Fidel Castro Dies / 14ymedio

Fidel Castro dedicating himself to the cultivation of moringa. (EFE)
Fidel Castro dedicating himself to the cultivation of moringa. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana 26 November 2016 — Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, his brother, President Raul Castro said today in a speech on Cuban state television.

“With profound pain I appear to inform our people, the friends of our America and of the world, that today, 25 November 2016, at 10:29 PM, the commander-in-chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died,” said Raul Castro, visibly moved.

The president added that the remains of the historic leader of the Revolution would be cremated according to his “expressed will” and that in the coming hours he would offer the people “detailed information on the organization of posthumous homage to pay tribute to him.”

The last images of Fidel Castro are from 15 November, when he received at his residence the president of Vietnam, Tran Dai Quang; and the last time he was seen at a public event was August 13th, on his 90th birthday at an event at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana.

On that occasion Castro appeared fragile, dressed in a white track suit and flanked by his brother Raul and the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.

Since his birthday he has also received at home other leaders such as the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani; that of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa; and the prime ministers of Japan, Shinzo Abe; China, Li Keqiang; and Algeria, Abdelmalek Sellal.

In April, at the XVII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, Fidel Castro also reappeared and gave a speech that sounded like a farewell in which he reaffirmed the strength of the ideas of the communists.

“To all of us our turn will come, but the ideas of Cuban communists will remain, as proof that on this planet if you work with fervor and dignity, you can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain them,” Fidel Castro said on that occasion.

The New Man Does Not Know How To Lose / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

flag
Protests in Austin, Texas against Donald Trump’s election as US president (AP)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 14 November 2016 — A friend, a US citizen, once told me that it does not really matter who wins the US elections. “It does not depend so much on who heads the government, because the system is what really works.” I have heard that phrase from more than one person, which prompts us to apply the phrase to the so-called communist regimes, where something similar happens, but in reverse: it doesn’t matter who is in power, because the system itself is what doesn’t work.

However, for some American society sectors, it doesn’t seem that the latter is sufficiently clear, as reflected in the photograph that heads this writing. It is just one image among many others reported by the media about the demonstrations — some with certain violent nuances — that have been taking place in several major cities throughout the United States. Continue reading “The New Man Does Not Know How To Lose / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya”

At first glance, the photo may look harmless, and perhaps even a little naive: a large group of students in Austin, Texas marching in protest of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, a few hours following the announcement of the election results, after one of the most ferocious and vulgar electoral campaigns in American history.

Nevertheless, in spite of numerous Trump-adverse survey forecasts, and against the media attacks that the campaign endured; in spite of the awful projection of his aggressive, racist, xenophobic and misogynist discourse; in spite of his inexperience in politics and the lack of support of his own party; in spite of all these things the controversial tycoon rose with devastating victory in the electoral college. Like it or not, Trump deserves recognition.

Now, sympathy aside, Trump won in good faith, without cheating and without tricks, by virtue of the same electoral system that produced Democrat Barrack Obama – who is black, for an added description — as winner on the two previous occasions without provoking marches and riots by the Ku Klux Klan or the more conservative sectors of society and of the Republican wing.

It so happens that the mere act of going to the polls implies acceptance of the rules of the game; win or lose. In any case, there will always be a new opportunity to reverse the results every four years. One may ask whether, had the Democratic candidate won, Republican voters would have considered it right to attack the system and ignore the confirmed election results.

Because what is involved in these demonstrations is precisely that: an onslaught against the system, masked after the onslaught against the much-vilified businessman. The marches in question are not really naive. Suffice it to note in the Austin photograph the prominence of the Soviet flag, with the hammer and sickle, which heads the protest of the angry youths, several of them with their faces covered. They must have a reason for the need to conceal their identities, for, whoever believes in the justice of their demands in an open, democratic and plural society should have no reason to hide.

In other cities, students have worn T-shirts or carried posters bearing the image of the famous guerrilla and Argentine assassin, “Che” Guevara, a prime example of the revolutionary violence of the radical left in this hemisphere, which is proving to be like a Hydra of a thousand heads. It would seem that we are witnessing the birth of the “New American Man.”

One might wonder, if pro-Soviet and guerrilla longings are the ideals of young marchers in the US, what comes next? Could it be that the worst and most reactionary of the left flinched in Latin America and was overthrown in Russia decades ago only to nestle shrewdly in some university niches full of these outdated children, bored of their cushy existence under the American way of life?

Obviously, youth is not enough of a condition to represent the most renewing of social thought. Here are lots of fresh faces, many of them with unmistakable Hispanic features and other ethnic and racial backgrounds, who today assume the symbols of the most retrograde of universal progression to combat the system that sheltered them, where they enjoy the opportunities that they would not have under “communist” regimes.

“He’s not my President,” their posters brandish. Well, he is the president who has been democratically elected and will govern for the next four years. It would good for them to come to terms with it. In fact, in the face of this outbreak of Marxist bad habits, Republicans will more likely have greater chances of re-election to the presidency of the country.

Perhaps these exalted young people should seek “other lands of the world that beg for their modest efforts” and pursue their dreamed dreams outside their country, just as their fathers and grandfathers did when they arrived in the USA, mistakenly thinking they were forging a better destiny for their families.

And as the sprouts want something else and not what they have at home, it would be best for these neo-communists to depart to more promising lands for their misunderstood aspirations. I propose Cuba, for example. They do not have to settle definitively; it would be sufficient for them to experience at hand the benefits of the system erected under the same breath as the hammer and sickle – though only the hammer is used now, to crush any outbreak of freedom – and where their admired Che began his pristine social experiments.

I would love to see these anti-system youths living under the firm guidance of the communist party and the governing of the never-elected, hand-picked octogenarian in the presidential armchair, the co-founder of a fiercely capitalist family clan that will rule every small detail of their destinies. Let’s overlook the sordid details related to compulsory ideological fidelity, the absolute absence of citizen liberties, the material deprivations, the living conditions in permanent survival mode and other similar trifles. These insignificant nuances should not be obstacles for those who are fulfilling their dreams.

If they don’t like the way things are done in irreversible communism, then I would love to see them launch demonstrations in front of the Havana University staircase or in any of the capital’s avenues or key Cuban cities. They should remember to carry Soviet flags and the beloved images of the emblematic guerrilla. They might even add old photographs of Castro I in his early years as a guerrilla warrior (current photographs are not convenient). Let’s see what happens, and then they will certainly experiment in their hides, in the most convincing way, what Marxist democracy is, symbolized in Che and the Soviet flag.

This might be the best way to learn how to value, in its right dimension, what they have in their own countries. Trump will certainly then look like an adorable archangel.

But let us not be too naïve. There will always be useful fools… or communist agents suitably planted. Let’s not neglect or lose sight of the signs. Sometimes the most insignificant-looking bacteria turn out to be the most harmful.

Cuba Has Only 250,000 Daily Internet Connections, Despite a Tripling of WiFi Zones / 14ymedio

A group of young people connect to the internet in a Wi-Fi zone in Havana (EFE)
A group of young people connect to the internet in a Wi-Fi zone in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 September 2016 — Every day around 250,000 connections are recorded in the 1,006 internet public access points enabled on the island, according to data the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) released Thursday to the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth). Although the country has tripled the number of wireless access zones in parks and central streets in some cities, the density of service remains low for a population of 11.1 million people.

During the year, Cuba went from having 65 Wi-Fi zones to the current 200 in the month of September, according to ETECSA’s director of communications, Luis Dias. The provinces with the greatest increases were Havana (29 places), Pinar del Ril (19) and Granma (16). With the exceptions of Isla de la Juventud, Cienfuegos and Artemisa, the other provinces have installed more than 10 internet zones. The customers in the Wi-Fi zones complain about the poor infrastructure conditions in the parks and plazas for connecting, the congestion of users with the resultant slowing down of the access speeds, and the danger of being robbed of tablets, smart phones or laptops in public places. Continue reading “Cuba Has Only 250,000 Daily Internet Connections, Despite a Tripling of WiFi Zones / 14ymedio”

Some 80% of the daily connections are made on a 2.4 GHz bandwidth, and barely 20% are made on the better quality 5 GHz bandwidth.

Cuba currently has 193 ETECSA navigation rooms, as well as 613 more located in different sites such as hotels, airports, Youth Computer and Electronic Clubs, Ministry of Health sites or Post Offices, among others, which account for about half the internet traffic.

Ana Maria Mendez Piña, senior specialist for Marketing Operations with ETECSA, told the official newspaper that in 2016 they have sold more than 590,000 Nauta permanent service accounts, plus 5.3 million hourly connection cards.

Cuba is one of the poorest countries in the rates of internet access. In 2015, 348 people out of every 1000 had Internet access, according to official figures, mainly due to the high cost of service (at two CUC* per hour), although Etecsa lowered its rates.

*Translator’s note: Two Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) is the equivalent of about $2 US, or as much as two days wages.

Report: Phone and Internet Service in Cuba, How it Works / Anne Nelson

Graphic from the report
Graphic from the report: Click to enlarge to make it more readable.

Download the report here: CUBA’S PARALLEL WORLDS: DIGITAL MEDIA CROSSES THE DIVIDE
By Anne Nelson

Note: Translating Cuba posts this graphic and the link to the larger report, as we post everything on our site, without any “guarantee” that what the authors say is accurate or even true. However this report is getting good reviews by people “in the know,” and the graphic appears to be an excellent and easy to understand summary of the current formal arrangements for phone service and internet in Cuba.

Cuba Must End “Apartheid Against Its Citizens” / Oscar Arias, Laura Chinchilla

Oscar Arias and Laura Chinchilla, signed the appeal along with dozens of Latin Americans. (TicoVisión)
Oscar Arias and Laura Chinchilla, signed the appeal along with dozens of Latin Americans. (TicoVisión)

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:

We celebrate the growing process of normalization in Cuban-American relations and the willingness of other democratic states to increase their interaction with the authorities in Havana. We see an opportunity in this process to encourage a greater inclusion of Cuba in the world and to improve the living conditions of its citizens. Continue reading “Cuba Must End “Apartheid Against Its Citizens” / Oscar Arias, Laura Chinchilla”

At the same time, we condemn the systematic and continuous violation of human rights on the island; the persistence of a political model centered on the control of a single party; the open repression against those who deviate from the official line, and the continuing discrimination against Cubans in favor of foreigners, in areas ranging from economic rights to free access to communications and information.

The time for an act of reciprocity with the democratic world has come, but above all, as an inescapable duty to its own people, it is time for the regime headed by President Raul Castro to begin a genuine process of political and social openness and to listen to the initiatives for change from its citizens, and to reactivate the timid economic changes announced with enthusiasm, but paralyzed amid rigidity, fear and bureaucracy.

The time has come for Cuba to open itself to its own people.

There is no justification to continue preventing Cubans from asserting the basic rights and freedoms that belong to them, and that are widely recognized by universal instruments of human rights. Many of which, paradoxically, have been signed by their own government.

The road to full democracy must be taken without delay. Each new setback prolongs the precariousness and limitations of the people, hinders the chances of success and raises the risks of internal conflicts. Thus, it is time to begin to open the path, recognizing, at least, the following guarantees for all Cubans:

Freedom of expression, understood as the right to seek, receive and impart information, opinions and other content by any means without limitations, censorship or subsequent repression.

Freedom of association, assembly and demonstration.

Freedom of movement inside and outside the country.

The right to petition the authorities and public powers.

The right to elect and be elected in a multi-party environment for all public offices.

The right not to be arbitrarily arrested and detained, to have fair trials before independent courts and have mechanisms for an effective defense.

The right not to be discriminated against in education, employment or social areas because of political or religious beliefs, or for any other reason.

The elimination of ideological control over education.

The freedom to undertake professional, labor and business initiatives without restrictions, and for Cubans to have at least the same opportunities offered to foreign investors or traders. The virtual economic apartheid, but also social and political apartheid, prevailing on the island against its citizens must end without delay.

None of these very basic rights, which are part of everyday life in the vast majority of our countries, can be exercised in Cuba. Worse still, those who dare to claim them are the targets of open repression and systematic marginalization.

In its 2016 World Report, the NGO Human Rights Watch highlights and documents several cases that “in recent years have significantly increased the short-term arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders, independent journalists and others.” Between January and October 2015, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation, declared illegal by the government, received more than 6,200 complaints of arbitrary arrests, which were exacerbated prior to the visit of Pope Francis to the island in September of the same year.

The report also reveals the existence of a difficult to determine number of political prisoners, given the absence of reliable information; beatings and assaults against non-governmental protesters in the street; prison overcrowding; case-by-case restrictions on travel within and outside of Cuban territory; the inability to form independent unions; and the refusal to recognize the defense of human rights as a legitimate activity.

The sad conclusion is that, despite the world and particularly the United States, increasingly having become more open to Cuba, the regime has not opened to its own population, which, with some exceptions of privilege, remains mired in insecurity, controls, lack of opportunities and political and social asphyxiation. This closure must be dismantled; the political, economic and social embargo of the Cuban regime against Cubans must be eliminated.

Direct responsibility to end this situation belongs to the elite that has dominated Cuba since its one-party and monolithic state. However, it extends to the governments of Latin America, so far passive actors and even accomplices to chronic arbitrariness and paralysis of the regime.

“Our America” which the hero of Cuban independence José Martí proclaimed as an ideal of Latin American unity, cannot become reality as long as there persists in Cuba a government that is impervious to citizens rights, and that displays a double standard before the world.

In proclaiming these concerns, we express our desire for Cubans to be able to build, in peace and freedom, a new democratic, peaceful and inclusive order.

Oscar Arias (Costa Rica), former president and Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), former president. Graciela Fernandez Meijide (Argentina), was Secretary of the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. Jaime Malamud Goti (Argentina ), jurist and one of the masterminds of the trial of the military junta in Argentina. Eduardo Ulibarri (Costa Rica), journalist and former Ambassador to the United Nations. Ricardo Gil Lavedra (Argentina), lawyer and politician, member in 1985 of the court that sentenced the military juntas of Argentina’s dictatorship. Beatriz Sarlo (Argentina), essayist and journalist. Carlos H. Acuna(Argentina), political scientist specializing in State and public policy and member of human rights organizations in Argentina from 1977. Roberto Gargarella (Argentina), lawyer and sociologist, CONICET researcher and teacher. José Manuel Quijano (Uruguay), Economist and former director of the Sectorial Commission and the General Secretariat of Mercosur. Sergio Fausto (Brazil), political scientist and Executive Superintedent of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Institute. Roberto Ampuero (Chile), writer, columnist, former Minister of Culture and former Ambassador of Chile, lived in Cuba between 1974 and 1979. Rodolfo Rodil (Argentina), former vice president of the national Chamber of Deputies. Facundo Guardado (El Salvador), former member of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and former presidential candidate. Daniel Sabsay (Argentina), professor of Constitutional law at the Faculty of law of the University of Buenos Aires. Liliana Riz (Argentina), sociologist and senior researcher of CONICET. Luis Alberto Romero (Argentina), historian, National Academy of History. María Matilde Ollier (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Eduardo Viola (Brazil), professor of international relations at the University of Brasilia. Hector Schamis (Argentina), political scientist, teacher, researcher and columnist. Aníbal Pérez Liñán (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Vicente Palermo (Argentina), sociologist, writer and researcher with CONICET. Marcos Novaro (Argentina), sociologist, professor and researcher with CONICET. Alejandro Katz (Argentina), essayist and editor. Roberto Garcia Moritán (Argentina), diplomat and former Vice-Chancellor. Fernando Petrella (Argentina), diplomat and former Vice-Chancellor. Jorge Edwards (Chile), writer and diplomat. Osvaldo Guariglia (Argentina), philosopher and researcher with CONICET. María Sáenz Quesada (Argentina), historian, writer and former Minister of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires. Lilia Puig (Argentina), Congresswoman in Parlasur and former national Congresswoman. Juan Octavio Gauna (Argentina), lawyer and politician, former Attorney General and National Deputy. Fernando Pedrosa (Argentina), historian, teacher and researcher. Raquel Gamus (Venezuela), anthropologist, political scientist and journalist. Patricio Navia (Chile), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Adolfo Garce (Uruguay), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Daniel Muchnik (Argentina), journalist, historian and writer. Carlos Gervasoni (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and researcher .Armando Chaguaceda (Cuba), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Daniel Perez (Argentina), designer and painter, published a testimony on the Cuban military intervention in Latin America during the 60s and 70s. Jessica Valentini (Argentina), lawyer and former Ombudswoman in the city of Cordoba. Sabrina Ajmechet (Argentina), sociologist, teacher and researcher. Jorge Elias (Argentina), journalist, writer and researcher. Alejandro Oropeza (Venezuela), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Francisco Quintana (Argentina), lawyer and legislator of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. Luis Gregorich (Argentina), journalist and writer. Manuel Mora y Araujo (Argentina), sociologist and communications consultant and public opinion relations. Marta Velarde (Argentina), lawyer and former Congresswoman. Carlos Facal (Argentina), lawyer and former president of the Citizens Power Foundation. Andrés Cañizález (Venezuela), journalist, teacher and researcher. Eduardo Amadeo (Argentina), National Deputy, diplomat, economist and former Minister of Social Development. Gabriel Palumbo (Argentina), sociologist, teacher and researcher. César Ricaurte (Ecuador), journalist and activist for freedom of speech and the press. Nicolas Joseph Isola (Argentina), Doctor of Social Sciences and columnist in various media. Romeo Pérez Anton (Uruguay), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Ignacio Labaqui (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Aleardo Laría(Argentina), lawyer and journalist, political exile during Argentina ‘s military dictatorship. Antonio Camou (Argentina), Sociologist, teacher and researcher. Javier Valdez Cardenas (Mexico), journalist. Alejandro Páez Varela (Mexico), journalist. Rolando Rodriguez (Panama), journalist. Maria Sirvent (Mexico), human rights activist. Jose Ruben Zamora (Guatemala), journalist. Rafael Rojas (Cuba), historian, teacher and researcher. Leandro Dear (Argentina), political scientist, professor and head of the NGO electoral transparency. Fernando Ruiz (Argentina), political scientist, teacher and researcher. Martin Landi (Argentina), political scientist and activist freedom of expression. Hugo Machin (Uruguay), journalist and former political prisoner during the military dictatorship in Uruguay. Rogelio Alaniz (Argentina), journalist.

About the Racist Text That Appeared in the Havana Tribune/ Victor Fowler

Victor Fowler
Victor Fowler

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.

One is left almost paralyzed on realizing that someone thinks to make a joke by talking this way, and we awake in the land of hallucinations to discover that the “Negro” in question is none other than Barack Obama, the President of the United States who just visited us. Continue reading “About the Racist Text That Appeared in the Havana Tribune/ Victor Fowler”

For my taste and understanding of how a contemporary society should function, it is one of the worst possible displays to a world that is being told there is no racism in Cuba; as a part of the ‘damage control’ after the visit it seems that hours must have been spent calculating the most demeaning way to refer to a political leader his is considered the enemy and who also is

The example of moral turpitude is worthy of anthology and speaking in plural is justified because something like that does get published – much less – without the review of the Editor in Chief as well as the management of the newspaper.
Faced with this formidable gaffe, and at this exact moment, the least those involved should do is apologize to – not to mention ask humbly for forgiveness, from the public that follows them.

The other thing that would be interesting, without hypocrisy or manipulation, is to receive solidarity because — above ideological or political difference – we must not let racial offenses go by without confronting them.

Obama Drops in on a Game of Dominoes in Havana

Before Obama’s visit he appeared on Cuba’s most popular comedy show, “direct from the White House,” and while he was in Havana, he dropped in, in person.

Miriam Celaya had this to say about the earlier episode:

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.

Here is the pre-trip episode:

Declaration from Cuba’s Independent Civil Society in Advance of Obama’s Visit to the Island

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”

civil and political actors inside and outside of Cuba.

Those of us who are promoting this Declaration are not unaware of the dimension of this geostrategic change, and its double impact on our country and on the hemisphere.

The controversial logic of this process expresses the play of opportunities and challenges opening for all Cubans, and for those in the international community who want to help this geostrategic change effectively contribute to democratic change in Cuba.

We believe that the visit of the president of the United States is another step forward in the full normalization of relations with our country. And in this sense, it fosters a better atmosphere to advance our efforts to achieve the democratization of Cuban society and its political system, and the maturation of a project for an inclusive and pluralistic country.

And it is also an opportunity for the Cuban political class to understand that there is there is no longer any room for the philosophy of the “besieged fortress,” which classifies every dissident as a traitor, nor for the maintenance of a politically exclusive, discriminatory and authoritarian regime. The country should be “with all and for the good of all.”

This new atmosphere should support, progressively, debate among Cubans and a radical change in the behavior of the authorities around six basic themes:

  1. The recognition of the need for a social and democratic state of law, and progress towards the enjoyment of economic, civil and political liberties for all Cubans.
  1. The immediate ratification by the National Assembly, after the signing by the Cuban government in 2008, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the creation of a national system that upholds their postulates.
  1. The cessation of repression and the use of physical violence against all political and human rights activists who use legitimate and non-violent civic action to express their demands.
  1. The release of all prisoners unjustly incarcerated, especially political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and those subjected to conditions of parole.
  1. The repeal of Law 88, the Gag Law, designed to punish Cuban citizens for alleged cooperation with the country that is normalizing, unilaterally and constructively, its relations with the Cuban government and society.
  1. The establishment of an expeditious and transparent timetable for the return of all the rights of citizenship to Cuban emigrants.

We hope, moreover, that the conversation President Barack Obama will hold with representatives of Cuban civil society will not only strengthen the legitimation of pro-democracy activists on the island, but will encourage other international interlocutors to dialog and publicly recognize the plurality of political and civil actors in Cuba.

As the evolution of world affairs demonstrates, countries’ prosperity, stability and sustainability is increasingly dependent on a comprehensive approach in which economic progress can not and should not be disassociated from progress in freedoms and social justice.

With the coming of Mr. Barack Obama to Cuba one part of the call made by Pope John Paul II in 1988 will be fulfilled: let the world open itself to Cuba. Another good starting point for the Cuban government to definitively open itself to all its citizens.

————-

The first group of signatories to this declaration can be seen here, in the Spanish language version.

Related post: An Agenda For Discussion

Havana’s Beach 16 / 14ymedio

Playita 16 in Havana. (14ymedio)
Playita 16 in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 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.

Cuban Police Demolish The Roof Of An Evangelical Church In Camagüey / 14ymedio

Operativo-policial-afueras-Yiorvis-Bravo_CYMIMA20160108_0015_16

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.

Several independent journalists and activists have reported police raids and cuts to their phone service to prevent them from approaching the Versalles neighborhood, according to Henry Constantin, a contributor to 14ymedio, who commented before he was arrested for trying to leave his house. Continue reading “Cuban Police Demolish The Roof Of An Evangelical Church In Camagüey / 14ymedio”

In a phone call from the 14ymedio newsroom to the Cuban Council of Churches, the president of that body, Joel Ortega, showed surprise at the news, which he labeled as “worrying” and he asked for the phone numbers of the pastors involved to investigate the information.

The conflict between Quesada Solomon’s church and the authorities dates back to 2012. That summer, the pastor’s wife bought the building as housing, reserving an outbuilding for church activities and making some cosmetic changes. In October of the same year, the Department of Physical Planning fined the owner for not having requested a license for the work on the outbuilding, which the authorities considered independent of the house. The pastor affirmed that the Provincial Housing Department itself had assured him that a permit was not necessary. In addition, the outbuilding is included in the deed of the house, and so is considered a part of it.

In December, the religious leader was summoned to a meeting at the Provincial Department of Housing where he was told that he should demolish the floor of the outbuilding. Three years later, in December 2015, the minister complained that Camaguey Physical Planning had issued a demolition order against a ceiling constructed in the outbuilding.

Initially, the order required demolishing the roof and was announced on December 3, to take effect seven working days from that date.

On 4 December, Quesada made an urgent call to the international community through the digital site Religion in Revolution, in which he claimed there was persecution “against the Church where more than 600 people gather.”

Obama Will Travel To Cuba In 2016 If He Can Meet With Dissidents / EFE-14ymedio

The US president, Barack Obama. (White House)
The US president, Barack Obama. (White House)

14ymedio biggerEFE, 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.

“I’ve made very clear in my conversations directly with President [Raul] Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba,” he said. Continue reading “Obama Will Travel To Cuba In 2016 If He Can Meet With Dissidents / EFE-14ymedio”

Obama insisted he is “very interested” in visiting Cuba and said it will take a decision “over the next several months.”

“Now would be a good time to shine a light on progress that’s been made, but also maybe to nudge the Cuban government in a new direction.” said the president.

But, If we’re going backward then there is not much reason for me to be there. I’m not interested in just validating the status quo,” he added.

On December 17, 2014, Obama and Raul Castro announced the start of a process to normalize bilateral relations that ended in July, with the reopening of their respective embassies in Havana and Washington after more than half a century of enmity.

Last week, the two countries took a further step towards full normalization with the announcement of an agreement to reestablish direct mail service through a pilot program of transport for mail and packages.

Agreements were also negotiated to establish regular commercial flights between the United States and Cuba and in late November representatives of the two governments in Washington held a meeting focused on the issue of migration and another on combating drug trafficking.

While thousands of Cubans are stranded in Central America in their attempt to reach the United States, Havana has urged Washington to repeat the “Cuban Adjustment Act,” in force since 1966 and which, together with “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, allows Cubans who set foot in the country to stay.

However, the United States has so far refused to make changes to these measures, even after the restoration of relations with Cuba.

Another issue hindering full normalization is the economic embargo on Cuba, the complete lifting of which can only be done by the United States Congress, but Obama has taken enforcement action to ease travel and some commercial transactions.