Twenty Families in Güines Endangered by Imminent Collapse / Hablemos Press, Raul Ramirez Puig

The structure is propped up and bears a sign that warns of danger from collapse.  Photos taken by the author.

The structure is propped up and bears a sign that warns of danger from collapse.
Photos taken by the author.

Hablemos Press, Raul Ramirez Puig, Mayabeque, 25 June 2015 – Residents of the building located on Habana Street and Esquina de Teja, in the municipality of Güines, Mayabeque province, are making known the imminent danger they are facing.

The structure was built in 1735, according to data from the Municipal Library. Other buildings dating from that era, such as the Güines Villa, have not had any maintenance since 1959.

More than three months ago, barricades and signs were put up warning passersby of the danger, but there has been no move to repair the damages.

Güines is one of the most productive municipalities of Mayabeque province. It is also one of the most forgotten.

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Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Among Thieves: Who Robs Whom? / Hablemos Press, Yixander Doimeadios

Entre ladrones_MG_3749Hablemos Press, Yixander Doimeadios, Havana, 25 July 2105 – Theft is institutionalized in Cuba. It is a pseudo-culture, endured and practiced from one end of the Island to the other, and the excuses for it are: “I have to live, life is hard….” as if the parasitic “living” were something that must be accepted.

The fees tacked on to products sold in the hard currency stores* are insulting. Discounts on them, even hours before their sell-by dates, are notable in their absence.

And what to say about the private-sale merchandise added to the inventory by the shopkeepers? Nothing is direct from the producer or manufacturer, and everything has a shady provenance because it comes in “under the table.” Continue reading

Minimal Vindication of Jose Marti / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Painting by Carlos Enríquez of the death of José Martí.

Jeovany Jimenez Vega,20 May 2015 — In the laudable attempt to demystify José Martí, pens of the most dissimilar calibers have been employed, and all the efforts seem paltry given the transcendence of his legacy. But not all have headed in the right direction in their efforts. I concur with the argument put forth in a recent article that questions the impact of José Martí on the Cuban people during the phase immediately preceding the uprising of 24 February, 1895.

To gauge Martí’s influence within Cuban society before 1895–which, given the improbable and rudimentary level of which his advanced doctrinal thinking could reach a semi-literate Cuban population relegated to the Cuban insularity at the close of the 19th Century–would be as absurd as to presuppose that his impact would have been exclusively limited to that humble sector of the population, isolating it for no reason from the rest of a society already resounded impatiently at the imminent possibility of the war. Continue reading

Marti and His Myth / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea


José Martí in an image from 1891 (University of Miami)

14ymedio, José Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 17 May 2015 – From the interpretation of a significant event in the history of a nation, the interpreters’ political orientation can be very well surmised. Here we have this date, 24 February 1895 – the day on which our ancestors departed for the last time to the scrubland, to make of Cuba an independent and democratic nation, in which sovereignty would belong to each and every one who would declare themselves as Cubans.

This event can be interpreted in two radical ways: the Fascist, as a triumph of the Cuban people’s will, embodied in José Martí, ensuing from a supposed teleological destiny; or the Marxist, as a result of the economic contradictions between Cuban national interests and those of Spain, which engendered the fact that the colony’s economy was by that time integrated into that of its immediate neighbor, the US, and not of its distant and cash-strapped imperial ruler. Continue reading

I Want To, But…I Can’t / Somos+, Alexander Perez

Somos+, 26 June 15 — Today, because God willed it (for I do not believe in coincidences) I was on chat and encountered an old friend from university days. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was, “In what country are you living?” Much to my surprise, I saw that he was connecting from Holguín. Filled with emotion, he told me, “Alex, what a delight to hear from you.” We were on chat for almost half an hour. We caught up on mutual friends, work, family, and, finally, we touched upon the inevitable topic: CUBA. When I asked him how goes the homeland, his enthusiasm waned. I felt the sigh in his words when he told me, “It’s going, same as always.” Continue reading

The Musketeers of the Culture / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 14 July 2015 —  For some time now, certain “musketeers” of the culture, somewhat advanced in years–headed by a D’Artagnan of hirsute mane, addicted to Chinese pomade manufactured in Vietnam–have assumed the ruling party’s defense of the national identity and the history of the country.

The members of this group, taking advantage of all the space generously provided to them by the media, have started a campaign against the so-called “weekly packet” (a bundle of movies, episodes of series and soap operas, musicals, and other foreign weekly programs recorded on DVD), which private sellers purvey to Cubans as a way to escape the insufferable boredom of the national TV channels that are loaded with political diatribes). They propose to substitute it with a “greater packet” (a similar item, but containing Cuban programs). In addition, they bow before the official version of history, and the rejection of foreign symbols used by many young people.

To defend the national identity, the country’s history and patriotic symbols would be commendable, if it weren’t for the gross manipulation, crude political indoctrination, and chauvinism in their actions. Continue reading

The Pope Has Left Me and My Fellow Citizens Discouraged / Hablemos Press, Rafael Molina Rodríguez

Ciudadanos en Regla

Hablemos Press, Rafael Molina Rodríguez*, Santiago de Cuba, 10 July 2015 – The message put out by the Holy See that Pope Francis is not planning to touch on political matters during his upcoming visit to Cuba, has left me and my fellow citizens discouraged. We had hoped that the Pope, in his role as Chief of State [of the Vatican], upon visiting with the dictator Raúl Castro, would emphasize to him the need to respect human rights and multi-party democracy.

The announcement that the Pope is coming to Cuba only to bring the message of Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds me of Pontius Pilate, when he washed his hands after surrendering Jesus to the Jews so that he would be executed. Continue reading

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca Letter to Interamerican Press Association and Reporters Without Borders

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca in Havana

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca in Havana

Havana,13 June, 2015

TO: Representatives of the Interamerican Press Association, and Reporters Without Borders

FROM: *Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, Independent Journalist

SUBJECT: Indiscriminate repression Against Ladies in White, peaceful activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, and independent communicators

By this letter, I am contacting you to make you aware of what is happening against the Ladies in White, activist opponents, journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, and independent communicators, who are committed to the struggle for citizen, human and political rights that have been violated, and seek to disseminate the reality that our country has suffered under the Castro brothers’ totalitarian regime for more than 56 years. Now that the repression unleashed by their specialized entities is worsening, their intent is that we not make known the brutal repression to which are subjected all who unite in demand for the release of political prisoners, and for reforms that will truly benefit the people. Continue reading

Committee on the Rights of the Child Queries the Government of Cuba Regarding the Sale of Children and Child Pornography


Committee on the Rights of the Child70th Session – 2015, Draft Program

Review of States Parties’ Reports

List of questions relative to the briefing presented by Cuba by virtue of Article 8, Paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol of the Convention for the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

It is requested of the State Party that it present in writing additional and updated information (maximum 15 pages), if possible, prior to 20 August, 2015.

In the dialogue with the State Party, the Committee can address all aspects of the rights of the child referred to in the Optional Protocol.

1. Please provide recent statistical data for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years (disaggregated by sex, age, ethnic origin, and rural or urban areas), regarding the number of: Continue reading

Antonio G. Rodiles of Estado de Sats Arrested and Beaten / Hablemos Press, Arian Guerra Perez

Hablemos Press, Arian Guerra Pérez, Havana, 6 July, 2015 – Political activist Antonio G. Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS, was beaten this Sunday by Cuban State Security agents, according to activist sources.

Rodiles had to have surgery at General Calixto García University Hospital in Havana because of the fracture, said Ailer María González Mena, his wife. Continue reading

Cuban Police Arrest More Than 220 Dissidents, According To Activists / Hablemos Press, Roberto de Jesús Guerra

The most arrests took place on Sunday in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba

The most arrests took place on Sunday in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba

Hablemos Press, Roberto de Jesús Guerra Peréz, Havana, 29 June 2015 — Offices of the National Police, the Department of State Security, and other members of the Interior Ministry arrested at least 226 Cuban activists and dissidents this past Sunday, 28 June, 2015.

Police operations were carried out in various provinces of the country to keep activists and opposition members from attending Mass.

Among those arrested in Havana were Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White Movement, Antonio G. Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS; José Díaz, of Opponents for a New Republic Movement; photographer Claudio Fuentes; and several of the former political prisoners who were released in January 2015. Continue reading

Profile of a Father / Mario Lleonart

Right about now, on this Father’s Day, Raúl Borges Álvarez is surely living something similar to what he has been suffering for 17 years, petitioning the prison where one of his two sons is held which will not even concede the possibility of letting him out on parole, to which he is entitled by law — all because of blasted politics!

At Havana’s Santa Rita Church — as at various other churches across the country — mothers, sisters, daughters and friends of many other political prisoners penalized for political differences attempt to gather each Sunday to attend Mass and later march, each holding a gladiolus. According to the latest statistics from the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), there are around 71 prisoners on the known list. The women who march for them are known as the Ladies in White. Continue reading