The Collapse / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Raul Castro, in the presence of Barack Obama, chides a journalist who asks about political prisoners on the island. (EFE)
Raul Castro, in the presence of Barack Obama, chides a journalist who asks about political prisoners on the island. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 26 April 2016 – In films there are final epics. Systems whose final moments pass between the sound of the hammers tearing down a wall and the roar of thousands of people in a plaza. The Castro regime, however, is going through its death throes without glorious images or collective heroics. Its mediocre denouement has become clearer in recent months, in the signs of collapse that can no longer be hidden behind the trappings of the official discourse.

The epilogue of this process, once called Revolution, is strewn with ridiculous and banal events, but they are, indeed, clear symptoms of the end. Like a bad movie with a hurried script and the worst actors, the scenes illustrating the terminal state of this twentieth century fossil seem worthy of a tragicomedy: Continue reading “The Collapse / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

A Chef on the 14th Floor / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

The chef José Andrés cooking in the kitchen of the 14ymedio newsroom. (14ymedio)
The chef José Andrés cooking in the kitchen of the 14ymedio newsroom. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 18 April 2016 — José Andrés arrived in Havana at the best and worst moment of the year. One of the most famous chefs in the world knocked on the door of the 14ymedio newsroom the same day that Barack Obama was saying goodbye to the Cuban people. The shortages in the markets were an incentive rather than an obstacle for the Spaniard who moves easily between the glamorous kitchens of Washington DC and the wood fires of an impoverished Haiti.

In his fingers, each ingredient becomes pure magic. “What do you have?” He asked. And the answer reflected this period of empty shelves in stores. However, the art of cooking is to combine precisely what there is, the ability to convert the little one has at hand into have something marvelous for the palate. Continue reading “A Chef on the 14th Floor / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Cuba’s Official Press Treads Carefully With Panama Papers / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

In Iceland, citizens took to the streets to demand the prime minister take responsibility after the leaked documents. (Twitter)
In Iceland, citizens took to the streets to demand the prime minister take responsibility after the leaked documents. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 5 April 2016 – The name of Cuba has not appeared among the so-called Panama Papers, but the official press is displaying caution over leaked documents that reveal fortunes hidden by politicians, athletes and entertainment figures. The national media has mentioned those touched by the scandal, such as Argentina’s president Mauricio Macro, while hiding evidence that points to Vladimir Putin and the Venezuelan government.

In Monday’s first newscast, the report on the exhaustive investigation into the documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossak Fonseca lasted less than a minute. The unveiling that exposed billionaires’ offshore accounts involving 140 politicians in 50 countries presents the ossified Party propaganda with the dilemma of joining the diffusers of these 15 million leaked documents, or keeping its distance before the involvement of numerous allies. Continue reading “Cuba’s Official Press Treads Carefully With Panama Papers / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

The Voice Of Your Rights / 14ymedio, Generation Y

Yoani Sánchez inaugurates a series of interviews on the channel Deutsche Welle Latin America: The Voice of Your Rights. (Video capture)
Yoani Sánchez inaugurates a series of interviews on the channel Deutsche Welle Latin America: The Voice of Your Rights. (Video capture)

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, 4 April 2016 — What to do when you have a loudspeaker in your hand? Since 2007 when I started my blog Generation Y, this question has haunted me. Often the visibility does not benefit those who need it most and the protective umbrellas provided by access to international organizations only reach a few. To occupy the microphone to broadcast only your own speech is a wastefulness that is a monologue more than an informative work. The Voice of Your Rights, the new interview program I will host on the Deutsche Welle Latin American TV program seeks to bring the megaphone to those who need it most.

With 40 episodes filmed in Panama City, the new space hosts a guest list essential for those who want to know our region and learn about the stories of its people. Environmental activists, women who fight against femicide, human rights organizations that denounce prison overcrowding and groups addressing child labor from all viewpoints are some of the themes that will be addressed by the people with whom I will share the studio in the coming weeks.

My role in this program, which has as its protagonists those who are trying to open a window where the door is closed, is not only for a professional challenge in my career as a journalist, but part of a personal commitment to the most silenced in every society. The cameras and the power of audiovisual media will serve to make their projects more effective and their lives less dangerous.

Vargas Llosa: “Cuba will become a capitalist dictatorship and then a democracy” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Mario Vargas Llosa's speech celebrating his 80th birthday. (14ymedio)
Mario Vargas Llosa’s speech celebrating his 80th birthday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Madrid, 29 March 2016 — Literature, politics and love were the three main protagonists on Monday evening for the 80th birthday of Mario Vargas Llosa. The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature attended a dinner in his honor with politicians, journalists, presidents and activists, in a central Madrid hotel. Before 400 guests, the Peruvian writer championed words and the art of storytelling as a way to improve reality and participate in national life.

“Turning 80 has no merit,” said the author of The War of the End of the World before an audience with another Literature Nobelist, the Turk Orhan Pamuk, as well as a large group of Cuban and Venezuelan activists. Seated at a forty tables, named after the prolific storyteller’s books or stories, the guests experienced the night as a gigantic party among friends. Continue reading “Vargas Llosa: “Cuba will become a capitalist dictatorship and then a democracy” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Obama Is Surrounded By Symbols To Win The Hearts Of Cubans / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Havana is preparing to welcome US president Barack Obama. (14ymedio)
Havana is preparing to welcome US president Barack Obama. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 20 March 2016 – He arrives on the Island on Palm Sunday, will attend a baseball game, and has already spoken by phone with the most popular humorist on the Island. Barack Obama’s plane has not yet landed and already he has stolen the hearts of a legion of admirers through a series of symbols. A meal in a paladar (a private restaurant), a phrase from José Martí in his major speech, and a mention of Cachita, the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, would complete his upcoming gestures of enchantment.

On Saturday night Cuban TV broadcast a video in which the humorist Pánfilo called the White House to talk to the president of the United States himself. A masterstroke of the Obama administration, it thus placed itself miles away from Cuba’s powers-that-be, who lack any talent for laughter. Through the character of this old man who is obsessed with his ration book, the president of the United States addressed the Cuban people and did so in their own language. Continue reading “Obama Is Surrounded By Symbols To Win The Hearts Of Cubans / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Women, Always Postponed/ 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

We are measured by the most demanding scales and they ask from us the greatest patience. (Photo: Silvia Corbelle)
We are measured by the most demanding scales and they ask from us the greatest patience. (Photo: Silvia Corbelle)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez,Generation Y, Washington, 3 March 2016 — A few days after the murder of two young Argentine women tourists in Ecuador, a man in the city of Santa Clara in Cuba set fire to his house with his two children inside, as revenge against his ex-wife. Violence against women runs freely in Latin America and on most of this planet. A day like this March 8th, a day of tributes, flowers and speeches full of praise, does not erase the horror, nor the belittling.

The constant aggression we women suffer takes the form a blow from an abusive husband, but also is present in every minute of our lives, both in the professional order and in the social order. To walk alone at night, to sit alone in a park, or to take the sun on a beach “unescorted” by a partner, are moments that many Cuban women experience with more discomfort than enjoyment. Continue reading “Women, Always Postponed/ 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

In The Mirror / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

The exhibition is full of intimate moments, indoors, in the heat of the home where the Cuban identity is expressed in a gesture, an attitude or simply the nostalgic feel in a gaze.
The exhibition is full of intimate moments, indoors, in the heat of the home where the Cuban identity is expressed in a gesture, an attitude or simply the nostalgic feel in a gaze.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, 6 March 2106 — There is an aunt with her hair in rollers and a maternal gaze, a neighbor in a housecoat and that friend blowing out the birthday candles. They are known faces, family members, but they live hundreds of miles from the island, and come to us, as in a mirror that returns our image without distortions or cracks, through Gandy Pavón (b. Las Tunas, Cuba, 1974) and his exposition, The Cuban-Americans.

In that far off geography, the emigrants weave their dreams, taking on new customs, maintaining their taste for rice with beans, and sighing for a country that only exists in their memories. In that “internal space” where Cuban-Americans pass their lives, what the writer Gustavo Pérez Firmante called the hyphen or dash, “that unites, while separating, nominally and culturally, the Cuban and the American.” Continue reading “In The Mirror / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Apple vs the FBI, a Dispute as Seen From the Cuban Prism / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

An Apple iPhone. (EFE)
An Apple iPhone. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Washington, 5 March 2016 — When they returned his mobile phone all his contacts had been erased and the card with the photos was gone. Stories like this are repeated among activists who have been detained, over whom an iron vigilance is maintained with the complicity of the Telecommunications Company (ETECSA), the technology arm of repression in Cuba. An entity that should take note of the rebuff Apple has dealt the FBI in the United States, by refusing to access its clients’ data.

For decades, Cuban society has become accustomed to the government’s failing to respect individuals’ private spaces. The state has the power to delve into personal correspondence, to display medical records in front of the cameras, to air private messages on television, and to broadcast phone conversations between critics of the system. In such a framework, intimacy doesn’t exist, one’s personal space has been invaded by power. Continue reading “Apple vs the FBI, a Dispute as Seen From the Cuban Prism / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Nieves Santos: “The sentence was unfair and excessive” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Nieves Santos with her son, Raibel Pacheco, one of the four convicted. (Courtesy of the family)
Nieves Santos with her son, Raibel Pacheco, one of the four convicted. (Courtesy of the family)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Washington, 4 March 2018 – On hearing the serenity of her voice over the phone, few would believe that Nieves Santos Falcon is going through the worst time of her life. Her son Raibel Pacheco Santos has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba for the crime of terrorism, in Case No. 2 of 2014. However, Nievos Santos, a biologist at the School of the Medicine of the University of Havana, is confident that justice will prevail.

Yoani Sanchez. For two years there has been barely any information about the judicial proceedings against José Ortega Amador, Obdulio Rodríguez González, Félix Monzón Alvarez and your son, Raibel Pacheco Santos. What has happened in recent days that made you decide to talk to the press?

Nieves Santos Falcón. I traveled to Cuba to visit my son on 22 February and that same afternoon they told me he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison. The hearing took place on 30 October of last year at the People’s Provincial Court of Havana and the trial had concluded with sentencing. Continue reading “Nieves Santos: “The sentence was unfair and excessive” / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

To Cusio And Libna, Wherever You Are / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 22 February 2016 — He was an acknowledged homosexual and she a convinced Jehovah’s Witness. One lived in the same tenement where I was born and the other in the dreaded “218,” where violence and sewage competed for a starring role. Cusio and Libna should have grown up with the conviction that every sexual orientation or religious belief is respected and necessary, provided it does not imply violence against the other.

They achieved something unthinkable in the Cuba of the eighties: reaffirming that beds and beliefs belong to all of us, and no ideology should interfere in them. They were the true survivors of uniformity, the shipwrecks of the storm of “parameterization” and police raids. Now in my forties, I continue to owe a debt to the lesson in plurality they taught me.

Cusio experienced abuse and neglect, but he was always smiling. From Libna, I learned patience, to swallow hard when everything is against me, and keep going. I lost count of all the humiliations I faced for not wearing the neckerchief, that piece of cloth that was making my neck itch and that now reminds me more of the yoke used on oxen than any ideological commitment. Continue reading “To Cusio And Libna, Wherever You Are / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

A Visit More Symbolic Than Political / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

The US president, Barack Obama talks with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro. (White House)
The US president, Barack Obama talks with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro. (White House)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 18 February 2016 — The last time a United States president visited Cuba Havana’s Capitol Building had not yet opened, baseball’s star pitcher The Black Diamond died, and my grandmother was a little girl with messy hair and a penetrating gaze. There is no one left who remembers this moment who can tell us about it first hand, so Barack Obama’s arrival on the island will be a new experience for all Cubans.

How will people react? With joy and relief. Although there is little the president of another country can do to change a nation where we citizens have allowed a dictatorship, his visit will have a strong symbolic impact. No one can deny that the resident of the White House will be more appealing and popular among Cubans than the old and uncharismatic general who inherited power through his bloodline. Continue reading “A Visit More Symbolic Than Political / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

We Don’t Need a Thousand Years / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill during a meeting in Havana. (EFE)
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill during a meeting in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 14 February 2016 — A Catholic pope and a patriarch of the Orthodox Church just shared a hug in Cuba. A thousand years of enmity have concluded with three kisses at the Havana airport and the signing of an agreement to protect the Christian flock. The scene for this historic event could not be more contradictory: a country where the government refuses to recognize its critics and has dynamited all the bridges for dialogue with the opposition.

From a cleverly publicized stage setting, Raul Castro has taken on the task of showing the island as a natural terrain for dialogue. However, to make use of this zone of ​​conciliation, the General demands two strict requirements be complied with. Participants in the negotiations can only be foreigners and should not express even the slightest questioning of the hosts. Continue reading “We Don’t Need a Thousand Years / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Twenty Independent Communicators to Consult in Cuba / Luis Felipe Rojas

ndependent Journalism. Illustration from "Another Waves" website
Independent Journalism. From “Another Waves”

Luis Felipe Rojas, 1 February 2016 — This list is not intended to be a “Top Ten,” as is so common on internet publications. The list of names that follows carries the history of the men and women who believe in words and images as a tool of liberation.

The independent journalists that appear below do their work in Cuba under the microscope of the apparatus of repression that we know as State Security.

Most of them suffer arbitrary arrests, they have spent long years in prison, they are violently detained, vilified and — paradoxically — are non-persons in government media. In the case of Jorge Olivera Castillo, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the “2003 Black Spring,” but he continues, unrepentant, to do alternative journalism. Continue reading “Twenty Independent Communicators to Consult in Cuba / Luis Felipe Rojas”

Hollande And Castro: Plenty of Wine But No Democracy / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

François Hollande and Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, during the visit of French President to Cuba in May 2015. (EFE)
François Hollande and Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, during the visit of French President to Cuba in May 2015. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Washington, 1 February 2015 — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cancelled his lunch with François Hollande because the latter didn’t want to take the wine off the table. Tonight, however, the French leader will not ask Raul Castro about the issue of human rights violations in Cuba, to avoid annoying his visitor. A gesture that will affect the image of France much more than having dispensed with a glass of red.

Facing the leader of a powerful nation with a controversial nuclear program, the authorities did not want to deprive themselves of one of the symbols of their identity. But facing the General who permits no opposition nor independent press in his country, the hosts lower the tone of democratic requirements, similar to Rome’s covering the nakedness of his its statues to please Rouhani. Continue reading “Hollande And Castro: Plenty of Wine But No Democracy / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”