An Irreverent Tour of the Temple Dedicated to the God of the Cuban Revolution

Main facade of the luxurious Fidel Castro Ruz Center, in Havana. (Fidel Castro Ruz Center)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 1 December 2021 — The police have found a homeless person huddled at the corner of Paseo Avenue and 11th Street in Havana’s Vedado. “Please give me something to buy a pizza, I’m hungry,” insists the woman, speaking to the visitors of the brand new Fidel Castro Ruz Center, living testimony of the failure of the story told in the museum behind the high wall where opulence reigns and and the annoying things are left out.

“They have put in a few million here,” a young woman whispered to her companion this week, when a 14ymedio reporter walked the corridors of this temple-like place dedicated to the god of the Cuban Revolution.

The cost of the monumental work is unknown, since the head of Preservation of the Documentary Heritage of the Palace of the Revolution, Alberto Albariño, refused to answer that question in a guided visit of the international press. The official preferred to say that a good part of the investment was covered with “donations that were received from other countries,” which he did not specify either, and that for that reason it has not represented a great expense for the State.

Exuberance reigns from the very entrance, with a garden that houses more than 11,000 plants brought from all over the country, but also from outside. Among them are those that form a forest like Birán, Castro’s cradle; trees of the Sierra Maestra, where his insurrection against Batista began; and a sample of his latest eccentricities, moringa, a protein plant to which he obsessively devoted himself in his later years. In addition, there are Venezuelan trees — perhaps part of a donation from Caracas — and rocks brought from the mouths of the La Plata and Carpintero rivers shape a waterfall that falls into a small pond full of tropical fish.

In the middle of this orchard, the jeep that Castro used in the Sierra Maestra appears. “It was driven here, the difficult thing was to put it inside,” says the essential guide that accompanies visitors through the Center. “This next room is designed for the little ones. So they play didactic games while they admire Fidel’s jeep,” the guide adds, pointing to the adjoining space. continue reading

“In reality it is a museum with a name of something else, you come to know Fidel from the time he was a child until his physical loss,” the guide to the Fidel Castro Ruz Center says as soon as the tour begins. (14ymedio)

The Center, was inaugurated last Thursday in the presence of the Cuban government staff, in addition to Nicolás Maduro and Raúl Castro, and began receiving scheduled visits a day later and, although it is open to the general public and admission is free, many of the visiting groups that coincided with 14ymedio’s visit were made up of officials and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

“Actually it is a museum with a name of something else, you come to know Fidel from the time he was a child until his physical loss,” says the guide as soon as they begin and after the visitors have completed the usual protocol for entering a museum, including security screening of belongings and a metal detector. In addition, one must provide an identification document from which the personal data is recorded in a book.

Televisions, interactive, touch and smart screens are distributed in each of the nine rooms that the mansion houses. (Cubadebate)

The mansion, which dates back to the last decade of the 19th century and belonged to a captain from the 1895 war, is under guard by guards in polished shoes, dark suits, and ear rings. They shadow the visitors, aided by dozens of state-of-the-art cameras.

A door from the time precedes another, apparently armored, glass sliding door that protects the air conditioning of the enclosure. The first room on the left, where the honors of the former president are displayed, is decorated replicating the original from more than a century ago. According to the guide, both the furniture and chandeliers as well as the paintings on the walls and other architectural details were restored in detail by managers of the Office of the City Historian.

Suddenly, in the nineteenth-century setting, the 21st century appears and the corridors of the house reveal phrases by Fidel Castro and José Martí in front of the visitor and an interactive painting shows a mosaic that, depending on the point of view, allows one to see the face of Martí or of Fidel. Although a worker at the Center said on television that the museum was built with Castro’s wishes in mind, this transmutation of his face into that of the Apostle contrasts with his declared intention that his image should not be worshiped.

Weapons, backpacks or binoculars used by the Maximum Leader in the Sierra Maestra dot the display, for which the creators have found, in an unusual event, a defect of Castro to expose: boots made by the same shoemaker who made the ones used by the former president in the mountains. “They are number 45 even though the commander wore 43. This is because Fidel had a problem with his right foot that forced him to wear a larger last,” explains the guide.

“At the moment and due to health protocols established by the pandemic, only the Center’s staff can interact with the touch panels,” he adds during part of the tour, “but our goal is for young people and children to make this technology their own and at the same time to take an interest in the life and work of our Commander,” he emphasizes.

The Fidel Castro Ruz Center is receiving scheduled visits and is open to the general public and admission is free. (14ymedio)

Televisions, interactive, touch and smart screens are distributed in each of the nine rooms that the mansion houses. A modern elevator with a panoramic view, but adapted to the architecture of the place, connects the two floors of the Center, and motion sensors that control the playing of multimedia content as the visitor passes complete the media display. But not all the island’s problems can be kept away: an electric shock that occurred a few days ago affected some of the screens and not all of them function normally.

The selection of the items on display has been careful and has avoided showing the setbacks and even the bad company. Going quickly through the fiascos such as those of the Revolutionary Offensive, the failure of the Ten Million Ton Harvest or the social outbreak of August 1994, the Center only shows the victorious side of Castro.

Notable in the exhibition is the absence of many of the people who once shared front pages with the leader is but who were ultimately cast aside. The passages with Carlos Lage, Roberto Robaina and Felipe Pérez Roque have been deleted or conveniently minimized.

The Center is defined as a public institution, destined to disseminate, study and investigate the thought and work of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, but it ends up becoming, no matter how much its creators and employees reject it, a temple dedicated to the worship of Castro.

The names of the rooms give an account of this: the Guerrilla room, to talk about the military Fidel; the Sala La Palabra [Room of the Word], to listen to the eternal speeches of the speaker Fidel; the Solidarity room, to tell about his profitable international campaigns; the Command room, which portrays places from which he directed operations; and even the amphitheater, soberly named “Fidel talks, I need you.”As a culmination, the Fidel is Fidel room, who made his brother cry last Thursday during the inauguration in his own words, in which video clips of people who speak (well) about him or, in the words of the Center, are played, testimonies “of how much he penetrated the soul of the people.”

Notable in the exhibition is the absence of many of the people who once shared front pages with the leader but who were eventually cast aside. (14ymedio)

During the tour made by 14ymedio, one of the visitors asked the guide if there was a cafeteria or space in which to buy something to drink or eat, as is usual in other museums. “For that we anticipated that there would be cafes around the Center. Most are private, have the capacity to serve many people at the same time and offer a good service,” explained the employee.

“Even if it’s water and coffee, they should sell it here, because the journey is long,” insisted another member of the group. “We plan to offer that service later, but nothing more, we do not want this full of people lining up to buy chocolates or bread with ham. Whoever comes needs to do it because they really want to know the life and work of our leader,” replied the guide.

The management of the Center seemed, in that gesture, to have decided to expel the merchants from the temple. But it won’t be like that at all. A 3D printer in the house will make miniature replicas of the Plaza de la Revolución and busts of heroes from the Independence struggles that can be purchased by visitors in the future store in which, however, and complying with the will of the former president, busts of the man who gives the temple its name cannot be bought.


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.

Cuba: Sitting in the Street to Buy ‘Intimates’ for 50 Pesos and Resell Them for 150

Sanitary pads are almost completely missing from the network of stores in Cuba that accept payment in the national currency. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 2 December 2021 — The long line that gathered this Thursday morning on Galiano Street was swelled by women and men, young and old, despite the fact that the product being sold had a more restricted audience. There, at a small kiosk a few meters from the Teatro América, packages of sanitary pads were being sold for 50 pesos.

The line was long, so several people, in anticipation, brought their own seats from home, something increasingly common among those who wait in front of shops to be able to bring home the basic necessities. Among them, what appeared to be a complete family stood out.

The sale of intimates in the small establishment had not ended when in some windows and doors near the kiosk the resale of the same packages was already observed. Only three times more expensive, at 150 pesos.

The sale of sanitary pads in the network of stores that accept payment in the national currency is practically non-existent. To acquire them, women must go to the black market or foreign exchange stores, in both cases at exorbitant prices.


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 Cuban Conflict Observatory Documented 79 protests on November 15th (15N)

November 15th was “the first time in 62 years that the Ministry of the Interior, its paramilitary forces and the Federal Armed Forces found themselves in need of a complete occupation of all urban and many rural areas.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 1, 2021 — Threats from State Security and the deployment of the military throughout main streets in Cuba gripped the population with fear and thwarted the massive protests planned for November 15th (15N), but that same day, there were 79 protests in the country.

These were logged by the Cuban Conflict Observatory (OCC) in its last report, published on Wednesday, which includes a video that provides proof of some of those protests, filmed in motion or shared as photographs on social media.

The Miami-based organization reports 353 protests on the Island in November, 75% (266) of which were motivated by demands for political and civil rights, the remainder (87), were related to economic and social rights, such as exploitation of labor, excessive fines, femicide, the poor conditions in prisons or high prices for the basic food basket.

“That the protests have continued is significant, if you consider the extraordinary repression exerted against the population, the exemplary trials with extreme sentences for alleged and inconsequential crimes committed on July 11th, the threats of terminating the parental authority of those who are jailed for political reasons, and the impunity with which paramilitary groups, in videos shared on social media, flaunted their willingness to exert violence against any protester using firearms and blunt objects,” stated OCC.

The slight increase in protests last month, compared with those that occurred in October (345), maintains the upward trend since the Observatory began monitoring them, in September of 2020, when they logged 42 protests.

“Especially since the Government believed they’d quashed the resistance from the cultural sector with the assault on the headquarters of Movimiento San Isidro on November 26, 2020,” noted OCC. Since then, they continued, several dates have marked the “growing ungovernability” in Cuba, among which are included, clearly, 11J, but also 15N. continue reading

The NGO asserts that day was “the first time in 62 years that the Ministry of the Interior, its paramilitary forces and the Federal Armed Forces found themselves in need of a complete occupation of all urban and many rural areas, through police operations, deployment of member of State Security dressed as civilians, acts of repudiation, messages containing threats and selective disabling of telephone lines.”

To dissuade people from going out, the document states, “the Government continues announcing arbitrary and excessive sentences (including those against dozens of minors) for the July 11th (11J) protesters, fascist beatings on the streets and in prisons, threats of terminating the parental authority of possible protesters, psychological torture of the detained and their family members, and also pressuring known dissidents to leave the country.”

As a result, it concludes that “the reference for deciding to whom the victory of 15N belongs is not the number of citizens that went out to the streets, but rather, the number of effective troops, police, paramilitaries and resources the Government deemed necessary to avoid a new July 11th,” due to the financial and political cost of that operation, which OCC described as “devastating, nationally and internationally.”

As an example, the NGO stated that the repression previously exercised by the Cuban Government resulted in November 15 being closely observed by the European Union and the UN Human Rights Council.

“The Cuban reality is not lost potential investors, and even tourists, whom the government wishes to attract,” they reason in the report. “Who is more credible and strong today? The government which can barely mobilize a few of the dissidents’ neighbors to carry out an act of repudiation? Or civil society, ever more alienated from the government and the current governing regime?” they ask, and follow with this assertion, “The government didn’t ensure its own future in November, it placed it at even greater peril.”

In the report, the OCC exalts the “successes” of Archipiélago since it was created, in August, among these, demonstrating that “the people were willing to join a civic call to action on 15N and that the Government had no response to the citizen unrest other than the most obscene repression.”

Nonetheless, despite the space dedicated to the opposition platform in the document, there was no mention of its most visible leader, playwright Yunior García Aguilera, who surprisingly left Cuba for Madrid on November 16th, two days after State Security deployed a strong operation and organized agg acts of repudiation at the artist’s own house, preventing him from marching alone, as he had announced.

The report also does not reference the regime’s evident strategy toward the most recent dissidents: forced exile. The most recent of these being controversial rapper Denis Solís, who traveled to Serbia via Moscow last Saturday.

In addition to García Aguilera and Solís, artist Hamlet Lavastida and poet Katherine Biquet also find themselves in the same situation, today in Europe, as are Tania Bruguera, Camila Lobón, Claudia Genlui, Alfredo Martínez and Eliexer Márquez El Funky, one of the performers of Patria y Vida.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.

Under Military Presence, 11J Protesters are Processed in Artemisa / Cubalex

Sentencing requests for some of the Cubans who protested in 11 July. (Cubalex)

Cubalex, 22 November 2021 — On November 22nd and 23rd, the judicial proceedings against 13  of the July 11th (11J) protesters are being held at the Provincial Tribunal of Artemisa. According to our sources all of the areas surrounding the courtroom are militarized. The police, red berets, black berets and State Security have organized a large-scale surveillance operation. For its part, the tribunal, in violation of established national legislation and international standards, has restricted public access and has only allowed the presence of one family member per accused.

Family members are devastated and discriminated against. Alarmed and worried due to the lack of media attention that these trials have had. To Cuban civil society, to the independent press, those who have business to conduct today at the tribunal, those who in one form or another can share information, we ask for your support to raise the visibility of the situation of these protesters and sensitize the international community. Let’s accompany the family members of the 11J peaceful protesters in these very difficult moments. Let’s not leave them alone, they need us today, now. Share the situation on your social media, if you have close neighbors in areas surrounding the tribunal, ask them to share information about what they are able to observe, including photos.

Justicia 11 and Cubalex condemn this and demand complete and immediate dismissal of the charges currently being processed by the prosecutor’s office, as well as the cases that have already been presented by the prosecutor to the tribunal, without trials. We request human rights organizations and those that protect journalists and activists to ensure the security of those within and outside of Cuba; who for their clear position of denouncement can become the targets of violence, harassment and repression by Cuban state and government bodies.

These are the names of those detained who are being processed: Javier González Fernández, Alexander Díaz Rodríguez, Yurien Rodríguez Ramos, Eduard Bryan Luperon Vega, Eddy Gutiérrez Alonso, Víctor Alejandro Panceira Rodríguez, Yeremin Salcines Janes, José Alberto Pío Torres, Leandro David Morales Ricondo, Luis Giraldo Martínez Sierra, Iván Hernández Troya, Yoslén Domínguez Victores, Yoselín Hernández Rodríguez.


We continue to urge family members to constantly denounce these cases, based on the proven fact that raising the visibility has provided significant protection. Our political prisoners are not alone. We demand justice.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Cuban journalist Camila Acosta, Accused of ‘Instigation to Commit a Crime’ on July 11

The independent journalist Camila Acosta, contributor to ‘CubaNet’ and correspondent for the Spanish newspaper ‘ABC’. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 November 2021 — Independent journalist Camila Acosta, in home confinement for more than four months, has had the charges against her changed for reporting on the July 11 protests, for which she was detained for four days later. The political police informed her this Tuesday, at the Zapata y C Police Unit, in Havana, where they summoned the young woman.

In a direct transmission, the CubaNet collaborator and correspondent for the Spanish newspaper ABC said that she was no longer being charged for “public disorder,” as they told her then, but “instigation to commit a crime,” a crime that, according to Acosta, was added to her file post-arrest.

“The [State] Security does what they want with these files and of course it is a false crime as well,” the journalist asserts in the video. She says that for the accusation she faces a sanction of three-months to one year in prison or a fine “from 100 to 300 quotas*.”

The reason for the summons, Acosta also details, was to inform her that the political police will check her phone, the flash memory and the hard disk that they confiscated, “as if they had not already done so,” she adds.

“There is a detail with this crime: they accuse me of instigating a crime, but it does not say what is the crime to which I am inciting other people to commit,” she protests, while denouncing that the Cuban repressive organs violate “what is established in its own legislation.” continue reading

“I made it clear to Lieutenant Ernesto Dávila Gallardo that at no time did they give me an official document in which they notified which were the teams that had been involved in that search, nor the reason,” she said. “The justification they gave me is that this document is given to the homeowner and they asked the owner if he wanted the document and the owner said no.”  The journalist says that she consulted with Cubalex and the legal organization told her that she was the resident of that house and that the confiscated equipment was hers, so the document should have been delivered to Acosta herself.

After the frustrated Civic March for Change, convened by the Archipiélago platform for November 15, State Security has not stopped harassing independent activists, artists and journalists. Some of them, members of the San Isidro Movement or the 27N  (27 November) group, have been forced into exile.

Another opponent who was called by the political police is Carolina Barrero, who has not yet provided information on that summons. The art historian explained in a Facebook post that they are accusing her of “instigation to commit a crime” for asking that people march on 15N.

“Among other errors and faults, the summons did not have written the place where she should go. The officer told me it was Zapata and C, while acknowledging that he had no stamp and that he would return tomorrow,” she writes. “I want to remind the police administration that the subpoenas must be signed by the criminal investigator who leads the investigation or by a prosecutor or assistant prosecutor. It cannot be done by a third party who will not be present later. This is called usurpation of charges and is a crime, one too frequent in politically motivated subpoenas.”

*Translator’s note: The Cuban penal code sets fines as a number of ’quotas’, which allows it to change the value of all fines with a single change redefining the value of one quota.


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.

‘If You Eat the Sows Before Taking the Offspring, You End Pig Production’

This year the province of Holguín it is barely expected to reach 2,566 tons of pork, compared to the 8,625 planned. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 November 2021 — The state swine company Holpor, located in Holguín, has resurrected the recipe for liquid feed for pigs, which was discontinued since the Special Period, with the aim of making the animal’s meat cheaper and increasing its production. This year it is barely expected to reach 2,566 tons of the product, compared to the 8,625 planned, which is already very scarce for what the province demands

On Monday, Bismark Millán Maceo, current director of the state company, explained in the state newspaper Granma that the current price of dry feed is currently reaching 8,000 or 10,000 pesos per ton and that, even when it is the lowest cost, the figure reaches at least 3,000 pesos. Against this, the same amount of liquid feed will cost between 1,500 and 2,000 pesos according to the company’s calculations.

To make this food again, the company will have to start up the liquid feed plant, dismantled in the 90s due to the crisis of that time. Millán considers it sensible that production stopped at that time, but not that the equipment was dismantled and sold to other companies, including the recovery of raw materials.

However, both he and the general director of the company, Yosvel Sarmiento Peña, are in favor of the recovery of the industry, which is part of the projects that the Government has going out to 2030, since, in its opinion, it will lower costs of pork production.

The prices of dry feed have tripled compared to before the pandemic. As an alternative, Holpor is making feed with domestically produced corn, but the quantity falls short. “Currently, we are producing about 300 or 350 tons of dry feed per month, but we have the technological capacity to reach 2,000 in the same period.” continue reading

If the recovery plans for the liquid feed plant work, it will be possible to “have an alternative feed of high nutritional value for the pigs, basically obtained from the processing of agricultural crop residues and waste collected in social institutions, as well as in tourist facilities,” they explain.

The recovery of the State pig farms that were not exploited for a long time is one of more than 60 government initiatives to stimulate food production.

The company does not rule out being able to sell very young pre-fattening pigs to private producers who in the last year have suffered the interruption of the breeding and breeding chain due to the lack of food for the animals. Individual producers from Alquízar, in the province of Artemisa, explain to this newspaper that once the breeding line is cut it is very difficult to resume pig production.

“Once you eat the female before breeding her and taking her offspring, everything is over,” details El Pana, an Artemiseño producer who dismantled his pig pen more than a year ago due to lack of feed. The sale of young specimens by the State is already made to cooperatives and state farms but it is still under study to extend it to private ones.

Holpor intends to recover in Moa ten warehouses with a capacity for 5,000 heads that will be added to the 22 warehouses whose covers were restored at the Cuba Sí 1 fattening site in Holguín, which admits a similar number of animals.

The recovery of the liquid feed plant, a task that should be completed in 2023, will cost 7,000,000 pesos, although, they say, it will produce 95 tons per day. But the Communist Party newspaper already warns of the difficulties to finish it in the estimated term “because today only the battery of six tanks that was saved because they used it to store honey, as well as the laboratory premises, are in operating condition. It was preserved because they turned it into a semen center that, as is logical, will be relocated to other locations.”

For now, the process is in its initial phase and a boiler manufactured in Havana has been acquired, something rthe newspaper found remarkable, praising the ability to having been able to buy a Cuban product for its industry.

In addition, Holpor had set his sights on another possible place with similar characteristics: the old comprehensive pig farm in the municipality of Cueto. According to the company’s calculations, recovering this place, which was a victim of pillage after its closure, would allow the introduction of some 1,800 breeders, “which would be decisive for the meat increase plans.” Of course, part of them would not be precisely for Cubans, since the company plans to allocate an indeterminate amount to the “tourist pole that emerges in the Antilles.”

This plant would also be supplied with food waste from the hotel complexes in operation and the residues from the Cueto and Mayarí crops. But the Provincial Delegation of the Institute of Hydraulic Resources did not authorize it, considering that it would contaminate the Nipe dam, so Holpor is studying solutions to overcome that obstacle.


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.

Contaminated Drinking Water in Santiago de Cuba Sickens More than 70 People with Diarrhea

Overflow of sewage waters in Mariana Grajales Avenue, in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 November 2021 — The residents of the South Central Popular Council, of the José Martí Urban Center, in Santiago de Cuba, swim in black waters. The situation is such that more than 70 people have fallen ill with diarrhea.

OnSunday, official journalist Cuscó Tarradell explained that on the afternoon of November 25 “there was a partial contamination” of the drinking water that is supplied in eleven districts of the South Central Popular Council, belonging to the José Martí Urban Center.

According to Tarradell, when trying to fix an obstruction in Avenida de las Américas, an excavation damaged the main water pipe, which together with a breakdown of the sewage network in the same place, caused a “crossing of the networks” and the consequent contamination of clean water pipes.

Despite the large number of people admitted to the hospital, the journalist assures that they were tested for cholera and were negative. Tarradell also says that on that same day, the contamination was eliminated and the fault repaired.

“We began to notice that the water that came through the pipe had a bad smell but it did not seem to be anything new to us because here it is often dirty,” Norma del Toro, a neighbor of the area most affected by the spill, explains to 14ymedio. “Luckily in our house we boiled the water but in this block several families had diarrhea.” continue reading

“For years here we’ve have to boil and then filter the water or buy it from the water carriers who bring it from places where it is cleaner,” explains the retiree. “You cannot trust the service and in houses where there are children or the elderly, it is best to buy it or take extreme measures.”

However, residents of the place published photos and videos in which they show that the situation is neither new nor limited only to the José Martí Urban Center. In one of these images, for example, Mariana Grajales Avenue is seen at the other end of the city flooded with sewage waters.

“Why is our city in this catastrophic situation?” the administrators of the Facebook group Turismo por Alcantarillados deSantiago de Cuba asked in a post. In it, they say that they had contact with a director of the state Aqueduct and Sewerage company, who wanted to remain anonymous, and who responded that the problem of the water system is “very complicated” because the sewerage system is very old.

“Some parts are more than 100 years old, others never foresaw the growth of the city and the growth plans have not counted on the adaptation of a new system for the final disposal of liquid waste,” this official is quoted in the publication. He also said that only a few of the breakdowns could be repaired “in the very long term” and with the risk of “new and greater breaks” in the meantime.

The solution, according to this manager, “is totally out of financial possibilities, because it would require millions in an investment as large and expensive as completely renovating 80% of the city’s sewage system, which is totally unaffordable.”

The group asserts that they have documented the overflows in Santiago de Cuba for decades, and that their page had 1,167 members in just the first month of its creation. “What has motivated such rapid growth in our group?”

The overflowing of the sewage is compounded by the abandonment of garbage collection by the authorities, a situation documented by this newspaper half a year ago, and which causes continuous outbreaks of scabies, lice and dengue.


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.

In Cuba, The Condoms Also Come From Miami

On World AIDS Day, the day that the fight against HIV-AIDS is celebrated, complaints about the lack of condoms are mounting. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 1 December 2020 — Numerous citizen initiatives have arisen with the disinterested and laudable support of Cuban emigrants, mainly based in Miami, who, in addition to bringing medicines and medical supplies to the island, have included the sending of condoms that are distributed free of charge by activists, however the effort is not enough to reach everyone.

On the day the fight against HIV-AIDS is celebrated, complaints about the lack of condoms for sale in state establishments are increasing. “You go to a pharmacy and there aren’t any, you look for them on the classifieds site and a single condom can cost up to 40 pesos, a real madness,” a young man from Havana told 14ymedio.

Several citizen initiatives have emerged with the support of Cuban emigrants. (14ymedio)

“It is more expensive to buy three condoms in the informal market, than to pay rent,” says a young woman to her friend outside a pharmacy located on Avenida Carlos III. “My boyfriend can’t find them and they’re so expensive he can’t afford them, so we’re not using them and that’s what God wants,” she said anguished.

“We are in a country where the main weapon to stop the disease, which is the use of condoms, does not exist right now,” was one of the comments that could be read today on the social network Facebook, where Cubans criticized the poor performance of the State to comply with delivery plans to businesses.

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.

Desperate, Cubans Crowd to Buy Mincemeat and Beef Belly

Workers from a meat company offered their products outside the Gedic headquarters. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 26 November 2021 — Almost a hundred people lined up this afternoon in front of an improvised platform that workers from a meat company set up outside the main headquarters of the Construction Engineering and Design Business Group (Gedic) in the Cerro municipality, in Havana.

At first they offered their products only to the workers of that company, led by Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban spies who served jail time in the United States and who were later exchanged during the diplomatic thaw with the Barack Obama administration.

At the end of the sale to the Gedic workers, and in view of the fact that there was still merchandise left, they decided to take the platform out to the street to offer the residents of the place the mincemeat at 55 pesos per pound, the belly at 25 and the blood sausage to 35.

Word spread immediately in the neighborhood, an area with low-income families. Faced with the shortage of products in the freezers, many people ran to reach a privileged position in the line. continue reading

The number of interested parties forced the sellers to set up two scales to speed up the sale. Employees constantly asked customers for patience and calm, as they began to protest before those who tried to sneak in line, fearful of not reaching the small amount of meat available.

“What is that? Do you eat that?” yelled a lady pointing to the belly that looked quite dirty inside a plastic box. “Yes, ma’am, you give it a boil, remove the dirt and hair, and there you have meat to eat,” replied one of the workers in a mocking tone.

Others complained about the quality of the mincemeat, which at first glance seemed to have a lot of skin and water. “Gentlemen, listen up, I’m going to give you a lesson,” shouted a woman who seemed to be in charge of the sale. “The liquid in the picadillo is a preserve, you have to cook it with little water and try not to put too much salt because it is already highly salted.”

In industrial processes, the lady continued to explain, this preserve is used “to maintain the quality of the mincemeat.” Regarding the skins, she explained, “that is beef from Peru, which comes in pieces and was ground in front of us, so I assure you that it is of tremendous quality.” Turning to one of the men who came with her, she said in a low voice: “Well, they didn’t have much choice, because this meat is only for sale in MLC [freely convertible currency] stores.”

A boy who was able to buy said to one of the dispatchers: “We must take advantage of these opportunities, so give me two pounds of blood sausage. My mother-in-law is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and will have to make a pact with the Lord, because these times are not picky,” he joked.

Despite everything, many returned home unable to buy. “They should have let me buy first, the desire I have to eat a good mince of beef,” was the regret of an older woman who with her cane dragged herself away with her empty bag.


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.

Bus Hits the Manzana Kempinski Hotel in Havana

Bus crash this Wednesday at the Manzana Kempinski Hotel, in Havana. (14ymedio) 

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 24 November 2021 — A public transport bus on route P8 hit the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski in Havana on Wednesday, just in front of Central Park, leaving seven minor injuries. The vehicle, a Chinese brand Yutong bus number 604, collided at 5:00 in the morning with one of the columns and knocked it over completely.

At the stroke of nine in the morning, experts from the Ministry of the Interior were there, trying to determine the causes of the event, and a crowd of passers-by gathered around.

Line P8, which goes from Villa Panamericana to Reparto Eléctrico, in the capital, is highly trafficked, but at that time, the driver was going back to the Calvario terminal. There were only two minor injuries, according to the Granma newspaper, which cites Juan Caballero Martínez, director of the Provincial Transportation Company. continue reading

According to “preliminary information” offered by the authorities in the official press, “the cause of the accident was a technical fault in the direction of the vehicle, which caused the driver to lose control of the car.”

In the images taken by this newspaper, the presence of hotel managers and workers wearing helmets and vests is also notable.

“The column is not a support column, it is an adornment column,” an industrial engineer who was part of the group of onlookers who came to the place explains to 14ymedio , right where there are several luxury boutiques, on the ground floor of the hotel. “It is original but it does not have a concrete base with steel, it is simply cement and a water pipe. This column is not supporting the weight of the building.”

Column of the Hotel Manzana Kempinski damaged in the accident. (14ymedio)

However, another source consulted, a civil engineer who has worked since 2013 in the Office of the City Historian on restoration projects, explains that “it is not a decorative column” and points out that “it is structural” and supports the weight of the wall on top of it.

“The fact that it has a pluvial in its interior does not make it decorative. The column is made of stone with mortar, as was typical of the time in which the building was built. Throughout the ground floor there are steel beams of more than 20 cm of peralto embedded between bricks, which are supported from column to column and those are the ones that resist the load of the walls of the upper floors,” says this professional who collaborated in the restoration of the property.  The accident aroused all kinds of opinions among the neighbors, who allowed themselves to speculate what could have happened. “I don’t understand how fast it was going to crash like this,” said one of them. “I would not want to be in the shoes of that driver, here you cannot come at 50 kilometers per hour, you have to come at 20 or 30.”

“People had to go out the window because no one came to help them,” said another. “They say here that the driver fell asleep but they still haven’t said anything officially. What a pity, a hotel that not long ago was completely repaired.”

The Manzana Kempinski is a luxurious hotel inaugurated in 2017, the first 5-star Plus, which the residents of the area call “the spaceship.” Located in the old Manzana de Gómez, the accommodation is designed for a type of tourism with high standards, far removed from the reality of the streets.

For this reason, it was the subject of several performances by the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. In one of them, he organized a raffle so that any Cuban could spend a night in the exclusive establishment for 2 CUC the ticket. In another, he photographed himself with a huge mace a few inches from the window of the Giorgio G. VIP store in the gallery.

The artist, in prison for four months, did not cause any damage, unlike this Wednesday a state transport vehicle.


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Repression and Internal Disagreements Cause Resignations in the Archipielago Group

Policemen in the streets, arrests and acts of repudiation marked the day of 15N  (15 November) in Cuba.  (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2021 — After the surprise arrival in Spain of Yunior García Aguilera and his wife, Dayana Prieto, on November 17, the Archipiélago platform, which the playwright helped create, is experiencing difficult times.

The harassment and repression by Cuban State Security since the call for the Civic March of 15N, (15 November) finally frustrated by the regime, are joined these days by the group’s desertions and criticism of the departure of García Aguilera.

One of the casualties is that of Daniela Rojo, who this Wednesday announced her resignation as coordinator of the platform. The young woman from Guanabacoa, the mother of two small children, who was kidnapped by the political police on November 12 and spent five days in a house of the Ministry of the Interior under the custody of several agents, now describes her decision to separate from the platform as being for “personal and family problems”.

In a post published on her Facebook wall, Rojo said that she has not had any run-ins with members of the opposition group. “My departure from the Archipíelago has nothing to do with a change in my ideas or in my political position,” she said, “but I need to shelter my family, the ones that have suffered the most from this process, especially my children.”

The activist has been one of those most harassed by State Security, which has imposed fines and summoned her to various interrogations. For participating in the demonstration on July 11, she spent 23 days in prison. Earlier this month, she was summoned for an “interview” with the Organ of the Ministry of the Interior responsible for attention to minor children to allegedly show interest in the way she raises her children,” a very subtle form of emotional blackmail that would understandably make any mother give up,” she considered. continue reading

“I will use my time to collaborate in other functions, to be useful as well, but perhaps not as persecuted by State Security as Archipíelago is at the moment,” explained Rojo, who expressed her “respect” for those “who continue in that and all of the projects of the cause of the freedom of Cuba.” And she concluded: “I will continue to advocate from my trench for a plural and democratic Cuba and especially for the release of all political prisoners.”

Before her, on Saturday, Professor Leonardo Fernández Otaño, also moderator of the platform, publicly announced his departure from the Archipíelago, and confessed not sharing “a group of political actions carried out by Yunior García Aguilera since his departure from Cuba.”

“I have always lived the platform as a horizontal and consultation space, but my exercise of criticism was taken as a negative attitude by a good part of the members, which I respect as their genuine intellectual right, but I do not believe that it is democratic or healthy,”  he lamented on his social networks.

In any case, his resignation is, he insisted, a “personal exercise” and “free from all pressure,” driven above all by his social vocation to build “the Cuba house.”

Fernández Otaño was also one of those arrested on June 11, when he demonstrated, along with García Aguilera and other activists, at the corner of 23 and M, in front of the building of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, in El Vedado, to demand 15 minutes on national television. All were violently arrested and most spent two days in custody.

In addition to being the moderator of the platform, the young professor was also the main coordinator of Ágora, the space for debate that Archipíelago has on Telegram, a responsibility that he also abandoned.

“Today I feel that I have to go back to my books, offer my ear and word to many mothers who are expecting their children,” he said. “The vocation that led me to enter the Archipíelago is still alive as the first day: the intention to support the construction of the social fabric, ask for the release of prisoners and encourage citizen reflection, but I believe in the finite.”

Among those detainees is Humberto Bello, the first protester to take to the streets on November 15. The young man has been processed in a summary and secret trial, in which he has been sentenced to one year in prison, according to the complaint made by the Cubalex legal organization this Tuesday.

A source close to a member of the Archipíelago, who prefers to remain anonymous, details that the pressure from the political police has reached the activists’ family and friends, and that they are focused on many opponents making the decision to leave the country. “They suggested that I speak with the person I know on the platform to promote his departure from the country,” he says. “They also offered me to go to a hotel with that person with all expenses paid during the days of the protests, and thus get them away from the streets.”

At the same time, and after a few days of stupor, the criticism against García Aguilera and Prieto’s decision began to harden.

The art historian Carolina Barrero, a member of the group 27N – as is Yunior García Aguilera — was forceful on her social networks. “What has happened is one of the most irresponsible acts in the history of rebellion in Cuba before and after ’59,” she wrote, without mentioning the name of the playwright at any time.

“It has been said that it is human to be weak, that it is human to break, and yes, one also has the right to be a coward. But if you are, you do not put the trust and responsibility on yourself to sustain the desire for freedom of a whole country, if you cannot hold your pulse, if you abandon yourself at the precise moment you have to be,” Barrero said, and added: “It was not difficult to wait fifteen days to leave or do it fifteen days before. Because from the human point of view I also say that the image in which a visa is collected on the same day and in the same place where it is called to march is incomprehensible.”


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.

Charcoal for the Christmas Chicken, Offer Cuban Markets Lacking Pork

Before, on the sign that hangs in the agricultural market on Sitio Street, in the Havana neighborhood of El Cerro, it said “Charcoal for your piglet”, but now tthere is no pork. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 23 November 2021 — “Pork leg imported from the United States, ideal for Christmas dinners,” reads the ad on one of the many digital sites that promotes products for Cuban migrants to buy for their relatives on the island. This year the popularly called “national mammal” will come from abroad in the face of the collapse of local production.

Just as Cubans said goodbye to nougats, grapes and cider to see in the new year, this time it is the turn of the traditional pig on December 31 to say goodbye. The fall in supply and the rise in the price of meat means that many families will choose to make a meal with chicken or minced meat on those dates.

El Pana, a private producer from Alquízar, assures that “this could be seen coming.” With a large clientele – which included private restaurants and rental houses – the entrepreneur has been offering “not a single rib” for more than a year, he explains to 14ymedio. Although the closure of Havana’s borders due to the pandemic hit his business hard, the reason for the decline points the other way.

“The guajiros stopped breeding and the females that had to be put on for the mount a few months ago did not put on,” laments the merchant. “This is a chain and when it is interrupted it becomes a problem to start breeding again,” he details. “For two years, when the lack of feed made it more and more difficult to keep the animals, there were producers who left the business and who no longer want to return.” continue reading

“I myself took apart the corral, and the irons that I was using to hold the fences, I used them in something else. The people who live near me did the same, and now they would almost have to start from scratch, so I don’t think the lack of pig is going to be fixed soon, this is going to take a long time to get back to how it was before.”

The chain El Pana is talking about also includes sausage producers, food outlets that based their menu on pork steak or fried dough, as well as all those that offered spices, citrus fruits and charcoal for seasoning and cooking ” the pig of 31,” as it is also popularly called.

Before, a sign in the agricultural market on the street, located near Collado, in the Havana neighborhood of El Cerro, said “good charcoal is sold for your piglet”, but it had to be changed and now it promotes the product for cooking “pollón” because, it jokes , “the piglet is lost and fleshy.” Among the customers who stopped in front of the ad, there was no shortage of ironies about the possibility that even the chicken (pollo) will disappear in the coming weeks.

“Soon it will be for the mincemeat, because the chicken is also being lost,” lamented a young man who claims to have seen more assortment in the market compared to other weeks, although it was fundamentally a greater supply of roots, vegetables and fruits, as the precious pork keeps coming in drippings and there are days when it doesn’t even show up.

“I bought a pound of pork steak for 200 pesos; if they had told me a few years ago, I would have believed it was a lie,” another Central Havana neighbor told this newspaper. “December has not started and the pig is already very expensive and missing. Before, this happened to people who left it for the end, those who were late in buying and wanted to have their leg in the last week.”

However, the woman believes, “now it is not even worth being cautious because since the beginning of the year the pig has been very expensive.” Her family will opt “for another meat, preferably chicken or mutton, if it appears.”

While in other countries it is customary to eat a turkey or roast a lamb, the star of Cuban Christmas is the pig. Along with black beans, rice and yuca with mojo, the pork dominates the tables. With its preparations, it also generates several family rituals, such as cutting the shoulder, frying the chicharones and preparing the mojo (marinade) for the meat.

“Chicharrones can also be made with the skin of the chicken,” says a clever family man who is already preparing for the change. “I’m not going to wear myself out looking for a piece of pork, now all my energy is going to go to see if instead of chicken drumsticks I can at least buy my family some breasts.”

But the breast is one of the pieces least likely to appear in the markets in Cuban pesos. “In foreign currency stores, people sleep in line all night to buy a box of breasts and those who have family outside buy it online,” he laments. “But I’m going to look for it even under the stones.”

“The trick is to cook it in the oven and put a piece of charcoal next to it,” he recommends, resigned. “Nothing to envy the roast suckling pig.”


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 Battle of the Grammys and the Example of Spain

The creators of ‘Patria y Vida’, with the exception of Osorbo, incarcerated in Cuba, collect the prize. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 29 November 2021 — The Cuban regime turns everything into a ridiculous battle. It’s incapable of looking at itself in the mirror. It fears the image of octogenarians defeated by life and takes on a heroic vision of them. Right now, it has transformed the 2021 Latin Grammy awards into an epic struggle against Yotuel, Maykel Osorbo, who is jailed, Descemer Bueno, Yadam González, El Funky, Gente de Zona, and Beatriz Luengo. Why? Because they are the authors or the performers of Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] (“Chancleta Records”), and because the organizers, in all fairness, chose that song as the best and the most outstanding of the year. At the same time, they received the Award for the “Best Urban Song” of 2021.

They weren’t even the only Cubans to win a Grammy. Gloria Estefan and the Aragón Orchestra also received one. Gloria Estefan won the “Best Tropical Album of the Year” award with Brazil-305, while the Aragón Orchestra, founded in 1939, 20 years before the Cuban Revolution arose, received the “Best Traditional Tropical Album” award for its Cha-Cha-Cha: Homenaje a lo tradicional (Tribute to the traditional.) The news surprised the members of the orchestra, according to Rafael Lay, its current director and son of one of the founders, although the sound quality was achieved in Los Angeles thanks to the efforts of Isaac Delgado and Alain Pérez, two excellent and charismatic performers.

Let’s look at the sequence of events. First, the clash with the San Isidro Movement took place. A group of very poor young artists, separated from political power, appeared in good faith at the Ministry of Culture to speak with the Minister. Their petition was not granted. Months later, the civic protests of July 11 occurred. Thousands of people rose up across the country. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the two events. Finally, on November 15, the civic association “Archipiélago” took over. It was provisionally led by Yunior García Aguilera, who ended up exiled in Spain, and who offered a magnificent explanation of these phenomena delivered at a press conference. continue reading

The fact that the “Song of the Year” award has been given to Patria y Vida should have told the revolutionary leadership that its message smells like mothballs. It’s very old. Twenty or 30 years ago they would have awarded a song based on the motto Patria o Muerte [Homeland or Death], and it would have been awarded by a kid wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, but today it is unthinkable that something like this would happen.

On January 1st the 63rd year of that revolution and that regime will begin! Of course, they can remain at the helm, but how long? General Francisco Franco died in bed like Fidel, as will likely happen to Raúl, but what they will not prevent is that the young generations completely modify the political course of the country. It has always been that way in world’s history.

Franco had carefully supervised the education of his successor in the executive power – the king – to ensure there would be no surprises. Even in Parliament – which at that time was called “the Cortes” and was made up of tercios, as the fascist manuals indicated – there were some fierce parliamentarians who made up “the 40 of Ayete.” They were known like that after the small palace in which they used to meet, very close to San Sebastián, in the Basque country, Franco’s residence in some summers. It was the group of Franco supporters that, supposedly, would resist any attempt to change. Only that at the head of “the 40 of Ayete” was no other than Adolfo Suárez, the man who, together with the king, led the transition once Franco died.

Neither King Juan Carlos nor Adolfo Suárez betrayed Franco. Or, if they did, they had to choose one of two conflicting loyalties: the one they owed to the old Caudillo who had personally elevated them, or the one they owed to the new generations who had not actively participated in the civil war, just like themselves. Both Juan Carlos de Borbón and Adolfo Suárez were products of World War II, or, in any case, of the Cold War that was then being fought. They chose to lead their compatriots to modernity and extract them from the first part of the 20th century to which the Generalissimo of Spain had dragged them.

I don’t know how the example of Spain can be ignored, despite the fact that, from an economic point of view, the last 15 years of the Franco regime were splendid. Cuba has a golden opportunity to correct the wrong course taken in 1959. All it has to do is rectify, consult society, and go, as Oswaldo Payá pointed out, “from the law to the law.” Otherwise, the country may fall into another stage of unnecessary violence.


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.

In Prison, Osorbo is Punished for Expressing Gratitude for the Grammys Awarded to ‘Patria y Vida’

One of the audios sent by Orsorbo from jail was to express his gratitude for the Latin Grammys for ’Patria y Vida’.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 27, 2021–Rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo, jailed for the six months, had his phone calls suspended for three months as punishment. As art curator Anamely Ramos explained on Friday, the motive was the recorded messages the artist has been sending from jail.

One of them was the one he sent in regards to the Latin Grammy gala on November 18th, where the song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] on which Osorbo collaborated, won the two awards for which it was nominated.

Ramos stated that on Wednesday Castillo received a visit from his lawyer in the maximum-security prison of Kilo Cinco y Medio in Pinar del Río, after several days without news of the rapper. “This is how we confirmed that he is still there,” wrote the curator, a member, as is the rapper, of the Movimiento San Isidro (MSI).

“Maykel’s voice is unbearable for those in power, even though his body is imprisoned. With this, they only show their fear and how little authority they have left,” shared Ramos who stated that at first they punished Osorbo by denying him phone calls for one month, but when they called him to confirm the disciplinary measures that would be imposed, he wrote “Patria y Vida” below his name, for which the punishment increased to three months.

“A three word sentence is also unbearable to them,” denounced Ramos. “Three words have the power to leave an entire state without recourse, other than violence. Three words: each one a month of isolation for Maykel. They are shameful.” continue reading

Ramos insisted that Osorbo is “unjustly imprisoned” and sick. “Under these conditions, to keep him isolated is doubly grave. Now how will we know his state of health?” she asked.

“Taking away a prisoner’s phone calls for an audio expressing gratitude for a prize he won for his talent and his effort and which is a prize for all of Cuba (which does not belong to you), is a cruel act and an embarrassment in the 21st century,” she asserted, and then stated that the Cuban prison regulations violate “the Mandela Laws and are contemptuous of human dignity and life.”

Osorbo was detained on May 18th of this year and at the end of that same month was transferred to Kilo Cinco y Medio, a maximum-security prison. He is accused of “assault”, “public disorder” and “evasion” for what occurred on April 4th at a protest on Damas street in front of MSI’s headquarters, when police attempted to arbitrarily arrest him and he refused to get into the patrol car.

 Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.

Fabricated Charges and False Witnesses Against July 11th Protesters in Artemisa, Cuba

Photo of People’s Provincial Tribunal in Artemisa. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, November 28, 2021–“Prepared testimony” and contradictions predominated the three days of trials against 13 young protesters in the Criminal Court of the People’s Provincial Tribunal in Artemisa, according to family members. “There is an extraordinary contradiction among the prosecution’s witnesses,” Roberto Rodríguez, who attended the trial, assured 14ymedio.

The young people, who did not have prior criminal records, have endured finger pointing and comments for participating in the massive marches on July 11th in the province where the first popular protests began. During the trial, the fabricated accusations were evident as were the false witnesses with which the prosecutors sought long sentences. The sentencing is expected within 15 days.

In Yeremin Salsine Janés’s case, he could be sentenced to 14 years in prison. During his detention and his transfer to the maximum-security prison in the municipality of Guanajay, the 31-year-old man received beatings, which resulted in head injuries, according to sources close to the family.

“It has been tense, inhumane and cruel to see, on the first day, one of the young men hav a panic attack because he didn’t have his medication, seeing his brother with high blood pressure transferred to the hospital in a patrol car. And then he spent a long, torturous night waiting until dawn to continue the trial,” relayed Rodríguez, speaking about the arbitrary nature of the processes within the People’s Provincial Tribunal. continue reading

For Eduardo Gutiérrez Alonso, who remains in provisional custody at the Técnico y Guanajay and faces charges for the crimes of public disorder, contempt and assault, the prosecutor seeks 12 years in prison. The trial against him has been plagued with irregularities, denounced a family member. The witnesses confirmed that Eddy was wearing shorts and a red T-shirt. “That is not so,” refuted a source close to the accused. “In the videos and the evidence presented, he is dressed in black and wearing slacks.”

The streets of Artemisa’s Provincial Tribunal have been militarized, stated family members of the young men. (14ymedio)

The tension of the first day of the trial was followed by intimidation the following day when family members of those detained were received with “militarized streets,” which caused the first shock. The second occurred within the courtroom, when pepper spray carried by one of the policemen exploded.

“The sad thing is that in our affected state, to evacuate the prisoners they wanted to handcuff them, then they removed them from the courtroom, washed their faces and helped them,” and one man with asthma required oxygen. That day one of the accused with epilepsy “suffered a crises and had a seizure.” We learned this person had already experienced a similar situation in prison.

Last Wednesday, after the presentation of evidence, the defense felt confident that, “the prosecutor did not have a case.” The defense pointed out the lies told by the prosecutor and witnesses, in which “the manipulation was plain to see.”

Family members demanded “freedom and justice” for Javier González Fernández, Alexandre Díaz Rodríguez, Yurien Rodríguez Ramos, Eduard Bryan Luperon Vega, Eddy Gutiérrez Alonso, Victor Alejandro Painceira, Yeremi Salsine, José Alberto Pio Torres, Leandro David Morales, Luis Giraldo Martínez, Iván Hernández Troya, Yoslen Domínguez, and Yoselin Hernández. They also demanded that authorities cease “the citations and persecution.”

To date, several independent organizations have documented 1,283 detentions resulting from the protests on July 11th and 42 convictions in summary trials. Of this total, at least 540 remain in prison.

In one report, the Cubalex legal information center, expressed special concern for “the use of sedition to impose exemplary sanctions on at least 122 people” and reported that prior to July 11th, Cuban Prisoners Defenders had registered 152 political prisoners.

 Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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.