The United States Will Launch an Initiative in Favor of Cuban Political Prisoners at the UN

The UN states that there are approximately 130 political prisoners detained by the Cuban government. (Video capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 13 October 2018 – The United States Mission to the United Nations and the Office of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will launch a campaign on behalf of Cuban political prisoners, according to a statement from the US State Department.

’Imprisoned for what?’ Will be the title of the speech by Ambassador Kelley E. Currie, United States Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council next Tuesday, on the difficult situation faced by the island’s political prisoners.

“The approximately 130 political prisoners detained by the Cuban government are an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the regime and represent a flagrant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support,” denounced the text. continue reading

Washington asserts that the situation of human rights in Cuba forms part of the priorities of the current Administration.

After Ambassador Currie’s speech, Ambassador Michael Kozak will speak, moderating a discussion that will also include the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro.

The event will be open to the press and will be broadcast live through this link.

In June of this year, the independent Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) denounced that there were around 120 political prisoners on the island at the time. The independent entity said that this figure “is very difficult to arrive at as the government of Cuba does not cooperate” with international organizations.

In March 2016 during the visit of US President Barack Obama to Cuba, a foreign journalist questioned Raúl Castro at a press conference about the existence of political prisoners on the island. “Give me the list of political prisoners right now to release them. Mention it now,” the ruler responded.

Castro, who traditionally did not answer questions from the national or international press, was visibly annoyed by the question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

Amnesty International argues that the Government of Havana uses ambiguous legal terms to punish dissidents.

“The laws that typify ’public disorder’, ’contempt’, ’lack of respect’, ’dangerousness’ and ’aggression’ are used to prosecute or threaten to prosecute, for political reasons, opponents of the government”, Amnesty International indicated in a report on Cuba.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Journalist Serafín Morán Receives Political Asylum in the US

The reporter had to overcome a long judicial process to prove that his life was in danger inside the Island. (Courtesy of  Serafín Morán Santiago)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | October 12, 2018 — US authorities have granted political asylum to independent journalist Serafín Morán after six months in a detention center in Pearsall, Texas, according to Cubanet. The reporter had to overcome a long judicial process to prove that his life was in danger inside the Island.

Morán Santiago had been detained in the US since April after requesting political asylum at the border with Mexico, claiming that he was the victim of constant repression in his country for his journalism work. In August, an immigration judge denied bail to the reporter, who had to wait in the Office of Detention and Deportation (ICE) for the hearing where his case was heard this October.

During the months of waiting, Fundamedios and Reporters Without Borders (RWB) expressed their concern about the eventual deportation to Cuba of the 40-year-old reporter. Both organizations feared an increase in the “persecution by the government of the island against him,” said María Fernanda Egas, a journalist with Fundamedios, an organization that defends press freedom in the United States. continue reading

Margaux Ewen, the director of RWB North America, emphasized at that time that “deportation to Cuba (for Morán Santiago), where independent journalists are threatened and harassed by the authorities, is not an option.” Ewen explained to this newspaper that the reporter had demonstrated “a credible fear of returning to Cuba.”

In May of 2017 Morán Santiago was summoned to appear before the Municipal Court of Arroyo Naranjo, in Havana, accused of “simulation of crime,” that is, making a false accusation. The accusation was related to a denunciation made by the reporter against the police officers who allegedly detained him when he got off a bus in Havana.

The journalist said he was arrested by the State Security in the province of Sancti Spíritus on June 3, 2016, and transferred to Havana in a bus “after seven hours of detention.”

In July of the following year, Morán Santiago managed to enter the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana and interviewed Daniel Llorente, the activist who displayed a United States flag during the parade on May 1 (International Workers’ Day) in the Plaza of the Revolution.

Last April, Reporters Without Borders ranked Cuba 172nd out of 180 nations, in terms of press freedom, the worst rating on the continent.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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Bus Overturns in Cienfuegos and Leaves 20 Wounded

The injured in the Provincial Hospital Gustavo Aldereguía Lima waiting for relatives. (Juan Carlos Dorado / September 5)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio (with information from agencies), Havana, 9 October 2018 – A bus overturned on Monday in the city of Cienfuegos injuring 20 people, state media reported.

The injured were treated at the Gustavo Aldereguía provincial hospital in Cienfuegos, where none of them were reported seriously hurt, but will remain under observation for a few hours waiting to be evaluated by a medical panel to determine their progress, according to the local newspaper 5 de septiembre.

One of the injured was assessed code “red”, because he suffered post-traumatic stress caused by the accident and a heart condition, hospital sources indicated. continue reading

The accident occurred in the vicinity of the fishing port, when the bus was returning from its usual route between the psychiatric hospital and Villuendas Park. According to a preliminary ruling, the vehicle was traveling on the wet pavement with excessive speed and skidded, went off the road and, when the driver tried to get back on it, overturned.

According to the account of the bus driver, Ramón Vallejo, on state television, the incident occurred when he was passing through an area where there are a lot of potholes. “Before reaching a curve the bus slid on me, the steering got hard and at that moment I felt the bus starting to twist around,” he said.

The vehicle was taken from the scene of the accident and is currently being examined by police experts investigating the causes of the incident.

Traffic accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in Cuba, where last year there was an accident every 47 minutes, averaging one death every 12 hours.

In the first quarter of this year, the number of mass accidents has soared alarmingly in the country and more than 4,400 deaths have been reported due to this cause since 2012, according to official data.

The problem of the numerous traffic accidents that occur on the island was addressed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel during a meeting with the Council of Ministers last July, in which the president urged all to be concerned about the “significant number of deaths and injuries” caused by these events.

On that occasion, the Minister of Transportation, Adel Yzquierdo, cited “social indiscipline”, inadequate signaling, detiorated roads and the operation of vehicles without current inspections as the main causes of accidents.

In 2017, 11,187 traffic accidents were recorded in the country, leaving a total of 750 dead and 7,999 injured, according to reports from the National Road Safety Commission.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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Daniel Santovenia is Freed After 27 Years in a Cuban Prison

Daniel Santovenia in a recent photo.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 October — Daniel Santovenia was released this Saturday after 27 years in prison, according to the writer Angel Santiesteban who confirmed it in his Facebook account. The opponent of the regime was captured in 1991 when he arrived clandestinely in Cuba to start a campaign of sabotage on the island.

“As of today he will no longer sleep while imprisoned, except inside the big prison that is the island of Cuba,” wrote Santiesteban on his wall of that social network. “We hope that soon he will be truly free when he arrives in Miami”, he added.

63 years old, Santovenia Fernandez was sentenced to 30 years and spent 22 years in common cells, while for another five he was interned in a “minimum security” camp, according to the Martí News website. continue reading

The arrest of Santovenia Fernández occurred on December 29, 1991 near the city of Cárdenas, in Matanzas, when he arrived on a boat from Miami. He was accompanied by Pedro Álvarez Pedroso and Eduardo Díaz Betancourt and during the capture the agents found weapons and ammunition.

The three detainees were sentenced to death, but in the case of Santovenia Fernández and Álvarez Pedroso the maximum sentence was commuted.

Daniel Santovenia was captured in 1991 when he arrived clandestinely in Cuba to start a sabotage campaign. (OCDH)

Diaz Betancourt appeared in images before the court reading from a notebook that was found on him containing the names and addresses of three well-known opponents, Gustavo and Sebastián Arcos and Yanes Pelletier, members of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights ( CCPDH). Shortly thereafter pro-government picket lines surrounded the houses of the Arcos brothers shouting insults and slogans.

The three members of the CCPDH were associated with the case by the Ministry of the Interior, according to Cuban television, and were arrested hours before the announcement of the sentences.

Petitions for clemency to commute the death penalty of the three defendants came not only from the US Government, which denied any connection to the alleged terrorist mission, but also from the then presidents of Nicaragua and Spain, Violeta Chamorro and Felipe González.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, based in Havana, also made repeated calls to improve the prison conditions of the two convicts who avoided the firing squad. However, Díaz Betancourt was executed on January 20, 1992.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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 Will Issue Stamps with Fidel Castro Despite Legal Prohibition

Stamp to be issued in the Island to commemorate the relations between Cuba and North Korea. (123rf.com)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 4 October 2018 – Next week Cuba will issue the first stamp dedicated to Fidel Castro since the death of the former leader almost two years ago, according to reports from the state entities Correos de Cuba (Cuba’s Post Office) and the Federación Filatélica (Philatelic Federation) speaking to media in Havana.

A month after the death of the former leader, in November of 2016, the National Assembly of People’s Power unanimously approved a bill which prohibited marketing Fidel’s image and the use of his name in public spaces, but this has not prevented the post office from publishing a new stamp. continue reading

The stamp dedicated to Fidel will be part of a postal series dedicated to emblematic patriots of Cuba — among them José Martí, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Ignacio Agramonte and the Maceo family — whose inaugural printing will take place on Tuesday October 9 in the city of Bayamo, in Granma provinces, the entities told the ruling party newspaper Trabajadores (Workers).

The series will be issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the October 10, 1868 uprising, which marked the beginning of the struggles for Cuban independence from Spain.

Born in 1926, Fidel Castro governed Cuba from the 1959 Revolution until he fell ill in 2006, when he left power in the hands of his brother Raúl, and he died a decade later on November 25, 2016.

The first stamps with a young Fidel date from shortly after the Revolution as part of the state’s policy to support the cult of personality of the leader, but since his death no stamps had been issued with the face that exercised absolute power in Cuba during more than four and a half decades.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Artemisa, The Clandestine Dairy of Cuba

The transportation of fresh milk becomes difficult for many. (S. Cipido)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 1 October 2018 — The train arrives in Havana from San Antonio de los Baños and dozens of passengers disembark with boxes, briefcases and plastic bags. Among them are sellers of cheese, yogurt and fresh milk for the capital city, foods that are tightly controlled by the government and that will have been sold door to door before the sun goes down.

Artemisa province is the principal supplier of dairy products to the black market in Havana. From the glass of milk that many families have for breakfast to a good portion of the cheese used by private pizzerias, it all comes from that vast plain of red earth that has been called the garden of Cuba because of the fertility of its soils.

Osmani Cepero, 32, who lives in Artemisa, is considered a “master cheesemaker” after two decades of experience in the production of that much desired food. “I started together with my father and I have already trained my own children in these tasks,” says the producer, who every month manages to extract from his kitchen a dozen cheeses “some fresh and others more cured,” he says. He sells most of of them to restaurants, coffee shops and private homes. continue reading

“The problem is that cheese is a product with high demand but it is only sold in stores in hard currency or in some state stores in Cuban pesos,” says Cepero. “The farmers are strictly forbidden from selling it because it is a monopoly of the State.”

In the network of Cuban stores, one kilogram of Gouda-style cheese, imported from Poland, Germany or Canada, can cost up to 9 CUC (cuban convertible pesos, worth roughly $1 US each), while the product that Cepero manufactures is sold at 2 CUC per kilo. “Of course, the difference is brutal and that is why many self-employed people prefer to buy from us.”

However, the State has established strict controls over milk production in the area and the farmers are obliged to sell most of their milking to the government. “We’re just supposed to keep the amount we need for our own consumption,” Cepero says.

At the end of last year there were just over 4 million head of cattle in the island and, in 2016, 425 million liters of milk were produced, 12% more than in 2015 but still far from the figures needed to relaunch a sector that suffered hard with the fall of the socialist camp and the economic crisis of the 90s.

Last August, while transporting five cheeses hidden in several boxesin a cart, a police officer stopped Cepero and asked for an explanation. The encounter resulted in a fine and the confiscation of the cheeses. “I lost weeks of work but I came out of it OK since they did not search the house to take the rest away.”

In San Antonio de los Baños the yogurt production business has turned into a real industry of preparation, gathering of packaging, transportation and sale.

The entire family of Ernestina, 58 years old, works in the alternate production of yogurt. “We begin by collecting the liter and a half bottles, those that people call cucumbers, and in which we package the product,” she explains to this newspaper. “Before, we also sold fresh milk but the yogurt stands up better to transport.”

Ernestina’s clients are, for the most part, residents of San Antonio de los Baños and Havana with small children or elderly people in the family. “This helps them complete breakfast or have a snack,” she explains. “We have many buyers who are parents of children over 7 years of age who are no longer given milk by the rationed market.”

The milk that is distributed to the smallest ones comes, for the most part, from the private producers of the area and also from the state dairy farms. The island has about 120,000 ranchers, but their work is hampered by inclement weather, such as hurricanes and drought, instability in the supply of feed or technical problems such as poor refrigeration, which causes much milk to be lost between the producer and its arrival at the dairies.

Artemiseños complain that the rationed milk “each time it comes, it is more watered down because the owners of the cows adulterate it to meet delivery quotas but keep a bit for private business,” assures Ernestina. For a liter of milk, the State pays a producer a price that ranges between 0.15 and 0.18 CUC, while in the black market  the same amount can sell for approximately 0.50 CUC.

Next to the road that leads to San Antonio de los Baños, a young man holds in his hand a large cheese of about five pounds. “This is quite cured and has a lot of demand among people who make pizzas,” explains the artemiseño. Resident of a nearby farm, the family is totally dedicated to this production.

“In this area you live off the cheese, the yogurt and the guava bars that are offered at the edge of the road,” he explains. “Those who have more luck have already made contacts to sell their goods directly to the owners of restaurants.” Others “get on the train once or twice a week to sell in Havana.”

The train can be a real rat trap in the days of police operations. “There are many controls and when the guards see someone with very large briefcases, they quickly search them,” says the young man. “Of every ten cheeses that we make, we are losing two or three because of confiscations.”

Neverhteless, despite the risks, countless pounds of cheese, bottles of yogurt and liters of fresh milk arrive daily in the Cuban capital. “Artemisa is the dairy of Cuba,” says the young man, “a clandestine dairy, but a dairy.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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 Remains of the Energy Revolution

A sign outside an appliance repair shop clarifies that it does not accept televisions or refrigerators with “adaptations.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 27 September 2018 – The TV in the  living room arrived 13 years ago at Carlota’s house, during the same days that her youngest grandson was born. Now, the teenager has a girlfriend, but the old Panda brand device sometimes turns on and sometimes not. “It’s a headache  because very few workshops have parts,” laments the retired woman, who at the beginning of this century benefited from one of the last campaigns promoted by Fidel Castro, the Energy Revolution.

During the years that the offensive against high-consumption household appliances lasted, the government distributed, with installment payments and bank credit facilities, refrigerators, energy-saving light bulbs, Chinese-made air conditioners and televisions. “I spent more than five years paying for it and although it was a great sacrifice I managed it”, says Carlota, while recalling that time when “it seemed that the country was going to progress quickly”. continue reading

Beginning in 2005, the Energy Revolution mobilized thousands of people to inventory all the equipment that consumed kilowatts excessively. The social workers, a shock troop created by Castro himself and responding directly to his orders, joined the task and listed old American-made refrigerators that had conserved the food of hundreds of thousands of families for more than half a century throughout the Island.

At least 2.5 million refrigerators were replaced and few incandescent bulbs were saved from that offensive, in which most were replaced by compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). The authorities assured that this change meant an annual saving of 354 million kWh, equivalent to between 3% and 4% of the total electricity consumed in Cuba.

The fans also got their turn. The Electric Union (UNE) reported that 1.04 million of these devices were exchanged, especially those that were the fruit of popular ingenuity that, in order to cool a room, were adapted from old Soviet washing machine motors by attaching blades, a device which could waste more than 100 watts to run, almost triple what a modern device consumes.

The televisions became a symbol of that technological renovation and Carlota felt proud when she went to buy hers. However, shortly thereafter flat screen devices came to the black market and stores that accept convertible pesos and “these devices were devalued,” she acknowledges. The daughter of the pensioner bought a more modern TV for her room and Carlota’s Panda began to break frequently.

Private repairmen kept changing the parts of the apparatus. Many patches were made so it could still be watched but left the TV “rejected by the state workshops where they do not accept those that have ’adaptations’, laments the woman. The last time she tried to have it repaired, a technician sarcastically told her she should “throw away the Panda and buy a Samsung.” Although for that Carlota knows that she will have to pay “in cash with convertible pesos and without any little poster of the Energy Revolution”.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Three Opposition Organizations Describe the Referendum on Constitutional Reform as "Enormous Fraud"

Opposition organizations ask citizens to denounce the “farce” of the Constitutional Referendum. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 September 2018 — The United Antitotalitarian Forum (FANTU) together with the National Front of Civic Resistance “Orlando Zapata Tamayo” (FNRC-OZT) and the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) describe the referendum on constitutional reform as a “huge electoral and media fraud” in a joint statement that the three opposition organizations have launched to make clear their position in this debate.

The signatories affirm that the intention of “the Neo-Raulista dictatorship” is “to appear to change something that, in reality, does not change anything.”

They explain in their statement that there exists differences in the methodologies of the opposition and civil society contrary to the “totalitarianism of the military junta that misgoverns” the nation. These positions range from “total indifference, to voting No in the plebiscite (…) passing through publicly burning the Constitutional Project (…) or providing civic seminars to citizens” and they assert that all of these “should be respected.” continue reading

The three organizations believe that it is their “patriotic obligation” to find points of agreement to ensure that these differences are not taken advantage of by the “common enemy: Castroism,” that is why they are sending an invitation “to other pro-democratic opposition leaders or intellectual personalities and independent Cuban politicians, residents both in exile and internally” to join this initiative.

Aware of the damage to the movement caused by the lack of unity demonstrated during decades, the creators of the declaration summon all to look with understanding on their differences, but ask the “distinct anti-Castro actors” to defend their points of view focusing their criticisms on the Government and not on those who fight against it.

“As the Cuban patriots that we are and fighters for freedom and democracy, we are obliged not to give weapons to our enemies,” they demand.

In the document a “unifying phrase” is set forth as “the essence of this joint declaration” and says: “Cubans: do not let Castrismo become legitimate, do not act with indifference to the fraud of the new draft of the Constitution of the Republic, and take action to denounce it as the brazen farce that it is.”

They also propose “to the different civic players (inside and outside of Cuba)” that  they maintain “a level of ethics with respect to their pronouncements regarding the different ways to fight against the Constitution project of the Republic of Cuba.”

Guillermo Coco Fariñas, José Daniel Ferrer and Jorge Luis García Antúnez put their signatures on the declaration, each representing their organizations, FANTU, UNPACU and FNRC-OZT, respectively.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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 Greatness and Decadence of the United States

A Honduran family fled to the United States because gangs threatened to kill them one by one if they did not submit to extortion. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami | 17 September 2018 — A humble Honduran lady came to Miami to visit her family. All had fled their country in order to save their lives. One of her sons, a hardworking and decent young man, was assassinated with 38 stab wounds. In Honduras, her daughter was a good teacher and her son-in-law was a high-ranking official of a credit institution. Her three grandchildren were (and are) magnificent students. The gangs threatened to kill them one by one if they did not submit to extortion.

They decided to escape to Miami. The teacher today works as an aide in various homes. The accountant works in construction. It is a variant of the beginning of the American dream. Fortunately, the United States granted them asylum. This happened before Jeff Sessions declared that his country would not take into account the risk of losing your life as a sufficient reason to request asylum and protection from Washington. To me, frankly, I can not think of a more valid explanation to flee from a nation in which you were comfortably installed.

The Honduran matriarch admired the economic picture she found. “We live here like the rich live in Honduras,” she said. And then she explained why. They rent a comfortable house (in a clean and modest neighborhood) with three bedrooms and a bathroom that has hot and cold water. The house has electricity, telephone, TV, air conditioning and internet. They are paying for two small used Japanese cars, also with air conditioning, because they need them to work. continue reading

Everyone eats and dresses reasonably well. They have cell phones and, as they know how to save, have even gone on vacation for a week inside the country. The boys study at a good public high school and the girl, who is the oldest of the youthful trio, does so at Miami Dade College, where she has not gone unnoticed by the educated eye of educator Eduardo Padrón, President of that enormous state university, the largest in the country with more than 160,000 students. She is one of the best. She wants to be a doctor and she will achieve it someday. She has a surplus of talent and tenacity.

The United States was already the largest economy on the planet at the beginning of the 20th century. How did it do it? There is no other secret: it is a country of laws and institutions and not of people. The independent nation surged with the industrial revolution and has grown and expanded little by little, at the rate of 2% per year for two and a half centuries, with the exception of the four years of the Civil War. The thirteen apprehensive states that declared independence, with just under 4 million inhabitants, today are 50 states and have 327 million people unequally distributed in a territory that is 6 times larger than the original.

Never has humanity lived better. Never has it lived longer and with more comforts. It is worth reading Steven Pinker’s books to contrast the data. All the reasoned information is there. The hard-working Honduran family participates in the accumulated American wealth (buildings, roads, sewers, bridges, parks, etc.) and the potential wealth that depends on intangible factors (institutions, rule of law, values and shared principles).

Someday, of course, the United States will no longer be at the head of the planet. It has always happened like that. The history of Greece, Rome, Spain, France, Germany and England proves it. China will probably replace the American nation. It is all in combining military power with technological and economic power. It’s possible it may discover a more efficient way to kill human beings than nuclear war. If this happens, maybe they will use it. It will happen in the middle of this century. I hope we old ones won’t live to see it.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

28 Cubans Captured Tying to Cross Honduras Without Documents

Honduras is part of the so-called “Central American corridor” through which thousands of undocumented immigrants try to reach US territory. (Honduran Police)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 13 September 2018 — Honduran authorities reported Wednesday the capture of 28 undocumented immigrants from Cuba who were trying to cross their country in order to reach the southern border of the United States.

In an initial police operation, 19 immigrants from Congo, 17 Cubans, 6 Haitians and three from Ghana were arrested. According to the National Inter-Agency Security Force (Fusina), the migrants’ objective was to reach the United States but they were arrested for “illegally circulating” in Honduran territory on Tuesday in the sector of Guasaule, on the border with Nicaragua.

The immigrants were taken to the National Institute of Migration’s facilities in Choluteca, in the south of the country, where they will be able to apply for a permit to cross Honduras, otherwise they will be returned to their home countries. In the case of the Cubans, the majority are able to obtain permission, according to several testimonies of immigrants collected by 14ymedio. continue reading

In Bucana, another area of Honduras bordering Nicaragua, authorities also detained another group of immigrants, including 11 Cubans.

According to official data, during 2018 the Honduran authorities have detained more than 1,400 foreigners in their territory.

The arrests of Cubans take place in the context of the second round of migratory talks held in Tegucigalpa. The Cuban authorities indicated their interest in signing a memorandum of understanding in this matter to “stimulate and guarantee the mobility of people in a regular, orderly and safe manner”. The delegation from Havana was also interested in “enhancing cooperation between both nations in the fight against irregular migration, human trafficking and migrant trafficking.”

Honduras is part of the so-called “Central American corridor” by which thousands of undocumented immigrants try to reach US territory. Despite the end of the policy of wet foot/dry foot, which granted legal status to Cubans who reached the United States border, thousands of the islanders continue to make these dangerous journeys in order to seek political asylum.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

"Here We Haven’t Asked for Anything"

Like every other September, parents participated in an assembly to apportion responsibilities and conduct the necessary collections of money. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 6 September 2018 – “Here we haven’t asked for anything” was the most repeated phrase during the parents’ first meeting of the year in an elementary school in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, in Havana. The emphatic clarification, accompanied by gestures with eyes and hands that seemed to negate it, was made by the teacher after the authorities of the Ministry of Education called on their employees to not demand resources and money from parents in order to shore up the material precariousness of the classrooms.

Like every other September, the parents participated in an assembly to apportion responsibilities and conduct the necessary collections of money that allows for  purchases from fans to cleaning supplies. However, unlike other years, teachers were warned by their directors that they could not participate in the appeals for, or in the organization of this aid. “You already know that I cannot be here when you collect money, so act like I don’t know about it,” the teacher warned. continue reading

For decades, and in view of the deterioration that public education has suffered on the island, it has become common practice for families to finance part of the resources used collectively in the classroom. These contributions are not only used to buy brooms or trash cans, but also to pay people who clean the classrooms “under the table”. Some of the money can also end up in the hands of the teachers to “stimulate” them to continue with their work despite the low salaries.

Faced with constant criticisms and denunciations motivated by this situation, the Ministry of Education decided to cut it off, but not by prohibiting the parental aid, but by appealing to the ostrich technique. “As I do not know, then it is not my responsibility,” opined the overwhelmed educator in front of those who calculated the amount of money that each household would have to give. “That is your thing and I cannot get involved,” the teacher repeated, but everyone understood that it was a formality to save her from liability.

“She knows that without this money it would be very difficult to keep a functioning classroom, but instead of giving her more resources now the Ministry tells her to look the other way,” criticized a grandmother. “This support will now be more clandestine, but it will continue,” said the lady who was already preparing to hand over about 10 CUC (convertible peso) in the coming weeks.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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 Policeman, Rafter and Now Confessed Murderer of Two Women in the United States

The bodies of Angie and Elizabeth Rodriguez Rubio, granddaughter and grandmother respectively, were found in Shenandoah National Park. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario J. Pentón / Manuel Mons, Miami | 6 September 2018 – Cuban police captain Hareton Jaime Rodríguez Sariol, who arrived as a rafter in the United States in 2016, is the main suspect in the death of Elizabeth Rodríguez Rubio and her granddaughter, Angie Carolina, whose bodies were found in Shenandoah National Park, in the state of Virginia.

Harrisonburg police confirmed to 14ymedio this Thursday the finding of the bodies of the two Colombians, aged 48 and 12 years, missing since August 5.

In exchange for his cooperation in leading the police to the location of the victims’ bodies, the Cuban will avoid the death penalty. continue reading

Sariol faces a grand jury indictment in Rockingham County on September 17 and could receive a 20-year prison sentence for each crime or life imprisonment.

Elizabeth and Angie were last seen at Dukes Plaza in Harrisonburg on Sunday, August 5. Rodriguez Sariol was going to take them to his home in Maryland, but they never got there. The police issued an alert, on August 7, for the missing child and her grandmother.

The vehicle in which Rodriguez Sariol was driving both women, a red Honda Civic, was found on fire on Interstate 66. After this the suspect drove a 2000 Volvo truck on August 6 and 7 to different parts of the country. Rodriguez Sariol was arrested in Lackawanna, Pa. “The captain was madly in love with that woman and was obsessed with her,” said a source close to the Cuban police officer.

Rodríguez Sariol came to the United States in April 2016 aboard a raft with 25 other emigrants when the wet foot/dry foot policy was still in effect, which granted refuge to all Cubans who stepped on US territory.

The video that recounts part of his journey went viral on social networks because he and another officer, Michel Herrera, arrived wearing their National Revolutionary Police uniforms.

As they said at the time, they did not take off their uniforms in order to avoid being detained when they were moving the boat to the coast in Cuban territory.

“The Captain,” as he is called by his acquaintances due to his rank while in the National Directorate of Transit in Cuba, denied having repressed dissidents or participated in acts of repudiation against the opposition in several interviews given to the South Florida media.

The rafters left Guanabo, east of Havana and were at sea for more than 30 hours before reaching the United States. Once in the country, Rodriguez Sariol received help from the Government and settled in Virginia.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Cubans and Venezuelans Among The Most Detained and Expelled From Panama

A group of Cuban migrants in Canoa Passages (Panama) during the 2015 crisis. (EFE /Marcelino Rosario)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, 6 September 2018 – More than 100 Cubans have been expelled from Panama so far this year, according to figures revealed by the National Immigration Service to 14ymedio.

Cubans occupy fifth place in the number of nationals expelled, deported or voluntarily returned, surpassed only by Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

According to the National Migration Service’s explanation to this newspaper “the deportation of Cuban citizens maintained an upward form in the months of May (13), June (17), July (18) and August (27), while the largest amount of expulsions of the islanders thus far in 2018, occurred during the month of May. continue reading

The authorities added that the main causes for expulsions are irregular stay and residency in the country and the expiration of visas.

“The foreigner who has been deported may not enter the country for a period of 5 to 10 years,” warns the National Immigration Service.

298 Cubans with irregular status in Panama have been arrested thus far this year. According to official statistics, Cubans occupy second place in the number of arrests only behind Colombia, a border country, and Venezuela, which is experiencing an unprecedented exodus.

Panama, along with Costa Rica, are countries of transit for thousands of Cubans who come to the United States border every year seeking refuge. In 2016, both countries were the epicenter of a crisis when thousands of Cubans were stranded in their territories. After an agreement with Mexico and economic aid from the United States, more than 9,000 Cubans were transported on two airlifts to the southern border of the United States.

In January 2017, a few days before the end of his term, President Barack Obama put an end to the wet foot /dry foot policy, which provisionally welcomed Cubans arriving in the United States. Although the number of Cuban migrants to the United States dropped drastically, thousands continue arriving at the border to ask for political asylum. Some Latin American countries have experienced a rapid increase in Cuban emigration.

Panama is also one of the main destinations for “mules”, Cubans who travel legally to buy products and resell them in the island’s large black market. So far this year more than 25,600 entries have been recorded coming from Cuba.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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 Rafters Rescued on the High Seas

Cuban rafters being repatriated by the United States Coast Guard. (EFE /Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 5 September 2018 – A Norwegian Cruise Line ship rescued and handed over to the authorities this Sunday four Cuban-born rafters, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to 14ymedio.

After leaving Miami, and about 40 miles from Key West, the cruise ship found four people in danger who “were safely and immediately taken to the medical installation of the ship for evaluation and were provided with clothing and food.” continue reading

The Bahamian Maritime Authority and the Coast Guard were informed by the captain of the vessel, who received instructions to disembark the rescued people at the port of Costa Maya, making them available to the Mexican authorities.

“We are very proud of our team for executing a successful rescue of these people,” said the Norwegian Cruise Line spokesman.

After the end of the dry foot/wet foot policy in 2017, which allowed Cubans who reached dry land in the United States to legally reside in the country with protective measures, the number of people who throw themselves into the sea fleeing Cuba has decreased drastically.

I am currently on Norwegian Getaway and some passengers noticed a flash in the middle of the ocean. They then told the cruise workers and they stopped and it turned out to be four people from Cuba which they rescued. Other videos coming now @OfficialJoelF pic.twitter.com/nc6XeaQis5

— Pico (@alberto__rpr) 4 de septiembre de 2018

Since last October 1st, 331 Cubans have tried to emigrate to the United States by sea compared to the 1,989 recorded in the entire 2017 fiscal year, according to figures from the Coast Guard

The authorities have warned that all Cubans who try to enter the country clandestinely, either via the land border or by crossing the Straits of Florida, will be returned to the island.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.

Dissident Group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) Denounces 23 Arrests this Sunday in Cuba

Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, is arrested during a demonstration in Havana. (Damas de Blanco)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 27 August 2018 – The Cuban dissident movement Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) denounced on Monday the “harassment” by authorities and the temporary detention of 23 of its members in Havana and the western province of Matanzas, after attending Sunday Mass in different churches or upon leaving their homes.

In Matanzas 17 women were arrested as were six others in Havana, including the leader of the opposition group, Berta Soler.

Soler explained that for more than two years the authorities have not allowed the women to reach the Santa Rita Church in Havana, where the group attended mass weekly since its formation in 2003, and at the conclusion of services demonstrated for the release of political prisoners on the island. continue reading

Given these circumstances, she explained that they decided to attend different churches separately, but often cannot do so because they are unable to evade police operations such as the one routinely held Thursday through Sunday around  the headquarters of the Ladies in White in the Lawton neighborhood, in the capital city.

Soler described as “terrible” the current situation of the Ladies in White because they are not allowed to exercise their “rights of expression” and said that the “harassment” against its members is on-going.

In addition, she denounced that four women from the group are imprisoned, among them Martha Sánchez, sentenced to five years in prison August 21 for “public disorder, resistance and attack” after having protested in front of a polling place in the general elections held in March.

She remarked that, in the cases of Nieves Matamoros and Yolanda Santana, they were sentenced to one year in prison for non-payment of fines and a fourth detainee is awaiting trial.

Berta Soler (b. 1963, Matanzas, Cuba) is one of the founders of the Ladies in White movement that emerged to advocate the release of the 75 dissidents imprisoned in the “Black Spring” of 2003, including her husband, Ángel Moya, all of whom were released and, as of today, remain out of prison.

After the death of Laura Pollán in 2011, Soler has headed the group, one of the most active of the internal dissidence of the island.

The Cuban government considers the dissidents “counterrevolutionaries” and “mercenaries.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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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.