Cubans Will Have To Respond With a ‘Like’ on Social Networks

Sharing a news story that may be absolutely true but that the regime considers threatening to its stability may qualify as a crime. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 25 May 2023 — Cuba’s parliamentary deputies will predictably approve this Thursday the Social Communication Law, a rule that has had up to 34 versions and that in the last and definitive one now formally penalizes the mere interaction of users on social networks. Beyond the criminalization — even greater — to which independent journalists and the press are exposed, any Internet user will feel more insecure when the law enters into force.

Chapter IV, which addresses social communication in cyberspace, has undergone an important modification since the first versions of the law, published in July 2022. In this section, Article 51 provides that the people who are subject to the law (everyone, as specified in article 2) must “answer for the contents that they generate, select, modify, interact with and publish.”

In practice, it will be enough to make a favorable comment or “like” something that is considered to have the “objective of subverting the constitutional order” or “instigating terrorism and cyberwar” to contravene the law, although it is unknown what the penalty will be. The sanctions are still to be developed, but the document anticipates that the “administrative or judicial” route will be applied, as appropriate.

To date, there have been several cases of people who have been investigated or called to answer and even disciplinary measures in the academic or labor sphere for interactions on social networks, but there was no specific law that classified their actions as a crime or misdemeanor. continue reading

Article 51 contains a no less disturbing section, by asking to “implement and inform users about self-regulatory procedures that avoid publications that violate the provisions of the Constitution, this Law and other normative provisions on this subject,” from which it follows that citizens will also be told what they can and cannot share, applaud or dislike on their social networks.

This Wednesday, in the debate prior to the approval of the rule, the deputies reflected on the importance of having a Communication Law that goes beyond the traditional media and professionals involved in the information process.

Deputy Rosa Miriam Elizalde said that “an anthropological change is taking place due to the emergence of new communities, with new languages,” so a regulation is needed that “for many is even a national security law, because we are talking about national legislation that has to deal with a transnational infrastructure.”

The intention is to intervene in a cyberspace that escapes national legislation. “When you access Facebook,” Elizalde pointed out, “you accept everything because you want to communicate with your uncle, your cousin. The regulation is not national but is transnational, international, and the servers are physically somewhere else.”

In her words you sense that the new law is intended to regulate the user rather than the network.

Most countries are being forced to adapt their rules to what happens on social networks, penalizing criminal behavior for violating some fundamental rights. In the Cuban case, however, the fact of sharing news that may be absolutely true but the regime considers a threat to its stability will qualify as a crime.

This will predictably penalize the dissemination of protests, an activity that has already been pointed out by the official press and the courts themselves as reprehensible for trying to “destabilize the social order.” It could also be considered potentially harmful to share or interact with the publication of photographs or messages that reveal shortcomings of the State (which the regime considers to be trying to denigrate the Revolution), as has happened with hospitals, schools and other facilities in poor conditions.

Also, in the same sense, “criticism of senior officials, defaming, slandering or insulting the people, organs, agencies and entities of the State, political, mass and social organizations of the country” is expressly prohibited.

The authorities have also lost control of the information considered “crime news.” Murders, robberies with violence and femicides are more than ever within the reach of the population thanks to the dissemination they have achieved through social networks, a reality that has brought to the end the image of a model country with the social peace that supposedly existed when the police censored the crime statistics. This type of content could also be among those that the regime considers contrary to the interests of the State.

The bill also prohibits other internationally criminalized attitudes, such as harassment, humiliation, racism, homophobia or the promotion of hate speech, although this is on paper. We will have to see if its application is, once again, arbitrary and motivated by ideological issues.

“This is the only way to reduce the deep asymmetry that nation states have in the face of the brutal economic power of these large platforms, mostly North American,” the deputy said.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 His First Public Event, Borrell Greets Cubans Who ‘Have the Courage and Ability To Take Action’

Borrell predicted that the Island could become “the Mallorca of the Caribbean” and classified entrepreneurs as “the yeast” to grow the Cuban economy. (@norges14/Twitter/Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 25 May 2023 — Josep Borrell’s first public event in Havana has been a meeting with Cuban entrepreneurs at the Estudio 50, on Lugareño Street. The representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs began a three-day visit to the Island on Thursday, focused on strengthening bilateral economic and political ties.

“I want to greet the men and women of Cuba who have the courage and the ability to take action,” said Borrell, who gave a speech before the representatives of the MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) with “three messages”: the role of medium and small enterprises in the economy of a nation, “the process of opening and modernization of the Cuban economy” and the importance of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (ADPC) between the EU and Cuba.

Borrell predicted that the Island could become “the Mallorca of the Caribbean” and cataloged entrepreneurs as “the yeast” to grow the Cuban economy. The MSMEs “are a manifestation of a model of society, a model of society based on freedom,” he said.

The diplomat, who acknowledged the serious economic crisis that the Island is going through, stressed that the EU seeks to support private micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, legal in Cuba since September 2021. continue reading

Borrell assured that the EU wants to “accompany the opening process” and “economic and social reforms” in Cuba, “from mutual respect” and with the aim of contributing to the “improvement of the lives of all Cubans.”

In this sense, Borrell cited a community fund endowed with 14 million euros (about 15 million dollars) to “help (Cuban) entrepreneurs to be better entrepreneurs,” with training and advice. He also pointed out the EU’s willingness to cooperate with the Cuban institutions to boost the economy, from the regulatory framework to financing.

This public event has been known only from the agenda of the  representative of the EU in Havana this Thursday, although by tomorrow, Friday, he is expected to participate in the meetings of the joint EU-Cuba council — which meets periodically, according to the ADPC — and to hold a meeting with the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez.

So far, no meeting has been announced with independent civil society organizations or relatives of political prisoners, although activists from the Cuban Center for Human Rights have released a list of 14 political prisoners who are on hunger strikes in the prisons of the Island, some of them arrested and prosecuted for participating in the popular protests of July 11, 2021.

Several NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, asked Borrell this week that human rights remain a priority in the EU’s policy towards Cuba.

Also an important issue is the support — exclusively political — of Havana to Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine and the attempts of these two countries to strengthen their economic ties despite the sanctions that weigh on their economies.

Cuba is also important for the European bloc because this year it occupies the temporary presidency of the Group of 77 and China (G77+China), the largest intergovernmental mechanism in the world, in which more than 130 developing countries cooperate.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Choice of the Official Cuban Writer Nancy Morejon To Preside Over the Poetry Market Is Criticized

In addition to attending the inauguration, Morejón has planned two presentations on Caribbean poetry for June 7 and 10. (Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 May 2023 — The Cuban writer Jacobo Machover criticized the election of the official poet Nancy Morejón as honorary president of the Poetry Market, an important literary event held annually in Paris since 1983. Through a review of the history of support for the regime that has characterized Morejón, the professor also argues that it is a “crazy” decision, which will undermine the reputation of the event.

Held from June 7 to 12 in the Saint-Sulpice square of the French capital, the Poetry Market will be inaugurated by Morejón, whom the official site of the event characterizes as a “translator of French and French-speaking poetry,” in addition to being the winner of several distinctions, some of them awarded by institutions in France.

In an open letter to the organizers, Machover points out that Morejón is aligned with the “the dictatorial regime prevailing in Cuba” and is part of its “cultural authorities.” In addition, she is director of the magazine Unión, organ of the “very official” Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), which “only admits into its ranks the intellectuals close to power and from which all dissidents or critics are mercilessly excluded,” he says.

As part of UNEAC, Morejón has been a signatory of several documents of loyalty to the regime, the most recent of them, recalls Machover, is the “Message of Cuban educators, journalists, writers, artists and scientists to their colleagues from other countries,” signed in October 2022, in which the poet’s signature appears in sixth place. continue reading

In that text — supported by, among others, the “official biographer of Fidel Castro and the Venezuelan Hugo Chávez,” the Spanish-French journalist Ignacio Ramonet — she expressed her full support for the Government, in addition to alleging the non-existence of repression by the authorities, a situation described as “a distortion of our reality.”

Machover reflects on the “truth about Cuba” that the UNEAC message defended, saying that the signatories hide the existence of “more than a thousand political prisoners detained following or on the sidelines of the peaceful demonstrations that took place on July 11 and 12, 2021 throughout the country.”

“Among the people imprisoned and sentenced to insane sentences are several brave artists, writers and poets, who refuse to abide by the obligation of everyone, intellectuals or the ’people’s people’, to dedicate themselves to permanently praising the regime,” adds the professor, who points out Morejón’s “custom” of signing this type of document, which justifies “the worst governmental crimes.”

Another letter that the poet signed twenty years ago, says Machover, was the one that justified the arrest and conviction of 75 dissidents, several of them writers, during the so-called Black Spring of 2003. Among them was the poet Raúl Rivero, whom Machover has translated and published in French. In addition, the document intended for the “peoples of the world” validated the execution of three young people who had tried to escape from Cuba by hijacking the small ferry boat of Regla.

One day after the protests of July 11, 2021, the Ministry of Culture had several intellectuals appear on Cuban Television to denounce the demonstrators. Morejón then said: “These events of yesterday, unacceptable, condemnable in every way, are part of an old pandemic as terrible as this one that plagues us (Covid-19): that of the empire.”

The writer points out that Morejón “is nothing more than an accomplice and propagandist of the Castro regime, which has prevailed for more than 64 years,” and her honorary presidency in the Poetry Market insults “freedom of expression throughout the world,” which the event defends.

“I demand that this error be corrected and that the poet Nancy Morejón be removed from the honorary title that has been improperly attributed to her. That act would contribute to the freedom of Cuba and, of course, of its poetry and literature, which constitute the common heritage of all writers and poets throughout the world,” concludes Machover.

The Poetry Market, created in 1983 by the editor Jean-Michel Place and the critic Arlette Albert-Birot, summons poets and publishers from all over the world every spring in Paris. It is currently organized by c/i/r/c/e, a French association dedicated to literary, critical and artistic studies. In addition to attending the inauguration, Morejón has planned two presentations, on June 7 and 10, on Caribbean poetry,

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Will Remain on the List of States That Do Not Cooperate in the Fight Against Terrorism With the United States

The protests of July 11, 2021 put an end to any potential elimination of some US sanctions on Cuba. (Marcos Évora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 23 May 2023 — Joe Biden’s Administration has once again included Cuba in the list of countries that “do not fully cooperate” in the fight against terrorism, a decision that maintains the line of previous years.

“I hereby determine and certify to Congress that the following countries are not fully cooperating with the anti-terrorist efforts of the United States: Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Iran, Syria and Venezuela,” wrote the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in the notice, published on Tuesday in the Federal Registry.

The British agency Reuters, which has advanced the news, consulted with the State Department over the reasons that have led to keeping Cuba on this list, but for the moment has not received a response.

Cuba’s reaction has not been long in coming. “The mendacious accusations against Cuba regarding terrorism are an abominable crime that the United States has practiced without scruples and that, with opportunism, it uses as a tool of political coercion,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez, wrote on his Twitter account.

It is the third consecutive year that the State Department, which must provide the list to Congress every year, includes the Island in this category, different from that of states that sponsor terrorism, which has not yet been decided. In 2020, the Government of Donald Trump added Cuba to this list for the first time since 2015. On that occasion and later, the State Department attributed it to the regime’s refusal to extradite to Colombia the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army who were in Havana, as Bogotá requested after an attack that left more than twenty dead. The Cuban government affirmed that the protocol of the talks prevented it, but the reason did not convince Washington, which cites this reason in subsequent reports. continue reading

It is joined by the protection that, according to the United States, Cuba offers to criminals who are wanted and claimed in their countries for crimes linked to terrorism.

Both reasons are also alleged from Washington when adding the Island to the list of states that sponsor terrorism, which is pending an update. Although very similar, the consequences are more serious for this second case.

According to the State Department, the marketing or granting of export licenses for defense items and services with countries that are on the list of states that do not cooperate with terrorism is prohibited.

Meanwhile, in the case of terrorist sponsoring states, “people and countries that enter into commercial deals are penalized, US foreign assistance is limited, exports and sales in the defense area are prohibited and certain controls are established on exports of dual-use items.”

The Cuban government has been fighting for years to be removed  from these listings that hinder foreign trade, and its hopes were placed in the Joe Biden Administration. The Democrat, who at the beginning of his mandate hinted that he would study a change in policy towards the Island, not only followed the line of his predecessor, Donald Trump, but also issued new sanctions following the repression unleashed by the regime against the peaceful protests of July 11, 2021.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Regime Will Discuss ‘The Constitutional Design of the State’

The highlight of both meetings will be the discussion on the “development of the economy” and “the solution of problems” of high priority. (Twitter/Cuba Presidency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2023 — The two highest powers in Cuba will meet this Tuesday. While the Parliament will discuss for two days “the constitutional design of the State and elements of the Constitution,” the Communist Party began its Sixth Plenary of the Central Committee focused on economic aspects. Both meetings take place a few days after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Chernishenko, during his visit to Havana, suggested “some modifications” in the legislation before the country is completely incorporated into Moscow’s “roadmap.”

The call for the Plenary was only disseminated in the official media on Monday, something that has made Cubans suspicious about the importance of these meetings, which define everything from economic policies to cultural guidelines. The urgency of the date and the context of serious crisis that the Island is experiencing, together with Chernishenko’s statements, predict that important announcements will emanate from this event.

Chaired by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the plenary of the Party is attended as special guests by Deputy Prime Ministers Ramiro Valdés and Ricardo Cabrisas — head of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment — and the Minister of the Armed Forces, General Joaquín Quinta Solá, who will also assess the “compliance” with the Political and Economic Guidelines of the Government and evaluate the role of the National Assembly and the Party. It was not announced, however, whether Raúl Castro will be at any of the sessions.

As for the meetings of the National Assembly, the deputies will also discuss “the laws that regulate the functioning of the different structures of People’s Power,” while the Party will focus the conversation on the “assessments, criticisms and proposals” about the Cuban economy that they have received from 48,000 population centers throughout the Island. continue reading

The highlight, the official press points out, will be the discussion about the “development of the economy” and “the solution of economic problems (of) a high priority,” but little else has been said about this accountability.

The announcement of the meetings has been commented on by Cuban economist Pedro Monreal on Twitter. He asks Havana, first of all, for “data instead of a story” and suggests, before any analysis, to attend to the “verifiable situation” as presented in May 2023. He criticizes the Party plans to follow the dynamic of “counting ’fulfillments’” by passing them off as achievements, and asks the Party to “self-critically evaluate the results.”

In addition, he recalls the priorities, at least on paper, during the “update” of the Guidelines in 2021: solving the country’s structural problems and favoring the socialist state enterprise; promoting agricultural development; replacing imports with local production; an adequate flow of exports; boosting tourism; achieving financial balance and “improving consumption and the standard of living of the population.”

The plan crashes against reality point by point, since the official sources themselves confirm — this same month — that 480 state companies (24% of the total) closed the previous year with losses. The profit on the net sales of those same companies reached 17.2%, which represented a loss of 20.9 billion pesos. As a result, in 2023 the State will have to spend 52 billion on subsidies and another billion to make up for the losses.

As for structural problems, food and agriculture, it is evident, Monreal maintains, that the “food security crisis, instability and usual deficit of energy supply,” the “acute fuel crisis” and non-compliance with exports shatters the Government’s plan.

Regarding tourism, the level of expected visitors was not reached in 2022 either, and the forecast had to be rectified on several occasions. Not to mention, Monreal points out, the low rate of hotel occupancy, which also warns about the “absence of official data on the general level of foreign investment,” which the regime has stimulated with “fiscal and discriminatory investments with respect to national capital.”

As for the “consolidation” of the Ordering Task* — another of the great objectives of the Party during the last two years — Monreal details its “resounding failure,” since state workers are not “in better condition,” as the Government promised in 2021. In addition, the Government abandoned two essential features of the Task: monetary and exchange rate unification, leading to a “persistent macroeconomic imbalance with no solution in sight” and a growing dollarization of the economy.

Scientific and technological development also failed, a reality that eloquencely demonstrates the fact that the State has only invested 0.7% of its budget to boost the sector in 2021 and 2022.

And, finally, the failure is also evident in terms of social justice, improvements in consumption and elevation of the quality of life. “The absence of official data on levels of poverty and inequality fail to cover up the increase in those two dimensions of social exclusion,” says Monreal, in addition to pointing out that the purchasing power of Cuban families has been drastically reduced in recent years.

The economist demands from Parliament and the Communist Party a clear analysis of all these factors to assess whether 2023 will be a “better year” for Cuba. “Anything else would be dull propaganda or incompetence,” he summarizes.

*The Ordering Task is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency, which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Lack of Fuel Forces the U.S. Embassy To Rent Electric Cars From the Cuban Government

The U.S. Embassy has rented at least four electric vehicles manufactured by China. (Cubatrade)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 May 2023 — The U.S. Embassy in Havana has been forced to rent “numerous” electric cars, made in China, from the Cuban Government due to the fuel shortage on the Island, an anonymous State Department official confirmed to the Miami Herald. In a statement sent to the newspaper, the institution said that it will “continue to do so until the crisis subsides” and they can use their own vehicles.

Last April, the fuel crisis in Cuba worsened, attributed by the Government of Díaz-Canel to the non-compliance with the agreements of its main suppliers. Although several oil tankers have entered ports in recent weeks, the supply has not been sufficient to meet national demand, and several production lines remain out of service.

The U.S. official explained to the Miami Herald that they simply use the Chinese vehicles because “there are no electric cars made in the United States in Cuba available for rent.”

The U.S.-Cuba Economic and Commercial Council, based in New York, said that the diplomatic headquarters leases four cars and mentioned the tensions between Washington and Havana that prevent U.S. companies from sending vehicles to the Island. continue reading

The Council, led by businessman John Kavulich, said that in 2017 the Office of Industry and Safety (BIS) issued the first license to Premier Automotive Export (PAE), based in Maryland, to export an electric vehicle and a charger to the U.S. Embassy on the Island. However, in January 2022, the Undersecretary of State, Brian A. Nichols, rejected an offer from the company for a donation of four battery chargers to the diplomatic headquarters.

At the end of September 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued an authorization to Premier Automotive Export to export motorcycles and electric skateboards, which can be purchased by residents and private companies of the Island.

However, John Felder, director of the company, confirmed to the Miami Herald that they have not been able to export a single vehicle to private companies because the requirements of the Cuban government have delayed the process.

In its Cubatrade blog, the Council explains that the fees for sending an electric vehicle through a financial institution represent a “substantial percentage” of the price of the car, which also hinders export operations.

The ties of cooperation between Havana and Beijing are increasingly close, as are those with Russia. Chinese companies have had preferential treatment from Havana to ensure their incursion into the Cuban market and enjoyed the use of facilities to install the automobile assembly plant in 2019 by the Tianjin Dongxing Industrial and Commercial Group, in partnership with the Cuban state company Minerva.

The official press published last January that since opening the joint venture, called Electric Vehicles of the Caribbean (Vedca),  located 15 kilometers from the center of Havana, it has manufactured 2,500 motorcycles, 1,500 tricycles and 1,000 children’s cars, whose sales exceed six million dollars. Cubadebate explained at that time that the Chinese part represents 58% of the investment with the contribution of technology and equipment, while the Cuban counterpart offers the installation and remodeling.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Every Day Two Cubans Die and 19 Are Injured in Traffic Crashes

The main causes of crashes are incursions into the opposite lane and distraction. (Majaguabo Radio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 May 2023 — The more than 3,000 traffic accidents registered in Cuba between January and April of this year caused the deaths of 243 Cubans and left 2,300 injured, confirmed the National Road Safety Commission.

According to the data released this Wednesday by the Cuban News Agency (ACN) , Sunday is the deadliest day of the week in terms of those killed by crashes, followed by Thursday and Friday and the time period of noon to 6:00 PM is the most prone to the occurrence of these crashes.

On average, two Cubans died every day and 19 were injured in a traffic crash in the first four months of 2023.

These figures are given in the midst of a severe fuel crisis that has paralyzed a large part of public and private transport. The plummeting supply of hydrocarbons has significantly reduced the circulation of vehicles on the streets and highways of the Island and forced drivers to spend long hours, or days, in line at service stations.

Crashes due to the terrible conditions of the streets, with potholes or cracks, are becoming more frequent, but the road authorities assure that this cause affects only 7.2% of the crashes reported in the first four months of the year and “they did not constitute their origin,” justified the ACN in its note. On the other hand, 92.8% of the crashes occurred due to the collision of moving vehicles, the report says. continue reading

The authorities attribute the main causes of the crashes to incursions into the opposite lane and the lack of attention in driving. Mechanical damage, speeding and driving the vehicle under the influence of alcoholic beverages are also causes.

The Commission held drivers and pedestrians responsible for “being the authors” of 89% of the crashes and 94% of the deaths. The ages of the fatalities range from 31 to 55 years, and the majority of cases correspond to the provinces of Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguín and Matanzas.

At the end of last year, 700 people died in the 9,848 vehicle crashes registered on the Island, which represented an increase of 18% compared to those killed in 2021, while the number of crashes increased by 17%.

In 2022, crashes left 7,547 injured, 28% more than the previous year, and 22% of deaths correspond to pedestrians being run over, the Police Traffic Division reported to the official press.

One of the most serious crashes this year occurred at the beginning of May in San Antonio del Sur, Guantanamo, in which four people lost their lives, including the parents of twin babies just 10 months old. One of the girls escaped unharmed while her sister, Aimara Rodríguez Heredia, was seriously injured and had to undergo surgery. This week, the official press reported that the minor is in recovery and that she was transferred to intermediate care.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Tears of the Horse Before It Dies of Exhaustion on a Street in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

The death of the horse forced all the passengers to leave the traditional vehicle, which had the name “Abyss of Passion” painted on one side. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spiritus, 25 May “”The coachman was whipping him to keep him going even though the cart was loaded with passengers,” says Yosvani, a young man from Sancti Spíritus who on Thursday afternoon witnessed the death of a horse that was pulling a carriage in the Jesús María area. “He was very strong but he couldn’t take it anymore and he fell down, I even saw a tear come out of his eye when he was already on the ground.”

The lack of fuel, which has affected the island for months, is forcing Cubans to resort more to other means of transportation. “Here we have always moved in horse-drawn carriages, but now it is no longer a choice, but the only possibility,” admits an old man, who witnessed the collapse of the animal and his death. “What these animals are experiencing has no name.”

The death of the horse forced all the passengers to leave the traditional vehicle, which had the name “Abyss of Passion” painted on one side. They all walked away looking for other transportation to reach their destinations. Only the coachman, his assistant and the immobile body of the animal on the pavement remained there.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

Contraceptive Implants, the ‘Ideal Product’ To Prevent Teenage Pregnancies in Cuba

Cuba is facing an upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies due to the shortage of contraceptives. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 May 2023 — In the midst of a shortage of condoms and an upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases, the Health authorities in Santiago de Cuba announced a campaign for adolescents to get contraceptive implants.

As published this Sunday by the provincial newspaper Sierra Maestra, the suggestion seeks to “benefit sexually active girls” with an “ideal product” to reduce the incidence of early pregnancy. The head of the Family Planning Program of Santiago de Cuba, Estrella Soler Alonso, explained that the implant is “very safe and effective,” unlike other contraceptive methods, such as the pill, which require a frequency to be effective.

Both this “subdermal hormonal” implant (under the skin) and the intrauterine device (IUD) are methods widely used in Latin America to prevent pregnancy and are affordable for most low-income women; however, they do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases. Among their benefits are that they are long-lasting and do not generate hormonal changes like the pills.

Soler Alonso explained that the implant contains a hormone derived from progesterone, effective in preventing ovulation, that makes the cervical mucus thicker, thereby preventing sperm from entering the uterus for fertilization. This device, the size of a match, has a useful life inside a woman’s body for five years, she added. continue reading

The official note does not explain where the devices come from, but since they are not national technology, it is likely that they are imported or are part of a donation.

Medical personnel of the Maternal and Child Care Program of the province will visit schools and communities to “dialogue” about the “good qualities of the contraceptive method” and, subsequently, with the consent of the adolescents and their legal guardians, place the implant.

The specialist pointed out that they will identify adolescents who are part of a reproductive risk group, due to the insufficient maturity of their reproductive systems. They will have complications during pregnancy or childbirth, in addition to the “unfavorable psychological and social consequences that pregnancy can bring at this stage.”

Women in vulnerable situations who for health reasons cannot use another contraceptive will also be included in the campaigns, the specialist added. In addition to the campuses in the communities, adolescents can receive the implant in the Armando García, Ramón López Peña and Josué País García polyclinics.

The doctor said that 150 mg medroxyprogesterone, an injectable drug that prevents pregnancies for three months, is available in the offices, but only with a prescription issued by the Family Planning unit. However, Aminor, a synthetic oral progestin contraceptive for patients who have estrogen intolerance, is sold without a prescription in pharmacies.

Cuba has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a fertility rate of 51.10 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization. Last January, the Government recognized the failure of its programs to contain this public health problem, due to the lack of contraceptive methods and sex education.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

After Uniforms and Balls, Cuban Baseball Is Left Without Bats

The Special Baseball Series began in March and ends on June 3. (PL)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 May 2023 — In addition to the desertions of athletes, the players who still remain in the National Baseball Series (SNB) must juggle in each game without the necessary elements. The last episode of shame in the SNB occurred this Tuesday, when, in the match of the Elefantes de Cienfuegos against the Gallos de Sancti Spíritus, the players ran out of bats just a few minutes after the challenge had begun.

What happened was broadcast by Tele Rebelde and led the provincial newspaper 5 de Septiembre to dedicate a long text this Wednesday to the difficulties faced by the main “sports spectacle” of the Island.

The newspaper recognizes the debacle of baseball, considered the national sport and the “greatest priority” of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Despite the fact that “baseball is always defended by tooth and nail,” the official media rules out the success of the 62nd edition of the SNB, in which 16 teams participate, due to the “difficult economic conditions” that the country is going through.

5 de Septembre points out that the “incredible incident” that occurred at the José Antonio Huelga stadium, in Sancti Spíritus, highlighted the situation that other teams in the league could face. According to the report, the Cienfuegos selection warned in advance about the lack of equipment, but there was no response. continue reading

Athletes also face a shortage of balls. The National Commission reported on May 18 that the Series will continue its training with the national balls, of the Batos brand, due to a delay in the shipment of the official TeamMate balls, an Italian company based in the Republic of San Marino, which since 2022 has been a sponsor of the tournament.

The newspaper says that TeamMate last year forced a postponement in the start of the Elite League due to a delay in the delivery of uniforms, and that they even arrived on the Island with spelling errors. The balls provided by the company, the report adds, are manufactured in “distant China.”

The official newspaper says that if TeamMate had fulfilled the terms of the contract, the ball would have been “more lively” and would not have “enlarged” the bad performance. As a result, “it is not surprising that during the most recent subseries the pitchers have been submersed [sic], the bats depleted and the scoreboards exhibiting multiple poor results and anemic offensives.”

To the litany of complaints, says 5 de Septembre, is added the extra charges of the National Commission for the purchase of lost balls in the stadiums, which until last May 17 totaled 4,207. The most serious cases are the matches that have taken place in the stadiums of Guantánamo, Villa Clara, Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Havana, where between 17 and 20 balls are lost in each game.

Another “mistake” of the National Series is the continuous complaint of athletes about the lack of food or the poor quality of food during the games, as well as the low salaries. There is also “the constant exodus of players, by contracts in other leagues or by personal decisions, which turns the directors into true magicians,” the newspaper says.

With the Central American and Pan American Games just around the corner, to be held in June in El Salvador, the official press warns that Cuba is “unlikely” to have good results when athletes “are literally torn to shreds on the ground.”

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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

Three Other Cuban Hockey Players Escape, This Time in Chile

The Cuban team faced Manquehue in their debut in the Rudi Westendarp Cup in Chile. (Jit)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 24, 2023 — The Cuban regime still had not digested the escape in Spain of the members of the field hockey team, Yadira Miclín Galbán, Marianela López and Daylin Suárez Pérez, when journalist Francys Romero revealed on Tuesday the escape of three other athletes of the same specialty. “Lázaro Tolón, Yuri Brown and Yordanqui Méndez left “a training camp in Chile,” he reported on his social networks.

Up until then, the official media Jit, which was closely following the athletes led by Hilario Yera, had not reported any desertion. The president of the hockey federation, Alex Hernández, focused his comments on the seven games scheduled in Chile and on the level of preparation they will have for the Central American and Caribbean Games of San Salvador 2023.

Francys Romero specified that the first abandonment was that of goalkeeper Lázaro Tolón. On “the second day of stay” in Chile he separated from the group that planned to participate in the camp from May 16 to 27. From this schedule, he inferred that the native of Sancti Spíritus was no longer part of the squad that debuted on May 19 with a victory of 4-3 over Manquehue in the Rudi Westendarp cup.

The day after Toulon’s escape, the absence of defender Yuri Brown was reported. The athlete from Havana did not show up for the roll call held by those responsible for the entourage. continue reading

While officialdom highlighted last Sunday the beating that Cuba gave by 11-0 to the Manquehue club team and the feat of the team getting, undefeated, the Rudi Westendarp cup, Yordanqui Méndez starred in the team’s third flight. With the escape from the native of Las Runas, there are already 15 dropouts of Cuban athletes this year.

On May 27, the Cuban team concludes its stay in Chile to continue its trip to Argentina where it will play three matches with host teams before returning to Havana.

The chain of escapes occurs while the Island faces a serious economic crisis, manifested by the lack of fuel, continuous blackouts and food shortages. Before those six hockey, rowers Maykol Julio Álvarez, Yoelvis Javier Hernández and Osvaldo Pérez escaped in the last week of April.

Álvarez deserted in Chile after winning with Carlos Ajete, Yoelvis Hernández and Reidy Cardona the silver medal in the four pair category and thus guaranteeing his ticket in the Pan American Games that will be held from October 20 to November 5.  Hernández, a native of Sancti Spíritus, and Cardona, from Cienfuegos, took advantage of the stopover in Mexico to escape.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

At the Antonio Maceo Hockey School in Havana ‘There is a Lot of Hunger’

From left to right, Yadira Miclín Galban, Marianela López and Daylin Suárez, the three hockey players who escaped to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2023 — On May 6, the plane where Cuban hockey players Daylin Suárez, Yadira Miclín Galban and Marianela López were traveling left Barcelona and landed on the island of Gran Canaria. Taking advantage of a “shopping” outing, the three athletes had managed to escape from their delegation, having received training in Spain from May 3 to 13 to attend the Central American Games in San Salvador, and they bought tickets to travel to the Canary Islands.

“Nothing was planned before, everything was improvised,” says Daylin Suárez from the city of Las Palmas, where she now lives with her two companions. “But I didn’t think twice. I thought about my future and my family, and I left everything behind for something better,” she says.

However, the trajectory has not been without difficulties. After applying for political asylum in Spain, she will not be able to meet with the immigration authorities until February 2024. In the meantime, she is taking the first steps towards her new life.

“I see a future in this country as an athlete, but we need to get our papers and start opening pathways,” acknowledges Suárez, who together with Miclín and López was received for a few days by a friend in Gran Canarias and now subsists thanks to the help of the Catholic Church and the Red Cross.

“We are together but working. We slept in the church that welcomed us and are moving forward,” she adds. continue reading

Getting to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was a challenge, explains the hockey player to this newspaper. The delegation arrived in Barcelona on May 4 and immediately had their official passports withdrawn — with the visa to be legally in Spain — delivered by INDER (National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation). “We had the ordinary passports hidden, but that one didn’t have a visa,” says Suárez.

The day that they arrived they bought sports shoes to start training: “They were the cheapest there were,” says the hockey player, who shows 14ymedio the deteriorated pair of shoes she used to play in Cuba.

Miclín, López and Suárez managed to buy the plane tickets and risked going to the Barcelona airport without a visa. They were lucky. As it was a flight within the Spanish territory itself, they were not strict with their documents, so they were able to reach their destination without difficulty.

“The situation at the Antonio Maceo Grass Hockey School in Havana is very sad. There is a lot of hunger,” she recalls. “We train in terrible conditions, without sports equipment, because the country says that it does not have the resources to take care of  athletes. We almost always were hungry, because there was no bread for breakfast. We did three training sessions on an empty stomach.”

The three hockey players know that they will not return to Cuba for a long time, although they have not received any notification from INDER. But their position is clear: “We do not agree with that system and even less with how high-performance athletes are treated in Cuba.”

Suárez and her teammates join the more than 75 Cuban athletes who have left their delegations between 2022 and 2023, according to journalist Francys Romero, who does not include in the number those who have left the country after asking for leave, retiring or leaving the Island by legal means.

On April 12, the Cuban News Agency (ACN) expressed itself in laudatory terms about Cuban hockey players of both sexes, whose delegations trained to “maintain regional supremacy” in the San Salvador games.

That’s why there’s a “great motivation” for the trip to Barcelona, the person in charge of pre-selecting the athletes, Mileysi Argentei, told ACN. At the Barcelona training base, Yadira Miclín and Dailyn Suárez were scheduled to play as defenders, while Marianela López would serve as a forward.

After the Cuban defeat in Miami during the controversial World Baseball Classic, the catcher Iván Prieto also escaped from his hotel and stayed in the United States. The stampede of Cuban athletes became a headache for the regime, which in July 2022 — after the escape of several Cubans in the Athletics World Cup, also in the United States — dismissed Yipsi Moreno, the national commissioner, from his position.

Moreno, one of the unconditional supporters of the regime, was also removed from the Council of State, the body that is responsible for choosing the Government and approving the laws proposed by Parliament. Upon leaving the athletics commission, INDER issued a brief statement: his dismissal, they said, responded to the “personal will” of the former athlete.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Doctors Announce a Gallbladder Surgery in a Hospital in Mexico Where Nurses Are Lacking

Cuban specialists performing an extraction of a gallbladder at the Hospital of Xpujil (Campeche). (Twitter/@ConsulCuMerida)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 23 May 2023 — The Government of Mexico updated the number of Cuban specialists who are working in hospitals. According to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, there are 700 health workers who “provide their services for the benefit of the Mexican people,” but he did not offer details about the remote areas in which they are located.

López Obrador proclaimed on Tuesday the strengthening of his Health Plan for Welfare implemented in 2022 with doctors from the Island and the improvement of hospital infrastructure. “An investment in the Health Plan of 389,471,652 dollars destined for the conservation, maintenance and equipment in units (hospitals) of first and second level of care in 14 states of the country,” said the general director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), Zoé Robledo.

Since February, several groups of health workers from the Island have arrived in Mexico as part of the extension of the agreement with the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos to select another group of 610 people. On May 12, 129 doctors were received by diplomatic authorities.

The Consulate General of Cuba in Mérida (Yucatán) highlighted on its social networks the extraction of a gallbladder carried out on May 20 by Cuban doctors. This is the first surgery of this type in 15 years performed at the Hospital of Xpujil (Campeche). López Obrador affirms that with his health plan “it will be possible to have the necessary doctors 24 hours a day,” but the facts contradict the president’s version. continue reading

In September of last year a group of Cuban specialists was received by the governor of Campeche, Layda Sansores. (Facebook/Juan Manuel Herrera Real)

In that same hospital, meanwhile, since last May 10, a patient has been waiting for a date for a gallbladder surgery. His wife, who gave the name of Ana, tells 14ymedio that he was admitted to the emergency room that day and a few hours later was discharged. “At midnight he got sick again and they took care of him again.” In the morning he asked to be scheduled for surgery, but he was told that “there were many appointments and a surgeon was on vacation.”

In addition, this hospital lacks a laboratory for sampling and for performing ultrasounds. “We have done all that on the outside,” he says. She confirmed that her husband has been treated by Cubans, but she doesn’t know if they are going to operate on him. “The only thing they have told me is that there are no specialized nurses now.”

Last February, the arrival of the first 610 doctors on the Island concluded. The initial agreement is that these doctors would be sent to remote areas, so most Cuban health workers would have as a work base “the Montaña de Guerrero,” one of the most violent points in the country. As of April 26, 43 specialists had arrived in this state, whose main mission was to form “mental health caravans” in the region.

This newspaper obtained information about the lodging, the “a la carte dinners” and the free transportation enjoyed by several of these specialists in the central states of the country, as well as the claims about the lack of capability and professional cards to practice.

In Morelos, the leader of the union of the state Ministry of Health, Gil Magadán Salazar, told 14ymedio that a Cuban anesthesiologist did not even “know how to put in a block.” In addition, the Imss-Bienestar, a program of the Mexican Government in charge of offering health services, sent geriatricians and psychiatrists without having their professional certificate and not the cardiologists, gastroenterologists and pediatricians they require.

There is also discomfort among the doctors and nurses of the IMSS-Bienestar because the Cubans are paid more. According to Fabián Infante Valdez, leader of the National Union of Mexican Nursing, when the reform that took away the Institute of Health for Welfare and passed to the IMSS-Wellness, as a decentralized body, was approved, salaries were reduced by up to 50%.

According to him, where three categories for nurses are established by zone, those classified as type “B” went from earning 620 dollars to 290 per month. The assistants received $657 and now $308. To the graduates, if they earn 931 dollars, they are given $372.

General practitioners received 1,224 dollars a month, now $491, and specialists who received 1,487 dollars now get $647. On the other hand, according to the agreement with the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos, Mexico disburses to Havana for each specialist 2,042 dollars per month and $1,722 for each general practitioner.

The export of medical services continues to be the first source of income for the Island, which on Monday celebrated 60 years of medical collaboration, a practice denounced by international organizations for being a method of “modern slavery.” According to Cuba’s ambassador to Mexico, Marcos Rodríguez Costa, there are 22,000 health collaborators on an internationalist missions in 58 countries.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.

A Breakdown in the Puerto Escondido Plant Leaves Havana Without a Gas Supply

Lanta de Energas in Puerto Escondido. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 May 2023 —  Night arrived this Sunday without many Havanans having a gas supply twelve hours after the breakdown announced by the Cuba-Petróleo Union (Cupet). The company issued a statement of a few lines reporting a failure at 12:10 in the switch of the compressor system of the Puerto Escondido plant, in Mayabeque, which supplies the gas to Havana. The plant belongs to Energas, a joint venture managed by the Canadian company Sherritt and the Cuban state company Cupet.

“Only 40% of power will be received in the plants that produce manufactured gas, so if not solved in the early hours of the morning there could be a partial or total shutdown in the service to customers,” the note added.

The breakdown also affected the generation of electricity at the Boca de Jaruco Power Plant, causing a deficit of 200 MW, to which was added another breakdown in block 6 of the Máximo Gómez Báez de Mariel Thermoelectric Plant, which stopped providing 95 MW, so more blackouts were expected during peak hours.

Those affected soon complained through social networks after not being able to cook all day.

“It’s morning and NOTHING works,” a Cubadebate reader wrote on Facebook. “We have endured the repetition, to the point of exhaustion, of effort on top of effort, the visits of such and such a well-dressed official and his meetings with the Temporary Working Group and its analyses and strategies. And again more efforts and ’creative resistance’.” continue reading

Most of the reactions accounted for the exhaustion of the population, tired of not having fuel, electricity and, now, not even gas. “Sell the country or we’re going to die,” wrote another user.

Part of the gas treated in the Boca de Jaruco and Puerto Escondido plants is sent to Havana for about 280,000 families, according to Edel Andrés Alfaro Pérez, the recent economic manager of Energas.

At the beginning of this year, a rupture of the duct caused a leak and left part of the Cuban capital without service. The neighbors of Puerto Escondido complained to 14ymedio this March about their situation because of Energas. The leaks are constant and the pollution is visible even in the vegetation. The town is not the same.

“Until a few years ago one said the name of this town and what came to mind was natural beauty, sea and fun, but Cupet has taken part of that from us. The oil stench in the air is constant,” said Dayamí, a resident, using a fictitious name.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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 Opponent Sandalio Mejias Gets Out of Prison and Breaks Down in Tears Talking About the Mistreatment

Sandalio Mejías Zulueta was released from prison on probation for one year. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 May 20, 2023 — “I am a warrior,” the opponent Sandalio Mejías Zulueta, a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) said with difficulty, after being released on probation from prison on May 14. In a short video published by the organization, the activist almost bursts into tears relating the torture to which he was subjected by his jailers during the three years he was detained.

Mejías, also a promoter of the Cuba Decide citizen movement, left the prison with a notable deterioration in his health and a speech disorder. The opposition leader denounced that in prison he suffered an ischemia (decreased blood supply) in his arm and right leg, but the Cuban regime denied him medicine to treat his ailments.

The Government granted him probation for one year, he said. Despite his difficulties in expressing himself, the activist said that the “freedom of Cuba has to come, whether they want it or not.”

The Ministry of the Interior arrested the activist on January 13, 2020 in a park in Old Havana. Seven days later, he was sentenced to one year in prison in a summary trial for a common crime. Four months later, he was released on parole, but the measure was revoked and he had to remain in prison. continue reading

Before his imprisonment, Mejía had been the victim of harassment by the authorities on several occasions. In September 2019, he was arrested to prevent his participation in a peaceful march, and in October of that year he was also arrested during a demonstration in favor of political prisoners.

In a publication on May 16, the Complaint Center of the Foundation for Pan American Democracy (FDP) reported that, according to a March 2021 report, the activist did not receive medical attention after suffering facial paralysis while in prison.

The Foundation urged the Government to stop the mistreatment of the activist, as well as the rest of the Cuban political prisoners, and said that the deprivation of medical care is a “blatant violation” of his human rights.

“We call on the international community, human rights defenders and relevant organizations to join us in this urgent call and take concrete measures to guarantee the freedom and well-being of Sandalio Mejías Zulueta, and of all those who suffer repression in Cuba,” they said.

Mejías is one of the hundreds of political prisoners of the regime, along with other dissidents such as José Daniel Ferrer, leader of UNPACU, whom the authorities have beaten, tortured and locked naked in a dungeon in the prison where he is held prisoner, according to complaints from his relatives.

Amnesty International denounced this week that there are still 768 political prisoners in the Island’s prisons, of the 1,812 people who were arrested for demonstrating against the Government after the massive protests of July 11, 2021. This figure exceeds 1,000 by adding the dozens of detainees in last year’s protests.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.