Holguin Hospitals Throw Away Biological Wastes in the Cemetery / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma and Fernando Donate

Broken tombstones in the Mayabe cemetery, Holguin.  (14ymedio)

Broken tombstones in the Mayabe cemetery, Holguin. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Orlando Palma and Fernando Donate, Holguin, 11 July 2015 – Broken tombstones, open graves, dilapidated tombs, and, here and there, scavengers that devour shallowly buried remains. This is no scene from a horror movie but images from a video that exposes the serious situation in the Mayabe Cemetery in Holguin.

Released by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in 2014, the film was produced by journalists Nairovis Zaldivar, Yainiel Diamela Escofet and Rosaida Check, and has been distributed through the illegal “weekly packet” that circulates widely in the province without any official media picking up the story.

Almost a year later, the problem has not been solved; it was caused because the Vladimir Ilich Lenin University General Hospital, the Lucia Iniguez Landin Surgical Teaching Clinic and the Provincial Military Hospital bury their wastes in the place, since their crematoriums are not functioning. Criticism of the mismanagement of biological wastes has been heard at various levels but local authorities have not taken action in the matter.

In the investigative work the errors committed by the medical institutions depositing the remains from surgeries, abortions, amputations and tests, without proper precautions, are laid bare. For months, those who have visited the grave of a relative in the cemetery have been overwhelmed by carrion birds and other animals that helped themselves to the hospital wastes barely covered by a little dirt. Continue reading

The Onslaught of Undocumented Cubans Arriving in the US Crashes Social Services / Diario de Cuba

diariodecubalogoDiariodeCuba.org, Miami, 10 July 2015 – The increase in the number of Cubans who ae arriving undocumented in the United States due to the announcement of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba is so great that Florida’s social services cannot cope; they have crashed and have a waiting list of almost two months, reports the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

This situation slows the settlement of these people in other states, the receipt of work permits and emergency monetary help. Those recently arrived fear that the renewal of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level will put an end to exceptional immigration laws favoring Cubans.

According to figures from Immigration Services, since the October 1st beginning of the fiscal year, almost 19,000 Cubans have entered the country either by sea or across the Mexican border, a figure equivalent to the total arrivals of the previous year. Two thirds of those arrived since the announcement of the thaw. Continue reading

At Least 563 Arbitrary Arrests in June, according to CCDHRN / 14ymedio

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca

Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 July 2015 – Through the month of June, at least 563 arbitrary arrests of regime opponents in Cuba were recorded according to the report published this Tuesday by the Cuban Commission on National Human Rights and Reconciliation (CCDHRN). In spite of a slight decrease in the number compared to previous months, the total continues to be one of the highest in the hemisphere.

The organization also counted 26 physical attacks and 16 cases of harassment; however, it recorded no acts of repudiation nor vandalism against homes of dissidents.

The report mentions the case of Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca, an independent journalist arbitrarily detained last June 3, interrogated by State Security and transported dozens of miles from Havana. After forcing him to kneel looking at the ground, the agents put the barrel of a pistol against his neck, which the CCDHRN classifies as an unofficial mock execution.

Translated by MLK

Killing for a Dwelling / Cubanet, Ernesto Perez Chang

A usual scene in Reparto Electrico, whether Holy Week or not

A usual scene in Reparto Electrico, whether Holy Week or not

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 1 July 2015 – A daughter killed her mother, dismembered her with the help of her boyfriend and then reported her missing in order to be able to inherit her humble apartment in a slum where they both lived. It may seem the plot of a horror movie but it is a real story that barely a year ago shook the community of Reparto Electrico.

It was not the first time I heard such chilling news as that; but more than the blood relationship between the victim and the murderer, the motive of the killer was what accentuated the absurdity, the insanity, especially when in the streets, while the crime was being talked about, equally disturbing stories emerged about family conflicts related to the difficulties in wrangling a place to live.

Before and after that bloody episode, I learned of other similar scenarios, and, according to Orlando Asdrubal, a lawyer who has followed several cases in the Arroyo Naranjo township, the bloody events within families are increasing, all related to housing property rights. Continue reading

Juan Abreu: “Executions in Cuba Are an Untold Story” / 14ymedio, Yaiza Santos

Juan Abreu: ‘1959. Fall from Grace,’ fragment (oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm)

Juan Abreu: ‘1959. Fall from Grace,’ fragment (oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yaiza Santos, Mexico, 27 June 2015 – Painter and writer Juan Abreu (b. Havana, 1952) has taken on the inordinate task of painting, one by one, all those executed by the Castro regime. The work in progress is entitled 1959 but encompasses 2003, the year in which Lorenzo Capello, Barbaro Sevilla and Jorge Martinez were sentenced to death in a summary trial, accused of “acts of terrorism” after trying to reroute a passenger ferry to escape to the United States.They were the last executed by the Cuban government. “Let it be known,” says Abreu.

The project emerged, he says, recently, by chance: “I was doing some paintings that had to do with shootings in Cuba, because I was struck by the character, the loner that they are going to kill. I had seen some paintings by Marlene Dumas of Palestinians and then I approached the subject. When I started researching, suddenly the faces of all these people began to appear. I began to look at the faces and read, and suddenly I realized that I was going to have to paint this. Not only as a kind of pictorial adventure, which it is, because of the quantity of portraits and the complexity of the genre, but also because it seems to me that I have a certain moral responsibility.” Continue reading

Politicians by Decree and Illiterate by Submission / Cubanet, Victor Manuel Dominguez

20080405035345-raulcubanet square logoCubanet.org, Victor Manuel Dominguez, Havana, 24 June 2015 – Abel Prieto rides again. Not as the author of two little novels whose names I cannot remember. Nor as the ex-president of a union of writers and authors more sold to the powers-that-be than self-help books at the Havana book fair, or reproductions of “Still Life with the Leader” at an art exposition committed to who knows what.

Never ever as that ex-minister of culture, with long hair and little sense, who declared that poets like Raul Rivera could be jailed, but they would not show up shot in the head at the edge of some ditch. Now, such a sad political figure, he rides as the cultural adviser to the Cuban president.

Other “Kultural Pajes”

As the Spanish writer Arturo Perez Reverte said in his article “Kultural Pajes” from the book With Intent to Offend, “The more illiterate the politicians are – in Spain those two words almost always are synonymous – the more they like to appear in the cultural pages of the newspapers.” Continue reading

Human Development in a Country without Freedom? / Cubanet, Jose Hugo Fernandez

represion-1

The regime has dedicated itself to sugarcoating the pill for organizations like the UN, UNESCO and UNICEF

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Jose Hugo Fernandez, Havana, 23 June 2015 – Recently, during a conference at the University of Puerto Rico, I was astonished to hear how a teacher cited Cuba as such an example of Human Development for the Caribbean region and the whole continent. No political deliberation was evident in her statements. She simply appealed to statistics and reports by international institutions, apparently trusting completely in the reputation of the issuer, and without reference to other more vital sources for comparison. The thing is that it made me feel ashamed somehow of representing my country under circumstances in which perhaps I should have felt proud.

The cynical compromise, well structured and promptly placed in orbit, can become a historical fact. Machiavelli had it right, more than five centuries ago, so how much better will our chiefs, his gifted students, have learned it, even if they act much more savagely. Continue reading

Domestic Tourism, the Faces of Deceit / Cubanet, Ernesto Perez Chang

Cuban guests can only observe foreigners enjoy yachting trips.  They are prohibited from this activity (photo by the author)

Cuban guests can only observe foreigners enjoy yachting trips. They are prohibited from this activity (photo by the author)

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 16 June 2015 — To judge by the avalanche of television programs that in recent weeks have been dedicated to so-called “domestic tourism,” in Cuba all families have adequate income to become a major market for the island’s hotel groups and resorts.

Several Round Tables with the participation of ministers, vice-ministers, and company heads, all tied to the tourism sector, plus extensive reports on the Cuban Television National News detail the offers for this summer, present promotional campaigns in hotels and shopping centers and exhort the “Cuban family” to make reservations as soon as possible due to high demand.

The propagandistic marathon gives the sense that the economies within our homes are booming and that this country, replete with multitudes living below the poverty line, only exists in “enemy propaganda.” Continue reading

Professionals of ‘Snitching’ / Cubanet, Camilo Ernesto Olivera

"Combative vigilants." Sign about the CDR (photo from the internet)

“Combative vigilants.” Sign about the CDR (photo from the internet)

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Camilo Ernesto Olivera Peidro, 18 June 2015 – An old man is going out of his house in the little village named Henequen Viejo, near the Port of Mariel. Everyone there knows him as Alfonso. In reality, his name is Idelfonso Estevez. At first glance he seems like an old man like so many others.

However, the village’s inhabitants and his closest family members fear and hate him. Alfonso is not surrounded by the protective affection of his fellow man. The local members of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) take care of him. He is one of their most notorious “snitches.”

His story began years ago. He belonged to a group known as the “Guarapitos”: Alfonso, Jesus, El Viola, Camilo and Titico Borrego. They formed a group of auxiliaries in service to MININT at the beginning of the 1970’s. They dedicated themselves to watching everyone in Henequen Viejo. They gave away those who opposed the regime or anyone who annoyed them. They turned the area into a stronghold of terror. Continue reading

Che Guevara, the Commercial Fetish / 14ymedio, Hector Dario Reyes

The murals with the Argentinean’s face cannot escape the wear and tear of a reality that little resembles what he planned

The murals with the Argentinean’s face cannot escape the wear and tear of a reality that little resembles what he planned (Silvia Corbelle/14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Hector Dario Reyes, Santa Clara, 15 June 2015 – “He was a man surrounded by good photographers,” is how a clever self-employed tour guide describes Ernesto Guevara to his clients in the streets of Santa Clara. The man lives by showing the face of the Argentine and telling of his hyperbolic exploits. This Sunday he has had good profits, taking advantage of the 87th anniversary of the birth of one who long ago stopped being a hero and turned into a fetish.

With the passage of the years, the plundering of the guerrilla’s image and the commercialization of his likeness have been imposed on this island. “Santa Clara, the city of Marta and of Che,” says the motto of the provincial capital, although Guevara was not born here. The Villa Clara capital tries to extract a return from the cheesiest ornaments with his name, and the whole tourist network is fed with some bit of his story.

Canek Sanchez Guevara, recently deceased musician and writer and grandson of the Cuban revolutionary commander, hated the t-shirts and pictures of his grandfather. “There is one that unifies his face with that of Christ that is really degrading,” he told his friends. Continue reading

Beef, Only for the Privileged / Cubanet, Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces

La-Ternera-2-Foto

Cuban butcher shop (photo from the internet)

cubanet square logoCubanet.org, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 12 June 2015 – Among the list of prohibitions imposed on Cubans from 1959 until today is freely fishing, having a boat and wandering around the island or giving our children an education in non-state schools, among others. Until recently it was forbidden to stay in a hotel, sell cars acquired after 1959, sell housing, leave the country without permission from the government, possess foreign currency and buy in stores for tourists and foreign technicians.

Another unusual prohibition that we Cubans have is that the slaughter of large livestock and the consumption of their meat is penalized with harsh jail sentences. For more than 25 years eating a beefsteak has become the dream of the great majority of Cubans. Here, the only ones who can are the leaders, tourists and those with the money to buy it in the currency stores, or those with enough bravery – and also the contacts – to buy it illegally. Not even in the most distinguished restaurant does there appear the longed-for filet. Continue reading

Cane Cutters Complain about Their Working Conditions / 14ymedio, Fernando Donate Ochoa

Cane cutting in Cuba (Conexion Cubana)

Cane cutting in Cuba (Conexion Cubana)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Fernando Donate Ochoa, Holguin, 31 May 2015 – The recently concluded sugar harvest failed to fulfill production forecasts. Analysts have struggled to explain the reasons for the repeated failure and have spoken of incomplete or ineffective repairs and poor organization, but none have mentioned the social factor.

Workers involved in cutting cane in Holguin complained of the abandonment to which they were subjected and multiple violations of their labor rights during the harvest that just ended.

Members of the Basic Economic Unit from the Loynaz Hechavarria center from the Cueto municipality say they worked more than 16 hours a day beginning at five in the morning during the four months of the harvest. Continue reading