A Friend and Cuban Military Official Just Sent Me an Email / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 April 2016 — This will not just be the seventh congress of a communist party condemned to being swallowed up by history. It will be the last.

Cuba is a small island filled with dangerously blinding lights. All this brightness dazzles the opposition. So much so that it cannot even manage to capitalize on the discontent of eleven million Cubans.

This suggests to one segment of the exile community that the rhetorical debate has shifted from victimhood to complicity, that it overestimates a government that is losing power and is struggling to get itself out of a grave that we, the people, have not been able or known how to dig. Continue reading “A Friend and Cuban Military Official Just Sent Me an Email / Juan Juan Almeida”

Obama Invades Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

A Cuban family watching Obama’s speech during an entrepreneurs’ forum in Havana (21 March 2016)

Juan Juan Almeida, 28 March 2016 — I do not generally like rehashing old topics. It tends to squash conversation. But I am making an exception in this case because a critical reader, who in a confrontational tone accused me of being one of Castro’s spies, asked my opinion of President Barack Obama’s speech at Havana’s Gran Teatro Theater.

Time is a better and much wiser judge, and in politics everything is a production, like a Rolling Stone’s concert.

I will try to remain impartial. But for me the visit was an historic event. No sooner had Air Force One touched down in Havana than the topic was trending on all the social networks. Continue reading “Obama Invades Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida”

MININT Confronts What Could Be Its Worst Challenge: Information Theft / Juan Juan Almeida

Raúl Castro pins the title of Hero of the Cuban Republic on division general Carlos Fernández Gondín.

Juan Juan Almeida, 31 March 2016 — Not so long ago there was a rumor that high officials of MINIT had been arrested by the Ministry. In agreement with those implicated in the event and making a clear allusion comparable to Case No. 1 of 1989 [a highly respected Cuban general was executed for drug trafficking], there was speculation about a new report. But the rumor faded away under a suspicious silence and a potent, air-tight cloak of secrecy.

Theories have flaws, and even the Roman Empire lasted four centuries longer than predicted.

What’s certain is that the Division General, Carlos Fernández Gondín, left his office in the MININT building accompanied by a doctor, after an attack of rage that gave him a stroke and left him hospitalized. Continue reading “MININT Confronts What Could Be Its Worst Challenge: Information Theft / Juan Juan Almeida”

Raul Castro and His Retirement Plan / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 March 2016 — It is a few days before the start of the Cuban Communist Party Congress and Raul Castro is counting down the months until his retirement. He has everything more or less figured out. Almost. If you consider everything the president of both the Council of State and the Council of Ministers has said and done in the last two years, it quickly becomes apparent that it is all part of a plan in which he has weighed the possible consequences of an exponential loss of power. He knows that even if he wields power from the sidelines, as I anticipate will happen, there will be a handful of decisions about which he will not be consulted and, as happened to Fidel, he will find himself out of power.

Raul Castro’s plan is to retire while simultaneously reducing the very real possibility that a Baltasar Garzon will come along one day to stand in judgement over his many crimes. He is in jeopardy in Cuba; outside Cuba the risk is greater. Continue reading “Raul Castro and His Retirement Plan / Juan Juan Almeida”

Raul Castro Takes His Son to First Private Meeting with Obama / Juan Juan Almeida

Photo: Bilateral meeting between Raul Castro and Barack Obama in Havana.

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 March 2016 — President Barack Obama’s visit to Havana is replete with coded messages and defensive tactics. Why is it that at the start of the official ceremony we do not see Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel but rather Prince Alejandro Castro?

As everyone now knows, while the president of the United States was traveling on Air Force One to Jose Marti International Airport in Rancho Boyeros, the inhospitable Cuban government was brutally disrupting a peaceful demonstration by the Ladies in White and civil rights activists, showing us just how much progress it has made on the issue of human rights. Continue reading “Raul Castro Takes His Son to First Private Meeting with Obama / Juan Juan Almeida”

Authorities Prepare a Lukewarm Welcome for Obama / Juan Juan Almeida

Cubans advised to stay home and watch Obama’s visit on TV

Juan Juan Almeida, 17 March 2016 —  Obama arrives in Havana on March 20. However, arbitrary arrests continue and we see only the most minimal progress on the issue of human rights and respect for basic freedoms.

The truth is Raul Castro is not pleased by all the enthusiasm surrounding his visitor, who on Havana’s streets is more popular than George Clooney.

An employee at the Cuban Export-Import Corporation — a man who is a current official and former officer in the Revolutionary Armed Forces — notes, “They are telling us is it not important to go and greet Obama and that we can see the events better on television, that everything will be very formal without a lot of fanfare.” Continue reading “Authorities Prepare a Lukewarm Welcome for Obama / Juan Juan Almeida”

Project Ramon, Cuba’s Latest Bait to Lure American Investors / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida,18 February 2016 — The latest property to be auctioned off is part of a plan to lure big American investors called Project Ramon. It involves destroying a small local beach and converting it into an exclusive tourist resort catering to a very few.

This new ecological disaster is being forged in Ramon de Antilla. Continue reading “Project Ramon, Cuba’s Latest Bait to Lure American Investors / Juan Juan Almeida”

The Role of Raul Castro’s “Super Grandson” in Cuba’s Future / Juan Juan Almeida

Raul Castro with his grandson (l.) and French president Hollande (r)

Juan Juan Almeida, 8 February 2016 — Some say that Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro — also known as “the Crab,” “the Grandson-in-Chief,” “Raulito” and even “Arnol-mal” (or Evil Arnold, an ironic nickname referring to the former body builder, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also a slight twist of pronunciation on the Spanish word anormal, or abnormal) — is considered to be among the contenders for the Cuban crown.

I can see that, but a crown without scepter is simply a Pamela.

Inept and dangerous — a bad combination for those who confuse folly with merit — Raul-the-Grandson can exert influence to get foreign businessmen expelled from the country. Continue reading “The Role of Raul Castro’s “Super Grandson” in Cuba’s Future / Juan Juan Almeida”

Necessary Investigation Into Dead Cubans In The Nicaraguan Jungle / Juan Juan Almeida

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Juan Juan Almeida, 18 January 2016 — Why don’t the countries which are implicated carefully investigate, in a reasonable period of time, the disappearance of these Cuban migrants? Why doesn’t the Nicaraguan government carry out an effective judicial investigation into these cases?

The accusers whisper, but, out of fear, do not accuse. They speak cautiously about dozens of Cubans abandoned in the jungle.

We will only have a rough idea of the number of those who have disappeared when those who are arriving and those who are still in Costa Rica, decide to break their silence. Continue reading “Necessary Investigation Into Dead Cubans In The Nicaraguan Jungle / Juan Juan Almeida”

Discrimination Against the Poor, an Injustice in Present-day Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 January 2016 — Racial and gender designations were fundamental in the dynamics of international politics, basically dominated by white men; but, fortunately, and like the rough action of a Russian-made Aurika washing machine, there are cycles with an expiration date.

Several penal codes in the world sanction racism, homophobia and whatever other ways to exclude human beings; and, disgracefully, there are people and groups that, clinging to outworn concepts, tarnish themselves by raising flags, at least in Cuba, that are shameful and unrestrained. Continue reading “Discrimination Against the Poor, an Injustice in Present-day Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida”

Clandestine Fight Clubs are Booming in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Two officers of the People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Cuba in a patrol car.

Juan Juan Almeida, 7 January 2016 — Tired of family conflicts, without a future, restless by today and without a better model for living, clandestine fights become a place where hundreds of Cuban adolescents believe they can fulfill the dream of becoming famous and earning “a lot” of money. It’s a shame that they receive little interest from the State and no sensitivity.

The phenomenon is already part of the underworld, a jungle that seems to combine sports, barbarity and human decadence; something that for the time being can’t be confronted, because it’s impossible to put the brakes on those who have nothing to lose.

A trainer and former member of the Cuban team that participated in the Sydney Olympics explained to me that “with only 5 CUCs (or its equivalent in national money) and the appropriate contacts, anyone can come to those closed and shady places to witness an interesting spectacle. Continue reading “Clandestine Fight Clubs are Booming in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida”

Structural Collapse at CIMEQ Hospital / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 29 December 2015 — More than six million dollars is the tab to cover a 2015 collapse caused by a riotous orgy of negligence. This is how they are describing the Cuban Ministry of Public Health’s most closely guarded secret. I will explain it but will try not to burden you with too much scientific jargon.

Accompanying photos (click here) show the construction of an ultramodern cyclotron unit within the confines of Havana’s Medical Center for Surgical Research (CIMEQ), which was intended for use in teaching and research.

The collapse of a floor, the result of egregious violations of building code regulations which cover such facilities, has led to losses that have yet to be disclosed by Cuban authorities. The losses include a unit for producing radionuclides for medical use, a radiopharmacy laboratory for producing and storing radiopharmaceuticals and various chemical synthesis modules. Continue reading “Structural Collapse at CIMEQ Hospital / Juan Juan Almeida”

Alaska, Another Route for Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 1 December 2015 — As a part of the basket of measures relating to the migration crisis concerning Cubans in Costa Rica, and with the obvious intention of protecting human interests, starting from 1st December, Cubans wanting to travel to Ecuador will have to get a visa to enter that country.

The regulation is an attempt to control the stampede; but already the human traffickers, taking a bird’s eye view and with financial resources, are trying to find new routes to connect Havana with the United States. Now it seems crossing the last frontier is the latest thing.

I would like to make it clear that not one single letter of what I am writing here is any attempt to encourage illegal emigration Continue reading “Alaska, Another Route for Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida”

Everything Changes, So That Nothing Changes in the Cuban Armed Forces / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 14 December 2015 — For the Cuban government, December is a month of notable events and anniversaries. And, although  it tramples on the right of people to support Human Rights Day, it is worth repeating; it allows people to celebrate the anniversary of the landing of the yacht Granma, the Revolutionary Armed Forces’ birthday, the jubilee of the Battle of Ideas, the anniversary of the Battle of Alegria de Pio, and praising the fact that, since 1977, following a historic manoeuvre  of calculated ambiguity, it also permits the celebration of Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Strange, cruel, and unusual, because partying is what is important and because, as my grandmother, who didn’t need to study to gain wisdom, said, “All believers think that their religion is better than their neighbour’s one.” Continue reading “Everything Changes, So That Nothing Changes in the Cuban Armed Forces / Juan Juan Almeida”

Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan Almeida

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 December 2015 — In addition to a being a major victory for the Venezuelan opposition over the Bolivarian coalition led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), many analysts have claimed that the December 6 elections in Venezuela could also lead to a something approaching an energy crisis in Cuba.

I do not think it is true that, after years of mismanagement, the Chavez movement exacerbated the country’s divisions, insulted the dignity of its people and, in return, got what it deserved: punishment at the ballot box, which — as in the story of Cinderella — turned an allegorical carriage into a hideous pumpkin. Continue reading “Cuba Prepared in Advance for the Venezuela Crisis / Juan Juan Almeida”