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The in-progress redesign of 14ymedio has affected the “automatic” elements of our system for picking up articles and posting them on HemosOido.com for our volunteers to translate, and then here for you to read.  We anticipate everything will be working again very soon, and we will once again have much more news here for you to enjoy.  Thank you for visiting and please keep checking back.  == Translating Cuba ==

Large Crowd Attends Dockworkers’ Funeral in Santiago de Cuba

People accompanied the hearse on the way to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery / Screen capture

The procession was led by several motorized police officers and a patrol car
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2024 — Between the sounds of sobs and conga, a crowd accompanied the funeral procession on Thursday afternoon of the three dockworkers who died on Wednesday in the cargo port of Santiago de Cuba, after inhaling toxic gases: Raicol Calzado Kindelán, Yosbani Paaterson Duany and Roibel Bejerano Hernández. The young men were buried in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, one of the best known on the Island and the largest in the East.

In the absence of information from the official press, the information about the funeral has been offered by an independent journalist living in Washington, Yosmany Mayeta. A video shared by the reporter shows a massive walk along Martí Avenue, on the way to Patria Avenue, where one of the entrances to Santa Ifigenia is located, as the journalist explained.

Port staff were also allowed to attend the procession

The hearses were led by several motorized police officers and a patrol car. According to Mayeta, port staff were also allowed to attend the procession.

“Some family members have written to me because they do not feel ‘convinced’ after hearing the explanation offered by the Party and the port authorities,” the reporter said in a post on his social networks, and affirmed that he will interview port workers, as well as relatives of the three dockworkers. continue reading

As reported yesterday by the General Director of the Eastern Port Services Company, José Antonio Olivarez Díaz, during the process of unloading rice from a ship, the deceased entered a sealed and fumigated warehouse, not intended for unloading, where they inhaled a “ toxic gas.” Both the first aid teams and their colleagues tried to help them to no avail, the official press stated. Their bodies were then transferred to the Doctor Joaquín Castillo Duany military hospital.

Both the first aid teams and their colleagues tried to help them to no avail.

Mayeta also provided more information about the young people on his social networks. In the case of Calzado Kindelán, he had two children, one of whom lived with him and his wife. The young man, age 29, lived in the José Martí District.

Yosbani Patterson Duany, age 28, lived in Reparto Los Olmos, near Parque Los Muñequitos. No further details are known about Rudi Bejerano Hernández – a resident of the El Castillito neighborhood.

This Wednesday, the official newspaper Sierra Maestra announced a huge operational deployment for the arrival at several ports on the Island of a “large ship with 30,000 tons of rice,” whose destination was 12 warehouses spread across different provinces.

The cargo ship first arrived in Havana, where it unloaded part of the contents, and later headed to Nuevitas, in Camagüey, to leave 11,000 tons of rice. Her next move was to Santiago de Cuba, where the plan was to deliver 10,000 tons for the province and its neighbor Guantánamo.

This morning, the Asela , with the Panamanian flag, is the only cargo ship that appears docked in the port of Santiago, so it is potentially this ship that the deceased dockworkers were going to unload.

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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 “Young Man with the Placard” Receives His First Pass After More Than Three Years in a Cuban Prison

Luis Robles Elizástigui (2nd from left) being received by his family members this Friday (Photo: Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2024 — Luis Robles, the “young man with the placard,” received, on Friday, his first pass since he was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2020 for requesting the release of rapper Denis Solís.

His mother, Yindra Elizastigui, published a photograph of Robles, shaved and dressed in civilian clothes, during the reunion with his family in Havana.

“My black man at home on his first pass,” Elizastigui wrote on Facebook, the platform on which she has constantly denounced the regime’s abuses against her son. “Today is one of those days like when I was a child and they gave me a new toy,” the woman celebrated, also surrounded by several family members.

At the end of January, Robles obtained relief from his prison conditions and was transferred on February 7 from the Combinado del Este maximum security prison, in Havana, to a less severe regime in the area known as “El 18,” from Prison 1580, according to Landy Fernández Elizastigui, Robles’ brother,  speaking to Cubanet. continue reading

Fernández also explained that the family hoped that the passes would continue and that “Luis’s complete release will soon be, since he has been unjustly in prison during these three years, two months and some days.”

The former nurse and former political prisoner Pedro Ariel García, resident in Havana, also commented on Robles’ brief pass from prison in a direct broadcast. “I wish you a good three days,” he said. “I hope that you achieve the main objective, which is freedom, yours and that of all the political prisoners in Cuba. Thank you for standing firm. Only you and I are witnesses of the things we went through there, in the Combinado del Este.”

“I hope that you achieve the main objective, which is freedom, yours and that of all the political prisoners in Cuba”

At the end of January, when the family hoped for better conditions for the young man, his mother said: “I hope they approve his transfer, because Luis is in there for them, who purposely imprisoned him. What he [Robles] did is his right, which is in the Constitution. His imprisonment is unjust,” she said.

Elizastigui also hoped that her son’s process would progress at a good pace until he was granted conditional release. “We must take into account his health (…), which has worsened due to the injustices that have been committed,” she said then.

“He has had good behavior,” she added, “and this has been reported to me by the prison authorities themselves and by Gerardo, the Security agent who is seeing to his case. So let’s hope that [the measure] is complied with.”

Luis Robles, 30, has suffered several health problems since entering prison, which have been reported by his mother, in addition to abuse, and ophthalmological and gastric complications. He has also been denied appropriate medical assistance.

Luis Robles Elizastigui was arrested on December 4, 2020 for protesting with a cardboard sign on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana.(Screen Capture)

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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.

“Requesting Voter Certification Is Not Playing Into the Hands of the Cuban Dictatorship”

Manuel Cuesta Morúa / EFE

Manuel Cuesta Morúa talks to 14ymedio’s Reinaldo Escobar about Parliament’s rejection of an amnesty law for political prisoners

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Manual Cuesta Morúa/Reinaldo Escobar,  Havana, 21 February 2024 — The Cuban Parliament recently rejected a request to process an amnesty law promoted by dozens of relatives of political prisoners. From that request, which the National Assembly classified as “inadmissible,” a broad debate was generated about the relevance or not of appealing to the Cuban regime’s own laws to promote change on the Island.

Manuel Cuesta Morúa talks about this with this newspaper. The opinion of this veteran dissident, based on the Island, addresses several of those aspects that we share with our readers.

Reinaldo Escobar/14ymedio: To legitimize or not to legitimize? Can you live under an authoritarian regime and refuse to accept all its official regulations and protocols?

Manuel Cuesta Morúa: It might seem cynical to say that the process of legitimizing dictatorships begins with the acceptance of the institutions that manage our existential or social condition. The misnamed “supply book” [ration book], the identity card and the passport are among those institutions through which the dictatorship regulates, controls and limits us, but which we accept. And not because we want to, but for two reasons: dictatorships are possible only if they institutionalize all social life. They are also obliged to incorporate language and certain democratic tools.

The misnamed “supply book” [ration book], the identity card and the passport are among those institutions through which the dictatorship regulates us.

RE/14ymedio. Why do they have that obligation?

MCM. Otherwise they have a serious problem of both internal and external legitimation. They have to appear to themselves and to others. For this reason, the legal and constitutional spaces that are left to the population so that they can become citizens are only conditions, almost inevitable obligations that dictatorships impose on themselves in order to be able to cross with a certain impunity the field and the game of appearances.

RE/14ymedio. So is it like a game of mirrors?

MCM. Exactly. They are not conditions that they impose on us, but rather institutional realities that they have no choice but to assume if they want to be accepted in some way. The dictatorship imposes some things on us by law, such as Article 5 of the Constitution, and others, the majority, outside continue reading

or manipulating the law.

RE/14ymedio. An example of some of those conditions within the law?

MCM. The requirement to have a voter certification to file a petition before the National Assembly, which may be similar to any other citizen authentication requirement in any genuine democracy. However, in the case of Cuba, this is an excessive barrier. However, it can be skipped if we impose on ourselves the exercise of strong citizenship.

RE/14ymedio. So do you recommend requesting voter certification?

MCM. Yes, I believe that applying for it is a step in our becoming civic citizens. We would not be playing into the hands of the dictatorship, which is not interested in appearance becoming reality, but in ourselves. They don’t even disseminate these legal paths.

RE/14ymedio. Do you think that the regime itself hides the existence of these channels?

MCM. Exactly. Does the Government speak on any radio or television program about laws such as 131, which includes the possibilities of civic responsibility? Do they systematically print the Constitution to distribute it — not sell it — in workplaces or schools?

RE/14ymedio. But wouldn’t using those paths be “playing into the hands” of the regime?

MCM. Judging by the responses to the Varela Project or the proposal for independent candidates in the elections for local People’s Power delegates, the Government did not believe, not even remotely, that it would play into its hands. The test of authenticity of civic alternatives lies in their ability to legitimize themselves, both within their own rules and within the conventional rules of society and the State. The real problem with dictatorships is that they always feel constrained when it comes to the rules of the game.

RE/14ymedio. You are among the promoters of a project that recommends using these paths. At what point is that project right now?

MCM. The process began in 2022 with the help of the Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba and the D Frente platformJulio Ferrer, an independent lawyer, warned us that in March 2020 Law 131 had come into force, which regulates how signatures must be collected for any citizen initiative. A person has to start by going to the National Electoral Council to request certification of their voter status.

As cumbersome as it may seem and be, this is a step forward compared to the time of the Varela Project, when, once the first 11,000 signatures were delivered, the Government demanded the requirement that each signature had to be authenticated before a notary.

Before each incursion of ours, they raised the fence of the requirements to make our civic exercise more difficult.

RE/14ymedio. And have these certifications been achieved?

MCM. Obtaining them has been an odyssey. We start by going to the Municipal Electoral Councils. In some, after consulting with their superiors, they accepted our request and signed a copy as acknowledgment of receipt, others did not. It was all very irregular and that is why we went to the National Electoral Council, first to Ferrer to insist and finally obtain the first voter certification delivered in Cuba. Later, I investigated why the rest of the requests made in different provinces had not been processed.

RE/14ymedio. What did they answer?

MCM. A legal advisor told us that the processing had to be done in each Provincial Electoral Council. That’s what we set out to do, only to find out that it wasn’t at that level either. Before each of our incursions, they raised the hurdle of requirements to make civic exercise more difficult for us. So far, eight voters have received their certification among a dozen applications.

RE/14ymedio. Between criticism from your own side and bureaucratic obstacles from the other, the result seems quite uncertain?

MCM. Our determination is to continue jumping hurdles. From law to law, and from below, that is still the best path.

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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 Search of ‘Feito’ and Cabezon, the Founders of Cuba’s Most Famous Hardware Store

The hardware store is located on the corner of Reina and Lealtad, in Centro Habana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 February 2024 — No one calls the hardware store on the corner of Reina and Lealtad in Centro Habana by its official name: La Cubana. For all those who know the business, which was in its time the most important of its kind in Cuba, the place is called Feíto y Cabezón. The surnames of its founders, with some slight colloquial variations, transcended the nationalization, the plummet of the store’s offerings and even its reconversion to the current sales in freely convertible currency.

The documentary Cabezones, directed by the writer Luis Enrique Valdés Duarte, resident in Spain, and the actor Alberto Maceo, who lives in Germany, approaches the story of Nicolás Cabezón, a Spanish migrant who arrived on the Island with nothing but the clothes on his back and ended up creating the most famous hardware store in Havana. On February 24, the documentary will premiere at the Zorrilla Theater in Valladolid, Spain, and its filmmakers have responded to questions from 14ymedio. Both the words and the images captured in the short film speak of travel, entrepreneurship, dreams and absurdities, but also of stubborn, extremely “headstrong” people.

Nicolás Cabezón, in the center wearing glasses, along with his wife, Nena, and his two children, Mari and Pepito on his farm in Havana. (Courtesy)

Question. Screws, washers and nuts. Isn’t this documentary a little far from the topics that both of you have dealt with previously, closer to art, literature and theater?

Answer. In reality, it’s a documentary about memory, emigration, the effort involved in leaving your land and raising your head in another, about injustices and freedom. They are topics that interest us a lot and can be discussed, because they take place among the screws, washers and nuts, as well as between grooves and curtains or on the docks of a shipyard. It is true that we seem to have moved away from our destiny, but we have not betrayed it: this is a documentary about the emotions awakened by all the topics mentioned. continue reading

Q. Where did you begin to unravel the theads of this story? From entrepreneurship to emigration, or did it begin with suitcases and continue towards the business world?

A. Curiously, the reason was in the name of that hardware store. Every time we passed by there we asked ourselves the same thing: why is it called Feíto and Cabezón if it is on Reina and Lealtad?, assuming that perhaps it came from the name of its corner, as was the case with so many Havana businesses. We had a theory that perhaps the hardware owner had those physical characteristics (cabezón means a “big head”) and didn’t mind being called that affectionately. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Several of the descendants of Nicolás Cabezón were interviewed for the documentary. (14ymedio)

One day, now living in Urueña (Valledoid Province) we looked it up on the internet; it wasn’t easy to find something, but we did, and we were surprised: the founder of that store, whose last name was Cabezón, had been born in the next town, which you could even walk to. He had gone to Cuba in the hard years of the Spanish post-war as a poor child. There was a story to tell. There are only three or four inhabitants left in the town, but we managed to locate the descendants of Don Nicolás Cabezón, now older. What they told us, based on their faithful memories, gave substance to the film. They started with the suitcase, yes. And it was all very hard!

Q. Despite the years, the confiscation, the nationalization and the changes, people continue to call the hardware store on Reina Street “Feíto and Cabezón”. Why this popular persistence? Sound of the name or quality of the work they carried out?

A. We believe it’s both. It is striking how many places in Havana have preserved their original name. Reina Street itself is never called by its current name. The same thing happens with certain products and equipment: they have continued to be called after their most prominent and popular brands when they were in Cuba. Anyway, we know that what they built there was an empire through work.

This is what the hardware store currently looks like inside. No one calls by its official name: La Cubana. (14ymedio)

The hardware store became a reference for Havana society. If you couldn’t find something in Feíto and Cabezón, it didn’t exist. The reason is everything: indeed, the name is sonorous and even funny to say. Note that the surname “Feito” doesn’t have an accent on the “i”. It comes from northern Spain and means “done,” but since “Feito” was followed by “Cabezón”, Cubans added that funny accent and have resisted calling the hardware store by its current name. The store was actually called Feito y Cabezón.

Q. What were some of the surprises that appeared during the research for this documentary?

A. The first was that simple accent that changes everything in the name. From there came many others: the great impact the significant prosperity with which, twenty years later, Nicolás returned to his town had on his family; the relationships he had established with the highest strata of Cuban society; his way of traveling… Then, his spectacular loss, so painful and so unfair, after the times he held out his hand to so many people. The greatest surprise was his family, so lucid and kind, with such clear memories. They even remember the name of the ship that brought them back to Spain for the first time. And, finally, his stubbornness, perhaps what we have admired the most: his immense will to stand tall until the end.

Q. What should viewers expect? A documentary focused on the past? Any clues about the Cuban future?

A. Look, categorical knowledge of the past is fundamental for the progress of any nation, for the most accurate understanding of the present and, above all, because it contains, without a doubt, many ways to find the solution to our current problems. We are not the ones to say. José Martí said it more clearly, in a “criticism of society and education”: “The past is the root of the present. We must know what it was, because what was exists in what is.”

On February 24, the film will premiere at the Zorrilla Theater in Valladolid, Spain. (14ymedio)

However, we know that great damage is happening to the Cuban people every day, and that is the biggest key, the main reason to react once and for all.

What the viewer will see, in any case, will be an act of deep respect for these people from the Castile countryside who did not give up, even in the hardest years, in their commitment to maintain their principles, to fight for a better future, to save their dignity, to make their way wherever they went, to face disgrace with their eyes open. It is a round trip: that of any emigrant who one day left everything behind. It is, therefore, a mirror, the mirror of our grandparents’ house in which we have looked at ourselves again. And nothing more!

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Anchored in Regla, the Mysterious Sixth Turkish ‘Patana’ Contracted by Cuba Is Called ‘Erol Bey’

Suheyla Sultan, the most visible Turkish patana in Havana, generates 240 megawatts. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Izquierdo, Havana, 15 February 2024 — Anchored in the inlet of Guanabacoa and protected from the curiosity of habaneros, the exact location of the Erol Bey Turkish floating power plant — commonly called a ’patana’ — with its four chimneys, is not known. Located next to an industrial area, a 1,476-foot esplanade separates it from the Regla generator group to which it seems connected.

The Erol Bey, which appeared on Wednesday as the “patana of Regla,” provides 63 megawatts (MW) to the Electric Union. It is the third ship of the Turkish company Karpowership currently installed in Havana, along with the very visible Suheyla Sultan, with 240 MW, and the Belgin Sultan, with 15 MW. Silos, warehouses and flour mills surround the pier where the Erol Bey is anchored, and it can be reached by Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Street, in the municipality of Regla.

According to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the patanas contributed 2,591 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2022, which represents 14% of the country’s total generation (18,323 GWh).

The Erol Bay, seen from Havana, is accessible only from the industrial area that surrounds it, something only possible for those who work in the surrounding factories, as a reporter from 14ymedio was able to verify. continue reading

Neither the records of Karpowership nor its project in Cuba, where it installed floating power plants for the first time in 2019, allude to the Erol Bey

The satellite images, on the other hand, clearly show the ship, smaller in size than the Suheyla Sultan, located in the port of Havana, and with four chimneys that, this Thursday, emitted a weak smoke.

Neither Karpowership’s records nor its project in Cuba, where it installed floating power plants for the first time in 2019, allude to the Erol Bey. A report by the Turkish media Deniz Haber Ajansi mentions the acquisition, by Karpowership, of a Norwegian oil tanker manufactured in South Korea, which it called – as an “example of loyalty” – Erol Bey, in honor of the then president of the Maritime Council of Turkey, businessman Erol Yücel.

However, it is not known if this ship, transformed into a patana, is the same one that is anchored in Havana. An argument in favor of this change is that, along with this ship, Karpowership bought another “twin” oil tanker that it did turn into a patana. This is the Esra Sultan, which, in 2023, was in the Dominican Republic. For both ships, the Turkish company paid 14 million dollars.

Maritime tracking applications have not given news of the Erol Bey’s location since 2017.

The Cuban government has been hermetic about the contracting of Turkish floating power plants. To achieve estimate of the cost, this newspaper searched for the information in the Dominican Republic, which contracted for two patanas – including the Esra Sultan – for which it paid 40 million dollars for a duration of 42 months. Applying the same calculation to Cuba, the cost would be 109 million for the same period, or 31 million per year.

However, if Karpowership and Havana share anything, it is the lack of clarity about their transactions, and it is impossible to know how much the Island is paying for them. This is not only an economic issue but also an environmental one. The patanas, as the Cubans in Havana know very well, are pollution bombs.

Immersed in an energy crisis, the country suffers constant blackouts, and its facilities go from breakdown to breakdown. Given the lack of fuel, the regime turns to its allies, who do not stop sending oil tankers to Cuban ports, often at the risk of non-payments.

An emblematic case is Mexico, whose oil company, Pemex, according to the newspaper El País, has accumulated a debt of 106 billion dollars, says the credit rating agency Moody’s.

“Cuba and Mexico have not made public the financing agreement for the more than 5.5 million barrels of oil sent by Pemex to Cuba during 2023, with an estimated market value of 390 million dollars,” University of Texas expert Jorge Piñón explains to this newspaper. The quantities sent in “January and February of this year indicate that the supply of Mexican oil to Cuba will not only continue, but could also increase,” he says.

To prove it, the expert says, there are the trips from Mexico to Cuba of the ships Vilma, Ocean Mariner and Delsa – which  transported 1.1 million barrels in January and February, and the Esperanza, which joins the route. The Esperanza, one of the ships that traveled between Venezuela and the Island, is abandoning its old route in favor of Mexico. “Is this a sign of fewer supplies from Venezuela or a simple rotation of tankers?” asks Piñón.

Another important player in Cuba’s oil energy destination is Russia, whose chancellor, Sergey Lavrov, will visit Cuba soon. The diplomat will have numerous topics of conversation with Havana. Among them, the estimated debt of 566 million dollars for shipments of 7 million barrels of oil during 2022, and 1.6 million in 2023.

From that visit, Piñón concludes, many decisions will come out that will affect the geopolitical balance of the region, in particular of Venezuela and Mexico, with tense elections ahead in 2024, and of Cuba, which depends on its allies to survive.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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 ‘Ponchero’ Manufactures Blood Pressure Monitors With Tires To ‘Save Money’ for Cuban Healthcare

Arturo Batista has delivered hundreds of rubber-based automotive parts for blood pressure monitors in Las Tunas hospitals. (Periódico 26)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 31 January 2024 — With truck engine casings  and tire valves, a Las Tunas ponchero (tire repairer) manufactures and repairs blood pressure monitors. Given the lack of resources and the impossibility of replacing equipment, the hospitals of the province have begun to order the material from Arturo Batista, and now they give him materials so that he can produce more.

Interviewed by the State newspaper Periódico 26, Batista remembers the first time someone asked him to replace the latex  in a blood pressure monitor. “That was in 2004, and I did it based on my experience as a ponchero, and it worked and is still working after all this time.”

The story of the ponchero drew attention on social networks, and some users questioned whether the material intended for vehicle parts should be allowed in instruments for measuring blood pressure. “I am concerned about the rigidity of the bands used in this work. I am referring to the material and its thickness;  let’s remember that it will be inflated by doctors with their hand, not with a bicycle pump,” warned a user on Facebook.

We are also talking with self-employed workers who make plastic parts, to guarantee the equipment valves, a very deficient part that would be much better than the metal ones

However, anticipating the reluctance of the patients, Alberto Charles Martínez, director of the Provincial Center of Electromedicine of Las Tunas, told Periódico 26 that “the bands made by Arturo comply with the quality parameters, and we are now managing the delivery of thinner rubber bands so that he can continue his work.” continue reading

“We are also talking with self-employed workers who make plastic parts, to guarantee the equipment valves, a very deficient part that would be much better than the metal ones. The monitors would thus be more practical and of higher quality,” Charles added.

What the press has avoided mentioning at all costs is the payment given to Batista for each of the bands he manufactures when “he needs help,” because he makes them with few resources and pays high prices for the tire casings and the valves. “If I am helped with the thin truck casings and the valves, I can make them quickly, as they’re needed,” he said.

According to the newspaper, “at the moment (Batista) already has made more than 50 that are used in the municipality of Las Tunas, and he has more than 50 orders, since the entire province demands the equipment.”  The report added that Batista is waiting for more valves in order to complete the more than 150 blood pressure gauges required by the Ernesto Che Guevara hospital.

The official press doesn’t wonder why the State is not investing anything in this much-needed equipment

Since last December, the man has delivered another hundred monitors to Public Health, most of them destined for the polyclinic Guillermo Tejas, which has “saved” foreign currency for the country. The official press does not wonder why the State is not investing anything in this much-needed equipment.

Last September, another similar story was published in Periódico 26, that of Dr. Pedro Oliva, who has been manufacturing orthopedic prostheses in Las Tunas for years using the plastic of buckets and plumbing tubes. The lack of professional equipment in hospitals, which lengthens orthopedic waiting times for months and even years, was his motivation to start manufacturing them himself.

During the worst moments of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Island, the stories of people who manufactured plastic connectors so that more than one patient could be assisted with a single oxygen cylinder also became famous.

The crisis of supplies, equipment and personnel in Cuban hospitals is increasingly worrying, to the point that the Island’s own doctors sent to “missions” in poor countries of Africa have begun to send donations of syringes, gauze, gloves and all kinds of disposable material that, despite their low cost, are not frequently purchased by the Cuban Government.

Aid from countries such as Japan, Spain, Italy and several organizations such as the United Nations and UNICEF, has also been a lifeline for the destitute Cuban health system.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

15 People Are Accused in Cuba of International Drug Trafficking From the East of the Island

The detainees were seized with 300 pounds of marijuana. (Capture)

EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 17 February 2024 — The defendants are accused of the crimes of international drug trafficking, assault and illegal possession of firearms, in addition to other illicit acts that were not clarified.

All were tried in the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba on an unspecified date. The report also did not clarify when the court’s ruling will be announced.

The group, which was led by a Cuban residing abroad, tried to establish “a support base” on the Island to introduce cocaine and synthetic drugs by sea from the eastern side of the country.

The defendants are accused of the crimes of international drug trafficking, assault and illegal possession of weapons

The detainees were seized with 300 pounds of marijuana, a “large amount of money,” “satellite phones” and a “firearm.”

To avoid being detected on the roads, the accused used a car with a tourist plate, according to police information.

In recent days, Cuban officiadom has tried, through its news media and other means, to reinforce the idea that they are “cracking down” on the increased crime and “social indiscipline.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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 Mexican Police Find 22 Cubans in a Drug Trafficking House

The Cubans were found during a search and seizure operation where drugs were being sold. (Municipal Police)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas. Mexico, 1 February 2024 — A group of 22 Cubans in an irregular situation – seven women and 15 men – was found this Wednesday in a house located in Tultepec (State of Mexico), where drugs were also sold. On their journey to the United States, “the migrants sought protection in this area, not knowing that it is one of the most violent and where the sale of drugs, extortion from businesses and theft predominates,” municipal policeman Efraín Zamudio tells 14ymedio.

The officer specified that the migrants were found during a search of the house after an anonymous complaint about the sale of narcotics. The statement of the state prosecutor’s office confirms the “seizure of bags with narcotics.” Zamudio specified that “the drugs came from drug dealers who were not there at the time of the operation.”

One of the women said that they had arrived there a day earlier and paid 700 pesos for a three-day stay to someone named Fermín, who presented himself as the owner of the house. “We don’t know about drugs, we come from Tapachula,” the Cuban told the officers. continue reading

Zamudio mentioned that because drugs were found, medical tests were performed before the Cubans were handed over to the National Institute of Migration. “A simple protocol, which always respects the human rights of migrants,” stressed the official.

The municipal police of Tultepec delivered the Cubans to Migración on Wednesday, and they were transferred to the station in Las Agujas, in Mexico City, a place that several Cubans have denounced for attempts at extortion and threats by the agents.

After verifying that the Cubans were in good health, they were handed over to Migration. (Municipal Police)

Mayelín Díaz Vargas sent this newspaper a complaint last November against Jorge Rosalino Valencia, head of operational services in Las Agujas. The agent threatened her with promoting her transfer to the state of Tabasco for deportation to the Island if she did not remain silent. This woman had to pay $2,500 dollars for her release, despite the fact that she presented an amparo, which allowed her free transit.

In February of the same year, relatives of Luis Ángel Sánchez and Noelvis La O Pereira sent this newspaper information about the arbitrary detention of Cubans at Mexico City International Airport despite having safe-conducts granted by Migration. These people were kept for several days in Las Agujas.

An extortionist, pretending to be a lawyer, asked La O Pereira’s family for $5,000 in exchange for processing his release, arguing that he presented false documents. However, after several days and in the face of complaints in the media that stated that the agents were violating article 37 of the Migration Law. These people had a safe-conduct pass and also humanitarian parole for the United States, so they could not keep them imprisoned. Sánchez and La O Pereira were released and are now in the United States.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Juan Carlos Herrera, Former Prisoner of the Black Spring, Dies in the United States

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta lived in Syracuse, New York, United States. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 February 2024 — The former prisoner of the Black Spring and Cuban activist, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, died this Saturday of a massive heart attack at the age of 57, in the city of Syracuse, in the state of New York, United States. During his exile, the independent journalist maintained an intense activism against the Island’s regime.

Herrera Acosta, who in April 2003 was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his opposition to the Cuban regime, spent seven years and seven months in prison. During his stay in the Cubasí prison in Holguín and in the Combinado of Guantánamo, the dissident, who was also a reporter for the Eastern Free Press Agency, was subjected to severe punishment.

In August 2008, Herrera Acosta sewed his mouth shut in the Cubasí penitentiary center and remained in that condition for 12 days in protest against the violations of his human rights. Twenty opponents protested in Holguín in support of the prisoner; among them was Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who would die two years later after a long hunger strike. continue reading

In August 2008, Herrera Acosta sewed his mouth shut his mouth in the Cubasí penitentiary center and remained in that condition for 12 days in protest of the violations of his human rights

That same year, Herrera Acosta was transferred from the Cubasí prison to the Combinado of Guantánamo. “They brought me closer to my province, but they took me away from my family. What I have suffered is not enough for them,” he said when he learned of his imminent imprisonment in the prison known as “a den of terror.”

While in prison, the independent journalist suffered a family tragedy. On March 12, 2008, a bus traveling from Havana to Guantánamo was in an accident, and his only daughter, Lianet Herrera Disco, 14, lost her life, along with her mother, Elizabeth Disco Tito, 31, and her sister Elianet González Disco, 2 years old.

It would not be until August 19, 2010 that Herrara Acosta was able to leave prison and go into exile in Madrid after a negotiation among the Cuban regime, the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government. On that occasion, dozens of Black Spring prisoners and their families left the Island, in the middle of an operation that some classified as a “forced banishment.”

“I consider myself still a prisoner, because there are still many of my friends in Cuban prisons,” Herrera Acosta told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists on that occasion.

A year after his exile he settled in the United States and continued his activism for the freedom of Cuba. In May 2022, Herrera Acosta confronted Dangel, a defender of the Cuban regime who called himself “100% Fidel” on social networks and also lived in Syracuse. Acosta told Cubanet that the sympathizer of the Cuban regime had  “denounced the political prisoners and the Ladies in White*.”

This Saturday, after the activist’s death was known, several former prisoners of the Black Spring expressed their sorrow on social media and sent their condolences to the family. Among them was the Cuban dissident Pablo Pacheco Ávila, who defined him as a brother of the 75 opponents who were convicted in 2003.

This Saturday, after the death of the activist was known, several former prisoners of the Black Spring expressed their sorrow on social media and sent their condolences to the family

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned about the death of my friend and brother Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, a brave man who dedicated his life to the struggle for freedom and human rights in Cuba,” the former political prisoner, Normando Hernández, told Martí Noticias.

“His departure leaves an indelible void in our hearts,” he added.  Hernández is the director of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and Press. Several colleagues recalled that Herrera Acosta maintained his denunciations of the Cuban dictatorship and the allied authoritarian regimes of Havana until the end of his days.

Just this Friday, a few hours before he passed away, he had accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of the death in prison of the opponent Alexei Navalny. “The world is witnessing the emergence of a new Stalin and a new Hitler,” Herrera Acosta warned in a video published on YouTube.

*Translator’s note: The Ladies in White — which demonstrates regularly for human rights — was started by the wives of the Black Spring prisoners, and continues its activities to this day.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Begins His Ninth Visit to Cuba in 20 Years

Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in April 2023, in Havana. (Presidency of Cuba)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 19 February 2024 — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a brief visit on Monday to Cuba, one of Russia’s main allies in Latin America, with whom it has strengthened bilateral political and economic cooperation in recent months.

This will be Lavrov’s ninth visit to the Island since his appointment to the position in 2004, as highlighted by the chanceller’s office of Havana when announcing the trip of the Russian leader, who will later travel to Venezuela and Brazil.

The announced program – about twenty-four hours long – revolves around interviews with President Miguel Díaz-Canel and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez.

Although the brief announcement of Lavrov’s second trip to Cuba in less than a year does not refer to the issues to be addressed in those conversations, they are expected to review the bilateral relationship, as well as current international issues such as the conflict in Ukraine. continue reading

The statement does not refer to the issues to be addressed, but it is expected that the bilateral relationship will be reviewed, as well as current international issues such as the conflict in Ukraine

They may also discuss preparations for a visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Island in response to the invitation sent by Díaz-Canel at the end of 2022.

In his previous stay in Havana, in April 2023, Lavrov said he valued the “progress” in commercial exchange after President Díaz-Canel’s visit to Moscow a few months earlier.

Cuba’s worst economic crisis in decades, with shortages of food, medicine and fuel, is a vital subject for discussion, especially after the commitments endorsed last May to increase Russian financial and business presence on the Island.

At that time a bilateral business economic forum took place in Havana with the presence of more than 150 representatives of the private sectors of Russia and Cuba.

The head of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Ricardo Cabrisas, confirmed that Russian capital would be present in strategic sectors such as transport, logistics, agriculture, sugar, tourism, construction and industry.

To encourage that presence, Havana would provide Russian businesses with “preferential treatment,” tax-free imports, the presence of Russian banks and currency exchange.

In recent months, in addition to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the president of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, the presidential adviser Maxim Oreshkin and the deputy prime minister Dmitry Chernyshenko have visited the Cuban capital.

Lavrov thanked Cuba in 2023 for its “full understanding” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is backed by Havana.

Last summer, several media outlets from outside the Island reported the presence of Cuban mercenaries fighting alongside Russian troops in the invasion of Ukraine, including testimonies from several of them and their relatives.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry then stated that “Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,” and rejected “mercenarism” and the participation of its citizens in “any conflict”

The Foreign Affairs Ministry then stated that “Cuba is not part of the military conflict in Ukraine,” and rejected “mercenarism” and the participation of its citizens in “any conflict.”

He also announced last September the dismantling of a network that allegedly recruited Cubans to fight in Ukraine, an operation in which 17 people were said to be arrested.

Cuba and Russia have promoted their bilateral relationship in recent years to try to restore the close cooperation they maintained until the disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Russia is one of Cuba’s top ten trading partners, and both governments define their association as “strategic.”

In November 2022, Díaz-Canel and Putin discussed development prospects for the Russian-Cuban strategic partnership in the political, economic, commercial, cultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as management of the debt that Cuba has with Russia. Several agreements were signed, including one concerning the supply of oil.

Díaz-Canel has declared his country’s “will” to take political dialogue and bilateral economic and commercial relations with Russia to “a higher level.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Two Cuban Wrestlers Are the First To Escape This Year in a Competition in Mexico

Susana Martínez and Santiago Hernández left the Cuban team in Acapulco (Guerrero). (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Mexico, 19 February 2024 — In just three days, two members of the Cuban wrestling team, Susana Martínez and Santiago Hernández, abandoned the team training in Acapulco, Mexico. These are the first two escapes of Cuban athletes so far this year, which numbered 77 in 2023.

Martínez and Hernández escaped just before the start of the Pan American Senior 2024 Championship, scheduled from February 21 to 25, and the Pan American Olympic Qualifier to Paris 2024, from March 1 to 3.

Martínez, according to coach Daniel Gómez on the Facebook page La Lucha (Wrestling), traveled to Mexico to support the training of Cuban athletes Yusneylis Guzmán (in the 100 lb category), Laura Herin (117 lb), Ángela Álvarez (126 lb), María Santana (137 lb) and Brenda Sterling (150 lb). continue reading

Gómez did not give details about Martínez, 23, beyond the fact that she fled on February 16. Her best result was in 2021, when she won a fifth place in the Pan American Cadet and Junior tournament, according to Cubalite.

So far there has been no pronouncement in the official Cuban press about the escape of the athletes

Roly Dámaso, who closely follows both tournaments, confirmed on Monday the escape of Santiago Hernández. “He didn’t even wait for the luggage to arrive and just went on the run,” he said. The athlete was part of the Cuban team that will participate in the 119 lb category in the 2024 Pan American Senior Championship.

“This abandonment of the wrestling delegation to the Pan American Championship is a hard blow to the aspirations to qualify in the 126 lb division for the Olympic Games,” said Daniel Gómez. “Cuba must participate in this division in the Pan American Championship to be entitled to participate in the Pan American Qualifier for the Olympic Games.”

So far there has been no pronouncement in the official Cuban press about the escape of the athletes, the first this year to abandon a national delegation.

In September of last year, the Island lost Hangelen Llanes, gold medalist at the XXIV Central American and Caribbean Games, in the 150 lb category. This competitor left the team training in Paris before traveling to Serbia.

Before Llanes, Yoannia Pérez and Liliana Duane, members of the wrestling team, fled during an international event. Last March, it was Roly Dámaso who spread the news of the desertion of both athletes during a stopover in Mexico. “In a few years, Cuba will be a country without young people. They are tired of all the socialism and the promises that never came true,” Dámaso added.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.

Why Does an Intellectual Become a Communist? Six Writers Provide Some Insight

For writers, it was easy to get excited about Lenin’s victory in Russia. (Russia Beyond)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Xavier Carbonell, Salamanca, February 17, 2024 — Two communists are in Red Square, contemplating Lenin’s mummy, still fresh. At the dead man’s feet, a procession of grimy peasants shuffle past in veneration. One man says to the other, “I suppose you love Lenin.” The other nods. (Both had known Vladimir Ulyanov well.) “That being the case,” he continues, “how about we find two cans of gasoline and torch this dump along with the idol?” The other turns pale and begins to tremble. He suggests that his comrade forget such inflammatory ideas, drop the subject and, if possible, immediately leave the country.

One of the men – the jokester – is Ignazio Silone, founder of the Italian Communist Party and then a diehard believer. The other is Lazar Schatzky, leader of the Russia’s Communist Youth League, who was persecuted by Stalin and ended up being shot in 1937. Let’s suppose that the joke has a moral and that the moral comes a few pages later in Silone’s own words: “To judge a regime, it is very important to know what it is laughing at.”

Like the Italian, the five other great writers featured in The God That Failed were communists and lived to tell the tale. The book, which Moscow banned shortly after it came out in 1949, is now being rescued from obscurity by a Spanish publisher, Ladera Norte. Assembled by British parliamentarian Richard Crossman, the collection of essays contains accounts from Arthur Koestler, Stephen Spender, Louis Fischer, Richard Wright, André Gide and Silone.

In only a handful of countries is The God That Failed not a historical document but rather an instruction manual. Cuba is one of those countries. The stories of the six authors, who describe communism as either a religion that they renounced or a drug that almost destroyed them, will strike a familiar chord on the island. It is a drug because it produces addicts. It is a religion because it offers eternal life, expects obedience and provides nothing. No matter how much time passes. continue reading

Cubierta de 'El dios que fracasó', editado por Ladera Norte en España.
The cover of ‘El dios que fracasó’, published by Ladera Norte in Spain.

The idea for the book came from a conversation between Crossman and Koestler. The theme is the all-too-familiar disconnect between those who escape communism and those in from Western democracies who admire it. “Either you cannot or you do not want to understand,” summarized Koestler after recalling what led him to join the party in his youth only to leave it seven years later. Why does an intellectual become a communist when the regime is always so distrustful of writers, artists and philosophers? For Koestler, it is a matter of faith, not reason. Faith that a political doctrine can alter reality and end the world’s injustices, something that was easy to get excited about after Lenin’s triumph in 1917.

“All true faith is uncompromising, radical, purist,” warns Koestler. “The revolutionary’s utopia, which seems to represent a total break with the past, is always modeled after some image of Paradise Lost, of a legendary Golden Age.” Rebellion is the only way to believe in mythology again when one lives in “a disintegrating society thirsty for faith.”

On the other hand, there is the intrigue and secrecy, the false identities, the espionage, pamphlets and passwords, everything that constitutes – and Koestler’s analogy is a gem – “the mental world of the drug addict,” something difficult to explain to people who are not initiated. In the lethargic phase — when one has left all optimism behind, when all that is left is compliance — one discovers the necessary lie, the lie you want to believe, the lie that makes failure taste, rather unsuccessfully, less bitter.

Those who died, those who are dying in prison, is this what they sacrificed themselves for?

Silone, a man of a thousand stories, remembers an epiphany he had when locked up with a group of communists being persecuted by fascists: a fake painter, a fake tourist, a fake dentist, a fake architect and a fake young German woman. The long and incomprehensible story that Silone tells that night has a bitter end and begins with the injustices that he witnessed as a child. Maturity and the search for freedom led him to communist ideas but he became disenchanted after Stalin’s schemes to enforce his will. One night In Moscow, someone asked the question, “Those who died, those who are dying in prison, is this what they sacrificed themselves for? The unsettled, solitary, dangerous lives that we ourselves lead, foreigners in our own countries, is it all for this?”

Richard Wright, an African-American writer, was invited to meet some white communists from Chicago. His first reaction was one of suspicion but he decided to go anyway. After the initial idyllic phase, he discovered the factions, the struggles for power and the frustration of party members. Despite working as a street sweeper, a female comrade issued the verdict. “We keep a record of the problems we’ve had with intellectuals in the past,” she said. “It is estimated that only 13% of them remain in the party.”

We keep a record of the problems we’ve had with intellectuals in the past. “It is estimated that only 13% of them remain in the party.”

Gide, perhaps the best known of the writers in the book along with Koestler, was one of the pioneers in dismantling the Soviet myth. His essay, taken from his celebrated book Return from the USSR, was written after a 1936 trip to Moscow which opened his eyes. Officials hosted receptions and banquets that were designed to tempt him into saying flattering things about Russia. Meanwhile, people were going hungry and dying from the cold. The state, he wrote in his diary, exploited workers “in a very formal and twisted way so that they no longer knew whom to blame for their situation.” The conclusion did not earn him many friends in Moscow. “I very much doubt,” he wrote, “that there is any other country in the world, including Hitler’s Germany, that has so enslaved the intelligence and spirit, and that has terrorized more of its people, than the Soviet Union.”

Closing out the book are two pieces: one by the American writer Louis Fischer, who wrote a biography of Lenin; and Stephen Spender, who became disenchanted with communism after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939. Fischer explores how the party instilled a sense of guilt in its members (“How can you complain about the potato shortage when you were building socialism?”). Spender quickly soured on the “poetic purity” that Moscow promised.

A few years ago, a group of university students — some of whom were friends — thought they could reclaim the legacy of Jurassic communism that had excited Gide, and later Sartre and company. They venerated Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg, and even allowed themselves the luxury of idolizing Fidel Castro, their go-to talisman whenever problems arose, which says a lot about their mental state. They hated Cuba’s official party newspaper Granma and communist officials, starting with the current president Miguel Díaz-Canel. They languished between disciplinary councils and calls to order. It was they – whom I remember as ragged, smoking and spectral – who first came to mind as I was reading this book, which serves as an epitaph to them. Their god, in addition to failing, thrives on failure.

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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 Urgency of Releasing Political Prisoners in Cuba and What We Can Do About It

The decision of Cuba’s Assembly of People’s Power should have been an intelligent response to move forward in the cause that we all want, which is the freedom of the political prisoners. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Frank Calzón, Miami, 19 February 2024 –The decision of Cuba’s Assembly of People’s Power to ignore a petition for political amnesty was taken by the Communist Party of Cuba and must motivate the opposition within the country and free Cubans abroad to redouble their efforts, until the regime frees those in prison. In addition, those freed must be allowed to decide whether to stay on the Island or go into exile. We must address the press, civic associations, our representatives, the unions, etc.

The decision of the Assembly of the People’s Power should have had an intelligent response to advance our cause, which is the freedom of the political prisoners and, ultimately, of all Cuban citizens.

On the Island there are those who can contact embassies, addressing democratic governments. Others can urge the Church to offer masses for the freedom of the captives and to address cardinals and bishops around the world, asking them to add their voices to the campaign. And not just the Catholic Church. Also the evangelical Christian churches, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, Lutherans, the episcopals, the communities of the African faith and even the Masonic lodges could mobilize believers in Cuba and their co-religionists around the world. continue reading

Abroad, human rights organizations in exile with relations with international entities should go to them once again

Abroad, human rights organizations in exile with relations with international entities should go to them once again. It is time for civil society on the Island, the Cubans of the diaspora, and their many friends to insist together with democracies around the world so that they condition their diplomatic, economic, cultural and all kinds of relations with Havana on the release of the prisoners in Cuba.

In Washington, senators and congressmen could ask the White House to suspend all cooperation with Havana until it allows the entry of the International Red Cross and Amnesty International into the prisons.

We must address with brief and respectful messages the members of the European Parliament, foreign ministries and those who, as in Sweden and Lithuania, ask that Europe suspend, due to internal repression on the Island, the bilateral agreement with Havana that represents an infusion of millions of euros into tyranny.

For example, Tobias Billström, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs said last August that he had access to “very worrying” reports of torture in Cuban prisons.

There is much more to do, and not only in the United States, because there are communities of Cuban patriots in many countries around the world. We all have something to contribute.

Castroite State Security tries to suppress these efforts by telling us that there is nothing we can do, that the regime will never release anyone, and some repeat the chorus of a very harmful disinformation campaign: they insist that nothing can be achieved until the exile is coordinated in its entirety. Until that happens, they proclaim that all efforts are destined to fail. They lie, as they always have and always will.

The Cuban regime wants to undermine efforts, convincing us of how useless it is to oppose its lifelong despotism, of how fanciful it is for Cubans to dream about freedom. State Security, in addition, promotes discord between pro-democratic organizations, spreads rumors without presenting evidence and on top of that tries to discredit the most effective opposition against them. Thus the tyranny tries to neutralize us.

Those who insist that Cuba is not free because very few pay attention to them, and that we must first get the unity of all the exiles to then develop “the strategy for victory,” achieve the opposite. The way to join efforts is not by defending those who do something, but by joining them, working with them, sharing the dangers, pains and anxiety.

Anyone who accuses Cubans of being “sheep,” of not having the necessary courage to be free, should now join the organizations that tirelessly direct all their arrows against tyranny

Anyone who accuses Cubans of being “sheep,” of not having the necessary courage to be free, should now join the organizations that tirelessly direct all their arrows against tyranny, denounce their crimes and help their victims.

Let them stop preaching hopelessness and lies to discredit those who are acting. Let them stop sowing division and slandering the patriots. If an accusation is made, it is essential to provide evidence.

They should stop insisting that anyone who develops an initiative different from their own is always wrong and acts in bad faith.

Cuba will be free, and every Cuban with decorum has a place in the movement to create a new Cuba. We can all approach the brother who suffers, the mother of a political prisoner, the dissident whom State Security has humiliated.

That is called solidarity, and it is fundamental to the cause of a free homeland on the Island. Because Cuba is more than a geographical term or a political dialectic. Cuba is each Cuban. Cuba is the millions of souls who deserve to be free and who never, throughout the bitter decades of dictatorship, have tired of denouncing the crimes of Castroism and claiming our imperative need for democracy and freedom.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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 Former Cuban Ambassador to Prague and Ukraine Dies Under Strange Circumstances in Havana

Félix León Carballo spent 40 years in the Foreign Service and was currently retired. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 February 2024 — Retired diplomat Felix León Carballo, ambassador to Belarus, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, among other charges, spent 40 years as an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and died this Saturday in Havana under suspicious circumstances.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed it this Sunday through a statement in which there is no mention of the cause of death, which was allegedly a homicide, according to a close friend, the Cuban ambassador in Djibouti, who was the source of the news.

“Felix León died on me… or rather ‘they killed him on me’. ‘Pacolo’ as we also know him (I refuse to talk about you in the past). So many years together! And some bastards got in the way of our plans. This is our last photo,” Caballero Torres wrote on Facebook, raising the alarm. continue reading

Félix León died on me… or rather ‘they killed him on me’. ‘Pacolo’ as we also know him (I refuse to talk about you in the past). So many years together! And some bastards got in the way of our plans

The post was deleted hours later, according to Café Fuerte, which was still able to capture some of the comments of those who reacted to the news. “I’m so sorry. They took brother Paco. Nor will justice calm our immense pain. There can be no impunity for that crime,” said Maura Quintero Dipotet, wife of the ambassador in Djibouti.

“Marcelo, how painful is Felix’s death. I can’t believe it yet,” wrote another acquaintance on the Facebook page of the Djibouti ambassador. “That’s life… sometimes it’s lost in the most fucked up and undeserved way,” he replied.

Several independent media cited Caballero Torres’ message as a source to report the violent death, but hours later the post had disappeared. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement limited to reporting the death and offering condolences to relatives and colleagues.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that León Carballo joined the Foreign Service in 1975 and worked in the Directorate of Europe and the Center for Information and Multimedia Services. “Let’s always remember his contribution to foreign policy and his eternal permanence in the Minrex family (sic.).”

The Ministry replicated the text on its social networks, where some acquaintances remembered the deceased, without anyone else mentioning the possible circumstances of the death. “I will always remember your sincere gratitude, your patience and determination to make us reflect. Your years of experience made you wise and a bearer of morality. Your revolutionary conviction was always an example and impetus for the whole group. RIP friend Felix,” the Embassy of Granada wrote on Facebook.

“Cuban diplomacy is in mourning. We have lost a valuable partner. Tremendous blow for all of us who knew him. Heartfelt condolences to his family and closest friends,” added diplomat Enrique Almeida.

“Cuban diplomacy is in mourning. We have lost a valuable partner. Tremendous blow for all of us who knew him. Heartfelt condolences to his family and closest friends”

“I deeply regret the death of our dear colleague and friend Félix León. Excellent diplomat, professional and human being, he will serve as an example to all those who embrace the Foreign Service of our Homeland,” the chain of messages continues.

On X, where it is not possible to delete the comments to your own publication, the situation has been different. The condolences for the death have been joined by critics of the Government who have demanded solidarity with other deceased allegedly due to negligence of the regime, and by those who demand that the events surrounding the death be revealed.

“Tell the truth. He was assaulted and killed in his home because the crime wave can’t be stopped,” demands a user.

At the end of November 2023, Bohemia magazine published an article entitled “Social violence in Cuba: Between Reality and the Idea.” From an unofficial digital survey, it found that 92.4% of participants said that violence has increased a lot on the Island. Forty-two percent said they had been aware of 10 or more violent crimes in the last six months, and almost half claimed that a family member or close friend had been a victim of violent crime.

In addition, a third of those affected did not report the crime, but among those who did, 73% did not get a resolution.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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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.