The undersigned, Latin Americans and diverse in our allegiances, professions and interests, but united by a common aspiration for freedom, democracy, equality and well-being throughout the hemisphere, address our fellow citizens and governments, especially those in Cuba, to express the following:
Victor Fowler Calzada, Havana, 30 March 2016 – Contemporary journalism in Cuba will bear, for a long time, the shame of a commentary titled, “Negro, are you Swedish,” that appeared today in the online edition of the Havana Tribune under the signature of Elias Argudín, in the opinion section.
In fact, the talk in Havana is Barack Obama’s daring appearance in the comedy show with the greatest TV audience in the country, Deja que Yo te Cuente, with Epifanio Pánfilo as its main popular character, played by comedian Luis Silva. No doubt it is the most original way he has conceived to reach every household in Cuba, and Cubans are fascinated with that perspective. The natural and easy way Obama has chosen to mingle with Cubans contrasts stridently with the distant and hardbound historical leaders and their claque. It is known that autocrats not only remain isolated in a world that is unattainable for the ordinary Cuban, but that they also don’t know how to smile.
Declaration from Cuba’s Independent Civil Society 19 March 2018
The March 20 to 22 visit [to Cuba] of Mr. Barack Obama, president of the United States, in the company of his wife, Mrs. Michelle Obama, closes a cycle of political boldness and has led to and signifies a new era in the Americas.
This historic turning point with Cuba began 17 December 2014 and was greeted and supported by the majority of its citizens, while it generated a logical environment of controversies outside and inside the more than 45 independent activist organizations that were working in the Democratic Action Unity Roundtable (MUAD), among which are those leading the Citizen Platform #Otro18 (Another 2018) and the Civil Society Open Forum, along with other Continue reading “Declaration from Cuba’s Independent Civil Society in Advance of Obama’s Visit to the Island”
14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 23 February 2016 – As of early 1959, the rebel group that capitalized on the democratic revolutionary win against the Batista dictatorship began labeling as counterrevolutionaries anyone who questioned their decrees, policies and decisions, without differentiating between those who did it through healthy dialog – including from their own ranks – and those who openly and violently confronted them.
The fight for the restoration of democratic institutions was what had united the Cuban people at that time. The trigger that divided the large anti-Batista coalition was the interest of the rebel leaders to prioritize social and economic transformations and to postpone, indefinitely, the holding of elections and the establishment of a democratically elected government based on the 1940 Constitution. Continue reading “Mistaken Focus Hinders Cuban Dialogue / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos”
14ymedio, Havana, 2 February 2016 — There has never been a beach, but a piece of coast full of pieces of concrete. However, this part of the Havana coastline that everyone calls “Playita 16” (Little Beach 16) is a place filled with memories for several generations of Cubans. Free, ugly, and lacking food services and bathrooms, this conjunction of rock and sea has witnessed rockers, frikis, emos, the poverty-stricken and countless couples in love.
At a time when most of the social centers along the western coastline were for the military or people associated with institutions, this was a place for teenagers looking for a little piece of freedom they didn’t find at home or at school. There were frequent police raids and the vans “loaded with people” heading to the closest police stations. It was also a departure point for dozens of rafters during the Rafter Crisis of August 1994.
Today, despite competition from other meeting sites such as G Street and the emergence of a nice scene beyond the state establishments, Playita 16 has managed to preserve its status as a “place for everyone.” Nothing in it infrastructure has improved and at night, the regulars complain, “you can’t see your hand in front of your face.” But none of that discourages those who frequent it. Of course, to swim there you have to wear shoes, taking care at the edge of the reef, and keep a sharp eye on your towel because of the ever-present thieves.
14ymedio, Camaguey, 8 January 2015 – The police, on Friday, demolished the roof of an evangelical church in Camagüey, according to Fernando Vázquez Guerra, coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in the province. The center of worship, at number 27 Fourth Street in the Versalles neighborhood, is led by pastor Bernardo de Quesada Salomon, founder of Apostolic Move, a Christian movement that separated from the Cuban Council of Churches in 2003.
Police agents stormed the pastor’s house at dawn, and violently arrested him and took him to the police station on Avellaneda Street, near the railroad station, according to the evangelical pastor Alexis Segundo Medina, who lives in Camaguey.
EFE, via 14ymedio, 14 December 2015 — The US President Barack Obama hopes to visit Cuba in 2016, his last year in office, but he only make the trip if he is assured he can meet with dissidents on the island, he said in an interview with Yahoo released Monday.
“If I go on a visit [to Cuba], then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody,” Obama said in the interview, conducted on the eve of the first anniversary of the announcement of the start of the process of normalization of relations between the United US and Cuba.
14ymedio, Havana, 7 December 2015 – Satisfaction in the triumph of the opposition, words of encouragement to the great loser of the contest, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro: these, respectively, were the reactions in Cuba among democracy activists and the ruling party. While Cuban activists celebrated the absolute majority of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), Raul Castro took note of the results and limited himself to predicting “new victories of the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution.”
Cubans were able to listen live to the reading of the first election returns on the Telesur channel, after midnight, in the voice of the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena.
Cuban Catholic activist Dagoberto Valdes believes that these results are “a great triumph of democracy, a sign of the political maturity of the Venezuelan people.” The director of the magazine Convivencia believes “it is clearly the beginning of a new stage in the life of these people and I wish them progress, freedom and democracy.”
A few minutes ago I received a call from a relative of Angel Santiesteban-Prats to inform me that at noon Angel was arrested again. Upon contact with his family, they still did not know why he was arrested and what he is accused of.
He said he would call later in the afternoon and still they have no news of him.
We imagine that it is a reprisal from Castro’s regime for having denounced the life-threatening danger political prisoner Lamberto Hernández Planas is in, on hunger strike, for having been the victim of a new maneuver by the State Security to revoke his parole and prevent his work as an independent journalist.
Once again, as usual for almost three years now, we hold the dictator Raul Castro responsible for the life and integrity of Angel Santiesteban-Prats.
14ymedio, Havana, 4 November 2015 — The writer Angel Santiesteban was arrested on Wednesday afternoon in Havana. A police car drove the activist from Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles’s house, where he was, to a police station, according to Santiesteban himself who spoke to this newspaper at the time of his arrest.
After the arrest, the blogger Lia Villares informed this newspaper that the police told the writer that it was “circulated for a month,” under the alleged “violation of domicile.” This Thursday he could be “tried in the Fifth Chamber of the court,” the same source stated.
Another source told 14ymedio the writer had missed the last time he was supposed to have signed in at the police station, a control measure that he must complete every week, under the terms of his probation. Should certain information arise, the authorities could use this to revoke his parole and return him to prison.
Last July Santiesteban was released after entering prison in December 2012, after a process that was considered by many to be arbitrary and precipitate. At that time he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison also for alleged “violation of domicile and injuries.”
The writer has won significant literary awards, including the Casa de las Américas Prize in 2006. His book The Summer God Slept received the Franz Kafka Novel in Drawer Prize in 2013; the prize is given to censored writers whose work is, literally, “in a drawer” because they are unable to publish in their home countries.
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 23 October 2015 — Tourists like to portray ruins. They do this at the Greek Parthenon, the Roman Coliseum and the crumbling Mexican pyramids. But Havana’s ruins have “another charm.” As in this picture, where a good telephoto lens can capture a tiled wall with enclosed shower, the bowels of an electrical installation, truncated stairs and, hopefully, even the innocent graffiti a teenager scribbled on the wall of his bedroom.
This is the corner of Prado and Teniente Rey, where until recently a seedy little bar served as a meeting point for the gay community. A hunting ground, where the roles of prey and hunter were happily played out between prostitutes and middle-aged tourists.
Perhaps this desolate landscape will not last as long as others that have become emblematic of the capital city. With its privileged position, facing the National Capitol, it can be expected that the debris will be cleared away very soon. Perhaps at first there will be a parking lot, and with time a hotel, a store, an office complex.
I fantasize that the ground floor will house a café where deputies will finish settling the arguments still pending in the Parliament. I see lobbyists, stalking like new hunters, the most influential parliamentarians and I also imagine that the odd nostalgic tourist will lament the crime of what they did with the beautiful ruins.
14ymedio, 23 October 2015 — Tania Bruguera has been selected along with five other candidates as a possible winner of the 2016 Hugo Boss Prize, an award that the Guggenheim Foundation in New York awarded every two years since 1996 in recognition of artists whose work is “among the most innovative and influential of our time.”
Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and ‘Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator’ of the Guggenheim Museum and president of the jury, announced the finalists, chosen by a panel of art critics and curators, on Friday. In the last two decades, the jurors have chosen as finalists influential artists from around the world, recognizing both emerging and established artists of all ages, genders and media.
Along with Bruguera, nominees for the prestigious recognition include the British Mark Leckey, Americans Ralph Lemon and Laura Owens, Egyptian Wael Shawky and South Korean Anicka Yi.
The winner of the Hugo Boss Prize will be announced in the fall of 2016 and will receive $100,000 and hold an exhibition dedicated to their work in 2017 at the Guggenheim Museum.