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.

Cuban Poet Carilda Oliver Labra Dies, One of the Principal Lyrical Voices of the Island in the 20th Century

Carilda Oliver Labra won the National Literature Prize in 1997. (escritores.org)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 August 2018 – The poet and writer Carilda Oliver Labra died in the early morning hours this Wednesday at 96 years of age, according to the official press. This matancera (i.e. woman from Matanzas)  was one of the most important voices of the Cuban lyric of the twentieth century, with a notable individual style and a great passion for the promotion of culture.

Born in Matanzas in 1922, Oliver Labra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree from the Institute of Secondary Education of that city and her first book, Lyrical Prelude, was published in 1943. Later she became part of the Peña Literaria Matancera, where she held various positions, including President of the group.

The Cuban writer garnered second place in the International Poetry Competition, organized by the National Broadcasting Co. of New York, and in 1949 published Al sur de mi garganta (South of My Throat). In 1952 her texts appeared in the anthology Fifty Years of Cuban Poetry, compiled by Cintio Vitier, and she married the lawyer and poet Hugo Ania Mercier, whom she divorced in 1955. continue reading

In those years Oliver Labra worked in the First Festival of the Décima organization in the Sauto Theater, published in her city the Canto a Matanzas (Song to Matanzas), worked in the newspaper El Imparcial on the feature Saturday’s Poem and also served as Director of Culture in the municipality of Matanzas. At that time she wrote one of her most controversial poems: Canto a Fidel (Song to Fidel).

After January 1959, she worked as an English teacher in Matanzas, participated in the literacy campaign and married in second nuptials tenor Felix Pons Cuesta, of whom she would be widowed in 1980.

In the decade of the 80s she received the Distinction for National Culture, the National Literature Prize and the “José Vasconcelos” Hispano-American Prize. The 13th International Book Fair of Havana was dedicated to her, most of her volumes have been published and reissued and an international colloquium about her work was held at the “Camilo Cienfuegos” University of Matanzas.

At the end of that decade the poet experienced an incident little mentioned in her official biography. She was injured in the abdomen during a presentation at the Pensamiento de Matanzas bookstore, to which she was invited, and which was busted by the combined action of extremists and agents of State Security. The gathering was dedicated to the theme of perestroika in the Soviet Union.

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.

UNPACU Activist Pressured by Police to Accuse Jose Daniel Ferrer

Ebert Hidalgo Cruz (right) says he was interrogated four times and threatened by the agents with keeping him in jail. (Video Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 August 2018 – Activist Ebert Hidalgo Cruz has been released without any charges, according to a video released Sunday by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) shortly after the dissident was released from prison. Hidalgo was imprisoned on August 3 together with the leader of the organization, José Daniel Ferrer, who is still in prison accused of the attempted murder of a State Security agent.

“They were forcing me to say that José Daniel was guilty, that he had run over the officer with the car,” the activist explained before the camera. He says that he was interrogated four times and that he was threatened by the agents with keeping him prisoner.  “I told them not to pressure me anymore, that I was not going to say anything else,” he said about the agents’ insistence that he confirm that José Daniel’s aggression against the agent was deliberate. continue reading

Hidalgo and Ferrer were arrested after an incident involving the Interior Ministry official, Dainier Suárez Pagán, who was allegedly run over by Ferrer while driving without a driver’s license.

Agent Suárez Pagán is known by the dissidents of Palmarito de Cauto, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, for being violent and attacking the activists. According to the judicial version, Ferrer intended to run over the agent while he was crossing the street, a statement that was denied by the two dissidents shortly before they were arrested.

In the video, Hidalgo explained that he spent six days in the Penal Instruction and Criminal Operations Unit, in the Versalles district (Santiago de Cuba), unable to change clothes and in a cell in terrible conditions, which according to the activist, had hardly any light but had plenty of mosquitoes, rats and cockroaches. He received only a brief visit from his daughter during his prison stay.

Before Hidalgo was released from Micro 9, as the prison where he was held is also known, he was warned that he could not talk at all about the case with relatives.

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 US Resumes Consular Services for Its Citizens in Cuba

The US embassy staff in Havana continues working at minimum levels after the evacuation of its non-essential personnel. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | 24 August 2018 – The US embassy in Havana announced Friday that it has resumed consular services for American citizens. Renewal of passports, notary services, authentication, consular reports of birth abroad and emergency assistance are available as of today in Havana, without the need to travel to another country, as had been the case.

The diplomatic headquarters published this decision in a statement released on their social networks. Many Cubans took the opportunity to request the restoration of the family parole reunification program, which has been postponed for nearly a year.

Some people also demanded the return of consular services for family reunification currently taking place in Guyana. Residents on the Island who are interested in visiting the United States must obtain their visa in a third country. continue reading

In September of last year, the United States reduced by 60% the diplomatic personnel in the Island, after twenty-six of its officials were allegedly attacked with a “sonic weapon” which affected their hearing and caused other related problems. Relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly after the arrival of Donald Trump as president. The United States accuses the island of knowing who is behind the alleged attacks on its diplomats, while Cuban authorities say it is a pretext to derail the process of reestablishing relations undertaken under the previous administration.

Recently, the US Congress published a report questioning the embassy’s ability to keep abreast of Cuban affairs. “The ability of the United States to follow the situation in Cuba, defend human rights, carry out consular activities and comply with bilateral agreements is being undermined by a drastic reduction in the staff of the embassy in Havana,” reported Reuters, which had access to the document.

The document, issued by the Congressional Research Service, affirms that the decision to reduce the number of diplomats from 50 to a maximum of 18 on the Island due to the mysterious ailments that affected 26 US and 10 Canadian officials since 2016, has resulted in there being more work than those who remain on the island can complete.

According to Reuters, not a single refugee visa has been processed this year because the office responsible for doing so remains closed. Last year there were 117 people who benefited from receiving these visas in Havana.

The Cuban government has expressed its concern that the minimum 20,000 visas for Cuban migrants will not be reached this year, an agreement that both countries signed in 1994 to end the crisis of the rafters.

This Thursday, the United States lowered the level of alert for those who intend to travel to the island. The State Department placed Cuba in category 2, which recommends exercising caution due to the acoustic attacks against employees of the US embassy. At the end of September, the State Department had placed the island in category 3, recommending that the Americans “reconsider” a trip to the the greater of the Antilles.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

______________________________

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.

Judge Denies Bail to Cuban Independent Journalist Serafin Moran Detained in Texas

Cuban freelance journalist Serafín Morán Santiago, 40, has been accused in the island of spreading propaganda and being a paid agent of the United States government.  Now he is in an immigration detention center in Texas waiting for a response to his asylum application. (Courtesy of Serafín Morán Santiago)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami | 24 August 2018 — An immigration judge from the State of Texas denied bail to independent journalist Serafín Morán Santiago, who has been detained in that state since last April after requesting political asylum at the border with Mexico.

Morán must remain in custody until his case is decided at an asylum hearing in October, journalist María Fernanda Egas, of the Fundamedios organization, which monitors freedom of the press in the United States, said via telephone to 14ymedio.

Both Fundamedios and Reporters Without Borders launched an alert on Morán’s situation, who in their opinion must be “immediately released” and under no circumstances repatriated to Cuba. The reporter, according to both organizations, would face on the island “a real risk of death,” denounced María Fernanda Egas. continue reading

Serafín Morán Santiago turned himself in to the agents of the Border Patrol on April 13, after traveling a complicated route from Guyana, the first country he visited after leaving Cuba. This passage is made daily by dozens of Cubans in order to reach the southern border of the United States.

After the implementation of President Trump’s policy known as “zero tolerance” for undocumented immigration, asylum seekers can remain detained until an immigration judge determines whether or not their case is eligible to receive this status.

In the current fiscal year, which ends in September, 364 Cubans have been returned to the island, most of them after being detained in facilities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cuba pledged to the United States that it would accept all of its nationals with deportation orders starting with the new migratory agreement signed by both countries in 2017.

According to Morán’s complaints, agents of State Security (Cuban) “kidnapped” and “punched” him in June 2016. On September 2, 2017, he was again arrested and his work equipment confiscated. The journalist says he tried to seek refuge through the US embassy in Havana, but his case file was rejected twice.

In the event that Morán fails to prove that he is being persecuted by the Cuban government, he could be repatriated to the island. The journalist, 40, has collaborated as an independent reporter for media such as Univisión 23, Telemundo, Hispano Post, Primavera Digital, Cubanet and TV Martí.

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.

United States Reduces the Alert Level for Travel to Cuba

The US embassy in Havana continues to staff at minimum levels after the evacuation of its non-essential personnel. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | 23 August 2018 – The United States on Thursday reduced the alert level for travel to Cuba, a surprise decision after relations between both countries were frozen after the mysterious “sonic attacks” suffered by 26 US diplomats in Havana, reports the Nuevo Herald.

Cuba is now found in category 2, which recommends exercising caution due to attacks directed against employees of the US embassy in Havana. At the end of September, the State Department had placed the island in category 3, recommending that Americans “reconsider” a trip to the Greater of the Antilles.

After the departure of 60% of the US diplomatic personnel deployed in Cuba and the reduction in the services of the embassy, relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly. The United States accuses the island of knowing who is behind the alleged attack on 26 of its diplomats, while Cuban authorities say it is a pretext to derail the process of reestablishing relations undertaken under the previous administration. continue reading

The Cuban economy has been affected in the past year by the fall in the number of tourists visiting the country, which dropped by 5.67% according to official figures. President Donald Trump in June of last year toughened the conditions for Americans visiting the neighboring country, so that their travel to Cuba fell by 23.6%.

The Havana Consulting Group, a company specializing in analyzing the Cuban economy, considers that the first half of 2018 has been “traumatic and devastating” for the Cuban tourist industry due to the combination of “countless accumulated unresolved problems,” among them the low influx of tourists from the USA.

According to Orna Blum, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, the change to level 2 was due to a new assessment of the risk of traveling to Cuba.

“The Department conducted a comprehensive risk assessment for US private citizen travelers in Cuba and decided that a Level 2 travel alert was appropriate,” the spokeswoman told the Nuevo Herald.

The United States reiterated that it does not yet know the weapon used to harm its officials or what country or group is behind the alleged attacks.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

_______________________________

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.

Every Effort Against the Dictatorship Seems to Me Appropriate and Inevitable / Ángel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban, 12 May 2018 — Every effort against the dictatorship seems appropriate and inevitable to me. I believe fervently that in all of them is the pushback on the wall of dictatorship; but the actual reality does not lie there, at this stage of the championship contest we can’t believe in siren songs.

In particular, I believe in all of the opponents, in the Ladies in White, in Rosa María Paya, whom I respect and admire, in Antonio Rodiles, in Guillermo Fariña, UNPACU, Antúnez and all the others, just to mention those that come to mind now. continue reading

What I don’t believe is in the regime, in that some opponent can count on the Castros and his minions compromising and accepting any exigency that does not include them.

It is simply about agreeing or not, with one or more projects. I think it is unnecessary that five years can pass by only for them to tell us, this is not the way, we better rectify it.

From now on, and we see it in the example of Venezuela where Cuba is the ideologist, they won’t permit anything. The demand it seems to me, must be direct: that the regime abandon power and allow the road to a democracy where the people are the ones who govern. Accept that they will not be actors in that transition, and that it can only be achieved, of course, with pressure from the concert of nations.

By then we will have saved several years, that our generation has already missed, to see if we can have the experience of freedom in our beloved islands that make up the Cuban archipelago.

Hopefully the opponents who are leaders of projects will sit down to talk and find a roadmap, between all of them, the best path, the most united, in time and in form, as to what the dictatorship needs in order to leave power. This is like religion, each one contains a little bit of truth, of reasons and needs, none alone has all the answers and all the knowledge.

And for that I think that the artists and intellectuals should have an active role. As you well know, no political movement has been achieved without a prior cultural movement of art and of developed thought. I lend my voice so that it can be achieved.

About the author

Ángel Santiesteban

(Havana, 1966). Graduated in Film Direction, resides in Havana, Cuba. Mention in the Juan Rulfo contest (1989), National Prize of the Writers Guild UNEAC (1995). The book: Sueño de un día de verano [Dream of a Summer Day], was published in 1998. In 1999 he won the César Galeano award. And in 2001, the Alejo Carpentier Prize organized by the Cuban Book Institute with the set of stories: Los hijos que nadie quiso [The Children Nobody Wanted]. In 2006, he won the Casa de las Américas prize in the story genre with the book: Dichosos los que lloran [Blessed are Those Who Mourn]. In 2013, he won the Franz Kafka International Novels of the Drawer Prize, organized in the Czech Republic with the novel El verano en que Dios dormía [The Summer God Slept]. He has published in Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, China, England, Dominican Republic, France, USA, Colombia, Portugal, Martinique, Italy, Canada, among other countries.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

ETECSA Performs Another Test of Mobile Internet but Limits it to 70 Megabytes per User

Two women connecting to the state WIFI network. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 August 2018 – The Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA), this Wednesday, is carrying out another test of Internet browsing on mobile phones but, unlike the prior one that was unlimited, this time users can only consume one package of 70 non-renewable megabytes, according to the state monopoly.

From eight in the morning until midnight today, customers have “access to the Internet for prepaid cellular services,” a statement from ETECSA indicated. “During the period of time foreseen for the test, it may be partially or complete stopped depending on the behavior of the network and the adjustments of technical parameters that are being evaluated,” the text adds.

In the first test, this past week, customers complained about the excessive slowness of web browsing from mobile phones, the constant crashes and the lack of prior notification. continue reading

The company clarifies on this occasion that “those customers who use email from their cell phones should consider that their use of the email will count against any remaining limits in their active accounts.”

The connection this Wednesday has been marked by slowness, frequent loss of the data signal and congestion in the service, despite the fact that, like the prior test, a pre-announcement was not made in the national media. Users can barely check their email accounts, use chat services and social networks such as Telegram or Facebook but are unable to play videos online or download applications.

On August 14 ETECSA ran the first public test of internet access from mobile phones, which includes some 800,000 users. The prices for connecting at public wifi points (equivalent to one dollar per hour) and in homes (between 15 and 70 dollars for a 30-hour package) are still very expensive for Cubans, whose salaries average the equivalent of 30 dollars a month.

Results of an internet “Speed Test” during Etecsa’s test on Wednesday of internet-by-mobile connections. (14ymedio)

As information about the test spread and a larger number of people  began using the data package, the connection became slower and access to the MiCubacel portal became almost impossible. “In the middle of the morning I was able to download a small app from the Google Play store but after noon I couldn’t even open my Gmail account,” lamented Brandon, a 17-year-old who found out because a friend called him from Trinidad and Tobago to tell him that he had read about the test on the internet.

Some users in Sancti Spíritus told this newspaper that they had been able to make video calls through the IMO in the morning and others in Havana also confirmed the information although “with avery low quality image.”

The 70 megabyte package can be acquired by dialing *133 #, then following the menu and selecting the appropriate option number: Data (1), Daily Use (2) and Send (1) and also by accessing the MiCubacel portal (https://mi.cubacel.net) after registering as a user.

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.

An Alliance is Created to Denounce the Violations of Human Rights in Cuba

Tomás Regalado, Director of the Office of Transmissions to Cuba, during a press conference this morning in Miami. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario J. Pentón, Miami | August 14, 2018 – Radio and TV Martí together with the non-governmental organization Freedom House launched a campaign on Tuesday that will aim to disseminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as setting up a telephone number to receive complaints from Cuba.

“If you feel that your rights have been violated, denounce it on our human rights line. Call +1 305 437 7301. You’re not alone” says one of the promotional messages that will be broadcast on Radio and TV Martí, presented by Tomás Regalado, former mayor of Miami and current director of the station.

“We have seen an extraordinary upsurge in the violation of human rights,” added Regalado, who directly ordered Los Martí journalists to process the complaints received from Cuba. continue reading

“Through our network of correspondents on the island, those of the opposition and this hot line, human rights violations will be exposed. The News Department will dedicate itself to verify in a reliable way the denunciations and then present them  to Freedom House”, explained the official.

Carlos Ponce, director of Freedom House for Latin America, considered the alliance with Los Martí “a golden opportunity” that will promote the “Cuban, know your human rights” campaign.

“Every time the regime feels weak, it increases the repression of human rights,” he said.

For Ponce, the Cuban government infringes on their citizens “most basic rights”, such as educational freedom and political rights. “It is time for people to open their eyes so that Cuba not continue being the same old story that people no longer want to see,” he added.

“With this strategic alliance we will be able to bring a number of significant complaints to international organizations and give visibility to what is happening on the island,” he said.

In statements to 14ymedio, Ponce lamented that media coverage of human rights violations often focuses on Venezuela and Nicaragua, with no references to Cuba.

“Unfortunately the media has turned a blind eye to the situation in Cuba. The root of evil in Latin America is a dictatorial regime that with impunity continues to operate in the region,” he said.

“Cuba is a dictatorship that influences other countries, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, in order to leach on them, prop up their regimes and destroy democratic systems. We call on all Cubans to denounce the violations of their rights,” he added.

Radio and TV Martí bet on reaching more Cubans with new technologies

According to statements from Tomás Regalado, director of the Office of Transmissions to Cuba (OCB) of the US Government, the coming months will see a substantial increase in the number of Cubans who can listen to the station or watch the television programs of Los Martí.

Regalado recently announced the addition of a new frequency for radial transmissions at 11860 kHz. “In short wave we had three frequencies and the regime managed to block one or sometimes two frequencies. With three we have the means to be immune to their blockade,” remarked the newly appointed director to 14ymedio.

For its part, a new type of technology, whose technical details have not yet been made known, will make it possible for TV Martí to be seen on the Island, according to its directors. “It is a novel technology that will allow what we call the Martí Communities to establish themselves,” explained Regalado.

At the moment there are more than 200 of these devices on the island and several communities of neighbors who can watch the TV Martí signal, the former mayor told the local media in Miami. According to him, it is impossible for the Government of Havana to track the signal of the devices, a concern of many activists who fear the sentences that can be faced by “counterrevolutionaries.”

“In the Cuban penal code there are criminal forms that put these people (who are part of the Martí communities) in danger, but the people defy it. The most important guarantee is that the Government does not know where the signal is shared,” explained Regalado.

“The regime can interfere with the output signal of the equipment but not the one that enters (input). It is immune to being detected,” he said.

The appliance that will allow TV Martí to be seen on the Island was designed by Cuban engineers on the Island and in South Florida. Regalado will present the results of this new technology at the beginning of September at an event of the Board of Governors of Radiodifusión, the federal entity in charge of Radio and TV Martí.

The Cuban Government has made a particular effort to block the Marti signal and accuses the United States of violating international radio broadcasting agreements by allowing and financing the stations. During the administration of Barack Obama, which promoted the thaw with the island, Cuba took the opportunity to demand the dismantling of these communication media.

Radio Martí began broadcasting its signal to Cuba in 1985 under the government of Ronald Reagan. In the early nineties, TV Martí followed and the Martí Noticias portal appeared with the digital era. This year the budget allocated by the US Congress to both broadcasters will exceed 28 million dollars.

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.

Dead Animals, Feces and Plastics Envelop the Quibu River as it Passes Through Havana

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 17 August 2018 – “River Quibú, nobody washes on your shores,” the singer Frank Delgado chanted in the eighties. Three decades later the panorama has not improved around the river that crosses the western neighborhoods of Havana.

The neighbors denounce a delicate epidemiological and ecological situation caused by the great accumulation of solid waste that washes down the river.

“You can find anything from a floating dead pig to cupboards, chairs, tables or feces when there is flood,” says an inhabitant from the lower part of the basin, very close to the coastal area. continue reading

Along its route, the locals tell 14ymedio, the river collects several drainages and the garbage that people throw in. In addition, they assure that a project that began in 2006 to expand the mouth of the river and avoid floods “has not been finished” and is no longer talked about.

Some of the neighbors insist on the need to return to the idea of dredging to avoid the accumulation of garbage and assure that each year this matter is brought up to different institutions and responsible bodies, as well as being a recurring issue in the community’s “accountability assemblies” where the elected deputies offer residents a report on the year’s accomplishments.

The biologist Isbel Díaz says that “there is no project to sanitize the river in an integral way” and, although in some places sanitation works are carried out, this does not “mean anything when the river enters the city.” For Díaz, the fact that there is no project with this objective has to do with the fact that the waters flow “through a place that is one of the least privileged” and that “are further away from the tourist’s eye.”

The Quibú river basin is located within the City of Havana and passes through the municipalities of Marianao, Playa, La Lisa and Boyeros, including 16 People’s Councils which, in most cases, are made up of populations in very precarious economic situations, like the neighborhoods of Siboney, Buena Vista, Zamora, Santa Felicia, Pogolotti, Balcony of the Lisa, San Agustín, Heights of the Lisa, El Cano and Wajay.

In accordance with some scientific studies undertaken in the last decade, the main economic activities carried out in its surroundings are related to agriculture and scientific research. According to several university studies by the University of Havana, the environmental problems of Quibú have been evaluated as “of great importance” and the river is considered one of the most polluted in the city.

A UH master’s thesis on coastal zone management, published by Edgar Alexander Amaya Vasquez in 2015, argues that the origin of pollution in the Quibú basin is of both domestic and industrial origin, among the latter it mentioned the presence of heavy metals, detergents, pesticides, oils and petrochemicals. The contamination of the river, whose level is higher than that established by the Cuban Standard of Sanitary Quality, extends to a large part of the coastal zone, frequently used by bathers.

Inhabitants of the river bank tell of frequent mosquito outbreaks and that many people have already been infected with diseases such as zika or dengue. “The patios are full of mosquitoes and mice, you have to always have poison traps because if you don’t they get inside the house,” they say. Near the mouth of the river, all kinds of solid waste, jars and plastic bags, as well as old shoes accumulate on its shores, an ideal scenario for the proliferation of insects and rodents.

Díaz warns that, although the river water is not potable, it is used for other purposes such as agriculture, so that pollution can reach “the digestive system of the human being in an indirect way.”

In February 2017, the Law on Terrestrial Waters in Cuba came into effect, regulating, among other issues, the dumping of liquid and solid waste in the waters of the country, but the impact this legislation has had on the environment has yet to be evaluated.

This newspaper has not found a single person or company that has been fined for dumping waste or untreated waste into the river, which has contributed to creating a situation of impunity for those responsible for the contamination.

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.

Informative Note about Detained Members / Somos+

Somos+, 18 August 2018 — The Executive Council has been able to contact the six members of our movement who had been arbitrarily detained by the State Security in Puerto Padre, province of Las Tunas. All have been released and are in their respective homes.

We are deeply grateful to all our members for their solidarity, and to the honorable and exceptional instances of journalists, influencers and members of other political projects that responded on behalf of our representatives during these days. continue reading

  • In our initial contact, these brave men and women have expressed firmness in their decision to stay in our movement and the certainty that nothing will make them bow down.

As we have already reported, their phones, a video camera, as well as the money provided for their travel expenses and performance of their duties, were confiscated

Repressive actions against Somos + is increasing, but no obstacle will stop us.

Executive Council

Political Movement S+

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

Another Another Cuban Physician from the Mais Medicos Mission Dies in Brazil

The Cuban doctor Ramón Domínguez Rivera. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miami, August 18, 2018 – Cuban doctor Ramón Domínguez Rivera, originally from the province of Pinar del Río, who was on assignment in Brazil, died on August 16, as reported by his Medical Brigade. Dominguez Rivera worked in Melgaço, Pará state. His body was found three days after he disappeared, according to the local press. One of the heads of Mais Medicos, Lizander Rubio, said on Facebook that the cause of death could be “a cardiovascular condition.”

Some of Dominguez Rivera’s colleagues expressed their grief on the loss of the doctor in social networks. Guillermo Fernández Maqueira stressed the generosity of the deceased. “I know that many of us will remember you, those of us who shared a meal with you, those of us who shared clothes and shoes in the dormitory in order to go out with our girlfriend at night,” he wrote. continue reading

According to data compiled by 14ymedio, this is the fifth Cuban doctor that has died in the last four months in the mission deployed in Brazil. In April, Guantanamo native Adrián Reyes Valverde was killed in a motorcycle accident in the municipality of Babaçulândia. A few days later physician Jorge Alberto Borrego died in the crash of the Cubana de Aviación flight last May in Havana.

Luis Alberto Martínez Vila, 29, died last month in a car accident near the city of Redenção, in the state of Pará, and Yanier Samón De Hombre, 32, died after a bout of severe abdominal pain two weeks ago.

Official media rarely report the deaths of any Cuban aid workers abroad.

More than 18,000 Cuban doctors have passed through Brazil since the two governments created the Mais Medicos program in 2013 to increase the presence of health personnel in municipalities and rural areas. After the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the number of Cuban doctors in the program has decreased. However, the figure still exceeds 8,000.

Brazil pays Havana around $3,600 per month for each doctor, who, in turn, receives only $900 from the Cuban government. Cuban professionals or their families do not receive compensation in case of accidents or death at work.

The export of medical services is one of the main sources of revenue for the island government, which maintains tens of thousands of health professionals deployed in more than 60 countries, from which it annually derives more than 11.5 billion dollars according to official figures. Human rights activists have criticized this work activity as a form of “modern slavery.”

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.

In Camaguey, Neglected Beaches in Cuban Pesos, Beautiful Beaches in Hard Currency

The most ‘democratic’ of Camagüey’s beaches suffers from a chronic neglect. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre, Camagüey | August 18, 2018 – The sun rises and dozens of bathers start to arrive at the beaches of the Bay of Nuevitas, on the north coast of the province of Camagüey. They are equipped as if for battle: food, water, sturdy shoes to deal with stones and even an improvised kit for the possibility of cuts on pieces of glass or cans. The poor conditions of the coast do not manage to cool the desire to take a dip.

The province of Camagüey has 25% of all the beaches in the archipelago but the state of the coast has been getting worse in recent years due to climate change, lack of maintenance and deterioration of infrastructure, to which is added the discharge of industrial or domestic waste. Some areas that were once a haven of peace and beauty today seem to come out of a post-war scene.

Among the extensive coastline, Nuevitas is the busiest resort because it is cheaper thanks to the “beach train” that runs in summer, from Friday to Sunday, from the city of Camagüey and arrives a few meters from the sea. continue reading

The beach train runs in summer, from Friday to Sunday, from the city of Camagüey and reaches a few meters from the sea. (14ymedio)

For low-income families this is one of the few possibilities of having a day sunbathing in front of the waves, because the most beautiful and well-kept areas, such as Santa Lucía beach, have been filled with hotels where mainly foreign visitors stay.

Getting there is expensive and complicated, so Nuevitas is a more accessible option. However, the most democratic of Camagüey’s beaches suffers from chronic neglect. The ruins of old buildings destroyed by hurricanes or abandonment dot part of the coastline and holiday makers are forced to bathe in the middle of concrete fragments, metal beams and other types of rubble (debris).

Among the beaches with the highest number of visitors Las Piedras, La Colonia and the others that extend close to the old railway line stand out, although some opt for the more distant ones such as Santa Rita and the one with better seabeds such as Varaderito, about three kilometers from the city, but which can only be accessed by a road in poor condition.

“Here it has been years that no repairs have been made nor the beach dredged,” laments Mily Marín, a local resident who takes her children to the beach. “These places do not look like the beaches I knew as a child, my children leave with wounds on their feet,” laments the mother, who recalls a childhood with a maintained coastline and denounces the institutional abandonment that the area has reached.

The industrial growth that the zone experienced during the years of Soviet subsidy made industries proliferate, among them some very polluting ones like the 10th of October Thermoelectric Company and a fertilizer factory. The damages left by strong hurricanes, such as Irma last September, have exacerbated the situation.

The rising waters have also taken space from vacationers. During the last century an increase in the average annual temperature of 0.6 ° was registered in Cuba and the average sea level has increased at a rate of 2.14 millimeters per year. At least 291 beaches in the country (84% of the total) have already been affected by these changes. The climate changes and industrial discharges are compounded by the problem of domestic waste carried to the sea by the waters of the Saramaguacán River and from places as far away as the north of the municipality of Camagüey and the plains of Sibanicú.

The neighbors of Nuevitas remember the beautiful beach before industrial waste and neglect appropriated their coastlines. This is the case of Juan, a retiree who makes a few pesos selling corn chips to holidaymakers and regrets that the bay is now invaded by a “fetid mud.” He only has one word to define the situation: “It’s a disaster.”

The authorities have been working on a project supported by the United Nations Development Program that seeks to alleviate the environmental impact in the area. “A series of results has already accrued that have repercussions not only on biodiversity, but also on the economic development and good social living of the territory,” assured the local newspaper Adelante.

The signature work of this collaboration is the so-called Malecón-Patana Rosa Naútica Complex, inaugurated at the end of last year, which includes a seawall on the coast with various recreational opportunities nearby. The work, 320 meters long, was erected partly over an old pier.

The Malecón-Patana Rosa Naútica complex, inaugurated at the end of last year, includes a wall on the coast with various recreational offers around. (14ymedio)

“It turned out very good, but the vacationers of Camagüey do not come to these places,” clarifies Pastor Yilber Durand. “They want to enjoy the beaches, which are in terrible conditions. I think it would have been better to invest all that money by improving them.”

The difference between “the beaches of the people,” as many call the coast where the Camagüeyans dip and “the beaches of the tourists” does not only lie in the quality of the maintenance they receive, in the cleanliness of their waters or in the number of houses that rent rooms for vacationers. The gastronomic offers also mark a great difference

While in Santa Lucia you can buy “almost anything […], in Nuevitas the offerings are poorer,” says Roxana, mother of two girls and resident in the city of Camagüey, who frequently visits the north coast. She has no doubt that “many sellers prefer to go to those places where customers can pay better for a sandwich, a soft drink or a fresh fruit.”

However, Roxana is happy that some private businesses remain in Nuevitas. If they were not here, “there would be very little left to enjoy, because between the dirty waters and the attention that you have to take with the garbage on the coast, at least drinking a cold juice in front of the sea is worth it.”

“We are the ones who guarantee food and drink to those who arrive from the main city, because the state offers are very scarce,” the owner of a restaurant that operates in a place leased to the State confirms to 14ymedio. The small businessman and some others plan to stay, waiting for good luck and care to return to the beaches of Nuevitas.

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.

What Rights are Affected or Restricted by Decree 349/2018? / Cubalex

T-shirts: Criminal Artist

Cubalex, 16 August 2018 — The Cuban State ,through Decree No. 349 of April 20, 2018, has deliberately adopted regressive measures without consideration or justification that disproportionately influence the exercise of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The decree limits equal access to worthy work to all people. It institutes forced labor by obliging artists to qualify with and establish links to a state institution in order to obtain remuneration for their work.

It establishes a system of retroactive censorship for cultural activities, the arts and other forms of expression, violating freedom for creative activity and the right to the full development of the human personality. It also violates the freedom of thought, belief, religion and of opinion, association and peaceful assembly. continue reading

Independent artists or those who do not have associations with the institutions of the state or groups of civil society will see themselves doubly discriminated against because their forms and means of expression are perceived by the state as a challenge, or an expression of political opinion.

It stimulates and promotes discrimination based on political opinion. It does not respond to any pressing public or social need. It does not pursue a legitimate purpose and is not compatible with the provisions, aims and objectives of international human rights law. It is not strictly necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of a democratic society.

On the contrary, it violates the principle of prior responsibilities that ensure respect for the rights or reputation of others, and the protetion of national security, the public order or health or public morals. With this decree victims are not needed, nor are affected groups or denunciations, and it does not take into account the guarantees of due process for the accused. The agents of the State will decide in a discretionary, selective and discriminatory way if any artistic manifestation promotes discrimination, violence or uses sexist, vulgar or obscene language.

Artists were not consulted before the adoption of Decree No. 349/2018 and the resolutions of the Ministry of Culture (MINCUL) that implemented this cultural policy. They are totally unprotected. They have no means to participate in the direction of public affairs nor in the process of formulation, application and adoption of public policy decisions that affect the exercise of their cultural rights.

They do not have access to effective judicial remedies or other adequate resources to obtain reparation, restitution, compensation and satisfaction or guarantees of non-duplication, in the event of possible violation of their moral and material interests. There are no mechanisms in the country to challenge this Decree in case of illegal, abusive, arbitrary, irrational or discriminatory application.

This article was first published in Cubalex.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria