Will a Complaint Be Enough to Defend Our Rights? / Laritza Diversent

According to international legal instruments, “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals to be protected from acts violating their fundamental rights granted them by the constitution or by law.”

No national competent institution regarding the promotion and protection of human rights is recognized within the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba[1]. The Cuban government considers that such an institution is not an identified need for the people of Cuba, based on their willingness to continue to build a society that guarantees all justice[2].

According to the Cuban government, the state has a complex and effective inter-institutional system, which includes the participation of NGOs, in order to receive, transact and respond to any complaint or request made by individuals or groups, concerning the enjoyment of any human right.

The system provides for the reception of complaints, mandatory responses but no restitution if it was proven, and their transmission through the courts. The term to respond is too long and doesn’t provide for an exception for urgent cases or for irreparable damages.

In practice, none of them will go deep into the investigation of the case to verify alleged violations. Nevertheless, according to the government “this system has proven effective in practice and has the capacity to respond to the interests, complaints and denunciations of alleged human rights violations”.

Learn about the state bodies that intervene in this system and the obligations they have on: “National Institutions for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”, in the legal Cuban system?

[1] Information brochure No. 19 of the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, “National Institution for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”

[2] Report of the working group for the Universal Periodic Review – Cuba, Council of Human Rights, 2009

Translated by: Michaela Klicnikova

11 June 2014

Where to Have Sex in Havana? / Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro

He who waits, feels desperate. Internet photo

Havana, Cuba. It happened in the Motel on 11th and 24th streets, near the iron bridge connecting Vedado and Miramar. In a room rented for two hours, the unpleasant whisper was heard: “Mami, you have a wonderful stench!” It was the 1980’s, Cuba was still receiving 5 billion in subsidy from the Soviet Union, the shortages of the Special Period were still far away, but vulgarities were emerging.

More than two decades ago those hotels where people go for sex* (or to make love) — Cubans call them posadas — were abolished in Havana. A cyclone was guilty. The wind and heavy rain left thousands of people in Havana without a roof, and the government, due to the lack of housing, sheltered them in these posadas.

It was a difficult solution for the sheltered ones: “We had to put up a sign at the entrance: ’This is not a posada anymore, families are living here, do not disturb,’” said a person housed there, in the old Venus posada, near the train station, and he added. “Couples would arrive, drunk, screaming, ’Desk clerk, give me a room we are dying to …!’ Imagine those vociferous vulgarities, where small children and old people were living. What a shame!’

The destiny of the posadas in Havana definitely changed after the so-called Storm of the Century, in March 1993. During that time the majority of them were under the control of the Popular Power. Some of them were in a state of disrepair, with leaks in the roofs and mold in the walls.

There are cities in the interior of the country, such as Holguin in the east, where posadas still exist. In that provincial capital, the government managed to set aside years ago a budget for basic repairs of old hotels in the urban area; the Majestic and El Turquino. These maintained payment for services in Cuban pesos (CUP).

In another inland city of Cuba, in Santa Clara, the two hotels, Modelo and América, received investments for repairs and were reopened with a grand pomp. The inhabitants of Santa Clara fixed them in order to have a room where to make love for two hours, which the desk clerks don’t report. Sweet deal.

These advertisements (rooms for rent by the hour, night and day) are often seen in the Malecon area. Photo by CEO.

In the capital, the price for one room — in private houses — corresponds with the facilities that offer, and the location. They charge more in Vedado, close to the zone of the Oncologic and the Calixto García hospitals. In Playa, the tenants, situated close to the Casa de la Música de Miramar, have regular customers. The prices range from 5 CUC per hour.  Depending on the quality of the room and the day of the week, the amount may be higher.

Near Havana’s Malecon — basically an area of prostitution — a lot of families rent their daughter’s room, or that of any family member, by the hour to prostitutes and pimps. One tourist said that, accompanied by a mulatto girl, he came to a house in the Laguna Street in Havana, where the family was watching the soap opera on TV and the father of the family said to one of his daughters: “Go wake up your grandmother, a couple is here.”

In the meantime, in the popular memory the remembrance of the posadas of  eastern Havana or of the Circunvalación, immaculate hotel rooms with air-conditioning, bathrooms with cold and hot water, clean sheets and bar service 24 hours, to which any couple could come by car, without being seen by prying eyes.

In today’s Havana you will find it difficult to find a safe, comfortable and clean room to have sex, if you can’t pay in hard currency or a pile of money; you can risk going down to the reefs, venture into the darkness of a park, although this is not recommended: bad guys are roaming there.

*Translator’s note: Because of the crowded housing conditions in Cuba and the fact that young people can’t afford to live on their own, nor do they own cars, privacy is hard to come by.

Cubanet, 20 March, 2014 | Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro

Translated by: AnonyGY, Michaela Klicnikova

Answer To Those Who Don’t Accept the Embargo / Angel Santiesteban

A public letter addressed to President Obama with the intention of lifting the embargo or, at least, lessening it, has been signed by figures who demonstrate that Human Rights on the Island do not matter to them at all.

For some, shame means a check with several zeros. I cannot hide that it fills me with consternation that there exist people in this world who defend the dictatorship although I suspect that those who do it do not think of anything more than economic gain, perks or future payments for political “lobbying” services. One way or another, it means the same thing for ethics and humanity. Their shameless acts rival each other for the championship of the most cynical.

No one with honor can raise his voice to strengthen the tyranny of the Castro brothers, which — for more than a half a century — has sunk our country into misery. They cannot hide behind the apparent good intention of “helping the Cuban people” when we know that absolutely nothing will improve in our reality; to the contrary, as the totalitarian regime is strengthened, the same will occur with the iron yoke that they exert over the people, repression and assassinations of dissident leaders will increase. That is the only thing that they will achieve if they raise or lessen the embargo on the Castro family.

To those to whom it does not matter then, sign and protect the Cuban dictatorship.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  May 2014

Follow the link to sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Michaela Klicnikova and mlk.

29 May 2014

New Prize for Angel Santiesteban

Miami: Presentation of Ángel Santiesteban’s novel also includes a tribute to him

Bacardi House, Rosa Blanca Institute, Chef Paella, Connect Cuba, Neo Club Editiones, Green Designs and Alexandria Library welcome to the presentation held on Tuesday, 3 June at 6 pm, of the book by Ángel Santiesteban-Prats called The Summer God Slept awarded the 2013 Franz Kafka Novels From the Drawer Prize.

The novel will be presented by the writers Carlos Alberto Montaner and Antonio Correa Iglesias in the Bacardi House in 1531 Brescia Avenue, Coral Gables (Miami Fl 33124). At the event, the journalist and presenter Karen Caballero will deliver a monetary prize, provided by the second edition of the culture project JOVENAJE, to Ángel Santiesteban’s sister María de los Ángeles Santiesteban who will receive the prize on behalf of her brother. Continue reading