The Marxist Philosophical Roots of Repression

In the most elementary courses of Marxism-Leninism one learns that in society there are antagonistic contradictions that can only be solved through the violence that generates a revolution. (Minrex)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 February 2021 — Many find it hard to believe, or understand, how it is possible that the ideas of such cool and sexy thinkers as Marx and Engels can be used to justify such decadent (cheas) attitudes as repressing young creators, holding rallies of repudiation or prohibiting the free exercise of professional activities and the independent dissemination of information and opinions in journalism.

Where does the deep justification come from; to what philosophical concept can be anchored the unbridled repression whose most “subtle and sophisticated” expression is articulated in national television programs where those who think differently are grossly denigrated, without the right to reply?

In the most elementary courses on Marxism-Leninism, after studying the three fundamental laws of dialectics, one learns that in society there are antagonistic contradictions that can only be solved through the violence that generates a revolution.

According to that dogma, an antagonistic contradiction is only resolved when one of the contenders achieves the extermination or annulment of the adversary. continue reading

It should be noted that in the original texts of Marx or Engels this apothegm is not found, not as it appears in the previous paragraph. Dialectics of Nature was an unfinished work of Engels that only saw the light in 1925 when it was edited by the academics of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, right in Stalin’s time. It was they who systematized, in order to simplify them into manuals, Engels’ philosophical sketches scattered in notes and complementary notes.

Three years later, forced cooperativization took place in the USSR, and it is no coincidence that that horror, which gave continuity to the “red terror” implemented by Lenin, appeared later in the hackneyed manuals as an example of a solution to an antagonistic contradiction, whose purpose was the definitive extermination of the kulaks. Many of these texts are available today on the Internet.

The decision of a small group of people to implement a socialist system in Cuba was in contradiction with the existence of private owners of the fundamental means of production. In less than a decade the owners were dispossessed by violence, and those who resisted ended up in exile, were imprisoned or died in combat.

The owners disappeared but socialism did not appear. At least its fundamental laws of “satisfying the ever-growing needs of the population” and “eradicating the exploitation of man by man” were not fulfilled.

Such plundering to exterminate the antagonistic owner was of no worth. The “blood spilled on the sands of Playa Girón [the Bay of Pigs] to repel the bourgeoisie who came to recover what had been confiscated” was worthless; the militiamen in the Escambray Mountains killing peasants who had risen up because their lands had been taken away from them were worthless.

All those supposed victories ended in an economic defeat because the socialism of the books failed to establish itself as a system in reality, and finally the rules of the market had to be recognized. It was also an ideological defeat because the desire of Cubans to be owners and to express themselves freely never disappeared.

In present times, this is the most acute contradiction that comes to the surface. It is no longer the one, artificially sustained under the concept of class struggle, which was solved in the material sphere by confiscating properties. What the Government is trying to do now is to put a brake on those who promote the proposal to expand the productive forces against the backdrop of maintaining a planned economy as the last redoubt of the frustrated “socialism.”

The “philosophical question” is whether this is an antagonistic contradiction and whether the idea of the extermination of the opponent as the only solution to antagonism is still valid.

Those who aspire to change things in Cuba, who are the most dynamic element of this contradiction, are divided between those who aspire to the violent overthrow of the dictatorship and those who believe in a gradual, bloodless change, the result of a dialogue.

The bad news is that the only thing that those in charge in Cuba understand is that they must annihilate their counterparts, radicals and moderates, put without distinction in the same bag, because they see in each and every one of them their future exterminators. In order to put into practice what they have learned in theory, they are willing to limit, with all available violence, the freedom of expression of their citizens, interpreting that any discrepancy should be considered as complicity with imperialism.

It is a task for the present and for the future to answer the question of whether Marxism was perverted by politicians or whether all this theoretical scaffolding constitutes a perversion of thought.

Beyond this subtlety of a definition of contradictions, the fruit of the subversion of Hegel’s dialectic, it is easy to find in Marx unfounded statements such as the belief that by implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat not only would the class struggle end, which would result in the disappearance of the State, but also that the aspiration to be owners would be erased from the minds of men, and all this he deduced from his study of the 72 days that the Paris Commune lasted.

The saddest thing is that, possibly behind the repression that subjugates Cubans in the 21st century, there are not even vestiges of elevated thought that can be considered the force of reason, but simple ambition for power backed by the reason of force.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Armando Trujillo is Being Tortured by his Jailers, States Cuban Prisoners Defenders

Armando Trujillo González was sentenced to three years in prison for the false crimes of “robbery with force” and “disobedience”. (CPD)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 17 February 2021 — On Tuesday, Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD) denounced the situation of prisoner of conscience Armando Trujillo González, who is serving a three-year sentence in the Agüica maximum security prison in Matanzas.

Trujillo, an activist of the Movimiento Independiente Opción Alternativa (Independent Movement Alternative Option), has been held incommunicado since his admission to prison on July 4, 2019, states CPD, and his health “is very, very deteriorated with a coronary problem for which he does not receive medical attention or medicine.” He is also not allowed to receive food, clothing or medicine from his family.

In a legal report, which it submitted to the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the European Union, the organization based in Madrid, demonstrates that Trujillo was arbitrarily convicted of a false crime of robbery with force, and disobedience. continue reading

In prison, CPD claims based on internal sources, “he is harassed, threatened and coerced through psychological and physical torture to leave human rights activism and betray his organization,” trying to force him to record a video that “will serve as social blackmail in case he is released from prison.”

In addition, Prisoners Defenders says that the political authorities of the prison instigate the most dangerous inmates to “rape him in exchange for perks for themselves,” with the aim of “undermining his morale” and “creating a state of constant physical and psychological torture,” in order to “ensure that Armando, to defend himself, may at some point be charged with some additional crime so they can increase his sentence.”

Recently, CPD denounced that prison authorities use “severe torture, beatings and isolation at unusual levels” which, coupled with tempting offers, seek to get prisoners to agree to film compromising videos in which they “confess to being mercenaries and accuse the leaders of their groups.”

The recordings would be used against them if they resumed their human rights activism, the organization said.

The detailed report is similar to the one CPD prepared in the case of protest rapper Denis Solis, sentenced last November 11 in a “summary proceeding” to eight months in prison for an alleged crime of “contempt”. Solis’ imprisonment was the origin of the protest by members of the San Isidro Movement who went on hunger strike at the collective’s headquarters in Old Havana for more than a week, and the subsequent peaceful protest by more than 300 artists in front of the Ministry of Culture to demand dialogue with the authorities.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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Hope Reborn for Cubans at Southern U.S. Border

Cuban migrants in Ciudad Juarez, after finally deciding to stay and work in Mexico. (EFE/Capture)

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14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 12 February 2021 — The announcement by Joe Biden’s administration to reopen the cases of asylum seekers who were sent back to Mexico, as of Feb. 19, has renewed hope for many Cubans who remain at the southern U.S. border in the expectation of being able to access an immigration court.

“In almost two years, it’s the only positive news we’ve had,” Luis Hechavarría, who is stuck in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, tells 14ymedio. “In the Trump era all the news was negative; all the executive orders that came out were to make the process difficult for us and to leave us here in Mexico, but now a new path is opening up for us.”

Hechavarría does not stop harboring some doubts and recalls that there is a lot of desperation among Cubans since last January. “They have wanted to force their way to U.S. soil and that’s no good. Violating the national security of a country like the United States is a serious crime and I don’t want to add federal charges against myself.” continue reading

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday that it will reopen asylum cases as part of a program “to restore the safe and orderly processing” of immigrants who remain at the southern border under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) known as Permanezca en México, established through an agreement between Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The DHS estimates that some 25,000 people have active cases, as is the case with Hechavarría, who has only been able to attend court once. “I have known people who have had to attend up to four times, it is unfortunate and very stressful this situation.”

“Many of these people prefer not to show up at the border again so as not to be deported,” he says. Many like him cannot afford legal counsel, nor do they have sufficient knowledge to defend their cases. Hiring an immigration lawyer, he says, costs between $6,000 and $8,000 and “that service does not guarantee you a favorable resolution.”

Since the pandemic arrived in the United States, the courts have suspended their hearings on several occasions. “They haven’t worked for months and the new administration suspended them altogether.”

Faced with this panorama and the uncertainty of being deported to the Island, some Cubans along the border have decided not to appear before an immigration judge and have opted to apply for residency in Mexico, says the man, who is originally from Holguín (Cuba).

The violence and social insecurity on the Mexican side keeps Hechavarría on alert because of the large number of murders, but he admits that the people have been very welcoming to the Cubans. “We behave well and just work. If we were misbehaving there would be more deaths, but since I’ve been here I’ve only heard of two murders in our community.”

Hechavarria, who has been working in a restaurant for a year and a half, left Cuba for Guyana in 2018. “I have a daughter and I saw myself at 27 years old and with nothing in my hands, with no future to give her. In me, the pain of that last hug and that last kiss always remains,” he says. “But well, you know, one must be made of stone.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Mexican Doctors Rebel Against Being Required to Study in Cuba

Mexican doctors protested this Monday in Mexico City’s Zocolo plaza.

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14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 9 February 2021 — A score of doctors demonstrated Monday in Mexico City’s Zocalo plaza in protest against Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government requiring them to study their specialty in Cuba.

“They say that the infrastructure there is greater than what we have in Mexico, but here we have more hospitals and there is a greater need for specialist doctors,” declared Ingrid Izar Cuéllar to the local media; Dr. Izar was one of the doctors who protested this Monday in front of the Palacio Nacional, the seat of the Mexican Executive and also, since he took office two years ago, the residence of López Obrador.

The Mexican president had announced in May of last year that they would start a program of scholarships for doctors to live abroad, due to the lack of vacancies in the country. Months later, in November, the health authorities reported not only the doubling of positions but also the launching of up to 1,600 scholarships abroad, with destinations in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Cuba and Australia.

In fact, when doctors took their specialty exams, they were asked if they wanted to go abroad and which country they preferred. continue reading

However, when the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) published the call for the scholarships last December 15, they were only for Cuba. On that occasion, health consultant Xavier Tello noted that Mexico would pay the Cuban government a total of 40 million dollars as “tuition” for this program.

Those aspiring to residencies were up in arms, because it was not even optional: if they did not accept the place on the Island, they would lose it, and their exam results would not be considered.

“It is unfortunate for the aspirations and dreams of doctors who yearn to do a specialty outside the country, that they are not given the opportunity to do it in the place they prefer,” Belinda Cázares Gómez, president of the Mexican Medical Association, told 14ymedio. “It is frustrating, moreover, that if they do not accept studying in Cuba, they will lose their exam passing grade and their efforts will not be recognized.” And she adds: “I don’t think they were even warned.”

“Because of the conditions associated with the pandemic, doctors prefer to stay in their own country and not go out to take risks,” says Dr. Cázares.

Along the same lines, Dr. Izar told Imagen Radio: “We are in the middle of the pandemic and we demand a position here because our selection certificate is about to expire in two weeks.”

Those, like Izar, who passed the National Medical Residency Examination last November, must begin their residency on March 1, but those who chose to go abroad, in this case Cuba, must apply for the Conacyt scholarship before February 12.

“For Rehabilitation Medicine, 449 applicants were selected, of which only 149 obtained a national position,” said Izar. The remaining 300 have to go to Cuba, “obviously doing all the paperwork, which costs between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos, at our own expense,” not to mention “nor are you assured of acceptance.”

With the 1,100 dollars that Conacyt will pay each month for each scholarship holder who goes to Cuba, Izar reflected, two doctors could do their specialty in Mexico, since what is paid to residents in national territory is half the cost. “That is why we think that those economic resources should be redirected to our country and not to Cuba, because we do not know what study plans they manage, what hospitals they offer, we know nothing, everything is phantasmal.”

Dr. Belinda Cázares adds in an interview with 14ymedio: “The doctor who wants to do a specialty wants to have the certainty that his studies have the right academic conditions, that they are what he aspires to, that within the Cuban academic infrastructure he can know which are the study programs and the hospitals where he will work and what opportunity he will have here to occupy a position as a trained specialist once he finishes his specialty” in Cuba.

The president of the Medical Association sees it as positive that other countries receive Mexicans to study specialties and carry out scientific exchanges, but she asks: “What guarantee will these doctors who will go to Cuba to do a specialty have of obtaining a professional license to be able to practice when they return to the country?”

Cázares says he has “very certain information” that there are medical degree students graduated in Cuba but who were later not granted professional licenses in Mexico by the Mexican General Directorate of Professions “because the Cuban academic programs are not compatible with the Mexican ones.”

The issue of forced specialties in Cuba is a new episode that divides the healthcare profession and the president with regards to the Island. The College presided over by Cázares was, precisely, one of the signatories of the letter addressed to López Obrador last June in protest against the hiring of Cuban doctors to work in Mexico.

“We first asked why we as a guild had not been informed”, says Cázares, “what were the specialties of the Cuban doctors who were coming to the country because of the pandemic.” On that occasion, the schools heard “many concerns from the healthcare personnel… They didn’t know if they were doctors, intensive care or emergency physicians, nurses, we didn’t know their academic quality,” he says. “The authorities were very secretive, even the Cubans didn’t talk much.”

Another complaint of the doctors was that they did not even enter the spaces where the COVID patients were being treated. “Did they come to support us?” Cázares asks doubtfully. “The Secretary of Health of Mexico City [Oliva López] answered us that they were observers, epidemiologists, who came to do work of that nature.” Thus, denounces the doctor, “there was a double discourse: did they come as support for the pandemic or to be observers?”

The more than 700 Cuban Brigadists were in Mexican territory during the first wave of the pandemic, distributed between Mexico City and Veracruz returned to Cuba last October. The National Welfare Institute paid the regime more than 6 million dollars for their services, although the contract between the two parties was never made public.

Despite the uproar, Lopez Obrador “imported” again, two months later, a brigade of 500 healthcare workers, joined by a new contingent of 200 last January. Unlike those who worked during the first wave of the pandemic, stationed in civilian hospitals, this time they are in military hospitals, “attending” with the help of the Navy and the Armed Forces, as the Mexican president himself said and a medical source confirmed to 14ymedio, which makes the information about them, if that were possible, even more opaque.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cubans and Other Migrants in a Critical Situation at the Frontier of Colombia and Panama

Migrants at an improvised camp on the shore of the beach. (Semana)

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14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 29 January 2021 — More than 100 Cubans have been stranded for 23 days in the Colombian border municipality of Necoclí, in the department of Antioquia, along with hundreds of Haitians, Venezuelans and other migrants. They are waiting to be transported by boat to a point in Panama in order to continue on to the United States.

The Colombian government announced on January 15 that it was extending the closure of land and river borders until March 1. The director of Migration Colombia, Francisco Espinosa, reported that due to the increase of cases and the worrying hospital situation, due to the high occupation of COVID-19 patients, the passage between Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela was suspended.

According to Wilson Patiño, director of Migration in Antioquia, “it is not a time to travel”, but “to protect ourselves, in order to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infection”. continue reading

Necoclí has become a place with no way out for the migrants: “Every day more and more Cubans continue to arrive, becoming completely trapped in a nightmare”, describes Telemundo’s correspondent, from a makeshift camp where migrants, including small children and pregnant women, find themselves

“What prevents us from leaving is the sea, and I have a son with diarrhea and vomiting,” Cuban Odalys Trobajo, says with impotence, having been stuck halfway after Colombian authorities closed the border because of the pandemic, she tells the news channel.

In the last year, given the restrictions on mobility and quarantine due to COVID, as reported by the Colombian magazine Semana, the passage of migrants has decreased in that region. However, at the beginning of the year, the movement of travelers returned in “Necoclí, the next-to-last step before crossing the Gulf of Urabá and venturing on a path of death through the Darién Gap”, the article states.

First, travelers must reach Capurganá in order to board a boat that will take them to a point in Panamanian territory. “They don’t sell us a ticket because the borders are supposedly closed to us, the migrants, and the illegal boats are leaving,” Ailen Campos, another Cuban, tells Noticias Caracol.

Cuban Jany Perez tells Telemundo: “We are afraid to cross in the illegal boats, because when they arrive they throw you in the water and we don’t want to go through that moment”.

Father Aurelio Moncada, parish priest in a settlement near Capurganá, affirms that the number of migrants arriving in the area continues to rise, too much “for the coyotes (traffickers)”, reports the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. “Since October they have been smuggling them at night”, adds the priest.

For his part, the mayor of Necocli, Jorge Tobón, denounces the critical situation of migrants: “They are taking care of their ’necessities’ on the beaches, that is why we have decreed a health emergency and a humanitarian emergency”.

“I call on the national and departmental government to help us, because the truth is that we are overwhelmed,” insists the mayor. “I hope they help us, many of these migrants are already enduring hunger today. The children are sick too. Migration Colombia should also support us with these people.”

Data published by the International Organization for Migration, collected by El Espectador, point to the increase in the transit of migrants between Colombia and Panama: whereas in 2006 only 79 people crossed the Darien Gap, in 2012 the number rose to 1,777.

By 2015 there were already 29,289 migrants and a year later there were 30,055, “mostly Cubans hoping to quickly to reach the US” in view of the possibility, implemented by Barack Obama in January 2017, of the elimination of the wet foot/dry foot policy, which allowed Cubans who “touched land” in the United States to be on a path to citizenship.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Havana Hopes Biden Will Reverse US Policy Toward Cuba ‘Rapidly’

Raúl Castro and Barack Obama, during the latter’s visit to Havana in 2016. (Fotograma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 January 2021 — The Cuban government hopes that the new US president, Joe Biden, will “quickly” reverse the hard line towards the island of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and resume the thaw initiated by Barack Obama in 2014. This was stated to Reuters by Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the top Cuban Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations with the country to the north.

“Everything could be reversed in the short term if that is the will of the government,” he says in an interview with the British agency. Havana is open to dialogue, he says, but acknowledges that it will not make “political concessions” in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions.

Fernández de Cossío points out that Biden’s promises suggest he will restart the process where he left off when he was Obama’s vice-president. continue reading

Fernández de Cossío is also optimistic that Biden’s team will include officials with experience in relations with Cuba, “who would not be swayed by simplified narratives…This team has more experience than any other in the last 60 years,” he said.

The last measure against the Island’s regime by the Trump administration came just five days before leaving office, with the sanctions imposed on the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and its head, General Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas, for “serious human rights abuses.”

Earlier that same week, the US included Cuba in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism; it had been removed from the list in 2015 during the Obama Administration.

Last May, Washington included the island in the list of countries that “do not fully cooperate” with US anti-terrorism efforts, and, among other sanctions, banned the sending of remittances to Cuba through companies controlled by the Cuban Armed Forces, and included in its black list companies “controlled” by the military, such as Gaesa, Fincimex and Kave Coffee.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

For Melissa Barreto Galvez, a Cuban from Santa Clara, the Trip Ended in Mexico

For Melissa Barreto Gálvez, a Cuban from Santa Clara, the trip ended in Mexico (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 17 January 2021 — When Melissa Barreto Gálvez boarded the plane in Havana that would take her to Nicaragua, the only thing on her mind was her three-year-old son Mylan Kahled. She left him behind, under Grandma’s care, but he was her driving engine to make the big leap and become an immigrant.

“Leaving my little one in Cuba, whom I love most in life, causes me pain that grows stronger every day, which leaves me hardly able to breathe. It’s as if the world is going to fall on you,”  this 22-year-old resident of Santa Clara said moving to 14ymedio.

Melissa is one of thousands of Cubans who in 2020 chose to petition for refuge in Mexico. This process has been triggered in the last four years among the nationals of the island, who have ranked as the third highest of nationalities that requests it, behind Hondurans and Haitians. continue reading

Here she arrived last July, in the midst of the health crisis across the region, dodging obstacles, corrupt cops, dealing with scammers, and some fears. “I left Cuba with other people. When I arrived in Nicaragua, blind, I got my rent by myself and a way to sustain myself,” recalls the young woman, who left in the middle of her medical career in Cuba to seek a better future.

“Since every Cuban is known by our accent and even the way we dress, on my way out of work I met two Cubans. We started sharing and struck up a great friendship.” Like her, the boys also wanted to jump the borders into Mexico, and that’s what they did together.

Melissa and her friends were set up to a contact with coyotes. Within a few days, they had set out on the road. The $1,200 of the initial fare for the trip ended up at $3,500. “I spent some very difficult days, because in the end coyotes took money from us whenever they could. They left us 15 days in a house, almost without food because, according to them, the passage was difficult, but they did it all in order to ask us for more money. Most people arrive in Chiapas [Mexico] in four or five days, I spent 26 days and they were the worst.”

The young woman, who never gave up hope of arriving in Mexico, says she felt a lot of distrust at first “because of the things she heard” about the journey. “But along the way I was losing my fear, because I also knew my friends wouldn’t abandon me.”

The day after she stepped on Mexican soil, on July 12, she showed up at the Office of the Refugee Aid Commission (COMAR). “I did it all very quickly and easily, there were no queues. In those months almost no one was entering the country, mainly because Honduras and Guatemala had their borders closed because of COVID.”

“The third month after I went to the COMAR, I was called to interview for the asylum process. Within a few days I was told to go and pick up the resolution that recognized me as a refugee in the United Mexican States.” She is already in the process of obtaining permanent residency.

The migration landscape in Mexico for Cubans has changed a lot in a few years here. The usual, before, was the immediate deportation of the nationals from the island, a procedure interrupted for a few months, just over five years ago, when, faced with the imminent elimination by the Obama administration of the wet foot/dry foot policy, there was an avalanche of Cubans who entered the Chiapas border with the intention of reaching the United States by land. They then received an expedited “letter of exit” from the Instituto Nacional de Migración (Mexican National Institute of Migration), which allowed them to remain in the country legally for 15 days, until they reached the northern border.

Melissa now lives in Monterrey. She went a few days without a job, but she then was able to find one in order to move ahead. She claims that the important thing is to work, and she has lived it from the south to the north of the country, within a Cuban community that grows every day. And she also found love in another Cuban, a man who is young like her, who also wants to “throw in” (echar pa’ lante = work hard to get ahead), she says.

If everything becomes better on the northern border, does she plan to apply for asylum in the United States? “My son is not here with me and I have no plans to go to the USA yet. Maybe tomorrow, when I have my son, I will be able to tell you, but the truth is, I want to be here, in the beautiful country that has welcomed me.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Diaz-Canel vs Ordinary Cubans: Equal Before the Law?

Díaz-Canel appearing on the Roundtable TV show on Cuban State television (pre-pandemic) (Twitter)

Cubalex, Lawyer Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo I myself, Julio Alfredo Ferrer, filed a complaint against President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez with the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) for the crime of spreading epidemics. José Luis Reyes Blanco, promoted in August 2019 to FGR prosecutor by the State Council, quoted me and responded verbally.

Reyes Blanco argued that the president’s conduct did not constitute an administrative or contraventional offense nor did it typify the crime of Spreading of Epidemic, because there was no contagion or transmission of the epidemic. In view of the institution representing this criminal figure, according to doctrinal definitions, it was a crime of concrete danger.

Such an argument is an error and an attempt to guarantee impunity to public officials to the detriment of the right to equality and non-discrimination of Cuban citizens. continue reading

Debate of recognized experts on criminal law on the differences between “abstract danger” and “danger”

According to Doctor of Legal Sciences Renén Quirós Pírez, the classification of offenses of danger into “abstract” and “concrete” by Santiago Mir Puig had obscured the issue. He added that Gonzalo Rodríguez Mourullo understood that it was a contradiction to continue talking about abstract danger where there was indeed a concrete danger.

According to Dr. Quirós, the terminological question did not change the concepts. The jurist defined crimes of “concrete” danger as those in which the danger to the good as protected by criminal law is a requirement of the crime itself or one of its constituent elements. He exemplifies it with the following crime from the Cuban Penal Code:

“It is punishable by deprivation of liberty from three months to one year, or a fine of one hundred to three hundred shares*, or both, for: while having the responsibility of the operation of a drinking water supply for the population, for negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water, endangering the health of the population.” [1].

This crime is of concrete danger, because the standard requires that the person who commits it, either by negligence or non-compliance with established standards, damages the quality of the water.

Crimes of “abstract” danger are those in which the act is punished because the behavior itself is dangerous. It adds, that action or omission is prohibited, because it creates a situation in which it is possible to damage the good, as protected by criminal law. The person driving a vehicle in a state of alcoholic intoxication is punished, even if in such a state he does not run over or injure someone or cause damage [2].

The Danger in the Crime of “Spreading Epidemics”

The Penal Code sanctions with imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine of between 100 and 15 thousand pesos to “in breach of measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities for the prevention and control of communicable diseases and programs or campaigns for the control or eradication of serious or dangerous diseases or epidemics” [3].

On 27 May 2020, the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos ratified the one-year and six-month penalty of deprivation of liberty for Keilylli de la Mora Valle for a number of crimes, including the spreading of epidemics.

The Appellate Sentencing Act says “that the crime of spreading epidemics only requires that the perpetrator fails to comply with the measures provided by health authorities for the prevention and control of epidemics, and the prosecutor argued that, “in the case under review the accused actually failed to comply with one of those measures which is the correct, permanent use of a mask when taking to the streets…”

President Díaz-Canel Bermúdez also did not wear the mask correctly or maintain social distancing, when on November 29, 2020 he participated in the rally called “TANGANAZO”in Parque Trillo. He wore a mask like a bib while delivering a short speech, practically on top of the people gathered there.

All, including the highest executive authority of the Cuban nation, broke the measures or provisions issued by the appropriate health authorities in order to confront Covid-19. The Ministry of Public Health established as mandatory the correct use of the mask outside homes or places of residence, and social distancing in all public and private spaces[4].

Following the judgment sustained by the First Criminal Chamber of the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos, regarding the danger in the crime of Spread of Epidemic, the President of the Republic must be held criminally liable in the same way as Keilylli de la Mora Valle, who was imprisoned for less dangerous acts than those committed by Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

The right to equality before the law

The Public Prosecutor’s Office should seek the same legal treatment that it gave to the President of the Republic, to all those who like De la Mora Valle were punished for the crime of Spreading of Epidemic. It should push forward in favor of these others, the Review procedure before the Supreme Court, by requesting annulment of sanctions and compensating those who were unjustly imprisoned.

In the television program Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) of June 6, 2020, the Attorney General of the Republic, Yamila Peña Ojeda, reported that the spreading of epidemics was one of the criminal conducts associated with the pandemic, and that by then they had referred 1,868 criminal cases to the courts. Rubén Remigio Ferro, President of the Supreme Court, noted that 1,856 people were tried and 1,839 sanctioned for failing to comply with health measures to deal with COVID-19.

This issue is of vital importance to Cubans, especially to those imprisoned for the same crime for which the President of the Republic was exculpated. I take this opportunity to convene all the jurists inside and outside the Island to offer their considerations on the corrupt actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

[1] Paragraph ch) of Section 1 of Article 194 of the Penal Code

[2] Paragraph a) of Section 1 of Article 181 of the Penal Code

[3] Paragraph 1 of Article 187 of the Penal Code

[4] Paragraphs a) and c) of Section “Tercero” of Resolution 128/2020 of the Ministry of Public Health

*Translator’s note: In Cuban legal codes fines are expressed as “shares.” In this way the definition of a “share” can be changed in one place, and all the fines throughout the code are automatically changed.

Translated by Hombre de Paz

The Cuban Bishops Ask for a Dialogue Between Those Who Have ‘Differing Opinions’

The message of the bishops was added to several voices who in recent weeks have criticized from within the Catholic Church the distressing situation that is being lived on the island. (IglesiaCubana)

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14ymedio, Havana, 12 December 2020 — On Saturday, Cuba’s Catholic bishops published their traditional Christmas message which, this year, includes calls “for dialogue and negotiation between those who have different opinions,” a few words that arrive in the middle of a strong defamation campaign on the part of the government against its critics.

“As pastors we are looking at a tired and overwhelmed people,” warns eleven bishops and Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, who signed the text. “Material deficiencies, spiritual fatigue, personal, family and national economic insufficiencies that severely affect life in the present and cast a shadow over the future.”

Some problems that “are weighing on the souls of the vast majority of Cubans. The existing economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of natural phenomena cause fears and uncertainties within the population,” they itemized. continue reading

According to the signatories, gathered at the Conference of Bishops of Cuba, these difficulties especially strike “the most disadvantaged: pensioners, the unemployed, single mothers, the sick, prisoners and the elderly living alone and in need.”

“In the midst of this situation, in addition to the proposals for a solution provided by the authorities of the country, so many others have been expressed, the result of the genuine love and commitment of Cubans,” some proposals that “must be heard and attended to,” the priests claim.

The message includes a list of the good news that Cubans need to hear, such as that “the burden of getting food becomes a serene sharing of daily bread as a family” and also “that the announced readjustment of the national economy, far from raising the concerns of many, will help everyone to sustain their family with decent work, with sufficient pay and with the ever-necessary social justice.”

Avoiding “violence, confrontation, insult and dismissiveness, to create an atmosphere of social friendship and universal fraternity” is also part of those good news that the population hopes for, along with “intolerance giving way to a healthy plurality, dialogue and negotiation among those who have different opinions and criteria.”

What the bishops long for is that “Cubans not to have to look outside the country for what we should find within; that we don’t have to wait for them to give us from above what we ourselves should and can build from below.” In addition to “ceasing all blockades, external and internal, and giving way to creative initiative, the liberation of productive forces and laws that promote initiative.”

Only in this way will “everyone feel and be able to be the protagonist of their life project and, in this way, the Nation will move towards comprehensive human development,” consider the signatories of the message. The text concludes with a Christmas message for “all Cubans, wherever they are.”

The message of the bishops comes in addition to several voices who in recent weeks have criticized, from within the Catholic Church ,the plight that is being lived on the island. Last November, the Cuban Conference of Religious (Conferencia Cubana de Religiosos y Religiosas, CONCUR) condemned that it was not right what “is happening with the supposed currency exchange, which has become an almost permanent and threatening shadow.”

CONCUR, which brings together the consecrated nuns and priests of the Catholic Church, thus joined with several priests of the island and the diaspora who in recent weeks have raised their voices to blame the Government for the lack of freedoms and food suffered by the country.

The first was the priest Jorge Luis Pérez Soto, parish priest of San Francisco de Paula, in the municipality of Diez de Octubre, in Havana, who in October claimed in a homily that the Church should get involved in politics.

A few days later, another priest, Laureano Hernández Sasso, lamented the deafness of Cuban leaders. “Why do we have to beg? Why does President Miguel Díaz-Canel speak and speak and never say anything? Or is it that we have to tell our president that we can’t go on like this?” the priest wrote on his Facebook account.

On November 1st, it was the Camagueyan priest Alberto Reyes, who spoke of the fear toward the regime and the situation that is being lived on the island. “Cuba is a big jail where, if you misbehave, they put you in a smaller one. And as in a prison, at last, we felt controlled,” he denounced in his social networks.

From Miami, he was supported by the rector of Ermita de la Caridad (the National Sanctuary Hermitage of Charity), Fernando Heria, who called on the bishops of Cuba to speak out against the regime, since Cuban priests “are tired of living under two types of dictatorships: ecclesiastical and government.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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Letter to Fernando Rojas, Cuba’s Vice-Minister of Culture

The first group of artists to plant themselves in front of the Ministry of Culture on November 27. (Reynier Leyva Novo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ines Casal, Havana, December 7, 2020 — Fernando: If you find it disrespectful for me to address a letter to you in this way, I ask your pardon. And I assure you, I do it this way because I have no other way to communicate with you. Who knows if you won’t read this thing I write, either, but “just because my message might never be received doesn’t mean it’s not worth sending.”

I also apologize for addressing you informally as “Tú”, but this “letter” is addressed to the human being I met years ago (although maybe you don’t remember me), and not the official you are today. And I have a hard time treating you as a “you” [the more formal “Usted”], when I met you as Fernandito, as your parents called you. I trust you don’t see it badly either.

I know the lineage from where you come. Your parents were my co-workers, my bosses and my friends for a long time at the University of Havana. Your father, Fernando Rojas, Rector of the UH for several years, was an upright and honest man, who dedicated his whole life to his country and his Revolution, who educated, together with sweet Fefa, four children with a sense of truth and honesty, first and foremost. Although some wretched people (there always are) may have criticized him and even charged him for some “human weaknesses,” but never of being corrupt or opportunistic. continue reading

But since as I know your family well, you may have forgotten where he comes from and who my son Julius César Llópiz Casal is.

My son also comes from upright, honest parents who gave all their strength, all their energies, all their knowledge, all their revolutionary dreams to the UH and to their country. And they also educated their two children to respect truth and decorum, which is what people have when they don’t hide what they think.

I know what the duties of a post or a party are. I was a militant of the PCC [Partido Comunista de Cuba, the Communist Party of Cuba] for almost 30 years, and I was conscientious, because I believed in the Revolution, from the heart. Although for years I have felt betrayed in my purest dreams. But no office, no party position made me lie or betray my conscience. Luckily, I was always surrounded by colleagues who were able to discuss what we didn’t understand. When I felt betrayed by the Revolution (because it wasn’t me who did the betraying), I just stopped believing in it.

My son, Fernando, is not a terrorist, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, doesn’t seek to destabilize the system, let alone incite a popular uprising, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is not manipulated, managed, paid for by any foreign government, by any organization, by any means of the press, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is not a criminal, he is a Cuban artist who also works by Cuba and for Cuba, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, says what he thinks, anywhere and under any circumstance, and you know it.

My son, Fernando, is a good man, and you know it.

That is why, from the bottom of my heart, I ask you to try, now from your duty as an official, in time to put a stop to a defamatory and cowardly campaign that has broken out in the official media against peaceful people who have only wanted to be heard. This media circus can have unimaginable and terrible consequences.

And that, Fernando, you also know.

With all my respect and consideration, Inés Casal Enríquez.

Ed. note: This letter was originally published in the social network Facebook.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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Organizations Speak Out Concerning the Wave of Repression in Cuba / Artículo 19 and Cubalex

Artículo 19 and Cubalex — Article 19 strongly condemns the wave of arbitrary arrests that have been taking place since Thursday, November 12, against independent journalists, human rights activists and political opponents in Cuba. These events have been accompanied by interrogations, threats, seizures of work equipment, beatings, among other assaults.

The aggressors have been agents of the Cuban State in their official capacity, belonging to the organs of State Security (Seguridad del Estado), Military Counterintelligence (Contrainteligencia Militar) and the National Revolutionary Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria, PNR). As part of the modus operandi of these officials, detainees have been transferred to several police stations in the city and have remained missing on average for more than twelve hours.

Arbitrary arrests began on November 12, when a group of activists, journalists, artists and opponents concentrated in the vicinity of the Cuba and Chacón police station, in the municipality of Habana Vieja, Havana, to demand the release of Denis Solís González. He had been arbitrarily arrested a few days earlier and transferred to that police station. In his detention, the most basic guarantees of due process were violated, and on Friday, November 13, it was said that he was allegedly transferred to Valle Grande prison in western Havana for a summary trial for the alleged commission of a crime of Contempt. continue reading

The people who were arrested during these days were: Iliana Hernández Cardosa, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Anamely Ramos González, Denis Solís González, Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, Maykel Castillo Pérez, Oscar Casanella, Omara Ruiz Urquiola, Katherine Bisquet, Adrián Rubio, Jovián Díaz Batista, Jorge Luis Estien Bryan, Alfredo Martínez, Michel Matos, Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, Eralidis Frómeta, Yunier Gutiérrez and Yasser Castellanos. As of today, Sunday November 15, some of these citizens still persist in their demands in front of police facilities.

These facts constitute a flagrant violation of international obligations for the protection and guarantee of human rights, which the Cuban State has assumed under International Law (Derecho Internacional). It is also a violation of the recommendations made under the universal system of protection of human rights, both by bodies and agencies belonging to it, as well as by other States during the last Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Cuba (Examen Periódico Universal de la República de Cuba) in 2018. Similarly, the arrests of these persons are violations of inter-American and universal standards concerning the rights of assembly and peaceful demonstration, freedom of expression, the right to individual freedom and security, due process, access to justice, among others.

The article Organizaciones se pronuncian por la ola de represión de Cuba was first published in Cubalex. Indexing topic: San Isidro Movement (MSI)

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


Cuban Science, Victim of Propaganda and Greed

Caption: Of all the studies that have been carried out, only one meets all the requirements: that of the national vaccine candidate, Soberana. (Prensa Latina)

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Javier Roque Martínez, Isabel M. Echemendía Pérez and 14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2020 — In mid-March, just two days after the first case of coronavirus was detected in Cuba, state-owned Biocubafarma announced that it had the necessary products to fight the disease, some of them “already proven with high efficacy.”

From then until the end of September, the Registro Público Cubano de Ensayos Clínicos (Cuban Public Register of Clinical Trials) has mentioned 22 trials of pandemic-related products, of which nine would have produced some kind of scientific article by that date. However, so far there have been found academic articles related to only four Cuban coronavirus treatments.

Cuba has presented itself during the pandemic as a pharmaceutical power, but the truth is that, if you look closely at the trials of its medicines and other biotech products, the errors and inconsistencies are numerous. The ideal standard of science are tests that are randomized, controlled, and with some sort of masking technique. But of all those that have been made, only one meets all the requirements: that of the national vaccine candidate, Soberana. continue reading

The four products about which there are publications, were either tested on a very small number of people, or they were tested on groups of patients from which were excluded those most likely to be made worse by their age or by having other diseases, according to the scientific articles.

Cuba has tested four types of products: antivirals to reduce the chance of patients getting worse (such as the interferons); specific drugs to prevent the more severe cases from dying (such as Jusvinza and Itolizumab); products that improve immunity for risk groups (such as Biomodulin T); and vaccines (Soberana).

The interferons were presented as one of Cuba’s great contributions to the world since the beginning of the pandemic, and were tested in many countries. Itoluzimab and Jusvinza, for their part, were promoted by the president himself, Miguel Díaz-Canel, but the studies for most drugs of these groups have not produced publications, which in practice leads to the assumption that the studies do not exist. This is the case, for example, of Biomodulin T, whose results have not yet been disseminated.

Jusvinza and Itolizumab, on the other hand, did produce scientific articles, but to date neither has been subjected to peer review, a process that consists in other experts thoroughly examining the article for errors or biases, in order to ensure that the authors of the research have followed a strictly scientific method.

But the most serious problems do not occur in this regard, but in the data produced by the tests that were carried out.

In the case of Itolizumab, it was tested on a group of 19 patients from the Santa Clara nursing home. Although this drug was advertised as a treatment for severe patients, the recipients only had moderate symptoms, such as fever or lack of oxygen, but without a need for intensive care or intubation. In this outbreak there were 47 positive cases and between three and six deaths, so it does not explain the specific selection of those who participated in the trial, or whether the others did so and their reaction was not included.

Jusvinza, the other product for seriously-ill patients, was tested on the right people, but there were only 16 people, of which two died from an unidentified infection which they acquired in the hospital, which led to the conclusion that “all critical patients (11) recovered from respiratory distress.”

In other cases where the drugs were tested on more people, the findings cannot be clearly determined because the control groups were not comparable. This invalidates the study or makes it meaningless.

“It is important to note that such studies (the uncontrolled ones) cannot be taken as evidence that the treatment works,” said Javier González Argote, a Cuban physician taking doctoral studies in Biological Chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires.

Problems related to the selection of patients in the control group were evident in the study carried out with Heberon (trade name of Interferon alfa-2b), the largest in Cuba.

This antiviral was tested until July in 2,165 patients, a large majority of those infected on the island. The researchers concluded that an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and treated with Heberon was 57 times more likely to recover than one who did not receive it.

In the control group there were 130 patients, those who did not agree to receive Heberon, those who could have contraindications, and those who were most vulnerable to serious sickness. This made the group completely different from the one who did receive it: younger patients (44 years on average), with fewer previous diseases, and even asymptomatic people (up to 56% of the group). The average age of the control group was 68 years; 80% had possible complications and only 18% were asymptomatic.

In the group that received Heberon, less than 1% died, and in the other group, half did. Researchers recognize the problem of having had two non-parallel groups. “The data analysis in this study was limited, because it includes unbalanced demographic groups,” they add.

In the case of HeberFeron (the combination of Interferon alfa and gamma) a control group similar to the one receiving the treatment was used. But it was decided not to include in the research those patients who were most likely to worsen and those who showed a greater persistence of the virus in their body (several positive PCR tests [polymerase chain reaction] after receiving treatment). In this trial, involving 66 people, all patients with chronic diseases which are associated with increased comorbidity with COVID-19 were excluded.

With these patients eliminated, two groups were formed, one that received HeberFeron and the control group that received another interferon. Although no one died, only one patient worsened in the control group; while in the one which tested the drug there were two. Despite this, it was considered successful because the latter took less time to negativize the virus.

Cuban researcher Susana Delgado Ocaña, a doctoral student in Biological Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina, believes that concessions are acceptable, given the current emergency circumstances, but recognizes that the effectiveness of a drug cannot be validated. “Studies (of this type) may report improvements not necessarily attributed to treatment. In general, such trials tend to show greater efficacy of a treatment, sometimes ‘false positives’,” she pointed out.

U.S.-based Cuban biochemist Jorge Antonio Benítez argued in a recent article that, while the island’s biotechnology has obtained great achievements, its results are affected by politicization, a culture of secrecy, and a lack of regulations against conflicts of interest. For Benitez, one of the main problems of Cuban research is its emphasis on product development that can generate economic benefits in the short term, without conducting research set on solid theoretical foundations.

According to Nature Index, which evaluates countries for the quality of their scientific publications, Cuba is currently behind countries such as Panama or Costa Rica.

Despite all this, the experts agree on the success of the Cuban strategy, the country with the fewest deaths and cases of the continent. However, they do not attribute it so much to their pharmaceuticals, but to the good implementation of “non-pharmaceutical interventions and other epidemiological tools”, as noted in a recent article by the Cuban biologist Amílcar Pérez-Riverol. These virtues would apparently be the rapid implementation of mobility restriction measures, mass investigation in suspected cases, effective contact tracing, and the testing programme, as well as the great strength of its primary care system.

In any case, the rate of lethality, being low, is similar in Cuba to most countries around it and there is no reason for pharmacological triumphalism.

When President Díaz-Canel visited the Instituto Finlay in early October to ask about the progress of the Soberana study, the institution’s director, Vicente Vérez, informed him that his plan was to start immunize “our entire population” in the first half of next year. As always, ideological voluntarism takes precedence over reality.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Salesian Father Bruno Roccaro Dies at 100, ‘A Living History of the Cuban Church’

Bruno Roccaro was ordained a priest in 1949 and arrived in Cuba when he was 50 years old. (Raúl Ernesto Gutiérrez García)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 November 2020 – The priest Bruno Roccaro died on Tuesday in the city of Santa Clara from cardiac arrest, the Agencia Católica de Informaciones reported. The Salesian missionary, who on July 23 turned 100 years old, had been admitted Monday for a hip fracture.

The Salesians of Cuba Facebook page confirmed the news in a post, echoing a message from Arturo González Amador, Bishop of Santa Clara: “Father Bruno Roccaro has just passed away from cardiac arrest. Rest in the peace of God. Yesterday he was admitted for a hip fracture and waited in very good spirits for tomorrow for surgery. A friend is in heaven!”

Among the many comments of condolences, that of Father Jorge Catasus stands out, who said: “A wise and holy priest. How much do many of we Cuban priests owe him. Together with the venerable Father René David he was one of the saviors of Seminario San Carlos and San Ambrosio, in times of crisis. Thank you for your transparent priestly testimony.” continue reading

For the Salesians of Cuba, Roccaro was like the “living history of the Cuban Church” and they emphasized that he evangelized the island for 50 years. “Italian by birth and Cuban by vocation. And one of the creators of the historic Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting/Encuentro Nacional Eclesial Cubano of 1986,” they noted.

During the celebration of his last birthday, the missionary stated, “If I am what I am, what little I have done in my life, I have not done it alone, it is not my work, but that of the many who have helped me, and first of all, God.” He also said that it was necessary to build bridges between the Catholics themselves, adding: “I find it very difficult to think that two people of the religious life cannot agree, that they are enemies, opponents.”

Bruno Roccaro was born on July 23, 1920, in Scorzè, Venecia. He was ordained a priest in 1949, and arrived in Cuba as a missionary at the age of 50.

During his stay on the island he organized study programs in Humanities and Philosophy, in addition to his work for a quarter of a century at the Seminario San Carlos and San Ambrosio in Havana.

“I believe that a missionary in Cuba has to be a happy man, one who has also found the source of his happiness,” the father told Vandor Producciones. “He has to be a courtier, that is, when he sets foot in the territory to which he is destined here in Cuba, he cannot forget the past, but neither is it a thing of nostalgia for him. He has to feel Cuban, he has to love the nation where he is.”

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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Cuba Archive Broadcasts Video Testimonials of Relatives of Victims of Extrajudicial Executions

Gerardo Fundora, Marta González’s cousin, was shot in October 1960 at Limonar’s shooting range, Las Villas. (Captura)

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14ymedio, Havana, 2 November 2020 — Moíses was 24 in 1961 and a leader of the Matanza resistance when, one night, after the tip-off by someone he trusted, hooded government agents went to pick him up at his house and executed him alongside three comrades, Bernardo and Orlando Barrabí and Orlando Rodriguez. All four were shot in the cemetery of Agramonte and buried in a mass grave.

Stories like this try to put faces to a large list of victims of the two Cuban dictatorships of the twentieth century, that of Batista from 1952 onward, and that of Castro. Archivo Cuba / Cuba Archive works on the testimonies of the stolen lives of at least 11,303 missing Cubans, in an ongoing database. The organization wants to go beyond the numbers, and asks relatives or witnesses of those killed o narrate their personal trauma.

“These are people, real human beings, whose lives have been stolen prematurely by political violence, directly or indirectly. These unjust and often brutal losses have impacted many more people: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc., and have had a broad impact on the nation,” the organization says. continue reading

This is also the case of Gerardo Fundora, shot in October 1960 at the firing range in Limonar, Las Villas. Marta González, his cousin, recalls the story of this 32-year-old trade unionist, a member of the resistance against Batista who opposed the Castro brothers and formed a group of rebels in Palenque, Matanzas. After being captured with some members of his group and tortured, he was executed without trial after being accused of shooting at a girl. Before shooting him, he was exhibited in the city as an “example” of what could happen to any opponent.

According to data from Cuba Archive, 3,045 people were shot by the Castro regime, in a list that is still being updated.

The project incorporates many other murders, such as that of political prisoner Ernesto Díaz Madruga in 1964, recounted by the former political prisoner Armando Valladares. The event happened in the prison of Isla de Los Pinos in an attack by the guards with bayonets. Another victim was José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, whose death at 61 his sister Lucy Ramón recalls.

His death was caused by hepatitus contracted in a Cuban prison in 2018, a date so recent that it recalls why it is still necessary to bring back to the memory of the nation the lives that intolerance has claimed.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

On the Failures of Central Planning in Cuba

The bad condition of the buildings and the ruins of the city are among the favorite snapshots that foreign tourists love to take as a souvenir — and are among the many failures of a centrally planned economy. (14ymedio)

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14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 28 October 2020 – I do not think I am wrong in saying that, in Cuba at this point, there are still those who believe in the feasibility of central economic planning, even after 61 years of continuous failures.

Central planning means giving the state superior power to direct, according to its political criteria, the decisions of economic operators, thus breaking with market efficiency as an instrument for resource allocation. The ethics of centralized economic planning are unacceptable. This even, thinking that its chances of success increase, since there are no private property rights in Cuba.

Between the two extreme positions, central planning and market, there are countless points where a favorable result can be achieved in terms of well-being and quality of life. continue reading

But in Cuba it is still thought that the comprehensive transformation of the development management system can be successfully undertaken through central planning as its main element. This idea, rooted in the revolutionary principles of communist orthodoxy, refuses to use other instruments of economic policy, such as regulation, public policy management, governance or economic control, among others.

Perhaps that is why planning was established as a benchmark in the so-called Conceptualización del Modelo [Conceptualisation of the Cuban Socio-Economic Socialist Development Model], approved during the seventh Communist Congress. It was approved, that the planning-based management system should establish a mandatory relationship between the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo Económico y Social [National Economic and Social Development Plan], the State Budget and the monetary and financial balance, all in line with fiscal, monetary, exchange rate, credit, wage and price policies.

The Cuban economy, under such conditions, does not depend on the free and motivated action of private and public economic operators, but rather is centralized under absolute control of the state, which, moreover, owns most of the resources and means of production. Contrary to official doctrine, which considers this scenario to be a strength, it makes sense to think just the opposite, considering what the results of planning have been at all levels.

If in the free market economy the adjustment between the decisions of the operators is made in the market, through supply and demand, in Cuba this process goes through the hands of bureaucrats holed up in a government “ministry,” who make decisions based on their alleged superiority over the rest of the citizens and companies.

While the market produces efficient results, despite its failures, the second is a scenario of failure, and one after the other. And the bad news is that the Cuban communist authorities cling to planning, as if it were the only thing that can help overcome the serious obstacles of the economy.

Centralized planning is the source of numerous problems, because it limits, conditions, and, in some ways, coerces the behaviors of the economic operators of consumption, investment, savings, production, etc. Decisions that in any economy of the world are freely made by their stakeholders, in Cuba are directed “from above” and there is no room for your questions. Then, when what is planned doesn’t come to pass, no one is answerable for their failures. And it all begins again.

Over the years, the Cuban communist experience in centralized economic planning has served to prove the real impossibility of a state or government efficiently conducting its economy. The enormous centralization of decisions in the Cuban economy and the total absence of democracy in the processes, determine that the population is facing problems in order to exercise their role as consumers, investors, savers or simply to devote hours to leisure. Centralized economic planning intervenes in micro space, where operators maximize their well-being with income constraints, and therefore the Cuban economy is systematically distorted.

For example, central planning explains why bankrupt state-owned enterprises, which produce at very high prices, and therefore need state budget subsidies to adapt prices to the low purchasing power of the population, are kept in operation. Numerous examples of investment, foreign trade operations and even decisions on what to produce and how could be cited. Those responsible for central planning in Cuba have never negotiated to achieve a consensus, but have imposed their decisions, setting objectives that, most of the time, were simply impossible to meet.

By identifying central planning as the central axis of the economy, together with the key role given to state-owned enterprises, the Cuban communist régime regresses 50 years, to positions that in the global and modern digital world and in transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, are unthinkable, and which will eventually cause its own demise. The foundations of this model of economic organization, based on numerous failures and mistakes, are weaker than the authorities think and at any moment, the house of cards will fall apart completely.

Could monetary and exchange rate be the setting for the crisis of the model? Of course it could. As now planned, with a central role of the state in controlling the wage and price process after the devaluation of the Cuban currency, anything can happen. Without the need for “shock therapies” or avoiding “leaving anyone helpless,” the tensions that will occur after the devaluation and the effects on prices, wages and consumption will make it very difficult to anticipate the results, no matter how much planning is done.

Companies fear that they will not be able to pass their higher costs on through prices, consumers fear that they will not be able to buy the products they want to consume because of their insufficient wages and pensions, commodity producers do not know the impact of the devaluation on their supply, the export options are unknown, the utilization of installed production capacity remains low. The uncertainty and risks ahead are so high that many wonder, what’s the point of centrally planning the economy, when there is no confidence in the authorities in charge of its leadership.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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