The Step-Motherland’s Droit de Seigneur / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, greeting Raúl Castro. (EFE / Estudios Revolución)
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo and Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, greeting Raúl Castro. (EFE / Estudios Revolución)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 23 May 2016 — Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, recently made his second visit to Cuba. Unlike his first, in November 2014–when the general-president did not deign to meet with him—this time his “highest excellency” Spanish Foreign Minister was emphatically welcomed by the upper echelons of power.

This new attitude between both sides is not so strange, since García-Margallo was in a “democratic” mode in 2014, triggering the olive-green gerontocracy’s suspicion and displeasure. Now, the Chancellor has come solely in a business mode, with the mission to strengthen and expand as much as possible Spain’s investments in Cuba before the resources of the powerful northern neighbor intrude (for a second time) in the territory of the former Spanish colony, once again depriving Spain of its devalued Crown jewel. Continue reading “The Step-Motherland’s Droit de Seigneur / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya”

Why Cuban Agriculture Is Inefficient / Iván García

Plowing in Cuba with oxen. (From On Cuba)
Plowing in Cuba with oxen. (From On Cuba Magazine)

Ivan Garcia, 19 May 2016 — The raindrops tinkle on the zinc roof of a greasy hut used to store sacks of fertilizer, agricultural tools, and the various ancient contraptions that are always be a nuisance to keep in the house.

Osvaldo, the sixty-five-year-old owner of a farm southeast of Havana, calmly takes a drag on a cigarette butt, scratches his head with his thick fingers, which look like twisted meat hooks, and asks his son, “Where the hell have you left the wrench to open the water pump?” Then, once the engine has been started, he runs through the rain back to the entrance of his house. Continue reading “Why Cuban Agriculture Is Inefficient / Iván García”

Missing People / Dora Leonor Mesa

Dora Leonor Mesa, 13 May 2016

Guide for Members of Parliament No. 17-2009

This manual is the result of a collaboration between the Interparliamentary Union, a world-wide parliamentary organisation, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the support of the International Red Cross Movement and the Luna Roja Media.

On all five continents, parents, brothers, spouses, are children are desperately seeking  family members, about whom they have no news. Families and communities, who don’t know what has happened to their loved ones, cannot move on from the violence which has disrupted their lives. Continue reading “Missing People / Dora Leonor Mesa”

Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)
Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 May 2016 — A small protest convoy and a demand by a group of bicycle taxi (pedicab) operators at the Plaza of the Revolution; indignation and astonishment among producers and traders about the arbitrary and unannounced closing of the wholesale market for agricultural products in the capital; irritation of several citizens who verbally attacked the policemen who were trying to maltreat a blind and helpless beggar, who was at the Carlos III marketplace; a sit down strike led by workers at a cigar factory in the city of Holguín over wages… These are some of the events that demonstrate both the state of dissatisfaction and frustration that are taking shape in Cuba’s population, the emergence of a sense of questioning the system and the incipient rebellion against the power and the authorities that represent it.

It is without a doubt, good news. The bad news is that social balance becomes dangerously fragile in a society where rights and prosperity have been banned, where institutions respond fully to the interests of the parasite power, where any opposition to the government is illegal and where public debate and dialogue between the power and “governed” are non-existent. Continue reading “Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya”

Cuban Officials in the Panama Papers / Hablemos Press

PP_Cuba_-1080x670

Hablemos Press, Cuban Journalists and others* (see below), 13 May 2016 — Officials of the Cuban Communist Party hired a Swiss attorney to establish offshore companies for their global business activities, the Panama Papers reveal. The unprecedented leak of 11.5-million documents from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama exposed the offshore actions and suspicious financial transactions of chiefs of state, government officials and celebrities worldwide.

Cuban law does not include any specific legislation regarding State functionaries and offshore enterprises, however such activities would be questionable in the strictly communist country. Continue reading “Cuban Officials in the Panama Papers / Hablemos Press”

Servile Talents / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 10 May 2016 — “There is really no spectacle more hateful than that of servile talents.” (José Martí, Complete Works, Volume 13, Page 158, Cuban National Press.) I wanted to start these lines with this thought of the Apóstol [Cubans refer to Martí in this way], as many of our intellectuals, some of them with famous names, have joined the flock of government sheep, without having any need to do so, taking an active part in its campaigns of disinformation and manipulation of the people, going so far as to commit acts of violence against those who think differently to them, and demonstrating an aggressiveness which is foreign to them and does not fit well with their personalities. Continue reading “Servile Talents / Fernando Dámaso”

Beggars and Madmen: The Latest Spectacle in Cuba / Iván García

Source: Quo Vadis Cuba blog

Source: Quo Vadis Cuba blog

Ivan Garcia, 1 May 2016 — Guillermo tries to run away, to avoid the stones the kids are throwing at him, as if he were a doll stuck on a target, but his legs, which are atrophied and beginning to go gangrenous because of his diabetes, can’t respond to the urgent messages from his brain.

So he tries to hide behind some small bushes, but the stones keep flying around his head. It’s four in the afternoon on a normal day in La Vibora, and, without anything better to do, the pair of youngsters do their target practice with an old man of over 80 who can hardly support himself on his crutches.

People eating pizzas in a cafe in Heredia Street, on the corner of Acosta, watch what’s happening, like spectators who have come to watch someone being stoned to death in Iran. Continue reading “Beggars and Madmen: The Latest Spectacle in Cuba / Iván García”

Broken Families in Cuba / Iván García

A Cuban family (X bit labs Community)
A Cuban family (X bit labs Community)

Ivan Garcia, 2 April 2016 — The dilapidated old house where the Varona family lives, in the Lawton district of Havana, could serve very well as a set for a television series about marginalisation and violence.

The front wall cries out for a coat of paint. Cracked roof tiles threaten to fall off. And inside, the house is subdivided into seven small apartments.

Agustín, one of tenants, has an informal business selling building materials. Therefore he has been able to improve his apartment with Italian ceramic floor tiles, build a tiny bathroom with a modern shower and hot and cold running water. Continue reading “Broken Families in Cuba / Iván García”

Cuban Small Farmers Association Defends State Monopoly On The Export Of Coffee / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

A grower selects mature coffee. (EFE)
A grower selects mature coffee. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 5 May 2016 — The National Bureau of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Cuba rejects the recent measures from the U.S. Department of State which include coffee among the products produced by the non-State sector in Cuba that can be imported into the United States.

In a statement published Wednesday, the Association lambastes the flexibility, which came into force on 22 April, allowing the import into the United States of coffee and textile products from “independent businesspeople” in Cuba. Continue reading “Cuban Small Farmers Association Defends State Monopoly On The Export Of Coffee / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata”

Sale of Airline Tickets to Mexico Begins for Cuban Migrants Stranded In Panama / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

Hotel Milenium. (Silvio Enrique Campos)
Hotel Milenium. (Silvio Enrique Campos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 5 May 2016 — Panama began selling airline tickets, on Thursday, to Mexico for Cuban migrants who find themselves stranded in the country. Tickets cost $805 and the first to benefit from the measure will be those staying at the Millennium Hotel, in the province of Chiriqui, according to a high ranking official who spoke to this newspaper and asked not to be identified.

Starting this coming Monday, two daily flights will connect to Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, operated by Copa and Aereomexico airlines. Along with the cost of the airfare, to qualify for a Mexican visa the mirgrants will also have to pay 34 dollars for the journey by bus to the Panamanian airport and the trip to the border between Mexico and United States. The airline will offer a differential rate for children between age 2 to 11, of $322, while children one year and under will fly for $160. Continue reading “Sale of Airline Tickets to Mexico Begins for Cuban Migrants Stranded In Panama / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Mexico Is Not Deporting Cuban Migrants Despite Minrex Announcement / 14ymedio, Mario Penton

A group of Cubans show the exit permits they received today in Tapachula, Mexico.
A group of Cubans show the exit permits they received today in Tapachula, Mexico.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 4 May 2016 — Mexico continues to grant “exit permits” to Cuban migrants arriving in Mexican territory from Central America, according to comments made to 14ymedio by an official of the National Institute of migration in Tapachula, Chiapas. On Tuesday, the Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex) released in a statement saying that a memorandum of understanding between the two Nations to “ensure a regular, ordered and safe migration” was now in effect.

The document Minrex is referring to is part of a set of agreements signed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, during Raúl Castro’s last visit to Mexico with the purpose of strengthening relations between the two countries. Continue reading “Mexico Is Not Deporting Cuban Migrants Despite Minrex Announcement / 14ymedio, Mario Penton”

Private Kindergartens Are Growing In Numbers / 14ymedio Yosmany Mayeta Labrada

2016 marks the 55 years since the founding of Day Care Centers. (14ymedio)
2016 marks 55 years since the founding of Day Care Centers. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Havana, 28 April 2016 — Kids play in the living room with pieces of legos, wooden toys and some soft toys. The place is bright and two specialized assistants keep each infant under their watchful eyes. Behind the door, the license of the self-employed owner hangs in a frame. Due to the deterioration of state-owned day care centers, private kindergartens are growing in number, supported by the new law.

The Government proposed to reverse this situation at the 55th anniversary of the founding of children’s day care centers. To achieve this, it not only seeks to significantly expand the capacity, but also totally renovate many of the sites and raise the quality of staff training working in such a sensitive sector.
Continue reading “Private Kindergartens Are Growing In Numbers / 14ymedio Yosmany Mayeta Labrada”

The Next Day / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 2 May 2016 — The owner of the media owns the country as well: This phrase is corroborated daily here in our “captive island.” We must make an extraordinary effort to follow radio and television newscasts, and to try to interpret the other side of the news. It is really an insult to the intelligence, the repetitive crass way of manipulating information they exercise.

Of course, a large part of the population stay away from it “not to complicate their life” but the saddest thing is that, when faced with cameras and microphones of reporters on the streets, fear paralyzes them and unscrupulously, they lie to “caress the official ears” and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately this is a comfortable attitude, lacking of civility and within their inner circles, usually express themselves critically against the regime. Continue reading “The Next Day / Rebeca Monzo”

Why Is the Official Press Crying Over the Fall in Oil Prices? / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

Nicolas Maduro enters the SAAC (South America and Arab countries) Summit on Wednesday in Riyadh. (Presidential press)
Nicolas Maduro enters the SAAC (South America and Arab countries) Summit on Wednesday in Riyadh. (Presidential press)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 26 April 2016 — All of my life I’ve heard from mouth of the main leaders of the country that the high prices for many of the products sold in Cuba are caused, among other variables, by the “high cost of fuel on the world market.” This, according to them, raises the price of production processes inside and outside the country, creating an upward spiral that affects the price of goods and services.

“What small and underdeveloped economy can grow with prices of 126 dollars barrel of oil? Only rich countries can pay that, those who want the world to continue to be the same so that the South can’t develop. The imperialists are like this, they want to dominate the world according to their own desires.” Phrases like these were heard everyday on TV programs like The Roundtable.

Today, oil prices have fallen by nearly 75 percent, and the newspaper Granma acknowledges that this affected the recently announced “price adjustments” of certain products the government sells in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC).

Then, I wonder: What are Oliver Zamora Oria and all official Cuban journalists who speak on the subject doing accusing U.S. and Saudi Arabia of “not cooperating” with the intention of some OPEC members to increase prices ? Isn’t Cuba, a net importer of fuels, greatly benefited, like most of the planet, by the current prices?

In my opinion, we should be jumping for joy, because I assume that if we can afford cheaper crude oil, then the agricultural sectors , transport, energy, industry etc. will be stimulated… What is the point of the strange anger of the Cuban Government press about the failure of the last meeting held in Doha, Qatar?

Many can be the interests that move the editorial decisions of the media monopoly in Cuba. But, definitely, the general interests of the nation and a greater benefit for the public are not part of them.

Translated by Alberto

Two Russian Deputies Propose Reestablishing Signal Intercept Station in Cuba / 14ymedio

Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin
Raul Castro and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin

14ymedio biggerTwo Russian Deputies put forward a proposal to President Vladimir Putin to study the reestablishment of the Lourdes signals interception center in Cuba, as well as the deployment of Russian missile launchers on the island “to protect the interests of Moscow and its allies,” as local media reported this Wednesday.

The initiative comes as a response to the agreement between the United States and Turkey which will allow the deployment in May of high mobility tactical missiles (Himars) in the Southeast part of the Ottoman country, near the border with Syria, to deal with attacks by the jihadist group the Islamic State. Continue reading “Two Russian Deputies Propose Reestablishing Signal Intercept Station in Cuba / 14ymedio”