Four Cubans Arrested for Supposed Links to ‘Terrorists’ Outside the Country

Humberto López announced the alleged plans to attack civilian and military targets on the island in the coming days. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 April 2021 — On the eve of the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba this Thursday, Cuban television announced the arrest of four people accused of plans that were supposedly were to take place in the “next few days.”

According to Humberto López, director and presenter of the government TV program — who, himself, has recently been added to the list of “violent repressors” drawn up by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba — the supposed plans came from South Florida with ties to Spain.

The alleged terrorist organization is called La Nueva Nación Cubana (LNNC – The New Cuban Nation) and is led by Cuban-Americans William Cabrera González and Michael Naranjo, described on Cuban national television yesterday as “people with terrible behavior” and admirers of Brigade 2506, the former combatants who attempted the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. continue reading

Both individuals publish on their Facebook pages posters or videos related to the LNNC in which they call for unity to violently combat the Cuban regime. These posts have been shared by Armonía Díaz, a Cuban resident in Spain, whom the television report also accuses of links with “counterrevolutionary” groups.

Information from Cuban Television warned that this group planned to bring weapons and explosives to the island, infiltrate people, shoot up hotel establishments and set fire to shops and police stations.

In addition, López stated that the targets include civilians, with bombs to be detonated in childcare centers and healthcare facilities. He also said attacks are planned against leaders and officials, and include introducing a new strain of Sars-CoV-2.

The LNNC collective has already reacted by denying their links with the detainees and affirming that their struggle, armed as they admit, is not directed at civilians, but at the Communist Party.

Among those detained are two people from Holguin, Amaurys Casaels Martínez, 44, and Ernesto Javier Espinosa Mañé, 22, residents of Guaro who are accused of “receiving directions from counterrevolutionary elements from abroad to throw Molotov cocktails against a bank branch and the Police station” of the locality where they live.

The other two are Daniel Aponte Ruiz, 45, and Francisco Ángel Rodríguez Gronlier, 41, both from Havana. The former is suspected of recruiting people to “create clandestine cells” to carry out terrorist attacks against the Convention Center, electrical substations, stores that sell in freely convertible currency, and units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. Meanwhile, the latter, they maintain, was to be taken over by Aponte to carry out those actions.

____________

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

Raul Castro Hands Over Leadership of Cuban Communist Party to ‘Those Who Represent the Continuity of the Revolution’

Raúl Castro, during the presentation of the central report to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, this Friday. (ACN)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 April 2021 — A nonagenarian and with a country in ruins, Raúl Castro has confirmed the handover to his successor of the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), after completing the two statutory terms that he himself imposed for high-level positions.

The first secretary of the PCC announced his retirement during the presentation of the central report to the Eighth Congress of the country’s single party, which opened in Havana this Friday and will end next Monday.

He did not specifically say who he will endorse as his successor in the leadership of the Party, but he hinted that it will be Miguel Díaz-Canel, whom he appointed as his successor to the presidency in 2018. continue reading

According to the official press, “the Army General said that he has the satisfaction of handing over the leadership of the country to a group of prepared leaders, hardened by decades of experience in their transition from the base to high responsibilities, committed to the ethics of the Revolution, identified with the history and culture of the nation, full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit, and knowing that they represent the continuity of the Revolution.”

Among them, he mentioned Miguel Díaz-Canel, handed the presidency of the country by Castro himself, and congratulated his performance in office: “He has known how to form teams and promote cohesion with the higher bodies of the Party, the State and the Government,” Castro said.

There are no surprises, at least in the methodical chronology that Castro himself had drawn up a few years ago. Perhaps what is new is the context in which the role is being passed. With the deepest economic crisis of the last quarter of a century, growing popular dissatisfaction, and Washington’s decision to maintain, for the time being, the sanctions adopted by the Trump Administration, the general could never have projected a darker scenario at the time of presenting his status report.

This is why the decision was made not to broadcast the speech of the first secretary of the PCC live on national television. Castro concluded his speech in a challenging tone and in the purest style of continuity: “Nothing, nothing, nothing forces me to this. As long as I live, I will be ready with my foot on the stirrup to defend the homeland, the Revolution and socialism with more force than ever. Long live free Cuba, long live Fidel, homeland or death.”

____________

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

The Cuban Government Will Control the Internet and Social Media to "Defend the Achievements of the Socialist State"

The so-called “On Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies, and Use of the Radio Spectrum” standard will establish a legal framework for “counteracting attacks via radio frequency and in cyberspace.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 April 2021 — The Cuban government will widen its control of the Internet and social media with the passage of a new decree-law. In order to “defend the achievements made by the socialist State,” the measure will allow official regulation of new technologies and communication, according to Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella, Minister of Communications, who introduced the text on Tuesday, April 13, to senior government officials.

The so-called “On Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies, and Use of the Radio Spectrum” mandate will establish a legal framework for “counteracting attacks via radio frequency and in cyberspace,” among other things proposed by the minister.

Perdomo also cited the need for the decree-law to regulate the computerization of the country, promote its sovereignty, and “safeguard the principles of security and invulnerability of telecommunications”, all with the aim of consolidating “the achievements of Socialism and the welfare of the population”. continue reading

Wednesday’s edition of Juventud Rebelde* featured an article reporting on the passage of this and two other regulations yesterday in the Council of State, wherein the Communications minister stated that this decree — whose content is as yet unknown — would be in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, “as is the case with treaties and other international legal instruments.”

In July 2019, the Government had already passed legislation “regarding the computerization of Cuban society – Decree-Law 370, known as the “scourge law” — through which it attempted to “elevate technological sovereignty in benefit of the society, economy, security, and national defense” and to “counteract cyberattacks.”

Among Decree-Law 370’s most controversial articles was one that penalizes “broadcasting via public data transmission networks any information contrary to the public interest, morals, proper behavior, and the integrity of persons” — which was compared, for the virtual world, with the offense of “pre-criminal dangerousness.”

This legal concept is applied to dissidents and critics of the Government, and has been denounced by organizations such as Amnesty International and the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights for convicting citizens on allegations of crimes that they have yet to commit.

*Translator’s Note: Juventud Rebelde – literally, “Rebel Youth” – is a Cuban newspaper of the Union of Young Communists.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

______________________

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

Cuba: A Year Without New Clothes or Shoes

Clothes hang from the front porch a building that had been a successful high-end restaurant before the pandemic.(14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana/Miami, 10 April 2021 — This week a “venduta” [small commercial space] opened on the front porch of a building in Havana’s Vedado district. Second-hand clothing now hangs a few yards away from the entrance of what had been a successful high-end restaurant before the pandemic. It is an attempt by desperate entrepreneurs on 23rd Street to generate some income.

Among the items are evening dresses that cannot be worn for their intended purpose due to Covid-19 restrictions. Pants that might have been used for strolling down a boulevard or dancing in a nightclub are now just everyday wear. For the past year state-owned stores have been selling little more than groceries and cleaning supplies. Customers can buy household appliances in hard currency stores but, because they are not considered emergency products, clothing and footwear are not available there.

Supplies on the black market, normally the island’s steady supplier of fashionable clothing, are very depressed because the ’mules’, who get their merchandise from overseas, have been unable to travel. “You have to dress in whatever is available,” explains a woman looking at some clothes hanging at a makeshift front-porch store on the Avenue of the Presidents. “No matter how much I look, I just end up going from place to place. And you can forget about finding anything even remotely elegant,” she says.

On the sidewalk a young man hesitates, unsure whether or not to reach for the hangers. A year ago he would have been looking for brand-new clothes but now it’s this or nothing.

________________

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

Letter to All Cuban Mothers: Let Us Not Remain Silent

Artists gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana, in November 2020, demanded that the Cuban government open up to dialogue. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ines Casel, Havana, 12 April 2021 —  Since November 27th of last year my heart has had no peace. That day, my son Julio César Llópiz Casal and a group of young Cubans waited for more than 12 hours to be seen by the Minister of Culture to present their concerns. Finally, at dawn on the 28th, a group of 30 was authorized to enter the ministry to dialogue with the vice minister and other officials, “in an atmosphere of respect and among revolutionaries,” as Fernando Rojas himself declared before Cuban Television, on the night of November 28.

Just a few hours later, Rojas made the following statement at a press conference: “We are not going to give legitimacy to those who, with the support of the United States Government, want to damage this country, and want to damage its tranquility, and it continues to be symptomatic that this is at a time when an American administration that has done the worst that can be done against the people of this country is coming to the end of its mandate. It does not seem gratuitous that this is so. I cannot affirm it, but I have every right to have that opinion.”

Since that day, a campaign of infamy has been unleashed against those Cubans who met with the government, in all the official media (the only authorized ones) in the country, in an escalation without restraint or measure. continue reading

I have said it and I will repeat it until my last breath: my son is not a terrorist, my son does not seek to destabilize the system, much less incite a popular uprising. My son is not manipulated, directed, paid by any foreign government, by any organization, by any media of the press. My son is not a criminal, he is a Cuban artist who works in Cuba, for Cuba and by Cuba. My son speaks his mind in any place and in any circumstance; my son is a good man.

Today, I have so present in my heart the thousands of Cuban mothers who have suffered and do suffer, often anonymously, the crimes and injustices committed against their children, (Mariana Grajales, Leonor Pérez, Salustina Benítez, Esther Montes de Oca , Rosario García, Joaquina Cuadrado, Lina Ruz, Reina Tamayo, Ramona Copello, Carmen Nordelo, etc.) I am writing to:

– The Government of the Republic of Cuba: I beg you to stop this media murder of people who only commit the “crime” of thinking differently and saying so. It is a responsibility that belongs to them.

– Journalists and spokespersons who lend themselves to this farce: do your job correctly and ethically (I don’t think I should tell you how, because you should know, at least theoretically) and don’t keep sinking into shame and cowardice.

– To the Cubans who, honestly, have blind faith or absolute confidence in the “Revolution”: I do not think it is unreasonable to ask them to seek information, by all possible means, about who my son is, who are the people who today they are being accused of being mercenaries and traitors to the country. Remember that “knowledge is virtue.”

– To those who, from their vantage point of comfort, do not want to “give the enemy wrong signals”: put your hand on your heart and secretly ask yourself if it is really that thought that guides you at this time.

– To all the Cuban mothers who today find themselves in a situation similar to mine: from wherever we are, let us not remain silent. That we don’t ever have to say, “We should have screamed.”

José Martí, that “mystery” that has accompanied me since I can remember, wrote on January 1, 1891: “Nations should have one special pillory for those who incite them to futile hatreds, and another for those who do not tell them the truth until it is too late.”

This, today, is my pillory!

____________

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

Sanity and Green Spaces Return to Havana’s Iconic G Street

View of G Street in Havana on Friday, with paving stones now removed. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, April 9, 2021 — The power of Cuban social media has once again been demonstrated. After months of intense criticism, internet users have won the battle to rescue the gardens of Havana’s iconic Avenue of the Presidents (G Street) in the area closest to the Malecón seawall. Authorities have now removed recently installed paving stones and will restore its former lawns.

“Many institutions of local government have been involved in the rescue of the landscaped areas along the last two stretches of G Street,” reads an article published on Thursday in the official news website Cubadebate, which assured readers that the project has received “technical input from the National Botanical Garden” and will be planted with “high-quality grass that is resistant to salt air.”

Commentators expressed their relief over the decision but also demanded accountability for those responsible for the previous botched job. “All that money gone, who will answer for that?” asks one reader, who blames “waste and the lack of urban impact studies” as causes for the blunder. continue reading

“Too bad they realized this so late,” lamented Olivia Cadaval, another commentator. “After doing all these horrible things, they now want to respect nature and consult design professionals to make sure they end up with a decent project,” she adds. “I am very happy there are still people with good taste and who feel a sense of identity with the city.”

To Berlin-based architect Rafael Muñoz, the fact “that a bad remodeling project is already being fixed is something to be applauded.”

“I am happy that sanity has returned,” he tells 14ymedio. “Avenue of the Presidents in not just another city street. Besides being one of the most beautiful, it is a site that encompasses much of the capital’s architectural and urban history from the first half of the 20th century.”

“Muñoz hopes this is the “beginning of a trend  to restore green spaces that have undergone changes that compromised their original designs.” He points out this decision should be reinforced by committing to ongoing “maintenance work on the the entire area’s landscaping.”

In July, social networks seethed when photographs of a section of Avenue of the Presidents were posted which showed how formerly green areas had been turned gray. Some photos show how a large stretch of grass near the sea had been covered with paving stones.

The alteration unleashed a wave of criticism from architects and ordinary citizens, who watched the wide, park-like medians — one of the distinctive features of G Street, along with the monuments, modern buildings and grandiose mansions that flank it — being razed.

The transformation reached deep into the Vedado district, all the way to Linea Street. The thoroughfare’s wide medians, which had grass lawns extending three kilometers from the Malecón to the Linea Street tunnel, had been covered over with paving stones. Officials justified the change in the name of “pedestrian safety” and said it was intended to keep “soil and grass out of the street.”

____________________________

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

Cuba: Reforms in the Countryside Should Not be Left Half Done

Cooperatives are one of the forms of agriculture in Cuba. (Bohemia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 5 April 2021 — While more and more images are arriving of the impact of the social protests that increase throughout Cuba — including the San Isidro Movement and UNPACU — the communist leaders try to cope with the great problem of lack of food and introduce small reforms such as renting a part of the State Agricultural Markets (MAE) to farmers, agricultural land leaseholders and cooperatives, as sources of supply. Meanwhile, the inefficient and unproductive state intermediary, ceases to provide these functions.

Measures that have yielded, where they have been implemented, immediate results, such as a greater number of products sold, higher collections from sales, customers who are more and better satisfied thanks to greater freedom of choice, in short, small advances in the serious problem of scarcity that exists in the country. The field-to-market channel, previously obstructed by communist inefficiency, now serves as a win-win for everyone.

However, the incorporation of private management into the State Agricultural Markets for the commercialization of agricultural products is a formula that, without reaching the structural reforms that the Cuban economy needs, confirms that where private initiative increases its participation and occupies spaces that, until then, had been prohibited by communism, the economy begins to function again and to produce. continue reading

This means that it is not a question of leasing the facilities from the private sector, while the state continues to be the absolute owner of the means of production, but rather that it is necessary to privatize, transfer ownership of the means to private actors so that they can be drive profitability, motivation, and scale growth.

Everything that can be done in Cuba to open spaces in the economy and society to private initiative should be welcomed. And it is necessary to provide legal guarantees so that a return to nationalization does not take place, when the regime wants, but rather that there are stable reforms that provide security to the new private actors. The same thing will happen with the opening of licenses to 2,000 activities or the allocation of food services and small businesses to private operators.

All of a sudden, positive effects will be noticed, because private initiative works much better than state initiative, and is capable of reversing the state of prostration and inefficiency in which the economy finds itself. It is a pity that these opening decisions are adopted by the Cuban communist regime as a consequence of social pressure and the latent threat of a social outbreak of great proportions. The transfer of economic power to private parties should be the result of a decision based on the opportunities that arise from it, and that it is the only way to open general spaces for freedom, prosperity and development in Cuba.

Trade reforms, as a note from the State newspaper Granma says, have been applied slowly and only in certain areas, because the government does not want to lose control of the economy. And this despite the fact that the new markets sell between 10 and 13 products, planning to expand that to 23, a consumer basket unknown to many Cubans, made up of numerous meats, vegetables and fruits, among others. The level of collection also increases, around 19,000 pesos as a daily average, a figure higher than previous businesses, and all this without increasing prices, despite the general inflationary environment.

The leasing of the establishments incorporates another measure, which is still in the testing phase, in Ciego de Ávila and Morón, according to which greater autonomy is granted to the management of the market itself, which has transport and can contract for products directly anywhere in the province, as well as in the base business units of Acopio.

Announced in the same Granma article is the possibility of making online sales for which the customer can pay digitally, and then has 12 hours to reach Market 3 (Marcial Gómez, corner of Benavides ) to collect their products in more prominent formats. The objective is to transfer the products purchased in this way to homes, say those responsible for it.

All of these reforms are positive, but they fall short. There is no private property either at the origin of production, or in the distribution markets. Private property grants the necessary independence and autonomy from political power for free and unconditional decision-making by the members of the supply chain, except for the objective of efficiency and profitability. It is necessary to continue the reforms towards the legal and structural aspects that weigh down the economy and lead to the current scarcity and poverty.

The problem of the Cuban countryside, its unproductivity and inefficiency, is not fixed by leaving production cost increases that fall on the profitability levels of the producers, as Murillo has done with electricity, water or airplane transport among others, by disproportionately increasing budget subsidies, with the increase in the additional public deficit that this may entail in a context of high inflation. The Ordering Task has dealt a severe blow to the agricultural sector and these patch-type measures try to mitigate the effects. But they are not being taken in the only area that matters, that of structural reforms.

____________

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

San Isidro Movement Artists Organize a ‘Patria y Vida’ Street Party

Damas Street, in Old Havana, was filled with residents of the neighborhood with a strong police operation remaining in the afternoon. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 April 2021 — At the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) a collective birthday was celebrated this Sunday, planned by the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Damas Street, in Old Havana, was filled with residents of the neighborhood with a strong police operation remaining in the afternoon.

During the celebration, and from loudspeakers placed in the house, the musical theme Patria y Vida was heard, while dozens of neighbors took to the streets and chanted verses of the popular song that has given hives to Cuban officials. The lyrics of the song Héroe by Al2 El Aldeano and Silvito El Libre also played.

From the beginning of the celebration, the headquarters of the MSI was surrounded by police patrols and several uniformed policemen had been harassing the artists since the morning. “If we have to bunker down again, we’ll do it,” said Alcántara, accompanied by rapper Maykel Osorbo and Eliexer Márquez, known as El Funky.

With the collective birthday, Alcántara seeks to bring joy to the children of an area with an economically very vulnerable population. But, the State TV’s official presenter Humberto López warned last Friday that the birthday celebration was a “subversive activity” financed by the National Democratic Institute of the United States. continue reading

From the beginning of the celebration, the MSI headquarters were surrounded by police patrols. (Screen capture)

The police tried to arbitrarily detain Osorbo when he went to the MSI headquarters this Sunday, but the rebellious rapper refused to get in the patrol car. From the failed arrest, he had handcuffs hanging from his wrist as can be seen in the live broadcasts posted through Facebook. Around 9 p.m., Castillo said the artists returned home without being arrested after the unusual protest.

Alcántara expressed solidarity with the hunger strikers of the Patriotic Union of Cuba while calling for all Cubans to do the same. “We are going to focus on Santiago de Cuba,” he said.

At another time they chanted ¡Díaz-Canel, singao! , a song also by Al2 El Aldeano and Silvito El Libre and the song Un Sueno, by reggaetoner El Micha. The images of neighbors dancing and celebrating on  Damas Street  have sparked hundreds of messages of support on social networks in a few minutes.

The day before, both Alcántara and Osorbo were arrested, the first when he bought some children’s books destined to be distributed at the children’s party this Sunday. Several activists who went to the police station in Cuba and Chacón were also detained for several hours.

____________

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

Million-Dollar Bank Deposits Amount to an Illegal Operation by the Cuban Government

At least five people report finding a million convertible pesos in their bank accounts. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, April 8, 2021 — “It’s to cushion the reorganization,” was the response one young businesswoman got from Banco Metropolitano after waking up on Tuesday and finding a million convertible peos, or CUCs, in her bank account. “This doesn’t make any sense to me. A lot of people are complaining about the same thing. I’m really worried,” she says.

Madrid-based Cuban economist Elías Amor raises the possibility that “the Cuban banking system is moving significant sums of money through bank accounts to hide problematic situations in anticipation of an investigation by some of Cuba’s creditors such as the Club of Paris and Russia,” he says.

“It suggests an attempt to hide fortunes amassed by private individuals working for the regime or huge sums of money in some state-owned commercial accounts.”

Either way, it would amount to financial engineering, which he describes as “an illegal operation.” continue reading

This week a dozen Cubans have reported the same experience on social media: unexpectedly large balances in their bank accounts. In at least five cases it was the same figure: one million CUC.

The bank explained it was a “fictitious amount,” warning them not to “touch or withdraw” it, without providing further information.

“That’s what worries me. It’s the equivalent of 24 million Cuban pesos, which translates to [hundreds of] thousands of dollars,” says the young woman. She is also concerned about the possibility of having to pay taxes on a huge sum of money she has not earned.

When she shared her experience on social media, she learned she had friends —most of them artists and private-sector workers — who were in the same situation. “They are all self-employed and all suddenly found they had a third bank account in CUC,” she explains.

“The same thing happened to me yesterday” and “I just took a look at my account and I’m a millionaire” were some of the comments on social media.

“The bank doesn’t notify you in advance that they’re going to do this or send you an alert. It’s really alarming,” replies one of her colleagues.

“I woke up to find a million CUC in my bank account. I reported this to the bank and they told me it’s because of currency unification, that I can’t touch the money. Am I the only one or are there other people like me?” asks someone else on social media.

It’s not the first time a problem like this has been reported. In early March 14ymedio learned of a technical problem that had affected account balances at Banco de Crédito y Comercio (Bandec) and Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA), which operate Transfermovil and EnZona banking apps in various parts of the country. At the time several depositors reported having lost part of their savings while others told of receiving surprising large sums of money.

The official response was a brief message on Twitter that alluded to “some difficulties” in network payment services due to “technical problems” with the Transfermóvil app.

____________

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

Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba Visits the Hunger Strikers

Monsignor Dionisio García Ibáñez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. (Archbishopric)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 April 2021 — The Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García, visited the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) on Thursday to inquire about activists on hunger strike for 20 days, as confirmed by opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer through Twitter.

“We are grateful for the visit that Archbishop Dionisio García has just made to us, taking an interest in the health of the strikers that we encounter at the national headquarters of Unpacu,” the former political prisoner said on the social network.

Ferrer reflected on a decrease in the police operation around his home that seems to have been motivated by the arrival of the religious figure: “But it turns out that they had hidden because Archbishop Dionisio García came to inquire about our health.” continue reading

Ferrer reflected on a decrease in the police operation around his home that seems to have been motivated by the arrival of the religious figure: “But it turns out that they had hidden because Archbishop Dionisio García came to inquire about our health.”

On April 1, Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, sent a message to Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García warning him that in the middle of Holy Week dozens of Cubans were on hunger strike to “demand that the Cuban regime withdraw the police siege around the national headquarters of Unpacu in Santiago de Cuba, stop repressing them and allow them to feed the homeless.”

Ferrer, along with 24 other activists, is currently on the twentieth day of a hunger strike in protest of the repression and constant harassment by State Security towards the headquarters of the Unpacu, in the Altamira district of Santiago de Cuba, which is also his family home.

In its protest, Unpacu also has the support of civil and political organizations inside and outside the island, such as Cuba Decides, the Republican Party of Cuba, the United Antitotalitarian Front, the Pedro Luis Boitel Democracy Party and the Foundation for the Pan-American Democracy. In addition, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, expressed his solidarity with the strikers.

At the beginning of this month, five European deputies sent a letter to the island’s authorities asking for details about the strikers’ health. Dita Charanzová, vice president of the European Parliament, and four other members of the chamber, urged the Cuban government to end the police siege.

Charanzová has stressed on several occasions that the lives of the strikers are in the hands of the Cuban Government, in addition to sending her support to Ferrer and other Unpacu activists, and to all the victims of the repression on the island: “Europe is with you,” she said.

____________

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

Packaging Shortage Leaves Havana Children without Soy Yogurt

The authorities expect to distribute 12 bags per month as soon as plastic is available for packaging. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 7, 2021 — Thousands of children in Havana are once again going without rationed soy yogurt, this time because of a shortage of plastic packaging.

On Monday the news came in the form of two and a half lines in a notice posted on website of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, which attributes the absence of this product — the only option available to low-income families who cannot afford the high prices charged for dairy products at foreign currency stores and on the black market — to a “delay in the expected delivery of polyethylene used to manufacture the packaging.” It suggests consumers use half a kilogram of “smoothie mix,” diluted with water, as a substitute.

“This is an insult. I’ve been coming here all week and nothing. There has to be some other solution,” a mother complained this week at the counter of a local store in the Plaza neighborhood. continue reading

The ingredients in these powdered mixes, whose labels indicate they are made in Cuba, are sugar, whole milk, cocoa and salt. A neighborhood store in Nuevo Vedado was selling the product in bulk due to the unavailability of packaging.

In April, four bags of soy yogurt will be substituted with a ten-day supply of a chocolate product to be distributed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday according the Tribuna de Havana.

A neighborhood store in Nuevo Vedado was selling soy yogurt in bulk due to the unavailability of packaging.

“However, buyers can expect to receive twelve bags of soy yogurt (a one-month supply) as soon as the polyethylene packaging becomes available,” official sources said.

This is not the first time soy yogurt has been in short supply on the island. A shortage in 2015 was attributed to obsolete technology and deteriorating refrigeration facilities. Consumers have complained of its poor quality since it was first introduced in 2003 and its producers have never reached their annual production target of 250,000 tons.

After currency unification at the beginning of this year, its price was set at 1.05 pesos a package.

The smoothie mix is a substitute for the substitute of the original product: milk, which must be purchased with a ration book and is limited to children under seven years of age, people with “medical dietary restrictions,” and patients with illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, HIV and high cholesterol, who can only acquire it through hospitals and designated healthcare centers.

____________

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

Reinvention or Death: Private Businesses Try to Overcome the Crisis in Cuba

A line of people in front of a cafe in Havana’s Vedado district, which is looking for new ways to increase its clientele (14ymedio).

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, March 31, 2021 — If the ball is yellow, the customer gets a discount. If it comes out green, he will also get a free sausage sample. The friendly roulette wheel is operated by an employee of a private cafe in Havana that offers takeout items. Faced with the restrictions of the pandemic, businesses must reinvent themselves or perish.

The young man who fills sandwich orders at El Torpedo, a place located on Calle J Street in Vedado, is halfway between a cashier and an entertainer. “Come on, try your luck and get a head start. The worst that can happen is that you don’t win anything but your options are many,” he enthusiastically explains to customers in line.

Although several yards away there are several other private businesses on the same street, the one with the roulette wheel has the longest line. “I know that anything they might give away is probably already included in the purchase price but I enjoy trying my luck,” says a young man waiting his turn. “And it shows they’re making an effort.” continue reading

The employee spins the wheel and a white ball pops out. “This means that you have the right to try your luck again,” he explains. On the second try, the customer gets 5% off her final bill. Laughter rings out and shortly thereafter a lady wins a free juice. The next buyer hits the jackpot: a package of chorizo pieces to “make some beans.”

Games of chance were outlawed on the island decades ago, so any element of coincidence in the buying process provokes smiles, knowing glances and a certain queasiness in customers who feel like they are “in a casino,” as the experience is described by a woman who is here on Tuesday to buy a Cuban sandwich. “It’s like the bolita [lottery] but legal,” she explains.

A few yards further down, towards the sea, a privately owned ice cream parlor advertises “a free scoop for the price of two.” The upper floor of a big house near the water advertises “a shave and scalp massage with relaxing music.” More emphatic posters with exclamation points appear on doors of several of these businesses, which are now operating at only half capacity because of the coronavirus.

“All our takeout bags are recyclable,” announces one restaurant that makes home deliveries. “We don’t generate any plastic waste so every dish that you buy from us helps save the environment,” reads an ad published on several classified ad sites.

“Back when we were waiting on tables, we knew how to get people to stay longer, order more dishes and have a good time at the restaurant. Now everything is done through a window,” says a worker at El Toke, a place located on Infanta Street in central Havana. “We have less opportunities and have to take advantage of the few seconds we spend with a customer.”

Threatened by a steep decline in tourism, a rise in the cost of raw materials and the economic crisis, Cuban entrepreneurs are getting creative. They are relying on theatrics, informational videos and an endless search for anything that will give them a leg up on the competition. Having an electric scooter helps but knowing something about social networks is even better.

“I never thought I would be able to sell plants without people coming here to see them,” says Roxana, a 41-year-old businesswoman who manages a small garden where she sells succulents. “Buying a plant to keep for your house is something very personal. People come here and spend a lot of time thinking about an orchid or deciding if they should get a ficus.”

After pandemic restrictions were imposed, Roxana and her husband had to restructure their business. “We put together a catalog which you can browse on WhatsApp. If a customer chooses a plant, we send him a short video showing the specimen from several angles. We also provide care instructions. After the sale is made, we deliver it to his living room.”

One carpenter is selling furniture that promises to make people “confortable during the pandemic.” Using a mobile app, customers can choose items “à la carte.” Choices might include a sofa, a bed and mattress, or some wooden armchairs for the patio. “We deliver to people’s homes and anyone who buys a dining table and at least six chairs gets a set of dominoes for free,” he announces.

“We help keep people entertained while they are cooped up at home,” adds the friendly carpenter. If you buy a big bed from me, we’ll give you the sheets. And if you decide on some patio furniture, it will come with some ferns planted in a beautiful pot decorated with colored tiles.” The combinations are endless, seemingly as infinite as the creativity of the self-employed and the long days of the pandemic.

____________

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

Reporter Iliana Hernandez Arrested With Some Friends While Walking Through Havana

The Cuban State Security Agent dressed in plain clothes who detained Iliana Hernandez. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 April 2021 — The independent reporter Iliana Hernández, a contributor to CiberCuba, was arrested this Thursday afternoon in Old Havana, and taken to the Infanta and Manglar station, in the capital municipality of Cerro. Hernández, who is also an activist, was walking with some friends on Obispo Street when she was intercepted by a police officer who asked them to show their IDs and then called for reinforcements.

In a video circulating on social networks,  the moment was recorded when the group, a few minutes after the incident, was approached by State Security agents in civilian clothes and police officers who arrived in a patrol car. They were arrested fter a woman appeared and shouted phrases including: Long live Cuba, Long live the Revolution, Long live Fidel and Raúl, I do defend this Revolution, Nobody will knock it down.

“The boulevard is full of people and he [the policeman] comes to ask us for documentation as if we were doing something wrong,” Hernández is heard saying in the recording. continue reading

“This is an outrage because they want to take us without a warrant,” said Eliecer Romero Pérez, who was accompanying the reporter. Romero also mentioned Article 42 of the Constitution of the Republic , which says that all people “have the right to enjoy the same public spaces and service establishments.”

“Look around you, there are two or three State Security Agents who are here who are watching us, why? Because we do not think the same, gentleman. I do not want anyone dead, I want everyone to live, that is good, that is what I want. And for thinking like that, the police stop us, because we think differently,” added Romero.

Seconds before the woman who shouted several phrases in support of the Revolution appeared, Hernández affirmed: “I want a free Cuba so that these things do not happen and that is why we are fighting.”

“They weren’t doing anything, they weren’t in any demonstration, they weren’t committing any crime,” a close source tells 14ymedio. “And the police went directly to where they were and sent for the patrol to take them away.”

In another video posted on Facebook, Romero appears with Thais Mailén Franco Benítez, who documented how they were taken to the station. According to Franco, they were simply taking photos on Obispo Street when they were arrested.

____________

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

“The Mambises had Machetes in the Fight for Freedom. We have Telephones and Paintbrushes”

Reynier Leyva Novo’s installations, his photos and projects, are a constant reading and rereading of the national memory. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 5 April 2021 — The hero, the high priest, the Revolution, slavery… The controversial issues that Reynier Leyva Novo (Havana, 1983) addresses in his work have made him one of the most important Cuban visual artists of his generation.

Novo’s work, which has been exhibited in Mexico, the United States, Italy, Germany and Brazil, as well as in Cuba, weaves the story together with stitches of poetry, and embroiders, in the poetic, signs that come from the political. His installations, photos and his projects are a constant reading and rereading of the national memory.

Currently, the artist is exhibiting the second part of the show “What Is, What Has Been” at the gallery El Apartamento. It is conceived in two parts. The first, “Neither Marble nor Sighs, The Nation’s Fundamentals”, was exhibited in December.  During these days, the artist prepared the second installment: “Cartography of Freedom, Prison, Economy and Liberty”.

14ymedio: You did not graduate from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA), why?

Novo: I resigned from ISA: I fell madly in love with a girl and I went to Mexico with her, but before that, I presented documents indicating I was sick with hepatitis, and while there, a document arrived at my house stating that I was no longer enrolled due to desertion. Of course, I did not agree with that decision, because I had my medical documents in order, and when I returned, exactly one year later, I submitted a letter of complaint to request re-enrollment and it was approved. A few months later, I voluntarily decided to drop out of school because I felt like I wasn’t learning much. There was a crisis, it was the 2008-2009 academic year, the teachers competed with the students and were almost at the same level as us. The teaching system was very rigid and very precarious. continue reading

A few months later I voluntarily decided to drop out of school because I felt like I wasn’t learning much.

14ymedio: Then, one day you decided not to return.

Novo: I had been in Mexico for a whole year. I visited the great murals of David Alfaro Siqueiros while I was there, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, I had seen the colors, the monumentality of those stimulating works, I had been in their presence. Well, one day I came to a Latin American Art class at ISA and they were teaching Mexican muralism. They began to show these works through faded slides, projected small on the wall. I realized that this had nothing to do with reality and I said to myself: “If this is the case with this subject, it must be more or less similar with everything. Maybe when they teach me some philosophy it will be at this same level”. I made a horizontal parallel line of all the degree subjects and I understood that they were teaching us in a distorted way. I said to myself: ‘I have to get out of here’.

14ymedio: Do you think that Cuban art academies try to impose a pattern of what it is to be an artist?

Novo: There is a part of the school that is very repetitive, you imitate great teachers and nature a lot. In that process there really is not much creativity. I began to create personally around the third year of San Alejandro thanks to a teacher named Rolando Vázquez who gave us more conceptual exercises. In attempting to solve these exercises I began to have ideas of my own. This is how I started in the world of sculpture, to work with space and that type of dynamics, something that was later strengthened at the ISA with research and the theoretical study of creative processes.

There is always a guide, because in the end everything has to do with success. Everyone does something to get to places and people create formulas. In my case, I was quite radical, intuitive. I was a bad student, at that time I was already living in Párraga and I was missing school, I was absent, super late, and it was very difficult for me to get into that rigid space where certain things had to be done. Many times, I would start to go to school and would stray with members of the neighborhood, and I would play rumba as well as talk garbage. That space was also stimulating and creative for me, I always went to drink more from the sources of life itself than from art.

14ymedio: At that time you had already gone through the Tania Bruguera’s Cátedra de Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art School). What did that space mean at that time?

Novo: I was there for two years and it was parallel to my first courses at ISA. The Cátedra was a time of great expansion. Now I see it and compare it with the moment when I opened up to social networks for the first time, when I became a Facebook member, for example, which was a huge expansion, suddenly finding many people who I thought were lost. People who are in other countries are suddenly by your side. Your social body expands because you post a photo, which could be in your wallet or at home, but if you post it on social networks it expands, and the Cátedra de Arte de Conducta was that for me. It was like fragmenting the mind into thousands of pieces, like dynamite, with people coming from all over the world to teach us. That program is most likely one of the best that has taken place in Cuba at the level of artistic education. The environment was completely different from the school, although it was born as an academic project within the ISA.

14ymedio: Throughout your career you have encountered censorship several times.

Novo: I think the moment where I experienced censorship firsthand, raw and frontally, was at the 50th Anniversary Collection exhibition at the Visual Arts Development Center in 2009. Sachie Hernández ran the place at that time. The exhibition was a series of T-shirts, posters, collages with clippings from the Granma newspaper, a commemorative baseball, a collection of stamps, a book; a kind of ideological advertising campaign of about 50 years of the Cuban Revolution.

The wording on the T-shirts and the iconography of the posters had a lot to do with the editorial aesthetics of Granma at that time. The signs I generated with the collages were really strong, politically strident, very confrontational. I remember that on inauguration day, a demonstration for non-violence was held, that Yoani Sánchez was not allowed to get there, and music acts were invented to extinguish any type of demonstration. That day, the Development Center got hot, because people from the march began to arrive and communicated what was happening. Amaury Pacheco and Adrián Monzón were among other artists who were already, in some way, connected with the dissent. The days were warm, the atmosphere was tense. 

They brought an order that said that Los Aldeanos could not sing at State cultural institutions, and I could not do anything

14ymedio: But at what point did the censorship arrive?

Novo: I wanted everything to be a multimedia show, we did visual projections and we had invited several rappers to sing, Los Aldeanos, Silvito el Libre, Maykel Xtremo and Danay Suárez. Everyone but Los Aldeanos was able to participate. It was an explicit censure. I remember several meetings with Sachie and the National Council of Plastic Arts. They brought an order saying that Los Aldeanos could not sing in State cultural institutions and there was nothing I could do.

I tried so that the part that was being censored did not sacrifice the whole of the entire exhibition, although it had already been mutilated. Some posters and collages had to be taken down from the wall, but even so, there was still a majority that wanted them to be displayed. Later, I learned that the pressure on the director of the Center had been enormous and that the State Security had summoned her several times, in addition to some anonymous ones who sent tor her questioning the exhibition. Within a few months, she was officially separated from her position. That was the first chapter of censorship that I experienced.

14ymedio: You were among the artists who protested against Decree 349 and among those who were in front of the Ministry of Culture on November 27th. What leads you to get involved in these causes?

Novo: I have always looked for trouble, perhaps because I raise my voice when I have to because of my sense of justice. In the historic moment that we are living, to ignore what happens is to be part of the problem and I want to be part of the solution. I want things to change because they don’t have to be this way, we live in a country where everything has to be done in a specific way and it doesn’t have to be that way. I think the wrong side is not raising your voice. I feel like I’m in the right place doing what I have to do.

14ymedio: Do you think that this has resulted in a deterioration of your relationship with the country’s cultural institutions?

Novo: My relationship with the Ministry of Culture and with the authorities in power has changed radically, the thing is that I am not interested. I continue to greet all the officials in the same way. I feel that my position is not against them, but against the institution they represent. For some time now, I have not been interested in using Cuban institutions for anything, although they are there for a reason and they could accomplish a completely different job, I think they have closed the doors to me. However, I feel that I can be an institution, and that all of us, together, my group of friends, for example, generate spaces as legitimate as the institutions themselves.

For some time now, I have not been interested in using Cuban institutions for anything, although they are there for a reason and they could accomplish a completely different job, I think they have closed the doors to me

14ymedio: Since launching the song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] a wave of much official controversy has been generated. How do you see the concept of “homeland”?

Novo: The homeland is full of death, because we have built that concept based on sacrifice and heroism, but homeland can also be something else completely different. The concept that has been followed since 1959 has a dark meaning of sacrifice. That is what the Cuban State asks of the people, to sacrifice themselves, that one has to die for the country, but in reality, if you die, the country ends for you, therefore, it is better to live for it.

There is also a very great vice of following things literally and it has a lot to do with the lyrics of the Cuban National Anthem, when it says that “to die for the homeland is to live”. Things must be seen at the time and according to the historical context that was taking place. The Bayamo anthem is from 1867, Cuba was under an iron colonial system and it must be understood that, at that time, Cubans who fought for independence were able to think that way and were willing to give their lives for that independence. They interpreted the motherland as the need to die for her.

Now it doesn’t have to be this way, we are in the 21st century and we have the ability to see things differently. The problem that has been generated with Patria y Vida is because they cannot accept the content and the truths in the song, palpable truths. They do not want a break in their rhetoric brought by people who do not currently live in Cuba, such as some of those musicians who created the musical theme. The homeland space has been circumscribed to the national territory, so if you are outside the Island, you are no longer recognized as part of this homeland, however, this is not so. The homeland is a transnational entity that surpasses the country’s borders, it is within us all the time. The controversy that has been generated around such a beautiful song that promotes something so human is meaningless.

The homeland is a transnational entity that surpasses the country’s borders, it is within us all the time

14ymedio: Many artists of your generation have gone to live abroad, did you choose to stay in Cuba to fight for freedom?

Novo: The Cuban nation owes a debt to peace and freedom. From our small projection space and with our own tools we are fighting for freedom. The mambises had machetes and we have telephones, computers, and paintbrushes. Each one of us, in the circuit of friends we are connected to, is thinking of a prosperous Cuba with freedoms, democratic and open. That Cuba we dream of, the one that should be, and that I believe that in some way we are achieving. I don’t like to think about it all the time because it is like doing a historiography of the present. Sometimes one solves more by washing a plate than by thinking that the plate can be washed in one way or another. The important thing is to get things done, to be here.

I have never seriously considered leaving Cuba, although the reality is getting more difficult every day. There is a great lack of everything, and an overwhelming poverty of spirit and material. I have traveled to many places and I know that you can live differently, but I have always thought that this is where I have to do things and you reach a point where you say: ‘If I am here it is because I have decided to be here, and I am fulfilling a function’. I hope I can fulfill a function.

Translated by Norma Whiting

____________

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

Cuba’s TuEnvio: Close it or Not? The Answer is More Political Than Commercial

Created in 2019, the TuEnvío store became a mandatory platform for thousands of Cubans. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 6 April 2021 — Electronic commerce in Cuba hangs by a thread, but that thread does not depend on its ability to satisfy customers. According to consumers, the TuEnvío platform is unstable and out of supply, but closing it “will never be the solution,” warns a manager.

After more than a year and a half of operation, the main official Cuban online shopping gateway fails to satisfy even the lowest standards. Complaints, criticism and scathing ridicule accumulate in its brief existence, although the authorities clarify that they will insist on improving TuEnvío.

“The alternative would be to resign and say that until the necessary conditions are created there will be no electronic commerce,” acknowledges Héctor Oroza Busutil, president of the Cimex Corporation, one of the key pieces of the state network that must guarantee that what is purchased in the virtual world actually exists and is delivered to the customer.

Created in 2019, the TuEnvío store became a mandatory platform for thousands of Cubans who access the network through national servers and who try to find in this digital commerce site what many times is not available in the network of stores and supermarkets, also managed by officialdom. continue reading

The most recent official statistics suggest that the virtual store has 820,100 registered users and of these, about 192,000 access it each day. Most of these are customers who, every day, try to fill their electronic carts and buy frozen chicken, hygiene products, sausages or soft drinks, among the few products that are sold in the store.

Despite the increase in users after the arrival of the pandemic and the rigors of confinement, the figures, far from encouraging Cimex to make the service more efficient, have served to create a shield of justifications in the face of operational impairments and scarce availability of goods.

The first complaint of users lies in something that the country has been dragging for more than a year: the commercial shortages. As Oroza Busutil acknowledged to the State newspaper Granma, the demand in TuEnvío “far exceeds the supply that, although it has never been enough, in recent months has been even more affected by the unavailability of merchandise.”

Tired of lining and fearful of the crowds where Covid could spread freely, many Cubans dream of clicking and achieving a food delivery at home, but sometimes “the devil is in the details” and the technological solution adds stress rather than reducing it.

“I have my hours to try to buy something and that is why from very early I am trying to be one of the first when they open the digital store,” Lilianna, a mother of a teenage son who lives by reselling products purchased through the commercial portal, tells 14ymedio.

“Many times I do not achieve anything, but since I spent so many hours in front of the screen, I already know some tricks. The customer who arrives new and does not know how this works does not have any chance,” Lilianna emphasizes. “The same thing has happened here as in the stores, if you don’t get up early, if you don’t have a contact or someone to sing the play for you , you don’t buy anything.”

Until last December there were about 20,000 daily purchases of modules, the mandatory product combinations if one desires to buy anything. The goods in greatest demand are mixed with others that nobody wants and thus to buy a bag of detergent you have to pay for a box with a dozen bottles of water or a floor cleaning cloth.

Establishing the obligation to buy the so-called “combos” was an official attempt to exercise equal distribution in a digital market which, in other countries, is governed by the laws of supply and demand. In the end, all the restrictions appear to have favored resellers more than individual buyers.

“From the effects on merchandise in January, they dropped to 15,000 daily purchases, and in the month of March there was a better performance,” said Oroza Busutil, a figure that shows the loss of the initial enthusiasm to buy through the catwalk. commercial but that also contrasts with the anxiety of acquiring products that the economic crisis has brought.

The official also said that, due to the limited availability of merchandise, there is no possibility of resuming the commerce of these stores that allowed users “to access and buy products by departments, as happened at the beginning in TuEnvío,” which is why they sell combos or modules with multiple products.

The shortage of products is not new for Cubans. For years they have lived in an economic crisis that, before the arrival of the pandemic, offered first glimpses of how harsh the current months were going to be. But the technical failures of TuEnvío are infuriating, they emphasize the low efficiency of a system that, far from implementing a good service, always ends in inefficiency.

Internet users complain about the slowness of the platform, blank pages, combos that disappear from the shopping cart and failures in the payment process. “Many times the reason this happens does not lie in the limitations the platform may or may not have, but in the other actors involved, such as the EnZona and Transfermóvil gateways, Redsa and the country’s banks,” Oroza Busutil justified.

Added to this is the fact that Cuban banks “do not have the technology to support that number of requests coming in at the same time.” The official acknowledged that TuEnvío has technical problems and cannot process the thousands of requests, but if this is solved, when purchases “reach the payment channels” there will be a “gridlock.”

TuEnvío is built on a technology that has been in use since 2007, explained Gilberto Luis Díaz, General Manager of DataCimex, to justify the many times that users get ” Error in the server.” However, the official added that “the system has been improved in order to solve these problems.”

The stores have “a server and up to six nodes to manage and balance loads, among other improvements.” They even increased the bandwidth, as he said, a year ago there were 40 megabits and now there are two gigabits.

Granma also reported that Cimex is developing a new platform, “based on technologies of modern programming, which should be ready before the end of the first half of the year,” but the official media itself warned that no improvement or technological change will eliminate “the main problem” in trade: the imbalance between supply and demand.

____________

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