14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 19 April 2016 — In many ways, the elections in Peru reflect in some way the process of democratic maturation in the Americas. I participated in the elections of 2016 as an international observer in response to a shared invitation from Peru’s Political Institute for Freedom (IPL) and the Center for Assistance for Electoral Processes (CAPEL), based in Costa Rica. This was my third experience, after Argentina and Spain, whose electoral processes I also observed.
14ymedio, Havana, 8 April 2016 – On Friday, State Security prevented attorney Wilfredo Vallin from leaving home to participate in a discussion on the Electoral Law. The meeting, to be held at the home of Eliecer Avila, leader of the independent movement Somos+ (We Are More), was hindered by the police who only allowed two of the participants to reach Avila’s home, according to the testimony of Rachell Vazquez, an activist in the group.
14ymedio, Madrid, 31 Mach 2016 – Like “a small crack in the Cuban political system” from which an opening coming. Thus did the attorney and activist Rolando Ferrer define the Otro18 (Another 2018) project during a meeting with journalists this Thursday at the Madrid Press Association. Four of the promoters of this process travelled from the island to present in Spain this initiative that promotes reforms in laws addressing elections, association, political parties and others.
EFE (14ymedio), Havana, 22 March 2016 – Several dissidents who met with President Barack Obama in Havana this Tuesday, assessed the meeting as “positive” and “frank,” and one of them delivered a list of 89 political prisoners recorded by the group he leads.
Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), said Obama was “very clear” and reiterated to the participants at the meeting “his commitment to the cause of human rights and democratic freedoms.”
EFE (14ymedio), Havana, 22 March 2016 — The president of the United States, Barack Obama, praised the “courage” of the dissidents and representatives of independent civil society Cuba at the beginning of the meeting held with them at the headquarters of the United States Embassy in Havana this Tuesday.
In brief remarks, Obama stressed that one of the objectives of normalization with Cuba is to be able to “hear directly” from the Cuban people and to ensure that they also “have a voice” in the new stage initiated between the two countries.
The meeting with president of the United States was attended by Berta Soler (Ladies in White), Miriam Celaya (activist and freelance journalist), Manuel Cuesta Morua (Progressive Arc), Miriam Leiva (freelance journalist), Guillermo Fariñas (former political prisoner and 2010 Sakharov Human Rights Prize recipient), Antonio G. Rodiles (State of SATS), Elizardo Sánchez (Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation), Nelson Matute (Afro-ACLU president, defense organization for black people discriminated against because of their sexual orientation), Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), Dagoberto Valdes (Coexistence ), Jose Daniel Ferrer (UNPACU), Yunier Angel Remon (rapper The Critic ) and Juana Mora Cedeño (Rainbow Project).
“It often requires great courage to be active in civil life here in Cuba,” Obama said, adding he said.
“There are people here who have been arrested. Some in the past and others very recently,” stressed the president.
On Monday, at least a dozen dissidents were arrested in Cuba, according to the dissident Cuban National Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), which also counts nearly 90 political prisoners on the island.
Participating in the meeting with Obama were government opponents who support the new US policy toward the island, as is the case of Cuesta Morua, and others who criticize it, as is the case with Berta Soler of the Ladies in White.
14ymedio, Havana, 15 March 2016 — It was an open secret that the United States would approve a new package of relaxations before Barack Obama’s official visit to Cuba. However, the new measures that widen Cubans’ access to the dollar and the ability of Americans to visit the island have taken some by surprise, among them the official press which, two hours after making the information public, still hasn’t reacted.
On the streets the rumor is just starting to get out that “the yumas (Americans) opened up the fulas (bucks),” a reference to the authorization to use the U.S. dollar from Cuba, and the new ability for residents of the island to maintain bank accounts in the United States. Amid the daily hardships, many cling to the hope that “Obama’s package-attack,” as it was baptized by a taxi driver this morning, will improve their lives.
Among the amendments that are beginning to spark the most excitement is the possibility that United States companies can engage in transactions “related to sponsorship or contracting with Cuban citizens to work or provide services in the United States,” a measure that benefits athletes, artists and other professional sectors.
Moises is 39 and drives a horse-drawn carriage for tourists around Havana’s Central Park. “I just heard about it because a customer heard it on TV in the hotel,” he told this newspaper. He has a degree in mechanical engineering, and hopes “to get a pinchita (visa) to come and go… I don’t want to stay permanently, but I would like to earn some money over there and live over here,” he explains.
Near the Plaza de Armas, the booksellers only have time to think about their own problems. The authorities in Old Havana have warned them they can’t set up there between 15 and 23 March. “It’s all about Obama’s visit,” complains one who sells books from the fifties and sixties. His daughter, who works in the food industry near the airport has also been told her workplace will be closed until after the visit of the US president.
Despite the inconvenience and the loss of money it means, the bookseller is happy with the new measures. “At last some good news, thank God, because the truth is we’ve had a tremendous bad patch of problems,” he says, cheerfully. Next to him is Osmel, another bookseller who has been selling there for more than a decade. “For my business this is very welcome because it means more trade and probably more tourists. Maybe now they’ll bring more greenbacks to the country,” he speculates.
Among members of the independent civil society, opinions have not been slow in coming. Dagoberto Valdes, director of the magazine Coexistence, believes the new relaxations are consistent “with the policy put in practice in Washington.” However, he demands that “in return, the Cuban government should now end the tax imposed on the dollar, which they justified by the difficulties that existed (in exchanging it) until today.”
Manuel Cuesta Morua, leader of the Progressive Arc, also applauded the gesture. “This is excellent news that indicates the acceleration of the normalization process and it will allow Cuba to better integrate itself into the global economy,” he says. A regime opponent and coordinator of initiatives such as the Otro18 (Another 2018) campaign, Cuesta Morua believes that “the world opening itself to Cuba implies the United States opening itself and that is what is happening.”
“The house of cards constructed by the government over the last fifty-some years to prevent Cubans from connecting to the world is falling down,” added Cuesta Morua.
Activist Miriam Leiva consider it “timely and positive” that Cubans can now use the dollar in banking transactions, because that opens the opportunity for American companies to buy in Cuba companies and also Cuban citizens can import or export goods, not just the self-employed. “What I think is important is that the Cuban government open the possibility to Cubans to enjoy the new measures, that is that it be not only useful for the state, but also for citizen transactions. In short, it is necessary that there be reciprocity with this measure,” she adds.
Satisfaction among the tourists was also evident this morning, as bit by bit they heard the news. Dominic, a German photographer who was waiting for the planting of the new ceiba tree at Havana’s El Templete, believes that news like today’s before the coming of Barack Obama is a hopeful sign. “I’m happy to be in Havana on a historic day, I hope that when I return the economic improvement resulting from a decision of this nature will be noticeable,” he adds.
An artisan on Obispo Street said he didn’t know if the news coming from Washington will be good or bad for Cuba. “To comment on that you have to be an economist, but for me it would be good if, in addition to the Americans ending the ban on using their currency, the government here allowed it to circulate freely and the currency exchanges gave you the real value for it.”
However, skepticism also abounds. “No one can fix this”, said a man who, broom in hand, was trying to remove fallen leaves around the statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, in the center of the square. Near him some were throwing coins – Cuban pesos or Cuban convertible pesos – into the hole where the ceiba will be planted in Havana this Tuesday.
14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 23 January 2016 – Forty years in the life a nation is a short time in the long span of history. In politics, on the other hand, three generations are enough to measure the significance of accomplishments that mark a specific period.
With the Socialist Constitution of Cuba turning 40, we are left with the feeling that 1976 was an insignificant year for the institutionalization of the country. The seminal date continues to be 1959, in which the nature and dynamics of power – anti-institutional – were expressed, and not 1976 in which the Cuban Revolution supposedly institutionalized a process of inclusion of the whole society within fundamental rules that are the same for everyone. Continue reading “Forty Years Later, What Does The Cuban Constitution Need? / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua”
14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 28 December 2015 — The general elections held in Spain this 20 December (20-D) contain a number of important lessons for Cuba and for Cubans, as we look ahead to the electoral process in 2018. Here is a reflection on these lessons, at a distance of space and time.
I participated in 20-D as a kind of international observer in the role of representative of the initiative #Otro18*. In the Principality of Asturias, where I was invited – and which I would like to thank, not only for the beauty in miniature of a city like Oveido, but also because the workings of the political systems can be better observed far from the major metropolitan cities – I observed on my arrival the calm bustle in which all the competing political groups prepared, in various ways, for the important exercise of choosing among the diversity of parties and between the four major faces: Mariano Rajoy (Popular Party, PP, in power since 2011), Pedro Sanchez (Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE), Pablo Iglesias (Podemos, (We Can)) and Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos, (Citizens)). Continue reading “Spanish Lessons for Cuba / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua”
14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 23 October 2015 — During the State-sponsored 12th Forum of Cuban Civil Society Against the Blockade, which ended last Friday at the Ministry of Public Health’s auditorium in Havana, a unique paper was presented. Under the title “The Blockade: Methodology for Calculating Costs,” Pico Nieves, and expert from the National Institute of Economic Research, presented findings that deserve political attention, but not economic.
After listening to the presentation, one question lingered in the air. What logic does the Cuban government follow when it demands compensation for the costs of a voluntary war and, moreover, one that it did not win?
There are at least six arguments that challenge the proposal from Pico’s research:
– Political: Two enemy States do not negotiate. Nothing in international practice or in the literature on States in conflict shows or demonstrates that the friend-enemy relationship, according to the German political theorist Carl Schmitt, involves trade in goods and services between them. The goal motivating such a pair is the disappearance of the other, not business relations. Continue reading “Revolutionary ‘Plattism’* / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua”
Lilianne Ruiz, 9 October 2015 — Oscar needs visibility to get them to stop bothering him in his work just because he is the person he is and because he defends his identity. Typical of those systems where they try to prevent any participation, initiative, voting, creativity. Imagine what kind of hell it is when those who are violent, idle, less intelligent, those who repress, restrict the freedom of the rest.
This interview with Oscar Casanella, my friend, is late appearing in other media and so I am publishing it in my blog.
Oscar Casanella Saint-Blancard has a degree in Biochemistry and is a researcher at the National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology (INOR). He is also an adjunct professor of Immunology with the Faculty of Biology of the University of Havana, where he has taught without receiving wages since 2006. Despite all the services he offers to society, Casanella has been continually harassed by the political police from Thursday 5 December 2013, when he planned to throw a party to welcome home Ciro Javier Díaz Penedo, a graduate in Mathematics from the University of Havana and a musician in the punk rock band “Porno para Ricardo,” who has been his friend for twenty years and who was returning to Cuba. Continue reading “An Interview of a Friend / Lilianne Ruiz”
14ymedio, Havana, September — Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met Wednesday with Cuban dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua–leader of the Progressive Arc and promoter of several citizen projects–during the last day of the 19th version of Forum 2000 in Prague. In the conversation, the head of state was interested in the political and economic events in Cuba and especially the situation with regards to human rights.
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 15 August 2015 — Six hours after the hoisting of the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy along the Malecon, a similar ceremony occurred on 150th Street in the Cubanacan neighborhood where the official residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, charge d’affaires of that country, is located.
All of the heads of the United States Interest Section have lived in this mansion in recent years, and there is a flagpole in its garden. Across from it, congregated hundreds of guests who did not physically fit in the small space where hours earlier American and Cuban officials had witnessed the symbolic act that opened the US embassy in Havana. Continue reading “The Other Flag / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”
Diario de Cuba, Madrid, 3 July 2015 — Several opposition figures from the Island attended in training for Cuban leaders in Madrid, from 2-3 July, looking at the Chilean transition, which was organized by the Association of Ibero-Americans for Freedom (AIL), under the coordination of the former Minister General Secretariat of the Presidency of Chile, the economist Cristian Larroulet and Carlos Alberto Montaner, among other intellectuals.
Casa de America hosted the meeting behind closed doors, focused exclusively on strengthening Cuban civil society. The workshop is part of a continuation of those held in July of last year on the Spanish transition and in March of 2015 on the formation of the Democratic Unity Roundtable of Venezuela (MUD).
These events have as an objective, in addition to the formation of Cuban leaders and learning about transitions, to promote and facilitate meeting spaces, coordination and reflection among the participants. The writers Roberto Ampuero and Mauricio Rojas were others invited to join this initiative, with closing remarks on the dialog addressing the convening topic.
Among the Cuban opposition figures were Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar, Eliecer Avila, Manuel Cuesta Morua and Laritza Diversent.
14ymedio, 20 June 2015 — The second edition of the event Roads for a Democratic Cuba is taking place in Mexico from 18 to 23 June 2015 under the auspices of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA). Participating in this meeting are dozens of political activists and civil society leaders of the Island and the Diaspora. The event will continue through the weekend and until next Tuesday.
Among the topics discussed on the first day is the impact on the Island of everything related to the talks between the governments of Cuba and the United States for the purpose of restoring diplomatic relations. Other areas to be discussed are the options of the opposition, various proposals before a new Cuban Electoral Law and ways to strengthen Cuban civil society. Continue reading “Roads to Democracy for Cuba / 14ymedio”
Cubanet, Ignacio Gonzalez and Osmel Almaguer, Havana, 13 May 2015 – A Mass for the deceased Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, activist, was held this afternoon at the Church of Los Pasionistas in Havana, with Rosa María Payá in attendance. Rosa María, daughter of the Cuban human rights activist and recipient of the European Union’s Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, arrived from the Miami Airport to Cuba on the morning of May 11, to reunite with her family and friends and to honor the memory of her father.
The Mass was attended by activists of the Estado de Sats project, Antonio Rodiles and Ailer González, and by Manuel Cuesta Morua, leader of Progressive Arc, among others.