Cuban Government Opponent Yandier Garcia Labrada Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

García Labrada (left) and Mantilla (right) are members of Cuban opposition organizations. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2021 — The activist Yandier Garcia Labrada, of the Christian Liberation (MCL) Movement, was sentenced to five years in prison in a (non-contact) Telematic trial, according to the opposition organization, which denounced the action. On October 6, 2020, García Labrada was arrested when he protested in a line to buy food in Manatí, Las Tunas, on seeing some store employees handling some products “under the table.”

After the arrest, considered “violent”, the members of his family went almost two months without any news of his whereabouts. Since then, García Labrada has been in the El Tipico prison in Las Tunas and, according to a complaint from the MCL, the process and trial were “full of irregularities.”

The prosecutor asked for five years in prison for the crimes of “contempt, attack on authority and spread of epidemics,” a request that was continue reading

confirmed on Tuesday.

Since García Labrada’s arrest, the political police have not stopped harassing his family. His brother, Iran Almaguer, was detained in June for three hours at the police station in the town of San Andrés, where he lives.

The European Parliament denounced the case of Yandier García Labrada at the beginning of June, when it approved a resolution condemning the human rights violations in Cuba. Similarly, the Inter-American Council on Human Rights issued Resolution 5/2021 in January of this year to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of the activist, considering that he is in a serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to his rights.

Another activist who has also been sentenced to prison in recent days is Virgilio Mantilla Arango, founding leader of the Camagüeyana (Cuba) Unit for Human Rights. As reported by Radio Televisión Martí, Mantilla was sentenced last Friday in Florida, Camagüey, to nine months in jail for the alleged crime of “contempt.”

The opponent had previously been arrested on July 16, in the town of Céspedes, where he resides, when he peacefully complained about the lack of medicines and the problems of the health system in that town, according to the activist Jiordan Marrero Huerta speaking to Radio Televisión Martí; Marrero Huerta is a member of the Cuban Christian Democratic Party.

“Virgilio was arrested in the afternoon that day in the polyclinic. The accusation is made by a colonel of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), who says that Virgilio offended him and that he tried to attack him, which is a lie, that could be checked,” Marrero added.

“At the moment Virgilio is in the dungeons of the Florida municipality police station; he has not yet been transferred to Cerámica Roja, a reception center for convicts in the province, and we are waiting to see what decision the authorities will take with the appeal..

Mantilla made a call to Marrero to warn him that if he returned to prison he would declare a hunger strike: “They gave him a minute and a half, and he told me: ’My brother, I am not going to serve an unjust prison sentence again for this dictatorship. I’d rather starve to death’,” said the activist.

Virgilio Mantilla Arango had been released on July 4, after serving a seven-month sentence in the Kilo-9 prison, in Camagüey, for the alleged crime of “hoarding” food. The opponent was arrested after publicly expressing his solidarity with the San Isidro Movement.


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 Health System Has Simply Broken,’ Denounces the OCDH

Corridors of the Julio M. Aristegui de Cárdenas hospital, in Matanzas, where beds are piling up due to the increase in covid cases. (Screenshots / collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 28 July 2021 — Although the numbers on the pandemic provided by the Cuban authorities have only grown so far this year, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), based in Madrid, suspects that they are just the tip of the iceberg. In a statement released this Tuesday, the organization has requested immediate action from the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization in the face of what it considers a hospital collapse aggravated by the lack of medical supplies.

According to the document, medical sources on the ground warn of this extreme situation. “There is no way to treat patients in Cuba, nor supplies as simple as oxygen. It is hard and sad (…) We are dying little by little. Here in Guantánamo we are falling like flies, without words,” two doctors told the OCDH, which adds a lack of staff, beds, pulse oximeters and basic medications to the list of shortages.

In this context, the organization calculates that the mortality data offered by the Government may be far below reality to the point of accusing hospitals of manipulating death certificates. continue reading

“This latest complaint is repeated in all regions of the country. The Government has decided not to mention Covid-19 as a cause in official death documents for hundreds of people. In return, it records that they died of pulmonary thromboembolism or pneumonia,” says Alejandro González Raga, Executive Director of the OCDH.

As an example, the NGO cites the case of Santiago de Cuba, where its sources affirm that a hundred corpses were piled up on the weekend without refrigeration. “They had to look for trucks to take them to the cemeteries, there weren’t even enough coffins. In Santiago they are burying the deceased in mass graves in the Siboney, El Cobre, Juan González and El Cristo cemeteries, due to lack of capacity.”

“None of those deaths are in the official death figures.” The local cemetery, Santa Ifigenia, already had space problems at the beginning of the year and the rise in deaths from covid-19 has aggravated the situation.

Another of the hospitals in which an extreme situation has been detected is that of Ciego de Ávila, “where there are no nurses after eight at night and there is only one doctor covering three Covid wards.”

The organization accuses the island’s authorities of wanting to maintain an image of normality to pretend that the situation is under control, but the reality, they maintain, is very different: “The Cuban health system has simply broken.”

“We call on the government of Cuba to request and accept all international humanitarian aid, and not selectively, as has been happening until now,” they demand.

The complaint comes a day before the authorities have communicated their record number of infections to date. This Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health has reported 9,323 new cases of Covid-19 and 68 deaths.


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.

Lobster and Ground Meat to Calm Tensions in Havana

A line of customers outside a fish store on San Lazaro Street in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, July 27, 2021 — On Tuesday a rare scene unfolded on the corner of San Lazaro and Soledad streets in Central Havana. The fish market on that corner, which had been poorly stocked for months, suddenly had items which generated expressions of astonishment and long lines. Customers saw lobster, ground beef, snapper and processed ham listed for sale on the store’s chalkboard.

“They have so many things,” says a delighted Marcelo, a retiree who lives across the street from the store. “Normally, all they have are some really bad fish croquettes with a lot a flour but very little fish. It’s been a long time since they had anything worthwhile,” he observes while noting the prohibitive prices: “The lobster is more than 219 pesos a kilo.”

“The lobster was not good quality but they’ve already sold out because demand is so high. It flew out of there,” says Marcelo.

“This is all an attempt to calm people down,” speculates Aurora, a resident of Cayo Hueso, who got in line early, hoping for a little ground beef. “Lately, we’ve been seeing products we haven’t seen in a long time so, of course, everyone continue reading

is wondering, if all this was in the warehouses, why they weren’t selling it; if people had to take to the streets to get them to release it.”

After widespread protests on July 11, government officials announced ration card holders would be entitled to an extra two pounds of rice per person. Farmers markets were also set up in Havana neighborhoods where demand has been high, such as La Lisa, El Cotorro and El Cerro. Unlike other occasions when the government tried to tamp down discontent, however, selections are few and supplies are limited.

“I remember one time there were power outages for several days in my neighborhood. After people started painting placards and throwing bottles off their balconies, they sold us canned meat, pastas, candies and even beer. That was when Hugo Chavez was sending over a lot of petroleum but times are harder now,” observes a neighbor of the San Lazaro fish market.

Nevertheless, in spite of the high prices and limited selection, the shortage of recent months has spurred dozens of local residents to join the line outside the store. “They’ll supply us with something this one time, then forget about us again,” observes a customer. “I am definitely going to buy some lobster, even if it costs me a week’s pension, because I want to experience the taste of seafood again before I die.”


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 Registers Highest Number of Daily Covid Cases: 9,323

Havana concentrated most of the positive cases for SARS-Cov-2 with 1,583. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 28 July 2021 — Cuba registered 9,323 cases of Covid-19 this Wednesday, the highest number of confirmed cases in a day since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, according to the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap).

The previous record was from Sunday, when 8,854 SARS-Cov-2 positives were reported in one day.

Health authorities reported today that 68 people died from complications arising from the disease, for a total of 2,560 deaths so far. The total number of infections now amounts to 358,378.

To diagnose today’s patients, of which 19 cases were imported, 51,209 samples were analyzed, according to Minsap. continue reading

There are 84,684 people are admitted to hospitals and isolation centers: 43,593 active cases — 149 critical and 201 serious — plus 37,459 with suspicious symptoms and the rest under epidemiological surveillance.

Most of the cases are concentrated in Havana with 1,583, followed by the western province of Matanzas (1,314) and the eastern province of Guantánamo (936).

In risk areas, including the capital, a health intervention study of the two most advanced formulas of the five vaccines developed by Cuba against the coronavirus is being developed: Abdala and Soberana 02.

The first of these is already a vaccine, the first Latin American anti-Covid vaccine, upon receiving authorization for emergency use after showing an efficacy of 92.2% in clinical trials.

Soberana 02, meanwhile, awaits that authorization by showing an efficacy of 91.2% with a scheme of two doses and an extra of Soberana Plus, another of the compounds that scientists on the island are investigating.

More than 3 million Cubans, out of a population of 11.2 million, have at least one dose of these formulas after clinical trials and intervention studies carried out at the same time as the healthcare one.

Cuba has not purchased vaccines on the international market, nor is it part of the WHO Covax mechanism created for low- and middle-income countries to access them.


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Cuba: A Warning to Latin America

Police officers arrest protesters in front of the Cuban Capitol in Havana on June 11. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, María Werlau/Archivo Cuba [Cuba Archive], Miami, 28 July 2021 — Although the repressive apparatus has controlled the streets of Cuba for now, the regime faces its bankruptcy both economically and legitimately. Among the consequences that deserve attention are the regional implications. Presumably, the Cuban regime, cornered, will increase the subversion of the democracies of the region to distract international attention, keep governments occupied in the defense of their own democracies, and blackmail them with the threat of more violence, as well as to attract resources with the expansion of “XXI century socialism” (Castro-communism).

Since its inception in 1959, the Cuban regime has financed, trained, and coordinated countless individuals, groups, organizations, and political parties to subvert the democratic order throughout the Western Hemisphere, and advance its imperialist plans. Their tactics have always included a set of asymmetric methodologies, such as guerrilla warfare, the formation of cadres for urban mobilization, and clandestine penetration. As of 2019, the coordinated violence unleashed in the region has neutralized collective action against the Venezuelan regime and promoted the expansion of the Cuban-Chavista model.

Our book, Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications, (2019) describes the above and details how Cuba works.

Thousands of agents of the Cuban dictatorship promote its agenda around the world.

The Cuban libretto appears intact over and over again, in the press and on the lips of influential personalities. Recently, it tries to neutralize the damage done by the recent protests by blaming external forces for the lack of freedom and well-being in Cuba. Many people of goodwill adopt this story inadvertently, often lacking information or knowledge. But many are prepared agents, with precise continue reading

The statement that the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry released on July 16 seems to have been written by the Cuban regime, although President Lasso soon corrected his government’s position, to support Cubans who are asking for freedom. According to former Cuban intelligence officer Enrique García, at the time of his desertion in January 1989, Cuba had at least four agents (recruited clandestinely) with the rank of ambassador in the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry. We wonder if some are still in the Foreign Ministry or simply adopt Cuban rhetoric for lack of judgment.

Cuba has an important penetration in all the countries of the region, in the governmental, legislative and military institutions as well as in the mass media, the academic circles and the entire sociocultural and political spectrum. Until 1989, the only exception was Paraguay, which did not have diplomatic relations with Cuba and had managed to contain the Cubans.

Thousands of spies and collaborators of the Cuban dictatorship throughout the world support the gigantic apparatus of disinformation, propaganda and influence of the regime. It is estimated that in the United States alone, the Cuban intelligence services have around 5,000 secret relationships.

It is evident that the best way to defend the freedom of Cubans and of all the peoples of the region is for the Cuban communist dictatorship to leave power.

How can the United States Government help Cubans obtain their freedom?

Many media outlets, analysts, and others have asked us how the Cuban people can be helped to regain freedom, and some members of the United States Congress await suggestions. We present some:

1. Provide or facilitate free internet access for all Cubans.

2. Apply the Magnitsky Law to agents of the Cuban state, which authorizes the United States Government to punish human rights violators, freeze their assets and prohibit them from entering the country. Issue a public statement to announce it and dedicate government resources to identifying the perpetrators.

3. Invite Canada and Brazil to co-lead a multilateral effort that includes the world’s democracies to:

Channel humanitarian assistance of all kinds to Cuba in a way that it only reaches the people directly and through independent groups, entities, churches and individuals, without the mediation of any entity of the Cuban State, and prohibit aid to all entities controlled by the State, including NGOs, as well as members of the Communist Party.

Demand the immediate release of ALL political prisoners in Cuba: those imprisoned before, during, and after the July 11 protests as well as those imprisoned for all political causes and legal aberrations such as the “crime” known as “pre-criminal social dangerousness” and economic “crimes,” such as the slaughter of livestock or the possession of food, medicine and basic products are legally sold only by the State.

Demand a peaceful transition to democracy and, if the Cuban government refuses, take multilateral actions of increasing intensity to press in that direction.

Encourage and help pro-democracy leaders in Cuba to outline, together, a roadmap for a peaceful transition to democracy.

4. Maintain open lines of communication with potential reformists within the Government and the Armed Forces of Cuba to encourage them to support a democratic transition.

5. Lead an effort within international organizations such as the OAS and the UN, through their multiple entities, to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

6. Prioritize counterintelligence resources to monitor and counteract Cuba’s activities in the United States.

7. Report on the threat that Cuba represents to national, regional and global security and allocate more resources to collaborate with the counterintelligence services of regional democracies to counter the work of Cuba and its flag-bearers.

8. Defend regional security, invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance to:

Support the  efforts for democracy in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua with non-war measures.

Discuss urgent collective measures to counteract the regional subversion of democracy and the rule of law by Cuba and its representatives or allies.

Send a message to Russia, China, Iran and all external actors that assisting in the repression of those peacefully protesting for freedom in Cuba will be considered acts of aggression that will have consequences.


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.

Political Police Harass Cuban Journalist Camila Acosta and Her Friends

Camila Acosta has been barred from leaving the country for more than a year.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 27, 2021 — Journalist Camila Acosta, a contributor to the Cubanet news portal, was detained for several hours this Monday in front of the home of her friend Fabio Corchado, who had given her shelter in his house for the last few days. The reporter was trying to persuade the political police to release Corchado’s younger brother, who had been taken to State Security’s Villa Marista for no good reason.

“I’ve been under house arrest since they released me on the 16th and I hadn’t come out. Today I did, at 6:20 in the afternoon, because Fabio Corchado told me that his brother wasn’t answering his cell phone. We were worried because he didn’t show up. When we confirmed his arrest, I went out to speak directly with the security agent who is watching me. They then picked me up and took me to Zapata and C [police station]” the journalist told this newspaper, after being released at 10:00 pm.

“First they took me to the jail, and then they brought me up to interrogate me. The officers told me that Víctor [Corchado] had declared that I gave him a flash memory with some videos of the July 11 demonstration for him to upload, because he works in the Government and has a good [internet] connection,” the reporter explained, describing the words of the State Security agent as a lie, and saying that she believes they are using the brother to pressure Fabio Corchado.

“Now they have the boy in Villa Marista. They already called his mother to continue reading

bring him toiletries tomorrow. What they are doing is pressuring the family to get Fabio out of the house,” said Acosta. He has already been evicted from several rentals due to pressure from State Security, to get him to abandon his journalistic work.

According to the writer Ángel Santiesteban, State Security officials have been carrying out “provocations” since Sunday at Fabio Corchado’s home. The author told 14ymedio that around midnight agents knocked on Corchado’s door to talk to him, and when he refused because it was very late, “they completely shut off his phone line.”

“In the morning they arrested his younger brother, who was only going to work, and then they kidnapped Camila. Now Fabio has asked me, because he doesn’t have internet access, to report that even if they arrest his mother, he is not going to throw Camila out of his home,” added Santiesteban.

Camila Acosta was arrested on the 12th after her participation in the July 11 protests and released on the 16th with a precautionary measure of “house arrest” while the investigation continues. As the reporter explained at the time, the officers intend to prosecute her for the crimes of “disrespect” and “public disorder,” for having recorded videos during the demonstrations.

The journalist has also been barred from leaving the country for more than a year.

Translated by Tomás A.


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

Cuban President Diaz-Canel Hides Behind “Voluntary Work”

Miguel Díaz-Canel has tried to present an image of a modern president close to the people.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, July 27, 2021 — They say that the Díaz-Canel government is not responsible for the national economic disaster. But every day they give us evidence of it. The State newspaper Granma now echoes a report of the communist leader’s day of “voluntary work” in the Havana neighborhood of Fontanar, in the Base Business Unit (UEB) Granja Boyeros, belonging to the Metropolitan Agricultural Company.

Díaz-Canel turned up there to celebrate his own July 26, and to send a message to “the generations of living Cubans whose working days at the foot of the furrow during those seasons we will never forget. They are at the center of all nostalgia, the time to remind us that working with our own hands is a necessity and a privilege that Cuba deserves to have.”

Tremendous. If he believes that, he’s lost. If he doesn’t believe it, he’s a great actor. Those of us who are Díaz-Canel’s age think of volunteer work with anything but nostalgia. It was a coercive nightmare of a regime that forced everyone to think and act in the same way.

Volunteer work was a communist instrument of social coercion implanted at the very beginning of the revolutionary process to divide Cubans. Those who went to volunteer work were continue reading

the favorites, the ones who deserved praise and rewards. Those who freely showed their disagreement were classified as ‘gusanos‘ (worms), enemies of the revolution, and were professionally and socially punished. Castroism was very simple in mechanisms of punishment and reward. Either you were with him, or against him. There was nothing in between.

Voluntary work, linked to the land, failed to increase productivity and procure more food. Quite the opposite. Requiring people lacking agricultural knowledge to work in various tasks, many of them specialized, caused production yields to plummet.

Any responsible politician would have immediately put a stop to volunteer work by observing those indicators, but Fidel Castro, who already had millions of dollars in Soviet subsidies at that time, thought otherwise. And volunteer work was not only maintained, but the specialized Schools in the Countryside were established for high school youth, and UMAP (“Military Units to Aid Production’) farms for homosexuals.

Those were the years of the communist regime’s greatest cruelty, so I don’t know how nostalgically Díaz-Canel should remember those dramas unless he has a masochistic bent.

Granma’s chronicle doesn’t hold back, and presents Díaz-Canel’s workday as a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Yes “a heartwarming morning . . . closing with a relaxed meeting, marked by music, photographs that many young people took with the president, and a joy that is born of mutual understanding, of feeling that they had celebrated, in the best way, a special day in the country’s history.” A way of hiding from the reality of arrests and very summary trials of those who peacefully protested in the demonstrations.

Also, volunteer work is not your thing. And immediately the act came truffled with corporate elements of the regime that is currently immersed in a serious crisis. It is not surprising that the National Coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) and Hero of the Republic of Cuba, the former spy, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, passed by. Whose presence should be interpreted as reinforcing the most hardline wing of the regime to Díaz Canel, the encouragement he needs to continue with the arrests and summary trials of the protesters. There were, of course, allusions to Fidel “who from being an accused went on to become a defender of the people through ‘History will Absolve me'” in an interpretation of historical events as always manipulated and uncertain.

But the best of the gondola ride came when Díaz-Canel wanted to talk about the future.

And that set off alarms, due to its dangerous distancing from reality. The pact with the hardline sector has worked. And instead of Díaz-Canel talking to the Cuban people to resolve the crisis, he shut himself up in the postulates that have led him to disaster. Maybe from sunstroke during the short day of volunteer work. These things happen.

The most surprising thing was that he then mentioned the entrepreneurship of young people, as well as continuing to promote more spaces for dialogue. The usual dialogue, that of “inside the revolution everything, outside the revolution nothing.” He questioned “the difficulties they have been facing in the midst of Covid-19” without providing solutions to them, and proposed “increasing the legal foundation for everything that society undertakes; and continuing to improve our concepts, our culture of public and business administration.”

From so much talk about companies and entrepreneurs, some were left waiting for an allusion to volunteer work, but there was only a reference to “community work that has always been developed in the revolution; to make the socialist state enterprise more efficient; to renew the ways of participation of the population; to renew the role of mass organizations,” while insisting on “eliminating the causes of marginalization, of crime, of vulnerable people and families.”

Then he talked about preventing children from dropping out of school, so that they don’t become criminals, so that young people disengaged from study and work don’t become criminals, adding that “if someone commits a crime, that we have a social program in prison that is capable of transforming them, so that after they leave prison the society is able to assimilate them and they can feel that they are advancing in society and not regressing.”

After citing the features that distinguish us, he introduced the concept of “creative resistance,” not understood as overwhelming, but quite the opposite: “to resist and see how I advance, how I rip a bit out of each problem every day, how I multiply myself, how I grow, how I find prosperity faster for myself and for everyone.”

They have no remedy.

According to Díaz-Canel, creative resistance and unity “are the two conquests that want to fragment us, if they promote hatred, division, if they take away our ability to resist creatively, then they colonize us because we lose our identity.”

Obsessive and outdated ideas that have very little to do with the reality of the times and the demands of a society that is fed up with so much talk, and wants actions, like those demanded by the protesters in the streets of San Antonio de los Baños.


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.

Mexico Will Send Cuba Two Ships With Medical Supplies and Food

SEMAR [Secretariat of the Navy] personnel ready the boats with aid to be sent to Cuba. (Video Capture)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 23 July 2021 — This Sunday, Mexico will send two vessels of the Secretariat of the Navy to Cuba with health aid such as syringes, T-type oxygen tanks with 9,500 liters and mouth coverings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said in a statement.

The shipment also includes foodstuffs — powdered milk, beans, wheat flour, cans of tuna, cooking oil — and diesel. The agency said that the assistance sent is “in line with the Mexican Government’s policy of international solidarity.”

The SRE’s announcement came on the same day that the U.S. government toughened its measures towards the island by sanctioning the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (FAR), Alvaro Lopez-Miera, and the elite military unit known as the boinas negras [Black Berets], who it held responsible for the repression of the continue reading

anti-government protests of July 11 in Cuba.

In them, thousands of people shouted “freedom,” “down with the dictatorship,” and “homeland and life,” in the midst of an unprecedented economic and health crisis, and hundreds of people, including some minors, were arrested.

The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed its opposition to the U.S. sanctions and has called for them to be lifted.

Regarding the embargo on Cuba, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, after participating in a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council in mid-July, said: “The blockade on Cuba and other countries where extreme sanctions are applied are causing serious impacts in terms of suffering and humanitarian conditions that we should all respect.”

With the dispatch of the two vessels, the Mexican Foreign Minister pledged to send more oxygen and Mexican-made respirators, used during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, if needed.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz


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 Foreign Minister Blames U.S. for ‘Terrorist Act’ Against Cuban Embassy in Paris

When Paris firefighters arrived at the embassy, the fire had been put out. (Embassy of Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 27, 2021 — The Cuban Embassy in Paris was the target last night of an attack with several incendiary devices that left minor damage, according to the French capital’s fire department. The Cuban Government, which has described the act as a “terrorist attack,” holds the U.S. Administration responsible for its “campaigns against” the Island.

“Terrorist acts like this are incited by the campaigns of the United States Government against our country, instigating actions and resorting to violence,” the Cuban Embassy in France said in a statement.

The attack took place at the Cuban diplomatic headquarters, located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, shortly before midnight on July 26-27.

Foreign Ministry sources indicated that three Molotov cocktails were thrown: two struck the outside of the embassy and one penetrated it, causing a fire that was put out by mission officials. continue reading

Firefighters and police subsequently went to the scene and reported that “the two devices, which caused minor damage, were extinguished before their arrival.”

Diplomatic staff at the Embassy were not injured.

“We denounce the terrorist attack with Molotov cocktails against our Embassy in Paris. I hold the US Government responsible for its continuous campaigns against our country,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez also said on Twitter.

No one has so far acknowledged responsibility for the attack.

Translated by Tomás A.


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.

Social Media Rallies for the Release of Cuban Who Shared First Live Video Of July 11th Protests

Yoan de la Cruz shared the first live video of the July 11th protests. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 26th, 2021 — Yoan de la Cruz, who shared the live broadcast of the first protests in San Antonio de los Baños that sparked the demonstrations all over the island, was arrested last Friday, according to reports from his family and friends on social media.

“He is my nephew, a really good kid, whose only crime to record from his house the protest that took place July 11th in San Antonio de los Baños. He has been in prison for two days. My sister and we all are having a really hard time jut thinking in what they must be doing to him,” wrote Ivis Cruz, the aunt of the Cuban young man, on Twitter this past Sunday.

Several friends had already started to share the same message, barely a few hours after the arrest, demanding his release on social media, and vindicating his role in the unprecedented protests that have shaken the island in the past two weeks.

“Yoan de la Cruz, Cuban from Ariguanabo, but even more, the courageous young man whom with a cell phone and a few megas, showed the entire world that San Antonio de los Baños might be a small town, but it is full of brave people like him, that are fed up with continue reading

living imprisoned and took on the streets screaming for ’FREEDOM’. Release him now, cowards! You think you’re all so powerful and a young man with a phone on his hands shakes the house of cards where you live.”

Another friend, a transgender known as Vida Bohemia, has also demanded De la Cruz’s release, and considers it a great injustice that a peaceful individual that has not committed any violent crime is in prison. “He didn’t throw a stone, he didn’t break glass, he didn’t assault anyone, he didn’t yelled ’Down with anything’. Please, release him now. He has a mother, a grandmother, a family and thousands of friends that are suffering.”

Jhans Oscar, a youtuber from the LGBTI+ community, echoed the demands of Yoan de la Cruz friends and family, and this past Sunday what was a mere whisper on social media became breaking news in a matter of hours. “The guy who shared the first live video from the protests in San Anthonio de los Baños that went viral has been arrested. Right now he is wrongfully imprisoned by the dictatorship,” denounced Oscar on Twitter.

“We can’t allow anything to happen to him,” added the content creator.

Alejandro Díaz Jerez, a member of the San Antonio de los Baños Facebook group, also posted about De la Cruz non-violent behavior last Sunday, when the wave of protests started in Cuba. “He is not a criminal, he is not a terrorist, let alone a mercenary paid by another country or organization, as the Cuban dictatorship has labeled him. We demand the immediate release of Yoan de la Cruz, and all those unjustly arrested.”

“The thousands of Cubans who marched on the streets last July 11th, and those who continue to protest in Cuba and in more than 45 cities all over the world, are demanding freedom despite the repression unleashed by the cowards in the armed forces. (De la Cruz) is not a discontented homosexual coming from a broken family nor a problematic traitor as the authorities on this island are trying to make you believe. (People protesting) are good people, with families and trying to make a living, tired of the archaic and obsolete, illogical and utterly failed communist system that has only brought us famine, misery, backwardness and major shortcomings. Its been the maximum expression of indoctrination for more than 60 years. Thank God the theater crashed down, and today the entire world knows the true reality of Cuban communism,” he added.

Fifteen days after the protests erupted, the government has not yet released an official list of the people arrested. The news about arrests or people released are just trickling down informally thanks to the amplifying power of social media.

Up until July 26th, the most updated list compiled from Cubalex included 689 people reported involved as detained or missing: 263 with confirmed arrests, 238 under verification process, 152 were detained and released and 36 reported as still forcibly missing.

Translated by: Mailyn Salabarria


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Spanish Ambassador to Cuba Attributes Popular Discontent to the ‘US Blockade’ and the Pandemic

Ángel Martín Peccis, Spain’s ambassador to Cuba. (EFE/Archivo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, July 26, 2021 —  Ángel Martín Peccis, the Spanish ambassador to Cuba, attributed the protests in Cuba to the discontent that exists because of problems in finding medicine and food, a scarcity he chalks up to the pandemic and the “blockade” of the United States that “has lasted 62 years.” The diplomat didn’t want to strictly assess the demonstrations, following the words of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to what the Spanish newspaper Heraldo published this Monday.

Peccis, who arrived in Havana in November 2020 to replace Juan Fernández Trigo, explained that the island’s authorities have prioritized health over the economy, with very early closures when there were hardly cases of coronavirus, which has dealt a blow to the situation for the country and its families.

“Everything has been closed: restaurants, stores, tourism. After nine months of this, added to the blockade from the United States and the new measures taken by Trump, everything comes to a very difficult situation, which we believe will pass when the economy begins to reactivate,” said the ambassador, who believes that all of Latin America is experiencing a very difficult situation because of the pandemic. continue reading

In his statements, which he made during a recent visit to Zaragoza (capital of the Spanish region of Aragon, which he comes from), Peccis asked for prudence from his country’s politicians with the goal of maintaining good relations with the authorities on the island, where Spain has large commercial interests. He believes that the important thing is that the protests be peaceful, “the government can meet with its people and there will be no difficulties.”

In his judgment, “things have already calmed down a lot” and everything “will pass and continue to improve as the economy opens and people are vaccinated.” However, the opening of the economy and vaccination have coincided precisely with the opposite, an increase in infections and discontent in a society that grows more and more tired.

Yes, Peccis wanted to comment on the economic and business perspectives on the island, where, he recalled, Spanish hotels like Iberostar, Globalia, NH, and Meliá continue to invest. “There are going to be new projects that are estimated to begin as soon as Covid is controlled, at the end of the year or beginning of 2022,” he said. In his opinion, the Cuban government is convinced of economic openness and what was before a combination of state businesses with foreign ones will now join a private sector that will generate development.

“I think that it is going to be beneficial for the Cuban population, like is happening in Spain, to be able to have small and medium businesses and be autonomous, which will generate a lot of employment,” he said.

The ambassador insisted that good relations with the Cuban government are strategic and that they have been maintained throughout the years independent of what party was at the head of the Spanish government, as well as the position against the embargo, which is identical and in line with the European Union. Cuba, he maintained, must reform “without interference from anyone to be able to enjoy rights and freedoms.”

The diplomat participated in the forum organized by the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) in Aragon, where the importance of the tourism sector for Cuba and Spain was discussed. Peccis defended the necessity of supplying food to the hotel sector on the island and how this is another business niche for his country. “Just now an Aragonese businessman can put an egg factory in Cuba and sell directly to the hotel sector,” he stated.

Although repercussions of the approval of the Helms-Burton law have in a certain manner frightened Spanish entrepreneurs, the ambassador maintained that there is a “real and legally secure opportunity” to invest in Cuba.

Other business owners participated in the event, including the directors of the company Pastas Romero, which has been exporting to Cuba for 24 years, who explained the manner in which they trade with the Island. Ignacio Santisteve, director of the international department, explained that it’s necessary to be very patient because there are no payment guarantees and consumption is irregular: “You can be waiting for months for government contracts, currency availability, and very regulated administrative procedures to be tendered,” he emphasized.

Nevertheless, their business has doubled since they began operations in the country and for that reason the background of the July 11 protests doesn’t matter to him much, he only hopes that they won’t be an obstacle. “With ongoing orders, we don’t expect to have problems. It’s true that there is a situation of uncertainty. However, we will try to continue taking advantage of the opportunities that this marvelous country continues to offer us,” he added.

Eduardo Monge, commercial director of Pagola Poliuretanos, which sells foam for chairs and mattresses to Cuba and which now seeks to enter the hospitality and construction sectors, also expressed his opinion on the repercussions of the wave of demonstrations this month on the island and believes that changes will come sooner or later. “The protests are an explosion of frustration over the dramatic situation that they have experienced. They have the political system that they have. But that will change. It’s almost inevitable.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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Bad Streak for Cuban Generals: Four Have Died in a Week

Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco was a native of Yara, in the province of Granma. (Government of Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 26, 2021 – Reserve Brigadier General Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco died this past Monday, according to a brief informational note released by the Ministry of the Armed Forces. He is the fourth high-ranking military officer to die in recent days in Cuba; the cause of death was not specified in any of the cases.

The statement with the information, read during the Midday News program on Cuban Television, recounted that Lastres was a native of Yara, in the province of Granma, joined Fidel Castro guerrillas in 1957, and was also under the command of Camilo Cienfuegos in Column Two, which carried out the invasion of western Cuba.

After Castro’s rise to power in 1959, Lastres served as a battalion chief in the fighting against the rebels in the Escambray region, also as an infantry division brigade chief of the Territorial Militia Troops (MTT). He was one of the senior officers who commanded Cuban troops in Angola. continue reading

The body of the general “was cremated and his ashes will be displayed for a family tribute on a date that will be announced in due course,” the note added.

This Saturday the official press also reported the death of Reserve Major General Rubén Martínez Puente, who died at the age of 79. Martínez had been indicted in the United States for the murder, on February 24, 1996, of four members of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, created to help rafters who escaped from the island.

The general was accused of having transmitted Raúl Castro’s order to fire missiles from Mig fighter planes of the Cuban Air Force, to shoot down the planes in which the exiles were traveling. The attack occurred over international waters, though the Cuban government claimed that the planes had entered the island’s airspace.

Last Tuesday, the official media reported the death of Reserve Brigadier General Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo, who was Fidel Castro’s bodyguard in the Sierra Maestra. And On Saturday, July 18, the death of another general was announced, the head of the Eastern Cuban Army, Agustín Peña (b. 1963) from undisclosed causes, but knowledgeable sources indicated that Covid-19 was the cause of his death.

Translated by Tomás A.


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Biden Opposes Cuban Communism

US President Joe Biden during a meeting at the White House on July 12th. (EFE/Sarah Silbiger/Pool)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 24 July 2021 — Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was tortured and killed by the Russian political police in 2009. He had denounced tax fraud for more than 200 million dollars in his native country. They killed him or left him to die in his cell. It’s the same thing.

In 2012, Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, with the support of Republican John McCain, presented a bill to the United States Congress that he entitled “Sergei Magnitsky’s Rule of Law Accountability Act.” It was signed by President Obama. As there is an American tendency to abbreviate the language, they have applied the “Global Magnitsky Act” to the Cuban state and have sanctioned General Álvaro López Miera, Minister of Defense, in charge of the armed forces and the feared Black Berets.

The Russians, led by Putin, have vigorously opposed the globalization of justice, but the trend continues. The idea that “we are the only ones who should judge our own crimes” does not work at all. It generates impunity. England, Canada and the Baltic countries are on board with the “Global Magnitsky Act.” Pretoria is studying it, along with France and Germany.

In any case, the first demand of the Cuban exiles to President Joe Biden was that he restore the internet to the Island of Cuba. It is known that, technologically, the United States continue reading

can do it.

But the second demand, according to María Werlau, the soul of “Archivo Cuba,” was that he implement the Global Magnitsky Act, and it seems that they have listened to her or have concurred. (I don’t know if the people who oppose globalization know that they are playing a game of cards shamelessly marked by Vladimir Putin.)

Many years ago, I received a message from Gustavo Arcos about General Álvaro López Miera. There were the names of other generals in the letter that I won’t reveal. Gustavo was a hero in the fight against Batista and later opposed his former friend Fidel Castro and ended up in jail.

Gustavo asked me to closely follow the figure of López Miera. I did so. He is from Santiago, although born in Havana, the son of Spanish Republicans, who had been semi-adopted by Vilma Espín and Raúl Castro. His father was a professor at the Universidad de Oriente. Supposedly, Alvaro was 14 years old (he was born in December 1943) when he rose up in arms, and then he pursued a military career in the USSR. “Vilma loved him like a son,” those who knew the ties between the two families told me.

I don’t know why Gustavo mentioned this name, but I find him once again accused as a repressor of the human rights of Cubans. For now, I remember Venezuelan General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, former head of SEBIN. He went over to the enemy and the sanctions were lifted. There are two epigraphs that justify that wonderful Jordan. One is “genuine repentance” and the other, because, at the request of the President of the United States, it is convenient for National Security. I don’t know which of the two criteria were applied to the Venezuelan general. Perhaps both. Anyway, there is no doubt that the sanctions exist to be eventually lifted.

There won’t be an American invasion against Cuba, despite the wishes of the Cubans inside and outside the island, unless the resistance inside Cuba provokes a generalized massacre, abundantly filmed. Faced with these facts, for humanitarian reasons, American society can be dragged into combat, but it’s very difficult for it to happen. Not even Donald Trump ordered an intervention against Nicolás Maduro, despite having flirted with “all options are on the table.” Trump was playing to scare Maduro, but he didn’t talk seriously with his generals about the possibility of destroying the Venezuelan armed forces from the air, something that would have been very easy.

This outcome is only possible if the US takes seriously what is happening in Latin America and creates an organization like NATO in its hemisphere, but I don’t see the slightest intention of implementing political decisions with full force. Nor is there, in this part of the world, a will to defend democracy like the one observed in Europe, where the United States is forced to bomb the Serbs or Libyans from the air. We are used to living with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia and soon we will get used to Mr. Pedro Castillo in Peru.

That doesn’t mean that the Cuban regime is getting away with it. Despite what AMLO in Mexico or Mrs. Cristina in Argentina shout, the protests on July 11 and 12 have served to deny the dictatorship any significant support. The obscene images of young policemen and communist militants dressed in civilian clothes, arriving in buses and equipped with bats and sticks to silence the opposition, are unforgettable. That happened throughout the island.

Although the protests were drowned in blood, the few investments that will flow will be, for the most part, unholy money. No serious and law-abiding person will want to mix with that small world of criminals.

We are very close to the end. How will it come? In the same way that the revolt of mid-July began. Unexpectedly. But it will come.

Note: This translation is from Montaner’s own blog.

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Cuban Political Police Claim the Power to Vaccinate

The first few minutes with the young medical student were very uncomfortable. She was looking at her cell phone and I was looking at mine. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 23 July 2021 — Last night I was thinking over and over again that when morning dawned I would have to go to the doctor’s office to receive the third dose of the Abdala candidate vaccine. It would not be a problem for anyone to walk a hundred meters and receive an injection, but for the past 13 days I have had a State Security officer guarding the entrance of my house and preventing me from leaving.

This morning, at 9:40, I tried to leave my house but, when I reached the ground floor of the building, the policeman got up from his chair and repeated, mechanically: “You can’t go out.”

“Today I have to receive my third dose of Abdala so I must and will go out,” I replied. But the agent does not understand explanations. It was like trying to convince a wall. “If you have to go to the office, wait for me to call the patrol right now to take you,” he said.

“There’s no way I’m getting into a police car as if I were a criminal,” I replied. “Then I will go with you,” he answered.

The doctor’s is one block away, I opened the door of the building and went out. The man walked beside me, commented on the weather, and at fifty meters he told me that we had “different ideals.” I didn’t continue reading

answer him.

At 9:45 a.m. I arrived at the doctor’s office, a small room with several chairs and, in the same entrance, a table where a young second-year medical student had the task of taking the blood pressure and temperature of all those who arrive, before registering the name on a spreadsheet.

I asked who was the end of the line, a man answered me and I sat down. The young student told me that it was also necessary to wait at least ten minutes for the person to recover from the exertion of the walk. As I sat down, the officer approached the girl and said something in her ear, she got up and looked for the doctor. The upshot of that conversation was that I was told to walk past the dozen or so people who were waiting.

Annoyed, almost ashamed of having to skip the line, mostly elderly, I went to the doctor who asked for my identity card and vaccination card. After a few brief questions, he jabbed my shoulder with a syringe while I was still dumbfounded and annoyed. Then I was left to wait in another room for an hour to monitor any adverse reactions.

But State Security has its own protocols that do not obey medical or scientific logic. A few minutes after being there, the policeman burst into the room and said: “No, let’s go to your house now.”

The doctor ended up giving in to his pressure, gave me back the documents and again I walked the short distance that separated me from my house, with that impertinent shadow to one side.

Before entering the elevator, the police officer had the nerve to try to make amends for the violation of my privacy and the disrespect he had committed toward the health regulations: “Sorry for the bad time I put you through,” he said, while I was just thinking about my two daughters, trusting that their mother had only gone to “get a jab” and that I would return as soon as possible.

No sooner had I entered my apartment and without being able to process all that, they knocked on my door. On the other side were the State Security officer, the nurse, and the young medical student who had received me at the vaccination center. They asked me if it was possible to “monitor” my physical situation at home. The two women came in.

The nurse left and the first minutes with the young woman were very uncomfortable. She was looking at her cell phone and I was looking at mine. I offered her coffee but she declined, she says she doesn’t like it and she brought her thermos with water. We don’t talk much, we barely exchange a few words, cordial, routine. At 10:45 am the nurse came to pick her up and they left.

The State Security officer is still on the ground floor of the building, and I don’t know how many more days he will stay. Outside at the corner there is a patrol car ready in case I break out in an attack of rebellion and try to leave, despite the warnings. This is the context that surrounds me since July 11 when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to ask for just what I need now: Freedom.


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Open Letter From a Swedish Citizen to Miguel Diaz-Canel

The Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in his television appearance on July 11. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Hans Lunell (Letters from Readers), Stockholm, 26 July 2021 — I am writing this letter from Sweden, one of the most developed countries in the world as it is free, democratic and capitalist. You live in one of the poorest and most unsuccessful countries in the world since there is no freedom, it is totalitarian and communist.

I do not write “president” because you were not elected but appointed, so you do not have any legitimacy as president. Nor do I write “doctor,” as I have not seen your thesis and I cannot judge if you deserve that title; I fear not. But “sir,” yes, this I can write, at least to identify your sex.

I am writing to you as a lover of Cuba for its climate, its nature, its architecture (what remains), its traditions, its music and its friendly people. But not  for its government, a government that has not been elected and therefore has the same lack of legitimacy as you. Everyone knows that the so-called elections in Cuba are just a sham.

You were named in 2018 as the crown prince of a country already bankrupt and torn to pieces by more than half a century of bad government. Since you took office, you have not been able to do more than increase poverty and misery in your country. However, the time has come to choose the future path. You have two options and the one you choose will decide how you will be remembered by your children, your grandchildren, your family, the Cuban people and the whole world. It is not a decision, then, to be taken lightly.

You can follow the same path as until today and you will be remembered as a puppet, a coward, a simple messenger carrying out the orders of those above. In other words, a buffoon who is becoming continue reading

more ridiculous and less dignified every day. This path is the path of repression, that of a totalitarian and tyrannical system that has already proven futile for many years, a system that brings misery to the people and fills the pockets of people who are already dying.

The other path, on the contrary, is that of a Bolívar, a Martí, a Gorbachev, with whom you can be remembered as a liberator, a hero, the man who opened the doors to a better future for his country and his people. It is the path to freedom, democracy, the market economy. It was the way of Cuba before the Revolution, when the Island was one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America.

To embark on this path, here are some tips:

First, review and change the Constitution, especially all the articles that refer to communism, Marxism, socialism and other similar denominations, including the idea of ​​the one party.

Second, call a fair referendum to set the new Constitution.

Third, allow the formation of different political parties and let them establish themselves with leaders and free programs.

Fourth, allow a campaign open to all parties on equal terms.

Fifth, allow elections with all parties and allow international organizations to monitor them.

Sixth, accept the result and let the winners form a new government.

It may be that there are some elderly generals and other hierarchs who do not agree with these measures. Then take them prisoner. There is always some Cuban law that can be applied. And if there is no room in the prisons, release all political prisoners. You will have a lot of space.

Do you have the courage to undertake this path?

Think ahead, not only for your country, but also for yourself. How do you want to be remembered by your children, your grandchildren, your family, the Cuban people and the whole world? With contempt and shame or with admiration and pride? The time to choose has come and it will not be repeated.


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.