Silvio Rodriguez ’Discovers’ That the Blacklist Comes from Cuban Communist Party

What Radio Progreso airs is what the ideological department of the PCC thinks,” wrote Silvio Rodríguez. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 January 2020 — Singer Silvio Rodríguez pointed to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) as the creator of an independent “blacklist” of media aired a few days ago on Radio Progreso networks.

“What Radio Progreso airs is what the ideological department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC, “the leading political force of society and the State”) thinks, and what they are directed [to report],” Rodriguez wrote in a comment on a post he published in his blog Segunda Cita.

“It surprises me that they have not included Segunda Cita, when ‘the pack’ has whipped us,” he added in reference to some moments in which his publications have been attacked from official voices. continue reading

“For the naive, for the uninformed, for those who still believe that the media war against Cuba is a digital story, for those who believe everything they read on Facebook, this is the list with the most reactionary sites,” said the post about Cuban radio. The comment was subsequently deleted but Silvio Rodríguez does not say if this decision was also the product of a “guidance” from the CCP.

The troubadour’s comment comes when the workers of the publications mentioned in that list have reported an attack on their pages.

Many of the media names by Radio Progreso have been blocked for years in the national servers of the Island such as the digital newspapers, Cubanet14ymedioDiario de Cuba or others such as ADN Cuba and the magazines El Estornudo and Tremenda Nota.

This is not the case of Barrio PeriodismoLa Joven CubaEl Toque and OnCuba News which, in general, have been accessible. However, from this weekend until early Monday, these media now included on this “blacklist” could not be accessed.

Manuel Henríquez Lagarde, director of the official CubaSí website, was the first to make the list public, when, on January 16, he listed the 20 websites “that usually assume an open stance against the Revolution, or that, from pseudo-revolutionary positions usually coincide with the policies (…) of the United States Government against Cuba.”

At the beginning of last year the digital magazine Tremenda Nota, which deals with minority issues and the LGBT agenda on the Island, joined the list of blocked sites the same week that the Government held the referendum on the constitution.

Although, in general, the media on the list have mostly reacted by criticizing the censorship of information and showing their solidarity with the others, the editors of La Joven Cuba regretted that some official voices “insist” on placing them in that position: “Where we do not want be, nor will we be.”

La Joven Cuba  joined in the past campaigns against the independent blogosphere that got started on the Island in 2007; in La Joven Cuba’s pages ample space was given to official campaigns that labeled critics as “CIA agents” and instruments of the “media war against Cuba.”

For her part, the Director of Periodismo de Barrio, Elaine Díaz, also regretted the inclusion of her site in the list of reactionary media and argued about the financial transparency of the site, which publishes its reports with the expenses and donations received, especially from embassies and foreign foundations.

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With Testimonies from Detainees, Cuban TV Accuses Miami’s "Mafia" of Financing Clandestinos

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 January 2020 — As it usually happens in these cases, Cuba’s State television monopoly presented a report on Tuesday that provides supposed evidence of the participation of “the anti-Cuban mafia based in Florida” in the desecration of José Martí’s busts by a group called Clandestinos.

The report, more than 11 minutes long, presents images of surveillance cameras in which two men are seen moving at night near the Plaza of the Revolution, one of the most controlled areas of the country. In its vicinity is the bust of Martí made by José Delarra and allegedly vandalized, according to a complaint from the workers of the neighboring Bohemia magazine. The bust had to be restored after the action, although photos of the damaged sculpture were never shown.

These men, whose arrest was announced on January 8, appear on the screen to relate the actions they took against the monuments dedicated to the national hero. According to the official press, Panter Rodríguez Baró, 44, and Yoel Prieto Tamayo, 29, “denigrated 11 Martí busts and three billboards with political content” in the early days of this year. continue reading

The strange thing is the casual and even mocking tone of the man who is presented as Panter when he talks about his use of marijuana and cocaine. The same sense of manipulation is suggested by his statements about the role of activist Ana Olema Hernández, who is pointed out as the head of the entire operation and who sent about $600 to Panter through Western Union, a not very discreet way of financing a clandestine operation.

To confirm their accusations, the report shows proof of bank transfer receipts, allegedly made by Hernández and her husband. Both allegedly sent more than $1,000 to Cuba to finance “enemy activities,” $600 of it for graffiti.

As an opponent, Cuban television labels Hernández a person who is “at the service of the United States Government and the anti-Cuban mafia based in Florida,” and accusers her of having links with “counterrevolutionary and terrorist” organizations and therefore being a “puppet of subversion” involved in causing “disorders.”

Ana Olema Hernández denied the accusations, which she described as false, through her social networks. “It is impossible to give credit to a report made by a press in the service of a dictatorship, with some interviewees, who are not being interviewed, but after days and days under interrogation, in the dungeons of State Security, are forced, God knows under what threat, to say anything.”

The opponent added that she would be proud “to support any civil and civic resistance movement in Cuba” but that, in her opinion, “that movement was born within Cuba spontaneously.”

Guillermo Mendoza, arrested for owning the phone with which Rodriguez and Prieto’s actions were filmed, and Jorge Ernesto Pérez, Panter’s cousin, also appear in the video. The latter is accused of maintaining communication with Hernández. In addition, both painted posters with the slogan “I vote no” against the constitutional reform last year; all this according to the official version.

“There were containers with pig blood in them. In the case of citizen Panter, a search was made in the garage where objects containing substances that were established to be drugs, specifically cocaine, were found,” said an officer interviewed for the report.

Cuban Television has not specified details about the judicial situation of the accused, but refers to the most serious penalties applied in the past to proclaim the virtues of the regime. “It would be possible to reflect that if in a past time eight medical students were unjustly murdered by an alleged outrage to the grave of a Spanish hero, what do these servants deserve? Luckily for them, the Cuban Revolution is fair,” they say.

The video also spares no effort in showing an alleged link between the actions of Clandestinos and the independent media that have reported their activities. El Nuevo Herald, ADN Cuba, Diario de Cuba, Cubita Now and 14ymedio are some of those that appear for having disseminated facts of “such magnitude.” That list coincides with the one of the designated pages that an official blogger recently published and was reproduced by other national information spaces.

State television establishes a link between the Clandestinos and the independent press of Miami and popular personalities who have shown support for the group. (Screen Capture)

The same diagram shows the faces of people, such as Alex Otaola, Aldo Roberto Rodríguez Baquero and actor Roberto San Martín, who had shown support for the actions of Clandestinos.

The group takes its name from a film by Fernando Pérez that addresses the clandestine struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s regime and, since the beginning of its activities, it has been cautious not to give details that allow identifying any of its components.

In the street and on the networks, meanwhile, the debate continues on whether the collctive is a group that genuinely struggles to make visible its protest against the Cuban government or a creation of State Security to link it to the opposition.

See also:

Clandestinos: Outcome and Teachings of a Hoax / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

The Controversy Over The Identity Of The Clandestinos Is Growing

Clandestinos, Legitimate Protest or Provocation by State Security?

Clandestinos: Heroes or Collateral Damage? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Three Girls Die in Old Havana When a Balcony Falls on Them

Two of the victims died on the spot while the other died in the hospital. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 28 January 2020 — Three girls died on Monday when a balcony collapsed in Old Havana, between Vives and Revillagigedo streets, in the Jesús María neighborhood. The neighbors said that the collapse of the structure occurred around half past four in the afternoon when the children had left school and were on the sidewalk rehearsing for the celebrations for the birth of José Martí.

This morning the police were still around and the yellow hazard tape and a crane remained at the scene, as this newspaper has verified.

“The girls were just starting their lives, those parents must be shattered, they were in sixth grade, how many dreams lost by imprudence. Look, the crane arrived, now they come to demolish it with the crane? Now that it already fell? They should also go to the corner and prop it up, so this movie doesn’t happen right away in the next block,” says an old lady with tears in her eyes while talking to a friend. continue reading

All these cases have in common the poor state of the properties and the authorities neglecting to take measures that could have prevented these deaths.

The three girls, María Karla Fuentes and Lisnavy Valdés Rodríguez, 12, and Rocío García Nápoles, 11, were studying at the Quintín Banderas elementary school. Two of the victims died instantly and the third in the hospital. The neighbors claim that the rear of the building had begun to be demolished, but the area was not marked as would have been necessary to avoid situations like this.

“I do not understand, why are there so many police and all that now, that should have been avoided,” said a neighbor on Vives Street this morning when a car from the operational guard arrived to investigate the event.

“I was doing something with my phone and suddenly I felt the rumble, I ran to help, but you couldn’t see them, the pieces of the balcony were huge and two of the girls died on the spot, the one that came out best died as soon as she arrived at the hospital, after she left here in her mother’s arms,” says another neighbor on the block.

Around 9:20 in the morning a parade of boys from a nearby school who were paying tribute to José Martí passed by the front of the collapsed building. The official press has reported the event this morning around 10:00, when the independent press had already featured it on its covers, in some cases since the previous day.

Jesús María is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Havana and is forgotten by the authorities, according to residents.

Just two months ago there was another similar tragedy that involved a minor. It was on November 3, in the Playa municipality, when a building collapsed leaving two fatalities, a 13-year-old girl and her mother. On that occasion there was a survivor, the child’s grandmother.

The operational guard appeared this morning at the scene to investigate the fact. (14ymedio)

Also in March there was the death of another person in similar circumstances in the Cerro neighborhood. On that occasion a building collapsed that the neighbors had been requesting be fixed for fifteen years. After there was a fatality, the building was demolished after evicting the 36 people who lived there.

In July 2015, four other people died, also in Old Havana. A building on Havana Street, between Obispo and Obrapía, collapsed around six in the morning when the inhabitants, for the most part, were still asleep. In the incident, a girl of just three years, two young people of 18 and a woman of 60 lost their lives.

All these cases have in common the poor state of the properties and the neglect of the authorities to take measures that could have prevented these deaths.

Some 1.7 million houses, that is 39% of the housing stock in Cuba, are in a poor or bad state, according to the Housing authorities. The situation is particularly serious in Havana, specifically in Centro Habana and Old Havana, municipalities with a high population density.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

China’s Exports to Cuba Fall Almost 30% in One Year

China has supplied Cuba with machinery and railcars. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 January 2020 – Chinese exports to Cuba fell by almost 30% in a single year from 1.1 billion dollars in 2018 to 791 million dollars in 2019, that is, 309 million dollars less.

The data – provided by the Chinese Customs Office on Monday and disseminated by the British agency Reuters –reveal the liquidity crisis experienced by the Island, since the figure was even higher in 2015, with exports worth 1.9 billion dollars, 63.6% more than now.

That year was the first in which Cuba began to lag in import payments to its foreign suppliers, coinciding with the fall in aid from its main political and economic partner at that time, Venezuela. continue reading

China has since gained prominence as an ally of Cuba and continues to be one of its main supports. The Asian giant invests in alternative energy and financing for development in light industry and communications, among others.

In addition, China supplies Havana machinery and transport equipment, raw materials, chemicals and food.

In 2018, Cuba exported goods and services worth a total of $14.5 billion, and imported $12.6 billion. The data for the last year have not yet been provided, but reductions are expected, as Diaz-Canel himself announced.

Cuba’s exports to China are valued at $492 million in 2019, the most important being sugar and nickel.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Exile Community Makes Fun of the "Revelations" on Cuban Television About The Clandestinos

Cuban television links several Cuban exiles in Miami to the Clandestinos.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 23, 2020 — After being pointed out by the Cuban State’s television monopoly as the main person responsible for the activities of the Clandestinos, Ana Olema Hernández responded this Wednesday on the program El Espejo of AmericaTeve. “The system has no credibility. It’s a total defamation,” said the activist.

Hernández, who lives in Miami, was accused in the Tuesday report on the State channel of having paid $600 to Panter Rodríguez Baró, who is presumed responsible along with Yoel Prieto Tamayo, of pouring pork blood on 11 busts of Martí and writing political content on three walls at the beginning of 2020. In order to sustain its accusations, the program showed alleged receipts of money sent by Western Union.

Hernández admitted having known Rodríguez during a brief visit to Cuba in 2018, but she denies any link to the Clandestinos or knowing any of the other three accused. continue reading

“From the very first moment they have tried to find someone guilty in order to keep the image they want to give that the System maintains absolute control of the country,” said the activist, who thinks the situation is out of the control of the Government.

Hernández was accused in the report of being “at the service of the United States and the anti-Cuban mafia located in Florida”, of having ties with “counterrevolutionary and terrorist” organizations and of being, furthermore, a “puppet of subversion” implicated in causing “disorders.”

“The idea of the Clandestinos isn’t mine. They are trying to deny that there is an autonomous and legitimate opposition that is born from popular discontent,” he argued, before demanding that the Government have free elections.

Yonel Fernando Cardoso, another of those pointed out by Cuban television, admitted in a statement to El Nuevo Herald that he administers the Facebook group, “We are all Clandestinos”, which has more than 11,000 followers, but ties to the collective end there.

“I don’t have any relationship with the four people arrested in Havana. On my page, which is different from the Clandestinos page, I publish the Clandestino actions that other activists send me from Cuba,” she said.

The Miami paper contacted the activist, Liu Santiesteban, who also rejected the ties traced by the Cubans between the Clandestinos and Ana Olema Hernández or Ultrak by the mere fact that they had written songs about them.

“The Clandestinos are liked by a good part of Cuban society, although some people feel offended. I’ve seen many people who were first offended but later understood the message. The Clandestinos have taken away faith in the regime from many people, and that’s what scares the Government,” declared El Nuevo Herald.

The newspaper also spoke with the actor Roberto San Martín. “Why do I have to believe a regime that tortures and assassinates? I’m sure they’re trying to discredit Ana Olema, who recently went viral against the dictatorship, and those guys are simple snitches used to denigrate and shut up the opposition,” he said from Madrid, where he resides.

In addition, he said he had received a “suspicious” call by someone who tried to link him with the Clandestinos. “Under threat of execution, as they’ve had those guys, anybody will say anything. I don’t believe a thing the dictatorship says. There have no respect for the most elemental human rights,” he said.

Some of the media mentioned in a diagram used by Cuban State television are El Nuevo Herald, ADN Cuba, Diario de Cuba, Cubita Now and 14ymedio. They are accused of spreading facts of “similar magnitude,” although the official press itself has reported on the activities of the Clandestinios.

The musician Aldo Roberto Rodríguez Baquero, the political leader Rosa María Payá and the announcer Alex Otaola also appear in the diagram. Otaola told the Nuevo Herald that the Government continues to lie.

“As always, it’s a manipulation, a way to blame others for their disastrous system. It’s a ridiculous farce taking advantage of any excuse to create invisible enemies.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

See also:

Clandestinos: Outcome and Teachings of a Hoax / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

The Controversy Over The Identity Of The Clandestinos Is Growing

Clandestinos, Legitimate Protest or Provocation by State Security?

Clandestinos: Heroes or Collateral Damage? / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Authorities Block Reinaldo Escobar, Editor-in-Chief of 14ymedio, From Traveling

Reinaldo Escobar on Monday after being told that he could not board his plane to Columbia. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 January 2020 — The journalist Reinaldo Escobar was not able to travel to Bogotá to participate in the event Where is the region going? Democratic perspectives in Latin America, being hosted by Sergio Arboleda University. The editor-in-chief of 14ymedio was informed that he was “regulated” early this Monday, while trying to pass the immigration window at José Martí International Airport.

“I checked in very early with the Copa Airlines airline and everything went well without any problem, but when I went to the immigration counter they told me what to expect,” he says. “Shortly afterwards another officer arrived, he took my passport and told me to accompany him to an office.”

The officer was sparing in details. “Unfortunately you cannot fly, here on the computer it says that you have a travel ban,” said the official of the Directorate of Identification and Immigration and Aliens (DIIE). continue reading

Escobar invoked article 52 of the Constitution of the Republic which ensures that “persons have the freedom to enter, remain, transit and leave the national territory, change their domicile or residence, without any other limitations than those established by law,” but the Officer insisted that he did not know the reasons for the ban.

“You have to go to the police station in your area to see why you have a travel ban,” he reiterated on multiple occasions.

Escobar is not being prosecuted or investigated for any crime, has no outstanding fines and does not have a criminal record, all reasons that can be legally used to prevent someone from traveling. “My passport is updated, with its corresponding extension and my visa is also in order,” he added.

Several human rights organizations, national and international, have denounced the repression of this new strategy that consists in restricting the movement of activists, opponents and journalists to prevent them from traveling abroad.

Last year, Guillermo del Sol shined a light on this problem through his 55 day hunger strike which he held to denounce, initially, the “regulation” of his son. The independent press sector is one of the most punished, since its professionals are invited to workshops, courses or conferences and are prevented from attending by applying this status.

Two 14ymedio reporters had already been regulated previously, Luz Escobar and Ricardo Fernández, a group now joined by our editor-in-chief.

Abraham Jiménez Enoa, from El Estornudo, as well as Boris González Arenas, Maykel González Vivero and Jorge Amado are among the other journalists from private media who have been through the same.

Among the activists and opponents who have also been “regulated” are Katherine Mojena, Abdel Legrá Pacheco, Fernando Palacio, María Elena Mir Marrero and Enix Barrio Sardá, among others.

The total list of those affected by this measure, which is updated by the Patmos Institute, exceeds to more than 200, although the number is constantly changing because it can be a temporary measure and activated at the convenience of the authorities. Sometimes, when the injured party goes to Migration to protest, he is told that it has been an error and they proceed to remove him from the list, but by that time the plane has left and the planned trip was thwarted.

The most recent case, this same Sunday, was that of art curator Claudia Genlui, who reported on her social networks that she was prevented from traveling to Colombia “for work reasons.” “Why am I regulated? Am I (are we, because this list is growing) criminals? I only see intellectuals, artists, activists and human rights defenders imprisoned on this Island, forbidden from their freedom and limited in their capacities to overcome. A strategy that advocates forcing us into exile, exhausting ourselves and breaking our creative spirit,” Genlui said on her networks.

Since October 2018, Sergio Arboleda University has developed the Cuba Program that focuses on analyzing the democratic perspectives on current affairs in the Island. The initiative seeks to “understand the processes that have been experienced” in the Cuban reality in recent years and “understand the impacts on the region.”

Together with the students of the University’s Politics and International Relations program, Colombian activists and politicians and academics in the region, have passed through the Cuba Program, including voices such as the historian Armando Chaguaceda, the sociologist Elaine Acosta and the journalist Yoani Sánchez

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Clandestinos: Outcome and Teachings of a Hoax / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Panter Rodríguez and Yoel Prieto, alleged members of Clandestinos presented on Cuba TV. (Facebook photo)

Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, West Palm Beach, 23 January 2020 – the hare has finally jumped. The recently starred report on Cuban television news about the capture and information of the alleged members of the spooky group “Clandestinos”, tends to seal the fate of what, so far, has the appearance of a warped creation developed in the offices of the State Security rather than that of a true “rebellion” in the Castro ranch.

Showing the usual media manipulation to which the regime has so accustomed us -and which, nevertheless, continues to surprise us by its rampant bungling- this time they have presented a group of alleged criminals who confess their participation in the graffiti to the Busts of José Martí and other “symbols of the revolution”, which the authorities themselves claim, without offering images, were occurring in the first weeks of this year.

Incidentally, the statements of the aforementioned accused offer “testimonials” about financing from Miami by the long-established and cliché “anti-Cuban mafia”, also linked to other counterrevolutionary groups on both sides of the Florida Strait. Nothing new in the official script. continue reading

Leaving aside the unreliable television reporting which is lacking in evidence, it is worth highlighting the repetitiveness of the scheme created by the political police. Not only is a plot organized and financed from the US and carried out by stateless mercenaries within the Island; not only is the dissident scheme reiterated, the same as the criminal scheme that all critical sectors to the system within Cuba  have been demonized -which this time brings the additional component of drug possession and consumption- but they have taken advantage of the opportunity to expand the scope to include independent art and journalism sectors in the saga, at the same time raising the tone of the threat to a few, not too veiled insinuations of applying the death penalty to such “crimes” that affront the Fatherland.

I strongly attracts attention that in the midst of the increasingly pronounced economic crisis, given the growing uncertainty about the future that awaits Cubans, and with a permanently bleak horizon with no signs of a viable exit, in just a matter of days it has “emerged” and has been “defeated” by a police force that presumes to be among five best in the world, an imaginary liberating group that had an ephemeral but meteoric life in the networks only to stir up the hopes of the most naïve, and also serves as wild card to the regime to justify any repressive action against the opposition and against any manifestation of dissent or questioning the dictatorial power. All very suspiciously opportune.

But, although crushing, the message of this television report is not harmless: it points directly to the fact that any demonstration against the designs of the Power class will be severely punished, without ruling out the maximum death penalty by execution. And in that broad “criminal” spectrum that the regime has staged are included from a blueprint that summons legitimate citizens right to vote against a spurious Constitution, from staining a bust of Marti or a billboard of the official ideology to peacefully opposing the application of a government disposition, as is the case of Decree 349 that prohibits independent art demonstrations, but note, not in favor of the political power. All the unhappy and freethinkers are absolutely susceptible to falling into the dark sack of disloyal mercenaries.

Paradoxically, it is this murky media escalation of Power that seems to shed more light on the hoax. If anything is demonstrated, it is that “Clandestinos”, far from meaning a libertarian advancement, as its most ardent defenders wished it were so, has proved to be a maliciously useful trick to the dictatorship both to quell the outbreaks of citizen protests that have begun to bargain in different parts of Cuba and to stop future similar manifestations and through its course, to maintain the iron fence of isolation around dissidence.

However, the set could collaterally transmit a subliminal information: such wear of police “intelligence” and so much time and resources destined to plan the bluff, discredit any manifestation of nonconformity and raise the repressive emphasis suggest that the internal Cuban situation is a lot more complex and delicate than what we see or guess at.

the moment is definitive critical but defining, not only for those who hold the absolute Power and for all its cohort of Amanuenses, hitmen and other thugs, but also for the entire independent civil society that aspires to rights and freedoms long denied. Now the cards are on the table. As far as I am concerned, Clandestinos does not go beyond being the most recent deception of Castro’s “intelligence”, although confirmation of my suspicions does not give me any satisfaction.

If this unfortunate episode can be of any use to us, it is to stop believing in masked mirages and put aside our differences. Because it is clear that they come for everyone: opponents, journalists and independent artists, network activists and even corner protesters, that is, all those who defy the regime’s excesses or exercise citizen freedoms without asking permission and with unmasked faces.

If Castro’s media has convinced me of anything with this TV report, it is that Clandestinos is its Frankenstein: an invention of State Security “think tanks” meant to hunt the unsuspecting, deepen the divisions that weaken civil society, create false expectations to provoke disenchantment and discourage Cubans’ aspirations for change, make believe that any resistance to the dictatorship is impossible (even that which is framed and hidden), and create a matrix of negative opinion about any manifestation of confrontation to the regime.

But it so happens that not only the dictatorship and its dark repressive apparatus depend on the success or failure of this awkward presentation. Ultimately, it is also up to us, opponents, dissidents, journalists and independent artists and freethinkers of all trends not to let us be tempted with ghostly creations and keep our claims. Let the Power invoke its specters. And good luck to them and the past that awaits them!

Translated by Norma Whiting

Bolivian Running The Cuban Medical Programme Arrested On Corruption Charges

Carlos de la Rocha was the national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales` government health programme (Red Uno)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 9th 2020 – The Attorney General of Bolivia arrested Carlos de la Rocha, who was national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales´ government health programme, and accused him of corruption,  for alleged “anti-economic” activity, failure to complete duties, and aggravated robbery, as reported in the country´s press.

De la Rocha, a Bolivian national, and doctor by profession, rejects the charges and insists that there are documents which prove he did everything in a legal manner. “I am innocent of all wrongdoing, we always managed the programme and its resources with total transparency. You can see that by examining all the documentation in the Ministry of Health”, the ex-official told the press before being taken off to a detention centre.

The ex-official had made a declaration to the Attorney General, following a summons from that office to clarify what happened to the millions of dollars used by the previous government to finance the Cubans in Bolivia. continue reading

According to his lawyer, Luis Velasco, De la Rocha did what he was supposed to do: “He was appointed by memorandum as coordinator of this programme, he proceeded to administer and manage the funds by way of the approved budget”, he told Eju TV channel.

The Medical College of Bolivia requested an investigation into the funding provided by the government of Evo Morales, an ally of Cuba, for the contracting of doctors from the island. Havana withdrew more than 700 “cooperating aid workers” from the country, following Evo Morales` exit last November.

A little before that, the government in Ecuador had decided to put an end to the presence of Cuban doctors in the public health system, and, a year earlier, following the electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro, Cuba had withdrawn 8,300 doctors who were working in remote parts of Brazil.

“We are discovering the indiscriminate use of government resources, the misuse of public money deposited in private accounts for, supposedly, paying Cubans, when those funds should have been in a fiscal account”, stated the President of the Medical College of La Paz, Luis Larrea.

Larrea accused the Cuban doctors of inflating the statistics of patients treated, and discarding drugs paid for by the Bolivian budget in order to increase purchases of drugs, by the previous government, from the island. He also asserted that Morales discriminated against Bolivian doctors, many of whom were unemployed, while he contracted foreign personnel.

The Bolivian Minister of Health, Aníbal Cruz, revealed that only 205 out of the 702 Cubans stationed in Bolivia had qualifications as doctors. After reviewing the contract papers of the Cuban functionaries, the Jeanine Añez interim government President determined that the majority were technicians or chauffeurs. Nevertheless, they were all charged as doctors.

In over 13 years in government, Evo Morales never revealed the cost of the Cuban squads to the Bolivian treasury.

Cuba’s principal source of income is the sale of medical services. International agencies have criticised Havana for the doctors´employment conditions, under which they receive 25% of what the foreign governments pay for them.

“We don´t have true and complete information about the salaries of the Cuban mission, but what we do know is that the money came from the Health Ministry. They paid $1,040 monthly for each of them.” said the new Minister, Aníbal Cruz.

From its preliminary database, the Ministry of Health calculates that its country paid Cuba $69.4m for the Cuban missions, without taking into account the eye operations promoted by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, which were also carried out by Cuban doctors.

Roxana Lizarraga Vega, Minister of Communications of the Interim Government, said that at least 100 of the Cubans who came to Bolivia as part of the medical teams were in fact intelligence agents.

The La Paz police entered three Cuban medical team “safe houses”, where they found electrical circuits, security cameras, a hidden safe room, a safe, and various documents which are  being studied by the Attorney’s office.

 Translated by GH

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Fines of 100 Cuban Pesos for Sitting at the Havana Bus Terminal

Travelers sit on the ground or lean against the walls of the National Bus Terminal in the absence of sufficient seats. (Courtesia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 22, 2020 – The same scene is repeated day after day. Hundreds of passengers crowd in the Bus Terminal of Havana and in the absence of enough seats, some make themselves comfortable by sitting on the floor, or on the projections of a wall. Without knowing it, they commit an infraction that can end in a fine, as happened on Tuesday to several university students.

That day during the afternoon, an inspector imposed fines of 100 cuban pesos each to a group of young people who had sat down on a small wall inside the bus station while they waited for the transportation to take them to their destination.

The inspector sanctioned the young people because they had allegedly violated Decree Law 272, especially article 17, which considers an infraction to affect “by any form or means, wall, facades, sidewalks, doors, windows or any part of the exterior of buildings, cinemas, theaters, hotels, elevators or other premises open to the public. “ continue reading

The text regulates behaviors in the matter of Territorial and Urban Planning and punishes those who damage decorations, the communal hygiene and monuments. Often it is also applied in public spaces such as bus terminals and government offices, which generates much discomfort among citizens who stick up for themselves by appealing to the lack of facilities while waiting for service.

“Who likes sitting on a wall when you can be in a seat with more comfort?” asks Dayana Peña, who witnessed the incident at the main interprovincial bus station in Havana and often frequents those installations. “This place has no facilities for the number of people who spend hours waiting.”

The young woman, who lives in Matanzas and travels every week to the Cuban capital, says that “instead of improving the situation so that passengers who pay for the service do not go through all these inconveniences, they want to fix the matter by imposing fines.” She says she has even seen “people who have ended up at a police station for arguing over the inspector’s fine.”

In her Facebook account another witness, Diraine Aguiar, denounced the case, which immediately prompted several comments of solidarity with the young people and complaints about the state of the terminal, which was the subject of a capital repair program recently.

“They gave me an unjust fine for sitting and leaning against a little wall of the terminal. Me and two other students,” said one of those affected by the penalty on condition of anonymity. The young man said that many passengers showed their solidarity with the students and complained to the inspector for her harshness and for not taking into account the infrastructure problems of the terminal.

Although the inspector who imposed the fine was not identified, it is known that it is Teresa Fernández. Last December, Fernández was the target of a complaint made on the social networks by a self-employed worker who was also fined for selling his products outside the municipality where he has his self-employed license.

In the incident on Tuesday, “the fine has no legal basis, for several reasons, but especially because there was no sign that prohibited sitting in that place, in addition to the fact that people were forced to sit on the ground including the elderly and disabled because in the waiting list room there were about 200 people and only about 25 seats”, explained one of the fined individuals to this newspaper.

“The inspectors arrived and went directly to where we were sitting, no one from the terminal management intervened to explain the situation nor did any employee call to our attention the matter prior to the incident, the first complaint was to impose the fine of 100 cuban pesos, which is a lot of money for a student who has no income of his own,” he claimed.

A few hours later, the inspectors were still prowling around the place. “This terminal is a disaster, they demand a lot and do very little,” a passenger waiting to travel to Sancti Spiritus complained at nightfall. “They demand a lot from customers but the bathroom is a disaster, there is not a single drinking fountain, everything they sell to eat and drink is very expensive and to top it off there is almost no place to sit.

The woman, who was traveling with her two daughters, improvised a seat in a corner with some luggage and a cardboard box. “The floor is cold but that’s what it is because the seats are all full and nobody wants to risk a fine for leaning against the wall.”

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria

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Tragedy in the Darien Jungle: a Warning to the Returnee / Jeovany Jimenez Vega

Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 17 June 2019 — Several weeks ago we received the news of the tragedy of the Armila River, in shock. On the night of April 23rd, dozens of Cuban families were mourning when more than fifty young people, who traveled north into Panamanian jungle, died dragged by a sudden flood.

Despite its obvious dramatic and seriousness of the news, it found, however, relatively little exposure on international mainstream media and Internet sites, which clearly shows, why Cuban matter can be considered more profound and harder to solve, than other Regional conflicts now in the spotlight -meaning- Venezuela and Nicaragua unfortunate situation of  under their respective dictatorships.

Perhaps if these deaths had occurred among young people from these two countries (Venezuela and Nicaragua), the tragedy would have had a greater impact; but when the news is about Cubans fleeing from Castro regime, relevance is reduced because more than half a century of dictatorship always have its toll of attrition. It appears today that the loss of our emigrants retains all its tragical nuances only if it is suffered within a Cuban home from the perspective of the father in despair or an orphan child.

Cuban authorities, of course, looked the other way. In its cynical logic, this Panama doesn’t seems the same that a loud  psychologist -from the UJC (Cuban Youth Union)-traveled to, with her humble  salary,  to boycott the 2015 Summit: for the dictatorship she is regarded as a model citizen and these (deceased Cubans) are nothing but dead maggots. [The name given by Castro regime to anyone willing to leave the island seeking freedom.]

In contrast to this new Castro regime massacre a few days ago, a “new official position” emerged: the elite of the “Revolution Square” recently made it clear to Cuban diaspora, that in their “draconian” Law of Foreign Investment 118, in effect since March 2014, it actually does not exclude Cubans from being able to invest in their own country, however, holding eager ones back, reminds them, this offer is only  for those whose net worth and residence are stablished abroad.

Needless to say, such a statement, excludes a private sector that struggles to survive in the Island, in spite of all obstacles imposed by a dull system, obsessed in demonstrating that “the anticipated bright future” is incubated in its state own socialist enterprise.

These two -apparently unrelated- news show the complexity of a failed society whose dictatorship not only coax civil and political liberties of my people, but as collateral, grabs with an iron hand their economic rights aswell.

Even so, in recent years, the increased tendency of some Cubans whom after residing for several years abroad -oblivious of reality in the island and having neglected their citizenship- has now returning to reside  in Cuba for good, through an insulting process called “repatriation”, humiliating euphemism given by the same (officials) who have deprived them of their right to travel and return freely, as if Homeland belonged to a few (in power) and not all of us instead.

Personally, I cannot understand under which mysterious reasoning, those who one day emigrated, stung by dreams of prosperity and from a complete certainty that they would never achieve it under a totalitarian police regime, come to conclusion, that only because they return with a few saved dollars  – even thousands, or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, in this case the amount is not relevant – today they will have more guarantees of success.

The naive ones must be aware of a bunch of snitches, there are still around each block (in the neighborhood), either by twisted conviction or primitive envy, they will inform about their every move, the moment they (private entrepreneurs) start a small business. Today the “juggling” needed to get goods in the Cuban (domestic) market, whether formal or informal, would make “Cirque du Soleil Stars” look like rookies; besides “an army” of crooked state inspectors and corrupted police officers -awaits in their neighborhood- “sharpening their teeth” to extort them; that there is no humane way to run a business in Cuba legally, because the very law that rules businesses is exquisitely designed to prevent it, and everything will have to occur “as illegally and secretly” as when they left, a case among many, in the exodus of 1994.

It is true, that everyone knows their own “Maleconazo” (1994 riot) and everyone understands their own reasons, but nobody should be so naive, assuming a false distension of the authorities after “the mirage of the Obama era”, because -sooner than later- they will collide with a reality as suffocating as the one that made them flee before. To expect something different would be like “building castles in the air”.

And it’s not about Trump’s strengthening US positions,  no; but Cuba remaining static because the dictatorship of Fidel and Raúl Castro – now with the new administrator Díaz-Canel at the threshold of the door, with the same Masters – remaining entrenched at the same position and betting on poverty for my people as a strategic weapon of control in order to stay in power.

Probably, at this moment, many returnees  regret the possibility of reversing the film, and have come to the conclusion that under such circumstances, it is not enough to own the capital, but rather to live ruled by institutions that protect and stimulate with sincere enthusiasm, producers  and small enterprises – contradicted reason  to major investors desperately needed in  today’s Cuba.

Whoever studies this Foreign Investment Law will advise that, it does not even wink at emigration, that it does not even imply any priority or preferred treatment, as anyone would expect. Rather, owners of the slum “place excuses beforehand” and clarify that everything will be on equal terms: in our case, the State Employer Company will also  mediate to pocket 90% of our wages; Cuban authorities will designate, with no exception, each operator and engineer within these companies – among which the State Security will infiltrate their henchmen – and will keep 60% of all benefits.

Such carelessness raises such unfair rules of the game, that so far no one bites the hook, and Mariel’s Special Development Zone sits idle and dusty as a witness – a project that so far has attracted only 15% of investments and profits expected by   Castro regime.

Then the question that follows: Why if the Foreign Investment Law has failed to appeal the rest of the world, it would appeal to Cuban Diaspora that knows the bird by its color? What make clown Bruno Parrilla, chameleon Malmierca, pub  administrator Diaz-Canel, and their boss, Raúl Castro, think, that emigrants will fall for a scheme they know better than anyone else?

Why would exiled Cuban entrepreneurs take chances under current circumstances, knowing that all profits will go directly to finance repressive forces of regime? Why is it, our fellow emigrant choose to pay $10,000 to traffickers on the Straits of Florida or Central America, and does not even consider investing his own country? Why do their relatives in Miami  follow the same reasoning and support them?

Would third world emigrants -who take up the same coyote route- take chances on a  reckless venture should they had $10,000 to finance a family business? What powerful reason convinces Cubans that no capital is worth in this broke Cuba that flee from out of despair? How to understand that in recent years Cubans took more than 2.3 billion dollars annually out of the country to buy abroad to supply the black market –figures coincidentally similar to the 2.5 billion annually that experts set as a goal for the Foreign investment that Cuba needs to get out of this predicament? The similarity of these figures denounces the scale of the absurd.

All of this, must be taken into account by Cuban emigrants when planning on coming back. Should that effort is fueled by nostalgia of those little details and simply prefer to keep those many things that cuddle their romantic heart, oh well, “go for it”, !A natural desire of returning to the womb and your home, no matter how distorted our reality is, but you should never be so naive to set sail on a return trip assuming that something has changed in Cuba: you must be certain that in the meadows of your childhood today, you will find burnt land, and a country that in many respects it resemblance the darkest phase of the “special period” (worst crisis of the 90s).

Future returnees must be aware they return to a harsh battlefield. There are  more than fifty Cuban corpses that have been swallowed by the Darien jungle to prove it, as a clear warning. Meanwhile dictatorship ensures nothing happens, that tenseness will be a matter of a few months, that we should not fear hunger since chubby generals will guarantee everyone “Hutia meat and Ostrich milk”, that there is nothing to worry about or bringing ghosts from the past, because the “special period” was already buried thanks to the brilliant directives left by the enlightened Fidel Castro.

And to top it off now they tell us that emigrants can invest in Cuba, which should only be taken as proof of despair, coming from a regime that will never cease to despise us. The one thing despots do not tell is that once their money has been invested, their business has failed and their assets confiscated, returnees will face the only two choices left: either they end up in prison or try ,desperately,  the same route back again through Darién jungle. Luckily, we are certain, or hopeful, that “Liborio” might be poor, but his not a fool.

Translated by RAFAEL

Cuatro Caminos Hasn’t Recovered

It is necessary to line up for almost half an hour to access the Cuatro Caminos market. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 13 January 2020 — Although it is less than two months since the reopening of the Cuatro Caminos market, it has already suffered two temporary closures. This Saturday, the establishment reopened completely after five days with the food area closed.

The state corporation Cimex confirmed to this newspaper that the market suffered breakdowns that made it difficult to provide services, so on January 6, a partial closure was carried out to perform “maintenance work, troubleshooting, refueling and inventory.”

In a note spread through its main communication channels, Cimex had already explained that the main actions of the maintenance process were in the areas of freezing and refrigeration and that, in addition to polishing floors, the entrance door had to be repaired by Arroyo Street, plus other electrical arrangements. continue reading

A neighbor of the central market, which has a private cafe in front of its entrance, confirmed to this newspaper that “it was only five days that that part of the food market was closed” and it “never” closed completely.

However, little has been noted of the alleged resupply promised by Cimex.

In the agricultural products part of the Cuatro Caminos market, in Saturday there were only cabbages, tomatos, pineapples, pumpkins and papayas. (14ymedio)

Walking this Saturday through some of the departments, with their polished, bright and spacious corridors, resembled walking through a museum of modern art.

“I do not know why so money was spent on this super-space. Look at some of the agricultural products right now, there are only cabbages, tomatoes, pineapples, pumpkins and papayas,” said an employee of that section to 14ymedio.

To enter the mall you had to wait in line for at least 25 or 30 minutes, all  to not find on the shelves the products you wanted, such as butter, chicken breasts, and eggs. The cleaning and household tools department also exhibited great poverty in its supplies.

“Inside the market is a shame. I have sometimes seen the empty windows, or the same product repeated to infinity. Today there is not a quarter of everything that the leaders of the country showed proudly on television on the day of its reopening for the [celebration of] Havana’s 500 years,” another neighbor of the property told this newspaper.

Around the market there is a large police presence and a large number of surveillance cameras. In each building entrance you can see between two and four officers controlling the passage of customers, who let in ten at a time to prevent a large number of people from entering in the same period of time.

The installation, reopened on November 16 after years of total repair, closed its doors on the same day of its official opening due to the incidents that occurred as a result of the crowds. Several unfortunate incidents were baptized by Internet users in social networks such as the Battle of Cuatro Caminos, and the situation caused great economic losses and managers were forced to decide to close their doors to repair the damage caused.

Walking through the establishment is like touring a museum of modern art. (14ymedio)

Presented before the national television cameras as a modern market and the high point so far of this century, the space ultimately proved unable to escape the same problems that any other store in the country is experiencing.

Recently, during some rains in the capital, images of floods that partially affected the market circulated on Facebook. A neighbor who also saw his house under water last week summed up the situation: “Many invested in the building but the surrounding infrastructure is still the same.”

See also:

The Cuatro Caminos Market Closes Until Next Week Due To Social “Indiscipline”

The “Resurrection” of the Cuatro Caminos Market and Free Trade in Cuba

Why the Reopening of the Cuatro Caminos Market Failed

The Cuatro Caminos Market Will be a Museum

Without Its Market Cuatro Caminos Seems Lost

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Controversy Over The Identity Of The Clandestinos Is Growing

The nature of the group that calls itself “Clandestinos” is unknown, and it’s not clear if it really committed the actions promoted on its social networks.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar/Mario J. Pentón, Havana/Miami, January 9, 2020 — Doubt, controversy and passion surround the Clandestinos, an anonymous group that through social networks says they have dumped pork blood on several busts of José Martí in Havana. The Government says it detained two of the members on Wednesday but the organization says it doesn’t know them.

The official newspaper, Granma, said the police detained Panter Rodríguez Baró, 44, who had a record, and Yoel Prieto Tamayo, 29, for “the profanation of some busts of José Martí,” but without mentioning the name of the group.

“The offense was a dirty media ploy to create the belief that there is a climate of insecurity and violence in Cuba,” said the article, which was read on the news on television. continue reading

The information, read on Primetime News, also questioned the speed with which the news spread on social networks and independent media. “The photos that showed the busts of the national hero covered in pork blood were posted on the Internet a very short time after it was done,” the text pointed out. “Several alternative media that posted the story support those who try to orchestrate lies about the Cuban reality.”

The Clandestinos immediately denied any connection to those arrested. “We don’t know these people. No member of our organization has been detained,” said one of the members, without revealing his identity, in correspondence with 14ymedio and el Nuevo Herald.

“We’re not a political group,” added a presumed member of the Clandestinos, which claimed responsibility for throwing pork blood on Martí because “his image has been very manipulated by the dictatorship.”

“It’s an outrage that his name is used to reproach and abuse people,” he added. According to his version, the group chose the figure of Martí because “he is loved by all Cubans.”

“He’s our national hero, our apostle, and whatever action is taken with his figure has a great impact,” he added.

Since the beginning of the year, the Cuban internauts have been debating whether their actions were a form of protest or vandalism, or if it’s a strategy of the omnipresent State Security to justify its repression against the dissidents, but up to now there is little evidence and few witnesses.

In a tour by 14ymedio of several places where the Clandestinos said they carried out actions, there are few certainties. On January 4, the fence located on one side of the Ciudad Deportiva, where the faces of José Martí, Fidel Castro and Lázaro Peña can be seen, doesn’t show any intervention or traces of having been changed, although two days before, in a video of the Clandestinos, you can see a red stain.

Bust of José Martí outside the Ministry of Transport. On the left is the photo taken by Enrique Sánchez on January 1, and on the right an image by 14ymedio on January 4. (14ymedio).

It wasn’t possible to find a bust with blood outside the Latin American Stadium, where the group said they poured blood over one of the sculptures. Nor were there traces of any action two days later outside the police station on calle Infanta near Manglar.

Attempts to obtain the exact locations of the stained busts from the Clandestinos didn’t help locate them. In addition, the authorities could have cleaned and painted many of them in the meantime.

The group’s name comes from a Fernando Pérez movie that addresses the clandestine struggle against the regime of Fulgencio Batista and it is careful not to give details that would allow identification of any of its members. One of them appeared in a Facebook video covered with a hood, and the press could only speak with him through chatting, and for a short time.

The official Cuban press has given free rein to its indignation but has been very frugal in releasing information concerning the facts, including the content of the arrest warrant. The personnel of the reviews Bohemia and Verde Olivio, whose writing is close to the buildings that are most emblematic of power in Havana, promote an act of repudiation against the Clandestinos, calling them “vile and unpatriotic counterrevolutionaries”.

According to Bohemia, a bust of Martí made by the now-deceased Cuban sculptor, José Delarra, had to be restored after the group’s action, but they didn’t show any photos of the action.

Vague opinion columns, texts of claims around the figure of the national hero, references to expected sanctions in the Penal Code against those “who don’t deserve to be called Cubans” have appeared in media like Cubadebate and Granma and have been replicated by members of the Government, including Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The Clandestinos assert that the photos give them recognition. “Why would the Government complain about something that didn’t happen?” they said, after many Cubans didn’t believe the photos and thought they were a hoax or something that was photoshopped on the social networks.

Anonymity makes it easy for people who don’t initially have ties to the Clandestinos to join the cause, whether by following or even by imitating them. Some Facebook posts are sharing the slogan “We are all Clandestinos”, placing the group in the predicament of having to claim or refute actions that can be carried out independently.

“We want to send a message to the dictatorship: this is war. We are tired of bowing our heads. And to the people the message is clear: The time has come,” said the supposed leader of the Clandestinos.

The organization has members in Cuba and in exile, added the spokesperson, refusing to reveal the number of militants. But he did say that they were mainly young people who were “tired of the dictatorship”.

One of the few witnesses of the Clandestinos’ actions was the meteorologist, Enrique Sánchez. “I was walking through the area of the Ministry of Transport and what called my attention was the stained, vandalized bust,” Sánchez told this newspaper.

“It was on January 1, in the afternoon, when I saw it. It made me mad so I took a photo in order to complain on Twitter about the lack of punishment for whoever was responsible,” he added. Sánchez stated that he didn’t agree with “desecrating national symbols as a mode of protest”.

A little later, this newspaper could confirm that the bust had been cleaned and painted and that an offering of flowers had been placed at the pedestal.

From Miami, where he was visiting, the dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, spoke about the subject with the América Noticias network. He showed an exchange of messages that he had with an internaut who identified himself as a member of the group. “What they’re doing is exercising the right of rebellion,” said the winner of the European Parliament’s Sakarov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

“It’s a group that doesn’t use our same nonviolent methods,” Fariñas said. “Other dissidents and I go down one path, but the right to rebellion exists, and they can go down a different path.”

Bust of José Martí just outside the Cerro Police Station, one of the places the Clandestinos said it carried out its actions. (14ymedio)

Meanwhile, the journalist and director of the magazine Tremenda Nota, Maykel González Vivero, wrote on Facebook, “The problem is that the bust is not alive and cannot defend itself. Martí is one thing, otherwise open to criticism, and the busts and pedestals are another. They speak about who erected them, not only of Martí himself, and they are something dead,” he added.

The dissident, Antonio González Rodiles, criticizes the Clandestinos movement. “In a time where it’s impossible for the opposition to hide anything from the Regime, it will do wonders for showing them as misfits, riffraff, vandals, incompetents–the Government  has always used this line,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Several followers of the dissident said that the actions might be a provocation orchestrated by the Government.

In the last decades in Cuba there have been frequent cases of graffiti on walls and storefronts denouncing the acts of the authorities, with slogans like “Down with Fidel” or “Down with Raúl”. However, actions around the figure of José Martí have been more circumscribed on the artistic scene.

At the beginning of 2018, an intense debate erupted over the censorship of the film, I want to make a movie, directed by Yimit Ramírez. The Cuban Institute of Arts and Cinematography (ICAIC) removed the tape from the ICAIC Youth Show because one of the characters “says something unacceptable” about José Martí, calling him a “turd” and a “faggot”.

“This isn’t something that can be accepted simply as an expression of creative freedom,” said the institution in a statement published on Facebook, which further fuelled the debate over the sanctification of the figure of Martí.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Clandestinos, Legitimate Protest or Provocation by State Security?

Since the first days of this year, the Clandestinos group has been spreading images of busts of José Martí covered in pig blood. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 January 2020 —  On January 1, coinciding with the most emblematic date of the Cuban Revolution, which celebrated its 61st anniversary that day, a group called Clandestinos emerged on social networks to take credit for a protest campaign that consists of pouring a red liquid on the busts of José Martí.

“It is not an outrage to the Apostle [as Cubans of all persuasions are wont to call José Martí] but a shout of war against the dictatorship,” Clandestinos explained on Twitter and Facebook, where it posts the photos and videos of stained busts in various cities and other actions against posters of Fidel Castro or graffiti denouncing the “chivatos” (informants).

“This weekend let’s have a red tsunami in Cuba. Let there be no province unmarked. Every town. Every neighborhood,” they announced last Friday in a video. “This is a war. […] The time has come. Change is now.” continue reading

These actions have provoked an intense debate on social networks. Some approve them, although many dislike the desecration of Marti’s image. However, others fear that it is a State Security strategy to discredit opponents and repress them more forcefully.

The official press accuses the group of staining the national hero and calls its members “counterrevolutionaries,” “vile” and “traitors.” On January 9, the authorities announced that two members of the group had been arrested and investigated for vandalizing busts and billboards, but the organization says it does not know the prisoners.

The movement has disseminated a manual with its procedures and has asked those who sympathize with their cause to unite and act. “Wearing a mask, acting as a oartner,” and using anonymous accounts on social networks to upload the images of the actions, are some of the recommendations offered.

Clandestinos in Cuba, sounds like a diversionist construct of the DSE (Department of State Security), to discredit the opposition and justify the repression,” says the former diplomat Pedro Campos, who adds that these events “can divert attention from: repression, prisoners, no democracy or rights, censorship, high prices and other things.”

A thesis that is repeated in a recent issue of Primavera Digital, entitled The Last Play Clandestinos!, which points out that for the authorities “it became a priority to divide and discredit the internal peaceful opposition (…) for this, nothing would be better than to accuse those who fight for the ideals promoted and exposed in his time by Marti.”

Miriam Celaya is another of the voices that questions the movement and the fact that they act with their faces covered. ” By nature, I am suspicious of masked faces that evoke the Tupamaros (Uruguayan Urban Guerillas), the ETA (Basque Country and Freedom members) and other denominations of ominous remembrance and equivocal causes.” The journalist is committed to “frontal and open-ended resistance against the Castro regime,” in a text published in Cubanet.

Clandestinos has also called to “mark the house of an informant,” a tactic that some do not understand, like music producer Adrián Monzón. “To make them known? To summon the ‘enraged people’? To start a civil war? To raise the passion of those who woke up and no longer inform? To recruit cannon fodder that protects DSE (State Security)?”

The group has reiterated on several occasions that it is not “political” or “opposition,” marking their distance from the dissident movement of the Island, but some support their activism and believe that their tactics are a fresh breeze after the exhaustion of previous strategies.

“There is no other option better than Clandestinos. Open opposition does not lead to anything without access to the media, when the government controls the judges, the prisons the courts… insisting on the same after six decades of failures will lead to to the same result, to nothing,” a commentator responded to Miriam Celaya’s article.

Actor Roberto San Martín is enthusiastic about the Clandestinos, with whom he is in “100% agreement with their ideas…They are trying to bring down the indifference and have achieved the perfect balance between action and how to get attention,” he said in an interview.

The actor justified the use of blood on busts, because Marti “has been manipulated by the dictatorship [that] has used the name of the Apostle for reproach, against the people and for abuse.”

Guillermo Fariñas has been one of the few opposition leaders who has so far spoken on the subject. From Miami, where he was visiting, the dissident said of the members of the collective, “what they do is exercise the right to rebellion.”

“It is a group that does not use the same non-violent methods as ours,” said the winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. “Other opponents and I go on one path, but the right to rebellion exists and they can go on other paths.”

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

To Compete in Arguments

Telesur was an initiative of ex-president Hugo Chávez to extend his ideological line to Latin America. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 January 2020 — Just a few days ago, Miguel Díaz-Canel has come out in defense of the Telesur chain and has spoken on the practice of attacking the media. The Cuban president crossed swords on the channel, whose programming began to be partially transmitted in Cuba in 2007 and whose short-term future is going through moments of uncertainty.

“Why do they try to boycott it, why do they try to attack it? Why are they who are the so-called ’defenders’ of the famous and who talk about freedom of the press and freedom of expression are not able to really compete in arguments with that medium?” Diaz-Canel questioned in reference to the recent statements by Juan Guaidó regarding reorganizing the channel.

The proposal of the interim president of Venezuela has caused an avalanche of criticism and accusations from the Island, starting with a strident statement by the official Union of Journalists of Cuba (Upec) and continuing to the demands of the president himself, who has chosen to establish himself as a defender of a plurality of information, in a country where only the circulation of media subordinated to the ruling party is allowed. continue reading

Díaz-Canel believes that the content transmitted by the network gives Cubans something to compare “with what they see on social networks” and “with what other media say,” a contrast that in his opinion “is the way in which we have to face these situations.” He then added: “but not from a position of attacking a medium, of throwing unfounded slander on a medium, I believe that this is also perverse, it is provocative, it is dishonest.”

For those who turned on the TV in the middle of the president’s intervention, they must have doubted whether the expected public commitment to respect information freedom on the Island was taking place. Had the time finally come power recognized that citizens have the right to access different news sources, to choose the press they prefer and to have plural publications?

But no, Díaz-Canel was not talking about Cuba, where numerous independent media are blocked, boycotted, their journalists threatened, persecuted, interrogated, detained, stripped of their tools of the trade, ’regulated’ to prevent them from traveling and confined to their own homes so that they cannot cover information. He meant only Telesur.

“We are going to put Latin American content in Telesur and we are going to see who is following people and we are going to see who is following Latin America and not threatening, because we do not threaten the Yankee media or the international media,” Diaz-Canel continued. “We try to generate our content, put out our content, so that people have all the visions, the monopolizing visions, the colonizing visions and the visions that for us are emancipatory and exalting.”

Any of these phrases could be used by the many newspapers, digital magazines and independent publications that have emerged in recent years on the Island, but which unlike Telesur do not have the approval of the Plaza of the Revolution, much less access to national screens that have offered that foreign network more time given to spread propaganda than realities.

When you have a discourse for an external audience and a discourse for an internal audience, contradictions occur that touch the ridiculous. When the freedom of information is used to support a political ally, while the scissors of censorship are sharpened to cut the rights of nationals, it becomes a rhetorical rant, of tragicomedy incongruities.

To accept as valid the rule of “competing in arguments,” which Díaz-Canel calls to respect to save Telesur, would be the end of the press monopoly of the Communist Party of Cuba. Complying with it would lead to allowing within the borders all that is demanded of other governments.

Independent media are ready to accept the challenge of submitting to a comparison between what they do freely and what official media produces under censorship.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuban Prosecutor Asks for Nine Years in Prison for Jose Daniel Ferrer, His Wife Denounces

Family members and opposition groups have demanded the release of José Daniel Ferrer. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 January 2010 — The Office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Cuba has asked for nine years in jail for José Daniel Ferrer, general coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), for the alleged crime of injury, as reported by his wife, Dr. Nelva Ortega, in a video disseminated by the opposition organization.

Ortega visited Ferrer on Thursday and received a document from the Prosecutor’s Office detailing the petition. A penalty of seven years each is asked for the other detainees, also Unpacu activists, with the exception of José Pupo Chaveco, for whom eight years are requested.

“Once again they refused to give us medications that he (Ferrer) needs and they did not let us deliver that they had already allowed on previous occasions. We saw that he is very thin, more so than on the last visit, because he is refusing to eat. He is demanding that the food be improved for all general prisoners. He takes a a glass of milk, water and cookies daily,” Ortega added. continue reading

Ferrer, Pupo Chaveco, Fernando González Vaillán and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer were arrested on October 1 in Santiago de Cuba and accused of causing serious injuries to an individual whose wife has denied the charges.

A video broadcast by official television on the Star News sought to damage the image of Ferrer, but its manipulation and editing raise questions, as did as time jumps throughout the footage.

José Daniel Ferrer spent almost eight years in prison after his arrest in 2003, as one of the 75 dissidents who were victims of the Black Spring.

This Friday marks 108 days since Ferrer’s arrest and a campaign on social networks trying to secure his release.

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COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.