Boat Used by Antonio Castro in Hemingway Tournament for Sale Online / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 7 September 2016 — JQQXWC44 is the sale code you type in on the website porlalivre.com to see the boat, model Sea Ray, used on Saturday, June 14, 2014 by the most prominent of Fidel Castro’s offspring, who won the 64th Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament.

An irresistible lady’s man, baseball and soccer player, fisherman, golf enthusiast and food connoisseur, Antonio Castro Soto del Valle is a physician specializing in orthopedics. But the family’s historical throwback is far removed from the more than two-thousand-year-old legacy left us by the humble carpenter from Galilee. Continue reading “Boat Used by Antonio Castro in Hemingway Tournament for Sale Online / Juan Juan Almeida”

Castro takes part in a “clinic” (an intensive class) led by the Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez in Havana.

Not only does anything having to do with this attractive, eccentric fifty-something with the valuable last name trend on social media, it goes viral, leading to a “revolutionary business deal” that generates countless dividends.

The Hemingway tournament had lost its luster until, almost by magic, Tony Castro’s presence in 2014 brought it back into media prominence. Several media outlets publicized and promoted the event and now his name is increasing the boat’s sale price.

The same thing happened in 2013 when Antonio won golf’s Montecristo Cup, which took place in Varadero. Based on this pattern or business trend, it is therefore likely that we will soon see items from his collection on the market, such as the Titleist golf putters, wedges and/or irons used by this Cuban prince in his golfing victory.

Reprehensible for sure. The Castros have spent more than fifty years isolated and inaccessible, promoting a bogus image of sacrifice, talking about social equality, global justice and world peace, using phrases like “I choose to cast my lot with the earth’s poor.” After all the hypocrisy, Dr. Antonio Castro Soto del Valle has decided to discard the old blueprint and turn his life into a big supermarket, one at which many people want to shop.

“That boat is almost always tied up alongside the Santy sushi restaurant in the Jaimanitas River. It has been there for many years,” says a young recruit at the neighboring coast guard station. “Tony often takes some of this friends out on it. They usually head to Puerto Esperanza.”

He ends the interview after seeing the website’s ad, noting, “We know they are selling it. But I really have no idea if the boat belongs to Santy, to the family that owns the restaurant or to Antonio Castro.”

Zika Reveals the True Character of the Cuban Health Service / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 18 August 2016 — While wards 3-A (they have also prepared 3-B) and 4-A, on the third and fourth floors of the  “Lucía Iñiguez Landín” Clinical Surgery Hospital in Holguín, notable for their absence of basic health care requisites, welcome Cuban patients with confirmed and suspected cases of Zika, Dengue Fever and Chunkunguya, ward 5F of the same hospital accommodates foreigners with similar symptoms, in very different conditions.

“The photos I sent you reveal that this is a health service focussed on showing a face which is acceptable to international opinion, and that the enormous difference between the service received by sick foreigners and Cubans has nothing to do with the everlasting claims of lack of resources due to the blockade, but rather the indifference of the government, the state, and MINSAP (Public Health Ministry) toward the health of Cubans.” I have copied the exact words written to me by of one of the doctors working in that hospital.

“The laboratory tests, which are carried out on each patient who is admitted with suspected Zika, Dengue Fever or Chikunguya, are sent to the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK) in Havana, because,” he added, “it is the only place where there is the technology to confirm, or not, the existence of Zika. And this, along with the constant holdups in transport and institutional bureaucracy, means patients have to stay too long in hospital waiting for the results.”

“But the most bizarre part,” adds the doctor indignantly, “is that the unexpected increase in patient admissions, and the time they are there waiting for results, have generated a lot of extra work at Lucía Iñiguez in Holguín, especially cleaning, which is, inexplicably, being covered by female prisoners, who have, basically, been tried for prostitution, with the service contracted to the provincial office of the Ministry of the Interior Prison Directorate.”

Translated by GH

General Francis is Out of the Game and Raul’s Grandson Ascends / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 29 August 2016 — The most powerful of all the Cuban generals, Division General Humberto Omar Francis Pardo, was replaced in his job as Head of the General Direction of Personal Security (DGSP).

The position is now filled by Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, who is known by various nicknames, like “The Crab,” “Grandson-in-Chief,” Raulito” and even “The Arnol-mal,” this last one from his frenetic addiction to steroids and exercise.

Before creating the Commission of Defense and National Security, which Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín directs today, the Direction of Personal Security was the invisible apparatus with the most power on the island. Under this nomenclature, like the current “Commission,” ministries, institutions and all the MININT (Ministry of the Interior) divisions were subordinated. Continue reading “General Francis is Out of the Game and Raul’s Grandson Ascends / Juan Juan Almeida”

“After a long period of stress, and multiple disagreements, Francis suffered a cerebral stroke. He was admitted to the hospital but now is at home,” said a family member of the dismissed General.

The DGSP, intended to protect the force of the myth, the fiscal and moral integrity of Fidel Castro and the rest of the so-called leaders of the first level, has succeeded in amassing more cash than some armies.

The DGSP’s empire 

The DSP relies on a section of the transport police in order to review the fastest road or route for moving the leader. It has a film group, with experts in the art of photography, where they touch up the images of the “untouchables.” Another section is dedicated to documentation and migration matters and also functions as a trip coordinator; an anti-attack brigade consists of snipers and experts in every type of explosive; and a medical department, in addition to having a clinic for everything, has a fixed allocation of doctors, nurses, radiologists, physical therapists, laboratory technicians and other health workers.

They have a division of technology and telephone, workshops, diving masters, gymnasiums, coordinators; a very effective counterintelligence service that, in coordination with other State agencies, looks for, manages and controls all the information of that brotherhood, the family circles and friendships; a department of international relations that coordinates with other secret services the visits to Cuba of people of interest and personalities (friends or not), whether they are presidents, governors, heads of State, members of Congress, religious leaders, etc.; a purchasing group in charge of pleasing even the most bizarre tastes; a department that checks the news that should or should not be released about the Cuban leaders; and a unit to contract service staff (maids) who later work in the houses of those chosen.

With this new appointment, Raúl Castro, in addition to putting his grandson in a key post, captures a vital space reserved uniquely to Fidel, to control even the most insignificant thing, like the ruling class’s privacy in their homes. This method can have a possible boomerang effect, because it also assures the rejection from a good part of a strategic force that, older and in the military, were always faithful to General Francis.

Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, taking care of his grandfather in Panama.

All the body guards of this prestigious group belong to the DSP. Their work consists of taking care of them, protecting them and satisfying them even in their most quirky desires, in addition to spying, recruiting and blackmailing, in order to maintain, at any price, the “moral purity” of the Cuban politicians. This convoy is in charge of avoiding any type of problem of the leader and his closest family. And when I say “any,” it’s any, from the most absurd up to the most complex, whether it’s financial, political or legal.

In Cuba, nobody can prosecute, criticize or punish a bigwig or family member, without the authorization of the DSP.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Renting Fidel Castro’s Yacht for 5,000 Dollars a Day / Juan Juan Almeida

Fidel Castro Ruz

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 August 2016 — Renting Fidel Castro’s yacht will be the new publicity backdrop that will be the next thing to enter the arena in order to convert the “Acuarama II,” as it is named, into an appetizing bait.

For some time, the auto rental business, Grancar, has been renting a couple of replicas of his legendary Russian limousine; unpublished photos of the ex-Comandante en Jefe are sold in various auctions as collection pieces, and now, exceeding all imagination and surpassing a whole flotilla of boats designed for the good life, the new boat bamboozle that the tourist group Gaviota will offer emerges: a sophisticated trip in the boat of the modest, humble and simple leader, Fidel.

With such purpose and in order to satisfy the most demanding of tastes, as General Raúl Castro puts it, “without haste but without pause,” using polyurethane of great consistency for protection and beautification, in its usual berth, the tidal basin of Caleta del Rosario, the hull was cleaned up and repaired (Code P-6, according to the nomenclature of NATO), along with the four diesel engines, model M-50 F-2, of 1200 horsepower. The rest of the reconstruction was done, with rigor and commercial conscience, from July 9, 2014 up to April 1, 2016. Continue reading “Renting Fidel Castro’s Yacht for 5,000 Dollars a Day / Juan Juan Almeida”

Expert carpenters, specialists in boat furniture, worked without a break, while the ship was in drydock at a border guard unit of Barlovento Bay west of Havana. There, respecting the original design in its most minute detail, they changed the woodwork and applied an extra marine varnish of high strength to the new doors and the whole interior oak; they changed the nuts and bolts and the upholstery coverings. They also installed two new refrigerator housings and re-equipped the radio, navigation equipment and control room with the ultimate in advanced technology.

A new boat, a new life. At 89.63 feet (27.3 meters) in length, 4 heads, first-class cabins, air conditioning, televisions, a bar and satellite navigation, the rent comes to about $780/hour. However, a tiny discount will be given only to special clients. We are talking about up to $5,000 dollars for the first 8 hours. Whoever rents it can enjoy a romantic escapade, a family reunion, a party with friends, a dream of a fishing trip, a work reunion or a wedding celebration in a pretentious environment that for years was reserved exclusively for the ex-communist leader and his high-class guests.

As now few things amaze me, who knows if in the next few days the news surprises us that, as a new source of income, foreign tourists can visit Punto Cero and bring back as a souvenir a photo with the Comandante.

The truth is that, for now, while many people continue trapped in an absurd, aberrant and almost infinite cycle of anger, vengeance, violence and false patriotism, Fidel Castro continues to be the most profitable commercial trademark that the Cuban Revolution has.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Fidel Castro: Ignoring Him is the Best Punishment / Juan Juan Almeida

Venezuelan musicians dedicate the gala to Fidel Castro in Cuba for his 90th birthday.

Juan Juan Almeida, La Voz del Morro, August 15, 2006 — Humans eat meat; cattle feed on forage and in their own way find the nutrients in the soil populated by worms, which probably eat other bugs that I don’t know about; but I’m sure they occupy a major place on the food chain that today Fidel Castro signifies for the youth of the island.

It’s a shame that the incapacity and non-existence of leadership among the ranks of the Government, the dissidence and the opposition make many insist on eternalizing the shadow of a ghost that now doesn’t exist even in the Cuban imagination. Continue reading “Fidel Castro: Ignoring Him is the Best Punishment / Juan Juan Almeida”

The national press gave him headlines that managed to surpass, amply, the sick local humor.

The journalistic indigestion was like this:

“Workers of the Coppelia ice-cream parlor congratulate Fidel.” An ice-cream parlor where they barely, without a fuss, offer only one flavor of ice cream, and the workers don’t earn much, even though they don’t work.

“Eternal santiaguero [originally from Santiago] born in Birán.”

A drooler with an absence of geography. Birán belongs to the province of Holguín.

“Fidel inspires confidence.”

Please, if anyone has been deceptive without being accountable for more than a half-century in Cuba, it’s Fidel.

“They recognize Fidel’s contributions to gender equality.”

Total disconnection. Fidel is the macho creator of the UMAP [forced labor camps for homosexuals], and he never in 50 years legislated anything on domestic abuse.

The opposition, for its part, also repeated itself with colossal nonsense, pounding on the social networks with the aged and incoherent slogan, “Down with the tyrant, Fidel,” and giving an injection of life to a dead subject.

It’s true that both proclamations, for and against, don’t let up, and with superfluous boldness, they delivered to the ex-comandante, by name, a flood of attention. The food of longevity.

There’s nothing better for Fidel than that, during his 90th birthday, ancient and out of power, and with his screws loose, his name would prevail among the first posts on the list of trending topics.

Shameful. None of his “enemies” manages to surpass the first of his challenges, to change their own way of thinking and stop competing with a fossil who, incredibly, at the age of 90, has exceeded everyone in his capacity of attraction, in the art of manipulation, political wisdom, egocentrism, strategy, charisma and absolute knowledge of his island’s geography.

I imagine that the detractors as well as the adulators don’t know that on the night of August 13, after having attended the gala offered in his honor at the Karl Marx theater, Fidel Castro returned home. They blew out the candles — he couldn’t blow them out for lack of lung capacity — and the invitees, sick of hearing the same stupidities about the Sierra Maestra, the coming end of the world and the plans of the past, left him alone, in his babble, on his only faithful companion, the beige armchair.

In his house, Fidel is less important than a filet mignon on the table of a vegan. Loneliness is his punishment. It would be better to not feed his ego so much, and to abandon the apparent incapacity some have to begin living without his presence.

Translated by Regina Anavy

It Shows a Lack of Respect to Distribute 200 Cars Among All Cuban Doctors / Juan Juan Almeida

The Vice Minister of Health, Marcía Cobas (on right), greets a group of Cuban doctors.

Juan Juan Almeida, February 1, 2016, Martí Noticias — The Ministry of Public Health claims it is giving an award but it is creating a total hornet’s nest. On tour throughout the country, Dr. Marcia Cobas, Vice Minister of Health and a member of the Central Committee of the Party, announces in every hospital she visits that she’s going to distribute computer laptops and 200 automobiles among the Cuban doctors.

I wonder how you divide 200 Chinese vehicles among all the Cuban professionals if — according to official figures — there is one nurse in Cuba for every 126 inhabitants, a doctor for every 159 residents, a dentist for every 1,066 neighbors and a uterine endoscopist for every 200 inhabitants. Continue reading “It Shows a Lack of Respect to Distribute 200 Cars Among All Cuban Doctors / Juan Juan Almeida”

The health authorities, inherent in a dictatorship with a sinister administration, aren’t recognizing the work of the doctors. They are awarding disloyalty and indifference to the common problems of a very sensitive profession.

A renowned professor, whose name I can’t mention except to say that he’s an active member of the Cuban Society of Psychiatry and a specialist in the study of human behavior, assures me that a governmental decision of this type is a dangerous exercise in control that causes spontaneous hatred and manifests in unusual racist insults, sexist judgments, classist complaints and accusations among the physicians who, in addition to being competitive, are totally abusive. The doctors are hopping mad, washing their dirty linen in public.

The measure, as is logical, far from lessening the discontent of the fraternity of doctors, increases the mistrust, intensifies the repressed hatred and generates a worrisome atmosphere of tension among the doctors who get ready to fight, wielding usury as a weapon, to be the winners of the prize.

“No one can conceive that using a stimulus of this type, it’s obvious, as an instrument of confrontation among colleagues, creates solidarity. We Cubans know very well, since we have suffered it for more than 56 years, that similar practices never gave positive results,” says the physician.

The plan includes, in addition, Cuba’s State phone company, ETECSA, giving landline telephones to all doctors and dentists. Now, across the length and breadth of the country, hospital directors began to complete the pertinent lists in order to execute the measure, but they are facing the growing discontent that is apparent among the rest of the health personnel: the technicians and nurses who have all been ignored and are in very bad moods.

“Although it seems exaggerated, we are up against a committed attack on the country’s economy which, in some way, also affects the national population in terms of health. Because, although we are making Cuban doctors compete, it also discourages creating a framework of negotiation that is very susceptible to blackmail,” concludes my friend. “You only have to read Pavlov and B.F. Skinner, well-known students of behavior, to understand that with this type of award there are negative effects that lower the moral positivity of the prize and the effect on work of not awarding a prize.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

Theft of €œElectronic Waste€ From Telephones Is a Business in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 25 April 2016 — In 2008, General Raúl  Castro, showing signs of an “extraordinary benevolence,” allowed Cubans to have access to cellular telephone service.

The number of these devices created an elevated and accelerated boom that was not foreseen even by the most seasoned economists. But, according to sources in the office of the General Prosecutor of the Republic, such a vertiginous increase runs parallel and proportional to an increase in certain types of crime. Continue reading “Theft of €œElectronic Waste€ From Telephones Is a Business in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida”

ETECSA (Cuba’s telecommunications company) began operating in 2003. At that time there were only some 43,300 cell phones on the island, distributed among diplomats, foreign businessmen and Cubans linked to foreign businesses. Today, a high percentage of the national population has cellular coverage, and with that comes the proliferation of pickpockets. They scour the provinces like birds of prey in search of these devices.

But this method of small-time thievery is the first link in a criminal chain that not only implicates known private workshops (cuentapropistas) [self-employed businessmen] or certain agencies of ETECSA where they buy, modify and sell this type of equipment. It also implicates State Security and other businesses of MININT [the Ministry of the Interior] that pursue, track and even buy these telephones.

For what reason? According to someone who’s a business owner, it’s for removing the most precious thing we keep in our phones: information.

The same thing happens everywhere, but each country has its own particularities. As a general rule, in Cuba, this type of device isn’t stolen in order to decode it and sell it in other countries, but rather to dismantle it and sell it for parts, on and off the island.

The General Prosecutor says that, although it’s working on several cases, it hasn’t managed to discover the matrix of such a complicated network. The National Revolutionary Police recognizes that there’s a black market where you can find the displays, speakers, headphones and batteries of stolen cell phones, but it hasn’t been able to find the authors of the crime.

Both entities appear to ignore, on purpose, that power, in addition to being an instrument, is a more underhanded and more dangerous vice than drugs. As happens with criminal gangs, when their members converge at some moment, the same happens with the rest of the pieces of the stolen cell phones and many of the phones confiscated in ports and airports by the General Customs of the Republic of Cuba.

A young businessman of Lebanese origin, who is known as “the king of modern mining,” buys them. With a French passport, the alleged endorsement of the Government and the friendship of the “Grandson in Chief,” Raúl Guillermo Rodríguez Castro, he exports the stolen material under the Customs category of “electronic waste.”

This businessman sends everything by air to modern metallurgic plants located off the island (according to the gossip, in Europe), where the technology exists to isolate and recuperate valuable components like copper, cobalt, antimony, gallium and coltan. These are not precious metals, but they are rarely found in the world and are in such great demand by the industry that they sell by the gram and cost more than gold.

I hope that this note helps the National Police.

There aren’t many businesses in the world that are capable of recuperating part of these materials among the electronic garbage. And I venture to say that in Cuba there are no more than four Frenchmen (of Lebanese origin) who are friends of Raúl Guillermo.

Translated by Regina Anavy

 

Cuba, 5 August 1994: Spontaneous Revolt, Expected Response / Juan Juan Almeida

Screenshot from video of Fidel at the Maleconazo uprising, August 1994
Screenshot from video of Fidel Castro at the Maleconazo uprising, August 1994

Juan Juan Almeida, 5 August 2016 — In Cuba 1994 marked the low point of an economic downturn which has been ongoing since the demise of the Eastern bloc in 1989. At the time the government was anticipating social unrest in the east of the country.

Discontent within the military had reached dangerous levels due to layoffs and forced reassignments by the the Interior Ministry after Cause I and Cause II* of that year produced the same rumblings as the libertarian winds blowing into the island from Eastern Europe. The crisis was exacerbated by a sugar harvest that barely reached four million tons and by the untimely arrival of a polyneuritis epidemic, which forced authorities to take extraordinary economic measures. In terms of the volume of its transactions, the black market rivaled state-run stores, but with prices twenty times higher. Continue reading “Cuba, 5 August 1994: Spontaneous Revolt, Expected Response / Juan Juan Almeida”

Financial imbalance, budget deficits and an insolvent population turned life into a daily drama. Cubans routinely witnessed unconventional attempts at illegal emigration, such as the hijacking of the 13 de Marzo Tugboat and the ferries at Regla and Casablanca.

It was a time of exhaustion, privation, hopelessness, anger and blackouts. The government realized, all too well, that all these factors could easily set off an explosion, which it believed would lead to riots. It was prepared for this but it had no confidence in the loyalty of the Interior Ministy’s Special Forces. As we now know, it responded by creating the Black Wasps, an elite and parallel military force that included anti-riot units.

The anticipated popular uprising (which ordinary Cubans call the “Maleconazo”) began on August 5 but, to the astonishment of the Cuban high command, it was not about overturning the government; it was about leaving the country. The government reacted with its customary brutality, counterattacking in every direction. Through lightning force, trickery, viciousness and bloodshed it crushed the protests. It infiltrated the demonstration with its own agents, who tempered the group’s fortitude in order to allow Fidel to later make an appearance in the conflict zone, which made an impression both on those present and world opinion.

Those implicated in the uprising were forced to publicly denounce it in the national media, which decided to refer to the protests as “the events of August 5.”

They exhibited both a perfidious strategy and strength. For the rest of that summer, helmeted anti-riot troops with shields patrolled Havana in armored vehicles (especially the Old Havana, Guanabacoa and Tenth of October neighborhoods), leaving the population with a sinister, frightening and evocative vision of what could happen if there were ever a repeat of a previous protest.

*Translator’s note: On July 13, 1989 a high-profile general, a former head of the Cuban Interior Ministry and two senior military officers were executed by firing squad after having been convicted by a military tribunal of drug trafficking and treason. Several of their associates received long prison sentences.

MININT Colonel In The Vortex of The Theft of Papers From MININT / Juan Juan Almeida

Ministry of the Interior Colonel Emilio Alejandro Monsanto

Juan Juan Almeida, 20 June 2016 — Carlos Emilio is a pseudonym. He has the rank of Colonel, and his real name is Emilio Alejandro Monsanto. He’s detained in Havana, in an elegant house converted into a military prison, accused of being the possible intellectual author of the theft and sale of information from the eighth floor of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT), and of having organized a series of operations to launder more than 100 million dollars in Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic and the United States that implicate General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra (“Furry”), Iraida Hidalgo (Furry’s wife), General Carlos Fernández Gondín; also, General Román, Commander Ramiro Valdés, various members of the Commission of Defense and National Security, families of the deceased General, Julio Casas Regueiro, a daughter of the present President of the Council of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Raúl Castro, and other less important elements of the olive-green Cuban jet set.

But of course, as my grandmother, who was the queen of street smarts, said, “The wolf will always be the bad guy because it’s Little Red Riding Hood who tells the story.” Continue reading “MININT Colonel In The Vortex of The Theft of Papers From MININT / Juan Juan Almeida”

The information that arrives in drips and drabs from Havana about the hermetically sealed case ensures that, hidden under a tangle of joint stock companies, those who are implicated in the almost impenetrable investigative file expatriated Cuban capital through a series of operations of doubtful commercial coherence and ended up raiding the national budget.

Sources with supposed access to the case surmise that:

1. They laundered the money in financial entities, such as:

  • Financiera Ricamar S.A.: Calle 18 super 99, Monte Oscuro, Panama.
  • Financiera Eurolatina S.A.: Paitilla, Plaza Bal Halbour M-38, San Francisco, Panama City.
  • Financiera Bescanvi Occidental S.A.: Ave. Federico Boyd, Cond. Alfaro L-48, Bella Vista, Panama City.

2. With the alleged political influence of President Daniel Ortega, they invested in the construction of Galerías Santo Domingo, located on the Boulevar de Los Mártires. Today, it’s the most exclusive commercial center in Managua; rather, in all of Nicaragua.

3. With an injection of money that was suspicious due to the inability to demonstrate the origin of their funds, they created a corporation located on the Avenida Hispanoamericana de Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic, which now reports accountable losses.

4. With the mediation of straw men (their names are already being leaked, because all materials burn if you apply the adequate spark), they bought properties in Barcelona, Madrid, Marbella, Murcia, Galicia, Miami, Cape Coral, Fort Myers and New York.

I’m not saying more for the protection of my informants, because we live in a society where it’s easy to judge, and because it’s not fair to use or punish a scapegoat as an excuse for the accuser’s ends. It’s that, as usual, the truly guilty, those who lost their sense of time, space and decency, continue to be free and sovereign. It wouldn’t be the first time; we saw it in the judgment of Cases 1 and 2 in 1989*, which some water down, many restate and, in reality, few understand.

Being an accomplice or a collaborator of a group in power grants certain advantages; but it’s inconvenient for life and liberty.

*Translator’s note: A reference to the execution of General Ochoa and others, after being found guilty of drug smuggling and treason.

Translated by Regina Anavy

The Military’s Coup d’Etat Against Eusebio Leal’s Empire / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 1 August 2016 — The principal sources of income of the business, Habaguanex, and the Office of the Historian of Havana, are now officially part of the Group of Business Administration [GAE] of the Revolutionary Armed Forces; and the rest are removed or scrapped.

After a long process that ended in this expected adjudication, the intervention was announced this Saturday, July 30, early in the morning, in the elegant salon Del Monte, located on the first floor of the famous hotel, Ambos Mundos, in Havana.

The military interventionist, neither more nor less, was Division General Leonardo Ramón Andollo Valdés, who, among his distinctions (and he has more than the number of cheap wines), is the Second Head of State Major General of the FAR [Revolutionary Armed Forces], and the Second Head of the Permanent Commission for the Implementation and Development of Perfecting the Economic and Social Model of Cuban society. Continue reading “The Military’s Coup d’Etat Against Eusebio Leal’s Empire / Juan Juan Almeida”

“Can you imagine! According to what General Andollo said, the GAE has the control of accomplishing a more efficient function,” commented an ironic assistant in the mentioned meeting, who, upon kindly requesting he not be identified, added, “The soldiers do more harm to the country’s economy than Reggaeton does to Cuban music.”

At the pernicious conference, which, for almost obvious reasons, Dr. Eusebio Leal didn’t attend, GAE officials and officers of State Security and Military Counter Intelligence ordered that cell phones be removed from all the participants.

On the dispossessed side were the heads of the business section of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana and its adjunct director, Perla Rosales Aguirreurreta, plus the present directors of the Tourist Company Habaguanex S.A. and all its managers of hotels, bars, cafeterias, shops, restaurants and hostels.

“This seems to be a coup d’état. An abuse of Leal’s efforts. Not to mention the hours of work that many of us have put in on the recovery of this part of the city that remained forgotten. Speaking in economic terms, Habaguanex has grown much more than Gaviota, TRD and all those military businesses together. No one can deny the efficiency of our work and our marketing strategy. Yesterday, this was a marginal, stinking zone on the edge of collapse; the reality is that today, there is no tourist, whether a head of State, diplomat or celebrity in any field who comes to this capital and doesn’t visit Old Havana,” argued one of the principal restorers of the so-called Historic Quarter, with feeling.

“Bit by bit we’re being dismantled – and I repeat: the park of the Maestrana, the museums and the shop of the Muñecos de Leyendas [mythical creatures], continue, for the moment, in the hands of the Office of the Historian, until, it’s also whispered, we pass under the direction of the Minister of Culture.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

Top Official Of The Ministry Of The Interior Implicated In Contraband Case: Crime Or Reckoning? / Juan Juan Almeida

José Martí International Airport

Juan Juan Almeida, August 8, 2016 — This past July 18, in the Cuban capital, Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Mujica, the head of the Capdevila Special Command of Firefighters, Boyeros municipality, and of the prevention unit of the José Martí Havana Airport, was detained.

He’s accused of being the brains behind a hypothetical illegal operation — in addition to being a millionaire — involving trafficking and contraband: exploiting an advantageous privilege, like having free access to restricted areas of the upper terminals of the Havana airport, in order to charge passengers for taking out and/or bringing into the country prohibited articles without passing through the correct customs and migration controls. They also impute to him the supposed use of firefighter unit inspections to put obstacles in the way of projects and foreign investments and then accepting the ubiquitous bribe to release the permits. Continue reading “Top Official Of The Ministry Of The Interior Implicated In Contraband Case: Crime Or Reckoning? / Juan Juan Almeida”

Sources who claim they’re close to the case, and who prefer to remain anonymous for their own protection, reveal that at the moment of the arrest, the authorities were alerted about another individual, nameless for the moment because it hasn’t been leaked, who managed to escape the country recently, with an unknown destination and false documents, and who could be the possible co-author of these continued crimes.

“What’s bad about that?” asks someone who then answered himself. “It’s one of the ways, secretly but with previous government authorization, that Cuban intelligence uses to bring in or take out of the country merchandise and people. They taught the formula; he learned it and used it.”

Part of the airport security is built over the firefighting unit, which Mujica directs, and is located at one side of the 4,000 meter runway of the Havana aerodome, between terminal 3 of the José Martí airport and terminal 5 of Guajay, where Aero Caribbean and other charter airlines operate commercially. It’s a special location, where, supposedly, packages stolen from the wagons that transport luggage could be taken out without touching the airport, and material and people could enter the airport without the least fear, violating all the legal regulations.

“I’m not saying that Rafael is a saint. The greed of Cuban officials is a notable phenomenon. They all feel the need to grab property in order to face a future that appears uncertain, that seems to offer no shelter. So it’s more than a case of corruption. It looks like a settling of accounts,” says someone here in Miami who identifies himself as a friend of the detained soldier.

“The Cuban military class to which he belongs has turned its back on him out of fear. But doesn’t it seem strange that Mujica, today presumed corrupt, hasn’t created bad memories among anyone who knows him or his subordinates? Doesn’t it seem equally strange that, having so much money as they supposedly say, he lives in a modest home wth the roof falling down, in the neighborhood of Lawton?”

Translated by Regina Anavy

Trading With the United States is a Task for the Cuban Military / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 July 2106 — On April 22, 2016, the U.S. State Department revised Section 515.582 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which now establishes that goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs on the island can be exported to the United States. The Government of Cuba has had for a while, as an experiment, a clever strategy that applies today and is baptized with the emphatic name of “Associative and Cooperative Operation of Productive Troops.” It’s not transparency; it’s a matter of publicity.

The American Government’s method is to offer new and better business opportunities to the Cuban private sector. The response of the island government is to distort the scheme and confound U.S. institutions. As already noted in the preceding paragraph, now they have to do the paperwork. The plan is simple: transform the military corps that is part of the productive ground troops of the Cuban Armed Forces into small, false groups of independent producers. Continue reading “Trading With the United States is a Task for the Cuban Military / Juan Juan Almeida”

One thing that stands out among the skilled actions that the Great State of the Armed Forces of Cuba is implementing to make political currency from its exports is the change in cooperation between the Army and “Plan Turquino.” This development program, founded in 1987 and alluding to the highest elevation in Cuba, gave priority to the economic, political and environmental development of Cuba’s mountainous zones. The emphasis was on the production of coffee, cocoa, sugarcane, various crops, cattle development, forestal activities and services. These have already been transferred to fictitious civilian entities, created under the profile of private cooperatives but clearly directed by sergeants and/or lieutenants from the different provinces.

Concrete examples of this shiny disguise are a coffee plantation of the El Salvador municipality, two of Yateras and one of Maisí, which, until yesterday, belonged to the Territorial Military Headquarters of Guantánamo Province, and presently appear registered as farming associations.

The same thing is happening in Santiago de Cuba. Two coffee farms of the III Frente municipality and two of the II Frente are in the phase of documental masking in order to demonstrate and convince the U.S. of their “entrepreneurial independence.”

In Granma province, various coffee farms are in a similar process of subverting the documentation: four in the Buey Arriba municipality, two in Guisa and one in Bartolomé Masó. And in Cienfuegos, the same thing is happening with two coffee fields in the Cumanayagua municipality that pretend to pass from the olive-green cap to the yarey sombrero.

It’s curious to hear, from morning to night, that these new entrepreneurial economic organizations, which supposedly function independently from the State, count among their assets such top technology equipment as coffee pulping machines (recently imported), bulldozers and trucks, in addition to the disinterested collaboration of the army camps that, “voluntarily,” are ready to replace the deficit of the coffee workforce on the island.

What they’re after with this idea is to camouflage squads of soldiers under a very-well-designed facade of worker associations with management autonomy to export the product to the United States, without any “ifs, ands or buts.”

For the time being, Cuban soldiers have placed special interest on the subject of coffee.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Cuba Continues Sending Doctors to Brazil and Venezuela / Juan Juan Almeida

Doctors in Brazil with (now ousted) President Dilma Rousseff

Juan Juan Almeida, 28 July 2016 — In spite of certain comments, important desertions, crises, adjustments and a new renegotiation, the Government of Cuba will continue sending doctors to health programs in Venezuela and Brazil.

Cuban health authorities scour the island, from end to end, affirming in every corner that they are prepared to interrupt or cancel these two medical missions. In this coming and going, they also announce a new strategy to redirect cooperation, increasing the health service on the island for tourism, and they emphasize that they’re not going to close the mission in Venezuela or any of its states. Continue reading “Cuba Continues Sending Doctors to Brazil and Venezuela / Juan Juan Almeida”

So yes, they’re going to reduce the work-force, because the agreements between the Cuban and Venezuelan governments were signed when a barrel of oil had an exuberant price, and today it has another.

According to official information, published in the digital portal of the Cuban News Agency, 98 Cuban doctors, recent graduates of the University of Medical Sciences of Havana, will leave soon for the Bolivarian Republic, but the notice doesn’t mention that they’ve reduced the number of collaborators who aren’t doctors.

The agreements are readjusted, and the number of workers not directly related to healthcare delivery is reduced. The same thing is happening in the Andean state of Táchira, where, owing to the renewed contract, every collaborator (non-medical professonal) has to travel in a minibus to distant and dangerous zones daily, to care for up to four of the 25 Centers of Integral Diagnostics that exist. A Cuban-style agreement: multiply the work and the responsibility, not the salary.

In Brazil something very different is happening. The mission enjoys better health and the impact of the “More Doctors” program is greater. There the coverage for primary health care is growing — this is already a reality — and it certainly grew more in the last two years than in the seven previous ones.

One significant detail is that during the journey of the Olympic torch through the Brazilian states, it was a Cuban doctor, Argelio Hernández Pupo, who carried the flame in the northeastern city of Lagoa Grande.

Brazil will receive athletes, tourists, celebrities and the press. So, because of the Olympic games, and the danger from the outbreak of Zika, the Cuban authorities have made provisions to curtail the vacations of the medical and non-medical missionaries for the months of July and August. They will begin returning to the island beginning September 15.

However, “Cuban health personnel will increase there. It’s programmed that this month some 250 doctors will go to Brazil with the mission of filling in the gaps,” said a terrified source who declined to be identified, although, worried, he added, “The truth is I don’t know what ’the gaps’ means.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

They’re building houses for Cubans deported from the U.S. / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 4 July 2016 — The Cuban authorities are preparing to receive, in a short period of time, a bonanza  of Cubans with deportation orders in the U.S. They’re constructing for them, in an undeveloped area, what many call a “polyfoam” neighborhood.

Judicial and police matters are subjects that both governments discuss with a view to normalizing and perfecting relations. In agreement with official data published in July 2015, they have mandated the deportation of 35,106 Cuban nationals in the U.S., of which, at this moment, 162 are detained and 34,944 are at liberty.

One of the lawyers for the Office of Housing said that this ward, located in the Havana municipality of Boyeros, very close to Avenida Vento, just on the border that separates Capdevila and Altahabana, which has been conceptualized as “Popular Council Capdevila 1,” was conceived to shelter and/or isolate the Cubans expelled from the North.

Continue reading “They’re building houses for Cubans deported from the U.S. / Juan Juan Almeida”

The deportees will come together, in this one-of-a-kind district, with a “thousand beings.” Some have spent years, by the grace of God, without housing, because their houses collapsed; some are ex-prisoners whose conduct is still marginal, and certain families are “special cases” whose homes were expropriated, by force and without claim, for different reasons.

How to bring snow to the desert 

With an acceptable and misleading image that falsifies its real and flimsy character, the area is composed of small, multi-family buildings constructed of polyurethane foam boards. For the time being, and it seems that even later, they won’t have numbers on the front doors. The streets still haven’t been paved and there is no adequate signage. But, as a Mexican move star said, “This doesn’t have the least importance or the greatest transcendence.”

Accommodating a new neighborhood with different concepts can be confusing. I’m speaking of hospitality, housing and prison.

I managed to talk with someone who works there constructing these buildings, a specialist in the material cited, and who identified himself as the architect for the community.

The professional explained that polyurethane foam offers total thermal and water-repellent insulation. It’s easy to handle, doesn’t contaminate the environment, contains no insects or rodents, doesn’t need any special care, doesn’t decay, doesn’t rust or become moldy; it’s light, flexible, elastic, waterproof; the chemicals are inert, and it serves as an excellent insulator from noise. But here’s the thing: It’s not designed for the load to which it’s being subjected. Then he stopped talking and in a subtle transition, mixing honesty, disillusion and imprudence, he concluded: “We’ll see how it holds up when the first hurricane starts blowing. I’ll let you know.”

 

Translated by Regina Anavy

Prominent Holguin Physician "Escapes" Mission in Brazil / Juan Juan Almeida

Dr. Alejandro Guerrero González

Juan Juan Almeida, 25 July 2016 — Although it is not the first case of a Cuban doctor suddenly abandoning his mission overseas, the desertion in Brazil of Dr. Alejandro Guerrero Gonzalez — a leading specialist in general medicine and a former director of Lucia Iñiguez Landin Surgical and Clinical Hospital in Holguin province — is one of the most significant setbacks for the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) in recent years.

“He has left. That is is a fact. But we cannot comment on it publicly,” said an official at MINSAP’S Department of Cooperation, a branch of its foreign relations bureau. The official, who did not give her name, reported, “His daughter went to visit him for a month; we arranged her trip. We now know that, when it was time for the girl to come home, she threw a tantrum and refused to leave. One thing led to another and it became an issue of family loyalty. But the doctor would never have betrayed the mission on his own accord.” Continue reading “Prominent Holguin Physician "Escapes" Mission in Brazil / Juan Juan Almeida”

At this point, party officials, the government and the health ministry are, quite stupidly, trying suppress the story. But accusing one of the Provincial Health Administration’s principal figures, along with his wife and daughter, of “deserting a mission” has led to anger among authorities and expressions of support from the Cuban medical community and a segment of Holguin society.

Guerrero Gonzalez is known for his hard work and strong commitment to improving the quality of public health services.

A professor and instructor, the Banes native is a member of Cuba’s medical elite who turned the eastern province’s surgical clinic into his battleground by encouraging the development of education and medical specialties. His efforts have put the institution at the national forefront in kidney transplants (thirty per year), corneal and bone marrow transplants, stem cell therapies, surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease and the use of prosthetic penile implants.

The physician was part of the team that set up the Cuban medical mission in Guatemala. Along with his wife, also a specialist in comprehensive general medicine, he worked in Brazil while his daughter remained behind in Cuba, which is customary for all children of Cuba’s volunteer workers.

“There’s more take here about Dr. Alejandro’s escape than about the blackouts or preparations for the July 26 commemorations. The guy wanted to save a little money and buy himself a refrigerator. We will miss him a lot. People here were very fond of him. His daughter’s name is Masiel. I downloaded three seasons of Violetta, the Disney Channel children’s television series, for her,” says a young male nurse at the Lucia Iñiguez hospital in Holguin, who has a business on the side distributing the Weekly Packet.