Almost All the Industries of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Are Shut Down to Save Energy

In the meat industry, it is not enough to work during the hours without sun, but rather the temperature range at which the refrigerators work must be changed. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spíritus, 14 June 2022 — The cuts extend throughout Cuba due to the energy problems that put an end to a summer whose worst part is just beginning. The directors of companies in Sancti Spíritus gathered their workers on Monday to give them the bad news: practically all production processes must be stopped.

The announcement is no small thing. Sancti Spíritus is part of a group of provinces with a high presence of state-owned companies dedicated to the production of food, from baby compotes to shellfish grown on its coasts, or in its livestock, including its traditional pig farming, of which there is very little left.

On June 13, several state companies received “a ukase from above,” an employee linked to dairy production in the province details to 14ymedio. “They told us that the electrical system cannot withstand the current rate and that we have to reduce all the consumption that we can,” says this source, who participated in one of the meetings in which the new savings regulations were distributed.

“I know that it was sent to all the companies because it was what was said among the big bosses,” details this employee. His fear is that in a traditionally cattle-raising province, the state cold-storage where meat from the entire province is stored “is going to implement the closing of the refrigerators and the reduction of personnel. During the day they are not going to be able to open the refrigerators, they have to do it at night or early in the morning, to avoid letting the cold out.”

But it is not enough to do it in the hours without sun, you have to change the margin in which the refrigerators where meat is stored work. “There is a margin of plus or minus -15 degrees, but normally they remain between zero and minus five degrees” and now they will have to be reduced even more, he explains to this newspaper. The limit of the cuts is set by a category yet to be deciphered, but the “vital” productions will remain unaffected. continue reading

Among the essentials for the new regulations are dairy products. “We don’t know how they are going to manage to maintain the milk distribution chain with this if, right now and despite the fact that the planned cut has not been implemented, the milk often arrives sour at the customers’ homes.”

The La Estancia industry, producer of compotes for children, could also be among the most affected by the measure. “They ordered it to shut down, even though most of what it produced is sold in freely convertible currency (MLC).” The final product, made from natural fruits, would be among the most affected by the cutback to the Sancti Spíritus industry.

“If they are going to stop our production, what are we going to produce?” laments the employee.

This same Monday, the official press reported that the Lidio Ramón Pérez thermoelectric plant, from Felton, in Holguín, is not operational, after “Block 1” of the plant was disconnected early Monday morning. It is the largest capacity plant in the country.

The newly disconnected unit will receive a “10-day planned maintenance.” This, together with the repairs to Block 2, which, as notified by the Electric Union (UNE), “will begin work in early July,” will increase “the tension in the National Electric System.” In other words, they expect more blackouts for the population.

The UNE also warns that the Otto Parellada thermoelectric plant, known as Tallapiedra, in Old Havana, and Unit 6 of the Antonio Maceo plant, in Santiago de Cuba, are “out of service for maintenance.” Nor does Block 3 of this last thermoelectric plant work “due to breakdowns” either.

Other damaged Units are 6 and 7 of the Máximo Gómez, in the port of Mariel, west of Havana; the 3 of the Ernesto Guevara, in Santa Cruz del Norte, Mayabeque, and the 4 of the Tenth of October, in Nuevitas, Camagüey.

Still working, indicated the UNE, is Block 4 of the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes thermoelectric plant, in Cienfuegos, which “has already been incorporated into the generation.”

For now, the city of Sancti Spíritus spent the night from Monday to Tuesday without power. A dark omen for the whole country.

For now, the city of Sancti Spíritus spent the night from Monday to Tuesday without power. A dark omen for the whole country.

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70 Percent of Pregnant Women in Havana are Anemic at Delivery

In Havana, pregnant women arrive at the hospital with anemia so they must undergo blood transfusions. (Havana Tribune)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 June 2022 — The figures are official and overwhelming: 70% of pregnant women in Havana have anemia. It is the percentage of women who are treated in the Gynecology and Obstetrics unit of the Eusebio Hernández Hospital, in the capital, known as the Obrera Maternity, but according to Dr. Jordanka Rodríguez Morales, “it is almost the commonality in the other maternity hospitals in the city.”

In an interview published on Sunday in Tribuna de La Habana, the specialist details that the majority of pregnant women about to give birth arrive at the hospital below 11 grams per liter of hemoglobin in the blood, below which they are considered anemic: “They arrive with 10 grams, and many as little as 8,” so they must undergo blood transfusions.

“Presenting this situation at 34 weeks shortens the time to offer them treatment,” continues the obstetrician-gynecologist, who warns that “delivering or a cesarean section below 11 hemoglobin increases the risks, even for life.”

Rodríguez Morales acknowledges that the free “prenatal iron tablets” “are now deficient,” for which she recommends “alternatives to counteract the latent reality,” which includes the lack of variety and high prices of available foods.

“Green vegetables are also ideal. This is the case of cabbage, cucumber, spinach, the latter under rationed consumption,” suggests the specialist, who adds that “there are very attractive ways to combine them with chicken and mincemeat, the most readily available proteins today. Carrot and eggplant are also found in the ideal diet.

The doctor advises against “the daily intake of red meat,” although it is an unattainable product due to its low or high prices, usually in foreign currency, as well as “investing money in something as harmful as soft drinks, sweets, ice cream, and even the box juices.” continue reading

“The Cuban Health System is structured so that each pregnancy reaches a happy term,” says Rodríguez Morales, who adds that part of the responsibility for it must also be “individual.” In her interview, the doctor refers only to Havana, but taking into account that in the capital there is access to more resources than in the provinces, it is to be expected that the situation in less populated areas of the country will be even worse.

According to official figures released earlier this year, in 2020, 40 pregnant women died in Cuba for every 100,000 live births, while last year the rate shot up to 176.6, with 175 deaths. In percentage terms, the increase is 341.5% since 2018.

The infant mortality rate has grown by 55.1% since 2020, when 4.9 children under 12 months of age died per 1,000 live births compared to 7.6 in 2021. Compared to 2018, when the rate was 3 .9, the increase is 91.77%.

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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.

Flights from the US to Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey Announced

As announced, flights to the US from the Abel Santa María airport in Santa Clara, Cuba resume this Thursday. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 June 2022 — Almost a week after the first charter flights from the United States to Santa Clara and Holguín, Cuba, were announced, starting this Thursday, the Cuban Airport and Airport Services Company (Ecasa) announced the complete schedule of operations to the rest of the the provinces of Cuba during this month.

Thus, from the Antonio Maceo International Airport in Santiago de Cuba, as of June 20, there will be a flight on Mondays and another on Fridays to Miami, and from the Ignacio Agramonte Airport in Camagüey, as of June 23, there will be a flight on Thursday and another on Saturday to Miami.

As of June 16, as planned, there will be flights to Miami from the Abel Santa María International Airport in Santa Clara, one Thursdays, another on Sundays, and another on Wednesdays, as well as flights on Sunday and another on Wednesday to Tampa.

Finally, from the Frank País airport in Holguín, as of Friday there will be flights on Friday, Monday and Tuesday to Miami, and a flight on Tuesday to Tampa. continue reading

The resumption of trips from US territory to the provinces comes after Washington’s announcement, on May 16, to resume the family reunification program and abolish the limit of 1,000 dollars per quarter to send remittances to the Island.

These measures, imposed two and a half years ago by then President Donald Trump, in retaliation for the collaboration of the Cuban government in the repression in Venezuela, were intended at that time, according to the US, to restrict the economic resources of the Havana regime.

Flights have not yet been announced for the remaining airports that were affected by the restriction: Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Manzanillo, Cienfuegos and Matanzas.

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The Regime Punishes the Brother of Cuban Fighter Cristian Solenzal

The brothers Cristian and Damián Solenzal, two outstanding athletes of Cuban wrestling. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 June 2022 — The family of Cuban fighter Cristian Solenzal, who defected in Acapulco, Mexico last May, is suffering reprisals. While his arrival in Lexington, Kentucky (USA) was confirmed this Monday, SwingCompleto revealed that the athlete’s brother, Damián “will be limited in traveling with the Cuba team to international events.”

The decision, the publication says, was made “arbitrarily.” The sanction was finalized after Cristian, who was one of the strong candidates to get his ticket to the Pan American Games in Santiago de Chile 2023, escaped before his commitment against the Peruvian Sixto Miguel Auccapina during the Pan American Wrestling Championship that took place in Mexico.

Damián is one of the most outstanding athletes from Sancti Spíritus. In 2019 he won the Junior Pan American Championship, in Guatemala. In that same year he won the silver medal at the Pan American Championship held in Argentina.

Cuban sports are plagued with similar cases, SwingCompleto published and noted that the authorities erase “from one day to the next the laurels for which they were once celebrated,” referring to athletes who have undergone the same punishment. continue reading

Damián’s case occurs in a week agitated by leaks. This Saturday, details were offered about the capture of the players Alfredo Fadraga and Yosvani Ávalos, who had left the group of the Under-23 team that participated in the Pan American Championship in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes.

The Mexican police arrested the boys who were returned to the island before the tournament ended as if they were criminals. The disciplinary measure has not yet been announced.

This Sunday the escape of the Olympic boxing champion Andy Cruz was confirmed. The boxer is in the Dominican Republic, which shook the Cuban government.

Since Cristian’s escape, sources confirmed to 14ymedio that the man from Sancti Spiritus had in mind to continue his career in the United States. Solenzal is part of the group of five Cubans who left the wrestling team in Mexico. The others were the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic champion and two-time world champion Ismael Borrero, Leonardo Herrera, Amanda Hernández and Yolanda Cordero.

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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 Left Hand of Latin America

Gustavo Petro with his future vice president, Francia Márquez. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, June 21, 2022 — Latin America has voted again with its left hand. Gustavo Petro’s victory in Colombia breaks a historic wall that had kept his country on the right for 200 years. Among the causes of his unprecedented triumph is the deterioration of traditional political forces, unable to reinvent their proposals in the face of a completely new reality.

Nor can the impact of the pandemic, which accelerated popular discontent and caused a social explosion between April and June 2021, be ruled out. In addition, the Uribe leadership didn’t know how to handle the complexities of the peace process that, in the end, have placed Petro in the presidential sash. The Colombian left has achieved with the polls what it could not achieve with weapons. And society has not voted with its brain or heart, not even with its stomach: it has voted with its liver.

During the 20th century, there were several times when the left about to govern by electoral means, but in the context of the Cold War, the United States wasn’t willing to allow it. Latin America was shaken by various coups d’état that installed far-right dictatorships. Pinochet, Somoza and Videla caused panic in the face of possible communist expansion and shed rivers of blood in order to defend their notions of freedom.

At the opposite extreme, the Cuban dictatorship shot, imprisoned or banished anyone who dared to express an opinion against its doctrine, while exporting armed revolutions from the Rio Grande to Patagonia. With the collapse of the USSR, the United States softened its positions to the south and stopped seeing the victories of the left as threats to its national security. Fidel Castro, for his part, could no longer continue investing in expensive rebel enterprises and decided to use his tentacles to put his allies in power through a more sustainable path: the ballot box.

Then came the “pink tide” headed by Chávez, Lula, Evo, Correa and the Kirchners, among others. The Cuban regime was appointed as official guru and used its very long experience in propaganda and its romantic-mystical speech. The new great enemy would be neoliberal globalization. The successful formula was to shout to the four winds that the identity of the oppressed peoples was in serious danger. The ideologues of Castro-Chavism reformulated the proposals of 21st Century Socialism, presented in 1996 by the German sociologist Heinz Dieterich Steffan.

The São Paulo Forum was joined by ALBA and UNASUR, regional institutions opposed to the Washington Consensus and created with the purpose of establishing, on firm ground, the roots of the socialist clan. The wave advanced as much as it could, although it didn’t reach a tsunami. The deterioration of economies, the fall in the prices of raw materials, the corruption scandals, the death of leading figures, as well as the democratic inadequacies of Bolivarian theory, caused the decline of that crest, tearing it apart against the electoral reef. continue reading

However, at the end of the first quarter of a century, the Latin American left hand rises again. It does so in a post-pandemic context, in the midst of Putin’s war, with China pretending to be Swedish as it moves towards becoming the world superpower, with the United States weaker and more ignored than ever, and with the European Union frightened by the winds blowing from the other side of the planet. Global institutions responsible for ensuring peace, democracy and human rights now have symptoms of obsolescence. Humanity is on the verge of radical change, which could lead to a new order or the extermination of the species.

So far, the new Latin American left remains fragmented into three blocs. On the one hand, there is the Cuba-Nicaragua-Venezuela triumvirate, fossils that have survived embedded in the rock of authoritarianism, with strident discourses and policies. Very close to them, but with a more moderate tone, are López Obrador [Mexico], Xiomara Castro [Honduras] and Luis Arce [Bolivia]. All three were absent from the Summit of the Americas and have openly defended the triumvirate. In a third group we see Alberto Fernández [Argentina], Pedro Castillo [Peru] and Gabriel Boric [Chile], somewhat more correct than the previous ones and critical of the dictatorships in the region with which they are ideologically related.

It remains to be seen if Petro’s victory or Lula’s possible triumph unify these blocs and resurrect a cycle that pushes the left to its most sinister side. Among so many waves, there are already those who call our Macondian piece of world “América del Surf.”

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.

Police Threaten Young People in Sancti Spíritus to Prevent a New 11J (July 11th Protests) in Cuba

Alexander Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 17, 2022 — Alexander Fábregas Milanés has not had peace since he was released last April, after serving nine months in prison for convening a demonstration on July 11, 2021, through social networks.

The young man from Sancti Spíritus, 32, is being harassed by State Security and, on Tuesday, was threatened in an interrogation with a return to prison if he continued to publicly show his activism, which in any case he had announced that he would not renounce.

Cited to appear at the police station at one o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, Fábregas and his mother, Luisa María Milanés, who accompanied him, decided to leave because they were not being attended. They had not gone even three blocks, when a State Security car stopped them and took them back to the police station.

There, the young man explains, “They told me that if I continued to be an activist on social networks, I would be sentenced under the new Criminal Code to 20 years of deprivation of liberty.” The rule, approved by the National Assembly last May, will enter into force 90 days after being published in the Official Gazette.

According to Fábregas, in front of an investigator who was filling out the corresponding forms, a woman dressed as a nurse and “a new officer”  by the name of “Lusito” assigned to his case, “Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Pérez, with a lot of cynicism, told me that he was already doing the paperwork to send me back to prison, that he was going to do it well for me, just as he did on July 11, and this time it wasn’t going to be the same as the previous conviction.”

Fábregas was arrested at his home on the night of July 11 for transmitting on social networks a call to take to the streets of Sancti Spíritus, to join the protests that occurred during that day in other provinces of the island.

Nine days after his arrest and in a summary trial, Fábregas was sentenced to nine months in prison for the crime of incitement to commit a crime, although he didn’t set foot in the street on July 11. He only managed to have a lawyer one day before the trial, his family said at the time.

Although the young man belonged to the United Anti-Totalitarian Forum at the time of his call to take to the streets, he was a “self-employed opponent,” according to his mother. In December 2020, he had already spent three days under arrest, after he posted a photograph on social networks where he appeared with a sign that said: “No More Misery.”

Fábregas’ mother, who along with her son has suffered pressure from State Security all this time, was also interrogated on Tuesday, despite not being summoned. continue reading

“I think that they’re trying to prevent a new July 11 in Cuba and are beginning to threaten all those they believe have the courage to demonstrate,” is the spirited young man’s explanation for the harassment they are suffering. “Also because I have appeared on television in Miami, on América TeVé, and because since I got out of my unjust confinement I have continued my activism on social networks and have contributed to helping my brother prisoners.”

In this regard, he mentions Luis Mario Niedas, sentenced to three years in prison for continued contempt, who is serving his sentence in Nieves-Morejón prison. “We are not allowed to approach the family of Luis Mario Niedas,” says Fábregas. “They want us to stop supporting him and they are trying to isolate him and make him feel lonely and forgotten.”

Neither in prison nor outside it, has Alexander Fábregas ever renounced his dissent. “I will continue to be a human rights defender in Cuba and, especially, here in Sancti Spíritus,” Fábregas said in an interview with 14ymedio after being released, although he took into account that “I have to be cautious, because I already have a criminal record and for sure they will want to continue summoning me to the police and harassing me.”

This same Thursday, the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office reported four other final sentences, against 33 participants of July 11, in this case in Havana and Mayabeque. The defendants were convicted, “fundamentally,” according to a note in Granma, for crimes of sedition, sabotage and public disorder.

A total of 30 young people received prison sentences; 10 of the sentences are between 10 and 18 years, and 20 sentences are between 5 and 9 years, says the official report, without further details. It adds that two others were sentenced to “correctional work without internment” and a third to “limitation of freedom.”

Four days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office estimated the number of people convicted after the 11J demonstrations at 381. In an official notice, the Prosecutor’s Office indicated that 76 sentences are no longer subject to appeal and have resulted in sentences of deprivation of liberty for 297 people, of whom 36 committed a crime of sedition, according to Cuban judges. All those convicted of these acts received between 5 and 25 years in prison.

The NGO Prisoner Defenders (PD) then attacked the data of the Prosecutor’s Office, which they described as “biased” and “fake news.” “It’s suspicious that the Prosecutor’s Office in charge of prosecuting the 11J protesters doesn’t talk about those who have been processed and limits its report, as they explicitly say, to 76 sentences that have become final,” Javier Larrondo, President of PD, told this newspaper on Monday. He denounces the fact that they have stopped reporting about the “hundreds of defendants and even hundreds of those sentenced, who are already languishing in prison.”

The objective, according to Larrondo, is to “deceive the press and make it communicate that there are only 381 people sanctioned in Cuba.” And he affirms, “There are more than 1,000 defendants, 726 sentenced.” He says that the NGO has all the documentation.

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.

The Blackout is the Essence of the Cuban Communist Revolution

The problems in the electricity supply continue to worsen. (Yoani Sanchéz)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 17 June 2022 — The social pressure cooker is about to explode. This kind of thing has not been seen in Cuba since the time of the maleconazo. Unexpectedly, Díaz Canel appeared along with other senior officials of the regime and directors of the sector, simultaneously on Cubavisión, Cubavisión Internacional and Caribe, as well as the radio stations Radio Rebelde and Radio Habana Cuba, to publicly recognize that the blackouts will continue, that they have no solution at least for the time being, and that the national energy situation will not change. There’s an extensive report in today’s edition of Granma to justify the unjustifiable.

Really, can you imagine Macron, Sánchez, López Obrador, I don’t know, even Biden, in a similar situation? Impossible. In all those countries of the world, the electricity supply, although more expensive due to the war in Ukraine, doesn’t stop. There are no blackouts, and the people and industry live normally.

The blackout is the essence of the Cuban revolution. And it isn’t a  recent phenomenon. Already in the 1960s, many Cubans went to bed without knowing the end of the television series of that time, because the electricity was cut off, unexpectedly. Afterwards, the blackouts became daily existence during the Special Period, and now they have returned again, creating a growing discomfort in the population, which is no longer willing to accept silly explanations from their leaders.

Díaz-Canel, for whom the communist state press spares no flattery and usually presents him as the fighter he isn’t, continues to insist that the problems of the electrical system come from the American blockade [i.e. embargo], or from flaws in the work, but he never recognizes his direct responsibility in the facts, In his analysis of the problems.

And so, boring everyone, Díaz-Canel unloads a whole theory about “peaks and valleys” that shouldn’t occur in supply, and consumption during the hours of the day, which explains, according to him, what is happening. What happens is the same thing that happens in other countries, such as Spain, for example, where the intense heat of summer forces air conditioners to be turned on, but electricity continues to work. No one there thinks of unexpected blackouts. continue reading

Now Díaz-Canel wants consumers to use electricity at other times, outside the “peaks,” to mitigate demand. According to him, thermoelectric plants have the capacity to generate what the country needs when there are no peaks, and they do so with national fuel, a product that is also available to work for stability. The solution seems clear.

The problem is that the thermoelectric units of the Felton and Guiteras plants don’t function continuously because they’re obsolete and require investments and maintenance that weren’t carried out at the time, and now they fail continuously and unexpectedly. In the absence of such a supply, the “peak” reappears at any time of day and after a blackout because there is no other source of electricity. No one in 62 years has really thought about how to improve the energy supply in Cuba, by resorting to renewables, for example.

And at this point, Díaz-Canel’s explanations went in other directions, such as the signing of agreements to establish three new power plants and the possible future growth with a fourth plant. However, this isn’t an investment that can be made in the short term, and solutions such as mobile power plants won’t solve the problem either.

He even referred to the boiler deposits that are created by the national fuel, which, if not taken care of, could cause the loss of generation capacity. Even distributed electricity generators that consume large amounts of diesel aren’t the solution to the problems of crude oil supply.

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, what can be done? You can’t stand idly by.

The proposed solutions are also enough to keep you up at night.

It is intended to use tourism revenues to finance investments. But, of course, the tourists who arrive are still few, and the income is small, so this route is impractical. Before the solution was to build hotel rooms, it seems. The same happens with the revenue in MLC [freely convertible currency] stores, which, despite the commercial margins of 200% and 300%, is barely enough to replace products. Hence, the shortages that we see in these stores. The money raised from tourism and MLC shops has barely helped to buy fuel and allocate resources to maintenance and repairs. The beans have been counted.

The other solution is to fix first what gives more generation capacity to the electrical system, which has led to the prioritizing of the Felton and the Guiteras, with all the difficulties derived from the obsolescence of these plants.

And then Díaz-Canel proposed energy savings, transferring the problem to individual and collective responsibility. It’s the same populist argument as always, as if three million of the four million homes were to turn off a 20W bulb that may be unnecessarily lit, that would instantly represent a power of 60 MW, the same as a generation block of Renté or one of October 10. It’s incredible that such efforts are requested from the victims of the blackouts.

After Díaz-Canel, Liván Arronte, Minister of Energy and Mines, spoke. He referred to what he called “the cyclical situations that have occurred in the electrical system, causing the worsening of the situation in recent days.”

And he returned again to the incidents of Unit 2 of Felton, which is nothing more than an accumulation of nonsense derived, as already mentioned, from the lack of investment and attention in recent years. He likewise referred to the Guiteras thermoelectric plant, which is equally affected by the same maintenance problems.

The minister went so far as to say that the 200 MW of reserve of the electricity system, often due to instability and problems, are not reached, which at any time causes blackouts. But he said nothing about what to do to overcome these problems.

What Arronte did talk about is the burning of national crude oil in thermoelectric plants, which although it gives sovereignty from the energy point of view because it’s our fuel, its high sulfur content causes the dreaded fouling and corrosion in the boilers, which has to be compensated for with systematic maintenance, like cleaning and replacement of parts and aggregates.

That is, using national crude means that we have to do more maintenance, but it’s the available fuel, and in the face of the high prices of the international market, it’s the country’s solution to be able to guarantee electricity generation. In other words, there will be more blackouts.

Arronte did not miss an opportunity to remember that the electrical problem has a lot to do with the blockade, not only for the acquisition of fuels, but also for the resources needed to repair the units, requiring the purchase of parts through second countries.

Omar Ramírez Mendoza, the Deputy Director of the Electrical Union, participated after Arronte and advanced much more technical issues that were interrupted by Díaz Canel.

Ramírez was very clear. Maintenance is done, but not always with the depth it takes because there is no time available to meet demand and avoid blackouts. The other reason is that the teams that need the resources to intervene don’t have them available, so using them runs the risk of increasing the damage, or resulting in a greater need for intervention than expected.

At this point, Díaz-Canel recognized that there is a state of discomfort in the population that he described as “logical, and that had two dimensions: one on a personal and collective level in the population, who suffer directly from blackouts, and the other is that the economy is affected, which has to do with guaranteeing services and goods to people.”

And, in this regard, he pointed out that “states of opinion express discomfort, but also understanding, so it is necessary to highlight the way in which the people, living in a rigorous, demanding situation of limitations, have been able to understand for the most part that this is not the fault of a government that doesn’t occupy itself or a weakness in the work of the institutions, but has to do with the aspects addressed.” In this regard, Díaz-Canel is wrong, because most Cubans know who is responsibile for the blackouts. What they don’t understand is that they continue to occur, despite the fact that, as Díaz-Canel says, “a lot of work is being done to solve the problem.”

After briefly referring to the difference between real power and the available power of the plants, he spoke of an accident that occurred at the Máximo Gómez plant in Mariel, which caused Unit 6 to now need (and this is being addressed) the import of components needed to bring it to 100 MW, while Unit 7, which produces 90 MW, was completely lost.

Then came explanations for accidents and similar events at the CTE Otto Parellada, Tallapiedra, and Ernesto Guevara power plants in Mayabeque, the CTE Antonio Guiteras and the Felton in Holguín, and the Renté in Santiago de Cuba. Speaking of the plants in service and those that are paralyzed, and the planned entry into operation of the plants, Díaz-Canel threw out even more confusion and, of course, if he wanted to give peace of mind to the people who watched the program, forget about it. The live connection during the program with the authorities of different thermoelectric plants in the country did very little to give that peace of mind to the people. There was only some positive news about the Nuevitas thermoelectric power plant that apparently is overcoming its problems.

At this point, Mario Pedroso, Director General of the Company of Generators and Electrical Services, referred to the actions that are being taken with the diesel groups to make up the deficit of thermoelectrical generation with distributed generation.

Geysel is an electric generator maintenance and operation company that has representation in all the provinces of the country, and whose fundamental task is aimed at working on the peaks, to evacuate contingency in the system or to guarantee amendment during a natural disaster. To do this, they have 943 generator sets of different technologies and an installed power of 1,334 MW. In these cases, breakdowns due to lack of maintenance accumulate and increase their frequency due to common use.

Of the 943 electric generators, there are only 579 MW available and 348 MW of the 1,334 potential ones. The availability of diesel will be compromised in the coming months if the forecasts of the world economy are met, and that may be even worse for this energy option. They recognize it themselves. There are difficulties with the supply of diesel fuel, and in many cases the fuel needed for power generation hasn’t been delivered in a timely manner, which has strained the country’s fuel distribution system. In other words, the possibility of a quiet summer is increasingly in the air.

Later, Pedro Sánchez Torres, Director of the Oil-Fuel Electric Generator Maintenance Company, announced that they have some 950 MW installed as part of Cuba’s base generation in 489 machines in 33 power plants, located throughout the country.

In this case, he explained that the company is going through a complex situation today with respect to spare parts that in recent years they haven’t been able to acquire, not only because of the financing, but also because of the complexities in access to the factory where they can be supplied, since they have been forced to use third-party suppliers. This has meant 506 MW in breakdowns, more than 200 MW that they haven’t been able to recover and 163 MW in maintenance that they haven’t been able to recover. Nor should there be favorable expectations.

In the end, Ramiro Valdéz, who had been listening to the entire program in silence, but with obvious blushing, said something like “we need to work in function of living from the electric-energy point of view in a balance with the budget of each household” and closed. The historic generation has less and less confidence in the heirs, and they realize that it’s over.

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.

Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo ‘Osorbo’ Sentenced to Five and Nine Years in Prison

Otero Alcántara (back) and Maykel Castillo (front) in Havana, when they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 June 2022 — There is now a sentence in the trial against the artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, held on May 30 and 31 in Havana. In a statement made public this Friday by the Attorney General’s Office, the People’s Municipal Court of Central Havana reported that the sentence for Alcántara is five years in prison for the crimes of outrage against the symbols of the country, contempt and public disorder, and for Osorbo, nine years for contempt, attack, public disorder and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs.

From these, time they have already spent in prison, 11 months in the case of Alcántara and 13 in the case of Osorbo, is discounted.

Although the judges lowered the requests of the Prosecutor’s Office – which was seven years for Alcántara and ten for Osorbo – they reached the “conviction about the facts proven in the oral hearing and their social harmfulness,” says the text, “determined the responsibility of those prosecuted, as well as the position assumed and the acts carried out by each one.”

Thus, for Alcántara, without mentioning the, events they refer to the Drapeau artistic performance, say that he had “the express intention, sustained over time, of offending the national flag, by publishing photos on social networks where it is used in demeaning acts, accompanied by notoriously offensive and disrespectful expressions, belittling the feelings of nationality and pride that the Cuban people profess towards our national flag.”

As for Osorbo, they argue that he used false images “digitally manipulated, which he made public on social networks; and for the same purpose he carried out direct interventions from his personal profile to dishonor the function that law enforcement officers perform in society,” without major details, “with the manifest purpose of outraging, affecting the honor and dignity of the country’s highest authorities.”

In the same trial, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel were sentenced for the crime of attack. The first, to five years in prison, and the second, to 3 years of “correctional work without internment.”

The sentence, to which 14ymedio has had access, is signed by judges Helen Hernández Pozo, Martha Palomino Barany and Yoany Martínez Pérez, and dismissed the defense’s petitions. Alcántara’s lawyer asked either for his acquittal, or to accept a crime of contempt with mitigation, which did not carry a prison sentence, and Osorbo’s lawyer asked to accept a crime of resistance and one year of internment. continue reading

The “proven facts” include posts on Facebook by Alcántara in July, August and September 2019, as well as a post by Osorbo in August 2020. It should be remembered that the former, leader of the San Isidro Movement, has been in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, Artemisa, since July 2021, when he was arrested before being able to join the protests of the 11th of that month.

Osorbo, for his part, has been in the Kilo Cinco y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, since May 2021. The events for which he had been told he was detained occurred on the previous April 4, at a demonstration in the Damas street, in front of the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, when the police tried to arbitrarily arrest him and he refused to get on the patrol car. In this, he was helped by those also prosecuted, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel.

In the ruling made known this Friday, it is stated that on the afternoon of that April 4, “in the vicinity of Cuba street on the corner of Acosta”, in Old Havana, Maykel Castillo, Félix Roque and Juslid Justiz were present, and that Justiz “lacked the sanitary mask” to protect against covid-19.

Two agents who were in a vehicle of the National Revolutionary Police, continues the legal text, called the attention of the woman, who at the time was defended by Osorbo. “The co-defendant Castillo Pérez told the officer that no one would put on a mask, that he was Osorbo, and he began to shout in a disturbed manner in the place,” says the sentence, which indicates that it was Osorbo who attacked the police vehicle, before the officers tried to stop him, to no avail.

After that, the accused, always according to the sentence, arrive at Damas 955. There, the document continues, “both of those prosecuted, with the evident purpose of altering public order and citizen tranquility, began to play music at full volume on the outskirts of Otero Alcántara’s home, which caused an crowd of people who occupied the entire public thoroughfare, while the defendants chanted ‘when I say Díaz-Canel you say singao [motherfucker], Díaz-Canel singao, Díaz-Canel singao‘, with the marked intention of insulting the deputy of the National Assembly of People’s Power and President of the Republic Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.”

The loud chorus is part of the anti-establishment rap Diazka. The artists themselves reported, and so it appeared in videos that they spread on social networks, that on April 4 they sang the song turned into an anthem Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) in the street.

The artist Julio Llópiz-Casal, who together with Lázaro Saavedra witnessed the defense of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and had said that the questions in his statement that May 30 focused on emphasizing “what was based on to vouch for the artistic career” of the activist, has seen with astonishment how his statement in the sentence is portrayed.

“Friends of the accused,” says the text, “tried to justify the actions of the defendant, an aspect we did not give credibility to, as they omit the that the national symbol, in this case the Cuban flag, generates in the people a feeling of patriotism, which unites belonging to the same land, having the same origin, and the same history, which becomes tangible when we respect the flag, since it is a sign of what distinguishes, identifies and unifies the Cuban people.”

In this regard, Llópiz-Casal bluntly declared to 14ymedio: “Using as an argument the bond of friendship that unites me with Luis Manuel Otero as a defense witness to dismiss the elements that I gave for the defense cause is an act of baseness, bungling and manipulation.”

The Madrid-based NGO Prisoners Defenders has also spoken out against the sentence , calling the court decision a “crime against human beings and art.”

The trial of Alcántara and Osorbo, both declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, has been denounced by international organizations such as the UN. The days of the oral hearing were characterized by the harassment and repression of activists and journalists within the Island.

Those days, Alcántara was punished; without permission to make calls he released an audio that he had recorded on May 17, in which he spoke of the repression suffered in recent years, the offer of release in exchange for exile that was made to him from the regime, and rejected, and of the fighting spirit that he wishes to transmit to his son and to the entire Cuban people.

This same Wednesday, Alcántara’s official account reported: “Luis has just called. They have apparently removed his punishment. He is not in a very good mood, he continues to demand his freedom without conditions. About @MaykelCastill19 [Osorbo] he comments that in the trial he saw him with a foot in bad condition due to a pimple. We don’t know if it has been taken care of.”

Both have ten working days to appeal the sentence.

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Thousands of Cubans Sing Along with Pablo Milanes During His Concert in Havana

Pablo Milanés’ performance was marked by the emotion of an audience that had not heard him live for several years. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 21 June 2022 — Under a strong police operation, long lines and a thorough review of each person’s belongings before entering the premises, thus began the concert of the Cuban troubadour Pablo Milanés on Tuesday at the Coliseum of the Sports City of Havana. The performance was also marked by the emotion of an audience that had not listened live for several years to the author of songs like Yolanda.

From the stage, flanked by two large screens with his face, Milanés sang the song Marginal with which he began a concert that, from its opening minutes, kept the singer-songwriter in tune with the thousands of people gathered at the venue. AñosEl pecado originalLa soledadNostalgias y Días de gloria, were also among the most acclaimed songs during the night.

One of the most emotional reactions of the public occurred when the first chords of Éxodo [Exodus] sounded, which was repeated in chorus by the audience. “Where are the friends I had yesterday? / What happened to them? / What happened? / Where did they go? / How sad I am” was heard from thousands of voices in a country where, in recent months, one of the largest mass exoduses in more than half a century has occurred.

“I want to see them to know that I am human, that I live and feel for my brothers and they for me,” the audience completed the song. For most of the concert the also held their cell phones high while recording Milanés. Another moment of ecstasy occurred when the singer-songwriter sang “There is a people that waits silently / There is a body that I want to undress” from his song Hay [There is], which generated wide shouts of joy from the stands.

Outside the sports center, converted into a concert hall for the occasion, a large uniformed operation and several well-known State Security agents who frequently harass activists and independent journalists could be seen from the early hours of the afternoon. Among them is an officer who identifies himself as Jordan and who is often part of the police cordons to prevent reporters and opponents from leaving their homes.

“This is so full of segurosos (State security agents) that it seems like it’s Barack Obama who’s coming,” joked a young man who decided to walk to continue reading

the Coliseum in a city where transport difficulties were exacerbated this Tuesday by the thousands of people who sought to approach to the Ciudad Deportiva, a large complex of facilities where the legendary British rock band The Rolling Stones performed in 2016.

For most of the concert the audience held their cellphones high, recording Pablo Milanés. (14ymedio)

Shortly before the start of the performance, a note from the Ministry of Culture posted on Facebook was quick to assure that “everything continues to run normally at the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum… There is no threat of explosives or incidents. The public enters from 6 pm and the invited press prepares to enter the box. Many spectators have arrived early to the gigantic indoor venue.”

However, several foreign press agencies based on the island reported that they were prevented from accessing the facility. “At the entrance, the security guards told us that we couldn’t film here and that they invited us to leave the place,” a Cuban-accredited reporter who preferred to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals explained to 14ymedio . “They didn’t give us any more explanations, they just told us that we had to withdraw.”

It was also not easy for concertgoers to post photos and videos from the Coliseum because the internet connection remained unstable and at times it was impossible to access the web from the venue. “It could be the number of people gathered that makes the signal drop, but it could also be that they don’t want us to broadcast live,” suggested Fabián, a 23-year-old who attended with a dozen friends.

“We left Central Havana at four in the afternoon and we walked here because we couldn’t even dream of catching a bus,” the young man tells this newspaper. “Along the way there were a lot of people trying to hail a taxi or get on anything with wheels to get here.” The interest in listening to Milanés comes not only from the years that the singer-songwriter had not performed in his native country. “It’s just that Pablito is Pablito,” Fabián insists.

Possessor of a wide repertoire and with a voice that stands out in the broad Cuban musical spectrum, the troubadour has also built a solid reputation for his criticism of the Cuban revolutionary process that he once enthusiastically supported. That position has cost him exclusions, institutional reproaches and a limited diffusion on the Island of his presentations abroad. His Días de luz [Days of Light] tour, which has taken him to stages in Europe and the United States, has barely been commented on in the official Cuban media.

“He sounds wonderful, he has a clear, crisp voice that doesn’t sound old at all. The instruments that accompany him are only two, a pianist and a woman on the cello, but it looks like a symphony,” admired a singer who managed to get a seat near the stage although too close, for her liking, to the speakers. “The best positions are reserved, but I’m not complaining, the important thing is to have been able to be here.”

“People are hypnotized and you can see who are those in the audience who came to control and not enjoy the concert, because they don’t sing,” said Massiel, a Havana native who attended with part of her family. “It was worth the number of hours we had to spend to get here and then stand in line to get in. This is pure vitamin for the soul.”

We must also reference the incident that fueled official anxiety, right in the Ciudad Deportiva during a concert by Carlos Varela on May 29th. At that concert the audience chanted the word “freedom” at various times. At the end of that performance, the singer-songwriter shouted “Viva Cuba libre” and thanked the organizers – with Eme Alfonso at the head – of the event, whom he praised for “having the ovaries” to invite him to sing in Cuba.

Milanés, who has lived in Spain for some time, spoke out with indignation after the repression of the demonstrations on July 11 last year. “I believe in young people, who with the help of all Cubans, must be and will be the engine of change.” The singer-songwriter described as “irresponsible and absurd” the use of repression by the Cuban government against the people, “who have sacrificed themselves and given everything for decades to support a regime, and in the end what it does is imprison them.”

After saying goodbye to the public this Tuesday night, Pablo Milanés returned to the stage acclaimed by the applause and the cries that asked for the concert to continue. “Love me as I am, take me without fear / Touch me with love, I’m going to lose my cool” sang the troubadour before an audience that was reluctant to end a night of reunion and good music.

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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 Government’s Triumphant Data on Tourism Covers Up a Dire Reality

Compared to 2021, the number of travelers from the ’usual’ countries have grown, but again, if compared to 2019, it is understood that foreign exchange will continue to be scarce. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 June 2022 — As of the month of May, the Cuban government has obtained just over 261 million dollars from tourism, of the 1,159 million that it aspires to collect in this sector throughout the year, according to the triumphant estimate of disastrous data that it offered last Friday.

At the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Economy and Planning stated that, if the forecasts were met and 2.5 million foreign travelers arrived on the island, some 1,159 million dollars would be contributed to the Cuban economy. The figure represents about 463.60 dollars per traveler, quite far from the average declared in 2019, when spending per tourist stood at 700 dollars.

On Friday, the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei) released the tourism data for June, with the January-May range included. This data reports that as of that date more than half a million travelers had arrived on the Island. If they had spent the average of what the Government attributes to them, not even a quarter of the foreign exchange expected by the authorities would have been collected.

Onei’s message highlighted the strong rise in tourism compared to the same period of the previous year. “564,847 international visitors have been received as of the month of May, which represents 640.3%, that is, 476,637 visitors, more than in the same period of the previous year,” but once again, the Government is cheating by reporting data that could only be spectacular compared to the dates of the pandemic, when the borders were closed. continue reading

If compared to the year 2019, the bad data is visible. In that year, the last fully normal year in terms of the movement of people, 2,286,882 people traveled to the Island as of May. The drop is 75%. As for 2018, in the same period 2,159,967 arrived, which gives a drop of 73%.

“Recent tourism data in Cuba confirms today that the route taken by the authorities marks an upward march towards recovery plans for the recreation sector,” Prensa Latina published on Friday, which, in a display of optimism, estimated the figure is “one evidence of the recovery path of this economic sector.”

The Cuban government agency did not stop there and considered that the forecasts of reaching 2.5 million foreign tourists “seems to be going at a good pace.” However, there are approximately 2 million visitors left to reach the planned goal and the margin is slim. Cuba’s high season dow not begin until October and, especially November, while the months between April and September usually have the worst data.

Last May, during the celebration of FitCuba 2022, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero admitted that the recovery of the tourism sector should be postponed for a year, which contradicted the overly optimistic comments made a few days earlier by the minister of the branch, Juan Carlos García Granda.

The data is clear: in addition to the debacle that is observed when compared with dates under the same conditions, it is clearly noticeable how Russia, one of the countries that acted as a locomotive for Cuban tourism, due to how much tourism from that country grew, is erased from the map.

The sanctions that the US and Europe imposed on Moscow after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, on February 23, have blocked flights to the island from Russia, which had sent 75,977 travelers between January and June 2019, before collapsing to 37,333 for the first five months of 2022. But more serious than the total is the evolution, since in January 19,434 Russians arrived in Cuba and in February 16,437. But the number for March was 807, for April 321 and for May 334, which means the virtual disappearance of the only growing tourism in recent years.

The numbers of other travelers from frequent countries are growing compared to 2021, but again, if compared to 2019, it is understood that foreign exchange will continue to be scarce. Canada, the largest source of tourists to Cuba, sent 182,733 as of the end of May, while in the same period of 2019 the number was 682,458. Spain sent 20,963, compared to 50,401 three years ago, for just a couple comparisons.

In the words of the Cuban economist based in Spain, Elías Amor: “There is no gradual recovery of tourism, and the worst thing is that the private sector that depends on this activity cannot take it anymore.”

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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.

Seven Minors Convicted for July 11th (11J) Protest in Cuba Will Not Serve Prison Sentences After a ‘Special Analysis’

The moment in which several young people turn over a patrol car on the corner of Toyo, Havana, on July 11, 2021. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 21 June 2022 — The more than 30 individuals convicted for their participation in the July 11th (11J) demonstrations on the corner of Toyo in Havana, where an overturned police patrol became a symbol of the protests that day, have had their sentences reduced by the Supreme People’s Court (TSP) of Cuba after the appeal hearing, held in the Municipal Court of Diez de Octubre on May 27.

The sentence, signed this Monday and to which 14ymedio has had access, confirms what the Justice 11J platform advanced on the same day of the appeal trial , that “changes of measure” were expected for the youngest.

Thus, the sentence imposed on Rowland Jesús Castillo Castro, 17 years old at the time of his arrest and sentenced to 18 years in prison, becomes 5 years of “deprivation of liberty subsidized by the same term of correctional work with internmen,t” the same sentece imposed on Kevin Damián Frómeta Castro (19 years old and previously sentenced to 16 years in prison) and Kendry Miranda Cárdenas (age 17 and previously sentenced to 19 years).

Another young person, Lauren Martínez Ibáñez, 18, was also given the same reduction “for reasons of justice and equity,” despite not having filed an appeal. Justice 11J had warned that the boy’s family had no resources to file appeals.

“The sanctions of deprivation of liberty and that of correctional work with internment will be fulfilled by those sanctioned in the penitentiary establishment designated by the Ministry of the Interior,” the legal document details. continue reading

For their part, Brandon David Becerra Curbelo, 17 years old at the time of the events and sentenced to 13 years in prison, Rafael Jesús Núñez Echenique (sentenced to 12 years) and Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada (17 years old and sentenced to 10 years) have had their sentences changed to 5 years of correctional work without internment.

Brayan Piloto Pupo (16 years old and previously sentenced to 10 years) and Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo (17 and sentenced to 14 years) obtained a change to 5 years of “limitation of freedom.”

The imprisonment of minors after the peaceful demonstrations of 11J has been denounced by organizations such as Prisoners Defenders and international institutions such as Unicef, but until now the Cuban courts had ignored it. Last May, the UN Committee against Torture described as “alarming” the “high number of arrests” in Cuba after the protests and referred to the imprisoned youth.

Although President Miguel Díaz-Canel had assured that there were no minors incarcerated in Cuban prisons and that the high convictions of 16- and 17-year-olds had been carried out with “high judicial rationality,” in Monday’s ruling, recorded by Judges Plácido Batista Veranes, Alina de Fátima Santana Echerri, Paula Joaquina Rodríguez Sánchez, Marta Elena de Armas Castillo and Lázaro Máximo León Pelegrín, it reads that the defendants “whose ages at the time of committing the acts ranged between 16 and 19 years of age deserve special analysis.”

And they justify: “Cuba has always had attention to the comprehensive development of youth among its priorities. It is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which has forced it to draw up strategies that allow it to abide by its postulates. They have adopted various legal measures aimed at strengthening the rights and guarantees of committers of crimes in this age range, among which are judicial decisions, which must be a reflection of the state’s will.

The text also argues in favor of reducing the sentences of the only two women prosecuted for the events, Yunaiky de la Caridad Linares Rodríguez, 24 years old, previously sentenced to 14 in prison, and Daisy Rodríguez Alfonso, 38 sentenced to 16 in prison.

Both will serve an 8-year sentence for having “a less relevant participation in the crime” and being deserving of mitigating circumstances. The first, “of normal civic performance, known in her community for being linked to the work of social organizations that, before the appeal judges, asked for an opportunity, which speaks in favor of her chances of amendment,” the sentence states. “The second, ill with HIV-AIDS and cancerous conditions.”

Despite the reductions in sentences, which are given after dozens of complaints in international instances, the TSP categorically refused to disregard the crime of sedition for which they were all convicted (two of them, Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada and Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo, were also accused of theft), as requested by the defense of the majority of those who appealed.

“The defendants, indistinctly, state that there was no disturbance of the constitutional order, that their motivations were not of that type, that they joined the crowd of people without knowing the real purposes they were pursuing, that there was no preconceived agreement to act in this way, and they deny the use of violence against the authority and the representatives of the State institutions,” states the sentence, which asserts that the regulation of the crime of sedition “is in correspondence with the declaration that appears in Article 4, third paragraph of the Constitution of the Republic,” that is to say: that the socialist system is irrevocable.

This is how the sentences of those accused of the acts at the Toyo corner remain after the appeal hearing:

    1. Juan Emilio Pérez Estrada, 17 years in prison (previously sentenced to 21 years)
    2. Alexis Borges Wilson, 17 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
    3. Jorge Vallejo Venega, 15 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
    4. Duannis Dabel León Taboada, 14 years old (sentenced to 19 years)
    5. Dayan Gustavo Flores Brito, 14 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
    6. Asley Nelson Cabrera Puentes, 14 years old (sentenced to 25 years)
    7. Ronald García Sánchez, 14 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
    8. Donger Soroa González, 14 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
    9. Yoanky Báez Albornoz, 14 years old (sentenced to 23 years)
    10. Adael Jesús Leyva Díaz, 13 years old (sentenced to 19 years)
    11. Henry Fernández Pantera, 13 years old (sentenced to 21 years)
    12. Francisco Eduardo Soler Castaneda, 13 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
    13. Oriol Hernández Gálvez, 13 years old (sentenced to 15 years)
    14. Óscar Bravo Cruzata, 13 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
    15. Ricardo Duque Solís, 12 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
    16. Luis Armando Cruz Aguilera, 10 years (sentenced to 15 years)
    17. Yussuan Villalba Sierra, 10 years old (sentenced to 18 years)
    18. Adrián Oljales Mora, 10 years old (sentenced to 14 years)
    19. Edel Cabrera González, 10 years (sentenced to 15 years)
    20. Alexander Ayllón Carvajal, 8 years old (sentenced to 20 years)
    21. Yunaiky de la Caridad Linares Rodríguez, 8 years old (sentenced to 14 years)
    22. Daisy Rodríguez Alfonso, 8 years old (sentenced to 16 years)
    23. Rowland Jesús Castillo Castro, 5 years of correctional labor with internment (sentenced to 18 years)
    24. Kevin Damián Frómeta Castro, 5 years of correctional work with internment (sentenced to 16 years)
    25. Lauren Martínez Ibáñez, 5 years of correctional work with internment
    26. Kendry Miranda Cárdenas, 5 years of correctional labor with internment (sentenced to 19 years)
    27. Brandon David Becerra Curbelo, 5 years of correctional labor without internment (sentenced to 13 years)
    28. Rafael Jesús Núñez Echenique, 5 years of correctional work without internment (sentenced to 12 years)
    29. Lázaro Noel Urgellés Fajardo, 5 years of correctional work without internment (sentenced to 14 years)
    30. Brayan Piloto Pupo, 5 years of limited freedom (sentenced to 10 years)
    31. Giuseppe Belauzarán Guada, 5 years limitation of freedom (sentenced to 10 years)

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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 Rapper Denis Solis is Living in Extreme Poverty in Serbia

Solís during his stay in jail in Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio biggerThe opposition rapper Denis Solís, a former prisoner of conscience recognized by the United Nations, and subsequently forced into exile, is in a situation of extreme poverty in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he has lived since he left Cuba at the end of 2021. The organization Prisoner Defenders has tweeted an alert about the situation and refers to a telephone to provide help to the activist, a member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI).

The artist “left [Cuba] with a cousin and the cousin’s daughter,” a relative confirmed to 14ymedio at the time of his departure, although little has been known about him since then, except that he has requested political asylum and, therefore, cannot work. The rapper has declared that he is having a hard time in Serbia and that he needs to resort to the help they give him in order to survive and pay the rent. “I have already reached the limit and I have no way to support myself,” he said in a brief message to Martí Noticias.

The arrest of Denis Solís in November 2020 and his subsequent conviction for contempt in a summary trial, opened the spigot of the MSI protests, led by the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Its members then began a hunger strike at its headquarters in Havana, from which they were violently evicted by State Security agents disguised as health workers with the excuse of measures to contain the covid-19 pandemic.

The event triggered a protest by more than 300 artists who gathered before the Ministry of Culture to ask for dialogue with the authorities and gave rise to the 27N group, also the seed of Archipíelago, led by playwright Yunior García Aguilera. Both he, who now resides in Spain, and Otero Alcántara, currently in prison in Cuba, faced reprisals for defying the authorities.

Solís’ release occurred in July 2021, after serving eight months in prison. Shortly afterward, after being harassed by the Cuban authorities, he took a flight to Moscow headed for Serbia, a country that exempts Cubans from visas.

His departure was leaked by anonymous accounts at the service of the regime, which released images in which Solís was seen at the José Martí International Airport in Havana, carrying a suitcase and accompanied by relatives.

Luis Robles, known as the young man with the placard, has also suffered the consequences of defending Solís. On December 4, 2020, he took to the streets to demand, sign in hand, the release of the rapper on the San Rafael Boulevard in Havana.

The gesture has earned him a five-year prison sentence for “responding to a call” from the Cuban influencer “Alexander Otaola to speak out” against the arrest of Solís, “from the police authorities, the leaders of the State and the Government ” and “performing any act aimed at destabilizing internal order, publicly demonstrating in the streets against the Cuban economic and social system,” according to the text of his sentence.

Solís has said he feels a moral debt to Robles, who is currently being mistreated in prison, according to his relatives.

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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 Athletics Champion Juan Miguel Echevarria Leaves the National Team

Juan Miguel Echevarría during the athletics men’s long jump qualifying rounds at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (EFE /Juan Ignacio Roncoroni)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 18 June 2022 — The Cuban pole vault champions, Yarisley Silva, and long jump champions, Juan Miguel Echevarría, left the national teams of their respective disciplines, the Athletics Commission officially reported this Friday.

When presenting the 35th edition of the Barrientos Memorial this weekend, an event that traditionally brings together the most outstanding figures of Cuban athletics, the commissioner of the specialty, Yipsy Moreno, confirmed the absences of Silva and Echevarría.

Moreno said that the long jumper Echevarría will not compete in this event because “due to personal problems, he requested his withdrawal from the national team,” according to a report in the official sports newspaper Jit.

A silver medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Echevarría, 23, is considered the most successful Cuban long jumper in recent times.

After suffering several injuries, Echevarría’s trainers had indicated that he was preparing for future competitions.

Regarding pole vaulter Yarisley Silva, 35, the commissioner reported that she “determined to put an end to her sports career.” However, Silva’s abandonment had already been made known at the beginning of April by the independent press. continue reading

“The issue is not what could happen with regards to sports with Yarita in the future, but that her reasons for her departure include her dissatisfaction with the way in which the Federation has carried out many logistical and other movements related to her and Navas [her coach Alexander Navas ],” said SwingCompleto journalist Yasel Porto.

“That is another personal decision, it is a sad moment that all world champions have to go through and it tears us apart, we recognize her athlete lineage and for us she will continue to be our warrior,” Moreno justified this time.

Silve has had an outstanding sports career with a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as outdoor and indoor world titles. She was also three times Pan American champion.

In March, she decided not to participate in the world indoor athletics championships in Serbia, because her pole vaults had not arrived on time.

“Why did I decide not to compete? Because, even if they looked for poles that were as similar as possible, they weren’t going to be mine. It was the third time this had happened to me,” Silva told the state publication Cubadebate.

She also said then that her goal was to “finish big” and that is why she did not want to say goodbye to athletics “below” her results, so she said she planned to participate in the next Central American and Caribbean Games.

The retirement of these outstanding figures of Cuban sports adds to a series of abandonments registered in recent months, mainly by young people in disciplines such as baseball, karate, wrestling, athletics and canoeing.

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Once the Jewel of Cuban Department Stores, Fin de Siglo Has Become a Dump

To prevent curious onlookers from seeing the full magnitude of the historic building’s slow destruction, authorities have opted to hide it from public view.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, June 20, 2022 — Surrounded by a metal fence and piles of rubble, work on Havana’s Fin de Siglo department store seems to be all about concealment rather than repair. To keep curious onlookers from witnessing the full magnitude of the historic building’s slow destruction, authorities have opted to hide it from public view.

“It’s been like this for years and now it’s become a dump,” laments a neighbor waiting in line on Saturday at a nearby pizzeria. “They came and put up these metal sheets one day. Af first we thought they were going to repair the building but that’s not at all the case. They’ve just let if fall apart, and with so many homeless families in this area.”

Fin de Siglo was no ordinary store. The famous emporium was opened in 1897 at the corner of San Rafael and Galiano streets in central Havana. Born of the efforts of four entrepreneurs from Galicia, it was considered the first of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world. A renovation in the mid-20th century added air conditioning throughout the building, wide escalators and large display windows at street level.

The facade of Fin de Siglo as seen from San Rafael Street. (14ymedio)

Those large expanses of glass and the stylized mannequins behind them are long gone. Area residents now dump bags of garbage into the space between the fence and the wall that once featured display windows. Parts of the concrete canopy are missing and the store’s cursive, vaguely calligraphic metal signage is barely distinguishable from the grimy, rusty walls.

With its sleek, modern facade and marble-clad ground floor, the building marked a milestone in design for the area. But neither the diligence of its architects nor the durability of its materials could ultimately save it once it was nationalized in 1960. From then on, merchandise began disappearing from its shelves. Goods were rationed and a new distribution system was imposed. Without investment, or new paint, the structure gradually deteriorated.

But Fin de Siglo’s greatest humiliation came during the crisis of the 1990s. During the Special Period it served as a retail outlet that catered to newlyweds, who could find goods there that were no longer available at other stores. Unlike in the 1980s, however, the merchandise was of low quality and questionable use. continue reading

Along Galiano Street, area residents now dump bags of garbage into the space between the metal fence and the wall that once featured display windows. (14ymedio)

“After we got married, my wife and I spent days waiting in line to get in and all we could find were plastic containers for gasoline and a funnel. But neither she nor I had a car,” says Ricardo. The retiree had been living for years with the woman who would become his wife when they decided to legalize their relationship. Being married would allow them to buy goods they could later resell on the black market. “What hit me when I went into Fin de Siglo was the darkness and dank smell, nothing at all like it was when I was a kid.”

Now Ricardo avoids even going near the metal fence. “The stench from inside the building combined with the garbage that isn’t picked up for weeks would depress anyone,” he explains. A hundred years ago, jewels shone inside its display cases, employees shuffled about, showing off new merchandise, and dozens of Galician eyes watched over the store, making sure it continued to make money and please its customers. But that was long ago. We are now in a different era and that store no longer exists.

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Protests Achieve a Change of Venue for the Pablo Milanes Concert in Havana

A crowd of people stood in front of the box office of the National Theater of Cuba, last Wednesday, in protest at the few tickets sold to the general public for the Pablo Milanés concert. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 June 2022 — The clamor of artists and admirers protesting the few tickets sold to the public for the Pablo Milanés concert, scheduled for Tuesday, June 21, has had an effect. The performance has been transferred from the National Theater of Cuba, where it was scheduled, to the Sports City Coliseum, the Cuban Institute of Music announced this Friday.

In a brief statement, the institution explains that the decision was made “with the aim of facilitating greater attendance at the concert” and details that “the institution’s authorities and Pablo Milanés’ team have taken into account the requests of those who have expressed interest in participating in the show.”

The tickets already sold, according to the Institute, “retain their validity,” and the new ones will be sold at the National Theater of Cuba, this Saturday, June 18, starting at 1:00 pm.

“In the conception and organization of the show, work has been done with seriousness and transparency,” the Institute concludes in its note. “The consideration that this is a concert for the people, who deserve to enjoy the work of a great artist, has prevailed.” The Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum has around 15,000 seats, compared to just over 2,000 at the National Theatre.

Last Wednesday, the sale of tickets for the event ended in a brawl when, just 50 minutes after opening the box office, people were told that there were no seats left.

The explanation given by the director of the theater, Nereyda López Labrada, is that only tickets for “stalls and the first balcony” had been sold to the public, and that the rest had been given to “organizations,” that is, to official groups. continue reading

The news was immediately criticized not only by those who hoped to get tickets to see the singer-songwriter, who is 79-years-old and has health problems, but by Cuban artists of all kinds, both inside and outside the island.

The TV and radio announcer Yunior Morales addressed the musician himself in a broadcast via Facebook, to suggest that if the concert “cannot be outdoors” for “all the Cuban people,” not just for a few people “from the Government,” he should cancel it.

In a post published on his networks, Carlos Varela suggested a more forceful opinion through a fragment of the Milanés song I will tread the streets again, originally composed in homage to the Chilean government of Salvador Allende defeated by Augusto Pinochet’s coup, in 1973: “The books, the songs, burned by the murderous hands, will return, my people will be reborn from their ruin and the traitors will pay for their wrongdoing.”

At a Carlos Varela concert, and also at the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum in Havana, on May 29, at several times, attendees chanted the word “freedom.” At the end of his performance, the singer-songwriter shouted “Viva Cuba libre” and thanked the organizers – with Eme Alfonso at the head – of the event, whom he praised for “having the ovaries” to invite him to sing in Cuba .

The Cuban filmmaker living in Barcelona, ​​Carlos Díaz Lechuga, affectionately added: “Dear Pablo! After a tough year, going through personal problems, illnesses, today I want to tell you that I admire you more and more. Cuba is yours. You are one of the Cubans. Nothing and no one can stand against that, however much they want to. There are no games with you. You are tough. If you sing chapó… if you don’t sing chapó.” And he concluded: “This rabble they have formed will not stain your soul, which is clean.”

Pablo Milanés, who has lived in Spain for some time, was one of the artists who used to be supporters of the Revolution who spoke forcefully after the repression of the demonstrations on July 11 last year. “I believe in young people, who with the help of all Cubans, must be and will be the engine of change,” said the famous singer-songwriter on his social networks, describing the government’s use of repression as “irresponsible and absurd.” The Cuban government against the people, “who have sacrificed themselves and given everything for decades to support a regime that in the end, what it does, is imprison them.”

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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.