The War of the Blacks / Somos+

Somos+, Jose Manuel Presol, 17 May 2016 — If there is something shameful in our republican history, it is the events of 1912. Nothing much is being said about it, not even in the government’s current propaganda. It is mentioned, articles and books are published about it, although it is not widely exposed.

Relatively few things have been written about it; the data, which is scarce at the source, are lost, and it is difficult to achieve an in-depth knowledge about it. Oral transmission is likewise poor, perhaps out of shame by some or out of fear by others.

I am referring to what is called the “War of the Independent People of Color,” or the “War of the Blacks.” Continue reading “The War of the Blacks / Somos+”

Maduro and the Country That is Disintegrating in His Hands / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

A woman protests against members of the Bolivarian National Guard in the march on Wednesday in Caracas. (EFE / Miguel Gutierrez)
A woman protests against members of the Bolivarian National Guard in the march on Wednesday in Caracas. “We are starving to death. Total dictatorship.” (EFE / Miguel Gutierrez)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 19 May 2016 — All signs point to the collapse of Venezuela. Every minute that passes the country is disintegrating in the hands of Nicolas Maduro, who insists on maintaining with revolutionary violence a power that he has not known how to keep through efficiency or results. His stubbornness has led a nation rich in resources to misery and his incendiary oratory is now pushing it towards a violent explosion.

In front of the microphones, Maduro claims to defend a chimerical 21st century socialism that only works in the minds of its progenitors. However, his political and repressive actions are aimed at preserving the privileges of a clan that rants against the bourgeoisie while living in opulence and looting the public coffers. He believes in the Robin Hood of the children’s stories, but this time Sherwood Forest has become unlivable, even for the poor. Continue reading “Maduro and the Country That is Disintegrating in His Hands / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez”

Meeting in New Jersey with Eliecer Avila this Saturday / Somos+

13220111_10207578844722699_1539987182_nSomos+, 17 May 2016 — On Saturday, May 21, at 2:00 p.m., at the Club Cubano de New Jersey (New Jersey Cuban Club), the president and founder of Somos+ Political Movement, will give a lecture about current issues in Cuban society. After several months of efforts, this meeting is possible thanks to the cooperation of the members residing in the U.S. You are all invited to this meeting and debate. Hoy Somos+.

Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)
Merchants at El Trigal protested closing of the market. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 18 May 2016 — A small protest convoy and a demand by a group of bicycle taxi (pedicab) operators at the Plaza of the Revolution; indignation and astonishment among producers and traders about the arbitrary and unannounced closing of the wholesale market for agricultural products in the capital; irritation of several citizens who verbally attacked the policemen who were trying to maltreat a blind and helpless beggar, who was at the Carlos III marketplace; a sit down strike led by workers at a cigar factory in the city of Holguín over wages… These are some of the events that demonstrate both the state of dissatisfaction and frustration that are taking shape in Cuba’s population, the emergence of a sense of questioning the system and the incipient rebellion against the power and the authorities that represent it.

It is without a doubt, good news. The bad news is that social balance becomes dangerously fragile in a society where rights and prosperity have been banned, where institutions respond fully to the interests of the parasite power, where any opposition to the government is illegal and where public debate and dialogue between the power and “governed” are non-existent. Continue reading “Rules to Prevent Debate / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya”

Fidel And Raul Castro “Are Very, Very Spanish” / 14ymedio

José Manuel García-Margallo during the interview in the Breakfasts program on Spanish Television (TVE). (Video Capture)
José Manuel García-Margallo during the interview in the Breakfasts program on Spanish Television (TVE). (Video Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 18 May 2016 — The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo, in an interview on Spanish Television on Wednesday, defended his meeting with Raul Castro in Cuba, recalling the ties that unite the two countries, among them the “Spanishness” of the Castros.

“In Cuba, apart from human relationships, Fidel and Raul’s father was a soldier who fought with our troops [on the Spanish side] in [Cuba’s war of] independence, and then turned. They are very very Spanish,” he said. Continue reading “Fidel And Raul Castro “Are Very, Very Spanish” / 14ymedio”

Jose Daniel Ferrer Gets a Passport / 14ymedio

José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)
José Daniel Ferrer with his passport with a visa for the US. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 18 May 2016 – Government opponent José Daniel Ferrer received his new passport on Tuesday, and will be able to travel outside the country for the first time. The former prisoner of the Black Spring has permission to leave the country only once, according to information from Cuban authorities. During his trip he plans to visit the United States and several European countries, according to what he told this newspaper.

The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) will fly to Florida on Wednesday, where his plans to visit his mother and brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer, also a former political prisoner. “I want to see many good Cubans, especially those who in one way or another support the cause of the democratization of Cuba. I want to hug them,” he said.

Ferrer also plans to go to the Swiss city of Geneva, to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council, and then he will visit Spain. “If I have the time I want to go to Poland, to the Gdansk shipyards, where the great demonstrations of the Solidarity Union took place,” he told 14ymedio.

Earlier this year, Ferrer received, along with other former political prisoners, the Homo Homini Prize awarded each year by the Czech NGO People in Need, for his contribution “in an outstanding way to the promotion of human rights, democracy and the non-violent resolution of political conflicts.” None of the award recipients were able to attend to the award ceremony because of travel restrictions imposed on them by the Cuban government.

Pedicabs, A Battle For The Streets / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Pedicab in Havana. (14ymedio)
Pedicab in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 16 May 2016 — A fine drizzle falls on the city and Felix, a pedicab driver for 22 years, takes advantage of the chance to take a break. Beside Havana’s Capitol building the man recalls a protest held last Monday by a group of his colleagues in the Plaza of the Revolution. They were demanding the right to use several streets that are now closed to their tricycles, along with less harassment from inspectors.

From a pocket in his fanny-pack he extracts a wad of papers and displays them with chagrin. They are the traffic fines that have been imposed on him so far this year, some thirty folded gray papers from the many he displays. Every one bears a stamp where we can read the word “paid.” Continue reading “Pedicabs, A Battle For The Streets / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

Cuban Phone Company to Block “Blacklisted” Phones / 14ymedio

Cuba’s phone company says that its new measures are to prevent fraudulent use of lost or stolen phones. (DC)
Cuba’s phone company says that its new measures are to prevent fraudulent use of lost or stolen phones. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2016 – Cuba’s government-owned phone company, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), has announced that starting this Wednesday, May 18, new rules will come into effect for cellphones which will more strongly control their use.

According to the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), the measures will include an automatic blocking of a line if the SIM card inserted in the phone is on the “blacklist.” Continue reading “Cuban Phone Company to Block “Blacklisted” Phones / 14ymedio”

Cuban Government Announces New Set of Price Reductions / 14ymedio

A store that sells in convertible pesos, Havana. (EFE)
A store that sells in convertible pesos, Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 17 May 2016 – The Cuban government has published an “official note” announcing price reductions for products sold in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) which will go into effect on Tuesday. The measure is aimed at “gradually increasing the purchasing power of the Cuban pesos (CUP),” explained the Ministry of Finances and Prices in the announcement read on primetime television news this Monday.

Among the products that will benefit from the reductions is powdered milk, the price of which was reduced by 9%, and liquid milk which was reduced by 20%. Continue reading “Cuban Government Announces New Set of Price Reductions / 14ymedio”

A Hundred to One / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 16 May 2016 — During the recent meeting of the National Council of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), archaic terms and concepts were were complacently dusted off in response to the reappearance in public of the Revolution’s aged leader.

In an evocation of old ghosts, the meeting took place in the exact same location where fifty-five years earlier his comments to intellectuals unleashed the great witch hunt that laid the groundwork for our highly ideological political culture. Continue reading “A Hundred to One / Rebeca Monzo”

El Trigal Wholesale Market’s Last Day / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

A cart driver at the El Trigal wholesale agricultural market in Havana (14ymedio)
A cart driver at the El Trigal wholesale agricultural market in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 14 May 2016 — The line of trucks extends along the embankment that provides access to the only wholesale agricultural market in Havana. But unlike other days, the farmers who have come with their merchandise neither unload it nor sell it. The place is surrounded by police and someone is passing out a flyer confirming the announcement on TV primetime news: El Trigal market has closed.

Many of those who congregated this Friday in front of the access to large space hadn’t heard the “bad news.” They came with their boxes and sacks loaded with farm products and found the employees as surprised as they were over the suspension of sales in the 292 spaces where, until a few hours ago, beans, onions, avocados and other fruits and vegetables were for sale. Continue reading “El Trigal Wholesale Market’s Last Day / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar”

Cuban Officials in the Panama Papers / Hablemos Press

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Hablemos Press, Cuban Journalists and others* (see below), 13 May 2016 — Officials of the Cuban Communist Party hired a Swiss attorney to establish offshore companies for their global business activities, the Panama Papers reveal. The unprecedented leak of 11.5-million documents from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama exposed the offshore actions and suspicious financial transactions of chiefs of state, government officials and celebrities worldwide.

Cuban law does not include any specific legislation regarding State functionaries and offshore enterprises, however such activities would be questionable in the strictly communist country. Continue reading “Cuban Officials in the Panama Papers / Hablemos Press”

On the Trail of the MININT Papers / Juan Juan Almeida

Ministry of the Interior headquarters in Havana, Cuba

Juan Juan Almeida, 9 May 2016 — In connection with a top secret theft targeting the Interior Ministry of the Republic of Cuba (MININT), a high number of officials have been arrested, a colonel in charge of computer operations has committed suicide in his own office on the eighth floor of Building A at MININT headquarters, and a foreign businessman is being subjected to enormous pressure from the Cuban government.

The information had remained secret until March 31 when an article appeared here under the title “MINIT Confronts What Could Be Its Worst Challenge: Information Theft.” In it, I wrote that the Major General Carlos Fernandez Gondin had left his office accompanied by a doctor after a fit of rage, which led to a heart attack and his hospitalization. Continue reading “On the Trail of the MININT Papers / Juan Juan Almeida”

The Enemies of Modern Democracy / Iván García

North Korea (Source: BBC Mundo)
North Korea (Source: BBC Mundo)

Ivan Garcia, 28 April 2016 — What do the autocratic Castro brothers, the solemn Vatican, Islamic fundamentalists and the madhouse that is North Korea have in common? The answer is simple: devotion to dogma, lack of transparency and unchecked caste-based power.

In theory communism should be music to the ears of a laborer who works eight hours a day and is not paid until the end of the month. Imagine it: a world without class distinctions or the need for money or budgets to maintain standing armies. Continue reading “The Enemies of Modern Democracy / Iván García”

Antonio Castro’s Fiancee, Manager of Desigual: How a Boutique Works in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Antonio Castro, son of Fidel Castro, in the Desigual store located in the Hotel Comodoro shopping mall. From the blog This-is-this.

Juan Juan Almeida, 12 May 2016 — The most expensive labels in Cuba are on the verge of the abyss. Mango, Gas, Zara, Paul & Shark, Adidas, Lacoste, Desigual and a few others present their calling cards to the Cuban government while naïve foreign businessmen in the high-end textile industry look on, allowing themselves to be seduced. The stores pretend to be profitable but it is all an illusion. They are nothing more than a houses of cards, fragile and in danger of collapse.

Commercial concessions like these are doled out on the basis of their usefulness through politically connected friends and with people who, directly or indirectly, wield authority, hold decision making power or have influence. Continue reading “Antonio Castro’s Fiancee, Manager of Desigual: How a Boutique Works in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida”