The Exodus Is Due To The Lack Of Freedom / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

The Red Cross helps Cubans stuck at the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border since last weekend. (La Nación)

The Red Cross helps Cubans stuck at the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border since last weekend. (La Nación)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 25 November 2015 — The current immigration crisis created by the presence of thousands of Cubans in Central America in transit to the United States has put the issue of human rights in Cuba back in the international arena, in particular the civil, political, social and economic rights of Cubans.

The government of General Raul Castro and a part of the international press emphasize the idea that it is a legal issue, related to the Cuban Adjustment Act. The Cuban government also links it to the maintenance of the blockade-embargo, which analysts say is an attempt to pressure the US government to repeal both laws. Continue reading

‘La Joven Cuba’ Blog Questions Official Position on the Cuban Adjustment Act / 14ymedio

Cuban rafters

“Cubans who reach the United States without the Adjustment act will have to submit to the exploitation that other illegal immigrants are subjected to,” says the blog: La Joven Cuba

14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2015 – In an unusual gesture of criticism toward an official position, the blog “La Joven Cuba” (Young Cuba) published a post on Tuesday that challenges the Cuban government’s approach to the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The site, run by graduates of the University of Matanzas, stresses “the need to of more than a few fellow countrymen to emigrate,” and defends the thesis that Cubans who want to reside in another country will do so regardless of whether conditions are better or worse. The article, signed by Roberto G. Peralo and titled “Eliminate the Cuban Adjustment Act and What,” uses an example close to him as an illustration. Continue reading

Annoyances of the New Identity Card / 14ymedio, Sol Garcia Basulto

Identity card office in Camagüey. (14ymedio)

Identity card office in Camagüey. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Sol Garcia Basulto Camagüey, 25 November 2015 – One year since the start of the issuing new identity cars in Cuba, many recognize the advantages of the modern ID card, but criticize the complex process to get one. In Camagüey province the manufacture and distribution of the new identify card started last May, but delays in delivering them and long lines continue to characterize their arrival in this region.

To learn about the details of the process, 14ymedio approached the ID card office this Tuesday, where people interested in applying for the new polycarbonate card had gathered since the early morning hours. The applicant must bring one or several stamp/seals with a total value of 25 Cuban pesos. Fingerprints are taken on the premises and the applicant is photographed. Continue reading

Impromptu Meeting Between Raul Castro and International Red Cross / 14ymedio

The president of the International Committee of Red Cross, Peter Maurer, and Cuban President Raul Castro. (JPSchaererICRC)

The president of the International Committee of Red Cross, Peter Maurer, and Cuban President Raul Castro. (JPSchaererICRC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 November 2015 – An impromptu meeting this Wednesday between Cuban President Raul Castro and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, suggests that the issue of the almost 3,000 Cuban migrants stuck in Costa Rica is one of the objectives of Maurer’s visit, the first at this level in more than 40 years.

Officially, Maurer has been in Cuba since Monday on a trip seeking to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian issues. In the statement pervious to his arrival, his program included only interviews with Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, with the Chief of Staff of the Civil Defense, Major General Pardo Guerra, and with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Continue reading

Bucanero-Cristal Exploits Ties to Self-Employed and Palco and Habaguanex Executives / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 24 November 2015 — Just as the proceedings surpassed the scandalous total of 42 people indicted, the General Vice-Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba, Carlos Raúl Concepción Rangel, imposed a gag order on the case and hid it underneath the trite mantle of “secret character,” because — according to sources in the Prosecutor’s office — he’s expecting the number of those involved to increase.

The investigation filtered down, and some of the people implicated hardened themselves and beat it out of the country. Others are hiding out; there is a border alert for them, and an order of search and capture.

Before such an emergency, and even without finishing the trial, they’re taking the accused out of the investigation center at 100 and Aldabó — the women to the western prison, El Guatao (known as Manto Negro), the men to Valle Grande or the Combinado del Este. The VIP accomplices, owing to their natural status as first-class citizens, were sent home and asked to be “low profile” until their names could be pulled from the file or, at least, their complicity silenced in a case that could paint them as crooks. Continue reading

Is There a Cuban Style? / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 13 November 2015 — As I see it, it would be incorrect to claim there is a Cuban style. During the last fifty years Cuban men and women on the island have been dressing any way they can with whatever was sent to them by overseas relatives, by repurposing old clothes or, in recent years, with contributions by those who had the opportunity to travel and brought back clothing of low-quality for resale. Until now, the only major points of reference on which Cubans could rely for their so-called fashion sense have been popular video clips and TV soap operas, most of them Brazilian. Continue reading

Havana Graffiti Criticizes State Phone Company / 14ymedio

Graffiti in Havana: “Super offer? If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat them in 1 hour. Loosen up Cubacel!” (14ymedio)

Graffiti in Havana: “Super offer? If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat them in 1 hour. Loosen up Cubacel!” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 25 November 2015 – Criticisms of the management of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) have reached the walls of Havana. A nice graffiti criticizes the conditions attached to the latest international recharge promotions for cellphone customers. The drawing mocks the requirement that consumers use their balance in a short period of time.

“If I buy one banana they give me two. But I have to eat it in 1 hour,” muses a pensive chimpanzee painted on several walls in the capital. The complaint ends with a “Loosen up, Cubacel!” demanding that the cellphone network give better terms for its recharge offerings.

Between the 16th and 20th of November, the company launched an international promotion under the slogan: “A bonus on your recharge with 30 or 60.” Each prepaid customer whose phone was recharged from abroad (presumably on-line by family or friends) for 20 or 30 CUC during that period, received an additional bonus of 30 or 60 CUC respectively. However, the user had to use the balance before December 20th of this year.

Some customers of the prepaid service have considered the requirement an exorbitant condition and are demanding that the credits earned during a promotion should not expire over time.

Teenage Gangs Assault And Rob Residents Of Havana Neighborhoods / Diario de Cuba, Jorge Enrique Rodriguez

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Jorge Enrique Rodriguez, Havana, 24 November 2015 — Two teenage gangs disturb the public peace on the streets of the Havana municipality of Cerro, while the police remain passive. Known as Los Apululus and Los Atormentados, both gangs engage in physical aggression against the elderly, assault and robbery on public streets.

The slums of El Canal, Las Cañas, Carragüao, Pilar and Atarés are among the hardest hit. The victims are stripped of their belongings, especially cell phones, accessories, money and clothing.

For the psychologist Leticia Collado, a resident of Las Canas, “these behaviors are the result of the fracture of the family and the crisis of the ideological education structure, which shows little interest in cultivating civility and socio-cultural principles in children and adolescents. Continue reading

“Being in Prison is like walking through the guts of the country”/ Cubanet, Jorge Angel Perez, Angel Santiesteban

The writer Angel Santiesteban Prats (photo: Jorge Angel Perez)

The writer Angel Santiesteban Prats (photo: Jorge Angel Perez)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Jorge Angel Perez, Havana, 23 November 2015 – Angel Santiesteban is the author of one of the most singular works in our literature. He has received multiple recognitions for this in Cuba and abroad. When he was very young he won the UNEAC Prize (from the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba) for his book, “Dream of a Summer Night,” and later the Alejo Carpentier Prize for “The Children Nobody Wanted.” This title also served as the name of his blog, where he has expressed himself in recent years. “Blessed are Those Who Mourn” was distinguished with the Casa de las Americas Prize.

After this brief summary, anyone unfamiliar with his work would say that he is “lucky,” but the larger truth is that he always earns what is most important: laurels from his readers. Life in prison is one of his recurring themes. Whomever starts reading his texts will discover this from the first line of many of his narrative pieces. It turns out that he was in prison twice, and in a ton of police stations. We talked for a long time about prison and his work, a few days ago at my house. And now, while transcribing our conversation, I learned why he was nominated by Reporters Without Borders to receive the Citizen Reporter prize that was just awarded to a group of Ethiopian bloggers.

Jorge Angel Perez (JAP): Angel, there are not many Cuban writers who lived through the hell of prison for two seasons. Did these two stays serve something in your writing?

Angel Santiesteban: Prison has been a rare source of nutrition; relating the events I lived, that I witnessed, has been my armor. Thanks to writing I didn’t lose my head. I think what I experienced intensely in those times gave my writing a great spontaneity. A writer with great imagination could write a great book without being imprisoned, but you can’t deny that someone who was there could tell it with more candor… Continue reading

Declaration on the Cuban Migrant Crisis / Forum for Rights and Freedoms


Forum for Rights and Freedoms, 23 November 2015 — In recent weeks we have observed, with deep concern, the development of a new migration crisis. The human drama that thousands of Cubans are experiencing already affects the entire Central American region, the Caribbean, and especially Costa Rica, a nation that has received migrants with great solidarity, in contrast to the complicity of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

The Castro regime has decided, once again – we recall the Camarioca exodus in 1965, the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis in 1994 – to use Cubans as pieces in their political game, putting at risk their lives and safety. Denunciations of abuse, assaults and every kind of crime against Cuban emigrants has elicited the solidarity of all people of goodwill.

Since coming the Castro dictatorship’s coming to power, the regime has used migratory crises to win concessions from the United States. Continue reading

About 300 Activists Arrested This Sunday / 14ymedio

CUiS1yQW4AAWcoj14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 November 2015 — During the day this Sunday nearly 300 activists were arrested across the country, according to what Cuban opposition sources told this newspaper. Most of those arrested belong to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the Ladies in White. UNPACU activist Zaqueo Báez and his wife, Lady in White Maria Acón, were released on Monday after spending more than 24 hours in custody at the Seventh Police Unit in Havana.

In Havana, over one hundred people were detained, while in the province of Santiago de Cuba the figure reached 98 activists, 51 in Camagüey, 12 in Holguin, Guantanamo 9 and 13 in Las Tunas, to which are added the arrests in other provinces, according to José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU.

In Camagüey, the police raided the home of Fernando Vázquez Guerra, coordinator of the organization in the province, and seized documents, discs and several Cuban flags belonging to UNPACU.

The opponents were detained for several hours and by Sunday night most of them had been released.

Press Workshop with Raul Rivero / Ivan Garcia

Photo: Raúl Rivero in his house in Havana.

Ivan Garcia, 23 November 2015 — On these hot nights in Havana, when nostalgia, that silent thief that robs you of strength, strikes without warning, Raúl Rivero, the poet, sneaks through my window and offers me a workshop specifically on the latest news from modern journalism.

The art of teaching still doesn’t accept journalistic lectures by telepathy. But I confess that I have grown as a reporter by brushing up on the lessons of the poet from Morón, Ciego de Ávila.

I met him one day before Christmas in 1995. There was an unusual cold spell in Havana. The sun didn’t poke out, and the greyness made the streets simmer with grime. Continue reading

Eight Years of the Cuban Independent Writers Club / Ivan Garcia

 Photo: Members of the Cuban Independent Writers Club at a meeting in Havana in 2011. From the Cuba blog.

Iván García, 16 November 2015 — In the depths of the peeling, unpainted building where the journalist and independent writer Víctor Manuel Domínguez lives, a lady, who is waiting for customers behind a display counter of cheap Chinese jewelry, is reading a well-used copy of a book by Corín Tellado.

On a rusty, narrow vertigo-inducing staircase, a dirty abandoned dog urinates hastily and without pause. Dominguez has lived in that ruinous building, in the very heart of Havana, for thirty years.

In the living room there are more books than furniture. With some music of Gal Costa in the background, Victor Manuel looks over dozens of manuscripts which will compete in the Vista-Puente de Letras competition [ed. note: for Cuban writers resident in Cuba] which it is anticipated will in the future be divided between Havana and Miami. Continue reading

Macri And The End Of Populism In Argentina / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner

The change in Argentina is expected to lead to a change in hemispheric relations. In the picture, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández, Lula Da Silva, Nicanor Duarte and Hugo Chavez signed the agreement for the foundation of Banco del Sur (The Bank of the South). (CC)

The change in Argentina is expected to lead to a change in hemispheric relations. In the picture, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández, Lula Da Silva, Nicanor Duarte and Hugo Chavez signed the agreement for the foundation of Banco del Sur (The Bank of the South). (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 23 November 2015 — The victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina is the triumph of common sense over strained discourse and failed emotions. It is also the arrival of modernity and the burial of a populist stage that should have disappeared long ago.

There is a successful way of governing. It is the one used in the 25 leading nations of the planet, among which should be Argentina, as it had been in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Everyone hopes that Macri will lead the country in that direction.

Which are those nations? Those recorded in all rigorous manuals, from the Human Development Index published by the United Nations, to Doing Business from the World Bank, to Transparency International. Some twenty compilations agree, however they stack up: the same ones always appear at the top of the list. Continue reading

Vladimiro Roca: “Many just saw me as the son of Blas Roca” / Cubanet, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello

vladimir roca

Vladimiro Roca, in an interview with CubaNet (photo by the author)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, Havana, 16 November 2015 – Vladimiro Roca Antunez is one of “the old guard” group of dissidents who is still in Cuba. He holds a degree in International Economic Relations, and was a MIG fighter pilot in the Revolutionary Armed Forces. He served 5 years, from 1997 to 2002, in Ariza prison in Cienfuegos, as one of a group of four dissidents who wrote “The Homeland Belongs to Everyone.”

Vladimir will be 72 on December 21. His family, friends and neighbors call him Pepe.

Martha Beatriz Roque: What were your years as a MIG fighter pilot like? Where did you learn to fly these planes?

Vladimir Roca: I have always considered the years I spent as a pilot, both as a fighter and in transport, as the best of my life, because the profession of pilot is entirely vocational. Anyone who doesn’t feel a passion for flying can never be a good pilot, and not just a good one, not even an ordinary one.

Speaking of my years as a pilot is something that fills me with emotion. The day that I flew solo for the first time, it was the greatest feeling of freedom I have felt in all the days of my life. It’s very hard to describe. Continue reading