New Teachers Graduation / Juan Juan Almeida

The provincial director of education in Holguin estimates that the graduation of hundreds of new Education professionals from the province’s two teacher training centers will favorably impact the availability of teachers in the coming school year. The recent graduates will offer classes in the different provinces of the country’s east.

Margarita McPherson Sayu, Vice Minister of Education, said that the entrance of the new teachers into the educational system will mean not only that the faculties will again nurture youth, but also that well-trained professionals will together with the rest help make the leap to the path of quality.

Works for me, as my grandmother used to say. I do not question the quality of the new professionals, I refer to this leap; because the deterioration of instruction in Cuba is so, but so great, that really they need a magician.

Translated by mlk.

10 July 2014

Secrets and Illnesses Among Cuban Doctors in Venezuela / Juan Juan Almeida

The Cuban government, as a tactic, is entrenched in silence, compartmentalization and secrets. This is the reason why, even today, in the age of the internet and despite several defections, it is not common to find real news that described the medical mission in Venezuela from inside.

The subject is “top secret.” The island’s government prefers to hide problems, instead of preventing them with information. Any data that concerns the medical collaboration is considered “classified” and, consequently, remains guarded by the Cuban and Venezuelan special services.

So, weeks ago on the publication of an article titled, “Cuban mission in Venezuela in danger,” the bloodhounds got all upset and lost their cool, and with the momentum of hunters set off in chaotic pursuit. But, on not finding those guilty of “leaking information,” they decided to grab the most likely bidder as a scapegoat so as not to face the resounding echo of their own incompetence. Continue reading

Cuba is Going, But into Exile* / Juan Juan Almeida

According to the authorities, Cubans are now allowed to travel, they can own businesses, and now Cuba is the world champion of freedom. However, even so, desertions from the country continue apace. Within the span of a few hours, ten dancers from the National Ballet of Cuba via Puerto Rico, two tennis players who competed in the Davis Cup, and the members of the women’s Cuban field hockey team, all decide to cross the border to the United States.

Raúl can say what he wants, but judging from events, things — meaning Cuba — are going from bad to worse.

* Translator’s Note:  The first part of the title of this post, “Cuba Va”,  is a play on the title of – and lyrics in – a song by Cuban folk singer Silvio Rodriguez. In the sense that Rodriguez uses the phrase, it can be interpreted as “Cuba will survive” or “Cuba will prevail”.  But the phrase can also be read literally, as in “Cuba is Going” — which is the sense in which the blogger is using it.

Translated by:  Alicia Barraqué Ellison

13 June 2014

Cuba: National Security and Defense of Cattle / Juan Juan Almeida

The “National Defense Council” is, in exceptional situations, the highest institution of power. Whenever it meets, it is charged with internal order, security, foreign policy, military forces, plus all the economic, legal and social activity of the country.

So it is logical to understand why the luggage of the Cuban leaders are filled with reserves of Imodium, Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismal and all the anti-diarrheals in existence, before leaving for the Extraordinary Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, held in Bolivia, the Army General Castro Ruz called for a Defense Council his First Vice President and his Vice Presidents and a select representation of civilian and military.

The topic was the illegal slaughter of cattle that — as argued — is aggravated in the current socioeconomic circumstances: recording-breaking in southern Cienfuegos. The Pearl of the South, as this beautiful city is known, is the province where the highest rate of cattle theft and slaughter.

The pandemic of killers — as revealed in this important meeting — is seriously affecting the national economy; it further reduces the almost non-existent cattle herd and affects the animal heritage of the State companies, cooperatives and individual producers. Continue reading

Very Deep to be Real /Juan Juan Almeida

The Latin Press agency reports that in a scientific seminar of the Cuban Economic Studies Center (CEEC), the attendees analyzed topics related to the updating of the Cuban economic model, among them those related to decentralization, municipalization, education and development.  The specialists linked to this workshop say development has to be built and planned, and should include sector policies, macro-economics, national priorities coordinated with territorial priorities, innovation, competition and a marketplace.

I am convinced that they are talking about another country, because judging by the concrete reality that we touch, the experts met and met again; they studied and studied but in the end, they disapproved.

Translated by mlk.

27 June 2014

The Ex-President Does Not Have a Double/ Juan Juan Almeida

On the evening of June 24 at 5:15 PM, the cyber-comandante Fidel was back, once again offering up his reflections. This time he went to great lengths to explain himself but, unfortunately, no one understood him, not even his own brother.

He started off with his obsessive and repetitive fixation on universal disaster, went on to reprimand the international media for not covering issues of greater importance, and closed by extending his congratulations to Maradona, to Messi, to Telesur and to American soccer players.

Commentaries such as these prove the former president does not have a body double. If he did, he would not write so much drivel.

27 June 2014

Santa Ana In Sight / Juan Juan Almeida

How much Santa Ana day has cost us, and as always, as the date, July 26, approaches I have zero tolerance. Already this year they are announcing the celebration will be in the new Artemisa province.

Then, all the national press overflows with unending lies, and I read things like this: “In this province by the minute the work atmosphere, enthusiasm, commitments and pride are on the rise, it barely rests, daily we check the previewed works and other actions linked with the population’s quality of life, with the improvement, beautification, and sanitation of towns, cities and centers, declared Raul Rodriguez Cartaya, chief of the Provincial Administration Counsel.”

And it offends me that they keep believing that we citizens are revived by accepting as true this disrespectful stream of lies knowing that the country is falling to pieces.

Translated by mlk.

25 June 2014

Now They Will Leave, But Illegally / Juan Juan Almeida

Gelkis Jimenez, Adriel Labrada, Carolos Manuel Portuondo, Alejandro Jaime Ortiz, Yasmani Hernandez Romero and Diosdani Castillo were ballplayers excluded from a pre-selection of 43 players that was prepared to face a United States university team next July.

According to the president of the Cuban Baseball Federation himself, Higinio Velez, the reason for the elimination is that the mentioned players were caught when they tried to leave the country. More foolish than foolishness, I ask myself if instead of suspending them, if it is not better to let them go. It does not even deserve comment.

Translated by mlk.

26 June 2014

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