Deportees in Their Own Country / Cubanet, Reinaldo Cosano

In Cuba, if you do not have permission to reside in Havana, they deport you to your province of origin (internet photo)

In Cuba, if you do not have permission to reside in Havana, they deport you to your province of origin (internet photo)

Cuban Apartheid, suffered by families who abandoned their homes and went to Havana in search of a new life

cubanet square, Reinaldo Emilio Cosano Alen, Havana, 15 May 2015 – Rodolfo Castro, from Santiago de Cuba, met with three other young men detained at the Guanabo police station east of Havana. Driven to the Central Train Terminal in a patrol car – so that they could not escape – they were put on the train and deported to their provinces, following imposition of a fine of a thousand Cuban pesos – some 50 dollars – each. So says Osmany Matos, of Guanabo, arrested for a traffic offense who witnessed the incident.

The “Palestinians” (as they ironically call those who come from the eastern provinces) Yordanis Reina, Maikel Cabellero and Edilberto Ledesma, from the rural area El Parnaso; and Amaury Sera, from the Manati township, all in the Las Tunas province, explained to Graciela Orues Mena, independent trade unionist: Continue reading

Fidel Castro’s “Hardships” in Prison / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones

Fidel Castro’s mug shot (photo from the internet)

Fidel Castro’s mug shot (photo from the internet)

“We sleep with the lights off, we have no roll calls or formations all day, we get up whenever (…) Plenty of water, electric lights, food, clean clothes and all for free”

cubanet square, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 15 May 2015 – This May 15 marks the 60th anniversary of the release of the Moncadistas. The attack on the Moncada barracks is characterized by many as a terrorist act. Beyond the adjectives, always debatable, those who have been charged with praising the rebellious generation and denigrating the army officers of the time say nothing about the soldiers killed that Carnival dawn. Nineteen officers fell, but their names do not count for the official historians.

What would happen today if a group of Cubans, tired of political discrimination and abuses, were to attack a military unit? Would they receive sanctions as benign as those applied to the Moncadistas? Would they be allowed to meet in jail and be separated from the regular prisoners? Would they be granted amnesty? Continue reading

Making a Living From Trash / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Collection point (14ymedio)

Collection point (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 1 May 2015 – They appear silently, without anyone taking notice, a little after dawn.  They will not hide again until nightfall, when they return home or camp out in some corner of the city to count their profits.  They used to be called “divers,” not without a certain disdain; now, the activity is gaining organization as well as workers.  Without the collectors of raw materials, Havana would be an even dirtier city.

Jesus is one of them.  Dragging a mountain of cardboard pieces on his cart, he goes to a buying house with the merchandise acquired today.  For each kilo they pay one peso and 20 cents, but sometimes he gets other material – pieces of aluminum or bronze – and they pay him more.  “It all depends on knowing how to search,” he says.

At Benjumeda and Retiro Streets in Central Havana is one of the warehouses where the collectors go to patiently wait their turn in line.  Each one carries the merchandise however he can, whether in a street sweeper cart or a trailer hitched to a car, a luxury, this latter one, uncommon in the business.  In Cuba, gathering rubbish is a job like any other, because it barely provides enough for survival. Continue reading

No More Blackouts? / Cubanet, Gladys Linares

The blackouts occur very frequently “at the time of the water,” in those 4 or 5 hours on alternate days that the liquid arrives at our houses

The blackouts occur very frequently “at the time of the water,” in those 4 or 5 hours on alternate days that the liquid arrives at our houses

“If water and electricity have the same owner, why do they turn off my power when I need it most?”

cubanet square, Gladys Linares, Havana, 28 April 2015 – The word “blackout” was eliminated by the Electric Company.  Nevertheless, blackouts continue, managed, disguised, masked with terms like free channel, breakdown, maintenance, pole change, broken cables, etc., causing a thousand and one miseries among the population.

For Andres, a self-employed man who sells pizzas, spaghetti and smoothies in Lawton, the blackouts, he says, have turned into a nightmare.  He says that  recently he cannot sell a smoothie because the fruit pulp was spoiled in a blackout, and as his oven is electric, when the lights go out he cannot make pizzas, either. Continue reading

The Internet: A Space for Diversity and Freedom of Expression / Cubanet, Ernesto Perez Chang

Young people are indifferent to politics.  Cell phones, video games and television series are their priorities (photo by the author)

Young people are indifferent to politics. Cell phones, video games and television series are their priorities (photo by the author)

We have to wonder how much the Cuban government invests in restricting this essential information tool in our time, blocking it and even minimizing the “harmful effects” of its free and generalized use

cubanet square, Ernesto Perez Chang, Havana, 24 April 2015 – Faced with the problem of the limits on access to the internet in Cuba, one would have to wonder not how much the Cuban government invests in expanding the reach of this information tool, essential in our time, but how high the costs will rise in order to restrict it, block it and even to minimize the “harmful effects” of its free and generalized use.

It is known that every state enterprise, institute and agency has an information department charged with not only managing the internet but monitoring the navigation of every user, censoring it and reporting any “suspicious maneuver.”  The specialists do not work of their own will but must carry out to the letter the rigorous instructions provided by the national Information Security team strongly tied to the Ministry of the Interior. Continue reading

Corruption and its Three Enormous Harms / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner

Protest against corruption in Spain (Flickr/CC)

Protest against corruption in Spain: “They don’t govern, they steal!” (Flickr/CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 25 April 2015 – Mexico and corruption are two words that always go hand in glove, or as the Columbians mischievously say, “grab each other’s peepees.”

Corruption in Venezuela is greater, and that of Argentina is not far behind, according to Transparency International, but to judge by what is happening in Chile, Brazil and Cuba, it seems to be a bad Latin American epidemic.  The continent, with few exceptions, is a pigsty.

In any case, the Mexican government wants to end corruption. It was about time. Is that possible? When did it start? They tell you, laughing, as soon as you set foot in the country.

The Spanish conquistadors tortured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec chieftain, to make him reveal where he hid the gold: Continue reading

Cuba Increases Control over Its Doctors / Cubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones

cuban doctorsThe government is trying, among other measures, to curb hiring of its professionals by foreign clinics

cubanet square logoCubanet, Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, Guantanamo, 20 April 2015 — The exodus of Cuban health professional does not stop, and the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) apparently has decided to act to counter a phenomenon that is damaging domestic medical services but much more the country’s income.

A document attributed to the senior management of MINSAP, adopted in a meeting held in mid-March of this year, has been making the rounds in the e-mail of health professionals in which the sector’s new policy is expressed. This event was confirmed to CubaNet by an official from the Provincial Management of Public Health in Guantanamo, whose identity we do not reveal for obvious reasons. Continue reading

They Voted for Everything to Continue the Same / Ana Mercedes Torricella

My neighbor Nelly, when she learned that I did not go vote and I again clarified that I did not want to leave Cuba, told me: “You independent journalists and dissidents are going to be alone with the hard-liners and the snitches! Come on, you have to leave, there is nothing else!”

cubanet square, Ana Mercedes Torricella, Havana, 22 April 2015 – On Sunday, April 19, those who voted in the municipal delegates election of the Popular Power did it under compulsion, as is customary. They voted, like it or not, for business as usual and for “the same people.” In other words, “these people,” as many Cubans say in reference to the regime.

For the majority, the voting does not matter. Their most expensive and cherished interests are food and the money to acquire it.

I have some neighbors who live a misery of fear. The youngest, who was very beautiful, managed to marry an Italian, and she move to Genoa. Some years ago, when she came to visit Cuba, she bought gifts and brought them Euros. But that family did not use that money to buy furniture or to fix the dilapidated dwelling: they used it to buy stereo equipment. Currently, they alleviate their hunger with blaring music, which they listen to while they drink rum or some other cheap liquor. Continue reading

138 Votes for Chaviano / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Vote count in polling station number 2 of Hildebrand Chaviano’s district (14ymedio)

Vote count in polling station number 2 of Hildebrand Chaviano’s district (14ymedio)

In the polling place on the ground floor of the FOCSA building, the vote count placed the opposition candidate only 18 votes behind the candidate who won the nomination

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 20 April 2015 – At polling station number 2, located on the ground floor of FOCSA, the vote count ended near seven in the evening, and Hildebrando Chaviano, the opposition candidate, came in last place. So far, no news. But things change if the data are analyzed. Of the 448 valid ballots, Hidlebrando Chaviano received 105, only 18 fewer than the candidate finally nominated. A complete triumph for someone described by the official biography as “counterrevolutionary.” Also, 14 blank ballots and 25 cancelled ones were counted at this polling station.

“The population is not prepared, there is much ignorance and confusion created against us but even so, much has been achieved because never before has it come to a candidacy,” the lawyer explained to the EFE agency; he is a resident of the Havana neighborhood El Vedado where he ran and was elected by the residents of his zone. Continue reading

Press Freedom in Cuba Is the Most Threatened in the Americas / 14ymedio

At the beginning of March, official journalist Leandro Perez was detained in Cuba while he was photographing an arrest (Indomar Gomez/14ymedio)

At the beginning of March, official journalist Leandro Perez was detained in Cuba while he was photographing an arrest (Indomar Gomez/14ymedio)

The Island is among the top ten countries of the world with the greatest censorship

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 April 2015 – The control that the Cuban government exercises over the media was one of the strictest in the world in 2014 and the most rigid in the Americas, according to the report published Tuesday by the Committee For the Protection of Journalists (CPJ). The nonprofit organization with headquarters in New York, which works to protect the world’s press freedom, puts Havana in 10th place on the list of States with the highest levels of censorship but notes “significant progress” in recent years.

The CPJ’s report stresses that “print and broadcast media are totally controlled by the single party and have to be ‘in line with the objectives of the socialist society.’ Although the Internet offers some space for critics, the service providers block the undesired content,” as is the case with 14ymedio. Continue reading

The “Opening” by “Granma” / Diario de Cuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes

In a passage about today’s elections, the Communist Party newspaper “Granma” says that “every citizen has the right to a single vote […] regardless of [his] political position.”

DiariodeCuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes*, Havana, 19 April 2015 — The daily Granma, in its Wednesday, April 15 edition, brings a timid message of opening hidden in an article about the Cuban electoral system.  The mention that “in the process of electing delegates to the Municipal Assemblies the vote is characterized as being:  free, equal, secret, direct, nominal and preferential (Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez)” may not call the attention of many readers.

However, the mentioned authors make a contribution to the Constitution of the Republic itself when they explain that “every citizen has the right to a single vote and of equal value, without regard to race, religious belief, skin color, political position.”

The passage, although incomplete in my opinion, obviously is supported and inspired by Article 42 of the Cuban Constitution which says:  “Discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious belief, and any other offense against human dignity is proscribed and prohibited by law.” Continue reading

The Forbidden Fruit for Cubans / Cubanet, Isis Marquez


On the Calipso farm they cannot give interviews to uncertified journalists. Nor are photos permitted. (Photos Isis Marquez)

Any farmer caught selling to the general population the strawberries that he cultivates will be fined 1000 CUP* (national currency) and have his land confiscated

cubanet square, Isis Marquez, Havana, 17 April 2015 – The strawberry is the forbidden fruit for Cubans. Its limited national production is for tourists and for the olive green hierarchy. The State limits the production because it sells for 2.4 euros per kilogram on the international market. Some say that it was introduced onto the island in 1965. Fifty years have passed and still the Cuban people cannot consume this exquisite strawberry. Maybe the Cuban government pretends that its people do not eat these fruits, which are anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen?

Benefits of the strawberry

The strawberry is a short cycle fruit rich in vitamin C. Its compounds have a high anti-oxidant power, as well as increased anti-cancer activity, and it prevents aging of the brain.

In February Cubanet had the opportunity to speak with vendors Kolia Morejon and Jorge Aspen, who said: “We are here because our client left us loaded. We have to sell the product to passersby before they go bad. We sell the small tin for 1 CUC*, the big one for 3 CUC. Continue reading