Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)
Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 18 August 2016 — The tabloid with the updates of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party Guidelines, is distributed lately without fanfare. The few copies on sale in the newsstands and the majority of people’s lack of interest in official documents, suggest that very soon they will be forgotten. However, to not analyze or question them would be another form of meekly accepting their principles.

From the opposition sector voices are heard describing these new party directives as “tricks and traps from a caste that maintains itself in power.” The foreign press, for its part, has been quick to draw conclusions after a sidelong glance at them, but few have plunged into othe274 points plagued with grandiloquent propositions, commitments that seem to be dreams, and a syntax that is difficult to understand. Continue reading “Oblivion Awaits The New Party Guidelines / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

In Puerto Rico, Cubans Call for a Commission Against Impunity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Cuban National Conference in Puerto Rico (14ymedio)
Cuban National Conference in Puerto Rico (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, San Juan, 15 August 2016 — The emergence of a new opposition partnership called the Conference of the Cuban National Congress is the most notable result of the event that has gathered in Puerto Rico 65 organizations from the island and in exile.

After lengthy and complex discussions in which there was laughter and tears, reasoned arguments and passionate declarations, lights and shadows… in short, Cubans. An agreement has been reached to forge an integrated structure with a Coordination Committee composed of 22 elected representatives. Continue reading “In Puerto Rico, Cubans Call for a Commission Against Impunity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Cuban Second National Conference Debates Principles of a “New Cuba” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

”United We Will Be Free” is the slogan of the conference, which involved nearly a hundred activists from the island and from exile (14ymedio)
”United We Will Be Free” is the slogan of the conference, which involved nearly a hundred activists from the island and from exile (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 12 August 2016 — The Cuban 2nd National Conference is meeting this Friday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, under the slogan “United we will be free,” with the presence of nearly a hundred activists from the island and from exile.

The event seeks to “provide a space for reflection and dialogue among the greatest possible number of opposition organizations” to discuss, among other things, the principles of a “New Cuba.” Throughout the meeting, which will run until noon on Monday, there will be a discussion of the creation a structure of unity of action in diversity inside and outside Cuba. Continue reading “Cuban Second National Conference Debates Principles of a “New Cuba” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Ivan Hernandez And Felix Navarro Prevented From Leaving Cuba “A Second Time” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. (Twitter / @ivanlibre)
Ivan Hernandez Carrillo. (Twitter / @ivanlibre)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 11 August 2016 – Cuba’s immigration authorities prevented activists Ivan Hernandez and Felix Navarro from traveling outside Cuba this Thursday. The former prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring were invited to participate in the 2nd Cuban National Conference that be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 12 to 14 August, but were unable to board their flight at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where they ran into Reinaldo Escobar, 14ymedio’s editor

The answer that each of the dissidents received on presenting their documents to the Immigration and Nationality official was: “You cannot leave a second time.” Continue reading “Ivan Hernandez And Felix Navarro Prevented From Leaving Cuba “A Second Time” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

“The Cuban Nation Is Wounded, But It Will Laugh Again” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Camagüey Pastor Bernardo de Quesada. (14ymedio)
Camagüey Pastor Bernardo de Quesada. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 8 August 2016 – Everyone in the Versalles neighborhood in the city of Camagüey knows Bernardo de Quesada Salomon. Loquacious, restless and the founder of the Apostolic Movement, he has experienced intense months this year, especially January 8th, when the police entered his home and demolished the structure in the backyard that served as a center of worship.

Quesada opened his doors to this newspaper to talk about how he became an adored pastor to his neighbors and malefactor to State Security. On the slab behind his house, where until recently the temple stood, he now meets every Sunday with his congregation under the intense August sun. None of them have stopped coming in the last months, despite the campaign against the leader of the church which continues to rage every day. Continue reading ““The Cuban Nation Is Wounded, But It Will Laugh Again” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Amel Carlos Oliva: A Handful Of Guts Against A System / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Amel Carlos Oliva receiving hydrating serum at the September 28 Polyclinic. (Twitter)
Amel Carlos Oliva receiving hydrating serum at the September 28 Polyclinic. (Twitter)

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 4 August 2016 — On August 13, the 90th birthday of Fidel Castro, there will not be only official festivities. If the young activist Carlos Oliva Amel holds to his decision not to eat, that day will mark one month of his hunger strike. The government opponent is fighting an uphill battle: his body deteriorates and the government appears deaf to his demands. This member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) is fading slowly without his demands being answered.

Amel Carlos Oliva told 14ymedio during on phone call on Wednesday, the 22nd day of his fast, that he felt a lot of pain “in the knee, and acidity.” Two days ago he received a rehydration drink at the September 28 Polyclinic in Santiago de Cuba that eased the “heartburn” but now he is again suffering from “nausea and dizziness.” The dissident complained that in recent days he has been totally surrounded by a “strong repressive operation.” Continue reading “Amel Carlos Oliva: A Handful Of Guts Against A System / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Fidel Castro’s Proclamation, A List Of Unmet Instructions / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Carlos Valenciaga, chief of staff to Fidel Castro, as he read the proclamation on the night of 31 July 2006. (TV screenshot)
Carlos Valenciaga, chief of staff to Fidel Castro, as he read the proclamation on the night of 31 July 2006. (TV screenshot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, Reinaldo Escobar, 30 July 2016 — Ten years after the Proclamation in which Fidel Castro announced his departure from power, that document continues to reveal distinctive features of a personality marked by the desire to control everything. More than an ideological legacy, the text is a simple list of instructions and it is unlikely that the official media—so addicted to the upcoming major anniversary of Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday—will offer an assessment of whether these instructions have been followed.

On 31 July 2006, the primetime news broadcast brought an enormous surprise. Around nine at night Carlos Valenciaga, a member of the Council of State, appeared in front of the cameras to read the Proclamation of the Commander in Chief to the People of Cuba, where he announced that due to health problems he felt obliged “to rest for several weeks, away from my responsibilities and tasks.” Continue reading “Fidel Castro’s Proclamation, A List Of Unmet Instructions / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

The Erratic Corrections of Machado Ventura / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

The only “next” is the looming return of the economic difficulties. (14ymedio)
The only “next” is the looming return of the economic difficulties. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 July 2016 – Sporting a hat to protect himself from the rays of the sun, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura explained in his speech for the 26th of July that the changes introduced in the Cuban model “are aimed at consolidating our socialism, to make more prospero (prosperous) and sustainable.” The keynote speaker at an event this morning in Sancti Spiritus realized immediately that he had omitted the enclitic pronoun “it” next to the verb “to make” and corrected it but introduced a new error: “To make it more proximo (next) and sustainable.”

To the cheerful confusion of those who didn’t notice the initial grammatical slip, the vice president conveyed the impression that he hadn’t meant to say prosperous, but proximo (next). The correction thus became a political problem, because if there is something Cubans know it is that the promised socialism “without haste, but without pause” could be anything or have innumerable oddities, but in no way is it “next.” Continue reading “The Erratic Corrections of Machado Ventura / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Mariano Murillo, the Marked Card Up Raul Castro’s Sleeve/ 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar

Mariano Murillo, former Minister of Economy and Planning
Mariano Murillo, former Minister of Economy and Planning

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 15 July 2016 — The ouster of Marino Murillo as head of the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) raises the question of whether it was a fall into disgrace or an act of protection. An official statement said that Murillo would dedicate himself to the implementation of the Communist Party Guidelines and recognized his work as minister. The praise contrasts with the terrible results of the Cuban economy in the first half of this year and raises the question of whether Murillo’s removal, in reality, hides a promotion.

It is obvious that Cuba’s current situation is producing an important shuffling in the higher echelons of the government. The replacement of the first secretary of the Union of Young Communists, the untimely replacement of the Minister of Culture, and the departure of the head of Higher Education, have put the entire cabinet on notice at a time when even the official media speak of “the critical situation the country is experiencing.” Continue reading “Mariano Murillo, the Marked Card Up Raul Castro’s Sleeve/ 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar”

“They are afraid of us” / 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar

Armando Avila and his wife, Yurisleisy Pérez Calzada. (Facebook)
Armando Avila and his wife, Yurisleisy Pérez Calzada. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 13 July 2016 — Before leaving Cuba, Armando Avila was an auto mechanic specializing in brake systems in Ciego de Avila. In December 2015, he took a flight to Ecuador with the intention of reaching the border between Mexico and the United States to invoke the Cuban Adjustment Act. On July 9 he was returned to Havana by force, in a group of 29 Cubans deported by Rafael Correa’s government.

Avila, 45, spoke with 14ymedio by telephone on Monday and said he did not feel like a deportee or a returnee, “but someone kidnapped.” The migrant, who wanted to keep his current whereabouts unknown, recalled that “the laws of Ecuador consider that no one is illegal and they can only deport those who have committed a crime.” Continue reading ““They are afraid of us” / 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar”

Zona+ Hopes to be Cuba’s First Wholesale Store / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Zona+ from the outside.
The new Zona+ store from the outside.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 July 2016 – A week after its opening the store Zona+ still hasn’t received permission to offer its products at wholesale prices, Located on Calle 7th A, between 66th and 68th in Havana’s Playa district, it has a strong competitor about 300 yards away in the market on 70th Street, one of the most well-stocked in the capital.

The commercial slogan of the new store says that clients can find what they need there “and more.” Although it has not been officially announced in any national media, it’s already known that its most promising attraction is that it will operate under the concept of a wholesale market, one of the most common demands of private entrepreneurs, especially those who have restaurants, cafes, or rent rooms with meals included. Continue reading “Zona+ Hopes to be Cuba’s First Wholesale Store / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

The Hour of Truth / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

A man holds up an edition of the official daily Granma, from 2015. Headline: “Fidel sends a message to Cuban university students.” (EFE)
A man holds up an edition of the official daily Granma, from 2015. Headline: “Fidel sends a message to Cuban university students.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Miami, 2 July 2016 — In October of 1988, students of the School of Journalism at the University of Havana, formulated 28 awkward questions posed to Fidel Castro at a meeting held in the theater of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Havana. One question touched on the thorny issue of a personality cult in the media. The then all-powerful Carlos Aldana, head of the Department of Revolutionary Orientation, assured his boss that an incident of this nature would never be repeated.

Nearly three decades later the militants of the Young Communist League (UJC) of the Vanguardia newspaper in Santa Clara province, bursting with bravery (or innocence) sent a letter to the Union of Cuban Journalists in which they denounced the limitations on freedom of expression experienced by information professionals, limitations that come, according to them, from “the extra-journalistic forces that investigate us in our workplaces and in the CDRs (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution); that follow our every step and call us to account for the publication of comments or controversial works.” Continue reading “The Hour of Truth / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

The Private Press In Cuba / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Newsagent in Cuba. (Luz Escobar)
Newsagent in Cuba. (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Miami, 30 June 2016 — In a recent discussion among colleagues of the national press, the issue of ownership of the mass media came up. With the firmness that characterizes those convinced that something is wrong, comments were made that in Cuba the media is social property and the idea was expressed that it could never be private property.

Perhaps the essence of the concept of property is explained by the capacity of the owner to make decisions about the object they possess. There is no value in titles and legal registrations that certify that a house, a business or a bicycle belongs to an individual if they can’t sell it, modify it or use it as they see fit, respecting the law of course. Continue reading “The Private Press In Cuba / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

No Diploma Certifies Us As Parents / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

The statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in Old Havana, on Father’s Day Sunday without a single flower. (14ymedio)
The statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in Old Havana, on Father’s Day Sunday without a single flower. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 June 2016 – Those of us who have had the joy of being parents spend our lives asking ourselves whether we have done well, if in the strict judgment our children will make about our work will we earn a good score, a mediocre grade or, instead, a resounding disapproval.

The Venezuelan singer Franco de Vita says it is “not enough” to feed our offspring, surround them with comforts and conveniences, or guarantee that they receive an education, we must also respond to their questions. But our answers, which we have to improvise in a second, will be the most momentous memories our children have of us. Continue reading “No Diploma Certifies Us As Parents / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”

Alejandro Barrios, A Son Of Candelaria Who Died In Pulse / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

María Magdalena Puente, Alejandro’s grandmother, shows a picture of her grandson. (14ymedio)
María Magdalena Puente, Alejandro’s grandmother, shows a picture of her grandson. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Candelaria, Cuba, 17 June 2016 — At two in the morning last Sunday the villagers of Candelaria in the province of Artemisa slept peacefully. At the same time, in the city of Orlando in Florida a fierce firefight broke out in the gay nightclub Pulse, amid an evening of Latin music.

Alejandro Barrios Martínez, born in Candelaria 21 years ago, had settled in the city of Orlando where his father Saul Barrios had called for him. There, in 2014, he found a job, a partner, and also came to believe that there he would spend the rest of his life. That night he was at Pulse to celebrate a new job, but stumbled onto death.

On Monday regulars of the wireless network in Cuba learned the news of the shooting on the Facebook pages of some friends. TV channels that are prohibited through satellite dishes began to give details of the terrible event. That same night the whole town of Candelaria learned they had lost a son in the tragedy. Continue reading “Alejandro Barrios, A Son Of Candelaria Who Died In Pulse / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar”