Most Important, Control / Juan Juan Almeida

According to authorities from the Ministry of Communications, Cuba loses more than ten million convertible pesos a year in income due to fraud in services. And they have warned, there will be penalties.

After a little research, I learned that the real concern of these Cuban officials is not the increase in cloned ETECSA (phone company) cards to call abroad; the real issue is that the use of new technologies – such as calling and receiving calls via the internet, from Cuba to overseas and vice versa – is difficult to control and prevents tracking. This reminds me of the opportune sign, which I saw so many times: A painted eye. The stalker.

26 June 2014

Cuban Mission in Venezuela in Danger / Juan Juan Almeida

They add up to thousands, the Cubans, health professionals, who have been sent to Venezuela since the first Cuban Medical Mission landed in Caracas December 16, 1999.

Our technicians, doctors, nurses; they continue and will continue fulfilling the Hippocratic Oath in the South American country and the sacred duty of offering medical attention to all who need it.

The enthusiasm of the first collaborations has eroded, today all the personnel of the Cuban medical cooperation seem to be transitioning to a bad moment, full of insecurity and uncertainty, because among many other situations, they confront the discontent of a wide sector of the population.

So shows a classified report dated last Friday, June 13, signed by Dr. Victor Gauter, chief of all the missions, and sent with urgency to the Cuban Public Health Ministry. Continue reading

Wait, There’s Nothing Else To Do / Juan Juan Almeida

Some days ago they announced the closure to all traffic of the route over the “iron bridge”, the swing bridge in the city of Havana, which links the Municipal Square with the beach. Because yesterday they started, or at least that´s what they said, some capital maintenance works; the first ones in 55 years. The intention is to put back in order both the physical operation of the bridge, and also its appearance.

What I recall is that, some time ago, quite some time ago, because of the extensive damage to the bridge´s elements, it was necessary to limit it to only pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles, because of its bad state.

Now, all we can do is wait, and see if they will really will do what they promise, or if it´s just another superficial paint-job.

Translated by GH

17 June 2014

The New Man in Cuba in Search of Anabolic Steroids / Juan Juan Almeida

You don’t need to be an expert critic, clairvoyant sociologist or a wise politician to understand that when you grow up in a totalitarian and absolutist country like Cuba, flooded with numerous afflictions, it’s normal to feel small.

Thus, because of the great restrictions on individual freedom, the meager access to modernity and a determined idleness, every day more young Cubans, trapped in the wrong time of an epoch that doesn’t move on, however much it’s announced, and doesn’t arrive, evade reality by finding refuge in sex, drugs, alcohol, emigration, robbing, lying and in a new sickness that, although it’s not recognized as such by the international medical community, is now all the craze.

The consumption of anabolic steroids has grown into an epidemic, especially among adolescents and young people, who want to improve their physical and esthetic qualities. They also are sure they will lose body fat, which is in vogue. Continue reading

Public Health In Cuba, Between Missions, Rabies and Dengue Fever / Juan Juan Almeida

The Cuban Ministry of Public Health turned 105 years old.  Congratulations. Personally I think that health is the most precious non-material heritage a human being can count on.  It should be considered a right for all citizens of the world and a responsibility of each State.

It is sad to know that in spite of the wide arsenal and enormous development that medicine world wide counts on, almost 10 million infants and pregnant women die prematurely each year for causes that, in large measure, are preventable.  Such a powerful reason leads me to applaud the collaboration that, in medical matters, the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) and Cuban doctors offer in different countries.

Ignoring this would be a form of blindness; but clearly, because there is always a why, we should not forget that behind this so fiercely kind action, health has also a conquistador nature. Continue reading

What Is Known Is Not Questioned / Juan Juan Almeida

According to Martin Pupo, director of the Holguin Operations Base Business Unit, since March 2013 they put into operation Fleet Management and Control (on board computers known as GPS) in trucks that supply the business network far and wide in the Holguin municipalities.

The idea is to stop fuel loss; but a recent inquiry carried out by MINAL found that the business in question used monthly something more than 21 tons of fuel.  And it is logical that the costly measure will not achieve its objective because the neighbors say that in reality those who know “where the bodies are buried” are the ones who are implicated, those who steal and sell petrol are not the truck drivers but the managers signing false delivery orders.  I did not tell them.

Translated by mlk.

3 June 2014

Dialogue Without Future / Juan Juan Almeida

Young historian Elier Ramirez asserts that “Dialogue, Dialogue” is a space for debate and reflection that the Cuba Pavilion welcomes each month by initiative of the Saiz Brothers Association.

What’s extraordinary is that he calls for dialogue, and I am neither adding nor removing a comma, about the exchange of necessary ideas at this moment in order to stimulate in different social circles the debate about the topics related to current national affairs in pursuit of assuring the continuity of The Revolution.  If you understood, explain it to me.

Translated by mlk.

30 May 2014

Radio Marti’s Listeners on the Central Committee of the PCC / Juan Juan Almeida

Radio Marti’s Hertz waves arrived in the Cuban ether May 20, 1985. That Monday, the island radio scene was disconfigured. Today I want to tell the same history from another perspective.

Fidel Castro, the man of pride stuck to the military uniform, hated surprises, and that’s why, long before the day that Senator Paula Hawkins presented the draft bill, he had already ordered his most loyal ears, within and outside of the United States, to obtain facts and information about what later happened. And at the same time, he installed an invisible army that, like mold spores lurked, awaiting the opportunity to act. Continue reading

Turn Off The News / Juan Juan Almeida

When last week, the official gazette announced special admission permits for those foreigners who buy or rent dwellings in Cuba, several news media outlets, seemingly not very well informed, put together a whole hornet’s nest.

Wow, what a way to let yourself be manipulated.  It’s hard to believe that so many know-it-alls don’t know that since the end of the ’90’s, when the island’s real estate boom became fashionable, the Cuban government already gave the gringos who bought (or rented), temporary residence, renewable annually, and the right to import a car.  Before reporting, take a refresher.

Translated by mlk.
28 May 2014

The Best Option, A Meeting / Juan Juan Almeida

For the seventh time jurists and professionals associated with the administration of justice from 16 countries are meeting in Cuba. This isn’t some low level meeting, having been convened by the People’s Supreme Tribunal (TSP).

In his opening words, the president of the TSP, Ruben Remigio Ferro, who is not the father of my writer friend Dania Ferro, highlighted the importance that the event presents because the exchange of experiences — in his judgment — will contribute to the employment of good practices within the Cuban judicial system, which is being adjusted at the same time as the updating of the economic model. And he put special emphasis on the achievements reached in the process of renovating the law and the activity of the courts, and in the confidence of Cubans in their institutions of justice.

This latter is not believed even by the mother who gave birth to him, with apologies to the lady. Trust in the institutions of justice?  That for Cubans on the island is science fiction.

Whatever, have a happy weekend.

Translated by mlk.

23 May 2014

Thinking of a Homage to Jose Marti / Juan Juan Almeida

Many times I have asked myself why we, those who want change in Cuba, lend ourselves to coloring the past of an island that, however idyllic, perhaps never  existed, why we work so hard not to look to the future, or why we don’t throw ourselves whole-heartedly into solutions where we can all co-exist.

Of course the past matters; without it we wouldn’t know where we came from or possibly where we are going; but holding onto yesterday is like a living death. It is time to raise anchors and throw aside the culture of confrontation, hatred and frustration. Continue reading

Fraud, It’s Olive Green / Juan Juan Almeida

On May 6 in Cuba the entrance exams for Higher Education began. That day the mathematics test was held.  After the conclusion of the test, information was received, through several avenues, about the leakage and knowledge of its contents for students from several high schools in the capital.

The curious thing is that now, after several days, the newspaper Granma says that it has been able to determine that unscrupulous people stole the exams and gave it to the students who obtained it through lucrative offers. So far there are three high school teachers  involved.

Why do they do it?  I don’t know; but I learned years ago that the child (generic) does more what he sees done, than what they tell him to do.

Translated by mlk.

22 May 2014