“You have to hear every silly thing in this country!” / Cubanet, Orlando Freire Santana

Self-employed watch repairer. “We change every kind of battery” Cuba_archivo

Self-employed watch repairer. “We change every kind of battery” Cuba_archivo

A letter published in the official Granma by one its readers asks the State to limit the prices charged by the self-employed in order to protect “the working people from abusive prices”

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Orlando Freire Santana, Havana, 27 March 2015 – Notwithstanding the image that the Castro regime strives to present about small, private enterprise, in the sense of having expanded this activity as part of the economic transformations that are taking place on the island, the truth is that the non-state sector of the economy faces more than a few obstacles.

High taxes, lack of a wholesale market where supplies and raw materials can be acquired, the lack of recognition by the authorities of the total costs that private businesses incur, as well as the excess of audits of Sworn Personal Income Statements, among others, are some of the daily hurdles that stand in the way of the self-employed.

Last Friday, March 20, the newspaper Granma published two works that contain “recommendations” that could obstruct or kill self-employment. The first of these, “Money Well Paid?” is a report about the payments by state entities to self-employed workers in the Holguin province. Continue reading

An Afternoon for Danilo (El Sexto) / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Danilo’s (El Sexto’s) works displayed on the walls of La Paja Records studio (Luz Escobar)

Danilo’s (El Sexto’s) works displayed on the walls of La Paja Recold studio (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 29 March 2015 – As part of the campaign to demand freedom for the artist Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto,” several artistic activities took place this Saturday at la Paja Recold, the studio of the band Porno para Ricardo.

On the walls of the place were works by the graffiti artist who has been incarcerated since last December 25. El Sexto was arrested shortly before carrying out a performance that consisted of releasing in a public square two pigs with the names of “Fidel and Raul.” The crime that has been charged against him is contempt.

Several friends from all over the world and human rights organizations have demanded his immediate release. Yesterday’s activities joined those demands for his freedom. Among the most important moments of the afternoon was the performance by Tania Bruguera of The Whisper of Tatlin which opened the studio’s microphones to the fifty attendees of the encounter to ask for – in a minute each – Danilo Maldonado’s liberty. Continue reading

Our Dead Are Raising Their Eyelids / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 22 January 2015

It’s true. Although I still don’t believe it.

But they’ve told me it in all the families I’ve visited since I’ve been out of my country. That’s what families are, a mausoleum. They don’t lie. There is no Cuban family which is not our death memory.

That’s how it is. We Cubans die in the family. That’s the saddest part of dying. Not dying as such, which doesn’t bother the person dying, but the horror of imposing on exactly those people who loved us while we were alive. People should go and die among strangers. Get lost, and that’s it. That’s why I went to the United States. That’s why I didn’t die in Havana, in spite of the fact death whispered “Orlando” in my ear every morning where I lived. Continue reading

Leave Me a Comment at the Entrance and We Will Win This Contest / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, 10 March 2015 — Every morning we would lose ourselves amid the skyscrapers until we find ours. That one. The one with the artificial rain that would fall, even in the driest months of the city. She likes then to take a pause in our route. She would let go my hand and draw near to the false marble facades, until she would start getting wet almost without realizing it, from imaginary drops that would evaporate before reaching the asphalt. Imaginary but, even so, they would wet her in a dance that was greatly erotic and somewhat erratic.

Her liquid hair, her transparent garb, in the megalopolis of limousines and suits. I would lag a bit behind. I did not want to interfere with those little mornings in liberty. They lasted so little, it was only an instant. Far from Cuba, far from the Revolution. Oh not so far. Because once, upon the end of an October of overcast skies and recurrent cyclones, it was raining for real in Manhattan. She said to me, “You smell it, too, right? Today is not New York, but rather Havana.” And she went out from under our umbrella, a grave bumbershoot more appropriate to those scenes of cemeteries at the end of the North American films of our childhood.

Far from the “long island” [Cuba], so close to Long Island. She told me, “One day we are going to be like those imaginary drops that never fall. And another day it will be we who fall amid a tired rainstorm.” I just walked behind during the rest of that morning. I knew that she would never forgive me seeing her mix the rain with her foreign-city tears.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Cultural Crime / Rebeca Monzo

Celia Cruz

Rebeca Monzo, 27 March 2015 — For the last few years I have been tuning-in to a program broadcast on Sundays, from 6 to 9am, on the Cuban Radio station Radio Rebelde, ironically titled, “Memories.”

Because I love good Cuban music of all eras, I am a faithful listener of this program, and I also take the opportunity to dance a little, as a means of morning exercise. I must, I confess, bite the bullet to ignore the tedious sermons (“….had to travel thousands of kilometers to buy the molds….when the island was blockaded….”) and which year after year they play on the air lest, as they say, we forget.

What this program keeps quiet about is that it has been the Revolutionary government itself which has subjected its people to a criminal cultural blockade, depriving more than three generations of our best musicians and singers, for the sole fact of their having emigrated after 1959 Continue reading

Will the mattress arrive before the baby turns a year old? / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta

Woman with a mattress (Yosmany Mayeta)

Woman with a mattress (Yosmany Mayeta)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 28 March 2015 — The Gonzalez family baby slept her first weeks in a plastic tub lined with sheets and blankets. She could not use the crib because her parents did not manage to buy the mattress that is assigned by the Santiago de Cuba ration market to expectant mothers.

Shortages of the product and delays in its arrival to those in need create discomfort and situations like that of this baby in homes all over the country but with greater severity in the eastern region.

Outside of some stores intended for that purpose there are long lines of pregnant women and their families to buy the so-called “module basket” that is given at a subsidized price to each mother. The prices in the free market are unaffordable for a good many families. They need at least 50 convertible pesos (CUC) in order to get a mattress in the hard currency market, while the average monthly salary does not exceed 20 CUC. Continue reading

Suspended or Censored? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

14Ymedio
The members of the Taliban of the Cuban official web Reflejos, offended by the presence of an independent site like 14Ymedio should be celebrating: after a week of putting up with such dangerous neighbors, it withdrew the Yoani Sanchez’s daily from its platform. Authorities have demonstrated their inability to stand the test of freedom of the press.

cubanet square logo Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, MIAMI, Florida, 27 March 2015 — The members of the Taliban of Reflejos, the Cuban government-sponsored website, offended by the presence of an independent site like 14Ymedio should be celebrating. After a week of putting up with such dangerous neighbors, the authorities gave censure the all clear, in virtue of which 14ymedio has been “suspended or mothballed” because, in this era of technology and communications, euphemisms are also updated — it will no longer be able to be viewed on a platform which describes itself as “inclusive”.

Thus, while 14ymedio, the digital newspaper, launched from Cuba and in which several independent journalists on the Island collaborate or are involved, has demonstrated its ability to make use of any possible opening that facilitates access to its pages by Cubans from within Cuba, the authorities have shown their inability to stand the test of freedom of the press and differing opinions, particularly when participants have the moral authority of having experienced, on a daily and firsthand basis, the realities they narrate, report, or comment on. Continue reading

Web Platform Reflejos Closes the ‘14ymedio’ Blog / 14ymedio

"Esteemed user of the Platform "Blogs Reflejos": You have repeatedly published content that is not in keeping with the objectives of the platform Reflejos, not complying with the conditions you previously accepted. For that reason the blog is suspended...

“Esteemed user of the Platform “Blogs Reflejos”: You have repeatedly published content that is not in keeping with the objectives of the platform Reflejos, not complying with the conditions you previously accepted. For that reason the blog is suspended…”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 March 2015 – The new Cuban blog platform, Reflejos, has decided to close the 14ymedio blog for “repeatedly publishing content that does not conform to the objectives with which the platform was created,” according to an email sent this Friday by the administrators.

The daily is accused of “failing to meet [the site’s] the conditions of use” with no other details. Nevertheless, when it was launched March 18, Kirenia Fagundo Garcia, a consultant on Reflejos, explained that there were no “restrictions as far as topics addressed on the blogs and users interested in the service.”

The blog opened by this daily on the digital platform was designed to bring its contents to Cuban readers since our site has been blocked on the Island’s servers since its creation in May of 2014.

During the few days in which it was active, the blog published a varied group of texts that ranged from culture to recipes to opinion columns. Neither verbal violence nor personal attacks were used, and the majority of commenters were internet users very interested in the topics that the posts covered.

The 14ymedio blog has been the object of many criticisms by bloggers associated with the Cuban government. At the beginning of this week, the official site for CubaSí news lamented the presence of “mercenaries in service of the US” on Reflejos. The writer of the article, M. H. Lagarde, accused 14ymedio in wrathful terms of having “contaminated” the platform with “counter-revolutionary propaganda.”

The digital platform is part of the Cuba Va project of the Computer and Electronic Youth Club. Set up on the free content manager WordPress, it has several technological deficiencies such as slow operation, low storage capacity (barely 250 megabytes per blog) and problems with the image upload tool. Nevertheless, in spite of these technical difficulties, we had managed to create a functional “mirror” of 14ymedio, on a service that calls itself Reflejos (Reflections) and that was announced from the beginning as a space for the blogs of the Cuban family.

Translated by MLK

Two Types of Dissidence, Two Policies / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 25 March 2015 — For the first time in the history of the violations against the Cuban dissidence by the political police of the totalitarian Regime, there are two lines of thought: one subdued and the other more severe.

Those in the opposition who have publicly supported the intention of the governments of the United States and Cuba to reconstruct diplomatic relations have had their rights respected to travel abroad, reunite, publish, etc.

But those who openly oppose the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, unless the Cuban Government respects human rights and frees the political prisoners, have been detained and had their passports take away, like the plastic artist Tania Bruguera, who was visiting the country, so that she now finds herself held hostage, and the activists Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzales. Continue reading

Cuba: Artist imprisoned for painting the names "Fidel" and "Raul" on two piglets / Laritza Diversent

After 90 days of imprisonment, there is no formal accusation against the artist, Danilo Maldonado.

Laritza Diversent, Havana, 25 March 2015 — Authorities are still imprisoning the artist, Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth), who was detained arbitrarily by the police.

Maldonado, 31 years old, is an urban artist and painter who finds himself accused of “aggravated contempt,” a charge that the Cuban State uses to incarcerate people who are critical of the Government. He presently is serving 90 days in preventive custody in Valle Grande, on the outskirts of the Capital.

On the afternoon of December 25, 2014, Maldonado staged a “show” in a spot in the city of Havana, when he was detained by police operatives. They arrested him for having two piglets in a sack. One was painted on the back with the name “Fidel,” and the other, with the name “Raul.”

Both names are common; however, the authorities assumed that they disrespected the Castro brothers, and they could impose on him a sanction of between one and three years of prison. Continue reading

They Donate Blood for Bread with Ham / Cubanet, Pablo Gonzalez

cubanet square logoCubanet, Pablo Gonzalez, Havana, 20 March 2015 – Each state enterprise has to deliver a quantity of blood donations each month in order to comply with the rule established by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). Each clinic has to make one hundred donations per month.

Donor in Cuba, where the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired (photo PG)

Donor in Cuba, where the sanitary conditions leave much to be desired (photo PG)

The pressure that MINSAP and the Committees in Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) put on the clinics makes their workers go out into the streets desperately searching for donors.

Without doing any prior testing they carry out the blood extractions with poor medical instrumentation.

Voluntary blood donation in Cuba, begun in 1962, has grown to reach and exceed the target set by the World Health Organization for one donation for each 20 inhabitants. According to the Granma newspaper, blood donations exceeded what was planned in the last two years.

Donor Yasmany Machado, 27 years of age from Sancti Spiritus in the Fomento Province, commented on this report in Granma on the web page of the daily itself:

“Since 2005 I have been a blood donor more than 20 times for the benefit of others. Now I ask myself the following question: Are donors encouraged by MINSAP and the CDRs? Is it perhaps resolved with a role for the district? Why does MINSAP not worry about the health of the donors?” Continue reading

Five Years of the Blog “From Havana” / Ivan Garcia

Ivan Garcia, 8 March 2015 — When I decided to write a blog, at the end of December 2008, my pretensions were minimal.

I had decided to take a break in order to dedicate my time to my daughter, Melany, who was then two years old. Although I wasn’t writing, mentally I continued to be focused on journalism. Those were difficult times. Repression from the hard liners of State Security was at its highest point.

In March 2003, a choleric Fidel Castro had ordered the imprisonment of 75 peaceful dissidents. Among them, 27 free journalists. Independent journalism was going through its worst phase. Continue reading