San Antonio de los Banos Runs Out of Water

“They’re only prioritizing the delivery of water in water trucks, for families who have ill, bedridden members.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 22, 2020 — Entire neighborhoods in San Antonio de los Baños, in Artemisa, have been without running water for more than a week. The frequency of delivery has been deteriorating for several months, and the only response those affected receive is that “the water table is dry”.

“The water system in our zone has presented problems for several months. We began having service one day on and one day off, then every 72 hours, but in these last 10 days, we don’t have service at all,” explains Pilar, one of the neighbors.

San Antonio de los Baños is the most important municipality in Artemisa, because it’s where the Ariguanabo River flows for 14 kilometers. Traditionally, water delivery in the zone has been supplied from the river basin, especially from springs and wells next to the river, but the drought, industrial residue and overexploitation have severely damaged its flow. continue reading

“Water delivery, in water trucks, is prioritized for families that have ill, bedridden members, says another neighbor, who notes that the most affected zones are Nodarse and Palenque. Families have to carry water in tanks and buckets long distances in order to perform domestic chores and maintain the hygiene measures recommended to prevent contagion by the coronavirus.

“This town is known for its river and its waters, but now we should change the name, because nothing remains of the “baños” [baths], and the river is almost dead, and there is no water in the houses,” explains an employee of the Las Yagrumas Hotel. “We have a bedridden old woman in my family, and in all these days we’ve only received 20 liters of water to be able to wash her.”

For farmers in the zone, the lack of water is also a problem, although several of them interviewed by this newspaper benefit from private wells. “I use a well in the courtyard for the whole field and the crops, but in the house, water normally comes to us from the street, and in 12 days we haven’t even seen one drop,” says Raudel Ramos, a farmer who lives on the periphery of San Antonio.

“The whole aqueduct network is very damaged and deteriorated,” adds Ramos. “For years here we’ve had problems with water that arrives dirty, contaminated, and even with a bad smell, because the plant hasn’t been maintained for a long time.”

The network of the San Antonio de los Baños aqueduct began construction in 1894 and initially took water from a spring of the Catalina in the Quintica together with the Ariguanabo River. “The whole structure is very old, and now we’re paying the price.”

In light of the complaints of the residents, the local radio station, Radio Ariguanabo, last week interviewed the provincial director of Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Artemisa [Water and Sewerage of Artemisa], Miguel Jiménez Álvarez, who explained that the prolonged drought of the last years has dried up the water table and service will continue to be unstable for several months, also owing to repairs in the infrastructure.

The situation, faced by the almost 49,000 inhabitants of the municipality and their constant complaints brought about on June 12 the emergency meeting of a Temporary Work Group, created by the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources for hydraulic regularization of the Ariguanabo River Basin, but the service has not improved nor have there been new explanations.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

American Baptists Organize a Shipment to Cuba with Food and Hygiene Products

At the beginning of the year, a pound of rice could be bought in the free market for 5 Cuban pesos (CUP) and now has reached 50 CUP in the informal networks.(EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 15, 2020 — A family of evangelical parishioners from Waco, Texas, is organizing a shipment of food and hygiene products at the request of the Baptist Church in Cuba. According to Ken Camp, the publisher of a religious newspaper, Baptist Standard, L.M. Dyson, along with his son Peter, and Christian associations from other states, is coordinating a shipment to the Island of a 40-foot container (more than 12 meters, the largest in maritime transport), with beans, rice, dry soup, oil, diapers and non-prescription medicine.

The organizers of the initiative are hoping to send, says Camp, up to 18 containers with a total value estimated at a half-million dollars for the Baptist churches in Cuba to share with those who need it most. He is scheduling the first of these shipments to arrive at the port of Mariel on July 7.

The publication notes that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 265 million people in the world will suffer severe hunger by the end of this year, and that three-quarters of the food consumed by the 11.4 million inhabitants on the Island is imported. continue reading

The arrival of the pandemic in Cuba has aggravated the food-shortage situation, especially the supply of grains, oil and rice. On the informal market, this last product has multiplied in value by ten, and if, at the beginning of this year a pound of rice could be bought in the free market for 5 Cuban pesos, now it costs 50 in the informal networks.

Recently, the city government of Miami and the Foundation for Panamerican Democracy called on citizens to donate “staples” to help the Cuban people confront the COVID-19 crisis through the “Solidarity among Brothers” initiative.

The donations were collected in the Convention Center in the Winwood neighborhood, and it was announced that the shipment would be sent to Cuba and later distributed through a network of Catholic churches.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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 “Vigorously Protest” the Contract for Cuban Health Workers

According to official data from Cuba, the export of professional services, almost all in the health sector, occupies first place in the Island’s balance of payments.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 14, 2020 — A dozen Mexican medical associations have signed a letter to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stating their “profound disapproval and vigorous protest” about the arrival of Cuban doctors contracted to tackle COVID-19. It’s “serious misconduct toward health professionals,” they say.

The missive, to which 14ymedio had access, recognizes that in the framework of the pandemic, Mexico is legally permitted to contract professional health personnel trained in foreign countries exclusively for the duration of the health emergency. After authorization, the Mexican Government contracted with Cuba for 585 doctors and nurses, for a sum of 6.2 million dollars.

“The group of foreign doctors is composed mainly of general practitioners without a specialty, and they are placed in different hospitals or used only for consultations, infringing on the ability of the assigned hospitals to function,” warns the letter. In Mexico, all general practitioners and specialists have “documents and appropriate certifications,” a regulation that the signatories point out will be violated by permitting “medical staff without this certification to practice” inside the country. continue reading

“The colleges, associations and federations of specialists who have signed below, like other doctors in the country, hereby express our profound disapproval and vigorously protest against what we consider to be serious misconduct toward health professionals in Mexico,” they stress.

The doctors point out that “in this country there are doctors whose performance is endorsed by the universities of the Mexican Republic, trained fully in the needs and nature of the population.” Now they feel relegated, because the Government has “favored foreign doctors, disregarding the academic excellence of our universities”.

“It’s an injustice to prefer foreigners over Mexican doctors, who meet all the requirements established by the Law of Professions and the General Law of Health,” adds the text.

The doctors go one step further and say “It’s also a reason for indignation that they commit limited monetary resources and deliver fees to foreign personnel unfairly, paying them a salary higher than the one received by Mexican specialists in health-sector institutions.”

Recently, Diario de Cuba revealed that, on average, Mexican authorities and the Institute of Health for Wellbeing (Insabi) have paid Havana 10,693 dollars for each Cuban health worker that was contracted to deal with the virus.

The Mexican doctors say they require economic help “urgently, in order to fight the pandemic, such as quality personal protection equipment.”

The medical profession says that the agreement between its Government and Havana  “is to the detriment of professionals” as these foreign doctors don’t have the necessary competence, don’t have properly specified duties, don’t possess the requirements established by current law, and aren’t endorsed by professional schools.

The text concludes by saying that the intervention of Cuban health workers “provides no benefit to our population and is seriously unfair to the doctors of our country.”

“These are difficult times and we must join forces. We’re sure that Mexicans, supported by their doctors, nurses, and all health workers, will go forward and come out stronger as a nation,” concludes the letter.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, brigades of Cuban doctors and nurses have left the Island for more than 20 countries, adding up to some 2,000 health workers. According to figures from April 30, provided by the Foreign Relations Ministry of Cuba, dozens of them have been sent to Caribbean countries like Dominica, Barbados, Granada, Surinam, or Belize.

According to Cuba’s official data, exportation of professional services, almost all in the health sector, occupies first place in the balance of payments of the Island, coming before remittances from exiles and tourism. In the epoch of bonanza in Venezuela, income was more than 10 billion dollars. However, the last data available indicate that, in 2018, remunerations were depleted and were set at 6.5 billion dollars.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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The Cuban Private Sector Remains Unemployed and Stranded by the Pandemic

The Government only offers State jobs or other solutions that are unacceptable for private workers. (Trabajadores)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Acosta, Havana, May 6, 2020 — Edelmiro Marrero is 62 and has worked as a gardener since he was 24 years old. “I have 12 steady clients and two or three possible ones, and I work a few days a week. Normally I begin at 6:00 in the morning and work five or six hours. That way I can earn enough to eat every day and live without a lot of hardship,” he says.

His wife and grandson also live from the income that this private employment has provided, until he had to cease his activity in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, he hasn’t found the solutions he was hoping for.

“I’m a person with high risk, and I’m afraid that someone contaminated might have spit on the lawn and that I’ll catch the illness. In addition, I have problems with high blood pressure, and the medicines I should take are almost never available.” Now Marrero spends time maintaining his tools, but that doesn’t help much. “I’ve had to stop, and in spite of paying my taxes and social security, I don’t have the right to any kind of compensation.” continue reading

Marrero explains that he cannot work “with this rag on my face,” since he can’t breathe well, sweat runs down his face and sometimes his glasses fog up. The activity of gardeners, taking care of flower beds and small house gardens, requires manual labor and crouching down, on your knees or sitting, so it’s exhausting and uncomfortable.

Around a month ago, he saw on television that self-employed workers could contact the Ministry of Finances and Prices Department of Attention to the Population to clarify their concerns about the benefits they might qualify for given the situation created by the coronavirus.

“They told me that according to the law I didn’t have a right to any compensation. It seems that all they do is take money away,” he explains, clearly bothered. The Government expected private businessmen to suspend their licenses without complex procedures and to be able to incorporate themselves into the State sector. In addition, it activated social assistance from Social Security for the people contracted by private businessmen or older and vulnerable persons. But no one has offered any of these alternatives to Marrero, and many who have called about this option say that the red tape is cumbersome.

The gardener complains that it doesn’t mean much now that he’s paid more than 15,000 pesos in taxes for his business in the last 10 years, nor that he has donated more than 20,000 pesos to Social Security. Self-employed workers have the right to several loans, like a pension for retirement, accident or illness, and maternity coverage, but they lack aid for termination of their businesses.

Something similar happened to Ibette Tabares, the proprietor of a paladar [home restaurant] since 2010, and the only thing she achieved in the Ministry of Finance and Prices was the understanding of the official who answered the telephone. The employee told her that she understood the problem and a claim was very fair, but she couldn’t do anything because there was nothing in the law about aid for people in her situation. After this, she told her to contact the national and provincial offices of the National Office of Tax Administration (ONAT).

“I called the provincial ONAT office and whoever answered the phone didn’t want to identify himself. When I asked he told me he was an official. After formulating the question in different ways, the response was blunt: ’This is what the law establishes, and up to now no solution has been issued with respect to the topic you raise.’ The worst was that he told me that, in addition to not having the right to any compensation, I must continue making payments to Social Security. You can’t win with them,” she reported.

According to Gerardo Moné, a lawyer with more than 30 years experience, “the courts don’t have jurisdiction over these matters since they don’t go to trial.” However, “I can say that Law No. 105 and Decree No. 326 establish the form of payment in these circumstances for State workers.”

And Moné concludes, “I’ve spent 30 years in this business and I don’t know any lawyer who has mastered the laws of self-employment.”

In Cuba, 595,600 people work for themselves, according to official data, of which 275,900, 47%, have jobs that are the most economically affected by the pandemic: restaurants and cafés, transport of cargo and passengers, housing rentals, including the workers contracted by the owners of these businesses.

In the middle of April, the Minister of Employment estimated that 52,000 workers in private transportation suspended their activity at the request of the Government and explained that they could also apply for aid, an option that 139,000 people chose. At that time, he calculated an impact of some 99 million pesos, including the monthly tax quotas and the 10% of services or sales that are not being captured now.

Since then, the private sector has requested access to a rescue package that includes preferential credits. In addition, it has asked for authorization to import and export without having to go through the State. But this hasn’t been successful, now that the Government only offers incorporation for State businesses or other solutions that are unacceptable to the private sector.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The OCDH Celebrates the Release of 6,579 Prisoners in Cuba

Prisoners fear the spread of coronavirus in the jails, where problems of maintaining hygiene are frequent. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, May 1, 2020 — The Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos [Cuban Observatory of Human Rights] (OCDH) welcomes the release of 6,579 prisoners announced by the Government this Thursday. “It’s a positive measure in the framework of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the organization, which is based in Madrid.

The President of the Criminal Division of the Cuban Supreme Court, Otto Molina, specified that in March and April, 421 people who complied with pre-trial detention were now freed and awaiting trial at home with the “corresponding restrictions”, while the other 6,158 were granted early release.

In the case of these last, “the Court assessed that with the time served (of the sentence), it’s not necessary to complete the sentence in confinement,” and decided to grant the prisoners conditional freedom and official discharge, Molina explained on State television. continue reading

For the OCDH, the release moves “in the direction of the actions of different governments in the region and agrees, partially, with the concerns, demands and proposals presented publicly” by this organization on March 18, 19 and 30.

“It’s important that the Cuban Government continue advancing and immediately free all political prisoners. Presently, more than a hundred political prisoners remain in the country’s jails,” added the Observatory.

“Also, we consider it counterproductive that 335 people were imprisoned in the last few days for violating the conditions of social isolation when the Penal Code itself anticipated other types of sanctions that are less severe,” it concludes.

Since the start of the epidemic on the Island at the beginning of March, the Cuban judicial system began to impose strict sanctions for crimes like “the propagation of epidemics” — including circulating without the obligatory mask — and “attack” against health workers, inspectors and agents of order.

They also have increased persecution and punishment for those who practice “illicit economic activities”, “speculation” and “hoarding”, crimes especially sensitive for a country that suffers from chronic shortages, compounded now by the pandemic.

The President of the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court said that they have held 418 trials on the Island for “crimes associated with COVID-19”, and 596 people have been tried with 503 sanctioned. Of the people convicted, 335 received prison sentences because their conduct “attacks the greater good of health, puts the collective security at risk and demands a strong response,” he emphasized.

Several trials have been televised to “set an example”, and the police have permitted State media to accompany agents on raids to capture criminals, who are identified and questioned on camera.

“The procedures are handled with speed, guaranteeing due process and personal rights, but quickly, so the response is prompt, timely,” Molina notes.

Up to now, the Cuban authorities have assured that there are no outbreaks nor cases of Covid-19 in the prisons on the Island, where prevention has been maximized to prevent contagion, and periods of isolation have been established for new inmates.

In spite of the official recommendation to remain at home, several independent journalists and Cuban activists have been summoned recently to present themselves for “interviews” at police stations.

Fines have been imposed on some for presumably having violated Decree Law 370 by publishing on social networks; among other things the decree regulates the use of information technology and communication in the country, but not the exercise of journalism per se.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Online ‘Lines’ in Cuba in the Time of Coronavirus

The Cuban authorities have opened a network of virtual stores as a way to avoid the crowds standing in line to acquire basic necessities.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 20, 2020 — Dianelys filled her virtual shopping cart with some sausage, cooking oil, cookies and bath soap. Once she concluded the purchase, she waited a week for the email notifying her to pick up her order at the shop, but, instead, she got a message saying her money would be refunded to her card because the products were sold out.

Cimex, one of the business arms of the Cuban military, announced recently the expansion to several provinces of services of the digital platform TuEnvío, which combines several markets for online shopping, as a way of avoiding crowds so customers can buy basic necessities without having to leave their homes in these times of COVID-19.

The news was tarnished when, days later, very few internauts could access the shopping site. Most of them couldn’t even register; others had problems viewing the products or paying at the end of the process. The constant failures of the platform generated a chorus of demands, complaints and frustrations that spread across social networks and official media. continue reading

“They didn’t calculate demand well, which was a mistake, because in this desperate situation of buying food, you could predict this would happen,” Samuel, a 28-year-old computer programmer who has developed several applications for Android, told 14ymedio. “There are many good examples of online shops in the world, so they can’t justify themselves by saying that it was something being done for the first time.”

But Samuel warns that the problems with the platform transcend questions of bandwidth or server capacity. “The information about each product is poor, and the photos shown aren’t good quality. Choosing the amounts, which are rationed, is not easy, and the tool will have to be simplified to reach a larger public.”

In order to calm people, the authorities explained on national media that, owing to a “high demand for service, the page has become unstable” and has required “uninterrupted maintenance” in order to manage the traffic of internauts who accessed the main page more from necessity than curiosity.

A short time ago the online shops were functioning so people could buy food for their families and some products from the State stores. But since the end of March, and after the first cases of Covid-19 on the Island, these stores — where you could buy meat, beans, rice and cleaning products — were not offering service or had only a few products to sell.

Nor were the hard currency shops, which opened at the end of last year for the sale of appliances and car parts, offering service, because the commercial network on the Island was meant exclusively for basic products, like food and cleaning supplies.

Last Friday, Cimex opened a forum to answer criticisms. The digital meeting became an ordeal for employees of the conglomerate, who had to endure an avalanche of complaints. In the majority of cases, they were limited to recommending to consumers that they send an email to customer service.

The web site was down for a long time this weekend. “Dear clients, we will momentarily halt the flow of orders in order to readjust the logistical processing. We will return shortly. The orders that are in progress won’t be affected,” the page said.

The authorities also have limited purchases to two units of each product, to avoid hoarding, but the digital shops generate another type of segregation. For now you can only pay with a card associated with an account in Cuban pesos on the EnZona platform, created by the Enterprise of Information Technology for Defense (Xetid).

In January of this year, EnZona had accumulated a volume of sales worth 9,000,000 pesos, with a little more than 23,000 registered users. “Those who can buy now are the happy ones,” laments Lisset Echevarría, who uses the Metropolitan Bank of Havana and has spent weeks trying to get a card.

This newspaper called a dozen bank branches in the capital on Monday, and at least a fourth of them weren’t processing requests for a card. Two recommended avoiding in-person transactions that “aren’t vital” and the rest said to “call again on Tuesday or Wednesday,” to get a precise date when the process would begin.

Zurelys, 38, insisted this Monday on shopping in the Carlos III commercial center, which is among those offered by TuEnvîo. “The connection to this site isn’t secure,” and you shouldn’t “enter confidential information,” the browser warned her as soon as she tried to access the site. She was undeterred and continued, but after three hours, she gave up.

“I could never get to the point of paying because the browser constantly gave me an error message. When I added something to my cart it emptied by itself, or when I tried to select a product, it wouldn’t let me,” Zurelys complains. “They told me it’s better to do it at dawn when there is less traffic, so I should set my alarm for two in the morning.”

But waiting doesn’t end once you’ve filled your cart with purchases and made a digital payment. Shipping can take up to seven days to fall into the hands of the client, and in last Friday’s forum, one of the most repeated complaints was about the delay in deliveries. The most cautious prefer to opt for picking up the goods in the store, but this becomes difficult with the cancellation of public transport.

“This is like the lines we’ve had all our lives, but now, instead of sleeping on the sidewalk outside the shop, you have to stay for hours or days in front of your screen,” says Zurelys. “On top of that, at least in a line you know who you’re behind and how things are going, but here, every time I get an ’error’ message, I have to go back to the beginning. This is a line without end.”

Translated by Regina Anavy 

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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.

When The Intellectuals Supported “The Terror Of Castrismo.” Seventeen Years After The “Message From Havana.”

Some of the intellectuals who signed the “Message from Havana for friends who are far away,” 2003.

Yolanda Huerga (Radio Televisión Martí), April, 19, 2020 — It’s been 17 years since that April 19 when a group of Cuban artists and writers signed a letter supporting the imprisonment of 75 dissidents, the execution of three young men and life sentences for the other four, after they hijacked a boat with the intention of going to the United States.

The letter disclosed how “Message from Havana for friends who are far away” responded to the other document signed by dozens of intellectuals around the world, including traditional friends of the Revolution, in which they condemned the repression for crimes of opinion in Cuba and challenged the legality of “revolutionary justice.”

Radio Television Martí interviewed people about the gloomy atmosphere during those days of the Black Spring and the execution of the three boys who had been in prison only 10 days.

“The year 2003 was a definitive year, not only for policy but also for Cuban culture and society. It was the year of that shameful repressive act known as the Black Spring, which would initiate the most important social resistance movements of the opposition and the Ladies in White, and it was the year when three young men, who tried to flee Cuba in a boat, were deceived by being promised a fair trial and, finally, in an absolutely illegal and inhuman procedure, were executed,” noted Amir Valle, from Berlin, Germany. continue reading

Already in 1961, Fidel Castro had summed up his cultural policy in one sentence: “Inside the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.” There were no alternatives. Creative people had to bend to that mandate because their survival depended on it.

“Everybody I knew, from all strata of Cuban culture, everybody, thought that this was an aberration. They talked about it in small groups but never raised their voices, and many accepted this afront—the letter—in which personalities like Alicia Alonso, Silvio Rodríguez, Miguel Barnet, among others, not only defended the executions but also had the indecency to try to get thinkers from other countries to add themselves to this shameful support,” said Valle, the author of Los Denudos de Dios [The Naked of God].

The initial letter, signed by 27 noted figures of national culture and published in the official newspaper Granma, was followed by a call to all the members of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), the Hermanos Saiz Association, cultural institutions and universities throughout the country to follow the decision taken by Fidel Castro.

In the following weeks, Granma regularly published a list of those who added their signatures throughout the country.

In this respect, the writer and activist, Ángel Santiesteban said from the Cuban capital: “When the convocation opened, as my apartment was very close to the headquarters of UNEAC, many people came by my house to say hello, and I can say that even the most ardent defenders of the Regime confessed to me at that time that they didn’t agree with the imprisonment of the 75, and, above all, they were outraged at the execution of those boys.”

The Cuban Government stated that there was “budding aggression” and that the U.S. intended to invade Cuba.

“The majority justified signing the ‘Message’ by saying they didn’t agree with the invasion,” lamented Santiesteban, who already in 1995 had received the UNEAC prize for his book of short stories, Sueño de un día de verano [Dream of a Summer Day].”

The essayist, Carlos Aguilera, located in the German city of Frankfurt, emphasized that “this letter was a disgrace. On one side, the despotic State was imprisoning, assassinating, repressing. And on the other, a group of sycophants was encouraging all the terror of Castro’s policy. When, one day, they can ask questions and bring the guilty to justice, they will have to ask the Cuban intellectual claque why they not only signed the proclamation but also contributed to the crime and favored the dismantling of all critical positions, all spaces of reflection and discrepancy.”

However, more than the strong declarations by figures like Günter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa and Jorge Edwards, it had a much bigger impact on national intellectuals, artists and writers. Some, openly on the left, like Pedro Almodóvar, Joan Manuel Serrat, Fernando Trueba, Joaquín Sabina, Caetano Veloso, José Saramago and Eduardo Galeano, harshly criticized the Regime. Even Noam Chomsky, in 2008, requested freedom for those detained in the Black Spring.

“Suddenly there was an apparent unity among colleagues of the Left and the Right on the world level,” said Valle. “It was a small seed that was sowed in the heads of many of us and that flourished some years later in the intellectual rebellion known as ‘Pavongate, or the Little War of Emails in 2007’. For this reason I think that 2003 marks a before and after, because not only did the events occur and not only was society moved but it also made very profound changes in the cultural and social policy in Cuba,” he added.

“No one should be in favor of the death penalty; human life is sacred in my opinion,” said the writer Gabriel Barrenechea, a native of Encrucijada, Villa Clara. “And it seems to me totally incongruent that a writer or an artist would support trials against freedom of expression. To deny this is to deny our essence as creators.”

Through the blog, Segunda Cita, Radio Televisión Martí contacted Silvio Rodríguez, and asked: “In April 2003, you signed the ‘Message from Havana for friends who are far away.’ Seventeen years later, do you continue supporting the executions?”

“I never supported those executions,” answered the singer. “I’m sure that none of the signers of that letter did. We signed the letter to close ranks with Cuba’s right to be sovereign. It was 2003, and when Bush launched an attack against Iraq, Colin Powell, inspired by the worst of Florida, said: ‘First Iraq and then Cuba’. Later he had to say it was a joke. I never quit defending my country from bullies and their friends,” said Silvio Rodríguez.

In an interview given to the Spanish newspaper, El Periódico, in 2008, the trova singer Pablo Milanés said that, unlike others, he refused “to sign a letter of support for the executions decreed in April 2003 and the penalties of long prison sentences for the 75 dissidents.” To the question of whether it was a matter of “pure opportunism” on the part of those intellectuals who signed the letter, Milanés responded, “Yes, and pure cowardice.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

 

"Cuban Interferon is a False Hope" for Coronavirus

Cuba has given more than 8,000 doses of interferon to the regime in Nicaragua. (Confidencial)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Wilfredo Miranda Aburto, Managua, April 14, 2020 — A Venezuelan flight, Conviasa, coming from Cuba, landed last Wednesday in Managua. The aircraft brought 8,000 doses of Interferon Alpha-2B, a pharmaceutical with which the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosadio Murilla “will combat the coronavirus.” Since Covid-19 arrived in Nicaragua, the Sandinista Government has praised the Cuban medicine as a panacea.

The hepatologist, Edward Mena, who has spent years working with this medication in the United States, learned of the official response plan, and his reaction was not positive. “Interferon isn’t going to help anything,” he warns.

Mena is one of the most respected medical specialists in the hepatic field. He is Nicaraguan but received his professional training in California. He is the Director of the Pasadena Liver Center and the California Liver Research Institute, where he has been able to study the use of interferon in several hepatic illnesses. continue reading

Since the spread of COVID-19, regimes with close ties to Cuba have promoted the idea that the medication commercialized by Cuba helped to stop the epidemic in China. In fact, the Sandinista government spread the idea among its sympathizers that “interferon is the cure for coronavirus.”

However, Dr. Mena’s medical practice contradicts this idea. “Up to now, there has never been a study showing that interferon helps with this type of virus. In this family of viruses, COVID-19 is new, but not that new. There have been similar virus types, like SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2011, and interferon has never cured them,” said the specialist.

In an interview with Confidencial, Dr. Mena said there isn’t any proof that interferon stopped the spread of COVID-19 in China, because other medications were also used. He explained that up to now, no pharmaceutical has been able to destroy the coronavirus, but interferon does cause harmful side effects. He described it by saying “It’s like having chemotherapy.”

Before the uncertainty of the medical world, which is hurrying to find a cure for coronavirus, Doctor Mena prescribes a cure that up to now has proven to be the most effective way to stop the contagion: social distancing, quarantine and isolation. This what he said:

Question: The Government of Nicaragua has announced that Cuba has given it more than 8,000 doses of Interferon Alpha-2B to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Can this medication help arrest coronavirus, taking into account that there is still no vaccine?

Answer: In my opinion, interferon won’t help anything. I have used Interferon Alpha-2A and 2B for hepatitis B and hepatitis C and have never seen good results. Now, typically when we use interferon, we use it with another medicine called ribavirin, and the two medicines are used to treat viruses. Interferon alone is not going to work. The other problem we have with interferon is when do we start treatment? Do we start it when there is contact with someone? When someone has symptoms? Or when someone is very ill? My opinion is that if interferon is used when someone is very ill, more harm is done. My professional opinion, with decades of using interferon, is that it doesn’t help anything.

Q: If interferon is used for hepatitis, what other type of illnesses can it help? What are its advantages and disadvantages?

A. With hepatitis B and C, in my experience, we use interferon for one year to kill the hepatitis C virus, and we have only a 40% chance of killing it. With hepatitis B, after one year, the probability of killing the virus is 10%. We use interferon for certain types of cancer and blood problems, and, again, the effectiveness of interferon is not very good.

Q. Is there clinical proof that interferon can help to stop the coronavirus?

A. No. Up to now there hasn’t been any study that says that interferon helps in curing this type of virus. COVID-19 is new, but not that new. There have been other similar viruses like SARS in 2003, MERS in 2001, and interferon has never been able to cure these viruses.

Q. Does interferon have side effects for patients?

A. It’s a horrible medication. The side effects are like you are in chemotherapy. Patients have nausea, vomiting, body aches, anemia; it decreases their platelets, their white blood cells. It’s a very harsh and difficult treatment. There are many side effects.

Q. Many Nicaraguans think it’s a kind of vaccine against the coronavirus. What do you say when a government implies this type of thing?

A. They’re giving people false hope. I don’t think it helps. Interferon does more harm than good. As I said, the side effects are horrible and the benefit is zero.

Q. The U.S. has now become the country with the most cases of COVID-19 in the world. What medications are used there to treat coronavirus?

A. We don’t have treatments for coronavirus. The best treatment is keeping a social distance of two meters [six feet], quarantine and isolation. All the medicines we use are in the research phase. The first is hydroxychloriquine; the second is a medicine called remdesivir, made by Gilead Science; and the third is opinavir/ritonavir, which is used for AIDS. All are medicines under investigation. It’s too soon to say which one will work and which one won’t.

Q. In Nicaragua, the government has not ordered social isolation and also is promoting gatherings. As a specialist, what do you think?

A. It’s horrible, because if you don’t have isolation, social distancing and quarantine, half of the country will be infected, and there will be people dying in the streets.

Q. In Nicaragua, health personnel have denounced the order forbidding them from using personal protection equipment, like masks, because it supposedly creates alarm among the patients. What is the risk for those who are on the first line of defense against the virus?

A. It’s a terrible order. What’s going to happen is that they’re going to infect more patients. It’s important to use protective equipment to protect doctors and nurses who are on the front lines. If they don’t have masks, they’re going to catch the virus and spread it. This will make the situation worse. Not giving them protection will create harm, and this has to be done now.

Q. What message would you give to the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua in the face of this pandemic?

A. The most important thing for the pandemic is to take it seriously. This virus kills people. You must have testing, social distancing, quarantine and masks to protect the population. If you don’t, 50% of patients will die. Nicaragua is six weeks behind the rest of the world. The effects that we are seeing in the rest of the world, like the U.S. and Italy, we will see in Nicaragua in six weeks. They can’t conceal the number of deaths. When there are deaths from pneumonia, they will be related to the virus. There is no other explanation.

Note: This interview is reprinted with permission from Confidencial, an online Nicaraguan source, which also experiences censorship in its own country.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Dengue and Coronavirus, a Double Battle

Beds have been set up in the hallways of the Pepe Portilla Pediatric Hospital for patients with fever. (Juan Carlos Fernández/Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 2, 2020 — “I began feeling very bad, weak, and when I saw that I was getting a rash, I knew it was dengue,” says Manuel, 46, from Camagüey. Dengue continues unabated, but now it competes with the propagation of the coronavirus, which has priority.

Manuel lives in Reparto Garrido, where, in the last weeks, numerous cases of dengue have beem diagnosed, which was confirmed by a source in the Ministry of Public Health in the province. “They’re not being hospitalized unless the patient is very serious because all the hospital beds are being reserved for people with coronavirus,” added Manuel.

“They are requiring that anyone in the house with dengue stay under a mosquito net. But this is complicated by the fear of COVID-19,” he explains. “Now, in addition to preventing a mosquito bite and spreading the virus to my family, I have to maintain strict hygenic measures. But I can barely move from my bed, so I’m using alcohol to wash my hands, but I don’t have much left and there isn’t any in the pharmacy.” continue reading

In the middle of last year, when the incidence of dengue reached worrisome levels on the Island, the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine hosted an international course about dengue, zika and other emerging arboviruses that created a national project to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito with the application of ionizing radiation.

The method, known as insect sterilization, consists of irradiating the males in their pupal state and freeing them so that when they mate with wild females, they don’t produce young. But they didn’t specify the date of putting the strategy into practice nor its extent on the national territory.

In October 2019, it was announced that the health authorities on the Island were promoting the breeding of guppies as an alternative measure against the Aedes aegypti mosquito. An experiment of this type was launched in the province of Cienfuegos, as an “economical and effective variant” to eradicate the plague, because one single fish can devour between 60 and 150 insect larvae in a day.

However, the new strategies in the fight against the mosquito coincided with a fall in the frequency of fumigation, especially by the lack of fuel that forced them to reduce the zones where it was applied. “We are only authorizing fumigation in the houses and surrounding areas where a case of dengue is detected, but we don’t have enough to do it effectively,” a Camagüeyan medical source told 14ymedio.

“Now, with the rise in temperature, an outbreak of dengue is beginning, and the situation can get worse because it’s been months since we’ve had a fumigation campaign on the national level,” says the source. “It’s really difficult to struggle against two viruses at the same time, and although dengue is an old acquaintance in Cuba, now we are in a very unfavorable situation to confront it.”

The Panamerican Health Organization (PHO) warned in the middle of March of the need to take measures to minimize the consequences of dengue, which already had left 156 dead so far this year. In a recent report, it pointed out that the region was facing the “worst epidemic” in the history of the continent.

“It is estimated that there will be an elevated incidence for the whole region in 2020. The first quarter is very complex for the Southern Cone, and we began the year with situations of high transmission in Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and Peru,” said Marcos Espinal, Director of the PHO Department of Transmissible Disease and Environmental Health Determinants.

“After two years of low incidence in 2017 and 2018, we had a year in 2019 with 3.1 million cases of dengue, the largest figure in history,” he explained. “But so far this year, more than 661,818 cases have been reported, of which 1,820 were diagnosed as serious.”

The experts have asked that the recommendations of the authorities be followed, principally washing your hands. Both dengue and coronavirus can be confronted by taking the same measures; in the case of dengue, it’s essential to focus on eradicating the source.

The symptoms of dengue are high fever, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea, while coronavirus causes a dry cough, difficulty breathing and general pain, but ruling out one or the other is always a medical question,” said Espinal.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

A Cuban Radiologist Recounts His Experience From Italy

In Turin, Italy, it’s also difficult to contain the coronavirus. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Galina González, Turin, March 21, 2020 — We here in Italy have already  lived for a month in this nightmare, and in spite of the fact that we haven’t reached the peak of the contagion, we are very aware of the restrictive measures that must be taken. Avoid contact with others and keep a one-meter distance if you don’t have a face mask. Wash your hands often and never touch your face while you are in the street. Avoid going out unless it’s for work or to buy food and medicine. The Red Cross has activated volunteer services to help the elderly.

When everything began in February, I didn’t know very well what I had to do and things were less clear. For me it was more difficult in relation to my work in the hospital, but now I am less worried. I work in radiology where women who have been operated on for breast cancer come to be monitored, but on March 9 they asked us to suspend all exams. My work right now consists of telephoning and giving information to patients. I don’t work with patients infected with the virus.

With all the restrictions that many people have who can’t go to work, it’s good right now to be able to work.

I feel I am living in a future that now everyone outside Italy is beginning to experience, and I’m worried about you. No one is prepared for this epidemic unless you are living inside it. i tried to give some advice to people outside Italy but realized it’s difficult to understand if it’s not happening to you.

I live in Turin, which is not as large as Milan, where it’s very difficult to contain the infection. Here when I go out to work in the morning with my bicycle I don’t have to stop at any traffic lights even if they’re red, because there’s no traffic. But I can see people walking their dogs.

When I finish work at 4:00 in the afternoon, it’s hard to see anyone walking in the center. Everything is closed: bars, shops, theaters, etc. And if the police see you outside your house they can stop and question you just because you’re outside. They’ve never stopped me because I have a certificate already prepared saying it’s for work.

I heard a radio program on the epidemic in other countries, and Cuba seems to be reluctant to take the restrictive measures necessary to avoid contagion. I saw a video on Facebook about a meeting of medical students in Cuba. A doctor was talking and asked someone to take off his mask or leave the room. This is disturbing, not to mention criminal. It could mean disaster. Be vigilant, all of you, and take preventive measures, even if the Government is taking its time to do it.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The U.S. Embassy in Cuba Suspends its Services Because of Coronavirus

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Havana will offer only emergency services for U.S. citizens. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, March 17, 2020 — On Monday, the U.S. Embassy suspended “routine” services for North American citizens owing to the health emergency posed by the coronavirus, according to a diplomatic communication.

“As a result, the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Havana will offer only emergency services for U.S. citizens and non-migrant visa services,” it added.

Applicants who already have appointments will be notified by email when routine services resume, the Embassy indicated.

Cuba now has five confirmed cases — one in a critical state — of the illness caused by Covid-19.

The U.S. had already suspended consular services for immigrant and tourist visas some years ago because of mysterious attacks that required the evacuation of a large part of its Embassy staff in Havana.

Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have cooled since ex-President Barack Obama reestablished diplomatic ties between both countries and traveled to Havana to promote what was known as the “thaw”.

The policy of rapprochement, harshly criticized in South Florida where most of the exiled Cubans live, gave way to an escalation of confrontation after President Donald Trump took office. He blames Cuba for the authoritarian drift of Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Most of Cuba’s economic support comes from Venezuela.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

10 Years: A Guy Named Ivan Writes from Havana

July 2009. Iván writing on the first laptop he had, in the room of his daughter, who was then six years old.

Iván García, January 20, 2020 — Three years ago I had a smart phone for the first time. It was a gift from Celeste Matos, a journalist in Miami, with whom I worked for a time. It was robbed, and she offered me another, which was blocked because I couldn’t remember my account ID.

In January 2009, when I began this adventure of opening the blog Desde La Habana (From Havana), I didn’t have a laptop. I used to type on a portable Olivetti Lettera that my mother left me before going into exile in Switzerland in the autumn of 2003.

The Black Spring, as you know, was a repressive wave ordered by Fidel Castro, that imprisoned 75 dissidents, among them 27 independent journalists. It was a tremendous blow to uncensored journalism, and there was a logical retreat. continue reading

My friend Luis Cino, an unsurpassed chronicler, started working as a custodian in a dairy. In order to support my daughter, born February 3, 2003, I had to sell pizzas, snacks and fruit juice from home.

A Swiss reporter used to visit Havana in the month of December and we would meet in the home of Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sánchez. I heard Yoani talking about the blogosphere for the first time.

Later I read a very interesting article in Newsweek in Spanish about the importance of personal blogs in the media. This was in 2007. Cino and Juan González Febles had founded Primavera Digital (Digital Spring), an independent site considered illegal by the Regime, and they invited me to collaborate.

In April 2007, Yoani opened her blog, Generación Y (Generation Y*). Her posts were short, well-edited and irreverent. The Sánchez-Escobar couple are like a push-button box: you press a button and out comes an idea. And it occurred to them to open a Blogger Academy in their apartment, on the 14th floor of a Soviet-style building in the suburbs of Nuevo Vedado.

It was then that Yoani invited me to become part of her initiative to set up a platform of bloggers living in Cuba. You are your own publisher, censor and editor. You can write whatever you want. You’re on your own. One month before, I had done an interview with Yoani, which, because of its length, was divided into two parts.

I posted the first part, Conversation with Yoani, on the blog Penúltimas Días (Penultimate Days) on February 9; and the second, Yoani apunta con pistola (Yoani Aims a Gun) on El Blog de Tania Quintero (The Blog of Tania Quintero). It took me a lot of work to convert this long conversation into an interview, since the keyboard on my laptop was in German and didn’t have Spanish accent marks.

Finally, the blog Voces Cubanas (Cuban Voices) created a platform with the name of a musical group containing some 30 bloggers who were keen to win over the world. The idea appealed to me, but I preferred a blog that was more tilted toward journalism. So I invited the independent journalist, Luis Cini, and the lawyer, Laritza Diversent, to write a column.

Each one had their own plan, but I proposed to Laritza that she dissect the convoluted Cuban laws that not even the Government itself complied with. And I, like Cino, wrote posts about the Cuba that the Regime wanted to hide. Also, I tried to monetize the blog to earn some money for the three of us.

As for the Blogger Academy, there I learned everything I know about technology tools. Yoani had insisted that we open our own Twitter accounts. In one class she showed us an iPhone, the first I’d ever seen.

A little later, colleagues in the U.S. gave us modern laptops with Spanish keyboards and decent cell phones. In October 2009, Manuel Aguilera, a world-class journalist, discovered me from the blog Desde La Habana. He hired me for the American edition of El Mundo that Aguilera directed, where I wrote until 2012. In 2013 I began to publish in Diario Las Américas. This was something positive from the journalistic and monetary point of view. The pay for my collaborations allowed me to support my family without many hassles.

But the exclusivity of the blog was lost. The whirlwind of work prevented me and prevents me from writing original posts. Although my texts are reproduced and published on Diario Las Américas and other sites, I haven’t been able to return to writing specific texts for the Desde La Habana blog and El Blog de Iván García y sus amigos. Now I have more time. My daughter is about to enter university, and at present I’m writing only for Diario Las Américas.

For the 10th anniversary of the blog, I promise readers to return to exclusive stories. At least once a month. Up to now I’ve published in private, official, or commercial media. Desde La Habana has been like one of my children. It has opened doors and allowed me to know wonderful people, like Carlos Moreira from Portugal, who has been our administrator for 10 years, as well as innumerable readers who have contacted me through the blog and whom I later met in Cuba.

After a decade, the time to renew oneself has arrived. We will try to do things differently, to incorporate new writers, include videos. I will be telling you along the way what I have in mind.

*Translator’s note: The name refers to the generation born in Cuba during the Cold War whose parents were inspired by Russian names beginning with the letter “Y”.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Hundreds of Chinese Travelers Remain Stranded in Cuba Because of the Corona Virus

The Chinese authorities have taken drastic measures that also affect a large number of tourists in Cuba (14ymedio).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 3, 2020 — It’s lunch hour, and several restaurants in Havana’s Chinatown are packed with customers. They speak in anxious tones, consult their phones, make calls and constantly look at their watches. Most of them are Chinese who are now stranded in Cuba after numerous flights were canceled because of the corona virus that is hitting their country.

The outbreak in Wuhan has led many airlines to cancel their flights to China. With more than 300 deaths and some 17,000 cases confirmed with the illness, local authorities have taken drastic measures that also affect a great number of tourists on the Island.

Jiang is a young man of 28 who was supposed to return to his country through a combination of flights from Havana to Paris and then by Air France to Peking, but for now the trip is canceled and he has to remain in Cuba. “I’m running out of money, and if there is no solution by Monday, I’ll have to go to the embassy and ask for help. They’ve told me I can fly to Paris and wait there until the connection is reestablished, but I’d rather stay here,” Jiang says. “There is still an option with Aeroflot but I’m not in a hurry to get home because classes have been suspended since the New Year’s vacation .” continue reading

The young man rents in a private home in Old Havana where they offered him housing before this happened. “The owner told me I could stay some extra nights at half-price but all this is very inconvenient for me and my friends, because we came for three weeks of vacation and now we are trapped here.”

Business people in the zone aren’t very bothered by the situation. “With the decline in tourism, at least now this place is full,” says a waiter in one of the restaurants in Chinatown that is popular because of its traditional Chinese cooking.

“They come here not only to eat but also to meet and talk about what they’re going through,” he clarifies. “Although many came on tourist packages and the companies are taking care of them through this, others are not doing well with this whole situation.”

In 2018 Cuba was the seventh destination in Latin America for Chinese tourism, with more than 48,000 visitors, and in 2019 the Island went up to fourth place in the region, a growth that was also noted in tourism offers and commercials focused on Chinese travelers.

“They are very interested in the history, the architecture, the music, but also want the beach and sun,” a private guide specializing in Chinese tourism told 14ymedio. He studies at the Confucius Institute of Havana and alternates his classes with walks and activities designed for groups coming from China.

“Recently I’ve had to help a lot of people with their travel arrangements, but most still haven’t been able to leave the country because the flights to mainland China are canceled, and between going to Europe or the U.S. where they’ll waste much more time waiting, they prefer to stay here,” he said.

“The bad news is that it seems this might be extended for a lot longer. Those who now are considered tourists can soon be in a situation almost of humanitarian emergency, and then the authorities must have a plan to house and feed them,” he adds.

For now, the Chinese Embassy in Havana hasn’t activated a specific protocol for these cases, according to a source who works in the headquarters in Vedado, but “each case is analyzed personally, and Chinese citizens have every right to solicit help and support in this circumstance,” he adds. “They can come and speak with an official.”

There is nothing posted outside the Embassy that contains additional information for tourists who are stranded on the Island because of the corona virus.

From Europe, SAS, Swiss Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Air France have canceled flights to China. As for KLM, flights are being canceled as the situation with the coronavirus deteriorates.

The airlines aren’t the only ones taking extreme precautions. Cuban authorities are equipped to protect the country’s borders, “to contain the arrival of sick travelers (…) in addition to assuring strict compliance with measures of supervision and control over them, originating from areas with transmission after they have arrived,” said the official press.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The Cuban Government Lashes Out Against Bolivia for Receiving Rosa Maria Paya

Jeanine Añez and Rosa María Payá meet in the Palacio Quemado together with other Cuban activists. (Jeanine Añez)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, January 22, 2020 — (EFE). On Tuesday, the Cuban Government reproached the acting President of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, for receiving the Cuban dissident Rosa María Payá and described the provisional executive members of the Andean country as “rebels who massacred the people” and “militarized the country.”

“Employees of the U.S. Government are rushing to embrace and support the Bolivian coup plotters who massacred the people, militarized the country, violated the Constitution and are rapidly trying to reverse the social advances in order to favor the oligarchs,” the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez, wrote on Twitter.

In responding to this same publication, the Director General for Latin America of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Eugenio Rodríguez, noted that “the de facto President of Bolivia enters the miniscule club of authorities from Latin America that receives, under pressure from the U.S., those included on the payroll of U.S.A.I.D. to overthrow the popular Government of Cuba.” continue reading

Rodríguez also said that U.S. Government “employees” born in Cuba or of Cuban origin “only manage to be received by the coup plotters”.

Áñez received on Monday in the Palacio Quemado de La Paz, the daughter of the deceased dissident, Oswaldo Payá, and the promoter of the project Cuba Decides, a platform for Cubans to decide in a plebiscite on the political system they want for the Island.

Other members of the Latin American Network of Youth for Democracy also took part in the meeting, which was held according to the internal mandate to discuss “the situation of the Cuban people and the state of democracy in Latin America”.

“Thank you, Bolivia, for denouncing the criminal interference of Cuba in your country and for being the transition that inspires those of us who are still confronting dictatorships”, Payá wrote later on Twitter. She also met with Ex-President Jorge Quiroga.

Cuba and Bolivia were tightly allied when Evo Morales was President of Bolivia, but the foreign policy of the new President has been marked by distancing Bolivia from its former partner.

A short time after assuming power, when Morales resigned and left the country, the Interim Government broke off relations with Venezuela, and, although it presently maintains relations with Cuba, the ideological positions between La Paz and Havana are now antagonistic.

In November, Cuba withdrew for reasons of security more than 700 professionals who were providing services in Bolivia, mainly in the health sector.

The decision was the culmination of a discussion days earlier about the detention of several Cuban doctors by the Bolivian police. Initially they were accused of promoting protests in favor of Evo Morales, something that the Cuban Government vehemently denied.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

The Exile Community Makes Fun of the "Revelations" on Cuban Television About The Clandestinos

Cuban television links several Cuban exiles in Miami to the Clandestinos.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 23, 2020 — After being pointed out by the Cuban State’s television monopoly as the main person responsible for the activities of the Clandestinos, Ana Olema Hernández responded this Wednesday on the program El Espejo of AmericaTeve. “The system has no credibility. It’s a total defamation,” said the activist.

Hernández, who lives in Miami, was accused in the Tuesday report on the State channel of having paid $600 to Panter Rodríguez Baró, who is presumed responsible along with Yoel Prieto Tamayo, of pouring pork blood on 11 busts of Martí and writing political content on three walls at the beginning of 2020. In order to sustain its accusations, the program showed alleged receipts of money sent by Western Union.

Hernández admitted having known Rodríguez during a brief visit to Cuba in 2018, but she denies any link to the Clandestinos or knowing any of the other three accused. continue reading

“From the very first moment they have tried to find someone guilty in order to keep the image they want to give that the System maintains absolute control of the country,” said the activist, who thinks the situation is out of the control of the Government.

Hernández was accused in the report of being “at the service of the United States and the anti-Cuban mafia located in Florida”, of having ties with “counterrevolutionary and terrorist” organizations and of being, furthermore, a “puppet of subversion” implicated in causing “disorders.”

“The idea of the Clandestinos isn’t mine. They are trying to deny that there is an autonomous and legitimate opposition that is born from popular discontent,” he argued, before demanding that the Government have free elections.

Yonel Fernando Cardoso, another of those pointed out by Cuban television, admitted in a statement to El Nuevo Herald that he administers the Facebook group, “We are all Clandestinos”, which has more than 11,000 followers, but ties to the collective end there.

“I don’t have any relationship with the four people arrested in Havana. On my page, which is different from the Clandestinos page, I publish the Clandestino actions that other activists send me from Cuba,” she said.

The Miami paper contacted the activist, Liu Santiesteban, who also rejected the ties traced by the Cubans between the Clandestinos and Ana Olema Hernández or Ultrak by the mere fact that they had written songs about them.

“The Clandestinos are liked by a good part of Cuban society, although some people feel offended. I’ve seen many people who were first offended but later understood the message. The Clandestinos have taken away faith in the regime from many people, and that’s what scares the Government,” declared El Nuevo Herald.

The newspaper also spoke with the actor Roberto San Martín. “Why do I have to believe a regime that tortures and assassinates? I’m sure they’re trying to discredit Ana Olema, who recently went viral against the dictatorship, and those guys are simple snitches used to denigrate and shut up the opposition,” he said from Madrid, where he resides.

In addition, he said he had received a “suspicious” call by someone who tried to link him with the Clandestinos. “Under threat of execution, as they’ve had those guys, anybody will say anything. I don’t believe a thing the dictatorship says. There have no respect for the most elemental human rights,” he said.

Some of the media mentioned in a diagram used by Cuban State television are El Nuevo Herald, ADN Cuba, Diario de Cuba, Cubita Now and 14ymedio. They are accused of spreading facts of “similar magnitude,” although the official press itself has reported on the activities of the Clandestinios.

The musician Aldo Roberto Rodríguez Baquero, the political leader Rosa María Payá and the announcer Alex Otaola also appear in the diagram. Otaola told the Nuevo Herald that the Government continues to lie.

“As always, it’s a manipulation, a way to blame others for their disastrous system. It’s a ridiculous farce taking advantage of any excuse to create invisible enemies.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

See also:

Clandestinos: Outcome and Teachings of a Hoax / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

The Controversy Over The Identity Of The Clandestinos Is Growing

Clandestinos, Legitimate Protest or Provocation by State Security?

Clandestinos: Heroes or Collateral Damage? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

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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.