Marriage Equality Eliminated From the Constitutional Reform Project

Cuba’s Family Code will determine who can marry, as this issue has been dropped from the constitutional reform. (David Himbert)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Havana, December 19, 2018 — The commission preparing the draft of the new Cuban Constitution eliminated the article that would open the door to gay marriage, after the opposition to this matter that surfaced during the popular debates on the reform of the Constitution, which have been taking place for the past three months.

“The Commission proposes deferring the concept of marriage, that is to say, that it has been removed from the Project of the Constitution, as a way of respecting all opinions. Marriage is a social and legal institution. The law will define the rest of the elements,” reported the Cuban Parliament on its Twitter account. continue reading

#ConsultaPopular #Cuba adds a chapter only for the family, where legal and current ties are recognized, and the right of each citizen to start a family, without distinction to their nature. #ReformaConstitucional #HacemosCuba @DiazCanelB @anamarianpp pic.twitter.com/1iCZ82oc0M — AsambleaNacionalCuba (@AsambleaCuba) 18 de diciembre de 2018  

The initial proposal aimed to change the concept of marriage that appears in the current Constitution (1976), where it is defined as the union between a man and a woman, a meaning that it proposed placing with “union between two persons with the legal capacity for it,” without specifying gender.

This change of direction was made known this Tuesday during the commissions prior to the plenary session of the National Assembly on Friday, in which it is anticipated that the constitutional draft, to which has been added suggestions received from citizens during the process of debating the text, will be submitted to a vote.

According to the account of the Assembly on the Twitter, in the new Constitution “a chapter is added only for the family, where legal and current ties are recognized, and the right of each citizen to start a family, without distinction to their nature.”

Via this means, the Cuban Parliament also specified that “in the Family Code it will have to be established who can be subjects of marriage” and a popular consultation and referendum will be held “within a period of two years from a proposed transitional provision in the project itself.”

The constitutional modification that would have supported a future law of gay marriage had opened an intense debate in Cuba, with campaigns in favor by the LGTB community but also against from the Catholic and evangelical churches, the latter of which have more and more followers on the Island.

In accordance with the report that the secretary of the Council of State of Cuba, Homero Acosta, gave to the deputies yesterday, that article (number 68 of the constitutional draft) was the one most tackled in the popular consultation, considering that it came up in 66% of the meetings.

192,408 opinions on the matter were gathered, of which 158,376 proposed “substituting the proposal with what is currently in force” (the definition of marriage as the union between man and woman).

The draft of the new Constitution will be voted on in the National Assembly of People’s Power this Friday, and once approved will be submitted to national referendum on February 24.

The proposed text, which doesn’t incorporate changes to the political system, recognizes private property, eliminates references to communism, and establishes the position of prime minister, among other changes.

The constitutional Commission that prepared the initial draft and that has modified it introducing some of the proposals made by Cubans during the popular debate is headed by the ex-president and leader of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raúl Castro.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

____________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Tania Bruguera Sues Official Media for Defamation

Tania Bruguera during her “performance” during the XII Bienniel of Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 18, 2018 — The artist Tania Bruguera made public this Tuesday a text in which she reports on a lawsuit she has brought against various official press outlets and against some of their most visible spokespersons.

“Tired of suffering defamation by the country’s official press outlets like Granma and Razones de Cuba (“Cuba’s Reasons,” apro-government blog) and of websites backed by the Ministry of Culture, like La Jiribilla, I have decided to bring a lawsuit against the actions of all legal and natural persons who have affected me and my family psychologically, professionally, and socially,” said Bruguera in a statement accompanying the lawsuit brought on December 11.

The artist told 14ymedio that she filed the penal lawsuit at the Old Havana municipal police station against the citizens who have signed any of the texts of those publications as is the case of Arthur González; Antonio Rodríguez Salvador; the director of the website Cubadebate, Randy Alonso Falcón; the director of La Jiribilla, Anneris Ivette Leyva; and the director of the newspaper Granma, Yailín Orta Rivera. continue reading

Bruguera claimed in her text that the campaign of defamation against her has not taken place only in media outlets, but also in executive meetings of the Ministry of Culture and of the Ministry of the Interior, of the directors of national museums and other leaders and cultural agents of the Government, with young artists, students, curators, and creators, with the objective of discrediting her.

The artist told this newspaper that after making the complaint she delivered copies of all the documentation of the legal action to the Attorney General of the Republic and the public services office of the Council of State. She also reported that in the public services office of the National Revolutionary Police they confirmed to her that the case was registered in the “national system” of complaints.

“They didn’t tell me anything about the period of time to receive a response but I asked a lawyer and she told me that it must be within 30 days,” she detailes. “What I am asking for is not economic compensation, but rather the retraction in the same media outlets where the articles originally appeared, and that they put an explanatory note on those that are on the internet,” clarified Bruguera in the text.

The artist told 14ymedio that she consulted with various lawyers on the writing of the text and that they told her that it is very possible that there are no precedents of a similar legal action to this one and that it would be the first of its kind in Cuba. “So then let it be the first of many and let it mean that, for next person who makes them uncomfortable by saying or doing what they think, the officials reflect on it better,” before defaming that person publicly, she added in her statement.

After this action Bruguera believes that other artists and citizens may be able to use the legal structures that exist in the Government for their protection against defamation.

According to the current penal code, defamation “requires the complaint of the offended party” and the crime takes place when a person, in front of a third party, “imputes to another a conduct, an act, or a characteristic against their honor, that may damage their social reputation, lower them in public opinion, or put them at risk of losing the confidence required to carry out their charge, profession, or social function.” It is sanctioned with “deprivation of liberty for three months to a year or a fine of 100 to 300 ’shares’* or both.”

The Government’s official media outlets, equally in printed form, digital, or telivision, frequently accuse leaders of the opposition, artists, journalists, and independent members of civil society of being “salaried employees of imperialism.”

“The Cuban Government cannot keep using the laws as they please, nor only to protect those who work for their political ends. The Government cannot be exempt from responsibility,” she said. Tania Bruguera supports the campaign against Decree 349 that a group of artists initiatated after it appeared published in the Official Gazette on July 10, along with a package of measures directed at limiting the work of private businesses.

The first week of this month the artist was detained in Havana along with other independent art figures, and advocates of the campaign, like Luis Manuel Otero, Yanelys Núñez, Michel Matos, and Amaury Pacheco. The arrest occurred after Bruguera, on December 7, participated in a “peaceful sit-in” in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana to demand the repeal of Decree 349. That day she was released after some hours but later, on two other occasions when she attempted to reach the scene of the protest, she was arrested by State Security officials.

Bruguera believes that it is time to be in one’s country when it is going through a moment that is “crucial for freedom of expression in Cuba and also in the world.” The artist recently declined an invitation to participate in the Bienniel of Kochi, in India. “Although, in the circumstances in which we live in Cuba today, they have made us feel that asking for your rights is a useless act, all of us as citizens must be listened to, our rights to be compensated, and to receive a response when defamed, as is anticipated in Article 63 of the current Constitution of the Republic,” said Bruguera. In her statement she expressed: “A nation only exists when the rights of its citizens are respected.”

*Translator’s note: The Cuban penal code establishes fines in terms of a number of “shares.” This is done so that, instead of having to amend every fine established in the code, the amounts can be changed in all instances in the code simply by amending the value of one “share.” 

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

___________________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

’Cuban Food Stories,’ the Island Told Through its Flavors

Asori Soto brought his film to Cuban screens as part of the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Yeny García, Havana, December 16, 2018 — A country rich in culinary traditions and diverse in flavors, even faced with scarcity and shortages, is the surprise revealed now in Havana by ’Cuban Food Stories’, a documentary that traces the map of the island through the stomach and the nostalgia of a Cuban filmmaker.

Eating before going to the cinema is almost an obligatory requirement to see this film, which debuts on Cuban screens as part of the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, fruit of a “debt” of its director, Asori Soto, an expatriate who has used food as a pretext to rediscover his country.

“Some people were asking me, why are you going to make a movie in Cuba, if in Cuba there’s no food? And I said to myself, even if that was the reality, in the absence of food there is also a story. But what we discovered was something totally different,” explained Soto to EFE. continue reading

The serious economic crisis of the 1990s sunk the country into one of its worst moments, desperate to survive in face of the scarcity of food and forgetting its rich culinary heritage, in a lethargy that seems to still exist today, when shortages still exist as a brake on creativity in the kitchen.

After 45 days traveling around the island — and 12 extra pounds — the filmmaker proved that “even though there is scarcity,” in Cuba there exists a world of flavors that go further than the traditional duo of congrí rice and pork.

“Cuban cuisine is extremely rich, what we haven’t known how to do in recent years is represent it onscreen. If something is not represented, it doesn’t exist,” pointed out Soto, who took around two days to film each story in the movie.

In what is almost an anthropological investigation of what makes up Cuba culinary identity, the documentary takes the spectator by sea and land, from cities to places as remote as the banks of the river Toa or the almost isolated Baracoa, the first Spanish town in Cuba, both in the eastern region of the island.

’Cuban Food Stories’ is not a “film about food, but rather about people,” who still jealously guard dishes inherited from their elders, the majority of which have nothing to do with the idea that many have made of the island’s cuisine, “in which exists a place like Baracoa (east) where they cook with coconut milk.”

The film shows native dishes of each region, but strangely little known beyond their borders, like cornmeal with crabs and shellfish in coconut milk, all without forgetting the eternal roast pork, the jewel of the crown in the island’s festivities.

Passing through, the spectator can also catch a glimmer of Cuban folklore, beyond gluttony, and get to know one of the best-kept traditions of the country, in the Christmas Eve dinner filmed in the famous parrandas — food and drink fueled celebrations — of Remedios, declared in November to be an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

“In the film they only visit one restaurant, the rest are people in their houses. Is there anything better than eating shrimp from the river, caught 30 yards away, cooked in coconut milk that was just extracted in front of you?” insisted Soto.

However, beyond representing inherited and little-known flavors of Cuban cuisine, ’Cuban Food Stories’ has turned into an initiative that tries to promote the practice of a “’leveraged” cooking, taking advantage of what is available, sustainable, current, and very necessary.

“Cuba is a country with economic problems and even so, food is wasted. (…) Dishes have more than one life. It’s not necessary to throw away bread because it has gotten hard. Our mission is to try to change that mentality, better understand our culinary culture, and that we start to create, taking that as a base,” he added.

Exchanges with cooks from countries like Vietnam, which has an “extremely rich cuisine marked by famine,” various social and development initiatives, are some of the projects that Soto has in mind, and on which he is still working “one by one” before launching them.

“We would love it if people would try. It’s complicated to cook when sometimes you don’t have the elements, but if you feel proud of what you are doing and keep trying, you’re going to succeed,” he insisted.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

___________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Police Raid Against Illegal "Almendrones" On Two Wheels

The motorcyclists of Santiago de Cuba are the main private transportation in the city. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ernesto Camué, Santiago de Cuba | 17 December 2018 — Authorities in Santiago de Cuba are determined to impose order on mototaxis (motorcycle taxis), the main method of transportation in the city. In the last few weeks, an expanded body of inspectors and police officers has been trying to check the illegal motorcyclists, around nine out of every ten circulating around the city.

The profession laments that, in a context of new regulations for the private sector, the controls in the transportation of passengers are significant. The worst nightmare of these drivers is the motorized police, caballitos, who in the last few weeks have determinedly pursued motorcyclists to demand that they show their licenses.

The peculiar topography of the city, with steep streets, means that mototaxis are the best solution for passengers who want to cross it rapidly and without having to wait too long for a bus. Consolidated for decades, mobility on these two-wheeled “almendrones*” was legalized in 2014, but convincing the motorcyclists to formalize their activity has turned out to be an almost impossible task. continue reading

Of the 15,000 bikes providing service in the city, less than a tenth have a license to practice the occupation in a self-employed manner, according to the local press.

The majority prefer to do it outside of the law to evade the monthly payment for the permit which, along with the social security fee, can reach around 400 CUP (Cuban pesos, about $16 US), in addition to paying 300 CUP for the operating license once a year. The motorcyclists, additionally, justify their position by arguing that local authorities haven’t fulfilled the initial promise of providing them with spare parts and fuel at preferential prices to perform their work.

A mototaxi makes at least ten journeys a day, according to various motorcyclists consulted by this newspaper, from which the weekly earnings can top 3,000 CUP. However, these freelancers allege that spare parts and private maintenance garages have very elevated prices and that fuel, at 1 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos, about $1.00 US) per liter, is an unsustainable price.

Four years ago, Maira Pérez González, vicepresident of the Provincial Administration Council, assured that maintenance and repair garages would be authorized with facilities for these motorcyclists and that they would be sold oil, greases, body work, paint, and electricity.

“They told us that they were going to open a store where we could buy cheaper parts and tires to repair the motorcycles, but the supply lasted a very short time,” details Yunior, a 32-year-old motorcyclist who has spent seven years “evading the police” to avoid the fines of up to 500 CUP that they impose on illegal drivers.

The motorcyclist believes this is the only advantage of legalizing the business. “Everything else with being self employed is about obligations to the State, not rights: you have to pay more and the earnings are very little. We would have to set prices that customers aren’t willing to pay,” he tells 14ymedio to justify his decision to work outside the law.

If until a few months ago there was a certain permissiveness with the illegal motorcyclists, the outlook has radically changed at the end of 2018. “Before they would stop us so that we would wear a helmet and so we would carry another one for the customer, but now it’s a hunt to give us fines and even threaten to confiscate our motorcycles,” says Jorge Valdivia, a motorcyclist who had a license for several years until, in April of 2017, he decided to return it and continue “at his own risk” in Santiago’s streets.

“Now we have to tell the customer to pay discreetly because if the police see us accepting money they give us fines,” he adds.

Valdivia rides a bike of the MZ make, which along with Jawa and ETZ motorcycles are the most common ones in private transportation in this part of the country. “I bought this one from a Cuban who studied in communist Germany and brought it with him when he came back,” he tells this newspaper. They are among the few motorcycles with fuel motors that have been permitted to enter the country in half a century.

Currently customs laws only allow the private import of electric motorcycles, nor are models that consume fossil fuels sold in national stores. On the informal market one of these vehicles can cost 7,500 CUC or more, depending on its technical state and on the improvements made by its owner.

“I bought this Jawa a year ago and I still haven’t managed to recoup the investment, so I can’t pay for the license,” explains a young rider who preferred to remain anonymous. “If I get my license I will have to pay almost 500 CUP each month between one thing and another, so there would remain very little for me,” he details.

Along with the advantages in mobility that motorcycles offer in Santiago de Cuba is the price. There are rates by section and a standard trip costs 10 CUP, but one can also negotiate with the driver for longer distances or to use the vehicle to transport shopping, furniture, and even raw material for other private businesses.

“Without the motorcycles this city would be paralyzed because not even the guarandingas (a truck fitted out to operated a bus), nor the Diana buses (assembled on the island) manage to offer an efficient service,” says Carmen Rojas, a resident in the vicinity of the central Alameda of Santiago de Cuba. “Although not everyone can afford a moto, what’s certain is that they alleviate the transport problem a lot.”

*Translator’s note: The vehicles used in private, shared and semi-fixed route taxis in Cuba are commonly classic American cars from the 1950s or earlier, which are called “almendrones” in reference to their “almond” shape.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

__________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Dengue and Zika Advancing in Cienfuegos

A doctor attends a child with fever in one of the attached rooms of the hospital in Cienfuegos. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Justo Mora / Mario J. Pentón, Cienfuegos/Miami, December 12, 2018 –Winter hasn’t managed to contain the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is grazing freely in Cienfuegos. 198 people have been seen in the past week under suspicion of dengue, and 22 suspected cases of Zika have been recorded, which makes the province one of those most affected by the presence of the mosquito, according to official figures obtained by 14ymedio.

“We have around 200 patients with symptoms of having contracted zika or dengue,” one of the doctors directing the fight against the epidemic explained, under condition of anonymity. “Additionally, the confirmed cases in the same period of time are 33 of dengue and 25 of zika. The epidemiologic situation is difficult in the province and the population doesn’t doesn’t realize the risk.”

The most affected municipality is Cienfuegos, with 118 cases of patients with fever, because of which they have had to equip rooms and annex hospitals to attend the flow of patients. In the province, 45 sources of the mosquito Aedes aegypti have been counted, of which the majority, 40, are in the city of Cienfuegos. continue reading

Areas of Cienfuegos where the mosquitos that transmit dengue and zika are common. (14ymedio)

The city’s newspaper, 5 de Septiembre, published an article at the end of November warning about the presence of a type of dengue in the province that hadn’t been seen since 1977 and that can cause death.

Authorities classified the health situation in the province at that moment as “alarming.”

“We have some shelters in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, in the Cinco de Septiembre polytechnic, and in other areas like Caunao. We were thinking that in 15 days the situation would be resolved, but to date the outlook remains very complicated,” he added.

The majority of the annexed rooms and shelters in which the patients with fever are being hospitalized don’t have the necessary conditions for good care. The patients are being crowded together, with terrible hygiene conditions and bad food, as 14ymedio was able to confirm during a tour of those spaces. Added to this are a lack of medicine and the bad state of the equipment, some of it in a deplorable condition.

Despite the growing number of cases of dengue and zika the water leaks continue to proliferate in many neighborhoods of the city (14ymedio)

In Cienfuegos there are 25 confirmed cases of zika, a virus that causes the appearance of reddish spots on the skin that may be accompanied by mild fever, headache, conjunctivitis, muscular pains, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

In the case of pregnancies, it is believed that zika can cause microcephaly, because of which health authorities warn pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas where the virus is present. In Cienfuegos, so far there have been confirmed 12 pregnant patients.

“The Aedes mosquito reproduces in clean waters. In Cienfuegos we have a precarious situation with the water supply, so people use tanks, buckets, barrels, and whatever they have on hand so that they don’t run out. There are areas where there has been no water for up to 15 days. This is the perfect place for sources to be generated,” warns the doctor.

“Luckily we have a health system that has its faults, but in coverage is very effective, otherwise, the situation would be worse. Until now we have not had to mourn deaths due to dengue or zika,” he added.

Numbers of cases of dengue and zika by area in Cienfuegos. (14ymedio)

Yamilka Portuondo, a Cienfuegos resident who lives in the Buena Vista neighborhood, doesn’t even remember the mosquito bite, but one morning she woke up with fever and her whole body hurt. “It was as if I had been beaten,” she explains. She spent almost a week with high fevers, abdominal pains, and weakness.

“Late at night is when the mosquitos start to go out and no one can escape them. Here there are many water leaks, that’s where they bred,” she says via telephone.

“I was in bed at home for a week. I had to commit to staying in my room with a mosquito net and not going out*. My dengue wasn’t the worst case, because of that a doctor friend of mine let me stay at home, but the majority of people have to go to the hospital,” she comments.

Her family got meat, oil, and vegetables for her diet, a luxury for the poorly supplied local markets. “My family members in Miami sent me a package of food that also helped. Dengue makes the platelets go down a lot, so doctors order a reinforced diet. Without my family I don’t know what I would have done.”

*Translator’s note: Patients can become a link in the transmission chain if uninfected mosquitos bite them, catch the virus, and then pass it on by biting other people.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

After Months Of Testing, The First "Online" Shopping Site In Cuban Pesos Doesn’t Manage To Overcome Faults

Customers complain about the slow download of the page which makes it inconvenient for customers (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, December 13, 2018 — Last summer testing began for online shopping in national money (Cuban pesos, or CUP) in Cuba but the official launch happened this Wednesday in the Caribbean Chain of Stores on 5th and 42, in Miramar. After months of waiting and tests on the web, the first shopping site in CUP, accessible only from within the Island, registers many errors and has set off the complaints of users.

Customers, who must take away the merchandise acquired in a face-to-face manner, have confirmed the slowness of the page, which has suffered successive issues this Wednesday (its first day available) and security risks due to lack of an SSL certificate to guarantee the privacy of bank details entered by users.

Mario, one of those who yesterday was showing his discontent, said that the page “seems to be designed so that people get tired and give up.” He also pointed out that, to choose a product, previewing is very slow. “If they don’t improve it, customers won’t accept it,” he maintains. continue reading

According to its creators, the website will be available at any time of the day, but it will be suspended between 8 and 9 in the morning for maintenance and to update the available products. The products on sale, for the moment, are food, drinks, home goods, and cleaning products, although previously they included others such as electrical appliances, furniture, and hardware.

In this first phase, online shopping is only available in this store in the capital but it is predicted that the service will be extended to at least one store in each province during the first half of 2019, as Marta Mulet Fernández, commercial specialist in the sales department of the Caribbean Chain of Stores, indicated to the official press.

“This service is aimed primarily at the capital’s residents, but if you find yourself in another province of the country you can do the same thing and shop for friends and family from the capital,” she added.

“How lovely, doing shopping for friends in the capital…We peasants for the dear residents of the capital,” mocked another user, visibly annoyed by the privilege for Havana residents.

The head of the sales group of management of the technical market, Aurora Milanés, specified that Camagüey and Holguín would be the next provinces where users would be able to shop virtually.

Mulet Fernández explained that upon accessing the site, a warning appears informing the user that he is entering an unsecured connection because it doesn’t have “a certificate supported by any certification authority… The great majority of these authorities are American and the blockade prevents them from being sent out to .cu domains,” explained the specialist, who added that “the store is designed as a secure portal.”

The executives of the Caribbean Chain of Stores recommend that to shop online the user access it from a computer because the interface is “friendlier” from this device, although it is also possible to do it from a mobile device, a piece of advice that some have criticized, demanding that the company adapt itself to consumers and not the other way around.

To be able to use this page of electronic commerce one needs to use a magnetic card from any banking entity of the country and in national money (CUP), in addition to having one of the service cards for electronic banking (Teleblanca) distributed in the branches of Banco Metropolitano, BANDEC, or BPA.

Another of the users, happy with the launch of the store, wonders nevertheless how one would buy with Telebanca if they are not making cards at the moment. He also complained about the slowness of the website and suggested “a little more RAM and CPU for the server” where the page is housed. “It’s very slow and the images don’t load entirely,” another customer was lamenting.

This morning, after 9:30, the website was not available, as 14ymedio was able to confirm. Upon attempting to access it, the user could see the warning that the site was in “maintenance mode” and that the store would be “temporarily offline.”

Once the shopping is done, the bill and receipt for the transaction are sent via email. The payment system via which the products are purchased is managed by the Company of Information Technologies for Defense (Xedit), as the national press reported when the testing period began in July.

Mulet Fernández explained that for now only the method available for pickup will be in store, always starting 48 hours after the purchase and between 9:30am and 7:00pm from Monday to Saturday. Home delivery will not be available until the end of January and will cost an additional fee, yet to be specified.

Cubans, who for years have had to wait in long lines to shop in the country’s stores, have been thankful for the beginning of this type of sale, but many still wonder what sense there is in shopping from a distance if it’s still necessary to go to the store to pick up the product.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

World Human Rights Day / Rebeca Monzo

Cuban rafters trying to escape Cuba during the Rafter Crisis in January of 1994. (Charlier Trainor, Miami Herald)

Rebeca Monzo, 10 December 2018 — In our country, via the media, the “marvels” of the totalitarian regime are used as propaganda, praising healthcare, which is in total decline, and education, which is the same, as the “banners of socialism.” However, the most important thing that must be respected, human rights, is under the total control and repression of the government, and this what is making more and more citizens emigrate under different circumstances:

Freedom of expression, freedom of communication and free assembly.

These are three of the most important human rights that the regime of the country crushes.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

Bus Accident in Holguin Leaves 3 Dead and 29 Injured

The vehicle, which belongs to the state-owned company Astro, was covering the route from Havana to Mayarí. (TeleCristal)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 2, 2018 — Three dead and 29 wounded have been the outcome of a bus accident that took place at the entrance of Mayarí, in Holguín province. The vehicle, which belongs to the state-owned company Astro, was covering the route from Havana to that eastern town when it overturned around 5:30 in the morning this Wednesday, according to a report from the official press.

The dead have been identified as Diosmaris Mosqueda Castillo, 48 and a resident of Guayabo; Eulalia Sánchez Herrera, 52, a resident of Reparto Juan George Soto; and Ángel Merencio Rondón, from Pueblo Nuevo, all from the province of Holguín.

Another 29 people had to be attended to in the Mártires de Mayarí hospital and are “not in life-threatening danger,” the statement specifies.

Police are investigating the causes of the accident and some witnesses say that the bus, with the registration B 179 793, overturned when the driver “tried to avoid a cyclist and went off the road.”

Traffic accidents are the fifth biggest cause of death in Cuba, where last year a disaster was recorded every 47 minutes, with an average of one death every 12 hours.

In this year’s first trimester, the number of massive accidents in the country shot up in an alarming manner and as of now more than 4,400 deaths by this cause have been reported since 2012, according to official data.

The problem of the many traffic accidents that occur on the Island was addressed by president Miguel Díaz-Canel during a meeting with the Council of Ministers this past July, at which the leader urged concern for the “significant number of deaths and injuries” caused by these events.

On that occasion, the incumbent of Transport, Adel Yzquierdo, cited as principal causes of accidents “social indiscipline,” inadequate signs, the deterioration of roads, and the circulation of vehicles without up to date technical inspections.

In 2017 there were a recorded 11,187 traffic accidents in the country with a toll of 750 deaths and 7,999 injured, according to reports from the National Commission of Road Security.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

_____________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Last Group of Cuban Doctors Arrives from Brazil

One fourth of the doctors who were in Brazil may not have returned from the Island (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 13, 2018 — The last group of Cuban doctors working in Brazil in the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program arrived Wednesday in Havana, where they were received at the bottom of the airplane steps by Raúl Castro and a group of high-ranking functionaries of the Communist Party and the Government, according to national television.

The last group of doctors coming from the South American country arrived on a Cubana de Aviación flight of the withdrawal operation of volunteers, but official media did not specify the number of passengers nor the total sum of public health workers who have returned to the Island.

The last count, publicized on December 9, placed the number of professionals who had returned to the country until that point at 5,853, out of a total of more than 8,300. However, since the publication of that information, the figure has not been updated again. continue reading

Among the arrivals this Wednesday, the doctor Lisbet Fuentes Vargas, from Las Tunas, thanked the Cuban Government for having allowed her to be in Brazil accompanied by her family members. “I had the privilege of having my son and my husband with me there for 3 months.”

Fuentes Vargas also thanks the authorities that allowed her to bring her family with her on the airplane arranged by the Ministry of Public Health since, she insisted, she wouldn’t have been able to do it on “a normal flight.”

This is the first time in which mention has been made of the presence in Brazil of family members of workers, one of the demands of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in order to keep Cubans in the program, in addition to them passing exams to revalidate their degrees in Brazil and collecting their salaries without the mediation of the Island’s Government.

In November the Government of Cuba announced its decision to withdraw its more than 8,300 health workers from the More Doctors program, in response to the intentions of the new Brazilian government to modify the conditions of the agreement. Cubans receive only 30% of their salary in Brazil and the rest goes to authorities in Havana, which Bolsonaro considered “inacceptable.”

Recently in Miami four Cuban doctors sued the Panamerican Health Organization (OPS), which they accuse of having facilitated the “network of human trafficking” and “slavery” that, they consider, was behind the More Doctors program in Brazil.

The More Doctors program was created in 2013 during the mandate of Brazil’s then-president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) with the objective of guaranteeing assistance in the most remote and humble regions of Brazil, now that Brazilians prefer to practice in large cities.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

_____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

US Closes Office In Charge Of Migratory Affairs In Havana

In the picture, the embassy of the United States in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 11, 2018 — The United States has announced the total closure, from December 10, of its office in charge of migratory affairs in Havana. The functions of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be assumed by its office in Mexico, according to a statement from that agency of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

Additionally, the US State Department will assume some of the services that USCIS previously provided in the Cuban capital, in the zone of the Embassy building that is popularly known on the Island as “the American consulate.”

The text, published today, announces the changes that will come into effect starting now and the situation regarding certain procedures. continue reading

“Visa services at the Embassy of the United States in Havana have been almost completely suspended since November of 2017 due to a reduction of personnel as a result of the attacks affecting the health of the employees of the Embassy of the United States in Havana,” explained USCIS in the statement.

The decision jeopardizes US permanent residents who, during a trip to the Island, lose their green cards or their reintry permits to the United States, because as of now they will have to complete the process outside of Cuba.

Applications for asylum and refuge in the United States Embassy are also suspended and Cubans who wish to have recourse to the Cuban Family Reunification Program will also have to travel abroad.

The office will be in contact in the upcoming days with asylum applicants whose applications are already in progress to provide more detail on the new procedures.

USCIS has provided a telephone number (011 53 (7) 839-4100) for those who want more information about their applications on the Island and announced that in the next few hours they will offer more information on the agency’s website.

Although since November of 2017 the US Embassy in Havana had stopped the majority of its visa processing services, it was still processing some procedures such as in emergency cases of US citizens who had lost their passports on the Island, in addition to the visas of Cuban diplomats and a few activists who were planning to travel to that country to study or to participate in events.

The consulate building, which also housed two documentation centers that offered internet access to the public, passed from being a place with a great hustle and bustle of visa applicants to remaining practically empty. Of the businesses in the area that depended on offering bathrooms, food, bag check, and help filling out visa forms online, the majority have closed in the last year.

The days in which John Kerry raised the flag to reopen the United States embassy a few yards away from Havana’s Malecón are long gone. The diplomats have lost almost all contact with the opposition groups and a service of sending news via email from the place’s press office is barely kept up.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

______________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuba Only Has Enough Flour for the Rationed Bread

Line to buy regulated bread that is being sold by rationing. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, December 11, 2018 — The breakdown of mills and the lack of cash flow that Cuba is experiencing have combined to exacerbate the shortage of flour, as was confirmed this Monday by the Minister of the Food Industry, Iris Quiñones Rojas. The small amount of the product that remains on the Island is destined “practically only to guarantee bread for the regulated family basket.”

The head of the sector participated in the Roundtable TV program in a context of growing complaints from consumers and private businesses about the lack of the product in the network of stores all over the Island. Since a few weeks ago the lack of flour has worsened and many products that include this ingredient have stopped being sold.

Quiñones attributed the absence of this raw material to the poor state of the mills meant to process wheat on the Island and explained that since the beginning of the year “the country had to use financial resources that hadn’t been anticipated in the plan in order to import 30,000 tons of flour,” due to a failure to fulfill 70,000 tons from the national plan. continue reading

Until now, the only repair parts that have arrived on the Island have been those for the mill in Santiago de Cuba, whose maintenance work is being done without halting the industry to avoid worse harm. However, the Santiago mill doesn’t have the capacity to supply the entire eastern zone of the country and needs the support of the one in Cienfuegos, which is greatly deteriorated and still hasn’t received its spare parts.

Quiñones recognized that recent days have seen “the most tense moments of the entire year when it comes to the supply” of this ingredient, a situation that has forced business to paralyze a group of other productions, especially in the Cuban Bread Chain, which supplies state-owned stores with sweets and breads to be freely attainable all over the country.

Since the beginning of November flour hasn’t been sold in the country’s stores and it has been difficult to buy, in the state-controlled sector as well as in the private, products like bread, cookies, or sweets. The shortage has shot up prices of flour on the informal market, where it rose from 5 CUP (Cuban pesos) to 25 CUP per pound in the last month. Even so, it’s difficult to find.

This weekend various private business establishments that sell bread were displaying a sign saying “There is no bread” on their counters.

The owner of a private bakery on Calle Tulipán, in Nuevo Vedado, was explaining to her customers this Sunday that it would be the last day of the year that she would open to the public until waiting to see if things got better in January.

The self-employed women explains that she has received almost nothing for the past few weeks and that none of her suppliers “wants to risk himself” by making bread, sweets, or cookies even if they have a reserve of flour because the inspectors “are following them” to see where they got it from.

“They told me that a bag of flour is at a thousand pesos right now on the street,” she says. But in addition to the risk that one assumes to get the product in an illegal manner, she maintains that “it doesn’t support the business… I’m closing and that’s it, because selling meringues and candies, all that brings is loss,” insists the woman while she closes with a padlock the grille of the establishment before leaving.

The cry of a bread vendor in the San Leopoldo neighborhood in Havana used to be heard every afternoon, until a few days ago many private businesses that work with flour have closed up due to the scarcity of the raw material. Those who have managed to keep selling have fewer products and the fear that their reserves will run out before the end of the year, according to testimonies gathered by 14ymedio.

Lorent, a private pizzeria in La Timba, closed due to the lack of flour and now for repairs. (14ymedio)

In La Timba, a low-income area very close to the Plaza of the Revolution, the pizzeria Loren has been closed for three weeks because of the lack of flour. The owners have taken advantage of it to do some repairs in the place and paint the facade, but worries over the future of the business is souring the close of 2018 for them.

Various private restaurants with a menu based on Italian dishes, especially pizza, cannelloni, and lasagna, have also reduced their offerings. The biggest and busiest are still open, but their owners can’t be sure how much longer they will be able to remain open.

In the Havana restaurant Ring Pizza del Vedado they have opted to not offer cannelloni because they prefer to use the flour they have left for making pizzas, which “has a bigger market,” as an employee explained to this newspaper.

Minister Quiñones predicted that the situation would start to improve before the end of the year. “We are working intensely, all the personnel of the milling industry and of the business group, to make sure that normalcy returns,” she pointed out this Monday.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

__________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

A Torrential Downpour Causes Floods in Central Havana and Cerro Areas

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 10, 2018 — A torrential downpour on Sunday afternoon caused floods in zones of Central Havana and Cerro, in Havana. Many residents of the Los Sitios neighborhood were forced to evacuate furniture, electrical appliances, and put the rest of their belongings where they would be safe faced with the advance of the waters, according to reports from residents in the area.

The most affected areas were around Calles Subirana, Árbol Seco, and the vicinity of Santo Tomás. Strong floods were also reported on roads like Amenidad and the vicinity of Manglar, in addition to the rest of the other low zones close to the sports area of Pontón.

“There wasn’t time for anything, the water started to rise suddenly and when we realized it, it was already up to our knees,” Niuris María, a resident of Calle Subirana who had to evacuate along with her two children to the house of some neighbors who live in a high area, recounted via telephone. “We were able to lift the refrigerator onto a table, but our mattresses have gotten wet,” she laments.

When night fell in the neighborhood, the residents of the flooded zones were still bringing furniture and other belongings outside to save them from the waters. “No one has come around here yet and the downpour stopped two hours ago,” complained a young man who along with various friends published photos of the floods on social networks.

“No patrol car, no rescue, nothing,” lamented another young man in a video on YouTube which showed the street behind him covered by water and the residents in the area carrying armchairs and other belongings. The Internet user described how many families suffered losses “of appliances and of everything.”

The residents of this low-lying zone, accustomed to downpours filling the streets with water, have built all types of barriers to keep the water from entering the houses. The majority of those who live on the ground floor have raised the bottom frame of the door and created a small staircase to access the home.

“The water passed over the wall quickly because it rained a lot in very little time,” explains Mario Ricardo, a retiree who lives in the vicinity of Calle Santo Tomás, in one of the zones most affected by the downpour, to 14ymedio. “Since it started to rain we realized that this Sunday we weren’t going to be able to sleep.”

In the early morning, the waters still hadn’t receded from everything and the most affected were waiting for the sun to come out so they could put their belongings out to dry. “This Monday my two children will not be able to go to school because all the clothing got wet and the youngest has a test,” commented another resident to this newspaper. “We hope that it doesn’t rain again in the next few hours so we can recover part of what is wet.”

For this Monday the Meteorology Institute predicted clouds in the western region with some showers and rain, mainly in areas of the northern coast.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

____________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Four Cuban Doctors Ask for Help Getting Refuge in Brazil

The Cuban doctors who have decided to stay in Brazil are being helped by the Order of Lawyers of that country. (O Tempo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 9, 20180 — Four Cuban doctors who were caring for the population of Nova Odessa, a municipality in the state of Sao Paulo, have asked for refuge in Brazil, according to the newspaper O Tempo. The professionals, who were working in the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program, did not obey the call to return to the Island and now are considered “deserters” by Cuba’s Ministry of Health.

The president of the local section of the Order of Lawyers of Brazil (OAB), Alessandre Pimentel, laments that the Cuban doctors who have decided to remain in the country have stayed without the support of the mayors’ offices where they worked and now are knocking on the doors of his organization to ask for help.

“Some cities did farewell dinners for the Cubans, said that they were going to support them, but have turned their backs on those who stayed here,” he explains. “Even those who have started families can’t practice their profession because they are not being readmitted into the More Doctors program and they don’t even have a work permit to try another occupation.” continue reading

Of the eight Cubans who served at the Basic Health Units (UBS) of Nova Odessa, five decided to stay in Brazil, but only one married and regularized her immigration situation. So that they would not be considered illegal, OAB processed the requests for refuge of the other four to the Federal Police in Piracicaba (SP).

“If they are returned to Cuba, they will suffer reprisals,” assures Pimentel. The lawyer also recalls that the Island’s Government punishes the medical collaborators who decide to abandon a mission with an eight year ban on their entering Cuba, and categorizes them as “deserters.”

Liseti Aguilera, one of the Cuban refuge seekers, explains that she wants to revalidate the qualification as a doctor that she obtained in Cuba and work in basic care in Brazil. “I have come with the the greatest good will and I found a friend in the Brazilian people, I really want to stay, but I need work until I can take the examination.”

Suleidys González, another of the Cuban doctors who has decided to remain in the giant South American country, said that she will not return to the Island because of the bonds she managed to establish with the patients she cared for in Nova Odessa. “We are almost like family,” she explains.

In a statement, the town of Nova Odessa informed that they had supplied transportation and escort to the five doctors who have already requested permission to work. The mayor Benjamín Vieira commented that he was in contact with the Ministry of External Relations to discuss the case.

In other cities in the same state of Sao Paulo, the Cubans who married and decided to stay in the country also faced problems. “We are being discriminated against,” insists the doctor Lissete Quiñones. The health professional, based in San Miguel Arcángel, complains that for the open spaces in More Doctors they are prioritizing “Brazilians who were educated abroad and excluding us.”

In November the Cuban Government announced its decision to withdraw its more than 8,300 healthcare collaborators from the More Doctors program, in response to the demands of Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.

The Cubans only received 30% of their salary in Brazil and the rest went to authorities in Havana, which Bolsonaro considered “inacceptable.” The rightwing leader also insisted that the doctors pass exams to revalidate their qualifications in that nation.

Last week in Miami four Cuban doctors sued the Panamerican Organization of Health (OPS), which they accuse of having facilitated the “network of human trafficking” and “slavery” that, they believe, was behind the More Doctors program in Brazil.

“There is an international organization (OPS), affiliated with the United Nations, that turned into the principal force permitting Cuba to export its citizens to perform slave labor in a foreign country,” declared the lawyer Samuel J. Dubbin during a press conference.

The More Doctors program was created in 2013 by then-president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) with the aim of guaranteeing assistance in the most remote and humble regions of Brazil, now that the Brazilian doctors prefer to practice in the large urban centers.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

___________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

"If You Join the Strike, We’ll Confiscate Your Car"

The “boatmen” (private shared-taxi drivers) drove empty through the central Calle 23 in Havana and didn’t stop for passengers, as a sign of protest. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, December 7, 2018 — The Government has pressured private shared-taxi* drivers in Havana not to join a transport strike this Friday in protest of measures that seek to regulate the self-employed sector. The police have threatened to confiscate the vehicles of those drivers who don’t go out to work.

The tension increased among the boteros (literally ‘boatmen’ as private shared-taxi drivers are called) in recent weeks as it was getting close to December 7, when the set of policies begins to take effect. The rules regulate aspects like the purchase of fuel, the routes, and the handling of money, with the requirement to have a bank account in the country.

The uneasiness of the drivers in face of these controls has led them to push various protest initiatives. One of them has been a call to a strike, popularly called El Trancón — “The Great Traffic Jam” — which has been spread among private taxi drivers in Havana and other provinces in the country, to begin this Friday. continue reading

Operation in El Curita park to prevent protests of drivers. (Courtesy)

The government has responded by visiting the leaders of the initiative, arresting some, and threatening the boteros with legal repercussions if they join the strike. Rafael Alba, driver of an almendrón** (pre-1959 era car), who works transporting passengers in Havana, spent almost 24 hours detained in a police station for that reason.

“They told me that if it occurred to me not to go out to work this Friday, they would confiscate my car,” he tells 14ymedio. Alba was interrogated during his arrest about the origin of the call to “The Great Traffic Jam,” with which the drivers are demanding freedom of movement, right to work in the entire country, access to a wholesale market, ability to import parts, and permission to have independent unions, among other demands.

“Now I have a police car in front of my house to check if I go out to work or not,” claims the driver, whose family depends financially on his work. A vehicle like his, made in the 1950s and with successive repairs and adaptations, is valued on the informal market at about 40,000 CUC (roughly $40,000 USD).

Since Thursday morning police operations were notable at the taxi ranks where these drivers regularly come together and along the routes that they travel most frequently. “The city is full of police and guards dressed in civilian clothing controlling all the almendrones that are driving around empty and don’t stop,” a resident of San Miguel del Padrón tells this newspaper. In the downtown park El Curita, in Central Havana, since yesterday afternoon, the presence of police cars and officials was notable, as were State Security agents.

The few cars that passed by were empty and didn’t stop for people who signaled to them. (14ymedio)

Another driver, Ramón, 56, who works on the route between La Víbora and El Vedado, also fears losing his old Ford with seats to transport nine people on each trip. “This Thursday various inspectors came to the vicinity of the Mónaco cinema to warn us that they were going to take measures against those of us who join the strike.”

“They have put all kinds of pressures on us, and they have also promised us that in the next few weeks they will relax the rules a little, but the people don’t believe them because once the measures go into effect, what guarantee do we have that they are going to be thrown out?” questions the driver.

The popular unease led the incumbent of the Ministry of Transport to appear on Thursday evening on the official TV Roundtable program,along with other functionaries from the sector. Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez avoided referring to the strike of private boteros and dedicated the greater part of his appearance to speaking about the presumptive measures that are approaching for national transport.

Yzquierdo Rodríguez assured that before the year ends, 400 12-seater microbuses will arrive on the island and 90 buses that will add to passenger transport. The official also assured that 80 buses that were in a poor state have been repaired in the capital.

National transport is going through a profound crisis that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the end of the last century, but has had moments of improvement like the years in which the government of Hugo Chávez sent around 110,000 barrels of petroleum to the Island each day, a part of which were destined for resale on the international market.

With the hardships that the Cuban economy is currently going through, one of the first signs of deterioration has been the elimination of public transport routes, the reduction in the number of available buses, and the continuous breakdowns due to lack of spare parts.

Private drivers have taken advantage of the void left by the state system and currently are an essential sector for moving Cubans from one place to another on any part of the Island. From horse-drawn carriages, to the old pre-Revolution almendrones of the last century, to the more modern and climate-controlled vehicles, self-employed taxis are vital for the Island not to become paralyzed.

Cars went in the left lane instead of the right, where they usually wait for passengers. (14ymedio)

However, the minister of Transport detailed that in the first obligatory inspection that these vehicles were submitted to all over the country to obtain the technical circulation certification, only 32% of the cars inspected passed, although currently that figure has risen to 62%.

The vice minister of Transport, Marta Oramas, added that until the end of November 2,167 licenses had been taken away from private taxi drivers because of the bad conditions of their cars, out of a total of 6,119 private title-holders.

During the Roundtable broadcast none of the invited officials advanced the possibility of softening the regulations of the set of policies or of a possible moratorium. Nor did they permit a representative from the private sector to speak.

Translator’s notes:

*The vehicles operate in fixed-route shared service, picking up and dropping off passengers who stand along the route and flag them down. 

**The word “almendrón” refers to the ’almond’ shape of the classic American cars commonly used in this service.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

___________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for accompanying us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Taking Care of Children and Then Grandchildren

The role played by older people increases when one of their children emigrates. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernández, Havana, November 29, 2018 — Preparing snacks, picking up the girls after classes, and staying on top of keeping the school uniforms clean. A good part of the daily routine of Clara Rojos, 74, is focused on her two granddaughters, aged 10 and 11, who she has taken care of since their mother emigrated to Miami. From there she is trying to bring them over via a family reunification process that has taken more than five years.

Clara Rojas is “mother and father” to the two girls, as she explains to 14ymedio. In parks, outside schools, and in the vicinity of childcare centers, it is common to see these gray-haired heads accompanying minors. Sometimes they do it to help out the rest of the family, but in other cases they are the only support these children have.

According to an investigation conducted by the Law Faculty of Marta Abreu University, in Villa Clara, currently Cuba includes “more grandparents in the raising of grandchildren, now that, in general, both parents have a lot of work and social activity, and they spend little time with their children.” The role played by older people increases when one of their children emigrates. continue reading

For Clara Rojas, being in charge of her two granddaughters brings her many advantages and a “mountain of problems.” “I get up every day and I have the energy to go on because I can’t leave them alone,” she says. A study carried out in Germany indicates that elderly people who on an occasional or permanent basis take care of their grandchilren “tend to live longer than the elderly who don’t take care of other people.”

However, the diligent grandmother recognizes that she is a little old to share with the girls certain passions, like using new technologies, “listening to reggaeton, or helping them with their math homework.” She calculates that in the next three years, when the girls reunite with their family in Florida, she will have time to dedicate to herself and “do a bunch of unresolved things” that right now she can’t do because she doesn’t have the time.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey

_____________________________

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.