Camajuani in Suspense over Corruption / Juan Juan Almeida

1443142995_camajuanensesJuan Juan Almeida, 24 September 2015 — Cuba is trying to silence a national “explosion” of great intensity, which implicates officers of the Interior Ministry (MININT), the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR), the Cultural Goods Fund (a Cultural center promoting and selling art and handicrafts), the National Bank of Cuba, foreign businessmen and artisanal shoemakers in the Camajuaní municipality of Villa Clara.

According to sources inside the National Prosecutor’s office, one of those implicated was surprised overseas by the news, and in order to evade justice, prefers not to return.

Fraud, falsification, bribery, extortion, contraband, abuse of authority, illicit enrichment, tariff violation, tax evasion of the National Tax Administration and influence peddling are among the presumed crimes for more than 50 people in different training centers. Continue reading

El Sexto is Free! / Somos+

José Manuel Presol, 21 October 2015 — Yesterday we were thrilled to hear the news. Several media outlets have been in touch with the Cuban citizen, Danilo Maldonado Machado, and he himself confirmed it: He’s free and there are no charges!

Right now Danilo isn’t just any Cuban citizen. He’s known artistically as “El Sexto” (The Sixth), and he just spent 10 months as a prisoner. Ten months for having tried, only tried, to stage a public performance of his art, which someone considered offensive, and for which they detained and imprisoned him without charges. Ten months in a punishment cell, false promises of release and confronting injustice with the only weapon he had: a hunger strike. Continue reading

Holguin: Cholera and Dengue Fever Patients Kept Out of Sight of Pope / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 31 August 2015 — For the Cuban Government, the level of job insecurity, the index of diseases (above all those provoked by the deterioration in the control of hygiene, epidemiology and health) is politically sensitive information that must be hidden or, at the very least, disguised.

For that reason, and because of the epidemiological situation that exists today on the island, all the institutions and organisms of the central administration of the State, the Party and the Government worked tirelessly to ensure that the visit of the Supreme Pontiff would be a success, and this included camouflaging that which couldn’t be exposed. Continue reading

Something Has to be Done / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 16 October 2015 — Some governments declare that they are fighting and defeating the fundamentalists of the so-called Islamic State, but the facts seem to negate their words: The fundamentalists are expanding their territory, expelling the inhabitants, committing horrendous crimes, destroying architectural, religious and artistic jewels, which form part of humanity’s heritage, raping and enslaving women, girls and boys, and committing many more atrocities in an interminable orgy of blood and terror, in the supposed name of religion. Continue reading

A New Treaty Between Cuba and the U.S. for the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 3 August 2015 — In redundant speeches, more rhetorical than combative, the Cuban Government has requested — among other things — the return of the territory where the Guantánamo Naval Base is located.

But given present circumstances, since Washington and Havana have decided to stop being best enemies to become respectful neighbors, it’s worth asking if the U.S., by delivering that territory, would lose control of the zone and its regional influence.

History tells us the Naval Base was established in 1898, when the military occupation of the U.S. on the Island took place, after defeating Spain in what many of us know as the Hispano-Cuban-American War. Continue reading

San Antonio de los Banos in Uncertainty / Alexander Perez Rodriguez, Somos+

SOMOS+, Alexander Perez Rodriguez, 24 September 2015 — With the new relations between the U.S. and Cuba the hopes of many went skyrocketing in an alarming manner, principally in the Diaspora, where people dream of returning to their country and prospering there in a dignified way. I already imagined my city as totally changed, with new streets, shops full of everything a human being needs and no ration book to restrict them.

Well, finally the moment arrived to go and visit my family on the island. I remember that on this occasion I exited the airport earlier than usual. I only had to enter Calzada de Boyeros to have all my illusions fall away. Everything, absolutely everything, remained the same or worse than when I was there a year ago. Continue reading

What Cuban Doctors are Thinking / Somos+, Kaned Garrido

Somos+, Kaned Garrido, 21 September 2015 — Cuban doctors have sustained everybody’s health for decades. The reason Cuban medicine has such prestige is because of the incredible effort of its professionals. The same as Cuban teachers, doctors earn very little. They spend years and years at their careers, and later in service to the country.

That’s the reason we have quality education and healthcare in Cuba. Not by some magical social politics nor because we want to take money away from the rich, like Robin Hood. It’s because of dedicated professionals and the rest of the Cuban workers who finance the expenses, all with pathetic salaries.

But it’s not easy work to sustain such a good health service in a country with such an unproductive economy. This burden ends up falling on the shoulders of Cuban doctors. Some choose the path of the missions in the Exterior to earn a little more. Others prefer to leave the island. So we need to know what they think.

These are the opinions of doctors who presently work in Cuba.

Doctor R. M. earns 1100 pesos (44 CUC, or about US$50) a month. Her specialty is general medicine. She describes her work conditions like this:  Continue reading

Million-dollar Robbery at the Cienfuegos Refinery / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 August 2015 — More than 500 barrels of fuel disappear daily from the terminals or storage tanks of the Camilo Cienfuegos refinery, located in the province of Cienfuegos on the south-central part of the island.

The theft, in addition to being really ingenious, has an organization that shows even seasonal patterns, revealing that there are fewer robberies in summer than in winter.

The Cienfuegos industrial enclave, after being shut down in 1995 and later materializing in the ALBA accords, with a remodeling and modernization project that cost over $83 million, reopened its doors in October 2007, as part of a large, mixed binational business between Cuba and Venezuela. However, with a processing capacity of over 8,000 barrels a day, the thefts are crippling and, let’s say it, frightening. Continue reading

The Campaign to Have a Plebiscite for Freedom in Cuba Begins

Maurice Ferré: The solution for Cuba and Puerto Rico: plebiscites.

From El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2015 / Reprinted from Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo’s blog

Although both were the booty of war, the results for Cuba and Puerto Rico were different in the Treaty of Paris (1898) at the end of the Spanish-American War.

The Republic of Cuba was established in 1903. As a republic, Cuba prospered for 37 years. With the Constitution of 1940, eliminating the despicable Platt Amendment, Cuba advanced. But by 1959 Cuba was already a corrupt country. After 55 years of Castro-communism, Cuba went from being one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America to place itself, currently, among the poorest. Continue reading

Alarming And Strange Increase In Illness Among Cuban Colleagues In Venezuela / Juan Juan Almeida

“Outbreaks of illness increase and official silence persists.” (YA!@Ya_Venezuela)

Juan Juan Almeida, 11 August 2015 — The suspicious increase in certain inopportune illnesses is now the most sensitive factor for the normal development of the Cuban medical mission in Venezuela.

During the present year, and especially in these last weeks, an alarming and strange increase has been reported in the number of Cubans who get sick while fulfilling their “internationalist” service.

Undisclosed official data reveal that up to week 28 of 2015, there have been 514 cases of Cubans affected by respiratory infections, mainly caused by outbreaks of H3N2 influenza, Rinovirus, Parainfluenza and Metapneumovirus. The states with the highest rate of those affected are the Distrito Capital, Barinas, Monagas, Falcón, Sucre, Nueva Esparta, Mérida, Trujillo, Vargas, Carabobo, Bolívar, Yaracuy, Amazonas, Cojedes and Lara. Continue reading

Cuba’s Illegal Manipulation / Regina Anavy

Cuban Institute of Radio and Television

Juan Juan Almeida, 13 August 2015 — The Cuban media today will even use illegal techniques (indoctrination through subliminal means) in order to manipulate the population and oblige it to associate Fidel’s birthday with the opening of the U.S. Embassy.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Twenty-One Years After the Maleconazo* / Somos+, Elizabeth Cruz

The Maleconazo. Photo: Karl Poort, 5 August 1994

Somos+, Elizabeth Cruz, 5 August 2015 — We Cubans are chatty, talkative and protagonists of everything whether it’s for good or for bad. Recently arrived in Miami, I heard someone say that we’re like crabs in a pail: when one tries to escape, another one pulls it back to the bottom without needing a lid. The analogy seemed so ingenious to me that, for a long time, it was enough to confuse me about our essence.

In reality, the vast majority of Cubans are noble, brave and full of solidarity, and there are innumerable examples of this. Why delve into despair? Who benefits from our division and mistrust?

Today it’s been more than two decades since the Maleconazo took place. I don’t know if you remember, but in my memory I’m in my apartment facing the Malecón and there is a party feeling. Down the streets comes a lot of excited activity, which at first we confuse with some official act, one of the many that go by unnoticed, even for those who participate. Continue reading

Angel Santiesteban: Most of our people pretend

Disoriented in time like all ex-prisoners, Ángel Santiesteban brings with him a thousand prison demons.

Interview with Ángel Santiesteban after his conditional release – Cuba 2015.

Havana, Cuba, Augusto César San Martín —  The writer Ángel Santiesteban Prats suffers with every word he writes. “I classify my work as social,” he declares in an interview given to Cubanet. “It’s always about the environment that surrounds the Cuban,” he adds.

And “suffering” is the best word to describe a people numb with fear, according to the writer who won the Short Story Prize from the National Union of Artists and Writers in Cuba (UNEAC).

“Most of our people pretend; they hope that this will pass and that they don’t encounter that wall. They don’t brave any consequences they might receive for confronting the dictatorship,” he expressed. Continue reading

Virtual Changes / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 20 July 2015 — The subject of cooperatives in Cuba offers much to talk about. In the first place, it would be interesting to know who had the absurd idea of dividing them into two types: agricultural and non-agricultural.

Owing to this linguistic aberration, a cooperative that is engaged in the repair, scrubbing and lubrication of vehicles is designated non-agricultural, the same as one that makes plastic articles using recycled raw material. The qualifier of “non-agricultural” should precede these peoples’ names as a divine punishment.

But furthermore, the self-employed grouped in these cooperatives, the same as the farmers who make up the agricultural ones, are not independent, but rather find themselves under the control of bureaucratic governmental organizations and institutions, the same that during countless years have been incapable of resolving the problems of production and services, such as the ministries of Agriculture, Transport, Construction, Interior Commerce and others, which now are responsible for the creation, regulation, functioning and auditing of the cooperatives. These inefficient ministries refuse to downsize or to disappear, inventing new mechanisms in order to subsist, now at the cost of the farmers and the self-employed.

Or is it that, in reality, the proclaimed changes are nothing more than simple governmental adjustments, in order to continue exercising power over every facet of society, maintaining an iron control, now without having to answer directly for production and services, tasks that they have transferred to the shoulders of the farmers and the self-employed.

So, the lands that are turned over to the peasants “in usufruct” and the premises that are leased to the self-employed continue to belong to these ministries, which, unsuccessful at performing their principal jobs, now also have the jobs of real estate agents.

From all these economic spawns, as logic dictates, you can’t expect much.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Cuban Doctors are Sent to Brazil Without a Stopover in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 25 May 2015 — To ease the growing popular discontent, soften Petrobras’ recent and resounding scandal and regain credibility, President Dilma Rousseff, taking into account that “improving health” was the principal demand during the June 2013 demonstrations, wants to repeat history. She has asked the Cuban authorities to increase the number of physicians in order to help strengthen the “More Doctors” program and calm the majority who, as always, are the most needy.

According to official figures, up to April 2015, the health project “More Doctors” counted 18,247 professionals in more than 4,000 municipalities. And I celebrate this: healthcare should be the right of everyone without exclusion; it’s a pity that commercialization puts at risk the lives of those who can’t pay for lack of resources. It’s difficult not to consider the Brazilian request, which, although clearly without half-measures, conveys a clear Party intent, requiring the Cuban Government to send only experienced doctors. But the Cuban rulers, using and abusing an effective disloyalty, without consulting the Bolivians, respond without delay to the chords of this samba, even affecting the long-term commitments they have with the Venezuelan health programs. Continue reading