three hours before Obama delivered his speech in the Alicia Alonso Gran Teatro in Havana, while he was having his breakfast of bread and butter and cold lemonade in a private cafe in La Vibora, Anselmo shared ideas with a friend as to what matters the President of the United States would deal with in his address.
“You will see that the man will talk about the lack of democracy and human rights. This chap is not an idiot like Pope Francis or the President of France. He’s going to announce new things”, he said. Continue reading “Goodbye, Obama / Iván García”
Ivan Garcia, Havana, 24 March 2016 — On any given day, getting to the residence of the press attaché for the United States public affairs office in Cuba, located at 7th Avenue and 24th Street in the Havana suburb of Miramar, never takes more than twenty minutes by taxi from the center of Havana.