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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Juan Juan Almeida, 27 November 2015 — The delicate subject of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica was a topic at the fifty-fourth meeting of the Central American Security Council and the Central American Integration System (SICA). It is quite clear that these compatriots of ours, driven by the fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be modified or repealed, are leaving the island with one destination in mind: the United States.
It matters little to me if they see themselves as political or economic refugees. They are fleeing poverty that has its roots in politics. For me this is reason enough. But be aware that, if today they manage to set foot in the United States or if some other country takes them in, tomorrow they will be traveling and/or sending money back to the island. Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 7 December 2015 — During one of his famous tantrums, General Raul Castro shamelessly ordered a review of all the paperwork related to the sale of nine private homes as well as investigations into their new owners.
The Office of Personal Security got to work and the public prosecutor intervened, seizing some twenty homes. The same chain of command also closed two private restaurants in prime locations which had been leased from the state-run company Palco for of 3,000 CUC a month.
It has been said — and this is gossip, so I do not know if it is true or not — that one of the restaurants, located near Fifth Avenue and 68th Street, was closed because Alex Castro, Fidel’s photographer son, had commercial interests and was trying to get permits. Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 24 November 2015 — Just as the proceedings surpassed the scandalous total of 42 people indicted, the General Vice-Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba, Carlos Raúl Concepción Rangel, imposed a gag order on the case and hid it underneath the trite mantle of “secret character,” because — according to sources in the Prosecutor’s office — he’s expecting the number of those involved to increase.
The investigation filtered down, and some of the people implicated hardened themselves and beat it out of the country. Others are hiding out; there is a border alert for them, and an order of search and capture.
Before such an emergency, and even without finishing the trial, they’re taking the accused out of the investigation center at 100 and Aldabó — the women to the western prison, El Guatao (known as Manto Negro), the men to Valle Grande or the Combinado del Este. The VIP accomplices, owing to their natural status as first-class citizens, were sent home and asked to be “low profile” until their names could be pulled from the file or, at least, their complicity silenced in a case that could paint them as crooks. Continue reading
Alejandro Castro Espín (R) and Abel Enrique González Santamaría (L)
Juan Juan Almeida, 16 November 2015 — Bound by a peculiar loyalty based on the quasi-inbreeding of its members and located in a walled compound at the corner of 36th and 39th streets in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado, the Commission on Defense and National Security (not to be confused with the Council on National Defense), is a group with a disturbing profile but no legal standing, created with the intention of preserving the status quo.
Under the Constitution, which we are supposed to be revising but which is still in force, the National Assembly of People’s Power ranks as the highest institution of government, imbued with legislative and constitutional powers. Subordinate to it are the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and even the Comptroller General. It appoints the Council of Ministers and the Council of State.
But that’s only on paper. In practice, the epicenter of power lies at the always bountiful table set every Sunday for lunch at La Rinconada, the housing complex where the president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Raul Castro, resides. Continue reading
Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, voting unanimously, as it virtually always does.
Juan Juan Almeida, 9 November 2015 — Cuba is a country where polemics or its relative, debate, is the daily bread of artists, private entrepreneurs and intellectuals; an island where the majority of the young population are assured of being poor or having no possibility of fulfilling their dreams; a nation where the average professional suffers from a ridiculous salary; and a State where discontent between the politicians and the military is worrisome. Still, the opposition, which works for freedom and the right to establish a democratic government, has been incapable of building a plausible alternative.
Where exactly does our opposition find itself in relation to the other components of the Regime? Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 26 October 2015 — Before the Special Period, the financial capacity of the country had already been reduced to a minimum, so reforms were being instituted that supposedly would “help” the nation cope with the economic contingencies of the time.
And when the situation reached that almost invisible point at which point any action or oversight could hasten the death of a terminally ill patient, circumstances forced the Cuban military to become productive by generating income from agriculture, transportation, tourism, construction, finance and commerce.
The armed forces of the world are divided into three main services — army, navy, air force — plus aerial defense. Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 19 October 2015 — The G2, Cuba’s domestic spy agency, is nothing more than a fun-loving caricature of the former KGB. What is difficult to believe is that the special services headquarters which direct espionage operations against Cuba have shown themselves to be even more inept.
The Cuban government neither has nor could maintain an army of spies. We have bought into this myth. Espionage is an expensive proposition and recruiting spies is not like planting rice. Though difficult for us to accept, Cuban authorities are talented and treacherous enough to know how to stoke paranoia, distrust and confusion by creating a constant and frantic struggle for reaffirmation against “a person unknown.” This has made us prone to isolation, some degree of lunacy and a few too many hallucinations. Continue reading
Juan Juan Almeida, 24 September 2015 — Cuba is trying to silence a national “explosion” of great intensity, which implicates officers of the Interior Ministry (MININT), the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR), the Cultural Goods Fund (a Cultural center promoting and selling art and handicrafts), the National Bank of Cuba, foreign businessmen and artisanal shoemakers in the Camajuaní municipality of Villa Clara.
According to sources inside the National Prosecutor’s office, one of those implicated was surprised overseas by the news, and in order to evade justice, prefers not to return.
Fraud, falsification, bribery, extortion, contraband, abuse of authority, illicit enrichment, tariff violation, tax evasion of the National Tax Administration and influence peddling are among the presumed crimes for more than 50 people in different training centers. Continue reading